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A GREAT horned owl is keeping a close eye on proceedings in the courtroom of District Judge Mike Menahan from its nest just a few feet away from the Lewis and Clark courthouse.

And Menahan, an avid bird watcher, and a court clerk have been closely watching the owl, which they dubbed Ollie. They've set up a watching station in the courtroom, complete with binoculars and a camcorder that can record Ollie's activities.

Ollie took over a crow's nest, and Menahan believes she's a young mother. If so, that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. "There's not a lot of food around here," he noted.

Moreover, the nest is near busy Broadway Avenue, which would be dangerous territory for any young owls that flutter out of the nest toward the street.

Sometimes even a judge can't keep the streets safe for younger ones.


AS AN INCUMBENT, Sen. Jon Tester will enjoy a number of advantages as he runs for re-election: Name recognition, the ability to raise campaign funds, the backing of Democratic allied groups, no significant primary challenge, and so on.

Tester has won statewide elections twice before, but he will now have to run in a state that President Donald Trump won by 20 points. That helps explain why Tester just came out with a campaign ad that touts how he sponsored or co-sponsored 13 bills that passed, and then were signed by Trump.

Despite some advantages, Tester will be no shoo-in. A recent national poll showed that Tester is the most vulnerable Democratic senator seeking another term. The survey done by SurveyMonkey for Axios showed Tester would lose by a 55-42 margin to a Republican opponent if the election were held now.

Of course, a lot could change between now and November. The Republicans haven't even picked their nominee yet from among the four men who have filed for the job.


IT IS not unusual to hear a fellow Montanan say we live in the middle of nowhere. And now there's some proof for that claim.

Especially if you live in Glasgow. Here's why: A team of researchers at Oxford University -- working with the Washington Post -- analyzed all the places on the map in the contiguous United States to determine the points that were the most distant from populated places, or most anything else. Or to put it more simply, they wanted to know, what was the middle of nowhere?

Their evidence pointed to Glasgow.

"Of all towns with more than 1,000 residents, Glasgow, home to 3,363 people in the rolling prairie of northeastern Montana, is farthest — about 4.5 hours in any direction — from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people," said the Post..​​


WHERE DO you go when you're a celebrity and you want to lay low after going through a bitter divorce? Well, the solitary mountains of Montana might be a good choice.

That's just what Ashton Kutcher did after his official split from Demi Moore, taking a weeklong "spiritual" visit to Big Sky. Kutcher, the former star of 'That 70's Show' and 'Punk'd,' claims he lived on just water and tea for the week. “I started to hallucinate on day two, which was fantastic … It was pretty wonderful,” he told his old friend and fellow actor Dax Shepard in a podcast interview.

Kutcher also had a pen and notepad, so he wrote down all his regrets about past relationships, and then wrote the women letters expressing how he had been wrong. He's now married to actress Mila Kunis, and they have two children.

While news accounts of Kutcher's trip to Montana imply he spent his week roughing it in the wilderness, Buzz bets his "spiritual" visit took place at one of the million-dollar homes at Big Sky's Yellowstone Club. Kutcher worked as a model before beginning a long, successful career as an actor. He's also becoming well-known as a venture capitalist.


JIM MESSINA, the University of Montana graduate and 2012 manager of Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign, raised eyebrows the other day when he appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and knocked the relevance of public polls so early in an election campaign.

"I think all public pollsters should be shot," he declared.

Messina, who graduated from UM's journalism school in 1993, has been honored by the university on several occasions. He was named a distinguished alumni in 2013, and also was the university's commencement speaker that same year. 

After graduation, he worked for US Sen. Max Baucus before he became a top official in the Obama Administration, and then ran Obama's re-election campaign manager. He was hailed by the media as the "Fixer" for his work on the Obama campaigns and political promotions.

But in more recent years his political success has been more decidedly mixed. After leaving the Obama Administration, he set up a political consulting firm that has put much of its focus on campaigns in Europe, where he suffered a series of defeats that included the Brexit vote and the Italian reform plan.

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THE BUZZ

Attorney General Tim Fox talks with Dr. Nate Buffington about his recent colon cancer surgery. (Great Falls Tribune)

OTHER SOURCES
DAILY NEWSPAPERS 

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


April 21, 2018

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After colon cancer surgery, Attorney General Fox says prognosis good

Outgoing UM official raises questions about role of UM president's wife

Montanans told to prepare for flooding

Suspected E. coli cases linked to lettuce found in 3 MT counties

UM graduate wins Pulitzer for novel, 'Less'

Friends, family upset over shooting of Lodge Grass man by BIA officer

Leading wilderness advocate Stewart Brandborg dies at 93

Great Falls police cleared in fatal shooting

Gianforte raises more money than 5 Democratic challengers combined

Interior Department watchdog didn't have full info on Zinke trip

Bounty hunters broke in, handcuffed Lolo man over $115

Battle between state agency, liquor store still rages after a decade

Patients cope with pain as state reduces opioid prescriptions

State steps up fight against chronic wasting disease

Skier dies in avalanche near Bridger Bowl

Pro-gun activists rally at Kalispell

MSU student's fatal overdose draws attention to synthetic drugs

9th Circuit judges block beef checkoff program, citing 1st Amendment 

Man accused of killing estranged wife faces witness tampering charge

Officer injured in car chase near Butte

Closing of Helena Industries leaves uncertainty for disabled clients

Butte residents flip after finding flares in basement

Authorities look for girl, 3, missing from Gallatin County

Complaints keep rolling in about Child and Family Services agency

Former Sen. John Melcher dies at Missoula home at age of 93

Flooding washes out, closes Pondera County roads

Billings now has one of nation's leading rates of fatal police shootings

Budget bill requires monitoring of contamination in Kootenai watershed

Democratic House hopefuls square off at Billings forum

State settles campaign dispute with conservative group for $30K

Judge vacates convictions against 2 men in 1994 murder case

Missoula police say daycare worker had 'drug den' at work

UM prepares for more cuts in faculty and programs


BUSINESS / ECONOMY


Company with MT coal leases not talking about future plans

Great Falls crowd pans plan for slaughterhouse

With help of unremitting snow, Big Sky resort sees record season

Great Falls construction firm closing after 7 decades in business

Whitefish firm says it is still owed over $100M for work in Pueto Rico

Missoula city leaders ponder tourism tax

State agency goes after Missoula car dealer

12 high-growth Montana firms to watch in 2018

Missoula judge expected to fine Canadian pharmacy millions


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

Jack Williams, 6-8 grad transfer from Pacific commits to Griz

QB battle takes center stage in Grizzly's spring game

Stevensville's Jesse Sims tagged to wear No. 37 for Griz this season

Barta taken in 3rd round by Las Vegas, then traded to Minnesota

Fairfield's Jill Barta projected to go in 2nd round of WNBA draft

Grizzly receivers will play a more physical role in offense

Whitefish Mountain Resort enjoys another record-setting year

Flathead horse 2nd at Santa Ana Derby; one of favorites at Kentucky


OPINION

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The state is an economic 'bad actor' in effort to crush Hecla

State's public foundations can't operate in secret

More must be done to reduce slaughter of Yellowstone bison

Environmental groups should withdraw ambiguous anti-mining initiative

State must reverse its weakening of felony DUI penalties

Feds should do more to reduce methane emissions


FEATURES


Livingston to join 2 other MT libraries in offering seed packets to visitors

Montana's devastating 1964 flood explained in story and photos

Butte man achieves firefighter dream after getting hand-me-down

The story of Montana's state song

UM economics professor takes on Parkinson's with grace and gusto

Missoula film makers produce guides to small MT towns to explore

Former MT detective's book on serial killer featured in documentary

Historic St. Ignatius Church offers early look at MT's faith, art, families


CALENDAR​​

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A round-up of this year's Montana concerts

Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers to play in Missoula June 9

Imagine Dragons set for MSU stadium show July 26

Dwight Yoakam to headline Red Ants Pants Festival in late July

Chris Stapleton to play in Billings Aug. 2, Missoula on Aug. 3

Magic City Blues Fest to includes ZZ Top and Phillip Phillips

Jeff Foxworthy joins State Fair lineup Aug. 3 in Great Falls

Lineup set for Decemberists' Travelers' Rest Festival Aug. 4-5

Pearl Jam plans concert at Missoula's UM stadium Aug. 13

Alice Cooper to play KettleHouse Amphitheater Aug. 18

Another round of guitar greats slated for Bigfork's Crown festival

Jason Isbell appearing at Bonner Sept. 8

Montana International Film Festival slated Sept. 13-17 in Billings

Avett Brothers to headline Sept. 16 Missoula concert

Rod Stewart moves his Billings concert to Oct. 24

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