News Day: Burn more garbage in Mpls? / One more hat in the ring / Keeping teens out of jail / Danger from IE / more

morguefile flames fuoco3Burn more garbage in Mpls? Hennepin County is going to the Minneapolis City Council for permission to burn more garbage at the downtown HERC incinerator, reports the Star Tribune. On June 22, the Minneapolis Planning Commission denied Hennepin County’s request to raise the allowable daily tonnage from by 21 percent. The Planning Commission said it could not be sure that there would be no adverse public health effects. The burner won City Council approval by a 7-6 vote back in 1987, and today’s council is not expected to be much friendlier.

A letter submitted by Senator Patricia Torres Ray to the Planning Commission summarized some of the concerns with HERC:

MPCA has not conducted a review of this facility for over 5 years. HERC has not supplied residents of the area with the required annual reports on fly ash, bottom ash, or any other hazardous materials (as required by its original C-993 Conditional Use Permit). HERC’s burning technology is now 22 years old and may be out of compliance with current regulatory EPA requirements for small pollution particles resulting from incineration and many other highly toxic materials.

And then there were … fourteen? fifteen? Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) threw his hat in the already-crowded gubernatorial ring yesterday, bringing the total number of announced candidates to 14, with one more (Rep. Marty Seifert) expected to announce today. And that’s only counting the two major parties.

Keeping teens out of jail The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative is credited with a 57 percent drop in youth detention in Ramsey County and a 33 percent drop in Hennepin and Dakota counties since 2005, reports the Strib:

The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative is based on research showing that most young offenders don’t need to be jailed to get them to show up in court or keep the streets safe, organizers said. That’s especially true for lower-risk offenders who enter detention because of truancy, curfew violations and fifth-degree assault.

The three counties are part of a national test of JDAI programs, backed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The foundation’s 2008 Juvenile Justice Fact Sheet says that indiscriminate incarceration of juveniles is “expensive, abusive and bad for public safety.” It also cites pervasive racial disparities in the system:

• Surveys show that compared with white youth, African-American teens commit slightly more violent crime, about the same amount of property crime, and less drug crime. Yet African-American youth are arrested at dramatically higher rates than white youth for all types of crime.

• Once arrested, African-American teens are more likely to be detained than white youth; more likely to be formally charged in juvenile court; more likely to be placed into a locked correctional facility (and less likely to receive probation), once adjudicated; more likely to be waived to adult court; and more likely to be incarcerated in an adult prison, once waived to adult court.

• Careful studies repeatedly find that these disproportionate outcomes cannot be explained by higher offending rates among minority youth.

Sauce for the gander Businesses are protesting Governor Tim Pawlenty’s decision to delay sales tax refunds for major equipment purchases. The delay is similar to the governor’s “shifting” of state school aid, which delays payments to schools into the next fiscal year. Manufacturers will wait an average of 45 extra days for their refunds, reports MPR.

World/National Headlines

“Zero day” danger for Internet Explorer Microsoft announced that a vulnerability that allows hackers to remotely seize control of computers of Internet Explorer users running the Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 operating software:

Security experts say criminals have been attacking the vulnerability for nearly a week. Thousands of sites have been hacked to serve up malicious software that exploits the vulnerability. People are drawn to these sites by clicking a link in spam e-mail.

According to AP, Microsoft is urging vulnerable users to go to its website for a patch.

(In another reassuring cyber-story, NPR reports that Social Security numbers are hackable.)

China arrests The Chinese government has arrested more than 1400 people as it tries to shut down protests by the Muslim Uighur minority in Urumqi – the capital of Xinjiang, reports BBC. More than 150 people have died since Sunday and more than 800 have been injured. Han Chinese say that the dead are mostly Han, and Uighurs say they are mostly Uighurs. A BBC reporter in the city:

There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Han Chinese marching through the city with homemade weapons – steel poles, bamboo sticks.

They’ve been chanting that they’re going to protect Xinjiang, protect themselves and their homes, and also chanting “down with Uighurs”.

We’ve seen reinforcements of armed police arrive in the city.

Mexico Mexican mid-term elections yielded a majority for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), reports BBC. PRI dominated Mexican politics for seven decades until 1997. The National Action Party (PAN) of President Felipe Calderon and the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) are the other two main parties.

Liberia Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to resign, reports BBC, because she backed former strongman Charles Taylor’s campaign for president years ago, before repudiating him. Taylor is now on trial for war crimes in the Hague. Sirleaf appeared before the commission in February, and said she had been “fooled” into supporting Taylor and apologized, adding: “I feel it in my conscience. I feel it every day.”

War Reports

Afghanistan Seven U.S. troops were killed in Afghanistan, reports AP, as the war ratchets up across the country.

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