News Agenda – Tuesday October 28, 2008

Looking into the news crystal ball:

On the first hour of Midmorning, Kerri Miller and her political analyst guests will look at the undecided vote. I noticed on Twitter that there’s been an increasing number of people characterizing the undecided voter at this late stage in a bad light. Perhaps it’s not that they’re uninformed, as the narrative goes, but they’re simply not happy with the choices presented to them; sort of like the Star Tribune not endorsing anyone in the 3rd District.

The second hour looks at Dracula through the ages, a topic that nearly got it disqualified from this post.

In the Senate race, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is campaigning with Norm Coleman in Farmington, Inver Grove Heights, North Oaks, Hugo, Ham Lake, Anoka, Otsego and St. Paul. With the exception of St. Paul, Coleman is plowing fertile ground. Of the more than two dozen precincts in the suburbs above, Coleman lost only two to Walter Mondale in 2002 — one in Ham Lake and one in Inver Grove Heights. (Here’s the spreadsheet if you’d like to play).

Franken is also sticking close to the base. He’s campaigning in St. Paul today with NARAL Pro-choice America President Nancy Keenan and U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). Last night he attended a rally at Bemidji State University. Franken will also be in Rochester.

ACORN is having a get-out-the-vote rally at 4:15 today. The group has been the centerpiece of an anti-Obama effort by McCain forces.

Quick! Name 4th District congresswoman Betty McCollum’s opponent? You can find out during the first hour of Midday when he and McCollum “debate” during the first segment, The candidates in the 5th District will be featured in the second segment. In the 2nd hour Midday will have some stump and policy speeches from various candidates.

The latest news on the bailout package? Guess who’s looking for a wad of the cash now? The auto industry. The New York Times reports today that GMAC — the financing arm of General Motors — may become a bank holding company, thus making it eligible for bailout cash.

Chrysler and GM will need cash to merge, the story says. Overnight, ratings services reached deeper into the alphabet to lower the credit rating of both companies, and may soon have to adopt a new rating — rathole.

What happens if you go to the bank these days? On All Things Considered tonight, MPR’s Marty Moylan has a look and finds that banks are lending to credit-worthy customers (and defines that), but that hasn’t stopped businesses from worrying about it.

Bank failures are becoming more common — and undercovered. But the smaller banks must have some cash because when a bank failed in Georgia last week, it was a St. Cloud bank that came to the rescue.

In Washington this morning, owners of small businesses will testify about the economy. No Minnesotans or plumbers are among them.

After all these years, sad stories from the family farm seem to go in one ear and out the other, but this is one worth pulling up a box of Kleenex for. On All Things Considered tonight, MPR’s Mark Steil profiles a family facing its last harvest. A son was supposed to take over the family farm, but Gary Richards, 44, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and can’t do it anymore.

One item not in Mark’s story: Richards and his wife were named this year’s Steele County farmers of the year.

It’s one of those stories that makes you think that in all the hours of political debate, some wise journalist could’ve slipped “stem cell research” onto the list of questions being asked of the candidates for office. As you look back on this campaign — especially for Senate — it’s amazing how many issues haven’t been discussed that are quite likely to come up in the next few years.

The Minneapolis Youth Convention gets underway this afternoon at the Civic Center. In three hours, they’ll talk about issues facing kids in the city

The Minnesota Indian Business Conference opens at Treasure Island. Margo Gray-Proctor, who runs an engineering firm, is the keynote speaker on how Indian companies can compete in today’s economy. Here’s a little background on her.

Bud Grant, Ron Schara and some other outdoors leaders are holding news conferences around the state to push for the sales tax increase for outdoors and cultural programs.

Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul is announcing a plan this afternoon to provide bus service to kids participating in after-school and no-school day programs.

In New Ulm tonight, they’ll talk about how residents can cut their risk of heart attacks. Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer

from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,” is the keynote speaker.

NPR profiled Buettner and the idea of “blue zones” last June:

Buettner says one such zone, the Italian island of Sardinia, has the highest number of male centenarians in the world, while another, Okinawa, Japan, has the longest disability-free life expectancy. In Loma Linda, Calif., a community of Seventh Day Adventists has a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. And middle-age mortality is lowest on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula — where Buettner says middle-aged residents have about a four-fold greater chance of reaching age 90 than people in the United States do.

They might finish the World Series game today. Maybe not. The feds could stash a person in witness protection on either one of these teams and he’d be just fine.

What’s on your agenda today?