March 2012 Archives

Mega Millions Results Are In...

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The winning numbers for the $640 million lottery, the largest in history, were drawn in Atlanta Friday night, and the results are in: 2-4-23-38-46 and Mega Ball 23.

Although they've yet to come forward, three winners in Illinois, Kansas, and Maryland have been determined. Over 100 million people spent around $1.5 billion on losing lottery tickets, estimated the Associated Press.

The winners have the choice to receive their money in one lump sum payment of $105.1 million, or over 26 annual payments totaling $213 million before taxes, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The Maryland winner has 182 days to claim his or her winnings. The Kansas and Illinois winners have one year, or 60 days if they choose the lump sum.

According to AP, the store in Red Bun, Ill., where the ticket was purchased, will receive $500,000 for selling the ticket. The store that sold the winning ticket in Maryland will receive $100,000 and the Kansas location will receive $10,000.

Senate Releases Bonding Bill, Disappoints Twin Cities

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The Minnesota Senate released its $496 million bonding bill Wednesday, but the way the bill distributed its funds neglected a number of Twin Cities-based projects.

According to the Star Tribune, the bill's finalized amount is a compromise between $775 million, requested by Gov. Mark Dayton, and the $280 offered by the House.

The Star Tribune also reported that the Minnesota State Colleges system requested $127 million for construction and rebuilding projects on the U campuses, but only $39 million was written into the bill.

Funding for a new, 7,000-seat stadium for the St. Paul Saints baseball team was also left out of the bill, reported the Pioneer Press. The stadium, which should cost around $54 million, would be built on the old Diamond Products building site.

Money for Nicollet Mall renovations and Central Corridor Light Rail Transit construction was also excluded.

But the bill did include $179 million for higher-education projects, and $125 million for state asset preservation; $30.5 million for flood mitigation; $35 million for roads and bridges, and even $7 million for the dolphin tank at the Minnesota Zoo.

Canada to Stop Producing Pennies

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The Canadian government announced in its budget plan Thursday that it will stop minting pennies and completely withdraw them from circulation.

This change will save taxpayers $11 million and financial institutions about $20 million. Prices will also be rounded to the nearest nickel, reported Bloomberg. It costs 1.6 cents to make a penny, 35 billion of which have been produced since 1908.

According to Time, the U.S. is headed down a similar track. The Obama Administration's most recent budget included a proposal to reduce the cost of producing pennies and nickels to help curb federal deficit. U.S. pennies currently cost 2.4 cents to make, and nickels cost 11.2 cents.

Canada will produce its last pennies in April, and will discontinue distributing them a few months later, Time said.

Civil Rights Lawyer, John Payton, Dies

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The president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and lawyer for the University of Michigan's affirmative action policy died Thursday at the age of 65, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Payton died in Johns Hopkins Hospital from a short combat with multiple myeloma, said Gay MacDougall, his wife, according to the Washington Post.

President Obama released a statement declaring Payton "a true champion of equality," and said he was saddened at the loss of his "dear friend."

Payton was born in Los Angeles, and later joined a handful of black students at Pomona College in California, where he graduated in 1973. There he helped Pomona recruit more black students and start a black studies program. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977, said the New York Times.

He spent his career challenging the Voting Rights Act, the city of Chicago, and the Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District, all on cases related to discrimination and civil rights.

In 2010, the National Law Journal named Mr. Payton to its list of "The Decade's Most Influential Lawyers."

St. Paul Teen Scores Porn Star Prom Dates

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After contacting almost 600 porn stars on Twitter, Tartan High School student Mike Stone ended up with not one, but two dates to prom, the Huffington Post reported.

The 18-year-old student now has to come up with $400 each for Megan Piper, 19, and her friend Emy Reyes, 24, to fly from Los Angeles to the Twin Cities, according to City Pages.

But Stone's high school has already prohibited the adult film stars from attending.

According to the Star Tribune, Patty Phillips, the school district's superintendent, said "her attendance would be prohibited under Tartan's standard prom procedures and would be inconsistent with two school district policies."

The visitor policy, however, disallows visits "not in the best interest of students, employees or the school district" and those that "substantially disrupt the orderly operation of school or school activities."

Stone has not received any punishment for his threat to the orderly operation of Tartan's prom, and is currently planning his own alternative "Porn Prom."

Creator of Red Bull Dies

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Chaleo Yoovidhya, the created of the Red Bull energy drink and the world's 205th richest person, died in Bangkok March 17.

Before he became worth $5 million, Yoovidhya was born to poor Chinese immigrants in northern Thailand. He went on to found T.C. Pharmaceuticals in 1962, which was what led him to develop Krathing Daeng, said the Washington Post.

Krathing Daeng, which means "red bull" in Thai, was marketed toward laborers and farmers who needed an energy boost, reported the New York Times. An Austrian salesman, Dietrich Mateschitz, tried Yoovidhya's concoction and the two eventually went into business together. Red Bull was officially mass produced in 1987.

Yoovidhya's personality, however, differed largely from those who use Red Bull as their drink-of-choice on a Friday night out. The Red Bull creator was so reclusive that according to his son, he hadn't given an interview in 30 years, reported the New York Times. Yoovidhya was so much of a recluse that media sources have had difficulty agreeing on how old he was when he died. His reported ages range from 80 to 90.

As for his family, Yoovidhya had 11 children over the course of two marriages. Yoovidhya's son Chalerm held a 2 percent stake in the Red Bull company.

KSTP Photojournalist Retires after 55 years

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After spending 55 years carrying cameras around for KSTP-TV, Brad Jacobs, 77, has finally thrown in the towel.

Jacobs had his first photo published when he was 15, and began his career with KSTP nearly seven years later, in 1957, reported the Pioneer Press.

Over his career, Jacobs covered the Six-Day War in Egypt, and interviewed characters like Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Bob Hope. Jacobs won an Emmy in 1993 for covering an explosion in St. Paul, and won a Gold Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2008.

"After 55 years of hauling a camera around, I'm ready to take a little time off," said Jacobs, whose retirement officially begins next month.

Minneapolis Publisher John Cowles Jr. Dies

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Coming from a background rich in operation of Minneapolis culture, John Cowles Jr. died Saturday at the age of 82.

Cowles spent his life as publisher and chairman of the Star Tribune, supported projects like the building of the Metrodome and Guthrie Theater, and philanthropically donated the Cowles Conservatory to the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden, reported the Star Tribune.

But before he succeeded his father as editor of the then morning Tribune and evening Star (later merged in '82) newspapers in 1961, Cowles graduated from Harvard, joined the Army, and returned to Minneapolis to cover a police beat.

According to the New York Times, Cowles' progressive liberal rein over the Star Tribune led the newspaper to produce more stories covering arts, science, and the civil rights movement.

Cowles also served on the startup board of directors for MinnPost, assisting it with integration into the Twin Cities news scene.

So who is next in line to pick up where Cowles left off?

Red Bull Ad Depicting Jesus Pulled

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An advertisement for Red Bull in which Jesus claims it is neither a miracle nor Red Bull that allows him to walk on water, but rather stepping stones barely hidden beneath the surface, has been pulled from circulation in South Africa after angering religious groups.

The commercial aired during Grey's Anatomy Monday night and elicited over 100 complaints within the following day, reported Times Live in South Africa.

According to The Associated Press, Roman Catholic bishops in South Africa urged followers of faith not to consume Red Bull, and donate money that would have been spent on the energy drinks to charity.

"It is never our intention to hurt anyone's feelings," Red Bull said in a statement responding to the situation.

"We also suggest that the marketing team and their advertising and public relations companies make a serious effort to attend sensitivity training," said Cardinal William Napier, spokesman for the South Africa Catholic Bishops Conference, according to IOL in SA. "People are more than consumers and faith-based symbols are more than marketing opportunities."

Blagojevich Gives Farewell Speech

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Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois governor, gave his final words to the press Wednesday before beginning his prison sentence.

Blagojevich's 14-year prison term begins Thursday at the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in Littleton, Colorado, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

FBI agents arrested Blagojevich, now 55, in 2008 on charges of attempting to sell President Barack Obama's former Senate seat. According to MSNBC, Blagojevich is the second consecutive Illinois governor to end up in prison.

"I'm responsible for the things I said," Blagojevich said, all the while keeping his hand on the shoulder of his wife, who silently squinted into the sunlight during his speech. "I accept that decision, as hard as it is."

He also focused on highlights of his time as governor, including being reelected and implementing a new health care program. "That made some of being governor worth while to me," he said.

Blagojevich delivered the speech outside of his home on the north side of Chicago, closely surrounded by 300 people who came to witness the live broadcast speech, Reuters reported. The crowd chanted, "Free our governor," and shouted "We love you, Rod!" as the speech came to a close.

Romney's St. Louis Speech Criticizes Obama

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GOP candidate Mitt Romney delivered a speech Tuesday, asking his audience for their support in his attempt to replace Obama as president later this year.

To the delight of his sunglasses-wearing St. Louis audience, Romney cited Obama's green energy policies, federal spending, and Obama's move toward a "European-like nation" as flaws in the current government.

"At a time like this, the president is looking around for someone to blame," Romney said. "It seems to be part of his nature. He's out of ideas, he's out of excuses, and in 2012 we're gonna get him out of office."

The confident presidential-hopeful made no mention of his fellow GOP candidates, who Romney has safely left in the dust, according to The Associated Press.

About 400 people attended the speech in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, CBS reported.

The Missouri caucus will be held Saturday, March 17.

Strauss-Khan Speech Sparks Protests

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At least three people were arrested when over 100 angry protesters greeted former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Khan at Cambridge University last Friday.

Police charged a 20- and 21-year-old Cambridge man and woman, respectively, with criminal damage, and also charged a 19-year-old man with obstructing a police officer. A fourth woman was arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, but will not face charges, BBC reported.

The protests, which included chants of "DSK, go away," ignited in response to a private speech on economics Strauss-Khan delivered by request of the Cambridge Union Society, the university's debate society.

Strauss-Khan, 62, has been linked to several sex scandals over the past year. Although he has not yet been convicted by any of his sexual assault and rape charges, the scandals halted his campaign for president of France and caused him to step down from his IMF position, according to CNN.

"In order for us to be a neutral forum promoting free speech, without caveats or conditions, we can't engage in any kind of judgement on people," Katie Lam, president of the Cambridge Union Society, told BBC News.

But according to some students, including Francesca Williams, 21, the controversy over DSK's appearance had nothing to do with free speech. "They're inviting a man who hates women," Williams said, according to The Associated Press. "I don't think DSK should be given the privilege of speaking in front of a private audience."

U of M President Proposes Year-Round Enrollment

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University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announced in his State of the University address last Thursday his plans to create a year-round academic schedule with the hope of making it easier for students to earn their degrees in less than four years.

The proposed trimesters would last no longer than 15 weeks, with time off in between to accommodate holidays, including the Minnesota State Fair. Elongated winter sessions would make it easier for students to complete internships and senior projects in that time, and would allow for school resources to be used year-round and more faculty to be hired.

"Faculty would still teach two semesters a year, but could have flexibility to arrange them so that two consecutive semesters could be devoted to research," Kaler said.

Kaler's audience, who filled the Coffman Memorial Union Theater nearly to its 402 person capacity, was less enthralled about the potential change.

One faculty member voiced her opinion in the Q & A session following Kaler's speech, stating that the sped up degree process might overlook just how much students learn while earning the 120 credits needed to graduate, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

According to The Minnesota Daily, students are also concerned that the new calendar would strain their financial resources, given that they could no longer devote the summer to earning next year's tuition money.

Despite Kaler's conviction and those criticizing his plan, nothing has yet been finalized.

"But all in all, in the balance, I think the benefits could outweigh the challenges, and this is an idea well worth driving forward," Kaler said.

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