May 6, 2007

Clemens a Yankee Once Again

Roger Clemens, the flame-throwing pitcher who has been in retirement since the end of last season, announced Sunday that he will play for the New York Yankees, a team he played for from 1998 to 2003. Clemens will likely join the roster in three to four weeks and will be paid $28 million dollars for a one-year contract, the AP reported.

The Yankees have struggled so far this season, starting 14-15, 5 1/2 games behind the rival Boston Red Sox. One of the main reasons that the Yankees have struggled is their pitching. They have used 10 starters so far, a record for the first 30 games. Injuries have played a role, taking out key starters Mike Mussina, Carl Pavano, and Chien Ming Wang.

"The Rocket" will join the team with the eighth most wins all time, 348, and the second most strikeouts, 4,604. Clemens made his announcement at Yankee Stadium during their game against Seattle as the crowd chanted his name.

"It feels like coming back home," Clemens said. "You feel like you're welcomed and you know what it's all about."

As for the Yankees rivals, the first-place Red Sox did not seem overly concerned.

When asked by CBS Sportsline about the Yankees signing Clemens, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz had this to say:

"Who?"

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said he liked the roster his team had and that changes weren't needed.

"It would have been nice to have him, but we didn't need him. We DON'T need him," Schilling said.

High Winds Take Out Power Lines

Wind gusts that reached up to 40 miles per hour knocked down trees and power lines across the Twin Cities on Sunday morning, reported the Star Tribune. The downed power lines have left thousands of local residents without power.

Excel Energy reported these numbers at 1 p.m. : 1,700 outages in Savage, 1,800 in St.Louis Park, 900 in South St.Paul, and 800 in Minneapolis. Law enforcement officials have reported no severe of widespread damage, however, according to the Star Tribune.

The winds also caused severe fire weather conditions across west central Wisconsin, reported the Star Tribune. Incoming storms later today should help improve the situation there.

Excel Energy notified me over the phone that they had an unusually large amount of emergency calls this afternoon. The power at my apartment building at 1100 Como Ave. went out at around 11 a.m. I was informed that I will have power by noon on Monday. Until then, my blogging will have to be done at the local coffeeshop with free wireless.

Body Found; Believed to be of Missing Little Falls Man

Police found a body Saturday in Foley, Minn. that is believed to be that of a missing Little Falls man. Lewis Wilczek, 21, went missing on April 29,according to both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press. Wilczek was headed to meet someone in St. Cloud when he disappeared, the local sources reported.

Wilczek's mother, Sharon, said that police notified her that the case had switched from a missing-person search to a homicide case, according to the sources. Police have said that the investigation remains open.

Wilczek's red pickup truck was found Wednesday, reported the sources. A who was driving the truck and claiming to be Wilczek was arrested. The man, who's name has been withheld, was brought to Stearns County jail for allegedly providing false information to police and outstanding warrants. His role in the case has not been determined, according to the police.

May 5, 2007

No High-Profile Names Released as Clients of D.C. Prostitution Ring

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a 51-year-old Washington, D.C. woman accused of running a prostitution ring, did not reveal any big name clients during a Friday TV interview. Palfrey appeared on ABC's "20/20" and claimed she was running a legal escort service.

No links could be made between records that Palfrey provided and any members of Congress or The White House, the AP reported. However, some of the records did link to prominent businessmen, NASA officials, and millitary officers, although these names were not released.

ABC decided to take what they called a "conservative" approach, according to a New York Times report.

“Our decision at the end was not to name any names,? said Brian Ross, the news correspondent who presented the segment. “Based on our reporting it turned out not to be as newsworthy as we thought in terms of the names.?

Kenyan Jet Crashes;114 People Missing

A Kenyan Airways jet carrying 114 passengers crashed in southern Cameroon Saturday, according to multiple sources. People in nearby villages reported hearing a loud boom, according to the AP. The jet was headed for Nairobi at the time of its crash.

The plane crash occured in a heavily forrested area, which has made the search for survivors difficult. The AP reported that search planes have been flying over the area, but no wreckage has been found and no survivors have been spotted.

Weather may have played a part in the crash, as the plane departed in torrential downpour, according to Reuters. A local government official told Reuters that a plan is in place to locate any survivors.

"The crisis committee ... has decided to set up several teams made up of villagers to continue the search throughout the night," Placide Ndobo said.

It is still to early to determine the exact cause of crash.

"We need to get information from the technical experts as to whether it was occasioned by the weather or pilot error or mechanical fault,? Ali Chirau Makwere, Kenya's transportation minister, told the AP.

April 29, 2007

Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?

A summit held at the University of Chicago Saturday addressed the implications of hip-hop music and women--apparently as a reaction to the Don Imus backlash. More than 400 people attended the presentation, according to the AP.

Don Imus, who lost his radio job for deflammatory remarks made about the Rutgers women's basketball team, said that rappers often said worse things then he did. This lead to some discussion in the music-industry, but too little action, according to some panelists at the convention.

Since Imus' firing, this topic has recieved much more public awareness and debate, according to the AP.

"Sexism is too convenient within the black community for black men," said David Ikard, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee.

An editorial in the New York Daily News applauded the rap industry for finally realizing that they had to "elevate the cultural tone and messages of their music". The author said that this was the "right track" for the music industry.

Highway 36 Closing to Challenge Commuters, Car Show

Highway 36 will be closed between Maplewood and North St.Paul beginning Tuesday. This will be the first time the Minnesota Department of Transportation is completely closing a metro commuting route for a construction project, according to the Star Tribune. The idea behind this is to save time and money on the project.

Expect commuting to be difficult for a while as commuters scramble to find good alternate routes. An estimated 40,000 drivers will have their routes alterted, according to the Star Tribune.

"I'm kinda just waiting to see what happens," said Bruce Mike, a resident of North St.Paul who will be forced to plot out an alternate route.

The highway closure may also impact a long-running classic car show. The History Cruzers, a group of around 800 classic car owners, may have trouble holding their show with the highway closed, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Cruzers normally hold their show every Friday evening, but concerns have arisen about possible congestion on Seventh Avenue in North St.Paul as a result of not being able to use the highway. City officials are concerned that congestion of city streets may prevent emergency vehicles from getting around.

Members of the Cruzers have asked the North Saint Paul City Council to approve the show at their May 15 meeting. They hope traffic studies show that congestion fears are unfounded.

Vikings Load up on Offense at 2007 NFL Draft

The Vikings addressed their biggest need--offense--on Saturday and Sunday at the NFL Draft. Their first selction, the seventh overall, was star running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma. They also took three wide receivers, a quarterback, and three defensive players.

Peterson had an amazing freshmen season in 2004, when he finished second in Heisman trophy balloting. Since then, he has been mildly hampered by injuries but still impressed NFL scouts. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman talked to the Pioneer Press about the pick.

"Adrian Peterson was the highest-ranked player (left) on our board. That was our guy."

The main area of concern for the Vikings, though, was the wide reciever position. The team released veterans Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor early this offseason, leaving them with little left at that spot. The three new receivers, Sidney Rice, Aundrae Allison, and Chandler Williams, should all get a chance to contribute.

Head Coach Brad Childress appeared pleased by the picks, reported the Star Tribune. Although he rarely gets overly excited, the coach was not able to hide a smile.

"They're good football players," Childress said. "They've got good numbers. They're good people and they have a chance to help us."

California Convention Attracts Democratic Front-Runners

Top Democratic presidential candiates visited California Saturday and Sunday to attend the annual state party convention. With their primary moved up to next February 5, candiates like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, and John Edwards wanted to make a good impression right away in the state with the most electoral votes.

The AP reported that Obama and Clinton took the stage on Saturday. Obama took the time to criticize Clinton for voting in favor of the Iraqi invasion, according to Newsday. Clinton saved her criticism for the Bush administration, repeatedly saying how poorly they have done since 2000.

Richardson and Edwards were the big names to speek on Sunday, according to the AP. Edwards talked to the press about the significance of California.

"California will now play a huge role in who the Democratic nominee for president is," Edwards said. "It's clear in the last two days ... that Democratic candidates are going to take it very seriously."

Richardson is trying to become the first Hispanic president. He addressed the crowd with a line made famous by Cesar Chavez, legendary founder of the state's farmworkers union.

"Si se puede!" — Yes, it can be done!

Food Safety Inspectors Head to China to Investigate Melamine.

Melamine, a chemical made from coal, has been reported as the deadly ingredient found in the pet food that has killed a number of pets in recent weeks. Officials in China said Sunday that the chemical has been secretely added to animal feed for years.

The general manger of a Chinese chemical company spoke to the International Herald Tribune about melamine. He said that melamine scraps are routinely bought by companies and added to their animal feeds. The chemical resembles protien in tests, so it adds some value to the food, although it has no nutritional value.

"I don't know if there's a regulation on it," said Ji Denghui of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company. " Probably not. No law or regulation says 'don't do it,' so everyone's doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren't they? If there's no accident, there won't be any regulation."

Melamine is not believed to be highly toxic, which makes it suprising that it became so lethal in pet foods. Still, the chemical's presence in any form of American food is illegal.

The Chicago Tribune reported that melamine has now spread to humans. Forty-five people in California reportedly consumed pork from hogs that had melamine added to their feed.

The effects of melamine on humans are not well known. It is belived that melamine is of little harm, but human consumption of the chemical has been rare enough that little effort has been made to study the effects.

"They've known about this for some time," said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), in reference to the FDA. "What did they do with it?"

April 22, 2007

Baldwin Erupts on Voicemail to Daughter

An angry voicemail left by actor Alec Baldwin, 49, on his 11-year-old daughter's phone was released by TMZ.com on Thursday. In the message, Baldwin cussed several times and ranted to his daughter about how mad he was that she didn't answer a scheduled phone call. He also repeatedly called her a "rude, thoughtless little pig".

On Friday, the actor apologized for his comments and expressed remorse that this was released by the media.

"Although I have been told by numerous people not to worry too much, as all parents lose their patience with their kids, I am most saddened that this was released to the media," Baldwin said on his Web site. "I'm sorry, as everyone who knows me is aware, for losing my temper with my child."

Baldwin and ex-wife Kim Basinger have been involved in a custody dispute over daughter Ireland since 2002. According to the AP, Baldwin's attorney filed a motion to deterrmine how the tape leaked. If Basinger's side had anything to do with the leak, then Basinger would have violated court orders to keep the proceedings closed.

Mike Cassidy, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, was highly critical of Baldwin in a Friday article, calling him the "thoughtless pig." Cassidy said that although pre-teen daughers (of which he has one) can be frustrating, they still must be treated with patience and love.

"Here's the thing, Alec: My daughter is 12 and I'm not. It's her job to at times be self-centered, irrepressible, relentless, stubborn, opinionated, independent. Same with your daughter. And it's your job to be her dad."

At Least 47 Killed in Somalia

A bloody battle between Islamic insurgents and Somali-supported Ethiopians killed at least 47 people on Sunday, according to the International Herald Tribune. The Pakistan Daily Times had the death count at a minimum of 51 killed. The fighting occured in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia.

The Islamic insurgents, some of whom may have ties to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, have been challenging the weak transitional government in Somalia. Since Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, Somalia has not had an effective government, according to the Herald Tribune.

Sunday's death count adds on to an ever-growing tally for the week. Both sources have the total death count near 215 casulties, with many more having been wounded during the fighting. Mogadishu has been ravaged, with buildings having been destroyed and dead bodies rotting in the streets.

Sudan Ali Ahmed, head of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Organization, has been outraged at the number of civillians being killed or wounded. 42 civillians were estimated to have been killed Sunday, while over 300,000 have fled Mogadishu since February, according to the Daily Times.

“Bodies are lying rotting in areas we cannot access. We are appealing to both sides to stop the fighting. This is unacceptable, the civilians are bearing the brunt,? Ahmed told the Daily Times. "This is a crime against humanity."

Navy Investigates Blue Angel Crash

Investigators began to look through wreckage Sunday to determine what caused Blue Angel pilot to crash a day earlier. Lt. Cmdr. Kevin J. Davis, 32, died when his plane crashed into a wooded area in Beufort, South Carolina, home of a Marine Corps Air Station.

The crash occured during the last of a series of manuvers on Saturday afternoon. Davis and the other pilots were to creat a delta-shaped formation, but Davis' jet did join the formation. The crash sent fiery debris through the air, injuring eight people on the ground and damaging several homes, according to the AP.

The AP also reported that, due to the pilots' extensive and elite training, crashes like this are rare: The last such one occured in 1999. Navy officials said that it could be at least three weeks until the cause of the crash is known.

The Boston Globe, with help from the AP, wrote a small obituary for Davis. Davis grew up in Pittsfield, Mass., and was fascinated by flight at a young age.

"He was fascinated with airplanes from the time he was little," said Betty Sweeney, a former neighbor.

Davis joined the Blue Angles in 2005, though this was his first year as a demonstration pilot. Davis graduated with honors in 1996 from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla and then entered officer candidate school at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

"Kevin was a highly motivated young man. He loved planes. He was a good student and a very conscientious young man," said Tom McGill, a friend of Davis' father.

Vikings Unveil Stadium Idea

The Vikings unveiled plans for a new downtown stadium Sunday that would be opened in 2012. However,unlike another current Metrodome tennant, the Twins, the Vikings idea is still just a dream, since it has yet to be approved by the state. The stadium would cost nearly $1 billion and would be situated where the Metrodome is now.

The Vikings current Metrodome lease expires in 2011, and team officials and city planners told the Pioneer Press that they are worried that the team will move without a new stadium. The proposed stadium would feature a retarctable roof, a climate-controlled interior, and a dramatic view of downtown. The design of the stadium would also incorporate the surrounding area, in an attempt to revitalize east downtown. New housing units would be built and the light rail would become a "Winter Garden", an enclosed transit system filled with new tourist destinations and lined with trees.

While the proposal looks amazing, the $954 million estmated price tag has raised more than a few eyebrows. Vikings owner Zygi Wilf told the Star Tribune that he would be willing to invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the stadium. Still, the failed stadium proposal in Blaine was only estmated at $670, so plenty of skepticism exists for the new downtown plan.

Teenager Shot and Killed on Metro Transit Bus

A 16-year-boy was shot and killed on a Route 74 bus early this morning in downtown St.Paul. The boy, whose name has been withheld, was apparently involved in a dispute between two groups of young people, according to the Star Tribune.

The shooting occured at around 12:15 a.m. when the bus came to a stop at 5th and Sibley streets. The Star Tribune reported that a gunman leaned in the back door and fired one shotgun round, hitting the victim in the chest. The suspect was described as a male between the ages of 16-18, standing between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall,and wearing a white T-shirt and dark, baggy pants. He fled the scene immediately. The victim died aboard the bus.

Police spokesmen Tom Walsh said that the investigation is ongoing. They hope to gain information from watching the bus's security tape. Among other things, Walsh said that they'd like to see if the suspect was riding on the bus earlier in the day.

The Pioneer Press reported that no other riders were hurt, although the police and Metro Transit have not said how many passengers were on the bus when the shooting occurred. The St.Paul Police have requested that anyone with helpful information should call them at (651) 291-1111.