April 19, 2009

Gas leak on Pleasant Avenue not a threat

A natural gas leak near Smith Hall started on Friday and is expected to continue through the weekend.

Officials on-scene said that the leak is not an immediate safety threat because it is venting into open air, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The leak is coming from a ditch on Pleasant Avenue near the Washington Avenue bridge and was likely caused by the construction of the Science Teaching and Student Services building, multiple officials said.

Two people called the University of Minnesota Police Department Friday night to report the oder, Sgt. Ryan Rivers of the University of Minnesota Police Department said.

Officials from the Minneapolis Fire Department and CenterPoint Energy inspected the area and determined that there was no threat because the gas was venting into open air.

The gas could become a threat if it gets into nearby Smith and Kolthoff halls, the Daily reported.

There is no word if any Monday classes would be affected.

MNDaily -

"Plantimal" to star in new Weisman exhibit

Edunia, a transgenic petunia, is an important part of the new exhibit at the Weisman Art Museum.

The plant was implanted with DNA from artist Eduardo Kac, and appears in Eduardo Kac: Natural History of the Enigma exhibit at Weisman.

Kac worked with University of Minnesota plant biology professor Neil Olszewski to create the "plantimal", the Minnesota Daily reoprted.

A gene from Kac's immune system was isolated and implanted into the cells of a petunia. Red veins in Edunia are where Kac's DNA is expressed, the Daily reported.

Olszewski said that the creation has more use in an art gallery than a real-world application.

Kac has been focusing on bio-art for the last ten years, using the creation of life as a medium for his art.

Edunia and the rest of the exhibit took six years from the beginning of the project to its opening debut.

Several other aspects of the exhibit are works that were inspired by Edunia and the process of creating it.

"Singularis", a 14-foot metal and fiberglass sculpture created by Kac was also inspired by Edunia. The sculpture appears in front of the Cargill Center on the St. Paul Campus.

MNDaily -

April 12, 2009

University of Minnesota undergrad admission highest ever

The number of undergraduate applicants for fall 2009 is the highest in the history of the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Daily reported that there has been a 16 percent increase in applications to the university, which is both good and bad.

With more applicants, the university will have to turn down more applications. The jump in the percent also makes next year's freshman class size more difficult to predict.

University Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster said that the university uses a formula based on historical trends of how many people reject the university after they have been accepted to determine how many students to accept.

But because the economic crisis, students are applying to more colleges, and that makes it harder to predict acceptance rates, Director of Administrations Wayne Sigler said.

There are only 5,350 spots for students. If the freshman class is less than 5,350, the university will lose money, administrators said, which is already facing economic problems.

However, it is more likely that there will be an influx of students, which could strain the university's resources.

McMaster expects that the university will arrive close to their goal, and will have an accurate estimate of next year's freshman class around May.

This is the sixth straight year the university has broken application records.

Possible program changes for the University of Minnsota

Minnesota is one of three schools that will be considering a new way to evaluate college degrees that is common in other countries.

The program is a process of “tuning” that will put more emphasis on the skills learned rather than on the courses taken, the Minnesota Daily reports.

The program is called Tuning USA, and is an initiative from th Lumina Foundation for Education.

Minnesota will consider re-examining standards in graphic design and biology programs, both programs at the University of Minnesota.

Director of the Lumina Program Kevin Corcoran said th “tuning” can help students know what they can expect to learn before going into a program.

Corcoran also said the tuning would help employers know what skills potential employees should have after their schooling.

No decisions about making changes have been made until Lumina determines how much interest there is in the program.

According to the Luminia Foundation, the tuning is common in other countries across Europe, and at least 145 universities in European countries have tuned their programs over the last year.

April 5, 2009

Eco-friendly palms have many benefits

Churches around the country will be trying an eco-friendly approach to Palm Sunday this weekend.

According to the Minnesota Daily, the Eco-Palms program is a partnership between the University of Minnesota, private companies, churches and government agencies in Guatemala and Mexico.

Dan Current, director of the University's Center of Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management, said the eco-friendly palms reduce wastes and help benefit the communities where they are grown an harvested.

About 50 percent of non-eco-friendly palms are discarded, but by harvesting only the quality palms lowers the number down to about 10 percent, Current said.

An estimated 30 to 50 churches in the Twin Cities will be using the eco-friendly palms this year.

The eco-friendly palms only make up about 2 percent of the market.

The palms are an important to the communities where they are grown because they are a renewable resource and provide jobs for women and children.

Current hopes that the palms can also be marketed for weddings and funerals because of their benefits and aesthetic value in floral designs.

University mentored team among winners in robotic competition

A University of Minnesota mentored team was among the winners at the robotics competitions that were held at Williams and Mariucci arenas this weekend.

The Washburn High School team was mentored by university engineering students from Theta Tau, and co-ed professional engineering fraternity.

The team will now be traveling to Atlanta to compete nationally in April.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) designs a new game every year and the competing teams must build a robot specifically for the game.

This was the first time the Washburn team, the Washburn Millerbots, competed in the competition.

The Minnesota Daily reported that this is the second regional competition to be held at the university, which hosted 102 competing teams.

The competition included 81 Minnesota teams, a drastic increase from the one Minnesota team that competed in 2005.

March 29, 2009

Flooding continues as storm approaches

The Red River Valley is still battling the flood waters even though many Moorhead and Fargo residents believe it has crested.

The Star Tribune reported that the river was under 40 feet for the first time in three days on Sunday.

The National Weather Service predicts that the river will slowly decrease in height, and expects it to be below 38 feet on April 5.

Despite the urged evacuation, some residents have stayed behind to help monitor levees and pumps.

The National Guard was brought in over the weekend to help monitor the pumps, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Officials urges evacuated residents to stay where they were, citing strong winds and a potential snow storm

Fargo suffered a major loss when a permanent dike built around a private school was was breached on Sunday.

Oak Grove President Bruce Messelt said the levee did not seem to be damaged, but the river, moving at a velocity of 12 to16 miles per hour, underlined the dike.

Though the school buildings were damaged, contingency dikes built behind the school held, and the neighborhood was protected.

Officials in Moorhead said that all the dikes are 43 feet high, and that work is being done to construct secondary levees.

Lend a Hand, Hear the Band's performer still a mystery

The student organization Lend a Hand, Hear the Band is wrapping up its final negotiations with the band, and are looking forward to the concert that will be held on April 16.

Even though this is the third year of the group, it is running behind its usual schedule.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Lend a Hand, Hear the Band is a Minnesota Student Association volunteer program where students volunteer 10 hours of community service to receive a concert ticket to see a band chosen by the organization's committee.

The committee lists bands that are popular with students and also fit within the organization's budget. The committee then works with agents to negotiate a contract with the band that will play.

This year, Lend a Hand, Hear the Band has about $60,000 to cover expenses. They set aside about $21,000 for the program while the Office of the President gave $23,000. The rest of the budget was raised through corporate sponsorships and applying for grants, MSA Vice President Trisha Thompson said.

In past years, students got to attend concerts from the bands Guster and The Hold Steady.

The bands had been announced by this time in the past, but the organization is still in the final stages of negotiations and would not reveal this year's band.

February 26, 2009

Problems at carlson

Snow stops school

February 22, 2009

Retired St. Paul officer injured from accidental gun discharge

A retired St. Paul police officer was wounded after an off-duty Minneapolis police officer's gun accidentally discharged.

The two officers were providing security at the Minneapolis Gun Show Saturday afternoon when the accident occurred, Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia said.

The Minneapolis officer was sitting in a chair when the gun's holster caught on the chair, Garcia said. The gun discharged, and one round hit the floor. The bullet fragmented and hit the retired officer in the left leg and in one hand, the Star Tribune reported.

He suffered minor injuries, and was treated and released Saturday, Garcia said.

Authorities are checking the gun and holster for possible mechanical problems. The Minneapolis officer involved will not be disciplined and the accident is not severe enough to be considered a critical incident, Garcia said.

A new coat of cherry-red

A spoon of iconic proportion will be missing its cherry starting Monday.

The one-ton cherry atop the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden's signature Spoonbridge will be removed for repainting and overhauling, the Star Tribune reported.

A crane and flatbed truck will maneuver through the sculpture garden and take the cherry offsite where it will be refurbished.

The cherry will get a fresh coat of marine-grade paint to match the original red used when the sculpture was created in the 1980s.

This will be the third time the Spoonbridge and Cherry has been repainted since its instillation in 1988. The last repainting was in 2006.

The cherry should be back in mid-April.

February 14, 2009

Alleged groper faceing more charges

The groper who attacked several women on the University of Minnesota campus was charged with seven more counts of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct Wednesday.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said more charges against Phillip William Acosta, 41, are pending.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Acosta was originally charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct to keep him in custody while police built up the other cases against him.

Acosta assaulted seven other women on the University campus, usually approaching them from behind on a bicycle.

Acosta admitted to all nine counts of assault and could face up to four years in prison because of the multiple incidents, Freeman said.

The Minnesota Daily said that Freeman will have a medical specialist perform psychiatric work on Acosta.

Freeman hopes to learn why Acosta committed the assaults and if there is a way to prevent him from committing these crimes in the future.

Acosta remains in the Hennepin County jail, the Star Tribune said.

Police offer reward for new information

Minneapolis Police partnered up with Crime Stoppers to offer a $1,000 reward to anyone willing to share details relating to the killing of a man in Cedar-Riverside.

Police are looking for new information about the killing of 20-year-old Joseph Sodd III, and hope the reward will encourage people to come forward, the Minnesota Daily said.

The Daily reported Lt. Rick Zimmerman of the Minneapolis Police Homicide Unit said Sodd left a bar on June 18 and walked toward the intersection of 19th Avenue South and Seventh Street South where his car was parked.

However, the Star Tribune said Sodd was driving home on his moped early in the morning when he was attacked near the intersection and stabbed in the throat.

Zimmerman said police do have some leads, but nothing strong enough to “put someone in jail?.

He also said that there were multiple robberies committed in the area at the time Sodd was killed, but police would not say if any of these were related to Sodd's death.

A Minneapolis Police news release asked “anyone with information, no matter how small or insignificant, to please come forward and talk with investigators.?

February 8, 2009

serial groper blames attraction to female buttocks for attacks

The 41-year-old Minneapolis man told police that he sexually assaulted 10 female students over the last several weeks because he is attracted to female buttocks, the Star Tribune reported Thursday.

Phillip W. Acosta was arrested Tuesday and charged Thursday with two counts of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with two incidents on the University of Minnesota campus Tuesday night.

Acosta remains in the Hennepin Country jail held pending the possible filing of additional or more serious charges.

Acosta was arrested on the university's West Bank after a woman reported being groped near the McNamara Alumni Center Tuesday night.

Dispatchers told the officers who arrested Acosta that another groping had been reported 20 minutes earlier, and soon the two victims identified Acosta as their attacker.

Acosta has no known affiliation with the university.

February 4, 2009

Serial Groper Caught

A 41-year-old Minneapolis man confessed to groping 10 female students after being arrested by University Police Tuesday.

The Star Tribune reported that police arrested the man shortly after a woman reported being groped as she was walking near the McNamara Alumni Center.

Officers spotted a man on the West Bank matching the description given by the victim.

Dispatchers notified police of another groping that had happened 20 minutes earlier on Washington Avenue SE as they were arresting the man.

The suspect was held in a squad car while the two most-recent victims were brought to the area and identified the suspect as the man who grabbed them.

The assaults started on Dec. 9 and all took place on or near The University of Minnesota campus.

The suspect approached the women at all times of the day and night and usually was on a bicycle, University Police Chief Greg Hestness said.

The man was taken to the Hennepin County jail.

February 2, 2009

Colorado Man Charged After Threats Towards Presdient and Mall of America

A 20-year-old southwestern Colorado man surrendered at the FBI's office in Durango after being indicted on charges to kill President Obama and bomb the Mall of America.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Timothy Ryan Gutierrez, of Cortez, Colo., surrendered Thursday after being indicted Tuesday in federal court in Denver and was being held without bail.

The Star Tribune reported Gutierrez allegedly e-mailed the FBI on Jan. 12, writing “I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening.?

Gutierrez also e-mailed a threat against the Mall of America; “I have rigged 40 pounds of C4 [a moldable plastic explosive] ... and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America.?

Mall officials were informed of the threat by the FBI and Bloomington police, said Maureen Bausch, the mall's executive vice president of business development.

The mall was given the all clear after it was determined “the threat wasn't valid? and nothing suspicious was found.

Gutierrez faces one count of transmission of threats and one count of falsely threatening to use explosives.

Gutierrez told the Cortez Journal that the threats were a prank.

Michael Goldman, Gutierrez's assigned attorney, told The Associated Press he didn't want anyone to rush to judgment.

St. Paul Man Shot and Killed During Robbery; Third Homicide This Year

A St. Paul man was shot and killed during a robbery early Saturday morning, the third reported homicide this year, two of them happening last week.

Jeffery Lamont Logan, 44, was leaving the American Legion at 976 Concordia Av. around 1 AM when he was confronted by three men.

Police spokesman Peter Panos said it is still unclear what happened, but according to the Star Tribune, Logan's brother, Charles Walker, said Logan was with a cousin whom the robbers had targeted, which led Logan to step in.

“He was a kind-hearted man, but he wouldn't let anything happened to his own,? Walker said.

They fought briefly, leading to the shooting, said Walker.

Logan was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he died.

St. Paul Police have arrested a 20-year-old West St. Paul man and two St. Paul men, 27 and 28, in connection with the murder. The three men were booked into the Ramsey County jail where they are awaiting formal charges.

On Saturday afternoon friends and family gathered at the American Legion post to mourn Logan's death. He had no children but loved to dote on the children of his five younger siblings.

Logan was an honor student and earned letters in several sports at Highland Park High School, all despite being born without a left hand.

Kare11 quoted Walker as saying “I never had an excuse for not trying to succeed. He'd always say, 'look, I've got one hand, I can do this. I know you can do that.' He instilled that in me.?

“I know his death is going to impact this community pretty big,? Walker said. “When a nice person goes out with his friends and this happens to him, it's not right.?