1) A story to think about the next time you see one of those "Stop Snitchin'" signs in Minneapolis. In Chicago, home to the YouTube-enabled beating death of a young man, residents of neighborhoods are trying "positive loitering."
Although their numbers may be small -- there are nearly 20 men and women on this night -- the residents hope their impact is felt. Their mission, they say, is to restore order to Uptown, at least for one night of the week. The early response is promising, no matter how fleeting.
"The second they see us coming, we see them scatter. They go into their buildings, or they go down into alleys," said Uptown resident Michael Garzel. "Even on 45-degree evenings with rain, we'll still be out there because we see it working."
(h/t: Nick Young)
Meanwhile, all eyes are on you, Mankato. Somebody stole a trike belonging to a developmentally disabled seven-year-old-girl who rides it for therapy.
2) Generational warfare, anyone?
The continuing bailouts are penalizing prudent savers to the benefit of the inprudent, says Allan Sloan in today's Washington Post (reg. required):
Wall Street will be chowing down on essentially free money, while fixed-income people living off their investments will have to eat into their capital, take more risk or reduce their standard of living. A nice reward from their government for a lifetime of saving. Thanks for nothing, guys.
"Fixed-income people," of course, is nicey nice -- mostly -- for "old people," or, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Cynthia Tucker said on Monday's Talk of the Nation, "The Greediest Generation."
Well, that was a rather provocative line I used because I was trying to make a point that Federal spending has increased so much on seniors that they are, compared to children especially, relatively well-off, particularly, when you consider their health care. I actually started thinking about this a lot over the summer when there was so much controversy over health care reform, and seniors are the group most likely to be opposed to President Obama's health care reform plans, although, interestingly enough, they are the people who receive government-backed insurance.
And, as I was watching this debate, and then most recently with the announcement that the president wants Congress to give seniors $250 tax because they won't get a cost of living adjustment from Social Security, I thought, well, wait a minute. Why is the federal government spending so much time pandering to seniors? I certainly know that there are some seniors who were strapped, but there are many more people in other age groups who were strapped.
3) Meanwhile, from the youth-is-wasted-on-the-young file: competitive trampolining.
4) According to the blog, Smart Politics, Rep. Tim Walz has the highest percentage of campaign contributions coming from within the state. Rep. Keith Ellison has the lowest percentage. The blog, however, says Rep. Michele Bachmann has the most "grassrootsy" of the grassroots support. The state that donates the most money to Minnesota's congressional delegation is California, and Ellison raises almost twice as much from there as from Minnesota. Expect a GOP press release criticizing the "Minnesota congressman from California."
What all of this means... who knows?
5) Farewell, Vic Mizzy.
Recent changes to traffic flow on Hennepin and First Avenues in downtown Minneapolis have also moved bike lanes close to the curb. Planners hope a parking lane that separates bicycles from traffic will offer bikers some protection. What change would be most effective in helping cars and bikes share the road?
That reminds me: Remember this video I made on that bike-to-work day?
I vowed to try to ride to work once per week through the summer. Now that the biking season -- for normal people -- is about over, how'd that turn out? Not so good. I biked to work only one other time all summer.
WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Richard Dawkins has a new book that lists the evidence that the theory of evolution explains how life on Earth came to be.
Second hour: Author Sherman Alexie reflects on moving off the reservation.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Steven Simon, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses both the war in Afghanistan and the debate over what the U.S. should do next in the region.
Second hour: An America Abroad documentary explores the history and future of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. The program is called, "From NAFTA to Narcotics: The Cross-Border Economy."
Talk of the Nation (1 - 3 p.m.) - First hour: How does health insurance really work? "This American Life" and the "Planet Money" team join guest host Ari Shapiro.
Second hour: Hoaxes and why we believe them. When NPR joins in the trivia as news, it's hopeless.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Mark Zdechlik has the view from the state's workforce centers, which are seeing demand soar as much as 55 percent compared to last year even as the official jobless rate falls.
NPR looks at the group that's behind the bombing in Iran over the weekend that killed high-ranking officials of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. For the record, I may be the only journalist in America who doesn't reflexively put "elite" in front of Revolutionary Guard.
Lynn Neary looks at the book price war that Target has just joined. Author Kate DiCamillo is on with Melissa Block, talking about her new book, "The Magician's Elephant."
And Daniel Zwerdling notes that 20 percent of U.S. airliners are now maintained at facilities overseas, and he's got troubling stories about that.
Every now and again -- too often, actually -- we get an entry for the "what were they thinking?" file.
Students at Red Wing High School provided a recent entry when they held an unsanctioned activity during homecoming week -- Wangster Day. "Students dressed as gansters and rappers in a way that some students felt mocked black students and emphasized racial stereotypes," the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.
Two weeks ago, African American parents asked the school board to send messages home to parents noting the district's policy against events such as "Wangster Day."
Last night the board declined to take that action. "We have faith in our young people," Red Wing Superintendent Stan Slessor said.
Some students have formed a group called Togetherness and Awareness Makes Greatness or TAG, which will tackle racial issues at the school. The school's senior class president says a diversity club at the school failed in its job before falling apart a few years ago.(2 Comments)
President Barack Obama today gave the Presidential Unit Citation, which has only been awarded about 100 times since World War II, to Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, the legendary Blackhorse Regiment in Vietnam.
It was March 1970, deep in the jungles of Vietnam. And through the static and crackle of their radios Alpha Troop heard that another unit was in trouble. Charlie Company, from the 1st Calvary Division, had stumbled upon a massive underground bunker of North Vietnamese troops. A hundred Americans were facing some 400 enemy fighters. Outnumbered and outgunned, Charlie Company was at risk of being overrun.
That's when Alpha Troop's captain gave the order: "Saddle up and move out."
As these men will tell you themselves, this isn't the story of a battle that changed the course of a war. It never had a name, like Tet or Hue or Khe Sanh. It never made the papers back home. But like countless battles, known and unknown, it is a proud chapter in the story of the American soldier.
Obama delivered a stirring account of what Alpha Troop went through to rescue Charlie Company, using tanks to plow through the jungle and into the arms of a North Vietnamese battallion. But the account was nowhere near as stirring as Alpha Company's commander, John Poindexter, gave during a leadership seminar the Army held almost 10 years ago.
At this late hour, saddled with the Charlie Company injured, we could follow only one course of action: an assault directly into the center of the enemy bunker complex. There was no daylight remaining for a careful probe around the exterior of the enemy configuration for the weak element. No time to execute an attack on more than one axis and, without our sister units from the 1st Squadron, no opportunity to envelop the NVA battalion and eradicate it entirely. Just a brutal, unoriginal shot straight ahead, which the enemy commander would expect. And we probably were outnumbered two to one.
Why the honor now? Almost 40 years later? According to the Washington Post, Poindexter, now a Houston businessman, realized many of his men had gone unrecognized. He filed the required documents for today's award. (Listen to an interview with Poindexter via the New York Times)(1 Comments)
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's reaction to a Star Tribune story on TVs for sex offenders confirms the reality of Minnesota's "treatment program" for sex offenders -- it's really just a jail for people who haven't been charged or convicted of crimes they might commit in the future.
"They don't need 50-inch, flat-screen plasma televisions for sex offenders," Pawlenty said today of the $1,576 TVs in the Moose Lake facility."Clearly, somebody just made a bonehead decision, and I'm going to reverse it."
The reversal comes over the objection of some of the staff at the facility who say there is a clinical benefit to the TVs. Indeed, the Associated Press refers to the people housed in the facility as "patients," not inmates.
"Patients" in Minnesota's sex offender "treatment" program have already served their jail time. They're housed under the guise of being in treatment, even though experts say there is no evidence that there's a treatment for sex offenders, and nobody who was committed under state law has ever come out of the program.
Dennis Linehan came closest. In 1965, Linehan kidnapped, raped, and killed a Minnesota teenager, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, escaped and was captured after sexually molesting a 12-year-old in Michigan. When he was scheduled for supervised release in 1994, then Gov. Arne Carlson ordered him held until he could get the Legislature to enact the Sexually Dangerous Persons Law, which allows Minnesota to lock up people who haven't been charged, under the theory -- upheld by the courts -- that the rights of the public outweigh the rights of the individual.
The Moose Lake "treatment" facility is, in fact, a wing of a prison. Whether the "patients" are pampered -- as suggested by the Star Tribune's TV story -- is a matter of some dispute, especially considering a complaint from the ACLU earlier this year:
* Detainees are subjected to strip searches and are handcuffed and shackled as part of standard operating procedure whenever detainees are transported (for example, to attend patient advisory committee meetings at the MSOP facility) and after contact visits in violation of their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
* Detainees' incoming legal mail has, on numerous occasions, been opened outside the presence of the detainee in violation of their Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
* Detainees allege that they are not allowed incoming calls and that their calls are monitored in violation of their First Amendment right to telephone access.
* Detainees are denied their right to Procedural Due Process by being deprived of their access to freely move around the Annex without escorts, and, consequently, access to the privileges afforded to all other civilly committed detainees including daily access to the gym, access to library services, the ability to communicate with other Annex detainees, and free access to outside activities. The conditions imposed on Detainees are similar to what the Minnesota Department of Corrections imposes on inmates who are in Administrative Segregation. Inmates in A-Seg are entitled to procedural due process before being housed in that restrictive setting.
* Detainees are subjected to potentially severe health risks due to inadequate sanitation in violation of their Eighth Amendment rights includinng:
1. Communal showers and bathrooms are only cleaned once a day;
2. Urine and fecal matter are frequently found on the bathroom floor or toilet seats;
3. No sanitizer is readily available to disinfect the floors and toilet seats;
4. Dining room tables are not adequately sanitized prior to serving each meal;
5. Mops and brooms used to clean the bathrooms and showers are also used to clean cells, thereby spreading germs to their cells;
6. Towels, blankets and cleaning rags are washed in one unit washer and the water does not reach a temperature needed to properly sanitize them.
* Detainees who had purchased 20 inch televisions at the Annex had their property seized and were forced to send them out of the facility at their own expense to comply with a MNDOC rule allowing only 13 inch clear televisions on the Moose Lake prison property.
* MSOP retaliated against two of the plaintiffs (Beaulieu and Yazzie) for their participation in litigation challenging their access to religious activities while civilly committed to the MSOP. The retaliation took the form of a reduction in their access to religious services, attorneys, the court and visitation by family; unreasonable restraint of Yazzie leading to injury; unreasonable searches of Beaulieu's property; and the seizure and copying of Beaulieu's legal papers.
"It has to be treated like a hospital -- it is not a prison," said Rep. Thomas Huntley, DFL-Duluth.