Today: Separating fact from fiction with Obama and Romney, more Minnesotans are at risk of fungal meningitis, electronic pull tabs are a month old, Target will match online prices, Craavack and Nolan go another round, and a gunman's parents talk about his mental illness.
FACTS TAKE A BEATING: In the rough-and-tumble of a town hall-style presidential debate, the facts took something of a beating Tuesday night. Mitt Romney wrongly claimed that it took 14 days for President Barack Obama to brand the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya a terrorist act. Obama yet again claimed that ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars makes money available to "rebuild America," even though it doesn't. And that's just the start. The Associated Press has a full fact check here.
MORE DEBATE We posted a story on the "binders full of women" moment. And we asked: Did President Obama do well enough in this debate to restore any confidence that might have been lost in his campaign? (We're rebroadcasting the debate here at noon.
CRAVAACK vs. NOLAN: Closer to home, up in the 8th Congressional District and with three weeks to go until Election Day, Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack and former DFL Rep. Rick Nolan debated Tuesday over the best ways to create jobs and provide health care. Cravaack repeatedly sounded alarms about the national debt. Nolan noted the debt grew much faster under Republican icon Ronald Reagan than it has under the Obama administration.
HOME CONSTRUCTION JUMPS: Remember how the lowest unemployment figures since Obama became president followed him out of the first presidential debate? Something similar happened today: U.S. builders started construction on homes in September at the fastest rate since July 2008, a further indication that the housing recovery is strengthening and could help the economy grow.
'WE NEVER SAW HIM AGAIN': The last time Chuck and Carolyn Engeldinger saw their son, Andrew, was the day after Christmas in 2010. He had a meal, took his gifts and left and that was the last they heard of the man, who had struggled with mental illness for a number of years. They never saw him again, despite having tried to call and leave him messages. Then, in late September, they turned on the television news and heard about a shooting rampage in Minneapolis. Read how they reacted in their interview with Cathy Wurzer.
911 REACTION: The director of Minneapolis emergency communications told members of the City Council Tuesday morning that the department needs more 911 operators to keep up with national standards. Recently, the city reinstated a phone message urging 911 callers waiting for an operator to stay on the line, after several people who called during the shooting rampage last month hung up instead of waiting for an operator.
INCRIMINATING STATEMENTS: Some of the most incriminating evidence against a Minneapolis man accused of aiding a Somali terror group appears to have come from his own statements to the FBI. Mahamud Said Omar told the federal agents he was a "team leader" for al-Shabab who escorted two young Twin Cities men to the airport in August 2008, knowing they were to join the extremist militia once they arrived in Somalia, FBI Special Agent Kiann VanDenover told a federal court jury Tuesday.
OBESE PARENTS, OBESE KIDS: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota raised eyebrows across the country when it released new anti-obesity ads last month. A departure from its well-known "do.groove" spots and its latest "do.town" campaign, these new ads show children modeling the behavior of their overweight parents. Is that fair? "We wanted to make sure our messages got noticed," said Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and chief prevention officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota's Prevention Minnesota, on The Daily Circuit.
BAG MAN: The classic doctor's black bag is an icon of medicine - and it's all but gone. Now your doctor is just as likely to carry a backpack that can fit a laptop or an iPad. Those thoughts in the New York Times from Abraham Verghese prompted Dr. Jon Hallberg to think about the old doctor's bag: what it symbolizes and what tools he still needs to do his work. He spoke about it with MPR's Tom Crann on All Things Considered.
OPTIMISTIC GAMBLING: Electronic pull tab gambling has been up and running for 30 days in Minnesota. It's too early to tell to judge the program's success. But officials and the company selling the games say they're off to a strong start. That may be good news for the State of Minnesota, which is counting on revenue from the games to help finance a new stadium for the Vikings. And on Tuesday night at Mancini's in St. Paul, we caught up with patrons trying their luck with the devices.
TOUGH COMPETITION: Are you one of those people who goes to Target, scopes out the price of a new camera or towel set, and then goes online to check and see if another store can beat them on the price before you whip out your credit card? The Minneapolis retail giant really wants your business: Starting Nov. 1 and continuing until Dec. 16, Target will match prices that customers find on identical products at select online competitors this holiday season Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Bestbuy.com.
LESS, PLEASE: Of the 40 Minnesota school districts asking taxpayers to vote on school levies this fall, the request from the small district of Frazee-Vergas is glaring. It's the only district that is requesting a reduction in its school operating levy, something that no one can recall ever happening in Minnesota.
11TH HOUR: There's more news from the turbulent labor dispute affecting Minnesota's premiere classical musicians. Management at the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra said Wednesday it will lock out musicians unless there is a contract agreement by 6 p.m. on Sunday. The musicians rallied to support their cause yesterday.