May 5, 2008

Record Analysis

For this entry I will be examine an article on the life and crimes of con-artist Cindy McKay that was written in The Baltimore Sun.
In the article there are obviously certain public records used, such as police reports and criminal histories. This is apparent when the article says that police determined the house of McKay's ex-husband was burned down in 2002 by careless smoking, when actually McKay had stabbed him to death and then burned the house down herself. The reported had to go back and look at the police report from over five years ago to discover what was though to be the cause of the burned house.

This three-part series used a lot of different online tool to further enhance the story. My favorite one is the interactive map that had spots throughout the eastern United States to click on that detailed the various crimes and periods in McKay's life. The reporter had to know how to create an interactive map like that on the computer.

Garnett Leads Celtics into the Second Round, But Just Barely

Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds as Boston beat Atlanta 99-65 in the pivotal game seven of their first round playoff match up, according to the Star Tribune.

Boston, which won 66 games during the regular season to secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs, needed it right away as all four of their wins in the series came at home.

The Atlanta Hawks, a sub-.500 team in the regular season, pushed the Celtics to the brink of an early an unexpected elimination. Despite the close call, Boston remains optimistic about their playoff hopes.

"The pressure of this will probably pay off later," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. (Fox Sports)

This season was supposed to be the year that former Timberwolves legend Kevin Garnett finally got his NBA championship that he never could with Minnesota. His arrival along with shooting guard Ray Allen propelled Boston to one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA regular season history. But the playoffs, in which Garnett has only managed to get out of the first round once, is a whole other story.

"For us to be an elite team and one that makes it to the championship," Celtic star Paul Pierce said, "we can't have any nights off, we can't take plays off and we've got to be able to get it done on the road."

If Atlanta had pulled out game seven, it would have been only the second time a number eight seed had knocked off a number one seed in a seven-game series in the NBA playoffs, according to Fox Sports.

Twins Climb to First Place Amongst Five-Game Winning Strea

The Minnesota Twins are in first place of the AL Central division for the first time in over a year after sweeping division rivals Detroit and Chicago.

The biggest victory of all came Sunday with a seven to six win over Detroit after falling behind by six runs in the first inning, according to the Pioneer Press.

Minnesota starting pitcher Boof Bonsor game up six runs in the first inning to a Tigers team that had scored only two runs in its previous two games. But Joe Mauer's two-run single in the seventh inning capped a comeback that put that gave the one and half game lead over Chicago for first place in the AL Central. Earlier in the week Minnesota won a pair against the then division leading White Sox, starting their current five game streak.

Mauer was very pleased with how the team responded after a dismal first inning. "I think that's huge for our pitching staff, to show that we're still going to go out there and try to put up runs for 'em," Mauer said. (Star Tribune)

Minnesota's lead could vanish quickly though as they begin a three-game series with Chicago on Tuesday.

May 3, 2008

Passenger Trains Collide in China

A passenger train heading to Qingdao city in eastern China derailed early Monday morning, colliding with another train, reported the Xinhua News Agency.

The collision, which happened at 4:43 a.m., killed at least 66 people and left 247 injured. The accident happened in the city of Zibo in Shandong Province, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The train headed to Qingdao city derailed going around a bend and slammed into the other train, derailing it as well. The collision threw at least 10 cars from the train into the ditch, according to witnesses. (New York Times)

"I suddenly woke up when I felt the train stopped with a jolt. In a minute or two it started off again, but soon toppled," said one passenger who managed to escape the collision unscathed. (BBC News)

This most recent accident is the part of a long line or train accidents in China, which has one of the world's most heavily used rail systems, according to the New York Times.

Last September on the very same line there was collision of two trains, but no one was killed. In January a train killed 18 track workers when it hit them while traveling 75 mph in the dark, according to the New York Times.

April 20, 2008

Marijuana Debate Heating Up

The debate over legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes is up, according to the Pioneer Press Monday.

The Marijuana Policy Product is launching a statewide television advertisement campaign to push for the ability of critically ill patients to be able to legally obtain the drug.

"I'm tired of being a criminal," said Lynn Rubenstein Nicholson of Minneapolis, who fell through a ceiling when she was ten and has suffered extreme pain ever since. Nicholson, 49, has used marijuana in the past for pain relief. (Pioneer Press)

The Minnesota Senate has already past a bill that would allow marijuana use for the treatment of such conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Aids. The House is expected to vote on the bill in the next three weeks. If it passed, it would then be up to Gov. Tim Pawlenty to pass the bill that would make Minnesota the 13th state legalize the drug for medical purposes, according to the Star Tribune.

Their is growing data that marijuana can be a beneficial treatment for diseases that cause extreme pain. In order to qualify to use it, a doctor must prescribe it. Patients would then need to register and carry an ID card that shows they have been advised by a health professional to use the drug, according to the Star Tribune.

At this point however it seems Gov. Pawlenty would be unlikely to pass the bill even if it did pass the house, because law enforcement does not back the bill, according to the Pioneer Press.

Wild Fall to Avalanche in Playoffs

The Minnesota Wild ended their season Saturday with a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in game six of the opening round of the 2008 NHL playoffs, reported the Star Tribune.

The Wild came into their first round match-up with Colorado with home ice advantage and big dreams for the post season. But after gaining a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series, the Wild dropped three strait to the Avalanche, leading to their second first round exit in the last two years.

"To lose in the first round again is very disappointing," veteran Brian Rolston said. "[Colorado goalie Jose] Theodore definitely played a role in this series. In a series like this, a hot goalie can take you out. I think that's what happened." (Star Tribune)

The Wild could not solve Theodore all series, as the goalie stopped 199 out off 211 shots, according to the Pioneer Press.

Minnesota's top scorer and play maker, Mario Gaborik, was held in check all series long, only scoring one point in six games. Gaborik had been stellar in previous playoff series, scoring 23 points in 21 games. But Without him producing, the Wild didn't have much of a chance.

"If I was producing, I'm sure it would have made a difference," Gaborik said. "It was very tight out there. They did a great job defensively. I tried to find a way every game. Either it was tight or there was Theodore. Things didn't work out the way I wanted it to. I've just got to learn from this." (Star Tribune)

April 13, 2008

High Food Proces Threaten Haiti

High food prices have lead to deadly protesting and an increasingly large hunger problem in Haiti, reported the Associated Press Sunday.

Almost of all of the food in Haiti is imported, and global food prices have risen 40 percent in less than a year. Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with most of its residents surviving on less than $2 dollars a day, according to the New York Times. The recent increase in food prices is just adding to the trouble, and the residents of Haiti aren't standing for it.

On Wednesday police had to fend off rioters in Haiti who were looting government buildings and burning tires in Port-au-Prince, the countries capital, according to the New York Times. A total of seven people have died in the past week do to protests, including a member of the U.N police force, reported the Associated Press.

The U.N. World Food Program has appealed for donations to help them reach their goal of $96 million to help aid Haiti. Mamadou Mbaye, who heads the U.N. World Food Program's office in Haiti, says that Haiti's deeply rooted problems of poverty and and dependence on imported food will take a while to fix.

"Some measures will generate results in the long term ... but whether people will be willing to wait for that is another issue," Mbaye said. (Associated Press)

Diversity Analysis

For me diversity analysis entry, I will be looking at the Star Tribune article about the controversial Muslim public school in Inver Grove Heights.

The story is definitely not a stereotype. It goes into the various practices that occur in the TIZA school that violates laws of mixing public school with religion. The story is pretty balanced all in all. At one point the author notes that if the same thing was going on with Christianity at a public school, that the situation would have been taken care of long ago. You can tell that the author is looking at this story with an unbiased eye and is simply comparing what is going on at the school with what is actually legal.

I actually learned a few things about Islam that I didn't know before reading the story, mainly based on the first hand accounts of the substitute teacher, Amanda Getz. I didn't know the details about the ritual washing that occurs before Muslims pray for example.

I already knew that their are laws against mixing public schools and religion, but I didn't know some of the finer points about them that this story pointed out. The article does a good job of articulating these laws so it makes it easy for the reader to decide if the school violated them. The article definitely does have its own opinion on the story, but it is such a well supported opinion that I think just about everyone can agree that it is essentially a fact that some of the practices at this school are illegal.

Muslim Public School Blurring Line Between School and Religion

A public charter school in Inver Grove Heights is coming under heavy scrutiny for promoting religion at a public school, reported the Star Tribune on Wednesday.

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), is a K-8 charter school that shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota. It is illegal for public schools to promote or endorse religion, but there practices occurring at TIZA that suggests that is exactly whats going on, according to the Star Tribune.

TIZA's director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim religious leader. A class called Islamic Studies is offered at the end of the day and the cafeteria only serves Islamic food.

Children are also forced to pray at assemblies, according Amanda Getz, a substitute teacher who taught at TIZA on March 14.

"Teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day," who Getz said was preparing to lead prayer. "The prayer I saw was not voluntary. The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred." (Star Tribune)

Getz also said that there seemed to be no difference between the supposed after school activity of Islamic studies and any other class. She cited that the buses don't leave until after Islamic Studies, and that there were no other extra-curricular activities offered.

"I got the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other," Getz said. (Star Tribune)

By law, schools cannot favor one religion by promoting after-school religious instruction for only one group.

TIZA has been using tax dollars since 2003 and took in almost $3 million in government grants last year, according to the Assyrian International News Agency.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) has launched an investigation of TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education has also begun a review, according to the Star Tribune. The question is what took them so long?

Florida Teenagers Videotape Brutal Beating of Florida Girl

Eight teenagers have been arrested for the viscous beating of Victoria Lindsay in Lakeland, Fla, according to MyFox Tampa Bay.

On March 30th, two girls told Lindsay,16, to meet them at a house in South Lakeland, were four other girls were also hiding, according to investigators. When Lindsay walked in the six girls beat her to unconsciousness. When she came to they beat her some more, according to sheriff's office documents. Two boys were standing lookout at the house.

Lindsay suffered a concussion, as well as damage to both her left ear and eye. She also has number of bruises, though she is expected to recover, according to the Star Telegram.

The video did not become public until this past week, in which some of the friends tapped the excruciating pummeling on their cell phones. The video shows that Lindsay never fought back during the beating. The Eight teens have charged with third-degree felonies for battery and false imprisonment, reported MyFox Tampa Bay.

The girls were planing to post the video on Myspace and YouTube to embarrass Lindsay and teach her a lesson, according to investigators. Apparently they were retaliating from some trash talk Lindsay had posted on her Myspace page about them.

Lindsay was a senior honor student at Mulberry High School, but will continue her education at home rather than return to school, according to the Star Telegram.

"She's scared. Scared to go back to school, scared to go out in public because she's afraid of repercussions that may happen," Patrick Lindsay, her father, said. (MyFox Tampa Bay)

Liriano Rejoins Rotation

Francisco Liriano will rejoin the Minnesota Twins' pitching rotation Sunday after an 19-month absence due to Tommy John surgery, according to the Pioneer Press.

Liriano, 24, started the 2006 season with the Twins in the bullpen, but was soon moved to the starting rotation. On May 19, 2006, Liriano began what would be one of the most dominate stretches of pitching in recent baseball history.

In 121 innings in 2006, Liriano posted a sterling 12-3 record with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts. But on Sept. 13, 2006 Liriano had to walk off the mound with severe elbow pain, reported the Star Tribune. He had to have Tommy John surgery on Nov. 6, 2006, and was forced to miss all of the 2007 season.

Liriano has worked himself back into shape though and is ready to make his major league debut, part two.

"It's something big for me, my comeback game," Liriano said. "I'm going to go try to do the best I can." (Pioneer Press)

Everyone knows Liriano's best is outstanding, even though he has struggled somewhat recently. Liriano has posted a pedestrian 7.56 ERA so far this year in two minor league starts. But Twin's manager Ron Gardenhire knows the old Liriano is still in there.

"A few times out there (in spring training), he just dominated a couple innings where we were like, 'Oof,' " Gardenhire said. (Pioneer Press)

If Liriano can indeed return to his old form, it would be a big lift for the Twins.

"He could be huge for us,"Gardenhire said. "If he goes out and does his thing and tries not to overthrow the ball -- a lefthander in this league with good stuff can do a lot of damage. So, it's exciting." (Star Tribune)

April 9, 2008

Kansas Tops Memphis and Wins National Championship

Kansas used a late burst to tie Memphis in the final seconds, before pulling away in overtime to secure the NCAA Championship Monday, reported the New York Times.

Junior guard Mario Chalmers' three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left tied the game at 63. Kansas then outscored a deflated Memphis team 12-5 in overtime to take the title game 75-68.

Chalmers' shot, with Memphis guard Derrick right in his face, will go down as one of the most clutch in tournament history.

“When it left my hand, it felt it was good and it went in,? said Chalmers, who scored 18 points. (New York Times)

Late in the second half in looked like Memphis had the game in hand, leading by nine points with just over two minutes remaining. But free throw shooting, Memphis' Achilles heal all season, derailed them as standout guards Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts missed four of five down the stretch to let Kansas back in the game, according to Chicago Tribune.

Kansas (37-3) won their third national title, but only their first in 20 years. Sophomore forward Darrell Arther Kansas with 20 points and 10 rebounds. It was a sweet victory for head coach Bill Self, who had never been able to even reach the Final Four before this year in four previous chances.

"Unbelievable game, unbelievable finish," Self said. "We had so many guys make plays, and then our best clutch player made a great clutch play at the end." (Chicago Tribune)

April 7, 2008

Olympic Tourch Relay Disrupted in London

25 people trying to disrupt the Olympic torch relay in London were arrested by British Police Sunday, reported the China Internet Information Center.

One person tried to seize the torch from the carrier but was immediately apprehended, while two other tried to put out the torch with a fire extinguisher. The people arrested are being charged with public order offenses, according to police.

According to Deng Zhuting, president of the London Chinatown Chinese Association, the protest was by a group of Tibetan separatists. (China Internet Information Center) China came down hard recently on protesters in Tibet fighting for self-rule and democratic freedoms.

"The Olympic torch should not be going through Tibet while Tibet is under occupation," protester Simon Cook said Sunday in London. (CNN)

The torch was on its way through London as part of the global Olympic Torch Relay leading up to this year's summer games in Beijing. There were thousands of people lining the streets of London for the relay, which will cover 137,000 km in 130 days before entering the National Stadium in Beijing on Aug 8 for the Olympics' opening ceremony.

The torch is expected to go through Paris on Monday, where there will be 3,00 French policeman ready to combat any protesters, according to CNN.

High School Girl Dies in Bus Crash

A Pelican Rapids High School Girl was killed in a bus crash on Interstate 94 early Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.

Jessica Weishair, 16, was killed when a bus carrying students back from a spring break band trip in Chicago crashed and skidded into a ditch. She was pronounced dead on the scene according to some reports. (Pioneer Press)

There were a total of 47 students and chaperones on the bus when it crashed, dozens of whom were injured. Rescuers spent hours getting students who had arms and legs trapped out from under the bus, according to State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson. (Star Tribune)

"All they said was it was dark, most of them were sleeping and didn't know what happened," said Mercy Hospitol spokeswoman Gloria O'Connell. (Pioneer Press)

The cause of the crash, which occurred at the intersection of Wright County road 37 and I-94, was not immediately determined, reported the Pioneer Press.

The bus was driven by Loren D. Ernst, 69. There was a second bus also transporting kids that were unhurt

"He is an experienced driver," said Jay Richards, co-owner of the company Richards Transportation Service in Moorhead to which the truck belonged to. (Star Tribune)

April 6, 2008

Numbers Analysis

For my numbers analysis, I will be looking at the New York Times article about increase food stamp use.

The reporters used numbers throughout the story. He used numbers of the amount of people receiving food stamps, percentages of populations using food stamps and percent increase of the number of people using food stamps in certain states. The reporter also uses numbers to state the average family incomes and average amount of aid received in the food stamp program.

Despite the large amount of numbers used, the reported has organized and explained them well so that the reader doesn't get lost.

The reported obviously had to do some math to calculate some of the numbers. One example was when he reported that food stamps recipients grew 10 percent or more in a number of states from Dec 2006 to Dec 2007. The reported had to look at the old number of people who received food stamps and the new number of people and calculate the percent change.

The reported used a lot of different sources to get the numbers for the story. The Congressional Budget Office, the Michigan Department of Human Services and the Department of Agriculture were all among the numerous sources used.