Posted at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2008
by Bob Collins
The assistant attorney general who talked to MPR's Tim Pugmire last week about problems in the office of Attorney General Lori Swanson has been placed on administrative leave.
According to Eric Black at MinnPost, to whom Ann Lawler also spoke, the letter of discipline called Lawler out by demanding proof of ethical lapses by Swanson, as she charges.
Lawler was one of three assistant attorneys general trying to organize into a union. Lawler said she and her colleagues believe a union would protect them if they speak out about workplace problems.
Posted at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2008
by Bob Collins
The U.S. is back in space after the shuttle Endeavour lifted off this morning. We children of the '60s have become pretty comfortable with the notion that the U.S. has always been the leader in space, but the reality appears to be that we're about to play second-fiddle to Europe, or so the Europeans tell us.
The space shuttle program, ends in 2010 and NASA has already told contractors that thousands of jobs will end around then.
The U.S. has invested about $100 billion in the International Space Station and in a few years will have no way for our own astronauts to get there other than asking for a ride from the Russians or Europeans.
Space officials have tried over the years to explain the benefits of the space program with dwindling amounts of success, especially as the economy sours. And even the "gee whiz" factor of staring back in time is losing its luster. Today, for example, the BBC carries details of a NASA effort to map the leftover light from the Big Bang.
While it has a high "cool" factor, the answer to the generational question of "how does this make any difference in the here and now?" is less clear.
(Note: I'm taking the day off today so posts will be more sporadic than usual.)
Posted at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2008
by Bob Collins
A new study finds one of every 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. And nearly half of all African American teen girls has an STD.
The most common is the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Dr. John Douglas of the CDC said the study, based on data from 2003-04, probably is indicative of current rates of infection. And the CDC's Dr. Kevin Fenton said "screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities."
That's not likely to happen in Minnesota, where last year a bill to mandate vaccinations against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, was criticized so roundly that by the end of the session, even its sponsor was walking away from it. Opponents said vaccinating girls sends a message that it's OK to have sex. And the state's Health Department recommended against the vaccination mandate last month, although it said it would revisit the issue in three years.
There's one other element to today's survey. If 25% of America's teen girls have a STD, at least that many have had sex. Yet, a 2006 ABC survey -- highly publicized at the time -- said only 19 percent of all teens surveyed say they've had intercourse. And that number includes both boys and girls, of course. Adding to the confusion is the fact various teens have different definitions of what constitutes "having sex," and it's possible with some STDs to spread them without intercourse.
Still, though the data used in each survey is from different years, it's close enough to wonder if one of them is significantly wrong and, if so, which one?