Arizona scrambling to undo Republican damage to public land on southern border

Etched into the rhyolite on Signal Hill in Saguaro National Park about 800 years ago by the ancestors of the modern-day Tohono O'odham are their petroglyphs and rock art which are probably directions to water sources and hunting. Their Nation straddles the US/Mexico border. 

A Santa Fe County, New Mexico couple touring the area in 2019 was shocked at the level of Trump era paranoia and was forced to endure multitudinous Border Patrol checkpoints. 

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. 

Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Sky Islands in the Patagonia, Arizona flyway on Sonoita Creek and along the San Pedro River. Now, efforts to undo the damage to jaguar and ocelot habitats including on the Coronado National Forest is happening while courts sort the fraudsters. Even North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel conspired with the Trump Organization and its henchman, Steve Bannon to defraud the United States. Fisher Industries is a major campaign contributor to Earth hating Republicans like Arizona's former governor and is being investigated for substandard work on the US/Mexico border. 

Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs called her predecessor's actions a political stunt.
The federal government is finally ready to drop its lawsuit against the state over the storage containers it contends were erected illegally last year on Forest Service land by then-Gov. Doug Ducey. But it's going to cost Arizona taxpayers another $2.1 million to put this all behind them. That's on top of the $95 million the state paid to AshBritt Management & Logistics to install the ersatz border barrier in the first place. And it doesn't include another nearly $66.6 million, also of taxpayer dollars, to tear it down, transport the containers to Tucson and start restoring the site to the way it was before the controversial barrier went up. The deal marks the end of what had been a highly publicized move by Ducey to close gaps in the reinforced barrier that was started by Donald Trump and canceled by Joe Biden his first day in office. [High costs for shipping container wall at Arizona's southern border almost over]
In southeastern Arizona operations owned by Freeport-McMoRan Inc, Morenci and Miami are ravaging water supplies and reducing entire mountain ranges to piles of waste rock in Tonto Apache lands.


Column: movie raises awareness of nuclear fallout

On orders from President Franklin Roosevelt one of the largest concentration camps in the United States was built in Santa Fe in 1942 and imprisoned some 4,555 people of Japanese heritage. During World War II National Guard units from New Mexico became trapped on the Bataan peninsula where they experienced torture at the hands of soldiers of the Empire of Japan. Four Los Alamos scientists armed the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killed over 200,000 children, women and men.

Beginning in 1958 Homestake Mining Company gouged uranium from New Mexico leaving piles of waste rock laden with selenium causing cancers and thyroid disease in its wake. In 1979 an earthen dam collapsed releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive and highly acidic water into Navajo tribal lands.

Tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can cause birth defects and spontaneous abortions, has been found in groundwater near Los Alamos National Laboratory. Today, Cochiti Reservoir at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Santa Fe River is a radioactive sewer impounding millions of cubic yards of silt contaminated with chromium and the effluent from thousands of upstream septic systems after decades of bomb making at Los Alamos

In 2022, Archbishop of the Santa Fe Diocese John C. Wester offered a pastoral letter he calls “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.” Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis is home to the plane that dropped a Massive Ordnance Air Blast or 'Mother of all Bombs' on Afghanistan. 

Democratic New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is at odds with the US Department of Energy and Bechtel National who seem to believe transporting diluted nuclear waste like plutonium over and over America's railroads and highways is completely harmless. Energy has set a goal of producing 80 new plutonium pits a year by 2035, enough to fully replace the triggers in every existing thermonuclear warhead by 2105. 

A nuclear waste dump would make southeast New Mexico a sacrifice zone that amounts to “nuclear colonialism," according to Leona Morgan, a Diné woman and organizer with the Nuclear Issues Study Group.

New Mexico’s Democratic delegation is moving an amendment through Congress to the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act intending to offset decades of hardships suffered by people downwind of the atomic bomb tests in the 1940s.

Dr. Lyndon  Haviland is a regent at Western New Mexico University and a distinguished scholar at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. She lives with her husband, Tom on their spectacular Morning Star Ranch in rural Santa Fe County. Last October they hosted a fabulous wedding party for neighbors Kate and Phil.
The movie “Oppenheimer” shows the destruction from the blast of the first atomic bomb, known as the Trinity test, on July 16, 1945, roughly 200 miles south of Los Alamos, N.M. It’s a sad fact that a Hollywood movie was needed to spur political action to correct a major public health injustice. The victims of New Mexico deserve to be compensated for the suffering they have endured. It should have happened decades ago. But Congress can finally right this wrong by honoring those who’ve been ignored for far too long. [Haviland, In New Mexico, ‘Oppenheimer’ offers new hope for long denied compensation]
Learn more from the Associated Press.


TRNP horses are not what you think

The modern horse was introduced to North America by the Spanish late in the 15th Century and then by other European colonizers. 

Acquiring the horse in the 1740s enabled the Lakota to win the Black Hills. But, in occupied North Dakota the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park that are believed by some to be the descendants of those belonging to Sitting Bull have reached nuisance level. Because they have no natural predators wild and feral horse herds double in size every four to five years.
The Park Service is revising its livestock plans and writing an environmental assessment to examine the impacts of taking no new action — or to remove the horses altogether. Removal would entail capturing horses and giving some of them first to tribes, and later auctioning the animals or giving them to other entities. Another approach would include techniques to prevent future reproduction and would allow those horses to live out the rest of their lives in the park. [National Parks Service proposes plan to remove wild horses from North Dakota National Park]
Now, in an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for bison, wapiti, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, deer, the threatened Greater sage grouse and all the other wildlife at risk to the Republican Party how is running nurseries for introduced species like free-roaming horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?
GonaCon is an immunocontraceptive vaccine that is developed and used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to the Department, when GonaCon is injected into an animal, it induces the body to make antibodies against its own Gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This then causes infertility in the injected animals. While GonaCon has proven to be an effective tool in managing fertility in wild and feral mammals, this includes the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt Park — meaning that some are calling for a study on the vaccine to view the effects it has on the equine population. [Are the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park infertile?]
Ironic that in a country that exports more weapons of mass destruction than all others combined and relentlessly hunts nearly anything that moves Equus ferus is still seen as a pet.
The study by a graduate biology student at the University of North Dakota said the park horses show little influence of Spanish mustangs and are most closely associated with draft horse breeds, including Shires and Percherons. A ranch Shire-Paint cross stallion performed well, and was considered the park’s dominant stallion for almost a decade. In 1991, an estimated 15% of the herd was traced to the stallion. The herd’s Percheron influence might stem from the HT Ranch, an immense horse ranch in the Little Missouri Badlands headquartered near Amidon, south of the area that became the park. Ranch owner A.C. Huidekoper imported Percherons -- a large, powerful breed -- and a thoroughbred stallion to crossbreed with mares he bought from the Marquis de Mores, who bought them after the ponies were seized from Sitting Bull and his followers when they surrendered at Fort Buford in 1881. Huidekoper, a contemporary of Roosevelt’s, called the cross the “American horse,” which became the prototype of the “Indian pony” that was favored for years by ranchers in the area, prized for its endurance and agility. [Study: National park wild horses are ‘distinctive,’ not closely related to any one breed]
ip image: free-roaming horses browse on private ground in Santa Fe County. Click on it for a better look.


Ethnic cleansing a real part of Trump legacy

Attorneys are gathering even more evidence that the Trump Organization committed crimes against humanity throughout Indian Country not only by slow-walking resources to reservations during a pandemic but by undercounting Indigenous populations during the 2020 Census. Donald Trump even killed the White House Tribal Nations Summit because he loathes Native Americans. 

That "Pocahontas" thing Trump does to Senator Elizabeth Warren doesn't just betray his hatred for women; it's a tell that he detests American Indians no matter how much or how little Native blood a person has. That Republicans continue to prop up his assault on the courts and stoke his criminal race baiting are the most telling aspects of this march toward the abyss. Trump’s erasure of protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments was cruel retribution targeting Indigenous peoples. 

Why? In past years the Trump Organization has used the federal courts to punish tribal nations who built casinos Trump said were competition then deployed COVID-19 as a biological weapon in Indian Country. Starting in New York Donald Trump targeted the Mohawk and Oneida Nations for annihilation then his Tulsa trip and his campaign rally in occupied South Dakota spread disease throughout Native America. 

Adjusted for age and population Trump killed many more American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) per capita than he did whites.
As a nation and global society, we are still recovering from two life altering events: a pandemic and the Trump presidency. While the memories of these events seem to fade with time, as a former tribal leader, I am here with a stark warning: We cannot forget Donald Trump's record, especially on tribal matters, or that of his supporters and enablers. Trump drained funds from the very programs created to fulfill the federal government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribes. Year after year, tribal leaders had to fight against his proposals to cut funding for Native education and health programs. It is crucial to remember that he submitted budget requests to Congress every year that could have zeroed out funding for Bureau of Indian Education facilities and the only existing CDC Tribal budget item. At times, Trump was outright transparent about his thoughts and feelings about the Native peoples. When asked about issuing a proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, he outright proclaimed, “Not as long as I’m president.” He appalled the nation when he could not even hold back expressing his racism during a White House event planned in honor of our national heroes, the Navajo Code Talkers. [Amber Torres, Trump’s Tribal Record: The Destructive Era]
Some nations are still suspicious. One of the most popular national monuments in New Mexico is just across I-25 from our place but remains closed because it’s co-managed with the Cochiti Pueblo.

It’s called ethnic cleansing even genocide elsewhere but in Trump’s America it’s called MAGA.

ip image: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument with the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the background.


Today's intersection: Zorro Ranch sells as Santa Fe lawyer surrenders

Two days before Donald Trump's attempted takeover of the United States in 2021 John Eastman was summoned to the Oval Office to share some exotic extralegal scenarios. As he left a Santa Fe restaurant in 2022 he was frisked by federal agents who seized his iPhone Pro 12 presumed to contain incriminating evidence of Trump's attempted coup d'état. Eastman owns a property at 180 Valley Drive on the north side of Santa Fe not far from the Governor's mansion. 

Eastman knew Jeffrey Epstein through impeachment lawyer Bruce Castor and through Alan Dershowitz, also believed to be a pedophile. A Florida church has claimed the deed to the isolated Zorro Ranch outside of Stanley, New Mexico that Epstein purchased in 1993 now tied up in a court battle in Santa Fe and languishing on the market for $18 million.
The Santa Fe County assessor lists the new owner of the 7,560-acre property near Stanley as San Rafael Ranch LLC, a limited liability corporation that was filed only July 28 with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. No immediate identity for the individual behind San Rafael Ranch LLC was available other than its registered agent, Santa Fe attorney Charles V. Henry IV. Epstein purchased the Zorro Ranch in 1993 from former Gov. Bruce King. [Epstein's Zorro Ranch in Santa Fe County sold; price not disclosed]
As Eastman faces disbarment in California he surrendered to Georgia where was booked at the Fulton County jail Tuesday.
Eastman is charged alongside Trump and 17 others, who are accused by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis with scheming to subvert the will of Georgia voters in a desperate bid to keep the Republican president in the White House after he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. [Santa Fe's John Eastman is one of America's most infamous attorneys]
In a 2016 deposition Virginia Giuffre told a court that when she was sixteen Epstein madam, Ghislane Maxwell aided and abetted her rapes there. Giuffre went on to work for Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Herr Trump is expected to surrender in Georgia today.

Jeffrey Epstein died under suspicious circumstances in a New York jail after being sued by numerous women after using his New Mexico ranch as a baby farm.


All Aboard Northwest reaches out to blogger

Hello Larry, 
I just wanted to follow-up with you about your comments on the Dakota Free Press article "Idaho wants Amtrak." 
I want to thank you for your comments and ideas supporting passenger rail in South Dakota (your personal blog) and let you know about a Federal Railroad Administration study that may be the impetus to get South Dakota "on the map." I am an invited stakeholder with this Study through my professional work.
I lead a regional transportation advocacy organization, All Aboard Northwest. All Aboard Northwest has been created as the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group in response to a request from eight US Senators. We are the region-wide organization and work with state groups like the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority. It is our mission that all people and states in the region have an equal voice in the future of passenger rail. We are advocating for long-distance passenger rail since the operational costs for them come through Federal Amtrak Appropriations; not from states or communities like "state-supported" service. 
Thank you for your interest, I just wanted to flag this study for you to follow as well. 
Dan Bilka  
Co-Founder & President, All Aboard Northwest 
Coordinator, Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Coalition 
Director, Rail Passengers Association 
Fmr. South Dakota Representative
Although I grew up in Elkton near Sioux Falls and spent nearly 30 years in the Black Hills and ten in Montana my current obsession is integrating the New Mexico Rail Runner with the Santa Fe Southern spur to Lamy into a route to Denver!


Pinyon jays destined for ESA protection

In August of 2019 warblers, swallows and flycatchers died in large numbers throughout the southern Rockies. Scientists studying them noted their emaciated conditions and reduced body fat. 

Half of all migratory birds in North America move through the Patagonia, Arizona flyway along the San Pedro River. The robins that love juniper berries and the dark-eyed juncos that feed on grass seeds winter here in Santa Fe County. 

Pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) live here year round and mob the bird bath in a flock of about forty every morning but the bird's numbers have declined 80% in the last fifty years.
U.S. wildlife managers announced Wednesday that they will investigate whether a bird that is inextricably linked to the piñon and juniper forests that span the Western United States warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. The pinyon jay’s numbers have declined over the last half-century as persistent drought, more severe wildfires and other effects of climate change have intensified, leaving the birds with less food and fewer nesting options as more trees die or are removed. [U.S. wildlife managers to review plight of New Mexico bird linked to piñon forests]
They even used to be seen in the Black Hills of South Dakota but no longer according to SDSU Graduate Student Emily Macklin and Professor Amanda Cheeseman PhD.

Click on the image for a closer look.


Santa Fe trade route likely ancient

Food and reproduction. Flint and pyrite make fire.

Perhaps as long ago as 23,000 years human footprints were pressed into the mud along the shore of prehistoric Lake Otero now called Alkali Flat just west of the gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It's believed the hunters who made that trackway carried spears tipped with the large fluted stone points of the so-called Clovis culture. 

A Clovis site in Alaska dated to about 12,400 years ago has led most archaeologists to believe the culture arose only after their arrival to North America. Exploiting the gap between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode those Clovis People were the first humans to see the Missouri Buttes and Mahto Tipila in Wyoming. The Clovis culture thrived on the high plains and in the Black Hills before settling the rest of the Mississippi basin but those pioneers had already explored parts of Montana long before they found Clovis, New Mexico where their stone tools were unearthed in the 1920s. 

Before US 14 was widened a team led by Adrien Hannus from Augustana University uncovered evidence of human habitation from over 12,000 years ago in a cave in Boulder Canyon near Sturgis, South Dakota. At one excavation site in Wyoming evidence revealed that humans killed a mammoth with a Clovis pointed spear launched from an atlatl, a type of throwing stick. Nearby Inyan Kara Peak in the Wyoming Black Hills is the bastardization of Amerindian words where chert was quarried for atlatl points. 

The relatively small distance along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana and the Front Range between the Pecos River in New Mexico and the Missouri at Fort Peck reminds me again how the earliest humans in North America who were thwarted by glaciers, the dire wolf, and Smilodon on everything north of the Sangre de Cristos terminating at Santa Fe blazed the Pecos Trail from west to east into the southern Great Plains and Mississippi Valley to find an inland paradise teeming with prey. 

Athabaskan is the root language of many Pacific coastal people also of the Diné or Navajo and of the Apache.

I believe the ancestors of the Chacoans came up the Columbia and the Snake Rivers then into ancient Lake Bonneville in Utah and down the western slope of the Rocky Mountains into the Four Corners Region. At the southern terminus of the Rockies near Santa Fe interaction with the Clovis culture seems perfectly likely. Numic is an Ito-Aztecan language and the linguistic base for most western slope tribes including Mono, Comanche and even Shoshone. 

In Southern California the success of pre-Clovis humans caused a mass extinction event.

Indigenous history in the Valles caldera goes back at least 8,000 years and obsidian quarried there for knives and projectile points is found throughout the region. The ancestors of Jemez Pueblo or Walatowa migrated into the area in the late 13th Century after Mesa Verde was laid bare. Some linguists have grouped local Keres speakers with Siouan and Iroquoisian dialects.

Santa Fe Indian Market 2023 is featuring an Alaska Native exhibition happening now.


Today's intersection: industrial agriculture and anthrax in North Dakota

We modeled location-specific effects of land use on grassland bird habitat use for four grassland bird species (bobolink [Dolichonyx oryzivorus], grasshopper sparrow [Ammodramus savannarum], Savannah sparrow [Passerculus sandwichensis], and western meadowlark [Sturnella neglecta]) in North Dakota, a state experiencing rapid growth in both energy sectors. Our analysis showed that grassland birds responded more negatively to biofuel feedstocks (i.e., corn and soybeans) on the landscape compared with oil and gas development. Our results indicate that expansion of oil and gas development has negatively affected habitat use by some grassland birds, but this impact was more localized when compared to biofuel crops. [Trending against the grain: Bird population responses to expanding energy portfolios in the US Northern Great Plains]
There are now 16 premises affected by anthrax in southwest North Dakota; 15 laboratory-confirmed cases and one probable case based on clinical signs. One confirmed case is in eastern Hettinger County with the remaining cases in Grant County. The cases were confirmed by the North Dakota State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. “While typically only a few anthrax cases are reported in North Dakota every year, it can cause devastating losses in affected herds,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “Weather and soil conditions have contributed to the number of cases we’re seeing this year.” [North Dakota beef cattle anthrax cases increase; Hettinger County now affected]


Leaders: Peltier release could encourage more Indigenous people to vote

In 1974, President Richard Nixon issued a limited presidential pardon to convicted killer William Calley of My Lai Massacre fame after he and American troops, some under his command, raped and butchered some 500 unarmed Vietnamese people in 1968. 

Leonard Peltier is guilty of far, far lesser offenses. 

After being convicted in 1977 he was sentenced to two life terms for being present at the killing of two enemy combatants under the fog of war on a battlefield inside the Oglala Lakota Nation in occupied South Dakota in 1975. 

Peltier applied for compassionate release in 2018 and again in 2020 but was always denied because Donald Trump despises American Indians

In a letter dated April 24, 2021 former New Mexico US Representative from the Third District Deb Haaland now Secretary of the Interior and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ, 3rd District) asked Pres. Joe Biden for a grant of clemency and the release of Leonard Peltier, a 78-year old tribal citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Peltier attended the Flandreau Indian School in the late 1950s where my mom practice-taught in the mid 1960s and learned first hand how Indigenous Americans were made to write in English.

Peltier has six surviving children and his eldest son, Chauncey is co-founder of the Indigenous Rights Center in Albuquerque but lives in Portland, Oregon. Native Americans overwhelmingly turned out to vote for Joe Biden and efforts led by the Democratic National Committee's Native American Caucus to convince the Biden White House to grant clemency are ongoing.
Fawn Sharp, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, said in a Monday letter to Biden that he regularly talks about his commitment to strengthening the federal government’s relationship with Native communities. In another letter sent to Biden on Wednesday, Suzan Harjo, a longtime Indigenous rights advocate and 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, traced her professional history with the president from the 1970s through 2014. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about whether the president is weighing clemency or has seen the new letters about Peltier. [Top Indigenous Leaders Press Biden On Why He Hasn’t Freed Leonard Peltier]
The United States' longest war wasn't in Afghanistan; it was against Indigenous Americans and ran from about 1785 to at least 1975. Leonard Peltier is a prisoner of that war.


Chronic wasting disease, white nose syndrome surge as insect numbers decline

Kill off apex predators like grizzlies, wolves and cougars, spray atrazine, neonicotinoids and glyphosate on everything then wonder why cervids like deer and wapiti contract a prion contagion like chronic wasting disease?

CWD is surging in Midwest states like Iowa and Minnesota but Wyoming and Colorado are seeing spikes, too. According to Wyoming Game and Fish, the disease, which occurs mainly in male cervids like wapiti, moose and deer, is found in 34 of the state's 37 mule deer herds and in 15 of the state’s 36 elk herd units. In parts of Canada 85% of male mule deer and 35% of females are infected. Colorado Parks and Wildlife's mandatory testing revealed increases in CWD in three of the state's mule deer herds.

A warming climate is blamed for part of increased transmission rates but researchers say the federal government's feeding of elk, especially in Wyoming, in close proximity is also a factor. Hay fed to those animals is likely contaminated with Roundup® and other pesticides. Scavengers like American crows can move the disease from gut pile to gut pile and can remain in soils for years.
Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, or RMBL, report that flying insects in the mountains outside of Crested Butte have declined more than 60% since 1986. “Increasingly we are seeing insect declines in places that are more pristine, which is much more alarming,” said Julian Resasco, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado. While historically seen as agricultural pests and personal nuisances, insects and other invertebrates (no backbone) are increasingly recognized for the vital services they provide in nature: pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling and sustenance for birds and other animals higher on the food chain. [Insects are in dramatic decline in Colorado, 35-year-long study reveals]
Carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate) is a white crystalline solid commonly sold under the brand name Sevin®, a trademark of the Bayer Group. It kills beneficial insects like honeybees as well as crustaceans not to mention its havoc wreaked on fungal communities and amphibians. Sevin® is often produced using methyl isocyanate the chemical that Union Carbide used to kill thousands of people in Bhopal, India. The deadly chemicals migrate easily into waterways then into groundwater. 

Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) is the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome and in part because of WNS the US Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protection in 2016 for the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) despite protestations from Republicans. In January of this year the US Fish and Wildlife Service extended the date to the end of March for reclassification of the northern long-eared bat from threatened to endangered. Insects coated with industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals in water supplies are weakening immune systems spreading WNS to bats as part of Earth's anthropogenic-driven sixth mass extinction. 

Last year Colorado officials found Pd in Baca, Larimer and Routt Counties now the National Park Service has detected the disease in a Yuma bat (Yuma myotis) near La Junta. The US Environmental Protection Agency has found that virtually all endangered species are threatened by pesticides like Carbaryl. 

In my home state of South Dakota 650 cases of chronic wasting disease have been reported since 2001 and in 2022 34 elk and deer were found to be infected; now, South Dakota beekeepers are reporting massive collapses of colonies because of pesticides. In the northern Great Plains songbirds are losing ground to industrial agriculture.

In its latest management plan the Gila National Forest includes added pesticide applications despite protests from preservation advocates.


Cody, Wyoming's christians and mormons at odds over 'McTemple'

Update: McTemple off again.


Cody’s controversial Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple project was finally approved on Tuesday after four city Planning and Zoning meetings to consider it. At the last meeting, church representatives said they could turn off the tower lights from 1 a.m. until 5 a.m., but at the August meeting, church officials suggested they could turn off the tower lights from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. each day, and might reduce the tower height from 100 feet to 85 feet. [Wyoming Public Radio]

Reading through newspaper websites serving the Mountain West every morning often leaves this blogger shaking his head over stuff found among the electrons. 

Back in 2015 the Casper Star-Tribune covered a meeting of the Cody, Wyoming school board where teabaggers were resisting teaching truths to American students.
That agenda, they say, includes discussion of global warming and a disproportionate focus on the stories of minorities. Aligned to the controversial Common Core State Standards, the readings cover a variety of subjects including global warming, evolution and race. Material for high school students also focuses on British, American and contemporary literature. Many opponents of the readings, such as trustee William Struemke, are active in the local Tea Party. Struemke said the materials presented "a very liberal, very slanted view of the world." He complained that stories within the texts are disproportionately about minority groups and that he would like to see more "white leaders" included. [Complaints about global warming, race stall Cody school board]
The Cody Enterprise covered the story, too.

Little has changed.

Cody's evangelical christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are quarreling over the erection of a temple. One respondent to a Cody Enterprise story quipped, "they're called McTemples. The only thing missing is a sign out front saying 'Billions Extorted.'" 

But seriously, what is the LDS church if not a white supremacist cult? Mormons are, of course, not christians at all so it's been front page news at the Cody Enterprise for months.
The Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods Group, which opposes constructing a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple off Skyline Drive, has asked to “intervene” in the church’s lawsuit to ensure its interests will be represented throughout the proceedings. The motion was filed by the group’s attorney, Debra Wendtland of Sheridan. The LDS Church sued the city planning and zoning board on a voting technicality, arguing that when the board voted 3-2 in favor of the site plan at its June 15 meeting, the site plan passed rather than failed. [Cody Enterprise]
The brouhaha has spilled over into neighboring Powell.
There is no reason we cannot agree with each other on the things that concern some of you and us. If you just don’t like us, I am very sorry. If this is the case, I would like to meet you personally so we can become friends, like three of my many Cody friends, Mac Taggart, Glenn Nielson and Sen. Alan Simpson, and in Powell, Dick Jones and Keith Bloom. Please, let us get together, without a large crowd, settle our questions and continue on in peace, harmony and unity. We want to please the people of Cody so they will be happy for us to come join them in the temple, shop or whatever. 
Thank you, 
S. Mads Cottrell,  Powell, Past Stake President of the Cody Wyoming LDS Stake (1983-93)
Pastor Shane Legler at Garland Community Church of God wonders why religionists can't all get along.

Two appeals are pending in Park County District Court. 

LDS is not so much a religion as it is a social contract: probably why there is so much suspicion from Calvinists. Just seems like another pyramid scheme exacting pounds of flesh while employing tax-exempt status to me.


Screw Dan Ahlers

Since at least 2014 this interested party has been saying the South Dakota Democratic Party should look at a DFL-type strategy.

Minnehaha County is going to step up and own the South Dakota Democratic Party if county chairs don't fire up their delegates to go to the goddamned convention. If candidates want support from the party they should know what the platform is and not announce a run expecting the party to back them, especially if they don't attend the convention. Platforms are crafted at the convention by delegates who are frustrated that candidates like Dan Ahlers, Billie Sutton, Joe Lowe and Tim Bjorkman completely ignored what the party stands for. Billie Sutton was a fart in a haboob who bought Susan Wismer's mailing list and bombed my inbox begging for money. 

During the 2016 presidential primary Senator Bernie Sanders won West River, ffs. 

While the author of interested party is a staunch Democrat and has been 100% correct on how to run a credible political campaign in South Dakota up til now it's been far too revolutionary to represent South Dakota Democrats in the party's present deflated context. When only one Democratic South Dakota native knows what wins elections in that state, life might be easier if this scrivener just jammed a fork up his nose. Combined with a split in the SDGOP South Dakota Democrats could become competitive again. 

Dan Ahlers is a Democrat in name only at best and a mansplainer at worst. If he doesn’t know how to negotiate with a progressive sitting as Chair he was ill-suited for the position anyway and should have butt out before now. 

So, not running someone, anyone, against Republican At-large US Representative Howdy Doody Dusty Johnson in 2020 and again in 2022 are more embarrassments for the South Dakota Democratic Party who hasn’t won a statewide race since 2008. Johnson has never stopped raising money so the SDDP needs to hound the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for cash and start running opposition ads on every commercial radio station in South Dakota. My party can recruit some respected Democrats to record radio spots then bombard the airwaves paving the way to 2024. 

Johnson needs to be held accountable for coddling a would be dictator and building a war chest on the Big Lie, for his failures to support Medicaid, for voting against marriage, for not moving on immigration reform and for his culpability in driving talent from South Dakota. But he certainly knows which side of his bread gets buttered so the extreme white wing of the Republican Party owns him lock, stock and schlock. Johnson went from being a likable moderate to becoming just another tool of the oligarchs who hoard trillions in South Dakota’s banks and trusts because, hey, that’s where the money is. When a handful of Republicans need socialized freight rail to ship subsidized grain Howdy Doody Dusty is all aboard but when thousands need passenger rail he’s ambivalent then votes against the Earth and for the Trump agenda without remorse. 

Johnson wasn’t duped by Maria Butina, he was an accomplice!

If Professor Reynold Nesiba thinks so highly of himself he should put on his best class and announce for the seat Dusty Johnson simply cuts the cheese into. 

The addition of Dan Ahlers as executive director was an attempt to dilute the progressive message most South Dakota Democrats hope to convey and anything else is capitulation to the hate the SDGOP heaps on voters.


SD Supreme Court sends Detmers v. Costner back to LawCo circuit

In 1994 after the success of Dances With Wolves actor Kevin Costner purchased a 240-acre parcel in Spearditch Canyon from Homestake Mining Company and traded it to the US Forest Service for 900 acres just north of Deadwood in occupied South Dakota and east of the Preacher Smith Monument some of it straddling Whitewood Creek. Costner was ostracized afterwards by the tribal nations signatory to the Fort Laramie Treaty so he funded Tatanka: Story of the Bison, home to several of Peggy Detmers' magnificent bronze sculptures

After receiving only $310,000 of $4 million allegedly promised to Detmers she sued Costner in 2008 for breach of a contract they signed in 2000. It took Detmers nine years to complete the bronzes commissioned for the resort euphemistically known to locals as the Un-Dunbar property until Costner sold most of it in 2020

Detmers argues Costner not only reneged on a promise but that a lower court erred on a definition of “permanent.” So in March as part of its spring traveling session the South Dakota Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments for a second time in Detmers v. Costner

On Thursday a unanimous decision sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit in Lawrence County saying Judge Eric Strawn indeed ruled incorrectly. According to Chief Justice Steven Jensen, “The circuit court erred in its conclusion that Costner had no remaining obligation under paragraph three of the Agreement after the parties agreed to display the sculptures at Tatanka.”
In my sculpture court case, the local judge literally chose to ignore the evidence where my client backed up my testimony in 3 publications. Then that judge said I was less believable! The Appeals Court sided with me due to taking into account the ignored evidence. Then, when it got to the SD Supreme Court, who ruled against me, one of the judges argued, "It was unrealistic that the artist believed her client could live up to the clause"-- in a contract that he signed???!!! Legal scholars are saying that argument from a judge obviously does not follow business law and puts at risk any contract written in the state of South Dakota. 
PUBLIC NOTICE - The SD Supreme Court ruled I accepted that my sculptures were to remain on permanent display at Tatanka. I gave my client a 2 million dollar discount to be a part of a luxury resort on that property of which Takanka was to become a part of, as my client himself stated to that Supreme Court. If he is unable to comply with that I have the right to demand the sculptures to be sold, of which I am to receive 50% of the sale, minus the firm hard costs of the production of those sculptures. In the meantime, I have 20% of that copyright for sale for items in 3D form, and 5% in souvenir form. I am opening up the sale of those copyright ownerships to the public. [Detmers, Faceberg post now deleted]
Homestake dumped cyanide and other toxins into Whitewood Creek for a hundred years so the waterway was named a Superfund site in 1981. But, before selling to Canadian miner Barrick, Homestake and Costner restored some of it in 1994 and the stream was taken off the Superfund list in 1996 when their deal with Costner was settled.

It’s believed Costner’s net worth is somewhere around $320 million.

The listing for the $7 million property is linked here and in March the broker told an interested party via text that the sculptures are not part of the sale but will indeed be moved if and when the property sells.


Sioux Falls, Billings, Boise added to Amtrak expansion

Update: not impossible that the North Coast Hiawatha could run one train daily though Helena and one through Butte. 


With help from Democratic Senator Jon Tester the Big Sky Rail Authority, twenty Montana counties and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Northern Cheyenne and Apsáalooke Nations are closer to bringing the former North Coast Hiawatha to life. The Authority hopes to restore passenger rail across southern Montana from North Dakota to Idaho and include some 47 stops in seven states

Note the big hole in the map. In my home state of South Dakota I have modified my proposal for passenger rail from Minneapolis to Rapid City through Sioux Falls for a route from the Twin Cities or Mankato on tracks owned by the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad to Brookings and Pierre then Rapid City and Cheyenne. 

A 2015 multi-modal intercity passenger rail plan proposed 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. Now an expanded proposal does just that.
Billings to Denver, Portland to Boise, El Paso to Albuquerque. Those are just a few of the new routes found on a map recently produced by the Federal Railroad Administration of a dramatically expanded long-distance passenger train network. But some routes have never had service in the Amtrak era, such as between Billings and Denver, a route that was last served in the 1960s by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy’s Shoshone. Other notable city pairs that could be served by an expanded long-distance network include Flagstaff and Tucson, Ariz., Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and Atlanta and Savannah, Ga. [Justin Franz, FRA’s Long-Distance Study Produces Map of Expanded Amtrak Services]


Eastern Oregon still embracing racist past

Because of his brutality during the 1855 Battle of Ash Hollow the Lakota called butcher and war criminal, William S. Harney, "Woman Killer." Earlier in his military career Harney beat an enslaved Black women to death with a rawhide whip but was acquitted by a white jury. 

Since that time George Custer, Phil Sheridan, George Crook and William Harney all committed crimes against humanity yet their names still besmirch numerous government and geographical features.

The French and Spanish were the first European invaders in what is now the northwest United States and when Lewis and Clark explored before it was Oregon when much of the region was inhabited by the Northern Paiute. The Malheur River Indian Reservation was created by President Ulysses Grant by executive order in 1871 for Paiutes living at Fort Harney until the Bannock War of 1878 dissolved the settlement. Harney County was split from Grant County in 1889 at the time of Statehood and Burns was named county seat. When it was admitted to the Union the Oregon Constitution even contained a clause forbidding Negroes from moving to the state. 

Members of the Wadatika band of Burns Paiute sometimes known as the Harney Valley Paiute spread from the Cascade Mountains to Boise, Idaho but didn't receive federal recognition until 1968. 

Today, white Republicans in the Northwest have clearly embraced the idea that the ground they live on was seized for them from aboriginal cultures by liberal democrat, President Thomas Jefferson through an executive order that even he believed was unconstitutional.
Even before its borders were drawn, people floated the idea of creating a slave-owning haven in what is now southern Oregon and Northern California, branding it the “Territory of Jackson,” after President Andrew Jackson. Confederate sympathizers considered several of the new state’s southernmost counties “the Dixie of Oregon.” Later, in the mid-20th century, the State of Jefferson movement emerged in the same area; it nixed owning slaves, but retained a slave owner as its namesake. [Leah Sottile, Oregon’s Greater Idaho movement echoes a long history of racism in the region]
Yes, it never ceases to amuse how Republicans paint Democrats as the party of slavery then praise the slaveowners who penned not just the Bill of Rights but the Declaration of Independence, too. 

James Wesley Rawles coined the phrase American Redoubt in 2011. From his SurvivalBlog.com he supposes Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington are survivalist havens for the white christian nationalist movement.
“I’m just going to straight-up disagree,” said the other panelist, Carina Miller, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and chair of the Columbia River Gorge Commission. Throughout the night, Miller repeated one phrase — “societal gaslighting.” She described growing up Indigenous in Oregon, where she received an education that normalized racist policies toward tribes, and where a boarding school built to assimilate Native youth still operates. [Sottile]
Now, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, US Marshalls Service and state officials are warning of white christianic zealots telegraphing pending violence against law enforcement especially in Oregon and Idaho. 

Redneck crackers brand Black Lives Matter protesters as unemployed slackers but a horde of Huns that takes over a federal wildlife refuge in Harney County to hasten the End Days can call themselves patriots? 

The American Left poses no violent threat to the United States while the hate-filled extreme white wing of the Republican Party always will.


NDN Collective Coming to SITE Santa Fe

Santa Fe, NM – On Friday, August 18, NDN Collective will hold “Radical Imagination Experience – The Art of Creative Resistance and Change,” a free, immersive community event that will take place alongside the Southwestern Association of American Indian Art (SWAIA) market.
“Radical Imagination Experience – Art of Creative Resistance and Change” will run from 11:00am to 9:00pm MT at SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501).
In 2012, the Southwest Association of Indian Arts hosted hundreds of booths, many millions of dollars worth of jaw-dropping work created by mostly Hopi and Navajo but many pueblos within New Mexico and Arizona were represented, too.

There was outstanding participation from tribes within South Dakota, several Cherokee, Paiute, and Lummi. There was a Blackfeet booth, Red Lake and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Penobscot, the inaugural First Nations' entry plus NA-kota, Sisseton-Wahpeton and Athabascan.