1) FROM RIM TO RIM TO RIM
When I visited the Grand Canyon last year with the trophy wife, I ended up doing the mall-walking thing. I was the old man, huffing and puffing, trailing the in-much-better-shape spouse. It wasn't my finest moment, but it's a high elevation and all. I wanted to walk down into the canyon, but though the spirit is willing, the body is weak. It's a young man's trip.
So I was impressed yesterday when I heard about the plan of Redwood Falls native Nikolas Oman and two colleagues who intend to run the 46.5 miles through the Grand Canyon to raise some money for charity. They intend to do it in 24 hours.
"I've been outside running and cross country skiing more than anything right now," he told me last night. " I'm going to Norway on a military training exercise for a while in February. So I'm focusing on that more than the R2R2R. I'm a triathlete and usually ride and swim during the warmer parts of the year. I don't use any supplements like most other people so conditioning is critical to the success of our goal."
Apparently, this can be done as this video proves:
The trio is raising money for the Armed Forces Foundation and Diabetes Action. Learn more about their quest here.
2) DO FACTS MATTER ANYMORE?
The shooting in Tucson earlier this month was blamed on political rhetoric long before there were sufficient facts to support the conclusion, a young man's death in central Minnesota last weekend was blamed on gay bullying before it was ruled the death was a suicide, and today MPR's Tom Scheck documents what most people probably already know -- if Michele Bachmann gets her facts right, she got lucky.
"We have checked her 13 times, and (found) seven of her claims to be false and six have been found to be ridiculously false," PolitiFact editor Bill Adair told Scheck.
The indictment is as much reflection on us as anyone else. "Respect for facts just doesn't mean a whole lot any more,"Norm Ornstein said. "You don't get punished. You don't get shamed if you say things that are patently false. Let's face it: for many, repeating them over and over again -- even after you've been told and it's been made clear that what you say is false -- just doesn't have any impact at all."
Why not? Is that an indictment of people who speak with only a casual relationship with facts, or people who are willing to believe them? In the case of Bachmann, as I've written before, the more her district knows about her, the more popular she becomes. But everyone with an agenda has contributed to the lack of respect for facts.
If Ornstein is correct that respect for facts doesn't matter anymore, the real question is: Why not?
3) INSIDE THE HEALTH CARE WAYBACK MACHINE
Did the Founding Fathers require people to buy health insurance? Writing at Forbes.com, Rick Ungar says merchants marines were required to buy insurance as part of a health care plan:
Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.
However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.
Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.
4) FACES OF POVERTY
In rural Minnesota, poverty is people working harder and falling further behind. In Pine City, a volunteer effort involving city residents and the University of Minnesota tried to do something about it.
Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities today, poverty looks a little different -- people on the street. With last night's cold well predicted, workers and volunteers hit the streets to try to reach people who couldn't -- or wouldn't -- move in to shelters for the night, MPR's Dan Olson reported.
They didn't reach everyone. Reports this morning say a woman died in the cold when she tried to walk to the Harbor Lights shelter.
5) EMBRACING WINTER: HOCKEY HEAVEN
The backyard hockey rink. The video raises an important question...
... why don't kids care about the cold the way adults do?
Bonus: Here's a daydreaming idea to get you through the cold day:
The Metrodome is almost 30 years old and may need a whole new roof. Authorities aren't sure how long it will take to fix. What would you like to see happen with the Metrodome?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Doctors are "rock stars." Giffords is a "fighter." Her recovery is a "miracle." Ordinary people are "heroes." As we all root for Congresswoman Giffords, has the public, the media and the medical community turned her recovery into a primetime reality show?
Second hour: The first representatives of the Baby Boomer Generation are turning 65 this month, but whether it's due to the economy or their own personal preference, many are not ready to retire. Will boomers change the way we think of retirement?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: -- DHS commissioner Lucinda Jesson.
Second hour: TBA
Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: The future of the gulf. How does all that oil figure into long-term recovery for the wetlands?
Second hour: How the effects of climate change--including sea level rise, and acidification--are changing the oceans.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Some low-income kids in Minnesota struggle to get enough nutritious food over the weekend, when they aren't getting lunch at school. Now three Rochester schools are sending those kids home on Fridays with backpacks full of food. There's a hodgepodge of similar programs across the state, but they're hard to fund in the schools that need them most. MPR's Julie Siple will have the story.
There were a fair number of videos posted to YouTube from Minnesota today, each showing the time-tested past-time at this time of the year: Throwing hot water into the air to see it turn to steam (and then ice crystals). It never really gets old. Here's one from Tim Freeland at KYMN...
At News Cut, we're nothing if not curious. What other substances would work?
Here's the don't-try-this-at-home disclaimer: Don't try this at home. It's not shown on the video but when I tried to microwave the Scotch, I forgot about the properties of alcohol and after about a minute, the cup full of Scotch "flashed." No damage was done, but everything in the microwave will, presumably, smell of Scotch for a few days.
I'd hoped the orange juice would be more colorful, but that was not to be. I thought about pureeing cottage cheese and other substances, but I had to get to work.(12 Comments)
This was as close a look at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as anybody got today when she was transferred from the University of Tucson Medical Center to a waiting aircraft for a trip to a Houston rehab center. But that didn't stop people from gathering along the route.
Giffords' recovery from the tragic shooting that claimed six lives nearly two weeks ago is certainly heartwarming. It's a story that needs no embellishment, and yet it continues to get it.
"Why is so much of the expression around this so excessive?" Kerri Miller of MPR's Midmorning asked today. In particular, she focused on the assertion that Giffords' recovery is "a miracle."
"In part, it's because we are so disappointed, so taken aback by the horror of the events, that we want to have some kind of moral balance," ethicist Art Caplan said. "The flourishing the of the miracle language starts to be an antidote to the evil of the shooting. We want redemption. We want that event transformed into something positive, and one way to do it is to use religiously-tinged language about the recovery to get that redemption."
Caplan said the same word was used -- at least in the American press -- during the rescue of the miners in Chile. The European press, on the other hand, focused on the science of it. "I don't think it's an accident," Caplan said. "We tend to get religiously tinged language It's reaching out for that divine or religious theme as part of how we interpret and make sense of our world. It's just been the culture."
Deborah Tannen, the professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, says it's a glimpse into our culture..
"Anytime we confront a terrifying, unexpected death, in our daily life and public figures... what's overwhelming is the lack of control. Something happens suddenly that we have no control over, we couldn't foresee, and everything falls apart. We find ways to think about it that make sense," she said. "When people talk about how they met their spouse, they're horrified to think, 'Had I not gone to that party, my whole life would be different.' So they talk about it in terms of divine intervention."
Reader Jennifer Zick -- a scientist, she says -- responded to today's broadcast. "I agree with Art's comments about not wanting to take away people's hope in these situations, but I definitely think this language is overused. I, for one, do prefer to look at these situations as the result of determinism, because that is in fact the only explanation with any supporting evidence. It also avoids the trap of having to explain the counter situation -- if god is intervening in Giffords' care, why didn't he save the other victims?"
Listener Doug Bieniek of Duluth, however, says he could barely stand the show:
Forgive my impudence, but neither the host, nor the guests have the slightest understanding of the concepts involved with true believers operating in faith. For secular folks such as those on your show to try to discuss a miracle and discover meaning in such a concept is like asking a laborer in the fields to repair the damage Mrs. Giffords suffered. Frankly, it was abundantly clear you had no idea where to begin to talk about such a topic.
Folks are habituated to assigning religious terms to things they do not understand and often throw such terms around devoid the very high value our Creator and the faithful place upon them. They use them without the foundation necessary to grasp such concepts and more often than not misuse and abuse such terms, even going so far as to turn some of these sacred terms into cursing.
Let me explain, to breathe is a miracle. That I may grasp a pencil, or type this message and send it to you is no less a miracle. That Mrs. Giffords should recover from her wounds through the work of all those people around her is still, a miracle. The secular definition of a gift from a Creator God is ridiculous. If one can accept through faith where the power for such things comes from, it is an easy leap to the real truth of all things.
There are all kinds of rock stars in the bible. The difference, however, is those operating with a faithful understanding know where to point the adulation when it comes their way. One can look to science for the truth, but it only reflects the great power of the One God who created all things in the first place. To think differently, in my view, is arrogant and one dimensional. If you are not able to see past the science, which is a created thing, one can never hope to truly understand truth.
Here's the whole show.
Of course, everyone processes events differently. Some people invoke a divine intervention, others sell their toys:(2 Comments)
After the election in November, legislative leaders discouraged talk about what social issues the new Republican majority would pursue.
"If it doesn't have anything to do with business and jobs, it shouldn't be our first priority. If you don't have a job, it's hard to be involved in an abortion rally," Rep. Kurt Zellers, the speaker of the Minnesota House, told MPR's Gary Eichten.
"There's a lot of important issues and we will get to them. But the priority now is the budget, jobs, and the economy," Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch added.
Today, a bill restricting funding for abortion was submitted to the Minnesota Senate, co-sponsored by Koch. The bill, Senate File 103, is the first anti-abortion bill of the session (I'm not counting a bill for a Choose Life license plate).
Funding for state-sponsored health programs shall not be used for funding abortions, except to the extent necessary for continued participation in a federal program. For purposes of this section, abortion has the meaning given in Minnesota Statutes, section 144.343, subdivision 3.
The bill is aimed at the Minnesota Supreme Court's Doe vs. Gomez decision of 1995, which struck down a ban on state-funded abortions with three exceptions:
(a) The abortion is a medical necessity. "Medical necessity" means (1) the signed written statement of two physicians indicating the abortion is medically necessary to prevent the death of the mother, and (2) the patient has given her consent to the abortion in writing unless the patient is physically or legally incapable of providing informed consent to the procedure, in which case consent will be given as otherwise provided by law;
(b) The pregnancy is the result of criminal sexual conduct as defined in section 609.342, clauses (c), (d), (e)(i), and (f), and the incident is reported within 48 hours after the incident occurs to a valid law enforcement agency for investigation, unless the victim is physically unable to report the criminal sexual conduct, in which case the report shall be made within 48 hours after the victim becomes physically able to report the criminal sexual conduct; or
(c) The pregnancy is the result of incest, but only if the incident and relative are reported to a valid law enforcement agency for investigation prior to the abortion.
But the state Supreme Court struck down the ban, saying it amounted to the government interfering in a health care decision that is between a woman and her doctor:
..this court's decision will not permit any woman eligible for medical assistance to obtain an abortion "on demand." Rather, under our interpretation of the Minnesota Constitution's guaranteed right to privacy, the difficult decision whether to obtain a therapeutic abortion will not be made by the government, but will be left to the woman and her doctor.
Abortion foes have long claimed -- and the court acknowledged at the time -- that the Minnesota decision provided guarantees beyond those conveyed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its Roe v. Wade decision.
The bill filed today anticipates an eventual challenge to the Minnesota Supreme Court by adding a provision that if any part of the would-be law is struck down, the rest of it remains in place.
The state Supreme Court is also more conservative now than it was in 1995.
(comments closed)(24 Comments)
There's quite a media spat playing out in the Alexandria area following the death last weekend of a teenager, which some said was a suicide, and which his family said was a known medical condition (I wrote about this on News Cut earlier this week).
What we know is that Lance Lundsten is dead. What we don't know is why.
Several media in the area cited his friends in stories saying Lundsten was bullied for being gay, and that may have contributed to a suicide. The teen's father called media saying the coroner told him the death was due to an enlarged heart.
On that, the Alexandria Echo Press reported the death was because of a medical condition. KSAX, the local ABC affiliate in Alexandria, noted the father's story, but then quoted the coroner:
Douglas County Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Spanbauer said the preliminary autopsy report showed the teen did not die from an enlarged heart.
The teen's heart was slightly enlarged, but that finding was a secondary finding to an undetermined cause, according to Spanbauer.
Spanbauer said what actually caused Lundsten's heart to slightly swell was not yet known, as the final autopsy report was still in progress.
The Echo Press newspaper stayed with the father's version of the story, but then amped up the dispute with a blistering editorial against KSAX and Facebook.
Unfortunately, whipped up by the Facebook frenzy, the distorted story of Lundsten's death took on a life of its own. A TV station reported about the Facebook speculations and it snowballed quickly from there, getting reported by other media outlets as well - a sad case of media reporting what other media were reporting, even though it was untrue.
Some Jefferson High School students threatened a walk out, believing the school wasn't taking the bullying issue seriously enough.
Anti-bullying groups were quick to pick up on the death, spreading the story further. U.S. Senator Al Franken called attention to the incident to drum up support for anti-bullying legislation. Images of Lundsten connected to headlines of bullying and suicide popped up all over the Internet - even on a website in France.
It shouldn't have happened this way.
Echo Press editor Al Edenloff confirmed today the newspaper hasn't contacted the coroner, but based its editorial on the statement from the dead teen's family:
According to Lance's family, the coroner said Lance had cardiac edema and that no other contributing factor had been found during the preliminary investigation (note the word "preliminary"). The family said that all of the prescription pills in the home had been accounted for and there was no indication of drug use. However, as we stated in our story, it will take six to eight weeks for the complete toxicology results are determined. The KSAX story squares, in part, with what the family told us -- that Lance had cardiac edema. No one knows the exact cause of death yet, which the coroner also told KSAX. The cause won't be determined for another six to eight weeks and no one knows what that will reveal. We talked to the family on Tuesday morning and KSAX talked at the coroner at a later date. Its story came out Wednesday. To answer your question directly: No, we did not contact the coroner because at this point, no one, including him, knows the cause of death yet. We do know, however, that the coroner told the family Lance had cardiac edema and that's what we reported. We will be contacting the coroner when the results come back.
That requires a response from Christi Jessee, the news director if KSAX.
I find it very hypocritical that the Echo Press accuses KSAX-TV of reporting rumor and speculation, when it seems to be knowingly perpetuating it. Selective facts have been reported, but the most important facts released by official sources in this case are, deliberately it seems, ignored. The truth is not always comfortable. But journalists should not ignore facts in an effort to comfort a grieving family.
Dr. Spanbauer was not available when MPR News attempted to contact him today.