Sonny's Corner


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).

Sonny's Corner: Health Care

By Tyler Williams

Heaven forbid you get something stuck in your rectum. Let’s overlook the how, what and reasoning behind (sorry) your ailment and think about what happens when you walk gingerly into your physician’s office and receive treatment/ medication/post-traumatic event counseling, etc. Perhaps you didn’t realize it, but the reimbursement your physician will receive for rectifying (again, sorry) your situation will most likely differ based on the health insurance you have. We’re not talking about the variance you as a patient will pay based on plan, coinsurance, deductible or premiums; we’re talking about the money the physician gets.

Sonny's Corner: The Right to Contraception Began in Nebraska

By Randall Moody

As controversy continues to swirl around insurance coverage of contraceptive services in the federal health care law championed by President Obama, it’s probably little recognized that the actual legal right to contraception is rooted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in a case that arose in Nebraska.

Sonny's Corner: The Pertinence of Public Service: A Year as an AmeriCorps VISTA

By Jessica Clem-McClaren

Adjusting my neon work vest, I blew away a bead of sweat and handed a folder of neighborhood maps to a team of volunteers standing in front of me. It was the middle of July and an oppressive, unforgiving heat threatened to wipe the cheerful tone out of my voice.

My volunteers, however, were eager to begin work. A team of high school students, they were ready to perform a community betterment project called “Neighborhood Scan” in a South Omaha community known for incredible art and addictive food. Despite the heat, I couldn’t help but become enthused as the kids began their Scan, smiling and laughing on the sidewalks.

Sonny's Corner: Nebraska's Tax Structure

By Mark Intermill

I grew up near that point on the map where the Republican River crosses into Kansas from Nebraska. I lived in Kansas. But I attended school and, when I was old enough, worked in Nebraska. Most of the goods and services that my family purchased were purchased in Nebraska. When my dad would sell steers and heifers, it was at the Superior Livestock Commission Company in Nebraska. I have crossed the state line thousands of times. And when I did so, I would almost concurrently cross the Republican River

Most Nebraskans know the Republican River as a point of litigation between the States of Kansas and Nebraska. I see it as an analogy.

Sonny's Corner: Pentagon Spending Update

By Dan Schlitt

As time goes by we learn more about the problems in bringing federal income and spending into balance. Central to this is how we deal with Pentagon spending, as I wrote in a January article.

In a rare public appearance at the Pentagon, President Obama released the Defense Department’s strategic review. Some observers looked at this as a significant change. They cite the use of terms like “the global commons” and “rebalancing” as an indication of change. Others consider it a slightly slimmed-down version of the same old thing. In any case, it is far from the broad new look at the role of the United States in the world that is needed.

Sonny's Corner: Grace Abbott as Progressive Crusader for America's Children

By Jane Renner Hood

As Nebraskans and their legislative representatives wrestle with important issues this next session—children’s welfare will be one, although at last report, it seems that immigration will not be for now—it may be useful to consider what a Nebraskan who played a vital role in shaping our nation’s social policy in the 20th century had to say about both issues. We considered Grace Abbott’s important work with the Immigrants Protective League in the last issue of Prairie Fire. This second half considers Abbott’s work as the nation’s foremost voice for children during the Progressive Era up through the early years of the New Deal with her work in the U.S. Children’s Bureau.

Sonny's Corner: Grace Abbott: A Nebraska Progressive

By Jane Renner Hood

I recently thought about Grace Abbott’s progressive legacy, especially for immigrants to the United States, when a young black man approached me in a Lincoln, Neb. library this fall and asked if he could use my cell phone. He wasn’t able to get a connection in the library on his, and so I dialed the number and handed him my BlackBerry. He spoke to his friend in an unfamiliar language, and when he handed back my phone, I asked what language he has been speaking.

Sonny's Corner

Prairie Fire has always respected the religious beliefs of others.

We support both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Accordingly, in 2008, when we forecasted an attack on one or more of the presidential candidates’ religious credo, we offered the Mormon Church space to educate our readership as to the history and practice of Mormonism. Our offer was declined. With the emergence of two practicing Mormons as credible 2012 presidential candidates, we renewed our offer to church officials in Salt Lake City. They referred us to the Nebraska contacts and our offer was accepted. The following essay appears as an original work prepared for Prairie Fire.

Sonny's Corner

Early this summer we invited many of our friends in the organized labor movement to prepare appropriate thoughts for the upcoming Labor Day. We were pleasantly surprised when we were overwhelmed with many thoughtful pieces. Unfortunately our print edition layout did not contemplate so many words so we squeezed in a few into our September print edition and are publishing all that we received on this web edition.

Thanks to all who took their time to prepare their remarks and we hope you enjoy reading them.

Sonny's Corner

By A’Jamal-Rashad Byndon

I would like to share the story of Wilda Chue Stephenson, who passed away at the age of 86. As I am getting older—past 55 years old—I am starting to read the obituaries. Wilda was a wonderful woman who engaged in many conversations with me about the struggles that she experienced as an African-American living in Omaha. Decades ago I was involved in anti-apartheid work against the government of South Africa. There was this South African Episcopalian minister, Sipo E. Mzimela, who was invited to Omaha to speak about disinvestment and help educate the folks on why the U.S. and companies should join in this struggle for disinvestments. So many Americans were in support of investing in that regime because of the high return on their dollars in that country. He also authored a book called “Apartheid, South African Naziism.” The book was a comparison analysis of the Nazi government in Germany and the South African system of apartheid.

Sonny's Corner: Soldiers Are Not Second-Class Citizens

By Laurel Marsh

There are many ways to fight for our rights. My daughter is a captain in the United States Army. Ten months ago, my daughter deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As her mother, I am painfully aware of the risks my daughter and her fellow soldiers face every day. One day I learned that servicewomen—as well as military wives and daughters and other female dependents—are denied comprehensive reproductive health care while stationed abroad. I never knew that by volunteering to defend our freedoms my daughter would be treated like a second-class citizen by the very country she risks her life to serve.

Sonny's Corner: Remembering the Civil War

By Shirley Gilfert

This year the country is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, although perhaps “celebrating” is a poor choice of words, for it was the darkest days our country has ever experienced. It’s important that we remember what happened. We also must recognize how that war affected our country’s further development. We are a very different nation than we were then. But for that struggle, we might not be a nation at all.

Sonny's Corner

By Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes
Por Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes
Traducción Enrique H. Weir y Hector E.Weir

As part of Prairie Fire's ongoing effort to be an information resource for all populations in the state, in this issue we are presenting a Spanish translation of Amelia Maria de la Luz Montes' article for both our Spanish-speaking friends and our English-speaking friends struggling to become bilingual. For ease of comparison, English and Spanish are presented in alternating columns.

Sonny's Corner

By Lynne Ireland

Three little words: We the People. Neither the words nor the concept are complex. But these three words bind together these United States of America, and a lot of our history is the struggle to figure out just who is included in the “We.” From that question came “We the People: The Nebraska Viewpoint,” an exhibit and series of free public lectures and community conversations underway this spring at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, Neb.

Sonny's Corner: Immigrant Detention in the Heartland: Nebraska’s Place in the Immigration Debate

By Juan Manuel Pedroza

Nebraska stands at a crossroads on immigration policy, even if the state does not make many people’s list of immigration hot spots. As reported recently in the national media, momentum behind restrictive policies in the state is mounting. As the federal government steps up enforcement and states enact policy experiments, immigrants face a formidable challenge: staying under the radar while living and working in a hostile climate. Urban Institute research sheds light on how immigration policies can cause collateral damage. Learning from past experience, Nebraska can do better than simply retreading policies that criminalize workers, separate families and overlook immigrant victims of crime.

Sonny's Corner: Truth or Consequences

By Jim Pipher

Truth or Consequences” was a very popular game show that ran for decades on both radio and television. The game began with the clever, wise cracking host (usually Ralph Edwards or Bob Barker) asking the contestant an off-the-wall trivia question. If the contestant did not provide the correct answer (The Truth) in a timely manner (before “Beulah the Buzzer” sounded), they suffered The Consequences. This involved performing a wacky stunt designed to deliver spills, pratfalls and general hilarity. Unfortunately, these days, The Truth is often much more controversial. And The Consequences usually involve more serious matters than water balloons or pie pans filled with whipped cream.


Immigration in Nebraska

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