Put your phone away while driving, starting right now

You’ve probably heard by now that starting August 1, Minnesota’s “hands-free” bill will go into effect for motorists. As a way to crack down on distracted driving and, hopefully, reduce the amount of crashes and lives lost due to distracted driving, the law bars motorists from holding and using cellphones or other wireless devices while driving. People that have newer vehicles with built-in Bluetooth systems should start using the voice-activation feature and others can purchase hands-free mounts at many stores and online retailers. Minnesota already bans texting and emailing while driving, so why wait to be hands-free? Get things set up now and keep distractions to a minimum.

Twins’ brass go all-in

It's a "when" and not an "if" proposition: The Minnesota Twins brass, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, will be active leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July. And good for them. They have to, though, otherwise the fans will rightly revolt. This team might have the most solid batting lineup from top to bottom, but the pitching needs a boost. After a blistering start, starter Martin Perez has crashed back down to Earth, and fellow starter Michael Pineda has been inconsistent. The bullpen, also, has been the team's weakest link. Look for the Twins to seek out a starter and maybe a couple relievers. The Giants Madison Bumgarner seems to be mentioned by the local and national baseball media the most, but big names like that come with a cost. The Twins' farm system has a lot of talent, and fans need to be prepared for some familiar names, some top prospects getting dealt. But if you're not going to be all-in on this Twins season, when will you be?

Hong Kong people stand strong, fight for their freedom

Huge protests have been happening in Hong Kong over China’s proposed extradition bill. The bill would allow the Chinese government to extradite residents to mainland China, which could lead to the erosion of  Hong Kong’s civil rights and autonomy. Organizers of the protest march said around two million people took part in the city of seven million. The protests have been met with police violence, including use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. As a result of the protests, the passage of the bill has been suspended, and it is not likely to pass this year. However, protesters continue to push for the bill to be withdrawn entirely. The huge numbers of protesters should be a sign to the government that the extradition bill is not what the people want.  Let’s see the people of Hong Kong stand strong and fight for the freedom they believe in, and the government pay a bit more attention to the peaceful demonstrations that show so clearly what residents of Hong Kong think about their government’s decisions.
                                                                                – Maddie Everett, summer intern

Watch for wrong-way drivers in Crookston

Crookston is unique as it has two of its main roads as one-ways, Main Street and Broadway, and it’s often times confusing to out-of-town motorists. Possibly even once a week a wrong-way driver is spotted cruising directly at oncoming traffic. Not only is it scary for you, but it’s also scary for the unsuspecting driver when they realize that they’ve made a mistake. To all the “regular” Crookston drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians: When you’re ready to turn onto Main or Broadway or cross either of those streets, it might be a good habit to look both ways to make sure there isn’t someone coming at you. Also, if you’re driving and see one of those wrong-way drivers, give them some courtesy honks so they know they’re doing wrong.

Volkwagen, please get over yourself

Volkswagen, often on the cutting edge of technology, makes some excellent vehicles. And the new marketing campaign surrounding the coming release to the market of their new electric "microbus,” which looks very reminiscent of the iconic VW van that became a symbol of the peace and love hippie movement in the United States in the 1960s, certainly seems to indicate it's a vehicle capable of the latest and greatest electrical feats. But the overlong TV commercials hyping the vehicle, with the use of the Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel's classic song, "The Sound of Silence" is simply too much. “In the darkness, we found the light“ the company claims at the end of the commercial. The "darkness," if you recall, involves the 2015 "diesel dupe" that had Volkswagen getting busted for cheating emissions tests on hundreds of thousands of Volkswagen diesel vehicles in the United States. It was a huge scandal. VW's new electric microbus is a good look for the company, a cool-looking, even revolutionary vehicle. The way the company is enthusiastically patting itself on the back, however, in introducing the vehicle is a bad look for them.