At the Star Tribune Tim Harlow says, “It’s been a deadly year for Minnesotans on foot. The combination of distracted drivers rolling through red lights and pedestrians more mindful of their cellphones than crosswalks has helped push the number of pedestrian deaths to 38 as of mid-December. Hundreds more walkers have been hurt seriously enough on the streets — even in crosswalks — to land in the emergency room. In the past two weeks, three pedestrians have been hit by light-rail trains. One died.”
Speaking of fatalities, Liz Sawyer of the Strib writes, “Fire-related deaths have spiked this year, claiming 52 Minnesotans, compared with 44 in 2014, according to data from the state fire marshal. On the heels of yet another fatal fire Thursday night in north Minneapolis, officials are warning residents about fire safety during the holiday season, as some of the most dangerous weeks for residential blazes still lie ahead.”
Georgia doesn’t want John LaDue. The KSTP-TV story says, “Court officials are trying to find another facility to take a Minnesota teen who authorities say was planning a school attack. A secure Georgia facility for autism spectrum patients was set to take 18-year-old John LaDue of Waseca. But defense attorney Jeff Johnson said Friday because of ‘technical, bureaucratic issues,’ the state of Georgia declined to accept supervision of LaDue.”
A former cop responds to Rep. Keith Ellison’s Strib commentary on police shootings. Says Richard Greelis, “That Ellison wants to change the criminal justice system to get the kind of justice that can only be won by finding an officer guilty, regardless of the evidence, seems a bit unjust. It seems his desire to revamp the law so that officers who shoot minorities are punished and removed from service is an impatient response to a tragedy that may require some time to adjudicate. Shouldn’t Ellison be more interested in the truth than in prosecution at all costs?”
Another bona fide local character has passed away. Lynn Underwood of the Strib reports, “[Hell’s Kitchen chef/owner Mitch] Omer, 61, died ‘unexpectedly but peacefully’ in his sleep at home on Friday, his family said. Gerdes has planned a celebration of his life for Hell’s Kitchen staff, friends, family and loyal customers at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the restaurant at 80 S. 9th St. At 6 feet 4 and 270 pounds, ‘Mitch was larger than life’, said Gerdes. ‘He was big and boisterous. His presence could be intimidating.’”
Stribber Dennis Anderson has the story of Bud Grant crash-landing in Saskatchewan. “The other day, while holding forth on his favorite post-NFL topic — the plight of North American ducks — the retired Vikings coach mentioned casually that he and a friend crash-landed a plane in Canada this fall while in pursuit of mallards and other fowl. And yes, the hunting trip continued unabated — albeit in a U-Haul truck. The incident occurred on Oct. 17. Grant, who is 88, and his pilot pal, Jim Hanson, of Albert Lea, belly-flopped a twin-engine Beechcraft to a screeching stop a couple hours short of their destination in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. On impact, the plane’s propellers shredded, showering sparks. Boom, Grant’s Labrador retriever, the third passenger aboard, seemed simultaneously afoot and aloft as the plane careened to a stop.”
Oh, come on! Do we really need another lutefisk story? At WCCO-TV Rachel Slavik says, “Lutefisk season is upon us, as many Minnesotans celebrate their Scandinavian heritage. Dining halls and churches draw crowds in the thousands who want to wolf down this fish delicacy. And the majority of that re-hydrated ling cod comes from one Minneapolis business unwilling to change a long-standing tradition.” There are people in other places who see us all in our Subarus, Birkenstocks mashing the gas pedal to be first in line at the church basement lutefisk dinner.
Big news on Ammoland.com, home of “Shooting Sports News.” Justin Stakes tells us, “While we’ve been fighting back ever since we started the MN Gun Owners PAC, it’s far past time that we took more aggressive steps to push back against all of these attacks against our rights. That’s why earlier this year, we began working with a group of strategy, nonprofit, and legal advisors to lay the groundwork for a new grassroots gun rights organization in Minnesota. An organization that would be member oriented, and geared towards the challenges of today in grassroots advocacy, educational efforts, legislation & lobbying, elections, and legal action. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus!” Finally, an organization to give precious second amendment rights enthusiasts some pull with the Legislature!
The oil bust in North Dakota has charities scrambling for dough, too. The AP says, “Thousands of layoffs from the oil industry’s slide have taken a toll on donations in western North Dakota’s oil patch, just as charities say their need is increasing. Donations to the Salvation Army were down by more than 60 percent in Williston, in the heart of oil country, as of mid-December. And energy companies that used to write hefty checks to all kinds of charities are cutting back, an industry group acknowledged.”
Somebody has seen too many movies. John Weiss of the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, “Rochester police said a 23-year-old Racine man is lucky to be alive after he managed to get away from police, scramble over a small parking ramp wall, jump several feet into the Zumbro River and cross the river — all while being handcuffed. … Another officer was on the other side of the river to recapture the now cold and wet man. The temperature around the time was 8 degrees, according to the National Weather Service at La Crosse, Wis. The man was taken to Mayo Clinic Hospital – Saint Marys Campus. He was ticketed with disorderly conduct and fleeing police on foot and released … .”
And why you ask isn’t the earliest sunset on Winter Solstice? On Paul Huttner’s blog at MPR — via EarthSky he quotes, “Why isn’t the earliest sunset on the year’s shortest day? You have to think about it in terms of solar noon or midday, the time midway between sunrise and sunset, when the sun reaches its highest point for the day. A clock ticks off exactly 24 hours from one noon to the next. But the actual days – as measured by the spin of the Earth – are rarely exactly 24 hours long. So the exact time of solar noon, as measured by Earth’s spin, shifts in a seasonal way. If you measured Earth’s spin from one solar noon to the next, you’d find that – around the time of the December solstice – the time period between consecutive solar noons is actually half a minute longer than 24 hours.” Got that? There will be a quiz.
Some good photos from 2015 concerts on the City Pages site. Because you’ve probably all got Insane Clown Posse’s Christmas CD, I recommend scrolling through to that shot.