November 2009 Archives

The new film Precious, in a cultural debate

The new film Precious, in a cultural debate

By Brittany Falkers


            The film "Precious" open nationwide this weekend, intensifying the cultural debate of which black stories are told, The New York Times said.

            "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," is about an obese, poor, illiterate, young black woman who is sexually and emotionally abused, according to the New York Times.

            The film 'prevailed' at box offices this weekend with a record $1.8 million in limited release.  Although "most critics gave the "resounding hopeful" release two large thumbs up, dissenters say it just perpetuates negative stereotypes." The Week said.

            The Week also raised the question, "Is "Precious" exploitative?"

            Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry are two of the movie's executive producers giveing the film added cultural influence, adding fire to the flames of the movies debate, according to the New York Times.

            A New York Times article compared "Precious" to the 1985 film, "The Color Purple."

            "A father repeatedly rapes and impregnates his daughter, [in both films] enraging some critics (mostly men) who asserted that the book and the film treated black men harshly." the New York Times said.

            Dozens of black people interviewed about their perspectives on "Precious" included Armond White, the chief film critic of The New York Press and the chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle, who gave "perhaps the most provocative salvo against the movie," the New York Times said.

            "Not since 'The Birth of a Nations' has a mainstream movie demeaned the idea of black American life as much as 'Precious,'" White wrote in his review.  "Full of brazenly racist clichés (Precious steals and eats an entire bucked of fried chicken), it is a sociological horror show."

            Mainstream news media and serious critics ignored recent black-theme films like "Cadillac Records" and "Akeelah and the Bee" because they were not negative enough, said White in an interview with the New York Times.

            Others, such as editor, Latoya Peterson, say White is off base.

            "His review buys into the narrative that there can only be one acceptable presentation of black life," Peterson told the New York Times. "He's flattening the black experience, and in that way, he denies our humanity."

Analysis on Diversity

Analysis on Diversity

By Brittany Falkers


            The film "Precious" has recently entered a cultural conversation. In an article, from the New York Times, the issues of the films racial stereotypes are discussed.

The article provided several scholarly and academic professionals' opinions and interpretations of the film.

"It [the article] had a lot of different views of the movie." Lauren, an orthodontic assistant familiar with racial stereotypes said.  She preferred not to use her last name in the interview.   

The article discussed the film's main character called Precious, an obese, poor, illiterate, young black woman who is sexually and emotionally abused, as the motion pictures stereotypical resort to depicting black people in film. 

The article gave several view points from those who view the character as another realm of black culture that should be recognized.   

Lauren, 21, spoke about the article as an interesting cultural look at a new film. 

The article took varying ideas of stereotypes.  It moved beyond looking at black people as stereotypes and focused on how they felt about those stereotypes, Lauren said.

The article starts as a review of the film, but then quickly turns to its newsworthiness, the issue of African American stereotypes.    

Café Brenda closing

Café Brenda closing

By Brittany Falkers


            The landmark Café Brenda will be closing after 23 years of business on December 5, according to City Pages.

            "Everything has its time," owner Brenda Langton told the Star Tribune.  "I'm fin with it.  We've had a great time.  It's been fun."

            The restaurant pioneered in the local-foods movement, serving a mostly vegetarian menu, it opened in the Minneapolis Warehouse District in 1986, the Star Tribune said.

            "Back then, the Warehouse District was really cool," Langton told the Star Tribune.  "But those days are done."

            Langton will continue to run Café Brenda's sister restaurant, Spoonriver, lead the Mill City Farmers Market, which she helped pioneer, and work on other projects relating to food and health, including teaching at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing and publishing a new cookbook, the City Pages said.

            "I'm having a great time moving into other arenas, and I just don't have time for it all," she told the Star Tribune.

            Until the closing Langton plans to be a fixture during lunch and dinner at the restaurant, so she can say goodbye to customers, and gently nudge them over to Spoonriver, according to the Star Tribune.

            "I think I'll be getting a lot of hug in the next two weeks," she told the Star Tribune.  "At least I hope so."

College tuition in California to rise by 32 percent

College tuition in California to rise by 32 percent

By Brittany Falkers


            The University of California Board of Regents approved a plan to raise undergraduate fees on Thursday, the New York Times said.

            The equivalent of tuition is to rise 32 percent by next fall, to help make up for steep cuts in state funding, according to the New York Times. 

            The state allocation for the university system was cut $813 million, or 20 percent, this year, leading to a halt in hiring, furloughs and layoffs, according to the New York Times.

            Students have protested both the budget cuts and the proposal for higher fees, which would bring in-state tuition to more than $10,000 a year, the New York Times said.

            A second day of protest roiled the UCLA campus today as the UC regents prepared to approve the increase in student fees, according to the LA Times.

            Mark Yudorf, president of the system, told the New York Times that UCLA now recived hold half the support from the state as it did in 1990.  The system still needs a $913 million increase in state financing next year to avoid further cuts.  If it is not provided, next year's freshman enrollment will most likely be cut.

            "When it comes to the university's core support, we have only two main sources - taxpayer dollars from the state and students fees." Yudorf told the New York Times.

            The full Board of Regents is expected to approve a fee hike of $2,500, or 32 percent, in two steps by next fall.  The total student fees increase would be about triple the UC cost a decade ago.  Room, board, and books can add another $16,000, according to the LA Times.

Somali woman stoned to death for adultery

Somali woman stoned to death for adultery

By Brittany Falkers


            A Somali woman was stoned to death and her boyfriend given 100 lashes for having an affair, a judge for an Islamic militant group in Somalia told Associated Press reporters Wednesday.  

            The woman was killed Tuesday in front of a crowd of some 200 people near the town of Wajid, the Star Tribune said.

            The Somali woman, 20, was a divorcee - but although she was no longer married, her affair was seen as adultery in the eyes of Somalia's extremist interpretation of Sharia law, according to a Mail Foreign Service article.

The militants that control much of southern Somalia and have links to al-Quida have instituted a conservative reading of Islam's Sharia law, the Star Tribune said.

            Sheikh Ibrahim Abdirahman, the judge for the group al-Shabab, says the woman's boyfriend was a 29-year-old unmarried man, was given 100 lashes for the affair, according to the Mail Foreign Service article.  

             The stoning death was a least the fourth for adultery in Somalia over the last year.  It was the second time a female has been killed, the Star Tribune said.

Another Minnesota man indicted for supporting terrorists

Another Minnesota man indicted for supporting terrorists

By Brittany Falkers


A local Somali man was indicted Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on charges of conspiring to provide support to terrorist, according to the Star Tribune.

            Omer Abdi Mohamed, a 23-year-old unemployed employment counselor and father of a two-month-old boy, was also indicted on charges of conspiracy to "kill, kidnap, main or injure" people in foreign countries, the Star Tribune said.

            Kare11 News also reported investigation into the recruitment of Minnesota Somalis to fight in Somalia.

            Mohamed, of Minneapolis, is the sixth Somali man with local ties to be charged in connection with a two-year-old federal counterterrorism investigation aimed at finding out who recruited up to 20 local men of Somali decent to return to their homeland and train and fight with the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, the Star Tribune said.

            Some of the men who left to return to their homeland were in their early 20s. Others to go were in their teens, leaving before their senior year of high school, according to the Star Tribune.

            If convicted, Mohamed faces a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on court one, 15 years in prison on court two, and life determined by a federal district court judge, Kare11 News said.      

            Four other Somali-American men from Minnesota or who have ties to Minnesota have pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to charges related to this case.  Three of those men pleaded guilty earlier this year, and admitted to travelling to Somalia and attending an Al-Shabab training camp, the Star Tribune said.

Mora Man jailed for plea to miss jury duty

Mora Man jailed for plea to miss jury duty

By Brittany Falkers


            A Mora, Minn. plumber was recently jailed when his answers during a jury selection landed him in the Kanabec County jail, according to the Star Tribune.

            According to court records, Tom Gilly said he could see himself "getting awfully frustrated" if he had to take off more than a day, Inforum said.

"I could see myself just going with the flow to get it over with to get back to work," Gilly said, according to the Star Tribune. 

Kanabec County Chief Judge Timothy Bloomquist did not respond well to Gilly's answer.  Bloomquist found Gilly in contempt of court and sentenced him to a day in jail, the Star Tribune said.

Gilly was taken away, locked up with the other imamates, and given the standard prison uniform, the Star Tribune said.

The judge says he does not think the punishment "was disproportionate," according to Inforum.

Minnesota officials are concerned with more people seeking exemptions from jury duty because they cannot afford it, according to the Star Tribune.

Donald Lewis, dean of the Hamline University School of Law called what happened "a rare event," the Star Tribune said.

Lewis told the Star Tribune that people do have legitimate reasons to be excused from jury duty, but it's up to the judge to discern when there is truly a hardship as opposed to an inconvenience. 

Northfield man indicted for charges of child porn

Northfield man indicted for charges of child porn

By Brittany Falkers


            Evidence of child pornography distribution operations was revealed in a federal search warrant for a Northfield man, who now sits in a California cell, according to Northfield News. 

            The suspect, Ernst O. Luposchinsky III is a 55-year-old man, who was indicted on federal charges of distributing child pornography, according to the Star Tribune.

            Luposchinsky admitted that his website created an image- and video-sharing haven for people sexually attracted to children, the Star Tribune said.

            He was busted in September, after authorities intercepted a letter addressed to him from Melbourne, Australia, from someone who frequented his website, according to the Star Tribune.

            Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents received information that someone names "Khan Amore" was distributing child pornography on the Luposchinsky's Web site.  This traced federal agents to Luposhainsky in July of 2008, the Northfield News said.

            The Minnesota office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently has 35 open child pornography investigations and has conducted 126 such investigations over the past three years, the Star Tribune said.

            Luposhainsky is currently being held without bail in California, awaiting trial on the charges in U.S. District Court in San Diego, according to the Star Tribune.      

Analysis on number use

Analysis on number use

By Brittany Falkers


            The news story I found from the New York Times uses numbers to represent financial figures, determine time differences for a financial status, and it also uses numbers to reveal stock changes.  

This reporter used numbers to tell the story because the numbers were crucial to the facts.  Almost every time a financial figure is mentioned in the story, the reporter uses more numbers to put those figures into a time frame.  

            In one graph of the story the number use becomes a bit overwhelming.  This is due to a rapid fire of figures that seem to topple over one another.  The reporter could have made lessened this confusion a bit by spreading the figures out over more paragraphs and giving the numbers and figures used more background and context. 

            The source of these numbers comes from the National Venture Capital Association as well as interviewee sources that have provided the reporter with statistics and facts.  

Jobs boom in India

Jobs boom in India

By Brittany Falkers


Bangalore is in the centre of a jobs boom for qualified engineers and computer application grads, according to interim thoughts. 

India's economy has transformed through an information technology revolution that has pushed the country toward double-digit economic growth, according to the New York Times.

The workers finding the jobs boom are young people from villages clustered around deep rural areas in India's southwest.  These young people are part of an experiment by a handful of entrepreneurs to bring the jobs outsourcing has created to distant corners of India, according to the New York Times.

This experiment is bringing India's economic rise to rural cut off areas that have not seen the effects before, according to the New York Times.

About 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas, however, most of the jobs are in cities, the New York Times said.

Rural India was once seen as useless on the Indian economy.  But Indian and foreign companies have come to see India's rural areas as an untapped market for relatively inexpensive goods like lo-tech cell phones, kitchen gadgets and cheap motorcycles, the New York Times said.  

Some businesses have started looking to rural India for untapped eager and motivated office workers.  Most people hired are high school graduates who have completed some college, according to the New York Times.  

Hasan charged with murder for Fort Hood killings

Hasan charged with murder for Fort Hood killings

By Brittany Falkers


            Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was charged by military officials on Thursday with 13 counts of premeditated murder, accusing him of the attack at America's largest Arm post in Fort Hood, Tex. last week, according to the New York Times. 

            Investigators are still unsure of Hasan's motive for the attack.  "We are doing everything possible and we are looking at every reason for this shooting," Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command said at a news conference Friday at Fort Hood. 

            Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist, could face the death penalty if convicted, reporters for Bloomberg said.

            Hasan had espoused the belief that America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wars against all Muslims, according to the New York Times.

            Before he was taken down by the police, he shot to death four commissioned officers, eight enlisted soldiers and one civilian in the crowded center, officials told reporters for the New York Times.

            The military and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been trying to determine whether the gunman acted alone, and so far, officials in Washington say, they have found no evidence of a conspiracy, according to the New York Times.

Water on the Moon

Water on the Moon

By Brittany Falkers


            NASA announced that it found a "significant amount" of water on the moon as a result of the LCROSS, NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, impact last month, according to CBC News. 

            Anthony Colaprete, the principle investigator for LCROSS told the New York Times in a news conference, "Indeed yes, we found water."

            It is estimated there were about 24 gallons of water in the crater where the LCROSS spacecraft hit the moon, on Oct. 9, according the CBC News.

            The impact of the LCROSS spacecraft didn't have an immediately visible result, however, NASA told CBC News that it received a great deal of information from the experiment.

            "The confirmation of scientists' suspicions is welcome news both to future explores who might set up home on the lunar surface and to scientists who hope that the water, in the form of ice accumulated over billions of years, could hold a record of the solar system's history," the New York Times said.


St. Paul soldier among the 13 killed in Fort Hood

St. Paul soldier among the 13 killed in Fort Hood

By Brittany Falkers


            St. Paul resident was on of the 13 people killed in the massacre at Fort Hood, according to the Star Tribune.

            Pfc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn., was a father of three whose family had a history of military service, WSJ staff said.

            "I could understand if he died in Afghanistan of Iraq, where they are under attack and going head-to-head with the enemy," Chor Xiong, Pfc. Xiong's father, said in Hmong to a Star Tribune reporter.

            Kham Xiong was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, Mee Xiong, PFC. Xiong's sister told WSJ staff. 

            Pfc. Xiong was one of 11 siblings and came to the U.S. when he was just atoddler.  Her grew up in California, then moved to Minnesota with the family about 10 years ago, Chor Xiong told WSJ staff reporters. 

            He was married and had three children ages 4, 2 and 10 months.  He and his wife had moved to Texas in July, Xiong's father told WSJ staff. 



News analysis on obits

News analysis on obits

By Brittany Falkers


            The obituariy found is for Stacy Rowles, a jazz musician who died at the age of 54.  Her obit was found in the New York Times.

            This obituary's lead begins with the standard New York Times formula.  "Stacy Rowles, a jazz trumpeter, flugelhorn player and singer who had been active on the Los Angeles jazz scene since the 1980s, died on Oct. 27 at her home in Burbank, Calif.  She was 54." Her obituary said.

            This is the formulaic standard for a New York Times obituary, and it works very well in this obit.  

            The obituary did not use any outside sources for quotes or information, but rather used her songs and past history to give the story a voice.  This worked well because the reporter could use her life through music to give a sense of her life.

            Rowles obituary differs from a standard resume because it doesn't list facts from her life, rather some accomplishments as well as highlights from her life as a jazz musician.  The article chooses to focus on one of her achievements rather than all of them in a list form.  




Rybak is officially in governor's race

Rybak is officially in governor's race

By Brittany Falkers


            Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak filed paperwork just two days after coasting to reelection victory in Minneapolis with the state to run for governor, according to reporters at the Star Tribune.

            The mayor made the announcement to close friends and supporters via e-mail Thursday afternoon, the Star Tribune said.

            Rybak's filing was long expected and he has been quite public about his ambitions and has attended candidate forums, traveled outstate for months and even picked up a labor endorsement for the statewide run from Teamster Local 120, the Star Tribune said.  

            Rybak acknowledged the prospect of having to juggle both roles in a debate Monday on MPR News, according to MPR News.

            "It's no going to be easy if I run for governor, at all," Rybak said to MPR News.

            This wouldn't be the first time Rybak has done campaign work while fulfilling his mayoral duties.  The most recent example, he told MPR News, is when he campaigned for Barack Obama.

            "People didn't see any drop-off in my production," Rybak told MPR News, "I will continue to work hard for the city."

U.N. blames U.S. for aid cuts in Somalia

U.N. blames U.S. for aid cuts in Somalia

By Brittany Falkers


            U.N. officials told Associated Press reporters Friday that the supply of critical food aid to Somalia had been interrupted and that rations to starving people needed to be cut, partly because the U.S. government has delayed food contributions out of fears they would be diverted to terrorists.

            U.S. officials told Associated Press reporters last month that they had suspended millions of dollar of food aid because of concerns that Somali contractors working for the United Nations were funneling food and money to the Shabab, and Islamist insurgent group with growing ties to Al-Qaida.  

U.S. officials played down the effect of the delays and sid the food shipments would resume soon, once the U.S. government was assured the United Nations was doing more to police the aid deliveries, according to the Star Tribune.

Friday the World Food Program told Associated Press reporters, "The food supply line to Somalia is effectively broken."

            U.N. officials told Associated Press reporters that around 40 million pounds of American - donated food was being held up in warehouses in Mombasa, in neighboring Kenya, because U.S. officials were not allowing aid workers to distribute it until a new set of tighter regulations was ironed out, according to the New York Times.

"We are totally dependent on this food, and people are now suffering, "Ahmed Mahamoud Hassan, the chairman of the drought committee in Galcaio, central Somalia told reporters.  "We have nothing else to eat."

Police find injured young man when called to a robbery

Police find injured young man when called to a robbery

By Brittany Falkers


            Minneapolis police responding to a robbery call about 1:40 a.m. near Hiawatha Ave. S. and 28th St. E. found a young man seriously injured nearby, Star Tribune staff said.

            The injured man was brought to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died Saturday morning, according to the Star Tribune staff.

            Police told reporters at the Star Tribune that the injured man appeared to be in his late teens, but the police have not yet released any more information.

            The Minneapolis Homicide Unit is investigating the death.  They urge anyone with information on the young man, or anyone who was in the area at the time, to call their TIPS Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477), Star Tribune staff said.

Suspect kills 12 at Fort Hood

Suspect kills 12 at Fort Hood

By Brittany Falkers


            Twelve were fatally shot and 31 were wounded at Fort Hood in Texas on Thursday, according to CNN news.

            The suspect is not dead as previously reported by the military, the base's commander told reporters from CNN Thursday evening.  

            The suspect, identified at Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood around 1:30 p.m., Army Lt. Gen. Robert Cone told reporters.

            Hasan, 39, is a graduate of Virginia Tech and a psychiatrist licensed in Virginia who was practicing at Darnall Arm Medical Center at Fort Hood, according to military and professional records, said CNN news.

            Evidence has emerged that Major Hasan was both a troubled man and a religious Muslim.  Reports suggested that soldiers may have heard him shout something like "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great!" - just before he fired two automatic handguns, said the New York Times.

            President Obama asked people to avoid "jumping to conclusion" while the investigations continued.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2009 is the previous archive.

December 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.