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Cheers to volunteer firefighters

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Cheers to volunteer firefighters
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Cheers to the volunteer firefighters who really earn their pensions this time of year.

No sooner did the snow melt from a long and bitter winter than grass fires started popping up around Becker County — a half dozen or more over the weekend.

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Firefighters from Carson-ville, Frazee, Ogema, Callaway, Detroit Lakes, Audubon, Lake Park and elsewhere, including DNR firefighting teams, are constantly springing into action against wildfires this time of year.

DNR burning restrictions are in place for Otter Tail County and counties to the south, and will be in place for Becker, Hubbard and Mahnomen counties on Monday. Until then, burning permits are required.

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Jeers to scrap metal thieves, who are willing to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to steal copper from irrigation systems and gravel pit equipment.

Thieves hit a gravel mining operation in Becker County over the weekend, stealing power cords and stripping them for the copper, causing a loss estimated at $25,000 to $30,000. And that’s not counting lost productivity that often occurs following a theft.

Aluminum docks are also being stolen from lake homes and sold for scrap.

More than 25,000 insurance claims related to metal theft were filed between 2009 and 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau — an 81 percent increase over claims made between 2006 and 2008.

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Jeers to sexual abusers in the armed forces.

In recent years there has been an alarming increase in reports of sexual assaults in the military.

The Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military report released recently shows that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, and the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, up from 19,300 estimated in 2010.

It also reveals a 1.7 percent increase in active duty servicewomen experiencing unwanted sexual contact and a 6 percent increase in reported sexual assaults since 2010.

Research has shown that sexual trauma not only hurts the victims, but can also take a toll on their fellow service members by severely undermining unit cohesion, morale, and overall force effectiveness.

It is absolutely unforgiveable that patriotic women serving their country should be put through that kind of ordeal.

A good first step would be to end the ability of military commanders to overrule military judges and juries. In at least two prominent cases, commanders have thrown out guilty verdicts against officers in sexual assault cases, without public explanation.

Sexual assault is already under-reported. Throwing out guilty verdicts sends a chilling message to women trying to decide whether or not to report an assault.

Kudos, by the way, to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has taken a leading role with bipartisan legislation to better protect women in the armed forces.

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