Statewide: February 23, 2012 Archive
Minnesota students are participating this year for the first time in what organizers call the largest robotics competition in the world.
On Friday, 22 teams of about six students each from schools across northern Minnesota will compete at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls for a chance to go to the VEX Robotics World Championship later this spring in California.
There are competitions for middle school and high school age students.
By creating a robot to complete a specific task, the students learn about mechanical engineering, sensors, computer programming and problem solving, said NCTC Electronics Technology instructor Andrew Dahlen.
"These are things students don't have a lot of exposure to but really should," he said. "The aim of this entire initiative is to grow student interest in technology."
Last weekend, 23 teams from southern Minnesota met in St. Cloud. A team from Rockville, Minn., won that round of competition making them eligible for the championship in California where thousands of students from more than 20 countries compete.
The competition happens on a 12' by 12' mat. Students must move the robot around obstacles to complete tasks like picking up balls or barrels and putting them in a container. The teams receive robotics kits at the beginning of the year, and work for several months on the design.
The idea behind the competition is to increase student interest in science, technology and math.
The event is funded by the 360 Center for Applied Engineering and Manufacturing and corporate sponsors.
Posted at 7:30 AM on February 23, 2012
by Michael Olson
Filed under: Around MN
Minn. Senate committee passes photo ID for voting
AP: "A state Senate committee has approved a constitutional amendment asking Minnesotans to decide whether voting should require a photo ID despite objections from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie that it will be difficult to implement and increase federal government oversight of the state's elections."
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie offers Voter ID alternative: electronic poll books
MinnPost: "Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has proposed an alternative to the Voter ID plan now being considered by Republicans in the Legislature."
Wisconsin man refuses to vote after finding veteran's ID no good at polls
Journal Times: "A local man wasn't allowed to use his veteran's card to vote in Tuesday's primary and he's pretty steamed about it."
Editorial: A voting solution in search of a problem
Star Tribune: "Don't enshrine major election change in state Constitution."
Op-Ed: Voter ID opponents try, try again
Jeff Davis: "At almost every turn their objections have been disproved, yet they persist."
The Rochester Post Bulletin hedges in its editorial on Voter ID.
League of Women Voters releases a documentary on Voter ID.
KAALTV: Winona State holds Voter ID forum
Redistricting and Election 2012
Court map more competitive than partisan maps
MinnPost: "Incumbents will have to fight to save dozens of legislative seats. Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, calculates that the new district boundaries set the scene for competitive races in at least 51 House seats and 26 seats on the Senate side."
Martin announces for House District 10A seat
Brainerd Dispatch: "Hours after new political lines were drawn, Kurt Martin, the 54-year-old owner of a Brainerd technology company, announced his candidacy for the House District 10A seat which would represent much of western Crow Wing County. He'll seek the endorsement of House District 10A Republicans."
Also on MN Today
MN Today contributor Don Reeder writes: "Residents worry the state's budget deficits would eventually have a negative impact on local school funding and taxes."
Moorhead council aims to attract more residents to city
Forum of Fargo Moorhead: "We're a better town. I believe that. I'm not going to back down from Fargo. We're the best town in the metro," Councilman Mark Altenburg said Tuesday. "We've got better schools, we've got better community, and we're 20 years ahead in terms of flood protection."
Minnesota teachers must prove they can do the math
Star Tribune: "Dayton signs bill requiring instructors to pass a basic skills test to get licenses."
Duluth peace activists urge public to ignore white supremacy group's planned rally
Duluth News Tribune: "Local peace activists are urging the public to completely ignore next week's visit by the Supreme White Alliance."
Report affirms lifesaving role of colonoscopy
New York Times: "This study puts that argument to rest," said Dr. David A. Rothenberger, a professor and deputy chairman of surgery at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center. He was not part of the study."
Twin Cities banks getting better, Fed says
Pioneer Press: "Minnesota's community banks are in significantly better shape than they were a year ago but they still have a long way to go to get back to the profitability they saw in the last decade, the Minneapolis Fed's Ron Feldman said Wednesday at a media briefing."
T-Mobile urges U.S. to block Verizon's spectrum purchase
New York Times: "These joint-marketing agreements will turn these rival companies into partners, rather than competitors," Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote in a letter to the commission this month. "I fear this will ultimately mean less competition, less choice, and higher prices for consumers."
Posted at 2:00 PM on February 23, 2012
by Dan Olson
Filed under: Minnesota Sounds & Voices
Growing up in the 1950s as a farm kid in northwestern Minnesota, I listened to adults rant about the milling companies influence over grain prices.
Back then, there were still enough family farmers to organize protests including milk dumping and tractorcades among other public protests over low commodity prices.
Rhoda Gilman's new book, "Stand Up! The Story of Minnesota's Protest Tradition," goes way back to when country folks outnumbered their city cousins and were able to mount robust third party movements to sway political decisions.
Gilman is a retired Minnesota Historical Society writer, editor and former head of its education division.
The old days in Minnesota were good for the milling, timber and railroad barons. They basked in wealth and maintained a firm grip on the levers of political power.
The Great Depression, among other events, kicked off a storm of protest over a wave of farm foreclosures.
Here's a Minnesota Historical Society photo from their collection which shows a 1933 farm rally seeking a foreclosure moratorium - which lawmakers granted. We'll have a story this afternoon on All Things Considered talking with Gilman about protest history.
Gilman and others have written volumes on Minnesota's long and robust protest tradition. She touts her new 168 page book as an accessible overview.
Gilman speeds along in her narrative taking us from the 1857 argument over slavery, which threatened to delay Minnesota's rise to statehood, all the way to present day protests.
In our interview, Gilman points to the immigrant influence in Minnesota's protest tradition including Finns and Swedes who had a history back in the old country of "radical" politics by American standards.
Then, and some would argue now, folks holding financial and political power weren't much in a sharing mood. They were tireless in devising ways to thwart protesters including hiring thugs to break up gatherings.
This photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society from 1934, shows the violent confrontations during the Minneapolis Truckers Strike where two people died and 60 were injured.
In an especially dark chapter of Minnesota history, elected officials in 1917 who were supported by business interests created a "public safety commission." Gilman says pro-labor and anti-World War I sentiment were swirling through the state and the commission hired informants and used its powers to detain suspected subversives.
Gilman predicts the rise of feminism, eco-politics and the role of government surveillance will all influence contemporary protests in Minnesota. She concludes that the power of protest is a precious asset in uniting people against injustice.
Posted at 4:17 PM on February 23, 2012
by Mark Steil
Filed under: Southwest Minnesota
(MPR file photo)
The Suzlon company has sent out a strong signal that it doesn't intend to reopen it's Pipestone plant anytime soon.
he India-based company once had more than 500 employees in the southwest Minnesota community making blades for wind turbines. But since manufacturing ended more than a year ago, Suzlon has kept only a maintenance crew at the plant.
The Pipestone County Star reports that the company now says it intends to use the building only as a service facility.
The wind industry as a whole had a good year in 2011, and expects a lot of construction again this year. But the outlook for 2013 is uncertain. If a key federal subsidy for the industry is not renewed, construction of new turbines next year is expected to fall sharply.