By KIM DAVITT
Most of us don’t need to look far to find someone we know and love who has lung disease. Perhaps it’s a grandmother with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) or a child with asthma.
For all of these people, particle pollution makes breathing even more difficult. On days when air is bad, those with COPD may need supplemental oxygen. People with asthma may need to take extra medicine and stay indoors. Poor air quality days can send those with lung diseases to emergency rooms. Even in Montana’s Big Sky, there are days in some of our communities when it’s hard to catch a breath.
A long-awaited proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would provide some much-needed relief by setting stronger limits on airborne particles, or “soot.” Sources of particle pollution include diesel exhaust, wood smoke, fly ash and coal-fired power plants.
Last Updated on Monday, 13 August 2012 08:02
By Martin Olsson
My, how time flies. It has been four years since the financial crises of 2008, wherein all Montanans became familiar with the federal government’s “too big to fail” policies. The Federal Reserve has stated that the 2008 financial crises demonstrated that many of the large banking firms were too large, too levered, and too interconnected and, as a result, posed a tremendous threat to America’s financial stability. Further, economists have noted that the implicit government backing of too big to fail institutions encouraged excessive risk taking and damaged healthy competition in the financial market place.
Despite steps taken by Congress and regulatory agencies to prevent financial institutions from growing once again to ‘too big to fail sizes’, incredibly, the United States banking industry is now more concentrated than ever. In 2012, half of the industry’s assets are held by a mere five financial institutions with combined assets that equate to 58% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The combined assets of our country’s ten largest depository institutions equate to 65% of the banking industry’s assets and 75% of this nation’s GDP.
Community banks in Montana, like the one I work at, and elsewhere are part of the solution to this financial concentration problem. How?
Last Updated on Sunday, 12 August 2012 17:14
I’m a radical environmentalist. I’m not sure what that means, but it must be true. Certainly, I’m a member of organizations that have been labeled “radical.”
In fact, the term has appeared widely. I would guess that the majority of Montana Republicans and even many Democrats consider Montana Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation and other mainstream organizations hotbeds of radical environmentalism.
In order to make some sense of the term, I have had to parse its components: “radical” and “environmentalist.”
Radicals can be found in mathematics and in medicine, but I assume that in this instance “radical” refers to extremism. Radicals are wild-eyed, ravening creatures who clamor to destroy established institutions and who even practice violence.
And an environmentalist, I gather, is someone, usually from California or New York (strangely, never my native Utah), who cares about what is termed “nature,” as if “nature” is separate from “culture” or humanity.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2012 12:47
Last October I wrote of the involvement of Chinese-owned development corporations, not to mention U.S. taxpayers, in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan energy development.
China’s high bid had secured rights to the oil fields of northern Afghanistan. Combined with winning “bids” that gave China the rights to the copper deposits, a coal mine, generation facility, a smelter and a railroad, the combination made China the largest investor in Afghanistan.
But the question posed was this: Who will protect these Chinese assets? With the Taliban proudly xenophobic, it is a long-lasting question with the stability of the region in the balance.
According to the World Socialist website (hey, I go where I have to go; it’s not like Jon Tester or Denny Rehberg is going to talk about this when they can jive over who is most independent of party pressures) the $700 million exploration deal for the projected 1.6 billion barrels in oil reserves is expected to net from royalties, taxes, and land rent $5 billion for Kabul over 10 years of partnership with the China National Petroleum Corp.
With the total non-foreign aid budget of Afghanistan being $2 billion (actually less than Montana’s budget) this is major cash, but it won’t help.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 23:55
EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is an exchange between Eric Feaver, president of the Montana Education Association-Montana Federation of Teachers, and Carl Graham, chief executive officer of the Montana Policy Institute. MPI, a Bozeman-based think tank, launched a website on July 12 listing salaries for nearly 15,000 state employees.
The Montana Policy Institute has been crowing loudly about its new OpenGovMT.org web site that freely and cavalierly broadcasts the compensation of Montana’s state employees.
In a recent newsletter, MPI claimed “we [the people of Montana] can now have an informed debate and make decisions based on facts rather than conjecture or posturing.”
Well, perhaps ... but there’s a problem with this claim: MPI’s presentation of the “facts” is flawed and distorts the reality of state employee salaries and benefits.
MEA-MFT supports open, accountable government. If folks really want to know what state employees make, so be it, but they ought to know the truth ... unvarnished by your inaccurate presentation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 July 2012 23:42