4/27/21

Sibson: reporter Vondracek is a lying piece of shit


Mitchell's white christian nationalist and erstwhile Republican blogger Steve Sibson has emerged from his burrow to forecast civil war—again. 

Sibson is a 'special' case, if you get my drift. A perennial loser, Sibson suffers from paranoid delusions and acute depression. Sibson's Religionist Right is resisting parts of Common Core because the standards stress human influence on climate change, genocide of Indigenous by colonizers, gender equality and social justice but Sibson just wants control. In 2019 Sibson wrote that the Anglo-Saxon global establishment wants to destroy America but now some in his extreme white wing of the Republican Party want to restore Anglo-Saxon supremacy.

Lake Mitchell is a eutrophic shit hole dying in the wastes of industrial agriculture and subsidized dairies but Sibson would rather attack reporter Chris Vondracek. How Sibson's employer Toshiba is not part of the Chinese globalist establishment remains a mystery. 

Misogyny and domestic terrorism define the extreme white wing of the Republican Party so South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem preaches fascism and authoritarianism. Herr Trump is a career criminal who conspires with Russia and stunted America with a vindictive assault on trade with China. Mike Lindell is simply another caricature of the aging GOP.

According to just released US Census reports Mitchell, Spearditch and Rapid City are among several horrible towns in South Dakota to have lost residents. Mitchell repeatedly polls as the worst town in the chemical toilet, perpetual welfare state and permanent disaster area that is South Dakota.

I don’t follow Vondracek on twitter anymore because he chooses not to follow me back.

Taneeza Islam is a lawyer and human rights advocate who advances communitarianism, not fascism. 
On April 17, this paper ran a deceptive hit piece against Governor Noem written by Christopher Vondracek.
He characterized Noem’s statement that the November elections were rigged as “false claims of a stolen election”. On April 20, Mike Lindell released a documentary titled, “Absolute Interference” on frankspeech.com that included the testimony of a credentialed cybersecurity expert who validated 19 cyberattacks that originated from communist China that flipped over a half million votes from Trump to Biden in five swing states that Biden won. Without those 19 attacks, Trump would have won the election and would still be in the White House and confirms the election was stolen by communist China.
Then came many executive orders signed by the puppet dictator, including those that have now created an assault on our southern border. Noem’s tweet said, “South Dakota won’t be taking any illegal immigrants that the Biden Administration wants to relocate. My message to illegal immigrants…call me when you’re an American.”
Vondracek deceptively took the tweet out of context by saying, “she told refugees looking to seek asylum in the United States — long a right under federal law — to ‘call me when you're American.' Noem was speaking to “illegal immigrants”, not those legally trying to seek asylum. Vondracek’s deception also used a letter by Taneeza Islam that admitted, “These are children seeking refuge in our country through a legal process – asylum.”
Again, Noem was referring to “illegal immigrants”, and not legal refugees. Vondracek used Islam’s letter to call Noem’s “post part of a pattern of ‘racism and bigotry.’”
Islam has worked for at least two Muslim Brotherhood organizations whose purpose is to destroy the United States. On November 27, 2017, I asked Islam if she would denounce the Muslim Brotherhood and their support of Hamas. She ducked the question.
Earlier in 2017, Islam tried to cancel Shahram Hadian, whose family were refugees from Iran, from coming to Sioux Falls and explain why he converted to Christianity. Islam is a bigot who does not support all refugees.
Why is this paper deceptively promoting the anti-American agendas of communist China and Islamic fascism?
Steve Sibson 

4/25/21

Noem, Bayer team up to poison South Dakota


No evidence of pine beetles, this East River grove was likely killed by an herbicide.

The number of acres in 'agroecosystems' has tripled since the 1940s but poor ag practices like tiling have made soils unable to absorb rainfall creating toxic runoff and flooding. In Iowa voluntary buffer strips and other conservation practices have simply failed desertifying parts of the state and causing the Raccoon River to be named one of the most endangered waterways in the United Snakes.

President Joe Biden has established a task force to determine the social costs of carbon and has required federal agencies to immediately begin applying their findings in their regulatory actions and other decision-making. 

South Dakota has joined with other mostly red states to resist the Biden initiative in what they say is federal interference because with guidance from the Koch Machine Republican Governor Kristi Noem has learned how to raise money from the extreme white wing of the Republican Party so she’s a pro now. 

In 2018 Earth killer Bayer gave South Dakota Republicans some $8000 including $1500 each for Noem and now-disgraced Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Bayer's Carbon Program program pays farmers up to $9 per acre for implementing climate-smart farming methods such as no-till, strip-till or cover cropping, which help sequester carbon in the soil. “Through our Carbon Advisory Panel and meetings with growers, we’ve heard from farmers that they appreciate the simplicity of the program, which allows them to focus on what they do best – raise a crop,” said Leo Bastos, head of carbon business model with Bayer. [Tri-State Neighbor]
Digging into Bayer's plan reveals the deadly truth: it wants to sell fungicides, pesticides and access to proprietary technology to farmers. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been analyzing pesticide data from the federal Department of Agriculture and the results are alarming. 

Particularly concerning is Imazalil, a carcinogenic fungicide that can alter hormone levels especially in children and adolescents. It was detected last year on 90% of citrus not grown organically in the United Snakes. DCPA, sold under the brand name Dacthal, was banned in Europe in 2009 but is still widely used in the US on kale and other greens as are neonicotinoids, pyrethroids and some 20 other pesticides. Also banned by the European Union are the organophosphate insecticides acephate and chlorpyrifos that can harm developing brains but the Trump Organization refused to block chlorpyrifos from being used on US produce. High levels of glyphosate, a known endocrine disruptor, are also found in oats, chickpeas and corn sugars. 

These findings come at a time when Republicans in dangerous red state legislatures, including South Dakota's, are targeting kids. But South Dakota Republicans don't want schools to even talk about the causes of gender dysphoria. Why? Because their campaign dollars come from white christianists like the Family Heritage Alliance, the LGBT-bashing Family Research Council and especially the hate group that calls itself Alliance Defending Freedom.
 
Republican welfare farmers are the real ecoterrorists who hate subsidies unless they benefit from them. Kristi Noem and Mike Rounds have taken federal handouts amounting to nearly $5 million.

Learn more about the "spectacular failure" of voluntary conservation and human risks to American waterways linked here.

4/24/21

Apsáalooke Nation will test cannabis sovereignty

In June, 2020 the Montana Democratic Party endorsed legal cannabis, New Approach Montana and its allied advocates spent some $2.3 million imprinting the state's two initiatives in voters' minds and got their measures legalizing cannabis on the state's November ballot. Montanans then approved two measures allowing adults over 21 to possess an ounce of cannabis and own four plants. Changes in statutes also allow people serving jail terms to apply for re-sentencing or an expungement of a conviction. 

The statute went into effect in January but if the law enforcement industry has its way Montanans won't be able buy cannabis at a retail outlet until at least October because it says the state already has a drunk driving epidemic. 43% of all traffic deaths in Montana involve alcohol, the highest in the nation. Studies on impaired driving due to cannabis are mixed: Colorado has shown a slight increase in traffic fatalities linked to cannabis but Washington State has not.

Today, Montana's Republican-glutted legislature is making sausage of Initiative 190, the ballot measure 57% of voters passed to legalize cannabis and Democrats want to amend the bills to align more closely with voters' wishes. White Republicans fleeing cultural diversity in California and Oregon have inundated much of Montana bringing their conservative closed-mindedness and the commitment to environmental degradation with them. The new Republican governor is from New Jersey and the state's Trump-worshiping lone congress member is from Maryland.

So, despite Republicans messing with the wills of voters the Apsáalooke Nation will wean itself from coal and move forward on building a cannabis industry.
The Crow Nation Legislative Branch approved the Crow Cannabis Ordinance on April 16. All sales of marijuana and cannabis-infused products will be sold through the Crow Tribal government, according to the legislation, with every sale taxed at 7%. Thor Hoyte, legal counsel for the Crow Tribe, said both the Chairman and other tribal leaders have been in conversation with the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. Although the tribe is paralleling the state, both the chairman and Hoyte said it is operating as a sovereign nation without any need for permission from state authorities. As to possible interference on the part of federal law enforcement, Hoyte said the benefits far outweighed the risks. [Billings Gazette]
In March, the city council in nearby Hardin unanimously denied the application for a therapeutic cannabis dispensary

Learn more at the Helena Independent Record.

4/23/21

Report: Pautre Fire was good fire

After a century of destructive ranching practices invasive grasses infest northwestern South Dakota but in the aftermath of the Pautre Fire a Republican US Senator added additional layers of bureaupublicanism to fuel treatments driving the cost of prescribed fires to over $2000 an acre. 

The cost to We the People for managing the 2013 blaze was about $1 million. No livestock was lost and there was minimal damage to fences. There were no injuries and the only structure lost was a derelict rural schoolhouse. 3,519 acres of federal and 7,160 acres of private property were cleared of invasive grasses.

The US Forest Service knew an advancing cold front would aid the clearing of foot-high grasses and mowed a fire break instead of using a disk to make a fire line because disturbing soils can allow the infestation of plants that had been introduced by European settlers in the 19th Century. Snow showers ended the fire. According to Forest Service records an employee in the federal government misspelled “Pasture” as “Pautre” and the name stuck.

A lawsuit claiming $50 million in compensation for the Pautre Fire was not only frivolous, it was reckless in its hypocrisy. Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison and cervids would be clearing the grasses that drive prairie fires.
The researchers found no change in plant species composition, but they did see an increase in bare ground and reduction in litter the year of the fire, but no differences the following year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Station in Miles City, Mont., assessed the impacts of the fire on forage production. The researchers found the fire actually increased forage production more than 50% during the year of the fire. They also found grazing two months after the fire increased production the highest the following year. Research at the Central Grasslands Research Extension Center also has shown that April fires have no negative effect on forage production, and grazing one to two months following the burn increased new growth when rotationally grazed. [Farm Forum]
91% of fire departments in the chemical toilet are staffed by volunteers in a state where old Republicans are giving up the ghost yet Governor Kristi Noem is boasting she has recruited some 600 white supremacists to be cops but won't commit to prescribing burns or bolstering fire departments. Volunteers are mopping up after the Highway 20 Fire near Buffalo.

The Schoeder Fire outside of Rapid City is not believed to be a weaponized wildfire and local departments are pleading for the tools to react to an impending outbreak of wildland fire. 

Today and tomorrow are perfect days for emergency managers and well-funded local volunteer fire departments in South Dakota to be burning road ditches creating buffers for later in the developing wildfire season. But that won't happen because South Dakota has no effective leadership and it’s cheaper to bill the feds after a wildfire than it is to conduct fuel treatments and more expeditious to litigate forgiveness than to ask for permission. 

Learn more about why prescribed burns are so wrapped in red tape and costs are so much higher after the Pautre Fire linked here.

4/21/21

Today's oxymoron: sustainable agriculture



Okay, it's the home of far too many old, fat, white people already; so, why would any business locate in The Peoples' Republic of Brookings anyway? Because South Dakota's lack of environmental oversight has everything to do with offshore and out of state investors in economic development initiatives. 

Let's see: the city owns a research park, the hospital, the liquor store, the water, the phone company, the power company, an entertainment venue, the golf course, it's home to South Dakota's largest public university and a federally subsidized cheese and dairy industry. Socialism, right?

Little wonder the Big Sioux River is a sewer of biblical proportions. 

South Dakota's dairies are wreaking habitat havoc all along the state's border with Minnesota and like most of the state, southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa are Republican strongholds where dairies, swine units and other concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have devastated water supplies by contaminating wells with nitrates. Now, because of environmental degradation driven by CAFOs officials with the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS) want to expand output from its current 45 million gallons per day to 60 million gallons per day.

Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry and now a socialized internet are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine.

Bel Brands is a French cheese maker milking Brookings County.
“It’s not only about what we do, but how we do it.” That’s the take Jean-Michel Dos Remedios has on a new pilot program Bel Brands is kicking off at three South Dakota dairies. Three dairies who deliver milk to the Brookings plant that makes Baby Bel snack cheese will start tracking sustainable farming practices used in growing feed for their milk cows. While it’s one thing to have a sustainability goal and a plan for reducing environmental impact, putting hard numbers to those efforts is another. The three participating dairies couldn’t be named, he said, but the number of participating dairies will grow over the three-year pilot program. [Tri-State Neighbor]

Image: the death of rural America is a given because agriculture without subsidies and immigrants is unsustainable.

4/20/21

Industrial cannabis gears up in South Dakota as New York growers abandon it

According to Katie Sieverding a few people will try to grow industrial cannabis in the chemical toilet that is South Dakota but reminds interested parties they must apply through the newly created Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Industrial cannabis (hemp) seeds with decent cannabidiol (CBD) producing genetics are a buck apiece costing about $50,000 to sow 20 acres. One grower gets $5 a seed, a pretty spendy investment for any farmer but putting any cannabis industry into the hands of a few oligarchs is stupid policy. 

This crop is not the benign introduced species it’s cracked up to be and stray pollen from the hemp industry can wreak havoc on producers of therapeutic and “recreational” cannabis. Medicine and a potential revenue source are being put at risk by an experiment that makes Jerusalem artichokes and Belgian endive look like safe investments.

Before planting just one and a half acres Minnesota grower Phil Reed hired Luis "Lulu Magoo" Hummel as a consultant whose own crop tested above the .3% THC threshold which led to criminal charges so attorney's fees keep the industry a gamble. 

But in New York growers are leaving hemp and eager to take part in the state's legal adult cannabis market. Last month, New York became the second-largest state to legalize for all adults after California with retail sales expected to begin as early as next year.
Half of the licenses are supposed to go to “social and economic equity” applicants, which would include financially distressed farms. But the five-member board governing the new Office of Cannabis Management has yet to be appointed. [Farm Forum]
Learn more at WNAX radio and at KELO teevee.

4/19/21

Earth haters in red states less likely to get vaccinated



Indigenous Americans and reservations have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country yet rural white, conservative christians would rather get sick and die.

Make no mistake. 

In 2020 Donald Trump and Republicans like Kristi Noem targeted Indian Country for annihilation. Since 1993 Donald Trump used the federal courts to punish tribal nations who built casinos he said were competition so his administration slow-walked resources to reservations effectively deploying COVID-19 as a biological weapon in Native America. His Tulsa trip and the Sturgis Rally in occupied South Dakota spread the virus throughout the country. It's called ethnic cleansing even genocide elsewhere but in Noem's South Dakota it’s called MAGA.

The faster Earth hating Republicans die the better off America is.

4/18/21

Tatewin Means: Indigenous must free themselves from colonial institutions

Tatewin Means is from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota, Oglala Lakota, and Inhanktonwan nations and is the daughter of the late Lakota activist, Russell Means. She is Executive Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation and is running for Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education from Area 2.
In the effort to create educational systems that are free of white supremacy, the church, whiteness, and settler colonialism, we are shifting the narrative in Indigenous Education to recognize that our languages and lifeways are, and have always been, our educational system. TVCDC believes that in order to create a school founded in our language, lifeways, and philosophy, we can not depend on anyone to do it for us. We want and desire a place where our children can openly and freely be Lakota in every aspect of their mind, spirit, body, and life. We are doubling down on the liberation of our children. [A Continuing Legacy of Lakota Liberation]
Although the term “socialist” wasn’t widely used until the nineteenth century it's of little consequence as it has existed in its purest form for nearly all of human history. Collectivism is arguably the most important feature binding every surviving human culture on the Earth today yet modern purely socialistic societies have struggled with longevity. Why? Probably because US capitalists have warred against any and all efforts at pure socialism around the globe since it was defined in the modern sense even as those wars are bankrupting America today. 

One reason Republicans don't like Common Core history standards is that the curriculum long-ignored by textbooks includes genocide and near-extermination of American Indians by European colonialism. It's estimated christians have slaughtered over 100 million Indigenous people since landing in the New World. Capitalism has destroyed hope in Indian Country where throughout herstory family and community have been more important than money and consumerism for countless generations. Indigenous cultures lived in collectivist economies long before migrating to this hemisphere. 

In South Dakota white people steal money slated for American Indian education and murder their families when the jig is up then place a complicit attorney general at the head of the investigation. Native journalist, Tim Giago has even called for a boycott of South Dakota. 

NDN Collective has announced that an Indigenous-led community based school in Rapid City is expected to open in Fall, 2022.

4/16/21

Leadership void forcing South Dakota counties into reacting to wildfires instead of prescribing burns

If you live in the wildland-urban interface government can't always protect you from your own stupidity. Volunteer fire departments are irreplaceable as first responders to unexpected blazes and policy makers should convince Congress to make sure the resources are there to sustain rural firefighters. 

Today and tomorrow are perfect days for emergency managers and well-funded local VFDs in South Dakota to be burning road ditches creating buffers for later in the developing wildfire season. But that won't happen because South Dakota has no effective leadership and it’s cheaper to bill the feds after a wildfire than it is to conduct fuel treatments and more expeditious to litigate forgiveness than to ask for permission. Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison and cervids would be clearing the grasses that drive prairie fires.

91% of fire departments in the chemical toilet are staffed by volunteers in a state where old Republicans are giving up the ghost yet Governor Kristi Noem is boasting she has recruited some 600 white supremacists to be cops but won't commit to prescribing burns or bolstering fire departments.

The cause has yet to be determined for the Schoeder Fire outside of Rapid City but local departments are already pleading for the tools to react to an impending outbreak of wildfires.

Learn more about red state failure at KEVN teevee.

4/15/21

Today's intersection: Noem turns away refugees as South Dakota homefront falls apart

Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has national political ambitions yet her home state is reeling from increased homelessness, elevated pandemic infection rates and more deaths from automobile crashes. 

And, while she publicly denounces refugees her own cabinet is offering multiple language services to those suffering under her thumb even as nurses in South Dakota are the second worst paid in America and the state’s medical industry triopoly operates without scrutiny. 

The Big Sioux River is so polluted the call for volunteers to clean it up is falling on deaf ears. 

As young people and Democrats flee South Dakota more brown people are doing the work in the failed red moocher state. Spanish speakers prop up the federally subsidized dairy industry East River but in Huron Karen refugees slaughter and process turkeys.

Learn more here, here and here.

4/13/21

Treuer: national parks should be returned to Indigenous hands

It’s been over forty years since attorney Mario Gonzalez filed the federal court case stopping payment of the Black Hills Claim award to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Gonzalez contends that the commission charged to make peace with tribes inserted language into the Fort Laramie Treaty signed in 1868 that Red Cloud had neither seen nor agreed to in negotiations. Today, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has passed resolutions condemning what they say are abuses of the General Mining Law of 1872 that led to the Custer Expedition's discovery of gold in the Black Hills. 

The South Dakota Democratic Party should advocate for paying the tribes and settling the Black Hills Claim, dissolving the Black Hills National Forest, moving management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move. 

Rewild it and rename it He Sapa or Paha Sapa National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge connecting the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana along the Missouri River to Oacoma, South Dakota combined with corridors from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north and south to the Pecos River through Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. 

David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother.

America’s national parks comprise only a small fraction of the land stolen from Native Americans, but they loom large in the broader story of our dispossession. This land grab bled at least another 90 million acres away from the tribes—roughly equivalent to the 85 million acres that comprise America’s 423 national-park sites. When describing the simultaneous creation of the parks and Native American reservations, the Oglala Lakota spiritual leader Black Elk noted darkly that the United States “made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller.” All 85 million acres of national-park sites should be turned over to a consortium of federally recognized tribes in the United States. (A few areas run by the National Park Service, such as the National Mall, would be excepted.) The total acreage would not quite make up for the General Allotment Act, which robbed us of 90 million acres, but it would ensure that we have unfettered access to our tribal homelands. And it would restore dignity that was rightfully ours. [Treuer, Return the National Parks to the Tribes]

Photo: bison clear invasive grasses at Wind Cave National Park.

4/12/21

Amtrak service is not impossible across South Dakota

A rail switch on the former Milwaukee Road at Stamford in occupied South Dakota

Watco Companies owns some 43 shortline railroads in North America and Australia but in Chicago the firm has been accused of environmental racism after the US Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of manganese, lead and arsenic in the soil on the city's Southeast Side. Chicago is a notorious railroad bottleneck where spills of toxic materials are myriad. 

Despite those revelations the State of South Dakota has sold the former Milwaukee Road right of way from Mitchell to Rapid City to Watco instead of deeding it back to the tribal nations signatory to the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. Based in Pittsburg, Kansas Watco's biggest customer is Koch Industries, a major campaign contributor to Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and her whims. 

Before it was ousted the Trump Organization's Department of Transportation headed by the wife of Republican former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell awarded more than $5.6 million in grants to upgrade infrastructure and enhance rail safety in the red moocher state that is South Dakota including $2.24 million for the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern mainline. The move comes after catastrophic plunges in commodities prices, numerous wrecks and water breaches on track owned by RCPE, a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming operating just north of the former Milwaukee line on a nearly parallel trackbed. Kevin Schieffer knew how impossible it was to maintain track between Fort Pierre and Rapid City and cashed in when Genesee and Wyoming bought the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.

Recall that in 1997 South Dakota got $23 million for going without Amtrak service so then-Gov. Bill Janklow funneled much of it into the Governor's Club and in 2007 Gov. Mike Rounds spent some of it on an airplane for his personal use. Now, Gov. Noem is using it to campaign for issues and candidates for the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. So today, South Dakota is the only state where Charles Koch has been able to thwart passenger rail and the only state in the continental United States without a proposed Amtrak station. 

In 2015 I called an RCPE executive who said that the line between Crawford and Dakota Junction, Nebraska connecting to Rapid City is active and hauling bentonite south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and to Union Pacific. She said that although there is virtually no westbound shipping over the line between Wolsey and Rapid City, South Dakota or Colony, Wyoming the State of South Dakota subsidizes enough siding development, money that the state receives from the federal government through the transportation bill, that shipments of one-way freight allow the railroad to cash flow. 

The railroad is content to move product at ten miles an hour between Wall and Fort Pierre where Cretaceous shale buckles track bed every year. She also said RCPE has no intention to secure leases for new rail bed from Colony to the Powder River Basin coal fields and that the railroad won't transport coal across South Dakota. When asked she could not say whether the company's parent, Genesee & Wyoming is talking to that state or its residents about leasing the relatively short distance from Colony to its rights on the BSNF main line near Gillette. 

New Mexico's GOP representative voted with the state's Democrats for final passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015. South Dakota's Republican At-large Representative now Gov. Kristi Noem voted for an amendment that would have ended federal funding for Amtrak as did Montana's GOP At-large representative, Ryan Zinke, even as they voted to continue subsidized air service. 

A 2015 multi-modal intercity passenger rail plan proposes a route between Minneapolis and Denver that would serve just Sioux Falls in South Dakota but connect with the California Zephyr at Omaha as part of a Phase Two development. The Pierre Shale between Oacoma and Rapid City is a major obstacle and is why passenger rail across South Dakota failed but two east/west rail routes across South Dakota exclusively for freight is lunacy. In addition to the money the federal government is spending the State of South Dakota is throwing some $20 million at the RCPE so it can haul whatever freight it wants.  

As rail coal traffic dies Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and the Big Sky Rail Authority have moved ten counties to restore the North Coast Hiawatha line through southern Montana after Amtrak ended service in 1979. 

One solution to bring Amtrak to South Dakota is an intermodal route between Minneapolis and Denver through Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Crawford and Alliance, Nebraska. It involves three or more rights of way: the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railway, the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad, the former Milwaukee Road and maybe the Union Pacific. The sale of the old Milwaukee Road to Watco is not a done deal and would have to go away. Watco is buying 285 miles of track. At 6 acres per mile of right of way they are paying about $7602/acre. Why? The sale is intended as a slam of Warren Buffett who owns the BNSF in favor of the Koch Network, nothing more. 

But the bridges across the Missouri and Cheyenne Rivers on the Milwaukee Road are junk so are the ones across the Cheyenne and White Rivers on the RCPE south of Rapid City. The Milwaukee Road terminates at East St. Pat and Elk Vale Road in Rapid City so a depot there has merit but the purchase of a right of way from there to the RCPE and its route south to Dakota Junction in Nebraska would have to happen. There is an abandoned track bed between Crawford and Torrington, Wyoming that could serve Cheyenne: a destination on Amtrak’s Front Range expansion timetable.

The US is not China; we can’t build rail lines anywhere we want to because the state can't just seize land without due process. The unhinged South Dakota Legislature is largely a product of ALEC because the Koch network has billions stashed tax free in South Dakota banks. To them passenger rail is socialism.

My home town of Elkton is the first South Dakota town on the east end of the old Chicago and North Western. In 1997 I considered shipping the salvage oak flooring from the Showboat Ballroom in Lake Benton, Minnesota to St. Onge west of Sturgis where there’s a siding. Stamps in the rail there are from 1898. The first town on the south end in South Dakota is Ardmore where I almost bought property that includes a siding on the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe. 

A water pipeline from the Missouri River to Rapid City would cost some $2 billion and tear up several hundred miles of unbroken high plains but passenger rail connecting the Midwest to mountains in existing rights of way is doable progress.

But here’s the dealio. If an existing track bed between Oacoma and Rapid City can be salvaged and made good enough for passenger rail it admits the geology is stable enough for a tar sands pipeline. Measures must be taken not just to prevent collisions with motor vehicles but with wildlife, too.

Look on the bright side, South Dakota. It's not in President Biden's rail plan but if someday Amtrak connects the Southwest Chief at Pueblo or Trinidad, Colorado to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver there might be a depot at Edgemont. 

Shafai lands Republicans in more pay-to-play building schemes

Yes, socialized agriculture, socialized dairies, socialized cheese, socialized livestock production, a socialized timber industry, socialized air service, socialized freight rail, a socialized nursing home industry, a socialized internet and now socialized gas well remediation are all fine with Republicans in South Dakota but then they insist single-payer medical insurance is socialized medicine. 

Hani Shafai is going to build the new VA facility. Future Fund recipient Shafai has plucked myriad cushy plums in Pennington County and has showered Republicans with generous campaign contributions. Shafai gave thousands maybe millions to the Governor’s Club and received millions from the Future Fund. Revenue generated with contractors’ excise tax goes into the Future Fund which became Mike Rounds’ slush fund of choice as a pay-to-play tool. Rounds showered some $75 million on cronies without ever disclosing who they were.

The 2015 Governor’s Club Pheasant Hunt photo is a Who’s Who of Republican crony capitalism. In the middle standing beside Gov. Denny Daugaard is Hani Shafai. In 2016 Shafai's President's Plaza development project collapsed. In 2018 Muslim Shafai hosted a fundraiser for Dusty Johnson and offered to 'give back' land to the tribes that was seized from them after the Fort Laramie Treaty was abrogated by Congress and gold discovered in the Black Hills. Hani Shafai, Denny Sanford, Frank Farrar, the Husteads, Stan Adelstein and Neal Wanless come to mind as the few individuals who are subject to the estate tax in South Dakota. 

Shafai's name keeps popping up in searches into the scandal surrounding the Daugaard/Children's Home Society campaign donation circle culminating in the disappearance of Serenity Dennard.

How this culture of corruption scandal is not racketeering remains a mystery.



4/11/21

Indigenous Americans resist Noem's tampering with history

Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish in South Dakota schools? Sure, that's cool; but learning where students are steeped in American Indian languages is giving the next generation of Natives opportunities to preserve their heritage.

Revisionist history turned the Wounded Knee Massacre into a battle but Senator Mike Rounds (NAZI-SD) said he won't vote for the Senate companion to the Remove the Stain Act that would rescind Medals of Honor for twenty war criminals responsible for the slaughter of children, women and men in 1890 at Wounded Knee in occupied South Dakota. Recall Rounds called for the abolition of the Obama Department of Education because it recognized humanity’s role in climate calamities. But he and the South Dakota Republican Party are hardly the only racists in the colonized American West.  

Despite a University of South Dakota study that shows the state's electorate is far less nuts than the legislature is the extreme white wing of the Republican Party still wants to rewrite history.  But, even the president of the Sioux Falls school board who is married to the son of a former Republican governor is resisting moves by Governor Kristi Noem to whitewash the attempted eradication of Indigenous Americans from South Dakota.

One reason Republicans don't like Common Core history standards is that the curriculum long-ignored by textbooks includes genocide and near-extermination of American Indians by European colonialism. In South Dakota white people steal money slated for American Indian education and murder their families when the jig is up then place a complicit attorney general at the head of the investigation. Native journalist, Tim Giago has even called for a boycott of South Dakota. 

NDN Collective has announced that an Indigenous-led community based school in Rapid City is expected to open in Fall, 2022.
The school opening comes largely in response to the long standing opportunity gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students that has gone unrecognized and unaddressed for decades, with no sustainable solutions at the local, state, or federal level. Indigenous students in South Dakota are among the lowest in terms of graduation, achievement, and mobility rates, and are disproportionately and more harshly disciplined in schools than their non-Indigenous peers across the country. The school will function as a way to begin building true equity for Indigenous students in the educational system, and its curriculum will connect Indigenous youth to Indigenous culture, languages, ancestral knowledge, history, and traditional ways of life. [Native Sun News Today]
Learn more about Noem's assault on history linked here.

4/9/21

ICWA case likely headed to SCOTUS


The State of South Dakota seizes about 750 American Indian kids every year reaping over a billion federal dollars since the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed. In 2011 NPR took on the Daugaard Administration in a three part exposé. I have direct personal knowledge of those horrors and South Dakota's long history of racism is glaring under the media microscope again. 

Pennington County's behavior has been called shocking and Democratic former US Senator James Abourezk even urged the federal government to sue the State of South Dakota after the Guardian published a long piece on the thousands of American Indian children seized by the South Dakota Department of Social Services. 

According to attorney Kate Fort ICWA is constitutional.
Therefore, if nothing happens at all (remember, I’m not future speculating), then none of this applies till June 1. Second, I believe the parts of the decision that the majority agrees on is applicable only in the Fifth Circuit. There’s very little legal substance here. I think it’s revealing to read the attempt at remedy in Judge Duncan’s opinion–as had been argued repeatedly, nothing this court decided would redress the harms claimed by the plaintiffs. [Fort, Brackeen Decision Summary
The case is likely headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Learn more at Bill Janklow's idea of public radio and at Native News Online.

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4/7/21

Crevier would christianize Brookings Council

In the 1980s many in the Crevier clan left Lincoln County for my home town of Elkton to escape Minnesota's commitment to reproductive rights and to exploit South Dakota’s regressive tax structure. Two deeply religionist Crevier women married into prominent catholic Elkton families: the Nelsons and the Hegerfelds.

Third of twelve kids Isaiah Crevier grew up near Elkton 'homeschooled' by his christianic parents then became a chiropractor with a practice in Brookings. Today, he wants a seat on the Brookings Council. His cousin, Dan Nelson, is the Brookings County State's Attorney. Both sit in the extreme white wing of the South Dakota Republican Party. 

Allen Unruh is an Elkton boy: his family was run out of town after his father, also a "chiropractic physician," was caught molesting children during exams at a time in South Dakota history when quacks enjoyed intimate physical contact with boys to determine who would participate in school sports. You see this all the time with Talibangelicals: someone threatens to out one as a serial molester, he runs an op-ed in the paper then diverts some cash he raises from sermonizing wedge issues to shut up the people he's raped or groped. 

Think of it as the Bill Cosby Effect: the more sanctimonious the speech the more cash gets raised to hide career criminal behavior. It does make one wonder if all the chiropractors in South Dakota are intellectually incompetent or just thugs. Fred Deutsch and Jeff Monroe want to end women's civil rights, Scott Munsterman groped at least one teen and Allen Unruh wants to rewrite history by leaving Native genocide and human-caused climate change out of school curricula. These are "pro-life" people who rabidly embrace state-sponsored killing of persons convicted of capital crimes.

Comment below is from a lifelong friend from Elkton whose sibling is married to a Crevier after I asked if she knew the subject of this post. Note he isn't wearing a face covering in the above image lifted from the Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program.
I'm finding it futile and maddening. Actually was out Sioux Falls last weekend for some family trust stuff. On my way home, did a quick visit with my Aunt in Pipestone and then up to Elkton for a cemetery visit. Had a nice virtual (!!!!!) chat with Dad & Mom & Harriet & Larry [her folks are buried near mine at St. Mary's Cemetery outside Elkton]. Knowing how much better off they have it with their heavenly perspective. Thank God, cuz Dad turned into a HUGE brainwashed FOX believer at the end. And then for nostalgia, stopped at the Knotty Pine for a bite. BUT seriously had to come home and take a shower. Just cringy to be around that many hateful & heads in the sand or buried so far up their ??? can't see sunlight.... Republicans. 🤮 Oh and when I drove thru Elkton, lots of cars around church [Our Lady of Good Counsel in Elkton], so put my mask on and went in. It was PACKED with 5:00 pm Palm Sunday service. NO ONE HAS MASKS. 😤😖 I turned around and walked out.
In South Dakota local control is Republican control. Learn more about the crusade to christianize Brookings County linked here.

More cannabis news: Montana moves closer, Grand Junction legalizes

Montana's Republican-glutted legislature is making sausage of Initiative 190, the ballot measure 57% of voters passed to legalize cannabis but Democrats want to amend the bills to align more closely with voters' wishes.

After blocking cannabis sales since 2011 Grand Junction, Colorado had a come to Jesus moment and legalized.

Here in the Land of Enchantment supporters are lauding legalization as a way to diversify New Mexico’s economy, bring in tax income and address inequities left by the war on drugs while balancing the state's water crisis with growers.

Learn more herehere and here.

4/6/21

Schweitzer calls out Montana's nut wing

It's been said countless times that The Last Best Place is not Oregon (even though the states show commonality in the white nationalist bloc) and elects Democrats with Blue Dog credentials. Both Senator Jon Tester and former Governor Steve Bullock believe that with vigilant environmental oversight they would support TransCanada's tarsands enema beginning in Montana. Montana's Left has a hard-on for what it perceives as Democrats being GOP-lite who have deserted progressive ideals just to woo centrist voters.

Democrat Brian Schweitzer was governor when this scrivener was living in Montana but after leaving office he chose not to run for the US Senate allowing raving lunatic Steve Daines to win the seat. The sometimes bombastic but widely-liked Schweitzer became chairman of the board of Stillwater Mining Company, Montana's largest revenue producer. 

In 2020 South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy attempted to buy an additional 25% share of Colstrip Unit 4 in eastern Montana for a dollar. It owns 30% now. South Dakota, of course, has no corporate taxes and banks there hoard trillions for an exclusive set of Republicans.

Today, the Montana Legislature is at least as demented as South Dakota's and the state's Earth hating governor has even contracted the Trump virus.
Senate Bill 266 would nullify a contract signed between private companies in Washington, Oregon and South Dakota doing business in Montana. These companies signed a private contract between themselves 14 years ago to maintain an aging electric-generating power plant in Montana. The South Dakota company doesn’t want to abide by the contract with its partners. So they got a state senator (who is the son of a former prominent executive of the same company) to propose a bill that would exclude the experienced owners of the power plant from trusting the advice of the mechanical and electrical engineers who have run the plant for 35 years. A fine mix of Socialism and Crony Capitalism to match Russian President Vladimir Putin. SB 379 would put hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of the same South Dakota company by taking the money from the pockets of Montana families and businesses. [Guest opinion, Brian Schweitzer]
Utilities are not your friends.

Above image belongs to Steve Brodner.

4/4/21

Apeshit croaks

I began playing in Jerry 'Apeshit' Apa's illegal poker games in the basement of the Bodega in Deadwood somewhere around 1985. It was a seminal time. The late Mike O'Connell was a founding father of legal gambling in the Gulch and every time Apa would go on tilt in a poker game Mike would shout, "he's gone apeshit!" The name stuck. 

Lead is where if two people get divorced they're still father and daughter and unfortunately (or not), Lead doesn't have a pot to piss in because the bulk of its taxpayers are lining up with their walkers or lying on gurneys awaiting their turns for the various cemeteries splattered throughout town. The residents are obese, white retirees from somewhere else who fled cultural diversity in their own states taking advantage of South Dakota's regressive tax structure and are now returning in their RVs after the strings below-zero days. 

Too many Lead residents are local high school dropouts who married their sisters, are strung out on meth somewhere and are only paying taxes through video lootery, Mickey's malt liquor, cigarettes and fuel. 

A former legislator and Lead mayor, a lifelong Earth hater and member of the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers, Apa's scathing indictment of South Dakota Republican Party leadership and its ownership of SD Game, Fish and Plunder helped kill a state land grab in Spearditch Canyon.

To his credit Jerry was the only South Dakota politician who ever seriously considered my plan to build an ice climbing park in the Open Cut.

Apa died on April Fools' Day. He was 80 and was preceded in death by his son, Jason. Funeral arrangements are pending. 

Learn more about Apeshit Apa linked here.

4/3/21

South Dakota second worst pay for nurses

Few policymakers dispute the reasons educated people are fleeing my home state of South Dakota. 

The state's governor is a reactionary cracker. Infrastructure is crumbling. Industrial agriculture is smothering wildlife habitat. Churches are girding for gun violence. Meth has replaced alcohol as the state’s drug of choice. Pierre’s culture of corruption and attacks on kids have ended open government. Native wildlife are being exterminated to make way for disease-ridden domestic livestock and exotic fowl. Jails far outnumber colleges. Bankers continue to enslave landowners and the state’s medical industry triopoly operates without scrutiny. 

Yet, South Dakota is most lucrative state to practice medicine so why isn’t there a regulatory body like the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to regulate medical care costs? Because the state is a corporatist tax haven for an exclusive set of Republicans while over $3 trillion languishes in South Dakota banks.

Any registered nurse with at least half a brain will leave for Minnesota, Colorado or the Southwest the instant they graduate so the work force in South Dakota just gets stupider and more Republican. The only worse state for nurses to work is Alabama. In fact, 21 of the bottom feeder states are all red and the best paid nurses work in blue states!

The mother of my daughters, the Odd Goddess of Basin and Our Lady of the Arroyo are all registered nurses, so are neighbors and friends Tim, Micki, Lisa, Matthew, Leslie, Maria, Joan, Lori and Sarah. Each one loathes Trumpism as does every other medical professional they know who will never, ever vote for a Republican again. 

4/2/21

Game, Fish and Plunder resumes native wildlife slaughter to protect invasive pheasant


The Chinese ring-necked pheasant isn't wildlife but it is a canary in a chemically and genetically engineered corn mine.  

Over a hundred native species in South Dakota are at risk to the Republican Party including the endangered pallid sturgeon, paddlefish, black footed ferret, northern long-eared bat, the black-backed woodpecker that feeds on bark beetles and a bird that actually walks underwater - the American dipper, just to name a few. Threatened by the increased conversion of native prairie to cropland the most endangered plant in the chemical toilet that is South Dakota is the white-fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) found mainly in tallgrass prairies west of the Mississippi River. 

The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the South Dakota Republican Party destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.

Blend the slaughter of apex predators, the resulting rise of mesopredators, increasing numbers of domestic dogs and cats then stir in a melange of industrial chemicals with climate change and voila: red state collapse on parade!

Kristi Noem is the Michele Bachmann of Bill Janklows. 

Learn more about Game, Fish and Plunder's slaughter of native wildlife to aid a fragile invasive species linked here.

4/1/21

New Mexico legalizes!

 


Koch trumps Amtrak expansion in South Dakota


Watco is buying 285 miles of track in South Dakota. At 6 acres per mile of right of way they are paying about $7602/acre. Why? 

Watco Companies owns some 43 shortline railroads in North America and Australia but in Chicago the firm has been accused of environmental racism after the US Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of manganese, lead and arsenic in the soil on the city's Southeast Side. Chicago is a notorious railroad bottleneck where spills of toxic materials are myriad. 

Despite those revelations the State of South Dakota has sold the former Milwaukee Road right of way from Mitchell to Rapid City to Watco instead of deeding it back to the tribal nations signatory to the Fort Laramie Treaties of 1851 and 1868. Based in Pittsburg, Kansas Watco's biggest customer is Koch Industries, a major campaign contributor to Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and her whims. 

Building two east-west rail systems exclusively for freight in South Dakota is lunacy but South Dakota's duplicitous legislature intends to spend $20 million on enhancing the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCPE) west of Fort Pierre anyway. The train can’t go any faster than 10 MPH between Fort Pierre and Wall because the geology destroys the rail bed every year. 

Before it was ousted the Trump Organization's Department of Transportation headed by the wife of Republican former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell awarded more than $5.6 million in grants to upgrade infrastructure and enhance rail safety in the red moocher state that is South Dakota including $2.24 million for the RCPE mainline. The move comes after catastrophic plunges in commodities prices, numerous wrecks and water breaches on track owned by RCPE, a subsidiary of Genesee and Wyoming operating just north of the former Milwaukee line on a nearly parallel trackbed. 

Kevin Schieffer knew how impossible it was to maintain track between Fort Pierre and Rapid City and cashed in when Genesee and Wyoming bought the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad.

Recall that in 1997 South Dakota got $23 million for going without Amtrak service so then-Gov. Bill Janklow funneled much of it into the Governor's Club and in 2007 Gov. Mike Rounds spent some of it on an airplane for his personal use. Now, Gov. Noem is using it to campaign for issues and candidates for the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. So today, South Dakota is the only state where Charles Koch has been able to thwart passenger rail and the only state in the continental United States without a proposed Amtrak station. 

My home town of Elkton is the first South Dakota town on the east end of the old Chicago and Northwestern. In 1997 I considered shipping the salvage oak flooring from the Showboat Ballroom in Lake Benton, Minnesota to St. Onge west of Sturgis where there’s a siding. Stamps in the rail there are from 1898. The first town on the south end in South Dakota is Ardmore where I almost bought property that includes a siding on the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe. 

In 2015 I called an RCP&E executive who said that the line between Crawford and Dakota Junction, Nebraska connecting to Rapid City is active and hauling bentonite south to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and to Union Pacific. She said that although there is virtually no westbound shipping over the line between Wolsey and Rapid City, South Dakota or Colony, Wyoming the State of South Dakota subsidizes enough siding development, money that the state receives from the federal government through the transportation bill, that shipments of one-way freight allow the railroad to cash flow. The state owns the right of way. 

The railroad is content to move product at ten miles an hour between Wall and Fort Pierre where Cretaceous shale buckles track bed every year. She also said RCP&E has no intention to secure leases for new rail bed from Colony to the Powder River Basin coal fields and that the railroad won't transport coal across South Dakota. When asked she could not say whether the company's parent, Genesee & Wyoming is talking to that state or its residents about leasing the relatively short distance from Colony to its rights on the BSNF main line near Gillette. 

New Mexico's GOP representative voted with the state's Democrats for final passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015. South Dakota's At-large Representative Republican Kristi Noem voted for an amendment that would have ended federal funding for Amtrak as did Montana's GOP At-large representative, Ryan Zinke, even as they voted to continue subsidized air service. 

As rail coal traffic dies Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and the Big Sky Rail Authority have moved ten counties to restore the North Coast Hiawatha line through southern Montana after Amtrak ended service in 1979. 

A 2015 multi-modal intercity passenger rail plan proposes a route between Minneapolis and Denver that would serve just Sioux Falls in South Dakota but connect with the California Zephyr at Omaha as part of a Phase Two development
Look on the bright side, South Dakota. If Amtrak connects the Southwest Chief at Pueblo or Trinidad, Colorado to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver there might be a depot at Edgemont. The unhinged South Dakota Legislature is largely a product of ALEC because the Koch network has billions stashed tax free in South Dakota banks. To them passenger rail is socialism.

Learn more about Kristi Noem's commitment to red state failure linked here.

Photo: a rail switch on the former Milwaukee Road at Stamford in occupied South Dakota.