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Violent crime up in Hennepin County in 2015

Plus: accused ISIS recruits to try “combatant immunity” defense; farmers air buffer concerns; Old Country Buffets closing; and more.

Hopefully just a blip and not a trend. KSTP’s Jennie Lissarrague reports, “New numbers released Friday show that violent crime in Hennepin County increased in 2015. … The numbers were released by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and show that violent crime in the county rose 8 percent last year compared to 2014. Property crimes in the county, on the other hand, were down 6 percent. … According to the numbers, homicide was up 48 percent, with 62 homicides reported in 2015 and 42 reported in 2014. Rape was also up 16 percent, and aggravated assault was up 13 percent.”

Possible downside to that “war on terror” rhetoric. MPR’s Riham Feshir reports on a possible defense for the Minnesotans accused of trying to join ISIS: “Four of five men awaiting trial for allegedly trying to join ISIS have argued to dismiss conspiracy murder charges under ‘combatant immunity’ laws. … Attorneys for Hamza Ahmed, Adnan Farah, Guled Omar and Abdurahman Daud, are asking a federal judge to drop conspiracy to murder outside of the United States charges.… Combatant status grants immunity from prosecution to armed forces of ‘belligerents in an armed conflict’ at least until or unless they ‘actually engage in unlawful combat.’ ”

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Farmers have concerns about buffers. The West Central Tribune’s Tom Cherveny writes, “Renville County farmers took aim at Minnesota’s new buffer law in a listening session hosted by Republican legislators Thursday in Olivia, although the lawmakers also heard from those who felt the law addresses water quality problems in the region. … Farmers cited a wide range of concerns. Jim Zenk, of Olivia, said he believes a five-foot buffer would achieve the same water quality benefits, and asked if the 16½-foot width was really aimed at providing wildlife habitat. ‘Is this what it’s really about?’ he asked.”

Fine dining really is dead. The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow has the latest closing: “The Twin Cities has just three Old Country Buffet restaurants left after its parent company abruptly shut down seven locations Thursday part of a national restructuring that closed a total of 74 restaurants. … The shuttered restaurants in the metro area include Richfield, Fridley, Crystal, Roseville, Maplewood, West St. Paul and Woodbury, according to a spokeswoman for Ovation Brands. … Restaurants in Maple Grove, Coon Rapids and Burnsville will remain open.”

In other news…

That seems like a lot of meth: “Dilworth police arrest man with 3 gallons of liquid meth” [Inforum]

How Minneapolis changed Super Bowl halftime shows forever (by being terrible) [City Pages]

Probably not a good idea to let visitors slide down the fire pole: “Woman touring St. Paul fire station injured sliding down pole” [Pioneer Press]

Coming soon: fish fry season. [Pioneer Press]

The U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship is taking place in Wisconsin this weekend. [AP]

Happy 95th birthday to the State Theatre! [Facebook]