1) LESSONS OF THE FALL
Thanks to the overnight rain, plenty of leaves are on the ground. They're mocking you. It is now officially fall -- thank you for visiting us, sun, won't you come again? -- and few things get people to choose sides like this issue: burning leaves.
This is, of course, Minnesota. We like to burn things, and we like to sit and watch it burn. We like our lawns. We hate our leaves. The solution is simple: Burn them. But that was the old way and we're smarter now, allegedly.
In Brainerd, for example, the City Council appears to be split on whether to ban the burning of leaves. One council member said it requires common sense: Don't burn when the wind is blowing toward a neighbor's house. In my community, the wind is always blowing toward some neighbor's house.
I think my community bans burning leaves. So I rake them up, and stuff them into a large plastic yard bags (which you can't use anymore if you use a trash hauler to remove them), with the intent to take them over to the compost site. Maybe I'll do it next Saturday when it's open. Or the Saturday after that.
Here's a picture of a bag of leaves I raked up last fall. I just never got around to taking them to the compost site.
The bags are shredded, the leaves are half-composted. I think there's some bees that live in there. After the next frost, maybe I'll "repackage" these and take them over to the compost site. Maybe.
Or maybe I'll burn them once the wind shifts toward the neighbors who keep burning their leaves when the wind blows toward mine.
2) FEE TO BE YOU AND ME
Does any industry work harder to drive customers away than the airline business. The Deets' Ed Kohler has noticed yet another fee -- $8 to pre-assign your seat. Check Ed's graphic. People will pay $8 in advance just to get a middle seat?
3) TEEN SUICIDE: SHOULD WE SAY IT?
MPR's Tom Weber lifts the cover on an issue that some people want to keep covered -- suicides in area high schools. Tom reports that seven people have killed themselves in the past year in the Anoka-Hennepin district alone. Tom reports that some parents are urging changes in the district's attitude toward gay students, though he stresses that some, but not all, of the students who took their lives were not gay. Suicide is a crisis in our midst but because it doesn't get the attention that, for example, texting while driving gets, few people know about it unless the occasional letter comes home to parents. Some experts say mentioning it will increase the likelihood of copycat suicides. Indeed, in Tom's story, Superintendent Dennis Carlson says the idea worries him. But one suicide prevention expert told me earlier this year that only about 1 percent of teen suicides fell into the category.
There's some evidence, though, that the fear is warranted. Last year, a study in the UK showed suicides happen in clusters, New Scientist reported:
Numerous celebrity suicides have been linked with increased national suicide rates. After Marilyn Monroe took a sleeping pill overdose in 1962, researchers pointed to her death as a trigger for a 12 per cent rise in people in the US taking their own lives during the following month.
"As society becomes more focused on celebrities, and more celebrities are generated by programmes like Big Brother, the problem might get worse," says Mesoudi.
4) BRETT FAVRE PLUGGED IN
The NFL Network put a microphone on Brett Favre. Find out what he talks about between interceptions here.
5) IMPOSSIBLE SCENES THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED
Gizmodo's shooting challenge this week is collecting photographs of the same place at different times. Like the seagull invasion at the Duluth Lift Bridge.
(h/t: Derek Schille, who leads all News Cut readers on contributions. Do you feel guilty about that? Good.)
Video of Rep. Mark Buesgens' field sobriety test. He flunked.
(h/t: City Pages)
One Minnesota legislator recently lost her home to foreclosure, while at least one other lawmaker is facing foreclosure proceedings now. How does the state of a politician's personal finances affect your vote?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Religion and the environmental movement.
Second hour: Talking Volumes with Jonathan Franzen.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Meteorologist Paul Douglas.
Second hour: President Obama's speech to the United Nations.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: An assessment of Obama's speech.
Second hour: The U.N. and the lives of women.
The heavy rain in the Twin Cities today is what the people in southern Minnesota had most of the night and they're certainly paying the price. Overland flooding and stream flooding is threatening homes, causing some evacuations, and shutting down roads.
Through the day we'll be updating things on NewsQ and providing links to coverage elsewhere.
5:00 p.m. - Planning on driving in the area? Consult this map of trouble spots from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
3:54 p.m. - Owatonna.com has some interesting pictures. Note the stalled car(s) where they tried to drive through standing water. We're always told not to do that, but back in 2009, I did, knowing full well it was a stupid thing to do.
3:26 p.m. - Paul Douglas tweets, "Had this same storm come in late October - Nov. metro would have picked up 25-35" snow, closer to 80" southern MN. Yes, could be worse." Memo to self: tune-up snowblower this weekend.
1:57 p.m. Downtown Pine Island. Click for a larger view.
12:37 p.m. - KSTP has some raw video of the flooding.
12:27 p.m. - An amazing picture from Pine Island from MPR's Jeffrey Thompson. This isn't a river. It's a street.
12:23 p.m. - Pine Island is looking for volunteers to help sandbag the city.Call the Emergency Operations Center at 507-356-8905 or 507-356-4591.
11:37 a.m. - This video, and accompanying pretty music, invites a reopening of an old debate between many drivers. Does the high speed windshield wiper do anything more than throw more rain on the window?
11:36 a.m. - Update from Amboy, according to Douglas: 10.45"
11:10 a.m. - Some evacuations are underway in St. James. An assisted living facility is being evacuated as a precaution, according to the mayor via Twitter.
11:09 a.m. - 10" in South Branch, according to Paul Douglas. 9" in Amboy. "This is roughly three months worth of rain falling in 12-18 hours," he says. "I don't think anybody in their right mind thought we'd be seeing 10" of rain in this system. That's equivalent to a hurricane's worth of rain."
11:06 a.m. - MPR's Midday is providing live coverage of the flooding now. The guest is meteorologist Paul Douglas. Listen here.
11:03 a.m. - Arcadia, Wisconsin seems particularly hard hit. Schools are closed as are the two largest employers in town -- both processing plants. The Arcadia News Leader says residents are being warned not to go out.ot allowed on the roads
11:02 a.m. - Very compelling images from the Owatonna area on the Star Tribune site.
10:50 a.m. - The busiest route affected so far has been Highway 52 which was closed, reopened and now -- according to KTTC, is closed again. Here's a list of some closed roads in the area and some images from the scene.(2 Comments)
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued this news release on what it classifies as a "near midair" over Minneapolis St. Paul.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a near midair collision between a commercial jetliner and a small cargo aircraft that came within an estimated 50 to 100 feet of colliding near the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
On September 16, 2010, about 6:49 a.m. CDT, US Airways flight 1848 (AWE 1848), an Airbus 320, was cleared for takeoff on runway 30R en route to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, carrying five crewmembers and 90 passengers.
At the same time, Bemidji Aviation Services flight 46 (BMJ46), a Beech 99 cargo flight with only the pilot aboard, was cleared for takeoff on runway 30L en route to La Crosse,
Wisconsin. Weather conditions at the time were reported as a 900-foot ceiling and 10 miles visibility below the clouds.
Immediately after departure, the tower instructed the US Airways crew to turn left and head west, causing the flight to cross paths with the cargo aircraft approximately one-
half mile past the end of runway 30L. Neither pilot saw the other aircraft because they were in the clouds, although the captain of the US Airways flight reported hearing the Beech 99 pass nearby. Estimates based on recorded radar data indicate that the two aircraft had 50 to 100 feet of vertical separation as they passed each other approximately 1500 feet above the ground.
The US Airways aircraft was equipped with a Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) that issued climb instructions to the crew to avert collision. The Beech 99 was not equipped with TCAS and the pilot was unaware of the proximity of the Airbus. There were no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the incident.
NTSB and FAA investigators conducted a preliminary investigation at the Minneapolis airport traffic control tower on September 18th and 19th and are continuing to review
the circumstances of this incident.
In the past, when I've forwarded these reports of near mishaps, some pilots have suggested it's much ado about nothing. This is different. Fifty-to-100 feet in the clouds? That's a big deal.
To help you visualize these things, both planes took off on parallel runways, heading in the same direction. That happens all the time. Turning one plane into the path of another is highly unusual.
Update 11:55 a.m. - Here's the audio of the conversations that morning. The controller ordered the left turn -- to the south -- for the Bemidji flight as he gave the flight permission to take off. Normally, that turn would begin when about 500 feet off the ground, probably before the end of the runway. The turn would send the plane away from the parallel runway, where the US Air jet was also taking off.
A few minutes later, the controller asks the Bemidji flight if he's "in the turn." The pilot doesn't understand the question and asks for it to be repeated. It's not repeated (see note below). A minute or so later, the pilot asks to change frequencies to the departure controller and is granted the request. From the sound of things, that happened after the near miss. The controller asks, "why didn't you start the turn after departure?" The pilot's radio is nearly unintelligible.
The clearance and any conversation with the US Air plane is not on the tower tape (which I've edited and telescoped), raising the possibility that it was occurring on another frequency. I'll post that frequency tape in a moment.
Update 12:17 p.m. - As suspected, there were two planes on two different frequencies here. Here's the tape of the "departure frequency" when the US Air pilot (Known as "Cactus" because it's an Air West flight operating under the US Air colors) reports the near miss. The controller says he thought the Bemidji flight was going to go straight.
As with most disasters -- and near disasters -- this looks like the typical "chain of events," the breaking of any one of which -- repeating a question, repeating an instruction, knowing what each plan was for each airplane -- would've prevented it.
Of course, an investigation will take place, but this one isn't going to be hard to figure out. (Audio via LiveATC.net)
Update 3:08 p.m. I'll be on All Things Considered tonight to talk about this and Steven John asked me what could have prevented this. I don't have all the facts on this case so it's informed speculation at best. But as a pilot, there are a couple of things I noticed:
On the tower tape, I did not hear either a request from the LaCrosse-bound flight to change to the departure controller's frequency or an instruction to change to departure frequency. I don't know if that's even required (although I believe it is, I don't have my rulebook at work). But the tower controller asked two minutes after the La Crosse-bound flight took off whether the pilot had made the turn? That would indicate that the controller knew the guy was still on his frequency, wouldn't it?
The Bemidji pilot did not repeat the full clearance he got to take off, but he wasn't required to. Some of us private pilots like to repeat the whole thing (including the instruction to turn left), so that a controller can pick up on our mistake and correct it before it's a problem.
The departure frequency tape indicates another possible problem. This incident occurred right at that moment when a pilot makes a transition from tower to departure. In fact, as you can hear, the US Air pilot asks "what's this guy doing off our left" before the departure controller confirms that he's got the US Air flight on his radar. That's a really icky time for things to fall through the cracks.
There's also a bit of confusion from the departure controller what instructions had been given to the La Crosse-bound aircraft.
Humans make mistakes. That's going to happen. The FAA will undoubtedly be looking at ways to break the chain of human mistakes that usually are the hallmark of any aviation disaster. Handing out any discipline, hopefully, will be secondary.
Update 5:21 p.m. - Here's my interview on All Things Considered:
7:50 p.m. - Very important point to consider from Dave Pascoe at liveatc.net:
One small thing to keep in mind in your analysis (which after a very quick read I think is right on the mark) - the receivers near KMSP scan between several frequencies. One scans both Tower freqs. The other scans several Approach/Departure freqs. So blocking can and does occur from time to time. It is important to understand that just because a transmission wasn't heard on the recording doesn't mean it didn't happen (like a readback or Tower switching an aircraft to Departure).
I mentioned earlier that there wasn't a repeat on the tape of the question about the lack of a turn. My guess is that was repeated and wasn't picked up.(26 Comments)
There was a piece of last evening's All Things Considered interview with Archbishop John Nienstedt that didn't make it to the the final product because of time constraints. Nienstedt answered questions about a DVD being sent to 400,000 Catholics throughout the state in which church leaders cal for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to be put before Minnesota voters.
The story started on KSTP the other night. The archbishop says when he gave the interview to the station, the subject.
"Throughout the conversation, the word homosexual or same sex or gay was never mentioned.
The station's Web site has two stories posted. One is a text story, which quotes the archbishop from a previous speech, called "In defense of Marriage and Family."
A video post several hours later carried two comments from the archbishop, none longer than 10 seconds. None of the facts in the story, however, appear to be in dispute other than the archbishop does not believe the DVD constitutes an "attack" on homosexuals. But that word wasn't part of the station's report.
Given that the station interviewed the archbishop after his speech, it would appear the archbishop's complaint is that the station didn't tell him that it knew about the DVD.
A transcript of the edited interview with the archbishop has now been posted on the All Things Considered page.
In the wake of the story, some have suggested the church cannot be involved in a debate over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage because it violates laws about the political activities of non-profits.
It doesn't appear to.
The rules for non-profits are they can't work on behalf of a particular candidate. They are free to weigh in on issues.
According to the IRS:
Organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
It's a somewhat finer line, however, when it comes to lobbying:
An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.
Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
The church says the DVDs are educational.(8 Comments)
Has Rep. Mark Buesgens' privacy been violated by Wednesday's release of video of his field sobriety test by Wright County authorities?
State Rep. John Lesch, former state representative Duke Powell, and I have been having a conversation about this on Twitter and the jury is still out... somewhat.
Powell contacted Wright County authorities in the belief that releasing the tape violates the state's Data Practices Act. The authorities said the tape could be released because their investigation is complete, according to Powell.
An inspection of the law doesn't answer the question because video is not mentioned. Here are the relevant parts of the law. It states that material used in an arrest is confidential while the case is "active."
Investigative data collected or created by a law enforcement agency in order to prepare a case against a person, whether known or unknown, for the commission of a crime or other offense for which the agency has primary investigative responsibility is confidential or protected nonpublic while the investigation is active.
Usually, law enforcement authorities stymie journalists' attempts to get information by claiming an investigation is "active." This particular controversy stems from the assertion that this one isn't.
A criminal investigation becomes "inactive" (that is, the video could be released) when the police or prosecutors decide not to prosecute or the time prosecutors have to file charges expires.
Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, isn't happy with the release of the Buesgens arrest video. "Defendants are tried in court, not in the press. Just like reporters jealously guard the sanctity of their own sources," he told me via Twitter. Lesch chairs the House Crime Records/Criminal Records Division and says he'd like to have his committee take a look at the release of the video.
Getting a definitive answer from state officials in charge of the Data Practices Act isn't easy. Matt Gehring, a legislative analyst in the House of Representatives Research Department, wrote an overview of the act in July. He wasn't aware of a case involving the release of video but referred me to the Information Policy Analyst Division of the state Department of Administration. A recording at the office suggested leaving a message and they'd try to return the call within two days.
Wright County authorities did not ask for a determination by the Information Policy Analyst Division of the state Department of Administration, according to Jerrod Raulk, a policy analyst. He says the release of video is a "gray area" which is not specifically addressed in the law, but said there are several provisions a law enforcement agency could cite to justify its release.
But under the law, a criminal case can be considered "inactive" after the time expires for prosecutors to bring charges. That time came several days ago.(6 Comments)