- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015
Minnesota man admits he planned to join Islamic State group

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota man admitted Thursday that he planned to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, saying he believed joining the violent terrorist organization would help his fellow Muslims.

Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group. He admitted that he and eight other men met 10 to 15 times in local mosques, parks and restaurants to talk about routes to Syria and how to finance their trip.

He faces up to 15 years in prison at sentencing, which hasn’t been scheduled.

Abdurahman is the third Minnesota man to plead guilty in connection with planning travel to Syria. Five others face a February trial.

Authorities have described the men from Minnesota’s Somali community as friends who recruited and inspired each other. Prosecutors say the men were advised from overseas by Abdi Nur, another Minnesota man who went to Syria in May 2014.

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Minnesota Vikings celebrate new stadium milestone

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Vikings are celebrating another milestone in the construction of their new $1.08 billion stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

The team and stadium contractor Mortenson Construction held a “topping out” ceremony Thursday. That’s when the highest or last steel beam is placed in a building under construction.

Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1OhXwYD) reports stormy weather delayed the scheduled raising of the final beam at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says the beam will be raised Friday.

Workers signed their names on the last beam. The crowd also observed a moment of silence to honor Jeramie Gruber, a roofer who fell to his death at the site last month.

Construction officials say the stadium is on schedule to be completed for the start of the Vikings’ 2016 season.

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Lawmaker cited for making out undecided on 2016 election

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - One of the Minnesota lawmakers cited for making out with a fellow Republican legislator in a public park said Thursday that she wants to move past the incident, which she refused to discuss in detail, and that she’s still considering whether to run for re-election next year.

Rep. Tara Mack returned to the Capitol for an interim hearing on health care issues and made her first public remarks since she and Rep. Tim Kelly were cited by a Dakota County park ranger for making out inside a car. The ranger wrote in his notes that Mack’s pants were pulled down.

As the details of that citation trickled out, Mack and Kelly, who are each married to other people, called it a lie and vowed to lodge a complaint against the ranger. The pair later paid the $260 fines and eventually issued a broad apology to the law enforcement community for the episode.

Mack declined to discuss the specifics of the Aug. 25 incident, but she said she still disagrees with some of the ranger’s account. She said she and her husband are still deciding whether she will run for a fifth term.

“It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks for me and my family,” the Apple Valley Republican said. “I’m focused on moving forward.”

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Census data: Household income for Minnesota blacks plunged

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Household income for Minnesota’s black residents plunged and their statewide poverty rate increased between 2013 and 2014, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The median income for black households in Minnesota fell 14 percent during that time, according to the bureau’s annual look at poverty and income in the United States, released Wednesday. Meanwhile, the statewide poverty rate for blacks rose from 33 percent to 38 percent, compared with a stable overall rate of 11 percent.

Income and poverty remained stable for other racial groups - whites, Hispanics and Asians - in Minnesota. Nationally, the American Community Survey showed that income and poverty rates were generally stagnant over the entire U.S. population, showing no statistically significant changes for black, Asian, and Hispanic households.

“It’s alarming,” Steven Belton, interim president and CEO of the Minneapolis Urban League, told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1Nzw9aRhttp://strib.mn/1Nzw9aR ). “It’s a deepening of the income disparity. … When you pair that with the continuing disparities we have in education, health and wealth, it’s disturbing. The alleged rising tide has not lifted all boats.”

State officials said they’d have to study the numbers further before they could speculate on the causes.

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