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Regional manufacturers have worst month in six years

Plus: GOP says cost of new Senate office building continues to rise; Superior mayor supports recall election; EPA develops method to decrease lamprey population; and more.

REUTERS/Adam Fenster

December. Bad month for manufacturing. Says Dee DePass of the Star Tribune, “Minnesota and other Midwest manufacturers slowed in December to one of the worst performances in six years due to the strong U.S. dollar and weaknesses in Canada and abroad, according to a widely watched economic report. ‘Those factors will continue to squeeze U.S. and regional manufacturers,’ said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group, which produces the Mid-America Business Conditions Index.”

Related. Jim Spencer of the Strib says, “The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), whose members include some of Minnesota’s biggest companies, came out in favor of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Monday. The free trade agreement ‘will open markets and put manufacturers in a much stronger position to compete in an important and growing region of the world,’ NAM CEO Jay Timmons said in a news release.

The Case of the Peeved Pot Purveyor. Says Brian Bakst of the AP, “A cannabis producer left out of Minnesota’s medical marijuana program is suing the state over the planned public release of information submitted as part of an unsuccessful bid.”

And The Case of The Case That Rolls Ever On. Emily Welker of the Forum News Service reports, “A Clay County judge upheld a plea deal that spares a former junior hockey player from sex offender registration requirements after the player pleaded guilty in a teenage sex tape scandal that led to a three-count conviction on child pornography charges.”

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And while we’re talking stories with legs, the GOP is still running with this one. At MPR Tim Pugmire says, “Republicans in the Minnesota Senate contend that the new legislative office building they continue to oppose will cost taxpayers more than originally expected. GOP lawmakers said they were recently notified that Senate funds will be used this year to defray the cost of parking rates in the ramp attached to the new building. The monthly rate will be $74.28. The $90 million project was supposed to cost taxpayers $77 million, with the remaining $13 million coming from parking fees.”

Then there’s this one. Grace Lyden of the Forum folks tells us, “The associate superintendent of Fargo Public Schools has upheld a principal’s decision to refuse to allow a photo of a student posing with a rifle in the school’s yearbook. Charles Renville, the North High School senior’s father, is now urging parents to send their kids to school wearing shirts that support hunting rights and the Second Amendment. ‘Do not lay down your God given rights! Resist this bad policy and stand for liberty!’ Renville wrote last week on Facebook, before asking all involved ‘to be civil and respectful.'” He forgot the “precious” part.

In the Pioneer Press, Mara Gottfried revisits the mystery of the woman killed while crawling across a freeway. “The 28-year-old was killed when a vehicle struck her as she crawled on Interstate 35E near Grand Avenue. The hit-and-run driver has not been found, and the State Patrol cannot conclusively determine how [Emily] Boone ended up on the freeway. … At the time Boone was killed, people had been trying to reach her. An aunt called Boone’s cellphone, which was found near her in the road, and a trooper answered it, the report said. Officers checked the area above the highway on Grand Avenue and found a man walking around, saying he’d been looking for Boone. He said he worked at a nearby sober house where Boone had been staying. She had become upset and left, so he was trying to find her, a State Patrol report said. But the property’s owner, Scott Kueppers, told the Pioneer Press that Boone had not lived at the residence for months.”

Wisconsin loves a good recall. Another Forum News Service story says, “In the wake of a Facebook comment that sparked controversy, Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen says he supports a recall election if that process helps the community move forward. … On Dec. 21, Hagen responded on Facebook to a post that included a photograph of first lady Michelle Obama and wrote, ‘Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for.’” If he loses, he might be able to get some militia work in Oregon.

It’s a powerful thing, the sex drive of a Great Lakes lamprey. John Myers in the Duluth News Tribune says, “After decades of development and testing, an effort to use pheromones to fool the sex drive of lampreys in the Great Lakes has been deemed good enough to be registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA last week registered the pheromone, 3kPZS, as the first ‘vertebrate pheromone biopesticide’ authorized for use in U.S. waters. While it’s worked in test efforts, it’s now hoped that the pheromone, when poured into rivers, will attract adult lampreys on a large scale to a specific spot where they can be captured and destroyed before they can mate, thus reducing the overall population.”

About our soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion Vikings, Sports columnist Matt Calkins in the Seattle Times urges caution, “It looks like a lay-up. A one-foot putt. A jigsaw puzzle with just two pieces. A month after manhandling the Vikings, 38-7, the Seahawks will head back to Minnesota for their first-round playoff game. But don’t let that score from Dec. 6 sucker you. That result is officially irrelevant. You may think Seattle was just dealt the ideal hand, but in reality, they could have their hands full. … Sunday is suddenly an intriguing matchup. You almost wonder if Seattle wishes it beat the Vikings by, say, 13 instead of 31 last time. Fear generates the survival instinct, and the Seahawks may have just scared Minnesota straight.”

Meanwhile, down in Charlotte, Scott Fowler of the Observer says, “Think you’ve got a Sunday off, Panthers fans? Think again. It’s time for you to re-familiarize yourself with Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson, Captain Munnerlyn and the younger Kalil brother. Because on Sunday afternoon, you should be rooting hard for the Minnesota Vikings to beat Seattle. If the Seahawks win – and although seeded lower and on the road, they are favored over the Vikings by nearly a touchdown – they come to Charlotte to play Carolina … . I think the Panthers and Seattle are actually the two best teams in the NFC right now. But with the way the seedings have shaken out, it is impossible for them to meet in the NFC Championship Game … .”