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October 31, 2007

Hudson Bank Robber Found Dead

A man who robbed an Associated Bank branch in Hudson, Wisc. Wednesday shot himself after pulling into a hospital parking lot in Stillwater, Minn.

According to the Star Tribune, the man robbed the branch and fled at around 10 a.m. Wednesday. The man fled to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, Minn. and officers heard one shot, approached the vehicle and saw the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. The Hudson Police believe that this robbery could be connected to another bank robbery that happened last Friday at Citizens Bank in Hudson.

Oak Heights Police Chief Lindy Swanson said that the robber weighed between 250 to 300 pounds and was between 30 and 60 years old, the Pioneer Press reports. This also matches the description of last week's robber. They also report the robber used a white Ford Mustang to conduct the robbery and was found dead in the same car.

October 28, 2007

What's the deal with dead people?

The obit I am blogging about is from the Star Tribune about a U of St. Thomas prof. Francis Mayer.

Some of the sources they used were a former student of Mayer who also is a St. Thomas administrator. They also spoke to a retired marine who sang in his choir. The story has the standard obit lead where they name the person, their age, and what they did for a living. The lead works because it is simple and to the point. It differs from a resume because the reporter talked to people who were affected by professor Mayer. On a resume, they talk to people who weren't necessarily affected by the person. They also only list things from his life that were important, not just every single thing or job the person worked.

Seven College Students Die in Fire

Seven college students were killed in a house fire Sunday in Ocean Isle, N.C.

According to CNN.com, six of the seven students attended the University of South Carolina and one attended Clemson University. Six other students were injured and they also attend the University of South Carolina according to Dennis Pruitt, the vice president for student affairs. Those students were treated at Brunswick Community Hospital and released.

Reuters reports that police in Ocean Isle received the call about the fire at 7:01 a.m. and when they arrived the entire house was in flames.

Argentina's First Lady Leads Election

Argentina's first lady Christina Fernandez claimed victory in the presidential elections Sunday.

According to the AP, early results and exit polls show that Fernandez has enough votes to avoid a runoff with the other candidates. She needed at least 40 percent of the vote and had to have a lead of over 10 percent. Six independent news stations, a private radio station and an opposition newspaper said that their exit polling has Fernandez has easily won, according to the AP.

The NY Times reports that Fernandez is the first woman president of Argentina. If she wins, she will become the second woman elected to be a leader of a South American country in the past two years. They also report that Fernandez needs 45 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. Her husband, Nestor Kirchner, is the current president of Argentina.

Nanny Responding to Ad Killed

A local woman who responded to an ad on a website for a nanny was found dead in a Burnsville park late Friday.

Katherine Ann Olsen, 24, was found dead in the trunk of her car in a Burnsville park on Friday night, according to the Star Tribune. They also report that her friends last saw her on Thursday and she was going to meet a man from Savage, Minn. about a job interview for a nanny position.

The Pioneer Press reports that the Savage Police Department arrested a 19-year-old man shortly after finding Olsen's body. The man was taken into custody at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where he works.

October 22, 2007

Fires Burn Across Southern California Again

Dozens of fires burned across Southern California this weekend and continue to burn, as about 250,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.

About 200,000 acres have burned from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, according to the NY Times. So far over 130 homes have burned in San Diego County and 128 in the Lakehead Resort northeast of Los Angeles, the NY Times reports. San Diego County officials said that there has only been one death, but several injuries including four firefighters

USA Today reports that there have been 150,000 acres burned from San Diego to north of Malibu, Calif, which is an area of 150 miles. They also report that the fires are caused by severe drought and hot, dry winds coming from the Mojave Desert, which become warmer as they move into the valleys of Southern California.

Target Sales Forcast Down

Target Corp cut its monthly sales outlook for the second month in a row on Monday.

According to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-based company predicted that sales will rise about 2 to 4 percent this month at stores that have been open for a year or more. This is down from the 3 to 5 percent prediction earlier this month. Last month, Target predicted a same-store growth of 4 to 6 percent, which was lowered later in the month to a 1.5 to 2.5 percent increase. The actually increase was only 1.2 percent. A private equity firm from Minnetonka called Growth Venture said that consumers are cutting discretionary spending due to the poor economy.

The AP reports in USA Today that this could raise more concerns about consumer spending during the holiday season. The AP also reports that some analysts blame the warm weather and the sluggish economy for lackluster sales this fall. They believe that stores aren't able to sell boot, coats and other cool weather apparel which could be affecting sales.

October 21, 2007

What's the deal with event coverage?

Sadly, I decided to pick the first event I saw on the Star Tribune's website. Out of all the events happening in Minneapolis, the one that is on the homepage of the website is the "Hanna Montana" concert happening at the Target Center on Sunday night. After writing a story about Harry Potter and then this, I feel like I'm 13 all over again.

The reporter does not really use any sources. The article is in the entertainment section of the paper, so some of the facts that are used can be easily verified. For example, the reporter says that the actress that plays Hanna Montana, Miley Cyrus, will be greeted by 14,000 fans. That fact can probably be verified by Target Center Officials.

The angle of the story is how many ticket brokers bought up as many tickets as they could and re-sold them, some for even $1,000. Also, the reporter touches on the ideas of how the Disney television show, "Hanna Montana," has become such a craze, and how many adults have no idea what the hell "Hanna Montana" is.

The reporter has created more than a listing by writing about the national controversy that has occurred due to the ticket brokers and online resale stores. The reporter wrote about how four different state attorneys are investigating how some created software that can hijack Ticketmaster's Web site and how tickets sold out literally in seconds. The story also doesn't feel like a listing because of the way the lead was written. It kind of poked fun at the so-called "Hanna Montana" craze.

Dumbledore is Gay??

After never reading a single Harry Potter book ever, I decided to write a blog about how author J.K. Rowling told fans that Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster at Hogwarts Academy and mentor to Potter in the series, is gay.

According to the USA Today, Rowling told a crowd of about 2,000 Harry Potter fans at a reading of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in Carnegie Hall Friday that she "always saw Dumbledore as gay." Rowling also told fans that the relationship between Dumbledore and fellow wizard Gellert Grindelwald in book seven was one of love, not just friendship.

The UK Sunday paper, The Observer, reports that the attendance was about 1,600. They also report the way the topic came about was after a 19-year-old from Colorado asked "Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?" Rowling then explained the story of the love affair between Gridelwald and Dumbledore.

If anyone can explain who any of these characters are, that might help me understand what is going on in this messed up world of Harry Potter.

Kaczynski Voted Out in Poland

Poland's Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski lost his position Sunday as his party, the Law and Justice Party, lost the Polish elections in the biggest voter turnout since the end of communism in Poland two decades ago.

Reuters reports that exit polls show that the incumbent Law and Justice Party received only 30 percent of the vote while the Civic Platform won around 44 percent. They also report the high 55 percent voter turnout appears to be a rejection of the past two turbulent years under the rule of Kaczynski and his brother President Lech Kaczynski. The Civic Platform is a party that looks to pull troops from Iraq, speed economic reform and mend EU relations. Lech is not up for re-election until 2010.

The New York Times reports that official results will not be released until Tuesday. Then, they will figure out if The Civic Platform will have an outright majority, or if they will have to create a coalition with the Polish Peasants Party. They also report that leaders across Europe will be relieved by the results, because Poland under the Kaczynskis has been known to not agree or go along with other European nations. Poland has also been one of the leading allies to the U.S.

October 20, 2007

Body Found in Cedar Lake

A body of an unidentified man was found Saturday in Cedar Lake near an overturned boat.

The breaking story has very little facts available at this time. The Star Tribune reports that Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek said that they and the Minneapolis Park Police are investigating the matter. They also report that the body was was found at around 10 a.m. this morning about 100 feet off shore by someone passing by. The cause of death is still unknown.

The Pioneer Press reports that Hennepin County Sheriffs responded to a 911 call at around 9:45 a.m. Saturday and after a witness saw an overturned boat. Authorities found the body shortly after arriving.

October 18, 2007

Storms Create Tornados in Florida

A tornado stormed through Pensacola, Fla. Thursday and destroyed numerous homes and businesses and left thousands without power, according to the mayor.

CNN.com's report
is mainly eyewitness testimony of the destruction. They do report that the tornado was spotted at around 9 a.m., according to a spokesperson for the Escambia County Sheriff. The tornado ended about 40 minutes later. Escambia County officials said that about four homes were destroyed and about 80 were damaged. A spokeswoman for Baptist Hospital said that four people were treated four minor injuries.

The AP reports the tornado touched down at 11:15 a.m. ET. They report also have no report of injuries. Both the AP and CNN.com report that the Greater Little Rock Baptist Church and the main downtown shopping mall, Cordova Mall, were heavily damaged.

Hit and Run Suspect Description Released

St. Paul Police released the description of a man and the car he was driving after he allegedly struck a 71-year-old woman crossing the street.

According to the Pioneer Press, witnesses describe the car as a mid-1980's Pontiac Bonneville with white and blue panels possibly. Witness described the driver as a black male in his 50s with short hair. Witnesses also said that the woman was crossing W 7th Street near Chestnut Street at around 10:40 a.m. According to police, the women broke several bones and had internal injures.

The Star Tribune had a little more information in their report. The Star Tribune reports that witnesses think that the the license plate was PAJ 774. The Star Tribune also gave the name of the victim, Susan Hengefelt. They also report that witnesses said that the man who struck the woman got out of the car, saw the victim and ran away.

October 14, 2007

What's the deal with press conferences/meetings?

The story I chose was an AP wire story about John Edwards comments made about Hilary Clinton flip-flopping her position about Iran and the press release posted at the John Edwards for President Website.

The press release was a statement made by John Edwards for President communications director. It obviously was pretty biased because it was coming from the Edwards campaign. It basically said Clinton was not being honest about her stance on certain issues. The AP news story was what Edwards himself said at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. The news report also addressed what other Democratic Presidential candidates voted on a measure to allow President Bush to call the Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorists. Clinton voted for the resolution while other candidates did not. The news report goes on to say that Edwards blasted Clinton for trying to pander to voters by saying one thing and then saying something totally different. The news report also had comments from the Clinton campaign.

The reporter who wrote the story decided not to use anything in the press release, which is a good thing. Otherwise the story might have seemed biased toward Edwards, because Clinton's campaign only gets one short graph to defend themselves. The reporter mainly focused on what Edwards himself actually said. But the press release basically summed up what Edwards said without all of the rhetoric. The reporter also talked about other candidates which is also good, because then not all of the coverage is going to a few front-runners.

Rapper T.I. Arrested on Weapons Charges

Rapper T.I. was arrested on federal gun charges hours before he was about to preform on the BET Hip Hop Awards Saturday.

According to CNN.com, the rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, 27, was arrested at 2:30 p.m.EDT in Atlanta. The arrest comes after a sting operation where his bodyguard-turned-informant brought Harris three machine guns and two silencers, according to a Justice Department statement. Authorities also said that Harris provided the bodyguard with $12,000 to buy weapons that Harris could not own because he is a convicted felon. Harris was convicted on felony drug charges in 1998.

Reuters reports that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives began the undercover investigation on October 2 when ATF agents leaned an individual was looking to buy machine guns without registering them, according to the Justice Department. The individual was Harris' bodyguard who was arrested Wednesday. Harris' College Park, Georgia home and the vehicle he was driving were searched as well. The ATF said they found three other firearms in Harris' car and six firearms in his bedroom closet.

October 13, 2007

Rice Fears Kremlin Holds Too Much Power

The Russian government under President Vladimir Putin has too much central power and is compromising Moscow's commitment to democracy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday.

According to an AP report on CNN.com, Rice told reporters after a meeting with human rights activists, "I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma," referring to the Russian Parliament. Rice also encouraged activists to build institutions of democracy to help combat arbitrary state power.

BBC News reports that some may see Rice's comments as thinly veiled criticism of Putin and the Kremlin, which makes the report seem editorialized. The report also said that Putin has centralized power and has a tight control of television, which is the most used source of information in Russia. Putin denies those accusations and cites the many non-state publications in Russia. Putin will be stepping down as president after his second term ends in March, but hinted he might try to become the next prime minister and return as president in 2012, as the constitution allows.

New Twins Stadium Land Agreement

A settlement was reached Friday between Hennepin County and landowners of the site where the new Minnesota Twins' stadium will be built.

According to the Star Tribune, the two sides reached an agreement after two weeks of mediation before retired Hennepin County District Judge Rick Solum. The report also said that the in dispute was worth $33 million and Hennepin County only wanted to pay $19 million. County officials said they were worried about paying too much for the land and not having enough money left to complete roads and other public works projects around the stadium. As part of the settlement, details will not be released until Monday at 10 a.m.

The deal means that a jury trial over the matter will be avoided. According to the Pioneer Press, a jury trial was scheduled for Nov. 13 on the landowners' appeal of a $23.8 million price set in early negotiations. The report also said that the land is owned by Land Partners II, a limited-liability corporation with about 80 investors.

October 9, 2007

Six Injured in Minneapolis School Bus Crash

Three children and 3 adults were injured when a bus was hit by car that ran a red light at the intersection of North Broadway Avenue and Fremont Street North.

The bus was transporting 3 and 4-year-olds to Donald M. Fraser Early Childhood Family Development Center at 700 Humboldt Ave. N. police said to the Star Tribune. The accident set off a chain reaction of collisions at the intersection at around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Police said that an Oldsmobile traveling west on West Broadway Avenue ran a red light and hit the southbound bus on Fremont Street. The bus then collided with two other cars, according to police.

The Pioneer Press reports that 11 children between the ages of 3 and 5 were on the bus at the time, along with a parent and two grandparents. According to a hospital spokesperson, none of the injuries suffered were serious and the children were treated and released. All the riders were wearing over-the-shoulder restraints when the accident occurred.

October 8, 2007

Plane Missing over Washington State

Air and ground rescue teams were out searching for a plane with 10 skydivers that went missing Sunday night over a mountainous area in Washington State.

According to CNN.com, the single-engine Cessna 208 caravan had nine skydivers and one pilot on board. The plane fell of radar at around 8 p.m. Pacific time, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The plane was heading to Shelton, Wash. from Boise, Idaho. Nisha Marvel of the Washington State Department of Transportation told CNN that a camper in the area saw a low-flying plane and then heard a crash.

Officials believe the plane was believed to have gone down on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range, southeast of Seattle, according to an AFP report. The AFP reported that the witness in the area was a hunter, not a camper as CNN reported.

October 7, 2007

First Day and Follow Ups

The story I chose was the story about the threats that were made at St. Louis Park High School in the Star Tribune.

The first day story was about the actual threats that were made at the school and how the administration dealt with them. A rumor was started at the school that something violent was going to happen, and that rumor was broadcast through text messages. The school then added extra security for the next few days. All of this came after a fight last Friday. The follow story was about how the school has been continuing their homecoming events this week.

The two leads don't differ two much. The first day story was straightforward and got to the facts. The follow story was also to the point. The main news in the first day story was summarized pretty tightly. It described what the administration decided to do and summarized the fight that happened. The follow story was a little more like a feature. It summarized the activities the school did for homecoming and how the students were reacting to the events of the past week. At the end, they summarized what had happened this week. The way the follow story advances the is that it describes how the students and faculty have felt about the events of the past week. The first story was all facts. Also, it shows the aftermath of the threats that were made at the school. It shows that they really haven't overshadowed the school's homecoming plans and they are trying to move on.

Six Dead in Wisconsin Shooting

Six were killed and one other person wounded in a shooting after a sheriff's deputy fired shots in former girlfriend's home early Sunday in Crandon, Wisc.

Forest County Sheriff's Deputy and part-time Crandon Police officer Tyler Peterson, 20, is the suspected shooter, according to the Star Tribune. Peterson was killed by a sniper, according to Crandon Mayor Gary Bradley. There was no clear motive at the time, but some family members of the victims and speculate that Peterson was a jealous boyfriend and went to his ex-girlfriends house and began firing a gun.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that six died at the scene and one was in critical condition. Police responded to a call of gun shots at 2:47 a.m. One friend of the victims and the suspect said that Peterson "was a good kid, likes to hunt and fish, just a normal kid and they were all real good friends."

Court to Decide Pakistan Election

Pakistan's presidential election is in the hands of their Supreme Court after General Pervez Musharraf won the election by a landslide, even though the election was boycotted by the opposition.

According to CNN.com, the opposition parties said it was undemocratic and unconstitutional to have Musharraf run while still army chief. Musharraf received 671votes while his main rival only received eight.

Reuters reported that it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will annul the results. They also report that the results of Pakistan's election are important to the West because they want "to see Musharraf maintain nuclear-armed Pakistan's support for efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and tackle al Qaeda."

Cargill Recalls Beef Patties

Cargill recalled beef patties that may be contaminated with E. Coli after four children became ill.

According to CNN.com, Cargill has asked customers who purchased any beef patties after August 26 to return them or destroy them. The contaminated beef was purchased at three Twin Cities-area Sam's Club stores under the name American Chef's Selection Angus Beef Patties.

About 884,812 pounds of beef have been recalled, according to a Reuters report. Reuters also reported that Cargill learned of the situation on Friday and said that they did not know the extent of the contamination and are investigating the matter.

October 4, 2007

Senator Craig Guilty Plea Stands

A Hennepin County District Court judge rejected an attempt by Sen. Larry Craig to withdraw his guilty plea following an arrest in a gay-sex sting at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

According to the Star Tribune, District Judge Charles Porter called the guilty plea to disorderly conduct in his 27-page ruling, "accurate, voluntary and intelligent," and called Craig's reasoning "illogical." They also reported that Sen. Craig initially resigned on Sept. 30, but then put it off until the ruling.

The Pioneer Press reported that there was no word whether or not Sen. Craig was going to appeal the judge's decision or step down from his senate seat.

October 3, 2007

Middle School Girl Brings Meth to School

A 14-year-old girl plead guilty Wednesday to distributing crystal amphetamine to other students at Hazel Park Middle School Academy in St. Paul on Tuesday.

According to the Pioneer Press, the girl was charged with second-degree sale of a controlled substance and will remain in custody until her next court appearance on Oct. 10. Earlier on Wednesday, police said they found two grams of crystal meth at her home. The Pioneer Press reported there were six girls who ingested the drug and were brought to the hospital, and one boy was brought to the hospital, but it was unknown if he took the drug.

The Star Tribune reported that a girl went to the school nurse at around 12:15 p.m. Tuesday and said she wasn't feeling well and felt anxious and scared. The girl then told the nurse that her and another group of students had "found a substance and 'ingested' it."