1) THE WIDE WHACKY WORLD OF LIARS
Liars. It's a word that once stung, at least before everyone -- or so it seems -- started lying. The big story yesterday, of course, was Rep. Anthony Weiner admitting that he lied in his many, many denials that he didn't send sexually suggestive images. He also vowed not to resign, apparently showing little shame.
But that wasn't the only story about liars in the news. The owners of the Fukushima nuclear power plants in Japan have finally admitted -- sort of --that they lied, too. For months, they've denied a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami. Then they admitted there might have been partial meltdowns. And yesterday the officials finally admitted there were meltdowns at all three reactors. They also said the release of radiation was much greater than they let on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger? Liar. John Edwards? Liar.
Lying isn't a new thing -- especially for politicians and businesses with a lot at stake. What has changed, perhaps, is our collective shoulder shrug.
We are, a 2009 NewsWeek story on the subject suggested, a culture of liars.
Research has linked socially successful people to those who are good liars. Students who succeed academically get picked for the best colleges, despite the fact that, as one recent Duke University study found, as many as 90 percent of high-schoolers admit to cheating. Even lying adolescents are more popular among their peers.
And all it takes is a quick flip of the remote to see how our public figures fare when they get caught in a lie: Clinton keeps his wife and goes on to become a national hero. Fabricating author James Frey gets a million-dollar book deal. Eliot Spitzer's wife stands by his side, while "Appalachian hiker" Mark Sanford still gets to keep his post. If everyone else is being rewarded for lying, don't we need to lie, too, just to keep up?
Discussion point: When is it OK to lie? At what point do you hold people responsible for lies. One more: Is lying primarily a "guy thing?"
No one has yet figured out how a growing number of Somali young men from Minneapolis are ending up as suicide bombers in Somalia, but Laura Yuen's excellent story this morning on Farah Mohamed Beledi certainly makes it clear that his path in particular is more of a mystery because his closest family members were no longer in his life long before he went to Somalia.
Whether that was by design or merely the confluence of events is unclear.
From accounts, he was a troubled kid who ran with gangs and then got sent away to prison.
This paragraph in reporter Yuen's story tells a significant tale:
Court records show Beledi pleaded guilty in 2007 to stabbing a man in the neck and his side during a soccer game at Central High School in St. Paul. Family members say he was locked up for about two years. No one from the family visited him in prison, his mother said. By that time, their relationships with him were already strained.
But when he got out of prison, his appearance at a mosque in Minneapolis seemed to suggest he had changed, possibly for the better...
Farah Beledi also started counseling troubled youth as an outreach worker in the Somali-American community. He met young men at the Somali malls, using his own record of bad choices and hard time as an example. One community member said Farah Beledi was effective in his message because he had the street cred to back up his cautionary tales.
And yet, the family and the young man did not communicate, the story says:
Abdulahi Beledi said the last time he saw his little brother was seven years ago. And their mother says it's been at least three years since she's spoken to Farah Beledi. Once Farah Beledi turned 18, the family doesn't know where he lived or what crowd he hung out with. Farah Beledi never knew his father, who died when he was a baby.
The FBI clearly believes someone is "radicalizing" the Somali men, someone with obvious influence in their lives.
It would be interesting to go back over the lives of the other men who've disappeared to see if there's also a pattern of "strained" relationships at home.
What's commencement season without the obligatory controversy over prayer, or -- in the case of Northfield High School -- one teacher's religious theories?
Northfield High School math department chair Doug Bengston was selected by the senior class to give the commencement address, which included:
I don't believe the earth, the planets, and the solar system just happened. I believe there is one overall. As you watch the miracle of a newborn baby, I don't believe it all just happens.
So I tried to gain that inner contentment that only comes from the one above. He designed me, my brain, my heart, and all that I am. And all he's looking for is love. I'd like to leave you with some verses from the good book that help explains my thoughts.
Bengston then read from the Bible. Griff Wigley, who writes Locally Grown Northfield, says he's heard no public reaction to the speech, the audio of which he's posted on his web site.
KYMN has the entire commencement posted here.(8 Comments)
Tickets for a benefit concert this weekend to help north Minneapolis rebuild from last month's tornado just went on sale Friday. But, an organizer says, sales are slow.
All the musicians are throwing in their time at the State Theater on June 12 and the theater has donated the venue.
* Sounds of Blackness (Northside, various members)
* Soul Asylum
* Brother Ali
* Robert Robinson (Northside)
* Larry Long
* Joyful Noize
* Tonia Hughes (Northside)
* Billy McLaughlin Group
* Sara Renner (Northside)
* Jeanne, Patty, Jason and Paul Peterson
* Cameron Wright (Northside)
* Paris Bennett (American Idol finalist) and Jamecia Bennett (Northside)
* The New Standards
* Dean Magraw
* Prudence Johnson
* GB Leighton (solo)
* The TC Jammers
* Van Nixon
* Toki Wright
* DJ Freddy Fresh
* Darnell Davis and the Remnant
* Keri Noble
* Ginger Commodore
* Tou Saiko Lee
* Thomasina Petrus
* T. Mychael Rambo
Find more information here.
Maybe music isn't your thing. The North Minneapolis Post Tornado Facebook site reports three volunteers are "urgently needed" for a donation effort on Saturday.
Must have experience in warehouse operations ( reception, inventory, packing e.t.c. Each would lead a shift of about 30 which would be split into smaller teams. Also, can anyone donate pallets? gloves?( about 300 gloves), back braces, shrink wrap, boxes? weighing machine? email email@example.com Shifts : 6-10, 10-2, 2-6.
The donation drive -- dubbed Super Saturday -- will collect items at 2818 Washington Ave N. Here's the list of needed items.
This is Bike Walk Week in Minnesota, a celebration of the bicycle culture in our midst, and highlighted -- at least for me -- by the Bike Walk to Work Day on Thursday, when the high temperature will only reach 65 and we'll all be wearing parkas.
While I still read the occasional online "flame" from some of my bike-riding friends about some assault on sensibility, I'm not hearing as much bike vs. driver debate as I did just a few years ago. Are we getting better at getting along? Or are we just tired of the same old same old?
The Twin Cities, of course, isn't New York, but this video showing how pedestrians, bikes, and cars interact suggests there's still a lot of learning to be done nationwide.
A few years ago, I made my first Bike to Work Day ride. I vowed to try to ride to work once a week then. I've ridden in one day since then.
There are flash mobs, and there are flash mobs.
Social networking was behind the "good" (if overdone) flash mob in which people are encouraged to meet at a specific landmark and do the flash mob thing.
Like this in Chicago, for instance...
But there's a new flash mob in town -- a bad flash mob. Chicago has recently been hit with gangs of teenagers using text messaging and social networking sites to coordinate attacks on retailers and individuals, according to Crain's Business.
Saturday evening's flash-organized assaults in Streeterville, in which a group of young men robbed and beat five people along the lakefront and near Northwestern University's downtown campus, have brought renewed attention to the groups of roving teenagers who, abetted by social media and text messaging, wreak havoc in the city's upscale, tourist-heavy areas. Two of the victims were doctors attending a medical conference at McCormick Place.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says Chicago's reputation as "a safe place to live in work" is being undermined by flash mobs. Mobs of people have been pushing people off their bikes, the Chicago Sun Times reports, and people have been warned not to ride bikes near the waterfront anymore.
Chicago police are reportedly spending more time on social networking sites to try to figure out when and where the flash mobs are going to attack.(2 Comments)