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Bold predictions for 2016

Featuring Royce Engstrom, Hillary Clinton, Ani DiFranco, Marshall Mountain, a really big Ferris wheel -- and much more

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In the days before Super Bowl III, Joe Namath confidently assured the media his New York Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts—and the media laughed at Broadway Joe's bravado. In 1989, the sequel to Back to the Future imagined the year 2015 filled with devices like drones working for news organizations, hands-free video games and kids watching TV with their futuristic glasses—and audiences rolled their eyes at such outlandish ideas. Way back in 1900, a civil engineer named John Elfreth Watkins authored an article in Ladies' Home Journal that declared, among other things, "ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today" and "physicians will be able to see and diagnose internal organs of a moving, living body by rays of invisible light"and readers struggled to envision such advances.

Of course, the Jets won. Drones, Xbox gaming consoles and Google Glass are now regular parts of modern society. And we hardly even think of microwavable dinners or X-ray technology as revolutionary today. The point: Bold predictions sometimes hit a stunning bullseye, no matter how crazy they may sound at the time.

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Even the Indy has had its fair share of winners over the years. Our inaugural bold predictions issue correctly said the Keystone Pipeline would stall out due to public opposition. In subsequent years we correctly predicted Paul McCartney's concert at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, former Griz basketball coach Wayne Tinkle would end up with his son Tres at Oregon State and JK Simmons would win an Oscar (see sidebar on page 16 for more results from last year). If this year's batch of bold predictions follows recent history, at least a few things on the following list will actually happen. They might not foretell the next TV dinner or PS4, but they could influence our daily lives here in western Montana.




Missoula resettles its first refugee in years

While Gov. Steve Bullock hasn't joined his many contemporaries vowing to bar Syrian refugees from their states, Montana still isn't very welcoming to persons fleeing conflict. The state is one of two without a nonprofit resettlement office, and no refugees have been placed in Montana in years. Improbably, the pieces are falling into place for that to change in 2016, led by a group of Missoula residents dubbing themselves "Soft Landing." Amid a national political climate of fear and loathing, this local group surely must be a beacon to federal and nonprofit officials looking for safe communities to place swelling numbers of refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Opening a resettlement office is a slow administrative process, but with the urgency of the current Syrian crisis, Soft Landing volunteers will be camped at Missoula International Airport to greet Missoula's first family of refugees by year's end.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NASER YAHYA
  • photo courtesy of Naser Yahya



Montana's presidential primary will actually matter again

Throughout the first half of 2016, presidential fever will touch down in Montana for the first time since Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama made their treks to the Treasure State in 2008. A tense primary season will compel Clinton, now the heir apparent among Democrats, to return and stump on the education issues that have become foundational in her presidential campaign. Not to be outflanked by his primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders will make an appearance alongside supporters of a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in Montana.

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On the Republican side, Tea Party maven Ted Cruz will launch a string of rallies across the Western states on the issue of public lands with strong backing from Americans for Prosperity and the American Lands Council. Such a tour would obviously involve a stop or two here, where legislators have been debating the merits of a transfer of public lands for years.

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