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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: School bus driver charged with DWI in Winona County

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 A Winona County school bus driver is charged with three counts of third-degree DWI after crashing his bus 54-year-old Karl Herber was transporting elementary students from the Lewiston-Altura School District Tuesday afternoon when he crossed the center line and was facing on-coming traffic -- before going into the ditch and hitting a tree. Five children were on the bus at the time, no one was hurt. Herber had a blood-alcohol content of .09. The legal limit for commercial drivers is .04. A judge set bail at 12-thousand dollars.

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 The Minneapolis Police Department's Crimes Against Children Unit is investigating the horrific assault of a toddler last weekend. Sergeant Scott Olson says officers responded to an assault in progress, but a man at the home tried to keep them from getting inside. Once he was cuffed responders found an 18-month-old baby with severe head trauma and a woman who had apparently also been beaten. The baby is in intensive care with facial injuries, a severely fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, and severe brain injury. There is no current update on the woman's condition. 23-year-old Hussein Birre is charged with felony assault and domestic violence and remains jailed.

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St. Cloud Police are searching for a 17-year-old boy that ran away Monday night. Jordan Martindale, originally of Elk River, left without a coat, wallet or cell phone. Authorities say he does have a mental health condition and did not bring along his medication. Martindale is Africa-American,weighs 130 pounds and has brown hair and eyes. His family is very concerned about his safety. Anyone with information, contact the St. Cloud Police Department.

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Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm and his team of dogs crossed the finish line at Billy's Bar at 1:19 p-m Wednesday to win his second straight John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Schroeder finished with about a two hour lead over Keith Aili of Ray after running neck and neck during much of the course from Duluth up the north shore of Lake Superior and back again. Schroeder is now a three time winner of the Beargrease and is also planning to participate in the Alaskan Iditarod in 2014.

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The credit and debit card data breach at Target was the result of a vendor's credentials being stolen electronically. Target officials made the revelation yesterday, but would not identify the vendor or what credentials were involved due to the ongoing investigation. As many as 110-million people were impacted.

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A one-percent cut in food stamp or SNAP benefits in the Farm Bill will not affect recipients in Minnesota. Colleen Moriarity of Hunger Solutions Minnesota says savings come from eliminating the "Heat and Eat" program, which Minnesota never participated in -- but Moriarity adds that doesn't mean it won't hurt people in other parts of the country. Moriarity says 35-thousand Minnesotans did lose SNAP benefits last November when the stimulus and other funding ran out. Fifteen states and Washington, D-C were participants in the "Heat and Eat" program.

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 The U-S House passed a five-year farm bill yesterday (wed) and the Senate could vote as early as today. Bob Worth of Lake Benton, vice president of the American Soybean Association, says once the bill is signed into law by President Obama, it could still take the U-S-D-A months to get programs implemented. Worth says a lot of the agency's offices in Minnesota are understaffed, so it will be a challenge and he knows there will be some frustrated farmers. He advises people to be patient. The bill has been caught up in political wrangling for well over a year. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson says it's the most difficult farm bill he's worked on.

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A state law enacted in 2012 requiring random drug tests for welfare recipients convicted of a drug felony within the past ten years is under fire. DFL lawmakers and county officials from across the state are pushing to toss out the law. County officials testified at the state Capitol that the costs of collecting samples and testing cancel out any savings from removing people from the welfare rolls. Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter testified that there is evidence showing that drug testing welfare recipients is "near-based, not future-based."

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A newly-formed group is urging Minnesota lawmakers to legalize medical marijuana when the legislature comes back into session in late February. Karl Eggers with Liberty Minnesota says it's a very small but important step toward legalizing marijuana. Eggers says people may be afraid of change as they were in the gay marriage debate, but ultimately legalizing marijuana will be better for society. Minnesota's law enforcement community for the most part has been strongly opposed to legalizing medical marijuana, warning it's too difficult to regulate dispensaries so they don't become sources for illegal drugs.

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