The tragedies in Oslo, Norway are followed with special interest in ND. U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, himself of Norwegian ancestry, said, “A third of North Dakotans claim Norwegian heritage, and many of our citizens have family members still living in Norway.” Both ND senators are members of the Senate Norway Caucus.
A Minot Daily News editorial listed big decisions that Minot leaders need to make soon. A mightier dike system was No. 1, followed by the possible need for additional new bridges to provide emergency routes. The editorial also said Minot faces excruciating decisions about eliminating “many homes . . . along the Souris River that should never have been built there.”
Post-flood problems in Minot are huge -- peeling the onion reveals one new problem after another. The Minot Daily News reported a problem nobody anticipated: Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowski said workers arriving from Central America are being followed by a sinister criminal element that includes members of international drug cartels and gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13. "They prey on these people that travel around, just like a carnival," Kukowski said. He is seeking help from the Border Patrol because most of the workers are Spanish-speaking.
In mid-July, “dew point” became a big part of conversations in ND. Dew point is the temperature at which saturation (dew) occurs. The NWS meteorologist in Bismarck said, "A dew point of 60 feels pretty humid in North Dakota and in the 70s is fairly unusual. Having dew points in the upper 70s happens maybe once a decade or even less than that." He was talking about a dew point of 82 degrees recently recorded in parts of the state. There was slim consolation -- corn and soybeans love such weather.
Why pick Fargo? A Forum article indicated a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was conducting test flights at the Fargo airport to see how the plane’s automated landing feature functioned in crosswind landings. A separate Forum article indicated winds exceeding 60 mph tore away parts of some large apartment complexes.
Hansen and Monson were playing basketball and . . . does that sound like the start of a joke about Norwegians? Glenn Hansen and Reed Monson are believed to be the greatest all-time basketball players in Grand Forks history. The 6-foot-5 men went to different GF high schools and played against each other in the 1970 ND Class A championship. In the offseason they practiced together, including working out with UND star and eventual hall of fame coach Phil Jackson. According to the GF Herald, both men had successful careers in college and professional basketball.
The Fighting Sioux controversy usually receives little coverage outside ND and western Minnesota. But a news article with a sufficiently provocative lead may grab national attention. Fargo Forum sports writer Dave Kolpak’s article began: “North Dakota political leaders are asking the NCAA to back off and let the state’s flagship university keep its Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, even at the risk of potential blacklisting and scorn by other universities and its own conference.” “Blacklisting” and “scorn” may have done it, for the Associated Press article, complete with UND’s colorful Fighting Sioux logo, appeared in newspapers across the country.
As mentioned earlier, the nearly half of ND college students that come from out-of-state cost Nodaks big bucks. Tom Dennis of the GF Herald put a smiley face on the matter saying that “o-o-s” students fill classrooms, boost college town economies, sometimes stay after graduation and are helping Fargo recover from the gloomy image bestowed by the 1996 movie “Fargo.” Worthy observations, but is Dennis’ cheerful view overly influenced by the fact that UND and its many “o-o-s” students are a mainstay of GF’s rather flat economy?
Aaron Krauter is a political appointee heading the federal Farm Service Agency in ND. Farmers gulped when Krauter described the extent of federal ag programs in the state. ND received nearly $1 billion from such programs in 2010. Another disclosure, the federal government subsidizes 68 percent of the cost of crop insurance. The president of the ND Farmers Union doubts these programs can continue at past levels.
USDA Rural Development State Director Jasper Schneider, also a political appointee, said it is a necessity for rural residents to have their own grocery store. He awarded a $70,000 grant for a community grocery store in Buffalo, a town of 200 only 20 miles from Casselton. Lest there be any confusion, such programs have bipartisan support in ND. Community grants are another type of handout which may be jeopardized by federal budget cuts.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the Spirit Lake Reservation for another USDA project. A $3 million elderly complex will be financed by a $200,000 USDA loan, with the remaining funds provided by “congressional earmarks.” Hospitals, grocery stores and elderly housing are a few examples of how far USDA strays from its core mission.
The Mystic Lake Casino is just a little south of the Twin Cities and is one of the nation’s most prosperous Indian casinos. The casino is operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux, a tribe of less than 500 people eager to maintain good political standing. As a result, they have an active charitable program which makes multimillion dollar gifts and loans -- mostly to less fortunate tribes. The Shakopee have $50 million of loans to the Three Affiliated Tribes at the Ft. Berthold Reservation in ND.
Moe is your friend. Moe is Muhannad Tahtamouni and he sold used cars in Grand Forks doing business as “Moe’s Motors.” Immigrants from the Middle East were referred to friendly Moe by his wife Carrie who worked at a refugee center. Moe is charged with multiple counts of felony fraud as well as other crimes. Thamir Kadhim was an especially indulgent victim -- he was ripped off three times by Moe. Kadhim used to say, “He (Moe) is my friend. I needed to help him,” plus he speaks Arabic and is a fellow Muslim. Kadhim has changed his tune, says he no longer believes Moe and is impatient with the slowness of American justice. Kadhim said where he comes from Moe would be in jail.
DAKTOIDS: How unusual were the 2011 Souris River floods? The U.S. Geological Survey said more water passed through the river near Sherwood in one day “than passed there during the entire year for 45 of the 82 previously recorded years.”