May 6, 2007

Paris Hilton gets 45 days in jail

Paris Hilton, socialite and heiress to the hotel fortune, received a sentence of 45 days in jail after driving with a suspended license and violating her probation stemming from a September DUI arrest, the AP and msnbc.com are reporting.

A judge sentenced the heiress to 45 days in a correctional facilty without work-release options. He also denied her option to pay for the jail term and serve the sentence in generally better prisons and under more lax conditions.

Hilton testified that she thought her license was suspended for only 30 days, and that then she could drive for work purposes. Her spokeperson testified the same thing. the judge called her spokeperson's testimony "worthless" and said that Hilton was given verbal and written reminders on subsequent traffic stops, which were then found, signed and in Hilton's glove compartment.

Hilton's lawyer says they plan to appeal.

Guess money can't buy everything.

Girl slashed at Mall of America

Two fourteen year old girls were involved in an altercation at the MOA on Saturday in which one girl slashed the other repeatedly with a razor-like object, the Pioneer Press is reporting.

The girl was taken into custody after the incident just outside the mall. The other girl was taken to the hospital with critical wounds, that were not life-threatening. Police say the girls knew each other prior, and the case was an isolate incident which was not threatening to the general public.

Dayton wants to run for Governor

Former U.S. senator Mark Dayton plans to run for Minnesota Governor in 2010, the Star Tribune is reporting.

He made the announcement at a DFL dinner in Rochester on Friday, and said he plans could change in the next three years. Though he has not formed a committee or officially started raising funds, Dayton has run for Governor in the past. In 1998 Dayton finished fourth in the DFL primary.

Despite some poor reactions to Dayton's performance as senator, he says he feels that he has grown and improved since initiating his elected official run.

Tornado kills 10 in Kansas

Tornadoes that struck northern central Kansas on Friday have killed 10 people, msnbc.com is reporting. Tornadoes have been touching down all over the state and plains this weekend.

Kansan officials confirm that areas are still unsafe for residents to return to. Search efforts in Kansas are still ongoing. Congresspeople from the state called the tornadoes some of the worst they've ever seen. President Bush promised federal support, and almost all landmarks and business were totally leveled in Greensburg, Kansas.

Flooding is also a concern throughout the state. Officials are looking to rebuilding efforts after the search efforts and general shock subside.

French elect Sarkozy for next President

France elected Nicolas Sarkozy as the next French President on Sunday, msnbc.com is reporting. Sarkozy beats his female, socialist opponent Segolene Royal with 53% of the vote. Royal conceded minutes after the polls closed.

Sarkozy, the conservative candidate, will take over after Jacques Chirac's stagnant 2 term presidency. Sarkozy faces a country with a declining economy and declining international relevance.

Sarkozy has pledged that the U.S. will become a closer ally with France, and that Washington can expect "friendship" from his administration. Sarkozy, like Bush, is a hardliner on things such as immigration policy. Some in France worry that he will ignite long simmering tensions in the marginalized outskirts of Paris where many minorities reside.

Officials estimate that voter turnout was around 85% for this election, a 40 year high.

April 29, 2007

Vikings and Packers don't make the best Draft pick choices

According to FOX Sports, the Vikings' weekend draft pick recieved a "grade" of a B-, while the Packers recieved a C "grade."

Both teams used their first round pick for players recovering from injuries, which is rarely an advisable move. The Vikings passed on a quarterback pick, signifying faith in their QB of one year's performance. They picked a running back from Oklahoma, and a wide reciever from South Carolina for their first and second rouond picks. Later draft round picks were less high profile, but said to be of "good value."

The Packers picked a lineman from Tennessee who is recovering from shoulder surgery, and therefore has little indication of his recent or future play quality. Their 2nd round pick was a running back from Nebraska, who many experts thought should have stayed in college for his senior year to further develop his skills.

Less jail time even in fatal drunk driving cases

While the punishments for DWI in Minnesota have been tightened and intensified on paper, they may not be carried out in the same fashion, the Star Tribune is reporting.

The Blood alcohol level was lowered recently, and changes were made so that the fourth DWI conviction in a 10 year span would count as a felony in Minnesota, but these changes are not giving the satisfaction to victim's families.

While state law recommends 4 years in prison for vehicular homicide, people quoted in the story who had lost loved ones were upset with the perpetrator recieving far less than that, in some cases only a year in jail. Those sentences are sometimes reduced when the defendant shows remorse, and also so that jail time can be balanced with time for mandated rehabilitation.

Man shot and killed in St. Paul

A man was shot and killed Sunday in St. Paul, the Star Tribune is reporting.

Police were called to the scene of a fatal shooting Sunday night, and the victim died shortly after police arrived on the scene.

A 23 year old man was arrested at the scene in connection to the shooting. Police are not releasing his name, nor the victim's name at this time. However, police do say that the men likely knew each other, and it was not a random shooting.

The crime took place in the 1100 block of Randolph Avenue of St. Paul, police said.

Amnesty International releases report on China

The human rights watchdog group, Amnesty International, has released a report on ongoing human rights abuseing in China, msnbc.com is reporting.

China, the host of the 2008 Olympics, was criticsed for it's repression of free speech and media, as well as it's system of detention without trial (seen in many cases with activists), the report said. Amnesty says strides have been made in China, but that it is not living up to it's human rights promises prior to the 2008 world attention it will receive with the Olympics.

After high profile pressure, China has started reform on its death penalty system, decreasing the numbers of people put to death, as well as loosening restrictions on foreign journalists entering the country. Repression on domestic journalists and the use of the death penalty has not been eradicated.

Shooting spree in Kansas City

A Kansas City man went on a shooting rampage Sunday, killing 3 people before being shot by police, msnbc.com is reporting.

The man was caught in a traffic stop driving a woman's car who had been shot to death earlier in the day in an incident police say is likely related. The man then shot the officer in the arm, eventually making his way to a local Target, where he killed 3 people.

Employees at the Target store said people were diving for cover, from what they saw to be a man in his 50s shooting a rifle.

Names and identies have not been released as family notification is still pending. No motive for the shooter has been released either.

April 22, 2007

Man flees country in light of car crash

A man charged with killing 2 women while driving drunk has fled the country to his native China, the Star Triubne reports.

Fei Ni was driving his SUV on the wrong side of the freeway when he struck and killed two women.

He was charged and placed in jail with a bail option. Initially, the bail was $100,000 and the District Attorney raised that amount to $200,000 when Ni was deemed a flight risk. However, the intial condition that Ni surrender his passport was rescinded after the bail was raised, and Ni was able to retain his passport, which showed he was a Chinese national.

Technically, Ni did not break the law until he failed to show up for his court date. However, there is now a warrant out for his arrest, and his is considered a fugitive. The US does not, however, have an extradition treaty with China. This means that there is no compelling legal reason for China to send Ni back to the U.S.

It is likely that the only way to ever charge for this crime is if he leaves China.

Student dies after crash with drunk driver

A University of Minnesota student died Friday after being hospitalized since Easter Sunday, when her car was hit by a drunken driver, the Star Tribune is reporting.

Melissa Speich, 23, was driving by the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis on Easter Sunday evening, when Geoffrey Baker, 33, ran a red light and hit Speich's car. Baker was intoxicated at the time of the crash, and police expect him to face homicide charges.

Baker had a blood-alcohol that was twice the legal limit, and has had 3 prior DUIs.

Speich was in ICU care for almost two weeks where friends and family rallied around her. Students at the U of M even created web-based groups on sites like facebook to wish her well.

No information about the services has been disclosed.

France holds runoff Presidental election

France held the it's first election in deciding their next President, the NY Times is reporting.

France holds an inital election with runoff voting (a system that includes ranking candidates on the ballot) and elected Nicloas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal as their choices to move forward in the election process.

Royal, a socialist candidate, trailed Sarkozy, a conservative by 5% with other candidates splitting the remainder of the votes.

The next elections will take place later in spring. France is widely considered to be in an economic decline, with their GDP slipping in ranking, ethnic tensions, and rising unemployment.

Both candidates could be the first President that was born after WWII, and Royal could be the first female President of France.

The candidates vary greatly on issues, with Royal supporting a more socialist democracy, and Sarkozy with a more nationalistic "law and order" means of governing.

Almost 84% of registered voters particpated in this election, many with strong views on the candidates and parties. The country, in the midst of a decline of power and economics, has suffered under current President Chirac's lask-lustre terms. Known for being politically involved and nationalistic, the French elections are sure to be closely watched, with high participation rates.

McCain calls for Greenhouse gas caps

John McCain, the AZ Republican senator running for President, released excerpts of a speech he plans to give Monday on the dangers of Global Warming the NY Times is reporting.

In the excerpts, McCain calls for a cap on American Greenhouse gas emissions, pointing to a variety of different reasons for doing so. McCain calls it an issue that needs immediate, urgent attention.

He says that with our reliance on foreign oil, we leave ourselves open to vulnerabilities. The speech points to the example of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezulea at odds with President Bush. He says Chavez has used the income and strength of having an oil-rich country to move his Presidency towards something resembling a socialist dictatorship.

In McCain's speech he favors capping emissions, and giving a financial incentive to companies to curb their emissions.

Prison wrongly frees Felon

Officials at the Kentucky Correctional and Psychiatric Center freed Timothy Rouse, a felon, after recieving a fax, msnbc.com is reporting. However, officials did not bother to look at the origins of the fax and realize that instead of coming from the State Supreme court, as it claimed to, it was actually from a grocery store.

In addition, the fax was filled with grammatical and spelling errors which also went unnoticed by the police when they released him on April 6th.

Rouse, 19, who was in prison for beating an elderly man, was taken back into custody this week after being found staying at his mother's house.

Police officials were quoted as calling him "dangerous," and are investigating who faxed the note.

Officials also made excuses for the embarrassing error, saying that spelling errors in those types of faxes were not uncommon. No explanation was made for the lack of double-checking a fax, the fact that the fax was not on letterhead, nor for the fact that the origins of the fax were not looked into.

Needless to say, the Kentucky officials who released him are probably pretty embarrassed. Oops.