January 2010


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).

The murder is the message

Richard Behar will present “China in Africa: The New Scramble?” as the fourth lecture in this year’s E. N. Thompson Forum on World Issues. An award-winning investigative journalist, Behar writes about the career of his mentor Robert W. Greene and the future of investigative journalism with passion and insight.

Robert W. Greene (Newsday file photo/AP)By Richard Behar

When I heard the news in 2008 that Bob (“Big Daddy”) Greene had died at age 78, I walked around with this real feeling in my gut like he’d been murdered and I’d been mugged. After a few hours of this bizzarity, it finally dawned on me why this seemed like such an injustice: His legacy was, and still is, being hacked to death—day after depressing day.

Curiosity never retires

By Dee Aguilar

The 553 members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are finding new ways to enjoy their lives and time. They are being challenged to stretch their minds in new ways that are stimulating and satisfying. Classes, special events and travel are successful as long as these provide a variety of subject matter that is rich in content.

From fat to fit: How Nebraska can free itself from childhood obesity

By Matt Gersib

No matter how you look at it, childhood obesity in Nebraska is at a critical level. Our children are big, they’re getting bigger and we’re not doing enough to turn the corner on the problem.

“It’s especially alarming,” said Dr. Rob Rauner, M.D., “since the consequences of childhood obesity aren’t felt today. They’re felt 10, 20 years down the road.”


On Oct. 23, 2009, Norris W. Alfred was inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame. In honor of that occasion, Prairie Fire asked a long-time friend and mentor to write a personal remembrance of their friendship. Alton M. “Mook” Wilhelms sent the text that follows.

By Alton M. Wilhelms

Norris Alfred? Yeah, I knew Norris Alfred. We became acquainted in the fall of 1951.

Reflections on the latest guidelines for stem cell research

By Thomas H. Rosenquist, Ph.D.

I have the following brief comments about the July 7, 2009 National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for the use of human embryonic stem cells, from the perspective of a scientist who has carried out research for 25 years in early embryonic development and the fate of stem cells and a research administrator charged with facilitating growth of the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) research enterprise. I have not made any specific comments about the need for continuing utilization of human embryonic stem cells.

Healthy Farms Conference focuses on sustainable agriculture

By William Powers

Farmers are being squeezed financially to the point of leaving their farms. Our land is incurring unacceptable degradation. Decisions regarding our food supply are ending up in the hands of too few people. Rural communities are declining in direct proportion to the loss of farmers. If family farming, our environment and rural communities are to endure, we, the citizens of Nebraska, need to be weighing in on agriculture and food systems that we want for the future.

Are sustainable cellulosic ethanol and soil quality possible?

By John Kimble

There are many people saying we can reduce the dependency on fossil fuel by using renewable resources, such as biomass from crops like corn stubble, for ethanol along with grains. Are we at the Dawning of a New Age on the farm where biomass will provide a new income stream for farmers, or are we back to another point in time where we will be exploiting our soils for a quick-term profit without regard for the sustainability of the soil resource? Many have suggested that biofuel is a possible solution to the continued exploitation of fossil fuel, which is a nonrenewable resource.

Sonny's Corner: Health care reform will be good for rural people

By Jon Bailey and Virginia Wolking

Conventional wisdom holds that rural people are less supportive of health care reform. Whether it be the conservatism of rural areas, the affiliation of rural areas with the Republican party or rural distrust of government, it is assumed that rural people are not supportive of health reform and thus have less to offer. However, in our work on health reform in rural areas across the nation, including Nebraska, we find the conventional wisdom flat-out wrong and often oblivious to the unique issues faced by rural people and missing the insights they have into reform.

Immigration in Nebraska

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