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Christian group edges back from ‘pray away the gay’

State impact of health care law decision; State Fair feeding frenzy; possible flood-related special session; St. Croix bridge design; and more.

This will be tough news for Marcus Bachmann. The AP is saying: “The president of the country’s best-known Christian ministry dedicated to helping people repress same-sex attraction through prayer is trying to distance the group from the idea that gay people’s sexual orientation can be permanently changed or ‘cured.’ That’s a significant shift for Exodus International, the 36-year-old Orlando-based group that boasts 260 member ministries around the U.S. and world. For decades, it has offered to help conflicted Christians rid themselves of unwanted homosexual inclinations through counseling and prayer, infuriating gay rights activists in the process. This week, 600 Exodus ministers and followers are gathering for the group’s annual conference, held this year in a Minneapolis suburb. The group’s president, Alan Chambers, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the conference would highlight his efforts to dissociate the group from the controversial practice usually called ex-gay, reparative or conversion therapy.” Let me guess. They were told its no longer covered by insurance.

Kind of a safe headline. “Supreme Court decision on health care will have impact on Minnesota,” says the PiPress. Christopher Snowbeck’s story says: “The expected U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday … about the federal government’s sweeping health care law has generated at least one point of agreement among friends and foes of the controversial legislation. Both sides say the ruling will have a big impact in Minnesota. For starters, the court’s decision will affect whether about 84,000 low-income Minnesotans can continue to receive health insurance coverage through the state-federal Medicaid health insurance program. If the court strikes down the Medicaid coverage — which was expanded to adults without children as part of the 2010 health care law — policymakers in Minnesota will again have to wrestle with the question of how to provide care for the residents, many of whom have been shuffled between a series of government programs in recent years. The ruling also will address whether nearly 500,000 Minnesotans who last year lacked health insurance will be forced to buy it — or pay a penalty — beginning in 2014. The federal law, which passed in 2010, established what’s known as an ‘individual mandate’ that requires people to purchase coverage while also guaranteeing that insurers offer coverage without regard to a person’s medical status.”

Oh, come on! It’s still June! The PiPress — and other outlets — are touting this year’s new … State Fair food:

“Bacon Ice Cream — Real cooked and candied bacon in ice cream with a hint of maple flavor. At Rainbow Ice Cream, Five different locations including Carousel Park, Underwood Street north of Dan Patch Avenue, Underwood Street south of Dan Patch Avenue, Carnes Avenue at Liggett Street, and the Agriculture Horticulture Building
Beef Tongue Caramelos (Tacos) (Available Aug. 27-30) — Served with chipotle salsa, cilantro vinaigrette, sauteed onions, cabbage and jalapeno. At Sonora Grill* (new vendor) — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Breakfast Sliders — Trio of sliders (steak, Cajun sausage and ham) served with scrambled eggs, homemade garlic mayo and topped with cheese and green onions. At Ragin Cajun, Located in The Garden, on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street.” … And that’s just the “B’s.”

The GleanA bit more on the untimely death of Amanda Tatro, from Kathryn Lymn at the Minnesota Daily: “Amanda Tatro, who fought the University of Minnesota over punishment it imposed on her over Facebook posts, was found dead Tuesday morning. Her death comes less than a week after she lost the high-profile free speech case at the Minnesota Supreme Court. She was 31. … Tatro was working at a funeral home in south Minneapolis and was excited about her future career, [her husband, Joel] Rand said.
Her favorite things? ‘Me, funeral service and her animals,’  Rand said. Tatro had a central nervous system disorder, her lawyer wrote in a legal brief leading up to the case. It’s unclear whether it had to do with her death. Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, which followed Tatro’s case closely, said her perseverance in the legal battle said a lot about her. Tatro appealed a student conduct committee’s decision to punish her to a University vice president, and continued that fight until she got to Minnesota’s highest court. Her lawyer, Jordan Kushner, said she was considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court after last week’s state ruling.”

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Did you see the piece by Bloomberg News’ Ramesh Ponnuru on Mitt Romney’s VP choices? “Pawlenty and [Sen. John] Thune have been touted as potential running mates for some of the same reasons. They’re both from the upper Midwest, evangelical Christians and considered attractive. None of those is an especially good reason for putting either of them on the ticket. There are better reasons for picking Pawlenty. As a two- term governor he reined in spending and took on public-sector unions. Thune has fewer accomplishments, having no signature legislative issues. Pawlenty has a good relationship with Romney, for whom he has been tirelessly stumping. Having run for president, Pawlenty has a better sense than any of the other people on the list about what that level of politics is like. His working-class background is a modest plus, and he is a more energetic speaker than [Ohio Sen. Rob] Portman.” You don’t say? I gotta catch me some of that Portman action on YouTube.

Gov. Dayton is making more sounds about a special session to deal with flood damage up north. The AP story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton expects a special legislative session will be held soon to provide relief to flooded Minnesota communities. Dayton toured flood-damaged areas of rural northeastern Minnesota on Tuesday … Stops included Sturgeon Lake, Willow River, Rutledge, Barnum and Moose Lake. … A group of state legislative leaders is scheduled to meet with Duluth city officials, St. Louis County officials and neighboring community leaders on Wednesday. Barnum Mayor Jason Goodwin told the governor his community’s biggest problem is that no one has flood insurance.”

So … not a concrete monstrosity? Mary Divine of the PiPress reports: “The new St. Croix River bridge — the second extradosed bridge to be built in the U.S. — promises to be a destination for bridge aficionados, transportation officials said Tuesday … ‘It will be a signature bridge for the state of Minnesota,’ said Kevin Western, design director for the St. Croix River crossing project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Officials from MnDOT and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the national architectural and engineering firm HDR has been tapped to design the new bridge that will span the St. Croix River south of Stillwater. The firm, along with its partner Buckland & Taylor of Seattle, was awarded the $14.2 million contract. The extradosed design a hybrid of a concrete box girder structure and a cable-stayed structure is lower in height than a typical cable-stayed bridge, Western said.” I still say a $50 westbound toll is a good idea.

They can get the news they need from University Avenue … Another AP story says: “Alexandria television station KSAX has eliminated its local newscast in a cost-cutting move, laying off 17 employees. The station said Tuesday it will substantially reduce its operations in central Minnesota effective immediately. Viewers will continue to receive ABC network and local programming from KSAX’s sister station, Twin Cities-based KSTP-TV. But KSAX will discontinue its regularly scheduled local news cut-ins. The last newscast was Monday night. KSAX station manager Ed Smith said the decision ‘came down to economics.’ ” … As opposed to what? A fire?

Aaron Rupar at City Pages notes Minneapolis North Side Council Member Don Samuels talking to Chad Hartman on WCCO-AM about the 5-year-old boy shot while sleeping in his home, and saying, “Ninzel’s home was apparently targeted by gunmen.”

From a WCCO report:
Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels, who represents the north side, says the home where the boy was killed was apparently targeted. He told WCCO’s Chad Hartman that the shooting resulted from a dispute between a few young people, one of whom was in the home where the boy was killed.

‘There was a disagreement of some kind, some ongoing feud of some kind between two young people,’ Samuels said. ‘One of (whom) may or may not have been a resident in the home, but was at the home at the time.’ “