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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Ventura says lawsuit was about truth, not money

ST. PAUL -  Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura says the defamation lawsuit against the estate of slain "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle was never about money -- it was about pursuing the truth.  

Ventura said this morning (Wed) on the CBS "Early Show" he would have been "a big time loser" if he hadn't sued "because the whole story was fabricated."  The former governor added, quote, "I was accused of treason which in the military is the death penalty. I would think that would be enough to inspire anyone to seek the truth."  Ventura alleges Kyle fabricated the story in his book "American Sniper" when he wrote that Ventura made derogatory remarks about Navy SEALS, which ended in a fight in a California bar.  A jury Tuesday awarded Ventura nearly two-million dollars.


Barge traffic is still at a standstill on parts of the Mississippi River between Lake City and Winona.  Dan Cottrell with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and says heavy June flooding and a fast drop in river levels led to the unique situation.  Cottrell says when the river is carrying a lot of sediment and flow decreases quickly, sediment drops into the channel creating larger scholls that impede river traffic.  Cottrell says the Corps is dredging the river and hopes to have pilot channels open for limited use late next week.


The prosecutor is appealing after a judge dismissed the most serious charges against  17-year-old John LaDue, the Waseca student accused of planning to kill his parents and his fellow students by bombing the local junior/senior high.  On Monday, Judge Gerald Wolf threw out four counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of damage to property.  The judge wrote there is no doubt LaDue was preparing to commit some of the alleged crimes, but at no point did he threaten his family or the school liason officer, shoot a firearm toward them or transport necessary materials to locations in his plan.  LaDue still faces six counts of possession of an incendiary device.  In court today, Judge Wolf said he expects the appeal to be a quick process.  The LaDue family has said their son needs help for mental illness, not a prison term.


The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has named Bill Blazar as its interim president following the death of long-time leader David Olson.  Blazar joined the chamber staff in 1992 and most recently was senior V-P of public affairs and business development.  He's well-known at the State Capitol.  Chamber Chairman Jeff DeYoung says the organization is strong despite the devastating loss of long-time President Olson and its vision and strategies are clear.


Officials have identified a motorcyclist killed in a crash Tuesday afternoon in southeast Minnesota's Fillmore County.  The State Patrol says 61-year-old Robert Petrillo of Lanesboro was riding his cycle eastbound on County Road 8 when he was hit by a pickup truck. Four people in the pickup were not injured.  


Following U.S. Senate confirmation of new VA Secretary Robert McDonald, a Minnesota lawmaker is applauding the choice and hopes he'll hit the ground running to turn around the troubled Veterans Administration.  Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minnesota) says the former CEO of Proctor and Gamble has some hard work ahead.  The VA has been rocked by recent scandals arising from scheduling problems, falsified documentation and long wait times.