April 2010 Archives

15 killed in Bangkok protests

Fifteen people were killed in Bangkok Saturday during a protest. The protest contained clashes between anti-government protesters and Thai police and military forces, according to emergency officials.

The Erawan Emergency Center said of the fifteen killed, 11 were civilians and four were military. At least 486 people were injured, the center said.

CNN reported that the protesters, known as the "Red Shirts," displayed bodies of two people, who they said were killed by live rounds fired by the troops.

"The government is so bad," said Samran Wangngam, who said he was the father of one of the protesters killed. "Why are they so cruel? How can they do this to my son?"

A spokesmen for the Royal Thai Army, Col. Sansern Kawekamnerd, said in a news conference that the security forces fired real bullets only into the air to scare away protesters. Kawekamnerd said the demonstrators fired real bullets at the security forces and that many security officers were injured.

The protesters were rallying for weeks to demand new elections. They are seeking to oust Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who they say was not democratically elected.

Bloomington hotel, water park sold

A private equity firm has purchased the Radisson Hotel and Water Park of America in Bloomington for an undisclosed sum.

The Star Tribune reported that Wheelock Street Capital, a real estate private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn., said Friday that an affiliate bought the 403-room hotel and amusement park, but it didn't disclose the terms of the sale.

"We are delighted to be acquiring this high-quality asset next to the most visited mall in the country," the company said in its announcement Friday.

Head of the Wirth Cos. in Minneapolis, Jeffrey Wirth, said he's governed by a confidentiality agreement and can't discuss the purchase. Wirth Cos. developed the complex with its huge green tubes curling around the exterior.

Patrick Cambell, a partner of Wheelock, said in an interview that they plan on doing business as the as same as usual and they wouldn't be expecting any lay-offs. Campbell also said that minor improvements will be made to the facility.

Campbell said the property was "priced well," but wouldn't discuss the cost or even confirm who sold it.

Campbell said his company is focused on hospitality properties at the moment "where we think the best and highest opportunities are,'' as reported by the Star Tribune.

Bon Jovi visits Minneapolis shelter between shows

Rock star Jon Bon Jovi surprised a downtown Minneapolis shelter with a visit Thursday.

The Star tribune reported that Bon Jovi made a visit to People Serving People on 614 S. 3rd St. away from the cameras and spoke to reporters afterward referring to Larissa Thelmon, 28, a personal care assistant laid off just before Christmas.

Bon Jovi, who was between Xcel Center concerts on Wednesday and Thursday night, was on a fact-finding mission for the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which has worked to tackle homelessness by building affordable housing, establishing community kitchens and cleaning up vacant lots in blighted neighborhoods the Star Tribune reported.

The singer also recently visited a shelter for alcoholics in Seattle and toured Skid Row in Los Angeles. He spotted People Serving People on a previous tour in the Twin Cities and knew he wanted to go back.

The Star Tribune also reported that Mimi Box, executive director of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, who accompanied the rock star during Thursday's visit, said the foundation uses such stops to find out what has worked in some cities and can, in turn, be promoted elsewhere when awarding its grants.

Jim Minor, president of People Serving People, said Bon Jovi asked "a lot of good questions ... and knew what he was talking about." Asked whether the shelter might someday benefit from a grant, Minor added: "They haven't said a word. And we haven't said a word."

Ruling makes Iowa gay marriage destination

The state Supreme Court ruling legalized gay marriage which has created Iowa as a wedding destination.

As reported by the Star Tribune, that April 3, 2009, decision, followed about three weeks later by the issuing of marriage licenses, led to 1,783 same-sex weddings by year's end. Of those, 1,044 of the couples came from outside the state.

The ruling drew a couple from St. Paul, Minn., to board a bus with eight other gay couples last August and made a 250-mile drive to marry in a church in Des Moines.

"I felt relieved," said Olly Staneslow as reported to the Star Tribune. "We know it's not legal (in Minnesota) yet, but we've done everything we absolutely could."

Staneslow and Judith Weir were among 100 Minnesota same-sex couples who wed last year in Iowa, ranking the state second among those sending gay couples there to marry. Illinois topped the list at 172 the Star Tribune reported.

The Iowa Supreme Court's decision came in a case pushed by the gay-rights group Lambda Legal. The justices upheld an August 2007 decision that found a state law limiting marriage to a man and a woman violates constitutional equal-protection rights.

Census provides temporary employment

The Census provides temporary jobs that currently boost the job market for unemployed U.S. citizens.

As reported by the Associated Press, census workers make up one third of the jobs added to the market in March.

"Over the next two months, another 600,000 to 700,000 census jobs will be added, putting $10 to $25 an hour into the pockets of some desperate job seekers," the Associated Press reported.

Although these jobs only last through mid-July, they are still beneficial in providing income to families.

"It comes at a good time because you're transitioning from an economy that's slowly recovering to sustainable growth," said John Canally, an economist at Boston-based LPL Financial. "This is a good patchwork until then."

Overall, the census paychecks won't be a prominent staple to the economy.

"The government has set aside $7.8 billion to conduct the census. That pales compared with last year's stimulus package of $862 billion,'' the Associated Press reported.

Still, the jobs add some financial relief to people who are in dire need of any source of income.

"Census to the rescue," said 24-year-old Cierra Edwards of Toledo, Ohio. "I was so far behind. Rent started stacking up, bills, diapers."

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