April 2012 Archives

Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

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The story "Towing jumps as plowing records fall" in the Minnesota Daily used computer-assisted reporting to analyze the number of cars towed in the Twin Cities last winter.

According to the article, last winter set the record for the largest number of snow emergencies called in the Twin Cities. The author tracked the number of cars towed and where they were towed from and compared these numbers to previous years.

To write this story, the reporter needed to locate records of the number of cars towed for at least the past two winters for the Twin Cities. He then had to analyze where they were located and how these numbers stacked up to past years.

In addition to the number of cars towed, the author also had to locate records showing how many snow emergencies have been called in past years and what the record amounts of snow are.

These records were located online, so the reporter needed to use the computer to access them. Then he needed to analyze the data to see how how the number of cars towed increased in different areas of the cities. The number increased in each section, but not proportionally--the number of cars towed around the university only increased slightly, where other areas increased much more drastically. Analyzing the data helped him develop and angle for the story and know what questions to ask to figure out why this might be.

The use of computer-assisted reporting helped the author to identify changes in the data showing the number of cars towed, and further analysis of this data revealed a trend: the record number of snow emergencies tied with the increase in cars towed and the large amount of snow last winter.

Arizona will defend its immigration law before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday against charges by the Obama administration. The case is expected to be a landmark decision, determining whether states have the right to enforce federal immigration laws as they see fit, news sources report.

Senate Bill 1070 made it a state crime to be in the country illegally, among other things. The bill allowed police "to check the immigration status of people they lawfully stop and suspect of being in the country illegally. If they were unable to show a driver's license or other 'proof of legal presence,' they would be arrested and held for federal immigration agents. Arizona also would make it a crime to lack immigration papers or for illegal immigrants to seek work," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration says mere "unlawful presence" in this country is not a federal crime, and it opposes state efforts to round up and arrest more illegal immigrants. Instead, the administration has gone after drug traffickers, smugglers, violent felons, security risks and repeat border crossers. Last year, nearly 400,000 people were deported, a record high, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other states have begun to roll out copycat versions of the bill. The Supreme Court's decision will determine whether Arizona, and therefore, all states, have the right to enforce federal immigration laws the way they see fit. The U.S. Department of Justice in its lawsuit argued that immigration is an issue that only the federal government can address. The state argued that SB 1070 mirrors federal law and assists the federal government in enforcement, USA Today reported.

The debate is especially charged as the presidential election looms around the corner, and illegal immigration remains a key partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats. There is an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"This could be one of the most significant immigration decisions of the last 20 or 30 years," University of California-Davis School of Law Dean Kevin Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. "It raises all kinds of issues that make for great cases: Immigration is an issue of great public importance, it raises issues of state versus federal power and it comes at a time when there is a lot of attention being focused on what's going on on the border."

9-year-old killed in 'freak' dirt biking accident


A 9-year-old Oak Grove boy died in what authorities are calling a "tragic, freak accident" while dirt biking Friday night, despite wearing proper safety equipment, news sources report.

Friends found Nick Engler badly injured and not breathing near his dirt bike and called for help. The first responder to the scene was Rob Engler, Oak Grove's assistant fire chief and Nick's father, the Star Tribune reported.

Engler tried to revive his son, but Nick died at the scene, WCCO reported.

Authorities are unsure of what happened because there were no witnesses who saw Nick crash his bike. An autopsy report has not yet been released, but Anoka County Lt. Paul Lenzmeier said it appeared Engler died of head injuries, the Star Tribune reproted.

Lenzmeier called the tragedy a "freak accident" because Engler was wearing a helmet, chest protector, gloves and motocross boots. "It wasn't the case of negligence on anyone's part," he told the Star Tribune.

The accident occurred on the 19600 block of Dogwood Avenue in Oak Grove. With his parents' permission, Engler went to a homemade dirt track near his family's home around 7 p.m., WCCO reported.

It's "a fluke accident," Fire Chief Curt Hallermann told the Star Tribune. "It's such a shock and tragic loss."

Arizona has passed a law that says pregnancy can begin two weeks before a child has been conceived, news sources report.

The bill changes the system that determines the age of a fetus, using the date of the woman's last period rather than the date of conception. The bill also bans all abortions after 20 weeks, or 18 weeks using the old system, except in the case of medical emergency, the Huffington Post reported.

The mandate will affect a relatively small number of abortions in the state -- only about 2 percent, according to the group behind the bill -- but the measure includes other aspects placing additional requirements on doctors, abortion clinics, and the state's health department, Reuters reported.

Such restrictions include requiring women to have ultrasounds at least 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion, forcing women considering abortion because of fetal abnormalities to undergo counseling, requiring clinics to post signs warning against abortion coercion, requiring doctors and the state's health department to provide additional information about abortion's risks, mandating a state-run website with adoption information and images of developing fetuses, and requiring school districts to promote parenthood or adoption as more acceptable than abortion, according to Reuters.

Those opposed to the bill see the new mandate as another blow to reproductive rights. The Center for Reproductive Rights' state advocacy counsel, Jordan Goldberg said the new law "disregards women's health," according to the Huffington Post.

"The women of Arizona can't access medical treatment that other women can," the Huffington Post quoted her as saying to the Daily Beast.

Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law Thursday, saying it would "safeguard our most vulnerable population-the unborn," according to the Huffington Post.

A commercial airliner flying in stormy weather crashed near the Pakistan capital of Islamabad Friday, killing all 127 passengers and crew members on board, news sources report.

The Bohja Air flight had departed from Karachi just after 5 p.m. It had been due to land at the Islamabad airport around 6:40 p.m. Rescuers discovered bodies and debris from the plane, an aged Boeing 737-200, were found scattered three to four miles from the airport, the Miami Herald reported.

Retired Navy pilot Arshad Mehmood witnessed the crash and rushed to the scene. "The pilot lost control and hit the ground," he told television reporters, according to the New York Times. "It tossed up due to the impact and exploded and came down in a fireball."

"We got there within five minutes. There were dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. We could find no survivors," he was quoted in the Miami Herald.

Four nearby homes were damaged in the crash. No one on the ground was killed, but the 121 passengers, including 11 children, and six crew members all perished, Islamabad police chief Bani Yameen told the New York Times.

Air Bhoja took an 11-year hiatus because of financial difficulties in 2000. It was reopened last month, and this flight was the first on the Karachi-Islamabad route since the reopening, the New York Times reported.

This was the second major plane crash near the capital in as many years. In 2010, a flight crashed into hills near the city, killing all 152 people on board. This aircraft was flown by Airblue, another private airline, the New York Times reported.

The number of crashes at this airport have sparked frequent outcry of corruption and poor maintenance of the Pakistani airline industry.

"This is not about bad weather; I don't buy that," said Arif Abbasi, a former chief executive of Pakistan International Airlines, the state carrier. "The state of aviation in this country leaves much to be desired."

The Civil Aviation Authority announced it is launching an investigation of the crash, the New York Times reported.

A bill that would allow alcohol sales at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium is halfway to Gov. Mark Dayton, news sources report.

The Senate voted 55-3 Friday in favor of changing the liquor law. The House is expected to vote soon as well, the Star Tribune reported.

Originally, the University hoped to sell alcohol in premium suite seating areas only, but current law states they must sell to at least one-third of the seats in the stadium's general seating or none at all. The University said this would make it too hard to police underage drinking and denied sales, according to the Star Tribune.

The proposal is part of a larger liquor bill that would require the University to make alcohol available to those of age in the general seating area during events, including any potential Vikings games, MPR reported.

New language in the bill gives the University the control it needs, allowing it to restrict alcohol sales and consumption to one area, likely a beer garden, University spokesman Chuck Tombarge told MPR.

"This new legislation both makes alcohol accessible to those that are of drinking age in the general seating area but does so in a way that allows the university to contain it and do it responsibly," he said.

The measure would allow alcohol sales through halftime, MPR reported.

School bus driver accused of 'sexting' Wisconsin boy

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A 51-year-old school bus driver has been accused of texting nude pictures of himself to an 11-year-old passenger, news sources report.

Bobb Bergman of Schley, Wisconsin, has been charged with stalking and three other felonies. Bergman posted bond and was released from Lincoln County Jail, the Pioneer Press reported.

The criminal complaint does not identify the school district or bus company that employed Bergman, the Pioneer Press reported.

The boy's parents told authorities that the boy received 10 photos from Bergman's cellphone, including some of male genitalia, WCCO reported.

Bergman also allegedly asked the boy to collect other students' cell phone numbers, according to the Pioneer Press.

Prosecutors charged Amy Senser, 45, with a third felony criminal vehicular-homicide offense Thursday, alleging she was talking on her cellphone when she struck and killed a man on an interstate highway exit ramp, news sources report.

The wife of former Minnesota Vikings player Joe Senser is already facing two felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident and failing to alert law enforcement about the incident as quickly as possible, according to the Star Tribune.

The trial was scheduled to begin April 23. It is unclear whether the new charge will cause a delay, the Star Tribune reported.

Senser has acknowledged that she was the driver of the 2009 Mercedes ML350 that struck and killed 38-year-old Anousone Phanthavong of Roseville on Aug. 23, but she has pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal vehicular-homicide and maintains she was unaware she had hit a person, the Pioneer Press reported.

Phanthavong was filling his car with gas on the Riverside Avenue exit ramp off of Interstate 94 when he was struck around 11:10 p.m. He died at the scene, while Senser drove on, the Pioneer Press reported.

Nearly 24 hours after the crash, Senser's lawyer, Eric Nelson, alerted the Minnesota State Patrol that the SUV involved in the crash belonged to the Sensers, but the driver was not revealed. Nine days later, Nelson informed investigators that Senser was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash, according to the Pioneer Press.

Suspect arrested in Minneapolis shooting death

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A Minneapolis man has been arrested in connection with the north Minneapolis shooting death of Jody Patzner, Jr., news sources report.

Hezekiah Cory Hamilton, 24, was arrested Tuesday night and is currently being held at Hennepin County Jail, Minneapolis Police Sgt. Steven McCarty told WCCO News.

Patzner, 22, was shot Monday while riding a bike a block from his north Minneapolis home with a plate of lasagna for an ill family friend, the Star Tribune reported.

A neighbor told the Star Tribune that three youths confronted Patzner as he biked along Fremont Avenue North. According to the neighbor, the youths yelled that they wanted his bike. Then the neighbor heard two gunshots and saw the assailants run away.

Patzner biked for 30 feet then collapsed on the sidewalk of the 3500 block of Fremont Avenue N., the Star Tribune reported.

Hamilton has a criminal history that includes convictions of assault, terroristic threats and drug possession, according to the Star Tribune.

An Argentine baby was mistakenly pronounced dead after her premature birth and withstood nearly 12 hours in a morgue refrigerator before being found alive, news sources report.

One-week-old Luz Milagros Veron was born on April 3, three months early, and had no vital signs, hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meirino told CNN.

The baby's body was put in a wooden coffin and placed it in the morgue's freezer. Around 10 p.m., the baby's parents, Fabian Veron and Analia Bouter, visited the morgue to take a photo of their dead daughter's body, CNN reported.

Bouter uncovered the lid and touched her daughter's hand. "That's where I heard a tiny little cry. I told myself I was imagining it -- it was my imagination. And then I stepped back and saw her waking up. It was as if she was saying 'Mama, you came for me!' Bouter told ABC News.

The ice-cold baby was rushed back to the neonatal ward, CNN reported.

"I can't explain what happened. Only that God has performed a miracle," Veron told CNN.

Bouter told ABC News that the family plans to sue the staff at Hospital Perrando in the city of Resistencia for malpractice.

According to Meirino, the hospital followed protocol. After the gynecologist and the neonatal doctor on hand both found no signs of life, they observed the baby before pronouncing her dead, Meirino told CNN.

According to ABC News, the five medical professionals who were in contact with the child have been suspended pending an official investigation, Rafael Sabatinelli, the deputy health minister in the northern province of Chaco, announced in a news conference.

The baby weighed 1 pound 12 ounces and was listed as critical but improving condition Wednesday at the same hospital where she was mistakenly pronounced dead.

George Zimmerman's lawyers withdraw from case

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George Zimmerman's attorneys withdrew from the Trayvon Martin case Tuesday, saying they have lost contact with their client and that Zimmerman has been speaking with people without their consent, news sources report.

The lawyers Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig claim Zimmerman has not been returning their phone calls or emails since Sunday, but he called special prosecutor Angela Corey and Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity even after they instructed him not to speak to anyone about the case, the Miami Herald reported.

Zimmerman's lawyers said Corey refused to talk to Zimmerman without his attorneys' consent and Hannity wouldn't tell them what was discussed, the Star Tribune reported.

Zimmerman also set up his own website, www.therealgeorgezimmerman.com, even as his lawyers were creating one for him at his request. Visitors to the site can donate money to cover Zimmerman's living and legal expenses, the Miami Herald reported.

"As of the last couple days he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails," the Star Tribune quoted Sonner from a news conference outside the courthouse. "He's gone on his own. I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case as representing him because I've lost contact with him."

Zimmerman, 28, shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 in the gated community in Sanford, Fla., but claimed the death was in self-defense. The news from Zimmerman's lawyers comes as many believe the special prosecutor is nearing a decision of whether to charge Zimmerman with a crime, the Star Tribune reported.

During the press conference, Sonner and Uhrig noted that Zimmerman has been under extreme pressure, and questioned his mental stability.

"This has been a terribly corrosive process. George Zimmerman, in our opinion, and from information made available to us, is not doing well emotionally, probably suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. We understand from others that he may have lost a lot of weight," Uhrig said, according to the Star Tribune.

"To handle it this way suggests that he may not be in complete control of what's going on. We're concerned for his emotional and physical safety."

Gophers linebacker found dead at age 22

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Gary Tinsley, a Gophers linebacker set to graduate next month, was found dead early Friday morning in Roy Wilkins Hall, news sources report. He was 22.

Authorities are awaiting autopsy results to release Tinsley's cause of death. Tinsley had no known prior medical conditions and there was no evidence of drug and alcohol use, University police Chief Greg Hestness told the Associated Press.

Tinsley watched a movie with some teammates in his room on Thursday night and went to bed around 11 p.m., a team spokesman told the Associated Press.

The next morning, one of Tinsley's roommates went to check on the player when his alarm sounded without being turned off. The roommate found Tinsley wasn't breathing, the Associated Press reported.

University police received a 911 call at about 7:40 a.m. Friday, the Minnesota Daily reported. Tinsley was pronounced dead at the scene about 8:15 a.m.

Hestness said there were no immediate signs of foul play, but police are treating it as a suspicious death because "the death of a young athlete is out of the ordinary," The Associated Press reported.

U grad will replace Sviggum as regent

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The Minnesota Legislature selected Tom Devine Wednesday to serve on the Board of Regents, news sources report.

Legislators voted Devine 110-75 over the other nominee, banker Robert Vogel of Elko New Market, MPR reported.

Devine is a Chanhassen insurance executive, a University of Minnesota graduate, and father to a University freshman and high school senior, according to MPR.

Devine will represent the 2nd Congressional District and will serve out the rest of former Regent Steve Sviggum's term, which ends in 2017, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Sviggum left the board in early March after a lengthy revied concluded his positions as regent and communications chief with the Senate Republican Caucus created a conflict of interest, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Analysis: Death of rape victim in Morocco

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The article "Death of Rape Victim in Morocco Sparks Calls for Legal Reform" in the New York Times described a tragic story of a young girl in Morocco who committed suicide after being forced to marry her rapist.

According to the article, Moroccan law protects a rapist from prosecution if he agrees to marry his victim. The law is designed to restore the lost honor of the victim and her family, but some say it effectively legitimizes the crime, and the victim has no say in the decision.

The death of the Moroccan rape victim sparked public outcry for reform, the New York Times reported, citing various public officials and activists. The article did not specify if these activists are currently living in Morocco, or if they are in the United States. This left me wondering where specifically the outcry was coming from, and why there were no comments in the story from everyday people in Morocco if the event caused such an outcry.

Because I am not familiar with Moroccan culture, I spoke with Amina, a University of Minnesota student whose father is from Morocco. Amina happens to share the same first name with the victim in this news story. For privacy reasons, she requested to be identified by her first name only. I asked Amina why only activists for women's rights seemed to be quoted with opinions on the law and the suicide, and not other citizens.

"They maybe wouldn't talk about it," Amina said. "That's a part of Moroccan culture. You don't talk about things like that."

The story of the rape victim was heartbreaking, but the article credited the young girl's story with starting a movement for women's rights in Morocco. The lack of coverage of the opposition to this movement, whether to avoid stereotypes or because of the cultural norms Amina described, made me feel as though I was missing a part of the story. Although I feel the reporter tried to branch beyond stereotypes, I was left wondering whether the women's movement is as large as the article implies, or if it is taking place outside of Morocco.

Voter ID amendment will be on the November ballot

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Both the Minnesota Senate and the House of Representatives passed the voter ID bill Wednesday, which places the constitutional amendment question on the ballot in November, news sources report.

Both chambers passed their respective versions of the bill last month, but an amendment was made to clear up language differences between the two bills Monday, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Now its up to voters to answer the question on Nov. 6: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?" KAAL TV reported.

The Senate debated for more than three hours on Wednesday, eventually passing the bill 35-29. Only one Republican, Jeremy Miller of Winona, joined the unanimous DFLers in voting against the measure.

"Republicans in the legislature had two years to negotiate bipartisan reforms to election law, and it is disappointing that their failure to do so has led to an unnecessary constitutional amendment that would make it harder for law abiding citizens, including tens of thousands of seniors, service members, and students, to exercise their right to vote," said Gov. Mark Dayton in a statement Wednesday.

"I cannot support a constitutional amendment that is pushed through the legislative process by only one political party - and neither should Minnesotans if they see it on the ballot this fall," he said.

Supporters of the bill argue it would solve a voter fraud problem. "If a legal voter is next to an illegal voter, this makes the legal voter the disenfranchised," Republican Senator Dave Thompson of Lakeville told KAAL TV.

But others argue there is no proof such a problem even exists, and that the amendment will make it more difficult for some people to exercise their constitutional right to vote. During the Senate debate, DFL-ers argued it would be students, soldiers overseas, the elderly, homeless and the disabled who would be come disenfranchised, according to the Minnesota Daily

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, told the Minnesota Daily that students who move from their dorm mid-semester or list their permanent address as their parent's will have a difficult time voting.

"I think the bottom line is that we all know that this bill will disenfranchise people," he said.

In addition to the voter ID question, a question of whether to ban same-sex marriages will also appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. They will be 10th and 11th constitutional amendments on the ballot in Minnesota since 1990, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Only one of these proposed amendments was voted down, according to the Secretary of State -- a 1994 amendment to allow off-track betting on horse races, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Taliban attacks kill 9 Afghan police officers

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Nine Afghan police officers are dead and 14 are missing after a series of Taliban attacks over the past two days, news sources report.

Attacks seem to be an attempt for the insurgents to assert their power as NATO forces try to build up the Afghan military, the Associated Press reported. The goal is for NATO to leave combat responsibility to local forces by the end of 2014.

The deadliest attack occurred at a police post in the southern province of Helmand late Monday. Militants killed four police officers and two civilians. Three other police officers were missing, along with a police Toyota Ranger pickup truck and weapons from the post, the New York Times reported.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi confirmed that the insurgents carried out the attack on Monday, according to the New York Times. Ahmadi said one Taliban militant was killed in the fighting as well.

Obama denounces GOP budget plan as 'radical'

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By Alysha Bohanon

President Obama gave a speech blasting the Republican budget plan Tuesday, calling it a "Trogan horse" that would greatly deepen inequality in the United States, news sources report.

In the speech to editors and reporters of the Associated Press, Obama warned that the budget plan produced by the House would create severe cuts to college scholarships, medical research, national parks, and even technology to make accurate weather forecasts, the New York Times reported.

He also compared the plan to Newt Gingrich's legislative manifesto of 1994, saying the budget was "so far to the right, it makes the Contract With America look like the New Deal," the Washington Post reported.

Obama also made broader claims about the GOP as a whole, arguing that the entire party has shifted and become much more radical. One of the party's more moderate icons, Ronald Reagan, would be unelectable in the modern Republican Party, Obama said, according to the Washington Post.

Echoing the themes of his State of the Union address, the president argued that the GOP's "radical" plan that slashes spending to social program and gives tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans will not strengthen the economy.

"In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few," the president said, according to the New York Times. "It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That's how a generation who went to college on the G.I. Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known."

The 2013 budget was drafted by Representative Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). Obama claims the proposal calls for across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending, and includes tax cuts which would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans and would cost $4.6 trillion over the next decade, according to the New York Times.

"Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism," The New York Times quoted Obama as saying. "And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training, research and development, our infrastructure -- it's a prescription for decline."

The speech drew immediate push back from the right, including the budget's author. "Like his reckless budgets, today's speech by President Obama is as revealing as it is disappointing: While others lead by offering real solutions, he has chosen to distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record," Ryan said in a statement, the Washington Post reported.

Five Minnesotans killed in Kansas motor home crash

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Five members of a Minnesota family were killed Sunday when their motor home plunged into a ravine in Kansas, news sources report.

The Kerber family of Jordan, Minn., and a few of their friends were returning from a vacation in Texas racing motocycles. The Kansas Highway Patrol said the motor home held 18 people and was pulling a trailer when the driver lost control at 9 a.m. on Interstate 35, the Associated Press reported.

Another 13 people, including several other members of the family, were critically injured in the crash, according to the Star Tribune.

The survivors were sent to several surrounding hospitals. Overland Park Regional Medical Center listed Pauline Kerber, a 46-year-old widowed mother of 12, as in critical but stable condition, according to the Associated Press.

Mary Mohn of Woodbury was the first person to reach the victims. "I couldn't believe what I saw," Mohn told the Star Tribune. "It looked like the RV exploded. The walls were on both sides of the creek. A couch was sitting in the creek. Toilets were on the embankment. Clothes and food and shoes were scattered all over. I could hear a woman screaming ... and kids whimpering, crying."

The crash is still under investigation, and authorities haven't officially released the identities of the victims. Friends have identified the dead as members of the extended Kerber family, including Tom Kerber, 25, and his wife, Melissa, 24, as well as three of Tom's younger siblings, Joy, 14; James, 12, and Jessica, 10, according to the Star Tribune.

Analysis: Minnesota's million-dollar inmates

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The story "Minnesota's million-dollar inmates" in the Star Tribune used numbers in multiple ways to portray a growing issue in Minnesota prisons: aging inmates are costing taxpayers a lot of money in healthcare.

The reporter used numbers to demonstrate the amount of money spent on inmates, what it is being spent on, the demographics of inmates, and the current health of inmates. To do this, the story included dollar amounts, percents, percent increases, and recent statistics. For instance, the story said that the Corrections Department's medical budget has tripled in the past decade, and was $68 million last year. If the reporter had listed the dollar amount alone, the reader would see that it is a large number but wouldn't have much to compare it to. By saying that this budget has tripled in a relatively short time period, we can see that this problem is growing fast.

There are a lot of numbers in this story, and the large of amount of them can make it slightly overwhelming in some places, but including them in the story helped to break down how much is being spent on what kind of medical treatment. In many places, the author made these numbers easier to graph by explaining the relations of numbers in words, such as saying the budget tripled rather than listing the different budget amounts. The author probably had to crunch some numbers to come up with these relationships, but it made the story easier for the reader to grasp.

The author did not list the sources of these numbers. Because the prison is a public institution, its expenses are public record. One can assume the author found these numbers from public records, but the author didn't list the source. There are some statistics in the story that weren't obvious where the author got them from, however, such as this section:
"More than one in 10 Minnesota inmates is now over age 50 -- a share that has doubled in the past decade -- and increasingly many of them need specialized treatment for costly illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. More than 550 offenders are serving life sentences; at an average age of 40, most face at least 30 more years in prison before they have any chance of parole."
These were all useful statistics, but I was left wondering where the author found them.

Boater found dead in St. Croix River

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By Alysha Bohanon

A man's body was pulled from the St. Croix River Saturday afternoon, news sources report.

The 46-year-old White Bear Lake man was found near the Bayport Marina, according to the Star Tribune.

Sheffiff's deputies and Bayport police officers were notified that an unattended boat was turning in circles. They responded just before 6 p.m., the Pioneer Press reported.

Deputies and the Washington County dive team located the operator 100 yards from his boat. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene, the Star Tribune reported.

The man's identity and cause of death have not been released. The death is under investigation by the Ramsey County medical examiner's office and the Sheriff's Office, the Star Tribune reported.

By Alysha Bohanon

A St. Paul hotel desk clerk faces two counts of interference with privacy after allegedly audio recording guests having sex, news sources report.

Jeremiah Caleb Marg, 28, of Burnsville, a clerk at the 340 Hotel at 340 Cedar St. in St. Paul allegedly placed an audio recording device first near the bathtub and later the bed of the room a newlywed couple was staying in on Dec. 28, according to the Pioneer Press.

The couple spotted the device under the door and discovered it had recorded them having sex, as well as other couples previously, and called police, the Pioneer Press reported.

A search of Marg's laptop revealed audio files of unknown couples having sex as well as the defendant's voice testing the recording. There was also an audio/video file of the device being placed beneath the door of a room, according to the Pioneer Press.

Marg has a previous conviction in Wisconsin for showing sexual material to two girls in 2002, the Star Tribune reported.

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