Buried riches? Mining companies are drilling for new deposits up north

Mining drill bit
David Oliver, manager of special projects for Twin Metals, holds a drill bit like the ones used in the exploratory drilling currently going on in areas around Ely, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

Today on your MPR News Update: There's copper in them thar soils. Also, we hear about the dismissal of a St. Paul crime lab case due to inaccurate testing. Some Canadians tell Minnesota to pass the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage - while others disagree. Safety-net hospitals sound the alarm about reduced government funding. And Jerry Sandusky learns his fate.

DRILLING FOR ORE DOLLARS: For about three weeks now, a Twin Metals hollow drill bit tipped with diamonds has been grinding thousands of feet down into the rock beneath the forest near Ely. The rock samples pulled up by rig workers are shipped to a warehouse for geologic analysis. When the exploratory drilling is all through, the company hopes to have access to a mineral deposit bonanza.

CANADIAN VALUESSame-sex marriage has been legal in Canada for seven years, and at a gathering hosted by University of St. Thomas Law School on Monday the law was roundly denounced by conservative Canadian Christians, and they urged Minnesotans to pass a proposed state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. But Canadian religious leaders are divided on the matter, with some clergy denying the law interferes with religious practice.

MINORITY PROTESTANTS: The percentage of Protestant adults in the U.S. has reached a low of 48 percent, the first time that Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has reported with certainty that the number has fallen below 50 percent. The drop has long been anticipated and comes at a time when no Protestants are on the U.S. Supreme Court and the Republicans have their first presidential ticket with no Protestant nominees.

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FACT-CHECKING ROMNEY: Mitt Romney solely blamed President Barack Obama on Monday for potential defense cuts that Republicans in Congress worked out with the White House and Democrats, and left the erroneous impression that Obama has ignored free trade initiatives. That's just one item highlighted in a fact-check of the Republican presidential nominee's statements in his Monday foreign policy speech.

SUBSIDY CUTS: Hennepin County Medical Center and other so-called "safety net" hospitals are preparing for a decline in federal funding due to the national health care overhaul, which calls for reducing federal subsidies the facilities have relied on for more than 20 years.

SANDUSKY'S FATE: Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was sentenced today to at least 30 years in prison -- effectively a life sentence -- in the child sexual abuse scandal that also brought shame to the university and led to coach Joe Paterno's downfall. Along with the main story we have a recap of the major players in the case and the key dates in the saga.

LYNN SEIBEL'S CLOUD: Already facing more than a dozen charges of criminal sexual conduct with minors, a former teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary's college preparatory school in Faribault had also been previously accused of misconduct at the school. A statement from the school disclosed that allegations were made about the former drama teacher Lynn Seibel in 2001.

DRUG CASE DROPPED AFTER LAB FUMBLE: Prosecutors have dismissed a drug charge against a St. Paul woman after a re-test of the evidence by the state crime lab found it was not illegal drugs. The troubled St. Paul police crime lab initially tested the evidence in the case against Pahoua Yang and found it was methamphetamine. After the lab shut down drug testing, the evidence was submitted to the state-run Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for re-testing. Out of the 97 cases re-tested by the BCA lab, this is the first that found a serious problem with the St. Paul lab's findings.

AL-SHABAB INSIDER: As the federal trial of Mahamud Said Omar continues this week, one of the government's cooperating witnesses, Kamal Hassan, is set to give an insider's view of how he was recruited by al-Shabab. "There's been bits and pieces about him in the press, and he's never got to tell what happened to him, why he left," Hassan's lawyer, Manny Atwal, said. "He'll discuss when he was at the mosque, how he left the mosque, left Minnesota, went to Somalia, what happened in Somalia, and his return back to the United States."

MENINGITIS SCARE GROWS: Several hundred of the more than 800 Minnesota patients exposed to potentially contaminated steroid injections are reporting symptoms that could be signs of meningitis infection. Most patients who have symptoms describe them as mild, said state epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield. That could indicate other possible conditions, unrelated to meningitis infection, she said, but all symptoms should be investigated. The Health Department is advising patients with symptoms to seek out a medical evaluation.

'DRIVING WHILE BLACK: The air-freshener-off-the-rear-view-mirror crime has apparently nabbed Seimone Augustus, a star with the WNBA Minnesota Lynx. Augustus, who is black, began tweeting on Monday that she was stopped in Roseville for having the air freshener -- which is technically a violation of the law -- but was then quizzed because of alleged crime in the area. Bob Collins writes on News Cut that a lot of people pulled over under this pretext believe that they are being stopped for "driving while black."