April 27, 2007

Minnesota Property Taxes Rise for Wealthiest

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Democratic-controlled Minnesota House Friday passed a tax bill that would increase income taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Minnesotans to reduce property taxes for 90 percent of the state's homeowners

The bill passed 74-59. It would increase the tax rate from 7.85 percent to 9 percent for couples earning more than $400,000 a year.

The bill also increases property tax relief for renters and farmers.

Law Student Crashes into Mayor Coleman's Car and Arrested for DWI

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

A student at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, was arrested for allegedly drinking and driving Thursday night.

Abbie Raymond, 22, was driving west bound on Summit Avenue and rear-ended St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's city owned car at a red light at the Victoria Street intersection. She blew a 0.26 percent blood-alcohol content, police said. The legal limit in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.

"She still doesn't know who she hit yet. We've been telling her and telling her," Sgt. Tom Radke said two hours after the incident.

There were no injuries and only minor damage to the vehicles.

Illegal use of Disability Parking Spots on the Rise

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Use grandma's car to pick up her groceries, drop her off at church and so you can get a perfect parking spot at the "U" without being late for class.

More drivers are stealing disability tags to get that V.I.P. spot.

"The sad thing is people who legitimately use disability parking permits and who need to park closer to buildings aren't able to because of these people," University Police deputy chief Steve Johnson said. "They usually do it more than once."

If morals don't stop drivers than a $500 dollar fine should.

Even though you may get away with a free day of parking most likely the car is then being monitored. Officer David St. Cyr, the main enforcer of the law on campus only writes about 100 tickets a year for this but does a lot of background checking to catch perpetrators

Fight Disrupts Services for Slain Teenager

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Visitation for Earl Freeman, the 16-year-old killed aboard a Metro Transit bus Sunday were disrupted after a fight broke out behind the funeral home. Friends of the shooter Jerome Pablo Cross were outside Spielman Mortuary on University Avenue in St. Paul. Police broke the fight up.

Friday morning the family canceled church services at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in fear of more violence.

Fighting has occurred between the shooter and the victim's groups of friends for a long time.

Police will not say if the violence is gang related.

Fatty Snacks are Urged to Get Out of Schools

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

A new report by the Institute of Medicine, requested by congress, proposes a set of nutritional standards for "competitive" foods and drinks sold in schools to raise money.

The standards would be applied to the a la carte and vending machine foods which compete with the nutritionally regulated school lunch program. The standards would promote consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products and limit the amount of saturated fat, salt, added sugars, and total calories.

Child obesity is on the rise in America. This is a way to try and stop the problem.

The Department of Agriculture, which sets the standards for school lunches, currently has no authority to regulate snacks, but nine senators are co-sponsoring the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act to give it that power.

Statewide Smoking Ban is on Fire

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

The Minnesota House on Thursday passed a statewide smoking ban.

It includes a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, private clubs, bingo halls, taxis and other workplaces. Yet will allow an unstaffed smoking room in bars that have received approval from local governments. It would go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

The Minnesota Senate already formed a smoking ban yet that one had an earlier start date. A joint House-Senate committee will reconcile the proposals and pass identical bans for the governor to sign. Governor Tim Pawlenty said he would sign the smoking ban as long as it's reasonable.

The bill passed in the House 85-45.

Minnesota would be the nineteenth state to prohibit smoking in bars and restaurants.

April 26, 2007

Possible Habitable Planet Discovered

Summed up by Rachele Cermak

A planet 120 trillion miles outside our solar system seems to be capable to house life. Planet 581 c's surface temperatures is like Earth's and it may have liquid water since it is orbiting a star known as a "red dwarf" in its habitable zone.

That type of star is larger, gives off less light and is cooler than the Sun but will last longer. Up until this discovery, that type of star was thought to be unable to host life on orbiting planets. About 80 percent of the stars near Earth are red dwarfs.

The planet was discovered by European Southern Observatory's 3.6 meter telescope in La Silla, Chile, while using the HARP instrument. It splits light to find wobbles in different wave lengths. Those wobbles can reveal the existence of other worlds.

It revealed a planet circling the red dwarf star, Gliese 581.

FCC Pushes Congress to Regulate TV Violence

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

On Wednesday the FCC issued a 22-page report telling congress that regulating cable and broadcast television violence is in the best interest of the public and action needs to be taken.

"Exposure to violent programming can be harmful to children," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wrote in a statement accompanying the report that "Congress could provide parents more tools to limit their children's exposure to violent programming in a constitutional way."

How exactly the regulation would be designed was left up to congress to decide. What the definition of what "excessive violence" wasn't stated in the report.

Some ideas of how the violence could be regulated were to impose a new family hour; air violent content certain times of day; impose government-required content ratings for violence; and add "a la carte" family-friendly tiers on cable.

Experts on the First Amendment and TV industry executives said that attempts to regulate TV violence faces high constitutional hurdles -- particularly regarding cable, because consumers choose to buy its programming.

Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office said, "The FCC's recommendations are political pandering. The government should not replace parents as decision makers in America’s living rooms. There are some things the government does well, but deciding what is aired and when on television is not one of them."

She went on to say that parents already have many tools to protect their children like the ability to block programs and channels, changing the channel, or turning off the television. Government should not parent the parents, she said.

Boris Yeltsin Dies

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian Democratic President, died at age 76 on Tuesday.
He died from sudden heart failure.

During the Clinton Administration, President Clinton and Yeltsin took part in multiple meetings to help Moscow's transition into democracy.

After Yeltsin's death he was praised but heard little of it during his presidency.

Yeltsin's chaotic democracy was transformed into something called "sovereign democracy" - that has come to mean the absolute ascendancy of executive power.

Over Yeltsin's eight years as President he is remebered for multiple events.

"Yeltsin sincerely tried to do everything possible to make the lives of millions of Russians better," President Vladimir Putin said at a reception after Wednesday's funeral, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The "U" Loses the Egg's Cage

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

The University of Minnesota has switched to serving liquid eggs from cage-free hens in the residence halls. The switch occurred to better serve customers' requests for UDS to be more humane.

Traditional chicken farms keep hens in "battery" cages which are rows after rows of beakless hens. They have about as much space to move as if the hen was standing on a letter-sized piece of paper. The "cage-free" method gives the hen about three times that amount of space so they can spread their wings and walk around a bit.

The director of dining services Larry Weger said UDS uses 2,500 pounds of liquid eggs each week. While
assistant director of dining services Karen DeVet said 2,800 pounds. Either way cage-free eggs are more expensive but students won't be paying more. The university will be absorbing the extra costs, not the meal plans.

The issue started to gain momentum on campus in 2005 by the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. They petitioned to encourage the use of cage-free eggs as a more environmentally friendly and healthier option.

Compassionate Action for Animals, a animal-rights activist group, is pleased about the switch. They feel that because the U of M is the largest university to make the switch it'll put pressure on other school to follow.

April 25, 2007

Teen Shot on Bus Route 74

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Shortly after midnight Sunday a 16-year-old St. Paul boy was shot in the chest and killed aboard bus route 74 by 5th Street East and Sibley Street. The shooting was the outcome of a fight that had broken out between the individuals earlier in the night.

Earl Freeman's relatives were awaiting his arrival to a family barbecue in St. Paul Eastside.

Jerome P. Cross, 17, of St. Paul, was charged in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder in the death of Earl Freeman.

In a statement by Metro Transit they said security measures will be increased since nothing is more important to them than their customers' safety
"We're hiring more police officers, increasing our on-board police presence on vehicles, improving our on-board camera system and continuing to work with our law enforcement partners."

O' Donnell Leaves 'The View'

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Rosie O'Donnell announced Wednesday she is will no longer be a co-host on ABC's "The View" because a contractual agreement could not be reached.

While her time there was short, she did increase ratings. Ratings for "The View" during February sweeps were up 15 percent in key women demographics over the same time in 2006.

"I induced Rosie to come back to television on 'The View' even for just one year," Walters said. "She has given the program new vigor, new excitement and wonderful hours of television. I can only be grateful to her for this year."

Free Health Clinic in River Falls, Wisc.

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Tuesday a free health clinic opened to serve uninsured residents of Pierce and St. Croix counties. It will be open one day a week, Tuesdays, on a first-come, first-served basis.

The clinic covers the basics and beyond. They will care for one time visits, for say the flu, and can also see patients for more chronic conditions like diabetes.

This clinic is the fourth in west-central Wisconsin to provide medical care for those at, or below the poverty level. The others are located in Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie.

Abortion Legal in Mexico

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Mexico City's City Council legalized first-trimester abortions Tuesday by a vote of 46-19. Abortion opposition ran strong in the most influential Latino city.

Opposition is already preparing a Supreme Court challenge of the law. The law gives women in the nation's capital the right to an abortion in the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. The measure will take effect after its signing by Mexico City's leftist mayor, Marcelo Ebrard.

The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate lawmakers who support abortion rights, doctors who perform them and women who have them.

"Decriminalizing abortion is a historic triumph -- a triumph of the left," said city legislator Jorge Diaz Cuervo, a social democrat who voted for the bill. "Today, there is a new atmosphere in this city. It is the atmosphere of freedom."

Controversy arose over the law because it's an issue of personal freedom, social inequality, womens' health and of religion.

April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

Summed up by: Rachele Cermak

Thirty-two people were shot by a fellow student, Seung-Hui Cho, Monday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., who later shot himself making this the deadliest school shooting in America.

It started when two people were shot in West Ambler Johnston dormitory at about 7:15 a.m. and the others were gunned down about two hours later in Norris Hall about a half mile away.

Cho sent NBC news a multimedia package in the time between the two incidents.

Cho, 23, had a history of mental unstability.