April 2010 Archives

Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

An article about the ineffectiveness of carbon-offsets used computer-assisted reporting.

The reporter used numbers that discussed expenses, prices, and other numbers.

The reporter likely had to know basic search skills and the ability to find online documents and read them for the proper information.

While much of this information could likely have been found without a computer, the use of one is like to have made it significantly easier for the reporter to find the proper information.

Kelliher gets DFL endorsement

Margaret Anderson Kelliher snatched the endorsement from the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party Saturday in Duluth, Minn.

Kelliher, the current House Speaker, is the first woman to receive an endorsement from a major party in Minnesota, FOX 21 News said.

Kelliher had to woo delegates for endorsements, going against popular and well-known people such as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, the Star Tribune said.

Kelliher still has a long road ahead as she must face off against other Democratic challenges such as the powerful former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, the Star Tribune said.

Alleged burglar kills one, injures another

One woman was killed and her husband injured in a St. Paul shooting early Sunday.

A burglar allegedly entered the house at the 1700 block of West Minnehaha Avenue and shot the two around 6:30 a.m., WCCO said.

The woman, Heidi Firkus, was dead at the scene, while her husband, Nicholas Firkus, was taken to Regions Hospital, the Star Tribune said.

Police investigating believe the incident was a stranger-on-stranger crime, though at this time, little evidence points to a burglary or sign of struggle, though they continue to investigate, the Star Tribune said.

Six dead in Cambridge car crash

Six people were killed in a head-on car crash near Cambridge early Sunday.

A 16-year-old girl, identified by a relative as Sabrina Schumacher, who received her license this month, was driving a car that collided head-on with an SUV, killing all four passengers in Schumacher's car and two inside the SUV, the Star Tribune said.

The accident, which occurred at around 2:40 a.m., was hours past midnight - the latest a minor can be driving, WCCO said.

The SUV burst into flames following the crash, severely burning two of the occupants, WCCO said.

Schumacher could face criminal charges for the accident, said the Star Tribune.

Financial reform inches forward

Lawmakers in Washington came closer to compromise on a new bill that would more tightly regulate the financial industry Sunday after extensive talks.

The talks come shortly before a Monday procedure vote to see if the bill can move forward, the New York Times said.

Several sticking points still exist including a future fund for bailouts and how creditors are treated when a company faces restructuring, Politico said.

Even with debating, a bipartisan bill is expected, thanks to broad public disapproval of the financial industry, said the New York Times.

"We don't have a bipartisan compromise yet, but I think there's a good chance we're going to get it," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

IMF proposes new bank taxes

The International Monetary Fund has proposed a series of new taxes on financial institutions to help pay for future bailouts.

Under the proposal, all banks would pay a tax, called a "financial stability contribution", as well as further taxes on profits and compensation, BBC News said.

The move is seen as being drastically more radical than expected from the IMF, which typically supports the free flow of markets, the New York Times said.

The proposals are likely be explosive political issues, especially in the United States and United Kingdom, BBC News said.

Obama and Republicans fight over financial reform

President Obama and top Republicans sparred over financial reform that is expected to crack down excesses of Wall Street.

Obama used a weekly address to press for reform and calling Republicans "cynical and deceptive", the New York Times said.

The proposed bill pushes changes to avoid a meltdown similar to one in 2008 and the creation of a consumer protection agency, said the New York Times.

"If there is one lesson that we've learned it's that an unfettered market where people are taking huge risks and expecting taxpayers to bail out when things go sour is simply not acceptable," Obama said.

Both sides said they believed common ground could be reached, but no signs have been shown of either side giving ground, Reuters said.

NOTE: This is one of the three articles that could not be posted yesterday.

North Dakota ELCA synod votes down resolution against gays

The Eastern North Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted against a resolution that expressed a disagreement with the national church's stance on sexuality.

In a vote of 249-179, the resolution was voted down, said the Pioneer Press.

The ELCA's national stance has been criticized as betraying scripture since the assembly voted to make homosexuality more acceptable in the eyes of the church, the Fargo Forum said.

Even if the vote passed, it would not have made any actual changes, the Fargo Forum said. It would only express a desire to see change.

NOTE: This is one of the three post that could not be submitted yesterday.

Shoreview woman charged with having girlfriend beaten

A Shoreview woman has been charged with paying to have her girlfriend beaten in Wisconsin.

Dianna M. Siveny, 50, was charged Friday with solicitation of substantial battery, said the Pioneer Press.

Siveny's girlfriend, Lara Plamann, was found dead in 2007, but nobody has been charged with her murder, the Green Bay Press Gazette said.

Siveny was arrested after interviews in 2008 with a man who said Siveny paid him $300 and told him to beat her with a bat and "rearrange her face", though he says he did not follow through, said the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Siveny is currently being held in Ramsey County pending extradition to Wisconsin, the Pioneer Press said.

NOTE: This is one of the three posts that could not be submitted yesterday.

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans failed to fill out Census

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have failed to fill out and return their Census form as of the Friday due date.

The mail-in participation rate stood at 68 percent, though more forms are expected to arrive throughout the weekend, and official participations results won't be available until May, the New York Times said.

The results appear to be close to the participation rates of the 2000 Census, despite a major ad campaign by the Census Bureau, reported USA Today.

Wisconsin had the highest participation rate at 78 percent, following closely by Minnesota at 76 percent, and Iowa with 75 percent, said the New York Times.

Volcano erupts in Iceland

A volcano in Iceland has erupted Wednesday, requiring evacuations, airport closures, and health alerts.

The volcano, called Eyjafjallajokull, began showing activity in March and has since erupted, causing multiple evacuations of small towns nearby, BBC News said.

The ash spewing from the volcano has also caused closures of airports in much of Europe including the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and others, said BBC News.

Flash floods were expected in the region due to the fact that the volcano sits beneath Iceland's fifth largest glacier, The Guardian said.

This is the first major explosion of the volcano since 1821, said The Guardian. It has only erupted five times since Iceland was first settled.

Analysis: Diversity

An article in the Examiner talks about African Americans hosting a 5K walk.

The news article does not cast stereotypes on the African American community, said Martin Walker, himself an African American adult.

The article uses some data to back up claims as well as some African American history.

Overall, the article does not make sweeping behavior or social accusations at the African American community.

Justice John Paul Stevens to retire

Justice John Paul Stevens announced Friday that he will retire this summer.

Stevens, a leader of the Supreme Court's liberal bloc, will be President Obama's second Supreme Court appointment, BBC News said.

Steven will be 90 years old on April 20, which makes him the oldest member of the Supreme Court, said the Washington Post.

He was originally appointed by President Gerald Ford, a Republican president, in 1975. However he frequently supported issues considered more liberal including abortion, civil rights, and the relationship between the church and state, said BBC News.

The appointment of a new judge is unlikely to change the ideological balance of the court, the Washington Post said.

Woman survives train collision

A woman whose car was rear-ended by a train near Wadena, Minn., survived the incident with no major injuries Saturday.

The Otter Tail County's sheriff's office said the 28-year-old woman was struck from behind by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train while she was driving alone at 4:30 a.m., the Associated Press said.

The train crew said they saw the car and applied their brakes, but a collision was unavoidable, said the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

The car was severely damaged, making firefighters ply the woman out. She was taken to the hospital, but released following an evaluation, said the Associated Press.

Web site for Eden Prairie High School faces hacker attack

Eden Prairie High School shut down its Web site following a hacker attack Sunday.

The attack included putting a video on the website, as well as a picture of a Turkish flag and a handgun, the Star Tribune said.

The attack was not solely focused on the high school, affecting over 100 websites worldwide, said WCCO.

No private information was stolen from the site or other school databases, WCCO said.

The Web site will remain shut down until the problem has been resolved, said the Star Tribune.

Coal mine explosion kills 25

A coal mine in West Virginia exploded, killing at least 25.

The explosion, which occurred due to improperly vented methane gas, was the deadliest underground disaster in 25 years, the Associated Press said.

The company that owns the mine is reported to have an abysmal safety record, having several evacuations in the mine for dangerous levels of methane, which indicates that the explosion may have been preventable, the New York Times said.

A search continues for four miners who may still be alive in the mine, the Associated Press said. Airtight chambers are scattered throughout the mine that provide food, water, and oxygen for four days, where the miners might have taken refuge.

While chances for their survival are slim, Gov. Joe Manchin held out hope. "I don't want to give anybody any false hope, but by golly, if I'm on that side of the table, and that's my father or my brother or my uncle or my cousins, I'm going to have hope."

American man sentenced to eight years labor in North Korea

An American man has been sentenced to eight years hard labor in North Korea after crossing the border illegally.

Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 30-year-old from Boston, crossed the border between North Korea and China on January 25, the BBC News said.

Gomes admitted to committing the crime and, in addition to his sentence, received a 70 million won ($700,000) fine, the Associated Press said.

Gomes is the fourth American to be detained in about a year, said the Associated Press.

It is unclear why he entered North Korea, said BBC News.

Although he faces a long sentence, he is unlikely to serve most of it, Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University said. "The North is not going to hold him for eight years."

Analysis: Numbers in story about Twins stadium

An article in the Star Tribune about the Twins' new stadium, Target Field, used several numbers to help describe the story.

The reporter used several different ways to express numbers. Discussing the growth of the area around Target Field, they talked about the average number of steps around the field, estimates of the number of visitors expected, and expected percent change in growth.

The numbers aren't overwhelming as they are sprinkled throughout the story and used in a tasteful manner that doesn't leave a reader feeling like they're simply swallowing figures.

Figures aren't always accompanied by sources, though some of the more official ones use statistics that are laid out in the story.

Battle over the $50 bill

Republican politicians are split over whether or not to put a new face on the $50 bill, replacing Ulysses S. Grant with Ronald Reagan.

Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina has drawn up a bill with 17 other co-sponsors that swaps out the post-Civil War-era president with a more modern, conservative president, the New York Times said.

The bill has split Republicans, with especially strong disapproval from Ohio politicians, which is the home state of Grant, and fans of Grant, said the New York Times.

"There wouldn't be a United States without Ulysses S. Grant, you could argue, because of the Civil War and the tremendous military leader he was even before he became president," John Marszalek, executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association at Mississippi State University told ABC News.

Despite the criticism, Rep. McHenry remains firm in his conviction. "Every generation needs its own heroes," he said in a statement. "One decade into the 21st century, it's time to honor the last great president of the 20th..."

Police kill two pit bulls

Police in St. Paul killed two pit bulls on the 200 block of Stinson Boulevard after they attacked two people.

The police were responding to a call and were forced to kill the two dogs that were reported to be running around the neighborhood free, KARE11 said.

Both of the victims were taken to Regions Hospital. One suffered multiple bite wounds to the foot and the other has a less severe bite to the leg, the Star Tribune said.

A large number of people were reported to be outside, and fearing for people's safety when the animals continued to be aggressive, officers were forced to put the animals down, said the Star Tribune.

Central Corridor negotiations become heated

Negotiations between the Metropolitan Council and the University of Minnesota have become more heated than ever, with the Met Council's chairman saying the university has cost taxpayers at least $1 million.

The latest negotiations about the 11-mile light rail line that will pass through the University of Minnesota collapsed and have made a judge force mediations between the two, the Pioneer Press said.

The Met Council wants a temporary easement from the university to do construction on roads that will be near the light rail line on Washington Avenue to help ease traffic when rail construction begins on the East Bank campus, the Star Tribune said.

The university has said it will not agree to easements until guarantees on remedies for noise impact on nearby research equipment is set in stone, said the Star Tribune.

The roadwork was contracted for $3 million, but unless it is executed before April 27, the contract is voided and may cost taxpayers up to $1 million more, plus an addition $40 million due to delays, the Star Tribune said.

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak expressed frustration at the university, the Pioneer Press said.

"Like virtually every other partner involved in the Central Corridor, I am fed up with the U. We are not siting a nuclear reactor here," he said.

Abortion doctor murderer sentenced

An anti-abortion activist and murderer of late-term abortion provider George Tiller has been sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.

Scott Roeder, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated assault after shooting Tiller in the face during church services last May, Reuters said.

The judge said Roeder will not be eligible for parole for at least 50 years, reported Reuters.

Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Kan., was one of only three clinics in the United States that offered abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy, commonly known as late-term abortions, BBC News said.

BBC News reports that Roeder said he expressed no regret for the murder of Tiller. "Wichita is a far safer place for unborn babies without George Tiller."

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