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November 30, 2007

Clinton Campaigners Taken Hostage

The New York Times reports that a man has taken two Clinton campaign workers hostage at a Rochester, New Hampshire campaign office.

Senator Clinton was supposed to appear before the Democratic National Committee today in Virginia but has canceled her appearance as she deals with the ongoing situation in NH.

As Democratic national chairman Howard Dean made the announcement in a hotel ballroom here, gasps were heard from the crowd of several hundred delegates and party officials.“Details are sketchy at this time,? Mr. Dean said. “We will keep them in our prayers and hope for a resolution of this situation.? (New York Times )

Reports from WMUR state that witnesses claim that the armed man who has taken two campaign workers hostage has a bomb-like device strapped to his chest. The man has demanded to speak to Mrs. Clinton directly.

Currently police have surrounded the building with guns drawn. "There are sharp shooters on the roof, and police are negotiating with someone in the building," said another witness, who did not want to be identified. "The police are notifying all the business owners on the street to evacuate. There are fire trucks behind the Hillary Clinton office." (WMUR )

Minnesota Braces for First Winter Storm

The Star Tribune reports that the seasons first big winter storm is expected to hit Minneapolis on Saturday.

The storm which is currently forming in the Rocky Mountains, has the potential of delivering sleet, freezing rain and as much as 10 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect until Saturday, as the chance for precipitation is 100 percent. Poor driving conditions are also expected to be poor as winds from 10 to 25 miles per hour will cause blowing and drifting snow.

More snow is in the forecast for Tuesday as well.

KARE 11 reports that the heaviest snow could fall north of the Twin Cities in a large band from Alexandria to Duluth and up the North Shore.

November 29, 2007

Victims' lawyers denied access to collapsed bridge information

According to the Star Tribune a Hennepin County judge has decided that a Minneapolis law firm will not be given access to additional data about the bridge collapse.

Minneapolis law firm Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben, sought to obtain all the information that has been collected in regards to the bridge collapse and access to where pieces of the bridge are stored, so that it could better represent bridge victims.

After hearing arguments for weeks, District Judge Herbert Lefler decided that the firms claim of the bridge information falling into the state's data practices act was not correct. The act states that "government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute ... or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic." Because the data is not public under federal law, the law firm won't have access, Lefler wrote. (Star Tribune)

The Pioneer Press reports that he Minnesota Department of Transportation maintains it cannot release that information because federal law bars it, unless the National Transportation Safety Board approves it.

November 28, 2007

ABC News and Facebook Establish Partnership

According to the New York Times Facebook and ABC News have reached an agreement that will allow for Facebook members to interact with ABC reporters.

Along with the announcement of their partnership they also made it public that they will co-sponsor Democratic and Republican debates in New Hampshire on Jan. 5.

“There are debates going on at all times within Facebook,? David Westin, the president of ABC News and a new Facebook member, said. “This allows us to participate in those debates, both by providing information and by learning from the users.? (New York Times)

A few weeks ago the partnership started when Rick Klein, the author of ABC’s widely read political newsletter The Note, and Sunlen Miller, who has been covering Barack Obama, created Facebook personal pages that people could react with them on.

Encouraging users to interact with reporters is a significant step for a news organization like ABC News. Until recently, a viewer wanting to respond to Mr. Klein’s daily essay could only write a comment or send an e-mail message to a generic address. Now, they can send private messages directly to reporters or can post them on the reporters’ public Facebook pages. (New York Times)

No money was exchanged in the deal, as both parties are just seeking mutual benefits that come along with the deal. ABC News gets its content put on a site with 56 million active users, whereas Facebook adds a credible and new source of news for its political section.

November 27, 2007

Potential Peace?

The New York Times reports that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have decided to work towards peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joined President Bush in Annapolis, Md., where he said a “road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," was established.

The agreement between Israel and Palestine simply sets up negotiations that should occur in the coming weeks. Key issues that must be discussed include Israeli's in the West Bank, Palestinian state borders, final status of Jerusalem, and whether Palestinian refugees can return to their homes in Israel.

Delegations from 49 countries and international organizations were present at the event held at the United States Naval Academy. Among them were China, Brazil, Poland and South Africa.

As a sign of how difficult the talks will be, violence broke out during demonstrations in the West Bank even as the leaders spoke, killing at least one, when security forces loyal to Mr. Abbas clashed with Islamists who brand him a traitor for taking part in the Annapolis talks. (New York Times )

Many believe that no matter the outcomes of negotiations, that to even have the two sides talking and working towards a solution is a victory.

Mr. Bush acknowledged that a difficult road lied ahead. “Achieving this goal will not be easy,? he said in the excerpts of his prepared remarks. “If it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago.? (New York Times )

November 18, 2007

The Show Must Go On

The New York Times reports that "Saturday Night Live" continued live performances Saturday night, even during the on-going writers strike.

However this episode of NBC's late night television show was out of the ordinary. There were no television cameras, it didn't take place at Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, rather it was at Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and there was no new material.

All current cast members and some returnees performed an array of sketches that had either been previously aired favorites or ones that were scratched from prior shows. Cast members did their own makeup and even searched for their own props to prepare for the show.

“We’re like cranky trained monkeys if we don’t get to perform,? said Amy Poehler, who is also founder of the theater. “We all thought about what we’re going to do during the strike, and because we have no other skills, we just scraped this together.?

She added: “We’re treating this as an optimistic night. We’re celebrating all the hard-working people who have been laid off.? (New York Times)

Proceeds from the tickets were to go to SNL’s production staff, most of whom had had been recently laid off; some were in the audience. But the performance was less about money than community. (A sold-out live version of “30 Rock,? the Tina Fey comedy, is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday at the theater.) (New York Times)

Strike negotiations are expected to resume on Nov. 26 with writers seeking to gain some sort of payment for online content that their shows provide for the networks.

November 16, 2007

New Saftey Measure At U

According to the Star Tribune the University Minnesota has started a new service to alert students of dangerous situations and school closings.

Starting today, students on the Twin Cities campus can sign up for TXT-U, a service that sends alerts to their cell phone. The university already sends alerts to email accounts and posts them on their website.

School officials realized that in today's society college students usually always have their cell phones on them. Whereas, it may take a couple a couple hours for them to check their email.

According to M:Metrics, a company that measures how mobile technology is used, more than 75 percent of people in the 18 to 24 age group use text messaging. (Star Tribune )

After the Virginia Tech incident it has become a priority for schools to alert their students of dangers.

The system and program will cost the university about $10,000 a year.

The text-messaging system will be used only on rare occasions. A gunman on campus or a bomb scare will certainly prompt a text messaging, but a crime alert about auto break-ins probably wouldn't. A tornado warning or a campus being closed for a blizzard are likely text candidates, but a thunderstorm won't be. (Star Tribune )

Metro Transit Goes Green

The Star Tribune reports that Metro Transit bought 17 new hybrid buses and paraded them through Nicollet Mall on Thursday.

The hybrids cost $557,000 each, and the ones already in Metro Transit's fleet have averaged 4.71 miles to the gallon, compared with 3.86 for a standard bus. (Star Tribune )

The federal government pays 80 percent of the cost of a new bus, with local sources paying the rest.

With the new buses Metro Transit plans to save 1,965 gallons of fuel annually for each bus. Soot and other pollutants will be lessened as well.

The hybrid buses also are more quiet than the standard bus noted Theresa Cooke, who commutes from northeast Minneapolis to downtown. (Star Tribune )

Over the next four years 150 more hybrids will be purchased.

To promote the addition of the "green" Metro Transit will give free rides on routes 17 and 18 on Monday, and a hybrid will be moving to random routes for the rest of the year offering free rides.

Planes Avoid Midair Collision

The New York Times reports that two airliners almost collided 25,000 feet about Indiana Tuesday night.

A United Express and a Midwest Airlines plan came within 600 vertical feet of each other. The safety limit is 1,000 feet. They were able to avoid catastrophe due to an onboard collision alert system that alerted the pilots of both planes to separate further.

The near collision was the result of the third error in about six weeks from a radar control center in Illinois. Which has many questioning how safe the crowed Chicago airspace is.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating, classifies errors at radar control centers on an A-through-D scale, with A the most serious. The error Tuesday was classified a B, the third B-grade mistake since Oct. 1 at the Chicago Center, one of about 20 regional traffic control centers around the country. ( New York Times)

“Part of our review is to determine how and why this happened,? said an F.A.A spokeswoman, Elizabeth Isham Cory, “to find ways of preventing it from happening again.? ( New York Times)

The maneuver was so smooth, according to Midwest spokeswoman Carol Skornicka, that passengers and the flight attendant didn't notice. She said it was "too close for comfort" but added that the chance of a collision was "very remote." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

Iran Denied From Purchasing Nuclear Materials 75 Times

The New York Times reports that an international monitoring group claims that Iran has been blocked from buying nuclear-related materials at least 75 times over the past nine years.

The purchases were blocked because they involved materials that could be used for building bombs. The purchases were stopped by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which consists of members from 45 nations. Their goal is to make sure that nuclear technology is used for peaceful purposes only.

The list of denials was provided by a diplomat that demanded that he and his country remain anonymous, as the group meets in secret and keeps its data private.

The information provided details that companies from Australia, Finland, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Iran itself that were prevented from carrying out deals because the items being sold were suspected of being militarily useful. (New York Times)

The source also indicated that the 75 denials were only actions from 7 of the 45 member states. Meaning that the actual number of denials is probably much higher.

Among the listed items being offered for sale in the blocked deals were nickel powder, petrochemical plant components, compressors, furnaces, steel flanges and fittings, electron microscopes, radiometric ore-sorting machines, valves and tubing, lasers, a rotary drilling rig, a mass spectrometer and a nitrogen production plant. (New York Times)

November 11, 2007

Blog on Diversity

The article I chose is from the New York Times and it focuses on the cancellation of a pre-meeting for the upcoming international meeting on Middle East peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The general stereotypes associated with Israelis is that they are obsessed with the security of their nation. Whereas the general stereotype is that all Palestinians resort to suicide bombings. The article includes both as it discusses Israels use of roadside checkpoints and walls to prevent suicide bombers from entering from the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

The story eventually moves past the stereotypes though when it describes the situation that will occur when the two sides are supposed to meet in Annapolis to discuss peace terms.

The story really emphasizes how real minuscule things can cause tension between the Israelis and Palestinians. It shows it through detailed descriptions that were included such as: Mr. Qurei has complained about having to take a circuitous route to Jerusalem, through checkpoints, which turns what used to be a 15-minute journey into one of more than an hour. (New York Times)

Packers Win Decisively

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Green Bay Packers improved to 8-1 as they beat the Minnesota Vikings 34-0.

A week after setting an NFL single game rushing record with 296 yards, Adrian Peterson was held to only 45 yards and more importantly kept out of the end zone.

Brett Favre completed 33 of 46 pass attempts for 351 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Packers offensively. He is now 1,105 yards away from breaking Marino's all-time record for pass yards.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was the Packers ability to run the ball against the NFL's second ranked rush defense. Ryan Grant was able to run for 81 yards in the first quarter alone and finished with 119 yards, including a 30 yard touchdown run.

Despite the rout of the Vikings, Favre thinks they can continue to improve. "Today was awesome, but I still think there's so much more left for us to do," Favre said. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Smoke Free Advocates Seek More Clean Air

The Star Tribune reports that anti-smoking advocates are seeking to ban smoking where you live.

After successfully campaigning to bar smoking statewide in bars and restaurants, advocates will set out to persaude landlords to outlaw smoking in their properties.

"We're getting a lot of calls from tenants saying that they are getting second-hand smoke getting into the living unit from somewhere else in the apartment building," said Brittany McFadden, director of the Live Smoke Free campaign. "They are not letting anyone smoke in their unit but smoke is drifting in from other people's units, balconies or patios. They are getting sick from their own living space and there's not a lot they can do to protect themselves." ( Star Tribune)

While all they can do now is encourage landlords to volunteer to enforce no smoking policies, in the future the advocates may seek the route that two California cities took and actually pass ordinances that prohibit smoking in multi-tenant buildings.

Residents of Tallheim Aparments in Chaska have a smoking ban that will go into effect today. Some are relieved but others are very upset. "It's ridiculously Big Brother to go and tell me what I can and can't do in my own home," said Brian Van Sickle, 32, of Minneapolis. ( Star Tribune)

Advocates will have a lot of money at their dispersal to finance their campaign as there is $202 million from tobacco settlement funds at their disposal.

November 10, 2007

Jail Nurse Could Face Charges For Inmate Death

The Star Tribune> reports that criminal charges could be brought against a jail nurse who failed to check a diabetic inmates blood sugar which resulted in his death.

Randy Gallmeyer, 46, of St. Paul died after being taken from jail to Regions Hospital when he was found dying in his cell.

When he was authorities checked on him in his cell his blood sugar levels were about 10 times the average amount, said his parents.

An autopsy found that Gallmeyer died of ketoacidosis, a disorder in which there's not enough insulin to lower the blood sugar. The body then uses fat for energy, and this produces ketones, some of which are acids. It can cause heart irregularities, dangerously low blood pressure and ultimately, coma and death. ( Star Tribune>)

On Friday, Oct. 19 Gallmeyer was arrested by St. Paul police near Rice and Front streets for suspicion of operating an electric bike while drunk. He was then booked into jail after refusing a breath test.

Apparently after his arrest on Friday a nurse wasn't able to check his blood sugar because he was uncooperative. Then on Saturday he refused checks at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. The afternoon nurse then did not offer him checks throughout the afternoon and night, according to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.

Gallmeyer's parents now intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

"He should be alive. They had everything right in their hands - his meter, his insulin, his whole schedule of what to do," said Nora Gallmeyer, of West St. Paul. "There is no excuse, no reason in God's name why my son shouldn't be alive today had they done what I told them.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else. There needs to be changes in the jail." (Pioneer Press)


November 9, 2007

Congress Flexes Its Muscles

The New York Times reports that Congress has overturned a President Bush veto for the first time in his presidency.

The veto was overturned with a vote of 79 to 14. As a result the government will adopt a $23.2 billion water resources bill, which will eventually distribute funds to approved projects around the country.

The next few weeks in which several several budget bills will try to get passed, will remain difficult for Republicans as they must decide whether to support their president or distance themselves from an unpopular president, as another election year is approaching.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed concerns that she hopes the president thinks about the implications of using his veto power in the future.“We are hopeful that the president will reconsider his chronic use of the veto to block the priorities of the American people, from water resources to ending the war in Iraq to providing health care for 10 million children," she said according to the New York Times.

Israel Seeks Help From Egypt

The New York Times reports that Israel has urged Egypt to help stop the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas from smuggling weapons, militants and cash across the Egypt border and into the Gaza Strip.

At the same time Yuval Steinitz, an Israeli legislator has asked the United States to freeze military aid to Egypt until they take action against Hamas.

A House bill has been constructed which would freeze $200 million in military aid to Egypt until the U.S. can be assured that significant measures have been taken to detect and end the smuggling practice into the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.

Steinitz has accused Egypt of allowing Hamas to obtain 20,000 rifles, 6,000 anti-tank missiles, 100 tons of explosives and several dozen Katyusha rockets and shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles, according to the New York Times.

Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat from New York, told the newspaper Haaretz that Egypt had been allowing $12 million to $20 million a month in cash to flow to Hamas, and said smuggling had worsened. “Egypt is not helping as much as it can,? he said. (New York Times )

However, Egypt claims they are doing all that they can but claim to be hindered by restrictions in the Camp David Accords which state they can only get so close to the Gaza Strip. This Wednesday they said that they had discovered smuggling tunnels and destroyed them.

Egypt's role in the whole matter is tricky as supporting Hamas would not be a smart political move, but they can't be seen as siding with Israel over Palestine either.

November 4, 2007

Numbers

The story I used for this analysis was an ESPN story about Adrian Peterson's record setting game.

Numbers were crucial in telling the story as they were needed to describe how well Peterson played when compared to NFL legends. They were also used to describe the plays that occurred throughout the game.

There were an overwhelming amount of numbers in the story as they are important in sports stories. However, the writer did a great job of separating the figures in separate paragraphs and also placed them far apart in sentences. Also, when talking about Peterson and the records he broke and has the chance to brake, the writer separated each record category into separate paragraphs.

Some math was also used to calculate his average yards per carry and also how many yards he is on pace for the year. The sources of the numbers come from NFL statistics.

Record Day for Rookie

The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson set a new NFL record for rushing yards in a single game with 296 yards.

The Vikings beat the San Diego Chargers 35-17 with three of the touchdowns belonging to Peterson.

Peterson who carried the ball 30 times, broke Jamal Lewis' four-year-old rushing record of 295 yards, with his final carry of the game. His 30 carries accounted for 47 percent of the Vikings' offensive plays. 253 yards came in the second half.

Espn.com reports that Peterson was entirely focussed on the game. "Oh, no. I was out playing ball," Peterson said. "I wasn't thinking about the record at all."

Peterson is on pace to break Eric Dickerson's rookie record of 1,808 yards set in 1983.

"I set my bar high, because I know anything is possible when you continue to work hard," Peterson said.

Potential Earth Saver

According to the Star Tribune a partnership of Minnesota corporations and state agencies will see if carbon dioxide can be stored underground North Dakota prairies.

The "Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership" won a federal grant last month that will supply them with $300 million to test if it can pump carbon dioxide deep into the ground. That would not only remove it from the atmosphere, but also free up inaccessible oil and gas deposits, the Star Tribune reported.

The Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership is launching one test that will inject 1 million tons of CO2 annually into a remnant of an ancient sea about 10,000 feet below the North Dakota prairie. Carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant near Beulah, N.D., will be compressed into a fluid and pumped into the earth where it will remain, said associate research director John Harju, "in perpetuity." (For comparison, Minnesotans produce about 115 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.) (Star Tribune)

In Minnesota a different program that emphasizes terrestrial sequestration has received funding. Instead of pumping carbon dioxide into the ground terrestrial sequestration would involve the transformation of farmlands to the forests, prairies and wetlands that they used to be. By doing so there would be a greater concentration of land which could retain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of the carbon-holding material in the soils of the Great Plains has been lost to plowing, according to the Star Tribune.

Mystery Man???

The New York Times reports that U.S. Senator Barack Obama made a surprise appearance on NBC's Saturday Night Live last night.

He appeared in a sketch that was set up as a mock Halloween party thrown by Bill and Hillary Clinton played by actors Darrel Hammond and Amy Poehler respectively.

The skit featured actors playing all the prominent Democratic Presidential candidates with a running gag of them referring to Hillary's bridal gown costume as a witch costume.

Eventually, a man shows up wearing an Obama mask. The man takes it off and it was Mr. Obama himself. He then took a shot at Mrs. Clinton stating that he didn't need to pretend to be someone else, even on Halloween. He then stated “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!?

Residential Smoking Bans?

According to the New York Times
a growing movement exists that hopes to restrict smoking in apartments and condominiums.

Various cities, including Minneapolis, have enacted bans of smoking in public places but apartment complexes and condos were not included in the law.

This year alone, two California cities have passed laws that prohibit smoking inside multiunit residential buildings. Also large residential real estate companies with apartment complexes in several states have banned smoking within units.

“It’s frustrating,? said Joanie Shockley, 59. “I like to have my grandchildren come over, and I don’t like for them to be exposed to people smoking.? (New York Times)

60 public housing authorities across the country now have smoke-free policies as well. Three years ago there were less than 10, said Jim Bergman, founder of the Smoke-Free Environment Law Project.

Edward Sweda Jr., senior lawyer at the Tobacco Control Resource Center of the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, says he has studied the legal issues of secondhand smoke for 28 years and knows of no law in the United States prohibiting residential property owners from banning smoking. (New York Times)

London Mega-Mosque Meets Resistence

The New York Times reports that an effort to build Europe's largest mosque in London is meeting some opposition.

The proposed building would be located in London's East End, near the financial district and at the gateway of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The mosque would be sponsored by Tablighi Jamaat, a worldwide evangelical Islamic group based in Pakistan with millions of followers that professes to encourage Muslims to be more loyal to their faith, according to the New York Times.

"American and European law enforcement officials say Tablighi Jamaat’s simple message masks a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists. Two of the suicide bombers who attacked the London transit system in July 2005 had attended Tablighi Jamaat gatherings, British security officials said." New York Times

The plan originally called for a mosque that would be able to hold 70,000, but it has been scaled down to hold only about 12,000.