We have hamsters and gremlins fighting in our pipes and tubes today, sorry for the delay in the 5x8. Bob's out this week.
1) NO OSCAR FOR COEN BROS
Minnesota natives Joel and Ethan Coen reminded us this year that the Western genre one of the great American contributions to film. Their remake of True Grit was greeted at the box offices with strong ticket sales and garnered respect from the Academy. In all, they received 10 nominations for the film. None of the nominations turned into a win. MPR's Cube Critics broke the entire night down and then some. Did True Grit get overlooked, or was this year a particularly strong year for movies?
2) WISCONSIN PROTESTERS STAY PUT
Protesters continue to occupy the Wisconsin State Capitol. Wisconsin police asked them to leave, the protesters said 'no' and it now appears that police won't evict the protesters using force. The protesters have occupied the capitol for nearly two weeks as Senate Democrats try to broker a deal with Gov. Scott Walker (R). Walker says collective bargaining is hurting the state budget. Unions say they are willing to negotiate over benefits, but not over collective bargaining rights. Walker says the protests in Wisconsin and around the county in support of collective bargaining haven't swayed him from his position.
3) ANONYMOUS ATTACKS
A group of hackers calling themselves "anonymous" have launched a series of denial of service attacks on the Americans for Prosperity website, a group supportive of Gov. Walker's efforts against organized labor. A press release alleged to be inked by the hackers reveled that the Koch brothers are the real targets of their attack.
It has come to our attention that the brothers, David and Charles Koch--the billionaire owners of Koch Industries--have long attempted to usurp American Democracy. Their actions to undermine the legitimate political process in Wisconsin are the final straw. Starting today we fight back.
But Politico reports the attacks, by singling out Americans for Prosperity, could actually strengthen the group as a voice against unions:
The DNS attack appears to have made Americans for Prosperity's website intermittently unavailable, but it will likely also help establish AfP among conservatives as the key group at Governor Scott Walker's side.
4) SIGNS OF SPRING
Spring might actually show up again. Signs of spring are emerging all around the state; ice dams turning into puddles, fresh snow fading into dirt, salt and other roadside residue - but a key for many Minnesotans - the DNR is releasing this year's fishing regulations.
Many of the new special regulations affect Big Sandy Lake in Aitkin County and several connected rivers and lakes, including a sunfish possession limit of five and size restrictions on walleyes.
With a sunfish limit of five, it's even more important to savor each cast. This Minnesota boy takes the experience to a new level:
5) BUDGET FORECAST
Minnesota lawmakers get an updated budget forecast today. It's unlikely that lawmakers will see a significant shift in the projected $6.2 billion deficit, but they are hoping some of the positive economic indicators of late will lead to a stronger revenue outlook for the state.
"The economy is certainly better than in November," state economist Tom Stinson said of the last economic forecast. The biggest economic improvement: The tax compromise between President Obama and Congress that cut payroll taxes. Economists predict that change will result in more take-home pay and a jolt to the nation's economy. Another heartening sign: The number of job openings in Minnesota jumped more than 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to the same time a year before, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. New figures are due out Monday (Strib).
Gas prices rose last week to an average $3.48 per gallon in the Twin Cities. Experts say the price could go significantly higher. Today's Question: What might you do differently in response to the rise in gas prices?
Michael Olson is the editor for Minnesota Today and will be filling in on mornings for Bob Collins this week.
"Today's Question" ate my response, so I'll offer another response here.
Perhaps high petroleum prices are a blessing in disguise. It's only when prices are high when many people begin to think about driving less. mass transportation, alternative fueled vehicles.