December 2009 Archives

Tom Petters found guilty on all 20 counts

      Almost exactly one year after his indictment on 20 counts including conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering, Tom Petters was found guilty by a federal jury in St. Paul on Wednesday, the Pioneer Press said.

      The Minneapolis salesman who engineered a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme from 1995 to 2008 pleaded his innocence until the end, blaming grief over his son's murder five years ago that he said rendered him unable to run his businesses, The Star Tribune said.

      The statutory maximum for Petters' crimes is 350 years, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Dixon, part of the prosecution team. A more realistic estimate is that Petters will receive 30 years to life in prison, Dixon said, according to The Star Tribune

To see the Star Tribune's "Petters Timeline" click here
      A veiled man disguised in woman's clothing and shoes released a bomb on Thursday at the Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia that killed 15 people and wounded many others.

      The Minister of Somali Information called the attack "a national disaster" and confirmed that the ministers for health, education, and higher education were killed, USA Today said.

      Government officials and many of Somalia's brightest minds were gathered for a graduation ceremony for 43 medical students of Benadir University, USA Today said. Until last year's Class of 2008, nearly two decades had passed without a single person in Somalia obtaining a medical degree.

      A Wall Street Journal reporter who witnessed the event described a gruesome scene in which black smoke filled the hall where the ceremony was being held and body parts littered the floor, trampled by people fleeing.

      This attack is the second in several months to target top figures in the Somali government, adding to a trend of suicide bombings that is relatively recent in the country.  No one has taken responsibility for the attack but officials suspect a militant group called al Shabaab that may have connections to al Qaeda, the Wall Street Journal said.   

     To view a BBC slideshow of the Mogadishu bombing, click here.

Electric cars are in the works

      "It's not 'if' but 'when' we transfer to an electric vehicle solution," the Better Place website boasts.

      The global leader in creating an infrastructure of services and charging stations for electric vehicle (EV) users is combining with a Danish power company to promote electric cars in Denmark and Israel, The New York Times said.

      Shai Agassi, Better Place's founder, pledged that 100,000 charging stations would be set up by 2010, yet only 55 stations are ready for operation to date, The New York Times said.

      The batteries of EVs last 100 miles and take 5 hours to recharge.  The solution for longer car trips would be a robotic machine that could change the battery in just a few minutes.

      This venture in Europe precedes a conference next week in Copenhagen discussing an agreement to fight global warming.

      In the United States, the mayor of Los Angeles recently announced a plan to dramatically increase infrastructure for electric cars and create incentives for EV owners such as access to HOV lanes, the Los Angeles Times said.


Gay marriage bill struck down in New York Senate

      After hours of emotional debate, the New York Senate voted down a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The 38-24 decision follows last month's popular vote in Maine that reversed lawmakers' decision to allow gay marriage.
      Gay rights proponents had high hopes that New York would become the sixth state to grant them marriage rights, reported. Before today's vote, the Assembly voted yes and Gov. David Paterson promised his signature on the measure.

      The state's Roman Catholic bishops who have been lobbying hard against passage of the bill released a statement calling the decision "a victory for the basic building block of our society," The New York Times wrote.
To see a map of states' current stances on gay rights, click here

Minnesota ranked sixth in nation for high college debt

Last year, college students in Minnesota graduated with an average of about $25,000 in debt, The Star Tribune said.

This means the state has the sixth highest debt in the nation, according to a report issued by the Institute for College Access and Success in Berkeley, California.

The figures are even worse for graduate students. Over 70 percent of graduate students at the University took out loans, The Star Tribune said.

An ex-student in New York was denied his professional license as a lawyer because of "heavy student debt" in excess of $400,000, said Lynn O' Shaughnessy, author of The College Solution Blog, in an article for CBS's

Reasons for skyrocketing debt may include high tuition, demographic spread of a graduating class, and sub-par financial aid programs for lower income students, said the President of the Institute for College Access and Success, Lauren Asher.

To access a pdf of the report on student debt for the class of 2008, click here.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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