8/31/22

Igloo prepper reaches tax deal after appeal to State of South Dakota

In 1942 the US Army Corps of Engineers built 830 concrete and steel all-risk bunkers at the Black Hills Army Depot in Fall River County south of Edgemont in occupied South Dakota where sarin gas and other deadly munitions were stored and tested.

In 1951 after uranium was discovered near Edgemont more than 150 uranium mines were gouged into the Earth where the Oglala Lakota once made their winter camp. Since then, radioactive tailings from those mines have been detected in Angostura Reservoir after a dam on the Cheyenne River broke in 1962. 

In 1967 the military sold the former ordnance depot to the City of Edgemont who sold it to local cattle ranchers and some of the contaminated buildings were moved to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the Oglala Lakota Nation. 

In 2017 Del Mar, California-based Robert Vicino entered an agreement with S&S Land and Cattle Co., and its partner corporation, Fort Igloo Bunkers. Vicino bought much of the 18 square mile property and 575 bunkers in 2020 for nearly $2.5 million. Boasting remote off-grid survivable spaces with two deep wells the Vivos xPoint bunkers are being marketed and leased to doomsday preppers.

In 2021 the Fall River Director of Equalization reported a total of 99 bunkers had been leased and that 201 bunkers were being valued by the county assessor’s office. Now, the State of South Dakota Office of Hearing Examiners has determined the tax value of the property is nearly $4 million or almost three times as much as the value that was used to assess 2021 taxes. 

If all the bunkers were residences the compound’s population could exceed that of Edgemont’s 700 souls.
The average lot lease price has increased from $25,000 in 2017 to $41,389 in 2022. The properties are currently on a 99-year lease that costs $45,000. There is an additional cost of $1,000 per year for the ground lease, and a one-time $3,000 cost for a water hook-up. Heat and electricity come from generators and propane tanks located near each bunker, and water comes from a centralized cistern. [Decision rendered in Vivos bunkers tax valuation]
The move comes as militants in the extreme white wing of the Republican Party and loyal to Donald Trump threaten to end all life as we know it. The Trumpistas want something like the Spanish Civil War so christianic nationalists, some of whom live in South Dakota, want Trump to declare himself emperor, dissolve the constitution then rule by executive fiat slaughtering every dissenter who resists.

8/28/22

Rewilding comes to public radio

If grazing cattle is the key to preventing wildfires why is ranch country still suffering from almost daily high even extreme grassland fire danger indices? 

Urban sprawl, accelerated global warming and drought are reducing productivity on the remaining grasslands of the High Plains and Mountain West so if some Republicans are angry about conservation that means it's the right thing to do.
David Gura speaks with William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University, about his proposal to "re-wild" the American West by reintroducing beavers and wolves to public lands. [NPR]
Rewild the West.

8/25/22

Today's intersection: border politics and South Dakota's brain drain


Lawrence County, South Dakota is Orange County now. 

The Trumpists want something like the Spanish Civil War and christianic nationalists want Trump to declare himself emperor, dissolve the constitution then rule by executive fiat slaughtering every dissenter who resists.

For a time, Lloyd West, Mike Trucano and Paul Miller owned Deadwood. The Thorpe's strike took down West, cocaine and philandering took Paul down then Trucano retired a rich Republican donating to the Governors Club. 

Paul attended grade school and Deadwood High with members of the Fierro family then hired Larry, John and Richard. Their father, Ysidro came from Mexico with his mother Beatrice Antuna and his step-father then married Jennie Grado in Deadwood in 1935 and had thirteen kids. When he died in 2018 he had 50 grandchildren, 103 great-grandchildren and 55 great-great-grandchildren.

After gambling came to the Gulch and Paul got caught trying to put his dick in the help he sold Twin City Fruit's territories, but kept his assets deciding not to build a warehouse in Spearditch. Paul's dad Dave, his uncles Paul and Bruce built Twin City Fruit and told stories about beating checks back to Deadwood driving rickety old trucks on gravel roads from Deadwood to Denver's Denargo Market peddling produce from Scottsbluff, Nebraska back to the Gulch. They owned the Scottsbluff market back-hauling beet sugar and Rockyford melons from the area. Denver-based competitor Nobel also distributed there but it was absorbed by Houston-based Sysco, the division that ultimately bought TCF. Behind the warehouse on Miller Street hundred pound sacks of Colorado and Nebraska potatoes were unloaded from the rail spur that is now home to the Mickelson Trail. Paul's uncle Bruce built the Miller Ranch on old US14 in Spearditch. 

In a horsehair coat and hat, Paul seduced my former bartender/girlfriend in 1978 and prompted my move to Missoula, Montana after helping to log out the basin for the Grizzly Gulch Tailings Disposal Project above Pluma and Deadwood. Homestake Mining Company that also operated the sawmill in Spearditch, hired a local contractor who gave a farm boy and School of Mines dropout a skidder job. I returned to Deadwood in '81 and was hired as a truck driver by Paul, a mad genius, who ran the transportation. Brother David, Jr., now a local historian, ran the staff and warehouse until selling his share to Paul while Dave, Sr. ran purchasing. A college friend, with whom I had logged, started working on his doctorate in economics as a truck driver for the family and told Paul about my expertise with heavy equipment. 

This NPR story verbalizes the decision of one progressive to flee a town once touted as western South Dakota's destination of choice after fourteen years raising two children who escaped hours after their own high school graduations in 1991 and in 1995 for the University of Wyoming. It was good, too. Our meticulously preserved 1902 Furois-built arts and crafts on Canyon Street was adjacent to Spearfish's magical city park. 

After leaving Sysco in 1992 I operated a drywall finish and painting business until 2006 when I left South Dakota again for Montana. By then Mexican nationals were doing much of the logging, roofing, housekeeping and some of the drywall business. They rented in Spearditch, Lead, Belle Fourche and Rapid City often bunking many people with many loud cars in those properties raising the hackles of the locals. 

Just hours after taking the oath of office, President Joe Biden issued the Proclamation on the Termination Of Emergency With Respect To The Southern Border Of The United States And Redirection Of Funds Diverted To Border Wall Construction.
What was intended to be a public forum discussion with an elected official turned into an angry yell-fest as a large crowd gathered at Creekside Bean and Vine in Spearfish on Thursday to vent their frustrations to Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., at times even pointing the finger directly at him. “I wanna know, where’s my right to be safe,” one woman demanded. “You did nothing to secure our borders; you were in Congress when Donald Trump tried to get a wall built. I don’t feel safe walking down my own streets. Where is my right to feel safe and why didn’t you do anything about it?” [Tables turn on Rounds at round table talk]
I phoned the son of an old friend who took over his dad's successful painting business based in Spearditch and asked him whether Spanish speakers still do much of the work in the trades. He said many drive back and forth from Gillette, Wyoming after collapse of the coal industry and Lawrence County's property crimes and violence among rival workers peaked in 2018 now Rapid City sees the bulk of the construction site thefts, drunken brawls and housing overcrowding. He told me that in Hill City Spanish speakers became the only applicants for employment at the Neiman-owned sawmill so after Donald Trump was forced from office he shuttered it. The old Homestake mill in Spearditch, now also a Neiman property, is experiencing a similar phenomenon. 

The resultant soaring median age of the retirees seeking deliverance from the cultural diversities thriving in Colorado, California, Minnesota, even Arizona and Oregon drives the exploitation of South Dakota's regressive tax structure and reinforces the racially insulated Nazi enclave that Spearditch is today. To little surprise the assisted living, funeral home and florist industries do very well and now that brown workers can take the driver's license exam in Spanish white people can spend more time snorting and shooting meth. 

In one of his last efforts before he left as US Attorney for the District of South Dakota Ron Parsons announced the indictment of 37 people including three Mexican nationals then US District Judge Jeffrey L. Viken sentenced four people in connection with that large-scale meth trafficking network bust called “Operation Say Uncle.”

As young people and Democrats flee South Dakota more brown people are doing the work in the red moocher state. Meat processors and industrial agriculture employ the greatest numbers of Hispanics in South Dakota. Spanish speakers prop up the federally subsidized dairy industry East River but in Huron Karen refugees slaughter and process turkeys. The crony capitalism that keeps South Dakota the 8th worst state for the working class is destroying lands promised to native peoples by treaty and my home town of Elkton is struggling to find enough housing for migrant workers often living in squalor. 

When my dad visited us in Spearditch he was able to see how most of the fertile land in Lawrence County was incrementally being covered with concrete and housing for white people. He wept as shelter belts were being cleared for center-pivot irrigation and fossil water was being pumped from fragile aquifers for the industrial agriculture now killing his once-beloved Brookings County. 

What do these climate refugees and migrant workers have in common with their Midwest counterparts? Christianity. "Pro-life" is simply code for white people breeding. African-Americans terminate pregnancies at about the same per capita rate as white people do but don’t take their jobs. Latinas, however, have fewer abortions per capita and the extreme white wing of the Republican Party knows it's hemorrhaging jobs to Latinos. 

And as the Republican Party caves on immigration after Governor Kristi Noem said she won’t accept Afghan compatriots in South Dakota wage slaves could make real social justice change by walking off their jobs then calling for a general strike and bring Kristi to her senses, too.  But until Democrats seize power nothing will ever change.

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. 

8/23/22

Timber salvage unlikely any time soon in fragile New Mexico forests

Native bison, elk and deer have been hunted to near extinction in most of the Southwest or killed in collisions with motor vehicles so the US Forest Service has been scrambling to clear fuels Indigenous used to burn off every year. Pre-European Indigenous cultures in the Jemez Mountains raised turkeys, beans, squash and maize. That cattle have been allowed into national forests and other public ground for pennies a head is a crime that needs to end. 

Before the European invasion Puebloans in northern New Mexico hunted bison on the high plains along the east slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and today Picuris is one of 76 tribal entities represented on the Rapid City, South Dakota-based Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC). The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire threatened the Picuris Pueblo. 

The feds are shooting feral goats in the Tetons and feral cattle on the Gila because domestic livestock are so destructive on public lands. But it takes political courage to just say no to domestic livestock on federal land and pass legislation that pays reparations and some through land repatriation and bravery is a trait conspicuously absent in Congress right now.

Land managers have climate change guns to their heads so it’s usually damned if you do and damned if you don’t conduct prescriptive burns. But it’s probably a straight line from the previous administration’s Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and crashes in morale within the US Forest Service to current wildfires and conditions on the Santa Fe National Forest. Nevertheless, federal land managers have announced that the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire has been completely surrounded after the blaze consumed some 341,000 acres of ponderosa pine and understory but also reduced thousands of acres of flammable grasses.
James Youtz is a U.S. Forest Service silviculturist for the southwest region and makes plans about how to manage forests in a healthy way. Logging, if officials choose to do it, would probably happen closer to fall, he said. But the decision to do so depends on a number of factors, including environmental concerns and a diminished sawmill market in New Mexico. The forests are full of smaller trees, though, he said, and those aren’t historically as economically valuable for loggers. [Logging after NM wildfires could help forests but won’t likely happen for months, if at all]
I've logged a number of timber salvage operations after fires and blow downs in the Black Hills, Bighorn National Forest and in Idaho. It's dirty, dangerous and destructive.

A drought-stressed ponderosa pine fell into a power line causing the McBride Fire near Ruidoso and the subsequent flooding inundated much of that village. Dead trees release methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas.

Due to the intensity of the wildfire Las Vegas, New Mexico has just thirty days of fresh water remaining after flooding over the burn scar took out numerous dams and levees. But eyewitnesses are seeing aspen communities and other native hardwoods already reclaiming much of the forest. 

There are no mysteries here. Every incident like the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire is a teaching moment. These are episodes where humans are humbled by climate disruptions created by our own failures.

8/19/22

Republicans hate the press, love news deserts

If Republicans failed at marketing sex appeal with Sarah Palin they have more than made up for it with South Dakota’s governor so if you wanna sell a heartless christofascist autocracy with BDE get a pretty girl in blue jeans and fuck me pumps to recite the narrative.

In 2015 Gannett acquired the Alamogordo Daily News; Carlsbad Current-Argus; The Daily Times in Farmington; Deming Headlight; Las Cruces Sun-News; Silver City Sun-News and the Ruidoso News in New Mexico and the El Paso Times in Texas.

In March of 2017 Lee Enterprises was trading at $2.58. Friday morning it closed at nearly $20 with a market cap of $119 million and Gannett stock closed at $2.26 with a market cap of $331 million. 

This blog has argued that the Gannett Company should have bought Lee Enterprises which owns the Rapid City Journal and 45 other daily newspapers. It was my rant then that Lee Newspapers of Montana would survive as part of a Bismarck Tribune, Rapid City Journal, Casper Star-Trib marriage and not become part of a Gannett takeover.
The New Mexican was a Gannett newspaper for almost 14 years, from 1976 until December 1989. One of the more important days in Santa Fe’s history was when the late Robert McKinney and his daughter, Robin Martin, regained ownership of The New Mexican from Gannett. Not all are happy. One with myriad complaints wrote to me last month. “The SFNM is a paper I loathe as a longtime subscriber and one of the lone Republicans in a city where we are mostly spat upon and reviled. See anti-Ronchetti articles, letters to your editors,” the man stated in an email. With nothing to gain or lose at this stage of my working life, I can say The New Mexican’s Martin advanced Santa Fe in ways no governor or mayor could. But absent from The New Mexican is the cookie-cutter look and abbreviated coverage of budget-slashing Gannett newspapers. [Santa Fe's great escape: Shedding Gannett]
Reservation border towns like Pierre and Santa Fe have always been influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. 

In my home state Pierre was made the capital of South Dakota to be a media desert by design. There is an exodus of journalists leaving the profession for public relations as the media lurch to drive the message to the extreme right. Bill Janklow’s idea of public broadcasting can’t cover Pierre effectively because its funding is reliant on the South Dakota Republican Party, the Associated Press can’t do it because they’ve been neutered so has Gannett’s Sioux Falls Argus Leader. South Dakota’s teevee stations are bound to Republican advertisers and nobody reads college publications. 

In 2015 the Center for Public Integrity even gave the state an 'F' for its culture of corruption and it just keeps getting worse. I quit following the South Dakota Newspaper Association on twitter because its feed reads like a bulletin from the South Dakota Republican Party. The Pierre Capital Journal is a joke so are the radio stations based in the capital city. 

So it came as no surprise when South Dakota Republican Governor Kristi Noem's communications director, Ian Fury admitted on twitter that there is a reporter blacklist. Similar malice blindsided a reporter in New Mexico denied entrance to a Republican gubernatorial campaign event for Mark Ronchetti.

Softball interviews where nobody gets Mrs. Noem’s or Mr. Ronchetti's goats are par for the Republican course but real debates with real opponents are far better displays of any candidate’s depth.

8/16/22

Republicans increasingly fearful of Land Back, repatriation

After the Soviet Union fell Republicans began their war on the environment in 1991 substituting a new Green Scare for the old Red Scare. 

So today putting the country on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our ocean areas by 2030 (30x30) is imperative to preserving public lands especially now as the worst megadrought in at least 1200 years is driving desertification in most of the western United States. A supermajority of registered voters in the Mountain West agrees according to bipartisan polling conducted by the Colorado College State of the Rockies project. Urban sprawl, accelerated global warming and drought are reducing productivity on the remaining grasslands of the Great Plains and that some Republicans are angry about conservation means it's the right thing to do

The Buffalo Gap and Fort Pierre National Grasslands in South Dakota are managed from Nebraska.
New Bridge Strategy, a Republican research and polling firm, surveyed Nebraskans on their feelings about conservation last April. The pollsters found wide support that spanned political parties for a national conservation goal. About 95% of Democrats and Republicans in Nebraska agreed that they supported private landowners’ ability to conserve land through voluntary programs. Yet the state’s governor has spearheaded the opposition to the 30 by 30 goal and has said conservation can lead to government takeover. [Harvest Public Media]
The Grand River National Grassland in northwestern South Dakota is managed from Bismarck, North Dakota.
“I think 30-by-30 is going to require that amount of accountability of what we’ve done in the past with funds,” said Mary Podoll, who has headed the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in North Dakota since 2011. She’s served in the NRCS across several administrations — Republican and Democrats — and said policies primarily are made by Congress, not whatever administration is in power. She acknowledged farm groups are wary of federal agencies, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s Waters of the United States — or "WOTUS" — policies, governing navigable waters (and sometimes temporary “prairie potholes”) have swung back and forth between administrations. Trent Loos, a regional rural radio and podcast personality, has been one voice warning of a potential federal “land grab,” and how it could link with conservation programs. Podoll acknowledged that three people coming home from Loos’ presentations had contacted her agency, anxious to cancel their Conservation Stewardship Programs, one of the NRCS’ popular voluntary programs. [AgWeek]
WildEarth Guardians are based in Santa Fe; the Rewilding Institute is based in Albuquerque. Both organizations are driving the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act or NREPA. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies based in Helena, Montana has been kicking the legislation around Congress since 1993. Director of the Bureau of Land Management, Tracy Stone-Manning lectured on NREPA in 2002 at the University of Montana. 

In 2014 two national forests based in Montana, one named for the Swiss guy who helped convince President Thomas Jefferson to use an executive order to buy land from a country that didn’t even own it and one named for a war criminal were merged into a single administrative unit. Now, Mary Erickson is the Forest Supervisor for the Custer Gallatin National Forest based in Bozeman and she just signed the record of decision (ROD) for the Custer Gallatin National Forest Land Management Plan. The Sioux Ranger District in northwestern South Dakota is within her purview and part of the roadmap to land repatriation as reconciliation with Indigenous Americans.

Republicans aren't just fearful of government overreach; they're frightened public lands will be remanded to the First Nations.
President Biden's America the Beautiful plan needs a bold, scientifically grounded organizing principle like that provided by the Western Rewilding Network and the three steps proposed for rewilding these federal lands. If implemented alongside fine-scale conservation planning, it would restore critical ecological processes with minimal human interference, protect many endangered and at-risk species, increase resilience to climate change, and sustain an array of ecosystem services. [Rewilding the American West]
So, one solution to making America the Beautiful again and solving national forest and grasslands management woes is moving the US Forest Service from the US Department of Agriculture into Interior where tribal nations could more easily assume additional responsibilities for stewardship on public land, returning the resources to apply cultural fire to their own holdings and rewilding the West.
 

8/15/22

Water woes engulf military bases

There are 679 bases in the United States with known or suspected PFAS contamination and according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) the Department of Defense has not fully briefed farmers about the likely pollution of surface and groundwater near some 36 of 126 military bases with the highest parts per trillion of PFAS contamination. 

Officials at Ellsworth Air Force Base say water wells in Box Elder have tested above the US Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level at 551,000 parts per trillion for two chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — compounds in foam used to fight petroleum-based fires at a site where pit fires are common. Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls is poisoned with over 255,000 parts per trillion and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota suffers 453,000 parts per trillion. 

In 2018 it was revealed PFAS have been spewing from Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, home of the plane that dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast or 'Mother of all Bombs' on Afghanistan. Art Schaap, an area dairy operator dumped milk and destroyed some of his herd because area wells were contaminated with "forever chemicals" like PFAS.
“We are getting stonewalled,” Schaap said Friday at a Clovis meeting of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, a bipartisan legislative committee made up of state representatives and senators. “The Air Force and Department of Defense seem to have a total disregard for our family and our community and our employees and business. This farm has been the blood-life for my family and for many hard-working employees that lived and worked on the farm.” The base spokesperson did say, however, that the base is taking PFAS seriously. It has spent $32 million to investigate the scope of the contamination and is studying what it will take to remediate the impact. [Cannon Air Force Base ducking public meetings about ‘forever chemical’ risk, neighbors say]
How will the Lewis and Clark water system boondoggle embolden the proponents of the pipeline to Rapid City since there are no Democrats to drive it? Will the military push Republicans to get on the socialist bandwagon? But a water pipeline from the Missouri River to Rapid City would cost almost $2 billion and rip up a few hundred miles of stolen treaty ground.
Problems at the Rapid City Water Metering Facility forced Ellsworth Air Force Base to put restrictions in place. The problem stems from what the base calls a catastrophic failure at the metering facility on Saturday, making the plant inoperable. The metering facility is the plant that supplies the base with its water. The 28th Bomb Wing responded to the situation by entering stage one of its water demand reduction plan, causing a complete stoppage of watering lawns, car washes, motor pool car washes, aircraft washing and swimming pool makeup water. [KNBN teevee]
With drought taking hold in the upper basin we should be sending thoughts and prayers in advance for the wretched masses that have poisoned their own wells and tapped into big gubmint to water lawns while they complain about Waters of the United States or WOTUS

8/13/22

Sale of Russian steel mills not expected to slow Biden rail plan

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Rio Metro Transportation District, which operates the New Mexico Rail Runner have finished laying new ties along a 31-mile stretch of track south of Raton Pass, replaced some 12 miles of bolted rail with welded rail between Lamy and Los Cerrillos integrated with a Positive Train Control system. 

America ships millions of tons of salvage material to India and Asia to be recycled tearing up our own ground mining for virgin minerals while steel, copper and rare earth metals are still being buried in landfills. Santa Fe County ships nearly all the plastic and steel harvested from the municipal waste stream to Colorado where Denver and Boulder are among the best cities for doing recycling right. 

In 2021 construction on a new $500 million, solar-powered long-rail mill was begun at EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo.
Millions of tons of greenhouse gases are emitted from the Comanche power plant in Pueblo each year creating electricity used by consumers who live in other parts of the state. The plant has historically served the EVRAZ steel mill, but consumers in Pueblo County are served by either Black Hills Energy or San Isabel Electric Association. [KOAA teevee]
EVRAZ enjoys a 48% market share of steel rail in North America much of it fabricated at its plant in Pueblo. Roman Abramovich is a Russian billionaire who owns more than 28% of EVRAZ PLC's total shares.
“Nothing changes. We are not going anywhere,” said Annie Stefanec, a Chicago-based spokesperson for EVRAZ North America. “We are still hiring, still going to career fairs and full steam ahead with producing steel for rail products,” in Pueblo, Stefanec said of the company, which employs 1,100 Pueblo workers. The new long rail mill “is 35% complete and should start production of the first long rail by the end of 2023," Stefanec said. [The Pueblo Chieftain]
It's not currently in President Joe Biden's rail plan but if Amtrak and the Southwest Chief & Front Range Passenger Rail Commission connect the Chief at Pueblo or Trinidad, Colorado to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming it will intersect the North Coast Hiawatha at Laurel or Billings, Montana and serve the state capital in Helena.

Denver International Airport is agonizing to fly into and then finding a way back into the city complicated and expensive. If the political will existed the Rail Runner could access the Lamy spur from Santa Fe and go directly into Denver serving Colorado communities along the way.

ip photo: the New Mexico Rail Runner (right) and the engine of the Santa Fe Southern Railway idle in the Santa Fe Railyard.

8/11/22

Earth in the balance as New Mexico blunts Colorado cannabis commerce

Democratic then-Representative from New Mexico's First District, now-Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham worked with Republican-now-Libertarian former Gov. Gary Johnson to legalize cannabis for some patients but Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, signed it into law in 2007. The Cannabis Regulation Act was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and became effective June 29, 2021.
During the month of July, licensed retailers around the state reported over $40 million in cannabis sales. July adult-use cannabis sales alone topped $23 million. Cannabis sales totaled more than $39 million in April, the first month of legalized recreational sales and the previous record high, with April adult-use sales totaling just over $22 million. [Governor's office press release]
In January, Dope King and owner of Ultra Health, Duke Rodriguez, told the the Albuquerque Business Journal he wants to control 40-60% of all cannabis sales in New Mexico.
Colorado’s green boom is beginning to bust as more states legalize the sale and use of marijuana and inflation pinches spending. Colorado’s border communities are posting the steepest sales declines. New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana sales in April and sales in southern Colorado’s Las Animas County, for example, are in a free fall. [Colorado Sun]
The Picuris and the Pojoaque Pueblos have entered agreements with State of New Mexico to market cannabis product outside tribal borders. The Tewa words wõ poví translate to “medicine flower” and so far half of Pojoaque's clients are from Texas and other red states.
“I feel like we’re making history,” said the general manager of the Wõ Poví Cannabis shop in Pojoaque, which opened just over a month ago on the Cities of Gold Road adjacent to the busy U.S. 84/285. Because Native American tribes fall under federal rather than state oversight, and cannabis remains illegal under federal law, New Mexico had to find a way to include those pueblos. [Pojoaque is first pueblo in New Mexico to open cannabis dispensary]


Outdoor grower Fruit of the Earth Organics has again won the Santa Fe Reporter's "Best Of" in the budtender, cannabis product, topicals, CBD, CBD shop, edibles and best dispensary categories. 

Here in the Land of Enchantment supporters are lauding cannabis 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. Groundwater is notoriously corrosive in much of New Mexico while prolonged drought bleeds supplies to critical and coveted acequia rights can literally be to die for but according to researchers at Colorado State University the industry's carbon footprint should be at least as worrying as tight water supplies.

The New Mexico Department of Health will continue to maintain the patient registry for the therapeutic cannabis program while ensuring those sales remain tax-free.

8/10/22

Tribal nations still fighting for environmental justice amid uranium threats

In 1951 after uranium was discovered in the southern Black Hills more than 150 uranium mines were gouged into the Earth where the Oglala Lakota once made their winter camp. Since then, radioactive tailings from those mines have been detected in Angostura Reservoir after a dam on the Cheyenne River broke in 1962. 

Stephen Schwartz is the editor and co-author of Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of US Nuclear Weapons Since 1940.
In 1979 at Church Rock, New Mexico a 50-foot earthen dam containing the radioactive and toxic waste of a United Nuclear Corporation uranium mine failed resulting in the largest single accidental release of radioactive materials in the United States. The breach released 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive and highly acidic water into the Rio Puerco and across Navajo lands as far as 50 miles downstream. Radioactivity levels near the breach were 7,000 times the allowable US drinking water standard. Although the spill contaminated the groundwater and rendered the Rio Puerco unusable for drinking, irrigation, and watering livestock, Governor Bruce King refused requests by the Navajo Nation to declare the site a federal disaster area, sharply limiting help for those affected. [twitter thread, Schwartz]
In 2019 because the Trump Organization despises Native Americans uranium mining was fast-tracked in and around Indian Country where tribes already suffer from diseases and birth defects wrought by radioactive contamination.
The “death map” tells the story of decades of sickness in the small northwest New Mexico communities of Murray Acres and Broadview Acres. Turquoise arrows point to homes where residents had thyroid disease, dark blue arrows mark cases of breast cancer, and yellow arrows mean cancer claimed a life. Beginning in 1958, a uranium mill owned by Homestake Mining Company of California processed and refined ore mined nearby. The waste it left behind leaked uranium and selenium into groundwater and released the cancer-causing gas radon into the air. State and federal regulators knew the mill was polluting groundwater almost immediately after it started operating, but years passed before they informed residents and demanded fixes. Rather than finish the cleanup, Homestake’s current owner, the Toronto-based mining giant Barrick Gold, is now preparing to ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the independent federal agency that oversees the cleanup of uranium mills, for permission to demolish its groundwater treatment systems and hand the site and remaining waste over to the U.S. Department of Energy to monitor and maintain forever. [A uranium ghost town in the making]
Nearly all of the 300 mile long Cheyenne River flows through Indian Country and Powertech USA, part of Canadian firm Azarga Uranium, now enCore Energy, wants to mine near a tributary of the river despite warnings of high risk from a securities firm. Recall that the South Dakota Republican Party ceded regulatory authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency for uranium mining after the legislature realized there is no competent oversight from state agencies. 

Texas-based enCore has uranium claims or operations in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday denied the Oglala Sioux Tribe's request for a review of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision to grant a license for a potential uranium mine in southwestern South Dakota despite the tribe not being individually consulted on the potential impact to cultural resources. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission complied with federal law when it granted Powertech, Inc., a subsidiary of enCore Energy in Texas, a license to mine uranium at a 10,000-acre site near Edgemont, South Dakota. [Federal Court Denies Tribe a Review of Uranium License]
South of Edgemont at Crow Butte near the headwaters of the White River above Crawford, Nebraska Canada-based Cameco, Inc. obtained rights to use 9,000 gallons of water per minute to extract raw uranium ore through 8,000 holes bored into the Ogallala and Arikaree Aquifers. The foreign miners have already pumped over half a billion gallons of radioactive waste water into disposal wells and have rights to bury more. In 2014 Cameco, the world’s largest uranium producer, paid a million dollar fine for environmental damage in Wyoming. 

In northwestern South Dakota cleanup in the Cave Hills area of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest went for decades without remediation. 

8/8/22

Wyoming suicide rate more than doubles as stingy state refuses to expand Medicaid

Today's intersection should come as no surprise as Wyoming Democrats register en masse in the Earth hater party to vote for Liz Cheney in that state's Republican primary. In Park County, for instance the rate is four times higher than at the same point ahead of the 2018 midterm primary election. 

The apparent futility of the move reflects Wyoming's suicide rate as it climbs to over twice the national average and the highest in the United States.
At nearly 60,000 residents, Casper is Wyoming’s second largest city. Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters told ABC News that his officers respond to suicide calls twice as often as they do for shoplifting. They've secured $2.1 million to expand the suicide hotline to a 24-hour service, most of it federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act that Gov. Mark Gordon appropriated, but with the state legislature refusing to expand Medicaid, federal funding will soon run out. [Wyoming struggles for answers amid growing suicide rate]
The Biden administration is anxious to reward Representative Cheney for her efforts to bring the Trump Organization to justice even as Herr Trump has endorsed a criminal for Wyoming secretary of state and Republican establishment veteran Harriet Hageman for the seat Cheney holds. 

Teton County, home to Jackson Hole leans blue in most elections but Cheney is down some twenty percent in statewide polling and only enjoys thirteen percent among Earth haters nationwide.
K.O. Strohbehn lives in Jackson, a liberal, wealthy tourism community at the gateway to Grand Teton National Park, and she recently switched her party affiliation to vote for Cheney. “She’s one of the few that is living up to her oath of office,” Shtrohbehn said. Statewide, the number of registered Democrats has dropped 13 percent – nearly 7,000 people – since January, while Republic[an] registrations have risen by more than 11,000. [Liz Cheney is appealing to Wyoming Democrats. Will it make a difference?]
Gillette is a scary place. It's where ecocide is encouraged and mercury from coal burning power plants is released into South Dakota's watersheds and beyond. The Campbell County Hospital in Gillette has written off millions in noncollectable debt and the county has already recorded fifteen suicides so far this year with five months yet to go. 
Election day is drawing near. And this campaign is nearing its end. Right now, it looks like a dead heat to me with Hageman seemingly losing momentum because of voter apathy. And I see Cheney quietly gaining ground, thanks to crossover voting. [The Whole World is Watching Wyoming Politics]
It should also come as no surprise to anyone that the Republican South Dakota governor has endorsed the Republican Wyoming governor for re-election.

In 2018 the Rapid City Journal blamed the South Dakota Republican Party for spikes in suicides and depression as a Sanford Health executive also cited poor access to medical care as a reason for premature deaths. South Dakota is ranked 6th highest in the nation for suicides reporting more than 22 self-administered terminations per 100,000 people or an increase of 59% since 1999 and the 11th highest increase in any state. 

So, like South Dakota and because of the race hatred projected at American Indians Wyoming is another red state that would prefer to die of cancers and suicides rather than expand Medicaid.

8/7/22

Missoula is still flying high

As a kid conceived and born hearing bombers, tankers and fighters taking off from an Air Force base, human flight was a literal reality for me. At Torrejon near Madrid, Spain and at Dow near Bangor, Maine, my grade school teachers would have to stop talking while the windows in school rattled as another wave of B-52s loaded with armed nukes headed for the boundary of the former Soviet Union. 

After Dad retired to Elkton, South Dakota in 1963, 1972 was my first time to vote. I was a stupid punk, had a very high draft number, ignored a Presidential appointment to the United States Air Force Academy (an entitlement for a dependent of CMSgt Lawrence E. Kurtz, USAF (Ret)) because Richard Fucking Nixon was Commander-in-Chief; and, because my glasses prevented me from being a pilot.
 
In 1978 while working with a Rapid City boy who drove a Lyons moving truck for his dad we travelled through Albuquerque and witnessed a score of hang gliders soaring over the Sandia Mountains. So, in 1979 after two salvage timber sales in the Bighorn Mountains Deadwood buddies Rich Schnarr, Ed Fuhs and this interested party went looking for work in Idaho. But, when we drove through Missoula, Montana and saw thirteen hang gliders over Mount Sentinel I knew that was the place I wanted to be. 

My early twenties were spent under a hang glider aloft or kicking a hacky sack waiting for wind on the top of Mount Sentinel or some other mountain drooling over the Aurora 400 in the back of Popular Mechanics. I even learned nearly everything there was to know about the V-22 Osprey before it entered service. Missoulians Glade Thompson and Bruce Stoverud perished in their gliders at the foot of Mount Sentinel when I lived there.
As dusk cooled the July heat, Joshua Phillips peered over the north wall of Mount Sentinel. He felt the strength of the gusts rise and fall as a warm breeze climbed the mountain. As the sun set, he took a running start down the cliff, pulled off the ground, and began aerial laps above Hellgate Canyon on the light air that Missoula is known to provide. Paul Roys is the president of the area's flight club called Glide Missoula. He said people have been flying hang gliders in Missoula for decades. Currently, the distance record from Missoula landed one pilot just south of Helena. [Launch zone: How Missoula is quickly becoming a premiere paragliding hub]
A crash on my birthday in '82 after launching from Sheep Nose Mountain near Sundance, Wyoming compelled the purchase of a sailboat instead of a new glider.

8/4/22

Today's intersection: rare earth minerals and the assassination of a freedom fighter


Just say it: radical christianic terrorism.

The United States is the arms dealer to the world and averse to gun control at home as it assassinates children, women and men throughout the Muslim world. Hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond. 

During the American invasion of Afghanistan NPR was my goto source for news on the ground and Sarah Chayes was there. We spent a trillion dollars to silence Usama Bin Laden, not just for revenge but because he knew too much.
The U.S. most likely used an MQ-9 Reaper drone launched from a country in the Arabian Peninsula in the strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul on July 31, security experts said. The MQ-9 Reaper, made by a subsidiary of General Atomics, has reportedly been utilized in many notable strikes across recent presidential administrations. [Which drone was used in Al-Zawahiri strike? Experts point to General Atomics’ Reaper]
South Dakota's US senators trumpet success after prostituting stolen Lakota ground by bringing the current heavens-based smart-executor of civilian death, the MQ-9 Reaper, to Ellsworth Air Force Base cementing the continued commitment of South Dakotans to rain white phosphorus and dismemberment on babies of color for decades to come. Since then, Ellsworth and bases in New Mexico have butchered countless civilians during the actions to protect the heroin trade keeping the Russian mob and the American Central Intelligence Agency in cash. The Republican-led wars there and in Iraq have cost American taxpayers some $6 TRILLION.

In January of 2016, the US Forest Service suspended the Draft Environmental Impact Study for a Wyoming Black Hills mountaintop-removal mine that would extract more minerals containing elements like neodymium and praseodymium from the Belle Fourche watershed. In 2017 Rare Element Resources said its mine just upstream of the South Dakota border in the headwaters of the Redwater River, a tributary of the Belle Fourche/Cheyenne, announced financial backing from General Atomics and applied for enough water for the mineral separation process despite widespread contamination in Crook County wells. 

Without further permitting from the Forest Service Europe’s GA Umwelt-und Ingenieurtechnik GmbH (UIT) proposed to use a $22 million award from the US Department of Energy to move rare earth oxides mined in 2015 and stored in tanks near Sundance. A demonstration-scale separation and processing plant is expected to cost $35-40 million and a site in Upton, Wyoming near the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) was confirmed in 2021 as the location for the facility.
The demonstration plant is now in the design phase, which includes engineering, licensing and permitting. RER has estimated that construction of the plant, which will be located in Upton, should be complete in 18 to 26 months. Once complete, the plant will be used to process and separate rare earth elements from materials that have already been sourced and stockpiled from the Bearlodge Project area. This, according to the company, will take between 12 and 14 months. [RER hires new top staff, confirms demo plant schedule]
General Atomics gives generously to Republicans including former US Representative from New Mexico's First District and South Dakota School of Mines President Heather Wilson.

False flags, assassinations, disaster capitalism, endless war: anyone who believes America is safer because of a military filled with mercenaries is delusional

8/1/22

Earth haters triggered by bison grazing on public lands

Through the Bureau of Land Management We the People have granted a permit to American Prairie (APR) to allow 1,000 bison grazing on some three million acres near Malta, Montana connected with corridors to a half million acres of private ground.

But Earth haters are apoplectic.
The Montana Attorney General, said in a formal statement that he had held a listening session and also submitted comments to the BLM. He is not in agreement with the decision. “After shutting out public input from local communities, it’s not a surprise that President Biden’s Bureau of Land Management would rubber-stamp this radical proposal that is another step toward displacing northeast Montana’s livestock industry and replacing it with a large outdoor zoo. My office is reviewing the decision closely to determine our next steps to protect ranchers and ensure the State’s interests are upheld.” [TriState Livestock News]
During the last legislative session Montana Republicans even tried to stifle free enterprise in a state where freedom is paramount and Realtors® are capitalizing on racist paranoia amid Herr Trump’s calls for the End Times.

Extremely critical grassland fire danger will affect nearly every Republican county on the High Plains from Nebraska to Canada again today. 

Learn more at Montana Free Press.