5 x 8: Crooks on camera


Yesterday’s hearing in New Jersey during which Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and his brother were ordered to come up with $85 million to pay off the business partners they cheated has a lesson for Minnesota unrelated to the one about choosing your stadium partners carefully. It’s past time for judges in Minnesota to stop banning cameras and microphone in the lower courtrooms.

Sure, reporters can still take their quill pens and sketch artists with them and pretend it’s the 1800s as they’re required to do now, but it’s 2013 now.

What’s the difference? “The Wilfs didn’t just take a little extra money. They robbed their partners!” the judge said yesterday. Now watch her say it in this WCCO story:


It was a day-long hearing in which those watching — nobody in Minnesota, of course — could have learned more about the people to whom we’re turning over a portion of the state’s treasury.

Technically, Minnesota does allow cameras in the courtroom, and there’s been a pilot project underway to test cameras in civil cases. But, overall, cameras in Minnesota courts depend on judges giving their permission. At least with criminal cases, judges rarely give their permission.

The Star Tribune’s Chao Xiong tried to follow the rules and get a sympathetic judge to allow electronic coverage of the Trevino trial. Xiong got blocked.

Chao Xiong via Twitter.

I first wrote about this on NewsCut five years ago, when Minnesota was one of just 15 states that, for practical purposes, closed its courtrooms. There was hope that the state would put the O.J. Simpson trial behind it and move on, but it hasn’t happened.

“To be honest with you, I think there are lawyers and judges who historically haven’t liked the media,” said Kevin Burke, Hennepin County District Court judge and former chief judge for the county, told WCCO’s Jason DeRusha when he tackled the issue last year.

Coincidentally, Burke turns his attention to the U.S. Supreme Court in a MinnPost commentary today:

Even if more people read Supreme Court commentators like Linda Greenhouse, the fact is large segments of our society distrust the media just as much as they distrust government institutions. The public today distrusts what it cannot observe. This is a democracy. It is time to televise Unites States Supreme Court proceedings.

But start small. Minnesota.

Related stadium: Ruben Rosario: Stadium contract isn’t final, so let’s get a better deal (TwinCities).


A new study finds that married cancer patients are 20 percent more likely to survive their disease than people who are not married, according to NBC. Why? Because a spouse will nag you to keep appointments and take your medicines, the study says.


The Star Tribune has the story today of David Jensen, who pulled his SUV off onto the shoulder of a North Dakota highway to send a text when he was hit by another car (note: it’s still illegal to text in Minnesota if you do this).

For a solution to this problem, we can turn to New York where the governor has unveiled “texting zones” on the New York State Thruway.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Brilliant. Because people aren’t going to stop texting. We’re afraid to be alone in our cars, as Louis CK’s new viral video explained.


More evidence of the local connection with the Nairobi mall massacre. Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed tells PBS NewsHour that some of the attackers were Americans.

“The Americans, from the information we have, are young men, about between maybe 18 and 19,” according to Mohamed. “Of Somali origin or Arab origin, but that lived in the U.S., in Minnesota and one other place. So, basically, look, that just was to underline, I think, the global nature of this war that we’re fighting.”

Related: The Militant Group Behind the Kenya Mall Attack Is Live-Tweeting the Massacre (Slate).


Recent stories have suggested that Facebook users are pulling the plug on their accounts in a sudden pushback against their loss of privacy. Quitters were more likely to be male and older, the survey said.

It’s probably not really happening
, though, Scientific American blogger Krystal D’Costa.

The data also overlooks two significant points: age of the quitters versus users and the average number of connections for each group. Data from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that people are very concerned about privacy online and that young adults (ages 18-29) are more likely to take steps to be less visible online, including clearing cookies, curating posts, and using temporary email addresses.

Furthermore, people with larger networks may be less likely to let those networks go. Instead, they may adopt strategies to better manage the ways in which they share information (such as not accepting invitations to play Candy Crush Saga or granting other third party apps information they’d rather not share).

Facebook and other social networking sites remain important to the ways we connect and manage relationships in our increasingly digital world. It would be interesting to see how many of these account actually remained closed and how many were reopened with revised management strategies.

While this study does raise touch upon an important consideration—the ways in which a growing awareness of privacy and data management may guide our online activities—it may be a stretch to cry “virtual suicide”.

Bonus I: On his 90th birthday, World War II vet looks back. This is a fine story. (The Northwoods River News – Rhinelander). h/t: Wendy Wulff.

Bonus II: A couple canceled the wedding days before it was to be held. The parents were faced with a venue, food and entertainment that had all been paid for. So they threw a party for the homeless.

Are you concerned that the government will shut down?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: The Minnesota estate tax.

Second hour: Bird migration and climate change.

Third hour: Talking Volumes with Stacy Schiff (rebroadcast).

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Dr. Gary Slutkin, speaking at the Mayo Clinic “Transform 2013” symposium. He says violence is a health problem: like infectious diseases, violence is contagious and can be treated.

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Was the international community lulled into a sense of false security about the Al Shabab militant group because of some perceived military setbacks on the ground in Somalia and elsewhere in East Africa?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – When the Buena Vista Social Club album was released in the late ’90s, it rescued from relative obscurity some of the elderly Cuban performers featured on the album. Indeed, they launched new international careers performing traditional Cuban songs from the 1930s to ’50s.

The band, which performs Wednesday in Burnsville, has lost some of its premier performers in singers Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer, pianist Ruben Gonzalez and bassist Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez. But it is still going strong, infused with young replacements who love. Singer Omara Portuondo says the bands renditions of Cuban “son” – with its songs of joy and sadness, still inspire. MPR’s David Cazares will have the story.