Some of you may be counting the days until you can put on your leather vest and eat a platter of Rocky Mountain Oysters. For you, this week's Happiest Hour looks at the annual Testy Festy.
The U.S. Senate last night rejected the inclusion of the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement in a $60 billion appropriations bill for the War in Afghanistan, continuing months of congressional squabbling over the historic legal agreement. This is the second time the Senate has failed to take action for Indian Country, the first occurring in June when the jobs bill the settlement had been tacked to was caught in a filibuster. The House of Representatives passed the settlement as part of both bills.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blasted Republicans like Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., repeatedly this summer for stalling the December 2009 settlement. Elouise Cobell, the chief plaintiff in the 14-year legal battle, has accused Republicans of attempting to kill the settlement completely by proposing serious changes to the amount of money awarded to Indian Country for the Department of the Interior's mismanagement of trust accounts. But Reid's criticisms seem somewhat out of place in light of last night's Senate vote, which at 46-51 suggests several Democrats opposing passage of the settlement as well.
The settlement also met with skepticism from several organizations in Indian Country this summer, who support the changes recommended by Barrasso and others. Pres. Barack Obama and the plaintiffs in the Cobell case have declared Aug. 6 their latest deadline for approval of the settlement.
The Montana ACLU and seven same-sex couples from across the state filed a lawsuit yesterday in Helena’s First Judicial Court against the state of Montana for failing to offer legal protections to same-sex couples and their families.
The suit, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, claims same sex couples are being denied their rights of privacy, dignity and the pursuit of life’s basic necessities as provided for in the Montana Constitution.
Under Montana law, it is now possible for same-sex couples to be barred from visiting their partners in the hospital and to be left out of conversations about emergency medical care. Montana inheritance laws refuse to recognize same-sex couples, and can leave surviving partners with nothing if their partners die without valid wills. The lawsuit seeks a mechanism such as the domestic partnership laws adopted by several other states to provide similar protections for committed same-sex couples.
Pat Williams served nine terms as a U.S. representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and is currently teaching at the University of Montana. He occasionally writes op-ed columns, and recently submitted this one on recession spending:
During the early 1950s, the nation, our state, and my hometown of Butte, Montana, were suffering through a year-long economic recession. My parents owned restaurants in Butte and business was hurting, as it was for almost everyone.
Not yet a teenager, I remember my Dad convincing Mom that, “Come spring we should put a new front on the building.” She objected saying the times were too difficult, customers were not walking through the doors, and the restaurant’s rainy-day fund was already being tapped.
We've written about Hank Green before, but the YouTube sensation's celebrity continues to expand. Hank and his brother John's wildly successful Vlogbrothers channel recently cracked the website's Top 100 list. The brothers—Hank lives in Missoula; John in Indianapolis—started a video diary (aka vlog) back in 2007 and, through the dedicated support of their fans (aka "Nerdfighters"), they've garnered 325,227 all-time subscribers. That's good enough to rank No. 87 on YouTube.
Missoula has the capacity to surprise residents of the bigger—if not necessarily better—cities in America. I’ve known dedicated urbanites who’ve been amazed at the quantity and quality of music, art and community events that this small Montana city produces.
I imagine my reaction to tiny Troy’s unexpected sophistication is somewhat similar. The town’s certainly not strange to me. Growing up in sister city and county seat Libby, I thought of Troy as our weirder, smaller, younger sibling that we usually beat in sports. It wasn’t until I moved away that I realized how ambitious the town could be.
Case in point: last weekend’s third annual Kootenai River Bluegrass Festival. I showed up on Saturday to sample the three-day event, check out the tunes and enjoy the weather. By the end of my stay, I was full to bursting on sun but only craved more music.
Find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Revenge fantasies would pollute your consciousness. I advise you to repress them. Wallowing in resentment would have an equally deleterious effect. Don’t you dare give that emotion a foothold. On the other hand, fantasies of experiencing pleasure and joy, even if they’re escapist illusions, will tonify and invigorate your awareness. I recommend that you indulge in them at great length, unleashing your imagination to explore a variety of blissful scenarios in tremendous detail and with ingenious flourishes. In fact, as your part-time soul doctor, I can’t think of anything else that would be more beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch announced today three ballot proposals garnered enough signatures to qualify for the upcoming November general election. They include:
• I-161, which proposes changing how hunter access programs are funded. If voters approve the measure, it would abolish outfitter-sponsored nonresident licenses and nix the requirement that licensed outfitters supervise hunts conducted by out-of-state clients. It would also increase the cost of a nonresident big game license 43 percent and a combination deer license by 61 percent. Opponents of the initiative claim the signatures were gathered illegally.
• I-164, known as the “payday loan initiative.” The measure proposes limiting the annual interest, fees and charges certain lenders may charge on loans to 36 percent.
• CI-105, which would amend the Montana Constitution to prohibit creating a new tax on the sale or transfer of property in the state.
Noticeably absent from the list is I-160, an initiative to ban trapping on public lands, and the so-called "Personhood Amendment," or CI-102.
“Out of 26 proposed ballot measures, three have successfully met the requirements needed to qualify for the November ballot,” McCulloch said in a release. “Even after we tabulate the remaining signatures, none of the other ballot issues will have enough signatures to qualify.”
In this week's installment: ill-fated proposals, powerful potatoes and the gradual erosion of American education.
Curses, Foiled Again
Police responding to a home-burglary call in Kennewick, Wash., found Nathan Watkins, 31, making a slow-speed getaway on a stolen riding mower in broad daylight, towing a trailer of other lawn-care equipment and a second riding mower.
Police investigating the theft of petty cash from a church in York, Pa., identified Allen Larry Dawes, 28, as their suspect after they found his birth certificate at the crime scene.
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