Posted at 7:50 AM on July 13, 2009
by Bob Collins
Monday and the 13th? We're going to need some serious Monday Morning Rouser:
Somebody had a nice spot at the Basilica Block Party last weekend. By the way, in the back of my mind, I'm envisioning a News Cut reader-submitted/created Monday Morning Rouser. I don't have the idea well-formed yet, however. Maybe someday.
1) The last time a prominent politician set a definite goal that had a timetable and a measurable standard of success and failure was 50 years ago. So it's appropriate that the John F. Kennedy Library is providing "live virtual coverage" of the Apollo 11 moonshot. It has a desktop app to follow the flight as well as audio. Pretty cool. It is, of course, the 40th anniversary of the moon launch/landing. And we know only as much about Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, as we did then. The Telegraph has a compelling -- if mysterious -- documentary:
Few people truly know Neil Armstrong. He seems a man locked within himself, stubbornly refusing to 'emote' about his voyage to the Moon. He has looked death in the eye on a number of occasions and made little of those encounters. When his two-year-old daughter died from a brain tumour in 1962 he was back at his desk within days of the funeral, burying his grief in work. Other astronauts, notably Buzz Aldrin, his fellow Moonwalker on Apollo 11, have waxed lyrical about their extra-terrestrial adventures, but not Armstrong, the implacably down-to-earth
2) Would you live in a house built of straw -- OK, it's actually hay -- if it cost you only $1.25 a day to heat in the winter? Hay bale houses are coming back in style, the Associated Press says. It's a story from South Dakota.
More energy talk: An Evanston, Ill., engineer and author thinks we should raise the price of gasoline to $20 a gallon. Among other things, he thinks that'll lead to us raising more of our own food. If that were the case, the great "why don't these plants become radishes" quandry at my house would be a disaster, rather than a nuisance.
3) Can video gaming slow the mental decline of the elderly? North Carolina researchers just got a pile of cash to find out.
"I think it is silly for someone to run out and buy a game with the hope that it is going to help them age better. There is no proof that it is going to be effective," says Columbia University neuropsychologist Yaakov Stern, who specializes in cognition in older adults and is conducting a video game study of his own. "We know that cognitive stimulation is good but we don't know what type or the amount."
Another study suggests a couple of drinks can cut the risk of dementia. Future study: The effect of playing World of Warcraft while drunk.
More Monday morning science: Swearing can help you stand pain.
Today is the publication date for Unscientific American, the book that laments our scientific illiteracy (Midmorning did a show on the topic last week). Salon.com has an article today asking why are our kids are flunking science? We'll find out if that's true, by the way, later this week when Minnesota education officials release the math and science test scores.
4) What do you do when you feel helpless to do anything about something? On Thursday, Michael Hillmeyer of Duluth will travel by car with his family to Brooklyn, Mich., to attend his 30-year high school reunion, the Duluth News Tribune says (reg. possibly required). "On Sunday morning, he'll head back on his bike for the nearly 800-mile trip, traveling north to the Mackinac Bridge, across the Upper Peninsula, then down to Duluth." He's raising money to honor his sister, who has breast cancer.
5) The Twins' Joe Mauer is in the All Star Game Home Run Derby this week. Conventional wisdom says the derby is the Bermuda Triangle for baseball players having good seasons. They go into the Derby and don't come back. Is this correct? No, says The Hardball Times. Its study shows participants tend to be players who might've been playing over the head a bit in the first half of the season. Of course, that doesn't explain our guy Joe.
Bonus: I have this theory that any story about an old farm tractor is automatically a good story. Today's example comes from the New Ulm Journal. A group of antique tractor owners is traveled from Lafayette to the Jackpot Junction casino in Morton at 10-12 miles per hour, celebrating their trusty steeds.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What question would you ask Sonia Sotomayor?
MPR NewsQ readers are really smart. Here's one of the submissions so far:
Do you believe that Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad has been correctly interpreted with respect to granting corporations the same rights as natural persons? If you do believe that this case does so, would you be open to overturning it?
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
Related: More federal judges fear for their lives, the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Midday - During the lunch recess, Midday will provide analysis with Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - If it airs, the first hour will have a guest who says if we're upset about health care costs, we should blame ourselves. Second hour: After 30 years in prison, Angel Ramos knew how to survive behind bars. On the outside, he was lost. The segment will focus on adjusting to life after prison.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Laura Yuen will have the latest on the death of two more missing Minneapolis men in Somalia (Here's a timeline of the controversy. It'll be updated later today). MPR's Bob Kelleher has the latest from Cloquet, which is gearing up for a visit from the Hell's Angels, taking their annual national road trip.
What do undocumented immigrants and Rep. Michele Bachmann have in common? Both want to boycott the census. The undocumented immigrants, at the urging of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, see it as the first step in a sweeping immigration reform bill.
NPR will report on the Librarian Book Cart Championships in Chicago.
Here's one of last year's contestants:
There's a documentary coming to Public Television in October that has the ability to change and amplify the debate over special needs in public schools, a debate that is now mostly faceless.
Photojournalist Dan Habib produced the film after his son, Samuel, was born with cerebral palsy. Now he's considering how his son is going to grow up and keep up in public schools.
"What makes inclusion successful? What makes it fail?" he asks.
"Everybody else in life is going to limit him; I can't do it," Samuel's mother says.
Here's a preview:
Related: In its story today about the difficulty young teachers in Minnesota are having getting and keeping jobs in a time of school cutbacks, this lone sentence jumped out:
What's more, with the exception of math, science and special education areas, Minnesota already is overloaded with teachers.
If you have a story to share on the subject, please drop me an e-mail.
Welcome, Judge Sotomayor.
It's a pleasure to see you again today, and I enjoyed the meeting we had in my office a few weeks ago. We had a good conversation - although you did confess to me that when you once visited Minnesota in June, you felt the need to bring a winter parka. I'll try not to hold that against you this week!
I know you have lots of family and friends with you today, supporting you during this important hearing, and we welcome them too. In particular, it's been an honor for me to see your mom here.
When President Obama first announced your nomination, I loved the story about how your mom had saved up money to buy you and your brother the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood. It reminded me of when my parents bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in the seventies that always occupied a hallowed place in our hallway. For me, those encyclopedias were a window on the world and a gateway to learning, as they clearly were for you.
From the time you were nine years old, your mom raised you and your brother on her own. She struggled to buy those encyclopedias on her nurse's salary, but she did it because she believed deeply in the value of education.
You went on to be the valedictorian of your high school class, to graduate at the top of your class in college and to attend law school.
After that - and this is an experience we have in common - you became a local prosecutor. Most of my questions during this hearing will be about opinions you've authored and work you've done in the criminal area. I believe having judges with real world, frontline experience as a prosecutor is a good thing.
Growing up in the '60s in Massachusetts, one of the most frightening summers was spent watching a group of kids (we had no idea who they were; back then your mother turned you loose and you met up with whomever you met up with) play this game in which one would get behind the other, grab them from behind and squeeze their chest until they passed out.
The person would fall to the beach sand and -- perhaps a minute later; maybe less -- come back to life.
Fun times. And my brother and I wanted nothing to do with it. Kids are still playing the game.
Way back then, I was afraid I'd end up like
Dan Macklin Jensen, a 17 year old Wisconsin wrestler who died while playing the game in Fargo on Friday, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
A group formed to stop kids from playing the game produced this presentation for students:
The group says 250 to 1,000 kids die each year playing the game.
A new poll today shows apparent support for legalization of marijuana. Poll: 41 percent support pot legalization (CBS). (Psst: 52 percent still oppose it)
Why the emphasis on the minority? Because the poll has shifted by 10 percent. Just a few months ago, another CBS poll showed only 31 percent favored legalizing marijuana.
But polls on the question tend to vary widely. In May, a Zogby poll claimed 52 percent of Americans favored legalization.
Say whatever you want about President Obama's selections to the cabinet and courts, but you can't deny they often have fascinating personal journeys.
Sonia Sotomayor? No. Regina Benjamin. She has been selected to be the next surgeon general.
When Hurricane George destroyed the clinic in 1998, she made house calls to all her patients while it was rebuilt. When Hurricane Katrina destroyed it again and left most of her town homeless, she mortgaged her house and maxed out her credit cards to rebuild that clinic for a second time. She tended to those who had been wounded in the storm, and when folks needed medicine, she asked the pharmacist to send the bill her way.
And when Regina's clinic was about to open for the third time, and a fire burned it to the ground before it could serve the first patient, well, you can guess what Dr. Benjamin did. With help from her community, she is rebuilding it again. One disabled patient brought her an envelope with $20 inside. Another elderly man said simply, "Maybe I can help. I got a hammer."
She's not it in for the money. There are only 2,500 residents in the town where it's located.
She was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2008:
She has established a family practice that allows her to treat all incoming patients, many of whom are uninsured, and frequently travels by pickup truck to care for the most isolated and immobile in her region. Benjamin is skilled, as well, in translating research on preventive health measures into accessible, community-based interventions to decrease the disease burdens of her diverse patient base, which includes immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, who comprise a third of Bayou La Batre's population. A committed local physician, she also plays key roles statewide and nationally, helping others establish clinics in remote areas of the country and serving in leadership positions in such health-related organizations as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. With a deep, firsthand knowledge of the pressing needs and health disparities afflicting rural, high-poverty communities, Benjamin is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality care.
She had big plans for the money: Expanding the clinic:
She's also the first African American woman to serve on the American Medical Association's board of trustees.
Back in 1995, she was named Person of the Week on the late Peter Jennings' nightly news program.
It's not clear now, however, what happens to the clinic when she leaves town.
(h/t: Chris Worthington)
Here are her remarks today:
"I may not be a lawyer but neither are the overwhelming majority of Americans. Yet all of us, regardless of our backgrounds and professions, have a huge stake in who sits on the Supreme Court," he said, invoking Winona, Duluth, and the Twin Cities in his remarks.Franken turned the tables on Republicans by saying, "I am wary of judicial activism. The judicial branch is supposed to show deep deference to Congress." It's a key Republican point. But then Franken used several Supreme Court decisions applauded by Republicans as examples. "Looking at voter rights, appropriate deference may not have been shown in the past few years and there are ominous signs that judicial activism is on the rise in these areas."
Federal officials are clamming up about the indictment of two men -- one from Brooklyn Park -- on terrorism charges, leading to questions about whether it may have something to do with the disappearance of Somali men in Minneapolis, several of whom have been killed back in their homeland's civil war.
The feds could answer that question with a "yes" or "no," but they didn't.
"He was indicted on one count of material support to terrorism, a count of conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure in a foreign country and two counts of making false statements," said FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson. He said he cannot confirm the indictment has something to do with the missing men.
Here's the indictment. It said two men conspired with each other and others to "kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons outside the United States." It didn't say what persons or where, but noted the two took a Northwest Airlines flight to Amsterdam with a final destination of Somalia.
Stephen Smith, an attorney for an unnamed client, says Maruf tried to recruit his client to fight in Somalia. Smith is advising people who have been questioned about the disappearances by the FBI.
He says Maruf's "status" made it difficult to say "no."
"He was someone who people looked up to, in the sense that he was kind of cool. He sort exuded his own independence. And so, when [my client] is asked this question in such a direct fashion, it's like talking to an older sibling you might look up to. There's no question he wasn't going to participate in it, but how do you say it?"
From the looks of things, it's starting to appear as though no single person is responsible for the disappearances. Over the weekend, the New York Times said the missing men "appear to have been motivated by a complex mix of politics and faith, and their communications show how some are trying to recruit other young Americans to their cause."
Last week, Yuen reported on a November 2007 rally, in which one speaker -- Zakariah Abdi -- exhorts the audience:
"Enlist yourselves. Come to see us in Asmara," Abdi said to the crowd. "Let us get to know each other. We will offer training. Then whoever wants to fight for two months, like the Eritreans used to do, can then go back to school."
How much -- if any -- the speech contributed to the decision of the men to return to Somalia we don't know.
The Times said it analyzed records and Facebook pages and determined that the missing men "seem caught between inner-city America and the badlands of Africa, pining for Starbucks one day, extolling the virtues of camel's milk and Islamic fundamentalism the next."