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Minneapolis Airport Gets $20 Million Hi-Tech Security Upgrade 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you dept.
New submitter bzzfzz writes "The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is beginning a $20 million upgrade of its surveillance system. The upgrade will include 1800 high-definition cameras, facial recognition systems, and digital archiving to replace the analog tape system in use since the 1980s. The system will serve both security and operational goals. The MAC asserts that improved camera technology yields improved security as though the connection between the two is so strong that no proof is required."
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Minneapolis Airport Gets $20 Million Hi-Tech Security Upgrade

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  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:23PM (#39996719)
    Now we can be better stalked and assaulted by miscellaneous anonymous government bureaucrats.
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:06PM (#39997243) Homepage Journal
      Why don't they just hire out a bunch of bomb sniffing dogs which would catch most anything of real danger to the plane....and quit irradiating people?

      Oh wait...that would make sense...and not cost the taxpayers an arm and a leg....

      • by mr1911 (1942298) on Monday May 14, 2012 @03:19PM (#39998109)

        Why don't they just hire out a bunch of bomb sniffing dogs which would catch most anything of real danger to the plane....and quit irradiating people?

        It will make a lot more sense once you accept the fact that the vast majority of things the government does for "safety" or "security" has nothing to do with actual safety of security of the citizenry.

      • Because unlike in Hollywood movies, bomb sniffing dogs aren't machines with 100% uptime, 100% detection, 100% target coverage, and 100% trigger rates.

        • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday May 14, 2012 @03:33PM (#39998241)

          Because unlike in Hollywood movies, bomb sniffing dogs aren't machines with 100% uptime, 100% detection, 100% target coverage, and 100% trigger rates.

          And unlike in the movies, neither are the machines.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          Because unlike in Hollywood movies, bomb sniffing dogs aren't machines with 100% uptime, 100% detection, 100% target coverage, and 100% trigger rates.

          Well, they can't be any worse than the system we have now??

          Heck, I think they'd be better..they are a large part of Israel's protective measures, and their track record is pretty good.

          And why no 100% uptime? I mean, you cycle dogs in and out on shifts just like you do the humans...and no system has 100% detection.

        • by Githaron (2462596)
          Machines, like dogs, do not have 100% uptime, detection, or trigger rates. As for target coverage, they are already bottlenecking everyone through a predetermined path. They don't need 100% coverage. Bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detector are good enough. Besides, there are already machines that will act like bomb-sniffing dogs if you want a little extra probability of detecting a bomb.
    • Now we can be better stalked and assaulted by miscellaneous anonymous government bureaucrats.

      FTFA:

      The upgrade will include 1800 high-definition cameras, facial recognition systems, and digital archiving to replace the analog tape system in use since the 1980s

      Calm down, will you? All it looks like they did was buy iPhones for the airport staff to replace their old Sony Cybershot [digicamhistory.com] cameras and Nokia Cellphones [wikipedia.org]

    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday May 14, 2012 @06:04PM (#39999939) Journal

      The TSA has a history of stealing stuff from people's checked luggage and occasionally even their hand luggage or laptops. Maybe these cameras will be used to catch some of those thieves?

  • it won't work on black people. I'll be able to run through the concourse buttnaked and security will never be able to find me.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:27PM (#39996769) Homepage

    "The ability to have more coverage, by definition, is you have the chance to be safer."

    Who needs 'proof' when all you've said is that having more coverage gives you a chance to be safer? Well, yes, "it might help", which simply can't be refuted since it doesn't really say much.

    One more step towards the 100% surveillance society we're moving towards.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:53PM (#39997095)

      Who needs 'proof' when all you've said is that having more coverage gives you a chance to be safer?

      Except it's a lie. I have been to the airport. There's a light rail transit station directly under the main terminal. There are about 20 stops along the route, none of which have any security, including the one at the airport; All of the processing and security stuff is up a long flight of stairs and across the lobby. The main lobby has regular glass along the ceiling, and all of the above-ground entryways also are made of glass, including glass turnstiles. picture [cdn3.gbot.me] There's many more you can pull; It's a major stop-over point, many pictures are available online.

      Bottom line: 30 seconds after you exit the train, you're standing in a crowd of hundreds. Do the math. Cameras aren't going to save those people. It's the same if you arrive by bus, cab, or you feel like leaving your car in one of the pickup lanes right outside the doors.

      It's all security theatre... anyone with even average intelligence can easily figure out how to kill hundreds, if not thousands, at any large airport. The simple fact is airports create crowds, the security creates chokepoints, which in turn make the crowds larger... and none of the security "improvements" since 9/11 have done anything but provide a feeling of security. If these people want real security, they should invite the Israeli's to come over and train them on how to do behavioral profiling, get rid of carry-on luggage, and stop masturbating with high tech toys. The Israelis have been much more effective in preventing terrorist attacks than the US has been, and all they use is "Mark I eyeball" and decompression chambers for the luggage. It's one of the biggest failings of US intelligence in general: They don't want to get their hands dirty. Technology is no substitute for training and observation when doing this kind of work. In fact, very often, it'll just get in the way.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Except it's a lie.

        Strictly speaking, it's not a 'lie'. It just glosses over things like what you said.

        When he said "more security gives you a chance at being more secure", it's a totally un-falsifiable statement. It's such an open ended statement as to be meaningless since it doesn't say anything at all.

        I'm not going to refute anything you said, because I agree with you. But in terms of the justification they provided, it can't be refuted because it's not a true enough statement to be refuted.

        And, of cou

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          I think the point was that such statements are falsifiable if it can be shown that the reverse is true. Technology that slows down the security line cannot feasibly make you safer because it causes backups that inherently make you less safe. Therefore, because there is at least one significant reduction in safety, even in the optimal scenario, it can only move the risk around.

          Of course, that doesn't apply to passive security technology (these cameras, for example). And these cameras do have a reasonably

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Technology that slows down the security line cannot feasibly make you safer because it causes backups that inherently make you less safe.

            Utterly false.

            If you don't let anybody on the plane, nobody can blow it up.

            • by dgatwood (11270)

              That makes the plane safer, but because, by definition, you are not on the plane, you are still no safer. Well, I suppose for the handful of people who happen to be in the ground track of the debris, you are slightly safer, but this is more than offset by the added risk to the people standing in line with the lunatic carrying a bomb.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I live in Mpls., and you're correct. No security at all on the trains, etc.

        However, I beg leave to point out that DHS and TSA - clearly, after all these years - do not have as their goal the protection of those vulnerable hundreds and thousands of citizens who are exposed by these amateurish and essentially worthless 'security precautions'.

        It has been obvious for some time that the security infrastructure in the US (and elsewhere) is much more directed at the concept of 'grooming', no?

      • It's pretty much the same at JFK. I do see TSA riding the trains though. They need to get to their cars afterall.
      • but...but...Profiling=Racisim to several members of the US government
      • by rossjudson (97786) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:34PM (#39997553) Homepage

        Any idea how many actual terrorists have actually been discovered by TSA personnel doing security inspections? Seems to me that the most likely answer is zero. You can then make the argument that the increased security procedures have scared off potential terrorists, I suppose.

        There just doesn't seem to be any limit to how far ball-free politicians will go to make air travel appear to be "safer", while at the same time completely ignoring other modes of transportation that are equally dangerous (and equally pointless to monitor).

        Seems to me that the main weakness in the system was the lack of lockable cockpit doors. That has been corrected.

        • As far as I recall, all of the actual terrorists that have been caught have been discovered by intelligence efforts long before they got anywhere close to the airport. See for example the recent underwear bomber 2.0 plot. Meanwhile, the TSA has failed on numerous times to actually catch bad things going through their checkpoints, such as underwear bomber 1.0, the shoe bomber, and Adam Savage's razor blades. Yet every time the intelligence community successfully disrupts a terrorist plot, it is used as an ex

        • by houghi (78078)

          Due to the inspections, no more terrorists are there to be discovered. So it means it helps. More of this will make it eve

          (Obvious sarcasm warning)

      • by Bomazi (1875554) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:59PM (#39997891)
        Israeli-type security is not acceptable. I shouldn't be interrogated just because I have the audacity to travel. A pre-911 level of security with some improvements (better intelligence, reinforced cockpit doors) is more than enough. Terrorism is one of the most unlikely cause of death, behind food poisoning or slipping in a bathtub. We could avoid all that shit if we spent a thousandth of what we waste on "security" on teaching statistics.
        • Israeli-type security is not acceptable. I shouldn't be interrogated just because

          And the rest of this sentence doesn't matter. You will be questioned if it saves my life, and thank you but fuck your entitlement issues: Your desire not to be questioned does not trump my right not to be detonated upon. Israeli type security has a proven safety record, it's effective, cheap, and doesn't result in people being rendered sterile or developing cancer because people like you can't stand the idea that you could be questioned by the authorities.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        anyone with even average intelligence can easily figure out how to kill hundreds, if not thousands, at any...

        Place...
        No need to bring in Israeli's. No need to do anything more than anywhere else a lot of people gather. School, church, office building, mall, parks. Just as easy to target, no TSA there... Why do we need them at the airport?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Stop with the Israeli myth. Israel has horribly intrusive airport security, and to wish that upon Americans is to wish apartheid, and repeal of all civil rights and lberties. It will be much worse than we have to deal with today.

        Discalimer, detained for 24 hours, by Israeli security. Had property confiscated and never returned, and some very expensive property returned (after 3 months), but destroyed. Copied my entire journal. Also withheld our luggage for several days so had to just hang out at Rome a

    • If they're replacing an old video tape system from the 80's, then you can bet that the resolution of the cameras are standard definition. They may even be B&W. If the storage medium was tape, it was probably stored in analog by something as simple as a VCR. Those heads can clog so easily, and degrade so that the resolution is even worse.

      Adding new cameras gives them the opportunity to have higher resolution video, controllable mounts for direction and zoom, and probably a professional DVR system that w
      • And all that will still leave the system worthless for anything other than emergency response.

        Video surveillance is useless for identifying people because (1) compression impacts exactly those spatial frequencies needed for face recognition and (2) humans are bad at identifying faces (unless they are very familiar). Even if a face is not present in a lineup, people say it is 70% of the time.

        [1] Video Surveillance is Useless (presentation) http://www.csse.uwa.edu.au/~pk/Research/VideoIsUselessANZFSS/ [uwa.edu.au]
        [2] Vid

    • by cusco (717999)
      I work in the physical security field, and this contract should have come with big flashing lights saying, "DANGER! DANGER! RUN AWAY!" If they're going from a handful of low-res, low frame rate analog cameras recording on VHS tape to, well, one of the largest non-casino installations in the Midwest essentially overnight I can pretty much gaurantee that the staff (especially the IT staff) are in no way prepared for something like this. A single megapixel camera can generate over a gigabit of network traf
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        I would expect any such system to provide sufficient storage to hold the last n hours of data (specified by policy) and for the data to be thrown away after that. This isn't a particularly difficult task for computers to handle.

        I would also assume that these cameras would operate on an entirely separate network from any of the rest of the airport's traffic—probably on dedicated fiber runs to their security center that run in the same conduits where the video lines ran before.

        In other words, it should

        • by cusco (717999)
          You would expect wrong then, in most cases. The very best storage tool (probably Lenel's, but maybe Pelco's) provides nothing better than a "guesstimate" as to storage needs or network overhead. If you're recording in MJPEG format (hugely wasteful, but the only format available for many of the megapixel cameras) it wouldn't be too bad, but it still depends on the complexity of the scene. If the camera can do MPEG4 the tool now has to account for the amount of motion in the scene. If H.264 is an availabl
          • by dgatwood (11270)

            Uh... any hardware codec chip (which all digital video cameras use in one form or another) has a maximum data rate even in VBR mode, and the video output of the camera, by definition, will never exceed that rate. As long as your storage exceeds that limit, you won't run out of storage. Similarly, as long as your network bandwidth exceeds that limit with a reasonable amount of room to spare, you shouldn't have problems there, either....

      • by himself (66589)

        There are a lot of casinos in the area; perhaps they drew upon the local expertise (for which read "hired away") to get the skills they need. Just a guess.

  • by DWMorse (1816016) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:28PM (#39996777) Homepage
    Thank GOD! I felt so scared I was going to die to terrorists, when I managed to catch my flight to Denver in under 30 minutes of xrays, scanning, and waiting in line. Something needs to be done remove this streamlined process. We're talking about entire HOURS less of waiting in line while the TSA herds people like cattle. It's about time someone corrected this oversight at MSP and got those wait times up where they belong.
  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Patent Lover (779809) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:30PM (#39996817)
    Maybe now they can finally catch all those TSA screeners pilfering things from people's bags.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Somehow I doubt the TSA will use the cameras to incriminate themselves.

      • This is why all government funded survelence cameras need to have publicly available feeds. The world is moving towards ever more cameras, all the time. I don't think that tide will ever turn. This creates a system of those who are watched, and those who watch. The watched are inherently below the watchers. If we're going to move towards this sort of state, the way to return fairness to the citizenry is to give them the same power as the government to watch everything. It's a 21st century version of t
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Maybe now they can finally catch all those TSA screeners pilfering things from people's bags.

      I'm betting somehow they won't be putting cameras there, or they'll be conveniently out of service most of the time.

      But I would absolutely agree these people need to be under 100% surveillance as well -- they pose far more risk than most air travelers, both in terms of smuggling and in terms of security risk.

      • Easiest solution is to state (via rule or regulation) that no TSA screener can open a bag if the camera's are "out of service" for any reason. This will either cause them to fix the cameras or not screen bags, their choice. This would cause uproar via the public if they halted flights the moment security cameras were offline, causing them to fix the problem or have a black mark on public reputation of the TSA. But that is like shitting on a turd, nobody will notice ;)

        • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:40PM (#39997613) Homepage

          Easiest solution is to state (via rule or regulation) that no TSA screener can open a bag if the camera's are "out of service" for any reason

          Yeah, brilliant, that should bring them into line.

          I mean, it's not as if there's any rules against them to stealing from your luggage or using their position to smuggle drugs, which is why they can get away with it now. We just need a rule -- why did nobody think of this before?

          Seriously, though -- we just need to stop trusting them by default and make sure they're under video surveillance all the time, just like the rest of us. There's been enough instances of the airport security/baggage people being the ones stealing and smuggling that you can't just take them on face value.

          This is absolutely a case where "trust, but verify" is needed. But, of course, they'll complain their privacy is being invaded and that it's not cost effective to monitor them -- despite that's what happened to the rest of us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I always get excited when I see something about my home state make slashdot, but alas it is always bad news. The MAC is just a bunch of political appointees attempting to funnel money to Mark Dayton's supporters. At least the high-res cameras seem like they might have some useful public effect (whether you agree with the need or not), unlike many of the things they do: millions of $$ to rename the damn terminals, millions of $$ providing/installing noise insulation in single family homes(those people all p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They'll be able to see the slightest of foot taps in the men's room.

  • by dryriver (1010635) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#39996951)
    So anyone who looks even mildly Middleeastern can expect to be searched from head-to-toe and watched over by X number of security cameras while he/she moves through the airport. Then he/she will fly into an airport somewhere else in the world, where the exact same thing will occurr again. Special search because of your mildly Middleeastern looks, and cameras that follow you around the airport 24/7. --------- This is INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM, not SECURITY. But by the time America figures this out, it will be too late. Every airport in the world with a little spare money will follow the American example eventually, and flying anywhere will turn into a truly Orwellian experience. -------- What good is safety, if the method that provides it is largely based on being SELECTIVELY RACIST against anyone with mildly Middleeastern looks?
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Every airport in the world with a little spare money will follow the American example eventually, and flying anywhere will turn into a truly Orwellian experience

      Actually, it might be worse -- the USA will require that any airport boarding passengers destined for the US will have an equivalent level of security, and be required to share this in real time with the CIA, or be told they can't send planes.

      So, it won't really be about 'spare' money, as money you have to spend if you plan on being a departure poi

    • I mean, how dare a Dutch jeweller put up high quality camera's so the two gentlemen who merely came here to seek someone elses fortune be caught on camera red handed AND still the mother of one claims it wasn't one of them and they never did anything because to a certain type of people, getting hold of a weapon in a country were guns are restricted is perfectly normal.

      Can you guess the skin color of these mis understood individuals who are so pitiful for being so scared by an unarmed man they had to shoot h

      • Anecdotal evidence (done badly)? Check.
        Statistics pulled out of your ass? Check.
        Unfounded feeling of superiority? Check.
        Blatant lies? Check.
        Argumentum ad populum? Check.

        Please crawl back under your safe rock and the fantasy world that it protects.
      • by Fwipp (1473271)

        Racial profiling, if legal, will continue as long as we have racists in positions of power. Which is likely to be hundreds of years, at least.

        • Racial profiling, legal or no, will continue as long as we have racists in positions of power.

          I think that's what you meant.

      • by claar (126368)

        I was somewhat with you until "It is the simple knowledge that certain cultures lack morals"; that's just too broad of brush stroke.

        While I think statistics-based profiling has merit, to say that an entire culture lacks morals either defines culture in a bizarre way (like, "people of middle-eastern descent who also lack morals"), or the statement is simply rampant racism/prejudice.

    • by operagost (62405)
      They could do this now, and yet they don't. Why are you a paranoid nutjob?
  • The Twin cities are a major transit hub for flights originating from Asia.

    Most of my trips from SE Asia via Tokyo, Narita have ended with a transit through Minneapolis when I was in College in the Midwest.

    • Also be wary of KLM or Delta flights from Europe (especially from Pairs or Amsterdam) as it was the main Northwest hub until they were bought by Delta.
    • by gatkinso (15975)

      So is LA, SF, New York, and Chicago. Your point?

      • by blackicye (760472)

        So is LA, SF, New York, and Chicago. Your point?

        My point is that it wouldn't be surprising if those airports also received $20 million dollar or higher "Hi-Tech Security Upgrades."

  • by Icepick_ (25751) <icepick@@@netfamine..com> on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:45PM (#39997003) Homepage

    I feel safer already.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Monday May 14, 2012 @01:45PM (#39997005) Homepage Journal

    "The MAC asserts that improved camera technology yields improved security as though the connection between the two is so strong that no proof is required."

    My immediate thought was "What is 'no proof is required' a euphemism for?"

    Probably something along the lines of "We have no supporting evidence, and decided not to bother testing it, because the results might come out wrong for our marketing, so we're going with the 'obvious to anyone but a real dummy' approach."

    What else could they be trying to hide with such a comment?

  • Since this my home town airport will they finally find the crap that I accidentally bring through security like:
    Pocket knives forgotten in my pocket
    Straight edge razors in the carry on suitcase
    Shotgun shells forgotten in my coat pocket
    Rifle round forgotten in my coat pocket
    • by Creepy (93888)

      I doubt it - neither Kalispell (Montana) airport nor MSP airport caught my wife's mini boxcutter or pocket knife multitool (3 inch pocketknife) in her purse. She didn't even realize they were there until arriving home.

  • meant being Irish?

    I don't remember this much hoopla being lavished on ... say... the Guildford Four.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      For a bunch of murdering assholes, the IRA was fairly good about not targeting civilians just for the hell of it.

  • It's an election year. It seems that many Americans are genuinely worried about increased surveillance. The idea that it's all ineffectual security theater against an ephemeral and perhaps non-existent enemy also appears pervasive. So why aren't you making it an election issue? Millions of people loudly declaring "I won't vote for you unless you restructure/abolish the TSA" would send a pretty strong message.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      That doesn't work when both parties are in favor of doing something.

      • Then vote for one of the OTHER parties that are available. There aren't just "two" parties, however the system is designed for just "two".

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday May 14, 2012 @02:17PM (#39997371) Homepage

      Because this is something that the Washington establishment, which involves most people in both major parties, have decided is not going to be an election issue, along with Gitmo, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts, the imprisonment and killing of American citizens without trial, the noticeable lack of prosecutions of Wall St bankers for fraud, and mass surveillance of Americans by the NSA.

      Basically, it doesn't affect anybody who's rich enough or powerful enough to own a private jet, so nobody with the wealth or power to influence elections cares about it.

    • ... or did I miss <sarcasm> tag? ;)

      Even if you read only /., you could not have missed this: http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/05/04/1823258/rand-paul-has-a-quick-fix-for-tsa-pull-the-plug [slashdot.org]

      And yes, his dad's presidential campaign is going on well better than expected (though you are unlikely to read about this in mainstream media), for Ron Paul's views on TSA see, e.g., this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a14ktflduO0 [youtube.com] (note that it is a speech from 2007, pre-current wave of intencified abuse).

      Paul B.

    • Because the media isn't making it an election issue. In an election year, you don't hear about squat unless the media in general wants you to hear about it.

      What good are millions of people loudly declaring something while they're stuck in "protest/free speech" zones away from anyone with eyes to see them or ears to hear them?
  • In other words, The Metropolitan Airports Commission is flushing another $20 million of tax payers money down the endless sewer that is known as the TSA.

    I wonder if in 200 years the TSA will be remembered as fondly as we do the Salem witch trials. Instead of drowning, we're gonna see if gamma radiation kills you or not. If not you obviously must be a terrorist and should be shot or sent to Gitmo. In fact in 5 years I think these bastards are just gonna kill anyone who shows up at the airport. If you're no

  • Having security measures and surveillance at a location like this isn't my problem. It's the surveillance of daily activities, monitoring of my transactions, and snooping on my communications that bothers me.

  • by swb (14022) on Monday May 14, 2012 @04:17PM (#39998711)

    The airport commission is where empires are built. If MAC isn't remodeling something or building something or buying a dozen new squad cars for the airport police (look! you can see them all parked together, like they don't need that many...), they're making sweetheart deals with the one remaining major carrier.

    The funny thing is, since the NWA/Delta merger, Delta can't ship assets out of MSP fast enough (maintenance, ground operations, etc). Why MAC thinks we need a brass-plated airport when in 10 years the only direct flight you can get out of MSP is to another carrier's hub city is beyond me, but they have built a multi-terminal airport that's just ridiculously large and unsuited to the future role of air travel in MSP or the future of air travel in a era of expensive fuel.

  • As far as I can find, Minnesota has never had an incident of terrorism. "Terrorism" in Minnesota seems to consist of throwing glitter at people. [minnpost.com]

    • by borcharc (56372) *

      Minnesota is a hotbed of terrorism investigations, I have heard they are #2 behind NYC. There have been several grand juries that have been somewhat publicly investigating Somali refuges for participation in terrorism training camps, money laundering, and the Zacharia Musawi matter.

      As for the airport, they are epic tools. I have heard from several reliable sources that they do not record tapes on the current camera system or have employees monitor it. A few years back I questioned an MAC (airport) official

  • Not only did Bruce [wikipedia.org] demonstrate how useless the security at MSP is [theatlantic.com], but it's his home airport. My guess is that the TSA want all this extra 'security' to keep tabs on him.

  • Any word about an "Airport Improvement Fee" (actual wording may vary) that will be tacked on tickets flying out of/terminating in Minneapolis?
  • Could this have anything to do with the large population of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis? There are indications of a criminal minority among them.

    "Over the past 25 years, the United States has admitted about 84,000 Somali refugees [they've got that figure about right, but they don't include all those who got in through other immigration programs or who came in illegally and have disappeared---ed]. Close to 40 percent live in Minnesota."
    http://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/why-so-many [wordpress.com]

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