April 2011 Archives

WCCO TV Personality Sherm Booen Dies

Sherm Booen, better known as "Mr. Minnesota Aviation" died April 7 at the age of 97.
Booen, from Richfield, Minnesota, was inspired by Minnesotan pilot Charles Lindbergh and his solo transatlantic flight and from then on he had an intense interest in flying according to the Star Tribune.
He learned how to fly at a field near Albert Lea while he worked at KATE radio and in 1942 he was able to continue doing both when he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces and the Marine Air Reserve in Korea and Japan reported the Star Tribune.
In 1952 when Boone returned to Minnesota he started working at WDGY and then WCCO radio where he hosted "World of Aviation", the world's only regularly scheduled aviation television program, reported WCCO. The show ran for 28 years.
According to the Star Tribune Booen's friends say that his passion for flying was passed to many others with his show and his magazine, Minnesota Flyer, that launched in 1960 and for those reasons he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.
He was also inducted to the Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2002 according to WCCO.
In his spare time off the air he was flying his Beechcraft Bonanza where he and his family often took part in traveling to fly-in breakfasts reported the Star Tribune. Booen is survived by a sister Mary Leone Sonksen and his one grandchild, D'Ette Mullinix.

Fake Pilots in India

Fake grades and manipulated logged flying hours are letting unprepared pilots fly planes full of passengers.
Aviation officials and others have been exposed by a government-ordered investigation to be forging grade sheets, fudging logbooks and accepting bribes. Unqualified pilots have been let in the cockpit because of the recurring scandal reported the Washington Post.
Parminder Kaur Gulati, an Indian pilot, brought the scandal into light when she landed an Airbus 320 passenger plane on its nose wheel at New Dehli in January reported the Washington Post.
E.K. Bharat Bhushan, India's director general of civil aviation, admitted that the grade sheets look very real and it's worrying that people had gotten away with it for so long reported the Washington Post. Bhushan assured flyers that only 29 out of their 8,000 certified pilots have lost their licenses.
According to Asia Times the fake pilots were employed in major domestic airlines, including national carrier Air India and private airlines Jet Airways.
India's airline industry boomed from 2009-2010 along with passenger traffic which led to many new flying schools opening up and many young adults in India seeking to become pilots reported the Washington Post. In order to graduate from the India aviation school students must log in a certain number of flying hours and take written tests, and the amount of both depends if the student is seeking to become a co-pilot or to command the aircraft according to the Washington Post.
A senior pilot working for Air India said the theoretical questions written by bureaucrats who have never touched the controls of aircrafts make up the written tests. These questions are why many students resort to faking their results according to the Washington Post.
Asia Times reported that fortunately India hasn't had any air crashes among the fake pilots.

Minnesota Fashion

Local fashion event "Voltage" fuses together local fashion and music into a highly anticipated showcase this weekend.
This year is the seventh installment of the show "Voltage" and is a prime event in the Twin Cities as it serves to get new talent into the public reported the Minnesota Daily.
Voltage is also geared towards bringing in a wide range of audience members. Local bands like Pink Mink, Me and My Arrow, Phantom Tails, Communist Daughter and Fort Wilson Riot should bring in an audience that may not know much about fashion according to the Minnesota Daily.
Voltage and the rest of the events apart of MNfashion week are a way to the Twin Cities on the map in the fashion world. Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for the NPD Group, a New York-based consumer research company, explained that in order for the Twin Cities to become a well-known for fashion the work the cities produces needs to be different than the rest of the known fashion hotspots reported the Pioneer Press.
According to the Pioneer Press when MNfashion began in 2004 Voltage was the only event and today there are more than a dozen runway events, trunk shows and open houses. The week has also expanded to occur in the spring and the fall just like fashion weeks in Los Angeles and New York.
A person who believes that Minnesota is on its way to get on the map for fashion is "Project Runway" season 6 finalist Christopher Straub of Shakopee. Straub has chosen to stay in Minnesota because of the presence of a fashion industry and people need to be aware of it according to the Pioneer Press.

Earth Day events

This year there are many opportunities to get involved with Earth Day in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas including park hosted cleanups and building awareness.
According to the Minnesota Daily Saturday was the start to next weeks' volunteer opportunities as it was Minneapolis's annual Earth Day Clean Up. Members of the community gathered in 40 locations as a part of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's largest annual community-service event.
The Earth Day Clean Up has been successful in getting the help of thousands of volunteers, including University of Minnesota students, and picking up thousands of pounds of trash around the city according to the Minnesota Daily.
Throughout the week of April 18 multiple parks and centers are inviting volunteers for snacks before getting to work on cleaning local areas reported the Star Tribune. The Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul/ Mendota Heights is one place of opportunity to participate in Earth Day.
Even after Earth Day (April 22) has passed volunteers can still find places to help contribute to nature, including Farmington's annual Earth Day and Arbor Day event on April 30, where participants can help clean ponds and parks and kids can learn from a visiting naturalist reported the Star Tribune. Visitors are able to get free tips from attending these events.

Coachella 2011

The 12th edition of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival brings optimism and shocking new editions as it begins April 15 in Indio, California.
Last year's fest had overcrowding issues, with a total of over 105,000 concert-goers, including gate-crashers and counterfeiters reported the LA Times. The amount of people attending the music fest also brings a huge amount of traffic, which is hoped to be alleviated by the use of shuttle services.
According the LA Times new security measures have been put in to make sure customers can't come in unless they are wearing a wristband, which is outfitted with a high-tech digital encryption that is scanned by a body-length scanner once they reach the gates.
New editions to the musical acts include an interactive lights sculpture in the background of the stages reported the Washington Post. The cube of lights is supposed to add to the performances and to the overall experience.
Many artists and groups have already planned for theatrical components during their sets and took advantage of this year's producers The Creators Project, an art initiative hoping to give the fest a tech boost reported the Washington Post.
Coachella uses the combination of music, art and now technology in order to step up their game reported the Washington Post.

Downtown L.A. livens up

A once neglected part of Los Angeles is coming alive with new restaurants, lofts, art center and more.
According to the Seattle Times the new revival is due to the new arts and entertainment venues and events attracting locals to the downtown area that used to be a prime spot in the early 1900s.
Previously abandoned office buildings and hotels have been turned into appealing lofts for the younger generation wanting to move away from L.A. suburbs reported the Seattle Times. City goers are also to reconnected to once popular sites with the help of Angels Flight, a funicular railway built in 1901.
Other places generating buzz are the introduction of pop-up bars, which according to the LA Times are clubs or bars that occupy a vacated space for six months and then close. Paul & Andre, a club at the end of an alley off Hollywood Boulevard, is this spring's example following in the steps of chef Ludo Lefebvre's pop-up restaurant LudoBites.
Although L.A. has one of the country's largest homeless populations, the addition of shops to give off a Manhattan feel help making walking around safer reported the Seattle Times.

Brooklyn Park shooting kills two

Two Festival Foods employees were shot and killed Friday in Brooklyn Park.
At 8:30 p.m. a store employee had walked into the store's break room, apparently in a fit of jealousy, where two employees were sitting and shot both of them. One was killed and the other was fatally injured reported the Star Tribune.
According to the Hennepin County medical examiner Abigail M. Fedeli, 20, died of a single gunshot wound to the neck and the other employee, a 21-year-old man, died after being taken to the North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale reported the Star Tribune.
KARE 11 news reported that police called the suspected shooter an ex-acquaintance of Fedeli and that they learned very early on who they were looking for.
The police tracked down the suspect in Minneapolis and as they surrounded him he shot himself near West River Parkway said the Star Tribune. His body was found underneath the Washington Avenue Bridge.
Deputy Chief Craig Enevoldsen said that the suspect had no criminal history before the shooting reported KARE 11 news.
According to the Star Tribune the store was closed on Saturday, but re-opened Sunday morning. The store also provided counseling to its employees following the shootings reported KARE 11 news.

The male victim was later identified as Michael Habte and that Habte and Fedeli had been dating for a month or two and the shooter, still yet to be identified, used to date Fedeli reported the Star Tribune.

Fire damages Jesus statue in St. Paul

The Jesus statue in the back yard of a St. Paul citizen was damaged by a fire Sunday morning.
The 7-foot statue belonging to Tuan Pham has been involved in a zoning dispute and according to the Pioneer Press the St. Paul City Council had recently decided the statue must be moved from its perch overlooking downtown St. Paul.
The St. Paul City Council said that the statue was closer to the edge of the bluff than the city rules permits reported the Star Tribune.
The Jesus statue is a replica of the 105-foot-tall Christ of Vung Tao statue that Pham had imported from his native Vietnam and had caught on fire after the pile of nail-studded wood stacked around the statue's base had been lit on fire reported the Star Tribune.
According to the Pioneer Press the Jesus statue was relatively unharmed except for some streaks of soot and discoloration to its base.
Pham's family hasn't decided what to do with the statue and if any of the charring done will be able to be removed reported the Pioneer Press.
The Star Tribune reported that the statue, located in Pham's prayer garden, has been attracted by vandals before. Last year the statue was hit by a paintball gun.
Pham and his family are thankful the fire was contained since where the statue is located a brush fire could've been easily started reported the Pioneer Press.

Chinese police detain church members for public praying

Sunday morning Chinese police detained more than 100 church members after they tried praying in a public plaza north of the capital.
The members of the Shouwang Church tried to hold an outdoor service after failing to secure permission to open a church reported the Los Angeles Times. The congregation of around 1,000 has complained in recent years that the government pressured landlords into refusing to rent space in various hotels and office buildings to the congregation said the LA Times.
According to the New York Times the congregation is one of China's largest house churches and has been trying to gain legal recognition from the authorities since 2006 with no success. The Shouwang Church is one of many unregistered churches facing pressure to disband or join the system of state-controlled churches said the NY Times.
The church did not make the public meeting a secret as it explained on the Internet that they had no choice but to pray in public reported the NY Times.
The police were also alerted of the time of the gathering and went on to surround the meeting point reported the LA Times. More than 100 members were loaded onto vans and buses and many were taken to a nearby school for questioning before being released.
This public prayer meeting is not the first for the Shouwang Church, but it was the first meeting to be interfered by Chinese authorities reported the LA Times.

Explosion Kills at Firework Facility in Hawaii

An explosion at a fireworks storage bunker in Hawaii killed at least five workers Friday.
The explosion occurred near the Waikele Business Center, a former military bunker and currently a warehouse for fireworks and killed three workers and left two missing reported USA Today.
Explosions continued to burn the bunker for many hours since the initial one, which prevented firefighters from entering the warehouse and searching for the missing workers reported the New York Times. Captain Terry Seelig of the Honolulu Fire Department claimed the risk was too high for the rescuers to enter the bunker, so the police sent robots inside to get a view said the NY Times.
It wasn't until Saturday that the bunker had cooled down enough for the bomb team to enter the warehouse and retrieve the two remaining workers said Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Gary Lum according to USA Today. The two workers had died inside.
According to USA Today the five workers that died and the one worker that suffered injuries were all employees of Donaldson Enterprises, an environmental services and unexploded ordnance disposal company.
The cause of the warehouse's explosion has yet to be determined reported USA Today.

Japan hit by magnitude 7.1 aftershock

Thursday night northeastern Japan experienced their strongest aftershock since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The New York Times reported that the aftershock hit at 11:32 p.m. local time and was centered 41 miles east of the city of Sendai.
Following the aftershock the Japanese Meteorological Agency put out a tsunami warning, which was lifted after 90 minutes reported the Los Angeles Times.
Miyagi and Yamagata, two cities that were hit, reported two deaths occurred because of the aftershock and many more were injured said the New York Times.
As of Friday morning 3.6 million households were out of power as the aftershock knocked out power at three nuclear facilities reported the NY Times.
Worries rose that the aftershock could affect the already suffering Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but the the NY Times reported that the Tokyo Electric Power Company found no new damage to the plant and no increase in radiation levels.

Twin Cities' suburbs see decline in population

According to the recently released data from the 2010 census there has been a decrease in the suburb populations in the seven-county metro area.
In the metro area 26 suburbs have seen a decline in population, double the suburbs that have seen declines in the previous census reported the Star Tribune.
According to the Pioneer Press this is the first time in more than 60 years, that the growth rate of Minnesota's suburbs has gone down, with some suburbs even losing population. Ever since World War II people had been moving out of the city, but the new data showed the trend has stopped.
Not only suburbs around the Minneapolis and St. Paul area have seen a decrease, but also as far out as Lake Minnetonka even though 10 years ago all of them had seen increases in population reported the Star Tribune. The 2000 census had showed that the seven-county metro area had increased by 7.85 percent to 2.85 million people.
State Demographer Tom Gillaspy said that suburbs have a life cycle, which explains how suburbs have population booms, stability and then a decline in family and household sizes reported the Star Tribune.
The Pioneer Press reported that suburbs are now adapting as builders and municipal leaders have have expanded their cities to include both the older and younger generations. Adaptions include making less single family homes and building more apartment complexes and townhomes.

Southwest grounds planes for emergency inspections

On Saturday Southwest Airlines grounded 79 airplanes after a hole tore in the fuelsage of a plane and resulted in depressurizing the cabin.
After the incident Southwest went on to cancel about 300 flights on Saturday because of the inspections needed to be done on the planes reported the New York Times. The company will be looking for the same kind of skin fatigue in the aircrafts.
The 5 feet long and 1 foot wide tear happened to a 15-year-old Boeing 737-300 as it was flying at 35,000 feet as it made its way from Sacramento to Phoenix Friday afternoon reported the NY Times. The rupture was like an explosion and afterwards the plane's oxygen masks were released while the pilot descended to make an emergency landing at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station in Arizona.
None of the 118 passengers were injured and once the plane landed all of them decided to continue to their destination on a replacement jet reported the NY Times.
According to the Los Angeles Times the Federal Aviation Administration implemented new rules this year that required additional structural inspections of Boeing 757 and 737 aircrafts and Southwest had requested more time to complete before being rejected.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are still trying to determine what caused the rupture on Flight 812 reported the LA Times.

Radioactive water leakage in Japan

Radioactive water continues to leak from Japan's nuclear plant into the ocean Saturday with little success in stopping.
Ever since the magnitude-9 earthquake hit Japan on March 11 the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex has been leaking radioactivity, which is may be the source of radioactivity found in coastal waters in the past few days reported the Star Tribune. The leak found at the nuclear plant is the latest indication that the strategies being used to cool the overheating reactors could be creating new problems reported The Washington Post .
According to the Washington Post Japan's nuclear regulatory office pooled toxic water from an almost eight-inch-long crack in the concrete wall of a maintenance pit at the unit-2 reactor. The level of radioactivity in the air above the water was measured at 1,000 millisieverts per hour, which is four times the maximum level that plant workers can legally be exposed to.
Water two feet away from the crack in the pit was measured at 400 millisieverts as radiation quickly scatters through water and air, but by the time it reaches the Pacific Ocean it will be quickly diluted reported the Star Tribune.
The Los Angeles Times reported that on Sunday engineers attempted to use a mixture of sawdust, shredded paper and polymer or plastic that expanded to 500 times its size when exposed to water to plug the crack and then were going to pour concrete on top of the polymer. Unfortunately the polymer didn't form a plug and radioactive water continued to flow into the ocean.
Radiation measurements of iodine-131 have been found at 25 miles south of the plant in the seawater at twice the legal limit, but officials said that the measurements are still below levels dangerous to human health reported the Star Tribune.
According to the Star Tribune the radiation concerns have made it even more difficult for the people to go back to their normal lives as more than 165,000 people are living in shelters, 260,000 households still don't have running water and 170,000 don't have electricity.

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