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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.

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.

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

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.

April 13, 2007

Imus fired, speaks

After making sexual and racist comments earlier this week, Don Imus met with the Rutgers women’s basketball team Thursday night, just hours after being fired from CBS.

Head coach C. Vivian Stringer said on Friday that the team accepted Imus’ apology and are in the process of forgiving, CNN.com reported.

The team had played for the NCAA women’s national championship last week, losing to Tennessee. On Imus’ radio show, he called the players “nappy-headed hoes.? The derogatory language left many people outraged and shocked, which set off a national debate. The story could be seen on television shows from CNN to Sportscenter.

The issue even brought Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson into the mix. Imus apologized on air last week and tried to explain himself on Sharpton’s radio show. Sharpton has become a key player with the issue, and said he will continue to peruse people who make similar comments in the media. Sharpton applauded the firing of Imus, calling it “a victory in the battle against abuse of the airwaves.?

Imus, who was once named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America by Time magazine and a member of the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame, was one of radio’s original “shock jocks.? He’s always been controversial, MSNBC.com reported.

The Rutgers team has spoken of their hurt by the comments frequently throughout the week. They have received some hate e-mails from Imus fans, but have received numerous positive e-mails as well, MSNBC.com reported. The team insisted that it had never called for Imus to be fired.

Another issue for CBS is the financial hit it will take without Imus. Imus’ program earns about $15 million in annual revenue for CBS. Imus’ own show fundraiser also had raised more than $1.3 million up until Thursday, when he was fired.

Both of the articles have numerous video clips realting to the controversy. Videos include comments from Sharpton, Coach Stringer, Imus himself and CBS president Leslie Moonves.

April 5, 2007

Robinson to be honored

Jackie Robinson, breaker of the color barrier in baseball and Civil Rights leader, will be honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball when the entire team will wear his No. 42 jersey on April 15.

The date will mark the 60th anniversary of Robinson becoming the first African-American to play in the big leagues.

Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

According to Buster Olney, a senior writer from ESPN, the idea to honor Robinson came from Ken Griffey Jr. Griffey spoke with Commissioner Bud Selig and asked permission to wear No. 42 on the 60th anniversary. The commissioner agreed and expanded the concept, which resulted in the Dodgers honoring Robinson, as well players like Barry Bonds who will do the same.

Robinson’s 42 was retired from all Major League Teams previous to Griffey’s proposal. Olney said he expects that every April 15 from now on that Major League Baseball will allow its players to wear the number in honor of Robinson.

March 28, 2007

Urbina sentenced

Former MLB pitcher Ugueth Urbina was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday in Venezuela for the attempted murder of five workers on his ranch in 2005.

Urbina was also found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice in his own hands during a dispute over a gun in 2005, ESPN.com reported.

Urbina is accused of attacking and injuring workers with machetes and pouring gas on them at his family’s ranch, located near Caracas, Venezuela on Oct. 15 2005. Apparently there were others involved in the incident as well.

According to Urbina’s lawyer, Jose Luis Tamayo, Urbina surprised workers by showing up at his ranch that night while they were bathing in the pool without permission. Urbina spoke sharply to them, but later left and went to sleep, Tamayo said.

Urbina has denied involvement in the attack, stating he was asleep at the time. In 2005, ESPN conducted an interview with Urbina from his jail cell. Here’s a link.

The victims have continued to recover since the incident. MSNBC.com had a smaller article on the sentence than ESPN did.

Urbina last pitched in majors in 2005 with the Phillies. He is currently 30th on the all-time list for saves with 237, and won a World Series with the Marlins in 2003. He has also played for the Red Sox, Rangers and Tigers. ESPN has a complete list of his stats.

March 23, 2007

Underwear heist

Three thieves stole nearly $12,000 in women’s underwear from a New Jersey Victoria Secret store Tuesday.

Surveillance cameras captured two men and one woman stuffing undergarments into bags, during business hours. Police said that the suspects had bags outlined with “sensor-foiling aluminum,? which allowed them to get away without being detected when leaving the store.

Police said that the suspects took more than $6, 900 in panties and more than $4,900 in bras. Bras go for $30 to $50 and panties cost between $5 and $20, CNN.com’s article said.

“That’s a lot of underwear,? Jersey City Police Department Spokesman Lt. Edgar Martinez said.
Martinez also said no arrests have been made in connection with the robbery.

March 8, 2007

Deadly fire

In one of New York City’s deadliest fires, eight children and one adult were killed on Thursday, destroying a large house and causing other injuries.

Two of the children were 7-month-old twins, and the others ranged in age from 4 to 9. The adult who was killed was in her 40s. Another 10 people were hospitalized with injuries, half of them being severe. The injured included four firefighters and an emergency worker.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the number of deaths might increase. In all, 22 people from different extended families lived in the house, which was only a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. It was the deadliest blaze in NYC since 1990, excluding September 11, 2001.

After the fire, neighbours described how a woman had hurled children from the broken windows amid the blaze.

The fire destroyed the basement and first floor. Investigators are trying to determine the cause, which is right now believed to be traced to a space heater or overloaded power strip. The house did have two smoke alarms, but did not have batteries.

The fire was reported at around 11 p.m., and firefighters had the blaze controlled two hours later.

February 26, 2007

Oscar night

There were a wide range of winners on the 79th Academy Awards night in Hollywood Sunday.

Martin Scorsese, who had been nominated for best director five previous times, won his first Oscar for “The Departed.? “The Departed? also took home the Oscar for best picture, marking the first film of Scorsese’s to take home that honor as well.

Helen Mirren won best actress for her role in “The Queen,? playing British monarch Elizabeth II. Forest Whitaker took home the Oscar for best actor for his role in “The Last King of Scotland.?

Jennifer Hudson, a former “American Idol? finalist, won the Oscar for best-supporting actress. Hudson played a soul singer in the popular film “Dreamgirls.? Alan Arkin won best-supporting actor for his work in “Little Miss Sunshine.?

“The Departed? took home the most Oscars with four overall. The other two victories came in film editing and adapted screenplay.

“An Inconvenient Truth,? won the best documentary Oscar. The documentary is a chronicle of former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate the world about global warming. Gore and the global warming issue were highlighted numerous times throughout the night, with Gore speaking on the issue.

“Happy Feet? took home the best feature-length animation film, edging out “Cars.?

Diversity was a key ingredient this year at the Oscars. “The 79th annual Oscars feature their most ethnically varied line-up ever, with stars and stories that reflect the growing multiculturalism taking root around the globe,? MSNBC.com reported.

Host Ellen DeGeneres jokingly said, “Spain is in the house. Japan is representing. I think I see a few Americans as well; of course I’m talking about the seat fillers. No one can fill a seat like an American.?

For more complete Oscar coverage, visit CNN.com or MSNBC.com, as well as any news affiliate.

February 20, 2007

Man shot in front of courthouse

Police shot and wounded a defendant outside a courtroom Tuesday in Barnstable, Mass.

MSNBC.com reported that the defendant escaped authorities and stole a car from a parking lot. The defendant, Anthony Roberts, 22, then crashed into numerous parked cars and struck a wall. Roberts was then surrounded by police and was shot in front of Barnstable District Court, where he was scheduled for a hearing.

A local news website, thebostonchannel.com, reported that Roberts was initially taken to Cape Cod Hospital. Later Roberts was taken by helicopter to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was listed in critical condition Tuesday night, according to hospital officials in Boston.

Roberts was arrested Friday after he fled the scene of an accident after striking a tree. Police also charged him with receiving a stolen plasma television and suspected Roberts to be involved in a series of break-ins of cars and homes.

February 16, 2007

Cigarette causes fire

A Louisville, Ken., fire that killed 10 people in early February was likely started by a cigarette, a fire official said Thursday.

According to Rob Goodwin, the chief deputy fire marshal, an ashtray was found near a chair and a burn pattern indicates that the chair was the fire’s starting location.

Four adults and six children all died from smoke inhalation in the fire, which occurred on Feb. 6 in Bardstown. Only one person survived. All of the victims were from the same extended family.

The potential victim who left the cigarette was not named. Investigators said that some of the adults in the house were regular smokers.

From where the victims were found, it appears that they tried to escape but couldn’t get out of the house. Goodwin said that the cigarette burned for 40 minutes while producing toxic smoke without anyone noticing it. The fire then spread rapidly and engulfed the house.

The Kentucky Legislature is considering passing a law requiring cigarettes sold in the state to be made out of fire-safe paper, which puts itself out when left alone. Six other states have passed laws like this, along with another 12 pending similar measures.

Within days of the fire, arson, electrical problems and gas leaks were ruled out as causes. A smoke detector was found, but it was unclear if it had been working.

February 8, 2007

Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith dies

Anna Nicole Smith died Thursday after being found unconscious in a Florida hotel room.

According to USAToday.com, Smith collapsed in her room at the Hard Rock Seminole Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., and was found unresponsive by her personal nurse.

Before rescue workers arrived, Smith’s bodyguard attempted to do CPR. Smith was then taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood at around 2 p.m., where she later died.

In the developing story, the cause of death is not yet known. The death is currently being investigated and an autopsy is scheduled for Friday. According to the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, the findings of the autopsy are expected to be announced as soon as possible.

Smith was only 39 years old. She was a former Playboy Playmate, a reality television star, a Guess model and a spokeswoman for Trimspa.

CNN.com and USAToday.com have more information, photos and life stories about Smith. The USAToday article focuses a lot on Smith’s personal life and her current legal battles. The CNN article focuses more on her celebrity career. Both sites also have other related articles on the death, and the current situation of her court cases.

You can be sure there will loads of coverage on the death and career of Smith everywhere.

February 4, 2007

Man convicted after cell phone incident

A man was convicted of second-degree domestic assault Saturday in Missouri for shoving a cell phone down his ex-girlfriend’s throat.

The suspect, Marlon Brando Gill, 25, allegedly shoved a phone down Melinda Abell’s throat in Dec. 2005 during an argument. Bell was immediately sent to the hospital for emergency surgery. According to MSNBC.com, doctors said she nearly died because of a blocked airway.

Gill’s defense claimed that Abell was drunk during the incident and swallowed the phone to prevent Gill from seeing who she had been calling.

“If I didn't want him to see my phone, I would have just thrown it out the window and busted it,? Abell said.

A witness testified that the injuries found in and around Abell’s mouth were parallel to a phone being forced down someone’s throat.

CNN.com reported that the jury was unable to reach a verdict in July for first-degree domestic assault, which would have resulted in life in prison.

The jury could also not agree on the sentence for Gill, which will now be passed onto a judge. Gill faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

January 23, 2007

Parcells calls it quits

Bill Parcells, one of the best coaches in NFL history, announced his retirement yesterday. Parcells retired after a 19-year career as a head coach, the last four being with the Dallas Cowboys.

Parcells’ career includes tenures with the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and the Cowboys. He took three teams to the Super Bowl, winning with two of them, and had a career record of 183-139-1. He brought the Cowboys to the playoffs in two of his four years, an impressive feat considering the Cowboys went 5-11 in three consecutive seasons before Parcells took the job.

Parcells’ departure leaves the head coaching job for “America’s team? open for the first time in four years. Speculation is already swirling on who will be Dallas’ next head coach. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, there are up to eleven candidates that could possibly land the job. The impressive list includes NFL coaches Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher, Mike Martz, Jim Mora and Wade Phillips. Bob Stoops from the University of Oklahoma is on the list as well.