News Day

NEWS DAY | Debt buyers / Nurses' strike / North Minneapolis shootings

Debt buyers hound, harass, and defraud people who may never have owed a dime to begin with, according to an alarming exposé in the Star Tribune.

Firms with little known names, like LVNV Funding and Unifund CCR Partners, buy massive databases of unpaid debts for cents on the dollar, and then inundate courts with legal actions seeking to collect the full amount, plus interest and fees. These firms, known as debt buyers, base their claims on data up to 15 years old that can be impossible to verify.

The National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group for low-income Americans, estimates that one in 10 debt-buyer lawsuits nationwide is based on inaccurate information. Bank accounts have been tapped, wages seized and people threatened with arrest for debts they don't owe or for inflated amounts.


Gay Pride, G20 and the DNC

This weekend, an anti-gay protester handed out bibles at the Pride Festival in Loring Park in Minneapolis. This weekend the G8/G20 leaders met in Toronto, amid protests, police, violence and arrests. The common thread? Free speech.


Killing unemployment comp extensions - and hope

Republicans in the Senate (joined by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson and Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman) killed the unemployment compensation extension and more last week, claiming that the country can't afford to add to the deficit.


NEWS DAY | Gang database task force / Still no unemployment benefit extension / New Faces in St. Paul

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has named a 20-member panel to study the use of gang databases, reports Politics in Minnesota. The panel includes representatives from a wide range of perspectives, including ACLU, NAACP and police organizations.


NEWS DAY | Deep drilling and Minnesota waters / McChrystal's wars

Sulfide mining is starting in northern Minnesota, reports MPR, and it could turn into our own Deepwater disaster:

A trickle of water runs from a six-inch hole Duluth Metals is drilling some 3,000 feet into the earth, seeping into a pit that holds water and a scum of grey muck, finely ground rock from deep in the earth. Koschak says it probably contains copper and nickel traces.

"But look what it's going into, a wetland," he says.  "That's all this is, is a network of spruce swamps, all interconnected, this all goes into Birch Lake, all this water."


NEWS DAY | "Wimps in the White House" / MN Nurses approve strike / Peter Erlinder is back

"Wimps in the White House?" General Stanley McChrystal has been recalled to Washington "to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes in the piece about his colleagues." The cause: a Rolling Stone profile, "The Runaway General," subtitled "Stanley McChrystal, Obama's Top Commander in Afghanistan, Has Seized Control of the War by Never Taking His Eye Off the Real Enemy: The Wimps In the White House," which is scheduled to appear Friday.


NEWS DAY | Peter Erlinder freed / U.S., Israel, Suez, Lebanon / MSM this weekend

Free on "unconditional bail," Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder is now out of Rwanda and on his way home. Supporters say he will hold a news conference in Kenya on Sunday afternoon.

A fleet of battleships including at least 11 U.S. and one Israeli vessels, crossed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea on Friday, according to Arabic, Israeli, German and Norwegian news media reports. (Strangely, neither BBC nor the mainstream U.S. media are carrying the story, though Firedoglake has a connect-the-dots blog post.) Egyptian authorities lined the canal with thousands of security forces to protect the passage and stopped all non-military traffic and all fishing in the area. According to Ha'Aretz:


NEWS DAY | Erlinder - in jail, hospital, court / Census hires help MN unemployment numbers / more

UPDATE: Peter Erlinder granted unconditional bail in Rwanda - may be released as soon as tomorrow. He was back in the hospital yesterday, with high blood pressure. His medical problems may be exacerbated by suspicion of food and medicine furnished by the Rwandan government, given past threats to his life from that government.


NEWS DAY | New nurses' strike? / Erlinder in jail / Gay in St. Cloud

First make concessions - then we might bargain. That seems to be the message from 14 Minnesota hospitals to the Minnesota Nurses Association, which has asked to return to the bargaining table, but is also planning another strike vote.

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