The parades leading up to Mardi Gras (February 16) started in New Orleans over the weekend. That inspires today's Monday Morning Rouser:
For the record, Dr. John won't be anywhere near New Orleans for Mardi Gras. He'll be in Milwaukee.
1) Listen, missionaries, you can't just swoop into Haiti, round up kids, and take them back to the U.S. as orphans. Ten Americans have been arrested on charges of human trafficking. They say the required paperwork has simply been lost. But one slipped a note to a BBC reporter early in the controversy that said they didn't know paperwork was required.
Behind the headlines is fear that evangelical churches from the U.S. are racing into Haiti to rescue kids from their Catholic culture.
The arrest of the missionaries comes a day after fears were raised about sex trafficking and pedophiles operating in Haiti in the earthquakes aftermath.
Meanwhile, Haiti has been added as one of the world's most dangerous paper routes.
2) Embrace Winter. When an ice storm makes a mess of your town -- as it did last week in Hibbing -- live (it up) with it.
Over the weekend, the Twins held TwinsFest, which appears to be replacing the St. Paul Winter Carnival as the first sign that winter is ebbing.
3) I found this Web site over the weekend which documents scientists who are on money around the world. Einstein, for example, is on Israel's lirot.
We put politicians on our money, but if you believe all the polls, we don't like politicians that much. Discussion point: Who would you put on U.S. currency?
4) Boys are in far more serious trouble than girls in school, a new study finds. Granted, researchers say, the gap in math and science between boys and girls is serious, but it's nothing compared to the reading gap of boys.
Still, boys are in far more serious trouble, she argues. The gender gap in reading and writing at the end of high school, for example, is far wider than the gap in math and science ever was. More than a quarter of American male high school graduates can't understand a newspaper article, compared to about 10 percent of girls.
Let's consider that. One out of four American boys -- graduates of high school -- can't understand a newspaper article.
5) If only the Vikings had called the coin flip for overtime possession correctly, we'd be entering the final week of the Vikings Super Bowl party. But, there was only a 50-50 chance of getting it right, right? Wrong, says the San Jose Mercury News.
But first, here's what the researchers concluded: Using a high-speed camera that photographed people flipping coins, the three researchers determined that a coin is more likely to land facing the same side on which it started. If tails is facing up when the coin is perched on your thumb, it is more likely to land tails up.
How much more likely? At least 51 percent of the time, the researchers claim, and possibly as much as 55 percent to 60 percent -- depending on the flipping motion of the individual.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama said the country faces a "deficit of trust" that makes it difficult to solve important public issues. That inspired today's question: Does the country face a "deficit of trust"?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
I'm still working on the story of the Wrenshall girl's basketball team, which will require me to travel north this afternoon for the JV and varsity game.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Gov. Tim Pawlenty's latest bonding request includes $89 million to finish the unit housing sex offenders at Moose Lake. Minnesota is one of several states that allows the civil commitment of what it considers dangerous sex offenders. The growing population of sex offenders is causing some to wonder whether there's another way.
Second hour: Hillary Clinton's quest for the White House and Sarah Palin's rising star have led many political observers to believe that a female American president will soon be a reality. But a new book suggests that gender bias, and the vicious nature of American politics, still prevent significant obstacles for women in politics.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: The 12 DFL candidates for governor.
Second hour: The 7 GOP candidates for governor.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Inside the Tea Party.
Second hour: Do graphic images dehumanize the victims of disaster?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announces its preference for the flood mitigation route for Fargo Moorhead. Already there are factions against both a Minnesota and a North Dakota diversion. MPR's Dan Gunderson will report on which of the routes is best.
NPR will report on the science behind life speeding up as you age.(2 Comments)
As a person whose family was destroyed by sex abuse, any policy that lets pedophiles out of prison to offend again-and they will- is too lenient. I never supported the death penalty before, but I do now for crimes against children. The pedophile that tore apart my family is out of prison, whereas we live with a life sentence due to the effect of his actions. You can not underestimate the impact of sex abuse of a child on their life-for the rest of their life. Even with therapy, we are forever changed.From St. Paul:
In contrast to what we are spending for this very expensive approach to addressing sexual violence, Minnesota spends zero dollars on primary prevention of sexual violence. It seems like our public policy is out of balance, we spend whatever it takes or is requested to deal with people once offended, but nothing to really change the environment or circumstances in which sexual violence is nurtured.Attorney Freeman indicated Minnesota is one of the lowest states for percentage of its population behind bars. But since 2007, the state is actually in the highest fifth of states in incarceration rates, with a 5.1% increase, according to a study by the Pew Center on the States. And a separate Pew report says 1 in 26 people in the state is under the control of the Department of Corrections in some fashion.
MPR's Midday with Gary Eichten is hosted a gubernatorial candidate forum from the UBS Forum at News Cut's World Headquarters today. The DFLers are up first, then the GOP. Republican candidate Tom Emmer pulled out of today's forum two hours before it was to start.
Can we learn much about candidates in these sorts of forums when there are so many candidates? Let's find out as I live blog both hours.
Here's Gary's introduction:
Tomorrow night, all three of Minnesota's major political parties hold neighborhood meetings -- or caucuses -- around the state to begin the process of selecting each party's candidate for governor. Tim Pawlenty is not running for re-election this year so the field is wide open and there is no shortage of men and women who want to succeed him. Today, to help you get ready for the caucuses tomorrow night, we've been joined here in Minnesota Public Radio's UBS Forum by all of the DFL and Republican Party candidates. We'll hear from the DFL candidates this hour, the Republicans at noon. And we should note that even if you aren't a party activist, you can still stop by your caucus tomorrow night, cast a ballot for governor in your party's straw ballot, and leave. So, stay tuned. We might be able to help you decide who you want to vote for tomorrow night.
The format for the hour is pretty simple. No stopwatches or formal statements. But we have encouraged the candidates to keep their comments relatively short so everyone gets a chance to speak, we've encouraged the candidates to talk with each other as we go along, and we've also encouraged the candidates to identify themselves before they speak so you folks listening on the radio know who is speaking. It sounds a little stilted but it makes it easier to follow and I'll also try to do a play-by-play as we go along.
One more note before we get started. There are three major political parties in Minnesota, and the Independence Party is also holding precinct caucuses tomorrow night. There is also a contest for the IP Party endorsement, but there wasn't a contest when we set up this program so we weren't able to incorporate them into the program today. However: if you go to your IP Party caucus tomorrow night, you now have a choice of five candidates. In alphabetical order, the IP candidates for governor are: Rob Hahn, Tom Horner, John Uldrich, Joe Repya, and Rahn Workuff. We'll hear from them as the campaign goes along. We don't want to give anyone short shrift.
These are the candidates: Tom Bakk, Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, Susan Gaertner (no show), Steve Kelley, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, John Marty, Felix Montez (no show), Tom Rukavina, R.T. Rybak, Ole Savior, Paul Thissen.
Q: Why should Democrats pick you?
Entenza: People are tired of not seeing things accomplished. We need a leader to stand up for core principles. I've got a proven track record who'll put white-collar criminals in jail. We saved MinnesotaCare.
Thissen: Health care is a huge issue; it's the thing that's going to bankrupt Minnesota and I don't think there's anybody in the race with as much knowledge to solve that problem. We've fallen into a routine of looking to the past for our candidates and our ideas.
Rybak: I'll support whoever gets the nomination but we have to remember what the governor's job is. It's to be chief executive of a multi-billion dollar corporation. It's a job similar to mine. I walked into a city in a mess and showed you can have strong management.
Kelliher: Our economy is on the ropes and we don't need someone who has to learn the ropes. I've put together three consecutive state budgets. The next governor will have 12 weeks to put the budget together and six of those weeks you're not the governor.
Dayton: I offer 35 years of public service. I'm the only DFL candidate who's headed a state agency and I've headed three of them.
Rukavina: I've walked the walk. I've done a lot of innovative things at the Capitol. I have a proven track record.
Savior: Republicans want to cut the budget and affect poor people. They don't care about that. My idea is to bring more money into the state. A lot of Democrats want to raise our taxes and I don't. It's not necessary.
Marty: I have the vision to put together a health care plan that covers every Minnesotan and gives health care as a right to people.
Bakk: My theme is jobs, jobs, jobs. I'm the candidate with the most believable message. Spent my entire working career as a carpenter. In the '80s, I ran out of unemployment. I know what it's like not to have a paycheck.
Kelley: I'm the candidate who can win in November. I won five teams in a swing suburban district. I had opponents, but not enemies and that's the leadership we need in the governor's office.
Q: Should it matter to DFLers whether you honor the endorsement?
Thissen: Yes. I'm going to honor the endorsement.
Rukavina: I've been going to precinct caucus since 1972. It's very important we have an endorsement process. I can't run against my good friends who got a million bucks in this race.
Rybak: With this crop of candidates, whoever comes out of that endorsement, I'm going to support.
Dayton: The delegates at state convention comprise less than 1/3 of one percent of DFL primary voters want not to just recommend who the candidate should be, they want to dictate who the candidate should be. I'm running in the primary.
Bakk: I intend to abide by the endorsement. Both parties should pick their candidates by the first of May.
Savior: My views are similar to Mark Dayton's. I will be in the primary. The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press have excluded me.
Kelley: Sen. Dayton has too narrow a view of what democracy is.
Marty: It matters some.
Kelliher: It matters. An endorsement process is important to have a diversity of candidates. The Republicans are not going to have a primary.
(Susan Gaertner has arrived. Describes why she should the choice. "I have executive experience and lots of experience making tough decisions.")
Q: Many people would like to see an end to partisan gridlock. Is there an idea that Republicans have been promoting that's a good idea?
Kelliher: An angel investor tax credit to promote biosciences. It attracts private capital.
Rybak: (Talks about what he's done in Minneapolis, but doesn't really answer the question other than to says both parties should "invest in Main Street.")
Entenza: Says he'd get rid of No Child Left Behind. (Cleverly notes that some Republicans agree)
Dayton: Says he worked with Sen. McCain on "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon," to provide services to Iraqi war veterans.
Bakk: We have to look at regulatory environment. Taxes matter but every year we pile more rules on business community and if Minnesota is going to grow jobs, we have to look at environmental regulations.
Rukavina: Republicans have a lot of good ideas and I vote with them on a number of bills. We have different philosophies and we shouldn't be ashamed of that.
Gaertner: Says she's heard Republicans embrace consumption-based taxes. And use of ignition locks for drunk drivers.
Thissen: Says he's been working with Republicans on initiatives to help people save for retirement.
[ Rybak just tweeted: Listen to me right now on MPR 91.1. Last debate before Caucuses!!] Does he tweet his own material or does someone else?
Kelley: Talks about high-speed Internet and a metro-wide public radio system.
Marty: Republicans have come to me to carry bills for consumer protection. Says the Republican who asked me said "it doesn't really fit with my philosophy of government." (Names, senator, give us a name!)
Rybak: I spend a lot of time talking to mayors. We have too much government in the state of Minnesota. Government needs to get back to basic: Police, fire, roads etc. (Well, that does get to the issue, doesn't it. Since the bulk of the state budget is human services, how does that square with "getting back to basics"? Is that code?)
Kelliher: I respect people as individuals. That's where that bipartisanship can start again. "We've seen too much name calling out of the governor's office."
Q: Should teacher pay be tied to student performance/test scores?
Kelley: There should be a team approach in schools. Music can contribute to a student's learning of mathematics. Radically connecting test scores to teacher pay wouldn't incorporate role that music teacher plays.
Entenza: The obsession with tests is completely nuts.
(Let's go back to this item from today's Five at 8: One of every four graduating high school boys can't understand a newspaper article)
Rukavina: 99% of our teachers do a good-excellent job in our state. We should just let teachers teach again.
Gaertner: The teacher is held accountable for the student no matter what his/her background. But we need to come up with a way to evaluate project. The method needs to come from teachers themselves.
Dayton: We need to give teachers more tools.
Savior: You can't always blame the governor. Between the governor and legislature, they're against poor people. (Didn't answer question)
Kelliher: Stresses need for early childhood education.
Thissen: This points out the need for experience.
Rybak: I don't know a parent, teacher, or student who's afraid of being measured. The challenge is we're measuring too narrow and we're not measuring community.
Dayton: The tests aren't fair.
Robert Carney, Leslie Davis, Bill Haas, David Hann, Phil Herwig, Marty Seifert.
Q: Why should caucus-goers choose you?
Haas: Because I have experience and knowledge of state budgeting process. I've got the energy it will take to get the job done.
Seifert: I have experience, knowledge and vision to lead this state. I downsized government.
Davis: People are tired of the misery. People who support me support the history of Minnesota. Vote for someone else and you support the misery.
Carney: I want to work with people of all party or no party who are independent minded. We have to talk about how to restrain growth of government, but governor can't act as the third house of the Legislature.
Herwig: When the party was founded, they decided to call it Republican because it best expressed the idea of equality. For years, I've been active in the party. Heard people say they'd reduce government, do something about Pro Life issues... and I haven't seen anything yet.
Hann: I've demonstrated my interest in voting for conservative principles. Have a strong commitment to education and reform of education.
Q: Do you see yourself as a Tea Party conservative or traditional Republican conservative?
Hann: I'm a traditional Republican with a commitment to limited government. Focus on doing the right thing.
Seifert: Says government shouldn't spend more than it takes in. That resonates with both. A lot of it is about putting a demonstrable movement together.
Herwig: I started out demonstrating and protesting back in 1963 when I was on a Freedom March with Martin Luther King Jr. I protested Obama health care bill. The Tea Party has an open letter to Republicans. We are conservatives, capitalists, and political people. I see myself as a freedom fighter.
Hass: Tea Party people are good people. People want their voice heard.
Davis: Tea Party people are the guns and rumbling crowd.
Carney: Moderate, progressive candidate. I'm the MPR candidate. (huh? MPR has no horse in the race.) Republican Party is rooted in local government.
Herwig: It bothers me to hear Republican Party is rooted in federal and local government. The Republican Party is rooted in freedom (I don't think Carney mentioned "federal")
Q: Will you sign a "no new taxes" pledge?
Herwig: Yes (and feeds)
Seifert: I haven't been offered one. I've signed on in the past.
Haas: I'm not real high on signing pledges. I stand on my integrity that I won't raise taxes.
(This brings up an interesting point. If a matter of integrity is saying you won't do something, what does signing a pledge matter?)
Q: Can you name a good idea that Democrats have?
Seifert: We're all for jobs. But we're for less government and less welfare. Democrats are interested in some reforms. I want to be more aggressive.
Hann: Cites a John Brandl book and says there must be other Democrats who believe that money isn't the answer to everything. Says Democrats have too strong an allegiance to government employee groups.
Hass: Elderly care, as cited by Paul Thissen. We've got baby boomers coming through the system and our elderly care system is not prepared for it. Also cites health insurance costs.
Davis: Just naming problems isn't an idea. I didn't hear them outline any solutions. Talk about pie-in-the-sky ideas. Jobs don't grow. You can't create jobs without money; none of them indicate where we're going to make the money. You can't cut and tax.
Carney: Sen. Bakk talked about deregulation; that's something we want to look toward. He talked about ethanol plants getting built in Iowa because of regulations here. (Side note: Minnesota has a producer payment program for ethanol producers, however. How does that square with less government?)
Herwig: The question gets back to Republicans and Democrats working together. Because of the times we're in, both will be more interested in working together.
Q: Should federal government spend more money on education?
Hann: No, there's nothing in the Constitution that authorizes the federal government to set education.
Davis: He's right. The idea of putting more money into it. In Minneapolis they convinced voters to approve a bill that would give them another half-billion dollars. If you look at math, reading, science scores, in both of those cities, they're "F" in every category.
Haas: Too many strings attached. Outcome-based education, Profiles of Learning, all failed programs. We have to have more control at the local level with parents having a voice in the education of their children.
Seifert: It's a local responsibility. 20-30 percent of children in Minneapolis drop out. We have old laws that allow 16 year olds to drop out.
(Seifert just pointed out that he voted to withdraw from No Child Left Behind. He did. I wonder if he brought it up because his perceived main competition -- Tom Emmer -- was one of 9 legislators who voted against it. Here's the roll call.)
Q: Give one area where you could see the state making a substantial savings by cutting the budget?
Davis: Get rid of all the PR people at the Dept. of Commerce. There'd be some trimming. I'd trim the Judiciary staff.
Hann: You have to look where the money is. Half the money is in education. Another 20 percent is in human services and health care. We could look at meeting education objectives at a lower cost.
Seifert: Contract out administrative functions like MinnesotaCare. There's hundreds of millions to be saved by cutting entitlement programs. Wants crackdown on people who move to Minnesota for social service programs.
Carney: If you set budget caps and provide stability, organizations will adjust to the budget. (Didn't really hear an answer there).
Herwig: Pawlenty administration doesn't have any ideas; they're busy running for another office. Recommends fewer school districts. Would save $600 million per biennium.
Haas: Why is health and human services going up $2.5 billion? You can't say you're go after just one program?
End of the program.(6 Comments)
Much has been made -- an appropriately so -- of Toyota's problem with gas pedals that stick.
A scenario that led a New York Times story on the problem captured the horror of it all:
The 911 call came at 6:35 p.m. on Aug. 28 from a car that was speeding out of control on Highway 125 near San Diego.
The caller, a male voice, was panic-stricken: "We're in a Lexus ... we're going north on 125 and our accelerator is stuck ... we're in trouble ... there's no brakes ... we're approaching the intersection ... hold on ... hold on and pray ... pray ..."
The call ended with the sound of a crash.
The Lexus ES 350 sedan, made by Toyota, had hit a sport utility vehicle, careened through a fence, rolled over and burst into flames. All four people inside were killed: the driver, Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, and his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.
If only we were better trained as drivers for emergency situations like the one these poor people faced. The solution seems simple: Turn the engine off or shift it into neutral, anything to stop the effect of a runaway accelerator.
Toyota's guidelines on what to do in a similar situation:
• If you need to stop immediately, the vehicle can be controlled by stepping on the brake pedal with both feet using firm and steady pressure. Do not pump the brake pedal as it will deplete the vacuum utilized for the power brake assist.
• Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
• If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
• If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
• If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel. (h/t: Matt Quintanilla)
I generally don't read comments attached to YouTube videos, but this one offered some actual insight into the Electronic Control System:
All of the signal and mechanism are connected into the ECU and ECU controls the engine/tranny. You couldn't turn the engine off if ECU fails. You couldn't shift the gear into neutral if ECU fails. But you could apply brakes eventhough the ECU fails.
All of which makes one wonder whether our cars are getting too electronically sophisticated, to the point where we're just along for the ride?(6 Comments)