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October 28, 2007

Former first lady wins Argentine presidency

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will replace her husband as president of Argentina. The first woman president of Argentina was voted into office by 46%.

According to the BBC, many were surprised that Kirchner's husband did not run for another term. Mrs. Kirchner's campaign was largely based on continuing the policies of her husband, which many credit for rehabilitating the country's economy.

The Washington Post reported that Kirchner was a senator for three terms. In her first terms she was known as being an especially active legislator, but some accuse her of changing some of her positions after her husband became president.

The Washington Post story focused more on Kirchner as a person, where the BBC seemed to focus more on the politics of the election.

Victims of bridge collapse tell stories in hopes of a compensation fund

Victims of the 35W bridge collapse told their stories at the capital Thursday in hopes of convincing the government to create a compensation fund.

Speakers included spouses of those killed, injured people in wheelchairs and relatives of victims that are still in the hospital, reported the Pioneer Press. One man expressed anger that they even had to ask for assistance.

According to the Star Tribune, some victims are facing losses of up to $1 million, not to mention the mental and emotional stress caused by the collapse. Under Minnesota law, the state will only cover up to $1 million for any single incident, much less $1 million for any single person.

Part of the debate is over individual liability versus state liability and whether or not the federal or state government should pay, said the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune story was much longer than the Pioneer Press. The Pioneer Press had the quotes of a few victims but failed to add much context. It almost felt like a brief, whereas the Star Tribune story was longer than average.

Numbers

In the Star Tribune story titled "Union, MnDOT differ over number of bridge inspectors" numbers were used several times throughout the story. They were used to describe the number of inspectors compared to the number of bridges in need of inspection, to describe how many people were killed and injured in the 35W bridge collapse and to describe how the number of bridge inspectors have fallen.

The story is about how the union feels it is does not have enough people to do its job and how the state disagrees. The point of disagreement is in the numbers. Despite this fact, the actual numbers in contention are not mentioned until halfway through the story. Generalizations are made instead of listing specific numerals.

If the specific numbers were mentioned right away, it would have been harder to read. It's easier to understand a statement explaining what the numbers mean first and then see the actual numbers. It's kind of like having a thesis and then backing it up. If you started with the details, the reader would have to think too hard to get the point.

Savage man arrested in connection with Craig's List murder

A teenager from Savage was arrested in connection with the death of a 24-year-old Katherine Olson, whose body in the trunk of her car. Friends say she was responding to an ad on Craig's List for a nanny.

A friend of the 19-year-old suspect was surprised by the arrest, reported the Star Tribune. Police have not released the reason the man was taken into custody.

The Pioneer Press reported that some Craig's List users are now worried about their safety, although authorities say this is the first murder connected with Craig's List.

Both stories were follow-ups to the news that the girl was murdered. The Pioneer Press' looked at the situation from the point of view of those who use Craig's List the way the victim did. The Star Tribune focused more on the suspect and spoke to a friend of his. I

thought it was interesting that the Star Tribune did not print the name of the suspect, because it hasn't been released by authorities. The Pioneer Press looked at the jail's roster and found the name so they could print it. I wonder if there was a discussion about ethics in both those newsrooms.

California fires lead to reflection on policy

The California wildfires have led researchers and policy makers to reflect on why these fires have continued to pose such a risk and whether or not there is a solution.

The New York Times
reported that one researcher compared California wildfires with Baja California in Mexico. Baja's wildfires are smaller and burn out on their own, causing less damage. Researchers think this is because of California's policy of fire suppression. Years of suppressing fires means that when a big one comes along it has a huge amount of fuel and no recently burned land to stop it.

According to the Washington Post, some homeowners experienced much less damage than others because their houses and landscaping followed strict guidelines. Five communities were built with those guidelines in mind and most of the buildings survived the fires.

The New York Times and Washington Post stories were very similar. The Washington Post spent a little more time on the communities with the special building ordinances. The New York Times framed the situation as kind of hopeless. They talked about the communities but that was after saying that their really was no viable solution to the fire problem.

Sudan Declares Cease-Fire

Sudan's government declared a cease-fire at the opening of peace talks on Darfur.

Several important rebel leaders boycotted the talks, lessening the possibility of real progress, reported the New York Times.

Ceasefires and peace talks have been organized in the past only to prove ineffective, reported the BBC.

The BBC and New York Times stories were similar. The New York Times' was longer and contained more quotes, but they were framed similarly.

October 21, 2007

Cedar Lake Drowning Victim is Identified

A body found in Cedar Lake in Minneapolis was identified as Bobby Joe Allen, 55.

The Star Tribune reported that the cause of death was drowning.

The body of the man was discovered after someone noticed an overturned boat in the lake, reported the Associated Press as printed in the Pioneer Press.

The two stories were exactly the same. The AP must have taken the story from the Star Tribune.

Suicidal Boy Fires 100 Shots

A 15-year-old boy from St. Croix County, Wisconsin fired 100 shots in a standoff with police. No one was injured.

The boy called friends earlier in the night, telling them he did not wish to live. The friends could hear shots being fired, so they called police, reported the Pioneer Press.

Police negotiated with the boy for three hours as he fired shots from inside the house, reported the Star Tribune. The Pioneer Press said the shots did not seem to be aimed at the police officers.

The boy finally exited the house at about 12:30 a.m. with cuts from the glass that he shot through. Charges are expected to be filed, reported the Pioneer Press

The Pioneer Press story was much longer and more detailed. The Star Tribune just gave a bare-bones account of what happened.

Turkey Angry Over U.S. Vote on Armenian Genocide

Turkey's military commander has warned that the country's ties with the U.S. will be badly damaged if the House of Representatives approves a resolution that Turkey carried out a genocide on Armenians almost 100 years ago.

The Washington Post reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that they will go ahead with the vote, despite protests from the White House.

The U.S. military depends on Turkey as a base for transferring supplies to Iraq, reported the New York Times. Further complicating relations is the conflict between separatist Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraq and the Turkish military. The two sides have been attacking each other for some time.

The New York Times put the context of the issue high in the story, while the Washington Post talked about the politics and then explained why it was important.

Evangelicals Meet to Decide which Candidate they will Support

Around 2,000 Evangelical voters gathered in Washington for the Values Voter Summit. On the agenda was choosing a presidential candidate to support, a difficult task now that Sam Brownback plans to drop out of the race.

According to the New York Times, Brownback was an appealing candidate because of his conservative stance on abortion and gay marriage and his focus on religion. He cited lack of support and money as reasons for dropping out.

There is little consensus over which of the remaining candidates should get the conservative vote, reported the Washington Post. Rudy Giuliani is not appealing because of his pro-life and pro-gay rights stances. Mitt Romney isn't ideal because of his Mormon religion and his flip-flopping stance on abortion. Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson are more likely to receive support.

The New York Times focused more on Brownback's withdrawal from the race, while the Washington Post spent a lot of time on the remaining candidates.

Maine Middle School Clinic Will Offer the Pill

A middle school in Portland, Maine made the controversial decision to offer free contraceptive pills at its in-school clinic.

Many are concerned that the action encourages sexual activity in children, reported the Associated Press as printed in the Washington Post. Students at the middle school are between the ages of 11 and 13.

Some parents are warily accepting of the idea. The New York Times quoted two mothers as saying that it's not good that 13-year-olds are having sex, but it does happen, and it should be safe.

The Associated Press story broke the news. It quoted a lot of official sources. The New York Times quoted more unofficial sources, like parents and students.

October 14, 2007

Meeting/Press Conference

I compared the Minnesota Daily article about the unveiling of the Educational Sciences Building with a news release put out by the University News Service.

The press release was a lot more sterile and full of dry facts than the Daily article. The reporter interviewed a series of sources about the project and framed it as a coming together of three related departments.

The press release is really uninteresting. I read it before I read the article and wondered how the reporter would bring it to life. The interviews were what made the story worth reading.

Witnesses Say Juror is not a Racist

Five witnesses testified that the juror accused of making racist comments is not a racist.

Fay Haakinson, a juror in the case that convicted Harry J. Evans of killing a police sergeant, was accused of making racist comments at a bar. These allegations are being used as grounds for a new trial or acquittal, reported the Star Tribune.

The Pioneer Press reported that five of Haakinson's minority acquaintances and coworkers testified that they have never known her to be racist.

The Pioneer Press story was a little easier to read. The Star Tribune story seemed to assume that the reader already knew the background of the case, which left me a bit confused.

American Indian Rights Activist Dies

American Indian Rights Activist Vernon Bellecourt died Saturday.

Bellecourt was a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The movement led a number of sometimes violent protests and was especially active in the 1970's, reported the Star Tribune.

Recently Bellecourt was active in protesting sports teams with names and mascots offensive to American Indians. He has also been active internationally; shortly before his death, he met with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, said the Associated Press as printed in the Pioneer Press.

Bellecourt died of pneumonia and was 75 years old.

The Star Tribune story was longer and contained more details of Bellecourt's life. The AP story focused on Bellecourt's activism with sports teams.

Global Abortion Rate Study

A study on global abortion rates showed that abortion rates are not affected by the legality of abortion.

World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute published the study in the journal Lancet. It showed that high levels of use of contraception and contraceptive education led to a decrease in abortions, reported the New York Times.

The New York Times also reported that abstinence-only education, which the Bush administration advocates, does not show to be effective in lowering abortion rates.

Another study published in the Lancet journal showed that maternal deaths have only decreased 1% in the past 15 years. Unsafe abortions are a major factor in this, reported the BBC.

The New York Times article focused on abortion rates and their relation to legality and contraception. The BBC article focused more on maternal death rates and used that as a segue into talking about the WHO study.

Al Gore and UN Climate Change Panel Share Nobel Peace Prize

Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Al Gore won for his role in creating public awareness of global warming with the film "An Inconvenient Truth." The UN panel includes a large number of scientists who meticulously research climate change and its causes, reported the New York Times.

The award recipients point to a trend in the Nobel Peace Prize in "redefining the potential sources of conflict and threats to peace," reported the BBC.

The New York Times article focused more on Al Gore than the BBC. It wasn't until about halfway through the article that an explanation of what the UN panel does appeared. The BBC focused first on the panel and then on Al Gore. The Times is a U.S. publication so Al Gore is of more interest to the readers.

The Inspector is Inspected

In an unprecedented move, Micheal Hayden, director of the C.I.A., ordered an inquiry into the actions of the agency's inspector general, John Helgerson.

The inspector general acts as a watchdog for the C.I.A. Helgerson has led a series of investigations into the C.I.A.'s detention and interogation procedures, the New York Times reported.

The New York Times went on to say that the investigation is a response to concerns that Helgerson has been overly aggressive and has not acted as a fair impartial judge of what is going on.

A day after the New York Times story broke the Associated Press as printed in the Washington Post reported that a number of lawmakers are expressing concern about this move. Many are worried that it threatens the independence of the inspector general when he is inspected by those he inspects.

The Associated Press story was a follow up to the New York Times story. It mostly talked about people's responses to the news.

October 7, 2007

Ukranian Wins Twin Cities

Ukranian Mykola Antonenko won the Twin Cities marathon, six minutes ahead of the best of his competitors.

According to the Associated Press as printed in the Star Tribune the temperature of 74 degrees made the run difficult. It was also difficult for Antonenko to maintain his speed without other runners on his tail.

The Associated Press as printed in the Pioneer Press reported that Russian runner Svetlana Ponomarenko won the women's race.

The story just broke today, so both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune printed the same AP story.

Two People Stabbed in Street Fight

Two people were stabbed Friday night in a street fight involving up to 50 people on the East Side of St. Paul.

The victims, a 21-year-old and a 15-year-old, were stabbed with a sickle, the Pioneer Press reported. They were in stable condition on Saturday.

The Star Tribune reported that dozens of people joined the street fight outside a birthday party. People used whatever weapons they could find including a push lawnmower, a sickle and a brick. No arrests have been made.

The Star Tribune story seemed to be more of an initial report than the Pioneer Press story. It contained a lot of information from KARE 11 and did not include details about the condition of the victims.

October 4, 2007

Myanmar Governement Shuts Down Internet

In an effort to stem the flow of information to the rest of the world and to the Burmese themselves, Myanmar's government shut down the Internet.

Bloggers key to the promotion of democracy in Myanmar now find it virtually impossible to disseminate information, said the Guardian.

According to the New York Times, since Myanmar has only two Internet service providers, shutting them down was not a very difficult task. Most telephone service was also shut down.

The Internet has been vital in distributing information and images of the conflict in Myanmar. Now not only is the Internet unavailable, but journalists and even amateur photographers are being threatened, the New York Times reported.

The New York Times article was longer and had information from more sources. I felt it was more complete than the Guardian's article.

Secret Document Reveals Government Endorsement of Torture

Despite declarations by the Justice Department that torture is "abhorrent" and not tolerated under U.S. law, a secret document was discovered endorsing the use of certain harsh interrogation techniques.

The New York Times uncovered the document that okayed tactics such as head slapping, frigid temperatures, and simulated drowning. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved this policy and found it to be within the law.

According to the Washington Post, the White House has acknowledged the existence of this document, but is sticking to the idea that it did not conflict with legislation barring "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" practices.

The House Judiciary Commitee plans to call Steven Bradbury, the man who signed the document, to a hearing, the Washington post reported.

The New York Times broke this story, so it was much longer and more in depth than the Washington Post. The Washington Post story was a follow-up and explained the events immediately following the breaking of the news.

Bush Vetoes Child Health Bill

President Bush vetoed a bill Thursday that would expand government health insurance to cover more children.

Both Republicans and Democrats objected the veto, said the New York Times. The Senate has enough votes to override the veto, but the House is short 20 votes.

In a move that showed Bush's anticipation of the protests, the bill was vetoed quietly and without the publicity that accompanied some of Bush's other vetoes, the New York Times reported.

According to the Washington Post, the bill would have covered children whose parents made too much to qualify for Medicaid but could who could not afford private health care.

Bush said he was worried that the move would have been a step towards a "federalist" insurance system and that he was willing to set aside some money to help the "poor children," the Washington Post reported.

The Washington Post article was somewhat longer and talked a lot about the political strategies that led up to the current situation.