In Brief

Published 11:46 am Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pawlenty: Obama projecting weakness to world

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says bullies and world leaders respect strength, not weakness, and President Barack Obama needs to stop apologizing to the nation’s enemies.

Pawlenty, a potential White House challenger to Obama in two years, told conservatives on Friday that Obama has excelled at duping reporters into comparing him to Republican President Ronald Reagan. Pawlenty said Reagan knew how to stare down America’s enemies, a skill Obama lacks.

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Pawlenty is telling the Conservative Political Action Conference that Obama is acting like former President Jimmy Carter, who lost re-election to Reagan in 1980.

Pawlenty said the United States must never stop fighting for freedom or apologize for its greatness.

Survey shows smoking rate down in Minnesota

ST. PAUL (AP) — A new survey shows the adult smoking rate in Minnesota has declined, but the use of smokeless tobacco is on the rise.

The survey says the smoking rate has dropped to 16 percent, down a full point from three years ago. It was conducted by the Department of Health and ClearWay Minnesota, a nonprofit antismoking group.

Smoking opponents say additional restrictions on where people can smoke and a couple of large cigarette tax hikes mostly likely influenced more smokers to quit. There’s also a decline in the number of people exposed to second-hand smoke. Exposure has dropped 11 percent from the last survey three years ago. The state first banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2007.

Minnesota Public Radio News says the survey is based on phone interviews with more than 7,000 state residents.

Regents approve remodel of Northrop building

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has approved a nearly $81 million overhaul of the Northrop building that will upgrade its well-known auditorium and increase space for academics.

The regents took their final vote on the financing of the project on Friday. The 82-year-old building will close on Monday and construction will begin later this month. It will reopen in 2013.

The historic auditorium will get state-of-the art acoustics, better sight lines, more technology and updated amenities, including a cafi.

The remodeled building will also house the University Honors Program for gifted undergraduates and the Institute for Advanced Study for collaboration among scholars and artists.

Since opening in 1929, Northrop has served as the university’s primary gathering place for the performing arts, academic ceremonies and major civic events.

Minn. collects 9 percent more than expected in January

ST. PAUL (AP) — State tax collectors did better than expected last month as individual taxpayers withheld and paid more income taxes.

Minnesota Management and Budget said Friday that the state collected $137.4 million more than anticipated in January. That’s 9.3 percent higher than forecast.

The extra cash puts the state $165.5 million ahead of projected revenues seven months into the current fiscal year.

Even so, Minnesota is facing a $6.2 billion deficit in the coming two-year budget period.

Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter says the January revenue might reflect attempts by some taxpayers to get ahead of April tax bills by sending in large fourth-quarter payments. The numbers also don’t include state spending patterns.

A complete budget forecast will be released at the end of February.

Minn. nurse accused in drug theft called scapegoat

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for a Minnesota nurse accused of stealing painkillers from a patient before surgery says his client is being made a “scapegoat” by the hospital.

Sarah May Casareto of Forest Lake is charged with theft of a controlled substance. She’s accused of taking some of the painkiller intended for a patient before kidney stone surgery at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis last November.

Casareto’s attorney, Max Keller, issued a statement saying an alleged comment by the nurse — telling her patient he needed to “man up” — was taken out of context.

Because of patient confidentiality, hospital officials say they cannot discuss specifics. But a spokesman for Allina Hospitals and Clinics, owner of Abbott Northwestern, notes that Casareto’s employment at the hospital ended as a result of her refusal to take a drug screen.

18 more dogs seized from NW Minnesota home

ROSEAU (AP) — Authorities have seized more dogs from a rural home in northwestern Minnesota.

Eighteen more dogs were seized from the rural Roseau home. That brings to 36 the number of small dogs seized from the home by the Roseau County sheriff’s office.

The dogs had matted fur and were covered with feces in a heated garage area. The dogs include dachshunds, Shih Tzus and Shelties.

All of the dogs were taken to the Pennington County Humane Society in Thief River Falls and will be put up for adoption.

Authorities are considering whether to bring charges against the woman who owned the animals.