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March 29, 2009

Obits

In this obituary the New York Times uses a pretty standard obituary lead. The reporter uses many sources, from the person's son to his colleagues. The obituary differs from a resume because it has a much more personal voice. It isn't just a list of achievements but it also has people who knew the person commentating on his life.

Man Rows Across Atlantic

25-year-old Paul Ridley has completed his quest to row across the Atlantic Ocean, CNN Reports.

Ridley completed his trip on the 88th day, becoming the youngest American to do so. He spoke to CNN after landing.

“I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed with all the excitement from my arrival,” Ridley said. His voyage was full of bouts of sea sickness and equipment failures.

Ridley was rowing in order to raise money for cancer research, a goal he started after his mother died from skin cancer in 2007. He had hoped to raise $500,000, but he completed his journey with still over $400,000 dollars to raise.
“I will be back to fundraising because cancer research is still in need of funding, so we have a lot of work to do.” Ridley told CNN.

New Cyberspy Network Uncovered

Canadian researchers have found that over 1,300 computers in 103 countries have been infected by a electronic spying operation. Computers are from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including ones belonging to the Dalai Lama.

In a report issued Sunday, Canadian think-tank Sec-Dev Group said that computers at NATO, embassies, and governments are infected with the software that allows the attacker to gain complete control of them, the NY Times reports.

The researchers have named the network GhostNet. It can not only search the computer but see or hear the people using it, CNN reports.

“GhostNet is capable of taking full control of infected computers, including searching and downloading specific files and covertly operating attached devices, including microphones and web cameras,” the report says.

The investigation started out of suspicions that the Dalai Lama’s offices had been infected. His staff had sent a foreign diplomat an e-mail invitation to meet with the leader but before the Dalai Lama’s people could follow up with a phone call, the diplomats office was contacted by the Chinese government and cautioned not to go ahead with the meeting, the report says.

The report warns that although almost all of the computers operating the virus originate in China, there isn’t enough evidence to determine if the Chinese government is involved with the program.

"Chinese cyber espionage is a major global concern ... [b]ut attributing all Chinese malware to deliberate or targeted intelligence gathering operations by the Chinese state is wrong and misleading," the Canadian report states.

GM CEO Fired

General Motors Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will step down as CEO of GM, part of the federal government’s plan to bail out the struggling company, CNN reported Sunday.

Wagoner’s resignation is believed to be due to increased pressure by the Obama administration for an internal restructuring by GM. The administration has blamed mismanagement over the years for some of the automaker’s financial problems.

GM has not yet confirmed the decision, however a White House official told Reuters that it was done at the request of the administration, Reuters reports.

There has been no indication who will replace Wagoner, however many speculate Fitz Henderson, GM’s chief operating officer and No.2 executive, is widely considered the leading internal candidate.

The move comes two days before the appointed deadline for GM and its smaller competitor, Chrysler, to prove to the Treasury Department that they can be viable in the long term. If the Treasury does not find the companies viable, the government can recall the $17.4 billion it has already loaned the two companies.

Wagoner was a 32-year company veteran and had been CEO since 2000. Prior to becoming CEO, he was chief operating officer and led GM’s North America Branch.

Two People Dead After Shooting

Two people are dead after a shooting and a police chase near Big Lake, thePioneer Press reports.

Peter Tek, 42, reportedly shot his girlfriend’s son at the family’s home in Big Lake. Cheth Tek told the Star Tribune that Peter Tek and his girlfriend went to a party and got home around 2 a.m. Saturday. Tek was involved in an altercation with Savang Sath,27, and two females. Tek shot Sath twice and held the two women hostage for about 20 minutes, Tek left with Sath’s mother.

Police were called at 3:08 a.m. Deputies discovered Sath’s body and were told that Tek was in a Lincoln Navigator.

Tek called his ex-wife and told her that he had killed his girlfriend’s son, and hinted to his son, Phath Bauer, that he was going to kill himself.

“I won’t be able to see you and your sister grow up, and for that I’m very sorry,” Tek said.

Bauer told the Star Tribune that he didn’t realize his father was implying suicide.

“He expressed his love for me, my sister, and my mom. I told him, ‘ I love you too, dad.’” Bauer told the Star Tribune.

Around two hours later, on a barricaded section of Interstate 94, Tek released his girlfriend and shot himself in the head.

Besides Bauer, Tek is survived by a 15-year-old daughter and his parents.

Governor Pawlenty Urges State Employees to Take Days Off

Governor Tim Pawlenty wants state workers to take over a month off over the next two years in order to help the state budget deficit.

The plan was proposed to AFSCME Council 5 and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, the two largest labor unions representing state workers.

Pawlenty’s plan proposes workers take 48 unpaid days off over the next two years. In statements to their members, both unions called the proposed furlough a “bomb”, the Pioneer Press reported Friday

AFSCME Council 5 represents around 19,000 state workers, while MAPE has over 12,000 members, the Star Tribune reported Thursday.

In a statement on their website, the AFSCME says the pay cuts are not feasible.

“Who can pay their bills after the loss of one month's pay,” the statement reads. “Worse yet, he’d give managers the right to arbitrarily decide who gets furloughed, when they get furloughed, and for how long. That's an invitation for the boss to play favorites.”

The statement accuses Pawlenty of trying to “balance the budget on the backs of AFSCME state employees who earn $37,000 on average.”

The state currently has a projected budget deficit of $4.6 billion over the next two years. The unpaid time off is just one aspect of a plan to try and decrease the deficit. Other measures include a state-wide pay cuts and a hiring freeze.

March 14, 2009

CEO Says 45 Percent of World's Wealth has Been Destroyed

Private equity group Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman said Tuesday that up to 45 percent of the world’s wealth had been destroyed by the current financial crisis.
“This is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime,” Schwarzman told an audience at the Japan Society. “"Between 40 and 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half.”

However, he added that the U.S. government is committed to preserving financial institutions and will do whatever It takes to restart the economy, according to Reuters.

Schwarzman also said that there was one sector that was partially responsible for the current crisis.

"What's pretty clear is that, if you were looking for one culprit out of the many, many, many culprits, you have to point your finger at the rating agencies," he said.

Asked about good investment opportunities, Schwarzman noted that it made sense to by cyclical names, which have less exposure to the economic cycles.

Washington Post Cuts Business Section

The Washington Post is no longer including a business section in their paper for six days out of the week, CNN reported Friday.

The decision is aimed at saving money on newsprint during a time when newspaper profits are falling sharply. In a memo, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said that the cut would enable the Post to keep providing readers with the content they want.

“We remain absolutely committed to the strongest, in-depth and authoritative coverage of business locally,” the memo said.

"The A section gets more readers than the Business section, so we'll have more readers for our business coverage. We aren't changing the size of the staff," Brauchli told Reuters.

The Post will no longer run listings of daily stock movements and will limit coverage to a half page with only major stocks represented.

Three Men Arrested in Connection With British Soldiers Killing

Three men were arrested in connection with the killing of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland, a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland police told CNN Saturday.

The three men, ages 41,32, and 21, have been taken to the police service’s Serious Crime Suite in Antrim, Reuters reports. The shooting has raised fears of a return to the violence which Northern Ireland suffered until the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998, a period known as The Troubles in which over 3,000 people were killed.

Two days after the soldiers were shot, a police officer was shot and killed while responding to a call in Craigavon.

The Continuity IRA, another splinter group, has claimed responsibility for the newest killing while politicians from both sides of the spectrum have condemned the attacks, calling them “wicked and murderous.”

Basketball Game Fight Requires 20 Police to Break Up

Police arrested an 18-year-old for possession of a stolen firearm during a fight that broke out at a high school basketball game.

The fight, which involved both players and fans, happened during a boys high school basketball tournament in St. Paul.

Edward Wayne Ballard, of St. Paul, did not expose the weapon, it fell out of his waistband when he was struggling with police officers, Sgt. Pete Crum told the Pioneer Press. Ballard was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm on school grounds and possession of stolen property because the gun was considered stolen.

Police report no injuries but Crum told the Star Tribune that a chemical irritant was used. A 17-year-old was also cited for disorderly conduct.

Monday, the Ramsey County attorney’s office set Ballard’s bail a $15,000. Ballard told police that he had the gun because he was scared and had been jumped in the past. He added that his cousin, an East Side Boys gang member, had given him the gun.

St. Paul Man Forced To Rob Bank

A St. Paul man who robbed an in-store Maplewood bank said that three armed men who had robbed him of over $2,000 threatened to kill his children if he did not come up with more money, the Star Tribune reports.

James Matthew Hood, 25, was indicted Monday of robbing Guaranty Bank of $2,355 in the Rainbow Foods at 2501 White Bear A. N. on Feb. 10.

According to the Star Tribune, the indictment said that Hood walked through the grocery store at about 1 p.m., placed items in the shopping cart and then went into the bank. He gave the teller a note that said “I have a gun—you know what to do—100’s, 50’s, 20’s, no boobie traps or you will regret it.”

Hood said, “I have a gun; you have 10 seconds. Be quick.” The teller gave Hood cash, then Hood apologized, saying “They will kill my kids.” Hood then fled on foot.

Before Maplewood police could find and take Hood into custody, he called 911 from a home in St. Paul where his children were being cared for and surrendered.

Hood told the FBI that he robbed the bank at gunpoint because three unidentified men had pulled him over at gunpoint the previous day and robbed him of more than $2,000 but demanded $4,000 more. Hood said the robbers told him they knew where he lived and threatened to kill his children unless he came up with the money.

Hood told authorities he had kept the account of being robbed from his wife and law enforcement, and he had the $2,000 on him because he was going to the bank to work out a deal to pay off his car, according to an uncle, Chris Orr, of Rapid City, S.D.

Hood’s mother-in-law, Liz Kimmel, told the Star Tribune that he had never been in legal trouble.

“He’s just a devoted father, and he couldn’t love his wife and kids more,” Kimmel said.

March 8, 2009

Advances

In this story about the upcoming Northwest Sportshow, the author doesn't only discuss the event but links it to his childhood by recalling the memories he had when his father would take him and his brother to Minneapolis from North Dakota to see the show.

The author doesn't use a lot of sources, he mainly reminisces about what the show was like to him as a child. He uses a couple of quotes from a few different sources but he mainly discusses his experiences.

The author turns the event into an opportunity to reflect back to his earlier life and how different the Sportshow has become from when he first went to see it as a child. This gives the story an angle of reflection instead of just listing the essential information regarding this show.

Frozen Body Found On Ham Lake Golf Course

A body found encased in ice on a Ham Lake golf course remains unidentified, according to the Associated Press.

Friday, groundskeepers at Majestic Oaks Golf Course discovered the body frozen in around 2 feet of water. Authorities worked throughout the day, using industrial steamers from the Anoka County Highway Department to free it from the ice.

The body appears to have been in the water since before the firs November freeze, Lt. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office told the Star Tribune.

Investigators found a wallet on the body but will not identify it until an autopsy is conducted. Authorities say it can take two days for the body to thaw enough to allow an autopsy to be conducted.

Although the head and face were badly damaged, officials believe the body is a man’s based on the type of clothing.

Teenager Found Safe After Kidnapping

A 17-year-old Elbow Lake girl who was kidnapped at gunpoint by her stepfather was found unharmed early Sunday morning.

David R. Sabby, 46, kidnapped Amy Henning around 7 p.m. Saturday at the West Ridge Mall, Fergus Falls police chief Tim Brennan told the Pioneer Press.

Henning and her stepbrother, who is not Sabby’s biological son, were going to see a movie when Sabby approached them in the parking lot with a gun drawn. Sabby proceeded to duct tape the stepbrother and left him in the car that he and Henning had arrived in. Sabby then fled with the girl outside city limits, the Star Tribune reports.

The stepbrother managed to free himself after about 20 minutes of struggling and called the police. An Amber Alert was issued at around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

At around 1:15 a.m. Sunday, Sabby gave Henning the keys to his truck and walked away, Brennan said. Henning drove to a nearby gas station and called the police.

Sabby was taken into custody a short while later near Swan Lake, in Otter Tail County, when a homeowner called police to complain of a strange person showing up at his door.

Brennan told the Pioneer Press that the motive for the kidnapping is still unclear and that Sabby was currently not cooperating with the investigation.

Two British Soldiers Murdered In Northern Ireland

The dissident republican group Real IRA claimed responsibility Sunday for the execution-style killing of two British soldiers in Northern Ireland Saturday night, Reuters reports.

The attack, which was one of the worst since the 1998, happened at the British military base in Massereene, in County Antrim. The soldiers were shot as pizzas were delivered to their base, Detective Chief Superintendent Derek Williamson told CNN Sunday. Two other soldiers and two pizza delivery men were also wounded, their injuries are considered serious.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the attack “evil and cowardly,” saying that “the whole country is shocked and outraged.”

Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the former political faction of the IRA, condemned the killings as “wrong and counterproductive.”

"Last night's attack was an attack on the peace process," he told CNN. "Those responsible have no support, no strategy to achieve a united Ireland. Their intention is to bring British soldiers back on to the streets. They want to destroy the progress of recent times and to plunge Ireland back into conflict.”

The soldiers, both described as in their early 20s, were scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan soon, they were the first British soldiers to be killed on Irish soil in over 12 years.

Pastor Shot Dead During Service

An Illinois pastor was gunned down in during a church service early Sunday morning, according to CNN.

Fred Winters, pastor at First Baptist Church of Mayryville, a St. Louis suburb, was shot and killed during his 8 a.m. service. His attacker and two parishioners suffered knife wounds in the attack, Illinois police spokesman Ralph Timmins told CNN.

The gunman walked in during the service and approached the pulpit, firing when he was met by Winters, Timmins said. A police dispatcher told CNN that the pastor was shot three times.

According to Timmins, the gunman used a .45-caliber pistol that jammed after he shot Winters. The attacker then pulled out a knife and turned it on himself before he was tackled by some of the worshippers in the church. Two of the people who went after the attacker suffered non-life-threatening knife injuries while the attacker’s condition is considered very serious.

The Associated Press reports that Winters used his bible to deflect the first of four shots fired at him, and that only one of the four shots fired at the pastor struck him.

A St. Louis University Hospital spokeswoman, Lauren Keller, told CNN that three males, including the suspect, were brought to the hospital. One was dead on arrival, but the hospital was not releasing names and ages. She also said that a second man was in an operating room, and the third was the suspect, whose condition was not available.

The Associated Press reports that no one at the church recognized the shooter.

Apple Valley Woman In Critical Condition After Hit and Run

An Apple Valley woman is in critical condition Sunday after being struck by an unidentified vehicle Friday night, the Associated Press reports.

Joan Le Vasseur, 26, is in a medically-induced coma after being struck while crossing Cedar Avenue at the intersection of 153rd street by an unidentified vehicle, described by witnesses as a tan van, SUV or large sedan. The driver of the vehicle has not yet come forward.

Le Vasseur, who is deaf, was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center. Sgt. Joe Shaw of the Apple Valley Police Department told the Star Tribune that although several witnesses saw the crash, no one was able to identify the vehicle or a license plate number.

Le Vasseur’s mother, Patty Boever, could not believe someone could simply drive away from such an accident.

“We work hard all our lives to keep our children safe and someone just does this and drives away?" Boever told the Star Tribune. "This is insane. Don't people have a heart?"

Le Vasseur’s sister-in-law, Lori Le Vasseur, said that she suffered severe head trauma, including brain injuries, along with multiple fractures in her legs, pelvis and ribs. She also told the Star Tribune that her sister-in-law was engaged and had recently embarked on a goal to lose weight by walking more often.

"Joan was 26, responsible, and walked a lot. Everywhere," Lori LeVasseur said. "You wouldn't know she was deaf.”

Joan Le Vasseur’s step-father, Robert Boever, urged the driver of the vehicle to identify themselves.

“Accidents happen and we need to do the right thing. We're hoping someone responsible for this will come forward," Boever told the Star Tribune. “"There's a lot of broken hearts asking for someone to come forward. Please."

March 1, 2009

Press Conference

In Obama's speech addressing the withdrawal from Iraq, the Star Tribune makes a couple of changes to tell the story better and get the information across more efficiently.

For one thing, the article only uses a couple partial quotes, choosing to paraphrase much more often. This helps the writer summarize the president's points much faster than delivering what he actually said would. The article also gives us some background information regarding the plan; how it has been received in Washington and who supports/opposes it.

The article also gives us some information regarding the site of the speech, which was the same site George Bush used in 2003 to deliver one of his speeches, and what some political figures thought of the decision.

The article basically uses the speech as a jumping off point but focuses much more on the news itself than the actual speech. It gives background information and opinions regarding the speech as well as excerpts from the speech.

Government Commits $30 Billion to AIG

The U.S. government agreed to give $30 billion to struggling insurer American International Group Inc, Reuters reported Sunday.

AIG’s board approved a new support package that includes a lower interest rate on its government credit line and more lenient terms on a government investment in its preferred shares.

This will be the third time that the government has stepped in to help AIG stay afloat. The global reach of the company may mean that it is too big to let fail. AIG is expected to report a fourth-quarter loss of over $60 billion dollars.

"The government really does not have the option of letting AIG totally blow up,"Robert Haines, senior insurance analyst at CreditSights, told Reuters.

The government has already been blamed by many for prolonging the financial crisis by allowing Lehman Brothers to fail. AIG is the second large company in a week to receive governmental assistance. Last week, the government agreed to increase its equity stake in Citigroup Inc to around 36 percent in an effort to help the bank.

Iran Not Close To Developing Nuclear Weapons, According to Gates.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced on Sunday that Iran is not close to having a nuclear weapon.

Gates’ comments came after Adm. Mike Mullen, head of the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thought Iran had enough material to make a nuclear bomb.

The United States suspects Iran of using its nuclear program to try and assemble an atomic bomb, but the Iranian government says that their program is purely for the generation of electricity.

President Barack Obama’s administration has called Iran’s nuclear program an urgent problem that the international community needs to address, Reuters reports.

Gates said that the challenge with this situation is finding a balance between sanctions to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program and incentives for active engagement with the U.S. and Europe.

2 NFL Players Missing Off Florida Coast

Two NFL players are among those on board a boat reported missing off the coast in Florida, CNN reports.

Defensive end Corey Smith, who played last season for the Detroit Lions and linebacker Marquis Cooper, who played with the Oakland Raiders, went out deep sea fishing with two other men early Saturday morning in Clearwater, Florida but never returned, according to Reuters.

The Coast Guard issued a small boat advisory Sunday in the area the boat was believed to be in, citing dangerous conditions with winds up to 30 miles per hour and seas up to 14 feet offshore.

The 21-foot-boat was reported missing Saturday afternoon and the Coast Guard began to search for the boat at about 2 a.m. Sunday. Rough weather hampered the search but the search is still ongoing.

Lakeville Man Acquitted of Charges in Baseball Bat Death

A Lakeville man has been acquitted of all charges in the fatal beating of his longtime friend.

Charlie Reynolds, 32, admitted he killed his friend Joshua Skare, 33, with a baseball bat during an altercation last March, but said that it was in self defense.

The Pioneer Press reported Sunday that jurors deliberated for over 30 hours before delivering a not guilty charge on charges of second-degree murder with intent to kill, second-degree murder without intent to kill while committing a first-degree assault, and second-degree murder without intent to kill while committing a second-degree assault.

Reynolds’ defense attorney, Kevin DeVore, told the Star Tribune that the verdict was bittersweet for his client.

“He lost his best friend and he’s going to have to struggle with that for the rest of his life.” DeVore said.

Throughout over seven days of testimony, prosecution and the defense agreed that Reynolds struck and killed Skare with a baseball bat. Most of the testimony centered on whether or not Reynolds planned to kill Skare.

“They (the jurors) obviously struggled with the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Joshua Skare,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom told the Star Tribune in a statement. “Ultimately, the jury concluded that the state had not proved beyond reasonable doubt that self-defense was not a factor in the case.”

Seven People Robbed in Seperate Incidents Saturday Night

Seven people were robbed in five separate holdups Saturday night in Minneapolis.
The suspects, described as two men in their 20s, drove up to people in a car and threatened them with a gun. Nobody was injured, the Star Tribune reports.
Police are not sure if the five robberies are linked in any way. Sgt. Bill Palmer told the Pioneer Press that although the robberies had some similarities, police were not prepared to call them related.
The robberies happened all over Minneapolis, from near Richfield to southeast Minneapolis near the Mississippi River, at Franklin Avenue. Palmer told the Star Tribune that the areas were mostly residential.
The robbers stole wallets, purses, cell phones, cash and clothing.
Police are not prepared to release any more details regarding descriptions of the robbers or their car yet because the robbery unit had not yet investigated the case.