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October 27, 2008

Bodies of 3 women found

The bodies of three related women were found inside their Mounds View home Monday, and a man was arrested several hours later in Minneapolis in connection with the case, the Star Tribune reported.

A relative called the police around 12:30 p.m. after being unable to reach the women. Two of the bodies were found shortly after the police were called, and the third was found at about 8 p.m. Each body was discovered in a different room.

The crime scene took place at 5108 Sunnyside Road, and Mounds View Police Chief Mike Sommer described the scene inside as violent.

Monday evening, police were called to the 3000 block of 3rd St. N. on a report that a man was threatening to kill himself because he had committed a crime in another city, Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia said.

The man barricaded himself in a corner with a knife in hand, threatening to kill himself and hurt the officers. After a Taser was used on him, the suspect began to stab himself. Police again used the Taser and took the knife away.

The man was taken to North Memorial Medical Center for treatment of the self-inflicted stab wounds, Garcia said.

The names of the three victims and the suspect were not released, but property records show that three women, ages 75, 35, and 40, and a 26-year-old man, all related, lived at the house, the Star Tribune reported.

“It is believed that the suspect was an acquaintance of the victims,? Sommer said. “But the details of the relationships are unclear.?

Sommer would not say how the women died, whether any weapons were found at the scene or how long they had been dead.

UPDATE: The names of the suspect and three women were released. Johnny Lee Ellis, 38, is suspected of killing his girlfriend Angela Vigen, 40, her special needs sister Jennifer Vigen, 35, and their mother Jolyn Vigen, 75, the Star Tribune reported.

October 26, 2008

Proposed ethanol plant causes controversy

Plans to build the state's next ethanol plant have caused controversy in the small town of Eyota, where the plant would be built, the Star Tribune reported.

The 75-million gallon ethanol plant would be on the border of the southeastern Minnesota city of 1,900.

Opponents argue that the plant will increase traffic, worsen air and water quality and consume ground water of three rivers.

Proponents, however, say that it will create new jobs, benefit farmers and the area's economy and pose minimal environmental risks.

The issue will be discussed at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency citizens' board meeting Tuesday.

Eyota, Olmsted County, and the local watershed district will ask the agency to require a full environmental impact study for the plant, which the citizens' board has only required for an ethanol plant once before.

New U.S. tactics in Pakistan

Ground raids in Pakistan have decreased due to the U.S. backing away from using American commandos after complaints from the Pakistani government, the New York Times reported.

The U.S. is instead relying on a campaign of airstrikes by the Central Intelligence Agency against militants in the Pakistani mountains.

Attacks by remotely piloted Predator aircraft have increased in the past three months, American and Pakistani officials have said.

Relying on airstrikes alone, officials said, would decrease the ability of the U.S. to weaken Al Qaeda's grip in the tribal areas.

Advocates of the ground raids have argued that only through the raids can the U.S. successfully capture suspected operatives.

President Bush approved ground raids in July after months of debate and frustration over Pakistan's failure to carry out more counterterrorism operations, but the only known ground mission was a Special Operations raid on Sept. 3, during which two dozen people were killed, including some civilians. Officials said there has not been another commando operation since.

October 25, 2008

Lesbian minister ordained

Jodi Barry, am openly lesbian minister, was ordained Saturday at the Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.

The ordination will test a new policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church to avoid disciplining those who ordain openly gay people.

Although not the first lesbian to be ordained into a Lutheran ministry, supporters hope Barry's ordination will be a step toward greater acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Star Tribune reported.

Barry,41, has been a youth minister intern at Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis for a year, but the ceremony was conducted by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), a national network committed to full acceptance of gay and lesbian pastors in the Lutheran church.

ELCA's "refrain and restraint" policy instated in August 2007 is instructs leaders not to criticize individual congregations when they choose a gay or lesbian minister, despite the ELCA's position against gay clergy.

This ordination will be one of the first to test that policy.

The ordination is not recognized by the national church body and openly gay ministers are nto included on the church's national roster of pastors.

"Change comes slowly," Barry said before the afternoon service at this church on the University of Minnesota's East Bank. "It took a long time for Martin Luther. Our goal has always been not to start a new church, not to leave the ELCA. A lot of people are working for full inclusion. Of course I want that. It's frustrating, it's painful."

Barry said she left the Lutheran church for several years and tried other congregations, but returned to the ECLA in 2001, the Star Tribune reported.

"They weren't a good fit," she said. "The Lutheran church is my home. As a person of faith I have to hope for change, and to fight from within for it."

Driver dies in 35W crash

A driver died Saturday morning after crashing into construction barricades and then onto a closed ramp of Interstate 35W in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.

The crash occurred at 5:30 a.m.

The driver of a 1991 Buick Regal was heading south on the Stevens Avenue frontage road when the car went through barriers, the State Patrol said.

The Star Tribune report said the driver could not be identified as male or female, but according to the Pioneer Press, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office identified the driver as male.

UPDATE: The name of the driver was released Sunday by the Hennepin County medical examiner's office. His name was Jose Joel Guerra, also known as Jorge Sandoval, a 33-year-old resident of north Minneapolis.

Presidential candidates campaign in swing states

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama spent Saturday campaigning in western tossup states the New York Times reported.

Down in the polls, the campaign in the undecided states is crucial to McCain to help gain supporters and improve his chances at securing a win.

The candidates focused on Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, the New York Times reported.

Because of Obama's lead, the candidate has been able to focus more of his time in the Southwest.

McCain and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton each held rallies Saturday in New Mexico.

Obama returned to the campaign in New Mexico after visiting his ill grandmother in Hawaii for a day.

Both Clinton and Obama urged people to vote early so that they can volunteer on Election Day and get younger voters to the polls.

“We’re going to have to work, and struggle and fight for every single one of those 10 days to move our country in a new direction,? Obama said, speaking at a baseball stadium. “We cannot let up, and we won’t.?

October 19, 2008

Man accused of leaving 2 children home alone

A man in Minneapolis was charged Friday with child neglect for leaving two children home alone with an open oven, the Star Tribune reported.

Lawrence Edward Griffin, 36, approached a police car Thursday at about 1:15 a.m. and told officers that he had left a 14-month-old child at home, and that he had been gone for about 15 minutes.

Officers then drove him home, where they found the infant sleeping in a crib and a 4-year-old in a bunk bed.

According to police, Griffin had been away for about 45 minutes, and had been drinking.

October 12, 2008

Analysis: Event Coverage

The Star Tribune reported that the Beastie Boys will be performing at St. Paul's Roy Wilkins Auditorium on Nov. 1 for the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour.

The reporter uses the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour as the angle of the story. It allows the report to be more than simply a listing of the event coming up.

The reporter references the Vote For Change Tour that happened in 2004 to compare to the tour going on for the 2008 election.

The report also notes that the Get Out and Vote '08 Tour, like the Vote for Change Tour in 2004, supports the Democratic candidate.

The Beastie Boys are quoted twice to help emphasize that the goal of the tour is to remind people to vote.

Biden accuses McCain campaign of using personal attacks on Obama

Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden accused the McCain campaign Sunday at a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania of launching "unbecoming personal attacks" at Barack Obama, the Star Tribune reported.

At a sports arena packed with about 6,000 people, Biden said the attacks are an attempt to distract Americans from their economic woes and that John McCain's campaign is desperate to change the subject from the financial crisis.

"Every single false charge, every single baseless accusation is a simple attempt to get you to focus on something other than what's affecting your family and your country," Biden said.

Biden was joined on stage by former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The economic situation may have helped Obama move up in polls in Pennsylvania over the past few weeks. He now has a double-digit lead over McCain in the state.

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is scheduled to campaign in the city on Tuesday.

State senator Allan Spear dies

Allan H. Spear, a former state Senate president, died Saturday at age 71, the Star Tribune reported.

Spear, who became one of the first openly gay legislators in the country, died of complications following heart surgery on Thursday, Don Jorovsky, a longtime friend who used to work for Spear, said.

Spear was a member of the Minnesota DFL Party and resident of Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported. Elected in 1972, he was Senate president from 1993 to 2000 and was the first non-attorney to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. Spear retired in 2000.

Spear became one of only two openly gay legislators in the country after he announced that he was gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star newspaper in 1974.

Spear started working to amend Minnesota's Human Rights Act in the 1970s to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The legislation passed in 1993.

Spear is survived by his life partner, Junjiro Tsuji, and his brother, Richard Spear.

Plans for a memorial service are pending, the Star Tribune reported.

Student shot at party in Minneapolis

A senior from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis was shot and killed at his cousin's birthday party Saturday evening, KARE 11 News reported.

Jesse Mickelson, 18, died after being shot near the alley behind his home on 29th Avenue South, police said.

About twenty kids were outside, and Mickelson was playing football with some of them in the alley, Tina Rosebear, Mickelson's sister, said. Relatives said a car then pulled into the alley.

When Mickelson went to get the ball on a neighbor's driveway, a person in the passenger seat of the car opened fire, relatives said.

Mickelson died at the scene.

The suspect vehicle was described by police as a mid-90s model white Dodge Intrepid.

Police say it's too early to say whether the murder is gang-related, KARE 11 News reported.

Fire burns 2 homes

A fire burned 750 acres and destroyed two homes northeast of Los Angeles Sunday, forcing the evacuation of about 1,200 people, the Associated Press reported.

The fire, which started early Sunday, also burned a garage, several sheds and three motor homes, Ron Haralson, Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesman, said.

No one was seriously injured.

Water-dumping helicopters and planes helped firefighters control the fire.

About 450 homes were evacuated when it moved southeast toward city limits, Stanton Florea, U.S. Forest Service spokesman, said.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

European leaders to inject billions into banks

European leaders agreed Sunday to a plan that would put billions of euros into their banks in hopes of restoring a troubled financial system, The New York Times reported.

The European countries, led by France and Germany, promised to take equity stakes in distressed banks and guaranteed bank lending for periods of up to five years.

The plan “treats all the dimensions of the financial crisis,? President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said at a news conference.

The leaders of the 15 countries that use the euro did not name the price they would put into the plan, unlike Britain and the United States.

Individual countries are considering plans to give money to European banks.

Germany is considering a plan to inject up to 100 billion euros into its banks, according to a person briefed on the government’s work, The New York Times reported.

The 15 leaders want to work together and come to a collective response.

October 5, 2008

U.S. Senate candidates have 1st debate

In their first debate Sunday, U.S. Senate candidates Dean Barkley, Norm Coleman and Al Franken discussed the nation's financial crisis and more, the Star Tribune reported.

The debate, which took place before 850 people in a university gymnasium, was 90 minutes.

They repeated the ideas that have been shown in the recent television advertisements, with Republican Sen. Norm Coleman questioning Democrat Al Franken's temperament, and Franken linking Coleman to policies of an unpopular president, WCCO reported.

Coleman defended the $700 billion bailout plan, while Franken opposed it.

"This whole thing reminded me of the rush to war in Iraq," Franken said. "It was give us $700 billion right now and Secretary Paulson will take care of it."

Other topics debated included war policy, deficit spending, and energy.

The debate was the first of five over the next month.

The next debate is Saturday at Breck High School in Golden Valley.

Fernando Cabada wins Twin Cities Marathon

Fernando Cabada, 26, won the men's national marathon championship in St. Paul Sunday, the Pioneer Press reported.

The course, 26.2 miles long, runs from downtown Minneapolis to the state Capitol.

His finished in 2 hours, 16 minutes, 32 seconds, one minute and six seconds faster than the second place finisher, the Star Tribune reported.

Cabada, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., and lives in Boulder, Colo., won $25,000 for his first-place finish.

Cabada was raised by a single mother on welfare. Money has been tight for them, he said.

At the end of the marathon, Cabada started tearing up.

"I thought about my mom, my brother."

Olga Glok of Russia won the women's division with a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes, 38 seconds.

Bus crash kills 5

A bus rolled off the road in Williams, Calif. Sunday, killing 5 people and leaving at least 30 others injured, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

California Highway Patrol dispatcher Terry Troth said that the Greyhound bus ran off the road and rolled over. It was northbound on Lonestar Road, going from Sacramento to Colusa Casino Resort.

The victims were taken to local hospitals in the area. The extent of the injuries is unknown.

No other vehicles appear to have been involved in the crash, the Associated Press reported.