December 14, 2008

Ecuador President Announces that Ecuador will not Pay Foreign Debt Interest

President Rafael Correa said during a conference in Guayaquil Friday that he will not pay interest on the nation’s foreign debt and that he is prepared to accept any consequences reported CNN.

Correa said that he considers the debt to be illegitimate and that the international lenders are monsters. He also said that he believes some of Ecuador’s 10 billion debt was contracted illegally by the previous administration wrote the BBC.

The president said that he is studying how to challenge the debt and wants to look over the way the terms of the debt were set. He also said that he plans to set forth a restructure plan. (CNN)

Ecuador has already spent $7 billion to pay debt from the 1980s which was originally $4 billion. This is the first debt default by a country in Latin America since 2001. (BBC)

Man charged in a hit-and-run death

Wednesday night around 7pm a man struck and killed a Burnsville woman, while driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of more than five times the legal limit reported the Pioneer Press

Anthony Phillip LaSalle, 36 of Bloomington, hit LuAnn Marie Johnson, 66, while she was walking into a Sam’s Club in Bloomington. Johnson was knocked to the ground, then run over, and dragged for about ten feet reported the Star

Johnson’s husband was with her and tried to stop LaSalle. LaSalle however continued to drive away and was later caught by police who had to use a taser to force him out of his car. (Pioneer Press)

LaSalle later told police that he had drank half a liter of vodka before he got behind the wheel. He also admitted that he felt his car run over something and that he assumed it was a pedestrian. (Star Tribune)

LaSalle has been charged with third-degree murder and three counts of criminal vehicular homicide. He is currently being held in Hennepin County Jail and his bail is set at $500,000. He will make his first court appearance Monday. (Pioneer Press)

Child remains found outside of Casy Anthony's home

Friday Investigators in Orlando, FL. said they found remains of a toddler near 22-year-old Casey Anthony’s home reported CNN.

Police believe that the body they found is the body of the missing toddler Caylee Anthony that was last seen in June. Her mother Casey is currently being held in prison on charges of murdering her daughter Caylee reported Yahoo news.

Police believe the skeletal remains are Caylee’s due to the color of the hair, appearance of the skill and the consistency to that of a 2-3-year-old child. (Yahoo News)

Police do not currently have sufficient information to give a positive identification to the body and they are waiting until DNA and other tests are completed before doing so. (CNN)

December 8, 2008

Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe government has declared a national emergency following the outbreak of Cholera in its country which has thus far killed more than 600 people reported CNN.

The U.N children’s fund in Zimbabwe is preparing to deal with possibly 60,000 cholera cases in the coming weeks reported the BBC. The Unicef chief has said that the death toll could raise to 2,700 and that the current death toll is probably much higher than 600 since people in rural regions just bury their dead.

The UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has since called the crisis in Zimbabwe an international emergency and has called on the global community to confront the president of that nation. The Prime Minister is calling the outbreak of cholera an international crisis because the disease can cross boarders. (CNN)

Cholera is a water-borne disease and it has increased in 9 of the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe. The U.N is blaming poor water and sanitation supply, a collapsed health system and limited government capacity to respond to the crisis. (CNN)

Many who have contracted cholera have left to nearby countries to seek medical help, however this runs the risk of further spreading the outbreak. The disease has already spread to South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, and Botswana. (BBC)

Bear Grylls injured

The Discovery Channel reported Sunday that the host of “Man vs. Wild?, Bear Grylls, injured his shoulder in Antarctica during an Expedition reported CNN.

The 34-year-old Grylls was participating in an expedition to raise money for an international charity, and not for the
Discovery Channel. Grylls became injured Friday Night after he fell during the expedition.(CNN)

The Discovery Channel said that Grylls was going to head to the UK for treatment and after his assessment from a doctor they will have a better idea of the seriousness of the injury and the recovery time needed for him reported Yahoo News.

Grylls is the current host of “Man vs. Wild? in which he demonstrates survival techniques, he has hosted the show since November 2006. (Yahoo News)

Tragedy at St.Mary's Prep School

A teacher at St.Mary’s preparatory school in Faribault Minnesota shot himself to death Friday night reported WCCO.

Len Jones was a dorm director, a history teacher, and a La Crosse coach for the college prep school. Authorities said that he committed suicide around 9pm and that he had been dealing with a troubled marriage and emotional issues reported the Star Tribune.

Police also said that Jones used a hand gun and was alone in his faculty apartment on campus when he pulled the trigger. According to WCCO several boys in grades seven-nine heard the shot. (Star Tribune)

The Star Tribune wrote that Jones was well liked and that he had originally come from South Carolina. He had been with the school for six years. Jones was 34.

December 1, 2008

Wal-Mart worker trampled to death during Black Friday madness

A temporary Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death Friday at the Long Island Wal-Mart store in New York when 2,000 customers came through the doors reported CNN.

Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed as he and other employees unlocked the doors at 5 am on Friday. Wal-Mart was participating in a traditional sale day which takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving known as black Friday.(CNN)

A line began forming outside the Wal-Mart at 9pm the night before and after the customers trampled through they left a metal portion of the door frame crumpled like an accordion, wrote Yahoo news.

Workers were knocked to the ground when they attempted to help Damour and customers stepped over him and kept shopping even as the store announced that they were closing due to his death. (Yahoo News)

The union that represents retail workers said that the tragedy could have been avoided. They are now calling for an investigation “by all levels of government? to ensure justice for Damour’s family and to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again at Wal-Mart, wrote CNN.

Police have said that it may be difficult to process criminal charges and that they will need to survey the tapes from that day, reported yahoo news.

Pirates reach Deal

Somali pirates reached a deal Sunday with the Ukrainian ship that they seized more than two months ago reported BBC.
An official from the Kenya Seafarers Association told press Sunday that they Ship MV Faina that was loaded with arms traveling from Ukraine has reached a deal with the pirates that took over the ship on September 25th reported CNN.

The ship had been headed Kenya and was filled with Soviet-era tanks, artillery shells, grenade launchers, and small arms. It has been confirmed that Kenya bought these supplies from the Ukraine government. (CNN)

After the MV Faina was hijacked the U.S Navy sent military ships to monitor it for fear that the supplies could end up in the hands of terrorists. (CNN)

The ransom for the MV Faina was originally set at $35 million, but it has been lowered $20 million wrote CNN.

There has been a lot of pirate activity off the coast of Africa lately which has raised international cause for concern.

November 24, 2008

Twilight is a Smash Hit

The movie Twilight was a huge success earning $70.6 million in its opening weekend and coincidentally made the most money ever for a film directed by a female, reported CNN.">.">CNN.

Twilight is based on the popular teen book written by Stephanie Meyer about a two teens that fall in love, one of whom is a vampire. The main characters, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen are played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson reported Yahoo News.

Both actors have signed on to star in the sequel New Moon which picks up where the first movie left off. (CNN)

Twilight exceeded expectations, it was only expected to make $37 million. Twilight's success brings credit to Summit Entertainment which opened in April of 2007. Twilight was its sixth production. Summit hopes that Twilight will put it on the map. (Yahoo news)

Summit Entertainment believes that the teen girl audience has been severely underestimated. In the past the teen boy audience was coveted, but now movie makers have realized the money possiblities in teenage girls. (CNN)

Bomb threat Hoax on the University of Minnesota campus

Tuesday University of Minnesota police shutdown Anderson Hall and the Hubert H. Humphrey Center due to a bomb threat that was later determined a hoax reported the Star Tribune.

The two buildings were closed from 7-8:30am after a female student told police that she had overheard three Somali males plotting to plant a bomb in the West Bank buildings wrote the Pioneer Press.

Police promptly evacuted the buildings but later learned that the student who had reported the incident had made the story up. Police said her story was inconsistent and that she eventually admitted to lying about the incident. (Pioneer Press)

The university student's motive for making up the story was according to police officers, "to avoid class." The university student faces charges of filing a false police report and could face punishment from the University itself. (Star Tribune)

November 17, 2008

I-35W bridge victims to sue

Four victims are suing a construction firm and a consulting group whose actions they believe contributed to the collapse of the bridge on August 1st, 2007 that killed 13 and injured 145, reported the Pioneer Press.

The lawsuits were announced in the name of surviving victims Wilfred Wagner, Linda Paul and Justin Micher and a trustee for the next-of-kin Paul Alan Eickstadt, who died in the collapse. The suits are identical and were filed Thursday in Hennepin County District Court against URS Corporation, an engineering consulting firm and PCI a construction contractor. (Pioneer Press)

The victims are asking for $50,000 per victim and spouse. Preliminary findings by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators suggested that the bridge was doomed from the start by a design error in thickness of gusset plates that failed reported the Star Tribune.

According to the lawsuit URS had been contracted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in 2003 to “perform fatigue and fracture analysis? and to make recommendations. The suits allege that URS saw buckled gusset plates on the bridge and did nothing about it, but rather labeled them to be in good condition. (Pioneer Press)

The lawsuits also allege that PCI improperly loaded the bridge with construction equipment and material. PCI was on the bridge the day it collapsed. (Star Tribune)

Iran tests missile, not far from Israel

Wednesday the country of Iran said it successfully test-fired a new type of long range surface-to-surface missile, the Sajjil which can easily reach Israel and hit southeastern Europe with better precision than earlier models reported Yahoo News.

The Sajjil is a solid fuel high speed missile with a range of 1,200 miles the Defense Minister said. Solid fuel missiles are more accurate than liquid fuel missiles. During an Iran state television broadcast that showed the launch, the Defense Minister said that the new missile has “an extraordinary high capability?, but he did not give any other details and he did not say whether or not it was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. (Yahoo News)

The United States restated its objection to the tests performed in Iran, stating that the tests violated Iran’s obligations under UN Security Council resolutions reported CNN.

Fire in Southern California leaves many without homes

Southern California residents were forced to leave their homes Friday and Saturday when forest fires became a threat to their safety reported Yahoo News.

The forest fire has destroyed hundreds of houses, mobile homes, and ranches. The fires have spread from Los Angeles County to the eastern parts of Riverside and Orange counties, and to the northwest in Santa Barbara County. (yahoo news)

The fires have burned over 34 square miles and destroyed over 800 homes since breaking out Thursday. CNN reported that the fire was driven by hurricane strength winds of 80 miles per hour and that the fires have forced more than 10,000 people from their homes.

No deaths have been reported, but police brought in trained dogs to look for bodies on Sunday morning in a trailer park where 500 homes were destroyed. No bodies were found. (Yahoo News)

The fire has led to concerns about air quality throughout the southern California area. A marathon scheduled in Pasadena was canceled to after air quality was said to be unfit. 800 runners were expected to compete. (Yahoo News)

November 10, 2008

Coleman's request to discount 32 absentee ballots denied

Republican Senetor Norm Coleman's request to discount 32 absentee ballots was denied by the Ramsey County judge Saturday reported the Star Tribune.

The 32 ballotts arrived late on election day and the ballots were unable to be sent to their proper polling places because they had already closed. The ballots were then kept safe and unopened. (Star Tribune)

The debate over the ballots comes after a tight race between Coleman and Al Franken-D, both running for the Minnesota senente. Coleman currently leads by only 221 votes, this calls for an automatic recount because Coleman's lead is less than one half of one percent over Franken reported Pioneer Press.

"The actual recount of ballots won't start until Nov. 19, after a state canvassing board meets to certify the results of the Nov. 4 election," Pionner Press reported.

School Collapse in Haiti kills 50

Friday a school collapsed in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and killed at least 50 people and there is still an unknown number trapped underneath the rubble reported the BBC.

Hundreds of volunteers have been working to free people from the wreckage of the college La Promesse Evangelique. The school is located in a very poor part of town and has made it nearly impossible to get to reported CNN.

There is said to have been 200-700 people inside the building at the time of the collapse. The school teaches students as young as kindergarteners all the way up to 20-year-olds. (CNN)
The upper floor of the school was under construction at the time of the collapse, but there has been no official comment as to the cause. The buildings first floor was believed to have collapsed and to have then dragged down the rest of the building while the children were inside. Residents believe that the school was poorly built after it had partially collapsed several years ago. (BBC)

The Haitian Red Cross was at the scene and the Dominican Republic offered rescue support by donating helicopters. Rescuers planned to work all through the night, even though the collapse happened at 10am. (CNN)

The collapse is under investigation. (CNN)