News Day: Coleman cyber-follies / Middle class pays more /Snowing the recount / Somali youth / Cops hate Sara Jane / more

Middle class pays more Even in Minnesota, says a Department of Revenue study, rich people pay less in taxes than the middle class. See Who pays Minnesota’s taxes>

Coleman cyber-follies While Norm Coleman is calling it “chilling” and “scary,” a closer look shows that the disclosure of names and credit card information of Coleman campaign donors on the internet is the fault of no one but … the Coleman campaign, which violated basic on-line security procedures. The unprotected Coleman database was discovered in January, and the campaign was notified by the Minnesota Independent, which has done outstanding reporting on the issue. Coleman’s campaign not only failed to respond to MnIndy’s inquiries, but failed to notify donors than their information had been compromised. Until yesterday, after the Wikileaks organization sent emails to Coleman donors telling them what was up, when the campaign then went into high gear, sending out an email to supporters that told them “security has been breached” and warned that they should consider canceling their credit cards.

The Coleman campaign was told in January that its database was publicly accessible and not even password protected. A Minnesota law requires that any person or business in the state that discovers a breach of security must notify people whose personal information has been made vulnerable “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay.” Full Wikileak description of “The Big Bad Database of Senator Norm Coleman”

Home prices: down 23% The median price for homes in the Twin Cities dropped by 23% in February, compared to one year ago, reports Christopher Snowbeck in the PiPress. The median home price in the 13-county metro area was $150,000, compared to a median price of $195,060 in February 2008, and $155,000 in January 2009. Half of sale prices are below the median and half are above. The Strib notes that the number of closed sales rose by 3 percent.

Cutting local government budgets through cremation? Currently, MN law requires counties to bury people who can’t afford to pay for their own funerals. A proposed change in the law would require cremation, unless the family or next of kind objects on moral or religious grounds, reports Tom Scheck on MPR. Local government officials are looking to the legislature to eliminate dozens of state mandates as a money-saving measure.

Snow Daze Al Franken’s attorneys said they would finish their case yesterday, but that was before a blizzard closed I-94, preventing one of their final witnesses from getting to court. So the end of the Franken case is expected today,and then team Coleman will get back in action for rebuttal, which is likely to last every minute, hour and day that the judges allow. And then come closing arguments and … maybe a decision before April Fools Day?

Around the world in 90 seconds Police in Pakistan are arresting hundreds of protesters, reports the Washington Post. Police targeted lawyers and opposition leaders prior to protest marches planned for today to demand reinstatement of a Supreme Court justice removed by the government. Major opposition leaders and many lawyers were placed under house arrest, while others fled into hiding.

Five aid workers were kidnapped in Darfur on Wednesday, in another apparent sequel to last week’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court. Bashir has orddered foreign aid workers to leave the country. The kidnapped workers were French, Italian, Canadian and Sudanese staff for Doctors Without Borders.

Sri Lankan troops continue their relentless pursuit of the Tamil Tiger rebels, capturing the last remaining medical facility of the rebels and claiming that the Tamil Tigers are now confined to a 15 square mile area in the northeast. The pro-rebel TamilNet said the army killed 133 civilians, including 49 children, by shelling inside a government-declared “safe zone” on Tuesday, but reports could not be confirmed independently because journalists are not allowed in the war zone. More than 70,000 people have been killed since 1983 when the Tamil Tigers launched their war for an independent homeland in the north and east for the Tamil minority. The Sri Lanka government ended a ceasefire in 2008 and has been vigorously and successfully pushing the war since then. In January, attacks on the press in the nation’s capital included ransacking the offices of the largest private TV broadcaster and assassination of the editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, Lasantha Wickramatunga, a prominent government critic.

A university student journalist was sentenced to 20 years in prison for blasphemy in Afghanistan, after being accused of writing and distributing an article about the role of women in Islam. He says he only downloaded the article from the internet. His family and lawyers say that his secret trial was not fair, but the Supreme Court merely commuted the death sentence ordered by the trial court to a 20-year jail sentence. Journalists and news media in Afghanistan feel threatened by government and religious authorities, and an Afghan reporter for Canadian CTV, gunned down Tuesday in Kandahar, became the second journalist killed in nine months. Another journalist has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for blasphemy for publishing a translation of the Koran that hard-liners dispute.

MN Somali youth A national spotlight on Minnesota’s missing Somali youth shed no new light on where they are or why they left. NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston reported the testimony of Andrew Liepman, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who raised alarms that “these individuals could be indoctrinated by al-Qaida while they are in Somalia,” and trumpeted claims of recruiters in Minneapolis, though the actual testimony of FBI Associate Director Philip Mudd appears to contradict the recruitment talk:

“I don’t see people out there saying, ‘Man, can we have another 10 Americans.’ So I think it is a simple story of people saying, ‘I want to fight for my country,’ or ‘I want to live in another social or religious environment’ not people saying, ‘I wish I had more Americans,'” he said. “In fact, in some cases the Americans can be a security risk for them. … These folks aren’t going over there to become part of terrorist cells. “

For a substantially more in-depth look at the Somali youth culture in Minnesota, see Justin Schell’s article on Somali hip-hop culture in the TC Daily Planet.

Media Minute David Brauer continues reporting on the downhill slide of the major metropolitan dailies, as the Strib tries to break its contract with its pressmen in bankruptcy court.

Sure, it sucks right now to be a Star Tribune pressman as management tries to void your labor contract. But it may suck worse to be a PiPress pressman down the road.

Brauer says the Strib and PiPress are looking at shipping PiPress printing across the river. Meanwhile, he says, the Strib continues to bleed out, with ad revenues down 30% in January and February, compared to 2008.

Cops hate Sara Jane “Returning Soliah to the same neighborhood that harbored her during her 24-year flight from justice is hardly conducive to strict parole monitoring,” wrote St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus in a letter to CA Guv Arnie Schwarzenegger, reports the PiPress. “If having a convicted domestic terrorist living in their midst didn’t bother her neighbors, why would the State Department of Corrections think they would report her if she violated parole?”

Maybe the neighbors weren’t bothered because Olson/Soliah wasn’t breaking any laws during her decades in Minnesota? She’s now wrapping up a seven-year sentence and heading home to serve out her parole after pleading guilty to crimes committed during the 1970s. Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the CA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation notes that “Olson being with her husband and her family — that parole plan offers her the best chance to succeed,” but says the parole plan is still under review. Predictably, MN Governor Pawlenty also opposes Olson’s return to MN, but acknowledges that the law says MN can’t refuse to let her come back.

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