« February 2009 | Main | April 2009 »

March 30, 2009

Edward Anderson: a Big Man with a "Mini" Legacy

Entrepreneur Edward M. Anderson, inventor of the Lil’ Orbits automatic doughnut machine as well as an oil- and- water separator, died of cancer on Thursday at his home in Plymouth. He was 78.

As written by the Star Tribune, there are a few close friends and co-workers who are sourced throughout the obituary, and no family members (even though Anderson’s son, Charlie, is mentioned). Mike Foster, who was a business consultant for Anderson’s Plymouth-based firm, talks about Anderson’s contribution to the business world. Brian O’Gara, who was the Lil’ Orbits sales manager is also referenced. Lastly, Jane Nett, who is only referred to as a “neighbor,” is also sourced. It is not clear if Jane Nett was a life-long friend, companion or even lived next door to Anderson, as opposed to down the road.

The lead for Anderson’s obituary is an alternative – it begins by explaining something that Minnesotans consider a “quintessential” consumer product at the Minnesota State Fair, was invented by Anderson. The lead works because it provides an interesting anecdote (how many people know who invented the mini-doughnut machine?) that makes the reader want to keep reading to learn more about this creative man. Also, the second paragraph that talks about what Anderson enjoyed doing (tinkering in his garage) supports the alternative lead by further supporting the idea that this man was inventive and creative.

Also, the cause and date of death, as well as his age, isn’t referenced until the fourth paragraph, after a short introduction as to whom Anderson was and what he liked doing, as well as a quote from one of his business partners. This also works for this obituary because Anderson’s accomplishments are more news worthy and interesting than the cause of death and his age.

After the fourth paragraph, the obituary follows a traditional obituary structure, detailing more of Anderson’s “claims to fame,” followed by a chronology of his life. The obituary finishes with information about his family and details of the funeral service.

March 29, 2009

Cyber Spy System Discovered

Canadian researchers have concluded the discovery of an immense electronic spying operation that has software capable of stealing information has been installed on computers in 103 countries, according to the New York Times.

Security Researchers based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China and had already “stolen hundreds of private government and office documents from around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama.” (Wall Street Journal)

Although the system was traced back to computers in China, there is not enough evidence to connect the Chinese government to the infiltration. However, a separate report that was conducted by researchers at Cambridge University and published on Sunday alleges that the Chinese government or a group closely affiliated with the government is responsible for the stolen documents of the Dalai Lama. (Wall Street Journal)

The software was an apparent “cyberattack” that had targeted the office of the Dalai Lama and was revealed when the office asked researchers to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, called malware.

Researchers say that the infected software, which is referred to as GhostNet, is a kind of illicit information-gathering network. A victim is tricked into opening an infected file that is attached to an email or by downloading a file from a Web site. According to researchers, criminals may have managed to gain control over computers by sending files concealed as racy pictures or winning lottery tickets.

According to a report that was published Sunday by the Toronto-based organization Information Warfare Monitor, more than 1,200 computers in all have been infected with GhostNet. Some of the infected computers were those that also belonged to embassies in Germany, India, Romania, and Thailand, as well as in the ministries of foreign affairs for Barbados, Iran and Latvia.

Wenqi Gao, a spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York has dismissed the idea that China was involved, saying that “these are old stories and they are nonsense. The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cybercrime.” (New York Times)

Cyber infiltrations such as these are the latest in a series of incidents that suggest such attacks are on the rise. Researchers at MessageLabs, which is a division of Symantec Corp., detected about one or two attacks per week in 2005. In 2008, the researchers detected 53 attacks per day.

Man Charged with Stalking Elementary Students

A Minneapolis man has been charged Friday by the Ramsey County attorney’s office with aggravated stalking after allegedly driving by a 13-year-old girl at least 20 times as she made her way to school Wednesday morning in St. Paul.

Ramon T. Pavon, 21, was arrested on Thursday after returning to the neighborhood in his van after an officer recognized the van’s license plate number that had been provided to the police by the girl.

According to a criminal complaint printed by the Pioneer Press, a St. Paul police officer was called to the Webster Magnet Elementary School in the Summit-University area after several children told staff a man had tried to lure them into a white van around 7:30 Wednesday morning.

Another 13-year-old girl corroborated the story, saying that the man had driven past her and a friend slowly, staring, and at one point had even yelled, “Hey, you,” out the window.

After his arrest, Pavon told officers that he had just dropped his wife off at work and had not been in the area the day before, when the initial complaint had been filed. Instead, Pavon said that his brother had taken his wife to work on Wednesday.

Investigators talked to Pavon’s wife, who told them that Pavon had taken her to work as usual and that his brother had not been with them.

After his arrest, Pavon continued to deny that he had been driving the van on Wednesday. When officers confronted Pavon with his wife’s statement, he changed his story, saying that he had been the one driving the van.

He also recognized that he had driven by Webster Magnet Elementary School and had looked at the girl. He admitted that “he had probably scared her,” but denied any attempt at kidnapping. (Star Tribune)

According to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Pavlon has no adult criminal record and was being held in Ramsey County Jail as of Friday.

Rapper T.I. Sentenced to Prison Trail

A judge sentenced rapper T.I. to spend one year and a day in prison on federal weapons violations on Friday, reported USA Today

The 28-year-old, whose real name is Clifford Harris, had pleaded guilty last March after he was arrested on Oct. 13, 2007 heading to the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta while attempting to purchase three unregistered machine guns and two silencers.

Harris was found guilty of all three charges of illegal weapons possession.

According to the New York Times, Harris had faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. He had initially pleaded not guilty and was released on a $3 million bond before being placed on house arrest.

Since changing his plea, Harris agreed to community service in order to avoid a lengthy sentence. He has since completed about 1,000 hours of community service, although he still needs to complete another 470 hours. He also made 262 public appearances as part of the sentence.

Harris also starred in an MTV reality TV show, “T.I.’s Road to Redemption,” although this did not count as community service. The show highlighted Harris’ attempts at informing teenagers about the dangers of guns, violence and drugs.

Harris has been granted between 30 and 60 days to report to prison, although which particular prison has currently been undecided, said Ed Garland, one of Harris’ attorneys.

Upon Harris’ release, he is to be placed on three years of supervised release and will be credited for 305 days of home detention that he has already served and must serve another 60 additional days, said authorities. (USA Today)

Harris, who is one of the co-chief executives of the music label Grand Hustle Records and one of Atlantic Records’ most successful artists, recently released his sixth studio album, “Paper Trail.” The album was nominated for numerous awards at the 2009 51st Annual Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album.

According to USA Today, Harris said that fear was the reason he tried to buy the guns in the first place. His best friend, Philant Johnson, had been killed during a post-performance party in Cincinnati in 2006. A man was found guilty of the murder last year.

U.S. Looks to Help Lead International Climate and Energy Talks

The Obama administration announced Saturday that the U.S. will be a host for a meeting of major economies and representatives of 16 countries and the European Union to discuss climate change and energy issues.

The meetings, which will be held in Washington April 27-28, will be the first of two talks that will look at resolving issues that have prevented the development of an international climate treaty between countries that have been the largest emitters of heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

A second set of meetings will be held in La Maddalena, Italy, in July.

Participants from the U.S., China and the U.K. will attend and will try to create concrete initiatives and joint ventures that increase the supply of clean energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a statement released by the White House. (New York Times)

Referred to as the Major Economics Meetings on Energy Security and Climate Change, the meetings will discuss issues such as emissions targets, technology funding, sectoral agreements, deforestation, trade tariffs and a raft of other complex issues that deal with cutting greenhouses gases. (Wall Street Journal)

President Barack Obama hopes that by having these meetings, momentum will build for the formation of a signed agreement to take place at the United Nations climate change negotiations in Copenhagen that are set to take place in December.

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials say it is unlikely that Congress will pass any type of climate bill before Copenhagen. However, the White House is hoping to have something substantial that will give the U.S. negotiating influence by December.

Big Lake Man Suspected in Abduction and Shooting Commits Suicide

A Big Lake man has shot himself in the head Saturday after the suspected killing of his girlfriend’s son that resulted in the abduction of the woman and a car chase down Interstate 94.

Peter Tek, 42, of Big Lake, Minn., is believed to have shot and killed Savang Sath, 27, his girlfriend’s son, before abducting his girlfriend and fleeing from police. The chase ensued down a 2-mile stretch of the I-94 for one hour before Tek released his girlfriend and shot himself, said Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott.

Traffic had to be detoured around the scene for about two hours, police said. (Star Tribune)

Tek’s girlfriend suffered head injuries and is hospitalized, according to police. Tek’s brother, Cheth Tek, said that Peter Tek was divorced and had been living with his girlfriend and her son for four years in Big Lake.

According to Cheth Tek, Peter and his girlfriend, as well as another unidentified female, had got into an argument after returning to the family’s home at 1010 Eagle Lake Rd. from a party early Saturday morning.

Authorities said that a disagreement took place between Tek and Sath, which is when Tek is believed to have shot Sath twice. After holding the two women hostage for about 20 minutes, Tek abducted his girlfriend and began driving down Interstate 94 in a Lincoln Navigator.

Police were called shortly after the abduction. They found Sath’s body and were alerted to the type of car that Tek was driving.

Wright County officials spotted Tek’s car about 15 minutes after the alert at a gas station in Monticello. As County officials closed in on Tek, he got into the Lincoln Navigator and fled towards I-94, with deputies still chasing him.

After an hour had passed, Tek eventually pulled over to the side of the freeway. The police negotiated with Tek for an hour before he let his girlfriend go. Tek then shot himself in the head, dying immediately.

According to the Pioneer Press, a .45-caliber Taurus semiautomatic handgun that was found in the vehicle matched the shell casings from where Sath had been killed.

An investigation is ongoing and autopsies will be performed next week.