December 5, 2008

Caylee's Mom Won't Receive Death Penalty

CNN reported the death penalty will not be sought for a Florida woman convicted of killing her 3-year-old daughter, according to court documents filed Friday.
Prosecutors concluded that "It is not in the best interest of the people of the state of Florida to pursue the death penalty as a potential sentence," the document said.
"Therefore, the state of Florida will not be seeking the death penalty as to Casey Marie Anthony."
In a case that has received national attention, 22-year-old Anthony is charged with killing daughter Caylee Anthony. Arrested last month, she faces charges including first-degree murder in the disappearance of Caylee, who has been missing since June.
She could face up to a life sentence in prison.
Anthony did not tell her family that Caylee was missing until a month later. Cindy Anthony, Caylee's grandmother and Casey's mother, called the Orange County, Florida sheriff on July 15, saying that her daughter refused to tell her where Caylee was.
Anthony gave conflicting statements to police when questioned about Caylee's disappearance. Investigative reports and hundreds of documents released in the case revealed some to be false.
Anthony said she left Caylee with a baby sitter, but police who checked out her story found the address Anthony gave was that of an apartment that had been empty for weeks. The woman Anthony said was the baby sitter told police she did not know her.
In an early investigation, cadaver dogs found the scent of death in Anthony's car and her parents' backyard. Air quality tests conducted by the FBI also found evidence of human decomposition and chloroform in the trunk of Anthony's car.
A neighbor told police that Anthony had asked to borrow a shovel. An analysis of Anthony's computer found she had conducted Internet searches of missing children and had visited Web sites discussing chloroform, according to information released in the case.
A request from prosecutors for a gag order was denied last month by Florida 9th Circuit Judge Stan Strickland, who said he could not condone that continued media coverage of the trial would be a threat or that a gag order would even halt such heavy publicity.

December 4, 2008

Cruise ship strikes ice, stranded on Antarctic coast

CNN reported that a cruise ship with 122 people on board struc ice on the coast of Antarctica Thursday and was stranded, according to officials.
Mariano Memolli of the Argentina Antarctic Directorate told Argentina's TodoNoticias (TN) Television that passengers of the Ushuaia had been evacuated as a precaution by a naval boat and plane that were dispatched to the cruise ship.
Though the ship, carrying 89 passengers and 33 crew members, was losing fuel and taking on water, it was not in danger of sinking, Television C5N reported.
The ship's call for help was received by the naval base in Ushuaia, Argentina. The head of the base, Adm. Daniel Martin, said the passengers were "in a perfect state of health," and were waiting for nearby cruise ship Atlantic Dream to arrive, C5N said.
"The weather conditions are not the best" where the ship is, Martin said. "There are regular winds in the zone with violent gusts." But he said the ship is protected because it is in a strait, and the weather would not affect the arrival of the rescue plane.
Hailing from Panama, the Ushuaia was located approximately 186 miles southwest of Argentina's Marambio naval base in Antarctica.

December 3, 2008

Class ring found in bass fish 21 years after it was lost

The Associated Press reported via the Chicago Sun-Times that the blue-stoned class ring of a Texas man was found inside an 8-pound bass 21 years after the man lost it while fishing on Lake Sam Rayburn.
The ring was engraved with the man's name, Joe Richardson. The fisherman who discovered the tarnished ring inside his catch contacted Richardson on Nov. 28 in Buna, which is located about 100 miles northeast of Houston. The fisherman hero, who asked to remain anonymous, tracked Richardson down using the Internet.
“My first reaction was — you gotta be kidding,? Richardson said Wednesday.
Richardson, 41, said he lost the ring about two weeks after his 1987 graduation from Universal Technical Institute in Houston. His mother paid about $200 for it and was not happy it had gone missing.
Richardson said his career as a mechanic does not allow for the wearing of jewelry, so he tucked the undamaged ring away.
“I have not cleaned it,? he said. “I told my wife I don’t want to clean it.?

Pepper spray can breaks in University of Minnesota hospital

A woman's canister of pepper spray broke Friday in the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview entrance, flooding the area with its irritant, the Minnesota Daily reported.
According to a police report, Lynn Hawkins damaged the cap of her pepper spray when she pulled her keys from her purse. The canister then started spraying its contents into the room.
When Hawkins’ niece failed to fix the cap, the two threw the pepper spray into a hospital garbage and left, according to the report.
Minneapolis firefighters who arrived at the scene disposed of the pepper spray, ventilated the room and aided affected hospital-goers, the report said.
University Police Lt. Troy Buhta said the spray, which irritates eyes and causes coughing, could have been a serious issue if it had entered the hospital's ventilation system.
The best way to get rid of a broken pepper spray canister is to put it in a plastic bag and tie the top to stop the spray from spreading, Buhta said.

86-year-old man killed crossing Chaska highway

The Star Tribune reported than an 86-year-old Chaska man died Wednesday when he was struck and killed by an SUV as he was walking in the crosswalk of a busy highway on his way to daily mass.
Jerome Meuwissen was crossing Hwy. 41 at 2nd Street shortly after 7:15 a.m. when he was hit by the vehicle moving south, said police Sgt. Mike Duzan.
"He ... had made it three-fourths of the way and was enterinshortly after 7:15 a.m., g the fourth lane" when the SUV hit him, said Duzan, noting that other vehicles on the highway had stopped for Meuwissen.
Though the road was slippery at the time of the accident, Duzan said the weather was not a factor.
There are no stop signs at that intersection of Hwy. 41, but the crosswalk is marked with large white blocks, Duzan said. The law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Whether or not the driver, who pulled over after the crash, was or might be cited was not immediately available.
Meuwissen was on his way to Guardian Angels Catholic Church, whis is less than two blocks from where he was killed and a few blocks from his home, said the Rev. Paul Jarvis.
"He was a very faithful member of our parish and a very generous member of the church," Jarvis said.
Jarvis said the parish has been advocating for the installation of a traffic signal or some other action by the state that would make that intersection safer. The speed limit there is 30 miles per hour, but "very rarely does anyone go 30," he said. The speed limit there is "Traffic is going far in excess of that" on the four-lane highway.
Jarvis said older church members living on the east side of Hwy. 41, where Meuwissen lived, are often unable to walk to church because of the speeding traffic.
"My hope is that the silver lining of this tragedy is that ... something is done for people to understand that that is a crossing," he said.

November 23, 2008

Man who killed St. Paul teen turns himself in

The Star Tribune reported that as the family of Jacob MacKenzie, 15, could bury their son in peace after the man suspected of killing the boy turned himself in to St. Paul police on Thursday.
The boy's mother, Michelle Olson, said she has heard people say the shooting was an accident, but she is still unwilling to forgive the shooter, 19-year-old Alfredo Gutierrez-Gonzales.
"I have no remorse for him," Olson said. "I hate him for what he did -- accident or not."
Police spokesman Peter Panos said that Gutierrez-Gonzales came to police headquarters about 8:45 a.m. on Thursday and said admitted to being the man responsible for the early Sunday shooting in St. Paul's West Side.
Investigators did not offer any other details, Panos said.
Gutierrez-Gonzales turned himself in three days after Jayna Emerson, his girlfriend and the victim's cousin, made a tearful public plea for the suspect to surrender.
A visitation service for MacKenzie occurred on the day of the surrender, just hours before his parents received an award on his behalf from the alternative school he attended.
The award commemorated MacKenzie for his first time earning full credit for quarterly coursework at Guadalupe Alternative Programs, said associate director Jody Nelson. The ceremony was moved from Friday to Thursday to allow classmates to attend his funeral, which was held at 11 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 401 Concord St.
MacKenzie died on his family's porch after police responded to a call reporting shots fired. A semi-automatic rifle was found about six blocks away.
Olson said she hopes Gutierrez-Gonzales will be charged with murder, regardless of whether the shooting was accidental. She added that she was certain it was, for the simple reason that no one would have ever had cause to kill her son.

Speeding driver hits two Woodbury homes

The Star Tribune reported that a speeding driver missed his turn in Woodbury on Friday, knocking down a light pole and utility box and then plowing into two townhouses, police said.
Police were called around 1:25 a.m. when neighborhood residents heard a sound like an explosion in the 700 block of Markgrafs Lake Drive, said Sgt. Curt Zacharias.
Police said the driver was moving east on Tamarack Drive when the accident occurred. After hitting a utility box and light pole, the driver smashed through the garage door of one unit, clipped a car inside that garage and then continued through a wall, finally coming to rest in the kitchen of an adjoining unit.
People were inside both townhouses, but no one was hurt.
Zacharias said both units had damages that "will cost a whole lot of money" to fix.
An ambulance brought the driver, a 27-year-old man, to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
The man did not live in Woodbury, and police said they do not know why he was there.
They are investigating whether or not alcohol was a factor, Zacharias said.

November 22, 2008

Two Men Shot at Shopping Center Near Seattle

CNN reported that shootings at a mall in Tukwila, Washington on Saturday left two men in critical condition, authorities said.
The men were carried out of the Westfield Southcenter, located southeast of Seattle, on stretchers and placed in ambulances.
Two other people were also taken to hospitals after suffering minor injuries resulting from an evacuation of the shopping center.
Authorities said they had one good witness. The mall was shut down while police search for the gunman.
The men who were shot are believed to be in their 20s.
"They were close to each other when they were shot," said a spokesman at the scene.
Chris Plummer, who was visiting from Pennsylvania, told CNN affiliate KIRO that he was standing near the shooter when the man began shooting.
Plummer told KIRO that a group of 18- to 20-year-olds was fighting when one of them pulled out a gun and started shooting.
A woman who seemed to be to be going into labor and a man who sustained a neck injury during the evacuation were also taken to a hospital, the spokesman said.
Shoppers said the scene was chaotic as people hurried to leave.
"They grabbed their kids and ran out of there," a store manager said.

Beheadings in Guatemala Jail Fight

Officials said seven prisoners are dead, five of them beheaded, after a fight between rivial gangs in a Guatemalan prison, BBC News reported.
Reporters who witnessed the incident said they saw inmates at the Pavoncito prison, south of Guatemala City, showing off the heads of some of the dead prisoners.
The riot broke out after a group of gang members was transferred to Pavoncito from another prison.
Acts of violence occur frequently in Guatemala's overcrowded prisons.
It took five hours for prison guards and police to regain control of the prison.
The other two prisoners died at a hospital after suffering gunshot wounds, said Rudy Esquivel, spokesman for the Guatemalan prisons system.
"This is a dispute between prisoners belonging to different gangs, who bring their conflicts with them when they are locked up," he said.
Weapons are often easily accessible to iInmates in Guatemalan prisons, allowing members from rival gangs to continue their disputes behind bars.

College Student Gets Bear Bite Instead of hug

The Associated Press reported via CNN that a college student in Southern China who climbed into a panda bear's habitat on Friday in hopes of getting a hug was bitten by the bear instead, state media and a park employee said.
The park employe, who refused to give his name, said the student was visiting Qixing Park with classmates when he jumped over the 6.5-foot high fence around the panda's enclosure.
The park in Guilin, a popular tourist town in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, features a small zoo and a panda exhibit. It was almost empty when the student jumped the fence surrounding the panda, called Yang Yang, the employee said.
He said the student was bitten on the arms and legs. Park officials were notified when two foreign visitors who witnessed the attack ran to get help from two workers at a concession stand close by, the employee said.
The student was pale but coherent when medics came to take him away, he said.
"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Liu had surgery Friday evening and is in good condition, but will be in the hospital for several days, Xinhua said.
Yang Yang, who was flown to Guilin last year from Sichuan province, was behaving normally on Saturday and did not seem to be suffering from any psychological effects, the park employee said.
He said he was unsure whether the park would put up more signs or fences around the panda habitat.
"We cannot make it like a prison. We already have signs up warning people not to climb in," he said. "There are no fences along roads but people know not to cross if there are cars. This is basic knowledge."
Pandas have an image as gentle, lovable creatures, but they are still wild animals that will attack if they feel startled or threatened.
A panda at the Beijing Zoo tore chunks out of a teenager's legs last year after he jumped a barrier when the bear was being fed.
The same panda bit a drunk tourist in 2006 when the man broke into the bear's habitat and tried to hug him while he was sleeping. The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back.

November 16, 2008

Diversity

The Minnesota Daily, The Star Tribune, The New York Times and CNN all have stories about the simultaneous same-sex marriage rallies that occurred nationwide on Saturday in protest of Proposition 8. Although these stories are not directly about the homosexual population, the nature of the protests definitely deals with this diverse group. The story does not address stereotypes at all, focusing on the issues that demonstrators were protesting and not the diversity of the demonstrators themselves. It is interesting that this story addresses one of the greatest issues facing same-sex couples today without actually discussing in detail the demographics of the population. Since I photographed the rally that occurred in Minneapolis, I already had a fair understanding of most of the things covered in the article, but it was informative for me to see CNN's national perspective on both the rallies and the issues at hand.

The following is one particularly pertinent quote from the story in regards to diversity: "'It's incredibly inspiring to see people from every walk of life, background, race, religion, creed, gathering here today to really send a powerful and purposeful and peaceful statement to the world,' Jonathan Weber, who helped organize the event, said in Los Angeles."

This focuses on the whole picture of those protesting and not just those who are most influenced by Proposition 8. By including such a quote, the reporter does almost the exact opposite of stereotyping - he highlights the internal diversity of a diverse group. The reporter also includes quotes and arguments from the other side of the issue, which helps steer the story away from being too one-sided.

Gas Price Down for Two Straight Months

CNN reported that $2 gas is quickly becoming the new $4 gas.
The economic crisis has caused the demand for oil and gas to decrease. As a result, gas prices have dropped - and are still dropping.
Sunday marked the 60th consecutive day of falling gas prices.
According to a survey released Sunday by the American Automobile Association, the national average price per gallon of gasoline has fallen 2 cents to $2.105 a gallon.
Gas hit an all-time high of $4.114 on July 17. Gas prices now are almost half that, and AAA figures say that gas prices have not been this low in two years.
At the high end of the spectrum, drivers in Hawaii are paying an average of $3.049 per gallon, and Alaskans are paying $3.181.
The average price has dropped below $2 in 16 states. With its average of $1.816 per gallon, Missouri has the cheapest gas in the nation.
The decline in gas prices is following the continually collapsing price of crude oil. Crude prices, which make up about half of gasoline prices, have fallen over 60% since they hit a record price of $147.27 per barrel on July 11.
Crude oil for December delivery fell $1.20, settling Friday at $57.04 per barrel.

St. Paul Youth Shot to Death

The Star Tribune reported that a young St. Paul male is dead after an early morning shooting in west St. Paul, police say.
Peter T. Panos, public information coordinator of the St. Paul police, said in a statement that police were called to the 500 block of Concord St. at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday after a report of shots fired.
Panos said police found the victim was on the floor with a gunshot wound when they arrived.
The St. Paul Fire Department paramedics could not revive him, and he died at the scene.
Panos also said the victim was a resident of the home where he was found. He is not being identified until family members are notified.
Police have not arrested anyone. The case is being investigated by the Homicide and Gang Units.

Girl's Heroic Swastika Story Ruled a Lie

reported that a German girl was found guilty of inventing the story that she protected an immigrant child from neo-Nazis, a deed for which she received a "civic courage" award.
The court concluded that the 18-year-old, named Rebecca K, carved a swastika into her own thigh, refuting her claim that the neo-Nazis had done it.
A Berlin association campaigning against far-right violence gave her the award in February.
The girl said four men had attacked her in the town of Mittweida last November.
The court in Hainichen, eastern Germany, ordered her in its ruling on Friday to complete 40 hours of community service.
Doctors who examined her said the swastika wound was a self-inflicted one.
When she made her claim to police, she was 17 years old, a minor. She told them four neo-Nazis had thrown her to the ground and carved the swastika in her skin when she went to help an immigrant child.
A German media report said investigators did not find any witnesses to support her story.
Headlines across Germany featured her story at the time, inciting intense soul-searching about neo-Nazi violence across Germany.

4 Dead, 19 Missing in Kashmir Bridge Collapse

The Associated Press reported via the New York Times that four workers constructing a bridge over the Himalayan river in Indian controlled Kashmir were killed Sunday when the bridge collapsed, an accident that also left 19 others missing and feared dead, police say.
B. Srinivas, a senior police official, said that rescuers were searching the banks of the river for bodies or more survivors.
The situation occurred outside of a town called Uri, which is located 62 miles west of Srinagar, the region's main city.The bridge is close to the de facto border between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the Himalayan region.
Some workers may have been carried down the river into Pakistan, Srinivas said. Pakistan's army has been asked to aid in rescue efforts.
Srinivas said the cause of the collapse was still unknown. Construction accidents happen often in India, where low-end materials are used and safety precautions are not often implemented.