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State’s First Frac Sand Hearing Proves, Well, Fractious

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By Sally Jo Sorensen, Bluestem Prairie
UpTake Contributor

Southeastern Minnesota’s bluff country from Red Wing to the Iowa border and the Minnesota River valley from the Metro to Mankato have been strangers to the sort of divisions with which mining politics have cursed Northeastern Minnesota. Until now, anyway. Tuesday’s joint Legislative committee hearing on the problems of frac sand mining has ended that blessing. (A video replay of the meeting — the first Legislative hearing on the issue — is above). Testimony revealed deep fractures between — on one side — grassroots citizens, conservation organizations and local governments seeking regulatory relief and — on the other — representatives from the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council, a trucking company owner, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the powerful “49ers” or International Union of Operating Engineers. Continue Reading →

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No Felony In Williams Inquest, But Jury To Decide If Cops Should Face Lesser Charge

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A Wisconsin prosecutor conducting an inquest into the controversial 2011 death of Derek Williams while in the custody of Milwaukee police has ruled out the possibility of homicide charges against police. But three officers still face a potential charge of failing to render aid to Williams while he was gasping for breath and begging for help. Continue Reading →

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Inquest into Death of Milwaukee Man in Police Car Resumes After Week of Clashes

Shawnda Shumpert, Derek Williams' aunt, and Grace Kelly, the mother of Williams' girlfriend, recoil as video of Williams' death in the back seat of a Milwaukee police car is shown at the inquest into his death.  (Photo by Rick Wood, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The inquest into the death of Derek Williams while in the custody of Milwaukee police resumes today after a week when seven police officers refused to testify and conflicting testimony was taken from medical professionals, family members and eyewitnesses. The inquest into the 2011 death of the 22-year-old father of three, who collapsed and died in the back of a police car, is expected to conclude after a day or two of additional testimony. But whether the inquest will answer the concerns of his family and community activists who believe Williams was the victim of police misconduct, remains as unclear as ever.  

The inquest was called after a Milwaukee County Medical Examiner changed the classification of Williams’ death from natural causes to homicide, sparking months of protests in Milwaukee against police misconduct that family and community members believe was the cause of Williams’ death. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Gun Fight: Can Minnesota Have a Fair Gun Debate at Gunpoint?

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What if they gave a debate about guns in society and there were no guns in the room?

Minnesota may never know what that would look like.

Last week’s series of hearings in the Minnesota State Capitol on legislation to reduce gun violence had an unintended and unforeseen outcome: Guns in society wasn’t the most pressing issue. Guns in the Capitol was. Continue Reading →

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Half Native, Half Asian: All Service to the People…An UpTake Profile: DANIEL YANG

Click on the Image of Daniel Yang to Hear More About His Story

Daniel Yang is part of a new cohort of young leaders in the Native American community in South Minneapolis, a half-Native, half-Asian grassroots activist with a passion for public service and a special compassion for refugees. The experience of being lost, exiled and afraid is one his family knows well: Yang’s father was a Hmong refugee who, along with his Ojibwe mother, instilled a commitment to social justice and community service in his son. Continue Reading →

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Hundreds Oppose Bill Weakening Wisconsin Mining Regulations

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The fight against a proposed weakening of Wisconsin mining regulations that would facilitate the construction of a giant open-pit mine in Ashland County continued this week with hundreds of Wisconsin residents, including many representing Native American tribes, traveling to Madison to testify against the bill at a legislative hearing.
Continue Reading →

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