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NEW YORK (AP) — When he was first told in 2008 about Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme, attorney David Sheehan had a response that now sounds inconceivable. "Who," he wondered, "is Bernie Madoff?" Four years after Madoff's arrest, Sheehan would end up earning the equivalent of a doctorate on the disgraced financier.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is pressing for public support Monday to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, a day after he and House Speaker John Boehner met one-on-one for the first time to discuss ways to avert the "fiscal cliff." Neither side provided details of the weekend meeting at the White House. But with just three weeks until a flurry of tax hikes and spending cuts start taking effect, the mere fact that the meeting happened was seen as progress.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A slow-moving storm has dumped snow on parts of the Midwest, blanketing the Twin Cities, making roads treacherous or impassable, and leading to at least one fatal crash. The Twin Cities experienced at least 16 inches of snow Sunday — its heaviest snowfall in two years — leading to the cancellation of dozens of flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and caused hundreds of road accidents around the state.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When Jack Baker proposed to Michael McConnell that they join their lives together as a couple, in March 1967, McConnell accepted with a condition that was utterly radical for its time: that someday they would legally marry. Just a few years later, the U.S. Supreme Court slammed the door on the men's Minnesota lawsuit to be the first same-sex couple to legally marry in the U.S. It took another 40 years for the nation's highest court to revisit gay marriage rights, and Baker and McConnell — still together, still living in Minneapolis — are alive to see it.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress and the White House can significantly soften the initial impact of the "fiscal cliff" even if they fail to reach a compromise by Dec. 31. One thing they cannot control, however, is the financial markets' reaction, which possibly could be a panicky sell-off that triggers economic reversals worldwide. The stock market's unpredictability is perhaps the biggest wild card in the political showdown over the fiscal cliff.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has some harsh words for rural America: It's "becoming less and less relevant," he says. A month after an election that Democrats won even as rural parts of the country voted overwhelmingly Republican, the former Democratic governor of Iowa told farm belt leaders this past week that he's frustrated with their internecine squabbles and says they need to be more strategic in picking their political fights.
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Republicans are admitting to a 2012 "thumping" in an election in which they say they lost a messaging battle with Democrats. But party leaders who met Saturday in Blaine say they're ready to look ahead to 2014. Last month Republicans surrendered control of both chambers of the Legislature and lost many competitive races. They say an all-Democratic state government will help galvanize the Republican party ahead of a high-stakes election year two years from now.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The scam artist who inspired the movie and Broadway musical "Catch Me If You Can" will be in Minneapolis next week. Frank Abagnale Jr. will do a question-and-answer session after the show's opening night Tuesday at the downtown Orpheum Theatre. Abagnale posed as a doctor, lawyer and jet pilot — all before age 21. Leonardo DiCaprio played Abagnale in the hit film directed by Steven Spielberg. The musical's national tour runs Dec. 11-16 at the Orpheum. Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton says he plans to include same-sex domestic partner benefits in Minnesota's state employee contracts. Dayton, a gay-rights supporter, told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday that he will put the benefits on the table in contract negotiations due to start in a few months. Minnesota briefly offered health benefits to employees' domestic partners under Gov. Jesse Ventura, an independent. Republicans refused to ratify the deals, and GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty then negotiated contracts without the benefits.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A legislative auditor's report faults the Minnesota Department of Health for not closely monitoring a nonprofit's spending of public grant money. The case involves the Sierra Young Family Institute. The health department paid the St. Paul nonprofit $328,000 in state and federal funds over two years to reduce unplanned pregnancies among young African-American girls and women in Minnesota. Health department staff asked the legislative auditor to investigate, after noticing inconsistences in the group's reporting this summer.