« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

October 29, 2008

Celine Dion Postpones Concert at Target Center

A respiratory illness has caused Celine Dion to postpone Thursday's concert at the Target Center in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
Dion has been battling a virus for about a week, according to a press release sent out by Target Center staff and Dion's publicists.
She performed two shows Tuesday night in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but "left the stage weak and breathless," the release stated.
"Her doctor stated that despite antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, bronchodilators and mucolytic agents prescribed for her condition, she has continued to worsen and he insists that she refrain from singing for the next five days, in order for her to recover completely," the press release stated.
A makeup date has already been set for Feb. 5.

Source: Star Tribune

Italian Judge Rules American to Stay Jail Pending Trial in a Murder

An Italian judge ruled Wednesday that an American college student and her former Italian boyfriend will remain in jail while awaiting trial in the killing of the woman's British apartment mate, lawyers said.
Judge Paolo Micheli rejected requests by the defense to grant house arrest to both Amanda Knox, a student from Seattle, and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito of Italy, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Micheli indicted the two suspects Tuesday on charges of murder and sexual violence in the killing of Meredith Kercher, 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher. She was found stabbed in the neck last Nov. 2 in the apartment she shared with Knox in Perugia.
Knox and Sollecito have denied the charges.
Defense lawyers had proposed Knox be held at a community for recovering drug addicts and young offenders run by a Roman Catholic charity near Perugia but persecutors argued she will flee, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"We would take anything to get her out of prison," Knox's father, Curt, told The Associated Press by telephone.
The lawyer for Kercher's family, Francesco Maresca, said the judge turned down a request for bail.
Knox and Sollecito have been in custody for almost a year. Their trial is scheduled to start Dec. 4.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Gang Member Arrested in Killing of Minneapolis Teen

A suspected gang member from Richfield was charged with murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a teenager playing football behind his Minneapolis home during his cousin's birthday party, the Star Tribune reported.
Edgar Rene Barrientos-Quintana,25, is being held in the Hennepin County jail on $2 million bail, accused of killing Jesse Leon Omar Mickelson, 18, on Oct. 11.
Witnesses told police that a car came through an alley in and Barrientos-Quintana reached out of the window from the back seat and fired several shots.
Mickelson, a student at Roosevelt High School and aspiring rapper, was shot twice in the upper body, police said.
Witnesses said they either recognized the shooter as "Smoky" or by his real name. Police knew of a "Smoky" being Barrientos-Quintana and a Surenos gang member, according to a criminal complaint.
He was arrested last Wednesday in Plymouth and told police that he was a gang member and was familiar with the home where the shooting occurred.
The criminal complaint did not offer a motive for the shooting. Mickelson's guardian has speculated that the shots were aimed at people living in a nearby house.

Source: Star Tribune


Man suffocates in compost pile of leaves, plastic

A temporary worker died accidentally Monday while pulling plastic bags off of leaves at a composting business in north Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
The 21-year-old man, whose name hasn't been released, fell into the pile of leaves and plastic bags at Organic Tech Inc., and apparently suffocated, police spokesman Jesse Garcia said.
"It was a freak accident," he said. "It sounds like he was working hard and trying to make a better life. It was pretty sad."
The man was dead when police arrived.

Source: Star Tribune


Baby Remains Stolen from Cemetery

The remains of an infant buried 83 years ago were dug up Sunday and taken from a cemetery in Barron County, Wis., the Star Tribune reported.
With Halloween approaching, this could be a prank gone too far, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said.
"This time of year you kind of wonder," he said. "It's a different one. I just hope it is the last one," Fitzgerald said.
The Star Tribune reported that the robbers left pieces of the wooden coffin, piles of dirt and the tombstone, which said the year 1925 and the inscription "Baby Locke."
There are no suspects or clues of a motive, Fitzgerald said.
He said he has never seen anything like this in 16 years as an officer, the Star Tribune reported.
The graveyard, Pioneer Rest Cemetery, is still in use and is well-kept. The robbery has area residents concerned "about other people buried here who are from the area," Fitzgerald said.
"I hope it was some sort of childish prank some kids did that got a little out of hand," Fitzgerald said. "It is disturbing. And you add that it was a baby's remains."It affects people."

Source: Star Tribune

October 26, 2008

Radiologists Host Mammogram Party

Radiologists hosted a mammogram party at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minn. Thursday, the Star Tribune reported.
11 women partcipated in the event not only included a mammogram but manicures, massages, wine and food.
St. Francis got the idea to offer mammo parties when Jimly Harris, manager of diagnostic services, heard of a similar program in Florida, the Star Tribune reported.
Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among U.S. women, yet fewer women are getting mammograms, said Mary Hestness, medical director of radiology, said. The women who came to the party consistently forgot or avoided their mammogram appointments.
Without a party, "I never would have done this," Kelly Austin said. Austin had her first mammogram at the party. At 38, she's shy of the recommended age of 40 for this exam to begin but some doctors recommend that women start as early as 35, especially if there's a family history of breast cancer, the Star Tribune reported.
The medical center is booking future parties, which it expects will occur on a monthly basis.

Source: Star Tribune


Congregation Accepts Lesbian Minister

An openly lesbian pastor was ordained at the Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis Saturday, the Star Tribune reported.
Jodi Barry has been a youth minister intern for a year at the church, but the ceremony was conducted by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), a national network committed to full acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors in the Lutheran church.
Supporters hope the ordination will lead togreater acceptance of gays and lesbian pastors by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Star Tribune reported.
According to activists, such ordinations, are not officially recognized by the national church body and the openly gay ministers are not included on the church's national roster of pastors, the Star Tribune reported.
"Change comes slowly," Barry said."It took a long time for Martin Luther. Our goal has always been not to start a new church, not to leave the ELCA."
The service marked the first time a gay person has been called to a special ministry, a choice usually made by synod officials, not a congregation, ELM representatives said.

Source: Star Tribune

October 18, 2008

Russell Simmons and Hip-Hop Stars Lend Advice about Gaining a Home

ATLANTA - Hip-hop music businessman Russell Simmons, along with mortgage consultants and entertainment figures like Ludacris, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, D. Woods of Danity Kane and music executive Kevin Liles, spoke to the crowd at the Hip-Hop Summit at Clark Atlanta University, the Star Tribune reported.
The theme was "Urging People to 'Get Your Money Right!"
Simmons believes now is the best time to buy a home because the property will eventually appreciate, the Star Tribune reported.
"There are opportunities out there, but people just don't know about it," Simmons said. "With financial stability, it's a great time to buy when it's low. It'll pick back up in the long run."
Participants received an 86-page booklet that is half English and Spanish, stressing the importance of home ownership, a solid credit score and steps for first time home buyers, the Star Tribune reported.

Source: Star Tribune

October 17, 2008

New York Journalist Killed During Civil Protest

Bradley Will, a journalist from New York City, was shot and killed by an anti-government protester during civil unrest in the state of Oaxaca two years ago, the Mexican authorities said Friday.
The protester, Juan Manuel Martínez, was arrested in Oaxaca on Thursday and accused of homicide, the reported. Another man, who was accused of protecting him as he fled, was also arrested, said Víctor Emilio Corzo Cabañas, a deputy federal attorney general.
The two men were members of a coalition of left-wing organizations, the Oaxaca People’s Popular Assembly, that was seeking to overcome the governor of Oaxaca, officials said.
His death, and the killing of three other people that day, prompted the president at the time, Vicente Fox, to send in the federal police to clear the streets, the New York Times reported.
The left-wing coalition said in a statement that Martínez and Cabañas were innocent and that they had been mistreated.

Source: New York Times


U.S. Infant Mortality Rate has Not Changed

The U.S. infant mortality rate has barely changed between 2000 and 2005,compared to other developed countries despite spending more on health care, according to a report released Wednesday.
The Star Tribune reported, the rate was 6.86 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005, almost unchanged from 6.89 deaths per 1,000 births in 2000. In 1900, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 100 deaths per 1,000 live births.
In 2004, the United States dropped to 29th in the world in infant mortality. In 1960, it was 12th, the Star Tribune reported.
According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Premature, birth and low birth weight are by far the biggest causes of infant death.

Source: Star Tribune

Woodbury Man Kills Girlfriend and Tells Wife

A Woodbury man shot his 19-year-old Maplewood girlfriend three times over an breakup and then called his wife to tell her of the slaying, according to criminal charges filed Tuesday in Hudson, Wis.
Christopher S. Ledesma, 29, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide after killing his girlfriend, Kelly Lynn Dahm, the Star Tribune reported.
She was found dead in the front passenger seat of Ledesma's car a parking lot of the St. Croix County Government Center in Hudson, police said.
Danielle Ledesma, his wife, told police that her husband called her at her boyfriend's house in Fond du Lac, Wis.
"She is dead. I put three bullets in her head," Ledesma he told his wife, according to the criminal complaint filed in St. Croix County Circuit Court.
Danielle Ledesma bought a handgun in Woodbury and she lent it to her husband two days before the shooting, and it was the same gun found the night he was arrested, according to the complaint.
Police described Ledesma and Dahm as having an "on-again, off-again" romantic relationship, reported the Star Tribune.
An autopsy by the Ramsey County showed she died from a gunshot to the left side of her head. She also was shot twice in the upper torso, the complaint said.

Source: Star Tribune

October 14, 2008

Four Northfield Men Jailed in Assualt of Disabled Man

Four Northfield men were jailed Sunday after being charged with false imprisonment and assault with a weapon of a mentally disabled man in Lakeville last weekend, police said.
The victim identified the men as Jonathon Diepold, 21, John Maniglia, 19, and Glen Ries, 33, police said.
The four men lured the victim from his home and beat him on two seperate occassions, the Star Tribune reported.
They confronted the victim and beat him severely within two to three hours. Then he was dropped off at the Lakeville home where he lives, police said.
The next night, he was again lured from the home, where he was beaten and struck again until he lost consciousness, said Dave Bellows, chief deputy with the Dakota County Sheriff's Office.
He was then let go and began walking down a road where he was found by a motorist who drove him to Northfield Hospital.
"I've seen the photographs from this particular beating, and in nearly 30 years of law enforcement, the level of beating this man took was savage, it was just savage," Bellows said.
Bellows said the relationship between the victim and suspects is unknown, but the motivation for the beating came from a story told to the suspects by a teenage girl about the victim.
Bellows would not say what the story was, but he said it was untrue, the Star Tribune reported.

Source: Star Tribune


October 12, 2008

John Legend Kick Off Tour at Northrop

John Legend will kick off his world tour Nov. 19 in Minneapolis at the Northrop Auditorium.
The Grammy-winning piano star, Legend, is promoting his new CD, "Evolver," out Oct. 28. The album features Kanye West, Estelle and Brandy. Raphael Saadiq will be opening the concert, the Star Tribune reported.

Source: Star Tribune

U Pulls Out of Center in North Minneapolis

The University of Minnesota decided to pull out as be a main tenant of a planned $60 million social services building on the North Side of Minneapolis because of lack of finances, the Star Tribune reported.
The university's programs would have aimed at keeping families together and improving parenting skills but won't be offered at the planned building near Plymouth and Penn Avenues.
"I'm just very, very disappointed. I was very, very enthusiastic about it," Council Member Don Samuels said Wednesday.
Robert Jones, a senior university vice president, blamed a worsening financial picture for the university and the nation, and higher lease costs than the university could afford, the Star Tribune reported.
He said the university remains committed to renovating the center as a base for a variety of university outreach programs ranging from pre-kindergarten preparation to master gardening.

Source: Star Tribune

October 10, 2008

St. Paul Rape Suspect Denied Charges

A teenage boy denied rape charges of a disabled teenage girl and a 57-year-old woman in a tape-recorded interview Friday in Ramsey County District Court in Saint Paul, police said.
Joshua L. Smith, was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in 2006, who has mental and physical disabilities, the Star Tribune reported.
He also is charged with raping and beating a 57-year-old woman in the parking lot behind the Salvation Army building on Payne Avenue on New Year's Day 2007, police said.
Both attacks happened when Smith was 16.
Smith, now 18, is on trial in Ramsey County District Court on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the Star Tribune reported.
Smith was interviewed by Sgt. Jennifer O'Donnell. When asked about the attack of the teenage girl, Smith denied all accusations.
"Are you sure you never had sex with her?" O'Donnell asked.
"Sure," Smith said.
"Are you sure she never gave you [oral sex]?"
"Sure."
Steven Swenson, a forensic scientist for the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was the last to take the witness stand Friday.
He testified that semen was found on the 17-year-old victim's underwear, on the oral and genital swab taken from the 57-year-old victim during a sex assault exam.
Although semen was found, there was no testimony Friday stating that it was Smith’s DNA. The trial is expected continue Monday, the Star Tribune reported.

Source: Star Tribune

October 8, 2008

U.S. Government Debate Cuban Embargo after Hurricanes

The U.S. government has offered direct aid to help Cuba after Hurricane Ike and Gustav destroyed lands and property, the Washington Post reported.
For the first time in the 47-year history of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, the Bush administration offered to send an assessment team to the island and $100,000 in emergency funding for humanitarian groups after Hurricane Gustav.
The Cuban government dismissed the offer as too paltry to be serious, the Washington Post reported.
After Hurricane Ike, the administration raised its offer to $5 million, which U.S. officials called an unprecedented proposal of direct aid to the Cuban government.
The U.S. government attempted to supply Cuba with building materials , which included zinc roof sheeting, lumber, tools and wire, but the Cuban government has not responded.
Former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, who handed official power to his brother Raul but remains highly influential, signaled that Cuba should reject U.S. aid.
"Our country cannot accept a donation from the government that blockades us," Castro wrote in Granma, the Communist Party's daily newspaper.
Russia, Spain, and Brazil have contributed to the aid of Cuba by providing supplies and food.

Source: Washington Post

Gay Couples Rush to the Alter in California

Gay couples are rushing to get married in California before the statewide vote on same-sex marriage in November.
The New York Times reported that a study found that 3, 800 gay couples are marrying each month in California.
Same-sex weddings began in California in mid-June after the court decision became final, the Star Tribune reported.
In the past three months, California had more same-sex marriages than Massschussetts had in four years.
Massachusetts, the first state to allow same-sex marriages, in 2004, has had about 10,300 ceremonies, the Star Tribune reported.
11, 440 couples have married in California since it was legalized according to a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The rush in marriages is due to the upcoming vote on Proposition 8, which would amend the state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage, Kate Kendall, the executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said.
"After Nov. 4, it's possible the door to having that experience of a legally recognized marriage will be closed," Kendall said.

Sources: Star Tribune, New York Times

October 5, 2008

Janet Jackson Postpones Concert Shows


GREENSBORO, N.C. - Janet Jackson has postponed three more concert shows because of an undisclosed illness, the reported.
In an email, Jackson’s publicist said she was postponing a Saturday show in Greensboro, N.C., one on Sunday in Atlanta and a third on Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale.
Jackson, 42, was hospitalized Monday night in Montreal when she became “suddenly ill? shortly after she arrived for a show. She also canceled concerts in Boston and Philadelphia on Wednesday and Thursday, said Jackson’s representatives.
Jackson’s publicist asked people to keep their tickets for the postponed shows, and said the promoter is working to reschedule dates.
This is Jackson’s first North American tour in seven years.

Sources: Associated Press, Star Tribune

Salmonella Sickens People in 12 States

A health warning issued Friday by the government urges consumers to thoroughly cook frozen chicken dinners after 32 people in 12 states were sickened with salmonella poisoning.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture cited frozen dishes in which the chicken is raw, but breaded or pre-browned, giving the appearance of being cooked, the Star Tribune reported.
The USDA said many of the people who are sick did not follow the package's cooking instructions and microwaved the chicken dishes even though the instructions did not state that.
Microwaving didn't heat the meals enough to kill the salmonella.
Consumers should cook chicken products to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the department said.
Minnesota health officials found a link between the chicken dinners with salmonella illnesses reported in Minnesota and 11 other states.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight to 72 hours.
Salmonella can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems like infants and the elderly.

Sources: The Associated Press, Star Tribune

Boy Breaks into Zoo, Feeds Animals to Crocodile

SYDNEY, Australia- A 7-year-old boy broke into a popular Outback zoo Wednesday, fed several
animals to the resident crocodile and smashed several lizards to death with a rock, the zoo's director said.
The boy, whose name was not released because of his age, was caught on the zoo’s security camera jumping a security fence at the Alice Springs Reptile Center in central Australia, said zoo director Rex Neindorf.
The child bashed three lizards to death with a rock then fed them to ''Terry,'' an 11-foot, 440 pound saltwater crocodile, said Neindorf. He also fed several other animals by throwing them over the crocodile enclosure, the Chicago-SunTimes reported.
13 animals worth around $5,500 had been killed. “Although none were considered rare, some are difficult to
replace,? Neindorf said.
Alice Springs police said they are unable to press charges against the boy because of his age.
Children under age 10 can't be charged with criminal offenses in the Northern Territory.
Neindorf said he plans to sue the boy's parents.

Sources: Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times

Maplewood Man Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

A Maplewood man faces multiple charges for possession of child pornography after he allegedly
viewed sexual pictures involving minors in the basement of a house where his mother provides
day care, a complaint recently filed in Ramsey County District Court said.
Michael James Lundblad, 25, allegedly used a laptop computer to view teens performing sexual
acts and to solicit sex from a teenage boy while on an America Online chat line in 2007,
according to the complaint.
Authorities were notified of the solicitation by AOL and determined that a man using the username "cuteboytyler15" belonged to Lundblad. 174 files containing images of child pornography on the computer was found by authorities, the Star Tribune reported.
Lundblad was booked into the Ramsey County Jail on Friday. If convicted, he faces 5 years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both on each of the 10 counts.

Source: Star Tribune

Teens Clean Up Graffiti

Teens clean up graffiti Friday after vandalizing several small businesses in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.
The businesses said their property was spray-painted with graffiti Thursday night, but the vandals came back to apologize.
Diamond Lake Rental owner Bill Graham said his truck was spray-painted, but a group of teenagers apologized and cleaned up.
The teens' parents made them clean up, authorities said.
Police cited three teens with damage to property.

Sources: Star Tribune