Recently in National News Category

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.

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

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.


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.

The NY Times reported that Tyler Clementi,18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University in New Jersey, commit suicide on September 22 three days after his roommate streamed a video of him having sexual intimacy with a man.

This story has a compelling lead that sets the scene for the article. The New York Times opens with, "It started with a Twitter message on Sept. 19, 'Roommate asked for the room til midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.'"

By setting up the story with this type of action from the night of the incident it makes the reader feel like they are "in the know" on a personal level. This style of setting up the story eases the the reader into the harsh reality that this choice of action by the roommate led to Clementi's suicide. Suicide is a very hard topic to read and write about, so this helps to make it seem more personal, not like it is just another news story.

The New Yorker reports that Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson river in an apparent suicide.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that Clementi posted a note on his Facebook page the day of his death saying, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."

The New York Times reports that Clementi's roommate, Dahrun Ravi,18, stated on Twitter that his roommate was gay, but according to classmates at Rutgers University it is unclear what Clementi's orientation actually is.

The New York Times reports that it appears that Ravi tried to make another attempt to broadcast Clementi's personal life. On September 21 he posted a message on Twitter saying, "Anyone with ichat, I dare you to chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."

The Middlesex County prosecutor's office said Clementi's roommate, Dahrun Ravi, 18, and another classmate, Molly Wei, 18, have each been charged with two counts of invasion of privacy. The most serious charges could lead to a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

The New York Times reports that Ravi and Wei stated that the initial broadcast was an accident, but became the gossip of the campus.

The New York Times reports that Rutgers officials would not say whether or not the two students have been suspended. Rutgers officials would not say whether the two suspects had been suspended. In a statement on Wednesday, University President Richard L. McCormick said, "It is more clear than ever that we need strongly to reassert our call for civility and responsibility for each other."

Clementi's family issued a statement on Wednesday confirming the suicide. "Tyler was a fine young man and a distinguished musician, " the statement read. "The family is heartbroken beyond words." Thomas Jung,19, who shared a music stand with Clementi in the orchestra said, "He loved music. He was very dedicated. I couldn't tell if anything was wrong."

This type of article showcases a more personal news story because Clementi's decision to commit suicide was triggered by the hurtful actions of his roommate and classmate. This story provides the hard facts of the story, the police reports, university statements, and events that took place, but does so in a way that does not take away from the magnitude of the event. The choice to release say that it was a suicide was made by the family, because of the bullying that provoked it. In most cases, suicide deaths are not reference which also makes this a notable article. This case has repeatedly been in the news since the incident occurred in late September, which shows that it was an important topic that has left lasting effects on the family, Rutger's University Policies, and students that attend Rutgers University.

The U.S. Government's Response to Climate Change

The New Yorkers introduces the issue of the United States regulation policy for climate change by introducing Darrell Issa, a Republican representative from California who will become the chairman of the Oversight Committee. The introduction and description of Issa in the first paragraph sets the scene for the upcoming discussion of the issue of climate change. Similar to creating a vivid opening scene, the use of this description pulls the reader in to want to keep reading the story.

The New Yorker reports that as the next chairman of the Oversight Committee, Issa wants to investigate the climate scientists. "We're going to want to have a do-over," said Issa.

According to the New Yorker, Issa's priorities reflect those of the other Republicans in the House. Providing the quote from John Boehner,the incoming House Speaker, "The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, that it is harmful to our environment, is almost comical," to express this perspective.

The New Yorker reports that the possibility for government action to combat the climate change were slim even before the 2010 Elections. The American Clean Energy and Security Act that was approved in June of 2009 to cap the nation's emissions would not have provided adequate regulations to cut down emissions.

The New Yorker reports that for past two decades, under leadership from both parties, the United States has ignored science and failed to implement necessary regulations to control climate change.

The New Yorker concludes that without the support of the United States, there is no way to make progress on reducing emissions globally.


The USA Today reports, the Hickory Police say testing has matched the bone fragment with the DNA of 10-year-old Zahra Baker from North Carolina. The remains were found in an area close to where the girl's stepmother used to live. The police found the girl's prosthetic leg before they discovered the bone.

The Star Tribune reports, the police found the bone in some brush alongside the prosthetic leg earlier this month. Authorities revealed that one of the bones was found five miles away from the other remains. "We have recovered enough physical evidence to think we have found Zahra," Hickory Police Chief Tom Adkins said.

The Charlotte Observer reports that no one has been charged in Zahra's disappearance, and Adkins did not make any announcements about suspects on Friday. Zahra was reported missing on Oct. 9 by her father, Adam Baker, 33, and her stepmother, Elisa, 42. District Attorney James Gaither Jr. said the investigation into the homicide is ongoing.

According to the USA Today, Zahra's stepmother has been charged with obstruction of justice. Police say she admitted to writing the fake ransom note that was found the day after Zahra was reported missing.

The Star Tribune reports that Elisa Baker is currently in jail. She has not been charged with Zahra's death and has recently been cooperating with the police. She led them to the areas where the remains were found.

The USA Today reports that Zahra's father Adam Baker was arrested on charges unrelated to Zahra's disappearance. He is free on bail, but the police reported that he has not cooperated.

According to the Star Tribune, Zahra was diagnosed with bone cancer five years ago. She had her leg amputated and underwent chemotherapy, but still had partial hearing loss.

According to the Star Tribune, Zahra was born in Australia and moved to North Carolina two years after her father met his soon-to-be wife online. Zahra's friends and relatives from Australia described her as an outgoing and happy girl, and said that she didn't want to come the the U.S.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Emily Dietrich, birth mother who gave up Zahra as a baby, headed to the Hickory house where Zahra lived on Friday.

Analysis:
This is a notable story because it is a very rare situation. The fact that Zahra was a 10-year-old bone cancer survivor who had recently moved to the United States from Australia added to the importance of the story. The Charlotte Observer reports that Zahra's disappearance and homicide has become one of the most high-profile cases for a missing child in North Carolina. Anytime a homicide case involves a child it is a notable news story. The articles that are cited below are updated news stories, like the lab we did in class on spot news. As I was reading the Star Tribune article it was updated and I was able to see the different parts that were added to the article. I found that the Charlotte Observer covered this story with the most depth, most likely because they are the local newspaper and were the first to pick up on the story. The Star Tribune (article by Associated Press) went into depth about the background of each person in the story. The USA Today provided a brief explanation of the story and had a link to the Charlotte Observer story.


Investigator Found BP Took No Shortcuts in Oil Spill

By Annie Favreau
The lead investigator for the BP oil spill said on Monday that he found no evidence that BP had taken safety shortcuts to save money.

The New York Times reported that Fred H. Bartlitt Jr., the lead investigator, disputed the findings of other investigators who accused BP and its partners Halliburton and Transocean of cutting corners to speed the completion of the well.

According to the Seer Press, Bartlitt did agree with the plaintiff's complaints that the BP employees ignored the results of a pressure test completed right before the explosion. The results of the pressure test should have sent up a warning flag for the workers, but no one reported any concern. Bartlitt also said that a lot of the evidence about the oil spill is at the bottom of the ocean and may never be obtained.

The New York Times reported that Bartlitt said, many critical questions about the accident remain unanswered. Bartlitt commented that officials do not know what caused the failure of the cement at the bottom of the well, why employees tried to close the well after failing the important pressure test, or why employees did not realize gas and oil where gushing from the well.

"To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety," said Bartlitt, defending his stance in his presentation on Monday, in the New York Times report.

Forbes reported, that Bartlitt's conclusion limits the potential liability of BP and also creates some skepticism. Forbes energy writer Christopher Helman said it is, "generally accepted wisdom among oil and gas insiders that of course BP cut corners to finish Macondo as quickly as possible."

Even with the skepticism, Forbes reported that BP shares rose by 2.9% on Tuesday after Bartlitt's announcement that BP did not cut safety corners in an attempt to save money.

seerpress.com/bp-took-no-shortcuts-in-oil-spill/13219/

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