May 5, 2007

Kansas hit by tornado

A large tornado killed at least nine people and destroyed everything in its path in Kansas on Friday.

Greensburg, Kansas was hit the hardest. According to the Red Cross, about 90 percent of the town was destroyed or heavily damaged. Hundreds of residents were taken to shelters in schools and other facilities in neighboring towns.

MSNBC.com reported that at least 50 people had been taken to hospitals. One of the victims who died was a sheriff’s deputy.

The twister was estimated to be at least a half-mile wide. Two smaller tornadoes followed the original, larger twister. The storm system then moved on into parts of Nebraska and the Dakotas, as forecasters tried to track it Saturday afternoon.

The weather service reported a tornado in Greensburg about 9:30 p.m., Friday night. CNN said its meteorologist Reynolds Wolf said warning sirens alerted most residents to take cover.

Greensburg had no electricity, gas or running water, and at least 400 of the less than 2,000 residents were in shelters, CNN.com reported.40 members of the Kansas National Guard were sent to Greensburg to help with security, and searched houses for people trapped under rubble.

Rescue crews have pulled some people alive and more are expected to be found on Saturday and Sunday, CNN.com said.

The storm caused a collapse of one wing of Kiowa County Memorial Hospital, which trapped 30 people who were later rescued with minor injuries.

Stabbing at MOA

A female is currently in the hospital in critical condition after being stabbed Saturday in the stomach at the Mall of America.

According to police, a 14-year-old stabbed the victim. It was not said how old the victim is.

Bloomington Police said the incident occurred around 2:30 p.m., on the mall’s third floor. Investigations into determining what caused the confrontation, as well as looking at a potential relationship between the suspect and the victim, are underway.

The victim is currently in a hospital, but it was not disclosed which one in the state. The suspect is in custody.

The Pioneer Press did not have a report on this story as of 4 p.m, on Saturday.

Rollar Coaster Accident

A roller coaster in Japan hit a guardrail at an amusement park Saturday, killing one person and injuring another 21.

MSNBC.com said the roller coaster was traveling at 46 mph. Of the injured, two suffered serious injuries, and 12 people who saw the accident were taken to a hospital after they complained of feeling ill.

According to reports, an axle on one of the six cars broke during a ride, causing the accident. The ride could hold up to 24 passengers.

The accident occurred amidst Japan’s “Golden Week? holiday, in which many families attend amusement parks and other tourist sites, the Star Tribune said.

The park, called Expoland, was closed immediately following the accident. It has been in operation since 1970.

No further information about previous accidents or lack of accidents were provided in the articles.

Wife for sale?

The Brazilian Government has ordered an Internet auction site to remove an ad which a man offered to sell his wife for $50.

Mercado Liyre, partially owned by eBay, was ordered to remove the ad by the Secretariat of Public Policies for Women on Friday, CNN.com said. They said the ad was violating a law banning the offer or sale of human organs, people, blood, bones or skin.

CNN.com said the ad was not longer on the website on Saturday.

The Estado news agency said it was not clear if the ad was a joke.

According to CNN, the man who posted the ad said: “I sell my wife for reasons I prefer to keep short…I really need the money.?

The ad went on to describe the wife physically and listed her qualities as homemaker and companion, CNN said.

Shots

Shots were offered starting at noon Saturday to a potential 1,500 people who may have been exposed to hepatitis A at a Minnesotan resturant earlier this week.

The Pioneer Press reported that another 200 people were given shots Saturday morning, bringing the total number of people to around 1,800. The Pioneer Press also reported that there was a third case of Hepatitis A confirmed on Friday.

The Pizza Ranch in Slayton closed on Tuesday after tests showed that two employees were infected, according to the Star Tribune. The shots are being offered to customers who ate there or at catered events from April 20 to May 1.

Shots are available at the Murray County Fairgrounds in Slayton.

There has been no indication that any paying customers had been infected, the Tribune said.

Health officials plan to offer all customers and employees shots that can prevent infection up to 14 days after exposure. The shots use immune globulin.

The Star Tribune said that Hepatitis A is caused by a virus found in feces, and is commonly spread through eating food or drinking beverages.

Local health officials hope to have more test results on other employees as early as Saturday. There are around 20 people that work at the resturant.

The Star Tribune also reported that this breakout of Hepatitis A has been the first in seven years that it has been traced to a restuartant. In 2000, an outbreak occurred at a bar in Little Canada and sickened several dozen people.
Annual cases of hepatitis have dropped since the 1990s, when they numbered in the hundreds, to 36 in 2005, the Star Tribune reported.

April 26, 2007

Blackout

A nationwide blackout occurred in Colombia on Thursday, with struggles to determine exactly why it happened.

President Alvaro Uribe said the blackout “appears to have affected the entire country.?

MSNBC.com reported that the blackout caused “chaos on urban streets.?

A manager of state-controlled electricity distributor ISA said that the power outage appears to have started with an undetermined technical glitch at a substation in Bogota. The outage quickly spread across the country soon after.

According to CNN.com, work crews had established power back to about 20 percent of the country. The goals are to reconnect the capital and other major cities in a few hours from when the articles were written.

The outage put-out traffic lights, suspended stock exchange trading and left people trapped in elevators, CNN reported.

There is no indication that this outage was a result of a terrorist attack.

According to CNN, leftist rebels have sabotaged transmission lines as part of their campaign to overthrow the government.

Both articles were written by the AP, so the differences were limited. They were basically the same in structure, content and style.

Dog Ordinance passed

The St. Paul City Council approved an ordinance saying pet owners cited more than once for abusing or neglecting an animal cannot legally own another pet.

According to the Star Tribune, the ordinance is aimed at people who train dogs to fight, puppy mill operators and negligent pet owners.

The decision came just two days after a woman was attacked by two dogs on St. Paul’s East Side. On Friday, a 4-year-old girl in Minneapolis was bitten in the head by a pit bull while it was chained to a fence. She needed 13 stitches in her head.

In previous weeks, another woman nearly died after two dogs attacked her, and an 8-year-old boy in Minneapolis was attacked by an Akita that got loose from a local yard.

According to the Pioneer Press, one council member wants the ordinance to go even further to change state law to allow the city to prohibit entire breeds of dogs. Some disagree, saying it’s not the dogs themselves but the owners who cause the problems.

The ordinance, according to the Pioneer Press, is meant to address the problem when the city removes an abused dog or one that has been trained to fight; owners just buy a new one.

Pit Bulls are notoriously known to be the type of dog some owners train to attack. In all recent dog attacks, pit bulls have been involved in all but one.

The Pioneer Press also reported that similar “get-tough? dog laws are becoming more popular as states try to prevent the threat of dangerous dogs. Some states are pursuing criminal charges as well as financial charges, the PP said.

The Pioneer Press has much more detail on the attacks and the people involved in them in their article. They also have numerous quotes from the council, dog owners, shelter affiliates and people who were attacked. They also cited a Supreme Court case in California relating to the issue of dog control and attacks. The Star Tribune article was much shorter and included few quotes. It was more of an informative piece, while the PP took it to another level with detail.

Schilling's famous bloody sock fake?

Baltimore Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne said on the air Wednesday that Curt Schilling painted his famous “bloody sock? as a public relations stunt back in the 2004 American League Championship Series.

Schilling had a right ankle tendon injury during the series, and had stitches placed into his ankle so he could protect a tendon to pitch Game 6 against the Yankees. A red stain, which was previously thought to be blood, could clearly be seen on his sock. He had another bloody sock in Game 2 of the World Series against the Cardinals.

The Red Sox went on the World Series in 2004. The famous bloody sock is now in the Hall of Fame.

Thorne said his source was the Red Sox’s backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli denied Thorne’s claim, and said it was a “straight lie? in an interview with the Boston Globe.

According to ESPN, Thorne said that Mirabelli had told him the story “a couple of years ago.?

Similar charges against Schilling have been made before, according to MSNBC.com. GQ Magazine also claimed the blood was fake and cited an anonymous Red Sox player as its source.

Schilling insists that the blood was real and former teammate Kevin Millar, who currently plays for the Orioles, said it was real as well. In response to the claim, Schilling said, “I got the 9-inch scar for you. You can see it.?

Fight occurs in middle of rush hour

Two women got out of their cars and fought Wednesday in the middle of a local freeway during rush hour.

According to the Star Tribune, the women threw punches and tossed items as they took up the center lane of westbound Interstate Hwy. 694 near the Mississippi River.

Other drivers attempted to drive around the scene until police arrived eight minutes later to stop the fight. The women were arrested by police. The fight caused traffic to be delayed an extra 20 minutes.

The Star Tribune said why the fight started is unknown. The two women were riding in the same vehicle, along with one other man.

The names of the women have not been released. According to the Star Tribune, they are from out of state. As of Thursday morning, the women had posted bail and had not been charged.

Police call this type of altercation a “rolling domestic,? which usually occur on the shoulder of roads, not in the middle.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press did not report on this incident.

April 23, 2007

One week later, back to class

Virginia Tech students and faculty returned to class Monday, just one week after the deadliest school shooting in American history, which left 33 people dead.

At around 7:15 a.m., a moment of silence was observed near the dormitory where the first two victims were killed.

At around 9:45 a.m., a bell located on the center of campus rang every 22 seconds, along with 10 (MSNBC said it was 11 minutes) minutes of silence to honor the victims. 32 white balloons were released as well, representing those who died, and another 1,000 school color balloons were released as well.

It is interesting to note that MSNBC.com said there were 33 balloons, while CNN.com said there were 32.

MSNBC reported that another group of students placed 33 white prayer flags in the school’s War Memorial Chapel, once again honoring the victims of the attack.

MSNBC also said as the students and faculty returned their classes, chants of “Let’s Go Hokies? could be heard on campus.

CNN.com reported that there was an increased police presence on campus, although “not overly dramatic.? CNN also reported that mental health professionals and volunteers wore purple arm bands, along with faculty, staff and students who wore yellow arm bands in honor of the victims.

Family members also held funerals on Monday for some of the victims, CNN.com said.

CNN said that Virginia Tech students have the option of not returning to class for the remainder of the semester. There are no official numbers relating to how many are returning and how many will not return, CNN said. MSNBC emphasized most would stay and do their mourning on campus, highlighting what has been a week of togetherness, unity and community on the VT campus.

Also on Monday, eBay said the gunman did not purchase ammunition used in the attack on the auction site, despite previously published reports, both news wires said.

A statement issued Sunday by VT’s Student Government asked the news media to “respect the privacy of the students and leave by the time classes resume.?

April 21, 2007

Man dies in fire, possible cigarette

A 63-year-old man died in southwest Minneapolis Saturday due to a house fire.

The man, whose name has not been released, tried to flee the fire and was found dead by the time firefighters found him near the back door of the house. The man lived alone.

According to the Star Tribune, indications are that the man had been smoking and an upholstered chair started on fire.

Nearly four years earlier, a woman was critically injured and later died in a house fire that started in a basement bedroom due to smoking. Ironically, this was a home next door to the house that started on fire on Saturday.

The Star Tribune reported that of 55 people who died in fires in Minneapolis between 1996 and 2006, 25 were a result of smoking-related fires.

Sgt. Sean McKenna, who was the source for the Tribune in this article, advises against having an open flame such as a cigarette near any kind of upholstered item.

The Pioneer Press did not report on the death.

Potentially historic Nazi material to be released

A long-closed archive of Nazi concentration camp documents could be unsealed soon. On Thursday, Germany endorsed the exposure of these documents, giving an international agreement a majority among the 11-nations overseeing the historical documents, MSNBC.com reported.

According to the German Embassy in Washington, President Horst Koehler signed the ratification papers on April 13, adopting amendments to the 1955 treaties governing the archive.

The documents, which include 30 million to 50 million pages, are looked-over by the International Tracing Service. The collection of Nazi documents includes death books, transportation lists, camp registrations, forced labor registers and references to over 17.5 million names.

All 11 nations overseeing the documents must ratify the amendments before anything takes effect. Obviously, because of Germany’s place in history and because the documents are on German soil, Germany’s endorsement was crucial.

They are the sixth nation to ratify after the United States, Israel, Poland, the Netherlands and Britain. The remaining countries include Belgium, France, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg.

Survivors would be able to see their own files and historical researchers will be allowed new insights into the Nazi persecution if all 11 countries ratify the amendment.

After the war, the documents were handed to the Red Cross to help find missing persons and reunite families. It later was used to validate compensation claims by survivors or victims' relatives.

The Red Cross has handled more than 11 million requests for information, but has denied most claims due to the previous agreement.

Last week, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution urging the remaining countries to quickly complete the legal steps.

As of Saturday, there was no other news source that reported on this issue.

Cocaine discovered, 1 tons worth

A truck flipped after taking a curve too fast in Bogota, Colombia Thursday, spilling nearly a ton of cocaine across a Colombian highway, MSNBC.com reported.

Police said the drugs were hidden in the truck’s walls and roof, which were ripped open during the crash.

The driver escaped any injury but was arrested immediately. Police said the drugs were destined for the northern port of Uraba, a major exit point for Colombia’s massive drug smuggling industry.

It was interesting that this story wasn’t reported on until today (Saturday) on MSNBC.com. Yahoo! News reported on the incident on early Friday morning. The article could not be found on CNN.com, interestingly.

Twins minor leaguer suspended

Twins minor league pitcher Anthony Swarzak received a 50-game suspension Friday for violating the league’s drug-of-abuse policy for a second time, the Pioneer Press reported.

This was his second violation under the new rules relating to drug abuse. Swarzak previously violated the policy during spring training in 2006.

He was not suspended for his first offense because the drug was not performance-enhancing. The “drug-of-abuse? list includes cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and other narcotics. The policy for failing one of these tests puts the player on a “tracking system,? after the first offense, the Pioneer Press reported.

A second offense results in a 50-game suspension, which Swarzak received immediately Friday.

According to ESPN, Swarzak is the fourth minor leaguer suspended under the drug program this year, the second for a drug-of-abuse. There were 37 suspensions under the program last year -- 32 for performance-enhancing drugs and five for drugs of abuse.

Swarzak, 21, pitches for Class AA New Britain. He is been put in touch with the Twins’ employee assistance program for a second time.

"It's disappointing,? Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “Fifty games is a long time in a season, and it's certainly going to hinder his development."

The Star Tribune did not have any reports about the suspension online as of 4 p.m. Saturday.

Credit Card Scam

Thirteen people were indicted Friday on charges stemming from their roles in credit card fraud, which exceeded $3 million.

Waiters from about 40 restaurants, including locations in New York, Florida, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Connecticut, recorded customers’ credit card information and then passed it on to people who used the information to purchase $3 million of illegal purchases, MSNBC.com reported.

In what seems to be a ring of teamwork, according to MSNBC.com, some members stole the customers’ information, some made counterfeit cards and others shopped for the merchandise.

12 of the 13 people indicted are in custody, expected to be arraigned Monday, CNN.com reported. All are being charged with fourth-degree conspiracy and seven are being charged with second-degree grand larceny.

When police found the man behind the scheme Wednesday, they found 296 fake credit cards, $200,000 in cash, Rolex watches and expensive handbags.

According to reports, some of the leaders recruited waiters and provided them with a device that read and recorded information on the magnetic strips of credit cards. The leaders collected the small devices and paid waiters $35 to $50 for information per credit card.

The scam had been apparently going on since November 2005.

The AP wrote this story, so there were no major differences in reporting or writing the story.