November 2012 Archives

In this ABC News story, a press conference served as just one part of a variety of sources bringing depth to a Minneapolis workplace shooting that resulted in six deaths last September. Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan's comments in a press conference as summarized by the Star Tribune ground the story in facts from police investigation of the crime.
Mention of information from the press conference first appears in the second paragraph and continues again with a direct quote from Dolan in paragraph four. The first half of the article focuses on official police statements, lending credibility to the report and informing readers early-on of some of the physical details behind the shootings.
The reporter expands beyond the official accounts near the end of the story when he gathers observations from Barbara Haynes and Marques Jones, two individuals who were near the scene of the crime and witnessed some of the aftermath. This segment of the story adds a more personal angle than the press conference notes had, including the image of Jones and his senior portrait photographer running to their cars out of fear of gunshots.
The quotes and summarization from the press conference work well to explain the events that occurred at the scene of the crime and are well-balanced by the personal reports at the end of the story. However, the article may have been stronger if the conference facts had been synthesized a little more seamlessly throughout the piece, instead of all piled in one section together.

Internet and Phone Service Disconnected in Syria

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Internet service as well as mobile and land telephone lines have become unreachable in Syria this afternoon reports the BBC.
The Guardian reports internet connectivity stopped completely at 12:26p.m. in Damascus.
Internet restrictions imposed in Syria have made it impossible to reach any of the country's 84 IP address blocks, reports internet intelligence authority Renesys.
Syrian government officials blame "terrorists" for the disconnection, reports the BBC.
Syrian civilians told Reuters mobile and land telephone lines have only worked intermittently in what may be the worst disruption to communication since conflict erupted last year.
This type of attack on communication services providers is not unheard of in the region. The BBC reports internet blackouts occurred in Libya often in areas controlled by Colonel Gaddafi.
Reuters reports the U.S. remains confident Syrian opposition will be able to circumvent the disconnect using technology provided by the U.S.

Man Arrested in Synthetic Drug Raid

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Officers confiscated more than 80 pounds of synthetic marijuana and $280,000 in a raid of a Minneapolis tobacco shop and its owner's suburban home reports the Star Tribune.
KSTP reports an undercover police officer purchased the synthetic drug known as "K2" or "420" at least four times from the shop.
Mokrane Rahim, 30, of New Brighton, was charged Monday with fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance to a police officer and may face further charges in connection to the sale reports the Star Tribune.
As of Tuesday evening, the shop was still open reports the Star Tribune.
KSTP reports search warrants were issued for the store and Rahim's New Brighton home where the synthetic marijuana, cash, a Mercedes Benz and jewelry were also confiscated according to KSTP.

Members of the Blaine-based Teamsters union Local 120 await results of an investigation into corruption of their former top-ranking union officers, reports MPR.
A father and son duo, Brad Slawson Sr. and Brad Slawson Jr. are the focus of an investigation by the Independent Review Board (IRB), a body commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department to tackle corruption across U.S. Teamsters union branches reports the Star Tribune. The review board is a result of a 1989 consent decree between the Teamsters and the Justice Department in order to dodge racketeering charges against the union, said the Star Tribune.
The Teamsters international union ousted the Slawsons from their leadership roles, at least temporarily, on Nov. 13 while Local 120 has been placed into emergency trusteeship, reports the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune reports the Slawsons were each earning six-figure salaries in their positions as president and secretary-treasurer of Local 120. The 11,661 members of the local were unaware that the Slawsons were also receiving payment from a Fargo bar reports the Star Tribune.
MPR reports allegations in the IRB's report include more than $200,000 of unaccounted for beer and liquor from the Fargo bar between 2010 and 2011. The Slawsons allegedly used union funds to abruptly change a building contract for the local's office construction and pay $90,000 to Todd Chester, a close friend of Slawson Jr. and father to one of Slawson Sr.'s grandchildren reports MPR.
Neither of the officers have faced criminal charges to date reports MPR. If the pair is successfully charged with the allegations they could be banned from officer positions in the Teamsters union along with other criminal offenses reports the Star Tribune.

An Army private who has been implicated in the release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables to the whistleblower site WikiLeaks claims he was tortured while being held awaiting trial, reports the Herald Sun.
The Herald Sun reports the leaker, Bradley Manning, obtained the cables while working as an intelligence analyst between 2009 and 2010 in Baghdad.
In March, Juan E. Mendez, a United Nations specialist on torture, presented a report to the UN's Human Rights Council that criticized the U.S. government for not allowing him to meet privately with Manning reports the Huffington Post.
Mendez told the Associated Press that while he never spoke with manning he was persuaded "that Pfc. Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" that violated the UN Convention Against Torture.
Ultimately, Manning is expected to seek to have his charges dismissed, though at minimum his legal aid is pursuing a reduction of his sentence by approximately seven years reports the Herald Sun. The trial will be held Tuesday reports the Herald Sun.

A man from the Little Falls area has been arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder after the bodies of two teenagers shot on Thanksgiving were found in his basement reports the Star Tribune.
The man, Byron David Smith, 64, of Little Falls is currently being held and is expected to be charged Monday, Nov. 26, reports the Pioneer Press.
MPR reports school officials in Little Falls have identified the victims as Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17, cousins and both students popular amongst their classmates.
According to MPR, Smith admitted to Morrison County deputies Friday that he had shot two people the previous day around noon. The bodies were found in his basement that same day when the house was investigated on a suspicious activity call.
Smith claims the deaths resulted from self defense, as according to him Kifer and Brady had broken into his home reports the Pioneer Press. Morrison County Sherrif Michel Wetzel said Sunday in an interview with MPR that the scene of the crime led investigators to believe his actions exceeded simple self-defense.
John Lange, a neighbor of Smith, said Smith's home had been burglarized at least two times before and that he may have "snapped" this time when he heard an intrusion through his bedroom window, reported the Star Tribune.
Both deceased teenagers' schools, Little Falls High School and Pillager High School, will provide counseling services for their students following the death of these students reports MPR

Analysis: Diversity in an Article

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I selected an article from Vice.com intentionally because it is a magazine that seems to be directed at a very particular crowd: young, white and hip individuals. Vice is sold at the chain clothing store American Apparel and blends a combination of arts news, satire and politics that in my experience reading it can be at times highly offensive and at others considerate and boundary pushing compared to more mainstream and network-type news outlets.
In this piece, the writer seeks to bring a local angle from New York City to the currently escalating situation in Gaza. She does on the street interviews with protesters in New York.
The attempt to reach out and hear voices from average individuals on the street seems heartfelt, but is quashed by the actual makeup of the protest crowd. The article functions as a sort of photo poll, showing images of each interviewed individual prior to their statement or response to a question about the West Bank conflict.
There is some diversity in ages and levels of experience and knowledge of the conflict (for example, one of the interviewees is a founder of One Heart, an organization that provides aid to victims of terrorism). Still, the interviewees are overwhelmingly white and male and this poses a problem to gaining a more complex view of the whole story. There is a reasonable amount of consideration to be placed on the fact that this could also be the specific crowd's make-up and that perhaps a more diverse story could only have been sourced from a different crowd.

After three days of hand-counting ballots, Josh Reimnitz was declared winner of the race for School Board Representative in Minneapolis's District 4, reports MinnPost.
The Star Tribune reports Reimnitz spent a record-breaking $37,000 on his campaign for the school board position. Some of this money, reports the Star Tribune came from Teach For America (TFA), a volunteer program which places recent graduates in classroom teaching environments. Reimnitz is a TFA alumni himself reports MinnPost.
State Rep. Jim Davnie, a former teacher who supported Reimnitz's opponent Patty Wycoff, told the Star Tribune he fears Reimnitz's election as the start of a trend of nationalized school board elections.
MinnPost reports that the election was viewed by some as a contest between education reformers and the teacher union.

After several days of rocket fire from Gaza, Israel has launched a responding operation, Yahoo News Blog The Lookout reports.
The Telegraph reports Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to strengthen an affront against Palestine.
Despite international discouragement against escalation on both sides, Palestinian militants recently launched hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory and targeted Tel Aviv for the first known time, reports the New York Times. Israeli armored vehicles have moved toward the Gaza border in preparation for a possible invasion reports the New York Times.
Haaretz is continuing to provide live-blog updates on the rocket attacks in Gaza.

An official from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told the New York Times 5-Hour Energy, a high-caffeine and over-the-counter energy drink, has been cited in possible connection with 13 deaths over the last four years.
The Huffington Post reports the investigation was a follow-up after FDA reports potentially linked another beverage, Monster Energy, to deaths.
The Star Tribune reports some doctors currently advise their patients against the possible dangers associated with consumption of energy drinks. The Star Tribune reports Shelly Burgess, an FDA spokeswoman, warned against the risks of highly caffeinated beverages worsening underlying medical conditions in individuals.
Living Essentials, the company that produces 5-Hour Energy Shots, released in a statement that it was "unaware of any deaths proven to be caused by the consumption of 5-Hour Energy," reports the New York Times.

Pharmaceutical Lobbyists Fight Federal Oversight

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Mass-scale pharmaceutical companies known as "compounders" are being taken to task at Congressional hearings Wednesday and Thursday pertaining to a recent outbreak of steroids tainted with deadly meningitis reports the New York Times.
The hearings are debating whether Congress will strengthen federal oversight of the pharmaceutical industry said the New York Times.
David Ball, a spokesman for lobbyist group the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists, told the Boston Herald, "Compounders are regulated by states, and state governments are the entities that should govern and monitor the activities of all pharmacists."
The Boston Herald reports the patchwork security provided by state regulations of pharmaceutical companies was in part responsible for the Massachusetts breach that allowed a deadly batch of Meningitis-tainted steroids to be released throughout the nation last month.

Corcoran Update Met with Mixed Feelings

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The city of Corcoran, Minnesota will soon become the last town in Hennepin County to add sewer and water lines reports the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune reports the sewer will cost $2.1 million and will become fully operational next year when a pumping station is built.
Press & News reports that Corcoran City Council's next task will be to decide who receives the new municipal services.
For now Mayor Ken Guenther and the council have made no formal action, reports Press & News. Dan Donahue, Corcoran city administrator, told Press & News a draft of applicants would be released for discussion within the next month.
The Star Tribune reports mixed feelings have resulted from the recent developments. The possibility of further development and commercialization of the town has raised both concern and praise from Corcoran locals reports the Star Tribune.

Analysis: Welfare in India: Money Where Your Mouth Is

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This article from The Economist uses a variety of numbers and figures to illustrate the current state of welfare distribution in India. The numbers serve to explain the story rather than complicate it.
For example, the story begins with an anecdote taken from real life in Delhi, India. The numbers are two and 70: a delivery man brings two medium-sized aluminum pots to feed 70 children in the area. That image is poignant and the numbers make it so.
Numbers are used later in the story in a more straightforward and news-valuable manner. The numbers involve people, specifically those eligible for welfare aid of different types in India, such as the 300 million people who signed up for aid through the country's biometric database "unique identity" (UID). Money is another type of figure used throughout this story to explain the cost of being poor in India.
The sources of these numbers are not always directly relayed, though some like the anecdote at the beginning seem to be gathered from the writer's own reporting and fact-gathering. Some numbers come from quotes, particularly from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Overall the numbers contribute to facts that are relatively easy to understand for the readers, but the attribution of these facts is at times questionable.

An inflammatory Facebook status posted by 22-year-old California native Denise Helms has erupted in a Secret Service investigation, the woman's loss of her job and coverage from multiple media outlets, reports the Daily Mail.
A screen-cap of the comment, which led Helms to delete her Facebook profile, was posted on Gawker that said, "And another 4 years of the 'n-word' maybe he will get assassinated this term..!!"
The Huffington Post reports Helms has lost her job at a California Cold Stone Creamery. Her former employer and store director Chris Kegle told the Huffington Post "We made the decision [to fire her] because of her comments, but also the community feedback. We are very into working with the community and doing community service. So when your community does not like you because of an employee, that's bad."
In interviews with Sacramento's Fox 40 News Helms refused to apologize for the message and told the organization the comment did not make her racist as she has may friends from different "ethnic groups."
The Daily Mail reports she also told Fox, "The assassination part is harsh and I'm not saying that I would go and do that or anything like that by any means but if it was to happen I don't think I would care one bit."

Minnesota Veteran Awarded a Very Belated Purple Heart

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Vietnam veteran and Bloomington, Minn. native Mike Kirkpatrick was awarded a belated Purple Heart Saturday at 44 years after he earned it, reports the Pioneer Press.
Kirkpatrick told the Pioneer Press, "I'm very amazed and very happy to receive this. It's more than I expected. I just did my duty."
While on a patrol mission, Kirkpatrick's squad was hit by an enemy explosive, reports Kare 11. While he had been injured, Kirkpatrick moved quickly to aid his fellow Marines said Kare 11.
Kirkpatrick's comrades received their Purple Hearts in a more timely fashion and also contributed to his receiving the award this year in time for Veteran's Day reports the Pioneer Press.
"I couldn't believe he hadn't received the Purple Heart," fellow veteran Ron Oakes told Kare 11. "So, we made sure the letters were written. This is way overdue."
The award ceremony was led by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar Saturday at Bloomington City Hall reports the Pioneer Press.
Kirkpatrick told the Pioneer Press after the ceremony he planned on wearing the award for the rest of the day and on really celebrating Veterans Day Sunday.

Israeli Shots Called a "Warning" to Syria

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Israeli troops were put on high alert Saturday after a vehicle in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was hit by a Syrian mortar strike, reports the BBC.
The Associated Press reports the Israeli military incurred no damage or injury at their post in the Golan Heights. Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since its capture in 1967 during the Mideast war.
Tensions remain high in the area, as many are concerned about Syria's civil war that has been on-going for the past 19 months reports the Associated Press.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that Israel is ready to meet security threats reports Business Week.
Middle East Online reports the warning shots on Saturday did not violate Israel's sovereignty, though the attacks on both sides have disturbed the two countries' long-standing ceasefire agreement.

Lapses in Minnesota Prison Health-Care System

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Inmates at state prisons and county jails are the only adults in America granted a constitutional right to health care. The Star Tribune reports this circumstance comes from a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that found these offenders to be "vulnerable" adults completely dependent on their guardians. The amount of care afforded these inmates is meant to be comparable to that given to other members of their community, said the Star Tribune.
A high level of care though, as stories from the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune report instances of negligence resulting in the death of one prisoner and the near-death of another in the last two years.
Xavius Scullark Johnson, an inmate at Rush City prison never finished his five-month sentence as he died of complications related to a seizure, reported the Pioneer Press. His family filed a lawsuit for $1 million in damages related to negligence against two nurses at the jail reports the Pioneer Press. One of the nurses, Denise Garin, turned away an offer for an ambulance to transport Scullark Johnson to a nearby hospital the same night he died in Rush City prison, reports the Pioneer Press.
Other practices used to cut costs and save on space have resulted in discomfort for inmates, like the "double-bunking" methods used in Stillwater reported by KSTP.

Occupy Wall Street Works Toward Debt Forgiveness

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A branch of Occupy Wall Street called the Rolling Jubilee is seeking donations to buy-up and relieve random citizens of distressed debts reports The Telegraph.
CNN said Rolling Jubilee has been spearheaded by Occupy's Strike Debt team to protest a "predatory" lending system. Rolling Jubilee will host a phone-a-thon in New York City on Nov. 15 called "The People's Bailout" to raise money for buying and erasing defaulted student loans, medical bills and other debts.
According to CNN, Rolling Jubilee will focus efforts on communities that have been hardest hit by the recession.
Rolling Jubilee's site says, "We cannot buy specific individuals' debt - instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal."
An editorial from Forbes praised OWS's move and posited the advantage of having a third party buy-up an individual's debt: it saves the person from an overwhelming tax-rate at the end of the year.

Analysis: Gae Aulenti Obituary

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In the NYT's obituary for famed Italian architect Gae Aulenti normal conventions for obituary writing are followed. The length of the piece is notably long as Aulenti is remembered for making headway for female architects.
Sources include a snippet from a statement by Giorgio Napolitano, Italian president, on Aulenti's talent as an architect. Quotes are also taken from past reviews of her work re-constructing Paris' Musée d'Orsay as she converted it from train station to a museum housing impressionists among other (mainly) French artists' works. These reviews include one NYT critic as well as a less favorable review from Italian newspaper Liberation. The article also directly quotes Aulenti effectively with some profound statements such as "More than anything, we were trying to recognize our own identity." Another architect, Philip Johnson, is quoted about her work at d'Orsay.
The lead is standard as it identifies Aulenti, some brief though important characteristics about her, the circumstances of her death and her age at death. The news value is important for architects and members of arts communities. The news might be most relevant to Italian or European architects, though the article does note that Aulenti's work extended far beyond Italy and France.
The article is reflective and paints an image of Aulenti's personality and the impact of her life's work through quotes from herself and others in arts communities.

Egyptian Princess' Tomb Discovered Near Cairo

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The tomb of an Egyptian princess dating back 4,500 years was discovered near Cairo this Friday, reports the Global Post.
According to Al Arabiya, a group from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, funded by the Charles University of Prague, made the discovery. Al Arabiya also reports that along with the princess' main tomb, the group excavated a corridor which leads to four other tombs, two of which had been discovered prior to this expedition.
According to the Global Post the princess was named Shert Nebti. The Global Post also reports that little is known about her father or mother, though an inscription on the tomb states "the daughter of the king Men Salbo and his lover venerated before God the all-powerful."
Al Arabiya reports the tomb and the four additional chambers it leads to have all been discovered in the regular excavation season, which began in October.
USA Today reports Mohammed El-Bialy, head of the Egyptian and Greco-Roman Antiquities department at the Antiquities Ministry, said the excavation is still in "early stages" and the site is closed to the public.
The discovery of the tomb comes at a crucial moment following the Arab Spring and Egyptian uprising. USA Today reports a delegation from the International Monetary Fund is in Egypt now to negotiate a $4.8 billion loan intended to bolster the country's weakened economy.

Power Outages Following Hurricane Sandy Continue

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The BBC reports nearly 1 million homes remain powerless in the Northeast following Hurricane Sandy. New York City had never experienced flood-waters over the 11-feet seen in an 1821 hurricane reported National Geographic.
Utility supplier ConEd said 228,000 customers in Manhattan currently without power should have it restored Saturday, though that would still leave 400,000 others in the city out-of-power reports NBC. ConEd also expressed hope that most power would be restored by Nov. 11, reported NBC.
"It is virtually impossible to protect the system from a storm like Sandy," Clark Gellings, a fellow at the industry's Electric Power Research Institute told National Geographic.
ConEd underground equipment was designed to withstand up to 12.5 feet of water, but Sandy's reached 14 feet and blew up the substation, reported National Geographic.
Throughout power-outages, the Huffington Post reported residents have expressed fear of high crime and limited ability to contact law enforcement.

First Minnesotan Wolf Hunting Season Begins Today

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Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources is opening the regulated hunt to wolves for the first time ever this season, reports Alexandria's Echo Press
MSNBC reports Wisconsin will also participate in the wolf hunt this season.
Minnesota Public Radio reports all seven Ojibwe bands are banning the wolf hunt on their tribal lands. The Wisconsin DNR has closed all lands associated with Ojibwe bands there, while the Minnesota DNR will close only the sections that are fully owned by Ojibwe tribes, leaving private, state and federal property within reservations open to the hunt reports Minnesota Public Radio.
The Minnesota DNR states that prior to a former hunting ban, Minnesota was the only state in the lower 48 home to wolves when they were endangered.
The Echo reports early wolf hunting season runs Nov. 3-18 in 100 series deer permit areas and Nov.3-11 in 200 series deer permit areas. Late wolf hunting and trapping season is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 24 through Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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