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Greg Gianforte greets supporter after winning election as the state's next U.S. House member. Analysts say that Gianforte lost ground in some counties when news emerged that he'd been charged with assaulting a reporter. But in other counties Gianforte seemed to gain ground, they said. (Bozeman Chronicle)
A daily digest of Montana news
May 28, 2017
SHORTLY after getting word that the U.S. House race had been called in his favor, Republican Greg Gianforte took the stage in Bozeman to join his allies in a celebration -- and to apologize for his attack on a journalist the evening before.
Gianforte admitted he made a "mistake" by body slamming Guardian Ben Jacobs, who had entered his campaign headquarters to ask about the GOP health-care bill. "I took an action I can’t take back and I am not proud of what happened,” he said. He then turned to the cameras and apologized directly to Jacobs.
Jacobs had demanded an apology, but when it came he was having none of it. He told CNN that Gianforte's apology was in "some ways far worse than the assault."
Meanwhile, politicians weren't the only ones behaving badly. Bozeman Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes made a good case that New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin lifted her photo of Gianforte's citation for assault without giving her credit. As the controversy unfolded on Twitter, most folks were coming down on the side of the 'small-town' reporter.
In another smackdown over the Gianforte smackdown, Butte native Rob O'Neill -- also known as the guy who shot Osama bin Laden -- sympathized with Gianforte on a Fox News show. He noted he had his own problems with reporters hounding him and his family after news came out of his role in bin Laden's death. “We have a saying up there [in Montana]: ‘You mess around, you mess around, you might not be around,'” said O'Neill.
Keith Olbermann, who got famous on MSNBC for verbally lashing President George Bush a few years back, didn't care for O'Neill's remarks. On Twitter, he called the retired SEAL an "idiot," "snowflake," and "Clownboy."
O'Neill replied that, if Olbermann could afford bus tickets to Montana, he'd provide him free "body slam lessons."
Doesn't appear that Olbermann, who now does a podcast, is ready to take up O'Neill on his offer.
A CONFESSION: Buzz is shocked -- and embarrassed -- to admit that he's tainted by "shady Russian investments."
Recently Rob Quist accused his opponent, Greg Gianforte, of having secret "Russia ties" because some index funds in his investment portfolio contain Russian stocks. The Quist campaign said Gianforte should have dumped the index funds because of Russian aggression against the United States.
In reporting on the issue, Tom Lutey of the Billings Gazette noted that Montana's public employee retirement funds also include some investments in Russian stocks. One of those Russian stock holders is the Dodge & Cox mutual fund -- a fund that has been in the Buzz household portfolio for a number of years via the state's investment system.
But don't tell Vladimir Putin. We'd rather not start getting his robocalls.
MONTANA'S Ryan Zinke, the newest U.S. Interior Secretary, may be borrowing a page from long-time Sen. Max Baucus, who used to sometimes spend a "work day" toiling shoulder-to-shoulder with everyday Montanans.
Zinke recently pitched in to help veterans who cleaned the Vietnam Memorial in the nation's Capitol. Different veterans' group clean the memorial weekly during the peak tourist season, and Zinke joined the Rolling Thunder bikers in cleaning and polishing the 247-foot wall, the Independent Journal Review reported.
The review said Zinke's participation was a sign of his "immersive" approach to his new job, which includes overseeing the nation's national parks and monuments. Since he's taken office, he's also pitched in to sweep snow off the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and given surprised tourists a tour of the large cathedral under the memorial.
FIFTEEN YEARS ago, Helena banned smoking in its workplaces, restaurants, bars and casinos. In the ban's first six months, the city's rate of heart attacks plunged by almost 60 percent. Then, when a judge lifted the ban, the rate of heart attacks climbed back to where it had been.
Three anti-smoking advocates -- Helena physicians Richard Sargent and Robert Shepard as well as UC-San Francisco researcher Stanton Glantz -- produced a study that declared the 60 percent drop in heart attacks showed that a smoking ban "not only makes life more pleasant; it immediately starts saving lives."
The study was widely reported by the media -- usually with lack of any skepticism -- and hailed by health officials and others. Soon, governments everywhere, even overseas, were enacting smoking bans, often citing the Helena study as a prime reason.
But the funny thing is, as Jacob Grier reports in a fascinating article in Slate magazine, all those smoking bans created the opportunity for much broader -- and more accurate studies -- of the impact of secondhand smoke on heart health. And they've basically found there are little if any.
"And now that the evidence has had time to accumulate, it’s ... become clear that the extravagant promises made by anti-smoking groups—that implementing bans would bring about extraordinary improvements in cardiac health—never materialized," Grier says. ''Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks, and certainly nothing remotely close to the 60 percent reduction that was claimed in Helena. The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint."
Grier says recent studies also suggest that there's no clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer. He acknowledges secondhand smoke can be a real annoyance, but that shouldn't spur society to make laws that are based on bad science.