There will be building signs but no roof signs, at least not so far, on the Downtown East office towers that are expected to house Wells Fargo.
But don’t rule out roof signs getting approved at some future date for the buildings adjacent to the new Vikings stadium.
Currently, roof signs are illegal in Minneapolis, but city staff has been asked to review those rules with the possibility that the signs could become legal, following possible changes to city ordinances next year.
The signage agreement, as approved Monday by the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee, calls for wall signs on the east and west ends of side-by-side office buildings with additional wall signs on the south, facing the proposed park.
The signs would be 300 square feet each and would be 200 feet above ground level, according to Mike Ryan of the Ryan Cos.
This is a variance from current city code, which limits wall signs to 120 square feet.
Wells Fargo had expressed concern about the sign limits and suggested it might not go forward with the plan if signs were banned.
“This is acceptable to Wells Fargo,” said Ryan after the meeting. “The east, west and south side signs are good for Wells Fargo and for us.”
The committee also approved narrowed the sidewalk width along the edge of a stand-alone residential building along 5th Street adjacent to the light rail. The former 20-feet width, which would have required a 9-foot setback, was reduced to 15 feet 7 inches.
“If the building were to be set back an additional 9 feet, we would most likely want the public park to be set back 9 feet,” said Hilary Dvorak, the city’s principal planner for the project. She suggested that changing a sidewalk width mid-block could be a problem for those covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Two more City Council committees are scheduled to discuss the Downtown East project this week with a Friday vote by the full Council. Community Development will consider the plan at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by the Ways and Means/Budget Committee at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. All meetings take place in Room 317 of City Hall.
I'm not taking this too seriously, but I liked the quote.
Sen. Rand Paul was asked by a media mob recently whether he would run for president in 2016. He replied:
“Where’s my cellphone? Can I call my wife? ... “There’s two votes in my family. My wife has both of them, and both of them are ‘no’ votes right now."
hat tip: ABC News.
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers negotiating the terms of a new five-year farm bill have agreed to the size of the bill's cut to the food stamps program, one of the major sticking points between the House and Senate, Rep. Collin Peterson said Monday.
Peterson told the Fargo Forum a farm bill deal could come before the end of the week, although the legislative calendar is such that any vote on the package would likely happen in January. That's been the assumed timeline recently, given that the House leaves for a winter recess on Friday.
Peterson didn't identify how big the food stamp cut would be, according to the Forum, except that it's "substantially closer to the Senate’s" $4 billion in 10-year cuts than the House's $40 billion figure.
Peterson guessed that change will still be one of the major issues when the bill goes to House and Senate floors for a vote, which he said could be as early as the second week of January. The deal would have to be passed by the farm bill’s conference committee before heading for a full vote.
“I think it will pass the Senate, but I cannot guarantee you it will pass the House,” Peterson said in a meeting with the Forum’s Editorial Board Monday. “They are not going to be happy with the food stamp cuts.”
Peterson said he’s confident he can secure “yes” votes from at least half of the House Democrats — important if many Republicans, who control the House, balk at the smaller-than-expected food cuts to food stamps.
Food stamp policy has been one of the most contentious parts of the farm bill debate this year, especially in the House. Over the summer, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats both voted against an original House Agriculture Committee farm bill because of its $20 billion in cuts. House leadership had to double the number to persuade enough Republicans to support the bill and send it to a conference committee with the Senate (Most Democrats had opposed the $20 billion figure as too deep to begin with, and they all voted against the latter bill).
As of last week, conference negotiators — Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Ok.) and Peterson, a Democrat — had been closing in on a food stamp agreement, though they're still waiting on budget scoring from the Congressional Budget Office.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re getting closer to the end times for the Star Tribune … building. Tim Nelson at MPR says: “The Minneapolis City Council’s zoning committee has signed off on the demolition of the Star Tribune’s building, one of the final hurdles to passing Downtown East, a proposed 5-block multi-use office, housing, retail and park development near the new Vikings stadium. The Star Tribune wants to sell off its real estate in Downtown East, and reportedly move to the Capella tower. It is expected to sell off its property later this month to developer Ryan Cos., which is proposing the $400 million project, including two 20-story office towers for Wells Fargo. … The Star Tribune, for its part, said it is more than ready to leave the building behind. Publisher Michael Klingensmith called it ‘functionally obsolete’ and said its only about half occupied now. He said the paper expected to move into leased space in a downtown office tower, although he didn’t say which one.”
Threats to pollinators? Josephine Marcotty of the Strib says: “Insects will have their day at the Capitol Monday, when the state’s leading researchers on bees and butterflies provide an update on environmental risks facing important pollinators in Minnesota. Honeybees and other insects vital to both agricultural and wild plant life are in precipitous decline across the state and nation, thanks to both the widespread use of pesticides and the disappearance of wildflowers and other sources of food for them. University of Minnesota bee researchers Marla Spivak, Elaine Evans, and Vera Krischik will provide the latest research on the risks to honey and wild bees.”
Gizmo news … . James Walsh of the Strib says: “Medtronic on Monday announced the first-in-human implant of the world’s smallest pacemaker: the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS). The tiny device is about the size of a large vitamin tablet and is one-tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker. It is delivered directly into the heart through a catheter inserted in the femoral vein. Once positioned, the pacemaker is securely attached to the heart wall and can be repositioned if needed. The miniature device does not require the use of wires, known as ‘leads,’ to connect to the heart. Attached to the heart via small tines, the pacemaker delivers electrical impulses that pace the heart through an electrode at the end of the device.”
It’s getting hard to imagine a day going by without another lawsuit against another Catholic diocese. The AP is reporting: “A lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of a man who claims he was sexually abused by a priest in the Diocese of Duluth in the 1970s is asking the diocese to release its list of 17 priests accused of molesting minors. The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis County District Court, alleges the diocese was negligent because it failed to protect children from a priest who had previously been accused of molesting boys. A message left with the diocese was not immediately returned. The lawsuit says the diocese didn't go to law enforcement, and gave parents no warning the priest was a risk. The plaintiff, identified as Doe 28, claims the priest abused him from 1972 to 1974, when he was between 11 and 14 years old. The boy had been participating in activities at Sacred Heart Church in Duluth, the complaint said.” And the reason why women are prohibited from becoming priests is what again?
Similarly … MPR reports: “St. John's Abbey on Monday released the names of 18 current and former monks who ‘likely have offended against minors.’ The list includes nine monks living at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., under ‘supervised safety plans,’ the abbey said. Seven monks on the list are dead; two are no longer monks and no longer are connected to abbey leaders, who said they were releasing the names voluntarily. ‘This list reflects our best efforts to identify those who likely have offended against minors,’ an abbey spokesman said in a statement.”
Don’t get too optimistic about the deep freeze abating anytime soon. At MPR, Paul Huttner writes: “Snow cover creates what meteorologists call a ‘feedback loop.’ The highly reflective nature of snow, called albedo, keeps temps a good 10 degrees colder than bare ground, and that modifies air masses to keep temps colder. Temps will moderate this week, but I don’t see any big sustained warm ups in sight right now. The [Global Forecast System] brings another shot of sub-zero air south the weekend before Christmas. We’ll see. … Both NOAA’s and Environment Canada’s North American Ensemble Forecast System paint a colder than average bias into the Upper Midwest for the next two weeks. … You may hear some forecasters out there talking about a big warm up later this month. At this point, my money is on a colder than average December overall.”
Speaking of staying warm … . Judy Newman of the Wisconsin State Journal tells us: “They’re throwing in the blanket at The Snuggle House. The Downtown business, 123 E. Main St., open for just three weeks, announced on its Facebook page Friday night that it has closed. The Snuggle House is Officially Closed — for good. For those people who supported us, thank you. Snuggle on!’ the post read. No specific reason was given, but The Snuggle House, whose November opening was delayed for one month because of city concerns, posted this reply to Facebook questions: ‘The push back and harassment is not worth it, honestly.’ … The Snuggle House offered “therapeutic cuddling” for $60 an hour. The business, which had attracted nationwide attention, opened Nov. 15 after weeks of delays because of a lack of a business plan and inspections by city officials who were concerned the second-floor business could be a front for prostitution. ... Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, who represents the area, said he received quite a few questions from Downtown residents and businesspeople before The Snuggle House opened. They were worried that the clientele might be detrimental to nearby restaurants and bars, Verveer said.” Wait a minute … “snuggling” would be “detrimental” to … a Wisconsin bar?
If you’re following the Margorie Holland murder trial, Marino Eccher of the PiPress reports: “A trail of what appeared to be blood was found in Roger and Margorie's Holland's townhome, a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator testified Monday, leading from the upstairs hallway down the steps to where first responders found Margorie unresponsive last spring. There's no way to tell when the stains fell, and the investigator didn't say who they came from. No blood was visible on the scene, said Mark Patterson, a BCA forensic scientist. Patterson examined the couple's Apple Valley townhome the day after Margorie's March 7 death. … Patterson detected the stains by spraying a chemical that reacts to the presence of blood. It produced more than 30 spots, the majority of them in the upstairs hallway, stairway down and area at the bottom of the stairs where Margorie was found.”
The musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra mixed some Beethoven and Mozart with what appeared to be a shot across the bow of the Minnesota Orchestral Association at a unique Monday morning meeting with the media and the public.
Although there were frequent comments from musician leaders that their No. 1 priority is a contract settlement to end the 14-month-old lockout, they also announced plans for as many as 10 concerts for the winter/spring season.
This news was greeted by big cheers from an overflow crowd — perhaps 200 — who came to hear a status report from the musicians. The gathering was at the Hilton Hotel, which, of course, is only a few steps away from Orchestra Hall.
At the meeting, musicians announced that they had organized into 13 committees, which do everything from raise money — to date, more than $600,000 — to organize concerts. The funds have come from more than 1,200 donors, according to the musicians.
“We’ve learned so much about each other,’’ said harpist Kathy Kienzle, who heads their members committee. “This is a very smart, multitalented group.”
The musicians' education committee has arranged a substantial number of orchestra performances at metro-area schools — which always has been part of the orchestra’s mission. Additionally, the orchestra has performed in such unusual venues as a YMCA in north Minneapolis and at a club, the Rodeo, on Lake Street, which is a particular favorite of Hispanics in the Twin Cities.
At least one MOA board member reportedly was seen at Monday’s meeting, although she was not available for comment. It’s impossible to say whether her attendance shows at least a crack in the unified position of the MOA board. That board, by the way, meets Wednesday.
The MOA responded to the musicians' meeting with a statement, emphasizing its vast resources:
"We are pleased to hear the musicians referenced today their desire to reach a negotiated settlement. The Minnesota Orchestral Association raises millions of dollars each year to support the musicians' salaries. It offers hundreds of performances in the community to audiences reaching more than 350,000 people and organizes outreach events for 85,000 music lovers each year. Clearly, we are a stronger organization with much greater reach when we are together. We very much hope the musicians will soon agree to join us at the bargaining table."
Does the scheduling of a wide variety of school programs and full-blown concerts mean that the musicians are moving toward a complete break-away from the MOA?
“Our No. 1 goal is to come to a contract agreement,” said Tim Zavadil, clarinetist for the orchestra and the head of the musicians’ bargaining committee. “But short of that, we have to have plans.”
The MOA made a similar announcement via its report to the city of Minneapolis last week. The MOA said that it had a Plan B, if a settlement with the musicians is not reached.
Separating from the MOA — starting with a new name — is a huge step. But clearly it has been talked about among musicians, who have been buoyed by support they’ve received locally as well as from symphonies and musicians’ unions around the country.
Minnesota Orchestra musicians have performed with 80 different symphony orchestras during the lockout, ranging from the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic.
Performing elsewhere, said violinist David Brubaker, has increased his appreciation toward what he described as the special skill and work ethic of the Minnesota Orchestra.
At this meeting, Brubaker performed in a quartet along with violinist Rebecca Corruccini, cellist Anthony Ross and violist Michael Adams. Their performance made this a very unusual public meeting/news conference.
The four had practiced for two hours on Sunday, put in another hour before the meeting and were lights-out spectacular at a time of day and in a pretty unusual performance space for A-team musicians.
Even in this small room with “terrible acoustics” on a cold December morning, Adams admitted to being nervous when the musicians sat down to play, only a couple of feet from where TV cameras were stationed.
What was on Brubaker’s mind when he drove to the Hilton for this performance? Wasn’t he afraid that his fingers would freeze in place making the trip?
“I tell you what I was thinking,’’ said Brubaker. “I can’t imagine how people in construction can work outside. Whatever they’re getting paid, it’s not enough.”
Spoken like a blue-collar union man.
The event not only gave musicians a chance to display their special talents, but more importantly, a chance to get their message out.
Throughout the negotiation, musicians have been criticized for not coming up with counter-proposals to the deep cuts proposed by the MOA. Those cuts, the MOA has insisted, are necessary for the orchestra’s long-term sustainability.
At this session, musicians told their most ardent supporters that they’ve made 10 counter-proposals. Most of those proposals, they said, have included pay cuts and other cost-saving measures. All have been rejected, they said.
Cellist Ross, whose public comments have been more militant than those of many musicians, told a story that he believes shows both the musicians’ passion and their desire to resolve the conflict.
“I had a moment of revelation recently,” Ross said. “I was at an event recently and a woman who was about 10 years older than me was looking at me. Finally she said, ‘You’re that angry cello player, aren’t you?”
“My face does not lie. How can we not be angry? But our No. 1 goal is to get back with the MOA and start rebuilding now.”
Still, there has to be an option, he said. And that means concerts.
“What this orchestra is doing is because we love the music and we’re family,” Ross said. “And you, the people here and in our audiences, are part of that family. We will not let you down. I promise.”
Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday that he will appoint successors to Minnesota Court of Appeals Judges Thomas J. Kalitowski and Terri J. Stoneburne, who plan to retire in April.
The Commission on Judicial Selection will review applications and make recommendations to Dayton. The deadline for applications is Jan. 13. Applications can be requested from Andrew Olson, appointments coordinator, at email@example.com.
Kalitowski, a former commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was appointed to the court in 1987 by Gov. Rudy Perpich.
Stoneburner was a district court judge when she was appointed to the
Appeals Court by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2000.
South St. Paul Republican David Gerson kicked off his second challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. John Kline on Monday.
Gerson, whose website describes the 46-year-old as a "pro-life, pro-business, limited-government conservative who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Republican platform," will seek the 2nd District GOP's endorsement in the race, though he won't challenge Kline to a primary campaign, as he did last year.
Gerson told Minnesota Public Radio he opposes Kline's vote to raise the federal debt limit, as well as support for bills that have led to government surveillance programs.
"He says that he's for limited government and free markets and individual liberty but he doesn't vote that way," Gerson told MPR. "He's voting for bigger government, debt increases and taking away our liberty."
Kline has strong support with the GOP establishment in Minnesota and in D.C. and he took 85 percent of the vote in the primary last year. Gerson lent his campaign nearly $50,000 last cycle but hasn't raised much money beyond that, just $2,165 last year and $5,100 this year.
Update: In a statement, Kline spokesman Troy Young noted Gerson had originally sought the Republican endorsement in Minnesota's 5th District last year before challenging Kline, showing "complete contempt and disregard for the endorsement" in doing so.
"As a Marine and Minnesotan, Kline has built a lifelong reputation on character, integrity, and honesty while Mr. Gerson bases his campaign on falsehoods and half-truths," Young said. "Why should Gerson be trusted?"
Gerson told the Star Tribune last year was more about sending a message to Kline than anything else; he's actively talking to GOP activists and groups this time around, and he has the former Ron Paul presidential campaign coordinator as co-chair of his campaign.OAS_AD("Middle");
"My 2012 campaign resonated with activists in the Second District," Gerson said in a statement. "In 2012 I was considered just one of those Tea Party candidates out to primary electable Republicans. This time around, however, my campaign is being taken seriously, and frankly, we're going about the campaign more professionally."
Three Democrats have announced campaigns in the 2nd District, including Mike Obermueller, whom Kline defeated in the general election last year. Democrats view the district as a potential pick-up opportunity.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minnesota-based righty radio talker Jason Lewis, who also writes op-eds for the Strib, used that latter platform on Sunday to argue that the recent change in the U.S. Senate filibuster rule violates the Framers' intentions, even as he acknowledged that the Framers expressed no such intentions.
Lewis is smart, glib and extremely successful. He likes the history of the founding and refers to it often but always in the authorized righty way wherein the Framers' chief intention was to evince their disapproval of 21st-century liberalism. OK, thanks to the First Amendment, he has a right to do that. But his Strib piece of Sunday, headlined: "Filibuster's Demise Harms Democracy," threw history and logic into, well, the dustbin of history and logic.
So, just to be clear, the Framers did not put the filibuster into Constitution. In fact, it is not mentioned in the Constitution, which Lewis apparently knows. But via a transparent sleight of illogic, he staples the filibuster to their unexpressed intentions. Here's the Lewis passage:
The Constitution, while not mentioning the filibuster itself, contains five explicit provisions for Senate supermajorities. Indeed, the Senate owes its very existence to the notion that government action required much more than a slim majority vote — it requires a consensus. That’s why there are two senators allotted per each state, regardless of population. And why, up until 1913, senators were chosen through state legislatures and not by direct vote.
Let's briefly deconstruct that. The authors of the Constitution considered whether certain types of congressional actions should require more than a majority vote, and they answered yes, and they specified them. It takes, for example, a two-thirds vote of the Senate to ratify a treaty. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict a president of an impeachable offense. It takes two-thirds of both houses to refer a proposed constitutional amendment to the states for ratification, and then it takes three-fourths of the states to ratify.
The Framers also required that many presidential nominations — cabinet members and federal judges — be subjected to the "advice and consent" of the Senate. But that was not one of the matters for which the Framers required a supermajority. They might have. They could have. They didn't. Apparently, their obvious intention to do that slipped their minds.
A few decades later, senators figured out that a minority could block ordinary legislation from a final vote by talking and refusing the yield the floor. The first real filibuster occurred in 1837 . Nothing to do with the Framers, all of whom were dead. Just a glitch in the Senate rules. (The Constitution leaves it up to each House of Congress to set its own rules, and does not require a supermajority to make or change a rule.)
For about the next 100 years, a single senator could prevent a vote by filibustering. Does one gather that Lewis thinks this was a good thing? Was this the Framers' intent?
Fast forward to World War I. The isolationist wing of the Senate filibustered a bill that had overwhelming support to allow President Woodrow Wilson to arm merchant ships. Most of the Senate and most of the country was outraged that a small group could veto the wish of the president, the majority of the Senate and the majority of the country. The result was the first cloture rule, adopted in 1917, which required a two-thirds vote to force a vote on a bill. Was this Lewis' golden age, when one-third of the Senate could trump the other two-thirds and the majority of the House and the president? Since it was the product of a 1917 rule change, could it have much to do with the Framers' vision?
For most of the 20th century, the true golden age of the filibuster, the main accomplishment of the filibuster rule was to enable southern senators to block all civil rights bills. Defenders of the filibuster should ask themselves this question: Not counting the fictional one in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," what were the terrible laws and appointments that would have happened in America if they had not been blocked by a brave and highly principled filibuster? So far, we've got a law allowing the president to arm ships in time of war, and we've got decades of blocked efforts to grant any measure of equal rights to southern blacks.
I am actually not aware of an example that makes the filibuster look good in retrospect, but maybe there is one. Mr. Lewis, do you have one?
The last big historical development was in 1975, featuring our own Walter Mondale during his Senate days, when the number of votes needed to cut off debate on most matters was lowered to three-fifths, or 60 votes.
Back to Jason Lewis, who wrote of the recent change in the filibuster rule by the current Democratic majority:
It was this out-of-control Senate leadership that actually voted to end the 60-vote supermajority requirement so much a part of the founders’ wisdom.
The 60-vote supermajority was a gift from the Framers except for the small historical problem that it dates from 1975. Does Lewis know any of this history? I suspect he does but it is too inconvenient to mention.
I will gas on no further (at the moment). If any reader, including Mr. Lewis cares about filibuster history, here's a great summary by Sarah Binder, one of the leading scholars on that history.
MPR noticed the thing I noticed, which is the large estimated cost of mitigating the proposed northern Minnesota mine into the future. They also noticed another number: 500 years. That’s how long some form of mitigation would be required on the mine site, even after the end of mining there.
It’s hard to imagine 500 years into the present, so let’s look back 500 years into the past:
- Slavery was legal all over the world.
- Women had no rights almost anywhere.
- Nearly half of all children failed to reach adulthood.
- Henry VIII was King of England.
- The pocket handkerchief was invented.
- Michelangelo began work on the statue David. (BONUS: He probably released sulfides by cutting rock) A few years later he would be commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
- A young Martin Luther vowed to become a monk after nearly being struck by lightning. (BONUS: His father owned a copper mine).
- Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed on the coast of Florida in search of the mythical Fountain of Youth.
- In China, the hot new thing was a little dynasty called the Ming.
- Christopher Columbus returned to Europe from his fourth expedition to the “New World.”
- Northern Minnesota was Dakota Country. The Ojibwe people still lived further east, neither group having yet encountered Europeans.
I’m sure all of these people were capable of making promises about what the next 500 years would bring, too. I think it’s reasonable to assume, however, that certain things did not go as planned.
All this being said, all mining regions must mitigate the costs of mining forever, anyway. Here in northern Minnesota we’re already in the soup. Nothing people can do changes a landscape more than mining. The pits and dumps of the Range are more likely to outlast the architecture. The sad thing is, the main reason for that is that the pits and mines make people afraid to build things that last 500 years.
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Drop a generous tear of condolence today for the Minnesota Vikings after the bizarre events of the final minutes Sunday in the snow, rain and slop in Baltimore.
Never mind their 29-26 defeat, their ninth in 13 games. Ask yourself a question: “Have you ever seen anything more loopy in a football game?
At the finish, there were touchdowns galore -- five of them in just over two minutes. You would have sworn they were falling out of the deranged Maryland sky, except that the sky was already pre-empted by snow, sleet, rain and miscellaneous crud.
Facing the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens and with little to salvage from a dismal season, the Vikings played it hard and relentlessly from end to end, if without a trace of luck when the game turned. It was one thing to lose their best offensive weapon when Adrian Peterson sprained an ankle early in the game. But what boggled all available mathematicians Sunday were the final moments when the teams combined for five touchdowns in exactly 125 seconds.
Five touchdowns! If at home you needed the necessary room anywhere in the middle of the action, you missed half the scoring. For a team like the Vikings, which had already lost eight games out of 12, the loss was hardly a shock. But nobody could have guessed that the game would become all but historic in its swarm of touchdowns at the finish.
It had all of the dicey elements of those pick-up basketball games of “horse” familiar in a thousand gymnasiums: “This one’s left handed with two feet in the air. Match it.” In Baltimore Sunday, somebody always did.
It broke out innocently enough after Joe Flacco had given the Ravens a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 1-yard pass to Ed Dickson. Blair Walsh countered with a pair of Viking field goals to send the teams ultimately into the fourth quarter with Baltimore leading 7-6.
Adrian Peterson was out of the game by then, replaced by a very adequate Toby Gerhart, who was to electrify his team by racing 41 yards to score in the fourth quarter to give the Vikings a very temporary 19-15 lead with a little more than a minute remaining.
But by then, the minutes were lasting forever.
With the Vikings trailing 7-6 to open the fourth quarter, Matt Cassel — who just may be the answer to the Vikings’ quarterback quandary at least for the rest of the year — hit Jerome Simpson with an 8-yard scoring pass. Vikings lead 12-7.
A few minutes later, it got to be pretty hysterical. Joe Flacco hits Dennis Pitta with a 1-yard scoring pass, putting Baltimore ahead 15-12. A few moments later, Gerhart made his run, making it 19-15 for Minnesota.
Then the Vikings kicked off, and Jacoby Jones grabbed the ball and barreled 77 yards to give Baltimore a 22-19 lead. So was it all over right there?
Be serious. The Vikings still had 45 seconds left. Matt Cassel wound up, threw to the emerging rookie star Cordarrelle Patterson racing down field, and the play went 79 yards for a touchdown and a 26-22 Viking lead.
By all that’s fair and holy, the game should have been over with the Vikings winning. Right?
Don’t be naïve. The rules say you have to kick off. And with four seconds showing on the clock, Joe Flacco hit Marlon Brown with a 9-yard pass in the back of the end zone, and the scoring was over.
But for the Vikings, there were fresh discoveries of the potential of some of their young players, especially the multitalented Patterson, who is swiftly developing into a triple threat as a receiver, a kickoff returner and, here and there, a running back lining up with the quarterback.
Years ago, the dismal weather would have been roundly embraced by the Viking teams of antiquity, in the era when the Vikings played in the frostbite purgatory of the old Metropolitan Stadium. There the visiting teams spent their most belligerent moments fighting with each other for access to the hot-air heaters, which were forbidden on the Viking bench by the open air zealot, Bud Grant.
But Sunday they played the game in Baltimore in the sleet and slush and the shifts in fortune, which put the game in the hands of the officials as much as the athletes — to the obvious displeasure of the Viking coach and his players.
When it was over, Leslie Frazier, clearly was offended by a couple of the officiating calls in the climactic moments. But he stopped short of any involved second-guessing. He said he was proud of the way his team performed, especially some of the young players in the Viking secondary when injuries began depleting the defensive backs.
He obviously was aware of what a healthy Adrian Peterson might have meant to his team. Peterson, who had carried the ball just seven times for 13 yards before the injury, was wheeled from the field. He did return to the Viking bench as a spectator and added moral support in the second half.
Gerhart scarcely weakened the Vikings’ running game as a replacement, gaining 89 yards in 15 carries. But no replacement for Peterson can force defenses into the kind of paranoia that the future Hall of Famer provokes.
And he would have been especially valuable in dictating the defensive alignments that are pre-occupied with Peterson and would have given Cassel a wider range of downfield receiving routes with the star running back preoccupying the defense. Under the conditions, Cassel quarterbacked more than adequately, hitting 17 out of 38 passing attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
But Flacco’s three touchdown passes ultimately proved the difference.
When it was over, Leslie Frazier struggled, although not very hard, to conceal his conviction that some of the officiating was loose. A few times blatantly loose. But in the end, he spent more time saluting his team.
His players weren’t as charitable as the coach in blasting the officials for what they saw as a sloppy and one-sided lean in how they called the game.
“They [the Vikings] played hard,” Frazier said. “Both teams did, fighting to get a win.”
He said he saw pass interference on his receivers that should have been called. He praised his team for its effort and some of the younger players in the secondary for elevating their play. He didn’t dwell on the loss his team’s offense absorbed when Peterson went down early in the game; but clearly, he said, it was a critical loss.
He also praised Toby Gerhart for his strong performance replacing Adrian and for his all-around play. What was just as heartening was the performance of some of the Vikings’ younger players, especially the defensive backs, typically Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook, who had played miserably just a week before. In the clutch, the veterans Chad Greenway and Jared Allen held the defense together. None of that happened to be enough.
For the Vikings, now standing at 3-9-1, Philadelphia is next, at the Metrodome Sunday. After that, Cincinnati and, finally, Detroit.
And still nobody knows for certain who will be coaching the Vikings next year, or quarterbacking the Vikings next year — or what will happen next December in the Vikings stopgap open-air stadium if the temperature matches Sunday’s nippy levels in the Twin Cities.
But it can’t be bad enough for the Vikings to long for another Sunday in Baltimore.
A large review of all major studies of vitamin D has found that taking vitamin D supplements does not offer protection against acute respiratory infections or chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.
“It looks increasingly likely that low vitamin D is not a cause but a consequence of ill health,” conclude the editors of the medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, which published the review late last week.
This finding won’t come as any surprise to regular Second Opinion readers. I’ve written many times in recent years (such as here and here) about studies that have debunked the claim that vitamin D supplements lower the risk of various diseases.
In fact, although vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, taking vitamin D supplements has not been shown to protect against bone fractures. Nor have they been found to reduce the pain or progression of knee arthritis.How the study was done
As the authors of this recent review point out, most of the studies that have suggested a link between inadequate blood levels of vitamin D and a greater risk for disease have been observational. But such studies can suggest only a correlation, not a cause-and-effect, between two things. To prove that one thing causes another — say, that vitamin D supplementation prevents heart attacks — scientists must conduct clinical trials in which people are randomly assigned to receive either a treatment (vitamin D supplementation) or a placebo.
For the current review, a team of researchers, led by Dr. Philippe Autier of the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France, compared the findings of 290 observational vitamin D studies with those of 172 randomized clinical trials. They found that the randomized studies did not confirm the findings of the observational ones.
In other words, giving people vitamin D supplements to raise their blood levels of the vitamin did not reduce their risk of developing either acute or chronic disease, even when they had relatively low vitamin D levels at the start of the randomized trial. Nor did the supplements have any effect on the severity or course of disease.
Autier and his colleagues also assessed the effect of vitamin D supplements on glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a type of blood protein that is monitored in people with diabetes. High levels of HbA1c are associated with diabetes-related medical complications.
Although observational studies have reported a correlation between type 2 diabetes and low vitamin D levels, the review’s analysis of 16 randomized trials found that vitamin D supplementation did not reduce HbA1c.
“What this discrepancy suggests,” said Autier in a press statement released with the study, “is that decreases in vitamin D levels are a marker of deteriorating health. Aging and inflammatory processes involved in disease occurrence and clinical course reduce vitamin D concentrations, which would explain why vitamin D deficiency is reported in a wide range of disorders.”Few Americans need supplements
I’m not sure even this thorough examination of the evidence will deter millions of Americans from spending an estimated $600 million on vitamin D supplements every year — especially here in Minnesota, where many people seem to have bought into the notion that our northern latitude robs us from getting sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
But as the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported a few years ago, most Americans under the age of 70 need no more than 600 IUs of vitamin D daily to keep their bones healthy — an amount, say the IOM experts, that seldom requires supplementation.
That’s because almost all of us — yes, including those of living on the Northern Plains — get plenty of the vitamin from our food and from natural sunlight.
A new statewide report on school readiness shows many of Minnesota’s youngest citizens face hurdles that affect their learning in kindergarten and beyond.
At the root of the problem is poverty, says Richard Chase, key author of the first School Readiness Report, which was prepared by Wilder Research for the Minnesota Office of Early Learning.
Not only do one in five of the states’ 420,000 infants, toddlers and preschoolers live in poverty, but of that group about 30 percent are children of color whose poverty rate is a steep 61 percent, Chase says.
Yet the data shows not enough of those youngsters are getting the help they need to succeed.
“We are failing many of our kids, especially in communities of color. It’s sort of an indictment of how much we do not invest in all communities. Why is there no urgency in supporting the children who are most vulnerable?” Chase said in an interview.
The report, intended to set up guidelines to help monitor the state’s progress toward the goal of having every child ready for kindergarten by the year 2020, reflects disparities in education, health and social well-being for these children.
That “place[s] their own and our state’s future prosperity at risk,’’ wrote Chase, the senior research manager at Wilder, in a blog.
“Early childhood policies and practices are too metro-centric, too white-centric and too focused on education and literacy as opposed to the whole child,’’ Chase told me, speaking from almost two decades experience collecting, studying and measuring data concerning the healthy development of young children.
Early childhood, he said is the time to prevent achievement and opportunity gaps for children and to ensure children are brought up in safe, secure environments rich in language and learning to ensure healthy brain development and to help them attain their full potential. Otherwise, disadvantage leads to more disadvantage, he said.
For the report, researchers developed “indicators” of kindergarten-readiness that range from mothers’ mental health and access to prenatal care to a child’s access to preschool education and high-quality childcare. They then gathered U.S. Census and state data to draw a full picture of how Minnesota’s youngest citizens are doing.
The report is not surprising in its conclusions, Chase said, but it is a comprehensive look at Minnesota children under age 6 and shows the need to “change the mindset from closing the achievement gap to promoting opportunity as early as possible.”
In fact, the report was news to some last week. Two early childhood education experts I talked with had not seen it. One, after being emailed the report for comment, said the findings are not new.
“The information is consistent with the 2012 and 2013 reports produced by the Minneapolis Foundation, entitled “One Minneapolis,’’ Jeffrey Hassan, co-author of “Best in Class; How We Closed the 5 Gaps of Academic Achievement,’’ responded by email.
According to the latest report, only 60 percent of all Minnesota’s kindergartners “demonstrate readiness for school” with children from lower-income families, Latino children and American Indian children having the lowest rates of kindergarten-readiness.
Further, only one-third of 3-year-olds receive the health and developmental screenings that could head off future problems.
Chase points to other highlights.
- In 2011 data, access to adequate or better prenatal care, which can affect a child’s healthy birth and development, is 12 to 37 percentage points lower for mothers of color than for white mothers.
- Mothers of color report higher rates of depression, which affects their children as well. “A mother’s mental health can impact her baby’s brain development and the healthy attachment between parent and child which can affect the child’s physical and mental health and ability to learn,’’ Chase wrote. Overall, about 12 percent of babies have mothers with a history of depression, he said, compared to 2010 data that shows 18 percent of African-American and 28 percent of American Indian mothers reporting depression.
- “Early Head Start and Head Start are serving more children than ever before but cannot keep up with the growth of eligible children in poverty.” In 2013, those preschool educational programs had only enough slots to enroll about 19 percent of low-wealth children under 6, he said.
- “Children of color have higher rates of out-of-home placement.” In 2011 about 3,000 children under age 6 were living in “out-of-home placement or foster care with large disparities for American Indian and black children,” Chase wrote, often because of “reported abuse and neglect.”
“It’s time to stop documenting these things and actually take steps to prevent these disparities. They’re not inevitable, they’re preventable,” Chase said, pointing to the positive efforts of the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis, St. Paul Promise Neighborhood and smaller, early childhood initiatives around the state.
Show of hands: How many of you remember Willie Horton?
OK, so a few of you are too young. How about Trayvon Martin?
No matter your frame of reference, you’re likely to recognize the strategy at play in the most recent mailing sent out by Better Ed, the education policy wing of the local think tank Intellectual Takeout.
Front and center on the postcard is the business end of a handgun. The hand wrapped around its grip extends out from a shadowy figure in a black hoodie.
“Think about it,” says the headline. “High school dropouts commit 75 percent of crime. Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) graduates only 50 percent of their students.”
The last two lines — “It’s time to shift. Who’s the roadblock?” — are printed atop the faint outline of a group of picketers, presumably the teachers union. But the main image is so inflammatory the detail is lost.
In fact I had looked at it a dozen times before a friend pointed out that hand was white. I was stunned to realize he’s right. The gunman wears a ski mask, which makes him look dark-skinned, and very, very much like the avatar many people put on Facebook and Twitter when George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin.
If you make it that far, the message on the other side essentially is that MPS spends more than St. Paul Public Schools and creates mostly violence. The district's "Shift" initiative — which has nothing to do with crime or budget-cutting — isn't mentioned again, nor is its effort to persuade its teachers to agree to contract changes that would facilitate gap-closing strategies.
Do Better Ed’s numbers add up? Depending on how creative one’s accounting is, maybe. But that’s not the point. Did Michael Dukakis free Willie Horton to kill again?The message under the message
“I just looked at it and I was like, are you serious?” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, a professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School and the director of the Community Justice Project. “They know there’s a racial component whether they articulate it or not. They know that’s the message under the message.”
Back in March I wrote about Better Ed’s first postcard, which had a picture of a doe-eyed Latina child holding a cardboard sign, off-ramp-beggar-style, that said, “I need change, not just more $.”
The card directed readers to Better Ed’s website, where blog posts expand on the MPS-as-expensive-sinkhole argument. Again, debunk-able. And again, most likely just white noise accompanying the emotionally charged imagery.
Better EdThe postcard recently sent by Better Ed.
The new postcard was followed by an e-mail bearing the hoodied thug photo as well as text claiming that the “ruffled feathers” that it caused had finally shaken the Twin Cities from complacency and focused attention on the magnitude of the crisis facing MPS schools.
“While we received good feedback, we also received a few e-mails and Facebook messages from people who were shocked and offended by it. Even Mayor [R.T.] Rybak took the time to message us publicly on Facebook, stating:
“‘I believe very strongly that we have an education crisis that needs immediate action. However I did not agree with the direction of the postcard I received from you.’
“Are we surprised that a postcard with an image of a gun would be shocking or disagreeable to some folks? Not at all.
“Are we surprised that some folks wouldn’t like a postcard pointing out that there are correlations between crime and poor educations? Of course not.
“But what is surprising, and sad, is that it took an image of a gun to get more people talking about Minneapolis Public Schools after more than a decade of neglect.”
It took an inflammatory postcard to draw Rybak’s attention to the challenges facing Minneapolis’ schools? The same Rybak who will go to work Jan. 2, the day after he leaves office, for Generation Next, a regional initiative to focus policy efforts and funding on educational programs and strategies that work?'A huge leap'
Nor is the correlation between crime and graduation rates an accurate picture, Levy-Pounds added. The crime rate includes some traffic offenses and lots of nonviolent offenses such as writing bad checks.
“They have made a huge leap without providing any evidentiary support for the claims,” she said.
There’s one final bit of truthifying that needs to occur before this post comes to a close. The Better Ed communications include a chart that supposedly shows St. Paul doing more with less.
“We were even more pleased to find the Star Tribune joining us in the comparison! On Sunday, December 1, 2013, the paper published the following chart,” the follow-up e-mail continued.
“Now, there are some differences between the charts due to the time of publishing and some things being left off of either chart, but overall the fact that finally one of the major papers in town is pointing out the shocking difference, too, is fantastic.”
The accompanying link leads to the Star Tribune chart — and to a story that explains, in detail, why St. Paul’s higher graduation rate can’t be equated to dramatically better performance.
But again, the data probably isn’t the point. “They’re preying on people’s fears and stereotypes,” said Levy-Pounds. “It’s important for readers to ask critical questions and not fall into the trap of reinforcing stereotypes about communities of color, and in particular youth.”
Last week, two of the region’s premier community-building organizations — OTA and Pollen — announced their merger. I spoke to OTA-Pollen’s co-executive directors for a deeper view of how the organization hopes to help residents of Minnesota and the Dakotas build connections and spark transformative thinking throughout the region.
The following conversation with Hugh Weber (HW), Jamie Millard (JM) — a former colleague of mine at Fast Horse — and Meghan Murphy (MM) has been condensed for publication.
MinnPost: Hugh, you’ve said, “We’re better together than individually.” Is that the impetus behind this organization?
HW: I think the foundation is the belief that per capita, we have the same capacity in this region as anywhere on the planet — whether it’s entrepreneurialism, creativity or community-building. But we’re more spread out. Even in the metro areas, there’s this feeling of isolation. We have some very well-knit communities, but we have very little cross-sector, cross-geographic collaboration.
JM: That’s also the way OTA and Pollen approached this merger. We knew we’d be better together: more efficient, better able to use grant dollars, better able to share admin costs and be strategically aligned with shared values.
MP: You have carved out this three-state area to work in. Is there really a set of shared values in this little corner of the world?
MM: I think there is absolutely a shared set of values. And we’re certain that our storytelling will really be able to engage the region. A good story is a good story, and we’re positive that we can truly harness that and engage this community.
MP: How is OTA-Pollen going to fit in as a media outlet — or is it? Are you a media outlet or a community outlet?
JM: I would say that we’re definitely not a publishing outlet, even though we do publishing. So when we talk about storytelling, what we’re talking about is a community-building effort, a capacity-building nonprofit that goes throughout Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota to find transformational individuals who live in those communities. Whether it’s metro or rural, we want to spark inspiration to show individuals in other communities how “someone like me” can also create change. And we believe they’re the kind of stories the traditional media don’t spend enough time spotlighting — because they’re concerned with advertising dollars, they’re concerned with click-through rates, they’re concerned with their next sponsorship opportunity.
MP: At some point in your organization’s future, though, aren’t you going to have to start worrying about things like sponsorships and dollars?
HW: It’s a fair question, and it’s something that we’re in the exploration stage on. From the beginning, we’ve seen the Bush Foundation investment as a starting point. But while they’re the primary partner at this point, they’re not the only partner, nor will they be in the future. There’s absolutely a need for us to grow partnerships and sponsorships.
How I would differentiate that from advertisers is the nature with which we’ve engaged those partners. These are individuals that we’ve engaged in a long-term series of conversations about their values and the development of the community and the region. And we’ve been assured that the commitment is to the mission — not to eyeballs, clicks or logo visibility. I anticipate us really embracing that same mentality going forward. And while we’re not free to share specifics right now, we’re working on partnerships with very well-established organizations in the three states. And their commitment is to growing alongside of us.
JM: It’s the native advertising/sponsored content model, and we have an amazing opportunity to redefine how that works. Not many startup organizations have a three-year grace period to prove their concept. So we have the biggest hopes and dreams for what we can accomplish.
MP: Meghan, you’re coming from a literary background at Paper Darts magazine. Do you hope to bring that literary sense to bear in your storytelling, or will you get caught up in feeding the beast every day like they do at the newspaper?
MM: I’m just so excited to take what we’ve learned at Paper Darts magazine and pull it deeper into OTA-Pollen. We have really been able to surround ourselves with some of the best writers in our region already through Paper Darts. They understand stories so beautifully, and we’re excited to empower some of those writers to use their passion and their skills and their love of the community to transform non-fiction writing as we know it in our region — to take the theory behind poetry and short stories and bring that into non-fiction journalism.
We’re also really excited to bring art into our non-fiction — to have artists work alongside the writers to create a deeply visual kind of experience that you just don’t find other places. We’ve seen that larger platforms are really striving for this: places like the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Pitchfork. We see that as something that we can be very competitive in: creating a new user experience.
MP: What kind of social media presence will the organization have?
JM: Both organizations have had their own social media presence. We’re working on merging those, and hopefully by April we’ll have one real solid organizational brand. At our core, if our mission is to be doing network-building and making connections, then we have to bring a social mentality to everything we do. We’re working to build a transparent, hyper-aggressive social mentality, both as individuals who work here and as an organization. You’re really looking at a team that understands social media and online community building.
MP: You’re bringing together the digital world and the physical world — not only having digital communities but also having physical gatherings. Why is it still important for people to connect physically — to be in the same room and share an experience?
HW: It comes from a core belief that I think we all have — the balance of creative collisions and connections. In this region, where folks have grown up in smaller towns, and they know everyone’s grandfather, there’s this sense that connections are the coin of the realm. These are sorts of relationships that we develop over cups of coffee and meals over time. There’s a real trust that builds in this kind of meaningful long-term engagement.
The flip side of that is collision, which is a short-term conversation, the brief moment, the serendipitous encounter. I think those are often overlooked. If we disregard those collision moments, we’re missing something important in what network-building does. So at the core of those collision and connection moments is to be intentional in network building. Networking has to be strategic.
With OTA we saw incredible spikes of engagement and empowerment coming out of our events. But within months, that excitement had returned to a baseline. So we realized there was this huge gap. On the Pollen side, there was this great digital presence, but there wasn’t the physical engagement to balance that out and create deeper connections and communal experiences. So both of us had a gap. And bringing those two organizations together really creates a full circle.
MP: How many events would you expect the organization to sponsor or be involved with in a typical year?
HW: At this point, we definitely see growth. But right now, there will be two larger-scale events. We’ve announced an April 4 date in Sioux Falls and a Sept. 12 date in Fargo. So those are two tentpole events that we expect 1,000 to 1,500 people to attend. The next tier of events will be a series of six to eight – we’re calling them “conversations.” And these will be 100 to 150 people, spread throughout the region; Duluth, Rochester, Willmar, Grand Rapids — name a place.
And there’s a third element to the event strategy, which is partnership-based. We’ve had the opportunity to partner already with the Advertising Federation of Rapid City, for example. We don’t want to draw people to a central location and hope they’ll move there. What we want it to be is a place that empowers individuals to return to the place they live, better networked and better supported.
MP: What about the smaller cities? Why should the people from Milbank always have to come to Sioux Falls? Why not have the people from Sioux Falls come to Milbank?
HW: I think our impact will be most deeply felt in those smaller cities. What happens when the CEO of Nike visits Milbank for a day? What does that look like, how does that impact not only the leadership in the business community and the nonprofit community — but also the 16-year-old kid who thinks that everything happens somewhere else? What about when the journalists in eastern South Dakota get to sit down with a senior writer from Fast Company? But that only comes from the ability to bring a full network to bear.
MP: Meghan, as a young person who grew up in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., what were you thinking as a teenager? Could something like this have helped you imagine a greater range of possibilities?
MM: Oh, absolutely. Minneapolis wasn’t even on my radar as a kid —I didn’t even know it existed. I got postcards from the University of Minnesota that had skyscrapers on them, and I was like, “Really? There are skyscrapers in the Midwest?” I thought everybody had to go the New York to get their dream job. If there had been a network like this when I was growing up, it would have been huge.
This article was written for the Walker Art Center, which has granted MinnPost permission to republish it.
“My theory is that we’re not a body and a mind; that we are one whole and no matter what we do, this gesture is going to affect what happens in my mind and my heart. We’re all inter-related, and I feel we aren’t educated in that in any way.”
— Sage Cowles, in a 2012 interview for the Minnesota Dance Pioneers Oral History Project
Mother, wife, grandmother, friend. Philanthropist, fundraiser, benefactor. Networker, cajoler. Feminist, political activist, educator. Softball and fitness enthusiast. Artist: choreographer, performer, dancer. Sage Cowles — who passed away November 21 at age 88 — wore all of these labels, and their attendant responsibilities, with the sincerity and lightness to which we’d all become accustomed. Was there anything out of her prodigious wheelhouse? Seemingly not.
Sage and her husband, John Cowles, Jr. (who passed away in 2012), are perhaps best known publicly because of their remarkable generosity, philanthropic leadership, and financial largesse. But Sage is also remembered, particularly in the dance community, for something more elemental.
“The key thing that people remember about Sage is that she was an artist,” says Philip Bither, the Walker Art Center’s Senior Curator of Performing Arts. “She had the sensibility of an artist, the openness, and the pure support of innovation that creative artists have for one another.” And that, he adds, informed her philanthropy is unusual ways.
In talks and interviews at the Walker, Sage spoke to artists she helped support, such as Valda Setterfield and her great pal Merce Cunningham, “like a fellow artist and a friend, not a funder,” Bither says. Sage would invite local dancers to her cabin where they could work freely: they only needed to make her dinner. She frequently hosted dinners and other gatherings for dance artists at her home, where she could be found chatting with her fellow artists. Deborah Jinza Thayer, dancer and choreographer, was her great friend; when Thayer was hurt in a freak accident, Sage helped Thayer work her body back to health.
Sage faithfully attended shows at the Walker, her namesake Cowles Center, and the Northrop Dance Series. But she was really keen on new and experimental local work at smaller venues like the Southern Theater, Red Eye, and Laurie Van Wieren’s 9 X 22 showcase at the Bryant Lake Bowl. In these more intimate theaters she could more easily talk with the performers.'Driven by her own curiosity'
“The thing about Sage I so appreciated was that she was driven by her own curiosity about things and about people,” says Linda Shapiro, who with Leigh Dillard founded New Dance Ensemble in the 1990s, a venture Sage supported. “There wasn’t any small talk. She was interested in you, in your work. The fact that she was a dancer made a difference when she approached and appreciated dancers. She got what was involved.”
Dance was her heart. Sage and John helped make the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts a reality, giving Minnesota its long-awaited flagship for dance; and helped establish the Sage Cowles Land Grant Chair in Dance at the University of Minnesota, which brings in visiting artists — and many stayed and further enriched the Twin Cities dance community. In 2005, the Sage Awards for Dance were created to honor her profound contributions. In 2001, the Ordway Center honored Sage and John with a Sally Award for their decades-long support of the arts.
Sage and John’s contributions to the Walker Art Center specifically include a $1 million gift for Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (resulting in the Cowles Conservatory), and another gift toward the Herzog & de Meuron-designed expansion. Sage was a member of the Patron’s Circle for more than 25 years and a founding member of the Producers’ Council (whose members provide philanthropic leadership in support of the performing arts program).
Sage supported the multidisciplinary exhibition Art Performs Life in 1998, which featured the work of Cunningham, Meredith Monk, and Bill T. Jones. She was involved “in one way of another, from the big picture to the smallest detail,” Bither says, in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s 15-plus engagements in the Twin Cities, as well as in bringing Cunningham and John Cage’s monumental Ocean to a quarry near St. Cloud in 2008. Sage has also given a number of visual art works to the Walker, including work by Michelangelo Pistoletto, Michael Goldberg, Donald Judd, Barry Le Va, Glenn Ligon, and Kris Martin.
Moreover, Sage’s cultural leadership and “magnetic personality drove people to her,” Bither says. “Aside from the direct contributions the Cowles’ made, they were a model for other people, for the next generation of funders to be responsible corporate and community leaders. So many loved and believed in Sage, that if she was behind something, they would be too. And not just in funding major cultural institutions, but small grass roots organizations, too. Sage in particular understood the ecology of the arts scene, the dance scene, and was always looking for ways support and keep the ecology going.”
And her influence extended beyond the arts. The Cowles’ funding of the University of Minnesota’s Jane Sage Cowles Stadium for softball indicated the couple’s dedication to community service. Sage served on the board of Planned Parenthood. She and John were fellows at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, where she taught the other fellows to engage with their bodies during movement workshops and wrote a paper calling for a more holistic educational model as the body isn’t “a second-class citizen, separate from the mind.”
Sage had “a real social vision,” says choreographer Bill T. Jones. “Sage and John were interested in Change with a capital C, which earned her high marks in my way of thinking.” Dance, and Sage’s ongoing engagement and curiosity about the body, remained a fundamental part of her life, however.The artist: In her own words
Jane Sage Fuller was born on May 5, 1925, in Paris: Her father was in graduate school there. When she was three months old, the family moved to Bedford, New York. Her father, Charles Fuller, was an architect. Her mother, Jane White, was a sculptor. After her parents divorced, Sage’s mother married Cass Canfield, who became the chairman of Harper & Row.
Sage studied rhythmic exercise with Portia Mansfield, who came to her school; and tap, folk, and ballet at the Ned Wayburn School of Dance in New York City. She studied ballet privately with Ella Degonava, and she went to the Perry/Mansfield Summer Camp, where she became assistant ballet teacher and actress Julie Harris was her roommate. She went to Lisa Gardner’s School of Ballet in Washington, DC, then found a family in New York she could stay with while studying dance.
“I lived on 55th Street, between Madison and Park,” Sage told me when I interviewed her in 2012 for the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Dance Pioneers Oral History Project (from which all of the following quotes are taken). “I walked half a block to the New York Tutoring School where I could take three-quarters of an hour of a little history, a little French, maybe a little math, and then I could walk four blocks to 59th Street where the School of American Ballet was. Heaven!”
But “as soon as I got toe shoes, I knew I was in the wrong pew,” she said. “That and the fact that the repertory is all about swans and myths and fairytales.”
While at the School of American Ballet, Sage met Cunningham, who had just been asked to join Martha Graham’s company. She saw Cunningham perform at Jean Erdman’s studio in 1944. The piece was The Root of the Unfocused, with music by John Cage. “I just knew I had never seen anything that interested me as much as that.”
In the mid-1940s, Sage had been studying international relations “because I thought somebody had to focus on saving the world and I’d better get out there,” but was also shopping for a new college. Only the University of Wisconsin–Madison responded, so “I packed a suitcase, and what did I find there? Margaret H’Doubler.”Toured with Wisconsin Dance Group
She earned a BA in art history, but spent most of her time studying with H’Doubler and dancing with Mary Hinkson, Matt Turney, and Miriam Cole. Together they started the Wisconsin Dance Group (which included nine percussionists) and toured to Toronto and across the Midwest in a 1933 Buick, earning $50 a performance.
“Our goal was to be the intermediary between the lay audience and the professionals,” Sage explained. The opening line of their lecture-demo was: “We live in a world of movement.” The group lasted two summers.
Sage never had any intention of marrying or having children, she said. But she married fellow UW-Madison student Edmundo Flores and moved to Mexico, where she met Rosa Reyna and Raquelle Gutierrez, who had studied with Anna Sokolow. She had her first child, Tessa. When she and Edmundo knew the marriage wasn’t working — but had resolved stay friends — Sage traveled to New York City, “baby on hip,” for her sister’s wedding. There she met John.
When he approached her, she said, “I’m sorry, but I’ve been out in the world, and I have a baby.” She got a job as a chorus girl in Bless You All, choreographed by Helen Tamaris, who was married to Daniel Nagrin. Pearl Bailey was the box-office draw. Sage’s partner for the Charleston was Bertram Ross. “I couldn’t believe I was being paid to have so much fun!” She also danced in The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, a live Saturday-night television program.
One night John picked her up backstage and took her out. “He said, ‘You know, I would like to see more of you, but this may not be a good time for you.’ It was such a brilliant statement; I almost dropped everything and said, ‘You’re for me.’ But no. I said, ‘You are absolutely right. This is a lousy time.’ Edmundo and I weren’t divorced, and I wasn’t in any hurry to be making big decisions about this. So I took a deep breath and said, ‘I would like to see you again but not now.’ So he went away and he came back six months later.”
After John and Sage married, they lived for a time in Kansas (John was in the Army at Fort Riley). When they moved to Minneapolis, Sage began dancing with Nancy Hauser. She taught for Hauser and at the YWCA. Sage and a group of other dancing mothers started the Dancers’ Forum. Then, after her children Jane, Fuller and Jay were born, she and John became involved with starting the Highcroft Country Day School and other social and civic causes. She was in her 40s and “all tangled up, not in dance at all, but in civil rights, kids, school, parents, and I was interested in all of them, but it didn’t feed me.”
In the 1970s, Sage became involved with dance therapy and worked with autistic children at Washburn Child Guidance Center, after which she developed her “I Can, I Can Choose, and I Can Change” workshops for people uneasy in their bodies and needing to make changes in their lives.
At this time, Sage said, “really a lot of my energy was for Merce.” After years of fundraising, she became a board member of Cunningham’s company. “My feeling was I was the luckiest person alive to be on Merce’s board, because if you asked me who in the dance world would you like to support and work for, it would have been Merce.”
She did support several individual dance companies in the Twin Cities, but “was looking for the umbrella, and that’s what made me want to put my energy into MICA [Minnesota Independent Choreographers Association] when Judith Mirus and I finally connected and had a conversation.” In addition to her work with MICA, Sage continued to perform.
She and John lived for a time in the Flash Electric Company building downtown, where they helped pioneer the City of Minneapolis’ revitalization of the Mississippi riverfront. Their place included a dance studio, where Sage taught workshops, invited choreographers to rehearse and perform, and hosted receptions for dance artists and critics.Experimental works with film
In the 1970s, Sage collaborated with St. Paul filmmaker Molly Davies to produce a series of experimental works in which the filmed moving image and the live moving performer (always the same person, Sage) were juxtaposed in space and time. In 2005, the two now-older women introduced and showed excerpts from these explorations in a piece titled Space, Time and Illusion. Sage also recreated her role.
“The original piece was so ahead of its time, with its mix of media and live performance,” Bither says. “Then seeing a 20-something Sage on film, juxtaposed with a 70-something Sage on stage, made the piece elegiac in its tone.” Sage had also performed Sage Time and Again, a work with film by Davies in Walker Auditorium.
Cowles also performed as part of the 1993 Walker exhibition In the Spirit of Fluxus: “My younger son [Fuller, a sculptor] came up to me after and said, ‘Ma, that was not your proudest hour.’ I choreographed something that I thought was pretty tricky and hard on 11 or 13 treadmills.”
She was part of “A Celebration of Collaborations” in 1980 (performing with Shapiro, Loyce Houlton, Emile Buchwald, and Wendy Morris); and was included in the Walker’s New Dance USA festival in 1981, performing A Reminiscence at the Children’s Theatre. She helped choreograph Suzanne Lacy’s The Crystal Quilt, performed in the IDS Center.
A supporter of New Dance Ensemble and choreographer Donna Uchizono, Sage helped bring in Rachel Rosenthal to collaborate with Uchizono and the company, recalls Linda Shapiro. Sage, along with Shapiro and Molly Lynn, performed in the work — “and at one point we danced naked,” Shapiro says. For Sage, it wouldn’t be the last time.'Uncle Tom’s Cabin'
One day Sage and a group of friends asked each other whether anyone had the feeling “there’s still something inside of you that has not gotten out? That has not found expression?” Sage found her answer. It was Bill T. Jones. More specifically, it was performing in Jones’ epic Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land — perhaps most infamously, in the nude.
“He asked me to do things nobody had ever asked me to do before,” Sage said. “I had to speak. I had to shout. I was Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was Sojourner Truth, I was Lula, who seduced and then killed a black man. That’s a pretty good list. The nude was nothing compared to all that.”
“There was something about her standing on that table in that white dress, talking to R. Justice Alan, while she was in the character of Lula,” Jones recalls. The scene was The Dutchman by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka). Lula attempts to seduce Clay (Alan) and calls him an Uncle Tom for not having sex with her. Clay tells the audience: “You never see the pure heart, the pumping black heart… I sit here, in this buttoned-up suit,to keep from cutting all your throats. I mean wantonly.” Lula kills Clay and turns her attention to an even younger black man. It was tough stuff.
“It’s one of those stellar moments in my memory of Sage, watching R. Justice — a recovering heroin addict just out of prison — and Sage going at it on stage,” Jones continues. “She took it as a real, meaty challenge. Willing to try anything. The language is so coarse and abusive. The two of them had great fun. She told me that every night, before that part, they’d give each a knowing look and say ‘Come on, let’s give ‘em hell.’ They had a real relationship.”
Sage recalled: “You know if you care about justice in the world and inequities and any kind of discrimination, [Jones’ piece] just fed into all the things that John and I both cared deeply about. As a part of that show, every night, a local minister or rabbi or somebody from the church … was invited to come on stage and talk with Bill … about the Book of Job. Well, that was probably the highlight of the evening, where Bill was ever ready to say, ‘Well, if you believe that, why aren’t you more aggressive about fill-in-the-blanks.’ We were so proud!”Last thoughts
“Sage made so many contributions to dance, it’s more effective to talk about her influence as a whole,” Shapiro says. “I really think it was her spirit. She had plenty of money. But more important is that she was always there, at performances, not just the big venues, but lofts, off beat places. People felt buoyed up by her; that someone of her caliber and influence really cared about dance. Sage elevated the visibility of dance in the community. And she wasn’t gushy. She said what she thought.”
When I asked her, during our interviews, how she defined herself, Sage said she often struggled to come up with an answer. Then, “it suddenly popped out, ‘I’m a dance activist.’” she said. “And that covers such a broad spectrum of things that I think that’s a good one for me.”
Camille LeFevre is an arts journalist in the Twin Cities who also once had the pleasure of dancing with Sage and John at a wedding under a tent out in the country.
The Republican Party of Minnesota is moving out of the power zone that surrounds the state Capitol in St. Paul and heading into a Minneapolis neighborhood where residents are likely to have more allegiance to the DFL.
On Jan. 31, the GOP headquarters moves from 525 Park St. to 2200 E. Franklin Ave. in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. Nearby are the University of Minnesota and Augsburg College and the Christo Rey and Minnesota Transitions charter high schools.
Party Chair Keith Downey says the move across town and demographic sectors was a strategic decision as well a financial one.
“We are trying to send a signal that’s real and substantive,” Downey said in an interview. “Frankly our ideas and solutions are right for new American immigrants, people struggling with employment, and students.”
From a practical standpoint, he said, the space is more technologically advanced, a third less in cost and well-located in terms of highway access.
Downey said the headquarters is likely to host an open house after he and the staff gets settled but that he does not intend to wait to get involved in the community.
“Just the fact that you are in the neighborhood, there are opportunities to serve the neighborhood,” he said.
A “dispensable luxury” … Chris Serres of the Strib writes: “[D]rug and alcohol detoxification centers like the one on Chicago Avenue are fast becoming relics of the past. Quietly and with little debate, more than half of the licensed detox centers in Minnesota have shut down in recent years. There are now just 23 in the state, down from nearly 50 two decades ago, as counties from the Iron Range to the Red River Valley have sought to cut costs. The network of treatment centers grew rapidly in small towns and cities across the state in the 1970s, a period when Minnesota sought to decriminalize public intoxication and create safe, inexpensive alternatives to county jails and hospital ERs. Today in many counties, detoxification is seen as a dispensable luxury for a small population of chronic alcoholics, many of them homeless or mentally ill — even though the patients also come from comfortable homes in prosperous communities.”
Do you have a wayward molar that needs therapy? MPR’s Lorna Benson writes: “Over the past two years universities have trained, and the state has licensed, 28 dental therapists, practitioners who perform many basic dental procedures that previously only a dentist would do. Dental therapy was created to provide care in areas of the state where dentists are scarce, or unwilling to accept Medicaid coverage. Minnesota is one of just two states that are using the new profession to reach underserved patients. … Her patients are primarily low-income children and pregnant women. They usually have no dental insurance or their coverage is provided through the government's Medicaid program. That plan includes dental care, but many private dentists won't accept Medicaid's low reimbursement rates.”
Another look at the coming wave of police and fire retirements … Nicole Norfleet of the Strib says: “Out of about 10,500 peace officers in the state, an estimated 10 percent could be eligible to retire early by May 31, 2014, after which pension reductions will increase for those who retire before they turn 55. By May, there will be about 105 St. Paul officers age 50 or older and eligible for retirement, about 17 percent of the total active officers. In Minneapolis, 166 officers could retire now, out of 814 sworn officers. About 30 percent of sworn deputies working for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office could be eligible for retirement. Some fear that if a large number of those officers leave all at once, it could mean fewer cops on the street — or at least fewer with experience.”
Curtis Gilbert at MPR has a piece on maneuvering for power on the Minneapolis City Council: “The political change that swept over Minneapolis City Hall in this year's election could sweep a new City Council president into office. Council Member Elizabeth Glidden is challenging Barbara Johnson for the council presidency, a position Johnson has held for the last eight years. Glidden's bid is being fueled by a group of newly elected council members. If she succeeds, it could pull the state's most liberal city council even further to the left. … It's unusual for council members to talk publicly about the selection of the council president. But this year, the campaign is especially intense, and the undecided members are being heavily lobbied. Council member-elect Blong Yang said the choice leaves him torn.”
Smooth move … Raya Zimmerman of the PiPress reports: “A suspected drunken driver rear-ended a police car parked on a roadside with its lights flashing early Sunday in Crystal. Neither the officer nor the five people in the moving vehicle were hurt. Around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the Crystal police officer was in his squad car on County Road 81 and 62nd Avenue North waiting for an electric company to repair a downed power line … Crystal police are investigating the incident, including the suspected drunken driver's speed and blood-alcohol level. [Crystal police spokeswoman Lisa] Vague said icy road conditions did not contribute to accident.” Swear to God, officer, I thought you were a UFO and I was trying to stop an invasion.
Since we won’t see 15 degrees until … Rochelle Olson of the Strib reports: “Hold tight to those steering wheels and go easy on the accelerators. Perilously slick roads won’t be improving any time soon despite round-the-clock efforts by Twin Cities public works departments. Sidewalks and bikeways also pose a threat. ‘Sometimes in a case like this, Mother Nature wins for a while,’ said Mike Kennedy, director of transportation maintenance and repair in Minneapolis. ‘Everything was right to cause the wrong conditions.’ Because of the volume of traffic and the preponderance of on-street parking in Minneapolis and St. Paul, city streets have been in a bad way for the past few days. Before the salt can start gnawing into what Kennedy called the ‘bulletproof’ ice pack now on the roads, the sun must come out and temperatures need to hit at least 15 degrees.”
PiPress business columnist Ed Lotterman sees value in Pope Francis’ message on consumerism: “[I]f consumption really did fall significantly in response to papal urging, total output might fall. That does not necessarily mean that our society would be worse off, that there would be less total happiness or human satisfaction. There is a general phenomenon of ‘diminishing marginal utility’ in which the additional satisfaction people get from additional consumption of something tends to decline as we consume more if it. And that probably applies to consumption in general. As we have more and more things, the increase in our happiness can be small indeed. If our societal values changed so that we got more satisfaction from human interaction and less from consumption, as the pope suggests, this might offset the decline in satisfaction caused by using fewer market goods and services.”
Talk about a guy with a grudge … Sally Jo Sorensen, at Bluestem Prairie, let’s us know: “Failed Second American Revolutionary and Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman has refiled his defamation lawsuit against City Pages blogger Aaron Rupar, cartoonist Ken Avidor, City Pages, Phoenix area media and Voice Media of Denver, court filings in the Florida Middle District court system reveal. As we noted last month in … the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Klayman could refile the lawsuit. Once again, Klayman calls Rupar a ‘radical pro-homosexual activist’ while Avidor is merely a ‘pro-homosexual activist’ who were out to defame Klayman because he represented Bradlee Dean in a separate defamation lawsuit brought against Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, local journalist Andy Birkey and the now-defunct Minnesota Independent.”
Not to get all pedantic about spelling and such … In a post on the return of GOP politician Marty Seifert, blogger Andy Aplikowski writes: “From the people I have talked to, it sounds like the self proclaimed savior and mighty Seifert’s media blitz was easily trumped in Republican circles by the possible entrance of a person unknown outside the Capital inteligencia and umber lobbyist ranks with little to no legislative accomplishment Karin Housley.” Personally, I like my lobbyists in a range of puce tones …
The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.
Minnesota taxpayers could save millions of dollars if state leaders would simply do same painless housecleaning of outdated and obsolete boards and commissions that have been draining nearly $160 million a year from state coffers.
A recent report by the Star Tribune highlighted millions of dollars in government waste on boards and commissions once set up with good intentions but now useless, obsolete or just plain dormant.
The newspaper reported a nuclear waste commission that hasn’t met since 1986, an architectural board that illegally collected $800,000 in fees and dozens of boards and commissions have be unable to fill vacancies by the hundreds. The Board of Invention has never been able to fill any of its positions after being created in the 1990s.
Many of the boards and commissions were established with good intentions. We’re sure many have experts in their fields that provide timely advice on policy issues facing the Legislature. Minnesota’s government has always been responsive to the people and boards and commissions are one way for average citizens to have input on their government.
But there appears to be little management or oversight of some of these boards. They’re not evaluated regularly to determine if they are needed or if they are meeting goals.
The Legislative Auditor had conducted reviews of about 50 of these boards and commissions over the years and found various problems with accountability. One didn’t get a report of spending when it awarded a grant of about $200,000. Another lost tract of $10,000 in receipts. Even the Governor’s Residence Council didn’t keep a required list of receipts of gifts and assets of the governor’s mansion for about three years in the late 1990s.
The Legislature attempted a few years ago to evaluate the effectiveness and need for some boards and commissions. The Republican-led Legislature of 2010 organized a Sunset Commission to do away with some of the boards if there use could not be justified. The bipartisan commission reviewed 40 boards, agencies and commissions but only discontinued one — the Combative Sports Commission — according to the Star Tribune report.
Legislators noted the difficulty in eliminating boards and commissions with resistance often coming from those who came up with these great ideas and other constituencies who apparently vigorously defended the boards.
Gov. Mark Dayton said he sees the problem with boards and commissions as a way for the Legislature to micromanage what should be the duties of the executive branch. It’s gotten to a point where it appears the executive branch cannot carry out some necessary functions because some board is in the way.
Others point to problems filling the boards with qualified applicants. There are currently some 375 open seats on boards and commissions, according to the Star Tribune report.
When Democrats gained control of the 2012 Legislature, they resurrected a form of the Sunset Commission and will soon recommend some 40 boards, commissions or agencies be scrapped.
This is an action that is probably long past due. The point is not that citizen input is important, but board and commissions, like other state agencies, should have to prove their worth by either the value of their recommendations or their ability to suggest efficiencies in state government or improved outcomes. A scorecard of such success of any and all board does not appear to be available.
Board and commissions are only as good as the advice they provide. Citizen or industry input may be important, but if reports from advisory groups continuously sit on a shelf somewhere, one has to question the value of the input.
At some point, the legislative hearing process has to be seen as an equally effective way to get citizen and expert input on policy issues. Creating lots of boards and commissions seems to duplicate that process and muddy the result.
Gov. Dayton has suggested the upcoming legislative session be an “Unsession” – one in which the Legislature find ways to streamline state government and do away with wasteful programs.
Winnowing the number of boards and commissions would be an excellent place to start.
Reprinted with permission.WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
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Hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered Sunday on the streets of Kiev in a show of strength that, while impressive, fell short of opposition calls for a one million-strong rally that would have topped last weekend’s turnout. The large crowds, and signs of an increasingly slick protest camp in the heart of Ukraine’s capital, point to a protracted standoff over the country’s political future.
For the past three weeks, demonstrators have demanded the resignation of Ukraine’s president,Viktor Yanukovych over his refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. Adding fuel to the fire, President Yanukovych met Friday in Russia with President Vladimir Putin, reportedly to discuss a customs union between Ukraine and Russia, a move that is bitterly opposed by protesters in Kiev.
Opposition leaders had the last few days trying to galvanize their supporters for a big turnout. “Tomorrow there should be a million of us and we will make Yanukovych fulfill our demands. Tomorrow depends on each of us,” boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko told people gathered in Independence Square on Saturday evening.
“Those who can't get to Kiev, take to the streets in your cities and show your intention to live in a modern European country, the name of which is Ukraine.”
Early estimates placed the number of demonstrators in Kiev at 100,000-200,000, with the square so packed with people that it was hard to move. Last Sunday the crowds swelled to 350,000 after police violently clashed with protestors during an overnight attempt to clear the square. Four hundred people were injured in those clashes.
Yulia Tymoshenko, the jailed former prime minister, sent a statement to her supporters urging them to join the rally. “There must be more of us than last Sunday,” she wrote.
A fresh round of anger flared on Friday when protestors seized on reports that Yanukovych may have signed a trade deal with Russia. Both the Russian and Ukrainian leaderships have denied that such an agreement was signed or even discussed.
“We don’t know whether he signed anything or not, but irrespective we understand that he is inclined to sign something with Russia,” says Oleh Pluhararenko, a lawyer from Kiev, who held a banner reading: Hey Putin, leave us alone. “Signing something with Russia means we are selling our country to them,” he says.
Over the last few days, the protesters’ infrastructure has improved dramatically. New reinforced tents have been erected throughout the square, barricades have been reinforced, and a food kitchen in a trade-union building prepares and distributes donated hot meals to the crowds gathered in subzero temperatures.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands of Ukrainian and EU flags fluttered over the dense crowds, as snow fell all around. A string of opposition leaders took to the stage, urging those in the square, and those watching on television, to keep up the pressure on Yanukovych to step down.
Policemen stood guarding a nearby statue of Lenin, which protesters had tried to topple last week. Elsewhere anti-government protestors and pro-government supporters squared off outside another public building, but there were no reports of clashes.
Despite the lower-than-advertised turnout Sunday, protestors seemed undeterred.“Even if there aren’t a million of us there are enough to send a strong message to our politicians,” says Hanna Dzhus, a student from the central city of Vinnytsia. “If they won’t listen to us we must make them. We won’t give up.”
Followers of deposed President Mohamed Morsi have been reeling since July’s coup. A court ruling on Saturday to release 21 women and girls jailed for joining a protest offered some relief to those who resisted the coup.But it does not mean that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, or other activists who take to the streets, can expect leniency as Egypt’s military continues to maintain a tight grip on power.
The women and girls were arrested in Alexandria in October during a largely peaceful protest against the coup. The women–mostly in their late teens–were held in detention for almost a month, then put on trial for charges including vandalism, rioting, and carrying weapons. The court speedily convicted them after just one hearing, and handed down a harsh sentence–11 years in jail for the 14 women, and detention in a juvenile facility until age 18 for the seven minors.
According to Human Rights Watch, the defendants' lawyers were not allowed to call any witnesses during the hearing, and the court's ruling did not contain credible evidence that any of them participated individually in the crimes they were accused of. The rights group called the convictions a “dangerous message” from Egypt's courts to Muslim Brotherhood protesters.
In yesterday’s ruling, the appeals court reduced the 11-year terms for the women to one year’s suspended sentence, and said that the minors should serve only three months of probation. In separate hearings, state media reported Saturday that 155 people arrested during October clashes between Islamist protesters and police had been acquitted of assaulting police and vandalism.
But it is unlikely that all pro-Morsi protesters can expect similar outcomes. The case against the 21 women and girls garnered sympathy even outside Islamist circles, both because of the harsh sentences and because those convicted were young women. Even Egyptians who agree with government claims that many Muslim Brotherhood protesters are terrorists found it hard to reconcile this rhetoric with the sigh of teenagers who appeared in court fresh-faced, smiling, and yesterday, even holding pink roses.
While they will be released, hundreds of others arrested at protests remain in pretrial detention, along with thousands of ordinary Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. Trials of the movement’s leaders are ongoing. And no court has commuted the 17-year sentences given to 12 students at Al Azhar University for holding pro-Morsi protests in October on the university's campus.