Daily Glean: A good day for an inside home opener

It’s Twins Opening Day, with fans atwitter and meteorologists buzzing about the 9 inches of glop that would humiliate us all if this were 2010. (We suspect the opener would be in California if outdoor baseball were here.) We’ll wallow in sports in a minute, but first …

The Strib’s Tom Meersman delivers the depressing news that 85 percent of phone books end up in the trash, even though recycling has been mandatory since 1992. Even more incredible: Directories make up 4 percent of the total trash delivered to the Minneapolis garbage burner. Many counties lack curbside pickup, and book publishers take no responsibility for recycling. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants an opt-out system like a “do not call” list; the publishers say they’ll have a voluntary system next year. Why not an opt-in, one recycling guru asks.

Needless phone books aren’t the only thing on the rise: So are Minnesotans with sexually transmitted diseases — the total is up for the 11th year in a row. The Strib reports 17,000 friends and neighbors got infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis in ’07, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier. Public health pros decry the death of a proposed $1.3 million screening and education program. Interesting fact: Young blacks are no more sexually active than young whites, and use condoms at the same rates, but have higher infection rates.

The Strib’s Jim Adams pulls out the heavy artillery with a story about local cops arming themselves with ever-more-powerful weapons. No explicit time peg here, but Adams says Minneapolis and Farmington have added semiautomatic rifles to their arsenal; Chaska just spent nine grand on 10 AKs. The federal government says more criminals are using AK-type armaments, and the local constabulary doesn’t want to be caught with just handguns. Nothing on whether friendly fire has hit civilians.

The Strib has owned the story of the pork plant workers exposed to aerosolized pig brains. Now, KSTP-Channel 5 lets you see and hear from one of the victims suffering from progressive inflammatory neuropathy. Susan Kruse still walks with a limp two years later and a single medical treatment costs $12,000 a month.

Sports news is ambient today, in all its hope and societal misery. No one’s predicting big things for the undefeated Twins, but if the club loses, it will probably do it in the most entertaining way – with bad pitching and improved offense. Jim Souhan catches the zeitgeist with a piece about sizzingly speedster and charming kook Carlos Gomez. We’re pretty fired up about Delmon Young.

You can imbibe all 19 minutes, 8 seconds of avenging Angel Torii Hunter’s news conference here. Torii tells Sid that Twins fans will miss him more than Santana. He hasn’t lost his self-absorption, which seemed to blossom during last year’s contract watch, and which the Twins locker room doesn’t seem sorry to see gone.

While we eagerly anticipate Gomez and Hunter, the day’s talker is the re-re-arrest of Souksangouane Phengsene on suspicion of drunken driving. Who? The drunk driver who killed Timberwolves forward Malik Sealy in 2000. In 2006, Phengsene was convicted of drunken driving and sentenced to six years in prison; the PiPress reports that District Judge Warren Sagstuen stayed that sentence and required one year in the workhouse, plus other conditions. (The evening dispatch doesn’t say, but Sagstuen works in Hennepin County.) Will this new DWI allegation take Phengsene off the streets for the full term?

We’ve resisted getting into the sexual assault trial of ex-Gopher footballer Dominic Jones, but the Strib’s Rochelle Olson reminds us that it begins this week and will feature “sex, vodka, Gophers football and criminal defense attorney Earl Gray.” Oh yeah, and an alleged victim, whom the Strib hasn’t identified but who will testify. There’s a cell phone video that could clarify some intriguing evidentiary gaps. Frankly, the details get grosser from there, but you can easily find them if you want.

St. Paul’s ELCA bishop, Peter Rogness, writes in the Strib to praise the Legislature and governor for approving a commission to end poverty in 2020, then ticks off a series of proposed cuts that “make poverty worse.” They include a failure to expand heath insurance; forcing people into “the most expensive provider,” the emergency room; less welfare-to-work funding, community services for the disabled and transit funding; and the renter’s credit. Missing from the bishop’s missive are two obvious words: raise taxes.

MPR’s Art Hughes checks in with a trend piece about Minnesota high school graduate numbers peaking, and colleges laying plans to keep enrollment up. Local high-schoolers top out next year, according to a study; Marshall’s Southwest State is reaching out to Hispanics and other communities of color. The school also has a 25-student partnership in India, trading on its liberal arts expertise in a land of practical education.

Local mayors are all about Kyoto-style greenhouse gas reductions, but the Strib’s Bill McAuliffe says action is harder than talk. Minneapolis and St. Paul each get hefty credits for Xcel switching two plants from coal to natural gas, but meeting the goals requires hundreds of small steps and the devilishly hot atmosphere is in the details. Squad cars need to idle to support night-vision equipment and other electronic gears and to keep police dogs warm; removing no-right-on-red signs saves gas but angers safety-conscious neighbors.

Last of the nort spews: The phlegmatic Wild clinch a playoff spot. With two games left to play, they lead Colorado by four points, but their biggest competition is from Calgary, five points back but with two games in hand. (Note to sports eds: Next year, include “games played” in those ever-widening NHL standings.)

Correction
Today’s Daily Glean incorrectly stated the nature of 2006 charges against Souksangouane Phengsene. A second item also incorrectly reported the first name of the ex-Minnesota Gopher football player on trial for sexual assault. Both errors have been corrected.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Mark Snyder on 03/31/2008 - 12:47 pm.

    “We’ve resisted getting into the sexual assault trial of ex-Gopher footballer Damon Jones”

    I think you meant Dominic Jones?

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