Five at 8 – 12/8/09: The power of murals

I’ve been out for a few days so here’s the Monday Morning Rouser, Tuesday edition:

1) If you could paint a mural in your neighborhood, what would it say?

PBS Newshour looks at the Love Letter Project in Philadelphia, a public art project consisting of a series of 50 rooftop murals along the city’s Market Street corridor.

It’s not just Philadelphia. State of the Arts blogger Marianne Combs profiled a Minneapolis artist who uses murals to fight graffiti.

The subject being murals, and this being December and all, we pause for a moment to remember the murals of David J. Hetland. He created large murals for the Concordia College Christmas Concert for nearly 40 years before his death in 2006.

2) There’s a hearing in Washington today on how well the EPA enforces drinking water standards. In my neck of the woods — the same neck of the woods where 3M dumped chemicals — we’re constantly told by local authorities that our water meets or exceeds federal standards.

But what about those standards? The New York Times has gone over the federal paperwork and has determined that 20 percent of us are drinking dirty water.

But many systems remained out of compliance, even after aid was offered, according to E.P.A. data. And for over a quarter of systems that violated the arsenic or radioactivity standards, there is no record that they were ever contacted by a regulator, even after they sent in paperwork revealing their violations.

Those figures are particularly worrisome, say researchers, because the Safe Drinking Water Act’s limits on arsenic are so weak to begin with. A system could deliver tap water that puts residents at a 1-in-600 risk of developing bladder cancer from arsenic, and still comply with the law.

More environment: MPR News this week is examining some of the solutions to global warming being discussed in Copenhagen. The “cap and trade” proposal has a big impact on Minnesota, it reveals, since most of the energy here is still generated by fossil-burning plants.

But this video from The Story of Stuff Project claims the problem with cap and trade is the middle man:

Just another tirade against the big bankers? Maybe. But have you noticed the voices being added to the chorus have become decidedly Republican in nature? Here’s Ben Stein’s take:3) A greater immediate threat, perhaps? Loneliness. Researchers says it may cause cancer.

4) Richard Branson yesterday unveiled the spaceshift he’s doing to use to ferry people willing to spend $200,000 to the lower levels of space. For the rest of us, there are seven other ways to be a space tourist — even if you’re broke, according to Discover Magazine.

5) The headline from NPR this morning raises the question: Will anyone pay attention to flu warnings ever again? Flu Pandemic Much Milder Than Expected.

Bonus: Here are the various predictions we’ve heard for total snowfall in the Twin Cities in the last 24 hours. Two inches, 4 inches, 7 inches, 9 inches, 14 inches. Someone nailed it. Here’s your Sningo card. Here’s the Twitter “snowmaggedon” thread to follow. Here’s Paul Huttner and his Updraft blog.


It’s one thing to bake cookies and bring a tree into the house. But some families follow customs that are off the beaten path. Do you observe any nontraditional holiday traditions?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens looks into the future of mobile technology. Also, one of the founders of Geek Girls talks about what tech developers can do to make their products more user friendly.

Second hour: An author discovers late in life that the father who raised him was not his biological parent. He goes in search of the donor, another family member, who allowed the secret to persist for decades.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, Larry Shellito, will be in the studio to talk about the men and women of the Minnesota National Guard who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Second hour: President Obama’s speech about the economy and jobs, given this morning at the Brookings Institution.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A Copenhagen primer on climate change.

Second hour: Paul Mooney talks with Neal Conan about his new book, Black, Is the New White.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The CDC says nasty pneumonia is more prevalent with H1N1. The agency recently drew attention to a big jump in cases in Denver in October. Some Twin Cities hospitals say they’ve been swamped with bacterial pneumonia caused by flu and that they’ve had to take some extraordinary measures to save some patients. MPR’s Lorna Benson will have the story.

Annie Baxter looks at the continuing debate over extending unemployment benefits.