Book: Vaporized Pig Brains Are Torturing Austin's Migrant Meatpackers

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Years have passed since Pablo Ruiz worked as a floor supervisor inside a swine slaughterhouse in Austin, Minnesota. Yet his body remains in constant pain, the result, medical experts say, of inhaling a daily dose of pig brain tissue mist.

According to Ted Genoways, author the new book The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food, Ruiz, was one of the roughly two dozen former workers -- 90 percent of them Hispanic -- at the Spam factory in southern Minnesota, who in 2006 showed symptoms of a bizarre neurological disease that caused body fatigue and extreme pain in the extremities, as well as swelling of the spine and brain.

See also:
Mist of pig brain tissue sickened slaughterhouse workers

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Essar, Minnesota's New Mining Giant, Caught Repeatedly Falsifying Pollution Records

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Essar

The Essar Group will launch its $1.8 billion taconite plant in Nashwauk sometime next year -- with the state of Minnesota kicking in $66 million in loans and infrastructure bonds.

But riding along with the Iron Range's largest project in 40 years will be Essar's record of providing fraudulent environmental records to regulatory officials.

See also:
Will Mining Save or Destroy Northern Minnesota?

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Minnesota Isn't Very Socialist, but Some Red States Are Practically Commie

Categories: Economy, Politics

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swskeptic
People from states where "Terrorist Hunting License" bumper stickers proliferate love to hear the Michele Bachmanns and John Klines of the world blister on about America's creeping socialism. The sickening growth of government, they warn, is about to suffocate the last gasps of the American Dream.

Under this line of logic, blue states are the driving force, with effete liberal cauldrons like California, New York, and -- weep! -- Minnesota leading the way.

The one small problem: It's just not so.

See also:
Bachmann battles nefarious socialists with Twitter

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The Numbers Don't Lie: Twin Cities Is Best Place for Millennials

Categories: Economy

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Ben Johnson
Millennials have it pretty good in the Twin Cities

Over at Vox, writer Matt Yglesias crunched the numbers and found the Twin Cities offer the best economic conditions for millennials in the country.

Yglesias wrote that the metro's high median household income, low cost of living, housing affordability, and high level of economic mobility all factor into the Twin Cities' top ranking.

See also:
Minnesota Will be the Best Place to Live in 20 Years, Gallup Study Says

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Local Progressives Rejoice After Obama Finally Backs Net Neutrality

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Blais Alleyne
Upcoming political and legal battles will determine the internet's future

In a statement that drew nonsensical metaphors from the right and belated optimism from the left, President Obama finally publicly supported equal internet access for all yesterday.

Obama's statement set the stage for a legal and political battle newly re-elected Sen. Al Franken has repeatedly called "the First Amendment Issue of our time."

See also: The Fall of Net Neutrality: Cable's Plot to Destroy the Internet


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Despite Feds Cracking Down on Shady Tax Moves, Medtronic Keeps Dodging

Categories: Economy, Taxes

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Cover of our October 1 issue

The Feds are trying to hold Medtronic's feet to the fire for its shady, shady tax moves (as we outlined in last week's cover story), but it appears nothing will stop the company from moving overseas to avoid paying higher taxes in the United States.

The controversy stems from Medtronic's proposed purchase of the medical device company Covidien, based in Ireland, earlier this year. The purchase was tricky, designed so that Medtronic could stay in the United States but put its new headquarters in Ireland and take full advantage of the tax benefits.

See also:
Medtronic Isn't Leaving America, It's Just Stiffing Us With The Bill


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Twin Cities Passes Detroit, Now 2nd Largest Economy in Midwest

Categories: Economy, Lists
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For the first time since 2009, the Twin Cities' economy is larger than Detroit's.
Measured by total GDP, the economy of the Twin Cities metro area is now the second largest in the Midwest, behind only Chicago, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Laura Kalambokidis, the Minnesota State Economist and a U of M professor, tells us the Twin Cities is benefitting from the relatively hot state economy, which in turn is benefitting from the relatively hot regional economy.

See also:
North Dakota tries to market itself as hookup haven, fails


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Mark Dayton Takes Credit for Historically Low Unemployment Rate... But Should He?

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The Minnesota August jobs report released yesterday is a tale of two stats.

On one hand, the state's unemployment rate, now at 4.3 percent, is at an eight-year low, and in an election year, that should bode well for Gov. Mark Dayton, right? But on the other, the state's workforce participation rate, at 69.8 percent, is at a 30-year low, which suggests the economic situation is sufficiently bleak that some job seekers have simply given up. That's certainly not as promising for Dayton's reelection prospects.

See also:
Mark Dayton doesn't take credit for Minnesota's $1.2 billion surplus... sort of


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Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Workers Join Call for $15 Minimum Wage

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All photos by Jesse Marx
The next time you're waiting for your flight to unload at MSP Airport, look out the window for a bald bag handler with a ZZ Top beard.

You see him? That's Eric Wickstrom. He earns $12 an hour and can count himself among the luckier airport workers because he doesn't earn $8.

See also:
Fast-food workers storm an Uptown McDonald's to demand $15 minimum wage



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Harper's magazine profiles geriatric migrant workers in Minnesota

Categories: Economy
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Image by Tatiana Craine
In the August cover of Harper's magazine, Jessica Bruder writes of a tribe of geriatric migrant workers who "seem one injury or broken axle away from true homelessness." They travel the country in RVs, chasing seasonal, back-breaking employment, unable to retire.

Many wind up running the floors of an Amazon warehouse in Nevada. Some wind up picking raspberries in Vermont. And others, lifting sugar beet sacks in northwestern Minnesota.

See also:
Minnesota's economy one of the fastest growing in the nation


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