March 2010 Archives

New bin Laden Video Causes Major Stir

CNN reported Thursday that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has possibly released a new video that threatens to kill any captured Americans should the United States execute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Mohammed, whom U.S. forces captured in 2003 and was charged with murder and war crimes in connection with the 9/11 attacks in 2008, might now be facing the death penalty, Pentagon officials said. His death could be perceived as martyrdom in the al-Qaida community, according to the AP.

Clips from the video aired on the Arab-language network Al-Jazeera. CNN official Octavia Nasr believed the video was authentic.

In the message, bin Laden claimed that President Obama was following in the footsteps of President George W. Bush. Bin Laden also called for the relinquishing of Palestinian lands to Islamic hands.

Changing the Rules to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

In February, I noted here on The Query the Pentagon's intentions to change the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Now, NPR reported that preliminary changes to the policy have indeed been made.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced at a press conference on Thursday the major changes which essentially makes pressing charges against a homosexual soldier more difficult, reported USA Today.

The changes ensure that third-party information and hearsay are not included when examining a soldier's sexuality. Also, the bar has been raised on the rank of officer who can authorize investigations and discharges.

The new procedures will be enacted across the entire military immediately. Although, many Democratic lawmakers, including the president and Sen. Carl Levin, call for a full repeal of the exclusive policy.

In response to the calls for repeal, Mullen and Gates said that it is important to wait for results from a governmental research study about the policy due to for completion in December in order to make a comprehensive decision.

Booze at the Bank

According to an article in The Star Tribune, a bill currently in the Minnesota Senate would allow alcohol to be served in the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.

A year ago, the university had plans to only sell alcohol in the premium seats of the stadium, but Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the State Legislature demanded stadium-wide sales, or none at all. In response, the university opted for a dry stadium.

Now, in light of the Legislature's $36 million budget cuts on the university, the alcohol debate is revived, reported MPRNewsQ. Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL--St. Paul, said that the university was losing up to $1 million in potential revenue due to the alcohol ban.

The alcohol proposal is part of a larger higher education bill that will address budget cut issues. The revenue gained from alcohol sales at TCF Bank stadium would go toward an athletic scholarship fund.

White House Scouts 3 Officials for Fed Board

The White House identified three possible candidates, two economists and one lawyer, Friday for the openings on the Federal Reserve Board, according to an article in The New York Times.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the officials are Jane Yellen, current president of the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, Peter Diamond, an Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, and Sarah Raskin, a Harvard graduate currently serving as commissioner on Maryland's board of financial regulation.

But the candidates are not yet official nominees. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Yellen is "a leading contender" for vice chairwoman while the other candidates are "under strong consideration for additional vacancies."

The candidates represent a wide range of financial experience and expertise. Yellen concentrates on creating jobs and economic growth, Diamond's strength is Social Security, and Raskin promotes more financial regulation.

These views could bring a new outlook to a Federal Reserve Board that has been more focused on decreasing inflation and interest rates in recent years.

Israeli Housing Project Threatens Peace Talks

Israel announced Tuesday that it will erect 1,600 new Jewish housing units in the disputed area of East Jerusalem, said a report on MPR's All Things Considered.

The announcement came at a very untimely moment as Vice President Joe Biden arrived to encourage preliminary peace talks between the contending states of Israel and Palestine. The vice president condemned Israel for jeopardizing the talks, according to CNN.

Officials from Israel's Ministry of the Interior said that the housing project has been three years in the making and that the announcement was just poorly timed.

But Palestinians are not upset with when the announcement was given, but about its inflammatory consequences. Biden stressed that a state like Palestine needs a contiguous territory to be well managed.

After over a year without any steps towards peace negotiations, the Israelis latest action could ruin this new chance.

Earthquake of 6.2 hits Turkey, kills 11

The AP reported that an earthquake struck Turkey at 7:32 CST, leaving 11 people dead. Although, a more recent report from The Bangkok Post said that the death toll had risen to 17.

The epicenter of the quake was in the small Turkish village of Basyurt, but most of the victims were from the nearby village of Okcular where buildings collapsed.

Four of the victims were children, according to the AP.

Earthquakes are not uncommon to Turkey, as most of the country lies upon the North Anatolian fault. Deadlier quakes struck the country in 1999 that killed over 18,000 people.

Over 100 Dead After Attack on Nigerian Christian Communities

An attack from a Islamic group left 107 Christian Nigerians dead in the town of Jos, Nigeria, early Sunday morning, reported CNN.

Attackers from the Islamic Hausa-Fulani ethnic group assailed the predominantly Christian town of the Derom ethnic group around 3 a.m., using gunfire to bring the citizens out of their homes, only to strike the frightened victims with machetes. The attackers also burned down the houses of the town.

According to the BBC, most of the victims were women, children, and the elderly who were not quick enough to escape the attackers.

The BBC also reported that acting President Goodluck Jonathon has put Nigeria's armed forces on high alert to prevent more violence and the trafficking of weapons in the plateau region of Jos.

This is not the first of ethno-religious clashes in the region in recent years. CNN reported that 150 Muslims were killed in a town south of Jos in January, and over 700 in a Muslim-Christian riot in November of 2008.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with about 250 to 400 different ethnic groups residing within its borders. The population is almost evenly divided between Islam and Christianity.

Analysis: Multimedia

The two organizations that provide the best multimedia news experience are The New York Times and MPRNewsQ.

Headlining articles are often published with accompanying photos, slideshows, or videos on the website. Each organization provides multiple blog opinions, giving readers many different points of view on key topics. Also, alongside of these two main modes of distribution, print and radio respectively, they offer iPhone applications that allow a reader to have access to even more information than the website all on their portable device.

All these amenities give a reader a broader view of the issue at hand. They also allow a reader to become more loyal, as if their news is branded into the best organization that provides the most.

And true to each organization's form of high standards, the writing does not falter between the main mode of news distribution and the auxiliary multimedia. Captions to slideshows, transcripts from broadcast, and videos all retain a sense of objective and in-depth news coverage, but also give the reader a little something extra, like a more personal voice to the story or an engagement of more of the senses.

In my opinion, The New York Times and MPRNewsQ (and by association NPR in general) are the only news organizations that have achieved a serviceable and marketable business model to deliver the news.

*Note: I accidentally switched my analysis entries between the weeks of 2/22 and 3/1. The analysis entry on press releases was posted on 2/27 @ 8:05 p.m.

U of M Students Protest Administrative Budget Remedies

About 200 protesters comprised of students, faculty, and staff marched on the University of Minnesota Mall Thursday against the university administration's proposed remedies to the budget shortfall, reported WCCO News.

Because of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's multimillion dollar cut of state funding to the university, administrators have proposed up to a 32% tuition hike and a three-day salary furlough for all university workers, while members of that same administration retains salaries of six figures, wrote The Minnesota Daily.

As part of the "National Day of Action for Public Education," the U of M was one of many American universities to hold student protests against administration. The main complaint and rallying cry for the U of M's protest was "Chop from the top!", which demands that overpaid administrators give up some of their large salary before letting struggling low-level university workers and students shoulder the burden of the budget shortfall.

At the core of the protest, though, was a cry for more transparent and shared governance. Professors who participated in the protest complained that curricula and how to teach are dictated by administrators who never walk into classrooms, a policy that they say needs to change.

The protesters began in front of Morrill Hall, where administrative departments are housed, and marched across the Mall to Coffman Memorial Union.

Nation's Capital Allows Same-Sex Marriage

LGBT citizens of Washington, D.C., were granted the opportunity to apply for marriage licenses Wednesday, according to an article in The New York Times.

The District of Columbia now joins five other regions across the country that allow same-sex marriage, including Iowa, West Va., N.H., Mass., and Conn.

Couples of all ages and ethnicities lined up at the Moultrie Courthouse to apply for their licenses early on Wednesday morning. Tears and exclamations of joy pervaded the scene, reported The Washington Post.

Only a handful of protesters from Kansas arrived, but many more college students LGBT alliance members provided support to those receiving their historic licenses.

The event came after a long-awaited legislative debacle. In December, the city's same-sex marriage bill passed easily with a 11-2 vote in the city council, which has two openly gay members. But since the nation's capital is not part of any state, the legislation had to go under Congressional review, which finally passed on Tuesday.

In the wake of Washington's new law, more states are looking at a same-sex marriage option. Maryland may begin to recognize same-sex couples married in other states, and Minn., just proposed a same-sex marriage law in the State Senate.

Prehistoric Showdown Captured in Fossils

Scientists discovered a rare fossil formation in India that depicts a prehistoric snake attacking a dinosaur hatchling, NPR reported Tuesday.

The fossil is about 67 million years old and gives scientists a glimpse of this particular snake species's (called Sanajeh indicus) behavior. The area in which the fossil was found was a popular place for sauropod dinosaurs, which are a kind of long-necked gargantuan herbivores.

But when these gentle giants are newly hatched, they are the perfect meal for a waiting 12 ft. snake.

Jeffrey Wilson, a professor at the University of Michigan, is credited with the fantastic discovery, said the AP. Scientists have found several sauropod nests near the dig site, and even some with Sanajeh indicus fossils nearby. But never with such an intricate interaction.

"I saw the characteristic vertebral locking mechanism of snakes alongside dinosaur eggshell and larger bones, and I knew it was an extraordinary specimen," Wilson told the AP.

Scientists predict that this snake-dinosaur interaction was preserved in fossil form due to an instantaneous mudslide or volcanic incident, though this fact is not entirely clear.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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