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Merger leads to $9.3 billion in tax advantages for Medtronic

Plus: lottery reminds people to play responsibly; a case of ‘extreme domestic violence’ in Apple Valley; more on the Vikings stadium photo-bomb feud; and more.

Wikimedia Commons/Bobak Ha'Eri

I really gotta get me one of these inversion things. Martin Moylan at MPR reports, “Medtronic says tax advantages stemming from the merger with Ireland-based Covidien have made billions of dollars available for stock buybacks and other uses. The medical device company said it now has access to $9.3 billion that had been held by subsidiaries operating outside the U.S. Medtronic plans to use $5 billion of that amount to buy its own stock before the end of its 2018 fiscal year. Stock buybacks like this typically mean higher share prices for investors. Medtronic also has plans to pay down debt.”

But remember folks, $1.4 billion ain’t what it used to be. The KARE-TV story on the booming lottery business says, “The Minnesota Lottery said Monday it will air radio spots that remind people to play within their budgets and not get carried away as they eye the $1.4 billion estimated jackpot. The message will say, ‘Please remember, it’s just a game.’ … Since early November, the $30 million in ticket sales in Minnesota has meant about $12 million in profits for the state’s general and dedicated environment accounts.” That’s why they call it a “tax on … .”

Speaking of the gummint raiding your pocket, Patrick Condon at the Strib says, “Minnesota collected more taxes than projected in the last two months of 2015.  Minnesota Management and Budget reported Monday that general fund receipts in November and December totaled $3.7 billion — a total of $43 million, or 1.2 percent, more than projected in the November economic forecast.”

Big coal is feeling the squeeze. Says Dave Shaffer in the Strib, “Arch Coal Inc., supplier of half the coal burned in Minnesota power plants, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, but it pledged no interruption in mining and shipments to customers like Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power.”

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Good piece from KMSP’s Tom Lyden on that murder-suicide by an Apple Valley “filmmaker” a year ago. “For years David Crowley had worked on a film project called ‘Gray State,’ along with a related documentary, ‘The Rise.’  A concept trailer for ‘Gray State,’ shows the U.S. Government taking away all citizens’ liberties and FEMA turning into a militarized, occupying police force. ‘From all accounts, he was consumed with this film and dark topic conspiracy theories about the fall of society,’ said [Apple Valley Police Chief Jon] Rechtzigel. ‘If that’s all you’re working on, it can take you to a bad place.’” 

Spoiler alert! Grace Lyden at the Forum News Service reports, “Clarence Burcham just wanted to go on his family camping trip. He thought if he told police what they wanted to hear, they would let him. So after a pair of interrogations lasting more than six hours in 2009, Burcham confessed to the 1993 rape and strangling of Sharon Stafford, a Moorhead prostitute and his next-door neighbor. It’s a plotline that might sound familiar to viewers of the highly publicized Netflix documentary series ‘Making a Murderer’ … .”

Riham Feshir of MPR says, “A student at Central High School experienced a ‘serious medical emergency’ and had to be hospitalized Monday afternoon. The incident, details of which were not disclosed in a letter to parents, prompted the Principal Mary Mackbee to call on the school’s crisis support team. Medics were called to the school around 1:15 p.m. on the report of a cardiac arrest and transported a student to Regions Hospital.”

So much for “local local.” Sarah Horner in the PiPress tells us, “For more than 20 years, Maplewood residents have been able to turn on Channel 15 and watch Bob Zick’s face photo-shopped onto an image of Superman as the superhero flies across the television screen. It’s part of the intro to his long-standing local cable show, ‘Inside Insight News Hour,’ along with a clip from the movie ‘A Few Good Men’ that shows Tom Cruise famously yelling, ‘I want the truth!’ … Some have alleged the show takes unfair shots at local government officials and blurs the lines between truth and fiction. Zick, who lives in North St. Paul, has property in Maplewood and once lived there. ‘Inside Insight,’ along with a handful of other shows produced by local community members that play on cable channels 15 and 17, will no longer be broadcast in Maplewood following the Maplewood City Council’s decision to pull out of the Ramsey-Washington Suburban Cable Commission.

This is cool. Says Jeremy Olson in the Strib, “A California supercomputer is advising heart specialists in Minneapolis on when they should — and more importantly when they shouldn’t — thread instruments inside patients’ blood vessels to examine blockages. The so-called HeartFlow system uses images from a patient’s CT scan and analyzes them against volumes of data on the human vascular system and the science of fluid dynamics. As a result, it can diagnose patients’ needs — and help doctors avert heart attacks and stroke — without the costly and invasive procedure of inserting a catheter.”

Also in corporate warfare, Chris Moran at The Consumerist seems to enjoy the U.S. Bank vs. Wells Fargo feud over “photo-bombing” signage. “ … Wells mocks what it sees as the team’s rush to expedite this matter and turn it into something bigger than it is. ‘This is a straightforward contractual dispute about signs,’ reads the response, ‘not an emergency requiring the extraordinary remedy of injunctive relief.’ … And if it’s just a matter of whether the signs should be illuminated, Wells doesn’t understand why the team is now demanding that both of the 56′ x 56′ signs be covered up in a solid-colored tarp so that no part of the signs can be read. In addition to the illumination, the Vikings have a problem with the fact that the lettering on the otherwise flat signs is raised, arguing that it ‘creates a completely different image’ than if the sign were flush to the roof. Reading the Wells response, you can almost hear the bank’s lawyers laughing.”

Finally, even though Scott Walker won’t be making the country work like he’s made Wisconsin work, Salon’s Paul Rosenberg is keeping an eye on him. “The third week in December brought two startling stories highlighting the ongoing Dixiefication of the Midwest, a key ingredient in how the GOP, with its aging white male demographic base, is nonetheless strategically outmaneuvering the Democratic Party on multiple fronts … .” Of course, right now today, a touch of Mississippi might feel kinda good.