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Minnesota measure would snuff out onstage smoking

So will there be a “constitutional outcry” over this?  The AP says: “A state senator wants to outlaw actors from puffing away as part of plays. Democratic Sen. Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights introduced the bill on Thursday. It's one of the rare exceptions to a state indoor smoking ban in public places. People aren't permitted to smoke in arenas, nursing homes, common space of apartment buildings and meeting rooms. Minnesota has outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants since 2007. After that took effect, some bars started holding ‘theater nights’ during which customers cast themselves as actors so they could smoke.” I went to one of these. I was understudy to a diseased lung.

And Obama calls him “The Dude.” Mark Landler of The New York Times reports: “President Obama is planning to elevate a key national security deputy, Denis McDonough, to White House chief of staff, administration officials said Wednesday, making perhaps his closest foreign policy adviser the gatekeeper to the Oval Office. Though Obama has not made a final decision, aides said, they expect an announcement early next week. McDonough would succeed Jacob Lew, another close aide whom Obama has nominated as Treasury secretary. … A native of Stillwater, Minn., McDonough grew up in a Catholic family of 11 children, one of whom became a priest. He played football at St. John's University in Minnesota, where he was known by the childhood nickname ‘Dude.’ As a chief of staff, McDonough may lack the political pizazz of Rahm Emanuel, the backslapping bonhomie of William Daley or the budget-crunching acumen of Lew. But his friends say that he excels at precisely the kind of trains-run-on-time competence that Obama needs in a second term.”

Steady improvement … Adam Belz’ Strib story on the latest employment numbers says: “Minnesota employers added another 9,100 jobs in December, the state said Thursday, rounding out a year in which the state gained jobs faster than the national average. ‘The state labor market is growing at a brisk pace, gaining more than 21,000 jobs in the final two months of 2012,’ said Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. ‘Minnesota is recovering jobs well ahead of the rest of the country and is positioned to stay on that course in coming months.’ The state's unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, from 5.7 percent in November. Job gains from November were revised upward from 10,800 jobs to 12,300 jobs.” And this, despite crippling regulations on our job creators.

Related … in the Alexandria Echo Press,  “As of 2009, the overall death rate for cancer in the United States had declined 20 percent from its peak in 1991, translating to the avoidance of approximately 1.2 million deaths from cancer — 152,900 of these in 2009 alone. These figures come from the American Cancer Society’s annual Cancer Statistics report, one of the most widely-cited medical publications in the world. The data are disseminated in Cancer Facts & Figures 2013 and its companion article, Cancer Statistics 2013, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Minnesota mirrors the nation with similar numbers, although cancer continues to be the leading statewide cause of death. New cancer cases were estimated to exceed 25,000 in 2010 with a projected 9,200 lives lost to the disease. … melanoma rates are rising in Minnesota, doubling since 1988. Melanoma is one of the few preventable cancers still increasing today and is one of the most common cancers among young people in Minnesota. ‘The increasing incidence of melanoma is directly related to sun exposure and is highly preventable. Men need to get serious about wearing sun block and women and teenage girls need to give up tanning beds,’ said Mohiba Tareen, M.D.”

The McClatchy story on Minnesota’s incipient health insurance exchange says:  “Last week, Democrats introduced legislation to create Minnesota's health exchange, the development of which has been funded so far with $71 million in federal grants. The bill creates a seven-person board of directors to oversee the health exchange and stipulates they cannot have been paid by a health insurance company or health care provider within a year before serving. That standard is too tight, argued insurance company representatives who note industry officials with such conflicts serve on boards of other state-related organizations in health care. Given the broad nature of the issues, a more reasonable rule would be to ask board members to opt out of decisions where they have a direct conflict, said Christopher Schneeman, an insurance agent in St. Paul who testified on the bill before the Senate State and Local Government Committee. … Consumer advocates counter the bill's conflict-of-interest rule would help generate public trust by ensuring that the exchange works in the public's interest of the public, rather than special interests.” In other words, the opposite of the current insurance setup.

The GleanBut there is an emergency at hand … Jackie Crosby of the Strib reports: “Medical costs grew faster than revenue at UnitedHealth Group Inc., pulling down fourth-quarter net income by 1 percent at the nation's largest health insurance company. The Minnetonka-based company said Thursday it earned $1.24 billion, or $1.20 a share, during the quarter ending Dec. 31. During the same period a year ago, UnitedHealth posted profits of $1.26 billion, or $1.17 a share. The results met the average of 19 analysts, according to Bloomberg. Overall revenue rose 11 percent to $28.8 billion, while the cost of covering medical care for its enrollees climbed 12 percent to $20.8 billion.” Perhaps a bake sale, or a silent auction?

MPR’s Brandt Williams has an interesting story on gun rights supporters and their belief in statistics: “More than 20 years ago, the CDC angered gun rights supporters when it reported that a gun in the home is more likely to be used on someone who lives there than on an intruder. Some Minnesota gun owners dispute the data. They say having a gun at home has helped them protect their families and their property. … [Felicia] Herman, a research librarian, said she and [deceased husband Joel] Rosenberg decided to become gun owners after examining numerous sources of data. However, she thinks some of the information is flawed, and is particularly wary of the CDC's research conducted in the 1990s, which concluded that a gun in the home is more likely to be used to harm a resident than an intruder. ‘I think the CDC has already taken themselves out of the field because they've already issued one politically biased report and there are many people who [do] not trust them to do one that was unbiased,’ Herman said. She believes the research is driven by anti-gun bias because it focuses too much on the presence of guns and not other factors that might influence outcomes. She and other gun rights activists accuse the CDC of using federal funds to advocate for gun control. In 1997, a rider attached to CDC funding stipulated that its funding could not be used for gun control advocacy."

Not exactly a guy’s best opening line … Mike Creger of the Duluth News Tribune says: “A judge in Wisconsin has ordered a Hayward man to not have any more children as part of his sentence for failing to pay child support. Judge Eugene Harrington also ordered that John J. Butler reveal within three minutes of meeting any female that he is a convicted felon and has unpaid child support. The two-year probation sentence was handed down Jan. 9 after Butler, 28, pleaded no contest in October to felony failure to pay child support for more than 120 days in 2011. Harrington’s other conditions of probation are maintaining full-time employment, making child-support payments, counseling and sobriety. When reached at home Wednesday, the judge said he had no comment on the ruling. Butler was ordered to not father any children until all of his past-due support has been paid. … A similar ban on procreation was rendered by a Wisconsin judge in December, but Harrington’s requirement that Butler announce his status to new female acquaintances seems to be a new twist.” So the assumption here is what? That gals aren’t too keen on hard-drinking, deadbeat felons?

Freeze-maggeddon! Says Paul Huttner at MPR: “We shouldn't be surprised that a sub-zero arctic outbreak is on the way to Minnesota in mid-January. What's surprising is that we have avoided a sub-zero daytime high at MSP Airport for a record 4 year stretch. It's going to get very cold starting on Saturday night ... and lasting into most of next week. The only question appears to be ... how cold? The magnitude of arctic outbreaks is often hard to gauge before the fact. Models generally have trouble with precision on extreme events ... those that stray far from ‘climatology.’ Arctic air is sometimes underestimated ... and usually reluctant to leave as fast as the models would like once the heavy, dense arctic air is in place. The lack of deep snow cover across Minnesota is one factor working against prolonged, extreme cold.” The upside? Finally a reason to wear that pricey parka you bought six years ago.

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Comments (9)

Gun rights supporters and "inconvenient facts"


You'd think a research librarian would have a greater resepect for peer-reviewed research, which is what the CDC reearch is.

Interesting comment

Would the CDC send out biased information? I wouldn't be completely surprised. In the above article, there is no evidence offered that the CDC's report wasn't biased.

Nice assertion

You assert that the CDC is biased. Proof? (wait for it..none.)

If you're going to accuse the

If you're going to accuse the CDC of lying, just do it. Of course you would need some proof, which I suppose is gonna be a real problem for you.

Re "Theater Nights" in bars

The curtain fell on those very quickly, as local officials saw through the scam. A couple of bar owners took the case to court, where they lost. Just another brief and strange moment in Minnesota history.

Smoking onstage

That is the most ridiculous waste of legislative time I've ever heard of, and believe me, the competition for that particular honor is fierce. Ban smoking on stage? Gee, what next, ban bad language on stage?

It's simply silly season.

You can't realistically expect every legislator to spend his or her time on something productive when there are so many more entertaining issues to address. The next thing you know, someone will offer an amendment banning the use of stage guns as well.

Yeah, but...

When stage guns are outlawed only outlaws will have stage guns.

Workplace protections

The stage is someone's workplace, too. How about the other actors onstage who might not appreciate being exposed to secondhand smoke during every performance? Don't they deserve the same protections in their workplace also?

And then there are the audience members. Depending on the size of the theater and the effectiveness of whatever the building ventilation provides, audience members could be exposed, as well.

This really isn't as silly as you think once you begin looking at it a little more closely.