November 2009 Archives

Woman missing for 12 years found in nearby lake

A Florida woman missing for 12 years was found 100 yards from her front step, police said, according to Fox News and NBC.

Gail Schoening of Broward County, FL was 35 years old when she failed to board a plane en route to a job interview in 1997. Her body was found inside of her car, submerged in a lake that had been searched at the time of her disappearance with technology which, at the time, was not sophisticated enough to combat poor visibility.

Schoening's case was reopened this past July. Investigators found that Schoenberg drove through a narrow space between two cars and went into the lake where her Mitsubishi Eclipse flipped upside-down with her inside it, Fox reported.

Details known about Schoening include a dependence on anti-depressants, the death of a younger sister and a recent divorce, NBC reports.

The woman's parents is relieved to have answers but questions remain. Primarily, what caused their daughter to drive into the water in the first place? They hired a pilot to survey local terrain at the time of her disappearance but found nothing. "We're happy she was found, but sad about the circumstances," said Arlene Schoening, Gail's mother, who said she has been asked by authorities not to discuss details of the case.

Schoening's parents are planning to move to Florida, where memorial services for Gail Schoening will be held the week of Christmas. 

UC students protest tuition hike

University of California students occupied buildings across Berkely and Santa Cruz campuses Friday in protest of a 32 percent increase in tuition, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Students barricaded themselves inside classrooms and hallways before dawn Friday, the day after the UC Board of Regents approved the student fee increase. Three were arrested for blocking doors with furniture around 5:30a.m. Friday and another was arrested for crossing a police line, according to the WSJ.

"Show them whose university this is," a man, wearing a scarf over his face, shouted from an occupied building to a group of over 500 supporters. Those outside endured heavy rains to drive their point home, shouting, "Fee Hike! We Strike!"

Andi Walden, 21, snuck in to the building with others Thursday evening with sleeping bags and food. She was interviewed by The New York Times via cell phone from inside the building. "We had to take direct action," she said. "The regents won't respond to anything else."

Protestors also dumped a mound of trash five feet high outside the adminstration building at UC-Berkeley when the Regents voted to raise undergraduate fees to $10,302 from $7,788 next year.

Berkeley spokeswoman Claire Holmes said protestors "made their symbolic point" and then swiftly cleaned up "because they knew it would make more work for the workers they were trying to support."

42 die in Chinese coal mine accident

Forty-two have been found dead and many more remained trapped in a mine in China's Heilongjiang province after a gas explosion Saturday, according to BBC News and The Associated Press.

Rescuers tried desperately to reach 66 people who were believed to be trapped one-third of a mile underground in cold, pre-dawn conditions, according to AP. This is only the latest accident to hit China's mining industry, which is known as "the world's deadliest," according to AP. The BBC reported that more than 3,000 people died last year in China's mining industry, and referenced Saturday's accident as "the latest blast."

The State Administration of Work Safety said that 528 miners were underground when the blast, caused by a gas build-up, occurred. They said 389 managed to escape and 31 were rescued.

Most of China's mining accidents are attributed to a failure to follow safety guidelines, the BBC said, in efforts to meet increasing fuel demands with less labor costs.

MN duo held in Davenport over animal-enterprise charge

Two Minneapolis activists are being held in Davenport, Iowa in connection with a 2004 break-in at the University of Iowa, according to The Star Tribune and the Chicago Tribune.

Scott DeMuth, 22, has been indicted on conspiracy to commit vandalism. Carrie Feldman, 20, is being held on contempt of court for refusing to speak to a grand jury this week.Feldman was offered limited immunity in return for her remarks in front of a federal court, which she declined.

Of her contempt hearing, Feldman blogged, "I do feel contempt for a justice system that prosecutes people for property damage that is done in defense of life, while real violence is committed at the hands of vivisectors, the police, and the military on a daily basis." The blog was created in defense of DeMuth and Feldman, and is being maintained by animal rights supporters and activists.

The UI break-in resulted in over $450,000 in damage and the release of hundreds of animals, according to the Chicago Tribune. DeMuth, who plead not guilty, was arrested after an investigation during the Republican National Committee convention in Minneapolis, according to an FBI agent interviewed by the Chicago Tribune.

Four arrested in YouTube assault spree

Four young men have been arrested thus far in connection to a string of local assaults, some of which were filmed and posted on YouTube recently, according to The Star Tribune and CityPages.

St. Paul police are still searching for two others shown in the video and four other persons of interest, Sgt. Paul Schnell told The Star Tribune. The four arrested so far include Mohamed Abdi, 19, of Oakdale, and three other juveniles whose names are not being released, according to CityPages.

The amateur video is titled "Watch This TV, Ep. 1" and depicts four young men, with what seem to be real names and nicknames, walking through Minneapolis and St. Paul streets wearing hoods and boxing gloves. They push victims, who seem to be randomly selected out of convenience, off of their bikes, steal their hats and punch them, then run away laughing.

The video is accompanied by a trendy indie-rock song and a hardcore rap track. One portion has no soundtrack, allowing the yelps an cries of unsuspecting strangers to be heard.

The video traveled through various message boards and media outlets. Viewers began identifying landmarks and notified the police, who began searching for suspects after several victims came forward.

Palin Goes Rogue

An Associated Press article published this week picks apart the claims made by Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue," claiming that she "goes rogue on some facts" by leaving out relevant information from her record that would show she is not the frugal spender she claims to be.

The ten contributing reporters employ typical journalistic fact-checking in a deeper way than usual to call Palin out on statistical discrepancies, in the end claiming that her publishing of "Going Rogue" is the typical pre-campaign move of a future candidate.

Without being overwhelming, the numbers in the article prove Palin wrong on some of her own crucial claims made in the book, such as the assertion that she does not often stay in "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels. The AP writers compared Palin's travel records to show that she had several extended stays in expensive hotels and that she often amended reports specifically to say that all expenses had been business-related.

The writers often referenced an Associated Press investigation, of which they seemed very familiar, of Palin's campaign finance reports to prove that more than half of her campaign donations were over $500, countering the claim Palin makes that she ran her campaign largely on first-time donors who gave small donations.

The story did not specifically cite most of its statistics. Much of the data seemed to be based on general research done by the writers, such as a background on what is called the "death tax," which Palin credited Reagan for repealing when she criticized the current government management of the recession.

The AP writers then referenced "several studies" conducted about projected energy bill increases resulting from Obama's climate change policy. They also used numbers to specifically show that Palin's reaction to the ruling of the famed Exxon Valdez case differs widely from her initial reaction. They cite another study done by the nonpartsan Tax Foundation in 2005 to illustrate that Alaska depends heavily on federal money, while Palin claims in her book that it is a "practical, libertarian of independent Americans who don't want 'help' from government busybodies."

Local heroes honored for saving drowning man

Stephen Smith and Jason Cariveau, two hotel employees, dove into the hotel pool fully clothed the evening of Aug. 10 to bring an unresponsive man at the bottom of the pool's deep end out of the water, The Star Tribune and The Associated Press said.

Smith, 21, was working as a bellman and Cariveau, 37, was the manager on duty, the Tribune said. They performed CPR until he could be taken to a hospital. They ended up saving the man's life.

Adekunle Badru, 43, of Somerset, N.J., regained consciousness after three weeks in a coma. He has a wife and three children.

The men were honored at the 26th annual Minnesota Public Safety Service Awards dinner Thursday evening, the Tribune said. Other honorees included Richard Crittenden, an officer killed in the line of duty in September and Julie Olson, the wounded officer who shot his assailant. It was her first public appearance since the incident.

The men have been hailed as local heroes.

"I don't know if I'd call myself a hero," Cariveau said, according to the Tribune. "I just hope someone would do the same for me."

Evangelist Tony Alamo gets 175 years

Seventy-five-year-old evangelist Tony Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison Friday for sexually abusing the underage daughters of his followers, according to The Associated Press and The New York Times.

Federal District Court Judge Harry F. Barnes delivered the maximum sentence and said, "Mr. Alamo, one day you will face a higher and a greater judge than me. May he have mercy on your soul," according to AP.

Judge Barnes said Mr. Alamo took girls across state lines for sex and abused his position of authority in the church by threatening young girls with "the loss of their salvation," the NY Times article said.

A woman taken by Mr. Alamo as a "bride" at age 8 took the witness stand Friday and charged him with tearing her family apart, explaining how she violently shook the first time he molested her, the Times said. "You preyed on innocent children," she said. "You have the audacity to ask for mercy. What mercy did you show us?"

Alamo briefly addressed the courtroom before the verdict was announced, saying, "I'm glad I'm me and not the deceived people in the world."

Water on Moon

A large amount of water has been found on the moon, according to The Associated Press and The Los Angeles Times.

"The moon is alive," said the mission's chief scientist Anthony Colaprete, who reported about 25 gallons of water, in the form of vapor and ice, in a crater near the moon's south pole, according to the LA Times.

The discovery confirms the suspicions of experts who have long suspected the moon might contain water, and provides necessary evidence for scientists interested in establishing a base camp for astronauts on the moon, the AP said.

NASA sent an aircraft intentionally plummeting towards the moon's surface last month hoping to detect significant amounts of hydrogen on measurement instruments. "It's kind of like when you're drilling for oil. Once you find it in one place, there's a greater chance you'll find more nearby," said Peter Schultz, a Brown University geology professor, as reported by the LA Times.

Krakauer publishes book on Tillman's real story

A book recently published is drawing new attention to the legacy of American war hero Pat Tillman, providing evidence to back the allegation that the government manipulated his death in a media cover-up, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The conspiracy isn't new, but the book, written by Jon Krakauer, is the product of much research into Tillman's life and the controversies surrounding his death, according to the Gazette. Krakauer spent five months in Afghanistan as part of his research for the book.

Tillman famously walked away from a $3.6 million contract National Football League to join the U.S. Army shortly after 9/11. He was killed by friendly fire after two years of service in Afghanistan.

One of the book's primary allegations is that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is currently demanding thousands of new troops be deployed to Afghanistan, participated in a media manipulation by the Government by recommending Tillman for a posthumous silver star medal, which is not a typical award for friendly fire incidents, according to the Gazette. Krakauer claims that the paperwork for the medal was in the works within 24 hours after his death.

Krakauer alleges that the Bush administration glorified Tillman's death to suppress reports surfacing in the media about tortures at Abu Ghraib prison immediately after Tillman died.

Another allegation Krakauer makes is that the Pentagon attempted to cover up the true cause of Tillman's death by reporting it as a homicide for a month though, according to Krakauer's research, all military officials knew within 12 hours that it had been friendly fire. According to the Gazette, and the Santa Monica Daily Press, the truth came out only after Tillman's family demanded to know the truth about the details of his death.

According to CNN, McChrystal testified this summer that he misread Tillman's cause of death in the report, something that Krakauer called "preposterous" in a recent interview. When asked if McChrystal should be in charge of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Krakauer said no. "Afghanistan is fighting corruption...and here's a guy, who five years ago lied to the Senate. He lied to Army investigators. And he submitted this fraudulent document."


Katherine Kersten's Same-Sex Marriage Column

Local Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten published a column Sunday morning attempting to explain the many drawbacks that would come with a legalization of same-sex marriage.

The online version of the column, titled "The Perilous, Slippery Slope of Gay Marriage," had over 510 comments Monday morning, most of them slamming the editors of the Star Tribune for publishing the piece, attributing the paper's falling profits to "poor writing like this" and criticizing Kersten for her "ignorant 18th-century beliefs."

One featured commenter said he had just canceled his subscription of eight years to the Tribune because of Kersten's article, which "took her idiocy to a whole new level." Another comment argued, "I'll believe you think it's about children when you push for a law restricting legal marriage benefits to those who have them."

Citypages columnist Kevin Hoffman and his readers were ready for the piece. Hoffman immediately published a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis debunking Kersten's logic, describing it as "more tortured than an Abu Ghraib prisoner."

Kersten largely based her argument on the notion that a married mother and father "perform different and complementary roles" in the rearing of a child, and that same-sex marriage would "gut marriage of its fundamental meaning" and take the focus of the marriage away from the children.

The argument continued in support of "time-honored ideas of social organization," and raged against the "unpredictable results" of non-traditional parental structures.

Kersten is widely known as a controversial conservative. In 2008, she accused the suburban Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. of violating the separation of church and state amendment by teaching Islam The accusation  was found to be false after a rigorous investigation by the Minnesota Department of Education, according to the Twin Cities Daily Planet.

Kersten ended her argument by declaring, "The natural world, they say, can stretch only so far before breaking as we tinker with the realities of its systems. We understand little about how marriage has undergirded the order and prosperity we take for granted. We tamper with marriage at our peril."

Hoffman republished the last segment of Kersten's article, only adding, "Which is exactly why heterosexual divorce must not be legalized."

Teen Dies In South Minneapolis Robbery

Minneapolis police are looking for clues in a robbery early Saturday morning near 28th St East and Hiawatha Ave South, according to The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Police found a man seriously injured near the location of the robbery around 1:40a.m. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center where he died later this morning, the Tribune said.

No more information is being released about the teen's identity or the cause of his injury at this time, but police are asking the public for information on the man and the robbery. Anyone with information is urged to call the TIPS Line at 612-692-8477.

Germany Marks Wall Anniversary With Giant Dominos

Over 1,000 colored polystyrene dominoes created by German artists, cultural institutes, schoolchildren and teenagers marked the 1.5 km area formerly occupied by the Berlin Wall Saturday, AFP reported.

The eight-foot dominoes are to be knocked over on Monday, the official 20-year anniversary of the symbolic destruction of the original Berlin Wall, according to AFP.

The dominoes are inscribed with messages, among them "We are one people" and "bleeding heart," accompanied by blood-specked crosses, according to the Associated Press.

The anniversary is an event being celebrated worldwide, with numerous books about the meaning of the wall's fall being published near the date.

"Everyone has walls in their heads to a certain extent," Stefan Scheuler, a resident of Berlin, told the AP. "It's always a good thing if one can break them down, and I think this is a good symbol."

Those scheduled to attend the falling of the dominoes on Monday include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, the AP reported. Some people are critical of President Obama's decision not to attend the event, including Fox News. Obama's official reason for not attending is that he is preparing for his trip to Asia.

Another Review For Minneapolis Police

A teen convicted of felony first-degree property damage outside of police headquarters in Northeast Minneapolis is speaking out against the use of a taser against him, according to The Star Tribune and WCCO.

Rolando Ruiz, 18, has served his 62-day sentence and filed a lawsuit this week against the City of Minneapolis for civil rights violations, alleging that he never resisted police, according to WCCO.

Police video briefly shows Ruiz standing still with hands on a squad car before being Tasered by Minneapolis officer Todd Lappegaard for fifteen seconds. Ruiz immediately falls to the ground and screams for the remaining thirty seconds of the video, when another officer enters the shot and helps Lappegaard handcuff Ruiz.

In an interview, Ruiz said that he didn't get a chance to say anything before he was pinned down to the ground by Minneapolis police officer Todd Lappegaard, WCCO reported

According to the Tribune, Ruiz was also fined $50 and is serving two years probation.

Because of other incidents involving questionable behavior by the department, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan has required official internal affairs investigators to review any videotaped incident causing injury to a citizen or police officer. Dolan has also recently required officers to hold mandatory discussions about use of force.

Ruiz is asking for over $75,000 in damages plus attorney fees because of the Tasing incident, the Tribune said.

"He kept it pinned against my back and pinned himself down against me with his knee on my back and hand against the car, almost like he was punishing me," Ruiz said in the interview reposted on the WCCO website. "I am more emotionally scarred because I have been tasered. It is the worst pain I have ever felt. I wouldn't wish that on nobody."

Wisconsin Drunk Driver Reports Herself

Mary Strey of Eau Claire, Wis. called police on Oct. 24 to report a drunk driver, according to police tapes and Fox News.

"Are you driving behind them?" dispatchers asked, to which Strey, 49, responded, "I am them." Police found Strey and assessed that her blood level was indeed twice the legal limit to drive, according to police tapes and The Associated Press.

According to the press release, Strey has a court date of Dec. 10 and is being charged with a misdemeanor.

Her cousin, David Strey, told the NY Daily News "It would have probably been cheaper if she'd backed off one step and not gotten in the car," the press release stated.

U.S. Army Major Kills 12 In Rampage

An Army major opened fire on fellow troops in Fort Hood, Texas, at the world's largest military base on Thursday, killing 12, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to Reuters, the Army said the gunman, Major Malik Nidal Hasan, was shot down by police at the scene. They also said he was upset about going back to Iraq, and that he was a psychiatrist.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone said that eyewitnesses reported seeing more than one shooter, and that two soldiers had been taken into custody, ABC News said. CNN reported that one of them had been apprehended at a golf course.

President Obama was somber as he called the rampage "a horrific outburst of violence" in a video address released by ABC News Thursday. "It's difficult enough when we lose these brave Americans in battles overseas. It is horrifying that they should come under fire on a military base on American soil."

At least 31 were injured, and the severity of the injuries is such that the death toll could climb higher, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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