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The United States is a whopping $22 trillion in debt, so some wags have suggested a reasonable solution: Sell Montana to Canada. 

It isn't a total solution, as they expect Canada to pay just $1 trillion for the Treasure State. But it's a start.

The idea came from Ian Hammond, a petitioner at Change.org, who's hoping to get 7,500 signatures for his idea.

“We have too much debt and Montana is useless,” Hammond wrote, with tongue planted in cheek, in support of his plan. “Just tell them it has beavers or something.”

Even some Montanans endorsed the idea. “I'm Montanan and hoping to join Canada without the moving costs,” CJ Williams wrote in support. “Let's do this. Please adopt us.”

"I'm a Montanan and really hope that becoming Canadian makes me a nicer person," said Steve Hammond.

UPDATE: Some Montana legislators have decided to weigh in on the "lets-sell-Montana-to-Canada" petition with a "let's don't" resolution of their own. 

Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, proposed the resolution so lawmakers could have a little fun amidst all the serious issues they wrestle with. 

​Rep. Jessica Karjala, D-Billings, objected, with tongue in cheek, saying: " "What about those of us who would like more maple syrup, better tea and free healthcare?"

"It's still an option to move to Canada," Mandeville replied, according to a report in the Great Falls Tribune.


IN WHAT Montana city can you feel the most safe and secure? It's Kalispell, according to a new study by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

Next on the list is Bozeman, followed by Helena, Great Falls, and Missoula.

The study was completed primarily to highlight the cities that have had the least amount of violent and non-violent crimes per population, while also bringing awareness to the cities that are more likely to have crime on a per-capita basis, the council said.

The council based its ratings on FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics and combining those with its internal population research. The study indicated that Montana has some of the highest rates of property crime on a per-capita basis. The violent crime rate also is significantly above the national average.


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.

THE BUZZ

A Montana Rail Link official scans the scene Tuesday where a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train rammed a pickup near Alberton, injuring the driver. The mishap happened Tuesday morning. (Missoulian)

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


Feb. 23, 2019

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Man hospitalized after train rams, drags pickup west of Missoula

Legislators leave preschool funding out of proposed budget

GOP infighting triggers accusations over Miles City sex-assault case

After inmate mistakenly released from jail, he's back on assault charge

Groups ask judge to delay auction of Bozeman timber sale

Daines says public lands bill still needs work

Flathead Co officials say fatal shooting triggered by meth deal gone bad

UM's McGill Hall still being cleaned of asbestos

Old mines leave behind legacy of polluted waters

Legislators want to keep state worker settlement records longer

Panel trims proposed budgets for corrections, public-defender programs

Bill would let Montana tribes borrow from state coal fund

US Supreme Court declines to hear MT rape, campaign finance cases

Ex-addict says opioid legislation could have saved her from addiction

Demoted fish and game official asks court to review his case

Bozeman skier survives being buried in Wyoming avalanche

Bill would fund school for some special needs students until they are 21

Lawmaker wants to see Montana ditch death penalty

Legislator wants state to stop enforcing federal greenhouse gas rules

Although it has plenty of dentists, Montana has poor dental health

Artic-like conditions expected to last until Tuesday

UM continues to see big drops in enrollment

Hunter, investigators look back at November grizzly attack

Industry praises proposed federal water rule, green groups pan it

GOP lawmaker plans third Medicaid expansion bill

Conservation group buys ranch, sells it back to MT landowners

Bitter cold temperatures moving back into Montana

February one of coldest, snowiest on record for Great Falls

Trial delayed for Missoula woman accused of killing 2 people

Delays expected on I-90 near St. Regis as crews blast avalanches

Why aren't chinook winds warming MT up? They're too high in the sky

BUSINESS / ECONOMY


Bills that promote hemp growing in Montana move forward

MDU to close coal-fired plant in Sidney

MT internet providers seek tax break for expanding broadband

Owner of Montana, Wyoming coal mines cuts 15 workers

Avista moves up plans for Colstrip exit to 2027

Colstrip power plant moves to cut ties to Rosebud Mine

Billings chef fired for sending suggestive texts to teen employee


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

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Backed by hometown and family, Rorie already among Grizzly greats

UM's Pridgett wins third Big Sky player of the week award

Only 5 Griz score but that's enough; they beat Idaho State 80-68

Cats fall to Weber State, 94-82

UM athletic program dipped into red last year, nearly ate up reserves

Lady Cats capture 72-59 victory over Weber State

Lady Griz nip Idaho State, 60-59

UM has won 8 straight, but many have come down to wire


OPINION

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State should make student-teacher sex relationships criminal offense

Gazette joins other papers that have fired profane comic-strip artist

Butte paper cutting comic strip that used vulgar anti-Trump message

State should pay the full cost of protecting firefighters

Daines did well in pushing vote on public lands package

Fox will emphasize his conservative credentials

State must improve oversight of programs for troubled teens


FEATURES


The changing nature of being a grandparent in Montana

The ghost horse herd of the Sapphire Mountains

70 years ago, Montana received historic boxcar as a gift from France

Queens of cutlery: Butte knife shop notches 128 years in business

Missoula author recalls life as missionary kid and Japanese POW

Helena's 1989 train explosion remains one of its worst disasters

Group provides online guide to Montana's hidden historical treasures


CALENDAR​​

Styx, Larry the Cable Guy performing in Billings March 23

Astronaut Scott Kelly to lecture April 4 at MSU

Beatles tribute band Bongwater to play at Bonner June 2

Whitefish festival will feature Dwight Yoakam, Band of Horses

Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson plan July 25 show in Billings

Grammy winner Norah Jones to play in Bozeman, Bonner in late July

Clint Black, LOCASH coming to Helena fair in late July

Steve Miller, Marty Stuart plan Missoula concert Aug. 17

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com