NEWS DAY | Public wants public option / Jon Stewart on H1N1 / More

© nicolasjoseschirado -

© nicolasjoseschirado -

Public option or private bankruptcy A clear majority of 57 percent supports a public option for health care reform, according to the latest Washgton Post-ABC News poll. That’s up from a mid-August low point of 52 percent, but down from June’s 62 percent in favor of a public option. A majority of Republicans support a limited public option:

If a public plan were run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for it jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be in favor of it, about double their level of support without such a limitation.

The poll finds less clarity in the verdict on plans moving through Congress right now:

There are also deep splits in the new poll over whether the proposed changes would go too far or not far enough in expanding coverage and controlling costs. Twice as many see the plan as leaning toward too much government involvement, but since last month there has been a nine-point increase in the number who say government should be more involved.

Senator Al Franken is backing a proposal that would make it easier for people with high medical bills to file for bankruptcy, according to MinnPost:

Franken and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee said that a large number of U.S. bankruptcies are filed each year because of medical debt and that those numbers are increasing because of rising health care costs and the recession. They argued that medical debts should be treated differently than those accrued through such things as divorce or credit card bills.

The Star Tribune reported that about 45,700 Minnesotans lost their health insurance this year because they lost their jobs, brining the total number of uninsured working adults in the state to 398,300, about 13 percent.  According to the Star Tribune, “More than 60 percent of Americans under 65 get their coverage through their jobs or a spouse’s job.”

Jon Stewart explains H1N1, vaccination Stewart looked at the vaccination debate last night, asking “Is the vaccine a deadly poison, and will we have enough of it?” He concluded that the arguments for getting vaccinated against H1N1 are to protect against a potentially deadly disease and to protect those around you from infection. And the arguments against getting the shot, says Stewart, are … the government is out to get you and so is science.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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Daily Show
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Political Humor Health Care Crisis

For a slightly more nuanced view, see the MN Department of Health flu website or call their new flu hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Imams, airline reach settlement After a seven-hour-plus conference Monday in St. Paul with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, the six imams and U.S. Airways reached a settlement, reports MPR. The terms of the settlement, which still awaits approval by federal districct judge Ann Montgomery, are confidential. The Council on Islamic American Relations released a statement that said, in part:

“This case sends a strong message to everybody,” Shahin said. “And at the same time we still encourage everyone to report any suspicious activity. But we should handle it in a very professional way. We should not humiliate anybody, we should not underestimate anybody, we should not do wrong to anybody.”

The six imams were returning to Phoenix after attending a conference in the Twin Cities in November 2006. They were removed from the plane after some passengers told authorities that they thought the imams were a threat. The imams had said evenign prayers in Arabic in the airport concourse before boarding the plane. They had also switched seats so that one of the group, who was blind, would have a companion sitting beside him.

Authorities removed the Muslim prayer leaders from the Phoenix-bound flight in November 2006 while they were returning home from a conference of the North American Imams Federation in Minneapolis. The removal was prompted by passenger complaints, based mainly on the prayers, and on a statement that someone in the gorup had criticized U.S. policy on Iraq. Airport police handcuffed and questioned the imams for several hours before releasing them, and U.S. Airways refused to book them on another flight.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery had already ruled, in rejecting a motion to dismiss, that  “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.”

Finding jobs, helping job-seekers Minnesota’s WorkForce Centers are the one-stop destination for unemployed workers, the place to file for unemployment compensation benefits, report on your job search, get help from job counselors, use computers to search for jobs, and apply for retraining funds to update skills. Increasingly, however, the WorkForce Centers are overwhelmed by more than 200,000 job-seekers, about eight people for every available job. Even the stimulus money that pays for some staff increases is not enough, reports MPR.

“We track how many people walk into the WorkForce Centers and what services they use and overall, we’re up 40 percent from last year, statewide,” said Bonnie Elsey, director of the workforce development division of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Elsey said, even with a lot of stimulus money and all kinds of efforts to stretch those dollars, the WorkForce Centers will need several million more to make it through the fiscal year ending in June of 2010.

St. Paul superintendent search St. Paul Board of Education chair Kazoua Kong-Thao announced at last night’s board meeting that six semi-finalists have been selected, but said that she doesn’t know who they are, according to a Star Tribune report. The search firm has identified the semi-finalists and is scheduling public interviews for November 13-14, at which point the names presumably will become public.

The search firm — Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates Ltd. — is still accepting applications at this time, and Kong-Thao says “We’re still looking.”

CORRECTION: Doug Belden (Pioneer Press) emails that he attended a candidate forum today (Oct. 21), at which Elona Street-Stewart said the Strib report was incorrect — the board does not yet have six semifinalists selected, but will identify them and and conduct public interviews.

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