Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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News,Science and Technology

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota's Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the funding plan for a new Vikings football stadium, eliminating a legal obstacle that threatened a last-minute derailment of the project.

Minnesota finance officials postponed a $468 million bond sale while the case was pending. After the ruling, the chairwoman of the government authority managing the construction said she believed the project could be kept on schedule, despite earlier worries about possible delays and cost overruns.

"We are confident that we will be able to move forward very quickly, to get the financing in place for the bond sale and to keep things on track," said Michele Kelm-Helgen, board chairwoman for the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

The nearly $1 billion stadium, on the Metrodome site in downtown Minneapolis, has a planned opening of July 2016.

Doug Mann, an activist and former Minneapolis mayoral candidate, filed the Supreme Court lawsuit on Jan. 10, arguing the stadium funding plan was unconstitutional. But the state's highest court disagreed.

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Deportation to Somalia could be "a potential death sentence" for a young woman who lied to a grand jury about raising money for men who left Minnesota to join a terrorist group in Somalia, her attorney argued in documents unsealed during her sentencing hearing Tuesday.

Prosecutors are asking for at least a two-year prison sentence for Saynab Hussein, arguing that she was involved in the conspiracy — and even warned the men to be careful in case the FBI was listening. But one of her attorneys said Hussein was merely a naive teenager who had no intent of promoting terrorism, and got caught up in something she didn't understand.

"Saynab Hussein is not a radical extremist," defense attorney Dulce Foster told the judge.

Defense attorneys also contended, in the court documents, that she should be sentenced to probation. They said a sentence of a year or longer would allow authorities to initiate deportation proceedings. Hussein is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and left Somalia when she was a year old.

Hussein, of Nashville, Tenn., had appeared in federal court in Minneapolis on Tuesday expecting to be sentenced on one count of perjury in connection with the government's long-running investigation into recruiting and financing for al-Shabab, a terrorist group with links to al-Qaida.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — GOP leaders in state Rep. Kurt Daudt's district plan a "no confidence" vote in him after the top Republican in the Minnesota House was detained by Montana authorities last September.

The vote was planned Tuesday night. The district's GOP leaders contend Daudt has not reached out to them about the gun incident Daudt was involved in and that he's not the fiscal conservative they thought he would be.

Daudt, of Crown, was detained by Montana authorities last September when a deal to buy a vintage truck soured and a friend accompanying him displayed the lawmaker's gun.

Two weeks ago, Daudt — the Minnesota House minority leader — publicly acknowledged the dispute after KSTP-TV reported on it.

Daudt's House spokeswoman told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1dtU5WMhttp://strib.mn/1dtU5WM ) Daudt was not available Tuesday afternoon.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Department of Natural Resources issued Tuesday the beginnings of a plan to boost Mille Lacs Lake's declining walleye population, starting with studies that could lead to tighter regulations for one of Minnesota's most popular fisheries.

The DNR said it plans to convene a panel of experts to review past and current management practices. It also plans to contract out for a review of how it conducts fish population estimates. And it plans a new study to determine how predator fish such as northern pike and smallmouth bass affect the survival of young walleyes.

DNR fisheries chief Don Pereira said a key problem is the vast majority of Mille Lacs' walleyes don't survive to their second autumn. While the lake's older, spawning walleyes produce more than enough eggs and fry to repopulate the lake, he said, the lake hasn't produced a strong year-class of walleye since 2008.

The announcement did not include changes to bag or size limits. Pereira said those will come after fisheries officials determine the "suite of regulations" necessary to get the lake back on track. Some walleye rule changes could come this spring, he said, though he'd prefer to stick with current regulations for the upcoming season.

Pereira acknowledged that current management practices have contributed to the decline. He said they were based on the best available information in the 1990s, after the courts ruled that Ojibwe bands still had treaty rights on the lake and before the arrival of harmful invasive species and declines in forage species. He said current practices have depleted too many walleyes between 15 and 18 inches. He said managers now know mortality should be spread over a broader size range.

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