National

Deadbeat Uncle Sam?

As Minnesota's two seasons -- winter and road construction -- collide again this month, the state is launching transportation projects worth $1.1 billion at 74 Twin Cities locations, 194 in Greater Minnesota and 40 others not on highways.

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The Constitution and the failures of contemporary American politics

Is the polarization and dysfunctionalism in contemporary American politics an accident or a product of design failure? The more one thinks about it the conclusion may well be that the many of the problems now confronting the United States are the product of a faulty Constitution, or at least one that may perhaps have outlived its times.

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MayDay 2014 starting the Joy early

The MayDay Parade has a new start time this year. The partying puppets and associates will begin their entertaining of the parade viewers starting at Noon on May 4th, 2014, an hour earlier then previous years. The Ceremony will commence at its customary (approximate) 3:30 p.m. time, allowing the Sun to get into position. Powderhorn Park will be vibrant with the MayDay Festival for all the daylight hours. Simply start your joy on MayDay an hour earlier.
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Shortsighted cuts could hurt community health advancements

The Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program was initiated in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an attempt to address health disparities, help control health care spending, and create a healthier future. To this end, federal funds from the Affordable Care Act were allocated to select communities across the U.S. to help support community-level efforts to reduce chronic diseases by expanding efforts in “tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, and quality clinical and other preventative services.” Minnesota fared well in the selection process: the state was awarded $4.7 million per year (including $1.1 million for Hennepin County) for what was supposed to be a five-year program.

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COMMUNITY VOICES | University of Minnesota faculty statement on the visit of Dr. Condoleezza Rice

[Editor's note: This is the text of a petition/statement by University of Minnesota faculty members objecting to this week's visit by Dr. Condoleezza Rice.] On April 17, 2014, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit the University of Minnesota to give the Distinguished Carlson Lecture, an annual activity of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, endowed by a private gift from the Carlson Foundation. This year, the lecture has an additional significance, as it is part of the series of events entitled, "Keeping Faith with a Legacy of Justice," sponsored by the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the American Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the flagship speaker for the main event of the series, Dr. Rice is explicitly being honored as a civil rights leader and being brought in to speak about civil rights given her purported leadership and expertise on American civil rights.

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Take action on federal minimum wage: Support a food system that supports its workers

Healthy, sustainable food cannot come from an unhealthy system that exploits its workers. Right now, part of that exploitation is an unacceptably low minimum wage in all sectors of the food system, from production to distribution, retail, restaurants and food service. In response, the Food Chain Workers Alliance (FCWA) is coordinating a day of action in support of a higher minimum wage this coming Monday, March 31—César Chávez Day. Representatives will deliver a petition with over 101,000 signatures to House Speaker John Boehner in support of the Fair Minimum Wage Act (H.R. 1010 / S.460), which would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to 70 percent of that ($7.07 when minimum wage is $10.10).

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Marijuana and the criminal justice-prison industrial complex

America has fought a losing war and it is time to end it. No, this is not a reference to Afghanistan or the War on Terrorism. It is to the four decade long war on drugs that has failed miserably. It is time to shift away from a drug policy that criminalizes its use to one which treats it as a public health problem. This should be the policy regardless of whether Minnesota endorses medical marijuana. Richard Nixon launched the “war on drugs” with his presidency in 1968 and coined the phrase in a 1971 speech. Since Nixon the war on drugs has been a mainstay of Republican if not bipartisan politics. The 1974 New York Rockefeller Drug laws penalized individuals with sentences of 15, 25 years, or even life in prison for possession of small amount of marijuana. Increased mandatory minimum sentences for crimes were ratcheted up for drugs and the move toward “three strikes and you are out laws” in the 1990s were adopted in part as a result of the drive to prosecute drug crimes. All told in the last decade the federal government has annually spent $20-25 billion on drug enforcement with states kicking in an additional $10-15 billion if not more. What has this money purchased?

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Far right and left's common interest around agriculture

The far right and far left tend to agree on more issues than folks realize, but have very different ideas for how to resolve those issues. The recently enacted federal farm bill is one example.

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Obama's not so bold plan for transportation

President Obama came to St Paul to propose an aggressive new investment in transportation infrastructure, $300B over 4 years. It was a good show that messed up traffic throughout the city, which was only fitting. That increase of $75B per year comes on top of the current $48B per year, or a 150% increase. It’s needed, and as we’ve noted before investments in infrastructure have a great payback for the economy.

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