By any other name, it’d be “racial profiling.” An NPR investigation into terror surveillance at the Mall Of America — a continuation of its earlier report — is not flattering to the giant facility. Daniel Zwerdling and three others report: “[A]an analysis of suspicious activity reports of incidents at the Mall of America near Minneapolis, by NPR News Investigations and the Center for Investigative Reporting, suggests that the Mall of America may be questioning people based partly on their appearance. From the more than 1,000 pages of suspicious activity reports examined, the documents suggest almost two-thirds of the ‘suspicious’ people whom the Mall reported to local police were minorities. Compare that with the U.S. population, which is more than 70 percent white. And whites account for 85 percent of the population in Minnesota.”
We’ve got a flap in Coon Rapids. Says Paul Levy of the Strib: “A banner helping to commemorate 9/11 will be raised Sunday in Coon Rapids, but not as organizers had hoped. Dan Hanson, who organized the annual commemorations the previous three years, wanted to hang a 20-foot-long banner over a highway bridge as he’d done before. But the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said no, citing safety concerns and a law that forbids affixing anything to highway structures. Instead, MnDOT officials want the banner to be fastened to handheld poles. But Hanson and Anoka County Commissioners Carol LeDoux and Robyn West say that would be even more dangerous. ‘How can policy people make an idiotic decision over a patriotic gesture and turn it into a turf war?’ LeDoux asked.”
At the PiPress, tech guy Julio Ojeda-Zapata reports on the results of a study of cell phone service in the Twin Cities: “A new study by a Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless-analysis company claims it has the answers to this complex question. Highlights: Verizon is tops for data service, T-Mobile is tops for texting speed, and Verizon and Sprint are tied for the fewest dropped calls. Notably, AT&T isn’t tops in anything. RootMetrics recently swept through the Twin Cities and scrutinized the four major carriers based on a variety of criteria: data-access performance, voice-call performance, text performance and overall performance. Verizon was victorious in the data-performance testing, according to the study, topping 10 megabits per second in data-download tests nearly 80 percent of the time. That was 13 times better than the next-ranked provider, T-Mobile. In fact, Verizon reached 15 megabits a second on average and often hit 20 megabits, according to RootMetrics. … Verizon’s wireless-data failure rate, which refers to an unsuccessful attempt to reach a Web site or perform another data-related function, was the lowest at 1.67 percent.” I gotta switch carriers.
Pawn America will not be tripling in Robbinsdale. David Chanen of the Strib says: “Robbinsdale’s city manager was informed by e-mail last week that Pawn America — which got its start in Robbinsdale — was withdrawing its application for rezoning its location at 4134 W. Broadway in the heart of the city’s quaint downtown area. Chuck Armstrong, community affairs director for Pawn America, said the company had second thoughts about the expense and difficulty of expansion in the existing space. He added that vocal opposition from a group of residents also played into their decision. … Pawn America had planned to triple the size of the store, possibly adding two stories to the building. It was the first store opened by Pawn America 20 years ago.”
You might want to read this entire story if you’re planning on driving anywhere in town this week. Frederick Melo of the PiPress writes: “The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s I-94 improvement project continues this week with overnight paving inside the road shoulders. Lane closures will begin at 7:30 p.m. — earlier than usual for overnight work. Expect overnight lane closures through Friday in both directions of I-94 between Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and Cretin Avenue-Vandalia Street in St. Paul. The overnight closures began at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night and will continue through Friday night; they will happen again at 7:30 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. All lanes reopen by 6 a.m. the next morning. … On Saturday, work crews will focus on constructing an auxiliary lane on eastbound Interstate 94 between U.S. 61 and White Bear Avenue in St. Paul. The new lane should be complete by mid-October and help ease congestion by providing a separate lane for motorists traveling eastbound between the two exits.”
Without getting too deep into the matter of the opposition, or their counter proposals, the Strib is positive about President Obama’s jobs plan, introduced last night. In an editorial, the paper says: “Significantly reduced consumer and business demand is at the root of the unemployment, economic and deficit crises. At least Obama’s major proposals are rightly aimed at jump-starting demand. His plan to cut payroll taxes, coupled with tax incentives for employers, would create consumer demand and help stabilize employment and the economy. Because they would affect every income group, the cuts would likely stimulate the economy sooner than other types of tax breaks. Extending emergency unemployment benefits makes sense because those dollars will be spent even faster, and the aid is desperately needed by those workers willing, but unable, to find jobs. It’s shameful that these extensions have become a bargaining chip in the brinkmanship that has passed as governing on Capitol Hill over the summer.” True enough. But dare we say who owns the brunt of the shame?
Reporters Jim Spencer and Jeremy Herb look at reaction to the plan and say: “Republicans like Rep. Erik Paulsen liked portions of the president’s proposal that called for passing trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. He also liked the president’s call to get rid of red tape in the permitting process for construction projects. But Paulsen, who represents Minnesota’s Third District, stopped far short of endorsing the heart of the president’s plan. Plans to spend $140 billion to rehire teachers laid off in the recession, to build roads and to repair schools sounded too much like earlier economic stimulus spending to Paulsen, which he considered a failure. So did a $62 billion extension of unemployment benefits and $245 billion in payroll tax cuts for small businesses and individuals. Second District Republican Rep. John Kline echoed those sentiments.”
Monsanto, the, uh, “star” of the popular documentary “Food, Inc.” is denying reports about mutant corn pests. Mark Steil of MPR reports: “Federal regulators are studying reports that the corn rootworm may have outsmarted varieties produced by Monsanto, the nation’s leading seller of genetically modified corn seed. The plant is designed to kill the bug, but in several Midwest states, including Minnesota, it looks like the corn is losing its effectiveness. … Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, said rootworm resistance may be growing faster than the company acknowledges. ‘In one, two, three years down the line it could spread quite rapidly,’ said Freese, a frequent critic of genetically modified crops. A decade ago, Monsanto downplayed the emergence of herbicide resistant weeds until they became a major headache, Freese said.”
At The Cucking Stool blog, “Spot” goes after Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove for his pretty direct adherence to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the so-called “bill mill” crowd, partly financed by the Koch brothers. Says “Spot”: “I read an article in Rolling Stone online the other day, and it reminded me of Sen. Warren Limmer’s bill from last session. The article was The GOP War on Voting, and the bill was Limmer’s bill to require a photo ID to vote (there were other disenfranchisement provisions in the bill, e.g., making registration harder, too). Although it could be called Warren and Mary’s dirty war on democracy, because Rep. Mary “Jesus in the Conference Room” Kiffmeyer introduced companion legislation in the House, it was Limmer’s bill SF509 that was passed and vetoed by the governor. Kiffmeyer is the chair of Minnesota’s American Legislative Exchange Council delegation, and according to his staff, Limmer “used” to be a member of ALEC. Voter ID is one of ALEC’s big initiatives.”