Looking for ways to deter gun violence; combating a deadly flu outbreakby John Wanamaker, Minnesota Public Radio,
Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio
FLU DEATHS: The Minnesota Department of Health is now declaring that Minnesota is in the midst of a severe flu season. The agency reports that over 400 people were admitted to the hospitals last week for laboratory-confirmed flu. The death toll from flu has jumped to 27 people.
CAPITOL AGENDA: Democrats in the Minnesota House are placing education, property tax relief, jobs and health care at the top of their to-do list for the 2013 Legislative session. Among the proposals: Property tax refunds for homeowners and new investments in economic development and international commerce.
GOP SALARIES: Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are criticizing their DFL counterparts for slashing staff salaries and jobs in the Senate Republican Caucus. Senate Republicans lost more than half of their staff and the remaining employees saw their pay cut after the GOP lost the majority in November. Republican Senate Minority Leader David Hann says the action is unreasonable.
SEGREGATED SCHOOLS: A report Friday from the University of Minnesota says the state's open enrollment policy is increasing racial segregation in Twin Cities metro area school districts. Open enrollment was set up in the 1980s to let families choose any district they want their children to attend. But this study, the first of its kind in Minnesota, says that's resulted primarily in white students leaving racially diverse districts.
GUN VIOLENCE SUMMIT: Nearly half of the firearms recovered from crime scenes in Minnesota were first bought locally, according to a recent study. It's against that backdrop, and national stories about gun violence, that a regional conference on gun violence took place in Minneapolis Thursday. Attendees included law enforcement leaders, elected officials and scholars who study crime and violence participated.
VIOLENT DEATHS: The United States suffers far more violent deaths than any other wealthy nation, due in part to the widespread possession of firearms and the practice of storing them at home in a place that is often unlocked, according to a report released Wednesday by two of the nation's leading health research institutions. URS QUALMS: Newly-released documents shed light on why the Metropolitan Council rejected URS Corporation for engineering work on the planned Southwest light rail line.
GET YOUR ICE HOUSES READY: The ice is thick enough for the 23rd annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza. The Crow Wing County sheriff's office issued organizers an event permit Thursday. Sheriff Todd Dahl and Sgt. Scott Goddard met with Brainerd Jaycees on Gull Lake's Hole in the Day Bay to verify ice conditions.
OJIBWE HYMNS: Music is a time honored part of worship in most religions. For many Ojibwe people in northern Minnesota, hymns are much more than an expression of religious devotion. They represent a unique piece of Ojibwe tribal culture that members are trying to preserve.
400 BAR STORIES: It's the bar where Golden Smog, Zuzu's Petals, and Semisonic all began, and where Dan Wilson first debuted his big hit "Closing Time." It's the bar where Bonnie Raitt hung out while in the Twin Cities to record her debut album. It's where First Ave stage manager Conrad Sverkerson kicked out his first rowdy patron. And it's where Peter Ostroushko was playing pool when he got the call to go play on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks album. Now it's closing, but its stories lice on.
CLIMATE CAST: This week on Climate Cast, we discussed the role climate change may have played in Hurricane Sandyand the drought, and looked at some of the most extreme Minnesota weather events in 2012.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: A fine day on Lake Superior, the Packers dispatch the Vikings, the Wild return, the Legislature reconvenes, pond hockey's returning, and Ricky Rubio hides under a towel. See it all in MPR photos of the week.
John Wanamaker is a newscaster for MPR News.