Today on the MPR News Update: The NRA breaks its silence over the elementary school massacre in Connecticut. Also, news about the shuttered St. Paul Ford plant, legislative agendas for environmentalists and same-sex marriage proponents, a mobile food shelf that's become a model for the nation, and a "Christmas Carol" from "tha hood."
SCHOOL SHOOTING RAMPAGE: The nation observed a moment of silence this morning on the one week anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and at a press conference in which reporters weren't allowed to ask questions, the NRA blamed the media for the massacre. News Cut posted Twitter reaction. And yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden met with senior cabinet members and law enforcement officials from across the nation, including Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, to talk about ways to curb gun violence. (We'll have more Minnesota reaction to the NRA event later today.)
FORD PLANT: A plan to demolish the Ford assembly plant in St. Paul has won approval from the city's zoning committee, a key step toward reusing the site. The plant quit making Ranger pickup trucks a year ago, and the auto maker has been developing a phased plan to tear down the century-old plant.
DAYTON SURGERY: Gov. Mark Dayton expects to be hospitalized for a few days next week for back surgery. The governor's office says that Dayton is going to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to have spinal surgery on his lower back next Thursday.
EMPTY SEAT: A pending special election in southern Minnesota has DFL and Republican party officials looking for legislative candidates. State Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, triggered those searches this week when he announced plans to resign his House District 19A seat to take a job in Chicago.
GOING GREEN: Asian carp and other invasive species, silica sand mining, groundwater supply and waste management are likely to be hot topics in St. Paul when the legislative session opens. Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, who will chair the Finance Division of the Environment Committee, is inviting experts on key topics to educate committee members before they even start to consider bills.
SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: The advocacy group Minnesotans United for All Families is shifting roles from a group that worked to defeat the constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage to a new role in which it will work towards the legalization of same-sex marriage.
NURSES' CONTRACT: Union nurses in the Twin Cities announced late Thursday night ratified a new three-year contract with 13 health care facilities in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Nurses Association said it has approved a contract negotiated with health care providers that belong to the Minnesota Hospitals Association.
FIRST FLU DEATH: The Minnesota Department of Health has reported the first flu-related death of the season. The victim was a man in his 60s who had underlying health problems.
HUNGRY MINDS: The holiday break can be a hungry time for some Minnesota families that rely on free school lunch to keep their children fed. That's true for many families at St. Paul's Maxfield elementary school. A program that started at Maxfield two years ago is now helping fight hunger at dozens of elementary schools around the country.
DICKENS, BUT DIFFERENT: Ever since its publication in 1843, "A Christmas Carol" has been a staple of the holiday season. The Charles Dickens novella has sparked countless adaptations, including a unique reimagining by a Minneapolis theater company. The show swaps the Victorian-era backdrop for a modern-day, inner-city setting.