Today on the podcast, some of the areas hardest hit by flooding earlier this year still haven't received much government financial help. Disaster "preppers" gather in Minnesota. And, not knowing English can drag a student's performance down in a number of academic areas. But first, everybody's talking about the Friday shooting rampage in Connecticut.
OBAMA GRIEVES WITH FAMILIES: Alone on a spare stage after the worst day of his tenure, President Barack Obama declared Sunday he will use "whatever power'' he has to prevent shootings like the Connecticut school massacre. "What choice do we have?'' Obama said at an evening vigil in the shattered community of Newtown, Conn. "Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"
ARE MINNESOTA TEACHERS PREPARED? The horrific massacre in Newtown, Conn., will certainly be on the minds of teachers and students around the country as they head back to school today. Julie Blaha, president of the teachers union in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, spoke with MPR's Cathy Wurzer about how teachers will talk about the event with their students.
CHILD VICTIM'S MINNESOTA TIES: One of the children killed in the Newtown school shooting has relatives in Minnesota. Her grandmother, Irene Hagen, remembers Charlotte Bacon, 6, as a sweet, energetic girl.
WHO WERE THE VICTIMS? In Newtown, most of the victims died at the very start of their young lives, tiny victims taken in a way not fit for anyone regardless of age. Others found their life's work in sheltering little ones, teaching them, caring for them, treating them as their own. Here's a glimpse of some of those who died.
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP: Six months ago this week, flash floods tore through northeast Minnesota, ripping up roads and filling basements. The disaster caused more than $40 million in damage to private homes -- many of them without flood insurance. But some of the hardest-hit areas have so far received very little state or federal funding.
TEACHING THE WORLD IN MINNESOTA: Maria and Ines Mendez, 17-year-old seniors at Harding High School in St. Paul, have lofty goals for students who spoke no English when their family came to Minnesota from Mexico five years ago."I want to own my own businesses; I want to be my own boss," Ines said. Her twin sister wants to be a pharmacist. Both are in Advanced Placement classes and are on track to graduate in the spring. All are among the growing number of Minnesota students whose first language is not English. Nearly 65,000 English learner students are enrolled in Minnesota schools, representing more than 200 languages. We've got a special report on this subject in Teaching the world in Minnesota.
CARIBOU SOLD: A German holding company has bought Caribou Coffee for $340 million, the companies announced Monday. Joh. A Benckiser Group, which recently acquired Peet's Coffee, paid $16 per share in cash for Caribou, which will remain based in Minneapolis, officials said.
"PERPPERS" UNITE: The rising number of weather-related catastrophes is fueling a growing interest in survivalism. That trend was on display over the weekend at a convention in Bloomington: The Survival Preppers Expo offered displays of solar power, hydroponics, self-defense and security systems. It buzzed with hundreds of people within half-hour of its opening.
PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS SPREAD: Prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone are being prescribed in Minnesota in greater numbers than ever before, with legal distribution of all opioids increasing by 72 percent statewide from 2005 to 2011. The largest increases were in Ramsey County and the northwestern corner of the state, the newspapers found.
TRIBAL COLLEGE: The Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota will receive more than $21 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program. Red Lake will use some of the money to build a new, 42,000-square-foot tribal college to replace an older building that has limited classroom space and create room for technology equipment. The tribe also plans to construct a tribal government center.
ANOTHER SURLY DEAL: A Metropolitan Council committee will consider on Monday whether to recommend a half-million-dollar grant to clean up a polluted industrial site where the Surly Brewing Co. wants to build a new facility. The 8.3-acre parcel is in Minneapolis near the Central Corridor light rail line, east of the University of Minnesota. It is polluted with lead, arsenic, mercury, asbestos and other contaminants.
SINGLE WOMEN AND THE GOP: As Republicans dust off their Election Day drubbing last month, their party must confront the reality that the ranks of unmarried women are growing rapidly, and these voters overwhelmingly have backed Democrats for decades. And from 2000 to 2010, the number of unmarried women increased 18 percent, according to census data.
WHERE'S BACHMANN AS THE CLIFF APPROACHES? Rep. Michele Bachmann has built her political career by being outspoken. It has helped her raise tens of millions of dollars and go from obscure back bencher to presidential candidate in three terms. In the six weeks since the election, Congress has been wrapped up with the series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes known as the fiscal cliff, Bachmann has gone almost completely silent.