Gophers set pro day for March 28 with 11 from 2017 team scheduled to participate

Eleven Gophers who completed their senior seasons in the fall will get a chance to make their case with NFL teams during the team’s pro day at 8 a.m. March 28 at the team’s new indoor practice facility at the Athletes Village. Gophers scheduled to participate are running back Kobe McCrary, offensive linemen Vincent Calhoun and Garrison Wright; tight end Nate Wozniak; defensive linemen Steven Richardson, Merrick Jackson and Andrew Stelter; linebacker Jonathan Celestin; defensive backs Adekunle Ayinde and Duke McGhee; and punter/kicker Ryan Santoso. The session is not open to the public. Spring practice to resume After taking last week off for spring break, the Gophers return to spring practice with three sessions this week: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On March 27 at 4:45 p.m., the team will hold the first of three practices that are open to the public. The other two are April 3 (4:45 p.m.) and the April 14 spring game (noon). Older Post State's top 2019 football recruit Carroll has Gophers in his final six Continue Reading

Danger! Danger! Big matchups ahead in Minnesota Beer Bracket’s Ale-ite Eight

The results of the Sudsy Sixteen are in, and while there were no upsets this time around, this new lineup of heavyweights makes for some pretty killer matchups ahead. Surly vs. Summit? Wow, instant classic. The return of Danger Danger (Castle Danger vs. Dangerous Man)? Feels like we’re back in the ‘80s. (Yep, that’s a glam rock reference!) The reigning New Ulm champ vs. downtown Minneapolis chic (Schell’s vs. Fulton)? Get your popcorn ready! It’s time for the Ale-ite Eight. Winning its match by the largest margin (and receiving 1,410 more votes than No. 1-seed Surly), 3-seed Bent Paddle is challenging for the role of new favorite. Next up, the Duluth brew will go head-to-head with Indeed – which squeezed out a victory via the smallest vote margin of any beer team, but who also had the toughest competitor by far. Meanwhile, a new, intriguing dark horse has stepped up to the gate in 6-seed Dangerous Man, which received the greatest vote total; count their clash with a solid Castle Danger squad as the matchup to watch (preferably to the soundtrack of Bang Bang).** Honestly, is anything on a basketball court comparing to this??? OK maybe. That UMBC upset over Virginia was pretty wild. But this will also be great because beer and strong opinions can never fail. And if your favorite brewery loses, guess what – you can still drink their swill all year. That’s right – unlike the NCAA, we won’t force them off campus for the summer. Voting for the Ale-ite Eight officially opens Tuesday morning, and then closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. So stretch out your pointer fingers and get sipping! Star Tribune And check out our further analysis on the results, below. Here’s how the Sudsy Sixteen went down: Surly (1) – 8,805 votes (66 percent) Castle Danger (2) – 8,457 votes (63 percent) Bent Paddle (3) – 9,415 votes (71 percent) Schell’s (4) – 7,413 votes (56 percent) Summit (5) – Continue Reading

At Minnesota Capitol, support for guns is deeply ingrained

Before she went into politics, Sen. Carrie Ruud was in-line skating along a county highway near north-central Minnesota’s Cross Lake one day in 1993 when she sensed she was being followed by some guys in a pickup truck. From that moment on, she said, “I decided I didn’t want to be a victim.” Soon Ruud had a permit to carry a firearm. And she became an avid gun rights supporter, an ethic she brought to the Capitol — along with her gun — when she was elected to the state Senate in 2002 from the Brainerd lakes area. Ruud, like many of her fellow Republicans and more than a few DFLers, helps illustrate the long-standing legislative dominance of the gun rights movement at Minnesota’s Capitol, where the National Rifle Association doesn’t even have a single lobbyist solely assigned to the state. Instead, the movement has counted on dozens of lawmakers who come from areas where firearms are deeply woven into family and community traditions, underpinned by a philosophy of self-reliance and self-defense. “It’s not an issue here. We have guns in our homes,” said Ruud, 66, of Breezy Point. “It’s a way of life.” It’s the reason why, despite the frequency of emotionally wrenching school shootings, and the marches and rallies that have followed, it remains unlikely that gun control backers in Minnesota could expect to score legislative victories any time soon. “There is no time to waste on ideas that don’t work, or have no chance of passing the Legislature this year,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said last week. This response followed the many hundreds of students who walked out of schools to march for stricter gun laws, and even after two of his own Republican colleagues joined two DFLers to advocate for universal background checks and mandatory reporting of lost and stolen guns. If Gazelka seemed dismissive, he had reason to be — key members of the Continue Reading

DNR announces another catch-and-release walleye season for Mille Lacs

The Department of Natural Resources announced today another catch-and-release walleye season for Mille Lacs, disappointing business owners, cabin dwellers and anglers. There was some hope that 2018 would mark a return to some amount of keepable walleye harvest for state-licensed anglers. The number of spawning walleyes in the lake has increased, the DNR said, but the agency and Indian bands who co-manage the fishery haven't been able to agree on an overall safe harvest amount for the season. "None of us are happy about this, but it is the card we've been dealth with at this time,'' Mille Lacs bait shop and convenience store owner Steven Johnson said in a statement this morning that he released on Twitter. "Looking forward to a new governor's election.'' The DNR did say that no mid-season walleye closures are planned, a departure from the past two summers. But similar to prior years, night fishing for walleyes will be closed for the duration of the season from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Monday, May 14, the DNR said. Older Post Documentary to air about a first for women in the Minnesota outdoors Continue Reading

Envoys hail Brexit progress but no Irish border breakthrough

BRUSSELS — Negotiators from the European Union and Britain on Monday hailed major progress in the Brexit talks, but conceded there had been no breakthrough on keeping open the Irish border. Britain is due to leave the European Union at the end of March 2019, but Brexit talks must be concluded by this fall to leave national parliaments in the bloc time to ratify any deal. The border between EU member state Ireland and Britain's territory Northern Ireland issue is central to an agreement but negotiators are struggling to find a way to keep people, goods and services flowing while respecting EU controls. "We have travelled a large section of the path toward an orderly withdrawal," EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters in Brussels, in front of a power-point display highlighting that a political agreement has been reached on most issues. He said that negotiators, working day and night recently, had agreed on "a large part of what would constitute" the draft international legal agreement governing Britain's departure. He said the two sides have also reached an agreement on a transition period to help ease Britain out of the EU once it officially leaves on March 29, 2019. Barnier said the period would be "of a limited duration," ending on Dec. 31, 2020. Alongside him, British envoy David Davis said the progress made is a "significant step" toward a final deal. Davis said he is confident that the draft legal text the sides have prepared will be endorsed by European Union leaders when they meet on Thursday and Friday. If they do, the sides can begin discussing a future trade agreement, although it cannot take effect until Britain is gone. Barnier said Britain must continue to respect EU laws and would continue to benefit from Europe's single market and customs union during the transition period. Davis said international agreements would continue to apply to Britain now and during the transition period after Brexit takes place in 2019. He said the two sides Continue Reading

The Latest: Turkey vows to expand Syria operation

BEIRUT — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local): 4:15 p.m. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that after victory in Syria's Afrin region, his country will expand its military operations into other Kurdish-held areas in Syria as well as to Iraq's Sinjar region. Speaking at a ceremony for judicial appointments in Ankara, Erdogan said troops would target the Syrian city of Manbij, as well as Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, and other towns along the border to the east of the Euphrates River. Those areas are controlled by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces and U.S. troops are stationed there. Erdogan said Turkish troops could also cross into Iraq to drive out Kurdish militants from the region of Sinjar, if the Iraqi government is reluctant to oust militants from the area. Turkey says the region is becoming a headquarters for outlawed Kurdish rebels who have been fighting an insurgency in Turkey's southeast since 1984. Erdogan said "one night, we could suddenly enter Sinjar." He insisted Turkey had no intention of "invading" Syria, saying it was merely clearing the border area of terrorists. ___ 2:05 p.m. Syria's Kurdish militia says a British woman who had joined their ranks to fight in the northern town of Afrin has been killed in a Turkish airstrike. Nisrin Abdullah, spokeswoman of the Kurdish female militia known as YPJ, said on Monday that Anna Campbell was killed last Thursday. She is the first foreign national to die in the battle for Afrin. She is also the first British female fighter and the eighth Briton to die fighting alongside the Kurdish militia in Syria. The Press Association says Campbell was 26 years old from Lewes, East Sussex. Macer Gifford, a Briton who travelled with Campbell, said they arrived last May to eastern Syria, where they joined the U.S-backed Kurdish militia to fight against Islamic State militants. Gifford returned home after the fall of the city of Raqqa last summer. Gifford told The Associated Press via Continue Reading

Report: Vikings to open 2018 regular season with rematch in Philadelphia

The Vikings’ last game of 2017 was in Philadelphia, where they’ll return to kick off the 2018 regular season, according to a report from 94WIP radio in Philadelphia. There’s little surprise the NFL would want a rematch of the NFC Conference Championship after the Vikings added this offseason’s top free agency prize in quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Vikings were shellacked by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Eagles, losing 38-7 in January, but now the Vikings have a 4,000-yard thrower in the fold. The Vikings also added defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson on a one-year, $8 million contract last week. The move helps Minnesota keep up in the defensive line arms race with the Eagles, who also added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata to its defensive line after free agency opened last week. There were also be storylines off the field after Vikings fans and family of players reported harassment from Eagles fans during the previous trip to Philadelphia. Six people were arrested that day, according to local media reports; three for selling fake tickets and one for punching a police horse. Older Post How will Vikings use remaining salary cap space after free-agent flurry? Continue Reading

Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco ‘really sorry’ about 80-game suspension

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Jorge Polanco says he learned he had failed a steroid test a month ago, and now he's ready to take the consequences. "I'm here to say that I'm really sorry to be in this situation," the Twins shortstop said through team interpreter Elvis Martinez in a four-minute meeting with reporters at the team's spring camp. "I want to apologize to the entire Minnesota Twins organization, my fans, my family, my country the Dominican Republic, and just move on." Polanco, who has been suspended by MLB without pay for 80 games, declined to elaborate on any details about how Stanozolol, a steroid that also triggered a suspension for Twins pitcher Ervin Santana in 2015, showed up in a drug test, though "I know how everything happened." He said in a statement issued by agent Ulises Cabrera on Sunday that he was given what he thought was vitamin B12 and iron supplement by a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic, but it apparently was tainted with Stanozolol instead. Polanco said in the statement that he did not intentionally take a steroid, but chose not to appeal the suspension. "It was difficult to drop the appeal, but out of respect to the organization, I did it," he said Monday. "I want to move forward and I'm taking responsibility." The Twins' starting shortstop has not addressed his teammates yet, but he plans to. "I'm looking forward to it," the 24-year-old said. "We'll do it later this week and I'll explain everything to them." The Twins will break camp on Sunday, but Polanco said he will remain behind in Florida, working out while waiting for 80 games to pass. He can play games as part of a rehab assignment roughly three weeks before the suspension is up. The Twins' 81st game is currently scheduled for June 30 at Wrigley Field, though that could change due to weather postponements. Polanco will forfeit nearly half of his salary, a loss of nearly $300,000. "I'm going to stay here in Fort Myers," he said. "I'm going to keep preparing for when I can Continue Reading

Twins teammates disappointed in suspended Jorge Polanco but still support him

BRADENTON, FLA. -- The Twins are having a bullpen game today in Bradenton against the Pirates, as Taylor Rogers will start and be relieved by Trevor Hildenberger followed by Tyler Duffey. The Twins want Rogers and Hildenberger to face major league hitters, leading to the unusual set up. But the news is back in Fort Myers, where Jorge Polanco is meeting with reporters one day after he slapped with an 80-game suspension for testing positive for Stanazolol.  Phil Miller is on the scene for that session, as well as the meeting with CBO Derek Falvey. I did swing through the clubhouse this morning before the bus left for Bradenton, and talked to some more people in Bradenton. Twins players, not surprisingly, feel terrible for Polanco. But second baseman Brian Dozier made it clear that players don't want cheaters in the game. "I do know this, that we as players want performance enhancing drugs out of the equation for everybody," he said. "We don't want it in our game, no part of it. We want a clean game. With that being said, people make mistakes. That's the world we live in. And I know, more than ever, Polanco needs a little love right now. That's my brother. So that comes first. "He's our brother and we've got his back. He needs a little love and he'll get it from us." Dozier, like a couple other players I asked, found out about the suspension Sunday night via twitter. The text messages started flying right after that. "That was a tough part that the news," outfielder Byron Buxton said. "You see the news and you automatically feel for him. No one had a clue about anything. When I found out on twitter, I tried to get his number so he could have that support system." Buxton texted Miguel Sano for some more details, then contacted Polanco. "I just told him to keep you head up. You know we've got your back, things like that," Buxton said. "He texted me back and said he appreciated it and was sorry. We all know it is a tough time for him. Just trying to be there for him Continue Reading

Assembly committee to hold hearing on school safety bills

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Assembly Education Committee has scheduled a public hearing on Gov. Scott Walker's $100 million school safety plan and other related proposals. The hearing Tuesday comes as the Assembly is expected to pass the bills in a special session Thursday. But the Senate may take a different approach, a move that could kill the measures. Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Attorney General Brad Schimel were visiting schools Monday to advocate for the plan. Walker wants to create a $100 million grant program to pay for hiring armed guards in schools. The grants would cover 75 percent of the cost the first year, 50 percent the second and 25 percent the third. The measures don't address Democrats' calls for tighter gun control or the push from some conservatives to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons. Continue Reading