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December 9, 2007

Oprah endorses Obama

Oprah Winfrey brought thousands of Iowans to campaign rallies for Sen. Barack Obama Saturday. This is her first endorsement in a presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune.
She talked about her own personal belief in Obama's ability to lead the country, despite the thoughts brought up by others about his lack of experience in Washington. Winfrey did not mention Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton specifically, but it was she who first doubted Obama's level of experience.
To counter the excitement about Winfrey, Clinton brought two guests with her to Iowa, her daughter, Chelsea, and her mother, Dorothy Rodham. Neither women had appeared with Clinton on her campaign trail before.
The race in Iowa between the Democratic candidates, Obama, Clinton and John Edwards, is close.

Body found and identified in Florida's parking garage collapse

The body found in rumble of a collapsed parking garage in Jacksonville was identified as a missing construction worker, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune.
WIllie "L.B." Edwards' body was found early Saturday, two days after the garage in downtown Jacksonville collapsed. His body was removed and identified shortly after. He was 26.
Edwards had been trapped in a mix of crumbled concrete and wet concrete that dried around him, Fire Operations Chief Brady Rigdon said.
Reginald Edwards, the victim's brother, said Willie as working extra hours filling in for another worker to earn extra money. He planned to use the money to pay for toys he had put on layaway for his two children.
The garage collapsed while workers were pouring concrete on the sixth floor. Officials are not sure of the cause and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will begin investigating on Monday.

Manila bans street carollers

Christmas carollers have been banned from the busy streets in Manila, Philippines' capital city, officials said and BBC reported.
The singers have been banned for safety reasons, said Bayani Fernando, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) head. Many poor children would sing for money at busy intersections and run into the road knocking on windows. The intention of the ban is to keep carollers out of speeding traffic's path.
"What we are against are those who dart across thoroughfares knocking on vehicle windows to beg for alms since this is a sure-fire way to get maimed or killed," local media quoted Mr Fernando as saying.
Carollers will still be allowed to go door to door in the suburbs where they are out of dangers' way.

December 7, 2007

Worker falls to his death in downtown Minneapolis

A man clearing snow off the roof of the IDS Tower's Crystal Court in downtown Minneapolis fell to his death Wednesday around 2 p.m., reports the Star Tribune.
Fidel Danilo Sanchez-Flores, one of two men cleaning the roof, fell five to six stories to his death. The men both worked for Columbia Building Services, a small northeast Minneapolis business. Sanchez-Flores, 52, lived in West St. Paul.
This incident kept the Crystal Court closed the rest of the day, though no one on the ground was hurt. This is at least the third death in downtown Minneapolis involving a worker falling from a building.
Michelle Ochs, who works downtown described the event as something from a movie. She was walking on the skyway level of the Crystal Court when she heard a crash and saw Plexiglas shards fall to the granite floor. Sanchez-Flores landed near the Christmas tree.
Silence followed by gasps and screams filled the court as rescue workers tried to resuscitate him. Efforts failed and a white sheet was placed over the body. Security guards closed off the entrances.
Questions about whether his harness was attached have been raised.

Bloomington man charged with felony cruelty for poisoning his neighbors dog

A Bloomington man was charged with felony cruelty to animals Thursday after allegedly poisoning his neighbors dog with pesticide, reported the Star Tribune.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court, Aaron John Maenke placed a container of pesticide used to kill flies inside his neighbors fence, where their 2-year-old black lab was. The complaint also stated that Maenke bought the pesticide with the intent to poison the dog.
A McClelland family member came home and found the dog, Jesse, foaming at the mouth. They rushed to the vet, but the dog died on the way.
The McClelland family dog was a trained hunting dog who had gone on hunting trips with the family.
"I'm just horrified over this," Patrick McClellan said today in response to the charges being filed. "He was a harmless, beautiful black lab."
If convicted, Maenke could be charged a fine of $5,000 and/or serve up to two years in jail.

December 1, 2007

Four people arrested for child trafficking in Ghana

Ghana Police have arrested four people on accusations of trafficking children as young as five, reports the BBC. Police are also pursing two more who are on the run.
Those arrested are accused of sending the children to work in fishing communities near Lake Volta. They are used for untangling nets while diving under water and picking fish from nets. The girls' hands are much less coarse than fishermen's.
It is also not uncommon for Ghanaian families to send their children away in return for payment. High poverty rates have kept this practice going for years. Parents typically receive about $50 to send their child to work for three years.
Joseph Rispoli of the International Organisation For Migration (IOM) said the work is often dangerous.
"Their hands, especially the girls', are not as coarse as the fishermen's hands, so they actually use those little girls to be able to extract the fish from these winch nets."They even cut their hands open on the scales sometimes."

The IOM sees these arrests as a breakthrough because the issue is being taken more seriously than it has been in the past. Approximately 100 children have been identified as being sent to the Lake Volta area. However, because of low funding, the IOM can only rescue about one-third of those children.

Two St. Paul men charged with robbing two others and making them strip

Two St. Paul men were charged with first-degree aggravated robbery this week after they allegedly held two Wisconsin college students at knifepoint while robbing them, making them strip and telling them to run into the woods, reports the Pioneer Press.
Gary Gene Littlesoldier, 18, and James Wayne Davis-Drew, 19, followed the two students to a party late Saturday night. The 19 and 21-year-old who attend school in Eau Claire, Wis., left the party after feeling uncomfortable around the others at the party.
Littlesoldier and Davis-Drew asked the students for a cigarette, then flashed a knife with a 3- to 4- inch blade. They ordered the victims into the backseat of their car. Davis-Drew drove to the Lower Afton and Battle Creek area of St. Paul while Littlesoldier held one of the victims in a headlock.
There the victims' cell phones, wallets and clothes. Littlesoldier and Davis-Drew told them to run into the woods and that they would be killed if they contacted police.
The students ran wearing only socks and boxer shorts. They knocked on several doors before someone agreed to let them call the police.

First snow storm causes traffic accidents

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported 137 traffic accidents statewide between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday as the first snow accumulated on the ground. Eighty-eight of those were in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, but none were with any serious injuries, reports the Star Tribune.
Snow started falling Saturday morning and continued throughout the day. Many places, including the Twin Cities, were covered in one to three inches by midday.
Many residents went out Saturday morning to stock up at grocery and hardware stores. The snow is forecast to continue and accumulate to as many as 16 inches in some parts of the state, according to the National Weather Service.
MnDOT reported difficult driving conditions from all areas of the state. Southern Minnesota was seeing snow mixed with sleet come down and gusts of wind up to 20 mph.
State Patrol Lt. Tom Schmitz said the best driving plan in this kind of storm is none. He suggests to not put your schedule before your safety. Reducing speed, using headlights and seat belts and leaving plenty of room between vehicles are all good precautions to take.