Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


It’s a deal: Betty Ford and Hazelden merge

Somali community braces for Kenya news; bong ruled Rastafarian religious expression; phone scam alert; ADM relocation here possible; billion-dollar hailstorm; and more.

It’s official … . Jackie Crosby of the Strib says: “Minnesota-based Hazelden and California’s Betty Ford Center have agreed to merge, creating the largest nonprofit addiction treatment organization in the nation. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The new entity, under a combined board, will be named the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Hazelden will also rename its Women’s Recovery Center in Minnesota to honor Betty Ford’s commitment to promote treatment and recovery for women.”

The kind of attention you really don’t want … . Jamie Dettmer at The Daily Beast writes: “Somali-Americans in Minnesota’s Twin Cities are bracing themselves for the news that some of the men recruited from their community by the al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab were among the gunmen who stormed the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and unleashed a bloodbath. … The group’s message, perpetuated in mosques, through word-of-mouth, or via videos, is often a mix of religious propaganda laced with the promise of adventure. Many of the videos posted online show footage of combat and Al-Shabab training camps, suggesting that joining up could be an escape for the young men, who are often unemployed or stuck in dead-end jobs. More than half of the young Somali-Americans in the Twin Cities are unemployed.”

For Public Radio International, Traci Tong writes: “There has been speculation that two of the attackers had come from Minnesota, recruited by al-Shabab. But [radio host Zuhur] Ahmed expressed doubts. In the past, she said, when someone from the Minnesota Somali community was involved in a terrorist act, word got around. There was nothing said this time, she said. Still, Ahmed said, she wouldn’t be surprised if it was discovered that someone from her community was involved. Ahmed had known one of the men who participated in an al-Shabab suicide attack in Bosaso and Hargeisa, Somalia.”

Meanwhile … . Matt Sepic of MPR reports: “Authorities still don’t know if the militants who attacked a shopping mall in Kenya hold Minnesota ties. But there’s no doubt some of their victims have family connections here. Hodan Hassan of Minnetonka, Minn., says two of her teenage nieces were injured in the attack. One niece, 17-year-old Fardosa Abdi, suffered severe leg injuries and has undergone two rounds of surgery; 16-year-old Dheeman Abdi suffered less serious wounds to an arm and a leg. … In Collegeville, Minn. three students at St. John’s Preparatory School have family members who were killed in the attack. Two sisters from Kenya and another student from Ghana lost relatives, said Matt Reichert, the school’s principal.”

Article continues after advertisement

That’s no bong — it’s a religious icon … Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “The Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided with a 15-year-old Rastafarian, ruling that his right to religious expression trumps his being found guilty in Ramsey County of a drug paraphernalia offense for carrying a glass pipe. In Monday’s reversal of the District Court on the petty misdemeanor case from September 2012, Court of Appeals Judge Jill Flaskamp Halbrooks wrote that the teenager has a ‘genuinely held belief in possessing a cannabis pipe’ as part of observing his faith. Therefore, Halbrooks continued, the prosecution had ‘failed to meet its burden’ of showing that it had a ‘compelling state interest’ in enforcing the statute in this case. ‘The state improperly … argues that because the pipe may be used for an illegal purpose,’ the teen is guilty, Halbrooks wrote.” Yah, mon!

Phone scammers are targeting Minnesota Power customers. The Superior Telegram story says: “Minnesota Power customers are asked to be aware of a telephone scam we’ve been hearing about from several customers this week. The caller poses as a Minnesota Power employee and instructs the home/business owner to make a wire or cash payment or their power will be disconnected that same day, according to a release from Minnesota Power.”

Thirteen Minnesota agencies will split $9.2 million in federal money. Pat Kennedy of the Strib says: “Thirteen Minnesota organizations that serve low-income communities received $9.2 million in Financial Assistance and Technical assistance awards through the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) program. This year Minnesota ranked fourth in total dollars awarded per state, behind California, New York and Illinois. The CDFI Fund awarded $172 million to 191 community organizations nationwide.” And every nickel of it was ripped from the pockets of job creators.

The GleanCloser to where the corn is … Adam Belz of the Strib says: “The Twin Cities are reportedly on a closely guarded short list of sites for a new global headquarters for agribusiness giant ADM. The company, which was founded in Minneapolis, announced Monday that it will move about 100 executives and staff from Decatur, Ill., to a new headquarters, location to be determined. It also plans to create a new information technology center at the new location and add about 100 jobs there over a few years. The company said it is ‘considering locations and having discussions with various public officials and advisors,’ but will not say which cities are in the running.”

That August hailstorm? A billion-dollar disaster. At MPR, Paul Huttner says: “The combined storm damages from the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin turned out to be in the $1-billion range according to the August 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield. It was the 6th billion dollar weather disaster in the United States this year. Colorado’s record floods near Boulder will be the 7th with preliminary damages estimated to be around $2 billion.”

And how exactly do you become a “celibacy expert”?  MPR has a story up saying: “Anyone in a position of authority in the Roman Catholic Church should have been able to see ‘red flags’ in the behavior of the Rev. Curtis Wehmeyer, a priest now in prison on charges of child pornography and child sexual abuse, says a former priest who now works as a counselor in the field. … ‘These are red flags,’ said Richard Sipe in an interview with Morning Edition. ‘These are danger signals,’ he said, that should have portrayed Wehmeyer as ‘compulsive and having a hard time controlling himself, as was very clear to the bishop and to the priests — some of the priests, certainly, in authority in St. Paul.’ Sipe, a former priest and professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is now a clinical mental health counselor in California. He has spent years researching celibacy and mental health among Roman Catholic priests.”