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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Federal workers protest shutdown in Minneapolis

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MINNEAPOLIS --  "Shut down the shutdown" was the cry as furloughed federal workers rallied at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis this morning. 

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Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) says a clean budget resolution will pass the U.S. House if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would allow a floor vote.  Ellison notes his colleague, Third District Republican Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie), said he would vote for it.  On Thursday, conservative activists gathered in Paulsen's Eden Prairie office, demanding he change his stance.  The shutdown is affecting about 19,000 federal government workers in Minnesota.  Ellison's 19-year-old son has been furloughed by the military in the state of Georgia.

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The federal government shutdown is now a week old, and an economic expert says it's impacting the Minnesota economy and businesses in the state.  But Bill Lafayette with Regionomics says just how deep the impact is remains hard to judge, because data from government agencies is unavailable which makes it hard to follow economic trends.  Lafayette says no matter how long the shutdown lasts, it will take time for things to get back on track and there's a lot of lingering uncertainty.  Over the weekend leaders signaled that Defense Department civilians will be called back to work and the House voted to allow retroactive pay to all furloughed workers once the government reopens.

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The man accused of sexually assaulting four teenage girls and holding 11 people hostage at gunpoint in a Woodbury hotel room last August will be sentenced today.  Demetrius Ballinger has pleaded guilty to four felonies and could spend more than 35 years in prison.  One of Ballinger's hostages, 19-year-old Mark Henderson, tried to to escape from the room at the Red Roof Inn and was mistakenly shot by police on the scene.  Henderson died a short time later at a nearby hospital.  

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A woman is in critical condition after being shot in St. Paul early this morning.  It's not yet clear what led to the shooting, but two people related to the incident are in custody for questioning.  Police are not calling them suspects at this point. 

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The federal firearms trial for 24-year-old Buford "Bucky" Rogers of Montevideo has again been delayed.  The trial was set to get underway in August and is now scheduled to begin December 2nd.  Rogers was arrested May 3, after FBI agents found a cache of explosives and weapons in his parent's mobile home in Montevideo.  Rogers and his family are members of the anti-government group called "The Black Snake Militia."  In June Rogers was indicted on charges of illegal weapons possession and three counts of possessing "unregistered destructive devices."  Court records say a man told authorities Rogers wanted him to help attack a radio tower, the armory, and the police station in Montevideo. The man refused and went to the FBI with the information, who then raided Roger's home.

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A controversial plan to build a mosque in a south St. Cloud neighborhood could come to a head tonight when the city council holds a public hearing.  Neighborhood resident Greg Jarrett says the Islamic Center of St. Cloud's plan for a mosque, school and community center is too big for the space.  Last month the St. Cloud Planning Commission approved a plan to build a mosque with enough prayer space for 450 people, as well as the school -- but Jarrett says they have more than 13,000 members.  The Planning Commission did not approve the community center.  Right now the property is zoned for single family homes.

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A Dassel teen, injured in a high school football game, is back in the hospital. 16-year-old Luke Nelson plays for the Dassel-Cokato Chargers and was injured in a game September 6th. He suffered a life-threatening brain injury and was taken to the Twin Cities for surgery which involved removing part of his skull to alleviate pressure caused by swelling.  He returned home September 22nd to continue his recovery, but according to his Caringbridge page, he's developed a blood clot in a vein in his neck and was taken back to HCMC.  The swelling in his neck has gone down and the family says they hope to bring him home again soon.

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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