1) It's been a year since the Republican National Convention, so Minneapolis - St. Paul have been navel gazing this week. Yesterday Jess Mador looked at the cases that still haven't been settled by the courts. Today, MPR's Tim Nelson has the story of the organizers claiming the convention was a better-than-expected economic boon to the cities. Hard to believe? Boy, howdy! The picture above was taken at noon one year ago in downtown Minneapolis. It was an indication that retail, at least, wasn't going to get much business. The report even pats itself on the back for Civicfest, a business disaster that was supposed to draw tens of thousands of locals. It didn't happen.
Much of the national media blew town at the start of the convention to go cover a hurricane, and most people (i.e. media) who were at both Denver (where the Democratic National Convention was held) and the Twin Cities, gave the Colorado location the nod.
Denver is also navel gazing this week. A report commissioned by that city is claiming only about half the economic impact on the hotel industry ($15m vs. $28.7m). But it claimed an economic impact more than twice what Minneapolis and St. Paul are claiming. But there's skepticism, too, about the claims that since there's no definitive math at work, the "unmeasurable" benefit must be positive.
In both cases, the reports come from the people who most benefit from a glowing report card. But a 2005 impact on political conventions from Holy Cross had an entirely different conclusion:
The presence of the Republican or the Democratic National Convention has no discernable impact on employment, personal income, or personal income per capita in the cities where the events were held confirming the results of other ex post analyses of mega-events.
Quick! Where was the Super Bowl held last year?
2) We have our first student protest of the new school year. In Mankato, a few dozen students are protesting problems with their financial aid at Minnesota State University, the Free Press reports today. Nearly half the students in the College Access Program, targeted to students that usually don't make it to college, didn't submit paperwork for an audit of their financial aid. "There's 34 of us that might be going home tonight," student Vanessa Chandler said. The students also protested moving the program from the Office of Institutional Diversity to the College of Education.
Related: How bad do you want an education, kids? As bad as Mike Mallah? Mike's parents lost two homes to war - first in Palestine and later Kuwait during the Gulf War. They settled in the United States and began to see a brighter future when they opened a neighborhood convenience store. Then Mike's father, Mohammed, was shot and killed in a robbing. His story is on American Public Media's The Story.
3) Is Joe Mauer the most valuable player in fantasy baseball? The Hardball Times today analyzes the kid from St. Paul, who hit his 26th home run last night. "Any people involved in fantasy baseball tend to dismiss catchers the way that people involved in fantasy football dismiss kickers. But to see a player outperform his positional peers to this degree demands notice," it says.
By the way, the Twins' rival, the White Sox, tossed the white flag after last night's loss to the Twins, trading Jim Thome to the Dodgers. The season won't be as much fun without that rivalry.
4) Another source of renewable energy? Watermelon. Researchers fermented watermelon juice to produce ethanol, according to a study. Of course, we hear a lot about biofuels and all the options available as an alternative to corn-based ethanol. So last evening's Marketplace segment on the future of ethanol considered biofuels alternatives like switchgrass was worth paying attention to. This was the money quote Mark Beemer, the CEO of Alternative Energy Sources in Kansas City:
When you compare that to the corn industry, where Monsanto, SynGenta, Pioneer are investing $1 billion in corn genetics to increase yields, it's almost laughable that everyone wants to talk about switchgrass.
The subject of watermelons never came up.
5) A followup to yesterday's 5@8 on Republican chances for taking control of the Minnesota House. Eric Ostermeier at the Smart Politics blog breaks down the districts that aren't in play. The strongest DFL district in the state, he says, is Rep. Karen Clark's in Minneapolis. The strongest GOP seat is Rep. Steve Smith's in Plymouth.
Bonus: - The Uneasy Congo. Photographer Dominic Nahr has slept in churches in Congo for safety while photographing refugees fleeing their own homes. He's just 25.
A new NASA mission is searching for earthlike planets, and some scientists think the mission will reveal important clues about the potential for advanced civilizations. How likely is it that aliens exist somewhere in the universe?
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
I'll have another installment in The Unemployed series by early afternoon.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Political update. Opposing viewpoints on health care changes are hitting the road to rally people to their respective causes. Congress soon returns to work on health care bills and the other issues in front of them, such as climate change legislation.
Second hour: Scientists search for life beyond Earth
By the way, here's video of yesterday's appearance by Ben Vereen:
Midday (11 a.m. -1 p.m.) - First hour: St. Johns University historian Nick Hayes discusses the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.
Second hour: "World War II On the Air," a documentary about Edward R. Murrow's radio broadcasts during World War II.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Former Homeland Security boss Tom Ridge suggests in his new book that Bush administration officials pressured him to raise the terrorist threat level for political reasons. Over the weekend, he appeared to back off the assertion. Which is it? He's the first-hour guest.
Second hour: An update on California wildfires and a look at a day in the life of a firefighter. Outstanding coverage is being provided by our sister-station, KPCC in Pasadena.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Bob Kelleher reports the beloved Duluth landmark and observation point, the Enger tower. is being closed for renovations.
Is wind along -- and on -- Lake Superior a viable renewable energy? Stephanie Hemphill looks at the question.
From NPR, is high-speed rail getting any love in the South? And a story from upstate New York, where the health care issue is said to be dominating the New York State Fair.(2 Comments)
At Arlington National Cemetery this week, Marine Sgt. William Cahir got what Cpl. Ben Kopp of Rosemount couldn't get: A horse-drawn caisson to take him to his final resting place.
Perhaps you recall the controversy caused when Kopp's family was told they'd have to wait about three months for a full military funeral with caisson. There is a shortage of them at Arlington and the demand for them is too high. The Kopp family was told they'd have to wait until October to have a funeral, according to Stars and Stripes. Kopp's mother called it "a slap in the face."
Kopp was killed in Afghanistan in mid-July. Cahir was killed about two weeks ago, also in Afghanistan. Why was Cahir's family able to get a caisson two weeks after he was killed, while Kopp's family was told to wait three months? E-mail and phone calls to Arlington National Cemetery officials have not yet been returned.
Cahir was a high-profile hero. He was a former Washington-based reporter, ran for Congress, and was once an aide to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. The Washington Post said he "was no ordinary enlisted man." He gave up a lot to go off to war. Journalists and politicians attended his funeral.
No less a hero, Ben Kopp probably fits the model of an enlisted man. A hard-working kid in high school, who loved football, and had -- according to his friends -- a great sense of right and wrong.
A New York Post article on the Kopp controversy last month said, " Some have accused Arlington of playing favorites and allowing others to jump ahead of the line. Last month, retired Maj. Gen. David Wherley and his wife were buried in Arlington -- complete with an F-16 jet flyover -- a week after they died in June's DC commuter train crash."
Update 8:03 p.m. David Foster, public affairs spokesman for Arlington National Cemetery sent this explanation:
Arlington National Ceremony works in conjunction with the Military District of Washington National Capitol Region. ANC verifies eligibility requirements and performs burial services. MDWNCR provides the personnel from the respective military service for body bearers, firing party, caisson, etc.
There are on average 27-30 burials performed each weekday at ANC. At the time of the burial service of CPL Kopp the cemetery was performing burials at 9 and 11 am, and at 1 and 3 pm. The Kopp family's concern and accounting of the delay is justified and one in which the Army agreed with and worked to solve. Our nation's fallen deserve the most timely, respectful burial we can provide. ANC and MDW reviewed the resources available and added a 3:45 time to the aforementioned schedule so SGT Cahir's service could take place in a more timely manner. We will continue to do our very best to meet the desires of families of our nation's fallen and sincerely appreciate their sacrifice.
Here are a couple of new links you may be interested in for coverage of the California wildfires.
KTLA is providing an occasional live online feed from its news helicopter. The feed is occasionally difficult to access (presumably because of bandwidth) but is impressive and unfiltered.
Sky and Telescope Magazine is providing a live blog of efforts to save the famed Mt. Wilson Observatory.(1 Comments)