Thanksgiving is just around the corner and, with it, travel. Alas, if you’re thinking of heading out of town then, there may be a few glitches. Firstly, and most obviously, there is the weather. It was a bad weekend, with an ice storm that cost two lives and caused hundreds of crashes, detailed by Nick Ferraro and Megan Boldt of the Pioneer Press. Sven Sundgaard of KARE11 is predicting more snow starting late Wednesday and on into Thanksgiving.
But it isn’t just weather that might slow down holiday travel. There’s also outrage. Specifically, folks are not happy about the new full-body scanners at the airport that produce images of travelers that are similar to nude photographs — and they mean to say so. As the Associated Press reports, a lot of people are calling for a general boycott of the scanners, which would require security to pat them down instead. A spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents explains why this might be a problem: “Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays.” Which seems to be the point of a boycott — after all, protests aren’t very effective if everything continues running smoothly despite them.
The outrage over the scanners has already gotten some traction, with both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing sympathy for those uncomfortable with the scanners. The Washington Post, republished by the Pioneer Press, reports on a fix that has been suggested by a researcher: It would apparently be a simple matter to adjust the scanners so that the images produced are distorted. “Why not just distort the image into something grotesque so that there isn’t anything titillating or exciting about it?” asks the researcher, who is apparently unfamiliar with Rule 34 of the Internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.” Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole recently gave a conference, reported by the AP, in which he managed to simultaneously say that they’re not going to change their policies, and that’s the just the way of the world, and that they are looking for ways to change their policies. Specifically, they’re working to make screenings “as minimally invasive as possible.”
While we’re on the subject of outrage — well, on the the rest of the news, where outrage seems to be very much in fashion nowadays. For instance, Andre Eggert of the Minnesota Daily describes the anger of Minneapolis residents who are experiencing increases in their property tax even as their home values are declining. (in fact, University of Minnesota students are suing the city, charging illegally inflation of home assessments). Eggert reports on a packed city council meeting, where Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak sympathized with the outrage: “People are plenty pissed off, and they should be.” MinnPost’s Jeff Severns Guntzel covers the emotional session, too. Rybak proposed a 7.5 percent levy increase, but only in case there is a drastic cut in state aid. And that probably depends on who winds up governor.
Speaking of which, where are we on that? Well, Tom Emmer and the MN-GOP are asking for recount rules to be changed, taking inspection of challenged ballots out of the hands of the state’s 87 county auditors and putting it into the hands of the five-member canvassing board. Why? Well, for one thing, according to Andy Birkey of Minnesota Independent, it might make the recount process take longer. Emmer and the GOP are also calling for a search for “phantom votes,” that is, counties where there are more votes cast than there are registered voters, although they have produced no evidence that this has happened. According to Mike Mulcahy of Minnesota Public Radio, at least one county has balked at this. Ramsey County officials are asking the court to dismiss the GOP’s petition, saying it would “disenfranchise Minnesota voters.” Anoka and Hennepin counties have also filed documents rebuffing Emmer and the GOP, as has DFL candidate Mark Dayton and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.
But what are we worried about? Once again Tom Emmer has asserted he is not looking to slow down the recount process, most recently on “Almanac.” Well, whatever his intention, the recount may actually be a pretty speedy one — after all, this is the second one in two years, and, as MPR’s Mark Zdechlik points out, there are as a result new rules that are designed to discourage frivolous challenges.
We discussed another source of outrage last Friday — a website in which a couple purported that they would make a decision whether to terminate a pregnancy based on an online poll. There is a preponderance of evidence that the site is what people suspected: a hoax by anti-abortion activists. City Pages sums up the evidence, with additional evidence here. They also offer a handy timeline of the hoax.
Let’s close out the news section with an especially extreme tale of outrage: According to the AP, a motorist was arrested for pointing a gun at another driver in St. Cloud Sunday. No reason is given, except road rage. So keep your eyes open for that sort of thing on Thursday as well, as drivers with guns can also slow down holiday travel.
In arts: Firstly, one last update to the story about rapper Eyedea, who was recently determined to have died of a drug overdose. We at the Glean pointed out that it’s the sort of overdose that can be caused by an interaction between legal drugs, and, according to his family (reported by Mara H. Gottfried of the PiPress), that is, in part, what happened.
Blogger Michael Fishman offers up a post about the two uncles of Minnesota independent bookstores: Uncle Hugo and Uncle Edgar; for those unfamiliar, these are the names of two bookstores coupled within one building near Lake and Chicago — the first specializing in science fiction; the second, in mysteries. Fishman uses these two stores to discuss the declining sales of books, as well as the closing of local independent bookstores.
In sports: Well, there’s more outrage. Kevin Hoffman of City Pages quotes an angry tweet, which includes the following: “Grown ass men shouldn’t need outside encouragement. Need to be self-motivated and know what it takes to be a professional and practice your craft.” The Tweeter was, of course, discussing the Vikings. Worse still, the tweeter was Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. The Vikes’ recent losing game against the Green Bay Packers put, as Brian Murphy of the PiPress describes it, “a season’s worth of issues on display.” Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (republished in the PiPress) is even blunter: “Vikings are done. Let’s see if Favre can disprove it.“
As for Favre? He says it’s time to re-evaluate.