Friday, July 23, 2021

Here’s the latest news back from the future...

"From golf courses to highway construction, news from the future has a familiar ring."

 Written by Jim Heffernan  for the Duluth News Tribune on 7-23-21 for publication on 7-24-21.

 Here’s a potpourri of the latest Duluth news for 10 years hence — say July 2031.


DATELINE DULUTH — The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced yesterday that the “Can of Worms” project in the city’s recently re-renamed West End neighborhood is at least half finished and should be open to traffic by the turn of the next century.


The complicated junction of Interstates 35 and 535 encompassing also U.S. Highway 53 has been under construction for more than 10 years, starting circa 2020. “We’re making great progress on the project some have called the Can of Worms,” said a DOT spokesperson. “We hope drivers will be patient and observe detours leading through various neighborhoods including several alleys. Be careful in alleys where garbage cans are often placed,” he warned.


On a separate front, fishing advocates and others have objected to the monicker “Can of Worms,” saying it insults our worm friends. Gerhardt Clitellum, a University of Worms in Worms, Germany, worms expert noted that many birds survive entirely on a diet of worms.


The neighborhood and business district near the “Worm Can” was once known as Lincoln Park but reverted to be called West End in 2025 when Cadillac dealers sued, complaining the name endorsed competing Lincoln automobiles. Attempts by some craft brewers in the district to change the name to Hopside failed in a divided City Council.


Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, local warfare between supporters of the former Lester Park Golf Course in far eastern Duluth and advocates for Enger Park Golf Course in the central part of the city continues unabated. The conflict mushroomed several years ago when advocates for reopening Lester surreptitiously bombarded Enger with a toxic chemical grass killer called “Agent Brown,” rained down from a drone.


After the links turned into a brown field, local contractors proposed turning the course into a mega gravel pit providing good-paying jobs, a move opposed by local environmental groups. Advocates for reopening Lester after Enger was destroyed were thwarted by lawsuits and arrests of Lester advocates suspected of waging chemical warfare on Enger.


City officials also pointed out that reopening Lester would likely involve razing recently constructed luxury condominium units with spectacular views of Lake Superior serving the city’s underserved upper crust,


The latest developments leave Duluth with no public golf courses, termed a “blessing” by environmental interests advocating returning them to what nature intended: woods.


City officials also have become concerned that the School Board is continuing to dicker over the sale of “old” Central High School atop the Duluth hill and “old” “old” Central High School, sometimes called “Ancient Central High School” in the downtown area.


Sale of both to interests hoping to develop housing were thwarted in the mid-2020s when developers chose instead to develop housing for the well heeled on the property once hosting Lester Park Golf Course.


The former plans to turn historic old Central High School downtown into a large apartment building changed in 2028 when the School Board accepted an offer by a Hollywood independent film company planning to film a new version of “Rapunzel” utilizing Central’s imposing clock tower from which the title character could let down her golden hair.


“This could mean millions for our schools,” said board member Sonja “Stormy” Weathers who beamed she has been offered a role in the movie, portraying the mother of the alluring golden-haired “Rapunzel” possibly starring middle-aged Taylor Swift. Other members of the School Board will be cast as “extras,” a spokesperson said. The superintendent will play “The King” if there is a king. Research is planned.


On another, unrelated, news front, progress on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline from Canada to Superior by way of several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and a passel of Indian reservations has been halted due to unexpected popularity of electric cars and trucks. “Come to think of it we might not need that much oil after all,” said a company spokesman shortly before he was terminated.


Under construction for over a decade, it has been proposed that the section of pipeline already built be turned into the longest water slide on the planet. Entrepreneurs from Minneapolis propose running water through the pipeline instead of oil and offering tourists and locals rides on small craft designed especially for pipeline rides. “This would top Ye Olde Mill at the Minnesota State Fair,” said a backer.


Concerns have been expressed by environmental experts that the amount of water needed for such a project would drain at least 3,000 lakes in northern Minnesota and cause Lake Superior to rise markedly at the outlet, threatening Duluth. “Glensheen would be under water,” said Lester “Joe” Popple, a registered watershed analyst and part-time ventriloquist. “Park Point would disappear,” he mouthed.


Developers question that lakes would be drained, but noted that if so they would make excellent sand traps for several golf courses replacing the former Enger and Lester courses in Duluth.


Film at 10.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at 

Friday, July 9, 2021

D. Duck and M. Mouse new QAnon suspects?

Written by Jim Heffernan for the Duluth News Tribune, 7-10-21 edition

We’ve been hearing a lot of “conspiracy theories” that offer alternate realities about who actually attacked the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6, and other matters of national concern like who won the last presidential election.


Many of these tales are attributed to what is known as QAnon and repeated by certain high level political operatives and even some Congress members as “truth.” It’s been called the “big lie.”


I spent almost the entire day Jan. 6 glued to the TV watching the insurrection. Many men in the mob were wearing red MAGA hats and earlier in the day had attended a rally outside the White House led by the then U.S. president, who was challenging the last presidential election’s outcome. Of course you know that. Who doesn’t?


But in the ensuing months, conspiracy theorists, often inspired by QAnon, have claimed that those in the mob attacking the Capitol were not supporters of the former president at all, but others — even Democrats in disguise and anti-fascists  — who were trying to make the ex-president look bad.


The latest is that the FBI was behind the whole thing, causing further spinning in disgraced FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover’s grave. Poor Hoover hasn’t had a day’s eternal rest. Then there is the claim that the mob consisted of a group of peaceful, patriotic tourists seeking to tour the Capitol. Yeah, right.


Do you suppose the QAnon believers and supporters might be running out of theories on who, other than supporters of the ex-president who actually did it, might have been responsible for the riot that threatened members of Congress, damaged the Capitol building and shook the very foundations of American Democracy?


If they are running out of theories, today I offer a few more, free to QAnon conspirators. So here are some new ideas for the QAnon crowd to pursue in trying to whitewash the insurrection.


All that said, I now offer a list of a number of fresh conspiracy theories for QAnon to consider in blaming others for the attack on the Capitol that are equal in credibility to those already advanced.


— Have they considered the possibility that Donald Duck, who wears a blue jacket but no pants, was behind the whole thing? Ridiculous? Hold it. Duck’s three sons, Huey, Louie and Dewey are grown now and have come under the influence of Donald’s wealthy uncle Scrooge McDuck, a well known activist and George Soros-like supporter of liberal causes who might gladly finance an insurrection to make the immediate past president look bad. Go ahead and take it, QAnon. It’s free.


— Then there’s Mickey Mouse and wife Minnie. With Disney’s millions — billions? — behind him, Mickey, who wears pants but no jacket, could easily have financed and organized a fake MAGA riot with the help of other Hollywood elites seeking to blame the good-hearted supporters of the then-outgoing president. Ms. Minnie Mouse, who wears high-heel shoes on great big feet, is said to be considering a run for Congress as a left-wing supporter of the Affordable Care Act and other traitorous causes opposed by QAnon and others. (Possible error alert: It might have been Daisy Duck, Donald’s spouse, who had big feet. Check Google.)


— Let’s not forget Bugs Bunny. He’s perfect. He’s against everything. He could easily have been behind the whole thing, munching on a carrot and asking pertinent questions like, “What’s up, doc?” How about a noose for the vice president?


— And d-d-d-d-d-on’t ignore Porky Pig, all you QAnon masterminds looking for others to blame. Or Elmer Fudd, or outspoken rooster rabble-rouser Foghorn Leghorn, a natural for QAnon conspiracies. But enough anthropomorphism. There are plenty of human candidates for QAnon conspiracies too.


— People think Dagwood Bumstead is such a nice guy, only interested in eating huge, layered sandwiches and not taming his cowlicks. But what’s he up to behind the scenes when he’s not sneaking a catnap or kibitzing with Blondie? Take a look at neighbor Herb and the others in his carpool. They could have organized the mob that started the attack while actual, real, supporters of the erstwhile chief executive were busy helping the poor, the homeless and the overtaxed, even as Bumstead boss Mr. Dithers dithered.


But enough. Whoever is behind QAnon conspiracy theories absolving those who attacked the Capitol on Jan 6 of any responsibility for attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 are good enough themselves at coming up with others to blame.


That’s all folks.


Jim Heffernan is a former Duluth News Tribune news and opinion writer columnist. He can be reached at and maintains a blog at