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Twin Cities have spent equivalent of three weeks below zero

Best Buy plans cost-cutting; giant trout confiscated; robbery prompts customer to kick into gear; apparent murder-suicide; Bachmann addresses Tea Party Patriots; and more.

There’s an interesting/depressing map up at the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. Basically it calculates the number of hours an area here in the Upper Midwest has been below zero this winter. “The amount of time is expressed in units of 24 hour days, not the number of days with a sub zero temperature. If you are curious how these numbers compare to what we typically experience during winter, they are about 1.5 to 3 times larger than average. It is interesting to compare Iowa’s totals with those further north of us. It has certainly been bad in Iowa, but it can be so much worse!” Yeah! Like … here!

Or, as Bob Collins at MPR puts it: “It added up all of the hours in which the temperature has been below zero and calculated the total number of days of nothing but below-zero weather. For the Twin Cities, that’s about three weeks. For northern Minnesota, people might as well live underground.”

At Reuters, Danya Skariachan follows news from Best Buy and writes: “The world’s largest consumer electronics chain said it would more aggressively cut annualized costs, by about $1 billion. It originally planned to cut costs by $725 million in North America, a target it has exceeded by $40 million. … the company had further fat to cut and expected the retailer to work on trimming corporate overhead expenses and personalizing its marketing.”

They’ve confiscated the giant trout … Sam Cook of the Duluth News Tribune reports: “A potential ice fishing world-record lake trout caught by a northern Minnesota man earlier this month has been confiscated from a Duluth taxidermist by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The catch is under investigation by enforcement officials with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, officials with the agency said. The fish, which unofficially weighed more than 52 pounds, was confiscated Monday night from Bowe Taxidermy in Duluth.”

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Take that! The WCCO-TV story says: “A 28-year-old man faces charges in connection to two robberies in St. Paul Monday night, one in which surveillance images show a customer intervening, kicking the robber in the face. … According to the criminal complaint, a customer saw the robbery taking place and intervened by jumping up on the counter and kicking Hanson in the face.” Kung fu, baby!

Hmmmm … The AP story says: “Newly unsealed documents allege Minnesota war protesters told an undercover FBI informant that they believed in violent, armed revolution against the U.S. and raised money for Colombian and Palestinian organizations the government considers to be terrorists. The documents shed new light on FBI searches of homes of several anti-war activists in 2010. FBI documents suggest agents were looking into potential connections between the activists and foreign groups. No one has ever been charged.”

The tale of the couple dead in an apparent murder-suicide after shooting a deputy sheriff is both strange and sad … Wendy Reuer of the Forum News service says: “The Ramsey County medical examiner has ruled [Devin] Blowers’ death a suicide by gunshot and [Katie Ray] Christopherson’s death a homicide. BCA investigators believe Blowers shot Christopherson, then himself. … The Thompson-Larson Funeral home published a death notice for Blowers on Wednesday. By evening, a Facebook page remembering him as a loving father had been created.”

Charged … as an adult. Chao Xiong of the Strib reports: “The teenage boy who allegedly threw the first punch that knocked out Ray Widstrand last year was certified Wednesday to stand trial as an adult in the brutal attack that nearly cost Widstrand his life. … Witnesses said [Charles K.] Redding came up, seemingly unprovoked, and punched Widstrand about 11:30 p.m. Widstrand fell and never regained consciousness during the attack, witnesses said.”

You may have missed the “intellectual” part … Corey Mitchell of the Strib writes: “Michele Bachmann served as an opening act as the Tea Party Patriots hosted a fifth anniversary party in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. In a speech filled with digs at President Obama and other Democratic leaders, Bachmann drew laughter and applause from a less-than-packed ballroom at a Capitol Hill hotel this morning. ‘The tea party movement at its core is an intellectual movement,’ Bachmann said. ‘These are ideas that I would put up against any ideas in the world.’ ” Like a flat earth and turning lead into gold?