July 28, 2007

FOUR DEAD in TV NEWS COPTER COLLISION

Four people died Friday after two TV news helicopters collided. The copters were covering a police pursuit in central Phoenix.

The man, identified as 23-year-old Christopher Jones, was then caught and arrested. He has a history of criminal acts.

The helicopters from KNXV (Channel 15) and KTVK (Channel 3) were covering the police pursuit of a work truck around noon today.

TV viewers did not witness the accident, because both stations had their cameras pointed towards the ground. One station reportedly switched back to the studio after the camera revealed that something was wrong as the copter began spinning and losing control.

Both helicopters went down in a park in central Phoenix and caught fire. No one on the ground was hurt.

TWO MEN MISSING IN THE "CITY UNDER THE CITY"

There is about 1400 miles of sewer underneath the city of St. Paul, which many consider to be a "city under the city".

On Thursday afternoon, water rushed into the sewer unexpectedly, which resulted in fast moving waters and an emergency situation.

Now, people are searching for the second of two missing workers in the Mississippi river. Crews found the body of one man, Dave Yasis, 23, Friday night.

"Everything (from the tunnel) goes to the river," Maczko said.

The search for Joe Harlow, 34, of Plainview, resumed before 7 a.m. Saturday. Harlow is a father of four from Plainview.

The two men worked for Lametti and Sons, of Hugo, Minn., and were working with five other men on a storm sewer when a severe thunderstorm hit the St. Paul area Thursday afternoon.

July 22, 2007

Religious Harassment at Swift and Company

Jama Mohamed was working at a Nebraska meatpacking plant in June, when he wished to pray. He was then harassed and told that his prayers were not welcome.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has drafted a complaint to federal officials that is awaiting the signatures of dozens of Muslim Somali workers who allege they were fired or harassed by supervisors at a Grand Island meatpacking plant for trying to pray at sunset.

At least 44 workers voluntarily quit, or were fired, due to this issue.

Swift and Company allegedly violated civil rights laws by not allowing the workers to pray at sundown.

Mohamed said it is important for Muslims to pray within scheduled times and not to postpone prayers or say them early.

"I would never forgive myself and God would not forgive me if I do not pray on time because I want to earn some money," he said.

45-year-old Blaine Woman Dead

This morning a 45-year-old woman was shot and killed inside her own home in Blaine.

Her husband, 47-year-old Gary Tomassoni, and 14-year-old son were the only other people home at the time. The son called 911 to report that a male intruder had shot the woman.

Police conducted a full search of the area, but later arrested the husband.


Nearly everyone at the Metro Gun Club in Blaine knew the victim, who worked there as a part-time cashier for the past couple of years.

"She pretty much brought the life here. I always enjoyed working with her," said employee Roxxi Kroschel.

July 18, 2007

DEADLY PLANE CRASH IN BRAZIL

A TAM airlines Airbus-320 was en route to Sao Paulo from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil on Tuesday when it skidded on the runway in Sao Paulo and crashed into a gas station.

Eyewitness Elias Rodrigues Jesus, a TAM worker, told The Associated Press he was walking near the site when he saw the jet explode in between a gas station and a Tam building.

"All of a sudden I heard a loud explosion, and the ground beneath my feet shook," Jesus said. "I looked up and I saw a huge ball of fire, and then I smelled the stench of kerosene and sulfur."

Officials say it's not likely that they will find any survivors.

All 186 aboard the flight died in the accident, along with at least three people on the ground. So far workers have recovered 117 badly charred bodies.

The runway that the plane took off on has been repeatedly criticized as dangerously short.

This crash was named the worst in Brazil's history.

FOUR GOPHERS KICKED OFF FOOTBALL TEAM

This story has been in and out of the news for quite some time now. Finally, after more than 3 months, there is closure in the case. The four U of M players being investigated in the rape case were kicked off the football team on Wednesday.

Dominic Jones, a cornerback charged Monday with third-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with the alleged rape of an 18-year-old woman in April, and three teammates -- running back E.J. Jones, defensive end Alex Daniels and defensive back Keith Massey were dismissed from the team Wednesday, coach Tim Brewster said.

Alex Daniels, one of the four dismissed from the team, allegedly used his cell phone to video tape Jones having sex with an 18 year old woman, who was said to be physically helpless after a night of binge drinking.

Investigators estimated the woman's blood-alcohol content was more than 0.30 when they say Daniels used his cell phone to film Jones having sex with the woman. Forensic scientists later recovered a portion of the deleted film from the phone and say they have DNA evidence linking Jones to the woman.

July 11, 2007

Chertoff's "Gut Feeling"

On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune that he had a "gut feeling" about a new period of increased risk.

Al Qaeda's apparent interest in summertime attacks and training along with earlier patterns of terrorists in Europe caused Chertoff to make this statement.

"The threat coming out of there is very real, even if there aren't a lot of specifics attached to it," one of the officials said.

The nation's color-coded terror alert system has not yet been raised. Airlines are currently under orange or "high" alert, the second most serious on a five point scale.

Stillwater Fire

A Stillwater family's home is destroyed after a fire at 10 Tuesday night, but the family is safe thanks to their smoke detectors.

Firefighters had to truck in water because there are no hydrants in the area. Three people inside the home escaped unharmed after hearing smoke alarms go off.

Four crews battled the flames Tuesday night.

"When we're in a rural setting, we need to shuttle water in to fight the fire," said Stillwater Fire Chief Stuart Glaser. "It's a devastating fire, a devastating loss for the family. It's unfortunate."

June 30, 2007

Yay for Public Transportation!

Being a strong advocate of Public Transportation, I (along with many other Minnesotans - I'm sure) was glad to hear that changes are being made to make traveling through Downtown Minneapolis much easier.

The changes to be made will benefit practically everyone - bikers, drivers, pedestrians, and bus riders.

The first order of business is reducing the buses on the Nicollet Mall and replacing them hybrids. Next, bikers will be back on the mall legally. The driving lanes on Marquette and 2nd Avenues will be reduced to one and an additional bus lane will be added. The last phase turns both Hennepin and 1st Avenues from one way streets into two way.

City leaders say Minneapolis is the employment center of the state and this new street plan will allow triple the amount of people to move through it. The downtown changes will be phased in over a 10 year period.

Hopefully these changes will in fact make Minneapolis a safer and quieter place for those who travel through the city.

Seriously, What the Heck is up With Northwest Airlines?

Northwest Airlines has been canceling thousands of flights lately. They say that these cancellations are due to poor weather conditions or pilot absenteeism.

Melodie Thostenson and her co worker Tina Raisanen were just two of the thousands of passengers stranded by Northwest Airlines when it canceled hundreds of flights this week nationwide.

The two women ended up running into a Minnesota man in the same boat, except he decided to rent a minivan and drive cross-country back to Minnesota. After weighing the pros and cons, the two women decided to ride with the man back to Minnesota. All three arrived safe and sound a full 24 hours before their rescheduled flight was due to arrive in the Twin Cities.

Northwest's cancellation rate had risen to between 10 to 15 percent as of Thursday, according to figures compiled by Portland, Ore.-based FlightStats, a Web site that tracks how carriers perform. The national average for the past week was about 2 percent, FlightStats said.

Pilots have denied any organized sickout, but have said increased flying times have contributed to fatigue and stress. Northwest Airlines Corp. restructured contracts with all its unions before emerging from bankruptcy last month.

The sudden increase in cancellations seems a bit sketchy to many travelers but northwest hopes to have all of these problems worked out very soon.

My friend and I are supposed to fly on Northwest Airlines to Florida to visit my dad in Mid-August. If something happens to our flight, I'll be really sad. Dang...

June 19, 2007

I-35W Commute = Insane

It seems that there is always road work slowing down the daily commute for Minnesotans, but even without extra delays the traffic itself can be a bit too much for some to handle.

The river bridge work is causing traffic tie ups on 35 beginning at Stinson Boulevard all the way to Interstate 94.

Although this is "construction season", many think that there aren't enough warnings put out before various projects begin.

"We anticipated there would be traffic impact and we did try to put the notice out," Embacher said.

During the night and on the weekends, there will only be one open lane in each direction.

In addition to the lane closures, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will close southbound I-35W at 8 p.m. on June 22 and will reopen it June 25 at 5 a.m. The recommended detour is Highway 280 to I-94.

The project is scheduled to be completed in late September.

The constant road work and heavy traffic has become a serious issue for Minnesota commuters. Many people are now choosing to carpool, or use public transportation which in the long run can save both time and money.

Going Green

Many people across the country have been doing various thing to contribute to the "going green" movement. One of the most talked about issues is alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol. Though various alternative fuel sources are more environment-friendly, people are now complaining about rising prices at the grocery store.

Higher fuel prices mean it costs more to grow and transport crops. But Swanson says an even bigger factor is hundreds of millions of bushels of corn that used to feed people and livestock, now being converted into ethanol.

The price of corn has risen almost 70% in the last 6 months. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, this year the country is going to use 18 to 20 percent of its total corn crop for the production of ethanol, and by next year that will jump to 25 percent.

The controversy over corn and ethanol in our country leaves many wondering if we'll ever find the right balance between "going green" and "saving green".

June 12, 2007

Boating Accidents in Minnesota

21-year-old Chris Johnson was involved in a boating accident yesterday. Johnson's swimsuit got tangled in the boat's propeller, eventually resulting in a large cut on his leg. Luckily, his swimsuit happened to form a tourniquet around his leg. "The doctors said I probably could have died if that wasn't the case," said Johnson.

This incident is only one of several recent boating accidents in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is constantly reminding boaters to take precautions and make safety their first priority.

The search continues for a body in the Mississippi River, after a deadly accident in Southeastern Minnesota in Mid-May.

Electrical shock, and severed limbs are two of the most common types of injuries suffered by Minnesota boaters.