First, of course, the Monday Morning Rouser, culled from the streets of Minneapolis.
You can find a far more professional version of Buckets and Tap Shoes here.
The lack of transparency in the decisionmaking (sic) process is angering the dealers almost as much as the decisions themselves. Owners are struggling to understand why the businesses they've spent lifetimes building are being targeted during a recession in which profitable small businesses should be celebrated.
The Boston Globe, however, reveals the strategy today, however. Fewer dealers creates less competition. Less competition creates a bigger demand. A bigger demand creates higher car prices.
Remaining dealerships will be able to charge more for cars, analysts say, because fewer dealerships make it harder for buyers to spark bidding wars. And as auto companies scale back factory production, heavy discounts and dealer incentives will dry up.
Consumers will pay $2,000-$6,000 more for cars under the plan. That's the thanks you'll get for bailing them out, apparently.
Meanwhile, opponents of the Chrysler bankruptcy plan have been filing documents challenging the bankruptcy. SCOTUSblog is doing a great job following them.
On the subject, Rae Kruger of the Marshall Independent has a piece in today's paper about the rodeo circuit in these parts.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
I'm in a traveling mood this week. What's happening in your community? Rodeos? Tornadoes? Let me know and I'll go take a look.
Midmorning - First hour: Efforts to reform mortgage-lending practices. Second hour: Author Jane Hamilton.
Midday - First hour: Jobs and the Minnesota economy. Second hour: Former Minnesota GOP Congressman Vin Weber, speaking last week at the U of M Humphrey Institute about President Obama's domestic and national security strategies.
Talk of the Nation - First hour: California is an economic disaster. What does that portend -- if anything -- for the rest of us? Second hour: As HIV is increasingly criminalized, who's really to blame?
All Things Considered - NPR will profile Charles Springle, the Navy commander who was one of five people killed by a U.S. soldier in Baghdad. He'd devoted his career to helping soldiers with mental health issues. Pam Fessler profiles Eric Sheptock, who blogs about the homeless in Washington.(1 Comments)
From the "Blog as Boogeyman" files:
(1) On Midmorning this morning, author Jane Hamilton suggested blogs are making it difficult for the next generation of young writers to be discovered.
"How are the gifted young voices going to rise up through the murk of the blogosphere?" she told Kerri Miller. "How will we find them? It might be harder for them to get established and make a living. There's so much to wade through and publishers might not necessarily be willing to invest in a young person who's finding their way."
However, she said "Good writing will surface and good writers will be able to carry on and we will want to read them."
(2) The New York Times uses the broad brush to lament that blogs aren't about credibility.
But seeking credibility may be a less-important strategy for the blogs at this stage. Mr. Arrington, a lawyer, is quick to point out that he has no journalism training. He is at ease, even high-minded, in explaining the decisions to print unverified rumors.
Mr. Arrington and the other bloggers see this not as rumor-mongering, but as involving the readers in the reporting process. One mission of his site, he said, is to write about the things a few people are talking about, "the scuttlebutt around Silicon Valley." His blog will often make clear that he's passing along a thinly sourced story.
For the record, it was the New York Times -- printed on dead trees -- that went out of its way in the middle of a presidential campaign to suggest the Republican nominee was having an affair while providing no attribution for the very sloppy article.(9 Comments)
This map, showing the availability of broadband in Minnesota, is one of a handful of broadband maps that will be used to figure out how to spend $7 billion in stimulus funds nationwide to improve broadband Internet service. (More maps can be found here)
With so much money at stake, some states are battling over the maps, contending the firm that produced them -- Connected Nation, Inc. -- is overestimating the availability of broadband in some states and has ties that are too close to the telecommunications companies, according to an article last week in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required). Some cable companies worry the stimulus money will be used for municipal broadband systems that will compete with them.
Diane Wells, the manager of the telecommunications division for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, stood by the integrity of the mapping process in a post on the Connect Nation blog.
" As [the Federal Government] develop[s] a plan for mapping broadband availability across the United States, we invite and encourage you to look closely at Minnesota's broadband mapping process. We believe you will find an excellent model for mapping broadband availability in such a way that is transparent, verifiable, continuously updated, and perhaps most importantly, practical and valuable for identifying those unserved and underserved areas of Minnesota," she said.
One upshot of the maps:There's more broadband coverage in Minnesota than I would have imagined. But the map looks different when it's broken down by download speed:
Shades of yellow and green represents download speeds beween 200 kilobytes per second (light yellow) and 6 megabytes per second (green), which isn't much.
Meanwhile, the group Free Press today asked the Federal Communications Commission to increase the amount of competition among broadband providers, suggesting the government should "move past availability" and look instead at speeds that "are too slow and prices that are too high."
Apparently, this is "map day" on News Cut.
Vice President Joe Biden is out with another stimulus update, this time it's called "Roadmap to Recovery," that documents projects that have been funded to date.
The accompanying map -- above -- shows how heavily the Democrats' stimulus plan relies on military spending. They're the green dots. (Update: And, the Justice Department are also green dots. A News Cut reader with better ability to differentiate shades notes the projects may be directed to police departments)(2 Comments)
Have you flown on Delta/Northwest lately and noticed any changes since the Atlanta-based airline took over the formerly Minnesota-based Northwest?
The Cranky Flier blog has. Movies, snacks, lots of changes in scheduled flights, and better service, he says in a post today.
What are your experiences since Delta took over?
(Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)(6 Comments)
Two -- technically unrelated -- news stories this week have got us wondering what's wrong with this picture?
(1) The Treasury Department this week is going to announce which banks will be allowed to repay bailout money. The New York Post reports the banks shedding the "TARP" funds include Goldman, JPMorgan, American Express Co, Morgan Stanley, State Street Corp and U.S. Bancorp.
One goal of TARP -- Troubled Asset Relief Program -- is to encourage banks to resume lending to businesses and to each other, thereby getting the economy humming again.
So if the banks are repaying the Treasury Department, they must be loosening credit, right? Let's shift to #2.
(2) In Pipestone, as I wrote this morning, 160 people will be out of work by September because the India-based windmill manufacturer, Suzlon, can't get credit, according to MPR's Mark Steil, who writes:
Renewable energy consultant Martin Pasqualini with CP Energy Group says money is tight throughout the wind industry. He says some of the biggest financial backers of the wind energy industry were also some of the biggest firms to collapse in the credit crisis.
"Lehman had been a tax equity investor. AIG had an ambitious program in place to do large scale investing when they virtually came unwound. We also effectively lost Wachovia," says Pasqualini.
Wachovia struggled and was eventually purchased by Wells Fargo. The financial sectors problems meant plans for many wind farms were shelved. Pasqualini says he excepts construction this year of new wind turbines to fall significantly.
The "other side" of the story:
The layoffs are said to be "devastating" to Pipestone, but the Worthington Daily Globe says it depends on who loses their jobs.
Though Suzlon's manufacturing facility is in Pipestone, the company has also been busing in employees from Sioux Falls, S.D., Worthington, and other area cities.
The impact on Pipestone would be smaller if most of the workers who lost positions came from other cities -- though the impact on southwest Minnesota and the tri-state area would be the same.
That the company had to bus in workers from outside the area suggests a shortage of a trained workforce in Pipestone. And, indeed, the unemployment rate in the county in April -- the latest month for which data is available -- is far below the national and state rate.
Still, the windmill manufacturer's credit woes, and the banks' desire to give the money back to the federal government, makes one wonder whether TARP has really served its purpose?
MPR's Midmorning will attempt to answer that question on Wednesday morning at 9.(3 Comments)