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May 3, 2009

Craigslist Founder Donates to Craigslist Victim

The founder of Craigslist joined the effort Sunday to remember a 24-year-old Minnesota woman who died in 2007 after responding to a phony ad for a baby sitter, television news station KSTP TV reported from the Associated Press.

Craig Newmark made a personal contribution at the concert organized to raise money for the Katherine Ann Olson, a scholarship in her name. Olson's family created a scholarship at her alma mater, St. Olaf College in Northfield. Preference for the scholarship will go to Hispanic and Latino students, in memory of Olson's passion for working with Hispanic children in her community

Newmark praised the family's efforts to help their daughter and sister's legacy live on, and reminded the crowd of over 1,200 people to take precautions when using the Internet.

"Despite the billions of times well-meaning people have helped each other through Craigslist, it's been devastating to see that it can also be used by bad people to take cruel advantage of others," Newmark said as he stood with Olson's family on stage at a church in a Minneapolis suburb. (AP/KSTP TV)

Newmark wasn't available for interviews, and a spokeswoman said he wanted to keep the amount of his donation private. Olson's father Rolf described the donation as "substantial," though he declined to specify the amount.

Craigslist made headlines in October 2007 when Olson was found dead after responding to the ad. The Web site received negative attention again last month when a Boston University medical student was arrested and charged in the death of a 25-year-old masseuse he had allegedly contacted through Craigslist.
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Olson's memorial concert featured musicians she liked along with a local Latino theater troupe with which she once performed. After Michael Anderson, 20, was convicted in Olson's death, the planning for Sunday's concert began after being in the works for a long time.

"Legally we could not be doing publicity because of pretrial publicity and possibly tainting the jury pool," said Nancy Olson, Katherine's mother. "We were very careful about that."(KSTP TV)

Olson said the family also wanted to focus on one thing at a time.

"Who would want to have a celebration concert if we still had the trial to go?" she said. (KSTP TV)

While Nancy Olson said the conviction "doesn't bring Katherine back," she says the family's new passion is keeping Katherine's memory alive through the scholarship.

Mostly Mild Swine Flu Spreads Across U.S.

With 226 cases in 30 states, the swine flu has spread in the United States with more cases to come, The New York Times reported that federal health officials said Sunday.

"I think it’s circulating all over the U.S.,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the interim deputy director for science and public health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a news conference. “The virus has arrived, I would say, in most of the country now.” (The New York Times)

The good news is that most cases of the swine flu, or H1N1, have been mild, she said. Cases in Mexico seem to be leveling off, health officals there said.

"I don't think we're out of the woods yet," Schuchat said.

However, a concern is that the swine flu has come when the seasonal flu typically ends, so people have little or no resistance to it, she said.

It also appears to have affected young people; the median age is 17. Of 30 people hospitalized in the United States, the higher portion were older children and young adults. It is a big change compared to the seasonal flu, which typically affects the elderly and young children, she said.

Scientists at the C.D.C. were preparing a “seed stock” from virus samples that could be used for a vaccine, she said.

Similar work began several weeks ago to make a vaccine to protect pigs from the H1N1 virus, said Dr. John R. Clifford, the chief veterinary officer for animal health for the Department of Agriculture. The new virus had never been found in pigs in this country, he said, but pigs in Canada have contracted it from a human. This indicates that the animals are susceptible.

“Just like people have flu seasons, so do pigs, normally in fall and winter,” he said.

Missing St. Thomas Student Found in River

The University of St. Thomas freshman missing for nearly four weeks was found dead Friday near the Ford Motor Co. plant, the Star Tribune reported.

The body was identified as Dan Zamlen who disappeared April 5 and would have turned 19 on April 9. St. Thomas spokesman Doug Hennes said people kept hope since he disappeared, but feared the worst as time went on.

"So today does bring some closure," he said.

Zamlen's parents, Dale and Sally Zamlen, of Eveleth, Minn., have been living in the St. Thomas faculty residence since their only son vanished.

St. Paul Police spokesman Pete Panos said he believes Zamlen fell down the bluff and into the river, although an official cause of death is not expected from the medical examiner's office for four or five days.

Panos said Ford workers found the body while cleaning grates that catch debris in the river near the power plant.

Television station KSTP TV said St. Paul police have not said whether there were signs of foul play.

An estimated 1,200 students repeatedly scoured several square miles of Mississippi River bluffs looking for him.

"You hate this to be the end," Panos said. "But if this was always going to be the end, then this actually probably is a good thing. At least the family can go ahead and get through their grieving process and it gives them some closure so they can deal with something more solid than always wondering what happened or where he was." (Star Tribune)

Britta Bloomquist, a high school friend who helped organize Iron Rangers' search efforts, was coming to St. Paul Friday for another weekend of searching. Instead, she attended the prayer service for Zamlen wearing a blue T-shirt that said: Bring Dan Home.

"I'm glad they found him, but I want to know what happened," she said. "Keep praying so we can find an answer." (Star Tribune)

Woman Killed in Richfield Parking Lot

A woman laid slain with a dropped sack of groceries and a shoe in the parking lot, the Star Tribune reported that neighbors near a Richfield complex said Sunday.

The 22-year-old, unidentified woman was killed around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Buena Vista Apartment Homes at 734 E. 78th St. She was stabbed to death, said the Hennepin County mediacal examiner's office.

Richfield police did not release information about a possible motive. An unidentified 24-year-old man was arrested and is being held at the Hennepin County jail.

Police dogs searched the area. It is not clear where the suspect was arrested, the Star Tribune reported. Television station KSTP TV reported that the man was arrested in Bloomington, and that police said the man and woman knew each other.

The woman's name is being withheld until fingerprint identity examinations are confirmed, the Star Tribune reported.

Neighbors described the scene as blood flowing the length of the parking lot. The woman's throat may have been cut, they said. Diane Soderberg was watching television with her window open when she heard a "blood-curdling" scream.

"I kept the blinds shut. It was a horrific, horrific noise," she told the Star Tribune. "I knew she was in trouble, but by that time the rescue squad was coming. It was just horrific, the scream."

Television station KSTP TV reported that the woman's child was bleeding, who was not hurt and is with his father.

Kenyan Journalists Protest on World Press Day

Every year on May 3, World Press Day seeks to celebrate the role of journalists while demanding for greater journalistic freedom, and this Sunday Kenyan journalists held a protest march to demand respect for their profession and an end to the killing of journalists, the Daily Nation reported.

Led by officials from their unions and associations, journalists marched through the streets of Nairobi Sunday. The Kenya Union of Journalists, Media Institute and International Commission of Jurists also took part in the demonstration Sunday. There was little to celebrate and the government deliberately gagged them, members of the Press said.

Protesters attempted to deliver a petition to the attorney general’s office demanding independent investigations for the death of Francis Nyaruri, a media practitioner who was murdered in Nyamira early this year.

However, they were told that he was out of office, and asked to seek him on Monday.

Nyaruri was one of two journalists who has died in mysterious circumstances since the year began, journalists said. Two weeks after he went missing, his mutilated body was found dumped in Kodeka Forest near Oyugis in Rachuonyo District.

Before he disappeared, Nyaruri received death threats after publishing a story on irregularities and embezzlement of funds by senior police officers.

“It is close to four months since he died, but investigations have unearthed nothing so far,” said Bob Wekesa, a member of the Kenya Journalists Association. (Daily Nation)

Citing the Communications (Amendment) Act, they said they were concerned at MPs’ reluctance to prioritize it.

“It took huge efforts for the government to grudgingly agree to expunge a bad section from the Act, although this has not been done yet,” said KUJ’s secretary-general Eric Orina. (Daily Nation)