January 2012 Archives

Minnesota couple found dead, along with their dog

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A Mounds View married couple and their dog were found dead in their home last Wednesday, according to CBS Minnesota.

Mark Schnor, 47, and Christine Schnor, 39, were found in their home with a single gunshot wound around 2:30 p.m. Police Chief Tom Kinney said a handgun was recovered at the scene, and it appears that Mark had shot Christine before shooting himself.

The Mounds View Police Department received a call from the mother of the woman who lived in the home, located at the 2900 block of County Road 10, who was concerned after lack of contact with the couple for several days, according to KARE11. She currently lives out of state.

Authorities also told KARE11 that there is no history of police calls to the house and that there is no evidence of a potential break-in.

Kinney confirmed that the dog was killed before the husband and wife took their own lives, reported CBS.

10-day-old baby suffers two black eyes

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A South St. Paul mom faces felony counts of child neglect and child endangerment after her 10-day-old son was brought to the emergency room, suffering two black eyes, according to Star Tribune.

30-year-old Jennifer Pickar had gone to the emergency room at a St. Paul hospital seeking treatment for tremors when a nurse noticed the baby boy's bruised condition, a criminal complaint featured in the Tribune article reported. Shortly after, the baby was taken to the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

"Multiple surgeries are anticipated to repair the fractures to [the baby's] orbits," the complaint said. "He will potentially experience significant deficits due to the magnitude of his injuries. Without medical intervention, [he] would likely have died."

Pickar claims that she had fallen asleep with her son the night before and does not recall doing anything that would have caused harm to her son, according to CBS Minnesota.

Later, she told police that she had a history of seizures and believes both her and the baby must have struck the metal crib next to her bed that evening. Investigators reported to CBS of bruises on Pickar's face and arm that were not visible during their previous questioning.

Pickar's only explanation to police as to why she slept in the same bed as her child given her history of seizures was that she was on a medication that she thought would lower her "seizure threshold."

The police reported to Star Tribune that Pickar's mother claims Pickar had notified her that her grandson was injured when she had a seizure and dropped him, as well as having rolled around in bed while suffering a seizure and hit the baby.

Teacher charged with lewd acts on 23 children

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A teacher in South L.A. who taught for 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School has been arrested and charged for lewd acts on 23 children, having allegedly tied them up, put cockroaches on their faces and possibly fed them semen, KTLA News reported.

Mark Berndt, 61, was taken into custody on Monday at his home in Torrence, Calif., after a yearlong investigation that started a year ago when 40 photographs of kids in a school classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered with tape, were discovered by a film processor, according to KTLA. These crimes are said by police to have occurred between 2008 and 2010, involving boys and girls between 7 and 10-years-old.

Investigators also recovered photos from Berndt's home, totaling 390 photos in all, some depicting students in the school environment with large cockroaches crawling on them, around their faces and mouths.

Some girls were photographed with a blue plastic spoon filled with clear/white liquid up to their mouths, KTLA reported.

Early investigations discovered "a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within" Berndt's classroom, LAPD Capt. Mike Parker said. Further investigations concluded that the DNA found on the spoon and container matched Berndt's DNA, which was obtained and tested by special victims bureau detectives, according to the L.A. Times.

Over 26 children have been identified in the total photos while approximately 10 children remain unidentified, police said.

L.A. Times also reported that Berndt was fired from his position at the school in March. He is being held on $2.3 million bail.

An Afghan woman is killed for not bearing a son

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An Afghan mother was strangled to death by her husband, upset that she had given birth to another daughter rather than a son, Time reported on Monday.

Provincial women's affair chief Nadira Ghya said that the 22-year-old mother, Estorai, was aware she was in danger because she had warned her family about the repeated threats on the grounds that she does bear another daughter.

According to Time, Estorai and her husband Sher Mohammad, 29, had one previous daughter before the newest female infant was born. However, CNN News reported in its lead that the Kunduz couple previously had two daughters; the third child, also female, was born three months ago. So the couple's specific number of daughters remains unclear.

Officials of both news organizations do not provide a family name for Estorai nor She Mohammad.

"On Saturday, the man, with the help of his mother, first beat the woman and then strangled her to death," Khanabad district police chief Sufi Habib said.

Kunduz police are currently searching for Mohammad, who had fled about the time a neighbor found Estorai dead in their house, said District Police Chief Sufi Habibullah. His mother, Wali Hazrata, was arrested and detained at the Kunduz city jail.

While Time does not mention Hazrata's name, both articles received similar statements of her saying that her son did not commit the crime and that her daughter-in-law had committed suicide. Police said they found no evidence of hanging from her wounds.

The news lead covering Disney's new facial hair policy for its employees as written by CBS News was minimal in terms of what elements of the story it covered.

It focused on the main idea that this is the first time in Disney history that its workers will be able to wear beards and goatees. The policy was merely implied.

The lead also didn't specify where specifically that this change will be taking place. Additionally, it didn't answer the question, 'Why?'

CBS News stuck to keeping its news lead general yet somewhat attention-grabbing by adding emphasis on the fact it was "the first time ever" that employees will be able to grow beards and goatees.

Van stolen in Minneapolis with child inside

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A van was stolen in Minneapolis Thursday morning with a child inside, according to KARE11.

The vehicle, known to be a white Ford Windstar, was stolen at about 7:55 a.m. while parked in front of a home near the 3100 block of 4th Avenue South, KARE11 reported. Minutes later, the child was dropped off a few blocks down.

According to Pioneer Press, the vehicle may be labeled as "Cedar Transport," in which such text may read on the side of the car. Additionally, Pioneer Press reported that the driver had gone inside to get another child for transport when the vehicle was taken.

However, there is a disagreement between these two news organizations reports. Pioneer Press reported that the child is 7-years-old, and KARE11 reported that their early reports suggested the child was a 9-year-old autistic boy (Pioneer Press didn't address the child's mental condition).

Both reports state that police are still in search of the thief and the vehicle itself.

Disney will now allow employees to have beards

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Other than the Seven Dwarves, employees (or 'cast members,' as they are called in the world of Disney) aren't allowed to grow a beard... But that's going to change on February 3, according to CBS News, for Disney workers in Florida and California.

Walt Disney wore a mustache, but up until 2000, mustaches weren't allowed on the faces of Disneyland's male employees, either. CBS News added, also, that these mustaches were allowed provided they were grown while on vacation and not at work.

It took a another decade for Disneyland park to accept goatees and beards, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"They are casting characters, rather than hiring employees," David Koenig, author of "Mouse Tales" and chronicler of Disney culture, told L.A. Times. Reasoning behind this new dress code policy, Koenig said, is because Disney wants "to stay tradition-based, and they also want to be current. What was clean-cut in the 1950s isn't quite the same today."

There is a particular "Disney Look," according to Walt Disney Co. spokeswoman Andrea Finger. Up until the 2000 dress code amendment allowing mustaches, male workers were expected to be fresh-shaven, just like Prince Charming. "While we're careful to maintain our heritage and the integrity of our brand," Finger said, "a recent review of our guidelines led to a decision that an update was appropriate at this time."

Disney's grooming requirements are tight; although beards and goatees are now allowed, they must be well-groomed and kept shorter than a quarter of an inch, L.A. Times reports.

However, soul patches are still unacceptable.

McDonald's plans to create 2,500 new jobs in the U.K.

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The world's largest restaurant chain is creating 2,500 new jobs in the United Kingdom in attempt to ease rising unemployment rates, Reuters wrote.

The company already operates about 1,200 restaurants across Britain and Ireland. This expansive territory serves 2.5 million customers a day, Reuters reported.

Bloomsberg Businessweek reported that McDonald's will increase employee numbers in the U.K. to 90,000. In the corporation's e-mail statement, it is estimated that more than half of these new jobs will go to people under the age of 25.

McDonald's told Reuters reporter, Paul Sandle, that about 30 percent of the positions will go to first-time workers, but it is unclear about how many jobs would be full-time.

McDonald's has a "great record in investing in the U.K. and providing excellent training, apprenticeships and opportunities," U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, as reported by Businessweek.

The Anoka-Hennepin school board's latest revision of a policy that handles class discussions on sexual orientation was considered an improvement by some who attended the meeting on Monday night, Star Tribune reported.

According to reporters, the new proposal is to replace the set neutrality policy known as the Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy.

The new policy, titled the "Respectful Learning Environment Policy," asks teachers to be neutral during class discussions of all "controversial issues." It particularly asks of the staff "to affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students regardless" of various factors, one of which being sexual orientation.

But, to many teachers, "the revision was confusing and vague," as reported by Pioneer Press.

Star Tribune reported that an earlier attempt at a new policy was introduced in December, around the time Eric Best, a Minnesota Daily columnist, wrote an article that reported a sixth teen suicide in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. This attempted policy was called the Controversial Topics Curriculum Policy; however, this was treated with criticism by some.

According to Pioneer Press, the previous policy was criticized that it seemed to label lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people as controversial. By dropping the word "controversial," helps to point out that "all students are to be affirmed and welcomed," said Rob Mavis, founder of the Anoka-Hennepin Gay Equity team.

Rachel Vahdat told Star Tribune that she fears students will be "bombarded" with gay propaganda if the neutrality policy is repealed. "This is an abuse of children under the camouflage of education."

Others, including Anoka High School senior, Rachel Hawley, thanked the board for the policy changes because it "looks a lot better; it sounds a lot more inclusive," Pioneer Press reported.

A vote on the new policy is scheduled to take place next month.

"Headless body in a topless bar" killer seeks parole

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A prison inmate, known for the tabloid headline "Headless body in a topless bar," seeks parole for the crime he committed in 1983.

The New York Post reported that Charles Dingle, 53, will have a videoconference hearing on Wednesday conducted from his home of 30 years, Wende Correctional Facility.

Dingle was 23-years-old when he was convicted of killing bar owner Herbert Cummings, taking four women hostage, raping one and ordering another to cut off Cummings' head to eliminate the bullet as evidence. Hours later, he released two of the women before he robbed a cab and drove around with the other two hostages along with Cummings' head in a box, The New York Post reported.

The Washington Post left out a crucial factor that is said to have implemented Dingle's bizarre rampage: he was high on cocaine and alcohol during these acts.

Dingle claims that he is not responsible for the crime. "Everything is not as it appears," he told The New York Post. However, he has been denied parole two times before.

After his convictions of rape, murder, kidnapping, and robbery charges, Dingle has been serving a 25-year-to-life term.

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