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March 30, 2008

Obits

The New York Times obituary on Dith Pran pretty much follows the standard obituary form. The lead mentions the name, an interesting fact about him, where he died, and his age. The only real difference in the lead is that it mentions where he lived after his age ("He was 65 and lived in Woodbridge, N.J.") The second paragraph mentions the cause of death (pancreatic cancer") and the 3rd through 9th paragraphs are about his "claim to fame." The obituary continues to follow the form as the 10th paragraph starts Dith's chronology. The only significant difference in the obituary form is that the last paragraph does not say who Dith is survived by. Instead, it is mentioned in the 20th paragraph out of 25.

Sources include friends, doctors and previous interviews with Dith.

March 29, 2008

MN Attorney General office under investigation

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson’s office is under investigation due to accusations of ethical misconduct, reported Kare11.com.

Legislative Auditor James Nobles decided Friday to commence a preliminary investigate for “inappropriate, unethical, illegal activity? in the Attorney General’s office. Nobles said he reserves the right to launch a more elaborate investigation depending on his findings.

The decision was made during a two hour meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission, a bi-partisan committee of House and Senate lawmakers.

March 28, 2008

Girl fell from apartment window

A 5-year-old girl fell from a second story apartment window in St. Paul Friday, reported Kare11.com

St. Paul police said the child pushed the screen out of the apartment window and fell two stories. The child was brought to Children's Hospital where doctors treated her for a broken femur and facial lacerations.

NWA to re-open merger talks

Northwest Airlines is interested in re-opening merger talks with Delta Airlines, reported Minnesota Public Radio.

Even though the pilots of the airlines have not agreed on how to merge their seniority lists, a person close to the Northwest-Delta merge discussion said there have been recent talks about proceeding with the merge.

While the airlines have not confirmed that they are continuing with merger discussions, the close source said they are unwilling to pronounce that the merge is dead.

Ex-governor to be released from prison

Former governor of Alabama, Donald Siegelman, was ordered to be released from prison on Thursday, reported the New York Times.

The order was given by a federal appeals court. Siegelman will be released pending his appeal of a bribery conviction that Democrats say resulted from a politically driven prosecution.

The order said Siegelman raised substantial questions in his appeal of the case and could be released on bond from the federal prison in Oakdale, La where he has been serving his sentence. The questions were not confirmed but Siegelman’s lawyers have been arguing that the bribery charge on which he was convicted did not differ greatly from a political contribution.

“He should not have been manacled and taken off in the night,? said his lawyer, G. Robert Blakey, also a professor at the University of Notre Dame, citing the ex-governor’s immediate imprisonment after his conviction, a point of contention for his supporters.

It is not clear if the order to release Siegelman would limit his ability to travel outside Louisiana to testify in Washington.

Calling Cuba

Cubans will soon be allowed unrestricted access to mobile phones for the first time, reported the BBC.

This is of many reforms announced under President Raul Castro.

A statement given to the newspaper Granma said the state telecom monopoly ETECSA will give the public mobile phone services within the next few days.

Some Cubans already own mobile phones but they had to attain them illegally, usually through foreigners. Now, with the reform, Cubans will be able to subscribe to pre-paid mobile phones services legally, using their own names instead of going through foreigners.

However, the reform calls for the services to be paid for in foreign currency which limits access to poorer citizens.

March 15, 2008

Eight “Potter? films

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the series written by J.K. Rowling, will be made into two films, reported CNN.com.

Producers said that the first of the two films is scheduled to release in November 2010. Part two will follow in May 2011.

Producer David Heyman told the Times that the decision was born out of purely creative reasons. He said that unlike every other book, elements of the seventh book could not be removed.

2nd Minnesota child dies of flu

Another Minnesota child has died because of the flu, the second this winter, reported the Star Tribune.

Officials from the Minnesota Department of Health said the 5-year-old child had received a flu shot after she was already ill.

The first child, Jasmine Levy, 12, died from flu complications earlier this month. She had not received that vaccination because she did not have health insurance, said a relative who wished to be unnamed.

Kristen Ehresmann, head of immunizations for the Health Department, said the deaths of the two girls do “not necessarily indicate that children are at higher risk this year for developing potentially fatal complication from influenza.?

Flu related deaths among children and adults are usually related to underlying health problems and/or a secondary infection, as was the case for Levy. She had asthma and developed a staph infection. The 5-year-old, however, had no underlying condition or secondary infection, Ehresmann said.

Although it is rare, people can die from the virus, Ehresmann said. Last year six children in Minnesota died from the flu.

Four rescued in St. Louis Park fire

Three kids and a mom were rescued Saturday from a burning duplex in St. Louis Park, reported the Star Tribune.

According to St. Louis Park Communications Coordinator Jamie Zwilling, the woman and five children -- three her own children, plus a niece and nephew -- were in the home when a smoke alarm went off just before 5 a.m.

Two of the older children awoke to the alarm and yelled at the others to wake up before running to the adjoined home to call 911.

Zwilling said the first person to arrive on the scene was a police officer, who went into the home and rescued one child before firefighters arrived.

After the firefighters arrived, they entered the home and rescued the mom and the remaining children. Once all of the inhabitants were out of the home, firefighters were able to put out the fire.

All of the inhabitants were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

The damaged caused by the fire damage was mainly confined to the kitchen and dining room.

Fake audits hid by G.O.P Committee Treasurer

Hundreds of thousands of dollars may have been stolen by the former treasurer of a Republican Congressional fund-raising committee, reported the New York Times.

Robert K. Kelner, a lawyer with Covington & Burling, was brought in to investigate the accounting irregularities that showed the National Republican Congressional Committee had $740,000 less than it believed.

Kelner said it was not clear if the money was siphoned off by the former treasurer, Christopher J. Ward. However, Kelner said Thursday that he suspected Ward had been draining the committee’s funds for five years by submitting forged audit reports.

Presently, Ward is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kelner said.

Bomber kills 5 U.S. soldiers

Five American soldiers and three others were killed while on duty in Baghdad Monday when a man walked up to them and detonated the explosives-filled vest he was wearing, reported the New York Times.

According to the article, it was the deadliest single attack on American soldiers in Baghdad since last summer. Among the wounded were nine Iraqi civilians said Yarmuk Hospital officials.

A few hours after the attack, a car bomb outside a hotel in Sulaimaniya exploded. Two people were killed and 30 were wounded.

The two attacks accentuate the weakness of Iraq’s security.

March 9, 2008

Advance

Vita.mn published an advance on the benefit performance of Bedlam Theatre’s Iron Mermaiden. Sources used were creator/director Kristi Ternes and co-artistic director Maren Ward. While two Bedlam Theatre representatives were interviewed, Ternes was clearly the main source of information based on direct and indirect quotations.

In order to make this article more than a listing, the writer focused primarily on how the actors transformed into mermaids. Dancing and walking struggles were highlighted in the article. Another, smaller focus was on the subject matter of the play. It is about “contemporary women’s problems? as represented by mermaids.

The article was published Thursday and the benefit took place Saturday. The show opens today.

Frisky French

A new study found that French men and women are engaging in more varied and frequent sex than ever before, reported the Times.

However, the study’s most significant finding is perhaps that French women are more sexually inclined now than they reportedly were since the last national sex survey in 1992. They are quite literally playing sexual catch-up with their male counterparts.

According to the new 600-page "Study of Sexuality in France," commissioned by France's National Research Agency on AIDS, the number of sexual partners and the diversity of sexual activity have significantly increased in France within the last decade.

Now, only 3.5 percent of women aged 18-35 years say that they abstain from sexual activities. French women are also engaging in sex from a younger age than previously reported. The study reports that the average age of first sexual intercourse is 17.6 years for French women, down from around 20 years among women in 1996.

The number of sexual partners has also increased within the last decade for French women. French women between the ages of 30 and 49 report an average of 5.1 partners in their lives, compared to the average in 1992 (4) and 1970 (1.5).

The study suggests possible reasons for the increase in sexual activity. One is an increased accessibility to sexual content while the other reason may be due to a greater ease in finding/connecting with like-minded partners.

March 8, 2008

Man killed by flying wheels

Two free flying garbage truck wheels killed a man driving to work on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis Friday, reported the Star Tribune.

One of the wheels crossed the highway median and collided with a pickup truck driven by Jerry Ander, 56, of Burnsville, said the Minnesota State Patrol.

The garbage truck driver was identified as Floyd Brunson, 42, of Minneapolis who had been employed by the Waste Management company for 11 years, said a Waste Management spokeswoman.

Lt. Mark Peterson said it was an accident but that they will look at criminal charges.

Let them eat…bread?

While rising prices for wheat, corn and barley are causing farmers to become optimistic, they are causing pain and panic for global consumers, reported the New York Times.

Throughout the world, the cost of food is rising sharply. Within the last six months the price of wheat has doubled. Continued rising food prices have become one of the most pressing issues in global economics.

The Times reported that one contributor to the rise is “runaway demand.? Developing countries have been growing at a rate of 7 percent a year, a historically unheard of rate, and they want to eat well.

“Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe,? said Daniel W. Basse of the AgResource Company, a Chicago consultancy. “But if they do, we’re going to need another two or three globes to grow it all.?

In fact, if the demand continues to be as high as it is investors believe that the scarcity and high prices of food will last for years.

March 7, 2008

The show must go on?

In order to get around the smoking ban, many Minnesota bars are pronouncing customers as “actors,? reported the Minnesota Daily.

A new state smoking ban in restaurants and nightspots contains an exception for performers in theatrical productions which states that actors can light up while in character during performances.

Some Minnesota bars are taking advantage of the loophole by printing playbills, encouraging customers to come in costume and saying cigarettes are props in theatrical productions.

While nothing is currently being done to shut down these phoney productions, the state Health Department is threatening draw the curtain on the “shows.?

Obama policy adviser resigns

After apologizing for referring to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as “a monster,? Samantha Power, senior foreign policy adviser and close friend of Senator Barack Obama, said the she was resigning from the campaign, reported the New York Times.

The comment was made during an interview in London with The Scotsman, a Scottish newspaper.

It is likely that Power resigned because the remark violated Obama’s pledge to run a hopeful political campaign; one that is free of unnecessary negativity and name-calling.

Power made another comment that has gained attention. During a BBC interview she said she was concerned that Obama might not be able to carry through with his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq within 16 months.

The transcript of the interview containing the comment was posted on the Clinton campaign’s Web site.

March 2, 2008

Love hurts

A Texas Teen female has been charged in the killings of her mother and two young brothers, reported CNN.com.

Police suspect that the teen, whose name was not released due to being a juvenile, was angry at her parents because she was not allowed to date one of the three other suspects.

According to Rains Sheriff David Traylor, it became clear that the girl and one of the suspects were dating and were made to break up.
The three other suspects are Charlie James Wilkinson, 19, Charles Allen Wade, 20, and Bobbi Gale Johnson, 18, who is female.
According to Traylor, the mother, Penny Caffey, 37, was shot and stabbed. Tyler Caffey, 8, was stabbed and Mathew Caffey, 13, was shot and stabbed. The father, Terry Caffey, was shot in the head but survived and is aiding police.

March 1, 2008

Gaza bombardment pauses peace talks

Israeli troops entered Gaza Saturday with rockets in response to the bombardment of southern Israel, killing 46 Palestinians, reported the Star Tribune.

At least two dozen civilians died in the fighting bringing the Palestinian death toll to 76 since Wednesday. Two Israeli soldiers were also killed.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia said he believes peace talks will be suspended due to the fighting. “What is happening in Gaza is a massacre of civilians, women and children, a collective killing, genocide,? Qureia said. “We can't bear what the Israelis are doing, and what the Israelis are doing doesn't led [sic] the peace process any credibility.?

Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel, in a meeting Saturday, said talks are “based on the understanding that when advancing the peace process with pragmatic (Palestinian) sources, Israel will continue to fight terror that hurts its people.?

Sen. Coleman apologizes to Franken

Sen. Norm Coleman’s campaign apologized Thursday after a staff member’s letter criticizing Senate candidate Al Franken for arguing with a Carleton College student appeared in the three different newspapers, reported the Minnesota Daily.

Coleman’s campaign took responsibility for the staffer’s comments, saying it was their fault for not giving clear enough policy descriptions to volunteers.

“Our volunteers were not given a clear enough description of what our policy was, and in no way shape or form should they be held responsible for our failure to execute that policy,? Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan said.

Franken’s campaign responded to the statement with a few questions of their own.

“Who wrote the letter, and who approved its distribution?? Franken campaign spokesman Andy Barr said. “Was this the first time the Coleman campaign has used this tactic, or just the first time they got caught??