Category: Montana Economy


Shortage of lifeguards Mountain West pools raise wages

July 1, 2022

Montana Economy

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In southern Nevada, Clark County Pools need more than 100 lifeguards. As a result, Aquatic Supervisor Katie Boehme said on average only six out of 16 pools are open with limited hours.

“No one is happy because the water park is not open enough for families with young children, the pool is not open enough for swimmers and we don’t have enough programs,” Boehme said. .

In response, Clark County raised the hourly wage for lifeguards from $9.50 to $13, and the county now pays for new recruits to be trained, which typically costs $120. Boehme said this has helped the aquatics department recruit about 60 people so far.

In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis recently announced The 2022 Swimming Pools Special Initiative to address the shortage of lifeguards. According to Polis, a recent poll found that only 57% of public pools in the state are fully open.

Thanks to this initiative, lifeguards aged 16 and 17 are allowed to work more overtime. The state has also launched a $25,000 grant program that aquatic centers can use to retain and recruit staff. Aspiring lifeguards can earn $1,000 by completing a week of training before being hired.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations throughout the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Climate change discussion scheduled for Thursday in Columbia Falls

June 29, 2022

Montana Economy

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A roundtable on climate change is scheduled for Thursday in Columbia Falls.

The event is coordinated by the Flathead County Democratic Central Committee, features local experts and advocates in the search for climate change solutions.

It takes place at 6 p.m. at Glacier Lanes, 307 Nucleus Ave.

Representatives from Climate Smart Glacier Country, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Wild Montana and Our Children’s Trust will be led in the conversation by former Montana State Representative Debo Powers, President of Wild Montana.

“Our planet is getting warmer, and it’s starting to affect our enjoyment of life, our economy, and the natural world around us,” Powers said. “This is the greatest threat facing us and our children and grandchildren, yet our society continues to operate as usual, leaving us frozen in despair.”

“The best antidote to despair is hope and action,” adds Powers. “We still have time to make changes that will mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Climate Smart Glacier Country strives to engage the public in finding local solutions to climate-created challenges to water and food security, public health, and recreation.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby works on national policies by building relationships with elected officials and local media in 580 chapters around the world.

Wild Montana helps communities thrive by building trust, fostering collaboration, and reaching agreements to protect nature, address climate change, and improve access to public lands.

Our Children’s Trust works to ensure young people’s legal rights to a healthy atmosphere and safe climate, based on the best available science.

FCDCC President Lynn Stanley said this and previous events were organized to shed light and stimulate conversation and solutions to some of the most critical issues facing Montana people and local community leaders.

“Solving these problems requires the participation of citizens, Democrats and Republicans, libertarians and independents, all working together,” she said.

The event is free and open to the public.

Participants will have the opportunity to pose questions to the panelists after a one-hour moderated discussion.

End of the Yappy hour? Ruff times for the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park

June 27, 2022

Montana Economy

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A long tradition of loving dog owners in the Asbury Park area seems to be coming to an end. Yappy Hour may not be anymore.

On Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from April to November, on the large terrace and the beach of the Wonder Bar, people are invited to bring their cockapoo (or any other breed) while sipping a cocktail. Yappy Hour is normally 4-7pm, as are many human-only happy hours.

This has been going on for over a decade. That’s over 70 dog years! It raises money for local animal rescues, and director Debbie DeLisa tells NJ.com it also brings the community together.

“We would like to continue this camaraderie by being able to welcome them into a beautiful and safe environment for both the puppies and the people,” she said.

Chances are it’s all going down the drain due to a construction project that may take up the land they need to run Yappy Hour. A residential complex is in sight and the planning shows no impact on the Wonder Bar building itself, but it would eliminate its terrace and much of the sandy area they need to bring in their canine customers.

The developer says it tries to work with Wonder Bar to minimize any impact. Something that could take their deck away from them doesn’t seem like a small thing.

For the loyal doggies of Asbury Park, don’t lose hope. It is only in the phase of the land use approval process and nothing final has been decided. The project would take about two years.

The opinions expressed in the above post are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On demand! Listen to New Jersey’s favorite radio show every day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen now.

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Economic Benefit of Montana’s National Parks

June 24, 2022

Montana Economy

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A new report from the National Park Service shows that more than five million visitors in 2021 spent more than $720 million in Montana’s national parks. According to the National Park Service press release, tourist spending has generated more than $1 billion in the state’s economy and more than 11,000 jobs.

The peer-reviewed study by economists from the US Geological Survey and the National Park Service shows that more than 200 million national park tourists have spent more than $20 billion in gateway communities about 60 miles east. exterior of a national park. Visitor spending has helped support more than 300,000 people nationwide, half of them in nearby communities. Accommodation and restaurants in national parks were the biggest spenders for visitors.

Here is a list of national parks in Montana:

  • Glacier National Park
  • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
  • Nez Perce National Historical Park
  • Little Bighorn National Monument
  • yellowstone national park
  • Ice Age Flood National Geologic Trail
  • Big Hole National Battlefield
  • Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site
  • Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

Follow this link to learn more about all of Montana’s national parks and how the state, along with the National Park Service, is working to preserve these historic sites and maintain environmental conservation.

Sen. Ellsworth: Responding to Montana’s Economic Challenges and Opportunities | Columnists

June 22, 2022

Montana Economy

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SEN. JASON ELLSWORTH

As we begin to approach the 2023 legislative session, workers, families, employers and elected officials in Montana are all facing a unique combination of opportunities and challenges that we have never seen before.

In many ways, Montana’s economy is better than ever. Governor Greg Gianforte recently announced that our unemployment rate remains at an all-time high as more Montanese are working than ever before. The Treasure State’s economy and personal income are growing at the fastest rates in 40 and 15 years, respectively.

This success, along with our status as a freedom-loving state and vast open spaces, has spurred interest in Montana – as a place to start a business, raise a family, retire and buy property. The cost of owning or renting a home has skyrocketed as demand has outstripped supply. The massive inflation created by reckless federal spending and the shortage of workers to fill all the job vacancies are greatly compounding our economic challenges.

As a state, we cannot completely overcome national and international trends on things like inflation, labor shortages, or the possibility of an impending recession. But what we can do at the legislative level comes down to three main categories: reduce costs where possible, enable innovation and protect what we already have.

People also read…

Reducing costs and enabling innovation includes removing red tape that holds back entrepreneurs in Montana, like when we removed barriers to telehealth and direct-to-patient healthcare providers in the last legislative session. Next session, we’ll look at unnecessary housing regulations that drive up the cost of building and buying a home, as well as reducing property taxes. Governor Gianforte’s administration has also embarked on a multi-year effort to cut red tape, and I’m excited to see what proposals his team is putting forward.

Enabling innovation and upward mobility also means both preparing the next generation and making Montana competitive for business. We took many steps in the right direction last year, including passing legislation to increase teachers’ starting salaries, encourage vocational and technical education, reduce taxes on business equipment, and reduce and simplify income taxes. Sen. Steve Daines, Governor Gianforte and business leaders touted these and other reforms at the recent “Montana on the Rise” economic summit.

Going forward, we must build on these early reforms and significant investments. The Legislative Assembly recently brought together all of the major constitutional players in our public education system around one table to discuss next steps to better prepare Montana students for their future careers. We are also in the midst of a historic investment in high-speed internet to bridge the digital divide, give rural communities a fairer footing, and create opportunity in every corner of Big Sky Country. Additionally, Montana’s potential to produce abundant and cheap energy should be unleashed.

Finally, we must protect what makes Montana the last best place, including our traditional values ​​and the rights and freedoms we hold dear. It also means retaining and increasing public access to the great outdoors, like the Legislative Assembly’s investments in the Lower Yellowstone and Somers Beach public access projects last year.

In the 2021 legislative session, we created a solid foundation that is already driving job creation and wage growth. In the 2023 session, I hope Democrats will join us in building on this foundation to continue to make the most of Montana’s opportunities and address the challenges we face. We all recognize these challenges. To deal with it, Republicans will put in place policies to reduce costs, enable innovation and protect what we cherish about Montana. These solutions should have appeal across the political spectrum.

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Senator Jason Ellsworth: Addressing Montana’s Economic Challenges and Opportunities | Columnists

June 21, 2022

Montana Economy

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SEN. JASON ELLSWORTH

As we begin to approach the 2023 legislative session, workers, families, employers and elected officials in Montana are all facing a unique combination of opportunities and challenges that we have never seen before.

In many ways, Montana’s economy is better than ever. Governor Greg Gianforte recently announced that our unemployment rate remains at an all-time high as more Montanese are working than ever before. The Treasure State’s economy and personal income are growing at the fastest rates in 40 and 15 years, respectively.

This success, along with our status as a freedom-loving state and vast open spaces, has spurred interest in Montana – as a place to start a business, raise a family, retire and buy property. The cost of owning or renting a home has skyrocketed as demand outstripped supply. The massive inflation created by reckless federal spending and the shortage of workers to fill all the job vacancies are greatly compounding our economic challenges.

As a state, we cannot completely overcome national and international trends on things like inflation, labor shortages, or the possibility of an impending recession. But what we can do legislatively comes down to three broad categories: reduce costs where possible, enable innovation, and protect what we already have.

People also read…

Reducing costs and enabling innovation includes removing red tape that holds back entrepreneurs in Montana, like when we removed barriers to telehealth and direct-to-patient healthcare providers in the last legislative session. Next session, we’ll look at unnecessary housing regulations that drive up the cost of building and buying a home, as well as reducing property taxes. Governor Gianforte’s administration has also embarked on a multi-year effort to cut red tape, and I’m excited to see what proposals his team is putting forward.

Enabling innovation and upward mobility also means both preparing the next generation and making Montana competitive for business. We took many steps in the right direction last year, including passing legislation to increase teachers’ starting salaries, encourage vocational and technical education, reduce taxes on business equipment, and reduce and simplify income taxes. Sen. Steve Daines, Governor Gianforte and business leaders touted these and other reforms at the recent “Montana on the Rise” economic summit.

Going forward, we must build on these early reforms and significant investments. The Legislature recently brought together all of the major constitutional players in our public education system around the same table to discuss next steps to better prepare Montana students for their future careers. We are also in the midst of a historic investment in high-speed internet to bridge the digital divide, give rural communities a fairer footing, and create opportunity in every corner of Big Sky Country. Additionally, Montana’s potential to produce abundant and cheap energy should be unleashed.

Finally, we must protect what makes Montana the last best place, including our traditional values ​​and the rights and freedoms we hold dear. It also means retaining and increasing public access to the great outdoors, like the Legislative Assembly’s investments in the Lower Yellowstone and Somers Beach public access projects last year.

In the 2021 legislative session, we created a solid foundation that is already driving job creation and wage growth.

In the 2023 session, I hope Democrats will join us in building on this foundation to continue to make the most of Montana’s opportunities and address the challenges we face. We all recognize these challenges. To deal with it, Republicans will put in place policies to reduce costs, enable innovation and protect what we cherish about Montana. These solutions should have appeal across the political spectrum.

Senator Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, is president pro tempore of the Montana Senate. This column was originally published as part of the Frontier Institute’s “Legislative Viewpoint” series.

MT lawmakers debate raising movie tax credit; supporters say it boosts local businesses |

June 19, 2022

Montana Economy

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Kevin Costner was photographed this week browsing Scheels, a sporting goods store in Missoula, as lawmakers in Helena debated whether to extend and increase a tax credit intended to attract movie moguls like him in the state in the future.

On Friday, the Montana Legislature’s Interim Revenue Committee heard a presentation on the economic impact of Montana’s MEDIA Act tax credits. The law, signed into law in 2019, essentially broke even in terms of the revenue it brought in to the state government. Indeed, while the state distributed approximately $20.3 million in tax credits to film production companies, the state tax revenue generated by all film production companies and their expenses was approximately $20.3 million.

The Montana MEDIA Act tax credit was established by the state legislature in 2019 with a cap of $10 million, then expanded to a total cap of $12 million beginning in the tax year 2022. Because this is an incentive for production companies to film in Montana, eligible companies can get a 20% transferable income tax credit for production and compensation expenses during its stay in the state. Businesses can also earn additional credit for reaching various other thresholds.

An economic impact consultant gave a presentation showing how 195 different productions have shot in Montana since the law was created and spent $192 million in the state. Film industry advocates have urged the committee to consider raising the cap to between $50 million and $150 million to allow Montana to compete with other states. They say it’s necessary to encourage the growth of the industry, which they say supports Montana businesses, creates local jobs and doesn’t pollute the state’s precious outdoor spaces.

Two Republican members of the committee, Sen. Greg Hertz and Sen. Mike Lang, both expressed support for the idea of ​​at least possibly introducing a bill in the next session to raise the cap.

“It’s a tough industry,” Hertz said. “There is a lot of competition across the United States. It’s a good clean industry. It helps Montana, it helps a lot of rural communities. The question here is how do we continue to nurture this industry without becoming too excessive and having a big impact on our cash flow? »

Hertz said he believes lawmakers need to look into the matter and the cap may merit further increases.

Senator Brian Hoven, also a Republican, said he opposed the tax credit because the amount of tax revenue generated for the state by the only film companies that used the tax credit was only $7. .8 million. So, according to him, the state is losing money because the tax credit cost it $20.3 million.

“I think the film industry is very glamorous,” he said. “Movie stars are there, they show up, they bring people to rural communities, there’s a lot of money. It’s exciting, it’s great. But unfortunately, it does not bring money to the public treasury.

Hoven said he read articles in the Wall Street Journal that prove movie tax credits are unprofitable. Hoven said the director of the state Department of Revenue under former Gov. Steve Bullock insisted on having a cap on credit because he “knew it would be a drain on the treasury.”

“To invest in this, we pick winners and losers,” Hoven said. “When we start giving to the film industry, we choose them to win.”

However, the impact on state coffers is not a complete picture of the impact of film production on Montana’s economy. A report from the University of Montana found that a single season of Costner’s hit show “Yellowstone” brought in an additional $70 million to the state economy in one year.

Gina Lavery, a consultant hired by the state to analyze the impact of the movie tax credit, said the movie industry has a big “ripple effect” on rural communities and small businesses in Montana. That’s because highly paid staffers at production companies like Paramount Network, which shoots “Yellowstone” in Missoula and Ravalli counties, spend money even on days off.

Lavery also said that not raising the credit cap has hampered Montana’s economic growth and may continue to do so in the future.

She noted that a film production company was willing to build a $20 million studio in Missoula, but backed down when the legislature only raised the cap by $2 million last session.

“This type of investment, just the initial construction, would have generated $34 million for the state and $1.3 million in tax revenue for local jurisdictions and the state,” Lavery explained.

Allison Whitmer of the Montana Film Office said “Yellowstone” is currently filming its fifth season here and will likely film most of its sixth season in Montana. Combined with Paramount filming a new show called “1932” in Butte next year, Whitmer said those two shows alone will spend an estimated $50 million to $100 million in Montana over the next two years.

Hertz concluded that he thinks the Legislature should consider gradually increasing the cap, and he also noted that there may be ways to ensure it benefits rural communities in Montana. Utah, for example, has a film tax credit that only applies if companies shoot in small, rural towns.

The full presentation and discussion can be found fast forward to 10:25 a.m. online at bit.ly/3y0V1qc.

Montana budget on ‘high sugar,’ but expected revenue cuts | State

June 17, 2022

Montana Economy

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Illustration of money (Pxhere.com | Public domain images).

On a “high sugar,” the state of Montana should have plenty of extra cash in store by the start of the 2025 biennium, but revenues are volatile and a shortfall is already forecast for the fight against fires.

At the end of the 2021 legislative session, the closing fund balance was expected to be $157.2 million higher than the operating reserve at the start of the 2025 biennium, but this figure is expected to reach $1.7 billion. dollars, according to a forecast this week from Parliament. Tax Division of the Montana Legislature.

“We probably shouldn’t think about spending it right now because it’s too unpredictable,” Rep. Mary Caferro, D-Helena, said at the meeting.

At a joint meeting of the Legislative Finance Committee and the Interim Revenue Committee, tax analysts presented the outlook for the 2025 biennium ahead of the next legislature. At the meeting and in their report, they warned that it was difficult to make projections given the unpredictable rates of inflation, uncertain demographic trends and changes in labor economics, such as higher wages. and lower labor force participation.

“Strong collections offer a secure start to the 2025 biennial budget process, but economic uncertainty clouds the future,” reads the budget outlook.

Firefighting costs are rising

On the expense side, however, the cost of firefighting has increased and is expected to continue, according to the outlook. The report estimates that the average cost of wildfire suppression has increased by 31%, from $22.3 million per year to $29.2 million per year over the span of a decade.

The report also notes that while the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is effective against fires, suppressing 96% of burns under 10 acres over the past decade, those that grow ‘account for most of the expense’. .

Going forward, costs are expected to increase given longer fire seasons and higher costs for labor, fuel and supplies, as well as “an increasing number of large fires”, according to the report. The state sets a formula in law for its fire suppression fund, and based on the last 10 years of average income and expenses, Montana could see a shortfall of $14.2 million for the biennial. , and with extreme fires, a shortfall of up to $81.4 million, the report says.


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Revenues fall in advance

At the meeting, at least a few people called the state budget “high sugar,” and one presenter said every other state was in the same boat. The outlook indicates that the large sums of money in savings are due to the federally stimulated economy and a strong stock market in 2021 as well as inflation, but the tide is likely to turn.

“Projected revenue for fiscal 2023 is expected to fall at least 10% but possibly as much as 20% from fiscal 2022,” the report said. “This represents a reduction of $347 million – $721 million in general fund revenue in just one year.”

However, legislative budget analyst and divisional director Amy Carlson warned lawmakers that the possible 20% drop was an alternative estimate and that the drop could be steeper.

“It shouldn’t be considered the worst case scenario,” Carlson said. “It’s just another forecast at the moment.”

The report also says that recent years of high earnings “provide a cushion to absorb the extreme volatility expected in fiscal 2023.”

Cloud forecast

The outlook was dire for staff, who face more financial uncertainties than usual, Carlson said. For example, she said a market forecast indicates that inflation, at around 8%, will slow in fiscal 2023, but that’s not a long-term datum.

“Clearly the Federal Reserve is doing what it can to moderate inflation, and only time will tell if it’s successful,” Carlson said.

She also said this week’s analysis was by no means refined and that lawmakers would receive more budget information in the fall, before the 2023 legislature. She also said her staff generally takes the presentation budget on the road to Montana.

The post-Montana budget on a “high sugar,” but planned revenue cuts appeared first on Daily Montanan.

Daines Slams Democrats Who Killed His ‘Gas Price Relief Act’

June 15, 2022

Montana Economy

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Montana Sen. Steve Daines recently joined Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall in introducing a bill to lower gasoline prices for Americans, called “The Gas Prices Relief Act,” but Bill was killed before exiting the Senate.

Daines appeared on the floor of the US Senate on Tuesday to express his anger and disappointment with senators who opposed the bill. He explained the premises of the bill.

“Madam President, the price at the pump has skyrocketed,” said Senator Daines. “Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. When President Biden was sworn in, the average weekly gasoline price was around $2.30 per gallon. In fact, when we introduced the bill that we’re trying to pass today, the Gas Price Relief Act, on March 31 of this year, the weekly average was $4.02 a gallon . The weekly average is now $4.84. In fact, other studies show it’s now $5 and climbing.

Daines shared an anecdote from his last trip back to Montana.

“We believe these numbers will continue to rise, and most analysts agree,” he said. “We could be facing $6.00 per gallon of gasoline by this summer. I filled up my van in Belgrade, Montana Friday night. My wife and I stopped at a gas station and when the tank was full the price was $138. The pain at the pump Montana families are feeling today is due to the Democrats’ anti-American energy policies.

Daines asked the senators present about a possible solution, referring to what President Biden has already suggested to bring down gas prices.

” What is the solution ? ” He asked. “We hear President Biden turning to foreign dictators for more oil, tapping or oil reserves or pleading with OPEC to increase production. But perhaps the most disconnected solution I’ve heard, he simply suggests that families buy electric vehicles. I can say that won’t work in a state like Montana. The real solution is to unleash American energy and encourage American energy investment.

Daines explained the benefits of the Gas Price Relief Act.

“This bill I have with Senator Marshall was simple,” he said. “This prevents the Biden administration from imposing new rules or regulations that would reduce the production of petroleum gas or renewable fuels, which would therefore increase gas prices for hard-working Montanese. I urge my colleagues across the way to think about the hard working families across the country. How they try to make ends meet, think of their constituents, who depend on affordable gas prices to get to work or drop their kids off at school. I urge my colleagues opposite who say they support American energy development and want to reduce gas costs to support this bill.

The Senate voted this week to kill the bill.

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Sherman Anderson: Correct the ‘Cottonwood’ decision | Columnists

June 12, 2022

Montana Economy

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SHERMAN ANDERSON

With an active wildfire season ahead, state and federal authorities are doing everything they can to protect our communities, wildlife, water resources and forests. One way to do this is to break the impasse in the management of federal forests and allow the implementation of wildfire mitigation projects. Montana senators can help by supporting legislation to correct the “Cottonwood” decision that blocks common sense management of national forests.

In recent years, lawsuits related to the Ninth Circuit’s Cottonwood decision have halted dozens of forest management projects in western Montana. The move created a new layer of government bureaucracy and red tape, necessitating further consultation among federal agencies on forest plans each time a new species is listed under the Endangered Species Act, qu critical habitat is identified or “new information” becomes available.

The decision created numerous anti-management lawsuits, adding years of delays to forest thinning projects that can help reduce the size and intensity of today’s wildfires. In an infamous example, the Cottonwood decision halted the Stonewall Vegetation Project in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Litigation over the project was not resolved until the Park Creek and Arrastra fires burned unhealthy, overgrown forests that would have been proactively addressed.

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The Cottonwood decision has prevented our public land managers from looking after the land and ensuring that our national forests remain safe and accessible for all Montanese to enjoy. It has also blocked efforts to improve wildlife habitat and protect our watersheds and water supplies. Many of these projects were developed by local collaborations with diverse interests and had already undergone lengthy environmental reviews.

As our forests burn, the ruling has only served to add more duplicate paperwork to our flawed forest management system and added more costs to American taxpayers. It has also hurt our economy by costing family jobs in lumber. We simply cannot afford to lose our ability to manage forests and provide affordable Montana-made wood products.

Senator Steve Daines has tabled a bill that would allow public land managers and wildlife biologists to track the best available science for consultation. This would provide much-needed clarity in current regulations, so agencies can achieve their conservation goals rather than being stymied by anti-forestry lawsuits. The bill is supported by leading wildlife and outdoor conservation groups such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

There has been bipartisan support in the past to correct the Cottonwood decision and allow forest management projects to continue. This work began during the Obama administration, when President Obama’s Justice Department sought to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s decision all the way to the United States Supreme Court. While Republicans and Democrats in Congress — including Sen. Jon Tester — have backed legislation to address parts of the ruling, serial litigants are still using Cottonwood to block needed stumpage projects.

There is an urgent need to approve this new solution to the Cottonwood decision, but it is difficult for anything to pass in Congress these days. In a divided US Senate, Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines have an important opportunity to help advance a bipartisan solution through Congress. Time is running out for another active wildfire season. The time to act is now.

Sherman Anderson is the owner of Sun Mountain Lumber at Deer Lodge. His company is the largest private employer in Powell County and he is dedicated to keeping Montana’s forests healthy and resilient.

Pt. Mayor of Pleasant Beach, NJ offers $192,000 to Ukrainians

June 10, 2022

Montana Economy

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Mayor Paul Kanitra has donated nearly $200,000 to two charities supporting Ukrainian refugees who were picked up at a concert.

Kanitra was moved by the coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to pack five suitcases with supplies and head to the Polish-Ukrainian border and see what he could do to help.

“We’ve volunteered with other groups. We’ve done just about anything and everything, from preparing food, to delivering meals at the border, to shuttling refugees, to by purchasing supplies and distributing them to the refugee centre,” Kanitra said. New Jersey 101.5’s Steve Trevelise in April.

Photo provided by Mayor Paul Kanitra

Photo provided by Mayor Paul Kanitra

A Jersey Shore All-Star Fundraiser

Once back in Point Pleasant Beach, he hosted Concert For Ukraine at Jenkinson’s with an all-star lineup that included Bobby Bandiera, Eddie Testa, Jo Bonnano, Polish rock band Green Secret and Steve Forber.

New York’s Dumka Ukrainian Choir, which appeared on Saturday Night Live, opened the concert with the Ukrainian national anthem.

The gig exceeded Kanitra’s expectations and raised nearly double what he expected. He traveled to the United Nations in New York and Washington to present a check for $100,000 to World Central Kitchen and another for $92,000 to Caritas Internationalis.

“These donations will provide over a hundred thousand meals to desperately hungry Ukrainian refugees. This will help support and protect so many orphans and children,” Kanitra wrote on her Facebook page. “You have all made an incredible difference in the world and you should be so proud.”

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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Members of the Congressional Western Caucus take a close look at the Snake River dams

June 8, 2022

Montana Economy

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Four members of the US Congress recently took a close look at the Snake River dams in Washington.

The four members of the Congressional Western Caucus, which Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, chairs, watched the fish travel through various passageways at the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. A boat trip also took them through the lock system near the Tri-Cities.

Representatives Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas; Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon; Matt Rosendale, R-Montana; and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, joined the tour.

From left to right, U.S. Representatives Dan Newhouse, R-Washington; Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas; Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon; and Matt Rosendale, R-Montana. Representatives visited the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River near Pasco, Washington.

Congressional Western Caucus

Newhouse is a strong supporter of the region’s hydroelectric system. He said bringing other congressional Republicans to the roadblock was part of his strategy to promote Washington.

Congress could eventually decide whether to approve a decision to remove or modify the four controversial Snake River dams, Newhouse said.

“The dams are attacked. I think the more members of Congress who can come and see first hand exactly what is involved when we talk about hydroelectric dams and the benefits we get from them – I think the better off we are,” he said. declared.

However, environmental groups and the Nez Percé Tribe continue to press for the removal or modification of the four dams in an effort to protect the endangered salmon.

“Nothing has been more devastating to these species than four dams impeding a 140-mile section of their migration on the lower Snake River,” EarthJustice lead attorney Todd True wrote in a statement. Press. “Scientists have been saying for years that breaking these dams is the best thing we can do to restore these fish.”

But, Newhouse said further study is needed into court-ordered increases in spills over dams, which he says increases dissolved gases in the water, posing a threat to water bodies. Pisces. Moreover, he stated that the increased spillage wastes potential energy.

“It could go through turbines to generate power to boost our economy. The cost of energy is literally exploding. It’s really hard to see all that potential energy being literally wasted,” Newhouse said.

However, environmental groups have said the increased spillage is helping young salmon migrate out to sea, calling the increased spillage a crucial protection for juvenile salmon.

“The science is clear and for many years the spill has increased the survival of migrating juvenile fish. And while the increase in dumping has been helpful, it remains insufficient if we are to save these fish and prevent their extinction,” said Joseph Bogaard, executive director of Save Our Wild Salmon.

Man shot at NJ Transit New Brunswick station

June 3, 2022

Montana Economy

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One person was fatally shot at the New Brunswick NJ Transit station on Sunday evening, according to Rutgers police in a statement released Thursday.

The person was approached by four men who struck her with a “blunt object” around 8:30 p.m., according to Rutgers police.

The person who was hit pursued the assailants but was shot in the lower limbs. The four men fled and were last seen in the area of ​​Somerset Street and College Avenue, one block from the train station.

Police were only informed when the victim sought medical treatment for the gunshot wound which is not life threatening.

A spokeswoman for NJ Transit said no arrests have yet been made in the case and the investigation is ongoing.

It was the second incident at the NJ Transit station that week.

NJ Transit’s Red Bank station on the North Jersey Coast Line

NJ Transit’s Red Bank station on the North Jersey Coast Line (Carl Schellenberger)

A man was found dead on the incoming platform of NJ Transit’s Red Bank station on Tuesday afternoon, according to the spokesperson. His identity has been confirmed as Gabriel Aparicio-Hernandez, 27.

Red Bank Police Captain Mike Frazee told Patch there were no signs of trauma or foul play. The spokeswoman would not divulge additional information about the case citing the ongoing investigation.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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Municipal tax bill for every city and town in NJ, filed

Just under 30 cents of every $1 of property taxes collected in New Jersey supports municipal services provided by cities, townships, boroughs, and villages. Statewide, the average municipal tax bill alone in 2021 was $2,725, but that varied widely from over $13,000 in Tavistock to nothing in three townships. In addition to the $9.22 billion in taxes for municipal purposes, special tax districts that in some locations provide municipal services such as fire protection, garbage collection or economic development collected 323, $8 million in 2021.

Deb Haaland to Boost Clean Energy Generation on Public Lands

June 1, 2022

Montana Economy

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland traveled to Las Vegas on Tuesday to announce new efforts to support the growing clean energy economy and green jobs in Nevada and the Southwest.

Climate change poses an existential threat to our environment, health and economic well-being, according to Haaland.

In Las Vegas, Haaland announced two new developments to aid renewable energy efforts. One is a new policy to reduce rents and fees charged for wind and solar projects on public lands by 50% for existing and new projects.

“This will inspire industry to partner in responsible solar and wind development and help encourage and inspire to invest and compete in the clean energy economy,” she said.

A second development is the creation of five new Renewable Energy Coordination Offices to manage the growing number of requests by wind, solar and geothermal developers through the Bureau of Land Management.

Coordinating offices include a national office at BLM headquarters, state offices in Arizona, California and Nevada, and a regional office in Utah.

Both projects are part of the Biden administration’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050.

“The Bureau of Land Management continues to take bold steps to attract renewable energy investment to public lands in an environmentally responsible manner,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “This will help support our clean energy economy by creating well-paying jobs, increasing our energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana , KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations throughout the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under a Creative Commons Flickr license.

Car parking: Missoula debates current needs, future trends

May 30, 2022

Montana Economy

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A man pays to park in downtown Missoula. (Current Martin Kidston/Missoula file)

Some say a large apartment complex proposed for Midtown Missoula does not have enough parking spaces, with only one space per residential unit. Others say it has too much, creating a sea of ​​asphalt that could be put to better uses.

The parking debate with new developments is perennial in Missoula, where land is both limited and expensive. Using it to park cars is expensive and could fall out of use as carpooling and public transport expand to provide new mobility options.

As one reader suggested, “many developers discourage car ownership or provide residents with a small fleet of vehicles. There are alternatives to huge car parks.

In downtown Missoula, Ian Ortlieb, director of the Missoula Parking Commission, said the Covid-19 pandemic “sent everything into a tailspin” around the parking lot. Demand dried up as people stayed home and the economy slowed.

Now that the restrictions have been lifted, many companies have turned to new work models like telecommuting or a hybrid schedule. If the trend continues, this could reduce downtown parking demand in the long term.

“As we monitor what’s happening — the recovery process in Missoula — we’re paying close attention to parking demand,” Ortlieb said. “But I think it’s early at this point to really understand what’s going on.”

Urban planners in big cities have already started to rethink how people get around and what the future of mobility will bring. At some point, they predict, self-driving vehicles will transport passengers to any location, reducing the need for personal cars while making large parking lots obsolete.

A parking attendant patrols the street in downtown Missoula. (Current Martin Kidston/Missoula file)

Already, ride-sharing like Uber and Lyft are offering new transportation options, and new developments in other cities now include drop-off areas in hard-pack parking. Missoula also has a convenient transit system at Mountain Line, which is set to expand services to make the system more convenient.

But this will require more density in some parts of the city, which is difficult to achieve when parking takes up so much space.

“Looking into the future of the area we’re managing in, the density is only going to increase,” Ortlieb said of downtown. “So how can we increase parking supply without necessarily increasing our footprint with parking lots? You can install many more parking spaces in a garage on surface land.

According to the Washington Post, cities like Cincinnati and Los Angeles have new parking lots with flat floors and higher ceilings. This allows them to be converted into apartments or offices if parking demand drops.

In downtown Missoula, the need for parking is uneven and varies by area, Ortlieb said. The city offers approximately 1,200 spaces on the street, including short-term, long-term, and metered parking. It offers an additional 1,300 parking spaces in its rental program, including surface lots and garages.

“We don’t get the complaint that there’s too much parking,” Ortlieb said. “Just about everywhere, there are localized shortages. But some areas seem a bit narrower than others.

Another measure of demand may be the revenue brought to the city by parking. In 2021, Ortlieb said, the Missoula Parking Commission brought in $2.4 million in overall revenue. In the first three quarters of this fiscal year, it has already grossed over $2.1 million.

Nationally, the 25 largest U.S. cities raised about $1.5 billion in total from parking, according to “Special Report: How Self-Driving Vehicles Could Limit City Budgets.”

“We expect a little more than the previous year. Hopefully this is a sign of recovery from the pandemic,” Ortlieb said of this year’s parking revenue.

Outside of downtown, Missoula city and county codes require a set number of parking spaces based on a project. This month, however, the city council began exploring potential incentives for developers in exchange for more affordable housing.

The Casa Loma project on South Avenue would dedicate the majority of the property to parking.

One would allow a developer to reduce parking by up to 50% in exchange for a fixed percentage of affordable housing. Parking supply is expensive and drives up development costs, so reducing the number of parking spaces could lower construction costs.

It could also free up land for better building design and other uses — something members of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency noted in a recent proposed apartment project on South Avenue.

As presented, the Casa Loma project would create 132 new housing units. It would also provide 132 parking spaces in a large car park located within the development. Some say it’s not enough parking while others argue it’s too much. A similar debate is taking place around the great Ravara project on Scott Street.

“It would be nice to see some innovative thinking in a parking grid that isn’t all asphalt – asphalt being a heat sink,” said MRA Commissioner Nancy Moe. “Given that temperatures are going to rise, it would be nice to see something on the sustainability side.”

Nate Richmond, a member of the Casa Loma development team, didn’t disagree. Surface parking isn’t ideal, he says, although the options cost money.

“One of the things we assessed for our construction estimator is to consider doing underground parking so we can reduce the size of that surface lot,” he said. “It’s something we’d like to accomplish, but obviously the cost is significant with that.”

Soaring Fertilizer Prices Compress Midwest Farmers | national news

May 28, 2022

Montana Economy

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(The Center Square) – Things are getting tougher for the country’s breadbasket, a difficult situation that will likely affect the country’s economy.

In addition to 40-year high inflation and new records being set almost daily at the gas pump for the past two weeks, the price of some agricultural fertilizers has skyrocketed as much as 60% above last year.

“An average 2,500-acre corn and soybean farm has seen its fertilizer bill increase by $175,000 in the last year alone, from $250,000 to $425,000,” said economist Loren Koeman. Chief/Manager of Industry, Conservation, and Regulatory Relations for the Michigan Farm Bureau. Center Square.

This is very bad news for farmers, but also for grocery store customers who buy basic foods like meat, dairy and bread.

The Michigan Legislature has sent a message to lawmakers in Washington to help reduce agricultural fertilizer costs. Rep. Steve Carra, R-Three Rivers, is the author of House Resolution 205. The resolution urges the U.S. Congress, federal agencies and state departments to immediately address the continuing fertilizer price increases and shortages that are severely affecting Michigan farmers.

The Michigan House of Representatives approved the resolution and sent it to the US Congress.

“Farmers play a vital role in Michigan’s history, as well as in today’s culture and economy,” Carra, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, said in a statement. “There are approximately 10 million acres of farmland in Michigan, and we are home to over 47,000 farms. There are millions of acres of farmland that need to be fertilized.

According to Koeman, the main factors driving up fertilizer prices are:

The war in Ukraine has impacted the supply of fertilizers from Russia and Belarus due to sanctions.

Rising energy prices have a direct impact on nitrogen fertilizers, which are made from natural gas.

Higher shipping costs due to both rising energy costs, labor costs, and limited ship and rail availability. Fertilizers are bulky and often have to be shipped long distances from where they are extracted to where they are used.

Consolidation in the fertilizer industry. For example, just two companies control more than 90% of the US potash market. Fertilizer producers are making record profits. For example, Nutrien’s profits for the last 12 months are almost 10 times greater than the profits for 2020.

Modern farmers have increased the efficiency of fertilizers, optimizing the use of technologies such as GPS to test soils and manage individual crop areas in fields, Koeman explained. It is therefore difficult to further reduce fertilizer use without reducing yields.

In the short term, farmers’ profits are reduced by high fertilizer prices. In the long run, farmers need to make a profit to stay in business, so higher fertilizer costs will have to drive up food prices, Koeman said.

It’s not all bad news for farmers.

“This year, farmers were largely able to offset the higher cost of fertilizers with higher crop prices, due to the supply disruption in Ukraine,” Koeman said. “Farmers are concerned, however, that fertilizer prices will remain high even if crop prices fall back to more normal levels, squeezing profits.”

Michigan Farm Bureau industry relations specialist Theresa Sisung agrees with Koeman.

“With high crop prices, farmers hope to offset some of their additional input expenses with higher selling prices and good yields,” Sisung told The Center Square. “Farmers are sharpening their pencils and being diligent in crop sales, and with the help of Mother Nature, it is still possible to have a positive income this year. There is more concern about future profitability if input prices remain high and we see crop prices start to decline. »

Local South Jersey restaurant donates thousands of meals

May 25, 2022

Montana Economy

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Foodie Hall in Cherry Hill has only been open since March, but they’ve already donated 7,200 meals through their Meals 4 Meals program. For every meal ordered at Foodie Hall, the company donates a meal to Feeding America, which supports food banks nationwide.

They are on track to deliver 50,000 meals by the end of the year.

It’s not just a whole new food company, but a new takeaway concept. There are seven kitchen brands and types in a 2,000 square foot kitchen. You can get Asian, Mexican, and Italian dishes, as well as a full chicken menu and vegan options.

Photo Dennis Malloy

Photo Dennis Malloy

Yes, they also do great pizzas.

See more here. They plan to add three more full menus to their electronic restaurant variety.

Their culinary direction is a master chef whose list of accomplishments is as long and varied as their menus.

It’s all under the culinary direction of chef Georgeann Leaming, who along with owners Dan Goldberg and Nick Ballias knew they were going to feed a lot of people.

Through Feeding America, Foodie Hall donates meals for every meal ordered from its online restaurant. Feeding America is the largest hunger relief organization in the United States, with 200 food banks and 60,000 pantries and thriving meal programs.

Photo Dennis Malloy

Photo Dennis Malloy

Feeding America serves 40 million people, including 12 million children and seven million seniors nationwide.

Foodie Hall is thrilled with the response to its new premium takeout and delivery concept, and its ability to give back by donating so many meals to those in need. They plan to open more locations in New Jersey as the Cherry Hill location expands.

Based on how many meals they’ve already served their customers and donated to Feeding American, it could happen sooner rather than later.

The views expressed in the above post are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

You can now listen to Dennis & Judi — On demand! Listen to New Jersey’s favorite Best Friends anytime, anywhere, and any day of the week. Download the Dennis & Judi show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen now.

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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‘She’s Assignment’ Still Impacting NJ Women in Workforce: Report

May 22, 2022

Montana Economy

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Unlike other recessions, the downturn caused by COVID-19 has hit women harder than men economically.

And a new report from Rutgers suggests that women are struggling to regain their status in the workforce, and could continue to do so for some time.

Female unemployment, which peaked at 18.4% in April 2020, has exceeded that of men through the end of 2021, according to the Rutgers Center for Women and Work report.

Most of these women are back at work, but not necessarily back to normal – making significant sacrifices related to the way they work, usually due to childcare issues.

“It’s the part of the ‘She-cession’ that nobody talks about,” said Debra Lancaster, the Center’s executive director. “Thousands of women are sacrificing full-time jobs, higher wages, health insurance and other benefits for the ability to care for young children and aging parents.”

In the last six months of 2021, despite the return to in-person school instruction, 23.1% of families experienced childcare disruptions, according to the report. Women of color and those with low incomes have shouldered the greatest burdens.

At the end of 2021, 5.2% of women held multiple jobs, compared to 4.1% of men, the report notes. In 2018, 4.4% of men held more than one job, compared to 4.3% of women.

“We’re also seeing people cut back on their working hours or having to watch their kids while they work,” said Sarah Small, the report’s co-author and an economist at the Center. “The child care crisis has never gone away for many low-income families.”

The report also highlighted the gender pay gap among those in front-line positions and showed how policies such as federal stimulus payments and the child tax credit have helped families low income – those who received the payments – to afford the essentials in times of uncertainty.

The report makes a number of recommendations to improve conditions for women and their families in New Jersey, such as ensuring the longevity of the child tax credit, strengthening housing protections, improving access and affordability of child care and improving access to mental health services.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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Republican candidates in the final debate for the US House District 1 seat | ABC Fox Missoula

May 21, 2022

Montana Economy

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WHITE FISH, Mont. – Like your hometown election Headquarter, we are counting down to the primary elections in June. RRepublican candidates or the seat of the United States House district in Congress discussed issues affecting ranchers and farmers during their final debate at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center this Friday night.

Each contestant was asked to answer questions about various issues affecting farmers and ranchers in Montana, one of them being mental health.

In one question, candidates were asked how they would address this lingering crisis among farmers and ranchers, especially in rural Montana.

Here’s what they had to say.

“We in the room can do better on the scene, the political scene, the economic scene, we can do better and I also think when you go into the economy they face an economy that we never have been faced before. if they go to a school and work at the job for 10 years, that job may never exist, which actually creates more tension and questions, they go to bed more anxious than ever before,” said Matt Jette, (R)House District candidate.

“It’s a crisis on every level and it comes out of desperation and so it comes down to education and I think again when an individual is cross-trained and self-sufficient they can be successful in another area if a guy company is closing down. they have one backup and go to another,” said House District (R) candidate Mitch Heuer.

“As the only physician in the state legislature for the past 8 years, my role was to push, shoot, kill and carry bills that supported suicide prevention and education that worked on substance abuse and mental health. What we’re learning is there’s a lot we can do at the state level, but the big issue comes down to reimbursement,” said district candidate Al Olszewski. of House (R).

“When they’re told they have to do things with their bodies, I think that’s wrong, it’s overreaching government and we need to look at the bigger picture to find out why the suicide rate is so high. and I really think it’s because of government-reach and people have to go back to managing their own lives, managing their own issues and not being dependent on government,” said Mary Todd (R) House District candidate.

To see the answers to all the questions posed to candidates, you can head to our streaming news channel.

NJ AG warns of price gouging and fraud involving infant formula

May 19, 2022

Montana Economy

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On Thursday, New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin clarified what the state of emergency Governor Phil Murphy declared on Tuesday due to an ongoing shortage of baby formula means for merchants who may want to increase their profits with this coveted and essential item.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office said Murphy’s order enforces the state’s predatory pricing law, prohibiting for the duration of the state of emergency and 30 days after any increase in price higher than 10% of what the price was before. urgency.

The OAG said the state Consumer Affairs Division has received “approximately” 16 consumer complaints about the infant formula price hike to date, about half of them in less than three days since publication of the decree.

Each individual sale is considered a separate violation, according to the OAG. A first offense carries a civil penalty of up to $10,000, with the fine increasing to $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.

Violators may also be subject to the payment of restitution to consumers, as well as attorney and investigation fees, according to the statement.

The OAG said specific scams to watch out for include offering or selling expired infant formula, or any transaction that requires a wire transfer.

As the state Poison Control Center also suggested earlier Thursday, parents should consult with their baby’s pediatrician before changing the formula.

Price gouging of infant formula in New Jersey can be reported by filling out an online form or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to request a complaint form by mail.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.

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US States Struggle to Replace Tax Revenue from Fossil Fuels | News, Sports, Jobs

May 17, 2022

Montana Economy

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AP Photo/Jeri Clausing, File Oil rigs sit in the Loco Hills field along US Highway 82 in Eddy County near Artesia, NM, one of the busiest areas in the Permian basin.

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Government budgets are booming in New Mexico: Teacher salaries are up, residents can go to state college tuition-free, mothers will get medical care for a year postpartum and criminal justice initiatives are funded to reduce urban violence.

The reason behind the spending spree – oil. New Mexico is the second largest producer of crude oil among US states and the top recipient of US remittances for fossil fuel production on federal lands. But a budget filled with oil cash has a side effect: it also highlights how difficult it is to turn state rhetoric about fighting climate change into reality.

State governments in key regions of the country for oil, natural gas and coal production have by far the highest per capita reliance on fossil fuels – led by Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska and the New Mexico. Revenue funds essential public services, from road maintenance to prisons. In Carlsbad, New Mexico, property taxes on oil infrastructure are securing a high school performing arts center, expanded sports facilities and elementary school renovations.

None of this would be possible without oil revenue, said schools superintendent Gerry Washburn.

“We can’t slow down on this and what we’re doing to fund schools until we have a legitimate replacement” for oil and natural gas revenues, he said. “Whether you’re in the middle of the oil patch or in an area with no oil and gas drilling, these policies will impact the revenue of every school district in the state.”

Federal, state and local governments receive about $138 billion a year from the fossil fuel industry, according to a study by nonpartisan Washington-based economics group Resources for the Future, which does not advocate energy policies. This equals the annual spending of New York State and Texas combined.

Cash flow is dominated by retail taxes on gasoline and diesel in each state, but energy-producing states are most dependent on fossil fuel revenues through a range of taxes, levies, rental and fee sales. Because these revenues help pay for government services, they tend to tax residents less, said Daniel Raimi, a fellow at Resources for the Future and co-author of the study.

“It’s a really difficult dynamic if you’re thinking about moving away from fossil fuels,” he said. “They are going to be faced with the question: are we going to increase our taxes on our residents or do we have to reduce the level of services that we provide? »

In New Mexico, oil and gas make up 42% of state government revenue, a share rising amid war in Ukraine and record oil production in the Permian Basin that stretches across southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. Additional oil revenues are paid into a new interest-bearing trust for early childhood education.

Skyrocketing profits from the fossil fuel industry have also given the Democratic-controlled New Mexico Legislature a chance to try to tackle the nation’s highest unemployment rate and the persistence of a high poverty. Lawmakers gave $1.1 billion in tax breaks and direct payments of up to $1,500 per household to offset inflation.

At the same time, lawmakers have balked this year over climate initiatives that could curb oil production. They rejected a bill to limit pollution linked to global warming in the production and distribution of transportation fuels, a measure taken by West Coast states. New Mexico also avoided a state constitutional amendment for the right to clean air.

Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, re-elected in November, said her administration was working to contain methane pollution from oilfields and diversify the economy. New mandates provide for the production of electricity from solar, wind and other renewable sources. But she warned the federal government against deep restrictions on oil exploration and production, which are still the cornerstone of the state budget.

“We can work very effectively with oil and gas producers to meet clean energy standards…while managing some pretty incredible fossil fuel exploration to meet the world’s current energy demands,” the governor said in April.

Preserving revenue from oil, natural gas or coal production while acting on climate change can be especially tricky in blue states where Democrats often campaign to fight global warming.

Colorado Democratic Governor Jared Polis is pursuing an ambitious clean energy plan while trying to preserve $1 billion in annual tax revenue from oil and gas production. To justify air pollution restrictions, Polis cited real-time evidence of climate change, drought and fires.

But Polis, a wealthy tech entrepreneur, threatened last year to veto a proposal that could impose a per-tonne emissions fee on polluters. William Toor, executive director of the governor’s Colorado Energy Office, said the state is not targeting fossil fuel production, only emissions from industry.

On the plains of northeastern Colorado, Weld County Commission Chairman Scott James said state regulations are stifling new drilling needed to support production and government revenues, especially for the schools. The county is centered on a vast oil field stretching from the Denver area to Wyoming and Nebraska.

“I agree with the overall mission to reduce greenhouse gases, but there is an environment that exists in the State Legislature where we have to electrify everything, we have to mandate it, we have to do it now”, said James. “And these technologies are not ready for prime time yet. We just don’t have the capacity to do that.

Rural and economically isolated communities may have a harder time adjusting to a low-carbon economy, said Kristin Smith, a Montana-based Headwaters Economics researcher and economist who studies public finance in the Bakken oil region. , North Dakota. She anticipates “Very difficult decisions” on cuts to areas like public health care and policing.

Some major oil-producing states are moving forward with their climate programs.

Pennsylvania in April became the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy, joining an 11-state regional consortium that sets a falling price and limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s move comes without the approval of the Republican-controlled legislature in the nation’s No. 2 state for natural gas production — and a major exporter of gas-generated electricity. A per-well drilling royalty on the booming Marcellus shale gas industry has rained cash on rural counties and municipalities for nearly a decade.

South of Pittsburgh, Washington County has raised more than $100 million over the past decade. This equates to $500 per capita — a “game changer,” said County Council Chairwoman Diana Irey Vaughan. The manna paid, among other things, for the improvement of parks and bridges.

Democratic State Representative Greg Vitali, an advocate for stronger action on climate change, said local governments dependent on gas drilling money will simply have to use traditional tools such as property taxes to make it out.

Republican-dominated Wyoming, the top coal-producing state, has bold goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions to below zero, even though fossil fuels make up more than half of its revenue.

This vision hinges on eventually capturing carbon dioxide from coal and gas-fired power plants and pumping it underground, possibly to increase oil production in aging fields in the center of the state. Wyoming leaders are also turning to alternative fuels like hydrogen and nuclear power, using reactors that produce less waste.

Meanwhile, a decade of declining demand for coal has sapped government revenue. Republican Gov. Mark Gordon signed a coal tax cut in March, giving up about $9 million a year to help the coal industry remain economically viable.

The state – one of only two that does not tax personal income, corporate income or gross receipts – must eventually come to terms with its dependence on fossil fuel money, said Jennifer Lowe, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

“At some point, there is going to have to be a time for Jesus to come,” Lowe said.



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Common Ground of New Jersey helps those who lose a loved one

May 15, 2022

Montana Economy

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No one can deny that the past two years with the pandemic have caused major disruption and upended our lives for what seemed like an eternity. Our hospitals were full and some of our patients succumbed to the virus and died.

It was reported this week that the death toll from the covid virus has soared to 1,000,000. That’s an incredible number.

Tero Vesalainen

Tero Vesalainen

The Common Ground Grief Center located in Manasquan provides support in a safe place where grieving children, teens, young adults and their families can come together and share their experiences as they begin the grieving process. They have many programs that provide this support and volunteers to help those grieving a death.

Common Ground provides just that, common ground for those who have experienced death close to them, and their programs offer the opportunity for those who are grieving to share and discuss their inner thoughts with others going through similar pain. It is necessary therapy.

Most of us have experienced the loss of someone very close to us and often when we hear of the death our friends or associates say, “I know how you feel”. After the funeral and the celebration of life, it becomes awfully quiet and lonely without the loved one who has passed away. That’s when Common Ground is needed and they provide the help needed to cope.

You can help Common Ground continue to provide these necessary programs. On Thursday, 6/16/22, Common Ground will hold its
2nd Annual Clam Cook with music provided by the very talented Eddie Testa Band taking place at Martell’s Tiki Bar from 5:30-9:30pm. It will be amazing food, raffle prizes and a cash bar. The food is awesome.

Help Common Ground Grief Center help those in need when they need it. You can buy clam cooking tickets or donate here:
commongroundgriefcenter.org and click on News and Events
As always thank you for your support.

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. All opinions expressed are those of Big Joe.

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Visit Big Sky shifts focus from marketing to management

May 13, 2022

Montana Economy

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By Gabrielle Gasser ASSOCIATE EDITOR

BIG SKY – On the eve of another busy tourist season in Big Sky, the marketing and community management organization is shifting from relentless efforts to sell the destination to educating visitors on how to enjoy their Stay responsibly.

Today at the annual Visit Big Sky Marketing Outlook luncheon, presenters discussed the growth of Big Sky’s and the state’s tourism economy, and how that growth can be responsibly managed. About 60 business owners from a variety of industries came together to hear five speakers on topics ranging from how to use social media to drive business, what the state of Montana is doing to attract tourism, and how Big Sky can improve the visitor experience.

Brad Niva, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce and VBS, shared in his presentation that in order for VBS to move away from marketing efforts, he plans to invest in projects to manage Big Sky as a destination and to improve the visitor experience.

Niva shares a quote from John Muir to kick off her presentation. PHOTO GABRIELLE GASSER

“As Big Sky has grown, we’re having a capacity issue,” Niva said. “All our hotels are full, our restaurants are full [and] lift lines are longer. …our change… does not mean that we stop marketing, but we must continue to communicate with our visitors and thus educate them on how to be a good visitor.

Some of this communication will take the form of new wayfinding signage which Niva says is being updated, as well as the new “Love Big Sky Like a Local” education campaign which gives tourists advice on how to be respectful. He also announced that VBS was part of an effort to update Google Street View in Big Sky, which currently uses photos taken in 2015. Over three days in the first week of June, the 32-mile route of Big Sky will be recaptured to help visitors find their way around today’s Big Sky.

To support local businesses, Niva said it is working on a new website and tourism industry newsletter that will be distributed monthly to businesses and provide them with up-to-date Big Sky data to help inform staffing decisions.

In an effort to create visitor services and to more firmly play the role of destination manager rather than marketer, VBS in its FY23 application made a request for $333,600 to the Big District Council Sky Resort Area to get funds to build new public restrooms in Fire. Pit Park in the city center.

“We don’t use any resort fees for traditional marketing,” Niva said. “It will only serve the infrastructure and betterment of our community. »

After Niva’s presentation, Haley Walter, campaign director for Visit Montana, said the state is seeing record numbers in bed tax collections as well as growth across all regions.

The state’s goal based on that growth, Walter said, is public education and spreading the “responsibly recreate” messages.

Additionally, Walter said Visit Montana is working to promote the spread of tourists throughout the state to relieve pressure on high-traffic areas. The state will also transition to an “always on” marketing model, intended to support visits during the shoulder seasons.

Big Sky is the largest collector of the 4% lodging facility use tax in the state, according to data from the Montana Office of Tourism, raising a total of $4,948,727 million in 2021 , Bozeman in second place by raising $4,455,700.

Big Sky has “enough visitors,” Niva said, and now is the time to step back from marketing and focus on communicating with those visitors.

Niva said the Big Sky community has already done a good job of marketing and managing it as a destination and he wants that to continue in the future.

“It’s our job,” he said, “to continue to inspire people to take the time to work on their business and work on our experience, make sure our visitors leave here saying: ” I can not wait to return “.”

Resilient Butte program sees potential for green energy in mining town

May 11, 2022

Montana Economy

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BUTTE – The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is partnering with Montana Tech and Butte-Silver Bow County to bring renewable energy ideas and solutions to the impacts of climate change.

“We’re going to work with experts across the country who know climate trends and climate projections to say what issues Butte is facing? So we can be tough on Butte going forward,” said NCAT Director Steve Thompson.

The Resilient Butte program creates a plan to stimulate local business development, develop green energy, and protect the community and its natural resources from the impacts of climate change. This includes health and environmental issues such as drought, forest fires and rising temperatures.

“A lot more wildfire smoke, most summers we get more wildfire smoke. It’s a health concern for particularly vulnerable people,” Thompson said.

The plan also involves investing in new clean energy sources such as solar, energy storage systems or green hydrogen industries.

“One of the opportunities we have in Butte is to put solar panels on the mining lands and that would be really cool, and it’s such an interesting and specific project for Butte,” said Resilient Butte coordinator Rylie Yaeger. .

Some city officials see it as preparing Butte for a new economy.

“How do we adapt as a community to future energy, power, water needs, whatever it is, we have to come up with a plan for that,” Butte general manager JP Gallagher said.

The group is soliciting community feedback with a poll on the Resilient Butte website.

Broadband Champions Needed to Combat Barriers and Boost Public Funding, Panelists Say: Broadband Breakfast

May 6, 2022

Montana Economy

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HOUSTON, May 4, 2022 – Those considering using public funding opportunities should communicate with all levels of stakeholders and worthwhile partnerships to get the most out of the Infrastructure Investment Act funding and the ‘job.

Funding plans live or die by stakeholder involvement, said Tom CoverickCEO of Keybanc Capital Markets.

“Every project needs a champion,” he said during the Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment mini-conference at the Broadband Communities Summit on Monday. “We are looking at higher interest rates and [rising] labor costs. Without local champions, these local projects would have a hard time moving forward.

“The reality is that these champions in local regions will know everyone who needs to be involved, and if they don’t know, they’ll find out how it is pretty quickly,” Coverick said.

“Some communities are ahead of others,” said Illinois Broadband Office Manager matt schmit mentioned. “There are a lot of great role models across the country who have [created] community engagement and outreach programs.

Schmit used Illinois’ “Accelerate Illinois” partnership between the state and Heartland Forward. He explained how this program has helped guide communities who are committed to obtaining public funding for broadband, but who may not have concrete goals or a vision of how to achieve them.

“[These communities] haven’t had this inclusive conversation at the community level, or they may not know exactly how to prepare a grant application, or [how to] find the ideal private supplier partner.

Schmit also emphasized the importance of communication and emphasized a three-legged stool for access, adoption and use. “Be available [to community leaders – to that local champion –] is really important,” Schmit said. “It’s going to make or break a lot of our investment in the United States.”

CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund Sunne Wright McPeak said communication should be encouraged from all stakeholders, from top to bottom. She spoke in particular of state leaders informing local community leaders of the opportunities available to them through grants.

Part of this coordination helped generate intermediary investments to connect eligible communities, she said.

“It is essential to systematically contact the public bodies that must approve the projects and give the permits, and those who will develop the project and apply for the financing[essential”saidMcPeak[iscritical”McPeaksaid[estessentiel”adéclaréMcPeak[iscritical”McPeaksaid

“People who are really on the ground in adoption are what we call trusted messengers,” she added. “It’s the community organizations that can do outreach – in language and culture – and increase that turnout.”

“Where there is a will, there is a way”, said the CEO of UTOPIA Fiber Roger Timmerman. “If you have elected officials or community groups or leaders and you want to solve the broadband problem in your area, you need to organize that effort and find good partners.”

Information on the presentations made during the “Public Funding” panel is available on the Digital Infrastructure Investment page.

Visit Montana celebrates the future of travel

May 3, 2022

Montana Economy

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National Travel and Tourism Week highlights the Collective strength of the travel industry in the United States

HELEN, Mont., May 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Montana joins tourism partners across the state to celebrate the travel and tourism industry – the state’s second largest industry – during National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTT) May 1-7, 2022.

“Tourism plays a vital role in from montana economy,” said Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce. “This week celebrates the work of the hospitality industry across the state and the thousands of local Montanese employed in various travel industries.”

Celebrated the first full week of May each year, this year’s theme is The future of travel and focuses on workforce, sustainability, connection building and more as the industry looks to future growth and success after the challenges of the past two years.

A key driver of the state’s economy, tourism has a huge impact on Montanawith data from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) showing an impact that includes:

  • Montana welcomed about 12.5 million non-resident visitors in 2021
  • Non-resident visitors spent approximately $5.22 billion in 2021
  • that spending by non-resident visitors supported $4.42 billion of economic activity in 2021
  • Travel, tourism and hospitality supported 68,630 jobs and contributed $2.038 billion in employee compensation

Montana is a place that remains at the top of the wish list of many travellers,” said Jan Stoddard, bureau chief of the Montana Tourist Board. “Year after year, we see the positive impacts of non-resident traveler spending as it touches every community across the state.”

Destination Analysts reports that nearly 90% of Americans have a trip planned for 2022, with family travel, solo travel and meeting travel being a high priority.

“NTTW takes on special significance this year as the travel industry looks to a bright future,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the US Travel Association. “This NTTW is an opportunity to recognize the collective strength of the travel industry in the United States and how we are rebuilding ourselves to be more vibrant, innovative, sustainable and inclusive in the months and years to come.”

For more information on from montana tourism industry and marketing efforts, visit MarketMT.com.

About Visit Montana
To visit Montana markets from montana spectacular untouched nature, vibrant and charming small towns, breathtaking experiences, relaxing hospitality, and a competitive business climate to promote the state as a place to visit and do business. For more information, visit VISITMT.COM.

SOURCE Visit Montana

You decide: How well has North Carolina handled COVID-19? – The Coastland Times

May 2, 2022

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By Mike Walden

Even if COVID-19 continues with its variants, medical experts hope the virus becomes less deadly and disruptive. In other words, we learn to live with it.

As a result, it should come as no surprise that an increasing number of studies are being published on how we coped with COVID-19 and what we can learn if we face another pandemic. One way to do this is to compare how states perform during COVID-19 on a number of important metrics.

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A recent study was written by three economists and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The NBER is not a national agency. It is a non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1920. It is one of the most prestigious economic “think tanks” in the country. So when the NBER publishes a study, I pay attention.

While there have been numerous federal government policies, programs, and funding to combat the pandemic, our federal system has enabled all 50 states and Washington, D.C.. customize some of their own policies, including masking, closures, school operations, and vaccine availability. Therefore, there were 51 different localities (50 states plus Washington, DC) that the authors had to compare for their results in the fight against COVID-19.

The authors focused on three categories of outcomes: economy, education, and deaths. For the economy, the authors used two measures: the total number of months of unemployment per worker in the state from April 2020 at the start of the pandemic through the end of 2021, and the depth of the recession caused by the pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic on education was measured by the percentage of public education in each state that took place in person at schools rather than remotely. This measure was used because many experts and parents argued that remote learning for children during COVID-19 was not as beneficial to students’ academic outcomes as in-person learning.

For deaths, the per capita death rate over the past two COVID-19 years was used, but only after adjusting the figures for age and health factors, such as the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in the state.

So what did the study find, specifically for North Carolina? On both economic measures, North Carolina ranked 17and on measuring unemployment and 19and for the depth of the COVID-19 recession, where higher ranking means better performance. Translated, the results mean that among the 51 states plus Washington, D.C..North Carolina had the 17and the lowest total number of months of unemployment per worker and the 19and mildest COVID-19 recession. Montana had the best unemployment performance and South Dakota had the least severe recession. At the other end of the spectrum, New Jersey had the worst unemployment performance and Connecticut had the deepest recession.

North Carolina’s ranking on in-person student teaching was not as impressive. State ranked 34and, meaning 33 other states had a higher percentage of students receiving in-person instruction during the pandemic. Wyoming had the highest percentage of in-person instruction, while Washington, DC had the lowest percentage.

North Carolina’s highest ranking was in age- and health-adjusted COVID-19 deaths per capita, where the state ranked 7and, meaning only six states had lower adjusted COVID-19 deaths per capita. The best performing state for deaths was Hawaii, while the worst performing state was Arizona.

The authors also combined the individual rankings for each measure into a single overall ranking. North Carolina’s overall ranking was 13andmeaning the state had the 13and best performance during the pandemic among the fifty states and Washington, DC using all measures developed by the authors. Utah placed first in the combined standings and New Jersey came in last.

With 51 locations, North Carolina’s 13th place ranking puts the state in the top 25%. Among North Carolina’s immediate neighbors, only South Carolina ranked 12th. Georgia placed 19th.andTennessee was at 24and position and Virginie placed 36and.

As the economy progresses, ranking state performance during the pandemic can become very important. Rankings could become a major factor in business and household location decisions. It will take years, if not decades, for the memories of the COVID-19 pandemic to fade. Households and businesses will be motivated to move to states that have weathered the pandemic well compared to other states. The study published by the NBER strongly suggests that North Carolina is in the “coping well” category.

Economists agree that the future economy will go through major changes in what businesses do, how people work, and how and where people live. Being in a state that has handled the pandemic better than most other states should give that state an edge in dealing with these changes. Is North Carolina such a state? You decide.

Dr. Mike Walden is William Neal Reynolds Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University.

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How have states handled the COVID-19 crisis? New analysis shows Utah, Nebraska and Vermont were the best with Montana and Florida close behind

April 30, 2022

Montana Economy

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The Committee To Unleash Prosperity (CUP) has released the most comprehensive analysis to date on how states have handled the COVID-19 crisis. These results were also published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Picture/CUP

The State Report Card measures and compares state performance on three metrics: economy, education, and virus mortality. It answers the question: how have states managed to balance the health of their citizens, keep their economies functioning and limit job losses, and keep their schools open so that the children of school age do not suffer long-term educational setbacks.

Each of these three measures was weighted equally. The states that received an F grade were New Jersey, New York, California, Illinois and Washington, DC. These states scored poorly on every measure. They had high age-adjusted mortality rates; they had high unemployment and large GDP losses, and they kept their schools closed much longer than almost any other state.

The top performers were Utah, Nebraska and Vermont with Montana and Florida close behind.

The study verifies other studies that found the lockdown of businesses, stores, churches, schools and restaurants had almost no impact on health outcomes in any state. States with strict lockdowns performed almost no better on Covid death rates than states that remained mostly open for business.

The study also found that keeping schools closed had almost no impact on child or adult death rates, but had serious implications for students’ academic progress.

Learn more about CUP

You can read the full study here: https://committeetounleashprosperity.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Which-States-Handled-the-Covid-Pandemic-Best.pdf

A political record in Sri Lanka as the economic crisis deepens

April 28, 2022

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sherry Fonseka joined millions in 2019 to elect President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a military strategist whose brutal campaign helped end Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war 10 years earlier.

Now he is among thousands of people who for weeks have protested outside the president’s office, calling on Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda, who is prime minister, to step down for leading the country into its worst economic crisis since his independence from Great Britain in 1948. .

With the island on the verge of bankruptcy, Fonseka, who owns a small garment business in the capital, Colombo, has had to spend her own savings to pay the salaries of her 30 employees. But he knows he will have to let them go soon and knows clearly who is to blame.

“We all thought we made the right decision (to elect Rajapaksa), but we realized we were wrong. We should have the backbone to tell people and the world that we made a mistake,” he said. he declared.

In recent weeks, protests have erupted across the country demanding that Rajapaksa step down.

The protests highlight the dramatic fall of the Rajapaksas from Sri Lanka’s most powerful political dynasty in decades to a family seeking to retain power. Despite accusations of atrocities during the civil war, Gotabaya and Mahinda, who previously served as president, remained the heroes of much of the island’s Buddhist-Sinhalese majority and were firmly entrenched at the pinnacle of Sri Lankan politics. Lankan before the revolt of former supporters like Fonseka.

“The pendulum has swung from ‘it’s all about the Rajapaksas, it’s the people who saved this country’ to ‘it’s because of the Rajapaksas that the country is now ruined,'” said Harsha de Silva, economist and MP of the opposition. .

Rare admission of errors

The collapse of the Sri Lankan economy was rapid and painful. Imports of everything from milk to fuel have plummeted, leading to severe food shortages and power cuts. People were forced to queue for hours every day to buy basic necessities. Doctors have warned of a crippling shortage of lifesaving drugs in hospitals, and the government has suspended payments on $7 billion in foreign debts due this year alone.

“The Rajapaksas, like an octopus, have clung to every aspect of public life in Sri Lanka,” de Silva said. “They ruled it like it was their kingdom. They wanted it and they did it – it was like that and the people were with them.”

President Rajapaksa has defended his government, partly blaming the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. “This crisis was not created by me,” he said in a speech last month, adding that his government was working hard on solutions. They include the approach of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to get help, after repeated calls for it.

But as protesters seethe, the president and prime minister have changed tact in recent weeks. They have admitted mistakes they have made which have exacerbated the crisis, such as the introduction of a short-lived ban last year on the import of chemical fertilizers which has seriously harmed farmers and the admission that they should have requested a bailout sooner.

Influential Buddhist monks have urged Rajapaksa to form an interim government under a new prime minister, signaling a further decline in the family’s image as protectors of the country’s 70% Buddhist-Sinhalese majority. Some observers say it is too early to gauge how much support for the Rajapaksas has dropped among their hardcore base, but for many their response has been too weak and too late.

“The government now recognizes several missteps, but this one comes at a huge cost to the people,” said Bhavani Fonseka, senior fellow at the Colombo-based Center for Policy Alternatives.

Tax cuts spur credit downgrades

The Rajapaksas were a powerful landowning family who for decades dominated local elections in their rural southern district, before taking the helm of national politics in 2005 when Mahinda was elected president. He remained in power until 2015, overseeing the end of the civil war against Tamil rebels in 2009, before losing to opposition led by his former aide.

The suicide bombings that killed 290 people on Easter Sunday in 2019 paved the way for the return of the Rajapaksas, this time as Gotabaya launched an acute nationalist campaign that sparked outrage and disillusionment with the previous government over the attacks.

He vowed to return to the tough nationalism that had made his family popular with the Buddhist majority, and also to lift the country out of an economic slump with a message of stability and development.

Tourism had fallen sharply after the bombings and Sri Lanka badly needed to boost its revenue to service a series of foreign loans for splashy infrastructure projects. Some involved Chinese money and were commissioned during his brother’s presidency, but failed to create profits, instead collecting debts.

Just days into his presidency, Rajapaksa imposed the biggest tax cuts in Sri Lanka’s history to boost spending, even as critics warned it would squeeze government finances. According to Nishan de Mel, executive director of Verité Research, Sri Lanka’s tax base has fallen by 30%.

“When you do something like that, you have some sort of internal analysis or document that shows why those cuts might help the economy. There was nothing like that,” de Mel said.

The move triggered an immediate sanction from the global market as creditors downgraded Sri Lanka’s ratings, preventing it from borrowing more money as its foreign exchange reserves continued to dwindle. Then the coronavirus hit, further crushing tourism as debt snowballed.

The middle class takes to the streets to demonstrate

Analysts say the Rajapaksas’ response to economic challenges has underscored the limits of their strongman politics and their family’s virtual monopoly on decision-making, relying heavily on the military to enforce policy and enact laws to weaken independent institutions.

Three other members of the Rajapaksa family were in Cabinet until early April, when the Cabinet resigned en masse in response to protests.

“Their whole political ideology and credibility is in serious crisis,” said Jayadeva Uyangoda, a seasoned political scientist.

But many fear that things will only get worse before they get better. A divided and weak opposition without a majority in parliament kept the Rajapaksas in power. An IMF bailout could see austerity measures intensify hardship for people before there is relief.

Meanwhile, the focus remains on protests, which attract people of all ethnicities, religions and social classes. For the first time, middle-class Sri Lankans took to the streets in large numbers, Uyangoda said.

Among them, Wijaya Nanda Chandradewa, who joined the crowd outside the president’s office on Saturday. A retired government worker, Chandradewa said he succumbed to Rajapaksa’s promise to rebuild a Sri Lanka scarred by the 2019 attacks.

“He said there would be a country and a law – now there is neither the law nor the country,” Chandradewa said, adding that the only option now is for Rajapaksa to step down.

“He showed us a fairyland and deceived and misled us,” he said. “We have to fix our mistakes and build a system to bring in the right leader.”

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Asian stocks rise on the back of Wall Street rally | national news

April 26, 2022

Montana Economy

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Asian stocks were mostly higher on Tuesday after U.S. stocks turned from steep losses to post solid gains.

Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced while Sydney fell.

Shanghai retreated on renewed concerns over pandemic shutdowns that could further weigh on the world’s second-largest economy and hamper global economic growth.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9% to 2902.46, giving up early gains. On Monday, it fell 5.1%.

China’s capital, Beijing, has started mass testing of more than 3 million people and restricted residents of part of the city to their compounds, raising concerns about a wider lockdown similar to Shanghai. This city has been closed for more than two weeks and this has already prompted the International Monetary Fund to revise downwards its growth forecasts for the Chinese economy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which lost 3.7% on Monday, was trading up 0.7% at 20,000.69.

The Kospi in Seoul gained 0.5% to 2,669.41 after the government announced that South Korea’s economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1% in the first quarter of the year, up from 0.7% compared to the previous quarter.

Economy rebounds from pandemic woes as government lifts COVID restrictions as case numbers dwindle after surge of omicron variant.

“This should lead to a rebound in downtrodden parts of the service sector. And a further decline in precautionary savings should provide an additional boost to consumption,” Alex Holmes of Capital Economics said in a commentary. “With private consumption still well below pre-pandemic levels, it there’s plenty of room for a rebound,” he said.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to 26,700.11 and India’s Sensex gained 1.2% to 57,254.49.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.9% to 7,331.30.

WE. Benchmark oil gained 92 cents to $99.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $3.53 to $98.54 on Monday.

Brent crude, the standard for international oil pricing, gained 1.23 cents to $103.39 a barrel.

The dollar slipped to 127.89 Japanese yen from 128.14 yen on Monday night. The euro fell from $1.0713 to $1.0727.

On Monday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.6% to 4,296.12 after erasing an early 1.7% loss. The rally was led by shares of internet-related companies, including Twitter, which jumped 5.7% after agreeing to let Tesla CEO and tweeter extraordinaire Elon Musk buy it.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.7% to 34,049.46, while the Nasdaq composite rose 1.3% to 13,004.85.

The S&P 500 is coming off a three-week losing streak, plagued by concerns over the Federal Reserve’s plans to accelerate interest rate hikes to rein in high inflation.

Gains in several large tech-related stocks were the strongest forces to lift the S&P 500 on Monday, including a 2.4% gain for Microsoft and a 2.9% rise for Class A shares of the Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Both are expected to release their latest quarterly results on Tuesday.

Wall Street is in the midst of one of the most important periods of earnings season. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and parent company Google are all on deck to report this week. As they are among the largest companies by market value, their movements have the most influence on the S&P 500.

Concerns are also high about a sharp slowdown in the US economy or even a recession due to the large interest rate hikes the Fed is expected to impose.

Besides their bottom line, investors are also looking for a better view of how big companies in technology, manufacturing and retail are handling rising inflation and supply chain issues. .

Inflation remains a major concern for investors. Investors are worried about whether the Fed will be able to raise rates enough to stifle inflation, but not enough to cause a recession. The Federal Reserve Chairman indicated that the central bank may raise short-term interest rates to double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. The Fed has already raised its overnight rate once, the first such hike since 2018.

Wall Street will also receive key economic data this week. The Conference Board will release its consumer confidence measure for April on Tuesday. The Commerce Department will release its first-quarter gross domestic product report on Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Bitcoin miners go green

April 24, 2022

Montana Economy

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HELEN, Mont. – Over the past year, a company that “mines” cryptocurrency had what seemed like the perfect place for its thousands of power-thirsty computers working around the clock to verify bitcoin transactions: the lands of a coal-fired power plant in rural Montana.

But with the cryptocurrency industry under increasing pressure to limit the environmental impact of its massive electricity consumption, Marathon Digital Holdings made the decision to pack up its computers, called miners, and move them to a wind farm in Texas.

“For us, it comes down to the fact that we don’t want to run on fossil fuels,” said company CEO Fred Thiel.

In the world of bitcoin mining, access to cheap and reliable electricity is paramount. But many economists and environmentalists have warned that as the still largely misunderstood digital currency rises in price – and with it in popularity – the mining process that is central to its existence and value is becoming increasingly more energy-intensive and potentially unsustainable.

Bitcoin was created in 2009 as a new way to pay for things that would not be subject to central bank or government oversight. Although it has yet to widely catch on as a payment method, it has seen its popularity increase in speculative investing despite volatility that can swing its price wildly. In March 2020, one bitcoin was worth just over $5,000. This hit a record high of over $67,000 in November before dropping to just over $35,000 in January.

The core bitcoin technology is the process by which transactions are verified and then recorded on what is called the blockchain. Computers connected to the bitcoin network race to solve complex mathematical calculations that verify transactions, with the winner earning newly minted bitcoins as a reward. Currently, when a machine solves the puzzle, its owner is rewarded with 6.25 bitcoins, with a total value of around $260,000. The system is calibrated to release 6.25 bitcoins every 10 minutes.

When bitcoin was first invented, the puzzles could be solved using an ordinary personal computer, but the technology was designed so that the problems became harder to solve as more and more more miners work there. These mining operations today use specialized machines that have no monitors and look more like a high-tech fan than a traditional computer. The amount of energy used by computers to solve puzzles increases as more computers join in the effort and the puzzles become more difficult.

Marathon Digital, for example, currently has around 37,000 miners, but hopes to have 199,000 online by early next year, the company said.

It is difficult to determine the amount of energy used by the industry because not all mining companies report their use and some operations are mobile, moving storage containers full of miners across the country in search of energy. Low cost.

The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index estimates that bitcoin mining has used about 109 terawatt hours of electricity over the past year, nearly the amount used in Virginia in 2020, according to US Energy. Information Center. The current usage rate would be 143 terawatt hours over a full year, about the amount used by Ohio or New York State in 2020.

The Cambridge estimate does not include the energy used to mine other cryptocurrencies.

A key moment in the debate over bitcoin’s power consumption came last spring, when just weeks after Tesla Motors said it was buying $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and would also accept digital currency as a medium. payment for electric vehicles, CEO Elon Musk joined critics in calling out the industry’s energy use and said the company would no longer take payment.

Some want the government to intervene with regulation.

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul is under pressure to declare a moratorium on the proof-of-work mining method — the one bitcoin uses — and to deny an air quality permit for a power plant project. modernized coal-fired electric that runs on natural gas.

A New York state judge recently ruled that the project would not affect the air or water of nearby Seneca Lake.

“Refueling or expanding coal and gas plants to make play money in the midst of a climate crisis is literally insane,” Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Seneca Lake Guardians, said in a statement.

Anne Hedges of the Montana Environmental Information Center said that before Marathon Digital arrived, environmental groups expected the coal-fired power plant in Hardin, Montana to shut down.

“It was a death watch,” Hedges said. “We received their quarterly reports. We were looking at how well they worked. We saw it continue to decline year after year – and last year that totally changed. It would have disappeared without the bitcoin. The cryptocurrency industry “needs to find a way to reduce its energy demand” and needs to be regulated, Hedges said. “That’s all there is to it. It’s unsustainable.” Some say the solution is to switch from proof-of-work verification to proof-of-stake verification, which is already used by some cryptocurrency companies. currencies. With proof-of-stake, the verification of digital currency transfers is left to computers, rather than having them compete. Individuals or groups who bet more on their cryptocurrency are more likely to get the job – and the reward.

Although the method uses much less electricity, some critics claim that proof-of-stake blockchains are less secure.

Some companies in the industry recognize that there is a problem and commit to achieving net zero emissions – without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – from the electricity they use by 2030 by signing a crypto climate accord, modeled after the Paris climate accord.

“All crypto communities should work together, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that crypto does not further aggravate global warming, but instead becomes a net positive contributor to the vital transition to a low-carbon global economy” , states the agreement.

Marathon Digital is one of many companies pinning their hopes on harnessing excess renewable energy from solar and wind farms in Texas. Earlier this month, Block-stream Mining and Block, formerly Square, announced they were opening a small off-grid mining facility in Texas using solar panels and Tesla batteries.

“This is a step to prove our thesis that bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission power infrastructure,” said Adam Back, CEO and co-founder of Blockstream.

Companies say cryptocurrency mining can provide an economic incentive to build more renewable energy projects and help stabilize power grids. Miners give renewable energy producers a guaranteed customer, making it easier to get financing for projects and produce electricity at full capacity.

Mining companies are able to contract for cheaper power because “all the power they use can be shut off and returned to the grid at any time,” Thiel said.

In Pennsylvania, Stronghold Digital is cleaning up hundreds of years of coal waste by burning it to create what the state classifies as renewable energy that can be sent to the grid or used in bitcoin mining, depending on demand. of electricity.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is a partner in the work, which is using relatively new technology to burn coal waste more efficiently and with fewer emissions. Left alone, piles of coal waste can ignite and burn for years, releasing greenhouse gases. When wet, waste coal releases acid into local waterways.

After using the waste coal to generate electricity, what remains is “non-toxic fly ash,” which is state-registered as clean fertilizer, said Stronghold Digital spokeswoman Naomi Harrington. .

As Marathon Digital gradually moves its 30,000 miners out of Montana, it leaves behind tens of millions of dollars in mining infrastructure.

Just because M a – thon no longer wants to use coal power doesn’t mean there won’t be another bitcoin miner to replace it. Thiel said he assumed power plant owners would find a company to do just that.

“No reason not to,” he said.

When bitcoin was first invented, the puzzles could be solved using an ordinary personal computer, but the technology was designed so that the problems became harder to solve as more and more more miners work there.

‘Mistake’ to limit opening hours at border ports as economy suffers

April 22, 2022

Montana Economy

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HELENA — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) says he may not have the medical skills, but sees the continued economic impact along the border of the pandemic restrictions.

He is once again calling for U.S. border crossings to resume full service. Tester has been pushing for a return to normal border operations over the past year, citing diminishing COVID-19 concerns that forced the United States and Canada to restrict crossings in 2020.

As traffic resumed with an ever-changing list of requirements, U.S. border crossings continue to limit hours of operation, which Tester said is hard to fathom.

“I’m a land farmer. I’m not a doctor, but I’ll tell you, for people who’ve been vaccinated, it doesn’t make a difference,” Tester said. “And for those who haven’t been, go out and get vaccinated and open the border.”

Noting that Montana had nearly $700 million in Canadian exports in 2018, Tester says full reopening is essential for agriculture and tourism.

“All of these things have impacts. They have economic impacts. They have impacts,” Tester said. “Be able for businesses to succeed. And I just think if we really want to get the economy back on track, and it’s going pretty well right now, but making sure those ports are open is really important. “

It is important for individuals as well. Eureka’s Brandy Carvey sent us photos of her family trying to enjoy an Easter Sunday gathering at Lake Koocanusa, roasting hot dogs through the barbed wire fence. The tester says reopening would help ease the ongoing financial and emotional pinch for residents living “across the border”.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, especially if you want to do certain things to try to influence inflation,” Tester said. “Because the supply chain is a major cause of the inflation we are currently experiencing.”

There have been past fights with Customs and Border Patrol over cutting operations at some of the remote border crossings. The tester says he’s not concerned about this, but he offered a warning.

“If you want to talk about closing ports or permanently reducing hours, let’s have this debate. We’ve had this before. We’ve won. And we’ll have it again, and we’ll win again.” the tester. “But the main thing is to close the ports to keep the hours down because the pandemic, I think, is a mistake.”

Tester also opposes efforts to lift the immigration provisions of “Title 42” without having a better staffing and security plan along the northern border.

Public education is a national birthright

April 21, 2022

Montana Economy

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Located directly between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, Montana residents are proud to recognize our land of natural splendor as the “last best place” in the country.

Our pride is justified, even if it is not of our making. One idea, however, which is a creation of the human mind and which is of incalculable importance, is our historically unique system of public education.

Early in our development as a free people, Thomas Jefferson observed that freedom and self-governance depended on an educated and free-thinking society.

In keeping with Jefferson’s vision, Congress has repeatedly renewed national support for public education. Examples are the Land Grant Act which provided significant support to Montana State University as well as the University of Montana and Montana Tech; the Enabling Act which established Montana’s statehood and, in doing so, struck down Sections 16 and 36 of each township within state boundaries for the support of common schools; and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which since 1965 has provided broad federal support for public education in all states. In Montana, a coordinated system to provide a base of support for all Montana public schools has been in effect for three-quarters of a century.

Undoubtedly, there has been a firm and ongoing recognition both in our nation and in our state that education is a human right. In no other part of the world has such a commitment been made.

Free, public education was one of the main reasons why millions of European immigrants fled a hopeless existence of ignorance and poverty in the old world to seek opportunities in the new world. The key to opportunity here was public education. The booming American economy of the 1800s had an overwhelming need for literate workers. Those who could cipher and read the language were much more productive than those who could not. They would soon become not only the backbone of the American labor force, but also the creators of countless private enterprises that resulted in perpetual job creation, and thus a continuous cycle of opportunity and prosperity.

This land of the American dream could not have existed without the universal opportunity for education. Most of the old world elite hated the concept of public education. Prosperity there was reserved for the heirs of wealth and power. The privileged classes alone enjoyed the possibility of learning. If the masses were educated, they feared, the resulting questioning spirits within the working class would pose a direct threat to the perpetual domination of the ruling class.

As an alternative to the competition for the wealth and power that an educated workforce would inevitably create, the European nobility decided to create a welfare state, the prototype of which took place under the leadership of the German “Iron Chancellor”. Otto Von Bismarck. By providing for basic human needs at state expense, Bismarck concluded that the masses would have little reason to overthrow the existing system as they had done in Europe since the guillotine days of the French Revolution.

The concept of public welfare has been adopted to some extent in much of the rest of Europe. It is no accident of history that systems of public education producing social ascent only appeared there after the upheaval of the two world wars.

Although we have our inequalities and “the American way” remains a work in progress, Americans retain our autonomous freedom to adapt and reform. We have a high standard of living and a “social safety net”. Our productivity generates tax revenue, which makes our public services possible. The foundation of it all – universal public education – has made creating and sharing the American Dream a tangible reality for those fortunate enough to live here.

Particularly isolated from a less fortunate world, we Montananese have more than most humans to be grateful for. Our happy circumstances are due in large part to our continued commitment to public education. On May 5, we will have the opportunity as free people to renew our commitment to our time-tested educational birthright once again by supporting our public schools.

Bob Brown is a former Montana Secretary of State and President of the State Senate. He lives in Whitefish.

Live Updates | Russians strike 8 Ukrainian cities and hit a depot | national news

April 16, 2022

Montana Economy

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KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces shelled an oil refinery in the Ukrainian city of Lysychansk on Saturday and a major fire broke out, a regional governor reported.

Lugansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said it was not the first time the refinery had been targeted and accused the Russians of trying to “exhaust” local emergency services. He pointed out that there was no fuel at the refinery at the time of the attack and that “remnants of oil sludge” were burning.

Ukraine’s presidential office reported on Saturday that missile strikes and shelling in the past 24 hours have occurred in eight regions: Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv in the east, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava and Kirovohrad in central Ukraine and Mykolaiv and Kherson to the south. The strikes underscored that the whole country remained under threat despite Russia’s pivot to mount a new offensive in the east.

In Kharkiv, nine civilians were killed and more than 50 were injured on Friday, while in the wider region two were killed and three injured, the report said.

The southern Mykolaiv region was beaten on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s airstrikes left five people dead and 15 injured, according to the presidential office. The president of the regional legislature, Hanna Zamazeyeva, said on Saturday that 39 people had been injured in the past 24 hours.

Zamazeyeva said the targets included several residential blocks “where there are no military installations”.

The besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol still holds, but the situation there is critical.

———

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

— War in Ukraine far from over as Russia renews strikes in kyiv

— “We pray for you”: Ukrainian Jews celebrate Passover, if they can

— The Ukrainian port of Mariupol resists against all odds

— War Crimes Watch: The Woman Who Would Make Putin Pay

– The pain of a Ukrainian mother watching her daughter’s funeral on the phone

— Go to https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine for more coverage

———

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

————

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a televised address on Saturday that 700 Ukrainian soldiers and more than 1,000 civilians – more than half of them women – are currently being held captive by the Russians.

Vereshchuk said kyiv intends to swap the captive soldiers, since Ukraine holds roughly the same number of Russian soldiers but demands the release of the civilians “without any conditions”.

————

ROME — Italy is banning all Russian vessels from its ports from Sunday, as part of expanded EU sanctions announced earlier this month. Ships already in Italian ports must leave immediately “after completing their commercial activity”, according to a notice sent to port authorities across the country.

————

BERLIN — Peace activists took part in Germany’s traditional Easter marches on Saturday, calling for an end to the war in Ukraine but also, in at least some cases, opposing helping Ukraine defend itself with weapons .

An event in Berlin drew 400 people and one in Hanover 500, the dpa news agency reported, citing police. Marches took place in cities such as Munich, Cologne, Leipzig, Stuttgart and Duisburg. The banners included “End the war in Ukraine” and “Whoever sends arms reaps war”.

The country’s Vice Chancellor, Green politician Robert Habeck, warned protesters against sending the wrong message, saying “there will be peace only when Putin stops his war of aggression”. He said in an interview with the Funke media group that it was “clear who the aggressor is and who defends himself in an emergency and who we must support, also with weapons”.

Ukrainian officials said Germany had sent anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons as well as night vision equipment, body armor and machine guns.

Locally organized peace marches date back to the Cold War era and focus on issues such as disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

————

KYIV, Ukraine – Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person died and several others were injured in Saturday morning airstrikes on the capital’s Darnytsky district as Russian forces resumed scattered attacks on the capital in the west of Ukraine.

“Our air defense forces are doing everything they can to protect us, but the enemy is insidious and ruthless,” Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.

The attacks, which the Russian Defense Ministry said targeted an armored vehicle factory in the Ukrainian capital, were a searing reminder to Ukrainians and their Western supporters that the whole country remains under threat despite pivoting Russian forces towards the east, where a new offensive is to be feared. .

Klitschko urged Ukrainians not to return to Kyiv just yet in televised remarks on Saturday, warning that strikes on the capital were likely to continue and its suburbs were packed with explosives. “We do not rule out further strikes on the capital,” Klitschko said. “We cannot prohibit, we can only recommend. If you have the opportunity to stay a little longer in the cities where it is safer, do so.

The mayor of Kyiv added that because of the mines, Kyiv residents are not allowed to visit the parks and forests of the northeastern regions that border the liberated territories once occupied by the Russians.

————

MOSCOW — Russia has banned the British Prime Minister and a dozen other senior British officials from entering the country in response to British sanctions imposed on Russia for its military operation in Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the decision on Saturday targeting Boris Johnson, a number of British ministers and former Prime Minister Theresa May.

The ministry statement cited “unprecedented hostile actions by the British government, expressed, in particular, in the imposition of sanctions against senior officials” in Russia.

“The Russophobic course of the British authorities, the main objective of which is to stir up a negative attitude towards our country, the reduction of bilateral relations in almost all areas is detrimental to the well-being and interests of British residents. Any attack on sanctions will inevitably backfire on their initiators and receive a decisive rebuff,” the statement said.

On Friday evening, the ministry announced the expulsion of 18 European Union diplomats from Moscow, in retaliation for the bloc’s declaration of 19 diplomats from the Russian mission to the EU and the European Energy Community. atomic persona non grata.

The European Union said the expulsions were groundless and that the EU diplomats targeted were working within the framework of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

———

KYIV, Ukraine – Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in an online post that Kyiv was struck early on Saturday in Darnytskyi district in the eastern part of the capital, saying there were “explosions “.

He said rescuers and paramedics were on the scene and details of the victims would be released later.

Klitschko urged residents to heed air raid sirens and warned those who fled the capital not to return just yet for their safety.

Thick smoke rising from the site on the east side of Kyiv could be seen from parts of the city center near the Dnipro River.

———

WASHINGTON — Ukraine is sending top officials to Washington for next week’s spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, where discussions will focus on the Russian invasion and its impact on the global economy.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko will attend the rally, according to a World Bank official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the visit had not not officially announced.

———

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday that existing sanctions against Russia were “painful” but not yet enough to stop the Russian military.

Zelenskyy called on “the democratic world” to ban Russian oil. As US lawmakers and US President Joe Biden have enacted such a ban, Europe is becoming more dependent on Russian energy supplies and the US is working to prevent India from ramping up its use of Russian energy.

“In general, the democratic world has to accept that Russia’s money for energy resources is actually money for the destruction of democracy,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to his nation.

He also said: “The sooner the democratic world recognizes that the oil embargo against Russia and the complete blockade of its banking sector are necessary steps towards peace, the sooner the war will end.”

———

TIJUANA, Mexico – A Russian man and a Ukrainian woman have married in the Mexican border town of Tijuana after being unable to travel to the United States together

Daria Sakhniuk was allowed to enter the United States as a Ukrainian refugee, but her partner, Semen Bobrovsky, was unable to travel there after Russia invaded Ukraine. They left Ukraine at the start of the war.

Bobrovski told El Sol de Tijuana that he thinks Thursday’s wedding will boost his chances of entering the United States with his new wife. The United States only allows Russian nationals with family members in the United States to enter the country.

“Without it, we cannot cross because, again for the official US government, we are strangers to each other,” he said.

———

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he discussed the fate of the beleaguered port city of Mariupol during a meeting on Friday with the country’s military chiefs and heads of its intelligence agencies.

“Details cannot be made public now, but we are doing everything we can to save our people,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.

Elsewhere in southern Ukraine, he said Russian troops occupying areas around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were terrorizing civilians and searching for anyone who had served in the army or government.

“The occupiers believe this will make it easier for them to control this territory. But they are very wrong. They are wrong,” Zelenskyy said.

He added: “The problem with the occupiers is not that they are not accepted by certain activists, veterans or journalists. Russia’s problem is that it is not accepted – and never will be accepted – by all Ukrainian people. Russia has lost Ukraine forever.

Native American economy drives rural communities : NPR

April 13, 2022

Montana Economy

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Very well. We will now take a moment to review the state of the Native American economy. A new series airing on the Indian Country Today website has revealed that tribal businesses and governments are often the biggest economic contributors to their regions, and this is especially true in rural areas. From health care to green energy, the profile of the Indigenous economy goes far beyond casinos and fossil fuels. Mark Trahant writes for Indian Country Today and joins us now. Welcome.

MARC TRAHANT: Thank you. Glad to be here.

CHANG: Glad to have you. So, you said, for a fun scroll, readers should check out Google Tribes and Largest Employer. Can you just tell us – what would we find if we actually typed this into Google?

TRAHANT: Well, there are over 500 tribes in many parts of the country. If you typed in Google – choose a tribe and choose the largest employer, it would show up. If it wasn’t the first, it would be the second or third. Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Northwest Montana, Oneida Nation in Oneida and Madison Counties in Wisconsin, Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Osage Tribe of Oklahoma. Really, you could look at the list. Even in Southern California, where you have major casino operations in those areas, the tribes are sometimes the biggest employer.

CHANG: It’s so interesting. And can you explain how, for example, a healthy tribal economy can significantly affect neighboring communities?

TRAHANT: Well, I think the first path is employment. It just creates jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago. And one of the things that we saw during the pandemic that was really interesting was that a lot of the big tribal employers tried to keep people as long as possible. Not everyone, of course, but in many cases they tried to keep people working even when casino operations were shut down, and I think that was really remarkable.

CHANG: Well, finally, what size are we talking about? Like, how big is the tribal economy if you were to look across all the tribes in the continental United States?

TRAHANT: That’s a really tough question, but I think by the measure on the back of the envelope, we’re looking at at least $80 billion. And to give you an example of how that fits in, Vermont is about $37 billion.

CHANG: Wow. Okay, so more than double Vermont’s GDP.

TRAHANT: That’s true.

CHANG: Wow. So can you talk about some of the new industries that are driving some of the growth of tribal economies – like, I mentioned healthcare and green energy. Tell us more about it.

TRAHANT: Well, health care is a great example because so many people think of the Indian Health Service as a federal government operation. And it continues to exist, but 60% of the system is now managed by tribes or associations, and these are the ones that have been particularly innovative. In Alaska, for example, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Native Medical Center are extraordinarily innovative. They do everything from dental health therapy, which is a mid-level practice in the village, to telemedicine and have found new ways to provide health care at a significantly lower cost than other institutions.

CHANG: Finally, I want to talk about a phrase you use. You describe the tribal economy as a “stealth economy”. What did you mean by that? For example, do you think that at the federal level, the numbers inside this economy are just not being tracked enough?

TRAHANT: Yeah. Well, I think in general we need to do a better job of tracking data on Indian country and its economic contributions. This year alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment, which is huge.

CHANG: You mean unemployment among the tribes?

TRAHANT: In tribal communities – on reservations, yes. And it’s extraordinary because you’ve seen stories in the media over the last 20 years of 50%, 80% unemployment on reservations. And it turns out that the actual measurement is around 37%, which is still approximate…

Chang: Yeah.

TRAHANT: …But it’s not at all close to what people report. So I think it’s really essential to have accurate and regular measurement to determine the impact of these savings. And when you think about it, tribes – like states – are in the Constitution. And as constitutional governments, having that record seems essential to me.

Chang: Absolutely.

It’s Mark Trahant, a reporter for Indian Country Today. Thank you very much for joining us today.

TRAHANT: Oh, that was fun.

(MUSIC SOUND EXTRACTION)

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Stocks fall on Wall Street, dragged down by the collapse of technology companies | national news

April 11, 2022

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Shares fell in morning trading on Wall Street on Monday as the market extends a losing streak from last week.

The S&P 500 fell 0.8% at 10:20 a.m. EST. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68 points, or 0.2%, to 34,654 and the Nasdaq fell 1.3%.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq just suffered their first weekly loss in four weeks.

Tech stocks fell sharply and were the largest weights in the market. Microsoft fell 3.7% and Apple 1.7%.

Energy stocks were among the biggest losers as they tracked lower oil prices. US crude oil prices fell 4.1% and Exxon Mobil fell 2.5%.

Oil prices remain volatile amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has put increased pressure on global energy supplies. World oil prices rose about 25% for the year, although they declined somewhat throughout April.

Industrialists and banks held up better than the rest of the market. Boeing rose 1.5% and Citigroup 2%.

Bond yields gained ground. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.76% from 2.71% on Friday night.

Twitter was the focus of concern after Tesla’s mercurial billionaire Elon Musk said he would ultimately not join the company’s board. The stock rose 0.6%. Musk recently became the company’s largest shareholder and is now free to increase his stake.

Investors continue to worry about rising interest rates, Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s efforts to contain coronavirus outbreaks. In China, automakers and other manufacturers are cutting production after authorities tightened restrictions to help stem coronavirus outbreaks in Shanghai and other cities.

Wall Street will receive several updates this week that may provide more clues as to how the broader economy has handled rising inflation.

The Labor Department will release its March consumer price report on Tuesday, while the Commerce Department will release its March retail sales report on Thursday. These reports have been closely watched as investors try to understand the impact of rising prices on consumer spending. Any significant slowdown in consumer spending would likely translate into a sharper-than-expected slowdown in economic growth this year.

The latest economic updates come as investors anticipate a more aggressive shift from the Federal Reserve as it tries to blunt the impact of rising inflation. The central bank has already announced an increase of a quarter of a percentage point in its key rate.

Fed officials said in the minutes of last month’s meeting that they plan to raise the U.S. benchmark rate to double the normal amount in future meetings. They also indicated that they would reduce Fed bond holdings, which would push up long-term borrowing rates.

Wall Street will also start getting more details on how individual companies performed in the first quarter and what they expect moving forward. Delta Air Lines and JPMorgan Chase will release their latest financial results on Wednesday, while UnitedHealth Group, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will release their results on Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Tech stocks lead indexes lower on Wall Street; eyes on the Fed | national news

April 6, 2022

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Stocks fell Wednesday morning on Wall Street and bond yields rose as investors try to gauge how quickly the Federal Reserve will withdraw support for the economy and shift to fighting inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 1.2% at 10:20 a.m. EST. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 247 points, or 0.7%, to 34,387 and the Nasdaq fell 2.3%.

Tech companies are taking some of the biggest losses, which has weighed heavily on the broader market. Apple fell 2% and Microsoft 2.7%.

Communications companies, retailers and others that rely on direct consumer spending also fell. Amazon fell 3.1% and Facebook parent company Meta fell 3.3%.

Bond yields rose sharply again. The 10-year Treasury yield jumped to 2.61% from 2.54%.

The latest action in stock and bond markets was sparked by comments from a Federal Reserve governor on Tuesday that fueled expectations of a more aggressive approach by the central bank to help bring soaring inflation under control. The Fed has already started to raise its benchmark interest rate and is expected to continue its hikes throughout the year.

Investors will be watching closely the minutes released later today from the Fed’s latest policy meeting for more clues on its next steps. Traders are pricing in a nearly 77% chance that the Fed will raise its key interest rate by half a percentage point at its next meeting in May. That’s double the usual amount and something the Fed hasn’t done since 2000.

Inflation is at its highest level in four decades and threatens to dampen economic growth. Rising prices for everything from food to clothes have raised fears that consumers may end up cutting back on spending. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to these concerns which are pushing energy and commodity prices, including wheat, even higher.

Crude oil prices were relatively flat on Wednesday, but are up about 35% for the year. This pushed gasoline prices higher, putting more stress on shipping costs, commodity prices and consumer wallets.

The conflict in Ukraine continued to cause financial pressures against Russia. The White House has said Western governments will ban further investment in Russia following evidence that its soldiers deliberately killed civilians in Ukraine. The US Treasury has said President Vladimir Putin’s government will be prevented from paying the dollar debts of US financial institutions, potentially increasing the risk of default.

European governments have resisted calls to boycott Russian gas, Putin’s main export source, because of the possible impact on their economies.

It’s been a pretty quiet day for corporate news so far, ahead of the latest round of corporate earnings. JetBlue Airways fell 7.3% after it offered to buy rival airline Spirit for $3.6 billion and scrap a plan to merge Spirit with Frontier Airlines. The spirit fell 3.1%.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Conservation groups call on the state of Montana to protect the Gallatin River

April 4, 2022

Montana Economy

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Algal blooms on the Gallatin signal the need for pollution control planning; impairment designation

UPPER MISSOURI WATER GUARDIAN, GALLATIN RIVER TASK FORCE

BOZEMAN – On March 31, Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Gallatin River Task Force, Montana Trout Unlimited, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and American Rivers filed a petition with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality requesting a Category Impaired Waterway designation. 5 of the middle segment of the Gallatin River under Section 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Act. Recurring harmful algal blooms on the Gallatin since 2018 indicate the river is impaired by excessive nutrient pollution, qualifying for a total maximum daily load limit to reduce discharges, helping to protect and restore the health of the river .

“The world-class Gallatin River is turning green due to excess nutrients resulting from booming development pressure, the cumulative impacts of poorly treated sewage and the effects of climate change, together creating a perfect storm for growth. benthic algae that’s altering the river,” said Guy Alsentzer, executive director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. “Fortunately, the State of Montana has the tools through the Clean Water Act to protect nutrient-impaired rivers, like the Gallatin. Everyone can agree that the Gallatin River is too integral to our region, to the county outdoor economy, water supply, animal husbandry, agriculture and aquatic life to be ignored.

Recurring neon-green benthic algae blooms – like those that crossed the Gallatin in 2018 and 2020 – degrade recreational experiences and negatively affect fish populations and aquatic communities by decreasing oxygen levels. Prolonged and widespread algal blooms can cause serious damage to the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the Gallatin River if left untreated.

“We have a responsibility to advocate for the health of the Gallatin River and to build stewardship of the river, as an organization and as a community. The Gallatin is a valuable resource that attracts locals and visitors alike. it’s key to our community,” says Kristin Gardner, executive director and scientific director of the Gallatin River Task Force. “Our science indicates that additional nitrogen pollution in the river will continue to facilitate algae growth, and reducing nitrogen pollution in the river is essential if we are to protect the Gallatin for future generations.”

This petition arose out of the DEQ’s decision to forgo Montana’s biennial Water Quality Report and List of Impaired Waters (known as the Integrated Report) where impaired streams like the Middle Gallatin would have been identified. The CWA generally requires DEQ to assess Montana’s water quality and prepare a list of bodies of water that do not meet water quality standards. Those water bodies that do not meet the criteria require a TMDL, a planning tool used to reduce pollution and improve water quality to meet standards necessary to protect health and designated uses of the waterway. . Lack of capacity at the DEQ has delayed the integrated report, so the petition is initiating the necessary TMDL process for the Gallatin Center’s known pollution issues.

“Montana DEQ has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars in 319 funding to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Gallatin River over the next few years,” said David Brooks, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited. “This investment in Gallatin’s water quality and aquatic resources, such as its famous trout fishery, as well as all other important uses of its water, must be supported by an honest and legally required assessment of degradation. A TMDL is a necessary basic tool that DEQ can provide to help solve nutrient-related algae problems that degrade this prized river.

Local businesses affected by the pollution, including Fins & Feathers of Bozeman, Montana Whitewater and Gallatin River Guides, are also supporting the petition. Melanie West, COO of Montana Whitewater, submitted a letter of representation which stated in part, “I am deeply concerned about the seasonal and widespread algal blooms in the mid-Gallatin segment. When I or my staff take clients on the river, they are here largely because of the Gallatin’s very pristine nature and the clear, cool water and excellent recreational opportunities. They’re looking for the “River Flows Through” landscape, and a neon green algae bloom isn’t a pristine experience.

Severe and pervasive algal blooms can degrade, if not destroy, a customer’s experience and their likelihood of returning to my business for another day on the river.

“It is high time that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality stood on the science and recognized that year after year algal blooms on the Gallatin River are a clear indication of a river segment altered that deserves immediate attention for the benefit of people, fish and wildlife,” said Greater Yellowstone Coalition Deputy Director of Conservation Charles Wolf Drimal Under DEQ rules and guidelines, a waterway may be classified as “deteriorated” when there is “overwhelming evidence of deterioration”. This criterion is satisfied by documentation of the growth of thread algae covering the entire river bottom, from bank to bank, and extending continuously downstream for a substantial longitudinal distance (>150m) Documented evidence of algal blooms of this severity and magnitude on the middle Gallatin River can be found here.

Young women earn more than young men in several US cities

April 2, 2022

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According to a new report, women have been able to close the pay gap with men in several US metropolitan areas and have surpassed their male counterparts in many cities.

The Pew Research Center analyzed Censes Bureau data and found that in 22 of 250 U.S. metropolitan areas, women under 30 earn the same or more than their male counterparts. New York and Washington, DC, are among the cities where young women earn more than young men, according to the study.

The report also found that earnings parity tends to be higher in the early years of entering the labor market. The pay gap tends to widen over time. In 2000, a typical woman between the ages of 16 and 29 earned 88% of a similar young man. But in 2019, when band members were between the ages of 35 and 48, women made up an average of just 80% of their male peers.

And while the gap may have been narrowed in many US cities, nationally there is still some way to go.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research says full-time working women in the United States are paid 83 cents on the dollar compared to men.

The disparity is even greater when comparing all women who worked in 2020 with all men who worked, regardless of the number of hours and weeks they clocked. In this case, women were typically only paid 77 cents on the dollar, the institute said.

Those most affected by the pay gap are women of color, who are disproportionately represented in minimum-wage and low-wage jobs. The institute said while the pay gap narrowed last year for all women compared to men, it widened for Asian, Black and Hispanic women.

Last year, the Biden administration created a Gender Policy Council within the White House aimed at promoting gender equality. The council includes a special assistant to the president who focuses specifically on “policies to advance equity for Black, Indigenous, and Latina women and girls of color,” according to council co-chair Jennifer Klein.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration said it was committed to ending the gender pay gap for federal workers and contractors, with the president issuing an executive order preventing federal agencies from asking questions about a candidate’s salary history in the process.

“Wage transparency creates responsibility and accountability, well, it drives progress,” Vice President Harris said of the order, adding that it will help “build a fairer, more efficient economy. and fairer”.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Low Unemployment in Nebraska: Workers Prosper, Businesses Pull Out

April 1, 2022

Montana Economy

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Harry’s Wonder Bar is a former trusty restaurant in Nebraska’s capital, frequented by office workers, construction workers and graduate students: the kind of wood-paneled place with a pool table in the back where phones typically stay in pockets, second fiddle to casual conversation, and beer mugs are frosted regardless of the season.

While half a dozen happy hour patrons gathered at the bar one recent afternoon, most had something remarkable in common: Everyone seemed to know someone who had gotten a significant raise, or more raises, over the past year – and many, if not all, had received a pay boost themselves.

This included the early-night shift bartender, Nikki Paulk, an easy-going woman with a flash of pink hair. “I’m in high demand, babe,” she said, mentioning “desperate” employers with a bright smile. “I’ve worked in six bars in the last six months because I keep getting better offers that I can’t refuse.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.1% in February, tied with Utah for the lowest in the country and near the lowest on record for any state. In several counties, unemployment is below 1%. Even accounting for adults who have left the workforce, Nebraska’s share of the population 16 and older is about 68%, the highest figure in the country.

After decades of stagnant wages and incomes, the shift of power between rulers and their workers appears, at least temporarily, to be tilting in the direction of labor, with employers competing for workers instead of the other way around. Unemployment in states such as Indiana, Kansas, Montana and Oklahoma is almost as low as in Nebraska, testing the potential benefits and costs of an economy with exceptionally tight labor markets.

Ms Paulk, 35, earned a college degree in graphic design during the Great Recession, when jobs were scarce. She remembers working 60 hours a week near minimum wage in Illinois, “being thrilled to find a quarter” who could do the laundry. In 2013, she moved to Nebraska and took a job entering medical data for $12 an hour.

She started serving as a bartender in 2018, and since then, she says, her overall salary has more than doubled to $25 (and sometimes $30) an hour, including tips.

The nationwide unemployment rate in February was 3.8%, nearly back to pre-pandemic levels that were the lowest in half a century. Nebraska’s particularly low unemployment rate is in part attributable to its above-average graduation rate and the dominant role of industries like manufacturing and agriculture that are less volatile than the service or energy sectors during downturns. Even at the height of the Covid-19 shutdowns in the spring of 2020, the state’s unemployment rate was 7.4%, half the national figure.

Yet Nebraska’s job market may also be a harbinger for the country as a whole. Most economists expect overall unemployment to continue falling this year. Job postings are near record highs, and unemployment rates in January were lower than a year earlier in 388 of 389 metropolitan areas assessed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many business analysts argue that if labor remains scarce, wages will rise too quickly and employers will continually pass this increased spending on to consumers. At least for now, evidence of such a spiral is sparse: Federal Reserve data shows that median annual wage increases are well within the range – 3% to 7% – that prevailed from the 1980s until to the recession of 2007-2009.

The Fed, still worried, started to raise interest rates to calm the economy and tame inflationary pressures. The supply chain challenges that arose during the pandemic have persisted, and the war in Ukraine is further complicating the outlook for inflation as well as overall economic growth. Consumer spending remains buoyant, but polls reflect gloomy public economic sentiment.

In the meantime, even as price hikes weigh on household budgets, burying the value of some new wage gains, a noticeable mass of employees and job seekers are gaining more weight when it comes to benefits. and terms.

At a virtual local economy summit hosted in February by the nonprofit group Leadership Lincoln, Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, argued that the labor market could just rebalance itself.

“Obviously it’s always better to be the employer than the worker, or at least it usually is,” he said. But the current environment makes it easier for some employees to change jobs or compete for higher-level positions. Local employers are dropping degree requirements for a range of mid-level and entry-level positions.

Many fast-food restaurants, which are struggling to staff locations near the state’s $9 minimum wage, have begun offering starting salaries of $14. Evidence of automation is just as rife as Help Wanted signs: Some pharmacies dotting major roads and highways appear to have more self-service payment kiosks than employees at any given time.

Mr Thompson said such measures were not necessarily bad news for the working class, but rather a reflection of the need for businesses to adapt while workers find jobs that can “maximize their skills and their potential”.

Tony Goins, a former senior vice president of JPMorgan Chase who was appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts in 2019 to serve as director of Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development, said the tight job market could prompt managers to become more flexible and innovative.

“At the end of the day, the market dictates that I have to pay employees more money,” said Mr. Goins, himself a small business owner with a cigar lounge in Lincoln. “So, I mean, how are you going to make up for that?” To stay competitive in hiring, he said, managers need to improve culture, leadership, employee retention and recruitment.

He spoke about his son, an assistant men’s basketball coach at Boston College — a position he says requires ongoing outreach as well as the dual promise of “the chance to play for a winning program” and personal development. “That’s not what CEOs are used to,” he said.

Companies aiming to grow began to offer incentives beyond compensation. Japanese company Kawasaki Motors is spending $200 million to expand the 2.4 million square foot site in North Lincoln where it manufactures jet skis, all-terrain vehicles and wagons. It increases its membership to 2,400 members from more than 500 employees, with jobs mainly in fabrication, welding and assembly.

The company is becoming more flexible in terms of hiring and working styles in order to be successful. “Before, it took a few weeks to get hired at Kawasaki,” said Bryan Seck, its chief talent management strategist at Lincoln. “Now it’s four o’clock.”

Knowing that many parents remain on the sidelines of the workforce due to childcare duties, Kawasaki recently created a 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift suitable for those who need to pick up children from school and daycare in the early afternoon. Starting pay is $18.10 an hour, Seck said, with benefits including health care and a 401(k) plan.

In addition to raising wages to retain employees, Todd Heyne, construction manager at Allo Communications, a Lincoln-based cable company, said management decided that easing in-person work requirements could expand the pool of available workers. This has led the company to allow many of its customer service representatives and technical support employees to train and work further as it prepares to expand beyond Nebraska and Colorado. .

Not all problem solving is easy. Added labor costs add to supply chain pressures that have increased the price of crucial materials like fiber optic cable by up to 30%. Suppliers often charge 20% more for their contracted tasks. As a result, the company took steps such as hiring its own trucking staff.

Ultimately, “combined with some automation efficiencies, our team will see dramatic pay increases with less grunt work,” Heyne said, reducing manual paperwork, centralizing back-end systems and doing more to resolve issues. remote customer network issues. So, despite the cost challenges, “I’ve never been more optimistic about where we are, where we are in the market, how we compete, and our technology,” he added. “Which is strange.”

For many, the desirability of this economic moment is tinged with concern. Among them is Ashlee Bridger, a 30-year-old student at Southeast Community College’s Lincoln campus who works in administration at nearby Huffman Engineering after being recruited at a job fair.

Ms. Bridger left her job as a nurse to pursue a career in human resources because she felt confident enough to bet on herself: “Of course it was a risk. Leaving any career is. But in today’s job market, she said, “I knew I would be able to progress more easily.”

She also had a series of life stages that fell into place. She will graduate with an associate degree in May and begin her undergraduate work in the fall at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Huffman officials told her she was welcome to continue working there when her schedule permitted and that they would like to hire her for a higher position after she finished her studies.

Last year, she got married in the summer, then moved in with her husband into a newly built house in Lincoln in August. Although they feel financially stable, she half-joked that they were lucky the house was mostly built before lumber prices skyrocketed. With prices up across the board now, “I’m being more careful about my spending,” she said.

Mrs. Paulk, the better paid Harry’s bartender, has friends and customers unhappy with recent inflation. “But it’s something we control anyway,” she said with a shrug.

“All I know,” she added, “is that now I’m not broke – it’s great. Life is good.”

Montana State Fund Announces Rate Cut and $40 Million Dividend | Local

March 30, 2022

Montana Economy

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Montana State Fund, the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurance company, recently announced an average rate reduction of 3% for its policyholders.

The decision was taken at the March 11 meeting of the MSF board of directors and is effective for new policies and renewals from July 1. This is the 16th consecutive year that MSF rates have remained stable or been reduced, agency officials said.

MSF Board Chairman Richard Miltenberger said in a press release that the board is committed to providing employers in Montana with stability and predictability, knowing that the agency has a significant impact on Montana companies.

“We hope this rate cut will allow employers to hire more workers, make improvements, and ultimately improve Montana’s economy,” he said.

MSF President and CEO Laurence Hubbard said “Montana companies continue to improve workplace safety, we are committed to ensuring that our rates reflect these improvements.”

With the most recent cut, MSF’s rates are now 54.1% lower than in 2006 (the year of the last rate increase), state fund officials said.

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Next to payroll, workers’ compensation insurance is the biggest expense on an employer’s books, state fund officials said, adding that small businesses form the backbone of Montana’s economy.

In October, the State Fund announced a record dividend of $40 million for policyholders.

Dividends are paid to employers as a direct result of better-than-expected investment market performance and positive workplace safety outcomes, the Montana State Fund said.

On Tuesday, the Montana State Fund announced that it had presented the Motor Carriers of Montana with a check for $224,044, as a “retrospective return” for participating in the group’s safety program and improving safety at the work.

Hubbard said Montana Motor Carriers have earned this comeback by putting “safety at the forefront of their collective mind and proving that safety pays.”

Duane Williams, executive director of Motor Carriers of Montana, said he was able to improve members’ workplace safety culture and reduce workplace injuries.

The 23 members of the motor carrier group will share in the total return, with the average check to policyholders amounting to approximately $9,700. Checks range from about $64 to more than $34,000, depending on policy size, premium paid and losses incurred, state fund officials said.

Associate Editor Phil Drake can be reached at 406-231-9021.

Rochester Mosque Receives Special Labor Grant

March 27, 2022

Montana Economy

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St Paul (KROC AM News) – A religious organization in Rochester was the only recipient of a special state labor grant in southeast Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the recipients of the Targeted Community Capital Project grants on Friday.

According to ACT:
In recognition of the statewide impact of COVID-19, natural disasters and civil unrest that has occurred over the past two years, the 2021 Minnesota Legislature has authorized $18 million to DEED to administer this competitive grant program, providing much-needed funding for complex projects and expensive capital projects. Investment projects using these funds must result in providing, increasing and/or expanding access to economic development, education or workforce development programs or services to communities. underserved or economically disadvantaged individuals or groups.

“We know the pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on Black, Indigenous and communities of color and economically disadvantaged groups,said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “This funding demonstrates the state’s commitment to a new chapter of equitable economic growth.

Minnesota ACT

Minnesota ACT

A total of 149 proposals were received for the TCCP grant, totaling nearly $175 million in applications. Sixteen were selected, including one submitted by Masjed Abubakr Al-Seddiq, Inc. The organization operates the mosque located on N. Broadway in downtown Rochester. His grant totals $1.5 million.

According to ACT:

Serving the East African community in Rochester, MAAS will use these funds to increase individuals’ access to training and services for their workforce. Renovating the second floor of the current space will expand opportunities for bus driving, child care, home support, and computer/coding training and increase job placement assistance.

“Many excellent proposals were submitted and our team did a thorough review to analyze the applications with significant community input,said Marc Majors, DEED Deputy Commissioner for Workforce Development. “Across the state, these grants will help create spaces where Minnesotans can go for job training, after-school youth programs, and other important services that will make a real difference in communities.”

WATCH: This is the richest city in every state

Just saying the names of these cities immediately conjures up images of grand mansions, fancy cars and fancy restaurants. Read on to see which city in your home state won the title of richest place and which place had the highest median income in the country. Who knows, your hometown might even be on this list.

Agricultural businesses and meat processing plants benefit from ARPA

March 23, 2022

Montana Economy

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Owners Jason and LaRynn Schlange inside Hamilton Packing Company which is receiving a $450,000 grant for business expansion through the US bailout. Star file photo.

As part of his efforts to defend Montana’s agricultural producers and reduce consolidation in the packing industry by increasing local meat processing capacity, U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured more than $7.8 million dollars in U.S. bailout funds for 30 Montana small businesses, including 17 meat processors. plans and resources for three new US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified meat processing facilities. Hamilton Packing Company will receive $450,000 for expansion, upgrades to state-inspected meat processing equipment and existing retail.

Tester helped negotiate the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provided this funding, and he was the only Montana state official to support the legislation. Thanks to ARPA, Montana’s unemployment rate is currently at the lowest rate in state history.

“Production agriculture is Montana’s number one industry and the backbone of our economy, and I am proud to have secured these resources from the U.S. bailout that will support family farmers, ranchers, processors of meat and small businesses in our state,” Tester said. “The consolidation of the meatpacking industry and the anti-competitive behavior of the big four packers is putting our producers out of business and forcing families to pay more for meat at the grocery store. These investments will expand local processing facilities, grow small businesses and support well-paying jobs in Montana communities. »

APRA’s $7,872,418 in targeted funding comes from the $1.25 billion local and state coronavirus tax relief fund tester secured for the state of Montana to respond to the economic effects of the pandemic. These funds are specifically aimed at value-added agricultural projects and small businesses. The list of USDA-recommended recipients who will receive ARPA funds includes:

New USDA certified meat processing facilities:

· $150,000 for Big Sky Processing, LLC (Pray): New USDA Retail/Slaughterhouse in Central Montana

$300,000 for Blue Creek Marbled Meat Co (Billings): new meat slaughter facility under construction for state/USDA inspection

· $450,000 for Nguyen Holdings, Inc dba M&S Meats (Rollins): New USDA inspected meat processing facility; Existing retail

Meat processing prices:

$150,000 for Bear Paw Meats (Havre): expansion, renovations to state-inspected slaughter floor to increase capacity

· $30,286 for BMB Ventures, LLC dba Rawhide Meats (White Sulfur Springs): expansion, portioning of vacuum filling equipment. State inspected, scheduled for USDA inspection.

$140,000 for Butcher Block Specialties (Miles City): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades

$450,000 for Eastern Montana Meats, LLC (Sidney): expansion, upgrade of USDA inspected meat processing equipment

$450,000 for Hamilton Packing Company (Hamilton): expansion, upgrade of state inspected meat processing equipment, existing retail

$150,000 for Meats of Montana (Big Timber): Expansion of USDA inspected retail storefront at Pioneer Meats, Inc.

$450,000 for OCC Legacy Cuts (Ekalaka): Expansion, USDA Certified/Organic Meat Processing Facility

$150,000 for Old Salt Co-op (Helena): direct-to-consumer meat marketing + proposed slaughter facility

$45,000 for Pekovitch Meats LLC (Malta): expansion, bespoke exempt meat processing equipment upgrades

$150,000 for Prairie Meats LLC (Lothair): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades

· $150,000 for Primitive Meats LLC (Worden): expansion, custom exempt meat processing equipment upgrades

$200,000 for Pure Montana Meats (Miles City): expansion, upgrade of USDA inspected meat processing equipment

$102,945 for S Ranch Meats, LLC (Hardin): expansion, upgrades to USDA inspected meat processing equipment

$150,000 for Superior Meats, Inc. (Superior): Automated packaging equipment and composting system, state inspected

General Agriculture Awards:

$400,000 for Big Sandy Organics (Big Sandy): food manufacturing plant expansion

$277,972 for Commercial Lynks Inc. (Ledger): equipment for expanding, cleaning pulse crops, sorting, splitting and bagging

$450,000 for Evergood Commodities Ltd (Inverness): new installation of a pea and lentil splitting plant

$450,000 for IND HEMP, LLC (Fort Benton): expansion, hemp seed and hemp fiber processing line

$79,300 for Lake County Community Development Corporation (Ronan): Supply of value-added products from Montana for schools in Montana

$300,000 for Madison Food Park LLC (Great Falls): New Phase 1 Cheese Manufacturing and Processing Facility

$150,000 for Montana Gluten Free Processors (Belgrade): expansion, equipment to increase the performance of the processing line

$450,000 for Montana Milling (Great Falls/Conrad): expansion, shelling, shelling and protein isolate extraction

$450,000 for Montana Premier Protein (Billings): new pulse milling plant

$450,000 for Sidney Sugars Inc. (Sidney): Conversion of a new natural gas boiler

$450,000 for The Redwood Group (Shelby): new import/export facility at northern Montana port

$149,900 for Timeless Seeds, Inc. (Ulm): food processing, equipment upgrades to maintain food safety certification

$147,015 for Western Montana Growers Cooperative (Missoula): expansion to support increased local food distribution

In 2020, Tester held hundreds of meetings with Montana workers, small business owners, frontline healthcare workers, educators, tribes and local officials to solicit feedback on what Montanans have needed to get through the pandemic. The tester used the contribution to help craft the US bailout, which provided $20 billion in funding for vaccines, $382 million for Montana K-12 schools, legislation to restore long-distance service on the Empire Builder Amtrak route and billions for small businesses, rural hospitals and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Governor Gianforte kicks off Agriculture Week and brings back Montana Meat Day

March 21, 2022

Montana Economy

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Governor’s Office

HELEN, Mont. – To mark the second day of Montana Agriculture Week, Governor Greg Gianforte today recognized Montana ranchers during a visit to Sieben Ranch, a multi-generational ranch that includes a cow/calf operation, yearlings and beef cattle.

“This Agriculture Week, we recognize the thousands of Montana farms and ranches that drive our state’s economy and feed our nation and the world, many of which are part of our first-class beef industry,” said Governor Gianforte. “To help keep these family farms in business for future generations, we are investing in value-added agriculture to help our agricultural producers capture more of the enormous value they create and expand their market opportunities in our country and around the world.

Governor Gianforte speaks with Nina Baucus, owner of Sieben Ranch

By visiting the Sieben Ranchthe governor heard from owner Nina Baucus about the calving currently underway at the ranch, stopping to see the heifers and cows.

Montana Department of Livestock Executive Director Mike Honeycutt, Montana Department of Agriculture Deputy Director Zach Coccoli and representatives from the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) joined the governor during the visit .

Speaking about the importance of the cattle industry to Montana, MSGA Executive Vice President Jay Bodner added, “It was an honor to join Governor Gianforte on a multigenerational Montana ranch in the Valley of Helena. Not only were we able to discuss the importance of cattle production to Montana’s economy, but also the role that ranching plays in land stewardship. We would like to thank the Governor for his strong support for agriculture.

Last week, Governor Gianforte proclaimed March 20-26 Montana Agriculture Week to recognize the state’s agricultural industry, farmers and ranchers, and their contributions to the Montana way of life and the world.

The governor kicked off the week Sunday by celebrating Montana Meat Day and encouraging all Montanaers to mark the day with world-class beef, chicken, lamb or pork from Montana ranchers.

This morning, the Governor announced that Montana has finalized an Interstate Cooperative Agreement (CIS) with the United States Department of Agriculture, making Montana the tenth state in the nation where meat and poultry processors inspected by the state can ship their products across state lines.

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Russian-Ukrainian war: what you need to know about the conflict | national news

March 19, 2022

Montana Economy

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Fighting raged on multiple fronts in Ukraine on Saturday, with heavy fighting in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol, site of some of the war’s greatest suffering. Ukrainian officials say their forces are fighting the Russians for the Azovstal steelworks, one of the biggest in Europe.

The war is now in its fourth week. Overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe”, but also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet him for direct talks.

The UN migration agency says the fighting has displaced nearly 6.5 million people inside Ukraine, in addition to the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country. Ukraine says thousands of people have been killed.

Here are some key things to know about the conflict:

WHAT HAPPENS ON THE PITCH?

In town after town around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people sought shelter were attacked.

The Ukrainians announced on Saturday that 10 humanitarian corridors had been agreed with the Russians – one from Mariupol, several in the Kyiv region and several in the Lugansk region. Humanitarian aid deliveries are also planned for the city of Kherson, currently under Russian control.

In Mariupol, Ukrainian troops were losing control of the key Azovstal steel plant, now damaged and heavily contested, according to comments from an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister.

“Now there is a fight for Azovstal,” Vadym Denysenko said in televised remarks on Saturday. “I can say that we have lost this economic giant. In fact, one of the largest metallurgical plants in Europe is being destroyed.”

Zelenskyy said in his Friday night video address to the nation that more than 9,000 people were able to leave Mariupol in the past day, and in total more than 180,000 people were able to flee through humanitarian corridors.

The Russian military announced on Saturday that it had used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said Kinzhal missiles destroyed an underground warehouse storing Ukrainian missiles and aviation ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine. .

A 38-hour curfew has been announced in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia to last from 4 p.m. local time Saturday until 6 a.m. Monday. Officials said two missile strikes on the city’s suburbs a day earlier killed nine people. Local authorities say they continue to evacuate people from areas occupied by Russian troops.

MEANWHILE, IN SPACE

Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, and as they floated there in zero gravity, they wore bright yellow flight suits with blue accents. These are the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Later, cosmonauts were able to talk to their family on Earth, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev was asked about flight suits. He said each crew chooses their own flight suits and “actually we had accumulated a lot of yellow gear, so we had to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow.”

Since the beginning of the war, many people have used the Ukrainian flag and its colors to show their solidarity with the country. It was unclear what message, if any, the yellow uniforms were meant to send.

WHAT ARE GLOBAL LEADERS DOING?

President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping spoke for nearly two hours Friday via video as the United States seeks to dissuade Beijing from providing military or economic aid to invading Russia. Biden described the consequences the Chinese would face from the United States if it provided military or economic assistance to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to detail the possible consequences, but a senior administration official said Biden pointed to the economic isolation Russia faces.

For his part, Xi urged the United States and Russia to negotiate and blamed the United States for the crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for an immediate ceasefire in a Friday phone call with Putin. Macron’s office said Putin blamed Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also pressed Putin for a ceasefire during a conversation on Friday.

Biden plans to travel to Europe next week for talks with European leaders on the Russian invasion and will attend an extraordinary NATO summit in Brussels.

WHERE ARE THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS STATE?

The head of the Russian delegation, in talks with Ukrainian officials, said the parties have moved closer to an agreement on a neutral status for Ukraine – one of the key Russian demands as its offensive continues. Vladimir Medinsky said on Friday that the parties had also narrowed their differences over the issue of Ukraine’s abandonment of its NATO bid.

But Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, tweeted: “Our positions are unchanged. Ceasefire, withdrawal of troops and strong security guarantees with concrete formulas.”

WHAT IS THE CIVILIAN TOLL OF THE WAR SO FAR?

The UN human rights office says it has recorded a total of 816 civilians killed and 1,333 injured since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24, although it only reports figures it can. to verify. He believes that the figures greatly underestimate the real toll. Ukrainian officials say thousands have been killed.

The country’s attorney general’s office reported on Saturday that a total of 112 children have been killed since the fighting began. More than 140 children were injured.

WHAT DID THE AP DIRECTLY WITNESS OR CONFIRM?

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, AP journalists have relayed images of destruction, distress and defiance across the country.

A soldier standing guard near the site of the strike in Lviv said he heard three explosions in quick succession around 6 a.m. A nearby resident described his building vibrating with explosions and panicking people. Smoke continued to rise from the site hours later.

HOW DOES THE WORLD RESPOND TO WAR?

The United States and its allies have implemented a series of sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy. Hundreds of international companies have announced they are reducing their operations in Russia, and those that remain are under pressure to pull out.

Pope Francis on Friday denounced what he called the “evil abuse of power” in Russia’s war in Ukraine and called for help for Ukrainians whose identity, history and tradition are attacked. Francis’ comments were among his strongest to date in affirming Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign state.

Aid agencies are stepping up their efforts to deliver relief to civilians affected by the fighting and refugees who have fled Ukraine. The Polish town of Rzeszow, about 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, has become a humanitarian hub for the region.

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Follow AP coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war: http://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Arizona and Wisconsin start looking at impact of Medicaid roster cuts

March 16, 2022

Montana Economy

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As covid upended the US economy two years ago, Medicaid enrollment increased, but the federal government helped states absorb the additional costs. Now as states look to ending the covid emergency, they are planning how to reassess who should be covered by the state’s federal program for low-income residents.

AP: Arizona to resume opting out of people from Medicaid program

Arizona will soon resume opting out of in-state residents who are no longer eligible for coverage by Medicaid and a related program for children and that many currently enrolled people will have to go through a process to see if they remain eligible, have officials said Tuesday. Arizona’s health care cost containment system has generally not unenrolled beneficiaries since the pandemic began in March 2020 unless they left the state, voluntarily unenrolled, were children’s program or die, according to a statement from the agency. (3/15)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: ‘Huge number’ in Wisconsin to lose Medicaid as COVID emergency ends

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents are expected to lose their eligibility for Medicaid coverage when the federal government lifts its public health emergency declaration, the state’s top health official said Tuesday. At an event hosted by Wisconsin Health News, state health department secretary-designate Karen Timberlake said that, conservatively, the department predicts “a few hundred thousand” people will lose their coverage. Medicaid when the state restarts the renewal process for Wisconsin’s 1.5 million residents. currently enrolled in the program. “It’s a huge number,” she said. (Shastri, 3/15)

In related Medicaid news —

AP: Speaker of the House not budging on expanding Medicaid for new moms

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said he opposes efforts to revive a proposal that would allow mothers to retain Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth. “My position on postpartum hasn’t changed,” Gunn, a Republican, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Mississippi allows two months of Medicaid coverage for women after childbirth. Advocates for low-income women say extending government insurance coverage for up to a year could improve health outcomes in a state with a high maternal mortality rate. (Petus, 3/15)

AP: Ex-Ohio Governor Kasich calls for compassion in Medicaid submission to North Carolina

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other speakers on Tuesday shared the experiences of states expanding Medicaid to more working adults, as North Carolina lawmakers carefully assess whether they should now accept coverage. Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate, and program presenters in Montana, Indiana and Michigan spoke to a General Assembly study committee about successes and challenges after the states accepted the expansion through the Federal Health Care Act of 2010. (Robertson, 3/16)

Miami Herald: 5 health care bills killed in 2022 by Florida legislature

Florida lawmakers made major and minor health policy changes this legislative session: They passed a 15-week abortion ban. They set aside $5 million a year so children in Florida can afford hearing aids. They revised the process for obtaining state contracts in 2025 for Florida’s Medicaid managed care system. Based on current listings, these deals will total at least $100 billion. Millions of Floridians covered by Medicaid will be affected by the Legislature’s policy changes. This year alone, lawmakers have earmarked nearly $49 billion in public funding for health care spending. (Wilson, 3/15)

And in news from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services —

AP: Psychiatric hospital has more time to correct shortcomings

Montana State Psychiatric Hospital has more time to correct deficiencies that led to patient deaths, reports the Montana State News Bureau. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initially gave Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs until March 13 to meet certain conditions to remain eligible for federal reimbursement. (3/15)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage by major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

Russell Art Auction Remains in August, CM Russell Museum Hosts New Event for Western Art Week | ABC Fox Great Falls

March 14, 2022

Montana Economy

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GREAT FALLS, Mt. – Western Art Week runs from March 16-20 and Russell’s Art Auction is how it all started.

However, this year the auction isn’t in March – it’s in August.

The CM Russell Museum says there are very few places you want to be outside of Montana in the summer.

When the auction was originally moved to 2021 due to the pandemic, people loved the new schedule.

Tom Figarelle, the museum’s executive director, says keeping it in August not only helps the museum, but also the economy.

“We’re going to stay in August for the foreseeable future,” Figarelle said.

However, just because Russell’s art auction is in August doesn’t mean they’ll all skip Western Art Week together.

They know that March is Charlie Russell’s birth month and a historic time to celebrate Western art in Electric City.

“We will still have events in March. It could be a miniature sale, it could be a different approach, but it will still have basic elements, one artist, two patrons and three a celebration of the legacy of Charlie,” Figarelle said.

For 2022, they imagined Charlie’s Miniature Roundup.

A time when they can spotlight small-scale artwork and new artists capturing the American West.

“It’s a combination of artists from the Russell Skull Society, it’s some of the best western artists in the country who have submitted small-scale artwork and other artists we’ve invited. Specifically invited who have never been to Russell’s Auction before. They have a new take on the American West. So there will be live music, food, camaraderie and engagement like the people have always loved Western Art Week, this time with smaller scale artwork,” Figarelle said.

Charlie’s Miniature Gathering begins at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 18 at The Newberry in downtown Great Falls.

Some tickets are still available and you can start bidding on over 60 small works of art now.

To learn more, buy tickets or bid on artwork, click here.

Argentinian lawmakers pass IMF refinancing deal amid protests | national news

March 11, 2022

Montana Economy

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BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Argentine lawmakers on Friday approved a deal with the International Monetary Fund to refinance $45 billion in debt, a vote intended to stave off economic turmoil but which has divided the ruling party.

The landslide vote of 202 to 37, with 13 abstentions, followed a marathon all-night debate as protesters angry at past IMF deals they saw as disastrous demonstrated and threw rocks and set fires outside the building of Congress.

The measure now goes to the Argentine Senate and must also be approved by the IMF’s board of directors.

Argentina assumed debt in 2018 under the government of conservative President Mauricio Macri, but failed to completely crush inflation or solve the country’s economic problems.

The current centre-left government said the refinancing deal struck with the IMF last week was key to averting a loan default and even bigger problems for an economy plagued by repeated defaults and crises.

This would let Argentina delay paying off its debt until 2026, with payments continuing until 2034. Under the previous deal, debt payments would be concentrated in 2022 and 2023.

“This is the best agreement that can be reached,” said Carlos Heller, chairman of the budget and finance committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

President Alberto Fernández obtained the support of the main opposition bloc in exchange for some modifications.

Left-wing forces, including some ruling party members close to Vice President Cristina Fernandez, argued that part of the measure would worsen conditions for the 40% poor Argentines.

Rocks thrown by protesters shattered windows and damaged her office in Congress, where she presides. She posted a video calling the damage “paradoxical” because as president she had opposed IMF deals – as had her late husband, former president Nestor Kirchner.

Their son Maximo, now a member of Congress, voted against the deal – which he had earlier protested by resigning as head of the ruling movement’s delegation to Congress.

The government maintains that the new deal would not require any overhaul of the pension system or work rules, although it says it would force increases in the prices of gas, electricity and other public services.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Stocks jump the most since June 2020 as oil prices fall sharply | national news

March 9, 2022

Montana Economy

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks rebounded for their biggest gain in nearly two years on Wednesday as a sharp drop in oil prices eased fears that inflation was about to worsen around the world. .

The S&P 500 climbed 2.6%, its biggest gain since June 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2% and the Nasdaq composite jumped 3.6%. The gains ended a four-day losing streak for the major indices, although they remained on pace with weekly losses.

The market rally came as the price of U.S. crude oil fell 12%, the most since November, bringing relief after a sharp rise in crude prices since Russia invaded Ukraine. Brent, the international standard for oil, fell 13.2%, its biggest drop in nearly two years.

Big swings have rattled markets in recent weeks as investors grope to guess the economic damage Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause. The swings hit not just day-to-day, but also hour-to-hour, with some days seeing multiple large reversals.

The chaotic movements should only continue with such high uncertainty about the war in Ukraine and its ultimate economic fallout. The region is key to markets as it is a major producer of oil, wheat and other commodities, the prices of which have soared on concerns about supply disruptions.

“It’s one day, so it’s hard to draw conclusions,” said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments. “The markets were back to the wall, kind of expecting the worst.”

Crude oil prices fell and the fall accelerated amid reports that the United Arab Emirates will urge other OPEC members to increase production and ease supply problems. A barrel of US crude oil settled at $108.70. Brent settled at $111.14.

Stocks again moved in the opposite direction of oil prices on Wednesday, with inflation a major concern. Analysts said bargain hunters could claw back stocks after worries about a slowing economy coupled with high inflation triggered their recent steep decline. Many of these buyers appear to be smaller-pocketed “retail” investors trading on their phones and laptops. And they often buy stocks that big professional investors sell.

Last week saw record selling of US stocks by hedge funds, wrote strategist Jill Carey Hall in a recent report by BofA Global Research. Retail investors and institutional investors were net buyers.

The movements of retail investors may be the result of people worrying about missing out on any potential rebound. A buy-the-dip strategy, where stock declines were seen primarily as opportunities to buy low, was very successful after the 2020 crash caused by the coronavirus. The S&P 500 has continued to climb since that 10% flat drop until recently.

Recent big market moves also show that prices are already reflecting a lot of pessimism, with crude oil prices up more than 45% so far in 2022. Perhaps this is why crude prices have actually retreated on Tuesday, after President Joe Biden announced a US ban on Russian oil imports. A ban will lead to supply disruptions, but oil traders may have already taken that into account when they briefly pushed the price of U.S. crude above $130 a day ahead of the announcement.

Gold prices and some nervousness among stock investors on Wall Street also eased.

In total, the benchmark S&P 500 index rose from 107.18 to 4,277.88. The Dow added 653.61 to 33,286.25 and the Nasdaq gained 459.99 to 13,255.55. The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks rose 53.28, or 2.7%, to 2,016.29.

European equities rallied even more than the US market. The German DAX jumped 7.9% and the French CAC 40 7.1%.

European nations face an even greater shock than the United States from rising energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This could lead the European Union to take greater measures to support its economy.

The result could be more stimulus and more caution from central banks on interest rate hikes, said Stephen Dover, chief market strategist and director of the Franklin Templeton Investment Institute.

“While the United States will have the wind in its face as the stimulus falls, Europe may actually have the wind in its sails.”

On Wall Street, the gains were broad-based, with nearly 85% of S&P 500 stocks up, led by technology companies. Some of the strongest moves came from airlines, travel agencies and other stocks which rebounded from steep declines on worries about fuel costs and the economy.

Among the few declines on Wednesday were oil-related companies, which lost momentum after big jumps this year due to rising crude prices. Halliburton fell 5.2%, although it is still up 52% ​​for 2022.

These swings have been particularly significant in commodity markets, as Russia is the second-largest exporter of oil and the third-largest supplier of nickel, which is used in electric car batteries, stainless steel and other products. Russia and Ukraine are also among the world’s largest sellers of wheat.

Less than a week after removing Russia from its list of countries considered a safe place to invest, Fitch further downgraded its credit rating on the country and warned of an impending default on sovereign debt.

Treasury yields rose on the eve of an anticipated interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. The Fed’s policymaking committee is meeting next week, and it’s widely expected to vote to raise its benchmark short-term rate by a quarter of a percentage point. It would be the first such increase since 2018.

The Fed faces a delicate and increasingly difficult task as it prepares to raise rates through 2022, which tends to slow the economy. The central bank wants to drive rates high enough to bring down inflation, which is at its highest level in generations. But he does not want to increase them to the point of causing a recession.

“There’s more uncertainty about what the Fed is going to do now than there was a few weeks ago,” Dover said.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.94% from 1.86% on Tuesday evening.

Bitcoin rose 8% after Biden signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency. Crypto players are increasingly saying they welcome increased regulation and want to help shape it.

———

AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed. Veiga reported from Los Angeles.

The ensemble of young theater creators returns to WYO PLAY

March 8, 2022

Montana Economy

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The WYO Theater Performing Arts & Education Center has announced auditions for the Young Theater Makers Ensemble, a program of WYO PLAY. WYO PLAY, launched in September 2020, is a series of after-school arts education programs that create safe and engaging environments for lifelong learners to explore the arts of theater.

Auditions for the Young Theater Makers Ensemble (YTME) will take place Friday, March 18 at 4 p.m. and Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m. in the Tandem Rehearsal Room at the WYO Performing Arts & Education Center. Auditions for YTME are for any high school student wishing to participate in the theater arts. Students only need to plan to attend one of the auditions, and no preparation or experience is necessary.

Throughout April, members of the ensemble will meet on Saturday mornings to participate in a special scene study led by Sean Patrick Higgins. Then, the ensemble will conclude the spring session with Saturday morning meetings in May devoted to the preparation and anticipation of the summer production.

The YTME 2022 summer production will be a one-act play with great opportunities for students to develop skills on and off stage. Rehearsals will begin in July and performances will take place in mid-August.

Students or families looking for more information about the Ensemble or information about auditions can contact WYO PLAY Senior Teaching Artist Grace Cannon.

WYO PLAY is supported by James & Doreen McElvaney, Homer A & Mildred S Scott Family Foundation, Kim Cannon & Laura Lehan, The Seidler Foundation, the Wyoming Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming State Legislature and is supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks & Cultural Resources.

Over the past five years, WYO facilities have expanded to provide more space for the exploration of performing arts and education. Looking to the future, the WYO sees itself as a driving force in promoting the arts in the Sheridan community and region. Therefore, the theater has launched a strong series of educational programs called WYO PLAY that will build on WYO’s heritage as a center for entertainment and arts education in the surrounding community. In addition to honoring the past, the new educational programs will help usher in a bright future for Sheridan’s creative economy and artistic life.

Bakken energy industry gets moment to push for increased US oil production | State

March 5, 2022

Montana Economy

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Bakken’s energy industry has long pushed back against green energy moves, promoting the narrative that its oil and gas production is vitally important to American energy security. Ukraine’s recent invasion could help him continue that narrative, and congressional delegations from North Dakota and Montana are both busy using it to gain political points for the energy sectors in their State.

Republican Senator from Montana Steve Daines and Republican Senators from North Dakota John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer are all signatories to a letter that the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources sent to President Joe Biden outlining the 10 measures that he and Congress should take to restore America’s energy independence.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine laid bare a broken American energy policy,” the senators wrote in the letter. “It is time to change course and restore America to its dominant role in global energy. It’s no secret that we opposed your approach to American energy production. Your administration’s emphasis on ending the production and use of traditional US energy sources has contributed to soaring inflation. It has also left the United States and our allies vulnerable to malicious maneuvers by Vladimir Putin.

Added insult to injury, the senators suggested, when climate envoy John Kerry, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said: “I hope President Putin will help keep us on track when it comes to what we need to do for the climate.” ”

The cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline was one of the first steps the Biden administration took to kick off the inflationary measures that have heightened market uncertainty and caused underinvestment in oil and gas. natural gas which leads to high energy costs. This is exacerbating inflation which has been caused by supply chain issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(It) has hurt American families and our economy,” the letter continued. “These decisions have also weakened our ability to deal with the immediate crisis in Ukraine and to support our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.”

US policies must make America and its allies less dependent on Russian oil, the letter continues.

“It’s time for your administration to develop a new approach that embraces America’s energy abundance,” the senators wrote. “The energy produced in the United States is not only good for our economy and our international competitiveness. Making American energy dominant will increase the security of our nation and our allies.

The 10 steps described by the letter are as follows:

Order the Department of the Interior to hold new sales of oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and water

Halt the rule planned by the Securities and Exchange Commission to improve “environmental, social and governance” disclosures, which aim to make it difficult for energy companies to raise capital and produce American energy.

Accelerate approval of increased liquefied natural gas exports to NATO allies and other strategic partners to reduce their reliance on foreign sources hostile to the United States.

Remove restrictions on international financing of natural gas and coal-fired power plants. Otherwise, developing countries have little choice but to foster these projects with partners who may not be friendly to the United States.

Order the Department of Energy to purchase locally produced uranium for a strategic uranium reserve. The United States imports 90% of its uranium, nearly half of which comes from Russia and its allies.

Reform and streamline regulations that unnecessarily delay and sometimes halt vital energy infrastructure projects.

Encourage FERC to avoid new pipeline approval hurdles. Making more US natural gas available to Europe, which you have supported, cannot be done without additional infrastructure.

Withdraw the executive order canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and approve existing and future cross-border oil and gas permits. Canada is the largest source of US crude oil imports and an important friend and ally.

Work with European allies to develop this continent’s shale resources to help them escape the energy bottleneck that Russia has placed Europe in. Putin has funded anti-fracking campaigns across Europe.

Accelerate the approval of national mines, including those on federal lands, that produce critical minerals and other in-demand materials like copper whose supply is currently dominated by China and Russia.

Life in South Asia returns to normal as COVID cases decline | national news

March 4, 2022

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Markets are crowded again. Traffic blocks the roads. Migrant workers have returned to the cities. And young people are back in schools and universities – many of them for the first time in years.

It’s not quite like this before the COVID-19 pandemic — mask mandates still exist in some places — but with infections steadily declining, life in South Asia is returning to a sense of normalcy.

The mental scars from last year’s Delta outbreak linger – particularly in India, where health systems have collapsed and millions are likely to have died – but across the region, rates of High vaccination rates and the hope that the highly contagious omicron variant has helped boost immunity give people reason for optimism.

While experts agree opening up was the right move amid falling case numbers, they warn optimism should be tempered by lessons from the past two years.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, an infectious disease expert at the Christian Medical College in the southern Indian city of Vellore, said the government should start preparing now for the next medical emergency, “that it’s whether it’s COVID-19 or something else”. She said new variants remain a concern, particularly if the virus mutates into a more deadly version while retaining its infectiousness.

Those concerns were put aside in Nepal this week as hundreds of thousands gathered at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu for a festival of the Hindu god Shiva.

“I had to wait for hours – since morning – and finally I was able to visit the temple,” said Keshav Dhakal, a pilgrim.

Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches are full again. Young people sway to music and devour spicy curries with friends. Some restrictions remain on the island – masks are compulsory in public places – but the government hopes foreign tourists will return soon, helping to bolster its faltering economy.

The island nation was so short of hard currency during the pandemic that authorities had restricted car and fertilizer imports. Now it is using its dwindling reserves to pay for the increasingly expensive oil needed to sustain the economy.

“I am happy that life is coming back,” said Ruwan Chamara, a construction worker who says he has attended several concerts in recent weeks after nearly two years of “living in an open prison”.

The Indian government is also focusing on economic rejuvenation. In addition to the loss of life, the pandemic has also impoverished millions of people, including many of the most vulnerable. The strict lockdown, announced with hours’ notice in 2020, forced thousands of people to walk home to their villages from the towns where they worked. These workers have now started to return to the cities, as activity resumes in factories and construction sites.

“Because of the confinements, we have nothing. If we don’t work, we don’t eat. If we don’t eat, we die,” said Devendra Kumar, a young laborer working at a construction site in New Delhi.

Kuldeep Singh Tomar, 38, a shoe store owner in New Delhi, said sales had risen from about $400 a day in January to twice as much as in February. Before the pandemic, he said he would earn more than $1,300 a day.

In Bangladesh too, people are cautiously removing their face masks while coping with the fallout of the pandemic. For many, the virus itself now looks like a minor issue compared to others people are facing, such as inflation and job losses, said Mir Arshadul Hoque, a former student at the University. from Dhaka.

“Overall, I think people have mentally moved away from coronavirus,” he said.

But no distance can completely erase the difficult memories of the past two years: overwhelmed hospitals, overwhelmed cemeteries, exhausted doctors.

“The past two years have been unbearable for us,” said Habibul Bashar, former captain of the Bangladesh cricket team.

“We certainly don’t want to go back to an earlier time,” he said.

—-

Al-emrun Garjon in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Binaj Gurubacharya and Updendra Man Singh in Kathmandu, Shonal Ganguly and Rishi Lekhi in New Delhi and Bharatha Mallawarachi in Colombo, Sri Lanka contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Oil prices soar to $110 a barrel as Russia hits Ukraine | national news

March 2, 2022

Montana Economy

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NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are rising again as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine, pushing crude as high as $110 a barrel. Rising energy prices could aggravate inflation, which is already threatening economies everywhere and worrying central banks. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress Wednesday morning that the Fed is ready to begin a cycle of interest rate hikes this month in an effort to fight inflation. Stocks open higher and energy companies posted some of the biggest gains, with crude prices jumping more than 5%. The S&P rose 0.7%. Treasury yields rose.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices jumped above $110 a barrel on Wednesday as Russian forces stepped up attacks on Ukrainian cities, while premarket trading on Wall Street pointed to a higher open.

Investors appeared to heed comments Wednesday from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the Fed will begin raising interest rates this month as part of a major effort to contain the surge in the economy. ‘inflation.

In prepared testimony he will deliver to a congressional committee, Powell warns that the financial consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are “highly uncertain” and that the Fed “will have to be nimble” to respond to unexpected changes resulting from war or sanctions. that the United States and Europe have imposed in response.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.2% while the same for the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed around 0.3%.

Markets in Shanghai and Tokyo declined as President Vladimir Putin’s invasion stoked fears of global economic turmoil. Shares rose in Paris and London.

The war is adding to concerns about global economic growth as the Federal Reserve and other central banks prepare to fight soaring inflation by raising interest rates.

“The conspiracy of geopolitical uncertainty and stagflation-like impulses is a brutal shock,” Mizuho Bank’s Tan Boon Heng said in a report.

Investors were waiting for more clues about possible rate hikes when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell addresses Congress from 10 a.m.

The DAX in Frankfurt fell 0.4% and the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.2%. The FTSE 100 in London added 0.4%.

Russia’s central bank said trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange would remain closed for a third day on Wednesday, although trading in currencies and precious metals resumed for the first time this week.

The value of the Russian ruble fell further to below 0.9 US cents despite its central bank’s decision on Monday to raise interest rates to defend the currency.

Oil prices rose despite an agreement by the United States and other major governments at the International Energy Agency to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves to stabilize supply.

Benchmark U.S. crude jumped further $7.75 to $111.16 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after hitting $111.50 earlier.

Brent crude, the international price standard, gained $7.77 to $112.74 a barrel in London. It climbed $7 the previous session to $104.97.

“Markets rejected the idea that 60 million barrels of strategic reserves released would be a consequence of the risks of jeopardizing Russian supplies,” said Tan de Mizuho. “Russia pumps out more than that in just six days.”

Late Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced he was joining US allies in closing the country’s airspace to Russian planes.

In an annual State of the Union address, Biden said he would try to protect Americans from the impact of rising oil prices. “I will use every tool at our disposal to protect American businesses and consumers,” Biden said.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.8% on Tuesday. The Nasdaq composite slipped 1.6%.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 1.7% to 26,393.03 and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1% to 3,484.19. The Indian Sensex lost 2.1%.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 1.9% to 22,334.14. In Seoul, the Kospi gained 0.5% to 2,712.97.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.3% to 7,116.70 after government data showed Australia’s economy grew 3.4% in the last three months of 2021 compared to the quarter. previous and consumer spending was strong.

Economists say Asian economies are less exposed to war than Europe, but those that need imported oil will be hit by rising world prices, adding to inflationary pressures and depressing business and economic activity. consumers.

Moscow’s attack on Ukraine and threats of Russian retaliation in response to Western sanctions have also rattled world markets for wheat and other commodities.

Wheat prices, of which Russia and Ukraine are major exporters, rose more than 20% in one month.

Investors moved money into the haven of government bonds, driving up their market price and reducing the yield, or the difference between the current price and the payment at maturity.

The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.78% after falling an unusually wide margin on Tuesday from Monday’s 1.83%.

The dollar gained 115.39 yen from 114.86 yen on Tuesday. The euro fell to $1.1094 from $1.1123.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Attorney General Hosts Hi-Line’s Annual Republican Dinner – Hi-Line Today

February 28, 2022

Montana Economy

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Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Republican congressional candidate for the new western Montana congressional district, speaks at Sunday’s Lincoln-Reagan dinner while Hill County Republican Chairman, Andrew Brekke (right), who served as the event’s emcee, looks on.

LE HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – Hill and Blaine County Republicans hosted their annual Lincoln-Reagan fundraising dinner Sunday night at the Duck Inn Olympic Room in Le Havre.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen delivered the keynote address.

Knudsen spoke for just over 18 minutes and began his speech by saying “it’s great to be Helena’s most hated man”, and was proud of his litigation work.

The attorney general has touted his involvement in fighting four different federal government vaccine mandates, three of which have been overturned.

The United States Supreme Court recently allowed the application of the CMS Healthcare Worker vaccine warrant while litigation continues.

“That’s where we are right now, literally,” Knudsen said. “The litigation is still ongoing. We have an appeal in the 5th circuit, and we have an appeal in the 6th circuit before a very very good federal judge Trump in Florida. But, a lot of bickering over this case, a lot of legal proceedings. We’re trying to get back to the district court level with an amended complaint, put it before our district judge. But the 5th circuit got us a bit stuck. So my point, this case is not over. We are still fighting this case. I really think the Supreme Court of the United States will have no choice but to look at the constitution, look at what Joe Biden did in this case and say “that power does not exist”. You don’t have the power to order this huge sector of our economy, health care workers, to get this mandate. So we are still fighting tooth and nail. »

Knudsen has touted his work on increasing drug trafficking and violent crime in the state, saying 100% of meth and fentanyl in Montana came from the Mexican drug cartel crossing the southern border into the United States. .

Knudsen urged those in attendance at the sold-out dinner to pay close attention to upcoming court races in the 2022 election. Knudsen called out two of the Montana Supreme Court justices by name.

“Please, please be careful. Judge Ingrid Gustafson is standing. Pure and hard leftist. It has done tremendous harm to the judiciary and to our criminal justice system. Literally releasing criminals to the streets. And there’s no good way for me to put it. We also have Jim Rice in place. I could go on about him. He had choice things to say about me in a few opinions. But the former Republican lawmaker who I think now has Stockholm Syndrome. He’s been on the Court for a long time and he’s just going with the Democrats on the Court. Again, there’s just no good way to say this.

A request for comment to the Montana Supreme Court was not immediately answered.

Knudsen spoke to New Media Broadcasters Monday morning and defended his comments.

“With respect to Judge Gustafson, she had a number of very troubling opinions, just from a criminal procedural perspective. It’s getting a little wonky and I don’t want to get too wonky. But as a former prosecutor, you have certain criminal procedures that have been in place for a long time. And she’s been quietly shaking these things up with court opinions and she’s making her colleagues accept them for sure. But very, very concerning for professionals in corrections, for professionals in prosecutions. Frankly, we are talking about time served for criminals. When charged in multiple jurisdictions, she has basically upended this whole traditional pattern, which creates a real conundrum for the corrections industry. Again, this is getting pretty wonky, but she’s had a number of these opinions that are quite, quite troubling. I think it’s because there’s a judge in Ingrid Gustafson who really doesn’t believe in incarceration, she doesn’t believe in the criminal justice system. She thinks we’re going to deal with our drug problem. Treatment is great when you have someone who wants treatment. But the thing is, when you have felons who don’t want treatment and just want more meth, treatment won’t work for that person and they’ll probably need jail time.

My comments on Judge Rice: again, he has been sitting for a long time. He was a judge who was a former Republican lawmaker years ago. And the longer he is on the Supreme Court, the worse his decisions have deteriorated. He went more and more to the left and votes with the left who is on the ground. I think his legal opinions speak for themselves. So that’s the impetus for my comments.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, Gustafson is the only candidate to have filed her Supreme Court seat so far, while no candidate has filed for Rice’s seat.

Montana Supreme Court elections are nonpartisan, and Knudsen told New Media Broadcasters he was not concerned his comments would make the court politicized.

“The Supreme Court of Montana has been politicized for a long time. I think we’re more in the spotlight now because we’ve had high-profile cases before us. And look, the Democratic Party and the Montana Liberals used to have a stamp in the governor who would veto legislation. They don’t have that anymore. Thus, more and more Conservative laws make it through the legislative process. The governor signs these things into law and kind of the last hurdle for the Democrat party is to show up in court and have their buddies on the ground handle it for them. That’s what we see. So, unfortunately, that means there’s more spotlight on the Montana Supreme Court. They’re going to have to make tough decisions on some of these cases. They’re actually going to have to decide them. Where, like before, I think they were kind of able to fly under the radar and avoid a lot of these real controversial issues.

Senate District 14

News that came out of Sunday dinner is that there will be a contested primary for Senate District 14, which represents large parts of Hill, Liberty and Chouteau County, as well as a small part of Cascade County. .

Steve Chvilicek, an independent business owner born and raised in North Hingham, spoke briefly at Sunday dinner.

“I want to take my life to the next level. I feel like I’m not done pushing. I want to take care of the people who are in District 14 with farming and managing the small company. I believe in the constitution. I want freedom. I’m pro-life. I love guns. I believe in God and I have faith. One thing I’ve tried to instill in our family is (to) know the difference between right and wrong. And see things as an opportunity, not a problem. So that’s what I’m going to bring to Helena.

Before Chvilecek’s official announcement, incumbent Russ Tempel addressed the crowd.

Tempel said he must have learned a lot about chronic wasting disease and invasive mussels and worked to mitigate their impacts.

He was one of many local lawmakers to express his gratitude to voters for electing a Republican governor in 2020.

“This last session, we were able to pick up bills that we hadn’t been able to pass for 16 years. And a number of them would pass through the House and the Senate, they would hit the governor’s desk and be vetoed. This time we fixed some of those bills. And believe it or not, they hit the governor’s desk and got signed. We (passed) I think it was six or seven voting bills that tighten the vote where there was a lot of wiggle room. So these bills covered some of the voting issues.

No Democrats are currently listed in the race.

Other Local and Statewide Candidates

A number of other officials and/or candidates spoke at the dinner, including Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci, Congressman Matt Rosendale, one of his main opponents in James Boyette, the candidate for Congressman Ryan Zinke and State Legislators Casey Knudsen, Ed Hill and Josh Kassmier, Hill County Commissioner Diane McLean and Blaine County Commission nominee Shane Fox.

US Senator Steve Daines and Governor Greg Gianforte were also scheduled to speak, but did not make it to the dinner. A Daines staffer read a letter written by the senator on his behalf.

State Legislator Mike Lang was also unable to attend, and Republican Hill County Chairman Andrew Brekke read a letter he provided.

Unprecedented Obscenity Exposed to Helena | Letters

February 23, 2022

Montana Economy

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I wrote to the governor about the obscenity displayed on many vehicles in this town. “Montana Code Annotated 2021. TITLE 45. CRIMES. CHAPTER 8. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER. Part 2. Offensive, Indecent, and Inhumane Conduct” does not appear to require application, even in a school zone. The answer I got doesn’t address this issue at all. Instead, the governor backed the Biden presidency on the economy. He didn’t mention inflation, maybe that’s a figment of our imagination. That’s part of what he had to say.

“Since I took office in January 2021, we have made great strides in reviving our economy, changing the way Helena does business, and protecting our way of life in Montana.

“By January 2022, our unemployment rate had dropped dramatically, matching the lowest rate ever in Montana’s history. We have recovered all of the jobs lost since the pandemic began. We have more Montanans who are working today than ever before in our state’s history. And in 2021, we saw record business creation, with more than 50,000 new businesses starting up in Montana.”

Someone deserves the credit, how about the governor and the president. Now if we could do something about the unprecedented obscenity.

US sees Russia continuing to prepare for invasion, source says there’s been ‘no slowing down’

February 21, 2022

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It was a dramatic video, widely shared when it appeared last Friday on pro-Russian-backed separatist Telegram channels in eastern Ukraine.

It reportedly showed a barrage of gunfire and shelling by Polish-speaking saboteurs trying to blow up a chlorine tank near the town of Horlivka a week earlier — on February 11. Horlivka is in territory controlled by separatists from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

The DPR People’s Militia press service picked it up and claimed that the saboteurs had been killed and the video had been recovered from their bodies.

However, the video file’s metadata reveals a creation date of February 8, ten days before it was shared on Telegram, according to a CNN analysis. And three days before the alleged date of the attack.

The messaging platform retains the metadata of the videos posted there and it cannot be edited.

But that’s not all. Another metadata section – called “Pantry Creation Tool” – revealed that Adobe Premiere Pro was used to edit the video using different elements – called “ingredients” – from a repository. separate.

“It appears to be a composite video, which means it is a collection of multiple elements, for example, when you add audio to a video or create a collection of clips, images, etc. . smaller,” said Givi Gigitashvili, research associate at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

“The ingredients file path for this particular video contains a name ‘2021-02-04 ВИДЕО-ЗАПИСЬ ДРГ(+).mp4’, which may indicate that some ingredients are from 2021,” he added.

The location for this and other video assets also has “2021” and “February 2” as names for the project folders, again suggesting the original time period dates back to last year.

Among these resources, also in the Pantry section of the metadata, is a file name “M72A5 LAW and AIPLAS live fire.mp4”.

As first noticed by Eliot Higgins, founder and creative director of Bellingcat, the filename matches a YouTube video of the same name, featuring explosions and gunfire at a location in Finland.

CNN asked Rob Maher, an audio forensics expert at Montana State University, to analyze the media assets. He compared the boom sequence audio from one of the shots in the YouTube video with a similar sound in the Telegram video.

“The sequence of booms is remarkably similar in timing,” Maher concluded. “For the particular boom I compared, the timing isn’t exactly the same, but it’s inexplicably similar.”

According to Maher, for the boom sequences in the two videos to be so similar, “the geometric relationship between the artillery piece, the target, and the microphone would have to be the same” – meaning they would have to be exactly in the Same direction. same position in both videos.

If the geometry were different, “the relative time of arrival of different boom sounds would be different” because the boom sound would travel at different speeds to the microphone.

“It seems quite unexpected and a coincidence that these acoustic arrival times are so similar in these two ‘unrelated’ videos,” Maher concluded. “If the claim is that the separatists’ video contains edited audio, that could be an explanation.”

Maher’s findings are corroborated by other sound designers and Twitter experts such as Ciaran Walsh, who compared the spectral analysis of the explosions in the two videos, and came to similar conclusions.

“I think (there is) a lot of evidence that the audio is added from this YouTube video,” Gigitashvili said.

This is not the first time separatists have been seen posting questionable videos on Telegram. A CNN analysis of Friday’s video statements from the leaders of the DPR and the Lugansk People’s Republic found that the footage was recorded 2 days earlier.

Poll: Western voters expect leaders to care about conservation and climate | State and Region

February 18, 2022

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According to the latest edition of the State of the Rockies Poll, Montana residents and other Rocky Mountain West voters expect their political leaders to take conservation and climate change seriously.

“We are witnessing a perfect storm of threats that are driving higher-than-ever levels of concern about the state of our lands and waters in the Mountain West region,” said Katrina Miller-Stevens, director of the State of the Rockies Project and associate. professor at Colorado College. “Unsurprisingly, most voters are aligning themselves with policies that would help mitigate threats by conserving and protecting more outdoor spaces.”

According to Lori Wiegel of New Bridge Strategy, a Republican polling firm that has co-led the survey for the past 12 years, voter concerns about conservation issues have grown stronger over the years. The portion of people with an optimistic view of nature’s future has fallen from 36% in 2011 to 28% this year. Those with worried vision went from 61% to 69% in the same time frame.

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Montana-specific results from the 12th annual Rocky Mountain State Poll found registered voters were highly concerned about wildfires, climate change and protecting public lands.


Courtesy of the Rocky Mountain State Project


Climate change was a serious issue for 55% of respondents in 2011. By 2022, this figure has risen to 77%. In this area, 86% were concerned or very concerned about drought and reduced snow cover. And 82% felt the same about more frequent and severe wildfires.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that voters in Montana and Colorado expressed the most concern about wildfires, given the December blazes that destroyed neighborhoods in each state just before the ballot. The issue received a very or somewhat worried response from 92% of Montana residents and 88% of Colorado residents.

Only Idaho and Wyoming had less than two-thirds of their voters concerned about the future of nature. Idaho posted 60% and Wyoming was the lowest of the Rocky Mountain states at 58%. Montana voters fell 68% in the “worried” category.

The main drivers of this concern were inadequate water supply, poorly planned growth and development, pollution of water supply systems, loss of family farms and ranches, loss of wildlife habitat and land change. climatic. Each was considered “extremely serious” by more than half of respondents, and all were considered serious by at least three in four voters.

Worries about the water supply have increased by 30% since the question was first asked in 2011. Similarly, the share of people concerned about climate change has risen from 27% in 2011 to 52% today. today.

Voters expect their elected representatives to share these concerns, according to the poll. When the question was first asked in 2016, 75% of Rocky Mountain voters said that water, wildlife and public land issues were important or very important when it came to decide who to vote for. By 2022, that figure had risen to 86%. More importantly, the share of voters who thought these issues were the main factor in their choice rose from 31% to 41%.

Montana was second to Colorado on this score, with 87% saying they considered an official’s stance on the environment an important part of their choice. Other options for voters’ choice were the economy, health care and education.

And the question cut across the political spectrum. When checked by party affiliation, 76% of Republicans and 96% of Democrats said a public official’s stance on conservation issues was an important factor in their choice over other issues.

“The numbers are some of the highest we’ve ever seen,” said Dave Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, the Democratic polling firm that partners with New Bridge for the annual poll. “Voters are watching and these issues are likely to guide their decision-making in the West.”

For example, the Biden administration’s 30×30 conservation plan proposes to protect 30% of the country’s land and water assets by 2030. Although it has drawn fire from many county governments in the West and Congressional In the Republican-dominated Western Caucus, Rocky Mountain voters appeared more evenly supportive.

“It sets this part of the country apart from the rest of the nation,” Metz said of the importance of conservation and environmental issues to Western voters. He added that interest hadn’t changed much in the polls before and after the 2020 presidential election, for people affiliated with a Democratic or Republican party.

“When you talk about the tops of the grass — partisan organizations and interest groups with more hardened opinions — they tend to be very different from the opinion of voters,” Metz said.

Conservation issues also mattered to most major demographic voter categories. At least 86% of rural women, under 35s, newcomers to the West, sports enthusiasts and moderates all ranked conservation as important over other issues in choosing to support an elected official.

The annual ballot took place in January. It reached 3,440 registered voters by cellphone and landline in eight states: Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The margin of error for the entire poll was plus or minus 2.4%, while individual state results had a margin of 4.8%.

USDA Invests $250,000 to Strengthen Box Elder County’s Economy – Cache Valley Daily

February 16, 2022

Montana Economy

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Todd Eskelsen, a Washington D.C. attorney, has teamed up with veteran fruit grower Jordan Riley to form Partner Farms, LLC alongside the truck on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022. The two plan to use to distribute produce in Montana, Utah. Wyoming and Idaho.

PERRY — A few farmers got together, formed a partnership, and applied for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to pull their produce from the declining Fruit Way market and truck it to Montana, Idaho, and the U.S. Wyoming.

Apples from Partner Farms, LLC are just one of the fruits and vegetables they will be shipping within 400 miles from tree to fork in the coming season.

The partnership just received a $250,000 value-added grower grant to be used to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to surrounding states that don’t otherwise have access to them. This project is marketed as “locally grown” and has established routes and locations within 400 miles during harvest seasons. They want to provide a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables produced by Box Elder to other communities.

For years, from July to October, the old Highway 89 just south of Brigham City was historically known as the Fruit Way, as local produce consists of fresh fruits and vegetables sold by local farmers on along the highway to people crossing northern Utah.

Farms of once highly profitable produce are shrinking. Some are sold to developers who take the fertile land and build housing estates in place of acres of farm-fresh fruit.

Todd Eskelsen, a Washington, DC attorney, purchased his family’s farm in Perry and planted approximately 3,000 fruit trees and partnered with veteran fruit grower Jordan Riley to form Partner Farms, LLC.

“I grew up in the Brigham City area and went to law school,” he said. “My father had property and grew apricots and peaches and I bought the property.”

Although he owns the property, he still practices law in Washington, D.C. He periodically returns to Perry to check on its operation. His law practice focuses on the acquisition and merger of agricultural entities.

“I formed a partnership with Jordan Riley who ran the Nielsen Fruit Stand and we became Partner Farms LLC,” Eskelsen explained. “Riley has a semi-truck and a trailer that we will use to transport products to other states.”

The lawyer said he is an active participant even if he does not do the work on the ground. He will take care of the legal, administrative and marketing aspects.

“We plan to use social media and digital marketing to get customers to place orders,” he said. “The plan is to get produce fresh from the tree to people within 48 to 72 hours of ordering it.”

There is a market for this type of food distribution. They hope to send out one truck a week and have another loaded when it returns.

“If it goes well, we hope to include other growers in the area,” Eskelsen said. “We want to form a cooperative with other local farms to sell everyone’s products.”

The $250,000 Partner Farms is receiving is part of a total USDA grant of $2.75 million to help rural Utah keep resources and wealth close to home through job training, business development and technical assistance.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said that for some time rural America has been at the mercy of an extractive economy, where resources are taken from rural lands only to create jobs and jobs. economic opportunities in urban and suburban areas.

This is why the USDA is committed to doing everything possible to transform this extractive economy into a circular economy., where value is added closer to home, so wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas,” he said. “This announcement underscores the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to help transform the economy and deliver well-paying jobs and economic opportunity to those who need it most.”





Stocks slide on Wall Street with eyes on Ukraine crisis | national news

February 14, 2022

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Stocks edged lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street on Monday as investors watch developments in Ukraine as Russia piles up troops on the border.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3% at 1:34 p.m. ET. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 160 points, or 0.5%, to 34,579 and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%.

Small company stocks held up better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 rose 0.2%.

Healthcare companies and banks were among the largest weights, dragging the market lower. Pfizer fell 2.2% and Moderna 12.5%. Citigroup fell 0.8%.

Gains by big tech companies helped temper losses elsewhere in the market. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 1.5%.

Bond yields have risen. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2% from 1.94% on Friday night.

The broader market stumbled Friday night after the White House told Americans to leave Ukraine within 48 hours amid fears Russia could soon invade that country. Other governments, including Russia, have withdrawn diplomats and their citizens from the country.

Nations are still seeking a diplomatic solution to the situation and the top Russian diplomat has advised Russian President Vladimir Putin to continue dialogue with the United States and its allies. A potential escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine weighed heavily on European markets, which fell sharply.

Crude oil prices remained relatively stable while natural gas prices rose 4.9%. Russia is a major energy producer. Any military action that disrupts supply could send shockwaves through energy markets and global industry.

The price of gold, traditionally a safe haven in times of geopolitical uncertainty, rose 1.5%.

The crisis in Ukraine is another concern for investors as they try to figure out how rising inflation and impending interest rate hikes will impact investments and the economy. Inflation is at its highest level in four decades and the Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates to help calm inflation.

The central bank is expected to start raising its benchmark interest rate in March, and Wall Street expects up to seven rate hikes this year.

Investors are also looking at the latest round of corporate earnings, in part to better understand how companies are coping with high inflation. Some of the more notable companies reporting earnings this week include Airbnb on Tuesday, DoorDash on Wednesday and Walmart on Thursday.

Investors will also receive more updates on inflation and its potential impact on spending. The Labor Department will release its January wholesale price report on Tuesday and the Commerce Department will release its January retail sales report on Wednesday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

US, Japan and South Korea meet in Hawaii to discuss North Korea | national news

February 13, 2022

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HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts were meeting in Hawaii on Saturday to discuss the threat posed by nuclear-armed North Korea after Pyongyang started the year with a series of missile tests.

Blinken met in Honolulu with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong. Defense chiefs from the three countries said last week that North Korea’s recent missile tests were destabilizing regional security.

Some experts say North Korea is using the weapon’s tests to pressure President Joe Biden’s administration to resume long-stalled nuclear talks as the pandemic puts further strain on an already battered economy. by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions.

The Biden administration has offered North Korea open talks, but has shown no willingness to ease sanctions without significant cuts to the country’s nuclear program.

The tests also have a technical component, allowing North Korea to hone its arsenal of weapons. One of the recently tested missiles – the Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile – is capable of reaching the US territory of Guam. It was the longest range weapon the North had tested since 2017.

North Korea appears to be suspending testing during the Winter Olympics in China, its most important ally and economic lifeline. But analysts believe North Korea will dramatically increase its weapons testing after the Olympics.

Recent tests have rattled Pyongyang’s neighbors in South Korea and Japan. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who helped set up historic talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019, said last month the tests were a a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and urged the North to cease “actions that create tension and pressure”.

The Security Council initially imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006. It tightened them in response to new nuclear tests and the country’s increasingly sophisticated nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

China and Russia, citing the North’s economic woes, have called for the lifting of sanctions such as those banning seafood exports and bans on its citizens working abroad and sending earnings home. .

Blinken arrived in Hawaii from Fiji, where he met with acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and other Pacific leaders to discuss regional issues, particularly the existential risk posed by climate change. It was the first visit by a US Secretary of State to Fiji since 1985.

He began his Pacific tour in Australia, where he met his Australian, Indian and Japanese counterparts. The four nations form the “Quad”, a bloc of Indo-Pacific democracies that was created to counter China’s regional influence.

Hayashi and Chung held a separate bilateral meeting on Saturday for about 40 minutes before seeing Blinken. Japan’s foreign ministry said it reaffirmed the importance of cooperating together and with the United States to respond to North Korea and achieve regional stability.

The ministry said they also “frankly” exchanged views on ongoing disputes between the two countries, including Korean wartime workers and the sexual abuse of Korean women forced into sexual servitude by the government. Imperial Japanese Army.

Blinken also met separately with Chung. He met Hayashi earlier this week in Australia.

———

Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

UK lifts all testing requirements for vaccinated travelers from today

February 11, 2022

Montana Economy

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LONDON — Vaccinated travelers can enter Britain without taking coronavirus tests from Friday, after the government removed one of the last restrictions imposed in the past two years in response to COVID-19.

UK residents and visitors who have received at least two doses of an approved coronavirus vaccine now only need to complete a passenger locator form before traveling to the UK. Unvaccinated people still need to be tested before and after arrival, but no longer need to self-isolate until they test negative.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the UK “now has one of the smoothest borders in the world – sending a clear message that we are open for business”.

Airlines and other travel companies hailed the change as a lifeline after two years of severely restricted travel. Andrew Flintham, chief executive of travel group Tui UK, said there was “huge pent-up demand for international travel” and people were rushing to book getaways for the February school holidays and the Easter holidays in ‘April.

Gatwick, London’s second-busiest airport, said it plans next month to reopen the second of its two terminals, which have been closed since June 2020.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle urged other countries to follow Britain’s “pragmatic approach”.

But some scientists fear the government is moving too fast. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government lifted most nationwide rules last month. Face masks are no longer compulsory in most indoor spaces in England, vaccination passports for entering nightclubs and large-scale events have been scrapped, as has the official advice to work from home. Other parts of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have also lifted most restrictions.

Johnson announced this week that he hopes to lift the latest restriction – mandatory self-isolation for people who test positive – by the end of February as part of a plan to live long-term with COVID- 19. Officials said the government plans to move from legal restrictions to advisory measures and treat the coronavirus more like the flu as it becomes endemic in the country.

Scientists expressed surprise at Johnson’s announcement. Tim Spector, an epidemiologist at Kings College London, said it was “more of a political statement than a scientific one”.

“There’s some justification for this and other countries are doing similar things, but it’s clearly a race for the government to say ‘Britain is first, Britain is first to in’. out, Britain has conquered omicron, our booster program is beating the world, etc., etc. he told Times Radio.

The reopening came as statistics showed the UK economy grew 7.5% more than expected in 2021, despite a slowdown due to omicron at the end of the year. The reimposition of some restrictions in response to the highly transmissible variant led to a contraction of 0.2% in December.

The Office for National Statistics said the growth followed a 9.4% contraction in 2020 as the pandemic brought large swaths of the economy to a standstill. The UK economy is now back to the size it was in February 2020, just before the novel coronavirus swept through the UK

Britain has the highest number of coronaviruses in Europe after Russia, with more than 159,000 officially recorded deaths. The country has seen a drop in both new infections and COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals since peaking in the omicron peak in early January.

Officials credited the government’s recall program with preventing the spike in omicron cases from causing serious stress to UK hospitals. In Britain, 84.6% of people aged 12 and over have received two doses of a vaccine and almost two-thirds have received a third booster shot.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

New science paper helps fishers guide policy

February 9, 2022

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The center seat of a fishing boat often doubles as a soapbox, where professional guides like me can spout frothy leads, dispense foolproof instructions, and proclaim our program as “the way.” But, when we are silent, we usually find the bow and stern occupied by people who inspire us to listen… and learn.

One of my most memorable days of listening and learning occurred two and a half years ago as I guided scientist Clint Muhlfeld, Ph.D. and journalist Chris Solomon on my native water, the North Fork of Montana’s Flathead River. Chris, on assignment with National Geographic Magazine, interviewed Clint and me about the impact of climate change on fishing.

As we discussed the decline of native trout populations, Clint, a research aquatic ecologist with the United States Geological Survey, discussed how warming glacial waters and changing stream flow patterns are good for the non-native rainbow trout, allowing their hybridization with native westslope cutthroat trout. He said the union could be detrimental to the persistence of native trout in one of North America’s most intact freshwater ecosystems.

At the time, Clint also gave us the scoop that 20,000 fish records collected over the past three decades were being compiled into a pending scientific paper on the impacts of climate change on native fish north of the Rockies.

Recently, Clint emailed me to let me know that the peer-reviewed article had been published. And, of course, the study, published in Science Advances, reveals how warming affects only native bull trout and cutthroat, offering new insights for resource managers.

Flathead Beacon editor Tristan Scott recently wrote an article articulating the findings. The cutthroat, he explains, has key genetic adaptations that allow it to withstand rising temperatures. But hybridization breaks down co-adapted gene complexes that are programmed for locally adapted traits, so climate-induced hybridization is likely to reduce their fitness and ability to adapt to changing climatic conditions like they have done this for millennia, even during warmer times. Meanwhile, it’s not the non-native species that are destroying bull trout in local streams and rivers, it’s that rivers with rising temperatures and less flow becoming uninhabitable for bull trout species. Arctic char threatened. The study shows us how climate change can directly and indirectly affect habitats and species interactions.

The document reflects higher level modeling to more accurately predict the future and gives us ammunition to fight to protect the resource. I say “we” because even though it is our elected leaders who set environmental policy, it is up to us, as stakeholders, to support these measures.

Good guiding is more than just shoveling water and selecting the appropriate sandfly models. Over the past decade, more and more guides have stepped up to witness the changes we have witnessed from headquarters, including altered runoff, reduced flow, species hybridization, damaged spawning, increased nutrient loads and water temperatures that are lethal to fish. It is therefore extremely encouraging to see a detailed report supporting conservation opportunities.

I’m proud to work on the cold water fishery which contributes nearly $650 million each year to our state’s economy. Healthy fish are essential to our economy, to the health of the ecosystem as a whole and to our cultural richness. That’s why fly fishing industry leaders nationwide are joining the conversations about green banking, electric vehicles, updating the power grid, sustainable agriculture, carbon neutrality and carbon pricing.

I’m grateful to my peers who have helped my fly shop, Lary’s Fly and Supply in Columbia Falls, achieve carbon neutrality and I’m thrilled that more fly shops are continuing this action. My business depends on clean rivers. And, as the parent of three adult children with whom I am fortunate enough to work, it is not possible for me to fly fish without addressing the climate crisis. Conversely, I would not understand the environmental impacts so directly without my family’s intimacy with the river.

In fly fishing, we work with thin margins, recognizing that environmental policy changes are also made at the margins. With approximately 50 million members of the outdoor community in the United States, we have a mega impact at those narrow margins when pushing lawmakers to approve solutions to the climate crisis.

Right now, that means expressing to the US Senate and President Joe Biden that the powerful and growing outdoor community wants climate provisions to remain in the Build Back Better bill, which is still under negotiation. There are simple ways to express it, including on the Citizen Climate Lobby website.

Equipped with scientific facts, Montana courage and mutual support, we are all at the center. We have listened, we have learned, and we have the authority and responsibility to guide our elected leaders toward strong climate policy to protect our livelihoods and our legacy.

Hilary Hutcheson is a fly fishing guide and owner of Lary’s Fly and Supply in Columbia Falls.

US Indictment: Chinese Company Stole Motorola’s Trade Secrets | national news

February 7, 2022

Montana Economy

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CHICAGO (AP) — An unsealed federal indictment Monday charges a Chinese telecommunications company with stealing technology from Illinois-based Motorola Solutions Inc. in another case underscoring longstanding fears about the China’s theft of vital trade secrets from the United States to bolster its own economy.

The Chicago filing charges Hytera Communications Corp., Ltd., with conspiracy to steal trade secrets, alleging that it recruited several Motorola employees into the scheme. They are accused of accessing Motorola’s internal database, then describing and even joking about plans to use the stolen equipment at Hytera.

The secrets relate to digital mobile radio technology developed by Motorola for walkie-talkie-like functionality on cell phones. For more than a decade, from 2007 to 2020, Hytera used thousands of stolen documents to accelerate its development of similar features, according to the indictment.

In a 2008 email cited in the indictment, an anonymous individual wrote to another: “We’re trying to grab everything we can. …Do you have anything in mind that you need while we’re still here? In another, someone writes “haha” after describing Hytera as copying Motorola technology. An email expresses concern, saying “some of our lies could cause problems once Motorola finds out.”

Hytera’s website says the company has 10 development centers in China, Germany, Britain, Spain and Canada. Shenzhen, China also says some of its two-way radios are used by security at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

A message seeking comment from Hytera left at its Canadian office was not returned.

The 21-count indictment also charges Hytera and individual suspects with possession or attempted possession of stolen trade secrets. The heavily redacted document does not identify other indicted defendants and a statement from the US Attorney’s Office in Chicago announcing the charges does not say whether any reside in the United States.

If found guilty, Hytera would face a criminal fine of three times the value of the stolen trade secrets and the individual defendants could go to jail. But US authorities are often unable to bring suspects to justice in cases involving Chinese companies because China does not want to hand them over.

A Chinese-American software developer, Hanjuan Jin, was convicted in 2012 of stealing secrets from Motorola. Jin, a naturalized US citizen, was acquitted of more serious charges of economic espionage. A federal judge later sentenced her to four years in prison, a sentence that prosecutors at the time said should send a message to those tempted to steal US trade secrets.

The new indictment does not name Jin. The statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office also makes no reference to her. However, many of the allegations in his case were similar to those made in the Hytera indictment.

At trial, prosecutors said Jin “led a double life” as a seemingly loyal company employee plotting to steal Motorola secrets. Even before downloading the Motorola files for several days in 2007, prosecutors said Jin was already working for China-based Sun Kaisens.

More than 1,000 confidential Motorola documents she stole, including her walkie-talkie function, were discovered during a random security check at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, where Jin had arrived with a one-way ticket to China.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Johnson: It’s time for Wyoming to expand Medicaid | Letters

February 6, 2022

Montana Economy

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I am one of those parents caring for a disabled adult child, who will probably be disabled for the rest of his life. He gets Medicare, not Medicaid, so when he has to go to the hospital, debt collectors follow him quickly.

But I support Medicaid expansion in Wyoming for more than personal reasons, and the American Cancer Society poll shows two-thirds of Wyoming residents agree with me. Cancer, heart, lung, leukemia and diabetes are also supporting expansion, as early detection and treatment can save lives and keep our neighbors out of debt. 25,000 of our low-income neighbors in Wyoming need health insurance.

Wyoming is just one of 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid. Our neighboring states have all done it. Montana expanded Medicaid in 2015 and found that the expansion paid for itself. The federal government pays 90% of the cost and the state pays 10%. In Montana, the positive fiscal impact on the state budget covers between 110% and 159% of the state’s share of its cost.

Montana has also found that Medicaid expansion strengthens the economy by creating jobs and supporting new economic activity. Like Montana, this will help Wyoming residents join the workforce and our low-income residents in food service, transportation, maintenance and construction stay in the workforce.

It supports local businesses by saving employers millions of dollars by providing private insurance. Medicaid expansion saves hospitals millions of dollars for unpaid care. Wyoming has some of the highest health care costs and insurance premiums in the nation due to unpaid care – our neighbors who come to the emergency room and have no insurance coverage. Nationally, hospitals in states that have not expanded Medicaid are 6 times more likely to close than those in expanding states.

In connection with the pandemic, our lawmakers keep talking about “medical freedom” but 25,000 of our neighbors in Wyoming don’t have medical freedom because they don’t have access to basic health care. It’s time for Wyoming to join Montana, Nebraska, Utah and Idaho who all benefit from expanding health care coverage to low-income residents.

Don’t look up: watch out for the workers! | Columnists

February 4, 2022

Montana Economy

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ROBBIE LIBEN

December is a time when the mountainous states winter under a cold blanket of snow. Or they should be. Denton, Montana and Superior, Colorado were destroyed by wildfires in December, when snow usually makes wildfires impossible. California’s year-round fire “season”, summer smoke in Montana, western drought, melting glaciers, rising sea levels; it is obvious that our climate is in serious crisis. The UN warns that “climate change is an existential threat to humanity”.

The Netflix movie “Don’t Look Up” (co-written by former Helena resident David Sirota) is a parable of the crisis. A comet, symbolizing climate change, is on a collision course with Earth and will wipe out human life when it hits, leaving a ghost planet behind. Spoiler Alert: In the film, the pursuit of profit prevents us from saving ourselves.

In real life, the government is taking action to stop climate change! Or it should be. Instead, both sides skillfully avoid the action. Republicans refuse to admit there is a problem. Democrats speak flowery words about climate protection, then work to destroy it. Senator Daines says preventing climate change will “undermine the free market”. Senator Tester is pushing for Keystone XL.

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The business world is mobilizing! On behalf of its shareholders. NorthWestern Energy is determined to build a gas-fired power plant in Laurel. BNSF buys MRL to make coal transportation cheaper. Missoula speculators are building a bitcoin mine in North Dakota that will require electricity from “a typical coal-fired power plant” to operate. Their CEOs are neither ignorant nor mean. They simply follow market imperatives. Anyone in their place would do the same. It is the problem.

Senator Daines says the shutdown of coal production “is a blow to the more than 35,000 oil, gas and coal jobs in Montana.” (We are for the jobs the comet will provide!) Coal and oil companies are holding their workers hostage. They will destroy communities like Colstrip if we try to fight climate change. Nothing will protect their workers and their communities from the brutality of the market. Is the problem that we shouldn’t be tackling climate change? Or does capitalism leave us with no viable way to do this?

The market will push other companies to recover these precious workers! Well no. A 750 megawatt wind farm is being built by NextEra Energy in eastern Montana. Steve Gross of the International Union of Mining Engineers of Montana says they only hire workers from out of state. It is not surprising that a wind company is as rapacious as a coal company. This is what capitalism looks like. NextEra does not come to the rescue of workers. Testers and Daines will fight harder to continue mining, resurrect Keystone XL, maintain fracking. And they risk succeeding for far too long. Simply saying that “renewable energy creates jobs” does not mean that energy workers who lose their jobs will get new ones. Let’s get rid of this fantasy. The more helpless and desperate workers are, the more power corporations have.

Gross complains that “clean energy developers…must do the right thing with workers and local communities.” No they don’t need at. Their only need is to maximize profits. It is we, the workers and the communities, who need it. In the marketplace, our needs don’t matter.

Montana is littered with ghost towns left abandoned by the businesses of yesteryear. Why would companies be expected to behave any differently now? In a truly democratic economy, our communities and our planet are more important than profit. Earth is not a ghost planet. Again. But the comet of the capitalists is future. It’s time to research. Together.

Robbie Liben, Organizer, Western MT Democratic Socialists of America.

Biden asked employers to speak out on vaccination mandates. Many have not yet rung the bell | national news

January 31, 2022

Montana Economy

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A ‘disappointed’ President Joe Biden issued a demand to the nation’s employers this month after the Supreme Court dealt a blow to his coronavirus strategy by blocking enforcement of his workplace vaccine requirement: “do the right thing.”

Biden was asking companies to impose their own vaccination mandates in the absence of the federal rule, which he called “vital common sense requirements for big business employees.” And weeks after the Supreme Court decision decisionmany have yet to weigh in.

“The Court has ruled that my administration cannot use the authority granted to it by Congress to demand this action, but that does not prevent me from using my voice as president to ask employers to do what it takes to protect the health and economy of Americans,” Biden said, calling on business leaders to “immediately join those who have already stepped up” in instituting vaccine requirements.

The demand may have become all the more real as last week the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency Biden appointed to implement the vaccine rule, officially announced that it was removal of requirementwhich would have covered some 84 million workers nationwide.

Political cartoons about Joe Biden

But while some companies heeded the president’s call or otherwise left already existing mandates in place in the weeks following the Supreme Court’s Jan. 13 ruling amid record coronavirus cases and hospitalizations so as the omicron variant increases, others take a different approach or stay mum on the subject altogether. And without the backing of a mandate at the federal level, business leaders simultaneously bear the responsibility and the obligation to enforce an administrative priority.

According to a January 19 survey by Gartner, a management consulting firm, nearly 40% of more than 250 large business executives surveyed had already implemented a vaccine mandate before the Supreme Court’s decision, while 35 additional % provided a possibility test for employees. But after the High Court ruling, 1 in 5 companies said they were likely to reconsider their vaccine or test rule, while just 4% intended to abandon their vaccine mandate altogether.

Yet, at the time of the survey, more than 40% of organizations had yet to communicate anything to their employees about how they are responding to the Supreme Court ruling.

Some companies had announced or implemented a vaccine requirement for some if not all employees long before the Biden administration’s proposed deadline, such as many airlines, Tyson Foods and CVS Health, among others, and appear likely to retain these mandates intact, in many cases reporting that a large proportion of their employees have already been vaccinated. Carhartt and Citigroup Inc. announced that they would maintain their demands despite the Supreme Court ruling.

Other companies tied their vaccination requirements to a return to the office, such as American Express, Goldman Sachs, Google, Lyft, Meta, Salesforce and Uber, some of which were delayed by omicron. And other companies, like Amazon, Target and Walmart appeared to be waiting to hear from the high court before deciding on general vaccine rules for their workers or were otherwise reluctant to enforce them and perhaps remain so.

And some companies that had previously announced the requirements began scrapping them altogether following the Supreme Court’s ruling. Starbucks made headlines when it reversed its vaccination policy after Supreme Court developments.

“We respect the court’s decision and will comply,” Starbucks chief operating officer John Culver wrote in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

General Electric also responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling by reversing its previous stance on vaccine or testing requirements, suspending its rule for the time being. And Stellantis – the automaker responsible for brands including Chrysler, Dodge and Ram – did the same for its US workers, but noted that most of those workers had already been vaccinated.

In addition to calling the federal vaccine rule a “federal overshoot,” critics of the vaccine requirement have cited worker shortages, such as among airline and Amtrak workers, as reason enough not to. not impose warrants. But one November survey consulting firm Willis Towers Watson of more than 500 companies in the United States found that only 3% of employers with vaccination requirements saw an increase in quits, while nearly a third of employers imposing rules on vaccines feared that this would encourage employees to leave.

Some local and state rules can also influence or complicate employers’ decisions. Nearly a dozen states have passed rules to prevent workplace vaccination mandates – seek to ban mandates altogether or impose specific restrictions on specific programs – including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida , Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, New York City late last month became the first to expand its vaccination mandates to all private sector employees — a move that goes further than the Biden administration. But outside of the country’s most populous city, demands for private company workers from local and state officials are rare.

The dilemma for employers comes amid a negative economic outlook for all Americans, despite high labor market ratings that appear to be overshadowed by inflation that has led to financial hardship for some. Only 23% describe economic conditions as good or excellent, while 77% think they are only fair or bad, according to a recent study Gallup poll. And about two-thirds of Americans think the economy is only getting worse.

Montana Tech’s Nursing Program Reaches New Heights | Local

January 30, 2022

Montana Economy

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It is often said that nursing is as much a calling as a profession, something that anyone touched by the drive, care and compassion of a nurse understands and appreciates.

Now, after two years of the COVID pandemic, millions more are realizing the critical role nurses play in healthcare.






Janet Coe, right, and Karen VanDaveer, a key professor in Montana Technological University’s nursing program, are pictured in a space that will become the Lesar Family Nursing Simulation Center on campus. The space is nearing completion with the goal of opening to students this year.


Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard


“It’s definitely increased respect for the profession,” said Karen VanDaveer, director of the nursing program at Montana Technological University in Butte. “I think there is a new respect for nursing and nursing education.

“We’ve been highlighted everywhere since 2020 when COVID started that it’s rewarding but hard work. So I think the general public has really looked at nursing and it’s increased respect.

Tech’s long-respected nursing program is also reaching new heights.

Currently, 126 students are enrolled in the clinical portion of the program and another 94 are taking nursing preparatory courses. That means 220 students are pursuing nursing as a degree, making it Tech’s largest program and department, VanDaveer said.

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Starting in 2020, Tech started adding 10 students per semester to the program and they’re adding up.

“We currently graduate about 40 students a year, but starting next year we’ll be graduating to 60,” VanDaveer said. “We have increased our enrollment and with this increase in enrollment, of course, we are increasing the number of graduates.”

Within the next few weeks, construction of a $2 million state-of-the-art nursing simulation center is expected to be completed at Tech. It will feature realistic robotic mannequins – or medical mannequins – that students use to learn and practice nursing skills and procedures.

Manikins were incorporated into Tech’s curriculum eight years ago, but the building’s new Center for Science and Engineering will take simulation to a new level.






Tech's New Nursing Facility Closes in on Opening

A partition in one of the instruction rooms separates the classes.


Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard


Among other things, this will allow scenarios such as pediatric simulation, obstetric simulation, and medical-surgical simulation to run at the same time, with faculty teaching students different areas of expertise.

The center has debriefing rooms where students can watch others perform simulations and discuss what went well and what didn’t. There are also medication rooms and suites where they can inquire about computer-based telehealth assessments.

Janet Coe, director of nursing simulation for the program, plans to teach at the center after spring break and it will be fully operational by the fall semester.

The center has been funded entirely by private donations, with David and Sherry Lesar and the Sunderland Foundation among the largest donors. David Lesar is the CEO of CenterPoint Energy and he and Sherry also donated $7 million to the nursing program in late October.






Tech's New Nursing Facility Closes in on Opening

Janet Coe, left, and Karen VanDaveer, key professor in Montana Technological University’s nursing program, are pictured with Allen Rapacz, architect at Schutz Foss Architects, in a space that will become a simulation room where students can work while being observed by peers and instructors.


Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard


This is the biggest giveaway ever given to Montana Tech. The department was renamed Sherry Lesar School of Nursing and the center is called the Lesar Family Nursing Simulation Center.

When the $7 million donation was announced, Sherry Lesar noted that “nursing is not just a profession, it’s a calling.”

“Good nurses don’t become good by accident,” she says. “It takes hard work, a good education, perseverance…and a strong desire to help others.”

The university hasn’t decided on specifics about how the money will be directed or spent, VanDaveer said, but it will expand the program.

“It will help us increase enrollment, keep the simulation center state-of-the-art, get access to additional resources that we didn’t have before,” she said. “We would like to use some of the money for student support…and for professional support for our faculty.”

VanDaveer said 100% of graduates get jobs, and the average income for nurses in Montana is $70,530. That equates to about $36 an hour, and as of this week there were 1,183 permanent nursing positions open in Montana.

There are shortages of nurses everywhere, so the profession offers great mobility. In other words, you can go to work wherever you want and there is diversity in what you can do.






Tech's New Nursing Facility Closes in on Opening

A control room allows peers and instructors to observe classes working in simulation labs.


Meagan Thompson, The Montana Standard


“If a student goes out and doesn’t like working in surgical medicine or acute care in a hospital setting, he can go to a clinic, he can go to mental health nursing, in Montana in our state hospital, he can go to nursing school,” VanDaveer said. “There’s so much diversity that people are finding their niches and what they really like.”

Health care is also a driver of the economy, nationally, in Montana and in Butte itself, and Tech’s nursing program attracts students from all over.

“They check what we have to offer, the quality of our program, our licensing exam results, jobs,” VanDaveer said. “And they look at our community and its smaller atmosphere.

“I’m native, but it’s a nice place to live and the community is very friendly and we have a lot to offer. And we have this great little gem up the hill called Montana Tech.

Stocks end turbulent week with biggest gains of the year | national news

January 28, 2022

Montana Economy

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Wall Street ended a volatile week of trading on Friday with a late afternoon buying spree that gave major stock indices their biggest gains of the year and ended their three-week streak of defeats.

The S&P 500 rose 2.4%, with almost all of it in the final hour of trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.7% and the Nasdaq jumped 3.1%.

The strong finish marked a reversal for the indices, which had all been in the red earlier in the day. The Nasdaq pulled off the biggest about-face, recovering from a 0.9% deficit. Friday was just the latest in a series of sudden up and down moves this week.

Markets have been jittery as investors try to gauge how aggressively the Federal Reserve will act to ease its historic support for markets and the economy. There will likely be more volatility ahead as investors closely monitor the impact of interest rate hikes on the broader economy and financial markets.

“I don’t think we’re off the hook yet when it comes to this type of frenzied market behavior,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

The S&P 500 rose 105.34 points to 4,431.85. The Dow gained 564.69 points to 34,725.47. The Nasdaq gained 417.79 points to 13,770.57.

The latest gains come at the end of the week as investors watched the index for what market watchers call a “correction,” which is when an index loses more than 10% of its value against at an all-time high. The index is now 7.6% lower than the last record reached on January 3.

Bond yields fell slightly. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 1.78% from 1.81% on Thursday evening.

Investors expect the Fed to start raising interest rates in March and now expect five hikes or more of a quarter point each as the most likely path for the central bank this year. The sentiment follows the Fed’s latest statement and comments from Chairman Jerome Powell that inflation is “slightly worse” than it was in December. The Fed also plans to phase out its bond purchases in March and is expected to start reducing the size of its balance sheet at some point, a move that has a similar effect to a rate hike.

Investors expect the first rate hikes to come in March.

Powell acknowledged that high inflation that is squeezing businesses and consumers is not loosening its grip and that could force the Fed to act more aggressively to raise interest rates.

The latest set of corporate results showed companies are still feeling the pinch from supply chain issues, raw material costs and other inflationary pressures.

Oreo cookie maker Mondelez fell 2.6% after issuing its latest inflation warning hurting operations in North America. KLA, which makes equipment for chipmakers, fell 0.8% and computer hard drive maker Western Digital fell 9.1% after giving equally disappointing updates on the pressure of the ‘inflation.

Other government reports also show that consumers are facing higher prices and may be discouraging spending. A measure of prices that is closely tracked by the Fed rose 5.8% last year, the biggest increase since 1982. The Commerce Department report also said consumer spending fell 0.6 % in December, with purchases of cars, electronics and clothing falling. .

Inflation worries and worries about the impact of rising interest rates converged this week with worries about a potential conflict between Ukraine and Russia that could drive up energy prices. Conflict could also distract nations from focusing on the lingering virus pandemic, which continues to threaten economic growth, with each wave increasing COVID-19 cases.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

MT Economic Seminar Highlights Growth and State Challenges

January 27, 2022

Montana Economy

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HELENA — Economists say there’s reason to expect another strong economic year in Montana, but challenges like housing and labor shortages aren’t going away.

The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research is hitting the road this winter for its annual Economic Outlook Seminar – sharing its latest economic data and forecast for the state. On Wednesday, analysts took the tour to the Delta Colonial hotel in Helena.

BBER Director Patrick Barkey said he expects at least two more years of above-trend growth in the state and in Lewis and Clark County. He said that for years Helena’s economy was relatively stable, but its growth started to warm up even before the pandemic.

“I’m not sure we understand all of this,” he said. “It’s the real wildcard that has shifted employment from Lewis and Clark County to the level of growth closer to Missoula, Flathead and Yellowstone.”

This growth comes with challenges, including a tight labor market. Montana’s unemployment rate has fallen to a very low 2.5%, but the overall percentage of adults actively working or looking for work is lower than it was before the pandemic. Barkey said if labor force participation returned to pre-pandemic levels, that would mean 13,000 more workers available.

One of the reasons for the low rate of participation in the labor market is that older workers do not take other jobs. Federal data shows that the participation rate for people 55 and older has declined by 5% since the pandemic.

The cost of living has also increased. Barkey said the influx of federal spending and other government programs after the pandemic should boost Helena’s economy in the short term. However, he argued that the burst of stimulus also contributed to inflation, as it led to continued demand even as economic output fell during the height of COVID.

The main topic, however, was the need for more affordable housing. This year’s seminar is entitled “Where Housing Is Headed”.

Barkey argued that the huge spike in demand over the past two years has only exacerbated existing housing problems in Montana — particularly that communities hadn’t built enough housing to meet the needs. needs.

“It has accelerated the problem to the point where even people who are not in the market – even people who already own homes, were making their payments, they are not affected by price increases – have seen the impact of the housing shortages in their locality. markets,” he said. “Why? Because their schools can’t hire teachers, because the company they work for can’t grow.

Data shows that home prices nationwide have risen about 20% in 2021. This has been significantly higher in parts of Montana, particularly Gallatin and Flathead counties.

Cathy Burwell, President and CEO of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce, says she has seen a growing trend of people moving from the Bozeman area to Helena in search of more affordable housing. .

“We think the prices are outrageously high right now,” she said. “They’re like a Californian coming to Montana; they think it’s a hell of a deal.

An estimated 350 new single-family homes began construction in Lewis and Clark County last year. However, Burwell said they would need 450-500 just to keep up with demand.

“Builders are working as fast as they can,” she said. “They said if they start a special house, it’s sold before the foundation dries.”

During Wednesday’s presentation, those in attendance also heard a panel discussion on the housing issue, including State Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad; Liz Mogstad, director of affordable housing for the Rocky Mountain Development Council; and Helena City Manager Rachel Harlow-Schalk.

Mogstad wondered if it was possible to build affordable housing in this market climate without subsidies or subsidies. She said the past two years had been difficult for their housing programs – especially after the eviction moratorium was instituted, when she said more than half of the residents at three of their properties had quit. to pay their rent.

“I think it was a good intention that got a bit out of control,” Mogstad said.

Jones, who owns a number of rental properties, echoed that concern, and he said the cost of construction and maintenance had skyrocketed. He argued that the housing problem is a “supply” problem and that subsidies will not solve it.

Harlow-Schalk said one of the biggest barriers to affordable housing projects is building the infrastructure needed to serve them. She said the influx of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act will help them resolve the long backlog of water and sewer projects and provide new services for the affordable housing development planned next to the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer.

Helena was the second city to host the seminar this year, after Great Falls. They will also visit Missoula, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Kalispell, Lewistown and Havre this winter.

Michigan awards $824 million in incentives for GM’s electric vehicle battery factories | national news

January 25, 2022

Montana Economy

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Economic Development Board on Tuesday approved $824 million in incentives and assistance for General Motors Co. to set up electric vehicle and battery factories in its home state, creating up to 4,000 jobs.

The Detroit-based automaker plans to spend up to $4 billion to convert and expand its Orion Township assembly plant to make electric pickup trucks and $1.5-2.5 billion to build a third plant of battery cells in the United States with a joint venture partner in Lansing.

The package was unveiled and authorized by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board. It includes a $600 million grant to GM and Ultium Cells, the venture between the automaker and LG Energy Solution, and a $158 million tax break for Ultium. The council also approved $66.1 million to help a local electric utility and township upgrade infrastructure at the battery plant site.

“The move to electrification is truly revolutionary, and investment decisions made now will have positive or negative impacts on regions for decades to come. The importance of securing this investment to both the local economy and the broader state economy cannot be overstated,” state economic development officials wrote in a memo asking for the incentives. . reductions.

GM and Ultium, they said, considered multiple states for the new battery plant. GM previously considered Michigan for other battery plants, but chose Ohio and Tennessee instead.

GM CEO Mary Barra planned to announce Michigan’s spending at an early morning press conference near the Capitol with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, state lawmakers and others.

The development came months after Michigan missed out on three Ford Motor Co. battery plants and an electric vehicle assembly plant that were placed in Kentucky and Tennessee. The governor and legislature recently set aside $1 billion to fund major commercial projects, two-thirds of which are for GM facilities.

GM has set a goal of selling only electric passenger vehicles by 2035.

———

Krisher reported from Detroit.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Massive tax cuts won’t solve Iowa’s population problems

January 23, 2022

Montana Economy

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I came across a statistical tidbit the other day that will probably surprise a lot of people.

US Census Bureau figures show that between 1900 and 2000, the state with the least population growth, by percentage, was Iowa.

Read that again.

No state experienced lower population growth between 1900 and 2000, by percentage, than Iowa. Not North Dakota. Not Montana. Not Wyoming. Not just any other state.

Census statistics show that Iowa’s population grew by 31% during this period. While that might sound like perfectly healthy long-term growth, the next closest state in the rankings was Nebraska. And its growth rate was nearly double that of Iowa.

The number of people living in Iowa increased from 2,231,853 in 1900 to 2,926,324 in 2000.

The states closest to Iowa’s 31% are Nebraska (60%), Vermont (77%), Missouri (80%) and Kansas (83%).

Other neighboring states’ growth rates were South Dakota (88%), Minnesota (181%), Wisconsin (159%) and Illinois (158%).

At the other end of the ranking, the increase in population in the fastest growing state was breathtaking. That was in Nevada, which went from 42,335 people in 1900 to 1,998,257 in 2000. That’s a 4,620% increase.

The demographic trend in Iowa during the 20th century was not surprising, given the enormous technological transformation that occurred in our main economic activity, agriculture.

Farmers in Iowa switched from horse-drawn plows and harvesters to self-propelled tractors and combines. Mechanization allows farmers to do in hours what would have taken their ancestors days, meaning fewer people are needed to work the land.

This advance continues, with continued implications for the people of Iowa.

This month, for example, John Deere announced that it would begin delivering fully autonomous tractors from its Waterloo plant to customers later this year. Instead of having farmers/drivers sitting in the cab operating these machines, these new rigs will use cameras, computers and GPS technology to navigate fields without human hands on the wheel.

Yes, much of Iowa’s sluggish population growth has occurred due to inevitable changes in our rural economy. But it’s time for Iowa to have a serious discussion about the demographic ramifications of some actions by Iowa lawmakers over the past few decades.

When Republican leaders talk about making our state more attractive to citizens and businesses, they’re quick to bring up the tax cuts passed by the Legislature in recent years — and even the tax cuts they promise to approve this year. .

Small tax bills are certainly popular. But the tax-relief program misses something at least as important:

People’s decisions about where they will live go beyond the number of income tax brackets and whether the state tax system is fixed or progressive. Our difficulty recruiting people to this state and the loss of many of our brightest young adults to other states – a phenomenon called “brain drain” – are driven by factors that tax practitioners fail to grasp. or choose not to address.

It doesn’t help Iowa cling to people or make itself attractive to visitors, when rivers and lakes are made unsafe for recreation by agricultural pollution or when that contamination bans the state’s beaches. to summer recreation.

It doesn’t help Iowa cling to the people when our top leaders make grim accusations that educators and librarians aren’t motivated by what’s in the best interests of Iowa’s children.

It doesn’t help Iowa cling to people or make itself attractive to visitors when one of the state’s true gems, our 83 state parks, is suffering from deferred maintenance and routine daily maintenance that has been reduced.

It doesn’t help Iowa hang on to people if the government puts the interests of trucking companies ahead of the interests of families whose loved ones have been killed or maimed by negligent truckers. Leaders in our state governments trust Iowans to do the right thing during the pandemic, but those same leaders aren’t confident that Iowans will do the right thing when they sit on juries to decide the prosecution for such accidents.

It does not help the retention or recruitment of the people of Iowa when state appropriations for our 327 K-12 school districts, and for our community colleges and state universities, fail to reach not keep up with inflation – or worse.

Cutting state revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars has an inevitable consequence. There is no magic wand that will enable legislators to avoid these consequences.

If lawmakers want to make major cuts to the revenue side of the budget, they’ll have to make offsetting cuts to appropriations — but those appropriations have been earmarked for things that, taken together, make Iowa a more attractive place to live and work and visit.

Black Mississippi senators protest vote on race theory bill | national news

January 21, 2022

Montana Economy

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JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Black lawmakers walked out in protest Friday and withheld their vote as the Mississippi Senate passed a bill that would ban schools from teaching critical race theory.

The state superintendent of education said critical race theory was not taught in Mississippi schools and lawmakers had provided no evidence to prove it.

Republicans said the theory teaches “victimization,” while Democrats said the ban could stifle discussion of Mississippi’s racist history.

“This bill is not morally right,” Democratic Senator Barbara Blackmon of Canton, who is black, said during the debate.

The bill’s main sponsor, Republican Senator Michael McLendon de Hernando, who is white, said hundreds of voters told him they heard about the theory on the national news and they didn’t want it. it is taught to their children.

McLendon struggled to define critical race theory when asked about it. But he said: ‘Systematic racism should not be taught to our children.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines how racism has shaped public policy and institutions such as the legal system, and how these have perpetuated white dominance in society.

Republicans across the country have been fundraising for months claiming that critical race theory is a threat and that several Republican-run states have banned or restricted the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts. through laws or administrative actions.

Republicans control the Mississippi House and the Senate. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn are among GOP leaders who have publicly said critical race theory is harmful.

Black senators left the Mississippi Senate chamber ahead of the vote on Senate Bill 2113. It passed 32 to 2, with the only votes against the bill coming from white Democrats.

The bill will be sent back to the House for further work.

“Critical race theory” is in the title of the bill, but the main text of the bill does not define the term. The bill states that no school, community college, or university can teach that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion, or origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

“I’m trying to find the evil in this language, and I don’t see it,” said Republican Senator Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who is white.

McDaniel said the bill would have been considered “the most dynamic civil rights legislation in the history of this state” had it been introduced in the 1950s. the state legislature was all-white, and blacks faced violent repercussions for attempting to vote.

Democratic Sen. John Horhn of Jackson, who is black, questioned whether the bill could prevent schools from teaching about the late U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland of Mississippi, who led an effort to block the anti-lynching legislation in 1948, or the Sovereignty Commission, a state spy agency created in 1956 to support a system of white supremacy. The commission was abolished in 1977.

Horhn said critical race theory examines the impact of race and law on the economy.

“The whole situation of it is based on the foundation of this country and some of the precepts that we as a country have implicitly or explicitly accepted – chief among which we have justified slavery because the powers that judge black people as racially inferior,” Horhn said, “And a lot of our laws, a lot of our systems, a lot of our customs, a lot of our practices have been impacted by that.”

Democratic Sen. David Blount of Jackson, who is white and voted against the bill, asked McLendon whether Mississippi should ban other things schools don’t teach, like whether the sun revolves around the Earth .

“We trust our teachers to teach,” Blount said. “And we don’t need to pass laws to ban what isn’t done.”

————

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Speed ​​Bumps – Data and Definitions Hinder Beer Wholesalers’ Campaign Against Human Trafficking – Good Beer Hunting

January 20, 2022

Montana Economy

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Most experts agree that precise figures on human trafficking are almost impossible to verify. Sociologist and professor at George Washington University Ronald Weitzer written in May 2014 edition of Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences“None of the allegations of trafficking – enormous scale, growing problem, classified as a criminal enterprise, the most prevalent type – has been substantiated. It is impossible to satisfactorily count (or even estimate) the number of people involved or the magnitude of the profits within an illicit, clandestine, and underground economy at the macro – national or international level.

Collecting reliable statistics on human trafficking presents several challenges. The most important of these is the very definition of human trafficking. Different organizations use different definitions of human trafficking that encompass various acts, such as:

  • child sexual abuse

  • Forced migration (When people are forced to migrate by coercive circumstances, whether man-made or natural disaster.)

  • Exploitative domestic work (Like housekeepers or nannies who are forced to work long hours for less than minimum wage.)

  • bonded labor (People who work for little or no pay to pay off debts or advances, for example, to pay off a contractor who lent them money to travel to another country to work.)

The NBWA uses the Department of Homeland Security’s definition: “Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of work or commercial sex act.” This definition does not require that the transportation or transit constitute traffic.

It’s a broad definition that could possibly include everything from wage theft to child prostitution to illegally employed babysitters. Yet the NBWA’s partner in its campaign, a faith-based organization in Atlanta called Street Grace, has a mission focused solely on fighting “commercial sexual exploitation of children.” He does this through many initiatives including church and religious group outreach, law enforcement training, youth programs and street-level outreach.

As seen in the formation of the NBWA video, this creates a situation where the statistics on human trafficking in the world are mainly linked to the notion of sexual abuse of children. These statistics immediately follow the information on child sexual abuse in the United States, without any clarification of how the two are distinct.

But the two are different. Professor Janie A. Chuang notes in one piece from 2017 for the American Journal of International Law that groupings of categories and broad definitions create difficulties for people who want to engage in anti-trafficking efforts: “But what exactly is everyone trying to fight? Notwithstanding the global consensus that trafficking is something to get rid of, the field of counter-trafficking is a striking ‘soft spot’ when it comes to defining the legal parameters of the concept. … The confusion of definitions has resulted in the indiscriminate confusion of legal concepts, heated battles over how best to solve the problem, and a growing crowd of actors fervently seeking to abolish any conduct considered “trafficking”.

Not only does a fuzzy definition of human trafficking make statistics difficult to discern, it can also hamper efforts to combat real human trafficking. If everything from an underpaid immigrant landscaper to a child forced to be photographed for pornography constitutes “human trafficking,” then what, precisely, do distributors need to watch out for in their work? day-to-day ?

Ben E. Keith Company, a wholesaler based in Fort Worth, Texas, says its employees have not encountered any cases of human trafficking since they began participating in anti-trafficking training more than 100 years ago. three years.

“Fortunately, our employees have not encountered any potential cases to date, but they continue to remain vigilant,” Ben E. Keith legislative affairs director Alex Weaver said in an email.

The NBWA acknowledges that it cannot provide statistics on the number of cases of human trafficking that its efforts have uncovered. The training module teaches distributor employees to alert law enforcement or the national human trafficking hotline to what they interpret as suspected abuse. Because these calls are anonymous, they cannot be quantified. The NBWA also indicates that it did not ask distributor members or their employees how they use this training in order to maintain the anonymity of the report.

“A question we are asked is: ‘What is the impact? How many cases has this stopped? “The thing is, the hotline and the reporting is anonymous and that’s important because especially in our industry, there’s a concern that some of the places where there may be suspicious behavior are accounts or customers,” Donar says. “There are therefore no examples of saying: So-and-so made a report and an arrest was made. We cannot designate him, because he is anonymous.

Some state-level efforts track the data, although the NBWA does not aggregate it into national statistics. For example, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) says that since it began educating companies to spot and report suspected cases of human trafficking in 2018, it has received a +275% increase in reports. provided directly to the Commission. (The TABC itself collects reports of human trafficking through its online Alcohol Industry Management System portal.)

According to a January 2022 announcement of the Wholesaler Beer Distributors of Texas, “at least 287 victims” have been identified and rescued, and more than a dozen TABC licenses have been canceled related to human trafficking. The TABC did not provide requested clarifications on its efforts, including:

  • Why the agency receives reports of suspected human trafficking

  • If these complaints are also directed to law enforcement

  • If he could provide more details on the dozen licenses he revoked

Ben E. Keith started his anti-trafficking training in 2018 in collaboration with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Since then, it has trained nearly all of its employees in anti-trafficking efforts and is working with Texas wholesale beer distributors to expand training in the state. A company spokesperson said it did not ask its employees about their feelings about the training.

“It’s something that everyone feels is close to their heart in some way,” Weaver says. “Since it’s such an important position… I had no idea it was such a big deal out back in these stores and some of these guys were going to see it first hand. I never really thought about that. So when this came to our attention, we wanted to make sure our sales people knew about it as well and knew if something weird was going on, that they knew how to figure it out.

Tech and banking stocks drag Wall St to new 2022 low | national news

January 18, 2022

Montana Economy

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Tech companies led a broad sell-off on Wall Street on Tuesday as bond yields jumped amid renewed concerns that the Federal Reserve will act more aggressively than expected to fight rising inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 1.8%, with around 90% of stocks in the benchmark closing in the red. The Nasdaq, which is heavily weighted in tech stocks, slipped 2.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.5%.

Losses in major indexes rose this month as rising inflation and the latest surge from the virus pandemic urge investors to be cautious.

Heightened expectations of a rate hike from the Fed kept Treasury yields higher. The 10-year Treasury hit 1.87% on Tuesday, the highest since January 2020. It was at 1.77% on Friday evening.

Investors are now pricing in a greater than 86% chance that the Fed will raise short-term rates at its meeting of policymakers in March. A month ago, they saw less than a 47% chance of that happening, according to CME Group.

The 10-year yield “continues to climb painfully, under an increasingly aggressive Federal Reserve,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. “Until last weekend, I hadn’t seen any speculation of two rate hikes at the March meeting, and now you’re starting to hear that chatter.”

The S&P 500 fell 85.74 points to 4,577.11, the Dow fell 543.34 points to 35,368.47 and the Nasdaq fell 386.86 points to 14,506.90. The indices all hit new lows for the year. The Nasdaq bore the brunt of the losses, shedding 7.3% this month. That puts the index within 2.7% of a correction, Wall Street speaks of when a stock or index falls 10% or more from its last high. The S&P 500 is down nearly 4% for the month after hitting an all-time high on the first trading day of the year.

The latest wave of selling comes as Wall Street tries to predict how much the Fed will raise interest rates and how quickly. The central bank has accelerated its plan to reduce bond purchases and plans to raise interest rates sooner and more often than Wall Street had expected.

The Fed is under pressure to reduce inflation, which surged last month at its fastest pace in nearly 40 years. Meanwhile, the labor market rebounded from last year’s brief but intense coronavirus slump, leaving the unemployment rate at a pandemic low of 3.9% last month, giving the central bank more than leeway to curb the unprecedented support it has provided to the economy. since the pandemic hit.

While higher rates could help stem the high inflation sweeping the world, they would also signal an end to the conditions that have put financial markets in “easy mode” for many investors since the start of 2020.

Higher rates also make stocks of high-flying tech companies and other expensive growth stocks less attractive. Big tech stocks, which have an outsized influence on the S&P 500 due to their lofty valuations, have weighed heavily on the market this year as investors shifted cash in anticipation of rising rates.

The sector was the biggest drag on the S&P on Tuesday. Apple fell 1.9% and chipmaker Nvidia fell 3.9%.

Banks also weighed heavily on the market after Goldman Sachs said its fourth-quarter profit fell 13% from a year earlier, largely due to the high salaries Goldman pays to staff. Goldman’s results echoed those of JPMorgan and Wells Fargo last week, which also reported lower profits and higher expenses due to higher employee compensation costs.

Goldman shares fell 7%, while JPMorgan fell 4.2%. Wells Fargo was down 2.4%.

Shares of small companies, a sign of confidence in economic growth, also lost ground. The Russell 2000 Index fell 66.23 points, or 3.1%, to 2,096.23.

Energy futures rose significantly amid supply fears following an attack on an oil facility in the UAE capital. The price of U.S. crude oil rose 1.9% to $85.43 a barrel, a 7-year high. The rise in oil prices gave some energy stocks a boost. Exxon Mobil rose 1.7%.

Investors returning after U.S. markets closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday also reviewed the latest batch of corporate earnings and trading news on Tuesday.

Activision Blizzard jumped 25.9% on news of a blockbuster deal. Microsoft, which fell 2.4%, is buying the maker of games like “Call of Duty” and “Candy Crush” for $68.7 billion.

Investors have a busy week of earnings reports ahead. The focus will be on how companies in different industries are dealing with persistent supply chain issues. Many companies have already warned of the impact on their finances and operations, despite rising consumer goods prices to offset the impact.

Bank of America, UnitedHealth and United Airlines report their results on Wednesday. American Airlines, Union Pacific and Netflix release their results on Thursday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

North Macedonia. Centre-left government approved by parliament | national news

January 16, 2022

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SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s parliament on Sunday approved a new Social Democrat-led coalition cabinet, with two ethnic Albanian parties as junior partners.

The Cabinet won the vote of confidence 62-46 in the 120-member legislature. He enjoys slightly wider support than the previous government of Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev. The difference is that the ethnic Albanian Alternative party which joined the centre-left coalition and was rewarded with three of its four lawmakers securing cabinet posts.

The new Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovachevski, 47, was deputy finance minister in the Zaev government. Zaev, also 47, resigned after heavy losses in local elections last October.

The centre-right opposition party VMRO-DPMNE voted against, insisting that only a new election would give legitimacy to the government.

Kovachevski said he would focus on dealing with economic insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic and soaring energy prices.

“The effects of the pandemic and the energy crisis remain a major challenge for the economy…The government will develop a response plan to support the population and the economy to cope with the consequences of the energy crisis… and protect citizens from price shocks,” Kovachevsky told parliament.

Twelve of the new cabinet’s 21 ministerial posts went to the Social Democrats and nine to ethnic Albanian junior partners. Eight ministers from the previous Cabinet have been replaced, including Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska and Health Minister Venko Filipce, replaced by Slavyanka Petrovska and Bekim Sali respectively. On the other hand, Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski and Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi retained their posts.

During his tenure as prime minister, Zaev secured North Macedonia’s NATO membership after ending a decades-long dispute with Greece over the country’s name. But he was unable to materialize European Union membership, largely because of a historic dispute with another EU neighbor, Bulgaria.

Kovacevski said he would intensify talks with Bulgaria with the aim of letting North Macedonia formally begin EU membership talks, but would not negotiate any identity issues. Bulgaria wants North Macedonia to recognize that the Macedonian language has Bulgarian roots and that the Macedonian nation was created after World War II.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov is due to visit North Macedonia on Tuesday.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Minimum wage is not a fair wage | News, Sports, Jobs

January 15, 2022

Montana Economy

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Landis Larson

West Fargo

This week, some of the lowest paid workers in the Midwest will see their next salary increase, but not here in North Dakota. Montana, Minnesota, and South Dakota all have inflation-indexed minimum wage laws, which means that when inflation rises, the minimum wage also rises. Minimum wage workers will now receive $9.20 in MT, $9.95 in SD and $10.33 in MN. ND’s minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 for fourteen years due to legislative inaction.

Some say “There are no jobs in North Dakota that pay minimum wage.” If so, why do such powerful interests still oppose raising it? There are quite a few people working for minimum or near minimum wage in our state. Many people in the service industry even work for an hourly wage below the minimum wage of $4.86 per hour.

Others protest “The cost of goods and services will increase.” If no one is paying minimum wage, what are you worried about? In fact, in study after study, minimum wage increases have done the exact opposite; no tangible increase in the cost of goods and services. Instead, more money in workers’ pockets means more spending in the local economy.

And there’s always the boasting naysayer, “It’s because the cost of living in ND is lower.” No it is not. The cost of living in ND, MN and SD is about as close to the national average as you can get.

All workers should be paid a fair wage for their work. In 2022, $7.25 is not a fair wage and should be increased. Also, if I’m wrong and there are no minimum wage jobs in ND, what’s the harm?

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US Supreme Court splits over vaccination mandates

January 13, 2022

Montana Economy

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The United States Supreme Court has thrown out one of President Biden’s vaccination warrants while upholding another.

Today, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from implementing its Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 vaccination mandate on businesses companies with 100 or more employees.

However, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court allowed the Biden administration to implement its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) COVID-19 vaccine mandate on healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funds.

Reactions came from Montana Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Matt Rosendale.

Daines said, “President Biden’s tenure in the private sector is an extreme federal overreach, and I’m glad to see the Supreme Court step in to clarify that. Biden’s mandate on private business would have forced Montanese out of work and forced some businesses to close. Although I am pro-vaccine, I am strongly anti-mandate. It should be a decision between Montanese and their doctor, not the federal government,” Daines said. “I am disappointed that the Court did not block Biden’s vaccination mandate for healthcare workers. This mandate threatens to close hospitals in Montana and limit patient access to essential care. I will continue to work in Congress to protect our healthcare heroes from this harmful mandate. »

Rosendale had a similar reaction to both decisions.

“I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court block Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate on private employers and their workers. This is an important victory for Montana businesses and the freedom of Montana residents to make their own medical decisions. However, no American should be coerced into taking the vaccine, and the court is only half right,” Rep. Rosendale said. ‘I am extremely disappointed that the Supreme Court has allowed the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate on healthcare workers to take effect, which will exacerbate the healthcare worker shortages we are already experiencing in the world. Montana. I will continue to fight the Biden administration’s excessive and overbearing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, wherever they arise.

KGVO has not heard from Montana senior senator Jon Tester on the matter.

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Groups file complaints against hebgen dam malfunction

January 9, 2022

Montana Economy

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BOZEMAN – A citizen complaint was filed against NorthWestern Energy for a malfunction of the Hebgen lake dam in December 2021.

The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) said dam owner Northwestern Energy in Butte should be held responsible for the incident. The environmental group is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to demand that Northwestern pay for an independent investigation into the dam’s malfunction. The incident reduced the flow of water to the Madison River by 57% in fifteen minutes.

MEIC says the federal agency should consider creating a fund to support ecological restoration projects on the river and a long-term watershed impact study.

The MEIC was joined in the complaint by Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and the Madison River Foundation.

Northwestern Energy told MTN that it completed a $ 40 million modernization of the dam in 2018 and has already submitted a report to FERC.

From MEIC:

BOZEMAN, MT – Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, Montana Environmental Information Center, and Madison River Foundation have filed a citizen complaint [uppermissouriwaterkeeper.org] Jan. 5, 2022, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding NorthWestern Energy’s failure to meet the Hebgen Dam license conditions that resulted in the Nov. 30 dewatering on the Upper Madison River.

“This formal complaint is the way to hold NorthWestern Energy accountable for its dam failure, a thorough third party investigation of the impacts, and targeted action to restore the integrity of the river and downstream communities,” Guy said. Alsentzer, executive director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. . “Two significant flow cuts in fifteen years at the northwestern Hebgen Dam are sounding the alarm for additional monitoring and redundancy needed to protect the river’s ecology and downstream economies that directly depend on stable outflows. “

NorthWestern Energy, owner and operator of the dam under Federal Permit No. P-2188, issued by FERC, violated two permit conditions when the valve well ruptured and significantly reduced outflows from the Hebgen Reservoir . The provisions violated were (1) to maintain a continuous minimum flow of 600 cubic feet per second (cfs) at USGS No. 6-388 near the Kirby Ranch, and (2) to limit flow changes from the Hebgen Dam to no more than 10% per day throughout the year. The USGS gauge located at the Hebgen Dam measured the outflow from 648 cfs to 278 cfs in 15 minutes (a 57% reduction) and a maximum reduction to 216 cfs (a 67% reduction) in a period of 24 time . Likewise, Madison River flows fell below the item 403 low of 600 cfs at Kirby Ranch, eventually falling to 395 cfs.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper, the Montana Environmental Information Center, and the Madison River Foundation are calling on FERC to require Northwestern Energy to fund a full third-party investigation into the malfunction and hold the licensee accountable for taking action to ensure that this tragedy is an isolated event. .

“As a utility, NorthWestern Energy must be held accountable for the mismanagement of Montana’s natural resources, especially our water,” said Derf Johnson, lawyer and director of clean water at MEIC. “NorthWestern must cooperate fully with a full and transparent investigation, mitigate the impacts on the environment, the community and the economy, take action to ensure this does not happen again and pay to resolve the issue out of the pockets of its shareholders.” . “

If the FERC determines that there are good reasons to investigate, the complaint will trigger a formal process, overseen by the FERC, investigating the failure of the dam and the adequacy of Northwestern’s oversight and failures of the dam. equipment that led to one of Montana’s most famous blue ribbon trout streams drying up during critical spawning season. Another outcome could be the creation of targeted funding to support ecological restoration projects and help affected stakeholders downstream.

“We are committed to our members, the Montanans and the Madison River, to protect its vital flows and to be responsible stewards of maintaining a healthy watershed,” said Jonathan Malovich, Executive Director of the Madison River Foundation. “This is just a step in the right direction for many more to come to change the way we can all protect and manage the water that flows along the Madison River.”

Because the long-term ecological and economic impacts of the draining of the Hebgen Dam on the Upper Madison River may remain unknown for years to come, it is essential that a formal, non-partisan process asks these questions and seeks lasting solutions. right now. The filing of the complaint is separate from the ongoing public correspondence in late December 2021 between Northwestern Energy and FERC regarding the Upper Madison Dam failure and is specifically focused on addressing ecological degradation.

From ENO:

An investigation is underway into the failure of the Hebgen dam valve on November 30.

Since taking possession of 11 dams in Montana in 2014, NorthWestern Energy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the system. These investments increased production capacity, improved fish passage through the dam system, modernized infrastructure and provided more recreational opportunities. This investment includes a $ 40 million upgrade to the Hebgen Dam completed in 2018.

On November 30, a component of a gate of the Hebgen dam – installed in 2015 during the upgrade project – failed.

NorthWestern Energy has submitted reports to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the failure and, in conjunction with our Federal Regulatory Agency and others, is taking deliberate steps to ensure a thorough analysis of the gate component. The analysis, based on sound engineering principles, will be used to understand why this relatively new part failed and to establish corrective actions.

NorthWestern Energy will also work with resource agency biologists and others to develop scientific studies to assess its effects on fishing.

RELATED:

The malfunction of the Hebgen dam causes a drop in the water level; brings the community together to save the trout


Pandemic Adds Time, Cost Of Reconstruction After Colorado Wildfire | national news

January 7, 2022

Montana Economy

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LOUISVILLE, Colo. (AP) – The 23-year-old home of Rex and Barba Hickman near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains has been reduced to a blackened heap by the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history.

Before the December 30 fire, which ravaged nearly 1,100 homes, the Hickmans often hung out with neighbors on their patio, sharing funny stories over a glass of wine. But that probably won’t happen again for years – an even longer delay by the pandemic.

“That’s part of the reason it hurts,” Barba Hickman, 65, said earlier this week as he sifted through the rubble and wondered how long it might take for the neighbors to benefit again spontaneous meetings.

Reconstruction is never easy or quick. Homeowners must deal with insurers, land surveyors, architects and more. But in Colorado and other states hit by natural disasters this year, the pandemic has added additional uncertainty and created more hurdles. Shortages of labor and raw materials will make reconstruction slower and more expensive.

“It’s going to take forever,” said Kelly Moye, spokesperson for the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Even without a pandemic, it took almost seven years to completely rebuild after a fire in 2012 that destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs, and home builders are still finishing work after a 2017 fire in Santa Rosa, Calif. .

The stress of recent Colorado wildfire victims is compounded by an extremely tight housing market. With few homes for sale or rent, families are struggling to find temporary shelter.

“It’s a big part of the population who all need the same thing. And they all need it right now, ”Moye said. “They can’t get away for half an hour because the kids have to stay in their school district.”

Thousands of American families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by extreme weather conditions last year, from tornadoes in the Midwest and Kentucky to the impact of Hurricane Ida on the Gulf Coast and New Jersey, also face the intimidating road that awaits the Coloradans affected by the forest fires.

Builders everywhere are waiting longer than usual to line up carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and these specialists themselves are being supported while they wait for parts.

From start to finish, building a 2,500 square foot home in Denver would normally take four to five months. Now that same project typically takes eight to 10 months, said John Covert, director of Zonda Advisory, a Denver-based residential construction market research firm. The local increase in demand after a disaster only exacerbates the problem.

President Biden and his wife, Jill, on Friday visited the area outside of Denver where more than $ 500 million in damage has been caused. They walked along a street where houses burned down to their concrete foundations and met locals and local officials.

In addition to delaying reconstruction, the pandemic is also driving up costs. Contractors are hard to find amid an increase in renovations, and lumber and steel supplies are stranded by problems in the supply chain, said Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.

Lumber prices have fallen from around $ 350 per 1,000 board feet before the pandemic to nearly $ 1,500 last year, Dietz said. This can mean additional costs of $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 for a typical home, he said.

Colorado cities hardest hit by last week’s wildfires, Louisville and Superior, lie in a predominantly wealthy area between Denver and the college town of Boulder. Median home prices there are more than double the national average, which stood at $ 416,900 in November, down from $ 321,500 a year earlier.

Rising house prices can add an additional burden to families who have lost their homes to a forest fire.

“The costs are likely to exceed the insured value of many destroyed structures,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

The Hickmans’ adjuster said their policy would not cover rebuilding their home exactly as they did. With a gas fireplace and wood stove inside and a front patio that had become a gathering place for neighbors, the house was valued at over a million dollars.

“The pandemic and the supply chains have increased costs, and the insurance company doesn’t seem to care,” Barba Hickman said.

The people of Colorado are not alone in facing the challenges of the pandemic era that have exacerbated the already stressful process of recovering from a natural disaster.

In December, a 200 mile line of tornadoes struck Kentucky, decimating some small rural towns, displacing hundreds and killing dozens.

Cole Claybourn of Bowling Green has found a contractor to fix the torn off corner of his house and damaged roof, and is hoping work will begin next week, a month after the disaster. “If it had only happened in one part of the county, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it took out quite a large part of the city,” he said.

It’s too early for Claybourn, 32, to have supply chain headaches, but he won’t be surprised if that’s a problem. “I’m a high school teacher and we haven’t been able to get toner in our building for months,” he said.

Before Hurricane Ida destroyed the Gulf Coast – then destroyed New Jersey – in late summer, construction contractors were already grappling with severe labor shortages and depleted supply chains. The damage inflicted by Ida amplified these constraints.

Jeff Okrepkie, whose home burned down in the Santa Rosa fire in 2017, said families who begin to rebuild will benefit by working together, sharing information and being extremely patient. “There is so much to building a house from scratch and most of us have no experience in this area,” said Okrepkie, who moved into his new home in early 2020.

The challenge for builders comes at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. The US economy has rebounded at an unexpected speed after a brief but painful recession in the spring of 2020, catching many companies by surprise and forcing them to scramble to find supplies and recall workers they had put on leave for the year. last.

But it is not known how long the reduction in supply and labor will last. Omicron and other COVID-19 variants could cause more Americans to stay at home as a health precaution. This could slow economic growth, but also slow inflation and alleviate labor and material shortages.

Dietz, the economist, believes building material shortages will ease before the labor shortage, especially in fast-growing regions like the mountain states and the southern United States.

For now, the Hickmans find some solace in being retired and having more time than many others to devote to rebuilding. They’ve spent the last week focusing on finding accommodation to rent and are even considering relocating to Denver, nearly 20 miles to the southeast.

With everything she’s learned over the past week, Barba Hickman urges her adult children to review their own insurance policies because “the time to discuss this is before your house burns down.”

———

Associated Press editors Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky, Wayne Parry in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco, and Alex Veiga in Los Angeles, contributed to this report. Nieberg is a member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative corps. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.


North Korea claims second successful hypersonic missile test

January 6, 2022

Montana Economy

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea said on Thursday it had successfully completed the second test flight of a hypersonic missile, days after Chief Kim Jong Un pledged to bolster its military forces despite difficulties related to the pandemic.

Wednesday’s launch, the North’s first known weapons test in about two months, indicates the country will continue with plans to modernize its nuclear and missile arsenals rather than resuming disarmament talks anytime soon.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party had expressed “great satisfaction” at the results of the missile test, which was observed by key weapons officials.

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds above Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose critical challenges to missile defense systems due to their speed and maneuverability. It’s unclear if and how soon North Korea could make such a high-tech missile, but it was part of a wishlist of sophisticated military assets that Kim leaked early last year, as well as a multi-warhead missile, spy satellites, solid fuel long-range missiles and nuclear submarine launch missiles.

Wednesday’s test was the second of its kind since North Korea first launched a hypersonic missile last September.

“The successive successes of test launches in the hypersonic missile sector are of strategic importance as they accelerate a task of modernizing the state’s strategic armed forces,” a KCNA report said.

The word “strategic” implies that the missile is developed to launch nuclear weapons.

KCNA said the missile made a 120-kilometer (75-mile) lateral movement before hitting a target 700 kilometers (435 miles) away. He said the test reconfirmed the missile’s flight control and stability and checked its fuel capsule in winter weather conditions.

While North Korea appears to have made progress in developing a hypersonic missile, it still needs more test flights to determine if it is meeting its tactical goals or how well it could develop a hypersonic weapon, a declared Lee Choon Geun, expert and honorary researcher. member of the Science and Technology Policy Institute of South Korea.

A photo from the launch shows that the tops of missiles launched in September and this week have different shapes. Lee said this suggests that North Korea is testing two versions of warheads for a missile still in development or that it is actually developing two different types of hypersonic missiles.

He said the missile’s reported lateral movement would provide the weapon with greater maneuverability to evade enemy missile defense systems.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Seoul University of North Korean Studies, said North Korea is likely to move forward with its plans to strengthen weapons without being affected by external factors like the Olympic Games in Seoul. Beijing in February, the South Korean presidential election in March and a possible change in North Korean policy by the Biden administration.

“Since the United States has decided on a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, North Korea need not worry about what China would think when it performs” weapons tests, Kim said.

China is North Korea’s last great ally and aid benefactor. Some experts had predicted earlier that North Korea would not launch any provocations until the end of the Beijing Olympics.

Tae Yongho, a former North Korean diplomat who is now an MP in South Korea, wrote on Facebook that Pyongyang is keeping its borders closed due to fears over the pandemic. But he said Pyongyang was still working to perfect its missile technology to strengthen its position in future negotiations.

The latest North launch was first detected by its neighbors.

The US military called it a ballistic missile launch that “highlights the destabilizing impact of (North Korea’s) illicit weapons program,” while South Korea and Japan have expressed concerns. or their regrets about the launch. China, for its part, called for dialogue and said “all parties concerned should keep the big picture in mind (and) be careful in their words and actions.”

U.S.-led diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear program has stalled since 2019 due to disputes over international sanctions against the North. The Biden administration has repeatedly called for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy “anywhere, anytime” without preconditions, but North Korea argued that the United States must first withdraw its hostility against him before talks can resume.

At last week’s plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, Kim Jong Un reiterated his pledge to expand his country’s military capabilities without publicly presenting new positions on Washington and Seoul.

The North’s expanding nuclear arsenal is at the heart of Kim’s reign, and he called it a “mighty precious sword” that thwarts potential assaults from the United States. During his 10-year reign, he performed an unusually high number of weapons tests to acquire the ability to launch nuclear strikes on the Americas. But his country’s economy has fallen sharply over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sanctions and his government’s mismanagement.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Climate change and invasive species lead to decline of native trout – sciencedaily

January 4, 2022

Montana Economy

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In a new study published in Scientists progress, researchers at the University of Montana have found that climate change is causing the decline of native trout by reducing habitat in streams and facilitating the expansion of invasive trout species.

“This study had three main questions: How have native and invasive trout distributions changed in Montana over the past 30 years, how will they change in the future, and what factors are causing these changes? ” said Donovan Bell, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in UM’s wildlife biology program.

To answer these questions, scientists from UM, the US Geological Survey and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks quantified the impacts of climate change on the distribution of five species of trout (cutthroat trout and bull trout native and invasive brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout) in the northern Rockies. They used a large, long-term data set collected and maintained by the Montana FWP, analyzing nearly 22,000 data points from electrofishing surveys in Montana streams and rivers over the past 30 years.

The researchers found that the occupation of Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout – defined as the amount of stream where a species is present – has declined by 18% and 6%, respectively, between 1993 and 2018 and is expected to decrease by an additional 39%. and 16% by 2080. Although invasive brook trout are also expected to decline, invasive brown trout and rainbow trout have expanded their ranges due to the rising water temperatures and appear poised to thrive under future climate changes.

The researchers found that the cause of the decline of the two native trout species was likely climate change, but the specific mechanisms of the decline varied among species.

Bull trout, a species threatened under the Endangered Species Act, requires cold streams with adequate flow. But warmer water temperatures and lower water levels in summer – both due to climate change – have degraded stream habitat and likely caused bull trout to decline. . During this time, Westslope Cutthroat Trout was severely limited by the presence of invasive trout species, including brook trout which can supplant native trout and rainbow trout which hybridize easily. with westerly cutthroat trout. The threat of invasive rainbow trout is of particular concern as their range is expanding due to global warming.

“Our two native Montana trout species will decline in the future unless appropriate conservation measures are taken,” Bell said. “Our results suggest that tailoring conservation strategies to specific species and specific threats from climate change is important for the conservation of native fish.”

For example, the conservation of Bull Trout in streams and rivers may better aim to protect, reconnect, and restore critical coldwater habitat. On the other hand, removing invasive trout species is probably more effective for the conservation of Westslope Cutthroat Trout.

“Globally, climate-induced changes in aquatic habitats are expected to threaten at least a third of freshwater fish, and some invasive species could benefit from these changes,” said Clint Muhlfeld, scientist at the USGS and study co-author. “These scenarios seem to be playing out in our garden with native and invasive trout.”

The study also highlights the importance of using and maintaining long-term datasets spanning large regions to shed light on the complex ways in which climate and invasive species work together to affect native species.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to use data meticulously collected over decades in Montana to convincingly answer complex questions like these,” said David Schmetterling, Fisheries Research Coordinator for Montana FWP.

Andrew Whiteley, co-author of the study and associate professor at UM, said Montana has already lost populations of cold-adapted native fish species, and this will likely continue as climate change progresses in the during this century.

“This is particularly troubling in a state where cold-water fishing now contributes nearly $ 650 million a year to our economy,” said Whiteley, who studies fisheries and conservation genetics. “But all is not lost for these economically, ecologically and culturally important species as long as appropriate conservation measures are taken.”

Co-authors of the UM study include Bell, Paul Lukacs and Whiteley from WA Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at UM and Diane Whited from Flathead Lake Biological Station at UM. USGS co-authors include Muhlfeld, Timothy Cline, and Robert Al-Chokhachy. Montana FWP authors include Ryan Kovach and Schmetterling.


Western “Zoom Cities” aim for short-term rentals

January 2, 2022

Montana Economy

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DEPOE BAY, Oregon – Postcards with big promises started appearing in mailboxes in coastal Oregon communities in 2019: “Rent your house short term, use it when you want, guaranteed 5,000 $ more monthly income than what you earn with your current property management company, ”recalls Retiree Monica Kirk.

Kirk’s neighborhood began to transform almost immediately.

Internet service companies such as Airbnb, Vacasa, and VRBO have run into short-term rental caps in neighboring towns. So they began to aggressively approach landowners in quieter, unincorporated seaside neighborhoods like Kirk’s, where rental restrictions were less stringent. Over the next year, according to a public record request filed by Kirk, the number of short-term rentals permitted in unincorporated neighborhoods in Lincoln County, Oregon, increased from 385 to 601.

“For most of the year, not just the season, there were more renters than full-time residents,” Kirk said.

Removing all of those homes from potential long-term rental stock made it all the more difficult for workers to afford homes in the County, a tourist community on Oregon’s central coast. The area, like all popular vacation destinations, needs affordable housing for workers that make it buzz.

Kirk and his neighbors have started collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that, over the next five years, will completely eliminate short-term rentals in unincorporated communities in the county. Its successful passage in November was one of the few bans to be approved in a wave of efforts to tackle the effects of short-term rentals on affordable housing in western tourist communities.

Even before the pandemic, destination cities in the West lacked affordable housing. Limited supply, the remote nature of some communities, zoning restrictions, and even short construction seasons have all contributed. But the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated everything, including the rise of so-called Zoom cities. Suddenly, people could live, work and recreate in the vacation communities of the West.

In recent years, it has also become much easier for second home owners to list vacancies with internet-based real estate companies that promise constant cash flow. When these homes enter the short-term vacation rental pool, they are no longer available to the local workforce.

There is little statewide effort to restrict short-term rentals – Idaho even bans local governments from passing bans – but some cities and counties have restricted vacation rentals. In Washington, Chelan County leaders recently placed new constraints on the number of units in unincorporated areas that can be rented out on a short-term basis; Seattle and Leavenworth each have their own restrictions.

Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, said recently that about a fifth of the company’s activity per night is now stays of 30 days or more. People book longer stays that combine work and play, an area the company sees as full of growth potential.

Portland-based Vacasa made public in early December the promise of its technology to manage properties and the understanding that vacation rentals for large groups or families are an untapped market. Jamie Cohen, chief financial officer of Vacasa, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that at least a fifth of people staying in vacation rentals did so for the first time during the pandemic.

In Colorado, residents of eight mountain towns have passed short-term rental taxes, the proceeds of which are intended to alleviate housing shortages. Colorado State Senator Chris Hansen, a Democrat, proposed legislation that would tax many short-term rentals at the accommodation property rate, which hotels pay, for each day the property is rented over 30 days a year.

His bill emerged in response to developers who began converting ski resort hotels into short-term condominiums with individual owners. This meant that new rentals were eligible for lower residential property tax rates, instead of the accommodation rate. In the ski town of Steamboat Springs, the move took $ 1.5 million from the local school’s budget, Hansen said.

“If we don’t have a stable property tax base, then we start to create a huge additional burden on the state budget,” Hansen said. “And we have a lot of constraints on our state budget.”

Real estate agents, property management companies and individual owners oppose the legislation. They would prefer to see other options used, including restricting short-term rentals to certain areas of communities, said Julia Koster, executive director of the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, which represents owners and managers of around 7 000 short-term rental units in and around ski resorts.

In general, the vacation rental industry struggles with efforts to enact short-term moratoriums or bans. This was the case with the community-led voting measure in the Oregon coast, Kirk said. Two separate political action committees opposed it; they were mainly supported by real estate and property management interests that easily exceeded the local $ 35,000 raised to adopt the measure.

Meredith Lodging, a large local vacation property management company in Oregon, gave Save Lincoln County Jobs $ 200,000, a PAC put in place explicitly to fight the measure. The VIA Oregon Coalition, a separate political action committee established to support short-term rental policies, received $ 28,500 from the Oregon Realtors and one of its political action committees. Another $ 10,000 to fight the measure came from Vacasa.

“We support fair and equitable regulations that preserve our owners’ ability to operate their vacation rental and earn the income they rely on, while protecting the interests of full-time residents,” Sarah Tatone, Head of communication at Vacasa, said in an emailed statement. “It’s about finding a balance to fairly regulate short-term rentals, without limiting the potential to stimulate growth or support local businesses and the economy.

Yet few popular western tourist communities have enough affordable options for the staff needed to run a peak season vacation destination. In Montana, people who cannot afford rent in some tourist towns have camped out, encroaching on grizzly bear territory. The housing shortage has led to more encounters between bears and humans, said Bill Avey, a national forest supervisor in the area.

In Whitefish, the gateway to Montana’s Glacier National Park, the lack of affordable housing in 2021 has forced nearly every food or beverage-related business to cut back hours or close at least one day a week at peak of the summer tourist season, said Lauren Oscilowski, owner of Spotted Bear Spirits Distillery. In the past year, around half of the people in its 11-person team have been forced to move because their owners decided to turn their homes into short-term rentals.

“There’s this national thing where the hospitality people don’t go back to hospitality because the wages are too low, or they’re fed up with dealing with the public or whatever,” Oscilowski said. “But that’s just one piece. The biggest thing for us is really the accommodation.

Oscilowski sits on the Sustainable Tourism Management Committee of the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. She supported a moratorium on new short-term rentals, if only to slow down the transition. The measure was narrowly rejected in October.

Still, she is encouraged that the city is considering changes.

“Anyone who has been a part of our community for over 10 years has seen the change and also feels the frustration and the hardship,” said Oscilowski. “It is an undeniable stake.


Governors tout 2021 marijuana reform accomplishments as year draws to a close

December 31, 2021

Montana Economy

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Leading federal health agency seeks to promote studies on the effectiveness of various harm reduction policies, including decriminalization and safe consumption sites, as part of a campaign to tackle the epidemic overdose.

While the Biden administration has yet to take a position on policy proposals to allow safe consumption facilities, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Wednesday released a pair of Requests for Nominations (RFA) for an effort which will provide funding for efforts to investigate how this and other harm reduction policies could help address the drug crisis.

Specifically, the NIH wishes to establish a Harm Reduction Network that aims to “improve our understanding of the effectiveness, implementation and impact of existing and new harm reduction practices in dealing with the crisis. opioid prevalence and substance use disorders more broadly ”.

A parallel RFA calls for a focal point within the network to provide ‘logistical and coordination support’, ‘data harmonization and sharing supports’ and ‘research and clinical practice resources’ .

Applications are accepted for projects that involve “(1) developing and testing new harm reduction strategies; (2) examine how to effectively implement new and existing harm reduction strategies; (3) expand the frameworks and delivery models through which harm reduction strategies are deployed; and (4) examine the impact of new harm reduction policies implemented at national and local levels.

“Harm reduction services aim to prevent or minimize the adverse effects associated with substance use, such as fatal and non-fatal overdoses and the transmission of infectious diseases,” said the advisory. “Examples of established harm reduction approaches include naloxone, fentanyl test strips (FTS), safer smoking equipment and sterile syringes, as well as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing. and hepatitis C virus. “

Opinions from the NIH and its constituent agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicate that ’emerging’ harm reduction policies’ include the decriminalization of various drugs, and the diversion and diversion efforts led by the United Nations. police and the prosecutor, and the authorization of safe consumption sites. . “

They also note that the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) prioritizes harm reduction policy as a means of overdose prevention.

NIDA Director Nora Volkow has repeatedly expressed concerns about the damage caused by the criminalization of drug possession and specifically called racial disparities in law enforcement a major problem, including in an interview. with Marijuana Moment and in several editorials.

When it comes to safe consumption sites, Volkow said earlier this year that she was willing to continue exploring “how these support systems as a community can help people, for example, to engage in treatment, how they can prevent them from getting HIV. and how they can prevent them from overdosing and dying.

New York City launched the first sanctioned safe consumption site late last month, and advocates have questioned how the federal government would respond given its role in blocking a Philadelphia nonprofit , Safehouse, for launching its own harm reduction center.

New York City officials say the sites – where people can use currently illegal drugs in a medically supervised environment where they have access to treatment resources – have already saved dozens of lives.

This is only part of the NIH harm reduction research initiative, however. Here is a description of the research topics he wishes to explore:

  • Research to develop and test new approaches and / or frameworks for harm reduction service delivery, including strategies that involve sectors outside the health system and strategies that do not depend on face-to-face interaction to face

  • Research that seeks to understand individual and system-level barriers to the provision of effective, scalable, and sustainable harm reduction services, such as individuals forgetting or refusing to wear naloxone or fentanyl test strips, hand shortages -working, funding limitations and stigmatizing attitudes towards individuals with SUD.

  • Research to develop and / or test strategies to overcome identified barriers to effective, scalable and sustainable harm reduction services,

  • Research on strategies to ensure that people from vulnerable, under-researched and / or hard-to-reach populations have access to and benefit from harm reduction services.

  • Research on the implications of emerging harm reduction policies, including their effectiveness in reducing unwanted effects and barriers / facilitators to successful implementation in real settings

  • Research on harm reduction strategies for people using methamphetamine and other stimulants

Nine candidates will be selected to conduct the studies under the five-year program. It approves up to $ 6.75 million for FY2022 projects.

The new notice also talks about applications for marijuana research, stressing that such studies are “necessary to measure and report results using a standard delta-9-THC unit in all applicable research on subjects. human “.

“The aim is to increase comparability between research studies on cannabis. A standard delta-9-THC unit is defined as any formulation of cannabis plant material or extract that contains 5 milligrams of delta-9-THC, ”he says. “A rationale must be provided for human research that does not suggest using the standard unit.”

When it comes to safe consumption sites, activists in several cities have attempted to establish these centers in recent years.

In October, the Supreme Court dismissed a request to hear a case on the legality of establishing the facility in Philadelphia, but the case is still in a lower court and lawyers anxiously await a response from DOJ for show where the agency decides to stay. on the issue under the Biden administration.

By mutual agreement between federal officials and Safehouse, the administration’s deadline for submitting its position was extended to March 7. It had previously been extended until November 5 of this year. Defenders see this as a positive sign.

White House drug czar Rahul Gupta recently said exploring “all options” to reduce overdose deaths, and this could include allowing safe consumption sites for illegal substances if the evidence confirms their effectiveness.

The ONDCP director previously said he couldn’t speak to harm reduction centers due to the ongoing Safehouse litigation, but seemed more open to the possibility in the recent interview with CNN.

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Bacerra also recently signaled that the Biden administration would not budge to block the facility’s secure injection sites, stressing that “we are literally trying to give users a lifeline.

But a spokesperson for the department later returned to the remarks, saying “HHS does not have a position on supervised consumption sites” and “the issue is the subject of ongoing litigation.” In any event, it would be up to the DOJ to decide whether to prosecute facility operators under the Controlled Substances Act.

Bacerra was among eight senior law enforcement officials in the state who filed an amicus brief in support of Safehouse’s safe injection site plan when he was California attorney general.

The Biden administration has generally promoted the concept of harm reduction as part of its drug policy, but it has not formally weighed in on safe consumption sites in particular.

Defenders put the current situation in no uncertain terms. They say harm reduction centers could mean the difference between life and death for countless Americans who currently use illegal drugs.

Early data from New York City indicates the facilities could prevent many more deaths than the Department of Health had predicted. Its feasibility study found that safe consumption sites could save up to 130 lives per year.

The legal complication of these harm reduction sites is primarily related to a so-called “federal crack house law” which criminalizes the use of a place for the manufacture, distribution or consumption of controlled substances. .

A coalition of 80 current and former prosecutors and law enforcement officials, including one who is Biden’s choice for the US attorney for Massachusetts, previously filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to take up the consumer case. safe from Safehouse.

As New York City is the first to open harm reduction centers, the governor of Rhode Island signed a landmark bill in July to establish a safe consumption site pilot program.

Massachusetts lawmakers proposed similar legislation last year, but it ultimately did not come into law.

A similar harm reduction bill in California, sponsored by Senator Scott Wiener (D), was approved by the state Senate in April, but other measures have been delayed until 2022.

Here are the biggest news stories about marijuana, psychedelics and drugs of 2021

Photo courtesy of Jernej Furman.

Marijuana Moment is made possible by the support of readers. If you rely on our Cannabis Advocacy Journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon engagement.



Montana’s Housing Problems Threaten Hospitals, State’s Low Health Care Costs, Warns Association | Montana

December 29, 2021

Montana Economy

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(The Center Square) – The housing shortage is a concern for all parts of Montana’s economy, including healthcare, where it is difficult for the industry to hire and retain workers, according to a recent survey.

Hospitals are often the largest private employer in a community, according to Rich Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association, who added that every hospital has a housing issue that hinders recruitment. When workers cannot find housing, the hospital cannot hire them, so the hospital cannot function well and the community does not benefit, he said.

A recent MHA survey found that housing is the biggest problem hospitals face when trying to recruit workers. A list of issues facing potential employees includes limited inventory and high prices for homes for sale and rent, especially for those with low incomes, the survey found.

The housing shortage problem is twofold: A lack of housing availability and high housing costs.

Realtor.com Numbers reported by the Independent Record show that in any month over the past year, the maximum number of active real estate listings has decreased from 2019, and in some places listings only represent a third of what they were two years ago.

In Bozeman, housing costs have risen 26% over the past year, with a median price for a single-family home of just over $ 734,500 in September, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. reported. The Zillow home sales website reported that the median price of a home in Montana is almost $ 350,000, more than 27% higher than in September 2020.

Home values ​​in other parts of the state like Helena are also skyrocketing, Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said many people think of well-paid doctors and nurses when considering hospital workers, but most hospital staff have much lower incomes. And in Montana, he said, most doctors are primary care providers with lower salaries than a specialist doctor like a neurosurgeon, or they may be new graduates with less. experience but a lot of student debt that cannot afford a high monthly rent or mortgage payment.

The housing shortage coupled with the increased need for hospital staff caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led some hospitals to get creative.

Cut Bank’s Northern Rockies Medical Center has converted unused hospital rooms into staff apartments, Rasmussen said, and a Glendive hospital has acquired duplexes for housing. He said other health systems could provide housing as well, but lack support and resources.

“We have hospitals that have properties but they don’t have partners to help them turn property into housing,” Rasmussen said. “With a state dominated by small, critical access hospitals, the ability of these small hospitals and small communities to develop ownership is a challenge. It’s a challenge from a funding point of view if you are a small hospital as well as getting the contractors and developing the project.

Despite efforts by some hospitals to help workers access affordable housing, most hospitals have had to turn to temporary or itinerant workers, which is a very costly approach in terms of staff, Rasmussen said.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte recently launched an incentive program in the form of a $ 12,500 relocation bonus to help attract healthcare workers to the state. Rasmussen said hospital systems are very optimistic about the incentive, but warns it is still only a short-term fix. He pointed out that Montana has the lowest health care costs in the country.

“In order to continue like this, we need to make sure we have the resources to keep costs under control. And the biggest cost center in a hospital is the staff, ”said Rasmussen. “So if we can’t get the personnel costs to a sustainable place, then you’re going to see cost increases. “

Keeping health care and housing costs reasonable will require a commitment to finding durable solutions that will last for the long term, he said, and this approach will also strengthen the state’s overall economy.

“If we want to develop the state, we have to invest in our system,” Rasmussen told The Center Square. “If we want to cut costs we need to invest in our workforce, and if we don’t fix these issues in the long run, it will be difficult for us to meet the demands to keep growing our economy while all of us. want to see it grow.


There are ways to do things differently when it comes to economics

December 28, 2021

Montana Economy

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Thinking back to 2021, organizing things differently turned out to be the theme of the year for our economic coverage at Next City.

At the very end of ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years,’ writes author David Graeber, ‘all of these things are human arrangements and if democracy is to mean anything, it is the ability of all to come together for it. arrange things in a different way. “

Thinking back to 2021, organizing things differently turned out to be the theme of the year for our economic coverage at Next City. Across all levels of the economy, from the lowest to the Federal Reserve, doing things differently has come under full prominence.

Become aware of commercial real estate

This year, we have reported a lot about communities finding ways to do commercial real estate without relying on the conventional model of developers taking ownership of land and stacking capital to generate the highest possible financial returns.

We covered Seattle’s New Cultural Space Agency, a city-sponsored entity similar to a housing authority but dedicated to property development on behalf of the arts and cultural organizations of Seattle’s Black communities, Indigenous communities, and others. ‘other communities of color. Rather than a conventional configuration where the mayor chooses who runs the agency, the communities it serves choose who runs it.

In New Orleans, we covered the Crescent City Community Land Trust by helping a century-old, third-generation black business finally innovate to revitalize their home, which was nearly destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Community land trusts have primarily emerged in recent decades as a model of property to decommodify housing – permanently removing it from the market so that it can remain permanently affordable and responsible for meeting community needs. Crescent City is one of several community land trusts across the country that take the model back to its roots by protecting the ability of black people to have some economic self-determination, in addition to a stable and affordable place to live.

This year, we also attended the inauguration of the Commongrounds Co-op in Traverse City, Michigan. The owners of this new real estate cooperative are a combination of companies soon to be moving into the space along with their clients, workers and other supporters. Even potential residents of new apartments located above commercial and community spaces can choose to purchase and become co-owners of the building.

The evolution of worker power

Worker-owned co-ops are nothing new in our economic coverage at Next City. This year, we’ve caught up with a few that we’ve covered in previous years, including ChiFresh Kitchen, CERO, and the growing network of food industry worker co-ops in Baltimore. In addition to organizing against giants like Amazon and Starbucks, workers across the country continue to rely on this different model of business ownership as a way to regain power over the means of production.

But worker-owned cooperatives continue to face a distinct disadvantage in terms of access to capital for start-up and growth. During the pandemic, thousands of cooperative businesses gained access to something they had never had access to before: loans backed by collateral from the Small Business Administration. Congress could make co-ops’ access to SBA loan guarantees permanent beyond the pandemic, but the legislation remains in limbo. In the meantime, this year we reported on the progress of a national network of worker co-op lenders created by and for worker co-ops.

The worker co-op model has also ventured into one of the most competitive markets in cities today – the ridesharing app market, where Uber and Lyft have fought and trampled the taxi industry. in the process. Earlier this year, we covered the launch of The Drivers Cooperative, the first ridesharing app company created by and owned by drivers. Its app, “Co-Op Ride,” opened to the public on May 30, and we even caught up with the co-op later in the year for an episode of the Next City Podcast.

No business has experienced more unrest during the pandemic than restaurants, bars and cafes. Some workers in the food industry, like in Baltimore, looked to the cooperative model years ago as an alternative that can restore dignity and humanity to their workplace. This year, we covered the first acquisition of the very first group of worker-owned cooperative restaurants. It’s an attempt to take a page out of the private equity playbook – by buying out an entire portfolio of struggling companies – but reversing the model so that workers are the biggest beneficiaries.

Raise the green curtain

Around the same time last year, we called 2020 “the year of demystifying money for cities”. This year we have continued to pick up that thread with some of the most reported stories of the year.

In keeping with Graeber’s idea of ​​what democracy means, these stories focused on how democracy has reshaped or could reshape the way money flows – raising the green curtain to understand where the money is coming from. money, how it gets where it goes, and what it might take to get more of it to get to where it hasn’t been for too long.

After years of pilot programs in limited locations, guaranteed income programs have taken off across the country over the past year – and we’ve mapped them out as we heard about them. This year, we visited the oldest guaranteed income pilot program to date, in Jackson, Mississippi, to learn more about race and gender dynamics in the design and policy of cash assistance programs. without conditions.

Not to mention the dramatic changes to the federal child tax credit program, which effectively turned it into a nationwide guaranteed income plan. But those changes are currently set to expire at the end of this year, even though all the evidence so far shows it works and fewer children live in poverty today, even with all of the pandemic-related turmoil in. the economy. Racist politics and stereotypes about the poor remain a major obstacle.

This year, we also took a deeper dive into the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful but least understood economic institutions in the world. During the pandemic, its flotilla of emergency lending programs helped make it more visible than it has been for many decades. Some have called on the Fed to do more for real people and less for businesses. A year-long struggle with high inflation has also drawn attention to the central banking system.

The political choices made by elected officials have shaped all of the Fed’s emergency programs and the entire Fed itself. For as much power as it appears the Fed and its senior officials have, it is delegated power by Congress, and with it comes certain obligations as prescribed by Congress. For many decades, racial justice advocates have argued that the Fed failed to live up to its Congressional-imposed obligation to promote full employment – for example, by allowing black unemployment to consistently linger twice. that of white unemployment.

But, as we covered this year, the Fed is now doing things differently. It was not a response to the pandemic, as changes had been underway for years within the Fed before COVID hit, but the change was timely. The Fed is now paying attention to factors like racial disparities in unemployment or wage growth to determine whether it should continue to push the economy to grow or to slow things down. Some racial justice advocates are calling on the Fed to change even more.

It shouldn’t come as such a surprise that democracy – messy, problematic, and often frustrating as it is – can and has shaped things as powerful as the Fed. If this sounds so surprising, maybe it’s because of who benefits the most by keeping most of us out of the room when it comes to making decisions about how the economy works. It certainly wouldn’t bother Wall Street if it were the only voice in conversations about the Fed or anything to do with financial sector regulations and policies.

With another election year ahead of us, there will be plenty of opportunities to ask everyone who runs for office what they think about doing things differently when it comes to commercial real estate, worker ownership, or the Fed. If they seem like they need more thoughts on this, I hope you can refer them back to whatever we wrote about it last year or over the next year.

Oscar is Next City’s senior business correspondent. Previously, he was Editor-in-Chief of Next City from 2018-2019 and was a Next City Equitable Cities member from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered funding for community development, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha and Fast Company.

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This is where Yellowstone season 4 was filmed

December 26, 2021

Montana Economy

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According to local CBS affiliate KPAX, the fourth season of “Yellowstone” has moved to the Missoula Valley area of ​​MT and was filmed there in its entirety. The outlet reported that this was the very first time in the series’ history that production was not split between Utah and Montana.

Season 4 was ultimately filmed during Montana’s “Fall Shoulder Season”, when unemployment is generally on the rise and the economy is down. “With filming active during this time between summer and skiing, it will be a great boost to community activity,” said Matt Mellott of Sterling CRZE Advisors of Missoula, who helped negotiate the return. of production in August. “With 150 people on site, this is a great opportunity for local restaurants, bars, breweries and hotels to capture more business,” Mellott said at the time, continuing: “Montana is ready to host productions. of this size and caliber. ”

One of the main reasons for the change, according to Deseret News, is the tax incentive programs for each state, as Utah has a limit on the amount of money TV shows receive to produce the show in the ‘Utah. On the flip side, Montana just increased the amount of money movies and television productions can receive from $ 10 million to $ 12 million, which makes this move even more justifiable for “Yellowstone” ( NBC Montana).

While the show will continue to be available on Paramount +, season 4 of “Yellowstone” will officially end on January 2, 2022. The network has yet to announce a fifth season, but a renewal seems likely.


Year in review: 10 of the biggest news in 2021 | national news

December 21, 2021

Montana Economy

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Important news items are happening every day in communities large and small. Whether it’s accountability journalism about a local election or surveillance reporting on ethnic conflicts around the world, the news that matters most is the news that needs to be told the most.

Confidence in the national and local media splits along the familiar partisanship fault line, and whichever side you find yourself on is dangerous. When mistrust is propagated by tech companies, politicians, or the news organizations themselves, the stories most in need of being told go unheard. According to Pew, Americans are the most divided they have been in the past five years on trust in news outlets, with a 43 percentage point gap between Democrats, who trust the news more. , and Republicans.

This is all the more interesting considering the major events that have hit the headlines this year. From the COVID-19 insurgency and pandemic to mental health and humanity’s step towards space travel, these are all things that impact us as a nation, or simply as humans with a shared reality. And yet partisan divides persist in the coverage of these topics.

Despite ideological splits, good, bad and neutral news surges in every day, and 2021 was packed with high-impact headlines. Stacker has benchmarked media coverage from a wide range of publishers around the world to highlight 10 of the most impactful stories of 2021. This is not a ranking of importance, nor an exhaustive list. newsworthy events that happened, but rather a snapshot of another unprecedented year.

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Should Ubisoft bother with Far Cry 7?

December 19, 2021

Montana Economy

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Ubisoft could make Far Cry 7 another bestseller but it would be nice to move away from the same format and explore something different.

Far cry has always been an outstanding franchise in the video game industry, but a Far cry 7 the release date is still probably years away. Over the years, Ubisoft has made changes to the franchise but also kept the same basic standards. However, making a good game under the same name with the same outline can only last a while. So should Ubisoft bother with Far cry 7? While the Far cry the franchise is great, it falls into a repetitive form of open world maps with crazed rulers and a protagonist who’s always in a “fish out of the water” scenario, and the repetition has gotten stale with each Far cry following.

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In each Far cry, the map must be completed in regions or sections. Each area has its own unique characters and stories. This formation has been overused and appears in the three Far cry stories. Fighting against people who control an area also appears in almost every game. In Far Cry 3, Vaas is the villainous pirate known for his volatile behavior. Pagan min in Far cry 4 killed his allies and fled to a small state. In Far Cry 5, Joseph Seed is an influential and charismatic leader by faith. Its path is to lead the inhabitants of Montana to reach Eden’s Gate. Antón Castillo is the main antagonist and a dictator of Far Cry 6, Reinforce the series’ penchant for villains who are mad leaders.


Related: How Far Cry 6 Could Set Up Far Cry 7

While power, growth, and greed seem to fuel all four titles, other gameplay elements are repeated like “guns for hire” and “fangs for hire”. Having a companion on a mission seems to be privileged in the franchise as it plays a role in the majority of Far cry Games. Boomer, who made his first appearance in Far Cry 5, seemed to have an update in Far cry 6 under the name of Boom Boom. Far cry 6 has cute companions and they’re nice to have in battle, but it would be nice to tie the player up to just one companion and grow a relationship throughout the game.


Far Cry 7 should avoid the same repetition as in previous games

Far Cry 6 Side Quest Destroy the Enemy

Side missions and quests have also become repetitive in Far cry games, like freeing outposts and burning fields to weaken the antagonist. In Far cry 3 the player must burn fields of marijuana, and in Far Cry 4, these are fields of opium. Far cry 5 is known to burn flowers called Bliss which make citizens listen to Joeseph Seed. Far cry 6The main story revolves around the tobacco fields that help the economy, and the protagonist burns them as well.

Ubisoft could easily pump Far cry 7, and it could be the next big seller for the studio, but at some point Ubisoft will have to move away from the Far cry frankness and the same repetitiveness that has continued over the years. Ubisoft is quite capable of creating a great linear story with adorable characters in an immersive world. Although Far cry 7 is said to be a live service game in development, it would be nice to see Ubisoft take a different direction to Far cry at one point.


Next: How Drastically Different Could Far Cry 7 Be From Previous Games


Geralt drawing his sword on the cover of The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 looks amazing in Tilt-Shift isometric view


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Sense. Cruz, Marshall and their colleagues fight to protect small energy producers

December 17, 2021

Montana Economy

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WASHINGTON DC – United States Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) And Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) .) introduced the Marginal Well Protection Act this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from charging excessive methane emission fees for wells that produce less than 15 barrels of oil and less than 90 Mcf (90,000 cubic feet) of natural gas per day. Marginal wells are small, often family-owned, wells with about 15 or fewer employees. These wells produce nearly 7.5% of all US oil production.

During the introduction, Senator Cruz said:

“As Americans suffer from high prices due to President Biden’s anti-fossil fuel policies and the inflation crisis, the administration’s efforts to implement more inefficient and unnecessary regulatory burdens will only cripple Texas marginal wells, which are often small operations, that produce the clean, reliable power America needs. I am proud to join Senator Marshall on this legislation to help lower energy costs by cutting red tape and freeing the thriving oil and gas industry from the Lone Star State.

Senator Marshall said:

“Thousands of Kansans depend on our oil and gas industry to support their families, and small producers simply cannot afford the financial burden that comes with excess emission costs. I am proud to lead this legislation that protects the small fringe sinks of the Democrats’ war on America’s oil and gas industry, and I will continue to fight to restore our country’s energy independence despite President Biden’s disastrous policies.

Senator Lankford said:

“Biden has made it clear that he wants to get rid of high paying energy jobs to force his radical climate change agenda,” Lankford said. “Many Oklahoma residents are involved in small-scale oil and gas production that Democrats in Congress are proposing to punish with a job-killing methane fine. My colleagues and I want to make sure that we protect our US energy independence, especially small oil and gas operations, against crushing methane royalties. If the Biden administration is successful in killing small oil and gas producers, our country will have to buy more oil and gas from abroad to meet our domestic energy needs. An American president should prefer American jobs. Sadly, this president would rather we beg for more oil from OPEC and Russia than to unleash US energy production. ”

Senator Daines said:

“On day one, President Biden declared war on Made in Montana energy, and now Montana small businesses and families are paying the price. This bill protects Montana’s small oil and gas companies from heavy fees and reports and supports Montana jobs and communities. I will continue to fight Biden’s anti-energy policies and fight for Montana energy.

Senator Moran said:

“Rather than trying to increase energy production here in the United States and tackle rising energy prices, the Biden administration is obsessed with limiting domestic production of oil and gas . This legislation will protect small wells, which often belong to families, from excessive and punitive charges, thereby protecting Kansas producers and helping the United States become more energy independent.

Senator Inhofe added:

“Fringe wells make up the overwhelming majority of Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas wells. These producers are essential to our economy and to the continued well-being and financial security of so many families and businesses. The owners of marginal wells are often small family businesses that shouldn’t be hit with high and unprecedented “fees”, which are in effect new taxes on oil and gas. However, that is exactly what the Biden administration and the Democrats are planning to do: impose hefty royalties on methane emissions that would be detrimental to countless American companies. That is why I introduced the Marginal Well Protection Act alongside Senator Marshall, which would prevent this significant tax increase on the vast majority of oil and gas producers from coming into force.

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Guest view: New rule on nutrient pollution, a ‘race to the bottom’ | Chroniclers

December 16, 2021

Montana Economy

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GUY ALSENZER, DERF JOHNSON, ANDREW GORDER and JOANIE KRESICH

Today, nutrient pollution affects 35% of Montana’s river miles and 22% of lakes, according to Montana state’s own records. Unfortunately, despite the increasing degradation of our waterways from pollution and with increasing demand for water resources every day, Governor Gianforte and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality are removing basic protections that protect them. healthy streams.

A law passed and signed by Gianforte in the last legislative session will put Montana in the unenviable position of being the first and only state in the Union to reverse nutrient protection for our precious and finite water resources. Tragically, the same waterway protection standards that Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is trying to repeal are the same standards that scientific experts, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have urged states to adopt to better protect local water quality.

Over the past six months, during the stakeholder rule-making process, regulated pollutant interests have worked with DEQ to rescind strong clean water protections under a new rule. Despite DEQ’s insistence that this process was aimed at garnering feedback from knowledgeable participants, it’s time for the public to know what the process fundamentally represents: a partisan effort to relax pollution controls for the biggest polluters. state and remove existing scientific measures to assess damage or health of watercourses. This winter, the public will see the fruits of vested interests in a rule that proposes the passage of an unproven, ambiguous and open process focused on relaxing pollution controls.

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What has been missing is a meaningful discussion of the known risks of unprecedented reductions in DEQ pollution control, which will allow increased nutrient pollution in our water. Nutrient pollution, in the form of excess nitrogen and phosphorus, comes from septic tanks, wastewater treatment facilities, laundry detergents, fertilizers, manure, and stormwater runoff. The excess nutrients perpetuate ongoing algal blooms that negatively impact the health of waterways and aquatic life. It also puts at risk Montana’s second-largest sector of the economy, Montana’s outdoor recreation industry, and the health of the waterways that attract visitors. Finally, by removing the standards that determine whether a body of water is polluted, the health of thousands of Montanais’ drinking water sources becomes all the more uncertain. The elimination of proactive, science-based pollution controls is a critical failure to protect the local water quality in our streams, rivers and lakes, as well as human health.

The new rule prompts a “race to the bottom”, where point polluters (treatment plants, refineries, mines and other direct discharges into water) will not be held responsible for the pollution they contribute to the course of water. local water. While removing scientific protections, DEQ also pretended to control the known negative impacts on water quality of sprawling growth or irresponsible use of fertilizers, omissions that can only be attributed to a lack of political will.

Rolling back nutrient pollution has been a brinkling action game, with clean water advocates and even the EPA – which is legally bound to review and approve the proposed rule – s ‘officially opposing the pending rule because it ignores the basic reality that it is diametrically at odds with science, our right to a “clean and healthy environment”, the demands of the Clean Water Act and our values ​​of clean water. On the other hand, DEQ and special interest polluters have united against common sense and science-based pollution standards.

Montana was a national leader when it adopted digital nutrition standards in 2014; now we’re on the verge of being the first state in the country to roll back the pollution controls that protect our waterways and to educate when, where and how to restore waterways to health. In the face of climate change, warming water, development pressure, variable snowpack and persistent drought, Montana should invest in proven strategies that build local resilience and protect cold, clean water, without threatening it with more pollution. An opportunity for public comment on the dismantling of the pollution standard opens on December 24 on the DEQ website.