“Clearly invalid and unconstitutional.” James MacPherson of the AP reports, “A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into pregnancy, calling the law ‘clearly invalid and unconstitutional.’ U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck granted a temporary injunction Monday that blocks the law from taking effect on Aug. 1. ‘There is no question that (the North Dakota law) is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion,’ Hovland wrote. ‘(It) is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade from 1973 … and the progeny of cases that have followed.’ ” Well, there’s no point in equivocating, is there?
Fascinating piece of statistical work in The New York Times this morning about the impact of geography on upward mobility. David Leonhart writes, “The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas. Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota. … parts of this country with the highest mobility rates — like Pittsburgh, Seattle and Salt Lake City — have rates roughly as high as those in Denmark and Norway, two countries at the top of the international mobility rankings. In areas like Atlanta and Memphis, by comparison, upward mobility appears to be substantially lower than in any other rich country … .”
Out of Edina … Tom Webb’s PiPress story says, “Nash Finch, one of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 corporate giants and a venerable Twin Cities-based food distributor, is being purchased in a $1.3 billion deal by Michigan-based Spartan Stores. Monday’s deal combines Edina-based Nash Finch’s strong military-commissary business with Spartan’s presence in Great Lakes’ food distribution. But for Minnesota, it means the loss of a corporate headquarters and a business with $5 billion in annual sales. Executives stressed that the merged corporation will continue ‘to retain a presence’ in the Twin Cities, but its corporate headquarters will be in Grand Rapids, Mich.”
At the Strib, Steve Alexander says, “After the deal closes, which the companies said would likely be later this year, Spartan shareholders will own about 57.7 percent of the combined equity while Nash Finch shareholders will own 42.3 percent. ‘Together, we will create one of the premier grocery wholesaler and retail operators,’ Spartan Stores CEO Dennis Eidson said in a statement. The combined company will have annual sales of about $7.5 billion. The food distribution industry is dominated by Sysco Corp., a publicly-traded company based in Houston, with annual sales of around $44 billion and US Foods, a closely held firm from Chicago, at about $20 billion.”
In other business news, MPR’s Martin Moylan paints a mostly buoyant picture of Medtronic today. “Wall Street thinks [CEO Omar] Ishrak has made a difference, after coming to Medtronic from GE, where he had been CEO of the company’s health care business. Since Ishrak took command, Medtronic’s stock is up about 45 percent and sales are up. Profits rose 16 percent during Ishrak’s first year leading the company. They slipped about 4 percent in the second year but remain well above the profit levels the company was posting a few years ago. … Not everything is going Medtronic’s way right now. It is subject to a medical device tax that amounts to about 2 percent of its sales. Like other device firms the company has announced numerous recalls of products with problems that can harm patients. Medtronic has also announced multiple rounds of layoffs that cut thousands of jobs companywide and hundreds in Minnesota. And analysts say the company also faces pricing pressures from rivals seeking more sales, and hospitals and other customers intent on cutting costs.”
Another day and another sex-abuse case for Jeff Anderson … . Stribber Rose French writes, “Two former Boy Scouts filed lawsuits Monday in Rochester, Minn., alleging they were sexually abused by a troop leader nearly four decades ago. St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, a leading legal advocate for victims of sexual abuse at the hands of religious clergy and others, filed the suits on behalf of two former scouts, identified as Doe 8 and Doe 9, who say they were abused in the 1970s by Rochard Hokanson, a convicted molester, who now lives in Faribault, Minn. … Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the Boy Scouts of America, Gamehaven Council, St. Pius X Catholic Church of Rochester and Hokanson.”
“Grandma drummer” has gone viral. Mark Memmott of NPR writes, “We can’t start the new week without posting more video of the ‘grandma drummer who captured so much attention on Friday. As we said in an update Saturday, the mystery woman who became a YouTube hit thanks to video of her rocking out at a La Cross, Wis., drum shop has been ID’d as Mary Hvizda, 63, of Onalaska, Wis. Now, she’s told WKBT-TV about how she began drumming at the age of 15 and played in bands around Wisconsin until she was about 40.” What a minute, “grandma”? If Keith Moon were still alive he’d be 67.
The governor is looking into the bear-napping business. Says Josephine Marcotty in the Strib, “Gov. Mark Dayton today will publicly discuss bear researcher Lynn Rogers’ last-ditch appeal for a state permit that will allow him to continue his controversial practice of putting radio collars on wild bears and placing video cameras in their dens. … state wildlife officials say that Rogers’ methods of cozying up to the bears, including hand-feeding, has created a public safety threat with 50 so-called habituated bears increasingly dependent on human contact roaming the woods near Rogers’ sprawling center outside Ely.”
At Politics in Minnesota, Briana Bierschbach files a report on the local GOP’s sudden ambivalence about official endorsements. “DFLers have headed into contested primaries in statewide campaigns for years, even after endorsing a candidate. But time and time again, Republicans enforced an ethic built around backing their endorsees in the name of party unity and getting a head start on general election season. Attitudes toward the endorsement are changing, however, after the last two statewide GOP-endorsed candidates considerably underperformed Republicans’ expectations. On top of that, the debt-straddled Republican Party of Minnesota has lost the financial clout it used to bring on behalf of its endorsed candidates. Already two candidates for governor have said they likely will head straight to a primary election, practically guaranteeing the state’s first contested GOP primary for governor in 20 years. … GOP activist and former State Auditor Pat Anderson said, ‘There’s no more Bill Cooper and Tony Sutton running around saying we are going to spend a ton of money against you if you don’t have the endorsement.’ ” What that party needs are more credible threats … .