This news blog is an educational exercise involving students at the University of Minnesota. It is not intended to be a source of news.

February 2013 Archives

A St. Paul woman who was found dead last week in a car that was taken to an impound lot in Columbia Heights was murdered, police said Wednesday.

Brittany Clardy's death has been confirmed as murder, according to police. Details about her death have not been released, and police are not taking questions, according to a news release from Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the sheriff's office, according to the Star Tribune.

Clardy, 18, was found in the passenger compartment of her mom's car last week after the car had been towed to an impound lot. She had been reported missing by family over two weeks ago. Her body was found Feb 21, and was identified by family and friends, according to the Star Tribune.

Friend Taqoyia Wells described Clardy as a woman with "a very beautiful smile, one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen. And she will truly be missed," reported Kare11.

33 fans injured in 12 car crash at Daytona 500

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33 fans were injured in Sunday's Daytona 500 race when a race car flew into the fence.

Kyle Larson's car became airborne, crashing into a fence during the last lap of the race. Debris hurtled into the stands, including at least one tire, injuring 33 people. No one died, according to Kare11.

The front of Larson's car was completely gone from the impact, and the engine landed in a hole in the safety fencing around the track. None of the 12 drivers involved in the crash were injured, however 14 fans were taken to various hospitals, and 14 more were treated onsite, according to the New York Times.

16-year-old girl found dead in Maplewood

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A 16-year-old girl was found dead Saturday near a park in Maplewood, according to police.

Anna Hurd of North St. Paul was found by police after they received a call saying someone needed medical attention. Police discovered her lying near McKnight Road and Ripley Avenue in Maplewood, and they have gathered enough evidence to assume homicide, according to Kare11.

An autopsy revealed Hurd died of stabbing-like puncture wounds, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office. Police are still investigating and gathering evidence, however a man previously reported as being in the area at the time of her death is no longer being sought, according to WCCO.

Woman charged with kidnapping 8-month-old

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A Minneapolis woman was charged Friday for kidnapping a friend's 8-month-old boy, according to Kare11.

30-year-old Isabel Diaz Castillo was charged with kidnapping 8-month-old Carlos from his mother's apartment last Wednesday. Carlos's mother, Victoria Orozco, had met Castillo at a laundrymat, and Castillo took what Orozco called an "extreme interest" in Carlos, according to Kare11.

Orozco had been taking a shower when Castillo kidnapped Carlos from the livingroom. Police put out at Amber Alert, and found Castillo holding Carlos in the basement of her brother's house in south Minneapolis, according to CBS.

Castillo is facing up to 40 years in prison, according to Kare11, or only a 4 year prison sentence, according to the Star Tribune.

Analysis: Follow stories

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I'm going to compare two stories from the AP, a first day story and a follow story.

Story one:

Story two:

Story one's lead: British tourist Michael Baugh and his wife said water had only dribbled out of the taps at the downtown Cecil Hotel for days.

Story two's lead: More testing must be done to determine the cause of death of a 21-year-old Canadian tourist whose body was found wedged in a water tank atop a downtown Los Angeles hotel, authorities said Thursday.

Story one begins sounding like a feature story or narrative. The focus is not initially on the woman who was found, even though she is the news. It is effective, however, at grabbing the readers' attention. Story two has a more traditional lead. It packs a lot of information in, including the newest news (more testing must be done) and context (body was found wedged...)

The first story waits to tell the news until the third paragraph. It builds up interest and curiosity, then breaks the shocking news. It then loops back around, picking up where the intro left off.

The follow story gives many of the same details as the first. It elaborates on the woman's autopsy results, as well as follows up with the results of the water tests that were mentioned in the first article. There is also an interview with a friend of the woman's.

Pistorius granted bail

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Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was granted a $112,400 bail Friday in a South African courtroom.

Pistorius is accused of premeditated murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The court agrees he killed her, but the defense is arguing he thought she was an intruder, according to CNN.

Pistorius must hand in his passports and any other guns he owns. He cannot leave the district of Pretoria without the permission of his probation officer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Magistrate Desmond Nair concluded that the defense had not proven that the state's case was weak. He said the recently removed chief investigating officer's testimony was "tarnished", according to the Wall Street Journal.

Four former peanut butter company employees are facing felony charges from the government after the 2009 salmonella outbreak that killed nine people, government officials said Thursday.

Former owner of Peanut Corp. of America Stewart Parnell and three other employees have been alleged by the Justice Department for scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts. The employees were allegedly involved with a multiyear coverup of the company's tainted peanuts, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In 2009, nine people died from salmonella. Hundreds more became ill, causing what WCCO says was one of the largest food recalls in history.

Prosecutors say the company kept quiet when independent lab tests of peanut products revealed evidence of salmonella. Fabricated lab results claimed the products were salmonella free, according to the Wall Street Journal.

5-year-old girl receives new heart

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A 5-year-old girl finally received a new heart last Wednesday after waiting 2.5 years.

Katy Murphy from Wakefield underwent surgery Wednesday to get a new heart after being on the A1 waitlist for half of her life, according to the WakefieldPatch.

Katy was born with a heart defect. Her doctor Kevin Daly of Children's Hospital said it was the longest wait for a transplant patient he can remember. One reason for the wait was the need for a donated heart that was small enough for Katy, according to the WakefieldPatch and CBC Boston.

Katy's surgery went well. Daly said she should be back to normal kids stuff soon. "She can go to school, she can play sports and she will grow," he said, according to CBC Boston.

Analysis: Progression of Information

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The story I will analyze is by the AP and published by the New York Times: Florida prisoner who fled is killed

The reporter has summarized the important elements by putting like-information into fact blocks.

The lead contains a lot of information. It summarizes the story's "who, what, when, where, story background (..stabbing detective...) and some detail (..officers responded to a report..).

Paragraph 2 details the circumstances of the shooting itself which is the news. Paragraphs 3 and 4 are also detail, but involve more background information. The last paragraph circles back around to how and when the prisoner escaped in the first place.

The story is, I suppose, written in a traditional inverted pyramid style, but I felt it didn't read as easily as it could have. There are a few things that are ineffective. I found the lead confusing. I think the info about how he escaped should be saved for a later paragraph (the news is that he was shot). For some reason the story waits until the last paragraph to explain some questions raised in the lead (such as how on earth he stabbed the detective with glasses). It would help to move the last paragraph up to the paragraph 3 spot.

A 39-year-old man was charged Friday after stealing a snowplow and breaking into a home while on meth.

Timothy Dean Gross is facing 5 counts after he stole a truck with an attached snowplow, sideswiping a driver on 35E North, and then abandoning the truck in a ditch. Gross then broke the window of a home in Lino Lakes and entered, according to Kare11.

The woman in the house reportedly yelled at him to get out. Gross responded saying "It's a chase," before leaving the house. Police caught up with him on foot. Gross allegedly admitted to consuming large quantities of meth, according to WCCO.

Gross had been working as a snowplow driver early Monday. Police say he took the truck without permission around 5:00 a.m., according to WCCO.

An aggressive fire burned through the top two floors of the Pratt Institute's main building in Brooklyn early Friday, according to the New York Times.

It took 39 firetrucks to put out a four-alarm fire at the art and design school Pratt Institute. The fire began around 1:30 a.m., completely destroying the sixth floor which had 42 senior art studios. The number of pieces of art lost is currently not known. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, according to the New York Times.

According to officials, the source of the fire is under investigation because of how quickly the fire spread and because there are rarely people inside the building after 9:00 p.m., according to the nyDailyNews.

South Korea reveals new precision-guided weapon

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South Korea displayed their military and technological power Thursday, two days after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, according to The Sun.

South Korea staged military drills, and its defense ministry revealed a new weapon, which was demonstrated for reporters via a video presentation. Spokesman Kim Min-Seok said the new weapon could strike any target in North Korea.

"The curise missile unveiled to day is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the office window of the North's command headquarters," Kim Min-Seok said, according to The Sun.

South Korea's announcement and demonstrations came after North Korea's third and most recent nuclear weapons test Tuesday. North Korea has been increasingly vocal about its plans to have intercontinental ballistic weapons, according to the New York Times.

$2 million bail set for man involved in Oakdale shooting

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A $2 million bail was set Wednesday morning for the Oakdale man charged with killing a 9-year-old boy, police said.

Nhan Tran, 34, was officially charged with murder and assault Wednesday at the Washington County Court. A request for a mental health exam was approved by the prosecution, and the bail was set at $2 million, according to Kare11

Tran is charged with 6 counts after randomly shooting vehicles Monday night. He hit fourth grader Devyn Aryal in the head, who died from from the wound. Devyn's mother and another woman in a separate vehicle were also hit, but both survived, according to MyFox9.

This was supposed to publish Wednesday. I wonder if the blog site has a bug.

Analysis: Attribution

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The story I will look at is by the Associated Press.

The story is short, and there are only two sources listed. The first is a police spokeswoman, who is clearly named in the story, Melissa Stratton. The second is simply "the police."

The sources are scattered throughout the story, and it is made clear that the majority of the information is directly from them-- other than the third paragraph which states some information that makes the assumption that we have heard about the story before-- it's referencing past stories.

The information is from people. The reporter sets up the attribution by first introducing the source as "a police spokeswoman," and then in the second paragraph stating her name. The second source is simply "the police," and doesn't have any more of a lead-in or introduction. It is effective, because the story is short and doesn't need a ton of different sources to make its point. I think even having 3 sources would have started to muddle it.

A Minneapolis police officer is facing charges of first degree sexual assault, authorities said Thursday.

Bradley James Schnickel, 32, is facing charges of sexually assaulting girls who he met over the internet, the Saint Cloud Times reported.

Investigations began about 3 weeks ago, after police were notified about Schnickel sending an inappropriate message to a Brooklyn Center girl. Since then, the investigation has revealed Schnickel has contacted many girls-- an exact number has not been released, according to the Saint Cloud Times.

Schnickel is being held at the Anoka County Jail. He has refused to speak to investigators, according to Kare11.

Hennepin will transform into "cultural corridor"

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A plan to turn Hennepin Ave. into a "cultural corridor" was approved Saturday by the Minneapolis City Council.

Over the next 3-10 years, the plan is to add more courtyards, event spaces, and green spaces to Hennepin Ave. New restaurants and stores will make Hennepin their home, according to Kare11.

Changes to the area have already taken place. Art galleries are moving into empty store-fronts, and local artists are painting utility boxes, according to Kare11.

The project is being funded by a $200k award from the National Endowment for the Arts as a part of the NEA's Our Town project, according to MPR.

Witness's prosthetic eye fell out during testimony

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A witness testifying in a Philadelphia court literally cried his eye out Wednesday.

John Huttick's prosthetic eye popped out of his eye when he started crying during his testimony in court. "I couldn't believe it just came out," he said after the incident, according to a report by UPI.

Huttick had been giving an account of the consequences of losing an eye. He had been involved in a bar fight August 2011 with Mathew Brunelli, 23, who stabbed him in the eye. The eye had to be surgically removed and replaced by a prosthetic, according to CNN.

Brunelli's defense attorney, Eileen J. Hurley, requested a mistrial. She said the incident could cause the jury to feel extra sympathy for Huttick. The judge granted the resquest, and the case will be retried March 4, according to CNN.

The French branch of the Swedish frozen-food company Findus said Saturday they will sue an unidentified Romanian beef producer after horsemeat was found in beef products.

According to a report by CNN, "Findus said it had been told that its products were being made with French beef, not Romanian horsemeat."

The British branch of Findus has conducted its own tests on its beef-products, which may have shown that the horsemeat found in a beef lasagna was intentional, according to CNN

The British lasagna product contained at least 60 percent horsemeat. While horsemeat is generally not a health risk, the mislabeling of food products has caused great disgust, and new food testing standards will be put in place, according to the Huffington Post.

Asteroid to come about 17,100 feet from Earth

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Scientists say a 150 foot asteroid will make an appearance unusually near to Earth this Friday.

The asteroid, named 2012 DA14, will come approximately 17, 100 miles from Earth's surface. This is the closest an asteroid of this size has come to Earth, according to the AP.

Scientists say there is no concern that the asteroid may hit earth.

"This object's orbit is so well known that there's no chance of a collision," said Donald Yeomans, the manager at NASA's Near-Earth Object program, in a news conference Thursday, reported the AP.

The asteroid will be most visible around 19:26 UST on the 15th. While scientists will want to travel to Indonesia for the best view, casual observers can just use binoculars or a telescope to try and get a glimpse of 2012 DA14, according to the Daily Mail.

Two people are dead after their car went through the ice on Lake Minnetonka Saturday.

Harland Dietrich, 31, and his grandma, Mary Ann Haram, 87, were unconscious when dive teams pulled them from the water. They were pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center, reported the Pioneer Press.

Police and first responders arrived within 5 or 6 minutes of receiving a phone call from Dietrich at 2:24 p.m. The car, a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix, was submerged in a 10-foot-deep channel on the east side of Lake Minnetonka. Dietrich and Haram were rescued by divers after being underwater for roughly an hour, according to the Star Tribune.

The lead for the AP's article "Schoolgirl Shot by the Taliban is Progressing" is
"A Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban is in stable condition after undergoing two successful operations to reconstruct her skull and restore her hearing, the British hospital treating her said Sunday."

The lead for this hard-news article provides the essential "who, what, when, and where" facts. It efficiently summarizes the story, while still leaving plenty of room for elaboration and detail in the following paragraphs.

The article is a follow-up story, and the phrase "a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head..." is probably very familiar to regular newsreaders. Readers may not, however, know her well enough to recognize and associate her name with the story, so it was wise of the author to leave her name out of the lead.

The lead does a nice job of both generalizing the success of the surgery, and giving detail ("reconstruct her skull and restore her hearing"). The detail doesn't weigh down the lead or make it wordy.
Finally, the lead cleanly incorporates the "where" and "when" information. Specifying that the hospital is British tells the reader both where she is recovering and who provided the information.

The lead reflects the timeliness (the story was issued today), prominence (she has become a well-known figure in the news, particularly because of her role in advocating for Pakistani girls' education), and interest-level (it is a follow-up story; people want to know what happened to her), of the story.

Scientists will announce Monday if the body of King Richard III has, at long last, been found.

King Richard III ruled England from 1483 to 1485. He was killed in battle by the future King Henry VII. His body has never been identified or recovered.

Archeologists on the search for the remains of King Richard III discovered a skeleton under a parking lot in central London last September, the AP reported.

The body is reported to show signs trauma to the skull and a barbed arrowhead is lodged in the upperback. There are also signs of scoliosis, consistent with historical descriptions of the King.

King Richard III may have been buried by monks, however after King Henry III commanded all monasteries be disbanded 50 years after King Richard's death, the location of his possible burial was forgotten. The body discovered under the parking lot matches up extremely well with historical descriptions of the King, reported the International Business Times.

The body has undergone extensive testing, including radio carbon dating and DNA comparison to the DNA taken from a London resident who has been confirmed to be the 17th great grand nephew of King Richard's older sister, reported the AP.

A Maple Grove woman pleaded guilty on charges of giving her 12-year-old daughter heroin and marijuana, the Hennepin County attorney's office said Wednesday.

The girl was hospitalized and released. She is currently receiving continued treatment.

Rebecca Radelle Hill, 37, is expected to be sentenced four years to in prison, the AP reported.

Radelle was originally arrested on charges of shoplifting with her daughter on Oct. 12. She later said that both she and her daughter had used heroin prior to shoplifting. On Oct 13, the girl's dad contacted police and told them he had taken his daughter to the hospital for drug withdrawal. The daughter said Radelle had regularly given her heroin and marijuana. She is currently living with her dad and step-mom, according to the Star Tribune.

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