April 26, 2009

Soldier kills two deputies in Florida

Two Florida sheriff deputies are dead after being shot while responding to a domestic dispute on Saturday.
Deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York were killed by National Guardsman Joshua Cartwright, who the two deputies were attempting to arrest for beating his wife, according to the Associated Press.
Lopez was singled out by one of his peers on Sunday when the sheriff’s department met to remember the two fallen deputies.
"He was the person you would want in a confrontation because he calmed people down," Capt. J.D. Peacock, who worked with Lopez and York for 20 years, said.
It was a further dark spot on the Niceville, Fla., sheriff’s department. Eight weeks ago, the former chief was arrested by FBI agents on corruption charges. Nearly a year ago, another deputy was killed responding to a report of an attempted suicide.

Analysis: Firefighters overtime

An article published in the Los Angeles Daily News uncovered that the Los Angeles Fire Department’s overtime pay has gone up 60 percent over the past decade while the number of firefighters has only gone up 17 percent. The article also compares the department’s overtime with other major cities including Chicago, which reported a sixth of the overtime as Los Angeles.
The writer would have used city documents since the departments are all under the city’s jurisdiction. The overtime rates would have been on pay stubs sent out by the city as would the data from pay stubs a decade ago. The story is prominent because of the comparison to other departments and the fact that Los Angeles’ figures are so much higher.
Computing skills would not have been difficult if all the data was correct and available. The most important figure for the article was percent change, which is a relatively easy figure to find.

Source: http://www.ire.org/extraextra/government-federalstatelocal/overtime-rages-for-la-fire-department/

Vikings gamble with Floriday's Harvin

The Minnesota Vikings drafted controversial wideout Percy Harvin with the team’s first round selection (22nd overall) during Saturday’s NFL draft.
Few would question the former Florida Gator’s dedication and determination on the field, however his off-field issues raised enough of an alarm that 21 teams passed on Harvin before the Vikings picked him up to add depth to Minnesota’s offense.
During his high school days in Virginia, Harvin had several run-ins that eventually got him banned from participation by the Virginia High School League, according to the Star Tribune.
He also allegedly failed a drug test when he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine earlier this year, according to WCCO-TV.
"I understand a lot of the things I did were totally wrong," Harvin said to the Star Tribune. "If I could rewind it back to where I am now, I could have dealt with half of those things and [they] would have been knocked out when it was. But I didn't know how to handle things at the time."

12 arrested in Dinkytown riot

12 people were arrested Saturday night after a Dinkytown block party was broken up by police.
According to a report by WCCO-TV, around 400 people gathered in the neighborhood to celebrate the University of Minnesota’s Spring Jam festivities.
However, police responded to the scene when a fire was lit in the street and partygoers tried tipping over a car.
“Obviously [this was] just to cause damage and to cause mayhem and that's not going to be tolerated," Sgt. Jesse Garcia said. "This was mayhem created by drunk college students."
But now some witnesses are saying the police presence actually escalated the problem.
Peter Robins, 21, was one of the 12 arrested, but the junior said he was not part of the riot – he was going there to document the even with his camera.
"I'll never look at a police officer the same," he said. "There's no trust there anymore. And now they're pressing charges for assembly when I wasn't assembling."

Swine flu reaches U.S.

At least 20 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the United States, according to an article by the Associated Press.
About a dozen students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, N.Y., have been diagnosed with the strain after spending spring break in Cancun. The outbreak has caused officials to close schools in New York, Texas and California. Ohio and Kansas have also reported confirmed cases of swine flu, according the Associated Press.
The strain, which killed at least 80 people in Mexico so far, has not spread to Minnesota yet, according to a state health official speaking to the Star Tribune.
The official said they will continue to examine patients showing flu-like symptoms, and they expect to find some cases.
“We don't want people to panic," Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota state epidemiologist, said at a news conference in St. Paul. "This has not been severe here."

Woodbury man drowns in rain water

A Woodbury man drowned Sunday after rain water the tunnel he and another man were exploring near the Mississippi River filled with rain water.

Ian William Talty, 30, died despite efforts to save his life by St. Paul police and three members of the St. Thomas rowing team that happened to be in the area, according to the Star Tribune.

Talty’s friend and companion, 29-year old Nick Breid, was injured at the scene but survived.

Television station WCCO spoke to the victim’s wife, who said her husband was an avid photographer. He and Breid often went off on adventure hikes.

"Even this morning he left me a note that said 'I love you' and where he would be going. I was very nervous about his hikes. I knew that they would be dangerous. I knew some places he would go wouldn't be the best," Nicole Talty, the victim’s wife said.

April 19, 2009

Wild clean house by firing GM

Five days after the only coach the Minnesota Wild have ever known resigned, team owner Craig Leipold decided to further shake up the organization by firing Doug Risebrough – the only general manager the team has ever known.
"I just saw things, and my gut says now's the time for a change so we can go out and get the best person out there who can take this incredible brand and great franchise and great team to the next level,” Leipold said in an interview with the Star Tribune.
"It's time we get some new eyes in here.”
Leipold, who took over as the Wild’s owner one year and one week ago, said whoever takes over as the team’s new general manager will decide what direction to take the team, which missed the playoffs this season after winning the Northwest division last year.
“He'll have the freedom and flexibility to build his own organization," Leipold said.
A major decision will be who should replace Jacque Lemaire, who resigned as the team’s head coach a week ago.

Man killed outside Hopkins White Castle

Police have yet to release the name of a man killed early Sunday morning in Hopkins.

According to the Star Tribune, two groups of people began arguing and fighting around 2 a.m. in the parking lot of a White Castle in the 500 block of Blake Road when shots were fired hitting the victim.

Television station KSTP reports that the victim was a 24-year-old black man, and WCCO TV reports that two black males were seen fleeing the area after the shooting. WCCO also published that the victim was involved in an altercation between two groups in the parking lot before shots were fired.

The Star Tribune is reporting that authorities have two suspects in custody but are continuing to investigate.

Police are withholding the names of those involved pending further investigation and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Crime Lab is processing the scene, according to KSTP TV.

Lawyer argues self defense for accused soldier

A lawyer for the Minneapolis army sergeant charged with killing two soldiers in Iraq said he was acting in self defense, according to an Associated Press article in Wednesday’s Star Tribune.

Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich's is charged with killing Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley Durbin of Dallas base south of Baghdad early on Sept. 14. Bozicevich’s Article 32 hearing – similar to a civilian grand jury – is currently underway at Fort Stewart.

An article in Tuesday’s Pioneer Press painted a grim picture of the events Sept. 14. According to testimonies, Bozicevich chased Dawson and Durbin around the base hours after being criticized by the victims on two separate occasions.

“As I'm seeing Sgt. Bozicevich, he's saying, '(Expletive), I'm going to kill you,' " Staff Sgt. John Dresel said during his testimony. "Pow! I could see the muzzle flash. ... When the muzzle flash came up, I could see his face. You could just see the expression on his face, angry and wild."

According to the Pioneer Press, Dressel testified that after soldiers tied Bozicevich up, the former University of Minnesota student said, “I'm glad they're dead. Kill me,” although none of the other soldiers at the hearing testified to hearing him say those words.

Woman dies in Roseville car accident

An unidentified woman is dead after the car she was riding in was struck by a man evading police, according to a Star Tribune article published Sunday.
An article published in Sunday’s Pioneer Press said Tito Fonzio Campbell, 33, of Roseville, crashed a stolen car into the woman’s car on Highway 36 around 7 p.m. Saturday night. A man riding with the woman was taken to the hospital in “serious condition” while an 8-year-old boy riding with Campbell was also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The more thorough Pioneer Press article said police were called to the 600 block of West Highway 36, where police say Campbell assaulted a female victim in order to steal her car.
Police discontinued the pursuit when Campbell displayed aggressive driving behavior but continued to follow the car at a distance. When Campbell was involved in the accident, police were directed to the scene by a witness, according to the Pioneer Press.
The Star Tribune said police are withholding the all names of the involved at this time while the Pioneer Press published Campbell’s name as well as his lengthy criminal history.
He is currently being held on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide.

Iran sentences U.S. journalist

A day after an American journalist was sentenced to eight years in prison, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the accused will be allowed to present her case during an appeal.
A judge found Roxana Saberi, 31, guilty of spying on Iran and sentenced her in a trial that lasted 15 minutes, according to her father’s interview with CNN on Sunday.
Saberi was arrested for working without press credentials while researching a book on Iranian culture, according to an Associated Press article. Saberi, whose parents were born in Iran but immigrated to Fargo, retains dual citizenship in the United States and Iran.
“She is an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released," Obama said.
According to a second Associated Press article published in the Fargo Forum on Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. is working with Swiss diplomats in Iran to uncover more about the case.
The United States severed ties with Iran in 1979 after the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was seized during the Islamic revolution, according to the Associated Press.

April 12, 2009

Finally, the Obamas have a dog

With the secrecy normally surrounding matters of national security, the first family has finally selected its first pet, according to the Associated Press.

The Obama family settled on a 6-month old Portuguese water dog given to the family as a gift by Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Obama’s daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, named the dog Bo, allegedly in honor of Michelle Obama’s father, who was nicknamed “Diddley,” according to an unnamed White House aide.

“We couldn’t be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha," Kennedy, who owns several of the breed himself, said in a statement. "We love our Portuguese water dogs and know that the girls — and their parents — will love theirs, too."

Furthering the long-standing debate over what breed the first family would select and the controversy surrounding the decision, anonymous aides to the first lady told the Associated Press that Michelle Obama arranged an exclusive deal for the dog story with the Washington Post.

Analysis: International TAs

Michael Langseth wrote an article in the Minnesota Daily last week on the university’s grading of international teaching assistants.

According to the article, the university is looking at using a new test to determine when an international student’s English is “good enough” for them to help other students as a teaching assistant.

In my opinion, the article only increases negative stereotypes that international students struggle to speak English. In an example of poor journalism, Langseth did not even speak with an international teaching assistant for his article.

He also hangs himself in the foot by saying international teaching assistants showed “virtually no difference in overall teaching satisfaction scores compared to other TAs.”

So the only relevance to the story is that the university potentially keeps international students with poor English skills from serving as teaching assists by using an outdated test that is going to be replaced.

However, Langseth does not follow up on how many students take the test and how many are kept out of the program.

Christian center burns on Easter Sunday

Authorities are still not sure what caused a large fire that destroyed around 50 buildings at a 146-year-old Christian center in New Hampshire on Easter Sunday.

The number of buildings destroyed at the Alton Bay Christian Conference Center on Lake Winnipesaukee was not the same among news outlets. The Associated Press published 52 buildings were burned to the ground while a more thorough report by the New York Times listed 40.

No civilians were injured in the massive fire although the New York Times listed one firefighter was injured when a propane tank exploded. An unpublished number of firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and exhaustion.

According to the Associated Press, “The center's Web site says its purpose is to change lives by ‘encouraging commitment to Jesus Christ and offering opportunities to mature in one's Christian life style.’ It says it tries to accomplish this through evangelism, encouragement of believers and equipping Christians to be effective leaders.”

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, according to both outlets.

Snipers kill three pirates to save American seaman

Navy snipers killed three Somali pirates on Sunday, freeing an American sea captain being held hostage by the men.
After five days of failed negotiations to free 53-year-old Capt. Richard Phillips, snipes fired just three separate shots to end the hostage situation, according to the Associated Press.
A fourth hostage had previously surrendered in order to receive medical treatment for a cut hand, according to the New York Times.
President Barack Obama authorized the strike, demanding that action only be taken if Phillips life was in imminent danger. That action was taken when snipers spotted one pirate holding a gun to the captain’s head.
While Sunday’s situation was successfully averted, both the New York Times and the Associated Press published that the events are unlikely to prevent further hostage taking – in fact it might put more American lives at risk in the area.
"This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it," Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said to the Associated Press.