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Daily Glean: Readers launch comment war over soldier story

“Of all the articles that should have had comments blocked, this one was it,” complains a commenter on the Star Tribune’s website, referring to Paul Levy’s profile of Minneapolis soldier Joseph C. Bozicevich, who is accused of having shot and killed two fellow soldiers at a base in southwest Baghdad. The article details Bozicevich’s boyhood as a kindly child (“Joseph Bozicevich was a Boy Scout. He took care of the family puppies.”) and suggests a self-defense tack that the defense might take, quoting his lead attorney (“Something happened in that room that led Sgt. Bozicevich to believe he had to use his weapon.”) While some of the commenters have been cautious about responding, or even sympathetic, the first wave of comments on the story are calls for Bozicevich’s death. This has caused a rather unusual backlash from other commenters, at least three of whom have called for the comments on the story to be shut down. “Hecker articles have the comment section blocked and yet this one isn’t? Come on, where is the decency?” asks one.

Minnesota children are getting better at science, but they’re still not especially good at it. This is the conclusion of the Minnesota Department of Education, rather bluntly paraphrased, as reported by Emily Johns in the Star Tribune. According to the Department of Education’s test data, “46 percent of students exceeded the expectations the state set out for them, up from 40 percent last year.” Although the article notes that Minnesota children score near the top in math and science on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which compares proficiency worldwide, nonetheless less than half of Minnesota students are proficient in science. The story quotes Deputy Education Commissioner Chas Anderson: “While we’re happy with the improvement, we’re still not pleased with the overall numbers.” None of this seems to bother the Shakopee Valley News, which is quite pleased with the results of the test data: “When it comes to science, the Shakopee School District outperforms the state,” they boast. So at least they have that going for them.

Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin wonders why the Burnville police department seems to have it out for war protesters. Tevlin gives a quick rundown of the Burnsville PD’s past animosity toward protesters who gather at street corners and encourage passing cars to honk their support, including having ticketed a motorist who honked appreciatively; the ACLU persuaded the department to drop the citation. The Burnsville police also claimed that an accident, in which a car hit a pedestrian, was linked to the distracting presence of the protesters. Tevlin drolly notes that “the accident happened a block away, and an hour before protesters arrived at their corner.” Now, according to the column, the Burnsville PD has two squad cars surveilling the protesters, taking videos and photographs. Tevlin quotes Capt. Eric Gieseke: “We support their First Amendment rights, but that intersection is chaotic at best.”

When you already have five felony convictions to your name, and you’ve just been sentenced to a year in prison for punching your girlfriend, you don’t have a lot going for you, but you have to have done something especially distinctive to earn an epithet from the Pioneer Press. Such is the case with Scott Michael Turner, who the PiPress has dubbed the “St. Paul cat tosser” in the headline of a story by Richard Chin, referring to a 2008 case in which Turner flung a neighbor’s cat during a domestic dispute. The cat, Nilla, was euthanized, and Turner was sentenced to seven months in jail for animal cruelty.

According to WCCO’s Reg Chapman, Olmsted County is trying to ban pay-per-view pornography in hotel rooms in an effort to combat sexual violence. As yet, there is no word on whether they are likewise trying to ban hotel room Bibles in an effort to curb religious violence.

Monday’s Glean reported on a pair of pesky hawks who were dive-bombing residents of a Burnsville neighbors. The problem has been resolved: FOX9 reports that the Department of Natural Resources has shot and killed the hawks. It’s a pretty blunt solution, but one doesn’t expect neighbor Barry Skog will complain. He is quoted in the story, describing an attack from one of the hawks: “I had blood running down my face the first two times. I’m not a small person, and the bird hit me with such force it just about knocked me over.”

Booster bag: WCCO reports on an alleged shoplifter in Hastings who reportedly created a foil-lined bag called a “booster bag,” which, Wikipedia helpfully informs us, is essentially a Faraday cage used to bypass a store’s electronic security tags. The alleged shoplifter explained that he had learned the trick from YouTube, presumably from a video like this one, although, since he was apprehended by store security, he doesn’t seem to have learned the trick especially well.

In sports: City Pages jealously wonders how you get a job like the St. Paul Saints’ “Super Fan” but neglects to mention that he is one of several employees who must labor under the humiliating title “Ushertainer.” In the meanwhile, the Twins blew their 10-run lead against Oakland in a game the Star-Tribune has dubbed a “meltdown.”

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 07/21/2009 - 11:22 am.

    Until we know why, or under what circumstances Sgt. Bozicevich shot and killed his fellow soldiers, calling for his death is more than a little premature.

    There seems to be little doubt that he pulled the trigger. What we don’t know is the state of his mental health, or what exactly happened on that terrible day in Iraq.

    Most of my family (including myself) has served in the military. I have seen some come back forever wounded, sinking into depression and alcoholism. Others didn’t come home at all. Far too many active duty military members have taken their own lives, or hurt their families.

    We have a lot of people coming back in pain and conflict. Perhaps this tragedy can remind us not just of the fallen, or of the accussed, but of our brothers and sisters who need our help and understanding.

  2. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 07/21/2009 - 12:22 pm.

    I read the Strib article about Sgt. Bozicevich early this morning before I went to bed, before there were many comments. I chose not to comment because it’s hard to say something pertinent to a sad situation in a very sad Minnesota week when military families are grieving the fallen.

    However, I just heard on Minnesota Public Radio that Army Prosecutors are calling for the death penalty in this case, and that a Military Judge has set March 2010 for the case to be heard in a Military Courts Martial. The MPR report also stated that the shooting occurred when the Sgt. was being counseled by the other soldiers.

    If there’s a moral here, I guess it’s to not counsel persons that are carrying weapons. I hope the Army has changed their Standard Operating Procedures if that was a contributing factor to this tragedy.

  3. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 07/21/2009 - 12:41 pm.

    When serving in areas like Iraq or Afgahnistan, carrying a weapon becomes second nature. You have them with you at all times. Depending on the type of “counseling” going on, you make a good point, Nancy.

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 07/21/2009 - 02:40 pm.

    Perhaps it’s time for the military to take the lead in abolishing the death penalty in America.

    As the old saw notes, “Why do we kill people to show people that it’s wrong to kill people?”

  5. Submitted by Peter Swanson on 07/21/2009 - 03:35 pm.

    This was performance counseling. It was not psychological counseling. Performance counseling is like getting a report card in school. It happens on a regular basis for every Soldier (e.g., monthly) and in response to certain events, good and bad. Every Soldier carries a weapon and every Soldier gets counseled from time to time.

    Moreover, it is a very big thing to take away a Soldier’s weapon in a combat zone. They would not be able to defend themselves or their buddies. Absent a specific recommendation from a mental health professional, or a prescription for certain types medication causing drowsiness, it is unusual to take away a weapon, even temporarily.

  6. Submitted by Peter McKnight on 07/21/2009 - 05:47 pm.

    FYI, the story about the hawks being shot was reported in Friday’s Strib:

    Just sayin’

  7. Submitted by michelle potter on 05/12/2011 - 06:57 am.

    I like your article.

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