September 2011 Archives

Cantaloupe Kills 13

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By Alison Henderson

The deadliest outbreak of food borne illness in years has killed 13 people and infected at least 72 others.

The cause of the outbreak was linked to the bacteria, listeria. The bacteria was traced back to cantaloupes from a farm in Colorado.

Symptoms of a listeria infection are not immediately apparent and the numbers of reported infections are expected to increase in the coming weeks, according to an NPR report.

"After people get infected by food contaminated with the bacteria, it can take weeks for them to start having symptoms like fever and muscle aches," said Nell Greenfieldboyce, an NPR science correspondent.

The outbreak is causing some food distributors to be more cautious, looking to stricter regulations on the way food is grown, handled and cleaned, according to a report in the New York Times.

Stephen F. Patricio, a melon shipper and chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, said that cantaloupe sales in California were suffering though only Colorado cantaloupes were contaminated, according to the New York Times report.

"The entire melon category needs to look at the best practices and research that's been done by the California industry and others to best analyze their own risks," Mr. Patricio said. "Or we're all going to continue to suffer."

Attribution Analysis

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By Alison Henderson
This BBC report analyzes the social media impacts on the Troy Davis trial. The story does not have much attribution because most of the information is well known. The beginning of the report relies heavily on references to tweets. Because the story is related to social media, specifically Twitter, the citations are appropriate. In this situation, the links offer more interaction and keep the reader engaged. I think in a story that was not related to social media, referencing multiple tweets might make the report seem cluttered and illegitimate.
The latter half of the story cites statements made from social media experts (including several quotes from Brian Southwell). The majority of the attributions come after the quote. The formula is "quote-says-name" followed by a description of the person's relevance. This set up makes the story easy to read.

Faster than Speed of Light

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By Alison Henderson
Hoping to have made a mistake, scientists believe they discovered a particle that travels faster than the speed of light.

Neutrino, the particle in question, traveled from Geneva to a lab in Italy 1 billionth of a second faster than light, according to a report from Reuters.

If this discovery is accurate, it will disprove Einstein's Theory of Relativity and truths in modern science that are based on the theory.

"We wanted to find a mistake - trivial mistakes, more complicated mistakes, or nasty effects - and we didn't." Antonio Ereditato of the Opera collaboration told BBC News.

Though the team has measured the travel time over 16,000 times, according to the BBC report, scientists involved are looking to other colleagues to "scrutinize" their work.

Woman Killed by Police Officer on Interstate

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By Alison Henderson

A Golden Valley police officer shot and killed a woman Thursday, near the Hopkins Crossroads in Minnetonka after pulling her over.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m., when the officer found the motorist to be armed. The officer then fired at the woman, according to a statement from the Golden Valley Police Department.

"The lone occupant of the vehicle, an adult female, was in possession of a handgun and was subsequently fatally shot by the officer," police said.

The shooting created chaos along the interstate. As confused travelers scattered to get off the road, others gathered to view the spectacle, witnesses told the Star Tribune.

Few details are being provided, including the names of the suspect and the officer. However the suspect vehicle had California license plates and was registered to a woman from California, according to a KSTP report.

The officer was placed on temporary leave, and further investigation is underway.

By Alison Henderson
Today's inauguration of President Eric Kaler sent a message of advocacy, diversity and hope for the University of Minnesota.

Kaler plans to exercise the University's entrepreneurial muscles and increase private funding, according to a Minnesota Daily report.

He also plans to make the University one of the top three public research institutions in the nation.

"From the pacemaker to the black box, from open heart surgery to Honeycrisp apples, the University's history is rich and profound," Kaler said in his inaugural speech. "If we don't invest...we absolutely will not discover new things. Instead, we will wither as a university, and we will decline as a state."

Inaugural attendees, such as electrical engineering student Emal Alwis, seemed hopeful after hearing President Kaler's speech.

"I look toward it optimistically," Alwis told the Star Tribune "that good change can come."

Military Drops Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy

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By Alison Henderson
Many celebrated Tuesday when the Pentagon formally repealed the military policy, Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT).

The policy, which was implemented in 1993, prohibited openly gay persons from serving in the armed forces. After 17 years, the ban was repealed by a 65 to 31 Senate vote, according to a Washington Post report.

Those in favor of the repeal said the policy was "ill-advised" and "forced troops to lie to their country to serve," reported the Washington Post. Some even equated the victory to the end of segregation in the military.

Army Lt. Col. Michael D. Jason addressed the repeal in a Facebook post.

" 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' repealed today," he wrote. "The American citizen has asked some of us to fight for them. We volunteered. Now, as proclaimed by law, stay out of my Soldiers' bedrooms. About time."

Though the ban was repealed, there is still a fear of harassment. However, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta stated that the military would have "zero tolerance with regards to harassment," according to the Washington Post report.

Minority Leader, Nanci Pelosi recommended that the Obama administration look at ways to extend benefits to gay troops and their families, reported the New York Times.
She also said that because the repeal allows the reenlistment of soldiers discharged under the policy, the military should correct records of those soldiers.

Japanese Company Target of Viral Attack

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By Alison Henderson
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), one of Japan's leading defense manufacturers, confirmed Monday, that it was the target of what appears to be a cyber attack.

The company raised concern after discovering viruses on over 80 different servers last month, when hackers sent highly customized messages requesting login information. These attacks, which are commonly known as spear phishing, attempt to gain sensitive and confidential information.

Though MHI does not suspect that the attacks were successful, the defense ministry is requesting a full investigation of the incident, according to a BBC report.

MHI may have breeched its contract with the defense ministry after keeping the attacks quiet for over a month. The ministry only learned of the incident from local reports, not from MHI itself.

"It's up to the defense ministry to decide whether or not the information is important. That is not for Mitsubishi Heavy to decide. A report should have been made," a ministry spokesman told Reuters.

Lead Analysis

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By Alison Henderson
In an article from the BBC about an earthquake in Nepal, India, the story is reported as hard-news. The lead is presented in a straight-forward manner addressing who, where, what and why with little excess information. The main news value addressed in this lead seems to be impact, because the reporter begins with the number of people that have been killed.
The most emphasis is focused on the people that were killed or injured and the magnitude of the earthquake. By providing this information and emphasis in the lead, the reporter is able to express the gravity of the situation without directly stating "this is serious". The facts are speaking for themselves in this case, which is what gives it the hard-news format.
I think it's interesting that the lead left out the "when" component of the story. Perhaps this is a continuing story that has been updated several times since it occurred.

Weather Conditions Slow Wildfires

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By Alison Henderson
Wildfires near the Boundary Waters are slowing down with the help of rainy weather today.
The fire, starting Aug. 18, was caused by a lightning strike outside of Ely, Minnesota. It has spread over 94,000 acres. Rapid spread combined with inaccessibility has proven problematic in trying to contain the fire.
However, as wet weather moves in, the fire appears to be slowing down. Ely National Forest district ranger, Mark Van Every told MPR that firefighters are making headway, and in some areas people have gained road access.
Earlier in the week intense winds caused smoke from the fire to travel as far as Illinois. A report from the Racine Journal Times in Southeast Wisconsin addressed complaints and confusion from local residents. CBS reported Chicago area complaints of burning eyes and difficult breathing.

Free Store Relieves Como Neighborhood of Waste

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By Alison Henderson
A free store in the Southeast Como neighborhood has opened to offer students and residents an alternative to excessive dumping during moving cycles.
MIMO is a temporary store that allows residents to exchange household items for no cost. The program seeks to address the growing waste problem in the neighborhood by providing a safe place for unwanted household items.
In past years, the neighborhood has seen large piles of trash collecting along the curbs. The waste can sit for up to a week. This becomes a health and livability issue for residents in the area, and a cost issue for landlords and the city.
Because of these concerns, the city is enforcing stronger regulation on problematic properties by way of fines. The Minnesota Daily reports increased efforts by landlords to provide proper recycling and disposal information as a result of this occurence.
The event is biannual, occurring during moving cycles. Students often save money by finding items they may have otherwise had to buy new.
MIMO is run by the Southeast Como Improvement Association and supported by the City of Minneapolis. It is part of a larger sustainability initiative to reduce the amount of trash being sent to the incinerator, as plans to collect more garbage in the city are opposed, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

Bodies Hanging from Bridge Send Message to Social Bloggers

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By Alison Henderson

Two bodies were seen hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico this week as a warning to social media "snitches".
The bodies were a man and woman in their early 20s though neither has been identified. Both the man and women were severely mangled.
Signs hanging near the pair clearly declared the intent of this action. The signs stated that they were killed for their online denouncements of the drug cartel, and that similar action of others would yield similar results.
Citizens along the Mexico boarder have taken to reporting activities of the drug cartel on social media websites in an attempt to help the federal government track the cartel. Reports are typically anonymous to keep reporters and their families safe from the cartel.
Incidents of hangings are not uncommon. An August report from the BBC tells a similar story of four men being hung by their ankles near Cuernavaca, Mexico. The incident in Nuevo Laredo, however, was arguably the first act against social network users, according to a CNN report.

Hard Times Offer Tent City as Form of Relief

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By Alison Henderson
Dozens of displaced workers are looking to the woods of New Jersey for respite.
As the effects of the economic crisis continue to challenge Americans, many struggling to find employment have set up a simple, low-cost life in Tent City.
At the cost of roughly $1,000 each month, Rev. Steven Brigham of Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church is able to run this boreal community, providing its residents with bread, clothing and cans of food.
Tent City, lying just outside of Lakewood, New Jersey, receives little support from the government, and is currently in a lawsuit with the surrounding township for misuse of public lands, CNN reported.
The community has also struggled with intensifying weather conditions. Ausbury Park Press, the area's local paper reported the challenges that arose in the face of Hurricane Irene.

Glowing Cats Assist Researchers in AIDS Study

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By Alison Henderson
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are looking to glowing cats for the cure to HIV and AIDS infections.
Scientists have developed a process that involves injecting a gene from monkeys into cat eggs. Kittens then produce an AIDS resistant protein in the cells that are susceptible to the disease. This gene, also known as molecule TRIM5-alpha, scans cells in the body. It then enters viral cell and blocks harmful action, according to a BBC report.
To avoid invasive testing, researchers include a jellyfish gene in the injection that causes the modified cells to glow. Shining a blue light on the kitten shows that the injection has taken hold in the cat.
Cats are the subject of this test because they are susceptible to Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Similar to HIV, FIV depletes the body's ability to fight off infection, leading to AIDs in cats.
Molecular biologist, Dr. Eric Poeschla told NPR that if the gene is able to protect against the virus, it may be used to help other mammals in the future.

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