April 13, 2008

Salmonella Cereal

The count of people who have recieved Salmonella from a recently recalled cereal has reached 23 according to recent FDA reports.

The Malt-O-Meal cereal company, based in Minnesota, recalled its Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereals after routine testing and checks revealed Salmonella contamination in one of their factories. The infected cereal came from a factory in Northfield, Minn. and was produced in the past 12 months.

According to an article released by CNN, the authorities have said Malt-O-Meal has been very cooperative during the investigation, having informed the FDA themselves and having put out the recall immediately and of their own volition.

The infected cereal was released under the Malt-O-Meal brand as well as various other private labels, including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's, ShopRite, Tops and Weis Quality. As of Sunday, there have been 23 reported and confirmed cases across 14 states.

Vermont women drowns self and child

A woman in Wardsboro, Vermont walked into a river with her child in her arms, intentionally evaded attemps at aid and swept away in the current.

Nicole Waring, 40, disappeared with her daughters Dakota, 6, and Grace, 2 1/2, at approximately 1 a.m. on Saturday. They were visiting Waring's parents, and were reported missing Satuday morning by the parents when they woke up to find their daughter and grandchildren missing.

The police were organizing a search party when State Police Sgt. Robert McCarthy saw Waring standing on the riverbank about 100 yards from her parents home and holding her daughter Dakota in her arms. The police report says that McCarthy approached and called out to Waring but recieved no response, and that when he reached out for her she evaded him, pushed off of a rock to walk into the river, and was swept up in the current.

The bodies of Nicole and Dakota Waring downstream later that day, and the body of Grace Waring Downstream on Sunday.

The police have not called the incident a suicide outright but have stated that it was obviously intentional, according to a Star Tribune report, and have said that Waring was acting extremely odd and disconnected for more than a day before the incident according to the woman's family.

Three die in Nepal election proccess

Three people died Thursday related to the elections that were held that day.

One of those who died was one of the candidates, who was shot dead outside a voting station in a small town in the south of Nepal. A political activist also died during some clashes between parties in the Sunsari District, and a man was shot and killed by police when he tried to steal ballot boxes being transported to the voting headquarters in the southern Siraha District, according to sources in the Nepal ministry.

These are only the most recent in over 20 deaths related to the elections. Three of the deaths have been election candidates.

The tensions are believed to be because of the Madhesi people's discomfort with the agreements reached between the Nepal government and the rebel Moaists in 2006, according to a CNN report. Moaists were seen on Thursday not allowing people into polls if they were voting for other parties, and several ballot boxess were stolen or burned.

Despite the violence, the election in Nepal has been seen as a success internationally and was hailed by former President Jimmy Carter as a "revolutionary and wonderful experience."

Man facing exposure charges

A Minneapolis man is facing three counts indecents exposure, a misdemeanor charge, for exposing himself and allegedly masturbating in front of two young women in Walter Library on the University of Minnesota campus.

A women reported to police that a man approached her at a table in Walter Library at 9 p.m., sat near her, and then exposed himself and masturbated. According to the report the woman yelled "What are you doing," and "I'm leaving," at the man, now identified as David Lee Gatson, 39, and that the man then said "No, I'm leaving," and walked out.

The next night a different woman reported that a man, also identified as Gatson, approached her at a table in Walter Library at 8:45 p.m. and passed her a note that said "That's a nice phone does it take pictures," before arranging chairs around her in a type of barricade. He then sat down, exposed himself and began to masturbate.

According to the police roport Gatson has three prior indecent exposure convictions in Hennepin County in the past three years.

Sex offender tries to strike again

A convicted sexual offender from Minneapolis is being charged with third-degree attempted criminal sexual conduct and attemped false imprisonment for an incident on the morning of April 8. Both are felony charges.

Michael Nicholas Kocur, 40, is being brought on these charges after following a 14-year-old girl to school on the morning of the eighth. The girl told police that he had been following her in a car on the way to her bus stop and had passed her and then come back several times before stopping and offering her a ride. She told police that when she refused and tried to leave the man said "Come on, I can give you a ride anywhere you want to go. It's no problem," according to the criminal complaint. The girl said he left when she opened her cell phone to call 911.

Kocur told police that he had been under great amounts of stress lately, according to a Star Tribune article, and that he had been using prostitutes. He said he had been trying to pick up a oprostitute before going to work, and claimed that he thought the girl was eightteen.

Kocur was convicted on charges of obscenity and disorderly conduct in 1996 for soliciting 13 and 14-year old girls for prostitution, and twice in 1998 on the same charges with girls of the same age.

April 6, 2008

McCain avoids faith on his campaign

In a campaign circuit last week Sen. John McCain travelled to various locations around the country that had shaped his life and formed the value system in his life, MacCain delivered speeches on his belief in America, but stayed uncommonly silent in respect to his religious views.

Both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton have been very open about their faith and how it drives them in the race, but McCain, so often very outspoken about his views, has said very little about his faith in any but the broadest terms, or in vague references to how it kept him going when he was a prisoner of war for over half a decade, according to a Pioneer Press report on the matter.

McCain was raised Episcopalian and now attends a Baptist church, and was never baptised, but beyond this very little is known about his religious life. Some say that he is a throwback to previous generations, before such open expression about people's deeply personal beliefs was both common-place and expected, but others think this may cause problems in his presidential race, where the people want to know.

It's a faith-based country," observes Sen. Sam Brownback, a Catholic who has been backing McCain'a campaign since last year. "Presidential candidates should acknowledge that and say just what is their identity as it relates to that."

Free dinner with a tour of poverty

A high-end hotel in Bangkok, Thailand offered a group of guests a free 10-course meal on Saturday, the only requisit being that they first toured a town in one of Thailand's poorest areas.

The event was hosted by the lebua Hotel in Bangkok, and the invitees were 35 bankers and corporate executives from the U.S., Europe and Asia. They were offered the elaborate dinner as long as they spent the afternoon in Ban Tatit, a village of 600 people where they raise elephants. The village is made up mostly of run-down wooden shacks, and where as they used to support their village with agriculture and the raising of hundreds of elephants, the now only have five elephants and most of their fields are to parched and dry to support even the village and it's elephants.

A great deal of controversy surrounded the event, according to a Pioneer Press report on it, with some saying it was a cheap and tasteless trick for publicity and others saying it was "a novel approach to helping the needy." Outcries in French media prompted three of its top-rated chefs to back out of the event after initially agreeing to it, and 20 other chefs from France, Germany and Japan followed suit in fear of damaging their reputations by participating.

"You can't see people living in misery and then go back to Bangkok to eat foie gras and truffles," said Paris chef Alain Soliveres, one of the three French chef's who opted out first.

Despite the controversy, four top-rated chefs of Europe still participated on Saturday. Three left the night with 8,000 dollars, and one gave all his pay from the event to the Ban Tatit village. The event has also already produced 50,000 dollars in advance donations for the village, and the hotel is setting up a foundation to manage all future donations.

A new leader is elected for the Mormon community

Thousands attended the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday and voted in a new leader for their community.

Thomas S. Monson took over the role of leading the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints in February after Gordon B. Hinckley's death in later January. Monson was the senior member of the church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, who is the member of the church who traditionally takes over the role when a previous president passes, but the faith calls for a sustaining vote to ratify the position. The ceremony, referred to as the solemn assembly, involved all of the church's orginization's from youth groups to the highest leaders voting in turn for the new president.

Monson was voted in as the new president of the church, and will continue to lead the Mormon communinty as the first new leader in over 13 years. He has served in the church for over 40 years, and while some are anxious to see what changes he makes in the church, he stated in February that he intends no abrupt differences for the Mormon community.

His first address to the church as president was held Saturday night to a group made up soley of male members who have attained the preisthood. He is expected to speak at the Chirch of Christ of Latter-Day Saints' biannual conference later this month, where he has often spoken before, which is expected to bring in over 100,000 people over two days.

Women dead and two children injured as result of police chase

A woman was killed in an accident Sunday morning when a 15-year-old boy collided with her car at Lake Street and Stevens Avenue after being pursued by police.

The woman, 26-year-old Hanna Abukar, was driving her son, 6, and a neighborhood boy, 13, to Sunday school when the incident happened. Both of the children were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment, with one in critical condition Sunday Night.

According to police the 15-year-old boy, not yet identified, was driving near 31st Street and Longfellow Avenue South when police tried to pull him over for speeding, but instead of stopping the boy fled. When radioing in the officers were told that the car had been reported stolen, and they pursued the boy. The chase was called off near Lake Street and 21st Avenue South after the boy accelerated to a high speed. The patrol sergeant made the call as a concern of public safety, deeming that the chase was to fast for a bust city street. About half a mile later, the boy collided with Abukar's vehicle.

The boy was caught inside a Kmart after fleeing the crash scene and taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, and will likely face several felony charges including vehicular homicide, according to a statement made by police Sgt. William Palmer to the Pioneer Press.

One killed and dozens injured in bus accident

A bus carrying high school students home to Pelican rapids flipped on I-94 in the Nerthwest Metro area early Saturday morning, killing one and injuring dozens.
Jessica Weishair, 16, was killed when the bus flipped onto its side at 5:45 a.m. as it was carrying the school band back to Pelican Rapids from a four-day tour of Chicago. Two other students were in critical condition Saturday night, after the crash had been cleared and students were taken by ambulance and helicopter to nearby hospitals. Dozens of students had other minor injuries.
There were 43 students, four chaperones, a tour director and the driver on the bus. The second bus that was carrying the rest of the school band was not involved in the accident, but some students from that vehicle saw it happen, saying the bus went airborn on a freeway exit ramp, skidded, and tipped. Firefighters reported that some students had arms or legs pinned under the bus when they got there.
Stacy and Kim Weishair, the parents of Jessica Weishair, told a Star Tribune reporter that "Even though we are struggling with our grief, we hold in our thoughts those who have been injured and all the students, staff, chaperones and their families who were involved in the band trip."
Other students and relations of the students have come together in an air of agreement that it was a tragic end to what had been a fun, enjoyable week touring Chicago's arts scene.

March 9, 2008

Two men charged with child abuse

Two St. Paul men are due in court for abusing children they were entrusted with the care of.

Marcus Leon Mason, 29, is facing a felony charge for 'maliscious punishment of a child under the age of 4,' according to the Pioneer Press. Mason's girlfriend's 3-year-old son was taken to the hospital the day after he had baby-sat with welts across the boys back and buttocks, as well pinprick-sized bleeding in the eyes, a sign of smothering or strangling.

Mason originally said the welts were just from rough playing, but later admitted that he had stuck the child with a belt. Mason was arrested Wednesday night.

The second man, Jacob James Fredricks, 26, and his wife brought their 4-month-old son to the hospital on Feb. 16 with siezures. The mother said the boy hit his head on the computer table, while Fredricks said he hit his head on the kitchen table and in his crib. The doctors at the hospital told police that such bumps could not possibly cause the damage present in the infant.

Fredricks later admitted in a phone call that he had shaken the baby becasue he wouldn't stop crying, according to the Pioneer Press. Fredricks has not been arrested, but has been summoned to a court date on April 10.

St. Paul man gets 5 years for child sex abuse

A St. Paul man was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for molesting a 9-year-old girl, according to the Pioneer Press.

Bobby Lockett, 48, offered to pay the girl for helping him with yardwork last summer and then, once in his backyard, covered her mouth and pulled her into the apartment building, according to the police report. He molested her and prevented her from screaming, and afterwords she ran home to tell her mother what had happened.

Lockett was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ramsey County and sentenced to five years. Nicole Kubista, his public defender, requested leniency in the sentence, saying Lockett was mentally disabled, and that he was not in his right mind. She pointed out his speech impediment and stated that he had been in special learning classes in school, and asked that he be sentenced to community service instead of incarceration. This motion was denied.

Lockett had been previously convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Illinois.

Eighty injured in soccer brawl

Around 80 people were injured in a brawl at a soccer game in the Columbian city of Cali on Saturday.

The game was between the America de Cali and the Deportivo de Cali soccer squads at the Pascual Guerrero stadium, and in the 82nd minute of the game a brawl broke out between the 'Red Baron' fan club of America de Cali and the Deportivo de Cali team. The fight started at the base of the stands and spilt into the field as angry fans and players fought each other.

According to an incident report realeased to the Associated Press, 18 people suffered stab wounds during the brawl. The were treated by medics at the game and were then sent to a local hospital. Over 60 other people received other minor injuries, and amonf the injured were three police officers and a pregnant woman.

During the brawl, police fired off tear gas into the fight as the brawlers tore down stadium barricades, lit firecrackers and tried to spread across the field.

After the brawl was over, another fight erupted with players of the two teams trading blows when the America de Cali team protested the Deportivo team not being penalized. The America coach, Diego Edison Umana, joined the fight and was seen elbowing his Cali counterpart Daniel Carreno.

Jorge Ivan Ospina, the mayor of Cali, called Umana 'directly responsible' for all of the violence that happened at the game.

Mass grave discovered in Iraq

A mass grave with approximately 100 bodies in it was dicovered in Iraq on Saturday about 50 miles north of Baghdad. The region has been the location of years of battling between Shiites and Sunni members of Al-Quaida in Iraq.

Police Col. Sabah al-Ambaqi said the grave was found in an orchard near Al-Bu Tumaa, a Sunni village outside Khalis. Khalis is a predominantly Shiite city surrounded by Sunni communities, and has witnessed a great deal of battles, attacks and deaths in the past years.

The site was uncivered during a search by U.S. military and Iraqi soldiers. The investigation is still ongoing, but a spokesman from the U.S. military said the remains appear to be rather old, and it is still unclear as to how they all died.

Man found with woman packed in dry ice

A woman's body was found packed in dry ice in a hotel room in Newport Beach, California.

Stephen David Royds, 46, was arrested at the Fairmont Newport Beach late Thursday on investigation for the posession and selling of cocaine. When his room at the hotel was searched the body of Monique Felicia Trepp, 33, was found fully dressed and packed in dry ice in a Rubbermaid bin.

Royds told a repoter that 'everything that happened was for religios reasons,' according to an AP report, and while he sepeated the statement several times her would not elaborate.

Trepp was arressted in 2005 for several felonies, including posession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, in Colorado. Her bail was paid by an unknown older man and then Trepp disappeared.

An autopsy of Trepp was inconclusive, although the coroner did realease the information that her death did not appear to be a homicide. Royds is being held without bail on the drug charges and breaking probation, but has not been charged with anything in connection to Trepps death.