In 2011, tornadoes target cities (5×8 – 5/24/11)

1) PILING ON

As long as they’re not hitting major cities, deaths by tornado are still relatively light in the U.S. That, of course has changed this year because the tornadoes have hit fairly major cities. The New York Times has put together this adjustable map (this is just an image of it, you’ll have to go here to actually play with it) that shows the number of tornadoes in the U.S. each year, and the number of deaths overall.

The tornado season has just started, and already it’s the worst year since 1953, when tornadoes struck the heavily populated areas of Texas, Michigan, and Massachusetts.

nytimes_tornado_map.jpg

One other interesting aspect of this — at least so far: Last year there was speculation that tornado alley was moving north. There were many tornadoes in Minnesota, but not as many in the south and southeast. Was 2010 a fluke? It’s too early to say. June is the month here that features the most tornadoes.Of course, we humans have been trying to capture the power of tornadoes with our photographs. Storm chasing is not something new. Slate has a slideshow of tornadoes through the decades.

But the ones from 2011, taken in Joplin, are absolutely devastating. Last night, two people working to rescue people in Joplin were struck by lightning.

A Facebook page has been set up to find Will Norton. He was a passenger in a car driven by his dad in Joplin on Sunday. The tornado ripped him out of his seat belts and sucked him through the car’s sun roof.

Tornadoes have dealt north Minneapolis a bad hand, MPR’s Laura Yuen rightly reports. When a tornado hits the suburbs, people rebuild their homes. In north Minneapolis, however, there are lots of renters and it’s not up to them; it’s up to their landlords.


Making it more complicated is the fact that north Minneapolis was already struggling with a housing crisis. In the four-square mile area that the city deems hardest hit, more than 270 homes were foreclosed in the past year.

Despite all of its challenges, the north side is home to plenty of strong churches, nonprofits, and neighborhoods. They’ve all come out in force to help with the recovery.

“The general attitude was, ‘Who can we help? What can we do?’ A lot of people’s minds were on kids, their neighbors, who needed help, how can we move trees? Strong guys pulling things out of the way, helping old ladies, helping kids, helping moms. That’s what goes on in our neighborhoods, too. We’re not absent of that,” former resident Michele Livingston told Yuen.

Sen. Linda Higgins has put together everything you need to know here.

What is it about tornadoes that brings out the worst in some of us? In Alabama, which still very much a disaster zone from tornadoes earlier this month, looting has victimized people who’ve lost almost everything…

2) THE MYTH OF THE RECYCLING BOX

In Duluth, some green boxes have sprouted, urging people to donate clothing. But they’re not local, Perfect Duluth Day reports:


As a member of the City of Duluth Commission on Disabilities, I became aware that these boxes — of which there are now at least 57 in Duluth and the surrounding communities — have been placed here by a private for-profit business from the Twin Cities. Triangle Recycling owns the boxes and they sell the clothing collected in these boxes. They ship these clothes out of state to places like Texas and Mexico and keep 95% of the profits. According to the company’s president, they donate 5% of their annual profits to the UCP, which is based in St. Cloud.

That is all good and fine, except these boxes are misleading and they are harming area nonprofits, such as Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Savers, who depend on local donations to fund their programs, which provide jobs to people with disabilities, services to disabled vets, and other much needed services to people in our community who truly need them. All of these green boxes are on private property, mostly of local business owners, who were not given all of the facts by Triangle Recycling. Having spoken to several of these area business people, they were shocked and dismayed to hear the full story behind the green boxes.

This is big business. The Chicago Tribune investigated the industry and found it’s being taken over by for-profit companies, many of whom pretend to be charitable, but aren’t:


One of the biggest players, Gaia, falls in the first category. Over the last several years it has been criticized for characterizing itself as an environmental charity with projects around the world, when most of its environmental work remains collecting clothes for sale. Along with the related organizations Planet Aid and USAgain, Gaia has expanded in the last decade despite its connection to the controversial Danish organization Tvind, whose leader was acquitted of charges of money laundering and embezzlement in 2006.

3) FOREVER 70?

Seventy? How is that possible? Today is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, a fact you were unlikely to miss if you’re within a stone’s throw of any place that documents pop culture. MPR is presenting a documentary on his life and music today. But why wait when you can find it here?

The Duluth News Tribune does its part, trotting out some old interviews with Dylan and some great pictures.

Do you ever listen to Garrison Keillor?

“A few years ago I used to listen to him. I like his show, I’ve always liked it.”

Does it ever make you homesick for Minnesota?

“Well, ah… yeah, it does. Well, I don’t get homesick for those kind of things he talkin’ about because, ah, I don’t know if my upbringing was like that. But I get homesick for where it all happened.”

Everyone says it was a very warm home you and your brother, David, were brought up in.

“Well, we had a big family, like a big extended family. My grandmother had about 17 kids on the one side, and on the other side about 13 kids. So there was always a lot of family-type people around.

4) WHEN DREAMS GO TILT

Who could possibly have seen this coming? The National Pinball Hall of Fame is closing after just five months in operation. A guy put up $300,000 of his own money to open it. Silly? Maybe. But David Silverman says it’s a dream he’s had for a long time. He says he’s not giving up, even though he’s lost his lease. “This is America, and we’re losing more and more of our history,” he said. “We need a place where we can keep [pinball] as a permanent record.”

You have to root for people chasing dreams. What’s yours?

5) THE YAWN

Things are getting worse for the Twins. They lost again last night and have fallen 16 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central. That’s the farthest they’ve been behind all year.

But is Kevin Slowey yawning really a problem?

Keeping you up, are we, Kevin? That’s Twins Baseball notes that lots of people yawn, it’s just that Slowey picked a bad time.

Bonus: This is a champion glider pilot in Italy doing his glider thing this week. Remember: No engine. Hang on.

TODAY’S QUESTION

President Obama says he wants to resume work on a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. He favors a two-state solution drawn roughly along the lines of Israel’s 1967 borders. Today’s Question: What’s the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Political reporters and analysts assess the legislative stalemate.

Second hour: Facts are often in dispute these days. And from the conspiracy over where the President born was to those who believe that 9/11 was an “inside job,” there remains polarization over matters where the evidence seems unequivocal. Why do many people remain unconvinced by facts?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The post-legislative session fallout.

Second hour: Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The politics of voter ID

Second hour: The role of the political spouse.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - – The U.S. Postal Service is hemorrhaging money, and talking about closing post offices. For small rural towns that lose a post office it’s just another in a long series of losses as populations decline. MPR’s Mark Steil will visit a few

MPR’s Tom Weber will review the results the MCA standardized test, which are being released today. State officials are only releasing scores from the 10th grade reading and 11th grade math test. Included will be results from the GRAD, which is part of the MCA test.

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