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Tuesday, August 28, 2018


ALREADY ANEMIC GRAIN PRICES are further weakened by trade disputes.   A Creighton University economist reports weak farm commodity prices and income are a drag on rural parts of the Plain states, an area including ND.  Rural bankers have raised loan requirements and are rejecting a higher percentage of farm loans.

NEW WELFARE QUEENS  “In the wider national perception (production agriculture is not revered everywhere, you know), Trump has created a new class of "welfare queens." They wear boots, overalls and red seed caps. All made in China. Not to worry. Haven't you heard? They're makin' America great again!” — You may recognize the voice of your old friend Jack Zaleski, a former Forum editor, laying a little love on farmers.  Zaleski’s gripe is farmers remain loyal to Trump although his trade policies are upsetting their apple cart.

ARE FARM KIDS BETTER?  We don’t know if he was tongue-in-cheek or totally sincere.  Forum publisher Bill Marcil Jr.’s editorial was headed “Farm kids are better than city kids.”  He said his grandfather and father were raised on farms and he wished this was the case for his children.  Marcel believes farm kids learn to work hard and develop a sense of reality.  For example, they understand how food is grown and know it doesn’t originate at a grocery store.

NATURAL GAS FLARING in ND exceeds permissible limits and is causing some oil producers to scale back.  Oil production dropped about two percent in June due to a workforce shortage and concerns about flaring.  Relief is on the way — six new or expanded natural gas plants are under development and two will come online later this year.  About 70 percent of ND oil production leaves the state by pipeline and 19 percent by rail.  The rail percentage has rebounded because more oil is being shipped to coastal markets.

BARGAINS WEST OF THE RED RIVER?  College education is less expensive in ND.  A Forum article said college costs are lower in ND than all adjoining states.  Here are a few comparisons:  Total total tuition and fees for a year at Minot State are $6,800; for Minnesota State at Moorhead $8,600.  UND is $8,400, while U. of Minn. Twin Cities is $14,800.  Among private colleges, the U. of Jamestown is $21,200, while Concordia College is $39,900.  The article said nothing about qualitative differences.

YEA FOR JCs  ND and its neighbors have some of the best community college systems.  WalletHub compared 715 colleges and ranked the South Dakota system #1, Minnesota #2 and ND #7.  Seven Minnesota community colleges ranked in the study’s top 20.

MISS AMERICA IS UNHAPPY  ND celebrated last year when Cara Mund of Bismarck became the state’s first Miss America.  Mund now alleges she has been bullied and silenced by the Miss America Organization and blames its head, Gretchen Carlson, a Minnesotan crowned Miss America in 1989.  In a letter to former titleholders, Mund said, 
“Our chair and CEO have systematically silenced me, reduced me, marginalized me, and essentially erased me in my role as Miss America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways on a daily basis.”

GRETCHEN CARLSON almost immediately struck back blaming Mund for a $75,000 loss of scholarship money for the Miss America Organization.  Mund is not Carlson’s only challenger, pageant officials in 19 states have called for Carlson to resign (for reasons apart from Mund’s complaints).  Mund received strong support in ND and letters from Star Tribune readers were also largely critical of Carlson.  Readers viewed Carlson as a power-hungry person using her Miss America position for self-promotion. 

MUND GETS SUPPORT  A GF Herald editorial said, “Yet even if only a portion of Mund's accusations are true, it's a startling revelation for an organization that twice uses the word ‘empower' in its own description on the Miss America website.”  The Herald said it was appropriate for Mund to air her grievances, but cautiously advised that her claims should be checked out.  A Trygve Olson cartoon in the Forum portrayed a muffled Cara Mund with a banner saying “so much for empowering women.”  An editorial in the Minot Daily News was headed “Miss America should have a voice.”

LET BUGS DO IT   The principal remediation technique for oil spills is to remove the contaminated top soil and leave a devalued property.  Targa Resources proposes using bioremediation — introducing microbes to eat the oil allowing the soil to be reused.  The company has successfully treated a 2016 oil spill on the Ft. Berthold Reservation.

DIFFERENT POLICIES  The Dickinson Press ran a Minot Daily News article about an armed robbery in Minot, but omitted MDN’s description of the suspects.  The MDN reported: “According to social media accounts, the suspects are described as ‘younger African American men with Southern accents.’ ”  Forum papers often omit the description of minority suspects.

HOBO CRIMES  “Basically riding the rails, it sounds like.” — Minot Judge Gary Lee as he sentenced two Iowa men to a day in jail and a fine for stowing away on a freight train.  This is the third time this summer men have been charged and convicted in Minot for hiding in train cars.  Goodbye, romance of the rails.

CHASE IRON EYES, a convicted felon and ND’s 2016 Democratic U.S. House nominee, is the last high-profile criminal case from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.  Iron Eyes has accepted a plea agreement for misdemeanor disorderly conduct which will result in a 360-day deferred imposition.  If he complies with its terms, the case will be cleared from his record.

DREW WRIGLEY was U.S. attorney for ND from 2001 to 2009.  Following, he was ND lieutenant governor until 2016.  President Trump has nominated Wrigley to reclaim the U.S. attorney position and his confirmation process will move forward in the Senate. 

DAKTOIDS:  A 119-year-old historical rsidence in Minot was moved across the street to get it out of a flood zone — the cost to the city: $600,000 . . . A poll indicates Nodaks favor recreational marijuana by a margin of 4:1 — the measure is opposed by the ND Peace Officers Association . . . Sanford Med Center in Fargo has been designated a Level 1 Adult Trauma Center — the only one between Minneapolis and Seattle . . . Next season, 52 former UND players will have pro hockey contracts . . . Fall enrollments dropped at both NDSU and UND. 

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