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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Prosecutors won't file charges against Archbishop, say allegations "unlikely"

 The Ramsey County Attorney's office has declined to file charges against Archbishop John Nienstedt after a youth alleged inappropriate touching after a confirmation ceremony in 2009. Nienstedt adamantly denied the allegations and temporarily stepped down while the investigation was under way. Prosecutors say it "seems unlikely" that Nienstedt would choose that moment to "sexually touch a random boy openly in front of another clergy member, a deacon, and numerous other confirmands." Officials at the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis say Nienstedt will now resume all of his public ministry duties. The archbishop thanked police for their thorough investigation and says he remains committed to "the ongoing work needed to provide safe environments for all children and youth." 

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Ramsey County officials are charging a 22-year-old St. Paul man with child endangerment after his two-year-old boy was hospitalized for being high on meth on Friday. The "St. Paul Pioneer Press" reports Joseph Michael Ray admitted to police that he took the boy to a drug house near where they are living with relatives two days earlier. He is also charged with violating a no-contact order against his girlfriend, who was with him at the hospital. Ray remains behind bars at the Ramsey County Jail.

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Two sudden deaths in Mankato in the past week have police putting out an urgent public warning. A 22-year-old man died unexpectedly last week, and a 17-year-old girl suddenly went into seizures Saturday and died. Mankato police they suspect someone may be distributing a deadly synthetic narcotic. Todd Miller, Director of the Mankato Department of Public Safety, says officers at each scene recovered a similar blue baggie, approximately two by two and a half inches in size, that is covered with images of crowns. Investigators believe a synthetic drug in pill or powder form may have been in the baggies, and warn the public to beware. Miller says anonymous tips and anonymous drop off of the blue baggies and the drug are welcome, and could well save lives. 

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A Minnesota teenager is dead after being overtaken by an avalanche while snowmobiling in Montana. First responders found the 18-year-old from Lake Lillian buried under the snow late yesterday afternoon in the Daisy Pass/Crown Butte area of Yellowstone Park. The victim was with six other friends when the avalanche hit. The Park County Sheriff's Department says it appears to have been remotely triggered and started near the peak of Crown Butte.

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A bill that would temporarily suspend Minnesota's wolf hunting season has cleared its first committee hurdle in the Minnesota Senate (Tues). Saint Paul Democrat Foung Hawj's (foo-ONG' HERZ) bill would set up an advisory task force to study the state's wolf management plan and require the D-N-R to conduct a yearly wolf census. The D-N-R would also have to close tribal lands to wolf hunting and trapping if tribal leaders request it. Maureen Hackett with the group Howling for Wolves calls it a reasonable bill that she's optimistic legislators can support. D-N-R officials contend their research strongly shows that Minnesota's wolf population can support a hunting and trapping season.

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Supporters of medical marijuana in Minnesota are in a stalemate with law enforcement at the state egislature. The bill cleared its first committee in the Minnesota House last week but backers postponed a second hearing Tuesday, saying they offered everything law enforcement wanted and they still rejected a compromise bill. Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association head Dennis Flaherty says they'll accept marijuana derivatives like C-B-D but not the crude form in dispensaries all over the state. Flaherty says given the legislative session is so short, "I don't know how we are going to be able to bridge our differences." House bill sponsor, Hibbing Democrat Carly Melin responds lawmakers need to hear from patients because they have the most compelling stories. Melin says the issue needs to go beyond the scope of the Capitol and people need to get involved to really put pressure on government.

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The state Public Safety Department says at least 12 people died in crashes on Minnesota roads since late February. That includes three Carleton College students who lost their lives in a crash near Northfield on February 28th, and four young men who died when the car they were in lost control just west of Sleepy Eye on March 7th. All seven victims were under age 21. State Traffic Safety Office Director Donna Berger says roads can turn deadly in good weather and bad, and people need to buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and never drive impaired.

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The Safe and Supportive Schools Act, which would require school districts to establish policies, procedures and consequences for discouraging bullying in schools, brought hundreds of supporters and detractors to the State Capitol yesterday (Tue). Supporters say school districts need to adopt tighter guidelines, but opponents argue that the bill protects only students who fit a defined protected category and doesn't include funding. Kathie Trosvik of Ham Lake opposes the bill, even though her 6th grade son committed suicide after being bullied on the school bus. She says her son was just a quirky boy that wouldn't fit into any category of the bill, so it would not have prevented the bullying that led to his death. The bill passed in the Senate Education Committee, and now moves on to the finance committee before a vote on the Senate floor.

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A New York man was killed just before 10:00 last night after the motorcycle he was riding on Interstate 394 at Theodore Wirth Parkway in Minneapolis hit a pot hole and he was thrown from the cycle. The State Patrol identified the man as 30-year-old Anand Baskaran of East Northport, New York. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

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A portable propane torch caused an explosion last month at the Sanford Clinic under construction in Moorhead. Assistant Fire Marshal Chad Stangeland says gas from the torch accumulated near an elevator shaft where a worker was using it to dry concrete. No one was hurt, but the explosion caused enough damage to postpone the clinic's grand opening until next month. Sanford originally planned to open the clinic last week.

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Over the last several months, numerous narcotics investigations involving the Boundary Waters Drug Task Force have resulted in 15 people being arrested and charged with a variety of drug related crimes. There were six people arrested from Hibbing, four from Eveleth, two from Chisholm and one each from Virginia, Aurora and Keewatin. Those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 67 years old and were charged in Northern St. Louis and Itasca County District Courts.

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 A beef recall prompted by the slaughter of what federal regulators are calling "diseased and unsound" animals now includes Minnesota. The meat came from the Rancho Feeding Corporation slaughterhouse in California, which was closed last month. Fifty-five Minnesota retailers were added to the list of more than five-thousand stores which received beef from the slaughterhouse. Nearly nine-million pounds of beef products have been recalled.

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 An Eden Prairie man and his Shakopee accomplice were charged in the robbery and beating of a man in the locker room of a fitness center. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says 18-year-old Dalal Idd of Eden Prairie and 26-year-old Kamal Elyas Maqadin of Shakopee walked into the locker room of an Eden Prairie Life Time Fitness Sunday afternoon and Idd repeatedly punched the victim before taking his wallet and running. They were caught after a witness gave police the license number of the car they were driving. Freeman says Idd is also facing charges in another incident that took place the same day.

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Minnesota's U-S House and Senate delegation is gathering today (Wed) in Senator Al Franken's office for the fourth annual "Hotdish Off" competition. Franken says it's meant to bring them together in the spirit of fun, and to celebrate a Minnesota tradition. For the first time since Franken started the competition, every member of the delegation is participating. Former Congressmen Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Gerry Sikorski (D-Minn.) will judge. Last year, Representative Tim Walz took first place, in 2012 Franken tied with former Representative Chip Cravaack, and in 2011 Senator Amy Klobuchar took top honors. 

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