7/31/22

Weaponized wildfire: Russia opening Arctic as military advantage

Ash and soot from wildfires in the Siberian taiga are accelerating the loss of Arctic sea ice driving more frequent and deeper polar vortexes
Each site is treated like a crime scene. Photos are taken. Interviews conducted. Samples collected. All of the evidence will be used, "to punish the aggressor in the international courts," says Oleksiy Obrizan, the task force's chairman. Scientists have advocated for strengthening international law to make it easier to hold countries accountable. Last year, an independent panel of international lawyers launched an effort to better define ecocide — or as they put it, "unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused" — under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Wildfires in Siberia and the broader global Arctic have an outsize impact on the world's climate. Scientists believe nearly half of the world's peatland-stored carbon — carbon that's been locked away by permafrost and frigid temperatures — is in the Arctic Circle. Wildfires unlock that carbon, releasing more greenhouse gases that worsen global warming. They also blanket snow and ice with black soot, making them melt faster. [NPR]
Wetlands are being destroyed for cropland, livestock demands on water supplies dwarf the needs of cities, global biodiversity is threatened, Arctic ice packs are disappearing, humans are breeding less nutritious food and pesticides are killing native pollinators.

7/25/22

SCOTUS, red states threaten military readiness as Airbnb wades into medical services debate

Republicans love capitalism as long as the Department of Defense doles trillions to places like western South Dakota and southern New Mexico so killing actual children with drones or B-21 bombers doesn’t get reported at right wing media outlets and they don’t dare to call it murder if they do.

We rent our casita through Airbnb and it's available free of charge for two nights to people who travel from red states to New Mexico and choose to terminate their pregnancies at clinics in Santa Fe or Albuquerque but we don't offer it publicly in our listing.
One New Mexico-based host who included pro-abortion rights language on their listing received an anonymous threat against the safety of their family. The host subsequently removed the language from the listing but hopes Airbnb partners with a reproductive rights organization to offer help. “I hope that Airbnb collaborates with them in order to make this possible AND safe,” they said. [Airbnb Hosts Navigate Legal Maze Amid State Abortion Bans]
Republican politicians drive their anti-woman crusade to raise campaign dollars so ending reproductive rights in red states is Balkanizing women's health care. States that ban women from going out of state for their procedures or medications are violating the Commerce Clause enumerated in the United States Constitution. 
Recognizing the importance of a woman’s right to make choices about their reproductive care, Airbnb’s health care provides women the coverage they need to be able to make such decisions. 
First, we will offer financial support to any Airbnb Host who is implicated under Texas Senate Bill 8 and faces legal action and expenses as a result. 
Second, we have made a contribution to reproductive health organizations, including Planned Parenthood. 
And third, we will work to support those employees whose ability to make choices about their reproductive care may be impacted by the Texas law. [Airbnb supports the reproductive rights of women]
New Mexico is the political inverse of my home state of South Dakota. It's where after the lopsided Supreme Court of the United States aborted Roe v. Wade women are still free to exercise their reproductive rights because Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Respect New Mexico Women and Families Act that repealed the 1969 state statute banning some medical procedures. In New Mexico Medicaid covers abortions and even transportation in rural areas to get to clinics in Albuquerque. 

Ellsworth Air Force Base contracted medical services to Rapid City Regional a long time ago so which will it be: a B-21 bomber base or is a state law targeting pregnant people jeopardizing military readiness? TRICARE pays for some abortions chosen by military personnel so after Kristi Noem becomes Ron DeSantis’ Veep choice will a Governor Larry Rhoden sue to overturn a winning ballot measure codifying Roe?

7/24/22

Ramen factory will produce pesticide-laden product in South Dakota

Every ag product, meats both wild and domestic not grown organically in the United States is contaminated with atrazine, neonicotinoids, glyphosate, dicamba, DDT, mercury, lead, cadmium, PFAS, E. coli, Imazalil plus other toxins and pathogens. 
Glyphosate was detected in all of the wheat-based foods. Pasta samples contained glyphosate at levels ranging from 60 to 150 parts per billion. Increasingly, glyphosate is also sprayed just before harvest on wheat, barley, oats and beans that are not genetically engineered. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. [Environmental Working Group]
In 2015 the City of Belle Fourche applied for and received federal money to build an industrial park beside track owned by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad even though former Belle Fourche mayor Todd Keller scoffed at the boondoggle. And, 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. 

Now, a California capitalist wants to bleed the little South Dakota town of some of its municipal water and a wad of DC supplied cash in a state where environmental protection isn’t even a thing.
As Albany Farms was looking for a U.S. location for a new ramen noodle production plant, it honed in on a site “right in the middle of 21,000 square miles of the very best wheat that grows on the planet,” said Lyle Rogalla. He said the plant will need the equivalent of about 80,000 acres of wheat annually. It could be either hard red winter wheat or hard red spring wheat. [AgWeek]
Just imagine the joy of driving from Rapid City, Spearditch, Gillette or Hulett and back for work in a fucking ramen factory every day for $15 an hour especially during South Dakota's eight month winters.

7/23/22

Utilities still bilking home-grown grid-tie solar


Utilities are not your friends. 

In 2012 the San Marcos Cafe & Feed Store built a photovoltaic system that produces about 40kW. Arrays like theirs are rapidly becoming ubiquitous throughout New Mexico especially now that the community solar program has become law. Solar gardens connect multiple residents to electricity without installing their own modules, charge controllers, inverters and batteries. New Mexico is ranked third for solar power potential.
Under the regulations, community solar facilities must have a capacity of no more than 5 megawatts of alternating current, and at least 10 subscribers, with a single subscriber able to be allocated no more than 40 percent of generating capacity. At least 40 percent of the total generating capacity must also be available in subscriptions of 25 kilowatts or less, and at least 30 percent of the electricity produce by a community solar facility must be reserved for low-income subscribers. [Carlsbad Current-Argus]
Xcel Energy is responsible for part of the methane bubble over the Four Corners area. In 2015 the Minneapolis-based utility even sued to prevent the hookup of a solar generating station for a Minnesota company and enjoys frequent rate hikes from the South Dakota Public Utilities Cartel (SDPUC). Several utilities are based in South Dakota because of the state's regressive tax structure — Northwestern Energy and Black Hills Power among them. 

The cost of subsidizing, manufacturing, transporting, erecting, maintaining then removing just one wind turbine eyesore bat and bird killer would take a thousand subscribers to energy self-reliance. Microgrid technologies are destined to enhance tribal sovereignty, free communities from electric monopolies and net-metering only gives control back to utilities enabled by moral hazard. 

In 2021 a study at Michigan Technological University revealed that far more work is needed to ensure the owners of self-generated electricity systems are not unjustly subsidizing electric utilities. 

Albuquerque enjoys an annual average of 310 days of sunshine while Rapid City in my home state of South Dakota gets about 230 days of sun. Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) pays .0025¢ (1/4 cent) per kilowatt hour for renewable energy certificates (RECs) generated by home photovoltaic or wind turbine systems. The net-metering rate is set by the Public Regulation Commission or PRC.

In Colorado Xcel charges homeowners 17 cents a kilowatt hour in base rates but only pays 8 cents a kilowatt hour to subscribers with rooftop solar who put their home grown power into the grid.
Most solar owners will have to wait for full benefits until after Xcel installs smart meters for all the 1.5 million electric customers it serves, according to the Colorado Solar and Storage Association (COSSA). The solar trade group is furious at Xcel’s slow solar customer rollout of smart meters, which the customer and utility need to control and bill the new set of variable rates. That’s unacceptable to the solar trade association. Solar industry officials said Xcel has been sharing its plans for distributing smart meters since at least 2016, and continues to miss targets for getting solar customers on board. Colorado law mandates that 80% of electric utility carbon emissions be cut by 2030, from a 2005 baseline. [The Colorado Sun]
Don’t tie your system to the grid but if you use it as a backup keep your own electricity completely separate from the utility that reads your meter.

7/22/22

Tribal nations fighting for Medicaid take on stingy SDGOP

New Mexico has a high number of people with insurance through Medicaid and like South Dakota many are American Indians. 

But the more Republican South Dakota gets the stingier and more cruel the residents become. Not only has the South Dakota Republican Party failed Indigenous Americans by not expanding Medicaid it has failed veterans and the elderly: its historically loyal voter base.
With South Dakota being one of just 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, tribal Leaders held a press conference Wednesday about why this is an opportune time for the state to pass Amendment D: Medicaid Expansion. If passed it would expand the availability of affordable healthcare to an additional 42,500 South Dakotans. [KEVN teevee]
Only 30% of Native Americans know the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for some procedures at Indian Health Service clinics so I like the idea of rolling the funding for TRICARE, Medicare, the IHS and the Veterans Health Administration together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax. Reproductive freedoms should be included with conditions just like the military does under TRICARE.

Learn more at NM Political Report.

7/16/22

Schweitzer dings Montana Earth haters — again

Republican is simply another word for Earth hater.

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 2021 he raked Montana Republicans after they gave special treatment to South Dakota-based NorthWestern Energy calling it "a fine mix of Socialism and Crony Capitalism to match Russian President Vladimir Putin." 

Now, he's exposing Republican Ryan Zinke as just another political opportunist whose career has been financed on the public dole.
The head of the Montana Republican Party, a car salesman, has called Western District Congressional candidate Monica Tranel, who has worked in the private sector most of her life, a socialist. Yet, he has endorsed Ryan Zinke for that same office – that same Zinke who, since he was 22 years old has mostly cashed checks from the government, both in salaries and pensions. Who would be the largest socialist in Montana? A large ranch in southwest Montana, the Matador Ranch, sold this year. It had been owned for decades by the Koch family, a so-called bastion of private sector economic freedom. But the Koch brothers are no longer the largest socialists in Montana. They sold the ranch to a true expert in socialism, Rupert Murdoch. [The same old smear word from the GOP falls flat, rings hollow]
Today, the Montana Legislature is at least as demented as South Dakota's and the state's Earth hating governor is bleeding taxpayers for disaster relief just like Kristi Noem is. Noem sent a clear signal to her donors that she will do anything to raise money even extend the news desert to the tribal nations trapped in South Dakota where public broadcasting is still often the only link to an outside world. 

Noem is also a graduate of the Koch Brothers' American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, an anti-think tank think tank that preaches how wedge issues raise campaign dollars for the nut wing of the Republican Party. She has taken over $4 million in ag subsidies while blithely calling Democrats communists.

Montana Republicans have apparently forgotten that the ground they live on was seized from aboriginal cultures by liberal democrat, President Thomas Jefferson through an executive order that even he believed was unconstitutional.

Yes, it never ceases to amuse how Republicans paint Democrats as the party of slavery then praise the slavers who penned not just the Bill of Rights but the Declaration of Independence, too.

7/15/22

Neiman cutbacks intended to pressure Forest Service


Sawmills in Hulett, Wyoming and Spearditch, South Dakota will slow operations as Republican donor Jim Neiman threatens to close the mills after increases in sales of timber were deprioritized in the Black Hills National Forest's revised plan. Neiman will reduce production at the Spearditch mill and end one shift in Hulett according to a press release.

Neiman waited until Donald Trump was forced from the White House then shuttered his sawmill in Hill City, South Dakota and blamed the Forest Service. One needs to look no further than the BHNF for how politics has completely altered a landscape but there are plenty other public lands examples that illustrate the red state, blue state divide. According to former BHNF timber cruiser, Dave Mertz there haven’t been any litigators to sue the Forest Service allowing Republicans to infiltrate management of the BHNF. 

The operation in Hulett employs a third of that community’s population and the Biden administration is anxious to reward US Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her efforts to bring the Trump Organization to justice. 

It’s entirely likely Neiman refuses to pay competitive wages but chooses to blame others for worker shortages instead. There are far, far better life choices than working in a sawmill for ten years let alone living in states where workers are commodities. Neiman bought mills in blue states Colorado and Oregon that expanded Medicaid, so go figure.

Nearly every national forest in at least 11 western states should be remanded to the tribal nations they were seized from including the Black Hills National Forest. 

The US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management should be merged in the Department of Interior as the Forest and Land Management Service.

ip photo: native wild turkeys cavort in an aspen community returning after the 2000 Jasper Fire.

7/12/22

Neighbor Beverly lists home, 81 acres

Neighbor Beverly just couldn’t handle twenty two rescue dogs anymore so volunteers re-homed them now she’s selling her property with 360 degree views in a remote portion of Santa Fe County. It’s a secluded, private, unparalleled 81 acre investment property 700 miles from Kristi Lynn Arnold Noem’s hell on Earth for just $375,000. There is a well but the pump is above the water level and the road to it needs work to get a boom truck to it.
Fabulous off-grid property with a custom, passive solar Strawbale home and additional outbuildings, one of which is perfect for an artist studio. Former shelter for homeless dogs with lots of fencing for your pets. This sale consists of 4 parcels of over 80 acres with arroyos, pinon, juniper and many cactus species. Sweeping views of 4 mountain ranges including, the Jemez to the west and Sangre De Cristos to the East. Home is a two bedroom with tile and flagstone floors with many windows on the South side to take advantage of the abundant sunshine. Electric is from a Solar photovoltaic panel which was new in 2019 and water is a catchment system from the roof. Approximately 8 miles to the former mining town of Madrid, now a thriving art center with cafes and restaurants and about 45 minutes to Santa Fe. Come revel in the clear night skies, solitude and quiet. [441 Red Rock Road, Cerrillos, New Mexico]

7/10/22

Pediatric cancers linked to gender bending pesticides

The blood-brain barrier is the network of blood vessels and tissue made up of closely spaced cells that helps keep harmful substances from reaching the brain. Metam Sodium/Potassium is a fumigant that bypasses the blood-brain barrier as do other endocrine disrupters like DDT, atrazine, neonicotinoids, glyphosate, dicamba and Imazalil, a carcinogenic fungicide that can alter hormone levels especially in children and adolescents. 

But Republicans scream RIGHT TO LIFE for human blastocysts as environmental pollutants occur more frequently in the umbilical cord blood of infants and cry government overreach while Waters of the United States or WOTUS architects regroup for another round in Congress.
We contend that human exposure to environmental contaminants is one of the reasons for increased pediatric cancer incidence in the United States. Part of the reason we chose pediatric cancers was because of the short latency period between exposure and onset of disease. [Assessment of Pediatric Cancer and Its Relationship to Environmental Contaminants: An Ecological Study in Idaho]
WOTUS legislation seeks to give authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency to use some teeth and enforce the rights of people downstream to have clean water even from some sources that the US Geological Survey has already identified as impaired. 
The objective of the study was to evaluate the associations between agricultural pesticide usage and cancer incidence among adults and children. The analysis was conducted in the 11 neighboring states in the western U.S. We collected the information on agricultural pesticide usage from the U.S. Geological Survey Pesticide National Synthesis Project database. The data on cancer incidence among adults and children were collected from the National Cancer Institute State Cancer Profiles. We find that the agricultural pesticide type, namely fumigants, are associated with the cancer incidence among adults and children in the western U.S. [Investigation of Relationships Between the Geospatial Distribution of Cancer Incidence and Estimated Pesticide Use in the U.S. West]

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.

Learn more at NPR.

7/6/22

Pine, oil and gas fingered for New Mexico's fires


In June US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore told a congressional committee that before widespread settlement in the West populations of ponderosa pine were about forty per acre but are as high as 600 per acre today. Dense stands of water-sucking, heat island-creating ponderosa pine concentrate volatile organic compounds or VOCs that become explosive under hot and dry conditions. The aerosols are like charcoal starter fumes just waiting for a spark.

Wildfire has removed an estimated 100 million ponderosa pine from public lands so far this year in New Mexico and the monsoon season is putting billions of gallons back into stressed watersheds. Transpiration from New Mexico’s forests has provided thunderstorm rainfall for Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas for far too long but this year's wildfires will enable us to keep more of our water in reservoirs and aquifer recharges instead. 

In contrast to two of New Mexico’s biggest fires in settlement history the Cerro Pelado Fire moved through burn scars from the 2019 Conejos Fire, the 2017 Cajete Fire, the 2013 Thompson Ridge Fire, the 2011 Las Conchas Fire and in the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire. The Forest Service burned numerous slash piles along NM4 in the higher elevations of the Jemez range and in places where low intensity fire had already been introduced.
"Approximately one century of fire suppression in the watershed has resulted in a highly modified ponderosa pine forest structure that is more prone to high-intensity and high-severity wildfires," the report states. [‘A disaster waiting to happen’]
Extracting oil and gas from public lands releases about 20 percent of energy-related US greenhouse gas emissions so the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management intend to scale back leases to the industry in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and other states. According to Interior the social costs of VOC emissions from oil and gas production on public parcels exceeds $4 billion annually.
“People are looking for someone to blame for the devastation,” says Liliana Castillo, deputy director of Climate Advocates Voces Unidas (CAVU), a Santa Fe-based environmental group. “That is completely understandable.” But a key cause of the blaze isn’t directly addressed in the report. But where does that climate change come from? “It’s driven by human beings exuding carbon to the atmosphere,” says Lucas Herndon, energy and policy director of Progress Now New Mexico. “And, unfortunately, in the state of New Mexico, the biggest contributor to that is the oil and gas industry.” [Uncontrolled Burning: The Role of Oil and Gas in New Mexico’s Historic Wildfires]
Clear the second growth ponderosa pine, restrict non-native cattle, conduct fuel treatments, restore aspen and other native hardwoods, build wildlife corridors, empower tribal nations like the Picuris Pueblo and Confederated Salish and Kootenay Tribes in Montana then approximate Pleistocene rewilding with bison and cervids.


ip photo: mixed pine, fir and aspen stand after the 2011 Las Conchas Fire.

7/4/22

Boycott of South Dakota still the strongest defense of women's rights

In 2017 after a Republican governor signed a bill into law that discriminates against some couples who want to adopt, a boycott of South Dakota had significant effects on tourism and some Black Hills business owners experienced decreases of some 30-40 percent. Boycotts to protest the state's attacks on kids and American history had effects on travel in 2020 and 2021. This year after yet another racist incident in the state tribal leaders called again for boycotts of the tourist traps in South Dakota.
A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 3.6 million visitors to Black Hills area national parks spent $231.6 million in the state in 2021. That spending resulted in 3,362 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $301.4 million. [National park tourism in the Black Hills area creates $301.4 million in economic benefit]
Now, Europe is calling for travelers to just stay away from states where trigger laws targeting women have gone into effect.
Travel and tourism represents a huge industry for the US. In 2019, the US received almost 80 million international visitors. By 2032 this sector could represent almost 10 per cent of the US economy, according to the latest Economic Impact Report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The country has had a faltering relationship with inbound travel since the pandemic, but the WTTC forecast in June that travel and tourism will inject up to $2.6 billion into the US economy in the next 10 years. [How US tourism recovery could be hijacked by Roe vs Wade and abortion rights]
Not only has the South Dakota Republican Party failed Indigenous Americans by not expanding Medicaid it has failed veterans and the elderly: its historically loyal voter base. But its more progressive neighbor to the north has seen the light. Medicaid expansion and Obamacare have made abortions in North Dakota safer and rarer.

David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He believes that most land held in America's national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it's my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust. 

If Mrs. Noem can discriminate against women what stops her from compelling South Dakota’s deranged legislature from passing laws against disabled people?

7/3/22

Dino digs in Indian Country can cost you

Dragons have existed in literary mythology at least since Beowulf. A Texas fossil unearthed in 1971 and reported in a story on NPR before they archived on the Web, had me thinking about the dragon myth after scientists constructed a reproduction of a creature named Quetzalcoatlus. 

Results of the Chicxulub bolide impact on Laramidia after the Cretaceous–Paleogene or K-Pg extinction and on the Hell Creek Formation in four states and near Tanis, North Dakota buried millions of creatures. A Triceratops fossil was unearthed in 2015 and restored in Italy then sold for $7.7 million. 

In June a group of paleontologists, students and amateurs who pay to dig unearthed another juvenile triceratops skull from the Cretaceous Period in the formation near Baker, Montana. Paleo Prospectors continues at another site beginning Sunday near Newcastle, Wyoming through July 30 and boasts economic impacts in communities near their field locations. 

But if dinosaur fossils are being excavated from unceded lands in Indian Country why aren't the proceeds from their sales being shared with Native Nations?

Learn more at the Fallon County Times.

7/1/22

Entheogens move another step closer to legalization in Colorado

Paul of Tarsus was hung over and had been smoking opium when he was overcome. Jesus of Nazareth had visions after fasting. The Prophet Muhammad is believed to have enjoyed hashish. Joseph Smith was 18, drunkenly praying that God would forgive him for sins of debauchery when he heard voices. Wovoka witnessed a solar eclipse on peyote that compelled a generation of Ghost Dancers. As a result of ingesting psychoactive fungi Heȟáka Sápa or Nicholas Black Elk rejected catholicism and returned to Lakota ways after he realized the Roman Church was committing crimes against his people.

Entheogen is a term derived from two words from Ancient Greek that effectively translates to English as "the god within."
Natural Health Colorado officials, the campaign pushing a measure currently known as Initiative 58, would legalize the use of such drugs as psychedelic mushrooms and other natural hallucinogenics, including for private use. The group said its idea is so popular with Colorado voters, it was able to turn in petitions with 222,648 signatures of valid registered voters to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office more than a month before its Aug. 8 deadline. It only needs 124,632 signatures to qualify. The proposal is a statutory one, as opposed to a constitutional amendment, meaning it would only need a majority of voters to pass. [Grand Junction Sentinel]
ip photo: Psilocybe semilanceata.