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November 30, 2007

Putin speech prompts impromptu Kasparof press conference

Chess grand champion Gary Kasparov was released today after a week in jail. An event that was overshadowed by a well-timed President Valdmir Putin speech.

Putin urged the public to stand behind United Russian, his party that is expected to dominate the upcoming election based on the progress that Russia has made under his term as president.

Kasparov and others from his Other Russia party were imprisoned when the "coalition tried to deliver a letter to federal election officials contending that the parliamentary election this Sunday is biased toward Mr. Putin’s party, United Russia


According to the Washington Post, Putin said, ""We cannot allow the return to power of those who once tried but failed to rule the country." This speech came just two hours before Kasparov was released.

November 25, 2007

The big comeback

Prezident Musharaf's biggest rival-the man he ousted and exiled-Nawaz Sharif made a sucessful comeback from exile today amid cheers of supporters.

THe BBC reported, "Supporters clapped and danced and waved the green flags of Mr Sharif's party. They shouted slogans such as 'Long live Sharif' and 'Go, Musharraf, go'". Sharif said that the police state was not conducive to free elections.

THe New York Times reported that two months ago Sharif had tried to enter the country but Musharaf had deported him from Pakistan within hours of his arival. This time, thousands of police officers protected his motorcade and kept the peace while Sharif gave a speech.

The Times further reported, "Sharif's reappearance could trigger large-scale defections from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League, made up of politicians who have backed General Musharraf's rule. Intelligence agencies assembled the PML from the remnants of Sharif's party."

The BBC noted that the people also seem to like him because, "a surge of supporters at Lahore airport who carried Mr Sharif on their shoulders."

Homeownership and renting in todays rollercoaster market

THe Washington Post reports that owning a home used to be cheaper than renting an apartment, but this has now changed. "Ten years ago, according to Moody's Economy.com, the average annual cost of owning a home -- including mortgages, taxes and maintenance costs -- was $10,231 nationally, compared with $13,090 for renting."

The Post later reports, " the average annual cost of owning a home was $17,707, compared with $15,721 for renting."

The Post said that this is due to several reasons, owners buying more house than they could afford, government organizations that aided homeowners loosing steam, and variable mortgages that are put under strain in our falling ecconomy. But, the Star Tribune has another reason why owning a home is getting more and more expensive.

In MN, the government created legislature in 2001 to help foster homeownership through cheaper taxes on homes. Now that the legislation is fading out, as it was intended to do before 2009, homeowners are paying more taxes on their homes as the values decrease in the bear market.

As reported by the Strib, "The city cited one home where the market value declined from $217,200 to $209,000, but the taxable value jumped from $189,300 to $209,000. "

It looks like the American Dream might become a penthouse appartment instead of the white picket fense. But, I think we'll still keep apple pie and baseball.

November 23, 2007

Holiday horror

Black Friday indeed.

My friend who works at Victoria Secret calls it "Pink Friday" because of how much revenue the store pulls in from its sales today. This means great sales for store owners, great deals for shoppers, and stress and anxiety for both.

Black Friday brought me out at 2:30 a.m. to stand in line at Best Buy for a ticket, redeemable for a rebate on a limited item set, a $100 camera and digital picture frame. But after standing outside for an hour in the cold, and going elsewhere to shop, I lost the ticket in the bustle and we were unable to claim the prize we got up so early for. I realize that this is nothing compared to some of the horror stories surrounding this two-faced Friday.

A security gaurd was fatally shot today in the robbery of a southeast Chicago Store. The owner of Get M Girlz Apparel has been robbed before, but he said he was just hoping for good numbers today, and what he got was a dead friend and ruined business. The robbers only stole clothes; they killed a man for clothes.

THe shoppers didn't have much more luck this morning. I was in line at Best Buy and everyone I tlaked to said that they didn't receive the ticket they wanted because the store wasn't handing out one to everyone in line. So, they got at 1 am for nothing. According to the Star Tribune, lines in some stores were an hour and a half from the back to the checkout counter. Another thing that the Startrib points out is that there are no new must-have items, no new video game counsels and that because of inflation people will be buying less.

THe Strib reported that Holiday sales rose 4.6 percent in 2006 and growth has averaged 4.8 percent over the last decade. And, Black Friday is only 10% of the sales for the season, only a tone-setting begining.

Either way, I was happy to be spending my day after Thanks Giving with my family in New Berlin, WI, and not working at the Mall of America for American Eagle. I visited an AE store in my hometown today and saw what havok the employees were trying to fix. Yikes...

Me, I'm just glad to take a nap, and eat some left-over turkey.

November 20, 2007

Horse Race in Iowa



November 19, 2007

CSI Nowhere...forensic biffs

The Washington Post and "60 Mintes" have uncovered a scandal wherein the FBI used inreliable evidence to prove that a bullet came from a certain gun. They said that by comparing the particles in a bullet they could determine, based on the kind of lead, whether it had been fired from a specific gun. After a study by the National Accademy of Sciences claimed this was incunclusive and unreliabe in court, the FBI stoped using this for prosecution in 2006. And now there are almost 2500 people behind bars how have had this type of analysis used as evidence against them.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/17/AR2007111701681.html

In another touchy forensic case, an ex-policeman is suspect for his ex-wife's murder and her body was exhumed and re-examined for free by a famous New York City medical examiner. He found that the body was placed in the tub where it was found, but the woman didn't die from an accident. However, this brings to light why a famous New York medical examiner would fly to Illinois and perform a free autopsy after hearing the descriptions of the case. One reason stands out: money.

The examiner, Micheal Braden, was paid by Fox News to fly to Chicago and do the examination. The New York Times further reports, Baden is a regular contributor to ''On The Record with Greta Van Susteren,'' Fox News spokeswoman Diana Rocco said. Fox News paid for his trip to Chicago in order for Baden to appear as a guest on the show that evening, she said."

It seems that forensic investigation is a very shady business, from the federal level, down to the private.

The North Side, and the Other Side

This article by my favorite writter, Jim Stingle must be read. Period.

On a similar note CQ Press just released a list that ranked over 300 U.S. cities based on their danger. According to the New York Times, "The report ''helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime,'' CQ Press said in a statement. ''The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand.''

Many government agaencies complained about this kind of report saying"

''These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region,'' the FBI said.

''You're not comparing apples and oranges; you're comparing watermelons and grapes,'' said Rob Casey, who heads the FBI section that puts out the Uniform Crime Report that provides the data for the Quitno report.

'What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the damage they inflict on a number of these cities,'' said Mayor Robert Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The NYTimes has gathered several other quotes, but this is my favorite. Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, said, "''The idea that people oppose it, it's kind of blaming the messenger. It's not coming to terms with the idea that crime is a persistent problem in our society.''

Jim Stingle wrote about an anonymous cd that a woman on the North Side of Milwaukee sent her. This part of Milwaukee is notorious for its gun violence, and the cd was a sound clip taken from a recording inside of a North Side window in the minutes leading up to, and during a gun fight that lead to a young black man's death.

Stingle proposes a question through this anonymous woman, when will something be done to stop the violence?

I hope this list motivates the most dangerous cities in America to turn around their image with progressive crime prevention reform. But, I doubt it will.

November 17, 2007

Hybrid buses for MN a little behind

The Metro Transit will release 19 hybrid buses into Minneapolis on Monday, and for one day they will all be free. As part of the "Go Greener" program Metro Transit will run one of these buses free every day, and it will appear on different lines, giving everybody a chance to catch a free ride, according to the Pioneer Press.

The Pioneer Press said that these new buses would cut 168 tons of emmisions every year, and fossil-fuel use by 1.6 million gallons a year. Well, they are a scotch behind NYC. The New York City Metro Transit Authority has 248 hybrid buses on the road, and a total of 548 buses in operation.

The Web site, run by Damiler Crysler, the producer of these buses, cites that their bus has, "a smaller (6 liter) diesel engine runs at controlled speed and is connected to generator to produce electrical power for drive motor & batteries. These buses produce "about 4 tons of NOxreduced per bus lifetime," and "about 235 tons of CO2."

New York has got a leg up on the Twin Cities, but as the green movement gathers steam, I prophesize that Metro Transit wil be letting out a bunch more of these environmentally friendly vehicles.

November 14, 2007

The Daily Dominates

I do feel a little proud of this.
OK, I feel really proud of this.

The Daily is going to run an article tomorrow discussing why Forbes has named Minneapolis "the most affordable place to live well". I read that the story will air in tomorrows addition of the Daily, so there isn't much to talk about yet. So, I decided to go to the source.

Forbes.com had this statement written on its most affordable places to live website,

"First among them: Minneapolis. It nabbed the top spot on our list of Most Affordable Places To Live Well. There, homes are relatively affordable, residents enjoy a high quality of life and access to choice arts, leisure and entertainment offerings."

This list is composed of the 50 largest metros in the United States, ranking them by housing affordability, the cost of commodities, and how expensive local entertainment is. Forbes ranks Minneapolis as the metro with the biggest bang for your buck.

Forbes said that Minneapolis was just under the median in cost of living, 3 in quality of living, and 9 in the arts.

Congratulations Minneapolis, and congrats MN Daily.

A very happy resident

November 13, 2007

Natural Disaster leads to Oil Spill

I Love the Times

Good reporting and great reporting can be separated based on how in depth of a story they tell. The Times has covered the Russian oil spill in a great, in-depth way by siting facts, and quoting legitimate sources.

Already in the lead, the reporter from the New York Times states that at least 11 ships sank or broke and tens of thousands of birds were covered with oil. The Post leads with the obvious fact that Russia's shore is covered with oil after a spill. In the next graphs, the Times and the Post both noted that three saliors had died, but the Times reported that 20 others were missing, and that rescuers believed them to be dead because of hypothermia.

The Post had this quote, "The damage is so huge it can hardly be evaluated. It can be compared to an ecological catastrophe," Interfax news agency quoted Alexander Tkachyov, governor of Russia's Black Sea region of Krasnodar, as saying."

The Times had these facts paraphrased, and had this quote from a survivor, "“The waves were too high, so we could not lift the anchor,? one rescued sailor said glumly in an interview on RTR television from a hospital bed in Taman, in southern Russia. “Everything happened instantly. We listed, and then we sank.?

The extensive reporting that this writer has done is incredible. I hope that I can learn to pursue a story that far when I am on deadline.


November 12, 2007

Diversity Blog

In class we talked about diversity mainly as being an ethnicity. I feel that this is really shortsided. Not that it is wrong, because I believe that this is how most people define diversity: a minority in a group. But, this vision takes so much away from diversity. Diversity, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is, "a range of different things," not just ethnicity. I believe that diversity is about deviation from a society's norms, and I think that these two articles describe two different kinds of diversity, sexual and religious, which are generally ignored by the public.

The Chicago Tribune produced an advance for a movie entitled "Quearborn & Perversion: An Early History of Lesbian and Gay Chicago." This piece really is a blend of so many styles though, and in a way parallels the ambiguity of being gay in a microcosm of culture that accepts that status, but not feeling safe outside of the few gay neighborhoods of Chicago. This piece describes how the author wanted to use his film as his thesis for film school, but it was too dense of a topic, and too large of a mission to be taken on in just a few years. Film, ten years in the making, is much like the slow revealing of Chicago's gay population, 50 years in the making.

Another amazing piece, one which touches delicately on so many issues, is the New York Times piece on Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney's stance toward his religious beliefs. Romney is a Mormon, and proud to be. But, many people in the religious right aren't too keen on Mormonism. The Times reported that a Pew Research Center poll discovered that a quarter of Republicans said they were less likely to vote for a candidate if they are Mormon. The Times treads lightly over this subject, reported that Miriam Case, a voter and press conference attendee from New Hampshire said that she finds it unfair that Romney's religious beliefs even come into play in a presidential race.

I think this piece touches on an underlying bigotry towards Mormons. In many Prime time, magazine-esque TV shows, Mormons are shown as some sort of cult, or sect, whose practices are unworldly and bizarre. But, really, isn't eating someone's body and drinking someone's blood a little bizarre?

Also, this article touches on how much religion actually plays a role in our presidential elections, and ties church and state like two people in a three legged race. Separate, but bound together.

Human Error, Cited...but not communicated

If I were sailing a boat, I would try to avoid bridges. But, I would also try to gather a crew that spoke in my native language, or at least one I could understand.

The story of the Cosco Busan, is one of miscommunication. The New York Times reported, "Cmdr. Andrew Wood said “the mere fact that they collided with a fixed object? offered clear evidence that a communication problem had occurred."

Yup, the boat hit the bridge.

But how could this be? And how could the New York Times miss the elephant standing in the room?
The Captain Cosco Busan, is English-speaking. His crew is not. Yet the Washington Post reported, "A language barrier between the vessel's pilot, Capt. John Cota, and the ship's all-Chinese crew was not likely a factor in the crash, since the ship's captain and officers are required to speak English, officials said." Just by including this in the story leads me to believe that the Washington Post and I are on the same level. The communication broke down because a Captain couldn't speak to his crew.

November 10, 2007

May the Floyd be with you



It hurts me to even write about this...

Two Local Boys Try to bring the Twin Cities to the Nation

The Coen brothers are not known for their peaceful, Minnesota-nice movies. They produce graphic, explicitly violent, yet articulate films. But, their newest film is going to be filmed back home, in St. Louis Park, where they will try to capture the 70s Twin Cities vibe.

The Star Tribune reported about another time when the COen brothers paid homage to their Twin Cities routes, by placing a St. Louis Park drug store in their film, "No Country for Old Men". The Startrib reported that the Coen bros would hang out at Mike Zoss Drugs, a local pharmacy, freqently as children while their mother was grocery shopping. They were so struck by the friendliness of the owner, Mike Zoss, that they asked his son, who now owns his own Mike Zoss Drugs, to include a shot of the store in their film.

THe Coen brothers are going further into their roots with their upcoming movie, "A Serious Man". The Pioneer Press reported that unlike the other Coen films, which were filmed in the cheapest location no matter what the implied environment was, "A Serious Man" would be filmed entirely in the Twin Cities. Though more expensive a proposition, the brothers think that it is worth it to be true to their home, and capture the area's spirit through footage that not only represents it, but actually is the Twin Cities.

November 9, 2007

Bush's Veto Overrided

This is a very interesting parallel between these two awesome news sources. It is examples like this that allow me to think that origonal work can be completed by two different journalists with the same information, and both can be right.

The New York Times took Bush's over-ridded veto as a sign of the rising power of the Democrats in congress, and how from here until he leaves office, President George Bush will have difficulty overcoming Democrat bills on the homefront, and this could be devistating for the Republican Party. The bill heard round the world was a provision to provide funding for water projects around the country, including projects in areas Hurricane Katrina devastated.

The Washington Post took this a completely different direction. The Post analyzed the breakdown of the Republican Party, and the small number of people actually behind their commander in chief. The Post points to the newly passed Domestic Spending Bill, and how it is only three votes away from being veto-proof, meaning that if it were to come back after Bush negates it, it would almost surely be passed in the House and Senate.

The Post also mentioned that Republican leaders said that they will rally support and keep most people behind the president in his domestic policies, but they admitted that many may break from the white house. When the party admits this, you know it is losing support.

A President Calls for an Election

An election is established in a violent way in a move that seems to have the whole world guessing. The Washington Post reported that Gerogia's president Mikheil Saakashvili has declared somewhat of a martial law, but at the same time moved the presidential elections up a year from when they would originally be held.

The New York Times was a little more clear as to why Saakashvili would do this. The NYTimes reported that because of the several peaceful riots, dispersed by riot police with tear gas, Saakashvili had suffered a terrible public relations disaster. He is trying to reconcile this, by declaring a national state of emergency and outlawing outside news sources, such as the BBC.

I am by no means an expert with this kind of politics, but the only time I witnessed something of this nature was in Venezuela, when the government was trying to consolidate more power into the president.

The Washington Post reported that NATO and the United Nations did not support Saakashvili's actions, and personally I don't feel that they will lead anywhere near the peaceful, free elections that he is describing for Jan 5.

November 4, 2007

Using Numbers, Not Confusing Numbers

In the last enry I made about the space walk on the Internaltional Space Station, one article utilized numbers to tell a vivid and captivating story. The other didn't. I wonder why?

The Washington Post, an excellent paper, but one I usually find more dry, used the numbers to tell the facts. The New York Times didn't, but relied instead on quirky facts about he astronaut/doctor's past. I don't know why the writter strayed away from the facts, but I think that the Rob Stein of the Washington Post should be commended for how he used the numbers to tell his story.

Stein starts right off using numbers in his lead by describing the space-walk as seven hours long. And throughout his story, Stein provides interesting descriptive numbers in terms that people can understand. He doesn't just say that the station was in orbit when the walk started, he explains that the ship was 213 miles above the U.S. East coast. He doesn't just mention the robitic arm like the New York Times, he describes how, "...Parazynski anchored his feet to the end of a 50-foot boom from the space shuttle; the boom was grasped in the middle by the station's 58-foot robotic arm. The arm carried him on a slow-motion, 45-minute trip half a football field away to just barely reach the damaged panel.

I love both of the articles, but not until we had this lab and I read the required readings did I really appreciate how numbers can be so hard to use, but so aptly applied to news writing.



do the space walk

A group of astronauts on the International Space Station fixed a damaged wing yesterday. The repairman, astronaut Scott E. Parazynski took a 45 minutes to glide to the damaged portion of the wing and was held in place the the large robotic arm of the ISS, according to the Washington Post.

The New York Times reported that Parazynski was an emergency room physician and was using his skills to fix up wires that had limited the movement of the station's solar panel wing, a part essential to the energy absorption of the craft.

After over seven hours of colaboration between Parazynski and Pamela A. Melroy, the commander of the space shuttle Discovery’s current mission, the wing was repaired by fastening several metal cuflinks to patch up the damaged wires and maintain the structre of the craft.

"Just Like Basketball!"

Those fans of high school sports teams who unmercifully remember what sports their team has beat a rival in will revive them to add pain and suffering to the embarrassment of a loss. Well, for Ohio State, their win over UW Madison was just like basketball.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW strong safety Aubrey Pleasant said. "It doesn't matter if you're up. It matters who is up at the end of four quarters." http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=682151

Ohio State is currently ranked first in the nation, a ranking they also held when they defeated the UW Badgers in the later rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament this year.

According to the New York Times, Ohio's win at home beat UW's winning streak there since 1999. It is also one of the stepping stones Ohio will take before facing Michigan on Nov 17 in a game that will determine the big ten champion and possibly the best team in the NCAA.

November 3, 2007

Martial Law or Emergency?

Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf declared an emergency rule yesterday, suspended the country's constitution and fired the chief justice. According to the Washington Post, Musharaf did this because of feared for Islamic extremism, the supreme court was against the rest of the government, and he wanted to extend his rule as president and army chief for another term, an issue that the supreme court was debating on. According to the Post, "The government deployed hundreds of army rangers on the streets of Islamabad, arrested some opposition figures and blacked out privately owned television stations across the country."

The New York Times said, "The police blocked journalists from entering the area, disconnected telephone lines and jammed cellphones in the area." This doesn't sound like an emergency, it sounds more like a totalitarian regime to me. Benazir Bhutto agrees with me and said, "This is not an emergency, this is martial law.

a rising star and a fallen star

The marathon is mysterious, and so are the choices reporters make in reporting on the tragedy and the accomplishment of the sport.

Two very newsworthy events occurred at this year's US Olympic Trials.First, a hero emerged as possibly the most outstanding American runner of our time, and another hero died on the race course.

Ryan Shay, 28 was diagnosed with a large heart when he was fourteen, according to the AP. This is a condition which my friend was told would negatively influence his performance. But, endurance athletes like swimmers and runners actually benefit from larger hearts which increase their capacity to perform at higher intensities for longer periods of time. It isn't metaphorical, runners just have the biggest hearts.

Shay's friend and training partner, Ryan Hall ran past him early in the race, and according to the New York Times, saw him one last time as his ambulance passed him in its way to the hospital. Hall, who was trying out for the olympics for his first time, is already the American record holder in the half marathon and the Marathon. In fact, he won the Olympic try-outs in a time faster than the professionals at the New York Marathon ran the following day.

Hall says he is dedicating his Olympic race to Shay.