Wave of Mutilation

A local lawyer fights to save babies from circumcision

Since 1996, Zenas Baer has been waging a legal battle against circumcision. You can count the Hawley attorney among those not impressed by growing evidence that circumcision reduces the likelihood of HIV infection.

"Why stop at the foreskin? If you lop it all off, you won't have any sexually transmitted diseases," Baer says. "It's an absurd notion to think you can stop the spread of AIDS by cutting off a little piece of skin."

In an attempt to stop what he calls "genital mutilation," Baer filed suit against health-care behemoth Allina Health Systems. The case involves a circumcision performed at Unity Hospital in Coon Rapids in January 2000. After complications from the procedure required a second surgery, Dawn and David Nelson, the boy's parents, sued both the physician who performed the procedure, Dr. Stephen Beretska, and Allina, on the grounds that the hospital failed to obtain informed consent in writing.

Just a little off the top...
Just a little off the top...

Beretska settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Allina filed a motion for dismissal, arguing that it did not have a legal responsibility to get consent from the Nelsons. The motion was granted, but Baer, undeterred, has taken the case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

"The largest health-care system in the state is generating millions of dollars from cutting babies, but it doesn't want to shoulder any responsibility for informed consent," he says indignantly. "I think that's a scandal that needs to be exposed." —Mike Mosedale

Poseur Alert

Hipster clothiers Urban Outfitters and sub-economy car brand Toyota Yaris recently announced a campaign to "support indie radio through a series of events developed to generate awareness and funds for a handful of stations."

Dubbed "Free Yr Radio," the events will include about a dozen performances by indie-rock bands at Urban Outfitters stores across the nation. On June 5, local-boys-done-good Tapes 'n Tapes will play a free show at the Uptown store.

But is this a benefit concert or a PR stunt? The Minnesota beneficiary of Free Yr Radio's largesse is 89.3 the Current, which has more name recognition in these parts than the Yaris.

Free Yr Radio will also sell a compilation CD featuring songs from all the participating bands, splitting proceeds among the participating radio stations, says publicist Jessica Linker.

Safe money says it won't shorten the next Current pledge drive. —Sarah Askari

Put your hands together for...Fart Excuse!

Local heavy metalers Culture of Violence booted lead singer Jorge Zapata last month after he told bandmates he was no longer able to scream.

Considering most of his vocals involved screaming, the disability put a serious crimp in the band's act.

"If you can't scream, you can't scream. We're a heavy metal band," says lead guitarist Ian Frand.

Zapata's bombshell was preceded by bouts of brooding, fits of badmouthing, and general behavior "that made it seem like he didn't want to be in the band," Frand says. "He got Axl Rose syndrome."

Zapata denies the shenanigans, and says his voice is now stronger than ever. "I can scream way better now than I ever did with them."

Zapata took revenge by claiming the rights to the band's name. So in addition to holding auditions for a new vocalist, the Band Formerly Known as Culture of Violence is also taking suggestions for a new moniker via a Craigslist ad.

Among the ideas so far: Wedding Day Massacre, Happy Happy Buddy Guys, Dead Meat, and Fart Excuse.

"There are a few we would probably consider," Frand says, "but most are too goofy." —Jonathan Kaminsky

DINO-Mite!

Just prior to last month's Ward One convention in St. Paul, DFL operative Eric Mitchell resigned from the campaign of City Council member Debbie Montgomery after he learned she was working with a Republican advisor.

"I'm a DFL operative," Mitchell says. "I work with DFLers. I cannot be out there overtly working with the help of a Republican."

Mitchell believes the decision to enlist GOP support also killed Montgomery's chances of landing the endorsement in the DFL-dominated district. "The death knell was seeking advice and counsel from a Republican operative."

Indeed, Melvin Carter III secured the endorsement on the first ballot, garnering support from just over 60 percent of the delegates. The two will now square off in the primary.

Montgomery did not return a call seeking comment, perhaps because she was too busy deleting Karl Rove's emails. —Paul Demko

No Alternative

After being on life support for years, the Pulse of the Twin Cities finally flatlined last week when publisher Ed Felien pulled the plug.

Felien broke the news to staffers last Wednesday, saying he would save the details for an official obituary in this week's issue. The news came just as the alternative weekly was to celebrate its 10th year of publication.

Felien was out of town following the announcement and couldn't be reached for comment, but Pulse music editor Steve McPherson, who plans to reroute his music coverage online, admitted that the paper faced insurmountable financial obstacles.

"Everybody's getting squeezed right now," he says. —Chuck Terhark

 
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