Opinions

Wed
22
Sep
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Walking Is Good For You And Your Community

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

For too many years, our trip to work was just over two to three blocks. It allowed no time for reflection, listening to an interesting news program, or planning for the day. But over the past decade, we have been on the road at least once a week for a couple hours - country roads, not packed city freeways.

It is time we treasure. It is a time of daydreaming, problem-solving, and discovery. This past week we listened to a program on the joys and benefits of walking on the NPR program 1A hosted by Jen White.

Among her guests was Shane O’Meara, a professor of clinical brain research at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He is the author of “In Praise of Walking: The New Science of How We Walk and Why It’s Good for Us.”

Wed
15
Sep
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A Challenging Time To Trust The News

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

In these days of bitterly divided politics, we are always looking for lessons on how we can better reach out to our readers to improve their belief that we can be fair and trustworthy.

Generally, community newspapers are the most trusted source of news for their readers when it comes to local reporting. Our stories of the actions of local governments, what is happening in the community, and feature stories are seen as fair and accurate.

Wed
08
Sep
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Empowering The Voice Of The Middle

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

One of the most common complaints we hear about politics today is how divisive they have become. All we have are people on the far left and the far right, we are told. Where are all the people in the middle? Why can’t we get candidates who represent us? Why can’t our elected officials get along and get the people’s work done?

A simple saying explains much of the problem: The world is run by those who show up.

Our candidates are chosen through the primary election process. In the 10 elections conducted in the 21st Century in Minnesota, we have seen a low of 7.42% percent of voters cast ballots in a primary (2016) with a high of 22.77% showing up in 2018. However, the average has been 13.6%.

Wed
01
Sep
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Census Shows Growing Rural Diversity

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

It came as no surprise that the seven-county metropolitan area of the Twin Cities grew the most, and not just by a little.  According to the U.S. 2020 Census, 78% of Minnesota’s growth was in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Metro growth accounted for more than 300,000 of the 400,000 people added in the state. Nine percent of the nation’s population growth took place on the fringes of metropolitan areas.

Three counties saw solid growth outside the metropolitan area – Olmstead with the City of Rochester, Stearns with St. Cloud, and Clay with Moorhead.

While rural counties with regional centers and counties with multiple recreational lakes grew, many rural counties where agricultural land dominates the landscape saw their populations fall. All 35 of Minnesota’s 87 counties that saw a decline were in rural areas. It is a nationwide trend.

Wed
25
Aug
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4-H Is The Best Youth Program In America

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
And my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.

The 4H Pledge

Each year as we attend the county fairs in the area, we can’t help but be impressed with the quality of the young people participating in the 4-H programs.

Their poise, grace under pressure, sportsmanship, and knowledge of the animals they are handling during the shows all are proof that they are living the pledge they take as members of a club.

Wed
18
Aug
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Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

It’s hard to be skeptical in the face of reality. Yet, some still doubt humankind is having a significant and long-lasting impact on the world’s climate.

Still, the scientific facts that point to our role in warming the planet have become overwhelming. Even for those who don’t believe in climate science, the visual impacts of climate change are hard to deny. Massive forest fires, record high temperatures, extended droughts, melting glaciers, flooding caused by extreme rainfalls, and rising oceans are visual proof of changing weather patterns.

Last week we saw another highly-regarded report on the world’s warming and its causes released by the United Nations-appointed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published.

Wed
11
Aug
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Rural Communities Can Bring Grads Home

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

In five years of reporting from and living in the remote rural areas of coastal Maine, writer Gigi Georges said she discovered a reality that runs counter to the conventional downbeat narratives about rural areas “and debunks the notion that young people, in particular, have to flee to succeed. Indeed, there are lessons for all of us in the strength of community, resiliency, and rootedness to place in many of our nation’s most rural regions.”

In those rural communities in which there is hope for the future, the lives of the residents are based on a common recognition to support one another. This common cause was born early on in America’s history.

Wed
04
Aug
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Section 230 Protects Spreading Misinformation

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Facebook,  Twitter, and YouTube facilitate misinformation poisoning the American dialogue on topics from politics, to health, to voting, to immigration, to religion. People have the right to lie. They have the right to make fools of people who fall for their information pranks or deluded rantings.

They can promote patently false information that reinforces beliefs that could kill. Despite their failings, these companies are protected from the consequences as they make billions on the chaos and damage they create.

Wed
28
Jul
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Newspapers, Government Have Vital Partnership

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

It wouldn’t be surprising if most people thought of newspapers and those serving in government, whether elected or appointed, as natural adversaries. Often, we are portrayed that way in film and books. The press seeking to uncover incriminating evidence of wrongdoing by the government officials is a common theme.

It’s true that at times public officials hide information.  Perhaps, they’ve done something foolish, or criminal, that they don’t want the public to find out about. It’s our job to expose wrongdoing, whether intentional or not. Only through our reporting can the public judge the honesty and competency of their elected officials, then hold them accountable. Their informed judgment helps citizens decide whether someone deserves another term or should be replaced.

Wed
21
Jul
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Supporting Dreamers Supports Our Future

By Reed Anfinson
Publisher
Swift County Monitor-News

Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the United States District Court in Houston, TX, sent tremors through the immigrant community when he ruled last week that former President Barack Obama exceeded his authority in creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

His ruling again makes the fate of these young immigrants and their families a political football and a source of deep anxiety. Will their families be ripped apart by forced deportation? How do they start businesses, careers, buy homes and start families with such uncertainty?

To the relief of Dreamers, the judge’s opinion stated that the federal government should not “take any immigration, deportation or criminal action” against recipients that it “would not otherwise take.” However, while the Department of Homeland Security will keep taking new applications for DACA status, it is temporarily blocked from approving them.

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