The Monday Morning Rouser (Tuesday edition) is for the graduates. Sure, you can't wait to put your school in the rear-view mirror. You'll be back. (h/t: Nick Young)
1) Is it me, or is Earth becoming an immensely hostile planet?
Look at this amazing photo from Guatemala City.
There was a storm and then the earth swallowed up a large block. But to where? Where does the hole go to? Where does all the the "there" that was there go? And how do you fix this if it's deeper than the Statue of Liberty is high, National Geographic says.
More images are at this Flickr feed.
Meanwhile, oil is still pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, and it now appears as though it will for a few more months. The blog, The Big Picture, says the disaster is the oil industry's Three Mile Island and will likely change the way it operates.
Our expectation is that the oil business is about to enter a period of intense scrutiny and regulation worldwide. It will confront higher cost structures and much more inspection and regulation. This will eventually be reflected in higher oil prices. These strategic cost changes will pile on the geopolitical risks associated with oil. The current news from the Middle East is an example of cause with the outcome being a higher oil price.
The GOM events have given a boost to onshore crude drilling activity and alternate energy sector expansion. These and domestic natural gas will have some positive impact over time. Any expectations of immediate results in those areas are problematic and limited.
2) Do we lack ideas for fixing the financial woes facing Minnesota cities, or do we lack people willing to listen to solutions? The Minnesota League of Cities has launched a Web site -- with accompanying video -- to engage residents.
What do you think? What city services do you and your family use?
What would it mean for you if those services were reduced or eliminated?
How should these services be paid for?
3) While we were commenting last week on the string of suicides at a Chinese manufacturing facility that makes the iPhone and iPad, American workers were killing themselves, too.
Charles Lattarulo, clinical director for employee assistance program (EAP) provider Harris, Rothenberg International, said suicides and attempted suicides among the 2,600 organizations and 8 million employees they cover surged after December 2008.
"We used to get these types of calls once a week, maybe once every two weeks. Now we get a suicidal call every single day," he said, and as a result he's had to provide additional crisis management training for his staff. "Our EAP counselors have been transformed this past year from EAP counselors to crisis counselors because it's so common now."
4) Could Texas' decision to teach its students more about Jefferson Davis, and less about Thomas Jefferson spread to Minnesota? Texas, because it has a statewide curriculum, usually dictates what textbooks are used in the rest of the nation.
Tomorrow On Thursday on MPR's Midday, we're unveiling a new documentary, The Great Textbook War, which will consider the question and also discuss what Minnesota's kids should learn. I'll be live-blogging the discussion in MPR's UBS Forum (there's still room for you!). Today, however, an Associated Press story suggests Texas' departure from the norm may not spread as much as feared. Textbook companies say technology will allow them to more easily print different textbooks for different states. ""Why would we walk in with stuff that we know might be rejected and knock us out of a business opportunity?" one official says.
5) In Europe, naturally, they've launched the Let's Colour Project, an effort to "transform grey spaces with vibrant colour. A mission to spread colour all over the world." They actually painted all the buildings in this film.
There. We started with the earth opening up and swallowing a building. And ended with others painting theirs purple. It's quite a planet, isn't it?
Twin Cities nurses plan to stage a one-day strike on June 10. Are there professions that should not have the option of going on strike?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The oil spill and the political fallout.
Second hour: Hip Hop artist Brother Ali is a member of Minneapolis' Rhymesayers collective. His latest album is called "Us."
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Louis Johnston, economics professor at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict. bv
Second hour: TBA
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Israel's attack on the Palestinian aid flotilla.
Second hour: TBA(4 Comments)
The Gulf oil spill's joint information center has released this Coast Guard video of a pelican being washed of oil -- part of the "modest" environmental damage (as BP's CEO predicted a week or so ago).
Unclear is how many times the pelican will be back for more cleaning.
And this new video from the Louisiana Department of Fisheries and Wildlife explains why it's like to get worse.
They said it would never last; it didn't.
After 40 years of marriage, Al and Tipper Gore are getting a divorce, it was announced today. Face it, you didn't buy that kiss back in 2000, did you? It was a little too passionate for married folk.(6 Comments)
Keep this in mind if your employer moves your office and adds another 17 miles to your commute: You can't get unemployment compensation if you quit over the issue.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals today overturned an unemployment law judge's ruling that a Good Thunder woman, who already had a 170-mile daily commute to her office in Bloomington , is not entitled to unemployment compensation because her company moved 17 miles farther to St. Paul.
Under Minnesota law, an employee who quits isn't eligible for unemployment unless the employer does something "that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment."
But the court said transportation to and from work "was ultimately her responsibility, not the employer's." It said Sara Werner "created the commuting condition that contributed to the increased time and expense by choosing to reside in Good Thunder."
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has cut in half an award to a Minneapolis couple who alleged police discrimination in a 2006 incident at an impound lot.
As described in this 2008 article in City Pages, this case goes back to a September 2006 incident in which a group African and African Americans had to wait for more than an hour to get their cars out of an impound lot. A police officer was called when one banged on the Plexiglas of the impound lot clerk's "cage," and events were off and running.
The white female officer, Julie Casper, immediately began yelling at the group of predominantly middle-aged black folks. "The next person to touch the Plexiglas, swear, or raise their voice will go to jail for disorderly conduct," Casper purportedly bellowed at the group. "I want you all to shut up and behave yourselves."
The Cannons were taken aback by the hostility. Lois attempted to make the case that it wasn't necessary for the officer to use such a belligerent tone. The response from Officer Casper: "I will use whatever tone I damn well please."
James attempted to intervene, explaining to the officer that they'd been waiting for close to an hour. This tack didn't work either. "I don't care if you've been waiting four days," the officer yelled back.
At this point the Cannons decided to leave. Lois wrote down the female officer's badge number and informed her that they'd be filing a complaint regarding her conduct.
The Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights (on which Cannon had previously served) awarded Cannon $10,000 for mental anguish, $5,000 for future mental anguish and then doubled the award for a total of $30,000. It also added Cannon's $22,000 in legal fees.
The court said Cannon "had a good-faith and reasonable belief that Officer Hagan's conduct was discriminatory in nature."
The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said...
The record indicates three instances of adverse action on the part of the officers. First, after Cannon stated that he would be filing a complaint, Officer Hagen responded that Cannon could not do anything to her. This testimony was specifically credited by the commission; and a statement of this nature could certainly seem intimidating and harassing to an individual who had just voiced a desire to file a complaint against that person. Second, when Lois attempted to obtain Officer Hagen‟s badge number in order to file the complaint, Officer Hagen responded by yelling, "Yeah, you got my badge number! My badge number is 1019, got that?" Depending on the speaker‟s tone and volume, this conduct also amounts to both intimidation and harassment. And finally, when Cannon and his family attempted to leave Wrecker‟s, Officer Meath followed them into the parking lot and wrote down the license-plate number of their vehicle. The acts of following Cannon and his family outside and writing down their license-plate number could also be intimidating, as even Officer Meath conceded. We therefore conclude that the record contains substantial evidence to support the commission‟s conclusion that Officer Hagen and Officer Meath engaged in adverse actions following Cannon‟s statement that he was going to file a complaint.
But the court said Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights lacked authority to double the award to Cannon, and knocked the award down to $15,000.1 Comments)
Posted at 3:01 PM on June 1, 2010
by Bob Collins
Are deals between Medtronic and physicians "innovation through collaboration," or sweetheart deals to drum up some business?
Medtronic has unveiled a Web site that reports financial arrangements between the company and physicians. It's doing so voluntarily, although a federal law takes effect in 2013 that requires such deals be made public.
The move comes in advance of a federal law requiring the disclosures by 2013, and after Medtronic has drew the attention of the Justice Department for its payments to orthopedic surgeons. Some lawmakers have said the money is used to pay doctors to recommend their products.
Medtronic released information on doctors who received more than $5,000 in payments for a calendar year. In the first quarter, the company paid more than $15 million to doctors, mostly for royalties for their surgical inventions.
The company paid $40 million a few years ago to settle a federal complaint that it paid kickbacks to doctors in exchange for recommending Medtronic products.
Sherburne County authorities have arrested a pilot who crashed his ultralight into Elk Lake in Zimmerman. He was detained on suspicion of drunk, ummm, flying.
I know what you're thinking. How often does this happen?
Not often. The Federal Aviation Administration takes the issue much more seriously than your typical state motor vehicle department. Penalties for drinking and flying are much more severe.
FAA rules prohibit a blood-alcohol reading of .04 (compared to .08 for driving a car). Pilots are also not allowed to fly if they've had any alcoholic beverage within the previous 8 hours.
In addition, any action involving driving under the influence on a boat, snowmobile or car requires the pilot to notify the FAA of the offense and a pilot could lose his certificate.
It does happen, as this August 2009 News Cut post showed.(4 Comments)