Robert Downs


A fray in family ties

Before school, Bao Khang and her three younger siblings often tussle over who’s using the upstairs bathroom. But it’s not as bad as it was before, when her three older sisters and two older brothers shared it, too. Her big family has lived in their north Minneapolis house for as long as she can remember. Her parents landed in Minneapolis after arriving in America in 1988 from a refugee camp in Thailand.

A culture of college

EDINA, Minn. âÄì When she has a lot of homework, high school senior Tierra Davis makes the five-minute drive past the local shopping mall to a place she can concentrate. In the summer itâÄôs Barnes and Noble, and in the winter itâÄôs Starbucks. At that Starbucks just a few months ago, Tierra wrote the essay she sent with her application to the University of Wisconsin. Now sheâÄôs waiting for the reply letter postmarked from Madison âÄî an envelope that will determine the next four years of her life.

Against the grain: a student’s choice

MADISON, Minn. âÄî When Ryan BergersonâÄôs acceptance letter arrived from the University of Minnesota in December, his parents waited to give it to him until after the holidays âÄî they were worried that his sisters, who were visiting from the Twin Cities, might convince him to go there. Ryan, 18, said his parents are worried about the cost. At a different school he has guaranteed financial aid. But his parents said moneyâÄôs not the biggest concern: TheyâÄôre worried about culture shock.

J Robinson, U wrestling cleared by internal investigation

University of Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson did not violate NCAA rules by purchasing and selling real estate from and to former wrestlers, according to a five-month internal University investigation made public on Friday. The investigation was triggered and based on a Minnesota Daily article which reported that Robinson sold houses to at least two former team members, who are now assistant coaches, and bought property from two other former wrestlers. The story raised questions on whether Robinson used real estate as a recruiting incentive.

Study: Orphanages may slow child growth

The first results of an ongoing University of Minnesota study suggest that living in an orphanage can not only can hurt children psychologically but can harm them physically as well. This information could serve to validate U.S. domestic policy, which since the 1970s has funded foster care in place of orphanages.

Morris Biomass Plant sees setback

A miscalculation within a critical piece of equipment has already set back the construction of a $9 million Biomass Plant at the University of Minnesota-Morris more than a year, and an upcoming decision by the USDA will determine if $1.89 million in grant money will be lost due to the delay.

Innocence and the justice system

Sherman Townsend was released from Hennepin County jail on Oct. 2, 2007, after spending 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. It took the confession of the guilty man and the help of law students from the University of Minnesota to secure his release. Each school year, the Innocence Project of Minnesota, a branch of the national nonprofit organization, uses law students from the University and Hamline University School of Law to gather new evidence and act as attorneys for prisoners who, after thorough research, they feel are wrongly convicted.

Lesnar’s UFC career in jeopardy

Former Gophers wrestler Brock Lesnar has been an NCAA champion, World Wrestling Entertainment champion and is now the heavyweight champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Some say Lesnar may be the most promising fighter in UFC today, and his continued success could mean record ratings for the up-and-coming sport. That is, if he is ever able to fight again. In late October, Lesnar collapsed at one of his homes in Canada after battling what was thought to be a bad case of mononucleosis.

Board rules Rybak used mayoral funds for Gov. campaign

Two days removed from his landslide victory in the Minneapolis mayoral elections, incumbent R.T. Rybak made his run for governor in 2010 official Thursday by filing to create an election committee. The filing fell on the same day the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled that Rybak had 15 days to create a gubernatorial campaign committee. In a suit filed by the Republican Party of Minnesota , the board found that Rybak used mayoral committee funds for his gubernatorial campaign.

A life in prison

Donna Busch relaxed on the back porch of her St. Paul home, enjoying a clear Sunday evening in mid-May. It was 1984. As she glanced up from her book, she spotted a familiar man walking toward her from across the lawn âÄî she had met him at a local bar two nights earlier. He had given her a ride home and then asked for a kiss. When she refused, he had become angry. âÄúCan I get a drink?âÄù the man called to her. Hurriedly, Busch poured a glass of orange juice and slipped inside the house. He followed.