April 16, 2009

Former Ill. governor wants to join a reality show

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who pleaded not guilty to corruption charges on Tuesday, wants to join a reality television series, starring celebrities in Costa Rica.

NBC's "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" is a program similar to CBS' "Survivor" -- contestants perform enduring physical tasks in the middle of a Costa Rican jungle, the Associated Press reported.

The obstacle for Blagojevich -- a federal judge must give permission for Blagojevich to leave the country.

Blagojevich currently faces 16 federal charges and close to 300 years in prison for corruption charges that included selling off President Barack Obama's Senate seat. The former governor was ordered to surrender his passport following his December arrest.

Following his impeachment, Blagojevich has kept himself busy. "Since his arrest, he has announced a deal to write a book, hosted a Chicago radio talk show and made the New York talk show circuit, chatting it up with everyone from David Letterman to the women of 'The View,'" the Associated Press reported.

Blagojevich could earn up to $80,000 per episode if he's given permission to join the reality television show.

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April 12, 2009

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire steps down

Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire is stepping down after eight years behind the team.

Lemaire announced his decision after the Wild's season-ending victory over Columbus on Saturday night, the Associated Press reported.

"There comes a time when you know it's the right time to go. And I know this," he said.

Lemaire hasn't ruled out coaching for another team.

"We'll see. It's exciting. It's an exciting job. I was behind the bench just before the game and I felt I was getting really tight because this is something I've done for 15 years, and I like it," Lemaire said.

Speculation on a replacement has centered on Houston Aeros coach Kevin Constantine, a former NHL coach, since he was hired by the Wild after the 2006-07 season, the Pioneer Press reported.

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Red River's second crest

The Red River is expected to crest at 38 to 40 feet later this week in Fargo, N.D., a National Weather Service hydrologist said Sunday, the Star Tribune reported.

The news comes less than two weeks after the record set on March 28.

"That spike is expected Thursday, Friday or Saturday, said hydrologist Mike DeWeese," the Star Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, the Sheyenne River is also giving local residents something else to worry about. Its crest is expected to reach record levels later this week.

"We've been waiting, watching, waiting. It's taking its toll, no doubt about it," Gene Wicklund said of the rising Sheyenne River, which flows near Wicklund's house south of Horace and feeds into the larger Red.

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New dog in the White House

A promise on the campaign trail finally comes true: the first family welcomed a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog named Bo to the White House.

President Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, picked out the black-and-white dog, a White House official told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The Obama girls named the dog after singer "Bo" Diddley, a reference to first lady Michelle Obama's father, nicknamed "Diddley."

The dog is a gift from Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who owns several Portuguese water dogs, the Associated Press reported.

"We couldn't be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha," Kennedy said in a statement. "We love our Portuguese water dogs and know that the girls - and their parents - will love theirs, too."

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American captain rescued from pirate Somali ship

The captain of the Maersk Alabama was freed Sunday after having been held hostage since Wednesday by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a U.S. official told CNN.

Capt. Richard Philips is uninjured and in good condition, while three of the four pirates have been killed. The fourth pirate is in custody.

Capt. Philips was taken aboard the nearby USS Bainbridge, which has been working to rescue the captain since Wednesday.

Nineteen American sailors guarded by U.S. Navy Seals reached safe harbor in Kenya's northeast port of Mombasa on Saturday night, the Associated Press reported.

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama Wednesday morning. Capt. Philips sacrificed himself as a hostage in order to save the crew.

"He saved our lives!" second mate Ken Quinn, of Bradenton, Florida, said. "He's a hero."

"An attempt by Phillips to escape from the 28-foot covered lifeboat was thwarted by a pirate, who dove into the Indian Ocean after him," CNN reported. According to Pentagon officials, the pirates tied him up afterwards.

The Alabama resumed its course for Mombasa on Thursday. The crew will stay on board while FBI conducts an investigation, said Maersk president and CEO John Reinhart.

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March 15, 2009

Red Cross Described 'Torture' at CIA Jails

A secret report from the International Committee of the Red Cross strongly implies that the Bush administration's treatment of Al-Qaeda captives "constitutes torture," violating the international law prohibiting torture and maltreatment of prisoners.

The 2007 report was an account of "alleged physical and psychological brutality inside CIA "black site" prisons and states that some U.S. practices amounted to 'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,'" the Star Tribune reported. These practices of torture are strongly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

Many of the details of alleged mistreatment had been reported previously, but the ICRC report is the most authoritative account and the first to use the word "torture" in a legal context, The Washington Post reported.

"At least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007 but barred from public release by ICRC guidelines intended to preserve the humanitarian group's strict policy of neutrality in conflicts," the Star Tribune reported.

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Minnesota Senate recount nearing an end

Closing arguments were heard Friday as the Minnesota Senate trial comes close to the end.

As the trial nears the end, a few obstacles still exist. The panel of judges have yet to rule on a bid by Franken to dismiss all or part of Coleman's claims, the Star Tribune reports.

The judges have yet to decide on the absentee ballots that Coleman claims were wrongly rejected because of errors by election officials or voters. (Star Tribune) After hearing from more than 100 witnesses and receiving thousands of pages of evidence, the three judges are under no deadline to rule on Coleman's lawsuit, KSTP reported.

Franken leads Coleman by 225 votes. Coleman wanted 4,800 votes counted at the beginning of the trial, but after a series of rulings by the judges, Coleman is now down to 1,360.

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Bernanke: Recovery to begin next year

The United States recession could end this year if the government successfully stabilizes the banking system, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

In a rare television interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Bernanke seemed optimistic that recovery would come next year.

"We've seen some progress in the financial markets, absolutely," Bernanke said. "But until we get that stabilized and working normally, we're not going to see recovery," CNN reported.

Bernanke stressed his central idea to his recovery plan was to get banks to lend more freely and to push the financial markets to work normally.

However, Bernanke said, the unemployment rate will continue to rise, climbing past 8.1 percent. There are some economists that believe the unemployment rate will hit 10 percent by the end of the year, the Associated Press reported.

"But we do have a plan. We're working on it. And, I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we'll see the recession coming to an end probably this year." (Associated Press)

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March 5, 2009

Florida woman calls 911 3 times over McNuggets

A Florida woman called 911 three times after a McDonald's employee informed her that they ran out of McNuggets, according to a police report obtained Tuesday.

Latreasa L. Goodman, 29, called police after the McDonald's cashier refused to give her a refund, saying it was against store policy and all sales were final.

"After police told Goodman the incident was not an emergency, Goodman replied, 'This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn't have McNuggets, I wouldn't have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don't want one. This is an emergency,'" MSNBC reported.

Police say Goodman was cited on a misuse of 911 charge, the Associated Press reports.

A McDonald's spokesman says Goodman should have been given a refund. (Associated Press)

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Rove and Miers to testify for prosecutor firings

Karl Rove and Harriet Myers agreed Wednesday to be questioned by the House Judiciary Committee over the firings of U.S. attorneys two years ago, settling a legal issue that was to be battled out in the courts.

The aides previously could not testify according to assertion of executive privilege from former President George W. Bush.

"The White House Counsel’s office played an active role in bringing the parties together towards an accommodation, an official told CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller." (CBS)

"Nine U.S. attorneys were fired. An internal Bush Justice Department investigation concluded that political considerations played a part in at least four of the dismissals," the Associated Press reports.

The agreement calls for Rove and Miers, Bush's top political adviser and White House counsel, to be interviewed by the House committee in closed testimony "under the penalty for perjury," House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich, said. Rove and Miers may be called for public testimony, according to the agreement.

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March 1, 2009

Iran demands apology from Hollywood

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants Hollywood to apologize to Iran for "insults and accusations against the Iranian nation," a top aide to the president said to a visiting Hollywood delegation Sunday.

Films such as "300" and "Not Without My Daughter" are "two clear examples of total lies," Javad Shamghadri, Ahmadinejad's advisor on the arts, said.

"The Iranian nation and its revolution has repeatedly and undeservedly been attacked by Hollywood movies," AMPAS president Sid Ganis said, reported ISNA, Iran's news agency.

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Speech Analysis

I'll be analyzing the structure of CNN coverage of Rush Limbaugh's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The lead effective tells the reader the who, what, where, and when of the speech without too much detail. Limbaugh's at the CPAC convention in Washington. The phrase "to take back the country" seems a little vague, and it doesn't seem like one of the strong points in his speech.

The lead is followed by two blocks of text -- quotes. I think if the writer would've condensed these two paragraphs, it would have been easier to follow. I don't like going from one quote directly into another. It looks too lengthy.

The fourth paragraph is the first one where I've found a bit of information that's remotely interesting: "Looking ahead to the 2012 election, Limbaugh said conservatives will have to choose the right candidate to take the country back." I think that this should've been included in the lead.

There is some sort of structure to the article, but it's not necessarily the same type as the one we've been learning about in class. It looks like point-quote-quote. This could be effective because Limbaugh is well-known for what he says.

One confusing aspect of this article is that the reactions to the speech are included in between these main points of the speech. I'd rather hear what the CNN political editor had to say farther down into the article.

I think that the writer included too many quotes instead of paraphrasing or summarizing some of the smaller ideas. I might as well have listened to the speech itself.

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Thief nabbed after boasting "smarter than police"

A 23-year-old man is in custody after allegedly stealing a car and calling 911 to brag to police that they would not catch him.

Police say the Duluth man stole gas from a gas station late Friday. He fled with a car he had allegedly stolen earlier in the night. (Pioneer Press)

A police officer spotted the stolen car 2 a.m. Friday and chased the man, who crashed into a guard rail and turned off his lights.

The man called dispatchers and told them he wouldn't get caught because he was "smarter than the police."

Police found the suspect 2 hours later after receiving phone call about a prowler near a home.

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Rare snowstorm hits Southeast and heads for Northeast

Officials in the Northeast are preparing for 13 to 15 inches of snow from a rare March snowstorm that has covered much of the the Southeast with snow on Sunday.

"The icy blast threatened to drop up to a foot of snow in the Philadelphia area, 13 inches in New York and 15 inches across southern New England late Sunday," the Star Tribune reports.

The snowstorm headed for Northeast is expected to last up to 18 hours, with Boston expected to see 15 inches of snowfall, the National Weather Service said Sunday afternoon. (CNN)

Airlines have preemptively canceled flights Saturday in New York City's regional airports.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced more than 1,300 sanitation workers stood ready to spread salt and plow streets.

More than 210 churches in Georgia had to cancel morning church services. The snowfall delayed flights and rendered roads treacherous.

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Conjoined twins separated, recovering after long surgery

Conjoined Egyptian twin boys were successfully separated in Saudi Arabi in Saturday and are expected to lead fully normal lives, officials said.

The surgery took about 15 hours. Separating the boys' urinary system was a major challenge, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the Saudi minister of health, said to CNN. They are in stable condition.

The surgeries are performed free as part of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz's philanthropic initiative.

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