Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Injunction lifted for industrial cannabis on South Dakota reservation

For the record, I do not support widespread growing of hemp, especially on tribal lands: it is an invasive species capable of overgrowing native grasses.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken of South Dakota said there has been a "shifting legal landscape" since the 2004 order was filed against Alex White Plume, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. That includes a change in hemp laws in the 2014 farm bill and legalization of marijuana in some states. The order does not resolve the ongoing question of whether cultivation of hemp on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in southwestern South Dakota, should be legal. [Associated Press]
Hemp is a perennial and easily migrates into adjacent lands. Why anyone would want to buy genetically engineered seed from Monsanto or some other earth hater every year remains a mystery.
But there's a big problem: This green rush is, by and large, disproportionately shutting out black Americans as a result of racial disparities in the war on drugs, leaving many unable to participate in the legal pot market, from growing to selling. In other words, systemic racism and racially disparate policies, such as the war on drugs, have had such a grave impact on black communities that even attempts to reverse those policies have left black people behind. [excerpt, Vox]
In South Dakota, American Indians are disproportionately profiled and imprisoned leaving them unable to participate in the budding industry even as the Flandreau Santee Sioux and Oglala Lakota Nations plan their cannabis futures.

Heroin and meth use is spiking in South Dakota no doubt fueled by America's most dangerous gateway drug, commercial teevee.

Former Butte County State's Attorney Heather Plunkett received a suspended jail sentence, has to undergo periodic substance evaluations, will be on probation for a year and was ordered to pay $861 in fees and fines for exercising her cannabis rights in defiance of South Dakota law. She remains on the state payroll.

Plunkett previously pled guilty to one count of possession of cannabis less than 2 ounces, possession of paraphernalia and ingesting a substance other than alcohol. Her husband Ryan pled guilty to possession of cannabis and received a suspended jail sentence.

Shrouded in subterfuge their arrests are believed to be politically motivated. She was served a warrant and arrested by the state Division of Criminal Investigation, no less, for under two ounces and a couple of pipes.

Attorney General Marty Jackley owns property in Vale, not far from Newell where sovereign citizen Wendall Hiland, a candidate for governor accused of wrongdoing in a child abuse case Plunkett was investigating, lives.

Plunkett, a Republican who serves as county vice-chair elected by the central committee of Butte County GOP per the bylaws, was appointed State's Attorney in 2010 by outgoing Governor Mike Rounds.

Plunkett is the daughter of Mike Messmer, a principal in Meade County Republican politics. The connection with Rod Woodruff and the Buffalo Chip remains a mystery.

Using a conservative estimate the number of problem drinkers in the legal profession is more than double that of the general population.

Butte County is a hotbed of anti-government foment stirred into action by Cliven Bundy sympathizer state Senator Betty Olson. A pipe bomb was found on a highway east of Belle Fourche in 2012.

If anyone has additional information about this case and wishes to remain anonymous please contact lawrence dot kurtz at yahoo dot com.

By a 6-2 decision the Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to hear a case brought by Republican attorneys general in Oklahoma and Nebraska about Colorado's sovereignty to legalize cannabis.
Legal gurus closely following state-level marijuana reforms have been also closely following the lawsuit brought directly to the Supreme Court way back in December 2014 by Nebraska and Oklahoma complaining about how Colorado reformed its state marijuana laws. Today, via this order list, the Supreme Court finally officially denied the "motion for leave to file a bill of complaint" by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado. This is huge news for state marijuana reform efforts, but not really all that surprising.
Read it here.

Resolution in this case opens the door for American Indian nations trapped in red states like South Dakota to resume grow/ops for casual enjoyment by adults.

Let’s ensure that cannabis cultivation and distribution stay out of the hands of Big Dope. It’s time to enter compacts with the tribes, let them distribute on the rez, on off-reservation properties and in Deadwood.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Adams launches a real free press

South Dakota's so-called Free Press is neither free nor a real press. It's a rag for the dying South Dakota Democratic Party. But Montana's John S. Adams is a real journalist and is driving for real truth.
An accomplished political reporter, Adams had recently left the Great Falls Tribune amid a much-publicized Gannett restructuring. A couple of Montana’s top political journalists had just been let go by another chain when we spoke, creating a hole in the state’s media ecosystem. At the time, Adams was underemployed and eager to get back to work. But he wasn’t ready to be a media entrepreneur. They’ve just started raising money, about $5,000 in the first few weeks. But since January, Adams has placed MTFP stories in more than a dozen outlets, including the state’s major newspapers. He hopes to obtain significant grant support over the first year, and eventually to develop a broad, sustainable mix of small and large donors. [Columbia Journalism Review]
Montana Free Press is covering the corruption trial of Republican Bozeman legislator, Art Wittich.

Last year Lee Newspapers of Montana eviscerated their Capital bureau. Mike Dennison went to a Montana teevee station. Former Lee reporter, Martin Kidston recently launched the Missoula Current.

Gifted journalist, Emily Saunders, who covered Idaho politics left Boise Public Radio to work for Montana's Office of Public Instruction as communications liaison.

Tony Mangan left radio journalism in Pierre to work for South Dakota's Department of 'Public Safety' as its public voice.

Ben Dunsmoor covered Pierre during the legislative session: he left KELO teevee for public relations.

That pretty much leaves Bob Mercer to write the gloomy news from South Dakota's capital city.

If Texas leads with over fifty journalists covering Austin and South Dakota's number covering Pierre approaches zero the Reichstag has already purged the truth.

Montana is the water tower for parts of two countries, essential to reintroducing bison, and is critical habitat in efforts to rewild the western Missouri River basin. Following policy and politics there is a necessary part of understanding the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Little Missouri watershed at risk to Australian uranium mine


At least 23 prehistoric sites near Devils Tower National Monument, some of which are archaeological sites eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, are at risk to a proposed 8000-acre expansion of Australia’s largest U.S. aquifer uranium mining operation.
Researchers noted that the Little Missouri River, traditionally called Wakpa Chan Shoka and Hehaka Ta Wakpa (River of the Elk) by Native Americans, originates within the project area. It is designated as a wild and scenic river in North Dakota where it crosses through Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri National Grasslands. A very large prehistoric camp site is situated on a high terrace from which Mato Tipila is visible to the east. [Native Sun News]
With the Oglala Lakota Nation as an interested party Chief Arvol Looking Horse has submitted a request to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names saying the words “Devils Tower” are a malapropism.

The tower, part of the Black Hills Land Claim, is a remnant of an intrusive laccolith and has been called Mahto Tipila or Bear Lodge for centuries by the Lakota.
Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, has a family ranch at the base of the tower. “If they want to find something offensive, they ought to look at Custer, South Dakota,” he said. “Custer obviously had a problem with the Sioux, and I’ve heard nothing about renaming of Custer, South Dakota.” [Laura Hancock]
Exploiting the gap between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets during the Wisconsin Glacial Episode the Clovis People were the first humans to see the Missouri Buttes and Mato Tipila. They settled Paradise only to have their descendants watch it be destroyed by colonizers like Ogden Driskill and his ancestors.

The ancestors of all American Indians living east of the Rocky Mountains saw that peak when the Clovis Culture crossed into the Cheyenne/Belle Fourche drainage then into the Missouri/Mississippi River system. Lakota is an Algonquin-based tongue and is spoken by a majority of South Dakota’s tribal nations. After migrating into present-day North Carolina and forced westward by manifest destiny then acquiring horses from Spanish exploiters the Lakota reclaimed the Black Hills.

The divide between the Little Missouri and the Belle Fourche drainages is not very wide: less than a mile just west of the Missouri Buttes.

In January, the US Forest Service suspended the Draft Environmental Impact Study for a Wyoming Black Hills mountaintop-removal mine for rare earth minerals in the Belle Fourche watershed.

Australian miners abandoned a mountaintop-removal gold mine in the Black Hills leaving a Superfund site in its place.

Imagine pulling a clan up the Little Missouri River in dugout canoes 12,000 years ago.

In the occupied Black Hills of South Dakota descendants of European colonizers are apoplectic over the proposal to restore the state's highest point to its Lakota name, Hinhan Kaga or A Making of Owls.

Senator Lisa Murkowski and the US Park Service are doing what Alaskans are asking of Congress urging the body to approve a name change for North America's highest peak.
The Athabascan name, meaning “the high one,” has been a bone of contention between Alaska’s congressional delegation and Ohio’s, which has sought to preserve the current name honoring assassinated U.S. president William McKinley. “At home in Alaska, we just call it Denali because it’s part of our history,” Murkowski said, according to the statement. “Officially changing the name from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali will show the long-standing significance that the name Denali holds for Alaskans.” [KTUU teevee]
Restoring the dignity of endangered cultures is one tiny part of eliminating suicides and despair in South Dakota and Wyoming.

Corridors over public and private land to the Fork Peck, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne nations then into Wyoming's Thunder Basin National Grassland (where this proposed mining expansion is located) beyond to North and South Dakota would help create the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

ip photo: Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower at sunset. Click on the image for a better look.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Law enforcement corruption part of just another day in Pierre

South Dakota's Division of Criminal Investigation has revealed multiple unlawful practices and questionable activity throughout the Flandreau Police Department.
The reports outline an investigation that began with missing drug money, but that one case led to an investigation of the entire department. Stephan Nelson was the only officer ever prosecuted for stealing, others within the department found to be taking items from evidence for personal use. The investigation also revealed a practice of ‘sneak peeks,’ where officers went looking for evidence on property they didn’t legally have access to. [Moody County Enterprise]
South Dakota would rather spend money on bad cops than on good teachers.
But Flandreau officers routinely drank beer and alcohol they confiscated. A Wii video game console seized during a theft investigation was hooked up in the police station where officers used it to play video games and watch movies during work shifts. Eventually one of them took it home. Several firearms were also taken by officers. Under questioning by DCI agents, some of the officers claimed they used a couple of .22-caliber pistols from the evidence room to shoot stray animals. [Jonathan Ellis]
Cops' lives suck. Little wonder cops abuse their families, alcohol, drugs, food, power, detainees and even occasionally murder their wives.

Policing for Profit through asset forfeiture bolsters the law enforcement/corrections industry. Get a load of the list of law enforcement agencies in South Dakota.
Since 2003, about $100 million in homeland security grants were given to South Dakota agencies and entities, making The Rushmore State sixth in the nation in homeland security spending on a per-capita basis. The South Dakota Office of Homeland Security, which has a staff of two, administers the millions of dollars in grant money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to state government and local agencies across the state [Rapid City Journal]
As hypocrisy reigns supreme at the highest levels of power in South Dakota residents endure Policing for Profit and civil forfeiture so the sitting governor can crow about his leadership and self-reliance while moral hazards pay the bills.

Attorney General Marty Jackley is not only a partisan twerp he's as dirty as the police forces he oversees. Jackley says he believes conflict of interest laws are too lax yet he is hoarding information on Bendagate that could put his political party in the legal cross hairs. He's struggling to raise enough campaign cash to run for governor.

On Monday's 100 Eyes, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader's flagship interactive web broadcast, a question was asked about the South Dakota attorney general's purported frustration with the state's lack of ethics oversight. Journalist Jonathan Ellis called Jackley's hypocrisy "definitely a moral hazard."

The panel also said that the Flandreau Santee Sioux Nation is preparing to resurrect its cannabis grow operation despite Jackley's saber-rattling and unfolding corruption within the Flandreau Police Department. Recall that FSST withdrew from a partnership with FPD.

It's been reported that Jackley is considering a run for governor in 2018...that is, unless the US Department of Justice doesn't indict him for conflicts of interest and for covering up crimes committed with his blessings.

In last Monday's episode Ellis called for an investigation of South Dakota's Essential Air Service subsidy. Huron's subsidy has recently been exposed as another bridge to nowhere and Brookings is likely to be next.

Another Republican threatening to run for governor is sleaze ball, Mark Mickelson. He appeared on a Sioux Falls Argus Leader interactive webcast Tuesday. Mickelson, a pale shadow of his father, the late Governor George Mickelson, said prosperity is more important than environmental protection and that Medicaid expansion for the state's least fortunate is inconsistent with South Dakota values. Mickelson has rejected any strengthening of South Dakota's ethics laws.

In a past broadcast the panel conceded that the ethics-free South Dakota's Lottery Commission, stacked with SDGOP crony capitalists like Rapid City shyster, Doyle Estes and Deadwood Mayor Chuck Turbiville mulling another run for the legislature, is also a moral hazard.

If Democratic US Senate candidate Jay Williams was really serious about holding South Dakota accountable for federal pork and its corrupting influence in the state he should start with the law enforcement/corrections industry.

Gonzalez: settlement of Black Hills Claim a 'sacred obligation'

It’s been 36 years since attorney Mario Gonzalez filed the federal court case stopping payment of the Black Hills Claim award to the Oglala Lakota Nation. He recently spoke with Rapid City-based Native Sun News.
President Richard Nixon in his July 8, 1970 message to Congress supported the return of federally held lands in the Kit Carson National Forest in New Mexico to the Taos Indians. Congress subsequently returned 50,000 acres to the Taos Indians. There is no reason why federally held lands in the Black Hills cannot likewise be returned to the Sioux tribes. In May, 2008, the Obama Campaign issued a policy statement that the Sioux tribes should not be forced to accept the $102 million Black Hills award, and that President Obama supported government-to-government collaborative talks between the parties to explore innovative solutions to resolve the Black Hills Claim. There will eventually be a bill drafted by the BIA that is introduced in Congress to distribute the Black Hills Claim money if the Sioux tribes fail to act. It’s a sacred obligation. [excerpt, Gonzalez]
Gonzales contends that the commission charged to make peace with tribes inserted language into the document signed in 1868 that Red Cloud had neither seen nor agreed to in negotiations.
A federal appeals court has revived an effort by a Native American community in northern New Mexico to reclaim the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Jemez Pueblo considers the nearly 140-square-mile swath of federally-managed public land as a spiritual sanctuary and part of its traditional homeland. The ruling comes as the National Park Service works to take over management of the preserve under legislation approved last December. While the agency hasn’t commented on the litigation, it says it has a good relationship with the pueblo. [Albuquerque Journal]
Ernestine Chasing Hawk sent this story to the Missoula-based Buffalo Post:
In 2008, during a campaign stop in Sioux Falls then Sen. Barak [sic] Obama gave Great Plains Indian tribes a ray of hope on the outcome of the century’s long legal battle over “theft of 48 million acres of their homeland.” However one of the key elements to resolving the issue is “bringing together all the different parties” and with each passing day their “window of opportunity” shrinks as time ticks away for the Obama-Biden administration.
Ms. Chasing Hawk goes on to say:
The 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty gave the Sioux 60 million acres of land west of the Missouri. Gonzalez points out that the Sioux were never militarily defeated by the U.S. and would never have signed the 1868 Treaty had they thought they were ceding any land to the U.S. Arriving at Fort Laramie via Cheyenne in November, the Commission under General W. T. Sherman was dismayed to find no Sioux to parley with as planned. Red Cloud refused to come in until the garrisons at Forts Reno, Phil Kearny and C. F. Smith were withdrawn. The Commission acceded and in March, 1868 the President ordered their abandonment.

The legal battle over what has been referred to as Docket 74-A which began in 1922 is based on the argument that the Sioux never gave up any land and that the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty was treaty of peace, not a treaty of cession. In 1980 Supreme Court said the Sioux were entitled to a mere $40 million dollars (Docket 74-A) for the “ceded land’ and na-cu (using a Lakota lexicon, na is and, cu is dew) the government wanted money back for the rations and other annuities they gave the Sioux in the 1800’s. This government action attests to the origin of the cliché, “Indian givers.” In 1980, the Supreme Court also awarded the tribe $106 million dollars (Docket 74-B) on the ground the U.S. had taken the Black Hills and paid no just compensation in violation of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. As a result, the tribe realized almost none of the vast mineral wealth yielded by their stolen land.
One paragraph really caught my eye:
And according to Edward Lazarus during his last days in office, Democratic “Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle did a neat little favor for one of his corporate constituents. As a rider to the defense appropriation bill, he attached a provision granting absolute immunity to the Barrick Gold Company of Toronto for any liability arising from the 125-year operation of its Homestake Mine, a gold-bearing gash in the Black Hills of South Dakota.”
Pe'Sla has been put into trust.

Of course, the South Dakota Democratic Party should urge President Obama to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest, move management of the land from the US Department of Agriculture into the Department of Interior; and, in cooperation with Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Forestry and Wildfire Management, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument eventually becoming part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge. Mato Paha (Bear Butte), the associated national grasslands and the Sioux Ranger District of the Custer/Gallatin National Forest should be included in the move.

Monday, March 21, 2016

SCOTUS drops red state cannabis case


Here is one more reason why Democrats need to control the federal bench.

By a 6-2 vote the Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to hear a case brought by Republican attorneys general in Oklahoma and Nebraska about Colorado's sovereignty to legalize cannabis.
Legal gurus closely following state-level marijuana reforms have been also closely following the lawsuit brought directly to the Supreme Court way back in December 2014 by Nebraska and Oklahoma complaining about how Colorado reformed its state marijuana laws. Today, via this order list, the Supreme Court finally officially denied the "motion for leave to file a bill of complaint" by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado. This is huge news for state marijuana reform efforts, but not really all that surprising.
Read it here.

Resolution in this case opens the door for American Indian nations trapped in red states like South Dakota to resume grow/ops.

Travel with Rick Steves airs on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio on Sunday mornings. He lives in Edmonds, Washington.
After four years of legalization, I look out my window here and marijuana's legal and it looks just like it did before it was legal. It just means we arrest 8,000 people fewer a year, it means money is being taken away from organized crime and our government is enjoying tens of millions of dollars of tax revenue that they wouldn't have had otherwise. And mature adults have the civil liberty of going home and smoking a little pot if they want to. I mean, I've got my bong right out on my shelf at home, and it's just great to have it there right next to the wine glasses. [PBS Host Rick Steves Discusses His First Trip, Breaking Marijuana Stereotypes And Being An Advocate]
Cannabis is a safe, effective palliative.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rail traffic could shift from coal to passenger trains


Coal drives rail traffic between the Southwest Chief depot in Trinidad and Denver, Colorado also through Edgemont, South Dakota, Gillette, Wyoming and Laurel, Montana.

Up til now it's been easy money for Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Rumors circulating around the community about Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) possibly eliminating its current Edgemont stop appear to be true, according to a statement from BNSF, issued Monday, March 14. One report listed 2,000 railroad job cuts during 2015 as railroad companies, including BNSF, Union Pacific and the Canadian National Railway, tried to cushion earnings slumps thanks to declining amounts of grain, oil and coal being shipped. [Hot Springs Star]
There is a rich history of rail travel between Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming even on to Deadwood.

Wyoming highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette is killing people and strangling traffic: passenger rail would bring some order to that chaos. BNSF Railway's Burlington Route connects Cheyenne with Laurel, Montana just west of Billings where it intersects with Montana Rail Link.
BNSF Railway is proposing changes to its operations in Sheridan in response to the declining demand for coal. Company officials indicated in a statement that the changes will likely include shifting Sheridan crew jobs to Gillette over time. The proposed changes also include having Gillette replace Sheridan as the home terminal for trains that run between Gillette and Laurel, Montana. [Casper Star]
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe has strong rail connecting Laurel and Great Falls with Amtrak's Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) wants to restore the Hiawatha Line and a Montana legislator wants BNSF to rebuild that track, too.

Imagine a time when portions or all track is elevated for wildlife egress through a future corridor between the Canadian River in New Mexico and the Amtrak station in Shelby then on to the Yukon River in Alaska intersecting with a tunnel under the Bering Strait connecting South and North America to Russia and the rest of Eurasia.

As coal dies and more commodities are being shipped by trucks burning cheaper fuel flowing through pipelines the timing for increased passenger rail is at hand. Curious why the Postal Service and Amtrak have not formed a strategic partnership.

It's time for Amtrak to connect the Empire Builder with the Southwest Chief through Denver perhaps integrating New Mexico's Rail Runner in the interim.

Who's with me?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Heather Wilson joins Raven board; stock plummets

The President of South Dakota School of Mines is a crook. After sitting on Peabody Coal's board and watching it go bankrupt she's setting her sights on a South Dakota company.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Feb. 23, 2016 — Raven Industries (NASDAQ:RAVN) announced today that Heather Wilson has joined the Company’s Board of Directors. The appointment is effective immediately. Dr. Wilson currently serves as the President of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City, SD. Prior to being named President in 2013, Dr. Wilson served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing New Mexico’s first district from 1998-2009 where she was a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Dr. Wilson also previously worked as a senior advisor to several large scientific and defense companies. [press release]
Raven stock is taking a beating after missing estimated earnings.

Wilson wants to bury radioactive waste in South Dakota.
To clinch the contract extension, Sandia labs officials hired high-priced consultants — including Heather A. Wilson, the former New Mexico congresswoman, who allegedly was paid $226,000 — to write up a “contract extension strategy.” Among the tactics allegedly suggested by Wilson was “working key influencers” by targeting then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s staff, his relatives and friends, and his former colleagues at another federal lab — all with the goal of keeping Lockheed Martin in charge of Albuquerque-based Sandia. Lockheed “engaged in deep and systemic corruption, including paying Congresswoman Heather Wilson $10,000 a month starting the day after she left office for so-called consulting services that had no written work requirements.” [Washington Post]
Volcanic clays like bentonite mined near Belle Fourche make radioactive waste repositories such as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico possible. Bonus: the railroad from Belle goes right into Brookings, brought to you by Kristi Noem!

Huh, one of Heather Wilson's favorite benefactors, Albuquerque-based Valero Energy, gave Tike Mike Rounds $10,000 last cycle.

Heather Wilson is the Lydia Rodarte-Quayle of SDGOP fixerhood.

When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is vertiginous.

Colluding with Communist China in 2013 Raven sent a representative to accompany Governor Dennis Daugaard.

A federal helium shortage is contributing to Raven's poor performance.
It turns out that shale gas, where most of the new drilling is happening, contains virtually no helium. And the glut created by the boom has driven down natural gas prices so much that it's been uneconomical to tap the lower-grade, impure natural gas pockets that do contain helium. [High Country News]
Raven has ties to New Mexico. and lost stock momentum manufacturing Aerostats for surveillance instead of diversifying into ships for timber harvest.

Blaming the Obama administration for Raven's problems is just simply ridiculous but white supremacists like Troy Jones would rather blame the black guy.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Udall addressing crisis at IHS

Testimony on the crisis in the Indian Health Service was held in the US Senate Wednesday.

South Dakota's congressional delegation has dropped the ball on medical care funding for America's least fortunate but Democrats are moving forward.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies plans to question Smith about those quality of care issues, according to his office. The emergency room at the Rosebud Hospital in South Dakota has been "diverted" -- a term the IHS uses for a temporary or extended closure. "The conditions recently reported at facilities in the Great Plains region are horrific and unacceptable," Udall said at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing last month. He pointed out that the Crownpoint Health Care Facility on the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation was subjected to a similar diversion for one month last summer. [indianz]
New Mexico has a high number of people with insurance through Medicaid and like South Dakota many are American Indians.
Full Medicaid coverage now extends to 748,000 adults and children — about 36 percent of New Mexico's 2.1 million residents, according to the state Human Service Department. New Mexico expects Medicaid enrollment to expand by June 2017 to 38 percent of the population. About 13 percent of residents remain uninsured. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
342,000 patients visited the emergency departments of the three biggest New Mexico medical providers in 2015. Forty percent were Medicaid patients.
Nationwide, three-quarters of emergency physicians have seen ER visits surge among Medicaid and other newly insured people since Obamacare took effect, according to a survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Many of these patients believed they had no other place to go and some had never gone anywhere else to receive health care. Thus, the Medicaid expansion has saved Albuquerque hospitals millions of dollars, because hospitals are now compensated for those patients, data compiled by the health systems show. Steve McKernan, CEO of UNMH, said his ER staffers have made many referrals to Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless and First Nations Community Healthsource. [Albuquerque Journal]
The costs of the Republican sequester and keeping the Battle Mountain Veterans Administration facility open for about thirty residents have raised concerns that Hot Springs can’t be adapted to meet the VA’s criteria for continued use.

don Juan Thune and South Dakota’s teabagger congressional delegation are doing diddly squat to fund the Indian Health Service or the Veterans Administration working at cross-purposes with Republican Governor Daugaard. It's the same in Wyoming.

Until Democrats regain the US Senate nothing will change.

South Dakota's experiment with a GOP-dominated congressional delegation and Statehouse has failed so many generations that to some suicide looks like the only way out of lives twisted by a special brand of torture.

The Lakota People's Law Project is seeking funding for foster families and homes after SD Department of Social Services employees in Rapid City committed abuses of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state seizes about 750 American Indian kids every year reaping nearly a billion federal dollars since ICWA was enacted.
This is not about just a legal ruling in the latest round of battling over the state's violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This is about the halting of genocide in America. South Dakota has been committing blatant genocide against the Sioux people in violation of subsection (e) by transferring Indian children to white homes, and also of subsection (b) amid allegations of sexual abuse and drugging of Native children in DSS foster care. This is one version of what the world has come to know as ethnic cleansing. [Albert Bender]
South Dakota is in the eye of a truth and reconciliation hurricane.
The South Dakota congressional outfit talks out of both sides of their mouths about the VA hospital in Hot Springs. The power of votes and money is in Rapid City where there are plans for a new VA hospital. Veterans deserve more respect. Quit using them as cannon fodder for the benefit of powerful corporations. [Marvin Kammerer]
I like the idea of rolling the funding for Tricare, Medicare, the IHS and the VA together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax. Reproductive freedoms should be included unconditionally just like the military does under Tricare.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cannabis rapidly becoming a commodity ag product

Like me more and more retirees are seeking out states where cannabis rights are being recognized.
Take for example, the 2016 Governor’s Forum on Agriculture, held in Denver. The event is your typical farm conference. Every year, farmers in denim and bolo ties mingle with agriculture professionals and state regulators. The governor himself swings by for a keynote speech. But this year, there was a new addition. That same excitement is on display at the cannabis panel at the Governor’s Forum on Agriculture. [KUNC]
South Dakota's thought police have snuffed out industrial cannabis.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 5-3 against Rep. Mike Verchio's bill. No doubt the cops had all the dirt they needed to blackmail the legislators.

It's not just South Dakota's law enforcement industry lying about crimes attributed to legal cannabis.
When New Mexico's Senate this week considered a measure that would have asked voters whether to legalize marijuana, the debate inevitably became as much about Colorado as the lawmakers' home state. But even people in Colorado who share his concern about legalization said the connection between Denver's crime trends and marijuana is overstated.
Read the rest here.

Over-prescription is blamed for the spike in overdose deaths in Colorado: 2/3 are from pharmaceutical opioids, 1/3 are from heroin.
In Trinidad, a former mining town 11 miles north of the New Mexico border, officials used a portion of $850,000 in weed revenue to dig up 140-year-old brick streets and replace clay and wooden water lines so old they didn’t appear on maps. [Bloomberg]
Trinidad boasts an astounding inventory of historic properties many of which are at risk to deferred maintenance: smart investors could expedite passenger rail improvements that would help showcase such an overlooked trove.

According to the US Border Patrol the agency saw a nearly 9 per cent decrease in cannabis seizures in 2015 from 2014 after more states legalized.

Let’s ensure that cannabis cultivation and distribution stay out of the hands of Big Dope. It’s time to enter compacts with the tribes, let them distribute on the rez, on off-reservation properties and in Deadwood.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Feds falling down on wild horses

This isn't really a South Dakota issue as much as it is a Bureau of Land Management, tribal and habitat tragedy.

The cost of keeping feral horses in holding pens off wild lands costs taxpayers $49 million annually. “You don’t have wild horses anymore. You have their bodies, but they are … domesticated,” says one researcher.
The heritage of wild horse herds is tied to the romanticism and legacy of the U.S. West. Under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which declares the herds “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit,” they are entitled to federal protections from capture, branding, harassment and slaughter. Herds double in size every four years, and adoption rates have dropped by more than 73 percent since 1995, according to BLM data. Population growth swelled to an estimated 47,329 wild horses and burros nationwide last year alone, an 18 percent increase over the previous year. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
The modern horse was introduced to North America by the Spanish late in the 15th Century.

In Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and seven other states the Bureau of Land Management adopts out, seeks private pastures for, and feeds wild horses.
The 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act didn’t delineate the administration of an adaptable, fecund species that was dumped onto the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM’s adoption program for wild horses, which initially functioned as a way to reduce herds, was soon outpaced by reproduction. Over a horse’s life, the tab will run $49,000 per head. Already, BLM faces an annual bill for the wild horse program at more than $75 million. [The Cody Enterprise]
From WNAX:
Legislation has been introduced in the House to ban all horse slaughter in the United States. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 would make it illegal to sell or transport horses or part of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption. The South Dakota Stock Growers Association opposes the measure. Executive Director Silvia Christen says there needs to be a way to deal humanely with unwanted or older horses. Christen says without slaughter available the population of horses would rise and create a financial burden and a hardship for finding ways of disposing of them. The sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the U.S. is currently banned but is subject to review every year. There is no federal law that prohibits transport of horses for slaughter from the U.S .to Canada or Mexico. [WNAX]
The Oglala Lakota Nation had been pursuing an abattoir as an economic development opportunity according to Tim Huether writing in the Bennett County Booster:
Tribal council member Craig Dillon from the LaCreek District confirmed that they are indeed looking at it but said they have a long way to go, but have also come a long way on the project. The location they are considering for the plant is just under two miles north and west of the U.S. Hwy 18 and U.S. Hwy 73 junction which is 12 miles east of Martin. The tribe owns approx. 220 acres there that Dillon said would be a good location. Slaughtering horses ended in the U.S. in 2007 after Congress began prohibiting the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined to become food during 2006.
The Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations are litigating with the State of Wyoming about whether the rights of tribal nations include subsistence hunting on public grounds where bison or wapiti held Rocky Mountain ecosystems together just three hundred years ago.

In a state where horses are exported to Mexico the New Mexico legislature euthanized the latest attempts to ban that harvested meat for human consumption. The US Department of Agriculture reports the United States has sent more than 12,000 horses across the southern border for slaughter so far this year.
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that 49,209 wild horses and burros (about 40,815 horses and 8,394 burros) are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of March 1, 2014. (This compares to the 2013 estimate of 40,605 animals.) Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to control herd sizes. The ecosystems of public rangelands are not able to withstand the impacts from overpopulated herds, which include soil erosion, sedimentation of streams, and damage to wildlife habitat. [BLM Quick Facts]
In an era when western states are scrambling to preserve habitat for the threatened Greater sage grouse how is running nurseries for introduced species like wild horses and burros either conservative or sustainable?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Team Juneau files for US House

Denise Juneau is the first American Indian to win a statewide election in Montana.
Juneau, 48, Montana’s state superintendent of public instruction, also is the only Native American woman in the country to hold a statewide office – and noted that if she wins, she’ll be the first Native American woman elected to Congress. Juneau also made a brief allusion to the fact that she’s the first openly gay candidate to run for statewide office, saying her candidacy is inspiring more people to get involved in the political process. Juneau is a member of the Hidatsa and Mandan Indian tribes from North Dakota. [KTVH teevee]
Montana is getting national attention for her gains in American Indian education.
In 1972, Montana added language to its constitution pledging to use education to preserve the unique cultural heritage of Native Americans. A small number of states, including South Dakota and Wisconsin, have policies emphasizing the need to teach tribal history in schools -- but no other state has a constitutional mandate about it, said Denise Juneau, the Montana superintendent of public instruction. [Indian Country Today]
Juneau delivered a rousing speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and has been a solid advocate for labor.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

SCOTUS refuses to hear EPA case; feds have oversight of watersheds

With implications for both the Mississippi and Missouri River watersheds the Supreme Court of the United States won’t hear a case involving the US Environmental Protection Agency and the American Farm Bureau.
The decision means the lower court ruling will stand which allows the EPA to continue requiring the seven states in the Chesapeake Bay to clamp down on nitrogen and phosphorous runoff into the watershed. [WNAX]
When Republican domination is literally deadly to wildlife and humans alike maybe it's time for a little hope and change.

This defendant, Meadowvale Dairy, received $242K in federal ag subsidies from 1995 to 2012:
A federal lawsuit says a northwest Iowa dairy and animal feeding operation has failed to stop manure and wastewater from spilling into a tributary of the Big Sioux River. Authorities seek a court order to stop the spills and an unspecified amount of fines. The complaint lists four counts of Clean Water Act violations. [Des Moines Register]
Brookings is not just home to South Dakota's porcine prevaricator it's where the Big Sioux River becomes very, very poisonous.

Remember when Bill Janklow gutted environmental protection in the chemical toilet?
“We found Shiga toxin genes in levels that are equivalent to what you would see in Third World countries, where people are dying in massive outbreaks,” School of Mines graduate student Kelsey Murray said Thursday. The results prompted board members of the Brookings-based water district to commit another $25,000 to continue precision genetic testing, dependent on the city of Sioux Falls committing $100,000 in state revolving fund money to match it.
Read more about the horrors here.

When South Dakota's senior US Senator is calling 'silly' an end to lead contamination in the watersheds that support all life in the state you know things are upside-down.
As crazy as that sounds, if the liberal wing of the president’s party and EPA bureaucrats had their way, they’d even regulate the tackle South Dakotans use to reel in walleyes from the Missouri River and ban the lead ammunition they use to bag ringnecks in the prairie. Thankfully, last year Congress passed and the president signed legislation that included my provision to permanently block the EPA from an outright ban on lead ammunition used in the field. [op-ed, some idiot on John Thune's staff]
Lead is a potent neurotoxin.
The most significant hazard to wildlife is through direct ingestion of spent lead shot and bullets, lost fishing sinkers, lead tackle and related fragments, or through consumption of wounded or dead prey containing lead shot, bullets or fragments. Although lead from spent ammunition and lost fishing tackle is not readily released into aquatic and terrestrial systems, under some environmental conditions it can slowly dissolve and enter groundwater, making it potentially hazardous for plants, animals and perhaps even people if it enters water bodies or is taken up in plant roots. [US Geological Survey]
The Victoria Lake area above Rapid City is lead Superfund site in the making.

Lead is released by coal-fired power plants, too.

In Flint, Michigan a Republican governor could go to prison for telling residents that lead in the water is no big deal.

So-called 'Americans for Prosperity' a Koch-funded group with a lobbyist based in Sioux Falls signaled to legislators that they will lose campaign funding from the Kochs unless they act to reverse the progress the US Environmental Protection Agency has made in South Dakota.

Unfortunately, in South Dakota, the Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination (DENR) is governed by those same offenders and therefore effectively neutered.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More tribal nations are entering cannabis agreements

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Nation is moving forward with plans to revive their cannabis operation after members of South Dakota's extremist legislature said they don't want reservations to thrive.
A New Mexico medical cannabis producer this week announced a joint venture with the Las Vegas Paiute tribe to build a large growing facility and two dispensaries on tribal land in Nevada. Duke Rodriguez, founder of Ultra Health LLC, said the $5 million project could serve as a model for a similar deal in coming months with a pueblo in New Mexico. “We’re hopeful that we can announce a deal in New Mexico, certainly within the next 90 days” with one of the state’s 23 pueblos, Rodriguez said. “Imagine the amazing logistical network that tribes have with their smokeshops,” he said. “Imagine all those smokeshops becoming (cannabis) dispensaries someday.” [Albuquerque Journal]
Over-prescription is blamed for the spike in overdose deaths in Colorado: 2/3 are from pharmaceutical opioids, 1/3 are from heroin.
The Las Vegas Paiute Tribe of Nevada is joining the medical marijuana industry. The tribe broke ground on a medical dispensary on its reservation in downtown Las Vegas and a separate facility on its reservation northwest of the city. The $5 million project will be completed within six to nine months, Chairman Benny Tso said. In Nevada, medical marijuana dispensaries are legal for certified patients.
Read it here.

It's not just South Dakota's law enforcement industry lying about crimes attributed to legal cannabis.
When New Mexico's Senate this week considered a measure that would have asked voters whether to legalize marijuana, the debate inevitably became as much about Colorado as the lawmakers' home state. But even people in Colorado who share his concern about legalization said the connection between Denver's crime trends and marijuana is overstated.
Read the rest here.

There is no money for South Dakota education in medical or industrial cannabis and no video lootery revenue goes to the state's tribes.

No wonder states where gambling pays the bills, like South Dakota, don't want legal cannabis.
New research from Canada and Boston has determined that synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists, which mimic the effects of cannabis at a higher potency, improve “choice performance” in rats with gambling disorders. This latest research has not only uncovered a new lead that scientists can follow to uncover the addiction’s underlying pathology, but also implies cannabis as a potential treatment for this crippling disorder. With more work neuroscientists will uncover the story behind the endocannabinoid system’s role in compulsive gambling. Despite being in it’s initial stages of discovery, this research shows that cannabis may one day help those suffering from this financially crippling mental affliction.
Read the rest here.

An Italian study suggests that the real gateway drug is gambling itself.

South Dakota's choice to use video gambling to pay big government bills is driving the quickie loan industry according to Steve Hildebrand. He called Rod Aycox, CEO of North American Title Loan Co., a crook during an interview with Argus Leader Media's SuFuStu.

Hildebrand's comrade in efforts to cap interest rates, Republican former lawmaker Steve Hickey, the only SDGOPer in South Dakota's legislature with any brains whatsoever, was invited to join the discussion but had a previous engagement and was unable to be there.

Despite lies from SDGOP, video lootery, payday loan sharks, domestic violence and homelessness are inextricably linked putting children at risk to more catastrophic consequences far more often than has happened in states that have legalized or lessened penalties for casual use of cannabis

A bill legalizing cannabis in Vermont will go to the House after the state's Senate voted to pass it.
Final approval came on a 17-to-12 vote Thursday after one senator switched what had been a no on an earlier vote to a yes. Sen. Rebecca Balint, a Windham County Democrat, said she switched due to an amendment seen as favoring smaller growers of marijuana versus large commercial interests.
Read it here.

Vermont would be the first state to legalize through the legislature. 55% of state residents favor legalization according to a poll conducted by Vermont Public Radio.

Rhode Island's statehouse is also hearing testimony on legal cannabis.

A Canadian judge has ruled that patients can grow their own and the country's premier has pledged to legalize for adult casual use.

By a wide, bipartisan margin the Commerce Committee in the Iowa House has voted to legalize cannabis to treat epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and end-stage cancer.

Cannabis is no longer listed as a gateway drug on the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) website.