December 7, 2008

White Bear Lake girl charged with first-degree assault

A 16-year-old White Bear Lake girl has been charged as an adult with first-degree assault for the beating of her friend with a crowbar. According to a criminal complaint filed with Ramsey County District Court, Katherine Marie Berger was smoking marijuana with her 24-year-old friend at Bellaire Beach on White Bear Lake when the assault took place early on Oct. 21. The friend, who remained unnamed in the report, said that Berger lost a marijuana pipe and after they couldn’t find it attacked her from behind with a crowbar.

The victim drover herself to St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood where she was treated for multiple cuts on the head and arm as well a her jaw, which was fractured in two places. Police found Berger hiding in a closet at home. They also found the 24-year-old’s bloody cell phone and the bloody crowbar their. Berger claimed she was bipolar and did not remember the incident taking place.

Iowa Supreme Court to hear same-sex couples' lawsuit

The Iowa Supreme Court will hear arguments in a challenge to the state’s ban on same sex marriages this week, MSNBC reported Sunday. If the high court rules in favor of the gay couples that filed the lawsuit it would become the fourth state to uphold the right for same-sex couples to legally marry. California, Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only three states that have done so thus far, although voters who amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage negated the California court’s ruling.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Iowa case has been moving through the courts for three years before finally making it to the Supreme Court. However, after hearing the arguments on Tuesday, the court could take a year or more to make a ruling. Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, is representing the Iowa couples in the case.,0,2028158.story

Rioting escalates in Greece over death of 16-year-old

Anti-police rioting escalated in major cities across Greece on Sunday in response to the death of a teenager who was killed by police on Saturday, CNN reported. Most of the rioters were young self-styled anarchists. A police statement said the 16-year-old boy who was killed by was shot as he tried to throw a fuel filled bomb at police. Nonetheless, the police officer that fired the fatal shot has been charged with “manslaughter with intent.?

Police used tear gas in an attempt to abate the angry demonstrators but rioting continued well into late Sunday night. The U.S and British embassies both issued warnings to tourists and employees and discouraged them from visiting areas where rioting was occurring and downtown Athens in particular. ABC reported that demonstrators barricaded city streets in Athens and Thessaloniki and hurled petrol bombs as they conflicted with police sent to put an end to the rioting. The rioters, most of them young in age, also smashed storefronts and burned businesses.

November 30, 2008

Man charged in high speed drunk driving incident.

A Ramsey County judge sentenced Adam Ray Rohrs to 60 days in a workhouse after a March 29th drunk driving incident, The Pioneer Press reported Wednesday.

Rohrs pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal vehicular operation based on a high-speed crash that injured four people. The judge also sentenced Rohrs to 10 years probation, 80 hours of community service and a fine of $20,000 dollars. Rohrs attorney said that his client has not drank alcohol since the crash. The officer involved said Rohrs was going 91 miles per hour down Snelling Avenue when he was pulled over. As the police officer caught up Rohrs hit a car slowing for a stoplight. Rohr’s blood alcohol content was .21, nearly three times the legal limit.

8-year-old charged in murder case gets new plea.

Prosecutors have offered a plea deal to an 8-year-old boy who is charged with the murder of his father and another man in Eastern Arizona, ABC News reported Sunday.

County Attorney, Criss Candelaria, said that the plea would allow for the charges to be resolved in juvenile court, contingent on the results of a mental evaluation. The boy is facing two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of his father, 27-year-old Vincent Romero and 39-year-old Timothy Romans.

The Daily Press reported that the boy’s defense attorney said that the filing was an attempt by the prosecution to dismiss the charges so they could refile it when the boy was older and hear the case in adult court. Brewer said the new deal he has proposed would resolve the case without having it moved to adult court. The prosecutor said he was not trying to obtain an unfair advantage but indicated that the judicial system was not equipped to handle an 8-year-old charged with murder.,0,2933399.story

Taj hotel admits there were warnings prior to the terror attack.

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata, whose company owns the Taj hotel, said that the hotel had increased security in response to warnings of a possible terror attack, CNN reported Sunday.

The Taj hotel, located in Mumbai, was one target of nine in a terror attack that killed 183 and injured several hundred. The attack ended with a standoff Saturday morning. Tata said that despite the hotel’s efforts, the increased security measures could not have prevented the attack. Tata indicated that the measures included personal searches, metal detectors, and increased surveillance. However, the security measures were eased earlier in the week prior to the attacks.

NBC reported that authorities did a room-by-room check of the hotel late Saturday to make sure that no gunmen or guests remained. Tata said that the gunmen did not come through the front entrance, which was equipped with metal detectors but came through a back entrance.

November 23, 2008

Retired Ramsey County Judge dies.

Retired Ramsey County Judge James Dickinson died of pancreatic cancer Friday at home in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. He was 68.

Dickinson died at about 2 a.m. with his family present his son, James Dickinson Jr. said.
Dickinson lived in St. Paul his entire life except for when he was an undergraduate at Union College in New York State. He earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1965.

He worked at the law firm Stringer and Rohleder, where he represented the railroads and insurance companies in lawsuits. He was appointed to the Ramsey County bench in1997. He was the governor for the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Ramsey County Bar Association and the Ramsey County Bar Foundation Board.

Verizon workers fired over Obama cell phone leak.

Verizon wireless has fired employees based on their connection to a breach of cell phone records for Barack Obama, CNN reported Friday.

A source for Verizon would not indicate how many employees were fired but said that the company now considered the case closed. A spokesman for Obama’s transition team said they had been notified on Wednesday and that the President elect no longer used that phone. Verizon indicated that employees wouldn’t be able to read text messages he sent or received from the record data.

ABC reported that Obama’s phone on the Verizon account was a simple flip phone and that employees would have been unable to access anything like Obama’s email records. Verizon has announced that it has launched an internal investigation to find out whether Obama’s information was leaked only internally or also outside the company.

Gunfire directed at Georgian and Polish presidents.

Gunshots were fired at a motorcade transporting the presidents of Georgia and Poland in the Georgian region of South Ossetia on Saturday, CNN reported.

The Interior Ministry of Georgia indicated that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvilli and Polish President Lech Kaczynski were not injured and their motorcade not hit by the gunfire. The shots were fired at a checkpoint in the region that saw widespread conflict between Russian and Georgian troops in August.

The BBC reported Russian peacekeeping forces stationed there denied the allegations of responsibility for the gunfire. The ministry however claimed that the gunfire came from Russian-controlled territory from uniformed South Ossetians. The ministry also used the incident to emphasize that the Russian’s occupancy of the region violated international law.

November 16, 2008

Developer backs out of contract with Ramsey County.

A developer has backed out of a $10 million plan to redevelop some prime riverfront real estate in downtown St. Paul, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Sunday.

The developer, Opus Northwest, recently notified Ramsey County officials that it was giving up its exclusive rights to market several pieces of county-owned land on Kellogg Boulevard. 600 county workers in the old Ramsey County Jail and former West Publishing building currently occupy the site. The redevelopment plan called for high-rise condos and office buildings to be built in the two former buildings stead.

Opus indicated that the struggling economy was the major reason for abandoning the current plan. A key aspect of their plan was to secure another tenet on the land but the current economic climate made that goal impossible. Opus will continue to market the site but not under the existing contract with Ramsey County.

U.S. and Iraq agree on troop withdrawal plan.

The Iraqi government approved a plan that will allow for US soldiers to begin leaving Iraq next year, the BBC reported Sunday.

The plan would call for all US soldiers to be out of the country by the end of 2011. The decision will need further approval from a vote in Iraqi parliament. America’s National Security Council approved of the decision, noting that it was important step in promoting security and stability within the nation. The pact was needed because the UN mandate determining the role of troops in Iraq will expire on Dec. 31.

The plan was restructured initially in October after the US government had previously stated the original pact was final. The cabinet approved the pact after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with all but one of the 28 minister present voting in favor of the new plan. The agreements terms include the placing of US forces in Iraq under the authority of the Iraqi government and a withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities and towns by 2009.

President-elect Barack Obama absent from multi-national forum.

President-elect Barack Obama was absent from a multi-national summit in Washington, D.C. dealing with the lagging global economy, MSNBC reported Sunday. Obama cited that he was cautious to let President George W. Bush represent the nation. Obama seems intent on not to overtly wielding his political power until being sworn into office Jan. 20.
Obama did note in his Democratic radio address that he was pleased Bush has taken the initial steps in looking to solve the economic crisis.

ABC news reported that Obama was much more direct with congress, urging them to at least approve a down payment on a new economic bail–out package that would address increasing rates of unemployment and the failing auto industry. While Obama has initially suggested $175 billion, some experts believe a figure closer to $300 billion is in order. Obama has indicated that he would be flexible to further outside suggestions.

November 9, 2008

Humboldt Junor High awaits improvement plan.

A plan for improvement for Humboldt Junior High in St. Paul outlines several possible ways in which to help the school meet federal testing requirements, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday. The plan calls for finding a long-term funding partner and even possibly shutting the school down for the year.

All the aspects of the plan were already under consideration except for the possible shut down. No decisions have yet been made on what proposals to pursue. The plans were required to be released Monday under accordance with state law. These requirements extend to all schools that are defined as underperforming in relation to No Child Left Behind guidelines.

Both Humboldt Junior High and Arlington High School face the stiffest penalties under No Child Left Behind in the St. Paul School District.

Small city in Oregon elects first transgender mayor.

The small Oregon city of Silverton elected the nation’s first openly transgender mayor, Fox News reported Saturday.

The mayor elect is Stu Rasmussen, who has been a main stay in Silverton politics for over 20 years. Since his initial terms in office Rasmussen has gotten breast implants and began wearing dresses and high heals openly in public. Rasmussen’s campaign indicated that it skirted the issues of Rasmussen’s gender identity by focusing on the issues at hand.

“Stu never sought this recognition out,? reporter from JustOut, a publication for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Portland, told MSNBC. “ He’s interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is a backseat thing.?

Rasmussen identified himself as a heterosexual male who simply appears to be a female. He has lived with his girlfriend, Victoria Sage, for 35 years.,2933,449111,00.html

China announces economic stiulus package.

China unveiled a $586 billion stimulus package to help prevent the lagging global economy from affecting the nation, Trend Capital reported Sunday.

China, the world’s fourth largest economy, announced a plan to invest 4 trillion yuan into infrastructure and social welfare by the end of the year 2010. Some of the funds for the plan will be derived from the private sector while the Chinese government will provide the other necessary funds. The statement made by Chinese officials also did not clarify whether the money would be used to fund new projects or speed up already existing ones.

CNN reported that China’s economy, which is predicated upon global exports, is already feeling the effect of economic woes in the U.S. and Europe. The government has cut interest rates three times in the last two months in the hopes of fueling economic growth. Economic growth in the nation was at 9 percent during the third quarter, which marked the lowest level of economic growth there in 5 years.