News Day: Chicken towns / Hot property / Lutherans come to MN / Police violence on video

Photo from video by Ashley Siebel Chicken towns St. Paul may soon have more chickens, reports the Star Tribune. A proposed new ordinance would allow St. Paul residents to keep three or fewer hens without getting permission from their neighbors, and with a reduced license fee of $25. The Strib quotes St. Paul city environmental manager Bill Gunther: “I’m a city kid, and I’m thinking they’re an agrarian animal that belongs on a farm,” he said. “But there’s a shift in thinking. Chickens are nothing more than a big bird.”

Of course, St. Paul already has some backyard chickens. So do Minneapolis, Anoka and Burnsville (but not Hastings.) Minneapolis even has a chicken rescue operation. And, unlike St. Paul, Minneapolis allows roosters in its backyard flocks.

Hot property The Star Tribune tagged Lake and Knox in Minneapolis as a “hot property:”

Details: Minneapolis property owners Nick Walton and Daniel Oberpriller have gotten approvals for a two-part development at a highly visible “gateway” into the Uptown neighborhood.

The article did not mention the strong community opposition to the development, or the protest resignation of Lara Norkus-Crampton, ECCO resident and Minneapolis Planning Commission member for the past three years, when the Planning Department and Planning Commission overruled the Uptown Small Area Plan (USAP).

More unallotments Late on Friday, Governor Tim Pawlenty released notice of another round of unallotments. The $13.6 million comes from agency operating budgets for FY 2011. Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson’s letter and accompanying documents (PDF) list all of the agencies that will be affected.

MPR reports that the biggest cuts come from a Revenue Department account, the Human Services Department, and Metro Transit aid. The cuts are widespread, ranging from the governor’s office to public health outreach and education. the Natural Resources Department also received more than a million dollars in cuts.

Lutherans come to MN You thought they were already here? Well, that’s true, but this week, Minnesota’s home-grown Lutherans will be supplemented by 1,000+ delegates to the national gathering of the 4.8 million member ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The most controversial item on the agenda is “rostering” of openly gay, non-celibate pastors. While some gay and lesbian pastors already serve congregations, the synod does not officially recognize them.

The Minnesota Independent reported on leading voices on both sides of the issue last week, and the Star Tribune reported yesterday that, although a close vote is expected, the Lutherans insist that a tradition of politeness will prevail.

Episcopalians also face issues over gay and lesbian clergy, with breakaway groups trying to recruit more congregations to their ranks, as dioceses in Minnesota and Los Angeles plan to consecrate gay or lesbian bishops.

So far, the defections represent only about 5 percent of the 2.3 million total membership. But in July, the spinoff denominations announced an aggressive plan to launch 1,000 congregations in the next five years. …

On Aug. 1 — less than a month after the end of a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops that was put in place to appease restive congregations — the Diocese of Minnesota announced that one of its three nominees for bishop is the Rev. Bonnie Perry, a Chicago priest who is in a long-term same-sex relationship. The next day, the Diocese of Los Angeles included two openly gay priests on its list of nominees for assistant bishop.

Circus tumble The young performers at Circus Juventas flew through the air with their usual aplomb, but spectators tumbled to the ground last night as half of the bleachers collapsed at the end of the performance. Half of the audience of 900 fell with the bleachers, and seven people were hospitalized. Broken wrist or ankles were the most serious injuries expected, according to the Pioneer Press. The collapse happened as the audience rose to applaud the end of the final performance of the three-week run of “YuLong: The Jade Dragon” at the Circus Juventas academy’s Big Top, in St. Paul’s Highland Park.

Violent police video Minneapolis police say that they used reasonable force in a February traffic stop, but the defendant, David Jenkins, his lawyer, and the squad car video tell another story, according to a report in the Star Tribune. The county attorney’s office dropped assault charges against Jenkins “in the interest of justice” after they reviewed the video, which can be viewed on the Star Tribune website. Jenkins was stopped for allegedly going 15 miles over the speed limit. He was also charged with refusing to submit to a blood or urine test, but a judge dismissed those charges.

After being thrown to the ground by the first police officer on the scene, Jenkins was beaten and kicked and tasered three times by police.

He required seven stitches above his eye after six officers punched and kicked him while he was face-down in a snowbank. He was treated at the hospital and then jailed for four days.

Jenkins said he was the victim of an unprovoked attack simply because he had vigorously questioned Officer Richard Walker about why he was stopped and asked to talk to his supervisor.

Police chief Tim Dolan said he would review the video on Monday.

World/National News

Public option going down? The New York Times says that the “public option” for health care reform may be abandoned by the administration in favor of nonprofit health care co-ops.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to produce a bill that features a nonprofit co-op. The author of the idea, Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota and chairman of the Budget Committee, predicted Sunday that Mr. Obama would have no choice but to drop the public option.

Former Vermont governor and Democratic party chair Howard Dean disagrees, reports AP:

“You can’t really do health reform without [a public option],” he said. Dean maintained that the health insurance industry has “put enormous pressure on patients and doctors” in recent years.

He called a direct government role “the entirety of health care reform. … We shouldn’t spend $60 billion a year subsidizing the insurance industry.”

Gaza Some 13 people were killed in clashes between Hamas government forces and an extremist religious sect, reports the Washington Post:

According to wire service and eyewitness reports of Moussa’s sermon, the cleric said the group drew its inspiration from al-Qaeda, demanded that a strict Salafi form of Islam be imposed in Gaza, and criticized Hamas for its occasional meetings with Europeans and Americans, including former president Jimmy Carter.

Hamas officials said they dealt with the sect as an illegal group possessing guns and weapons.

Suicide bombing in Russia A suicide bomber in the violence-plagued North Caucasus region attacked a police station in the city of Ingushetia, killing 20 and wounding many more, reports the New York Times:

The attack seemed to further undermine the authority of Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, Ingushetia’s populist president who came to power last October vowing a softer approach in dealing with rebel violence than Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of neighboring Chechnya. It was the bloodiest single attack to hit Ingushetia for some time, though violence against police and government officials in this and other North Caucasus republics occurs almost daily. Mr. Yevkurov himself announced last week that he would soon return to work after he was seriously wounded in a suicide attack on his convoy in June. Ingushetia’s construction minister, Ruslan Amirkhanov, was assassinated in his office last week.

Iran Accusations of jailhouse violence, beatings and sexual abuse continue, reports the New York Times. Reformist cleric and presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi refuses to back down despite calls for his arrest by conservative clerics and politicians.

War Reports

Afghanistan Five days before national elections, reports the Washington Post, s suicide bombing in Kabul killed seven people and wounded dozens more.

Iraq A “witch hunt” against gay men in Baghdad has killed 90 since January, reports BBC, which says that “Mehdi army spokesmen and clerics have condemned what they call the ‘feminisation’ of Iraqi men and have urged the military to take action against them.”

Afghanistan drug money A new Senate report says that the Taliban is getting only about $70 million of the estimated $400 million in drug profits each year, reports the Los Angeles Times. According to the Times:

Al Qaeda’s dependence on drug money is even less, according to the report by the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which found that “there is no evidence that any significant amount of the drug proceeds go to Al Qaeda.” …

In one of its most disconcerting conclusions, the Senate report says the United States inadvertently contributed to the resurgent drug trade after the Sept. 11 attacks by backing warlords who derived income from the flow of illegal drugs. The CIA and U.S. Special Forces put such warlords on their payroll during the drive to overthrow the Taliban regime in late 2001.

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