Thumbs up to Mankato child care provider Elizabeth Bangert for bringing problems with state regulation to the forefront.

Bangert and other providers made an emotional appeal Feb. 28 to state lawmakers, outlining the struggles many day care providers have with the Department of Human Services’ inspections. From frustrations about temporary closures and not knowing when their businesses could operate again, to seemingly minor infractions such as not having enough Play-doh, Bangert and other providers made it clear the system is in need of attention.

No one wants lax regulations that endanger the lives of children in the care of providers. Unsafe conditions need to be red-flagged. But when citations are doled out for such infractions as art supplies not being out in view, then focus seems off.

On Wednesday Bangert returned to the Capitol to testify again, armed with DHS data that backed up providers’ frustrations. The uneven process of handing out citations and lack of flexibility of inspectors doesn’t seem to be tied to a few isolated incidents.

The action of Bangert and other providers put the spotlight on a serious problem that needs lawmakers’ attention. Minnesota’s workforce needs access to quality day care. Fixing the inspection system to be more reasonable is one step to making sure providers stay in business.

Sessions standing up to Trump

Thumbs up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions for standing up to President Donald Trump on a matter of integrity for Justice Department investigations.

Trump criticized Sessions for relying on the Justice Department’s Inspector General to look into if the FBI abused its power in the Russian investigation.

Trump described Sessions’ decision to refer the matter to the internal investigator as “disgraceful” and that it would “take forever.”

In a rare reply, Sessions said referring the matter to the inspector general was the right and appropriate thing to do. He shot back at Trump’s tweet: “As long as I am the attorney general, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor.”

We’re glad to see Sessions stand up to Trump’s bullying and blather. He’s doing the right thing for the integrity of the investigation and for the country.

Sessions was right on, saying, “We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary.”

Tech repair

Society’s throw-away mentality is deeply ingrained. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep pushing for ways not just to recycle things but to fix them.

Minnesotans throw out 6,500 cellphones every day, according to a study by Environment Minnesota. The phones, and the heavy metals they contain, often end up in landfills.

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require manufacturers of small electronic devices provide repair shops with parts and information to carry out fixes

Sure, not everyone will choose to have their broken phone fixed rather than tossing it, but many would. And such a bill wouldn’t just help and save money for those want to fix their phones. It would also help many local repair shops.

Combating fake news

Thumbs up to the latest effort to combat the spread of falsehoods masquerading as news on social media.

Media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz this week announced the founding of News Guard, a fledgling company that will assign a “reliability” rating — green, yellow or red — to some 7,500 sources of online news, based on an assessment by its teams of journalists. The rating would cover each site’s overall track record as a news purveyor. It wouldn’t apply to any specific article or journalist.

We’ve argued here repeatedly that Facebook, Twitter and Google must recognize the need for editorial judgment. The social media and search giants instead cling to their algorithms, which have been at best unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

News Guard wouldn’t stop the hoaxers, but a red rating would warn readers that this site is not to be trusted.

Of course, News Guard can only be as effective as Facebook, Twitter and Google will allow. So far, the social media giants have found it more lucrative to let the fakers have free rein over their services, to the detriment of democracy.

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