Crazy days of summer
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From “town brawls”
) to death threats
to Congress members and the SEIU
, the weekend headlines described a political scene loosely tethered to reality. “It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Stupidity,” proclaimed the Daily Kos
, linking to half a dozen stories of right-wing blather and bluster.
Josh Marshall at TPM commented: “Teabaggers say they want their country back. But Afro-Arab socialists have only had it for like 6 months. Can’t they wait their turn?”
“Idiot Nation, Idiot Press,” read another Daily Kos headline, this one denouncing Politico’s serious treatment of Sarah Palin’s outrageous and completely non-factual claim that the “Obama health plan” would set up a “death panel,” and that such a panel would have condemned her aging parents or her Downs Syndrome son. Hunter writes:
I think there should be such a thing as an anti-Pulitzer. There should be an award for the reporter or reporters that most willfully ignore the basic falsehood of a story — something like “fire is cold”, or “if you shoot yourself in the head, M&M’s will come out” or “if we reform our nation’s healthcare, the President will send a Death Panel to murder my disabled son” — and instead treat as if it was a debatable point worth reporting as fact.
For a factual analysis of claims about the health care reform proposals, turn to PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter, which ranks claims on a scale ranging from truthful to “liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Evicting Rosemary – or not Rosemary Williams has become a symbol of the foreclosure-and-eviction crisis in the Twin Cities, and Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies arrived on Friday for what could have been the final act — eviction. The deputies turned Rosemary and her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren out of the home on the block where she has lived for 55 years, and padlocked the doors. As soon as they were gone, her supporters got back inside the house, and spent the weekend moving her possessions to a safe place and setting up an occupation inside the home, reports the TC Daily Planet.
Similar stories abound, with inner city residents who refinanced their homes with adjustable mortgages and then were unable to keep up when, after an initial grace period, monthly payments “adjusted” to double or triple the original amount. A Facebook post by a neighbor noted eight boarded-up homes on his block.
New anti-gang police plan In the wake of the dissolution of the Gang Strike Force, police chiefs in 36 out of 37 Hennepin County jurisdictions (including Minneapolis) are working on a new strategy — communication and prosecution, reports the Star Tribune. The old Strike Force was heavy on property and cash seizures, and light on prosecutions. The new, collaborative arrangment will emphasize prosecutions, according to County Attorney Mike Freeman, who has assigned a prosecutor to meet with the police chiefs.
In addition, the police departments will collaborate on “focused, proactive investigations to head off crimes,” information sharing, collaborative investigations, and, when a local chief feels it is necessary, a “surge ‘suppression’ operation in which officers would blanket a neighborhood.”
Next up: St. Paul budget In 2009, the city of St. Paul scrambled to meet a $5 million budget deficit. In 2010, St. Paul faces an $11 million plus gap due to decreased state aid. Tuesday, Mayor Chris Coleman will present his proposal, which will then go to the City Council for debate and revision, with passage of some budget by December.
According to the Star Tribune, the mayor’s budget proposal will increase police on the streets, by using ARRA federal funding, and will keep the Hamline Midway library open through 2010. The budget will cut some city positions, cut library hours, close some rec centers, and eliminate some city jobs. According to the Star Tribune:
The city employs about 3,000 people.
Under Coleman’s proposed budget, about 160 jobs would go away. The majority are vacant positions.
About 50 current employees would be laid off across the departments.
A property tax increase will also be part of the budget, though a smaller amount than in previous years.
Kids Count – down The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2009 Kids Count Data Book on July 29. The Kids Count report noted some progress, but also continuing racial disparities:
Our ability to progress as a nation depends on the degree to which we can create opportunities for all children to succeed. In fact, nationally, since 2000, gaps in the differences in child well-being along racial and ethnic lines have decreased in some areas—most notably, the high school dropout rate. However, on the whole, non-Hispanic white children continue to have greater opportunities for better outcomes compared with most other racial and ethnic groups.
Minnesota ranked second overall in ten measures of the well-being of children. But, reports the Star Tribune, “Child poverty in Minnesota rose 33 percent between 2000 and 2007, six times the national average, and several other measures of child well-being declined.”
Kara Arzamendia, research director for the Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, is preparing a Minnesota state report that will include Kids Count data.
Arzamendia argues that restoring funding for some state programs could help.
“We made cuts in 2003 when we had major state budget problems and we didn’t buy them back,” she said. “What did other states do? Well, some of them are doing something right. While our numbers remain pretty good, Minnesota’s changes generally were not as good as the national average.”
Somali travel agency raid, arrest In unrelated cases, a Somali travel agency was raided by FBI agents and its owner was arrested, MPR reports. The raid was staged in connection with an ongoing investigation into travel to Somalia by young Somali-Minnesotans.
The owner of the agency, Ali Mohamed, was arrested for fraud in connection with an unrelated case on charges of “scamming customers out of more than $33,000 in airline tickets that he allegedly never arranged for them.”
Waiting in line for health care – today In a report that every Congress members should read, NPR tells the story of tens of thousands of people in miles-long lines waiting to see a doctor. Right here in the United States. Right now under our wonderful private health care system.
That was when the weekend’s free mass clinic was supposed to open. But the line of cars trying to get in was a mile long. In the pre-dawn darkness, headlights snaked down the road as far as we could see. Doctors and dentists were also stuck in that traffic jam, so the clinic couldn’t open on time.
People seeking treatment had been arriving for two days. Many camped in a grassy parking lot while they waited. Some had long drives to get there; there were license plates from at least 16 states.
Read the whole story. And then send it to your Congress member.
Honduras The OAS continues trying to find a compromise that will reinstate Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a coup on June 28. However, the acting government, put in place by the coup, has refused to allow a high-ranking OAS delegation including OAS secretary-general Jose Miguel Insulza and several foreign ministers to enter the country, according to BBC.
Iraq BBC reports that Sunni insurgents continue to target Shiites. The latest:
Two truck bombings in northern Iraq and attacks targeting day laborers in western Baghdad killed at least 51 people and wounded scores early Monday, Iraqi authorities said. …
The truck bombings killed at least 35 people in Khazna, a small Shiite village 12 miles north of Mosul. Residents said at least 80 houses were destroyed in the blasts.
Last week’s bombings included blasts in Shiite areas of Mosul and Baghdad, which killed more than 50 people.