‘I can’t breathe’ in Minneapolis

“I cannot breathe,” the black man tells the white police officer kneeling on his neck. “Don’t kill me!”

The man is on the ground, on his stomach, handcuffed behind his back. He is wedged against the tire of the patrol car, near 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis.


In broad daylight.

In front of a crowd of witnesses. At least one of of the witnesses videotapes the whole thing, as the man pleads with police to get off of his neck, as he says he can’t breathe, as he gradually stops talking and stops moving. Continue reading


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Pandemic Profiteering


Photo by Jernej Furman, published under Creative Commons license.

Big banks, billionaires, and small-time grifters: all are out for themselves, and profiting from the pandemic at the cost of small businesses, health care workers, and people suffering from COVID-19. Continue reading

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Covid, Corrupt Contracts, and Cadets at Risk


Photo by Jernej Furman, published under Creative Commons license

Everybody knows that awarding no-bid contracts for medical equipment delivery to political cronies stinks of corruption. In my opinion, using West Point cadets to provide a captive audience for a president, at the risk of their health and safety, is equally corrupt.

We’ll be uncovering corrupt contracts for years to come, but one particularly egregious example has already surfaced: a no-bid contract for N-95 masks awarded to Panthera Worldwide, which filed for bankruptcy last fall: Continue reading

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‘Just Shoveling Money to Rich People’

money bags

Photo by 401kcalculator.org, published under Creative Commons license

Stimulus checks and small business relief were prominent parts of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March. Now some of the less-publicized provisions are coming to light. On April 24, the New York Times reported on tax breaks to the very wealthy embedded in the CARES Act:

“As part of the economic rescue package that became law last month, the federal government is giving away $174 billion in temporary tax breaks overwhelmingly to rich individuals and large companies, according to interviews and government estimates. Continue reading

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Dying for Pork Chops and Chicken


Photo at https://www.pikrepo.com/fdihp/raw-meat-in-clear-plastic-pack, used under Creative Commons license

Agustín Rodriguez died in South Dakota, one of more than 640 people infected with COVID-19 connected to the Smithfield pork processing plant near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Like many other plant employees, he was a refugee who was willing to work long hours in a physically demanding job. They routinely put up with pain, icing sore wrists at night and living on ibuprofen, but glad to have jobs that let them support their families. Then came the coronavirus, sweeping through the ranks of workers cutting meat in close quarters without protective gear.

The New York Times interviewed many of the Smithfield workers, including Achut Deng, a refugee from Sudan who thought the virus could not be worse than what she had already survived: Continue reading

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1918 to 2020: Two Pandemics

restrict telephone

Newspaper notice asking people not to use the telephone system during the flu epidemic. Found in the 1918 Public Utilities annual report (Record Series 1802-H9), Seattle Municipal Archives.

During our daily phone conversation, my mother said she wished she had more information about the 1918 influenza pandemic and how it compares to today’s COVID-19 pandemic. Mom, this blog is for you!

From 1914 to 1918, World War I killed somewhere between 20 and 22.5 million people, nearly evenly divided between soldiers and civilians. In a single year, the influenza pandemic killed two to four times more people than the war. Continue reading


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Update from Moose Lake


pandore – Fotolia.com

The first Minnesota prison inmate tested positive for COVID-19 on March 30 at the prison in Moose Lake. Ten days later, the MN Department of Corrections (DOC) website shows 12 inmates tested at Moose Lake, with nine tested positive, one negative, and two tests still pending results. At least eight Moose Lake correctional officers have also tested positive. The MN DOC website has just added a new column for “Presumed positive” for people “based on symptoms and having close contact to a person confirmed positive through testing.”  There are 23 “presumed positive” inmates in Moose Lake.

The 23 “presumed positive” inmates probably will not be tested at all. Continue reading

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Election Watch—April 7, 2020

ballot box graphic

Wisconsin votes today. Milwaukee has 180 polling places, but only 5 will be open. Five polling places in a city of about 600,000. Imagine Minneapolis (population about 422,000) voting at five polling places. With a statewide stay-at-home order in place, Democrats in Wisconsin have tried, over and over, to make this a vote-by-mail election. No dice, say Wisconsin Republicans. Continue reading

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Speaking Truth to Power and Getting Fired


Intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson got fired Friday night, one more target of Trump’s revenge.  Atkinson was fired for doing his job and serving his country. He was not the first, and he won’t be the last.  Continue reading

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The Greatest Country in the World?


Coronavirus from Wikimedia Commons

April 2, 2020: In a crowded, impoverished refugee camp in Greece, one refugee tested positive for Covid-19. The camp immediately tested her 60 contacts, and found 20 more positives, none of whom were showing symptoms. Then they began testing the rest of the camp’s 2,700 refugees, while imposing a 14-day quarantine and lockdown.

In Minnesota’s Moose Lake prison, an inmate tested positive for Covid-19 on March 30. Then two more. On April 2, the fourth prisoner tested positive for Covid-19. All four are in the prison in Moose Lake. So is the second Minnesota Department of Corrections staff member to test positive for Covid-19. (The first was in Red Wing.) The Moose Lake prison is on lockdown, sort of, though correctional officers come in and out daily. When the fourth prisoner was taken out of his cell, the guards gave his cellmate a mask. They did not test him for Covid-19.

Only 7 of more than one thousand inmates at Moose Lake have been tested for Covid 19. Only 31 of more than 9,000 Minnesota prison inmates have been tested for Covid 19. The Minnesota Department of Corrections website lists no plans to test all of the 1046 inmates at Moose Lake for Covid-19.

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