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 11 
 on: Today at 05:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
A roe deer doe transforms the scene

Achvaneran, Highlands The only recourse was to do a ‘wildlife watch’, ignoring everything else and concentrating solely on what was around in nature

Ray Collier
AFP
Saturday 23 July 2016 05.30 BST
   
Walking down the garden to my study I could hear a single male curlew calling from the field. They had bred down below the house, but his partner and their offspring had already gone to the coast.

I eased open the curtains in front of my desk and knew that with the warm sunshine it would be difficult to concentrate on writing. The only recourse was to do what I call a “wildlife watch”, concentrating solely on what was around in nature. Out came the telephone link to the house, the binoculars, camera and notebook, and I was set.

A metre away, the siskins and goldfinches, with a scattering of juveniles of both, were already squabbling over their favourite feeder filled with nyjer. Yesterday a lesser redpoll had joined them, but I could see no sign of it today.

The pond, which measures 30 by 15 metres, with its scalloped margins and its two islands, was a hive of activity. The three broods of mallard ducklings were chasing around after insects or seeds, and some of them seemed almost to be running over the surface of the water.

The females looked on as if they had no control. That is, until a hooded crow came over and they called their offspring into the cover of a long clump of wild iris on the margins. The crow went its way, but it was fully five minutes before the ducklings were allowed out again.

At the far end, the dam – which is made of bottom silt from when the pond was re-excavated last year – was still devoid of vegetation. Eight mandarin ducks were loafing around there, along with some mallard. The mandarins had no ducklings in the nestboxes this year and I suspected predation by pine marten.

Then a distraction and I turned away for less than a minute. When I turned back the scene was transformed. There was a roe deer doe looking calmly around as if she had been there all the time. The colour of her summer coat was just beautiful.

Follow Country diary on Twitter: @gdncountrydiary

 12 
 on: Today at 05:32 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Dartmoor zoo calls in animal tracker in search for escaped lynx

Tracker has equipment that can spot traces of body heat, and has shared tips such as rubbing cowpats on searchers’ feet

Steven Morris and Simon Trump
AFP
Saturday 23 July 2016 08.00 BST   

A professional animal tracker with state-of-the-art thermal imaging equipment has been brought in to bolster attempts to recapture a lynx that escaped from Dartmoor zoo.

The tracker, who has worked on conservation projects in the UK and the US, has already carried out preliminary reconnoitres of the six square mile area of farm, woods and moorland over which the animal, named Flaviu, is believed to be roaming.

Flaviu went missing on Wednesday 6 July after chewing his way out of his wooden house within hours of arriving at the zoo. Since then he has evaded attempts to lure him back into captivity.

The zoo’s operations manager, George Hyde, said: “Our task is being made more difficult because Flaviu is roaming over a wider and wider area. He seems to be looping out in each direction and those loops are getting bigger and bigger.”

He said the advice of the tracker, who asked not to be named because of the nature of some of his work, had been invaluable. “There were little tips he pointed out to us which will be incredibly useful in future, for example rubbing cowpats on our feet to disguise our scents.

“A lynx in the wild will be familiar with the smell of a cow and its dung, whereas the smell of a human would put it on its mettle because it would see us as a possible threat.”

The tracker went on his first five-hour exploratory mission on Thursday night and took as his starting point the last confirmed sighting of Flaviu, which was by a quarry worker on his way home.

Hyde said: “He looked up and saw a lynx sitting watching him on a nearby grass verge. He was obviously somewhat surprised and it had probably been watching him for some time. Apparently Flaviu calmly ambled off.”

The tracker covered about half of Flaviu’s known territory and got close to foxes and deer but saw no sign of any lynx. He is heading out again this weekend.

He said: “What we are looking to do is build up as much data as possible about Flaviu. We want to locate him, then watch him from afar and go back again to reinforce what his habits are.

“That will give us the best chance of recapturing him by hopefully putting traps in the right places. We will still need a bit of luck in him being off his guard to catch him though.”

He added: “Darting is not a realistic option because you would need to be within about 40 metres and the animal’s adrenalin will be pumping and he will head off at speed.

“We are talking about an unusual animal here because he is used to humans. He will have been fed by them but will still be wary around them. We can’t base what we think he will do on a wild animal.

“We saw an awful lot of potential food sources for Flaviu: there were rabbits, hares, small birds, rats, mice, all sorts. I think he is capable of catching those if he is hungry.”

The kit being used is a handheld device called a Pulsar Quantum, which can pick up body heat from the grass where an animal has been lying. The equipment is also capable of taking video and stills.

 13 
 on: Today at 05:29 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

How much does car-sharing benefit the environment?

A new study investigates local and global effects of car-sharing, finding that the service benefits users and their communities.

By Nicole Orttung, Staff July 20, 2016   

From less congested roads to cleaner skies, car-sharing is delivering on community-wide benefits, a new study finds.

A working paper from the University of California, Berkeley's Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TRSC) examined Car2go, the world’s leading car-sharing company, in the first-ever impact study on one-way car-sharing in North America. The take-away: Car2go users decreased their greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent on average, and eased the commutes of non-users by eliminating cars from the roads and parking spaces.

The transportation sector is a focal point in the push for cleaner skies, as transportation emissions accounted for more than a quarter of US emissions in 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Cities are leading the way in rolling out innovative transportation solutions, including car-sharing, which is expected to see revenue grow from $1.1 billion to $6.5 billion between 2015 and 2024.
Recommended: How much do you know about the auto industry's future?

“Our exhaustive, three-year research effort into one-way car-sharing reveals that Car2go vehicles result in fewer privately-owned vehicles on the road, fewer vehicle miles traveled, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” Susan Shaheen, who co-led the study, said in a press release.
Test your knowledge How much do you know about the auto industry's future?
Photos of the Day Photos of the day 07/21

Car2go has nearly 2 million members who share 14,000 vehicles in 30 cities. Users have access to the shared fleet of vehicles, which they can locate on an app and drop off at their destination anywhere within an urban zone, or sometimes at a designated parking station. Drivers typically pay per minute in the car, with discounted hourly and daily usage options available.

Across the five cities studied – Calgary, San Diego, Seattle, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C. – Car2go was responsible for 28,000 fewer vehicles on the roads, says the report, since each new Car2go car eliminated the need for seven to 11 vehicles.

Of the 9,500 Car2go members surveyed in the five cities, between two and five percent sold a vehicle because they had access to the car-sharing service, and another seven to 10 percent said they dropped previous plans to buy one.

Fewer cars getting purchased has an environmental benefit of its own, since approximately one-fifth of the emissions a car releases during its lifespan are caused during production.

TSRC researchers hope to pave the way for better-informed public policy decisions, Dr. Shaheen told the Vancouver Sun, "to help decision-makers who are faced with a whole range of innovative strategies to help provide greater mobility and access to their citizens."

If cities want to set aside scarce public parking spaces for car-sharing services, for example, they need to be able to estimate the payoffs.

Shared cars tend to be smaller and newer than those in the average household, according to Intelligent Energy Europe. Newer vehicles are more fuel efficient, reflecting technological upgrades, plus car services allowing people to select the car appropriate for their journey: a two-seater for a quick jaunt to the beach, but an SUV for a family weekend trip.

A twist on the typical car-sharing service is catching on in Chicago, capitalizing on the fact that vehicles sit idle about 95% of the day, on average. Gataround, a peer-to-peer carsharing service that calls itself an AirBnB on wheels, allows people to rent out their cars to drivers in the area who want a quick trip, as The Chicago Tribune reported. Renters and owners in the Chicago area have more than doubled from 8,000 to 20,000 since the program's launch a year ago.

****************

Could Uber be the best form of mass transit out there?

A city in Florida offers a glimpse of what the future of mass transit could be.

By Andrew Ganz, GreenCarReports April 14, 2016   

A Florida city has become the nation's—and presumably the world's—first to subsidize Uber rides beginning or ending within its borders.

Altamonte Springs, a suburb of Orlando, will cover 20 percent of any ride that starts or finishes within its city limits.

Call Uber for a ride to SunRail, the region's commuter train system, in fact, and Altamonte Springs' government will pop for 25 percent of an Uber fare.

The public-private partnership between Altamonte Springs and Uber is being touted as a low-cost alternative to subsidized mass transit.

Altamonte Springs City Manager Frank Martz told NPR that funds for subsidizing Uber come from $1.5 million the city had allocated for a stalled project that could have operated like a city-owned Uber.

The stalled project was called FlexBus, and it consisted of an app that let users request a small bus to come pick them up.

Ultimately, that program failed, despite a $1.5 million Federal grant, leaving Altamonte Springs to look in a new direction for alternative mass transit.

With its low population density, Orlando area is largely carcentric. Its commuter rail system, which opened in May of 2014, carries only 3,300 riders daily, while a bus system called Lynx services most of the metro area.

However, as in most lower-density cities, mass transit on a fixed route for Altamonte Springs would require many users to walk a lengthy distance and wait considerable time to get to their destination.

Altamonte Springs' deal isn't the first time that cities have partnered with Uber, or its ride-sharing rival Lyft.

However, it marks the first time that a municipality has directly subsidized such a service for all in-borders rides.

Other cities have partnered with Uber and Lyft to promote the services as a link between mass transit hubs and riders' final destinations, but they have not directly provided funding to reduce the fares.

Other cities, including Montreal and San Francisco, have municipal programs of various sorts that compete with the car-sharing services.

 14 
 on: Today at 05:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

World leaders poised to seal landmark emissions deal in Vienna

An international agreement to reduce hydrofluorocarbons could prevent 0.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century, officials say.

By Joseph Dussault, Staff July 21, 2016   

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol set the ozone layer on the path to recovery. In 2016, it could take a bite out of greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials convened in Vienna this week to amend the Montreal Protocol, which phased out ozone-killing refrigerants called CFCs nearly three decades earlier. Now the delegation is nearing an international deal to reduce HFCs, says EPA administrator Gina McCarthy.

“We are seeing all countries coming into this meeting with an incredibly positive and collaborative energy level,” Ms. McCarthy said at a press conference on Thursday. “There is no country that appears to be standing on the sidelines in this discussion.”

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are organic compounds composed of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. CFCs, which were commonly used in air conditioners and aerosol cans, catalyze the conversion of ozone (O3 ) to oxygen (O2 ). In the 1970s, researchers found that atmospheric CFC levels were weakening Earth’s protective ozone layer.

The Montreal Protocol, signed by all UN and EU member nations in 1987, laid out plans to phase out CFCs. But in doing so, it created a new problem.

Manufacturers replaced CFCs with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). By comparison, these compounds were ozone-friendly and worked about as well in refrigerants. But later research indicated that HFCs are potent greenhouse gases, contributing significantly to climate change.

International officials have reconvened in hopes of amending the Montreal Protocol to include HFC limits. The EPA has stated that a global reduction in HFCs could prevent 0.5 degrees Celsius in warming over the next century. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a moderate step in suppressing climate change.

Before the Paris climate agreement, Earth was on track to warm 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. If the measures of that agreement are fully implemented, that number drops to 3.5 degrees. According to some climate scientists, significant environmental implications will result from an increase of 2 degrees. Others say the safe number is an even lower 1.5 degrees.

“A half degree is a substantial chunk of that, but obviously it doesn’t solve the problem,” says Noelle Eckley Selin, a professor at MIT’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. At MIT, Professor Selin leads a research group that uses atmospheric chemistry models to inform policy decisions.

“I would characterize it as a moderate step,” Selin says. “It is quite a chunk of the emissions reduction we need, but we’re not going to get there without attacking CO2.”

In a warming world, limiting HFCs won't be easy. Air conditioners are a rapidly growing market in some smaller and developing nations – a transition away from HFCs could have a critical impact on the economies of those countries. And in countries like India, where summer climates can push 120 degrees, cost efficient air conditioners are essential. As warming trends continue in coming years, demand for cooling technology will only increase.

“These are very real issues that countries face in implementing climate action,” Selin says. “At what speed can you require industries to make changes? How does that affect the economy? Even if you agree with every analysis that scientists put forward, it’s still a very difficult thing to agree on when balancing other priorities.”

The delegation has yet to find a solution that will satisfy both science and commerce. The Island States, which include the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands, recommended a slower reduction rate for developing nations. India proposed a 15 year grace period before smaller countries were required to begin weaning off HFCs.

McCarthy has stated that negotiators are nearing a mutual agreement, and could reach an agreement by Saturday. A major goal, McCarthy says, is to complete the amendment in 2016 – before President Obama leaves office.

 15 
 on: Today at 05:24 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 23, 2016

UK doctors complete first ever double hand transplant

by Brett Smith
Red Orbit

Doctors in the United Kingdom have announced a successful “double hand transplant” – the first time such an operation has ever been completed in that country.

The patient, Chris King, 57, lost both hands up to his thumbs in an accident involving a metal pressing machine. King said his two new hands, which he received from a donor, are already functioning.
“I couldn’t wish for anything better,” King said after the successful surgery. “It’s better than winning the lottery because you feel whole again."

"They're my hands. They really are my hands. My blood's going through them. My tendons are attached. They're mine. They really are."

The operation was the second successful hand transplant operation in the UK, but the first involving both hands. Doctors who performed the operation said it is the first time a hand transplant operation was done above the wrist, which makes the operation much more complex.

Simon Kay, the surgeon who performed the operation, noted that there are added concerns with a hand transplant, compared to internal organ transplant.

"Nobody cares what their kidney looks like as long as it works,” Kay said, according to BBC News. "But not only do we have to match the hands immunologically, in the same way that we have to match kidneys and livers, they also have to look appropriate because the hands are on view the whole time."

Kay added that getting donor hands is more difficult because the loved ones of a deceased person are less likely to agree to donate them.

King still has his bandages on, and said he can’t wait to both see and try out his new hands.

"And it's actually opened a memory because I could never remember what my hands looked like after the accident because that part of my brain shut down,” he said.

King was actually introduced to the surgeon Kay by to Mark Cahill, the first person to have a hand transplant in the UK. Cahill encouraged King to have the transplant operation.

"We'll shake hands one day,” King said. “It's wonderful stuff."

The patient from Doncaster, England added that people should take time to talk to their loved ones about donating whatever organs or body part might potentially help someone else.

“Just have the conversation with your family. There's no greater gift."

 16 
 on: Today at 05:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 23, 2016

Silk Road ‘Poop sticks’ show how diseases traveled in ancient times

by Brett Smith
Red Orbit

It turns out travelers along the Silk Road spread more than culture as a new analysis of ancient feces has revealed the diseases these travelers carried across a continent.

The Silk Road rose to prominence about 2,100 years ago as a network of trade routes than spanned from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern coast of China.

Past research has suggested the merchants, explorers, and soldiers who traveled the Silk Road likely spread disease and the new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, confirmed these previous studies through the microscopic analysis on preserved feces on ‘hygiene sticks’, which were used to wipe away feces off the anus.

The sticks were recovered from a latrine at a station along the Silk Road located in Western China, near the Taklamakan desert. An analysis of the specimens revealed four species of parasitic worm: roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), tapeworm (Taenia sp.), and Chinese liver fluke (Clonorchis sinensis).

Chinese liver fluke, which causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, and liver cancer, needs marshy areas to survive. Since the station was in an arid location, the liver fluke must have traveled quite a distance. In fact, the nearest current population of the Chinese liver fluke is in Dunhuang, around 930 miles away. The species is most prevalent in Guandong Province, about 1,200 miles from Dunhuang.

Ancient microscopic creature

Many diseases were carried across an entire continent in the ancient world. (Credit: University of Cambridge)

Scientists said the fluke must have traveled an immense distance, and the discovery offered the first solid evidence for long distance travel with an contagious disease along the Silk Road.

“When I first saw the Chinese liver fluke egg down the microscope I knew that we had made a momentous discovery,” study author Ivy Hui-Yuan Yeh, an infectious disease expert at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said in a press release. “Our study is the first to use archaeological evidence from a site on the Silk Road to demonstrate that travelers were taking infectious diseases with them over these huge distances.”

“Until now there has been no proof that the Silk Road was responsible for the spread of infectious diseases. They could instead have spread between China and Europe via India to the south, or via Mongolia and Russia to the north,” said co-author Piers Mitchell, a paleopathologist at Cambridge.

“Finding evidence for this species in the latrine indicates that a traveler had come here from a region of China with plenty of water, where the parasite was endemic. This proves for the first time that travelers along the Silk Road really were responsible for the spread of infectious disease along this route in the past.”

 17 
 on: Today at 05:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 23, 2016

Three-drug combos could help treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

A team of UCLA scientists has identified a cocktail of three different drugs that, while unable to treat resistant bacterial infections on their own, could be combined to overcome resistance of these life-threatening pathogens to antibiotics, according to a recently-published study.

In fact, they tested the effectiveness of various one, two and three-drug combinations in treating lab-grown E. coli bacteria, and found that 94 out of 364 three-drug groupings killed 100% of the bacteria, senior author Pamela Yeh, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA, and her colleagues reported in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Furthermore, in a statement, Yeh’s team reported that the success rate of the three-drug combos may have been even more effective had they tested higher doses of the medications. Even so, the findings provide new hope for the nearly 700,000 people who die each year due to infection from drug-resistant bacteria, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae such as E. coli.

“Three antibiotics can change the dynamic,” said lead author Elif Tekin, a graduate student at the university. “Not many scientists realize that three-drug combinations can have really beneficial effects that they would not have predicted even by studying all pairs of the antibiotics together.”
One piece of the puzzle, but other steps still need to be taken

Tekin, Yeh and their fellow researchers selected their antibiotic combinations from a group of 14 different drugs, choosing each using a sophisticated framework that allowed them to determine if adding a third drug into the mix produced new effects that two-drug pairings could not achieve.

Since different classes of antibiotics combat bacterial infections using different mechanisms, the team used both biological and mathematical techniques to discern which combinations would be the most effective. The three medications had to be selected “systematically and rationally,” Yeh said, and required determining if adding a third drug made the treatment more or less effective.

She also noted that three-drug combinations could allow doctors to prescribe lower doses of each antibiotic, which would reduce the risk of side effects in the patients. However, Yeh also warned that, while her team’s findings could help combat antibiotic resistance, other steps still needed to be taken in order to fully battle the increasing risk of these drug-resistant superbugs.

“We need to attack this problem from all sides,” she explained. “We need sound policy to stop the overuse of antibiotics, doctors to prescribe antibiotics wisely, agriculture to stop overusing antibiotics and researchers to develop new antibiotics,” Yeh added. On the plus side, however, she and her colleagues “think our contribution will buy time for researchers to better leverage existing drugs and for policymakers to develop better policy about the use of antibiotics.”

The researchers plan to release open-access software that will enable other scientists and doctors to review their methods and determine which antibiotic combinations will most effectively treat individual patients. They added that their approach could also be adapted to review the how four different medications interact, and could even be altered for use in non health-related fields.

 18 
 on: Today at 05:15 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 23, 2016

NASA wants to launch a Moon mining rover by 2020

by John Hopton
Red Orbit

Mining on extraterrestrial bodies is often used in science fiction as a reason humans have to hang around in space, but now Taiwan is helping NASA make moon mining a reality.

As well as representing a new step in human space exploration, the project could turn the moon into a stopping point for Mars missions, as the mined materials can be used in place of those that would currently have to be carried all the way from Earth.

NASA is collaborating with the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan on a mission called "Resource Prospector". As the name suggests, the goal will be to demonstrate important materials can be mined on the moon. Construction of the lander is already underway in Taiwan. and launch is planned for the early 2020s.

Making Mars missions easier

A small rover will scan the lunar surface for evidence of useful materials, and the research follows observations from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of tons of water ice and pockets of gases on the moon. Resource Prospector will try to mine materials in the first ever in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) proof of concept.

If successful, it could pave the way for oxygen, hydrogen, and frozen water deposits on the moon to be used for fuel, breathable air, and safe drinking water, meaning journeys to Mars could be made cheaper and safer.

After using sensors to find useful materials, Resource Prospector will drill down as deep as a meter to retrieve a sample, which will be heated in an oven to determine its composition. The hope is that sufficient vital materials can be shown to be extractable from the lunar surface.

Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMXWsiaEK6Q

 19 
 on: Today at 05:13 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
July 23, 2016

NASA lets Curiosity fire its own laser on Mars

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

Thanks to a new software update, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has become the first off-world exploration vehicle capable of autonomously selecting targets for one of its instruments, officials at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and their colleagues announced on Thursday.

The update allows Curiosity to select rock targets for chemical analysis using its ChemCam laser spectrometer without any input from a controller back on Earth, LANL scientists explained. In most cases, those targets will still be chosen by ground-based scientist, they noted, but the rover itself will be permitted to select several targets on its own each week.

Known as AEGIS (Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science), the software was developed by a engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, and requires scientists to set adjustable criteria, such as identifying rocks based on their size or brightness, for the rover to search for and target when working on its own.

As Roger Wiens, principal investigator for the ChemCam instrument at Los Alamos, said in a statement, it “will give us a chance to analyze even more rock and soil samples on Mars. The science team is not always available to pick samples for analysis,” he added. “Having a smarter rover that can pick its own samples is completely in line with self-driving cars and other smart technologies being implemented on Earth.”

Program will also make it easier to analyze fine-scale targets

The criteria used by AEGIS to help Curiosity select ChemCam targets can be altered based on the rover’s surroundings and the scientific goals of the measurements, the researchers said. The instrument uses spectrometers to record wavelengths while firing the laser, allowing scientists at Los Alamos to identify a rock’s chemical make-up.

The software was previously used on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity to analyze images captured using a wide-angle camera as the basis for autonomously selecting rocks which are then photographed using a narrower-angle camera. AEGIS, which was honored by NASA as the best software developed in 2011, will analyze images from Curiosity’s Navigation Camera (Navcam) to select a target. It will then point ChemCam in the direction of that newfound target.

Alternatively, the program can use images from ChemCam's own Remote Micro-Imager to find potential targets, analyzing those pictures to point the laser at fine-scale targets which were selected by scientists in advance, the laboratory explained. Located at the top of the rover’s mast, ChemCam can analyze the composition of a rock or soil target from approximately 23 feet (7 meters) away.

“Due to their small size and other pointing challenges, hitting these targets accurately with the laser has often required the rover to stay in place while ground operators fine tune pointing parameters,” explained robotics engineer Tara Estlin, who led the development of the software at JPL. “AEGIS enables these targets to be hit on the first try by automatically identifying them and calculating a pointing that will center a ChemCam measurement on the target.”

 20 
 on: Jul 22, 2016, 06:42 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Montanans packed Native Americans into horrifying makeshift camp before big rodeo: lawsuit

David Ferguson
Raw Story
21 Jul 2016 at 14:05 ET                   

A lawsuit filed by a group of Native American plaintiffs in Wolf Point, Montana alleges that city officials and highly placed tribal elders conspired together to sweep the town’s streets of Native Americans ahead of an annual rodeo.

The Daily Beast reported Thursday on the suit, filed in the Great Falls division of the U.S. District Court for Montana, which says that Native American homeless people and vagabonds were rounded up in a wave of spurious arrests and held in an open-air detention area to make the town appear “whiter” to tourists.

Each year, Wolf Point hosts the Wild Horse Stampede, the largest and oldest rodeo in the state. Thousands of rodeo enthusiasts flock to the sleepy town of 3,000, where the population in normal times is about 40 percent white and 50 percent Native American.

The plaintiffs in the civil suit — including members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes — allege that they were targeted as undesirables in the arrest raids, which police called the “Wino Roundup.” They say their rights to due process, Miranda rights and other liberties were abridged. The authorities, they say, often refer to impoverished locals as “Homeless, Winos, Street People, Tree People, Drug Addicts, Alcoholics, or Prairie Niggers.”

The annual rodeo is “largely a white Anglo-Saxon event,” the suit says, and in order to present a sanitized version of life in Wolf Point to visitors, city officials launched the “Wino Roundup” on July 12, 2013.

Police — some of whom reportedly wore strips of masking tape over their name tags to hide their identities — “removed 30 to 50 individuals to curb the American Indian presence.”

The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill noted that city records do not list the arrests and that the plaintiffs were “never served official charges, never read their Miranda Rights, and never allowed to meet with lawyers. Instead, they describe a period of unlawful detainment, during which they were denied basic legal aid or health facilities while the Wild Horse Stampede festivities kicked off.”

The detainees were packed into squad cars and vans, one of which was reportedly so airless and tightly jammed with bodies that at least one arrested person lost consciousness during the 30-minute trip to the jail in nearby Poplar.

“We couldn’t breathe, and we could barely move around,” said 55-year-old Reba Demarrias to the Great Falls Tribune. “There wasn’t no kind of windows or anything. I didn’t know where we were going or where they were taking us. No one would talk to us. I sat there with my head between my legs trying to get air, because were so stuffed in there.”

When all of Poplar’s jail cells were full, detainees were separated by gender and housed outdoors on a pair of fenced-in basketball courts with no toilets, no first aid or medical assistance, and no protection from the elements.

“Women were provided a blanket and a pot in which to relieve themselves,” the suit said. “Men were instructed to urinate through the fence. Some of the male plaintiffs will testify that they were unable to get near the fence and so were forced to ‘piss or shit their pants.’”

“Everybody was screaming and crying,” Demarrias told the Tribune. “After a while they came in with two or three trays of goulash. There wasn’t very many. The older ones just gave the food to all the young ones and kind of sheltered them there – trying to calm them down.”

The first day, the detainees sweltered in the July heat. That night, they were doused by a sudden downpour. Police and jail officials attempted in vain to stretch tarpaulins over the basketball courts, but then gave up and moved all of the detainees to “even tighter confinement within a windowless garage.”

The next day, they were released in waves, but the lawsuit says that some of the detainees have died in the years since their confinement — “their deaths accelerated or caused by the physical stresses experienced during the incarcerations.”

City officials deny that there was any concerted attempt to target the Native American population, but the Tribune published a partially redacted report from the department’s internal investigation.

“On April 15, 2014, IAD (Internal Affairs Division) interviewed Lieutenant (name deleted),” the report reads. “Lt. (name deleted) proffered that the corrections officers were told that they would be detaining the ‘street people’ for twenty-four hours. Lt. (name deleted) advised that she protested that this was wrong, that holding these individuals without formally charging them would be violating their civil rights. Lt. (name deleted) asserted ‘I knew this would come back and bite everyone in the ass.’”

According to the Tribune, “The case has been referred to U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris.”

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