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June 28, 2007

Wrestler kills family, then himself

A wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. cancled an appearance in Texas on Saturday, and was found dead Monday in his suburban Atlanta home, the Washington Post reported Thursday. Chris Benoit, 40, also suffocated his wife and seven-year-old son before hanging himself. The three were discovered by authorities Monday. Friends had requested law enforcement check on the family after receiving disturbing text messages from Benoit. Authorities found multiple prescription drugs in the home, including anabolic steroids. United States health officials have linked this type of steroids to angery outbursts, something that could prove as a motive in this case. WWE authorities said Benoit passes a random drug test in April that included a screening for steroids, but they said they could not confirm whether or not he was using the steroids at the time of death. Toxicollogy reports have not been completed in the case and authorities said it could take weeks to get the results back.

June 22, 2007

Six Flags closes rides

Six Flags and another company shut down eight more thrill rides Friday after a teenage girl had her feet severed at the ankles on an amusement park ride, Yahoo news reported Friday. The 13-year-old was riding Superman Tower of Power in Louisville, Kentucky. The ride lifts passangers 177 feet into the air and then drops them almost as far at speeds that reach 55 mph. It is still unclear at what point during the ride the injury occured, Six Flags officials said, but state inspectors were investigating the accident. Six Flags shut down similar rides in St. Louis, Illinios and near Washington. There were no reports of injuries on the ride or similar rides before Thursday´s incident. A Swiss company made all the rides that were shut down for inspection.

Minnesota Monthly editor dies

An editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine died unexpectedly of natural causes in her Edina home Thursday, the Star Tribune reported Friday. Carol Ratelle Leach, 43, started her career for a subsidiary of Dow Jones in New York City. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and had a rich background in reporting, book editing and, most recently, as a top editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine.

This article follows the basic formula for writing obituraries. The author of the obit leads with the person´s name and age, and also includes the cause of death and the day of death in the lede. The lede also includes why she is a noteworthy person. Then the obit moves into a short quote from her publisher about what a valued employee and person she was. Then the obit writer goes into more detail about her career and life, talking about where she went to college, where she started her career, other professional high points and, finally, her position before death. Lastly, in the last paragraph, the obit includes information about her family including her husband´s name, how many children she has and where they lived. I think this obit could have had more personal details about her life to make it more personal and interesting, but it sounds like the death was completely unexpected, which makes me believe that no one was prepared to reflect on this relatively young person´s life. I think the author did a good, respectful job, considering the abruptness of the death.

Boy sues parents over injury

A nine-year-old boy can sue his parents for improperly installing his carseat, a mistake that resulted in permanent brain damage when the boy was ejected from the car during a crash when he was three. The boy initially sued the car seat manufacturer Century Power Products, according to the Pioneer Press. There was a coin lodged in the buckle, so even thought the buckle clicked like it was locked into place, it wasn´t. The manufacturer argued that the boy´s parents were to blame because they failed to properly install and maintain the car seat. The boy quietly settled the suit with the manufacturer for an undisclosed amount of money, and then turned to his parents. To sue them, with their support. The ruling, in favor of the boy, forces his parents´ auto insurance company, Progressive, to pay $100,000. The money will help the family pay for his care, which requires around-the-clock assistance. The boy´s lawyer, in a statement, said this case wasn´t about blaming the parents but rather about forcing the insurance company to pay their part in the accident.

Cheney says rules don´t apply to him

Vice President Dick Cheney´s office refused to cooperate with an agency that oversees classified documents, later attempting to abolish the office when it tried to challenge his actions, CNN.com reported Friday. The National Archieves´ Infromation Security Oversight Office is designed to make sure classified information and documents are properly handled by members of the Executive Branch, which includes the Vice President´s office. According to the oversight office´s director, Cheney´s office argued that the Vice President´s office did not meet the definition of an Executive Branch office, therefore making it exempt from the rules. According to the agency director, the letter also suggested that his office would be abolished under a revision of the presidental order that created it. That revision is now under consideration. In an article published Friday in the LA Times, Cheney denied trying to abolish the office but neither confirmed or denied the charges that his office had successfully resisted mandatory on-site security checks by the Oversight Office.

June 20, 2007

Israel Strikes

Israel fired missels and sent tanks into the Gaza Strip Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The attack killed at least 4 Palestinians, the deadliest attack since Hamas took control of the volatile coastal strip of land. Simultaneously, Israel eased restrictions for traveling in and out of the Gaza Strip, allowing a few seriously ill or wounded Palestinians into Israeli hospitals. Israeli officials said the foray across their boarder was planned in response to military activity in Gaza, including suspected arms smuggeling across the boarder.

June 15, 2007

3M chemical found in private wells

A chemical 3M legally disposed of in Woodbury decades ago is now turning up in private wells in the area surrounding the disposal site, the Pioneer Press reported Friday. The chemical, perfluorobutanoic, or PFBA for short, was discovered in 99 of the wells in southern Washington County. The state Department of Health tested 350 wells in the area of suspected contamination. PFBA is a chemical 3M used for photographic film and was legally disposed of in the site off Woodbury Drive and Military Road, ending in the 1970s. The 99 wells that were contaminated contained at least one part-per-billion of the chemical, with some houses testing as high as five ppb. PFBA has proven in lab tests to start effecting rats in extremely high doses. Health officials said a resident in the contamination area would have to drink over 250,000 glasses of water a day to reach even the lowest level of the effects documented in lab studies.

June 11, 2007

Senate considers 'no confidence' vote in Gonzales

Senators are considering a vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Reuters reported Monday. The senators hope the vote will help push Gonzales to resign as controversy around the dismissal of U.S. attorneys for political reasons grows. President Bush called the effort "meaningless" and said the movement is likely to fail. A no confidence vote has no physical impact in the United States, however, Democratic leaders in the Senate want to bring further pain to the struggling Bush Administration. Senate Republicans are expected to block a no confidence vote, since Democrats hold a majority of Senate seats but not the 60 required to pass a vote of no confidence.

June 10, 2007

Six found dead in Wisconsin shooting

Six people were found dead in a shooting inside a southern Wisconsin home, the Pioneer Press reported Sunday. Two infant boys were among the dead in what appears to be a case of a domestic dispute that got out of control. A two-year-old girl was found in a nearby van with a gunshot wound to the chest and is currently in critical condition at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. Neighbors in the town of Delavan shrugged off the popping noises as summer fireworks. A male family member who escaped the violence is cooperating with a police investigation. Authorities said they do not think the community is in danger and are working with the witness to figure out the details of the complicated crime scene.

This article is a good example of a hard news story structure. The lede is to-the-point, detailing the who, what, and why. The one thing missing from this article is the nut graph, which sort of exists between talking of the two survivors but is not a complete nut graph because it does not give the where or who is the suspect in the shootings. The article is vauge in whether police believe the father of the children was the shooter or the mother or another present adult. However, the article sticks pretty closely to the inverted pyramid style. The most important information is in the first three paragraphs. Then, the article dives more into speculating why the shootings occured and the status of the investigation. Then, the article rehashes the night in question in more detail, also detailing some of the victims of the shooting. Finally, the article throws in some trivia about the town the shooting occured in, which is not vital to the story and could be cut if space were limited. However, this information makes the town more relevant and gives an idea about the type of setting this crime took place in.

Teen dies in north side violence

A 14-year-old girl died late Saturday after being shot leaving a party in Minneapolis's north side neighborhood, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The girl, Charez Jones, was walking home from a party with her boyfriend and younger step-brother when they saw three men fighting at the corner of 33rd and Humboldt Avenues N. The teens decided to turn around and began to run when they heard gunshots. Jones was separated from the group and was found dead shortly after near the doorstep to the party they had recently left. Police said they are still looking for the three men and that they believe Jones was an unintentional victim of the violence. She would have finished her freshman year at Edison High School on Tuesday. The Pioneer Press, which also picked up the story, said the teen and her boyfriend had attended a birthday party for a 17-year-old girl on Humboldt Avenue N and had called a cousin shortly after 10:30 p.m. for a ride home. Party-goers had to submit to a weapons search before being allowed into the house, according to family members of the 17-year-old birthday girl. A group of four men approached the house about the time Jones stepped outside to call her cousin, and according to the host family, the men did not submit to a weapons search and consequently were not allowed inside. Police believe these men may be connected to the shooting.

June 7, 2007

Hmong leader charged

A prominent Hmong leader was among ten indicted this week in conspiracy charges to bring down the communist government in Laos. General Vang Pao, a Hmong military leader with strong Minnesota connections, was charged with raising money to buy weapons and recruiting fighters to topple the government in Laos, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday.

Vang Pao has long vowed to return the Hmong to their home in Laos, where they were ousted during the Vietnam War by the communist government in the country. Hmong soldiers helped the United States military perform a "secret war" in Laos and surrounding countries during the Vietnam War but their efforts to defend their homeland were abandoned by the United States after the Vietnam War ended.

Vang Pao made two trips to Minnesota in recent months, alledgedly raising money for his group's efforts to overthrow the Laotian government. Others in his group, called Neo Hom, shopped for military equipment sold illegally and were reportedly warned by a former Wisconsin senator to go outside the United States to complete the weapons transactions because the senator had heard of a sting operation surrounding the deals.

Locally, former US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger met with those close to the general Tuesday to discuss a defense council in the case. Heffelfinger acknowledged that he may be chosen as the head defense attorney in the case.

Bush derails G8 climate initiatives

The White House effectively derailed climate change initiatives being discussed at the G8 summit meeting in a Baltic Sea resort Wednesday, the New York Times reported. The initiative was backed by one of President Bush's strongest European allies, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

The White House said it would resist pressure to committ to long-term targets in national greenhouse gas emission, which was one of Chancellor Merkel's main priorities at the annual meeting of the world's eight wealthiest nations.

Wednesday's tension only begins the week of massive protesting in the seaside German town of Heiligendamm, with an important meeting between President Bush and Russia's President Vladimir Putin slated for Thursday. White House relations with Russia have been suffering lately and Thursday's private meeting in intended to discuss some of those differences.

Libby gets 2 1/2 years

Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentanced to 30 months in prison Tuesday for his role in the leaking of a CIA officer's name to the media. Libby was convicted of lying to federal investigators about his knowledge in the case, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

A U.S. District Court Judge who sentanced Libby imposed the strict prison penalty and a financial penalty of $250,000, also saying he thought Libby "got off course" during his time at the White House.

Libby, a prominent Washington lawyer, resigned from his job at the White House in October, 2005 after being indicted in the leak. A federal jury found Libby guitly of four felonies in March, including perjury and obstruction of justice.