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Yellowstone's Steamboat Geyser erupted for the 30th time last weekend. That's the most eruptions since 1964, when it had 29. (Park Service)

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news


Dec. 16, 2018

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MANY MONTANANS may have never heard of Huawei, the Chinese tech and telecommunications giant, until one of its top executives was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently, sending stock markets crashing. Huawei plays a key role in China's ambitions to become a worldwide tech leader, but many analysts warn that it is a major security risk around the world.

Some Montanans also may recall that a Flathead County couple -- and many others -- contend that Huawei was involved in the murder over six years ago of their son, an electronics engineer who worked in Singapore.

Shane Todd, 31, was working for the Institute for Micro Electronics, part of a Singapore state agency, and headed a team that developed advanced technologies. Shane told his parents, Richard and Mary of Marion, Montana, that he worried his work could jeopardize US national security -- shortly before he was found dead in his apartment.

Singapore police declared the death a suicide, but his parents said evidence suggested their son was murdered. They also found a small hard drive at their son's apartment, evidence inadvertently left behind by police who confiscated Shane’s computers, cellphone and diary. The hard drive detailed plans for a project that involved the institute and Huawei.

Though the Todds have been frustrated by their inability to get anyone to take responsibility for their son's death, they are happy that there have been a number of media reports about what happened. While they now believe there is little likelihood that Shane’s death will ever be ruled anything other than a suicide, they are pleased his story will be told again.

“What we most want to see happen is attention brought to the illegal transfer of technology to China through my son’s work,” Mary Todd told the Daily Inter Lake earlier this year.


WELL, now that Montana's election results are in, we know how everyone fared, including the pollsters. 

And the interesting thing is, out-of-state pollsters came a lot closer to getting it right than their Montana counterparts. In fact, polls done by the University of Montana and MSU-Billings deserve failing grades for how much they missed the mark in some contests.

For example, a UM Big Sky poll released in early October (and conducted in August) showed Sen. Jon Tester with a 24-point lead over GOP challenger Matt Rosendale. Tester ended up defeating Rosendale 50-47. Libertarian Rick Breckenridge got 3 percent.

A Big Sky poll that came out closer to the election did show the race tightening, with Tester leading by 10 points.

An MSU-Billings poll, also from October, had Tester with a 47 to 38 lead.

By contrast, a polling firm new to Montana politics, Gravis Marketing, consistently showed a close race between Tester and Rosendale. Their September poll had Tester with a 49-45 lead; October's poll put Tester at 48, Rosendale at 45. Gold star to Gravis.

CBS News issued a September poll that had similar results: Tester 47, Rosendale 45. Also of note: A MTN/MSU poll of voters in late September and early October that head Tester leading 46-43. (Kudos to these pollsters as well, who had a good record this election cycle.)

Montanans who follow politics also were surprised by the first UM Big Sky poll that showed Democrat Kathleen Williams with a 52-38 lead over incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte. UM's later poll essentially showed them in a dead heat. So did the last Gravis poll.

Gianforte won 51-46. 

In this race, the MSU-Billings poll did much better, showing Gianforte with a 44-41 lead. A MTN/MSU poll gave Gianforte the edge, 48-40 after surveying voters in late September and early October.

Some of the biggest discrepancies between poll results and election results appeared in the initiative contests. 

The MSU-Billings poll had Montana voters approving Initiative 185 (Medicaid expansion) by a 52-39 margin (8 percent undecided). The ballot measure was defeated 53-47.

The same poll showed Montanans overwhelmingly behind Initiative 186, which would have added restrictions on mining. (44 for, 30 against, 26 undecided). The actual vote: 56-44 against.

An MTN/MSU poll on Initiative 185 was somewhat closer to the mark, showing a virtual dead heat.

The verdict from all this: The UM and MSU-Billings polls seem to be over-sampling Democrats.


SOME OF the most interesting -- and hilarious -- news you'll find in Montana's newspapers is featured in the police blotters. Consider this gem in the Nov. 7 edition of Kalispell's Daily Inter Lake:

"A noise complaint was validated when an officer arrived to check it out. The participants said they were wrapping up a game of strip poker and then quiet would resume."


HISTORICALLY, Montana's daily newspapers have given the majority of their endorsements to Democrats for the state's major offices. This year is different. So far all the endorsements have gone to Democrats.

For those on the right, in these polarized times, this is just confirmation of the media's liberal bias.

For those on the left, it underscores the media's reasoned resistance to the excesses of conservatives in general and President Trump in particular.

So far this fall, endorsements of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester have come from the Billings Gazette, Missoulian, Bozeman Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, and Montana Standard

The Chronicle, Missoulian, and Gazette also have endorsed Kathleen Williams, the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte.


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Steamboat Geyser sets record for Yellowstone Park eruptions

Attorney general appeals Missoula gun ordinance to Supreme Court

Judge tosses lawsuit that aimed to block thinning project near Helena

State plan calls for 1,000 grizzly bears in northwestern Montana

Officials hope to raise $3.3M for new Montana psychiatry program

More than $70 million spent on MT's US Senate contest

Retired Great Falls priest being charged with having child porn

Advocates want to stiffen Montana's lenient drunk driving laws

UM faculty resists plan to eliminate Southeast Asia minor

Grizzly bear managers mull future after court setback

Prosecutors seek life sentence in fatal Billings carjacking

Outside groups spent over $40M on Montana House, Senate races

Carroll College faces program cuts as enrollment declines

Missoula pulls plug on sidewalk replacement plan due to high cost

2 GOP candidates remain victors after recounts completed

6 Montana artists honored with lifetime achievement awards

Dozens of MT priests accused of sex abuse were moved to new posts

Spending on Montana's US Senate contest topped $63 million

Judge rejects Idaho mining firm's suit against state regulators

Home schooling surges in Flathead Valley

Senators aim to stop epidemic of missing, murdered indigenous women

Employees of Blackfeet Head Start program admit to charges

Missoula Co deputy charged with mistreating prisoner

Bullock weighs presidential bid, but won't run for US Senate

Report: Much of the state's infrastructure is old, outdated

Practice of 'ballot harvesting,' recently banned by MT voters, in spotlight

Judge mulls whether man charged in deputy's death can be medicated

UM president's 'bell' tweet triggers minor Twitter storm

2 charged with sex trafficking of children

Former lawmaker won't be disbarred for 2010 campaign violations

Judge lifts gag order on cleanup of Anaconda Superfund site

Lake Co teen, who recently got deferred sentence, in jail again

State schools chief: Teacher sex with students should be a crime

Feds to spend up to $200M to overhaul Hungry Horse Dam power plant

Glacier Park installs hybrid engines in its jammer buses

Meagher Co officials won't oppose feds' purchase of 4K ranch


BUSINESS / ECONOMY


Outdoor recreation summit discusses value of public lands

Telecommuting helps bring some MT workers big-city wages

Colstrip power plant financial performance rated marginal

Feds to ease controls on oil drilling that aim to protect sage grouse

Regulators deny sale of Avista to Canadian utility

Colstrip's $5M in transition funds in jeopardy as utility merger falters

Flathead Lake island mansion, listed for $13.9 million, sells


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

Tyler Hall breaks MSU scoring record as Cats upset Washington State

UM falls to UC Irvine on road despite return of Akoh

Lady Cats fall to Texas Christian 71-49

UM Western football player charged with rape of fellow student

Lady Griz topple Grand Canyon 69-47


OPINION

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Making deep cuts at Montana Tech is the wrong approach

MSU should ban romantic relationships between faculty, students

Regents' pay raises for top managers raise a lot of questions

Legislature should seek a middle ground on Medicaid expansion

Secretary of State should consult local officials on use of grant funds

Lawmakers must continue expansion of Medicaid program

Despite Tester's win, Montana continues its shift to the right


FEATURES


Biography of overlooked Copper King Augustus Heinze reissued

Montana Tech offers unique underground mining class 

Lewistown vet remembers Pearl Harbor attack: 'All hell broke loose'

HGTV unveils 'Dream House' in Whitefish it plans to give away

Kalispell man's auto salvage yard is a collection of memories

The Spanish Flu ravaged Montana a century ago, killing 2,654


CALENDAR​​

Bob Seger reschedules Billings concert for January

Styx, Larry the Cable Guy performing in Billings March 23

Beatles tribute band Bongwater to play at Bonner June 2

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com