The Billings Outpost

Missing woman sought

HELENA – State and local law enforcement officials are asking the public for leads again as the one year anniversary of a Kalispell woman’s disappearance woman nears. 

Last November, the Montana Department of Justice and the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office sought information in the case of Nicole Waller, 32, who left Fairview, Montana to return home to her three young children in Kalispell on Feb. 14, 2013.

When Waller didn’t return, family members reported her missing; Waller’s vehicle, a maroon 1999 Ford Expedition, was eventually found on the side of Highway 2 outside of Poplar. Although an extensive search was conducted, Waller was never found.

One year later, Waller has still not been located, and investigators are asking anyone with information to contact them.

Agent Mark Hilyard of the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation said, “If someone out there has any information, no matter how inconsequential that person thinks it may be, it could be what we need to break this case open.”

Although law enforcement officials won’t go into details of the investigation, they are treating it as a homicide. Agent Hilyard references a number of factors that point to foul play, including Waller’s abandoned car.

“It appeared odd that Nicole’s belongings, as well as her children’s pet guinea pigs were still in the vehicle when it was recovered,” Agent Hilyard said.  “She’s also had absolutely no contact with her family in the past year, which is also highly suspect.”

Waller, also known as “Nicky,” had brown hair and hazel eyes. She was 5 feet tall and weighed 165 pounds. 

Anyone with information regarding Waller’s disappearance may anonymously contact Agent Hilyard by calling (406) 444-7068 or the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office at (406) 758-5600.

 Tips may also be submitted online to Richland County Crime Stoppers at; or by texting the code CSRC plus your message to: 274637 (CRIMES).  You may be eligible for a cash reward for information regarding this case.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 21:24

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Plenty of ways to find magic in Valentine’s Day

By SHARIE PYKE - For The Outpost

Doctors of literature agree. The great works of history have only two themes: love and death.

And sometimes those two emotional earthquakes go together. But Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate amour; a red rose, red heart, red letter day, a time to celebrate life at the tail end of winter.

Lovers first exchanged Valentine greetings in the Middle Ages by composing verses and then either reciting them or singing them. Paper valentines came into existence in the 1500s and became generally available in the 19th century, when most people could read and inexpensive color printing made lovely cards possible.

E-cards are fun, but most people like to hold their valentine in their hands and even save them over the years. Always add a personal message, even if it’s only “Love” and XXOO. If you’re blessed with both time and creativity, make your own valentines.

The dollar store sells those paper doilies in white, gold and silver along with red construction paper.

“Charley’s sweet and Charley’s neat. Charlie is a dandy. Charley, he’s a nice young man. He brings his girl some candy.” And she reciprocates, the folk song says, by baking him a cake from the best ingredients.

Food as a token of devotion has been around since the beginning of the world. Male kingfishers bring their lady a fish, with the minnow being preferred. Male chimps show their interest with meat, fruit and veggies, persisting in their courtship until their love responds.

Human lovers should think outside of that heart-shaped box. There’s a sexy scene in “Tom Jones” (1961) where Mrs. Waters seduces Tom by simply eating a piece of chicken, tearing off pieces and licking her lips while keeping eye contact. It’s both comic and bordering on the pornographic.

Passionate dining includes more than applying whipped cream applied to various body parts. You may feed your beloved anything from traditional chocolates to slices of organic apple with tasty kisses in between.

Most women, no matter what they may tell you, like jewelry. But “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is only half of the truth. Who can forget that moment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when Paul gives Holly Golightly the engraved ring from the Crackerjack box?

At the other extreme, Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor with one of the costliest pendants in the world: a 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond, now called the Taylor-Burton, for which he paid well over a million dollars. This may have been too expensive, even for Burton in his heyday.

When you’re buying a glittery gift, use your common sense. If you’re well heeled and present her with a cubic zirconia, you’re name is mud. Your miserliness not only tells her that you don’t value her, she will also know that it’s a harbinger of the days and years to come.

Of course, Valentine’s Day is only 24 hours long. Even the grandest statement will become only a memory along with the initial infatuation that spawned it. Here are some ideas to keep the love light glowing.

Send little love notes, preferably written, not emailed. (The internet is eternal and open to the public.) Tuck a message in a pocket, a lunch. Go all out and buy a card for no reason.

Does he/she have a favorite movie? If you don’t own it, rent it. Then watch it together while you eat popcorn and snuggle. Take turns selecting the week’s epic.

Buy a bottle of your favorite wine and pour it into lovely glasses, maybe even the two from your wedding. Link arms and drink from the other’s glass. You’re on your own from here.

Give your partner a foot massage. Use scented oil and give every little piggy his due. This humble act should be reciprocal, by the way.

Forget the stereotypes. Send your man flowers at work. A single red rose says everything. Men, do you know what her favorite color is, her favorite perfume or flower? Find out, then act accordingly. Pick a day at random and have the gift delivered.

Treat your partner with the same courtesy you would an associate at work. If he/she were a client, you’d be clean, brush your teeth, put on your make-up, shave. You’d talk in complete sentences and be attentive to their ideas. The person sharing your life deserves no less.

And above all, touch each other. Touch with your eyes, your thoughts, your prayers, your words, your actions. Hold hands when shopping. Hug and kiss each other at the end of a hard day. Then when the tough times come, and they always do, you’ll already be in the habit.

A final tip for everyone. No matter what the proverb says, making up should always come before kissing. Sex does not say “I’m sorry.” Flowers and candy do not say it, nor does cooking his mother’s spaghetti sauce. Actually talking calmly about what went wrong, then saying those words, does.

Then, with the spiritual and the emotional in order, the physical may surpass your expectations. May you walk in love all year long.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 February 2014 00:22

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Bob Gibson, an information officer for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, disputes several statements that appeared in a Jan. 23 story in the Outpost about Montana’s declining deer population.

First, Mr. Gibson said that quotations were incorrectly attributed to him. He did not speak at the meeting, he said, and the quotes should have been attributed to Shawn Stewart, a wildlife biologist from Red Lodge.

Second, he said that the name of J.W. Westman was misspelled in the story.

Third, he said that the article incorrectly reported that the deer population had been affected by chronic wasting disease. The disease has not been found in Montana’s wild deer population, he said.

Finally, he said the article referred to a six-week hunting season. The season is five weeks long, he said.

The author of the article, Brad Molnar, says the information about chronic wasting disease came from Montana wildlife officials at the meeting and other sources, some of which note that the disease has been found at least in captive deer in Montana. Mr. Molnar noted that the hunting season does cover six weekends.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 February 2014 09:44

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Don’t miss map display

By WILBUR WOOD - For The Outpost

Hear ye! Hear ye! To all devotees of historic maps, or students of regional history, or both: be sure to visit the Yellowstone County Museum this month, to catch a fabulous display of some two dozen maps depicting territory that became (1) the western United States, (2) the state of Montana and (3) the Yellowstone Valley region.

The YC Museum is a venerable brown wood structure that you see just south of Logan International Airport, atop the Rimrocks north of downtown Billings. To get there on wheels, drive into the airport, pass the terminal, and circle around to a parking lot conveniently adjacent to the museum.

It’s well worth the trip.  When Elizabeth and I—two confirmed map enthusiasts—visited the exhibit last month we asked the curator, Rebecca Bakken, how long the show would be up.

“Through November,” she said, “but the Museum is closed the month of December.” 

She thought the map show likely would continue into 2014, but at that point she could not say for sure.

That’s why you need to go there before the end of November. (Elizabeth and I intend to return for a second viewing.)

The earliest maps include fanciful imaginings of the geography of the West, based more on hearsay or conjecture than on actual exploration.  The oldest map on the wall is dated 1778, two years after the Declaration of Independence.  It’s called “A New Map of North America” and when you locate the general area where Montana would be, there is no Yellowstone River and what came to be called the Missouri River is flowing out of a large (and absolutely mythical) lake.

By 1803, a map commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin—for use by the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their journey up the Missouri—is slightly more accurate on geographical details—repeat: slightly—and also includes vague notions about territory occupied by some of the indigenous tribes in the area, information compiled in 1801 and 1802  by a surveyor for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

William Clark produced useful maps of the entire expedition from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River, then back.  (We own a book of these maps.)  A facsimile of Clark’s 1806 map of the Yellowstone River is on the Museum wall.  At the site that became Billings, Clark notes “Yellow Cliffs”—what we now call the Rimrocks.

A Jesuit Missionary, Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet (1801-1873) settled in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, and drew a map to accompany the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.  Kim Lugthart of Missoula—who curated the show and supplied most of the 20-plus maps—has said, “This is the first time anyone drew lines on a map indicating homelands of Indian tribes in this part of the world.”

Thirty years later came another map—one of three donated to this exhibit by Billings attorney Bill Cole—that indicates “definite location of the Northern Pacific Railroad through the Crow Reserve.”

It’s instructive to see the enormous amount of land, on both sides of the tracks, given by the U.S. government to the railroad—simply for “opening up the West.”

By the way, the Crow Reserve that year, 1881, was much, much larger than the present day Crow Reservation.  That is the sort of historical perspective this exhibit makes palpable. And that is what fascinates me—that, along with scanning early maps of my own native ground, the Musselshell Valley, and seeing things like the almost forgotten names of now-vanished towns.

A 1910 map traces the routes of all 12 railroads then operating in Montana.

A 1927 AAA map does the same thing for “Auto Roads in Montana.” (And yes, AAA does stand for American Automobile Association.)

Chas Weldon, YC Museum director, worked closely with Kim Lugthart to design the show, according to a Sept. 29 Billings Gazette article by Ed Kemmick, and a Museum volunteer, Bruce Larsen, played a large role in hanging the show.

Chas Weldon has said:  “This is the hardest and smartest exhibit I’ve ever done.” 

All the maps are high quality reproductions, and another smart thing Weldon and his staff did was to make sure they would keep them.

The Yellowstone County Museum also has important collections of Native American, cattle and sheep ranching, railroading and many other historical materials.  Admission is free; donations are welcomed.

If you’re interested in learning more about these maps and others, and possibly acquiring some reproductions, contact the curator of this exhibit, Kim Lugthart, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:43

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Report: 295 accidents at oil wells in 5 years


It all comes down to water. 

That’s the point of a new report from the Western Organization of Resource Councils that looks at oil and gas drilling impacts and regulations. 

Birney rancher Terry Punt says there’s an obvious need for more oversight because accidents happen frequently – although the public may not know about them. 

The report shows that since 2009, Montana has experienced 295 oil well blowouts and spills, with 83 occurring in 2012 alone.

“Montana keeps their spill records only on paper in the central office,” Punt says. “The lack of transparency is a major factor that enables limited enforcement and accountability.”

The report recommends setting standards for well-site construction, waste-stream testing and disposal, along with comprehensive monitoring and testing of pipelines.

Birney says folks don’t realize that national standards and rules don’t always cover the local landscape.

“This is why our state requires stricter standards, increased transparency, less self-monitoring, proper enforcement and an informed public,” he explains.

Birney adds that exploration and leasing have ramped up recently in Montana, and even coal bed methane production has seen an increase in activity.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 10:36

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Bill aims at timber


Big Sky Connection

HELENA – It might save the government some money – but it won’t do anything to quell the controversy over logging in the national forests. 

That’s what the Congressional Budget Office says about legislation (H.R. 1526) from Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington state to more than double timber harvest on public lands. 

Rep. Steve Daines of Montana is a co-sponsor.

Noah Matson, vice president for Climate Change and Natural Resources Adaptation with the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife, says it would come at the expense of water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and recreation.

“They’re viewing our national forests as big ATM machines, that they can just level out to fill county coffers,” he says. “It’s not a sustainable, long-term solution. It’ll probably create a lot more problems.”

The CBO report estimates that the bill would mean $2 billion in additional timber sales over the next 10 years. 

But at the same time, the report estimates that counties would actually receive less government money than they do now. 

H.R. 1526 has been in the House Rules Committee this week, the final stop before heading to the floor for a vote.

The bill makes logging a requirement on some public forestland, speeding up the timber sales process and making it more difficult to challenge. 

Matson predicts that clear-cutting would be likely under this proposal – although that’s what prompted limits on logging 20 years ago, for its effects on the environment and wildlife.

“There’s no way to achieve the level of cut that they’re proposing, and there’s a reason that most of them waive in some form environmental laws to achieve their timber-cut objectives,” Matson maintains. “So, as shocking as it is to the public, the end result of these proposals would be increased clear-cuts.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 October 2013 19:38

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Fall ArtWalk fills downtown Billings

Galleries and businesses in the downtown will open their doors from 5-9 p.m. Friday for ArtWalk in downtown Billings.

New work by local and regional artists. Food and beverages, live music, and painting demonstrations will be featured along with the art exhibits.

The ArtWalk bus will begin its two-hour tour of the galleries, led by Renee Christianson, at the Good Earth Market at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Maps will be available at the participating galleries, or see Page 17 in this issue.

Highlights of the art exhibits include:

• Melissa Burns, aka GirlWood, will show her wood-burning skills at Big Sky Cheap Tees, 2911 Third Ave. N. Each piece of her art is directly drawn or transferred on to wood by hand and then a two “pen” 130-watt unit is used to burn each line and shade every area of the wood until the piece is completed.

• Clark Marten Photography, 2606 Montana Ave., will open its new downtown studio, just south of the Downtown Post Office, for ArtWalkers to enjoy on Oct. 4. Stop in and see the professional photographic talents of Clark Marten and his crew.

• The Apple Gallery at the Good Earth Market, 3024 Second Ave. N., will present “From Sea to Shining Sea” highlighting the photographic talents of Gary Castle. Castle will give a short artist’s talk at 6 p.m. His photos have been published in a number of publications around the U.S. including Worldwide News and the Colorado Cattlemen. He also owns a woodworking shop where he builds artistic rustic furniture. The deli special will be served from 4:30-7 p.m. along with live music. The exhibit may be viewed through Nov. 29.

• The Big Sky Blue Gallery, owned by Laura Anderson at 2702 Minnesota Ave., will be open for its first ArtWalk. Featured artists will include Dana Zier and Laura Anderson. Stop in to see their area paintings in oil and acrylic. Anderson will be taking portrait commissions.

• Sandstone Gallery will feature gallery artists William Crain and Madelein Bladow on ArtWalk. Ralph Scott, biologist, entomologist, scientific illustrator and photographer, will be the featured guest artist. He graduated from Ohio University with degrees in art/photography and zoology and then continued study in medical and scientific illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. He provided both the illustrations and color plates for the Field Guide to the Grasshoppers, Katydids and Crickets of the United States published in 2004 by Cornell University Press.

Curt Layman will be on hand to sign copies of his new book for children ages 8-14, “The Tree of Lights.”

• Three well known women artists will hang their art together at the McCormick Café. Jacquie Kittson, Linda Duncan and Jean Mehlhaff will exhibit through Oct. 31. Live music will be provided by Inner Voices from Seattle, Wash.

• The Northern Hotel will feature Stillwater Spirits, the fine jewelry of Cindy Lou Smith. The jewelry is made with natural stone and with natural healing powers.

• Neal Ambrose-Smith’s “Salish Yacht” will be on view at the Catherine Louisa Gallery, 118 N. Broadway, for ArtWalk. The artist often mixes tribal imagery and humor with current events and political issues. Neal Ambrose-Smith and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith have recently been added to the gallery’s list of contemporary artists.

• Jim Baken, professor of art at Rocky Mountain College, will exhibit his large elk paintings at the Billings Food Bank, 2112 Fourth Ave. N. As an artist, Baken explores the difference between light and dark, warm and cool, biomorphic and geometric, and then loads his work with images from art history, popular culture and unbound thinking.

“I suppose someone could say the paintings are a short record of the artist’s intimate thoughts as he comes to grips with the fact that he kills what he loves,” he says.

• Jim Nymeyer and Barjon’s Books will present a collection of fine art photography by Billings artist Andrew Thomas. The exhibit opens on ArtWalk and continues through November. The collection encompasses images from the Billings area, the Beartooth Mountains and Yellowstone National Park.  Process oriented, compositionally gifted and deeply passionate about his craft, Thomas also incorporates cutting edge digital techniques.

“Halloween Lace” will be the spirited new show at Jens Gallery & Design, 2822 Third Ave. N. With a touch of mischief and merriment, Montana artists Sue La Fountain, Gerald Kindsfather, Kris Kramer and Connie Jens explore the colors, textures and images of the season and delve into the lore of Halloween.

Metal sculpture, photography, oil landscapes, hand-made fabric masks and jewelry will be showcased. For added intrigue there will be make-up demonstrations, haunting music, and other surprises that go bump in the night.

• Prodigal Gallery, 2517 Montana Ave., returns to ArtWalk in October. Artist and painter Dan Palagyi discusses his new work.

• Monsters! Monsters created with oils, watercolors, ink and crayon will be showcased by Jason Jam for the October ArtWalk at his studio on the second floor of the Carlin Hotel.

• Stop by the Stephen Haraden Studio, 2911 Second Ave. N., Suite 235, to visit with the artist about his latest collages/paintings and see other works in progress. ArtWalkers may also register for a free gift from his gallery.

• Chinatown Gallery, 2624 Minnesota Ave., will show the work of the following artists on ArtWalk: Cameron Krizak (photography), Gloria Mang (jewelry), Kevin Morgan (paintings), Susanne McPherson (jewelry), Emily Davidson (paintings), Terry Zee Lee (jewelry), Fred DeFauw (paintings) and Shirley Chenoweth (paintings).

• Level 504 will move across the street to the Quonset Hut at 421 N. 20th St. for the October ArtWalk. New space … new art … and an evening with artists including Sidney Ayers (wood), Charlie Haagenson (Western art), Hawk and Thistle (handcrafted furniture) and Justin Choriki (random art). Live music from 6-9 p.m. features the Anything Goes Bluegrass Band.

• Underground Culture Krew, 2814 Third Ave. N., will feature Roundup artist, sculptor and wood artisan Troy Evans. Evans has created a body of two-dimensional paintings called Architectonics, or creation of line delineated by texture, color and dimension. His work has been influenced by the sites, objects, and shapes seen in “the streets.” The show will include both two- and three-dimensional work created from a wide range of media. Regular artists in the gallery include Kristin Rude, Emma Prosser, Jenna Martin, Sheri Gustke, Nic Beckman, Vincent Sanchez, Michael Beaumont, Miriam Cross and Gloria Mang.

• Susan Germer will open her studio at 2501 Montana Ave., second floor, Suite 8 for the Autumn ArtWalk. She will present fine silver jewelry, original watercolor note cards, bead embroidery, paintings and more from 5-9 p.m.

• Purple Sage Gallery, 2511 Montana Ave., and R Tompkins Fine Art, 120 N. Broadway, are two stops on the Oct. 4 ArtWalk. Robert and Gayle Tompkins will feature a different artist at each gallery among their regular artists that include John Felten, Dione Roberts, Tana Patterson, Susan Germer, Janet H. Bedford, Shirle Wempner, Thomas English, Carolyn Thayer, Neil Patterson, Michael Stanish, Susan Stone, Julie Karnos, Jerry Inman, Brenda, Wolf, Diana Mysse, Phil Smith, Steve Schrepferman and Kathleen. Purple Sage Gallery will showcase the work of Bonnie Zahn Griffith, who is a plein air painter and landscape artist who works mostly in pastels, oils and monotype printing. From Miles City, she is the president of the Northwest Pastel Society. R Tompkins Fine Art, 120 N. Broadway, will introduce ArtWalkers to watercolorist, paper maker and collage artist Barbara Kuxhausen. A resident of Casper, Wyo., having moved there from Chicago, she has exhibited with the American Watercolor Society. Of her work she writes, “A watercolor painting is like a short story. Get in, do it and get out.” Refreshments will be served at both galleries.

• Global Village, 2720 Third Ave. N., welcomes artist and playwright Connie Dillon for the Autumn ArtWalk. Her paintings reflect home environments at their best when providing comfort and sustenance. Global Village will have an evening devoted to fine paintings and treats.

• The Yellowstone Art Museum opens its doors with free admission for ArtWalkers. Stop in to see current exhibitions including Hallowed Absurdities by Ted Waddell, Immortal Glance: European Masterworks and The Elastic Past: Visual Interpretations of Life’s Early Lessons. 

• Toucan Gallery, 2501 Montana Ave., will feature the work of three Billings area artists working in diverse media. Kenneth Jarecke, an internationally working and acclaimed photojournalist, will exhibit a new series of prints conceived especially for hanging in the home. Michael Fortin, a painter, will exhibit a series of paintings that depict his ongoing recovery from the stroke he suffered only three months ago. And Traci Wolff, an artist and designer, will exhibit a series of images screen printed on pieces of purposefully rusted steel. All of the artists will be in attendance at the ArtWalk.

• Guido’s Pizza will host local artist/designer/coordinator Rich Clawson and his exhibit “Category 300.” It will be Clawson’s first solo exhibit inside or outside of what was Grafix Studio/Level 504. It will include some of the GRAFIX Collection (art purchased by Clawson) and then some representative pieces of the more than 130 art projects he worked on at Grafix Studio.

• Fall colors abound at Kennedy’s Stained Glass, 2923 Second Ave. N. Stop in to visit with owner Susan Kennedy Sommerfeld. The 2013 annual Christmas ornament will be available to order.

• Gallery Interiors, 2702 Second Ave. N., will present contemporary-realist painter David Swanson, who works from his studio in Livingston. A native of Illinois, he interprets the Western landscape in oils and watercolors. Inspired by the American highway experience, Swanson says, “I’m fascinated by the debris of our culture and its people - especially old buildings, bridges and vehicles. I’m impressed by the enormous undulating linear quality of the American landscape, and I enjoy interpreting the seemingly permanent landscape caught in a fleeting instant, or as something moves across the face of it.”

• Stop by and visit with Jeremiah Young and his young energetic team at Marcasa Clothing, 104 N. Broadway. The stop offers music, designer clothing and photography.

• David Overturf and del Alma Gallery, 2507 Montana Ave., will feature Overturf’s original photographs, acrylic landscapes on canvas by Sarah Morris, and Kevin Kurth and his Print Haven Fine Arts lithography. Morris, painter of hypercolor Montana landscapes, says, “I hope you experience the feeling of your last road trip, hike, camping trip, or even the feeling of being a Montanan, because it is a beautiful feeling to possess.”

Visit for more information or visit Billings Artwalk on Facebook to see images of the art.

Last Updated on Friday, 04 October 2013 19:48

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Local speakers criticize U.S. wartime posture

By JANE WHITE - The Billings Outpost

The United States’ potential path to bankruptcy and media coverage of war raised concerns at the Sept. 12 Billings Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Community Lecture Series.

Leila Farnum presented “The War Syndrome,” focusing on global arms trade and wartime profiteers. Farnum said she feared the U.S. may go bankrupt paying for too many far-flung military actions.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., echoed her concerns on the Sept. 22 CBS show “Face the Nation.” He said that the U.S. cannot afford to pay for multiple wars and must tend to problems closer to home.

At the BUUF, the audience viewed a world map at the front of the room and observed two books on the table, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and a book published in 2011 by TransAtlantic Press, “World War: 1945 to the Present Day; Classic Rare and Unseen photos from the Daily Mail’s photo archive.”

Ms. Farnum also discussed the status of the U.S. as the world’s largest arms dealer. Brandishing her copy of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” Ms. Farnum said, “We need to have a clear plan with an exit strategy.”

Ms. Farnum listed countries around the world where she said U.S. involvement was unnecessary: “The Arab-Israeli Wars, Soviet invasions, genocides in Kosovo, the Congo, East Timor and Darfur, and The Sudan.”

She said these wars served mainly to enrich people who managed to profit from war via the military contracting business.

“Congress passes legislation for war and the money flows to the military via private contractors,” she said. Woody Henry, a former geologist, said, “Look at our GDP and see what the military gets. It’s frightening. No wonder we have no money left for health reform. This country has always had a great disdain for standing armies. We had the three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial. And now we have got the military [as an extraneous branch].”

Another audience member said, “To follow up on money in the last half century, $8 trillion has been spent on the nuclear component alone of the military.”

Ms. Farnum said, “It bothers me that India is stockpiling nuclear weapons. I don’t think of them as a very warlike culture. Maybe they feel threatened. There is a high rate of poverty in India. They have no medical care, no schools, poor infrastructure.

“As a child, I had polio, so I know through firsthand experience that kids need health care, dental care. I am basically an advocate for children.”

She also asked, “Why do we think Iraq will change from its current warlike tribal culture into democracy within three years?” Jerry Tanskanen, another member of the BUUF, said, “On a recent ‘Democracy Now’ radio program, Wesley Clarke [now a retired general army officer] and the Bush administration said they would take out seven countries in five years: Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.”

Other attendees said they disagreed with purported reasons for wars today. A man in the back said, “At Coal Appreciation Day last week at the Metra, I found out the U.S. has more coal than anywhere else in the world. Energy should not be what we are fighting over. There are so many technological ways around energy problems. Energy is just an excuse to go to war.”

Bill Harrison, a retired architect, said, “People are saying ‘No War.’ The British Parliament’s recent refusal to strike Syria militarily is a fascinating turn of events in the world, potentially an historical event,” he said. He added, “How can we keep the media from hyping everything?”

A young man who approached the microphone said, “General Electric owns National Broadcasting Corp. and lots of other organizations. The media has a higher percentage of people who want to go to war than any other subset.”

In a tennis ball-like volley back and forth, a female audience member responded, “It’s the neo conservatives: their political views were influential during the Bush presidency. They thought it was important to act first, before some other country attacked the U.S.”

Ms. Farnum added that she suspects the media and the government of “keeping people fearful,” through constant reports of bombings in the U.S. and overseas and invasive intelligence programs like those at the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., that Edward Snowden recently revealed. Others suspected patriotism of keeping people fearful.

Susie Henry, a BUUF member who lives in Lockwood and worked for an oil company for most of her career, said, “We love our country, but there is far too much patriotism and it’s getting a little dangerous.”

Doris Harrison, Bill Harrison’s wife, who came over from Germany in the 1950s, said, “The military is a way to promote patriotism.”

Ms. Farnum said that “Korea was never a war. It was police action, but people were over there and they died.”

Another commenter ended the meeting with this question: “What will history say about our civilization 1,000 years from now?” Jerry Tanskanen then quoted Lord Acton, who said, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 09:26

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West Nile deaths confirmed

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Treasure County Health Department and RiverStone Health, have confirmed two West Nile Virus human deaths in Montana over the past week.

There have been 15 confirmed WNV cases this year.

The deceased, a Treasure County male in his 80s and a Yellowstone County male in his 70s, died of severe complications related to West Nile virus infection. The individuals had no history of travel outside the state within the past month.

“These deaths are an unfortunate reminder infection with WNV can have serious consequences,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “We want to remind people to take precautions and protect themselves as the season comes to a close.”

In the U.S. this year, 890 human cases of WNV have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, 33 have died.

Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms. Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days.

Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may be come severely infected with West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis.  Symptoms of this disease may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.

There is no treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 September 2013 09:24

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Missing person sought

This information comes from a family member: Missing since Saturday night, Sept. 7, is Joshua Breding of Billings, 26.

He was last seen at 8:30 p.m. at First Street West and Terry Avenue in Billings.

He is described as 6 feet tall, 270 pounds, with brown hair and a goatee, brown eyes and a dark mole on his neck. He was last seen wearing jeans and a dark blue and white T-shirt.

The family member said, “Josh is struggling with bipolar disease and quit taking his medication two months ago and needs our help. We have reported his disappearance to the police, notified all of his friends/acquaintances but have come up with nothing. We have no idea of his location since the 7th but are hopeful he is still in the Billings area. If you have any information about Josh, please contact the Billings Police Department.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 09:31

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