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Forty four banners honoring Vietnam veterans are now hanging in downtown Prior Lake along Main Ave. thanks to the City and the VFW. You can search for a particular banner using our interactive map.

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By Barnini Chakraborty WashingtonExaminer

A house with a white picket fence and a big backyard might have been a staple of the American dream once upon a time, but if the Biden administration gets its way, the dream could soon be out of reach for millions of people.

As part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan , the Biden administration is pushing local governments to allow apartment buildings in neighborhoods that are restricted to single-family homes. The administration claims it’s a way to ease a national affordable housing shortage and combat racial injustice in the housing market.

Current zoning laws that favor single-family homes, known as exclusionary zoning, have disproportionately hurt low-income people who can’t afford to move to the suburbs, the administration said. Their only choice is living in crowded apartment buildings. Biden’s proposal would incentivize local governments to get rid of exclusionary zoning by awarding grants and tax credits to cities that change their zoning regulations.

While the proposal has had some bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, not everyone is on board.

Critics claim the federal government’s plan would change the landscape of towns and cities across the country and torpedo the American dream.

“The Biden plan’s backers are hypocrites,” former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey said . “Biden himself owns a four-acre lakefront home in upscale Greenville, Delaware, where there is absolutely no public housing, affordable housing, or rentals that accept housing vouchers. And don’t expect any to be built next door to the Bidens.”

She added that Biden “has always had a passion for stately homes and swanky addresses, even buying a 10,000-square-foot mansion that once belonged to the DuPont family, of 19th-century gunpowder wealth. Not exactly the sort of housing setup you’d associate with ‘Scranton Joe.'”

Regulating land use and zoning has largely been a function of local government. Critics claim that the Biden administration is now dangling millions of dollars in front of cash-strapped local governments in order to pressure them to change.

“I live in Irving, Texas, or as the leftists in Biden’s administration would call it, sprawl,” Rep. Beth Van Duyne, a Texas Republican, said. “If you live in a home that dares to have a yard, trees, space between you and a neighbor, and you work hard to pay a mortgage, you are likely a target.”

Van Duyne, who was the mayor of Irvine from 2011 to 2017, added that exclusionary zoning is “nothing more than a smokescreen to eliminate single-family zoning and break the burbs.”

“Biden’s desire to eliminate single-family zoning is for one reason, to destroy our suburban neighborhoods as we know them,” Van Duyne told the Washington Examiner . “Democrats are using this Trojan horse of an infrastructure bill to ‘reimagine’ our communities and erase single-family homeownership and locally run schools.”

Van Duyne claims that owning a home is one of the best ways to build and accumulate generational wealth but that in liberal states, “stopping the growth of single-family neighborhoods has already begun to take root.”

Zoning laws were relatively rare in the United States until a 1917 Supreme Court decision struck down laws designed to block black people from buying homes and property in white neighborhoods. The decision prompted local governments to adopt various rules that set minimum lot sizes and prevented building apartment complexes in single-family neighborhoods. Some of the urban areas with the tightest restrictions in place include coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco, according to a 2017 University of Pennsylvania study .

While some states haven’t budged in decades when it comes to deregulation, others are taking a proactive approach.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $627 million omnibus bill that included a “housing choice” measure that changed zoning laws to allow local officials to approve zoning changes with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds plurality. The move is the most significant step the state has taken in five decades toward deregulating its housing market.

“That might seem like a small change, but proponents argue it can break major logjams in getting housing built,” Scott Beyer, the owner of the Market Urbanism Report, recently wrote . “The law represents a win for the growing nationwide movement to get state-level preemption of local zoning policy.”

Efforts to get “housing choice” passed in 2018 failed after some lawmakers thought it went too far while others argued it didn’t go far enough.

In May, the Charlotte City Council took a big step toward eliminating zoning laws that only allow single-family homes that would ultimately make it easier for developers to build duplexes and triplexes in neighborhoods without deed restrictions. Supporters said it would increase the city’s housing supply, but councilwoman Renee Johnson said she opposed the measure.

“I think this has opened up the door and the floodgates for gentrification in neighborhoods like Hidden Valley and other vulnerable neighborhoods, so I voted no,” she said .

The city council will vote on the final plan at the end of June.

Sacramento, California, also took its first steps to eliminate traditional single-family zoning this year. The city council voted unanimously to proceed with a draft zoning plan that would allow up to four dwelling units, the Sacramento Bee reported.

City officials said the move would help with the housing crisis and making neighborhoods with good schools and pristine parks available to those who could not afford the cost of buying a home in the area.

“Everybody should have the

opportunity to not only play in Land Park but to live in Land Park,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said. “That’s the Sacramento that we all uphold, that we love, that we value, and you better believe this drive for inclusion and equity is the driving force of our city, and it is going to continue well beyond my tenure here.”

Minneapolis has also allowed small apartments to be built in residential areas across the city, and in 2019, Oregon became the first state to end single-family-only zoning in cities of 10,000 or more statewide.

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I came across this opinion By Ayaan Hirsi AliIn the NewsBreak App posted from the New York Post and thought it was to valuable not to share. Please feel free to share with your friends and family.

Also, comments are always appreciated.

Thanks 🙏 John K. Siskoff

I saw tribalism rip a country apart — and now it’s happening in America

By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

May 11, 2021 | 12:28pm 

About a decade ago, when I worked for the American Enterprise Institute, I had to force myself to go to lunch with a friend. I dreaded the meeting because I knew that she was going to try to convince me to leave my job. AEI is a pro-business, conservative-leaning think tank in Washington, DC. My friend was an enthusiastic liberal.

After I had run out of excuses, the day arrived and, predictably, after a few minutes of the usual small talk, my friend launched into a tirade about the Iraq War, which several of my colleagues strongly supported.

“You don’t belong there, Ayaan,” she said.

I remember trying to steer the conversation on to actual policies. I had voted for supporting the American coalition in Iraq when I was a Member of Parliament in the Netherlands — and I started to explain why.

But she wasn’t interested in a rational discussion. She interrupted me mid-sentence, launching into a monologue about John Bolton, the former ambassador to the United Nations and a fellow at AEI (and subsequently national security adviser to President Donald Trump). Bolton, my friend insisted, was a loathsome, hateful, racist, neo-conservative warmonger. The list went on and on until eventually she said that he looked like a walrus with a mustache. You could tell by his physiognomy, she explained, that he was a psychopath.

“But what about the policies?” I responded, trying to redirect the conversation away from personalities. The more she spoke, the more I recognized her broad disposition as something I had experienced earlier in my life. Her attitude was almost entirely tribal. Two things in particular stood out: an almost blind hatred of a particular group (Republicans), and secondly, the use of deeply personal attacks on individual researchers to justify that hatred.

Today, 10 years later, this attitude seems to be the prevailing norm. Numerous studies support the hypothesis that American life — not just politics, but life in general — has become deeply polarized. The deeply divided society we now live in increasingly reminds me of clan or tribal behavior in Africa.

In Somalia, where I was born, my mother was blindly loyal to our clan. So much so that, apparently, she claimed she could detect the malicious intentions of an individual from a different clan just by the structure of his forehead. She would, for example, often warn my father that someone was trying to take advantage of him, purely by the way he frowned.

In “Culture and Conflict in the Middle East,” anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman recounts meeting tribesmen in Baluchistan. What, they had asked Salzman, would he do if he faced a real danger in his home country? Well, Salzman replied, he would call the police. The tribesmen roared with laughter, then looked at him pityingly: “Oh no, no, no, they said: only your ‘lineage mates’ will help you.”

In tribal communities, neutral institutions of civil society that Westerners take for granted — such as the police, impartial courts, and the rule of law — simply do not, and cannot, exist. In such societies, everything is tribalized, and the task of building civic institutions is laden with difficulties.

In Somalia, I was taught to be suspicious of anyone from a different clan, to always think harm was coming my way and to be guarded against anyone that was “other.” I come from the Darod clan, and was taught to constantly listen to accents, examine face shapes and overanalyze all non-verbal cues, searching for any indications of a different tribe. I can still identify a Somali (and usually their clan) from across a room.

We were captives of an echo chamber, hearing constantly of the evils of the neighboring Hawiye clan. We were taught from a young age that the Hawiye were coming to rape, rob, and destroy us. In response, we amassed weapons, hoarded food and exhorted young men (as young as 12) to join the military. The looming threat of the Hawiye was so great that my mother eventually sent my sister and me abroad. 

In the end, because of such protracted tribal tensions, Somalia collapsed into civil war. Every attempt at mediation proved incapable of handling the deep-seated mistrust and hatred that accumulated by each clan over the years; tribal elders, reluctant to compromise, could not de-escalate the situation. With such high levels of distrust, the conflict spiraled into bloodshed.

While such violence has yet to seize America, all the tribalist ingredients are present. There is a blind commitment to one party or the other; emotions are running high; there is a lack of trust in civic institutions. If such tribalism isn’t overcome, it’s only a matter of time before the situation escalates.

Some of this has its absurd side: for instance, the strange ways that public health measures such as mask-wearing and vaccination have become politicized, to the point that I know of fully vaccinated people in California who say they will continue to wear masks for fear of being mistaken for Republicans. Bizarre? Of course. But it is also symptomatic of a dangerous trend toward tribalism.

We are, I fear, close to the precipice of serious destabilization. Many American cities are either militarized (Washington, DC), near a social boiling point (Minneapolis), or have capitulated to anarchist protests and pressures (Portland, Seattle).

These tribal quirks run deep on both sides of the aisle. Many Republicans continue to dispute the legitimacy of the result of the last presidential election; while on the left, the woke are eroding the Democratic Party from the inside, as identity politics displace universalist aspirations. Some citizens are viewed as part of oppressive groups, some as part of oppressed groups. A person’s individual actions can generally do little to change the immutable characteristics of the tribe to which they belong.

Just as I noticed with my friend over lunch, there is frequently a visceral hostility towards anyone who leans even slightly toward the right. Today, especially in academia, those who don’t conform with the “progressive” narrative, no matter how ethical they might be as individuals, are vilified as racists, white supremacists, homophobes or transphobes. Individuals can be attacked, canceled, disinvited or even fired for the tiniest of verbal transgressions.

This kind of intolerance has for some time been apparent in high schools, too. Another friend of mine has a daughter who attends a private school outside of San Francisco. Last year, when it was revealed that she had expressed mild support for President Trump, she was pushed down the stairs by a fellow pupil.

It was a horrifying and, one hopes, rare incident. And yet there is something very striking about tribalism: It is a basic human trait, like skin color or gender. However, despite being the natural state of being for many humans, it is not a positive or helpful trait, particularly in modern times. Tribalism developed as an imperfect social survival mechanism in the early stages of human civilization. But in modern times, it can lead to social disintegration and severe violence between groups.

The beautiful story of America, the reason so many people around the world still yearn to come here, is to a large extent founded on our rejection of tribalism and our establishment of civic, neutral institutions, based on the fundamental principle of equality before the law. These institutions are imperfect, of course, but they are far superior to the tribalism that rules other parts of the world. Our overcoming of such a natural urge is an accomplishment.

As “woke” politics strengthens its grasp on our institutions — extending beyond the educational system into the media and now many corporations — that accomplishment is being eroded. The presumption of innocence, the commitment to blind justice and the whole notion of due process are all falling victim to spurious notions of “equity” and “anti-racism” — both of which carry within them an implicit intention to discriminate on racial lines.

If we continue to slip down this path, the thirst for tribalism will be unquenchable. That’s why moderate liberals need to stand up to the destructive forces that are taking over the Democratic Party, just as moderate conservatives need to resist the tribal impulse that often grows in reaction to the other side’s excesses.

In Somalia, we failed to do this. In America, it is imperative that we succeed.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Reprinted with permission from Unherd.


Have you ever wondered how illegal aliens come up with the thousands of dollars required to pay smugglers?

Human smuggling is the illegal importation of people into a country, deliberately evading immigration laws.

“They have no concern for humanity, none; it’s a money business,” said Jack Staton, acting special agent in charge for ICE Homeland Security Investigations El Paso, Texas, “they look at people as merchandise, as a way to make money.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) serves as the leading U.S. law enforcement agency responsible for the fight against human smuggling.

Human smuggling operates as a contract business. An understanding exists among transnational criminal organizations, smugglers and individuals seeking transport, that trying to cross the border independently is not an option.

Smugglers escort the illegal aliens through the desert, across the border, to stash houses and onto their final destinations within the interior of the U.S. A portion of the smuggling fees paid to the transnational criminal organizations helps fuel their other criminal enterprises.

Smugglers move humans in a variety of ways without concern about personal safety or comfort. People are being transported as part of cargo transports, in vehicles, boats, tractor-trailers, box cars on trains, and in automobiles and trucks that are transported on trains as cargo. Smugglers also utilize legitimate transportation options such as commercial buses and flights.

Migrants often pay additional fees for certain types of transportation methods; for example, they may pay extra for transport in a tractor-trailer because the chance of making it across the border is greater than on foot. However, extra fees paid do not guarantee safe transit. If the trip takes place in the summer, temperatures in a truck can easily rise above 100 degrees and the situation can quickly become dangerous.

While smugglers most often transport adult males, ICE reports the number of women, children and family units seeking transport has increased dramatically in recent years. Often, they find themselves at risk for assault and abuse such as rape, beatings, kidnapping and robbery.

Smugglers regularly overcrowd living and sleeping accommodations, and withhold food and water, as evidenced in our recent piece on the 97 illegals found locked in two bedrooms in a Houston home. In addition, individuals who are smuggled may be forced into human trafficking situations upon their arrival in the U.S., or their families may be extorted. Knowing these dangers, the majority of people who travel with a smuggling organization do so voluntarily.

Fees can range from $2,500 to $11,000 or more per person, as part of a network that includes pay offs to government officials, gangs, and drug cartels controlling the routes north. Criminal organizations are involved at every stage of the migration process, from motivating departures to the U.S. and security along smuggling routes, to the mechanisms involved in entering undetected.

So, how do migrants come up with the money to pay the cartels? Some have saved for years for it, but many cannot afford the steep fees and may agree to pay off their debt later.

In an interview with Fox News, former Tucson Border Patrol Chief Roy Villareal, who retired in December after 30 years with the agency said, “A lot of these vulnerable populations use their life savings. Some are essentially indentured servants and they’re working off this debt for a long period of time. In other cases, some of these migrants are asked to transport narcotics or some form of crime to work off a different part of their debt.”

According to Open Borders, some migrants save up for years to finance a journey, as others would have saved for their children’s college or a wedding, so their children can access better opportunities. Some may be financed by family members who are already in the U.S. For immediate family members, it may be a gift, but for more distant relationships, it may be a loan.

Beyond what migrants may pay up front, many are kidnapped, tortured, and held for ransom until they reveal the phone numbers of relatives in the United States, and as mentioned earlier, they may be forced into becoming drug mules. Under these situations, migrants become desperate to enter the U.S. illegally and remain, even if it means being imprisoned on drug charges, for fear of being killed if they are sent home.

Recently, human smugglers have created a sophisticated “inventory system” using colored and numbered wristbands to identify which migrants have paid, and which have not. The individuals are registered and must submit information such as names, addresses and cell phone numbers of family members. This information enables smugglers to threaten those family members with violence or death if the fees are not paid.

While human smuggling involves the service of transporting a person into a country illegally, human trafficking involves exploiting people for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.

In order to pay off fees or loans, or prevent harm from coming to their families, migrants may be placed into forced labor, which comes in several forms.

Debt bondage is forced labor that is used as security for the repayment of a debt or other obligation by a person who holds that debt and has some control over the debtor. As payment, traffickers offer individuals the ability to work to pay off that debt. Oftentimes, the migrant is paid low wages and the trafficker adds more to the debt, such as shelter or food. The debt continues to increase due to the added expenses, making it impossible to pay off. Sometimes this debt is passed down to the next generation.

Involuntary domestic servitude is the practice of live-in help that work largely without contracts in unregulated workplaces. The lack of legal protections combined with social isolation and a lack of personal autonomy inherent in live-in domestic service, provides an enabling environment for slavery.

The Human Trafficking Center says, “Creditors may have connections in their debtors’ home countries, which they can use to threaten the debtors’ families to continue work or coerce their families to pay off the debts. For example, some villages in Guatemala have large populations of smugglers who offer passage across the American border for young men. Many families take this chance for better economic prospects in America and the promise of remittances. The families and the debtor are often unaware of the amount of money they will owe for this passage. The creditor may take advantage of this situation by holding the deed to the family house until the debt is paid while exploiting the labor of the migrant. In the Guatemalan example, there is no regulation on this migration debt bondage, therefore debts can end up becoming permanent fixtures.”

According to the 2020 U.S. Department of State Trafficking In Persons Report, Human trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Traffickers compel victims to work in a large variety of industries and sectors, and they exploit domestic and foreign national victims in the United States, as well as victims from the United States abroad.

Individuals who entered the United States with and without legal status have been identified as trafficking victims. The victims originate from almost every region of the world, but the top three countries of origin of federally identified victims in FY 2019 were the United States, Mexico, and Honduras.

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National Police Week

Post Date:05/09/2021 2:00 AM

This week is National Police Week. The last year has been a challenging one for all law enforcement officers in the State of Minnesota.  As your Chief, I want to say thank you to the residents of Prior Lake and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux communities. 

Throughout 2020, hundreds of you have stopped by the Prior Lake Police Department to say thank you and show your support.  Some examples of these acts of kindness were, artwork from your children, groups sewing masks for our officers, providing health and wellness services, dropping off pastries, cookies, and healthy treats, or just simply saying you have been thinking about us!   

Policing in America has never been easy.  We derive our authority from the people.  We have always and will always accept this mandate as we continue to serve.  As the public debate continues about what society wants our police officers to do, who we want our police officers to be, these visits and gestures of kindness are an outward expression by all of you which say thank you and we value your service.

This means more than you will ever know to each of us!

Thank you,

Steve Frazer, Prior Lake Chief of Police

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