Drought builds political pressure on ethanol producers

MPR’s Brett Neely reports on the building political pressure the drought is putting on ethanol producers: “About 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop goes to make ethanol. The government’s Renewable Fuel Standard requires that biofuels such as ethanol be blended with gasoline 13.2 billion gallons’ worth this year. But this summer’s drought has driven corn futures to new highs above $8 a bushel, prompting many livestock farmers and food companies to argue that rather than pumping corn into gas tanks it should be used for food. … But a recent analysis by Iowa State University suggests lifting or relaxing the mandate might have only a modest affect on corn prices, unless the drought cuts this year’s crop even more drastically than projected. Minnesota is the fourth largest producer of ethanol in the country, and most of its lawmakers, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, continue to support the ethanol mandate.”

3M is claiming — sort of that it’s reinvented the light bulb. John Welbes at the PiPress says: “3M Co. is coming out with what it says is a better LED light bulb — and its first-ever consumer bulb — at the end of August. The high-tech bulb looks like a traditional incandescent but boasts a 25-year lifespan (at three hours of use per day) and a $25 price tag. 3M believes consumers will still bite at that price. ‘Functionally, we’ve mimicked the distribution of light’ of a 60-watt incandescent, said Ray Johnston, the 3M scientist who invented the concept and led its technical development. …  With incandescent bulbs being phased out of the market by 2014, 3M is betting the $25 price won’t be a huge hurdle for consumers. One advantage: Some competing bulbs, such as compact fluorescent products, don’t look like traditional light bulbs.” What’s the warranty like?

A Hennepin County judge is setting a bit of a precedent. Laura Yuen at MPR writes: “A new court ruling out of Hennepin County recognizes a Minneapolis man as the legal heir and sole surviving spouse to his late partner. The order gives same-sex partners the right to inherit each other’s assets, and it could open the door for other Minnesota gay and lesbian couples to access additional benefits of marriage.  James Morrison and Thomas Proehl met in college, and were in a committed relationship for nearly 25 years. In 2008, they got married in California. Then, Proehl died last year of a heart attack at the age of 46. And he didn’t have a will. Under Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, their marriage wasn’t legally recognized in the state. That meant about $250,000 of assets in Proehl’s name would have gone to his parents — even though they wanted the assets to go to Morrison.”

You do wonder what they were going on when they brought in that excavator a couple of years ago. The AP reports: “A man who has been publicly identified as a person of interest in the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling told the Associated Press on Thursday that he sent a letter to 14 state officials and agencies, complaining about how he has been treated by law enforcement. In the letter obtained by the AP, Dan Rassier wrote that law enforcement officers violated his civil rights and his family’s rights and ‘abused the privileges of their power’ in relation to the Wetterling case. … Jacob Wetterling was 11 when he was abducted Oct. 22, 1989, by a masked gunman at the end of Rassier’s driveway in St. Joseph, about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis. He hasn’t been seen since. Authorities have examined tens of thousands of leads, but there have been no arrests in the case that drew national attention and led to changes in sex offender registration laws. Rassier, now 56, was home alone at the time. He has been questioned multiple times, but his name didn’t come out publicly until 2010, when authorities searched his family farm over two days. Forensic tests on items taken from that search have yielded no evidence linking them to the crime, but investigators are still testing some items, or waiting for technology to advance so additional testing can be done.”

Rather than rebuild that Sartell paper plant, the Tennessee company is shutting down and leaving town. The AP says: “The Memphis, Tenn.-based company said it based its decision on the length of time it would take to rebuild and on market challenges. ‘The decision is not based lightly,’ Lyle Fellows, senior vice president of manufacturing for Verso, said at a news conference in Sartell. Fellows also said the Sartell mill, which is more than a century old, has not been competitive for many years.”

Has the heat gotten to the otters? Kelly Smith of the Strib says: “In less than a month, unusually aggressive otters have attacked two Twin Cities women swimming in lakes about 60 miles apart. They’re two of the three attacks reported to the state in the past three months, puzzling experts who say otters are generally meek, playful creatures. The latest victim, Carol Schefers, 38, of St. Michael, was swimming at her family’s cabin on tiny Ude Lake near Aitkin last weekend when something suddenly nipped her beneath the dark, rum-colored water. ‘The first thing you think is fish are attacking’, she said Thursday. ‘I thought, ‘Wow, these fish are feisty.’ … She began struggling, screaming as she flipped on her back. That’s when she saw the otters’ eyes and whiskers. The two otters left 18 bite marks across her legs, ankles and arms before her husband hoisted her into the boat. At a nearby hospital, doctors, never having treated an otter attack, gave her antibiotic, rabies and tetanus shots as a precaution. She is still recovering.” People … we have a Minnesota version of those cheesy “Piranha” movies.

Those of us who are fashion-challenged have no idea what the excitement is about. But Janet Moore of the Strib reports: “The addition of hip fashion retailer H&M to Calhoun Square this fall should give the distinctly urban shopping center — Uptown’s very own downtown — a needed jolt of commerce in what is still a sluggish retail economy in the Twin Cities. The Calhoun Square location will be the Swedish retailer’s fifth outpost in Minnesota — a vast 23,000-square-foot bilevel store featuring apparel and accessories for women, men and children. H&M will assume a large footprint in the 27-year-old shopping center — just over 10 percent of its retail space. ‘I am psyched,’ said Shawn Northrup, a Minneapolis resident who was shopping in Uptown one recent sunny afternoon.” So, can I get some really skinny distressed jeans and a goofy plaid fedora?

Stephen J. Lee of the Grand Forks Herald reports: “A deputy U.S. marshal from Grand Forks was found dead in his government vehicle shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday in a parking lot at Lincoln Park, just east of Belmont Road off Lincoln Drive. According to Grand Forks Police Chief John Packett, who appeared at a 10 a.m. news conference with Paul Ward, U.S. marshal for North Dakota, and Dan Orr, chief deputy marshal for the North Dakota district, two witnesses called 911 and directed police to where the body of Deputy Marshal Robert Wood, 46, was in his work SUV. … Others with knowledge of the incident, including a law enforcement officer, who said they couldn’t speak on the record because of the investigation, told the Herald the death apparently involved a gunshot. Asked about those reports, Packett and Ward said nothing about the possible cause of death was being released yet. A nearby resident said he saw a lot of police at the scene, covering the driver’s side window and part of the windshield ‘with some kind of cloth.’ ”

Andy Mannix at City Pages is having, dare I say, a fun time with GOP congressional candidate Chris Fields: “Early this morning, we published a blog post about Fields’s latest attack literature on [Congressman Keith] Ellison, which features a picture of the incumbent congressman next to the proclamation, ‘Racism is bad.’ The gist of the ad being that Ellison — a black Muslim practices racially biased politics. Or as Fields calls it, “reverse racism.” … I called him back right away this morning, and what did surprise me was his rebuttal: He claims he never called Ellison a reverse racist. Here’s how the first part of our conversation went, beginning with Fields’s thoughts on the post: Chris Fields: ‘It wasn’t to my liking, but that’s okay, because I don’t need to like everything that’s written about me. But I just want to point your attention to a few things that are blatantly misrepresented.’
City Pages: ‘In my post’?
Fields: ‘Yes, in your post. I did not explicitly call Keith a reverse racist. I didn’t. I didn’t.’
CP: ‘Okay, I’m looking at the ad right now, it says, ‘reverse racism.’ And there’s a picture of Keith Ellison next to it.’
Fields: ‘Okay, it says two words. What about the rest of the words there? I mean, do they count? And I’m not trying to be confrontational here — ‘
CP: ‘
So you’re trying to tell me that you’re not calling Keith Ellison a reverse racist’?
Fields: ‘It says, ‘Does Keith
CP: ‘
Yeah, ‘Does Keith Ellison practice reverse racism and racial politics?’
Fields: ‘You decide. You decide.’ ”
OK, we’ll decide. But you probably won’t like it.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 08/03/2012 - 07:26 am.

    3M isn’t the only LED bulb maker

    The Phillips LED bulb that won the Dept. of Energy Challenge is selling for $15 at Home Depot right now.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/03/2012 - 08:21 am.

      LED Bulbs

      The $25 “list” price probably translates to a $20 normal selling price and at least close to a $15 sale price.

      The biggest issue with these bulbs is that the actual life rarely seems to meet the projected life. Partially due to projected life being a best case scenario but primarily due to the poor quality control of the imported bulbs. Especially the off brand ones.

      I suspect quality of bulbs from manufacturers like Phillips and 3M, who have a reputation to protect, will be better. But best way to improve the quality is to mark them, save receipts for a while, and return them to retailer when bad. As defective bulbs and charge backs work back up from retailer to importer to manufacturer, the cost of poor quality gets placed where it belongs.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/03/2012 - 08:20 am.

    When did 3M get stupid?

    I can buy a 3 pack of LED bulbs at Costco for $14.99. Why in the world would I spend $25.00 for a single 3M bulb? The price on these things drops every month.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/03/2012 - 08:34 am.

    Chris Fields,

    the kind of fearless leader we don’t need any more of in Congress.

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/03/2012 - 10:46 am.

    Fields is wasting his time

    Ellison can’t lose, what with all those votes from the “immigrant community.” To that end, what passes for an Ellison re-election campaign is doing everything he can to ensure the voter ID law doesn’t pass.

    • Submitted by Pete Barrett on 08/04/2012 - 02:17 pm.

      Get It Out

      Mr. Tester: Are you suggesting that Rep. Ellison is taking part in felonious activities in order to get re-elected? Or are attempting to approach that line and not cross it?

      And why would the MinnPost mods allow such baseless accusation

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