News Day: Online in Iran / Unallotment strikes deep / St. Paul: Schools, students, tears / PFC case to jury /

twitpicIranOnline in Iran Everybody in the media world is buzzing and tweeting about the online revolution in Iran. Yesterday The Atlantic “reported” the story by posting an apparently unmoderated and unanalyzed Twitter feed. Jon Stewart skewered CNN for its breathless reporting, also long on direct quotes from Facebook and Twitter and short on verification (after all, it’s CNN) and analysis. The Iranian government ordered all foreign journalists to stay inside their homes or offices and report only from official sources or telephone interviews. NPR reports that the government is doing its worst to stop social media reporting:

The Revolutionary Guards, an elite body answering to the supreme leader, says Iranian Web sites and bloggers must remove any materials that “create tension” or face legal action. …

They’ve also slowed the speed of Internet access to a crawl, making the spread of video much tougher….Twitter has served as a vehicle for mobilizing protesters as well as getting out the news — but people who log onto the site couldn’t possibly keep up with all the Iran-related postings, nor can they fully sort out firsthand witnesses from posers or government provocateurs. But the Twitter updates — up to 140 characters — provide insight into plans for future rallies, strategies for avoiding censors, and links to photos and videos of new developments such as clashes with police.


Unallotment strikes deep Lots to be said, but here are some of the highlights from outside the MSM:
Have you been unallotted yet? by Scott Russell, TC Daily Planet | Where unallotment hits home for Minnesotans
‘Reckless’ and ‘unconscionable’: Reactions to T-Paw’s unallotment plan by Paul Schmelzer, Minnesota Independent | Who’s saying what among state political leadership
Conservative myths on reserve funds by Jeff Van Wychen, Minnesota 2020 | Why local government reserve funds are not as big as the governor claims
MN BUDGET BITES | Governor announces unallotment plans by Christina Wessel, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits | What the plan says
The Plan Seven pages of fine print from the governor’s office

Students, schools, tears in St. Paul Students pleading to be allowed to remain in school were not the only people with tears in their eyes at the St. Paul Board of Education meeting Tuesday night. To read about the plight of the Karen refugees who are being told to leave their school, see my story in the TC Daily Planet. Bottom line from the meeting: $25 million cut from a budget that the board reluctantly voted to pass, with one dissenting vote; decision on three school closings delayed for a month; and not much hope for the refugees. Said board member Tom Goldstein: “This is a product of what happens when a state decides to fund education on the cheap.”

Stopped at the border! A dangerous foreign infiltrator was stopped at the border by federal agents who combined information and forces from multiple federal and state agencies, reports AP.

Work by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in International Falls and Detroit helped find a small yet destructive beetle stowing away in a shipment from China.

The agency says this week the khapra beetle was found in a rail container carrying tile.

Purple boxes in the sky Are those purple boxes appearing near St. Paul trees some kind of Vikings promo? Maybe a prank by graduating seniors? Or a prelude to an alien invasion? The truth is somewhat more prosaic – the boxes are an attempt to trap the invading Emerald Ash Borers. The PiPress explains:

Each of the large kite-like traps contains a scented lure designed to attract the shiny green beetles, and each is covered with a sticky substance that prevents them from escaping. …

But purple? “In layman’s terms, they are attracted to purple,” said Ahlen, one of several people who are putting them up.

If you want to know how to tell whether the Emerald Ash Borers are invading your trees, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a checklist for you.

PFC case goes to jury The first case related to PFC water contamination by 3M went to the jury yesterday. If plaintiffs win their claim, based on damage to property values because of the PFCs, expect more cases to be filed. The Strib summarizes:

3M legally dumped perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, into landfills ending in the 1970s. The chemicals were later found in humans and animals around the world. Super-doses were shown to cause thyroid problems, cancer and birth defects in rats.

In 2004 and 2005, traces of PFCs were discovered in groundwater in a 15-mile swath of the county, from Oakdale to Hastings.

World/National News

“The Hunger Season” That’s what the next three months are called in Ethiopia. Now, reports BBC, the UN has run out of food aid and the capacity to deliver it to nine million Ethiopians who rely on food aid for their survival.

War Reports

Somalia Intense fighting continues in the capital city of Mogadishu, and BBC reports that the police chief of Mogadishu was killed as government forces attacked insurgent bases.

Pakistan BBC reports that Pakistan army troops are massing for a major offensive in South Waziristan. Fighting continues in Upper Dir and the Swat valley.

Congo DR Congo troops fired on a UN base, according to BBC:

A senior UN peacekeeper told the BBC that army commanders are not handing over soldiers’ wages.

The army and UN forces are conducting an offensive in the region against ethnic Hutu rebels many of whom fled to DR Congo after the Rwandan genocide.

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