There's been another mass shooting, this time in Connecticut. Also, we hear about the battle over a park along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, and the Roman Catholic Church licking its wounds after a bruising battle over same-sex marriage. All that and more in today's MPR News Update.
CONNECTICUT ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: A gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Connecticut today, and so far it appears that that 27 people, including 18 children, died in the rampage. The news broke too early for inclusion in the podcast, but we're following the story online and on the air here.
LA NATIVIDAD: Tonight, some streets in south Minneapolis will resound with music from a new version of the nativity story. The Spanish/English production by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater blends the "no room at the inn" story with current events. Maria and Jose -- Mary and Joseph -- along with other actors, puppets, musicians and theatergoers, tell and witness the familiar Bible story of the birth of Jesus as an immigration metaphor with a procession through neighborhood streets.
THEY BELIEVE THEIR EYES: Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.
BIG BOX BLUES: Best Buy shares fell on Friday after the struggling electronics retailer said it extended the window for co-founder Richard Schulze to make a buyout bid until after the holiday season. The Minneapolis company said the extension is in the best interest of shareholders and gives Schulze and his investor partners time to review Best Buy's full-year financial results.
SLOPPAMAGEDDON: What would normally be a classic "Colorado Low" with heavy snow will track from near Omaha to Des Moines to La Crosse Saturday. Climatologically speaking, this track is ideal for heavy snow in the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota. It's mid-December, and we should be talking about a system that's all snow...but not this time.
TEACHER PERFORMANCE: A new proposed teacher evaluation system is headed to a testing phase in some Minnesota schools. A working group appointed by the state Department of Education approved its final recommendations for the teacher evaluation system Thursday evening. The recommendations call for yearly evaluations of teachers, based partly on student performance and how well a teacher engages students in the classroom.
MARRIAGE AMENDMENT FALLOUT: More than a month after Minnesota became the first state to defeat a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, some Catholics say it's time to acknowledge how divisive that effort was within the church. Among them is Kathleen Nuccio of Colhasset, Minn., a cantor and choir member for St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Grand Rapids. "There was no dialogue," she said. "The only way people had to express themselves ... [was] by withdrawing donations, walking out of sermons -- which happened -- and leaving the church altogether. Many people still have not returned."
STUDENT RETENTION: The percentage of Twin Cities undergraduate freshmen who stay for a second year at the University of Minnesota is at an all-time high, officials there say. The retention rates for U of M campuses in Crookston and Duluth were 77 percent and 79 percent respectively. And at Morris and Rochester, the freshman retention rates were 81 and 86 percent.
TODDLER SHOT: There will be no jail time for a St. Paul man whose toddler son was accidentally shot in the head. Instead, a judge ordered Lue Xiong Thursday to educate other parents about firearm safety.
WOLF HUNT: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is closing the state's smallest wolf hunting and trapping zone effective Friday evening. The DNR says nine wolves have been taken in the east-central zone, where the quota is 10 for the late season, which opened Nov. 24.
MAKING CONNECTIONS: Jhosi Martinez's dad never graduated from high school. Neither did her mom nor her older sister. Her family is like that of tens of thousands of Mexicans who have moved to greater Minnesota in search of better opportunities. Many of those families represent a persistent achievement gap between white students and students of color that Minnesota education have long grappled with. But in Northfield, that gap has practically vanished in the past decade. Here's why.