March 2011 Archives

By Calvin Swanson:

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill Wednesday that will cut spending on health programs, which could save the state $1.6 million over the next two years.

The bill passed 37-26 in the Senate, according to a Minneapolis Star Tribune article. The bill is heavily favored by Senate Republicans and is part of their solution to reduce the state's $5 billion deficit.

If passed, the bill could hurt smaller programs such as Meals on Wheels, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The bill would also prohibit state financing on the federal health care overhaul, according to the Star Tribune.

Republicans have created the bill in order to prevent raising taxes in Minnesota, while Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton insists on less cuts and raising taxes.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press also reported the Senate has passed another cost-cutting bill Wednesday that will ultimately freeze government work pay, deeply affect employee health insurance and cut budgets for Minnesota agencies.

The Star Tribune did not report on the second bill.

Baseball statistician, Minn. native dies at age 83

Calvin Swanson

Glenn "Gos" Gostick's love surrounded the game of baseball. The man who is known for his pen-and-paper stat-keeping skills died after a heart attack last week at the age of 83.

Gostick is a University of Minnesota graduate and a north Minneapolis native until 2009, according to the Pioneer Press. He was heavily involved in the game of baseball as he worked for the Minnesota Twins, worked as a trainer, umpired college, high school and amateur baseball.

Gostick's most prominent legacy may be what he can do with a pen and paper. As he became the Twin's scorekeeper in 1980, Gostick became not only a great stat keeper but he gained the ability to analyze baseball players and make firm judgments of their value to the game, according to the Star Tribune. He had the ability to look beyond the players' numbers and sense their intangibles and what they brought to the game.

The Star Tribune reported more information about Gostick's life away from the stat desk. He is a lifelong bachelor who owned not a single computer despite being an avid stat keeper. A man who may have bode well in the 1800s, Gostick did not have running water his north Minneapolis home; he showered at the local hockey rink.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported his career rather than his professional life. "He was a walking encyclopedia of baseball trivia and published a book on high school coaching."

First female vice president nominee dies at age 75

By: Calvin Swanson

Geraldine A. Ferraro, the first women nominated for national office by a major party, died Saturday in Boston.

Ferraro, 75, died because of multiple myeloma, a blood disease she had been fighting for 12 years, according to a N.Y. Times article.
Ferraro ran for vice president with Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale in 1984 against President Ronald Reagan. Reagan went on to win the 1984 election in a landslide, according to the N.Y. Times.

Despite Mondale's and Ferraro's dismantling in the 1984 election, Ferraro's attempt at a vice presidential bid opened the door to a trend of women in politics. Her breakthrough progress helped Hillary Clinton's presidential bid in 2008 and Sarah Palin's vice presidential bid the same year, according to an AP report found on the Star Tribune website.

The AP report is substantially written about the controversy surounding Ferraro, such as her feud with Barbara Bush, her support of abortion and her comments about then presidential candidate Barrack Obama, saying that he is prominent because he is black.

The N.Y. Times articles talks about her rise into the political world.

Movie icon Elizabeth Taylor passes away at age 79

Elizabeth Taylor, an actress known for her stunning beauty, died Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 79.

Ms. Taylor's cause of death was from congestive heart failure, according to a N.Y. Times article. She has had several medical conditions the past couple of years and was hospitalized six weeks ago due to heart problems.

Ms. Taylor was most well-known for her acting, her gorgeous figure and her two Academy awards. But her involvement in the fight against AIDS, her eight marriages and several near-death experiences also made her an iconic figure in popular culture.

Stardom and glamour tie-in well with Ms.Taylor's image, but popularity is her biggest credential. She played in more than 60 films throughout the years and won two Oscars for best actress, a Washington Post article reported. She appeared on the cover of People's magazine more than 25 times and Life Magazine 14 times, more than any other film star.

The N.Y. Times article was written by William McDonald before he passed away in 2005. William Grimes and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed to updating the report. The Washington Post article was written after Ms. Taylor passed away.

U grad students to redesign Nicollet Mall

Twenty University of Minnesota graduate architecture students are spending a week redesigning Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis.

The students are working on their "Catalyst project" through Friday at the IDS Center's Crystal Court in Minneapolis, according to a Star Tribune story. The project is part of the College of Design's School of Architecture.

The goal of the project is to do something different and improve the mall by redesigning it completely, giving it new life, The Minnesota Daily reported. The students will present their plans to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and the city council.

The Star Tribune stated that government members of Minneapolis plan to attend the workshops to provide feedback to the students.

The graduate students project is all part of a Minneapolis redesign plan, which focuses on the vision of what downtown Minneapolis should shape up to be in 15 years, according to The Minnesota Daily.

Earthquake and tsunami devastates Japan

A record setting 8.9 earthquake struck Japan Friday, igniting a tsunami that washed over parts of northern Japan leaving an expected death toll of more than 1,000.

The earthquake, largest in Japan's recorded history, has left thousands of homes destroyed and has made roads impassable, The N.Y. Times reported. There are 184 confirmed deaths and more than 700 missing; the death toll is expected to exceed 1,000, according to Japanese police officials.

The Japanes military has assembled thousands of troops, hundreds of planes and dozens of ships in response to the disaster, according to a BBC article. Large relief operations have begun.

Safety concerns have sprung 170 miles northeast of Tokoyo, where Japan's government has evacuated thousands of people within a six mile radius of a power plant, according to the N.Y. Times. A Japanese nuclear safety panel has confirmed the earthquake has damaged the plant's cooling system, and radiation has escaped the plant's walls.

BBC reported the port city of Sendai, in Miyagi prefecture, was one of the most devastated areas hit by the quake. Roughly 300 bodies have been recovered in one ward alone.

The NFL players union and NFL owners failed to reach an new Collective Bargaining Agreement before Friday's deadline, and now a lockout is almost certain.

The NFL Players Association decertified shortly after the two sides could not come together. Decertification allows the union to sue the NFL under anti-trust laws if the owners decide to lockout the players, according to an article.

Owners are expected to lock out players Saturday, according to a N.Y. Times article, which prevents players from participating in team work outs. Prominent stars such as Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have filed antitrust lawsuits against the NFL, according to ESPN.

The NFL players union and owners have been negotiating with a federal mediator for 16 session and have extended the deadline twice, but still could not agree on how to split revenue, according the N.Y. Times.

ESPN reports the union would have to wait six months to sue the NFL if they did not decertify.This would ultimately, delay the process even more.

The N.Y. Times reports the owners were unwilling to provide financial information that the union was seeking. Financial information is something the union has been strongly seeking.

By Calvin Swanson

Minnesota GOP lawmakers are expected to make a push for an abortion ban that will prevent women from getting an abortion after 20 weeks; Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton strongly opposes the ban.

The bill was introduced in the Republican controlled House and Senate Monday. Seven other states are introducing similar bills after Nebraska passed a first-in-the-nation abortion ban last year, according to an Associated Press article found on KARE 11's website.

Bill supporters argue fetuses begin feeling pain after 20 weeks, while opponents say there is no conclusive evidence proving its accuracy, the Star Tribune reported. The bill makes an exception to women who may be harmed by carrying a baby to term, but there are no exceptions for rape or incest victims, according to the AP report.

Abortions after 20 weeks are rare and only affected fewer than 2 percent of of 12,386 abortions in Minnesota in 2009, the Star Tribune reported.

Dayton is expected to veto the bill if it is passes through the House and Senate. Lawmakers may attempt to override Dayton's veto but would need support from Democrats in both the House and Senate.

Debit card swipe fees may be lowered

By Calvin Swanson

The U.S senate passed an amendment requiring banks to lower their debit card swipe fees they charge retailers for every debit card transaction from 44 cents to 12 cents.

Banks and debit card companies substantially oppose the amendment and are strongly urging lobbyists and lawmakers to change the law or repeal it, according to a New York Times report. Banks say the cuts will make it difficult to offer debit cards to customers and that customers may have to pay more charges and fees to make up the costs.

Merchants are urging Washington to go through with this law, which faces an April deadline. Merchants lose $20.5 billion annually in profits due to the 44 cent per-transaction swipe fee.

Consumers most likely will not benefit from the retailers' savings because retailers will likely reap the profits, Stamford Advocate reported. The lowering of swipe fees may be detrimental to consumers because of imposing banking fees that would make up for the reduction of the swiping fee.

The Stamford Advocate reports the swipe fees will not produce consumer benefits or job growth; the report emphasizes the effects the fees will have on consumers.

The N.Y. Times reports that small-business owners claim swiping fees are devastating to their operations, while banks claim they depend on the fees to create more services for customers. The N.Y. Times' report is structured around the businesses and banks' perspective about the fees.

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