The Billings Outpost

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Support Iran deal

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke the real truth about the nuclear agreement: “This deal isn’t perfect and no one trusts Iran, but it has become clear to me that the world is united behind the agreement with the exception of Israel.” She is giving her support for the agreement.

If I am correct, there is a five-year period in this agreement, and a lot can happen in five years, and just possibly something good. If the Congress defeats it, we will be outside the world of nations.

Let the war boys stick with the present air war and training of these so-called allies. No ground force war. Let’s keep on talking.

James O. Southworth


Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:17

Hits: 116

Give up on fires

Stop fighting those forest fires!

If you have ever seen pictures of the mountains in Arizona and New Mexico, then you know what the mountains of Montana are destined to look like in just a few, short decades with the advent of global warming. Let those wild fires “burn baby burn.”

There is no stopping the inevitable now, because the high mountain desert is moving our way. No one can justify the cost in money, material and manpower to stop what God himself has given you.

Asa’el Avraham



Last Updated on Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:11

Hits: 158

Great article

Great article on garbage by Cara [Chamberlain, Outpost, June 4]. Hope a lot of people see it and take it seriously. It’s their children’s futures at stake ... . Hope they realize that.

Robbi Robinson



Last Updated on Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:10

Hits: 210

Fix Social Security

When I was campaigning in House District 67 last year, I had one woman tell me she would never vote for a Democrat because she didn’t want the government telling her what to do. I felt this woman had already judged me because I was running as a Democrat. It is really sad that “politics” are becoming so polarized that civilized individuals of differing views cannot sit respectfully in a normal conversation and find issues of mutual interest and concern.

I grew up in a strong Republican household. I’m talking about Republicans who cared about conservation and knew that you had to take care of the land so that it would take care of you. This household valued water, because the livestock needed clean water free from contaminants to thrive. So you see, this person really did not take a chance to get to know me. Perhaps if I had not been judged so harshly, we could have had a conversation.

When Congress started the 114th session, within the first 24 hours, a rule was passed that would not allow for the reallocation of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD-I) and Social Security Old Age Trust accounts. This has been done 11 times since 1950 without any issue.

Currently, 12.4 percent (6.2 percent employer, 6.2 percent employee) of a person’s wages go into FICA. Of this 1.8 percent goes into the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and the remainder goes into the Old Age Trust Fund. Reallocation means that for a period of two years, 2.8 percent would go into the Disability Insurance Trust. After two years, it reverts back to 1.8 percent. This would balance both funds and they would be able to make full payments through 2033. If this reallocation does not happen, at the end of 2016, every single person who receives SSD-I will take a 20 percent cut in their payment.

This is harmful to the most vulnerable in our state. These payments are modest and very difficult to get. Typically, it takes three tries to be accepted. I know two individuals who are on SSD-I who receive help from their parents because they cannot afford to pay for essentials. I’m sure there are more people in this situation. Imagine decreasing already stressed budgets by 20 percent. How many will be forced to decrease their prescription drugs, re-use disposable medical equipment and become susceptible to additional illness or disability?

In Montana, the public’s testimony has been falling on deaf ears. Perhaps with a little more time, our congressional leaders in Washington will do the right thing and allow a reallocation in Social Security. Please contact your congressmen and ask them to change this. Allow the reallocation so that people living in poverty won’t be hurt even more.

I want to thank Sen. [Jon] Tester for his recent votes to expand Social Security, refuse cuts to Social Security and allow legally married same-sex couples to be afforded equal access to Social Security Benefits. I would also like to point out that not a single Republican voted yes on any of these amendments.

Virjeana “Jeannie” Brown


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:02

Hits: 380

Deal with climate change

On July 7, the Gazette opined that Congress should address real problems, not Obamacare. Amen to that, but the Gazette’s four priorities - budget, transportation, military resources and job growth - are inextricable from (unmentioned) climate change. 

Most climate scientists, 97 percent, tell us that the evidence shows climate change is already upon us, and is caused by fossil-fuel emissions.  Wildfires, drought, floods and storms are busting emergency and infrastructure budgets. 

Climate change contributes to geopolitical instability, as the military has warned in its most recent assessment. Economic damage, especially in agriculture, imposes costs and is worst in poor countries. Future generations will have the transportation and energy systems we start building today, if we start.

Solving these problems means addressing climate change. Citizens Climate Lobby ( lobbies Congress to create a Carbon Fee and Dividend, meaning a fee is collected on carbon and proceeds are refunded to all Americans, to offset the additional cost of fuel and products. Because higher income groups use far more fuel, most households would receive more in dividend than the fee costs them.

This is a revenue-neutral market-based plan to reduce carbon emissions. A study, conducted by Regional Economic Models Inc., examining a carbon fee and dividend, found that such a plan would add 2.1 million jobs over 10 years. Improvements in air quality would save 13,000 lives a year.

Climate change and its solutions are intertwined with the Gazette’s problem list and solutions. Everything is connected.

Mary Fitzpatrick


Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:01

Hits: 308

Medical marijuana at risk

Billings car salesman Steve Zabawa, along with Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, seek to overturn Montana’s Medical Marijuana law.

Steve Zabawa has once again had the language approved for a 2016 ballot initiative that seeks to overturn Montana’s medical marijuana program. Mr. Zabawa tried to have Initiative 174 added to the ballot in 2014, but received only about 3,600 of the approximately 25,000 signatures needed to qualify it for the ballot.

Mr. Zabawa is the founder and chairman of Safe Montana, a group that seeks to keep Montanans safe by making it illegal for sick and dying patients to have access to medical marijuana. Mr. Zabawa’s website claims that the “Safety of Montana’s kids and families a top priority” (sic). Mr. Zabawa has no formal medical training, but he seeks to end access to a doctor-recommended plant that helps thousands of sick Montanans.

The other man seeking to overturn Montana’s medical marijuana program is Attorney General Tim Fox. Mr. Fox has filed an appeal seeking to overturn Judge James Reynolds’ permanent injunction banning the most unconstitutional parts of Senate Bill 423, Montana’s current, and heavily contested, medical marijuana law. If Tim Fox is successful in his appeal to the Montana Supreme Court, the medical marijuana program in Montana will end.

Doctors would only be allowed to write recommendations for 25 critically ill patients a YEAR or face a costly investigation by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners. Medical marijuana providers would only be able to grow marijuana for up to three patients and would have to do it for free, as compensation of any kind would be illegal.

Assuming patients could find a doctor to do the recommendation, the only patients who could have access to medical marijuana would be the patients who could grow it for themselves. Leaving about 9,500 patients without access to their medicine. Those are the patients who cannot grow for themselves because of illness, housing or other circumstances.

If the Supreme Court rules against medical marijuana patients and providers, the program would be effectively shut down within a week.

The result would be loss of access to medical marijuana for the patients who choose to use it over addictive and dangerous prescription narcotics. But there will be a thriving black market of unregulated marijuana flowing through Montana from every corner.

These two men, along with the complacent Montana legislature, seek to take away what almost 12,000 Montanans call medicine and send them into a nightmare of prescription drug use that may very well cost some of them their lives.

In 2015, while the rest of the country moves forward on the issue of medical marijuana, Montana alone is in the shameful position of hurting thousands of its own citizens as it seeks to end access to medical marijuana within the state.

Elizabeth Pincolini


Last Updated on Thursday, 25 June 2015 13:28

Hits: 317

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