Thanks to the organizers and participants involved in a panel this week to discuss the historical and political dynamics behind Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine.
The event, held at noon Tuesday at the VINE Adult Community Center, drew about 125 people. The strong turnout is a sign of how much interest locals have in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
The wide range of panelists provided significant and comprehensive background on the region and included Roman Kovbasnyk, a Mankato man originally from Ukraine; Gustavus Adolphus College political science professors Richard Leitch and Loramy Gerstbauer; Denis Crnkovic, retired research professor in Russian at Gustavus; and Fred Slocum, director of the political science program at Minnesota State University.
Their discussion touched on the distinctive history of Ukraine, the motivations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the response of the United States and Western Europe to Russian aggression in recent years.
Having a clear understanding of what is happening in Ukraine now and in years past is important for all citizens of the world. The strong interest in the local event shows that Mankato-area residents want to be informed.
And unsurprisingly, audience members asked how they can help. Kovbasnyk encouraged donations to a humanitarian aid fund established through the Ukrainian American Community Center in Minneapolis (uaccmn.org).
Kudos to the Minnesota Department of Transportation for working to make roads safer with a relatively simple update: widening fog lines on the outside edge of travel lanes.
Starting this summer, MnDOT will begin expanding the fog lines from the current 4-inch width to 6-inches when they perform regular paint maintenance.
Running off the road and crashing is the leading cause of serious injury or death on the roads of Minnesota and across the United States. In addition to helping to see where the edge of the road ends, a wider line also helps drivers see the alignment of the road better.
Wider fog lines, along with the rumble strips already found on the outside and in the center of many highways, will go a long way toward making highways safer at relatively low cost.
The seal of approval
Applause for the passage this week of much-needed and long-awaited legislation that overhauls the finances of the Postal Service. The bill passed both houses of Congress by wide margins and now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.
The key component of the legislation: The reversal of a 2006 requirement that the USPS annually prefund retirees’ health care costs. With mail-order revenue declining, the agency has defaulted on those health care payments since 2011.
The bill gives the agency significant relief, eliminating $57 billion in overdue postal liabilities and eliminating $50 billion in payments over the next 10 years. Future postal retirees must enroll in Medicare, which would save taxpayers $1.5 billion over the next decade.
The legislation also codifies timely delivery transparency requirements (on-time delivery has plummeted badly since Louis DeJoy became Postmaster General in 2020) and requires the continuation of home delivery six days a week.
Omar is wrong in the oil vote
We endorse 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s vote against a ban on Russian oil imports in light of the highly bipartisan vote in the House on Wednesday.
The House voted 441-17 to ban oil imports and only one other House Democrat in the country voted with Omar, Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri. The rest of the Minnesota delegation, Republicans and Democrats, voted in favor of the ban.
Omar said he voted no because President Joe Biden had already banned imports with an executive order and he worried the legislation was too broad.
That’s fine, but it’s important that the United States defund Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine. That is a more important reason than the philosophical ones that Omar offers.