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March 31, 2007

Australian is First Guantanamo Convict

A U.S. military tribunal sentenced an Australian to nine months in prison Friday after he pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism. Hicks’s sentence originally called for seven years in prison, a charge a panel of military officers sentenced Hicks to on a charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization. In exchange for Hicks' guilty plea in the morning hearing, the sentence had been reduced to nine months. Under the plea deal, the confessed Taliban-allied gunman will be allowed to serve his sentence in an Australian prison, but must remain silent about any alleged abuse while in custody. Under the deal, Hicks will be allowed to leave Guantanamo within 60 days. Described as a former outback cowboy, Hicks acknowledged aiding Al-Qaida during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, confirmed that he conducted surveillance on the former U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

One Fact about the plea agreement that I don’t agree with is the stipulation under his plea deal that he has “never been illegally treated by a person or persons while in the custody of the U.S. government.? It seems like the U.S. government is trying to cover up the mistreatment of detainees. Hicks earlier stated that he had been beaten and deprived of sleep while at the prison facility.

The two stories from the Associated Press and the McClatchy News Service are almost identical in the information they present. The difference is that the AP article mentions more of Hicks’s plea agreement, while the McClatchy News Service talks more on the trials and the terrorist actions of hicks.

Click the title to read the AP article or

Click here to see the McClatchy News Service

Father Poisons Son and then Self

Poison has been ruled the cause of death for the deaths of a father and son Feb. 14. Police discovered the bodies of a man and his son on the floor of a hotel room. 47-year-old Jeffrey Wagner of Edgerton, and his son, 7-year-old Zachary Wolfe of Luck, were found dead at the Richfield AmericInn, off of Interstate 494. Investigators were initially confused by how the father and son had died. There were no weapons in the hotel room or signs of injury to the bodies. Investigators believe Wagner killed his son and then himself. That idea was supported by the medical examiner's office when it ruled Wagner's death a suicide and Zachary's death a homicide. The Hennepin County coroner's office determined Wagner and Wolfe died from ingesting ethylene glycol - an active ingredient in antifreeze, which, becomes highly acidic once ingested, causing severe damage to the kidney, brain, liver and blood vessels.

The stories ran by the Pioneer Press and the Associated Press both discuss how Wagner picked up Zachary from his mother's home while the boy waited for a school bus. The Pioneer Press story differs in that it explains the troubled relationship between Wagner and his ex-wife, Zachary’s mother. The Pioneer Press writer mentions how no Amber Alert was issued because Zachary’s mother thought her child was not in any danger.

Read the Associated Press article here

or click the title to read the Pioneer Press article

Standoff with Bank Robber ends in Apparent Suicide

A standoff in Plymouth MN between police and a suspected bank robber ended Friday when the robber apparently shot himself. David Dean Dahlen, 47, was found this morning dead after a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. The incident began around 12:35 p.m. yesterday when police recieved a report of an armed robbery at a US Bank at the Four Seasons Mall. Witnesses say Dahlen first tried to escape the scene jumping into a vehicle that failed to start. Dahlen then fled on foot, Plymouth police said. He ran until reached some nearby homes along the 4200 block of Quaker Lane. Dahlen forced his way into a house where he ordered a woman, the only occupant, to get out. The woman was not harmed. Once outside, she contacted the authorities. Police arrived and setup a perimeter around the house and tried to contact Dahlen by phone. Failing to reach Dahlen, police entered the home around 5:30 p.m. Officers found Dahlen in an upstairs bathroom, dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. Officers were also able to recover the money stolen from the bank.

The Star Tribune really covered this story well, detailing the lockdown procedures surrounding neighbors and a local school had to endure. Both the Tribune and the Pioneer Press mentioned Dahlen had been released from prison in 1997 for a previous bank robbery, something that I believe gives readers a better idea of just the type of person Dahlen was. Although the Star Tribune article is longer, the Pioneer Press article seems to achieve the same result, only in less space.

Read the Pioneer Press article here1

or click the title to reade the Star Tribune article

March 25, 2007

Three Shot to Death in a St. Paul Home


Masked intruders broke into a St. Paul home Early Friday morning. The men demanded drugs and money from a mom, her boyfriend and her three children. The boyfriend offered the robbers $4 and a TV, but the armed intruders wanted more. Not getting what they were after, the five reported gunmen gathered Maria McLay, Otahl Saunders and the three children into an upstairs bedroom. Two of the children, a 7-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, reportedly witnessed the execution style killings of their mother, the boyfriend and their 15-year-old sister, Brittany Kekedakis. The intruders then made their way out the back door of the house, carrying money, electronics and jewelry. The two children fled afterwards to a nearby uncle’s house where they called police. Investigators are still searching for the suspects and clues at the scene of the crime.

The stories in the Star Tribune Pioneer Press are very similar in their focus. Both spoke to police investigators and family members of the victims to paint a clear picture of the murder scene to readers. The Pioneer Press reporter, however, chose to center more on the investigation aspects of the story, writing on how police are “feverishly? searching through the scene for all available clues. The Star Tribune article had a greater focus on the slain 15-year-old girl, mentioning how she was perceived at Como Park High School as "a cool, normal girl" who participated in a variety of school activities, including the school’s newspaper.

Click here for the Star Tribune story

or click the title for the Pioneer Press story

Minnesota Soldier Killed in Iraq


Another Minnesota Soldier was killed Saturday when his patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device, bringing the total of Minnesota troops killed in the war to 47. Minnesota National Guard Sgt. Greg Ninerd Riewer, of Frazee, Minnesota was originally scheduled to be home by now, but he was just one of the 2,600 Minnesota National Guard soldiers who learned in January their service in Iraq would be extended until August. The attack which happened at about 5:30 p.m., struck Riewer’s vehicle, killing him and also injuring three other Minnesota members in his unit.

The Star Tribune article talks mostly about Riewer’s life here in Minnesota; his hobbies, personality and how he was nicknamed “Smiley? by his family in Frazee because of his quiet nature. The story mentions a lot of his family. Riewer had five sisters and seven brothers, one of which is currently on deployment in Iraq.

The Pioneer Press article goes more in depth with Riewer’s service in Iraq and that he would have been in Minnesota now had his service not been extended. I feel it shows a little bias in Brian Bonner, the Pioneer Press reporter who wrote the article. There is bias in other parts of the article as well. The lead opens up with, “The state's latest combat casualty in a four-year-old war that has no end in sight.? An experienced reporter would know better than to put his or her personal opinions in a story.

Read the Pioneer Press article here

or click the title to get the Star Tribune

Rat Poison Contaminates Pet Food

Rat poison found in store bought pet food has lead to the recall of more than 60 million cans of cat and dog food from company Menu Foods, this includes all 95 brands of "cuts and gravy" style food produced by the company. The contaminated food has been blamed for the deaths of at least 15 cats and two dogs, but scientists say they still don’t know how the poison got there in the first place. More animal deaths are expected as the recall goes into effect. The poison itself was identified as aminopterin, a cancer drug that once was used to induce abortions in the United States and is still used to kill rats in some other countries.

The Associated Press article talks about the specifics of the recall and focuses on the poison. The article explains how Scientists at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and at the New York State Food Laboratory tested different foods and finding the poison in the majority.

The New York Times article digs much deeper into the people who are involved with the ongoing investigation, quoting officials from the Food and Drug Administration and chairmen and chairwoman from Menu Foods. The overall reporting of the times article is much deeper. They seem to mention every group possible being affected by the recall, even pet owners who believe their pets have been poisoned by the contaminated food.

Read the New York Times article here

or click the title to get the AP article

March 10, 2007

Baby Kidnapped by Woman Posing as Nurse

A three-day-old infant was kidnapped at a Texas hospital early Saturday by a woman posing as a medical worker, according to police. The baby was last seen at 1:20 a.m. at Covenant Lakeside Hospital in Lubbock Texas. A woman wearing blue and flower-print hospital scrubs and a gray hooded jacket walked in, took the child and escaped in a pickup truck. The woman was captured on surveillance cameras walking out of the lobby.

The suspect had apparently gone into the mother's room several times before the baby was taken, telling the mother the baby needed treatment, according to the senior vice president of Covenant Health System. The mother alerted hospital personnel that hr baby had been taken 15 minutes of the crime. The hospital reported the baby was wearing a monitoring device, which could help lead police to the infant. Interestingly, this is the second hospital abduction in Lubbock in less than a year.

Read the Associated Press article here


Click the title to read the transcript from the Nancy Grace Show on CNN

Man Shot on Metro Bus

A Twin Cities man was shot after trying to quiet a group of loud and rowdy passengers aboard a Metro Transit bus. 34-year-old Cleveland Montgomery was rushed to North Memorial Medical Center in critical condition Thursday. Authorities said the men who ranged in age from their late teens and early 20s, were being "jerks." Montgomery spoke to the group to try to calm them down and act respectable. As the group of four to five men got up to get off at Emerson Avenue N. near 18th Avenue, one of the men confronted and harassed Montgomery. After a brief verbal argument, the man pulled out a gun and shot Montgomery around 7:12 p.m. For trying to convince the unruly mean to be reasonable. Montgomery suffered two bullet wounds in his chest and a third in his left arm. He is scheduled to undergo surgery this Sunday.

The shooting has prompted Metro Transit, Minneapolis police and community activists to increase their efforts to maintain safety and decency on the busiest routes in the metro area where trouble occurs. This would include placing more officers on metro buses.

Read the StarTribune article here

or click the title to read the Pioneer Press article

March 9, 2007

Minneapolis Gas Station Explodes.

An explosion that rocked South Minneapolis last night is being considered the work of arsonists. Investigators are looking into the possibility that the destruction of Hovde's Auto Repair at 34th Street and 38th Avenue was arson. Multiple 911 callers reported seeing people running from the scene of the explosion Thursday night around 10 pm.

Firefighters say the blast was due to an excess build up of natural gas inside of the building. Motor oil and tires gave fire fighters little trouble as they put out the flames in only an hour. The building, which has stood since 1921, will likely not make a comeback according to the current owner of the station because of costly repairs. Luckily no one was injured or killed in the explosion felt miles around. A next door house was heavily damaged when it was struck by debris from the exploding gas station.

Click the title or click here to read the WCCO 4 article and see the 3 newscasts.

March 1, 2007

Storms Tear Through Southern States

Tornadoes tore through Alabama Thursday leaving seven dead in its wake. The numerous tornadoes were largely a part of a major line of thunderstorms and snowstorms that stretched from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. More than 50 people were hospitalized as the violent storm continued its rampage through the state. 18 people were originally reported dead but that number was later reduced due to a reported lack in communication.

Five of the seven reported fatalities were at a high school where students became pinned under debris when a roof collapsed. At this time, rescue crews continue to dig through piles of rubble beneath portable lights at Enterprise High School, looking for any possible other victims. One state emergency spokeswoman said the number of dead would likely increase as the search effort continues through the night.

Click the title to read the AP article orclick here for the New York Times Article

Represenative Michele Bachmann clarifies

U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann has admitted that her comments on Iran and Al-Qaeda were without actual knowledge on the matter and simply her opinions. Bachman said on Feb. 9 that an agreement already existed between Iran and other unnamed parties to disrupt the U.S.'s plans in the Middle East. As she put it, "America's adversaries are in agreement that a divided Iraq benefits their objective to expel America from the region, resulting in Iraq being a safe haven for terrorists." Bachmann claimed her comments were from publicly available reports about the intentions of Al-Qaeda and Iran and not based on any classified material.

Although Bachmann had no formal evidence to base her claims on, it is common knowledge that Iran and Al-Qaeda are firmly against U.S. interests.

read the star tribune article here or
click the title to listen to Michele Bachmann's speech

Chemicals found in water get a risk upgrade

Chemicals produced by Minnesota's own 3M, found in metro area water supplies have been labled "potentially more dangerous" by state health officials. The Minnesota Department of Health changed its recommended allowable concentration of two chemicals known as PFOA and PFOS. The chemicals were discovered in the city wells of Oakdale and more than 200 private wells in Lake Elmo during the past three years. The old recommendations by the health board stated 1.0 parts per billion for PFOAs and 0.6 parts per billion for PFOS would be not be harmful to citizens who consumed the chemicals in those quantities. The revised concentrations are exactly half of the previous recommendations. The change is due to recent scientific tests performed animals to document the effects of the chemicals. Scientists say that the research suggests there are greater health risks than previously thought.

3M is working quickly to install municipal water treatment facilities in the affected areas.

Click the title for the Star Tribune story or
read the Minnesota Public Radio article here