From Mars to Minnesota and a Concordia professorby Hart Van Denburg, Minnesota Public Radio,
Phil Picardi, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Welcome to the MPR News Update, a roundup of Minnesota's news on your schedule. Today, Best Buy founder Richard Schulze makes a play to take the company private, Democrats in northeastern Minnesota try to topple Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, and a Minnesota scientist talks about getting her hands on data from Sunday night's Mars landing.
First, Best Buy: Confirming rumors that had been circulating for weeks, Best Buy founder Richard Schulze formally launched an effort on Monday to buy back the Richfield-based electronics retailer and take it private in a deal valued at between $8 billion and $9 billion. He says he's willing to pay between $24 and $26 a share -- a premium around 40 percent over its recent share price -- and also pledged his $1 billion stake in the company toward the purchase, but analysts wonder whether he's has the financial capacity to pull off the deal.
Life on Mars: We were all mesmerized this morning by the first pictures beamed back from the surface of the Red Planet via NASA's robotic Curiosity rover. In a bravura technological performance worthy of Hollywood, the lander sped through the Martian atmosphere at better than 13,000 mph before touching down and sending up raucous cheers from Mission Control as it established radio contact. The data it sends back will be part of a Minnesota connection that will last for months to come: Concordia College physics professor Heidi Manning is on sabbatical to work full time with the U.S. space agency over the next year to analyze Curiosity's discoveries.
Meanwhile, in London: Olympians with Minnesota ties keep winning medals -- or at least making us proud with their efforts. Duluth's Kara Goucher finished 11th in the marathon with a time of 2:26:07. Eden Prairie swimmer Rachel Bootsma took home a gold medal in the 4x100 medley. St. Paul's Susie Scanlan won bronze as U.S. women's fencing team edged Russia 31-30 in extra time. Megan Kalmoe of South Saint Paul took home a bronze in quadruple sculls rowing, and Kelci Bryant won silver in women's 3m synchronized diving event. Check out our Olympics blog for more.
Chipping away: Democrats believe that the road to retake control of the House of Representatives runs in part through Minnesota's 8th Congressional District, where three DFLers are about to face voters in a primary to pick a challenger to GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack. Former congressman Rick Nolan, former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and former Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson are battling in a race that appears to be a toss-up -- and just a week away from resolution.
And finally: The National Weather Service is installing new technology today that should allow metrologists to issue severe weather warnings with greater precision. Chanhassen metrologist Dan Luna says the new technology is part of the agency's nationwide $50 million upgrade to the radar system. He says it's the first hardware upgrade since 1988. Luna says the technology will allow the weather service to better distinguish between different types of precipitation. He says they'll also be able to verify at close range when a tornado is on the ground.
Hart is the morning online editor at MPR News.