News Day: Seriously bad unemployment figures / Not-so-serious news: Michelle and the Queen, T-Paw goes hunting, Toilets in space / more serious news

Seriously bad news National unemployment rose to 8.5 percent in March, up from 8.1 percent in February, by the most conservative measure used by the U.S. Department of Labor. Employers cut 663,000 jobs in March. A second, more comprehensive, measure of unemployment puts the number of unemployed higher, at 15.6 percent. Full article here.

Michelle and the Queen With more than two million Google listings for mentions of Michelle Obama hugging Queen Elizabeth, I suppose we should mention it here. Though some denounced the hug as a breach of protocol, which apparently says no one may touch the Queen, others defended the First Lady on the grounds that the Queen touched her first. In the end, all agreed that the Queen and the First Lady liked each other, and that Michelle Obama, like Jackie Kennedy, may well eclipse her husband in popularity on their first official European trip.

Distant early deer warning T-Paw has announced: he will be in Thief River Falls for opening day of deer-hunting season. That’s November 6, if you’re marking your calendar.

Space toilets segregated No, not by gender or by race — by nationality. The U.S. toilets on the international space station are off-limits to Russian cosmonauts. Presumably, U.S. software pioneer and space tourist Charles Simonyi, who has paid $35 million for the ride, can use whatever toilets he likes.

MN to Iraq MPR reports that four more MN National Guard units will be deployed to Iraq, leaving on Saturday for Fort Hood Texas for training. They will be deployed for one year.

Suburbs integrating — sort of MN suburbs, like those across the nation, are seeing more families and students of color. Sarah Lemagie writes in the Strib:

A handful of fast-growing Twin Cities suburbs that had few students of color 15 years ago made Top 25 lists in the report that analyzed more than 2,000 suburban districts for their growth rates either in minorities in general or in individual racial and ethnic groups. Shakopee, rising from 11 Hispanic students to more than 700 in 13 years, ranked third in its sheer pace of growth for those students in the entire nation.

But segregation is following minorities to the suburbs, writes Lemagie.

In Minnesota, 49 schools were tagged as “racially identifiable” last year, which means that the school’s minority population was at least 20 percentage points higher than the district’s average for students in the age group served by the school.

Osseo had 10 schools on the list, more than any district except for Minneapolis…

MN Job Watch TPT unions agreed to a voluntary pay cut, giving up a pay increase won in collective bargaining, reports TC Daily Planet. “We’re all in this together,” said a union spokesperson, and a pay cut across the board was the most likely way to prevent layoffs among union and non-union employees.

Around the world in 90 seconds The G20 Summit is on everybody’s news radar, as the leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed to send $1.1 trillion to the IMF and World Bank to help poor countries. Of course, that’s only a promise until national governments actually get legislation passed and signed and money delivered. Other promises: stricter controls on hedge funds and credit ratings agencies, and a common approach to cleaning up banks’ toxic assets.

Meanwhile, the war continues to ramp up in Afghanistan, with aid agencies warning of increased civilian casualties and pleading with NATO to change the way it is operating. More than 2,000 civilians were killed last year, with a majority dead at the guns of insurgents, but a “significant minority were caused by coalition forces,” generating heightened public hostility that feeds the insurgency.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu continues warnings to South Africa’s ANC leaders, particularly targeting ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Zuma is the odds-on favorite to lead South Africa after April 22 elections, but has been charged with corruption in an arms scandal. The ANC has denounced Archbishop Tutu, accusing him of undermining the judicial process by his criticism of Zuma.

Back in the U.S., it’s Blago time again, with a federal court indicting impeached former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on 19 counts including racketeering, wire fraud, extortion, and making false statements to federal agents. The 75-page indictment also charges Blagojevich’s former chief of staff John Harris; his brother Robert Blagojevich; fundraisers Christopher Kelly and William Cellini, Sr. and Illinois lobbyist Alonzo Monk. Blagojevich’s wife, Patricia, was described in the indictment as a co-conspirator, but was not indicted. According to the indictment, as reported in the Chicago Tribune:

“The primary purpose of the Blagojevich Enterprise was to exercise and preserve power over the government of the State of Illinois for the financial and political benefit of Rod Blagojevich, both directly and through Friends of Blagojevich, and for the financial benefit of his family members and associates,” the indictment alleged.

Yes to new nuke plants The Minnesota Senate voted 42-24 to repeal the state ban on new nuclear plants, reports MPR. MN has two nuclear power plants now, and there are no pending proposals for a third.

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