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Big news: Babies born at 1:11 on 1/11/11

AFTERNOON EDITION ALSO: A Gopher apology, more PawlentyPaloozaWatch, a Vikings offer, literary crown slipping, and smiles at Cargill.
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Big news: Babies born at 1:11 on 1/11/11

Too many years around newsrooms make a person skeptical about a story like this. But we say, “Oh, what the hell.” Christopher Snowbeck of the PiPress writes: “Baby Flora Mensah was born at United Hospital in St. Paul at 1:11 a.m. Jan. 11, 2011. Zeller assured a scrum of cameras and reporters gathered at the hospital that she and the baby’s father — Codjo Mensah, 38, of Eagan — won’t be trying to match the feat with an 11:11 a.m. delivery on Nov. 11. The chances of listing eight ones as your baby’s time and date of birth must be slim, Zeller said. But she insisted the timing was all-natural. ‘I didn’t hold back,’ Zeller said. ‘And I didn’t switch the clock. … There was no fudging at all.’ ” The sirens you heard were ambulances rushing to treat TV crews that trampled each other trying to get pictures.

But wait, reporter Jamie Grey for KTVB-TV in Boise, Idaho, is reporting: “Baby Tyler Ashton Marx will have a pretty neat story for life, just considering the date and time he was born. ‘As soon as he came out, the clock turned to 11:11,’ Mother Leslie Marx said. ‘He just held out. My mom passed away in October, so I’m thinking she had something to do with it. Held onto him right until the perfect moment and let him come.’ ” So the “meet cute” rom-com is where Tyler and Flora meet on their 11th birthdays, or on 2-22-22, and …

Gophers basketball player Trevor Mbakwe, who arrested for violating a restraining order (with a text that later was shown to be non-threatening), apologized to fans. Josh Simeone of KSTP reports Mbakwe saying: “ ‘I’d just like to apologize to everybody for this being a distraction to the team, I’m just looking forward to the future and getting this behind me. I was just trying to reach out and be generous, but it backfired on me and I would just like to apologize to everybody.’ ” And: “In a statement, coach Tubby Smith said: ‘I believe his actions were well intended but misguided, and we have made the decision not to suspend him after looking into the matter further.’ “

The best on today’s PawlentyPaloozaWatch is a post by Michael Sigman on the Huffington Post: “Pawlenty this week joined Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls who’ve published campaign books that might best be called ‘autohagiographies.’ ‘Hagiography,’ from the Greek agios, meaning ‘holy,’ originally referred to worshipful stories of the saints; it now describes any excessively fawning biography. An ‘autohagiography’ is defined here as a book-length paean to oneself. And since most candidates are mediocre writers at best, these volumes are generally collaborations or ghostwritten — in Pawlenty’s case by wrestling legend Hulk Hogan’s autobio-ghostwriter Mark Dagostino.” He later says: ” ‘Courage to Stand: An American Story’ is a perfect political title for our time. Tpaw avoids specifying what he has the courage to stand for; instead, he boasts the simple, all-inclusive courage to, as Webster’s puts it, “rise to an erect position.” And while ‘courage’ may well be a throwback to JFK’s acclaimed Profiles in Courage (widely believed to have been ghostwritten by Theodore Sorenson), the deployment of ‘stand’ is a sui generis masterstroke.”

Elsewhere, Aaron Blake assesses the “best/worst” scenarios for TPaw on The Washington Post’s blog, “The Fix”:  “Best-case scenario: Pawlenty begins to raise his profile and answers some doubts about his charisma. The governor cannot expect to become an overnight sensation because, well, he won’t. It’s not his personality, and he doesn’t pack the base-rousing oomph of a Palin or even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.” And: “Worst-case scenario: Nothing changes. Pawlenty needs a jump start if he wants to go anywhere. Right now, he’s unknown and needs to find his place in the field. The emergence of buzzier candidates like Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) has stolen some of Pawlenty’s thunder, and Pawlenty’s stock fell badly in a recent poll of insiders conducted by the National Journal.” But if he paints his face and eats what he says is George Soros’ liver on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference next month …

The Post’s veteran political writer Karen Tumulty serves up a feature-y piece that may be informative to anyone who has never heard of Pawlenty. Basically, she too wonders if he can make himself distinct from the GOP pack. She writes, “there is one thing that gets a rise out of Pawlenty, and that is to suggest that he lacks a certain . . . pizzazz. ‘Compared to who?’ Pawlenty retorted in an interview. ‘I’ll concede that Sarah Palin is in a league of her own and a force of nature. As to most of the rest in the field? If you get to know me, I don’t think that’s an accurate rap. I mean, you think about all the other people running. With the possible exception of Mike Huckabee, and Palin, there aren’t exactly a bunch of Lady Gagas.’ ”  No, but they could be The Lennon Sisters.

Big of ’em, I say. The AP (Patrick Condon and Dave Campbell) is reporting that Vikings ownership is offering to pay … wait for it … one-third the cost of a new stadium. “An outdoor stadium has been estimated to cost at least $700 million, with a permanent or retractable roof likely to add another few hundred million dollars to the total price. But a roof could also be the cost of getting the bill through the Legislature, with Capitol backers saying most lawmakers want a facility like the Metrodome that can host not just NFL football but also dozens of high school and college tournaments and other public events. ‘If you’re going to put this much capital, this much sweat and tears into it, you’re going to need a 365-day facility like the Metrodome,’ said state Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, the likely lead sponsor of the stadium bill at the Capitol.” Ford Field in Detroit cost, what, $430 million?

Laurie Hertzel writes in the Strib’s “Our Voices” blog that we’ve slipped … “After duking it out for several years with Seattle for the title of America’s Most Literate City, Minneapolis seems to have settled comfortably into third place. St. Paul rose from ninth place in 2005 to third place in 2007 but for the last two years has sat contentedly at No. 7. No. 1? Washington, DC. So what do we need to work on? What are we being judged on, without our knowledge? Where do these rankings come from? Central Connecticut State University releases the rankings every year …”

The Dow Jones Newswire reports a pretty good quarter for Cargill. Reporter Tess Stynes says: “Cargill Inc.’s fiscal second-quarter earnings more than tripled on strong returns from its Mosaic Co. stake and as most of the agribusiness giant’s units posted strong results. Wayzata-based Cargill’s global meatpacking, grain processing and food business is viewed as an industry bellwether and like rivals such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd. has reported revenue growth lately amid tight global grain supplies. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, Cargill reported a profit of $1.49 billion, up from $489 million a year earlier.” Niiice.