Terrorists, 'scumbags,' and wolves: The MPR News Updateby Phil Picardi, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio
The government wins its case in the al-Shabab trial. A congressman and his challenger exchange heated words in an on-air debate. There's a Minnesota connection to the Boy Scouts sex abuse scandal. And we wrap up our road-trip reporting on the marriage amendment in Grand Rapids.
CASE CLOSED: Defense attorneys described Mahamud Said Omar as "a frightened little man" who was "not capable of running anything." But a federal jury in Minneapolis wasn't buying the argument. After more than two weeks of courtroom testimony, the jurors needed just a day of deliberations before convicting the 46-year-old former janitor of sending both money and fighters from the Twin Cities to a terror group in his native Somalia. Omar's case was the first to go to trial in the government's sweeping federal investigation of al-Shabab recruitment in the United States.
SCOUTING SCANDAL: The Boy Scouts of America banned at least 22 adult Minnesotans from the Scouts from 1965 to 1985 because of alleged sexual contact with children or other inappropriate conduct, according to thousands of pages of internal records released today in response to a court order. The documents are part of more than 1,200 previously-confidential files released by an Oregon-based law firm representing victims of sexual abuse.
'LOW-LIFE SCUMBAG': That's what DFL Rep. Keith Ellison called his Republican challenger in the 5th Congressional District race during a live on-air debate yesterday on radio station KFAI. Republican Chris Fields accused Ellison and the DFL of using campaign contributions to dig up an old restraining order filed by Fields's ex-wife, and the debate quickly grew heated.
AISLE CROSSING: Meanwhile, in a 3rd district debate between GOP Rep. Eric Paulsen and DFL challenger Brian Barnes, the tone was more polite - but still pointed. Paulsen told the audience gathered that the only way to be an effective legislator is if "you're willing to work across the aisle, not compromise your principles, but understand that you've got to in the end get things done. I've got a great record of showing you can actually do that." Barnes retorted, "He has never crossed over the aisle once and departed with his own party to sign onto a bill from the other side."
DIVIDED IN GRAND RAPIDS: The last of our special report in the marriage amendment debate around Minnesota, we stop in the birthplace of gay icon Judy Garland, Grand Rapids. In the town of about 11,000, the gay population is small, but it's making its voice heard in the marriage debate. So are area churches that are leading the effort to help pass the amendment.
ROAD TRIP: We reported on the marriage amendment in conjunction with KARE-11. Use this handy interactive state map to see where we visited, and what people had to say about changing the state constitution to reinforce state law that already limits marriage to one man and one woman.
FOLLOWING THE PACK: Minnesota's first-ever managed wolf hunt gets underway in about two weeks, barring legal challenges. In the meantime, state wildlife managers keep gathering information on Minnesota's wolf population. Since 1974, when federal officials put wolves on the endangered species list, their numbers in Minnesota have grown from a few hundred to about 3,000 five years ago.
ADDING CONTEXT: Now the wolves have been taken off the list. But why a hunt just months later? State officials in the 1990s expected they wouldn't set a hunting season until five years after the wolf was removed from federal protection so they could monitor the animals' progress. We have a primer that puts the hunt in perspective.
POWERFUL BARBIE: Robin Hickman has been called a St. Paul "treasure." She's a social activist, a TV and film producer, and a long-time leader in the African American community. But what makes Hickman most proud these days is her extensive multicultural doll collection, and how she uses it enhance the lives of others. Listen to the profile here, and see pictures of her doll collection here.
FULLY ARMED: President Barack Obama has presided over a heyday for the gun industry despite predictions by the National Rifle Association four years ago that he would be the "most anti-gun president in American history." Gun buyers fear that Obama wants to restrict their purchases, especially if he were re-elected. An analysis by The Associated Press of data tracking the health of the gun industry shows that sales are on the rise, so much that some gun manufacturers can't make enough guns fast enough.
CONUNDRUM OR CONFLUENCE?: As the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, Jennifer Wiseman is on the forefront of planetary discovery and astronomical findings. But in her personal life, Wiseman -- a Christian -- is the intersection of science, faith and life. Wiseman is in the Twin Cities Friday to speak at the MacLaurin Institute on the abounding discoveries of planets outside our solar system, and what these discoveries, and the possible future discoveries of life elsewhere, will mean for us as we look through lenses of science, culture, faith and our understanding of the significance of human life. She stopped by to talk with The Daily Circuit this morning, and we'll have audio from that conversation here this afternoon.
Phil Picardi is a newscaster for MPR News, and occasionally fills in as Morning Edition host when Cathy Wurzer is away.