May 2, 2008

Computer Assisted Reporting Analysis

According to the New York Times, "the American economy shed 20,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said on Friday in a report that many economists took as powerful evidence that the United States is ensnared in a recession."

This story, run in the New York Times today, used computer assisted reporting to tell an indepth story about the state of the American economy.

According to the New York Times, "Companies are cutting working hours, even as many avoid layoffs. Those working part time because of slack business or out of failure to find full-time work swelled from to 5.2 million in April from 4.9 million in March. In percentage terms, employees working part time involuntarily climbed to the highest level since 1995."

This portion of the story demonstrates how the Times reporter used the computer to assist their reporting. Nothing in this passage is cited to another poll or source, making it clear that there were all orginal facts and figures complied by the reporter. The reporter must have delved into public records and then put the data onto a spreadsheet or calculator to figure out the number of part time workers in March.

"The average weekly pay for rank-and-file workers — about 80 percent of the American work force — fell $3.55 in April, to $602.56 in inflation-adjusted terms. This figure has been generally falling since the end of 2006. Gains in pay have been canceled out by the soaring costs of food and energy," reported the New York Times.

This part of the story is another example of data that was more than likely compiled on a computer. Again, the journalsit does not cite any outside sources, therefore the data was probably calculated by the journalist. The journalists had to take into account not only the data they had avaliable, but how something like inflation would change the figure. They probably used a computer tool to help them accurately calculate these numbers. The reporterd needed spreadsheet skills, as well as skills with inflation calculators, and percentage changes to write this informative and rich story.

May 1, 2008

Giant Squid Has Largest Eyes in the World

Marine scientists, who are studying the carcass of a rare colossal squid in New Zealand, said Wednesday they had measured its eye at about 11 inches across -- bigger than a dinner plate -- making it the largest animal eye on Earth, reports the New York Times.

One of the squid's two eyes was found intact as the scientists examined the creature while it was defrosted at New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa. It has been preserved there since being caught in the Ross Sea off Antarctica's northern coast last year. Reportedly, the eye lense is the size of an orange.

''This is the only intact eye (of a colossal squid) that's ever been found. It's spectacular,'' said Auckland University of Technology squid specialist Kat Bolstad.

''It's the largest known eye in the animal kingdom,'' Bolstad told The Associated Press.

"The squid is the biggest specimen ever caught of the rare and mysterious deep-water species Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, or colossal squid. When caught, it measured 26 feet long and weighed about 1,000 pounds, but scientists believe the species may grow as long as 46 feet," reported the New York Times.

''This is the largest eye ever recorded in history and studied,'' said Swedish Professor Eric Warrant of the University of Lund, who specializes in vision in invertebrates. ''It has a huge lens the size of an orange and captures an awful lot of light in the dark depths in which it hunts.''

The squid was determined to be a female Wednesday in the scientists blog. They used an endoscope to examine the stomach and other organs. The squids can descend to 6,500 feet and are known to be aggressive hunters.

''We just found the ovaries -- the specimen is a girl! The ovaries are full of several thousands of eggs!'' the entry said.

Accordng to Bolstad, the females are believed to grow larger than the male.

April 30, 2008

Body Found in Pond of St. Paul Student

The body of a missing St. Paul man was pulled from a small pond this morning on the campus of Ithaca College in New York, reported the Star Tribune.

Friends and authorities had been searching for William Jacobson, 19, a 2007 graduate of St. Paul Central High School, and a freshman at the college, since Monday. He was last seen leaving a party about 3 or 4 a.m. Sunday, Dave Maley, an Ithaca College spokesman, said.

"According to a news release issued this morning by Ithaca police, a submerged body was recovered about 8:30 a.m. CST from a pond on Farm Road, and then taken to the Cayuga Medical Center morgue for an autopsy," reported the Star Tribune.

Jacobson's friends contacted police on Monday after they searched for him that day. Rescue workers searched briefly Monday evening, and then conducted aerial and ground searches of the hillsides around the college Tuesday, Maley said.

"Ithaca is on a hillside, bounded by steep gorges on either side,'' Maley said then. "We're looking to see if he got lost on his way back [to his dorm] or whether he could have fallen on a hillside. There's a lot of heavy brush.''

The party's host reportedly directed Jacobson to a walking trail on the edge of campus, Maley said.

Jacobson was dressed as William Shakespeare for the themed party and was last seen wearing a white, long-sleeved dress shirt, navy-blue vest, black dress pants and black dress shoes, according to the Star Tribune.

"He was committed to academics and got good grades," Alexander said. "But he was all about having fun. ... He always got along with people and was good at finding what makes a person interesting. He knew how to get the best out of people and have fun,'' Tynan Alexander of St. Paul, who has been one of Jacobson's best friends since they were in elementary school, said.

Friends in the Twin Cities and at Ithaca were keeping one another updated through Facebook.

There were feelings of concern and worry on the campus, Maley said Tuesday.

"There's no reason to suspect foul play," Maley said.

April 29, 2008

UN Security Council to Discuss Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's opposition has called for help from the UN as the Security Council meets for its first discussion of the country's post-election crisis, reports the BBC.

Police freed more than 180 opposition activists without charge four days after their arrest after a Zimbabwean human rights group accused the government of using violence in rural areas to rig a possible presidential run-off.

Allies of President Robert Mugabe say the violence is being exaggerated, reports the BBC.

According to a BBC contributor in the southern town of Masvingo, "the bodies of two opposition activists have been found after they were abducted."

Tendai Biti, Secretary-General of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said he hoped the UN Security Council meeting would lead to a resolution of the country's crisis.

"We're also hoping that as soon as possible the Secretary General can dispatch an envoy to Zimbabwe," he told Reuters news agency.

Kucaca Phulu, chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, said hundreds of people had been forced from their homes.

The MDC says this has often been in rural areas which Zanu-PF lost in the parliamentary elections.

"If there is a run-off, what is of grave concern to us is that all these displaced people will not be able to go back to their home areas to vote," Phulu said.

President Bush says Robert Mugabe has "failed his people.The violence and intimidation is simply unacceptable" and called on Zimbabwe's neighbours to increase pressure on Mugabe.

April 28, 2008

Edwards Endorsment Being Pushed at North Carolina Primaries

That is where John and Elizabeth Edwards retreated after he dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination on Jan. 30. Neither Mr. Edwards, a former North Carolina Senator, nor Mrs. Edwards have endorsed a candidate. However, with the increasingly intense race between Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama landing in Edwards own state, the pressure is on for him to endorse a candidate, reports the New York Times.

“I don’t get it,? said Kathi Lewis of Wilmington, as she waited with two friends for Senator Clinton to arrive at a campaign event Sunday evening. “We were just talking about it on the way over here. It’s too bad he’s not the candidate, but if he endorsed, it would sway people in one direction or the other.?

Clinton’s supporters, in particular, are anxious for the endorsment, hoping their endorsement would narrow the race and increase Clinton’s chances against a leading Obama.

“People talk about it all the time,? said Alina Szmant, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. “The rumor on the street is that he’s holding out for a V.P. position.?

This week, he Edwards family planned to decamp for Disney World, away from the campaign events grabbing headlines throughout the state.

One former aide said that Mr. Edwards is angling for a role in a Democratic administration, and with the contest still undecided, he is hesitant to commit to a candidate.

“He doesn’t want to pick the loser,? the aide said.

While several of Edwards close aides have come out with endorsments for Obama, Mrs. Edwards has made it clear that she favors Clinton; aides said she has recently tried to persuade Edwards to do the same.

Although Edwards and Clinton have clashed in debates, more recently, their relationship has warmed, and they speak on the phone regularly.

Some, though, said the Edwardses’ influence is overstated.

“We don’t wake up every day wondering who John Edwards is going to endorse for president,? said Dan Baden, the director of the Center for Marine Science Research in Wilmington. “I don’t think it’s a factor at all.?

April 18, 2008

Vatican Considering New Rules for Abuse Cases

A top Vatican official said on Friday that the Roman Catholic church is considering changes to the canon laws that govern how the church handles cases of sexual abuse by priests reported the New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/19/us/nationalspecial2/18cnd-victims.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Tthe revelation came one day after Pope Benedict XVI held a private meeting with survivors of clergy abuse during his first trip to the United States.

Many survivors say they want to see the church do more to prevent priests from abusing children, and hold bishops accountable for keeping abusive priests in ministry.

Cardinal Levada, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith heads the office that decides cases of priests accused of sexual abuse.

Cardinal Levada discussed the possible changes to canon laws shortly after the pope arrived in New York on the second part of his visit.

At a meeting Thursday, arranged by the Vatacin, five victims of clergy sexual abuse met the pope at the request of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, an official of the Archdiocese of Boston said Friday.

Cardinal O’Malley had been lobbying the Vatican to have the pope meet with victims, said Barbara Thorp, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Healing and Assistance Ministry, which assists victims.

“Cardinal Sean really had a very strong sense of how important it would be for the Holy Father, when he came to the U.S., to meet survivors,? Thorp said. “Finally, in response to the invitation from Cardinal Sean, the Holy See and the Vatican extended invitations to people to meet with him.?

“The pope directly wanted an unrehearsed meeting with free dialogue,? said Bernie McDaid, a former altar boy from Salem, Mass., who said that, as a child, he was molested by his parish priest, the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham.

“They said the Vatican wanted me to be one of the people invited,? McDaid said. “I’ve been waiting seven years. I was ecstatic. I said, ‘Let’s go.’ It was very surreal.?
McDaid said he and his mother attended the papal Mass on Thursday in Washington.

“I was so emotional when the pope apologized to us? during the Mass, McDaid said. “I cried, I didn’t believe it. That was the turning moment.?

"McDaid then went to the home of the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s top diplomat in the United States, where he and four other victims met with Pope Benedict; Cardinal O’Malley; Thorp; Father Connolly; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio; and other Vatican officials," the New York Times reported.

April 17, 2008

MDC Calls for Mbeki to Stand Down

Zimbabwe's opposition has called on South African President Thabo Mbeki to stand down as a mediator after the elections crisis, reports the BBC.

MCD opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mbeki, should be "relieved of duty." The MDC has accused Mbeki of failing to pressure President Robert Mugabe.

"Tsvangirai also said the UN should consider an international crimes court to try rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's government earlier accused Mr Tsvangirai of treason," reported the BBC.

Tsvangirai says he won the recent presidential election outright, but the results have not been published.

He told a news conference in Johannesburg: "We want to thank President Mbeki for all of his efforts but President Mbeki needs to be relieved of his duties."

Tsvangirai said Mugabe had "unleashed an orgy of violence against the people".

Tsvangiari believes a UN crimes court, similar to those in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is needed in South Africa.

"As I speak, our people are being murdered, homes burned, children molested, women raped," he said.

Mbeki and President Mugabe met last Saturday after which they claimed thier was"no crisis" in Zimbabwe. He defended those remarks in New York, saying constant communication is the key to sucess.

"The solution to the problem of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe," he said.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says it cannot release the results of the election until it investigates anomalies. A partial recount takes place this weekend.

April 16, 2008

13-Year-Old Minnesota Girl Saves Dozens in Congo Plane Crash

April Mosier, 13, managed to pry open a small hole in the side of a crashed airplane on its way to Congo and save dozens of lives on Tuesday, reported the Star Tribune.

April, her parents and brother, a church missionary family from southeastern Minnesota, all survived the crash of the privately operated DC-9 with no major injuries. The jet failed to take off in the eastern town of Goma, then rammed through an airport fence into a busy market area and caught fire. As of now, 38 have died among the 79 aboard and others on the ground.

"She spotted a crack on the right side of the fuselage, too small even for her to wriggle through with her 4-foot-9, 96-pound frame," reported the Tribune.

"Let's open this crack, otherwise we're going to die," April said to a fearful man next to her in Swahili. The two clawed at the opening long enough to create an escape route that April and dozens of others used to get off of the burning plane.

"We tore the crack open with our hands," April told the Star Tribune.

April, who along with her her parents, Barry and Marybeth Mosier, and 3-year-old brother, Andrew, moved from Dodge Center to Tanzania in 2000.

Once she distanced herself from the burning plane, April scrambled to find her parents and brother. Barry Marybeth Mosier were searching just as har for their daughter.

Nearly 30 minutes after the crash, April and her parents were reunited at the hospital.

"When we saw each other, she just burst into tears," Barry Mosier said. "My daughter thought we were dead ... We couldn't believe that the four of us from one family was walking away alive."

April 15, 2008

Pope Expresses Shame Over Priests’ Sexual Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI, on the airplane for his first visit to the United States on Tuesday, said that he was “deeply ashamed? by the Roman Catholic Church’s child sexual-abuse scandals in the United States, and said it is causing “great suffering? for the church and “me personally,? reports the New York Times.

He addressed the scandal in the U.S. that has produced more than 5,000 sexual abuse victims since it erupted in 2002 and cost the church more than $2 billion.

The Pope said he is personally injured by the abuse scandal and said the church is increasing its efforts to get pedophiles out of the priesthood.

“It is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,? he said. “As I read the histories of those victims it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.?

The Pontiff seemed to be linking pedophila to homosexuality saying, “I would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.?

“Who is guilty of pedophilia cannot be a priest,? he added.

Church officials were going to go through seminaries to assure that preisthood candidates have no such tendencies. “We’ll do all that is possible to have a strong discernment, because it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests.?

“We hope that we can do, and we have done and will do in the future, all that is possible to heal this wound.?

The Pope has expressed his views on the issues before, refering to the abusing priests as 'filth', but has done or said or done little publicly about the abuse issue until now.

"One of the repercussions of the child abuse scandals in the United States is that lay Catholics across the country are demanding more financial accountability from their bishops and more control over decisions, particularly when it comes to parishes," reported the New York Times.

The Pope will spend several days in the Washington area before traveling to New York to hold services, address the United Nations and visit a synagogue.

Zimbabwe Court Holds on to Vote Results

The High Court of Zimbabwe dismissed an opposition on Monday that demanded for the immediate release of the results of the presidential election held 16 days before. Independent monitors say that the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, did poorly in the vote and that he may have lost, reported the New York Times.

The opposition, Movement for Democratic Change, contended that Mugabe and the military are illegally clinging to power and has called for people across the country to protest by staying home from work on Tuesday.

“We are working with a regime that has perfected the art of interfering with the judiciary,? said an opposition spokesman, Nelson Chamisa. “The court has chosen to be a pillar in a collapsing regime.?

Zimbabwean election officials plan to start a recount of the presidential and parliamentary votes in 23 districts. A ruling on an opposition challenge of a recount is expected Tuesday.

But election monitors say the late recount is illegal and are worried that they are vulnerable to fraud because the integrity of the ballot boxes has not been safeguarded.

Western diplomats said they were increasingly pessimistic that Mugabe would give up power willingly. "They said it appeared that he and his party were manipulating the electoral system to drag out the process, restore public fear and deprive the opposition of its political momentum," reports the New York Times.

They predict that if Mugabe stays in office, as many as a million more Zimbabweans would flee the country.

Political rallies have been banned and foreign journalists have been arrested and detained.

Opposition supporters in rural areas have been beaten by youth militias and veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, according to citizen groups and the opposition.

More than 40 Zimbabwean civic and trade union groups had signed a letter on Monday demanding action from Zimbabwe’s neighbors to compel the government to announce the results and to prevent tampering with the vote.

But Elinor Sisulu, a South African with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition in Johannesburg, said the situation is evidence that "quiet diplomacy has failed".

. “It’s careless and insensitive of President Mbeki to make that statement,? she said. “It enables impunity from the regime.?

April 11, 2008

Racial Diversity Analysis

The news story I found on racial and ethic diversity is an editorial titled, "Race and the Social Contract." The editorial addressed how a diverse population leads to less focus on unite social issues and spending money on things devoted to social good — roads, sewage, education and trash clearance — is lessend because of racial diversity. This story ran in the New York Times.

Being an editorial, this story moves far beyond the general stereotypes of the different ethnic groups, and moves into the possiblity of different racial groups spending less on social issues due to money going towards another ethnic group.

"Ten years ago, William Julius Wilson wrote that American whites rebelled against welfare because they saw it as using their hard-earned taxes to give blacks 'medical and legal services that many of them could not afford for their own families,'? reports the New York Times.

The story uses a varitety of methods, including quoting famous figures in history such as Friedrich Engels of the Communist Manifesto, and bringing their ideas into present times with quotes from Barak Obama. He demonstrates how issues of the past are still lingering on into the present by including these two sources. The story also uses numbers and data to demonstrate how little the United States spends on welfare programs and social spending in relation to other countires.

"Among the 30 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of industrial countries, only Mexicans, Koreans and Greeks pay less in taxes than Americans, as a share of the economy. The United States also ranks near the bottom on public spending on social programs: 19 percent of the nation’s total output in 2003, compared with 29 percent in Sweden, 23 percent in Portugal and almost 30 percent in France," reports the New York Times.

All of these methods combined create a story that paints a very interesting portrait of a ever-divided America. The data adds a factual feel to the peice, while the quotes bring the story into larger, historical context. Together they taught me that Americans are still divided by race and ethnicity, and that it has a larger affect on the social programs in the country.


April 10, 2008

Elton John Gives $2.5 Million to Clinton Campaign

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is still making the big bucks, and Wednesday night she tapped one of pop music's most respected musicians to help her campaign with $2.5 million, reported MSNBC

Elton John played a benefit concert for Clinton at Radio City Music Hall.

"I've always been a Hillary supporter," the 61-year-old rocker said before launching into his 1970 breakthrough hits, "Your Song" and "Border Song." "There is no one more qualified to lead America."

"I'm amazed by the misogynistic attitudes of some of the people in this country. And I say to hell with them .... I love you Hillary, I'll be there for you," he said.

According to campaign aids, the cheapest tickets, $125 and $250, sold out quickly.

"The other seats were filled by fans paying as much as $2,300, the limit for an individual's contribution to a federal candidate," reports MSNBC.

Also gracing the stage that night was Clinton, her husband, former President Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.

Hillary Clinton stood defiant infront of the audience.

"What I want you to know is I'm still standing, and I believe this country is worth fighting for," the New York senator said, playing off the title of one of John's hits. "So we're taking our campaign to Pennsylvania and all the states that haven't voted."

Clinton celebrated her 60th birthday last october with star-studded fundraiser at New York's Beacon Theater that featured actor Billy Crystal and musicians Elvis Costello and the Wallflowers. It earned hermore than $1.5 million for her presidential campaign.

Burrell Guilty of First Degree Murder

Myon Burrell was found guilty on Wednesday of the murder of Tyesha Edwards, more than five years after she was killed while doing her homework at the dining room table, reports the Star Tribune.

"Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter found Burrell guilty of four counts: first-degree murder and first-degree murder for the benefit of a gang, attempted first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for the benefit of a gang. Porter acquitted him of five similar charges involving drive-by shooting," reports the Tribune.

Linda Longino, Tyesha's mother, wept when the verdict was read.

This is the second time Burrel has been tried for the girl's death. Tyesha Edwards was 11-years-old in November 2002 when a bullet from a gang shootout pierced the wall of her south Minneapolis home and struck her in the heart.

The prosecution said that Edwards was killed by Burrell, a Rolling 30s Bloods gang member, who was shooting at a member of the rival Gangster Disciples.

The defense contends that the case was a rush to judgment and that Burrell was charged in a " volitile politic atmosphere because of community outrage over Edwards' death," the Tribune reported. In a bid to solve the killing quickly, police failed to follow other leads, the defense also said.

April 8, 2008

General Resists Troop Withdrawl from Iraq

The commander of multinational forces in Iraq refused to offer an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year on Tuesday, reports the New York Times.

Gen. David H. Petraeus warned Congress against removing “too many troops too quickly. ? He was met by sharp criticism from senior Democrat, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, that the Bush administration had adopted “a war plan with no exit strategy.?

General Petraeus said that security progress has been “significant but uneven.? He declined to estimate American troop levels beyond the withdrawal by July of five additional combat brigades sent to Iraq last year.

He recommend a 45-day pause in which senators could review once again whether there should be further troop reductions. He called it a period of “consolidation and evaluation.?

“This process will be continuous, with recommendations for further reductions made as conditions permit,? General Petraeus said. “This approach does not allow establishment of a set withdrawal timetable. However, it does provide the flexibility those of us on the ground need to preserve the still-fragile security gains our troopers have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to achieve.?

Senator Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that Bush’s attempt at creating “breathing room? for political progress by sending five additional combat brigades last year “has not been achieved.?

“That reality leads many of us to once again challenge President Bush’s policies,? Levin said.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican Party presidential nominee, called rapid withdrawal from Iraq "reckless and irresponsible", and said an early departure of American troops would be “a failure of moral and political leadership.?

"It is possible to talk with real hope and optimism about the future of Iraq and the outcome of our efforts there," McCain said.

April 7, 2008

Paparazzi and Chauffer Blamed for Princess Diana's Death

A London jury at a British inquest found Monday that Princess Diana and her lover, Dodi al-Fayed, were unlawfully killed by the negligent driving of their chauffeur and photographers who pursued the couple’s Mercedes into a Paris underpass over 10 years ago, reports the New York Times.

The case has seized attention in Britain and around the world since the collision in August 1997.Coming soon after Diana’s divorce from Prince Charles, "her death inspired a wave of soul-searching among Britons that threatened to dissolve their attachment to the monarchy," reports the New York Times.

An earlier police inquiry had found that Diana and Fayed had died in a tragic accident as they sought to escape the attentions of the paparazzi photographers. They were being driven to Dodi al-Fayed’s apartment.

But Fayed insisted that the two had been killed in a conspiracy by the British security services acting under instruction from Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.

These aquistions were discounted at the trial.

During the hearings that took place Monday, the jurors were told that a verdict of unlawful killing was tantamount to manslaughter.

But the jury resolved that the ‘’crash was caused, or contributed to, by the speed and manner of the driver of the Mercedes and the speed and manner of the pursuing vehicles.?

The jury reached its decision by a majority vote of 9-2. The panel found that Paul’s judgment had been impaired by alcohol.

Fayed senior said he was disappointed at the result of the inquest, insisting that members of the royal family should have been called as witnesses.

The inquest also lookied into details of Diana's private life that had been previously been kept secret.

Members of the Britain’s MI6 secret services were called to testify that they had not mounted a conspiracy to assassinate Diana.

"The inquest cost around $6 million but the overall cost of investigations into the road-crash was around $20 million," reports the New York Times.