NEWS DAY | Elections tomorrow / FBI in MN / Psychologist crosses the line / Afghan presidency / more

vote_thumbElection day tomorrow For Minneapolis voters, it will be a first experience with the new Ranked Choice Voting system, which is part of the reason for a plethora of candidates from across the political spectrum — and beyond. (That’s especially true in the mayor’s race, which includes the Edgertonite (“Laura Ingalls Wilder is God”) and “Is Awesome” candidates.)

And, just in time for the election, the marijuana citation issues in September for mayoral candidate Al Flowers was dismissed on Friday. Flowers was in the home of a long-time friend when police raided the premises looking for an alleged gang member with several drug convictions. The Star Tribune reported Flowers’ reaction:

“I can never gain back what they did to my reputation,” Flowers said. “I’m just happy to move on.”

Over in St. Paul, the school board race is most likely to provide drama, and a vote on changing St. Paul’s municipal election system to Ranked Choice Voting is also on the ballot.

Other races: Minneapolis city council elections, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, a referendum on the Minneapolis Board of Estimates and Taxation, and the St. Paul mayoral race.

In other parts of the country, reports the New York Times:
• New Jersey Democratic Governor Jon S. Corzine faces a strong challenge from Republican Christopher J. Christie. President Obama has strongly supported Governor Corzine.
• In upstate New York, Republican Congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava withdrew this weekend. Scozzafava had been under attack from the right wing of the Republican party, as a moderate and a supporter of abortion rights. Many national GOP leaders, including Tim Pawlenty, endorsed her Conservative Party opponent, Douglas Hoffman. Surprisingly, Scozzafava then endorsed Democratic candidate Bill Owens.
• In New York City, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to easily win a third term, after greatly outspending his Democratic opponent, Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.

Here come the feds The FBI may oversee a new gang strike force unit that would “would combine personnel from city, state and federal law enforcement,” reports MPR. Based on the description by Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion, the charge of the new unit would look quite a bit different from the Metro Gang Strike Force:

It will really focus on those career criminals, those repeat offenders and those criminal enterprises that continue to cause problems here in Minnesota.

And that’s not all the FBI has been up to lately in the Twin Cities. MPR reports that the FBI has been looking for forged folk art, and one of the places they’ve been looking is the Weisman Museum’s Clementine Hunter paintings. Weisman officials say the FBI hasn’t told them that any of their paintings are forgeries, and, in any event, none are currently on display. That may changes as word of the FBI investigation spurs interest in the Weisman’s 38 Clementine Hunter paintings.

Psychologist crossing the line The woman had multiple personalities, thought she had been captured and subjected to government mind control experiments, and said a satanic cult was trying to control her with lasers. You might think that being in therapy would help her – but the therapist gave her dark glasses to ward off the “lasers,” and “encouraged her to concoct even crazier theories,” reports the Star Tribune.

St. Cloud psychologist Suzanne James explained to state investigators that her patient “had been set up from conception to become the bride of the High One at age 50 and at that point she would supervise the cult rituals.” When the woman’s psychiatrist objected to James’s unorthodox behavior and “treatment,” James told her patient to stop seeing the psychiatrist. Yet, despite the investigating board’s conclusion that James is “unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety,” it merely limited her practice for two years, and did not revoke her license. The Strib reports on the difficulty faced by peer reviewing boards:

R. Christopher Barden, a lawyer and psychologist who served on the Minnesota Board of Psychology in the 1990s, said licensing boards struggle with inherent conflicts of interest because they’re supervising their peers. In a previous interview with another newspaper, Barden described such agencies as “captured boards” that act more like therapists than regulators aimed at protecting the public.

World/National news

Ford posts profits, workers reject concessions Ford announced nearly $1 billion in profits in the second quarter of 2009, despite an $800 million drop in revenues, reports the Washington Post. The profit was mainly due to debt reductions that reduced interest payments, according to the company, but Ford expects to be “solidly profitable” by 2011. It has not posted a full-year profit since 2005, but is in substantialy better shape than GM and Chrysler.

Last week, workers rejected contract concessions that had been negotiated by the UAW:

Workers objected to clauses limiting their right to strike and freezing entry-level wages, and felt the company was healthy enough and didn’t need further concessions.

“Winning” presidency in Afghanistan After opposition candidate Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the presidential run-off election, scheduled for November 7, the Afghan election commission canceled the election and declared President Hamid Karzai the winner, reports the New York Times. Karzai won the most votes in the August election, in which fraud was so widespread that almost a million ballots were thrown out.

Mr. Karzai and Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission had been under intense pressure from Afghanistan’s international backers, including the United States, to cancel the second round of voting because of fears relating to security and a potential repetition of the massive vote-rigging that marred the first round.

Abdullah said that the election could not be legitimate since it is run by the same officials who conducted the fraud-ridden vote in August. Abdullah told BBC that his decision was in the best interests of the country because the election “might not restore the faith of the people in (the) democratic process.”

Dr Abdullah – a Tajik-Pashtun former eye surgeon – served as foreign minister in the short-lived government headed by the Northern Alliance, and continued as “foreign minister in exile” throughout the years of Taliban rule, which ended in 2001.

He continued in the role in the government that was formed by President Karzai after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, leaving it five years later.

Pakistan A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people in the garrison town of Rawalpindi Monday morning, reports the New York Times. The attack apparently targeted the Pakistan military, with the bomb detonated a few hundred yards from army headquarters. Many soldiers were among the dead and wounded.

The UN announced Monday that it was suspending development projects in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the North-West Frontier Province, and would focus only on emergency assistance and humanitarian aid.

Congo The UN has withdrawn support from a unit of the Democratic Republic of Congo army because of that unit’s massacres of civilians between April and September, reports BBC. The UN had supported a joint offensive by Congolese and Rwandan militaries against the Hutu rebel FDLR forces, which fled to the area after being accused of participation in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Rights groups estimate hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands of women and girls have been raped by rebels and soldiers since DR Congo and Rwanda launched a joint offensive in January.

Last month a UN investigator said the army had massacred refugees and gang-raped women at the Shalio camp in North Kivu on 27 April.

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