MPR News Update

Dakotas commemorate massacre memorial; Dayton heads into surgery

by Phil Picardi, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio

Dec 27, 2012

Today on the MPR News Update, as Gov. Mark Dayton enters the OR, we'll hear about the increasing use of fusion surgery to ease the pain of a bad back. Also, 150 years to the day from a mass execution of Dakota Indians in Mankato, many Dakota returned to city to remember. We'll hear about the collecting and selling of Minneapolis license plate data. And we have a story about a Minnesota farmer who's expanding his operation to Africa.

DAYTON SURGERY: Gov. Mark Dayton will be at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester today for back surgery to deal with a painful condition known as stenosis; his vertebrae have shifted out of alignment and will be fused together. Dr. Christopher DeWald, a Chicago-based orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spine surgery, says most of the time, the surgery Dayton is having is successful.

DAKOTA 38 MEMORIAL: One-hundred-fifty years ago, 38 Dakota men were hanged for crimes allegedly committed in the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. A Wednesday ceremony marking the event took place at Reconciliation Park, the site of the historic hangings in downtown Mankato. We also have a photo gallery of the ceremony.

LICENSE PLATE DATA: Academics and entrepreneurs nationwide have received copies of a massive database that the Minneapolis police department uses to track the location of cars. Where some see business or research opportunities, the city sees a public safety risk. The data come from the city's network of automatic license plate readers.

OUT OF AFRICA: Red River Valley farmer Willie Hardie is part of a management company investing in a farm operation in Mozambique, hoping that Africa will be a big player in future world food production. The organization has a lease from the Mozambique government on 25,000 acres and expects to have all the land in production within five years.

FOODIE CRED: We have long known that the Twin Cities are great restaurant towns. This year, the rest of the country finally noticed. President Barack Obama visited the Bachelor Farmer, which was subsequently featured in the New York Times, and on Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants list. Rachel Hutton, senior editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine, helps us trace the evolution of the Twin Cities' foodie "cred." And we have a gallery of photos from foodie heaven at Piccolo in south Minneapolis.

SENSER APPEALS: Amy Senser's attorney has filed an appeal to reverse her conviction on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide. Eric Nelson's appeal says the prosecution did not provide enough evidence at trial earlier this year to prove Senser knew she hit Anousone Phanthavong on a freeway ramp in August 2011.

CLIFF JUMP: Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson says federal lawmakers should allow the current farm bill to lapse in order to get a new farm bill with better provisions for dairy farmers. Peterson, a DFLer, is the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. If the farm bill isn't renewed, Peterson says milk prices at the store will probably take several months to rise.

BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS: An unexpected $50,000 donation could help the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities hold off cuts to programs and maintain its hours of operation. The organization must first raise $50,000 in matching funds by the end of next week to see the donation come to fruition, said the organization's president, Erin Carlin. A donor came forward after the organization last week said it will furlough nearly 80 employees and close for two weeks.

HUNGER-FREE: A coalition of nonprofits and corporations fighting hunger in Minnesota says it has contributed more than 36 million meals to people in need since its launch in 2011 and is on track to fill what it calls the "meal gap" by 2015. Hunger-Free Minnesota has added meals to the system by signing more eligible Minnesotans up for food stamps, and by obtaining surplus produce from Minnesota farm fields.

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