The Billings Outpost

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Take care of car, health

Ever have one of those days when you learn something the hard way? Auto maintenance, OK, the shocks are bad, I’ll get to them some day. The tires are getting thin but can’t find used ones and don’t want to put out all that money for new ones. I can get a few more miles on them. Yes, I have a headlight out and the wipers work sometimes.

Coming from town one evening, it starts to snow/rain, you have your one light on, the wipers sort of clean the windshield, you hit something in the road, and due to the shocks not holding and the tires not gripping the road, you lose control. Down through the borrow pit you go, into a power pole, through the fence and out in some farmer’s field.

When everything finally stops you get out to check the damage. The field is soft enough you can’t drive out plus you have a flat tire. The one headlight that did work got hit and is busted plus the front fenders are both dented up.

So how much money did you save by not replacing the shocks, wipers, tires, and a headlight?

You are now looking at a tow charge, replacing a power pole, fence, and more than likely your vehicle, maybe even a nice little fine.

Your health is much like your vehicle. Regular maintenance can save you a lot of headache down the road. That ache in my side usually goes away in a day or two. That chest pain – a couple of deep breaths and all is fine.

OK, so I drop a few things now and then or I reach for something and it isn’t where my hand goes.It’s just the flu; I’ll be over it in a couple of weeks.

I guarantee if you put off checkups and you will go to the hospital and the doctors won’t quit looking for something or anything they can get money out of you for.

My suggestion: Keep an eye on your gauges, pressure (tire, oil and blood), temperature (coolant and body), mirrors, make sure what is behind you, as in how did you feel last year, 10 years ago or 15? Your vehicle needs air circulation for the radiator to work; your body needs good air and blood circulation for it to work.

Get that chuck up and do the maintenance. It will save you money in the long run.

Lauris Byxbe

Pompeys Pillar


Last Updated on Thursday, 06 June 2013 19:45

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Editor gets it wrong

In the Editor’s Notebook dated May 2, David Crisp misreads gun owners and the situation entirely.

Any attempt to repeal the Second Amendment requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or two-thirds of the state legislatures and the amendment has to pass three-fourths of the states. That isn’t easy, regardless of what Thomas Jefferson thought.

The history of the Second Amendment included legislative attempts to ban firearms. The reasonable anti-gun people want to take the power out of the Second Amendment instead of repealing it. What if the 13th amendment, the abolition of slavery, had the history of the Second Amendment?

Would David Crisp brand the 13th Amendment defenders as worshipers of a sacrosanct document? Or would he see the attempt to reintroduce slavery as outrageous?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., once said that if she could have achieved what she wanted, she would have said, “Mister and Mrs. America: Turn in your guns.”

What if the 19th Amendment, women’s suffrage, had the history of the Second amendment? Would Ms. Feinstein like to hear someone say, “If I could have my way, I would say, ‘Ladies, go home! You don’t have a say in the future of this country!” Or would she see that idea as outrageous and fight against it with everything in her power?

Gun owners don’t expose their throats to wolves. They don’t disarm unilaterally in the face of their enemies, and they don’t trust anti-gun people who describe themselves as reasonable.

Would Mr. Crisp have even written this opinion if the 13th or the 19th amendments were at stake?

Jack McKenzie



Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:37

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No to Otter Creek coal

Anyone concerned with increased train traffic, expanded West-coast ports, or the industrialization of eastern Montana should cross their fingers and hope that the Department of Environmental Quality decides not to permit the mining of Otter Creek coal.

The Otter Creek mine is the largest proposed coal mine in the lower 48 states. Though the coal is located in southeastern Montana, it is destined for Asian countries where cleaner energy sources are not yet in high demand.

For transportation purposes, the mine’s approval would strongly influence the construction of the Tongue River Railroad and the expansion of various ports along the Pacific Coast. Though presented to the public as three separate projects, the development of the Otter Creek mine, the construction of the Tongue River Railroad, and the expansion of West Coast ports are interconnected undertakings. These three destructive projects are actually segments of a larger strategy for out-of-state coal companies to make money by convincing Montana agencies to allow our state to become a coal colony for China.

If Otter Creek Valley is overrun by Arch Coal, Montanans will suffer the endless effects of air pollution, aquifer depletion, property value loss and misdirected tax dollars. Eastern Montana’s most prosperous agricultural region should not be sacrificed for temporary corporate gain. The hazardous implications associated with private and public agencies’ elaborate plan to mine and transport Otter Creek coal are not worth the risks.

I hope state agencies set higher standards for the uses of Montana’s natural resources.

Mary Ellen Wolfe



Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:37

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Background checks in place

In the May 9 edition there was a letter keyed “improve safety” on which I would like to comment. To buy a firearm from a dealer at a gun show, the dealer has to have a federal firearms license and the purchaser is given a background check according to statute.

Fifty or more percent of those buying space at gun shows are selling items ranging from needlework to helicopters. A background check is not needed to buy these items.

To legally purchase a firearm from the internet, the weapon must be shipped to a dealer with an FFL, who then charges a varying amount to call in the background check before the weapon is released. It is safe to say that in any legal transaction involving firearms and dealers, a background check is mandatory.

If the transaction is between individuals, a background check is useless because criminals are hardly concerned with background checks as they steal their firearms or get them from the black market.

I fail to see where more laws on background checks are going to improve gun safety or stop illegal sources of firearms. The government is not enforcing the laws already on the books so more laws would just sit there also.

How are more laws regarding background checks going to improve safety?  The law-abiding citizens who go through the background checks are not those who cause problems with guns. As far as “gun nuts” go, I suppose the British thought the colonists were gun nuts as well as they were fighting for their liberty and as we know the major cause of the Revolutionary War was the king’s attempt to disarm the colonists.

Congress was astute enough to realize that more  background laws would be an exercise in futility. And let’s not even talk about gun trafficking!

Keith Babcock



Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:36

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Prison programs ineffective

Kim Gillan [Outpost, April 25] was very selective about her choice of responses. Ever the politician (ex, that is), remember she is a grant writer with a successful track record.

She missed several key points of my letter [April 4], including the daily abuse and discrimination against female inmates. She can pump all the cash she wants into the Montana Women’s Prison, but until she recognizes the sexual discrimination rampant in the prison, such cash is a waste of taxpayers’ money and will never alleviate the problems she claims to seek to alleviate.

For example, the men at the Montana State Prison have the ranch, dairy farm, furniture factory, a gift shop, a wide range of profitable hobby opportunities, cottage industry handicrafts and even online sales. On the other hand, the women have none of these.

Most, if not all, of the programs Gillan refers to for the women have been discontinued.

In fact, last year the computer lab was closed because a female inmate committed forgery and had unlawful online contact via the computer lab. She learned her computer skills at Montana State University Billings.

All of the sexual traumatic experience techniques are totally worthless. For instance, the TAMAR program was created for sexually molested young girls (but it is used for sex offenders as well). Page 54 lists 62 self-soothing techniques, including star gazing, calling 800 numbers (to hear human voices), lighting scented candles, walking in the park, drinking hot cocoa and taking bubble baths. Page 53 is similar with another 62 suggestions (useless to inmates) on how to heal past sexual trauma.

But my favorite suggested distraction technique instructs prisoners to experience the sensation of sex. This distraction technique clearly conflicts with the program’s overall intent. The obvious conflict is further advertised in the staff instructions to balance out distraction techniques with the class designed for male sex offenders.

With the legislative session’s end, the Montana Senate’s Law and Justice Committee will begin work on two approved bills: 1) to study the overall effectiveness of the parole board itself and 2) to conduct a thorough review of the operations of the entire Montana Department of Corrections.

My hope is that the committee will address the gender bias and discrimination against women as well as sexual misconduct committed by the prison staff. All of these offenses occurred on Kim Gillan’s watch as Montana senator and as an official representative of MSU Billings.

How much taxpayer money paid her to further dead-end failures of programs that contradict their own ends?

May Simmons



Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:35

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Cheaper to save energy

The Empire State Building, constructed in 1931, has recently undergone a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit. It now uses 38 percent less energy than it did a few years ago. The owners invested $20 million in improvements, and the building now saves $4.4 million per year in utility costs. That’s a 4.6 year payback, equal to a return on investment of 22 percent. That far out-competes almost anything in the stock market, and it’s far less risky.

What can we learn from this?

1. Existing buildings can be retrofitted into high performance buildings.

2. There are significant opportunities for reducing energy use in this country for roughly 25 percent of the cost of building new power plants.

3. We can reduce climate emissions considerably in this country at a profit. Energy efficiency is probably the best investment that can be made.

4. It is foolish for anyone to even consider investing in coal, particularly given the healthcare and climate change costs it imposes on society.

A national energy policy that has energy efficiency as its foundation does more to create jobs, reduce dependency on foreign energy, improve our environment, and preserve our nation’s financial resources than any other approach.

If that makes sense to you, please let your government representative know.

Ed Gulick



Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 00:34

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