What is this man doing? Choose one
(I originally had a photo of a SWAT cop here. I believed --mistakenly -- it was from the raid on the home of Gizmodo's editor, where authorities seized items to try to find out how a "reporter" got an iPhone prototype. It was not. My apologies. So let's just go at it straight on.)
Does being a journalist allow you to commit a felony? No, of course not. Yet that's where the debate is today. It appears Gizmodo paid money for a prototype iPhone that some Apple worker left in a bar " (wink). The law of finders keepers" doesn't really apply here. It was well known the phone was missing and that the company wanted it back. At some point, even if you "found" something, it becomes stolen property once you're aware you shouldn't have it. If someone pays for it, they're receiving stolen property and that, presumably, is what the search warrant said.
But don't let that stop anybody from renewing the "are bloggers journalists?" debate
2) You're not hearing a lot of "drill baby, drill!" right now. An environmental disaster is taking root in the Gulf of Mexico, where 42,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing from that wellhead that exploded, killing 11 oil workers last week.
That's nothing, compared to the Exxon Valdez It would take 262 days to equal that. One of the options being considered is letting the oil flow permanently, and figure out some sort of solution to mop it up... permanently. The big oil slick might never make it to Louisiana's coast, which raises the possibility it goes to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas.
You know it's big when you can see it from space.
Another oil rig nearby is leaking today.
3) Now, wait just a minute! NPR's Joanne Silberner links chocolate with depression. That'll be the headline, of course, but look closer:
People in the group with screening scores suggesting that they might have major depression ate 12 or more servings a month. A serving, for those of you wondering, was a small bar. People in the group with "possible depression" ate eight servings a month. Those who screened negative for depression ate only five servings a month.
Now, the findings don't mean people who eat a lot of chocolate are necessarily depressed, but it does seem that people with depression are more likely to eat chocolate.
People with depression are also more likely to smoke, but that's not a "link" (wink wink) between smoking and depression. They're more likely to self medicate with alcohol or drugs, but that doesn't necessarily create a "link" between alcohol and depression. She notes that in her column, raising the question, then, what's the point of the research by the university researchers, other than to get published?
4) The real estate tax credit expires on Friday. It was intended to get the real estate and housing business back on firm footing by offering tax dollars to home buyers. Did it work? If you bought a home with the tax credit, you tell me. The experts say 1.8 million people are buying, but some tax policy experts say most of the $12.6 billion in credits through end of February was collected by people who would have bought homes anyway or who in some cases were not even eligible, the New York Times reports.
"I have written three offers this week for two buyers and it is only Tuesday. The buyers did not just start looking but they now have a sense of urgency about buying," St. Paul Realtor Teresa Boardman says.
5) A reader commented yesterday to the effect that if we lived in a world of bikes, instead of in a world of cars, we wouldn't have the kind of tragedies that are dominating the local news this week. I read it as I prepared to head to the airport to pick up my son, returning from a business trip, at 11 p.m. Does the idea make sense? The Story's Dick Gordon has a guest who has the answer:
Adam Greenfield made a rash new year's resolution a year ago -- to live 100% car-free for all of 2009. He did not step foot in a car, a even a cab for a year. During that year he figured out how to haul lumber to his home, attend his brother's wedding in Europe, and give tours of San Francisco - all car-free. Adam joins Dick to talk about his experiment, and his hope that others will offer their own tales of green trial and error.
Because of The Story's goofy archiving, you'll have to scroll the media player through the segment featuring the first guests. Here's a piece Time.com did about him earlier this year.
Context: In Massachusetts, the Legislature enacted a series of get-tougher laws aimed at teenage drivers after some highly-publicized car crashes. It worked.
Bonus: From last night's Bucks game in Milwaukee.
American RadioWorks is working on a project examining the textbook industry (They started before Texas made Thomas Jefferson a persona non grata). On June 3, we're going to have a two-hour program in the UBS Forum on the subject. I'll be live-blogging it but perhaps you'd like to be in the audience. If so, reserve your tickets here.
In the past week, 11 people have been killed in car crashes involving teenaged drivers. What can we do to prevent accidents like these?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Federal deficit reduction commission is meeting at the White House today to take up the biggest problem with balancing the federal budget long term: Social Security and Medicare trust funds won't keep up with baby boomers when they retire.
Second hour: Safety advocates back a new proposal before the U.S. Senate that would require states use graduated licensing rules for drivers under the age of 21. Some states, like Minnesota, already have some restrictions on new drivers. But do the laws really work? And are they enforced well enough?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Star Tribune editorial writer columnist and Lori Sturdevant talks about her 35 year career as a journalist.
Second hour: Newbury Award-winning author Neil Gaiman, who spoke at Stillwater Jr. High as part of a new series sponsored by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Understanding financial regulation.
Second hour: How women working within the tenets of Islam create political, economic, and educational opportunities for women.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - An MPR News series begins this afternoon. Central Corridor - A Slow Train Coming. How did the Central Corridor light rail project end up in this mess so close to the finish line? It wasn't entirely unexpected; the Hiawatha Project, now deemed a success, was the subject of eight lawsuits before it was completed.
Your story: Do you know someone who's doing something others should know about? Maybe it's you. Tell me.(4 Comments)
Change from January
It's been 22 years since the Minnesota Legislature amended the state's Human Rights Act to add language to provide protections for married people. But the Minnesota Court of Appeals today reinstated a case that may test it.
The court ruled that a district court should not have tossed the claim of a woman who said she was fired from a company because her husband -- the president of the company -- was being terminated. LeAnn Taylor claims an official LSI Corporation of America told her that she was being fired because her husband was being terminated and "he will be [relocating], which means you'll be relocating as well. So we just decided to eliminate your position."
Is that discrimination against someone for being married?
A test of the Human Rights Act wording will decide. The Act says:
Except when based on a bona fide occupational qualification, it is an unfair employment practice for an employer, because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, membership or activity in a local commission, disability, sexual orientation, or age to:
(1) refuse to hire or to maintain a system of employment which unreasonably excludes a person seeking employment; or
(2) discharge an employee; or
(3) discriminate against a person with respect to hiring, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities, or privileges of employment.
At issue is what constitutes "marital status"? A 1988 legislative update extended protection against discrimination on the basis of "the identity, situation, actions, or beliefs of a spouse or former spouse."
It may well be that the Legislature intended to protect people from losing their jobs because a spouse was losing his/hers. But it's never been decided by the Appeals Court or the state Supreme Court. Previous cases involving the language were aimed at anti-nepotism rules in which a person didn't get a job because a spouse did.
The Appeals Court today said the woman's claim falls "squarely within the statutory definition of marital status," and sent it back to trial.(1 Comments)
This campaign ad by a gubernatorial candidate in Alabama is racing across Planet Internet this week.
There's certainly no mincing words there. "We welcome non-English speaking people, who are legally in the U.S., to Alabama. However, if you want to drive in our states, public safety concerns dictate that you need to speak English," Tim James said after liberal commentator Rachel Madow took him to task.
Earlier he'd said it was an economic issue.
How does Minnesota compare to Alabama on this "issue"? Doug Neville, an information officer with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has the answer:
Minnesota currently provides the class D knowledge test in six languages; English, Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese, Russian and Somali. The decision to provide test questions in these languages was based on population demographics. Exam stations do allow the opportunity for customers to provide an interpreter for the test. These tests must be set up ahead of time at the exam station so that exam staff can be scheduled to monitor the testing process.
It's a big issue in Georgia where a bill mandating English-only testing is being considered
In Utah, a "picture-based" exam for a driver's license was eliminated recently. The Salt Lake Tribune this week described the odyssey of an immigrant who speaks seven languages, but hasn't been able to pass the text-based exam.
California offers the test in 32 languages. Several states offer it in 17.
Are you a better driver if you speak English fluently? That should be at the heart of the issue, but there's very little data to support any of the arguments on either side of the issue. Accident investigators aren't testing people's language skills at accident scenes.
The federal government anticipated the "problem" many years ago when it eliminated many critical text-based signs, and adopted the international traffic signals. The theory was -- and is -- that even if you don't speak English, you'll know what this means.7 Comments)
The parking directives on signs in downtown St. Paul seem to often scream, "go away," and today a group of business interests called on the city to lighten up on the enforcement.
The St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce said a recent survey of business owners and customers said parking enforcement is "overly aggressive," the signs are confusing, and the maximum time allowed at meters is too short.
"We have to stop pretending we have a rush hour out of downtown St. Paul," City Council member Dave Thune said, referring to signs (like the one above) that even prevents people from stopping, let alone park.
Brian Horst (above), who runs Details Salon on the Lowry Building said he often pays the parking tickets of customers, but fears many people don't bother trying to park.
Susan Kimberly (left, above), the interim director of the Chamber, said the group wants the time limit on parking meters extended to 90 minutes, and free parking at meters if they're broken. Thune indicated the city is considering computerized parking meters that will accept credit cards. They might be paid for with the money generated by fines on parking scofflaws, he said.
(Take the parking survey from the Capitol River Council.)(4 Comments)