MPR News Update

Minnesota at the Grammys, sex trafficking victims, and a major winter storm looms

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

Feb 8, 2013

Today on the MPR News Update we look forward to the Grammy's on Sunday night and the possibility of a win by the Minnesota Orchestra. We visit a ranch in southeastern Minnesota where young victims of sex trafficking find refuge. And our radar's up for what might be a major winter storm hitting the state at the end of the weekend.

GRAMMY WATCH: Members of the Minnesota Orchestra on Sunday afternoon will learn if its highly acclaimed recording of the Sibelius 2nd and 5th Symphonies has won the coveted Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance. Now entering the fifth month of a musician lock-out, a win for the orchestra would be some good news amid the labor strife. Euan Kerr reports.

GRAMMY WATCH 2: Minnesota's Okee Dokee Brothers "Can You Canoe?" will be up for best children's album at this Sunday's Grammy Awards. The album was written while the duo, Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander, were on a months-long trip on the Mississipp River from Minnesota to Missouri. Lansing and Mailander -- who aren't actually brothers, grew up together in Colorado exploring the outdoors -- and they want their family-friendly music to help kids and parents do the same. Listen to them here.

HEARTLAND GIRLS' RANCH: To combat the growing problem of sex trafficking, Minnesota is changing how it views underage victims. Advocates are asking lawmakers to help support safe housing that's not juvenile detention. The Heartland Girls' Ranch, founded more than 20 years ago as a place for abused or neglected girls, is one such healthy refuge from sexual exploitation. Sasha Aslanian reports from the ranch, and photographer Jennifer Simonson offers a look inside.

NEW HAT IN STADIUM RING: Tim Nelson, on the new Stadium Watch blog, says that days from the scheduled selection of a builder for the new Vikings stadium, Minneapolis-based Kraus-Anderson says it's among the final contenders to win the job from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

WEATHER EYE: Confidence is growing for a major winter storm to take aim at Minnesota, the eastern Dakotas and northwest Wisconsin this weekend, with areas of the upper Midwest likely to be buried in heavy snow Saturday night and Sunday, meteorologist Paul Huttner says. Meantime, a storm poised to dump up to 3 feet of snow from New York City to Boston and beyond beginning Friday could be one for the record books. Most airlines were giving up on flying in and out of New York, Boston and other cities in the Northeast Friday.

WHY DOES HE DO THIS STUFF? Extreme cold thwarted Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre's third attempt to become the first person to summit Alaska's Mount McKinley solo in the dead of winter. The 51-year-old North Shore resident told his support crew that he made his decision to abort his climb while it was 35 below zero in a snow cave he had built at the 17,200-foot level of the 20,320-foot mountain, North America's tallest peak.
Dupre is now in Homer, Alaska recuperating from the climb. He joined editor Michael Olson for a live chat on Friday.

IMMIGRANT POLITICAL TRENDS: U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants are more likely than their parents to identify themselves as Democrats as they integrate into American life, maintaining strong ties to their cultural heritage while casting themselves as liberal on social issues. A wide-ranging study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center lays bare some of the difficulties for the Republican Party following elections last November, when President Obama won with support from 80 percent of nonwhite and ethnic voters.

FLU DEATHS: Minnesota's death toll from influenza has reached 127, Lorna Benson reports. Still, even though the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed 15 additional flu-related deaths in the state last week, less than half as many as the 36 flu deaths in the previous week. That and several other signs indicate that the worst of the outbreak continues to wind down.

SAND MINE STUDIES: Two state agencies are calling for a broader and more detailed environmental study on two proposed silica sand mines in Winona County. The recommendation comes as some legislators are considering the possibility of a statewide study of the potential environmental and health effects of the booming industry. Two Winona County landowners are applying for permits to mine silica sand. More from Stephanie Hemphill here.

INFANT DROWNING: Brandt Williams reports that the Hennepin County Attorney's office Thursday charged a Minnetrista man with criminal vehicular homicide: Jonathan Markle's infant daughter died when the car he was driving fell through the ice on Lake Minnetonka last month. Markle, 41, was allegedly drunk at the time.

PRONE RESTRAINT: A Minnesota Department of Education report, put together with help from educators, school officials and mental health experts, is recommending schools be allowed to continue the use of a controversial physical restraint, used to subdue or calm agitated students, until 2017. Tim Post says current state law would ban the practice, called prone restraint, this August. Some advocates of disabled children worry the move puts students in danger. Almost like a wrestling hold, it is used on students who threaten to hurt themselves or someone else.

PAY RAISE: Thousands of state employees may soon get a raise. State senators Thursday approved a new contract that includes a 2 percent pay hike. The House, which is also controlled by Democrats, is expected to vote on the contract sometime next week.

OFFICER CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT CHARGES: A Minneapolis police officer who lives in Andover is facing criminal sexual conduct charges involving several young girls. Anoka County Sheriff spokesman commander Paul Sommer says the department started the investigation several weeks ago. Brandt Williams reports that authorities discovered that the man allegedly used social media websites to contact several girls between the ages of 12 and 14.

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Want to see what we're talking about? Check out this week's MPR News photos of the week.

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