News Day: Going up – domestic violence, tick populations / Going down: Auto dealers, Gang Strike Force / “Stagecoach from hell” / Tweet trouble / more

Domestic violence increase “off the charts” Looking at domestic violence, St. Paul police see an “an uptick off the charts,” and Dakota County’s Community Action Council reported a 37 percent increase in women seeking services for domestic abuse from 2007 to 2008, reports the PiPress. The increase in domestic violence is attributed, at least in part, to the economic recession.

In a study by the National Domestic Violence Hotline during the last six weeks of 2008, 54 percent of victims reported a change in their household’s financial situation within the year. Sixty-four percent of those victims said the violence had gotten worse in the past year.

Police and domestic violence counselors worry that the increase seen during the winter months, a usually calmer time, will become even worse during the summer.

Tick alert Tick populations are up in Minnesota right now, warns state epidemiologist Melissa Kemperman, and people should take steps to protect themselves and their pets from tick bites and the infectious diseases they carry. An article in the Strib warns that cases of Lyme disease have doubled in Minnesota since the 1990s and that other tick-borne diseases, such as anaplasmosis or babesiosis, have also increased. Experts warn that prevention of tick bites and diseases is easier than treatment.

A couple of weeks ago, the PiPress Watchdog reported that some flea and tick meds can seriously harm your pets, so you should be careful about which meds you use. The article offers specific, brand-name warnings, and good advice about what to do.

Gang Strike force … going down? The Strib reports that document-shredding by three officers after the unit came under investigation may lead to the dissolution of the 24-officer, 13-jurisdiction unit. The Strike Force has been shut down since the paper-shredding. The Strib reports that investigators found:

West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver … drove into the parking lot of the nondescript building off of County Road E. Inside, he saw cops boxing up files. He didn’t recognize the officers, but he took down license plate numbers of cars parked in the lot, according to Omodt’s e-mail and interviews with authorities. Soon, several more members of the Strike Force came in and started to remove property and belongings. Shaver confronted some of the cops. An angry exchange followed. What they were doing had a criminal air, Shaver told them, and he ordered them to stop.

Young Minnesotan killed in Somalia Burhan Hassan, 17, was reported killed in Mogadishu, where fighting has been constant for weeks. Hassan is one of several young Somali Minnesotans who went to Somalia last year, possibly to fight for Al-Shabab, reported MPR. The circumstances of his death were not clear. According to the Strib, the boy’s uncle, Abdirizak Bihi, whose sister is Hassan’s mother, said the family believes that Al Shabab was responsible for killing Hassan.

How many auto dealer closings in MN? The latest estimate by the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association says that 36 GM dealers and 19 Chrysler dealers will close, reports the PiPress. combined with loss of specific automobile lines by 109 of 149 GM dealers, the two bankruptcies are expected to cost Minnesota auto dealers about 2,400 jobs.

MN Job Watch About 320 workers are returning to MinnTac after a three-week layoff, reports the PiPress, but another layoff is scheduled to start June 28.

Tweet trouble You may have heard that MN Rep. Paul Gardner got in trouble with the MN House ethics committee after tweeting about two colleagues, but MinnPost has more, detailing other political and business Tweeters’ troubles. My fave – “Cisco fatty” who lost a job after tweeting: “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” Seriously, though – Twitter can be both a powerful tool and a double-edged sword, as evidenced by the arrest in Guatemala of a man who tweeted about the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg and the bank corruption scandal connected with the assassination. The charge? “Incitement of financial panic.”

World/National Headlines

Riding “the stagecoach from hell” A former Wells Fargo loan officer details home lending practices that deliberately steered credit-worth black customers to subprime loans, reports the New York Times. According to Beth Jacobson’s affidavit:

“Wells Fargo mortgage had an emerging-markets unit that specifically targeted black churches, because it figured church leaders had a lot of influence and could convince congregants to take out subprime loans.”

Her affidavit is part of a lawsuit filed against several banks by the NAACP.

The New York Times, in a recent analysis of mortgage lending in New York City, found that black households making more than $68,000 a year were nearly five times as likely to hold high-interest subprime mortgages as whites of similar or even lower incomes. (The disparity was greater for Wells Fargo borrowers, as 2 percent of whites in that income group hold subprime loans and 16.1 percent of blacks.)

U.S. allies win Lebanon election BBC reports that the current governing coalition won a narrow parliamentary victory over Hezbollah-aligned parties.

Peru BBC reports that nine police officers kidnapped by indigenous protesters in northern Peru were killed in a governent rescue effort. Another 22 officers were freed, and seven remain missing. The kidnappings followed a massive protest Friday against gas and oil drilling on their ancestral lands. At least 22 indigenous protesters and nine police were killed in the protest at a jungle highway near the town of Bagua.

Mexico Reuters reports that 18 people were killed in a shootout between soldiers and the Beltrán Leyva drug cartel in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco

War Reports

Counting the cost Global military spending rose again in 2008, to $1.464 trillion dollars, according to the Swedish-based Institute Sipri, reports BBC. The U.S. spent $607 billion. The next nearest nation was China, which spent $84.9 billion. The arms and military aerospace industries continue to show growth, in contrast to civilian industries:

In total, the 100 leading defence manufacturers sold arms worth $347bn during 2007, the most recent year for which reliable data are available.

Almost all the companies were American or European. Some 61% of the total was accounted for by 44 US companies, with 32 West European companies accounting for a further 31%. Other companies were Russian, Japanese, Israeli and Indian.

Somali journalist killed Gunmen assassinated Moqtar Mohamed Hirabe, the director of influential Radio Shabelle in Mogadishu reports BBC. A colleague was wounded in the shooting and was hospitalized.

Pakistan A bomb blast in Islamabad killed one police officer Saturday, reports BBC.

Responding to the bombing of a mosque last week, in which 38 people died, nearly 400 tribesmen have attacked attacked five villages in thought to be Taliban strongholds, according to BBC reports.

Iraq A bomb in a minibus killed seven people and wounded 24 in a Shia enclave in a mostly Sunni neighborhood in southern Baghdad, reports BBC.

Gaza Four Palestinian gunmen were killed in a clash with Israeli troops as ten gunmen tried to enter Israel, near the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings in the north-east of the Gaza Strip, reports BBC.

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