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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 Tribunehttp://www.startribune.com/local/17406054.html?page=2&c=y 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.

Record Number of Food Stamps Expected to Be Used This Coming Year

The Congressional Budget Office is predicting a record of $28 million Americans to be receiving food stamps in this coming fiscal year, reported the New York Times Monday.

That number would be the highest ever since the aid program began in the 1960s. Officials sight the economic slowdown as the one of the main reasons for the increase. Food prices also have risen about 5 percent this year, according to the Department of Agriculture. (New York Times) Compile those factors with decreasing jobs and high gas prices and food stamp use is at an all time high in many states.

One of those states is Ohio, in which a record one in 10 people now use food stamps. In Portage County, one in seven people now receive aid through food stamps, according to the Bedford Times Register. Anita Herington, director of the county Department of Job and Family Services, says there would be even more people using food stamps if everyone that was eligible took advantage of the program.

Some people simply don't feel they should be dependent on any type of aid from the government. But Harringtopn doesn't see it that way.

"It's not welfare," Herington said. "It's a nutrition program. It is to allow people, young families and senior citizens, get nutritious food," she said. (Bedford Times Register)

Eligibility eligibility is determined by a complex formula, but essentially recipients must have few assets and incomes below 130 percent of the poverty line, which equals out to be less than $27,560 for a family of four, reported the New York Times.

Twins Top Angels in Season Opener 3-2

The Minnesota Twins started the 2008 season off on the right foot with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at the Metrodome Monday, reported the Los Angeles Times.

In a game featuring longtime and fan favorite Twin Torii Hunter playing in the Metrodome as a opponent for the first time, the Twins were energized by two newcomers of their own.

Center fielder Carlos Gomez, acquired in the trade that sent Johan Santana to New York, had two hits and two runs in the game.

Free agent pitcher Livan Hernandez only allowed two runs in seven strong innings and was credited with the win.

Before the game Torii Hunter, signed to a $90 million dollar contract by the Angels in the off-season, drew a standing ovation from the home crowd which he dazzled with outstanding play over the past to years.

Despite a temperatures below freezing and wet snow, 49,596 fans packed the Metrodome, the most in 15 years according to the Los Angela Times. Thank goodness for the dome.

"It's nice to be inside today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We wouldn't be playing in too many other places, that's for sure." (Associated Press)

Despite the less than ideal weather, the Twins will still be eager to get into their new ballpark in 2010, reported the Associated Press.

"I'll be happy once we get out of this place," Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. "The benefits of the new stadium far outweigh having to deal with a little weather once in awhile." (Associated Press)

April 5, 2008

Final Four Composed of All Top Seeds for Fist Time Ever

For the first time in history, all four of the number one seeds in the NCAA men's basketball tournament have reached the Final Four, reported the The Birmingham News on Saturday.

It is a superstar field composed of Kansas, Memphis, UCLA and the number one overall seed, North Carolina. The four teams have a combined record of 143-9 record this year, and whichever teams comes out on top in the championship game Monday will have set the record for wins in a season. (The Birmingham News)

The top four seeds have more or less rolled through the tourney this year, with the closest call coming for Kansas in their regional final game against Davidson last weekend.

Davidson, a number 10-seeded Cinderella, had Kansas in the ropes, reported the New York Times. Down 57-59 in the final seconds, Jason Richards heaved up a three that was off the mark, sending Kansas in as the last final four team.

It was pure relief for head coach Bill Self, who though Richard's shot might have been on the mark. Self had never reached a Final Four before, despite reaching the regional final game four times previously, two times with Kansas.

“It looked like it had a real good chance,? he said of Richards’s shot. (New York Times)

UCLA is undoubtedly the most experience of the field, having reached their third straight Final Four. But each of the last two years they have been knocked off by eventual champion Florida.

Both Memphis and North Carolina have also been stopped in the regional final game recently, so all four teams are hungry and motivated and getting so close before but not reaching their goal.

"All of these teams have clearly separated themselves," said analyst Clark Kellogg. "They have experience that is rather unique and tremendous talent and they've worked through the pain and disappointment of coming close and they are using that as a motivating and galvanizing force." (The Birmingham News)