Minnesota’s happily unemployed (5×8 – 8/9/12)

Stanley Crooks speaks, is hitting ‘like’ on Facebook free speech, menstruating women and camping, order a TV and get a gun, and the Hudson crash and warning signs.


1) STANLEY CROOKS SPEAKS

Shakopee Mdewakanton leader Stanley Crook’s “quote of the day” in the New York Times is bound to grate the thousands of Minnesota families decimated by unemployment.

“We have 99.2 percent unemployment,” he told the Times in an article today. “It’s entirely voluntary.”

Crooks doesn’t do interviews very often. I’d guess MPR has been trying to interview him for over 20 years. In 1997, his cousin responded to a story about disputes over the limited tribal “membership” by telling us, “it’s just nobody’s business what we do with our money. Somebody wins a lottery out there, we don’t go to their house and say, ‘Well, how do you spend your money?'”

Crooks opened up to the Times a bit more in the article portraying the future of Indian casinos as threatened by states that want a piece of the action.

But it’s the effect of all the casino money — tribal members get $1 million a year — that pervaded the article.


Despite its wealth, however, the Shakopee reservation has few mansion-size homes, although most families have at least one high-end car in the driveway. Many tribal members own large second homes off the reservation and nearly everyone sends children to private schools. Expensive hobbies like thoroughbred breeding, big game hunting and elaborate trips — which sometimes last for months — are common.

Families say it is difficult to teach children the value of money when everyone knows no one will likely ever need to work.

“Why dig a hole when you don’t need to dig it — when you can pay someone to dig a hole?” said Keith B. Anderson, the tribe’s secretary and treasurer, who once worked for Target as an industrial designer. “Instead of budgeting a dinner and movie, you can go to dinner and a movie and have dinner again and see another movie, but you can’t see enough movies and dinners to spend all your money.”

Related: The top federal prosecutor in South Dakota is reopening homicide investigations that led to the Pine Ridge uprisings in the 1970s (Los Angeles Times).

2) IS HITTING “LIKE” FREE SPEECH?

You work for a guy running for re-election. When you fire up your Facebook account (on your own time), you hit “like” on the Facebook page of the person running against him. Can you be fired?

A lower court says “yes.” And that’s set the stage for a landmark appeal.

Related “what don’t you get about the Constitution?”: A charter school in Louisiana is going to end its practice of forcing pregnant students out of the classroom. (BBC)

More tech: Curtis Gilbert’s story today that your e-mail address can be made public by the cities that have it is quite an eye-opener. But there’s another angle in it also worthy of consideration — cities that drag their feet when it comes to releasing information that is public, essentially gutting the spirit of the data practices law.

3)MENSTRUATING WOMEN AND THE THREE BEARS

The National Park Service has released a research paper in response to the “long-standing concern” that the odors associated with menstruation could lure in hungry bears, putting women at a higher risk than men of being mauled, the Mother Nature Network reports today. Surprise! It’s an urban legend.

Despite the conclusion, the Park Service issued a new set of guidelines.

4) THE HUDSON CRASH

There may be no sadder story in these parts lately than the deaths of three high schoolers, whose vehicle slammed into a truck stopped near a construction zone on I-94. The Star Tribune reports today the driver was looking for a piece of paper to get the attention of a young woman driving a car nearby when he hit the truck.

A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, however, provides a curious response to one of the boy’s parents, who notes a flashing sign warning of the construction zone was not illuminated.


“It doesn’t matter how many signs in the world we put up — and I don’t want this to come across as insensitive — or how far away we put them, if people are not watching and paying attention, it’s not going to matter,” said Christine Ouellette, a spokeswoman for the agency.

She says there’ve been lots of crashes at the location and the main cause has been inattentive driving.

Question: Isn’t the point of warning signs to get someone’s attention? If someone’s already paying attention, why are there signs at all?

More signs have been put up, by the way, since the accident, the newspaper says.

5)GUN. TV. CLOSE ENOUGH

seth3.jpgWhen D.C. resident Seth Horvitz ordered a flat-panel TV on Amazon, he didn’t expect to get an assault rifle in return, Wired.com reports. He ordered a 39-inch Westinghouse LCD for $320 from a third-party seller. On Tuesday night he got an assault rifle, which is pretty lousy at picking up digital signals, it turns out.

Somewhere, perhaps, someone is wondering why he had to have a background check to watch some TV.

Bonus I: Why can’t we get cool stuff like this in Minnesota?

(h/t: Ben Chorn)

Bonus II: They don’t make Olympic bodies like they used to. (NPR)

runners_custom.jpg

Bonus III: Why are so many gay athletes reluctant to be like Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx?

Related: A tribute to local basketball writer Tim Allen, who took his own life this week, according to friends.

TODAY’S QUESTION

A convicted murderer with an IQ measured at 61 was executed in Texas this week, prompting criticism from the ACLU and other groups. Today’s Question: Should states where the death penalty is legal require a minimum mental capacity before sentencing someone to die?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Poverty in America.

Second hour: Are kids overtested in school?

Third hour: Should pilots be armed?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): A new documentary from the America Abroad series: “Religious Minorities in the Middle East.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – What the future holds for Cuba. President Raul Castro says he wants to reform the economy. But progress is slow. The Cuban population is aging and needs services the system can’t provide. Young Cubans look elsewhere for opportunities.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - The lows and highs of European unity. Thanks to the European Union’s open borders, so-called coffee shops in the Netherlands sell plenty of legal marijuana to foreigners. At least one Dutch border city got fed up with its reputation as a pot haven. So it’s cracked down with new laws to keep the rest of Europe out of its coffee shops.