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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Duluth store's MLK Day special causes controversy

DULUTH - Customers are making Facebook comments like "insensitive," "ignorant" and "racist" after a store in downtown Duluth posted a sign yesterday (Mon) reading, "MLK Day sale - 25% off everything black."

In an apology posted on the social networking site, Global Village owner Rachel Mock said the sale was meant to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., who Mock says "was a paragon of style" and an eloquent and fearless leader.  But many say the promotion was shameful and tacky.  One even opined that the store was, "worse than The Last Place on Earth," a store a few blocks east on Superior Street which was busted for selling illegal drugs last year.


As students head back to class after winter break, University of Minnesota officials are working to improve safety following an uptick in robberies during fall semester.  But V.P. Pam Wheelock stresses the number of violent crimes on campus did not increase.  Wheelock adds a bill introduced by Representative Joe Atkins and a similar federal proposal by Senator Amy Klobuchar would require service providers to disable lost or stolen cell-phones -- which she says would put a dent in campus crime.  Wheelock has three safety tips for students:  Don't walk alone, don't let friends walk alone, and call 911 immediately if a situation seems threatening.


A small school district along the I-90 corridor plans to put more than 800 of the old Metrodome seats to good use.  United South Central School Board member Jon Feist says the blue chairs were being sold at the same time they were looking for new bleachers for their football field.  Feist says Metrodome seats were 40 dollars each while bench seating worked out to be about 49 dollars.  He says not only is it cheaper for the district, the old Dome seats are more comfortable and have some "pretty neat history."  Local company Wells Concrete is providing United South Central with a pre-cast concrete seating structure for the 840 Dome seats.  Feist says the move is generating a lot of buzz in the six communities that make up the district. 


Minnesota dentists will provide free dental care services for children in need during the Minnesota Dental Association's "Give Kids a Smile" event next month.  Minnesota dentists will provide care to six-thousand children at over 200 clinics across the state February 7th and 8th.  Patients seeking appointments should be 18 years or younger and accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.  Advance appointments are required.  Parents can find a participating dentist by calling United Way 211 (just dial 2-1-1) or 1-800-543-7709 or by visiting  Since the program began, Minnesota dentists have provided free care to nearly $50,000 young people and donated more than $15-million in services.


A federal judge today (Tue) administered the oath to more than 15-hundred Minnesotans, swearing them in as new U.S. citizens.  It's the largest mass-swearing-in of the year in Minnesota and had to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Plymouth) spoke at the event and says those who took the oath "want the American dream.  They want to be part of this country, and they have encountered a lot of problems along the way to make that happen but it was worth it to them."  Klobuchar backed an immigration reform bill that passed last year in the Senate.  The legislation died in the House but is likely to be reintroduced this year.


U.S. Senator Al Franken (DFL-Minneapolis) met with Duluth East High School's Daredevils Robotics Team Monday night to see a demonstration of their work and find out about this year's robot design challenge.  Franken is a member of the Senate Education Committee and says the First Robotics program is an important part of getting students interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.  The robotics team is now preparing for the Duluth Regional Competition set for March 6th through the 8th.