February 2012 Archives

Analysis: Multimedia

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Nelson Mandela released from hospital, doing well

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Former South African President Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital on Sunday, after spending the night following tests for a stomach complaint, according to the L.A. Times.

Mandela was discharged after a keyhole abdominal examination showed there was nothing seriously wrong with the 93-year-old anti-apartheid leader, the government said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, his departure from Pretoria's "1 Military" hospital marks the end of an anxious 24-hour wait for South Africa's 50 million people, after Mandela was admitted on Saturday morning.

Mandela, who won the Nobel Peace Prize and who also spent 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid, became South Africa's first black president in 1994 and served one five-year term. He is officially retired and last appeared in public in July 2010, according to the Times.

According to the Tribune, his health has been poor since he was hospitalized with respiratory problems a year ago, and this latest scare hit home for many that Mandela may not live for much longer.

Swedish airport reopens after security incident

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Air traffic at Sweden's second largest airport was suspended for several hours Sunday while bomb technicians investigated a suspicious bag that in the end, turned out to be harmless, according to the Washington Post.

According to the Houston Chronicle, all incoming and outgoing flights were stopped at Landvetter airport in Goteborg after police said a bag with suspected dangerous content was discovered in the security check area at the international terminal in the afternoon. The terminal was evacuated.

Airport officials said in a statement later Sunday the content was identified as harmless and the airport had reopened to traffic.

Earlier that day, airport operator Swedavia's spokesman Jan Lindqvist said about 2,000 passengers were affected by this incident.

A mayoral candidate in a New Mexico town claimed that he was set up by a rival when a woman started dancing topless in his office, according to the Washington Post.

Hernandez said, it all started after a Mexican national offered to help with his campaign. During a meeting, Hernandez said, the man turned on some music and said the woman who was with him liked to dance, which turned sexual, but there was no sex involved. All the while, Hernandez says, he was unknowingly being taped.

Opponents say the married candidate is just trying to cover up being caught in an uncompromising position.

City Council candidate Ernesto Marquez said he saw a video of the encounter after a flash drive was dropped off at an election booth in the parking lot of City Hall. No one knows who placed the flash drive in the booth, according to the Miami Herald.

St. Paul Boy Scout wins award for rescuing friend

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A 10-year-old St. Paul boy received a national Boy Scouts award after he rescued his friend from a Wisconsin river in 2010, according to the Pioneer Press.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar presented Antonio Vandal with the National Certificate of Merit on Saturday. The award is given to scouts and adult leaders who perform significant acts of service.

Vandal was on a canoe trip with his father, Rocky, and some other fathers and sons when his friend's canoe overturned. Vandal used his Boy Scout training to successfully pull his friend from the water without capsizing his own canoe.

"We are very proud of him," Rocky Vandal said. "He had the strength, confidence, courage and focus to take care of business."

State Senate sends testing bill to Gov.

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The State Senate has sent a bill to Gov. Mark Dayton requiring teachers to pass a skills test, according to WCCO-TV.

The bill requires Minnesota teachers to pass basic skills tests in reading, writing and math before they can earn their teaching license. The current law permits licensed teachers to take and retake the test for up to three years. The bill would require out-of-state teaching license applicants to pass the test as well, according to KSTP-TV.

Supporters say that the measure will keep unqualified teachers from teaching. The Senate passed the bill in a 60-1 vote, and last week the House unanimously passed the bill.

Bill supporter Sen. Ted Daley says the governor's office has seemed open to the bill, however Dayton has not taken a public stance on it yet.

Analysis: Spot/Follow

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The initial article regarding Christopher Hanson, the Minneapolis teenager who died while train-hopping for fun was pretty different from the updated version.

The leads were different in the respect that the initial was more vague than the other because there was less information to be known at that point.

The second story advanced the news by providing more insight and clarification into what exactly happened, and how the family is reacting to their loss.

I don't necessarily think that the updated article was in response in competition. It was just more of a general update in my opinion.

44 killed in Mexico prison riot

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44 people were killed in a riot Sunday inside a prison in Mexico that may have been staged to cover up a breakout, according to the Miami Herald.

Public security authorities in Nuevo Leon state, outside of the northern industrial city Monterrey, said inmates rioted in one cell block around 2 a.m. and the violence spread to a second block.

Initial reports blamed the violence on efforts to transfer some inmates to another facility elsewhere in the country. There were conflicting reports about whether guards were taken hostage and if fires broke out in some of the cells, according to the L.A. Times.

Jorge Domene Zambrano, the state's public security spokesman, said authorities had regained control of the institution. He said most of the prisoners were incarcerated on drug-trafficking charges and related crimes.

He also said the fight between two cell blocks, each with about 750 prisoners, may have been staged as a cover for a prison break.

All the dead were killed by knives, other sharp instruments, clubs or stones, Domene said.

Minn. couple lost in Italian shipwreck memorialized

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The only Americans lost in last month's Italian cruise ship disaster were memorialized Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

White Bear Lake residents Jerry and Barb Heil drew hundreds of people to a memorial mass in their honor.

The Heils are among the 15 missing from the Costa Concordia which struck a reef near a Tuscan Island and sank on Jan. 13, according to WCCO-TV.

Thirty-two people are believed to have perished in the cruise ship accident, including the 15 missing. Italian authorities stopped searching the ship at the end of January due to dangerous conditions.

Italian prosecutors are still investigating the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, for possible criminal charges, including allegedly abandoning his ship before all passengers and crew were evacuated.

Teen killed after a night of train-hopping

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A 15-year-old Minneapolis teenager was killed Thursday after jumping off of a moving freight train, according to WCCO-TV.

Christopher Hanson had been train-hopping with a group of his friends, an activity he frequently took part in on the train tracks behind his house.

Police said Hanson died before 10:15 p.m., when a railroad worker told police he found the Hanson's body near 14th Avenue NE and Fillmore Street in Minneapolis.

According to the Star Tribune, he had sustained multiple blunt-force head injuries.

A fund has been set up to help the Hanson family. You can donate to the family by contacting any Wells Fargo bank.

An Arizona sheriff stepped down as co-chairman of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign on Saturday after being accused of threatening a former lover with deportation if he ever spoke of their relationship, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County has made headlines for his tough stance on illegal immigration, and was also running for Congress in Arizona's Fourth District.

According to the New York Times, the allegations were reported in the Pheonix New Times on Thursday. A 34-year-old Mexican man identified as "Jose" said that when he refused to sign an agreement saying that he would never mention his relationship with Babebu, the sheriff and his lawyer tried to intimidate him with threats of deportation.

Babeu admitted to having a personal relationship with "Jose" in a press conference on
Saturday, but denied ever threatening him. Babeu also said, "all of these allegations that were in one of these newspapers were absolutely false, except for the issue that referred to me as being gay, and that is the truth. I am gay."

Babeu came to statewide prominence in 2010 when he appeared in a campaign ad for U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona calling for tougher immigration measures.

After six centuries of use, the former French currency will finally be laid to rest, according to the New York Times.

Friday was the deadline for francs to be turned into the Bank of France, the central bank, in exchange for the common European currency, the euro.

According to the Washington Post, the euro replaced the francs in January 2002, however the central bank, has continued to to accept francs in exchange for euros until now.

Although it has been a decade since this currency transition, lines of procrastinators turned out to make the last-minute swap all week long. The Bank of France was the last possible place to make the exchange at a rate of 6.55957 francs for one euro, a rate that has been locked since France started using the euro in 1999, according to the Post.

The central bank estimated that even after the deadline, around half a billion euros worth of old franc notes will remain unexchanged and worthless. According to the Times, these worthless francs will be registered as revenue for the French state.

Analysis: Structures (Greek Parliament passes austerity plan)

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The reporter has summarized the important elements in what seems to be a logical manner in the story regarding the Greek austerity plan from the New York Times.

The information is ordered in what seems to be an inverted pyramid, which is a common format for news writing. The reporter starts off the article with quite general information, and then narrows in with increasingly more and more detail.

It is a pretty effective way to approach the topic. It's nice to not be bombarded with some random details that may be too dense to start off with. The reader is guided into the story in a somewhat gentle approach. However, once the reader gets further and further into the article, they may become bored with the subject matter and just stop reading it altogether. If the article would have begun with a more interesting and eye-catching statement, one may be more inclined to actually read it more thoroughly, or read it at all.

U.S. to cut staff at Iraq Embassy

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The State Department is planning to cut the size of its Iraq Embassy in half, U.S. officials aid Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. This decision has been made less than two months after American troops left the country.

Officials in Baghdad and Washington said that the size and scope of the embassy, which has grown to a staff of nearly 16,000, mostly contractors, needs to be reconsidered.

Although the expansive diplomatic operation and the $750 million embassy building were deemed necessary to nurture a postwar Iraq, Americans have become frustrated by the inability to interact with the Iraqi people and being confined to the embassy because of security concerns, according to the New York Times.

A small amount of U.S. personnel remain in the country to help with training and arms sales for Iraqi forces, according to the Tribune.

Washington state moves closer to legalizing gay marriage

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Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage on Wednesday, poising it to become the seventh state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry, according to the Washington Post.

The New York Times said that Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire promised to sign it, and is expected to do so next week. However, it is not likely to take immediate effect.

If opponents gather 120,000 signatures, the measure will be put to a public referendum before it can be enacted, according to the Times. Otherwise, the proposal would take effect 90 days after the session ends next month.

Whitney Houston dies at age 48

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Whitney Houston, the successful pop singer who's voice and image were deteriorated by drug use and an abusive marriage, died in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday, according to the New York Times. She was 48.

Houston was found in Beverly Hilton hotel room at 3:55 p.m. where paramedics spent about 20 minutes trying to revive her, authorities said. The authorities also said there was no sign of foul play.

Houston was staying at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday to attend a pre-Grammy party hosted by her mentor Clive Davis, the founder of Arista Records, according to the Times.

Lt. Mark Rosen, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, said that detectives had arrived on the scene to conduct a full-scale investigation of the death. He also said, as of 8 p.m. Saturday, Ms. Houston's body would not be removed from the hotel room until the said investigation was completed.

Houston was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, according to the L.A. Times, with more than 55 million records sold in the U.S. alone.

According to the New York Times, Houston is survived by her daughter Bobbi Kristina, 18, and her mother, gospel and pop singer CIssy Houston.

Man found dead in silo in Stearns County

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An 18-year-old man was found dead on Saturday in a silo on a farm in Millwood Township, authorities said.

The Stearns County Sheriff's Office said authorities were called to the property shortly before 4 p.m. Emergency personnel found the man pinned inside the silo and already dead.

According to the Star Tribune, an autopsy is planned.

His name is being withheld until his family has been notified, the Pioneer Press said.

Whole Foods to open in Downtown Minneapolis

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Officials with the organic and natural foods grocer Whole Foods confirmed Wednesday that it will be opening a new location in Downtown Minneapolis.

The store will be the ground-floor retail tenant in the 222 Hennepin luxury apartment building, according to the Star Tribune. The complex is seen as a potential hub to connect disparate parts of downtown- from "the North Loop to the Mill and the central business districts to the Mississippi riverfront."

According to WCCO-TV, the location is expected to be approximately 38,000 square feet and will be located at the corner of Hennepin and Washington Avenues.

Officials said that about 150 jobs will be created to meet the store's needs.

Tony Barranco, development director at the Minneapolis-based firm that is developing the site, said that the store is expected to open as early as the summer of 2013.

This will be the fifth Whole Foods store to be built in the Twin Cities, according to the Tribune.

In a New York Times article about a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in the Philippines, 5 sources were named or attributed.

They appear to be scattered throughout the story, however a few of them are somewhat clustered together.

The information are from a few scientific institutes, such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the U.S. Geological Survey. Others were made by various "officials."

The reporter set up the attributions in basically the same format throughout the story, just in a different order. For example, "the attribution said, 'fact.'" or "'information,' said the attribution."

I would have to say it's pretty effective and not confusing in the least bit. However, it is a little dull and repetitive, but that's kind of difficult to get around when it comes to this type of a news story. A story like this should be clear and concise, and to the point.

The works of best-selling author Walter Mosley and photographer-author Gordon Parks will be featured in Black History Month events located in St. Paul and Ramsey County according to the Star Tribune.

Parks wrote the semi-autobiographical "The Learning Tree" and directed "Blaxploitation" and "Shaft." Robin Hickman, Parks' niece, will discuss his legacy on Feb. 24 at 11:30 a.m. at City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, in room 40.

A Parks quote is also the city's theme for the year: "There's another horizon out there, one more horizon that you have to make for yourself and let other people discover it, and someone else will take it further on ..."

Scholars of African-American literature will discuss Mosley's work at the Rondo Library, 461 N. Dale St., on Thursday. Also, Mosley's "Known to Evil" will be discussed Feb. 22 at 6:45 p.m. at the Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Parkway.

Mosley's book "Twelve Steps toward Political Revelation" is the topic at 2 p.m. Feb. 25 at Arlington Hills Library, 1105 Greenbrier St., according to the St. Paul Public Library.

Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, is pledging up to $250,000 to Planned Parenthood to help offset funds that were discontinued by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, according to the Miami Herald.

Mayor Bloomberg said Thursday that he would give Planned Parenthood Federation of America $1 for every new dollar the organization raises up to $250,000.

"Politics have no place in health care," Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. "Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way."

According to the New York Times, the controversy erupted this week when the Komen foundation said it would no longer donate funds to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Planned Parenthood had received about $700,000 a year from the Komen foundation.

Mayor Bloomberg has been a long-time supporter of both Planned Parenthood and the Komen foundation, according to the Times. His office said that he has given about $555,000 to Planned Parenthood over the years, as well as $200,000 to the Komen foundation.

Breast cancer group severs ties with Planned Parenthood

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A national breast cancer awareness organization will stop providing financial support to Planned Parenthood centers for breast health services, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure said Tuesday that it was ending all partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates because of recently initiated criteria that forbids it from funding any organization under government investigation.

The foundation is a leading fundraiser for breast cancer research and is famous for its iconic pink ribbon.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) launched an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood uses public money to fund abortions, in September, according to the L.A. Times. Planned Parenthood cannot use the federal money it receives to provide abortions.

According to the New York Times, the foundation's decision to end funding for breast cancer screenings has received quite a bit of "criticism from prominent women's groups, politicians and public health advocates" and also a lot of "support from conservative women and religious groups that oppose abortion."

Officials for Planned Parenthood Federation of America said they learned of Komen's new stance on funding just before Christmas.

"We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure," Cecile Richards, the federation's president, said in a statement. "Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count."

According to the L.A. Times, Planned Parenthood has provided about 4 million breast exams and referrals for 70,000 mammograms nationwide over the last 5 years.

The St. Paul school district and its teachers union created a tentative contract agreement early Tuesday, according to the Pioneer Press.

Superintendent Valeria Silva and Mary Cathryn Ricker, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, said they reached an agreement Monday night that gives "attention to class size and special education students," in a joint statement sent to district employees. The statement also said that this agreement "further strengthens the teacher support and evaluation system."

Contract details will be released after the school board and the union's executive board are briefed on the terms, according to district spokeswoman Tonya Stewart Downey. The full union membership and school board will then vote on the contract.

The district's teachers will hear the key points of the contract in breakout sessions this week, Ricker said.

According to the Star Tribune, the district employs about 3,400 teachers.

Dozens of Minnesota school districts are still negotiating 2-year contract agreements with their teachers unions, according to the Tribune. The St. Paul school district and the union have been negotiating since July.

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