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Sally Jo Sorensen
Sally Sorensen, an independent blogger, lives and works in rural Minnesota.
Recent Activity
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It's Memorial Day in the US today, a time to remember those serving in the armed forces who gave their all. In 2014, Bluestem posted Staff Sgt John D. Osborne, December 17, 1944: It's Memorial Day, time to remember those who died for this country. I remember my maternal uncle, Madelia native John D. Osborne, who died from a blow to the head from from a German soldier in the Malmedy Massacre during the Battle of the Bulge. According to military records and a 2012 book, Fatal Crossroads, John's body was tagged #1 when American forces recovered the bodies in... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Bluestem Prairie
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We've been backsliding on posting about South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem's non-responsiveness to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we're here to share a few highlights from the first term governor's moments. TMI: CARE19 app overshares While Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has taken heat from some Republicans for plans to expand contact tracing for residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus, South Dakota's Noem had announced an app to help trace spread of coronavirus way back in early April. Trevor Mitchell reported in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader on April 9: Gov. Kristi Noem announced a new app available to South Dakotans... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In Friday's Star Tribune, Adam Belz reported in Corn prices keep slumping, and farmers keep planting more: Corn farmers are throwing another government-backed Hail Mary this year, planting more of the crop than in 2019 even though prices are near the bottom of a six-year slump. “They call it plant and pray,” said Al Kluis, a commodities broker in Wayzata. “What you want is a disaster in some other part of the Corn Belt or some other country.” Favorable weather in April helped most Minnesota farmers get corn in the ground faster than last year, when a wet spring kept... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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We've been busy working on a freelance assignment and planting our vegetable gardens--but the news goes on. We offer some interesting reads on energy issues. In the Bismarch Tribune, Amy Sisk reported Thursday in Standing Rock, Corps at odds over whether to shut down Dakota Access during review: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked a federal judge to effectively shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline while a lengthy environmental review is underway, a move North Dakota officials say would have “significant disruptive consequences” for the state. The tribe wants U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to revoke key permits for... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Civil Eats reported on Friday, Community Food Co-ops Are Thriving During the Pandemic. It's a good reader, especially if you think coops are the creation of "food elitists" and dirty hippies. One illustration of this trend? A capital campaign by Detroit Lakes' Manna Food Co-op. Now located in an old Tasty-Freeze on the north side of town, after two and a half years of operation, the enterprise is moving to a much more visible location downtown on Washington Avenue in Norby Flats. The Detroit Lakes Tribune reports in Manna Food Co-op starts capital campaign for move to Norby Flats: Manna... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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In posts like It's all over now, baby blue? EWG analysis concludes nitrates rising in MN drinking water and Check out MN water nitrate presentations Paul Torkelson didn't want shared with subcommittee, we looked at information the Environmental Working Group has released about Minnesota's water. We have also used EWG's farm subsidy database for posts like January's Struggling farmers not what they used to be. On Monday, EWG senior advisor Don Carr tweeted: EWG's Midwest Director @JKonopacky did a deep forensic dive on RDO's plans here (PDF) which I cribbed/stole off of for the piece. https://t.co/70RQQYqQqI — Don Carr (@donpcarr)... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Bluestem Prairie
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Monday's Minnesota Reformer published our article, GOP candidate tied to notorious Dorr family taking on Rep. Paul Torkelson. Go read the article about Redwood Falls conservative activist Tammy Houle at the online news site. Houle's bid was thwarted on the first ballot, according to a tweet by Josh Anderson: Paul Torkelson endorsed in HD 16B with 77% on the first ballot. Chris Swedzinsk Endorsed for HD 16A unanimously. — Josh Anderson (@JoshAndersonMN) May 19, 2020 Minnesota House Republican Caucus Director of Public Affairs Andrew Wagner tweeted: Rep. @Paul_Torkelson with a dominant first ballot endorsement victory in 16B. 💪🏼 #mnleg —... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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We've long admired state representative Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, for her work on clean energy, safe drinking water and pollinator protection. She's retiring from the Minnesota House after this term; today, she and other retiring lawmakers said good bye on the House floor--or from their remote location. In Socially distant but emotionally resonant — retirement speeches highlight friendships, look to future, Session Daily's Victoria Cooney reports: Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) urged the House to take scientific evidence under closer consideration in setting priorities and making decisions. “Why aren’t we listening to the scientists? COVID-19 has proven that ignoring science can be... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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We're catching up after a day of tending our poultry, putting in more of our vegetable garden and watching farewell speeches by lawmakers retiring from the Minnesota House. Here's a press release from our friends at Land Stewardship Project about one good thing the legislature did in the oddest session we've had the privilege to observe. LSP: Farmers Must Now be Aware of their Mediation Rights SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- As a sign of the dire financial situation the state's agriculture faces, the Minnesota House and Senate last week passed by a combind 201-0 vote legislation that stops foreclosures until... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Session Daily, Deena Winter reports, Wide-ranging environment policy, spending bill passed by House.There's no separate YouTube up yet at the MNHouse Info channel, but we'll embed a clip here of the debate as we are able. UPDATE May 17: The Minnesota House's consideration of the bill begins at 26 seconds into the YouTube below (yes, that's Minority Leader Kurt Daudt on the screencap, looking like he just stepped out of a garter snake ball) [end update] From Session Daily's Deena Winter: A plethora of environment policy and funding provisions are part of a $61.4 million bill that aims to,... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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Early on in the dispute over new spending of Minnesota's Environmental and Natural Resource Fund, Bluestem Prairie posted While House works on LCCMR bill, Senate Enviro chair says nope, save funds for deficit next year and Minnesota Environmental Partnership reacts to MN Senate's intent to not act on Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriation. More recently in More update: Minnesotans plead for senate to approve and Update: old argument stalls environmental trust fund allocation unless GOP pols can raid money, we looked at the recent wrinkles. There are more appeals by outdoor journalists to spend this money--money dedicated by... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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UPDATE May 14: Chair of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division Rick Hansen posted this update on his official Facebook page: Nice emojis! [end update] Early on in the dispute, Bluestem Prairie posted While House works on LCCMR bill, Senate Enviro chair says nope, save funds for deficit next year and Minnesota Environmental Partnership reacts to MN Senate's intent to not act on Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriation. But nothing we had to say matched the power of Jeff Broberg's words in the May 11 Star Tribune commentary, Don't let environmental funding fall prey to... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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The grassroots organization Dakota Rural Action is no slouch in standing against Governor Kristi Noem's occasional unreasonable exercise of executive power. Back in September, when a Federal court block[ed] Noem's controversial anti-'riot boosting' law, as the Mitchell Republican headline put it, DRA was a plaintiff in the lawsuit along with the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of South Dakota on behalf of four organizations: the Sierra Club, NDN Collective, and the Indigenous Environmental Network; and two individuals: Nick Tilsen with NDN Collective and Dallas Goldtooth with Indigenous Environmental Network. On Tuesday, the group issued this press release: Last Friday, South... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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In Gov. Kristi Noem, tribes clash over checkpoints: How we got here and what's next, Lisa Kacske reports in the Sioux Argus Leader: The two tribes have gained support for their positions since Noem's threat of legal action on Friday. Tribal members have been urged to contact the Governor's Office to support the checkpoints, and tribal members gathered at the checkpoints on Sunday in support of them. Delbert Hopkins Jr., who represents Sisseton-Wahpeton's Enemy Swim District, also asked the South Dakota Tribal Relations Department to support the two tribes, noting that a checkpoint worked to curb the coronavirus outbreak in... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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Last fall, South Dakota gained national attention with its drug awareness slogan, Meth. We're on it. Now, Noem wants to deal a someone different hand to South Dakota's native communities. The spotlight's on Governor Kristi Noem again in a fight with Native American nations in the state who are using the doctrine of sovereignty to protect their citizens from COVID-19. At CNN, a team of staffers reported Monday morning in South Dakota's governor threatened to take two tribes to court over coronavirus checkpoints. Here's what to know: A group of 17 South Dakota legislators urged the state's governor to try... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Thursday, we posted Cost of coal: Great River Energy to close Coal Creek power plant, wind power's gain, which included Mike Hughlett's reporting at the Star Tribune, Minnesota's Great River Energy closing coal plant, switching to two-thirds wind power:on Great River Energy's decision to close the Coal Creek power plant in North Dakota and provide its member electrical co-operatives with more economical clean energy. We also posted Great River Energy's statement about the closure: Major power supply changes to reduce costs to member-owner cooperatives. Many more pixels have been sacrificed to tell the story, so here's a digest of... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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We missed this April 29 press release from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health and run it now as part of our ongoing Chronic Wasting Disease coverage. CWD investigation spurred by Douglas County deer farm detection concludes: The Minnesota Board of Animal Health’s investigation of all herds with connections to the CWD-positive Douglas County farm is complete and revealed a total of six CWD positive deer. In all, eight herds in six counties were linked by animal movement and six herds were quarantined. All the CWD positive deer were in two herds, the one in Douglas County and another in... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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We've been posting about the economic losses Great River Energy had been experiencing operating its lignite-coal fueled Coal Creek plant in North Dakota--and the possibility that GRE might close the plant. Our sources had told us a big change was coming, and that change is now official, Mike Hughlett reports in the Star Tribune article, Minnesota's Great River Energy closing coal plant, switching to two-thirds wind power: Great River Energy will shutter its big North Dakota coal-fired power plant several years early, an extraordinary move that underscores the waning cost-competitiveness of coal in electricity production. The Maple Grove-based company Thursday... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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On Tuesday, we posted about how Lakefield City Council approved Constitutional and Business Friendly Community Resolution. From the Lakefield Standard: The Lakefield City Council has taken a stand against Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order and temporary closure of bars, restaurants and other places of public accommodation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and has pledged to not direct any city resources to enforcing them. The council on Monday passed a resolution affirming the city as a “constitutional and business-friendly community” on a 3-2 vote following a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion. Could the notion be spreading? Martin County boards... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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Back in April, we posted While House works on LCCMR bill, Senate Enviro chair says nope, save funds for deficit next year and Minnesota Environmental Partnership reacts to MN Senate's intent to not act on Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriation. We're a bit late with the update, but on Monday, Minnesota Public Radio's Kristi Marohn explored the consequences of the impasse in Dispute over environmental fund leaves projects on wolves, weeds and mussels in limbo: For the past several years, University of Minnesota researchers have studied wolves in Voyageurs National Park to learn how they spend their summers.... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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One popular conservative trope about governmental responses to the novel coronavirus is that we should all be following Sweden's lead. In Wednesday's Sioux Falls Argus Leader, columnist Jonathan Ellis compares the Swedish approach to the no shelter-at-home approach adopted by South Dakota's governor in In Noem’s coronavirus response, it’s Sweden, here we come: In the 1910 Census, Swedes made up the third-largest percentage of foreign-born whites living in South Dakota. Why point that out now? Because in her management of the state during the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Kristi Noem has hewed much closer to the way Sweden is managing the... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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In the Alexandria Echo Press, Jeremy Turley reports in ND, Minnesota call for investigation of suspected price fixing in meatpacking industry: The 11 state attorneys general who joined the cause say there are signs that the top four U.S. beef processors, which control about 80% of the market, are colluding to artificially raise prices. Due to antitrust laws, companies in any industry cannot work together to drive up prices. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison have signed onto a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr calling for a federal investigation of the meatpacking... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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A reader sent us an article from the Lakefield Standard, City takes stand against governor’s orders. Lakefield is a town of 1,694 in the middle of Jackson County, Minnesota. Justin Lessman reports: The Lakefield City Council has taken a stand against Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order and temporary closure of bars, restaurants and other places of public accommodation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and has pledged to not direct any city resources to enforcing them. The council on Monday passed a resolution affirming the city as a “constitutional and business-friendly community” on a 3-2 vote following a lengthy... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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Bluestem Prairie has been following Minnesota House environmental legislation as best we can in posts like MNGOP House members spend hour defending captive deer & elk against merciless DFL lady and VIDEO: Watch legendary biologist Carrol Henderson testify for non-toxic shot bill. After the Senate passed an omnibus environment bill, the House needed to pass a companion measure. We watched the omnibus bill remote hearing by the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Finance Division livestream on Friday. Here's the video: Session Daily's article by Deena Winter, Omnibus environment and natural resources policy gets division OK, is a very useful... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie
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We first met union activist and all-around-good guy Dale Moerke at Worthington's King Turkey Days celebration in 2008. At that time, he operated a forklift what is now the JBS pork packing plant. We reprint the post below with the author's permission. Like the Swift Foods packing plant in Worthington that it acquired in 2007, Brazilian-based JBS later purchased GNP (Gold N Plump) chicken. After acquiring GNP from The Maschhoffs LLC, JBS has operated the poultry processor under its Pilgrim's Pride brand since 2017. His post, Pandemic, Packinghouses & Power, appeared Sunday, May, 2020 on the Greater Minnesota Workers Center... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2020 at Bluestem Prairie