« January 2009 | Main | March 2009 »

February 28, 2009

Obama's calls his budget the change we need

President Obama said Saturday that his budget will battle special interests to expand health care, improve the education system, and combat pollution.

According the the New York Times, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address that this was the change Americans voted for in November, and he will fight for these changes in the weeks ahead.

Included in the $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year, Obama hopes to invest more in education, revamp industries to emit fewer pollutants and provide insurance for 40 million people who currently live without it.

He also hopes to shift more of the tax burden to people with higher incomes and reduce the income gap that has developed in recent years.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said that the plan reflects the return of big government.

Mitt Romney a former Republican presidential candidate called said the plan will pull us towards the "government-dominated Europe"

Obama sets a date for most troops to pullout of Iraq

While standing in front of Marines in North Carolina President Obama announced on Friday that the United States will pull all combat troops out of Iraq by August 2010 and all remaining troops by December 2011.

According to an article published in the New York Times on Friday, there was some uneasiness on both side of the political isle, but over all the plan was supported across party lines.

The plan will bring most troops home by the end of summer of next year, bringing troop levels from 142,000 down to 35,000 to 50,000. The troops remaining in Iraq after next summer will be used mainly as support and training for Iraqi troops.

Many of the Republicans who support Obama's plan credit the surge of troop levels in the summer of 2007 for the ability to start the withdrawal.

According to the New York Times, the president said in an interview with PBS that political reconciliation is still needed in the country, and little progress has been made in the political arena despite the surge.

The number of residual troops that will remain in Iraq for support was criticized by both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Both said that only a minimum number of troops should be left.

February 22, 2009

Restructuring the Graduate School

This story has been developing over the last few weeks, and one story appeared in the MN Daily printed edition this week and another online Saturday regarding the restructuring.

Earlier this week the story talked about a petition that was signed by 18 current and former Regents' professors. The petition claimed that the University has failed to consult with faculty regarding the restructuring.

On Saturday the story was updated online, but didn't include anything about the petition. The new news was that the restructuring team was assembled. The fact that the Regents' professors petition was ignored seems to be important, and I would have put it in the article.

The actual story about the Regents' petition was never updated, but the story about the Graduate School restructuring seems to continue to be an important story and therefore the MN Daily is writing completely new stories about the restructuring as more information becomes available.

Graduate School reconstruction implementation team announced

The team that will implement the restructuring of the Graduate School into the Provost's Office by 2010 was announced Friday according to the Minnesota Daily.

The team will consist of 18 people, mainly high-ranked faculty but will include one student, GAPSA President Kristi Kremers.

The process will be lead by the Institute of Technology Dean Steven Crouch. The team is asked to have their letter of recommendations submitted to Senior Vice Provost Tom Sullivan by April 17.

Abu Ghraib prison reopens in Iraq with a new look

The new Abu Ghraib reopened Saturday with a fresh coat of paint, plastic flowers and a barber shop.

With the Iraqis in control, the prison is trying to gain back respectable justice. "The first step was to change the name," said Mohammed al-Zeidi, the assistant director of the Iraqi Rehabilitation Department.

The AP reported that the renovations cost around $1 million and will be completed by the end of the year.

The prison is currently holding about 400 inmates with crimes ranging from theft to murder, but the expected eventual capacity will be around 12,000 to 15,000 inmates.

The prison was closed in 2006 after it was handed over to the Iraqis because of photos released of U.S. Soldiers sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners.

Obama: Tax cuts coming by April 1

President Obama said Saturday that the benefits of tax cuts included in the $787 billion stimulus package will be seen for many Americans before April 1.

According to the Star Tribune the President said that this plan is essential and he thanked the supporters who helped push this measure through Congress.

The President encouraged employers to help their employees immediately with reducing the amount withheld for taxes from people's paychecks.

"It is only a first step on the road to economic recovery. And we cannot fail to complete the journey," said President Obama.

Salon armed robbery in broad daylight shows "desperation"

While downstairs, the manager of an uptown salon new the sounds she heard coming from her salon Saturday were completely out of the ordinary.

According to the Star Tribune a masked robber with a .22 caliber handgun walked into Sudz in Uptown around 4:30 p.m. and through a woman to the ground and demanded that the assistant manager, Steven Spafford, open the safe.

Spafford said there was no safe, then opened the cash register, triggering a silent alarm, and giving the robber $285.

On the way out the robber demanded that the women he through to the ground take off the rings, one being a wedding ring worth tens of thousands of dollars, or he'd shoot them off of her. He then fled before cops arrived minutes later.

The man was described as wearing a jacket with "H K" on the back of it, which matches video surveillance of a suspect in the Maple Grove Subway and Cedar Avenue robberies from early February.

Franken Want more ballots counted

Al Franken proposed Saturday to recount 1,600 ballots in the Senate election recount.

According to the Star Tribune nearly half of those ballots were ones that Norm Coleman had requested to be recounted earlier.

Coleman spokesperson Mark Drake called Franken's move hypocritical.

"Their motto is simple: If it's a vote for Franken, count it; if it's a vote for somebody else, disenfranchise the voter," Drake said. (Star Tribune)

The Canvassing Board that has been overseeing the recount agreed to add 24 more votes in Franken's favor since the board certified the election, bringing his lead to 249 more votes than Coleman.

February 15, 2009

Man Dies in St. Louis Park fire

This story, reported by the Star Tribune, has an interesting progression. I feel that it talks about the fire in St. Louis Park that killed one person in the first part of the story because the death of this person is very newsworthy.

I think that the second part of the story, about a different fire, could be equally important because more details were provided and it affected more people.

The information was clustered by each fire, and then sub-blocked by place and time of the fire, response of the fire departments, and cause of the fire.

I think the blocking of the story is very effective, however after reading the story I was more interested in the second fire because more details were provided even though though the first fire mentioned provided an excellent lead.

'McMansion' era ends in the Twin Cities

According to the Pioneer Press the era of supersized homes in the Twin Cities is coming to an end as consumers spend less and people become more environmentally conscious.

The median home size is predicted to drop 11 percent in 2009 said the Builder's Association of the Twin Cities.

An aging population is also a cause in the decreasing size of homes. Baby boomers prefer smaller ramblers, or town homes.

The ailing economy is causing people to think about what they really need and forcing them to live more modestly.

The "green effect" is causing home builders and buyers to build smaller more efficient homes, which is influencing the median home size in the Twin Cities.

Reward offered in killing near U

The Minneapolis Police have put together a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the murder of Joesph Sodd II killed in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in June.

According to the Minnesota Daily police teamed with Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that offers awards to help solve crimes, because police believe there are still witnesses that have not come forward in the case.

Police say Sodd was killed while home on break from an out-of-state college while leaving a bar with friends. He was killed from a "sharp force injury".

After hundreds of hours of gathering information and following leads, they still have yet to make an arrest.

Man Dies in St. Louis Park fire

The Star Tribune reported Friday that a man died in a Fire in St. Louis Park on Friday afternoon.

The man, who's name has not been released was found lying on the floor, when firefighters arrived to find flames a smoke coming from the house.

The fire, which started in the kitchen, is still under investigation and took three hours to extinguish.

Another fire in St. Louis Park on Friday caused 125 people to evacuate from their apartment complex and six fire departments responded.

That fire is believed to have started on the third floor near the furnace room.

Venezuelan Leader Reaches out to Obama

The New York Times reported Saturday that President Hugo Chávez said that he would be willing to engage in direct talks with President Obama to repair the relationship between the United States and Venezuela.

Chávez had at first been a critic of the Obama Administration after President Obama questioned Venezuela's about funding a Colombian guerrilla group. Last month Chávez said that President Obama's administration had the "same stench" as the last one.

Now Chávez is welcoming discussions with the United States on how to improve the relationship between the two countries which started to tarnish two years ago.

This comes a day before the Venezuelan people vote in a referendum to allow Chávez to stay in power past 2013.

A Spanish member of the EU Parliament, an referendum observer, was expelled from the country Saturday after calling Chávez a dictator.

Scientist make leap toward curing common cold

Scientists from the University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin-Madison reported Thursday that they have mapped the entire genome of the common cold.

Also known as the human rhinovirus infection, the common cold costs the United States approximately $60 billion annually in medication costs, doctor visits and lost days of work.

CNN reported that the rhinovirus is made up of 99 different stains, which made the mapping of this virus more complex.

The mapping of the common cold will allow scientists to learn how the virus interacts with different people and how different strains are related.

These developments will allow pharmaceutical companies to start making new medicines that may help prevent or help combat the symptoms of the common cold.

February 9, 2009

Fishermen rescued from Lake Erie

This story uses 6 main stories. The sources that are named were the fire chief of the town, the county sheriff, a fishing guide, "officials", a coast guard member, and a veteran fisher.

They are scattered about the story, and once one source is cited, all the information from that source is found in one part of the story, not scattered about.

The information from this story is from people because there would be no need to look at records.

The reporter sets of the attribution using quotes, then "said Joe". However when he paraphrased sources he wrote "Joe said".

The attribution of this story is effective, but not always consistent

Star Tribune

February 8, 2009

Budget cuts for Hennepin County will be deep

Although Hennepin County's state aid for next year won't be announced for a few months, county officials said Thursday they are expecting huge cuts

The county commissioners were told state aid for the county will likely be $100 million less than last year, according to the Star Tribune. The county's budget for this year is roughly $1.7 billion.

Based on budget constraints that the state is currently facing the budget cuts are likely to get worse according to County Administrator Richard Johnson, especially after the next economic forecast comes out at the end of the month.

Franken ready for Senate

Democrat Al Franken said Friday to the Pioneer Press that he is preparing for a place in the United States Senator while the legal battle between him and Republican Norm Coleman drags on.

Franken said he has been speaking with House and Senate staffers, President Obama's educational transition team, as well as Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

He has also been following all of the debate going on in Congress, and has voiced his opinion on how he would vote.

Franken said he has not had time to fully celebrate since uncertainty looms around the election.

U.S. open to missile deal with Russia

Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that the United States will go forward with a missile defense system in eastern Europe that Russia has opposed, but left the option for compromise open.

The New York Times reported Saturday that Biden made the statement at an international security conference attended by world leaders in Munich.

He signaled that the United States would be changing some of the plan from that of the Bush administration.

Leaders attending the conference felt Biden's remarks were positive and this was a new direction for United States foreign policy.

The United States had planned to put missile sites in Poland and the Czech Republic to protect against the growing Iranian nuclear program, but it is unclear if the sites will still go forward in the same countries. Biden left open the possibility for putting the missiles different countries.

In the past few years Russia has tried to strengthen its global prominence, which has caused the deterioration of its relations with the United States.

The Obama administration made clear that it wants to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, in order to collaborate on key international issues.

Disease detectives in Minnesota are better than in most states

The discovery that a nationwide salmonella outbreak occurred as a result of contaminated peanuts was made by Minnesota health officials, who often find outbreaks that no one else does.

Minnesota investigators are often ahead of the game on outbreaks, while other researchers get lead in wrong directions or simply don't even know an outbreak is occurring.

The Star Tribune reported that many experts think because there are so many inconsistencies in food safety around the country the system should be overhauled.

Since 1995 great improvements in tracing outbreaks have been made since DNA has been used to match viruses in different states, allowing officials to know if there are many outbreaks, or just one.

The only thing that was able to detect this outbreak was detailed questioning of each patient who demonstrated symptoms.

February 6, 2009

Phelps disciplined for inhaling from pipe

Record winning Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was disciplined Thursday by USA Swimming and Kellogg pulled its sponsorship of the swimmer after he was photographed inhaling from a pipe.

The New York Times reported that after inhaling from a marijuana pipe Kellogg pulled it's sponsorship saying that "Micheal's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

USA Swimming suspended Phelps' monthly stipend, and banned him from competing for 3 months.

Phelps admitted the picture was authentic and from a party near the University of South Carolina after a British tabloid published the picture last week.

Some sponsors have accepted his apology, and others have still not decided whether they will pull their sponsorship.

February 1, 2009

Water damage to University building estimated at $1 million

Water from a cooling pipe flooded most of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building at the University of Minnesota on Friday causing approximately $1 million in damage.

The Minnesota Daily reports the pipe froze causing it to burst early Friday morning, causing classes to be canceled or moved.

Since the water came from a cooling pipe containing chemicals the Department of Environmental Health and Safety was called to assess how to remove the water. It was determined that the water could be dumped down the sewer.

Facilities Management said the building can be fixed in a week to 10 days.

The northeast corner of the building sustained the most water damage.

This is the second pipe to burst in a university building this winter. A pipe broke in the Bell Museum of Natural History over winter break.

400K remain without power from Kentucky storm

The governor of Kentucky is calling ice storm that hit his state last week the worst natural disaster in Kentucky's history, which called for 4,600 national guard troops to help with recovery on Sunday.

USA Today reports that the guardsmen went door to door throughout the hardest hit areas to make sure roads got cleared, people had water and food, and to provide security.

At the height of the crisis more than 700,000 people lost power, and 400,000 are still without it.

CNN.com reports that 92 of the states 120 counties had declared emergencies.

So far, 21 people are dead although it is unclear if all the deaths are a result of the storm. Some people have been killed because of carbon monoxide poisoning due to using generators indoors.

Election Success in Iraq: an almost violence free day

The people of Iraq voted Saturday for local representatives, on what is being called almost a violence-free day.

According to the New York Times cars were banned throughout most of the country, which reduced the possibility for car bombs. More than 6,000 polling places were protected as voters went to the polls.

By nighttime there were no reported deaths caused by violence. However, leading up to the election, there were multiple people killed while campaigning.

The Washington Post reports that the results of this election may change the balance of power between ethnic groups and sects.

The seemingly violence-free day underlines the security gains made in Iraq during the last year.

Voter turnout was relatively good for regional elections, where the percentage of voters is normally lower.