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News Wrap: Minnesota Communities Begin Cleanup After Deadly Tornadoes

June 18, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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In other news Friday, several communities in Minnesota began to clean up after several tornadoes ripped through the state Thursday, killing three and injuring dozens. Also, hopes dimmed that missing miners in Colombia might be found alive after a deadly explosion on Wednesday.
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Communities across Minnesota began cleaning up today,
after a line of tornadoes ripped through the state. At least three people were
killed and dozens more were injured. The storms swept through late Thursday,
hitting the northwest and southern parts of the state the hardest. The National
Weather Service had 36 reports of tornado sightings.

Some of the worst destruction was the town of Wadena. Dozens of homes
and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

In Colombia, hopes of finding 50 coal miners dimmed after an explosion
at a mine on Wednesday night. Rescue crews recovered at least 18 bodies at the
site just south of Medellin. The others we trapped underground and feared dead.
Search efforts were suspended last night as dangerous methane gas built up.

Three more American soldiers have been killed in Southern Afghanistan.
Their deaths raised this month’s U.S. death toll to 34. Another British soldier
was killed today as well. And at least 27 people died in violence across Iraq.
They included an Iraqi translator for the U.S. military. Police said he was
killed by his own son, an insurgent linked to al-Qaida.

A convicted killer was executed by firing squad early today in Utah,
after his numerous appeals failed. It was the first such time that that method
has been used in the U.S. in 14 years.

Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed just after midnight. He was dressed in
black, strapped to a black metal chair, and hooded, with a target placed over
his heart. Then a five-man team took aim and fired. By 12:17 a.m., he was
pronounced dead.

Several reporters witnessed the execution from a separate room.

FIELDS MOSELEY, KUTV-TV: The loudness of the guns shocked me, even
though I grew up with a Winchester .30-30 in my house and shot it many times.
But I think, when you see it actually hit a human being and you watch them move
to some extent, that was — it was violent. And I didn’t find it to be clinical
at all.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Gardner was on death row for killing an attorney in a
courthouse during an escape bid in 1985. He chose death by firing squad before
the state eliminated it as an option in 2004.

The execution drew protesters to the steps of Utah’s statehouse last
night. And, online, a wave of protests began after the attorney general of
Utah, Mark Shurtleff, sent messages to social networking service Twitter as the
execution happened. The criticisms on Twitter called his messages inappropriate
and distasteful.

Democrat Alvin Greene is still running for the U.S. Senate in South
Carolina. Last night, party officials ruled there is not enough evidence to
throw out his primary win. Greene is an unemployed military veteran who waged
no visible campaign. He faces criminal charges of showing obscene photos to a
college student. In November, he will face Republican Senator Jim DeMint,
considered the heavy favorite.

Wall Street finished higher for a fourth day. The Dow Jones industrial
average gained 16 points to close at 10450. The Nasdaq added two points to
close near 2310. For the week, the Dow gained 2 percent; the Nasdaq rose 3
percent.

In the World Cup, the U.S. team salvaged a draw against Slovenia today.
The Americans were down 2-0 before a second-half rally. A late goal that would
have given them outright victory was disallowed.

And Los Angeles celebrated after the Lakers won their 16th NBA title.
They beat the Boston Celtics in game seven of the finals last night.

Acclaimed Portuguese novelist Jose Saramago died today at his home in
the Canary Islands. He published his first work in 1947 and won the Nobel Prize
for Literature in 1998. One of his best-known books, “Blindness,” was made into
a movie in 2008. Jose Saramago was 87 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Jim.