December 8, 2007

CIA told not to destroy tapes

CIA officials were advised by White House and Justice Department officials, as well as senior members of Congress, not to destroy “hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda,� government officials said Friday, according to the New York Times.
The CIA came under scrutiny Thursday when it became public that the agency had destroyed tapes which recorded “harsh� interrogation techniques including water boarding in 2005 “in the midst of congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program.�
The CIA and Justice Department announced a joint inquiry to the tapes’ destruction Saturday.

Iran challenges U.S. report

Iran sent a letter to the United States, protesting the U.S.’s spying on Iran’s nuclear program, and saying the U.S.’s contention that Iran had a nuclear program until 2003, according to the BBC.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a U.S. intelligence report released Monday which said Iran discontinued its nuclear program in 2003 was false. Mottaki denied that Iran has ever had a nuclear program.
“Seventy percent of the US intelligence report is true and positive and the remaining 30 percent, in which they claim that Iran had a nuclear weapon programme before 2003, is wrong,� he said, according to the BBC. “They refused to confess about this 30 percent because they did not want to lose all their reputation or for similar reasons.�

Oil spill scares South Korea

A Samsung-Corp sea vessel slammed into a 146,000 ton Hong Kong registered oil tanker in South Korea Friday, according to the AP.
No one died in the accident, but South Korea sent dozens of ships from its coast guard to try to contain the 2.7 million gallons of oil that spilled, trying to keep it from reaching an “ecologically sensitive shoreline on the west coast.�

St. Paul man charged with murder

A 26-year-old St. Paul man, whose father was stabbed to death when he was a child and who was shot in the head before he reached his teenage years, pleaded guilty to shooting to death a drug client in St. Paul, according to the Pioneer Press.
Lionell Thompson was sentenced to 17 years in prison Friday for shooting Robert Renville in a “drug deal gone sour,� according to the Pioneer Press.
Thompson moved to St. Paul from Chicago “for a change,� he said.
Except for the lawyers, no one showed up in court to support either side.

Police chief leaves amid controversy

The Northfield police chief who said hundreds of young local people were on heroin resigned Friday for a police job in Kansas, according to the Star Tribune.
Gary Smith said at a press conference in July that 150 to 200 young people were on heroin or using some kind of narcotic. The statement drew resident criticism and arguments from the Northfield School District , who said their numbers which showed that in the 2006-07 school year, only 15 of their students were being treated for heroin use.
Smith went on a medical leave of absence within two weeks of the statement and did not return. He says his decision to take the job in Kansas is not related to his statement.

December 2, 2007

CAR Analysis

This is the "13 Seconds in August" piece the Star Tribune has on its website. The reports who put this together obviously needed tons of records on whose cars were whose, who died, access to the aerial photo, and had to figure out how to contanct each of these people, or if they had police reports, find those, too. The reporters needed to know how to use and create a flash program to do this, how to take video, and, obviously, how to write news stories.

December 1, 2007

Clinton campaign workers held hostage by man with road flares

A man with a history of mental instability and fake explosives strapped to his chest held three people hostage for three hours at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in New Hampshire Friday, according to the Guardian and Reuters.
Leeland Eisenberg, 46, walked into the campaign office at lunchtime Friday, said he had a bomb strapped to his chest, and demanded to talk to Clinton about health care. Clinton was at a Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington at the time. Eisenberg let a woman and her child who were in the office go free, but held three others for six hours before surrendering peacefully to police.
After police slid a cellular phone under the door to try to attempt to negotiate with Eisenberg, Clinton offered to cooperate, but police did not want her talking to him.
The bomb turned out to be road flares.
Clinton cancelled a speech in Virginia to speak to the victims and their families.

Briton jailed in Sudan for naming teddy bear Mohammed

A British elementary school teacher in Sudan was sentenced to 15 days in jail and then deportation Friday after allowing her class to name a teddy bear Mohammed, the name of the Muslim prophet, according to the BBC.
Large demonstrations took place in Sudan against the teacher, calling for her execution.
Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, was found guilty of insulting religion. She said she is being treated well and fed even better, according to the BBC.
Foreign Minister David Miliband said he has continually expressed deep concern to the Sudanese government over Gibbons’ imprisonment, and two Muslim peers of the U.K. House of Lords have met Sudanese officials and ministers and expect to meet the president Sunday to negotiate Gibbons’ early release and safe return to the U.K.

Pope invites Muslim leaders to find common ground

Pope Benedict invited Muslim leaders to discuss their request to find a common ground between the two religions in a letter signed by 138 Muslim religious authorities, according to the Guardian.
In the letter, Muslim leaders warned that the “survival of the world could be at stake� if the two religions failed.
In the Pope’s response, he said that atheism had “led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,� and proposed a working group including both Muslim leaders and Vatican officials.

Craigslist killer's charges changed

Michael J. Anderson was charged with first-degree premeditated murder Monday for allegedly killing a Savage woman who responded to his nanny request on Craigslist, according to the Star Tribune. His original charge was changed from second-degree intentional murder after a grand jury heard evidence on the case.
Anderson is accused of shooting 24-year-old Katherine Olson in his home after she responded to a Craigslist ad for a nanny, dragging her down the stairs, putting her in the trunk of a car, and leaving the car at a Burnsville park.
Anderson is 19.

Two die in Minneapolis double-murder men were killed in a double-murder in a Minneapolis apartment building Saturday morning, according to the Pioneer Press.
Police arrived at the scene 7:30 a.m. Saturday, where they found one man’s body in the apartment’s hallway, and another man’s body in a nearby alley. Police say the second man ran from the apartment complex before dying
No arrests have been made, but police say the killings are not random.

November 18, 2007

Saudi Arabian rape victim sentenced to lashes and jail time

A 21-year-old Saudi Arabian gang rape victim was sentenced to 200 lashes and a 6-month sentence in jail Saturday, double her original sentence for being in a car with a male unrelated to her, after she appealed her first punishment, according to the BBC and the Guardian. Al-Jazeera did not report on the case.
The woman, who was 19 at the time of the attack, was raped 14 times by seven men. Her attackers’ sentences were also doubled to 2-10 years in jail, what the BBC called a light sentence considering they could’ve received the death penalty.
The judges decided to further punish the woman for “trying to aggravate the court through the media� and her lawyer was “suspended from the case, has had his license to work confiscated, and faces a disciplinary session,� according to the BBC.

Chavez seeks to increase control, will likely succeed

In two weeks, Venezuela will vote on extensive revisions to its constitution, which would cut the workday to six hours, give homemakers and maids state pensions, significantly increase President Hugo Chavez’s power and give allow him to be re-elected for the rest of his life, according to the New York Times, which called it an “experiment in centralized, oil-fueled socialism� Saturday.
Chavez’s supporters already maintain control over the “National Assembly, the Supreme Court, almost every state government, the entire federal bureaucracy and newly nationalized companies in the telephone, electricity and oil industries,� the New York Times said. If the revisions are passed December 2, which they are likely to, Chavez’ control will increase.

House increases scrutiny over government eavesdropping

The House passed a bill Thursday night which increased court scrutiny over government surveillance, such as wiretapping and eavesdropping, over possible terrorist suspects and, in direct opposition to President Bush’s request, did not grant immunity to telecommunication companies that help the government eavesdrop on its customers, according to the Washington Post and New York Times.
The Democratic bill, which was passed 227-189, largely among party lines, was a reproach to Bush’s threat to veto any bill that did not protect telecom companies from civil lawsuits.

Free speech becomes issue in Robbinsdale

Proponents of the school levy which failed in Robbinsdale are suing to declare Minnesota statute 211B.06, which restricts anyone from “knowingly distributing false political or campaign information� as unconstitutional, according to the Star Tribune.em>
The lawsuit emerged after the levy failed November 6. Levy proponents sued Robbinsdale superintendent Stan Mack, and the state Office of Administrative Hearings on charges that Mack, who called attacks against the levy purposeful distortions of truth and the state, which enforces the statute, are infringing on their First Amendment rights. Opponents also said they feared the Mack and the state would sue them on the terms of 211B.06, and wanted to beat them to it, according to the Star Tribune.