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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Minnesota college student found dead in North Dakota River

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VALLEY CITY, ND -- Valley City State University students are mourning the death of a 23-year-old student from Minnesota whose body was found yesterday in the Sheyenne River in North Dakota.  Dan Buehner of Blaine, had been missing more than a day, after a rubber raft he and two others were capsized.  Buehner was a catcher of the Valley City State Baseball team.  Teammate Kayl Hamre says you couldn't ask for a better man and Dan will be missed very much.

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Buehner's teammates, Ryan Shaw and Hayden Johnson, were with him when the raft capsized.  They were rescued.  Police are still investigating what happened.  

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The images and videos of four Boston Marathon runners carrying another to the finish line have gone viral, and one of the four is from Minnesota.  Mike Johnson of Stillwater and the other runners picked up the man he knows only as Adam roughly 300 yards from the end of the course.  About 50 yards from the finish line, Johnson says Adam asked to be put down and summoned the energy to walk the rest of the way.  He didn't think anything of the act, and says he was surprised when what they did to help another runner appeared all over television news programs yesterday morning.

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The FBI is asking Minnesotans to help identify nearly 100 potential victims of a suspected serial child molester that killed himself in Minnesota last month.  Agents say 64-year-old William Vahey committed suicide in Luverne on March 21, two days after a warrant was filed to search a flash drive that was handed over to the U.S. embassy by an employee of a school where he worked in Nicaragua.  Officials say the drive contained pornographic images of at least 90 boys between the ages of 12 and 14.  The FBI's website states that Vahey confessed to an administrator at the school that he was molested as a child and had preyed on boy's his entire life.  Special Agent Patrick Fransen of Houston said he's never seen another case where, "An individual may have molested this many children over such a long period of time."  He worked at schools across the globe between 1972 and 2013, including Iran, Spain, Greece, England, and many other countries.  Vahey is not known to have taught anywhere in Minnesota.  FBI officials declined to say why they believe Vahey went to Luverne to commit suicide at a motel. 

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The second day of testimony was heard yesterday (Tue) in the murder trial of Byron Smith, who is accused of murder in the deaths of two teenagers he caught breaking into his home.  Jurors in the Morrison County courtroom listened intently to an audio recording of the confrontation between Smith and victims 18-year-old Haile Kifer and 17-year-old Nick Brady, including gunshots, screams, and the dragging of their bodies after the shootings.  Family members sobbed as the tape was played.  Agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension also introduced photographs, diagrams of the scene, and other evidence that was collected from Smith's home.  He is charged with two counts of first degree murder.

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 If you suffer from allergies, get ready for what could be a miserable season.  The extremely cold winter just ended is resulting in a number of trees and plants producing pollen all at once.  During a more normal year, tree and plant growth is more staggered.  Doctor John Sweet, an allergist at Hennepin County Medical Center, says this time of year it's primarily tree pollens, and they're seeing a lot of maple, oak, elm and alder pollen in the air right now.

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Democrats are pushing Republicans to provide necessary votes to pass a bonding bill for state construction projects larger than the 855-million-dollar figure that both sides agreed on last year.  Senate Minority Leader David Hann defends Republicans' stance, saying it's about whether or not lawmakers will spend public money simply because they have the opportunity to do it.  Governor Dayton responds Republicans are "dead wrong" and are shortchanging job-creating projects all over the state.  A bonding bill is one of a few major items still on the legislature's to-do list before the May 19th adjournment deadline.

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 Hundreds of supporters of full legalization of marijuana in Minnesota are rallying today in the State Capitol Rotunda (Wed 11:30-1pm).  Minnesota NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) Executive Director Randy Quast says legalizing cannabis for everyday use would also solve the medical marijuana debate.  Quast says marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco, which lead to thousands of deaths in Minnesota every year.  Opponents say marijuana is addictive and a precursor to other drug abuse.

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 Is medicine as safe and effective as surgery or stenting, when it comes to preventing strokes caused by buildup of plaque in a major artery?  That's a question a Mayo Clinic researcher will attempt to answer with a 39-million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.  Doctor Thomas Brott says stroke prevention has come a long way since the 1980's and new research will build on an earlier study that compared surgical intervention to a less invasive procedure.  That study found both methods equally effective and safe, but outcomes did vary slightly based on age.  The new research will compare both of those groups to patients treated with drugs, to see which overall outcome is best.

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Opponents of frac sand mining in southeast Minnesota delivered over six thousand petition signatures to Governor Dayton's office Tuesday, saying he has the executive authority to declare a two-year moratorium so stricter rules can be developed.  Dayton responds he supported a moratorium on frac sand mining during the last legislative session, but the legislature rejected it.  The governor says his legal counsel tells him the courts would likely rule he's exceeding his authority, if he were to now implement the moratorium by executive order.  Dennis Egan with the Minnesota Industrial Sand Council says dramatic steps activists are calling for are unnecessary because state law ensures any new frac sand projects receive stringent environmental review.

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Governor Dayton says he likes House Democrats' plan for a second round of tax cuts -- featuring property tax relief -- as negotiators begin this week trying to hammer out a compromise with the Senate, which has a very different bill.  Dayton says he and the legislature had "great success" keeping property taxes from going up after ten years of increases, but more needs to be done -- specifically for farmers, who say they need more property tax relief.  Republicans say Democrats increased taxes two billion dollars last year and now, with a budget surplus, are giving only a fraction of that money back to taxpayers.

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 Investigators have seized two baseball bats from the home of a rural Moorhead man accused of trying to kill his ex-girlfriend. 34-year-old Michael Karau is charged with attempted murder, assault and false imprisonment.  He's accused of stomping on the woman and beating her with a baseball bat during a drunken attack that lasted several hours.  Court documents say a Clay County detective seized two aluminum baseball bats; one of the bats was found under a bed, the other was located in an attached garage.  Investigators also seized hair and carpet samples, a mattress and a headboard with blood stains.  The victim was treated for numerous injuries including a broken nose, broken tailbone and a partially torn off ear.

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 A Southern California man is accused of taking a Minnesota teen to Los Angeles to engage in prostitution.  The 36-year-old was arrested in Las Vegas on federal charges.  The 16-year old Minneapolis girl was rescued a year ago and told police at the time that she met the man over the telephone through a friend, and he convinced her to travel to Los Angeles to meet him -- promising to be her "boyfriend" and "take care of her." He purchased a bus ticket for the trip.  If convicted he faces anywhere from 10 years to life in federal prison.

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A report being released today by the city of Minneapolis shows a sharp jump in gun incidents in 2013 compared to 2012.  The Results Minneapolis report will show a 40-percent increase in incidents of guns used in crimes.  Cellphone thefts are also up, and the report shows police response times are getting longer.  Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman tells the "Star Tribune" that even though there was a spike in gun crime over the past year, violent crime is down overall in the last six years.

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