September 2009 Archives

20 years for worker in hepatitis C case

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  by Matt Carlson

After infecting 16 patients with hepatitis C, former surgery technician pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in Denver on Friday and has been sentenced 20 years in prison.

The 26-year-old woman, Kristen Diane Parker pleaded guilty to five counts of tampering with a consumer product and five counts of obtaining a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge.  The prosecutors dropped the more serious charges, in exchange for a plea agreement, according to the Associated Press.

Parker stole hospital syringes to feed a drug habit and replaced them with those filled with saline at Denver's Rose Medical Center and Colorado Springs' Audubon Surgery Center.  She has tested positive for hepatitis C.

Gregory Graf, Parker's attorney has said her client wishes to take responsibility for her actions and was "devastated" when notified that some of the patients had tested positive for hepatitis C.

The two articles reported Parker was quiet and terse in court, answering only yes and no in response to the judge's questions.  However, her sentence would have been up to life if not for her cooperation with authorities during the summer, according the New York Times.  Investigations have been opened in two other hospitals in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and in Houston where Parker has worked in the past.

Hepatitis C is an incurable disease that causes liver problems with symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain and jaundice, according to the AP.

DNR kills black bear in North St. Paul

by Matt Carlson

A black bear was killed by the Department of Natural Resources Friday after the situation became threatening, according to officers.

It was written in the Pioneer Press that the bear had to be killed in order to ensure public safety, according to Police Chief Tom Lauth.  He also said people were crowding the scene where the unpredictable wild animal was. 

The bear had been encroaching Richardson Elementary property and the difficult decision had to be made to shoot the bear.  Officers said they chose not to use a tranquilizer because they are not always effective, possibly exposing onlookers to further risk.

The bear was two years old and likely around 120-130 pounds according to 1st Lt. Jason Peterson, a DNR conservation officer.  Bears traveling a far distance into the metro area is rare, but it happens once or twice a year, according to Peterson.

The DNR will turn over the bear's remains to the Department of Agriculture, as stated in the KSTP article, and the meat will go to a hungry family.

Analysis: Attribution

by Matt Carlson

I've chosen to analyze an article about crime to explore how attribution is used in the news.  I figured it would a be a good topic considering most articles about crime require detailed attribution, given that the reporters are not usually the ones who witnessed or investigated the crime.

 

The story I'm analyzing is about a Hofstra University freshman woman, who falsely accused five men of rape.  I found the story in the crime section of CNN online.

 

The attribution was important to this story, both because of what I noted before and because the story was told mostly through the words of someone other than the author.  The article starts off with the use of attribution right in the lead, "Criminal charges will not be filed against the 18-year-old college freshman who falsely accused five men of raping her in a dormitory bathroom at Hofstra University, an official said Friday."  The nondescript use of "an official" is the attribution here.  The official's affiliation at this point is unclear, whether it's a school official or law enforcement is unknown.

 

Later on in the article, though, the attribution is very clear, and almost overused.  The columnist begins to talk about the criminal implications for the female who falsely accused the men of rape.  The facts laid out in the article come from the district attorney handled the case.

 

The DA was attributed in the following manner,

"Instead, Danmell Ndonye must participate in a year-long psychiatric program and spend 250 hours in community service for lying to police about what was a consensual sexual encounter with four of the five accused men, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a written statement."

Later in the article the DA is referred to as "she " and "Rice" in related quotes and facts.

 

Surprisingly, two pieces of important information about the students were not attributed.  The sentence, "Ndonye said she did not engage in sexual activity with Rondell Bedward, the only one of the men who attends Hofstra University. He has returned to classes," was not attributed nor was, "Hofstra University has suspended Ndonye."

Turkey plans to acquire missiles, citing self-defense

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by Matt Carlson
Turkey is set on acquiring $1 billion worth of surface-to-air missiles for self-defense purposes including deals with the United States, others, CNN reports.

Although Turkey is situated next to Iran, an American considered hot-spot for nuclear activity, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says the missile project is solely for Turkish homeland defense and not a reaction to any other country, according to China View news. 

There has been some confusion as to exactly how many missiles Turkey is looking to obtain, ranging from $1 billion to $7.8 billion worth. The US is the leading candidate to supply Turkey with Patriot missiles, however, Turkish officials deny any link between a US-backed missile defense program against Iran, according to CNN.

The Turkish government wishes to maintain neutrality, even though they are a part of NATO.  The acquisition of a missile defense system was said to be "part of a larger, long-term program to modernize the country's military," according to Turkish military officials.

The contract for Turkey's new missile defense program is open to military contractors until Oct. 13.

Fast food spoon cause of man's mystery illness

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by Matt Carlson
Man has plastic spoon removed from chest which plagued him for two years with respiratory discomfort.

Over the past two years John Manley of Wilmington North Carolina had been experiencing unexplained coughing, vomiting and pain, according to CNN.  Upon a doctor's visit, he discovered that a fragment of a Wendy's plastic spoon had been lodged in his lung.

Manley says that he can recall no specific instance of eating such an item as the fast food giant, a one-inch long plastic shard.  However, Manley also admits that he is used to "wolfing down" his food, ABC News reports.

Last week the object was removed from Manley's chest and he is now expected to make a full recovery.  Wendy's has yet to contact him.

Oakdale mother walking baby killed by car

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by Matt Carlson
Thursday morning a 33-year-old mother was struck and killed by a car in Oakdale while walking her baby, police said.

Stacey Jane Morgan had just gone for her morning walk when a local student, 16, hit her with his car.  Morgan's three-month-old baby was ejected into the air, but sustained no major injuries.  Having sustained severe head injury, Morgan succumbed Thursday afternoon, according to KSTP.

The driver, apparently blinded by the morning sun, never saw Morgan.  Another young man in the car frantically went to nearby houses for help, the Pioneer Press reports.  The driver was said to be "in shock" and extremely broken up over the event.

A good student and seemingly upstanding citizen, the young driver was not charged or held in custody at the time of the articles' publishing.  Police spokeswoman Michelle Stark said there was no evidence that alcohol or speeding was involved in the incident.

Accident reconstruction will be performed as the accident is still under investigation by the Minnesota State Patrol.

Officials to reorganize gopher football gameday

by Matt Carlson
University of Minnesota officials have pledged that game day activities will now run much more smoothly after new changes since the inaugural game plagued by community complaints and gopher fans' headaches.

The adjustments to the stadium procedure were detailed in an article online at KARE 11 and in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and are said to improve the atmosphere for both fans and community neighbors.

Joel Maturi, U of M athletic director, has spent the last week figuring out what worked and what could be improved, according to feedback he received from both fans and stadium neighbors.  Maturi has issued an announcement explaining revisions to stadium admission as well as changes to the speaker system, which would likely be a "season-long effort."

Specifically, gates will now open 30 minutes earlier than the first game, in hopes to alleviate some congestion, according to the KARE article.  More gates, more employees and new "express lanes" have also been added to ease entering the stadium.

In terms of the community, the University has been very concerned about the stadium's local impact.  "All along in the process they've been very careful to get neighborhood input and involvement in the planning," said Carla Urban, the Vice President of the Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association. Maturi has also said that the stadium's speakers have been repositioned for better balance between the game's play by play and reducing neighborhood disruption.   However, he conceded that it will take time to perfect the setup.

The articles closed with high hopes for the second game in the 2009 gopher schedule versus California.  Maturi was optimistic about the changes, and thankful to the fans and neighbors for their continued support.  


Analysis: Leads

by Matt Carlson
Sometimes, the quick and concise dissemination of information is crucial when a major event looms upon society.  This was the case in a CNN article titled, "CDC: 3.4 million inhalable H1N1 vaccine does available soon."  The lead used in this article was a textbook example of how a lead can be brief, yet tell the reader what he or she needs to know quickly.  In this article the lead reads, "Health officials expect more than three million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine to be available in the first week of October."  It tells the concerned reader the very things he or she wants to know including the quantity of vaccine available, when it will be ready and that this announcement was made by health officials themselves.

In general, the lead is strong and has strong news elements such as what, when and who.  However, the lead fails to detail a few important criteria.  This article is from a national source and the lead gives no information as to where the three million doses will be distributed.  Also, upon first glance, the amount of vaccine could cause alarm.  Three million is not that much, give our country is home to over 300 million people.  The lead could have used a less finite number or use a phrase such as, "initial round of H1N1 vaccine available first week of October." 


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