Author: The Associated Press

Access Again an Issue at Federal Trial in Floyd’s Killing

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A closed hearing in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers in George Floyd’s killing was canceled Friday after prosecutors and the media objected. It’s the second time in just days that access to the proceedings became an issue. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson scheduled the conference on the admissibility of some evidence…

Omicron Wave Leaves US Food Banks Scrambling for Volunteers

WASHINGTON (AP) – Food banks are experiencing a critical shortage of volunteers as the omicron variant frightens people away from group activities. Individual volunteers are shying away from their usual shifts, and companies and schools that regularly supply large groups of volunteers are canceling their participation over virus fears. The end result in many cases has been a serious increase…

FBI: Laundrie Admitted Killing Gabby Petito in Notebook

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — The boyfriend of slain cross-country traveler Gabby Petito admitted killing her in a notebook discovered near his body in a Florida swamp, the FBI announced Friday. It was the first time authorities squarely pinned the blame for Petito’s death on Brian Laundrie, though he was the prime suspect all along. Investigators meanwhile announced that Laundrie,…

GOP Investigator No Longer Wants to Jail Wisconsin Mayors

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Republican-hired investigator looking into Wisconsin’s 2020 election is no longer seeking to jail the mayors of Green Bay and Madison for allegedly not complying with a subpoena he issued last year. A judge on Friday said he needed more facts before deciding whether to compel the mayors to testify. Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez…

Rittenhouse Seeks Return of Gun Used During Kenosha Protest

KENOSHA, Wis. – Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois man acquitted of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during street protests in Kenosha in 2020, has filed papers in court to recover property seized by police after his arrest, including the gun he used in the shootings. A motion filed in Kenosha County Circuit Court on Wednesday states that Rittenhouse…

Florida Man Charged After 4 Found Dead at Canada-US Border

(John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP) WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) – A Florida man has been charged with human smuggling after the bodies of four people, including a baby and a teen, were found in Canada near the U.S. border. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota says 47-year-old Steve Shand has been charged with human smuggling after seven…

Louie Anderson Dead at 68

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Louie Anderson, whose more than four-decade career as a comedian and actor included his unlikely, Emmy-winning performance as mom to twin adult sons in the TV series “Baskets,” died Friday. He was 68. Anderson died at a hospital in Las Vegas of complications from cancer, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime publicist. Anderson had a a type…

Enbridge Says It Has Fixed Pierced Aquifer Near Oil Pipeline

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File) MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Enbridge Energy said it has stopped the flow of spilled artesian groundwater that began a year ago when workers installing the Line 3 oil pipeline in northwestern Minnesota punctured an aquifer. The spill near Enbridge’s terminal in Clearbrook was one of the worst environmental accidents during the construction of the 340-mile pipeline in…

Meat Loaf, ‘Bat Out of Hell’ Rock Superstar, Dies at 74

NEW YORK (AP) – Meat Loaf, the rock superstar loved by millions for his “Bat Out of Hell” album and for such theatrical, dark-hearted anthems as “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” has died at age 74. A family statement provided by his longtime agent says the singer born Marvin Lee Aday died Thursday…

Long-Sought Great Lakes Projects Get Funding Under New Law

(AP) – The Biden administration’s new infrastructure package will pump more funding into two high-profile Great Lakes projects. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will devote $479 million to the construction of a new shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The money will be enough to finish the long-sought lock, which will boost the passage of cargo…

US Jobless Claims Rise to 286,000, Highest Since October

WASHINGTON (AP) – The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to the highest level in three months as the fast-spreading omicron variant disrupted the job market. Jobless claims rose for the third straight week – by 55,000 to 286,000, highest since mid-October, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, rose…

Hundreds Take State-Paid Nursing Assistant Training

MINNEAPOLIS – Hundreds of Minnesotans are taking advantage of the state’s offer to cover the cost of training to become a certified nursing assistant. The state has used $3.5 million in federal relief funding to pay for students’ tuition, textbooks, and certification exams in hopes of alleviating staffing shortages in long-term care facilities and veterans’ homes during the coronavirus pandemic….

Wisconsin Bill Makes New Crime for Vaccine Tampering

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Intentionally damaging vaccines would be a felony in Wisconsin under a bill with bipartisan support that the state Assembly is scheduled to approve Thursday. The measure comes in response to a pharmacist in a Milwaukee suburb spoiling more than 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021. He pleaded guilty to the federal charges and…

Jury Selection To Start in Federal Trial Over Floyd’s Death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Jury selection is scheduled to begin in the federal case against three former Minneapolis police officers who were with Derek Chauvin when he pinned George Floyd to the street. J. Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao are charged with depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights while acting under government authority. Starting Thursday, jurors will be questioned by…

June 13 Date Set for State Trial for 3 Ex-Cops in Floyd’s Death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A state court trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with the death of George Floyd has been rescheduled for June 13, after both the defense and prosecutors requested a postponement. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao face charges of aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter. Their trial was supposed to start on March…

Vice President Harris Plans Milwaukee Visit Next Week

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit Milwaukee on Monday, which would be her second trip to Wisconsin since taking office a year ago. The White House said Wednesday that Harris will be joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and second gentleman Doug Emhoff for the visit. Additional details were to be…

Biden To Give Away 400 Million N95 Masks Starting Next Week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to Americans starting next week. The step comes after federal officials emphasized the masks’ better protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings. The White House said Wednesday the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more…

Group Delivers Whistleblower Documents on Clergy Abuse

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An advocacy group working to end clergy abuse in Wisconsin has delivered thousands of documents from Wisconsin’s five Catholic dioceses to the state attorney general, documents it says show a systemic coverup of abuse. The documents were provided to Nate’s Mission by whistleblowers within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Madison, La Crosse, Green…

Wisconsin Republicans Seek to Tighten Unemployment Benefits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Wisconsin Republican lawmakers have introduced a package of legislation that would tighten eligibility for unemployment benefits and Medicaid coverage. Republicans said Tuesday that the bills are designed to get more people into the workforce and address what they maintain is a crippling labor shortage in the state. The sweeping package would require audits of recipients’ work…

Walz Asks Lawmakers to Back Record $2.7 Billion Bonding Bill

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz asked the Legislature on Tuesday to back a $2.7 billion “local jobs and projects” plan that’s considerably larger than the record package that lawmakers passed two years ago. The Democratic governor unveiled his wish list at a news conference outside the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, which is getting a major rebuild…

Website for Free Virus Tests Is Here. How Does It Work?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under criticism after weeks of shortages, President Joe Biden’s administration is working to make COVID-19 rapid test kits more available and accessible to Americans by boosting supply and lowering costs. A new federal website to request free test kits officially launches Wednesday — but was available to use Tuesday — with the first shipments going out to…

Judge Stops Minnesota Hospital From Disconnecting Ventilator

(courtesy: Fox 9) COON RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) – A man who has been suffering from a severe case of COVID-19 and was being kept alive by a ventilator has been moved from a Minnesota hospital to a Texas facility after a judge issued a restraining order stopping the hospital from turning off his machine. Fifty-five-year-old Scott Quiner, of Buffalo, was…

Wisconsin Lawmakers Plan Would Lower Age To Carry Concealed Weapon

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Republican state lawmakers are pushing a plan that would lower the minimum age to legally carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin. Currently, a Wisconsin resident needs to be 21 before they can apply for a concealed carry permit. The GOP-backed bill would lower it to 18. The measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Shae Sortwell says 18-year-olds have…

Hostages Safe after Texas Synagogue Standoff; Captor Dead

FBI and police spokeswomen declined to answer questions about who shot the man.

AP Photo/Brandon Wade COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — Four hostages were spared and their captor was killed, ending a 10-hour standoff at a Texas synagogue where the hostage-taker — a British national — could be heard ranting on a Livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. One…

West Coast Under Tsunami Advisory Following Pacific Eruption

Japan Meteorology Agency via AP WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – An undersea volcano has erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga. The eruption on Saturday sent tsunami waves swirling around buildings and people rushing to higher ground. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage because all internet connectivity with Tonga was lost. Following the eruption,…

Waukesha Parade Suspect To Stand Trial for Murder

(Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department via AP)   MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Wisconsin court commissioner has ordered a Milwaukee man accused of plowing his SUV through a suburban Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens more, to stand trial. Waukesha County Court Commissioner Kevin Costello ordered Darrell Brooks Jr. bound over for trial on more than 70 charges, including…

Heavy Snow in Midwest Slows Travel, Closes Scores of Schools

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Heavy snow spread across a large swath of the Midwest, where travel conditions deteriorated and scores of schools closed or moved to online instruction. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for parts of Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa, and Illinois, where forecasters were expecting up to 10 inches of fresh snow. The weather service tweeted…

Mining Ban Near Boundary Waters Once Again on the Table

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) – The ongoing tug-of-war over whether mining should be allowed near the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has been resurrected with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Federal officials once again gathered feedback from the public in a virtual meeting Wednesday that comes more than five years after a 20-year mining ban was first…

National Guard to Staff Wisconsin Hospitals, Nursing Homes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin National Guard troops will help fill staffing shortages at the state’s hospitals and nursing homes over the coming weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 patients, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday. The governor said troops are being trained as certified nursing assistants. About 50 soldiers were deployed to six nursing homes during the past week….

Supreme Court Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Rule for US Businesses

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court has stopped the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement that employees at large businesses be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask on the job. At the same time, the court is allowing the administration to proceed with a vaccine mandate for most health care workers in the U.S. The…

Minneapolis Schools Move Instruction Online as Virus Surges

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minneapolis Public Schools will pivot to online instruction for two weeks because the coronavirus has significantly reduced the number of school staff available for in-person learning. Virtual education will begin Friday with students returning to the classroom on Jan. 31. Minneapolis joins a growing list of school districts planning to move to distance learning, including Osseo, Prior…

The Heat Stays On: Earth Hits 6th Warmest Year on Record

(AP) – Two U.S. science agencies say 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record globally, part of a long-term warming trend. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Thursday released measurements showing how hot last year was. It wasn’t record hot, but the year’s 58.5-degree average is not much behind the record. The last eight years have been…

Judge Agrees To Delay State Trial for 3 Cops in Floyd Death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A Minnesota judge has agreed to delay a state court trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death, though he didn’t immediately set a date. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill told attorneys to agree on a new date that’s within one year. They must inform the court by Sunday. Cahill said if they…

Marquardt Joins House Members Who Won’t Seek Reelection

(AP Photo/Steve Karnowski) ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The number of Minnesota state lawmakers who don’t plan to seek reelection continues to grow. Longtime Rep. Paul Marquart joined the list Wednesday. The Democrat was first elected to the House 22 years ago after serving as Dilworth’s mayor for 11 years. Marquardt says that at age 65 it’s time to try…

US Inflation Soared 7% In Past Year, the Most Since 1982

WASHINGTON (AP) – Prices paid by U.S. consumers jumped 7% in December from a year earlier, the highest inflation rate since 1982, and the latest evidence that rising costs for food, gas, rent and other necessities are heightening the financial pressures on America’s households. Inflation has spiked during the recovery from the pandemic recession as Americans have ramped up spending…

Home COVID Tests To Be Covered by Insurers Starting Saturday

(AP Photo/David Dermer, File) WASHINGTON (AP) – Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover up to eight home COVID-19 tests per month for those on their plans. The Biden administration announced the change Monday as it looks to lower costs and makes testing for the virus more convenient amid rising frustrations. Under the new policy, first detailed…

Minnesota Sees Declining COVID-19 Intensive Care Rate

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota health officials looking for a silver lining in the spread of the coronavirus omicron variant say they hope it can be found in declining intensive care hospitalizations for COVID-19. That number fell from 374 in mid-December to 255 on Friday. The decline temporarily eases pressure on hospitals as they brace for the wave of omicron infections. Despite…

Man Who Bought Gun for Kyle Rittenhouse Pleads No Contest

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The man who bought an AR-15-style rifle for Kyle Rittenhouse has pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison. A Wisconsin judge accepted Dominick Black’s plea on Monday. Prosecutors dropped two felony counts of intent to deliver a dangerous weapon to…

Tax Season Begins Two Weeks Early Due to Virus, IRS Funding

WASHINGTON (AP) — This year’s tax filing season will begin on Jan. 24, 17 days earlier than last year, the Internal Revenue Service announced Monday. The IRS is warning that a resurgence of COVID-19 infections on top of less funding authorization from Congress than the Biden administration had requested could make this filing season particularly challenging. “The pandemic continues to…

Minnesota Virus Positivity Rate Reaches 15.6% In New Record

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s COVID-19 positivity rate over the past seven days reached 15.6% on Friday, emphasizing the rapid spread of the omicron variant across the state. State health officials have said they expect a new surge of case growth for at least the next month. The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota’s previous positivity rate record came early in the…

Parents in Michigan School Shooting Lose Bid To Reduce Bail

(Oakland County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File) DETROIT (AP) — A judge has denied a request to lower a $500,000 bail set for two parents who are charged with their son in a fatal Michigan school shooting. Judge Julie Nicholson said James and Jennifer Crumbley failed to turn themselves in when they were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Dec. 3…

Hospitalizations Skyrocket in Kids Too Young for COVID Shots

(AP Photo/Steven Senne) (AP) – Hospitalizations in U.S. children under age 5 with COVID have soared dramatically to unprecedented levels, a worrisome trend in youngsters too young to be vaccinated. That’s according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Friday. Since early December, as the highly contagious omicron variant has spread furiously around the country, the hospitalization rate…