1) THE ABSENCE OF HOPE
You've probably heard that the president and the speaker of the House were feuding again yesterday over a speech the president wants to give outlining a jobs plan. Most of the coverage was about the politics of the feud. Jobs? Not so much.
Coincidentally, in Los Angeles yesterday, a jobs fair drew about 5,000 people -- most of them black -- before it even started. It was an accumulation of -- as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times said -- "wasted wisdom."
It was, one woman told me later, "like going back to the old days," pre-Barack Obama; "before black politicians got complacent and forgot they're the ones that represent us."
The president who campaigned on hope is presiding instead over hopelessness. And doing little, it seems even to his fans these days, to rectify the economic malaise. The Job Fairs, the Town Halls, the Kitchen Table Summits ... they are all part of a campaign to put political pressure on not just Republicans, but our Democratic president.
Our sister station in Los Angeles -- KPCC -- reported it this way:
When 26 year-old Rekita Charles showed up around 4 a.m., she was the third person in line. By 7 a.m., that line wrapped around a city block. Charles is a single mother with three children and a full course load at Southwest College. She's worked as a receptionist, guarded properties and handled customer service, but in the couple of years none of her job experience seemed to help.
"Remember it was a time where I could quit one job and just be like, I'm gonna find me another job next week. I'll get the newspaper and get me a job. But now, it's just like...non-existent," she said.
A day earlier, thousands turned out at a job fair in Atlanta. People camped out overnight wearing their best suits.
Maybe the people who should be speaking to a joint session of Congress, are people who stand in line for hours waiting for a shot at a job. And going home without one.
Is that you? If you were invited to speak to Congress, what would you say that might make any difference? Make sure it includes specifics of a jobs plan.
Of course, this all assumes people in Washington and New York have some solution to the woe. NPR reports there's no indication anyone knows how to end this mess.
2) IT'S THE RAIN
There's another potential hurricane out there and, sure as shootin', the weatherpeople will be out on the beach talking about the wind, missing the #1 lesson from last week's disaster: It's not the wind; it's the rain that'll get you., the Washington Post reports:
"People aren't scared of rain; they're scared of wind," said Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor of atmospheric science who has studied hurricanes. "In most people's minds, a hurricane is principally a wind event, and if they have heavy rain -- it's incidental, it's too bad."
The media generally think along the same lines, which is why hurricane coverage typically features a soggy, windblown weather reporter standing on a beach, shouting warnings of greater fury to come.
"Rainfall isn't sexy. Everyone went to the coast looking for the wind and the storm surge," said David Vallee, a National Weather Service hydrologist in Taunton, Mass.
In a generic storm, the experts said, most people who die aren't whacked by flying debris; they drown in fresh water.
In Brattleboro, Vermont, the water has receded, and now there's a flood of nice people underway (Brattleboro Reformer).
One man whose spent nearly eight hours per day helping clean tools and put the shop back together, (motorsports shop owner Stan)Lynde met at a coffee shop.
"He just asked me if I needed help with anything. I said sure and he's been here every day since working his butt off," Lynde said.
3) 9/11 AT 10
PBS NewsHour has been soliciting videos of people describing how 9/11 has changed their lives. Here are a couple of Minnesotans' reaction.
4) SAY SOMETHING NICE
What if we had a national holiday in which everyone just said nice things?
Go ahead, right down there in the comments section...
5) DAILY FAIR ZEN
Mark Wheat's favorite things at the State Fair...
If you saw a pregnant woman drinking at the Fair, would you say something? A group trying to raise awareness of fetal alcohol syndrome tested the question this week, WCCO reports.
Bonus: "Nothing says you're on an American street" more than the big, blue mailbox, Nancy Pope, the postal historian at the Smithsonian, says. But, the San Francisco Chronicle says, they're disappearing fast. Most of them have been removed because nobody uses them.
What has changed is us. In the 1970s, when women entered the workforce in earnest, letter writing began to decline because women - who had been the primary letter writers - had less spare time. At the same time, long-distance phone calls became cheaper.
"The Internet didn't kill mailboxes. We started the process long before the Internet came around," Pope said.
Although the Minnesota State Fair prohibits smoking in public buildings and in the seating areas of entertainment venues, fairgoers encounter lots of cigarette smoke. Today's Question: Should the State Fair prohibit smoking on the fairgrounds?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Travel expert Rudy Maxa at the State Fair.
Second hour: Food writer Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: An MPR special report and a discussion with St. Paul school superintendent Valeria Silva and Eric Mahmoud, founder of Harvest Prep and Best Academy, on ways to improve the achievement of minority students.
Second hour: Biz Stone and Evan Williams on the future of the Internet..
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: What's next in Afghanistan?
Second hour: The age of information overload.(6 Comments)
A colleague, who has kin in Vermont, pointed out this morning that President Barack Obama isn't touring Vermont when he makes the traditional presidential "I care" visit that accompanies national disasters. Obama will tour Patterson, New Jersey on Sunday, which has been particularly hard hit in the wake of Irene.
But so has Vermont. About 13 towns remained cut off after the roads were washed away, and the National Guard was bringing in supplies of food and water, in some cases by helicopter.
Truth be told, presidential visits have no real value other than maybe giving a morale boost to people and certainly providing some favorable political footage on the nightly news. The administration has already sent various underlings in emergency management agencies to all of the states affected.
But Obama has never visited Vermont as president (his wife did last spring). And George Bush missed one state in all of his years in office. Guess which one?
The state didn't exactly put the welcome mat out for the guy.
Brattleboro, the poster community for this latest disaster, is famously weird and could make for uncomfortable questions for a visiting president. In two towns on town meeting day years ago, residents approved resolutions calling for the indictment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for violating the Constitution. One of the towns? Brattleboro.
The last time a sitting president visited Vermont was 1995 when President Bill Clinton had no choice. He wanted to speak to the National Governor's Association and it was holding its gathering in Vermont? Why? Howard Dean chaired the NGA. He was also the governor of Vermont.(4 Comments)
For a family that just got stiffed out of $50,000, the Smith family seemed pretty chipper today when national TV asked them to get up early in Faribault.
One of the Smith kids made an impossible hockey shot in a contest for $50,000, but the contest underwriters wouldn't pay the money because the a twin brother subbed for the one whose name was drawn.
"Being honest and truthful, it turns out good in the end," Kim Smith, the boys' mother said.
"Some people wouldn't tell the truth, so it's kind of cool that we did," one of the lads told NBC's Today Show.
The underwriters are donating $20,000 to youth hockey programs in the area, instead.5 Comments)
Republicans have done such an effective job of voting and legislating as a bloc that it's unusual to see them carp at one another. But a presidential campaign will do that, despite Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment ("Never speak ill of another Republican.")
Today, Michele Bachmann's super-PAC rolled out this broadside against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's stolen much of her thunder since jumping into the presidential race.
We're not sure who the narrator is in the piece, but we're pretty sure he's faking the unrecognizable accent that's a cross between Wilfred Brimley and Tom Bodett.(5 Comments)
The Philadelphia Phillies this week became the latest Major League Baseball team to make an ad for the It Gets Better project, designed to reach out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens in the wake of high-profile suicides.
The team unveiled its video a week ago at its LGBT community night at Citizens Bank Park.
Tampa Bay shot its production a week-and-a-half ago, inviting people to the team's home field to be part of it.
In Seattle, all of the city's major sports teams collaborated on the message:
As the baseball season winds down, it's hard not to notice the number of baseball teams that haven't joined in. That is to say: most of them.
So far only the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays have signed on to the project.
In June, a Minnesota Twins official told City Pages the franchise was "looking into" making one and that the the team "will pull something together in the near future."
The comments followed a controversy at Target Field when a stadium guard admonished two women who kissed.
"It still on our radar, though it will probably happen next season," Chris Iles, the team's corporate communications manager said in an e-mail today. "We're looking at incorporating this into our overall community outreach plans and securing the support of our media partners at FOX Sports North in hopes of making an even larger impact."
There were seven original Mercury astronauts in this country. They dubbed this woman, gracing the cover of Look magazine in February 1960, "7 1/2."
Betty Skelton was the only woman to undergo all of the physical and psychological tests given to those astronauts at the start of the nation's space program.
But she'd already established her bona fides. She was one the first women aerobatic pilots. She had no other choice if she wanted to fly because neither the military nor commercial airlines would hire a woman pilot.
She became a test pilot and flew just about every kind of machine, then took up auto racing and set speed records for stock cars.
She was 85 when she died yesterday.(3 Comments)