STEEL LABOR TALKS Cliffs, Steelworkers reach tentative deal (Information in the following story is from: WDIO-TV, http://www.wdio.com) DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – Cliffs Natural Resources and the United Steelworkers of America have reached tentative agreement on a contract covering union workers in Minnesota and Michigan. Cliffs and the Steelworkers announced the tentative deal Wednesday. WDIO-TV reports negotiations began Monday in Duluth, Minnesota. Cliffs says the proposed three-year contract would cover about 2,400 Steelworkers at the company’s Empire and Tilden mines in Michigan, and its United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite mines in Minnesota. No details were released. The old contract expired September 1st, but the two sides agreed to extend the contact with no strike and no lockout without at least 48 hours’ notice from either side. Members of the United Steelworkers approved a new three-year contract with U.S. Steel last month. ArcelorMittal USA also reached a tentative agreement with Steelworkers last month.
MINNESOTA BUDGET-UPDATE Minn. collects more taxes, warns of fiscal cliff ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota collected more taxes than expected in the latest quarter, a bright sign ahead of a comprehensive budget forecast due in early December. But Minnesota Management and Budget officials warned Wednesday that another recession is likely if Congress can’t avoid deep spending cuts and tax increases at the start of 2013. Their report says the state took in an extra $145 million from July through September, or 4 percent better than expected, as taxes on individual incomes, sales, corporate incomes and other items were all up. Revenues for the current two-year budget period are now $444 million above expectations, but any surplus by law must go toward catching the state up on school aid checks. The economic update doesn’t show whether the state is spending more or less than predicted.
CAPITOL BREAK-IN Minn. man found passed out on Wis. Capitol roof (Information in the following story is from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj) MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Police say a Minnesota man who broke into the Wisconsin Capitol through a first-floor window and was found unconscious on the roof is now facing criminal charges. The Wisconsin Department of Administration says 21-year-old Andrew Bishop smashed a window Sunday to get into the Capitol. Authorities say the Roseville, Minnesota man then grabbed a fire extinguisher and threw it through another window. Police found Bishop passed out on the fourth-floor rooftop just below the dome’s observation deck. A criminal complaint says an officer described Bishop as very drunk and ultimately apologetic. Bishop is charged in Dane County with felony criminal damage and entry into a locked building, a misdemeanor. He was in jail on a $1,000 bond Wednesday and doesn’t yet have an attorney. He’s due in court next week.
MISSING-SOMALIS Witness: Minn. terror defendant not at meetings MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Minnesota man who joined the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia says he never saw a man accused of supporting recruits take part in planning meetings at a Minneapolis mosque. Kamal Said (sy-EED’) Hassan testified Wednesday in the federal trial of Mahamud Said (mah-hah-MOOD’ sy-EED’) Omar in Minneapolis. Omar is charged with five terror counts stemming from an investigation into young Somali men leaving Minnesota since 2007 to join al-Shabab’s fight against the U.N.-backed government in Somalia. Hassan testified that he knew Omar only from his work as a janitor at the mosque. But Hassan also testified that Omar later told him by phone that he was at an al-Shabab safe house in Somalia. He said he was surprised to learn Omar was there.
PHOTOGRAPHY STORE-HOMICIDES Police arrest suspect in Wis. photo store killings LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) – Police have arrested a Minnesota man in the shooting deaths of a father and son in their La Crosse photography store last month. La Crosse Police Chief Ronald Tischer says 39-year-old Jeffrey Lepsch of Dakota, Minnesota was arrested Wednesday near his home. Online court records say Lepsch is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. A defense attorney is not listed. Fifty-six-year-old store owner Paul Petras and his 19-year-old son A.J. Petras were found shot to death September 15th inside May’s Photo in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin. Lepsch is in the Winona County Jail in Minnesota. Police plan to release more information at a news conference Thursday.
GAUTHIER SEAT Court: Minn. candidate’s name won’t be on ballot (Information in the following story is from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com) DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the name of a write-in candidate won’t appear on the ballot in a Duluth legislative race. The court Wednesday denied Jay Fosle’s request to be listed on the ballot. Fosle had been running as a write-in candidate without party affiliation. But after the high court agreed to replace Representative Kerry Gauthier (GAHTH’-ee-uhr) with Erik Simonson as the Democratic candidate, Fosle asked that his name also be printed. Gauthier dropped his re-election campaign in August after having a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy. Fosle tells the Duluth News Tribune the Supreme Court’s decision means he will “just have to work harder.” Republican Travis Silvers is on the ballot. Dr. David Pipho, a Duluth emergency room doctor, is registered as a write-in candidate.
MINNESOTA WILDFIRE-ARSON Investigators: Karlstad fire likely arson MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Fire investigators say a wildfire that destroyed several homes in the northwest town of Karlstad this month was probably arson. The Department of Natural Resources says a $6,000 reward is being offered for information that helps identify the person who started it. The Karlstad fire, also known as the County 27 fire, was a fast-moving blaze in dry and windy conditions that destroyed 11 homes and damaged dozens of structures. It started about 2 p.m. on September 30th, in Marshall County, north of the intersection of County Road 27 and 250th Avenue Northwest. Sheriff John Novacek (NOH’-vah-chek) says investigators believe it was human-caused because there’s no indication of lightning or other natural causes, but they don’t have any specific evidence. He says anyone who saw anything suspicious should come forward.
MENINGITIS OUTBREAK-MINNESOTA Pharmacy in outbreak lacked proper Minn. license ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Massachusetts pharmacy that mixed and supplied a steroid blamed for a deadly meningitis outbreak isn’t licensed to distribute the drug in Minnesota. State pharmacy board director Cody Wiberg said Wednesday that the New England Compounding Center should have been licensed as a wholesaler and manufacturer in order to sell the drug in bulk to clinics. He says the company has a Minnesota pharmacy license, but that doesn’t allow bulk distribution of mixed drugs. That license only allows filling of individual prescriptions. Wiberg wouldn’t comment on whether the board is investigating. The company’s license status was first reported by the Star Tribune. The fungal meningitis outbreak has sickened more than 100 people and killed 12. In Minnesota, three women have become ill.
WOLF HUNT-MINNESOTA Court rejects bid to block Minn. wolf hunt ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The Minnesota Court of Appeals is refusing to block the scheduled opening of Minnesota’s inaugural wolf hunting season on November 3rd. In an order Wednesday, a three-judge panel said two groups that sued to stop the hunt failed to show that letting the season proceed would cause irreparable harm. The Center for Biological Diversity and Howling for Wolves claimed in their lawsuit that the Department of Natural Resources failed to allow for adequate public comment before it adopted its regulations for the upcoming wolf season. The DNR countered that it received extensive public input. Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney for the center, says she’s deeply disappointed because the order means hundreds of wolves will suffer and die. She says they’ll discuss whether to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.