Apparently the Obamacare tax has not yet driven them to the brink of ruin. Joe Carlson’s Strib story says, “A handful of physicians received big paydays from Minnesota medical device companies last year, new federal data show. A review of payments of $1 million or more shows that eight doctors across the country collected a combined $81 million from Medtronic PLC and St. Jude Medical. All told, Minnesota companies paid out more than $211 million to doctors and hospitals in non-research payments last year, according to the federal Open Payments database for 2014 that was published Tuesday. … the 2014 edition of the federal database shows how more than 600,000 doctors and 1,100 hospitals accepted payments totaling $6.49 billion in a single year. The payments cover more than a dozen categories of spending, including consulting payments, gifts and honoraria, royalties, stock dividends, and travel and dining.”
“Big Food” is taking a hit. Mark Steil of MPR reports, “The multi-billion-dollar business is trying to cope now with major shifts in consumer attitudes, along with avian flu and drought in California — all at the same time. The trends are so brutal Fortune magazine recently called it the ‘War on Big Food’ as it detailed how major packaged-food companies lost $4 billion in market share just last year. Minnesota has a huge stake in Big Food. Packaged food makers including General Mills and Hormel, ingredient suppliers like Michael Foods and Cargill, and retailers and wholesalers such as Supervalu, Schwan’s and Target generate more than $300 billion in annual revenue.”
Here’s former state legislator Don Betzold in a Strib commentary on the sex offender program. “In this country, we are allowed to imprison people who have committed crimes for as long as they have been sentenced by a judge. We can detain people in treatment centers who are a danger to themselves or others, but only as long as they are treated for the condition that got them there. However, our U.S. Constitution does not allow us to lock up people, no matter what they did in the past, based on the speculation that they might do bad things in the future.”
In other words, if fireworks don’t get you, ISIS will. Says Reg Chapman at WCCO, “The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are asking Americans to remain vigilant to the threat of a terror attack over the Fourth of July weekend. The FBI is setting up command centers at its 56 field offices across the country, including the one in Minnesota. Although officials say there is no credible threat, the FBI is reacting to a call to arms by ISIS for mass murder during Ramadan.” And remember your sun screen.
In the St. Cloud Times, Mitch LeClair has a list (a list!) of ways tech can improve your Fourth of July experience. “Besides bug spray and sunblock, applications and websites can make the weekend more fun, comfortable and perhaps a little easier. Here are a few possibilities: 1. Public perspectives Using #onlyinmn, Instagram users have created more than 100,000 posts showing scenes from around Minnesota. Alyssa Ebel of Explore Minnesota said the state agency monitors the hashtag, which it began with a series of 2014 advertisements. She said posts on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere from ‘every pocket of the state’ have inspired her own trips.”
Yeah, “VOID” is not good. Jennie Lissarrague of KSTP-TV says, “Minnesota DMVs will be changing the way they invalidate licenses to comply with federal laws. Instead of clipping the bottom right corner of a license, officials will be perforating the license with the word ‘VOID’ on the left side of the card by the photo. The change will start July 6 and will affect all Minnesota cards, not just commercial driver’s licenses.”
Hope you like soy. Tom Meersman at the Strib reports, “Minnesota, Wisconsin and three other states will grow soybeans on a record-high number of acres this year, according to a national report issued Tuesday. The estimates provide the first look at 2015’s major crops based on farmer surveys and independent observations of what has been planted. Corn remains king in Minnesota and has been planted on 8.2 million acres, the same as in 2014, according to the estimates by U.S. Department of Agriculture. Soybeans are a close second in 2015 and are being grown on 7.7 million Minnesota acres, 350,000 acres more than last year and the most in state history.”
Might want to keep an eye on this kid. WCCO-TV’s Ashley Roberts says, “A Waseca teenager was in court Tuesday, and the main question under consideration was whether or not he should he be tried as an adult. John LaDue was arrested last year after police say they found bomb-making materials in a storage locker. They also found his journal, which outlined plans to kill family members and attack his school. … For the entire morning Tuesday, testimony was heard from Katheryn Cranbrook, a psychologist who performs neutral evaluations for the county. She testified that LaDue has a limited interest in developing relationships with anyone, he doesn’t show concern for the seriousness of the allegations against him, and he doesn’t believe he needs help. From meeting with LaDue, reading his journal and going over evidence in the case, Cranbrook believes he poses a ‘significant risk of future violence.’”
Tough year for bikers. Michael Rietmulder at City Pages says, “The first six months of 2015 have been especially deadly for motorcyclists, with more than double the death toll from this time last year. In 2014, a total of 46 motorcyclists died on the road, compared with 36 through the first half of 2015. [Lt. Tiffani Nielson, public information officer with the Minnesota State Patrol] pegs part of the motorcycle death surge on an early spring, an uptick in riders and inexperienced bikers struggling with bigger, faster bikes between their legs. … The somber numbers released by the Department of Public Safety come heading into Fourth of July weekend, traditionally the third deadliest of the year following Thanksgiving and Christmas. Through July, the state patrol is upping drunk driving enforcement and soon plans a heightened crackdown on speedsters … .” Note to bikers: Don’t cruise in my blind spots.
Perv alert. Jennifer Stockinger of the Forum News Service has the story of a hockey camp employee, the girls’ shower and his cell phone camera. “A hockey camp athletic trainer allegedly recorded video of a 14-year-old girl showering at a Minnesota ice arena, according to criminal charges. James William Diffley, 32, of Maple Grove, is accused of reaching around a locker room privacy wall with his cell phone in the Breezy Point Hockey Center in Breezy Point, about 30 miles north of Brainerd in Crow Wing County.” Classy.
Walker Watch, i.e. Today in Pandering. At The Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff writes, “Scott Walker has his groove back with social conservatives and he has the Supreme Court to thank. After the court ruled that the Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry, Walker released a statement calling for a constitutional amendment to let states define marriage as between one man and one woman. Social conservatives loved it, and it came at a moment when he needed all the love he could get. … Mary Cheney, an openly gay political consultant who is also Dick Cheney’s daughter, expressed bafflement at Walker’s move. ‘From a political perspective, I don’t understand why you would do that,’ she said.”