October 2012 Archives

Teacher collapses and dies in Minneapolis classroom

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Lori Blomme, 40, collapsed in her classroom at Menlo Park Academy in northeast Minneapolis on Tuesday and was taken to the hospital where she died later that day.

Blomme was leading a class when she collapsed, said brother-in-law David Blomme to the Star Tribune. Wednesday afternoon, Rachel Hicks, a spokeswoman for the school district, said Blomme suffered "a medical emergency".

Students were moved to the school's gymnasium while paramedics attempted to help Blomme, reported the Pioneer Press. The school district sent security and psychologists to assist students and faculty.

Blomme had taught at Menlo Park Academy, a non-traditional high school, for nine years, reported the Star Tribune. "She was one who thought she could make a change and could also learn from her students," said her brother-in-law.

She lived in south Minneapolis and is survived by her husband and two daughters, ages six and eight, reported the Pioneer Press.

Airlines around the world have cancelled flights to and from the east coast of the United States due to a growing threat from Hurricane Sandy.

British Airways has cancelled flights to and from New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore while Britain's Virgin Atlantic has cancelled all flights to the east coast, reported CNN News. London's Heathrow Airport has urged U.S.-bound passengers to check their flight statuses before going to the airport.

Flights have been cancelled from airlines in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong and Turkey, reported CNN News.

Nearly 10,000 flights have been cancelled in the United States for Monday and Tuesday, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, reported Yahoo News. American Airlines, United and Delta have cancelled all flights in and out of New York, the nation's busiest airspace, stranding more passengers than during last year's Hurricane Irene, reported Yahoo News.

Monday afternoon, Hurricane Sandy was 110 miles southeast of Atlantic City, N.J., reported Yahoo News, and had turned west toward the Eastern Seaboard. Landfall is expected for late Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

Random House and Penguin agree on merger

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Two of the publishing world's biggest players have agreed to a merger that will create the largest publishing house in existence.

Bertelsmann, owner of Random House, and Pearson, owner of Penguin, agreed Monday to combine the two houses to create the largest consumer book publisher in the world, reported the New York Times. The deal would allow the German and British companies, respectively, to better tackle the challenges of publishing in the era of e-books.

The joining of Random House and Penguin will bring together nearly one forth of global English-language consumer book sales, reported the Wall Street Journal. Random House would bring E.L. James, author of the best selling "Fifty Shades of Grey", and Penguin would bring an impressive list of classics, including George Orwell, author of the dystopian thriller "1984".

In the deal, Bertelsmann will have a 53 percent stake and Pearson will have a 47 percent stake, reported the Wall Street Journal, but it must first pass antitrust regulations. Bertelsmann said it expects the deal to close in late 2013.

Hidden gun found inside donated library book in Indiana

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An Indianan library discovered quite the surprise when a gun was found hidden inside a donated book this week.

The gun, a .31-caliber single shot, was stowed away inside a hollowed-out portion of a copy of the the Robert Stone novel "Outerbridge Reach", reported the Chicago Sun-Times.

An employee of the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library in Indiana was sorting through donated books when they came across the handgun, reported the New York Daily News. "Somebody just opened it up and said, 'Oh my,'" said Porter County Public Library assistant director Phyllis Nelson.

Nelson contacted local police who confirmed that the gun, which is being held as evidence, was not stolen, reported the New York Daily News. No record is kept of the many books that are donated to the library each month, so there is no way to know who donated the book or when.

North Oaks couple admits to post-Katrina Medicaid fraud

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A North Oaks couple pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday to to multiple fraud charges, according to the U.S. District Attorney's Office.

The couple, 69-year-old James H. Hood and 55-year-old Cynthia M. Hood, admitted that they left Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to settle in Minnesota, bringing their three disabled children with them, and defrauded Medicaid and Social Security out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Star Tribune reported.

The couple pleaded guilty to mail fraud, health care fraud and theft of public money, reported the Star Tribune. Cynthia also pleaded guilty to making a false statement while seeking Social Security benefits for the children.

The Hoods admitted to lying about their income while applying for benefits for their disabled children. The couple's defense lawyer, Jean Brandl, described one of the children as "severely autistic" and the other as a quadriplegic from cerebral palsy, reported the Star Tribune.

James and Cynthia Hood face 20 years in prison with an additional 20 for James Hood and five for Cynthia Hood, reported the Pioneer Press.

Nine people arrested in Pakistani schoolgirl shooting

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Nine people have been arrested in connection with the shooting of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, a teenager who spoke out against the Taliban, according to police.

Six men have been arrested in connection to the shooting of Malala, Pakistani police said Wednesday.

Atta Ullah Khan, a 23-year-old man of Swat district, has been identified as the main suspect in the shooting, Pakistani police told CNN News. Police are searching for Khan in the Swat Valley in the northwestern part of Pakistan. Khan's fiancee, mother, and brother have been arrested, but they are not accused of involvement in the shooting, police said.

Malala was shot last Tuesday in the Swat district of Pakistan, an area heavy with Taliban influence, reported Sky News. She was targeted for speaking out against the Taliban for the education of women and was attacked on her way home from school. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack and has said they will kill Malala if she recovers from her injuries, reported Sky News.

Malala is currently receiving care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, reported Sky News, and she was able to stand with assistance, according to an official.

Maple Grove mom hooked daughter, 12, on heroin

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A Maple Grove mother has been charged with felony child endangerment after telling police that she regularly smoked heroin and marijuana with her 12-year-old daughter.

Rebecca Rachelle Hill told police that her daughter "likes to do the same things that she does and that (she) 'most likely' uses heroin because she does," according to court documents. Hill admitted to investigators that she smoked the drug with her daughter three times a day in the past several weeks, the Star Tribune reported, in an attempt to keep the girl from having withdrawal symptoms after the two received the drug from a "neighbor friend".

Hill was arrested October 14 for shoplifting at Macy's at the Mall of America with her daughter, reported the Pioneer Press. She gave police a false name and told them she was from California. Police confirmed that the name was incorrect and Hill and her daughter then "began crying loudly and clinging to each other". The girl was released to her grandmother.

The next day, the girl's father called police and said that his daughter told him her mother had been giving her heroin and marijuana and that she was very sick, reported the Pioneer Press. The girl was taken to the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital.

Hill appeared at court Monday and is schedule for another appearance November 19.

9-year-old girl shot after being mistaken for a skunk

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A 9-year-old girl was accidentally shot by a relative who mistook her for a skunk outside a Pennsylvania Halloween party, police said.

The girl, who was wearing a black costume and a black hat with a white tassel, was outside the western Pennsylvania home when a male relative mistook her for a skunk and fired a shotgun at her, said police, hitting her in the arm and back, the Star Tribune reported.

The girl was alert and talking when she was flown to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, about 30 miles away, reported the Washington Post, but her current condition is unknown.

Pittsburgh police said that it is unknown whether the male relative had been drinking or not and that it is unsure if charges will be filed, reported the Star Tribune. A decision will be released in a few days, police said.

Lance Armstrong's doping allegations have become big news. Many of his corporate sponsors have dropped him, including Nike and Trek, and he recently resigned from his position as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation. So, his appearance and speech at the Livestrong Gala Friday night were highly anticipated.

ABC News was on-hand to cover the event. Their article followed a slight "point, support" structure, but it also gave a significant amount of background information and exterior links related to the doping scandal. Rather than focusing on a continual pattern of "point" with a quote "support" from the speech, the structure of the article began with a "point, support", went further into the story, and finished with another "point, support", including quotes from other gala attendees.

By including such in-depth background information and other information related to recent developments in the story, the reporter gave the reader a knowledge of the actual story rather than just the gala speech. The story, at the moment, is Armstrong's resignation and loss of sponsors. The reporter realized this and provided the reader with information related to those topics, like who initially accused him, who has stepped forward, and who has recently stepped back.

In a way, the reporter honored Armstrong's own wish to "spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career" by ending the article with quotes from individuals involved with the Livestrong Foundation about how the foundation plans to "live strong" without their founder.

A record high in student loan debt has been made this year with Minnesotan students deep in the red.

The collegiate class of 2011 graduated with an average student debt of $26,600, reported the Star Tribune, according to a report released by the Institute for College Access and Success, a Californian nonprofit organization. Graduates of Minnesota's four-year universities had an average debt of $29,800 in student loans, the third highest in the nation.

This high level of student debt is due to a decrease in funding from the state offices, said MSUM President Edna Szymanksi in an article from WDAY Channel 6 News. MSUM is attempting to help indebted students by referring them to community colleges, focusing on early graduation, and helping them choose successful careers.

Roughly 71 percent of Minnesota graduates took out student loans, according to the ICAS report. It's the fifth highest number nationwide, reported the Star Tribune. But Minnesotan students are more likely to repay their loans, said Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst at the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, to the Star Tribune, with a three-year default rate of 9 percent.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has announced that he is stepping down from his position as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation after continued allegations that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during his racing career.

Armstrong announced his decision Wednesday, saying that he is resigning so the Livestrong charity group can better focus on its own mission and not the problems of its founder, the Washington Post reported. Armstrong said that he wishes "to spare the foundation any negative effects as a result of controversy surrounding my cycling career."

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Friday that it was banning Armstrong for life and stripping him of his Tour de France titles, reported CBS News. The UCI, the cycling world's governing body, may give its response Monday as to whether the cycling champion will be striped of his titles.

Armstrong has already lost several of his sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch, reported CBS News. The cyclist also lost the support of Trek, the company responsible for building his bicycles.

Principal sleeps on roof for iPad fundraiser

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The principal of a Maplewood, Minn., school slept on the roof of the school after parents and students raised $25,000 in an iPad fundraiser.

Maplewood's Gethsemane School Principal Aly Xiong told parents and students that he would sleep on the roof of the school if they were able to raise $20,000 to fund iPads for the school, reported bringmethenews.com. The goal was met and beat when they raised $25,000.

"The incredible thing is that we never thought we'd make the goal," said parent Kristy Gusick in an article from Kare 11 News. She said that the Christian school in Maplewood, Minn., is a small one that raised only $8,000 in the same fundraiser last year.

Principal Xiong will spend the night on the roof of the school this week, reported Kare 11 News. He has asked that students come visit him and bring a canned food item for a local food kitchen.

Canadian border guard shot by U.S. motorist

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A female Canadian border guard was shot Tuesday by a U.S. motorist who then turned the gun on himself, said Canadian authorities.

The U.S. man shot himself shortly after firing on the border guard, reported the Toronto Star. The man drew his gun on the border guard while she was attempting to inspect his vehicle at the Peace Arch crossing, according to police. The popular crossing near Blaine, Wash., was immediately closed.

The boarder guard was breathing before she was airlifted to a hospital, reported CNN News, but her current condition is still unknown, said Surrey Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Bert Paquet.

The shooter was pronounced dead at the scene, reported CNN News, but his identity has not been released. He was driving from Washington state across the Canadian border, authorities said.

21 names released in Zumba sex case

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Police released the names of 21 men who allegedly paid for sex from a Zumba instructor in a seaside community in Maine Monday morning.

Alexis Wright, a 29-year-old Zumba instructor in Kennebunk, Maine, has been accused of accepting payment from men for sex and then videotaping the events, reported CNN News Sunday. Wright allegedly received help from her business partner Mark Strong, a 57-year-old insurance salesman and private investigator.

The Kennebunk Police Department said in a statement Friday that they were waiting to release the names of the men involved, reported CNN News. Monday morning the names were released after Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren denied a motion by an attorney representing two of the accused people seeking to block disclosure of the names, reported the Huffington Post.

Wright and Strong both pleaded not guilty this month to prostitution-related charges, reported the Huffington Post. Wright is charged with 106 counts and Strong with 59 counts. Police say over 150 people are suspected of soliciting sex from the Zumba instructor.

Analysis: Function of multimedia in news reporting

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Several news organizations are attempting to make use of multimedia news reporting through their websites. Both ABC News and The New York Times have successfully integrated multimedia into their websites, including photo and interactive slideshows.

The New York Times website utilizes interactive multimedia quite frequently. Just searching the term "interactive" on their website produces an array of stories told through graphs, maps, and images that change with the reader's actions. The New York Times website has an entire section of their side-bar dedicated to multimedia including interactives, photography, and video. ABC News Online makes use of large, striking photos as links for many of their stories, but they also have entire sections of their website dedicated to videos, slideshows, and stories-in-photos.

Both sites specifically have interactive maps related to the 2012 presidential race. These interactive maps compliment news stories that both news organizations have on the presidential race, specifically the influence of swing states in this year's presidential race. The New York Times recently published an article about how nine swing states, critical to the presidential race, are a "mixed lot". Their interactive map utilizes polling, previous election results, and political geography to further investigate the potential voting results of those key swing states. Below the interactive map there is a list of further analysis of particular states and the writing style used is one that is straightforward, appearing to favor neither side of the campaign. This style of writing that presents information in such a seemingly straightforward manner is a way for the news organization to appear unbiased in their reporting.

On ABC News Online, the same pattern appears. In an article published Friday, the news organization mentions several swing states, like Ohio and Iowa, and how those states will make predicting the results of the presidential race difficult. ABC's interactive map shows analysis of these states, including the rest of the country. A graph above the map shows the distribution of the votes of the electoral college. Below the map there is further analysis of key swing states, but in more of a paragraph form than the box form the New York Times used. The writing involved comes from the ABC News political director, so it has more of a personal tone to it, more opinionated. The writing shows a definite lean in favor of President Obama. This style of writing is possibly used by the political director to influence readers into a certain vote. She could attempt to utilize the numerical and mathematical map and graph above as proof.

Google awards $60,000 to teenage hacker

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Google awarded a $60,000 prize to a teenage hacker who revealed a bug in the company's Chrome browser system.

The teen boy, who goes by the hacker name "Pinkie Pie", discovered a flaw in Google's browser Tuesday at a competition, known as "Pwnium", put on by Google in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, reported CNN News. The boy also found a bug in February at the first "Pwnium" competition and again won $60,000 from Google.

Before the first "Pwnium" in February, the boy applied for a job at Google and said in his cover letter that he could hack their Chrome browser, reported Deseret News.

Social media giant Facebook has also started paying hackers who could find bugs in their system, reported Deseret News. They reportedly give $500 to users who can find a bug.

Cleveland authorities say teen stole, drove transit bus

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Cleveland authorities said a 16-year-old boy stole a public transit bus and drove it five miles before being arrested.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is investigating how the teenager entered the bus maintenance facility Thursday morning, reported the Seattle Times. Although the facility is monitored by police and has security fencing and cameras, the teenager was able to start the large bus and leave driving it.

A spokeswoman for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority said starting the bus would have been very difficult for the teen since the bus uses a series of buttons to start and not a key, reported ABC News.

The teen was later spotted in the parked bus, which had a smashed window and mirror, by a transit supervisor, said the spokeswoman.

2 US scientists win Nobel Prize in chemistry

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Two American scientists received this year's Nobel Prize In Chemistry for their research on the communication system used by body cells to sense outside signals. This research is key in developing new drugs.

Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz and Dr. Brian K. Kobilka were awarded $1.2 million by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for their discoveries into a group of receptors known as G-protein-coupled receptors, reported WDAM News. These receptors function with roughly half of all medications.

Dr. Lefkowitz received the news Wednesday via telephone call from the Academy, the New York Times reported. Dr. Kobilka received his call at 2:30 in the morning. "When you have a number of people with credible Swedish accents congratulating you," he said, "You feel it's probably not a joke someone is playing on you."


Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students from Stillwater, Minn., have died in an off-campus apartment fire Monday morning.

Ross Livermore, a 21-year-old computer science major, died Monday after a fire broke out in his apartment in the 600 block of Water Street, reported Fox 9 News. Jacob Clarkson, a 22-year-old computer science major, died Tuesday at Hennepin County Medical Center after being treated for serious burns.

The fire was under control after about two hours, according to the Star Tribune, but the cause of the fire is still unknown.

Two other roommates escaped the fire with minor injuries, reported the Star Tribune. Garret Isakson and Casey Malan, both 21, were treated at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

The Minnesota Department of Health is continuing to call hundreds of Minnesotans who were possibly given contaminated steroid injections, reported Fox 9 News Monday.

Over 830 patients have been notified by the health department after receiving steroid injections at two medical clinics in the Twin Cities, Medical Advanced Pain Specialists and the Minnesota Surgery Center, that were possibly infected with fungal meningitis, reported the Star Tribune.

According to state health officials, hundreds of Minnesotans have reported symptoms of meningitis or stroke, like headache, fever, chills, stiff neck, weakness and slurred speech, reported the Star Tribune. State health officials said three women are being treated for meningitis symptoms, reported Fox 9 News, but no deaths in Minnesota have been reported.

There have been eight deaths nationwide linked to steroid products made by the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, reported the Star Tribune. The pharmacy closed and issued a recall of its products, but is it believed that 17,000 contaminated steroid injections were shipped, according to Fox 9 News.


I reported on an article from CNN News on the recall of over 500,000 Honda Accords. A follow-up story came out about an extension of that recall to include 268,000 CR-Vs.

Seeing as the second article is an introduction of the CR-V recall, the lead had to include to extended recall coverage, adding the 268,000 CR-Vs to the existing 500,000 Accords. The lead also was modified to include the specific reason for the "fire risk" mentioned in the Accord article - issues with the power window master switch.

The main news value - the fire risk and car recall - was summarized by mentioning the recall's coverage and instructions for owners to follow.

The CR-V story advances the news by giving a more detailed description of how the fire risk could occur. The article describes the design fault and how it puts the vehicle at risk, as well as a link to Honda's official statement on the matter. It also mirrors the Accord article by mentioning reported accidents and what owners can do to repair their vehicles.

Overall, the function of this particular follow-up story on Honda Accord and CR-V recalls was to inform the public of additional concerns with possible malfunctioning vehicles and to inform the public of the actual cause of the malfunctions.

Swedish royal couple visits Minnesota

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King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are visiting the land of ten thousand lakes this week and feeling quite at home.

The Swedish royal couple visited the American Swedish Institute on Thursday, their first stop in a three-day visit to Minnesota, the Star Tribune reported. They then toured the new Nelson Cultural Center and saw an exhibit of tapestries by Swedish artist Helena Hernmarck.

It's hard to know exactly what the Swedish royal couple is saying about their trip, according to a reporter from the Star Tribune, since U.S. media is not allowed interviews, but an endless supply of smiles and cinnamon buns at the outings gives off quite a happy feeling.

Today, the couple is scheduled to attend the 150th anniversary of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MinnPost reported, saving a visit to the Governor's Residence in St. Paul for Sunday.

While most events are invitation only, Minnesotans can possibly get a glimpse of the royal couple before they head to the Governor's Residence Sunday morning at 9:30, according to MinnPost.

Almost one in 10 Minnesotans have Swedish background, reported the Star Tribune, giving Minnesota the greatest population of Swedes in the entire country.

Bottlenose dolphins Allie and Semo have relocated from the Minnesota Zoo to new homes nearly 2,000 miles apart, the Star Tribune reported Thursday.

The two dolphins had to be relocated because major repairs needed to be made to the Apple Valley zoo's 15-year-old Discovery Bay building, which had suffered from years of salt water damage, the Star Tribune reported. During the repair period, the Minnesota Zoo will not have any dolphins in residence.

48-year-old Semo, the oldest male bottlenose dolphin in captivity, now calls Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in San Francisco home, Kare 11 News reported. He will soon be introduced to the other dolphins-in-residence at Six Flags and potentially be paired for mating.

25-year-old Allie returned to her previous home at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago where she lived from 1995 to 2000, reported Kare 11 News. While she is familiar with the other dolphins there, Allie is currently off exhibit until she gets used to her new surroundings, the Star Tribune reported.

"We will miss Allie and Semo," said Minnesota Zoo Marine Mammal Supervisor Diane Fusco, "but are excited to see them begin their new journeys. We know Allie and Semo will be well taken care of."

Sexy little geisha lingerie sparks racial backlash

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Victoria's Secret is facing backlash after debuting its recent line of Asian-inspired lingerie, which critics claim stereotypes eastern culture.

The world-popular lingerie store recently released its "Go East" line of lingerie, featuring an outfit entitled "Sexy Little Geisha". According to the Huffington Post, the outfit features an obi belt with matching fan and chopsticks.

Members of the Asian-American community have said the outfit is offensive and have accused the lingerie giant of exploiting sexual stereotypes of Asian women, CNN News reported. According to Racialicious contributor Nina Jacinto, "It's a troubling attempt to sidestep authentic representation and humanization of a culture and opt instead for racialized fetishizing against Asian women."

The Sexy Little Geisha number is no longer available on the Victoria's Secret website, the Huffington Post reported. The company has reportedly removed the item as well as the entire "Go East" collection.

CNN News reported that, in a statement to a reporter from Bust magazine, the company's press office suggested the product had simply sold out.

Woman raped by police, then charged with indecency

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A Tunisian woman was allegedly raped by police officers and then charged with public indecency when she filed a complaint against her attackers.

The case, which began Sept. 3, initially started when three police officers approached the woman and her fiance, who were sitting in their car in the capitol Tunis, CNN News reported. Two officers then raped the woman inside the car while the other officer took the fiance to an ATM to extort money from him.

In an interview with France 24, the fiance said that one of the officers handcuffed him and demanded 300 dinars, the equivalent to roughly $194. When the fiance said he did not have the money, he said the officers "took everything I had" - about $25 dollars.

It wasn't until after the woman filed the complaint that the officers claimed to have discovered the couple in an "immoral position" in the car, CNN News reported. Now the woman and her fiance face charges of indecency which, if the two are found guilty, could result in six months in prison.

"In the end, this woman was raped three times," said Zeyneb Farhat, member of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, to France 24, "When she was taken from the car - a private space - when the policemen assaulted her, and when the justice system turned her into the accused."

Honda recalls over 500,000 Accords

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Honda Motor Company has issued a recall for more than 500,000 of its widely-popular Accord because of a potential fire risk in the car's engine.

To recall covers roughly 572,000 Accord V6's from model years 2003-2007, reported CNN News. The power steering hoses in these models have a risk of leaking, creating smoke and potentially sparking engine fires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

At this point, no crashes or injuries have been reported except for one documented engine fire, Honda said in a statement Friday.

This recall is an expansion of a previous recall made by Honda in May of around 53,000 2007 and 2008 Acura TL's, according to WPTV Channel 5 News. The car company is promising to replace these power steering hoses free of charge, but replacement parts won't be available until next year.

This is just one recall in a list of recalls Honda has issued, ranging from the CR-V and Acura ILX to the Odyssey minivan, reported WPTV Channel 5 News.

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