U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy today threw out a lawsuit spearheaded by resident gun nut Gary Marbut that seeks to validate the 2009 Montana Firearms Freedom Act. Molloy's ruling takes the side of the U.S. Department of Justice, which refutes the act's claim that guns manufactured and sold within a state's borders are free from federal regulation. And it should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the issue that Marbut's overjoyed with the court decision.
"We've believed all along that the federal District Court cannot grant the relief we request," Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said in a statement this afternoon. "We seek to overturn a half-century of bad precedent. Only the U.S. Supreme Court can do that. In that light the pending dismissal by the District Court means little except that we are now free to move to the next step of the process."
Aliens are trying to save us from self-destruction.
So goes UFO researcher Robert Hastings' theory. On Monday, as Ledyard King of the Gannett Washington Bureau reports, Hastings convened a group of former Air Force officers at the National Press Club in Washington who went public with an assertion kept quiet for decades: that UFOs visited the bases they were stationed at—including Montana's Malmstrom Air Force Base—and caused nuclear weapon systems to temporarily malfunction.
Find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages. And this week, find out how Rob works in Paws Up resort.
You've probably heard of 114-year-old Great Falls resident Walter Breuning, who celebrated his latest record-breaking birthday a week ago today. But have you ever heard Breuning talk about living in three different centuries? Here he is in a recent interview offering a few words of advice to all you youngsters:
In this week's installment: indoor chicken diapers, marine snails growing male sex organs on their heads, and a crime involving J-Lo.
Forbes published this week its list of America's 400 wealthiest Americans, and Missoula's own Dennis Washington moved up this year's list to No. 58. Last year, he was ranked 61. According to the magazine, Washington's worth jumped from $4.2 billion in 2009 to $4.5 billion in 2010.
Here's what they wrote about the 76-year-old recession-proof billionaire:
Montana magnate Dennis Washington gets the majority of his wealth from Montana Rail Link railroad, Montana Resources copper and molybdenum mine — and cash. Also owns largest tug and barge fleet in British Columbia and a stake in marine shipping firm Seaspan. As a child Washington bounced around among relatives after his parents divorced. By age 14, he was making his own money doing odd jobs like boxing groceries and shining shoes. Started his own construction firm at age 29. Built reputation on rehabilitation of Butte copper mine, purchased in 1986, and turnaround of bankrupt Morrison Knudsen in 1996. Public company Washington Group International declared bankruptcy in 2001 after tangle with Raytheon (Washington says the company overestimated its value and underestimated its debts). His Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation funds 50 scholarships annually to the University of Montana. It also donated 64,000 acre ranch in Oregon to Young Life, a Christian youth ministry that runs a summer camp for teenagers; building a water slide park on the ranch for disadvantaged youth. Retired from Washington Companies, he spends most of his days refurbishing Attessa IV, a 333-ft. yacht with swimming pool. Scheduled to leave the dry dock in early October for trials.
Speaking of Washington's latest yacht, the Attessa III was mentioned in a recent Oakland Tribune story. That boat is 225 feet and, according to the paper, comes "features an art deco design and is equipped with a movie theater, gym, massage room and two outdoor Jacuzzis."
In other Washington transportation news, we also know that he invited the board of directors from the Horatio Algers Association to Missoula this week, and, after spending time at a nearby ranch, the group took Washington's private train to Cour d'Alene for a meeting. Despite calls to the foundation and Washington's people, we were unable to confirm who exactly attended, but a recent list of directors includes the likes of Lou Dobbs, Clarence Thomas and T. Boone Pickens.
UPDATE: Back to the Forbes list, we should point out that St. Ignatius resident Linda Pritzker also ranked within the Top 400, at No. 308. Pritzker's a Tibetan Buddhist who inherited her fortune from her grandfather, A.N. Pritzker, who helped build the Hyatt hotel chain. Forbes puts Linda Pritzker's worth at $1.3 billion.
Jones could write about lint and we'd probably read it, so I'm wholeheartedly recommending this blog.
The Montana Board of Regents today voted in favor of offering Royce Engstrom the job as The University of Montana's next president.
According to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, all seven voting regents favored authorizing Commissioner Sheila Stearns to enter into an employment contract with Engstrom, who for the past three years has acted as UM's Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. If all goes as planned, Engstrom will take over Oct. 15.
You know what that means?
Time to fire up everyone's favorite website, the Missoula City-County Health Department's online inspection reports, to see why they closed down this infamous local nightspot. The report filed yesterday is long and sorta yucky. Here's some of what we found:
Critical violation No. 1:
Due to the plumbing issues and sewage backup, there is a lot of flies in the facility. In the hole underneath the three-compartment sink, there are signs of harborage and hatching. You must prevent pests and harborage at all times.
Critical violation No. 2, and the longest:
Under the bar service area there is a large hole to which the waste water from both three-compartment sinks, the ice bins, the dump sinks and the ice machine all drain. The pipe leading to what is presumed to be the sanitary sewer is severed and rotten, and most of the water goes directly into the ground, not captured by the sewer line. This is not an approved method of waste water disposal and is also a violation of the City-County Health Code...
It goes on:
...There are signs of sewage backup behind the hatch at the rear of the walk-in cooler. Sewage and debris are visible. There is toilet paper hanging from the hub drain in the pit...
...Not only is this a waste water violation and a violation of plumbing code, this is a high health risk. All of the above violations must be corrected...
There's more, including the Jell-O shots being made in an inadequate prep area, the urinals leaking, pipes in the women's bathroom "wrapped in bubble wrap and duct tape," and a "large amount of mold growth" at the back of the walk-in cooler. I'm no expert, but after reading hundreds of these reports, this one certainly stands out—especially for an establishment that doesn't serve food (Jell-O shots notwithstanding).
A message left with AmVets manager Mike Might this afternoon has yet to be returned. No one answered the door of the bar this afternoon, either. We'll update when/if we hear from him.
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): Rightwing talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a person whose ideas and attitudes repel me. But in the dream I had last night, I enjoyed hanging out with him. He was affable and humorous. We had several fun adventures together. Here’s how I interpret the dream: It doesn’t necessarily mean that Limbaugh is a better human being than my bias allows me to imagine. Rather, I think I’m becoming more relaxed about people I disagree with. I’m less susceptible to being motivated by hatred. I’m able to maintain a live-and-let-live approach to things that used to knock me off center. You’re now set up for a similar shift, Aries. I hope you take advantage.
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