December 6, 2007

Holiday shopping trip gone bad - Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. - Robert Hawkins had a rough couple of events happen: he had been kicked out of his family's house, fired from McDonald's and had broken up with his girlfriend, leaving him to write a suicide note Wednesday at his home.

It said he wouldn't be a burden on his family anymore and "now I'll be famous," according to Debora Maruca-Kovac, who owns the home.

Hawkins went to the Westroads Mall, armed with a rifle and black back pack and camouflage vest. Witnesses said Hawkins fired down at shoppers from the third-floor balcony of the Von Maur store.

Police responded to a call of shots fired within six minutes, but they said by then it was all over.

The gunman was found dead on the third floor with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his victims were discovered on the second and third floors of the Mall, police Sgt. Teresa Negron said.

Eight people, not including Hawkins, were killed, five wounded, and two critically injured.

When gunshots rang out in the mall, it took a moment for many to realize what was going on. Shawn Vidlak thought it sounded like a nail gun on a construction job.

"My knees rocked. I didn't know what to do, so I just ran with everybody else," said Kevin Kleine, 29, who was shopping with her 4-year-old daughter who hid in a dressing room with other shoppers and employees.

Hawkins lived with a friend's family in a house in a middle-class Bellevue neighborhood for a little over a year after his family kicked him out, Maruca-Kovac said.

"When he first came in the house, he was introverted, a troubled young man who was like a lost pound puppy that nobody wanted," Maruca-Kovac said.

"I had a feeling it could be him," said Maruca-Kovac, who had read the note before turning it over to his mother.

November 17, 2007

Get your shots or go to jail.

MARLBORO, Md.- Two months into the school year, more than 2,000 students still needed to get the required shots. The school system decided to take a more affirmative action.

Parents of the students' in Prince George's County have been ordered to appear in a court hearing today and offered the choice of getting their children vaccinated or risking up to 10 days in jail and fines.

Maryland adopted the new immunization policy in the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year.

Maryland gives a small grace period of 4 days for multi-shot vaccinations done a few days before the next scheduled interval. However, if the shot is done a week early, it will be invalid.

Prince George's County school officials and prosecutors said the parents of these children have been warned about the need for vaccinations over the past year. They said the goal isn't to throw parents in jail but to protect public health. Parents can obtain exemptions for religious or medical reasons, under Maryland law.

"The message is get your kids vaccinated or get an exemption," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey. "You can't just sit on the fence."

November 14, 2007

Chicago transplant patients contracted HIV

Four Chicago transplant patients contracted HIV and the hepatitis C virus from an organ donor, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Health officials said the organ donor tested negative for both diseases, but apparently the donor was infected too recently that blood tests did not detect the infection.

If the test is done within 22 days of infection, antibodies may not be detected, therefore results may be inaccurate. Doctors said that this may have been the case with the donor.

There is another test that can pick up viral infections earlier, but this test was not used for this donor.

The cause of death and nature of the risk of being infected with HIV was not disclosed of the organ donor, officials said.

The case is being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Depending on circumstances, transplant surgeons generally decide what information is given to patients and their families, University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist Art Caplan said.

"Every patient in need of an organ has a significant medical condition that in most circumstances limits life expectancy," said Alison Smith, Gift of Hope vice president for operations. "The question becomes what degree of risk is appropriate in that situation."

The Startribune reported, "Not every aspect of a potential donor's life is fair game, but patients have a right to know 'if a donor dropped dead in a bathhouse with a needle in his arm,' Caplan said."

"It's not clear how much the four patients were told about the donor. But University of Minnesota ethicist Jeffrey Kahn said it underscores the importance of the consent process "and an individual's right to decide what's right for them."

November 8, 2007

Minnesota woman kills wealthy husband

A Minnesota woman is jailed for life in Hong Kong after allegedly killing her wealthy husband by a sedative-laced milkshake before bludgeoning him to death.

Nancy Kissel, 41, murdered her husband so she could begin a new life with a Vermont television repairman says her new book "Never Enough" that broke her silence on the case.

Robert Kissel was missing for four days when colleague and close friend, David Noh, prompted calls to find him.
Bryna O'Shea, close friend of Robert Kissel's, said he was having marital problems and thought maybe he had gone off to live in his own apartment. When they could not reach him they knew something was wrong.

Greed seems to be at the root of the family's problem said book's author, Joe McGinnis. Simon & Schuster, publishers, says on its website, the book is about "a modern American woman for whom having it all might not have been enough."

Kissel accused McGinnis that the advanced copy was a "gross mischaracterization of herself and the people around her," the South China Morning Post reported from citing Kissel's defense team.

According to the Post, McGinnis was quoted as saying his book was based on interviews with family and friends of Kissels'.

The StarTribune said Kissel's husband's body was found in 2003 wrapped in a rug in a storage locker at the couple's luxury apartment building on a mountain that overlooked Hong Kong's steel and glass skyscrapers.

Prosecutors said Kissel wanted to start a new life with Del Priore, a TV repairman living in a trailer park in Vermont and that she wanted to inherit her husband's millions to start their life together.

October 31, 2007

Cheerleader trampled by football team

A suburban Seattle high school cheerleader was trampled by her football team while she was holding up a banner. The video can be seen on You Tube and was viewed more than 725,000 times.

The cheerleader reports that she's a little embarrassed about the incident but that she is fine.

Cali Kaltschmidt tried fixing the banner when the players started running through onto the field.
The 18-year-old Kaltschmidt told KOMO, "Smack, I got run into."

Kaltschmidt was checking the banner because a former cheerleader said there were no holes in it to ensure proper ripping so she sent Kaltschmidt to check on it. Kaltschmidt said she watched for the football players but didn't see any coming at the the time.,2933,306981,00.html

Kaltschmidt also said in her interview with KOMO that she was nursing a bruised neck from her car accident the day before. However, she said she'll be back on the field cheering on the sidelines for Friday's game.

According to Foxnews, Kaltschimdt was also homecoming queen.

October 21, 2007

Suicidal 15-year-old fires off 100 shots

HUDSON, Wisc - A teenage boy waited until his parents left for a movie, to call his friends and threated suicide said St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead.

"He talked to them about how he was tired of his life," Hillstead said.

The shootings began at 9 p.m. Friday at 260 Troon Court, about five miles from south Hudson.

The friends heard the gunshots going off in the background and preceded to call the police.

As a precaution, police told surrounding houses to evacuate.

The boy was armed with a .22-caliber pistol, two shotguns and plenty of ammunition, shooting for three hours, according the sheriff's office.

There was extensive damage from the shots and shattering of most of the main floor windows in the home.

"Police contacted the teenager by having his friends call the house, Hillstead said. Officers were able to persuade him to surrender about 12:30 a.m."

Paramedics rushed the boy to the Hudson hospital due to cuts from the broken class said Hillstead.

The neighbors said the boy was a "good kid" and that the incident was shocking and uncharacteristic.

According to Startribune, no one was injured and the boy was taken to Madison hospital for evaluation.

October 13, 2007

Mom gives 2-year-old pot

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. - A stoned 2-year-old boy is recorded on a cellphone after his mother and two male friends gave him pot.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, mother, Sean M. Held, 19, and Dane Thomas Ashley, 20, both from Menomonee Falls, were charged for contributing to the delinquency of a child and possession of marijuana.

According to the Journal Sentinel, one of the mother's friends, can be heard on the recording, "Hey buddy... Are you stoned?"

District Attorney Brad Schimel said the mother is under monitoring by the county Department of Human Services, but still has custody of her son.

"It's impossible to tell whether the child puffs on it or blows on (the marijuana)," Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said. "If the child ingested any, it was a very small amount, because the test came up negative."

Schimel said Held will be under ongoing supervision of the relationship with her son, and that she is still living with her mother, who had no indication that this incident was going on.

Depression hits Caregivers

WASHINGTON — Younger women that tend to the elderly, changing diapers and serving food and drinks as some of their duties, have the highest rates of depression among U.S. workers.

According to a government report, 7 percent of full-time workers battled depression this past year, with women more likely then men to have it. Younger workers were also shown to have higher rates of depression.

Problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image, loss of interest and pleasure are just a few symptoms that may surface during the depression episodes.

Depression occurs when the chemical messages in our brain aren't delivered directly between the brain cells.

According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, depression leads to $30 billion to $44 billion in lost productivity annually among 21 major occupational categories.

People who were unemployed had a higher rate of depression at 12.7 percent, compared to those who worked full-time at 7 percent rate of depression.

October 8, 2007

Wisconsin deputy shoots six people

Crandon, WIS. - An off-duty deputy went on a shooting rampage during a pizza party on Sunday.

Deputy Tyler Peterson, 20, worked full time for the Forest County Sheriff's Office and part time as a Crandon police officer said Police Chief John Dennee.

Jealousy might have been the motive said mother of a slain 14-year-old girl. Peterson had been in a relationship with one of the victims but they were broken up at the time of the shooting said authorities at a news conference.

Peterson's family sent out a statement apologizing for their son's act. It states: "Our hearts go out to the victims, their families and friends," it said. "We are grieving for your losses. We are very sorry for what has happened, this huge tragedy has deeply affected everyone, including us. We also feel a tremendous amount of guilt and shame for the horrendous acts Tyler has committed."

"I was shocked," said Ashley Megeshick of nearby Mole Lake. She who got to know Peterson from his work-related visits to the casino where she was employed. "He was laid back. He did not seem like the type of person who would go on a shooting rampage or murder somebody. He was just a reasonable kind of guy."

All the kids were "run-of-the-mill, regular kids" Crandon resident, Allen Flannery, said of the victims.

"We never thought something like this could happen in Crandon, but yet it did," Superintendent Richard Peters said of the shooting. "It's a tremendous tragedy for the community."

Jenny Stahl, 39, said her 14-year-old daughter called Saturday night and asked whether she could sleep over at a friend's house. "I'm waiting for somebody to wake me up right now. This is a bad, bad dream," the weeping mother said. "All I heard is it was a jealous boyfriend and he went berserk. He took them all out."

Another victim was Bradley Schultz, 20, third-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was home visiting his friends, said his aunt, Sharon Pisarek.

The school is canceled today for all grade levels and guidance counselors and a school psychologist will be available at Praise Chapel for students and their family members.

October 1, 2007

Twin Cities student drowns in LaCrosse.

LA CROSSE, WIS. - A college student reportedly fell from a bridge and drowned in the Mississippi River early Sunday morning.

The student was identified as Christopher B. Melancon, 24, of Bloomington, Minn. Police said it was too early to know whether alcohol was a factor in Melancon's death.

One eyewitness reports he fell from the bridge, but another eyewitness believes he jumped from the bridge.

The student's body was recovered at about 2:20 a.m. by a dive team, but emergency personnel were unable to revive him.

"This tragic and unfortunate incident overshadows a relatively quiet and successful Oktoberfest weekend," La Crosse Police Chief Ed Kondracki said

This incident makes for the second consecutive year that a drowning occurred during the Oktoberfest weekend. Last year, on the same weekend, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student Luke Homan disappeared after a night of drinking. Two days later is body was found in the Mississippi River.

September 26, 2007

Germs in space, come back more deadly.

The germ, Salmonella, best known as a culprit of food poisoning was sent along with scientists on the Space Shuttle STS-115 in September 2006, to see how space travel affects germs.

Arizona State University science team has shown for the first time that space makes germs more deadly.

They did the test by feeding mice the space germs. They found out that the mice were three times more likely to get sick from the germs in space then the mice fed on Earth.

Cheryl Nickerson, an associate professor at the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University, reports the results of the salmonella study: Researchers found 167 genes changed in the salmonella when it went into space. Results were in today's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Nickerson said that some germs may become stronger and some may become weaker on spaceflight.

Studies have also shown that astronauts immune systems become weaker in space.

Researchers tested the germs in hopes to finding a vaccine to treat or prevent outbreaks of salmonella and other infectious diseases on Earth

"These bugs can sense where they are by changes in their environment," Nickerson said. "The minute they sense a different environment, they change their genetic machinery so they can survive."

September 20, 2007

Cast iron coffin identified - 15 yr. old boy

William Taylor White, 15-years-old, died in 1852 and buried in the Columbia College cemetery.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution who were working on this project believe the coffin was left behind when the cemetery was later moved.
White was from Accomack, Va., and was a descendant of one of the Jamestown settlers, Anthony West. White was a student at the preparatory school of the college formerly known as George Washington University.

The forensic anthropologists and pathologists reported that White's death was contributed to congenital heart disease, a ventricular septum defect, which is a hole in the heart.

White's death was confirmed Jan. 24, 1852, in an obituary published in the Daily National Intellegencer newspaper of Washington on Jan.28, 1852.

White was determined by clothing historians as wearing a shirt, vest and pants that were consistent with the clothing styles worn in the early mid-1850s.

His cast-iron coffin was a Fisk style Egyptian mummy case patented in 1848.

September 19, 2007

U. of Miss. frat appeals supsension

A University of Mississippi fraternity are asking school officials to re-think their one-year suspension after a student said he was assaulted and called a racial slur at a party.

Freshman Jeremiah Taylor, 18, attended a party at Delta Kappa Epsilon and said he was pushed down the stairs and called the N-word.

"We have filed an appeal that says the evidence doesn't support the penalty. The sanction imposed was not appropriate considering the lack of evidence against the chapter," said David Easlick, executive director of Delta Kappa Epsilon International, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The university judicial council announced the fraternity guilty after listening to 20 witnesses last week. They were found guilty of violations of harassment, assault, disorderly conduct, possession of alcohol and hosting an unauthorized party.

The appeal will be handled "expeditiously," said Jeffrey Alford, associate vice chancellor for university relations.

Taylor filed a complaint on Aug. 24 with the Dean of Students' office, Alford said.

Along with their one-year suspension, the fraternity was fined $1,000 to go towards an alcohol and drug education program fund on campus. Each of the members are required to do 20 hours of community service and participate in a racial sensitivity and alcohol drug abuse program said Alford.

O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson was charged with seven felonies on Tuesday. Simpson, 60, added suspicion of assault and robbery with a deadly weapon along with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping to his court documents, said District Attorney David Roger.

If Simpson is found guilty of the robbery at Palace Station casino, he is looking at life in prison.

"If it was anyone other than O.J. Simpson, he would have been released by now," Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter said.

Witnesses said they didn't think Simpson had a gun, but the people he was confronted with were armed.

Alexander, one of the men arrested with Simpson, told "ABC's Good Morning America" he thought Simpson was being set up because another memorabilia dealer who tipped him off recorded everything on tape.

September 15, 2007

Winning the Powerball: Fantasy or Nightmare?

Jack Whittaker, of West Virginia, won the $314.9 million Powerball, but is now questioning whether it was even worth it.

His wife left him and his granddaughter recently died of a drug addiction. His daughter is currently battling cancer and he is stuck with no friends.

"Every friend that I've had, practically, has wanted to borrow money or something and of course, once they borrow money from you, you can't be friends anymore," said Whittaker.
People would show up at the C&L Super Serve convenience store where he frequently visited and where he bought the winning ticket in hopes he would be willing to give them money. Everyone always had some sort of sob story to get part of his winnings said Brenda, who sold Whittaker the winning ticket. Soon he stopped going to the convenience store because people kept bombarding him with plea's of money.

Whittaker was already a self-made millionaire even before his big jackpot win in December 2002. He started working for his father at the age of 10, and dropped out of school by the age of 14 to start working full time.

Ever since his big win, he's been involved in 460 legal actions and recently settled a lawsuit that alleged his bank failed to catch counterfeit checks of $50,000 from his accounts.

Whittaker has been donating most of his money to his "Jack Whittaker Foundation" which has spent $23 million on building two churches. His family also donates clothing, food and money for college scholarships to local students.

Whittaker was asked if he feels like a role model after the win he said, "I want to be a good example. I want to make people proud of what happens with this winning. I want to promote goodwill and help people."

September 14, 2007

You Tube

Want to get college credit for watching "You Tube?" Well it's now an option at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Students will be viewing You Tube content and posting comments as well as making videos of their own to post.

The students will start off their You Tube kick by having their class filmed on the You Tube

The students are studying the impact You Tube has in the media. One video submitted by a student in the class was of a student at Ball State University in Indiana, who was filling in as the sports anchor. The teleprompter operator was moving the screen to fast, leaving the student to ad lib most of his newscast. After bombing the four-minute segment he ended with "boom goes the dynamite." The catch phrase became big and was aired on ESPN "Sports Center" as well as the new hit "Veronica Mars."

Professor of Media Studies, Alexandra Juhasz, said she was "underwhelmed" with the content placed on You Tube. She is hoping that it raises some issues on "corporate-sponsored democratic media expression.''

Pitzer student, Darren Grose, who is enrolled in the course said about the site, "You can learn a lot about American culture and just Internet culture in general."