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Dan Burns

PolyMet gets its land swap

by Dan Burns on January 11, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideThis was not a surprise, but it still sucks.

Paul Danicic, Executive Director of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, issued the following statement in response:

“The transfer of thousands of acres of Superior National Forest land to PolyMet is a bad deal for taxpayers, premature, and not in the public interest. No exchange of land can undo the damage that PolyMet would do to this area. The land that PolyMet seeks to mine contains thousands of acres of high-value wetlands that are irreplaceable.
The standard for federal land exchanges is that the exchange must be in the public interest. PolyMet would create polluted water that would require expensive treatment for hundreds of years. PolyMet would be the largest permitted destruction of wetlands in Minnesota history. The risk to the St. Louis River, Lake Superior, and downstream communities from this mine proposal demonstrates why it is not in the public interest…

(Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness)

Meanwhile, copper and nickel prices remain at long-term lows in a glutted market, and the inevitable Trump recession will only drive them further into the depths.


minneapolis_skyline__heroThere are elections for Minneapolis City Council in November. I’m not going to be blogging much about them yet, but I am passing this along. I think it’s realistic to suggest that more than a handful of voters in the city, to say the least, wanted and expected more “change,” however defined, after the turnover that happened in 2013.

But when asked what made them take the leap to run, any remaining nerves transformed into resolve. One by one they opened their eyes and spoke long held truths that became seeds for stump speeches: because representation matters, because racial equity, because of my community.
We focused on these seven candidates – Jillia Pessenda, Samantha Pree-Stinson, Phillipe Cunningham, Raeisha Williams, Jeremiah Ellison, Andrea Jenkins and Erica Mauter – because they bring in terms of race, gender identity and sexual orientation, an unprecedented level of diversity to the 2017 elections. Not only do they embody a new potential for Minneapolis politics to be more reflective of its growing populations than ever before, but with platforms heavily focused on social justice, racial and economic equity, they bring a potential to shift the balance of power on the City Council.
(Twin Cities Daily Planet)


bensonIt should always be kept in mind that right-wing drivel like this is inevitably spewed with one ultimate end in mind: disastrous outsourcing to greedheads. Assuming that we as a society are supposed to actually try to help those who need it, at all. Though not a Christian I can’t help but point out that the Bible certainly says that we should.

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michelle Benson delivered a blunt message Friday to nonprofit leaders seeking state funding: Be prepared to prove your worth.
“When it comes to accessing public dollars, you will want to work really hard to prove what you’ve already done with the dollars you’ve already been given, whether it’s public dollars or private dollars,” said Benson, R-Ham Lake. “Be ready to deliver accountability.”
…“It’s a frightening time right now,” said Shelley Jacobson, CEO of Minnesota Communities Caring for Children/Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota. The nonprofit relies, in part, on state funding, and she said she was worried that could be stripped away.
Jacobson called Benson’s demands for proof of impact a Catch-22: “You have to have staff to be able to do the research.”
(Star Tribune)

As Sen. Benson (R-Ham Lake) has a safe seat I haven’t paid any attention to her during election seasons. She’s your typical Minnesota Party of Trump member, with a website that’s heavy on MNsure/ACA-bashing and whimpering about tax “relief.”


trump4From the guy who’s going to protect us from the ISIL hordes, coming to kill us all. Because among other things he knows more than the generals.

But arguably more important than Trump’s lazy dishonesty is his willingness to intensify his ongoing feud with U.S. intelligence agencies. In one juvenile tweet, the president-elect managed to attack the integrity of the agencies, their work, their professionalism, and their findings. He also has clearly made up his mind about the underlying controversy, choosing to believe Russia over American officials.
Sure, other presidents (and presidents-elect) have clashed with intelligence officials in recent history, but Trump is the first to openly taunt and mock these agencies in public.
(MSNBC/Steve Benen)

And then this.

Donald Trump and his transition team are working on a plan to revamp and reduce the size of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA because the President-elect believes that the U.S. intelligence community is biased against him and has tried to undermine his election, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening.
Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and his nominee to lead the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) also believe that the DNI and CIA are biased, and the two are helping devise the plan to restructure the agencies, according to the Journal.
(Talking Points Memo)

I happen to think, myself, that given its history, and the general attitudes and motives of too many people who work for it, the CIA should be not “restructured,” but disbanded entirely. (What it has done well can be done at least as well elsewhere.) But in a very smart and careful way, not in an infantile fit of pique.
Trump may of course completely reverse himself on this. He may be doing so right now for all I know. That’s part of the con, too.


middleclassIf this might affect you personally you really should read the whole article. There are multiple factors in play.

Considering it’s been less than a decade since the real estate crash that plunged the world into economic calamity, you might think Republicans in Congress would be a little wary of legislation that risked infuriating voters by pushing down house prices.
Apparently not! As part of the massive tax-cut push they’ve cued up for this year, GOP leaders are quietly contemplating a proposal that would indirectly curtail the mortgage interest deduction, long considered a sacred cow of American tax policy. The move would almost certainly lead some home values to fall, though it’s hard to predict by how much.

Proper reform of the deduction would stick to making it a lot less of yet another handout to the rich man. But that’s not in the cards.


MNGov: A GOP rift already?

by Dan Burns on January 4, 2017 · 1 comment

mngopdonorsI’ve been taking for granted that House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) is a shoo-in for the Minnesota Party of Trump nomination for governor in 2018. Corporate media in the state certainly loves the guy. But Keith Downey is stepping down as the state Republican Party boss, and informed speculation about his intent is rampant.

Downey could remain politically visible after leaving his post. He’s widely mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in 2018, alongside a crowded field of other Republicans such as House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson and several state lawmakers.
(St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The deal appears to be, from what I’ve seen here and there on social media, that moneyed metro GOPers prefer Downey. So this could turn into a brawl. That would be cool.

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trump8Believe it or not The Amphibian told it like it is. Though of course he walked it back when the boss got peeved.

Newt Gingrich said (Dec. 21) that Donald Trump’s “drain the swamp” catch phrase was “cute” but that the President-elect now disclaims it.
During an interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition” (Dec. 21), host Rachel Martin asked if the former House speaker had been “working in the swamp, to use Donald Trump’s language.”
“I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” Gingrich said, referring to the phrase. “I’d written what I thought was a very cute tweet about ‘the alligators are complaining,’ and somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff.”
(Talking Points Memo)


Shelled buildings in Aleppo“Scatterbrained” is actually the least of it. “Potentially very dangerous” is the real deal. I’m quoting the end of Juan Cole’s analysis of the apparent endgame in Syria.


The Russo-Iranian Middle East would have been a challenge to President Obama’s vision of the area, but it isn’t clear that it would bother Trump. Trump has argued in the past for turning Syria over to the Russians.
The big contradiction here is that Trump has nominated extreme anti-Iran conspiracy theorists to his administration. Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, appointed to Sec. of Defense, has suggested that Iran created Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), which is sort of like alleging that the papacy was and continues to be behind the Lutheran church.
Likewise incoming National Security Adviser Mike Flynn is a big anti-Iran figure.
So while Trump himself has indicated an ability to live with a Russo-Iranian Middle East, his cabinet will be made extremely upset by it.
(Informed Comment)


Globe University is going under

by Dan Burns on December 22, 2016 · 1 comment

studentdebtThe Globe empire has been a textbook example of for-profit education gone very wrong, and the righteous endgame has looked inevitable for a while. Having a state Attorney General, Lori Swanson, who is not a corporate tool has of course been a big help.

Globe University and Minnesota School of Business will be shuttering their Minnesota campuses, the Woodbury-based schools announced on Tuesday.
The for-profit schools have been cut off from federal funding and were stung by a lawsuit that found they had committed fraud in their criminal justice program.
(Star Tribune)

It looks like steps are being taken to help current students there with getting their credits to transfer and so on. As far as teachers and other staff, it sucks for now, but letting this corrupt institution continue its ways wasn’t doing anyone any good.
If you read the Strib article you’ll see that Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) is indulging in a bit of a tantrum about this. Tough.
Comment below fold.

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 4

by Dan Burns on December 21, 2016 · 0 comments

trump7There ain’t gonna be a wall. For a lot more reasons than that noted in this article, actually, including the insane cost, the knowledge that it wouldn’t “work,” and most of all the dependence of the rich man on readily exploitable undocumented immigrant labor. Indeed, I’m quite certain that that last item is the real reason for the waffling from Texas’s mostly far-right delegation, and purported issues with “eminent domain” are just being used as political cover.

Trump’s dreams of a wall on the Southern border are crumbling as zero members of Texas’s congressional delegation support his plan to build the wall.
The Texas Tribune reported, “None of the 38-member Texas delegation offered full-throated support of a complete border wall, a position popular with President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters that would impact Texas more than it would any other state.Instead, several members of the Texas delegation called for new policies on the border, including fencing and walls in some places, and beefing up security in other ways such as employing new surveillance technology and adding more federal agents. Several lawmakers did not respond to multiple requests by the Tribune for comment.”
…The reason entire congressional delegation in Texas is not supporting the wall is that the construction of the wall would require the federal government to confiscate ranchers’ land using eminent domain.