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Supreme Court vacancy becomes issue in Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race

Plus: Minnesota State High School League OKs start of football, volleyball seasons; health officials concede that Trump event ignored state requirements on attendance; additional grants to help Minneapolis businesses with cleanup costs; and more.

For the Star Tribune, Patrick Condon writes: The heated politics of the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy are spilling into Minnesota’s Senate race, with U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis pressing opposite views on an issue that could reframe the presidential election. Smith, in an interview Monday, lamented the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week and echoed Democrats across the nation … who believe the Senate should not vote on a successor picked by President Donald Trump before the election. … Lewis, a former one-term congressman and one-time radio personality, said the Senate should vote on Trump’s nominee as swiftly as possible.”

At MPR Tim Nelson and the AP report, “Minnesota high school football and volleyball are back on for the fall sports season. After an August decision to postpone those sports until the spring, the 20-member Minnesota State High School league board on Monday OK’d fall games. The Minnesota State High School League board of directors voted 15-3 to begin football and 14-4 to allow volleyball to resume.”

KSTP-TV’s Callan Gray reports: “An investigation is underway after a 23-year-old man was found unresponsive at the Hennepin County Jail. According to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, he died of an apparent suicide while alone in his cell on Sept. 11. His family identified him as Naajikhan Adonis Powell. … The sheriff’s office said deputies found him unresponsive during ‘routine inmate health and wellness checks’ around 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 11. ‘The guards said they found him … about 20 minutes later and gave CPR,’ said Sharp Akbar-Bey. ‘Why was he by himself? Why wasn’t there an escort? Why wasn’t there someone to watch him?’ State law requires deputies conduct inmate checks every 30 minutes. If an inmate is mentally ill or potentially suicidal, ‘more frequent observation’ is required.”

For The Forum papers, Paul John Scott writes, “State health officials conceded on Monday, Sept. 21, that a visit by President Donald Trump to Bemidji on Friday, Sept. 18, ignored state requirements to limit attendance to outdoor events to 250 persons, guidance that Gov. Tim Walz had outlined in a public letter early last week. Estimates placed the actual number in Bemidji to see Trump at 2,000, and there appeared to have been no formal social distancing.”

At WCCO-TV, David Schuman writes, “Minneapolis City Council member Steve Fletcher spoke to WCCO Monday about the city’s recent increase in violence. The Ward 3 representative says it’s a false narrative that the council’s desire to replace the Minneapolis Police Department is related to the crime surge and MPD’s response. Fletcher says the only defunding of the department has been a 5% budget cut that was mostly due to COVID-19. ‘The patrol numbers are just as strong as they were last year’, Fletcher said. ‘The number of 911 calls has not changed, but we are seeing changes in response that really aren’t explainable by budget cuts.’ Since Memorial Day, violent crime in Minneapolis is up 25% compared to the same period last year. The number of service calls responded to in that timeframe is down 38% from 2019.”

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At MPR, Nina Moini says, “Minneapolis city leaders hope six-figure grants to some businesses will help them with the costs of cleaning up from the civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd. City staff identified 16 properties apparently in need of the aid, most of them along Lake Street. Business owners are expected to learn this week if the city will help cover demolition payment gaps in excess of $100,000 each. … Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Monday announced an additional $7 million for clearing rubble and business development, with a portion of the pool specifically for business owners without the money to clear properties.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “Almost four months to the day after the death of George Floyd, a fund created last year to benefit the community around the Allianz Field soccer stadium in St. Paul is ready to accept applications for riot-related business relief, rebuilding and relocation. The St. Paul Midway Fund will make two forms of ‘Small Business Economic Justice grants’ available at MidwayUnited.org. … A total of more than $340,000 will be targeted to roughly 21 small businesses in need of damage relief. … Another $500,000 will serve at least 10 businesses through a ‘Rebuild and Relocation’ program.”

Says Michael Daly at The Daily Beast,The pre-eminent health care organization in a COVID-19 hotspot is sponsoring an indoor country and western concert that will not require masks and has not yet decided whether it will impose social distancing. And the nonprofit Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is presenting the Oct. 24 event in conjunction with the state’s governor, Kristi Noem. … With regard to attendance and therefore likely infections, the Chris Young concert Noem and Sanford are putting on in Sioux Falls is a relatively small affair, expected to draw about 5,000 people.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Dee DePass, “South Minneapolis now is getting its first modular apartment buildings, with the pieces placed together like a jigsaw puzzle with cranes last week. The $4 million project, dubbed ‘Mod42,’ at the corner of S. 32nd Avenue and E. 42nd Street in the Standish-Ericsson neighborhood, was largely built on an assembly line in Owatonna and then trucked to Minneapolis. Last week, workers stacked each boxy unit like a Lego toy.”

For City Pages, Hannah Jones writes, “Vitaly Vanchurin, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, uploaded a paper to arXiv over the summer that argues that our known world – the entire universe – could actually be, at its ‘most fundamental level,’ a gigantic neural network. For the uninitiated, a neural network is what gives our brains the ability to think, process new information, and learn from experience. Researchers have been studying artificial intelligence and machine learning by creating their own neural networks inspired by the real thing. It’s the stuff that’s allowing us to develop autonomous machines that can learn new stuff, much the way we do. The universe, Vanchurin hypothesizes, may actually be one of these systems writ very, very large.”