Political Matters
Newspapers in the downturn
Tuesday, August 25 2009
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Continuing with the economic theme this month, I got a large dose of depressing news while attending the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) conference last month in Evanston, Ill. In a nutshell, newspapers are struggling to survive as advertising revenues plummet.


Tim Pawlenty slashes funding
Tuesday, August 25 2009
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In the current economic downturn, millions of families and individuals are trying to cope with unemployment and home foreclosures. And as many people look to whatever is left of the governmental social safety net, at least 36 states are dealing with budget shortfalls by reducing social services, including those for some of their most vulnerable residents, according to a recent report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The states have received some relief from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the $787 billion federal stimulus package; but the CBPP notes that the $140 billion in stimulus money for the states only fills about 40 percent of $350 billion to 370 billion shortfall they face over the next two-and-a-half years.

Franken and Indian Affairs
Friday, August 14 2009
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Al Franken, who took the oath of office as Minnesota’s new U.S. senator last month, was quickly in the national spotlight. He participated in the Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, which attracted massive press coverage. On July 30, Franken attended his first meeting of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which was a hearing on gang activity on Indian reservations.It will be interesting to see how Franken develops in the nation’s most elite lawmaking body.

I recently talked with Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. – who, like Franken, happens to be from St. Louis Park. Regarding the difficulty Minnesota’s junior senator faces in entering the Senate session in midstream (after waiting through a recount and legal challenge for his election to be certified), Ornstein said that the “trickiest part” for Franken is that he didn’t “get to go through an orientation. It’s not even like being thrown into the deep end – it’s like being thrown into the deep end in the middle of a tsunami.”
However, Ornstein was confident that Franken would eventually orient himself to the process.
“He is a policy wonk – he knows an enormous amount about these issues,” Ornstein commented. “He knows how to work with people; he’s going to have a first-rate staff.”

In his opening statement at the July 30 Indian Affairs hearing, Franken, who campaigned on Minnesota’s Indian reservations last year, noted that “it is truly a special honor to serve on the same committee that my good friend and predecessor Paul Wellstone served on.”

Political matters
Friday, July 24 2009
Written by Circle News - Staff,
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UND’s nickname controversy
On May 14 the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education unanimously passed a motion to retire the University of North Dakota “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo, effective Oct. 1, 2009. The action is based on a 2007 agreement between North Dakota education officials and the NCAA.

However, the board’s directive will be suspended if both the Standing Rock and Spirit Lake Sioux tribal governments approve of the Fighting Sioux nickname. On April 22, in a non-binding plebiscite, members of the Spirit Lake reservation voted two-to-one to approve of the Fighting Sioux name. But the tribal councils are on record in opposition to the UND nickname.

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