News Day: Hot dog breakfast! / The American Sheikh / Art, medicine, religion / Deadly weekend / more

Franken, Coleman, Court Brace yourselves: tomorrow the ballot-counting resumes, with envelopes containing almost 400 absentee ballots to be opened and counted. Let’s get it over with so that the Coleman can start his appeals: the beginning of the beginning of the end.

Twins tonight and hot dogs for breakfast Knothole blogger Jean Gabler reports that on opening day (today!) the Twins are once again serving up hot-dog breakfasts between 6 and 9 a.m.

Plan to wait in line for up to 15 minutes. Most times I haven’t seen any celebrities but the handouts have been good. They have a good system in place where you just cruise through with your window open and volunteers hand you your treats. It is a great way to start the baseball season, and I do love getting that first Hormel dog early in the day. A word to the wise: don’t wait until the end to go.

(Shameless plug: Jean’s Knothole View blog follows the Twins for the TC Daily Planet, and is good reading whether or not you are a fan.) By 5 p.m., the area around the Dome will feature Strib employees handing out info on a new “Save the Star Tribune” campaign.

MN Job Watch Hutchinson Tech is in big trouble, according to MinnPost. Afer layiing off 1,350 employees, it now sees net sales for the first quarter down 45 percent, and one of its biggest customers, Seagate Technology, going away.

Fairview had a net loss of $114 million in 2008, reports the Strib. Debt, investment losses, fewier inpatient visits, and more unpaid medical bills all contributed to the loss. Fairview is imposing a pay freeze on all 22,000 employees, as well as cutting capital expenditures, travel and office supplies.

The American Sheikh No, he’s not Rudolph Valentino, but the star of a supposed Islamist recruiting video, reports MPR. The video uses hip hop, and purports to be an al-Shabab recruiting video starring “Sheihk Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (“the American”). While some take his war stories seriously, Ken Menkhaus, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and a leading scholar on Somalia, doesn’t:

“He came across boasting that he was training or leading attacks on the Ethiopians,” Menkaus said. “Anyone who knows anything about Somalia knew that was a fraud. The Somalis are experts at ambushes in their own country. The last thing they need is some American telling them what to do, in English, so it would have to be translated. I mean, what kind of ambush leader is that?”

Arts rule! Artists of all stripes — musicians, visual artists, writers — can help people recovering from chronic illness, debilitating trauma, or mental illness, reports MPR. HealthEast is working with the non-profit Community Programs in the Arts (COMPAS) to match artists with different hospitals and clinics, building on studies that show “remarkable results,” including relief from physical pain and faster recovery.

The Strib reports that struggling Intermedia Arts is getting a much-needed cash infusion from two churches that are renting its space for Sunday (and some other) services. Lyndale UCC and Salem Lutheran congregations paraded with palms to Intermedia Arts for a joint Palm Sunday service yesterday. (They’ll have separate services in the future, and eventually will share a building now being revamped and ready to go next year.)

Lazy reporting, instant experts Conservative think tanks contribute “experts” to lazy reporters, charges the Daily Kos:

Just name the topic and the American Enterprise Institute has someone ready to go. The trouble is — far, far too often, the media is ready to take them up on it.

After all, going out and finding an actual expert on a topic — someone whose work is respected, someone who comes equipped with numbers and… what are they called… oh, yeah facts — locating someone like that can be … what’s that term… work. Why should you try to find someone who knows what they’re talking about when the AEI will deliver a bright and shiny conservative to your door, complete with the title “scholar” and a suitably vague area of expertise that’s sure to stretch far enough to cover any topic?

Kos notes that “70 of the 86 people currently listed as scholars at AEI have had air time on NPR over the last eight years,” appearing a total of more than 600 times. And that doesn’t include American Public Media or “pundit chats.”

It’s a Depression So says Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in his blog:

This is still not the Great Depression of the 1930s, but it is a Depression. And the only way out is government spending on a very large scale. We should stop worrying about Wall Street. Worry about American workers. Use money to build up Main Street, and the future capacities of our workforce.

Multiple murder weekend in United States Friday In the worst massacre since the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, a heavily armed man wearing a bullet-proof vest “burst into the headquarters of the American Civic Association, where until recently he had been taking classes to improve his English, wearing body armor and firing two handguns, killing 13 students and employees and wounding four others before committing suicide,” reports the New York Times.

Saturday A heavily armed man wearing a bullet-proof vest ambushed police in Pittsburgh, killing three and wounding others, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Deadly weekend in Pakistan Friday BBC reports that a U.S. missile strike in northwest Pakistan killed 13 people on Friday. Local officials in North Waziristan said the dead included women, children and militants, including foreigners. This was the second drone attack in four days. The first strike killed 14 people in the Orakzai tribal area near the Afghan border.

Saturday A suicide bomber killed eight paramilitary police in Islamabad, reported BBC. This was the second attack on security forces in the capital in two weeks, and the Taliban claimed responsibility. The New York Times reports that another suicide bomber “drove his vehicle into a group of civilians on the side of the road in Miram Shah, in North Waziristan, killing at least eight people, including schoolchildren.”

In Washington, AP reports, a man killed his five young children and then himself, when he found out that his wife was leaving him. Neighbors said they had frequently called Child Protective Services and the sheriff’s department in the past.

Sunday A suicide bomber targeted a Shia mosque in northeast Pakistan, in the Chakwal area of Punjab, killing 20 people, reports BBC. Dozens of others among the 1,000 people attending religious services were injured. Authorities say more would have been killed had the bomber not been stopped at the entrance.

Sewer children, dying immigrants In Rome, reports BBC, police found more than 100 immigrants, including 24 Afghan children, living in the sewer system beneath railway stations. Police also recently found Bangladeshi and Chinese immigrants living crammed 20 or more to a room. In Pakistan, police found 44 bodies and more than 100 live people in a shipping container, reports BBC. The migrants were mostly Afghans, believed to be enroute to Iran.

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