Deceptive cancer foundation

Thumbs Down: There's nothing more despicable than taking a good cause - helping cancer survivors - and twisting it into a money-making scheme. But that's what the Florida-based "Breast Cancer Outreach Foundation" did, according to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which has filed a proposed court order to ban the foundation from further operating in Minnesota because of deceptive solicitation practices. The order alleges the foundation's solicitation of Minnesota donors gave them the false impression that contributions would be used to support breast cancer research and help local Minnesota women in their fight against breast cancer. In reality, the foundation spent the vast majority of its money on fundraising and other overhead expenses, and never directly granted any money to a Minnesota woman with breast cancer or to any organization helping women in Minnesota in their struggle with breast cancer, according to the court order. There's a lesson to be learned from this: Before giving a donation to an organization that sounds like it has a noble cause, research it first. Better yet, support an organization with local ties that you can trust, such as Relay for Life. For more information on how to research a charity before donating, or to file a complaint about a charity, contact the Attorney General's Office.

Turkey titans

Thumbs Up: Let's hear it for the turkey farmers out there. Gov. Tim Walz has proclaimed the week of June 24-28 as "Minnesota Turkey Growers Week" in honor of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association's 80th anniversary. Besides providing healthy and delicious products for consumers, turkey farmers deliver an economic impact. Some turkey tidbits provided by the governor's office: Approximately 450 turkey family farmers from Minnesota raise about 42 million birds annually. Minnesota remains steadfast at the number-one position in the U.S. for turkey production. Current U.S. turkey production stands at approximately 242 million annually - which means Minnesota farmers raise nearly 18 percent of all U.S. turkeys. Each turkey raised in Minnesota brings $17.46 in economic value to the state - which means Minnesota's turkeys and the farmers who raise them generate over $800 million in economic activity for the state.

A cruel, heartless act

Thumbs Down: An Alexandria woman sends a thumbs down to the driver of a dark blue SUV that deliberately swerved to hit a large painted turtle that was beginning to cross the road in front of her family's cabin on Lake L'Homme Dieu. "The month of June is nesting season for turtles," the woman noted. "This turtle was approaching the highway to cross the street and head into the wooded area on the other side. The turtle had not even reached the white line. I had just parked my car, got out and started walking toward the road to move the turtle to the other when the SUV came down the road, saw the turtle, and intentionally swerved to hit it. It was such a cruel, heartless thing to do."

Robocalls and a new effort to stop them

Thumbs Down/Up: This has made our "thumbs down" list before - those annoying telemarketing "robocalls" that are not only disruptive but are often scams. Despite lawmakers' efforts to squelch them, the calls keep happening. According to the 2019 Federal Communications Commission Robocall Report, there were over 5 billion robocalls initiated each month. The calls are generally illegal and are frequently used to defraud and scam elderly Americans. But there may be some hope on the horizon. A group of senators has introduced the Deter Obnoxious, Nefarious and Outrageous Telephone (DO NOT) Call Act, which would improve enforcement and establish stiffer penalties for violations made under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The DO NOT Call Act creates a new penalty that could include up to one year in prison for any willful and knowing violation. The legislation would also increase the maximum penalty for civil and criminal fines from $10,000 to $20,000 for falsifying Caller ID. It would also further penalize those who commit an "aggravated" version of the offense, which would subject individuals to a maximum three-year prison sentence.

• • •

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