- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Brother: Pakistani can stay in US for medical care

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Diplomats have worked out arrangements to let a Pakistani exchange student who’s been hospitalized in a coma since a crash in November stay in the U.S. for continued medical care, his brother said Wednesday.

Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa was spending a semester in an exchange program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior when he was riding in a fellow student’s car that struck a deer. Bajwa suffered severe facial injuries and eventual cardiac arrest and brain damage.

Bajwa has been at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where his family said last week that officials were pressuring them to agree to his return to Pakistan because his visa was about to expire at the end of this month. His family said they feared the long flight home would hasten his death, and even if he survived it, he was unlikely to get adequate care.

His brother, Shahraiz Bajwa, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Pakistan’s consul general in Chicago told him his brother’s visa is not an issue anymore. The consult general also said the exchange program’s insurance company has agreed to pay for a long-term care facility in the Duluth area for a while, after which the family would have to pay for care, Bajwa said.

Shahraiz Bajwa said he didn’t know the details of the arrangements, but the consul general was driving to Duluth from Chicago to give him and his mother more information. He said they were encouraged but wanted to see more information in writing about how his brother’s visa would be handled and how his bills would be paid.


Biden touts health care coverage in Minn. visit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden is visiting a Minneapolis coffee shop, where he met with a handful of women who got insurance under the federal health care law.

Biden flew into Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon. He is attending a Democratic Party fundraiser later in the evening at a local restaurant.

Biden stopped at Moose and Sadie’s coffee shop. He sat down for a conversation with four women who have either signed up for coverage or helped others sign up.

Biden told the women that insurance coverage will bring greater peace of mind to Americans. He predicts earlier difficulties with signing up will give way to more successful experiences.

Biden says that early predictions of 7 million people signing up by the end of March may be more likely 5 or 6 million.


Minnesota posts highest graduation rate in decade

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The graduation rate for Minnesota high school students is the highest it’s been in a decade, according to new data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education.

The department said about 79 percent of Minnesota students graduated in 2013, up from 75 percent in 2010. Last year, black and Hispanic students had the biggest year-to-year increase, although they still lag behind white students.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said while more work needs to be done, the new graduation rates suggest the state will be able to meet its goal of cutting the achievement gap between white and minority students in half by 2017.

“We are not only seeing a higher graduation rate for all students, but increases in the number of students graduating in every single group,” Cassellius said. “These increases are the result of targeted investments by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature, as well as greater accountability for schools through our waiver, and the incredible work being done each and every day by Minnesota’s educators.”

Cassellius attributed the statewide improvement to a couple of factors, including Minnesota’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind law that was granted in early 2012. Under the waiver, the state instituted a new accountability system that is less punitive than the old one.


Fire that killed 5 Minn. kids appears accidental

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minneapolis duplex fire that killed five children last week appears to be accidental, investigators said Wednesday.

According to the Minneapolis Arson Unit, the cause of the fire is undetermined. But the fire department said “there is no indication of intentional acts” and nothing to indicate the fire is anything but an accident.

Five siblings, ages 8 years to 18 months, were killed and two survived along with the children’s father. A 9-year-old girl remained in critical condition Wednesday but a 5-year-old girl has been upgraded from critical to serious condition, a spokeswoman for Hennepin County Medical Center said.

The children’s father, Troy Lewis, 60, remained in satisfactory condition Wednesday.

Lewis jumped from a second-story window after the fire broke out in his rental home in north Minneapolis Friday morning. He injured his spine, but he ran back inside to save his screaming children.



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