NEWS DAY | MPCA: Oops / H1N1 update / Atrazine on Halloween / Reporting on the economy

Hear No Evil , See No Evil , Speak No Evil

Scott Maxwell -

MPCA: Oops The MPCA has apologized for issuing a gag order telling a Carver County Commissioner that he couldn’t talk about the problematic septic system at the Waconia Events Center. The Star Tribune reports that the apology came about a week after the gag order, and said, in part, “The letter of warning was not intended to limit your rights to vocalize concerns or comments, either publicly or privately.”

The MPCA, of course, has absolutely no legal authority to order anyone to stop talking about anything. As for “warning” someone about talking – same deal. As one comment in the Star Tribune suggests, “This should really raise a red flag. Does the MPCA need a shakeup in management to get back to it’s roots of pollution control?”

H1N1 update: Two schools closed, 266 hospitalized, 12 deaths New information released by the Minnesota Department of Health shows 266 people hospitalized last week and two more deaths, bringing the H1N1 deaths in MN to 12, according to the Pioneer Press. Some 288 schools reported flu outbreaks.

WCCO reported that St. Paul Academy and Summit High School are closed today because of flu, and students already have tomorrow off because of teacher conferences. Some 30 percent of their students are at home with the flu. Salem Lutheran in Stillwater also closed for the rest of the week because of flu.

The Star Tribune reports that 915 Minnesotans have been hospitalized with H1N1 complications since spring, including 655 since September 1, and that most of the hardest-hit patients between the ages of five and 18.

Atrazine on Halloween A Minnesota review of atrazine safety by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the state’s Department of Health, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is due out around Halloween, according to MinnPost. That’s a few weeks after the feds announced the beginning of a major review of the controversial pesticide.

In MinnPost, Will Souder explains:

Atrazine was first licensed in the United States in 1958, and for many years was the most heavily used pesticide in the world. It has also been one of the most frequently detected contaminants of water. Atrazine and its breakdown compounds have been found in lakes, streams, reservoirs, clouds, rain, snow, fog, and in water ready for human consumption from drinking-water systems in agricultural areas. …
The new EPA review follows media accounts of inadequate monitoring and regulation of community water systems and a damning report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) last August that accused the agency of ignoring atrazine contamination in drinking water and in natural watersheds across the Midwest.

The European Union banned use of atrazine in 2003. Critics point to its persistence in drinking water and to spikes in atrazine presence in drinking water that are not measured well. They also argue that, whether or not atrazine is carcinogenic, it is linked ot various other problems, has been shown to cause deformities in frogs, and is an endocrine disruptor.

Economy up, economy down, and joblessness continues The economy “grew at a 3.5 percent pace in the third quarter, the best showing in two years,” signaling an end to the reccession, according to an AP report published in the Pioneer Press today. That’s good news, says the AP, despite the fact that joblessness is growing and wages are declining. But wait – another AP report published in the Star Tribune described “signs of a weaker housing market and a gloomier outlook on the economy” causing the stock market to slide.

Somehow economists and the media accept the end of a recession is measured in terms of “economic growth,” despite the fact that unemployment is still increasing. But even stranger is the seesaw reporting that has “a gloomy outlook” in one report and “the best showing in two years” in another.

Meanwhile, this morning’s figures from the Department of Labor show 530,000 new unemployment claims last week.

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