April 2010 Archives

Bald Eagles Flock to Mississippi River

The National Park Service reports a 25% increase in eagle aeries along the Mississippi River, according to an article in The Star Tribune.

Seven new aeries have been spotted along the river between Dayton & Hastings. Ramsey County Parks officials attribute the rise in bald eagle population to the effectiveness of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act has improved the Mississippi River's fisheries, allowing eagle parents to provide more for their young.

Eagle aeries have been sighted closer and closer to urban areas. One is near the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport, another along Interstate 694 near Fridley.

Six killed in car crash

A 16-year old driver is the only survivor of a two-car collision that killed all four passengers in her vehicle and two in another car early Sunday morning near Cambridge, Minn., reported The Star Tribune.

The survivor had her license for only three weeks, according to The Pioneer Press. Minnesota state law prohibits young drivers who have had their license for less than six months to drive unaccompanied between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and also prohibit driving more than one passenger under the age of 20.

Police said that the vehicle driven by the survivor smelled of alcohol. The driver could face criminal charges.

Greece accepts bailout

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou formally accepted the European Union's proffered €45 billion in financial aid Friday, according to an article in The New York Times.

The announcement came after Greece's bond market took a sharp downturn, forcing Athens to accept the aid, which is equivalent to $53 billion, according to CNN.

The bailout money, EU officials said, will hopefully be dispersed as quickly as possible, but there are many critics of the disbursement. Germany, with the largest economy of the euro zone, was hesitant, but one German official said that saving Greece would be in Germany's national interest as well, since it saves the euro.

Other critics wonder at what the procedure will be for other economically failing countries like Portugal and Spain, if they should prove to default on loans also.

Obama subpoenaed in Blagojevich case

According to an article from the AP, the defense lawyers for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich have asked a for a subpoena Thursday of President Barack Obama for Blagojevich's corruption case.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the defense lawyers say that there is some pertinent information to the case that only the president and the former governor know. This information could possibly prove the governor innocent.

The filing of the subpoena request had much "classified" information redacted, but a "computer glitch" has allowed the full redaction to be posted on the Internet.

Security officials for the president have requested that a pre-recorded video of Obama's testimony be used in the case, rather than having the president present in the courtroom.

Analysis: Computer-Assisted Reporting

A story published in March from Fort Wayne, Ind., The Journal Gazette used computer assisted reporting to uncover a story about violations of the EPA's Clean Air Act across the state of Indiana.

The reporters used the EPA's searchable database in order to find that nearly two-thirds of Indiana companies with permits to create air pollutants had violated the act. The violations, after three years have still been left unresolved.

Heightned Police Patrols for Spring Jam Weekend

On the University Of Minnesota twin Cities Campus, police intend to increase security and patrols around off-campus housing for the 2010 Spring Jam weekend, according to a Thursday article in The Minnesota Daily.

UMPD plans to tighten security measures in response to last year's Dinkytown riot that occurred during the 2009 Spring Jam. Cars were set alight, underage drinking, and general unruliness cast a dismal light over this year's activities

The increased patrolling will include preemptive door-knocking to prevent underage drinking and to ensure students don't get too drunk, one of the main causes of the riot last year, reported MPRNewsQ.

Mpls police sergeant struck by drunk driver

A Minneapolis police sergeant was taken to the hospital after being struck by a drunk driver Thursday, according to MPR NewsQ.

The sergeant had been inspecting another drunk driver who had driven into a pole. While speaking with the driver, the sergeant was struck by another speeding car, reported KARE 11 News.

The second driver sped away but was then apprehended a few blocks later by other police personnel. After a breathalyzer test, the driver blew a .248, more than three times the legal limit of blood alcohol content.

The officer who was struck suffered only minor injuries and was released Thursday morning.

Dems. and White House team up to push financial reform

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have united once again to back a bill that creates new financial reform earlier this week, reported The New York Times.

The new bill looks to curb risk-taking expenditures by large financial firms--the cause of the 2008 recession--and put such companies under the oversight of the Federal Reserve. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury would be able to "take over any company that posed systemic risk to financial stability, and essentially force the company out of business."

But Republicans have rigidly opposed the bill. All 41 Republican senators signed a letter promising to filibuster once the bill hits the floor in the coming week, according to ABC News.

In response, President Obama and other leading Democrats like Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Christopher Dodd have harshly admonished the Party of No for trying to halt the reform. Republicans have been accused of working in favor of Wall Street.

The impetus for the reform, reported ABC News, was the federal governments recent civil suit against Goldman Sachs for mortgage fraud.

Obama requires hospitals to give visitation rights to LGBT couples

A recent article from Reuters reported that President Obama wrote a memo to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that LGBT couples should be allowed to visit their partners in the hospital.

In his memo, Obama ordered that all hospitals that receive Medicaid or Medicare should adhere to his new policy, according to The L.A. Times.

"Every day across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay," Obama wrote. President Obama also noted that hospitals deny visitation to widows or widowers without children and people of religious orders when the patient has no relatives.

The memo marks a big step for the Obama administration in LGBT politics. Supporting the LGBT movement and giving more rights to homosexual couples was one of President Obama's platforms during his campaign and now, over a year into his presidency, he has been slow to act on the issue. But since January, President Obama has been looking to repeal the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Volcanic Eruption Shuts Down European Air Travel

According to The Guardian, a volcano that erupted near Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland, Wednesday sent huge plumes of ash into the atmosphere, causing flight cancellations as far south as Paris, and St. Petersburg, Russia, to the east.

Nearly 6,000 flights were canceled due to the clouds of ash, reported The New York Times. The ash clouds are made up of a silicate compound that can severely damage an airplane's engines.

Currently, planes can only fly under what the Guardian calls "agreed emergencies." European airports are likely to be shut down through the weekend, or until the eruption abates.

The eruption caused the most flight cancellations since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Iceland, known for its great geothermal activity, experienced a volcanic eruption in March that only recently died down.

Vulcanologists predict that the clouds of ash may remain in European airspace for up to six months. The last time the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted was in 1821 and the ash lingered for nearly two years.

TBS takes up Conan's standard

After a standoff that has lasted months, late-night TV host Conan O'Brien has signed a contract with TBS, according to a report from The Chicago Tribune.

Up until Monday, rumors circulated that Conan intended to sign with Fox. But after 70 hours of negotiations, reported NPR, Conan finally signed on for an 11 p.m. ET slot with an encore presentation at 2 a.m.

The Tribune said Conan received an encouraging call from fellow comedian George Lopez to join him on TBS. The station hopes that the younger audiences that this power duo can draw will help boost ratings.

iPad Apps the New Gold Rush for Developers

In light of Apple's much anticipated release of the iPad Saturday, application developers have been scrambling to create profitable apps that play up the new tech's capabilities, according to an article in The New York Times.

Apple wanted its App Store to contain 1,000 applications for the sleek new iPad for the device's opening sales. But that required of many code writers and developers to boldly go where no app developer had gone before--converting iPhone and iTouch apps to fit iPad's improved capabilities and to create new applications that are even better than their original bestsellers.


The San Francisco Chronicle
reported that of the 1,000 different developers Apple asked to create the first wave of iPad apps, only a handful actually received a real iPad to test their applications on. Many had to create their applications on an iPad simulator on a laptop and waited until Satuday when they could purchase their own iPad to see if their apps actually worked.

The iPad has met the public with mixed reviews. Some bloggers from the NY Times hoped for greater capacity and range of tasks for the iPad while others appreciate the device's innovation. Either way, Apple is certainly raking in the chips.

Kowalski's Market Recalls Hams

Kowalski's Market recalled some ham products on Easter Sunday due to the risk of listeria bacteria contamination, reported MPRNewsQ.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause a disease called listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease with symptoms of nausea, neck stiffness, and can cause miscarriage, according to KSTP TV News.

The recalled hams were labeled as "Kowalski's Signature Smoked Ham" and came from the Lorentz Meats company, based out of Cannon Falls.

Mike Lorentz, the owner of Lorentz Meats, said that although only a small percentage of the products were contaminated he decided to "err on the side of caution" and recall all of the product with a sell/freeze by date of 05/14/2010.

7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks U.S.-Mexico Border

An earthquake with a magnitude of about 7.2 on the Richter scale struck the Baja California Sunday, leaving at least one man dead, reported The L.A. Times.

The quake's was centered about 108 miles south of Tijuana but was felt as far north as Phoenix and Las Vegas, according to The New York Times.

Residents in Los Angeles and San Diego reported major swaying of buildings and streets in those cities. Some businesses and establishments suffered broken windows and inventory, but Southern California was well prepared to handle earthquakes.

Conversely, information from bordertown cities and northwestern Mexican regions has been slow in coming. There have been many reports to Mexican authorities of property damage, water pipe and gas line leaks, but as of yet, only one death.

This earthquake is the third major quake in the Southern Hemisphere as many months.

E.P.A.'s Regulations on Water Pollution Affect Mining Industry

The Environmental Protection Agency enacted new regulations Thursday that set higher standards for permissible water pollution, and in doing so forced the mining industry to change their practices, said The New York Times.

The administrator for the EPA, Lisa P. Jackson, said, "The underpinning of the guidance is a growing body of science demonstrating that devastation of ecosystems in Appalachian states is being caused by mountaintop mining," according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Mountaintop mining is a process wherein the top of a mountain is detonated to expose the valuable minerals within. The rubble is then deposited in a valley, where rain runoff can pick up dangerous metals and minerals, increasing the water's conductivity and ruining natural ecosystems.

Mining companies have called the E.P.A.'s new regulations "disingenuous" and claimed that the rules would effect the job market in already poor states like West Virginia and Kentucky.

March job report promising, but still a long way to go...

162,000 new jobs were added to the United States economy in March, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor on Friday, reported The New York Times.

The report revealed the best improvements to the economy in the last three years, although the economy, though slowly strengthening, is still far from full recovery, said The Chicago Tribune.

The New York Times said the figures for March, though promising, were inflated due to the 48,000 temporary workers the government hired for the census and the fact that the snowstorms that harangued the East Coast in February kept more people out of work than anticipated.

Also, many of the jobs created in March were part-time positions, and the people that filled them were looking for full-time work. This caused the underemployment rate to rise from 16.8 percent to 16.9.

Even though the economy and the jobs market has yet a steep hill yet to climb, President Obama called the report "the best news we've seen on the job front in more than two years."

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