Samantha Koenig’s body found in Alaska

Body of missing barista believed found in Alaska lake

(CNN) — A body believed to be that of an 18-year-old barista who disappeared in February has been found in a lake north of Anchorage, police in Alaska said.

Samantha Koenig was last seen on February 1 being led by a man from the parking lot of the coffee stand where she worked.

On Monday, a forensic dive team discovered the body in Matanuska Lake, said Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew.

Samantha Koenig was last seen on February 1.
Samantha Koenig was last seen on February 1.

The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the identity.

“Although some questions have been answered today, I know those answers offer little consolation to the Koenig family and that many more questions remain,” said Mary Rook, the special agent in charge of the investigation.

“I know one question both the Koenig family and the people of Anchorage have asked from the outset is, ‘Why Samatha?'”

Koenig was taken from the Common Grounds Espresso stand, in the parking lot of an Anchorage fitness club, around 8 p.m. on February 1.

Police said security footage showed an armed man wearing a dark hoodie leading her away. Gone, too, was the cash from the stand’s register, as well as Koenig’s coat, purse and cell phone.

Koenig’s family offered a hefty reward for information leading to her return. Friends and volunteers distributed more than 45,00 fliers door to door.

The crime struck at one of the hallmarks of the Anchorage community, the tiny coffee stands around town, wrote Daily News columnist Julia O’Malley.

“Coffee shops are a thing here, a signature Anchorage phenomena,” she wrote in a column on February 9. “A study in 2005 said there was a coffee opportunity for every 3,300 residents in the city. At the time, that was the highest coffee-to-person ratio in the U.S.”

On Monday, police said a man, already in custody for an unrelated crime, will be charged with kidnapping and murder.

Without naming the man, Chief Mew said he acted alone and that Koenig died within hours of her abduction.

Authorities also said investigators found no “direct association” between the abductor and Koenig or her family members.
The only person listed as a “person of interest” in the case is a 34-year-old contractor from Anchorage who was arrested last month in Lufkin, Texas.

The man is accused of using a debit card taken from a vehicle on the night of Koenig’s abduction and using it at various locations in Anchorage and also in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, reported KTUU TV.

U.S. Marshals brought him back to Alaska, and he is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

Chavez returns from treatment safely

Venezuela’s Chavez returns home

By the CNN Wire Staff

Click to play
Chavez secrecy leaves Venezuela on edge

(CNN) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home early Thursday after receiving cancer treatments in Cuba.

Before landing, Chavez released a statement about coming back to his homeland.

“Already on the plane! All of us very happy because we are heading back to our beloved Venezuela!” a message on his official Twitter account said.

Chavez is battling cancer and was in Cuba to undergo treatment. He has been to Havana several times in recent weeks and months to see doctors.

Since the beginning of the year, Chavez has spent 50 days in Havana.

Chavez quells rumors about death

The presidential campaign in Venezuela is in full swing, but Chavez has hardly been seen pursuing votes.

Leaked reports claim that Chavez’s health is worse than the government is admitting. CNN cannot independently verify those claims. However, there has been a noticeable silence from the leader.

On Monday, he ended a more than week of silence, taking to the airwaves to refute rumors of his death.

“Rumors sometimes hurt. Look at my poor mother. … Yesterday, I returned her call. I called my mother because she was so was nervous, and truthfully, you could feel it in her voice — her voice broken,” Chavez said in a broadcast by state-run VTV.

The 57-year-old president has not specified the type of cancer he is fighting, and the government has released few specifics, fueling widespread speculation about his health and political future.

His comments on VTV were his first in more than a week, an unusually long period of silence for the outspoken socialist leader.

Earlier in April, Chavez spoke at a Mass in his home state of Barinas, tearing up at times as he discussed his struggle with illness.

“Christ … give me life, because I still have things to do for the people and this country. Do not take me yet,” he said.

Chavez described cancer as “a true threat that marks the end of the path for many people. The end of the physical path, that’s the truth.”

But he said he was recovering, adding that he had “much faith, much hope, much willpower to defeat this threat, as many people have, with the help of God and medical science.”

Chavez has led Venezuela since 1999 and has pledged to run for re-election in October.

Wi-Fi hotel charges necessary?

Why are we still paying for hotel Wi-Fi?

From Ayesha Durgahee, CNN

Click to play
The cost of hotel Wi-Fi
(CNN) — For many hotel guests, paying for Wi-Fi is an outdated charge that you only get wind of when you’re up in your room. Now that mobile phones have rendered hotel room phones largely obsolete, Wi-Fi is the new bugbear for today’s traveler.

“A lot of hotels lived well off telephone income,” says Kurt Ritter, president & CEO of Rezidor Hotel Group. “Telephone income was a big part of — I don’t want to say cheating — but overcharging the customer.

“Everyone wants to make money, but I think you should make it in a reasonable way and internet, it’s not a good idea to charge. It’s like the air you breathe, the water you turn on — it should be for free.”

The Rezidor Group owns mid-tier chain Radisson Blu and has offered free Wi-Fi since 1995, which is now available in more than 50,000 rooms worldwide.

“If I use the 60% (Wi-Fi) usage that we have over the chain and the median figure that travelers pay, we would have roughly $10 million more income a year,” Ritter says. But he adds that even though the revenue from Wi-Fi could fill the international phone-charge void, he isn’t tempted to charge.

See also: Marriott mogul’s 55 years of hotels

For hotel guests there’s the added frustration of inconsistency. Some hotels charge for Wi-Fi per device, others offer it free only to loyalty members; some chain hotels offer free Wi-Fi at their budget brands but charge for it at their luxury ones; sometimes Wi-Fi is free in the lobby. With no set rules, hotels charge as much or as little as they like.

Take five-star hotels in London as an example: The Hilton Mayfair’s daily rate is $32, and it also charges $120 for five days or $150 for a week, while Hilton Gold and Diamond members get it for free; the Haymarket hotel also charges $32 a day or 50 cents a minute; Four Seasons offers complimentary Wi-Fi for basic use, like emailing and social media, but charges $32 a day for a premium level with faster Wi-Fi. Other charges range from $15 a day at The Savoy to $41 a day at The Ritz Hotel.

What’s been happening over the years is the bandwidth, the internet size requirement, has gone up tremendously.
Joe Germanotta, chief executive, GuestWi-Fi

Joe Germanotta, chief executive of GuestWi-Fi, Wi-Fi provider to hotels such as Crowne Plaza and the Intercontinental Hotel Group, doesn’t see a problem with Wi-Fi rates.

“When you have to pay for it as an amenity they guarantee you the reliability and speed and the security,” he says. “And it’s becoming a very expensive proposition for the hotel to maintain these services, so it makes sense that they have to charge for it.”

Germanotta says it costs a hotel roughly $375 per month to pay for Wi-Fi, which is why not all hotels charge for it. So when some budget and luxury hotels, along with bars and cafes, offer it for free, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow at the hotels that don’t.

But some argue the real cost for hotels comes in keeping up with ever-changing Wi-Fi specifications.

“What’s been happening over the years is the bandwidth, the internet size requirement, has gone up tremendously and that number keeps growing and growing — and that’s where the hotel has a problem,” Germanotta says.

See also: Richard Gere’s boutique hotel

The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, London, charges $10 an hour or $25 a day, allowing for up to six devices, but guests can use Wi-Fi for free in the lobby and bar.

“Given the constant re-investment and the constant drive with new technology coming in much faster than most of us can adapt … we’re at a point where we take any bit of profit and continue to re-invest in the technology,” says Monika Neger, chief information officer for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

She adds that if hotels charge for Wi-Fi, the service must be excellent. “Some of the challenges the industry has had is charging for not very good bandwidth and this has really caused the entire industry to reflect and say how are we going to manage this?” Neger says.

“We’ve had to make investments in areas that we’ve never invested in before — meeting space, in the lobby. We are spending at minimum $250,000 per year in all of our properties to bring them up to current specifications.”

She adds: “The hotels who have yet not adopted any type of operating cost to set off this investment will find themselves in a difficult position.”

I think hotels are starting to realize that they will lose valuable customers and valuable business by charging crazy amounts for Wi-Fi
Juliana Shallcross, managing editor at HotelChatter

Paying the bills may be difficult but so is keeping customers happy. It’s not just how much they have to pay that’s frustrating for guests — it’s also the difficulty of just logging on.

Jean-Jacques Cesbron, from New York, is co-founder and president of Cami Music, and is on the road every other week.

“Every hotel has a different system,” he says. “Some require a code from front desk, some require you put in a credit card number, some just ask for your room number and then charge to your room.

“The fact is that it is a crapshoot to get a quality connection and the inconvenience of figuring out the process to get it is terrible.”

With the growth of social media and websites like HotelChatter, it’s becoming clear that guests’ changing demands can’t be ignored. Since 2004, HotelChatter has published an annual Hotel Wi-Fi report, praising the brands and boutiques that offer high-quality networks and naming and shaming those that don’t.

“Getting charged each night for 24 hours Wi-Fi seems like pure profiteering on their part, but I think hotels are starting to realize that they will lose valuable customers and valuable business by charging crazy amounts for Wi-Fi,” says Juliana Shallcross, managing editor at HotelChatter.

“What we are probably going to see more of is a tiered pay structure, where basic internet is free for emailing and updating your Facebook status. Anything more involved, like downloading movies, large PDF files, then you’ll start to pay,” she adds.

Hotels not only need to adapt to guest activity, they also need to be aware that for many guests Wi-Fi is not an extra luxury, like the mini bar or dry cleaning, it’s part and parcel of the guest experience — like hot water and clean towels.

Priest controversy in North Ireland

Priest in gay porn probe leaves parish

By Peter Taggart, for CNN

Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) – An Irish priest at the center of a gay porn controversy has asked to leave his parish and take sabbatical leave from the priesthood, he said Sunday.

Father Martin McVeigh has admitted he destroyed a memory stick containing “inappropriate imagery” ahead of a church investigation into reports he accidentally showed pictures of naked men to parents of children preparing for their First Holy Communion.

The incident happened at the start of a PowerPoint presentation at a grade school in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in March, said the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.

Parents said in a statement they were “horrified” by what they saw and called for action to be taken against the priest.

The church reported the incident to police, who said no crime had been committed.

In a statement Sunday, McVeigh apologized “for the hurt caused” and “his failure to check his presentation in advance.”

However, he insisted he “was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”

The priest also confirmed he had destroyed the memory stick that contained the images.

He said: “After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop. In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”

McVeigh described the past month as “the most difficult” of his life and said he would be taking a break.

“In the hope of bringing resolution and healing to the division and pain within the parish, I have taken the decision to ask Cardinal Brady to allow me to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave,” said McVeigh, adding: “The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life.”

Brady said he accepted McVeigh had no advance knowledge of the pornography.

In a statement Sunday, Brady said it had been “a traumatic time for the whole parish community and for Father McVeigh personally.” The cardinal also apologized for the incident.

He issued an update on the church investigation, saying other computers used by McVeigh had been “forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found.”

Brady added an additional laptop stolen from the local church sacristy since the March 26 meeting “did not form part of the technical examination.”

The cardinal said he had accepted McVeigh’s request for leave on the understanding he would return to the diocese on its completion.

The latest controversy comes after a series of child sex abuse scandals involving Catholic Church clergy in Ireland. The government-backed investigations say thousands of children have been abused by priests and other church figures over the last 80 years.

In March, the Vatican released a major report into the problem, begging forgiveness from victims. However, victims hit out at the report’s finding that new safeguards are working.

The U.S. hunt for Kony

U.S. lends support in hunt for notorious African warlord

From Nima Elbagir, CNN
Militant leader Joseph Kony, shown in a 2006 photo, is the subject of the viral video
Militant leader Joseph Kony, shown in a 2006 photo, is the subject of the viral video “Kony 2012”
Obo, Central African Republic – The lush, green forests of central Africa have long been the playground and refuge of the continent’s most-notorious warlord, Joseph Kony.

His Lord’s Resistance Army, which began with the aim of overthrowing the Ugandan government, has since spread to remote hinterlands on the borders of the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though officials don’t know exactly where Kony is, U.S. troops have been sent to the area to help find and defeat the LRA leader.

They have made progress. But as CNN has learned, much work remains to be done — both to locate Kony and to restore a sense of stability and safety to the region.

“Kony is definitely still a threat. He’s been on the run. He’s on the decline, and in survival mode, but he is still dangerous and he’s going to be dangerous until the LRA are eliminated,” said a captain with U.S. Special Forces.

 The captain, who CNN agreed not to identify because of concerns for his safety, spoke in Obo, a village in the Central African Republic.
President Barack Obama directed the deployment of about 100 troops to central Africa last year to help hunt down leaders of the LRA. Distributed among four operating bases, they are advising regional forces.
“We help our partner nation forces ask the right questions — the who, the what, the when, the where and the why — to get all the information,” the captain said.
The LRA has been on the run since being scattered from a temporary base in Congolese territory by a botched 2008 U.S.-backed attack on Kony’s position, dubbed Operation Lightning Thunder.

Since then, LRA attacks have killed 2,400 people and displaced 465,000, according to Resolve Uganda, a nonprofit group that monitors LRA activity. Another 3,400 people have been abducted.

Kony, who became a household name when a video about him went viral on the Internet this year, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. He and his group are accused of killing and maiming villagers, abducting children and turning them into soldiers or sex slaves.

Madelaine Simbachalanio is considered one of the lucky ones.

She was abducted by LRA soldiers, but released into the forest once they reached their base camp, she said. Miraculously — exhausted and terrified — she made her way home. Many of those taken with her were never seen or heard from again.

Part of the difficulty in tracking Kony stems from the fact he can move freely across porous borders, and not all countries in the region have joined the chase, said Ugandan armed forces spokesman Col. Felix Kulayigye.

He believes Kony is shuffling between Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“This is the strategy that he has used for the last four to five years. When the pressure is too much here, he runs across the border because he knows we are not allowed to go after him,” Kulayigye said. “Whenever pressure is high, he just switches to north Sudan. It hampers our operation.”

But a spokesman for the Sudanese information ministry denied the allegation.

“This is completely incorrect,” said Rabi Abd al-Ati. “We don’t accommodate rebels from Uganda or elsewhere. … The LRA has no existence in our areas.”

Regardless of where Kony is, the hope is that the search to find him will not only lead to his capture, but also bring an end to the long, regional nightmare he unleashed.

Despite the presence of troops, some people in Obo say they are still too afraid to sleep in their beds.

They sleep in the yard, hiding in the undergrowth outside their houses, because they worry the LRA will come for them in the night.

Reclaiming peoples’ lives from that fear is as much a part of the job as capturing Kony, said the Special Forces captain.

“I think this mission is a very worthwhile one, and it’s going to bring stability to a region that has been without stability for a long time. If we can do anything to help reduce the atrocities, and make the locals feel safe, then, I think, it’s definitely worthwhile,” he said

7 dead after SUV crashes into Bronx zoo

Vehicle flips, 7 die near Bronx Zoo

Click to play
Crash near Bronx Zoo kills 7

  • New York (CNN) — Seven people, including three children, died Sunday when a vehicle flipped over a guardrail and plunged up to 60 feet to the ground, landing upside down in an area of the Bronx Zoo that is closed to the public, officials said.

The crash occurred near the Bronx River Parkway and East 180th Street.

“Police determined that a 2004 Honda Pilot traveling southbound on the Bronx River Parkway in the left lane had struck the center median, crossed over three southbound lanes and struck the curb, causing the vehicle to become airborne and continue over the guardrail and fall approximately 59 feet down into a wooded area inside of Bronx Zoo property,” the New York Police Department said in a statement.

Police identified the victims as driver Maria Gonzalez, 45; Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10; Maria Nunez, 39; Niely Rosario, 7; Marly Rosario, 3; Jacob Nunez, 85; and Ana Julia Martinez, 81.

All were pronounced dead at the scene and an investigation is ongoing, police said.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said all the victims were wearing seat belts. He had previously given the older girls’ ages as 15 and 5.

Browne said the driver likely overcompensated when the left side of the SUV struck the barrier.

The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed, said FDNY Deputy Chief Ronald Werner.

Zoo spokeswoman Mary Dixon said the vehicle landed just inside the southeast perimeter of the 265-acre zoo. A baby bag with diapers inside was found at the scene.

“It’s far from any public area,” Dixon said. “No animals, exhibits or visitors were affected. … It would be impossible for any visitors to see this.”

The area where the vehicle fell is adjacent to where the zoo’s trams are parked, Werner said.

The fire department’s Howard Sickles told reporters that in his 20 years he’s “seen a lot of horrific things and this is one of them.”

The crushed vehicle came to rest in overgrown brush, Werner said.Authorities used thermal imaging cameras to find victims in case any had been ejected, he said.

Authorities received multiple calls about the incident at about 12:30 p.m., Werner said.

In 2006, six people died in an accident on the Bronx River Parkway near the site of Sunday’s crash.

Another LGBT bashing in Memphis

Transgender Man Beaten In Memphis

A Memphis transgender man was taken to a nearby hospital with bruises and a concussion after being beaten Saturday night.

By Josh Hinkle

MEMPHIS intersection of Yates and Poplar X390 (GOOGLE) | ADVOCATE.COM
Kelley attacked the victim at this intersection, the corner of
Yates and Poplar.

A suspect in Memphis, Tenn., faces aggravated assault charges after sending a transgender man to Methodist Germantown hospital with bruises and a concussion.

Eighteen-year-old Chase Mason Kelley attacked the man Saturday night, punching him repeatedly until the victim was unconscious reported WREG. The police report says the brother of the perpetrator also tried to hit the victim with his Jeep, but failed.

The victim is expected to make a full recovery WREG reports. Kelley, however, could face more charges. “If a hate bias based on gender identity can be proven, the attacker may be subject to stronger penalties under the Matthew Shepard, James Byrd hate crimes law that passed in 2009,” Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project told WREG.

Young to face charges of aggravated assault

Tigers outfielder released on bail after skirmish

By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
Delmon Young faces an aggravated harassment charge over
Delmon Young faces an aggravated harassment charge over “religious statements made” in a dispute with another man, according to police.

New York (CNN) — Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young has been released on $5,000 bail after he was arrested in Manhattan and charged with aggravated harassment after a dispute with another man.

Young was set free Friday evening, his attorney, Daniel J. Ollen said. Young is not required to stay in New York and is due to appear in court in May.

The dispute occurred Thursday night. Police said Young appeared intoxicated when they arrived at the scene outside the Hilton New York hotel. He was treated and released from a hospital Friday morning, police Detective Martin Speechley said.

The other man, who was not identified, sustained minor injuries but refused treatment, according to Speechley.

The aggravated harassment charge is a misdemeanor, but Speechley said the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime because of “religious statements made” during the dispute.

If there is evidence to support a hate crime, the seriousness of the charge would be “elevated,” he said.

Young plans to plead not guilty, Ollen said.

“I sincerely regret what happened last night,” the outfielder said in a statement Friday, according to CNN affiliate WABC. “I take this matter very seriously and assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player.”

The team issued a brief statement Friday afternoon.

“We are aware of the situation, however it is our club policy not to comment on pending legal matters,” the statement said. “As we understand it, this is an allegation and we need to allow the legal process to take its course.”

The Tigers are in New York for a three-game series against the Yankees. Detroit lost the first game Friday to the Yankees.

3.8 quake rocks Devore, California

Earthquake registering 3.8 strikes southern California

By Michael Martinez and Kara Devlin, CNN
The epicenter of the quake was just outside Devore, in San Bernardino County near the San Andreas Fault.
The epicenter of the quake was just outside Devore, in San Bernardino County near the San Andreas Fault.

Los Angeles (CNN) — A magnitude 3.8 earthquake in southern California struck San Bernardino County near the San Andreas Fault Saturday morning, but no major damage was reported, authorities said.

The quake’s epicenter was two miles northwest of Devore, California, where residents told CNN affiliate KCAL that their homes shook, without damage, authorities said.

“It’s not on the San Andreas fault. It’s located very close to it,” seismologist Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey told KCAL.

Added John Bellini of the U.S. Geological Survey: “It’s capable of knocking items from shelves and maybe cracking plaster.”

USGS originally put the magnitude at 4.1 before revising it to 3.8.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in nearby Rancho Cucamonga told CNN that it didn’t receive reports of major damage shortly after the quake.

“It was a solid boom and everything shook,” Devore resident Tracie Thompson told KCAL. “None of the china moved or anything. It was over so quickly. It was really a harsh jolt to the house.”

Devore is about a 55-mile drive northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

The region is known as the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles.

Explosive scare for London

Man in London security alert arrested

By the CNN Wire Staff

Click to play
Man in London security alert arrested

London (CNN) — Police have arrested the man believed to be at the center of a security alert Friday that closed a major shopping street in central London, a police spokesman said.

After the arrest, officers searched the building on Tottenham Court Road to make sure it was safe, the Metropolitan Police said.

No hostages have been identified, police said.

“After contact with our specialist police negotiators the man came out of the building, and was arrested,” Commander Mak Chishty said in a written statement. “He is now in police custody.

“Items were thrown from the window onto the street below,” Chishty added. “We were concerned that he may have explosive materials or flammable liquids with him. Our immediate concern was for the safety of the people inside the building and for the general public in the vicinity.

“During the course of the incident a number of people who were inside the building left peacefully,” he said.

Earlier unconfirmed eyewitness reports suggested the man might have had some kind of canister attached to his body and had threatened to explode it.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman earlier told CNN the police did not know if the man, age 49, was armed.

Officers carrying some kind of weapons — it is not clear whether they were live firearms or stun guns — were sent to the scene. Police do not commonly carry firearms in Britain.

A vehicle labeled “police explosive search dogs” also arrived and dogs could be seen on the closed-off street.

 A 300-meter (980-foot) cordon was put in place on Tottenham Court Road, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

The police declined to confirm reports that a sniper was positioned on a nearby roof.

The alarm was first raised around noon, with reports of a man causing a disturbance and throwing objects from an upper floor window. Police said electrical equipment was among the items tossed to the street below.

Unconfirmed eyewitness reports suggest the man entered an office building housing an employment agency.

The man, who appeared to be unstable, had some kind of canister strapped to him and threatened to blow it up, the witnesses said.

A police spokesman confirmed the force had received reports from the public suggesting the man had canisters attached to him but said officers could not confirm that themselves.

A tweet from the Metropolitan Police said: “There are no reported injuries and it’s unclear if other people in the building.”

A number of buildings in the area have been evacuated and half a dozen ambulances are at the scene. They have not yet been put to use.

The incident caused major disruption on a street usually busy with traffic, shoppers and local workers on their lunch break.

“We advise people to keep clear of the area due to congestion,” the police said via Twitter.

Warren Street Underground station has been closed at the request of the police, Transport for London said. Goodge Street Underground station, which was closed because of the alert, was reopened shortly after the arrest.

Buildings used by students at University College London and a big London hospital are in the area.

The alert comes three months ahead of the Olympic Games in London, when a major security operation will be in place.