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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's legislative auditor detailed Wednesday how fast-rising special education costs are hampering the ability of school districts to reach other education goals, such as reducing class sizes. An audit delivered to lawmakers urged them to find ways to ease the special education burden on school districts, whether it's supplying more state money or revising regulations the state sets beyond federal requirements.
NEW YORK (AP) — A new TV commercial features a good-looking young woman on a beach vacation lounging next to a good-looking young man. He bemoans the glare on his iPad and she fills him in on the Kindle Paperwhite's sun-friendly screen. He clicks to buy one himself and suggests they celebrate with a drink. "My husband's bringing me a drink right now," chirps she. "So is mine," smiles he as they turn and wave at their male loved ones sitting together at a tiki bar.
NEW YORK (AP) — Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on television's "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its spinoff, "Rhoda," has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. People magazine reported on its website Wednesday that the 73-year-old actress received the news on Jan. 15. Tests revealed she has leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, a rare condition that occurs when cancer cells spread into the fluid-filled membrane surrounding the brain. The report says Harper's doctors have said she has as little as three months to live.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A clear majority of the Minnesota House is backing a new plan to modestly revise the state's gun laws. Rep. Debra Hilstrom, a Brooklyn Center Democrat, unveiled on Wednesday a bill with 73 cosponsors from both parties. Her bill would tighten the state's current background check system, add to the parameters of who cannot legally own a gun and help county attorneys crack down on illegal gun owners. It won't impose universal background checks for gun purchases.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — As Minnesota legislators debate raising the state's minimum wage, Gov. Mark Dayton says he'd be comfortable with hiking the rate to $9 or $9.50 per hour. The Democratic governor said Wednesday that a minimum range in that territory is a "good target." The state's wage floor is currently $6.15 but most workers at that level qualify for the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The state last raised its minimum wage in 2005.
LUCASVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Ohio on Wednesday executed a man who fatally shot an adult bookstore security guard in 1994 at the end of a multistate crime rampage as witnesses of a second slaying victim of that rampage looked on intently. Frederick Treesh received a single powerful dose of pentobarbital and was pronounced dead at 10:37 a.m. by Donald Morgan, warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Already busy co-hosts Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan also will perform during this year's Academy of Country Music Awards. The country cut-ups are among the first round of performers announced Wednesday for the annual awards show in Las Vegas. They'll be joined by Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Hunter Hayes and The Band Perry.
NEW YORK (AP) — Thomas Mallon's novel about the scandal that brought down Richard Nixon is a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction. Published by Random House Inc., Mallon's "Watergate" was among five nominees for the $15,000 award. Three other books announced Wednesday were published by smaller presses, as judges bypassed such high-profile works of fiction as Louise Erdrich's "The Round House" and Junot Diaz's "This Is How You Lose Her."
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The two-term chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans on Wednesday became the latest from his party to support legalizing gay marriage in the state. Ryan Lyk told The Associated Press he wants people to know that not just Democrats support gay marriage. He released a statement of support in conjunction with Minnesotans United, the political group pursuing a gay marriage bill that could get a vote later this spring at the Capitol.
LONDON (AP) — Nautical sailor tops and Madonna's conical bra are coming to London next year in an exhibition of the work of fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. "The Fashion World Of Jean Paul Gaultier" will open at the Barbican Centre in April 2014.