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APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (AP) — The 20 tiny butterfly larvae being cared for by a Minnesota Zoo biologist could represent the last hope for a species that used to be ubiquitous across the state's prairies. The Poweshiek Skipperling used to flit and float above more than 2 million acres, but for reasons that aren't entirely clear they've virtually disappeared, according to a report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press ( http://bit.ly/YJiyWt ).
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Unemployment insurance benefits will expire Saturday for thousands of out-of-work Minnesotans if Congress doesn't renew a program that gives extra aid to those who have used up their six months of state unemployment checks. Hopes that the benefits would be renewed dimmed after lawmakers left Washington last week without striking a deal on the so-called fiscal cliff. Unemployment benefits have become a bargaining chip in the stalled negotiations between the White House and congressional Republicans.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Freezing rain and sleet made for a sloppy Christmas trek in parts of the nation's midsection, while residents along the Gulf Coast faced thunderstorms, high winds and tornadoes that were doing damage in some areas. Winds toppled a tree onto a pickup truck in the Houston area, killing the driver. Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, where authorities warned would-be travelers to stay home.
WEBSTER, N.Y. (AP) — An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people," police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman's missing sister, was found.
NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) — The motorcycle that Ron Miller of New Ulm is restoring is not in the greatest shape. But then again it did sit at the bottom of a lake for 56 years. A commercial fisherman recently netted the 1938 German motorcycle from Big Swan Lake in Dassel. Turns out it had been there since 1956, when 15-year Dean Allie crashed through thin ice just a days after his dad gave it to him. Even scuba divers couldn't find it.
ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — A Winona County man who was shot and wounded by an Olmsted County sheriff's deputy on Christmas Eve remains in the hospital. A La Crosse Tribune report says Winona County deputies responded Monday morning to a report of a domestic disturbance. The suspect fled, and authorities believed he was armed with a handgun. Deputies in Olmsted County found the man hiding under a camper in Dover. He allegedly charged at officers, and a deputy fired a nonlethal round from a shotgun. The suspect was injured and airlifted to a Rochester hospital.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Newtown observed Christmas amid snow-covered teddy bears, stockings, flowers and candles left in memorial to the 20 children and six educators gunned down at an elementary school just 11 days before the holiday. The outpouring of support for this community continued through Christmas Eve, with visitors arriving at town hall with offerings of cards, handmade snowflakes and sympathy.
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI wished Christmas peace to the world Tuesday, decrying the slaughter of the "defenseless" in Syria, urging Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate and encouraging China's new leaders to allow more religious freedom. Delivering the Vatican's traditional Christmas day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict also encouraged Arab spring nations, especially Egypt, to build just and respectful societies.
SANTEE, Neb. (AP) — A day after Christmas, the Dakota people in Santee, Neb., will honor the 150th anniversary of the hanging deaths of 38 Dakota Sioux Indians — the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The men were hanged Dec. 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minn., marking the end of what's now called The Dakota War of 1862.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota-based Red House Records is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special concert next year. "Women of Red House Records: A 30th Anniversary Concert" will be staged March 1 at The O'Shaughnessy at St. Paul's St. Catherine University. The concert stars three of Red House's top female artists — songwriter Lucy Kaplansky, folksinger Claudia Schmidt and singer Heather Masse of the group The Wailin' Jennys. The event is part of the "Women of Substance" series at St. Kate's and will kick off Women's History Month.