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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.

November 13, 2007

Teen Pleads Guilty to Bus Shooting

Jerome Pablo Cross, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder in Ramsey County District Court Tuesday.

The Pioneer Press reports that Cross pleaded guilty to a shooting that occurred on April 22 when, according to the criminal complaint, Earl Freeman, 16, was shot to death after a fight broke out between two groups of youths on the Route 74 metro transit bus. The confrontation began in downtown St. Paul at the intersection of Fifth and Minnesota streets after Cross group of friends crossed the street to confront Freeman's group. Cross' sentencing is set for Jan. 4.

Both the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune also report that a fight out outside the courtroom. The Pioneer Press give very little detail, but the Star Tribune said that Freeman's father was punched in the face and two people were knocked down as police broke up the fight. They also report a 20-year-old man was arrested and could be charged with inciting a riot. The Star Tribune also reported that Cross agreed to the maximum sentence of 391 months, which is roughly 32 1/2 years. However, they also report that formal sentencing will be on Jan. 4.

November 11, 2007

What's the deal with diversity ?

It seemed hard to find articles about racial diverse groups, but I did just that in the nation section of the Star Tribune.

The article I found was about how nooses are becoming a disturbing trend as a symbol of hate. The reporter mentions cases where nooses were left intentionally as acts of racism. They mention the Jena Six and a noose that was found at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. They also write about how some believe the noose is replacing the burning cross as a symbol of hate. They also discuss the dark history of lynchings and hangings of Black people in America from 1882 to 1968.

I believe the story is very substantive. It has very deep sociological discussions about American society and what using nooses represents to most Black people in America. It also details how many African-American leaders are wanting nooses to be added as part of hate-crime laws. The story tells me a few things I didn't know. One of the was that I didn't know that between 1882 and 1968, there were 4,743 documented lynchings in the United States. Also I never heard the story of how an editor of the college newspaper at MCTC hung a noose in their office as a motivational tool to his staff. He was fired from his position, but was cleared of any bigotry. The reporter does this by just mentioning facts and data, although there is not much attribution.

Packers Beat Down Vikings 34-0

Brett Favre threw three touchdown passes and became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 60,000 yards in his career, as the Packer beat the Minnesota Vikings 34-0.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, the shutout was the first for the Packers in the 94-game series between the two teams dating back to 1961. The Packers are now 8-1 and are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the best record in the NFC. The Packers running game is finally coming around, according to the report. Running back Ryan Grant ran for 119 yards on 25 carries.

The AP story on ESPN.com reports that the Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson injured his knee in the third quarter of the game. After breaking the NFL single game rushing yards record last week, Peterson was held to 45 yards on 11 carries. Peterson is having an MRI on Monday to examine his knee.

Broadway Stagehands on Strike

TV and movies writers are not the only entertainment unions going on strike. Broadway stagehands went on strike Sunday.

According to a Reuters report, theaters went dark Saturday night as stagehands went on strike in a dispute with theater owners and producers. The League of American Theaters and Producers, which represents owners and producers, said that refunds or exchanges would be issued. They also speculate that the strike would cost $17 million each day it lasts.

The Associated Press reports that 27 shows remained closed Sunday due to the strike. The reporter also got a quote from the president of the Local One, the union representing the stagehands. James Claffey Jr. said that they want to feel respected by the League of American Theaters and Producers and to start talking honorably at the negotiation table. Eight other shows on Broadway, which had separate contracts, still remained open and did well.

Musharraf Sets Election Day

Pakistan President Pervevz Musharraf said Sunday that parliamentary elections will be held by January, but his emergency degree will last until then.

According to the NY Times, Musharraf made the announcement at his first press conference Sunday since he declared emergency powers eight days ago. However, Musharraf refused to give a date when the emergency state would end. They also report that many opposition powers and Western Diplomats dismissed Musharraf's announcement. They wonder how fair elections could take place under a "state of emergency." The report also got one diplomat to speak under anonymity saying, "He’s looking to see whether simply announcing an election date will placate people.?

The Washington Post reports that Musharraf said at his news conference that he put the state of emergency in place to "to save the democratic process" from conflict between the branches of government and to help fight Islamic extremists. They also report that Musharraf has added new military powers which permit the civilians to be court-marshaled for crimes ranging from treason to "giving statements conducive to public mischief."

St. Paul Rape Supect Arrested

St. Paul police arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with a rape that happened earlier this week.

According to the Pioneer Press, George Allen Walker was arrested and booked at Ramsey County Jail on charges of first-degree sexual assault and a probation violation warrant at 8 pm. Saturday. The rape took place on Wednesday at around 4:50 p.m., on St. Paul's East Side near Jessamine and Payne Avenues. According to police, a man knocked on a 17-year-old's front door and forced his way into the house where he assaulted and raped the teenager. Walker's first court appearance will be on Tuesday.

The Star Tribune does not give the name of the suspect. However, they give a little more description of the area the assault took place. They report that the girl's home was on the 600 block of Jessamine Avenue. Both outlets report that the police released this information "because of the grave concerns of the residents of the East Side and all of St. Paul's citizens after this brazen attack."

November 10, 2007

Minneapolis Park Police Officer Dies

A Minneapolis Park Police officer died Friday after being hit by another officer's car in a chase on Nov. 1.

Mark Bedard, 34, died Friday at North Memorial Hospital from injuries suffered after being hit by another squad car while responding to a call from a person who said that were shot at from a car, according to the Star Tribune. The report says that Bedard suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung and torn aorta from the accident. His heart also stopped twice during surgery, which also caused a stroke.

According to the Pioneer Press, the incident happened at the vicinity of 27th Avenue North and Irving Avenue North, in the Jordan Neighborhood. Bedard was chasing suspects on foot into yards and alleys, according to police officials, when a marked Minneapolis Police vehicle hit Bedard when he was crossing an alley. The Star Tribune reports the name of the officer driving the vehicle was Patricia Grant, a 20-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police. Both outlets said that this is the first time an officer was killed in the line of duty in the Minneapolis Park Police Department since its inception in 1883.

November 4, 2007

What's the deal with them numerals?

The story I chose was a boring NY Times economics story about how Citigroup's chairman Charles O. Prince III stepped down and Robert E. Rubin was named the chairman.

The way numbers are used in the story is to show how much in write-downs the company will have to make, which could range from $8 billion to $11 billion. For those of you who do not know what a write down is, the NY Times dictionary says it is a reduction of the entered value of an asset. They also used numbers to show how much Rubin has made as a board member at Citigroup. They also used numbers to show how much Citigroup's earnings have fallen.

The numbers are not too overwhelming. They are spaced out well throughout the story. However, if you are not great in economics, then you might be confused by what some of the terms mean. The reporter did not have to do any number crunching because all of the figures were public record. The sources of those numbers come from the third-quarter earning reports of that Citigroup released in early October.

Cannabis Grows Like Weeds in Afghan Province

The liberal hippies at the NY Times wrote a feature Sunday about how Afghanistan's war against narcotics has been hailed as a success in the northern province of Balkh to eradicate poppy seeds, but has neglected cannabis growing.

According to the NY Times, Balkh two years ago had about 27,000 acres of opium poppy seeds flourishing in the area. An anti-poppy campaign led by the government caused farmers to abandon the crop, the province was declared poppy-free and was promised millions in development.

However, according to the United Nations, farmers have just switched from opium to cannabis. According to an August report bu the UN, cannabis cultivation in Afghanistan has increased 40 percent from 123,500 acres last year to 173,000 acres this year. According to officials and residents, Balkh has an abundant crop of cannabis in the country. The reporter writes that the crop lines the highways and hashish, the chief byproduct of cannabis, is openly sold at roadside fruit stands and grocery stores.

Musharraf Rounds Up Opposition

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who seized emergency powers earlier this week, rounded up leading opposition party figures Sunday.

According to the NY Times, security forces detained around 500 members of opposing parties, lawyers and human right advocates. Also, the NY Times reports that about a dozen privately owned television news stations were cut off the air. BBC and CNN were also taken off the air. The report seems a little biased, which isn't a surprise coming from the NY Times. The report wrote that this move, "was clearly aimed at preventing public demonstrations that political parties and lawyers were organizing for Monday," without any attribution or fact, just assumption by the reporter. They also report that parliamentary elections will not happen for almost a year.

Musharraf seized power in Pakistan in a military coup in 1999, according to Reuters. Musharraf also has suspended the constitution. Reuters also reports that the groups who were detained believe Musharraf is doing this to pre-empt the Supreme Courts ruling that invalidates his re-election last month. Reuters reports that the Pakistani Government is being pressured by the United States to hold elections by January.

November 2, 2007

Emploment Reports Shows Gain of Jobs

The Labor Department reported Friday that 166,000 new jobs were added this October and payrolls grew more than twice than analysts predicted.

The NY Times reports that the current pace of new jobs is the fastest in five months. However, they also report that investors are still weary about the future. The stock markets were kept down most of the day. The Dow Jones Industrial gained 27.23 points to get to 13,595.10. Another thing keeping investors down is the fact that analysts predict a the forth quarter will include a broad slow down in spending and growth, according to the report.

The Washington Post report is a little more optimistic. The reporter said that this is a sign that the economy has not slowed down like analysts have predicted. The report also gave different sectors that increased jobs. Public schools had the most new jobs with 34,600 jobs, the health sector had with 34,400 new job and employment service firms had 33,500 new jobb.

Missing Edina Man Found

An Edina man who was missing for three weeks, was found in his truck at a rest stop in Wisconsin Friday.

Scott Micheal Tridgell, 23, was found Friday morning at a rest stop along Interstate 94 near Menomonie, Wisc., Friday morning, according to the Pioneer Press. A Minnesota resident who saw media coverage about Tridgell spotted his Toyota Tacoma truck and called police, according to the short report.

The more in-depth story by the Star Tribune gave the name of the man who found Tridgell, Larry DeMarr. DeMarr and his girlfriend were traveling from the Twin Cities to Green Bay, when they saw Tridgell's truck, according to the story. DeMarr remembered seeing news reports about Tridgell and the description of his truck, pulled up and saw Tridgell sleeping. Police and Tridgell's parents believe that Tridgell suffered from amnesia caused by a severe head injury he suffered in December.