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Thursday, July 19, 2018


FEWER CHURCHES ON THE PRAIRIE  Sunday’s Star Tribune had a lengthy article on the decline of Protestant churches in Minnesota. — there is every reason to be expect a similar pattern in ND.  The following quote summarizes much of the article: “Mainline Protestant churches have been hit the hardest. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Minnesota has lost almost 200,000 members since 2000 and about 150 churches. A third of the remaining 1,050 churches have fewer than 50 members. The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in Minnesota, has shuttered 65 churches since 2000.”  The Catholic Church in Minnesota maintained its membership, but has over 10 percent fewer churches.

WILL IT WORK?  A GF Herald editorial asked if the president’s trade strategy can possibly work, will China blink, and if it doesn’t will ND ag products be adversely affected?  The editorial was inconclusive: “We're crossing our fingers and hoping the president's strategy works and China does indeed blink in the face of its own economic pressures.”  The editorial had one clear conclusion — if the issue is not resolved, ND ag producers will be hurt.

A DEAD BABY IN A SLOUGH, a Carrington mother with memory loss, a stolen pickup, and a father in jail for traffic violations are some of the elements of a tragic story from Woodworth, a town roughly halfway between Carrington and Jamestown.  The mother, Justice Lange (25), has been jailed for unrelated matters and now faces felony charges for manslaughter and child neglect.  The parents worked for a carnival traveling the Midwest.

DAPL PROTESTOR SENTENCED  Childhood trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic violence victim — attorneys for Red Fawn Fallis (39) rolled out the full litany of defenses.  But to no avail, the previously convicted felon was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison for her part in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.  She was one of the most high profile DAPL defendants.

OIL MONEY STIRS INTEREST  “Many millions, if not potentially billions, of dollars of tribal members’ income has now become subject to the federally unsupervised control and discretionary expenditure by a small minority of tribal members.” — From a news release by the Ft. Berthold Legacy Vision representing the 75-80 percent of tribal voters who live off the reservation.  They seek to repeal a 1986 requirement that make qualified voters return to the reservation to vote, thereby effectively disenfranchising a majority of voters.  Interest in the issue has been reignited by large scale development of oil and gas on the reservation.

RECREATIONAL VEHICLES may represent a special hazard on the prairie.  Last week, a man was killed near Washburn when high winds rolled his camper vehicle on him.  This week, 28 were injured and a newborn baby killed in a Watford City RV park when a 127 mph tornado destroyed 122 campers and mobile homes.  Regulations should be considered to better secure such vehicles from high winds.

MARIJUANA  An initiative to legalize recreational marijuana is likely to be on the ND November ballot.  Nine states and Canada have approved recreational marijuana.  A GF Herald editorial speculated whether Canada’s decision will affect the vote in ND.  The Herald said, “It could happen. The reason marijuana isn’t legal in states like North Dakota is because people here generally are morally conservative -- same as most Canadians, we figure. In fact, Canadians may be more like North Dakotans than any other people in the world.”

SURPRISING ATTACK ON HOEVEN  Over the 4th of July, Sen. John Hoeven was in Russia with eight other members of the Homeland Security Committee.  The delegation met with high-level local officials and U.S. Ambassadors in Russia, Finland and Norway.  The trip appeared to be an appropriate part of his Senate assignments, yet he became the subject of negative comments such as, “Traitor to America on July 4, 2018. Well done.”  The critics were led by Forum columnist Mike McFeely.  The complaints are difficult to understand — they seem to say it was unpatriotic for a U.S. Senator to be in Russia on the 4th of July.

REFUGEE TRAVEL BAN  In a commentary in the Forum papers, Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a senior fellow for the London Center for Policy Research, said “North Dakota has the most refugees per capita of any state.”  He said, “This has unfortunately led to tragic results,” and went on to cite serious crimes committed by Somalia refugees who lived in ND.  A mass murder in Minot was one example, the St. Cloud terrorist attack by a former Fargo resident was another.  He indicated countries such as Somalia are so devastated by war that “Reliable records simply do not exist” for properly vetting refugees.  Shaffer supported Pres. Trump’s travel ban saying “that the safety of our citizens is far more important than the wishes of foreign nationals.”  It should be noted Shaffer represents only one side of the refugee debate.

NDFU IS ALARMED  The president of the the ND Farmers Union has a beef.  Mark Watne notes that the state continues making sizable investment in the oil industry, while cutting back its support for research in agriculture.  He asks, “If it is worthwhile to invest dollars in one industry, why would we cut another industry that is as important or maybe more important to the long-term health of our state?”

OBAMA IS ON THE SIDELINES  “As Sen. Heidi Heitkamp finds herself the target of many Republican jabs, few famous Democrats have come to her aid. No Hillary Clinton. No Barack Obama.  Where are they?” — The GF Herald editorial said it was not its point to promote the Democratic Party, rather to support two strong parties.  The Herald asserted, “If Democrats hope to retain or claim seats in Congress or even in state legislatures, it will take an all-hands-on-deck effort.”

SUPREME COURT NOMINEE  U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer (candidate for U.S. Senator) have expressed support for Trump’s nominee to the court.  Sen. Heitkamp is undecided.

BERNIE HELPS KEITH  U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Black Muslim to be member of Congress, is now running for state attorney general in Minnesota.  Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will host rallies for Ellison in Duluth and  Minneapolis today.  Ellison has been Sanders’ ally in the Democratic Party’s more liberal wing.

DAKTOIDS:  The ND University System faces proposed budget cuts which would cut funding to levels not seen for a decade . . . Garrison and other Missouri River dams have full reservoirs — runoff has been 150 percent of normal . . . ND transportation officials are considering wildlife crossings costing $7 million for the expansion of Highway 85 from Belfield to Watford City — a slight problem, animals aren’t using existing crossings further up Hwy 85.


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