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Gazette Editorial Staff

Ups and Downs gives a quick take on news of the past week.

Cheaper gas. Gasoline prices are dipping across the country even as the weather heats up. In Billings, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded dropped 20 cents in the past two weeks to $1.42 on Friday. Must be time for a road trip.

Prescription legislation. U.S. House OK’d a bill to let Americans mail-order prescription drugs from foreign countries. This isn’t any help to people who need prescriptions filled quickly, in a matter of hours or days. Still to come: Legislation making medicine more accessible and affordable to U.S. seniors.

Just hearing. Montana U.S. district judge nominees Richard Cebull and Sam Haddon were among the first district court nominees to get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. The nominations landed at the top of the Senate agenda because of cooperation between Sens. Conrad Burns and Max Baucus. Baucus and Burns both testified on behalf of the nominees, helping to expedite approval of GOP nominees in a Senate now controlled by Democrats.

Withering wheat. A dry spring, followed by several 93-degree days and heavy June rain combined to decimate the region’s winter wheat crop. Harvest is expected to be a fifth of normal yield.

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Transit money. The transportation appropriations bill approved by U.S. Senate committee last week carried $11.2 million in road, airport, bus and bike projects for Billings, all requested by Sen. Conrad Burns, a member of the committee. The money isn’t assured yet; the bill must pass muster in the full Senate and in conference committee.

Vandalism spree. Windows in vehicles and buildings were broken in several Billings Heights neighborhoods last week. The vandalism reports are a reminder to all of us to keep an eye on our neighborhoods this summer, especially when neighbors are away on vacation.

Rescue star. Actor Harrison Ford took a leading role last week in a search for a Boy Scout missing overnight from a camp in Teton County, Wyo. Ford, who has a home in Jackson, volunteered his helicopter to the search effort. The actor and another searcher spotted the boy about 10 miles from the camp. Ford landed his helicopter and took the scout to safety. The scout continued camping with his troop and Ford won praise as a real-life hero.

Stomping grounds. A 19-year-old woman was injured last week when a Yellowstone Park bison head-butted her, knocking her to the ground. The teen and several other people had encircled the animal before it retaliated. This report, coming soon after two buffalo injuries to people — one fatal — in South Dakota’s Custer State Park is a powerful reminder to keep one’s distance from large wild animals.

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