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December 7, 2008

OJ Simpson sentenced to prison

OJ Simpson was sentenced on Saturday to nine to 33 years in prison for robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint. According to the Associated Press, Simpson, 61, faced a Nevada judge for his September 2007 Las Vegas crime.

According to ABC news, it wasn't originally clear how much time the former football star would serve in prison.

Simpson was sentenced to 16 years in prison for kidnapping, and another three for assault. He will be eligible for parole after six years in prison on the kidnapping charges, and could be eligible for release after nine years.

Judge Jackie Glass did not answer to Simpson's attorneys' pleas for leniency in the case, and denied his request to be released on bail pending his appeal, citing that Simpson was a flight risk.

According to the Associated Press, Simpson will be treated like any other inmate while in prison.

Howard Skolnik, director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, said, "The only issue might be whether we have to provide a little more protective custody because of his notoriety, at least at the start."

Simpson could be moved within his first week to High Desert State Prison, located approximately 45 miles from Las Vegas, although it is unlikely due to the fact that Simpson was not under a life sentence.

November 30, 2008

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

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

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.


November 9, 2008

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.

November 2, 2008

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."


October 26, 2008

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

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)

October 5, 2008

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.

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.

September 21, 2008

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.

September 14, 2008

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.