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A rare bias-enhanced charge for attempted salsa assault in Waite Park

Duluth businesses work on enhanced security ahead of Bentleyville; Minneapolis council bars protesters from blocking Planned Parenthood driveways; a St. Paul schools marketing blitz; and more.

At MPR News, Kirsti Marohn says a recent incident in Waite Park sparked a bias-enhanced charge, though “Minnesota doesn’t have a specific hate crime law. But it does allow prosecutors to pursue harsher penalties for certain crimes committed because of the victim’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Reports of hate crimes have been on the rise in Minnesota and across the U.S. But advocacy groups say the actual number is likely much higher, and want action to address obstacles to reporting and prosecuting hate crimes. In 2016, the Legislature passed an increased penalty for felony assault motivated by bias. However, as of Oct. 21, the enhanced charge had been filed fewer than two dozen times statewide, according to data from the Minnesota court system.”

For valleynewslive.com Kortney Lockey writes, “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Thursday that his office has obtained a settlement, requiring a California student-loan debt-relief company to provide refunds to its Minnesota customers and cease operating. This after the company collected fees from customers and misrepresented its services. Express Enrollment, LLC, doing business as SLFD Processing — a company based in Santa Ana, California — is alleged to have falsely promised consumers student-loan forgiveness, when only the federal government can forgive federal student loans. In reality, the attorney general alleges that all the company did was enroll consumers in federal repayment programs that consumers can enroll themselves in for free, then pocketed exorbitant fees for doing so.”

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A WDIO-TV story from up in Duluth says, “Ahead of the opening of Bentleyville, the light display and Downtown Computer are working together to improve security ahead of the launch. Last tear the computer sales and service center helped install a campus-wide CC-TV that can be accessed remotely. And this year they’re doing a lot of the same thing but a lot more of it.”

A KSTP-TV story says, “The Minneapolis City Council had a busy Thursday morning, as council members approved an ordinance to make it illegal to block the driveways to reproductive healthcare facilities in the city, covering the Planned Parenthood clinic in Uptown. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed the ordinance after the full council approved it Thursday morning.”

At the PiPress Josh Verges writes, “The first in a series of billboards went up Thursday as part of a two-year, $300,000 campaign to urge more families to enroll in St. Paul Public Schools. The state’s second-largest district has been steadily losing students for the last decade, largely due to competition from charter schools, as well as increased homeschooling and students picking private schools or neighboring districts through open enrollment. In just the last five years, the share of the city’s school-age children enrolled in district schools dropped to 61 percent from 66 percent, according to district research.”

For The New York Times, Ben Sisario and Madison Malone Kircher report, “Ticketmaster has canceled its planned public sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest tour after a whirlwind few days that demonstrated not only Swift’s extraordinary fan following but the limitations of music’s dominant ticketing system. ‘Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand,’ Ticketmaster announced on Thursday, ‘tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled.’”

Stribber Sharyn Jackson says, “In one of the more unusual BOGO pairings at Twin Cities restaurants, Uptown Minneapolis’ oldest bar ran a special where you’d get a free spaghetti dinner — served in a liter glass — with the purchase of a draft beer. That special comes to an end with the closure of Williams Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar, which posted a sign on its door, at 2911 Hennepin Av. in Minneapolis: ‘Sadly, we must say Goodbye. Williams is permanently closed.’ Racket MN first reported the closure.”