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‘Prairie Home Companion’ pianist Butch Thompson dies

Plus: British pop star Darius Danesh found dead in Rochester; authorities revoke a plastic surgeon’s license over molestation allegations; Patrick Henry High School to get a new name; and more.

At MPR, Jacob Aloi says, “Butch Thompson’s spritely piano playing entertained audiences around the world and charmed fellow musicians. Thompson, the original pianist on ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ passed away this week at the age 78. … Thompson mastered music from the past and took joy in performing it for modern audiences, said jazz musician and photographer Travis Anderson. ‘When you went to a Butch Thompson show, you felt like you  were transported back to the 1920s, or even earlier. And he was, I would say proudly unapologetic about that.’ Anderson said. ‘Everyone benefits from listening to someone like Butch from listening to the ways that music was performed many, many, many years ago, because if it spoke to people then it can speak to people now.’”

Adam Uren at BringMeTheNews reports, “British pop star Darius Danesh was found dead in an apartment in Rochester, Minnesota last week A spokesperson for the singer confirmed his death at the age of 41, stating: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell Danesh. Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11 and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office. The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage while medical examinations continue.’”

For the Strib, Paul Walsh says, “State regulators have revoked the license of a Minneapolis plastic surgeon repeatedly accused over many years of molesting female clients during appointments. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice issued a statement last week noting that Christopher Kovanda is no longer licensed to practice medicine in Minnesota because of ‘conduct with a patient which is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual, or in any verbal behavior which is seductive or sexually demeaning to a patient.’ The board, which had suspended the 56-year-old doctor’s license in  March, also levied a civil penalty of $15,360 to cover the costs of the agency’s investigation and related board proceedings.”

For Joe Nelson says, “The only thing Stefon Diggs wants more than a Super Bowl ring is a funnel cake.  That’s probably not entirely accurate, but the former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver is craving some of the delicacies from the Minnesota State Fair. Hell, in Buffalo, where he’s 150 miles away from the New York State Fair, he’ll take any fair food at this point. ‘I haven’t been to a fair or carnival in so long.. [sad face emoji] I need a funnel cake,’ Diggs tweeted, adding that ‘Minnesota has the best fair in the world.'”

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At KSTP-TV Ellen Galles reminds us, “School is just a few weeks away for most Minnesota students. Among the changes they may notice this year is a law that aims to limit screen time for some of the state’s youngest learners. The law took effect July 1 and says children in publicly-funded preschools and kindergartens can’t use screens without teacher engagement. There are exceptions in certain cases. Representative Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) sponsored the bill and says the idea first came from parents and constituents. Then, COVID-19 and distance learning intensified the need. ‘Kids learn best with tactile play where they are using all their senses, and they are moving, too. Screens tend to keep us pretty stationary,’ Morrison said.”

A KARE-TV story by Devin Ramey says, “Tens of thousands of additional Minnesota school children will be eligible for free meals this upcoming year thanks to a new effort by state and federal agencies, Governor Tim Walz announced Monday. Minnesota was one of eight states selected to be part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture pilot program, and following collaboration with the Children’s Cabinet with Minnesota IT Services, Department of Human Services and Minnesota Department of Education, about 90,000 more Minnesota children will be able to get free meals at school, according to a press release from Walz’s office.”

For the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Bill Glauber writes, “To Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, the Racine County man who fraudulently sought absentee ballots to prove voter fraud exists, shouldn’t be prosecuted. Instead, Johnson said Harry Wait should be called a ‘white hat hacker’ for ‘trying to show a vulnerability’ in the system overseen by the Wisconsin Elections Commission. ‘There was no malign intent to what he did,’ Johnson told reporters Tuesday, at an event in Milwaukee focused on border security. Asked if Wait should face felony charges, Johnson said ‘I certainly wouldn’t prosecute whatever he did. I appreciate what he did. I think he did the public a service showing a vulnerability that obviously WEC isn’t concerned about,’”

Stribber Mara Klecker reports,Patrick Henry High School will be getting a new name, after the Minneapolis school board on Tuesday unanimously directed the school community to begin the name change process. The board’s school names advisory committee, which was formed in 2020, had recommended a name change for the North Side high school because Patrick Henry — an 18th-century Virginia politician and leading proponent of independence before the Revolutionary War — owned slaves. According to the resolution approved Tuesday, ‘students, staff, and community members recognize the need for a school name that better represents the values of the community.’”

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