May 4, 2008

Teens Shot Near Cinco De Mayo Celebration

Two teenagers were shot near a Cinco de Mayo celebration in St. Paul Saturday.

The teens were shot within a block of one another, one on Baker Street East near Mt. Hope, and the second in the 200 bloc of Prescott Street. There is some discrepancy as to what time the teens were shot with WCCO saying around 6:30 p.m. and KSTP reporting around 4:30 p.m.

The first shooting victim was a 14-year-old boy, who police say was shot in the back on the sidewalk. The victim was listed in critical condition at Gillette Children's Hospital Sunday morning.

The second victim, a 17-year-old boy, was found shot in the leg at a home. He was taken to Regions Hospital, but was leased soon after.

Police say they are not sure whether the shootings were related. Since Saturday, five people have been arrested in connection with the shootings.

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Food Recall Affects Meat Sold At Target Stores

A New York City company is recalling more than a quarter of a million pounds of meat and poultry after learning that it was contaminated with the Listeria bacteria.

According to the U.S. Agriculture Department the recall includes several brands of fresh and frozen products purchased from Gourmet Boutique, which is located in Queens.

The recall includes some types of chicken salad and sandwhiches whi were sold under the companies name, Gourmet boutique, and some frozen burritos and wraps sold under "Jan's" and the Target stores brand "Archer Farms."

The bacteria was detected after sampling by federal food safety inspectors and Florida agriculture officials.

Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If the infection is not treated, it may spread to the nervous system where it can cause headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance or convulsions.

Infections by Listeria during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or infection in the newborn.

For those suffering from a depressed immune system, an infection can be fatal.

No illnesses have been reported.

Gourmet Boutique said in a recorded message to CNN that it has made "environmental changes" to prevent the problem in the future.

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California Man Says Internet Photo Not that of Missing Chicago Girl

The photo of a 17-year-old California girl is being investigated by the FBI after a forensic artist released that she is almost certain that the photo is that of a missing Chicago girl.

Tionda Bradley and her sister Diamond were kidnapped from their home in 2001. After an exhaustive police search no leads as to the girl's disappearance were uncovered. That is until earlier this week when a Houston forensic artist said that she is certain that the photo seen on is that of Tionda Bradley.

But a man claiming to be the father of the teenager told CBS 2 over the phone from his home in Chula Cista, Calif. that the picture was actually of his daughter. Jeff Smith apologized to the Bradley family for raising hopes that their child may have been found.

"I hate to have the family suffer like this, it is very disheartening," he said.

According to CBS2, sources told the station that California FBI agents will be looking into the girls background and checking birth certificates, school records and maybe ever DNA to verify Smith's claim that the girl is not Tionda Bradley.

Reports earlier in the week released that the artist, Lois Gibson who works with the Houston Police Department, was certain that the girl was in fact Tionda Bradley.

"I took a hard look at them for the first time and I do not say this lightly, but it's her," Gibson told a reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times.

Gibson then went on to explain that the girl in the photo has the same nose, nostrils and lips as the missing girl.

"They're going to have to get computers, they're going to have to use the Patriot Act, they're going to have to find her now," said Shelia Bradley-Smith, the great-aunt of the missing Bradley sisters.

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Sister of Austrian Father who Imprisioned his Daughter Speaks Out

The sister-in-law of the man accused of locking his daughter in a dungeon for over 20 years and repeatedly raping her opened up to The Associated Press for an exclusive television interview.

Josef Fritzl is accused of locking his 17-year-old daughter in a soundproof dungeon where he repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children, one of which died in infancy.

The woman, who was identified only as Christine R. by the associated press said that the daughter, Elisabeth, ran away from home when she was 17-years-old, about 6-months before being locked in cellar beneath their apartment building her parents were living in.

Christine R. described Fritzl as a "tyrant," saying that he created fear in his home that helped him implement the elaborate cover-up of his daughters disappearance.

Fritzl told family members that Elisabeth had ran away and joined a cult, abandoning thee of her children on the couples doorstep.

"When he said it was black, it was black, even when it was 10 times white," said Christine. "He tolerated no dissent."

Christine R. also revealed that her 68-year-old sister, Rosemarie Fritzl, never believed her husband was involved in the daughter's disappearance.

"She never believed him capable of it," she told the Associated Press. "We spoke about it often when we met. And I would say, 'Rosemarie, where can Elisabeth be?' I even told her myself, she is definitely in a cult where you can only have a certain amount of children, or they don't want sick children."

Police released that they have no evidence linking Rosemarie Fritzl to the crimes committed by her husband against their daughter. They also released that the 73-year-old man confessed to imprisoning his daughter and repeatedly raping her. He also said that he incinerated the body of one of the children he fathered by his daughter after it died as an infant.

Police have accused Fritzl of making up the cult story and going as far as to impersonate his daughter in a phone call to convince his wife, Rosemarie, that his story was true. He is also accused of forcing his daughter to write letters to her mother to explain why she had left her three children at the couples doorstep.

Christine R. said that Rosemarie Fritzl and herself looked for her daughter frantically, searching train stations and places the two knew homeless people would hang out. They even searched the area for places a cult could be, but never an answer.

Christine R. said that Fritzl was arrested in 1967 for breaking into a 24-year-old woman's apartment and raping her. A conviction that landed him 18-months in prison.

"I think this changed their relationship a little," Christine R. said. "You can surely imagine that a woman in such a situation would have been utterly broken and shocked over something like this."

Christine R. said that as time went on, the relationship between the husband and wife only got worse.

"As far I know no sex took place in recent years," she said. "I believe it was because of his prior conviction, and because my sister had been getting bigger. And in any case he never liked fat women."

But Christine R. said that there were no warning signs about what was going on between Elisabeth and her father. Police have revealed that the girl may have been sexually abused by Fritzl since she was 12-years-old.

After the girl went missing, Christine R. said that he would would "go to the cellar every day at nine in the morning and he would often even spend the night there. Allegedly, to draw blueprints for the machines he was selling."

She added that his wife was "not even allowed to bring him a cup of coffee."

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17-Year-Old Girl Gives Birth in Shower, Walks to Hospital

When a 17-year-old California girl began feeling contractions during her early morning shower, she knew what she should do.

Xochitl Parra was taking a shower around 5:30 a.m. when she began to feel contractions.

"I felt his head coming, so I sit down and pushed so he could come out," Parra said. The baby was still attached by the placenta.

After giving birth to the baby boy, she got dressed and wrapped the baby up. She could not call 911 because the phone in her home was disconnected. She said she did not want to wake the neighbors for help because it was so early in the morning.

Instead, Parra walked four blocks to a nearby hospital cradling her son in her arms. When she reached the hospital lobby, she began asking for help according to the director of the St. Mary Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Jose Perez.

The baby was healthy and "eating like a champ," according to Perez, who commended the girl for her quick thinking.

"They could have bled to death; thank God that didn't happen," the said. "She was very clever. She knew what to do. She wrapped the baby up and walked over here."

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May 3, 2008

She Said She Wouldn't Spend One Day in Prison, and She Made Good On That Promise

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, best known as the "D.C Madam" was found hanging from a nylon rope in a shed outside of her mother's Florida mobile home.

Palfrey's mother, Blanche Palfrey, found her daughter's body hanging from a rafter in the shed Thursday, only two weeks after Palfrey was convicted of running a prostitution service known for catering to Washington's political elite.

Blanche Palfrey told police she did not have an indication that her 52-year-old daughter would take her own life according to police Capt. Jeffrey Young.

Police released that two suicide notes and other writings meant for Palfrey's family were found, but did not say what those writings or the suicide notes said.

"She opened the shed to go in and she found her daughter hanging there," said 73-year-old Irwin Matthews, a neighbor who said that she was hysterical and calling for help after finding her daughter dead.

Palfrey was convicted April 15 of money laundering, using the mail for illegal purposes as well as racketeering. Through the federal trial, Palfrey maintained she was innocent, ans said that her escort service was not a cover for prostitution. Palfrey contended that any sexual acts preformed for money were done without her knowledge.

"I'm sure as heck not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone four to eight years, because I'm shy about bringing in the deputy secretary of whatever," Palfrey said to ABC after releasing phone records revealing some of her clients last year. "Not for a second. I'll bring every last one of them in if necessary."

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April 29, 2008

Obama "Outraged" By Former Pastor's Comments

Presidential candidate Barack Obama excoriated his former pastor Jeremiah Wright on Tuesday during a press conference in North Carolina.

Obama said the was "outraged by the comments" Wright made while at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C Monday.

"We have known since 1787 that it is the most segregated hour. Maybe now we can begin to understand why it is the most segregated hour," Wright said about American's time in church.

Obama said that he found Wright's comments "divisive and destructive."

“The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe they ended up giving comfort to those who prey on hate,� Obama said.

Obama said that he had spent his life "trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people," and said that Wright does not represent his views.

"[W]hen he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions such as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS. When he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century. When he equates the U.S. war time efforts with terrorism, then there are no excuses. They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans and they should be denounced, and that’s what I am doing very clearly and unequivocally here today," he said.

The Press Club appearance was the last in a set of weekend-long public appearances. Wright used his speeches to criticize the media as well as the government. He claimed that the controversy surrounding himself was merely an attack on the black church.

"[T]his most recent attack on the black church is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church," Wright said.

He also accused Obama of distancing himself from Wright for political reasons.

"Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever’s doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they’re pastors. They have a different person to whom they’re accountable," Wright said when the moderator asked him about his comments that Obama "said what a politician had to say" in distancing himself from Wright.

“If Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well — based on his remarks yesterday I may not know him as well as I thought either,� Obama responded.

April 19, 2008

2-Year-Old Critically injured After Being Blown Into Lake Michigan

A grandfather was pushing his 2-year-old grandson in a stroller when a 20 mph wind gust lifted the stroller away from him, and landed in lake Michigan with the 2-year-old inside Friday afternoon.

The child's grandfather jumped into the harbor to save the boy according to the Chicago Fire Department. The man, struggling in the freezing water, shouted "Child! Child!" according to witnesses.

"He was just moaning in the breakwater, crying," John Derscheid, who called 911, said.

The toddler was strapped into a three-wheeled jogging stroller, sitting 10 feet below the surface of Lake Michigan. The water was 42-degrees.

Rescuers were able to rescue the boy, who was in critical condition at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago Friday night according to authorities. A hospital spokeswoman would not comment on the boy's condition Saturday.

The grandfather, who was in fair condition Saturday afternoon, was being treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago for exposure.

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Mortar Attack in Somalia Kills Dozens

A clash between Islamic insurgents and Ethiopian troops in Somalia's capital Saturday killed 12 people, wounding 10 according to witnesses.

The bodies of four Ethiopian soldiers killed in the fight were dragged through the streets by supporters of the insurgents said Mudey Ga'al, a witness.

Eight civilians died in the conflict, their bodies hauled away in wheelbarrows. The 10 wounded, including two children, were also taken away by wheelbarrow according to Mohamed Jala, a witness and resident of the area.

Fighting in Mogadishu has been intense for 4 days, with 165 people dying since Wednesday according to the Elman Peace and Human rights Organization.

"At least 52 civilians have been killed in today's fighting alone, but we are yet to account the number of those wounded," said the organization's chairman Sudan Ali Ahmed.

The conflict came when Islamic insurgents and some of Mogadishu's clan warlords vowed to oust the Ethiopians, who helped Somalia's transitional government , which is backed by the United Nations, expel the Council of Islamic Courts from the city in January.

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Court Error Leads to Rapist Release

A man who has been charged in connection with the death of a 16-year-old girl posted bail Friday after an error was made in his sentencing.

Daniel Edwin Jones was convicted of raping 16-year-old Brittany Powell in 2000 after giving the girl Methamphetamines. Jones then dropped the girl off at a hospital where she later died. He was convicted on charges related to her death.

The state Supreme Court said that the 102-month sentence given to Jones in connection with the case was invalid because the case was determined by a judge, not a jury. The Dakota County attorney will now have to present the case to a jury.

The family of the girl is attempting to sue Jones for damages. Jones' re-sentencing will take place in June.

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43 Indicted for Marriage Fraud

Federal prosecutors indicted 43 people for being involved in an alleged marriage fraud scheme.

According to prosecutors, the operation involved the recruitment of U.S. citizens to marry Chinese nationals to provide the Chinese people with visas and other benefits given to immigrants.

Twenty of those involved were arrested between Thursday and Friday, and made their appearances in a federal court.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, two men arranged the marriages, and have already pleaded guilty.

The U.S. citizens were paid $25,000 to enter into the marriages.

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YouTube Beating May Have Inspired Copycat

The beating of a 16-year-old Florida girl may have been the inspiration for the taped beating of a 12-year-old girl in Indiana.

A group of middle school students, ages 12-14, videotaped the beating of a 12-year-old girl. The video, which was posted on PhotoBucket according to Police Chief Dwight ingle, has since been removed.

The victim was taken to a hospital with cuts and bruises, and is the daughter of an Indiana police officer.

According to Ingle, the group of girls led the victim to a parking lot near a warehouse in Clarksville, Indiana. One girl got into an argument with the victim, which escalated into a physical confrontation. As one girl repeatedly hit the victim around the head, a group of other girls watched laughing.

Detective Darrell Rayborn said that police believe the attack may have been a copycat of similar attack which happened in Florida. The videotaped beating of the 16-year-old Florida girl was broadcast on YouTube, and parts of the footage made it on to TV.

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April 13, 2008


Jeremiah Wright sounds Off at Eulogy for Chicago Judge

While it is difficult to avoid the issue of racism and stereotypes with the content of this piece, in my opinion the writer did a good job of staying neutral. Reading the article, I don't get a sense for how the author feels about what is going on, rather, I see more reporting than I do opinion. Since this story is about an ongoing controversy, the information is not that new. I would have expected such comments from a racially motivated pastor, but it does shed more light on how Wright feels about Fox News!

April 12, 2008

Google Earth Teams Up with U.N. to Track Refugees

California based Google teamed up with the United Nations to unveil a new feature Tuesday, the first of it it's kind.

The new feature tracks the movement of refugees around the world, and is aimed at helping humanitarian operations by keeping them informed of refugees whereabouts. Google and the U.N. also say the feature will help inform the public.

"All of the things that we do for refugees in the refugee camps around the world will become more visible," L. Craig Johnstone, U.N deputy high commissioner for refugees, said.

Google Earth software van be downloaded from Google and is used to view satellite images of locations around the world. the new feature allows users to view images of refugee hot spots such as Darfur and Iraq. Information is then provided by the U.N refugee agency as to where the refugees came from and what problems they face.

Not all parts of the world are displayed with the same high resolution satellite photos, but Google says it has made an effort to get users as close to the camps as possible.

According to Google, more than 350 million people have already downloaded Google Earth, which was launched three years ago and intended for highly realistic video games. The software's used took a different turn when rescuers used it during Hurricane Katrina, which led Google to reach out to governments and nonprofit organizations.

Google Earth has paired up with dozens of nonprofit organizations looking to raise awareness, recruit volunteers and bring in donations.

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Level 3 Sex Offender Search

The Minnesota Department of Corrections is on the hunt for a Level 3 sex offender.

46-year-old Timothy Ray VanBuren failed to meet the conditions of his release by failing to check in with authorities in Hennepin County Tuesday. An arrest warrant has been issued.

The now fugitive VanBuren's last known address is on the 2600 Block of Thomas Ave. in Minneapolis.

In 1995 VanBuren was convicted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and for third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 2004.

VanBuren is black, 5 foot 11 inches tall and 230 pounds, with a large build.

Anyone with information about VanBuren is asked to call 911 or the DOC tipline, (651) 603-0026.

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