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November 27, 2007

Analysis: records/CAR

South Mississippi's WLOX 13 reported on November 11 that homes that were, at one point, meth "factories" are being sold before the new homeowners are informed of the house's history.

"An actual methamphetamine in a vapor form is actually released during the chemical process. It goes into the walls, the ventilation system; the ventilation system circulates it through the house. This stuff in and of itself is dangerous," Narcotics Task Force Commander, Curtis Spiers, said.

The article explains that Mississippi does not have laws that require the meth remains of the meth labs to be destroyed, WLOX said.

It appears that WLOX uses one public record to provide information within the article--police records. They directly explain that the records revealed that 125 (Mississippi) homes were once meth lab sites, which serve as homes to new, unsuspecting home owners.

The reporter did not necessarily need computer skills to find this public record source, searching online archives or the like was not required because the local police were able to supply more useful information. Perhaps this is owing to the fact that there may not be much published information on numbers of ex-meth-lab houses in Mississippi.

November 21, 2007

'Little Red Ship' sinks off Antarctica

The Explorer, a small cruise ship, sunk in the middle of the night, forcing 154 to endure hours of freezing temperatures in lifeboats before being rescued, reported the Star Tribune Friday.

The ship, known as the "little red ship" struck ice early on Friday, before the captain called 100 passengers and the crew of about 50 to the lecture hall, according to passengers' accounts of the incident.

The passengers were told that "water was creeping in through a fist-sized hole" in the ship's starboard, causing the power to fail as water flooded the engine room, reported the Star Trib.

At about 1:30 the passengers climbed into the lifeboats and inflatable craft, and waited for four hours in the 20-degree weather until two ships arrived, one of which took in all off the passengers.

The accident occurred north of the Antarctic Circle in an "island chain that is part of the Antarctic peninsula, which juts close to South America," reported the Star Tribune.

No injuries were reported, the Star Tribune said.

The Explorer was the first cruise ship to ever sink in the frigid Antarctic waters, the Star Tribune said.

Sleep deprivation linked to child obesity?

The Star Tribune reported on Wednesday, Oct 14 that "Elementary school children who don't get enough sleep in third grade are more likely than their peers to be overweight in sixth grade," according to a study examining the relationship between excess fat and sleep in children.

Studies have also found a correlation between adults' weight and their sleeping patterns, the Star Tribune said.

Children ages 9 to 12 who regularly got less than nine hours of sleep per night were at increased risk of being overweight, reported researchers led by University of Michigan pediatrician, Julie C. Lumeng. Sex, race, social status and home environment did not affect the results of the study.

Researchers found that for every additional hour of sleep beyond nine hours, a sixth-grade child was 20 percent less likely to be overweight.

The authors write that the study's findings suggest the link between obesity and sleep duration is caused by fluctuations of the body's metabolism and hormone levels that control weight.

"The National Sleep Foundation recommends that elementary school students sleep between 10 and 12 hours per night."

Drunk, naked man causes Delaware I-95 wrecks

A naked, drunk man was arrested after he caused three accidents by running into highway traffic, Delaware police said, reported the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Two people stopped to try to help Ardonas Gilbert, 26, who was running naked along the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 Monday night. He responded by curing and punching them, Delaware State Police said.

Gilbert then ran into traffic, causing three separate accidents as drivers tried to avoid him, police said.

Gilbert was charged with two counts of assault and a single count of "being drunk on a highway."

Coffee shop burglaries on the rise as holidays approach

Minneapolis-area coffee shops are advised to keep a close watch for burglars this weekend, as their activity tends to escalate during the holiday season, according to Sarah Mahmud, crime prevention specialist for Minneapolis police, reported the Star Tribune Wednesday.

Caribou Coffee locations have been a "favored target," Minneapolis Police said.

As Black Friday's holiday shopping "kickoff" prompts thieves to become more active, Mahmud said shop owners should make their bank deposits frequently and should also avoid leaving large amounts of money in their safes.

"These are some very professional burglars who get in fast and out fast," Mahmud said.

November 20, 2007

Minnesota Norwegians resent Norway's decision to close career consulate

Norway recently announced it is shutting its Upper Midwest career consulate, upsetting many of the Norwegian-Americans that populate the Minneapolis area, reported the New York Times Tuesday.

The consulate opened in 1906, and is a "point of pride" for the Upper Midwest, particularly Minnesota, which claims 850,000 people of Norwegian descent.

"We're very proud of our roots, and we've tried really hard to preserve them," Shirley Hansen, one of the knitting club members at Minneapolis's Ingebretsen's Norwegian market, said. "Norway is near and dear to us, but now we feel like maybe they haven't considered us quite so important."

Norwegian officials say the decision to close the consulate was based on money issues. An official at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, Jannicke Jaeger, said it cost approximately $2 million per year to operate the consulate.

“In part, this is an image problem about how Norway views us,? Jeff Mueller, president of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce for the Upper Midwest, said. “Norway looks at us as ‘that’s where our ancestors went.’ ?

New consulates will be opening in China, whose economy is "booming," as well in Spain, where many Nowegians retire, The New York Times said.

“It’s silly to think that this place is somehow going to break the budget for Norway,? said Anne Kanten, a resident of Milan, Minn., which calls itself Norwegian Capital U.S.A. “What’s more Norwegian than Minnesota, anyway??

November 18, 2007

Local first-graders express Thanksgiving-season gratitude

The Pioneer Press asked local first-graders to write (and draw) about what they are thankful for, and included a selection of the 500+ submissions in an article posted Saturday.

The topics were wide-ranging, as some children expressed thanks for the customary "family and friends," whereas others were thankful for "the Army" and "xylophones," the Pioneer Press said.

A few submissions that were selected by the Pioneer Press include:

"I am thankful for presidents. They keep us safe. They help the city. They love us! Forever and ever!" -Ansel Sanchez, 6, Apple Valley; Paideia

"I am thankful for Vaseline and ChapStick for my chapped lips." -Holly Becker, 6, Eagan; Deerwood Elementary

"I am thankful for xylophones because they make good music." -Alexa Murray, 6, West St. Paul; Somerset Heights Elementary

"I am thankful for my grandpa, who died, because he and I drank root beer floats." -Logan Finkel, 7, St. Paul; Somerset Heights Elementary

"I am thankful my mommy's heart healed. I love my mom. I hope she gets better." -Luke Wasson, 6, Falcon Heights; Minnehaha Academy

"I like guinea piggies because they smell me. Two guinea pigs nibble on my finger, and it tickles me. They think I'm a carrot." -Erik Haider, 7, Mendota Heights, Somerset Heights Elementary School

TXT-U to aid in campus emergency notification

University of Minnesota students, faculty and staff now have the option to receive emergency notifications via text messages, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The emergency notification method was introduced Friday, and is intended to communicate "school closings and emergency situations" throughout campus, according to a news release attributed in the Daily's article.

"Text messaging is a quick way to reach people, particularly when time is of the essence," Vice President for University Services, Kathleen O'Brien, said.

The service, which is free (excluding standard service provider charges), is available online for students to register.

Tips for women battling a bulging stomach

According to the Star Tribune, surveys reveal that the stomach is the body part women most often say they would like to change.

The flat stomach that these women desire can be attained by: reducing intake of artificial sweeteners; eating fewer high-fat meals, avoiding lactose-containing foods; avoiding antibiotics if possible; decreasing or releasing stress, the Star Tribune said.

"Our bodies have a limited ability to rapidly absorb certain sugars, which can lead to gas and bloating," the Star Tribune said. The article then continued by saying that one should settle on using aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet'N Low) or sucralose (Splenda)--all artificial sweeteners--because they are "absorbed more easily by the body."

"Fat in the small intestine inhibits the stomach from emptying," according the Star Trib, so one should "limit their daily intake to one-third of their daily calories."

The article mentions that many surprising foods contain dairy, therefore it is important to read labels and make note of when you feel bloated or sick.

Antibiotics, the Star Tribune said, get rid of beneficial bacteria in the small intestine, thus resulting in bloating and gas.

"Chronic tension" may cause one's body to store more fat around the middle, so finding roughly 15 minutes to relax every day is beneficial if you want to bump that hump.

November 17, 2007

Non-habitual binge drinking not harmful to baby?

According to a University of Oxford team, binge drinking does not harm a pregnant mother's unborn baby unless she habitually drinks excessive amounts, reported London's The Times Wednesday.

A team from Oxford analyzed studies from 1975 to 2005 said in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health that there is not consistent evidence of harmful effects when alcohol intake is low and "binge drinking" is infrequent, The Times said.

The team found little evidence that miscarriages, stillbirths and other birth defects resulted from binge drinking.

Mervi Jokinen, who represents the Royal College of Midwives, argued that the study implies that drinking during pregnancy is safe and that research proves that more than three "units" per week raises the risk of miscarriage, The Times reported.

November 15, 2007

US veterans suffering from a 'mental health epidemic'

According to London's The Times, suicide rates have been higher than military deaths among US soldiers--the rates have instigated claims that the US is suffering from a "mental health epidemic."

A minimum of 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005, whereas 3,863 American military deaths have occurred in Iraq since 2003, the TImes reported. The newspaper also included that former servicemen are "more than twice as likely than the rest of the population to commit suicide."

The suicide rate among the American population as a whole in 2005 was about 8.9 out of 100,000; the level among veterans was at least 18.7 out of 100,000. The rates among veterans of the ages 20 to 24 rose to 22.9, the Times reported.

Approximately 1.6 million of the 25 million veterans in the United States served in Afghanistan and Iraq, The Times said.

November 11, 2007

Analysis: diversity

London's The Times article "Surgery on eight-limbed baby Lakshmi 'a success'" reports on a risky surgery a young Indian girl went through, giving her the chance to live a normal (and longer) life.

The report does not stereotype the culture in India, rather it covers the facts of Lakshmi's situation and details regarding the surgery and the background of the girl's condition. It elaborates on what the condition is, how common it is, the surgical procedure, etc.

One paragraph explains the living conditions of Lakshmi's parents:

"Lakshmi's parents are poor laborers from Bihar state in northern India, where local villagers regarded the eight-limbed little girl as a goddess."

Also included in the report was that Lakshmi was named after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth.

The purpose of the two previously mentioned facts was not to stereotype a culture, but rather to familiarize the reader with the parents' lifestyle and to inform the reader on cultural background information. The family's financial situation is relevant because the costs for the surgery were covered by an orthopedic surgeon.

The cultural-related material is relevant to the story and used for reporting purposes, and does not generalize or stereotype the Indian girl, her family or their culture.

Surgery on eight-limbed baby successful

A young girl born in India with four arms and four legs was given a chance of a normal life by Indian doctors, London's The Times reported on Wednesday.

Lakshmi Tatma, 2, was born with a rare condition called isciopagus, meaning she was born attached to a partially-formed twin.

A team of about 30 medics started early Tuesday morning and devoted more than a day "carefully detaching what amounted to Lakshmi Tatma's headless identical sister who was join to her at the pelvis," The Times said.

The most difficult parts of the operation entailed transplanting one of her kidneys, which was shared by her twin, and to reconstruct the veins and blood vessels shared by both bodies, The Times said.

If Lakshmi had not undergone the surgery she would not have had much change living past adolescence doctors said.

In addition to the removal of extra limbs, Lakshmi's "deformed" pelvis and spine were corrected. Extra organs were removed, and she will need "extensive skin grafts," doctors said.

West Bank parking lot booth robbed

A University public safety alert reported that a parking lot booth was robbed on the West Bank Friday afternoon, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The attendant of the booth at Lot 94, 2115 5th St. S. was not injured during the robbery, which happened at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Daily said.

According to the public safety alert, said the Daily, the lone male suspect displayed a knife and took an "undisclosed amount of cash" from the booth. The suspect appeared to be between 28 and 32 years old and about 6 feet tall.

There have been several similar incidents that have occurred over the past couple months near the University campus.

Waconia defeats Washburn, 28 to 0

The Waconia High School football team defeated Minneapolis Washburn in the Class 4A state quarterfinal game Friday night, reported the Star Tribune.

"Waconia (11-1) got the lead early when Eric Aeling hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Dillon Hackbarth with 5:33 to play in the first quarter, making it 7-0," the Star Tribune said.

Derek Earls was the "story" for the Waconia Wildcats, according to the Star Trib, as he "rushed 29 times for 137 yards, adding a third touchdown in a fourth quarter despite Washburn regularly putting eight players in the box. Earls also had a 31-yard, third down to Aeling that set up the final score."

Waconia is scheduled to play Totino-Grace on Friday at the Metrodome at 12:45 p.m.

November 10, 2007

Massachusetts establishes strict abortion protesting law

The Massachusetts legislature approved a bill Thursday that requires protesters to stand at least 35 feet from clinics that offer abortions, according to the New York Times.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick is expected to sign the bill--which passed the House in a 122-to-28 vote--next week, making it the nation's strictest state law establishing protester fixed zones, The Times said.

The current law, which was enacted in 2000, says protesters "cannot go within 6 feet of a person in an 18-foot zone outside a clinic, The Times said.

Democratic Rep. Carl M. Sciortino Jr. said that the main purpose of the goal is to make sure patients and staff can enter the health facilities without being physically and verbally harassed.

Ten reproductive health clinics in Massachusetts offer abortions.

November 7, 2007

When a woman's (walking) wiggle is most attractive

A new study proves that the way a woman walks changes throughout her monthly cycle, London's The Times reported Wednesday (according to CST).

The most seductive walk (or wiggle as it is referred to in the article) occurs when a woman is least fertile. "If she flaunts herself too openly at fertile times she could be made pregnant by an unsuitable man, so women may have an evolutionary interest in sending out mixed messages," Meghan Provost and her team, from Queen's University in Ontario, said.

Waist to hip ratio is an important factor when judging female attractiveness, as European men prefer those with a waist measurement that is 70 percent of their hip circumference. Preferences do, however, vary from culture to culture experts said.

New Scientist magazine reported that ovulating women walked with smaller hip movements and their knees closer together; a group of 40 men in the study rated women in the less fertile part of their cycle to have the sexiest walks.

The article also points out that Provost's results contradict other research that says men respond more to women who are ovulating and most fertile.

November 3, 2007

Analysis: number use

In a Star Tribune article Friday titled "A deep issue is defining races in Golden Valley," the author presents numbers in the forms of costs and percents to elaborate on issues regarding Golden Valley's sewer systems.

The first use of numbers is in a graph that explains that paying for a resident's not-up-to-code sewer system could cost, on average, $3,500, although some residents have had to pay as much as $13,000. Said cost is an outlier, which is obvious since it is a significantly greater amount of money, and skews the average cost and makes it appear greater. The use of median would more accurately portray the sewer system price/cost statistics. The numerical stats in this graph were according to the city of Golden Valley.

Another graph in the story that compares numbers to support the issue stated in the article says that "of the 1,681 pumps inspected, 11 percent failed--not enough to warrant a focus on sump pumps within the city[...]." I think that it would be easier for a reader to interpret exactly how many of the 1,681 pumps failed (almost 185), rather than saying what percentage of the total number of pumps failed. Readers probably don't want to have to think more than they need to, and the percentage provided doesn't seem to make a straightforward point--if it does serve a purpose, it seems as though it is to manipulate the reader's interpretation of the numbers. The stats in this graph were attributed to the public works director of Golden Valley, Jeannine Clancy.

Elephant on acid deemed one of the 10 wackiest experiments ever

In a Wednesday article from London's The Times, an experiment in which an elephant was given 3,000 times the typical human dose of LSD topped the 10-item list of the wackiest experiments of all time.

In the 1962, scientist Warren Thomas injected an elephant with 297 milligrams of LSD to see what would happen; the purpose of the experiment was to determine whether the hallucinogen could induce "the state of temporary madness in which male elephants becomes aggressive," known as musth.

A description which seems to have been indirectly attributed to Thomas was included in the story: "Within a few moments of being injected, Tusko [the elephant] began trumpeting furiously, before kneeling over as if he had been shot. An hour later, he was dead."

The list of the 10 wackiest experiments of all time was compiled for New Scientist magazine.

November 2, 2007

British tennis coach jailed for molesting 13-year-old girl

Claire Lyte, one of Britain's most notable female tennis players and coaches, was jailed Friday for two years and nine months for molesting a 13-year-old girl whom she coached, according to London's The Guardian.

Last month, Lyte, 29, was found guilty of five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with the girl between May 2005 and June 2006 while coaching at the Lawn Tennis Training Academy in Loughborough.

The Guardian reported that Lyte, who offered to babysit the girl, was caught naked in bed with her, engaging in oral sex. The two also reportedly wore similar clothes, and the girl's mother reported that Lyte wore her daughter's clothes.

After seeing Lyte wearing her daughters clothes, she finally went to the police (10 months after discovering the two in bed together), which resulted in her daughter threatening to jump from a roof.

The teenager who is now 15 years old said she had been pressured into the relationship.

Lyte is banned from working with children and was ordered to register as a sex offender.

Jewish Columbia professor target of bias

A swastika was found spray-painted on a Jewish professor's office door at Columbia University Wednesday morning, according to the New York Times.

Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky is a clinical psychologist who has done studies on the Holocaust was notified of the swastika by the Teachers College associate provost. This was the third time she was the target of bias, the New York Times said.

The police said they have no suspects.

Similar hate acts have also occurred in recent weeks involving a black professor and a Brooklyn principal, the Times said.

Highland Park High School girls cited for passing vodka in classroom

Four Highland Park High School girls shared a vodka-filled water bottle during their second-hour class Monday, according to the Star Tribune.

The four girls (three were 14 years old, the fourth 15 years old) were given minors and released to their parents, said Pete Crum, St. Paul Police spokesman.

The Highland Park High School girls could face up to a three-day suspension, and will also be "referred for a chemical health evaluation," said Brett Johnson, St. Paul Public Schools spokesman.

The school's assistant principle, who was called to the classroom after the teacher noticed the girls' suspicious behavior, took the 15-year-old girl out of class and noticed she was stumbling down the stairs.

Her blood-alcohol level was 0.172. Two of the other girls had blood-alcohol levels just below .08, Crum said. The fourth girl was not tested, as she was interviewed much later.