December 2010 Archives

Appeal Trial Grants Amanda Knox's Request of Reviewing Evidence

CNN reports that Amanda Knox appealed her conviction of the murder of her British roommate on Saturday in the Italy.

Fox News reports that Knox won an important victory in her appeals, when the court ruled that it would allow an independent review of crucial DNA evidence. In the lower court trial, which convicted Knox of murder, this request was denied. The defense argues that DNA traces presented at the firs trial were inconclusive and may have been contaminated when they were analyzed.

Fox News reports that the court selected two experts from Rome's Sapienza University to review the evidence. The Prosecuting lawyer Giancarlo Costagliola opposed the review, stating that it was "useless" because "this court has all the elements to come to a decsion.

CNN reports that former American student Amanda Knox along with her former Italian boyfriend were convicted of killing Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found with her throat slashed in their shared villa in Perugia in November 2007. Knox was sentenced for 26 years in prison, and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito was sentenced for 25 years in prison. Both were found guilty of the murder.

Fox News reports that Knox has been in prison in Perugia since Nov. 6, 2007, four days after her roommate's body was found in their villa.

This news story is notable because it is a follow-up story on a case that previously received a lot of media attention. Many people are familiar with the Amanda Knox case and the charges against her and her boyfriend for being guilty of murder. This story is significant because it has the potential to change the ruling on this case. Not only is this a story that refreshes the public's memory of what happened in 2007, but because the court ruled that the evidence will be re-evaluated there is an opportunity for the charges to be changed.

I thought that the story was significant because it displays the significance of the court's rulings on cases, and also how evidence can be mishandled. Although the review has not begun yet, because the court ruled to allow a review it shows that there is potential that the evidence was manipulated. This shows the other side of news stories that deal with crime, not just the act and the punishment, but the manipulation that can take place to charge a suspect.



Helicopter Pilot Gets 15 Years for Serial Sexual Abuse

The Star Tribune reports that Jeffrey Iverson Jr., a helicopter pilot from Cambridge, has been charged with a 15 year sentence.

Fox News reports that Iverson was accused of raping three boys from the ages of 13- 16 in late July. In a Dec. 17th article, the Star Tribune reports that Iverson raped four boys, and also dated or knew the mothers of the boys. Fox News reports that Iverson was accused of assalting a 10-year-old boy while giving him helicopter rides.

The Star Tribune reports that the first victim stepped forward in March, and eventually Iverson was charged with sexually abusing four boys.

Fox News reports that the mother of the second victim went to police after she heard about the first victim. According to the criminal complaint, the victim said sexual acts happened everytime he was with Iverson, which was over 100 times. The victim's mother stated that she had met Iverson six years ago and dated him for one year. She said that Iverson continued to spend time with her son, even after their relationship ended.

The Star Tribune reports that on Friday Iverson was charged with 15 years for sexual assault. One of the victims testified against Iverson, stating that Iverson had taken away his teenage years. "You could be the one to save a future child's life from being like mine," the victim told the judge.

The Star Tribune reports that Iverson's attornery, Joseph Tamburino, argued that Iverson should only receive 12 years, because he agreed to the plea. Tamburino also revealed that Iverson was sexually abused by an uncle as a child.

The Star Tribune reports that when asked to speak in the trial Iverson said, "Words can't express how sorry I am to the communities and the families. I'm terribly sorry for what I did."

17-year-old Accused of Iowa Slayings Pleads Not Guilty

The Associated Press reports that 17-year-old Michael Swanson from St. Louis Park who was charged with killing two convenience store clerks faces a second arraignment later this month. Swanson is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in two counties in northern Iowa. The shooting took place on Nov. 15.

The Star Tribune reports that Swanson is accused of stealing his mother's Jeep, along with a gun from the families cabin in northern Minnesota. Charges claim that Swanson walked into a convenience store in Algona, Iowa, and shot the clerk, Vicky Bowman-Hall, 47. Swanson was wearing a mask and proceeded to rob the store. Police say that less than an hour later Swanson robbed a convenience store in Humboldt and also killed 61-year-old Sheila Myers, the clerk.

The Star Tribune reports that Swanson pleaded not guilty to both the charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in Kossuth County on Thursday. Because of Swanson's plea, his Dec. 20 arraignment will most likely be rescheduled. Swanson has not entered his pleas for the same charged in Humboldt County. His arraignment in Humboldt County is scheduled for Dec. 28. Swanson's attorney has not commented on the pleas.

The Associated Press reports that Swanson will be tried as an adult in both cases. He is currently in the Kossuth County Jail on a $1 million bond.



Bellagio Casino Robbed

USA Today reports that a robber stole $1.5 million worth of chips from a craps table in the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas early Tuesday morning. The police said that the man drove up to the casino on a black motorcycle, entered the casino, and walked about 500 feet to a nearby craps table. The man then revealed a gun and demanded the chips. He then escaped on the chopper. The police said that no patrons were injured, and they did not have to 'fork over' their own chips.

MSNBC reports that the man's robbery was captured on video surveillance cameras and the police are following promising leads trying to locate him. The police report that the robbery took less than 3 minutes. The police are also kept on watch for anyone trying to cash big-denomination chips, anything from $100 to $25,000.

MSNBC reports that David Schwartz the director of the Center for Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas said, "He had a gun. You just don't want that guy to fire that gun. Which is a worse headline? '$1.5 Million Stolen from Casino' or 'Patrons Killed in Casino Firefight'?"

USA Today reports the suspect is a white man. He is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs about 220 pounds. He is also the suspect of the Suncoast Casino robbery that took place last week.

MSNBC reports that experts and police say the robber may be in possession of worthless chips. Police Lt. Clinton Nichols said the chips aren't cash and they have no value until they are cashed in the Bellagio. Gordon Absher, the spokesman for Bellagio owner MGM International, would not say whether or not the casino's chips embed radio frequency devices inside the tokens.

DREAM Act Blocked in Senate

MSNBC reports that the DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, was blocked in the Senate on Saturday. The vote in the Senate was 55-41. The bill needed at least 60 votes to move on in the legislation process.

USA Today reports that this vote will kill the bill for a year, and possibly for the rest of President Obama's term. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina criticized Democrats for pushing the act during a lame-duck Congress, at a time when the Senate no longer controlled by Democrats. "You're not doing this to advance the issue," said Graham. "You're doing it to advance your situation politically."

USA Today reports that Graham warned the Dream Act and other immigration acts will not pass in the Senate "until we see our borders secured." Obama argues that the DREAM Act corrects, "one of the most egregious flaws in a badly broken immigration system." Stating that the immigration system punishes children "who have grown up in America, speak English, and have excelled in our communities".

MSNBC reports that the DREAM Act stood for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The Act would have granted legal status if the individual was under 30 years old, migrated to the U.S. before the age of 16, and if they completed 2 years of military service or enrollment in college.

MSNBC reports that supporters of the bill tried to target senators from states with high Latino populations, saying the bill would reward hard working individuals. Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions argued that the bill would provided "incentives" for illegal immigration.

The USA Today reports that Sessions said, "This bill is a law that at its fundamental core is a reward for illegal activity."

The Associated Press reports that the Obama administration said on Friday the Justice Department closed an ethics investigation of former Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Norton accepted a job a job with Shell several months after leaving her government post as Interior Secretary. The current inspector general of the Interior department, Mary Kendall said that the federal agency "appeared to give preferential treatment" to Royal Dutch Shell when the company pursued drilling leases in 2005 and 2006.

The Wall Street Journal reports that investigators found no evidence that Shell broke the law or that former Secretary Gale Norton broke federal conflict-of-interest laws.

The Associated Press reports that Norton was of using her position to direct oil leases to Royal Dutch Shell PLC. Kendall said Interior appeared to give Shell preferential treatment in at least two instances, but she could not link either case to Norton.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Shell benefitted from several "irregularities" from their leases. All three of the bids that Shell submitted were rewarded, whereas other companies were advised by employees of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management they could only submit one bid.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Report concluded Norton had "played a significant role" in the oil share program and her "participation in the program should subject her to the lifetime ban on communicating with federal government regarding the program.

Associated Press reports that Norton no longer works at Shell.

Twin Cities Gang Unit Officers Mishandling Evidence

The Pioneer Press reports that there has been speculation that the Metro Gang Strike Force officers have been mishandling evidence as far back as 2002. The Minneapolis police officials made no attempt to handle the problem.

The Pioneer Press reports that because these problems were disregarded and not disciplined by police they led to the unit's downfall in scandal. The Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion disbanded the unit last year. The Metro Gang Strike Force was cited for improprieties that included abuses of suspects' rights and improper seizure of evidence.

The Pioneer Press reports that documents from the case show that department officials were told that Metro Gang Strike Force officers were "committing perjury" and that "violations of due process (are) going on every day" within the unit.

Even with these allegations with documented proof, the Pioneer Press reports that it is doubtful that any former member of the unit will be held to account. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in September that a special criminal inquiry wasn't enough evidence to bring charges against anyone.

The Pioneer Press reports that despite various complaints to the board from officers working within or collaboration with the Metro Gang Strike Force, no actions were taken to discipline the unit.

"The city knew about these problems and did nothing to correct them," said Patrick Burns, the officer's lawyer. "As a result, they have destroyed the careers of those officers who were sent there to do a job, and nobody has been held to account for all of this."

Reporter Jenn Sterger Pressures NFL to Discipline Favre

The Associated Press reports that a spokesman from former New York Jet's hostess Jenn Sterger's said if the NFL disciplines Favre, she will not file a lawsuit. Sterger claims that Favre sent her innappropriate text messages and voicemails in 2008, while they were both employed by the New York Jets.

The New York Daily News reports that the Jets senior team manager of operations Aaron Degernes, helped Brett Favre connect with Sterger. Favre allegedly enlisted Degereness top help him obtain Sterger's phone number. If this is true, Degerness could emerge as an important figure in the case if Sterger files a lawsuit. Joseph Conway, Sterger's attorney, could call Degerness as a witness in an attempt to prove that Jets employees were aware of and facilitated Favre's behavior.

The New York Daily News also reports that Jets senior media relations manager Jared Winley has also been linked to the scandal. Deadspin posted a MySpace message that was allegedly sent by Favre to Sterger, "Jared Winley works in Pr for Jets he will either slip you my # of ask for yours."

The Associated Press reports that Phil Reese, Sterger's manager, said Thursday that she would like to see the league "implement a program" to prevent unwanted advances, like those that she claims Favre made on her. Reese said that Sterger wants the league to discipline Favre before he retires.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King reported that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won't suspend Favre for violating the league's personal conduct policy. He also stated that the league may not even sanction him because the league's investigators have not been able to prove "beyond the shadow of doubt" that Favre sent the X-rated picture.

The New York Daily News reports NFL investigators may be running out of time because Favre told reporters last week that he would definitely retire at the end of the season. The league will not have the jurisdiction to discipline Favre if he retires before the investigation is complete.

The Associated Press reports Sterger's attorney said the NFL has finished its investigation and sent the findings to NFL Commissioner and the league lawyers for review. The NFL is not commenting on the current status of the investigation.

Olbermann and Scarborough's Suspension

The Washington Post reports that MSNBC suspended two on-air journalists in November for making undisclosed political contributions to the Democratic Party.

The Washington Post reports that it is forbidden for MSNBC and NBC's journalists to donate to political candidates. Joe Scarbourough confessed that he had violated this rule, stating he'd forgotten he made the contributions. He made five contributions of $500 each to candidates, and MSNBC found out he made three other contributions to past local candidates. Scarbouough's colleague Keith Olbermann was suspended by MSNBC two weeks earlier for donating money to candidates.

The Washington Post reports that their ethics policies draws no distinction between news reporters and opinionated hosts. MSNBC does not want to send out the message that their employees are favoring one party or individual candidates. The policy states taking part in political activities and making donations jeopardizes an employee , "standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest."

Ted Koppel writes for the Washington Post about how journalism is changing, and therefore it does not make sense to enforce these policies on opinionated hosts. Koppel writes, "to witness the most opinionated MSNBC's left-leaning, Fox-baiting, money-generating hosts" suspended for donating to the Democratic political candidates, "seemed like a whimsical, arcane holdover from a long-gone era of television journalism."

Koppel argues that Olbermann is already defined by the public as left leaning, and therefore it would not be a surprise that he would donate to those candidates. Koppel states that we live in a "cable news universe" that celebrates opinionated journalism and forgets about hard nosed reporting along with objectivity. The commercial success of Fox News and MSNBS are the reason that investigative reporting has dwindled and the number of opinionated hosts has dramatically increased.

Analysis
I found that the suspension of Olbermann and Scarborough was almost as if the MSNBC was making fun of the ethics of the situation. The hosts were only suspended for two days for making donations that clearly violate the station's ethical standards. I believe MSNBC suspended the hosts because they were obligated to and it was the right decision to make so the organization looks reputable, but I believe the lack of severity of the suspension shows how strongly they feel about the issue.

I believe the Ted Koppel brings up many interesting points about the changing ethical standards that need to accompany the changing journalism. We are in a new-era of journalism, and the ethical standards seem to be outdated for this era. Investigative journalists searched for objectivity and providing the public with the truth. Today cable news has changed journalists to provide the public with the type of story they want to hear. Individuals can chose MSNBC's liberal news station or Fox New's conservative station to be spoon fed the opinion and spin they want to hear. This is where it seems almost silly that the hosts were suspended, because their viewpoint is already proudly displayed in their opinions.

I think that the suspension of these two hosts raising questions about a bigger issue that needs to be addressed in journalism. With journalism evolving into a new practice, there needs to be a new code of ethics that guides opinionated journalism.

This policy is

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/12/AR2010111206508.html

Speculation of Coruption in FIFA's Decision

Associated Press reports there has been speculation of corruption surrounding FIFA's decision to have the 2018 and 2022 World Cup of Soccer hosted in Russia and Qatar. FIFA President Sepp Blatter insists FIFA is not corrupt, but made the decision because soccer's world governing body needs to improve its image.

An opinion piece in the University of Pennsylvania's student newspaper claims that the decision to have the World Cup in Qatar is irresponsible because of the country's lack of human rights. The student writes that the event will be tainted by forced slave labor, reporting that Qatar does not comply with the minimum human trafficking standards.

Other countries also have are upset with FIFA's decision. New Zealand's 3 News reports that a senior member of Australia's World Cup bid, Steve Hargitay, has accused FIFA of being dishonest. Hargitay also advised the England bid team that they were lied to by FIFA. Hargitay believes the biggest mistake made by Australia was to play it clean.

The Associated Press reports that Blatter stands behind his organization. "I'll say it clearly; there is no systematic corruption at FIFA," said Blatter. "That's nonsense."

Associated Press reports that FIFA's ethics courts suspended two of Blatter's executive committee colleagues from taking part in balloting after they had been accused of bribe-taking and vote-rigging by a British newspaper.

3 News reports that it has been revealed that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held secret meetings with FIFA's executive committee prior to being named the host of the upcoming World Cup.

http://www.3news.co.nz/Aussie-World-Cup-delegate-calls-FIFA-corrupt/tabid/415/articleID/189688/Default.aspx

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/08/AR2010120803773.html

http://www.flyernews.com/articles/id/6351

Obama's Surprise Trip to Afghanistan


ABC News reports that President Obama made his second visit to Afghanistan on Saturday to speak to U.S. troops. Obama spoke to troops to raise morale before the holidays. The White House kept Obama's trip to Afghanistan in secrecy for security reasons by saying he would be speaking today about the job reports. After a thirteen hour flight he arrived at Bagram Air Base around 8:30 p.m.

Fox News reports that Obama encouraged the troops to push on with the mission. His visit came a year and two days after he announced the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

ABC News reports that Obama said the National Security Team will review the plan that was made a year ago for the Afghanistan War, but that was not the reason he came to Bagram, Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief thanked roughly four thousand troops.

Fox News reports that Obama made this visit on a day when the November Job Report was released. The report shows that 9.8 percent unemployment, the worst rate in the past seven months. The Underemployment rate is at 17 percent. Fox News reports that this is the fourth time that Obama has been outside of the country when the employment numbers have been released.

ABC the President planned to meet with President Karzai, General Petraeus, and Absitor Eikenberry. He was unable to fly to the meet the officials because of the weather, and spoke with them over the phone.


Israeli WIldfire

CBS News reports that this is the worst wildfire in Israeli history. Despite efforts by Israeli firefighters and crews from around the world. The fire has killed 41 citizens and forced seventeen thousand others to leave their homes. Two teenage boys arrested for negligent conduct.

CNN reports that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel did not prepare itself in any type of manner for this intensive of a forest fire. High winds and drought contributed to the rapid spread of the wildfire. Roni Sofar, a photographer witnessed a bus, carrying prison cadets on their way to evacuation, catch on fire. In less than a minute the bus and people inside were on fire. The photographer, along with the other drivers on the road made a U-turn in an effort to escape the flames, only to be met by another wall of fire. Sofar chose to drive through the flames, and he and his passengers escaped unharmed. The other drivers, including two police cars and the bus, stayed on the road to wait for rescue. These forty drivers and passengers were killed by the fire.

CBS News reports that the fire has been spreading for three days in Northern Israel. Firefighting aircrafts and helicopters from the Region, European Union, and Russia have come to aid the efforts. The United States sent the Supertanker to help. Despite all the help, officials admit the wildfires are "out of control" and could take a week to control
.
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2010/12/04/israel-wildfire.html

Sex Offender Accused of Sexually Assaulting 2-Year-Old

CBS San Francisco News reports a registered sex offender raped a 2-year-old girl inside the Dollar Store in Union City, CA. The girl was shopping with her aunt and grandmother and had been unsupervised for less than a minute when the incident took place.

ABC 7News reports in an interview with Police Captain Brian Foley that "the child was out of the her sight for maybe thirty seconds". Investigators say that the girl had left her aunt to return a ribbon to the Christmas wrapping section. Eugene Ramos, 36, of Union City grabbed the girl and took her to an adjoining aisle. Foley said that as the grandmother approached the aisle she could see that an unknown male had the child pinned to the ground, with both hers and his pants down. When discovered, Ramos pulled up his pants and fled the store.

CBS San Francisco News reports that two good samaritans were able to catch Ramos. Police say that DeMario Hawkins was standing outside the store collecting donations when Ramos tried to flee the scene. Hawkins said he chased Ramos past nine stores, before the man tried to fight him. Thats when the second good samaritan, 55-year-old Sammy Johnson stepped in. Johnson said he tackled Ramos to the ground, sat on him, and called 911. "I'm not a hero, I was a helping hand," said Hawkins. The Union City Police gave Hawkins and Johnson an award for their help in the arrest.

ABC 7 News reports that Ramos has a prior conviction for the attempted rape of a 7-year-old Hayward girl from 2003.

This is a notable story because it shows a reporting discrepancy similar to the Powderhorn Park story. In the ABC coverage of the story the word rape was used, but in the CBS story the term "sexually assaulted" was used. Because of the connotations that accompany the word rape, it should be used cautiously only when the act was what the public believes is "rape".
This story is also notable because of the way the two news stations focused on different aspects of the incident for their broadcast. ABC News presented the story with the hard facts and indepth reporting from witnesses about what happened. CBS presented the story focusing on the good samaritans. They put more emphasis on the stories behind the two men that caught the suspect than the suspect. I think that both stations did a good job reporting the story, but ABC had a stronger report of the news element.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2010 is the previous archive.

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