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April 25, 2009

3 people killed in shooting

Three people were slain in shootings at a community theater near the University of Georgia on Saturday, according to CNN.

Athens-Clarke County coroner Sonny Wilson said the three people were shot off campus around 12:30 p.m. Saturday. There were no other immediate details, according to StarTribune.

Authorities are searching for George Zinkhan, a professor in the department of marketing and distribution at the Terry College of Business, in association with the killings, CNN reported.

The Athens-Clarke County police are investigating the events and the campus police are assisting, CNN reported.

The news has spread throughout the school in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta, StarTribune reported.

"The University community is shocked and saddened at this tragic event," University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams, said in a written statement and CNN reported. "Our first thoughts are for safety of the university community and for prompt apprehension of the person responsible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have been affected."

April 19, 2009

Ashton Kutcher beats CNN on Twitter

Ashton Kutcher, 31, is best known for his acting on "That 70s Show" and his marriage to Demi Moore, 15 years his senior. But not anymore. (FOX News)

Kutcher became the first Twitter user to gain more than one million "followers" on Twitter late Thursday evening, according to Los Angeles Times.

For a few days before Thursday, Kutcher had been racing CNN's breaking news feed (http://twitter.com/cnnbrk) with his own account (http://twitter.com/aplusk) to become the first "Twitter Millionaire," FOX News reported.

Just before midnight on Thursday, Kutcher's account reached the final number. Kutcher broadcast a live stream of himself, Moore, and friends watching the numbers, according to FOX News.

The group being broadcast celebrated with champagne and cheers as the one million mark was reached, FOX News reported.

Kutcher said he would donate 10,000 mosquito nets to the medical charity Malaria No More if he won. Just after the number was announced, Kutcher flashed a check for $100,000, the presumed amount for the nets, made out to the charity, FOX News reported.

CNN also declared on Tuesday that win or lose, they would match Kutcher's donation to the charity, according to FOX News.

Zac Efron soars in "17 Again"

Zac Efron's latest movie, "17 Again," was in first place at the box offices, taking in $24.1 million, according to Reuters.

The debut was about $4 million more than analysts projected, according to USA Today.

Even the distributor, Warner Bros. told Reuters that the earnings were better than expected.

In the movie, Efron plays a dispirited 27-year-old family man who becomes 17 again, and gets to relive his high school glory days, Reuters reported.

This signals yet another No. 1 for Efron, who was in "Hairspray" and was the lead in the "High School Musical" franchise, USA Today reported.

April 9, 2009

Dead man re-elected as mayor of Missouri town

The mayor of Winfield, Mo., was re-elected for a fourth term on Tuesday, nearly a month after his death.

Ballots had already been printed and absentee voting had begun when Harry Stonebraker died of a heart attack on March 11. He was 69, the BBC reported.

When the town voted for their mayor, he was the clear winner with 206 votes, or 90 percent. Alderman Bernie Panther was his competition and held the other 23 votes, according to the Associated Press.

Lincoln County Clerk Elaine Lust told the Associated Press that she was not surprised Stonebraker won. He had been a popular mayor who led the community after flooding damaged houses and farmland in 2008, Lust said.

Stonebraker had been a lifelong resident of the Winfield area, which is roughly 50 miles north-west of St. Louis. He was a retired construction superintendent and was serving his third two-year term as mayor when he died, the Associated Press reported.

April 6, 2009

Tracy police find container possibly linked to missing girl case

Tracy police found a container in a pond Monday close to the mobile home community where a girl was reported missing.

Police are investigating the discovery of a suitcase with a red ribbon around it that was found at the bottom of a pond north of Tracy, Calif., Mercury News reported.

The pond was being routinely drained near Tracy Boulevard, just north of Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park where missing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu was last seen, according to the Stockton Record.

Farmworkers found the suitcase and FBI investigators were on the scene, the Stockton Record reported.

Authorities will not confirm or deny that the suitcase is related to the case of Cantu, who has been missing since March 27, Mercury News reported.

San Joaquin Sherrif's Department spokesman Les Garcia told the Stockton Record that the container was suspicious.

The reward money for Cantu's return is nearly $30,000, according to Stockton Record.

April 5, 2009

Father shot and killed 5 children, himself

A father shot and killed his five children in his home in Washington state after arguing with his wife about another man earlier Friday, according to police.

James Harrison, 34, shot and killed four of his children in their bedrooms and the fifth in the bathroom, according to the New York Times.

Harrison had found his wife with another man on Friday night, and went back to his home without her. Relatives were at the house for a part of the night, but left before the shootings occurred, according to CNN.

Harrison was found early Saturday morning dead inside his SUV in an adjacent county, Detective Ed Troyer told CNN Radio on Sunday. He had shot himself with a rifle.

The children were identified by neighbors as Maxine, 16; Samantha, 14 or 15; Jamie, 11; Heather, 8; and James, 7, according to the New York Times.

Spokeswoman Sherry Hill told the New York Times that it was not clear who had called the agency to come to the house.

April 3, 2009

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President to retire

Gary Stern, the president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, is retiring.

Stern, 64, will retire this summer, according to the Fed on Thursday.

"I am confident that with the chairman's leadership, along with other outstanding policymakers in the Federal Reserve, our financial system will fully stabilize and our economy will once again resume growth," Stern told the Wall Street Journal.

Stern is the longest-serving U.S. Federal Reserve Bank president of the country’s 12 prior presidents. He became president in 1985, the Associated Press reported.

He currently is not a voting member of the interest rate setting Federal Open Market Committee, but he has been voicing concerns on monetary policy, according to the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal.

He tried to direct attention on addressing issues with financial institutions which were considered too big to fail, the Wall Street Journal reported. He even wrote and published a book called “Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts” in 2004.

A nationwide search will be conducted to find a replacement, the Associated Press reported.

March 29, 2009

Gunman kills 8 at a North Carolina nursing home

A man opened fire at a Carthage, N.C. nursing home on Sunday morning, killing seven patients and one nurse.

Six people were taken by ambulance to the nearby First Health Moore Regional Hospital, the New York Times reported. By that evening, three had been released, one was still being treated and two had died, according to Gretchen Kelly, the hospital spokeswoman.

Suspect Robert Stewart began the attack on the Pinelake Heath and Rehab home at 10 a.m., according to Maureen Krueger, the Moore County District Attorney, The New York Times reported.

The residents slain ranged from 78 to 98 years old, according to CNN.

Stewart, 45, was wounded by a police officer and caught on the scene, according to Carthage Police Chief Chris McKenzie.

Stewart will face eight counts of murder and one count of felony assault on a police officer, CNN reported.

March 13, 2009

Ten people die in gunman's shooting spree

A gunman killed 10 people on a shooting spree through three rural Alabama communities Thursday.

The gunman, Michael Kenneth McLendon, went on an hour-long rampage firing more than 200 rounds from four different guns, the Associated Press reported.

Police do no know what triggered the attack, where he murdered his mother, grandmother, uncle and two cousins. He continued to kill five seemingly random victims throughout the 24 mile shooing spree before killing himself, according to the Associated Press.

"This event formed the single deadliest crime recorded in Alabama," Col. Chris Murphy, the director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, told MSNBC.

The most significant evidence so far is a list of people that the gunman said "done him wrong," according to MSNBC.

March 12, 2009

House passes water bill

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a water bill that dedicates $19.4 billion to water and wastewater infrastructure on Thursday.

The bill, which also dedicates $13.8 billion to states water funds over 5 years, would create jobs, clean up the Great Lakes and help cities build wastewater systems, the StarTribune reported.

"The agenda for clean water is for this generation," Oberstar told StarTribune. "We have to manage it well."

The bill passed 317 to 101 and is a combination of five pieces of legislation that had passed in the House the previous year, but stalled when they reached the Senate, according to Reuters.

The bill would require states to provide principal forgiveness and negative-interest loans when working with water projects in low income communities, Reuters reported.

The other three pieces of legislation include another $2.5 billion in grants for sewer overflows, $250 million for alternative water source projects and $750 million for cleaning up the pollution within the Great Lakes. Reuters

March 8, 2009

NASA clears shuttle for liftoff on Wednesday

NASA managers cleared the space shuttle Discovery Friday for its upcoming launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday. Reuters

The shuttle is on a construction mission and is scheduled for liftoff at 9:20 p.m. Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., MSNBC reported.

The fourth and final set of U.S.-manufactured solar wing panels will be delivered to the station by the shuttle, aiding in the $100 billion project that has been under construction by 16 nations for more than a decade, according to Reuters.

The station assembly, which has been a large part of U.S. human space exploration for almost 30 years, is scheduled to be completed next year by NASA.

The launch, originally scheduled for Feb. 12, was postponed due to safety concerns with the ship’s fuel pressure valves, MSNBC reported.

This is the 125th shuttle mission and the first of five planned for this year, according to Reuters. It is scheduled to last 14 days.

Ohio man kills self after murdering 5 others

An Ohio man killed himself Friday after being cornered in a house by police in relation to the killings of five people, Cleveland, Ohio police said.

Davon Crawford, 33, was suspected of killing his new wife, Lechea Crawford, 30, his wife's sister Rose Stevens, 25, and her sisters three children, 5-year-old Destiny Woods and 2-year-old twins Deon and Davion Primm, USA Today reported.

A 7-year-old boy is in the hospital for a gunshot wound to his shoulder, a 12-year-old managed to escape the shooting and Crawford's 2-month-old daughter was unharmed, according to CNN.

Police began searching for Crawford Thursday.

"It looks like it was some type of domestic argument that sparked this tragedy," Police Chief Michael McGrath told CNN Friday.

Crawford did have a criminal record including serving time for manslaughter in 1995 and having gone to prison in 2002 after pleading guilty to felony assault with a firearm, endangering children and other charges, according to USA Today.

March 7, 2009

Southwest Airlines to being Minneapolis-St. Paul service

Southwest Airlines begins Minneapolis-St. Paul service Sunday, making this launch for the company the first in a new city since August 2007.

Southwest will fly eight daily round-trip flights from MSP to Chicago's Midway Airport, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

"There's very high fares on that route. And there's as many people flying between those two cities as we serve between Dallas and Houston, maybe more," Gary Kelly, Southwest's chairman told USA Today.

The competition that Southwest will give Northwest Airlines has already lowered fares to Chicago, which, with over a million passengers a year, is the heaviest-traveled air round out of the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Kelly told USA Today that the decision to move into the MSP market is not affiliated with the expected merger of Northwest Airlines and Delta.

Southwest is USA's leading discount airline and carries more domestic pasengers than any other airline, according to USA Today.

February 28, 2009

Media ban on photos of war dead lifted

The Pentagon lifted a long-standing prohibition against the press covering the returning war dead, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday.

The new legislation gives families the choice of allowing or prohibiting news organizations to photograph the caskets of their loved ones when they arrive at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base, MSNBC reported.

Photographic images have been banned since 1991, and the legislation was strictly enforced through George W. Bush’s administration. This prevented pictures of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan from appearing in the news.

“My conclusion was, we should not presume to make the decision for the families. We should actually let them make it,” Gates told Los Angeles Times.

Gates has assigned a group of Pentagon officials to work out the details, including the concerns the families have put forth, including what services will be provided for families who want to be present for the return.

“If they are going to open it up to families, do they have the capability of assisting those families?” Joyce Raezer, the executive director of the National Military Family Assn., told Los Angeles Times. “There are lots of unanswered questions.”

This issue had been revisited last year and determined to stay the same. It was revisited only after President Barack Obama said he wanted to revisit it, and Gates launched a new review, MSNBC reported.

“People were all trying to do what was right by the families,” Gates told Los Angeles Times. “It just seemed to me that we ought to let the families make that decision.”

February 22, 2009

Police arrest grandmother in death of 4-year-old

The New York Police Department arrested the grandmother of a 4-year-old on Sunday in connection with the child's death, The New York Times reported.

Police found 4-year-old Kevion Shand unconscious and unresponsive in the apartment of his grandmother, Angela Barksdale. Shand was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Fox News.

Shand died of blunt impact injuries and brain hemorrhaging, according to the Medical Examiner's office and repoted by The New York Times.

Barksdale has been charged with second degree murder, police said and The New York Times reported.

Police received a 911 call from a woman, believed to be Barksdale, at about 6 p.m. Saturday. Once they arrived on scene, they found Shand dead and an 18-month-old boy, believed to be another grandson, unharmed in the apartment.

Barksdale is expected to be arraigned Sunday night or Monday morning. The New York Times

February 12, 2009

Parents lose autism case

A special court ruled Thursday against three families’ case that vaccines may have triggered autism in their children.

The Cedillo, Hazelhurst and Snyder families wanted compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program on the basis that their children did not show autistic symptoms until after they received two vaccines, according to CNN.

A panel of three “special masters? ruled that the parents did not have enough evidence to support their claims.

The case began in 2007 on the basis that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in combination with vaccines with thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury, triggered autism, according to Reuters.

After ruling, Special Master George L. Hastings Jr. wrote that he felt sympathy for the Cedillo family, especially for their daughter, Michelle, but that there was not enough evidence to rule in their favor.

“I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence,? Hastings wrote, according to CNN. “In this case the evidence advanced by the petitioners has fallen far short of demonstrating such a link.?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying it continues to support research to learn more about autistic disorders and that no medical nor scientific community has found anything linking vaccines and autism. CNN

February 8, 2009

Three found dead in murder-suicide

Two men and one woman died in an apparent murder-suicide at an apartment in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Saturday.

Miguel Ruiz, 55, reported as a jealous lover by New York Daily News, went into Debra Silvers apartment and shot her and her boyfriend, Daniel Tedlie, 57.

Silvers was shot once in the head and once in the torso while Tedlie was shot once in the torso, Fox News reported.

Ruiz was found sitting in a chair with a 9-mm. handgun in his lap and gunshot wound to the side of his head, New York Daily News reported.

Neighbors told the New York Daily News that they heard loud noises inside the eighth floor apartment around 8 p.m. Friday.

Silvers was cooking dinner for Tedlie when Ruiz arrived. Police reported that the oven was still on when they arrived.

February 6, 2009

Unemployment rate highest in 17 years

The U.S. economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, making the current unemployment the highest since 1992, the Washington Post reported.

Jobs have been cut at a pace of 500,000 per month for the last three months, and economists do not expect the economy to begin bouncing back until July at the earliest, The New York Times reported.

There has also been a decline in job hunters, which is yet another signal of economic weakness. Currently 11.6 million people are out of work. The Washington Post

President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass the economic stimulus package as this news hit.

“The situation could not be more serious. These numbers demand action,? Obama said. “It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction and delay and politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work. It is time for Congress to act.?

Last month was the largest one month job loss since December of 1974. Washington Post

Tainted peanut products sent to schools

Schools in three states received potentially contaminated peanut products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday.

California, Idaho and Minnesota schools were sent roasted peanuts and peanut butter that may have been contaminated with salmonella from the beginning of 2007 to the end of 2008, according to CNN.

The Peanut Corporation of America produced and sent 32 truckloads of peanut products to the schools even after tests results for traces of salmonella bacteria came back positive 12 times, The New York Times reported.

The Agriculture Department, which provides 20 percent of the total amount of food served in schools, bought the products from PCA.

Christine Dufour, spokeswoman for Minnesota, told The New York Times that 197 schools in the state had been sent the peanuts from PCA. Any products still on shelves are being removed, tested and destroyed.

After discovering tainted products from PCA, the U.S. government recalled peanut products dating back to July 1, 2008, and recently expanded that until Jan. 1, 2008. PCA has been suspended for at least one year.

Contaminated peanut products have been linked to 500 illnesses nationwide and eight deaths, CNN reported.

February 1, 2009

Man threatens Obama, Mall of America

A 20-year-old Colorado man surrendered after being indicted of threatening to kill President Obama and blowing up the Mall of America through e-mails, Thursday.

Timothy Ryan Gutierrez of Cortez, Colo. sent an e-mail to the FBI writing “I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening,? according to StarTribune.

Another e-mail was sent regarding the Mall of America in which Gutierrez wrote “I have rigged 40 pounds of C4, He and my favorite, TNT, to 7 cars outside the Mall of America,? according to Fox 9.

The FBI investigated the threats immediately and Gutierrez was held without bail at FBI’s office in Durango. (StarTribune)

Gutierrez is charged with one count each of “transmission in interstate commerce of threats? and “transmission of threats in interstate commerce to use explosives,? according to Fox 9.