Derailed oil train explodes, burns in North Dakota
A grain car that derailed toppled tanker cars carrying Bakken crude on Monday afternoon about a mile from Casselton, causing several explosions and a fire that sent a toxic plume over the North Dakota community, where a number of the 2,400 residents of the town heeded voluntary evacuation orders.
Denver Post; Dec. 31
Federal scientists say mercury levels around Alberta oilsands rising
At an international toxicology conference in Nashville last month, Environment Canada scientist Jane Kirk said that measurements taken by a team of the agency's scientists indicated that mercury contamination from Alberta's oilsands affected roughly 7,336 square miles of the province.
Canada.com (Postmedia News); Dec. 30
Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" appears every Tuesday online, and can be seen in the Indy's printed pages every Thursday.
The Urban Dictionary defines the term “Hold my beer and watch this” as a “Redneck’s last words.” A Google search for the phrase turns up videos and slideshows of seemingly intoxicated people performing feats such as jumping a motorcycle over a flaming kiddie pool and driving an ATV backward off of a bluff.
Just who owns the slogan is the subject of a Dec. 20 lawsuit filed in federal court by Missoula’s Big Sky Brewing Co. against Anheuser-Busch. The makers of Moose Drool and Scape Goat argue in the suit that they trademarked the slogan in 2009 and, as such, Anheuser-Busch is unlawfully using it in a series of promotional videos released last month on YouTube for Bud Light.
The New York Times and Wall Street Journal have highlighted the series as an example of Anheuser-Busch’s increasingly contemporary approach to advertising. Created by actor John Krasinski, who’s best known for his role in “The Office,” the Bud Light videos take a run at the “Hold my beer” meme that, as The New York Times put it, marks “the opposite of what typically goes on in beer ads that celebrate dudes and bros.” In one video, titled “Nana,” an elderly woman celebrating her 100th birthday asks a partygoer to, “Hold my beer and watch this,” before feigning death.
Big Sky notes, however, that Anheuser-Busch knew or should have known that it owns the trademark on the phrase. In fact, the slogan is printed on Big Sky IPA cans. The Missoula brewery argues further in legal filings that Bud Light is harming its reputation by linking the two businesses.
“The aforementioned activities of Anheuser-Busch are likely to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers or potential consumers wishing to purchase Big Sky’s products,” it states.
Big Sky is asking the court to order Anheuser to pull the videos, and requesting damages to compensate for lost revenue.
Big Sky co-founder Neal Leathers declined to comment about the lawsuit, other than to say, “Who knows what’s going to come from it all.”
Rob McCarthy, Bud Light’s marketing vice president, issued a written statement to the Independent that says the company did nothing wrong.
“There is no trademark use of the phrase ‘Hold my beer and watch this,’ nor is there intent to create any association with Big Sky,” he says. “Countless other videos and jokes use the same or similar words as a punch line or hashtag.”
St. Patrick Hospital announced today that it will eliminate its Life Flight program and replace it with an air ambulance service provided by the Spokane-based nonprofit Northwest MedStar. Northwest MedStar will begin operations on April 2, 2014.
The announcement comes as part of St. Patrick Hospital's $5 million restructuring plan, which includes early retirements and layoffs at the hospital and other related facilities.
In a press release, the hospital said that its Life Flight program has 16 full-time employees who will be required to apply to new positions at Northwest MedStar.
"We worked really closely with St. Pat's to make sure the process that we have in place is maintaining 100 percent of the staff," says Nicole Stewart, a spokeswoman for Northwest MedStar. "So there is no reason to believe that anyone will be losing their job."
Building boom underway in Montana city
Through the end of November, Billings had issued permits for nearly $395 million in commercial and residential projects, a 64 percent increase over permits issued in 2012, with seven hotels and motels among those projects approved that will add 500 rooms in the Montana city.
Billings Gazette; Dec. 30
For Montana miners, copper up, gold down in 2013
In 2013, a Canadian company hoping to reopen the Drumlummon mine in Montana's Lewis and Clark County walked away from its plan because the price of gold fell below the threshold needed by U.S. Silver and Gold to reopen the mine, while copper's continued strong price ignited Tintina Alaska Exploration Inc.'s interest in opening a copper mine near White Sulphur Springs.
Helena Independent Record; Dec. 30
Montana county awaits return of mining
Revett Minerals' Troy Mine has been shut down for more than a year after landslides forced the company to find a new route to the copper and silver ore in the underground mine, while Mines Management, Inc.'s Montanore Mine is slowing grinding through nearly a decade of environmental reviews, as well as recent litigation over ownership of the entrance to the copper and silver mine, and for Lincoln County, which has the highest unemployment rate in Montana, the hundreds of the jobs those mines would provide, can't come soon enough.
Flathead Beacon; Dec. 30
Nature Conservancy celebrates 1 million acres protected in Montana
At the close of 2013, The Nature Conservancy announced that the nonprofit has had a hand in protecting 1,004,308 acres in Montana from future development, with nearly half of those acres in Western Montana.
Great Falls Tribune; Dec. 30
Curses, Foiled Again
Police charged Nace Eugene Houchin Jr., 33, with murdering a woman in Williamsburg, Va., after they found a handwritten note in his wallet “confessing to the homicide,” according to the arrest report. Besides detecting multiple fingerprints on the note that matched Houchin’s, a handwriting analysis concluded that he “more than likely” wrote the letter. (Williamsburg’s The Virginia Gazette)
Problem Solved (Chinese Style)
Chinese people are coping with rampant air pollution by sticking cigarette butts up their noses, believing that the filters will lessen the ill effects of smog. “Take two cigarette filters, strip away the wrapping papers and insert them in the nostrils,” one user posted on the social media website Sina Weibo. State media reported that some doctors agree that the technique effectively restricts polluted air from entering the nasal cavity, although it also obstructs normal breathing. (India’s Business Standard)
Guangming Road Primary School in China’s Hebei province began teaching children kung fu to defend against air pollution. The school has developed 23 moves, two of which involve pressing an acupoint to help promote lungs’ detoxification and breathing deeply into the belly to dispel residue gas left in human organs, according to the school’s deputy dean, Wei Huangiang, who designed the program. The school requires its 470 students to do the exercises, which take two minutes to complete, four times a day on smoggy days. (Britain’s International Business Times)
’Tis the Season
More than $1 billion on gift cards goes unredeemed each year, according to CEB TowerGroup, even though a law enacted in 2009 requires cards to remain valid for five years. That timeline turns out to be the problem. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of small businesses last five years. What’s more, Elliot Bohm, CEO of CardCash.com, which buys gift cards at a discount from consumers and re-sells them, the five-year time to expiration encourages people to delay using the cards, thus increasing their chance of getting lost. (The Wall Street Journal)
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales ordered 300,000 government workers to be given an extra month’s pay as a Christmas bonus, on top of the extra month’s pay already required by law. “The country’s growth should return to the workers,” Morales declared. (Britain’s International Business Times)
McDonald’s worker resource website offered employees advice on tipping au pairs, personal fitness trainers, pool cleaners, dog walkers, massage therapists. The fast-food giant, which pays its workers an average wage of $9 an hour, previously suggested they get out of holiday-season debt by returning unopened gifts. (CNBC)
Plugging abandoned wells becomes a priority in Wyoming
The shale gas boom in other areas of the United States has shut down hundreds of natural gas wells in Wyoming, and the state is finding that many of those wells are "orphan wells," in that the companies that drilled them are no longer in existence, leaving the state with the cost and task of cleaning them up.
New York Times; Dec. 26
Montana again rejects Ravalli County's attempt to block USFS water claim
Under a 2007 agreement with Montana, the U.S. Forest has filed for junior water rights on 100 streams that flow through national forest lands in the state, including 15 in the Bitterroot National Forest, and Ravalli County has contested four of those filings, with the state rejecting each of those objections because the county has no standing to challenge them.
Ravalli Republic; Dec. 26
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): Edmund Kean (1789-1833) was one of the most famous British actors of his time. But a contemporary, the poet Samuel Coleridge, was frustrated by Kean's inconsistency, regarding him as a great artist who on occasion lapsed into histrionics. "To see him act," said Coleridge, "is like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning." Now and then I get that feeling about you, Aries. You have bursts of brilliance that you sometimes don't follow up on. You're like a superstar who loses your concentration. But I've got a strong feeling that in 2014 you will at least partially overcome this tendency. Your word of power will be consistency.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your last best hope to get rich was back in the latter half of 2001 and the first six months of 2002. From July 2025 to June 2026, the cosmos will again conspire to give you a big fat chance to expedite your cash flow to the max. But why get bogged down dreaming of the past or fantasizing about the future when fertile opportunities to boost your prosperity are in front of you right now? Financial luck is flowing your way. Viable ideas for making money are materializing in your subconscious treasure house. The contacts that could help you build your wealth are ready to play with you. (This offer is good until July 2014.)
CANCER (June 21-July 22): French poet Edmond Jabès had this to say about the birth of big creative ideas that dramatically transform one's life: "For the writer, discovering the work he will write is both like a miracle and a wound, like the miracle of the wound." Regardless of whether or not you're an artist, Cancerian, I expect that you will experience a wrenching and amazing awakening like this in 2014. The opening you've been hoping and working for will finally crack its way into your destiny. It may be one of the most pleasurable disruptions you've ever had.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the coming months, I'm betting that you will exit a confined place or shed cramped expectations or break off your commitment to a compromise that has drained you. It may happen suddenly, or it could take a while to complete. How the escape unfolds will have to do with how thoroughly you extract the lessons that your "incarceration" has made available. Here's a ritual that might also expedite the process: Give a gift to the people you're leaving behind, or offer a blessing in the spot where your difficult teachings have taken place.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): "Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good," says a character in John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden. I suggest that you make this your rallying cry in 2014, Virgo. In fact, why not begin right now, wherever you are? Say "Now that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good." Free yourself of the pressure to be the polished, ultimate embodiment of everything you'd ever hoped you would be. That will allow you to relax into being more content with the intriguing creation you have already become. You may be surprised by how much mojo this affords you.
Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" appears every Tuesday online, and can be seen in the Indy's printed pages every Thursday.
Groups file lawsuit seeking to stop Idaho wolf, coyote hunting derby
On Monday, WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Idaho seeking an injunction to stop the planned coyote and wolf hunting derby scheduled in Salmon on Dec. 28-29.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Dec. 24
U.S. Senate panel passes Montana senator's bill on cabin-permit fees
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week voted to advance to the full Senate Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester's Cabin Fee Act, which would limit future fee increases for cabin sites on U.S. Forest Service lands.
Great Falls Tribune; Dec. 24
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