Main | October 2008 »

September 28, 2008

Teen plotted to kill mom for breast implants

A Colorado teen plotted to kill his mother so he could use her money to pay for his girlfriend's breast implants.

Nikita Lee Weis, 18, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. According to The Denver Channel, Weis hired two men for $7,000 to break into his mother's home, murder her, and dispose of her body.

Weis' mother, Hyun Weis, was attacked on Thursday after Juan Antonio Velez Gonzales, 19, and Brandon Michael Soroka, 19, broke into her home and attacked her with a wooden baseball bat. Hyun was able to escape. She was released from the hospital on Friday, however, the nature of her injuries have not yet been disclosed.(CNN)

Gonzales, Soroka, and Weis' girlfriend, Sophia Alsept, 21, were also arrested on the same charges.

According to the police affidavit, Hyun was originally supposed to be attacked on Wednesday night, but shw would not answer her door. On Thursday night, while both Nikita and Hyun were at her house, a man dressed in black broke into the house and beat Hyun in the head with the bat. Hyun was able to scare off the attacker by hitting the panic button on her car keys, which sounded her car alarm. She escaped and called 911 at a neighbor's house.

Deputy Police Chief Mike Barnett said the suspects discussed wrapping Hyun's body in plastic and dumping or burying her in the desert.

All suspects are being held on $50,000 bail.

At least 52 die fleeing Somali

At least 52 Somalis died when the boat smuggling them across to Yemen broke down and left them without food or water for 18 days, U.N. officials said Sunday.

Those that survived ranged in age from 2 to 40. Their boat drifted into Yemeni coastal waters and they were rescued by coastal guardsmen.

According to UPI.com,the Somali refugees were fleeing Somalia because of drought, unemployment and other insecurities in their war-torn nation. Each passenger paid between $70 and $100 to board the ship.

The boat left Somalia in early September with more than 120 people on board. The engine stopped after only a few hours.

According to CNN, 38 men and 10 women died during the 18 days the boat was drifting along the Gulf of Aden. Survivors said their bodies were thrown overboard. The other four that were accounted for died after being hospitalized.

This year, more than 31 thousand people have traveled to Yemen through smuggler's boats. More than 228 Somalis and Ethiopians have died, and 262 are still missing. (CNN)

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees believes that this large number may be because of displacements in Somalia, new smuggling routes across the gulf, and the belief that there is less surveillance during the holy month of Ramadan.

September 21, 2008

Motorcycle accident unveiled as homicide

What seemed like a typical motorcycle accident has now unveiled itself as a homicide. It appeared that Natasha Waalen, 28, from Andover, died early Friday morning when she lost control of her bike. By that night, Waalen’s injuries raised a red flag that led to the arrest of her live-in boyfriend of 10 years.

"There are multiple factors that are not consistent with a motor vehicle accident," reported a statement from the Anoka County sheriff's office announcing Boland's arrest. (TwinCities.com)

Ryan Boland, 33, was arrested for suspicion of killing Waalen.

The news has shocked both friends and family.

Jeff Waalen, Natasha’s father, told the Star Tribune that he suspected a man who recently threatened his daughter over a potential lawsuit. After hearing that Boland was arrested, Jeff said that the investigators were “barking up the wrong tree.?

According to TwinCities.com, neighbors are upset over the whole ordeal, especially since there was no indication of violence between the couple.

"The neighborhood is buzzing. This sort of thing just doesn't happen. It's just very hard to take in," next-door neighbor Valorie Burke said.

The exact cause of death and possible motive have not been released just yet. Boland remained in jail over the weekend, as investigators and county attorney’s office considered charges.

Helicopter crashes into Wisconsin home

A helicopter crashed into the roof of a Kenosha, WI home early Sunday morning, reported WISN Milwaukee.
A man and a woman, who were both in the helicopter, died in the crash. According to the Kenosha Police Department, the five family members that were in the home during the crash got out safely and were not injured. (WISN Milwaukee.)
Two hundred gallons of gasoline spilled onto the street and yard, causing a fire around the helicopter when it was on the street.
Fog and low visibility that morning is thought to be the reason for the accident.
Ed Malinowski, an air safety inspector for the National Transportation Safety Board, said to the Otago Daily News that a preliminary report on the crash will not come out for at least a week.
"People in the home were very lucky. It very easily could have been a lot more people killed or injured in this accident," said Lt. Ron Bartholomew to WISN Milwaukee.

Crying over tainted milk

Bloomberg.com reported that four children in China have died and over 12,000 hospitalized after consuming milk tainted with melamine, a chemical used in making plastics, flame retardants and fertilizers. The number of children hospitalized has risen almost ten-fold since the China Daily's initial reports on Monday.

Melamine, according to health experts, can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure. It is strictly forbidden as a food additive. However, the China Daily reported that the chemical cleverly is able to fool quality checks, making the milk seem like it has a higher protein value than it really does.

Two brothers who sold the fresh milk used to produce the contaminated baby formula were arrested on Monday. The brothers said they knowingly added the chemical to recover from losses when a factory rejected earlier milk shipments, the China Daily reported. The brothers are charged with producing and selling toxic and hazardous food. If found guilty, the brothers could face a death sentence, the newspaper said.

Since Friday, melamine was found in milk produced by three of China's largest dairy producers, prompting stores such as Starbucks to pull milk products off their shelves, reported ABC News. While it was only powdered baby formula that was thought to have been contaminated, liquid milk, and dairy products including yogurt, have also been taken off of shelves.

ABC News reported China's product safety watchdog as having said that all batches of contaminated dairy products were being recalled in an effort to "severely punish those who are responsible."

Authorities in the United States have inspected more than 1,000 retail markets, but have not found any tainted dairy products.

September 14, 2008

Brains over beauty

Months before its projected opening date, the 35W bridge might be opening as soon as this week. And while many are applauding the bridge's quick turn-around time, not so many are as excited about its aesthetics.

According to the Star Tribune, government officials chose to go for a bridge design that was practical.

Government officials opted for practicality over pretension. "The first goal was to have a bridge that was safe and effective," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said. (Star Tribune)

But city officials also claimed that the bridge's current design helps to keep things simple.

"It doesn't stick out like a sore thumb," said Ann Calvert to the Star Tribune. Calvert is a Minneapolis city official that was part of the visual design advisory panel. "This new bridge could have been something wildly dramatic, but it also might have distracted from some of the historic and interesting features in the area," she said.

But more importantly, is the fact that despite the bridge's simplicity, it's got brains. And taking into consideration the criticisms against the department's management of the old bridge, this is good news.

The Pioneer Press reported Saturday that the $234 million bridge is rigged with sensors that will be keeping track of the bridge's performance. This means that once cars start crossing the bridge, various gauges and meters will be able to give engineers important measurements such as concrete quality, chemical levels, and movement in the bridge's joints and bearings on a daily basis. Before the use of this technology, all of this was measured by hand once every two years.

All of this information will be sent to MnDot and the University of Minnesota through fiber-optic cables to be analyzed.

This technology, which is not in widespread use, will ultimately help in the management and upkeep of the newly built bridge.

The aftermath of Ike

Yesterday afternoon, Hurricane Ike was officially downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Service . Despite this, the areas hit are still feeling the effects of Ike's wrath.

CNN reported that 1,948 people were rescued in the island town of Galveston, Texas, and the number of deaths is at eight. The City Manager of Galveston said that as of Sunday, crews were still searching the island.

However, the Telegraph reported issues with attempts to assist people during this time.

"What's really frustrating is that we can't get to them," said Tommie Mafrei, who is a Galveston police officer. (Telegraph)

Rescue teams had to face several barriers, including downed power lines, debris, and major flooding in order to help those who were trapped. The Telegraph wrote that military helicopters, boats and big-wheeled dump trucks were able to get people to safety, while some residents were able to wade themselves over to dry ground while carrying children and possessions.

The Galveston mayor ordered the island to close down, who cited the dangerous situation both on the island and the bridge leading to it from mainland Texas, which is littered with palm trees and boats.

In the urban city of Houston, Ike left a mess of torn up bus shelters, shattered skyscraper windows and pulled metal sheeting. Additionally, a quarter of US crude oil production and refining sites were forced to close down due to the hurricane.

On Sunday, president Bush declared the Texas-Louisiana coast a disaster area. He has made plans to visit the devastated areas on Tuesday. Bush additionally said the federal government would be providing water and meals for those that were displaced from their homes.

September 13, 2008

Break in attempt at presidential candidate's grandma's

In Kenya, U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama has gained popularity similar to that of any international movie celebrity or rock star. In his late father's hometown of Kogelo, buses with the Illinois senator on them or street merchants vending shirts bearing his image are not a rare sight to see.

However, the downside to all this fame became apparent to Obama's Kenyan relatives this past Thursday, when his grandma's house was the site of an attempted break in, reported CNN.

According to Said Obama, the candidate's uncle, the thieves did not manage to get into the house of grandmother Sarah Obama. Nothing was stolen, and no one was harmed.

"I just spoke to Sarah, and she's OK," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The police have been there since yesterday, and we're not worried. Everything is fine." (CNN)

Said stated that the burglars used a ladder on Wednesday morning to get onto the roof of the house, only to find all of the doors locked. According to IOL, a South African news site, a solar panel located on the roof of the home is what caught the thieves' eyes.

"These are just people ... who think that Obama has been sending me a lot of money," said Sarah, the 85-year-old step-grandmother.

The family, according to MSNBC,has tried their best to keep a low profile.

Local police promised to keep watch over the Kenyan family, adding that they might also assign a unit to specifically guard the Obamas.