​​​​A daily digest of Montana news


July 7, 2015

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MONTANA has moved up from 33rd to 28th in CNBC's much-watched ranking of the best states in which to do business.

The state got its best ratings in the categories of infrastructure (tied for 12th), quality of life (tied for 13th), and economy (tied for 16th). Its worst mark -- No. 48 -- was in the workforce category.

"Big Sky Country offers pristine quality of life and a strong infrastructure," said CNBC. "But its workforce is among the least productive."

The study measured the 50 states on more than 60 metrics in 10 categories of competitiveness including low business costs, technology and innovation, and education. You can visit this page to see all the measures and how they were weighted.

Minnesota finished first in the rankings, with Texas, Utah and Colorado closed behind. North Dakota was No. 6. Hawaii, interestingly, was last.


HAVE you heard about the national controversy erupting over the white Washington state woman who's been claiming she's black? Rachel Dolezal also happens to be the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and she teaches African American studies at Eastern Washington University.

And, oh yeah, Dolezal originally is from Montana's Lincoln County. In fact, the whole controversy blew up when her parents, Ruthanne and Larry (he's a former Lincoln County commissioner) blew the whistle on her subterfuge. They say they are Rachel's biological parents, though they did adopt four African-American children.

"She has not explained to us why she has disguised herself and been deceptive about her ethnicity, so we can't explain to you," Ruthanne told ABC News.

One of Rachel's adopted brothers, Ezra, also has accused her of giving African Americans a "slap in the face" by claiming to be black. 

For her part, Rachel has responded to questions by saying: "We're all from the African continent."

UPDATE: Rachel Dolezal has called off her Monday meeting with NAACP chapter members, upsetting some who want to see the issue resolved. Meanwhile, she's staying mum about what she'll do next.

UPDATE II: Rachel Dolezal announces she's stepping down as NAACP chapter president. Is her job at EWU in jeopardy?

UPDATE III: Dolezal, who said Tuesday on NBC's 'Today' show that 'I identify as black," has been released by Eastern Washington. 


HANSJORG WYSS, a Swiss billionaire who has pumped millions of dollars into Montana environmental projects, has a long record of sexually abusing women, a conservative news outlet says.

A report by the Daily Caller says a number of former female employees have complained of sexual abuse by Wyss. One of them is Jacqueline Long, a Colorado woman who reached a $1.5 million settlement with Wyss. She said Wyss abused her for years while she worked for his charitable foundation, where she focused on at-risk youth and sex trafficking.

"He was not interested in these programs," she told the Daily Caller. "He was only doing it in reward for my having sex with him. It was a tool for leverage."

The Daily Caller focuses primarily on Wyss's gifts to liberal groups such as Hillary Clinton's "No Ceilings" womens' empowerment project.

But Wyss has paid special attention to Montana projects. He has been one of the main sources of funding behind the American Reserve project, which aims to set aside a large chunk of land in eastern Montana for bison. He's put up millions of dollars to help the Nature Conservancy buy land from Plum Creek in western Montana. Conservatives also complain that Wyss is also a primary source of the dark-money contributions to Montana's environmental activist groups.







EVER wished you could ride a camel, but figured there was no chance because you'd never travel to a place like Africa? Well, now Jason Mayfield has brought his camels to you.

Mayfield, who owns a Texas-based firm called Camel Discovery, has moved some of his operations to the Paradise Valley this summer, where he's offering rides on eight camels. Camel Discovery is located 10 miles south of Livingston along Highway 89 South.



THE BUZZ


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Troy woman pleads not guilty to mailing loaded gun, knife to Sen. Tester

Flathead cherry harvest starting early due to heat wave

Searchers look for missing North Dakota doctor near Bozeman

Thousands expected to flock to Butte for Montana Folk Festival

2 Butte Methodist churches closing after combined 254 years service

9th Circuit conference slated for Big Sky Resort next year

Billings man, 32, dies in what police say is 'horrible' fireworks mishap

21 acres burns when owner pours gas down gopher holes, lights it

Northwestern Montana water districts experience record demand

Judge still dissatisfied by Blixseth's answers about finances

Weather Service says tornado touches down near Chester

Helena cyclist, 17, killed after being hit by pickup

MT officials see fire danger much higher than last year's levels

State sees one of nation's highest rates of re-enrollment in Obamacare

As fireworks bans take hold, retailers see business drop dramatically

Canadian cold front should cool off Montana on Sunday

Man, 55, suffers leg injuries when ultralight aircraft crashes

Montana researchers find solution for insect gobbling up MT wheat

As Little Shell tribe seeks federal recognition, sees hope in rule changes

Yellowstone bison gore woman, injure teen park worker

Blistering heat creating 'severe' drought conditions

Notorious killer of Great Falls man due to be released from prison

Feds reject plea to list wild horses as endangered

Judge refuses to drop charges against former Bozeman fugitive

High court overturns $52M jury verdict, but ducks damages cap ruling

Helena officials to ponder fate of memorial to Confederate soldiers

Billings mother charged with assaulting her 2 children

Judge stops state from reducing annual hike in teacher pensions

Zinke pitches his forest reform bill during Eureka meeting

Daines also calls for forest management reform

Yellowstone researchers lose radio frequency used to track wildlife

Supreme Court says Missoula police were wrong to seize Hummer

Scientists work to update brucellosis options for Yellowstone

State restricts fishing on some rivers due to low waters

Judge will hear plea of Yellowstone Club founder to be freed from jail

Bear researcher finds berry food sources scarce so far this year

New GOP chairman appoints opponents to party leadership posts

State's first case of West Nile Virus in '15 reported in Rosebud County

Lockwood polygamist family seeks marriage rights after court ruling


BUSINESS


June heat translates into record electricity use

Montana native creates online game that pays off college debt

Ag outlook: Beef prices should stay strong, but wheat may dip

Supreme Court sides with coal industry in fight with EPA

Colstrip operator says plant remains profitable for now

Fargo firm buys John Deere outlets in Kalispell, Missoula & Ronan


SPORTS / OUTDOORS


Former MSU defensive back Eryon Barnett dies

Missouri River holding up better than most MT fishing streams

Transfer guard from Oregon commits to Grizzlies

Butte hoops player, 13, with prosthetic legs inspires others

Colstrip lineman is 4th player to commit to Cats for Class of 2016

Star quarterback from Washington to play for UM


OPINION


What's in a name? And how do you spell it?

Bullock must take responsibility for bad budget errors

Billings judge: Supreme Court willing to conform law to its liking

Fighting fires teach valuable lessons, form strong bonds

A federal judge wonders if bureaucrats were inspired by Kafka

Federal lands in Montana should stay under federal control

Democrats engage in dirty politics with attack on Zinke donations


FEATURES


Statewide effort helps to monitor, protect loons

Seeley Lake festival to focus on life, writings of Norman Maclean

MSU researchers solve mysteries about Montana plants, insects

Belongings of famous broadcaster Chet Huntley donated to Big Sky

Eddie DeBartolo Jr. keeps celebrating the 4th w/ friends in Flathead

Crews recently wrap up filming of movie in Livingston area


CALENDAR

A compilation of this summer's concert activity across Montana

Hank Williams Jr. to play at Billings music fest July 11

Norman Maclean festival runs July 10-13 in Seeley Lake

Martina McBride coming to Helena stage on July 22

Butte's Evel Knievel Days offer thrills, spills July 23-25

Motley Crue, Alice Cooper take stage in Billings July 26

Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice take stage at State Fair in late July

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ryan Bingham headline Red Ants Pants Festival

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult to play at Billings fair Aug. 8

Martina McBride coming to Billings Aug. 9

Pointer Sisters to headline Billings fundraiser Aug. 29

Miranda Lambert to perform in Billings Sept. 25

Rock superstar Elton John returns to Billings Oct. 7

Little Big Town coming to Missoula town Nov. 12


Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com