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Minnesota Opinion

On the dangerous cold:

The Northland certainly didn't need another reminder during this winter of subzero stretches that "dangerous" in "dangerously cold" must be taken seriously.

But news broke Sunday that a body was found frozen in an empty parking lot near the Copasetic Lounge on Central Entrance. Police identified the man yesterday as Scott Anthony Miner, 22. Officers believe he left the bar alone and then either fell or lay down. He apparently died of hypothermia ...

This winter's unmerciful cold has written far darker stories.

On Thursday, a 43-year-old man was found frozen stiff in his vehicle, which was found stuck in a snowy ditch north of Moorhead, Minn. On Jan. 13, a 51-year-old Hayward electrician named Timothy Brueggeman froze to death after sleepwalking. His body was found in an empty lot 200 feet from his home ...

Two days after Christmas, Janice Goodger, 64, of Duluth, slipped on a slick patch of snow outside her daughter's home and fell hard. Unable to get up, she wrapped a long scarf around her legs, pulled her coat as snuggly around her as she could and waited as darkness fell. By the time she was revived, her heart had stopped beating for at least an hour and her body temperature had plummeted to 60 degrees. But -- miraculously and thankfully -- she survived ...

The cruel cold doesn't discriminate. It can call and claim anyone, especially people who scoff at wearing weather-appropriate clothing, who don't carry working cell phones and who don't inform loved ones where they're going or take other vital precautions out of respect for a chill that can kill.

Northlanders must continue to be smart and to heed warnings with the steely grip of winter showing no signs of loosening. Tragic reminders of the cold's cruelty aren't needed.

-- Duluth News Tribune

On the Senate seat:

Minnesota's Senate race is for its citizens to decide -- not the U.S. Senate. Despite the fact that the state Supreme Court trial began Monday, some U.S. senators already have their minds made up about who the winner is. Through newly found ballots, requests from one side and appeals from the other, our system for the recount has worked well so far. Senators and Minnesotans should let the system finish its job legitimately.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that the Senate was going to try to seat Al Franken while Republican Norm Coleman's lawsuit was still being sorted out.

This is not an issue for the U.S. Senate to decide. Under the guidance of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, Minnesota has done an excellent job in handling the recount thus far and has given no reason for an outside body to intervene. Moreover, if the Senate did seat Franken -- even if only on a provisional basis -- it would undermine our state's judicial system and its ability to handle such an issue in the future.

The trial ... will lead to a legitimate decision in the race. Coleman faces the challenge of producing proof of inconsistencies in the way votes may have been tallied, which if proven could give more votes to either side. Franken has a current lead of 225 votes. But the trial might last weeks.

Throughout the recount, both candidates along with judges have sided and ditched the argument that every vote should count. But that principle is not a folly one. For the Senate to step in and decide otherwise would undercut our democratic system. Let the system to its job.

-- Minnesota Daily

On garbage burning:

People who live in larger towns in this area must be scratching their heads over the ongoing use of burn barrels in smaller towns and in the countryside. If you live in Fairmont or Blue Earth, for example, you have to have your garbage hauled away. You can't burn it. For good reason.

Burning is a safety hazard. It can start summer grass fires or set adjacent buildings on fire. Household waste can release toxins when burned. Given concerns for ourselves and neighbors, no one would spray poison into the air. Yet many people think nothing of burning their trash.

In the 1970s, the city of Fairmont closed its incinerator because it represented a fire hazard, and because it was not seen as an environmentally friendly way to dispose of garbage. It seems well past the time for smaller towns and rural residents to make the same kind of decision.

We see no reason why people living in smaller towns or in the countryside cannot rent large trash bins or buy garbage bags from haulers, just like businesses and people do in the larger towns. While rural garbage collection may not make sense, rural residents certainly could haul their trash to collection points.

-- Sentinel of Fairmont