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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.

Axe stays in Madison

Ouch, that hurt. The Minnesota football team lost its final regular season game Saturday, falling to rival Wisconsin 41-34 at the Metrodome.

The Gophers, who finish the season under first-year head coach Tim Brewster at a dismal 1-11, had many chances, but couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch to top the Badgers.

Up 13-3, it looked at one point as though Minnesota had a legitimate shot at bringing the axe – the prized possession in this yearly rivalry – back to the Twin Cities for the first time since 2003. However, it wasn’t to be as Wisconsin running back Zach Brown ran for 250 yards on 29 carries to propel Madison to a comeback victory.

I really believed the Gophers were going to win the game. I eve told people that I wouldn't care about how bad the season was if the team pulled out a win over the Badgers (I get so much trash talk from my friends in Wisconsin when we lose, which is usually always). With 16 seniors, I thought Minnesota would play its heart out. Brewster's bunch did, but it turned out now to be enough.

November 12, 2007

17 dead in Somalia

Fighting between Ethopian-backed Somali troops and Islamics led to the death of 17 civilans in Mogadishu, Somalia on Sunday.
According to a journalist in Somali, the 17 killed were all "non-combatants." The deaths included women, elderly and children as young as 10.
Witnesses said Ethiopian and Somali forces were shooting at anyone, fearing no consequences for their actions. Others are providing the theory that the Ethiopian troops killed the civilians on purpose to show their support for the Somali forces, as they attempted to in squash Islamics causing problems. Either way, this is a tragedy. I'm sick of reading this type of news everytime I click the "World" news tab on CNN.com. Seriously, I am starting to get depressed. Somehow, someway, these governments need to take control and protect their countries.

Music icon's inspirational mother passes away

Maybe it’s because we just discussed Obits in class, or maybe its just a question I've been pondering, but I find it interesting when celebrities’ loved-ones make front-page headlines when they pass away. I’m not saying it is right or wrong (obviously death is awful) but it is a bit interesting to dissect.

On Monday, CNN.com put on its front page that Kanye West’s mother, Donda West, died following a “cosmetic procedure.? She was 58. Interestingly, this news was reported to CNN by Donda West’s publicist. I found it semi-weird that the mother of Kanye West had her own publicist.

I do understand the significance of this being on the front page. If for instance, his mother died of natural causes when she was much older, it probably wouldn’t be much of a story. But she was still young, and had a very big impact on West’s musical productions. She was the inspiration for Kanye’s song titled “Hey Mama? that was on the album “Late Registration? in 2005.
West also created a song titled "Family Business" talking about how much he loves his family. It should be interesting to see what sort of way, if any, he comes up with to create a tribute for his mother in a new song.

Gophers win for Tubby

In Tubby Smith's official debut as head coach of the Minnesota men's basketball team nearly everything went right. The Gophers won easily, beating visiting Army 84-52, in front of 11,529 at Williams Arena on Saturday. After a 9-22 last season, smiles returned to the faces of the eight returning players from that team, as well as to fans who packed "The Barn" in Smith's first regular season game at the helm of the Gophers.

Minnesota led by as many as 36 on a day in which it saw its role players do the majority of the work. With senior guard Lawrence McKenzie struggling - he scored just two points - others took it upon themselves to deliver. Sophomore forward Damian Johnson had, in my opinion, the best game of his collegiate career. Johnson came off the bench and scored 12 points, while grabbing eight rebounds and registering four blocks and four steals. He really was the spark for the team, both on offense and defense. Remember, Gopher fans, that Johnson only played 10 minutes a game. Also impressing was fellow classmate, sophomore Lawrence Westbrook. Westbrook scored eight points after averaging 13.6 points per game in the the preseason. He, like Johnson, will be expected to produce this year after averaging only 3.6 points in nine minutes per game last season.

After Minnesota won by its largest margin of victory in three years, it is clear, as Patrick Reusse pointed out in his Star Tribune article on Sunday, that a new sherrif, in Smith, is definetly in town.

Smith, who has made it to 14-straight NCAA tournaments as a collegiate head coach, has plenty of work to do to get back for a 15th-straight season. However, throught two preseason wins and one regular season victory, clearly, he has rejuvenated a once seemingly dead men's basketball program.

Packers take it to Vikings

To be honest, I have struggled to write about local sports in our class blog because I can't stand most of the professional sports teams in the Twin Cities. After Sunday, however, I have no problem writing about the Minnesota Vikings. My hometown team, the Green Bay Packers, dismantled the Vikings on Sunday afternoon, winning 34-0 at Lambeau Field.

It was, an historic afternoon. For the first time, the Green and Gold managed to shut out the Vikings. And it was Minnesota's worse loss since being thrashed 51-7 by San Francisco in 1984.

Oh, and not to be forgotten, should be the performance of Brett Favre. Favre, somtimes simply known as "GOD" by Packer-backers, threw three touchdowns in the victory over Green Bay's heated NFC North rival. The Packers are now 8-1, while the Vikings are 3-5.


November 5, 2007

Fire kills 30 in Russia

Another disaster, this time in Moscow, Russia, caused innoncent people to tragically lose their lives.
A fire ran through a nursing home Sunday afternoon, trapping patients and killing at least 30 people. There were no fire alarms in the nursing home, officials said.

Luckily, 250 people were able to escape the building, or the death count could have been much worse.

Shockingly, I read on a CNN.com report that nearly 18,000 people are killed in fires in Russia each year, "several times the per capita rate in the United States and other Western countries." That, to me, is a disturbing trend and shows proper percautions are not being taken in Russia. The CNN report also claimed that the nursing home building violated many safety codes, including the lack of fire alarms. Certainly, safety codes must be followed to a stricter degree in order to prevent accidents like this from taking lives.

Entertainer Ellison passes away

Lillian Ellison, better known by many as professional wrestling's Fabulous Moolah, died on Friday. She was 84.

Ellison became famous working for Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation (now called World Wrestling Entertainment). Her catchphrase slogan was, "for the money ... for the moolah."

A longtime champion, Ellison was the first woman inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I was very suprised to see her death posted on the front page of CNN.com. In entertainment circles, particulary wrestling ones, I could see her death being a big deal. However, apparently pro wrestling, is more important than I thought.

On the WWE's Web site, a release was written Saturday, accompanied by a photo gallery of the longest reigning female champion in pro wrestling history. More importantly, however, is the rememberance page set up for her, which has quotes from different friends who reflected on their relationship with Ellison.

Gophers win big in Tubby's debut

The Minnesota men's basketball team looked sharp on both ends of the floor in Tubby Smith's coaching debut on Thursday. The Gophers shot 54 percent from the field, and held visiting Minnesota State to 37 percent shooting, easily beating the Mavericks 94-68 at Williams Arena.
It was just an exhibition game. Against a Division II opponent no less. But there were many positives to take from the game. Without question, Minnesota looks rejuvenated under Smith. Let's not forget, the Gophers lost to Division II Winona State in a preseason game last year. Against the Mavericks, they led by as many as 29 before resting their starters midway into the second half.

For those who weren't at the game, here were some observations I took away:
The student section chanted "Tubby, Tubby" as the final seconds rolled off....and here's something new, as the Gophers sang the Minnesota Rouser at the end of the game, many players had smiles on their faces, something that was obviously missing after the conclusion of many home games last seson....sophomore guard Lawrence Westbrook looked strong in Tubby Smith's up-tempo offense. Westbrook finished with 10 points and looks as though he will have much more of an impact than he did as a freshman, when he struggled to find playing time under Dan Monson and Jim Molinari.

Spencer Tollackson told me after the game he couldn't remember the last time the Gophers scored 94 points. It is certainly an encouraging sign for the Gophers. Now, last year the team did put up 88 in its exhibition opener against Bemidji State, but that team was much less of a challenge than Minnesota State, which made it to the Division II tournament last season.

I wrote in my story for Friday that senior guard Lawrence McKenzie looked in midseason form. I guess going 9 for 13 from the field and finishing with 24 points will make anyone look as if they are ready for Big Ten play.

Peterson sets NFL record

296. That's all you need to know. Vikings rookie running back Adrien Peterson set the NFL single-game rushing record on Sunday with his 296 yards on 30 carries. Oh yeah, the Vikings No. 1 draft pick out of Oklahoma also had three touchdowns in Minnesota's 35-17 win over the San Diego Chargers at the Metrodome.

Peterson, who by some has been nicknamed "AD (all day)" - which I still don't understand since his initials are AP, not AD - has carried the Vikings this season. Minnesota is 3-5 right now. But the argument could be made that the team would have zero wins if it weren't for him. Through eight games, Peterson already has 1,036 yards. the rookie record for rushing is 1,808. the way things are going, Peterson may break that record in two weeks (hopefully not though because my beloved Packers play Minnesota next weekend (Peterson by the way, is scaring the crap out of me and now I have to sweat all week thinking about him).

"Anything is possible, you know," Peterson was quoted afterwards as saying by the Star Tribune. With Peterson the field, anything, certainly is possible.