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National forecasters predict severe winter

I can make predictions, too. January will be colder than it is today, with a high probability of some snow, somewhere, at some point. For the Strib. Rochelle Olson says, “when Minnesota meteorological sage Paul Douglas heard Thursday that national forecasters had predicted a colder, wetter winter … he responded with a pause. Then he said, ‘Well. It’s a little like predicting now how your fantasy football team is going to be doing in January. You can’t do it.’ That didn’t stop him from venturing one: This winter will be ‘a little more formidable’ than last year’s. Compared to the National Weather Service’s newly released outlook, that’s downright tame.” 

MPR’s story says, “This December through February may feel a bit more like an old-school winter in Minnesota. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new seasonal outlook expects below-average temperatures across the state with above-average snow up north. … If a colder than average winter happens in Minnesota, it would buck the recent trend.”

The PiPress story, by Jamie DeLage says, “We could even see a return of the polar vortex funneling Arctic air into the eastern and middle two-thirds of the country, according to private forecaster Atmospheric and Environmental Research. The last time a polar vortex formed, in the winter of 2013-14, the Twin Cities shivered through its coldest winter in 35 years, the ninth-coldest on record.”

Heartbreaking. Says Tim Harlow in the Strib, “As a member of the volunteer fire department in the tiny northwestern Minnesota town of Ada, Randy Peterson has a routine when his pager goes off. He checks to see if his kids are at home. At 10 p.m. Sunday when he was called to a two-vehicle crash with one car on fire in the neighboring town of Borup, Peterson got a sinking feeling because he knew his 16-year-old son, Carter, was not. … As Peterson raced to the scene, he called and called his son, but got no answer. Minutes later he learned why. ‘Seeing the car on fire and the rims, I knew [it was my son],’ Peterson said in an interview on Thursday.” I can’t imagine many things worse than that.

At MPR, Brian Bakst covers a debate between Second District candidates Jason Lewis and Angie Craig. “Health care has been a front-and-center topic as problems persist with the federal Affordable Care Act. Republicans around the country are pouncing on increasing insurance bills for people buying mandatory coverage. Lewis was anxious to drive home his indictment of the Democratic-drafted law. … Lewis said he would seek to get rid of the requirement that people carry health insurance. Instead, he said he would pursue more tax credits and try to re-establish special risk pools for people with the most serious health problems. Craig said it would be better to make targeted improvements than scrap the whole law.” No, let’s run some numbers on a special pool of the most expensive consumers.

For the Strib, business columnist Lee Schafer looks at cybersecurity, specifically at US Bank, and says, “One of the relatively recent innovations of the bad guys is called ransomware, a form of software that is sneaked onto a computer to take over some or all of the computer’s data. The thieves then can lock it up using military-grade encryption that no civilian is going to quickly hack back into, effectively holding the data hostage … . That has been a nasty problem for hospitals and clinics in particular, with one health care trade publication earlier this year suggesting that three-quarters of hospital systems responding to a poll may have been hit in the previous 12 months.”

Lynx fall shortThe PiPress’ Tom Powers writes: “Wait, that wasn’t supposed to happen. The Lynx were oh so close to being crowned a dynasty for the ages Thursday night. They had rallied from eight points down with fewer than three minutes to play. The sheer noise, the emotion, at Target Center was more than anything I had experienced there in the past. Minnesota had a one-point lead as the clock ticked away. The Lynx were just a couple of seconds from their fourth title in six years when the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike grabbed her own rebound and popped it back in near the basket. And just like that it was as if someone had hit the circuit breakers in the arena. Sparks 77, Lynx 76.” Wake me when the Twins get into “dynasty” talk.

It sounds so … Wisconsin. But it’s not. Tory Cooney in the PiPress says, “A St. Paul woman woke up to the sound of someone ‘rattling’ her Lowertown apartment’s lock around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. She was about to call the police when she heard a can open in her kitchen. She walked out of her bedroom to see a stranger sitting on her couch, drinking a beer and looking through her roommate’s purse. He had been trying to break the lock on her door, and that of a female neighbor, for hours. And it wasn’t the first time, according to charges filed in Ramsey County.”

Today in the merry life of Wells Fargo. For The New York Times Stacy Cowley writes, “Mexican immigrants who speak little English. Older adults with memory problems. College students opening their first bank accounts. Small-business owners with several lines of credit. These were some of the customers whom bankers at Wells Fargo, trying to meet steep sales goals and avoid being fired, targeted for unauthorized or unnecessary accounts, according to legal filings and statements from former bank employees. ‘The analogy I use was that it was like lions hunting zebras,’ said Kevin Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee in San Jose, Calif., who saw it happening at the branch where he worked. ‘They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance’.”

Here’s critical news you can use for the rest of the election season. Says Mike Mullen for City Pages, “Food & Wine magazine is out with a list of the ‘best cocktail bars’ in the country, purportedly a ‘travel’ piece for the sort of people who will hop on a plane just to get a decent drink. If those booze aficionados do exist, expect to be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with them at our local watering holes in the near future. Predictably, much of Food & Wine’s rundown features swanky joints in places like New York, California, and Miami. But three of its favorite 39 bars are right here in Minneapolis.” Every time I hear Trump I need a triple, neat.

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