News Day: Shredding Strike Force docs / T-Paw: “Quit whining” / Ending “Season of Fear” / more

Picture 5Shredded documents at Gang Strike Force led to Strike Force commander Capt. Chris Omodt’s decision to padlock the doors ahead of schedule yesterday, reports the Strib.

Officers in the Metro Gang Strike Force shredded documents at its headquarters late Wednesday night, hours after the state Commissioner of Public Safety announced plans for an internal investigation after a government audit found that the Strike Force couldn’t account for $18,000 in seized cash and at least 13 vehicles.

After the shredded documents were found in dumpsters and garbage cans at the Strike Force’s Brooklyn Center headquarters, Omodt ordered an immediate closing. In an email obtained by the Strib, Omodt also reported that “someone apparently shut off a computer that records when someone enters the building with a security card,” and that Strike Force members had removed documents and personal property from the building.

Adding insult to injury, Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed the tax bill and told cities and local governments that their concern over cuts to local government aid were “hogwash” and that, “Instead of just whining and complaining, they need to figure out how they can reduce their spending by a few percent.”

“Nothing short of insane” That’s Congressional Representative Betty McCollum’s characterization of the NRA/Republican success in tacking a concealed-guns-in-national-parks rider onto the credit card reform bill, reports the Minnesota Independent.

This is a shameful example of the failure of the legislative process and I would urge President Obama to veto the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights and send it back to Congress to take the guns out. What rationale is there for the need to carry a concealed weapon on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial? The only rationale can be for politicians to score political points with the NRA. Our national parks are treasures. They don’t need to be protected by random people carrying loaded, concealed weapons around millions of vacationing families.

McCollum wants President Obama to veto the bill, but that’s not going to happen. Is the bill likely to make campgrounds, or the Lincoln Memorial, less safe? Probably not, but it’s another sign of the untrammeled power of the NRA to get any damn thing it wants from Congress.

MN Job Watch Minnesota’s unemployment rate went down slightly in April, from 8.2% to 8.1%, reports the PiPress. The state also lost 9,500 more jobs, but that’s a smaller loss than in recent months.

April’s job report marks the eighth consecutive month of job losses. Over the past year, the state has lost 90,200 jobs, or 3.3 percent of its total work force. That’s a tad better than the nation’s job loss rate of 3.8 percent during the same period. The U.S. jobless rate was 8.9 percent in April.

Economists warn that we shouldn’t get too excited — the recession is still in full force, and they think the unemployment rate will climb again.

“A few” Kowalski’s employees at seven of nine metro-area stores got layoff notices, reports Dan Haugen at MinnPost, a consequence of lower sales at upscale groceries.

Strike talk is in the air at the Strib, as 103 drivers push back against the Strib’s plan to withdraw from their pension fund, setting a strike authorization vote for next Tuesday, reports David Brauer MinnPost.

• The Minnesota Hospital Association estimates that the governor’s line item veto of medical care for the poorest Minnesotans through GAMC is likely to eliminate 7,500 jobs in the state’s hospital system. The MHA says the GAMC veto will cost Hennepin County Medical Center $109 million and St. Paul Regions will lose $46 million. Steve Perry provides this grim reminder, along with a link to the MHA worksheet detailing impact across the state.

Parking, parking, parking is still the leading problem for businesses along the proposed Central Corridor route in St. Paul, reports the TC Daily Planet. “The project doesn’t have the resources to solve the problem the project itself is creating,” sums up Ax Man surplus store owner Jim Segal. University Avenue parking spaces will go from 1,215 to 212, an average of 2.5 parking spaces per block.

World/National headlines

Ending the “Season of Fear” Watch the entire Obama national security speech, delivered May 21, courtesy of The Uptake. Then read two takes on the speech from Daily Kos and the NYT. Another important, and related, event: the Obama meeting with civil liberties advocates.

Great to be gray Washington Post Especially when being old (50? 60? 65?) may mean a degree of immunity to H1N1 flu.

One in seven? Even the NYT journalist who reported on the unreleased Pentagon document that claims one in seven released Gitmo detainees is involved in terrorist or “militant” activity has doubts about her story, reports TPM, which suggests that “return to terrorism” is inaccurate because many of those arrested and then released may not have been involved BEFORE their arrest, but may have become angry and militant after years of imprisonment on Gitmo.

Another question – not answered anywhere that I have seen – is exactly what the Pentagon means by “militant activity.” Does that include any kind of political activism? Protest? Anti-American rallies and rhetoric? In short – is the Pentagon warning that ex-detainees actually are politically active after their release?

War Reports

Somalia In Mogadishu, government forces launched a major offensive, attempting to retake some of the one-third of the city held by radical Islamist groups. According to BBC, “Ten days of fierce clashes between the pro-government forces and militant Islamic groups – al-Shabab and Hisbul-Islam – have left more than 100 people dead and displaced 34,000 civilians."

Yemen As Yemen celebrated unity day, continuing conflict between north and south threatened to break out in civil war, according to BBC. Former southern military officials, forced into compulsory retirement two years ago, demanded higher pension payments and accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh of corruption. That was the beginning of what is now a push for independence for southern Yemen, now led by Tariq al-Fadhli – a prominent ally of President Saleh and a veteran of the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

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