Hunger Games: Yellowstone set

By Jim Stanford on April 1, 2013

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U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Sen. John Barrasso said the games will provide an entertaining way of determining federal funding.

Unwilling to budge on spending cuts, Wyoming’s congressional delegation announced today a new plan to turn Yellowstone National Park into a dystopic battleground in which public land managers will fight to the death for funding.

Grand Teton superintendent Mary Gibson Scott and YNP chief Dan Wenk will compete in Hunger Games: Yellowstone, along with Scott Guenther, head of the Jenny Lake rangers, National Elk Refuge manager Steve Kallin and Cheryl Probert, acting Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor.

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis held a lavish bash at Four Seasons to announce the contest, attended by hundreds of oil and gas industry executives. Lummis hailed the plan as necessary belt tightening in a time of economic austerity.

“Instead of blindly filling desks, these bureaucrats will expose themselves to feel what wretches feel, and show the heavens more just,” she said.

Sen. John Barrasso said Yellowstone’s 3,500 square miles will serve as the perfect venue for the competition. Flesh-hungry grizzly bears and wolves will add extra drama as land managers engage one another in an atavistic struggle, against a backdrop of steaming geysers and bubbling mud pots. Barrasso has signed a deal with Fox News to broadcast the contest.

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Posted under Environment, Humor, Politics, Republican Party

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America: land of opportunity

By Jim Stanford on March 6, 2013

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With Congress locked in a fiscal stalemate, federal agencies in Teton County are beginning to implement budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Citizens are preparing for the prospect of fewer climbing rangers at Jenny Lake this summer, or a possible delayed opening of some roads in Yellowstone.

This video, which has been making the rounds in social media, helps reframe the broader debate over government funding. The skewed public perception of wealth distribution shows just how far the goalposts have been moved in terms of generating more revenue vs. spending cuts.

Those who like to portray the discussion in terms of “job creators” and “makers vs. takers” should have a hard time justifying how this isn’t a banana republic, let alone a just society.

The stock market hit an all-time high yesterday, but as the N.Y. Times reported, the economic recovery has favored corporate profits while doing relatively little for adding jobs or workers’ pay. This video plainly illustrates why.

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storm’s impact hits home

By Jim Stanford on November 2, 2012

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Massive oak overturned by the storm outside the Stanford home on Long Island.

In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, National Geographic ran a cover story about the increasing number and severity of hurricanes. I sent the magazine to a friend whose parents’ home was destroyed on the Mississippi coast.

At the time I was worried about the future of New Orleans — not New York.

The images coming out of Queens and New Jersey this week look a lot like Louisiana and Mississippi post-Katrina. My family was fortunate: Being far enough inland on Long Island, flooding was not a danger. But my mom said her house shook unlike anything she had experienced in her life, and a towering oak fell over in the front yard, luckily away from the house.

My family went without power for nearly four days. Cell service was wiped out for much of that time, but mom had her trusted, wall-mounted rotary phone that allowed her to stay in touch. An oil lamp brightened the nights.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Weather

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vivacious vineyards yield political intrigue

By Jim Stanford on June 1, 2010

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Former Alliance director Franz couldn't put down the sword for long.

The Rotary Wine Fest takes some of the sting out of Cold Wet Days. Once a year the Rotarians let down their hair to raise money for scholarships, and Snow King Center was a hive Friday of furious socializing over carefully measured tastes of wine.

Oenophiles were abuzz not just over the vast selection of syrah and chardonnay but the last-minute frenzy of candidates registering to run for office. Within minutes the excited chatter turned from Leslie Petersen‘s campaign for governor to Colin Simpson‘s appearance at the rink to the real bombshell of the day: Franz Camenzind running for mayor.

The hirsute, ponytailed leader of the Alliance stepped down last year to make more time for hiking and wildlife watching, and kept his next move close to the vest.

Mayor Mark Barron faces his most serious challenge yet as he seeks a fifth term at the helm of town. Franz is a warrior who in his many years on the front line of every conservation battle commanded respect even from his foes.

Both men will have to answer tough questions during a campaign that likely will pit business interests against preservation. Where Barron will face criticism from older residents over the changing face of town, Camenzind will face skepticism from young people who worry whether they will have a future in Jackson.

The day’s developments unfolded against the backdrop of BP’s failure to plug the gushing oil geyser in the Gulf of Mexico, lying about its chance for success, and using hundreds of workers as props for the president’s visit to the coast, only to truck them out once the cameras were gone.

The pressure had been building in the riser of my head. It was time for a blowout, and as I turned toward the middle of the rink, I spied a target: Colin Simpson, Republican candidate to be the next governor of Wyoming.

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Posted under Democratic Party, Environment, Politics, Republican Party, Town Government, Wyoming

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spill, baby, spill

By Jim Stanford on May 11, 2010

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Aerial view of oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, via Greenpeace.

With 4 million gallons or more of oil spilled into the Gulf, a U.S. Senate committee is holding a hearing today to investigate the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling accident.

Ever-astute Jackson media maven David Swift was quick to note a Web site that translates the scale of the spill to local communities. Swift pointed out that if the disaster had occurred in Jackson Hole, the oil sheen would stretch nearly to Yellowstone Lake to the north, cover half the Wyoming Range to the south, stretch as far to the east as Meeteetse and to the west as Swan Valley, Idaho.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that is listening to testimony as executives from BP, Deepwater and Halliburton trade blame. The N.Y. Times reports:

“[Barrasso] underscored the Republican theme that despite a horrific accident, there is still a logic to offshore drilling. ‘It’s important to remember that this tragedy does not change America’s energy needs,’ he said.”

Once again, Barrasso has it dead wrong.

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