Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

News Day: Unemployment up, benefits down / Central Corridor challenge / Food fights and skateboards / more

help!need moneyUnemployment up to 9.4 percent Seasonally adjusted unemployment rose to 9.4 percent in May, up from 8.9 percent in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “U-6” number, which includes discouraged workers and those working part-time because they can’t find full-time work rose to 16.4 percent, up from 15.8 percent in April. Comparable numbers for 2008 were 5.2 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment and 9.4 percent, including discouraged workers and part-time workers.
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News Day: Last legislative day today / Eating the evidence / Housing, foreclosure news / War reports / more

Governor No: More cuts to health care, education, local government aid In a grueling and emotional session on Sunday, May 17, the House failed to overturn Governor Tim Pawlenty’s veto of its tax and finance omnibus bill, by an 85-49 party-line vote that saw two DFLers defecting to the Republican side. By an 87-47 vote, the House also failed to overturn the Pawlenty line-item veto that ends medical assistance for General Assistance recipients in mid-2010. The prospect: deep cuts in health and human services, education, and local government aid, dictated by the governor to the legislature or unilaterally imposed as unallotments in the year ahead. Full article here

Comic banana relief C’mon folks – you know we all need something to laugh at after the dismal news from Capitol Hill in St. Paul. So here it is — from North Carolina, via BBC:

A US teenager who was thwarted in an attempt to rob an internet cafe armed with a hidden banana ate the “weapon” before he was arrested, police say.

The shop owner and customers overcame the teen, who held the banana under his t-shirt and said it was a gun.

Ash borer week Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week started yesterday in 16 states, including Minnesota and Wisconsin. Joe Soucheray says Minneosta has 937 million ash trees, or about 179 per person. For more info, photos, advice, and questions, go to the official emerald ash borer site.

Foreclosures up again in April The Calculated Risk blog reports on Realty Trac figures for April, which show an upswing in foreclosures after the end of an informal , voluntary moratorium.

[F]oreclosure filings – default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions – were reported on 342,038 U.S. properties during the month, an increase of less than 1 percent from the previous month and an increase of 32 percent from April 2008. The report also shows that one in every 374 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in April, the highest monthly foreclosure rate ever posted since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

In more bad news, good news, bad news, MinnPost reports that home prices fell 14% nationally and 12.9% locally in April, while the Strib reports that home sales were up by 23% — but that the growth came in “lender-mediated” (read foreclosure-related) sales, and that traditional sales fell.

The worst news is reserved for minority and immigrant homeowners, as reported by the Pew Research Center: “The boom-and-bust cycle in the U.S. housing market over the past decade and a half has generated greater gains and larger losses for minority groups than it has for whites.”

Fong Lee trial The PiPress reports that the civil suit against police officers and the city of Minneapolis over the police shooting of 19-year-old Fong Lee in 2006 is set to begin this morning.

World/National Headlines

Robbing pension funds TPM’s Josh Marshall notes that Bush appointee Charles Millard, who headed the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation, is under investigation for “a suspicion pattern of communications with big investment houses just before Millard piled tons of [Pension Benefits Guaranty] money into their funds.”

Gay marriage: Bad for business? The latest GOP attack on gay marriage says it’s bad for business, AP reports. GOP chair Michael Steele says gay marriage will hurt business because — horrors! — more people will be eligible for health care coverage. Well, here’s an alternative — maybe we could just have single-payer, national health care coverage? OR —as the Daily Kos suggested later:

And if we want to really polish our fiscally conservative creds, we can outlaw marriage for everyone! Especially heterosexuals! Because they reproduce and add even more more dependents for the rolls of small-business health care programs!

Not the dog again! The Republican National Committee has a new TV ad out criticizing — the presidential puppy. The Daily Kos recalls that this puts Bo in good company, along with FDR’s Fala, also the subject of Republican attacks.

Record time for broken promises The health care industry promise to slow the annual health care spending growth rate? Forget that, reports the Daily Kos. Now the Hospital Association’s executive vice president, Richard J. Pollack denies that any promise was ever made. Daily Kos reprints the signed promise letter.

Congress Party in India The Washington Post reports a big win for India’s ruling Congress Party, and a second term for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, “a former economist who has championed programs for the poor and pushed for rural development and economic reforms.”

War Report

Sri Lanka BBC reports that the Sri Lanka president declared victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels, although some fighting continues. On Sunday, the NYT reported that the Tigers also acknowledged the war was over, coming to “a bitter end.” By Monday morning, BBC joined other media in reporting that the Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, was dead.

Pakistan BBC reported May 16 that a car bomb in Peshawar killed at least 11 people, and a U.S. drone killed 10 people in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Somalia BBC reports that President Barack Obama’s top official on Africa, Jonnie Carson, expressed concern over possible arms sales by Eritrea to al Shabaab militants in Somalia, and also over reports of Chechen and South Asian fighters in the al Shabaab forces. Eritrean government officials denied the charges. Meanwhile, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told BBC that he has asked his former ally and Islamist spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweysto negotiate an end to fighting in Mogadishu, but that the al Shabaab leader refused.

Chad/Sudan BBC: Chad’s government admitted air raids inside Sudan, saying they had destroyed seven groups of mercenaries.

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News Day: Closing the door to college / Five days, a billion dollars / No blood on the gun / more

I’m on the road, so this blog post is short and late — I hope tomorrow will be earlier and longer.

Closing the door to college Minnesota has had a proud tradition of higher education and of making higher education available to its residents. That may be ending, reports MinnPost:

Tuition is rising faster in Minnesota than in most other states. It has doubled since 1999 at the U of M. ..

Meanwhile, state spending for higher education has stuck flat for years in some areas and dropped by double digits in others. Now it is set to fall sharply as the governor and the Legislature wrestle through the current financial crisis.

Although job retraining is essential in times of high unemployment, and although enrollment at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) jumped by 14% in January 2009, Governor Pawlenty announced a $40 million cut in higher education funding this year, on top of the 28% drop from 2000 to 2007.
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News Day: Budget battle on the Hill / Midnight scam / Medical-Industrial complex / War report / more

Budget battle on the Hill DFLers are giving a “chilly reception” to what T-Paw claims is a “compromise” budget proposal, reports the PiPress. T-Paw wants to compromise by delaying more state aid payments to schools, cutting in half the amount he wants to borrow, and agreeing not to put money into the “rainy day” fund. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud: “He’s basically given an inch, when we’ve gone a mile.”

MPR provides a good overview. As the clock ticks on toward the May 18 adjournment, the legislature sent a health and human services bill to the governor, with no assurance of its fate. Republicans complained that a public safety omnibus bill passed by the Senate did not have enough money for prisons. The DFL planned to forge ahead with a $1 billion “placeholder” — passing appropriations bills, and waiting for some resolution of the difference between Pawlenty (raise money by borrowing) and DFL (raise money through taxes) positions. And then there’s the “lights on” bill.

Meanwhile, Democrats are also moving forward with a backup plan that would keep government services running in case a budget deal isn’t reached. The bill would fund government services at current levels through July first of 2010. DFL Sen. Larry Pogemiller said the bill is only “precautionary” in case Pawlenty vetoes the budget bills.

Midnight scam When the phone rings at midnight, watch out! That’s the message in the Minneapolis police department description of a new scam, which starts with a middle of the night phone call warning of a credit card irregularity and asking for your credit card number.

Fong Lee case: On to trial As attorneys talked settlement, crowds outside the federal building called for justice for Fong Lee, reports the TC Daily Planet. A Minneapaolis police officer shot the 19-year-old Fong Lee in 2006, and claim that he pointed a gun at police officers, but the family claims the gun in question was planted after Fong Lee was killed. The settlement conference reached no agreement, so the case is set for trial next week. Meanwhile, reports David Hanner in the PiPress, the city of Minneapolis is seeking to bar comments from its own PR officer from the trial.

Tax and invest Hundreds of Minnesotans crammed the state capitol Monday to call on lawmakers to raise revenue to fund critical public services. The demonstrators chanted “override,” referring to the governor’s veto of the omnibus tax bill on Saturday, and called for using taxes to fund education and health care and “invest in Minnesota.” See reports in the the TC Daily Planet from Workday Minnesota and Session Daily.

The Medical-Industrial complex Paul Krugman is skeptical about health care industry promises to cut the rate of growth in health care spending, but, he says, it’s still “tremendously good news.”

The point is that there’s every reason to be cynical about these players’ motives. Remember that what the rest of us call health care costs, they call income. What’s presumably going on here is that key interest groups have realized that health care reform is going to happen no matter what they do, and that aligning themselves with the Party of No will just deny them a seat at the table.

For more detail and links to the official announcements, check out the Daily Kos report.

War Report

Afghanistan Washington Post General David McKiernan, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, was relieved of his duties by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who said he is looking for “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes.” BBC: Suicide bombers struck two government buildings in the city of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, killing six people. According to AP,”Armed insurgents took government workers hostage and ambushed an American quick-reaction force, wounding one U.S. soldier.”

Iraq BBC Suicide bombers killed six police officers in Kirkuk. NYT: In Camp Liberty, the main U.S. base in Baghdad, a U.S. soldier killed five fellow soldiers.

SomaliaBBC As fighting escalated in the capital city of Mogadishu, at least 120 were reported killed and thousands were fleeing the city.

Pakistan BBC The Pakistani government claimed that it had used helicopters to drop troops into a Taliban stronghold in the sparsely populated Peochar valley in Swat. UN reports say about 360,000 people have fled since the government launched attacks on the Taliban forces in the Swat region. A telephone report described the city of Mingora as a ghost town, with people in hiding and rapidly running out of food and water. AP: The Afghan government says the total number of internal refugees in the country is now 1.3 million.

BBC A U.S. drone killed eight people in the northern district of Waziristan near the Afghan border.

Sri Lanka BBC Rebels and hospital officials say that government forces killed at least 45 people when they shelled a hospital inside the conflict zone. While reporters are banned from the area, the UN reported a weekend bloodbath that killed more than 400 people and injured more than 1,000.

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News Day: Coleman cyber-follies / Middle class pays more /Snowing the recount / Somali youth / Cops hate Sara Jane / more

Middle class pays more Even in Minnesota, says a Department of Revenue study, rich people pay less in taxes than the middle class. See Who pays Minnesota’s taxes>

Coleman cyber-follies While Norm Coleman is calling it “chilling” and “scary,” a closer look shows that the disclosure of names and credit card information of Coleman campaign donors on the internet is the fault of no one but … the Coleman campaign, which violated basic on-line security procedures. Continue reading

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