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January 31, 2007

Pawlenty sets record

Gov. Tim Pawlenty spent $3.9 million campaigning in 2006, a new state record. The mark is also twice the amount ever spent by any candidates for governor.

Pawlently decided to reject public financing, the first governor candidate to do so in nearly two decades. The state program normally provides public subsides to candidates who agree to limit total spending, which according to the Pioneer Press, maxes out at $2.4 million.

According to Pawlenty’s campaign committee, he raised $3.4 million in 2006 and used another $721,000 which he already had. He also received maximum $2,000 contributions from political action committees representing beer wholesalers, car dealers, dentists, accountants, and the Prairie Island Dakota Community.

Pawlenty’s money was well spent, considering his slim victory of one percentage point over Democratic candidate Mike Hatch. According to the Star Tribune, Pawlenty got help from constant attack ads from an anti-Hatch group in the final days of the campaign. Spending by that group and others like it, are to be announced today.

Peter Hutchinson also set a record for the most money spent by an independent candidate. Hutchinson spent $1.3 million during his campaign. At the time of the article, Mike Hatch had yet to report his results.

Wrestling is shutdown

The Minnesota State High School League shutdown wrestling statewide Tuesday after several athletes developed a skin virus.

In what is believed to be a national first, The MSHSL decided to close down the sport for eight days after 24 athletes from ten different teams were diagnosed with the virus. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (same virus that causes cold sores), Herpes Gladitorum often causes blisters and sores to develop in such areas as the face and neck. The virus, which is spread through touch, is potentially harmful because reoccurring outbreaks can happen throughout one’s lifetime.

The closure of the sport will extend through Feb. 6. Until that date, athletes and coaches are not allowed to have skin-to-skin contact. The decision to shutdown has drawn mixed reaction from Minnesota coaches.

Both local newspapers reported that the original cause is perhaps being traced back to the Clash Duals tournament held in Rochester Dec. 28 and 29. During the tournament, two teams from Kasson-Mantorville and Scott West were disqualified due to the virus. The Pioneer Press included the belief of Steve Patton, tournament chairman of the Clash, that a wrestler from Nebraska could possibly be the initial carrier of the virus. However, according to Patton, there is no concrete proof yet. The Star Tribune didn’t include any specifics on who the initial carrier could be.

According to Patton and both papers, the wrestlers were all thoroughly checked before competition. If there were any questionable wrestlers, they were then sent to the Mayo Clinic for further inspection.

Officials would like to stop the outbreak before the section tournaments start Feb. 14, as well as the state tournaments which start Feb. 28 and end March 3.

The Star Tribune reported that a similar outbreak occurred in 1999, when 60 wrestlers were affected and numerous were disqualified from post-season competition. The Pioneer Press reported that 56 wrestlers and three coaches on 17 different teams were infected in 1999.

Analysis: In both local articles, the writers used direct quotes, paraphrased information and used statements from MSHSL officials. The direct quotes were normally in typical fashion: not too long and typically ended in “last name said?. However, one quote from the PP used a direct quote in an awkward fashion: “Said Olson of Forest Lake? started the sentence. New paragraphs were generally started for direct quotes, as well as statements that were paraphrased. The Pioneer Press used a lot more quotes compared to the Tribune. The PP had quotes from multiple coaches, a referee and MSHSL officials. I also found it interesting that the PP included the possibility of the single cause (a Nebraska wrestler), while the Tribune didn’t mention the specific possibility.

January 28, 2007

Federer dominates "down under"

Roger Federer won yet another Grand Slam Title in the wee hours of Sunday morning in Australia.

Federer beat Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in straight sets, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-4. The win marks Federer’s 10th Grand Slam title in his career, tied for 5th all-time. Gonzalez played Federer tough, but still lost in straight sets.

Federer’s dominance in the tennis world is ridiculous. He has not lost in 36 matches, didn’t lose one set during the entire Australian Open and has won six out of the last seven Grand Slam titles. Federer also became the first man to win three straight major titles twice during his career.

Federer has been ranked number one in the tennis world for 156 straight weeks. Gonzalez put it this way: “He is a great champion who played a really good match today, all week—almost all his life.?

Federer, only 25, will go for his 11th title in the upcoming French Open, the only Grand Slam he actually has not won. Federer has tied the all-time record of playing in Grand Slam title finals by reaching the finals seven straight times. Look for Federer to be in the finals for 8th straight time in the French Open next June.

The two articles from ESPN.com and USAToday.com were basically the same. They gave a lot of information on Federer’s career accomplishments. ESPN went into more detail of the actual match compared to USAToday, although USAToday did have some details. The ESPN article used a lot of quotes from the two players as well. The USAToday article didn’t use any quotes. The USAToday was much shorter but more to the point.

January 27, 2007

Survivor of 16 story fall to leave hopsital today

After surviving a fall of 16 stories last week, a Wisconsin man is expected to leave the Hennepin County Medical Center Saturday.

Joshua Hanson was staying at Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis Jan. 20 when he fell out a 17th floor window. He landed on a roof overhang, feet first, about one story away from completely hitting the ground.

Amazingly, Hanson didn’t suffer any brain or spinal injuries, but did suffer a broken right leg and a punctured lung. Hanson had been drinking with some friends, and police said the incident was the “result of some drinking-induced horsing around.?

Hanson remembers the fall, but has not commented on the accident. Both local papers reported he doesn’t feel comfortable discussing it yet.

Hanson had a medal rod placed in his right leg and is currently able to walk with the help of a rolling walker. According to the Star Tribune, Hanson is expected to make a full recovery, but a time table was not given.

The story even received national news attention from areas such as Britain and Australia.

2 killed in U.S. embassy vehicle theft

Two people were killed in a U.S. embassy vehicle theft Saturday in Kenya.

According to reports from CNN.com, gunmen shot two women in broad daylight when the women “hesitated? to get out of the embassy vehicle immediately. The local police said the shooters got away with the vehicle and were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. The shooters were also believed to have stolen another car earlier in the day.

MSNBC.com highlighted the fact that there were also three other passengers in the car. It is not clear weather these three people were harmed or not.

The shootings took place in Kinoo, a village on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. Both reports highlighted that carjackings happen often around the capital, but usually occur during the evening.

The U.S. embassy and its officials have not commented on the situation as of yet. There also have been no arrests.

January 25, 2007

Crazy accident leaves local worker dead

A bizarre working accident left a Minnesotan man dead Wednesday afternoon.

Gene White, 63, was repairing a Perkins flagpole in St. Paul when a large ball dropped from the pole and hit him in the head.

White was knocked unconsciousness immediately and was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital a few hours later.

White started his own business, Twin Cities Flag Source, over 23 years ago and normally fixed flags at local banks and companies.

James Honerman, a spokesman for Minnesota OSHA, is investigating the incident. According to Honerman, there have been similar accidents that have occurred in previous years. Amazingly, falling objects have killed 15 workers and injured another nine in the past five years in Minnesota alone.

It is not entirely clear why the ball, which weighs 10 pounds, fell. It is also not clear if White should have been wearing some sort of head protection while working.

Both the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press reported on the freak accident. The reports were generally similar, but had some differences. The Tribune had information on the previous deaths, while the Pioneer Press included quotes from a few eye-witnesses and a graphic map that showed where the accident happened. Both stories were of the typical hard-news fashion.

January 23, 2007

Parcells calls it quits

Bill Parcells, one of the best coaches in NFL history, announced his retirement yesterday. Parcells retired after a 19-year career as a head coach, the last four being with the Dallas Cowboys.

Parcells’ career includes tenures with the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and the Cowboys. He took three teams to the Super Bowl, winning with two of them, and had a career record of 183-139-1. He brought the Cowboys to the playoffs in two of his four years, an impressive feat considering the Cowboys went 5-11 in three consecutive seasons before Parcells took the job.

Parcells’ departure leaves the head coaching job for “America’s team? open for the first time in four years. Speculation is already swirling on who will be Dallas’ next head coach. According to ESPN’s John Clayton, there are up to eleven candidates that could possibly land the job. The impressive list includes NFL coaches Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher, Mike Martz, Jim Mora and Wade Phillips. Bob Stoops from the University of Oklahoma is on the list as well.