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U.S. citizenship applications see big jump in Minnesota

Plus: mother and daughter accused in murder-for-hire plot; the Lynx go to the White House; Indianapolis Colts owner buys one of Prince’s guitars; moose are (still) in trouble; and more.

Citizens!? You mean like voting and paying taxes!? Beena Raghavendran of the Strib reports, “Jubilation filled a Minneapolis courtroom earlier this week as about 50 people transformed from residents to U.S. citizens … . They’ve got plenty of company. Nationally, the number of naturalization applications shot up by 13 percent in the first few months of this year … In the Minnesota field office, where data includes North Dakota, South Dakota and western Wisconsin, applications have surged by 12 percent in that period.” If this keeps up President Trump will have to build walls all over inside the country, too.

Torn from the pages of a pulp novel. The AP version of a Mankato Free Press story goes like this: “A mother and daughter from southern Minnesota are accused of conspiring to kill the daughter’s ex-husband. Fifty-nine-year-old Linda Bloom, 59, of Cleveland and her 41-year-old daughter, Blanche Wilson of Le Sueur, were charged Friday with conspiracy to commit murder. … According to the complaint, an informant tipped off authorities and set up a meeting between Wilson, Bloom and a sheriff’s investigator who posed as a hit man Wednesday. Wilson told the detective she had applied for a loan and would use that to pay him.” Elmore Leonard would have loved that one.

Also in the vein. Paul Walsh of the Strib says, “Prosecutors in southern Minnesota aren’t saying that Long Vang provided a weapon to Jessica Haban or gave her instructions on how to kill herself. And they aren’t saying Vang supplied Haban, the mother of his two children, with an illicit drug that led to her death. But prosecutors are accusing Vang of inflicting 10 years of relentless physical and emotional abuse on Haban during their relationship until she lost her will to live and died by suicide.”

And what, you ask (or maybe didn’t), did conservative blogger John Sexton at Hot Air have to say about Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Obamacare announcement? “Will other state BCBS insurers follow Minnesota’s lead? … Meanwhile, the Obama administration is doing its best to urge state insurance regulators to limit rate increases. That serves the short term political interest of Democrats, who don’t want to face big double digit increases announced just weeks before the election, but it makes it more likely insurers will continue to suffer losses in the market next year. And that could lead to more of them deciding to pull back. That would mean less competition which in turn means less pressure to control costs. It’s not a death spiral yet but if you squint a bit you can begin to see it from here.” We’ll wait for Sexton to explain how the GOP “plan” will control costs. 

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Kind of a regular thing. The AP notes, “President Barack Obama will honor the 2015 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx on Monday. Minnesota has previously been honored by the president for past championships. In October, the Lynx captured their third championship in five seasons.” And how do you imagine President Trump will honor female athletes?

Moose watch. KMSP-TV’s Randy Meier says, “The iconic wildlife symbol of Minnesota, the moose, is in trouble, so much so that the federal government is now stepping in. The serious decline in moose numbers began about a decade ago. For the first time in a long time, the words ‘threatened’ and ‘endangered’ are being used to describe the moose population in parts of the upper Midwest. In 2012, there was still limited moose hunting in Minnesota, but now the estimated 4,000 remaining moose is less than half of what it was just ten years ago.”

The Glean

On the long-standing taboo of “snitching” Libor Jany of the Strib writes, “Several recent cases highlight the problem. The city took notice late last month when Birdell Beeks, a 58-year-old grandmother, was killed in gang crossfire in north Minneapolis, a crime so unsettling it prompted pleas from Mayor Betsy Hodges and other leaders for anyone with knowledge about the case to call police. … Anthony Hines, a former Minneapolis cop, said that others choose silence out of fear of being ‘dragged into court to testify.’”

Damn good story Sunday on Prince and his legal issues/phobias from Stribbers Jon Bream and Dan Browning. “High-profile Minneapolis litigator Robert Weinstine sensed Prince’s skepticism about barristers. ‘He had a healthy disdain for lawyers,’ said Weinstine, who represented Prince in 1996 when he was seeking an injunction against his nannies for trying to sell photos of Prince and his then-wife Mayte’s severely deformed baby. ‘At the Warner Bros. deal, they really took advantage of a 17-year-old kid. Then there were so many people down the road that wanted to get involved with him more for the recognition than doing ­service’. … In the last few years, Prince didn’t necessarily rely on a lawyer to handle his high-level negotiations but rather a veteran AFL-CIO labor leader.”

Interesting piece in the Las Vegas Journal-Review on a Minnesota man undergoing new amputee treatment. Says Pashtana Usufzy:  “[Anthony] Reff, 39, underwent the first of two scheduled surgeries June 3, becoming the second osseointegration patient of Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center Chief of Surgery Dr. Ronald Hillock. … Osseointegration, which has been practiced in Europe for decades, occurs when a bone attaches itself to an implant. The specifics of the procedure vary around the world. Hillock said his process for leg amputee osseointegration was developed after extensive research and discussions with experts on the procedure. Initially, Hillock forcefully pushes a custom titanium rod, or stem, into the femur, irritating the bone. With time, the bone grows into the stem’s textured surface in an attempt to heal, anchoring the implant in the bone. After about three months, Hillock connects an abutment to the stem, and the abutment permanently protrudes from the skin. A prosthetic is then attached directly to the metal sticking out of the leg, eliminating the need for a prosthetic socket.”

When you’ve got $137,500 for a souvenir. The AP says, “Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has purchased the Yellow Cloud electric guitar that Prince used in numerous concerts until the mid-1990s. The NFL football team owner and collector of musical instruments paid $137,500 for the guitar at an auction Saturday in Beverly Hills. Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction, says the solid-body guitar was a favorite of the late musician from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. … Irsay also has instruments once owned by musicians Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, John Lennon and Ringo Starr of the Beatles and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.”

Pigs fly. Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie and GOP Rep. Steve “The Draz” Drazkowski are on the same page. Sally Jo doesn’t much care for the high-speed rail idea to link Rochester and the Twin Cities. “This seems like a very pricey way to duplicate service that’s already provided by UPS, Fedex and other carriers using the existing roads and airports. But perhaps [North American High Speed Rail chief strategic officer Wendy] Meadley feels to have another reason to confiscate property along the line via eminent domain so her investors can prosper when developing that seized real estate. It’s not often that we agree with Rep. Steve Drazkowski. He tells [Rochester Post Bulletin reporter Heather] Carlson: Drazkowski said he remains deeply concerned about the project. One of his biggest worries is the potential for the private company to seize landowners’ property via eminent domain. ‘I struggle with the idea that a private company is going to eminent domain private property. That is very troubling and something I think we certainly need to address in law,’ he said.”