Minnesota Now with Cathy Wurzer

Minnesota Now August 23, 2022

A woman in front of a microphone
MPR News host Cathy Wurzer

Today on Minnesota Now, the Minneapolis Police Department says it's ready to deploy drones to combat crime, an update on life in South Dakota following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, a new Black-led credit union is opening in north Minneapolis and “Ask a Science Teacher” with Jill Jensen of Scott Highlands Middle School in Apple Valley.

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Audio transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING] CATHY WURZER: It's "Minnesota Now." I'm Cathy Wurzer. The Minneapolis Police Department says it's ready to deploy drones to combat crime, but drone use in law enforcement is controversial. We'll hear about the state law that regulates the use of drones in law enforcement. And Minnesota ranks third in the nation for skin cancer cases. We'll find out why.

The overturning of "Roe" made abortion illegal in neighboring South Dakota. We'll hear where things stand there. A new Black-led credit union is opening in North Minneapolis with a mission to address systemic financial challenges. That and more in business news. Our new "Ask a Science Teacher," segment starts today. And of course, we have the song of the day in the Minnesota Music Minute. All of that and more right after the news.

LAKSHMI SINGH: Live from MPR News in Washington, I'm Lakshmi Singh. The verdict is guilty for two men who were retried for conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. In Grand Rapids today, a jury also convicted Barry Croft Jr and Adam Fox of attempting to obtain a weapon of mass destruction, a bomb.

The prosecutors argued was going to be used to blow up a bridge as part of their plan to abduct the Democratic governor. The men previously stood trial in April, but the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. In a statement, Whitmer says the decision shows people who seek to commit violence will be held accountable.

It is primary day in New York and Florida, and in Oklahoma a runoff primary. In Florida, MPR's Greg Allen reports Democrats are deciding which candidate challenges incumbent Republican Ron DeSantis in November.

GREG ALLEN: Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is the only Democrat currently serving who was elected statewide in Florida. As a member of the governor's cabinet, she's battled with DeSantis over issues ranging from guns to gender affirming care for transgender minors. Fried has been in a contentious campaign with former Florida governor, now Congressman Charlie Crist.

Crist is a former Republican and Fried has worked to remind voters of his anti-abortion stance early in his career. Crist defends his record saying he has a 100% rating on abortion rights issues in Congress. After a bruising primary campaign season, whoever emerges from today's contest will face a huge fundraising deficit. DeSantis has more than $130 million in the bank. Greg Allen, "MPR News," Miami.

LAKSHMI SINGH: The US embassy in Ukraine is warning Americans to be on guard for Russian attacks. The US alert coming as Ukraine marks its Independence Day this week at the sixth month mark of the war. Here's MPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN: The State Department says it has information that Russia will step up its efforts to launch strikes against civilian infrastructure and government facilities in Ukraine in the coming days. And given Russia's track record, the department decided to issue an alert on the US embassy website in Kyiv.

It urges Americans to seek cover if they hear sirens or loud explosions, and to be aware of the closest shelter or protected space. Even if a missile is intercepted, the US warns falling debris can be a significant risk. The embassy is encouraging Americans to leave Ukraine if possible. They've repeated that advice throughout the war. Michele Kelemen, "MPR News," the State Department.

LAKSHMI SINGH: A court in Malaysia is upholding the conviction of the country's former Prime Minister Najib Razak. As MPR's Michael Sullivan reports, Najib had been sentenced to more than a decade in prison for corruption.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN: With Najib's appeals now exhausted, the 69-year-old former prime minister must now begin serving his 12-year term for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering. The charges came in connection with the looting of the so-called 1MDB state investment fund, where investigators say billions went missing.

LAKSHMI SINGH: That's Michael Sullivan reporting. The Dow is down 114 points at last check. This is "MPR News." The superintendent of schools in Uvalde, Texas, Hal Harrell, is facing complaints as the public gains a clear understanding of the security gaps that enabled a gunman to enter an elementary school and carry out a mass shooting that left 21 people dead.

The school board is preparing for its second special meeting tomorrow. Texas Public Radio's Marian Navarro recaps the first one held last night.

MARIAN NAVARRO: The board held a closed session for just over three hours to hear parent and public grievances against Harrell's response to the May 24th massacre. The board recommended Harrell direct a Board Town Hall meeting before the start of the school year to address additional safety concerns and to bring forward names of organizations that could provide a review of district administrative practices.

It also requested to coordinate with the superintendent in the current review of the school district police. The school board meets again this week to discuss the possible termination of embattled District Police Chief Pete Arredondo. I'm Marian Navarro in San Antonio.

LAKSHMI SINGH: The US Department of Transportation is advising owners of certain Hyundai and Kia SUVs to park their vehicles away from homes, outdoors, until possible problems with the trailer hitch on each SUV is addressed. The Hyundai Palisades and Kia vehicles made in the last two years may be at risk of catching fire.

The South Korean automakers recalled more than 280,000 of these vehicles last week. The US Department of Transportation says there are no confirmed fires, collisions, or injuries related to this particular defect in the United States. US stocks mix this hour. The NASDAQ is up 22%, S&P is down 3. You're listening to "MPR News."


CATHY WURZER: Around Minnesota right now skies are sunny. It's a little humid. Highs today upper 70s, mid 80s. At noon in Saint Cloud at 78, it's sunny and 73 in Wynonna, and outside the Mocha Moose, near Knife River Minnesota, at 64 degrees. I'm Cathy Wurzer with Minnesota news headlines.

The Eden Prairie Center is open today after a fatal shooting in a store there last night that prompted a lockdown of the mall. Police say a man died from a self-inflicted gunshot at the Shields store, at the shopping center. It's not clear if the man used a gun at the store or had his own firearm.

A 19-year-old man from Monticello remains in the hospital today with life-threatening injuries after a chain reaction crash yesterday afternoon on I-94. The State Patrol says a man died in that crash near Rogers. The patrol says the crash happened as Westbound traffic was stopped and the right lane near Highway 101.

It involved at least seven vehicles, including two box trucks. A 42-year-old Brooklyn Center man driving one of the trucks died in the crash. The 19-year-old Monticello man riding with him was taken to the hospital. Starting this week, drought relief checks will be sent to Minnesota farmers related to last year's dry spell. Brian Bakst has more.

BRIAN BAKST: Demand far exceeded expectations for the $8 million in aid to farmers. More than 2,900 farmers will get a share. Checks will be prorated and each eligible farmer will receive a maximum of $3,143. The legislature approved the aid package this spring. It covers drought related expenses from June of last year until this May.

Eligible expenses for crop producers included new wells, irrigation equipment and replacement plants. For livestock farmers feed, transportation, and grazing rights are among the allowable costs for reimbursement. I'm Brian Bakst.


CATHY WURZER: Tomorrow the Minneapolis Police Department will present its proposed drone policy to a Minneapolis City Council committee and the public. The MPD says it wants to deploy drones to combat crime, respond to emergencies, and de-escalate dangerous situations. But drone regulation in law enforcement has been a contentious issue.

Some lawmakers and activists are concerned about questionable surveillance tactics, something seen in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder. John Lesch worked on legislation to regulate drone use in Minnesota law enforcement when he was a state representative in 2020. He's now a criminal defense attorney in Saint Paul. Good to talk with you again.

JOHN LESCH: Thanks for having me, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: There is a growing list of Minnesota agencies that use drones now. Tell me what was going on just a few short years ago during the debate over the use of these devices in law enforcement.

JOHN LESCH: Well, we worked on this for about six years. I think the first bill I proposed was in 2014, Cathy. But when we finally got law enforcement to come around to passing a statute, we had to include these nine exceptions to what would normally be a warrant requirement for them to surveil people. And that was how we got the compromise passed with the Senate, was at the time controlled by Republicans.

CATHY WURZER: So OK, walk me through this for just a moment. So does a law enforcement agency still have to have a warrant, right, to fly a drone?

JOHN LESCH: They do not.

CATHY WURZER: They do not.

JOHN LESCH: They have to have a warrant unless it meets one of the nine exceptions we crafted into law. And some of those exceptions are, for lack of a better term, a little loosey goosey of how you can characterize the reasons why you're flying the drone. And that's why it makes people a bit nervous.

For example, to collect information from a public area if there's a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. That's definitely lower than a warrant requirement and doesn't require specifics.

CATHY WURZER: You know, I talked to a representative from the ACLU this morning about the state law. And she said, yeah, the law has so many loopholes and exceptions to the policy. It gives police too much discretion, not enough regulation, and you would agree with that?

JOHN LESCH: That's what some people would say. They would say the exceptions swallow the rule. And when I passed, I was the House author, it was the best version we could get passed. Because remember, Cathy, this was a problem not just because of what police could do, but because of the availability of the data.

Minnesota's public data law means anyone has access to this data, unless the legislature crafts a data set that makes it non-public. Which means any deployment of this technology would be presumptively public to your neighbor. So we had kind of a desperation to get something passed pretty quickly and this was the version we could get passed with these exemptions. But some people do say that all of the exemptions follow the rule.

CATHY WURZER: Police flew drones over the Floyd protests, and privacy advocates say, that can lead to a chilling effect on free speech. Police can also easily apply face surveillance technology to footage collected by a surveillance drone that passes over a crowd. Does the law deal with that?

JOHN LESCH: The law specifically says they cannot deploy drones with facial recognition technology, among a few other prohibitions. I don't know that they couldn't necessarily take that information later on and somehow use it in a different version for the data file itself and apply separate facial recognition to that. But they can't have it on the drone itself.

CATHY WURZER: Mm-hm. Did you get a chance to look at this draft from the MPD? If you did, what stands out to you about it?

JOHN LESCH: I did. And what I saw was that for the most part it's essentially the same requirements as the Minnesota law, which was passed with the imprimatur of law enforcement. And the last I checked, the Minneapolis City Council is pretty far to the left of the Republican controlled Senate who was in control when we passed the bill.

So I guess I'd be pretty amazed if the Minneapolis City Council agree to the same language that they'd passed. I'd expect that they would tighten it up in several areas.

CATHY WURZER: The ACLU individual we talked to today also thought that she would like to see-- with the state law that's more of a floor. She'd like to see a higher ceiling I guess, especially when you're dealing with the MPD.

JOHN LESCH: I absolutely agree. And I would add, Cathy, too, I worked with law enforcement and specifically the MPD for years during which they deployed new technologies, like cell phone exploitation devices, license plate readers, and body cameras. And in my opinion, they haven't shown themselves to be particularly nimble in deploying new technologies with privacy concerns in mind.

So yes, it's going to be up to the Minneapolis City Council to draw those lines for them, and the heightened standard, I would expect, are really important. For example, maybe with those areas such as surveiling a public event you could require a language that would meet a warrant requirement, but just wouldn't require a sworn affidavit that they'd have to submit to a judge. I think that would be a good way to tighten it up.

CATHY WURZER: So what are your concerns? How concerned are you that the MPD says, we're ready to deploy these drones to combat crime and to respond to emergencies?

JOHN LESCH: Well, based on the track record, I'm not very satisfied. When they put out body cameras, they swear they had a policy in place. And the best I could get from the chief at that time was a one pager SOP on how to use them. I don't think they're particularly nimble and I don't have full confidence that they're going to have a policy in place that really protects personal privacy and civil liberties when they put it out. But maybe I'll be proven wrong, Cathy. I hope I am.

CATHY WURZER: Because police forces are dealing with fewer officers now, do you think that they will need to rely on tech to be more efficient in the future?

JOHN LESCH: Absolutely. And I'm surprised I haven't heard from the union in their opposition to the use of drones. Normally when you try to automate people's jobs, they say no, use us, but I don't think I've heard a peep from the union on this. Yes, it allows one piece of technology to do the jobs of multiple. And I can't estimate how many different officers, but there is no question it will be of great use to them.

CATHY WURZER: You know the legislative process very well. Do you think that there will be an effort to try to strengthen the drone law, say, in the coming sessions?

JOHN LESCH: It's going to come down to whether or not they screw up. It's the media stories after a screw up that drive legislation. So if there's some high profile event that somebody's video shows up that shouldn't have been, that becomes the subject of a law that tries to pass. And keep in mind, Cathy, that just because we have a state law that passes and they have a city policy, it doesn't mean it overrules constitutional protections.

So there could well be a federal lawsuit on the breach of privacy rights too where the court says, nope, this law isn't good enough. You breach privacy rights. There could be another reason for why we modify legislation in the future.

CATHY WURZER: Are there states that are doing this well?

JOHN LESCH: Oh, that is an excellent question. I have not kept on it. In the two years since I've left the legislature, I haven't kept on who is doing it well. That's a good-- I'd have to look up on that. I don't know the answer to this right now.

CATHY WURZER: All right, but I know you being a criminal defense attorney, I'm sure you'll be watching carefully as to what happens in Minneapolis.

JOHN LESCH: I most certainly will, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: All right, it's good to talk with you again. Thank you.

JOHN LESCH: Likewise, thank you.

CATHY WURZER: We've been talking to former DFL State Representative John Lesch. He worked on the legislation back in, well, a number of years ago, but it passed in 2020 to regulate drone use in Minnesota law enforcement.


LIZZO (SINGING): Oh yeah, what's deeper than, what's deeper than the darkest best kept secret? Beneath the surface, we could let it bring us together, or it could tear us apart. Oh, I'm filled with it. I gotta love with no conditions, though it's hard to re-envision time and time again.

CATHY WURZER: A throwback to a Lizzo staple that many local fans love and remember. It's "My Skin," off of her 2015 album, "Big Girl, Small World." The song celebrates body positivity, especially among women of color. Lizzo wasn't born and raised in Minnesota, but she started her recording career in Minneapolis and the song serves as an anthem for many local fans even today.

LIZZO (SINGING): I woke up in this, in my skin. I can't wash it away, so you can't take it from me. My brown skin. Yep.

CATHY WURZER: It's 12:16 here on "Minnesota Now" on "MPR News." I was surprised to read recently that Minnesota ranks third out of all the states in the number of skin cancer cases. Utah and Vermont are ahead of us. And. I wondered what's going on there.

So I thought we'd ask our friend, Dr Jay-Sheree Allen. She's a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. How are you Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Hello, I am here. I'm sorry, my phone just went to sleep for a second.

CATHY WURZER: Oh see, this is the technology that we have. I know it. I know it. You need to have your phone awake, like everyone else is listening right now. The phone needs to listen as well and be awake. It's all right, it's OK. Oh my goodness. It's good to hear your voice, though.

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: It is so nice to be here with you. Yeah, I was enjoying the show, listening to this Lizzo song, and I'm like, wait, what happened?

CATHY WURZER: What's going on?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Where did everyone go?

CATHY WURZER: It's OK, it's OK. You know, I feel like we should have this conversation in spring or should have had the conversation this spring, when everyone was getting geared up for summer about skin cancer. So why is this important now?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Because some of these really important factors actually don't go away just because the summer is leaving. Even though it doesn't feel like the sun shines all year round in Minnesota, it does, I promise.


And so the risk is still there, right? The UV rays that we're talking about we're still being exposed to them. And then you think of things like we start taking vacations to warm and sunny places as the year goes on, and then we have to think of our past exposure as well. All that matters. So it's not just what happens this summer, but it's a few other things that are also involved.

CATHY WURZER: And we're talking about melanoma, which I understand is higher in men, much higher in men than in women. Two to three times more likely men are to be diagnosed with melanoma than women in Minnesota. Why that disparity there?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: So you have to think of the makeup of our state, right? So I think it's somewhere around some of the numbers that I saw, and again, they're a little dated because this is old census data, but around 85% of the state's residents are white.

And so you have to think too with that population enjoying more of like an active outdoor lifestyle and also a large farming community spending more time outdoors. This sort of translates to a greater risk for melanoma. And just in general too, we're finding the highest incidence occurring among males over the age of 75.

So we think cancer, older age, but in terms of Minnesota, you have to think about what's specific to this population. And you've got to think of our large farming population, men in that age range.

CATHY WURZER: I suppose sunscreen really is not used much.

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Yes, yes, and not just sunscreen, right now. One of the things that's really important is intense intermittent exposure early in life. So yes, we're definitely saying need to use sunscreen now, but even the sunscreen that you did or didn't use as a child matters a lot at this point in time.

CATHY WURZER: I am wondering here about the lesson that when it comes to sun and exposure. So do we think then that a younger population with the messages around use of sunscreen, protect yourself, that make more inroads? Maybe in the future we won't see as many cases?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Hoping, we're hoping it will. This is definitely one of the messages that I think needs to be pushed out to not just our teens, but also parents as well of young children taking them outside. Whether it's to the pool this summer or even just going outside for the fall, going out into the farm or so.

Important that we start using sunscreen as early as possible. And not just sunscreen. Sunscreen is important, but you want to think of just staying in the shade or especially avoiding the rays of the sun during those midday hours when they're brightest and most dangerous. And then kind of wearing clothing that will protect whether it's your arms and your legs from the sun.

And a hat to protect your head, your face, your neck. Sunglasses, it's not healthy to avoid sunlight completely.


JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: But there's a healthy medium and we've got to try to strike that balance.

CATHY WURZER: I can hear my sister now listening to this conversation saying, I don't burn, I tan, I tan, but you're still susceptible to melanoma, right?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Absolutely, absolutely. Tanning unfortunately is a risk factor. Looking at some of the data, we were talking earlier about the incidence being so high in the state with men especially over the age of 75, but would you believe that another demographic that we're finding that has a pretty high incidence too, females between the ages of 20, like around 20 to 49, in that age range. And it's being attributed to tanning, actually.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, like tanning beds?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Tanning beds.

CATHY WURZER: People still do that?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Yes, people do, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: No, no, no, no. That's too bad.


Oh, so it's cumulative obviously.

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Yes, yes, so definitely the big take home point is that this is not just about one time use. The risk of skin cancer from indoor tanning increases with each tanning session. And it's highest among those who start tanning at a younger age. So this is pretty convincing data here.

CATHY WURZER: So final question, what would you recommend for kids and teens especially when it comes to skin protection?

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: So I think I would reiterate some of the messages I stated earlier. So the big one, you want to limit exposure to strong sunlight and other sources of UV light, such as the tanning booths that we spoke about. I'm not trying to put anyone's business out of order, but just being honest and understanding the risk that this poses in terms of skin cancer risk and sun protection.

CATHY WURZER: All right.

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Then also the last thing I'd say, wearing sunscreen so, so, so important in protecting the different exposed parts of your skin when you are outside.

CATHY WURZER: All right. I appreciate listening to you. Thank you for the good information. And I hope you have a good rest of the day.

JAY-SHEREE ALLEN: Oh, thank you. And I'll change my phone settings around so I don't lose you next time.

CATHY WURZER: All right, I'll talk to you later. Thank you, see you later. That's Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen, family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic, host of the podcast "Millennial Health," check it out wherever you get your podcasts. Well, I tell you what, what we will do here quickly is just give you a quick weather forecast here before we go off to more.

Around the region at this hour it is nice. It's sunny, a little bit humid in Rochester right now where Dr. Jay-Sheree Allen is. It's 76 degrees, 79 in Duluth, that's over the hill at the Harbor at 77. 78 in Bemidji and 79 in the Twin Cities. Highs around the region upper 70s to the mid 80s. Slight chance for some thunderstorms popping up late this afternoon in the far north.

Chance for rain tonight. And yes, there's also a chance for rain tomorrow, a better chance of showers and thunderstorms around the region. Well, here is something I bet you did not know. And as a horse person, I did not know this. There is a rare horse breed that's native to the thick forests along the Minnesota Canadian border.

It's called the Lac La Croix pony or the Ojibwe horse. A few decades ago, there were only four of them left. Dan Kraker reports on the long effort to bring the Ojibwe horse back.

DAN KRAKER: Em Loerzel grew up hearing stories about the Ojibwe horse from her uncle. About small ponies that would roam free near Ojibwe communities and help with tasks like hauling wood. He told Loerzel, who's a descendant of the White Earth nation, not to forget these horses.

EM LOERZEL: I think when people think about Native people and their horses, they think of Lakota people or Southwest people. But he would tell me, he goes, don't forget that we were horse people too.

DAN KRAKER: Loerzel recently rescued six Ojibwe horses from a ranch in Canada and brought them to a farm outside River Falls, Wisconsin.

EM LOERZEL: This is Mino, short for Mino Bimaadiziwin. So that's our word for a good life. All of our Ojibwe horses have their Ojibwe names. Hey, kid.

DAN KRAKER: Mino, a two-year-old colt, checks my microphone.

EM LOERZEL: Oh, what is that. He's I think just one of the sweetest guys.

DAN KRAKER: Loerzel created a nonprofit called "The Humble Horse" to raise awareness about the breed and to help revive it. Only about 180 Ojibwe horses remain, mostly in Canada. Loerzel points out a few ways the breed has adapted over the generations to survive in the harsh northern climate.

EM LOERZEL: It's this little kind of, like, inside flap that you see here. It helps--

DAN KRAKER: On his nostrils?

EM LOERZEL: Yes, it helps protect them from cold air. And then you probably notice his really small fuzzy ears. It also protects them from the cold, but it also protects them from black flies.

DAN KRAKER: But the Ojibwe horse almost wasn't able to survive its greatest threat, people. In the early 1900s, they were killed and used to make dog food and glue. By 1977, there were only four left on the Lac La Croix first nation and Ontario, just north of the US-Canada border. Word spread that the Canadian government planned to exterminate them. So four men from the Bois Forte reservation in Minnesota launched a rescue mission.

HEATHER O'CONNOR: They piled in a pickup truck, hooked up a horse trailer, drove across beaver dams, and portages, and frozen ice in the middle of February.

DAN KRAKER: Heather O'Connor is a Canadian author and journalist who spent five years researching Ojibwe horses. She says it was dubbed the heist across the ice. Norman Jordan was a young boy at the time living at Lac La Croix. He remembers watching the men lead the horses away.

NORMAN JORDAN: I was thinking, well, I'm wondering if this is the last time I'm going to ever see those horses. I don't know if they'll ever be back again, because everybody was so attached to them in a deep way, spiritual way.

DAN KRAKER: But those four rescued mares allowed the breed to survive. Some of them were bred with a Spanish Mustang and slowly their numbers increased. In 2017, almost 40 years to the day that those four remaining horses were taken away, Jordan, who was Lac La Croix first nation chief at the time, helped bring a herd back to the community.

NORMAN JORDAN: It's almost like when they left, there was a piece of my history that was leaving. A piece of me, like a void that I've had for all these years, and then that night they came back. It's like that piece that was missing was back now.

DAN KRAKER: Eight years ago, Darcy Whitecrow and Kim Campbell started Grey Raven Ranch on the nearby Seine River First Nation, where they keep a small herd of Ojibwe horses. But Campbell says more people need to get involved for the horse to survive.

KIM CAMPBELL: The biggest thing is having people say, gee, I have a farm, I could have a breeding pair and do one baby a year. That's our biggest need.

EM LOERZEL: It's time to go out, come on.

DAN KRAKER: That's why advocates for the breed are thrilled that Em Loerzel has started her small herd in Wisconsin. Loerzel says the Ojibwe horse's story is a parallel to the story of Anishinaabe people.

EM LOERZEL: They were forcefully removed from their families. They were almost exterminated by the government. The population dwindled. And now we're coming back, and now we're thriving.

DAN KRAKER: And about a month ago one of her mares gave birth to a healthy foal. Dan Kraker, "MPR News," River Falls, Wisconsin.

SUBJECT: Programming on Minnesota Public Radio is supported by Luther College, announcing a new law and values major in a new counseling minor to prepare students for lives of impact in a complex, changing world. More at luther.edu.

CATHY WURZER: Let's get a news update right now from Emily Bright. Emily.

EMILY BRIGHT: Hi, Cathy. Florida Governor and Republican powerhouse Ron DeSantis will learn the identity of his general election opponent after primary voting today. Florida Democrats are deciding a fiercely fought contest between Congressman and former Governor Charlie Crist, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Crist has spent a lifetime in politics, much of it as a Republican, while Fried casts herself as something new with hopes of becoming Florida's first female governor. US officials say that as Russia's war on Ukraine drags on, US security assistance is shifting to a longer term campaign that will likely keep more American military troops in Europe into the future.

They say a new aid package to be announced includes an additional roughly $3 billion to train and equip Ukrainian forces to fight for years to come. The aid is expected to be announced Wednesday, the day the war hits the six-month mark and Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day.

The money will fund contracts for drones, weapons, and other equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two. A jury has convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Prosecutors described the plot as a rallying cry for a US civil war by anti-government extremists.

The jury also found Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr guilty of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. It was the second trial for the pair after a jury in April couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. A former head of security at Twitter has filed whistleblower complaints with US officials, alleging that the company misled regulators about its cybersecurity defenses and its problems with fake accounts.

That's according to reports by the "Washington Post" and CNN. Peter Zatko, Twitter's security chief until he was fired early this year, filed the complaints last month with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice. Zatko told the "Post" he felt ethically bound to come forward. We'll have more news at 1:00 o'clock here on "MPR News."

CATHY WURZER: This is Minnesota Now on MPR News. I'm Cathy Wurzer. Thanks for joining us. Minnesotans who want an abortion can still get one, but the Supreme Court's ruling in June overturning "Roe v Wade" made abortions illegal in neighboring South Dakota.

LEE STRUBINGER: Governor Noem said, quote, "today's decision will save unborn lives in South Dakota, but there is more work to do." She goes on to say that we must do what we can to help mothers in crisis to find resources. The ACLU of South Dakota says this is a shameful ruling by the Supreme Court. In a statement, the group says, quote, "because of the state's trigger law, South Dakotans now have fewer rights than people in other states in this country."

CATHY WURZER: We're going to continue our series looking at abortion rights in neighboring states. Lee Strubinger is a reporter with South Dakota Public Broadcasting based in Rapid City. He's with us right now. Lee, thanks for joining us.

LEE STRUBINGER: Yeah, thanks for having me, Cathy.

CATHY WURZER: For our Minnesota listeners, where does abortion stand legally in South Dakota since "Roe" fell?

LEE STRUBINGER: So abortion is illegal in South Dakota, unless to save the life of the mother. The state legislature in 2005 passed a trigger ban, putting that law in place with the caveat, that once "Roe" is overturned, this would go into effect immediately. And so when that decision came down by the Supreme Court, that's exactly what happened.

And so what that kind of looks like is even abortion is illegal for pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest. I have spoken with some who find there is uncertainty as to what appropriate and reasonable medical judgment means. That's kind of the technical language in the law. And they're basically concerned how long must a doctor wait before performing the procedure to save the life of the mother. It's not really clearly defined.

CATHY WURZER: OK. I know you're at protests in Rapid City after the Supreme Court decision came down. What was that like? What were protesters saying? What was the environment like?

LEE STRUBINGER: I think protesters were for the most part really grieving about the loss of that constitutional right. Four protests out in Rapid City, we have been hours away from any kind of clinic that offers abortion for some time. And so regardless of that decision, it has taken pregnant people a lot of extra miles, and extra hours, and extra days to get abortion care.

And so that hasn't really changed out here, but it's really that constitutional right that a lot of people were really mourning the loss of. There's a lot of sadness in that.

CATHY WURZER: And we should say that abortion laws in South Dakota have been pretty strict to this point.

LEE STRUBINGER: Yeah, so the legislature passed that abortion ban trigger law in 2005 and then almost immediately after that went to work on trying to pass abortion bans through the state legislature. And in South Dakota, we have what's called an initiative and referendum process.

Basically voters in the state, if they don't like a law that lawmakers pass, they can refer it to a vote for the next upcoming election. So in 2006, they did pass that abortion ban regardless of the trigger law. And that law got referred, and it set up a really, really heated battle over that particular question.

And so voters rejected that abortion ban and basically said, we would like to keep abortion legal in South Dakota, but with restrictions. And so what the legislature kind of did after that, and what a lot of anti-abortion groups did after that, was really started chipping away at the state's abortion law.

And really kind of over-regulating the procedure in a way that made it fairly onerous to get the procedure done. Like an informed consent waiver, there was also a three-day wait periods that were passed, as well as required counseling before getting the procedure done. And some of the doctors I've spoken to have said that kind of the informed consent waivers that they were required to present had medically inaccurate information.

CATHY WURZER: You know, I'm wondering about because you mentioned that South Dakota has initiative and referendum. And how are voters generally looking at the issue of abortion? I mean, keeping it legal with certain restrictions? I mean, have has polling been done on this?

LEE STRUBINGER: I would say there's no public polling that has been conducted on this. However, immediately after the Supreme Court decision was made, Republican Governor Kristi Noem and legislative leaders said, hey, we're going to call a special session. And the idea was, in their words, to really kind of bolster the state's pro-life policies.

There were no actual specific proposals that were announced, but they really wanted to call a special session to take care of any kind of changes in the state's abortion law that needed to be kind of buttoned up in their minds. However, a few weeks after that, there still was no kind of dates that were set for that special session to occur.

Now I say that because if we look at what happened in Kansas not too long ago, where voters there rejected some abilities for the legislature there to enact some abortion restrictions, I think the idea is that there might be some polling out there that sort of says maybe South Dakotans feel a little bit differently about abortion policy.

It's hard to really say, but the fact that there was no special session after several calls for that special session to happen, I think it's giving some lawmakers pause. And now that vote in Kansas seems like fairly significant because Lee Schoenbeck is the Republican leader in the Senate.

He's very Catholic, he's been pro-life for decades in the legislature. He's been an anti-abortion force, worked on the ballot questions that I mentioned about abortion bans in 2006 and in 2008 in the legislature. And he basically said that the Republican-controlled state Senate really wants to discern where the public is at on abortion policy.

LEE SCHOENBECK: The public in South Dakota, I don't believe supports late-term abortions. I don't believe they do. I think they understand that it's killing a kid, but where on the spectrum do you stop? Where does the public, a majority of the public say, at this point, we shouldn't have any more abortions beyond this point on that nine-month spectrum?

CATHY WURZER: How did his comments go over?

LEE STRUBINGER: So over the last several years, there has been some tension between both Republican supermajorities in the House and in the Senate. But there has been some tension between House leadership and Senate leadership under the leadership of Lee Schoenbeck, who we just heard from.

And so I think what that tells me is that there's really going to be some kind of infighting between what House lawmakers want and what Senate lawmakers want. I think the House is going to take more of a hardliner, conservative approach, whereas the Senate, like you just heard from Schoenbeck, is really going to want to figure out where the public is at on it.

CATHY WURZER: What are the pro-abortion groups doing in South Dakota? Are they going to take any action against state laws? What have they said?

LEE STRUBINGER: I have not heard of any kind of action really that can be taken against-- or that will be taken against the state's laws right now. Given the kind of breakdown of the Supreme Court right now, I'm not hearing of any laws that would be taken against-- lawsuits that would be taken against the state right now.

However, there is an effort to codify "Roe v Wade" into our state Constitution, which also might be informing Schoenbeck's perspective of trying to discern where the public is at and do this through the legislature as opposed through the initiative and referendum process. And so that also might be forcing their hand a little bit.

But again, they're not even gathering signatures for that at this point. They have to wait until the end of the next election. And so we're kind of just sitting in this area where we're really kind of living in the world of this 2005 trigger law. And any changes to the state's abortion policy, whether pro-abortion or anti-abortion, will really take shape in January.

CATHY WURZER: So with that what the clinic closed in Sioux Falls here, Lee, is Planned Parenthood doing anything else? Offering contraceptive care or anything like that?

LEE STRUBINGER: Yeah, they're continuing to offer that contraceptive care in Sioux Falls. Obviously they cover Minnesota and North Dakota and all the north central states there. And they've basically reassured South Dakotans that they're beefing up their resources in those areas to deal with an influx of patients seeking abortion care.

And so that's also kind of where we're at this point. I know, out west when it comes to states like Wyoming, there's an abortion clinic that opened up in Casper, not too long ago that's been closed. And someone set it on fire and those sorts of things. But a lot of these near clinics are either Casper, Wyoming, Billings, Montana, which is kind of up in the air, and then essentially down in Colorado.

CATHY WURZER: Clearly there's a lot going on here and a lot remains to be seen. You've done a really good job explaining what's happening in South Dakota. Thanks so much, Lee.

LEE STRUBINGER: Yeah. Thanks for having me. You bet.

CATHY WURZER: Lee Strubinger is a reporter with South Dakota Public Broadcasting based in Rapid City.

SUBJECT: Programming is supported by Michigan Technological University, where construction has begun on the HDEM Complex, an innovative laboratory space for advancing research that improves human health and quality of life. Online at mtu.edu.

CATHY WURZER: This is "Minnesota Now" on "MPR News." I'm Cathy Wurzer. A Black-led credit union is gearing up to open in North Minneapolis this fall. It was renamed recently by the Association for Black Economic Power. That's a nonprofit with a mission to address systemic financial challenges affecting residents in North Minneapolis.

It's now called Arise Community Credit Union. For more about the credit union and other business news in the Twin Cities, I'd like to welcome Kelly Busche to the program. Kelly is a reporter for "The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal," Hey, Kelly.

KELLY BUSCHE: Hey, Cathy. How's it going?

CATHY WURZER: Good. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it. Say, for listeners who don't already know, tell us the back story about Arise Community Credit Union.

KELLY BUSCHE: Sure. So Arise Community Credit Union is a Black-led community credit union that's been planned for North Minneapolis since 2017. The credit union was launched by local nonprofit Association for Black Economic Power and it's going to be the first Black-led credit union in Minneapolis when it opens.

CATHY WURZER: So what's the community saying about this?

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, so the community voted on this new name. And the new name is a change from its former name, which is Village Financial Credit Union. And so this new name brings the credit union one step closer to opening.

CATHY WURZER: So let's talk about some other North Minneapolis news. The food justice nonprofit called "Appetite For Change." I know it received their largest donation ever, which was $1 and 1/2 million from an anonymous donor. I've never heard of "Appetite For Change." Tell us about it.

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, "Appetite For Change" is another nonprofit in North Minneapolis and it's a nonprofit that uses food as a tool to build wealth and promote social change. So it operates a few programs in the community. These include the West Broadway Farmers Market, Community Cooks Meal Boxes, in the north-side, Fresh Coalition. It also operates Breaking Bread, Cafe & Catering on West Broadway Avenue in North Minneapolis.

CATHY WURZER: It sounds like a lot. How are they going to use this donation?

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, it's an unrestricted gift so the nonprofit can use it however it sees. And they told us that right now it's planning to use the funds to help buy a headquarters building in North Minneapolis. And it also wants to purchase vehicles to support its operations, as well as hire more staff and provide benefits to current staff.

CATHY WURZER: All right, let's move on to another story. Kelly, I understand you recently reported that the Red Lake Nation College, which is in downtown Minneapolis, is expanding its footprint. Tell us about that.

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, it's looking to grow its downtown Minneapolis footprint. And its campus right now is located across the street from US Bank Stadium. And here it wants to construct one large building, which would incorporate two other buildings that currently stand on the property.

And this new building would have a two-story glass atrium, classroom space and event space, that would all be used by the college. And right now the college currently operates minimally out of one building on-site. And with the new building it hopes to enroll at least 250 students and further develop curriculum and degree programs for the college.

CATHY WURZER: So I'm assuming this is run by the Red Lake Nation. Who can attend this college? Anyone?

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, anyone. Community members of the Red Lake Nation as well as non-tribal members as well.

CATHY WURZER: All right. A big business, Target, of course, is facing some issues we understand with excess inventory post-pandemic. What's going on there?

KELLY BUSCHE: Yeah, it was a big week in local business news. So Target reported its second quarter results this week and the headline from that report is that Target's second quarter profits fell by nearly 90% from a year ago. And this decline is due to right sizing steps that Target took earlier this summer.

So Target slashed prices on some items to get rid of that excess inventory and this right sizing was needed because consumer habits have pretty abruptly shifted away from items that were popular early in the pandemic, and these popular items were things like, kitchen appliances, TVs, and outdoor furnitures, which Target had too much inventory of.

CATHY WURZER: OK. So if I'm looking for a TV, will I get a deal?

KELLY BUSCHE: I'm not sure you'll get a deal anymore. Target said that it's in a much better place now thanks to those steps it took. So it's expecting financial improvements to continue over the next rest of the year.

CATHY WURZER: OK, so it sounds like they've kind of winnowed down their inventory.

KELLY BUSCHE: Yes, exactly.

CATHY WURZER: Kelly. Nice job, we'll have you back.

KELLY BUSCHE: Thank you. For more on these stories and other local business news, log on to mspbj.com.

CATHY WURZER: Excellent. Thank you. Kelly Busche is a reporter for "The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal."


This is "Minnesota Now" here on "MPR News." I'm Cathy Wurzer. You've probably heard that NASA's hoping to send humans back to the moon and a launch next week is the next big step in that mission.

That's one of the top science stories out there. Here to talk about that, plus spiders, and fossils, and a whole bunch more is Jill Jensen. She's the President of the Minnesota Science Teachers Association and a seventh grade life science teacher at Scott Highlands Middle School in Apple Valley. Welcome to the program, Jill. How are you?

JILL JENSEN: Hi, I'm great. Thanks for having me.

CATHY WURZER: I'm glad you're with us, thank you. Well, you know, it seems that NASA's focus the past few years has been largely on Mars. So why are we now thinking about the moon again?

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, so this is actually a really exciting launch. It is the first step of actually a pathway to Mars. And it's going to be testing out one of their largest rockets. They're also going to be going further into space than they've gone before. It's a rocket that is designed to have a huge capacity.

So being able to carry much more weight than some previous missions. And a return to Earth that's actually designed to be faster than it has been in the past. And so that's why this first launch is actually going to be without humans.

So they have some mannequins set to go into orbit with some sensors on them to test out all of those systems. And it also will be a test of their heat shield to make sure that everything returns to Earth safely.

CATHY WURZER: So will this capsule or vehicle be going to the moon or just orbiting?

JILL JENSEN: So this particular one is going to orbit the moon, and it's actually going to do what they call a retrograde orbit, which means it's going to go the opposite direction than the moon is going. And it will use some of that to gain some momentum to make it back to Earth. And then the next launch, which will be HERMES 2, will have people, but they also won't be landing on the moon. They'll just be also doing more of a scouting mission to look for their landing places, and then eventually the next one will have people on it and then for landing.

CATHY WURZER: OK, we're going to change gears here. Let's talk about technology news. I have an Apple Watch, wearable technology kind of became famous because of the Apple watches. But I know there are new technologies being developed that can actually have some major health benefits. Is that right?

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, so there was a really interesting article about advanced robotic clothing. The way I look at it is we are in that field at the first stage. If you imagine back to your very first cell phone and all of the changes that have happened since then, we're at like stage one of advanced robotic clothing right now.

Up until now, we've had a lot of fun robotic clothing, things like light up dresses and musical gloves, but we're really on the cusp of some new changes. Pants that have some sensors in them that can help promote blood flow. Maternity clothes that can track heartbeats. So I think moving forward, we're going to see a lot of new stages and a lot of new technology come from that.

CATHY WURZER: The pants that stimulate blood flow, I can imagine could be great for people who have maybe peripheral artery disease, something like that.

JILL JENSEN: Yeah. Or any elderly people with just circulation issues. It might have lots of benefits coming forward.

CATHY WURZER: And what about this story about new fossils in Utah? I love anything dealing with fossils.

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, me too. I think fossils are always super interesting because it's just these clues into our past that are unknown, and it makes you curious about how did the world used to work. So they found what looks like about 88 footprints that belong to both adults and children in the Great Salt Lake desert.

And their guess is they're about 12,000-years-old. And they kind of found them by happenstance. They were driving along and one of the people in the truck was telling his friend about some other footprints he found in New Mexico. And the friend was asking, oh, what did they look like? And looking out the window, he's like, they kind of look like that.

And they ended up stopping the truck and looking closer, and they ended up actually finding out that these indeed were some footprints. So they believe that this area at one point was a pretty big wetland, and as people walked through, the water and sand kind of filled up their footprints, and then preserved their shape.

And what I also found interesting was to me this was also a connection to kind of along the same time, there was a group of people at a restaurant and a patio in China, and looked down and found a fossilized footprint of a sauropod. And they brought in some experts and confirmed that as well. So there's a lot of clues to our past kind of hiding in plain sight.

CATHY WURZER: I love that. And because you're a life science teacher, I think we'd be remiss if we didn't talk about bugs. So what's this new discovery about spiders and sleep?

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, so there was a scientist who had a collection of jumping spiders. So jumping spiders are actually probably one of the more common spiders that you can find. They're super small, and they do jump quite a bit. I see them outside on my garden and on my patio quite often.

And she had been collecting some for a different experiment to actually see if spiders have arachnophobia. If they can tell and be afraid of other spiders, but she happened to notice as they were sitting in their containers that they had actions that looked as if they were dreaming. So kind of some leg twitches and it was sitting still up until that point.

So that led her to getting a night vision camera and setting up a filming opportunity for her to document this further, and it seems as if based on her footage that they are indeed mimicking some REM pattern sleep. What I find fascinating about that story is well, a couple of things.

One that this is one of the first instances of this kind of level of animal going through REM sleep, but what I find more interesting is that this was not her original study. That she had these spiders set up for a whole different purpose, but by just watching carefully and noticing these other behaviors, that led her down this complete other path. And to me that is the beauty of science, that sometimes unexpected findings just become apparent or present themselves.

CATHY WURZER: So the potential that spiders can have dreams as we do.

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, right. Now it gets a little tricky to prove, of course, because to actually prove it, you'd want to monitor their brain activity, which as you can imagine for a spider is going to be pretty difficult to do.

CATHY WURZER: Right, exactly, but I like the possibility.


CATHY WURZER: Say, before you go, it's been fun to talk with you. But before you go, of course, you're getting ready to start a new school year. What's the emphasis early in the school year for your students? What are you going to be teaching?

JILL JENSEN: So at the beginning of the year we do a lot of just introduction to science and kind of getting them used to that idea of science, and that there's not a straight path of science, kind of like in that spider story. And getting them excited about discovering things. I also try to get them outside.

We've got a prairie that I just installed in our school yard and will be looking for some pollinators and kind of monitoring. We're going to do a couple of citizen science projects this year as well to get kids actively involved in collecting and sharing data.

CATHY WURZER: Oh, that sounds like fun.


CATHY WURZER: I can tell that you're also excited about what you do.

JILL JENSEN: Yeah, it's a great job.

CATHY WURZER: I hope you have a great start to the school year and it was fun talking to you. I'd like to have you back, if that's OK.

JILL JENSEN: I would love to be back.

CATHY WURZER: Perfect, all right. Well, Jill, thank you so much and I wish you all the best for the new school year.

JILL JENSEN: Thank you.

CATHY WURZER: Jill Jensen is the President of the Minnesota Science Teachers Association and a seventh grade life science teacher at Scott Highlands Middle School in Apple Valley.


By the way, if you've got questions for Jill, we thought we'd have a fun segment every so often called "Ask the Science Teacher." So you can send your questions our way "Minnesota Now" at npr.org and Jill will take a shot at it. Thanks for listening to the program. Another whole program tomorrow, a whole hour long look at Minnesota news. I'm glad you're listening here to "Minnesota Now." Have a good afternoon.

This is "MPR News" 91.1. KNOW Minneapolis, St. Paul. Support for "Minnesota Now" comes from True Stone Financial. A full service credit union working to improve the financial well-being of its neighbors since 1939. Serving individuals and businesses at 23 locations and online at truestone.org. Equal housing opportunity insured by NCUA.

Right now in the Twin Cities, mostly sunny skies, 79, a little humid out there. The high today should top out at about 83, south winds at 5 to 10. The overnight low will be about 65 degrees. Clouds tomorrow. There's a 50% chance of thunderstorms with a high of 83. And then another 50% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow night.

Thursday, for the start of the state fair, practically perfect, mostly sunny skies a high of 75. Friday, sunshine with a high of 78. It's 1:00 o'clock.

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