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December 10, 2007

Charter school for autistic students to open 2008

According to the Star Tribune:

A group of parents with autistic children is opening up a first-of-its-kind charter school that is specifically dedicated to serving older students with the disorder.

The Lionsgate Academy is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. It will be the only public school in Minnesota that is specially designed for autistic children.

Students in sixth through 10th grade will be eligible for enrollment, eventually the school will serve students up to the age of 21.

The school was formed to support parents who were frustrated with the poor quality of education that their autistic children were getting, and those who felt as if they weren’t getting enough support.

Lionsgate has gained the support of the Autism Society of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas and the Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic at the University of Minnesota.

Twin City malls tighten security due to Omaha shootings

According to the Pioneer Press:

Security measures are being adjusted at shopping malls around the Twin Cities in response to the Omaha shootings.

The shootings at the Westroads Mall in Omaha prompted mall owners across the country to take appropriate security measures.

19-year-old Robert Hawkins gunned down 11 people in the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall on Wednesday, killing eight and wounding three, before killing himself.

Local malls and the Mall of America have custom security plans, basing their security force on estimated crowd size.

A big tip-off that something is amiss is the shopper’s behavior, said Malachy Kavanagh, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers.

December 2, 2007

Demotion of a black detective sparks questions of racist motives

According to the Star Tribune:
The Minneapolis Police Department demoted black homicide detective Charlie Adams for alleged insubordination.

Activists Spike Moss and Ron Edwards, who spoke at a news conference at the Minneapolis Urban League, used a racial epithet to describe how the police department dealt with Adams.

Detective Adam’s supervisor, Chief Tim Dolan said that he transferred Adams to a less prominent unit after a series of insubordination incidents, one of which was the “last straw.?

Edwards and other activists at the new conference Friday cited examples of Dolan demoting three other high-ranking black officers during his first year as chief.

Council Member Ralph Remington who has publicly questioned Dolan’s decision, had a meeting with the police chief and he “…came away [from the meeting] with the feeling that there might be a window [for Adam’s possible return to the homicide unit].?

Robbinsdale writer of “Candy Girl? in the running for an Oscar

According to the Pioneer Press:

Brook Busey Hunt (“Diablo Cody?), is a 29-year-old Robbinsdale resident who wrote her memoir, “Juno,? that was eventually turned into a movie “Candy Girl,? a comedy stars Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner.

“Candy Girl? opens Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. The film will open Dec/ 14 in Minneapolis.

“Juno? has won best film in the Rome Film Festival. Breakthrough actress (Ellen Page) and breakthrough screenwriter (Diablo Cody) in the Hollywood Film Festival. And it has been nominated for best picture, best actress (Ellen Page) and best first screenplay (Diablo Cody) from the Independent Spirit Awards.

The former City Pages columnist wrote her screenplay at a Starbucks outlet in a Target store in Crystal.

Lucinda Winter, executive director of the Minnesota Film and Television Board said, “Last year, there were something like 3,600 films made that were submitted to the Sundance alone. One hundred of them actually got into Sundance, and of those, 14 got distributed in theaters.?

November 18, 2007

“Power hour? deemed dangerous to new 21-year-olds

According to the Star Tribune:

In 2005, Minnesota became the second state to outlaw the midnight-to 2am birthday celebrations, known to many as “power hour,? in hopes of discouraging dangerous drinking binges.

A 2006 study at Virginia Tech University found that the average male consumes 13 drinks on his 21st birthday, while the average woman, seven and a half.

The surveyed also showed that 32 percent of men and 26 percent of women ended up vomiting on their 21st birthday because they drank so much.

A third of all students experienced a blackout on their 21st birthday and 30 percent consumed enough alcoholic drinks to give them an estimated blood alcohol level of 0.28 or higher – which puts them at risk for alcohol poisoning.

University of Minnesota Prof. Toben Nelson has studied college student drinking trend for the past decade, both here in Minneapolis and at Harvard.

“It’s cheaper to binge drink than it is to go to a first-run movie in many college towns,? Nelson said. “It’s cheap, highly social entertainment and there’s an industry around supplying alcohol to college students.?

MOA channels Fifth Avenue in new upscale luxury boutiques

According to the Pioneer Press:

New boutiques such as Burberry, Chanel and Gucci have opened up at the Mall of America.

For most luxury goods and services firms, 20 percent of the shoppers will deliver 80 percent of the profits, according to the Luxury Institute, which is based in New York.

International tourists from Europe and Japan are more likely to shop in trendy luxury stores, and may be more interested in trips to the Mall of America for economic steals because to the weak exchange rate of the U.S. dollar.

"My belief is that the high-end consumer is still going to spend. That's going to be the one hiding place," said Patricia Edwards, an analyst with Wentworth Hauser & Violich in Seattle. "But the high-end consumer isn't the affordable luxury customer, and that's the catch."

Some new luxury goods, often thought of as affordable luxury, are now selling for 1.5 times the middle-market price goods.

Luxury spending has doubled since 2003 to $600 billion, with many analysts crediting celebrities and fashion designers for the increase.

Stores such as Burberry, which once was in downtown Minneapolis, are often destinations by themselves. "That's a good way to reinforce a shopping center," said David Brennan, co-director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas. "The more stores you have as destinations, the more insulated you'll be."

November 11, 2007

Coen brothers pay homage to local pharmacist

According to the Star Tribune:

Mike Zoss opened his drugstore in 1950, and has since then influenced the move-making Coen brothers to name their production company “Mike Zoss Productions,? be referenced in their upcoming movie “No Country for Old Men.?

Barry Zoss, Mike’s son, got a call nine years ago from Frances McDormand, the Oscar-winning actress who is Joel Coen’s wife. The Coen brothers wanted to know if it would be OK with Bary if they renamed their production company, “Mike Zoss Productions.?

More recently, nine months ago Barry got a phone call from the Coen brothers who wanted the name the pharmacy in their upcoming movie after his dad’s pharmacy.

Before they were famous filmmakers, the Coen brothers grew up in St. Louis Park and hung out in Mike Zoss Drugs on Minnetonka Boulveard.

The Coen brothers called one more time, they invited Barry Zoss and his family to the premiere of their new movie that happened last Sunday.

“They're just releasing this film, they're in the process of shooting another, and they're already starting one this winter in St. Louis Park,? he said. “And yet they had this desire to honor my father by taking the time to make sure the camera panned just right. They've got enough on their minds that they don't have to worry about that.?

Beckham-mania hits the Twin Cities

11-11-07_1807.jpg
Photo by: Bethany Khan

According to Star Tribune:

The Minnesota Thunder lose 3-2 to the LA Galaxy in a shoot-out Sunday at the Metrodome.

Fans were torn as they struggled with the decision of cheering for their local MN team versus cheering for international superstar David Beckham, 32.

20, 123 people turned up for the exhibition match to watch the famous celebrity who has rapidly turned into a worldwide celebrity.


Beckham’s decision to join the Galaxy and leave Real Madrid and Europe for an eye-raising salary in Major League Soccer was hailed as the ultimate move that would put soccer on the map for Americans.

MLS chose Beckham to gain credibility and recognition, as well as his marketing appeal, his effect on style, and his swooning good looks.

Beckham, who played for 73 minutes, was credited with an assist on the Galaxy’s goal.

Not a single person in the audience booed Beckham, instead, every time he came close to any side of the soccer field, digital cameras flashed as if he were on the red carpet at a movie premiere.


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Photo by: Bethany Khan

November 4, 2007

Senator Coleman supports Giuliani for president

According to the Guardian Unlimited:

Senator Norm Coleman said Thursday that he is backing republican Rudy Giuliani for president.

"The shared vision as mayor of getting things done, tied in with his strong stance on security, Rudy gets that," Coleman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Thursday. "So you tie those two together and it's a pretty powerful combination.''

Giuliani has a motto that he is “ultimately electable,? a pitch that Coleman has publicly concurred with.

Coleman and Giuliani have a lot in common: both are former mayors, both are natives of Brooklyn, New York. Both are former prosecutors, and both are former Democats.

Coleman said he would not consider serving as Giuliani’s running mate.

Racists target black students at St. Thomas students with hate messages

According to the Star Tribune:

Three black females at the University of St. Thomas have been receiving racial threats and messages.

This week, at least three cases of hate messages have been reported, all of the recipients are black.

The messages were written on pieces of paper and slipped under the door or written on the student’s residence hall door.

One of the women found a threatening message slipped under the door while she was working in a computer lab on-campus.

School officials and police have no leads yet.

In an e-mail sent to faculty, students and staff on Tuesday evening, President Dease said, “I am so very sorry that this has happened. On behalf of the university, I extend my sincerest apologies to each of the students. I have said in the past and will continue to say that hate crimes in any form at St. Thomas are not tolerated and must be condemned.?
This is not the first case of a hate crime at St. Thomas, earlier this year racial slurs were found written on posters in one of the halls and lounges; a month later, a second note was found on a poster in another lounge.

October 28, 2007

Ex-band teacher violates probation for teen sex felony, sent to workhouse for six months

According to the Pioneer Press:

Joseph Arne Tucker, a former Como Park High School band teacher as violated his court order to stay away from the 17-year-old student that he had oral sex with.

Tucker, 29, pled guilty Aug. 3 to felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and was ordered to not communicate with the student, whom he met while working on a school production of “Cinderella.?

On Aug. 12 Tucker used a ladder and climbed up to the girl’s bedroom and that’s when her father found them together.

The student is not pressing charges against Tucker, and the Ramsey County District Judge M. Michael Monahan who is presiding over the case said that she will not be called a victim during this case, according to her wishes.

Tucker has resigned from the high school, lost his teaching license, and is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with minors, including his two children, of whom his wife would like him to have visitation rights.

If Tucker had not violated his probation mandate to stay away from his former student, he would have been granted rights to see his children, but because he did not adhere to the ruling, he will be sent to the Ramsey County Workhouse for six months.

Minnesotans to rescue India in the next two years

According to the Star Tribune:

73 Minnesotans toured India with Governor Pawlenty and experienced India’s poverty, and lack of services that these local companies have solutions for.

Minnesota business owners “watched in horror? as children ran about in tons of garbage in Indian landfills and at the residents who live in the shanty villages.

Former Honeywell engineer John Howard and his partner Steve Korstad are hoping to bring their business of turning garbage into gas to India. Their plan could burn 200 to 500 tons of garbage a day.

The duo businessman have dubbed themselves as the “Minnesota Twins? and their plant, Coronal represents a chance to use India’s plasma-gasification technology to create biofuel, make a profit, and improve the conditions for some of the poorest Indians – all at the same time.

Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries, a precision machining company recognizes that India is often seen as an outsourcing threat by many small-business owners, but she sees India as a tool to help her $56 million machine shop.

October 21, 2007

Fridley teen chooses dream date over dream concert

According the Pioneer Press:

Haley Fowler, 17 had to choose between seeing Hannah Montana or going on a date with “High School Musical? star Corbin Bleu.

The Totino-Grace High School senior, chose the date with Bleu, giving her ticket to her younger sister.

Fowler has to leave on Sunday for Los Vegas for her date, which is the same night as the sold-out Hannah Montana

"I'm so excited, but it hasn't really hit me yet," said the college-bound senior, who wants to manage rock bands someday.

Minnesota interested in India…at last!

According to the Star Tribune:

Governor Pawlenty took a trade delegation of 70 Minnesotans to India on Saturday for a weeklong visit to the world’s second-fastest-growing economy.

Pawlenty wants to tap into the rising market that currently consists of more than 300 million middle-class Indians.

"India is essentially new territory to Minnesota...We think the market is largely untapped," Pawlenty said.

Minneapolis-based Graco Inc. imports 100 percent of its made-in-Minnesota equipment that it sells in India.

"India is still new to us," Chris Koch, Pacific-Asia vice president for Graco said. "Hopefully, having the governor, with the power and the attraction that he brings ... can help us [see] where we should be investing

October 14, 2007

Fridley teen wins date with High School Musical actor

According to the Star Tribune:

Haley Fowler, 17, from Fridley won a dream date with “High School Musical? star Corbin Bleu.

Fowler, a Totino-Grace High School senior entered a “Twas the Night Before Prom?-themed loved poem to a teen magazine contest last spring, with the grand prize being a date with Bleu.

Her winning poem included this line: “I ran to the door / I flew like a flash / and there stood my dream date, Corbin Bleu wearing the prom king sash.?

Fowler will fly to Los Angeles in eight days for her dream date.

Rape suspect arrested due to women’s testimony and video camera evidence

According to the Star Tribune:

A woman who was abducted from the 38th Street light-rail platform and raped, provided details, along with security cameras which helped investigators find the suspect, who is now in custody.

The victim was alone waiting for a train at 1:55 a.m., when the suspect approached her, put a gun to her back, and then forced her to leave the light-rail platform and go into a laundry facility in an apartment building where he beat and raped her, and stole her purse.

This was the first abduction on the Minneapolis light-rail since the train system began in 2004.

All of Metro Transit’s 17 light-rail stations, 27 train cars, and 850 buses have video cameras.

There have been 382 reported rapes so far in 2007.

“Rapists often find public places, such as bus stops, to be good places to take advantage of women,? said Linda Ledray, director of the Hennepin County Medical Center's Sex Assault Resource Service.

Ledray also said that rapes committed by strangers are not as common as rapes committed by acquaintances.

October 7, 2007

New addition to the Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park

According to the Star Tribune:

The Salvation Army is acquiring a new building in Brooklyn Park.

The new addition to the large Salvation Army Northbrook Worship and Community Center will double in size

The new building will have a gym and more classrooms due to be finished within a year.

“This community really needs after-school programs,? said Ed Wilson, who runs the Salvation Army in Brooklyn Park.

The addition will hopefully fulfill the growing demand for youth activities and gym spaces in order to accommodate daily after-school programs and other community building events.

Daily after-school programs and other events are available and offered to the communities of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Crystal, New Hope, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Osseo, Champlin, Dayton, Rogers, Hassan, Hanover and Corcoran.

Minnesota 150’s anniversary is honored with a new stamp

According to the Star Tribune:

In honor of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary a new commemorative stamp will be released next year from the U.S. Postal Service.

The image features an aerial view of the Mississippi River near Winona.

This 2008 version contrasts with the 1958 commemorative stamp which showed a northern lake with pine trees running along the waterfront.

Richard Hamilton Smith of Park Rapids took the picture and was present at the unveiling Saturday at Winona State University.

Minnesota’s anniversary date is May 11, 2008.

Bells are set to ring throughout the state on May 11 in honor of the Minnesota sesquicentennial celebration.

September 30, 2007

Police officers aren’t color-blind. True story.

According to the Star Tribune:

A case about excessive force against an innocent man brings the issue of racial bias into the court.

Al Hixon, 47, from Golden Valley, found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when police officers pepper sprayed him and threw him face-down onto the pavement just in front of a gas station where he had been doing some light maintenance to his Jaguar.

Hixon still doesn’t know why police officers arrested him even though the 911 dispatchers repeatedly told officers that the robber who took $7 from an ATM machine near the gas station that the robber was white –not black.

"If this is a black thing, you've got the wrong black man," Hixon pleaded to the officer who planted his boot on his neck.

Hixon is still in disbelief to the amount of racial profiling that occurred in his situation, and never imaged that he would have to put up with such unjust treatment so far away from where he grew up in Alabama.

This month a federal jury (all eight of whom were white) awarded Hixon $778,000 including $450,000 in punitive damages. This is the largest excessive-force jury awards in Minnesota to date.

Officials say violence is a public health issue

According to the Star Tribune:

Police officials gather in Schaumburg, Illinois to fight against rising juvenile crime in Minneapolis.

They hope to get at the root of the problem by treating the issue of violence among children and teenagers as a public health issue.

There was a conference recently in Schaumburg, Ill that introduced this holistic approach revealed that the juvenile crime rate has gone down in Minneapolis by 20 percent.

50 percent of all crime in Minneapolis is comprised of juvenile crime.

Mayor R.T. Ryback presented at the National Summit on Violent Crime in America.

Ryback and other presenters wanted to know if the high rate of juvenile crime is unique to Minneapolis.

The answer? “No.? From all over the country, juvenile crime rate is rapidly rising and the summit identified a few contributing factors: more accessibility to guns on the street, willingness of perpetrators to shoot at police officers, and the increasing rate of undocumented immigrants who are committing crime.

"The face of violence is young, both victims and suspects," said Providence, R.I., Police Chief Dean Esserman.

September 23, 2007

St. Paul man charged in a fowl crime

According to the Star Tribune, a 26-year-old man who was staying at the Embassy Suites hotel in St. Paul was arrested Saturday on suspicion of felony cruelty to animal after he ripped the head off of a live duck.

The Denver businessman was taken into custody, booked in jail, and is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

According to the police, the hotel keeps about eight domesticated ducks inside an ornamental pond, which is located in the hotel’s main lobby.

At about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, the man chased down one of the ducks, ripped its head from its body, while yelling to onlookers that he was hungry.

According to the Pioneer Press, the hotel’s security guards detained the man until the police arrived. Police said that he spent Saturday night in the Ramsey County Jail and they were not aware of him having any previous criminal record.

*Note: The Star Tribune has not printed the man’s name citing, “The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects until they are formally charged.? The Pioneer Press has published the name of the man – Scott D. Clark, 26.

12-year-old girl shot in Mpls

According to the Star Tribune, a 12-year-old girl is hospitalized after being shot in the head Saturday morning.

Vernice Hall hasn’t regained consciousness since Saturday and is in critical condition at the Hennepin County Medical Center. Her father said that a part of her skull as removed because of brain swelling and bleeding.

"I just want my baby to look at me one more time," said Vernice’s father, Steve Hall.

There was a party at Hall’s home in the 1800 block of Oliver Avenue N. He said it was for his children and their friends, and that about 45 guests attended. He said that there had been no fighting - just dancing and music.

Vernice, known to friends and family as Lil Star, was sitting outside on the porch when Hall said he heard several gunshots fired. He ran to the porch.

“I seen my baby lying on the ground,? Hall said, "Our hearts are just ... I'm angry and I'm trying to be understanding, man.?

According to the Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Police said that the Lil Star’s wounds are “very grave,? but they did not comment on a possible motive for the shooting, and said that no arrests have been made.

"They just do that on the North Side. They just shoot into parties," said Brandi Summers, a 13-year-old who lives on Oliver Avenue. "I'm scared. I'm scared now."

September 16, 2007

Name the new tropical-flavored apple from the University of Minnesota's garden

According to the Pioneer Press, a new apple is in need of a formal title.
The apple now known as MN447, was not originally intended for commercial release, but because of its unusual shape and taste, breeders at the University of Minnesota are willing to try their new apple out on what they hope are more adventurous consumers.
The apple breeders are looking for a unique name to go with their newest apple’s tropical flavor.
Minnesotans can submit names to the Arboretum nd the winner will in return will get a free bag of apples.
According the Star Tribune , the MN-447 will only be available to a limited number of orchards..
The apple has a few fans, but most tasters don't find the apple's tropical flavor appealing.
The MN-447 is the grandparent of one of the most famous apples to be discovered at the University of Minnesota - the Honeycrisp.
* The Pioneer Press's article was written by the AP, whereas the Star Tribune's article was not. The Pioneer Press referred to the new apple by MN447, while the Star Tribune used a hyphen in its title (MN-447). The Pioneer Press focused its article entirely on the new release of the apple MN447, while the Star Tribune gave a history of other apples released from the University of Minnesota, and also a little blurb on the notable breeder David Bedford.

Mpls bathroom now famous due to Senator

According to the Associated Press, lately more and more tourists have been asking for directions to the bathroom in the Minneapolis airport.
They all want to see the bathroom stall in the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport made famous by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested June 11.
The Idaho Republican pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct, and then retracted his guilty plea saying that it was a mistake.
Craig's incidents made the bathroom stall infamous and now, tourists from everwhere are making sure to stop by and visit the bathroom when they arrive to Minneapolis.
Visitors have been frequenting the bathroom, taking pictures of the stall itself, and taking pictures outside the bathroom door, said Royal Zino, The Royal Zino Shoeshine shop owner's grandson.