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Minnesota News Briefs: Dali Lama visits Rochester

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- The Dalai Lama paid a visit to Rochester Sunday. Hundreds gathered outside St. Marys Hospital as the Dalai Lama emerged from a black sedan, escorted by Secret Service and Rochester Police.

He began shaking hands and sending blessings to the those in the crowd. His Holiness worked his way to the entrance, gave a brief speech and went inside. The Dalai Lama's tour continued in Madison, Wisconsin today.


Two men convicted of terror recruiting and financing for a Somali terrorist group will be sentenced today in federal court. The sentencing hearings for Kamal Said Hassan and Mahamud Said Omar will begin a week of sentencings for several defendants. Hassan is among more than 20 young men who left Minnesota since 2007 to join the terror group al-Shabab in Somalia. He has pleaded guilty to three counts, including two terror-related charges which each carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Omar was convicted on five-terror related counts last year. Prosecutors are seeking 50 years.


At the same time Congress held hearings to look into the terror attacks on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya which killed four Americans in September 2012, Minnesota Republican Michele Bachman attributed both 9-11 and the Benghazi attacks to God's "hand of judgment." During a speech at the "Washington: A Man of Prayer" event, she said "it's no secret that our nation may very well be experiencing the hand of's no secret that our nation may very well be in a time of decline." Ambassador Chris Stevens was among the victims of the embassay attack.


The pay of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler ranks 33rd in a new survey of 212 public research university presidents. Kaler made a total of $653,000 dollars for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, some of which was pro-rated because he took over in July of 2011. Kaler oversees a statewide system of five campuses, and the U of M is the fourth-largest public research university nationally. Last summer, Kaler declined a three-percent raise offered by the U of M Board of Regents. Ohio State President Gordon Gee tops Chronicle of Higher Education study with a base salary of $830,000 dollars.


Human remains have been found on a mine dump in rural McKinley. The Saint Louis County Sheriff's office says the initial investigation findings lead them to believe the remains are of a male reported missing from New York last fall. As of now there is no evidence of any criminal activity. The MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is helping with the investigation, which is ongoing.


A rural Darwin man is charged with DWI and criminal vehicular operation after an ATV accident that seriously injured a child Sunday afternoon at Thompson Lake County Park, west of Cosmos. Thirty-year-old Michael Vollmer was giving his friend's five-year-old daughter a ride and was trying to climb a steep embankment when the ATV rolled backward onto Vollmer and the girl. The man who reported the crash tried to help the girl but said Vollmer put her on the ATV and brought her to her grandparent's house. An ambulance arrived and took her to a local hospital. She was later airlifted to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis with life-threatening injuries. Neither she nor Vollmer were wearing helmets.


A Cass Lake man is facing several charges after residents reported a rash of burglaries in the Bemidji area. According to police, 53-year-old Peter Thompson was seen going door-to-door offering yard work services and then entering the unoccupied homes. Items taken included valuable coins, jewelry, laptop computers, and a firearm. Thompson is facing several burglary charges in addition to a controlled substance charge and being a felon in possession of a firearm.


A nationwide ammunition shortage has police departments counting their bullets, including the chief in Proctor, Minnesota. Chief Walt Wobig says when he asked suppliers for the 1,000 rounds of ammo his officers needed for training, he was told he'd have to wait six to eight months. Retailers say the nationwide shortage is due in part to people stockpiling ammunition in response to recently proposed gun legislation. Wobig says a citizen and a Proctor police officer loaned their personal ammunition to the Department, a total of 1,500 rounds. He still has ammunition on order and will be repaying the citizens for their contributions when the department is able to. He also sent in a request to Senators Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) and Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) for help regarding their ammunition shortage.


Burning restrictions take effect today in more than a dozen counties across the northern third of Minnesota. The remaining snow up north is expected to melt rapidly this week with warmer temperatures, increased winds and lower relative humidity. The DNR reports fire conditions have worsened statewide. Exposed dry grass and brush is creating a potential for wildfires. Fire officials encourage composting, recycling and chipping as alternatives to burning. Most of the fires in Minnesota this spring have been small.(Becker, Beltrami, Carlton, Clearwater, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Pennington, Roseau...and parts of Cass, Polk and St.Louis counties.)


St. Louis County officials are warning that last year's historic flooding dramatically changed the layout of the St. Louis River. The Coast Guard has placed buoys in some areas to mark where depths have changed, but county officials say more work needs to be done or navigational issues could be a problem for tourists. The Coast Guard is doing additional surveying of the area and planning to place more buoys.


A Bloomington man was injured after falling into a sinkhole yesterday (Sun) morning. Police say the 65-year-old man was walking with his wife and their two dogs when the ground between a manhole cover and a sidewalk gave in, and he fell into a hole that was 8 to 9 feet deep. The man was taken to the hospital with injuries to his shoulder and face, Investigators say no other ground in the area appeared to be unstable and the cause of the sinkhole is under investigation.