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St. Paul’s Sunisa Lee wins Olympic women’s gymnastics all-around gold

Plus: most of Minnesota placed under air quality alert; St. Paul City Council approves more than $5 million in spending from city’s ARP money; drought exacerbates concerns about construction of Line 3; and more.

Sunisa Lee
Sunisa Lee, shown during a floor exercise, won the Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games.
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

In the New York Times, Juliet Macur writes: Sunisa Lee, an American gymnast who spent a lifetime aspiring to finish second to Simone Biles in the all-around because that was the best anyone could do, exceeded those expectations on Thursday night, winning the Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Games. With Biles out of the event after withdrawing from it because of mental health concerns, Lee took advantage of the opening left behind by the gymnast considered to be the best of all time. Lee, who is 18 and from St. Paul, Minn., hit routine after routine, often as if she were at practice, not at the most important competition of her life.

Nick Woltman writes in the Pioneer Press: “Smoke from Canadian wildfires will cause air quality to dip in most of Minnesota over the next couple of days, according to state officials. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency placed nearly the entire state under an air quality alert from 10 p.m. Wednesday through 3 p.m. Friday, warning residents to avoid unnecessary outdoor physical exertion and local sources of pollution, such as busy roads and wood fires. Air quality in the Twin Cities is expected to drop from moderate overnight Wednesday to levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups — including people with respiratory conditions, children and the elderly — on Thursday, the MPCA said.”

KSTP-TV’s Kyle Brown writes: The man suspected of being behind the wheel during a drunken-driving crash that killed two young men last weekend in Orono has turned himself in, police confirmed Wednesday. According to the Orono Police Department, 51-year-old James Blue turned himself in Wednesday afternoon and was booked into Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide Wednesday night. He was then released from custody pending formal charges.

Also in the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved more than $5 million in spending on public priorities, from restriped crosswalks to police overtime for added patrols. The funding, representing about 3 percent of the city’s $167 million promised allotment of federal American Rescue Plan dollars, will mostly fill in gaps for public services that have faced backlogs over the past year of the pandemic or were altogether put on hold. It’s the remaining $161 million or so that will pose a more politically dicey challenge.”

Says Jennifer Bjorhus for the Star Tribune, “Severe drought is exacerbating concerns about the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, with the project moving millions of gallons of water even as river and lake levels sink. DFL lawmakers are now asking state pollution regulators to halt all drilling along the pipeline route until the drought ends and the region’s numerous wetlands and rivers recover and can better dilute and flush any chemicals and sediment from the work. They also don’t want drilling to resume until the state has investigated nine drilling mud spills along the construction route this summer, according to a July 27 letter to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Peter Tester signed by 32 DFL lawmakers.”

A KSTP-TV story says, “As 14 Minnesota counties face severe drought conditions and are under a primary agricultural disaster designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order that waives trucking regulations to support state livestock producers who are facing a significant decrease in the availability of hay and other forage. … Severe drought conditions across the state have resulted in a decrease of about 10,000 acres of harvestable hay, requiring farmers and livestock producers to travel farther distances to obtain hay and forage needed to feed their livestock.”

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A WCCO-TV story says, “A Maple Grove man pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraudulently applying for $9.6 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. According to court documents, Aditya Raj Sharma, 47, was the founder, CEO, and president of Crosscode Inc., a software development company located in Maple Grove. In November 2019, Sharma was removed as an officer and terminated from the company by Crosscode’s board of directors. Between May 2020 and July 2020, Sharma created three separate technology companies, Kloudgaze Inc., Neoforma LLC, and Mokume LLC.”

At Politico, Andy Blatchford writes, “An intensifying labor dispute is threatening to snarl Justin Trudeau’s plans to reopen the Canadian border to vaccinated Americans. Unions representing 8,500 staffers with the Canada Border Services Agency have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ in favor of strike actions that could begin as soon as next week, their leaders announced Tuesday. … The timing of the potential strike could complicate Canada’s reopening plan before it’s due to get going three days later.”

Dana Thiede of KARE 11 reports: “The family of a Twin Cities boy who was severely injured when he was thrown off a balcony at Mall of America has filed a lawsuit against the mall asking for unspecified damages. Documents filed in Hennepin County District Court spell out the accusations against the mall and its holding companies in the case of a Woodbury boy known only as ‘Landen,’ who was just 5 years old when he was approached by a stranger on April 12, 2019, then picked up and thrown over a third floor railing to the tile floor below. The lawsuit accuses the mall and its security force of failing to protect Landen against Emmanuel Aranda, who pleaded guilty in the attack and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. Documents describe a ‘duty to protect the mall’s guests against reasonably foreseeable criminal activity.’”

Deana Weniger writes in the Pioneer Press: “A would-be cat burglar needed police help Monday to get out of a locked building in St. Paul, according to a criminal complaint. Lao Thao, 20, of St. Paul was charged Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court with third-degree burglary. Around 8:30 p.m. police responded to an industrial business at 292 Walnut Street. A 911 caller reported seeing a man with a black backpack climb up the wall and enter the building through a window on the roof. Officers could see Thao through a glass door on the Walnut Street side of the building. He said he was locked in the building and could not get out, the complaint said.”

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