Daily Digest: Prisoner exchange, Vikings stadium news, and a dead bill

by Kyle Potter

Here’s your Daily Digest for Wednesday, Oct. 12:

Israel executed a deal with Hamas — the Palestinian political party that governs the Gaza Strip — to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of an Israeli soldier, according to the New York Times.

Both sides have called the deal a political and national victory. The exchange had been in the works for years, and was finally prodded along with the help of the Egyptian government.

Israeli Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit was captured in 2006, but will be able to return to his home country “within days,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Shalit was seized by Hamas in a cross-border raid when he was 19 years old.

In return, the Israelis will release a reported 1,027 Palestinian whose identities are not yet known.


Both good and bad news on the Vikings stadium front today. We’ll start with the honey and then move onto the vinegar.

The Good: The Ramsey County Charter Commission voted Tuesday night not to ask area voters whether they support building a new stadium (and the new taxes that would come with it) on the 2012 ballot, according to the Star Tribune.

The 10-6 vote against putting the issue to a vote is an undeniable victory for the team and owner Zygi Wilf. Crowds of citizens who oppose the stadium spoke against the plans before the vote Tuesday, and at public hearings over the last month.

The Vikings had fought against putting their project in the hands of Ramsey County voters, who they suspected would have voted against moving it forward. Lester Bagley, vice president of public affairs and stadium development for the team, told the Pioneer Press that the Vikings “appreciate the charter commission’s willingness to move the stadium issue forward.”

The Bad: A new report from the Metropolitan Council threw a wrench in the plans to build the stadium at the Vikings’ favored site, Arden Hills.

The costs and time necessary to clean the area — once a munitions plant — will be far greater than once hoped, according to an analysis of the site. The report identified $39 million in unfunded costs, and said the goal of completing the stadium by 2015 is a foolish one, according to the Star Tribune. 2016 or 2017 may be closer to the mark.

The Vikings have chosen the Arden Hills site as their go-to, but may need to re-evaluate some of the options in Minneapolis like the Farmers Market site that they’ve ignored.


President Barack Obama’s Jobs bill is dead, or close to it.

After weeks of campaigning and insisting that Congress “pass this bill right away,” the bill could not get the necessary votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate to keep it alive Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.  Two Democrats joined every Republican in voting against the bill, which came to a 50-49 vote: A majority, but short of the 60 votes necessary to keep it moving through Congress.

The $447 billion plan — Obama’s attempt to address the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate — was doomed from the start. Though only two in the Senate voted against the bill, many Democrats on Capitol Hill were less than thrilled about it, and the bill simply stood no chance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight,” Obama said after the vote in a statement. “Because with so many Americans out of work and so many families struggling, we can’t take `no’ for an answer.”

Oct. 12 in history:

-1901: U.S. President rechristens the “Executive Mansion.” It’s been the White House ever since.

-1918: The 1918 Cloquet Fire killed 453 Minnesotans and injured tens of thousands more.