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Minnesota legislators want rules on local police use of drones

Gun dealers “answer” Rybak; heart transplants up; sometimes love hurts; cat videos to invade State Fair; snow impact mixed; minimum-wage boost backed; and more.

We really do need some basic rules for this stuff … The AP says: “A trio of Republican state senators is pushing to bar law enforcers from using remotely piloted drones in Minnesota for evidence gathering except in rare circumstances. Legislation introduced Thursday, Feb. 14, would allow people to sue if a law enforcement agency violates the restrictions and would prohibit evidence gained from a drone from being used in a criminal trial. The Minnesota bill is part of a crop of anti-drone measures. At least a dozen states are considering curbs on domestic use of the powered aerial vehicles that gained fame for use in war zones.” Will this cover the drones hovering over your neighbor sunbathing in her backyard?

Mayor Rybak is getting some blowback from local gun dealers. Says Eric Roper in the Strib: “[T]wo weeks after Mayor R.T. Rybak threatened to withhold city funds from gun manufacturers critical of the president’s gun control plan, a local dealer has a message for City Hall: ‘WE DON’T WANT YOUR BUSINESS,’ wrote Gary Shade, president of an Apple Valley custom firearms shop, in an e-mail to Rybak and the City Council on Tuesday. Shade doesn’t currently do business with Minneapolis cops, but wants to make it clear that he won’t in the future since y’our mayor believes he can bully gun manufacturers with threats of no business.’ ‘When your police run out of ammunition, or need service parts for their firearms look elsewhere,’ Shade wrote.” Love the capslocking …

Christopher Snowbeck’s Valentines Day piece for the PiPress is on … heart transplants. He writes: “During 2012, the state’s three heart transplant centers performed 80 transplants, up from 65 transplants in 2011, according to information released Thursday, Feb. 14, by LifeSource, the St. Paul-based group that coordinates organ donations in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. The increase comes in part because of an increase in donations, said Susan Gunderson, the chief executive officer at LifeSource. Transplant centers in Minnesota also treated a relatively sick group of patients during 2012, Gunderson said, so there was an increase in hearts donated from outside the region being used by patients in Minnesota.”

But love … it ain’t always such a beautiful thing. Thanks to Mike McFeely of KFGO for this one: Emily Walker of the Forum papers reports: “A stabbing reported by a naked man who called 911 from an alley in north Fargo early Friday was a case of a ménage a trois gone wrong, police allege in court records. Ashley Hunter, 33, was charged Monday in Cass County District Court with a single count of aggravated assault after police say he stabbed Orlando DeWitt, a friend of his … . According to police reports filed with the charges: Hunter invited three women over to his home, and then the group, including DeWitt, went drinking … . After they returned home, Hunter joined DeWitt and one of the women in a sexual act, DeWitt later told police. When Hunter asked DeWitt to switch positions, he refused and the two men began arguing, DeWitt told police.”

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It’s hard to say where this ranks in terms of signs of apocalypse, but if you have a cat … Amy Gustafson of the PiPress says: “The Walker Art Center is relocating its Internet Cat Video Festival, which surprised just about everybody last year by becoming one of the hottest events of the summer, to the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
‘We think it’s a great fit,’ said Renee Pearson, deputy general manager at the State Fair. ‘It’s such a community event.’ The Walker’s inaugural Internet Cat Video Festival drew more than 10,000 people to the Minneapolis museum’s Open Field last August for an evening of feline-inspired videos.”

The GleanOn this past week’s steady series of snowfalls, Paul Huttner at MPR says: “Frozen soils mean there is no doubt that Minnesota’s “Agricultural Drought” is with us until the ground thaws this spring. Any snow or rain cannot penetrate the frosty soils and icy top layers until the melt. But our recent parade of snows is putting a dent in the ‘hydrologic drought’ in parts of Minnesota. There is now 4″ to 6″+ of water content (snow water equivalent) in the snow pack in western & northern Minnesota. Sunday’s storm dumped a month’s worth of snow & water between Alex & Fargo in west-central Minnesota. Additional storms will add to the snowpack before the big melt. All that water will run into lake & rivers and help boost levels this spring. But ironically, if we get enough additional snow … and a quick warm up with rain this spring on snowpack and frozen ground … we could be in the odd situation of having a ‘hydrologic flood’ on top of an agricultural drought.’ ”

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports on grants awarded for search projects involving the Mayo Clinic and the U of M. Among them: “An ovarian cancer project will focus on an enzyme related to many cancer-causing mutations. Researchers want to develop antibodies to the enzyme that could be used to kill tumor cells. … Drug-resistant tuberculosis will be the focus of another project. Two molecules that interfere with tuberculosis bacteria metabolism will be tested against resistant strains with a goal of eradicating tuberculosis.”

As you might assume, top DFLers are in favor of increasing the minimum wage. Rachel Stassen-Berger and Corey Mitchell of the Strib say: “Gov. Mark Dayton, House Speaker Paul Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk all say it is time for Minnesota to lift the minimum wage, which now stands at $6.15 — one of only four states with a wage less than the federal minimum. … House Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, on Wednesday promoted a bill … that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and index it to inflation. … critics say the bill could threaten a still-fragile economic recovery by making workers unaffordable.”

Interesting piece by Fox9’s Trish Van Pilsum on the experience local restaurateurs are having with Yelp. The essence of her video report is that it sure looks and walks like a gamed system favoring restaurants who buy advertising with the Internet giant. And yes, I know, you, too, are shocked that an exchange of money would have any bearing on food reviews.