March 2009


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

Inauguration 2009: Being there

By Sara Sawatzki

When my plane touched down at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16, I could feel it. It was a low murmur at first that would grow exponentially over the next few days. You could hardly walk five feet without hearing one or both of the following words: Obama, inauguration. Through a series of amazing twists of fate, I had been able to obtain six of the coveted 240,000 “up-close” tickets that were given out, enough for my brothers, their significant others and me to attend. I had expected insane crowds, but nothing could have prepared me for the mass of crowd and energy that was to come.

A major public health problem

By Alexander N. Kingsley, M.D.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Cancer of the colon and rectum affects one in 20 persons in the western world, and over 156,000 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Recent data show a decrease in the incidence of colon cancer, attributable to a higher immigration from eastern Mediterranean, African and Asian nations, which have a much lower incidence of the disease as compared to earlier immigrants from Germany, Ireland and Eastern Europe, where colon cancer is prevalent.


“Jobs and Satisfactory Living”
August 27, 1987

By Norris Alfred

We take issue with the assertion that having a “job” is the prime reason for living. A “job” is admittedly necessary for “earning” a living. But “earning” is not, necessarily, “learning.” Living is a learning process that should continue until the final breath. When a business entity—corporation, or whatever—announces plans to locate in Nebraska and create a certain number of “jobs,” our cheering is subdued by questioning the quality and “kind” of jobs, not the number. Humans are not automatons. The words are not synonymous.

Book Review: The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century

Review by Jerry Petr

“The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century”
Authors: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Tony Smith
Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press

This slim volume (117 pages plus notes) is interesting on a couple of levels, and to at least two audiences. It is a collection of four essays by “big think” foreign policy experts, who wrestle over whether or not the Iraq War can be understood as an extension of Wilsonian foreign policy ideas and who proffer thoughts about Wilsonianism extended into the post-Iraq 21st century. Foreign policy specialists can salivate over the contest between the academic titans; the rest of us get a front-row seat at a sharp but civil and provocative exchange on foundational concepts underlying U.S. foreign policy.

Dan Terpstra shows plywood sculptures at Lux Center for the Arts

By Carlos Guerrero

Lincoln, Neb., artist Dan Terpstra has always possessed an internal drive to express his creativity. Finding a media and process that he felt comfortable with would prove to be the most challenging aspect of his artistic journey. Terpstra began drawing and painting in the 1970s but found it difficult not to imitate the psychedelic art he saw on posters and T-shirts from that era. His frustration caused him to put his artistic pursuits on the back burner while he funneled his creative energy into collecting and listening to music from around the world.

The role of prairie restoration in grassland conservation

By Chris Helzer and Jill Wells

Those who are familiar with The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska know that one of our strategies is to buy land and preserve it. Many who have enjoyed the beauty of the Niobrara River have visited our 56,000-acre Niobrara Valley Preserve. But in a state where 97 percent of the land is privately held, conserving Nebraska’s natural heritage necessarily and appropriately has to happen on private land. Because of that, the conservancy will only be successful at a meaningful scale if we use and develop multiple strategies, such as prairie restoration, that can be applied to private lands

People, partnerships and preservation: A landscape of opportunity in the lower Platte Valley

By Dave Sands

Overlooking the lower Platte River in Saunders County, there is a high bluff cloaked in oak/hickory forest, with breathtaking long views that are rare in eastern Nebraska.

To the Pawnee, this bluff is a sacred place, and on a perfect late September morning in 2008, it was easy to see why. The warm temperature and light breeze spoke of summer, but the deep blue sky, low humidity and red sumac pointed to fall. The fine weather was well suited for this idyllic place, where 40 people had gathered to celebrate its permanent preservation.

Understanding organized labor, part III: The Employee Free Choice Act

Organized labor has long known about the weakness of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). For well over 30 years, unions understood it was no longer an effective tool for supporting organizing and bargaining. They complained that anti-union corporations and their consultants used the long period between employees showing an initial interest in forming a union and the actual National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) supervised election to create a hostile environment in which to hold the election. Additionally, unions had concerns about weak remedies and sophisticated employer strategies to avoid first contracts.

Congress should protect the private vote

By Glenn Spencer

Congress is about to consider legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, or Card Check. While few people have heard of this bill, it is the most sweeping rewrite of federal labor law in 70 years. Card Check would essentially abolish the protection of a private ballot during union organizing campaigns, would likely eliminate workers’ ability to vote on a union contract establishing the terms and conditions of their employment and would impose substantial new penalties, but only on employers.

Immigration in Nebraska

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