News Day: 89 ballots / Unfree press in MN House / Around the world in 90 seconds / Out with the old regime / more

Is Coleman toast yet? The Daily Kos jumps the gun, declaring “Coleman is toast,” but it’s true that the latest court ruling holds no good news for the Norm. After the inner ballot envelopes were opened in a search for registration cards, only 89 of the roughly 1500 rejected absentee ballots in pile 3a proved possibly countable. In MinnPost, Jay Weiner reports that “Coleman’s universe of legally cast ballots that his side wants opened may now be as low as 1,000, if not lower.”

Free press? Not in the MN House On Monday, the mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon of the free press debate in the MN House of Representatives. The House had refused press credentials for on-line media and tossed out reporters with video cameras. The on-line media has been debating and denouncing the policy for weeks: a sampling includes MnIndy, KFAI, TC Daily Planet, The Uptake, Radio Free Nation, Checks & Balances, and MinnPost. The House response to on-line media was to offer a blatantly unconstitutional “application” for video journos, that required a pledge not to record a list of possible news, including individual House members and audience responses in committee hearings.

Out with the old regime Stem cell research – in. Signing statements – out. While Obama’s rollback of restrictions on stem cell research got more headlines, the Presidential Memorandum instructing executive agencies to ignore Bush Administration “signing statements” packed an even bigger punch. The “signing statement” dodge was used by Bush to say that he reserved the right to disregard the provisions of a law that he was signing. The Daily Kos quoted press secretary Robert Gibbs:

I think the previous administration issued hundreds and hundreds of signing statements that specifically entailed — and I can — we’ll certainly get you some examples — but specifically entailed, through those signing statements, that people disregard portions of legislation or the intent of Congress.

This President will use signing statements in order to go back to what has previously been done, and that is to enumerate constitutional problems that either the Justice Department or the — or legislative council here see as a potential problem through their reading, but not ask that laws be disallowed simply by executive fiat.

Paying for prison Minnesota is in the top fifth of all states in incarceration rates, reports Paul Schmelzer in MnIndy, with 152,319 individuals either in a correctional facility or on parole in 2007. That cost $460 million or 2.6 percent of MN’s general fund. The MN Department of Corrections says it needs a 1.9 percent increase in its budget, or it will have to cut 194 positions.

Slow school start The MN House Finance Committee voted downa proposal to start school before Labor Day. Minnesota schools — or some of them — want to open before September 7, the Labor Day date this year. The tourism industry and the State Fair, along with many students who enjoy either extra days of summer or a chance to make a buck at the Fair and elsewhere, want to wait until Labor Day.

Homecoming Sara Jane Olson, aka Kathleen Soliah, is set to be released from prison in California next week, after serving seven years for “militant acts in the 1970s,” reports Curt Brown in the Strib, and she will return to her home and family in St. Paul to serve out her parole under MN supervision.

Help wanted In Ohio, a school janitor job posting drew hundreds of applicants — probably more than 700 and counting, reports NPR. Across the country, pharmacists, engineers, veterinarians and nurses are still wanted, and so are some bank workers, reports AP, but overall tehre are more than five people competing for every job opening.

Around the world in 90 seconds Today is the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s flight from Tibet, and the Chinese government, worried about protests, has cut off internet and text messaging and barred reporters from many Tibetan areas, reports NPR. The Dalai Lama, speaking from the seat of the government in exile in Dharamsala, India, said the Chinese repression in Tibet “thurst Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experience hell on earth.”

In Iraq, a suicide attack in western Baghdad killed at least 25 people Monday, after an attack on a police recruitment center killed at least 28 on Sunday, according to BBC.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. President Bill Clinton visited Haiti to focus attention on the need for development, reports BBC, specifically promoting expansion of Haiti’s garment industry, cheaper electricity and better management of Haiti’s port.

Escalating violence in Darfur was marked by an attack on four U.N. peacekeepers by unidentified gunmen. The attack, reports BBC, follows last week’s expulsion of 13 aid agencies from Darfur by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in retaliation for his indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur is supposed to have 26,000 troops, but only has 15,000. The U.N estimates that 300,000 people have been died in the war since 2003, and 2.7 million people are receiving aid in Darfur after being forced out of their homes.

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