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Local blood banks move to stop Zika

Plus: Democrats want campaign finance amendment put before voters; what Minnesota’s Host Super Bowl Committee is up to in San Francisco; high school hockey goalie records 111 saves; and more.

But feel free to freak out anyway. In the Strib Glenn Howatt reports on the Zika outbreak. “Twin Cities blood banks are taking steps to prevent the Zika virus from entering the region’s blood supply … . Although health officials stress that the risk of Zika transmission is low in Minnesota, both Memorial Blood Centers and the Minnesota Region of the American Red Cross will ask people who have traveled to Zika-infected regions to delay blood donations until they have been on American soil for at least four weeks.”

More on the next push for state-wide broadband. This from Mike Nowatzki in the Grand Forks Herald, “While the task force suggests that the state spend $200 million for broadband expansion, private money also is helping. The RS Fiber Cooperative in Renville and Sibley counties, for example, is a coalition of electric and farmer cooperatives with local government assistance that is expanding broadband in that area. Telephone, cable television and similar companies also are investing in broadband, the report added, with more than $713 million expected to be spent this year.”

At City Pages, Mike Mullen has fun with campaign fund-raising reports. He writes, “Donating to Donald Trump is doubly dumb. Trump cannot go a few minutes without reminding us of his (exaggerated, but still sizable) self-worth, and he has repeatedly said he is self-funding his run for president. Then, there’s the fact that donating to Trump is putting your money where his mouth is — when not kissing his own [bleep], he’s using it to say stupid things about the economy and despicable things about other races and religions. Defying logic and decency, then, are the Minnesotans who pooled together to give about $8,000 to Donald Trump. A pittance, in context, but, again, this is a guy who’s not even asking for it. So, we offer this helpful public service to anyone who had the same question we did: Who among us would give to Donald Trump? These people, that’s who.” … and then he lists their names.

Speaking of campaign dough, Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress says, “Minnesota House Democrats will push for a constitutional amendment this year in order to reveal more about who is spending big bucks on Minnesota elections. … The proposal from the minority party would put a constitutional amendment before voters asking them to vote whether political groups should have to publicly disclose all of their political spending. Current Minnesota law requires only particular groups to disclose their spending and fundraising, which opponents say lets political nonprofits get away with hiding their influence.” But if their names are made public they might be criticized, and we can’t have criticism in politics, can we?  

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They have only your health in mind. Mukhtar Ibrahim at MPR says, “Flint Hills Resources announced plans Thursday to reduce emissions from its Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount. The upgrades to the crude oil refinery, a major producer of transportation fuel used in Minnesota, are estimated to cost about $750 million. One goal is to decrease the refinery’s overall permitted emissions of nitrogen oxide and other pollutants by 500 metric tons per year … . Last fall, the company completed a $400-million upgrade to the Pine Bend refinery. Flint Hills incorporated those upgrades after reaching a settlement with two environmental groups.”

Rochelle Olson of the Strib reports from San Francisco: “The days are long and packed for members of Minnesota’s Super Bowl Host Committee as they hit the streets of San Francisco to observe, learn and plan. … The magnitude of a Super Bowl operation is hard to summarize. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there’s an incessant lineup of events, from parties and dinners to celebrity spotting and the filming of the Puppy Bowl. But for the Minnesotans here, it’s not about fun. They’re scoping out the activities behind the public show, which means attending parties without partying down.” Those poor dears.

Now here’s someone who deserves hazardous duty pay. In the Pioneer Press, Jace Frederick reports, “Apple Valley’s season ended on Wednesday night, and Eagles’ coach Don Erdall called it ‘the most bizarre and amazing thing’ he has ever seen at a hockey rink. Apple Valley junior goaltender Taylor DeForrest recorded 111 saves as fifth-seeded Apple Valley fell 3-2 in six overtimes to East Ridge in the Class 2A, Section 3 quarterfinals in Woodbury. After the game DeForrest couldn’t believe her final save tally. ‘I went into complete shock,’ DeForrest said Thursday. ‘I didn’t think it was going to be that high, and I didn’t know I could pull that off’.”

“The Minnesota Miracle” be a distant memory, but Art Rolnick points the the appeal of the “Minnesota model” in terms of early childhood education. In a Strib commentary he says, “Starting in 2008, the Minnesota Model — flexible, income-targeted, early-learning scholarships, coupled with a strong Parent Aware quality rating and improvement system to help programs adopt best practices — was first piloted by the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. Because of very strong evaluation findings from the pilot, the approach was expanded with funding from the Obama administration’s $45 million Race-to-the-Top competitive grant award, from the private sector and from bipartisan legislation. … Digging deeper into the evaluation, the news gets even better. Low-income children are making gains similar to the sample as a whole and actually making even stronger gains than higher-income children in executive function and language skills.”

Paul Walsh of the Strib: “An SUV driver on a death wish swigged vodka from a bottle and went on an erratic and intoxicated speeding frenzy before hitting a city snowplow in Bloomington, killing one of two city employees on duty, according to charges.”

Local reviews for the new Coen brothers movie, “Hail, Casar!” are in. In the PiPress Chris Hewitt says, ““Hail, Caesar!” is not long on plot, but its diversions are so much fun, it doesn’t matter. Most of the big names in the cast turn up for just a scene or two that they knock out of the park. … Whether it’s the slightly too-vivid pastels in the biblical epic, the perfectly mid-Atlantic accent of an actress who is meant to be Doyle’s love interest in the romantic movie or the superheroic efficiency of Mannix’s loyal secretary, every detail in ‘Hail, Caesar!’ feels spot-on.” But over at the Strib, Colin Covert isn’t buying. “The Coens have reportedly had the film on a slow boil since 2004, and it reaches theaters disappointingly overcooked. … What they intended this confusing tale to be overall, I have no idea. … I left ‘Hail, Caesar!’ feeling it wasn’t [George Clooney’s character] Baird Whitlock who was abducted. Someone kidnapped the plot.” You know, maybe Colin had a bad shrimp for lunch.