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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Snow greets Christmas travelers in southern Minnesota

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Two to four inches of snow has fallen across the southern portion of Minnesota, and the National Weather Service in Chanhassen is warning of slippery roads and sidewalks -- and recommending drivers take their time and leave a little early. 

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Up to an inch more is possible this Christmas day, and blowing and drifting may pose a visibility problem.  And inch to two of snow fell overnight in central Minnesota, and that area can expect just light flurries with less than an inch more today.  Northern Minnesota saw just a dusting to an inch-and-a-half overnight and won't see much more but winds gusts may blow the flakes around and reduce visibility occasionally.  Another round of bitter cold is expected this weekend.

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The State Patrol is urging Minnesota drivers to use caution on the highways this Christmas Day.  Cold temps followed by light snow have caused icy and slippery conditions.  Lieutenant Eric Roeske says anybody who's out there knows it only takes one person driving too fast, following too close to cause a problem for everyone out on the roads. Roeske says motorists should also be alert for blowing and drifting snow across roadways in rural parts of the state.  He recommends slowing down and giving yourself extra time to arrive at your holiday destination. 

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Traveling long distances during the holidays - whether by car, plane or train - is common for many Minnesotans, but taking health precautions for the journey isn't often at the top of to-do lists.  Mayo Clinic Dr. Clayton Cowl says there are some simple steps travelers can take to make sure they arrive healthy and safe.  He says the most serious concern for car travelers is blood clots in the legs, which can form when sitting too long, but there are other, more minor, things to keep in mind -- including stiffness, eye strain, and sleepiness, especially for drivers or at other times when alertness matters.  Cowl recommends travelers take some time periodically to stop and move around, stay hydrated, and plan ahead for possible challenges to keep their stress levels lower.

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Not only have the Target hackers compromised up to 40-million credit and debit cards, they've also reportedly stolen encrypted personal identification numbers.  A Target spokeswoman confirms some encrypted data was stolen but isn't saying if that included PINs.  A senior payments executive says one major bank fears the thieves will be able to make fraudulent withdrawals from customer bank accounts.  Minnesota-based Target is dealing with the fallout from the second-largest data breach in U.S. retail history.  The U.S. Department of Justice and Secret Service are partnering with Target on the investigation.

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Two men are under arrest in Duluth after a shooting and armed robbery Monday night at the ILF Smartphone Clinic.  Police say two suspects wearing hoodies and masks entered the store and demanded money.  Owner Colin Macklin was shot following a struggle outside the business as the suspects left with property and cash.  Officers followed several leads and arrested a 29- and 32-year-old man Tuesday and recovered a .22 caliber revolver.  Macklin suffered a gunshot wound to his right shoulder and remains hospitalized in stable condition.

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With the holiday season in full swing, some foods, decorations and plants in the home that are pretty and tasty for humans can prove toxic or even fatal for pets.  Some items on that list may be surprising.  K.C. Theisen of the Humane Society of the United States says grapes, raisins and garlic can be toxic for pets, and chocolate, which is plentiful this time of year, can be especially bad.  She says the darker the chocolate you have, the more poisonous it's going to be to the animals in your home.  She also says to avoid the sweetener called Xylitol in sugar-free candies. Plants such as holly and poinsettias can be toxic, as well as mistletoe berries. 

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