Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rockies Today, September 2

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News:

Lack of funding, technology, political will hobbles mine reclamation in U.S.

The blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado again moved the issue of reclaiming abandoned mines to the forefront, but as with previous such incidents that temporarily raised the issue of addressing abandoned mines in the United States, which would run into the tens of billions of dollars, this, too, shall pass, as will the political will to revamp the 143-year-old Hard Rock Mining Act.
Durango Herald; Sept. 2

Utah congressmen seek info from EPA on Colorado mine spill
In advance of a joint congressional hearing on the blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado on Aug. 5, Utah U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources committee and U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform, along with Wyoming U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, vice chair of the Natural Resources committee, sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection demanding documents pertaining to the mine spill be produced by Sept. 14, in advance of a joint congressional hearing on the spill on Sept. 17.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 2

Wildfires burned more than 8 million acres this year in the U.S.
As of Tuesday, 8,202,557 acres of land in the United States had been burned by wildfires, and there are currently 65 large active wildfires, primarily in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California, putting this year in the company of six other years since 2000, where wildfires have scorched more than 8 million acres.
Washington Post; Sept. 2

Climate change scientist uses photos to tell Montana park's story
Daniel Fagre is one of the top climate change scientists in the United States, and he's been documenting the disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana, providing photographic evidence of their decline, as well as other information on how climate change is affecting the highest lands in the nation.
Flathead Beacon; Sept. 2
Oil prices jump 27 percent in 3 days, fall 8 percent in 1
The price of oil has put the stock market's volatile nature to shame lately, jumping 27 percent in three days, and on Tuesday, dropping 8 percent. The per-barrel price closed Tuesday at $45.41, brought down by new indications that China's economy was slowing.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 2

Federal appeals court returns energy lease dispute to Montana court
On Monday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S. District Court Judge Sam Haddon's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Montana Environmental Information Center, WildEarth Guardians and Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project to force oil and gas companies drilling on federal lands to reduce methane emissions from that work, and returned the lawsuit to Haddon's court for further litigation.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Sept. 2

Nexen shuts down Long Lake oilsands operation in Alberta
The Alberta Energy Regulator ordered Nexen Energy to shut down 95 pipelines in the province on Aug. 25 after Nexen self-reported that it had not been complying with maintenance and monitoring regulations, after which Nexen shut down its Long Lake steam-assisted gravity drainage operation.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Sept. 2

Mining company releases film on Black Butte mine project in Montana
Tintina Resources, which is seeking federal and Montana permits for a copper mine near White Sulphur Springs, released its film, "The Black Butte Copper Project — Working Together," on its website and via YouTube on Tuesday, extolling the benefits of the copper mine to the area of Montana. Earlier this year, Montana Trout Unlimited and the Montana Environmental Information Center, released "Smith River Memories," a video chronicling experiences of floating that river, which opponents of the Black Butte project said would be put at risk if the mine is built.
Helena Independent Record; Sept. 2

USFS tour of natural gas project in Colorado draws opponents
On Tuesday, White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams hosted a tour of a proposed natural gas test well high up in the Thompson Divide west of Carbondale to provide the public with a preview of the process SG Resources will have to follow to proceed, but a number of area ranchers and residents showed up to show their opposition to the project in Colorado.
Aspen Times; Sept. 2

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

Happiest Hour: Single barrel at The Badlander

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 2:33 PM

  • Photo by Derek Brouwer
What you’re drinking: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel at The Badlander

Why it’s special: Whiskey is aged in wooden casks. Most whiskey products are blended from multiple casks to yield uniform characteristics. Single barrel whiskey, however, is bottled from individual casks, so each batch is unique. The certificate noting the bottling date (2008) and barrel number for The Badlander’s batch is on display.

Why you’re drinking it:
Because the cask this Jack was aged in is on top of the bar, feeding sweet Tennessee mash through a coiled metal pipe into a glass dispenser with a lemonade-type knob.

Say what? Okay, the whiskey doesn’t actually flow from the cask—bartenders say Montana law doesn’t allow it. Instead, the whiskey has been individually bottled and is poured into the dispenser. The tube is just for show.

The damage: $7 for a shot. The burning in your throat is included. But hey, it’s got character.

Where and when to find it: Happy hour at The Badlander lasts from 4 to 9 p.m. at 208 Ryman Street in downtown Missoula.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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): “Excess is the common substitute for energy,” said poet Marianne Moore. That’s a problem you should watch out for in the coming weeks. According to my astrological projections, you’re a bit less lively and dynamic than usual. And you may be tempted to compensate by engaging in extreme behavior or resorting to a contrived show of force. Please don’t! A better strategy would be to recharge your power. Lay low and take extra good care of yourself. Get high-quality food, sleep, entertainment, art, love, and relaxation.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): For a pregnant woman, the fetus often begins to move for the first time during the fifth month of gestation. The sensation may resemble popcorn popping or a butterfly fluttering. It’s small but dramatic: the distinct evidence that a live creature is growing inside her. Even if you are not literally expecting a baby, and even if you are male, I suspect you will soon feel the metaphorical equivalent of a fetus’s first kicks. You’re not ready to give birth yet, of course, but you are well on your way to generating a new creation.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “Since U Been Gone” is a pop song recorded by vocalist Kelly Clarkson. She won a Grammy for it, and made a lot of money from its sales. But two other singers turned down the chance to make it their own before Clarkson got her shot. The people who wrote the tune offered it first to Pink and then to Hillary Duff, but neither accepted. Don’t be like those two singers, Gemini. Be like Clarkson. Recognize opportunities when they are presented to you, even if they are in disguise or partially cloaked.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): “Going with the flow” sounds easy and relaxing, but here’s another side of the truth: Sometimes it can kick your ass. The rippling current you’re floating on may swell up into a boisterous wave. The surge of the stream might get so hard and fast that your ride becomes more spirited than you anticipated. And yet I still think that going with the flow is your best strategy in the coming weeks. It will eventually deliver you to where you need to go, even if there are bouncy surprises along the way.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “Money doesn’t make you happy,” said movie star and ex-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “I now have $50 million, but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.” Despite his avowal, I’m guessing that extra money would indeed make you at least somewhat happier. And the good news is that the coming months will be prime time for you to boost your economic fortunes. Your ability to attract good financial luck will be greater than usual, and it will zoom even higher if you focus on getting better educated and organized about how to bring more wealth your way.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “I stand up next to a mountain, and I chop it down with the edge of my hand.” So sang Jimi Hendrix in his raucous psychedelic tune “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” We could view his statement as an example of delusional grandiosity, and dismiss it as meaningless. Or we could say it’s a funny and brash boast that Hendrix made as he imagined himself to be a mythic hero capable of unlikely feats. For the purposes of this horoscope, let’s go with the latter interpretation. I encourage you to dream up a slew of extravagant brags about the outlandish magic powers you have at your disposal. I bet it will rouse hidden reserves of energy that will enhance your more practical powers.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rockies Today, September 1

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News:

President Obama begins Alaska trip with climate change warning
On his first day of a three-day trip in Alaska, President Obama spoke at an international conference on the Arctic in Anchorage, where he spoke of the dangers of a warming climate, a message echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry, who hosted the conference, as well as John P. Holdren, the White House's director of science and technology.
New York Times; Sept. 1

Low oil prices drag Alberta closer to recession
On Monday, the Alberta government's economic update indicated that the province's deficit could grow to $6.5 billion, as low oil prices continue to hammer the province's economy, and neighboring Saskatchewan reported that its budget deficit could be $292 million. Canada's economic forecast due out today is predicted to confirm the nation is in a recession.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Sept. 1
  • Energy companies cut hundreds of jobs in Alberta
    ConocoPhillips Canada announced Tuesday it was shedding 15 percent of its workforce, with most of the 400 layoffs occurring in Calgary, a move mirrored by Penn West Petroleum Ltd.'s announcement that it was cutting 35 percent of its workforce, which also cut 400 jobs, primarily in the Alberta city.
    Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); Sept. 1
Analysis: Low energy prices could cut Wyoming revenue by 10%
Using Wyoming Legislative Service Office numbers on how mineral prices change state revenue, WyoFile's analysis found that current oil and gas prices could mean 10 percent less revenue flowing to state coffers, and while Gov. Matt Mead did not put a number on his forecast, he did say, “We’re headed for lean times," at a recent press conference.; Sept. 1

New data showing lower U.S. oil production sends prices higher
The U.S. Energy Information Administration released new data on oil production that found lower rates than previously estimated, with daily production dropping in June to just under 9.3 million barrels, down 100,000 bpd from revised May figures, and the market immediately responded to the new numbers, with the per-barrel price of oil going up on Monday by 6 percent, adding to the $7-per barrel gain reported at the end of last week.
Reuters; Sept. 1

Wyoming regulators deny ninth extension for Two Elk Power plant
At its meeting on Monday, the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council declined to give North American Power Group a ninth extension on its permit to build the Two Elk Power Plant near Wright. The project was first proposed in 1996 as a coal-fired plant, then subsequently a biomass plant and currently a natural-gas power plant. A spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality said the Council's decision will allow the DEQ to withdraw the permit, but North American Power Group officials said they will continue to pursue the project.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 1

Mayor of Kamloops say B.C. mine review will be independent
Because a portion of the KGHM's proposed Ajax open-pit gold and copper mine will lie within the city limits of Kamloops, the British Columbia city is getting an independent review of the project, although KGHM is picking up the tab for the study, and while concerned residents are pleased that the city is getting a review of the project, they question its independence given whose paying for it, but Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar said KGHM's involvement in the study will begin and end with writing the check to pay for it.
Vancouver Sun; Sept. 1

Montana seeks federal approval of grizzly bear protection agreement
On Monday, the Montana Land Board approved a settlement of a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Wild Swan, the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2013 to protect grizzly bears in the the Stillwater and Coal Creek state forests, and now the agreement, which bans building roads areas deemed "security zones", imposes seasonal restrictions on logging and limits motorized activities as well, is awaiting approval of a federal court. If the settlement is approved, six logging projects can move forward under the terms of the deal.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Sept. 1

Audit: Well-intentioned tax break in Colorado costing state millions
In 2000, Colorado gave residents aged 65 or older a property tax break and, in 2006, expanded the break to disabled veterans, but a recent audit found that the exemptions were often claimed by nonresidents and others not entitled to such breaks, costing the state millions of dollars in property tax revenues, and the audit faulted the state for not making counties accountable for checking to ensure taxpayers claiming the incentives were eligible for them.
Denver Post; Sept. 1

Federal judge rules USFS analysis of Montana timber sale still inadequate
On Monday, U.S. District Court Brian Morris found that the expanded analysis submitted in July by the U.S. Forest Service of the 2,500-acre Lonesome Wood 2 timber sale along Hebgen Lake in Montana, which Morris ordered done in response to a lawsuit filed in 2013 by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council challenging the initial analysis done of the timber sale, was still not adequate and kept his injunction on the timber sale in place.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Sept. 1

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

Land art

Prime soil conservation finds a different kind of advocate

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Artist Claire Emery creates a circle out of local soil to raise awareness about the disappearance of vital farmland. - PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVERSONG PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo courtesy of Riversong Photography
  • Artist Claire Emery creates a circle out of local soil to raise awareness about the disappearance of vital farmland.

On a recent Saturday morning, Missoula artist Claire Emery stands next to a wheelbarrow of dirt in the middle of the Clark Fork Market. In front of her is a large circle made of two flat metal pieces, which mark the ground like a giant cookie cutter. She scoops soil from the wheelbarrow and shakes it through a sifter, letting it cover the pavement inside the circle. The soil has become a focus of curiosity. Some people step through it without noticing, others stroll past with a puzzled stare, giving it a wide berth.

“It’s a really interesting sociological study of how aware people are of their environment,” Emery says.

Emery’s soil project is personal and political. The artist is probably best known in the local arts community for her woodblock prints depicting butterflies and woodpeckers, barns under swirling skies and cottonwoods blowing in the wind. But she’s long had an interest in agriculture issues—she helped found the University of Montana’s Farm-to-College program in 2002, for instance—and has recently teamed up with Missoula’s Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, an organization that has been working for at least a decade on saving prime farmland in Missoula County. All summer Emery has been creating soil circles in parking lots where farmland used to be, including at Target and Wal-Mart. She didn’t ask permission, though no one hassled her, she says.

She uses soil she collected from local farmers. When people come up to ask what she’s doing, she gives them a short explanation but asks them to tell her what they think it means.

“I say that I’m using agricultural soil to make a temporary art installation on top of the cement,” she says. “And I tell them that there are so many places in the valley where cement has gone over the soil.”

CFAC’s “Save It, Don’t Pave It” campaign, which features her soil circles in its logo, has gotten the attention of county officials. Missoula County Community and Planning Services recently created a subdivision regulation draft that, for the first time, includes specific language on protecting farmland.

“We are really excited,” says Kristin King-Ries, CFAC’s land use program manager. “We are definitely happy with the changes.”

Initially, the regulation draft only included soils classified by the Department of Agriculture and state as being of prime or statewide importance. But another designation, “soils of local importance,” was left out of the draft. On Tuesday, CFAC and other farmland advocates spoke at a public hearing before the Missoula Planning Board, along with landowners and real estate planners. After three hours of testimony, the board added “soils of local importance” back into the draft.

“If you get rid of all that land it would decimate the local food system,” King-Ries says. “But the state constitution protects farmland, and that should be the same as in regulations. I feel like that’s a strong argument.”

The new framework, which will be voted on by the board in a couple of weeks, would offer owners of designated farmland four options in how they develop the land. The option favored by CFAC would see landowners creating tight housing developments but keeping the land where the prime soil is open for farming. The farmland would be preserved, most likely through an easement or trust so that it would be farmed in perpetuity. The model could include affordable housing and affordable farming for new farmers. King-Ries says keeping the most vital soil unpaved and as a working farm would add to the local food system, but it would also add value to the land and the housing development.

“People like to live near open space,” she says.

Other options allow developers to pay a fee in order to build on designated farmland. They can also put an easement on another piece of land with equal or greater soil value in exchange for building on their own prime farmland. These options provide landowners with flexibility, but King-Ries says they still result in good soil eaten up over time. 

“We have some of the best soil in the state," Emery says, "and so I’m just inviting us to consider whether it’s important to keep that land open and productive.” - PHOTO COURTESY OF RIVERSONG PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo courtesy of Riversong Photography
  • “We have some of the best soil in the state," Emery says, "and so I’m just inviting us to consider whether it’s important to keep that land open and productive.”

Back at the market, Emery pulls the metal borders away once she’s done pouring dirt. A few months ago, while working on her MFA in visual arts from Vermont College of Fine Arts, she began to experiment with soil and seeds as a medium, using them as a metaphor for growth. “Students [at Vermont College] are pushed to clarify what matters to them, what their community needs, and then to make work that changes the world—not just the wall in someone’s house,” she says.

Once her most recent soil circle is completed, one man stops to put a flower on it. Over the next 20 minutes, though, the perfect circle begins to blur and scatter as the foot traffic increases.
“People’s responses to this project vary,” Emery says. “We have some of the best soil in the state and so I’m just inviting us to consider whether it’s important to keep that land open and productive.” 

This article was updated Wed., Sept. 2, to reflect the events of Tuesday's hearing.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Rockies Today, August 31

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 2:27 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News:

Clean Water Act change in effect in all but 13 states

The injunction issued by a federal judge in North Dakota in a lawsuit filed by 13 states, including North Dakota, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, put on hold changes to the federal Clean Water Act designed to clarify what waters the law covers after a couple of conflicting U.S. Supreme Court decisions in those 13 states, but the changes are now law in the remaining 37 states.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); Aug. 31

Federal lawsuit challenging federal coal leasing dismissed
Last Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton dismissed a lawsuit filed in November of 2014 by a coalition of environmental groups pushing for a review of the federal government's coal leasing program because one has not been done since 1979, long before climate change became a concern. The plaintiffs, which include Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils, have vowed to appeal the Washington, D.C. judge's decision.
Courthouse News Service; Aug. 31

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says mountaintop Jesus in Montana can stay
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the statue of Jesus that sits atop Big Mountain on Flathead National Forest Land in Montana can stay, rejecting a challenge that said the statue violates the First Amendment.
Flathead Beacon; Aug. 31

Tribe in Idaho gets $35K for plan to save Selkirk caribou
There are just 14 woodland caribou roaming the Selkirk Mountains in Northern Idaho, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing $35,000 in funding for the Kootenai Tribe to write a recovery plan for the species, which relies on old-growth forest habitat to survive.
New York Times; Aug. 31

Montana AG finds no reason to investigate Utah lands-transfer advocate
In June, Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability filed complaints with the attorneys general for Montana, Utah and Arizona, charging that Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory was involved in fraudulent activity in taking taxpayer money from local governments as part of his campaign to get federal lands transferred to states, and sometime in August, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox declined to launch such an investigation.
Helena Independent Record; Aug. 31

USFS seeks public comment on logging project in Montana forest
The Westside Collaborative Vegetation Management Project in the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana is moving ahead via the process approved in the 2014 Farm Bill that allowed governors to nominate areas for fast-traced approval, with the 2,300-acre project part of the more than 5 million acres nominated by Gov. Steve Bullock. Public comments will be taken by the Forest Service through Sept. 28.
Ravalli Republic; Aug. 31

Ammunition maker to move manufacturing from China to Wyoming
Joe Sery, founder of Tungsten Heavy Powder and Parts, said tax incentives and access to low-interest loans convinced him to move his business now located in China to Laramie, where he'll build a plant to make a variety of tungsten parts for machine guns, missiles and tanks, as well as bullet parts that can penetrate concrete walls. The plant will initially employ 25 workers, but Sery said that the intention is to expand and employ more people in Wyoming.
Billings Gazette; Aug. 31

Week begins with new wildfire evacuation orders in Idaho
A wildfire burning in west-central Idaho jumped the Salmon River forcing new evacuations in that area, and the town of Lowell was evacuated as 16-square-mile fire burning north of the Selway River in northern Idaho moved closer. A wildfire in Washington state is threatening to move across the border into Idaho's Bonner County, prompting evacuation alerts in that county.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 31

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

How to lure a pet turtle back with tortoise porn (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Barnyard Theater
British director Missouri Williams brought an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” to the London Courtyard art facility in August for a one-week run, centered on a human actor struggling to stage the play using only sheep. The pivotal character, Lear’s daughter Cordelia, famously withholds flattering Lear (thus forgoing inheriting the kingdom), and her silence forever tortures Lear—and of course silence is something sheep pull off well. Actor Alasdair Saksena admitted there is an “element of unpredictability with the sheep,” but lauded their punctuality, calmness and lack of fee demands. Williams promised another Courtyard run for “King Lear With Sheep” in the fall.

Suspicions Confirmed

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, has an award-winning “telework” program allowing patent examiners flexible schedules, leading half of the 8,300 to work at home full-time—despite a 2014 Washington Post report on employees gaming the system. In August, the agency’s inspector general exposed several of the most ridiculous cases of slacking off, including one examiner who was paid for at least 18 weeks’ work last year that he did not perform and that his manager did not notice. (The examiner, who had been issued nine poor-performance warnings since 2012 and who had flaunted his carefree “workday” to co-workers for years, abruptly resigned two hours before a meeting on the charge and thus left with a “clean” personnel record.) Wrote the Post, “It’s a startling example of a culture that’s maddening.”

Bright Ideas
Only China and Iran execute more prisoners, but Saudi Arabia also has a soft side—for jihadists. Saudis who defy a ban on leaving the country to fight (usually against the common enemy, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad) are, if they return, imprisoned at a maximum-security facility in Riyadh, but with liberal short “vacations” at “Family House,” hotel-quality quarters with good food, playgrounds for children and other privileges (monitored through guest-satisfaction surveys). Returning jihadists also have access to education and psychologists and receive the equivalent of $530 a month with ATM privileges. The purpose is to persuade the warriors not to return to the battlefield once released, and officials estimate that the program is about 85 percent effective.

Highly Committed People
Impersonating a police officer in a traffic stop is not uncommon, but Logan Shaulis, 19, was apparently so judgment-impaired on May 30 that he set up his own elaborate “DUI checkpoint” on route 601 near Somerset, Pennsylvania, complete with road flares, demanding “license, registration and insurance” from driver after driver. The irony of the inebriated Shaulis judging motorists’ sobriety was short-lived, as real troopers soon arrived and arrested him (on DUI, among other charges).

A woman identified only as Zeng, age 39, was finally imprisoned in August in Urumqi, China—10 years after she was convicted of corruption. Availing herself of a traditional “probation” option in Chinese law for expectant mothers, Zeng had remained free by getting herself pregnant (and proving it) 14 times during the 10 years (although only some of the fetuses were carried to term).

New Hampshire Blues
The president of the University of New Hampshire publicly complained in July about the “bias-free language guide” posted on the school’s website—since, he said, it denounces use of such words as “Americans” (as insensitive to South Americans), “seniors” (better, “people of advanced age”), “rich” (should be “person of material wealth”) and “poor” (change to “person who lacks advantages that others have”). (One state senator mockingly suggested changing the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto to “Live Free But Upset No One.”)

Tough Love: Sexual assault is certainly punishable in New Hampshire by prison time, but pending legislation assumes prison is not enough. By House Bill 212, anyone who commits sexual assault while out hunting or fishing will also have his hunting or fishing license revoked.

The Americanization of China
After five students drowned while swimming in a reservoir in China’s Yunnan province, parents of two of them sued the reservoir’s management company, complaining that it should have posted signs or barricades or, even better, guards to keep kids from frolicking in the dangerous waters. According to an August report, the management company has now countersued the parents, demanding compensation for the additional water-treatment measures it was forced to undertake because the reservoir had been “polluted” by their children’s corpses.

Adventures in Turtle Sex
A female Yangtze giant softshell turtle, believed to be the last female of her species, was artificially inseminated in May at Suzhou Zoo in China through the efforts of animal fertility experts from around the world. She is thought to be more than 100 years old (as was the last male to “romance” her, although their courtship produced only unfertilized eggs).

The Times of London reported in July that Briton Pamela Horner, seeking her “escaped” tortoise Boris (even though, as they say, he couldn’t have gone far), found “tortoise porn” on YouTube (mostly, mating sounds) to play in the yard and lure him back. A tortoise expert told The Times: “They make quite a lot of noise. We can hear them groaning for miles.”

Recurring Themes
Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Late one night in July, police in Phoenix were chasing a speeding truck whose driver eventually lost control and careened into a house near Mulberry Drive. As officers were checking for victims (it turned out no one was home), they discovered a large quantity of suspected marijuana—and opened an investigation of the super-unlucky residents.

Right Place, Right Time: Shane Peters’ cherished 2004 Dodge Durango broke down on the road in Livingston, Texas, in June, but before he could return to tow it, a thief hauled it away. About a month later, Peters’ wife spotted the familiar Durango in town and with the help of police got it back—with (courtesy of the thief) a newly repaired drive shaft and three new wheels (and the thief’s drug supply, but police seized that).

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happiest Hour: Pudding Shots at Feruqi's

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 12:59 PM

What it is: Feruqi’s is a local legend for its array of specialty shots and cocktails, particularly the Flaming Lamborghini, which co-owner Matt Wiles calls the “quintessential 21st birthday shot.” But Feruqi’s has another claim to fame, and it requires a spoon: pudding shots.

Feruqi's pudding shots come in a rotating array of flavors, but chocolate and vanilla are mainstays. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Feruqi's pudding shots come in a rotating array of flavors, but chocolate and vanilla are mainstays.

How it tastes: The rich, creamy cups of pudding come in flavors including chocolate raspberry, vanilla amaretto and pistachio, with a slightly boozy kick. They don’t taste very strong, but eating a couple of them in a row will quickly induce a warm buzz.

Why pudding shots, anyway? Wiles says they’re all homemade by his mom, Marlene, following a secret recipe. “We were doing Jello shots, and all these other bars were doing Jello shots, so one of my buddies was brainstorming with my mom and said ‘You should do some pudding shots or something,’” Wiles says. That was a few years ago, and they’ve been a mainstay at the bar ever since. “We do have a lot of regulars that lose their minds for pistachio flavor. I don’t know why that is.”

Family business: Wiles notes that the space housing Feruqi’s has been owned by his family since his great-grandmother, Ruby Wong, opened the Golden Pheasant restaurant there in 1941. Wiles and his parents bought it from his grandparents and reopened it as Feruqi’s in 1997. He was 21 years old at the time and “thought opening a bar would be awesome,” he says.

Where to find it: Find Feruqi’s at 318 N. Higgins Ave. Doors open at 4 PM daily. Pudding shots run $1.50 a pop.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rockies Today, August 26

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News:

Low oil prices, drought, wildfires hobble Alberta's economy

Alberta's economy has long been the powerhouse in Canada, but this year, low oil prices have hobbled its energy sector, drought has taken a bite out of its agriculture sector, wildfires are burning through budgets and, a new, untested government sits at the helm.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Aug. 26

B.C. ties hydraulic fracturing to 2014 earthquake
British Columbia's Oil and Gas Commission released a report that tied hydraulic fracturing operations conducted by Prosser Energy to an earthquake in August 2014 that was felt in the northeastern communities of Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.
Vancouver Sun; Aug. 26

U.S., China strike 'clean coal' pact
Details on the agreement reached Tuesday between the U.S. Department of Energy and China's National Energy Administration will be ironed out later, but are reported to include collaboration on methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Aug. 26

B.C. lumber company executive says Southern U.S. is best place to be
Conifex Timber Inc., a British Columbia-based lumber producer, has purchased a mothballed sawmill in Arkansas for $21 million, because the mountain pine beetle infestation in the Canadian province has made it increasingly hard to find decent saw logs, while the yellow-pine plantations in the southern United States are heading into their prime.
Vancouver Sun; Aug. 26

Wildfire season in Western U.S. the 'new normal'
More than seven million acres of land have burned in the American West this wildfire season, which is 78 days longer than wildfire seasons four decades ago, and wildfire officials said they anticipate this season will linger through September and into October, with little indication that a season-ending precipitation event is on the horizon.
Flathead Beacon; Aug. 26

Idaho PUC allows limiting some renewable-power contracts to 2 years
Last week, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission sided with Idaho Power and said that some renewable energy contracts could be limited to a two-year term, a move renewable energy producers said could impair their ability to obtain financing, but Idaho Power argued successfully would allow them to avoid having to buy power that the utility does not need.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); Aug. 26

Colorado town approves oil, gas pact with Encana
At its meeting Tuesday evening, Erie's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a deal with Encana that will guide the energy company's oil and gas development work within the borders of the town.
Boulder Daily Camera; Aug. 26

Mine blowout in Colorado prompts calls for U.S. mining reforms
A coalition of tribes, conservation groups and local governments from Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona filed a 74-page petition on Tuesday asking Interior and Agriculture departments, as well as their respective agencies, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, to make changes to mining policies on federal lands, including imposing a limit on the lifetime of a mine permit, putting new requirements for reclamation deadlines and monitoring, making consistent monitoring mandatory and limiting the time a mine can remain inactive. The petition comes on the heels of a mine blowout near Silverton that sent 3 million gallons of mustard-colored mine water into the Animas River in Colorado.
Durango Herald; Aug. 26

Colorado county, town seek federal funding to clean up mines 
On Tuesday, Silverton city officials and San Juan County officials signed a joint resolution to seek federal funding to address the mines that dot the landscape of the Colorado county, where an Aug. 5 mine blowout sent 3 million gallons of mustard-colored water into the Animas River. A two-decade effort to have the area declared a Superfund site to gain access to federal funds for such a cleanup has been actively resisted by local officials.
Denver Post; Aug. 26

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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): You like to run ahead of the pack. You prefer to show people the way, to set the pace. It's cleaner that way, right? There's less risk you will be caught up in the messy details of everyday compromise. But I suspect that the time is right for you to try an experiment: Temporarily ease yourself into the middle of the pack. Be willing to deal with the messy details of everyday compromise. Why? Because it will teach you lessons that will serve you well the next time you're showing the way and setting the pace.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Are you ready to revise your ideas about how love works? Would you consider re-evaluating your relationship to romance, your approach to intimacy, and your understanding of sex? I hope you will not only be willing but also excited to do these things. Now is a favorable time to make changes that will energize your love life with a steady flow of magic for months to come. To get the party started, brainstorm about experiments you could try to invigorate the dynamics of togetherness. Make a list of your customary romantic strategies, and rebel against them all. Speak sexy truths that are both shocking and endearing.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Querencia is a Spanish word with many nuances. At its simplest, it refers to your favorite spot, a place where you long to be. But its meaning can go even deeper. Querencia may be a sanctuary where you feel safe and authentic, or a situation that enables you to draw on extra reserves of strength and courage. It's a special kind of home: an empowering shelter that makes you feel that you belong in this world and love your life. Can you guess where I'm going with this message, Gemini? These days you need to be in your querencia even more than usual. If you don't have one, or if you don't know where yours is, formulate a fierce intention to locate it.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): The art of effective communication consists of knowing both what to say and what not to say. It's not enough to simply find the words that accurately convey your meaning. You have to tailor your message to the quirks of your listeners. For example, let's say you want to articulate the process that led you to change your mind about an important issue. You would use different language with a child, an authority figure, and a friend. Right? I think you are currently at the peak of your abilities to do this well, Cancerian. Take full advantage of your fluency. Create clear, vivid impressions that influence people to like you and help you.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Arthur Conan Doyle first used the term "smoking gun" in a story he wrote over a century ago. It referred to a time the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes burst into a room to find a man holding a pistol that had just been fired, along with the fallen body of a man who had been shot. Since then, the meaning of "smoking gun" has expanded. Now it's any piece of evidence that serves as compelling proof of a certain hypothesis. If you can't find the cookie you left in the kitchen, and your roommate walks by with cookie crumbs on his chin, it's the smoking gun that confirms he pilfered your treat. I believe this is an important theme for you right now. What question do you need answered? What theory would you like to have corroborated? The smoking gun will appear.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): At least for now, I suggest you suspend the quest for order and refinement and perfection. The wise course of action is to disengage from your fascination with control, and instead give yourself to the throbbing, erratic pulse of the Cosmic Wow. Why? If you do, you will be able to evolve faster than you thought possible. Your strength will come from agile curiosity and an eagerness to experiment. Do you remember when you last explored the catalytic wonders of spontaneity and unpredictability? Do it again!

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