1) In Georgia, school officials barred the cheerleaders from hanging any banners that had Biblical verses on them. Since 9/11, cheerleaders painted the verses on giant paper banners that the football team ran through during pre-game introductions. The town responded. They bring God's Warriors signs to the games. In a battle between those wanting to keep church and state separate, and those who prefer it to be merged, the latter is winning this particular battle, the New York Times reports.
Why does football and religion seem to be linked more than say, the band and religion in schools? You don't usually see the band kids gather in prayer before the first song. Why not? Why doesn't the glee club put up posters that say, "Make a joyful noise."?
2) It's not easy being green glass. In Mankato, residents dutifully put green-colored glass in with the other recyclables. They might as well just toss them in the trash. Green glass can only be recycled into more green glass and there's no market for it. Still, the state requires that it be collected. Some people want to change that.
3) Bear expert Lynn Rogers of Minnesota is the focus of a BBC documentary that airs tomorrow night: He's getting some UK love today.
In the years Rogers has tramped through the Northwoods he has abandoned just about everything he knew, or thought he knew, about bears. They do not like honey. They are not even that crazy about berries or nuts - provided, of course, there is a nice rich stash of ant larvae in the vicinity.
And they are not ferocious. Rogers is adamant about that. He said he has never heard a bear roar or even growl, and that in all of his years of close proximity to the animals he has never been seriously hurt even though in his early years he displayed what he calls "bad bear manners".
Rogers was a guest on MPR's Midmorning last December.
4) The Washington Post has the story today of Matthew Hoh, who has resigned from the Foreign Service because, he says, he doesn't know why the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan. He only joined the Foreign Service earlier this year:
"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."
The White House will be getting back to you on that, Matthew.
Meanwhile, WNYC's The Takeaway today looks at competing narratives of this week's helicopter "crash" in Afghanistan.
5) A nice catch by the New York Times today on the Northwest Airlines Flight 188 fiasco. The airline warned pilots at the start of the merger between Delta and Northwest that these sorts of things were possible. "While we cannot minimize distractions from our personal or professional lives, we can mitigate their effects so they do not affect the safety of our airline," the memo said. "Leave distractions about personal, corporate or other external issues outside of the flight deck."
Greg Feith, a former NTSB investigator, went on The CBS Early Show this morning and said not all pilots may have known about Delta's prohibition on laptops in the cockpit and said Northwest Airlines did not have such a policy. Perhaps the distraction was a conversation among the pilots about whether they could be surfing on their laptops.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic's James Fallows, a pilot, gets it right when he describes just how unbelievable the pilots' current story is:
The difficulty for the pilots is that the version of the story they're resisting -- that they simply fell asleep -- is less damning for them than any alternative version. If they fell asleep, that's bad, but they could argue some kind of force majeure. But if their "heated conversation" (previous story) or intense laptop use (current story) kept them from remembering their most elemental responsibility as pilots, that really is beyond the pale. The closest comparison would be, say, to an operating-room team that got so interested in watching a football game on TV that they sliced open a patient but forgot to take out his appendix. Forgetting where you are going is incredible enough on its own. And not having any back-of-mind nag saying, "Wait a minute, we haven't heard anything on the air-traffic control frequency for a while" also is outside any known experience of the professional flight-crew world.
In other words: Somebody's lying about what happened.
Citing the "rapid increase in illness," President Obama has declared a national emergency to help officials deal with H1N1 flu. How has the spread of H1N1 affected your workplace?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9 - 11 a.m.) - First hour: Historians Ed Ayers and Brian Balogh both say they entered the profession to have a better understanding of how the world we live in came to be. That's the driving force behind their scholarship, and the basis for their radio show.
Second hour: You probably have plants in your garden, weeds that annoy you. Author Amy Stewart investigates the plants that kill, if you get too close.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - Garrison Keillor, speaking at the Barnes and Noble in Edina about his writing, and reading from his new book, "Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance."
Talk of the Nation (1 - 3 p.m.) - First hour: It's been three years since Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" made "green" good -- and put climate change on diverse agendas. Now a new Pew survey finds that concern about global warming is waning. What's causing this change in attitudes?
Second hour: Afghan politician Malalai Joya on her new book, "A Woman among Warlords."
All Things Considered (3 - 6:30 p.m.) - Where do Minnesota's legislators stand on the public option for health insurance. The U.S. Senate bill will give state's the option of opting out. MPR's Tom Scheck is on the story.
MPR's Tom Weber has a comprehensive look at what school districts are asking voters to approve this fall.
David Schaper has the story of what happened when some black students were kept out of a bar in Washington state because they were wearing baggy clothes.
NPR's Martin Kaste has the second part of his series on the end of privacy.
Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, punted today when MPR's Cathy Wurzer asked when FAA officials notified homeland security officials that a jetliner was heading for Minneapolis St. Paul and officials didn't know for sure who was in control of it.
"There are protocols in place for when actual military planes are used in situations like this," Napolitano said.
"What you're asking me involves a commercial plane involves another type of dimension and the NTSB is doing an investigation. Rather than announce it now, we should await the results of the investigation."
The NTSB investigation does not involve the response time or the coordination of air defense response to it.
By the way, here's what it looks like when military jets intercept an aircraft. If it's night-time, would those flares have caught the attention of a napping/Web surfing/laptop searching set of pilots?
The Northwest debacle, and a Delta jet that landed on a taxiway in Atlanta instead of the runway, has refocused attention on the "human factors" of getting us from Point A to Point B.
And so has the Air France crash months ago on a Brazil to Paris flight. Just this week, in fact, the debate internally over whether a crew error or faulty equipment cost the lives of hundreds of people spilled out in the open.
In a strongly worded internal memo, Air France has warned its pilots to be more vigilant about safety procedures and upbraided those blaming flight equipment for the crash of Flight 447 into the Atlantic in June.
No one knows what caused the accident, which killed all 228 people aboard and was Air France's deadliest crash. Pilots' unions said Saturday the company is trying to distance itself from blame -- and shift attention to the possibility of human error -- as the investigation drags on.
"Enough Scandals and False Debates about Flight Security!" reads the memo, sent to pilots Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday. It dismisses calls by pilots for new safety procedures following Flight 447's crash. "It suffices simply to apply our doctrine, our procedures," the memo says.(5 Comments)
NPR "Political Junkie" Ken Rudin has apologized for comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon.
NPR ombudsman Alica Shepard calls attention (via Twitter) to her column today, in which she says what Rudin said "was a dumb thing to say."
Here's what Rudin said about the Obama administration's spat with Fox News.
"Well, it's not only aggressive, it's almost Nixonesque. I mean, you think of what Nixon and Agnew did with their enemies list and their attacks on the media; certainly Vice President Agnew's constant denunciation of the media. Of course, then it was a conservative president denouncing a liberal media, and of course, a lot of good liberals said, 'Oh, that's ridiculous. That's an infringement on the freedom of press.' And now you see a lot of liberals almost kind of applauding what the White House is doing to Fox News, which I think is distressing."
Rudin caught it pretty quickly, and apologized:
"Comparing the tactics of the Nixon administration --which bugged and intimidated and harassed journalists -- to that of the Obama administration was foolish, facile, ridiculous and, ultimately embarrassing to me."
Rudin played it well to settle the matter quickly, but it's worth pointing out he didn't compare Obama's tactics with Nixon's intimidation of the media via illegal means. He compared it to Nixon's "enemies" list and their (presumably rhetorical) "attacks on the media."
It was Steve Benen of Washington Monthly who extended the meaning of Rudin's comments:
Now would be an excellent time for a reality break. Has the Obama White House ordered the Justice Department to spy on Fox News employees? Has the administration ordered the IRS to start digging through Fox News' books, hunting for irregularities and auditing on-air personalities? Has the president directed thugs to break into Glenn Beck's psychiatrist's office?
"As he noted in his apology, what the Obama administration is doing is a "far cry from illegal and unconstitutional activities," Shepard wrote. She said "it was a dumb thing to say." But what was dumb? What he said as fact, or saying it imprecisely so that it could be misinterpeted?
Back to Benen:
And what as (sic) the Obama team done? They've dared to point out a simple reality: an obviously-partisan propaganda outlet in (sic) not a legitimate news organization. That's it. That's the totality of the White House's efforts -- criticizing a network that operates as an arm of a political party. There's no boycott, no punishment, no vendetta. All we have here are some White House aides who've criticized a network.
Not exactly. The White House has also frozen out Fox News whenever it could. That's their right.
"We're going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent," Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, told the New York Times. "As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave."
Regardless of whether you like or hate Fox News (and you either like or hate it; there's no middle ground), you have to at least consider the comment from Tom Edsall, the author of Building Red America:
"Reacting to criticism is a very dangerous thing for any kind of publication to get involved in, especially when the criticism is ideological... I do think that Fox has often been tilted to the right, but if they're now inhibiting their coverage - if these Tea Parties [that they didn't cover] were newsworthy - that's not good."
Curiously, the director of the First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky, Mike Farrell, invoked the same language that Rudin did:
"The White House has basically said that they don't believe in the marketplace of ideas, they're not willing to engage in debate, and they are going to be associated with John Adams and the Sedition Act and Richard Nixon and his 'enemies' list - is that the company they want to be in?"