December 6, 2007

"T-Rex of the Ocean" Fossil Found in the Arctic

The remains of a prehistoric monster, equivalent to the size of a bus, was found on a remote Arctic island and may be a species that has never before been recorded, reports.
The fossils are believed to be that of a short-necked plesiosaur measuring more than 30 feet. It was a voracious reptile often described as the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the oceans.
The fossils were found on the Svalbard islands, 300 miles north of Norway, in August. The dig yielded the remains of teeth, skull fragments, and vertebrae of a reptile. It resembles the species that was found nearby only last year.
According to, the remains are over 150 million years old, when this region was under water.
"We think it is a species unknown until now. Our plesiosaur shows significant differences from those discovered in France and Britain," said Joern Hurum of Oslo University's paleontology department.
This species resembled a giant sea lion, with four fins and a snout similar to that of a crocodiles when living. The massive jaw of the animal could have swallowed a grown man in a single gulp according to the article on
For this international science story I looked at and to gain more insight into the story. The Star Tribune article was very short and just contained the base information, such as the size of the animal and where the fossils were found. However, it did include an artist's rendering of what the beast may have looked like. On, obviously the article was a lot longer and in turn contained a lot more information. This specific article had information on past plesiosaurs found as well as more in depth coverage on the species.

December 3, 2007

Earth's Tropical Belt is Growing

Earths tropical belt appears to have expanded a couple hundred miles in the last quarter century, reports.
Earth's tropical belt is the area around Earth's middle that stretches from the Tropic of Cancer, just south of Miami to the Tropic of Capricorn which cuts Austrailia in half. It covers about a quarter of the globe and contains mostly desert, according to
Teams of meteorologists found that the tropical atmospheric belt has grown by 2 to 4.8 degrees latitude since 1979. That is equilanant to a north and south expansion of 140 to 330 miles.
This could mean more even dryer weather for some already dry subtropical regions, new climate research shows. The area of concern is the dry areas on the edge of the tropics, such as the U.S. Southwest, parts of the Mediterranean and southern Australia.
The two sources that I used for this international story were a local source, the Star Tribune and, where the article where the Star Tribune got there information was located. I wanted to see what the Star Tribune chose to include and what they thought was important. Obviously, had a lot more information, such was where the tropical belt is located.

November 26, 2007

Deadly Riots Break Out in Bolivia After Approval of New Draft Constitution

Riots ensued in Sucre, Bolivia on Sunday in which at least two people were killed, after allies of President Evo Morales approved the framework for a new constitution, reports.
In this new constitution, it would permit indefinite reelection for President Morales and could radically change Bolivian Politics, reports.
This new constitution has yet to be approved but if so, would establish a multiethnic state with 36 governing regions for indigenous groups.
The riot on Sunday prompted national police commander Gen. Miguel Vasquez to order all units out of Sucre, Bolivia. According to Vasquez, he wanted to "avoid more confrontations."
One of the victims was a police officer. According to hospital officials the other victim was a carpenter who died of injuries after a tear gas cannister struck him. Over 100 inmates also escaped from the city's jail due to rioting. The group set fire to the jail at police headquarters.
Even though I looked at two completely different sources, and, it was an AP story so the two stories were exactly the same. Neither of them contained too much information, especially about the new constitution which seemed quite important since it could change Bolivian politics. Hopefully there will be a follow-up story.

November 19, 2007

Natural Gas Blast in Saudi Arabia Kills 28

An accidental explosion and ensuing fire in a gas pipeline killed 28 people and left 12 missing Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reports.
The fire started when Aramco contact workers were linking a new pipe to the line.
Aramco is the nation's largest oil producer. The company did not specify how many of their workers had been injured in the blaze, or give the workers' nationalities. According to oil minister Ali al-Naimi the explosion did not disrupt gas supplies.
The explosion occurred on a pipeline about 19 miles from Aramco's plant in Hawiyah, Saudi Arabia. This plant alone produces 310,000 barrels a day of ethane and liquefied natural gas, according to
Since this was an international story, I wanted to see how different regions of the United States would report it so I contrasted the Star Tribune with the Boston Herald. For the most part they were similar. The leads were about the same and the direct news was about the same. Both papers mentioned how many died and how many are missing and how the explosion occured. The only difference was that the Star Tribune had more secondary reporting including information on the Aramco, wheras the Boston Herald did not.

October 30, 2007

"Chessboard Killer" from Moscow Gets Harshest Sentence Possible

Alexander Pichushkin, known as the "chessboard killer", was sentenced Monday to life in a hard-labor colony, according to
Pichushkin was handcuffed in a reinforced glass cage when the judge read the harshest possible sentence one could get. Asked whether he understood the sentence, Pichushkin replied, "I'm Not Deaf."
Pichushkin was called the "chessboard killer" because his murders were in effort to produce one body for every space on a chessboard, which is 64. Pichushkin said that he killed 61 people and attempted to kill three others. However, prosecutors could only find evidence to prove 48 murders, as well as the three attempted murders.
His victims were mostly homeless, alcoholic, and elderly men, even though he killed three women. He would lure his victims with vodka, if they joined him in the mourning of his dog. After he got them drunk, he would throw them into the sewage pit in Bittsa Park, south of Moscow.
Lately, he started to kill violently, some victims he hit over the head multiple times with a hammer, and then sticking a shattered vodka bottle into their shattered skulls, prosecutors said on the BBC news website.
Pichushkin began his killing spree in Moscow in 1992, he was arrested in June 2006. The vigilance of a relative of one of the dead led to his capture, BBC news said.
Along with the hard labor colony, Pichushkin will have to undergo psychiatric treatment, said Judge Vladmir Usov. many would like to see Pichushkin executed, but Russia has suspended the use of the death penalty.
There is a big difference between how these two papers dealt with the story. Our local paper, the Star Tribune, mostly talked about the trial and the outcome of the trial, with little detail into the murders and the location of the murders. On the other hand, BBC News went into detail about his killings, mentioning how most of his killings were played out. They also got reactions from neighbors who were afraid to go anywhere near Bittsa Park. They were a lot more graphic. Lastly, BBC News issued a picture of the "chessboard killer" whereas did not.

October 29, 2007

Argentine First Lady Likely to Replace Husband

President Nestor Kirchner, famous for engineering a recovery from a 2001 economic crisis severely hurting the middle class, is proposed to launch a "new political dynasty" Sunday in an election that promises for his wife to replace him in office, Star Tribune reports.
Kirchner's wife, Sen. Cristina Fernandez has gotten a lot of slack in the public eye lately, called "Queen Cristina" by critics. She has been criticized for wearing designer clothes on her campaign trail, even when visiting the slums.
"Should I have to dress up as a poor person to be a good political leader?" Fernandez asked in an interview in the New York Times. She also went on to say that those comments reflect a certain level of misogyny.
She has also been criticized by her two rivals for riding her husband's coattails, rather than building her own platform.
Argentine law prevents more than two consecutive terms, but this husband-and-wife combo could alternate in power for as long as they continue to have support.
Kirchner has taken on the role of cheerleader during his wife's campaign. According to the Star Tribune, Kirchner relishes in the idea of being the "first gentleman" of Argentina.
A poll released Friday by Poliarquia Consultores suggested Fernandez would get 42 percent of the vote. To win without runoff, Fernandez must get either 45 percent of the vote or at least 40 percent with a 10 percent lead over her closest rival. The poll had a margin error of 2.1 percentage points.

October 22, 2007

US Not Allowing Iran to Go Nuclear

According to Dick Cheney, as quoted on, the United States and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. He went on to say that Iran's efforts in technology to allow them to build nuclear weapons are obvious. Cheney said the U.S. and other nations are "prepared to impose serious consequences' if it continues.' However, he made no specific reference to military action. Cheney went on later to accuse Iran of having a direct role in the deaths of U.S soldiers in Iraq. The U.S. have accused Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt it's program of uranium enrichment, a step for producing atomic weapons. However, they say that program is for everyday purposes including generating electricity. According to the Pioneer Press, Bush suggested Wednesday at a news conference, that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, it could lead to a new world war. "I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,'' Bush said. Bush's spokesperson said that quote was a "rhetorical point." However, the Bush administration's intentions toward Iran have been the subject of debate in Congress.

October 12, 2007

US Attack kills 34, Including 15 Civilians

A US attack northwest of Baghdad killed 19 insurgents and 15 civilians including nine children Thursday.
The US had reason to believe that the senior leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership, were meeting in the Lake Tharthar Region, according to the article in the New York Times.
It was one of the highest civilian death tolls brought on by a US attack in recent months, according to the article. The US military used ground and air forces and according to the article, the first air attack killed "four terrorists."
According to the report in the Star Tribune, after securing the area the ground troops initially assessed 15 terrorists, 9 children and 6 women were dead.
In the article Maj. Brad Leighton, a spokesperson for American forces in Iraq was asked about the civilian casualties.
“We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism." Leighton said. “These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence.?

September 23, 2007

North Korean's Syria Trip Prompted Attack

The Bush administration refused to comment on the Israeli bomb raid on September 6 in Syria. This summer Israel shared intelligence with the United States, indicating that North Korea had nuclear personnel, according to U.S. government sources. However, the United States is believed to have provided some corroboration of the original intelligence, according to the Washington Post, before Israel proceeded with the raid. The target of this raid was beleived to be in Northern Syria, near the Turkish border. There were no casualties, the attack took place in the dead of night and hit a Syrian facility. According to the article, this mission was so top secret that the pilots flying during the air attack did not know the details of the mission until they were in the air. Even though Syria and North Korea denied they were in cooperation with each other on a nuclear program, there was reason behind the Israeli attack. Three days before the attack, a North Korean ship docked at a Syrian port, carrying cargo officially named as "cement". Israeli sources have suggested that it carried nuclear equipment.

September 17, 2007

Rain Across Africa Raises Risk of Disease

Violent rainfall and flash floods in Uganda have killed 150 people and sent hundreds homeless. The UN has issued a warning of the rising risk of disease in Africa due to the flooding. In Uganda alone, 150,000 are homeless and another 400,000 have lost their livelihood, mostly farmers whose land was ruined by flooding. The rain does not only affect Uganda, on the other side of the continent in Ghana whole towns are underwater and a quarter of a million people have forcefully been removed from their homes. The African government calls the flood "the worst flood in living memory". More than one million people spanning 17 countries have in some way been affected by these torrential downpours. Also, now more than ever, fresh drinking water is needed across the region.

September 10, 2007

Archaeologists find lost tunnel

An escape tunnel used over 2,000 years ago was just discovered in Jerusalem. The chief directors of the dig Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron found the lost room under rubble. They were actually looking for the main road in ancient Jerusalem but followed a drainage pipe in the wreckage that led to the discovery. The tunnel was used by Jewish residents to escape from the Romans. It was made of ashlar stones and its walls stood ten feet high. Ancient artifacts such as pottery fragments and coins were found along the tunnel. Even though there were thousands of people that lived in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago there is no indication in the tunnel of how many people used it to escape. The archaeologists who worked on the dig say that the tunnel leads into the Kidron River which runs into the Dead Sea. However there is no way to be sure since they have only uncovered about 100 feet so far. The tunnel is believed to stretch more than half a mile.