MPR News Update

The jobless news keeps getting better

by Phil Picardi, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio

Oct 5, 2012

Today we learn that the unemployment rate has recovered to the point it was at when Barack Obama took office, we hear Minnesotans may have been exposed to a dangerous form of meningitis, the trial of a Twin Cities terror suspect continues, and a university professor speaks with us again about his journey with ALS.

ECONOMY PERKS UP: The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The Labor Department said that employers added 114,000 jobs in September. The economy also created 86,000 more jobs in July and August than first estimated. Wages rose in September and more people started looking for work.

CANDIDATES TRADE BARBS: President Obama said the economic was fresh evidence that his economic policies are working. GOP challenger Mitt Romney countered the rate is low in part because some people have quit looking for work.

BIRD MESS "I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," Mitt Romney said in his debate with President Barack Obama. "I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too, Jim (Lehrer, PBS newsman and debate moderator). But I'm not going to ... keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it." Then came this tweet from the clipped bird: "My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?"

KEITH BASINSKI: For people in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis, Keith Basinski and his brown UPS truck were a familiar sight. He had worked at the company for 29 years before last week, when he was killed in a workplace shooting. On Thursday, he was laid to rest.

MENINGITIS SCARE: The Minnesota Department of Health estimates that as many as 1,000 patients may have received contaminated steroids that have been implicated in a national meningitis outbreak. Two Twin Cities-based health care groups used steroids from the same product lots that have been linked to the deaths of five patients and 30 illnesses in six states.

TURNING THE PAGE: Slowed by the progression of his ALS, Bruce Kramer left his position as dean of the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling at the University of St. Thomas this morning. Cathy Wurzer caught up with Kramer for her eighth report on his journey with ALS.

JOIN THE DEBATE Election Day is getting closer, and the debate over two proposed amendments to the Minnesota constitution are getting more and more heated. Have something to add? The marriage amendment discussion is here. The voter ID amendment discussion is here.

CRYING FOUL: Two Republican lawmakers say they think DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has gone too far in his criticism of the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment, which is on the November ballot. Sens. Mike Parry of Waseca and Scott Newman of Hutchinson filed a formal complaint Thursday.

FEWER ABORTIONS: Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, according to a new study. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage. The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured.

RASH DEFENSE: If it weren't for a skin rash, two Twin Cities men who traveled to Somalia to join radical insurgents might still be there today. Instead, the young men are cooperating witnesses for the federal government in the trial of a 46-year-old former janitor from Minneapolis.

UNIFORM STANDARDS: Some school districts offer teachers regular reviews of their work while others do not, said Tom Dooher, the president of the state's teachers union, Education Minnesota. But that's about to change. A law passed two years ago will require Minnesota school districts to evaluate all of the state's more than 50,000 public school teachers every year starting in the 2014-15 school year.

IN HIS HANDS: Babatunde Lea likes to tell people that, as a child of an African-American family that loved Afro-Caribbean music in New Jersey, he knew how to dance the mambo and cha-cha-cha before he could walk. "Going to the Apollo," he said, referring to the legendary theater in Harlem, "was at least a monthly occasion for me. I saw everybody." David Cazares interviewed Lea ahead of shows this weekend in the Twin Cities.

COLD ENOUGH FOR YA? Tom Weber is replaying his Daily Circuit interviews with Lonnie Dupree and Ann Bancroft this morning. Mountain climber and arctic explorer Dupre has a new book out called "Life on Ice," which chronicles 25 years of his polar explorations. Fellow Minnesotan and polar explorer Bancroft is getting ready for another expedition in November 2012.

SURPLUS GIVING: Many Minnesota food shelves are stocked this fall with foods they rarely offered two decades ago: squash, peas, watermelon, strawberries. Hunger relief groups have ramped up efforts to put surplus produce on the plates of hungry Minnesotans, and the result is an ever-growing supply of fruits and vegetables from local gardens, farms and food processors. That has some food shelf directors wishing they could make it last into the winter.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Duluth is building bike trails, there's a labor dispute at the Minnesota Orchestra, the Lynx are playing in the WNBA Western Conference Finals and wildfires scorch parts of northwestern Minnesota. Check it out here.

WE'RE ALL SWEDISH NOW: King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden arrived in the Twin Cities on Thursday for a three-day visit. The royals toured the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis and dedicated the institute's new Nelson Cultural Center.

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