GOOD: The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead is the gift that keeps giving to scientists and the northern Black Hills. The latest revelation from the depths of the old Homestake gold mine is that methane-eating extremophiles are among the inhabitants. How rare and interesting are these microscopic bugs to the scientific community? Recently, a project led by a South Dakota School of Mines and Technology professor received a $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The four-year project will enlist the efforts of 21 scientists from three universities who will try to determine if the microbes’ unique and voracious appetites can be used in new technologies, which may include reducing greenhouse gases that many believe contribute to climate change.
BAD: The nation has gotten a whiff of how Republicans might want to pay for a tax-reform plan that would reduce the corporate tax rate and eliminate the inheritance tax, the latter being championed by Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota. According to the Wall Street Journal, the House Ways and Means Committee, which includes Noem, is considering a measure that caps a worker's annual 401(k) contribution at $2,400. It is now $18,000 a year for those under 50 and $24,000 for those over 50. Those contributions are pre-tax deductions, with the federal government getting its cut when money is removed from traditional 401(k) accounts. If this happens, it would raise income taxes for the working class while discouraging savings for retirement. President Trump has tweeted that he opposes the measure. Let’s hope Thune and Noem take a public stand against this proposal and fight it as hard as they are the fighting the so-called death tax, which they claim is unfair to families in South Dakota. Undermining their 401(k)s would be just as unfair.
UGLY: Four former Chadron State College students pleaded guilty Friday to hazing and assault. According to published reports, the alleged offenses were directed at new members of the wrestling team, who were forced to snort salt, drink liquor and got punched in the face and neck by their now former teammates. Earlier this year, a Penn State freshman died after drinking copious amounts of liquor at a fraternity hazing and now a number of students there face criminal charges. Other hazing incidents have made national news as well in the past year. The good news is that authorities and institutions like Chadron State are responding strongly to these incidents. Nonetheless, it is painfully disturbing that these hazing rituals exist today. Students found guilty of hurting fellow students in this manner should be punished severely. It is not funny nor should it ever be tolerated again.