Some Minnesota Somalis returning to help rebuild

The Strib’s Mila Koumpilova reports on Somalis heading home to help the re-building process. “In the past two years, some local Somali-Americans have headed back to the East African country as it starts slowly emerging from two decades of fighting and chaos. The trend has become a frequent topic of discussion in the Somali community and the focus of a newly released study from the University of Minnesota. The returnees face many hurdles: a shortage of amenities, a sometimes tense relationship with compatriots who stayed during the civil war and security concerns … . But advocates of this return migration say expatriates from places like Minnesota will be crucial to Somalia’s fragile recovery, with potential benefits to their host communities, as well.”

Sam Cook of the Forum News Service reflects on the first five years of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. “The road to this point has sometimes been rocky, with heated debates over what kinds of projects should be approved and where money should be spent. But despite those controversies, many observers say the amendment is doing what voters intended, putting millions of dollars to work improving fish and wildlife habitat, parks and trails and the arts.”

Today in “You Can’t Make this Stuff Up”: At KMSP-TV Jack Highburger writes, “A Minnesota couple’s car was repossessed, and now, they’re fighting to get something out of that car that’s priceless: An urn containing their baby boy’s ashes. … Last month, while attending a family funeral, the van was repossessed. Among the personal items inside were social security cards, birth certificates and most important of all, the ashes of their infant son Zach, who died in 2013. According to the couple, the dealership is now asking for a $350 fee to get those items back.”

Fear the caramel apple. Says Paul Walsh in the Strib, “Health and food safety officials have newly identified the 16 brands of Minnesota-produced caramel apples that acquired their fruit from a California company whose apples sickened dozens of people and killed at least three, two of them in Minnesota. An advisory issued Friday by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is part of a larger recall of Granny Smith and Gala apples from Bidart Brothers Apple Packing of Shafter, Calif.”

Bill is getting the respect he’s due. Don Davis of the Forum News Service files a piece on a competitor, semi-retiring PiPress capitol reporter Bill Salisbury. “Salisbury made it clear that his real interest is in Minnesota politics. His enthusiasm rubbed off on colleagues. ‘I sat next to Bill in the Capitol basement for years, and it was always a thrill to watch him work,’ former Pioneer Press reporter Denny Lien recalled. ‘Being a reporter covering politics was the perfect calling for him. … He was energized by the ideas, by the pursuit of the story, and by the people he encountered. He seemingly knew everyone and everyone knew him. Moreover, they all knew they’d get a fair shake from him.’” Bill’s cutting back to 14 hours a week.

Meanwhile, in fraud follies: Walsh of the Strib writes, “An accomplice of a Twin Cities supervisor for Northwest Airlines and its successor, Delta, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for concocting a scheme that cheated the companies out of more than $36 million. Michael Yedor, 62, of Los Angeles, was sentenced in federal court Friday in Atlanta in a plot that U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates said was ‘astounding’ in ‘scope and magnitude.’ … Yedor, who also pleaded guilty, was apprehended while on his 72-foot yacht in San Diego on June 21. Attached to the indictment of the two was a list of transactions that read like a Who’s Who of posh Beverly Hills retailers. One was for $37,000 at Cartier, another for $43,000 at Chanel. Other stores where the ill-gotten gains were spent included Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Saks and Hermès.” In other words, wall-to-wall cliche.

The GleanSpeaking of our friends in the airline industry. Luke Taylor of MPR has a story saying, “‘A violist, a cellist and a bassist walk into an airport …’ It feels like the premise to a corny music joke, but for working musicians traveling with their instruments, walking into an airport was no laughing matter. ‘It’s terrifying,’ says Minnesota Orchestra violist Sam Bergman. ‘Even if if you think you know an airline’s policy and you arrive at the airport having researched it, everyone’s got horror stories about having missed a flight or left off a flight because a gate agent says you can’t bring your instrument on the plane because it doesn’t fit inside that little box they have.’

Ladies! Dee DePass of the Strib writes, “[Angela] Porter, 46, is one of 206 Minnesota women to benefit from a new statewide effort to find, train, hire and shoehorn more women into construction, manufacturing, robotics, trucking and other well-paying industries traditionally occupied by men. The state’s new Women and High-Wage, High-Demand, Nontraditional Jobs Grant Program recently issued $475,000 to Goodwill-Easter Seals and six other colleges and nonprofits focused on helping women with low incomes.”

Adding insult to injury, the trial may go on for weeks. In the PiPress, Marino Eccher says, “Most every eligible juror in Dakota County already knew who he was, and most of them already thought he was guilty. Starting today, Brian Fitch Sr. and his defense attorneys will look for a dozen people in St. Cloud who can give him a fair shake. Fitch, 40, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Scott Patrick. … Nearly every respondent [in Dakota County] voiced a negative opinion of Fitch. Several called him ‘the devil.’ Many suggested a trial was a waste of time, instead suggesting a swift execution. Wrote one self-described lifelong pacifist: ‘I find myself thinking, just shoot him.’                                                               

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