Analysis: computer-assisted reporting

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By opening an office in Luxembourg, Amazon avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to European countries, according to a story by Reuters.

Reuters examined the accounts of 25 Amazon units and found that they avoided paying taxes in the U.S.

The reporter used Amazon's accounting records for this story. He chronologically told the story of Amazon's European holdings, explaining how they set up a business holding in Luxembourg to avoid paying taxes.

To produce this story, the reporter needed a thorough understanding of the history of Amazon's European business. He didn't need to use a lot of computer skills, but he needed to present this complex story in an easy-to-understand way.

There were no interactive graphics to supplement the story, although a timeline of Amazon's European business would have been useful.

Scientists report on Arctic's worsening conditions

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The Arctic broke records for summertime ice and spring snow cover this year, and the Arctic continues to get warmer and greener, according to a report released Wednesday.

Over 140 scientists contributed to the report, which the American Geophysical Union released in San Francisco .

The summertime ice pack was the smallest ever seen, according to the report. The amount of snow in the Northern Hemisphere in June was the lowest ever recorded, and permafrost temperatures topped previous highs.

The reduction of snow and ice has darkened the Arctic, according to the report. The warm rays of the sun get absorbed by the dark ground and open ocean, which continues the cycle of warming.

Though the Arctic saw significant retreats in snow and ice, arctic temperatures were not unusually high this year, according to the report.

Exiled leader visits Gaza Strip

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Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal gave a speech to thousands to Hamas supporters Saturday, vowing to destroy the state of Israel and build a Palestinian state in its place.

Meshaal gave the speech on Hamas' 25th anniversary. His words reflected Hamas' long-standing position towards Israel, according to the New York Times.

For Meshaal, the visit was his first the Gaza Strip. His family fled his West Bank village when he was 11, and he currently lives in Qatar, according to an AP report in the Los Angeles Times.

Israel attempted to assassinate Meshaal in 1997, according to the New York Times.

The recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas emboldened Meshaal to make the visit. As part of the cease fire, Israel vowed to stop targeting Hamas millitants

Meshaal insisted that Hamas won a great military victory over Israel.

Twins trade Revere to the Phillies

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The Twins traded a center fielder for the second time this week, in exchange for three Philadelphia Phillies pitchers.

In exchange for Ben Revere, the Twins will receive pitchers Vance Worley, and prospects Trevor May and Ryan Pressly, according to the Star Tribune.

The Phillies will start the 24-year-old Revere in center, according to ESPN.

Revere hit .278 with 64 RBI in two-plus seasons with the Twins. Last season, he hit .294 and stole 40 bases.

The Twins expect Worley to make the opening day rotation. Worley joins pitcher Scott Diamond as the only locks for the rotation.

Thousands attend funeral for slain officer

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More than 3,000 people, including 2,000 law enforcement personnel from surrounding states and Canada, attended the funeral Wednesday for Tom Decker, the Cold Spring police officer shot to death last week, the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press and Saint Cloud Times reported.

The 31-year-old Decker was shot to death behind a downtown Cold Spring bar last week, according to reports. Decker was responding to a call by the family of 34-year-old Ryan Michael Larson at the time of the shooting. Larson lives above the bar.

Larson's family said Larson was texting them suicidal messages the day of the shooting. Larson was taken into custody a couple of hours after the shooting, but he was released Tuesday.

Stearns County authorities said they didn't have sufficient evidence to hold him, according to the Saint Cloud Times.

Decker is survived by his wife Alicia and four kids.

Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck dies at age 91

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Dave Brubeck, a west-coast jazz artist who received acclaim for his pioneering rhythms, died Wednesday morning, according to an AP story in the Star Tribune and the Chicago Tribune. He was 91.

Brubeck, who was one day short of his 92nd birthday, died of heart failure, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Brubeck has been an icon of American jazz since World War II. He formed the Dave Brubeck quartet in 1951. The group released their most notable album, "Time Out," in 1959.

Brubeck was a pioneer of integration, according to both reports. He played at black jazz clubs in the south throughout the 1950's

Brubeck is survived by his wife Lola and his five children, according to both reports.

Analysis: reporting on government

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With the 'fiscal cliff' approaching, both the White House and Republican congressional leaders are trying to avert the dramatic cuts in spending and increases in tax rates set to take hold Jan. 1, according to the New York Times.

But as the author of this story explained, neither side agrees on how to do it.

The reporter gave the context of both the Democratic and Republican positions on the upcoming 'fiscal cliff', using quotes from each side's appearances on Sunday morning talk programs. She explained how both sides don't seem likely to compromise.

While the newsworthy event was the speeches each side gave on the Sunday morning talk shows, the reporter explained the events in more detail. She gave background information on the 'fiscal cliff' and explained what will happen should the government choose not to act.

She also explained that Democrats and Republicans disagree on a central part of this deal: how to tax rich people.

By explaining these events in the context of the entire issue, the reporter made the 'fiscal cliff' easy to understand for someone with little or no knowledge of this situation.

Gophers accept bid to Meineke Car Care Bowl

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Minnesota has accepted an invitation to play in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reported Sunday.

This was the preferred bowl for Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. ESPN will televise the game during prime time.

The Meineke takes the No. 6 team in the Big Ten and had the choice between Minnesota and Purdue, according to the Star Tribune. Minnesota beat Purdue this season, but Purdue had a better conference record and finished the season with three consecutive victories.

Purdue accepted an invitation to play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1, according to both reports.

The Gophers will play a Big 12 team, potentially Baylor, according to the Pioneer Press.

Missouri family wins $588 million Powerball jackpot

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A Dearborn, Mo. couple has won a Powerball jackpot estimated at $588 million, according to an AP report in the Star Tribune and the Kansas City Star.

Missouri lottery officials officially announced Mark and Cindy Hill as one of two winners of the record jackpot at a press conference Friday, according to both sources. The Hills, who chose to take their winnings in a lump sum, will collect about $136 million after taxes, according to the AP report.

The Hills will split the jackpot with an unknown winner in Arizona who hasn't come forward yet, according to both reports.

Mark Hill bought the winning ticket at a Trex Mart gas station and convenience store at the edge of Dearborn, according to both reports. The store will receive a $50,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.

Many in Dearborn, a town of 500 about 40 miles north of Kansas City, knew on Thursday that the Hills had won, according to both reports.

The $588 million dollar jackpot, the largest Powerball jackpot ever, had set of a frenzy of ticket sales throughout the country. In the hours before Wednesday's drawing, tickets were being sold at a rate of 130,000 a minute, according to both reports.

Carpenters picket Doran's hiring decisions

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Local carpenters are protesting the real-estate developer Doran's decision to use non-union labor for an upcoming housing project, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and the Minnesota Daily.

The union, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, has been protesting Doran's decision to hiring the non-union Regal Construction to hang drywall in Doran's first non-student housing development, Mill & Main, according to the Daily. They have been picketing at Minneapolis City Hall and at Doran's Bloomington headquarters for two weeks.

Kelly Doran, the owner of Doran, said he is already using 19 different unions for the project, according to the Daily. He said that 93 percent of the labor for the Mill & Main project is from union companies.

The protestors said that Regal Construction does not adhere to union standards.

Doran has four apartments on the University of Minnesota campus and is currently building a fifth, according to the Daily.