Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Missoula marathoners sweat it out in Mexico

Posted By on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Missoula marathoner Dean McGovern recently returned from Mexico where he completed the 51-mile Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, which he calls “the most epic adventure I’ve ever been on.” But he isn’t referring to just the grueling race itself.

To get to the Copper Canyons, a remote wilderness near Mexico’s Pacific Coast, McGovern and fellow Missoula runners Kiefer Hahn, Kevin Twidwell and Rick Wishcamper flew to Los Angeles, Calif., then to Mazatlan, Mexico, took a seven-hour bus ride to the coastal city Los Mochis, then a six-hour train ride to the rim of the Copper Canyons, and hopped on another bus for two and half hours to reach the canyon floor.

“We got off the bus and we were like, ‘Oh my god, how are we going to run in this?” McGovern says. “It was so hot at the bottom of that canyon"—about 100 degrees. But run they did.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: the end of plastic, and the man purse of the week.

Curses, Foiled Again
Matthew Meguiar, 26, handed the teller at an Orlando, Fla., credit union an empty bag and a note demanding money, but the teller couldn’t fit the cash through the slot in the teller’s cage because the full bag was too big. According to the police report, Meguiar became frustrated and “turned around and walked out the door” without the loot. Orange County sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Thomas stopped Meguiar at the door, but during a struggle, the suspect’s arm came off. Deputies handcuffed Meguiar as best they could, then placed his prosthesis on the roof of a patrol car while they interviewed witnesses. (Orlando Sentinel)

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Big rig protester arrested again

Posted By on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Nearly one day after being handcuffed and detained in a Montana Highway Patrol car on Reserve Street, Thomas Rybens Walker was once again arrested for making a statement late Thursday night on his distaste for ConocoPhillips' big rig haul through Idaho and Montana. Online records confirm Walker, 19, was released from the Missoula County Detention Center after being booked on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Walker, reached by the Indy before his court appearance today, said the arrest occurred while he and three friends were standing along the highway near Bonner. The protesters—unaffiliated with any of the big rig opposition groups in Missoula—were awaiting the passage of ConocoPhillips' two loads, Walker said, when Montana Highway Patrol troopers arrived and asked to see identification. Walker refused to produce his driver's license, feeling, he said, that their presence on public property off the highway didn't warrant the action.

"We were just standing on the grass off the highway," Walker said. "We couldn't even see the loads yet."

Walker was cited for obstructing a public road early Thursday morning when he sat down on Reserve Street and refused to move. Law enforcement released him in the Walgreens parking lot after the loads had passed and the big rig protest had dispersed.

"I think they recognized me," Walker said of last night's arrest.

Montana Highway Patrol removes Thomas Rybens Walker, 19, from Reserve Street during a protest against ConocoPhillips big rigs early Thursday morning.
  • Alex Sakariassen
  • Montana Highway Patrol removes Thomas Rybens Walker, 19, from Reserve Street during a protest against ConocoPhillips' big rigs early Thursday morning.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big rigs cause a stir on Reserve

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 1:57 PM

After nearly a year of public meetings, citizen protests, movie screenings, endless questioning and nationwide media coverage, the heavy haul made its way through Missoula early this morning—running a veritable gauntlet of grassroots opposition along Reserve Street. The nighttime passage of ConocoPhillips' first two monstrous loads from south of Missoula to Interstate 90 was marked not by the stillness typical of post-midnight Missoula but by picket signs, handcuffs, verbal abuse and a squelched attempt at a dance party.

Conoco's loads left the former weigh station between Lolo and Missoula around 1 a.m. this morning, an hour after protesters with Missoula's All Against the Haul had gathered to meet the big rigs at the intersection of Reserve Street and South Avenue. Throngs of Montana Highway Patrol officers arrived at the scene ahead of the shipments, pushing demonstrators out of the street and hauling off several who refused to cooperate. As the two separate halves of the coke drum destined for the Billings refinery crawled by, Sherry Lee chanted from atop a ladder, accompanied by roughly 50 fellow protesters.

"I'm here to hopefully make a difference," Lee told the Indy. "Standing up with other people is important...It helps open up dialogue, and what I really hope is that it opens up minds."

Some minds proved reluctant to welcome the sentiments of All Against The Haul's supporters, who had conducted a march and vigil on Higgins in downtown Missoula earlier in the day. Several cars roared through the Rosauers parking lot before and during the passage of the Conoco loads. Most shouted insults like "Get a job" and "You're un-American." All Against The Haul campaign coordinator Zack Porter and his fellows merely joked about the drive-by commentary.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gov. Schweitzer on Smurfit-Stone mill: "We don’t believe this facility ought to be scrapped"

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 5:31 PM

The state of Montana is making it very clear that it doesn’t want Smurfit-Stone to sell its Frenchtown mill to MLR Investments, LLC, which reportedly plans to scrap it.

Today Gov. Brian Schweitzer came to Missoula to say that if Smurfit-Stone or MLR Investments demolishes the shuttered paperboard mill, it must follow the Montana Asbestos Control Act, which states that the demolition of buildings must be conducted in accordance with the law and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) rules. Schweitzer’s press conference, which also featured Mayor John Engen and county commissioners, came a day after DEQ Director Richard Opper sent a rather terse letter (PDF) to Smurfit-Stone and MLR Investments demanding, by the middle of next week, records relating to plans for demolition, the presence of asbestos and the purchase itself.

The request marks the second roadblock the state has put up to, ostensibly, block, or at least delay, the transaction. Last week, the DEQ sent a letter (PDF) to Smurfit-Stone strongly urging it to conduct an environmental assessment of its wastewater ponds—where petroleum and perhaps other toxins like PCBs, arsenic and dioxin linger—before the company sells the property. The agency warned that it has the authority to designate the property adjacent to the Clark Fork River a state Superfund site, or request that the Environmental Protection Agency inspect the site to determine whether it would fall under federal Superfund authority.

The Indy caught up with Schweitzer as he headed out of town. He stressed that his preference is for the mill site to be used for industrial purposes.

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Pothole therapy

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 at 4:09 PM

I know, I know—you're sick and tired of hearing about potholes. It is what it is. Maybe it's getting better, maybe it's getting worse. Some people want answers, others would just prefer to vent.

But here's another idea: take out your frustrations in a free online game!

"Pothole Panic" allows you to "get your revenge" against "public enemy number one" by virtually filling potholes on a busy street. I like to think that busy street is Sixth, near the university. Or maybe Hillview. But make it your own and have fun.

Click to play
  • Click to play

(Alternately, if you're sick of dodging those mammoth canyons—or dodging the cars that are dodging those mammoth canyons—and want to do something a wee bit more constructive than play a free online game, you can always call the city at 552-6360 to report a pothole.)

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Mar 9, 2011 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): “Dear Mr. Astrologer: Like the god Prometheus, I stole fire from the gods and gave it to people who sometimes make awful use of it. As punishment, the gods chained me to a rock on the beach, and arranged for an eagle to come daily to eat my liver. Luckily, the liver grows back every night. Unluckily, the eagle always returns to devour it again. I’m used to it by now; it doesn’t hurt as much as it once did. But I’m still eager to get out of my predicament. Any suggestions? Aries in Limbo.” Dear Aries: Your rescue is scheduled for no later than your birthday, possibly before. In the meantime, the best thing you can do to prepare for your release is to feel gratitude for all you’ve learned during your ordeal.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

"Tipping Point" for the tar sands

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 9:13 AM

“For decades, mining the oil sands was an unprofitable experiment. Now, in a world running out of conventional oil, this is what’s left. And there’s a fortune to be made. This is the promise of the oil sands: guaranteed supply in an uncertain world. But is this a promise Canada can afford to keep?”

Renowned environmentalist and “Nature of Things” narrator David Suzuki offers those words in his thought-provoking opening to “Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands,” the latest documentary to hit Canadian television. For those of you who missed the film’s U.S. premiere at the Wilma Theatre last Wednesday night, the topic is a familiar one: Alberta’s increasingly controversial tar sands mining operation and the battle being waged by scientists, local indigenous populations and celebrities like James Cameron to stop the environmental devastation. “Tipping Point” is a must-see for anyone interested in putting Montana’s ongoing heavy haul debate into a larger context, and the Indy got an exclusive chance last Thursday afternoon to chat with two of the film’s key players about where exactly those ExxonMobil big rigs are headed.

George Poitras, left, and Francois Paulette in Missoula.

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: fish on Prozac and why you shouldn't eat off the plastic trays in shopping mall food courts.

Curses, Foiled Again
Less than an hour after a bank robbery in Orlando, Fla., police located suspect Johnathan L. Graves, 37, when an officer in police headquarters looked out his window and spotted the man hiding from a patrol car. The officer alerted other officers, who nabbed Graves as he tried to flee. (Orlando Sentinel)

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Messina leaves White House to focus on Obama's reelection

Posted By on Sat, Mar 5, 2011 at 3:05 PM

Former UM journalism student Jim Messina recently stepped down from his position as White House deputy chief of staff to become President Obama's reelection campaign manager. The move means Messina leaves D.C. and moves to Chicago to work with '08 campaign architect David Axelrod.

From the Washington Post:

While grass-roots money will continue to be significant, one of the Obama team's first priorities is to build up its stable of major donors and fundraisers. Messina is already at work on this task.

Messina's quoted in the article saying the reelection team will attempt to recreate — and re-energize — Obama's '08 grassroots support, and will aggressively target traditionally Republican states, like Arizona.

"I understand the challenges of any reelection campaign," Messina told the Post, "but we're going to go into this with an expanded map and a bigger map in the beginning than in '08."

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