A CNN host just asked a guest, "does the U.S. have too much of a bunker mentality since 9/11?" It's a loaded question without an insightful answer because we don't know -- absent proof -- what constitutes "too much."
But that question led me to think about another one: What if 9/11 hadn't happened? What would your life be like today if it had never happened?
Update 9:49 a.m. Rasmussen: 54% says we've changed for the worse since 9/11
The Anchorage Daily News (raise your hand if you had the Anchorage Daily News in your RSS reader before Sarah Palin joined the ticket!) reports today on the Democratic version of their "truth squad," which in this case is called the "Alaska Mythbusters."
Most of the stuff in a teleconference has been well worked over except, the paper says, this one: that rape victims in the town in which Palin was mayor, had to pay for their forensic tests:
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.
"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said
It's not just Alaska. Last winter, the Raleigh News & Observer in North Carolina uncovered a similar policy on a statewide basis.
The vast majority of the 3,000 or so emergency room patients examined for sexual assaults each year shoulder some of the cost of a rape kit test, according to state records and victim advocates. For some, it's as little as a $50 insurance co-payment. For those without insurance, it's hundreds of dollars left when a state program designed to help reaches its limit.
Apparently, the practice is more common than most people think.
said Ilse Knecht, deputy director of public policy at the National Center for Victims of Crime in an interview with U.S. News & World Report. "We've heard so many stories of victims paying for their exams, or not being able to and then creditors coming after them."
"The bottom line is these services cost money," Rebecca Andrews, a hospital's vice president of finance told the paper. "We do sometimes forgive. It's case by case. But where do you stop? We treat gunshot wounds, stabbings, abused children. No one asked for that to happen."
According to Knecht, under the Violence Against Women Act, local governments have to pay the full costs of the rape kits. But some victims are still being charged anyway.
According to Knecht, reports from the field indicated recently that caseworkers in Georgia, Arkansas, and -- wait for it -- Illinois are running into the same policy as the one in Wasilla. According to a 2004 summary by the group, in Illinois, Obama's state, there is "no charge to a victim who is ineligible for services under Illinois Public Aid Code and who has no insurance."
Minnesota takes a direct route on the issue: Victims don't pay and don't have to mess with insurance companies. Period. In Minnesota, the county in which the alleged rape occurred is responsible for paying for the rape kits. The victim is not billed.
Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Network is a conduit for you to share your expertise and thoughts on news stories before they become news stories.
By way of my colleague, Michael Caputo, here's one story they're working on now:
What happens when you ask Minnesotans to weigh in on an issue like the reopening of the I-35W Bridge? You get some pretty good stories.(2 Comments)
For a few years now, Minnesota Public Radio news has gone out to hundreds of you and your neighbors, asking for help to report and understand issues in the news. It's called our Public Insight Network. And, by the good graces of Mr. Collins, we're going to let NewsCut followers in on the questions and some of the early answers.
We're asking a fairly straight-forward series of questions around the opening of the new bridge: How did you use the span before it collapsed... and how might you use it now? We're also trying to find out if alternate routes (or means of travel) during the construction of the new bridge have become permanent.
Add your two cents by clicking here for a short survey.
Some in the Public Insight Network have already weighed in - and it's hardly a surprise that many plan on resuming use of I-35W when the bridge opens. Others who used the bridge before the collapse say they will pass on it now, like a Roseville law professor who will stick to her new bus routine.
Others are uneasy about the span. A Minneapolis man said he'll use the new bridge only after it's been in use for "at least a week to a month." A Minneapolis woman who was a first responder to the tragedy said she's not sure if she'll drive across it. "I cringe each time I see the work trucks on it," she told us.
Then you have your unique views. A commuter by bike and one who prefers strolling to work say they look forward to safer, saner car-less commutes as the new span reduces traffic on other roadways. Then there is a man who said he was initially inconvenienced by the detours... until he started to learn about the Twin Cities during his travels on alternate city roads. "It expanded my personal map of the Twin Cities," he said.
So what's your take? Let us know. Fill out the form and join the conversation in the comments section below.
A commentary in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader this week makes an interesting point on the infrastructure required for wind energy:
Wind power has, among other faults, two major drawbacks: Most wind power will be generated in the middle of the country although most of the power is needed in the more densely populated areas near the coasts. This requires long transmission lines. Engineers tell us that normal transmission lines of 138 kilovolts or 345 kV lose 10 to 15 percent of their wattage over 1,000 miles. Therefore, a completely new and very expensive system of 765 kV transmission lines that will not lose power over long distances will be needed.
There's that. And then there's this: Wind energy is a spectacular blight on America's landscape. I noticed this most recently while flying into Denver a few weeks ago. Colorado has a lot of windmills.
So does Minnesota and, as the blog, Perfect Duluth Day found recently, so does Iowa.
A short distance over the state line, we saw windmills in the distance. They were far away but could be seen clearly. You could tell they were enormous. Scary big.
I kept saying things like, "They're freaking me out!" and "Those are so scary!" Of course, I said, too, "Those make a lot more sense than digging up coal to burn it," but mostly, I was freaked out.
Perhaps we headed down this road with our reliance on cellphones. There are few scenic vistas left that don't include a tower. And, let's face it, we city slickers don't much care about what's out on the prairie until we actually go there. But is there any way to utilize wind and still have an America that's beautiful?(15 Comments)
Do they still sell candy cigarettes? When I was a kid, we'd ride our bikes down to the co-op store and plunk down a nickel and we'd get horrible tasting candy cigarettes, with a little swipe of red on the end (I guess that was the ash). Then we'd stand out on steps and pretend we were smoking because it's what made us look cool. It was only when we didn't get dates for the prom years later that we realized that it'd take more than candy cigarettes. And, by then too, we learned more about what smoking can do to you.
Still, even fairly recently, kids started smoking, partly because they thought it made them look cool.
But what's happened here?
A new Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota survey finds a big drop in the number of young adults smoking in Minnesota. And it's not just this state; other states are reporting similar findings over the last few years. The research shows the state's 75 cent a pack "health impact fee" introduced in 2005 played a role in curbing smoking as did smoke-free policies on campuses and other public places.
MPR's Paul Tosto wants to hear from you if you've tried to quit.
"We've heard already from several folks in our Public Insight Network," Paul says. "One young woman told us she quit when she got pregnant and the 'increasing lack of social tolerance for smoking,' together with the memory of how hard it was to quit, kept her from going back. Smoking 'was an almost instant passport into a social group anywhere you went' when she started in 1997 but by 2007 when she quit for good most people looked down on it.
"A 24-year-old tells us that smoking was not even an option for her growing up. 'No one did it at home and I was too involved in activities like sports to get involved in smoking.'"(7 Comments)
Last March, I wrote in this space about the abundance of pharmaceuticals found in the source water for drinking supplies. A study out today updates the situation: It's worse than we thought.
The AP reports:
Chicago, for example, found a cholesterol medication and a nicotine derivative. Many cities found the anti-convulsant carbamazepine. Officials in one of those communities, Colorado Springs, say they detected five pharmaceuticals in all, including a tranquilizer and a hormone.
"This is obviously an emerging issue and after the AP stories came out we felt it was the responsible thing for us to do, as a utility, to find out where we stand. We believe that at these levels, based on current science, that the water is completely safe for our customers," said Colorado Springs spokesman Steve Berry. "We don't want to create unnecessary alarm, but at the same time we have a responsibility as a municipal utility to communicate with our customers and let them know."
Fargo found small amounts but they were so small the water director sent them to the health director to figure out how to interpret the results.(3 Comments)