Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post wrote an odd headline on the speech. "US president defends Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy." Slate Magazine riffs on that theme, too, with "Obama the underminer."
Midmorning tackles the speech and the Middle East in its first hour at 9.
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
I'm off today (I can't start a day without News Cut, though. How about you?). In honor of my youngest son's 21st birthday, we're heading to the Twins-Indians day game at the Metrodome. Julia Schrenkler (and hopefully others) will be your host here today.
Midmorning - Obama's speech in the first hour. Then a short segment on the D-Day anniversary, which gives me a reason to plop this video in that I took yesterday at South St. Paul Airport. The Commemorative Air Force's B-25 going for a morning stroll:
At 10, a tale of two wars, with the author of "War of Necessity, War of Choice."
Midday - Carleton College international relations professor Roy Grow joins us from Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in China. In the second hour, a replay of the Obama speech in Cairo.
Talk of the Nation - The Obama speech in the first hour. Second hour: Russell Peters, a comic of Anglo-Indian descent, he skewers several nationalites in his act. Like this: (Strong language warning!)
All Things Considered - Chris Roberts has the latest Art Hounds. Tom Robertson reports on the search for manganese in Emily, Minn. And we'll talk to St. Paul residents at ground zero of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation.
NPR continues its excellent Rethinking Retirement series with a look at how a collapsing pension fund has affected one family.(5 Comments)
Posted at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2009
by Julia Schrenkler
Marketplace economics correspondent Chris Farrell blogged that personal bankruptcies are up in the same month News Cut noted consumer confidence was reported at a recent high. Turns out in May 2009 there were more than 120,000 bankruptcy filings. (Automated Access to Court Electronic Records ("AACER") via Bob Lawless) In his blog, Farrell went beyond the numbers and revisited a 2006 conclusion:
"Bankruptcy has long been the last legal option for anyone burdened with too much debt. But bankruptcy has always raised questions that go far beyond money. For society, the struggle is finding the right balance between honoring debts and a fresh start."Considering the recent study that links bankruptcies to a spike in medical bills (and reportedly most cases had health insurance) I had to wonder if this isn't filed in the fresh start category...and then I wondered just how fresh is a fresh start. Public Insight Analyst Michael Caputo documented one man's story:
"[Tom] Cole, of Hopkins, a former Green Beret, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004. He had no health insurance due to a divorce - it was his wife who had the job with benefits. He estimated paying more than $40,000 in out-of-pocket costs for treatment. The medical bills devoured his retirement and personal savings.Did you get a fresh start? What waits for people post-bankruptcy? What should - or shouldn't - be part of the bankruptcy experience? (2 Comments)
That put him right on the edge financially. 'It was a snowball effect,' said Cole, a source in MPR's Public Insight Network. It became hard to work as a personal care assistant. He still carried a mortgage. He desperately didn't want to lose his St. Louis Park house. He took odd jobs. He took in boarders - including two convicted sex offenders who had served their time.
'I had a heart for these guys,' said Cole, who described them as low-level offenders. 'And I could get a little something out of the deal to keep in the house.' This side of Cole's tale was conveyed to our Public Insight Network two years ago and was featured on the national program - The Story.
But by 2007, it wasn't working. So he filed for bankruptcy protection.
'None of this would have happened if it weren't for the medical stuff,' Cole said. The study found, as [MPR Reporter Lorna] Benson put it, that most people bankrupted by illness were middle class. Many of them still had insurance. Cole falls into the subset of folks without an insurance plan.
Cole said it wasn't just the medical costs that became a problem. As his physical condition made it harder to work, he used credit cards to pay some other bills. Soon it became harder to pay them off. Cole said once one credit card company requested a much larger payback, others followed suit.
By late 2008, he lost a long time client for his personal care services and, because of his weakened state and his age (near 60), he wasn't being placed with a new client. He found himself without his main source of income. He tried to refinance his home. The bank said no, which didn't surprise him given the economic meltdown and his poor financial prospects.
Cole quickly recites the date he decided to give up on the house and go into foreclosure - February 17, 2009. Cole still makes some money taking in unwanted dogs from shelters who will give him a payment for the care. He's doing that from an apartment.
And Cole has applied for public assistance, a circumstance he tried hard to avoid.
'You got to look beyond your pride at some point,' he said."
Posted at 12:47 PM on June 4, 2009
by Ken Paulman
The Minnesota Zoo has an online quiz where you can test your knowledge of ... poop.
I have nothing else to say.(2 Comments)
Posted at 2:21 PM on June 4, 2009
by Julia Schrenkler
Walking through south Minneapolis, I spotted an odd and very purple structure suspended in a tree:
According to the sign, it is an emerald ash borer trap. Mike Schommer, Communications Director of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, played Q&A with me about the traps. He used to have one on display in his office, but it's since been deployed to the front lines.
How many traps have been set in Minnesota, and where?[This map from the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture site indicates that two Wisconsin counties are marked as a Federal quarantine; Minnesota's Houston County is under a state quarantine. According to the quarantine notification document (.pdf) a parallel federal quarantine is likely.]
Schommer: I don't have a number for you, but they try to set them up in a grid pattern around the state, especially where you're likely to find an infestation. The areas typically are where there's a lot of human activity, the reason for that is that emerald ash borer often moves new areas when people transport infested material, like firewood.
So you know, a lot of people thought if the emerald ash borer arrived in Minnesota it would be the south eastern part of the state, because it was the closest known infestation - in a town called Victory, Wisconsin. Obviously we're still concerned about that infestation moving across the river into Minnesota.
We also have state quarantines in Hennepin / Ramsay because of the find in Saint Paul. You cannot move potentially infested materials in those counties.
Can you describe how the traps work?6 Comments)
Schommer: The idea is there's a chemical lure that attracts adult ash borers, and the trap is coated with a sticky material so that when the adults show up and land on the trap, they're stuck. Workers come by at the end of the season - typically September, when the adults have finished flying - to take the traps down and look for any adult emerald ash borers.
These traps are hung in trees typically, ideally in ash trees. You try and concentrate the traps, as I said earlier, in areas that you'd likely find infestation.
How important is public visibility for a pest field survey?
Schommer: Well certainly the visibility doesn't hurt. A big part of fighting the emerald ash borer is getting the word out to people about how they can help avoid accidental spread.
We closed the discussion by talking about reach. Schommer stated that the DNR says threre are 937 million ash trees in the state. This is the second year Minnesota set out the purple traps. This year they increased from 350 traps between 1,500 and 2,000.