1) HUMILIATION FLIES FREE
Maybe it's time for the airlines to pay us to fly.
A three-year-old girl in Tennessee started screaming the other day when security officials at an airport made her put her Teddy Bear onto the X-ray machine. She set off the metal detector, so she got the "pat down" treatment. Her father is a TV reporter.
Update: The Tribune Company has been pulling this video down whenever it pops up on YouTube.
"You feel like they are feeling up your crotch. I read about this in the newspaper and thought, 'What's the big deal?' Now I get it," Michal Kisilevitz, 43, of Washington, D.C, told the Star Tribune.
Earlier this week I passed along the story of a San Diego man who gave up trying to fly rather than be groped or be scanned. The Department of Homeland Security said it may prosecute him for leaving the airport, citing a federal law requiring anyone who starts a security review at the airport to finish it. Yesterday, I asked the Transportation Security Administration for a copy of the law. It refused to provide it.
More aviation: Few mainstream media will likely pick up this story, but a highly-regarded aviation blogger has detailed why you should perhaps think twice about flying the Airbus A380.
2) THE POOR ARE MORE IN TUNE WITH YOU
Being poor and less educated may make you better at empathy, new research says. "This is fascinating," Vladas Griskevicius, a University of Minnesota psychologist who was not involved in the study, told Livescience.
"Most researchers would expect that people from higher-SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds would be better at reading other people," Griskevicius said. "But this research finds that people from lower-SES backgrounds are more attuned to what others are thinking and feeling."
3) WHAT THE VOTERS SAID
There were a few stories about exit polls but the American Enterprise Institute has put them all together. Here's the one I find most interesting:
Homosexuals were 3 percent of voters, about what their share of the electorate has been in recent elections. But this year, self-identified gays, lesbians, and bisexuals looked more Republican than they did in either 2006 or 2008. In those years, 24 and 19 percent, respectively, voted for GOP candidates. This year, 30 percent did. Forty percent of voters in House races checked the box saying that same-sex marriages should be legally recognized. Fifty-four percent said they should not be.
4) SNAPSHOTS FROM OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
A man who killed an elderly Mahnomen County couple says he was off his meds when he killed them. But he had the meds. He said he stopped taking them because he feared the state medical insurance plans would change and he'd run out of them. So he stopped taking them and stockpiled them.
5) FACES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a series of TV ads to convince people not to drive while talking on their phones. One features a woman from Rudolph, Wisconsin (just this side of Stevens Point):
In the Chicago area yesterday, a judge denied Lori Hunt's request to get out of jail more often. She already gets out during the day to go to her job, even though she killed a motorcyclist. She was painting her nails at the time.
"We've lost my mom forever, and (Hunt) gets to see her family and friends every day of the week because someone is always giving her a ride home," the motorcyclist's son said. "She's never been in jail at all for killing my mom. She's never had to wear the jail uniform."
Bonus: Today is National Unfriend Day.
Republicans in Washington have stepped up their campaign against earmarks, the process that allows members of Congress to direct funds to particular projects. Is doing away with earmarks a good idea?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: America's soaring deficit is the focus of much debate in Washington, and the New York Times is tapping into the collective wisdom of its readers to help solve the problem.
Second hour: San Francisco takes aim at McDonald's Happy Meals by requiring restaurant meals to meet certain nutritional guidelines in order to include a toy with the food purchase. Will these types of actions change our children's health? Should parents or the government police the quality of meals?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Congressional expert Norman Ornstein previews tomorrow's meeting of the president and the congressional leaders.
Second hour: Another debate from the Intelligence Squared series: Should terrorists be treated like enemy combatants or criminals?
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.
Second hour: TBA
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Minnesota organizations in west central part of the state have received a grant to increase number of geriatric nurses. In the next five years, 3,000 additional nurses are necessary and now programs at technical schools are gearing up. MPR's Dan Gunderson reports.
Minneapolis' Children's Hospital is holding its grand opening today following a $230 million dollar renovation. It's one of three new or expanding hospitals for kids in the region. MPR's Lorna Benson tours of all of them.
Minnesota is so water-rich, most of us don't worry about preserving or protecting our water. But a new study from the University of Minnesota says some parts of the state are in danger of running out of water. The report also says many of our water rules are inadequate; some others are ignored; and in general we need a more comprehensive approach to water. MPR's Stephanie Hemphill will have the story.
New Flyer officials hold their regular conference call with investors amid signs that the stimulus isn't paying the dividends once forecast for the maker of energy-efficient buses. Ambar Espinoza is monitoring.(8 Comments)
How do you explain Minnesota to people who've never been here?
You show them this, which someone shot after the big snowfall over the weekend.(8 Comments)
James Ehrler of Stanchfield, Minnesota got some national Web love from The Atlantic's James Fallows today for a letter he wrote to Sen. Amy Klobuchar about the increased security screening at the nation's airports:
Fallows is calling on Klobuchar and other members of Congress "to help set the liberty-versus-security balance."
What is that balance? For one thing, Noah Shachtman writes in today's Wall Street Journal, it means a security system that focuses less on what terrorists tried last time, and more focus on an intelligence-based program, to head off the most likely assault in the future:
It's the same kind of trade-off TSA implicitly provided when it ordered us to take off our sneakers (to stop shoe bombs) and to chuck our water bottles (to prevent liquid explosives). Security guru Bruce Schneier, a plaintiff in the scanner suit, calls this "magical thinking . . . Descend on what the terrorists happened to do last time, and we'll all be safe. As if they won't think of something else." Which, of course, they invariably do. Attackers are already starting to smuggle weapons in body cavities, going where even the most adroit body scanners do not tread. No wonder that the Israelis, known for the world's most stringent airport security, have so far passed on the scanners.
And, finally, the Taiwanese animation firm, NMA, which has made a name for itself by quickly animating news events, today released its version of the current airport screening controversy.
Scattered violence and protests in Haiti are curtailing some relief activities there, but so far it hasn't appeared to slow the Minneapolis-based American Refuge Committee.
NPR reported today that the U.N. has stopped shipping medical supplies to the country still struggling to recover from an earthquake earlier this year.
So far, the UN has been forced to cancel flights carrying soap, medical supplies and personnel to Cap Haitien and Port de Paix. On the ground, Oxfam reports suspension of a project to chlorinate water for 300,000 people in slum areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has halted training of medical staff in cholera response and a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse has been looted of 500 metric tonnes of food and burned. Road blocks set up by demonstrators are also hampering people from getting to hospital.
Some Haitians are blaming U.N. troops for bringing cholera to the island. Some relief groups have suspended their operations.
I checked with Therese Gales of the ARC, who reports:
Basically, while we are aware of the protests and our team is on heightened security alert due to the blockades, we have not experienced any problems directly. Our team is not being targeted. In fact, we have the acceptance and cooperation of our camp residents in Terrain Acra Camp (a camp we manage, which is home to more than 10,000 people and is located in Port-au-Prince) in the operation of a cholera treatment unit we opened in the middle of camp in response to the cholera crisis. We are lucky to have the trust of our camp residents in this particular matter.
CHOLERA RESPONSE: FYI--To respond to the cholera crisis, the American Refugee Committee team has been:
- spreading health messages door-to-door and by megaphone
- distributing water purification tablets to ensure clean water
- increasing the frequency of cleaning latrines
- increasing the chlorination level of trucked water
- distributing soap
- reinforcing our health- and hygiene-promotion activities
- expanding training for medical staff and community health workers on cholera to help stop the spread of the disease.
- We opened a cholera treatment unit in Terrain Acra Camp...
- We also are focusing on ORPs (oral rehydration posts) in the surrounding community, which we provide through mobile clinics.
Gales says ARC is providing services directly to over 80,000 people Haiti. More info is on their Web site.(1 Comments)
Brian Fischer, an official with the American Family Association, is getting some well-deserved criticism today for criticizing recent recipients of the Medal of Honor because they were honored for saving lives, not taking them.
Fischer wrote on his blog yesterday that the award for heroism has been "feminized."
So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?
I would suggest our culture has become so feminized that we have become squeamish at the thought of the valor that is expressed in killing enemy soldiers through acts of bravery. We know instinctively that we should honor courage, but shy away from honoring courage if it results in the taking of life rather than in just the saving of life. So we find it safe to honor those who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies.
Perhaps Mr. Fischer would like to give Minnesota's Leo Thorsness a call. The Walnut Grove native got his Medal of Honor the way Mr. Fischer objects to: by saving lives.
Here's the citation from his Vietnam service:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As pilot of an F- 105 aircraft, Lt. Col. Thorsness was on a surface-to-air missile suppression mission over North Vietnam. Lt. Col. Thorsness and his wingman attacked and silenced a surface-to-air missile site with air-to-ground missiles, and then destroyed a second surface-to-air missile site with bombs. In tile attack on the second missile site, Lt. Col. Thorsness' wingman was shot down by intensive antiaircraft fire, and the 2 crewmembers abandoned their aircraft. Lt. Col. Thorsness circled the descending parachutes to keep the crewmembers in sight and relay their position to the Search and Rescue Center. During this maneuver, a MIG-17 was sighted in the area. Lt. Col. Thorsness immediately initiated an attack and destroyed the MIG. Because his aircraft was low on fuel, he was forced to depart the area in search of a tanker. Upon being advised that 2 helicopters were orbiting over the downed crew's position and that there were hostile MlGs in the area posing a serious threat to the helicopters, Lt. Col. Thorsness, despite his low fuel condition, decided to return alone through a hostile environment of surface-to-air missile and antiaircraft defenses to the downed crew's position. As he approached the area, he spotted 4 MIG-17 aircraft and immediately initiated an attack on the MlGs, damaging 1 and driving the others away from the rescue scene. When it became apparent that an aircraft in the area was critically low on fuel and the crew would have to abandon the aircraft unless they could reach a tanker, Lt. Col. Thorsness, although critically short on fuel himself, helped to avert further possible loss of life and a friendly aircraft by recovering at a forward operating base, thus allowing the aircraft in emergency fuel condition to refuel safely. Lt. Col. Thorsness' extraordinary heroism, self-sacrifice, and personal bravery involving conspicuous risk of life were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.
Fischer wouldn't be able to call Kenneth Olson of Willmar, because the Medal of Honor recipient was killed in Vietnam, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Olson distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a team leader with Company A. Sp4c. Olson was participating in a mission to reinforce a reconnaissance platoon which was heavily engaged with a well-entrenched Viet Cong force. When his platoon moved into the area of contact and had overrun the first line of enemy bunkers, Sp4c. Olson and a fellow soldier moved forward of the platoon to investigate another suspected line of bunkers. As the 2 men advanced they were pinned down by intense automatic weapons fire from an enemy position 10 meters to their front. With complete disregard for his safety, Sp4c. Olson exposed himself and hurled a hand grenade into the Viet Cong position. Failing to silence the hostile fire, he again exposed himself to the intense fire in preparation to assault the enemy position. As he prepared to hurl the grenade, he was wounded, causing him to drop the activated device within his own position. Realizing that it would explode immediately, Sp4c. Olson threw himself upon the grenade and pulled it in to his body to take the full force of the explosion. By this unselfish action Sp4c. Olson sacrificed his own life to save the lives of his fellow comrades-in-arms. His extraordinary heroism inspired his fellow soldiers to renew their efforts and totally defeat the enemy force. Sp4c. Olson's profound courage and intrepidity were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Richard Sorenson of Anoka suffered the same fate, doing the same thing:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault battalion attached to the 4th Marine Division during the battle of Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 1-2 February 1944. Putting up a brave defense against a particularly violent counterattack by the enemy during invasion operations, Pvt. Sorenson and 5 other marines occupying a shellhole were endangered by a Japanese grenade thrown into their midst. Unhesitatingly, and with complete disregard for his own safety, Pvt. Sorenson hurled himself upon the deadly weapon, heroically taking the full impact of the explosion. As a result of his gallant action, he was severely wounded, but the lives of his comrades were saved. His great personal valor and exceptional spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of almost certain death were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
And so did Dale Wayrynen of Moose Lake:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Wayrynen distinguished himself with Company B, during combat operations near Duc Pho. His platoon was assisting in the night evacuation of the wounded from an earlier enemy contact when the lead man of the unit met face to face with a Viet Cong soldier. The American's shouted warning also alerted the enemy who immediately swept the area with automatic weapons fire from a strongly built bunker close to the trail and threw hand grenades from another nearby fortified position. Almost immediately, the lead man was wounded and knocked from his feet. Sp4c. Wayrynen, the second man in the formation, leaped beyond his fallen comrade to kill another enemy soldier who appeared on the trail, and he dragged his injured companion back to where the point squad had taken cover. Suddenly, a live enemy grenade landed in the center of the tightly grouped men. Sp4c. Wayrynen, quickly assessing the danger to the entire squad as well as to his platoon leader who was nearby, shouted a warning, pushed one soldier out of the way, and threw himself on the grenade at the moment it exploded. He was mortally wounded. His deep and abiding concern for his fellow soldiers was significantly reflected in his supreme and courageous act that preserved the lives of his comrades. Sp4c. Wayrynen's heroic actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the service, and they reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
According to his biography, Mr. Fischer did not serve in the Armed Forces. He went to a seminary.
You can read all of the citations for every Medal of Honor winner here.(7 Comments)