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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Catholic officials meet with police regarding sex abuse

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Catholic officials met with St. Paul police yesterday in a closed-door meeting to discuss sex abuse in the church. The meeting was scheduled after Police Chief Thomas Smith criticized the diocese for being uncooperative in their investigations. Catholic officials announced earlier this week that Archbishop John Nienstedt would be stepping down from public ministry while an investigation was launched into whether he sexually assaulted a young man in 2009. Details from yesterday's meeting are scarce, but both the church and police are saying it was productive.

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State officials release November employment figures this morning in St. Paul (Thurs10am). In October, the state's unemployment fell to four-point-eight percent, its lowest level in six years. Minnesota job analyst Steve Hine unveiled two months of data last month due to October's federal government shutdown. He says in September the state saw a decline of 87-hundred jobs, offset by a rebound of 99-hundred jobs in October. The retail sector often has job gains in November and December during the holiday shopping season.

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"Good step forward," says Senator Al Franken about a two-year federal budget the U.S. Senate passed Wednesday which President Obama has indicated he'll sign. It cuts the deficit 23 billion dollars over the next decade, and replaces some across-the-board spending cuts known as the "sequester" with targeted cuts. Franken says Minnesotans don't want the government to lurch from crisis to crisis. He says passing the bill means there won't be another government shutdown for at least a couple years. But Franken says he's disappointed the budget bill cuts about six billion dollars in military pensions by reducing the cost-of-living adjustment for some future retirees. Franken says he's co-sponsoring a bill that would restore those cuts.

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Both elementary and high schools were evacuated and dismissed yesterday (Wed) in Maple Lake after a vague threat was found written on a bathroom wall. Superintendent Mark Redemske posted on the school's website that the Wright County Sheriff's Department completed a search of the building and found nothing of concern. The investigation into who wrote the threat and whether it was credible continues. Classes will resume today (Thu). Maple Lake is just under an hour northwest of the Twin Cities.

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A Moorhead woman accused of operating her home day care while drunk has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. It calls for Jayne Cote to plead guilty to one count of neglect or endangerment of a child. Cote's attorney, Jade Rosenfeldt, says two other counts would be dismissed. Rosenfeldt says her client is looking forward to rebuilding her life and does *not* plan to go back into child care. The plea agreement must still be approved by a judge.

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Donations to the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign are down 30-percent over last year. Spokeswoman Annette Bauer says if chapters around the state can't meet their goals, services will likely have to be cut. Bauer says if you are unable to make a cash donation this year, donating your time ringing bells is very welcome. She says there are still many bell-ringing opportunities available across the state.

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Interim head of MnSure,Scott Leitz says moving forward, transparency will be among his top priorities. Leitz acknowledges the process of rolling out the healthcare exchange has been fraught with difficulties so far, including long wait times, technical glitches and other operational issues. The deadline for Minnesotans to sign up for insurance to be covered under the Affordable Care Act is December 23rd, although MNSure leaders say they're not ruling out extending that date.

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau and Governor Mark Dayton disagree about a new policy Harteau announced yesterday apparently without the governor's OK. Harteau said Minneapolis police will no longer be investigating their own police misconduct claims, but will be handing any issues over to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. After the announcement, Dayton's press secretary said the governor found Harteau's comments inappropriate and, until everyone agrees on a new official policy, her statements hold no weight.

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The DNR closed the wolf hunting and trapping season in northeastern Minnesota at the end of shooting hours yesterday.(WED) Notice of the season closing was posted Tuesday night when hunters and trappers had harvested 30 wolves. Wolf hunting and trapping continues in the northwest and east-central wolf zones to anyone with a valid license. The late season in those zones is scheduled to end on Friday, Jan. 31 or when the target harvest is met, whichever comes first.

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A man with a concealed carry permit is being called a Good Samaritan after he stopped a robbery by flashing his gun in northeast Minneapolis yesterday. Matt Dosser said he was walking by the University Market when he saw two men pounding on the window, trying to get inside. They had already pistol-whipped the store's owner, Mohamed Ahmed, who had then somehow managed to lock them outside the store. Dosser took his gun out of his holster and when the men saw it, they took off running.

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 CNN has named the 18-year-old from Lakeland whose song "Clouds" went viral on the Internet just before he died of cancer in May one of the most extraordinary people of 2013. The CNN special "Extraordinary People", hosted by Robin Meade and Anderson Cooper, will air at 9 p.m. tonight (Thu). Zach Sobiech was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the fall of 2009, and he wrote "Clouds" three years later as a farewell to family and friends. It has received more than 9 million hits on YouTube, reached No. 1 on the iTunes singles chart and ranked No. 59 on Billboard's list of top songs of 2013.

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