Blacks over the age of 65 will live out their lives in significantly poorer health than whites, according to a new report. At MPR, Lorna Benson says: “Black Minnesotans who have reached the age of 65 can expect to be healthy for far less of their remaining years than whites, according to new federal government data. A report released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concludes that black Minnesotans can expect a little over half of their remaining years — or 57 percent — to be healthy. On average Minnesotans 65 and older can expect 77.5 percent of their remaining years to be healthy. But while that is true for whites, black senior citizens will not see as many healthy years.” And that’s without wearing a hoodie.
You can sue a dead man. At the Strib, Randy Furst says: “Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura can continue his lawsuit over publication of a book that he contends defamed him, a federal magistrate ruled Thursday. Chris Kyle, author of the book ‘American Sniper,’ was killed in February by a young veteran he was mentoring, so Ventura’s attorneys asked that they be allowed to maintain the suit by substituting Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, as the defendant. Arthur Boylan, U.S. chief magistrate judge for the federal courts in Minnesota, wrote in his ruling that a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure specifies that if ‘a party dies and the claim is not extinguished, the court may order substitution of the proper party.’” I did not know that.
U of M employees are not going to like this. Catharine Richert of MPR writes: “One of the state’s largest employers is proposing to scale back its employee health plans to avoid a massive tax penalty under the new federal health care law. The University of Minnesota is considering changes for 2014 that would increase copays for primary and specialty care, require employees to pay deductibles, and establish a cheaper, but more limited plan for Twin Cities area employees, among other things. The changes would apply to employees but not students. University human resources vice president Kathy Brown said the cut backs are necessary to avoid paying an estimated $48 million ‘Cadillac tax,’ an excise tax included in the Affordable Care Act that is meant to discourage employers from offering overly generous health insurance.”
Also at MPR, Annie Baxter files a report on how employment statistics are compiled. “Do you have a job? Do you get paid for it? Each month, Census workers ask thousands of Americans, including 1,700 Minnesotans, those personal questions. The answers they get deliver vital clues to the nation’s economic health. Economists comb Census data to see if work is available, if employers are hiring more full- or part-time workers and if people are job hunting or giving up on finding work. Survey answers are used to calculate unemployment rates. … Someone who merely mows a neighbor’s lawn for pay would technically be counted as employed.”
“Cycle tracks.” Write that down. You’ll be hearing more about it. Steve Brandt of the Strib reports: “Momentum is growing in Minneapolis to put something more than paint between cyclists and traffic, and it appears that bike advocates could be near their first victory in the fight for cycle tracks. Cycle tracks give bikers a physical barrier between the bike lane and general traffic, often a curb or a raised surface, but sometimes also parked cars or a boulevard. The idea originated in Europe but is spreading in bike-friendly U.S. cities as a way to encourage potential bike commuters who feel timid about riding on busy streets in painted bike lanes. … Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said he expects cycle tracks to be recommended as part of a six-block, $8.9 million reconstruction of Washington Avenue S. scheduled for 2014.” Absolutely. Let the hipsters test it out.
Sen. Al Franken got a shout out from the president Thursday. Stribber Kevin Diaz says: “Obama used the White House podium Thursday to extol a provision authored by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., that he said has already paid dividends to millions of Americans. The so-called Medical Loss Ratio, has been credited with putting money back into the pockets of over 8.5 million Americans by requiring that health insurers spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on actual health services, as opposed to administrative overhead. Obama said the provision has lowered premiums and provided rebates averaging $100 each. Much of that money, however, goes to employers who provide insurance.”
On ever-tighter restrictions on abortion in neighboring states, the Strib editorializes, “Minnesota’s neighbors have moved with alarming alacrity to cripple women’s access to a safe and legal medical procedure — abortion. Minnesota, where Gov. Mark Dayton sensibly vetoed a slew of abortion restrictions passed when Republicans controlled the Legislature, is now a health care island in the Upper Midwest. … Voters must push candidates to clearly define their stance on reproductive rights. If not, Minnesota could be engulfed in the rising tide of state-level abortion restrictions put in place by politicians who didn’t run on that issue but who nevertheless quickly passed sweeping new limitations that are not proven to enhance patient safety but instead allow religious beliefs to dictate medical care.” Which is as God and the ALEC commanded it … .
Speaking of how it’s done next door … . Scott Bauer of the AP writes: “One of Wisconsin’s largest real estate developers wrote to Gov. Scott Walker to express his interest in buying several prominent state office buildings at the same time the Legislature was considering doing away with competitive bidding for such sales, according to newly released records. Terrence Wall offered his cellphone number in the letter, urging that the ‘appropriate person’ call him to discuss possible deals for properties including the state crime lab, records obtained by the Associated Press show. Wall also offered his support for the change in the bidding process, an idea that originated with Walker. Wall sent the letter on June 10. The Republican-controlled Legislature agreed 11 days later to allow no-bid sales of state properties over the objection of Democrats, who argued that it opened the door for political cronies to be cut special deals.”
One of the better blog posts on the George Zimmerman verdict/Trayvon Martin killing comes from Kyle “Guante” Myhre at the Opine Season site. (Full disclosure: My blog also appears at Opine Season.) Says Myhre on the concept of white privilege: “We also need to act on those thoughts, to cultivate an awareness that can permeate our lives and relationships. When people of color share personal stories about racism, our immediate response has to stop being ‘but I’m not like that.’ Just listen. Don’t make someone else’s oppression about you and your feelings. When people of color are angry, we need to stop worrying about the ‘tone’ of their arguments, or trying to derail the conversation with phrases like ‘it’s not just about race,’ or contribute meaningless abstractions like ‘let’s start a revolution.’ When we see unjust or discriminatory practices or attitudes in our workplaces, schools, families or neighborhoods, we need to step up and challenge them. We need to take risks. We need to do better. But it can’t end with ‘striving to be a better individual’.”