Thursday, July 28, 2011

Metro Page Rant

Was it just my mood, or was there an unusual number of rant-worthy stories in the Metro section of today's Star Tribune?

1. It's not that I'm not glad police caught two people who broke into several cars in Minneapolis over the past few months. But why did it take breaking into a car that belongs to an FBI agent to get some action on the case?

Within six hours of the break-in to the agent's SUV, police had tracked down one of the thieves after she used a credit card taken in the theft. Now, if she was stupid enough to use a credit card from a car where she also stole a gun, FBI ID card and badge, she obviously would have used credit cards from earlier thefts. But no one went out of their way to track those cards down.

Any regular citizen who reports a car break-in is left with the feeling that there's almost no reason to report it, since no action will be taken. But if someone on the right side of the thin blue line is the victim, watch out thieves -- you'll be caught.

2. Reporter James Walsh's notebook column tells about ATM "skimmers" -- gizmos that can be attached to ATMs to intercept account numbers and PINs so crooks can raid your bank account. Readers are advised to "Inspect the ATM, gas pump or credit card reader before using it. Look for anything loose, crooked or damaged. Look for scratches or tape residue."

Well, I'm sorry, but that's just stupid. If the skimmers are so easy to spot, why don't the people who own or manage the machines spot them? ATMs are visited daily by armored car drivers, and gas pumps are managed by people who work only yards away. Many ATMs are also watched by cameras. If anyone in power cared about the problem, it would be solved instead of becoming yet another "scary world" cautionary tale.

3. The Strib's whistleblower, Jane Friedmann, presented a letter from a reader telling how he had submitted many résumés for IT jobs at a "certain large company" and gotten only rapid rejections, despite the fact that he was completely qualified for the jobs. So he did an experiment: The next résumé he sent omitted his 17 earliest years of employment, as well as the dates of his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Without those bits of information, it would be impossible to tell his age, which is 55. This time, the rejection was not immediate (though he still did not get an interview).

It's hard to believe this type of age discrimination doesn't happen all the time.

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