April 29, 2007

Feud interrupts service of St. Paul bus shooting victim

A service for Earl Freeman, the teen killed on a St. Paul city bus, was interrupted by an ongoing feud between groups of youths.

A church service was to be held Friday for Freeman, 16.

Seventeen-year-old Jerome Cross has been charged with second-degree murder in Freeman's death. He has denied the shooting. His family and friends say he is innocent. Prosecutor’s claim the shooting on the bus happened after two groups had fought.

Police will not comment on whether the fights or the shooting were gang related.

Raiders send WR Moss to Patriots

Randy Moss was traded to the Patriots for a fourth-round choice Sunday, a huge discount from the trade Oakland made to acquire him two years ago, John Clayton writes.

Moss passed his physical after arriving in New England on Sunday morning, and now Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be passing him the ball next season in one of the most dynamic and electric quarterback-wide receiver combinations that has ever played in the NFL.

Moss made it clear he didn't want to come back to Oakland for a third season even if it meant giving up some of his $10 million salary. He was on his third head coach and was staring at a new leader who was basically his age. Lane Kiffin is 31. Moss is 30. Moss didn't show up at the minicamp. If he showed up in training camp, it would only be in body, not mind.

Moss already has agreed to dramatically restructure his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $9.75 million this coming season. New England was the one and only place Moss would agree to take a reduced contract, and he did so knowing that he would have the chance to win a Super Bowl. With the offseason that New England has had, no team in football has a better chance.

Kidnapped Chinese workers freed in Ethiopia

Seven Chinese oil workers and two Africans were released yesterday by an Ethiopian rebel group that attacked a Chinese oil exploration facility last week.

"We have released the Chinese at 2:00 pm (1630 IST) today to the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)," said Abderahmane Mahdi, the London-based spokesman for the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

One of the civilians released was believed to be Ethiopian, while the nationality of the other African was not immediately known. The rebel group, the ONLF, said all of the Chinese citizens were in good health and had been treated well.

The Ethiopian Information Ministry confirmed their release and again accused arch-foe Eritrea, with whom they have a long-running border dispute, of being behind the raid.

Three die in mall shooting

Three people, including a gunman, have been killed and at least two others wounded in a shooting at a shopping centre in Missouri, US police say.

Kansas City police said a man, whom they did not immediately identify, pulled into a car park outside the mall that was filled with "hundreds and hundreds" of shoppers and immediately fatally shot two people who were parked on each side of him.

The gunman went into the mall and wounded at least two other people, according to Sergeant Tony Sanders.

The assailant was later found dead, but it was not immediately clear if he was shot by police.

Police are also investigating whether an earlier killing at a house not far away from the centre and also a shooting in which a policeman was injured involved the gunman.

The gunman's identity was not immediately released.

April 22, 2007

Judge blocks ex-Pioneer Press executive from starting Star Tribune

A Ramsey County judge on Friday blocked a former St. Paul Pioneer Press executive from starting her new job at the Star Tribune, saying it's clear the new job would violate a non-compete agreement.

Judge David C. Higgs granted a Pioneer Press request for a temporary restraining order to keep Jennifer Parratt from becoming director of niche publications at the Star Tribune.

The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the Pioneer Press over former publisher Par Ridder, who defected to become the Star Tribune's publisher and CEO last month. The Pioneer Press lawsuit alleges that Ridder broke a non-compete agreement and that he handed over sensitive data about finances, advertising, and circulation.

The restraining order granted Friday required the judge to decide which side was more likely to be right about Parratt's non-compete agreement. The Star Tribune will get a chance to argue against it at an injunction hearing scheduled for June 18.

Falluja council chairman shot dead

The Fallujah city council chairman, Sami Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili, a critic of al-Qaida who took the job after his three predecessors were assassinated, was killed on Saturday.

Abdul-Amir al-Jumaili was gunned down by attackers in a passing car as he was walking outside his home in central Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, according to police.

The 65-year-old Sunni sheikh was the fourth city council chairman to be killed in some 14 months as fighters target fellow Sunnis willing to co-operate with the US and its Iraqi partners.

His assassination came a month after he raised his hand to take the dangerous job, promising to improve services and to work with the Americans to ease traffic-clogging checkpoints in the city with a population of an estimated 150,000 to 200,000.

Edwards Embarrassed About $400 Haircuts

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards says he is embarrassed about his much-discussed $400 haircut.

Campaign records show the Edwards campaign paid a Beverly Hills stylist $400 to cut the candidate's hair. Edwards said the high-dollar cuts were a simple product of being on the run and ordering up services at the drop of a hat.

"I knew it would be expensive. I didn't know it would be that expensive to have him come over," Edwards told The Associated Press in an interview Friday. "The cost was ridiculous."

The cost of Edwards' haircuts has taken attention away from his plans for revitalizing rural America, which he hoped would dominate his latest campaign swing through Iowa.

April 15, 2007

Ex-Phish Frontman Takes Plea Deal Bait

The former Phish frontman, Trey Anastasio, 42, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony drug charge stemming from a Dec. 15 traffic arrest in Whitehall, New York, and was ordered into a drug court program in lieu of jail time.

Anastasio pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. He admitted that he was in possession of Vicodin, Percocet, heroin and Xanax when he was pulled over in Whitehall.

Under the drug court program, Anastasio will spend 12 to 15 months making weekly court appearances. He will also be subject to drug testing and will have to perform community service.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to a seven-count indictment that included three felonies and carried a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

"I feel terrible about what happened last night, and I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment I have caused my friends, family and fans," Anastasio said at the time of the incident.

Man lied about child being abandoned

St. Paul police said Saturday that the man who reported finding a toddler abandoned on a Frogtown street corner was supposed to be caring for the boy, whose mother is in jail.

Chou Xiong, 44, called police around 4pm Thursday to report he found a child, between 18 months and 2 years old, abandoned on the corner of Kent Street and Edmund Avenue.

Police say Xiong is the boy's stepfather who was supposed to be caring for the child because the boy's mother is currently in the Ramsey County Jail. Thirty-three year old Zia Yang was arrested Wednesday night on an outstanding warrant for felony forgery and theft.

Police spokesman Tom Walsh said Xiong admitted the hoax early Saturday after relatives, who had seen some of the media coverage of the story, pressured him to tell the truth.

The boy remains in the custody of Ramsey County child protection services.

Investigators from St. Paul and Ramsey County will start the process on Monday to decide whether to press any charges.

Bail set for teen charged with killing baby

Bail is set at $1 million for the 17-year-old Oakdale teenager, Nicole Beecroft, accused of stabbing her newborn to death, authorities said.

Authorities said Beecroft gave birth to a baby girl on Monday in her Oakdale home and then threw the baby in a trash can after she stabbed her more than 130 times.

An autopsy determined the infant had been born alive, but suffered numerous puncture wounds in the chest area and bled to death.

According to the criminal complaint Beecroft hid her pregnancy from family and friends. No one knew. Not even her mother. Beecroft told police she panicked.

Beecroft said nothing during her appearance in Washington County District Court. She was returned to juvenile detention, with her next court appearance set for April 27th.

Illegal torch sparked mine blast

The improper use of a cutting torch ignited an underground methane gas explosion in Harlan, Kentucky that killed five coal miners last year, and the mine operator was fined $336,000 for the violations, federal investigators said late Thursday.

MSHA found that the 5 men died in a rogue operation, where basic safety standards and practices were ignored.

Kentucky Darby Mine No. 1 violated six safety and health laws, including the torch and flawed construction of the safety barrier that caused the blast at Darby Mine No. 1, according to the report.

The agency also found 37 other violations not directly related to the explosion.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration met with the miners' family members to discuss their investigation of the deadly blast before their report was released to the public.

Protesters and police clash in Moscow

Riot police clashed with opposition supporters at the end of an anti-Kremlin protest in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, beating some and hauling them into police buses.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and several hundred other anti-Kremlin activists were detained after hundreds of riot police sealed off Moscow's Pushkin Square and clubbed some protesters to prevent a banned opposition rally and march.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the violence after the rally, which authorities in St. Petersburg had authorized and took place under a heavy police presence.

At the square earlier, lines of police, including undercover officers pointing out vocal demonstrators, quickly moved in on anyone who began to chant slogans or tried to galvanize people milling around the police cordon.

No information was immediately available on how many people were injured.

April 8, 2007

Minneapolis couple survives cruise ship disaster

A Minnesota couple on vacation suddenly became two of the 1,600 people trying to escape a sinking cruise ship.

Jon Hof and his wife Carol were on the Sea Diamond cruise ship navigating the Mediterranean Thursday, about to embark on a day in the port city of Santorini, when the ship hit a volcanic reef.

"All of the sudden we just hear this awful noise, all of the sudden things start to break, you could hear glassware shattering," Carol said. "I couldn't believe this was happening. This was a huge mistake, a major human error was made coming into port."

That ship now sits at the bottom of the Agean Sea near Greece.

Two people on board are still missing.

Three Gopher football players accused of sexual assault

The University of Minnesota Police Department is investigating allegations of criminal sexual conduct against three football players.

Defensive end Alex Daniels, cornerback Keith Massey and running back E.J. Jones were taken into custody after an 18-year-old woman told police she was raped Friday night.

"Right now, there are allegations out there," associate athletics director Tom Wistrcill said. "We have to wait and see if there are charges filed and go from there."

The three players have not been charged with a crime, but they are being held without bail while being questioned by police.

Head Football Coach Tim Brewster immediately suspended the players.

"Obviously, this is disappointing news for any coach to receive," said Brewster. "There is an on-going investigation and we will cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter," he added.

Palestinians want 1,000 freed in return for one Israeli soldier

A list of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners wanted in exchange for long-term hostage Corporal Gilad Shalit has been presented to the Israeli government in the biggest sign of progress towards securing his release for nearly a year.

Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian politician, headed the list of hundreds of prisoners the Palestinian authorities want released in exchange for Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was seized in a cross-border raid from Gaza in June last year by militants allied to the Hamas faction.

For many Israelis, the idea of letting the elder Barghouti go free is an abomination.

Freeing Shalit has also been cited by some European countries as one of the steps the coalition cabinet must take if it wants the crippling sanctions imposed after Hamas took office last year, to be eased.