Backing off on biodiesel?

December 24th, 2005

Hey Mike — what’s up with the biodiesel? The headlines say there’s trouble, and I can just hear my old boss, Craig Bongard, Bongard Trucking in Farmington, yammering about biodiesel, we went at it a few times about it, and I can hear him hollering about this. Makes me wonder what the fuss is about. Here it is, just after the first cold snap — is this just happening in trucks without tank heaters??? I’ve got to admit, when it’s cold out, I don’t miss driving…

In the Strib:

Sputtering trucks lead state to life fuel rule

And in the St.PPP:

State biodiesel law on hold

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My truck over Xmas week 1988, or was it ’87, taken at the Magic Wand in Vegas…

Domestic Spying – MORE revealed

December 23rd, 2005

Yes, it gets worse. Let me see if I understand this — the government is monitoring Muslim gathering spots for radiation, ranging from mosques to homes, and this is the same government that refuses to monitor the Prairie Island Indian Reservation, next to the operating Prairie Island Nuclear Generationg Plant, for radiation. And U.S. News & World Report is the one that broke the story? This is just to weird…

Exclusive from U.S. News & World Report: Nuclear monitoring of Muslims done without search warrants

In Washington, the sites monitored have included prominent mosques and office buildings in suburban Maryland and Virginia. One source close to the program said that participants “were tasked on a daily and nightly basis,” and that FBI and Energy Department officials held regular meetings to update the monitoring list. “The targets were almost all U.S. citizens,” says the source. “A lot of us thought it was questionable, but people who complained nearly lost their jobs. We were told it was perfectly legal.”

The question of search warrants is controversial, however. To ensure accurate readings, in up to 15 percent of the cases the monitoring needed to take place on private property, sources say, such as on mosque parking lots and private driveways. Government officials familiar with the program insist it is legal; warrants are unneeded for monitoring from public property, they say, as well as from publicly accessible driveways and parking lots. “If a delivery man can access it, so can we,” says one.

St.PPP: FBI official defends radiation monitoring

This is from the L.A. Times:

Domestic Spying on Muslims Discovered

“All Americans should be concerned about the apparent trend toward a two-tiered system of justice, with full rights for most citizens and another diminished set for Muslims,” said Nihad Award, an official of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties group.

Nihad Awad

What have they been monitoring?

Roehrkasse and other federal law enforcement officials said the agents had targeted mosques, warehouses, businesses and some homes in and near several of the nation’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Chicago.

The monitoring program was also used near other potential targets, including the 2004 political conventions and the Group of Eight summit of the leading industrial democracies that year, in Georgia.

“The FBI believes it has the legal authority,” the official said. “A parking lot or a driveway is not necessarily private property, and our equipment is not intrusive.”

But Awad and other Muslim leaders at the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said the monitoring fit a pattern of spying on U.S. citizens without first obtaining a court warrant.

“This disturbing revelation,” Awad said, “coupled with recent reports of domestic surveillance without warrant, could lead to the perception that we are no longer a nation ruled by law but instead one in which fear trumps constitutional rights.”

Just last week, British government sponsored Muslim leaders were detained without explanation while on their way to a Conference in L.A.

British Muslim leader held at LAX by DHS

“Explanations about the delay of our two British guests, who were sponsored by the British government to speak at the MPAC Convention, have not been satisfactory,” said Maher Hathout, MPAC Senior Adviser. “This and other similar situations are severely damaging the civil rights departments of the US government and the potential for cooperation between grassroots communities and the US government.”

Muslim conference frustrated by airport security

Muslim leaders who gathered Saturday to discuss their role in combatting extremism within the Islamic community complained that two scheduled speakers missed the event after being detained at Los Angeles International Airport.

â??People are upset,â? said Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which organized the conference. â??On one hand the U.S. government is asking us to do more, but on the other they are preventing us from doing our work.â?

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Salam Al-Marayati

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Security poster from U.S. Army Space and Missle Defense Command/U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command

Bush in a tailspin

December 23rd, 2005

Hard to tell what’s worse, that he did it, or that he admits it. Who is writing his scripts these days?

Here’s MSN’s poll:

Do you believe President Bush’s actions justify impeachment?

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We know what he thinks of “the people” and Congress and the Constitution!


Bush in a tailspin, going down in flames. It’s only a matter of time…

Good — we’re getting solid proof that people are just not going to take this inflammatory and divisive path, they’re not accepting false and misleading information and they will not be diverted from the important issues by nonsense. It ain’t gonna work, so stop it already…

Validity of immigrant report questioned

First the STrib. Here’s a couple quotes from the folks who were consulted for information and what they think about how their information was used. First Tom Gillaspy:


State Demographer Tom Gillaspy, whose office tracks immigration, said he was “out of the loop” when it was prepared and added that it’s not possible to be as precise about these numbers as the report makes it seem.

His office’s specialist on international immigration has said that she believes the number is far lower than 85,000 — that perhaps there’s only one-third that many undocumented immigrants in the state.

If you recall, Gillaspy spoke here in Northfield at the Grand last month.

And Jeff Passell, a demographer at the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C., and a primary expert relied on for the report has concerns:

Passell said he has concerns about the Pawlenty administration’s accounting of costs, something based on the number of immigrants believed to be in the state.

“Invariably the implication of these studies is that you’re spending X amount more than you would have if they weren’t here,” Passell said, “and that statement I consider completely invalid.”

In the St. PPP:

Pawlenty immigration report ignites firestorm

Here’s Mike Hatch’s take:

Meanwhile, Attorney General Mike Hatch, a DFL candidate for governor, charged that the Pawlenty administration has exacerbated the illegal immigration problem. He said he has received repeated complaints that the Department of Labor and Industry has failed to enforce labor, occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation laws at businesses that hire illegal immigrants. He also has heard complaints that the Revenue Department isn’t investigating allegations that those employers are failing to pay payroll taxes.

As a result of the lax enforcement, middle-class Minnesotans have lost their jobs to lower-paid undocumented immigrants, Hatch said.


…telling Pawlenty what to do with the report perhaps?

And this one from City Pages in July, 2004, quotes the comments of Angel Morales at a dinner honoring Fox when he was here and visited Pawlenty — trashing immigrants is nothing new for Pawlenty: Pawlenty, Fox and an elephant in the room:

“There is an elephant in this room that must be acknowledged,” he said. “The majority of recent Mexican immigrants to this state–the very same immigrants who are responsible for the positive economic impacts we all acknowledge–are undocumented.” After praising the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul for passing ordinances that allow immigrants to obtain driverâ??s licenses with a permit from the Mexican consulate as their identification, Morales noted that “our state leaders have not taken this same common-sense approach.” He then cited the efforts of Pawlenty and state officials to label undocumented immigrants as “possible terrorists.” Calling Pawlenty out by name, Morales hoped the governor would “recognize all immigrants not just in terms of dollars, but also in terms of basic human dignity.

‘What’s a Tax, what’s a Fee’ game costly from the Mesabi News in Virginia.


Yesterday, Ray’s cigarette tax went down in flames when a court ruled it violated the tobacco settlement:

Ramsey County judge strikes down tobacco fee

Judge strikes down cigarette fee, leaving a potentially large hole in the state budget

Here’s what Ray has to say:

Health Impact Fee