December 11, 2007

Somali pirates?

Usually when I look up world news on CNN, I blog about someone who was killed. While this story revolves around killiing too, it also is a bit more intriguing.

I saw on CNN that Somali pirates who took a Japanese tanker six weeks ago "have threatened to kill the 22 crew members unless a $1 million ransom is paid," a maritime official said Monday.

"Somali pirates holding the Japanese ship are demanding $1 million," said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers' Assistance Program. "They are also saying we are going to kill the crew if our demands are not met."

The CNN report said deaths are rare during such hijackings though.

This isn't the first such incident involving Somali pirates. For years they have been claimed as "out of control."

Vick sentenced to 23 months in prison

I know you don't like when I write this much about sports, but when one of the highest paid, most hyped, players in the National Football League is going to prison, I have to write something about it.

Michael Vick once one of the most famous stars in the NFL, was sentenced to 23 months in prison for financing a dogfighting ring and helping to kill pit bulls on Monday.

Vick, who has already started his sentence time, was dressed in a black-and-white striped prison suit during his court hearing.

At that time, he reportedly apologized to his family and to the judge for his actions. Interestingly, it appeared the judge wasn't satisfied with that. As he said the following in response to Vick's apologzy:

"You need to apologize also to the millions of young people who look up to you," U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said.

This attitude by the judge is consistent with reports that he was not satisfied with the way Vick has been dealing with the situation - first lying, then taking responsibility when others he was associated with turned themselves in.

Vikings and playoffs now in the same sentence

Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings are over .500 and in position to make the NFC playoffs.

The Vikings beat San Francisco 27-7 on Sunday despite only 3 yards rushing by Adrian Peterson on 14 carries. If anyone would have told a Minnesota fan that Peterson would have only three yards in any game that he played this season and the Vikings would winhttp://www.twincities.com/vikings/ci_7679678?nclick_check=1">, Its likely none of them would have believed the messenger.

Believe it. That’s what the Vikings are doing.

With stifling defense against an injured 49ers team, combined with smart quarterbacking from young QB Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota led 27-0 with five minutes left in the first half and didn’t look back.

At 7-6 the team is currently locked into the sixth and final position in the NFC playoffs. However, there are still three games left to be played and nothing is set in stone in the NFL until week 17 is complete.

Gophers beat Rams

After every weekend I blog. And after every weekend it seems I am blogging about a win for the Minnesota men’s basketball team. The Gophers improved to 6-1 on the season after beating Colorado state 91-74 Saturday night at Williams Arena.
Freshman shooting guard Blake Hoffarber was the story on this night. Hoffarber had a career-high 21 points and was a large reason Minnesota expanded a six point lead into a 32 point lead at one point in the second half.
Hoffarber’s performance continues the trend of a bench player coming in and playing well for Tubby Smith’s squad.

The bench put up 44 points Saturday night and now has totaled a combined 112 points in its last three games.
Lost in the outstanding play by the bench was the 22 point, 13 rebound game put in by senior forward Dan Coleman. On his 14th point of the night Coleman became the 34th player in Minnesota men’s basketball history to score 1,000 or more points in his career.

The Gophers next play Wednesday night against South Dakota State at Williams Arena. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.

December 3, 2007

Teddy bear name causes jail sentence

Here's an interesting story out of Khartoum, Sunday.

A British teacher who was convicted of insulting religion in Sudan has finally been release from prison.

Why was she jailed? Well, reportedly for allowing children to name a teddy bear "Mohammed".
Yes, I said a tedddy bear.

The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, 54, was sentenced to 15 days in jail last Thursday for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Mohammed."

Gibbons, 54, was sentenced to 15 days in jail last Thursday for having allowed her students at a private school to name a teddy bear "Mohammed."
This, however, was a slap in the face to the Islamic religion.

Gibbsons said she made a mistake and would not knowingly offend anyone or any religion.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21973378/

A court also ruled she will be deported for her actions.


Winter storm makes way through Northeast & Midwest

The much anticipated winter snow storm hit Minnesota hard this weekend, but the storm made a lasting impact around much of the Northeast.

On Sunday, a CNN article reported that winter storm warnings were in effect into Monday in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and into Tuesday in parts of New York state.

Warnings were also issued for parts of Michigan, where freezing rain and sleet was predicted to turn to all snow late Sunday.

I struggled walking in four to five inches of snow on Saturday. I feel bad for the people in the Northeast after reading that the National Weather Service said a foot of snow was possible in northern New England, with the potential for 20 inches in northern Maine.

But even with all that snow, some are feeling more compassion for the Midwest.

"Compared to what's happening in the Midwest, we've kind of got it easy right now," said Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at the Chicago O’Hare airport by the storm on Saturday. Flights were also canceled Saturday at airports in Des Moines, Iowa, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as blowing snow reduced visibility.
As for the state we currently occupy? Minnesota's Grand Marais got 20 inches. Duluth supposedly got 13 inches.

Considering I don't havve a car up here and have to walk pretty much everywhere (not that driving would be much safer), I’m hoping we don’t get anywhere near those amounts of snow......at least my boots are getting their proper use though.

December 2, 2007

Vikings turning into playoff team

What are the Vikings smoking, because I want some of that.

Just kidding, I don’t smoke.

But Minnesota’s professional sports team is playing out of its mind. The Vikings, once 2-5, are now 6-5 after winning their fourth-straight game Sunday afternoon, beating the Detroit Lions 42-10 at the Metrodome .
In his first game back from injury, Adrian Peterson looked healthy as can be, rushing for 116 yards in two touchdowns. Young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson didn’t look bad either. He threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns against a Lions’ team that continues to fall out of the playoff picture (6-6).

Minnesota’s defense wasn’t shabby either, which is another reason the Vikings are looking like a legitimate playoff team. The defensive group held the Lions to just 23 yards on the ground.

Tubby, Gophers win again

It was a cold walk over to Williams Arena for me on Saturday afternoon as I prepared to watch the Minnesota men’s basketball team play UC Riverside. Once in “The Barn? the Gophers showed they wouldn’t be affected by the frigid temperatures, warming up from beyond the three-point line and beating the Highlanders 75-38 in front of 11,232.
Minnesota hit 13 of 23 three’s (56.5 percent) to cruise to victory. Senior guard Lawrence McKenzie, who finished with 18 points, had five of them. Freshman guard Blake Hoffarber and junior forward Jamal Abu-Shamala combined for seven more, as the Tubby Smith led Gophers improved to 4-1 on the young season.

The program-record for three-pointers made in a game is 16. In my opinion, Minnesota would have shattered that mark if it needed to. The Gophers hit 12 three’s within the first 27 minutes of action, but up by 30 plus in the second half, had no reason to shoot many three’s for the majority of the second half.

One more thing. The 38 points the Gophers held UC Riverside to, was almost a record as well. The record-low for a Minnesota opponent is 37, when the Gophers stifled Arizona State in 1991.

November 26, 2007

Canadian man dies days after taser shock

Taser stun-guns may need to be examined, and quickly. A Canadian man died Saturday, four days after police tasered him for acting "erratically" in a store, police said.

Robert Knipstrom, 36, became the third person to die in the past few weeks in Canada after being shocked by a taser.

Knipstrom was conscious and speaking when he was taken to the hospital, police said.
Inspector Brendan Fitzpatrick said it has not yet been determined what role the taser, if any, had on Knipstron's death.

However, investigations into his death have been launched by the British Columbia Coroner's Office and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to figure out what exactly happened.

While officially it cannot be said that the taser killed Knipstrom, maybe this will make police look at alternatives to using such a strong weapon on people who are causing trouble but not putting other's lives in danger.

Husband admits to murder

Another Monday blog, another disturbing story in the U.S.

Former University of Pennsylvania professor Rafael Robb pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter for killing his wife as she wrapped Christams presents last year.

During a fight with his wife about on upcomming trip she planned for herself and her daughter, Robb said he "lost it."

The CNN report I read stated he faces a prison sentence of no more than seven years. That seems surprising. I wish the article included why he could only face up to seven years. A FOX report I found said guidelines call for a term of four to seven years of prison time, I just wish the guidelines would have been explained in detail.

Here is the sadest part of the story - a tearful Robb apologizing to his daughter.

"I know she liked her mother. ... And now she doesn't have a mother," he said.

Who would have thought: Viks back in playoff hunt

Out of nowhere. That is where the Minnesota Vikings’ 41-17 win over the New York Giants came from. The Viks intercepted Giants quarterback Eli Manning not one, not two, not three, but four times. That made things easy for Minnesota’s offense, which was still without star running back Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson went 10-of-12 for 129 yards in possibly his best day as a pro, leaving the team optimistic as it flew back to Minneapolis.

The Vikings should get Peterson, clearly the rookie of the year in the NFL at this point of the season, back for next weekend and at 5-6 the word “Playoffs? isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Just take a look at this quote from Vikings owner Zygi Wilf while running off the field after the game at Giants Stadium.

"Back in the hunt, big time,? he exclaimed

Gophers continue to win

The Minnesota men’s basketball team is off to a 3-0 start after cruising by Central Michigan 77-59 at Williams Arena Saturday night. It’s the first time the team can claim a three-game winning streak since the start of the 2005-2006 season.

I was not covering the game for the Daily, as I was home in Milwaukee for Thanksgiving with my family. Since I wasn’t at the game, I had to find out the juicy details of the game by reading the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press. I usually do this anyway to compare myself to the two professional beat writers covering the team, but I found a few things interesting this time around in terms of the way Myron Medcalf of the Strib and Marcus Fuller of the Pioneer Press covered the game.

Medcalf decided to focus on how sloppy the game was, how the Gophers had 24 turnovers and looked, at times, like the 9-22 team of a season ago. Fuller, while still mentioning how sloppy the Gophers looked, decided to focus on the different starting lineups coach Tubby Smith has been putting on the floor to start each of Minnesota’s first three games. He referenced the number of starting lineups last season (16) used under the guidance of Dan Monson and Jim Molinari and how those lineup changes didn’t produce wins (only 9), but Smith’s adjustments have left the team undefeated thus far.

Both men got to the main point in their stories, that is that the Gophers are undefeated but still have work to do to become an elite team, but it was interesting to see how each went with vastly different angles in their leads.
From both accounts, it is clear Minnesota has to take better care of the basketball.

With the team traveling to Tallahase, Fla. to face Florida State Tuesday night, we will all certainly get to see how much the team has improved its ballhandling in a few short days as the Seminoles are a quick, athletic, veteran squad that will take the ball away from the Gophers if they aren’t careful.

November 19, 2007

Video helps solve torture case

Technology continues to help get things right. You see it with instant replay in sports, now you are seeing it with online videos solving cases. On Monday an Egyptian court convicted two police officers and sentenced them to three years in prison for torturing a bus driver after a video of the abuse was posted on the Internet.

Without the Internet video, the officers, who sexually abused Emad El-Kabir, 22, and filmed the act on a cell phone, may have never been convicted.

Luckily for El-Kabir earlier this month Egyptian bloggers posted a video online, which eventually was available on YouTube, showing a man naked from the waist down being beaten with a stick.

The victim, El-Kabir, was elated when he heard the two officers were sentenced

"God is great! Thank God!" shouted el-Kabir. "I regained my right. I don't want anything more than that."

Thanksgiving can be stressful

I can't wait for Thanksgiving. I can't wait to see my family, my friends, and those random people you don't know by name but you know by face. Those people that truly make you feel "at home."

With that said, I saw an interesting article on CNN.com about a girl, Lisa Hamlett, and her thoughts on going home to Crossville, Tennessee for the holiday.The main point of the article is to talk about how some college students aren't always so interested in spending the holiday with their parents.

It talks about how, after having freedom in college, it is strange for college students to return home under the guidance of their parents. I agree, I have felt this way as well. As a college student, you are free to being on your own, then you go home and your parents want you to return at a certain time of night or not go to a certain location. Obviously they are doing this out of love, but it is an adjustment.

Here is a line from the article that sums up the point I'm trying to make best.
"Family tension is often a surprising development for students and their parents who reunite during the holidays."

And here is an interesting take from someone at the U of M.

"Thanksgiving is the worst time," says Marjorie Savage, director of the parent program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "It's a shock for kids because they haven't been on anyone's schedule. They often come home with an attitude."

Maybe my freshman year I felt that way. And who knows, I could this year too. But I am going to try my best to stay open-minded and try to look at things from my parent's perspective, because I really don't want to argue with them at a time that is supposed to be all about family.

Fox turning heads

I talk a lot about the Minnesota men's basketball team on this blog, so I think it is time for me to talk about something else. Well, sorry, still basketball - women's basketball. I think junior guard Emily Fox deserves to be recognized on here. Of course, being recognized on here isn't saying much. She is already pretty famous. She is a legend on Youtube, has already appeared on shows such as The Late Show, Ellen, and The Best Damn Sports Show Period. Why? Not because of basketball - she is exceptional at that too - but because of her skill in "sports stacking."

What? What is sports stacking? Good question. It is a game in which you try and stack plastic cups as fast you can in different pyramid shapes. Fox was at one point the world recorder holder with the fastest time.
Oh yeah, and she is really really good at basketball. Fox, who was selected to the preseason All-Big Ten first team and helped Team USA win a gold medal in Brazil this summer, has led the Gophers to a 4-0 start. On Sunday night, she scored 26 points as Minnesota upset #25 Louisville at Williams Arena.

Fox is already famous for one sport. She may soon be famous for another if she makes it to the WNBA.