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October 26, 2008

Free Dr. Pepper for Everyone!

Soda producer Dr. Pepper will follow through with its promise to give everyone in America a free 20 oz. Dr. Pepper on Nov. 23, the reported release date for Guns'N'Roses long awaited album, "Chinese Democracy."

The company had promised earlier this year that they would give everyone in the country one free drink if Axl Rose, the singer for the famed rock band Guns'N'Roses, would finally release his album. The wager came after years of controversy surrounding the album in which is has been promised to be released multiple times and then never appeared.

A spokesman for Dr. Pepper released a statement with directions for Dr. Pepper drinkers to claim the free drink on the date of album's release, pending it actually is released.

The production of "Chinese Democracy" has been over a decade in the making and seen the come and go of numerous studio and live musicians in the ever fickle Rose's quest to produce the ultimate rock album. Whether or not it lives up to the reported $13 million invested into it remains to be seen.

18-year-old Shot and Killed in St. Paul DoubleShooting

An 18-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man were shot near at Sixth Street East and Forest Street Saturday night in St. Paul, leaving the woman dead and the man hospitalized.

The Star Tribune reported that St. Paul police responded to a call around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night and discovered the two victims at a gas station near Minnehaha Avenue and Arcade Street. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene while the man was taken to Regions Hospital.

The man's condition is unknown, and it is also unknown whether the two were in the vehicle they were discovered in at the time they were shot, reports the Pioneer Press. A police spokesman noted that one of the windows of the victims' vehicle was "shot out pretty good."

No one is in custody at this point, though the Gang Unit and homicide detectives are investigating.

News Anchor Succumbs to Injuries

CNN affiliate KATV anchorwoman Anne Pressly died Saturday from injuries she sustained after a savage beating earlier in the week.

reported that Pressly had been hospitalized and sedated in intensive care, suffering from brain swelling and broken bones. Though doctors had said her condition seemed to be improving yesterday, Pressly took a turn for the worse Saturday night.

Her family was with her in her final moments, both grieving over the loss of Pressly and finding comfort in the fact that she was with "her heavenly father".

Pressly, 26, is thought to have been the victim of a burglary, police thought; however, Guy Cannady, her father, seemed to think the attack in which Pressly suffered severe trauma to her head and face, was more than random. He cited the brutality of the beating as evidence for more than just a simple burglary.

Fox News reported that Pressly was discovered Monday morning in her home by her mother after failing to answer her normal 4 a.m. wake-up call. Pressly reached national audiences earlier this week in a small role in director Oliver Stone's new movie "W" in which she gives a favorable report of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech.

KATV opened its nightly newscast Saturday with a seven minute tribute to the fallen anchor.

Thousands Flee as Congo Rebels Seize Army Camp

Rebel soldiers under the command of renegade general Laurent Nkunda routed a government army base Sunday and fortified their position in a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday.

The BBC reported that the Rumangabo camp fell for the second time today, despite military efforts to maintain control. Along with Rumangabo, Nkunda's soldiers also seized control of the headquarters of Virunga National Park, home to some of the world's last mountain gorillas, an endangered species.

Though the rebels had defeated nearly 1,500 government troops at Rumangabo three weeks ago, their victory there today was "unprecedented" and complete.

Nkunda, who was part of a peace treaty signing in January, continues to battle with government and U.N. forces in the region on the grounds of protecting the country's Tutsi minority. He has said he will not relinquish his arms until roaming Hutu rebels leave the area.

In a scene echoing that of Rwanda, over 200,000 thousand civilians fled the area. Nearly 18,000 U.N. troops are in the country to provide aid and secure peace, reported the Associated Press; however, both civilians and rebels have accused the U.N. of assisting either side and relations between all parties continue to be strained.

One U.N. soldier required two life-saving surgeries to repair his face after a rock hurled by a civilian crushed his nose. Despite the surgeries, he will be disfigured for the rest of his life, reported a U.N. spokesperson.

1.2 million people have been displaced since fighting between Nkunda, the government, and several other miscellaneous rebel parties resumed in 2007.

October 19, 2008

Advance Analysis

The writer of the advance written for the Houston Clinic that appeared in the La Crosse Tribune on Sunday did not take a whole lot of time to make a story out of the advance; however, he did present the facts.

The story is summed up in the first line, stating that the Houston Clinic opens on Monday. It then goes on with a brief background that this is Gundersen Lutheran's first clinic in the town, and that it's opening after Franciscan Skemp closed their clinic there in February. The advance ends with a message to pick up a copy of Monday's Tribune for more information.

The story is basic, has no real draw for the reader, and is likely something to be skimmed over by anyone not in the town of 1,000 people. On the plus side, though, it clearly presents most of the facts, and alerts the reader to where they can find more information.

U of M Enforces Absent Policy

Students at the University of Minnesota who were hoping to get away from class to place a vote for their candidates of choice on Nov. 6 will have to plan ahead, the Associated Press reports.

According to the U's policy, missing a class to go and vote does not classify as a circumstance warranting an excusable absence. Instead, students who skip class will receive an inexcused absence and forfeit the right to make up the things they missed due on that day.

The U encourages students to vote, however, and has reassured students that polls will be open for 13 hours on election day, giving students plenty of time to make their way to vote without missing class.

Schools and Housing Hit Hard in St. Paul

The city of St. Paul has been hit hard recently with questions abounding about both education and meeting the needs of the increasing amount of homeless students affected by the housing market slump.

The Star Tribune reports that recent board meetings have declared St. Paul's junior high education system "doomed" and in need of drastic change. According to recent statistics, the St. Paul school district looses over 200 out of its 5,000 students between seventh and eighth grade, a number that remains higher than enrollment loses in any other district.

In other related news, the Pioneer Press added that on top of enrollment loses, the St. Paul school district is also witnessing a jump in the number of students who are homeless. That number is attributed to both the economy and the slumping housing market.

Administrators are expecting the number of homeless students to top 2,000 by the end of year, a statistic that has never been seen before by officials or family help agencies in the area. The East Side Family Center has reported receiving 30 to 35 calls per day from families with problems paying their bills.

The problem is leaving the already taxed school district with even less money, as funding spent on transportation and aid to help their homeless students is not replaced by federal assistance.

St. Paul is not alone, however, as Minneapolis is seeing a rise in its student homelessness as well.

For now, it remains a problem linked to a struggling economy and families in distress.

Powell Endorses Obama

The political world was abuzz Sunday with the announcement by former Secretary of State Colin Powell that he supports Ill. Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Powell, who served under the Republican Bush Administration, cited Obama's ability to inspire and his being a transformational figure as reasons for deciding to vote for the Democrat in November, CNN reported. Powell also voiced his dislike for the negative tone of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

McCain responded by saying that it was "no surprise" his longtime friend had decided to go with the Obama camp this year. He added he was pleased with the hundreds of other retired generals and admirals who do support his campaign.

Fox News reported that a big factor in Powell's decision related to each candidates stance on the economy. Powell was quoted as saying he felt Obama seemed more secure in his plan, while McCain appeared to be unsteady and unsure to him.

Powell's endorsement of Obama had been rumored in the months leading up to his announcement Sunday.

Taliban Strikes Again Leaving Over Two Dozen Dead

The Taliban struck again in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar on Thursday in an attack that left at least 27 people dead, including one child.

The BBC reports that the increasingly violent Taliban ambushed three buses on Thursday with an intent to kill any government soldiers. One of the three buses did not stop, however, prompting the militants to fire upon it. The gunfire resulted in the death of a child on the bus, though the bus was able to flee.

Two of the buses were stopped and boarded by the Taliban, with at least 50 people being questioned. Out of the 50, 27 were found to be Afghan soldiers and were either shot or beheaded by the Taliban terrorists. The remaining 23 passengers were freed.

The New York Times reported that the entire event remains unclear due to conflicting reports from numerous sources. A spokesman for the Taliban assured a world audience that those executed held government papers, were soldiers, and were executed for that reason. Afghan officials, however, maintain that all those aboard the buses were civilians (mostly women and children), and that they could not have been soldiers because Afghanistan's soldiers only travel by plane or in a convey.

The matter is still under investigation, and comes after a long year of violence in the country. It's estimated that 4,000 people have died this year due to violence, a third of them civilians.

October 13, 2008

Wildfires Hit California...Again

In what is quickly becoming routine news, wildfires broke out in Southern California over the weekend.

Just 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, firefighters were battling a blaze that had torched 750 acres, destroyed two homes, and forced 1,200 people to evacuate the region, Fox News reports. The fire was 20% contained as of Sunday, with a local animal reserve having been evacuated and helicopters and planes assisting the firefighters by dropping water over the blaze.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation.

Meanwhile, a second wildfire was declared contained near Napa Valley. Though this second blaze had destroyed over 300 acres of land and threatened the numerous wineries located near Napa Valley, fire officials were confident the fire had been successfully halted as of Sunday, CNN reports.

That fire was caused when a rock struck by a car ignited some brush. The evacuation orders for the Napa Valley region were lifted as of Sunday, allowing 100 people to return to their homes.

Christians Flee from Persecution in Mosul

The bullet-riddled bodies of 7 Iraqi Christians have become the straw that has broken the camels back in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Recent kidnappings and specific targeting of Christians has led to cries of outrage and a call for action by Christian leaders in a country struggling to rebuild.

Louis Sako, the current Archbishop of Mosul, said that the targeting of Christians and string of recent attacks is only damaging national unity, Fox News reports. He emphasized that the Christians in Iraq seek to live in peace with their Islamic neighbors and to work together to rebuild their war-torn country.

Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki promised to provide protection for the persecuted Christian citizens of Iraq, and, working with local church authorities, has set up checkpoints around Mosul's four largest Christian areas, the BBC reports.

Though violence between those claiming to be Muslims and those claiming to be Christians goes back for centuries, the specific murders occurring in Iraq today are believed to be being carried out by Sunni extremists. And, according to the BBC, the situation in Mosul is only getting worse despite efforts by US-Coalition forces.

It is estimated that roughly 3% of Iraq's 26 million people are Christian, or about 800,000.

October 12, 2008

Press Release

In a press release issued by Citigroup, the company's executives stated their initial willingness to save the dying bank Wachovia and help stabilize the crashing financial market. Despite their intentions, rival Wells Fargo ended up consuming Wachovia recently.

This led to Citigroup feeling it has the right to sue Wells Fargo for damages incurred with their investors and stockholders being mislead and thinking they could stand to gain from the merger with Wachovia.

A news article on the topic by the Wall Street Journal was written with the facts, straightforward and unbiased. The author of the article used quotes from government officials, Citi executives, Wells Fargo, and Wachovia.

The facts presented included the initial plan to merge Wachovia with Citi, the new plan of Wells Fargo absorbing Wachovia, and Citi's frustration with the outcome of the situation. The story also included government officials' input, which is warranted, as the government has had to take multiple steps and intervene with not only this situation, but also the massive mess that has been created in the financial market as of late.

Mailman Bitten By Snake

Despite the classical stereotype of rowdy dogs chasing down hapless mailmen, Tampa, Fl., mailman Efraim Arango found himself victim to not a dog, but a snake on Friday.

Arango was reaching into a mailbox to deliver mail when the snake, presumably an eastern diamonback rattlesnake, latched onto his arm, Fox News and the Associated Press report.

He continued to deliver mail for 30 more minutes before seeking help at a local hospital.

Former State Senator Allen Spear Dies

Former Minn. senator Allen Spear died Sunday from complications that followed a recent heart surgery. he was 71-years-old.

Allen, who was in the Minnesota senate for 38 years (1972-2000) was known for being one of the first openly gay legislators in the country when he announced he was gay in a 1974 interview, the Star Tribune reports.

Allen's work in the senate included an effort on eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation that culminated in an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights act. Though Allen's battle to amend that act began in the 1970s, it was not passed until 1993.

Allen also spent his time focusing on child care improvements and crime prevention issues, the Pioneer Press reports. He was formerly a professor of history at the University of Minnesota.

October 6, 2008

Suicide Bomber Kills 11

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a private home during a raid by American soldiers, the BBC reports.

The attack happened in the Iraqi city of Mosul, a town that has been described as one of al-Qaeda's last strongholds in the county of Iraq.

Three women and three children were listed among the dead.

3 Killed From Fumes in Minneapolis

A gas generator was determined to be the cause in the deaths of three Minneapolis men.

Harold Barnett, 44, his 14-year-old son, and a family friend were found unconscious in their home after spending the evening with a gasoline powered generator running through the night, reports the Star Tribune.

Both Barnett and his friend were pronounced dead at the scene while his son later died at the hospital.

A spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy later said that running a gas-powered generator in ones home would be equivalent to running a car inside ones house.

The story comes as a solemn warning to others and a reminder of the lengths some have to go to heat their homes as the cold season arrives. Barnett was on the verge of being evicted, reports the Pioneer Press, and had resorted to the gas generator due to financial hardship.

O.J. Simpson Found Guilty

Just 13 years after hearing the words "not guilty" when charged with double homicide, former football star O.J. Simpson listened to a jury declare him guilty on 12 different charges including armed robbery and kidnapping.

Simpson now faces life behind bars depending on the sentence he will receive now that he's been found guilty. He is sentenced to be scheduled on Dec. 5 according to CNN. The jury reached its decision after deliberating for 13 hours in a case based on accusations that Simpson had used force to retrieve sports memorabilia that he claimed had been stolen from him.

Simpson will spend now until Dec. 5 isolated from other prisoners for his own safety, being allowed to see only family members and a few friends on a special list, Fox News reports.

In the meantime, Simpson will focus on filing an appeal of the guilty verdict and will be seeking a new trial.

Nearly 800 Are Killed in Haiti After Months of Storms

Four major storms between August and September left almost 800 people dead in the poverty-stricken republic of Haiti.

The combined forces of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike wreaked havoc on the poorest nation in the Americas and caused the deaths of 793 people, according to the BBC. The country is susceptible to mudslides and flooding due to heavy deforestation.

The New York Times reports that despite suffering being a norm in Haiti, life has become unbearable in certain cities where every house was wiped out by water, paving the way for disease and starvation.

The hurricane season is still officially under way, leaving the already hopeless Haitians with no reason to be optimistic about their futures.