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White supremacist aims for enclave in North Dakota

Health-insurance transition time for vulnerable; Klobuchar weighs in on Syria; state suicide rate inches up; IRS rules on same-sex marriages; plastics found in Great Lakes; and more.

The white-supremacist enclave in North Dakota might be tough on property values … At the New York Times, John Eligon writes: “Paul Craig Cobb, 61, has been buying up property in this town of 24 people in an effort to transform it into a colony for white supremacists. In the past two years, Mr. Cobb, a longtime proselytizer for white supremacy who is wanted in Canada on charges of promoting hatred … is using Craigslist and white power message boards to entice others in the movement to take refuge in Leith, about two hours southwest of Bismarck. On one board, he detailed his vision for the community — an enclave where residents fly ‘racialist’ banners, where they are able to import enough ‘responsible hard core’ white nationalists to take control of the town government, where ‘leftist journalists or antis’ who ‘come and try to make trouble’ will face arrest. The revelations have riveted this community and the surrounding area, drawing a range of reactions from disgust to disbelief to curiosity.” On the upside there might be something to be said for self-quarantining.

TJ Jerke of the Grand Forks Herald writes, “As Craig Cobb works to turn the small North Dakota town of Leith into an all-white enclave, three other white nationalist groups with similar beliefs are said to be around the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization, maintains a hate map with the names and locations of groups or individuals in each state it considers to be extremist or hate groups. The map shows three groups in North Dakota, in addition to Cobb. ‘None of these groups are in question; they are blatantly white supremacist organizations,’ said Heidi Beirich, director of the law center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks these groups. … [Jamie] Kelso says the party is like every other tiny patriot organization, and that all of them are one of mind. ‘We want to preserve our country as a people, not as a place or location,’ he said.” Someone got picked last at kickball …

It’s transition time for a lot of people on no-other-choice insurance. Jackie Crosby of the Strib writes: “Until now, [Donna] Devine’s only option has been to buy insurance through a state-run program that helps those with pre-existing conditions or who have been denied traditional coverage. The program, called the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA), serves about 26,000 residents, but it will be phased out in 2014 when insurers will be required to take all comers under the Affordable Care Act. … People have turned to the state’s high-risk program if they have used up their COBRA benefits or need to buy coverage for spouses and dependents. The program also is available to self-employed workers, legal immigrants or those who are older than 65 but don’t qualify for Medicare. Many have ongoing illnesses, pre-existing conditions or have had organ transplants — all of which make it hard to get insurance under today’s rules.”

KMSP-TV’s Jeff Passolt talked with Sen. Amy Klobuchar at the Fair Thursday. Here’s a chunk:
Q: I know the big concern right now, the hot-button issue, is what’s going on in Syria. The United Nations had a special meeting today with the U.S., Russia, China. How well-versed are you on that situation there and how is this thing going to turn out?
A: Well, actually, I went to the region a few months ago with Sen. Lindsey Graham and others. We went to Turkey, we went to Jordan, and there’s just thousands of refugees pouring through that border into Jordan. So, there’s a lot of concern there, obviously, with the recent chemical weapon attack. I think what’s happening right now is that the president said he hasn’t made a decision and they are looking at the evidence. As a former prosecutor, I think you have to look at the evidence and then make sure you’re working with our allies before a decision is made. One other thing — I think it’s very important for Minnesotans to know that we do not want to see American troops on the ground in Syria.

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Q: Especially with the way that intervention went in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the intelligence that didn’t turn out to be accurate.
A: I think one of the things is looking at the evidence and then also making sure we don’t go it alone if there is some decision, but right now, the key thing is to get that evidence. The UN is doing an investigation, we’re getting our own intelligence and the president has just started to share that with members of Congress.”

Not good … The AP says: “Minnesota health officials say the state’s suicide rate is inching up. The rate rose to 12.4 per 100,000 people in 2011, up from 11.2 for the year-earlier period. The new rate is close to the national average. … Health officials say the state rate is higher in men and higher in the 25-to-64 age group. And they say the suicide rate is greater outside the metropolitan area — about 14 people per 100,000 in Greater Minnesota, compared to about 11 in the seven-county metro.”

Here’s a Doug Belden PiPress piece on the IRS decision to allow gay couples to file joint tax returns: “Phil Duran, legal director of the gay rights organization OutFront Minnesota, said the IRS ruling largely confirmed what most Minnesota same-sex couples assumed about the recognition of their marriages for federal tax purposes. Same-sex marriage became statutorily legal in Minnesota as of Aug. 1. ‘The impact will be very interesting in states like Wisconsin or the Dakotas, where married couples will now be recognized in an expanding number of ways in the federal context, even while their own states constitutionally bar them from marrying in-state,’ he said. … Duran did predict an impact in Minnesota workplaces. ‘We have heard from people whose employers claimed they did not know how to treat benefits for same-sex spouses, and so were deducting taxes from the employees’ wages ‘pending IRS guidance.’ Well, here’s the guidance; they can now go back and refund the taxes improperly deducted,’ Duran said.”

MPR’s Euan Kerr on the latest Minnesota Orchestra offer … “Response from the musicians representative Blois Olson was quick and unequivocal. ‘Musicians are very disappointed that management has abandoned Senator George Mitchell’s mediators agreement. He was the mediator selected by management and they have apparently rejected his proposal and now abandoned mediation,’ he said. Olson said musicians overwhelmingly rejected the proposal when it was put to them through the mediator some weeks ago. The only proposal they have accepted was one from Mitchell himself which a leaked document revealed was a four-month play and talk deal. … The proposal news also delayed of the release of the results of a brainstorming session organized last week by the audience group Orchestrate Excellence.”

And then in us … The AP says: “Scientists have found tiny plastic particles in all of the Great Lakes. They had previously discovered them in Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie last year and new summer research uncovered small concentrations also in Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario. Mary Balcer, director of the Lake Superior Research Institute at UW-Superior, who has studied more traditional Great Lakes threats such as zebra mussels, said plastics are a new culprit on the list of Great Lakes ecological troubles. ‘The accumulation of plastic particles is a great threat to our natural ecosystem and to the humans who use Lake Superior for our drinking water supply,’ Balcer said Thursday.”

Different kind of show at the Institute of Arts. Mary Abbe of the Strib writes: “Science and art rarely bond so engagingly as they do in the mesmerizing sculptures and photos of Trever Nicholas and Ryuta Nakajima, on view through Sept. 29 in the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Their materials are simple, even commonplace — Styrofoam, light, epoxy resin, photos of art in the museum’s collection. Oh, and some cuttlefish and Swarovski crystals. … Nakajima is an associate professor of art at the University of Minnesota Duluth, but he doubles as a cephalopod researcher, a job that requires him to swim in the ocean with a video camera recording the behavior of squid, octopus and cuttlefish.”