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News Day: Gangs of St. Paul? / Coleman: Not yet / Peltier parole hearing today / Sectarian violence in Nigeria

© Maluson - Fotolia.com

© Maluson - Fotolia.com

Gangs of St. Paul? A young man who says he has falsely been labeled a gang member by St. Paul police, the NAACP, and police and prosecutors will all participate in a community discussion on “The Gangs of St. Paul” tonight at 6:30-8:30 at the Hallie Q. Brown Center (270 N. Kent Street, St. Paul). The Pioneer Press reports Jumoke Cryer says he’s not a gang member, but he is one of 18 alleged members of the rival Selby Siders and East Side Boys gangs named in an injunction barring gang members from associating with alleged fellow gang members, using gang signs and wearing gang clothing during this year’s Rondo Days Festival. Nathaniel Khaliq, St. Paul NAACP president, said that while the community does not want gangs, they also “don’t want the sardines to be caught in the web with the sharks.”

The Pioneer Press quoted Cryer:

“I’m a college student,” he said. “I don’t have a tattoo on my body. I don’t meet any of the criteria. It really doesn’t make sense.” Asked how it made him feel to be called a gang member, Cryer said, “Horrible.”

“I believe some people out there are gang banging and police need to take drastic measures, but there are others out there like myself that are being labeled,” he said. “They’re singling out everybody. If they get the wrong person, it doesn’t matter to them.”

Coleman: Not yet A spokesperson for former Senator Norm Coleman announced that he is not currently running for governor, and that he probably will wait until March or April to announce any future political plans. That would be too late for a run for governor under most scenarios. Republicans are taking a straw poll in October, precinct caucuses are in February, and the party convention will be April 30 and May 1, according to the Star Tribune.

Peltier parole date Leonard Peltier is up for parole, with a hearing scheduled for July 28. Peltier is serving two life sentences, after conviction in 1977 of killing two FBI agents in 1975. Democracy Now reports:

The Parole Commission originally denied Peltier parole in 1993 based on their finding that he, quote, “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” However, the Parole Commission has since said it, quote, “recognizes that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”

Peltier’s defenders say the conviction was a product of FBI persecution of the American Indian Movement, with pitched battles between the AIM and federal agents at places including the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. The FBI cracked down on AIM, violently. That was the context for the 1975 gun battle and the Peltier prosecution. Two others accused of killing the agents were acquitted in a separate trial.

The FBI adamantly opposes parole, saying Peltier was guilty of executing two FBI agents. Other groups, including Amnesty International, have called for his release, and say he did not receive a fair trial.

World/National News

Sectarian violence in northern Nigeria A small Islamist sect opposed to “Western education” attacked police stations in two states in mostly-Muslim northern Nigeria on Sunday and Monday. About 55 people, including 39 of the attackers, and at least one police officer and one fire officer, have been killed, according to the New York Times. The region has frequently seen outbreaks of religious violence, often between Muslims and Christians.

BBC puts the death toll at more than 100, and reports that a group of the militants is barricaded inside part of the city of Maiduguri, and shooting at anyone who approaches. The militants are known locally as the “Taliban,” but are not believed to have any ties to Taliban groups elsewhere in the world, and some say the “Taliban” label was applied as a term of derision by other Muslims who consider the group “crazy.”

Reich on health care reform Robert Reich warns that health care reform is in danger, and says action before the August recess is vital:

First, the House must enact a bill before August recess even if the Senate is unable to — and the House bill should include the four key elements that have already emerged from House committees: (1) a public plan option, (2) a mandate on all but the smallest employers to provide their employees with health insurance or else pay a tax or fee (so-called “pay or play”), (3) a requirement that every individual and family buy health insurance, coupled with subsidies for families up to 300 or 400 times the poverty level in order to make sure it’s affordable to them; and (4) a small surtax on the top 1 percent of earners or families to help pay for this subsidy (“tax the wealthy so all Americans can stay healthy.”)

Iran prison deaths BBC reports that Supreme Leader Ayatolla Ali Khameini has ordered the closure of a detention center at Karizhak, because of violations of detainee rights. Whether protesters held there will be transferred to other facilities or released is unclear. Many protesters are still held in the main prison:

There are also continuing reports of grim conditions inside Tehran’s main prison, Evin, which seems unable to cope with the large number of opposition supporters rounded up since the election, says the BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne.

In recent days the opposition has reported almost every day new deaths of protestors held in prison.

War Reports

Afghanistan After the Afghanistan government announced an election truce in the north-western province of Badghis, a Taliban spokesperson said no such truce exists, reports BBC. In fact, the run-up to next month’s presidential elections is marked by violence, with an attack on the car of the campaign manager of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah severely wounding the campaign manager and killing the driver in Laghman province, and a separate assassination attempt on President Karzai’s running mate on Sunday. In another incident in Helmand province, eight security guards were killed by a remotely detonated bomb.

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News Day: Senate race ends! / Fletcher vs. investigators on Strike Force / PiPress layoffs / 100 torture deaths? / more

Senator Al Franken It’s all over – the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Al Franken won the election. Then Norm Coleman conceded. Within a few hours, both Governor Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie had signed the election certificate. A veritable tornado of tweets followed every minute of the events. By my count, Minnesota Independent and MinnPost each have 19 articles, and that’s where I stop counting.
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News Day: Franken, Coleman, Pawlenty and the Supremes / Unlicensed in St. Paul / Mortgage relief – finally / more

<a href="http://us.fotolia.com/id/11477219" title="" alt="">©Ramin Khojasteh</a> - Fotolia.com

©Ramin Khojasteh - Fotolia.com

Franken, Coleman, Pawlenty and the Supremes Is the seemingly never-ending Senate race heating up again? For two weeks, informed sources and rumors have predicted a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on specific days, and no ruling has come. The court usually rules on Thursdays, and this Thursday falls just short of the eight month anniversary of the election. Maybe it’s time … and maybe T-Paw’s latest statements mean he would actually sign an election certificate and give Minnesota a second senator. Or not. Here’s what he told CNN interviewer John King over the weekend:
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News Day: St. Paul teacher layoffs / Court to Coleman: Pay up / Fletcher vs. Auditor / Taking weather out of MN / more

St. Paul teacher layoffs St. Paul is laying off 143 teachers, reports the Strib, with “116 non-tenured teachers let go for budget reasons, 26 non-tenured teachers let go for performance reasons, and one tenured teacher let go for budget reasons.” The district faces a $25 million deficit next year, and firing the teachers could save $6 million. St. Paul has about 3,500 teachers, and has laid off about 37 each year in the past.
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News Day: What now, Norm? / Death in Somalia: Looking for answers / Carstarphen: Go slower / Wind industry layoffs / more

What now, Norm? Politics in Minnesota has gotten several answers to that question over the past few days. First, on June 4, came a report from Roll Call that Norm was willing to bow out if the MN Supreme Court rules against him. PIM thought that sounded unlikely, and, within hours, posted:
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News Day: GM in MN / Franken-Coleman blow-by-blow / Health care saga / more

MN GM dealers: Who’s going down? Minnesota has 149 GM dealers, reports MPR, and Tuesday they will learn which dealerships will be closed under GM bankruptcy proceedings. Thirty MN dealers had received earlier notice that GM would cut them, but now the company plans to close 40 percent of all its dealers nationwide, which could mean another 30 in Minnesota.
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News Day: Fishing season and veto season open / Franken v. Coleman / Someting rotten / Aung San Suu Kyi ill / War news / more

GOOD NEWS And that’s worth going to the top of the report – Roxana Saberi is due to be freed and flown home today, after an Iranian court suspended the eight-year sentence previously imposed on the North Dakota journalist.

Fishing season and veto season From cocoa bean mulch canine health warnings to the billion dollar tax plan, T-Paw wielded the veto pen before heading off to the fishing opener Saturday morning. As the PiPress succinctly notes:

Pawlenty and the Legislature have eight days to balance the budget by the May 18 constitutional deadline. If they fail to get done on time, he could call them back into special session. And if they don’t finish by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the nonessential parts of state government will shut down.

According to Steve Perry in PIM, DFLers are “within dreaming distance of an override majority.” But definitely not there yet.

Franken v. Coleman With Franken’s reply brief due in the MN Supreme Court today, Minnesota moves one step closer to having a second senator. In MinnPost, Eric Black continues his series of analytic reports, this time focusing on Coleman’s Equal Protection argument.

Fong Lee case A settlement conference in the Fong Lee case is set for today, and supporters promise a demonstration on the courthouse steps. A Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Lee in 2006. The family has sued the police officer and the city, amid ongoing revelations of problems with police reports about gun identification and mishandling of squad car videos.

Something rotten in Minneapolis The Strib asks: “Did a Minneapolis police officer spin lies?” Well, that’s one possible conclusion – but the story describes another possible scenario in which the FBI and ATF use dubious information from a plea-bargaining drug dealer to target black Minneapolis cops — and the Minneapolis police officer in the headline (Lt. Michael Keefe) blows the whistle on them. The single officer finally charged as a result of the massive, months-long federal/state investigation goes on trial Monday, charged with taking $200 from gang member Taylor Trump in exchange for non-public information. Read the Strib’s investigative series about the Taylor Trump/FBI/ATF/Violent Crimes Task Force investigation at Part I: The Informant, Part II: Putting cops to the test, and Part III: Police versus the police.

Another bad budget cut Cutting funding for Personal Care Attendants hurts vulnerable children and adults — and will cost more money in the long run, explains Gail Rosenblum in the Strib. She talks to members of the “invisible work force,” including one woman who “has worked as a PCA for 12 years, earning an average of $10 an hour to help Minnesotans with a range of disabilities — from spinal cord injuries to fetal alcohol syndrome — in bathing, using the toilet, getting into a wheelchair, eating without choking, experiencing fresh air.”

Green and affordable On the West Side of St. Paul, reports MPR, NeDA has built a few low-cost green homes. Most green homes are bigger, glossier enterprises, but these have no “granite countertops and no bamboo floors,” instead focusing “on energy efficiency because energy bills are one of the biggest obstacles to lasting home ownership for low-income families.”

War reports

Chad BBC: More than 250 people have been killed in fighting between rebels and government forces in eastern Chad, near the border with Darfur. Chad’s government claimed victory and blamed Sudan for arming the rebels.

Afghanistan BBC: In Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the U.S. to stop air strike in Afghanistan. Afghan officials said more than 100 civilians died in U.S. bombing in the western Farah province, while U.S. military said the number was not that high.

Somalia BBC: Radical Islamists fighting against government forces were blamed for an attack on a mosque in Mogadishu that killed 14 people. According to BBC, “At least 50 people are thought to have died in gun battles between the rival factions since Thursday, when clashes erupted in a northern area of the city.”

Pakistan Washington Post: More than 200,000 refugees are already in camps, with another 600,000 expected to arrive, as Pakistan steps up attacks on Taliban militants in the Swat valley. AP says the number of refugees is already over 360,000, on top of 500,000 earlier displaced persons. The military claims to have killed 700 Taliban fighters, but is restricting journalists’ access, so no outside reports are available.

Sri Lanka BBC: The UN is calling government actions “a bloodbath,” citing the killing of hundreds of civilians, including more than a hundred children, as government troops try to wipe out the Tamil Tiger rebels. The UN “estimates that about 50,000 civilians are trapped by the conflict in a three-km-sq strip of land.”

National/World headlines

Aung San Suu Kyi ill Burmese Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest since her party won elections in 1990, is reportedly very weak, suffering from low blood pressure and dehydration. In a bizarre series of incidents, an American swam across a lake and entered her compound last week, then was arrested as he swam back across the lake last Tuesday. About 20 police entered Ms. Suu Kyi’s compound on Thursday. Her doctor, Tin Myo Win, was also arrested Thursday. The latest period of house arrest is due to end this month, but may be extended. The military junta still rulilng Burma has not allowed the National League for Democracy (NLD) to take office.

BBC: Four candidates are registered to run in Iran’s June 12 presidential election: current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former Revolutionary Guards chief, Mohsen Rezai (both conservative), and the somewhat less conservative gormer PM Mir-Hossein Mousavi, backed by former President Mohammad Khatami, and former parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi.

NYT: In Afghanistan, 44 candidates have filed to run for president. Elections are scheduled for August 20. According to NPR, “even before the campaign officially kicks off, allegations of fraud and intimidation by incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his ticket are shaping the race.”

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News Day: Michelle Bachmann, Norm Coleman / Health care in jeopardy / Swine flu updates / more

Mad Michelle Minute Minnesota Independent chronicles the latest Bachmania, reporting that Bachmann offered an amendment to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act to ban groups facing federal indictment for voter fraud from receiving federal foreclosure relief funds. She proudly explained that “I want to ensure that organizations, such as ACORN, are prohibited from receiving funds while simultaneously facing charges of voter fraud and tax violations.” Only problem with that: ACORN says “The truth is, no criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been brought against ACORN, its leadership, or partner organizations.”

Norm Coleman files Yesterday, Norm Coleman filed his brief before the MN Supreme Court, with “few, if any” surprises, reports Eric Black in MinnPost. Read the brief, which goes on for 62 pages ad nauseam (a legal term, of course), or the Eric Black summary — or just skip the whole lthing because there’s nothing there that you haven’t already heard over the past six months.
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News Day: Court: Franken won, and not one of Coleman’s claims was legit / Cops and fairy tales / Mpls Somali news / more

Franken won, and not one of Coleman’s claims was legit In a 68-page opinion (PDF), the three-judge recount court knocked down every single one of Coleman’s claims, said Franken should be seated as Senator, and gave a resounding vote of confidence to the Minnesota election system. Continue reading

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News Day: Budget as moral document / Pork on the hill / Tax analysis / Take two aspirin / more

Budget as moral document “We’re in this together,” Rev. Peter Rogness, bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
reminds us, writing about Minnesota’s budget in MinnPost
. Bishop Rogness talks about the budget as decisions made by all of us — “a family gathered around the table to talk things over or a small village where everyone meets in the town hall to discuss common concerns. There’s no them, only us.” Continue reading

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