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December 9, 2007

Packers Clinch Division

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Green Bay Packers have clinched the NFC North Division title and a playoff berth with their 38-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders Sunday.

Led by two special teams touchdowns by cornerback Will Blackmon, the Packers cruised to an easy victory after losing to the Dallas Cowboys a week earlier.

Blackmon who has missed a lot of the season due to a broken foot, scored on a 57 yard punt return and also recovered a muffed punt in the endzone for a touchdown.

Ryan Grant also had a sensational game for the Packers as he rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown. Grant has more rush yards after week 8 than any other running back in the league.

The balanced attack of the Packers allowed for Brett Favre to ease into the game, a week after separating his shoulder and bruising his throwing elbow forcing him to leave the game against Dallas. By starting he increased his consecutive starts streak to 250 regular-season games.

He demonstrated that he was still an elite quarterback, even while being banged up, as he threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80 yard touchdown to Greg Jennings.

Wisconsin Changing Directions of Biofuel

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports about the new generation of biofuels that Wisconsin seeks to develop to reduce carbon emissions.

Ethanol which has been praised by many as the next big alternative fuel, has considerable opponents as it doesn't eliminate a high amount of greenhouse emissions as it takes a great deal of petroleum to produce it.

Therefore Madison researchers as well as northern Wisconsin papermakers have begun to research the possibility of alternative fuels made from wood chips to switchgrass.

Interest in next-generation ethanol, known as cellulosic ethanol, is percolating because of the federal government's goal to produce 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels by 2017, said Masood Akhtar, president of the nonprofit consulting firm CleanTech Partners Inc. in Middleton. The energy bill in Congress is aiming for 36 billion gallons by 2022. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

Meanwhile, laboratories at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are getting rolling on scientific research to more easily break down the sugars in cornstalks and other plants. Earlier this year, UW received a $125 million award to establish its first federal research center in nearly a century, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )

Thousands Brave the Cold For Chance At Money

The Star Tribune reported that over 8,000 people waited outside for "Deal or No Deal" auditions on Saturday at Denny Hecker's Inver Grove Heights Toyota dealership.

The show gives contestants a chance of winning $1 million dollars by picking the proper briefcase.

Casting officials were on hand looking for contestants to be on the show this season or the next. Luke Conklin, casting director said that the Twin Cities and Philadelphia were their only stops for the upcoming shows.

"I'm looking for energy, fun, and someone I want to root for," Conklin said. "I could make their dreams come true right now." (Star Tribune)

One of the more creative ideas was put forth by Mike and Lynda Dupre who advocated for a couples edition of the show. They showed up for their interview dressed as an angel and a devil.

The Pioneer Press reports that over 10,000 were present to wait in line for 7 hours in order to audition for the show.

After a day of waiting in the cold, a handful of people had required medical attention as waiting outside in the cold all day and then going into warm buildings caused them to feel faint. A woman wearing high-heeled leather boots developed mild frostbite.

U.S. Nuclear Lab Computers Hacked

The New York Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security released information that a cyber attack linked to China occurred at a federal government's nuclear weapons laboratory.

Attacks on Oak Ridge National Laboratory computers in Tennessee occurred from web and internet adresses that had origins in China, but no proof was evident that is was the Chinese government or Chinese citizens. Officials said that classified information was not compromised.

“At this point, we have determined that the thieves made approximately 1,100 attempts to steal data with a very sophisticated strategy that involved sending staff a total of seven ‘phishing’ e-mails, all of which at first glance appeared legitimate,? laboratory Thom Mason wrote in an e-mail message sent to employees on Monday. “At present we believe that about 11 staff opened the attachments, which enabled the hackers to infiltrate the system and remove data.? (New York Times)

The original email and first chance of stolen data occurred on October 29, 2007.

The Washington Post reports that the assault appeared "to be part of a coordinated attempt to gain access to computer networks at numerous laboratories and other institutions across the country," lab director Thom Mason said in a memo to the 4,200 employees at the Department of Energy facility.

"There was no classified data of any kind compromised," lab spokesman Bill Stair said Thursday. "There are people who think that because they accessed this database that they had access to the lab's supercomputer. That is not the case. There was no access at all." (Washington Post)

The lab currently posses the second faster supercomputer in the world and is planning to build another.

Defense Security Contends Iran Still a Threat

The New York Times reports that Defense Security Robert M. Gates believes that Iran is still threat even without nuclear weapons.

Days ago the United States intelligence report showed that Iran had frozen its nuclear weapons program. However Gates said that they could restart the program at anytime.

He also said that while nuclear weapons may not be present other risks are still likely.

“I assume that it will also embrace as valid American intelligence assessments of its funding and training of militia groups in Iraq, its deployment of lethal weapons and technology to both Iraq and Afghanistan, its ongoing support of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas that have murdered thousands of innocent civilians and its continued research and development of medium-range ballistic missiles that are not particularly cost-effective unless equipped with warheads carrying weapons of mass destruction,? Gates said. (New York Times)

Opposition to the U.S. Middle East policy have criticized the U.S. for allowing Israel to maintain a nuclear arsenal while condemning other countries efforts.

The Washington Post reports Gates taking a strong stance against Iran.

"Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents," Gates said in a speech to defense leaders from 23 countries attending the Manama Dialogue, a security conference organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. (Washington Post)

He also stated that all Arab nations should help and aid the Iraq government for if Iraq fails as a state the Middle East will be in trouble.

December 2, 2007

Blog on Records/CAR

In the Star Tribune story, "13 Seconds in August", computer assisted reporting was essential.

First, the designers and journalists involved with the project had to be able to search databases to be able to find the individuals involved in the tragedy. In order to do so various electronic databases must of been used. Knowledge to properly use search terms and skills were necessary to be able to associate victims along with the cars that they were driving when the bridge collapsed.

After specific names were obtained, their contact information or family information had to be obtained on the internet so that interviews could be obtained for the project.

Besides skills that were necessary to gain information, various computer program skills were needed. The article allows for readers to interact by clicking on specific areas of the computer screen to obtain information about the various victims of the disaster. Knowledge in some design program was needed to be able to do this.

There was also some videos embedded in the article that would require some computer expertise.