April 27, 2007

Infested firewood recalled

Buggy firewood
By Candice Dehnbostel

Agriculture officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin warned Wednesday some firewood sold at Menards may contain emerald ash borers, bugs which have killed more than 20 million trees in other areas, reported the Pioneer Press.

Thousands of bundles of Taylors Wood Products Inc. firewood came from infested and quarantined trees in Illinois, according to WEAU 13. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a national recall on the firewood, but told consumers to burn the wood immediately.

Emerald ash borers, which are green beetles as adults, are almost 100 percent fatal to all varieties of ash when they are larvae, reported The Associated Press.

April 26, 2007

McCain announces he will run for president

By Candice Dehnbostel

Sen. John McCain formally announced Wednesday he is seeking the Republican nomination for president during a speech in Portsmouth, N.H., according to Time.

In the speech, McCain criticized the Bush administration for its handling of the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, plus its treatment of injured veterans, reported the Los Angeles Times.

McCain emphasized his decades of experience in wartime and Washington, according to The Associated Press. The four-term Arizona senator is an ex-Navy pilot and former Vietnam prisoner of war.

Boris Yeltsin received Orthodox funeral

Boris Yeltsin dead
By Candice Dehnbostel

Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin died of heart failure Monday, reported The Associated Press. He was 76.

Yeltsin was buried with Russian Orthodox rites that have not been used in more than a century for a deceased head of state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Yeltsin, the first freely elected president of Russia, turned the country into a democracy after decades of Communism, reported The Associated Press.

Soldier from Willmar laid to rest in his hometown

Dead soldier
By Candice Dehnbostel

U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua A. Schmit was laid to rest Wednesday in his hometown of Willmar after being killed by a roadside bomb near Fallujah in Iraq, reported the West Central Tribune. He was 26.

Schmit died ten days before his tour of duty was to end, according to KARE 11. He was the 58th Minnesotan to die in the war in Iraq.

During his funeral, Schmit was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Iraq War Campaign ribbon and Meritorious Service Award, according to The Associated Press.

New Earth-like planet spotted

By Candice Dehnbostel

European astronomers announced Tuesday they found a new planet outside of our solar system that is Earth-like, reported the Daily Times.

Like Earth, the new planet, which was named Gliese 581c, maintains a surface temperature between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, reported Time. It could easily retain surface water in a similar way as Earth also. Gliese 581c orbits a star that provides warmth to the planet like the sun.

The new planet is 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra, according to the New York Times.

New York plans to plant a million trees

By Candice Dehnbostel

The New York City mayor explained his plan Sunday to plant one million news trees in the city by 2017, reported the New York Post.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the trees planted to add environmental and aesthetic benefits to the city, according to Bloomberg News.

The city’s tree-planting budget would need to reach $37.5 million to reach Bloomberg’s goal, reported the New York Post.

The trees would be planted along streets, in parks and vacant lots, reported the New York Post.

Minnesota cracks down on illegal immigrants

By Candice Dehnbostel

More workplace raids and door-to-door searches for illegal immigrants are planned in Minnesota after an increase in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices budget, reported The Associated Press.

The agency’s national funding for detention and removal of illegal immigrants increased from $1.6 billion in 2006 to $3.8 billion in 2007, reported The Associated Press.

The agency’s regional office in Bloomington, Minn., will be able to hire more agents, plus buy vehicles and computers because of the budget increase, reported the Star Tribune. The Bloomington office covers Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

The Bloomington office arrested 690 people in the past six months, compared to 455 people last year, reported the Star Tribune. The rise in arrests is due to more agents recently hired

Five babies die in Bosnian orphanage

By Candice Dehnbostel

At least five babies died and over a dozen others were injured in a fire Sunday at a Sarajevo orphanage, reported Reuters.

The fire started on the third floor of the Bosnian Ljubica Ivezic orphanage about 6 a.m., according to The Associated Press. The fire spread to three rooms where the babies were sleeping.

Firefighters put out the blaze in around 10 minutes, reported The Associated Press.

Over 20 children were rescued by firefighters, according to Deutsche Welle, and it is believed several of the injured are in serious condition. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Teen fatally shot on Metro Transit bus

By Candice Dehnbostel
A 16-year-old boy was fatally shot Sunday on a Metro Transit bus in St. Paul, reported Fox 9 News.

Earl Freeman was shot in the chest allegedly by Jerome Pablo Cross, reported the Star Tribune. Cross reportedly leaned into the rear side door of the Route 74 bus and fired at Freeman.

Police used bus security camera recordings to identify Cross, according to the Star Tribune.

Cross has been charged with second-degree murder, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Billionaire space tourist returns to Earth

By Candice Dehnbostel

An American billionaire returned to Earth Saturday after a 13-day trip in space, according to The Associated Press.

Charles Simonyi, a Microsoft software engineer, came back in a capsule that landed in central Kazakhstan after his stay at the international space station, reported The Associated Press.

Simonyi paid about $25 million for almost two weeks in space and pre-flight training, according to Reuters.

While on the space station Simonyi conducted some experiments measuring the amount of radiation he was exposed to on board, according to BBC News. His experiments may help create an accurate map of the station’s radiation environment.

April 25, 2007

Stem cell funding bill passed by Senate

By Candice Dehnbostel

The Senate voted 63-34 to loosen restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research, though President Bush is threatening a second veto on similar bills, according to The Associated Press.

The proposed legislature would allow money for research on embryonic stem cells regardless of the date of their creation, as long as they were donated from in-vitro fertilization clinics, would otherwise be disposed of and donors consented, reported The Associated Press.

Bush vetoed a 2006 attempt to relax his policy on stem-cell research, which prevents the use of federal money for studies that would destroy human embryos, according to CNN. He said he would veto the new bill in a statement after the vote.

Backers of stem cell research say it could present cures for conditions like diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries, stated Reuters, but anti-abortion supporters disagree with the destruction of days-old embryos.

Brooklyn Park brothel shut down by police

By Candice Dehnbostel

A brothel house run by young womenwas busted after advertising on the website Craigslist.com to sell sex, said Brooklyn Park police, according to the Star Tribune.

At least eight women were prostituting out of the house in the 8300 block of Idaho Avenue North, which is across the streat from the Little Hands Daycare Center, reported WCCO.

Rochelle A. Persaud, 19, the brothel’s alleged madam, was charged Monday with two counts of solicitation, inducement and promotion of prostitution. Another three women were arrested also, including a 16-year-old girl, but they were not charged, police said, according to the Star Tribune.

An undercover police officer busted the prostitution house, reported KARE 11.

If convicted of both counts, Persaud could face up to 35 years in prison and a $70,000 fine, reported WCCO. http://wcco.com/crime/local_story_100124538.html

Man charged in Dakota County's biggest pot bust

By Candice Dehnbostel

A record seizure of marijuana in Dakota County, with a street value of over $700,000, led to a criminal prosecution, said County Attorney James Backstrom, according to WCCO.

Timothy James O'Brien, 57, of Rosemount, Minn. was stopped by police April 4 in Arizona, according to the Pioneer Press, and the Navajo County Drug Task Force seized 350 pounds of pot. O’Brien was driving to his contact in Minnesota, reported the Pioneer Press.

Jamie Eugene Bannochie Dalton, 31, of Burnsville, Minn. was O’Brien’s contact, according to FOX 9 News. He paid O’Brien $2,000 for transporting the marijuana.

Dalton is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime and one count of conspiracy to import controlled substances across state borders, according to FOX 9 News.

Duke lacrosse players innocent

By Candice Dehnbostel

The three former Duke University lacrosse players who were indicted for sexual assault are "innocent" and the charges are being dropped, said North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper Tuesday, according to CNN.

Laboratory tests did not find any trace of the defendants' DNA, reported Reuters, and the original prosecutor, Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong, allegedly exaggerated the case because he wanted to be re-elected. He is now facing ethics charges brought by the North Carolina State Bar, according to Reuters.

The case started at a lacrosse team party in a house close to campus on March 13 last year, reported USA Today, and the subsequent media commotion focused on allegations that white athletes at the private university raped a black exotic dancer.

Red Cross says suffering in Iraq worsening

By Candice Dehnbostel

The International Committee of the Red Cross Wednesday released a report describing deepening poverty and “immense suffering? experienced by Iraqi civilians, reported the Guardian Unlimited.

Medical professionals are fleeing the country after colleagues were killed or abducted, according to The Associated Press. Hospitals and other key services are desperately short of staff, said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations of the Red Cross.

Bodies numbering into the thousands lay unclaimed in mortuaries, because family members either do not know they are there or the families are too scared to retrieve them, Kraehenbuehl said, reported The Associated Press.