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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Lawmakers differ on what the U.S. should do in Syria

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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Although the the U.N. Security Council failed to reach an agreement on a resolution that would authorize the use of military force against Syria one Minnesota Senator believes it should happen, after Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime used chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel-held area near Damascus. The chemical attack killed at least 300 people, and Minnesota U.S. Senator Al Franken says the international community should step in. Congressman Rick Nolan says he's very much opposed to limited airstrikes or cruise missile attacks against Syria. He says, we can't afford it. We don't have any friends there. And we have nothing to gain by getting involved in this tragic civil war that's taking place. Nolan says the Constitution and federal laws require the president to seek Congressional approval before intervening in Syria, and lawmakers should be called back to Washington to address the issue. Franken disagrees, and says that Congress would have to approve a long-term stay by the U-S military, but a quick and powerful strike can be approved by the Obama administration.

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Minneapolis police are prepared for an onslaught of sports fans. The Twins play at 12:10 p.m. at Target Field, the Golden Gophers kick off at TCF Bank Stadium at 6:00 p.m. and the Vikings take the field at the Metrodome at 7:00 p.m. Police plan to deploy traffic control agents before and after the games to help get the fans to and from their destinations and will activate special traffic signal patterns to help facilitate the flow of vehicles. Also keep in mind, several streets around the Metrodome will be closed from 5:00 p.m. until two hours after the Vikings' preseason game ends.

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The Minnesota Department of Commerce is urging gas stations and suppliers to step up their security. More than 55-thousand gallons of diesel fuel was contaminated in the St. Cloud area and 59 vehicles were damaged. Commissioner Mike Rothman recommends locking tanks and adding video surveillance. He says they often receive complaints about gunk in gas, but an intentional act of contamination is rare. Police are offering a six-thousand-dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the First Fuel Bank case.

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Bills to increase the minimum wage were passed in both the Minnesota House and Senate this past session, but the legislation died when a conference committee couldn't agree on how much the increase should be. Supporters, including Democrat State Representative Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, say they will make another push next year. Those opposed to raising it say a higher minimum wage will have a negative overall impact on jobs and the economy. Winkler says that claim has been around since the 1930s, but the opposite is true. He says the fact is that history and research shows that it doesn't happen that way. The big reason is because if low-wage workers get an extra dollar in their pocket, they spend it right away and their extra earnings circulate through the economy much faster. Winkler says we actually help the economy by increasing demand for goods and services that businesses are selling. Minnesota has one of the lowest minimum wages in the nation at $6.15 an hour, although most workers fall under the federal hourly minimum of $7.25. 

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Attorneys for the Minnesota Senate asked a federal magistrate Wednesday afternoon to toss out a sex-discrimination lawsuit brought by former staffer Michael Brodkorb, but the judge did not rule and has the request under consideration. Brodkorb, who was fired in 2011 for his affair with then Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch claims he was treated differently than female staffers who had affairs with male lawmakers. But Senate attorneys say deliberate public release of the list of those other alleged affairs damages the Senate's case irreparably. Brodkorb's lawyers say public disclosure of the list was a mistake. 

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Authorities have released the name of a man shot by officers Tuesday as they were executing a narcotics search warrant at a home in the Twin Cities suburb of New Brighton. 45-year-old Matthew Vanhofwegen is being treated for multiple gunshot wounds after investigators say he scuffled with officers. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Maplewood Officer Joseph Steiner shot Vanhofwegen after he grabbed the barrel of the officer's rifle.

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Fast-food workers in many of the nation's largest cities are heading into Labor Day with another round of one-day strikes today (Tue) - and Twin Cities worker's center C-T-L-U is holding a rally in Roseville in support of those striking workers. Labor and employment relations specialist Steven Ashby says these sorts of strikes have picked up momentum this year, partly because of their new approach. Instead of targeting one company they target low-wage industries - fast food and retail - and strike for one day. Another difference is that religious leaders go back to their jobs with them the next day to make sure there's no retaliation, and Ashby says that empowers the workers. The rally begins this (Thu) afternoon at 2 p.m.

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Travel experts are calling today (Thurs) the unofficial kickoff to the Labor Day weekend. Triple-A Minnesota spokeswoman Gail Weinholzer says Labor Day travel is expected to be up four-point-two percent over last year. She says it could be a new post-recession high, following two previous Labor Day weekends that showed a drop in travel over the year before. Weinholzer says the price of a gallon of unleaded gas is lower this Labor Day than last, but many Minnesotans still consider it too high.

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