November 2012 Archives

Ice sheets melting faster than expected

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The massive ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an accelerated rate in recent years, according to a recent study.

The study, released Thursday, was backed by the European Union, NASA, the National Science Foundation and research councils in Britain and the Netherlands, reported CNN News. It confirmed that major ice sheets around the world are loosing extreme amounts of water into the oceans, an estimated 237 billion metric tons, raising sea levels.

According to the study, the melting of ice sheets accounted for 10% of sea level rise in the 1990s, reported the Washington Street Journal. Now it represents 30%.

Rising sea levels have recently gained more attention, especially after the flooding caused by hurricane Sandy, reported the Washington Street Journal. Heavily populated coastal areas will be more at risk of destructive flooding if sea levels continue to rise even by small numbers.

Angus T. Jones, the "half" on CBS's popular show "Two and a Half Men", apologized Tuesday for offending cast and crew with his Monday YouTube rant about the sitcom.

Jones' apology arrived a day after his YouTube video spread like wildfire, reported CNN News. In the video, the actor repeatedly told viewers to stop watching the show and referred to the sitcom as "filth".

As reported by CNN News: "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed," Jones said in a statement released by his publicist. "I never intended that."

The show has shot about half of its episodes for this season, reported the Washington Post. Jones has not appeared in every episode, but he's under contract for the full season.

Hospital workers and parents alike were shocked when 19 baby boys were delivered in a row at the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview this weekend.

The baby boy streak began at 9 p.m. on Friday and didn't stop until 7 a.m. Monday, reported the Pioneer Press. "I'm calling it a statistical marvel," said Lisa Archer, a nurse manager at the hospital.

The odds of 19 boys being born in a row are one in 524,288, reported the Star Tribune. Hospital officials said Monday that they couldn't recall another time when they've had so many baby boy deliveries in a row.

The streak ended Monday at 7:30 a.m. with the birth of a little girl named Ladan Ibrahim, the second daughter for Mohammed Guled and Naima Bashir, reported the Star Tribune. Guled, the owner of a Bloomington-based diaper company, was so awed by the all-boy deliveries that he decided to donate three months' worth of diapers to the families of all 19 boys.

City leaders are hoping to encourage greener operations among the commercial building owners in Minneapolis with an ordinance that would assign public ratings based on energy consumption.

The ordinance would require commercial buildings larger than 50,000 square feet to submit utility usage and other information to Energy Star, a government-backed program that offers a tool for calculating energy efficiency, reported the Star Tribune. That rating would then be published on the city's website.

City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who proposed the ordinance, says it will help the city meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, reported the Republic. Glidden also said that the change could also create jobs, reported the Star Tribune.

Kevin Lewis, a member of the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners and Managers Association, said the ordinance may assign low scores to owners who lack the funds to retrofit their buildings or be unfair to tenants with high energy demands, reported the Republic.

A public hearing is scheduled for January 2013.

Analysis: The Syrian death toll and counting bodies

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You can not turn on your television anymore without seeing some terrible image of bloodshed from overseas, especially of the gruesome footage of the violence in Syria. There are countless articles about the consistently rising death toll, but numbers only go so far. Numbers are, after all, just numbers.

In an article from Time Magazine, writer Vivienne Walt dives deeper into the true death toll of the Syrian conflict by going straight to the man responsible for coming up with those impressive death toll numbers - Rami Abdelrahman, also know as Osama Suleiman, a Syrian immigrant to Britain who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Coventry, in the British Midlands. His job is, quite literally, to count the corpses.

Suleiman's one conclusion? - "If we continue like that we will destroy all of Syria."

Walt seems to avoid stereotypes altogether in her reporting, opting instead to show the view of a man who, although he has ties to the region, has an unclouded opinion, since he watches from thousands of miles away as his country is torn apart.

"Perhaps that is not surprising," Walt said, "for a man who spends his days closely watching the bloodletting across Syria." Walt focuses on Suleiman's own opinion on the conflict. "When I ask him whether he is looking forward to finally returning home to a free Syria once peace returns, [he] laughs and says, 'You are dreaming. You will finally see democracy in Syria, but it will not happen in my lifetime.'"

Not only did Walt speak with Suleiman, but she found information from several organizations involved in the Syrian strife: the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, the London-based Strategic Research and Communications Center, U.N. organizations and more.

This article goes beyond the numbers of the Syrian conflict, at least in the portion about Osama Suleiman, by presenting a voice.

The "Twilight" franchise went out with a box office bang; it's final installment in the two-part finale raking in an impressive $141.3 million during its opening weekend.

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" earned $141.3 million in the U.S. and an additional $199.6 million abroad for a total of $340.9 million, according to studio estimates, reported Fox News. The film now ranks eighth on the list of highest-grossing U.S. premiers, including "New Moon" at number seven and "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" at number nine.

"Breaking Dawn - Part 2" was one of the few successes of the year, reported E!Online News. At fourth largest, it comes just short of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games.

Of the 10 biggest opening weekends of all-time, the Twilight Saga now owns three spots, the most of any franchise, reported E!Online News.

Syrian death toll climbs to 37,000

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After 20 months of armed conflict, the Syrian death toll has climbed to over 37,000.

The cities of Homs and Damascus are the deadliest in Syria, according to an opposition group that keeps records of the war's casualties, reported CNN News. Homs narrowly beats Damascus in deaths, with Homs having 6,992 and Damascus having 6,750, according to the Violations Documentation Center.

The total number of 37,387 deaths recorded by the Violations Documentation Center now includes government soldiers' deaths, reported CNN News.

Osama Suleiman, a Syrian immigrant to Britain, heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and has the difficult task of counting the deaths, reported Time Magazine. Suleiman claims that more than 26,596 civilians have been killed, including 4,000 to 5,000 rebel fighters. He has also reported 9,445 deaths in Syrian forces and 498 unidentifiable people. His numbers do not include thousands of Syrians who have disappeared after being arrested.

Target and Toys R Us are joining the likes of Gap, J.C. Penny, and Walmart in the race to kick start the highly-profitable holiday shopping season.

U.S. retailers have typically waited until the Friday after Thanksgiving to make their end-of-the-year push, but stakes are high this year as U.S. retailers generally earn more than a third of their annual sales during the holidays, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Retailers are trying to get customers into their stores before the competition does, but they also report that customers have mentioned that they like shopping on Thanksgiving, reported the Chicago Tribune. "Customers repeatedly told us that they liked being able to do their Black Friday shopping after they had finished their turkey dinners, so they didn't have to spend all night outside in line and could sleep in on Friday," Troy Rice, executive vice president of stores and services at Toys R Us, told Reuters.

While some customers prefer shopping with their stuffing, USA Today's opinion poll from Tuesday shows that most customers are unhappy with the new, early shopping hours. "Stop making people work on Thanksgiving! Consumers and stores can wait until the next day. People should spend Thanksgiving enjoying time with their families and friends," said shopper Stephanie Demmler.

Last old-style parking meters removed in Minneapolis

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The last old-style, coin-operated parking meter in Minneapolis came down Wednesday morning.

The final meter was removed by retired maintenance worker, Phillip "P.J." Peterson, on Washington Avenue S., just west of the University of Minnesota and east of Interstate 35W, reported Fox 9 News and the Star Tribune respectively.

Multispace pay stations, which take cash as well as debit and credit cards, have become the regular in the Twin Cities area, reported the Star Tribune. They began popping up on the city's streets in November 2010 and gradually started to replace the old coin-operated meters.

St. Paul began its switch to pay stations this past summer, reported the Star Tribune.

5 shot during fight outside Austin events center

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Five people were injured, two critically, after shots were fired outside an Austin events center early Sunday.

The shooting occurred around midnight in the parking lot of Lansing Corners, a diner turned events center just outside of Austin, after a hip-hop event, reported the Star Tribune. Two guns were involved in the shooting, officials said.

The two victims in critical condition were a Rochester man and a Sioux Falls, S.D., man, reported the Star Tribune. All of the shooting victims were taken to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin before they were transferred to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Authorities are facing difficulties with witnesses. "We do know that several victims are not cooperating, and witnesses at the scene didn't see anything. So that's very frustrating," Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said, reported the Star Tribune. Without cooperation, this case will stall soon, she said, reported the Pioneer Press.

No one is currently in custody, reported the Pioneer Press.

Analysis: Function of numbers in hunting story

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The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press both reported on the opening weekend of Minnesota's first wolf hunting season. Both publications used various statistics and numbers to show the success of the weekend, but in different ways.

In my opinion, the Pioneer Press presented the numbers in a more accessible way and still created a news story, not just a results report.

Within the article, the reported attempts to present the numbers more accessibly by using only 1 to 2 figures in each paragraph. In this way, the numbers are not overwhelming to the reader, who would otherwise have to reread the numbers in order to actually understand their meaning.

While the reported did spread out the numbers of the hunting season over the entire article, some of the paragraphs of the article were small and scattered, without transitions to connect them. In order to both make the numbers easy to grasp and tell an interesting news story, the reporter should have threaded the statistics together around one central idea and use that to connect the various parts of the article.

The reporter used reliable sources for the statistics used in the article. The Department of Natural Resources and the DNR's wildlife research manager. In an attempt at equality, the reporter also including information from wildlife activist groups, like Howling for Wolves and the Northwoods Wolf Alliance.

Indianapolis explosion destroys homes, kills 2

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An explosion sparked a fire and destroyed about three dozen houses, killing two people, in an Indianapolis neighborhood Saturday night, authorities said Sunday.

The explosion occurred at roughly 11 p.m. on Saturday in a neighborhood on the south side of Indianapolis, CBS News reported. The explosion destroyed two neighboring houses and caused a fire that spread to nearby houses, killing two people.

As a precaution, Citizens Energy shut off gas to all the houses in the neighborhood, reported WLFI Channel 18 News. As of Sunday morning the company had received no reports of the odor of gas in the neighborhood and no gas leaks had been discovered, an official said.

About 200 residents took refuge in a nearby elementary school, CBS News reported. Most eventually went to stay with relatives, but about 15 to 20 stayed the night at the school.

Officials patrolled the neighborhood during the night and said they are expecting more fatalities, reported WLFI Channel 18 News.

Justin Welby set to be named archbishop of Canterbury

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The 56-year-old former oil industry worker turned bishop Justin Welby is likely to be named as the successor of Rowan William later this week.

Welby became bishop of Durham only a year ago, reported BBC News. He worked for 11 years in the oil industry before changing professions and being ordained in 1992.

Both Lambeth Palace and the church have remained completely silent on the matter of succession since work began in October of last year, reported the Guardian. A spokesperson of the Crown Nominations Commission refused to comment on reports that Welby had officially accepted the position.

Bishop Welby is regarded as being evangelical and practicing traditional Biblical interpretations, reported BBC News. Observers have said he also focuses on making the church more outward-looking.

Vice President Biden to appear on 'Parks and Recreation'

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Joe Biden is going to appear in next week's episode of NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Recently reelected Vice President of the United States Joe Biden will guest-star in the Nov. 15 episode of NBC's widely-popular television series Parks and Recreation, reported CNN News. Biden's cameo role appears at the beginning of the episode.

In July, the show traveled to Washington, D.C. to film its season 5 premiere, reported CNN News. It was then that met with Biden, as well as other Washington politicians, including Senators Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe, and John McCain.

The episode filmed scenes around D.C., reported Fox News, and Biden got along well with the cast and even ad-libbed some of his lines for the show, executive Producer Michael Schur said. Biden said he and his family are all fans of the show, Schur said.

Robert Street bus lane in the plans for west side metro

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Residents and business owners on St. Paul's west side, in the District del Sol and in Highland Village, may soon be signing off on a new community plan to improve transportation, housing, public health and economic development in the area.

The 83-page West Side Community Plan suggests adding a Bus Rapid Transit system on Robert Street, reported the Pioneer Press, as well as adding to the bike trails of Wabasha Street, Smith Avenue and Stryker Avenue. Other possible bike trail additions include routes on George and Annapolis streets.

The plan also mentions three areas for possible redevelopment, reported Mass Transit Magazine. Multi-use buildings containing retailers, offices, apartments and civic institutions would all be included in the redevelopment.

A public hearing will be held before the Planning Commission at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14 in Room 40 of St. Paul City Hall, reported the Pioneer Press.

Over 50 wolves killed in Minnesota opening weekend

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Hunters reported fifty-six wolves killed in the opening weekend of Minnesota's first wolf hunting season, said the Department of Natural Resources.

Thirty-two wolves were killed Saturday and 18 killed Sunday, reported the Star Tribune. Only six have been reported for Monday.

Minnesota's wolves were removed from the endangered species list last January, reported the Pioneer Press. A quota of 400 wolves has been set for the season, reported the Pioneer Press - 200 in the early hunting season that aligns with deer season and 200 in the late hunting-and-trapping season.

Several animal rights groups have protested the new hunting season, including Howling for Wolves and the Northwoods Wolf Alliance near Duluth and Cloquet, reported the Pioneer Press. Other groups are planning to sue the Department of Natural Resources in order to place the state's wolves back on the endangered species list.

Analysis: News obituary on Snapple founder

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This news obituary on the death of Snapple founder Arnold Greenberg follows the typical New York Times formula used nation-wide: lead, cause, claim to fame, chronology, and then family.

Sources used in the article range everywhere from Greenberg's family to the other Snapple founders, Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden, to Greenberg himself. It can also be assumed that the reporter/writer did outside research on the background of the Snapple company and its history, gathering information from public resources departments and other Snapple counterparts.

The lead in this obituary definitely follows the standard obituary lead. It begins with the name of the person (Arnold Greenberg), followed by some notable identifying fact (the founder of Snapple), and then when and where the person died (Friday in Manhattan). It ends with a short sentence containing how old the person was (80).

Several news values can be attached to the death of Arnold Greenberg. There is prominence because Arnold Greenberg was the founder of a popular drink company. There is emotion because it is a death. There is even novelty because Greenberg's beginnings were somewhat comical and he went on to found a drink company. Also, there is some immediacy because Greenberg died Friday.

In general, an obituary (including this one) differs from a resume because it offers more than just jobs and accomplishments, although it does present those. An obituary offers personal information, life stories, history and background. I doubt that Arnold Greenberg would have put in his resume that he used to wrap pickles in newspapers at his father's store.

Despite Hurricane Sandy, New York City Marathon races on

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While the city of New York is still reeling from flood waters, power outages, and a growing death count, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg repeated Thursday that the New York City Marathon will go on.

A major concern is that the race, which attracts nearly 50,000 runners each year, will take police and other public service workers away from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, reported the New York Times. Many runners and public officials have called for the race to be cancelled or postponed.

"How can a runner, in good conscience, run down the street throwing water all over the street," said Manhattan resident Steven Gold in an article from USA Today. "I'm not saying to cancel, just postpone." Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also told The Today Show that "the prudent course' would be to postpone the race.

New York Road Runners, which puts on the race, said the race would be used to raise money for the struggling city, reported the New York Times. The organization plans to donate $1 million to relief efforts in the city.

Despite Hurricane Sandy, New York City Marathon races on

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While the city of New York is still reeling from flood waters, power outages, and a growing death count, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg repeated Thursday that the New York City Marathon will go on.

A major concern is that the race, which attracts nearly 50,000 runners each year, will take police and other public service workers away from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, reported the New York Times. Many runners and public officials have called for the race to be cancelled or postponed.

"How can a runner, in good conscience, run down the street throwing water all over the street," said Manhattan resident Steven Gold in an article from USA Today. "I'm not saying to cancel, just postpone." Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer also told The Today Show that "the prudent course' would be to postpone the race.

New York Road Runners, which puts on the race, said the race would be used to raise money for the struggling city, reported the New York Times. The organization plans to donate $1 million to relief efforts in the city.

With only a week until the presidential election, former president Bill Clinton visited the University of Minnesota Tuesday to rally votes for President Barack Obama, who's lead in the state has been closing.

Clinton spoke to a crowd of roughly 1,800 at McNamara Alumni Center, reported the Minnesota Daily, and a large portion of that crowd was university students. Clinton's visit came just days after republican candidate Mitt Romney began airing television ads in Minnesota.

The former president's visit to Minnesota was the first appearance of a big-name campaigner in the state since last year's national conventions, reported the Pioneer Press, showing that Minnesota, once considered a guarantee for Obama, may be up for grabs.

Tuesday's rally was one of the last campaign events for the democrats before President Obama suspended his upcoming presidential visits to tend to the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, reported the Pioneer Press.

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