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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota lawmakers discussing state IOUs to public schools are hearing from education groups that the catch-up payments shouldn't be the priority. The House Education Finance Committee reviewed legislation Tuesday to undo school payment delays enacted to get the state through past budget shortfalls. Schools are owed about $1.1 billion.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It may sound like a West Side Story-style love story, but some dogs love big cats. Cheetahs are the fastest mammals in the world, but they also are the world's biggest scaredy-cats — so much so that they don't breed easily and are in danger of going extinct. Some zoos are introducing dogs to calm the skittish cats and bring attention to their plight. They're pairing "companion dogs" with some cheetahs to serve as playmates and to provide the cats with guidance.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — With their gyrating hips and feet that move so fast they dissolve into a blur, samba instructor Carla Campos' students are barely distinguishable from the swarms of scantily clad dancers in Rio de Janeiro's Carnival parades. What's make them different is where they come from: abroad.
DALLAS (AP) — Florists and chocolate-makers are working around the clock in the run-up to Valentine's Day. In Dallas, chocolatier Andrea Pedraza, who loves designer high heels, molded her pedestrian passion into chocolate form. Her most well-known creations are chocolate pumps done in the style of Christian Louboutin shoes. Prices for the pumps range from $30 to $55, but more if you fill the heel with more chocolates. Pedraza says men buy the chocolate pumps the most, so she keeps extras on hand for last-minute shoppers.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) — Fresh off their Grammy win for Best Children's Album, the Minneapolis-based Okee Dokee Brothers perform Tuesday at the Mall of America. The bluegrass duo of Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing won the Grammy Sunday for their album "Can You Canoe?" The childhood friends based the album on a month-long canoe trip they took down the Mississippi River. The Okee Dokee Brothers have been performing at the Mall of America since 2010.
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Defying U.N. warnings, North Korea on Tuesday conducted its third nuclear test in the remote, snowy northeast, taking a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States. North Korea said the atomic test was merely its "first response" to what it called U.S. threats, and said it will continue with unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity" if Washington maintains its hostility.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will announce in his State of the Union address that 34,000 U.S. troops will be home from Afghanistan within a year, two people familiar with his remarks said Tuesday. That's about half the U.S. forces currently serving there, and marks the next phase in the administration's plans to formally finish the war by the end of 2014.
ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (AP) — Hundreds of motorists stranded for nearly a day resumed travel on Interstate 94 in western Minnesota. Cars, buses and semis packed into the parking lot of Fleet Farm and Walmart at Alexandria Sunday when state transportation officials closed the interstate because of a snow storm. Other motorists pulled into gas stations and restaurants to wait for the interstate to reopen.
OAKDALE, Minn. (AP) — Police in Twin Cities suburb are hoping to recover additional evidence in an apparent random shooting that left a 9-year-old boy dead and his mother and another woman wounded. Oakdale police spokeswoman Michelle Stark says investigators are looking for additional spent gun casings and damage at the crime scene that spans six blocks.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says he is surprised and saddened by Pope Benedict's resignation. Archbishop John Nienstedt (NYNE'-sted) says like Catholics around the world, he was surprised to learn the 85-year-old pope plans to resign for health reasons at the end of the month. Nienstedt says in a statement Monday he is also saddened by the thought of losing Benedict's "strong leadership for the church."