Tag Archives | Minnesota

Letter: Support the work of journalists, society’s mirrors

Almost as published in Rivertowns.net (Red Wing Republican Eagle) on june 1, 2020.

Journalism is a dangerous profession. (Warning, very graphic image!) It is the duty of reporters to go where authorities do not want them to be, and where there is danger and disorder. It is their duty to ask questions and report facts that powerful people would prefer not to answer, or have reported. (Sometimes their management backs them up, sometimes not.)

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that 1370 journalists were killed between 1992 and 2020. Many hundreds more were beaten or imprisoned.

Many of us probably want to believe that this doesn’t happen in the U.S. But nationwide protests beginning with police murder of a citizen in Minneapolis have revealed a widespread pattern of attacks on reporters and support staff. (Just do a search on “attacks on reporters.”) Many of these appear to be targeted attacks reflecting “law enforcement” hostility towards the media. Niemanlab.org reports: “As of Monday morning, there had been at least 90 police attacks against U.S. journalists covering the protests.”

On May 29, a CNN reporter in Minneapolis was arrested on camera although his behavior and professionalism appeared impeccable. Later, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized repeatedly and with seeming sincerity. However, attacks on reporters have continued in Minnesota and elsewhere. Has Walz issued any directives to the various police and National Guard forces under his control to respect the constitutional rights of reporters to report? Is he insincere in his statements? Or are the police forces out of effective control of civil authority?

It is of course no secret that one Donald Trump repeatedly attacks journalists individually and the profession of journalism as a whole. Reporting he doesn’t like is “fake news.” The media are the “enemy of the people.” At his press conferences, he shouts and rants in response to embarrassing questions. He incites hate and violence among his followers. And, shamefully, Trump seems to have a significant following among law enforcement personnel. Certainly the head of the Minneapolis police union is a big Trumper. (https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2020/05/minneapolis-police-union-president-kroll-george-floyd-racism/) So part of the problem is Trump’s incitement, but this can’t be the whole story.

Reporters, if they do their work well, hold up mirrors for us to see ourselves as we really are. The racism, injustice, and inhumanity prevailing in the U.S. is not pleasant to see. It feels as if the forces of darkness are trying to break the mirrors.

I’m attaching to this letter an image of a bleeding reporter, Linda Tirado, shot in the eye with a rubber bullet in Minneapolis. It’s horrifying but we need to look at it and think.

Link: https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/5/31/21276013/police-targeted-journalists-covering-george-floyd-protests?fbclid=IwAR3H76q9JGoZugy5_4VI_qpaUSN9gaRojuXBMQX4VreeLtE1gxbcuXYsvFA

Alan Muller

Red Wing, Minnesota

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“Lawsuits Charge that 3M Knew About the Dangers of Its Chemicals”

What it really means when Minnesota’s courts and regulatory agencies service special interests.  Another 3M scandal in which I had some involvement was the expanded burning of hazardous waste at the 3M haz waste incinerator in Cottage Grove.  In that business, the MPCA also acted as a servant of 3M rather than a protector of Minnesotans.  Of course it is generally easy for elected officials, courts, and regulators to stomp on individuals and small businesses.  The real test of integrity is how they behave when confronted with powerful special interests such as 3M, Xcel energy, or US Steel.   From what I can see the record is pretty bad, with Attorney General Lori Swanson looking better than some others.

https://theintercept.com/2016/04/11/lawsuits-charge-that-3m-knew-about-the-dangers-of-pfcs/

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Un-plastic-bagging Minneapolis and Minnesota

Discouraging single-use (“carryout”) plastic shopping bags is increasingly common around the world, for rather obvious reasons.

Reducing combustible trash helps fight garbage incineration!

According to the new media outlet MinnyApple (http://www.minnyapple.com/2016/03/18/plastic/#comment-1457):

“Minnesotans throw away 87,000 tons of plastic bags every year. Less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled nationally. Plastic bags frequently clog machinery at single-sort recycling facilities. Some plastic bags end up as litter in our environment, breaking down into smaller pieces of plastic, that leech chemicals into soil and water. In Minneapolis, most plastic bags that are thrown away end up in the downtown incinerator.”

Plastic bags are mostly made out of polyethylene which is mostly made out of natural gas (background on PE here: http://www.britannica.com/science/polyethylene )

So it is not surprising that may powerful interests are lobbying against this change–oil and gas people, plastics manufacturers, and especially the mega-evil Grocery Manufacturers Association (also a big opponent of GMO labeling).

One important reason for change is to keep plastic bags and other combustible stuff out of garbage incinerators.  Burning plastic is just burning petroleum-once-removed and contributes to air pollution and climate change.  And the burners need the “heat value” of the plastic,   So one may expect Minnesota’s politically powerful garbage incinerator industry to be against limiting plastic bags.  Note that 87,000 tons above!

Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon, Chair of the Health, Environment & Community Engagement Committee of the Council, has scheduled a public hearing for 1:30 on March 21,2016 on a draft ordinance.

“Carry out bags in retail establishments” ordinance (Bring your own bag) http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMSP-175529

This ordinance was first announced to the City Council on August 7, 2016 (procedural history here: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/legislation/WCMS1Q-079203 )

Only two of the 13 council members (Gordon, Ward 2 and Warsame, Ward 6) are listed as sponsors of this ordinance, in spite of it’s no-brainer nature. Where are the other 11 council members???? (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/council/)

A cynic could suggest that the Council leadership has assigned the areas it doesn’t really care much about (Health, Environment & Community Engagement ) to its most greenie-weenie member, a sort of ghetto of the most important, to be ignored as much as possible.

Regardless, Cam Gordon deserves support on this good-for-the-public-interest ordinance:

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Public hearing at1:30 on March 21,2016 (agenda Item #1, http://www.minneapolismn.gov/meetings/hece/WCMSP-175147 )

“How to have your voice heard:” http://www.minneapolismn.gov/council/engage/WCMS1Q-074472

You can email all Council Members with one group email address:

citycouncilmembers@minneapolismn.gov

Individual contact info below:

“Ward office keep tally sheets on policy proposals, controversial topics, and other matters that are then provided to the Council Member. Aides generally lump calls into “pro” and “con” categories, giving their Council Member an instant poll on a particular topic.”

Ward Council Member Phone

1Kevin Reich(612) 673-2201
2Cam Gordon(612) 673-2202
3Jacob Frey(612) 673-2203
4Barbara A. Johnson(612) 673-2204
5Blong Yang(612) 673-2205
6Abdi Warsame(612) 673-2206
7Lisa Goodman(612) 673-2207
8Elizabeth Glidden(612) 673-2208
9Alondra Cano(612) 673-2209
10Lisa Bender(612) 673-2210
11John Quincy(612) 673-2211
12Andrew Johnson(612) 673-2212
13Linea Palmisano(612) 673-2213

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For those not connected to Minneapolis, please use Gordon’s ordinance as a model for similar action from YOUR local government and from you state Senator and Representative.

So, speak up!

Alan Muller

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