An AP story on oil freight train accidents across the northern plains says: “At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions. The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the U.S. since at least 1986. … Over the next decade, rail-based oil shipments are forecast to increase from 1 million barrels a day to more than 4.5 million barrels a day, according to transportation officials.”
Some valuable data, via Adam Belz at the Strib: “Unemployment fell to 4.6 percent in December, and … overall employment has recovered what it lost in the downturn. But getting a good job is still a huge challenge for many Minnesotans, as a recent report from the Minnesota Budget Project shows. … Minnesotans without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 13.2 percent. … 16- to 24-year-olds are still unemployed at a rate of 9.1 percent.”
Another sign we’ve had enough winter … . From the Northland Newscenter in Duluth: “Communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin are asking residents to avoid pipe freeze-ups. This comes after several water pipes have frozen up over the past couple of weeks. Sanitary Districts in Washburn, Wis., Drummond, Wis., and Hibbing, Minn., would like residents to keep a faucet running, with a pencil-sized stream, at all times, until further notice. Experts estimate people will need to run their faucets until around March or whenever the ground thaws.”
For WCCO-TV, Esme Murphy reports: “[A] Minnesota legislator is now proposing a bill that would put e-cigarettes across under the same state-wide restrictions as cigarettes. The bill from DFL State Rep. Phyllis Kahn would limit the use of e-cigarettes under the Minnesota Clean Indoor Act. The bill would mean you could not use an e-cigarette in indoor buildings or public spaces that ban smoking, just like traditional cigarettes.” Briana Bierschbach has MinnPost coverage here.
Not a good start … Jim Adams of the Strib says: “The new year is off to a deadly start with 31 traffic fatalities through Feb. 12, a jump of 10 over a year ago, state officials said Sunday. Primary culprits behind the preliminary data released by the state Office of Traffic Safety are the lack of seat-belt use in 12 of the 31 road deaths, and another seven deaths linked to speeding.”
There’s something oxymoronic about an orderly demolition. Rochelle Olson of the Strib says: “A beam unexpectedly fell out of sequence in the Metrodome demolition Monday, bringing the teardown to a halt while investigators work to figure out what happened. No one was injured and all debris fell within the demolition safety zone, so no passersby were at risk of injury … Demolition requires the same precise engineering as construction and carries similar risks. Surprises are not welcome.” Oh, OK. Sorry.
Back to the Fifties … Susan Feyder of the Strib reports: “The Twin Cities is getting a new drive-in movie theater, bucking a trend that has seen their numbers dwindle from more than three dozen to just one in the metro area. The Elko New Market City Council has approved plans for a large outdoor movie theater at the Elko Speedway. Tom Ryan, president and owner of Elko Speedway, said Monday he’s hoping the theater will be open by Memorial Day.” How about a double feature of Elvis in “Speedway” and Ron “Opie” Howard in “Eat My Dust”?
A keeper … . Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune tells us: “The fish had taken all of his line. [Rob] Scott, 65, quickly managed to retrieve 6 or 8 feet of his 20-pound-test monofilament line. What ensued was an hour-long battle with an immense lake trout. The fish was 45 inches long, 32 inches in girth and unofficially weighed 52 pounds, 3 ounces on a hand-held digital scale, Scott said. … Scott, who had been fishing on the Ontario side of the lake, plans to have it mounted. Bill Congdon of Crane Lake has fished for lake trout in the same area where Scott caught his fish. ‘That’s an unbelievable fish for there,’ Congdon said. ‘Thirty-something would be a huge one. I’ve caught ’em 20. But 52-3?’ ” You betcha.
Big of ’em … Says Corey Mitchell in the Strib: “A Republican campaign group that set up fake 2014 election websites for Democrats, including Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, has tweaked the sites to make clear that donations sent through them will benefit the GOP. The National Republican Congressional Committee recently made the changes after Washington, D.C.-based watchdog groups raised concerns about the sites possibly violating Federal Election Commission rules.” What do they mean, “possibly”?