1) Are voters as angry as the current narrative says they are? If so, what does it mean? Polls in previous years have shown incumbents are unpopular, but people tend to think better of their incumbents. PBS' NOW provided a comprehensive examination last evening:
The key to the issue? The suburbs, according to the PBS report -- the one area of the state that gets the least coverage.
That's the PBS version of political analysis. Bring on the satire!
2) MPR's Tom Scheck yesterday gave Gov. Tim Pawlenty the opportunity to make God "part of the discussion," as Pawlenty insisted he/she should be during his speech to a national group of conservatives in Washington last month. The ongoing controversy over Pawlenty's plan to eliminate the health care program for the poor and disabled created a debate on the House floor this week between legislators over who's the better Christian, and some religious leaders have claimed the governor's veto of a bill saving the program violates God's teachings. But Pawlenty demurred:
When asked about the criticism Wednesday, Pawlenty sidestepped the question, saying he has to balance the budget. He also emphasized the need to better control state health care costs.
3) Perhaps the best line in the history of journalism. "With this shovel, I'm going to fill your pain," MPR's Tim Nelson said:
Note the short-sleeves in 30 degree weather. Nelson is all-man. Here's the story.
4) A few days ago, Minnesota Public Radio reporter Bob Kelliher documented Duluth's effort to be first in line for Google's offer to built a high-speed fiber-optic broadband network in an American city.
That spooked Topeka, Kansas, which vowed to change its name to Google, Kansas if necessary. Duluth strikes back!
There's still time to rename your fine city Duloogle, Duluth.
5) Behold, the miraculous healing properties of coffee. A new study shows coffee can prevent an irregular heartbeat:
A study of 130,054 adults found that people who drank four cups or more of coffee daily had an 18 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for irregular heartbeats and other heart- rhythm conditions than noncoffee drinkers, researchers at the health system Kaiser Permanente said. The risk of hospitalization was 7 percent lower for people who drank one to three cups of coffee daily, the researchers said.
Bonus: In search of the Juicy Lucy.
The state Senate is considering whether to lift Minnesota's moratorium on new nuclear power plants. Is it time to give nuclear power a greater role in Minnesota's energy mix?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: (Twin Cities only) Minneapolis public schools has designated a new superintendent to take over for the resigning Bill Green. Bernadeia Johnson and St. Paul's school superintendent Valeria Silva will share their vision for progress and overcoming the achievement gap in Twin Cities public schools. Greater Minnesota will hear a rebroadcast of Kerri Miller's conversation with nutritionist Marion Nestle.
Second hour: New rules out this year may help many more with mental illness obtain the treatments they need and have insurance plans pay for them as for any other medical condition. Also a look at what mental health doctors believe should be done to standardize care.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Paul Eisenstein, publisher of "The Detroit Bureau.com," discusses the latest news on Toyota and other developments in the auto industry. The Twin Cities Auto Show starts on Saturday.
Second hour: A new America Abroad documentary explores the history and current state of Yemen. It's called, "Yemen in Focus: The Perils of a Fragile State."
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What small businesses are telling us about the future of the economy.
Second hour: Film buff Murray Horwitz looks at the Oscar nominations for visual effects and sound mixing,
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Minn Econ blogger Paul Tosto and Sasha Aslanian team up to tell the story of two farm women who have come up with an unusual arrangement to make it through a tough time in the horse industry, and a personal tragedy. An ex-wife and a widow have joined forces to run a struggling horse farm in Randall, Minnesota.
Note: The daily Five at 8 is a year old next Friday. Over that time, I've pushed out the post a little earlier. So this seems like a good time to change the name to Five by 8.(3 Comments)
The bank pays its top executives more than any other bank, it took $25 billion in bailout money, and it was one of the leaders in "relaxed" lending standards during the housing bubble. "So why does Wells Fargo bank escape negative headlines?" CNBC's David Faber wondered today.
The bank repaid its TARP money after President Barack Obama tied the money to limits on executive pay. Now we know why.
The country's 4th-largest bank rewarded CEO John Stumpf with $21.3 million in 2009, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late on Wednesday. That's more than the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, Faber notes.
The chief financial officer of Wells Fargo, Howard Atkins, made $11.6 million, up from a $4.9 million year in 2008. David Hoyt, the senior executive vice president of wholesale banking, was compensated with $13.5 million. The man in charge of home and consumer financing for the bank, Mark Oman, made $12.7 million -- four times what he was paid the previous year.
In each case, the compensation was well above their compensation in 2007, which was the height of bank profitability in the U.S.
Wells Fargo posted a $12 billion profit in 2009. The company is the country's biggest home lender.(1 Comments)
Should Minnesota impose a 5-cent tax on plastic bags? A bill creating one was filed today at the Capitol in St. Paul.
Under Rep. Karen Clark's bill, the retailer keeps a penny of the tax, and two pennies if the store allows customers to bring plastic bags back for a 5-cent credit. Basically, it's a bottle-bill for bags.
Here's the salient part of the bill :
Disposable carryout bag. "Disposable carryout bag" means a bag of any material, commonly plastic or kraft paper, which is provided to a consumer at the point of sale to carry purchases. Disposable carryout bag does not include:
(1) a reusable bag as defined in subdivision 5;
(2) bags used by consumers inside stores to package bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, candy, grains, or small hardware items, such as nails and bolts;
(3) bags used to contain or wrap frozen foods; meat or fish, whether prepackaged or not; or flowers or potted plants or other items where dampness may be a problem;
(4) bags used to protect prepared foods or bakery goods;
(5) bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs;
(6) newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry or dry cleaning bags; or
(7) bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags.
The basis for the proposal is similar to attempts in other states, plastic bags don't degrade, according to the New Haven Advocate:
Plastic bags are "the most ubiquitous form of litter on the planet and are among the greatest causes of marine mortality, especially turtles, which confuse the bags for jellyfish," says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the National Resources Defense Council and head of the group's solid waste team. "We support limiting the free distribution of plastic bags at supermarkets, especially in coastal regions like Connecticut."
The statistics Hershkowitz cites are staggering: Five hundred billion plastic bags are used each year around the world, and one million plastic bags are produced every minute in this country from imported petroleum. The United Nations estimates that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean, and this transmits pollutants to the fish, which humans then eat, Hershkowitz says.
The Minnesota proposal for a bag tax mirrors one that's been imposed in Washington, D.C., the only other place where a tax exists. San Francisco has banned plastic bags altogether.
"Many of our customers ask for plastic bags when they're in our stores," Aaron Sorenson, a spokesman for Lund's and Byerly's told MPR's Ambar Espinoza in a 2008 story. "Of all the bags that we used in 2007, over 30 percent of them were plastic bags. So to just get rid of plastic bags at this time would likely upset many of our customers who ask for them."(8 Comments)
It's been around for a few months, but this ad from a Finnish newspaper offers the opportunity for some thought -- What if it were the Internet that was dying and newspapers that were the upstart media?
Somewhat related: MinnPost's David Brauer reports the Pioneer Press' owners have emerged from bankruptcy, with the company's president scoring a big payday.(1 Comments)
Those of us who are big fans of social media, are occasionally reminded that it can be a terrible way to get accurate information.
The best example of this in years came today when a rumor swept across texting-land that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was resigning. According to the New York Times, a subsidiary of the National Enquirer picked up the story, and then Matt Drudge's Web site linked to that story, and it was often and running.
The blog, Above the Law, traced it back to a class at Georgetown Law School where a professor deliberately told the class that Roberts would resign tomorrow. He waited a half hour before revealing that he was fibbing. He expected that what would happen, is exactly what happened.
The blog quotes the story from a student in the professor's class:
Our criminal justice professor started our 9am lecture with the news that roberts will be resigning tomorow for health reasons- that he could not handle the administrative burdens of the job. He would not say how he knows- but halfway through our lecture on the credibility and reliability of informants he revealed that the Roberts rumor was made up to show how someone you ordinarily think is credible and reliable (ie a law professor) can disseminate inaccurate information.
[B]etween the hour when the class began and when he revealed that he made it up, plenty of students txted and imed their friends and family.... [So] there's a very good chance that the Roberts rumor that spread like wildfire on the internet was sparked by an eccentric law professor trying to make a point.
The professor hasn't confirmed the story, so none of this might be true.
It says something about the next generation of lawyers, however, that a professor who insists that information be checked for accuracy is considered "eccentric."(3 Comments)