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

Analysis: offshore secrecy requires heavy leg work

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An April 3 story by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists relied mostly on sheer man-hours to analyze millions of files and expose the extent of offshore banking in the modern world.

Reporters from more than 30 media organizations used "high-tech data crunching" to analyze the files, which span more than 30 years and implicate a number of high-ranking international officials. While it's not clear what the writers meant by such vague terms, it's safe to assume they used some forms of spreadsheet software, as well as data analysis tools like Microsoft Access once the data had been collected.

The story incorporates a number of multimedia features, including graphics, maps, and videos, to broaden the audience's knowledge on the subject. One map shows key players in the offshore banking scheme around the world. Another graphic takes one man, Gunter Sachs, and details how he set up his bank accounts to avoid taxation and regulation for years.

The kind of reporting this story represents is incredibly important. It serves journalism's goal of monitoring the powerful members of society. Frankly, though, it's heady stuff - complex and hard to understand, even when you really sit down and think it over. The multimedia aspects of the story do a wonderful job summarizing the information into digestible components.

US economy grows, but misses expectations

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The U.S. economy expanded in the first three months of the year, news sources reported, though it fell short of analysts' projections.

Strong consumer spending helped the economy grow at an annualized rate of 2.5%, the BBC reported. That spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's economic activity, grew at its fastest rate since 2010.

But a sharp decline in government spending, brought on in part by automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, kept overall growth from meeting expectations, the Washington Post reported. With no end to the sequester in sight, economists expect growth in the next quarter to fall somewhere between 1 and 2 percent.

"With fiscal tightening weighing on the spring and summer quarters, we expect weaker growth ahead," said economist Ian Shepherdson in a note to clients. "We have seen good quarters before, but what counts is sustainability, and on that score we are deeply unconvinced."

Explosion shakes Shakopee

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An explosion Thursday rocked a renewable energy facility in Shakopee, news sources reported.

Fire crews and emergency personnel were called to the scene, where Koda Energy and Rahr Malting operate a joint venture, the Star Tribune reported. The city posted a notice on its website advising all residents within a 1-mile radius of the blast to stay indoors.

A Scott County spokesperson said no one was injured in the blast, Patch reported. The seven employees present at the time of the blast were safely evacuated.

Roads have since been reopened, MPR reported. The city of Shakopee has given the all-clear.

Hoigaard's sold to Colorado ski giant

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Colorado-based Vail Resorts announced Wednesday it had purchased Hoigaard's, news sources reported.

Hoigaard's, a sporting goods company based in St. Louis Park, was founded in 1895. It will maintain its name and all of its employees, the Star Tribune reported.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, the Pioneer Press reported. Vail Resorts reported $1.02 billion in revenue last year.

The Colorado company recently purchased Afton Alps as well, Minnesota Public Radio reported, where multi-million dollar upgrades are planned.

AP Twitter account hacked

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Hackers compromised the Associated Press's Twitter account Tuesday, news sources reported, falsely reporting an attack on the White House.

The Tweet, which claimed two explosions had occurred in the White House and that Barack Obama had been injured, caused the Dow Jones industrial average to drop about 1 percent before bouncing back, NPR reported.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president was unharmed, the AP reported. All of the news organization's official Twitter accounts have been suspended in light of the incident.

Both the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the hacking, Reuters reported.

France votes to legalize same-sex marriage

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(Note: this story was previously reported for the Minnesota Daily.)

French lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday, news sources reported.

The law, which will also allow same-sex couples to adopt children, passed by 321 votes to 225, the BBC reported. French President Francois Hollande had made the issue one of his main priorities.

Opinion polls suggested a small majority of French citizens were in support of same-sex marriage, but fewer had indicated support for giving same-sex couples the right to adopt.

A group of conservative senators filed a legal challenge to the vote Tuesday, CNN reported.

France follows 13 other countries in legalizing same-sex marriage, Reuters reported.

"You are adding a crisis to a crisis," said Herve Mariton, a lawmaker opposed to the legislation. "You are stirring up tensions and are lighting the fuse of homophobia."

Hunt for Faribault stabbing suspect ends

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(Note: this story was also reported for the Minnesota Daily.)

The hunt for a man suspected of stabbing his girlfriend ended Sunday in southern Minnesota, news sources reported.

Shane Alan Wilson, 27, was picked up by police in Steele County, where authorities found him suffering from hypothermia, the Star Tribune reported.

Wilson was wanted in connection with the stabbing of his unidentified 26-year-old girlfriend, who police found unresponsive in a stalled vehicle Saturday, the Pioneer Press reported.

Authorities said Wilson was taken to a hospital after his arrest, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Former Bachmann aide will speak to ethics committee

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Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff will speak to an Iowa state Senate ethics committee regarding allegations of wrongdoing, news sources reported.

Andy Parrish will corroborate accusations of misconduct from another former Bachmann aide, the Star Tribune reported. The aide claims Bachmann's presidential campaign hid payments to an Iowa senator.

"[Parrish] does have, he believes, an obligation to tell the truth," said John Gilmore, Parrish's attorney. "There is no motivation other than wanting the true facts to come to light."

The Office of Congressional Ethics is currently investigating the allegations against Bachmann, Minnpost reported.

Minn. job growth slows, but unemployment drops

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Minnesota employers cut jobs in March, news sources reported, but the state's unemployment rate dropped slightly from last month.

A report from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development claims the drop in unemployment comes from more people giving up on finding jobs, Minnpost reported.

Overall, Minnesota lost 5,200 jobs in March, the Pioneer Press reported, after adding 9,900 jobs a month earlier.

The state's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent, the Star Tribune reported. The national unemployment rate in March was 7.6 percent, as reported by the Pioneer Press.

Explosions rock Boston Marathon

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At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured as explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, news sources reported.

The blasts occurred on Patriot Day, the Boston Globe reported, which is a state holiday in Massachusetts.

An anonymous White House official said the explosions were being treated as an act of terrorism, the Associated Press reported. President Obama said those responsible for the blasts will "feel the weight of justice."

Reports of an explosion at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston turned out to be an unrelated fire, the Washington Post reported.