December 9, 2007

Peace out news blog (for real this time)

I thought I'd go out with a drunken bang for my final news blog. Some British anti-drinking television ads may actually backfire and glamorize drinking, according to researchers.

A report done by the BBC said that researchers at the University of Bath believe that these young people who see this ad will think that drinking is fun and will drink to assert their social standing. The ads, or adverts as those crazy Britons say, show different drunken incidents like being thrown out of a club or passing out in a doorway. Researchers believe that young people think of incidents like these as being part of a "fun" night out, making these adverts dangerous. The adverts also try to make being incredibly hammered socially unacceptable, while many young people actually believe the opposite.

Now I am finally done blogging for this semester. Praise baby Jesus or Allah or Buddah or any religious symbol out there!

Canadian Pig Farmer Convicted of SIx Murders

A Canadian pig farmer was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women.

According to the NY Times, the 10-month trial, which featured grisly and horrific evidence, ended with the conviction of Robert William Pickton. Pickton is also being charged with killing over 20 other women and is suspected of killing 50 others, according to the report. The judge limited the first trial to six murders to make it more manageable, but Pickton will be going to trial for the other murders, prosecutors said. During a 19-year period, 61 drug addicted women went missing in the Lower Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia. Pickton is suspected to have involvement in those cases.

The UK paper, The Guardian, reports that the jury deliberated for 10 days and came back with a guilty verdict. They also report that investigators found human remains on Pickton's farm, including skulls and feet. Pickton was also recorded by an undercover officer in a taped jail conversation saying that he had killed 49 women and planned to make it 50.

Two Church Shooting in Colorado

Two people were shot and killed at a missionary training center outside of Denver and one was killed at a church in Colorado Springs, Colo.

According to USA Today, shortly after midnight a man shot two people at the Youth With a Mission missionary training center in Arvada. The man wanted to stay the night, but was denied according to Arvada Chief Don Wick. Twelve hours later, around 1 p.m., a lone gunman walked into a New Life Church in Colorado Springs and killed one person before a security guard killed him, according to Colorado Spring police.

One of the victims was from Minnesota, according to the AP story on the Star Tribune Web site. Tiffany Johnson, 26, was from Chisholm, Minn and was the director of hospitality at the Youth With a Mission training center. Another Minnesotan was wounded in the shooting, Charles Blanch, 22, of Burnsville, Minn. Police are investigating whether or not the shootings were connected, according to both reports.

Eden Prairie Store Reopens After Threat

A Von Maur department store in Eden Prairie closed on Saturday after someone called in a threat.

The store, according to the Pioneer Press, is located off of Interstate 494. Eden Prairie Sgt. Bill Wyffels said that the threat was not specific, just a general threat. Eden Prairie Police are still investigating the call. According to the story, the Omaha, Neb. mall shooting that happened on Wednesday occurred in a Von Maur store.

The Star Tribune reported that the name of the Omaha Mall was Westroads Mall. They also report that nine people were killed in the shooting, while the Pioneer Press report eight died. They report that the Eden Prairie incident happened at around 7 p.m. and forced the store to close two hours early, according to police.

U of M Graduation Rates Increase

I guess I was kidding in my last entry about being the last blog ever. So to kick off the last week of blogs, the University of Minnesota, the school I am attending right now actually, graduation rates are rising, but the school is still lagging behind their peers.

According to the Star Tribune, in 2006, over 40 percent of the university's students graduated in four years. The U of M trails its peers in graduating students in six years or less, the report said. The report also said that the U of M compares itself to 10 other peer universities like Wisconsin, Texas and Penn State. The U ranks last in graduating students in six years or less. The school's current five year graduation rate is 57.9 percent, and their six-year rate is 60.8. The ten other universities it compares itself to have five year rates of about 65 percent and six year rates of 70 percent.

December 2, 2007

Goodbye Forever 3101 blog!!!!!!!!

Well blog, we've had some good times and we've had our bad times. But like they say, all things that get really old doing every Sunday night at 11:00 p.m. must come to an end.

For my final news analysis of the semester, I have chose a CAR story about the I-35 W bridge collapse. Oddly enough, we talked about this in class. The story is the "13 Seconds in August" story by the Star Tribune.

I actually have explored this story on my own and I found it very interesting. The records and analysis used in the story are the people's stories that are told. They also used records like license plates and car makes and models to find out who these people are so we can here their stories. The reporters also needed hospital records to found out about the injuries sustained by each individual that was on the bridge that day. They also needed police reports to find out what people died, when certain events happened, etc.

The main computer skill that was needed is how to use a Flash player. That is the main portion of the story. Also the reporters also needed to know how to post videos online. Work with digital photography was also a necessity for this type of story.

LSU vs. Ohio State for College Football Title

The Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers will play The Ohio State University Buckeyes in college football's Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Title Game on Jan. 7 at the Superdome in New Orleans.

According to an AP story on ESPN.com, the Tigers finished second in the final BCS poll, released Sunday, with an 11-2 record, and is the first two loss team to play in the BCS title game. Ohio State was number one in the poll with a record of 11-1. Neither team was ranked one or two going into Saturday's games however. Former number one Missouri Tigers and number two West Virginia Mountaineers both lost Saturday, making room for two new teams to play for college football's national championship. Missouri lost in the Big 12 Conference's title game to the Oklahoma Sooners and West Virgina lost to Pittsburgh.

US Conducted Secret Pakistan War Games

US Military experts and intelligence officials met in Washington last year to conduct classified war games, simulating strategies for securing Pakistan's nuclear weapons in case of the collapse of political and military institutions.

The Washington Post reports that a small group of military experts and intelligence officers met last year to conduct the war game. They sought to answer questions about what they would need to help secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons. They tried to answer questions like how many troops they would need, could Pakistan's nuclear bunkers could be protected with land-mines and others. According to one participant of the games, the group came to a conclusion that there is no plausible way to ensure the safety of Pakistan's weapons, and that studying scenarios could strain US-Pakistan relations. The study was not sponsored by the government.

The Dawn, an English language Pakistani newspaper, ran a story about the reaction of some in Pakistan to these war games. Feroz Khan, a former Pakistani Strategic Plans Division officer, said that these games could worsen the situation. Khan said that this antagonized Pakistanis and could cause countermeasures. Others also said that this could cause anti-Americanism in the country.

Chavez May Cement Power in Venezuela

Venezuelans voted on a referendum Sunday that gives President Hugo Chavez many new constitutional powers.

According to the NY Times, as of Sunday night, the Venezuelan government still did not release any results from the vote which caused politicians to believe that the vote was too close to call. The NY Times also reports that there were 69 amendments to the constitution made by Chavez. Some of them were to abolish presidential term limits, declare states of emergency for unlimited periods and increase the state's role in the economy. They also report that electoral officials said that results could come late Sunday evening or early Monday.

But the UK's The Guardian is already calling the vote a victory for Chavez and his supporters. They report that two exit polls suggest that voters approved the referendum. They also described the rhetoric that Chavez has been using to promote his policies. According to The Guardian, Chavez said that he would rule until 2050 if he kept winning elections. He also is quoted as saying that a vote against the referendum is a vote for US president George W. Bush.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

The first snowstorm of the winter season arrived Saturday causing misery on highways and roads, but joy to those who enjoy the pleasures and activities that come with snow.

According to the Pioneer Press, St. Paul got about 6 inches while Forest Lake saw 7.5 inches fall on them. The Minnesota State Patrol reported 290 accidents across Minnesota and 98 in the metro area. 21 of those in the metro involved injuries. As of Saturday night, the Pioneer Press reports that none of them were serious. Airport travel handled the snow well. According to Pat Hogan, a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport spokesperson, the average plane delay was about 15 minutes or less.

The Star Tribune took a lighter approach to their story. They reported that Duluth saw nearly 8 inches of snow Saturday and Two Harbors saw seven. However, they report that the Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 338 accidents statewide. They also report that Anoka County alone had 80 crashes. The State Patrol also reported no fatalities. According to the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department, about 1,700 homes in Brooklyn Park lost power for several hours due to the snowstorm, but the problem was resolved.

Missing Refinery Worker Found Dead

A refinery worker at the St. Paul Park Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery, who was considered missing on Saturday after a tank fire, was found dead Sunday.

According to the Pioneer Press, the man was Nicholas Gunter, 29, of Hastings, Minn. They also report that Gunter was found at around 1:40 p.m. and was found in a blending tank at the refinery. The fire occurred at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in one of the tanks at the refinery. Police, Marathon workers, firefighters and volunteers joined forces to search the refinery for Gunter. About 70 people total helped in the effort, according to Marathon spokesperson Robert Calmus.

The Star Tribune ran an AP story. The AP reports that Gunter had been a refinery operator in the blending operation since January 2006. Police are investigating both the cause of Gunter's death and the cause of the tank fire. They also report that the fire did stop operations at the refinery.

November 18, 2007

English Police Force Uses Cardboard Cut-Outs

Leave it to the blimey Brits to use cardboard cut-outs to deter shoplifters.

The bobbies in Derbyshire, England placed 10 cardboard cut-outs of a female police officer in stores across the Peak District to deter shoplifting, according to BBC News. This move was also done in the Amber Valley area, but ironically, one of the cut-outs was stolen. The officer used at the cut-out model, Pc Anna Gaskill, said that the use of these cut-outs does not mean that the police force is short in numbers. She told the BBC that they are just being used as an extra deterrent. The police force hopes to use more of these in the future.

Bangladesh Cyclone Death Toll 2,300

The death toll for a cyclone that ripped through Bangladesh Thursday hit 2,300 on Sunday and some expect it to be around 10,000.

According to Reuters, the Bangladesh disaster ministry recorded about 2,300 deaths on Sunday at 10 a.m. Local media reported around 3,500 deaths. Mohammad Abdur Rob, chairman of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said that in his experience, he believes the toll could reach 10,000. Cyclone Sidr hit the country's southern coast on Thursday night with 155 mile per hour winds with tides reaching about 16 feet. The Bush administration has offered an initial $2.1 million for emergency relief, according to the U.S. Embassy.

A different angle was taken by the AFP for the story. They went with the ecological damage that was done by the cyclones. They reported about how the world's largest mangrove was in and area of Bangladesh called Sunderbans and could have been destroyed. The mangrove protected millions from the Bay of Bengal's other less serious tidal waves and cyclones. They also reported that the endangered Bengal Tiger made its home in the mangroves and many may have been killed. According to the report, there were an estimated 500 living in the mangroves at the time.

US Secretly Aids Pakistan to Guard Nukes

The Bush administration has been secretly funding Pakistan over $100 million for the past six years to help President Pervez Musharraf secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

The NY Times reports that this information was given to them by current and former senior administration officials. However, the story lacks actual quotes from these officials. They report that the aid was buried in the federal budget and the aid paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, which is not yet complete. This story seems a little convoluted because the Times does not attribute a lot of the information to specific sources. They also say they have known about this for three years from talking to American officials and nuclear experts. The Bush administration tried to block the story from being printed because it may have hurt the security of the weapons. The Times decided to release the story since the turmoil in Pakistan's government began earlier this month.

The AFP also reported on the NY Times story. They were told by a White House spokesperson that, "at this time, we believe that Pakistan's nuclear weapons and facilities are under the appropriate control of Pakistani authorities." They also report that the program was created after the 9/11 attacks. They report that the Bush administration was enlisted Musharraf as their chief ally in the "war of terror." They also report that Pakistani media began reporting on this situation earlier in the week and this allowed the NY Times to print the story.

Mankato Student Dies in Car Accident

One Minnesota State-Mankato University student is dead and another seriously injured after a car struck them early Sunday morning.

According to the Mankato Free Press, one woman laid in the traffic lane in Mankato's industrial north side. The other woman was trying to help her up when a car hit them both and killed the woman that was lying down, police said. Police and medical crews arrived at the scene at 12:47 a.m. Sunday on 3rd Avenue and Kingswood Drive. Police also said the two were leaving a sorority event. One woman was pronounced dead at Immanuel St. Joseph's Hospital and the other suffered serious injuries. According to police, the driver was a 17-year-old who was driving a 1991 Toyota Tercel.

The Star Tribune reports that a university spokesperson said that the two women were in their early 20s and upperclassmen. Police told the Star Tribune that the area the women were hit was industrial and has no traffic lights or stop signs and the speed limit is 40 miles per hour. They also reported that the university will post a web page to allow friends and family access to information on the accident. They also mentioned another accident that happened at the university last month where an 18-year-old girl was struck and killed after a car hit her while she was training for a cross-country meet. Both media outlets report that police have not identified anyone involved with the accident.