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Pence touts Trump trade policies on Minnesota visit

Plus: St. Paul schools staffer on leave after video surfaces with ‘racist and foul’ language; Minnesota vet files suit over denial of passport; Spirit flight to MSP returns to gate due to odor; and more.

Vice President Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence shown speaking at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action's 148th annual meeting in April.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

Mark Zdechlik reports for MPR, “Mike Pence spent part of Thursday in Minnesota, promoting the Trump administration’s trade policies and trying to build support for the president’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. … It’s ‘tricky business’ for Pence to be selling a package that includes a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, said Robert T. Kudrle, professor of international trade and investment policy at the University of Minnesota. Mexican and Canadian officials don’t like it, nor do most Republicans in Congress, Kudrle said.”

Says Brandon Stahl for the Star Tribune, “[Mark Esqueda] served about eight years in the military, obtaining high-level security clearance and fighting in combat zones. The gunfire deprived him of part of his hearing.Yet, the United States  government — or at least the State Department — doesn’t believe he’s a citizen. For the past six years Esqueda, 30, has been trying to get a passport to visit family overseas, but he has been repeatedly denied.… Esqueda, backed by the Minnesota ACLU, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking a judge to declare that he was born in this country.”

At MPR, Nina Moini reports, “The superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools is apologizing and a staff member is on administrative leave after a ‘disturbing’ video with ‘racist and foul’ language surfaced on social media. The video from Highland Park Middle School appears to show the staff member talking and referring to students with profanity and the N-word in the audio.”

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For the Mankato Free Press Kristine Goodrich says, “A driver was on her cellphone when she struck and killed a pedestrian in New Ulm in November, according to misdemeanor charges filed Wednesday. Tammy Lynn Waibel, 49, of New Ulm, was charged with reckless driving and failure to yield to a pedestrian in Brown County District Court.”

In the Star Tribune, Matt McKinney reports, “a coalition of elected officials and legal advocates want to make it the law that a student cannot be denied a diploma over a lunch debt. The story of how Valerie Castile, mother of  police shooting victim Philando Castile, paid $8,000 in honor of her son last week so seniors at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope could graduate generated national headlines. … But that isn’t a feel-good story for Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid attorney Jessica Webster, who for years has decried the practice of shaming kids over unpaid lunch bills.”

Also from MPR’s Moini: “The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra announced Thursday that the organization has to cut some programming and three staff positions after losing some corporate support. ‘The SPCO has recently been informed of significant shifts in corporate funding affecting many arts organizations in the Twin Cities, which will result in a loss of $230,000 to $300,000 in annual operating support for the SPCO next year and beyond,’ the orchestra said in a news release Thursday. The statement said the organization can’t generate enough revenue from other sources to make up for the loss.”

For Fox News, Michael Bartiromo says, “Yet another Spirit Airlines flight was forced to change plans due to an unknown odor in the cabin. Eight people were transported to local hospitals after the plane, which was preparing for takeoff from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, turned back to the gate on Wednesday morning just before 9 a.m. … The flight was bound for Minneapolis.”