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Temporary protected status extended for Somalis in the U.S.

Plus: Minnesota adds jobs; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplays connection to woman accused of being a Russian operative; former PiPress newsroom leader Doug Hennes dies; X Games kick off; and more.

The GleanMPR’s Dan Kraker writes: “Hundreds of Somali people living in Minnesota received welcome news Thursday afternoon when the Trump administration announced it’s extending a special immigration status designed to help people fleeing violence and natural disaster in their home countries. The decision over what’s called Temporary Protection Status affects about 500 Somalis in the U.S., many of whom live in Minnesota, home to one of the largest Somali-American communities in the country. Some of those people have lived in the U.S. for decades. Many have children, spouses and other family members who are citizens or legal residents.”

Wait, another flag-waving vet charity that isn’t on the up-and-up? Says Kelly Smith for the Star Tribune,Minnesota and five other states are permanently banning a Florida charity that officials say violated promises by steering donations to its president and for-profit marketers instead of to wounded and disabled military veterans. Attorney General Lori Swanson announced Thursday that she got a consent judgment banning Help the Vets Inc. from soliciting in Minnesota along with action from the Federal Trade Commission and attorneys general from Florida, California, Maryland, Ohio and Oregon. It’s part of a nationwide crackdown on fraudulent charities claiming to help veterans called ‘Operation Donate With Honor.’

Jobs. MPR says, “Minnesota’s unemployment rate in June held steady at a seasonally adjusted 3.1 percent as the state added 6,600 jobs, state officials said Thursday. Minnesota has nearly 3 million jobs total now, the most in state history. Job gains in recent months have been strong, although the state’s 12-month job growth lagged the nation, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reported. Minnesota gained 17,300 jobs over the past two months, the state’s strongest growth spurt in more than a year, DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy said in a statement.”

Sooooo sloooow. In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rick Barrett breaks it to cheeseheads: “Wisconsin and Milwaukee ranked in the bottom half of states and cities for mobile-phone internet speeds, while our neighbors to the north — Minnesota and Minneapolis — topped the list, according to a new national report. … In the latest rankings of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Minnesota was ranked No. 1 for mobile-device internet …Wisconsin ranked 36th with an average download speed of 23.56 mbps, nearly tied with Kentucky and Nevada.”

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About that Russian with a rifle. Speaking of Wisconsin, there’s this from Scott Bauer at the AP: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplayed his interaction with a woman accused of being a Russian operative who used sex and deception to forge connections, saying Wednesday that they only met one time in 2015 when she showed up at a National Rifle Association convention and had her picture taken with him. … U.S. prosecutors suggest Butina used her gun-lobbying efforts to infiltrate the NRA and the Republican Party, both during the 2016 presidential campaign and after Donald Trump’s election. … Walker said Wednesday that he didn’t remember meeting Butina until after the pictures resurfaced this week following her indictment.” 

RIP. In the PiPress, Josh Verges reports, “Doug Hennes, a former newsroom leader and the public face of the University of St. Thomas, died at his Mendota Heights home early Thursday morning. He was 63. … [St. Thomas President Julie] Sullivan said his death came without warning.… Hennes served six years on the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors and was the organization’s 2017 volunteer of the year.”

The Midwest is killing the Gulf. MPR’s Cody Nelson says, “At the bottom of the Mississippi River’s journey from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico lies the world’s largest dead zone. This particular dead zone at the Mississippi’s mouth is a swath of ocean as big as New Jersey that’s choked for oxygen. There, native plants die. Marine animals move away, or die. The dead zone most directly harms people and industry along the Gulf Coast, but states to the north had the biggest hand in causing it. Mississippi River valley states have poured millions of dollars into restoring water and soil health in the river valley. The dead zone has only gotten bigger. Scientists know what it’ll take to fix the dead zone. But the best solutions are unattainable under the status quo.”

X Games kick off. The Strib’s Andrew Krammer writes: “Raindrops ceased just before 6:30 p.m. The show would go on for Twiggy. About 50 people circled a knee-high, heated pool. Fingers unlocked phones and switched cameras to video mode. The anticipation mounted. Not every day does a water-skiing squirrel showcase its talents under a lifejacket. That’s how the X Games officially kicked off Thursday night in the plaza in front of U.S. Bank Stadium.”