My take: The possiblity that the pilots set their radios to the wrong frequency makes more sense than any other excuse we've heard so far. That happens all the time. But it doesn't explain why such a mistake would lead a flight to be out of communication for an hour. It only takes a minute for a controller to say, "You're on the wrong frequency, bub."
There's more heat than light here, especially considering how many of the TV reports on the incident ("they were sleeping," or "they were actually out of contact for three hours" etc.) have been discredited. This might be a piece of the puzzle. But it's not the puzzle.
2) The official snowfall total at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport: 7.4". That makes Patrick Hammer of KSTP the winner of the first leg (of what, apparently will be many) of News Cut's Golden Snowball Challenge. He predicted 7.5" of snowfall under the rules (available here). So after the first leg, here are the current standings.
Patrick Hammer (KSTP)
Paul Huttner (MPR)
Augustyniak, Mike (WCCO)
National Weather Service
Moldenhauer, Don (Bring Me The News)
Marler, Keith (KMSP)
Douglas, Paul (MinnPost)
We need a logo for this thing. Volunteers?
3) Former Minnesota high school basketball standout Royce White, now a troubled and suspended University of Minnesota basketball non-player, promised a YouTube video that would explain, perhaps, what's been going on with the reigning "Mr. Basketball."
"The Real Royce White Story" From me, Coming 12am now, World Premier, 100% truth since nobody else wants to tell it the right, I invite the whole facebook to watch it. I'm Back!!!'" he wrote on is Facebook page.
The resulting video -- if authentic -- says nothing of the sort:
White has pleaded guilty to shoplifting and assault charges stemming from an at the Mall of America.
4) It's been more than a year since the collapse of the economy. What has been done to fix the problem? Almost nothing, says Andrew Ross Sorkin.
At the same time, opponents of regulation are sounding the alarm. "But in reality the 'Wall Street reform' bill isn't about them," the Wall St. Journal says. "Instead the bill threatens to impose a massive tax on America's most successful companies by subjecting them to bank-style regulation."
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: The discovery of Asian carp DNA near Lake Michigan has ecologists and officials from Great Lakes states concerned that efforts to prevent the voracious fish from entering the lakes have failed. The Asian carp is one example of an invasive species that can have a devastating impact on the environment, but one biologist says not all invasive species need to be eradicated.
Second hour: The most reliably showy meteor shower of the year comes around on Sunday (Dec. 13) and Monday (Dec. 14). Astronomer Ken Croswell talks about meteor showers and the continuing controversy over Pluto, which was declassified as a planet in 2006.
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Sen. Al Franken discusses health care reform, the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, political scientiest Steven Smith gives Congress a year-end report card.
Second hour: President Obama's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Should Barack Obama have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Second hour: Stories of family members reconnecting after falling out of touch with one another.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MnSCU and U of M officials are looking apprehensively at the state's budget deficit, knowing they're likely to bear some portion of it. They say it will be hard to do without raising tuition. What's the forecast? MPR's Tim Post will have a look.
Two Minnesota natives who have created a franchise showing cheesy videos recovered from dumpsters, come through with this years selection including a soul-scarring video-dating service from the '80s. Does that sound Euan Kerr material? It is.
Does Bemidji area have Bigfoot cornered? The Bemidji Pioneer has this photo today from Tim Kedrowski of Rice, Minn., who says a game trail camera set up on their hunting land north of Remer appears to show Bigfoot.
Even more stunning: There's actually a Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team, according to the paper.
An advocacy group for small business is out with a report today showing Minnesota ranks 42nd in its calculations of business-friendly states.
Neighboring South Dakota ranks #1, according to the survey. The group favors lower personal income, corporate tax, and capital gains tax rates. It also objects to family leave policies, health insurance regulations, and a higher minimum wage.
There's not a lot new in the survey -- businesses have made the claim that these issues cost jobs for years. But it doesn't entirely track with other surveys.
For example, the highest percentage of start-up companies is in the West and while many of these states are among the top-ranked, South Dakota isn't one of them. Idaho, ranked 32nd in the small-business group's survey was among the top five states for start-ups in a 2000-2005 survey Kauffman Foundation; so was Montana (31st in the small business ranking). The lowest percentage of startups included Connecticut, Ohio, and Massachusetts. While Connecticut and Massachusetts are ranked close to Minnesota, Ohio's poor ranking conflicts with its #11 ranking by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
Is it possible that Minnesota is about to become famous for something other than a really big mall and pilots who forget to land their jet?
The science world is buzzing with rumors that deep below the crust in northern Minnesota, dark matter has been found. Dark matter is believed to make up 90 percent of the universe. The Cryogenic Dark Matter Search has been underway in the Soudan mine to try to figure out how the universe was (and is) created.
ProPublica, a public journalism site, has taken data on the economic stimulus spending that recovery.gov should've made more accessible and understandable, and made it more accessible and understandable.
One of the things it reveals is the disparity in spending from county to county.
For example, on a per capita basis, these counties are getting the least stimulus money:
Lake of the Woods
Lac Qui Parle
These counties are getting the most on a per capita basis. Note: I've taken Ramsey County out of the list because the system puts statewide projects in the county where the state capital is.
The stimulus plan is, by definition, a jobs and economic development plan. But as you can see by the charts, the big winners on a per capita basis also have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Is that as a result of the stimulus? No. The unemployment rates for all of these counties have tracked the statewide average.
How is it that Lincoln County has attracted so much money? A rural water project intended to connect 800 users to a public water supply. Many of the consumers are farms.
A judge in Florida is ordering the state to pay $150 for a cosmetologist to cover up the tattoos of a neo-Nazi during his trial. John Ditullio is charged with murder and attempted murder. His lawyer argued his tattoos would prevent him from receiving a fair trial.
That's just the kind of day it was in news, as reflected in today's Fresh Eye on the Radio.