1) TOO MUCH PATRIOTISM?
Is it time to dial back the patriotic festivities at sporting events? Commentator Frank Deford thinks so:
It's also true that in the United States sports games are more associated with the military and mass displays of patriotism than are other amusements. I've always wondered why it is SOP -- standard operating procedure -- for the national anthem to be performed at games, when no one would ever expect "The Star-Spangled Banner" to be played at the theater or the opera or a rock concert or at the start of the Academy Awards this Sunday.
Why is this strictly an athletic devotion?
And, now, at the start of major sporting events, it's also obligatory to have military jets flash overhead. The Olympics sends up doves; we send up fighter planes.
And yet, it can be magic:
2) FIRESIDE SPAT
There's no other story in these parts these days than the one from Wisconsin. Here's Gov. Scott Walker's address to his people last night:
Sen. Mark Miller gave the Democrats' response.
At last check, the Wisconsin Assembly is still debating the bill that strips some public unions of collective bargaining rights. They've been going all night.
So here we are, pretty much the same place were were yesterday. We're talking about this on MPR's Midmorning this morning. Walker's comments are resonating with somebody. Several polls out of Wisconsin show he's got significant support, although at the moment the public unions are getting most of the attention.
Richard Hurd, a professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University, told All Things Considered last night about how collective bargaining rights vary state by state. His statistics were fascinating, including this one: Public employees usually have better wages than the private sector, but that's true in any state, whether there are unions or not. But public sector workers tend to be higher educated, he says, and on an education basis, are paid less than their private-sector counterparts.
The New York Times' editorial today takes the unions' side:
The game is up when unionized state workers demonstrate a sense of shared sacrifice but Republican lawmakers won't even allow them a seat at the table. For unions and Democrats in the Midwest, this is an existential struggle, and it is one worth waging.
And Mother Jones considers four possible ways this thing ends.
For the Daily Show, by the way, Wisconsin is comedy gold.
3) THE RAPE THAT DOESN'T END
In Maryland, about 10,000 parole hearings are held each year. Only about three rape victims show up each year to try to keep their attacker in prison. The Washington Post has today's must-read story of one of them.
4) SOUTH DAKOTA'S CHINA SYNDROME
In South Dakota, the House has sent a bill to the Senate requiring women to wait at least 72 hours after she meets with a counselor to determine if she is voluntarily seeking an abortion. The Argus Leader notes a new angle surrounding anti-abortion legislation: The need to compete with China:
"The United States is in a strategic competition with China. China is a country which has a military which teaches its soldiers to hate America, it's a country that grows 10 percent a year economically, it has something like 1.4 billion people, and I think that we need to safeguard our economic growth and our population in order to compete with China," (Rep. Brian) Liss said, adding his argument for the bill is "completely secular."
Opponents of the legislation point out South Dakota has voted against a ban on abortions twice.
5)GOING OUT WITH A BANG
We don't know very much about the circumstances surrounding this video. Only that family members of "Uncle Gerald" somewhere wanted to send him off with a fitting goodbye upon his recent death.
Bonus: The 9/11 Memorial Museum has just released a multimedia timeline, featuring new video.
Soon-to-be Viral Video of the Day: This is what it looked like in Japan when new Twins' player Tsuyoshi Nishioka came to bat.
The political uproar in Wisconsin may be spreading to Ohio, where a similar bill to curb collective bargaining rights for public employees is under consideration. Could what's happening in Wisconsin happen here?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The Wisconsin uprising.
Second hour:Is it still possible to reinvent yourself?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Rep. John Klinetalks about the Afghanistan war, the uprisings in the Arab world, and domestic concerns facing Congress.
Second hour: NPR's "Intelligence Squared" series debate: "Is The Two Party System Making America Ungovernable?"
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: States with budget problems.
Second hour: How Groupon is hurting old-line business.
Some rural western Wisconsin communities may be involved in another brewing battle at the Wisconsin Legislature.
An Osceola Republican, Rep. Erik Severson, has sponsored a bill to roll back a new law that requires municipal governments to disinfect drinking water.
"A lot of it is expense," he told the Cap Times. "When people in an area are not complaining about the drinking water, the water is good. The taxpayers there are saying 'Hey, we can't afford to pay for this.'"
Severson claims Balsam Lake in northwest Wisconsin, would have to spend more money to comply with the rule than its entire city budget, although the village trustee couldn't confirm that. The city's three wells have high levels of manganese.(1 Comments)
There's always some sort of billboard mystery in the Twin Cities. Is this one an actual example of graffiti vandalism or a clever publicity gimmick?
It involves a billboard in Minneapolis promoting the Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Someone covered up Venus:
The Los Angeles Times uncovered the attack on a tip from the -- wait for it -- publicist for the exhibition.
Update 9:56 a.m. 2/24: Two things. First: Those aren't the same billboards. Second: "This was no publicity stunt. It happened. A NY PR agency was in conversation with me that morning about something else and we were talking about it. It was also put out on social media by some members of our staff. It was no gag devised by us. Just to make it clear to you," writes Anne-Marie Wagener of the MIA.
The Big Picture blog is wading into the public employees controversy in Wisconsin by jumping into the data about how much public employees are paid in Wisconsin compared to their counterparts around the country (click for larger image).
"Lo and behold, it appears we might lay blame for the crisis at the feet of Wisconsin's Teacher Assistants, who are pulling down, on average (not median), $240 more than the $24,280 being paid to their counterparts in other states," the blog notes wryly.
For the record, however, the BLS numbers don't tell the entire story, since they only provide particulars on wages, not on total compensation, which of course includes benefits. The numbers also don't reflect the geographic differences in cost of living.
MPR's Tim Nelson takes the numbers a step further, comparing Wisconsin to its border states. Even then, Wisconsin is behind its upper Midwest neighbors in most every category.(1 Comments)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's spokesman, Cullen Werwie, has confirmed that that really is the governor on the other end of a phone call in which an online "journalist" pretended to be David Koch, one of the godfathers of the tea party movement.
The Governor takes many calls everyday. Throughout this call the Governor maintained his appreciation for and commitment to civil discourse. He continued to say that the budget repair bill is about the budget. The phone call shows that the Governor says the same thing in private as he does in public and the lengths that others will go to disrupt the civil debate Wisconsin is having.
The Buffalo Beast writer says he came up with the idea after Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tim Carpenter complained that Walker wouldn't return his calls.
The news from all of that? There really isn't
any much news.
We interrupt the steady drumbeat of depressing news for this message: It's not all bad out there.
Lucas Jatoba, an advertising executive, was leaving fond memories behind when he moved from Barcelona to Australia, so he sent seven balloons aloft with tickets to a play. Then, when a business heard about it, it donated 250 more and he repeated the stunt.
The event was reported by the blog, mUmBrella, which also featured one of the funniest comments reacting to the story:
"That's nice. When I left London, I went out and got absolutely wankered, vomitted in a cab, then again on Battersea Bridge. Not really the same is it?"
Democracy comes at a price. Today it's about $3.29. That's the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the Twin Cities today, a 16 cent jump in the last 48 hours and it's going to go higher.
Today, oil prices raced past the $100 a barrel, the highest price for oil in two years. At the heart of it is fear that the democratic wave spreading throughout the Middle East will increasingly affect oil supplies. In other words, everyone's quietly wondering if Saudi Arabia is next.
Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, told CBS that he expects a peak of between $3.25 and $3.75 per gallon of gasoline, a prediction that already seems outdated.
There's a lot more than the price of oil that goes into the price of a gallon of gasoline, but when one goes up, the other seems to go up immediately, too. The last time crude oil went over $100 was September 2008. People here in the Midwest were paying $3.94 a gallon for gasoline then.
In either case, we're back to the days of figuring out how to scrimp our way to another fill-up, What's your pain threshold?(13 Comments)