News Day: Eviction stopped / Six imams win court ruling / Fong Lee cop in court again / McCollum and Medicare / Krugman’s four pillars of health care reform

Picture 3Last-minute reprieve Rosemary Williams, who has been fighting foreclosure and eviction to stay in her south Minneapolis home, got a reprieve on Friday, the day she received a final eviction notice. MPR reports:

Minneapolis city council member Elizabeth Glidden announced that she helped secure negotiations between GMAC Mortgage and the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, a local non-profit developer. Under the proposed agreement, the non-profit would sell the house to another local non-profit, which would then lease it back to Williams.

Fong Lee case cop and another gun story Minneapolis police officer Jason Anderson, accused of planting a gun in the Fong Lee shooting case, was also accused of planting a gun in March 2008 on Quenton Tyrone Williams. Williams, who was convicted of drug dealing, is appealing his conviction, and claims Anderson planted a gun on him. Anderson testified at trial that he did not plant the gun and that he was a member of the now-disbanded Metro Gang Strike Force at the time of the arrest.

In the Fong Lee case, the Pioneer Press reports:

[Fong Lee’s] parents and siblings sued Andersen and the city for wrongful death. The case languished in relative obscurity until March, when lawyers for the family filed a motion with an explosive claim: They said witnesses and a surveillance video showed the teen was unarmed. They said evidence suggested the gun found a few feet from the dead man’s body was planted by police after the shooting.

The case went to trial in May, and a jury ruled Andersen did not use excessive force. (The lawyers filed an appeal last week.) On the witness stand, Andersen vehemently denied planting the gun, saying he had never touched it.

At this time, Anderson is suspended with pay, because of a domestic assault case, and is scheduled to appear in court on Muly 27 in that case.

Andersen, 32, has been on paid leave since Big Lake police arrested him. His six-week leave following the domestic assault arrest is in stark contrast to the two days he spent on leave following his 2006 fatal shooting of Fong Lee, 19, in a Minneapolis schoolyard.

Six imams can sue The lawsuit by six imams who were ejected from a U.S. Airways flight in 2006 will go to trial, according to a ruling handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge Ann Olson Montgomery. The judge’s ruling, which denied motions to dismiss made by an FBI agent and the Metropolitan Airport Commission, reads in part:

When a law enforcement officer exercises the power of the Sovereign over its citizens, she or he has a responsibility to operate within the bounds of the Constitution and cannot raise the specter of 9/11 as an absolute exception to that responsibility…no reasonable officer could have believed they could arrest Plaintiffs without probable cause.

Medicare fix agreement Congress member Betty McCollum announced an agreement on Medicare reform that would help higher-efficiency, lower-reimbursement states, including Minnesota. According to Minnesota Independent:

The Medicare pact also includes $4 billion in funding for both 2012 and 2013 to soften the blow as states adjust to the new reimbursement system. In addition, the agreement calls for another study looking at ways to reward efficient health-care delivery through Medicare, to be completed by 2011.

Minneapolis loyalty test The new neighborhood program is looking for a Deputy Director for Neighborhood and Community
Relations. Among the qualifications for the $80,000+ job, according to the job listing:

(5) The person occupying the position needs to be accountable to, loyal to, and compatible with the mayor, the city council, and the department head.

World/National News

Krugman on health care Paul Krugman, in his usual incisive style, summarizes the basics of health care perform in a New York Times column that takes on the Blue Dogs and their bad faith efforts to stop that reform. Krugman’s summary:

Reform, if it happens, will rest on four main pillars: regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition.

By regulation I mean the nationwide imposition of rules that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your medical history, or dropping your coverage when you get sick. This would stop insurers from gaming the system by covering only healthy people.

On the other side, individuals would also be prevented from gaming the system: Americans would be required to buy insurance even if they’re currently healthy, rather than signing up only when they need care. And all but the smallest businesses would be required either to provide their employees with insurance, or to pay fees that help cover the cost of subsidies — subsidies that would make insurance affordable for lower-income American families.

Finally, there would be a public option: a government-run insurance plan competing with private insurers, which would help hold down costs.

That’s the current health care reform debate in a nutshell. As Krugman also points out, elminating any one of the four “pillars” would kill health care reform.

Now, the plan is not the single-payer, universal-coverage public health care that many of us (including me) think would be the best solution, but it is a huge improvement over the current private health insurance disaster. And, as some NPR commentator pointed out months ago, real reform may take several steps over many years.

As the August recess approaches, drug and insurance companies are mobilizing their money and troops to pressure Congress members to kill reform. As in many other debates, the right wing will mobilize millions of emails and letters and phone calls, to go along with the billions of dollars that are already in play against health care reform. The key question for reform may be whether its supporters can respond with equal numbers and passion.

Iran protests continue The opposition sent a letter of protest about repression of dissent to religious authorities the day after the funeral of a young man whose father is a former Revolutionary Guard and current opposition figure. The letter said the current repression is “reminiscent of the oppressive rule of the shah.”

Mr. Ruholamini said he had tried for days to find his son, who was arrested in Tehran on July 9. Finally he was directed to the morgue, where he found his son’s body, brutally beaten, his mouth “smashed,” according to an account by a retired senior Revolutionary Guards commander that was posted on various Iranian Web sites and blogs. The report said that Iranian newspapers refused to publish the account.

In the meantime, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has yielded to religious pressure and canceled the appointment his first vice-president, who was thought to be too friendly to Israel. He then appointed the man, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, as a top adviser. BBC reports that Ahmadinejad also dismissed his intelligence minister and that the culture minister quit, citing the “weakness” of the government.

Zelaya on the border The Honduran military agreed to the July 22 San José Accord, which would allow President Manuel Zelaya to return. Zelaya has appeared on the border twice this weekend, but remains in Nicaragua, according to BBC.

In the meantime, however, thousands of troops had been deployed to tighten security along the border to prevent Mr. Zelaya from returning. And thousands of his supporters defied government curfews and military roadblocks, by abandoning their cars and hiking for hours to reach the remote border post to see him.

War Reports

Iraq As people gathered for the funeral of a police officer killed the night before, a suicide bomber detonated his vest, killing five people, including two police officers, in the Anbar province town of Khladiyah, reports the New York Times. Gunmen also killed five people and wounded 12 in an attack on a money exchange in Baghdad.

BBC reports that a car bomb attack on a Sunni party headquarters in Falluja killed at least four people and wounded at least 23.

Afghanistan Six Taliban fighters with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades and suicide vests attacked a police station in Khost and a nearby bank, but all were killed before they could detonate their suicide vests, according to the New York Times. A seventh attacker was killed after detonating a car full of explosives, and an eighth may have escaped. About 14 people were wounded.

In other news from Afghanistan, the government announced that it has reached an election truce with the Taliban in the north-western province of Badghis , according to BBC. The government says the Taliban there have agreed not to attack polling places during next month’s presidential election.

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