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NEWS DAY | RIP Officer Duy Ngo / Nurses’ warnings / Helen Thomas / Paying Afghan bad guys
Officer Duy Ngo committed suicide June 7, seven years after he was shot repeatedly by a fellow officer. In a sorrowful and angry column, MPR's Bob Collins recalls the shameful history of the Minneapolis Police Department's treatment of Officer Ngo:
Ngo was shot by another cop one night while working undercover. Subsequently, a police chief apologized to him, but the department seemed intent on making sure he knew he was no longer wanted. After he was shot, the police chief didn't visit him in the hospital. The mayor didn't visit him, and rumors began circulating about him.
The city eventually agreed to a $4.5 million settlement, though nothing could repair the damage done to Ngo's body by the MP5 submachine gun, or to his spirit by the rejection of his own department and fellow officers:
At a subsequent fundraiser to help pay his medical bills (the city paid nothing), the mayor of St. Paul showed up, officers from other metro departments showed up, officers from rural Minnesota showed up. But only one official from the Minneapolis police department attended.
Minnesota nurses are telling stories of dangerous understaffing in area hospitals, underlining their demands for contract provisions that ensure staffing levels as the Thursday strike date approaches. The Star Tribune reported on nurses' stories of understaffing, and on hospitals' dismissal of "anecdotal" criticism. Among the "anecdotes" on the Minnesota Nurses Association website:
"Two victims in this story. I know a nurse who worked nights at North Memorial Hospital. Her patient was admitted with a stroke. During the night she had another admission to do, and missed a neurology check on the other one because she didn't have any staff to help her. The stroke was evolving and she missed it because she was doing paperwork for the new patient. The family filed a complaint and a lawsuit, the nurse was disciplined, and she left our unit. She later committed suicide."
MNA says Twin Cities nurses file an average of 1,200 "unsafe staffing" reports yearly:
But because these complaints continually fall upon deaf ears with hospital management, thousands more incidents are never reported, according to Olson.
"I've actually seen a manager tear up one of these complaints in front of a nurse to intimidate her," Olson said. "We file these complaints, they get sent to committees, and nothing changes."
White House correspondent Helen Thomas apologized and resigned June 7, after a video interview showed her saying that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine." Thomas, age 89, had started covering the White House during the Kennedy administration. BBC describes her career:
The unofficial dean of the White House press corps, Thomas worked for United Press International (UPI) for 57 years.
She left UPI after it was bought out by a company owned by Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, whose adherents are known colloquially as Moonies.
She described the acquisition as a "bridge too far" and soon took up her most recent position as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers.
Thomas was interviewed by Rabbi David F. Nesenoff, whose website is called RabbiLive, on the White House lawn on American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day May 27. Nesenoff posted the FlipCam video on YouTube June 3, and it went viral, with more than a million views. He promises Part 2 of the video later in the week. The transcript of the current video:
RabbiLive: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today. Any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine
RabbiLive: Ooh. Any better comments?
Thomas: Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land, not German, not Polish.
RabbiLive: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: They can go home.
RabbiLive: Where's home?
Thomas: Poland. Germany.
RabbiLive: You're saying Jews should go back to Poland and Germany.
Thomas: And, and America and everywhere else
The U.S. is paying both sides in the Afghan war, according to a NATO official quoted in a June 6 New York Times exposé. After allegations that the two biggest security firms - Watan Risk Management and Compass Security - were paying off the Taliban to ensure safe passage of convoys, they were banned from escorting NATO convoys:
The ban took effect on May 14. At 10:30 a.m. that day, a NATO supply convoy rolling through the area came under attack. An Afghan driver and a soldier were killed, and a truck was overturned and burned. Within two weeks, with more than 1,000 trucks sitting stalled on the highway, the Afghan government granted Watan and Compass permission to resume. ... [U.S.] officials suspect that the security companies may also engage in fake fighting to increase the sense of risk on the roads, and that they may sometimes stage attacks against competitors.
Watan and Compass are tied to or owned by relatives of President Hamid Karzai. Security firms - registered and unregistered - are accused of abuses of power, including attacks on civilian villages. The Times reports that 24,000 gunmen are employed by the 52 government-registered security companies, but that "many, if not most, of the security companies are not registered at all, do not advertise themselves and do not necessarily restrain their gunmen with training or rules of engagement. Some appear to be little more than gangs with guns."