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March 25, 2007

Minnesota Guardsman Killed in Iraq

The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Greg Riewer, 28, was killed in Iraq while on patrol Friday near Fallujah. Riewer died at about 5:30 p.m., Iraq time, when a roadside explosive device struck his vehicle. The blast also injured three other Minnesota members of his unit. Their names and medical conditions have not been released. Riewer graduated from Frazee High School in 1997 and enlisted shortly after.

The Pioneer Press reported that Riewer was among the 2, 600 Minnesota National Guard soldiers whose service in Iraq was extended until August. Riewer was one of 13 children. Andrew Riewer, his brother, is deployed in Iraq in the same unit of the same company. The Guard is working to get him home, but there are no guarantees.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

University of Minnesota Hires Tubby Smith

The Star Tribune reported that the University of Minnesota’s athletic department hired Tubby Smith as the new head gopher basketball coach. Smith is coming to Minnesota from his previous job at the University of Kentucky. Smith held a news conference at Williams arena to officially declare his position. DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson was there and said, "It's a slam dunk." He said, "This is a win, win, win situation for everybody in the state."

The Pioneer Press reported that Smith ended his career at Kentucky with a 263-83 record in 10 seasons. Smith will replace Dan Monson, who resigned Nov. 30 and coached the gophers through their 9-22 record this season. Smith told the Herald-Leader, "I just think it's a great opportunity for me and my family. Minnesota is a familiar name in basketball." Smith’s claims to fame before coaching at Kentucky include leading Tulsa to the Sweet 16 twice and Georgia to the Sweet 16 once.

University of Minnesota Hires Tubby Smith

The Star Tribune reported that the University of Minnesota’s athletic department hired Tubby Smith as the new head gopher basketball coach. Smith is coming to Minnesota from his previous job at the University of Kentucky. Smith held a news conference at Williams arena to officially declare his position. DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson was there and said, "It's a slam dunk." He said, "This is a win, win, win situation for everybody in the state."

The Pioneer Press reported that Smith ended his career at Kentucky with a 263-83 record in 10 seasons. Smith will replace Dan Monson, who resigned Nov. 30 and coached the gophers through their 9-22 record this season. Smith told the Herald-Leader, "I just think it's a great opportunity for me and my family. Minnesota is a familiar name in basketball." Smith’s claims to fame before coaching at Kentucky include leading Tulsa to the Sweet 16 twice and Georgia to the Sweet 16 once.

March 3, 2007

Chimps Observed Making Tools to Hunt

According to Reuters, U.S. researchers said on Thursday that chimpanzees have been seen using spears to hunt bush babies. Jill Pruetz and Paco Bertolani of Iowa State University said it was only females who fashioned and used the wooden spears. Pruetz thought it was a fluke when he saw an adolescent female chimp use a spear to stab a bush baby as it slept in a tree hollow, pull it out and eat it. But then she saw almost the same behavior over the course of 19 days almost daily. The chimps strip a branch of it's leaves and twigs, trim it down to a stable size and then chew the ends to make a point. They then use it to stab into holes where bush babies could be sleeping. Pruetz said this spear-hunting might produce more competition between males and females because it occurred when the group was foraging together.

The Star Tribune reported that the chimps live in the West African savannah and that this is the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans. The multi-step spear-making practice was documented by researchers in Senegal who spent years gaining the chimpanzees' trust. This observation supports the long-debated proposition that females tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture. This enviornment is very similar to the one in which early humans evolved and is different enough from other sites to expect differences in chimp behaviors.

UK Tourists Kidnapped in Ethiopia

According to Reuters in the New York Times, a senior Ethiopian official accused Eritrean forces of kidnapping five Britons and 13 Ethiopians and taking them to a military camp. The tourists included diplomats from the British embassy in Addis Ababa. They went missing on Thursday in a remote area of the Horn of Africa nation. To help free those who have been kidnapped, Britain has sent a six-strong team of senior Foreign Office officials to Ethiopia. The groups disappeared while visiting the northeast Afar region, considered one of the world's most hostile terrains, tour companies said.

The Associated Press reported in the Star Tribune that fifteen French and British tourists were kidnapped. The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Friday that Western tourists have been kidnapped in Ethiopia, but declined to say how many or indicate their nationalities. The tourists were in a convoy of four vehicles in Dalol and traveling to salt mines in the Afar region, a businessman and a tour operator who work in the area said. A diplomat who spoke on the condition said one of those kidnapped was Rossanna Moore, wife of Michael Moore, director of the British Council in Ethiopia.

6 Die in Bus Accident

The New York Times reported that a bus taking an Ohio college baseball team to Florida for a series of games, plunged about 30 feet off an overpass in Altanta Friday morning. Emergency officials said six people were killed and three more were critically injured. The bus, which was chartered by the team from Bluffton University, missed a turn at the end of the exit ramp and flipped over a concrete wall, crashing onto the interstate, said Officer James Polite. Twenty-nine passengers were taken to three local hospitals, said Dr. Leon. AirTran Airways and Delta Air Lines were offering flights to Atlanta for relatives of the victims at no charge.

The Star Tribune reported that investigators said the bus driver mistook the exit ramp for a lane and went into the curve at full speed. The bus began it's trip the evening before and had traveled all night long before it went off the road at about 5:30 a.m., it was dark at the time, but the weather was clear. Two vehicles under the overpass were struck by the bus, but no one in those vehicles was hurt. Classes and other sports trips that had been scheduled during next week's spring break have been canceled. A candlelight vigil was held Friday evening.

St. Paul Approves Ban on Realistic Replica Guns

According to the Star Tribune, on Wednesday, the city council unanimously approved a ban on public display of real-looking replica guns and made it a misdemeanor to do so as well. The ban was proposed by Council Member Lee Helgen in response to the recent surge of juveniles carrying airsoft guns. It was reported that no one spoke against the ordinance at the public hearing.

The Pioneer Press reported that Mayor Chris Coleman supports the ban. According to the paper the ban does not cover obvious toys such as water pistols. Real-looking guns that shoot pellets, known generally as Airsoft guns, have been cited in several officer-involved shootings where police mistook them for the real thing. They have also been used to commit crimes. Now, to make it easier for the police and others to identify the toy guns, they must be painted a bright color.

March 1, 2007

Ex-Teacher Charged as Drug Runner

According to the Pioneer Press, Kimberly Sue Bourn, 42, an Oak Park Heights prison instructor, has been charged with smuggling drugs to inmates. Authorities found two drug packages about the size of tennis balls that each weighed about a quarter-pound, according to the criminal complaint that was filed. Each package included a bag of cigarettes, rolling papers, and hard drugs all wrapped in marijuana and then wrapped again in plastic wrap. According to the complaint, one ball even contained four ecstasy pills and the other had 7.6 grams of cocaine. Bourn said she brought the drugs into the prison because an inmate threatened her if she refused to do so. Oak Park Heights investigator Brian Derosier said authorities "haven't found anything to prove or disprove" her claim.

According to the Star Tribune, on Oct. 20, Bourn was fired from her job as a postsecondary and GED teacher after an investigation. Bourn is charged with three counts of possession with intent to sell a controlled substance, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one count of introduction of contraband.