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‘Terror trial’ opens with defense attorney trying to withdraw

Plus: U.S. Bank Stadium gets turf this week; Minnesota Zoo tiger passes away; House and Senate leaders meet at governor’s mansion to start end-of-session negotiations; and more.

Day One. Says Stephen Montemayor of the Strib: “The day began with a tense scene as [Judge Michael Davis] considered a late motion to withdraw filed by [defendant Mohamed] Farah’s attorney, Murad Mohammad, who cited a deep rift between the two. Mohammad said there had been a breakdown in communication and that Farah had refused to work with him to prepare for trial.”

It’s kinda grass. Says Rochelle Olson in the Strib, “The turf on which the Minnesota Vikings will play is being laid down this week at U.S. Bank Stadium. The final prep work was occurring Monday with the actual greenery expected to start going down Tuesday. The 132,000 square feet of turf will lie on an asphalt bed already in place. … .” And the presentation of the personal seat licenses will be when?

Possibly related. Possibly even coordinated. Peter King at Sports Illustrated writes about Adrian Peterson: “One final thing Peterson thinks: ‘We are going to have a good chance to win it this year — win everything,’ he said of the 2016 Vikings. Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, ‘I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.’ Nope. You sit back and watch, this year.’” Read the whole thing, if you can. 

For KMSP-TV, Rachel Chazin says, “The Minnesota Zoo announced Monday that popular Amur tiger ‘Nadya’ unexpectedly passed away over the weekend. She was three years old. ‘Nadya hadn’t been feeling well the week prior to her death, and had been under the medical and supportive care of veterinarians and zookeepers around the clock,’ the Minnesota Zoo said in a press release. ‘When her medical situation didn’t improve, she was anesthetized for emergency exploratory surgery in an effort to determine the cause of her illness,’ The young tiger survived her surgical procedure, but passed away soon afterwards despite all medical attempts to revive her. Blood tests prior to her death showed compromised liver function.” Might be the same thing that got five or ten relatives over in Wisconsin.

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The legislature that can’t get anything else done rallies for a soccer stadium? Says Andy Greder for the PiPress, “While Minnesota United FC players dribbled soccer balls in front of the state Capitol, Sen. Sandy Pappas discussed the political football of tax exemptions requested for the club’s Major League Soccer stadium in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. The clock is ticking down to the final buzzer, too. The Legislature will adjourn May 23. ‘Two whole weeks; plenty of time,’ Pappas, the bill’s sponsor, said Monday with a laugh before growing serious. ‘There is a rush now. We want to get it done.’ On Tuesday, the Senate Tax Committee will vote on an omnibus tax bill that includes a continuation of a property-tax exemption for a 10-acre stadium site at I-94 and Snelling.”

The Glean

In a Strib commentary, a local attorney, Danielle Robinson Briand, has this to say about another piece pending legislation, the Real ID bill. “The House … has proposed a single-tier licensing program with a more immediate October 2016 rollout, at a cost of $4 million to $8 million. The chief author, Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, has been light on justification for his plan, claiming to support a one-tier system for ‘consumer ease.’ Ironically, in committee testimony, Smith struggled to even understand the burden that producing identity documents would have on the elderly. He also has cited ‘administrative ease of use’ as a basis for his bill. In response to a query posed by a Republican colleague (who ultimately voted against the bill), Smith again failed to address the administrative difficulties that would arise from a surge of new document verifications or a timeline that the DPS regards as ‘impossible to implement.’ In the face of legitimate concerns, Smith’s position seems incomprehensible, perhaps even an example of purposeful obstruction.”

Meanwhile, reports Rachel Stassen-Berger at the PiPress,The annual Minnesota Capitol deal-making dance began on a rainy Monday afternoon in Gov. Mark Dayton’s Summit Avenue mansion. Inside the official residence, Dayton, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, the deputy and assistant Senate majority leaders, House Speaker Kurt Daudt and House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin, secluded themselves for 90 minutes to discuss how to end the session in a tidy and productive matter. … ‘These first meetings are always a bit about getting on the same page,’ added Daudt, R-Crown. ‘Obviously there hasn’t been much movement at this point.’”  First meetings? It’s May!

Another Strib commentary, this from Niki Gjere on a bill related to the infamous Dan Markingson case at the U of M says, “In committee, Rep. Connie Bernardy, DFL-New Brighton, introduced an amendment to the higher education omnibus bill to have the ombudsman’s office monitor participation of people in psychiatric research studies at the university. … An external monitor for psychiatric research would be a positive step forward. But the U’s administration is opposing the bill.”

Wait a minute. They’re sawing down trees for solar farms? Kevin Featherly at Midwest Energy News says, “In addition to a countywide moratorium, a controversy over the removal of trees for a Minnesota solar project has prompted an amendment in the state legislature. The amendment, offered by state Rep. Marion O’Neill, would prohibit solar projects if more than 75 percent of the trees in an area larger than three acres would have to be cut down. The bill to which her amendment was attached cleared the Minnesota House on April 27, though the Senate has yet to take it up. The proposed legislation only applies to solar projects, and does not restrict other land-intensive uses, such as real estate development or mining. Rep. O’Neill did not return calls for comment on the distinction.” So if they’re cutting down trees for 60 acres of asphalt in front of a Panera we’ve got no problem?

First, the Dentist and now this guy. Says Reuters, “A former Minnesota philosophy professor was fined $500,000 on Monday for smuggling elephant ivory and illegally exporting rhinoceros horns from the United States to China, prosecutors said. Yiwei Zheng, 43, a former St. Cloud State University professor, was also sentenced to three years’ probation and 150 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in Minneapolis, prosecutors said. The fine is to be paid to the Lacey Act Reward Fund, which is used by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reward those who provide information about wildlife crimes and to care for animals held as evidence in ongoing probes.”

Cool. You can almost see The Thirsty Pagan and Beaner’s. The News Tribune in Duluth says, “Astronaut Jeff Williams of Winter, Wis., who has been aboard the International Space Station since March 20, posted this photo of the Twin Ports today on his Facebook page and his Twitter account. ‘Good Morning USA! The Twin Ports of Duluth Minnesota and Superior Wisconsin as they look while crossing Ontario,’ he wrote.”