Five by 8 – 4/27/2010: A knock on the door

1) What is this man doing? Choose one

(I originally had a photo of a SWAT cop here. I believed –mistakenly — it was from the raid on the home of Gizmodo’s editor, where authorities seized items to try to find out how a “reporter” got an iPhone prototype. It was not. My apologies. So let’s just go at it straight on.)

Does being a journalist allow you to commit a felony? No, of course not. Yet that’s where the debate is today. It appears Gizmodo paid money for a prototype iPhone that some Apple worker left in a bar ” (wink). The law of finders keepers” doesn’t really apply here. It was well known the phone was missing and that the company wanted it back. At some point, even if you “found” something, it becomes stolen property once you’re aware you shouldn’t have it. If someone pays for it, they’re receiving stolen property and that, presumably, is what the search warrant said.

But don’t let that stop anybody from renewing the “are bloggers journalists?” debate

2) You’re not hearing a lot of “drill baby, drill!” right now. An environmental disaster is taking root in the Gulf of Mexico, where 42,000 gallons of oil a day are spewing from that wellhead that exploded, killing 11 oil workers last week.

That’s nothing, compared to the Exxon Valdez It would take 262 days to equal that. One of the options being considered is letting the oil flow permanently, and figure out some sort of solution to mop it up… permanently. The big oil slick might never make it to Louisiana’s coast, which raises the possibility it goes to the Florida Keys or the Bahamas.

You know it’s big when you can see it from space.


Another oil rig nearby is leaking today.

3) Now, wait just a minute! NPR’s Joanne Silberner links chocolate with depression. That’ll be the headline, of course, but look closer:

People in the group with screening scores suggesting that they might have major depression ate 12 or more servings a month. A serving, for those of you wondering, was a small bar. People in the group with “possible depression” ate eight servings a month. Those who screened negative for depression ate only five servings a month.

Now, the findings don’t mean people who eat a lot of chocolate are necessarily depressed, but it does seem that people with depression are more likely to eat chocolate.

People with depression are also more likely to smoke, but that’s not a “link” (wink wink) between smoking and depression. They’re more likely to self medicate with alcohol or drugs, but that doesn’t necessarily create a “link” between alcohol and depression. She notes that in her column, raising the question, then, what’s the point of the research by the university researchers, other than to get published?

4) The real estate tax credit expires on Friday. It was intended to get the real estate and housing business back on firm footing by offering tax dollars to home buyers. Did it work? If you bought a home with the tax credit, you tell me. The experts say 1.8 million people are buying, but some tax policy experts say most of the $12.6 billion in credits through end of February was collected by people who would have bought homes anyway or who in some cases were not even eligible, the New York Times reports.

“I have written three offers this week for two buyers and it is only Tuesday. The buyers did not just start looking but they now have a sense of urgency about buying,” St. Paul Realtor Teresa Boardman says.

5) A reader commented yesterday to the effect that if we lived in a world of bikes, instead of in a world of cars, we wouldn’t have the kind of tragedies that are dominating the local news this week. I read it as I prepared to head to the airport to pick up my son, returning from a business trip, at 11 p.m. Does the idea make sense? The Story’s Dick Gordon has a guest who has the answer:

Adam Greenfield made a rash new year’s resolution a year ago — to live 100% car-free for all of 2009. He did not step foot in a car, a even a cab for a year. During that year he figured out how to haul lumber to his home, attend his brother’s wedding in Europe, and give tours of San Francisco – all car-free. Adam joins Dick to talk about his experiment, and his hope that others will offer their own tales of green trial and error.

Because of The Story’s goofy archiving, you’ll have to scroll the media player through the segment featuring the first guests. Here’s a piece did about him earlier this year.

Context: In Massachusetts, the Legislature enacted a series of get-tougher laws aimed at teenage drivers after some highly-publicized car crashes. It worked.

Bonus: From last night’s Bucks game in Milwaukee.


American RadioWorks is working on a project examining the textbook industry (They started before Texas made Thomas Jefferson a persona non grata). On June 3, we’re going to have a two-hour program in the UBS Forum on the subject. I’ll be live-blogging it but perhaps you’d like to be in the audience. If so, reserve your tickets here.


In the past week, 11 people have been killed in car crashes involving teenaged drivers. What can we do to prevent accidents like these?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Federal deficit reduction commission is meeting at the White House today to take up the biggest problem with balancing the federal budget long term: Social Security and Medicare trust funds won’t keep up with baby boomers when they retire.

Second hour: Safety advocates back a new proposal before the U.S. Senate that would require states use graduated licensing rules for drivers under the age of 21. Some states, like Minnesota, already have some restrictions on new drivers. But do the laws really work? And are they enforced well enough?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Star Tribune editorial writer columnist and Lori Sturdevant talks about her 35 year career as a journalist.

Second hour: Newbury Award-winning author Neil Gaiman, who spoke at Stillwater Jr. High as part of a new series sponsored by the Library Foundation of Hennepin County.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Understanding financial regulation.

Second hour: How women working within the tenets of Islam create political, economic, and educational opportunities for women.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – An MPR News series begins this afternoon. Central Corridor – A Slow Train Coming. How did the Central Corridor light rail project end up in this mess so close to the finish line? It wasn’t entirely unexpected; the Hiawatha Project, now deemed a success, was the subject of eight lawsuits before it was completed.

Your story: Do you know someone who’s doing something others should know about? Maybe it’s you. Tell me.

  • Alison

    \\what’s the point of the research by the university researchers, other than to get published?

    I was wondering that same question when I heard the headline that it was determined that people are connecting with the government more using the internet. Duh! People are connecting with everything more using the internet.

  • DK

    Bought a home with the tax credit. We were gradually working our way up from renting to buying. I do not know if we would have bought in 2009 without it, but we probably would have tried to buy sometime in 2009-2010 anyway because the market turned in favor of buyers. Without the drop in the market, we could not have bought, or we would have had to buy a less desirable house.

    The tax credit certainly made the decision a lot easier and probably got us to move sooner than we would have otherwise. So to that extent, the credit worked. But to be honest, a credit of half the amount would probably also have had the same effect.

    Of course, we’re buying in Minnesota, where housing prices are more reasonable than in many other parts of the country. Maybe $8,000 would have been what we needed if we were trying to buy in the Washington DC area or the Bay Area or somewhere else with much higher housing costs.

  • Jon

    I bought a house with the tax credit.

    I was thinking about buying one previously, but the houses in my price range (shooting for a mortgage payment close to what my rent was) were not exactly in prime condition (particularly since most of them were foreclosures) the $8k is helping me make the place feel livable again, and replace pipes and such… Probably wouldn’t have bought a house for several more years were it not for the $8K.

  • Jamison

    The part of the Apple iPhone story that I find frustrating is two issues. One, people somehow get this notion that Apple is somehow behind this investigation. They’re a private company and though they might get a little giggle of joy if Gizmodo gets busted on this, there’s nothing they can really do about forcing the DA to prosecute a crime if one hasn’t occurred.

    Two, the legal standing of journalists. First off, no one is saying bloggers aren’t journalists. The California DA even said that he looked into the shield law argument before even asking for a warrant. So EFF and Gizmodo raising this issue really misses the point. The bigger question is if Gizmodo, paying for a piece of property that was considered “stolen” under California law, are in fact a partner to the crime. I think this is the far more interesting legal question… are journalists immune from prosecution if they receive items that they know are not legitimately obtained. Is that “news gathering”?