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December 8, 2007

Bloomington teen dies in rollover

A 19-year-old Bloomington man died at about 3 a.m. Saturday morning in a vehicle rollover accident, according to the Pioneer Press.

Seth Hanson was driving on U.S. 75, south of Clinton, and "overcorrected," causing the car to roll several times, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Hanson was not wearing a seatbelt.

An 18-year-old female passenger was taken to a nearby hospital in Ortonville. Alcohol was detected in her system, and she was wearing her seatbelt, according to an accident report.

The girl had minor injuries, reported the State Patrol, but her current condition is not known.

December 4, 2007

Chanhassen teen killed in van rollover

Chanhassen teen and Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor, Andrew T. Jackson, was killed Saturday when the van he was riding in hit a patch of ice and rolled over, according to the Star Tribune.

Jackson, 18, recently had celebrated making the Purdue University hockey club as a freshman. The club was 10 minutes into their drive to a game in Danville, Ill. when the one-car accident occurred--at about 3:45 p.m. Jackson was killed almost instantly, according to the Star Tribune.

Seven of the hockey members were injured, all of whom were treated at a hospital and released.

Hockey served as a "stabilizing foundation" in Jackson's life as he dealt with the obstacles he faced. Jackson's sister, Nicole, said, "He had so many trials in his life. He had to go through so many obstacles. And then to get cut off like this."

Jackson's aunt, Therese Lockwood of Richfield, said that the family has heard little about the accident, which happened 5 miles north of Wingate, Ind., according to the Star Tribune.

The accident is being invested by Indiana public safety officials.

November 21, 2007

Coffee shop burglaries on the rise as holidays approach

Minneapolis-area coffee shops are advised to keep a close watch for burglars this weekend, as their activity tends to escalate during the holiday season, according to Sarah Mahmud, crime prevention specialist for Minneapolis police, reported the Star Tribune Wednesday.

Caribou Coffee locations have been a "favored target," Minneapolis Police said.

As Black Friday's holiday shopping "kickoff" prompts thieves to become more active, Mahmud said shop owners should make their bank deposits frequently and should also avoid leaving large amounts of money in their safes.

"These are some very professional burglars who get in fast and out fast," Mahmud said.

November 20, 2007

Minnesota Norwegians resent Norway's decision to close career consulate

Norway recently announced it is shutting its Upper Midwest career consulate, upsetting many of the Norwegian-Americans that populate the Minneapolis area, reported the New York Times Tuesday.

The consulate opened in 1906, and is a "point of pride" for the Upper Midwest, particularly Minnesota, which claims 850,000 people of Norwegian descent.

"We're very proud of our roots, and we've tried really hard to preserve them," Shirley Hansen, one of the knitting club members at Minneapolis's Ingebretsen's Norwegian market, said. "Norway is near and dear to us, but now we feel like maybe they haven't considered us quite so important."

Norwegian officials say the decision to close the consulate was based on money issues. An official at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, Jannicke Jaeger, said it cost approximately $2 million per year to operate the consulate.

“In part, this is an image problem about how Norway views us,? Jeff Mueller, president of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce for the Upper Midwest, said. “Norway looks at us as ‘that’s where our ancestors went.’ ?

New consulates will be opening in China, whose economy is "booming," as well in Spain, where many Nowegians retire, The New York Times said.

“It’s silly to think that this place is somehow going to break the budget for Norway,? said Anne Kanten, a resident of Milan, Minn., which calls itself Norwegian Capital U.S.A. “What’s more Norwegian than Minnesota, anyway??

November 18, 2007

Local first-graders express Thanksgiving-season gratitude

The Pioneer Press asked local first-graders to write (and draw) about what they are thankful for, and included a selection of the 500+ submissions in an article posted Saturday.

The topics were wide-ranging, as some children expressed thanks for the customary "family and friends," whereas others were thankful for "the Army" and "xylophones," the Pioneer Press said.

A few submissions that were selected by the Pioneer Press include:

"I am thankful for presidents. They keep us safe. They help the city. They love us! Forever and ever!" -Ansel Sanchez, 6, Apple Valley; Paideia

"I am thankful for Vaseline and ChapStick for my chapped lips." -Holly Becker, 6, Eagan; Deerwood Elementary

"I am thankful for xylophones because they make good music." -Alexa Murray, 6, West St. Paul; Somerset Heights Elementary

"I am thankful for my grandpa, who died, because he and I drank root beer floats." -Logan Finkel, 7, St. Paul; Somerset Heights Elementary

"I am thankful my mommy's heart healed. I love my mom. I hope she gets better." -Luke Wasson, 6, Falcon Heights; Minnehaha Academy

"I like guinea piggies because they smell me. Two guinea pigs nibble on my finger, and it tickles me. They think I'm a carrot." -Erik Haider, 7, Mendota Heights, Somerset Heights Elementary School

TXT-U to aid in campus emergency notification

University of Minnesota students, faculty and staff now have the option to receive emergency notifications via text messages, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The emergency notification method was introduced Friday, and is intended to communicate "school closings and emergency situations" throughout campus, according to a news release attributed in the Daily's article.

"Text messaging is a quick way to reach people, particularly when time is of the essence," Vice President for University Services, Kathleen O'Brien, said.

The service, which is free (excluding standard service provider charges), is available online for students to register.

November 11, 2007

West Bank parking lot booth robbed

A University public safety alert reported that a parking lot booth was robbed on the West Bank Friday afternoon, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The attendant of the booth at Lot 94, 2115 5th St. S. was not injured during the robbery, which happened at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Daily said.

According to the public safety alert, said the Daily, the lone male suspect displayed a knife and took an "undisclosed amount of cash" from the booth. The suspect appeared to be between 28 and 32 years old and about 6 feet tall.

There have been several similar incidents that have occurred over the past couple months near the University campus.

Waconia defeats Washburn, 28 to 0

The Waconia High School football team defeated Minneapolis Washburn in the Class 4A state quarterfinal game Friday night, reported the Star Tribune.

"Waconia (11-1) got the lead early when Eric Aeling hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Hackbarth with 5:33 to play in the first quarter, making it 7-0," the Star Tribune said.

Derek Earls was the "story" for the Waconia Wildcats, according to the Star Trib, as he "rushed 29 times for 137 yards, adding a third touchdown in a fourth quarter despite Washburn regularly putting eight players in the box. Earls also had a 31-yard, third down to Aeling that set up the final score."

Waconia is scheduled to play Totino-Grace on Friday at the Metrodome at 12:45 p.m.

November 2, 2007

Highland Park High School girls cited for passing vodka in classroom

Four Highland Park High School girls shared a vodka-filled water bottle during their second-hour class Monday, according to the Star Tribune.

The four girls (three were 14 years old, the fourth 15 years old) were given minors and released to their parents, said Pete Crum, St. Paul Police spokesman.

The Highland Park High School girls could face up to a three-day suspension, and will also be "referred for a chemical health evaluation," said Brett Johnson, St. Paul Public Schools spokesman.

The school's assistant principle, who was called to the classroom after the teacher noticed the girls' suspicious behavior, took the 15-year-old girl out of class and noticed she was stumbling down the stairs.

Her blood-alcohol level was 0.172. Two of the other girls had blood-alcohol levels just below .08, Crum said. The fourth girl was not tested, as she was interviewed much later.


October 30, 2007

Nanny shot in the back

Katherine Olson, a woman answering an online nannying ad on Craigslist, was shot in the back by Michael John Anderson, a 19-year-old from Savage, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday.

"Police found a gun--a .357 Magnum--in Anderson's house, as well as blood stains and drag marks on stairs," the StarTrib reported. A neighbor also said that they saw Olson's car parked in front of Anderson's house for over two hours Thursday, the StarTrib said.

The suspect denied having any phone contact with Olson, and also said he had not used Craigslist since January although the email address in the nanny ad placed matched his.

Anderson lives with his parents, however, no one else was home at the time of the shooting.

The suspect was charged with second-degree murder in Scott County Tuesday.

October 28, 2007

Craigslist nanny ad ends in slaying of St. Olaf grad

A 24-year-old girl was found dead in the trunk of her car in Burnsville Friday night, according to the Star Tribune.

Katherine Olson answered a nannying ad placed on Craigslist by, who police believe to be, a 19-year-old Savage man. Olson was last seen by friends on Thursday morning before she went to Savage to meet "someone in savage about the (nannying) job."

The Savage man is being held in the Scott County jail pending charges, which could be filed as soon as Sunday.

Olson's body was found after the police tried to notify her that her purse had been found (a result of what they thought was theft) in a garbage can at Pacer Park. Her roommate said Olson had not been seen since Thursday morning and after further investigation they found a bloody towel at the site.

This is the first homicide in Savage since 2000.

University of Minnesota girls audition for Playboy's "Girls of the Big Ten"

Fifteen girls from the University of Minnesota auditioned Tuesday for Playboy's "Girls of the Big Ten" pictorial that will feature girls who attend colleges in the Big Ten conference, according to the Minnesota Daily.

One girl, referred to as "Brittany" in the article, said that it would mean a lot to her to be chosen from the audition. "I love Playboy and I look up to the girls as something to aspire to," "Brittany" said. Brittany is a second-year grad student studying veterinary medicine.

However, Mia Ljung, the faculty adviser for the Women's Student Activist Collective at the University, said that "to portray college girls in a sexualized way is like kind of cutting off their brains and just showing their bodies."

Linda Kenney, Richard Higashi and Kim Mizuno make up the Playboy trio and are touring around the country to schools to hold auditions.

Girls can choose to audition fully nude, partially nude or implied nude.

October 21, 2007

Suicidal boy opens fire during police standoff

A suicidal 15-year-old boy from St. Croix County, Wisconsin, shot about 100 rounds from a Hudson home during a standoff with police on Friday at about 9 p.m., according to the Star Tribune.

The incident began when the boy barricaded himself in a house with two shotguns and a .22 caliber pistol, according to the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office.

Police did not return gunfire and no one was injured.

After authorities negotiated with the boy for three hours, he finally surrendered at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The boy was taken to a Madison hospital for evaluation, the Star Tribune said on Saturday.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the 15-year-old boy "waited until his parents left to see a movie and then called a couple of his friends, threatening suicide," accrording to St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead.

The boy likely be charged for "reckless endangerment and criminal damage to property," Hillstead said.

October 20, 2007

Northwest Airlines to begin nonstop flights to Paris

According to the Star Tribune, Northwest Airlines is planning to announce a new nonstop, daily service between the Twin Cities and Paris on Monday during a news conference at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington.

NWA will use "a new Airbus A330 to fly the Paris route," the Star Tribune said.

Northwest vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Lee, declined to confirm whether the news about the nonstop route is true. However, Northwest CEO, Doug Steenland implied in conversations with reporters Thursday that the new international service is likely to be put in effect. He also mentioned that the Twin Cities gets a lot of international service for its size.

Information as to when the service would start is not yet available.

Steenland met with reporters Thursday to "focus on the delivery of the 32nd Airbus A330 for Northwest's fleet," reported the Star Tribune. The A330s have on-demand video offerings for all coach and business class passengers, and the front of the cabin has lie-flat seats for business class passengers.

"International air service is very important to Minnesota's economy in terms of developing trade relations and visitors from other parts of the world," Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

Northwest is expanding the international portion of its business at about four percent each year, the Star Tribune said.

October 13, 2007

Mercury spill empties Eden Prairie school

A mercury spill was discovered Thursday, forcing an Eden Prairie charter school to be evacuated, reported the Star Tribune.

A combined total of 290 students and staff members evacuated Eagle Ridge Academy on Thursday morning after approximately two teaspoons of spilled mercury were found in a storage area, the Star Tribune said.

Although no one was seriously harmed, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent workers to examine students and faculty members after the evacuation. Affected areas of the school were sealed off by the Hopkins Fire Department, according to Eden Prairie spokeswoman Joyce Lorenz.

Classes were canceled for the remainder of Thursday after the evacuation, and the school remained closed on Friday for cleanup.

"When not contained in a thermometer or air-tight container, mercury can accumulate in tiny spaces and emit vapors. If inhaled, it can cause neurological and kidney damage," the Star Tribune reported.

Officials said they do not know who spilled the mercury.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty passed a law that prohibits mercury in all public and private K-12 schools this year, which requires the schools to stop buying mercury by the end of the year and to discard all mercury and related instruments containing the toxin by 2009. This law does not, however, apply to thermostats, the Star Tribune said.

October 9, 2007

Unsubstantiated child porn allegations against ex-school board member

St. Paul police claim that the allegations former St. Paul School Board Member Al Oertwig viewed child porn last March in a public library are unfounded, reported the Star Tribune Tuesday.

The accusations caused Oertwig, 62, to resign from his position in April to save the organization from distraction and because he lost his credibilty as a board member, the Star Tribune said.

"My ability to be a spokesperson on behalf of kids was diminished," Oertwig said.

Although there is no evidence to prove any child porn viewing, a folder linked to Oertwig's library identification number did contain adult erotica and pornography, according to the police report. Oertwig did not blatantly admit to viewing the images, but he made an ambiguous statement that could be inferred as admitting guilt.

Oertwig does not have any intention to run for the school board in the future.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press provided additional information in their report on Monday:

"On March 30, Metropolitan State University security called St. Paul police to the campus library and reported a community user had been viewing what appeared to be child porn on a library computer, according to a police report."

A security officer described the porn the man had been watching as "three adult males wearing leather hoods over their faces and having sex with three juvenile males." The identification number of the man using the computer at the time belonged to Oertwig, the Pioneer Press reported.

When the computer files were investigated none of the images matched the descriptions and did not contain minors, according to a supplemental police report.

Regardless, the images would not have determined identity of party.

October 5, 2007

Single mother fined $220,000 for music file sharing

Jammie Thomas, an Objibwe Native American and single mother from Brainerd was fined $220,000 for music piracy Thursday, according to London's The Times.

"The 30-year-old made legal history after refusing to pay an out-of-court settlement, as all others challenged over their behavior before her had done, but her failure to carry the case is likely to further embolden the music industry in its attempts to protect copyright," The Times said.

The Times said that Thomas has been ordered to pay a total of $9,250 for 24 songs that the case focused on, which is equal to almost five times the amount of her annual income. The record companies claim that she shared 1,702 songs in total through a Kazaa account.

Though she denied having a Kazaa account, the jury proved that the internet address "tereastarr" belonged to Thomas.

The Times' article brings up the argument that it cannot be proven that Jammie Thomas actually got on her computer and shared the files.

The RIAA has as advantage in winning trials because "it sets two precedents: It does not have to prove that a defendant’s computer had a file-sharing program installed when the infringement was detected; and that the defendant was at the keyboard when the infringements took place," The Times reported.

The news source is under the assumption that the fine will not be collected and is expected to leave Thomas bankrupt.

The Star Tribune's report of the story starts out specifically stating Jammie Thomas' annual income of $36,000.

The Star Tribune said that Thomas is not looking to receive financial help in order to pay off her $220,000 fine, but if she is offered it she will not necessarily decline either.

The only additional information the Star Tribune added to what The Times already contributed is that Thomas is the first person to fight a music piracy violation all the way to a trial.


October 2, 2007

Teenagers shoot DHL delivery driver

According to the Star Tribune, two teens decided to rob a DHL delivery on their way home from school Monday before shooting him.

Nathaniel Collins, 16, and Dempsey Brown, 17, were both charged with "felony first-degree assault and juveniles in possession with a gun," the Star Tribune reported. "Collins was also charged with being an accomplice after the shooting."

The two boys blamed each other for the shooting of driver Dwayne Greer, according to the criminal complaint.

After Greer tried to drive away from the boys who ordered him out of the car, he was hit in the pelvis by Brown. Doctors were afraid that paralysis may result from removing the bullet from his body; he was released from the hospital Monday, said the Star Tribune.

Collins said that Brown put the gun in his backpack, so he tried to get rid of it by bringing it to a friend's house, who ended up not being home.

Investigators, however, found three photos of the gun that Brown took with his cell phone shortly before the shooting, the news source added.


September 30, 2007

Smoking Ban will be put into effect Monday

Minnesota's "Freedom to Breathe Act" takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, according a WCCO report.

Minnesota is the 17th state to execute a statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, among other public places.

The article is mostly formed in a Q/A format; topics that were discussed include the following:

The ban prohibits smoking and/or carrying a lighted cigarette or cigar in most indoor public places and workplaces inclusive of: bars, retaurants, private clubs, bowling alleys, country club lounges, hotel lobbies, public transportation, and home offices/businesses where more than one person may be present.

Minnesotans can legally smoke in private homes, cars, buildings on family farms, among a few other places. Also, smoking is not banned from American Indian ceremonies or actors performing on state, WCCO said.

The ban does not apply to casinos or other establishments on Native American lands, Fox 9 News reported on Sunday. Fox 9 did not supply additional information beyond what WCCO included in their report.

The new smoking ban does not outlaw outoor smoking, but certain local laws may.

The Minnesota Department of Health is ultimately responsible for the ban that is put into effect, but private owners (restaurateurs, etc) must enforce the policy. Spotters of illegal smoking are encouraged to tell proprietors or to anonymously submit and post letters on the department's Web site, WCCO said.

The consequences of smoking illegally may entail "petty misdemeanor charges with fines of up to $300. The same goes for proprietors who flout the law -- plus, the Health Department can add penalties of up to $10,000 and some local public health agencies have authority to suspend or revoke liquor licenses," WCCO said.

Kare 11 News formatted their story on the smoking ban in a manner similar to WCCO's; almost all of the material was the same. However, a video clip is available on the Web site, in addition to the story.


September 26, 2007

Carlson School of Management requiring students to travel abroad

The University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management is making it mandatory that all undergraduate students travel abroad before graduating with a business degree, the Star Tribune reported Monday.

The business school currently has 1,800 students enrolled, and that number is expected to increase by 50 percent when their new building opens next fall.

Because the business world is becoming more global, these students will need to be adequately prepared to work internationally, said the school dean.

Faculty member, Kevin Upton, said such an opportunity will broaden the horizons of many students.

"This past year, we did a corporate visit at L'Oreal in Paris, and the students afterwards were all sort of embarrassed to discover that executives and every young marketing person that they talked to spoke at least three languages," Upton said.

Several options will be available for the undergrads to fulfill the requirement, including short-term winter and summer study-abroad programs.

The experience will prove invaluable regardless of whether students ultimately work abroad or not, added Upton.

September 23, 2007

Denver man rips head off live duck

According to a WCCO news report (Sunday), a man from Denver was in custody for allegedly ripping the head off of a live duck in a hotel lobby "pond."

The guest of the Embassy Suites Hotel in St. Paul apparently cornered the animal Saturday morning and decapitated it with his hands, despite the presence of onlookers, the article said.

The man, allegedly drunk, threatened to also eat the bird, said St. Paul police Sgt. John Wuorinen.

He was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty and is scheduled to appear in court Monday to be charged. He could face up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine, Tim Shields, general counsel with the Minnesota Federated Humane Societies, said.

Shields also said that the hotel needs to find ways to keep the ducks safe, or consider using fish like "most hotels" would.

University of Minnesota breeds, names new apple

University of Minnesota fruit breeders are letting the public give input on naming the newest breed of Minnesota apple--breed MN 447, according to the Minnesota Daily.

This is the first apple named by the public, the Daily said.

The apples bred by the University are produced at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, Minnesota, which is made up of over 1,000 acres of apples, the source said.

"James Luby, the University's fruit breeding supervisor, described MN 447 as a small, red, 'ugly duckling' apple with a firm texture," reported the Daily.

Also, Leslie Cooney, the arboretum's membership manager, said that people are very eager to participate in the naming of the apple.

Breed 447 is still years away from being available for purchase, although the apple is one of the program's oldest selections; the University decided that it was "too unusual of an apple to be sold commercially, and was instead used as a 'breeding parent' for other apples," said David Bedford.

So far, the list of names is nearing 700. The arboretum will be accepting name ideas through the end of October, said the news source.

September 15, 2007

Stars Wars exhibit coming to Science Museum

A Star Wars exhibit is coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota next summer, the Star Tribune announced Thursday. The Minnesota museum is one of eight museums across the country to present the exhibit.

The exhibit will be focused on "the real-world science behind the fantasy of the science fiction," said Mike Day, senior vice president of the museum. It will entail costumes and props, interactive stations, a robot theater and a replica of the Millenium Falcon cockpit, among other features.

The article also said that, although Star Wars has a shorter running period than prior exhibitions at the Science Museum, it is estimated to draw in more visitors considering the ratio of visitors to exhibition length.

In addition, there are plans to have a Star Wars related "component" at the museum's Omnitheater, however, the plans are indefinite.

The Science Museum will run the exhibit, Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, from June 13 to August 24, said the Pioneer Press.
According to the news source, the display will consist of vehicles, props, costumes (inclusive of a Chewbacca costume), droids and science.

Both news sources attempted to incorporate clever Star Wars puns into their articles, as well.


September 12, 2007

Walker Art Center selects new director

According to the Star Tribune, Olga Viso, 41, will become Walker Art Center's director in January, taking the place of Kathy Halbreich.

Viso has been the director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. for 12 years. Her salary will be between $350,000 and $400,000, compared to Halbreich's current salary of over $400,000.

Viso, whose main goal is to increase the museum's attendance at shows and programs, has been described by one article source, Neal Benezra, as a "wonderful person who has a tremendous amount of experience and will bring enormous energy to the Walker."

The Pioneer Press reported that "the Walker Art Center has chosen an executive from the Smithsonian Institution as its new director." Olga Viso, 12-year veteran of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, will replace Kathy Halbreich, who announced her resignation in March.

"[Viso] has the quiet ability to be open and listen, but she's also very clear and decisive," said Ned Rifkin, former head of the Hirshhorn.

Her artistic emphasis in on Latin American art and artists.