Today on the MPR News Update: Top state officials have declined to approve the sale of 31 leases to explore for minerals. Players in this past spring's Vikings stadium endgame say they're reluctant to reopen the deal struck in May. And we speak with the filmmaker behind a new documentary on climate change.
DNR SCOLDED: Top state officials have declined to approve the sale of 31 leases to explore for minerals, pending the results of a court case. During a meeting Thursday of the state's executive council, Gov. Mark Dayton also scolded state Department of Natural Resources officials for failing to respond to public concerns about proposals for copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota.
'CHASING ICE': The Sundance award-winning "Chasing Ice," is making its Minneapolis premiere Friday. It provides vivid accounts of climate change on the world's glaciers and polar areas through photography, film and personal accounts. National Geographic photographer and filmmaker James Balog, who had been a skeptic about climate change until about 20 years ago, said presenting evidence of climate change may make a difference to people who are still skeptical. He and Minnesota's polar explorer Will Steger talked about the film on The Daily Circuit.
DHS GRANTS: The Minnesota Legislative Auditor's office will broadly review the state Department of Health's administration of grants, after health officials may have allowed thousands of dollars to be inappropriately used by one nonprofit over the last two years. The case concerns grants to a St. Paul nonprofit called the Sierra Young Family Institute, Inc.
HMO FINANCES: A state review finds Minnesota HMOs providing services to public programs such as Medicaid and MinnesotaCare have generally sound financial practices. But the report did raise concerns about the plans' charitable donations and other uses of public dollars.
VIKINGS STADIUM: The players in this past spring's stadium endgame say they are reluctant to reopen the deal struck in May to build the Vikings a new stadium, despite disappointing initial projections of the gambling revenue earmarked to help pay for the nearly $1 billion project. They say it was a carefully crafted deal, and that changes won't be easy to make, even in the face of financial doubts. "I'm still cautiously optimistic," Gov. Mark Dayton said.
COLD SPRING SHOOTING: Investigators are still searching for the .20 gauge shotgun they believed was used to kill Decker last Thursday night while responding to calls from the family of 34-year-old Ryan Larson. Larson's family told police they were concerned he was suicidal. Larson was arrested early Friday morning and held in Stearns County Jail as a suspect in Officer Decker's shooting. But Larson was released Tuesday because the Stearns County Attorney said there wasn't enough evidence to file charges.
SACRED LAND PROTECTIONS: Protection of sites held sacred by American Indians and Alaska Natives will be bolstered under a memorandum of understanding signed Thursday by four federal agencies and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The memo signed by the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior also calls for improving tribal access to sites that are on federal land.
UNDEMPLOYMENT DOWN, OBAMA UP: The U.S. economy added a solid 146,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, according to the Labor Dept. Also, President Barack Obama has his highest approval ratings since the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll, and more Americans say the nation is heading in the right direction now than at any time since the start of his first term.
AMERICAN CHRYSTAL: Despite a lockout that's lasted 16 months, American Crystal Sugar officials say the company is on track for record sugar production. Company President David Berg said at the cooperative's annual meeting Thursday that the ongoing lockout of 1,300 workers cut into the profit from last year's sugar beet crop. But he said the company is moving on with replacement workers.
UNION DEPOT: There hasn't been train service to Union Depot in 41 years and they won't start running again until at least next year. But the station has been remade into more than just a railroad hub. Metro buses will start picking up and dropping off passengers there tomorrow, there's a place for bicycle commuters and the new Central Corridor light rail line will end there when it opens in 2014. John Diers, author of a forthcoming book on the history of Union Depot, spoke with The Daily Circuit during a walk-through of the building.
TIM SCANNELL: A county prosecutor who was wounded in a 2011 courthouse shooting in Grand Marais has been accused of an improper relationship with a teenage girl. Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell, 47, was ordered by a judge Tuesday to stay away from the 17-year-old girl, after her parents sought a harassment restraining order.