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April 26, 2009

Minneapolis Man Left Dead, One Other Injured after Mississippi Rescue

One Minneapolis man has died and another has been left injured after rainwater flooded the tunnel they were exploring under the Marshall Avenue bridge, carrying them into the Mississippi River, reported the Star Tribune.

Rescue crews were informed at 10:19 a.m. Sunday that two men who had been photographing and exploring a tunnel south of the Marshall Avenue bridge had been swept into the Mississippi River. The tunnel had flooded with rainwater after a thunderstorm broke out, reported the St. Paul Fire Department.

One man was able to make it to the river’s edge, while police officers and two University of St. Thomas rowing club students rescued the second man and brought him to shore.

There, paramedics administered CPR and the man was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He was identified as Ian William Talty, 30, from Woodbury. (Pioneer Press)

Talty died from injuries sustained in the flood.

The incident is currently being investigated.

April 19, 2009

Defamed Woody Allen Sues American Apparel $10 Million

Distinguished film director Woody Allen has sued the clothing company American Apparel $10 million for using his image in one of their advertisements last year without his consent, reported USA Today.

The company, which is known for its provocative and somewhat controversial advertisements that often depict women in see-through or no clothing, used a still shot of Allen depicted as a Hasidic Jew that was taken from the movie Annie Hall. The film, which Allen directed, garnered him a best-director Oscar.

Allen, 73, sued the company on grounds of damaging his reputation and using his image to sponsor their product, something that Allen did not authorize. The lawsuit said that the billboards that were put up over the course of one week last year falsely implied that Allen had endorsed and associate him with the company.

American Apparel lawyer, Stuart Slotnick, argued that Allen’s reputation could not have been damaged by the company’s advertisements since Allen had long ago ruined it himself.

According to the New York Times, Slotnick told the Associated Press that at a May trial date, the company is preparing to bring up Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi Previn, the woman he is now married to. At the time of the affair, Previn was the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, who was Allen’s companion at the time.

“Certainly, our belief is that after the various sex scandals that Woody Allen has been associated with, corporate America’s desire to have Woody Allen endorse their product is not what he may believe it is,” Slotnick said. (New York Times)

Allen’s attorneys said that the company’s attempts at relating the incident to past sex scandals were “vexatious, oppressive, harassing,” and not relevant. (USA Today)

Allen’s relationship with actress Mia Farrow ended in 1992 when she discovered that Allen was having an affair with her oldest adopted daughter, Preven, who was 22 at the time. Allen and Previn married in 1997.

April 12, 2009

Usain Bolt Tries to Race into History – Again

Usain Bolt, the Jamaican track superstar who ran his way into spectator’s hearts and onto their television sets during last summer’s 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, has announced he wants to become the first track star to earn $10 million a year in prize money, appearance fees and endorsements.

Bolt, 22, was the winner of three gold medals in Beijing in the 100, 200 and 4x100 meter relay. Each race was also a world record, as Bolt put up times of 9.69 seconds at 100 meters, 19.30 at 200, and 37.10 in the 4x100 relay.

As reported by the New York Times, Bolt’s London-based agent, Ricky Simms, said that track stars do not earn as much as top stars in more visible professional sports, such as soccer and golf.

“David Beckham, Tiger Woods, he’s go to look at that being his target,” Simms said.

Bolt, has already signed a $1.5 million a year contract with the shoe company Puma, and has endorsements for Gatorade and Digicel, a Caribbean mobile phone company. Cummulatively, Bolt’s income could rise above $3 million for 2009.

Bolt is not satisfied with this amount, however. Bolt will begin asking for $200,000 in race performance fees, which is double that of what some other stars earn.

“My main goal is to be a legend in my sport,” Bolt said.

In order to do so, Bolt knows that he needs to continue putting up top performances and times.

Sponsor appearances, post-Olympic celebrating and other distractions prevented Bolt from staying on track with his early-season training. He ran a slow 9.93 wind-aided 100 last month in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and left the competition “infuriated.”

“You have to stay on top every year. You can’t be fast this season and the next two not be there,” Bolt said. “I didn’t feel like myself.”

After returning home, Bolt has decided that his drive will continue to push himself to the edge of human performance. Breaking he 9.5 second barrier in the 100 is a goal Bolt’s coaches have begun to talk about. (New York Times)

Bolt understands that he will now be training and racing under far greater pressure and scrutiny since he has become a world phenomenon and star.

Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing has recently come under attack since he was pictured at a party inhaling from a marijuana pipe. Phelps has since been placed under a three month competition suspension and the loss of a commercial deal with Kellog.

“That was stupid,” Bolt said of Phelp’s behavior. Bolt had recently admitted to a German newspaper that as a child, he too had experimented with marijuana, but hopes he can provide a better example for young children and other athletes. (Winnipeg Free Press)

“There is a responsibility for me to help the sport,” Bolt said. “It’s no problem. I will have fun all the time. It’s just going to be me being me.” (New York Times)

April 5, 2009

Five Children Shot Dead Near Washington

Five children were found shot to death and might have been murdered by their own father who later committed suicide, said Washington state investigators Saturday.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the children, who were between 7 and 16 years old, had been found dead in a Graham area home.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said that all children had died of gunshot wounds. Names are not being released.

Police found the father, 35, dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in his care, at a casino in King County, about 20 miles from the home.

Troyer said that the episode was being considered as “domestic violence and a murder-suicide.” (New York Times)

Deputies said that they were called to the home to check on the welfare of the children after discovering the father’s body.

The mother of the children was not at home, said Troyer. It is believed that the husband and wife are not estranged.

Dozens of investigators are currently in the process of reconstructing the crime and trying to find a motive.

March 29, 2009

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.

February 9, 2009

Australian Wildfires Kill 108, Believed to Increase

Death tolls have grown to 108 and are expected to rise as the deadliest wildfire in Australian history continues to plunge the southern state of Victoria into ash and dust, reported USA Today.

Driven by winds of more than 62 mph and temperatures that rose to 117 degrees in Melbourne made Saturday the hottest day on record – a perfect day for a fire to start.

At least 700 homes have been destroyed and more than 80 people have been hospitalized, the New York Times reported. Hospital officials said that at least 20 of the victims were burn patients and unlikely to survive.

“Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria,? Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reports on Sunday. “This is an appalling tragedy.? (USA Today)

Nearly 3,000 firefighters battled 30 uncontrolled large wildfires Sunday, which had burned more than 770 square miles of forest and farmland across Victoria.

Although some of the fires were thought to have been started by arsonists, wildfires are common during the hot, dry summer months in Australia since the oil-rich eucalyptus forests become vulnerable to lightning or sparks from farm equipment. (New York Times)

Last week’s prolonged drought made the conditions even more dangerous.

Officials believe that the conditions had eased considerably since Saturday, although it will be days until the fires can be contained.

The country’s last deadly blaze occurred during the “Ash Wednesday? fires of 1983, when 75 people died and hundreds of homes were lost across southern Australia.

February 1, 2009

Ebola Virus Infects Five

Five people have tested positive for the nondeadly strain of the Ebola virus, Philippine and international health authorities said Friday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Four pig-farmers have been infected by the harmless Ebola-Reston strain of the virus from their livestock. In addition, a Philippine pig-handler had tested positive for the virus on Friday, Jan. 23, although according to the New York Times, the worker had been infected for at least six months.

Ebola-Reston, usually known as a monkey virus, was first discovered in Philippine pigs last year. Health authorities conducted tests on blood samples taken from 6,000 pigs and 50 workers on farms and slaughterhouses. Only four pigs and one worker tested positive. (New York Times)

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that it was possible the pigs had passed on the virus to the workers. If the transmissions were proven, then it would be the first time humans had contracted the disease from a pig.

First discovered in Philippine monkeys in 1989, Ebola-Reston is not known to cause much more than a mild flu. However, Zaire, Sudan and Bundibugyo strains of Ebola that are found in some African apes, can cause fatal hemorrhagic fever and result in death. (New York Times)

Although the virus would not be thought of as harmful should tests prove transmission between pigs and humans possible, some health officials worry that the ability of pigs to preserve viruses could lead to a mutation into something more deadly.

Perhaps more important, Philippine health and agricultural agencies are working with international Food and Agriculture organizations to try and find out how the virus jumped from monkeys to pigs.

Dr. Juan Lubroth, chief of animal health at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, believes that bats similar to those found in Africa that carry the Ebola-Reston virus, have been found in the Philippines. It is possible that the virus had been contracted through bat droppings or the consumption of dead bodies.