NEWS DAY | Arsenic in Minneapolis / I-94 closing / more

This is the weekend edition of News Day, unless something incredibly big or irresistibly crazy (think Emmer’s $100,000 waiter gaffe) surfaces before Monday. I’ll be working on my garden, and on some articles about the status of women and girls in Minnesota – watch for them next week. So – keep reading for the latest on arsenic dumping in Minneapolis, one more way rich people are different from the rest of us, anti-immigrant graffiti in St. Cloud, the Oakland police non-murder verdict, and more.

Arsenic dumping in Minneapolis? @ChrisSteller and the E-Democracy Forum are keeping an eye on the North Minneapolis lot where the arsenic-tainted dirt removed from South Minneapolis is dumped prior to being taken to a landfill. Doesn’t sound good – Chris writes:

I thought the lot on E. Hennepin Avenue would be clear by now of the piles of arsenic-tainted dirt removed from South Minneapolis. There was a big flurry of activity after it hit the news a month ago, with trucks apparently taking dirt away to a landfill. But the property is apparently still in use as a staging area, with several huge piles of dirt, some being added to, some being taken away. I spoke with the business owner across the street whose complaints were in the original Fox9 story. He says new dirt to go back into South Minneapolis yards is now sharing the lot with the arsenic dirt that was taken out, and intermingled when the same trucks are used to haul both. And he says new polluted soil is still being trucked in to this location instead of straight to a landfill. I took photos showing the different dirt piles and the house across the street, and of the business owners hand after he wiped a TV screen inside his office. The voicemail box for the EPA project manager is full.

Stay off I-94 eastbound this weekend! In St. Paul, eastbound I-94 will be closed from Highway 280 to I-35 E all weekend. In Minneapolis, both directions will be closed between I-35W and 394. Closings begin at 10 p.m. on Friday. More info from MNDOT.

Nine candidates are running for DFL endorsement in SD 67 – that’s the seat that Mee Moua is vacating. Politics in Minnesota has short bios of all nine: John Harrington, Foung Hawj (Heu), Tom Hilber, chai Lee, Vang T. Lor, Jim McGowan, Trayshana P. Thomas, Avi Viswanathan, and Cha Yang.

Comments on the PIM article protest the lack of inclusion of GOP candidates. For the record, Krysia Weidell is running as a Republican and Dino Guerin as an independent – which is not really relevant for the August 10 primary, since they are both unopposed in their parties. But hey – if you want to complain, just hit the comment button and don’t worry about facts. Interesting that not one of the commenters/critics of the PIM article named the Republican candidate.

Anti-immigrant graffiti in St. Cloud targeted the Hormud Meat & Grocery, opened in August by Hared Jibril. The St. Cloud Times reported on reactions from Jibril and neighboring business owner Linda Wander:

“Out of all of the tenants that have come and gone here, they are the nicest and friendliest tenants I have had,” Wander said.

“This is ridiculous. This is complete ignorance. My stomach fell. I was sick. It almost brought me to tears.”

Alimad, who is self-employed, said whoever painted the storefront is ignorant.

“It is someone who does not understand the value of America,” Alimad said. “People work here. We live here. We pay taxes here.”

CAIR-MN’s press release noted:

[The] store vandalism comes following a series of recent incidents in St. Cloud targeting the Somali Muslim community. In December, anti-Muslim cartoons were posted outside the mosque and Muslim businesses. In March, a New Hope man was arrested after he posted threats on Craigslist targeting a Somali cultural event. Also in March, CAIR-MN responded to an anti-Islam newspaper advertisement, headlined “Does the Islamic Religion Represent a Threat to America.” In May, CAIR-MN welcomed the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to investigate complaints of racial tensions in St. Cloud high schools.

The Catholic Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul is heading for a makeover, reports the Star Tribune, with announcements coming in October to include parish closings:

The Twin Cities archdiocese serves about 650,000 Catholics in 217 parishes.

There are 93 elementary schools and 14 secondary schools with a total enrollment of 36,000. It also includes four hospitals, six nursing homes, six monastic communities and 10 retreat centers.

Rich deadbeats? The New York Times reports that one in seven million-dollar-plus home mortgages is in default – compared to only one in twelve under-one-million dollar mortgages.

Though it is hard to prove, the CoreLogic data suggest that many of the well-to-do are purposely dumping their financially draining properties, just as they would any sour investment.

“The rich are different: they are more ruthless,” said Sam Khater, CoreLogic’s senior economist.

The data add fuel to the controversy over “strategic defaults,” in which homeowners simply walk away when their home’s mortgage exceeds its worth. According to a recent paper from the University of Arizona, most homeowners do not “just walk away,” but maybe that’s just one more way the rich are different from the rest of us.

Despite reports that homeowners are increasingly “walking away” from their mortgages, most homeowners continue to make their payments even when they are significantly underwater. This article suggests that most homeowners choose not to strategically default as a result of two emotional forces: 1) the desire to avoid the shame and guilt of foreclosure; and 2) exaggerated anxiety over foreclosure’s perceived consequences. Moreover, these emotional constraints are actively cultivated by the government and other social control agents in order to encourage homeowners to follow social and moral norms related to the honoring of financial obligations – and to ignore market and legal norms under which strategic default might be both viable and the wisest financial decision. Norms governing homeowner behavior stand in sharp contrast to norms governing lenders, who seek to maximize profits or minimize losses irrespective of concerns of morality or social responsibility. This norm asymmetry leads to distributional inequalities in which individual homeowners shoulder a disproportionate burden from the housing collapse.


(1) Another white policeman found not guilty of murdering another young black man – this time in Oakland, California, where a jury decided that when former BART officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back as Grant lay handcuffed and facedown on the ground, that was manslaughter, not murder. has many reports from the streets and people.

(2) Democracy Now has a lengthy report on the 27,000 unmonitored, abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

War reports: Heading into the weekend, Reuters reports that a suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 65 people

The bomber blew himself up as hundreds of people were gathered around the office of a senior government official in Pakistan’s northwestern Mohmand region, where security forces have stepped up attacks on Taliban militants in recent weeks. …

Two suicide bombers killed at least 42 people in an attack on Pakistan’s most important Sufi shrine in the eastern city of Lahore last week.


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2 responses to “NEWS DAY | Arsenic in Minneapolis / I-94 closing / more

  1. lianslimb

    I’m curious, had you heard about the Oscar Grant story before this week?


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