Best Buy is closing another 15 stores … all in Canada. Hollie Shaw of the National Post writes: “Best Buy Canada will close 15 of its big box stores before opening smaller outlets. The move, which represents about 10% of the retailer’s square footage in this country, will mean layoffs for an estimated 900 employees. … The company, which is closing stores in the British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario markets, will open a substantial, but unspecified number of its smaller Future Shop web stores and new Best Buy Mobile locations over the next three years across the country.”
Did you hear about GOP Rep. Mary Franson’s theories on how to “end” autism? Olivia LaVecchia of City Pages writes: “At a committee hearing Wednesday, Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) treated her fellow representatives — and, thanks to MN House’s video feed, the rest of us — to her Very Scientific Theories on vaccines and autism. The committee was supposed to be talking about Rep. Kim Norton’s bill to require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism … Franson, though, was less interested in coverage and more interested in just ending autism altogether. Seriously: ‘We can talk about insuring, and that’s great and that’s hope for the families that are experiencing autism now,’ Franson said at the hearing. ‘But what I’m interested in is ending autism.’ … Franson got on Google, and found that ‘mercury is one of those things, it’s a poison, it’s a neurological poison that affects developing babies in the womb, it affects small children,’ she informed everyone. ‘Do you know of any information that you may be able to share with us,’ Franson wrapped up by asking, ‘on what your beliefs are or theories are from the task force on what is being done to hopefully end this?’ Of course, none of this is what the committee was even supposed to be talking about. As the man next to Franson recovered from a coughing fit, and the rest of the room made shuffling-around noises, Committee Chair Tina Liebling stepped in to tactfully steer back on track. ‘Um, Representative Franson, this is really off-topic,’ Liebling said. ‘The bill is not about the origins of autism.’ ”
Who do you call when you can’t get out of …Mongolia? The AP’s Steve Karnowski says: “An American businessman who says he is being prevented from leaving Mongolia, where he is considered a potential witness in a corruption case, has asked for help from the congressional delegation in his home state of Minnesota. Justin Kapla is president and executive director of SouthGobi Sands LLC, a Mongolian mining company. He asked delegation members for assistance in lifting his travel ban, which he said was imposed because investigators consider him a witness in a corruption investigation of government officials involving the transfer of some of his company’s minerals exploration licenses.”
The march of the zebra mussel … . John Myers at the Duluth News Tribune says the critters have again expanded their territory: “Zebra mussels have been moved into yet another famous Minnesota lake, this time Lake Winnibigoshish, one of the Northland’s most popular fishing lakes, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed Thursday. The DNR said veligers, or larvae, of the thumbnail-size mussels were discovered in the lake. Zebra mussels now have been confirmed in more than 80 lakes and rivers across the state. Just last August, the DNR confirmed the invasive mussels had invaded Lake Ore-Be-Gone in Gilbert, the farthest north the creatures had been found and the first time they had colonized a mine pit lake.”
Try to guess what the Rochester Post-Bulletin editorial page thinks about Mayo’s big expansion plans: “The Destination Medical Center plan can’t be accomplished only through Mayo Clinic and private investment. There’s a third leg to this stool, in the form of nearly $600 million in public infrastructure improvements that Rochester will need to support its growing population and to provide services, transportation and entertainment to the patients who will travel from across the nation and around the world to receive care here. Rochester voters already have committed to a $20 million down payment on this infrastructure, and now, the clinic has officially asked the state to provide $585 million in financing to help cover the bulk of the tab. The math is complicated, but the rationale is simple enough. As the clinic and its workforce grow, those employees will generate revenue for the state through income taxes and property taxes. Increased volume of Mayo Clinic patients also will bring more outside dollars into the state’s coffers. … we hope legislators will recognize this as an opportunity for the entire state, a chance to think big, to begin turning a far-reaching vision into concrete reality.”
The flurry of gun control legislation has begun. Here’s Thursday’s new measure, as posted by Kate Renner at KSTP-TV: “Here’s the bill’s five parts:
1. Keep guns away from felons convicted of violent domestic abuse, such as strangulation.
2. Be able to try juveniles as adults if the juvenile is caught with a gun a second time.
3. Prohibit felons from not only owning guns, but also ammunition.
4. Treat a person who aids and abets a felon in getting a gun, as a felon.
5. Restrict the mentally ill from possessing a gun, even if they’re not committed to a state facility.
The bill’s authors says it is aimed at people who have a history of committing violent crimes.”
“Therapy dogs”? In high schools? Martha Irvine of the AP reports: “The four-legged member of the counseling team at the high school in suburban Chicago waits patiently, as a crush of students fills the hallways. Her tail wags with the first pat on the head, then another and another. ‘Puppy! Ohhh, puppy dog!’ one teenager croons, as he affectionately tousles the ears of the 18-month-old golden retriever. Junie began her role as a therapy dog at Prospect High School less than four months ago. It’s just one of a number of ways high schools across the country are trying to address what some call an epidemic of stressed-out, overwhelmed students. Some schools now offer yoga classes or teach relaxation techniques in the classroom. Others, from California to Minnesota and New Jersey, are instituting homework-free nights or are offering a bit of free time between classes — the equivalent of recess for teenagers. In Maine, at least two high schools have converted classrooms into ‘wellness rooms’ staffed by volunteer professionals who offer massage therapy and other stress-reducing treatments for students, with parental permission. The idea is to help them slow down and cope with their problems in an overpacked, 24-7 world, where many students stay up late to finish homework and fall asleep with their cellphones in their hands.” What if they just dumped the cellphones?
Seniority is starting to pay off for Amy Klobuchar. The AP (again) says: “Klobuchar has landed a top committee post. Klobuchar was announced Thursday as chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. It’s a panel within the Senate Judiciary Committee. Minnesota has had relatively low seniority in the Senate, where longevity is critical.” Yeah, I don’t recall Rod Grams, Norm Coleman or Mark Dayton chairing too many committees.
Hmmm. The Forum papers say: “A former elementary teacher charged here last week with sex crimes against children is dead. John Thorn Wangberg, 58, of rural Cass Lake, was found deceased in his home about 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to law enforcement investigating his death. On Jan. 23, Wangberg was arraigned on two felony counts of sexual conduct in the second degree and a gross misdemeanor charge of non-consensual sexual conduct in the fifth degree. … The felony charges allege that Wangberg engaged in sexual contact with victims between the ages of 5 and 7 on school property.”
Tonight may be the coldest night of the year. MPR’s Paul Huttner says: “The incoming arctic air mass peaks Thursday night into Friday morning. As high pressure settles overhead with calm air early Friday morning, temps will plunge. We’ve hit -12F so far at MSP for the coldest this winter last Tuesday morning. The models are cranking out -11F (Euro) to -16F (NAM) to -20F (GFS) Friday morning for MSP. At this point I’m leaning toward the Euro number of -11F…but the range could be anywhere from -10F to -14F at MSP and the inner urban core Friday morning. We may fall just shy … or possibly take the ‘award’ for the coldest morning of the winter Friday in the metro.” So … get out and enjoy it.