5 things to know today: Supreme Court, Big tech, Higher ed, Beaver count, Lingering loon
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Supreme Court ruling could make Minnesota an outlier on abortion access
Minnesota abortion providers are preparing for an influx of out-of-state patients in the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that could trigger state laws that limit services around the region.
The high court last week heard arguments in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. — a case that could redefine the right to abortion in large swaths of the country and block abortion access in several states in the Midwest.
And the court appeared ready to uphold Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of a medical emergency or severe fetal abnormality.
2. Recent school threats highlight importance of speedy responses from Big Tech for area police
Requests for information from big tech companies, like one made earlier this week following threats of violence against a West Fargo school, are a staple of local police investigations.
How helpful the information is and the timeliness of its delivery can be all over the board, and police departments say it’s sometimes not happening quickly enough.
Capt. Chris Helmick, with the Fargo Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, said it can be a complicated process.
“We’re sometimes at the mercy of these companies that are holding the data,” Helmick said.
3. North Dakota ban on critical race theory for K-12 concerns higher ed professors
Some professors fear North Dakota legislation that bans critical race theory in public K-12 schools could open the door to a similar bill for higher education, but legislators and one dean said that’s not likely to happen.
House Bill 1508, which Gov. Doug Burgum signed into law last month, has raised concerns at North Dakota State University. NDSU English professor Anastassiya Andrianova inquired during a Faculty Senate meeting about the possibility of the new law being expanded to higher education in the future. If so, it could “adversely affect academic freedom,” she said.
“It seems to me that the kind of legislation that is being proposed and actually signed into law, like the recent anti-CRT bill and also Senate Bill 2030 that just passed in the recent biennium, it's inching toward the sort of imposition of outside views upon what can and cannot be researched and what can and cannot be taught,” she told The Forum.
4. Beaver count feared low in South Dakota's Black Hills
The situation for beavers in the Black Hills has been better, state officials say.
Mike Klosowski, a regional supervisor with Game, Fish and Parks, told the monthly meeting of the GFP Commission on Thursday, Dec. 9 that a $30,000 helicopter survey of the Black Hills, scouring for signs of beavers, might aid the state in finding out just how many beavers are still residing in the region.
Calls for beaver removals by landowners in the Hills suggest not many anymore.
"Anecdotally ... it was an overwhelming opinion [of GFP staff] that they are seeing less beaver activity," said Klosowski. He stopped short of identifying the main reason for the decline, but cited loss of habitat as one potential culprit. "A lot of different things can play into that."
5. Trapped loon on northern Minnesota lake capturing worldwide attention
Loon lovers from around the world are cheering for “Gilligan,” a young loon who is still swimming in open water on the Crow Wing chain of lakes, near Nevis, Minnesota, weeks after the other loons migrated to spend the winter in warm waters down south.
This plucky bird has captured the attention of people who are hoping for a happy ending to his story.
Debbie Center has been coordinating efforts to rescue the stranded loon after receiving a Facebook message from a friend on a lake in the Crow Wing chain in late November about the loon’s plight.