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October 30, 2007

Nanny shot in the back

Katherine Olson, a woman answering an online nannying ad on Craigslist, was shot in the back by Michael John Anderson, a 19-year-old from Savage, the Star Tribune reported Tuesday.

"Police found a gun--a .357 Magnum--in Anderson's house, as well as blood stains and drag marks on stairs," the StarTrib reported. A neighbor also said that they saw Olson's car parked in front of Anderson's house for over two hours Thursday, the StarTrib said.

The suspect denied having any phone contact with Olson, and also said he had not used Craigslist since January although the email address in the nanny ad placed matched his.

Anderson lives with his parents, however, no one else was home at the time of the shooting.

The suspect was charged with second-degree murder in Scott County Tuesday.

October 28, 2007

FEMA anti-fraud efforts in California

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid an estimated $1 billion in fraudulent claims in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita; FEMA officials said they are determined to prevent similar abuses in the case of the California fires.

California officials said that a total of about 2,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed so far, compared to the 300,0000 affected by the hurricane.

FEMA inspectors must now visit homes to confirm the damage before distributing money.

Gap uses child sweatshop workers to make clothes

WCCO reported Sunday that a British newspaper (The Observer) found children as young as 10 making Gap clothes in a sweatshop in New Delhi, India, which the company planned to sell in the West.

Some of the children had been working 16-hour days to hand-sew clothing; they said they were not being paid at the unidentified Gap supplier because their employer said they were still trainees, said the source.

The Observer quoted a boy who said the children were hit with a rubber pipe or had oily cloths stuffed into their mouths for crying or not working hard enough, WCCO said.

The British paper also said the sweatshop was "smeared in filt, the corridors flowing with excrement from a flooded toilet."

Craigslist nanny ad ends in slaying of St. Olaf grad

A 24-year-old girl was found dead in the trunk of her car in Burnsville Friday night, according to the Star Tribune.

Katherine Olson answered a nannying ad placed on Craigslist by, who police believe to be, a 19-year-old Savage man. Olson was last seen by friends on Thursday morning before she went to Savage to meet "someone in savage about the (nannying) job."

The Savage man is being held in the Scott County jail pending charges, which could be filed as soon as Sunday.

Olson's body was found after the police tried to notify her that her purse had been found (a result of what they thought was theft) in a garbage can at Pacer Park. Her roommate said Olson had not been seen since Thursday morning and after further investigation they found a bloody towel at the site.

This is the first homicide in Savage since 2000.

Organic produce proven to be more nutritious

According to London's The Times, organic food, particularly fruits and vegetables, are more nutritious than ordinary produce and may help lengthen people's lives. The evidence is based on "the biggest study into organic food."

The study found that organic fruit and vegetables contain as much as 40 percent more antioxidants and higher levels of beneficial minerals, according to the article.

Originally, the (British) Food Standards Agency said there is no difference between organic and ordinary produce, but they are "reviewing" the evidence before deciding whether to change its advice.

University of Minnesota girls audition for Playboy's "Girls of the Big Ten"

Fifteen girls from the University of Minnesota auditioned Tuesday for Playboy's "Girls of the Big Ten" pictorial that will feature girls who attend colleges in the Big Ten conference, according to the Minnesota Daily.

One girl, referred to as "Brittany" in the article, said that it would mean a lot to her to be chosen from the audition. "I love Playboy and I look up to the girls as something to aspire to," "Brittany" said. Brittany is a second-year grad student studying veterinary medicine.

However, Mia Ljung, the faculty adviser for the Women's Student Activist Collective at the University, said that "to portray college girls in a sexualized way is like kind of cutting off their brains and just showing their bodies."

Linda Kenney, Richard Higashi and Kim Mizuno make up the Playboy trio and are touring around the country to schools to hold auditions.

Girls can choose to audition fully nude, partially nude or implied nude.

October 21, 2007

Analysis: event coverage

On Thursday, Oct. 18, London's The Times advanced the Spice Girls winter world (reunion) tour. The girl music group announced that they are adding more UK dates to their tour, such as in Manchester on January 23 and 24.

The advance story only makes reference to one source, a press conference held in June in which the five girls met to announce the world-wide reunion tour. Reference to the source is included in the following paragraph of the article:

"When a primped and preened Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Melanie Brown and Geri Halliwell held a press conference in June to announce they were reforming for an 11-date world tour, they planned to play just one UK concert at London’s 02 Arena. After the concert sold out in 38 seconds, the band added three further dates, but demand only increased. Four months on, the Spice Girls are now committed to playing 17 shows at London’s O2 Arena."

The source attribution seems to apply only to the information in this paragraph.

The angle of the story focuses on the fact that the Spice Girls had already planned on visiting certain UK venues, but that due to their high demand they gradually keep adding dates to the tour.

The author includes background information on the group's initial intentions in holding a reunion tour, specifics about the concert locations and dates, as well as the impact the tour will have on the girls' professional reputations, which adds more to the story than "this is what is happening, this is who is involved, and this is when it is taking place."

Suicidal boy opens fire during police standoff

A suicidal 15-year-old boy from St. Croix County, Wisconsin, shot about 100 rounds from a Hudson home during a standoff with police on Friday at about 9 p.m., according to the Star Tribune.

The incident began when the boy barricaded himself in a house with two shotguns and a .22 caliber pistol, according to the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office.

Police did not return gunfire and no one was injured.

After authorities negotiated with the boy for three hours, he finally surrendered at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The boy was taken to a Madison hospital for evaluation, the Star Tribune said on Saturday.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that the 15-year-old boy "waited until his parents left to see a movie and then called a couple of his friends, threatening suicide," accrording to St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead.

The boy likely be charged for "reckless endangerment and criminal damage to property," Hillstead said.

Addicts may be able to indulge at San Fransisco injection sites

San Fransisco health officials are in the process of opening the nation's first legal safe-injection room where drug addicts could shoot heroin, cocaine and other drugs under nurse supervision in hope of decreasing the city's high rate of fatal overdoses, the Minnesota Daily reported Friday.

The only facility similar to that in the potential plans is a 4-year-old Vancouver site where about 700 i.v. users a day use narcotics under nurse supervision, where the public health department co-sponsored a symposium, the Daily included in the article.

Organizers of the event said that it could take years to get such a facility "up and running."

"Sixty-five similar facilities exist in 27 cities in eight countries, but no other U.S. cities have considered creating one," according to Hilary McQuie, Western director for the Harm Reduction Coalition.

Grant Colfax, director of HIV prevention for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, estimated that there are between 11,000 and 15,000 intravenous drug users in San Francisco, most of whom are homeless men.

Soggy cereal problem finally solved

Daniel Finkelstein posted a blog on Thursday in London's The Times regarding a solution to "one of the most vexing breakfast time issues": preventing your cereal from getting soggy if you are, for some reason or another, slow to eat it.

has created a new cereal bowl with a shelf that keeps cereal fresh while you eat it.

The bowl consists of a bottom area where the milk goes, and the "shelf," where the cereal goes. There is an opening on the side where a controlled amount of cereal soaks up some of the milk.

October 20, 2007

Nobel Prize winning scientist claims black people are 'less intelligent'

According to London's The Times, the respected scientist and Nobel Prize winner, James Watson, who was part of the team which discovered the structure of DNA, made the claim that black people are less intelligent than white people; he plans to speak to an audience at London's Science Museum on Friday to promote his new book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science.

Watson, 79, made the controversial remarks about blacks' intellectual inferiority in an interview with The Sunday Times.

He said that discrimination should not be based on color, as “there are many people of color who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level."

The occurrence of such controversial remarks is not a first for Watson, as he has been known in the past to share alleged scientific claims and personal opinions regarding abortion and homosexuality, black people having stronger sex drives, and genetically manufacturing "pretty" girls.

The Times also reported that he has written that “there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so?.

The genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence levels could possibly be found within the next decade, Watson said.

“It is sad to see a scientist of such achievement making such baseless, unscientific and extremely offensive comments," Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Wednesday.

Northwest Airlines to begin nonstop flights to Paris

According to the Star Tribune, Northwest Airlines is planning to announce a new nonstop, daily service between the Twin Cities and Paris on Monday during a news conference at the Hotel Sofitel in Bloomington.

NWA will use "a new Airbus A330 to fly the Paris route," the Star Tribune said.

Northwest vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Lee, declined to confirm whether the news about the nonstop route is true. However, Northwest CEO, Doug Steenland implied in conversations with reporters Thursday that the new international service is likely to be put in effect. He also mentioned that the Twin Cities gets a lot of international service for its size.

Information as to when the service would start is not yet available.

Steenland met with reporters Thursday to "focus on the delivery of the 32nd Airbus A330 for Northwest's fleet," reported the Star Tribune. The A330s have on-demand video offerings for all coach and business class passengers, and the front of the cabin has lie-flat seats for business class passengers.

"International air service is very important to Minnesota's economy in terms of developing trade relations and visitors from other parts of the world," Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said.

Northwest is expanding the international portion of its business at about four percent each year, the Star Tribune said.

October 14, 2007

Analysis: meeting/press conference

CNN.com covered a story on Saturday, October 13 with the headline "Bush crusades for free trade as support cools." In his weekly radio address at the Radisson Miami Hotel on Saturday, Bush encouraged Americans to support free trade, as "protectionism" will not support economic expansion. The Associated Press's article, which is about 500 words in length, includes four direct quotes in total. The rest of the article paraphrases the message Bush relayed in the address. The quotes capture and support the basic point of the article and, though they are accurate, they seem to be pulled to fit the context of the story.

Because the (White House) press release is so lengthy as it precisely provides Bush's speech word for word, the article has to be brief, but straightforward and easy to comprehend for the readers. The article interprets the press release well and translates the jargon-filled vocabulary so the audience will be able to comprehend the issues addressed in Bush's speech.

October 13, 2007

Bodyless feet found in a Chicago suburban street

Two human feet detached at the ankles were found Friday night in the intersection of a south Chicago suburb, according to county medical authorities, reported the Chicago Tribune Saturday.

The feet were found at about 9:30 p.m. and seemed to have been recently cut, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. The feet appeared to be those of a white male.

No other body parts were found and no further information was available about the victim, though Cook County police are further investigating the situation, the Chicago Tribune said.

Beer prices rice due to drought continuation in Australia

The price of beer and other Australian staple products such as bread and meat are expected to rise in New South Wales due to a prolonged drought, according to The Australian.

September's lack of rack put 80 percent of the state into a drought, according to NSW Prime Industries Minister Ian Macdonald. He also said that the estimations for next winter's March and April crops have been lost.

Price increases of up to ten percent are expected within about a month, The Australian reported.

"Wheat and barley are among the crops hardest hit with the knock-on effect hitting beer drinkers and raising the price of bread," The Australian said.

The barley shortage is not expected to affect the taste of beer, however, according to Macdonald.

Antisocial violinists could have instruments seized

Two of Britain's classical violinists have been told that their instruments could be taken away from them by antisocial behavior officers if they continue to play Mozart or practice scales at home, reported London's The Times Saturday.

Oliver Morris and Hazel Ross, both 25, are graduates of the Royal Northern College of Music striving for a successful career as freelance violinists for major British orchestras.

Contrary to complaints reported by a neighbor to the Manchester City Council, the couple claim that they rarely practice at home for more than two hours and that they do not practice every day nor in the evenings, The Times reported.

The couple has received a formal warning, signifying that their behavior must stop or else they are subject to forcible entry to their flat so their violins can be seized.

The musicians are worried that this may jeopardize the future of their careers.

Shortly after they moved in to the suburban development, Woodlawn Court, Morris said he visited each neighbor "to tell them that they might hear the sound of violins and that if they wished for peace and quiet to let them know."

The couple is considering moving as Ross said, “We like it here and are very happy here apart from this, but as musicians, we need somewhere we feel comfortable to practice. We are quiet people really, who like to keep ourselves to ourselves.?

Manchester council's director said the situation could have been settled in a more rational manner. She also said that she "will investigate this case to bring about an early resolution in a more satisfactory way and regrets that a letter was issued indicating legal action at this early stage," according to The Times.

Mercury spill empties Eden Prairie school

A mercury spill was discovered Thursday, forcing an Eden Prairie charter school to be evacuated, reported the Star Tribune.

A combined total of 290 students and staff members evacuated Eagle Ridge Academy on Thursday morning after approximately two teaspoons of spilled mercury were found in a storage area, the Star Tribune said.

Although no one was seriously harmed, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent workers to examine students and faculty members after the evacuation. Affected areas of the school were sealed off by the Hopkins Fire Department, according to Eden Prairie spokeswoman Joyce Lorenz.

Classes were canceled for the remainder of Thursday after the evacuation, and the school remained closed on Friday for cleanup.

"When not contained in a thermometer or air-tight container, mercury can accumulate in tiny spaces and emit vapors. If inhaled, it can cause neurological and kidney damage," the Star Tribune reported.

Officials said they do not know who spilled the mercury.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty passed a law that prohibits mercury in all public and private K-12 schools this year, which requires the schools to stop buying mercury by the end of the year and to discard all mercury and related instruments containing the toxin by 2009. This law does not, however, apply to thermostats, the Star Tribune said.

October 9, 2007

Unsubstantiated child porn allegations against ex-school board member

St. Paul police claim that the allegations former St. Paul School Board Member Al Oertwig viewed child porn last March in a public library are unfounded, reported the Star Tribune Tuesday.

The accusations caused Oertwig, 62, to resign from his position in April to save the organization from distraction and because he lost his credibilty as a board member, the Star Tribune said.

"My ability to be a spokesperson on behalf of kids was diminished," Oertwig said.

Although there is no evidence to prove any child porn viewing, a folder linked to Oertwig's library identification number did contain adult erotica and pornography, according to the police report. Oertwig did not blatantly admit to viewing the images, but he made an ambiguous statement that could be inferred as admitting guilt.

Oertwig does not have any intention to run for the school board in the future.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press provided additional information in their report on Monday:

"On March 30, Metropolitan State University security called St. Paul police to the campus library and reported a community user had been viewing what appeared to be child porn on a library computer, according to a police report."

A security officer described the porn the man had been watching as "three adult males wearing leather hoods over their faces and having sex with three juvenile males." The identification number of the man using the computer at the time belonged to Oertwig, the Pioneer Press reported.

When the computer files were investigated none of the images matched the descriptions and did not contain minors, according to a supplemental police report.

Regardless, the images would not have determined identity of party.

October 7, 2007

Twin Cities Marathon

The Twin Cities Marathon race started Sunday at 8 a.m. by the Metrodome and ended by the state capitol in St. Paul, reported WCCO news.

The humidity index of 60 percent made for less-than-ideal running conditions; nevertheless the first man, Mykola Antonenko, finished the race in about 2 hours, 14 minutes and the first woman racer, Svetlana Ponomarenko, finished in about 2 hours and 34 minutes. Both winners received a $25,000 prize.

A total of 16,000 participants registered in both the marathon and 10-mile race combined.

On Saturday, one day prior to the day of the race, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that in addition to spectators and countless runners, there will be an "eclectic lineup of entertainment along the race route, including a bluegrass band, a clarinet ensemble, a choral group, Japanese drums, Irish pipes and a state Supreme Court Justice Alan Page on his tuba."

October 6, 2007

Scientists discover appendix's use

Scientists have developed the theory that the appendix does, in fact, serve a purpose, which is to produce and protect good germs of the digestive system, reported the Star Tribune Saturday.

This conclusion is based on the theory of surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School.

"The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system," according to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. "Most of it is good and helps digest food."

However, sometimes bacteria in the intestines die or are "purged by disease." In such a case, the appendix's job is to re stabilize the body's digestive system.

Seventy-two-year-old man donates sperm to father grandchild

A 72-year-old man is going to donate sperm to try and help his son and daughter-in-law conceive a child due to the husband being infertile, The Times reported Saturday.

The case has caused controversy not because of the family relationships, but because of high level of risk that results from genetic damage accumulated by sperm as it ages. "Raised paternal age is a risk factor for autism, schizophrenia, achonodroplasia (dwarfism), Down's syndrome and congenital defects," The Times reported.

Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society said, "You could say that if everybody is happy they should go ahead, but God forbid if there if there’s a child born with a problem. It would be delicate to explain to that child that it might be the result of its grandfather’s 72-year-old sperm.?

The article states that it is, however, common for infertile men and women to use sperm and eggs donated by siblings.

October 5, 2007

Single mother fined $220,000 for music file sharing

Jammie Thomas, an Objibwe Native American and single mother from Brainerd was fined $220,000 for music piracy Thursday, according to London's The Times.

"The 30-year-old made legal history after refusing to pay an out-of-court settlement, as all others challenged over their behavior before her had done, but her failure to carry the case is likely to further embolden the music industry in its attempts to protect copyright," The Times said.

The Times said that Thomas has been ordered to pay a total of $9,250 for 24 songs that the case focused on, which is equal to almost five times the amount of her annual income. The record companies claim that she shared 1,702 songs in total through a Kazaa account.

Though she denied having a Kazaa account, the jury proved that the internet address "tereastarr" belonged to Thomas.

The Times' article brings up the argument that it cannot be proven that Jammie Thomas actually got on her computer and shared the files.

The RIAA has as advantage in winning trials because "it sets two precedents: It does not have to prove that a defendant’s computer had a file-sharing program installed when the infringement was detected; and that the defendant was at the keyboard when the infringements took place," The Times reported.

The news source is under the assumption that the fine will not be collected and is expected to leave Thomas bankrupt.

The Star Tribune's report of the story starts out specifically stating Jammie Thomas' annual income of $36,000.

The Star Tribune said that Thomas is not looking to receive financial help in order to pay off her $220,000 fine, but if she is offered it she will not necessarily decline either.

The only additional information the Star Tribune added to what The Times already contributed is that Thomas is the first person to fight a music piracy violation all the way to a trial.

October 2, 2007

Teenagers shoot DHL delivery driver

According to the Star Tribune, two teens decided to rob a DHL delivery on their way home from school Monday before shooting him.

Nathaniel Collins, 16, and Dempsey Brown, 17, were both charged with "felony first-degree assault and juveniles in possession with a gun," the Star Tribune reported. "Collins was also charged with being an accomplice after the shooting."

The two boys blamed each other for the shooting of driver Dwayne Greer, according to the criminal complaint.

After Greer tried to drive away from the boys who ordered him out of the car, he was hit in the pelvis by Brown. Doctors were afraid that paralysis may result from removing the bullet from his body; he was released from the hospital Monday, said the Star Tribune.

Collins said that Brown put the gun in his backpack, so he tried to get rid of it by bringing it to a friend's house, who ended up not being home.

Investigators, however, found three photos of the gun that Brown took with his cell phone shortly before the shooting, the news source added.