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As the Senate approves a $1.9 trillion virus relief package, Biden and the Democrats triumph.

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As the Senate approves a $1.9 trillion virus relief package, Biden and the Democrats triumph.

 

President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies scored a critical win in lifting the nation out of the pandemic and economic doldrums by narrowly passing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday.

Senators endorsed the sprawling package on a 50-49 party-line vote after working all night on a mountain of amendments, almost all of which came from Republicans and were defeated. This ensures that the bill receives final House approval next week, allowing lawmakers to rush it to Biden for signature.

The massive bill, whose expense is nearly a tenth of the entire US economy, is Biden’s top priority right now. It’s his formula for dealing with the deadly virus and the country’s stumbling economy, two problems that have plagued the country for a year.

After the vote, Biden told reporters at the White House, “This country has suffered much too much for much too long.” “So all in this package is built to alleviate poverty and address the nation’s most pressing needs, putting us in a stronger place to win.”

Saturday’s vote was also a pivotal political moment for Biden and the Democrats, who need party unanimity to win a 50-50 Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. They have a 10-vote House advantage.

No Republican voted for the bill in the Senate or when it first passed the House, highlighting the acrimonious partisanship that has dominated Biden’s presidency so far.

A small but influential group of moderate Democrats exploited changes in the bill that enraged progressives, making it difficult for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to get the bill through the House. Democrats, on the other hand, could not afford to refuse their first signature bill because they are in charge of Congress for the next two years and have no space for error.

The chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which represents about 100 House liberals, called the Senate’s weakening of certain provisions “bad policy and bad politics,” but added that they were “relatively small compromises.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said the bill’s “core bold, progressive elements” were preserved.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the House, “They sound like we do, we have to get this done.” “It won’t be everything anyone wants,” he said. “There is no bill.”

Pelosi called on Republicans to “join us in acknowledgment of the destructive reality of this vicious virus and economic crisis, and of the need for immediate action” in a written statement.

Many Americans will receive cash payments of up to $1,400, and emergency unemployment benefits will be extended. There are large sums of money set aside for COVID-19 vaccinations and research, states and towns, colleges, and struggling sectors, as well as tax cuts for low-income individuals, families with children, and customers purchasing health insurance.

Republicans have criticized the bill as a needless spending spree for Democrats’ liberal allies that ignores recent signs that the pandemic and economy are improving.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said, “The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard way.” Democrats’ “top priority” was not pandemic relief, he said. It was their wish list for Washington.”

The Senate began a dreaded “vote-a-rama” — a continuous sequence of amendment votes — shortly before midnight Friday, and had completed about three dozen by noon. Since 9 a.m. EST on Friday, the Senate has been in session.

Overnight, the chamber resembled a sleep deprivation laboratory. Several legislators seemed to close their eyes or doze off at their desks, their faces buried in their laps. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, one of the younger senators at 48, trotted into the chamber and stretched for a long time.

Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, was unable to vote because he was attending his father-in-funeral. law’s

The bill follows five others passed since last spring, totaling around $4 trillion, and comes amid signs of a possible turnaround.

Vaccine stocks are increasing, deaths and caseloads have decreased but remain alarmingly high, and hiring was remarkably strong last month, despite the economy still being 10 million workers smaller than it was before the pandemic.

The Senate package was constantly postponed as Democrats made last-minute adjustments to balance the conflicting demands of their moderate and progressive groups.

Work on the bill came to a halt on Friday after a deal among Democrats to extend emergency unemployment insurance appeared to fall apart. Top Democrats and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, possibly the chamber’s most conservative Democrat, announced a compromise nearly 12 hours later, and the Senate approved it 50-49 on a party-line vote.

Under their agreement, $300 weekly emergency unemployment checks will be renewed, on top of daily state benefits, with a final payout on Sept. 6. There will also be tax cuts on some of the funding, assisting citizens who were suddenly laid off due to the pandemic and faced tax penalties on their benefits.

The House relief bill, which was almost identical to the Senate bill, included $400 weekly benefits until August. The new weekly payments of $300 are set to expire on March 14, and Democrats want a bill on Biden’s desk by then to avoid a lapse.

Most Democrats and several economists oppose Manchin’s and Republicans’ argument that higher unemployment benefits deter people from returning to work.

The compromise on unemployment insurance wasn’t the only sign of the moderates’ strength.

Progressives suffered a significant setback on Friday when the Senate voted to reject a House-approved increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. Eight Democrats voted against the raise, implying that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other liberals vowing to keep fighting would face a tough battle.

Many Americans would be ineligible for the $1,400 stimulus checks, according to party leaders. Under the Senate bill, the number will be steadily decreased until it hits zero for individuals earning $80,000 and couples earning $160,000. In the House edition, the ceilings were higher.

Many of the GOP proposals that were defeated were either efforts to compel Democrats to vote in politically unpopular ways or attempts by Republicans to express their zeal for issues that matter to their constituents.

Efforts to ban funds from going to schools that don’t reopen their doors or to allow transgender students born male to play in female sports were both defeated. One provision would have barred federal funding from going to so-called sanctuary cities, where municipal governments refuse to assist federal agents in apprehending illegal immigrants.

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Keeler: Is Darcy Kuemper Avalanche’s next Teddy Bridgewater? Or next Peyton Manning?

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Keeler: Is Darcy Kuemper Avalanche’s next Teddy Bridgewater? Or next Peyton Manning?

COVID just opened up a 2-0 series lead on the Avs. It’s early. Better to rust in October than melt in May.

“So when I look at Darcy Kuemper, I watched him a lot when he was in Minnesota, when he was a backup,” former NHL goaltender and Turner Sports analyst Darren Pang told The Post when asked about the Avs’ new No. 1 netminder before Colorado’s season-opener against Chicago late Wednesday.

“And I wondered why he wasn’t more than a backup. And I kind of came to the conclusion that he doesn’t have that makeup to be a backup. He’s not one of those energetic, high-octane, flashy guys that could come in from being on the bench for two weeks and play.”

Pang bent one hand forward, like a shadow swan, and flattened his palm, making the gesture your uncle made whenever he decided he’d had it up to here with the broken furnace.

“He’s very flat-line, a very even-keeled person and athlete,” Pang continued. ”So the more he plays, the more he gets into his element.”

The road to the Stanley Cup goes through the 6-foot-5 Kuemper’s massive shoulder blades, then veers north via a series of switchbacks between the man’s ears. Aside from Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, no athlete in town has more eyeballs — or more of their fan base’s fascination/curiosity/worry — than No. 35 does right now.

If Dove Valley is still seeking the quarterback that makes no deficit unassailable, Chopper Circle is still chasing a netminder that puts leads, and momentum, in concrete.

The goalie who shuts doors and crushes souls. Especially during a postseason series.

“There’s no guaranteeing that an athlete is going to just blend right in there and be able to handle (that pressure),” Pang said. “I do believe the expectations (here) are very high. He seems to have the even-keeled-ness to be able to maintain in this type of environment.”

On one hand, Team Canada digs him, and Team Canada doesn’t mess around. When ESPN last April polled anonymous players, coaches, and executives to name the top 10 goalies in the game, our man Darcy, acquired in a trade with the Coyotes over the summer, checked in at No. 9.

“His name comes up in trade rumors because he’s incredibly valuable (to the Coyotes),” one executive told the Worldwide Leader. “Which is why he’s still there.”

And now he’s here, in a town where seasons, and rosters, are judged by parades. Or the lack thereof.

No. 35 is taller and rangier than predecessor Philipp Grubauer. But he’s also never carried much of the water as the undisputed, healthy No. 1 netminder on a team that declared It’s-Lord Stanley-Or-Bust the day before the puck dropped on the regular season.

Kuemper shared the load in Minnesota, where he never made more than 28 starts. With the Kings, same deal. Arizona never finished higher than fourth in the division during Kuemper’s tenure in the desert.

There are stakes now. Super Joe Sakic shipped defenseman Connor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-rounder in ’24 for the big guy’s services. It was a win-now move for a team that’s won everything lately but the big one.

“I’m so excited,” Kuemper said shortly after the trade was announced. “Obviously, those sort of expectations are great. And those are the opportunities you dream of. And to get the chance to step in and join that, it’s unbelievable, and I’m just so excited for it.”

The Avs are tracking unfinished business. Kuemper, a newlywed who’ll turn 32 next May and is in a contract year, is hunting a long-term deal. Sometimes when mutual interests align, it’s a beautiful thing.

Otherwise, well …

“Play better,” Pang countered with a smile. “It’s an easy answer. My playing career wasn’t nearly as good as Darcy Kuemper’s, but I remember one time, I was letting things bother me, and I had a real good friend who was a teammate who said to me, basically, ‘Shut your mouth and play better.’

“But Darcy’s not that kind of guy. He’s not going to gather attention because of his incredible saves, and be the ‘first star’ 10 games in a row. You’re going to appreciate how stable he is. You’re going to appreciate how big he is. You’re going to appreciate how technically sound he is. And you’re going to appreciate how he makes a lot of hard saves look really easy.”

Star Nathan MacKinnon and coach Jared Bednar, two coronavirus scratches for the season-opener, aren’t getting any younger. On the plus side, as we know too darn well around here, 2-0 leads aren’t as insurmountable as they used to be.

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Nuggets drop to 0-4 as preseason struggles continue vs. OKC

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Nuggets drop to 0-4 as preseason struggles continue vs. OKC

Nuggets coach Michael Malone did not heed his father’s suggestion to “chill out,” which came after one of Denver’s earlier preseason games.

In fairness, the Nuggets’ performance in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night didn’t give him any reason to.

The Nuggets sputtered to a 108-99 loss to the Thunder, made even more disheartening because it was the first time Denver’s opening-night starters played together all preseason. They’re now 0-4 in the preseason.

“We took a step backward tonight,” Malone said.

Will Barton’s return to action following his ankle injury was a rare bright spot, but most of what the Nuggets authored was disjointed and ugly. Outrebounded and outhustled by the Thunder, the Nuggets open the regular season in one week at Phoenix.

Until that time, they’ve got ample issues to iron out and plenty of film to illustrate said problems. Denver closes the preseason Thursday night against Oklahoma City in Tulsa.

Bench woes: Malone stressed “consistency” when asked what he wanted to see from Denver’s second unit over its final two preseason games. That didn’t happen in the opening tilt against OKC, though it did get better in the second half.

Nikola Jokic scored with 3:56 left in the first quarter, then exited the game soon after. The Nuggets mustered three points – all via free throws – the entire rest of the quarter.

Even with Michael Porter Jr. staggered alongside Facu Campazzo, P.J. Dozier, Bones Hyland and Jeff Green, the offense stagnated into isolation and dribble-heavy sets. It looked nothing like the fluid, read-and-react offense the starters had generated around Jokic.

Malone’s frustration, on the sidelines and heading into timeouts, was palpable.

The Nuggets opened the second quarter with Austin Rivers on the floor, but not much changed. It wasn’t until the starters trickled back into the game that Denver’s offense had some cohesion.

With just one game left in the preseason, the bench unit – and who will fill it – remains the Nuggets’ biggest concern. Green (15 points) and Hyland (12) did hold their own.

Porter problems: Porter didn’t help himself much despite being featured alongside the reserves. Over the final three minutes of the first quarter, Porter committed three separate turnovers that undermined their already struggling offense. On one, he got stripped. On another, he got whistled for an offensive foul after kicking his leg out on a 3-pointer – a point of emphasis for the officials this season. On the last one, he threw the ball away while trying to advance it up court.

Defensively, his rotations and closeouts weren’t sound either. Insult to injury came with 7:55 left in the third quarter, when Porter botched a wide-open dunk.

Less than two minutes later, with the Nuggets trailing the Thunder 72-57, Malone subbed out the entire starting five. The rare move was preempted by their uninspired play.

“We weren’t scoring, we weren’t executing, we weren’t generating good shots, we weren’t getting any stops, we weren’t communicating, and that’s the first time that unit has played that way,” Malone said.

Porter finished the game with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting and six rebounds. His frontcourt partner, Aaron Gordon, struggled even more from the field, with just three points on 1 for 8 shooting.

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St. Paul City Council holds first in-person meeting in 18 months, hears from unions on raises, COVID-19

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St. Paul City Council holds first in-person meeting in 18 months, hears from unions on raises, COVID-19

Against the chilly backdrop of a windswept Como Lake, the St. Paul City Council gathered at the outdoor Como Pavilion on Wednesday and held its first face-to-face meeting with constituents since March 2020.

Much of the evening was supposed to be dedicated to a public hearing on the mayor’s 2022 city budget proposal, the property tax levy and potential uses for $166 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding.

Instead, most of the hearing was taken up by some employees of St. Paul Parks and Recreation and St. Paul Public Works calling for wage increases and strongly opposing to an employee vaccination mandate still under negotiation between City Hall and the city’s labor unions.

The Tri-Council, which represents the city’s heavy equipment operators, plow drivers, sewer workers and everyday laborers, has rejected a two-year contract offer calling for a one-time bonus but no salary increase in the first year, followed by a 1.5 percent increase in the second year.

In a brief interview, Council President Amy Brendmoen said the council is still waiting on an update from the mayor’s office about the status of a vaccination mandate that the council had called for August 11.

“By a show of hands, are any of you up here doctors?” said a worker in an orange work vest, addressing the council rhetorically.

City employees on Wednesday said they’ve been told the city administration wants a fully vaccinated workforce by Dec. 1, and the prospect of terminating non-compliant employees came up during a labor management meeting the day before.

Ryan Wagner was among several firefighter-paramedics to take the mic and call for the option of frequent COVID testing rather than mandatory vaccination.

“(For) the individuals who are choosing not to get the COVID vaccine, I would request that this is done in lieu of firing individuals who have given blood, sweat and tears to the city during the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest of the past year,” Wagner said.

Council members held a moment of silence for the victims of a mass shooting last weekend at the Seventh Street Truck Park, where a 27-year-old woman was killed and more than a dozen bar visitors were injured.

A proposal that would open the door to more drop-in daytime facilities for the homeless within the city’s business districts will be revisited in three weeks.

The council, unlike the St. Paul Planning Commission and some other public boards, has for the most part not hosted public hearings through Zoom or accepted live comments through other means since the early days of the pandemic. Until now, other than raze-and-remove orders and other issues where live comment is legally required, they’ve chosen instead to accept written comments on matters before them while council members participate remotely.

Wednesday’s outdoor meeting was in-person only, but the council’s goal is to move toward hybrid in-person/remote meetings this winter, likely by January, Brendmoen said. They tested the technology last week with members of the Downtown Alliance. “We expect to go to hybrid as soon as we are in chambers,” she said.

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Halloween should be a little less COVID-scary this year

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Halloween should be a little less COVID-scary this year

Halloween should hopefully be a little less nerve-wracking this year for parents of trick-or-treaters and people handing out candy who are worried about transmitting COVID-19.

A lot more is known about how the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread than in the fall of 2020 when Minnesota’s biggest spike of infections was just ramping up.

“Most importantly, we know there are things we can do to reduce exposure and transmission,” said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. “Last year the guidance around Halloween activities was much more strict than it will be this year.”

Vaccines remain the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19, but unfortunately not everyone is eligible. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to begin reviewing vaccine data from Pfizer for 5- to 11-year-olds in late October, but the earliest children may be eligible for the shot is November.

While most trick-or-treaters are not yet old enough to get vaccinated, health experts say there’s plenty of ways to have a Halloween that’s relatively safe from COVID-19.

The guidelines state health officials have recommended to slow the spread of the coronavirus everyday continue to apply. They include wearing masks in public settings, social distancing, hand washing and staying home when sick.

Generally, another of the easiest ways to reduce risk is to stay outside.

Health officials again are discouraging indoor gatherings with multiple families again this year — that includes things like haunted houses and parties held inside.

But they’ve maintained that outdoor activities carry much lower risk than those held indoors.

“We know the virus does not spread well outdoors,” Rajapakse said. “This year, for Halloween, we would say if it is outdoors it is definitely a lower risk situation than having indoor activities or parties where you have crowds of people.”

Masks continue to be recommended for anyone gathering in groups, indoors and out, vaccinated or not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says community transmission of COVID-19 is high enough in every Minnesota county that masks should be worn in public spaces.

Parents also should be careful when masking-up little ones to make sure their masks for protection don’t interfere with breathing when also wearing costumes.

One thing parents and little revelers can worry less about is having to quarantine their haul of candy. SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, just doesn’t spread well on surfaces.

“We have learned through the pandemic that surface transmission is a very minor way this virus is transmitted,” Rajapakse said. “It is smart to practice regular hand washing. But in terms of wiping down all the candy, that’s not necessary.”

Rajapakse says to spread COVID-19 via a surface an infected person would have to cough on an item and someone would have to pick up enough virus to become ill from it and touch their mouth, nose or eyes.

“The statistical likelihood of that is happening is really very low,” Rajapakse said.

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DE Everson Griffen to remain a starter for Vikings

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DE Everson Griffen to remain a starter for Vikings

Defensive end Everson Griffen returned to the Vikings this season with the plan to be a reserve, but he’s now entrenched as a starter.

Co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said Wednesday that Griffen will start his second straight game on Sunday at Carolina. In the first three games of the season, Griffen was a reserve in two and missed one with a concussion before getting his first start in Sunday’s 19-17 win over Detroit ahead of D.J. Wonnum. He responded with two sacks, giving him four in the past three games.

“As long as he’s playing good, he deserves (to start),’’ Patterson said. “That’s who I am. If you’re playing good, you should be starting. It’s nothing against D.J. D.J. is getting better. But I mean, Everson Griffen being Everson Griffen should be better than D.J. Wonnum. Everson Griffen is a four-time Pro Bowler, right? D.J. is a second-year player coming along.”

Griffen, who made his four Pro Bowls while playing for Minnesota from 2010-19, re-signed in August. Patterson admits he’s a bit surprised at how much better he looks now than he did last season with Dallas and Detroit.

“I can say a little bit yes, because you judge him how he played on the other two teams, and to me he didn’t look like the Everson that I know and love.’’ Patterson said.

While the plan is for Griffen to again start, it remains to be seen if he plays as much as he did against the Lions, when he was in for a season-high 49 snaps. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that Griffen “probably played too much,” but Patterson said Wednesday that the Vikings at the end of the game being in a nickel, rather than a base defense, dictated that.

DARRISAW’S ROLE

Zimmer wouldn’t tip his hand on how much left tackle Christian Darrisaw will play against the Panthers.

Against the Lions, Rashod Hill started and played 39 snaps and Darrisaw rotated in and had 28 snaps. It remains to be seen Sunday if Darrisaw could start or if the rotation continues.

“I think the biggest thing was his athleticism,” Zimmer said about Darrisaw’s run blocking against Detroit. “He could get to the backside guy and cut him off. He could get to the backside linebacker. Just the quickness that he has.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins said it was no issue rotating left tackles.

“The plan going into the game was to give (Darrisaw) some opportunities and there wasn’t a reason not to,” Cousins said. “You got to plug and play.’’ … He did a great job and has worked hard to get himself ready to go. It’s a great opportunity for him to go out there and be able to show what he can do.”

BEST BACKUP?

Is Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison the best backup running back in the NFL?

“I’ll leave that to the critics, but there definitely would be an argument,’’ he said. “You can’t ignore some of the statistics and some of the facts and the film.”

With starter Dalvin Cook being out Sept. 26 against Seattle and against Detroit due to a sprained right ankle, Mattison had rushing outings of 112 and 113 yards, respectively.

The only drawback against the Lions was a fumble he lost at the Minnesota 20, allowing them to soon take a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left. But Greg Joseph won the game with a 54-yard field goal on the final play.

Mattison has said that Cook comforted him after the lost fumble, and he was grateful for that.

“I was just making sure his mentals were OK, and once he saw the field goal go in, he gave me a big hug,’’ Cook said.

COUSINS’ DONATION

Cousins recently made a $500,000 donation to the Vikings social justice committee.

“It’s just been very impressive the way the players have led, and there’s just been players very involved,” he said.

Cousins, a member of the committee, called the donation a “no-brainer.”

“It touched my heart,’’ said Patterson, also a member of the committee. “Very, very grateful for him to do that.’’

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Letters: How can you not consider how many people you might hurt?

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Letters: How can you not consider how many people you might hurt?

I am angry. I find I’ve been writing this “editorial” for more than 20 years. I brought my first baby home from the hospital, over 23 years ago. A precious baby. Innocent, eager to be loved and cared for. I was blessed to bring three more babies home. In that time, the Columbine shooting happened. I cried. More shootings happened. I cried more. Each time the stories would run, I cried. How could I have brought these babies into this vile world? What was I thinking? This world is a scary place and obviously no place for a baby.

As I got older, and the babies became toddlers, the toddlers to teenagers, teenagers to young adults, I realized, “they’re out of my protection.” I’m going have to trust my Creator to protect them. This past Saturday, one of my young adults, along with friends and a cousin, were present at the Truck Park bar in St. Paul. What I had hoped, that none of my children experience a “shooting,” happened. I cried. I’m angry. My child survived but witnessed a traumatic event. Sadly, one mother is without her baby tonight. I’m so sorry.

I couldn’t shield my child from the evil that exists. Still in these 20-plus years I have not been able to come up with a solution to these shootings. The origins of shootings are selfish motives, that’s all I can come up with. How, as a shooter, can you not consider how many people you might hurt, or kill, when you decide to bring a gun to a gathering? How can you even consider taking a life, someone from this world? What happens in a person’s heart or head, that killing someone is a consideration? Did you never experience love? Or was the idea planted and you nurtured it with anger and bitterness?

Gun laws haven’t helped. Those hell-bent on destroying will find a way to destroy. However, someday, we will each meet our maker and we will each be held accountable for our actions.

Maybe the antithesis of destruction is new life. That people continue to bring babies into this scary world, and they love and care for them, this to me is hope. Maybe one of these “babies” will come up with a solution to these senseless shootings.

Shellie McKane, Maplewood

 

Heartbroken and devastated

They’re all just heartbroken, all of them, the mayor, Jane Prince, the police chief. They want us to know that. Fifteen people shot, and one young lady killed. One of the shooters, Terry Lorenzo Brown Jr., has an extensive criminal history. He wasn’t permitted to have a gun, Mr. Police Chief said. I’m sure John Choi is upset too. He’s now going to work tirelessly to bring justice to the murdered girl and her family, he said.

So they’re all devastated, but I wish they had said they’re all mad as hell, weren’t going to take it anymore, and were going to crack down on things. But they didn’t say anything of the kind. Because they’re not going to do anything. And the next time it happens, or a young child is shot and killed, or an elderly person is carjacked and dies, they’re all going to be heartbroken and devastated again. Because that’s all this crew is capable of.

Paul Munger, St. Paul

 

Manipulating statistics

Among all of the excuses contained in Pioneer Press reporting about Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s decision to change policy on prosecutions arising from traffic stops is the time-worn abuse of statistics stating that 17% of St. Paul residents are Black, yet that demographic accounts for 37% if all traffic stops. It boggles my mind to think that officials manipulate statistics in this way — and get away with it. I’m surprised the Pioneer Press even printed it.  This stuff is covered in Statistics 101.  You cannot validly compare the statistics of dissimilar populations.

A map published on the City of St. Paul website depicts a heavy concentration of non-white residents in the areas north and west of downtown. Another of their maps depicts a heavy concentration of crime that closely matches that first map. If the police are doing their job, and I presume they are, they are concentrating their efforts in the crime areas. That proper action creates a different statistical population. So, how can you compare those efforts mitigating crime in that area to the average concentration over the whole city?

Furthermore, community policing, which is the buzzword that has been used, is dependent upon contact with the public. Stopping drivers for minor infractions keeps them in touch. And as every successful parent knows, when you deal with the little things, big infractions are more easily visible. Let’s make some sense here. Who is looking out for the lives of those other residents of the area who are living there because it’s affordable. Don’t they matter?

When Mr. Choi made his oath of office, he swore to uphold and prosecute the law by using some version of the phrase, “… all public offenses committed within this county…”.  If Mr. Choi can no longer perform to that standard, it’s time for him to step aside. He doesn’t have the choice to pick and choose which laws he will prosecute and which he won’t. That choice is not his to make and is contrary to his sworn oath.

This dearth of wisdom is nothing new. Three thousand years ago, the Hebrews employed Sages who had acquired wisdom over time. Their advice to government and business leaders is chronicled in Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, etc. In (NAB) Jb. 28:29: the author writes: “And to man he said: ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord (knowing right from wrong) is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding.’”

Art Thell, West St. Paul

 

Block and deter

Des Moines, Iowa’s Historic Court Avenue, a popular area with packed restaurants and bars weekend nights, had shootings, deterring customers.

The city blocked off an entertainment zone from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., with no traffic permitted, and five entrances with 20 security guards using handheld metal detectors. Only 21 and older or minors accompanied by a guardian were admitted. Ten extra officers patrolled downtown.

The restaurants got their business back.

Jane Hammarlund, St. Paul

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CU Buffs aim to get defense back on track

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CU Buffs aim to get defense back on track

Colorado’s football team is hoping a bye week gave it an opportunity to figure out some answers to problems on offense, but that isn’t the only side of the ball that needed a recharge.

After a strong start to the season, the Buffs’ defense also needed last week’s bye to try to get back on track.

“The bye week for our staff was really a chance for us to get to dig into our schemes and evaluate our personnel,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. “That was really critical for us, looking at some of the things that we do well, and making sure we keep emphasizing those things but also having really good self-awareness about the things that we need to improve on.

University of Colorado Boulder’s Isaiah Lewis tries to defend a touchdown catch by USC’s Michael Trigg during the Pac-12 game in Boulder, Co on October 2, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

“We made that a big point of emphasis not only from what we’re doing on the field but even from the meeting standpoints and how meetings are going and how we are trying to structure those. So, it was really good for us.”

CU (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) hosts Arizona (0-5, 0-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (1:30 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Network).

The Buffs rank sixth in the Pac-12 in scoring defense (23.8 points per game), but they’ve allowed 102 points in the last three games. Arizona is 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring, at 16.8 points per game and is only the team with fewer touchdowns than CU.

This season, the Buffs got off to a great start defensively, giving up just 17 points in the first two games. The defense was solid in Week 3, too, despite a 30-0 loss to Minnesota. The Gophers took advantage of a pair of second-half CU turnovers to turn the game into a blowout.

During the past two games, however, the Buffs have allowed 35 and 37 points, with Arizona State and Southern California both burning the Buffs with big plays. USC, in particular, beat the Buffs several times with big plays in the passing game.

“Some of that was on the play call, in regards to when you’ve got to bracket a receiver sometimes,” Wilson said. “You’ve got to pick your poison sometimes when you’ve got elite skill across the field. So, some of that is play calling.

“I’m willing to give up a run here and there to be able to handle those shots and explosive plays (in the passing game) because the quickest way to score a touchdown is to throw it over your head.”

Unfortunately for the Buffs, USC hit several of those plays in the passing game – with five passes for at least 26 yards.

“We learned a lot from the past week on some of the things that we can improve on in regards to mixing and matching our bracket coverages when we need it,” Wilson said.

Defensive lineman Jalen Sami said the week off was good for the defense as the Buffs look to regroup.

“We feel pretty good,” Sami said. “That extra couple of days off, getting our bodies right, definitely is beneficial for us and especially for me. Coming back with this week starting off, we had a first great two practices Monday and Tuesday.”

The Buffs are hoping to translate those good practices into a good performance on game day, and a big part of that, Wilson said, is making plays and winning the one-on-one battles that ASU and USC won in previous weeks.

“Now it’s time for us to make the plays,” Wilson said. “The biggest thing for us is getting our guys to have the ability to win one-on-ones. You’re going to have to make plays in space and so you can’t bracket everybody. You can’t help everybody (in coverage), so when it’s your moment of truth you’ve got to be able to execute at a high level and that’s what this whole week has been about.”

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Planned Parenthood wants Biden administration’s help in blocking Missouri’s new abortion rule

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Missouri’s abortion law in federal court; focus on Down syndrome diagnosis

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Planned Parenthood officials in Missouri want the Biden administration to step in to block a new rule that could lead to Medicaid funding being cut off in the provider’s clinics around the state.

The new regulation makes it easier for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to withhold funding from abortion providers, which in Missouri is only Planned Parenthood. While Planned Parenthood officials said Wednesday, the same day the rule went into effect, they are prepared to go to court over the regulation, one lawmaker says the state will win because it has the right to protect its citizens.

“We call on the Biden administration to protect every qualified Medicaid provider including Planned Parenthood,” Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said.

After guidance from a Senate committee on Medicaid accountability, the state has a new rule in place for abortion facilities.

“It’s not targeted specifically at Planned Parenthood, but they happen to be the only provider right now,” Sen. Bill White (R-Joplin) said.

White is the chairman of the committee, which started meeting this summer after a special session to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), the tax from health care providers that funds Missouri’s Medicaid program. Senate leaders formed a committee to address some members’ concerns over Medicaid funds going to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood. The committee made recommendations to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and DSS earlier this year to make regulation changes.

“Through Medicaid programs, the states have the authority to established qualification standards for Medicaid providers and take action on providers that fail to meet those standards,” White said.

Part of the new regulation allows DSS and DHSS to work together during investigations.

“Better coordination between the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Social Services, one does the investigation and the other does the termination of Mo HealthNet,” White said.

Planned Parenthood officials like Rodriguez disagree and say it’s up to the federal government.

“It’s the role of the Biden administration and CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] to be the regulator and the enforcer of those Medicaid rules,” Rodriguez said. “This emergency rule process discriminates against Planned Parenthood by singling us out and treating us differently than any other Medicaid provider in the state.”

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region saw more than 6,600 patients last year that were covered by Medicaid, Rodriguez said. That’s before expansion moves forward this month, allowing another 275,000 Missourians to become eligible for Medicaid.

Part of the new rule requires all employees to participate in an annual fire drill.

“We have people under sedation in an operating room and having procedures done on them and there’s a fire, those people in that room need to know what the heck they are supposed to do then because, obviously, they can’t just run out the front door,” White said.

Only one Planned Parenthood location in the state offers abortion services, located in the Central West End in St. Louis, but officials say this could affect the other 11 clinics in the state that don’t offer the procedure. Those clinics offer services such as cancer screenings, birth control, and STI testing and treatment.

“The emergency rules do not have any impact on our ability currently to provide care,” Rodriguez said. “What is at stake is the state’s attempt to weaponize the abortion regulatory process is a way to limit patients’ ability to access preventative family planning services.”

The chief medical officer at Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis Dr. Colleen McNicholas said she’s prepared for an inspection since the rule also requires accurate patient documentation and sterilized equipment.

“We are prepared for a surprise visit any day now,” McNicholas said. “I think the burden of enforcing this rests on CMS and the Biden administration, so we are going to lean in on them to say that this is not appropriate.”

Another part of the rule is if any doctor, nurse, or staff member doesn’t cooperate with the state’s health department during an investigation, that could also lead to the provider’s Medicaid funding being cut. Providers must also notify pathology labs of failed abortions within 24 hours along with performing pelvic exams 72 hours before a patient has an abortion, if medically necessary.

“If somebody decides to take them [the rule] the court, I think we win with this rule,” White said.

Under the Hyde Amendment, an abortion cannot be paid for with Medicaid dollars unless a woman’s life is in jeopardy.

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Jefferson County man gets 25 years for domestic assault

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Sex offender accused of exposing himself near Edwardsville High School

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. – A High Ridge man was sentenced Wednesday following a domestic assault conviction this past spring.

According to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, a grand jury found Juan Madrigal Jr. guilty on May 6, 2021, of first-degree domestic assault, second-degree domestic assault, and tampering with a victim in a felony prosecution.

Prosecutors said Madrigal physically struck and strangled a woman on April 5, 2019, causing her to suffer a blackout. Approximately 10 days later, Madrigal contacted the victim while he was in jail and attempted to persuade her not to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge sentenced Madrigal to 25 years in state prison on the first-degree domestic assault charge, 7 years on the second-degree domestic assault charge, and 7 years for tampering. The counts will run concurrently, meaning Madrigal will serve the sentences simultaneously. However, he’ll be required to serve at least 85% of the 25 years.

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Asteroid outpost seen as first step to being ‘a better space-faring species’

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Asteroid outpost seen as first step to being ‘a better space-faring species’

A robotic space station shaped like a butterfly with a camper van-sized body, parked on an asteroid, will be humankind’s latest outpost for interplanetary exploration.

University of Colorado engineers are teaming with the United Arab Emirates — again — to build the space station and launch it in 2028 when Venus and the Earth align. The mission requires sling-shotting the station around Venus to gain momentum and reach the asteroid 350 million miles away.

The goal is to understand materials that make up the solar system by probing 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid rock, and then determine where water could be found to allow future travel between planets, CU engineer and program manager Pete Withnell said.

“Water is life-enabling for humans. It also can be turned into fuel.  If we have access to water, whether on the moon, Mars, or the asteroids, it will enable human exploration beyond Earth,” Withnell said.

“Any scientific understanding we can have of our environment, which includes the solar system, enables us to be a better space-faring species – which could enable us to leave some day,” he said. “If Earth is going to become an increasingly hostile place, that may become necessary in order to continue.”

What the cube on the asteroids will measure isn’t fully set. It’ll be loaded with solar panels, antennas and sensors, which researchers say will use infra-red technology to analyze rock and thermal instruments to measure temperatures.

Previously, a UAE team of 200 along with 150 U.S. researchers, based at CU-Boulder labs, built and designed UAE’s $200 million Amal (Hope) Mars spacecraft, which was launched from Japan in July 2020. It reached Mars in February and has been transmitting weather, dust storm and other data from different levels of the Martian atmosphere.

Emirates leaders have declared they’ll also send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024 and establish a human colony on Mars by 2117. Meantime, they’re focusing on building up a space-related economy.

UAE hopes the project with CU will help their push to create a vibrant private sector around space science, Sarah Al-Amiri, chair of the UAE Space Agency, said.

“We see space as a tremendous commercial opportunity for energetic young dreamers, thinkers and doers around the world to converge here in the Emirates,” Al-Amiri said.

The CU-UAE partnership began eight years ago after UAE leaders conducted a search of universities seeking a partner for a knowledge transfer program and settled on CU and its LASP, which was founded in 1948, a decade before NASA, and has sent instruments to eight planets including Pluto.

The United Arab Emirates (pop. 9.8 million) is a South Carolina-sized desert nation along the Persian Gulf, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, that has amassed wealth from global finance and exporting oil.

“They’re a country that primarily relies on the export of minerals, but this is not a sustainable future for them, so they’re looking to become a knowledge-based economy,” Withnell said.

Scientists estimate 1.1 million asteroids, remnants from the formation of the solar system, circulate in the frigid area between Mars and Jupiter. They’re spaced millions of miles apart and are considered building blocks of the planets.

Putting a station on an asteroid, or hovering above with instruments anchored to the surface, would accelerate asteroids work pioneered by the European Union, Japan and United States on mostly fly-by missions. Space systems engineers say they’re only beginning to understand what resources, such as water, might be available to support deeper exploration and, ultimately, human life beyond Earth.

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