December 17, 2008

Police investigate murder in St. Louis Park

A woman went to a St. Louis Park apartment on Tuesday night and told her family to call the police if she did not contact them within an hour, The Star Tribune reported.

When the family did not get a call, they phoned the police.

Police arrived at Lynn Plaza apartments around 9 pm to find the 44-year-old woman shot and that the man living in the unit had fled.

The woman had gone to the apartment to end a relationship and return some of the man's belongings.

Medical examiners removed the body around 2 a.m. Wednesday, The Pioneer Press reported.

St. Louis Park police and the Hennepin County sherrif's office are investigating.

Case closed on the murder of Adam Walsh

The murderer of 6-year-old Adam Walsh was confirmed as Otis E. Toole at a press conference on Tuesday, The Washington Post reported. ">The New York Times reported.

Adam Walsh, the son of John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," was abducted from a shopping mall on July 27, 1981. His decapitated head was found in Vero Beach two weeks later, but his body was never found.

Toole was the main suspect in the investigation that began 27 years ago, but they did not have enough DNA proof to connect him to the murder, The Washington Post reported.

Toole twice confessed to killing Walsh, but later retracted his statements. He also confessed to dozens of murders that turned out to be not done by him.

Toole died in prison while serving five life sentences of murders other than that of Adam Walsh.

Shoe thrower becomes hero in Iraq

After throwing a shoe at President Bush during a press conference, Muntadar al-Zaidi has transformed into a celebrity in Iraq, The Washington Post reported.

Zaidi, a reporter in Iraq, was upset with President Bush and his foreign policy since the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. He once told an editor that he hoped to meet Bush and "hit him with my shoes."

People in the Middle East showed their admiration for Zaidi in chatrooms and cafes, joking about the incident.

Not everybody is as thrilled with Zaidi's actions.

Zaidi is scheduled to appear before a judge on Wednesday, the first step in a potential criminal prosecution against him, The New York Times reported.

The United States is leaving all prosecution to the Iraqi government. Under Iraqi law, Zaidi could face up to seven years in prison for initiating an aggressive act against a head of a foreign state on an official visit.

December 9, 2008

Minnesota students among the top in the world in math scores

Minnesota students scored better than their counterparts around the globe in math scores, yet failed to make significant improvements in science, The Pioneer Press reported.

According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Minnesota's students are performing significantly higher than other areas, The Star Tribune reported.

Minnesota and Massachusetts are the only states in the United States that participate in the study as their own entities in order to be compared with other countries.

The highest competition comes from Asia, where Singapore leads the world in science and Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei lead in math.

This study does not tell the whole story, however.

State test results released in August showed that only four out of ten students can be labeled "proficient" in science and only one third of high school juniors are able to pass a math proficiency test.

Factory workers refuse to leave building

Workers at a window-making plant in Chicago made plans to spend the fourth night in their now closed factory on Monday, despite orders to leave by officials, The New York Times reported.

The sit-in began after250 workers at Republic Windows and Doors were told their company was being shut down without the proper 60 day notice and no promise of the pay they were owed.

Workers say they blame officials for giving them only three days notice that their factory was closing.

The company’s statement said it had been placed, “in the impossible position of not having the ability to further reduce fixed costs, coupled with severe constrictions in the capital debt markets and an unwillingness of the current debt holder to continue funding the operations.?

Workers were also angered by the fact that company officials did not show up to a meeting scheduled by Rep Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.) on Friday, The Washington Post reported.

Workers taking part in the sit-in are cleaning and fixing things within the factory while they are there.

Teen's funeral leads to riots in Greece

Thousands of protesters entered the streets of Greece on Tuesday after the funeral of a teen shot by a Greek police officer, The New York Times reported.

As the funeral of Alexandros Grigoropoulos, 15, ended and hundred of people began to leave the cemetery, groups of youth rioters turned violent, throwing gasoline bombs and rocks.

Greek youth and students have become more and more opposed to the current government, officials said.

"Everyone has let our children down ... Every day I see that students are becoming more hostile toward us and figures of authority," said Christos Kittas, who resigned as the dean of Athens University after the rioting spread to campuses, The Washington Post reported.

Opposition socialist leader George Papandreou called for early elections, citing that the current conservative government cannot handle the attacks and the crisis.

"The government cannot handle this crisis and has lost the trust of the Greek people," Papandreou said. "The best thing it can do is resign and let the people find a solution ... we will protect the public."

December 3, 2008

Thai government collapses

Thailand's government collapsed Tuesday when the nation's high court banned the prime minister from politics, dissolving three political parties in his ruling coalition, The Washington Post reported.

The charges against Somchai Wongsawat were of vote-buying and other election irregularities.

Due to the ruling, anti-government protesters declared an end to their weeklong blockade of Bangkok's airports, The Star Tribune reported.

Most demonstrations have been peaceful, but one Thai citizen was killed during an explosion at a protest.

Leaders of the disbanded People's Power Party said they would reconstruc the government under another name and hold on to power, although officials say it is unlikely.

89-year-old man dies in fire

Minneapolis recorded its 5th fire-related death of the year when an 89-year-old man died in his home early in the morning on Wednesday, The Star Tribune reported.

The victim called 911 at 1:20 a.m. to report that his house was on fire. Firefighters arrived at the home two minutes later, entered the home, and found the man unresponsive near the front door. He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and later pronounced dead, said Said Sean McKenna of the Minneapolis Police Department's arson squad.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but investigators suspect that it is linked to careless smoking, The Pioneer Press reported.

The victim's adult son saw him smoking a cigar on the porch, where the fire originated, three hours before the incident.

49 states fail in college affordability

All but one state failed an American higher education test of college affordability, The Star Tribune reported.

The biennial study, funded by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, evaluates how well higher education institutions are serving the publics. Grading on an A-F scale, the study handed out 49 Fs, passing only California, which received a C thanks to its relatively inexpensive community colleges.

The report published from the study shows that college tuition has increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, while median family income rose only 147 percent, The New York Times reported.

“The middle class has been financing [college] through debt,? said Patrick Callahan, president of the center. “The scenario has been that families that have a history of sending kids to college will do whatever if takes, even if that means a huge amount of debt.?

Even community colleges, long seen as the alternative to high-cost public and private 4-year universities have seen increase in tuition.

If college tuition increases continue the educational gap between generations will continue to grow.

"We’re really going to be in jeopardy, because the educational gap between our work force and the rest of the world will make it very hard to be competitive," Callahan said. "Already, we’re one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers.

November 28, 2008

Fire in Isle, Minn. prompts evacuation

A fire at a manufacturing plant lead to the evacuation of the surrounding neighborhood, The Pioneer Press reported.

The Star Tribune reported that that the fire, which started at about 5 am on Friday morning, began in the Merit Enterprises building.

Residents were evacuated because authorities feared toxic chemicals could be released by fire, but all residents were allowed to return to their homes by noon on Friday.

The fire is under control, the dispatcher said.

13-year-old girl and her father killed in Mumbai

Two Americans were killed in Mumbai while on a meditation retreat with a Virginia ashram, The New York Times reported.

Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi Scherr, 13, were having dinner in a hotel cafe when gunmen arrived. Most of the group of 25 people visiting India with the ashram were in their hotel rooms while the hotel was under siege.

The Washington Post reported that Alan Scherr committed his life to meditation and spirituality and moved his family to Faber, Va., to join the Synchronicity spiritual community.

Alan Scherr wrote in 1994 that he and his wife joined the community to live a holistic life that incorporates high-tech meditation.

Woman convicted MySpace misidentification that lead to a teen's suicide

A Missouri woman who posed as a 16-year-old boy and lead to the suicide of a teenage girl was found guilty of three misdemeanor charges on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Lori Drew, 49, of O'Fallon, Mo., posed as the boy to try and woo Megan Meier, 13, who was once a friend of her daughter, The New York Times reported.

In 2006 Drew sent Meier romantic messages while posing as a 16-year-old boy and then abruptly rejected Meier, leading to her suicide one hour after the message was read.

Prosecutors were unable to charge Drew with any counts of leading to the death, only with charges of misinterpreting herself on the internet based on MySpace's terms of service.

The defense argued that nobody reads the terms of service and that anonymity and being able to create other identities on the internet can at times be useful.

November 22, 2008

Attorney General Mukasey collapses during address in Washington

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey collapsed during an address in Washington on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Mukasey, 67, who was speaking at an annual Federalist Society gathering, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital and remained there overnight or observation.

People in attendance said that Mukasey's speech became slowed and it looked like he was getting choked up, the New York Times reported.

Mukasey is the third attorney general of the Bush administration, and was sworn in Nov. 9, 2007 after the resignation of Alberto R. Gonzales.

November 21, 2008

15-year-old boy shot in St. Paul

A 15-year-old by was killed in St. Paul when an AK-47 fired and shot him in the head, the Star Tribune reported.

Alfredo Gutierrez-Gonzales, 19, was on the front porch of the home of the boy, Jacob MacKenzie, a tenth grader, when the gun went off and shot MacKenzie in the head.

Gutierrez-Gonzales had been outside on the porch, where he often slept, getting a gun ready after hearing about a possible drive-by shooting, The Pioneer Press reported.

Gutierrez-Gonzales would not say where the gun came from. He has been charged before for sending threatening messages over MySpace saying he would shoot someone with an AK-47

November 18, 2008

NATO won't step in to save hijacked Saudi tanker

NATO does not plan to intercept the tanker hijacked by Saudi pirates near the coast of Kenya, reported the Washington Post.

The Saudi tanker, which was loaded with more than $100 million in crude oil, includes a 25-member crew, reported The Star Tribune.

Hijackings on the Cape of Good Hope have increased 70 percent in the last year, and this hijacking took place 1000 miles away from expected hijacking territory.

NATO has no mandate that says it must intercept crew members or hijacked ships, only that it may step in if they see the hijacking taking place.