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Drug overdose deaths in MN exceed traffic fatalities for the first time

Plus: Target opens its first liquor store in MN; students want U of M to unbundle sports tickets; solar power at MSP airport; and more.

Traffic accidents are so 2013. The Strib’s Kevin Giles says, “Overdose deaths in Minnesota from prescription painkillers and heroin have soared to a level that now exceeds deaths from motor vehicle accidents, new numbers from the state Department of Health show. … In 2013, the Health Department reported, 507 Minnesotans died of all types of drug overdoses including 329 in the 11-county metro area. Deaths from prescribed pain relievers — and illegal heroin, a close cousin in the opiate family — accounted for many of them. By comparison, 374 Minnesotans died in motor vehicle accidents.”  

Meanwhile, the “guests” may imbibe. The Strib’s John Ewoldt breaks the news that, “Target Corp. announced in June it would soon open its first liquor shop in Minnesota in more than 40 years. And it opened the store quietly on Wednesday. For much of the afternoon, more employees than customers gathered around the cash terminals.” The store is in Otsego.

The FBI doesn’t take kindly to liars. The AP’s Amy Forliti writes, “A man who allegedly contacted a terror suspect who’s wanted in Minnesota for his ties to al-Shabab has been charged with lying to the FBI. Mahdi Hussein Furreh is indicted in federal court in Minnesota on one count of making a false statement. According to the indictment, Furreh lied to the FBI in January when he denied knowing anyone by the name of ‘Adaway.’ Authorities say that in fact, Furreh knew Adaway was a nickname for Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax.”

U of M kids want the big school to unbundle sports tickets. MPR’s Alex Friedrich reports, “A University of Minnesota student leader wants Gopher Athletics to end its new policy of forcing students to buy football season passes to get season tickets to other sports. Student senator Kyle Kroll has drafted a resolution passed today by the Student Senate that asks the administration to quit bundling the tickets.”

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On the endorsement watch … . Patrick Condon in the Strib says, “A political action committee representing Minnesota physicians endorsed Gov. Mark Dayton for re-election on Thursday.  MEDPAC is the political arm of the Minnesota Medical Association. The PAC’s board of directors, made up of physicians, decided on the endorsement.  In a news release, the group praised the incumbent Democrat for supporting the groups agenda ‘on almost every issue.’ Really? “Almost every issue?”

To be added to the long, long list: Madeleine Baran of MPR writes, “A lawsuit filed Thursday in Ramsey County claims that the late Rev. Ramon Buckley sexually assaulted a boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Robbinsdale in the late 1970s. The lawsuit, filed by attorney Patrick Noaker on behalf of an unnamed man, marks the first public allegation of sexual abuse against Buckley, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who died in 1999. It accuses the archdiocese of negligence for allegedly failing to protect the boy from Buckley and another priest, the Rev. John McGrath, who served alongside Buckley at Sacred Heart. Before his death in 1995, McGrath was accused of sexually abusing girls.”

The GleanWisconsin’s Voter ID law has generated an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. At Scotusblog Lyle Denniston says, “Arguing that one in ten voters already registered in Wisconsin may not actually get to cast their ballots this year, civil rights and citizens’ advocacy groups asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to bar a new requirement to produce a photo ID before voting. By a vote of five to five, a federal appeals court has permitted enforcement for this year’s general election, already underway with absentee voting.  The plea for the Supreme Court to step in now was filed with Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency filings from the geographic area that includes Wisconsin.  She can act on her own, or share the issue with her colleagues.” Kagan wants a response from Wisconsin by 5 p.m. next Tuesday.

More from (very) conservative Breitbart, trying to explain Al Franken to its readers. Says Charlie Spiering, “As the liberal Senator and a former television comedian, Franken exudes a wonky populist demeanor that could easily propel him forward as a national political star with a strong media presence on MSNBC and other national media. Franken’s serious policy image was carefully crafted during his first term, as he emphasized his desire to put Minnesota first and focus on the seriousness of the Senate in a handful of written profiles. Reporters on Capitol Hill largely ignore him, as he repeatedly declines their interviews once he discovers they are national media.”

Will it generate enough juice to keep the snow off it? Tom Webb of the PiPress tells us, “A huge solar-power array — described as Minnesota’s largest — will be built atop two parking ramps at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, officials said Thursday. The $25 million project was touted for its long-term energy savings. But at a celebratory announcement Thursday, advocates hoped its real impact will be to kickstart the Big Solar Projects Era in Minnesota. … The MSP project will add a 3-megawatt photovoltaic solar array atop the Blue and Red parking ramps at the airport’s main terminal. Officials said it will boost Minnesota’s total solar capacity by 20 percent.”