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Changes Made in Minneapolis Cab Regulations

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By Alison Henderson

Minneapolis cab drivers will no longer be able to use their cell phones or the radio due to a new city council ordinance.

The ordinance, approved on Friday by the regulatory committee, also requires drivers to accept credit cards.

Rainbow Taxi owner Zack Williams agreed with the ordinance and said his drivers are already banned from talking on the phone while a customer is in the car, according to a Kare 11 report.

"Drivers will now sit and talk to their wives, girlfriends and friends, make dates, do whatever they are doing on the phone and completely ignore the passenger and we're in the customer service industry," Williams said in the KARE 11 report.

Cab drivers are accepting the regulations and are pleased with changes that allow them to drive in jeans, and leave their cabs at taxi stands, according to a Star Tribune report.

Anti-bullying Video Gets Celebrity Attention

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By Alison Henderson

A 12-year-old Blaine, Minn. resident received a call from Mötley Crüe member Nikki Sixx, after using his song in an anti-bullying video on Youtube.

Chloe McCarty, using the song "Skin," posted the video to "blow off steam," according to a Star Tribune report. She had been a victim of bullying because of her trichotillomania, a condition that causes her to pull out her hair.

McCarty flipped through a series of note cards to tell her story, leaving viewers with an inspiring message.

"Ugly? Never. You are beautiful," the cards said.

After seeing the video Nixx called McCarty to thank her. He also replied to the video with a tweet saying: "Chloe, you made the most beautiful video for 'Skin' ... Thank you ... You are a role model. ... Your strength will give others hope. ... THANK YOU," according to a Sacramento Bee report.

The video also sparked reactions from thousands of viewers, and apologies from several of McCarty's classmates, according to the Star Tribune report.

Ford Plant to Close in St. Paul

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By Alison Henderson

The St. Paul Ford plant, which opened in 1925, is scheduled to close by the end of the year.

Despite government efforts to keep the plant open, the closure is part of a larger national trend as Ford production rates continue to shirnk. In addition, auto-making contributes less than 1 percent to the state economy, according to a Star Tribune report.

Most of the 2,000 long-time workers have transferred to places such as Louisville or Kansas City, leaving less than 130 full-time union workers.

Ford officials said the plant will likely go up for sale in 2012. The land, located along the Mississippi River, is considered "prime real-estate" by city officials. However an environmental impact analysis must be completed before developments are made, according to a KARE 11 report.

Minneapolis to Reopen Schools

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By Alison Henderson

The Minneapolis public school district will open three schools to support a rise in enrollment, according to a Star Tribune report.

The district was the largest in Minnesota, but decreased in size after enrollment moved to suburban and charter schools. However, the district expects 2,000 new students by 2015, according to a KSTP report.

The plan is expected to cost up to $45 million. School board members approved the allocation of $18 million Tuesday, to spread over eight schools, according to the Star Tribune report.

Money to cover the cost of construction and architect fees will come from the district's budget and proceeds from a bond sale, according to the Star Tribune report.

The expansion aims to create more space for elementary school students currently studying in overcrowded classrooms.

Vikings Player Charged With Domestic Felony Assault

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By Alison Henderson

Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was arrested Tuesday for allegedly strangling his girlfriend during a fight, according to a USA Today report.

The 24-year-old football player was suspended but is still getting paid his weekly salary, $190,000 for the last eight games of the season, according to a Star Tribune blog.

A statement released Tuesday explained the Viking's reaction to the allegations.

"Today's allegations against Chris Cook are very disturbing and disappointing. At this time, he is suspended without pay from the team while we continue to gather information regarding the situation," the statement said according to the USA Today report.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a news conference that state guidelines call for a sentence of a year and a day, according to the USA Today report.

The Viking's player is scheduled to appear in court November 22 on allegations of strangulation. His future with the Vikings is unclear, according to a CBS Sports report.

Cook apologized to friends, family and Vikings staff and fans on Twitter. He also said "There's always two sides to a story!!," according to the USA Today report.

Sparboe Farms Facing Allegations of Animal Cruelty

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By Alison Henderson

An undercover video documenting severe animal cruelty cost Minnesota-based Sparboe Farms its partnership with McDonald's and Target.

The video, filmed by animal rights group Mercy for Animals, caught one worker swinging a chicken by a chain, and another stuffing a hen in his pocket.

The FDA cited the egg company with "serious" and "significant violations," of salmonella prevention regulation and unsatisfactory rodent control, according to a Star Tribune report.

"This is a warning that there is a systemic problem, not just at one barn or one location," former FDA food safety chief David Acheson said in an ABC News report.

In a reaction statement released, McDonald's said it's decision to drop the company was based on concerns about poor management.

"McDonald's expects all of our suppliers to meet our stringent requirements for delivering high quality food prepared in a humane and responsible manner," the company said in the ABC report.

Sparboe president Beth Sparboe Schnell, said in a statement that she "was deeply saddened . . . because this isn't who Sparboe Farms is. Acts depicted in the footage are totally unacceptable and are completely at odds with our values as egg farmers. In fact, they are in direct violation of our animal care code of conduct," according to the Star Tribune report.

Federal authorities said they will be increasing inspection and enforcement of food regulations, according to the ABC News report.

Gas Leak Leads to Evacuation of University Housing

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By Alison Henderson

Police evacuated residents of the Como Student Community Cooperative near St. Paul Tuesday due to a gas leak.

A front-end loader ruptured a pipeline while digging in the university housing parking lot, according to a report from The Republic.

A Metro Transit bus arrived to house the 40 people who were evacuated from the complex during the leak, according to the report.

"[The situation] could be dangerous, but it's hard to say, because we're so used to it," a CenterPoint Energy spokesperson said in a Minnesota Daily report.

Evacuees were allowed back in around 1 p.m., an hour after the pipe was ruptured. No one was hurt, according to The Republic report.

17 Minneapolis Fires Under Investigation

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By Alison Henderson

Police say a string of 17 suspected arson fires were set Friday night near West River Parkway, according to a Star Tribune report.

The fires were started on vehicles, garages, a dumpster, a retaining wall and piles of leaves between 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., according to the report.

Up to 40 officers patrolled Snelling Avenue South, 32nd Street East and 45th Street East and questioned people in the area. No arrests were made, however one person was booked for an unrelated misdemeanor, according to an MPR report.

Police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer said the Minneapolis arson squad is investigating the fires.

"This is probably going to be solved by the public coming forward with some information for us," Palmer said in the MPR report.

75 Evacuated After Roseville Fire

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By Alison Henderson

A fire in a Roseville apartment building forced several dozen people out of their homes Tuesday night.

The fire started at about 7:45 p.m. in a second-story unit on the 2800 block of Pascal Street. Several units surrounding the fire's ignition have been condemned, according to a KSTP report.

The building, built in the 1960s, had working alarms, but did not have a sprinkler system to contain the fire, according to the KSTP report.

"Had this building had sprinklers the fire damage would have been contained to that one unit," Chief Tim O'Neill of the Roseville Fire Department said in the KSTP report.

Tenants will have to find temporary homes. Most tenants adapted quickly, but the Red Cross found lodging for 12 families that were unable to relocate, according to a Star Tribune Report.

About 80 firemen contained the blaze in five hours, according to the Star Tribune report. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Teenager Receives 3 Life Sentences for 3 Murders

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At a final court hearing on Monday, a 17-year-old was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of three people.

Mahdi Hassan Ali was given an automatic life sentence after being charged with first-degree murder last month, according to a Pioneer Press report.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill imposed three consecutive life sentences to represent each killing, and to ensure that Ali would have no chance of parole.

"It may seem terrible to take away your liberty and any hope you have for release," Cahill said at the hearing. "But terrible or not, it is a just result."

The murders occurred during an attempted robbery at the Seward Market and Halal Meat on Franklin Avenue last January when Ali shot three men that were at the store, according to a Star Tribune report.

His accomplice Ahmed Ali, 19, plead guilty to three counts of attempted aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the Star Tribune report.

The victims' families were comforted by the Cahill's decision.

"The least of justice we can get today is to have this person behind bars," relative Nimo Abdi Warfa told the Star Tribune. "We've got that. And we will miss our brothers and we will continue to remember them, and we will try to survive this."

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