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November 30, 2008

Drive by shooting leaves man dead

According to the Star Tribune, two men were shot on Saturday morning in a drive-by-attack on the 1400 block of Dowling Avenue in north Minneapolis.

One of the victims died at the scene, while the other was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale to get treatment for a non-life threatening gunshot wound. (Fox 9)

Neither of the victims' names have been released.

The Star Tribune reported that at approximately 3 a.m., an SUV carrying two men was stopped at the intersection of Fremont and Dowling Avenues when another car pulled up and someone in the second car fired several shots at the SUV.

The victims' car travelled for another 2 blocks before crashing into a house. No one from the house was injured.

This is the second shooting to occur within three days.

Zimbabwe government sued over cholera outbreak

A group of Zimbabweans are taking a government department to court for failing to provide proper health care and clean water for its citizens.

According to Zimbabwe health officials, 425 people have died of cholera since the country's epidemic broke out in September. More than 11,000 people have been affected, and health officials are worried this will worsen with the upcoming rainy season. (Associated Press)

According to CNN, a group of citizens filed an application on Friday in the High Court. They are suing the government-run Zimbabwe National Water Authority. This organization is responsible for supplying water to the country.

According to CNN, this is the worst humanitarian crisis the country has experienced since it attained independence from Great Britain 28 years ago.

Medical professionals are blaming the cholera epidemic on the lack of clean water in many parts of the country. Some areas require its residents to get water from shallow wells or contaminated rivers. (CNN)

According to the Associated Press, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has accused the government of trying to downplay the impact of the outbreak.

The AP additionally reported that cholera has spread into South Africa, prompting international health agencies to launch emergency relief efforts to prevent it from becoming a pandemic.

CNN reported the economic meltdown of Zimbabwe has had a large impact on the country's current predicament.

Zimbabwe used to boast one of Africa's most vibrant economies; it is now in a state of collapse.

Hyperinflation, mass unemployment and commodity shortages are just a few of the country's other problems, and all factor into the country's inability to import adequate chemicals to treat drinking water.

Man trampled to death on Black Friday

A temporary Wal-mart employee was trampled by a crowd of more than 2,000 customers as he was unlocking doors on Friday.

According to CNN, 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour's death could have been prevented.

"This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart," said Bruce Both, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500. (CNN)

The crowd, according to the New York Times, was restless. The police had to be called at 3:30 a.m. for crowd control. As opening time neared, the crowd became worse. Fists banged against the sliding-glass doors, as people pushed. Six to 10 employees worked to keep the doors closed, but were unable to. Police were nowhere in sight.

Witnesses and police said that the doors suddenly shattered and the mob rushed into the store in search of holiday bargains. Damour was thrown against the floor and trampled by the crowd. According to the Times, he was pronounced dead an hour later. Customers became irate when the store announced it was closing down due to the death.

Four others were brought to the hospital to get treatment for minor injuries.

"This incident was avoidable," Both said. "Where were the safety barriers? Where was security? How did store management not see dangerous numbers of customers barreling down on the store in such an unsafe manner?"

According to the Washington Post, the Nassau County police are reviewing surveillance tapes of the accident in an effort to find out who trampled Damour to death.

Criminal charges are possible, however, identifying individual shoppers in the video may be a challenge, Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, a Nassau County police spokesman, said to the Washington Post.

November 23, 2008

Denny Hecker closes 6 dealerships

The St. Louis Park based car dealership, Denny Hecker, announced Friday night that six of their Twin Cities dealerships would be closing and three others would be sold. Approximately 400 employees will lose their jobs as a result of this.

The Hecker Automotive group said the poor economy and auto industry crisis is forcing them to make this decision. The dealerships that will be affected are those kocated in Blaine, Forest lake, Monticello, Roseville, Shakopee, and Stillwater. Inver Grove Heights Hyundai, Inver Grove Heights Volkswagen and Peninsula Dodge are being sold, and will be closed until their purchases are finalized.

According to WCCO, Denny Hecker Automotive Group President Barbara Jerich said Friday, "The decision to realign our dealership came as we found ourselves in the midst of a 'perfect storm' of economic bad news: a financial crisis on Wall street, chaos in the housing market, consumer confidence at all time low, and the sight of the Big Three on their knees in Washington asking for a bailout loan."

South African teen faces life in prison for racist murders

A white South African has been convicted of killing four black people, in a shooting spree in January. A judge sentenced 19-year-old Johan Nel to four life terms in jail.

According to CNN, Nel also targeted 11 others when he committed the crimes early this year. He was 18 at the time.

Nel will also be sentenced to 68 years for 11 counts of attempted murder, five years for possessing a firearm without a license, and three years for possessing ammunition, also without a license.

Frikke Pretorius, Nel's attorney, said Nel killed a mother and her infant, a 70-year-old man, and a 10-year old boy. Witnesses of the shootings claimed Nel was screaming out racist terms as he was shooting. Nel pled guilty to the crimes.

The BBC additionally reported that the killings prompted many protests, including those from South Africa's white population threatening to kill Judge Ronald Hendricks if he sentenced Nel to life in prison.

Missing girl found in teacher's closet

A 17-year-old missing teenager was found hiding in the closet of a male teacher's home near Chicago, according to Fox News. The girl was found after the teacher told police he did not know where she was.

Eric Wood, 24, teaches at a middle school in Waukegan, Ill. He was charged with the obstruction of justice, for lying to police about the girl's whereabouts.

The girl's family reported her missing on Nov. 8. According to Chicago Breaking News,the girl was found the following day in the teacher's home.

Wood and the girl met in July at a Milwaukee car show. The two had been in contact since then. However, the girl's family said the two are nothing more than friends.

Wood is expected to appear in Lake County Circuit Court on Dec. 9.

November 16, 2008

Student lies about bomb threat

A University of Minnesota student could face criminal charges after reporting a false bomb threat. The student claimed that she overheard three Somali males plotting to bomb Anderson Hall and the Hubert H. Humphrey Center on Tuesday morning.

According to the Star Tribune, once the threat was determined to be a hoax, building inspections stopped and the building reopened at approximately 8:30 a.m.

The student, who is white and 19 years old, described the people she overheard as "three Somali males" who also had classes Tuesday morning in those buildings, said University Police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner to the Star Tribune.

Miner said there are issues surrounding why the student chose to describe the "suspects" as Somali men.

Authorities are still deciding whether the student will be disciplined.

People across the nation rally against Prop. 8

Across the nation, thousands of gay rights advocates gathered on Saturday to protest laws banning same-sex marriage. These rallies came almost two weeks after California, Arizona and Florida voters passed ballot initiatives that restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

"Rain or shine, our community will take to the streets to get the word out that equality is a human right and one that we will not stop working toward until it's afforded to all citizens," said Willow Witte, a JoinTheImpact.com founder and organizer. (CNN)

In California, Proposition 8 overturned a ruling made in May by the California Supreme Court that struck down a 2000 ban on same-sex unions. It passed 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

Protests in California have been held in multiple cities, including Long Beach, San Diego, and Palm Springs. Demonstrators also gathered in Boston, New York and other cities across the nation.

According to the Los Angeles Times,there was an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people in attendance. This number was well below the expected 40,000. However, for an event that started off on Facebook, protesters called the event a success.

A representative of the Proposition 8 campaign told the LA Times that the protests would have little effect. "They can protest all they like, and it doesn't change the fact that Prop. 8 has passed and the election is now over," said Frank Schubert, manager for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

Japan enters recession

Japan, the world's second largest economy after the United States, is in a recession. According to MarketWatch.com, this is the first time Japan has been in a recession since 2001.

Declining overseas demand, according to Market Watch, accounted for a considerable percentage of Japan's fall in the rate of its gross domestic product growth. As other countries face similar financial issues, Japan's automobile and electronics markets are being affected, reported the Associated Press.

However, Glenn Maguire, an Asia-Pacific economist with Societe Generale in Hong Kong, said that Japan's improved employment policies, limited financial leverage, and generally lean industrial sector all are factors that will help cushion Japan's economy in its fall.

In an effort to help Japan's ill economy, Prime Minister Taro Aso has unveiled two economic stimulus packages since taking office in September. This includes his latest proposal of a 27 trillion-yen ($275.7 billion) package that involves expanded credits for small businesses and a total of 2 trillion-yen ($20.4 billion) in cash disbursements to households.

Japan's banks have joined central banks around the world in bringing down borrowing costs. The Bank of Japan, for instance, cut its key interest rate for the first time in more than seven years.

November 9, 2008

City settles with dogbite victim

The city of Minneapolis agreed to settle a lawsuit brought forward by a woman that was attacked by a bulldog last year. On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay $367,000 to Paula Ybarra. The dog that had attacked her was previously declared dangerous by the city, but was never confiscated or put down.

According to the Star Tribune, she is still awaiting the results of a pending lawsuit against the dog's owner, who is also a friend of hers.

Since May, when Ybarra filed the lawsuit, she has accumulated more than $225,000 in medical expenses. She sued the city and her friend on behalf of herself and two of her daughters, who witnessed the attack. Ybarra's daughters, ages 4 and 9 at the time of the attack, have since received counseling.

According to WCCO.com, Ybarra was attacked at a friend's house, which she was helping paint.

When she went inside with her youngest daughter, who needed to use the bathroom, she was attacked by the 160-pound dog. It bit her in the neck, damaging her windpipe, a major artery, and her voice box.

When rescue workers arrived to assist Ybarra, she was not breathing. This was not the first time that Bobo, the bulldog, had attacked anyone. He had previously been declared dangerous by the city for attacking a young child.

Shelters struggling to accommodate homeless

Homeless shelters across the nation are seeing a surge in the amount of people needing their services.

Shelters in Hartford, Conn., according to the city's local news channel Eyewitness News, are filling to capacity. Those in charge of running the shelter are afraid they won't be able to accommodate everyone once the weather becomes colder.

A local Hartford shelter's officials said that in the last 10 years, they have gone from serving 7,000 meals a month to 13,000. In recent days, they have seen this number become noticeably worse, they told Eyewitness News.

According to The Herald, South Carolina is seeing the same trend, and homeless shelter officials are pinpointing the cause as being the nation's troubled economic times.

Shelters across York County, South Carolina are expecting a dramatic increase in the number of people that will be asking them for help in the next few months as well, as more of its residents are facing eviction and home foreclosure.

Shelters across York County expect a surge in demand as the weather turns colder and more people face the prospect of evictions and home foreclosures.

The Herald reported that is is not a problem that a few cities are facing, but rather one that everyone is seeing. According to the newspaper, each of the nation's 12 largest cities has seen a jump in the number of people they are serving.

Local advocates are planning on addressing this issue during National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, which begins Monday.

Haiti school collapses

A three-story school in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti collapsed Friday morning during a celebration of the school's birthday. According to CNN.com, the accident left 84 dead, and 150 injured. It is unknown exactly how many people remain trapped among the rubble.

On Sunday, relatives of those trapped within the College La Promesse Evangelique picked at the ruins with shovels and picks in hopes of rescuing their loved ones. They were eventually pushed away by police, who cited safety concerns. CNN.com reported that U.S. and French rescue teams were fearful that the vibrations from power generators would cause the concrete at the site to shake loose, and cause more casualties.

Approximately 700 people were at the scene when the school collapsed, however, another source claimed there were as few as 250, meaning that the actual number of those trapped is only a portion of the estimated 100-200.

Officials said that most of the students ranged from ages 10-20, however, some of the students were much younger than that. Since the accident, 4 children have been rescued.

Fortin Augustin, the school's owner turned himself in, and was questioned by authorities on Sunday. According to The Straits Times, Augustin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Haiti's president ,Rene Preval, has visited the school three times since its collapse. He told the Straits Times that poor construction and a lack of steel reinforcements were likely to be the cause of the collapse, and warned that structures throughout Haiti run a similar risk.

November 2, 2008

Fake Anthrax package sent to Pioneer Press

The St. Paul Pioneer Press was the latest target in a string of anthrax scares across the nation when it received a package on Saturday afternoon containing a suspicious white powder along with other items in an envelope labeled "anthrax" and "biohazard".

Initial tests have determined that the powder was sugar, reported the Star Tribune.

Pete Crum, St. Paul police spokesman, told the Star Tribune that the package will be sent on to the FBI, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for further investigation.

The envelope additionally contained a CD with a photo of Gen. Colin Powell labeled "Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror".

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune received a similar package on Thursday.

Last Wednesday, the FBI arrested a California man on suspicion of being responsible for sending more than 120 fake anthrax letters to various news outlets across the nation.

Indonesia passes anti-porn bill

A controversial and long-debated anti-porn bill was passed on Thursday by Indonesia's parliament.

According to the BBC, Islamic parties said the law was necessary, in order to protect women and children, and to support Indonesian societal morals. The law would ban images, gestures, or talk considered to be pornographic.

The opposition argues that the law violates both personal and cultural freedoms. Additionally, many are questioning the interpretation and implementation of the new law.

ABC News reports that violation of the law would result in up to 12 years in prison or up to $750,000 in fines.

Critics also do not appreciate a provision in the bill that allows the general public to participate in preventing the spread of obscenity.

"We're worried it will be used by hard-liners who say they want to control morality," Baby Jim Aditya, a women's rights activist, told Associated Press news agency. (BBC)

12-year-old dies while trick-or-treating

An ex-convict, who thought he was being robbed, shot a 12-year-old trick-or-treater Friday night in Sumter, South Carolina. According to CNN.com, more than 30 rounds were fired from an assault rifle after the gunman heard a knock on his door.

The boy, T.J. Darrisaw, died that night. He suffered from multiple gunshot wounds, including a fatal one to the head. T.J.'s 9-year-old brother Ahmadre, and their father, Freddie Grinnell, were injured. They were released after being treated at a hospital. (CNN)

Quentin Patrick, 22, was charged with murder and assault and battery. Patrick had been robbed and shot before.

"He wasn't going to be robbed again, and he wasn't going to be shot again," Sumter police chief Patty Patterson told the Associated Press. (BBC)

According to the BBC, the family was returning from a Halloween party. When they saw that Patrick's front porch lights were on, TJ, his two brothers, and their father went up to ask for candy.Two of the boys were wearing costumes.

"This is by far one of the worst tragedies that I have had to personally experience," Patterson said to the Associated Press (CNN). "It happened basically because kids were out doing what they would normally do on Halloween."