1) The Duluth area has spent months wooing Google, which is to select a city in which to build a high-speed broadband network. Few communities have been as aggressive as Duluth.
Now a film producer has created "Google Goes to the Twin Ports," about a little girl named Google "who comes to the Twin Ports and carries with her magical powers. The cast members are all local people who donated their time to help the grass roots effort." (h/t: Northland News Center)
2) We've got another MPR/Humphrey Institute poll out today, and as these things tend to do, it leaves us wanting more answers.
Here's the takeaway question:
If you had to choose, would you rather have a smaller government providing fewer services, or a bigger government providing more services?
Are we really surprised by the answer?
We didn't ask the obvious follow-up question: Like what? People have answered this question pretty much the same way for years, but as with most polls, it's all in how you ask the question. Everyone wants fewer services, as long as the services that are extended aren't the ones that we use.
I've asked this question since the days of the old MPR Forum and people almost never have an answer for what they'd give up. MPR commentary editor Eric Ringham gave it a go the other day with the obvious question:
People whose kids have grown said "K-12." People in the city said "subsidies and programs for farmers." People who aren't poor said "social services." People who get speeding and parking tickets said "parking enforcement cops."
Writer "Mike" put it this way:
I'm willing to do without all the services that other people use. The ones I use are clearly essential.
Meanwhile, the New York Times considers the lessons from the electorate from this week's elections and notes this relic, which may be of some interest to Minnesota:
The first is that this age-old idea of "clearing the field" for a preferred candidate, so as to avoid divisive primaries, is now, much like the old party clubhouse, a historical relic. This should have been clear to everyone after 2008, when Barack Obama, shunned by most of his party's major contributors and its Washington establishment, simply shrugged off endorsements and raised more than half a billion dollars from his own constituencies.
Another lesson is that people simply have less affinity for a political party than they once did, a notion that -- if true -- dooms the current incarnations.
3) This could be bigger than the bear den cam in Ely. Bowing to pressure, BP has agreed to provide a live video feed of the Gulf oil spill. You'll be able to find it here some time today. Maybe. If BP allows it. "Are they in charge out there?" a CBS News anchor asked an Obama administration official today. An Associated Press investigation found the answer. "Yes."
Here's a fantastic interactive from the New York Times. It allows you to track the oil spill and review the various estimates about how bad it is.
Meanwhile, the head of BP says the impact on the environment in the Gulf will be "minimal." While NPR reports BP's accuracy is more than suspect.
4) It was Mukhtars Fødselsdag's birthday the other day:
Also in the "We Appreciate the Work You Do" file: Ida the canal mule is retiring.
5) Today's reason to love the Internet. A politician in Alabama creates this:
... and a day later, this is racing around the Internet:
Nurses involved in a labor dispute with Twin Cities hospitals say their main concern is patient safety. Do you believe hospital patients are either more or less safe than in the past?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Author and activist Azar Nafisi says the repression in Iran goes beyond the holding of the three American hikers. She talks about how the Iranian regime tries and occasionally fails to stifle creative expression.
Second hour: Susan Orlean, staff writer for the New Yorker. She's perhaps best known as the author of "The Orchid Thief." Her most recent book is for children, "Lazy Little Loafers."
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - Alice Swan, associate dean of nursing at St. Catherine University, and Connie Delaney, dean of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing answer questions about what nurses do, and how that's changed over the years.
Second hour: Hanan Ashrawi, speaking at the Westminster Town Hall Forum about the prospects for Middle East peace
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Investigating the oil spill.
Second hour: The future of NATO.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR's Dan Gunderson has a look at the turnaround challenge facing the Waubon High School. It's one of 34 Minnesota schools identified by federal officials for turnaround incentives, and one of five on the list that have high numbers of American Indian students. School officials say the turnaround remedies won't fix problems that have hindered American Indian educational achievement for generations.
The unemployment rate in Minnesota for April will be released today. MPR's business unit will translate it into English.
Democracy is plentiful in India. But so are poverty and weak infrastructure. Some Indians looking for a model of stability think they've found it next door -- in China. What citizens of the world's largest democracy hope to learn from their communist neighbor.(5 Comments)
If you want to get a Tea Party member's blood to boil, mention lingering concerns about the perception of a link between its philosophy and racism. Is there smoke there or is it a liberal media attack?
Senate nominee Rand Paul is in the thick of it today after last evening's conversation with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel. The key question was whether the 1964 Civil Rights Act was an overreach of federal authority.
"Well, actually, I think it's confusing on a lot of cases with what actually was in the civil rights case because, see, a lot of the things that actually were in the bill, I'm in favor of. I'm in favor of everything with regards to ending institutional racism," he said. "So I think there's a lot to be desired in the civil rights. And to tell you the truth, I haven't really read all through it because it was passed 40 years ago and hadn't been a real pressing issue in the campaign, on whether we're going for the Civil Rights Act."
So far so good -- except for not knowing what's actually in the Civil Rights Act. It's kind of an important piece of legislation in the history of the United States. And, of course, making a distinction of being opposed to institutional racism raises the obvious question of whether there's a form of racism you're OK with.
So Siegel asked if he thought "that business shouldn't be bothered by people with the basis in law to sue them for redress?"
I think a lot of things could be handled locally. For example, I think that we should try to do everything we can to allow for people with disabilities and handicaps. You know, we do it in our office with wheelchair ramps and things like that. I think if you have a two-story office and you hire someone who's handicapped, it might be reasonable to let him have an office on the first floor rather than the government saying you have to have a $100,000 elevator. And I think when you get to the solutions like that, the more local the better, and the more common sense the decisions are, rather than having a federal government make those decisions.
That got the wags talking, and not because he answered the question by talking about disabled people and elevators to the third floor.
It intensified when he went on MSNBC a few hours after that interview and wouldn't answer a simple question with a "yes" or "no".
"Do you think that a private business has the right to say we don't serve black people?" Rachel Madow asked.
Paul could've made the issue go away with one word, "no." He didn't. Which is why he put out a statement answering the question today, and said it was in response to "liberal media attacks."
"I believe we should work to end all racism in American society and staunchly defend the inherent rights of every person. I have clearly stated in prior interviews that I abhor racial discrimination and would have worked to end segregation. Even though this matter was settled when I was 2, and no serious people are seeking to revisit it except to score cheap political points, I unequivocally state that I will not support any efforts to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws.
"As I have said in previous statements, sections of the Civil Rights Act were debated on Constitutional grounds when the legislation was passed. Those issues have been settled by federal courts in the intervening years
"My opponent's statement on MSNBC Wednesday that I favor repeal of the Civil Rights Act was irresponsible and knowingly false. I hope he will correct the record and retract his claims."
"The issue of civil rights is one with a tortured history in this country. We have made great strides, but there is still work to be done to ensure the great promise of Liberty is granted to all Americans.
"This much is clear: The federal government has far overreached in its power grabs. Just look at the recent national healthcare schemes, which my opponent supports. The federal government, for the first time ever, is mandating that individuals purchase a product. The federal government is out of control, and those who love liberty and value individual and state's rights must stand up to it.
"These attacks prove one thing for certain: the liberal establishment is desperate to keep leaders like me out of office, and we are sure to hear more wild, dishonest smears during this campaign."
What might have been a better answer? How about this one?
It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.
That was John F. Kennedy's assertion on the day the Alabama National Guard was deployed to escort two black students to the University of Alabama.
In the speech, he announced his intention to ask Congress "to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public--hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments."(6 Comments)
Bar patrons in West Allis, Wisc., are reportedly being investigated because they burned an effigy of President Barack Obama.
"In my eyes it's a form of racism," one person-on-the-street told the local TV station.
In January 2009, some college kids burned an effigy of George Bush:
And it's likely that most presidents since the discovery of fire (all of them ) have had their likenesses defaced in some way or another. But Obama, of course, is the first African American president and a racial meaning is often attributed.
If you're a bar full of drunken Wisconsinites, what would be the proper way to express dissatisfaction with a president?
Sen. Al Franken introduced a bill today designed to protect gay and lesbian students from bullying at school.
There was a moment in his conversation with MPR's Cathy Wurzer this morning that caught some attention.
After Franken described the case of Alex Merritt, the Anoka-Hennepin student who was allegedly bullied by two teachers, Wurzer asked Franken to define what constitutes harrassment.
"I think that harassment and bullying is one of these things where you know when you see it," the senator replied. And that might be true, but the law usually requires a definition.
So Wurzer asked how it's defined in Franken's bill.
"I don't believe we have language in it to define bullying, but maybe I do. I'm not sure about that aspect of the bill."(4 Comments)
I mentioned on 5X8 this morning that BP was going to provide a live video feed of the Gulf oil spill.
That feed -- dubbed SpillCam -- is now live. You can find it here, although it's obvious the oil is spewing out of the earth faster than the bytes are traveling through the InterTubes.
BP has also put up a new video. It's about how great the Louisiana oyster business is, and how helpful the oil company has been.(1 Comments)
This might be the worst news for baseball fans since the designated hitter. The system that's used to set airline ticket prices is now migrating to baseball tickets.
We've already seen some changes in this area in the last few years. The Twins' charging more for games against the Yankees, for example. But now it's possible you'll never pay the same price twice for the same seat.
It's an experiment being used by the San Francisco Giants. Traditionally, prices for games are set before the start of the season. Now, they're being set depending on such things as the weather, the team being played, the starting pitchers, and whether the team is in a playoff hunt.
Just as you could be sitting on an airplane next to a person who paid $200 more (or less) for the same seat, you could soon be sitting next to someone who paid more for his/her ticket because the forecast was for sunshine when he/she bought it, while you waited for the clouds.
With that system in place, the next idea was only a matter of time -- an "options market" to hedge against it. The Giants are rolling out a system allowing fans to "lock in" their ticket prices at a given amount.
In the meantime, buying a ticket is becoming like playing the stock market, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
But ticket prices vary widely. A lower box seat for a Tuesday night in June against the Colorado Rockies, not usually a big draw, was priced at $30 (down $1 from last week), while that same seat for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the popular Boston Red Sox was priced at $89.50. In the middle was a Saturday match against the cross-bay rival A's costing $65.75.
Still, Stanley said, the Giants aren't trying to match prices on the secondary market. Similar lower box tickets for that Sunday Giants-Red Sox game were going for $355 each on StubHub.
"We're not gouging," Stanley said. "We're not sticking it to people. While we increase prices, we're not getting greedy."
If you're following a model perfected by the airlines, you will. You will.
(h/t: Bill Catlin)(1 Comments)
We met software developer Thomas Schunk last year as part of News Cut's series "The Unemployed," when he lost his job at United HealthCare after 11 years. He looked forward to being the one who brought treats to his job-search support group, indicating he found work.
Presumably, he's ponied up for the snacks because we got this update from him today:
I wanted to follow up with you. I have been busy lately. About two months ago, I was offered a position with Trail Blazer Campaign Services, Inc. I am a Software Developer.
Originally it was meant to be a part-time position. However, a recent rapid increase in sales has kept my work schedule to nearly 40 hours per week. I have been so busy installing new customers and importing their data into the Trail Blazer software that I have spent less than a total of 20 hours programming.
I like my coworkers and love being productive again. Of course, having a regular paycheck again helps.
Again, thank you for meeting with me and publishing my story.1 Comments)