News Day: MN Budget Watch / A few laughs / Trying hard for a MN-pirate connection (and headlines) / more

MN Budget Watch The House tax bill passed out of committee by a narrow margin, with Rep. Tom Rukavina providing the last necessary vote, but Rukavina says he may not support the plan on the House floor. Meanwhile, reports Steve Perry in Politics in Minnesota, the Senate omnibus bill would work “by essentially reinstating the tax rates that existed in the state in 1998, before the first of a pair of extensive income tax cuts during the Jesse Ventura adminstration,” and adding a new top bracket of 9.25 percent for adjusted gross incomes over $250,000. The increases would be spread over 85% of all taxpayers, and would revert to today’s levels in 2014.

And over at MinnPost, Doug Grow says it is “virtually impossible to create reform,” despite hard work and careful analysis put into the House bill.

In coming days, amendments will be loaded up on both the House and Senate bills. Then, somehow, the House and Senate majorities will have to come together with a single bill, which almost certainly will be vetoed by the governor, who has pledged no new taxes.

A few laughs Over at Minnesota Independent, Andy Birkey has gathered a few of the best spoofs of the right-wing “Gathering Storm” video.

Can I get a headline? Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, is frequently in the news, and announced that he is talking to the parents of the surviving Somali pirate and helping them to find a lawyer. According to the Strib, “Jamal said he was moments away from flying to New York, when Muse’s public defender called to say that his presence wouldn’t be necessary.” But Jamal isn’t the only Minnesotan in the headlines over the case:

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, responding to “tons of e-mails” from people he said were outraged by Jamal’s actions, said he will seek to block nonprofit status and state grants to any organization that helps foreign citizens accused of piracy or terrorism.

You might think that Jamal would wait to see whether he’s needed before buying a ticket. Or that Seifert would check to see whether Jamal’s group gets any government funds before calling for a cut-off. (Or that a legislator might actually know that non-profit status is a federal matter – 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code — and that the MN legislature can’t change that law.) You might think either of them would do a little more homework and fact-finding before calling the newspapers. But facts are so boring.

Crime rates down Crime rates in Minneapolis have fallen fairly dramatically over the past two years, with violent crime down 25%, according to Minneapolis Police Department figures. Nonviolent crimes are also down citywide, but there are increases in burglaries in Southwest, and in burglaries, arson and larceny in parts of North Minneapolis over last year.

Hungry in MN The Salvation Army reports a 150% jump in food shelf use, according to the PiPress. That’s consistent with statewide increases in foodshelf usage, which is growing especially fast in suburban counties.

Finding world news MinnPost announced that it will begin covering stories by a “network of correspondents working for GlobalPost.” OR – you can just look to the bottom of this blog post for links to headlines from top reporters at BBC, the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico and more.

MN Clean Cars DOA Minnesota’s proposed Clean Car Act is probably DOA, a victim of “a timid vein in Congressional Democrats and Minnesota DFLers when it comes to acting rather than just talking about dealing with carbon reduction,” according to MinnPost. Lobbying by ethanol producers and car dealers contributed to the reluctance to act, and now some legislators are also relying on “let the feds do it” arguments, since the EPA has said there will be federal action on global warming.

Torture update A new Senate report traces a paper trail on military use of torture in interrogation, reports the NYT. Last week’s disclosures focused on CIA interrogation. Admiral Dennis Blair, President Obama’s national intelligence director, wrote a memo last week claiming that torture techniques had produced valuable intelligence information. And the AP reports that President Obama is open to prosecutions of officials who authorized torture.

More headlines:
ANC’s Jacob Zuma is favored to win today’s elections today in South Africa, and will face a shrinking economy, one of the highest crime rates in the world and the highest number of HIV infections globally.

The Pentagon is preparing for three to five years of war in Afghanistan, characterizing the situation there as “poor, stalemated, or deteriorating.”

President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act Tuesday, tripling the size of the AmeriCorps program over the next eight years.

Following the story of FBI or NSA wiretaps on Congressmember Jane Harman related to her conversations with Israeli intelligence? The Daily Kos says:

The questions keep piling up in the Harman story. The most galling aspect for Democrats and for those of us who’ve followed the warrantless wiretapping story is the confirmation that she helped spike the NYT wiretapping story, and perhaps the 2004 election.

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