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December 7, 2008

Family of trampled Wal-Mart employee file lawsuit

The family of a Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death on Black Friday filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday, The Pioneer Press reported.

The lawsuit clams that the store advertisements for discounts ""created an atmosphere of competition and anxiety" that led to "crowd craze."

The lawsuit also claims that the store failed to provide adequate security for the large crown of 2,000 and that Wal-Mart "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem and was otherwise careless, reckless and negligent."

The employee, Jdimytai Damour, 34, died of asphyxiation after being crushed early Friday morning by the crowd.

He was 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds. Authorities suspect that Damour was placed at the entrance of the store to help with crowd control because of his large size.

Police are reviewing store video to identify possible suspects in Damour's death, but authorities said that criminal charges are unlikely.

November 23, 2008

One dead and one injured in Southcenter Mall shooting

In a shooting inside the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, Wash., one person died and another was injured, Tukwila police spokesman Mike Murphy said, KIRO-TVl reported.

The mall was locked down Saturday night after the incident, which may be gang-related, took place. SWAT team members went inside the mall, searching for six hours for the gunman, Murphy said.

"Thousands" of shoppers were at the mall, Murphy said, when multiple shots were fired just before 3:45 p.m. inside the building

Eyewitness Chris Plummer said there was a fight between a group of 18- to 20-year-olds and one of them pulled out a gun and started shooting. Plummer said he was standing next to the shooter and six to seven shots were fired.

Two victims were transported to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition, said hospital spokesperson Susan Gregg-Hanson.

One man died in the shooting, and the other is in critical condition. No other people were injured, Murphy said.

The shooter, who police have described as a black male, has not been caught. Murphy said that there is a possibility the assailant "may have escaped" with the crowd, but he said police anticipated identifying the shooter "soon" and then making an arrest.

The shooter has not been caught. Murphy said he may have escaped with the crowd, but said police anticipated identifying the shooter soon and arresting him.

November 16, 2008

Obama election spurs race crimes around country

The number of race crimes around the country has increased since the election of Barack Obama, the Associated Press reported.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama highlight the racism that remains in America, the Associated Press states.

All across the country, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, including vandalism, threats, and at least one physical attack. The insults and crimes come from all ages.

"Hundreds" of incidents have occurred since the election, which is more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

In one incident, in Snellville, Ga., a boy on the school bus told Denene Millner's 9-year-old daughter the day after election: "I hope Obama gets assassinated." That night, someone ruined the Obama signs on her sister-in-law's front lawn and left two pizza boxes filled with himan feces outside the front door, Millner said.

"I can't say that every white person in Snellville is evil and anti-Obama and willing to desecrate my property because one or two idiots did it," said Millner, who is black. "But it definitely makes you look a little different at the people who you live with, and makes you wonder what they're capable of and what they're really thinking."

Grant Griffin, a 46-year-old white Georgia native, is upset with the election of Obama.

"I believe our nation is ruined and has been for several decades and the election of Obama is merely the culmination of the change," Griffin said.

California wildfires destroy homes and cause evacuations

Chaotic strong winds blew wildfires all over Southern California on Saturday, burning 500 mobile homes and forcing thousands of homeowners to flee, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The worst fire, the Sayre Fire, burned through Sylmar, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest near the San Gabriel Mountains, causing the evacuation of 10,000 people and shutting down major freeways.

By the end of the day, Freeway Fire in Orange and Riverside counties destroyed more homes as it burned out of control.

On Sunday, residents of Southern California were urged to leave their homes, despite calming winds that gave time for an aerial attack on the strong wildfires, the Associated Press reported.

Overall, fires burned in Los Angeles County, to the east in Riverside and Orange counties, and northwest in Santa Barbara County. More than 800 homes were destroyed by fires that have burned more than 34 square miles since Thursday.

"This has been a very tough few days for the people of Southern California," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said after touring damage.

The governor declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles.

No deaths have been reported, and by Sunday afternoon, no bodies had been found.

November 9, 2008

Uncounted ballots unlikely to reverse gay-marriage ban

With 2.7 million ballots still uncounted in Calif., Proposition 8, the statewide ban on gay marriage, is unlikely to be reversed with its lead of more than half a million votes, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Those 2.7 million ballots remained to be counted as of late Friday, according to the California secretary of state's office.

The estimate is from the state's 58 county registrars.

The complete list is available on the secretary of state's Web site.

Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least 1.7 million ballots remained outstanding. Since then, several counties have increased their estimates.

Te uncounted ballots are unlikely to reverse the ban because, as of Saturday morning, the secretary of state reported "5,661,583 votes in favor and 5,154,457 opposed, for a margin of just more than half a million votes."

In order to reverse that result, opponents would have to win more than 59% of the uncounted ballots. So far they have won only 47.6% of the vote, so it is unlikely the remaining uncounted ballots will be very different from those counted.

Protesters of anti-gay marriage ballot march in Calif.

About 10,000 people marched in San Diego and the same number in Los Angeles Saturday to protest passage of an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative, authorities said, the Associated Press reported on Yahoo! News.

Demonstrators began marching through San Diego at about noon, according to police Sgt. Diane Wendell. The event lasted about 90 minutes.

The march in Los Angeles began Saturday evening and lasted about four hours, according to police Sgt. Jake Bushy. Demonstrators marched down Sunset Boulevard carrying signs and waiving banners.

No arrests were made at either event.

The demonstrations were protesting Tuesday's passage of Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages and overturning the state Supreme Court decision that legalized such unions in May.

The two marches were the largest of several.

November 1, 2008

Shooter kills trick-or-treater, feared it was a robber

An ex-convict in Sumter, S.C. thought he was being robbed when he shot and killed a 12-year-old with nearly 30 rounds of an assault rifle after hearing a knock on the door, police said Saturday, the Associated Press reported through Yahoo! News.

Quentin Patrick, 22, was accused of killing T.J. Darrisaw on Friday night. T.J.'s 9-year-old brother, Ahmadre Darrisaw, and their father, Freddie Grinnell, were injured but were released after being treated at a hospital.

The family had attended a Halloween celebration in downtown Sumter, then stopped at Patrick's house because the porch light was on, police said. Another sibling was with them but was not injured.

Two of the boys were wearing masks for their costumes when they knocked on the door. The mother and toddler stayed in the car.

Patrick emptied his AK-47, shooting at least 29 times after hearing the knock, Police Chief Patty Patterson said.

T.J. suffered multiple wounds, including a fatal shot to his head, Patterson said.

"This is by far one of the worst tragedies that I have had to personally experience," Patterson said. "It happened basically because kids were out doing what they would normally do on Halloween."

Patrick has been charged with murder, three counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, and one count of assault with intent to kill, the Associated Press reported.

Obama didn't know that his aunt was living in the US illegally

Sen. Barack Obama said Saturday that he didn't know his aunt was living in the United States illegally, and says that normal procedure for the situation should be followed, the Associated Press reported through the Star Tribune.

Zeituni Onyango, sister of Obama's late father, is living in public housing in Boston, despite having been instructed to leave the country four years ago by an immigration judge.

A statement given to the AP by Obama's campaign said, "Senator Obama has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws be followed."

Mark Salter, an adviser to Republican John McCain's campaign, said he had no comment. "It's a family matter," Salter said.

Obama's campaign said it was returning the $260 that Onyango had contributed over several months because federal election law prohibits foreigners from making political donations.

Onyango, 56, is part of Obama's large paternal family. Many of his relatives he didn't know growing up.

Obama last heard from her about two years ago when she called saying she was in Boston, but he did not see her there, the campaign said.

October 25, 2008

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 12, 2008

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.

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.

October 5, 2008

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.

September 21, 2008

6 children in Ark. custody after raid on ministry

Six minors were placed in state custody after a raid Saturday on a ministry in Fouke, Ark. run by a man who may be part of a child porn business, The Associated Press reported.

WCCO and The Star Tribune also posted the story written by the AP reporter.

The children, who are 12-, 13-, and 14-year-old girls, will be held in state custody while investigators interview them.

Bill Sadler, state police spokesman, said he didn’t know how long the interviews would last. The courts will decide on the children’s status in regards to their separation from the property of the Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in rural Fouke.

“Investigators said their two-year probe into allegations of child pornography and abuse focused on convicted tax evader Tony Alamo and his ministry, described by its critics as a cult," The Associated Press reported.

The raid ended after midnight Saturday. Sadler said there are no plans to search the buildings again. No plans to search other ministry locations have been reported.

Helicopter crash leaves 2 dead

A helicopter crashed into a house in Kenosha, Wis. early Sunday, killing two people in the aircraft, and leaving five people in the house uninjured, The Associated Press reported.

The Star Tribune posted the same story.

The helicopter crashed around 5:30 a.m., Sgt. Eric Larsen said.

Gary Stielow, who lives nearby, said he heard the engine before the crash.

“It was sputtering. It was at full power, but it was sputtering real bad. Then you just heard a loud boom,? Stielow told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

He ran outside after he heard the crash. The family in the house had made it to safety, Stielow said. The two bodies from the helicopter were lying next to the engine, which was on fire.

The helicopter was a 2006 Robinson R-44 registered to Midwestern Air Services of Kenosha, Tony Molinaro, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, said.

The helicopter did not have a flight data recorder, Ed Malinowski, an air safety inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board said. A report on the crash will take about a week to complete.

September 14, 2008

2,000 rescued in Texas

Search teams saved nearly 2,000 people Sunday after Hurricane Ike passed through Houston, leaving millions without power, Reuters reported.

A weeklong curfew has been placed on the city, where floodwater and downed power lines cover the streets.

Many people had made it to safety by boarding buses, unaware of where they were going.

“I don't know what I'll be coming back to. I have nothing,? Arma Eaglin, 52, told Yahoo News through AP reporters. “I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.?

1,984 people were rescued. It was the largest search-and-rescue effort in Texas history, including “more than 50 helicopters, 1,500 searchers and teams from federal, state and local agencies,? Yahoo News reported.

After being rescued, evacuees were brought to shelters around the state, awaiting news of when they could return to their homes.