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December 14, 2008

Palin's Church Damaged by Fire

The church of Sarah Palin, Alaskan Governor and former vice-presidential nominee, was badly damaged by fire on Friday night says the New York Times and CNN.

The church was located in her hometown of Wasilla say both publications.

The fire caused Sarah to say that she was sorry if the fire was in any way connected to the negative attention the church received since she was the vice-presidential nominee says both NYTimes and CNN.

While the cause of the fire has not been determined, arson is being considered among the possibilities say both publications.

The damage is estimated at around $1 million say CNN and NYTimes.

CNN says that fire started around 9:40 p.m. Friday (1:40 a.m. ET Saturday). The firefighters continued to fight the fire until 5 a.m. on Saturday.

CNN also said that Rev. Larry Kroon said that a ladies craft group was in the church at the time of the fire, but they got out and no one was hurt. He also said that it only adults in the building at the time. Kroon would not say exactly how many people were in the building at the time.

But NYTimes reports that a handful of people, including two children, were in the building at the time of fire, but all got out safely. NYTimes also says that Kroon declined to report of the church had recently received any threats.

Palin stopped by the church on Saturday.

�Whatever the motives of the arsonist, the governor has faith in the scriptural passage that what was intended for evil will in some way be used for good,� McAllister, Palin’s spokeman, said. (NYTimes)

December 7, 2008

10-year-old Killed in Christmas Parade

A 10-year-old girl was killed during a Christmas parade on Saturday says the Associated Press and KFDM News.

The girl was riding in one of the floats that was apart of the parade says KFDM News. She tripped and hit her head after jumping off the float, and then the float proceeded to run the girl over say witnesses. It was about 7:15 p.m., and the parade was finishing up when the accident occurred. The girl was pronounced dead within minutes of arriving at the hospital with severe head injuries.

That accident happened in Beaumont, TX.

The Associated Press says that it was not the first time the girl had jumped off of the float during the parade route when she fell and hit her head. A police dispatcher said that she been jumping on and off the float throughout the parade route and was repeatedly told to stop. They say that it was the trailer behind the float that hit her.

The AP also reports that according to a Beaumont resident the accident was almost avoided because the parade was close to being cancelled due to the destruction from Hurricane Ike earlier this year. But she says they choose to hold the parade to try and bring some positivity to the town.

The AP says that hundreds were in attendance for the parade, and that former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett, who was temporarily paralyzed during a game last season, was the grand marshall.

November 30, 2008

Giants Reciever Palxico Burress Shoots Himself in the Leg

Giants football star Plaxico Burress accidently shot himself in the leg Friday night reports the New York Times and nfl.com.

This self-inflicted injury occurred in this right thigh, and is not life threatening says Adam Scheftner of the NFL Network. (nfl.com)

Both publications say that the accident occurred at an unnamed nightclub, and that Burress was released from the hospital on Saturday.

The New York Times also mentioned that the accident occurred four hours after he was told he would not play in the upcoming game on Sunday due to his hamstring injury.

The Giants organization did not say much about the incident because they were still trying to figure the facts and they said the event could end up involving the law enforcement. (NY Times and nfl.com)

This incident added to Burress’s growing list of controversies during the year for the 31-year-old receiver.

He has received multiple fines this year. He was fined $45,000 for verbally abusing an official and tossing a ball into the stands during the Oct. 19 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He was fined $117,500 for missing a team meeting without notifying the team, though he claims it was due to a family emergency. He was also fined $25,000 for not participating in a mandatory mini camp in June. (nlf.com). The New York Times also says that he was held out of the first quarter of the against the Steelers for failing to get his neck and shoulder injury treated the day before the game. However, his easy-going personality and play making on the field have helped him not to get the boot off the team says the NY Times.

November 28, 2008

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death on Black Friday

Shoppers in New York trampled a Wal-Mart worker to death on Friday as the doors opened at 5 a.m. for the after-Thanksgiving day sales report the International Herald Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

A crowd of 2,000 shoppers waited outside a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York (on Long Island), for the store to open at 5 a.m., but that wait was too long for the crowd. They beginning pushing and shoving at 4:55 a.m. and caused the doors to come off their hinges, allowing the shoppers in the store. The employee who died was standing inside the entryway of the store. As the doors broke open frenzied shoppers trampled the man said the International Herald Tribune. They also said the employee had not been identified. He was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m. at a local hospital.

The Pioneer Press says that employee was 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour of Queens according to the police. The Press also says that the shoppers left a “section of the metal frame of the door crumpled up like an accordion.� Other employees tried to help the man, and also got trampled in doing. Damour was pronounced dead by doctors at about 6 a.m.

After the employee got trampled, customers were asked to leave due to his death. But the customers refused to abide because they said they had been in line since yesterday morning says the Pioneer Press.

Other people were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained at this Wal-Mart as a result of the “savage� shoppers, also. One of these people was a 28-year-old pregnant woman, though reports say she and baby are ok. (Pioneer Press).

The Herald reports that the line starting forming outside the store at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

“I've heard other people call this an accident, but it’s not,� Nassau County Det. Lieutenant Michael Fleming said. “This certainly was foreseeable.�

November 24, 2008

Man with Swords Shot and Killed at Scientology Centre in LA

A security guard at the Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angles shot and killed a man who was using two samurai swords on the grounds on Sunday. The Los Angeles Times and Star Tribune both report this story.

The security guard says he fired the gun in an act of self defense and to protect two other security guards. The surveillance tapes confirmed this claim.

“The evidence itself, it’s very, very clear,’ Hara said. “The security officers were defending their safety.� (Star Tribune)

The tapes also showed that the man pulled up the church in a red convertible and then proceeded to advance on the guards with a sword in each hand say both publications.

The LA Times says that the man was shot at 1:30pm, but his name was not released. It was also said that used to be a member of the church.

“There was a previous relationship, but it is unclear to what degree,� Detective Wendi Berndt said.

A 17-year-old who saw the incident described the man with the swords as bald and having tattoos on his arms.

The Star Tribune says that calls to Centre were not immediately returned. But The LA Times says a woman answered the phone saying that she had no information on the matter.

The Centre used to be a hotel for movie stars says the Star Tribune. The LA Times says that the building is one of Hollywood’s most distinctive landmarks.

November 9, 2008

Protests in California over Passing of Proposition 8

Protests erupted in California over the passing of Proposition 8 on Saturday reports The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times.

Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage, passed on Tuesday. This amendment is in opposition to the Supreme Count’s May ruling which allowed for same-sex marriage says The Associated Press. The passing of this Proposition “threw into question the legality of 18,000 marriages of gay and lesbian couples� (LA Times).

A couple protests ensured on Saturday including one in Los Angeles around the Silver Lake area. The LA Times says that police guided the group of 12,500 protesters though the streets for more than three hours Saturday evening while The Associated Press says that the police guided around 10,000 protesters for about four hours after the event started at 6pm. Both publications report that there were no arrests.

This protest started with passionate speeches from the bed of a truck says the LA Times. One of the protesters, Mario Mariscal talked of a lack of energy spent informing Latinos about the Proposition, who were crucial in the election. (LA Times)

Another large rally took place on Saturday in San Diego. The LA Times said there were up to 10,000 people at this protest. This noontime protest which lasted about 90 minutes was also non-hostile and without any arrests says The Associated Press.

Although these were not the first protests since Proposition 8 passed, these two were the biggest says The Associated Press.

A smaller group of about 1,000 people gathered Saturday for a candle vigil, instead of a protest, against the passing of Proposition 8 reports The Associated Press.

Both publications also mentioned protests being held (since the Proposition passes) all week in California. However, not all were as peaceful on the protests on Saturday. Police arrested three people from a crowd of about 2,000 during a Friday night protest in Long Beach says The Associated Press. The LA Times reports 15 arrests at this protest.

November 2, 2008

12-year-old Shot Dead while Trick-or-Treating

A 12-year-old boy who was trick-or-treating was shot and killed on Friday in South Carolina reports The New York Times and The Press Association.

According to The Press Association, after the boy and his family attended a Halloween event the boy, TJ Darrisaw, and his father and three siblings knocked on a few doors to go trick-or-treating. They knocked on a door that had the porch light on. It was then that the family was shot at from inside the house. The convicted criminal, Quentin Patrick, who lived inside the house feared a robbery and fired almost 30 rounds from an assault rifle. Darrisaw, his father, and one sibling were all hit by bullets. The father and sibling were treated and released reports The Press Association.

Both publications report that Patrick has been charged with murder, assault, and battery with intent to kill.

The Times noted that the Halloween event the family attended was a city-sponsored event. The father and four children approached Patrick’s door at approximately 8:30pm, while the mother waited in the car, and upon coming to the door the children heard fireworks from inside the house. No mention of how many round were fired. The Coroner said that the boy died in the hospital.

October 25, 2008

Jennifer Hudson's Mother and Brother Dead

American Idol alum and Academy Award winning actress Jennifer Hudson family was struck with tragedy. Both her brother and mother were discovered dead by gun shot at their home in her native Chicago on Friday according to the .

The Chicago Tribune says Jennifer’s mother, Darnell Hudson Donerson, 57, was found shot dead in the living. Jason Hudson, 29, Jennifer’s brother was found dead in a bedroom. A relative discovered Donerson and called the officials upon the discovery. It was the officials who then found Jason Hudson. Law-enforcement officials said the deaths resulted from a domestic disturbance.

Her nephew, 7-year-old Julian King, is still missing. The Chicago Tribune describes the boy as 4-foot-11, 130 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and last seen wearing a striped polo and khakis pants.

The New York Times reports that late Friday William Balfour was arrested according to The Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Balfour resided at the address of Donerson for the last year according to records says TMZ.

The Chicago Tribune says that Balfour, 27, a convicted criminal, was listed as a suspect in the abduction of King. He plead guilty of attempted murder 1999.

Jennifer’s mother lived on the south side of Chicago. Though her daughter has made millions of dollars since leaving Chicago and entering Hollywood, and she could have moved, she decided to stay in the south side. This is an area where gunshots are commonplace which is a reason why when neighbors of Jennifer’s mother heard gunshots Friday morning they did not call the police notes that Chicago Tribune.

October 19, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

Barack Obama received the support and backing of a well-known and respect American political figure – Mr. Colin Powell. This endorsement occurred Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press� television program according to The New York Times and the Pioneer Press.

Powell, also a Republican, didn’t endorse Obama without some feeling of letting fellow Republican presidential nominee and friend John McCain down.

“It isn’t easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that,� Powell said. (Pioneer Press)

Powell spoke of Obama’s leadership as something that bridges the ages of people.

“I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain,� Powell said. (Pioneer Press)

Powell also mentioned his distaste for McCain’s increasing negative attacks on Obama in the recent months. He especially disproved of McCain’s attacks on Obama’s link, weak link though it be, to William Ayers, a 1960s radical.

“I thought that was over the top,� Mr. Powell told reporters. “It was beyond just good political fighting back and forth.� (The New York Times)

The New York Times reported that it unsure whether or not Powell would help campaign with Obama. But the Pioneer Press said Powell would not be campaigning for him.

Powell, also a black man, said race had nothing to do with his decision. (Pioneer Press).

McCain did not appear to be upset by Powell’s endorsement saying he was “endorsed by four other former secretaries of state, all veterans of Republican administrations: Henry Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Lawrence Eagleburger and Alexander Haig.� (Pioneer Press).

Obama told Powell in a call Sunday morning after the endorsement that he was honored for his support and looked forward to his advise is coming two weeks and hopefully next four years said Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama the New York Times reports.

October 14, 2008

Sex and Politics

Another sex sandal is rocking politics. The New York Times and Washington Post both report that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D) for Florida, is alleged of paying a mistress off so that she would not sue him.

The ironic part is that Mahoney gained his seat because the prior congressman, Republican Mark Foley, was also part of a sex sandal - involved inappropriate and lewd text messages with congressional pages - and resigned.

The New York Times claims that Mahoney paid his mistress a $121,000 settlement not to sue him for the conduct.

The Washington Post reports at settlement at more than $100,000.

ABC News broke the story and they also broke the story of Foley’s sex sandal reports the Washington Post.

Mahoney has asked that the House Ethics Committee investigate the matter.

“I am confident that when the facts are presented that I will be vindicated,� said Mahoney. (Washington Post).

The New York Times says that Mahoney’s wife was aware of his affair with a mistress that worked for him. The money was not a settlement, but a supposed legal agreement for her dismissal. This package also included “promise to Ms. Allen of a job at Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle, a Nashville firm that handled Mr. Mahoney’s advertising.� But, the company is denying that is true and ended affiliation with Mahoney.

October 5, 2008

American Boy Invited to Prestigious Ballet Academy

Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, one of the best ballet schools in the world, recently invited a 14-year-old American boy to their academy.

The boy, Matthew Leonardi of San Bernardino, CA, would like to get to the school as soon as possible, but is finding the money to pay for the high annual tuition hindering him according to the Los Angeles Times and The Sun.

The Los Angeles Times reports the annual tuition at $18,400. This is a huge financial burden on Leonardi’s mom, a single mother of four and kindergarten teacher. But she is working hard to try and find financial support for son because she realizes what a huge opportunity this is. To put it in perspective, Leonardi is the only American male dancer invited to the Academy this year, and the youngest male invited. The Academy spotted Leonardi when he attended Bolshoi Academy’s Summer Intensive Program in Connecticut this past summer.

“The academy needs a combination of physical features, talent and training, and Matthew has all three,� said Rina Kirshner, the vice president of the Russian American Foundation, which organizes auditions for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

While Leonardi will focus on ballet training while at the Academy, the program does include academics as well. Leodardi is expected to be there for about four years, and upon graduation he would receive something similar to a Bachelor of Fine Arts his mother said.

The Sun reports that only three Americans were invited to Bolshoi this year, a school with yearly tuition averaging over $18,000. They report that Leonardi would be at the school for up to eight years. A few of the organizations that his mother has contacted looking for funding include San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, Stater Bros. Markets and Arrowhead Credit Union. She says she is having a difficult time finding funding because no one wants to fund individuals. She also says that Leonardi’s age is hindering getting scholarships and student loans. Furthermore she reports unspecified problems in obtaining Leonardi’s passport.

September 28, 2008

UCLA Finds New Prime Number

Mathematicians at UCLA found a new Mersenne prime number. It is a 13-million digit number, the 46th Mersenne prime number, and the eighth prime number discovered at the school according to the the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the new number was discovered on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP and verified on a different computer. The discovery makes them eligible for a $100,000 prize offered by the Electric Frontier Foundation, which would be awarded once the number is published. The publish time is likely to be next year. The prize money was offered for anyone who found a prime number with 10 million digits or greater. The organization supports individual rights on the internet.

Besides function like a regular prime number – which a number is only divisible by itself and one – Mersenne prime numbers are written as 2P-1. The new P found is 43,112,609.

UCLA’s Edson Smith, leader of the search for the number, says they are already searching for the next number.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the odds of finding the next Merseene prime number are about 1 in 150,000 numbers. But this doesn’t deter a school which has now found a total of eight prime numbers. The discoveries started back in 1952 when Raphael Robinson, a mathematician, found five using a digital computer. The numbers, which were the the 13th through 17th Mersenne prime numbers, were the first prime numbers discovered in over 75 years. Then in 1961 Alexander Hurwitz found two more this time using an IBM 7090 mainframe. This newest prime number was discovered on Aug. 23 on a Dell Optiplex 745 running Windows XP. However, UCLA will not receive all $100,000 of the prize money. They school receives half of it, while a quarter of it will go to charity, and the other quarter go to The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search participants and the organization itself.

September 21, 2008

Up in Flames

A plane crash left four dead, including the pilot and co-pilot, but sparred Travis Barker and “DJ AM.�
In fact, the two celebrities were the only people who did not die in the crash according to the Chicago Tribune. They both remain in critical condition at a burn center in Augusta, Ga.

The drummer, Barker, best known as the drummer for the defunct Blink-182, and Adam Goldstein, known to the general public as DJ AM, had performed together Friday night at free concert near the University of South Carolina under the name TRVSDJ-AM. Team Mobile sponsored the event which also included musicians Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and Gavin DeGraw.

The plane was set to depart just before midnight with passengers Barker, DJ AM, Chris Baker, assistant to Barker, and Charles Still, security guard to Barker, onboard heading to Van Nuys, California. But the plane didn’t even make it off the ground. Air traffic controllers saw sparks spitting from the plane followed by the aircraft plunging off the runway and though antennas and fences. The plane finally rested on an embankment across a five-lane highway before starting ablaze according to Debbie Hersman, of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Upon inspection of the crash site on Saturday the smell of jet fuel still hung in the air, a trail of black jet soot lead across the runway, the nose of the aircraft was gone, and the roof was missing from two-thirds of the plane.

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble called the crash, “Absolutely terrible and tragic.�

September 14, 2008

Start Your Morning with Obama Waffles

Sick of Bisquick waffle mix? Try Obama waffle mix. The creators of the mix, Mark Whitlock and Bob DeMoss, sold the item for $10 a box starting Thursday at the Value Voters summit, a conservative political forum, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The summit drew about 2,100 activists including Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Attendees snapped up boxes of the mix like hot cakes.

But why were conservative activists spending $10 on a box a waffle mix that displayed their presidential nominee revival? They shelled out the green because the waffle mix box was a political satire which poked fun at Obama’s political stances and remarks. The front of the box contained a cartoon picture of Obama with thick lips, a huge smile, and eyes popping out as he stared at the waffles. This image recalled stereotypes of black people similar, and similar to Aunt Jemina, the pancake-mix symbol.

But that was the not the only racial image contained on the box. The top of the box pictured another cartoon of Obama this time wearing an Arab-like headdress, and the back of the box shows Obama in Mexican dress and an accompanying recipe for “Open Boarder Fiesta Waffles.�

The box took shots at Obama’s wife, his former pastor, and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry as well.

Did Whitlock consider the images of Obama racial stereotypes? “We had some people mention that to us, but you think of Newman's Own or Emeril's - there are tons and tons of personality-branded food products on the market. So we've taken that model and, using political satire, have highlighted his policies, his position changes,� Whitlock said.

Organizers of the Value Voters Summits expressed that they did not realize the box contained “offensive material,� and ended sales of the mix on Saturday.