Pawlenty’s sound and fury / Flu, shots, and more info than MDH has / Goodbye, Mary

© Xavier - Fotolia.com

© Xavier - Fotolia.com

Pawlenty cuts state funds to ACORN! Oops, no he didn’t. T-Paw ordered yesterday that state money going to ACORN be cut off immediately. ACORN wasn’t getting any state funds, so his big announcement was … just a big announcement, full of sound and fury and signifying presidential ambitions. From MPR:

Chris Stinson, a spokesman for ACORN’s Minnesota chapter, said he’s puzzled by Gov. Pawlenty’s directive to halt funds to his group, since ACORN currently doesn’t receive any state funds.

“The fact that we’re receiving no money and [Pawlenty] issued an announcement that he’s cutting off funding that doesn’t exist, I think is a politically motivated move,” Stinson said.

Pawlenty, who is a potential candidate for president in 2012, is reportedly the first governor to take such action.

Cough, sneeze, repeat – flu is here The federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that flu is “widespread” in Minnesota, its highest category. That would be the flu variously known as H1N1 novel influenza, swine flu, or pandemic flu.

Students at the U of M lined up for flu shots for the “regular” flu, available to students who are 18 or over. Lots of places, including my doctor’s office, haven’t received the “regular flu” vaccine yet, due in part to delays from one of the manufacturers. And the swine flu vaccine won’t arrive until mid-October.

Getting “regular flu” shots The Minnesota Department of Health has a flu shot listing that sort of works — mdhflu.com. But the MDH listing is woefully incomplete. The only place it lists within ten miles of St. Paul for the next week is the Health Partners clinic in Bloomington on September 21, with flu shots costing $50. A series of phone calls turned up additional places at lower costs and more accessible locations.

The CVS-run Minute Clinics have flu shots daily, for $30 cash, and a CVS spokesperson notes that most insurance plans will cover that cost. The 24 Minnesota Minute Clinics tend to be in suburban locations, including Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Woodbury, Edina, and New Hope. The Minneapolis Minute Clinic is located at the International Center, 920 2nd Avenue South. The St. Paul Minute Clinic is located in the Centennial Building near the State Capitol at 658 Cedar Street. Hours vary, and you’ll probably need to go on-line for information, because nurse practitioners at the clinics “are swamped and probably won’t answer the phone,” according to the spokesperson at the national office. (I tried, and he’s right about that.)

Cub Food Stores also have flu shots right now, but you need to check their locator to find out the dates and times for individual stores. Other places with flu shots at various future dates are:
Snyder Drug Stores
Target
Lunds and Byerlys
Walgreen
Walmart
Regular CVS pharmacies

As for the swine flu shots, there’s been a lot of talk on the blogs about their safety. People have raised questions about how this vaccine could be developed and brought to market so quickly, and have voiced concerns about the 1976 flu  vaccine debacle. NPR’s Talk of the Nation had answers:

[T]hings are completely different today. The vaccine that’s going to be used during this fall’s swine flu vaccine campaign is based on the flu vaccine that we get every single year, the seasonal flu vaccine.What it is is they’re changing out the strain that is in the normal, seasonal flu vaccine and putting in this one. And that’s been tested for years, been put into tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people in this country without any major side effects other than the normal, very, very low level of side effects that you might see with any vaccine.

The fact that the swine flu vaccine is built on the regular vaccine also explains how it was produced so quickly.

Meanwhile – cover those coughs, just like Mama told you, and stay home if you are sick!

MN Job Watch Rainbow Play Systems is laying off more workers, reports the Star Tribune, cutting 60 jobs at its Brookings, SD and Albert Lea, MN plants.

CEO Greg Foster said the cost-cutting measures also include shifting some production to China.

It was the fourth round of layoffs at the company this year. Rainbow had 1,100 workers in April when 74 jobs were cut. That was followed by 25 cuts in May and another 71 in August.

Reforming the student loan system It’s really pretty simple: stop subsidizing private banks. Repubicans say the proposal now before Congress is risky, while Democrats emphasize that it would save $80 billion, according to the Washington Post news report. But leave it to New York Times columnist Gail Collins to explain the change in simple terms:

Let us stop here and recall how the current loan system works:

1) Federal government provides private banks with capital.

2) Federal government pays private banks a subsidy to lend that capital to students.

3) Federal government guarantees said loans so the banks don’t have any risk.

And now, the proposed reform:

1) The federal government makes the loans.

Wow. You really do wonder why nobody came up with this idea before.

Goodbye, Mary Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary died yesterday of cancer. I grew up on PPM folk songs, including civil rights and peace anthems “If I Had a Hammer” and “Blowing in the Wind” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” The New York Times obituary includes many tributes to her, but the best tribute is the continuing resonance of the inspiring music she made. The music of Peter, Paul and Mary will continue to “hammer out love between the brothers and the sisters, all over this land.”

If you can’t find those old vinyl albums or a record player to put them on, here are the YouTube links to see and hear her  one more time (and then go to wherever you actually buy music and buy the music to keep):

If I Had a Hammer
Blowing in the Wind
Puff the Magic Dragon
Leaving on a Jet Plane
The Times, They are a’Changing

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