7/27/10 – Five by 8: Don’t worry, be happy — except in Iraq, Iowa and Comic-Con

1) The northern Twin Cities suburb of Lino Lakes last night passed a resolution making English the city’s official language. The measure bars the local government from translating official city actions and documents into other languages, and as MPR’s Laura Yuen reports, several people in attendance were not happy about the measure:

“You all scare me. It’s like Nazi Germany. I’m scared, really,” said Dora Salazar-Rolfzen addressing the council.

Salazar-Rolfzen asked the council if she would be arrested if caught speaking Spanish to her children. She had several outbursts during the night and was eventually escorted out by police.

However, the story also reports that in the community of Brown County, Wis., which includes Green Bay, the adoption of English as the “official language of the government” had almost no impact on the way the city was run.

What do you say? Is the measure over-the-top or simply a misunderstanding of what the measure says?

2) Simultaneously heroic and disheartening, a report from the New York Times describes a rising trend of insurgents holding up blood banks to steal blood for their wounded soldiers.

The Iraqi security force members that guard medical facilities have often stood idly by as the armed robberies take place, according to workers. This has reinforced doubts about Iraq’s ability to take on even a diminished insurgency as the United States continues to reduce its troops in the country.

Instead, I would argue that the U.S. would (and probably has) done the exact same thing. On the battlefield, in the middle of a foreign country, medical assistance isn’t always immediately available. If there’s a blood bank nearby and one of your comrades needs help, I trust that American soldiers would do anything to save him or her.

A man who claims to be a Qaeda fighter, who identified himself with the nom de guerre of Abu Mustafa al-Mejmai, said insurgents has been compelled to steal blood due to military pressure from American and Iraqi forces. The insurgents, he said, had also established their own clinics staffed by doctors and nurses.

“During the great jihad battles we were wounded severely,” he said. “Therefore we tried to be self-reliant to prevent the mujahedeen from falling into the hands of the invaders.”

The New York Times article not only has quotes from an al-Qaeda fighter, but also unbelievable stories of police and insurgents conflicting over blood supplies. The war continues, this time in the hospital beds.

3) Don’t stand, don’t stand, don’t stand so close to me.

I mean, when you’re at a comic conference, you probably are going to be on edge anyway… crazy events, those Comic-Cons.

4) After some crazy weather in the midwest (again — we should be used to this by now), a dam has broken in Iowa. There is raw video out now of the gushing waters:

Rising waters washed out the berm, and large chunks of the road on the dam broke off. “It just peeled off eight-foot sections and dumped them,” said Shirley Helmrichs, the Delaware County supervisor. “The light poles started falling like match sticks; they just started snapping over. You could hear this crunching, this rumbling. It was like the dam was just growling.”

Here’s to hoping that our weather won’t reflect that of Illinois and Iowa. Oh, thanks Paul Huttner!

5) And now, if you woke up on the very bad side of the bed, check out this article from Lifehacker.

The statistics show that people who believe in bad luck will have more accidents on Friday the 13th. Those who have a negative attitude are more likely to endow normal little mishaps with some mystical significance. Some psychologists even suggest that it’s a way of subconsciously avoiding responsibility for our actions.

The age-old “keep-your-chin-up” attitude wins again. So let this be a lesson to ya!

  • The Lino Lakes resolution, with its exceptions, and the inability of the council to actually say how much money this resolution supposedly saves…well, Bob, it smells to me of nativism.

    Ugly Navitism, at that.

    Hey, Bob…do you know if Braille is considered another language under this ordinance?

  • Greg

    This is a token resolution to appease a base of voters that are overly worried about inconsequential things.

    I await another resolution to demand an official copy of president Obama’s birth certificate…

  • Alison

    Of course it won’t have any day to day effect on city government in Lino Lakes, as was stated by the council member MPR interviewed. The real effect is to cause me and others to avoid Lino Lakes since it appears to occupied by small-minded bigots. I particularly liked the part of the MPR report yesterday which pointed out that the North Metro Chamber of Commerce didn’t like the resolution because it would discourage large businesses from locating there.

  • bsimon

    I recall from the MPR story yesterday that lino lakes currently spends zero dollars on translations, which effectively moots the councilman’s argument in favor of the resolution. If I lived there, I’d want to know why he’s wasting time on solving a ‘problem’ that doesn’t exist.

  • Jamison

    I agree that the Lino Lakes resolution will have almost no practical effect.

    I just hate the national reputation that the North Metro is getting as a bastion of ultra-conservative nut-jobs. People around the country look at statements of our politicians from there and question why I live in Minnesota….

  • TJ


    It seems pretty obvious why – the councilman is a small-minded xenophobic jerk pandering to the small-minded xenophobic jerk vote, which apparently is a large constituency in Lino Lakes.

    These are probably the same people who wet their bed at the news that at some point in the next few decades, white people will no longer be a majority in this country. Just pitiful.

  • John P.

    The English-only controversy makes me think of my great-grandfather. He arrived in Minnesota in the 1850’s.

    According to my grandafther, he lived in community of people who spoke only his native tongue, and never learned English. My grandfather grew up speaking only this language, and had a distinct accent until the day he died in the 1970’s

    The community was Bongards, MN, just west of Minneapolis. The language was German.

    Someone in the family still has a WWI vintage sign displaying the American flag . It reminds the good citizens of that community to “Think, Speak, and Live like an American”.

    Immigrants living in close-knit communities and speaking the old language is nothing new.

  • kennedy

    I’m not sure I see the problem here. Our traffic signs are in english and all drivers must be able to understand what they mean. This resolution allows public document to be created and distributed in the most commonly spoken language, and in the language spoken during meetings.

    Public safety and health announcements will be translated to other languages commonly spoken in the community.

    I’m not sure what spurred the resolution, but it doesn’t warrant the various terms for bigotry that have been attached by some.

  • Alison

    But it does warrant those terms, Kennedy. If not bigotry, what is the real motive for this resolution, considering there is no actual financial benefit?

  • TJ

    @kennedy –

    This resolution doesn’t “allow” for that, unless Lino Lakes was unable to publish their public documents in English or speak English in meetings until last night. Somehow, I doubt that it was a mighty struggle for the city to do so.

    As @bsimon noted above, the city doesn’t spend anything on translation services right now, so it’s not solving an economic problem.

    As for reading traffic signs, the city council’s resolution doesn’t do anything to help non-English speakers learn the language. It just ensures that everybody knows that those who aren’t fluent in English can go ahead and be out of the city limits before sunset.

  • Doug Larson

    I agree – in an English speaking country – a law making English the official language should not make much of a difference.

    In fact it seems odd to have to pass such a law – except when the socialy silly (leftest defined politically correct types) sell out their culture to the hate Amcerica first types……Then in such times perhaps laws like these are needed. 🙂

  • Doug Larson

    “But it does warrant those terms, Kennedy. If not bigotry, what is the real motive for this resolution, considering there is no actual financial benefit?”

    Ahhh – now – now small child, name calling is not the way to make for good adult discussion. I mean perhaps there just might be other points of opinion than your very limited own. I think your a little quick to jump the the conclusion of “bigotry”

    Too simple, too easy – life is always more complex

  • ben

    @ Doug – you say no name calling but refer to the person quoted as a ‘small child’ and to those who think English only resolutions are racist as (I paraphrase)’leftist pc types who sell out their culture to America haters’? Wow!

    This resolution is racist. It refuses help for non-English speaking immigrants until they are acculturated. That’s pretty backwards. That’s xenophobia. Life is too complex to expect all Americans to speak the same. Maybe you should to move to AZ.

  • kennedy

    Just because the city didn’t cut staff or spending from current levels doesn’t mean there is no financial benefit. Avoiding future costs is an equally valid justification.

    This resolution does not refuse help for anyone. It may allow Lino Lakes to keep an employee repairing potholes rather than having to replace them with an iterpreter (or the cost of having thousands of documents translated).