March 2010 Archives

Singer and songwriter Lesley Duncan dies

Lesley Duncan wrote music that was appreciated by many artists, including Elton John, who covered her Love Song on his Tumbleweed Connection album, according to The Times.

She started her success being a backup singer for Springfield and John, and then landed a record contract with Columbia Records.

Duncan was born August 12, 1943. She contracted cerebrovascular disease and died at the age of 66 on March 12, 2010.

Powderhorn Park benefited from local Michael Gramling


Michael Gramling was a Powderhorn Park resident and put together events like alley cleanups, culture celebrations and flower planting. He lived most of his life on the 3600 block of 17th Avenue, where he also organized an Easter egg hunt that is now 20 years old, according to the Star Tribune.

Gramling died of colon cancer at age 54 on March 12. Gramling went to and graduated from the South High School. He served on multiple task forces and was the president of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association.

"No matter where you go in south Minneapolis, you will find his imprint, but you might not know it," said Mary Dobish in an interview with the Star Tribune. She helped published the former Powderhorn Paper.

According to the Star Tribune, a memorial service will be held in May.

Robert Culp dies after falling


Actor Robert Culp died at the age of 79 after falling on a sidewalk by a Los Angeles park, according to CNN.

Culp was famous for his role as Kelly Robinson in the TV series "I Spy" in which he costarred with Bill Cosby. He also played Ray Romano's father-in-law on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

While he was pronounced dead a half hour after the fall, according to Officer Rosaria Herrera, it is not clear what the cause of death was. According to Herrera the coroner has opened an investigation.

Culp was survived by Candace Faulkner, his fifth wife. His five marriages left him with five children and five grandchildren, according to CNN.

Tree grower Keith Jacobs dies


It began for Keith Jacobs with picking out the perfect Christmas tree as a child, and grew to selling his marketing company to start a tree growing business.

Jacobs had tree farms in Shoreview, Anoka, and Sunrise, Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. "He was an inspiration," said Pat Olive, vice president of the Minnesota Christmas Tree Association. "He was extremely respected by both Minnesota and national tree growers, and was a mentor to many of them."

Family members said that he presented the Christmas tree for the Blue Room at the White House for First Lady Hilary Clinton.

Jacob was born in Rib Lake, Wisc. according to the Star Tribune. He attended the University of Minnesota and majored in business administration. He also served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy.

He was survived by his wife Hilda, and his sister Bonnie Rasch. According to the Star Tribune, services have been held.

CNN Photojournalist Margaret Moth Dies


Margaret Moth was a woman who threw herself into war zones and off planes, and gained respect from her peers as she was doing it.

With her heavy makeup, combat boots and black hair Moth was fearless. She was shot in the face while shooting footage in Sarajevo in 1992, according to CNN. After six months she was back in the field.

She was diagnosed with colon cancer three years before she died at the age of 59, on Sunday in Rochester, Minnesota.

In an interview with a CNN documentary crew she said laughing, "Dying of cancer, I would have liked to think I'd have gone out with a bit more flair."

Moth grew up in New Zealand, born Margaret Wilson. She later changed her name to Margaret Gipsy Moth. She recieved her first camera at the age of eight, but she said she never aspired to be a photojournalist. According to CNN's article, she "was mostly driven by a love of history and her desire to see it unfold firsthand."

Moth had an affect on many of those around her, including fellow journalists that she took under her wing.

"She took such incredible care of me and taught me so much," said Patty Sagba, a correspondent that worked with Moth in Pakistan. "I can honestly say that the work I did with Margaret Moth is still the very best work of my career."

Moth's ashes will be taken back to her home in Istanbul, where they will be put in her garden so she can be near her cats, as she wanted, according to CNN's article.

Deal reached with Ground Zero workers' health claims

Ten thousand rescue workers and cleanup workers from 9/11's Ground Zero that filed lawsuits against the city for respiratory-related ailments have reached a settlement with the city for up to $657.5 million dollars.
The dispensing of the money will happen on a case by case basis, and because of the "intense public interest" of the case, according to the New York Times, the judge, Judge Hellerstein, will review each settlement and hold "fairness hearings," which according to legal experts is unusual.
According to MSNBC, most, if not all of the funds for this settlement will come from a grant for $1 billion dollars from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to the New York Times the city initially questioned the timing and connection of these illnesses to 9/11, and considered themselves immune from damages during a national emergency.
Many plaintiffs and their families seem content with the settlement, but some are still outraged with the city's reaction and timing.
"Why did families who had to bury somebody have to wait this long?" saidKenny Specht, 41, a retired firefighter who has thyroid cancer. "Why didn't they handle this in a timely manner?"

ANALYSIS:
I believe that even though in large cases like this where a person's tendency is to side with the victims of the situation, I can see how skeptical the city would be in dealing with a situtation like this. If people are filing lawsuits because of things such as asthma, which could develop in a person over any period of time, I would be skeptical too. But the main issue here, it seems to me, is not necessarily that these workers did in fact have health problems after spending anywhere from weeks to months cleaning up after 9/11, but that they were the ones who did the dirty work for the city, and for the country, and that they should get some kind of compensation for the aftermath. I think the city is handling it well by agreeing to a hefty settlement, and I think the judge is also handling it well by following up on each individual settlement to make sure it's fair.

Minneapolis lawyer acquitted of rape

March 12, 2010 10:21 a.m.

Al Garcia, 50, was acquitted of rape on Monday after a prospective client accused him of forcing sex on her in his office on August 7, 2008.
The woman claimed that cocaine was involved, and that after she escaped him he hid under his desk with his pants down, in a "paranoid state." According to the Star Tribune, Garcia never took the stand during the trial.
"There was sex, there was drugs, and there was consent," said Paul Edlund, Garcia's attorney.
Three other women also took the stand as saying that Garcia behaved sexually inappropriate or forced sexual acts upon them in their time working with him as clients or relatives of clients, according to the Star Tribune.
Edlund said that Garcia's actions were unprofessional but that he was "not a rapist."
As the Star Tribune puts it, Edlund "ridiculed" the idea that the woman spent 78 minutes in the office with Garcia. Since the legal consultation was 30 minutes, Edlund said that this only left "48 minutes for this all-out, knock-down, drag-out rape."
According to City Pages, Garcia still faces charges of witness-tampering because of phone calls he made to prevent his accuser from testifying.
Even though he was acquitted, Garcia remains in custody, according to the Star Tribune, to begin his five-year sentence for a drug-related charge, when he took drugs as payment for legal services last February.

School lockdown in Minneapolis extended

March 11, 3:22 p.m.

The lockdown initiated 9:30 am Wednesday has been extended to today for Minneapolis schools because of a shooting threat.
According to the Star Tribune, administration used the same system to send a recording to all parents via phone to alert them of the lockdown as the anonymous Australian tipper used to send the threat. The caller said that on a social networking site someone said that "a male will be coming to a Minneapolis school, shoot up the school and then shoot himself," according to Minneapolis police spokesman Jesse Garcia.
"It's unnerving to have these threats," said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, "but you also have to decide, if every threat that comes in means you close schools or send the kids home, you could see how quickly somebody can disrupt the education of thousands of kids day after day."
According to the Associated Press, the FBI has been alerted along with the international police organization Interpol.
As the Star Tribune puts it, a hoax was suspected with the initial warning given to the schools. According to Saint Paul police Sgt. Paul Schnell, investigators in both cities have confirmed that the threats came from a teenager with no connection to the schools.

Ex-congressman accuses Democratic leaders of setting him up

March 10, 2010
Former New York Representative Eric Massa denied any type of sexual misconduct and claims that the Democratic House leaders wanted him out for health care purposes.
According to the New York Times, Massa claimed to resign after a "reoccurence cancer scare," and according to CNN, he had no idea of the allegations against him until after his decision to resign.
The New York Times said that in a radio interview, Massa said that this was an orchestrated campaign by not only Democratic leaders but also White House officials to rid the House of Massa because of his opposition to health care legislation.
"You have my apology and you have my resignation because I am a human being," said Massa on the radio show. "But I will not go quietly into the evening. I will not be ashamed of my actions other than the fact that I used inappropriate verbal language and I was set up for this from the very, very beginning."
Democratic leaders have denied Massa's claims, according to the New York Times. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary called these claims "crazy" and noted Massa's frequently changing story.

Seven arrested for suspected plot to murder cartoonist

March 9, 2010 11:33 am

Irish police arrested three women and four men suspected of plotting to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
According to CNN, Vilks published a cartoon of the Muslim prophet Muhammed with the body of a dog in 2007, causing al Qaeda to offer $100,000 to any persons who killed him, including an extra $50,000 if they slit his throat. The seven suspects were arrested in Waterford and Cork, and were all between they're late 20s and early 40s, according to authorities. Ireland's national broadcaster said that all the suspects were refugees legally residing in Ireland, but were originally from Morocco and Yemen.
New York Times stated that Vilks was targeted even earlier, in 2005 when he first drew Mohammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
According to CNN's interview with Vilks, his drawing of Mohammed as a dog was purposeful.
"That's a way of expressing things," said Vilk. "If you don't like it, don't look at it. And if you look at it, don't take it too seriously. No harm done, really."
CNN's article states that "dogs are seen as unclean by conservative Muslims, and that any depiction of the prophet is strictly forbidden."
Vilks said in his interview that "No one actually loves the truth, but someone has to say it," and that as an atheist he is an "equal opportunity offender" and has drawn Jesus as a pedophile.
New York Times states at the end of their article the correction that Vilks is not a cartoonist but rather an artist.

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