This just in from the 12th century. Andy Birkey at The Minnesota Independent reports: “Minnesota’s Catholic bishops sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday urging her department to drop a mandate on health insurance companies to cover birth control as part of their health plans. The bishops argue that entities like Catholic Charities would have to offer insurance plans to their employees that offer coverage for contraceptives or else stop providing health benefits to employees. ‘While we support providing access to those services which can truly prevent disease or disability for woman such as pap smears and mammograms, we join other persons of good will who strenuously object to mandatory coverage for contraceptives and sterilization procedures,’ the bishops wrote in the letter.”
The flux in No Child Left Behind, with Minnesota schools working to get waivers exempting them from standards, gets a look from Megan Boldt at the PiPress. She writes: “Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius wrote a letter to parents this week saying not to worry if their children’s schools show up on the state’s watch list of schools that have failed to meet No Child Left Behind goals. The list of schools facing consequences will be released this morning, but soon it might not mean anything. Minnesota is one of several states that have requested a waiver from the controversial law, which requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. … there are some, particularly business leaders, who are disappointed that Minnesota is asking for a waiver from the No Child law. The premise of the law was to make sure all students —- no matter their race or socioeconomic background — were prepared for life after high school, said Jim Bartholomew, education policy director for the Minnesota Business Partnership. ‘Frankly, it’s a very reasonable expectation. So are we going to put the brakes on that?’ Bartholomew said.” And, frankly, it’s a reasonable expectation that schools be funded adequately enough to provide necessary remedies.
Where is Our Favorite Congresswoman? The “job-killing” EPA is at it again. The Duluth News Tribune says: “Scientists at the Natural Resources Research Institute of the University of Minnesota Duluth have received a $2 million grant to study the base of the Great Lakes food chain — tiny phytoplankton that serve as the primary energy for fish in the lakes. The grant, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will help researchers track the number and makeup of the tiny organisms.”
Did you see the list of which Minnesota schools’ graduates have the highest mid-career salaries? the Business Journal says. No. 1 is not exactly a surprise.
The role of — tax exempt — churches proselytizing for (and against) politicians and social policies got a nice workout on Cathy Wurzer’s MPR show this morning. Among the back and forth between Pastor Greg Boyd (in favoring of enforcing laws against such activity) and Pastor Brad Brandon (con), was this:
“Brandon: The Bible says that when the righteous rule, the people rejoice, and when the wicked rule, the people mourn. We are given a great freedom in this country to choose who rules over us. And if I can influence, I’m not imposing my will on anybody else, but I am persuading and I’m called to persuade as a pastor. I’m persuading people to see that there are righteous rulers out there and there are certainly, from both political parties, both political parties, there are —.
Wurzer: Isn’t it righteous in the eye of the beholder, too?
Brandon: It could be, but this is what I’m saying. My eye, my pulpit, my church, my congregation, and so I have to do what I feel is right, and I have to say what I think is right. Now again, I think that there are wicked people out there on both sides of the ticket.
Boyd: First, I don’t see how you being a Christian, or anyone being a Christian, makes you smarter on politics, but I would see your point if it was as unambiguous as someone being righteous and wicked, but are you really going to say that people who oppose Michele Bachmann or oppose anybody are wicked?
Brandon: I didn’t say that … I simply said that …
Boyd: Well you said, you quoted the verse, righteous and wicked, so here’s the righteous one and here’s the wicked one.
Brandon: What I simply said was that there are wicked people out there. And it’s my job — .
Boyd: And you’re going to tell us who that is?
Brandon: Yeah, I could, from my beliefs …
Boyd: So, ‘Here’s the righteous candidate and here’s the wicked one.’
Brandon: Don’t you speak your mind every morning when you get up, every Sunday morning when you get up (to the pulpit)?
Boyd: From the Bible, from Scripture, from kingdom.
Brandon: And I do the same thing.”
BTW, I, too, have a list of “wicked” people I’d like to see thrown out of or banned from public office. I just gotta get me a church …
Also over at MPR, Euan Kerr reports on the reopening of the Weisman Art Center: “The Weisman’s architect, Frank Gehry, will attend a gala celebration of the reopening on Saturday. The WAMdemonium open house for the public will be on Sunday. A mind-bending building, the Weisman’s sculpted exterior, with curved and jutting metal walls suggests an irregular, maybe even cramped interior. The galleries inside are conventionally shaped and spacious — large to the point where one wonders how they fit inside. The expansion, which has pushed out the back of the building, heightens that sensation.”
Here’s hoping these critters avoid the fate that befell that other video star, Hope the Bear. Josephine Marcotty’s Strib story says: “One of the most ambitious loon research projects ever conducted will allow bird lovers to track 13 young Minnesota loons as they make their way south to warmer climes. The loons, which are wearing electronic tracking devices, are gathering as part of large groups on Minnesota lakes, preparing to make their way to the Gulf Coast, where they will live for the next two years as they mature. A website created by the researchers tracks each loon in the study as it moves from lake to lake. Scientists will use these and other loons from Wisconsin and Michigan to determine what effect last year’s Gulf oil spill will have on the birds’ long-term health.”
There’s been a third abduction attempt in Minneapolis. Matt McKinney of the Strib reports: “The would-be abductors have targeted girls ages 12, 14 and 16. Two occurred in the afternoon and one in the evening. In two, the girls had to fight their attacker to get away. Investigations continue on all three cases, which do not appear related, according to Sgt. Steve McCarty, a Minneapolis police spokesman. He said police have focused on a suspect in the most recent crime, which took place Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the 3200 block of N. 6th St. In that case, a 16-year-old girl told police she was walking when a man driving a truck pulled up and tried to make her get in. She refused, and he got out of the truck and forced her in. They drove a short distance before she found a knife in the truck, fought off the man and escaped, according to police.”
Further “proof” that “gummint never creates jobs”: The Feds have ponied up a $105 million loan for a cellulosic (non-feed crops) ethanol plant in Iowa. A Strib/wire story says: “The plant, being built by Poet LLC, of Sioux Falls, S.D., is expected to produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol per year from corncobs, husks and stalks in 2013. Preliminary site work will begin this fall on the $250 million plant, Poet said. Poet’s was one of three new loan guarantees for green-energy projects announced last week even as the agency faced scrutiny over $528 million in government backing for solar panel maker Solyndra, which went bankrupt this month. Others new loan guarantees were for a geothermal energy project in Nevada and a wind farm in New Hampshire. Farmers around Emmetsburg last year began harvesting crop biomass and delivering it to Poet’s 22-acre storage yard next to existing corn-ethanol plant. Poet says it eventually hopes to build similar cellulosic ethanol plants at its 26 other Midwestern corn-ethanol plants, including four in Minnesota.”
This has to affect Summit Avenue real estate prices. According to the AP, the Minnesota Department. of Agriculture is going to release wasps (not WASPs) on the leafy, upscale boulevard … to kill off the emerald ash borer. “The stingless wasps are one of the few natural enemies of the emerald ash borer in their native Asia, so the Minnesota Department of Agriculture plans to release them this afternoon as part of a broader pest management plan. Other weapons include removal of infested trees and treating trees with insecticides.”