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December 9, 2007

Wisconsin Changing Directions of Biofuel

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports about the new generation of biofuels that Wisconsin seeks to develop to reduce carbon emissions.

Ethanol which has been praised by many as the next big alternative fuel, has considerable opponents as it doesn't eliminate a high amount of greenhouse emissions as it takes a great deal of petroleum to produce it.

Therefore Madison researchers as well as northern Wisconsin papermakers have begun to research the possibility of alternative fuels made from wood chips to switchgrass.

Interest in next-generation ethanol, known as cellulosic ethanol, is percolating because of the federal government's goal to produce 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, said Masood Akhtar, president of the nonprofit consulting firm CleanTech Partners Inc. in Middleton. The energy bill in Congress is aiming for 36 billion gallons by 2022. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

Meanwhile, laboratories at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are getting rolling on scientific research to more easily break down the sugars in cornstalks and other plants. Earlier this year, UW received a $125 million award to establish its first federal research center in nearly a century, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

Thousands Brave the Cold For Chance At Money

The Star Tribune reported that over 8,000 people waited outside for "Deal or No Deal" auditions on Saturday at Denny Hecker's Inver Grove Heights Toyota dealership.

The show gives contestants a chance of winning $1 million dollars by picking the proper briefcase.

Casting officials were on hand looking for contestants to be on the show this season or the next. Luke Conklin, casting director said that the Twin Cities and Philadelphia were their only stops for the upcoming shows.

"I'm looking for energy, fun, and someone I want to root for," Conklin said. "I could make their dreams come true right now." (Star Tribune)

One of the more creative ideas was put forth by Mike and Lynda Dupre who advocated for a couples edition of the show. They showed up for their interview dressed as an angel and a devil.

The Pioneer Press reports that over 10,000 were present to wait in line for 7 hours in order to audition for the show.

After a day of waiting in the cold, a handful of people had required medical attention as waiting outside in the cold all day and then going into warm buildings caused them to feel faint. A woman wearing high-heeled leather boots developed mild frostbite.

November 30, 2007

Minnesota Braces for First Winter Storm

The Star Tribune reports that the seasons first big winter storm is expected to hit Minneapolis on Saturday.

The storm which is currently forming in the Rocky Mountains, has the potential of delivering sleet, freezing rain and as much as 10 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect until Saturday, as the chance for precipitation is 100 percent. Poor driving conditions are also expected to be poor as winds from 10 to 25 miles per hour will cause blowing and drifting snow.

More snow is in the forecast for Tuesday as well.

KARE 11 reports that the heaviest snow could fall north of the Twin Cities in a large band from Alexandria to Duluth and up the North Shore.

November 29, 2007

Victims' lawyers denied access to collapsed bridge information

According to the Star Tribune a Hennepin County judge has decided that a Minneapolis law firm will not be given access to additional data about the bridge collapse.

Minneapolis law firm Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, sought to obtain all the information that has been collected in regards to the bridge collapse and access to where pieces of the bridge are stored, so that it could better represent bridge victims.

After hearing arguments for weeks, District Judge Herbert Lefler decided that the firms claim of the bridge information falling into the state's data practices act was not correct. The act states that "government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute ... or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic." Because the data is not public under federal law, the law firm won't have access, Lefler wrote. (Star Tribune)

The Pioneer Press reports that he Minnesota Department of Transportation maintains it cannot release that information because federal law bars it, unless the National Transportation Safety Board approves it.

November 16, 2007

New Saftey Measure At U

According to the Star Tribune the University Minnesota has started a new service to alert students of dangerous situations and school closings.

Starting today, students on the Twin Cities campus can sign up for TXT-U, a service that sends alerts to their cell phone. The university already sends alerts to email accounts and posts them on their website.

School officials realized that in today's society college students usually always have their cell phones on them. Whereas, it may take a couple a couple hours for them to check their email.

According to M:Metrics, a company that measures how mobile technology is used, more than 75 percent of people in the 18 to 24 age group use text messaging. (Star Tribune )

After the Virginia Tech incident it has become a priority for schools to alert their students of dangers.

The system and program will cost the university about $10,000 a year.

The text-messaging system will be used only on rare occasions. A gunman on campus or a bomb scare will certainly prompt a text messaging, but a crime alert about auto break-ins probably wouldn't. A tornado warning or a campus being closed for a blizzard are likely text candidates, but a thunderstorm won't be. (Star Tribune )

Metro Transit Goes Green

The Star Tribune reports that Metro Transit bought 17 new hybrid buses and paraded them through Nicollet Mall on Thursday.

The hybrids cost $557,000 each, and the ones already in Metro Transit's fleet have averaged 4.71 miles to the gallon, compared with 3.86 for a standard bus. (Star Tribune )

The federal government pays 80 percent of the cost of a new bus, with local sources paying the rest.

With the new buses Metro Transit plans to save 1,965 gallons of fuel annually for each bus. Soot and other pollutants will be lessened as well.

The hybrid buses also are more quiet than the standard bus noted Theresa Cooke, who commutes from northeast Minneapolis to downtown. (Star Tribune )

Over the next four years 150 more hybrids will be purchased.

To promote the addition of the "green" Metro Transit will give free rides on routes 17 and 18 on Monday, and a hybrid will be moving to random routes for the rest of the year offering free rides.

November 11, 2007

Smoke Free Advocates Seek More Clean Air

The Star Tribune reports that anti-smoking advocates are seeking to ban smoking where you live.

After successfully campaigning to bar smoking statewide in bars and restaurants, advocates will set out to persaude landlords to outlaw smoking in their properties.

"We're getting a lot of calls from tenants saying that they are getting second-hand smoke getting into the living unit from somewhere else in the apartment building," said Brittany McFadden, director of the Live Smoke Free campaign. "They are not letting anyone smoke in their unit but smoke is drifting in from other people's units, balconies or patios. They are getting sick from their own living space and there's not a lot they can do to protect themselves." ( Star Tribune)

While all they can do now is encourage landlords to volunteer to enforce no smoking policies, in the future the advocates may seek the route that two California cities took and actually pass ordinances that prohibit smoking in multi-tenant buildings.

Residents of Tallheim Aparments in Chaska have a smoking ban that will go into effect today. Some are relieved but others are very upset. "It's ridiculously Big Brother to go and tell me what I can and can't do in my own home," said Brian Van Sickle, 32, of Minneapolis. ( Star Tribune)

Advocates will have a lot of money at their dispersal to finance their campaign as there is $202 million from tobacco settlement funds at their disposal.

November 10, 2007

Jail Nurse Could Face Charges For Inmate Death

The Star Tribune> reports that criminal charges could be brought against a jail nurse who failed to check a diabetic inmates blood sugar which resulted in his death.

Randy Gallmeyer, 46, of St. Paul died after being taken from jail to Regions Hospital when he was found dying in his cell.

When he was authorities checked on him in his cell his blood sugar levels were about 10 times the average amount, said his parents.

An autopsy found that Gallmeyer died of ketoacidosis, a disorder in which there's not enough insulin to lower the blood sugar. The body then uses fat for energy, and this produces ketones, some of which are acids. It can cause heart irregularities, dangerously low blood pressure and ultimately, coma and death. ( Star Tribune>)

On Friday, Oct. 19 Gallmeyer was arrested by St. Paul police near Rice and Front streets for suspicion of operating an electric bike while drunk. He was then booked into jail after refusing a breath test.

Apparently after his arrest on Friday a nurse wasn't able to check his blood sugar because he was uncooperative. Then on Saturday he refused checks at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. The afternoon nurse then did not offer him checks throughout the afternoon and night, according to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

Gallmeyer's parents now intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

"He should be alive. They had everything right in their hands - his meter, his insulin, his whole schedule of what to do," said Nora Gallmeyer, of West St. Paul. "There is no excuse, no reason in God's name why my son shouldn't be alive today had they done what I told them.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else. There needs to be changes in the jail." (Pioneer Press)


November 4, 2007

Record Day for Rookie

The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson set a new NFL record for rushing yards in a single game with 296 yards.

The Vikings beat the San Diego Chargers 35-17 with three of the touchdowns belonging to Peterson.

Peterson who carried the ball 30 times, broke Jamal Lewis' four-year-old rushing record of 295 yards, with his final carry of the game. His 30 carries accounted for 47 percent of the Vikings' offensive plays. 253 yards came in the second half.

Espn.com reports that Peterson was entirely focussed on the game. "Oh, no. I was out playing ball," Peterson said. "I wasn't thinking about the record at all."

Peterson is on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie record of 1,808 yards set in 1983.

"I set my bar high, because I know anything is possible when you continue to work hard," Peterson said.

Potential Earth Saver

According to the Star Tribune a partnership of Minnesota corporations and state agencies will see if carbon dioxide can be stored underground North Dakota prairies.

The "Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership" won a federal grant last month that will supply them with $300 million to test if it can pump carbon dioxide deep into the ground. That would not only remove it from the atmosphere, but also free up inaccessible oil and gas deposits, the Star Tribune reported.

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership is launching one test that will inject 1 million tons of CO2 annually into a remnant of an ancient sea about 10,000 feet below the North Dakota prairie. Carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant near Beulah, N.D., will be compressed into a fluid and pumped into the earth where it will remain, said associate research director John Harju, "in perpetuity." (For comparison, Minnesotans produce about 115 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.) (Star Tribune)

In Minnesota a different program that emphasizes terrestrial sequestration has received funding. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the ground terrestrial sequestration would involve the transformation of farmlands to the forests, prairies and wetlands that they used to be. By doing so there would be a greater concentration of land which could retain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of the carbon-holding material in the soils of the Great Plains has been lost to plowing, according to the Star Tribune.

October 28, 2007

Skill of Drill

According to the Star Tribune the University of Minnesota dental school is opening a $9.5 million simulation clinic for students.

The clinic will allow for students in their first two years of the four-year program to work with mannequins that are outfitted with virtual-reality-based technology. This way they will be able to practice their skills on an advanced machine that will give them feedback before they actually practice on live patients.

The new clinic is a vast upgrade from the old "teeth-on-a-stick" system that lacked movable cheeks and lips.

There, the student can see how this drill work compares with an ideal cut, both in shape and in depth. And instead of having to wait to be graded by a faculty member, the students get instant feedback from the computer. (Star Tribune)

"It's the closest you can get to a real patient," Fourth-year dental student Mohit Sharda said. "And the good thing is that if you mess up, you can take the tooth out and put a new one in."

Beeps alert the students in they have done something wrong such as drilling too deep or leaning too much on the mannequin.

Dental school dean Dr. Patrick Lloyd said that some dental schools that already have simulation units in place find that students learn more quickly."They will have refined their drilling proficiency," Lloyd said, "and they can spend more time focusing on the peripheral needs of the patient and they'll have more confidence." (Star Tribune)

Possible Arctic Trek for Pawlenty

The Star Tribune reports that next spring famed explorer Will Steger will set off for an expedition to the northernmost tip of Canada and Gov. Tim Pawlenty intends to meet up with him to see first hand the impact of global warming on the arctic environment.

Steger has said that disscussions about a possible rendezvous have been occurring for months. Pawlenty said Saturday that nothing has been set in stone, but he is looking at meeting up with Steger sometime in May.

The trip could pay big dividends for both in their respected causes, Steger could gain more exposure in the media which help him in his conquest to alert the world of global warming, while a trip to the Arctic could boost Pawlenty's image at time when he has been mentioned as a potential vice president candidate.

Steger plans to leave in mid-March, leading a small international team on a 1,500-mile dogsled trip from Resolute Bay in northern Canada to Ellesmere Island, which is about 500 miles below the North Pole and is known as "The Island at the Top of the World." Star Tribune

Pawlenty has long put energy and environmental issues -- traditionally identified with liberal politicians -- at the top of his political agenda. When he took the helm of NGA this year, Pawlenty said clean energy would be his signature issue, and when the Legislature reconvenes in February, he is hoping to shepherd through a proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state 80 percent by 2050. Star Tribune

"He wants to see it firsthand," Steger said. "The governor is very willing. He's serious about this."

October 21, 2007

Packer Legend McGee Dies

The ex-Green Packers receiver, Max McGee, was clearing leaves off his roof of his house in Deephaven, when he fell off and died. He was 75.

McGee caught the first touchdown pass in Super Bowl history in 1967, a game he expected to watch from the sideline. When it was over, he had caught seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs and Green Bay — coached by the great Vince Lombardi — had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. ( Star Tribune )

McGee who only had four receptions for 91 yards in the 1966 regular season, didn't even plan on playing in the game, as spent the night before partying which violated the team curfew. He didn't even bother to bring his helmet out of the locker room.

After a player went down with an injury McGee was thrust into the game and he had to borrow a helmet.

Lombardi once showed the team a football at a meeting and said, "Gentlemen, this is a football."

"McGee said, 'Not so fast, not so fast,"' Packers historian Lee Remmel said. "That gives you an index to the kind of humor that he served up regularly." ( Star Tribune )

In addition to his wife, Denise, McGee is survived by four children and several grandchildren.

School Creates Anonymous Help Line

According to the Star Tribune Westwood Middle School created an online program that enables students to anonymously interact with adult staff members.

The idea behind "Talk About It," an online program is to allow for students to have a nonthreatening or intimidating environment where they can get advice, prevent school violence, or simply have someone to talk to.

Just this month, two cases showcase how valuable the program could be to schools. Students reported that they heard the shooter in the Oct. 10 school shooting make threats. Also, this month in Norristown, Pa. a teenager was arrested when he was reported as possessing weapons by another student.

Westwood eighth-grader Bailie Johnson, 13, helped to train her classmates to use the system. "I think they like it better that it's anonymous," she said. "... They can talk to a counselor through the Internet instead of in person, which is better because they feel they're not being judged as much." ( Star Tribune)

Principal Paula Hoff said that she has received about two alerts a day from the program, with them ranging from lunchroom and bus behavior to bullying.

School counselor Rebecca Crislip said she's heard mostly from students who are having issues around friends and school stress. "I always had a lot of students coming in, but I know there is a population that isn't comfortable coming down to the counselors' office or speaking to an adult," she said. "The goal is to help the students deal with the issue so they can go back to focusing on their learning." ( Star Tribune)

October 14, 2007

U of M recieved a Record Amount of Donations in 2007

According to the Star Tribune the University of Minnesota received more than $251 million in gifts and pledges, more than any point in the school's history.

Gifts for fiscal 2007 were up 39 percent over a year ago, when $181 million was raised. University officials were happy with the generosity, but pointed out that donations are only about 4 percent of the university's annual revenue.

"I believe the increase in philanthropy is an example of people's confidence and high expectations for the University of Minnesota and very specifically the strategic initiatives," Board of Regents chair Dr. Patricia Simmons said.(Star Tribune)

Almost half of the the university's revenue comes from state support and tuition and fees. Collectively accounting for $1.2 billion of the $2.8 billion of revenue the university generates.

A major reason for the increase was due to the estate of James Cargill, which included Dinnaken Housing LLC, a business that owns four student housing properties near the campus along with an office building. The properties are worth more than $27 million.

Several other large gifts supporting capital projects, including the TCF Bank Stadium ($19.6 million), an addition to the Weisman Art Museum ($3.4 million) and the Carlson School's Hanson Hall and undergraduate expansion ($7.5 million) contributed to the increased giving, the university said. (Star Tribune)

"Ninety-eight cents of every dollar are dedicated to a particular purpose, and many of these are deferred, long-term gifts," University President Robert Bruininks said. "It helps give you the margin of excellence, but it doesn't cover your core costs."

October 7, 2007

Minneapolis to Restrict Fake Guns

The Star Tribune reports that Friday morning, the Minneapolis City Council voted to restrict the carrying of nonlethal guns.

The 13-0 vote was influenced by the trend in which more crimes are being committed using replica firearms. It also becomes a concern for officers who have to make split-second decisions. They don't don't want to use lethal force against someone who simply has a fake gun.

According to the Pioneer Press The new ordinance bars people from carrying the fake guns in a public place, and requires they be transported the same way as real firearms - in a closed container locked in the trunk of a vehicle. However brightly colored toy guns will not be affected.

Police said they confiscated 294 such guns last year, with another 129 collected in the first half of this year. Many were BB guns, which already face some state restrictions. But others were replicas used in assaults, threats, burglaries, car thefts -- even kidnapping. The price of replicas ranges from under $20 to more than $200. (Star Tribune)

"The lines between real violence and fake violence are being blurred, not just on our TV screens, but in the streets of our city," said Don Samuels, the council member who introduced the restrictions. In the most recent case, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed a 15-year-old youth armed with a pellet gun that resembled a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun. (Pioneer Press)

Prominent Lawyer Faces Drug Charge

According to the Star Tibune a Twin Cities defense attorney who has been charged with felony drug possesion says that he was framed by his ex-wife. On Wednesday, Sam McCloud who specializes in DWI cases, was arrested after he had picked up a package at the Shakopee post office which contained 90 hydrocodone pills. Police arrested him at his law office and on Thursday he was charged in Scott County District Court with third-degree drug possesion as well as two petty misdemeanors after authorities found marijuana and a drug pipe in his home. McCloud who was released on Thursday, said that he took a drug test immediately after he was arrested to prove that he had no trace of of drugs in his body. He also said that his former wife, Kerri M. Petterson, set up the sting and had the drugs mailed to him. He said Petterson is upset that he remarried last month and gained custody of their daughter. "I don't do drugs," he said. "She is behind the whole thing." (Star Tribune) The arrest came after Petterson provided police with information. She was previously committed this past June for chemical dependency treatment as she excessively used street drugs and her prescribed hydrocodone.

September 30, 2007

Turkey Causes Havoc

The Star Tribune reports that a wild turkey has been creating problems in Blaine, Minnesota.

The turkey has been seen delighting some while frightening others near Cloverleaf Parkway since spring. "It went after elementary kids at a bus stop, and it doesn't scare away," said Police Chief Dave Johnson, whose department has fielded numerous turkey calls. (Star Tribune)

Johnson has also received a call from a police officer on his staff. The turkey had trapped the officer in his squad car and would not scare away even after the siren was turned on. The officer finally ran at the bird and scared it away.

While some are frightened others are delighted by the presence of the turkey. "He prances around and stands out here and gobbles as the cars go by," said Dorala Christensen, 73, a resident of Cloverleaf Courts apartments, near Hwy. 65 and 93rd Avenue.

Anoka County animal control has tried to capture the gobbler several times but have failed and a wildlife management firm has been brought in for help. Wild turkeys are protected by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) but they will issue permits for police to kill aggressive birds that harass people, and the state allows police to kill without a permit if a turkey is an imminent threat, said Bill Penning of the DNR.

Christensen, one of the residents, hopes this turkey survives its detractors. "He means no harm," she said. "I'd hate to see him be killed. I'd miss him." (Star Tribune)

September 23, 2007

Man Commits Fowl Crime

According to the Star Tribune, a Denver businessman could face jail time and a $5,000 fine for ripping the head off a tame duck at the Embassy Suites in St. Paul.

The 26-year-old is being held in jail on suspicion of felony animal cruelty and will appear in court Monday. The man was staying at the hotel, which has a pond with eight domestic ducks inside the lobby and atrium, according to police.

"One of the security guards watched [the man] corner one of the ducks and tear its head off from its body," said Sgt. John Wuorinen, citing the report. (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1440073.html) It occurred around 2:30 a.m. Saturday police said.

The Pioneer Press reports that Clark turned to onlookers and said: "I'm hungry. I'm gonna eat it," said Wuorinen, quoting from the report. They also identify the man as Scott D. Clark. Police believe that alcohol played a role in the incident.

Minneapolis Girl Shot in the Head

The Star Tribune http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1440080.html reports that a 12-year-old Minneapolis girl was critically wounded after being shot in the head Friday night.

According to police and Minneapolis officials the shooting occurred in the Willard-Hay neighborhood, where a shooting killed 14-year-old Charez Jones earlier this summer. "The ages of the people being shot and the ages of the shooters has gone down over the past four, five years," said City Council Member Don Samuels.

The latest shooting has people concerned that youths are turning to crime much earlier than in the past. "Among the city's 60 homicides in 2006, 11 victims were younger than 18. Eleven juveniles were charged with homicide or related offenses. Among the city's nearly 2,800 reported robberies last year, more than half were committed by people 13 to 17 years old." (http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1440080.html)

As of Saturday the girl remained in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. When her family was reached they refused to talk about her injuries or the shooting.

September 16, 2007

Drunken Driving Sting catches Thousands

According to the Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/crime/story/1422967.html 2,270 motorists were cited for driving while intoxicated during the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's "Safe and Sober" campaign which ran from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3.

More than 400 agencies across the state participated in the initiative. The state patrol lead all agencies with a total of 343 drivers who were impaired behind the wheel. Meanwhile, the Minneapolis police cited 58 drivers for drunk driving, and the St. Paul police cited 57.

The Associated Press http://www.twincities.com//ci_6896952?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.co reported that authorities statewide cited nearly 42,000 motorists for drunken driving in 2006, a record high for arrests. Also drunk driving was the cause of 166 deaths in the state last year.

Cyclist Death is ruled a Homicide

According to the Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com/crime/story/1425232.html, the police continued their investigation Saturday into the violent death of a man who had been riding his bicycle in south Minneapolis.

Mark Loesch, 41, of Minneapolis, death was ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office, after he sustained multiple blunt-force head impacts. He left his house around 10 p.m. Wednesday night and was later found barely breathing on a lawn on the 3700 block of Elliot Avenue S. -- less than 1.5 miles from his home -- about 7 a.m. Thursday. He died before paramedics arrived to the scene.

MSNBC http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20783241/ reports that Samantha Loesch called police early Thursday after she woke to find that her husband of 16 years had not returned home. About an hour after she called, a police chaplain arrived at her front door with the bad news.

Loesch was a loving husband and father of three girls and will be sorely missed. Jim Balabuszko-Reay worked with Loesch at Healthia Consulting, an information technology company in Golden Valley. He said he and other colleagues were shocked when they learned Loesch was killed. "This is a horrible nightmare," he said. "For something so random to happen, it was just a shock. He is such a sweet person."