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Noem continues going after Seattle, but mayor responds
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New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C. are just some of the “Democrat-run cities” Gov. Kristi Noem continues to blast through Twitter and other means, calling them places of “looting, chaos, destruction, and murder.”

At least one leader of a large, liberal, coastal city now has Noem’s full attention — Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle, Washington.

During her Wednesday evening speech at the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, Noem said the following:

“From Seattle and Portland to Washington and New York, Democrat-run cities across this country are being overrun by violent mobs. The violence is rampant. There’s looting, chaos, destruction, and murder. People that can afford to flee have fled. But the people that can’t — good, hard-working Americans — are left to fend for themselves.”

Before Noem had even finished her speech, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow called Durkan on live TV to allow her to respond to Noem’s statement about Seattle.

“She needs to get off Twitter and get off Fox News, and come see our city,” Durkan said of Noem.

In late spring, shortly after George Floyd died while in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, often fiery protests erupted across the nation. Even South Dakota was not spared, as protesters clashed with police and looted the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls on May 31.

The next day, several more protesters arrived at the State Capitol in Pierre. However, this time, Noem had both National Guard and Highway Patrol troopers in place to defend against the protesters, so much so that at least one sniper was positioned atop the Capitol.

This contrasts sharply to the situation in Seattle. There, violent protesters took over a police station before establishing the so-called “autonomous zone,” which was supposedly free from police. At one point, this area was known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (or CHAZ), while it was also called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (or CHOP) for a time.

Durkan said Noem’s depiction of Seattle as a city of nothing but violence and chaos is unfair. Indeed, the largest city in the Pacific Northwest is the headquarters of internet retail titan Amazon, as well as companies such as Nordstrom and Starbucks. It is also home to many tech firms, while several famous Grunge Rock bands — namely Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains — formed in Seattle.

“Her caricature of the great cities across America is not only wrong; it’s purposely wrong,” Durkan added of Noem while speaking to Maddow. “People are not leaving Seattle, in fact, again, our housing prices continue to increase and the people moving here are young families.”

Noem responded to Durkan late Wednesday via Twitter: “Where was Mayor Durkan when CHOP or CHAZ (or whatever they called it) took over her city?”

Noem continued going after Durkan again on Thursday, this time on Fox News.

“No mother wants to have her children be raised on the streets of Portland or Seattle right now because of the unrest, because of the violence and it’s not American,” Noem said on Fox & Friends on Thursday.

This is contrary to what Durkan said on Wednesday: “Seattle ... it is a city that I raised my two children in and I would not have raised them anywhere else.”

On Friday, Noem continued going after Seattle via her weekly public commentary, titled, “The Duty of Leaders.”

“Seattle’s murder rate has increased 44% this year. Some of that increase is directly attributable to the Capitol Hill area of her downtown that became an ‘autonomous zone,’ with barricades erected and signs stating, ‘You are now leaving the USA.’ Durkan seems to have forgotten that rioters in this area (called both CHOP and CHAZ) terrorized residents, demanded tribute from business owners, and generated frequent shootings,” Noem stated.

“It is the duty of leaders like Durkan to protect their people from such violence. But instead of allowing her police department to do that, Durkan proposed slashing her police department’s budget and freezing new hires,” Noem added.

Reached by email late Friday, Durkan spokeswoman Chelsea Kellogg said Noem is still invited to visit, but said Noem should deal with South Dakota matters first.

“Mayor Durkan believes that the residents and businesses of South Dakota would prefer the governor to keep her focus on the real challenges facing towns and cities across her state, rather than spreading misinformation and lies about a city on the other side of the country,” Kellogg said. “The city of Seattle – which is a similar population to the state of South Dakota – has seen a decrease in violent crime this year, and despite being the epicenter of COVID-19, the city of Seattle has half of the number of cases of COVID-19 than South Dakota. Seattle has also pioneered innovative efforts such as free citywide testing, grocery vouchers, child care and rental assistance to help our residents during this challenging time. The mayor would welcome Governor Noem or any resident and business of South Dakota to visit our incredible city to learn about our efforts.”

T

ale of the Tape: Seattle Vs South Dakota

The numbers below are compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as the 2016 Electoral College results.

In the 2016 presidential election vote, Seattle favored Democrat Hillary Clinton by 79 points; South Dakota favored President Donald Trump by 30 points.

In population, Seattle has 753,675 residents; South Dakota has 884,659.

The median value of an owner-occupied home in Seattle is $605,200; the median value of such a home in South Dakota is $159,100.

The median monthly rent payment in Seattle is $1,496; the median monthly rent payment in South Dakota is $722.

The percentage of residents age 25 or older who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in Seattle is 62.8%; in South Dakota, 28.5% of residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Per capita income in Seattle is $55,789; per capita income in South Dakota is $29,801.

Seattle has 7,251 people per square mile; South Dakota has 10.7 people per square mile.

In Seattle, a typical employee spends an average of 27.8 minutes traveling to work; in South Dakota, the average employee can get to work in 17 minutes.


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Report: South Dakotans see 75% health insurance rate spike in 10 years
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  • 2 min to read

A new report shows South Dakotans pay about 75% more for employer-sponsored health insurance than they did in 2009 — and pay more than those in all bordering states, except Minnesota.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based LendingTree, which identifies itself as the “nation’s leading online loan marketplace,” released the study on Thursday. The report states that in 2009 — prior to President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known simply as Obamacare) into law — the average annual family health insurance premium in South Dakota was $11,596.

As of 2019, the report states the average South Dakota family is paying $20,265 per year for employer-sponsored coverage, reflecting a 75% increase over the decade.

Though South Dakota’s health insurance costs are still slightly lower than the national average of $20,486 per year, the national average rate of increase for the 10 years is 57.3%. As such, South Dakotans have seen their health insurance costs spike more during the decade than residents of every state but Montana.

The report shows the current costs, as well as the rates of increase for the 10 years, as follows for South Dakota and its bordering states:

South DakotaRate: $20,265

Increase from 2009: 75%

MontanaRate: $20,193

Increase from 2009: 77.7%

WyomingRate: $19,925

Increase from 2009: 39.2%

NebraskaRate: $19,398

Increase from 2009: 58.6%

IowaRate: $18,752

Increase from 2009: 56%

MinnesotaRate: $20,751

Increase from 2009: 57.2%

North DakotaRate: $18,400

Increase from 2009: 59%

U.S. AverageRate: $20,486

Increase from 2009: 57.3%

The Politics Of Health Care

The long-disputed Obamacare law went into effect in March 2010. It famously passed the then Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives without a single Republican vote. And despite then-U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D-S.D., voting against Obamacare, the new Democratic law was so unpopular in states such as South Dakota that this undoubtedly helped now-Gov. Kristi Noem defeat Herseth-Sandlin in that year’s general election.

The arguments about whether Obamacare has caused health care costs to increase in the past 10 years — or if those costs would have jumped at an even higher rate without the law — continue to this day. Now, although the issue has fallen off the radar somewhat amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing protests/riots throughout the county, health care is a point of contention for President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

For his part, Biden has said he wants to enact the “public option” to compete with private health insurance, much as companies like UPS and FedEX compete with the U.S. Postal Service. Biden said his public option will ensure health insurance to “97% of Americans.”

“If your insurance company isn’t doing right by you, you should have another, better choice. Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare,” Biden’s campaign website states. “As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers.”

Trump, meanwhile, via his campaign website touts his successful repeal of the individual mandate that came with Obamacare. He also highlights signing an extension of CHIP, which stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program. This initiative provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.

“President Trump has worked to improve access to affordable quality health care,” his website adds plainly.


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Legendary Tuskegee Airman Brig. Gen. McGee at 100 talks war and peace
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  • 6 min to read

So far, in his first 100 years, Brig. Gen. Charles McGee has made history.

He is one of the nation’s first black fighter pilots, in the first class of the renowned Tuskegee training school in Alabama during World War II. Within months, he and other Tuskegee Airmen were in Italy, flying combat missions.

McGee not only excelled at that; he went on to fly combat missions during the Korean War in the early 1950s and again during the Vietnam War in the 1970s. Only a few have flown more than his 409 combat missions.

He remained an active pilot until only a few years ago.

He was just honored this year with a promotion to brigadier general, with his stars pinned on by President Donald Trump.

He got to be part of the coin toss at this year’s Super Bowl.

This week, he talked to the Capital Journal from his Southern home about how he loved flying, even in combat; how he helped break down the segregation in the Army Air Force during World War II; and what he tells young people now about the new challenges in America.

That interview comes ahead of his appearance slated for 11 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 2, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is scheduled to be interviewed live by Pierre Riggs High alum John Mollison, now a Sioux Falls resident.

An artist and historian, Mollison has built his “Old Guys and Their Airplanes” franchise to include interactive live interviews with combat pilots. Viewers on TV and on the internet can text questions for McGee.

The genial, soft-spoken general is hard to believe. He turns 101 on Dec. 7. He answers the phone when you call his home. He remembers in detail facts about the wars he fought and the fighters he flew, the models, the engines.

He’s gracious and humble to even a faraway reporter. But he’s got the command presence of a brigadier general.

“Did you have some questions? “ comes only seconds after a greeting and a small amount of small talk.

Yessir.

You flew in three wars and saw a lot of change in aircraft over 30 years. Was there a best, or a favorite airplane for you?

“Well, comparisons aren’t always good. But the P-51 Mustang with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine was really a wonderful piece of equipment for the task we had. We built it for the British and they put the Rolls Royce engine in and that really made it, as I said, a wonderful aircraft.

It was good from the ground to 35,000 feet, with a thousand-mile range with (extra) fuel tanks.

You first shot down a German fighter in late 1944. What was that like?

In August, ‘44, my squadron was dispatched (against) an attempted attack on bombers we were escorting. I got on his tail and he tried to dive away and it didn’t work. He made a turn and that put him right in my gun sights.

To those of us who are non-fighter pilots, it seems like there must be as much fear as adrenaline in such combat in the air.

There was no fear involved as far as I see it or experienced it. But we had good training and we had great leadership. And our assignment was to help preserve American lives. We had thought that with all the guns on the B-17 and B-24 bombers, they would do that. But that wasn’t working. And each bomber that went down was 10 lives that were lost in many cases.

We actually started escort work with the P-47. Then we only had three months to get the P-51 into use. And that worked out pretty well.

You must have seen so many differences in America’s wars from the 1940s to the 1970s. What was it like to have such a perspective, from the air, of three different wars?

That’s an interesting question. You need to really understand how many allies fought in World War II and how we conducted that war to help our allies in Europe. And how the country was behind the military in building and providing what was necessary to win the war.

In Korea, (political leaders) wouldn’t let the commander do what we could have done and won that war. No, we had to let the Chinese into the war. And we still have a divided Korea. “

In Vietnam, it was politics, not winning, but always a compromise. We didn’t declare war there. And the lives lost . . It doesn’t solve the issues, when politics is involved. It’s always a compromise.

How did those wars differ for you personally?

My experience in World War II was what I call air superiority. We were there to keep the skies clear while our bombers attempted to destroy the Germans’ war-making potential. We were not out to kill Germans but to destroy their war-making potential.

In Korea, I never saw a MiG (the Soviet made jet fighter). I flew the P-51 fighter again, in support of the moving of our troops on the ground

And in Vietnam. I was in technical intelligence gathering . We carried no weapons on our aircraft. But it was tactical operations to gather intelligence for our unit.

So my experience was in three important phases of aviation.

Were you ever wounded in combat?

I didn’t get a scratch in Europe.

In Korea, I had a plane get hit, but not in the cockpit. It was out on the wing. But I got my plane back to home base.

In Vietnam. I got hit and I wasn’t able to get back to home base but I was able to land at a (secondary) base.

That’s how it works. If either of those hits had been in the cockpit, I probably wouldn’t be here.

You got to be in the coin toss for the Super Bowl this year on Feb. 2 in Miami. That had to be cool.

That was nice. I still don’t know how I got picked. What a good deal, to represent veterans and to be there with three other veterans (who were 100, too.) I was more mobile, so I passed the coin to the head referee. It was quite an event, for sure, to represent veterans all over the country. It was really an honor.

Two days after the Super Bowl, President Donald Trump pinned stars on your uniform in the Oval Office with your promotion from colonel to brigadier general.

“Yes, that was the Fourth of February. It was very interesting.

You speak often to young people. What is your message to them?

My message to young people has gotten to be, and I pass it on to adults as well, I call it my four Ps: Perceive, Prepare, Perform and Persevere.

I tell them to dream your dreams. Find your talents and I hope you can find something you love to do. I loved aviation, so it was very rewarding to have aviation as a part of my life’s career.

Get a good education and learn to read and write and speak well.Develop your talents and find a good place to be part of our American future. Perform: Always do your best in everything you do. Keep excellence as your top goal.

What you do is good for your family. And what is good for the family is good for a community. And what is good for a community is good for our country.

And perseverance. People said I couldn’t do something like fly because of my happenstance of birth. If we did that, where in the world would we be? So don’t let circumstances be your excuse for not achieving.

You are a pioneer in leading African-Americans into the nation’s military aviation and someone who has lived a century of the United States of America’s 244-year history - 41% of it. How do you see this current turmoil ?

“I don’t know how to put words to it. I try to stay out of politics and that kind of stuff. And to realize that someday; maybe we can all be just Americans. People ask, because of the color of my skin, are you an African-American? I don’t ask ‘Are you a French-American?’ Or, ‘are you a Russian-American?’ We still have a long way to go on the path for young folks. But if we give up hope we are already lost.

With 409 combat mission as a pilot in three wars over 30 years in the Army Air Force, then the Air Force; as a legendary Tuskegee airman, you have experienced what almost no one else has, haven't you? How did you do it?

I have had wonderful assignments, for me. I’m a lucky guy. I was able to actively fly for 27 of those 30 years. Why or how, I don’t have an answer. I was going into something I enjoyed. I turned out successful.

Did you ever meet any of the German pilots you fought against?

“I had a couple of very short contacts. One German pilot who was visiting here in America, who was involved in one of the incidents. He said he could have shot down a damaged bomber but chose not to.”

You will turn 101 on Dec. 7. I suppose you have a big party planned?

Well, if the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise. We will do something. My three children and the rest of my family gave me a wonderful 100th birthday, with many friends from across the country. So this year, I have no idea . . . if this virus is still around, it won’t be a big gathering…”


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1 More COVID-19 Death Confirmed In Hughes County; State up to 2,182 Active Cases
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4 (+1 from Thursday)

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Hughes County, according to the South Dakota Department of Health as of 3 p.m Friday.

27 (+3 from Thursday)Active COVID-19 cases in Hughes County, according to the South Dakota Department of Health as of 3 p.m. Friday.

1 (Same as Thursday)Active COVID-19 cases in Stanley County, according to the state Department of Health as of 3 p.m. Friday.

5,845,876Total COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 3 p.m. Friday.

180,165Deaths attributed to COVID-19 across the U.S. as of 3 p.m. Friday.

12,517 (+ 323 from Thursday)Total COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Health as of 3 p.m. Friday. 6,244 of these are men, while 6,273 are women.

2,182 (+ 182 from Thursday)Active COVID-19 cases in South Dakota, according to the state Department of Health as of 3 p.m. Friday.

165 (+3 from Thursday)Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in South Dakota.

80 (+ 5 from Thursday)People “currently” hospitalized for COVID-19 in South Dakota.


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Pierre parish to host 12-day meet on deeper Catholic faith featuring Rotella
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Saints Peter and Paul Catholic parish in Pierre is holding an unusual conference that will run 12 days next month, featuring Marty Rotella, well-known throughout the country’s Catholic faithful for his wide-spread musical and speaking talents and spiritual message at such events.

Rotella is a lay Catholic from Ridgefield, New Jersey with a mission of evangelism through music, motivational speaking and teaching deep truths with mystical aspects: “Touch Me Lord with the Shroud of Turin,” for example.

He and his brother, Jules, have a music production ministry called “Spirit Power,” which they say is “music created to feed the soul.”

In their materials, they say: “It is worship, prayer, reflection and healing: a way to help the inner self encounter love.”

The brothers say “Spirit Power” represents their inspired musical creations that invite everyone “along on your own journey to experience the love of Jesus.”

Patty Lihs, a member of St. John the Evangelist parish in Fort Pierre, is helping organize this event at Ss Peter and Paul, the big parish on Euclid Avenue that includes St. Joseph School. She is familiar with Rotella’s ministry.

It’s open to children and parents and people of all ages, she said. There’s no registration fee and no registration needed.

Catholic parishes often have special services each year to give people a time to learn more about the faith and think more about their own faith.

But this conference is longer than most, Lihs acknowledges.

Although it’s not an all-day event each of the 12 days, she said.

It begins at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4 in the parish sanctuary and the Rev. Joseph Holzhauser has approved of using the church for what may be a large gathering that concerns some during this COVID-19 pandemic.

For several weeks this spring, Catholic leaders in South Dakota halted public Masses because of concerns that pandemic would spread too much with people worshiping in large groups.

This conference wasn’t planned because of the pandemic but it’s not being called off because of it, Lihs said.

Rotella will share his music and teachings for about an hour and the evening will end with a Rosary prayer for unborn children, Lihs said.

The pro-life cause is part of the conference but not most of it, she said.

It’s going to be more about basic spiritual truths and life.

“What Marty is going to talk about is ‘Who is God?’ ‘What is love?’ And ‘who am I?,’” Lihs told the Capital Journal.

Lihs said Rotella has been presenting his “music and gospel message of Jesus’ love in 43 states in addition to Australia, Europe, Central and South America and Canada,” according to a copy of what she has shared with the parish.

Each evening the schedule will be the same through Tuesday, Sept. 15: beginning at 6:30 p.m. and ending about two hours later.

For more information, call the parish office at 605-224-2483.