Notes from all over this morning, beginning with a report from the Rochester, Minnesota, paper that barge traffic on the upper Mississippi River was down by a third in 2008 from 2007.   There is just less stuff being floated out of the upper Midwest. More corn is being used locally to produce ethanol. And corn and soybeans exported to Asia go by rail to the West Coast, not down the big river.

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Democratic majority in Congress “plans to move aggressively against the tobacco industry in coming months,” according to the New York Times.   Congress will attempt to regulate cigarettes, raise per-pack sales taxes (from 39 cents to a buck a pack) and ratify an international antitobacco treaty. George Bush vetoed a cigarette tax increase in ’07. Revenues from the cig tax will help pay for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Finally, there’s an interesting story from the weekend about how the U.S. Army is changing its recruiting style in the cities. We know from Yonder reporting that the armed services get a disproportionate number of recruits from rural areas.   To entice young urbanites, the Army is setting up video arcades in urban recruiting stations. So far, the blast-em video games haven’t increased the number of recruits in the cities.

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