The threat of a well-informed citizenry, the great Minneapolis parking debate, raw milk showdown, is there some right to go really fast, and veterans are still killing themselves.
The Obama administration has been pretty good at deflecting most criticism coming its way. Sending the IRS on the trail of the Tea Party? It’s happened before. But looking up and seizing the phone records of reporters? That’s just about enough for the Associated Press.
The AP reports that the Department of Justice secretly seized the phone records of its reporters and editors for last April and May.
The government would not say why it seized the records, the AP says:
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
The government would not say why it sought the records. Officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have provided information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qaida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
It’s unlikely spying on reporters is going to bother a lot of politicians. It probably won’t bother a lot of other people, either.
What would cause a free country to start spying on journalists? This story.
The CIA had thwarted a plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to destroy a US-bound airliner. It used a new bomb device, an upgrade of the “underwear bomb” that had been used on a Northwest airliner over Detroit in 2009.
Here’s what’s particular interesting about that story. The AP agreed to the Obama administration’s request not to tell it:
The AP delayed reporting the story at the request of government officials who said it would jeopardize national security. Once officials said those concerns were allayed, the AP disclosed the plot, though the Obama administration continued to request that the story be held until the administration could make an official announcement.
That’ll teach ’em.
At Streets.mn, Chris Iverson rises to defend Minneapolis’ on-street parking pricing system which increases the rates when there’s a big event — a Vikings game, for example.
It’s in response to a MinnPost article which claimed the zones in which the on-street parking rates are in effect are not well marked and not announced:
Beyond posting maps and information on its website, the city did a poor job getting the word out about these districts. Searching the Star Tribune website turned up nothing about them. Although Minneapolis parking engineer Tim Drew remembers doing television interviews, he said, “People just don’t watch the news, or don’t pay that kind of attention to it.”
A Minneapolis spokesman said the city’s parking ticket database can’t distinguish between event rate violations and simple expired meters, making it difficult to tell how many drivers were snagged by the changes.
It’s easier to distinguish along Fourth Avenue, since meters are only in effect when the Vikings play. There, on four Vikings playing dates, traffic officers wrote 74 tickets according to city records — 33 on Sept. 23, nine on Oct. 7, 25 on Oct. 21 and seven on Dec. 30. Each citation carries a $42 fine, of which $24 goes to the city (that’s a patriotic $1,776 into city coffers) and the rest split between Hennepin County and the state.
The city did not release information on the four other playing dates, three Sunday afternoons and one Thursday night.
The article also objected to the cost to park on the street during events — $15.
I’m sorry, but I don’t really see a huge problem in this. The author made it seem like a big deal that you have to pay that much to park on the street, but it is still some of the cheapest parking around for game days. Last summer, my fellow interns and I did a short walking survey of the surrounding surface lots, and found that most lots within 3 blocks of the stadium charged $20 or more to park. Although on-street slots aren’t the same steal as before (The old meters charged $1/hour in all of Zone 2), they still are a good price.
Also, the $15 rate was also a compromise for fans wanting to linger the streets and bars after the games. As Tim Drew said in the article, “It gets you all the way until the next morning… We got a lot of feedback from fans who wanted to do something after the game, or were worried they might get stuck if the game ran late.” This is EXACTLY what Downtown East and Elliot Park needs – lingering fans wanting to check out the businesses before and after football. Before the new smart meters, all Zone 2 meters had 8-hour limits, so fans could not spend nearly as much time going around to different dining establishments. The $15 event rate lasts you all day, so you don’t have to worry about refilling the meter.
The latest stand in the ongoing controversy over the sale of raw milk is about to take place over in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
“Do citizens have a right to contract with a producer and grow food to their own standards? That is what is at stake in this case,” according to Kimberly Hartke of the Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger is charged with four criminal misdemeanors for selling raw milk. He’s an Amish farmer who operates an organic farm.
Says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The Hershberger case has become a rallying point for the raw milk movement nationwide, with supporters hoping that an acquittal could help other farmers who have run into trouble for distributing unpasteurized dairy products to the public.
The trial begins Monday and is expected to last four or five days. Hershberger’s supporters have rented the Al Ringling Theater, across the street from the courthouse, to monitor the proceedings and stage a raw-milk rally.
Supporters from California, Maine, Vermont, Michigan and other states are expected to attend. Guest speakers at the rally include Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party’s 2004 presidential candidate.
“Everybody realizes this case is pretty significant,” said Gayle Loiselle, a raw-milk advocate from Dousman.
“It starts with Vernon having the strength to stand up to state government. A lot of other farmers have just caved and said they would stop selling raw milk. He is fighting back and is getting support at a national level,” she added.
State officials have said the case against Hershberger is about licensing rather than the safety or benefits of raw milk. For months, mostly in 2010, they tried to stop the former Amish farmer from distributing raw milk products at his 40-cow dairy farm.
The subtext of the WCCO story last night is that if police are writing speeding tickets, there’s something wrong with that department.
If only there were a way for a motorist not to get a speeding ticket.
Anytime they want to start cracking down on drivers running red lights, it’ll be fine with me.
In beautiful Great Barrington, Massachusetts — where I worked before moving to Minnesota many years ago — U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Edward S. Passetto hiked to the top of Monument Mountain and threw himself off.
He returned home to the Berkshires in 2011 after saving two men, pulling them out of a burning helicopter. He’d been medically discharged and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
But he died, apparently, because of his own country, which turned its back on him, the Berkshire Eagle reports:
Coincidentally, in Sunday’s print edition — which goes to press on Saturday night — The Eagle published a letter Passetto had sent to the newspaper on May 7. In the letter, Passetto wrote about the importance of veterans, Memorial Day, the media’s lack of focus on the war and veterans issues, and called for changes to “the waiting game” with the VA.
“I am a proud veteran who has served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was medically discharged from active duty in 2011,” Passetto wrote. “I returned home, and no one noticed. So I went on with my life, filed my papers with the Veterans Administration [sic] and started the waiting game. The same waiting game hundreds of Berkshire County veterans are struggling through along with millions of vets across America.”
Passetto called on the county to “come together and write our congressmen, our senators, to push for the change needed to help every veteran who comes home and the families of those who do not. I feel ashamed at times to be an American who has given seven years of my life to a country that cannot even give five minutes of theirs.”
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported the VA postponed purchases of cardiac monitors, radiological equipment and pain-medication pumps for patients last year. It didn’t replace old surgical tools, oxygen-delivery systems or deteriorating operating-room stretchers. It didn’t spend more than $750 million it had been authorized to spend.
Bonus: First interview with the police officer shot in the Boston Marathon shootout.
Gov. Mark Dayton will sign legislation that legalizes same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The bill signing comes after two years of debate, at times polarizing, across the state. Today’s Question: How can civility be improved between supporters and opponents of same sex marriage?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Medical roundtable: W
Why are hospital bills so high?
Second hour: Non-profits roundtable: What makes a successful non-profit?
Third hour: Women roundtable: Has the push for women’s equality, as Sandberg argues, really stalled?
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): “Living a Low-Carbon Life.” A panel discussion from the Commonwealth Club.
Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The paucity of homes for sale has given rise to what’s known in the real estate trade as “sleeving.” Rather than adding a home that’s for sale to the Multiple Listing Service, an agent will peddle the home privately to select buyers or to other agents in the same brokerage. Critics say this puts agents in a financial conflict of interest with the sellers they’re representing because it can result in a lower sale price. Agents who do it say it reduces the time and hassle involved in selling a home. MPR’s Annie Baxter will have the story.