Analysis: Computer Assisted Research

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I chose to examine this article about a misinformation campaign that used the names of a USA Today reporter and editor. The story discusses the activity of these fake accounts, used to convey false information at the expense of the reporter and the editor.

The reporter had to be relatively knowledgeable about the Internet, as he apparently looked up some Internet domain registries. In the article it says, "For example, Internet domain registries show the website was created Jan. 7 -- just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker's byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site,, through the same company." The reporter had to know where to look to find this information. I'm not sure how I would classify the "skills" he needed to complete this story, but he somehow was able to view information in Internet domain registries. Knowing how to look up Internet domain registries is not something I would classify as common knowledge. He used the information available in the Internet domain registries to make connections with other events, adding depth to the story.

Public pot-smoking protest busted


Pro-pot protesters at the University of Colorado were forced to disperse on Friday, CNN reports.

Hundreds of people turned out for the event, but no one smoked at the rally, CNN reports.

According to CNN, the school closed the campus to outsiders and spread an unpleasant-smelling, fish-based fertilizer on the quad before enclosing it in yellow police tape and stationing police officers around the perimeter.

Three people were arrested for trespassing when they walked onto the quad, sat down and refused to leave, USA TODAY reports.

"Clearly they wanted to get arrested," campus police spokesman Ryan Huff said.

In past years the Norlin Quad on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder had drawn 10,000 to 12,000 people for the event that occurs on April 20, CNN reports.

According to USA TODAY, Huff estimated that the university would spend about $110,000 on law-enforcement Friday, about double the amount spent last year.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announced Norwood Teague, currently the director of athletics at Virginia Commonwealth University, as the lone finalist for the athletic director position, the Pioneer Press reports.

The position was held for the past 10 years by Joel Maturi, who announced in February that he would be retiring.

Teague, 46, has more than 20 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics and has held his current position at VCU since July 2006, the Pioneer Press reports.

According to the Pioneer Press, Teague was one of about 40 candidates to interview for the position in a national search.

The Washington Post reports VCU's athletic annual fund has grown more than 119 percent under Teague. He has also led the campaign to build a $10 million practice facility for men's and women's basketball and other sports, the Washington Post reports.

Viking stadium plan still alive

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The possibility of a new Vikings stadium in Minnesota has been brought back to life after a 8-6 vote in the Senate on Friday, the Pioneer Press reports.

The vote came just hours after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Gov. Mark Dayton and other legislative leaders, according to the Pioneer Press.

"We're very pleased with the progress," said Vikings vice president Lester Bagley. "It's been an up-and-down week."

The stadium bill proposal was shot down in the House in a 9-6 vote last week, the Star Tribune reports.

According to the Star Tribune, a NFL executive said last week that the lack of progress on a stadium was creating "ripe'' conditions for the Vikings to be sold and moved.

Under the plan approved Friday, the Vikings would pay $427 million while the state would add $398 million, the Star Tribune reports. Minneapolis would contribute $150 million to construction costs. The team would also contribute $327 million to the stadium's operation, and the city would add another $189 million.

CNN reports George Zimmerman may remain in jail until the middle of next week due to concerns about collecting enough money for his $150,000 bond, his lawyer said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters Saturday outside the jail, Mark O'Mara said his client is "focused on getting out" while still aware this is "a long, long process."

Zimmerman's defense team must worry about his safety once he leaves jail, FOX NEWS reports.

"He clearly puts himself in jeopardy unless he takes precautions," said New York attorney Barry Slotnick, who represented subway shooter Bernhard Goetz in the 1980s. According to FOX NEWS, defense attorneys for other high-profile clients who awaited trial on bail said the best way to protect Zimmerman was to get him out of Florida, keep him from the public eye and never leave him alone.

Zimmerman apologized to Trayvon Martin's family in court on Friday, CNN reports.

CNN reports Martin's parents were "completely devastated" over the decision to allow Zimmerman to post bond and eventually go free, said a family attorney, Benjamin Crump.

The U.N. Security Council voted Saturday to form a group of up to 300 unarmed military observers and an unspecified number of civilian specialists to monitor the cease-fire between the Syrian government and armed opposition forces, the Washington Post reports.

The U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria is set to reinforce a small team that began testing the nine-day-old cease-fire this week with visits to multiple Syrian towns, the Washington Post reports.

According to CNN, the cease-fire is part of a six-point peace plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan and accepted by the Syrian government.

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the Obama administration supports the decision but there should be "no illusions" that the observers will erase the tension in Syria, according to the Washington Post.

The city of Homs underwent another day of heavy shelling Sunday after a temporary pause in shelling on Saturday, when two U.N. monitors were in the city, CNN reports.

"Today is the first day since two months ... Homs (is) without shelling," one man told the monitors Saturday. "When you come, shelling stops."

19-acre fire started by three boys

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The Albert Lea Tribune reports a 19-acre grass fire that threatened several homes on the south end of Albert Lea on Monday was started by three pre-teen boys who were playing with matches, according to fire officials.

Albert Lea Fire Capt. Mark Light said the boys admitted to starting the fire.

The fire did slight damage to a radio tower owned by KATE radio, KIMT reports.

The blaze ventured as close as 100 feet from at least one home, the Albert Lea Tribune reports.

Crews were able to contain the fire before it got too close to any homes, but it was enough to frighten residents, KIMT reports.

"When the wind picked up like that it started to get a little close to the house and that, I was a little worried about it, yeah," said Mark Flesche, a resident of the area.

St. Paul man gets 12 years for setting teen on fire

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Curtis E. Reed, who set his girlfriend's son ablaze after an early-morning altercation in their St. Paul home last summer, was sentenced Thursday in Ramsey County District Court to 12 years in prison, the Star Tribune reports.

Reed, 55, pleaded guilty as charged on March 2 to first-degree assault on Antoine Willis, the Pioneer Press reports. Ramsey County District Judge Rosanne Nathanson called the attack "senseless and unconscionable."

The victim, Antoine Willis Jr., then 19, had been asleep when Reed sprayed him with lighter fluid and lit him on fire, according to the Star Tribune.

Willis attended the sentencing, but did not speak to the judge or with reporters afterward. He had scarring on the left side of his neck, but he appeared in good physical condition, the Star Tribune reports.

The Pioneer Press reports Reed apologized to Willis on Thursday, saying, "I made a stupid mistake."

Heroin use is up in Twin Cities

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A recent article in the Star Tribune reports heroin deaths in the Twin Cities made a large increase last year as the drug grew more popular and potent.

Heroin-related deaths nearly tripled in Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties in 2011, prompting sheriffs in the Twin Cities area on Thursday to issue a public plea for help in combating growing use of the drug in the area, the Albert Lea Tribune reports.

"We don't want to see heroin claim more lives and we don't want another year with huge numbers like that," Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. "And even one death, of course, is way too many."

According to the Star Tribune, new test results showed that heroin purchased in the Twin Cities is 93.5 percent pure -- the highest potency in the nation.

"You don't know how strong it is until you get high," 21-year-old Will Connell said. "And then it can be too late. It's just one of the easier drugs to overdose on."

Connell is a former heroin user who has been sober for 20 months, the Star Tribune said. Analyzing his own pathway to heroin use, he said it is important to stop young teens from abusing drugs that are easier to access.

"It all starts with people being more conscious about prescription pill abuse," Connell said.

Newark mayor saves woman from house fire

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker rescued his 47-year-old neighbor from a burning house Thursday, CNN reports.

KARE 11 reports Booker says he didn't feel brave, but did feel terrified as he dashed through flames with the woman over his shoulder.

The Mayor was treated and released from a hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation and second-degree burns on his right hand, according to KARE 11.

"I'm a neighbor that did what most neighbors would do, which is to jump into action to help a friend," Booker said.

Zina Hodge, Booker's neighbor, is in critical condition, according to CNN. Three others were saved in the fire by officials.

As for being referred to as a "superhero," Booker does not view himself as such. "I think that's way over the top," he said outside his home. "There are people who do this every day."

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