November 2011 Archives

The Minneapolis School District will be reopening schools that were once closed due to an expected increase in enrollment.

Over the next five years there will be about 2,000 new students in the K-8 schools, and Tuesday night the school board approved the reopening of two schools to make room for the expanding number of students.

The Howe school building will be reopened after being vacant for years and in the 2013 school year it will serve as a school from preschool to fifth grade. Additionally the Webster building, which is currently being used for administration will reopen as an early childhood center.

Michael Thomas, Associate Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools, told KARE 11, "We have worked very closely with the community through numerous community engagement sessions to get their input." He also said the school district worked with building, administration, and central administration staff to come up with a comprehensive plan that will benefit students.

The developments will occur over the next few years with some schools reopening as early as 2012, and the district has already begun contacting parents.

The new schools will mean new jobs for licensed teachers, paraprofessionals, councilors, and special education staff. The district says it will have a better idea of staff requirements in spring.

Over half of UK schools closed by pension strike

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Classrooms were silent Wednesday as teachers and head teachers were out on the streets in protest of pension reforms to the public sector.

John Kaline, head teacher of South Cave Primary in East Yorkshire, told BBC News about his participation in the strikes., "I have mixed emotions. I'm sad about having to take this action in 35 years, and angry that I believe we have not had genuine consultation until this point."

Teachers were out in force today, gathering in public squares and in front of government buildings holding signs and shouting with solidarity. They say they will have to work longer and pay more for a smaller eventual pension under the new reforms.

Small business owner, Phil Jones, disagrees with the strikes saying, "I think the public sector has had pretty good pension arrangements for quite some time, and if you compare it to the private sector there is a major disparity."

With many teachers and head teachers out on strike, of the UK's 27,152 schools 18,342 were closed, forcing parents to stay home to care for their children who are normally in school.

Jacqui Painter had to take the day off work to care for her son Oliver, whose school was closed. "I'm okay about people going on strike," she told BBC News, "I can understand why and feel it's justified."

Not all parents are okay with taking the day off. Rhoda Munn, was forced to take the day off to care for her children, losing her day's wages.

Kids have enjoyed their day off from school, but with no apparent resolution to the standoff parents are wondering if this will happen again.

Herman Cain Denies 13-Year-Long Affair

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Herman Cain denied allegations that he had carried on a 13-year affair with Atlanta business woman Ginger White.

Tuesday afternoon White told WAGA TV in Atlanta saying there are documents to back up her allegations in the form of phone and texting records.

"It was pretty simple. It wasn't complicated, and I was aware that he was married and I was aware that I was involved in an inappropriate situation," ABC News reported.

Before the Atlanta new station aired White's story, Cain, in a preemptive strike went on CNN saying he knew the allegation was coming and denied having sexual relations with the woman he said he knew for 13 years.

"The thing that I'm worried about is the impact it's going to have on my family because they should not be subjected to false accusations that cannot be proved," Cain, an ordained Baptist minister, said.

Cain has had two women from the National Restaurant Association talk to media outlets alleging sexual harassment against the presidential candidate. Sharon Beal said that Cain groped her when she asked for help with her job, and Karen Crasshower received a 46,000 dollar settlement after Cain propositioned her for sex.

Cain's lawyers didn't speak on the subject. They said the matters were private and not appropriate matters for media to discuss.

Woman killed on I-94 identified

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It was 6:30, and it was still dark as Steve Feldman headed to work on Interstate I-94 Thursday morning.

The freeway near Seventh Street in Minneapolis was busy with morning commuters driving at least 60 mph. Suddenly Feldman noticed cars were swerving, he figured to get out of the way of an animal, and he prepared himself to veer right. It wasn't until he got closer that he saw it was a person standing on the dashed line between the first and second lanes on the right shoulder, City Pages reported.

According to KEYC Mankato, The Minnesota State Patrol reported that the woman walked into traffic and laid down before being struck by multiple vehicles.

No identification was found on the woman, but the Hennepin County medical examiner has identified her as Melissa Lewis, a 38-year-old woman from Minneapolis.

Authorities still don't know why Lewis chose to lay down on the highway, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Instinct can be a pilot's worst enemy during disaster

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The plane nosedives and the cabin begins to shake so the pilot pulls back on the control stick, a motion completely guided by instinct.

The feeling in your stomach is very uncomfortable -- it's scary," Jean-Pierre Otelli, a veteran flight instructor, acrobatic pilot and author of a series of books on aviation safety, told the New York Times.

In July French accident investigators published a report in on the 2009 stall and crash of an Air France jet over the Atlantic, and there has been much debate in the subsequent months about why the pilots failed to take appropriate action in the four minutes it took the plane to plummet from 38,000 feet before hitting the water.

The increasing prominence of human error as a factor in fatal crashes like Air France Flight 447 is a distressing phenomenon and according to Bloomberg, the French Pilots Union are calling for a more independent inquiry into the crash that killed all 228 people aboard.

During an investigation France's Bureau of Investigations and Analysis found that the two co-pilots in the crash had not been trained to fly in manual mode at high altitude or to recognize the approach to, and recovery from, a high-altitude stall, the New York Times reported.

The plane crashed after ice-blocked speed sensors shut down the autopilot and the crew incorrectly reacted by pulling the jet into a steep climb until it slowed to an aerodynamic stall, the BEA said in May.

According to the New York Times, critics said they welcomed the regulators' recognition of the problem, but feel they should have amended training regulations more swiftly.

8-year-old math phenomenon in St. Paul

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Mani Chadaga slumped low in his front-row seat on the first day of algebra, and pretended to read his new textbook, but he could only make himself so unnoticeable. He was a second grader in a junior high math class at the St. Paul's Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School.

A third grader who is taking Algebra II and Geometry, Mani quickly got over his shyness and soon was coming up with solutions to the teachers problems and helping classmates solve answers.

Mani's parents, Vivek and Juila Chadaga wonder how they will keep things interesting for Mani in the future, not only in classroom but outside of it as well. Mani has done well at the St. Paul Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School, showing how schools have responded to advanced learners like Mani, but he is constantly challenging himself.

I am not the best at anything, so I want to improve at everything," said the 8-year-old to the Pioneer Press.

His curiousity for numbers started around 2 or 3, when his parents say he invented a mythology around numbers and even was a number 4 as a Halloween costume. As Mani has grown up he asked questions about the practically of math, and he has devised ways to use math in the real world with his father by measuring shadows or swing sets.

Heidi Geimer hopes the school system will find ways to continue to push Mani academically, but she doesn't doubt he will keep pushing himself. She said, "with Mani, you know in your heart of hearts he's going to grow up and do good for the world."

Christmas Tree Tax?

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The sun had a razor sharp glare, painting the fields golden and the trees behind them black against the faded blue sky.

There was a truck pulled over on the Minnesota highway, near Point Park in Duluth. It was a Ford late 1940s one ton red cab with a bundle of Christmas trees tied together with twine.

On Nov. 8 the U.S. Department of Agriculture established a "national research and promotion program for Christmas trees" according to the Federal Register. The Christmas Tree Checkoff Task Force recommended funding the campaign with an initial 15-cent assessment on domestic fresh-tree producers and importers the Florida Times-Union reported.

According to the Pioneer Press, members of the Minnesota Growers Association are only a handful of growers seeing declining sales. . As the economy has faltered, so have sales of real trees. The debate amongst growers about the merits of constructing a campaign that would be administered through the Department of Agriculture has been debated for years.

The assessment will not be paid by consumers but by growers and producers. There was confusion about the assessment, forcing the Obama administration to postpone the program indefinitely on Nov. 9, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Julian Koslowski and two other members of the search party reached the waste water treatment plant as storm clouds formed over the Mille Lacs Indian reservation in Minnesota.

Near the facility, the search party noticed two pathways of flattened grass. One was thin and the other was thick about the size a body would be if it were dragged through the grass. They also noticed tire tracks as the rain poured down from the black sky.

The body of 19-year-old William Nickaboine was so badly maimed, burned, and beaten it was hardly recognizable as a corpse. The word of his death spread quickly across the 60,000-acre Ojibwe reservation along Lake Mille Lacs. There are about 4,000 close neighbors and families who are still quieted by Nickaboine's death a year later, City Pages reported.

Nickaboine's death was the latest of many on the reservation, which has seen increased shootings, muggings, and drugs, much of which the Ojibwe attribute to a new gang called the Native Mob.shootings, muggings, and drugs, much of which the Ojibwe attribute to a new gang called the Native Mob.

According to gang experts, most gangs on reservations appear to be poorly organized. Mahnomen County gang and drug officer Jason Wambach says so far it seems like internal fighting is what's keeping the gang problem from exploding on the reservations, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

The Mille Lacs reservation has revived an ancient form of punishment- banishment. According to City Pages, it is legally called "exclusion" and forbids the offender from entering the land of the reservation for at least five years.

The exclusion punishment has its problems, according to City Pages. "It's impossible to just sit around and patrol for people who have been excluded," says Matthew Fletcher, a tribal law professor from Michigan State University who studies banishment.

The enforcement of banishment is one of the reasons that it is controversial amongst the community. It has also been debated that it is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, as it robs those banished of their identity and their place on the reservation.

Authorities are looking for the individuals that set 17 fires in the Longfellow neighborhood in south Minneapolis, KARE reported.

According to the Star Tribune, 17 fires were set between 8:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. in a 13-block area near West River Parkway.

Police said the fires were intentionally set, and were randomly set throughout the neighborhood. Ten fires started in leaf piles or in garage bags and three vehicles were also hit, as were two garages and a garbage dumpster, the Star Tribune reported.

Approximately 20 Minneapolis police squads from all five precincts, 40 officers in all, and the Special Operations Division were searching in the area overnight, according to KARE.

The police have questioned several people in the area but no arrests have been made in connection with the fires.

Penn State drops in college football polls

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Penn State fell nine spots in both college football polls Sunday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

More than 107,000 people attended the Saturday game at Beaver Stadium for Penn State's first game in 46 years without head coach Joe Paterno, who was fired amidst a child abuse sex scandal, Reuters reported.

After an emotional The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls with a record of 8-2 (5-1 in the Big Ten). Penn State ranked No. 12 last week in the AP and USA Today coaches' polls, according to the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette.

Fans filled Beaver Stadium for the first time since charges were brought against assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky for the assault of eight boys over the decade, Reuters reported.

The fans stood in support of their team, wearing blue shirts, the color associated with a national "stop child abuse" campaign, instead of the usually white, and the players and officials knelt at midfield to pray before the game.

Penn State travels to Ohio State Saturday.

Ramsey County reaches deal on Arden Hill Site

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Commissioners in Ramsey County made a tentative deal to buy the proposed site for the Vikings stadium in Arden Hills Thursday.

Zygi Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings, said that they would pay significantly less than the pledged $400 million for a stadium not in the preferred suburban St. Paul location.

"We're committed to the Arden Hills site for what it brings to the fans, but we're also committed to investing over $400 million in specific to the Arden Hills site for the experiences that everyone can get from Arden Hills," Wilf told The Associated Press. "Any other location besides Arden Hills wouldn't justify near that level of commitment."

Tony Bennett and Rafael Ortega, county commissioners, wrote letters to Gov. Mark Dayton and other legislators saying the price of the 430-acre property won't exceed the budgeted $30 million, the Star Tribune reported. Ortega said that the county has until Aug 1, 2012 to make a decision about 28.5 million dollar property without paying a penalty.

The Vikings have been pitching a new stadium to replace the outdated Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis for almost a decade. According to The Associated Press, the lease on the Metrodome ends after this season and fans are worried that the team will end up in Los Angeles.

This year the Vikings partnered with Ramsey County for the 1.1 billion dollar proposal. The local government had offered $350 million from a sales-tax increase to pay its share of the bill; however, last week Dayton ruled out a county wide tax-hike to cover stadium costs.

Funding still remains a mystery, but government officials are working on it. According to the Star Tribune the county is left with a $650 million share, with the Vikings paying around $400 million.

"Avoiding the issue, as seems to have been taking place in the last couple of weeks, does not work," Wilf told the Star Tribune. "It only gets more difficult and more expensive. We're very encouraged by leadership of both houses and the governor in trying to bring a stadium solution front and center."

Earthquake in Turkey kills three

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An earthquake in eastern Turkey Wednesday night killed at least three people and left dozens more trapped under the rubble of buildings.

About 20 buildings collapsed after the 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck 9 miles south of the city Van, the Guardian reported. According to USA Today, most of the buildings were empty or had been declared unfit from the previous 7.2 magnitude quake on Oct. 23 that left thousands homeless.

At least three bodies have been recovered so far and more then 100 people are believed to be trapped under the rubble. According to Anatolian news agency, rescuers have pulled 11 people alive from the rubble, the Guardian reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay told USA Today that the quake toppled a school, a hotel, and a number of mudbrick homes. Rescue teams are on their way from Ankara, the capital.

This earthquake comes just three weeks after stronger earthquake killed 600 people and left many homeless. Many have been living in tents and workers have been clearing the debris of the previous earthquake for more than a week.

Gophers Hockey No. 1 in polls

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For the first time in three years, the Gopher Hockey team can call themselves No. 1.

According to 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, the Gophers jumped from No. 5 to No. 1 in both national hockey polls on Monday. They received 32 of a possible 50 votes in the United States College Hockey Online poll and 27 out of 34 votes in the USA Today/ USA Hockey Magazine poll.

Coach Don Lucia told the Star Tribune, "We are 10 games into the season. I look at it as a reward to the players for the work they put in and their accomplishments so far. But there is a good 65 to 70 percent of the season to play."

The only loss on the Gophers 9-1-0 record is a 5-4 nonconference loss to Vermont. Since the loss on Oct. 23 the Gophers have swept Alaska-Anchorage and North Dakota

The last time the Gophers were No. 1 was late in November 2008, the Star Tribune reports, but lost the spot after only 2 weeks. The Gophers take the No. 1 spot, which previously belonged to Boston College before they lost to Massachusetts on Saturday.

1500 ESPN reports, The Gophers travel to Madison Friday night for a two-game series.


Former Minnesota Public Radio host and Prairie Home Companion sound effects master, died on November 1, when he suddenly collapsed in his Woodbury home. He was 64.

According to the Pioneer Press,Garrison Keillor said in an email statement that the cause of death was a heart attack.

Keith worked at MPR for 25 years. Keith attended the University of Minnesota where he was a standout baseball player and after college joined the Marines, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

He applied to MPR as a board operator, then a small operations and ended up working with Garrison Keillor who praised Keith's creativity in his sound effects, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

"He was a master at creating effects with physical items, in addition to his acting and vocal skills," colleague Tim Russell told the Pioneer Press. "It's a rare commodity. It's hard to replace something like that."

Farc leader Alfonso Cano died

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Alfonso Cano, who has died at 63, had been the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Colombia's larges left-wing rebel group, since 2008.

Born Guillermo Leon Saenz, to a middle class family in Bogota in 1948, he studied anthropology and law at National University in the capital, according to BBC News. It was there he was drawn to radical leftism and became an important student leader and joined the youth wing of the Colombia Communist Party (PCC).

BBC News reports that Cano is believed to have joined FARC sometime in the late 1970s. He quickly rose in rank throughout the organization with his political knowledge and quick rhetoric. According to the Guardian, the chief ideologue, Luis Alberto Morantes (known as Jacobo Arenas) took Cano under his wing and when Arenas died in 1990, Cano became the chief political negotiations.

He led the negotiation team at peace talks with Venezuela, 1991, and Mexico,1992, which both ended in failure. The Guardian reports that this may have lead Cano to conclude that talking was ineffective and Cano remained skeptical and kept a low profile.

By the time of his death over 200 warrants had been issued for his arrest. The charges included terrorism, murder and kidnapping. BBC News reports that the Colombian military had him cornered in his Tolima home; however, Cano was able to escape.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos told BBC News that the government was breathing down Santos' neck. He was hunted and shot down by elite Colombian army troops on Friday, November 4th. Cano left behind a wife and son when he joined the insurgency.

Minnesota boy genius could have a doctorate by 18

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Most students enter college hoping to find a career, study hard but party harder and graduate in three or four years, but 11-year-old Lucas Kramer could have a doctorate by the time he is 18.

Most kids his age are studying in sixth grade but Lucas is almost finished with high school and spends most of his time on the University of Minnesota campus. He hangs out at Coffman to eat lunch, nap or read a book from the library for "fun"- a book on the chemical property called Aromaticity, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Lucas is a part of the PSEO program at the university and has been involved in the Minnesota Virtual Academy as well, which he was involved in since he was 8 until he "exhausted all those courses".

Angela, Lucas' mom, attends his classes with him and told CBS Minnesota that her son hit many developmental milestones early. He was identifying letters by 7 or 8 months, read three-letter words before age 2 and read college-level books before age 5, she said.

In terms of his future, Lucas doesn't have many plans, but he does want to earn his doctorate. "We just take one day at a time," Angela told the Minnesota Daily. "We always say wherever God opens the door, we don't know how it'll work or how things will happen, but He just does."

God is a big influence in Lucas' life and wants to attend the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas once he is old enough to become a priest. In the meantime Lucas will major in either chemical engineering or material science after he is finished with PSEO, which will most likely be in spring of 2013.

"No point in sitting on the couch eating Cheetos," Angela said. "You might as well do something good with your time."

Pete Dexter talks booze, bruises and books

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Pete Dexter, legendary columnist, novelist, acclaimed screenwriter and now part of an anthology celebrating some of the nation's greatest newspaper wordsmiths, is hard at work on his eighth novel, something he might not have lived to do.

The night he was beaten almost to death in a sketchy Philadelphia neighborhood is Dexter's signature biographical moment, launching his trajectory from reporter to novelist, writing some of the most original and important novels in American literature, City Pages reported.

Dexter feels differently about the incident, "I'm sick and tired of the story," Dexter told City Pages.

The story he is referring to started with a column he wrote for the Philadelphia Daily News that was published on December 9, 1981. The intent of the column was to applaud efforts to stop the spread of drugs in Ferry's Grey, a blue-collar, Irish- Catholic neighborhood, but instead it outraged a family and the neighborhood.

The incident ended with Dexter having a broken pelvis, a cracked femur, nerve damage to his hands, a concussion, bleeding on the brain, and a spine fractured in two places. His scalp required 90 stitches, according to City Pages.

Dexter now resides in a house in Clinton (the Dexter's moved in 18 years ago), where he writes seven days a week in the guesthouse, City Pages reported, and he sticks to an unwavering routine. He writes for hours, always in the dead of night.

He is currently working on his next novel, which centers on an elephant named Blossom, who performs in a small traveling circus but he won't say much more than that to City Pages, mainly because he's not sure where the project is heading. He does know it will have a less serious tone then his other novels that made him a literary star, particularly Paris Trout.

A half-orphaned kid raised in South Dakota and Illinois, Dexter's birth dad died when he was around three years old, a tragedy friends and colleges say still haunt him, what former Daily News editor Zack Stalberg calls, "the wounded-creature aspect to Pete."

Dexter worked at many different publications. He started at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and then moved to the Palm Beach Post, the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Phildadelphia Daily News, and in 1986 he moved to west coast to work for the Sacramento Bee.

Jim Trotter, a colleague of Dexter's at the Post and now Western States Enterprise Editor for the Associated Press in Phoenix, told City Pages one his many Dexter stories, "Pete invented a drink back in those days called a beagle. Basically, it was a quart of rum, a small bottle of lime juice, and a dash of Pepsi in a one-gallon Coleman picnic jug. That led to the Mighty Beagle Army, and you had to perform tricks with the jug to move up in rank. One night, we got kicked out of this woman's party for throwing the jug across her living room, arguing over who had the prettier spiral."

Although life has slowed down for Dexter- he hardly ever drinks, lives a relatively solitary life with his wife of 30 years, Dian, and spends his free times playing with his dogs- he still reminisces fondly of the people and places that got him into so much trouble.

"You get to revisit your past, and when I do that, I've come around to thinking, you know, that people are who they are."

Dorothy Rodham, mother of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady and the Secretary of State, died Tuesday in Washington. She was 92.

The family said Rodham died surrounded by family at Washington Hospital. Mrs. Clinton cancelled engagements in London and Istanbul to be by her mother's side, The Washington Post reported.

According to The New York Times, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged Rodham as being a driving force for the person she is, yet Rodham stayed in the background, appearing only occasionally in public and selectively giving interviews.

Clinton portrayed her mother as being the symbol of strength in her family, teaching her children to be calm and determined.

The Washington Post reported that in a statement the Rodham family praised Rodham as a women who "overcame abandonment and hardship as a young girl to become the remarkable woman she was -- a warm, generous and strong woman; an intellectual; a woman who told a great joke and always got the joke; an extraordinary friend and, most of all, a loving wife, mother and grandmother."

Dorothy Emma Howell was born on June 4, 1919 in Chicago to Edwin John Howell and Della Murray, who fought often and sometimes violently according to Cook County records. She was the older of two children, her sister Isabelle was born in 1924, The New York Times reported.

According to the Washington Post, Her parents divorced when she was 8, and Rodham and her sister were sent to their paternal grandparents in California.The grandparents were not prepared to raise the two children, who were often punished harshly and discouraged from having visitors.

Dorothy moved out when 14, finding a job as a $3-a -week nanny during the Depression, and on her own enrolled in school and upon graduating she moved back to Chicago at her mother's request .

The New York Times reported it was there she met her husband Hugh Rodham, who died in 1993, and they raised 3 children together, Hugh, Tony and Hillary- they survive her, as do four grandchildren.

According to the Washington Post, in a debate during the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton called her mother her inspiration, "I owe it to my mother, who never got a chance to go to college, who had a very difficult childhood, but who gave me a belief that I could do whatever I set my mind."

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