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Minnesotans dominate Olympic hockey teams

MNsure spurring health care hiring; firefighters still working on West Bank site; year’s memorable photos; rail oil tankers on upswing in state; pundits on “dysfunctional” Vikings; and more.

Aaaaaand we’re back.

The downside? They’re going to have to play in Russia … WCCO-TV and the AP say: “The U.S. men’s hockey team for the Winter Olympics has been announced, and close to half of the players all share Minnesota connections. Among those headed to Sochi in Russia will be the Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.”

Rachel Blount’s Strib story says: “Five players with Minnesota ties — Gigi Marvin, Megan Bozek, Anne Schleper, Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein — were named Wednesday to the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team.”

Dust off your resume … Says Elizabeth Stawicki of MPR: “Community health centers are hiring more people to prepare for an influx of new patients who are now covered because of the federal health care law. The law expanded Medicaid and provided some people with premium discounts through the state’s new online insurance marketplace, MNsure. As a result, community health centers expect to see a 12 to 15 percent rise in the number of patients this year.”  And you know some woolly-header will claim this gummint is creatin’ jobs …

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On that blast and fire on the West Bank … Stribbers Randy Furst, Rochelle Olson and Josephine Marcotty report: “Asked if anyone had been found inside, [Minneapolis Fire Chief John] Fruetel said firefighters have not yet been able to enter. Fire investigators are on the scene, and city inspectors are assessing the structural integrity of the building, he said. Firefighters are still fighting a few hotspots and expect to continue doing so overnight, and investigators won’t be able to enter the building until it’s declared safe.”

How slow was the New Year’s news in North Dakota? So slow we got an update on erstwhile Bismarck TV anchor A.J. Clemente. Says Ryan Johnson for the Forum News Service: “[H]is first on-air moments as a news anchor for KFYR-TV ‘couldn’t have gone any worse,’ he wrote on Twitter after he started the broadcast by muttering two profanities. (See it here.) He was suspended that evening and fired the next day. … It … gave him a chance to interview celebrities on the red carpet for ‘Live with Kelly and Michael.’ While he still dreams of working for ESPN, he said he’s also interested in entertainment reporting.” Actually, I believe that’s called “marketing/PR work.”

Some nice shots from PiPress photog Ben Garvin. On his blog, he says: “I don’t remember half of the things I photograph during any one year. It inevitably becomes a blur as I’m sent to and fro and edit thousands and thousands of pictures. But some always find a way to linger in my cluttered brain. These are 10 moments from last year I won’t forget.”

Some not exactly reassuring inventory and tracking info from rail and oil companies rolling tankers through Minnesota. In a John Croman story for KARE-TV: “The BNSF said that at least eight oil trains are in play on any given day, but couldn’t say Tuesday how many of those cross through Minnesota. … But it’s clear that the amount of crude oil moving through Minnesota is on the upswing. The American Association of Railroads issued a report this week showing that, nationally, the number of crude oil carloads has soared from 29,000 in 2010 to 400,000 this year.” There’s no reason to muddle the public’s pretty little heads with this stuff.

Local sports pundits have said more or less the same thing — in much less blunt terms but Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated/CNN says: “I keep hearing all this talk about the Cleveland Browns being a dysfunctional, hopeless, historically tortured team … and all I can think is: ‘Why is everybody saying ‘Cleveland Browns’ when they mean ‘Minnesota Vikings’? … Some franchises can talk about their enormous fan base or successful owners. That is hard for the Vikings … Brothers Zygi and Mark Wilf fly to games from their New Jersey homes, then fly home. Their primary objectives … seemed to be getting a stadium built and playing with their franchise sporadically, like it’s a toy.”

Academia produces some of the best feuds … Says Maura Lerner of the Strib: “Last week, [Olga] Issaenko sued the university and [Martina] Bazzaro, her former supervisor, saying they deprived her of credit for her research findings and undermined her career. The U issued a brief statement, saying it is confident that Issaenko’s claims ‘are without merit.’ Court documents reveal that Issaenko, 43, was fired after only 10 months on the job, and that University Police became involved because of concerns about her ‘potentially dangerous behavior.’ ”