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October 26, 2008

Como Park pool to close.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday that the Como Park pool would finally be closed after 46 years of operation. They sited that the closing was due to major mechanical and electrical failures. Brad Meyer, a city parks department spokesman cited that the pool was beyond repair. According to Meyer, fixing the existing pool would have cost millions of dollars.

The poll was built in 1962 on land lease from the city and was constructed entirely on private funds. The city bought the pool once it could no longer be run by Public Pools Inc. In its last few seasons the pool drew around 15,000 visitors a year. Consultants have suggested building a larger aquatic center in the pool’s stead. This proposal has several members of the neighborhood worried about increasing traffic congestion with the zoo and conservatory already near by.


4 cheerleaders killed in Tennessee car crash.

Four high school cheerleaders were killed in a car accident in eastern Tennessee, CNN reported Saturday. The sport utility vehicle carrying the cheerleaders collided with an oncoming car after cheering at their high school football team’s game Friday night. The cheerleaders were from Scott high school. The crash took place in foggy and wet conditions on a highway near Knoxville.

According to MSNBC, investigators believe passengers were still trapped in side the second vehicle that collided with the cheerleader’s vehicle when the SUV caught fire. A passing driver uses their all-terrain vehicle to pull the Taurus away from the burning SUV. Investigators believe foggy and wet conditions contributed to the crash and that none of the cheerleaders were wearing seatbelts. Several other passengers, including the SUV’s 22-year-old driver and a 10-month-old passenger were taken to the hospital with injuries.



Rebels in Congo seize gorilla park.

According to CNN, Congolese rebels captured a major military camp as well as a gorilla park in recent fighting in the country. The fighting comes a week after the U.N. brokered a cease-fire between rebels and government forces. The rebel forces, under renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda, engaged Congolese forces in the eastern province of North Kivu. In addition to the army base, the rebels also seized the headquarters of Virunga National Park. The park is home to 200 of the 700 endangered mountain gorillas in existence.

The BBC reported that over 50 rangers had to flea the park’s headquarters and into the forest in fear of their lives. It was not the first time the rebels have infiltrate the park but it is the first time they have taken over its headquarters. Although the civil war in Congo officially ended in 2003, recent fighting in its eastern portion between rebels and government forces ahs displaced tens of thousands of civilians.



October 19, 2008

Soldiers suspected in five killings in US.

Soldiers originally stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and now back from deployment in Iraq are suspects in at least five slayings, CNN reported Sunday. Cmdr. Maj. Gen. Mark Graham announced that a task force would examine the five killings that have all been allegedly committed by soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team in the past 14 months. In addition, Fort Carson plans to do rescreenings on about 1,200 soldiers from the brigade for potential physical and mental health problems.

The most recent allegation is one directed at 21-year-old Spc. Robert Hull Marko, who on Monday led investigators to the body of a girl he claimed he killed outside of Colorado Springs. ABC reported two-other brigade members were earlier named in the attempted murder of a fellow brigade captain and in the slayings of two people setting up signs for a garage sale.



KFAN host arrested.

KFAN-AM co-host Jeff Dubay was arrested Wednesday in Maplewood for felony possession of a controlled substance. Dubay was booked in Ramsey County jail just after 11 p.m. Dubay was arrested near English Street and Minnesota 36.

Dubay co-hosts “PA and Dubay? on KFAN with Paul Allen. He has not been on the air in the past two days since the arrest. Dubay was released without charges pending further investigation, according to a sheriff’s office spokesperson. Prior to the incident, Dubay took a personal leave of absence this summer for undisclosed personal reasons.


Nine Chinese oil workers kidnapped.

Nine Chinese oil workers were kidnapped in southwestern Sudan on Saturday in one of several recent attacks on Chinese interests in the country, CNN reported Sunday. Officials from Sudan blamed a Darfur rebel group for the kidnapping. None of the Darfur rebel groups who have fought the central government in recent years claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack was the third on Chinese targets in the last year. Many activists in Darfur have blamed some of the bloodshed in the region on China’s ties with the country. CNN indicated that China buys nearly two-thirds of Sudan’s exported oil.

The BBC reported that the kidnapping took place in the oil-rich Kordofan region. The kidnappers eventually released one of the men. They left him with a note demanding ransom in the form of a share of oil production.



October 12, 2008

Body found in car submerged near Harriet Island

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, construction workers pulled a car containing a body out of the Mississippi River just offshore of Harriet Island Friday morning. The car was discovered while the crew dredged the river for an ongoing restoration project. St. Paul homicide detectives immediately began their investigation when the body was discovered. Police indicated it took just about the entire day to pull the car out of the water.

An unidentified construction crewmember said the car was a badly damaged white sedan and the air bag was deployed. The crew called police shortly after the body was discovered. Police could not identify the body and would not give further information until it was identified and the family notified. Police also indicated the car matched none of those on file in the department’s 77 open missing persons cases.


Palin denies wrongdoing in abuse of power investigation

Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin denied any wrong doing despite a legislative investigation that found she violated state ethics law by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his state trooper position. The committee that released the report Friday calls for no criminal investigation and has no authority to place sanctions on Palin.

According to CBS, the investigation looks into the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, who claims he lost his job because of his refusal to fire a state trooper who was involved in a divorce and custody battle with Palin’s sister. Palin says Monegan was fired because of a legitimate budget dispute. The prosecutor hired to conduct the investigation says Monegan’s firing was lawful but the pressure place on him by Palin and her husband was not. Though the report found that Monegan’s firing was legal it did note that bipartisanship played a role.



Four killed in missile strike on Pakistan.

According to CNN, four people were killed in a suspected U.S. missile strike on Pakistan Saturday. The missile hit a home in Khatai Qila and was one of two suspected US strikes on Saturday in the region of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. NATO, the U.S. military in Afghanistan and the US embassy in Islamabad would not comment on the attack.

According to MSNBC, the U.S. maintains that al Qaeda and Taliban forces use the area as a staging ground for attacks on U.S. and allied troops over the border in Afghanistan. MSNBC set the number of those dead at five. MSNBC also reported that none of the individuals killed were suspected of being al Qaeda fighters.



October 5, 2008

15 Turkish soldiers killed in Kurdish rebel attack

Kurdish rebels killed 15 Turkish soldiers along Turkey’s eastern border with Iraq, CNN reported Saturday.

Turkish president Abdullah Gul indicated that two other soldiers were missing and 20 others were wounded. The Associated Press reported that at least 23 rebels were killed when Turkish troops fired back.

“The terror group wants to show that it is still alive,? Gul told CNN. “That’s the reason for this attack.?

Gul was speaking of the Kurdish Worker’s Party or PKK, the leading Kurdish rebel group in the region. The Turksih military indicated that most casualties in the attack, which originated in northern Iraq, were the result of heavy arms fire.

The BBC reported that over 40,000 people have been killed since 1984, when the PKK began launching attacks from Northern Iraq. The PKK are looking to have a self-governing nation set up for themselves in southeastern Turkey.

The BBC reported that the attack was a surprise directed at a military outpost near Semdinli. The ambush resulted in the highest number of casualties in an attack this year.

The attack comes before a scheduled vote in the Turkish government on Tuesday that would extend the rights of the military launch attacks on the PKK in northern Iraq.

A spokesman for the Iraqi government condemned the attacks, noting that the situation presents border security issues for both Turkey and Iraq.



Man arrested in death of Inver Grove Heights woman.

A man arrested for the death of a St. Paul woman on Tuesday is also being held in connection with a 2002 shooting, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

Michael Carrasco Sontoya, 31, was charged with drive-by shooting and assault in the 2002 incident but was acquitted on all counts.

Sontoya was arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of Gabriela Patricia Romo, whow as found dead in Sontoya’s home on St. Paul’s west side.The man who was shot in 2002, Jeffrey VandenBosch, said his cousin was father of Romo’s four children.

Peter Panos, a St. Paul police spokesman, said Romo died of internal injuries but did not comment on what caused the injuries.

Sontoya has not been charged yet and is being held in the Ramsey County Jail. On Wednesday detectives brought their case before the Ramsey County attorney’s office, seeking a murder charge.

The 2002 incident involving VandenBosch centered around a bar dispute. VandenBosch survived the shooting.


Fannie Mae forgives loan of woman who shot herself.

Fannie Mae decided to forgive the loan of woman who shot herself while sheriff deputies tried to evict her from her foreclosed home on Wedesday, CNN reported.

Addie Polk, 90, from Akron, Ohio was hospitalized after shooting herself at least twice in the upper body Wedesday afternoon. The story has brought a more personal view of the nation’s current mortgage crisis. Polk was listed in critical condition Friday, according to City Council president Marco Sommerville.

Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith indicated they would forgive any outstanding balance on the loan and sign the house “outright? to her given the circumstances.

Polk’s neighbor used a ladder to enter the home when he and the deputies heard loud noises comin from inside. They found Polk inside, lying on her bed, bleeding, with a hand gun next to her. Her car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy were laid out where the could be found, suggesting that Polk did in fact intend to kill herself.

According to MSNBC, Polk took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage from $45, 620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in 2004. Polk missed payments on the loan over the next few years and in 2007 Fannie Mae assumed the mortgage and filed for foreclosure.

Polk bought the 101-year-old home in 1970.

Deputies said they had tried to serve the eviction notice more than 30 times before Wednesday but Polk never answered the door. They knew she was inside because the notices they left were always gone once they returned.