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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

Lawn mower lessons

Thumbs Down/Up: We received a couple of "thumbs down" notes from readers who were upset about a photo the newspaper took of a man riding a lawn mower while holding his 1-year-old son. "A child does not belong on a riding lawn mower while it is being operated," said one reader. "It is plain and simply not safe, no matter how good a driver you think you are. A lawn mower is a powerful machine and to be operating it with only one hand while the other hand holds your child is a very poor decision." Another reader cited three reasons why it's not a good idea: 1. Lawn mowing is not a two-person job, especially when one of them is a toddler, infant or baby. 2. The noise and vibration can cause hearing damage, especially if hearing protection is not worn. 3. There's a danger of the child falling off the adult's lap and ending up under the mower. On a related note, we received several "thumbs up" reactions to the July 4 story, "A brave girl and a lawn mower." Readers were the girl's positive attitude in recovering from a lawn mower injury and said the story delivered a message as well. "This article shows how dangerous a lawn mower can be, even from a distance," said a reader. "The article ended with "Be safe" — excellent words of advice in all lawn mowing situations."

VIN report scam

Thumbs Down: A reader in Brandon alerted us to a scam she was able to avoid after she posted her car for sale on Craigslist. She got a call from someone who said he was interested in the vehicle but wanted more information, including the car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) report. He told her to go to a website where she'd have to pay a $14.99 fee. The reader wisely avoided putting in any credit card number or financial information on the website, which is what the interested car caller was really after. The reader also did the right thing by calling law enforcement right away and they confirmed that the website was a scam.

Raising tobacco age to 21

Thumbs Up: Here's something going on in Otter Tail County that local leaders should think about pursuing — raising the legal age of buying tobacco products to 21. The Otter Tail County Board will host a public hearing on the issue on Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Otter Tail County Government Services Center County Board Room in Fergus Falls. The proposed ordinance will prohibit the provision of tobacco, tobacco products, tobacco-related devices, electronic delivery devices, and nicotine or lobelia delivery devices to a person under the age of 21; require verification that the person is at least 21 years of age prior to distributing a product; and require clearly visible notice of the county minimum legal sales age to be posted at the location where products are available for purchase. Eleven Minnesota cities have enacted "21 Tobacco" policies. Alexandria or Douglas County should too. Studies show that raising the age will prevent youth smoking and save lives, and over time, could prevent 30,000 young people in Minnesota from smoking.

Robocall headway

Thumbs Up: Federal lawmakers may be making headway in stemming those annoying "robocalls" that are repeatedly interrupting people's lives at work and at home. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith recently joined 12 other senators in calling for the Federal Communications Commission to establish protections for consumers from unwanted and harassing robocalls and robotexts. "In an era when the onslaught of unwanted and abusive robocalls is on the rise, we are concerned that the absence of core protections would result in even more invasive calls and texts," the senators wrote in their letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "It is the FCC's obligation to use its existing authority to reestablish robust, enforceable protections to enhance the precious zone of privacy created by the law." The senators are asking the FCC to establish a comprehensive definition of the term auto dialer; uphold Congress' intent to cover all callers using auto dialers, not exclusively those using artificial-voice or prerecorded messages; maintain aggressive protections restricting unwanted calls and texts to reassigned numbers; and reiterate that consumers always have the right to revoke consent, regardless of any contractual clauses that may be included in user agreements.

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If you have a suggestion for a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down, email it to or mail it to Echo Press, P.O. Box 549, Alexandria, MN 56308.