Five at 8 – 8/18/09: Making money off misery


The moon-Venus conjunction just before dawn this morning (it was better yesterday).


Send yours.

1) Everybody’s misery is an opportunity for somebody to make money. The New York Times reports today that investors are buying up the tax liens of homeowners who have fallen behind on property taxes. Then they jack up the interest rates and charge service fees. “It beats the heck out of any certificate of deposit,” said Howard Liggett, executive director of the National Tax Lien Association.

2) As MPR’s Marty Moylan reports, leaders of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination — the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — are in Minneapolis this week. The big issue is whether gays should be allowed in the pulpit. Here are some links to follow along. Here’s the Assembly’s Web site. Here’s live video (there’s a session today from 8-11 a.m.). Here’s archived video. Here’s the Twitter hashtag feed.

3) From the Devil-You-Know Department. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai has quietly put into effect the Shiite Personal Status Law, the New York Times’ The Lede blog reports. “… Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses, ‘except in extreme circumstances.'” Why would the person backed by the United States do such a thing? He’s in a tough re-election fight and he needs the support of Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric.

Not much coverage on this from U.S. media but Al Jazeera covered it last April.

4) Can a blind man be a Major League Baseball radio announcer? You bet. One is.5) For the last few years, it often seems the only things being built in downtown St. Paul are parking ramps. If so many people need to come downtown, why can’t retail flourish there? Light-rail is threatening to displace parking on University Ave., so officials and business owners are trying to come up with a solution. The ease of parking, suggests today, may be a big barrier to efforts to getting people to try other modes of transportation.

If car parking is often overshadowed in traffic talk, bicycle parking is even more obscure. For many people in the United States it might be hard to imagine what there is to talk about. Why don’t you just stick it in the garage? Or: Isn’t that what street signs and trees are for? But as the share of trips made by bicycle has grown in recent years–in Portland, Ore., for example, bicycle use has grown nearly 150 percent since 1990, and an estimated 5 percent of people bike to work–new attention is being paid to what happens to those bicycles when they are not in motion.

Some cities are making big efforts to give people an option of where to put their bikes when they bike to work, something other than just chaining it to a traffic sign.

Bonus: Who killed the editorial cartoon?


A Minneapolis musician named Derryl M. Jenkins has accused Minneapolis police of unjustly attacking him during a traffic stop last February. Police say that Jenkins resisted arrest and that they used the force necessary to subdue him. Jenkins and his lawyer have released squad-car video footage of the incident. What do you see in the video?


I’m having coffee this morning with an unemployed woman in St. Louis Park for another installment the News Cut series, “The Unemployed.” I hope to have something posted here early this afternoon. Want to tell me your story of unemployment? Contact me.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) First hour: Evangelical Lutherans are gathering in Minneapolis to consider whether to permit gay and lesbian ministers to lead churches if they are in a committed relationship. Midmorning discusses the tension this issue has created regarding inclusion and unity among other mainline Protestant churches. Second hour: Personal finance columnist Sandra Block gives tips on paying for education and solutions to personal finance woes for non-students like.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Howard Gleckman, author of “Caring for Our Parents” and Kathryn Roberts of Ecumen will discuss long-term care. Second hour: Robert Wright of the New America Foundation, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival about his book, “The Evolution of God.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Sir Ben Kingsley. Second hour: TV shows. What’s new, what’s old in the new TV season.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Another look at end-of-life care. Dr. David Casarett of the University of Pennsylvania talks through the rhetoric. Elizabeth Shogren asks a great question: How green is green electricity?

  • @ryaninmpls

    Ok, this may be my arrogance, but I thought the ECLA issue was not homosexuals behind the pulpit but homosexuals who are in committed relationships/not celibate being behind the pulpit. Can you clarify/chastise? If I’m wrong, I’ll step up.

  • @ryaninmpls

    For example, I mean to ELCA not ECLA. 🙂

  • Bob Collins

    Right. Follow the link to the previous News Cut post on the issue.

  • JackU

    I don’t usually watch the network news, but last night I caught the story on the blind announcer. I think the best part of the story is that he doesn’t think its that strange that he can do the job. The longer he’s at it the less others will think its amazing and that’s progress.

  • Eve

    Shiite Personal Status Law

    I guess that would be incentive to keep your personal status “single”.


    setting the house on fire whenever needing to go out.

  • penny

    ///Everybody’s misery is an opportunity for somebody to make money

    In what world is that ok? The very tone you have written this issue implies that society is accepting of this kind of behavior. Since when is it humane to feed off of others pain? Does anyone have a conscience/morals/values anymore or is it all about survival of the fittest? Satisfying the ME that never has enough.