So It's Come to This

Apparently, no one's job is safe at the Star Tribune. Having fired the old ladies who ran the switchboard, the suits have now decided to shit-can the mentally retarded.

Since 1999, the Star Tribune has contracted with Lifeworks, a nonprofit group that helps mentally handicapped people work in office jobs. But August 3 will be the last day for 11 developmentally disabled workers in the Strib's mailroom.

"All of us are aware that the Star Tribune has experienced changes in its operations," says Tony Saputo, director of marketing at Lifeworks. "Unfortunately, clients of Lifeworks who work at the Star Tribune are a part of that as well."

Last week, Lifeworks met with the 11 employees to break the bad news. "They're very sad," Saputo says.

Helen Wainwright, the Star Tribune's vice president of human resources, did not return phone calls requesting comment. Evidently, she was too busy looking for puppies to kick. —Paul Demko


Raspberries for the Gophers

This week left the U of M football program scraping off mud when Dominic Jones, one of the four U football players accused of raping an intoxicated 18-year-old woman, was charged with 3rd degree sexual assault.

After the four players were kicked off the team, KSTP-TV ran a segment investigating the MySpace and Facebook pages of other U of M players. What they found was predictable to anyone who's been to college: ass-to-face humor, nudity, and middle fingers raised alongside beer glasses.

The U was quick to come to the players' defense, claiming the report was irresponsible journalism. According to Shane Sandersfeld, associate director of athletic communications, the half-full pitcher Nedward Tavale is shown hefting contained the refreshing beverage most common to college parties: raspberry iced tea. Sandersfeld, who's apparently either psychic or follows Tavale everywhere, went on to assure us that the sophomore "hasn't had a drop of alcohol in his life."

Now that that's cleared up, the U of M can go back to celebrating its most recent achievement: breaking ground on the TCF Bank Stadium, due for completion in 2009. No word yet if the stadium concession stands will serve raspberry iced tea. —Ward Rubrecht


Shooting Straight

The fallout continues after an exaggerated report of rampant heroin abuse among Northfield teens, but one of the people most responsible for spreading the lie has yet to apologize.

We are, of course, talking about local scold Katherine Kersten.

On July 3, Northfield Police Chief Gary Smith called a press conference to announce that up to 250 kids had become smack junkies and were pillaging Carleton and St. Olaf colleges to get money for their raging habits.

While the report seemed ridiculous on its face—Northfield is so milquetoasty its official motto is, "Cows, colleges, and contentment"—the Strib nonetheless breathlessly hyped the claim on the front page.

But no one was more duped than conservative columnist Katherine Kersten. In her July 9 column, the Strib's resident schoolmarm recalled an in-flight brush with That Darn Youth Culture, and went on to blame the heroin epidemic on everything from "thug rap lyrics" to graphic ads in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Since then, public records have debunked the claim of a teenage heroin epidemic, and Police Chief Smith has taken a leave of absence. Yet Kersten has remained silent.

Personally, we think she owes Lil' Wayne an apology. —Nate Patrin


Shouting "Fire!" during Political Theater

Congressman Keith Ellison took some flak last week from the Anti-Defamation League for allegedly comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler.

During a July 8 speech he gave to a group of atheists in Edina, Ellison compared the Bush administration's post-9/11 actions to what the Nazis did in the wake of the 1933 Reichstag fire.

"After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted," Ellison was quoted as saying.

In a press release, the Anti-Defamation League demanded that Ellison retract his remarks. "[His] comments comparing the rise of Nazism in the aftermath of the burning of the Reichstag to the War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11 is outrageous and offensive to all Americans," read the statement.

Strangely, the Anti-Defamation League neglected to empirically demonstrate how the Reichstag fire differs from 9/11. So in the name of public service, we thought we'd pick up the slack and debunk Ellison's claim ourselves:

• Hitler suspended many articles of the Weimar Constitution in order to gain power, whereas the Bush administration is merely ignoring a few aspects of the Constitution for our own protection.

• In the wake of the Reichstag fire, the German government did away with habeas corpus so they could arrest enemies of the state without trial, whereas the Bush administration has done away with habeas corpus so they can detain terrorists without trial.

• The Reichstag Fire Decree allowed the German government to wiretap citizens' phones and read their mail, whereas our own government is able to wiretap our phones and read our email.

• Hitler enacted his provisions as part of an intentionally misleading, Orwellian-titled government decree (the Order of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State), whereas the PATRIOT Act's name is merely derived from a coincidental acronym.

So there you have it. Ellison is obviously way off-base here. —Matt Snyders

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