December 7, 2008

Suicide Watch Records and Computer Assisted Reporting

In “The Suicide Bed: A Cover-Up At Western State Mental Hospital? Chris Halsne of KIRO 7 Eyewitness News examined medical records to reveal a “series of embarrassing mistakes that led? to a mentally ill man’s death.

Halsne used video footage along with documentation to reveal the neglect which led to the suicide.

Halsne determined that safety checks, mandatory every fifteen minutes to those patients in solitary confinement and on suicide watch, were not filled out.

He also found out that the psychologist assigned to monitor his case, was on vacation.

An internal memo revealed that the hospital recognized these short-comings, and indicated that they should first assign an available counselor, and second, bolt down the beds that were constructed to be immobile, but were never bolted down.

For computer assisted reporting, this reporter had to examine medical documentation and records of safety checks. He found that “An internal hospital monitoring sheet indicates nobody did that suicide check at 1:30 or 1 or 12:30 or noon."

He also examined the videotape of the floor that showed the staff sitting in the commons room.

“There are 12 employees in the day room just outside Gordon’s room 26. The tape shows several employees laughing and horsing around for nearly an hour while Gordon hanged in his room a few feet away,? the article reported.

Klingon Theater -- A Christmas Carol and Hamlet

A small St. Paul theater working on a Klingon style "Christmas Carol" production has been commissioned by Hollywood to produce "Hamlet" for Hollywood’s release of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered County? Blu-ray Disc, according to the Pioneer Press.

Commedia Beauregard artistic director Christopher Kidder received an email from Paramount about three weeks ago, and hesitated in opening it, fearing that it would tell the company to cease production, the Pioneer Press reported.

Rather than being told to stop, Paramount was requesting their help in producing excerpts from “Hamlet? to accompany the disc’s release, which will include the “to be, or not to be? and “alas, poor Yorick? scenes complete with a Klingon skull, the Pioneer Press reported.

Missing Somali Men Cause for Concern

Two Somali students from the University of Minnesota and a senior from Roosevelt High School are missing since Nov. 4 and their families fear they fighting in the war in Somalia, according to the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

Three families made a public plea on Saturday requesting more information regarding the missing people, Burhan Hassan, 17; Abdisalam Ali, 19 and Mohamoud Hassan, 18, according to the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

Somali families gathered and some have “suggested the men may have been recruited and sent to Somalia – the land their relatives fled because of civil war – to fight,? the Star Tribune reported.

“Nearly a dozen local boys and young men have gone missing in the past two years,? said Somali community leader Abdirizak Bihi, according to the Pioneer Press.

December 6, 2008

Craiglist Babysitter Pleads Guilty to Manufacturing Child Porn

A St. Paul family hired a Craiglist babysitter, who pled guilty Wednesday to using their two-year-old daughter to film pornographic material, the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune reported.

The 23-year-old man from Little Canada, Aaron Jay Lemon, remains free on bond, the Star Tribune reported.

The abuse occurred in August 2007, and charges were brought against Lemon in August 2008, the Star Tribune reported.

Lemon faces up to 30 years in prison, following his sentencing date, which has not yet been set, according to the Star Tribune.

“A search of Lemon’s laptop computer and pocket-sized digital camera revealed more than 100 pictures of children, ranging from 6 months to 5 years old,? the Pioneer Press reported.

December 5, 2008

Parisian Jewels Stolen in Heist

Four armed robbers, two disguised as women, stole diamonds and other valuables listed between 102 million and 108 million from a Parisian jewelry store Thursday according to the Associated Press and Al

The robbers who brandished guns knew the names of some of the employees, were familiar with the hidden storage, and were described as “major pros? according to police as reported in Al

Some of the employees were struck by the robbers but no shots were fired, according to Al and the Associated Press.

“The brazen theft was among the world’s costliest jewel heists,? according to the Associated Press.

533,000 Jobs Cut Across Nation in November

The recession deepened in November as U.S. employers cut 533,000 more jobs across several sectors of the economy, according to the Washington Post and Reuters.

Dipping to the worst rate in 34 years, job losses were far worse than anticipated, according to Reuters.

“’You can’t get much uglier than this. The economy has just collapsed, and has gone into a free fall,’? Richard Yamarone, Argus Research chief economist in New York, told Reuters.

Job losses were reported in industries ranging from construction, computers, auto dealers, clothing stores, banks and insurance companies the Washington Post reported.

“Each of those lost jobs represents a personal crisis for a family somewhere in America,? President-elect Barack Obama said in a statement reported on by the Washington Post.

Obama’s team is devising a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over two years, according to the Washington Post.

The current unemployment rate which rose from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent does not fully reflect the 422,000 who left the job market and are not actively seeking work. It also does not take into account the 7.3 million reported employees who are working part-time in lieu of full time work, according to the Washington Post.

November 23, 2008

Vatican Forgives John Lennon’s Remark

After four decades, the Vatican has released an article forgiving John Lennon for saying that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus, according to Reuters and the BBC Saturday.

In 1966, Lennon mentioned that he “did not know which would die out first, Christianity or rock and roll,? the BBC reported.

At that time the comment met with controversy, particularly in the U.S., where conservative Christians “burned Beatles’ albums in huge pyres,? according to Reuters.

The article in the Vatican paper coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Beatles “White Album,? Reuters and the BBC reported.

Minn. Senate Recount

The battle between Al Franken and incumbent Norm Coleman remains tense and close during a meticulous recount process, according to the Associated Press and the Star Tribune.

“Attorneys on both sides have already armored up for the next pitched battle; over whether to reexamine thousands of rejected absentee ballots,? the Star Tribune reported Sunday.

The last time such a protracted recount occurred was in 1962, that race “wasn’t resolved until the following March, when the candidate who initially appeared to win found his lead reversed and decided not to pursue further legal action,? according to the Associated Press.

Politics as usual back then as today, “There were lots of ugly accusations,? Tom Swain, now 87 told the Associated Press. “Accusations, acrimony – it was all flying, some of it was well-intentioned, and some of it was over the top.?

As of Saturday evening, Coleman’s lead over Franken had dwindled to 180 votes, according to the Star Tribune.

“If the Canvassing Board decides to review rejected absentee ballots, many still unexamined votes could get thrown into the mix, adding far more uncertainty,? the Star Tribune reported.

November 22, 2008

Al-Qaeda Video Slurs Obama

Al-Qaeda’s second in command called President-elect Barack Obama a “house negro,? and warned that a “heavy legacy of failure and crimes awaits,? according to the New York Times and CNN.

The election of Obama only masks a “heart full of hate,? Ayman al-Zawahri said, according to the New York Times.

Because Obama has called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Americans have admitted to defeat in Iraq, the leader said, according to the New York Times.

In a video released on the web on Wednesday, Ayman mocked Obama, and said he was the “direct opposite of honorable black Americans,? according to CNN.

He warned that moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan is a “policy which was destined for failure before it was born,? CNN reported.

“And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them,? al-Zawahiri said according to CNN.

Hecker Closes 6 Car Lots, Sells 3 others

Six local car lots were closed Friday, and three others sold, from within Denny Hecker’s auto empire in central Minnesota, according to the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

Four hundred employees are out of a job, according to the Pioneer Press.

Hecker claimed he was “in a perfect storm of economic bad news,? according to the Pioneer Press.

The closings coincided with a law suit filed by General Motors aimed at Hecker to prevent him from selling Hyundai automobiles in his Chevrolet showroom, according to the Star Tribune.

Saudi Riches Revive Rochester's Economy

Rochester’s struggling economic structure received an infusion from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, according to the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The royal family “spent enough money during their visit this week to remedy the area’s economic woes for the year,? the Star Tribune reported.

They spent between $1 million to 2.5 million during their eight day stay, the Pioneer Press reported.

Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz arrived in Rochester on Nov. 15, with “at least five Saudi princes and hundreds of others,? the Star Tribune reported.

Although the king left Rochester Wednesday, some of the group remains behind still, according to the Star Tribune.

November 16, 2008

Fridley Football Player Fatally Shot

A Fridley high-school student died Friday night in his home after being shot in the chest by a friend who thought he had unloaded the gun, according to the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune.

The high-school football player “was doing everything right,? in school and by his family according to the Star Tribune report.

He was dedicated to football, and to supporting his mother, according to a Fridley High School senior, A.B. Borner told the Star Tribune. “I remember when he was a kid, he made a promise to his mom to support her. That’s why he played his heart out. Everything he did, he did it for her.?

Diversity Analysis

The use of the term “The Dirty 30? indicates a predisposition toward detainees as dirty and dangerous in Guantanamo Bay, as described by the and the New York Times.

It denigrates the detainees and presumes guilt.

Granted, in the news organizations defense, it was a term adopted by the U.S. government to describe 30 of the roughly 255 prisoners held at the detention center.

The reports are telling, however, indicating the conflict between the U.S. and the prisoners. “I admit to you it is my honor to be an enemy of the United States,? a detainee being held said, according to the New York Times.

The story employs multiple quotes from prisoners to depict the torture and coercion they experience in captivity.
The depictions are somewhat stereotypical of our image of “terrorists? hating the U.S. and the quotes only perpetuate this familiar hatred.

Regrettably, just about anyone detained without recourse would experience similar contempt for their captors. Because of this experience, their hatred is justified, and the stereotypes, though predictable, are understandable.

November 15, 2008

The Dirty 30

President Bush may pardon U.S. spies that have interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainees over the past seven years where allegations of torture have been prolific, according to the

Agents interrogated body guards for Osama Bin Laden and other detainees, according to the New York Times.

These body guards, known as “The Dirty 30,? were captured early in the war in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.

Guantanamo Bay “includes prisoners who the government says were trained in assassination and the use of poisons and disguises,? the New York Times reported.

“One detainee is said to have been schooled in making detonators out of Sega game cartridges,? the New York Times reported.

Roughly 255 prisoners remain in the detention center according to the New York Times and

“It’s easy to close the place, but what do you do with the detainees? There are some serious head cases in there,? an ex-CIA official told the

“Many fear that Barack Obama, who has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and put an end to the policy of extraordinary rendition, could launch a legal witch hunt against those who oversaw the policies after his is sworn in,? the said.

Although little is known regarding these detainees, the New York Times research team developed some indications of who these detainees are by analyzing records of hearings, now made public following a lawsuit put forth by the Associated Press, the New York Times reported.

Interrogation techniques revealed by the research includes “sleep deprivation, isolation and being put on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks,? the New York Times reported.

“I admit to you it is my honor to be an enemy of the United States,? a detainee being held said according to the New York Times.

Regarding a confession made by an Algerian detainee the record states “I was abused mentally and psychologically, by threatening to be raped,? he added “You would say anything,? according to the New York Times.

Forced Abortion Delayed In Remote China

Six months into her pregnancy, a Chinese Muslim woman sits detained in a local hospital awaiting a forced abortion of her third child, according to Radio Free Asia and the Pioneer Press.

Chinese officials warned Arzigul Tursun, now 26 months pregnant, “their house and property would be seized if Arzigul did not undergo an abortion,? the Pioneer Press and Radio Free Asia reported.

The procedure has been delayed following an international outcry, the Radio Free Asia reported. Rep. Chris Smith wrote an appeal calling on the Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Wenshong, to intervene, Radio Free Asia and the Pioneer Press reported.

Smith called the situation a “nightmare of forced abortion,? according to the Pioneer Press.

Rural dwellers are permitted up to three children, while urban dwellers are only permitted two children according to Radio Free Asia and the Pioneer Press.

This third child is called into question because although Tursun is a rural woman, her husband is registered as urban, Radio Free Asia and the Pioneer Press reported.

“The Chinese government is notorious for this barbaric practice, but to forcibly abort a woman while the world watches in full knowledge of what is going on would make a mockery of its claim that the central government disapproves of the practice,? Smith said, according to the Pioneer Press.