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Hamline University adjunct sues, school walks back its statements over Prophet Muhammad image controversy

Plus: New research shows PFAS contamination widespread in freshwater fish; St. Paul working to fix defective LED street light bulbs; Duluth Mayor Emily Larson insists she lives in Duluth full time; and more.

Old Main, Hamline University, St. Paul
Old Main, Hamline University, St. Paul

In the New York Times Vimal Patel writes, “Hamline University officials made an about-face on Tuesday in its treatment of a lecturer who showed an image of the Prophet Muhammad in an art history class, walking back one of their most controversial statements — that showing the image was Islamophobic. They also said that respect for Muslim students should not have superseded academic freedom. University officials changed their stance after the lecturer, who lost her teaching job, sued the small Minnesota school for religious discrimination and defamation.

At MPR News, Sam Stroozas says, “Sen. Scott Dibble was often the sole openly gay person in the room when he started out in politics. First elected to the Minnesota House in 2000, the Minneapolis DFLer was one of just three openly LGBTQ people at the time to serve in the Legislature.  The three — including Allan Spear, one of the nation’s first openly gay lawmakers, and Karen Clark — never served together but jokingly referred to themselves as the Queer Caucus. Two decades later, the jokes are over. Twelve LGBTQ lawmakers came to St. Paul this month following historic elections. Minnesota House DFLers formed a real caucus, including the Capitol’s first transgender lawmaker and first nonbinary member.”

Stribber Jessie Van Berkel writes, “Minnesota families with children could see thousands of dollars in tax breaks and school funding would climb under a spending plan Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday. The DFL governor’s proposal is a $5.2 billion piece of his two-year budget that will be fully revealed next week. He called for historic spending on schools, including a 4% increase in the basic amount the state spends on each student, more money for special education, mental health and free breakfast and lunch for all students.”

Says Paul Huttner for MPR News, “We’re about 24 hours away from our sixth significant winter storm in seven weeks for parts of Minnesota. … The big picture involves snow breaking out across southern Minnesota Wednesday evening and pushing north into the Twin Cities region around midnight. Snow will continue overnight into Thursday morning, then taper off from west to east Thursday afternoon.”

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At BringMeTheNews Adam Uren reports, “Police are appealing to find an 18-year-old woman who has been missing since the early hours of New Year’s Day in Minneapolis. Minneapolis PD says Stephanie Denham – who may also use the last name of Smith – was last seen at 4 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, when she left her home on the 3400 block of Penn Avenue North. … Anyone with information should call 911, or send tips anonymously to CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or at www.CrimeStoppersMN.org.”

A CBSNews story says, “Eating one freshwater fish caught in a river or lake in the United States is the equivalent of drinking a month’s worth of water contaminated with toxic ‘forever chemicals,’ new research said on Tuesday. The invisible chemicals, called PFAS, were first developed in the 1940s to resist water and heat and are now used in items such as non-stick pans, textiles, fire suppression foams and food packaging. But the indestructibility of PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, means the pollutants have built up over time in the air, soil, lakes, rivers, food, drinking water and even our bodies. There have been growing calls for stricter regulation for PFAS, which have been linked to a range of serious health issues including liver damage, high cholesterol, reduced immune responses and several kinds of cancer. To find out PFAS contamination in locally caught fish, a team of researchers analyzed more than 500 samples from rivers and lakes across the United States between 2013 and 2015.”

For MPR News, Tim Nelson says, “These short days of midwinter have a lot of Minnesotans out and about in the dark — and increasingly driving and walking through pools of weird street lighting. They’re now a common sight in St. Paul, where the bulbs in scores of LED fixtures have been slowly changing hue from daylight white to stunningly blue. It’s not on purpose. The city’s public works department says it’s a ‘a manufacturer’s defect and failure of the LED bulb installed in many of the city’s ‘cobra style’ street lights.’ … The city says if you see the tell-tale blue tinge in a street light, call in the location to the city’s lighting division, at (651) 266-9777.”

Stribber Kavita Kumar says, “The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision last year to oust Brian Lipschultz as one of three trustees of Otto Bremer Trust, one of the state’s largest philanthropies. In the ruling released Tuesday morning, the Appeals Court affirmed that Lipschultz ‘engaged in a series of breaches that collectively constitute ‘a serious breach of trust’ under Minnesota law. It also concluded that his ‘repeated improprieties’ demonstrate that his removal is in the best interest of the trust and its beneficiaries.”

For KQDS-TV in Duluth Dan Hangar says, “As the Duluth mayoral race heats up, Mayor Emily Larson is squashing rumors that she and her husband, Doug, do not live in Duluth full time, but that she may actually live sometimes in Twin Cities. Below is Larson’s full post on Facebook Monday afternoon:

(can’t actually believe I need to say this but here goes…) YES I LIVE IN DULUTH:

– YES We live in the Hillside. Full time.

– YES We live in the same house where we raised our kids

– NO We do not live in the twin cities or have a second house, condo or apartment in the twin cities or anywhere else

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– YES my mom’s red pull out couch is extremely comfortable and where we generally stay when we visit the twin cities BECAUSE WE DON’T LIVE THERE

– NO Doug does not work in a Twin Cities office.”