Eco-activist Mark Knapp sought by authorities for identity theft

The former Green Party candidate is caught up in a gold scheme

Mark Knapp, an environmental activist who once ran as a Green Party-endorsed candidate for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council, is being sought by authorities on a federal arrest warrant after he skipped a court date in Oregon.

Knapp is charged with aggravated identity theft. U.S. Postal inspectors in Oregon say he illegally obtained two credit cards by fraudulently using a Minnesota man's identity. Court documents say he used one card to charge more than $10,000 in goods and services, and used the other to buy more than $42,000 in gold coins.

Knapp's trail appears to have led authorities back to Minneapolis. Kingfield resident Ken Avidor, once a friend of Knapp's, says police, including at least one U.S. Marshal, interviewed him at his house recently about Knapp's whereabouts.

"I want to make it clear, I want to see this guy arrested," says Avidor, a graphic artist who chronicled the trial of Tom Petters for City Pages. "I didn't know he had this secret life."

A spokesman for the Marshal service in St. Paul said he couldn't comment on an ongoing investigation and would neither confirm nor deny the visit.

Knapp was arrested in July after a search of his Corvalis, Oregon, apartment uncovered $68,400 in gold coins, as well as credit card statements and mail in other people's names, the Corvalis Gazette Times reported. He was later released, and then failed to appear for an October 30 hearing in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon.

Avidor said Knapp contacted him not long ago, told him of the charges, and read him the contents of the warrant.

"I told him to get a lawyer and do exactly whatever the lawyer told him to do," Avidor says. "I told him, 'I don't want to hear from you again until you get this sorted out.'"

Knapp ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 10 seat on the Minneapolis City Council in 2001 as a Green Party candidate, placing third in the primary election.

In his campaign biography, he says he was part of a 1986 group that worked to prevent a nuclear-waste facility from being located in rural Maine, and that he later worked on the cleanup of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility outside of Denver, Colorado. After his time in Minneapolis, he moved to Corvalis, where he became known as an anti-growth proponent.

MinnPost Becoming Fox News?

Last month we reported on MinnPost's decision to give controversial conservative columnist Katherine Kersten a free pass to hold forth on her views in a Q&A-style interview with writer Michael Bonafield. This month, MinnPost is repeating its template with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Managing editor Roger Buoen defended the Kersten piece by saying that it was important for MinnPost's readers to hear from a prominent voice from the right—and that his readers would understand. He's betting they'll understand again, but he's penned a lengthy column to head off an anticipated flood of complaints.

"The Q&A format has a wonderful strength: It allows the interviewee to fully express his or her views, mostly unfiltered. Its goal is to tell you what the subject thinks and believes," he wrote last week.

Buoen says the Kersten piece generated more than 100 comments, many of them angry that Kersten's views were allowed to go unchallenged in an online publication that calls itself a home for "thoughtful" news. He says he even got a heads-up from his boss: "MinnPost CEO and editor Joel Kramer told me he found one of Mike's questions—the one suggesting that the liberal mind 'opens itself so readily' to 'totalitarian impulse'—inappropriate."

As expected, the Bachmann piece brought forth a stream of vitrolic comments about the self-described "lovable little fuzz ball."

Elusive "Dark Matter" Found in Minnesota Mine

Dark matter, a mysterious and perhaps-undetected-until-now substance said by scientists to make up 90 percent of the universe, may have been found for the first time on Earth, at the bottom of a mine in Soudan, Minnesota.

The Earth-bound discovery—if it turns out to be a discovery—took place at the Soudan Underground Lab particle physics laboratory's Cryogenic Dark Matter Search project. The facility, run by the University of Minnesota, is about 225 miles north of Minneapolis, between Virginia and Ely.

If the rumors prove true, New Scientist magazine says, the discovery could help scientists better understand the formation and behavior of the universe, and the Big Bang Theory.

In CDMS, physicists use powerful detection equipment to detect dark-matter clues on ultra-cold silicon and germanium crystals, each the size of a hockey puck, located deep underground to avoid interference from background cosmic radiation. Physicists have tried in vain to identify dark matter on Earth since the 1930s, and there have been false alarms about its discovery before.

With Friends Like These...

In a study sure to raise eyebrows among scolds and radio talk-show hosts everywhere, researchers at the University of Minnesota are finding that most young people who hook up for casual sex report no long-term emotional or psychological damage as a result.

The findings are part of a long-running School of Public Health study of more than 1,300 people ages 18-24. In it, the researchers say there are no differences in reports of depression or self-esteem among respondents, whether or not they engaged in casual sex. 

Minnesotan to Stand Trial in Iran

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