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St. Croix River threatened by ‘forever chemicals’

Plus: The Corcoran neighborhood tenants that evicted their landlord; white supremacists go church shopping in Murdock; First Avenue now available for private events; behind Spyhouse employees’ push to unionize; and more.

St. Croix River
St. Croix River

Toxic industrial compounds run through it. The Pioneer Press’ Mary Divine reports: “The federally protected St. Croix River faces an emerging threat from toxic industrial compounds linked to a variety of health problems, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The report states that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, used in nonstick and stain-resistant frying pans, rugs and countless other consumer products, have been found in the river.”

Corcoran renters band together for change. The New York Times’ Matthew Desmond reports: “The tenants had mobilized for better conditions, resisted evictions and participated in a rent strike. They had banded together and pushed the City Council to revoke [Stephen] Frenz’s rental license. It eventually did, stripping his ability to collect rent. But Frenz still owned the apartments where Jackson and Chacón lived. He wanted everybody out so he could renovate and sell to the highest bidder. The tenants had another idea: They wanted Frenz to sell to them.”

Religion of racism. The Star Tribune’s John Reinan reports: “The [Asatru Folk Assembly] is among a growing number of groups that seek to practice a pre-Christian, European spirituality. The AFA is unabashedly pro-white, and would discourage members of other races from joining the group, said Allen Turnage, a Florida lawyer who bought the church on behalf of the AFA and serves on the church’s national board of directors. ‘We in Asatru support strong, healthy white family relationships,’ according to the AFA’s statement of ethics. ‘We want our children to grow up to be mothers and fathers to white children of their own.’”

The story behind Spyhouse employees’ push to unionize. City Pages’ Emily Cassel and Jay Boller report: “Consider the Spyhouse situation, where Grace Erpenbach says baristas were frustrated with an array of issues. There was no response to the murder of George Floyd; there were hardly any security measures in place for COVID. After she contacted Unite Here Local 17 and employees went public with their plans to unionize, Erpenbach was called into a meeting where she says she was given a pretty clear choice: Stop the organizing, or lose your job. She opted for the latter. About seven employees—including several managers and head roaster Tony Querio, one of the reasons Spyhouse is a nationally recognized coffee roasting company—immediately quit in solidarity.”

Behind the music. The Hustle’s Michael Waters reports: “In 1973, an electrical engineer named Bob Nichols was watching the film The Sting when a song on the soundtrack — Scott Joplin’s 1902 ragtime hit, “The Entertainer” — caught his ear. The right clip of that song, Bob realized, would make for an irresistible ice cream truck jingle. He could imagine trucks gliding through the American suburbs, the tinkling notes summoning children to buy snow cones, sundaes, and bomb pops. And he was uniquely poised to make it happen: as the founder of Nichols Electronics, a tiny Minnesota-based company, Bob supplied the music boxes — preloaded with dozens of jingles — for the vast majority of the country’s ice cream trucks.”

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In other news…

Wildfire alert: “Red Flag Warning Issued For Southwestern Minnesota” [WCCO]

Unruly neighbors: “Wisconsin judge blocks order from Gov. Tony Evers limiting bar and restaurant capacity as virus surges” [KSTP]

In case anyone was curious about what Garrison Keillor thinks about abortion rights: “Garrison Keillor says Roe v. Wade not ‘worth fighting for anymore’” [City Pages]

It was good enough for Lucinda Williams: “Dreaming of ‘Purple Rain’ on your wedding day? With no live music, First Avenue booking famous stage for private events” [KARE]