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October 26, 2008

Bus crashes after driver is assaulted

According to the Star Tribune, a Metro Transit driver lost control of his bus after he was punched in the face by a passenger.

The driver was on the 22E route, in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood in South Minneapolis. He asked a group of six teenagers to settle down. After they refused to quiet down, the driver attempted to call the police, and one of them punched him.

This is at least the 13th assault on a Metro Transit driver this year.

According to the Pioneer Pressthe bus sustained extensive damages to the front and passenger sides after hitting a traffic light pole.

The driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and was treated for a bruise around one of his eyes after crashing the bus into a traffic light pole in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The bus sustained extensive damage to its front a passenger side.

The six teens fled the scene, however police were able to arrest two of the teens after the incident was reported. The two teens were taken to Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center and are expected to be charged with felony assault. The other four teens have not been found yet.

Iranian president ill with exhaustion

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is suffering from exhaustion, but reports of his illness have stirred speculation as to if he will be running for presidency next June, reported the The Los Angeles Times.

A close associate said the president became sick because of overworking, and exhaustion.

"Every human being can face exhaustion under such a workload," lawmaker Mohammed Ismail Kowsari, an ally of Ahmadinejad, said in the interview with the LA Times. "The president will eventually get well and continue his job."

Ahmadinejad missed a few public appearances last week. He however told a reporter in a televised report Sunday night that he was not ill.

The president's absences have prompted rumors that Ahmadinejad is on his way out. But Ahmadinejad's close allies said his critics are trying to use what they say is a routine illness for political advantage.

Esmail Kowsari, a member of Iran's parliament, called this "psychological warfare" aimed at creating division among fundamentalists who make up Ahmadinejad's political base. (CNN)

Gas prices make record-breaking drop

Gas prices have dropped 53 cents within the last two weeks, and may continue to do so, although at a slower pace.

According to CNN,the average price of self-serve, unleaded gas fell from $3.31 in early October to $2.78 as of last Friday. This decline could be attributed to high demand and reductions in crude prices.

In July, the price per barrel of oil was at $147. According to < href= http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/10/20/daily53.html>Phoenix Business Journal,oil prices could go as low as $45 a barrel next year, pushing the price per gallon to be under $2.50.

Phoenix Business Journal reported that the last time oil was at $45 a barrel was February 2005.

The price drop is good news for the hobbled U.S. and Arizona economies and consumers, said Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. (Phoenix Business Journal)

October 19, 2008

U of M to enforce attendance on Election Day

The University of Minnesota has made its stance clear: there will be no skipping of classes on Election Day, even if it is to go to the local polling station.

University policies may make it harder for students with busy schedules to vote. According to the University policy on Makeup Work for Legitimate Absences,voting in local, state or national elections is not an acceptable reason to miss class. (The Minnesota Daily)

The Star Tribune reported that this may cause problems for students who do not know how long it will take them at the polling stations.

University spokesman Dan Wolter said that it would be hard to believe that students would not be able to find time to vote with polling places being open 13 hours. However, he also said toThe Minnesota Daily that the decision would ultimately be up to a student's professors.

Taliban militants seige bus; dozens feared dead

Taliban militants hijacked a bus in southern Afghanistan on Thursday and executed at least 2 dozen passengers after accusing them of being soldiers in civilian clothing.

General Matiullah Qati, the police chief of Kandahar Province, where the attack occurred, said to theInternational Herald Tribune that all six of the bodies they have retrieved so far have been beheaded and mutilated. There are reports of at least 24 others, but they have yet to be found, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Many of the passengers were women and children. The incident, according to the Los Angeles Times proved the dangers of traveling in the Afghan countryside.

Authorities said the passengers were traveling in a two-bus convoy, in order to increase their safety. An earlier bus managed to speed away from militants who had set up a checkpoint, however, the second bus, which held about 50 people, was not as lucky.

The Los Angeles Times reported that violence has hit an all-time high level since the conflict began. While combatants have made up the majority of those killed, civilian deaths this year have been estimated to be more than 1300 by the United Nations.

Milkshake study shows link between brain and obesity

A study involving milkshakes may shed some light on the brain's role when it comes to obesity.

Scientists at the University of Texas, Yale University and Oregon Research Institute conducted the study on 43 women in their early 20s, and 33 female adolescents. The Financial Times reported. The women's brains were scanned as they consumed chocolate milkshakes and other drinks.

Heavier volunteers had less brain activity when they consumed the drinks than those who were leaner. Their brains released less dopamine in response to the drinks than their leaner counterparts. The amount of dopamine that is released is related to the degree of pleasure produced by the experience, meaning that some people need more food to satisfy their brain's dopamine fix.

After tracking the research participants' weights for a year, the scientists found this was most obvious in women with a genetic variation, giving them less dopamine receptors, and thus giving them a less responsive reward system in their brains. These women, according to The Financial Times, were more at risk to gain an unhealthy amount of weight over time.

These findings, according to Reuters helps to explain the biology of the obesity epidemic that is occurring.

October 12, 2008

3 school employees on paid leave after strip search controversy

Three employees in a Michigan school have been placed on a two-week paid leave after allegations that they strip searched three 7th grade female students.

According to the Lansing State Journal, the parents of three girls have told police their daughters and other girls were forced to disrobe down to their underwear while a female teacher looked for stolen money on Oct. 1.

"Some were taken down to their bra and panties and some had to pull their tops out and shake them," said mother Martha Feller to WDIV Detroit.

“It doesn't seem appropriate, let's put it that way,? Monroe Deputy Police Chief Thomas Moore said to the Detroit Free Press, “But our county prosecutor will decide if anything illegal occurred.?

Moore said between $30 and $40 had gone missing from a class where the girls were present.

The day after the incident, John Hilken, the school's principal, sent out a letter to parents stating that he acted in poor judgment, and that he should not have allowed for the strip search. Hilken was among the ones suspended.

Feller's daughter said she was humiliated by the incident. She has not returned to class since then.

"I hope that they will take them out of that school and make them pay for what they did to the children," said Feller. (WDIV Detroit)

Suspected US missile strike kills 4 in Pakistan

A suspected US missile strike killed four people and injured two others in a Pakistani tribal area late Saturday. The region was seen as a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, according to Yahoo! News.

Security officials said that a similar suspected US missile strike occurred in the same area on Thursday, and killed nine people, including six Arab militants. (Yahoo! News)

Missile strikes targeting Pakistani militants in the area in recent weeks have been blamed on the US. According to CNN, the United States is the only country that the capability to launch missiles from remote controlled drones in the area. Pakistan does not own missile-equipped drones.

CNN additionally reported that the US accused extremists for "using the area as a staging ground to attack US forces and their allies in Afghanistan."

October 5, 2008

Man fleeing robber gets hit by car

A homeless Minneapolis man died after being struck by a vehicle as he was running away from an armed robber.

According to the Star Tribune, Zachary Taylor, 47, and his friend Amanda Wandersee, 23, was standing near E. 24th Street and Portland Avenue S. early Thursday morning. A man approached the two bystanders to start a conversation pulled out a knife and attempted to rob the two.

Taylor ran into the street, where he was hit by a car. The robber fled on foot.

According to TwinCities.com, Police and emergency crews responded to the scene and found the victim in "very serious" condition. Taylor died at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Sgt. William Palmer told the Star Tribune that the driver of the vehicle is not expected to be charged.

The police have no information to work with on the suspect and are treating this case as a homicide.

Spanish police arrest 121 in child porn sting

The Spanish police have arrested 121 people in the country's biggest operation against child pornography on the internet. Millions of computer files were seized in a series of nationwide raids that involved eight-hundred police officers and more than 200 homes.

According to CNN, police are still investigating 96 others.

The BBCreported that Enrique Rodriguez, from the police's Technological Investigation Brigade, told Spanish radio that the network was enormous, involving 18,000 IP addresses across the world, including 1,600 in Spain.

According to the BBC, 1,200 people have been arrested for child pornography in Spain in the past five years.

Two of the people arrested photographed their nephews, who were under 10 years of age, according to Manuel Vazquez. Vazquez, is the national police chief of the technology investigative brigade.

The suspects have all been charged with distributing pornographic material. If they are convicted, they can face up to eight years of prison.

Obama accusing Mccain of smear tactics

Sen. Barack Obama said on Sunday that Sen. John Mccain's campaign is focusing more on "swift boat-style" attacks rather than focusing on the real problems, such as the economy.

"Sen. McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance. They'd rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up," Obama said at an event in Asheville, North Carolina. (CNN)

Obama was not specifically referring to specific remarks, however, these comments come a day after the Republican vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists." According to Yahoo! News, Palin was referring to a New York Times story on Saturday that examined Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam-era militant Weather Underground organization who is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

With just a month left before the November general election, CNN said both parties have stepped up campaigning and intensified attacks on one another.

"The last four weeks of this election will be about whether the American people are willing to turn our economy and national security over to Barack Obama, a man with little record, questionable judgment, and ties to radical figures like unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement to CNN.