February 2012 Archives

Hong Kong leader under investigation over corruption

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang is under investigation of corruption by a local commission and is facing a "possible impeachment effort by lawmakers," the New York Times said.

Mr. Tsang was accused of accepting trips to Macau and and Phuket, Thailand, on private jets and yachts owned by businessmen, according to Bloomberg. The Independent Commission Against Corruption received the complaint against Mr. Tsang last weekend and started investigating whether Mr. Tsang had accepted bribes, the New York Times said. Local news media reported Mr. Tsang was also "planning the below-market lease of a penthouse" in Shenzhen, China, according to the New York Times.

Mr. Tsang expressed his shock to "address questions about [his] integrity" in a letter to all members of the civil service, according to Bloomberg. He would be answering doubts about his trips, which he said he had paid for the rides, on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

Citizens were concerned about inappropriate influence in the government by business elite and their confidence in local leaders was shaken, the New York Times said. Public scrutiny of government officials have risen in recent years, Bloomberg said. Before Mr. Tsang's accusation, two candidates for the next chief executive Henry Tang and C.Y. Leung also faced "conflict-of-interest" scandals, the New York Times said.

A terrorist attack involving bomb in Katmandu, Nepal killed three men and injured seven near government offices Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Home Minister Bijaya Gachchedar told the Associated Press (reported in Fox News) a group calling itself United Ethnic Liberation Front took responsibility for this attack, which was the first in four years. The Wall Street Journal said six years. The government heightened security immediately, Gachchedar told the Associated Press.

Several ethnic groups in southern Nepal threatened violence fighting for their right, the Associated Press said. According to the Wall Street Journal, ethnic groups in Nepal and a Maoist-led Constituent Assembly would decide on May 28 the form of government they want and how much power to give regions of the country. The Maoists became the largest party in elections in 2008 after the 10-year civil war between the party and the government ended in 2006, the Wall Street Journal said.

Crimes were happening in the country but nobody was put on trial, the Wall Street Journal said. Kidnappings in the southern plains made the area unsafe but "crime has been accepted as an integral part of politics," Subodh Raj Pyakurel, chairman of Informal Sector Service Centre, told the Associated Press.

Analysis: Newsroom multimedia summarize and enhance news

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Both the Star Tribune and USA Today feature videos and photos in their newspapers' websites. Both organizations report a news brief using a photo slideshow. The Star Tribune updates its slideshow - "Photos of the week" - once a week while USA Today creates a new slide every day, titled "The day in pictures." These photos use the two-sentence format, which summarizes the essence of the photo in the first and advance the story in a broader view in the second sentence. For the videos, both the Star Tribune and USA Today create videos to give an in-depth complement of the news stories. Many of them are feature stories, which appeal to readers emotionally by the visuals in the stories. The two organizations rely mostly on visuals when creating video news stories such that not much writing is used.

Study shows global warming may shrink animals

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A new study found mammals shrunk as a result of global warming, according to the State Column.

According to the New York Times, a team of researchers reported in the journal Science that they found - from fossil records - Sifrhippus, the first house, to shrink from about 12 pounds average to about eight and a half pounds as temperature rose over thousands of years.

Dr. Ross Secord of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln told the New York Times they predicted the phenomenon was part of natural selection. He said small animals might shed excess heat easier and had a better survivorship in warm climate.

The study raised concern on modern mammals, including humans, which were believed to be at risk of shrinking as a result of global warming, and questions on how plants and animals responds to climate change, according to the State Column.

Mail service merged in Minn. to reduce deficit

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The U.S. Postal Service would shut down mail processing sites Duluth and Rochester in Minnesota, and La Crosse and Eau Claire in Wisconsin, the Pioneer Press said.

The Pioneer Press said Postal Service at Eagan would take up the mail processing jobs from Duluth and Rochester.

Peter Nowacki, Postal Service spokesman, told the Pioneer Press the plan was aimed at reducing the growing deficit in Postal Service. According to the Star Tribune, there was a 25 percent drop in First Class mail volume since 2006.

The move would provide new jobs in Eagan but eliminating about 165 positions from current Postal Service sites, the Pioneer Press said.

Megan Brennan, Postal Service chief operating officer, told the Star Tribune they "recognize the urgent need to reduce the size of national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure." Mail service is not as widely utilized as before because of the Internet, the Pioneer Press said.

7 Marines died in helicopter crash

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Seven Marines died Wednesday when two helicopters collided during aviation training near the Chocolate Mountains along the California-Arizona border, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The two helicopters crashed during a routine training mission, which was part of preparations for deployment, according to the Los Angeles Times. No survivors were reported, according to the Detroit Free Press.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the crash on Wednesday was the fifth air accident since March involving the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Officials told the Detroit Free Press on Thursday they were investigating the cause of the deadly crash when skies were clear.

Identities of the victims will not be revealed until families are notified because of Marine policy, the Los Angeles Times said.

U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) told the Los Angeles Times Thursday the collision was "a grave reminder of the sacrifices that the men and women of the armed forces make to keep us safe."

An auto repair shop was set ablaze Wednesday in Brooklyn Park, according to the Star Tribune. The fire was the third reported since the fires burning playgrounds in north Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park last weekend, the Star Tribune said.

The Minneapolis Fire Department responded Tuesday to CBS Local the playground fires were believed to be arson. The Police Department ruled arson the playground blaze, as well as the fire in the auto repair shop Wednesday, the Star Tribune said.

The playground of the former Jordan Park Elementary School in north Minneapolis was burnt Saturday, according to the Star Tribune. Damage was estimated to be at least $60,000, CBS Local said. No injuries were reported.

Another fire burnt down the playground at Park Brook Elementary School in Brooklyn Park Sunday, the Brooklyn Fire Department told CBS Local.

A juvenile suspect at the Park Brook Elementary School's fire was arrested Monday, the Star Tribune said. He was then released.

Brooklyn Park authorities and the Minneapolis Fire Department were investigating any relations between the two playground fires, CBS Local said. But authorities believed the fire in the auto repair shop was set by another party, according to the Star Tribune.

Israel's High Court moved forward the hearing of a Palestinian who has been on a hunger strike for two month, the New York Times reported.

The hearing was originally scheduled for Thursday, but the lawyers Khader Adnan, 33, requested an urgent petition in fear that Adnan would not survive that long, according to the New York Times.

Adnan's case has attracted attention not only the Palestinians but also the European Union and the United Nations, according to the Associated Press (reported in the Washington Post).

Adnan was arrested on Dec. 17 in connection to acts that "threaten regional security, Capt. Eytan Buchman, an Israeli military spokesman, told the Associated Press reported. He began a 66-day-long hunger strike the following day, the New York Times said.

The Israeli military issued a four-month detention order on Jan. 8 and rejected an appeal on Feb. 13, according to the Washington Post.

With a two-month hunger strike, Adnan's condition was worrying, the Associated Press reported. He could only communicate in whispers, Yael Moram, one of Adnan's physicians, told the Associated Press.

Adnan refused to receive any nourishment except liquid infusions containing salts and minerals, according to the Washington Post.

Writing a profile on impacted representatives was the way the Star Tribune responded to its news story on the new Minnesota House bill allows schools to cut teachers based on performance instead of seniority.

On Thursday, the Star Tribune reported the House's 68-61 decision on the legislation which requires schools to evaluate teachers' performance when deciding layoffs. The Star Tribune published Friday interviews with teachers in Minnesota, focusing on the threat and changes they felt after the new plan was approved.

Because of the different story types, the second-day story uses a lead that aroused readers' interest instead of the typical breaking news lead in the first-day story.

The main news is summarized in the follow story in connection to the interview with the teachers. The reporter included the details of the new legislation after reporting the teachers' opposition to the bill. The main news appears in the upper part of the story to give readers a summary of the issue discussed by the interviewees.

The second-day story gives a personal account to someone affected directly by the bill. It advances the story from a prominent piece to an emotional story.

A new study on goats' accent might bring new directions to intelligence agencies to understand how mammals form accents, the State Column reported.

The study done by Queen Mary University in London found goats changed their accents when they moved away from their siblings and formed new social circles, the State Column reported. They changed their accents to better communicate with animals in their new group, according to the State Column.

Researchers followed four groups of kids, New York Daily News reported. Researchers started recording the kids' voice when they were one week old and repeated when they were five weeks old, the time when they formed social groups, according to New York Daily News. The results showed goats raised in the same circle sounded more similar as they grew, the State Column said.

Goats are a new kind of mammals found to be able to acquire new accents from the surroundings, according to Scientific American. Most animals make sound according to their genes, except humans and a few other mammals, Scientific American said.

According to the State Column, the study could ultimately make possible for the U.S. Military and intelligence agencies to understand how accents are formed.

Minnesota farmers were warned Thursday to buy crop insurance before next month's deadline, the Star Tribune said.

Dave Frederickson and Mike Rothman, Minnesota's agriculture and commerce commissioners, urged farmers to purchase crop insurance because they feared the dry weather in the Upper Midwest would damage agriculture, according to the Star Tribune. This snow-free winter in Minnesota has resulted in droughts all over the state, as well as northwest Iowa and the Dakotas, according to the Associated Press (reported by KARE).

Minnesota state Climatologist Greg Spoden told the Star Tribune on Friday it was reasonable to prepare for the possible disaster although the Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service told the Star Tribune it could still be possible for normal precipitation to be restored across the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin for March through May.

Farmers were not too alarmed about the dry weather but rather enjoying it because they could fix buildings, cut trees, lay drainage tiles and other work, according to the Star Tribune. However, many of them were in touch with an insurance agent to protect their crop, the Star Tribune reported.

The Minnesota House approved Thursday a bill on a 68-61 vote that would require schools to layoff teachers based on performance rather than seniority, the Pioneer Press said.

Teacher unions said they disagreed with the decision and was "disappoint[ed] the House passed this bill," Tom Dooher, executive director of Education Minnesota, told the Star Tribune. The unions fought for the fundamental labor tenet of seniority, the Star Tribune said. Opponents also said the legislation came to a conclusion too quickly without evaluating thoroughly the consequences, the Pioneer Press said.

Supporters of the bill refuted to use seniority as an index to decide which teachers got to stay, according to the Pioneer Press. House speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove told the Star Tribune "the number of years served is not an adequate measure of ability, competence and success in teaching kids."

According to the Pioneer Press, several studies had found that the current layoff system in schools often cut less experienced teachers who got better student results.

About 80 percent of Minnesotans agreed to cut teachers based on performance, the Star Tribune said. Parents and community members had been calling for changes in seniority and tenure rules for teachers, according to the Pioneer Press.

North Korea rewarded Tuesday her late leader the highest title of Generalissimo as the country unveiled her first bronze sculpture of Kim Jong-Il in Pyongyang, according to BBC News.

North Korea announced Wednesday Kim Jong-Il's statue was unveiled in a ceremony oversaw by top military and political officials, BBC News reported. The statue was part of North Korea's commemoration of her late leader's 70th anniversary on Thursday, AFP said. Lucy Williamson, the BBC's correspondent in Seoul, told BBC News the country was believed to have widespread celebrations on Thursday despite the uncertainty on the food storage problem in the country.

The official news agency in North Korea told AFP the title of Generalissimo of the DPRK (North Korea) was awarded to leader Kim Jong-Il, the same ranking given to his father and founding leader Kim Il-Sung. "Kim Jong-Il strengthened the Korean People's Army founded and led for Generalissimo Kim Il-Sung along the path of victory and glory," the news agency told AFP. Kim Jong-Il rejected the idea of the bronze statue when he was alive, Williamson told BBC News.

According to BBC News, there were series of commemorative items released since Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack in December.

Obama proposed new budget plan to bill air travelers

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Air travelers would need to pay extra security fee and tax if Congress approved President's Obama budget plan, according to Reuters.

Obama wanted airlines and passengers to pick up more of the costs of air travel and airport improvements, Reuters reported. He stated in the proposal the new plan could help reduce the deficit and cover security costs, according to USA Today. The new proposal was estimated to bring $7.4 billion in 10 years, according to Reuters. The money would fund the Federal Aviation Administration's air-traffic control system, USA Today reported, and also help to reduce the deficit.

President Obama had proposed budget plan to the Congress several times but they were all rejected, USA Today said. The industry group Airlines for America told USA Today their rejection of the new budget plan, saying that the government should not encourage economic and business development by discouraging flying.

The typical inverted pyramid structure is used by the Star Tribune in reporting the shot of a Minneapolis man in a downtown Minneapolis hotel.

The news story starts with a lead that summarizes the essence of the killing, including who, what, when and where. The remaining information is ordered in descending order of importance. The victim is identified immediately after the lead. The story then goes on to include more details of the case, including the actual time and room which the shot took place, and information about the suspect.

Arranging the information in descending order of importance is effective in writing this kind of breaking news because we can know the basics of the crime right in the beginning. Because of the rarity of this crime, details of the killing are presented earlier while the identity of the suspect is presented in a later part. Rearranging the order would not be effective enough in communicating the homicide.

Internet users in Germany would protest against online censorship this weekend as Germany and Latvia joined Friday Poland and the Czech Republish not to sign the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), according to the Mashable.

While the treaty was still yet to be ratified by the European Parliament, the Justice Ministry in Germany told the Associated Press such a policy was not necessary in Germany, according to BBC News. He said the government denied the treaty "to leave room for discussions," the Washington Post reported.

Sharing similarities with the Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S., ACTA aimed to promote copyright in Europe to international standards, according to the Washington Post. The European Parliament scheduled to discuss the treaty early this summer, the Washington Post reported.

In fear of online censorship, supporters of the treaty protested across Europe since January, according to the Mashable. Germany's opposition Greens party leader Renate Kuenast told the Associated Press they were striving for "a modern copyright that takes necessary legal protections into account and recognizes the reality of the digital world," the Washington Post reported.

Minnesota waived from "No Child Left Behind" mandate

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Like nine other states, Minnesota got waived Thursday from the "No Child Left Behind" rule, the Star Tribune reported. Under the state's new plan, instead of punishing schools that failed the No Child Left Behind law, schools showing a shrinking achievement gap and a strong high school graduation rate would be reported, according to the Star Tribune.

Under the No Child Left Behind rule, students were expected to be 100 percent proficient in mathematics and reading, the Star Tribune said, although many educators believed it was unachievable. Teachers were forced to teach students to seat for tests, Gov. Mark Dayton told the Star Tribune.

President Obama told Thursday USA Today the No Child Left Behind drove wrong behaviors in schools and was not helping children. Supporters expressed positively on the approval, according to USA Today.

Minnesota was not the only state to be freed from the mandate. Six other states were waived from a deadline requiring all students to meet the proficiency by 2014 while three other states received waivers pending approval by state authorities, according to USA Today.

The approval received some negative feedback in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune. The Minnesota Business Partnership told the Star Tribune the waiver would lower academic standards and would make kids unable to compete worldwide.

Taijah the dolphin died Monday at the Minnesota Zoo, reported the Star Tribune.

Despite having the sixth dolphin dying in the zoo since 2006, zoo officials did not notice a pattern in these deaths, Kevin Willis, the zoo's director of biological program told the Star Tribune.

Taijah died Monday night after refusing to eat and spitting up a blood clot in the morning, according to MPC News. Zoo officials said Taijah died of stomach ulcer. They were still investigating the cause of her death, reported MPC News.

Willis told MPC News they felt "unsettling" not knowing the cause of Taijah's death because it put risks on other animals. They were investigating the death and hoped to have something "conclusive," he told MPC News.

The Minnesota Zoo exercised animal care standards, Steve Feldman, spokesman of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Silver Springs, Md., told the Star Tribune. There was nothing to criticize in their handling of the animals, national experts told the Star Tribune.

A study on spoon-fed and finger-fed babies published Monday in the British Medical Journal has raised interesting questions, according to the authors from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The study followed 155 children aged 20 months to 6 years old, according to the Los Angeles Times. Those eating finger foods during the weaning stage showed a preference on carbohydrates while those being spoon-fed with pureed foods - "cut-up pieces of soft table foods," according to the Los Angeles Times - preferred sweets. Obesity or overweight problems were more likely to occur in spoon-fed babies, reported the Los Angeles Times. Most of the children - finger-fed or spoon-fed - had a healthy weight when they reached adolescents, reported the BBC News.

Dr. Ellen Townsend, the leader of the research, told BBC News the weight difference might be due to the "age of introduction effect." "Carbohydrates are ideal finger foods," she said.

But spoon-feeding babies has its own advantage. It can protect babies from choking on baby foods, according to the Los Angeles Times. A few babies choked on their finger-fed food, reported the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, the study showed babies were more likely to pay attention to their appetites and develop control over food when they were allowed to feed themselves during weaning, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The study result could help to tackle problem of obesity in the U.K., Dr. Colin Michie, Chair of the Nutrition Committee at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, told BBC News.

The science fair held Tuesday in the White House convinced Obama the nation's best technology were yet to come, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Out of the 30 and more student projects, a design from Paul Robeson, Malcolm X Academy in Detroit drew Obama's attention, reported the Chicago Tribune. He commented on the fair referencing the design from the Detroit student team, reported the Chicago Tribune.

He was also highly amused by the award-winning high-speed marshmallow air cannon - "Extreme Marshmallow Cannon" - made by an eighth-grader from Phoenix, according to the Associated Press (reported in the Chicago Sun-Times). He helped firing a marshmallow across the White House's State Dining Room, reported the Associated Press.

Obama showed enthusiasm in technology not only in the fair, he said he "learned something" visiting an Alcoa plant in Davenport, Iowa, in June, according to the Associated Press. The Associated Press also reported on Obama's interest in robots - the technological innovations that impressed him the most.

"Nobody needs to tell them the kinds of challenges that Detroit still faces," Obama said in his remark, according to the Chicago Tribune. He said people from the White House were also standing up to "keep Detroit's comeback going."

The United Nations said on Friday the famine resulted from lack of rain in Somalia since July has come to an end but warned that there are still millions of people in need, reported the Washington Post.

The United Nations declared famine in Somalia in July last year after viewing the malnutrition and death rates in the country resulted from a drought that has killed livestock and dried many farms, reported the New York Times. Hundreds of thousands of desperate Somalis crowded refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Mogadishu, Somalia to search for food, said the Washington Post.

According to the New York Times, Somalia has been "one of the poorest, most violent countries" since the central government "basically collapsed" 21 years ago. "The situation in Somalia is still in the throes of its worst humanitarian crisis in decades," Senait Gebregzhiabher, the head of Oxfam in Somalia, told the Washington Post.

Several aid agencies had been fighting to improve the situation in Somalia, said the New York Times. They now focus their efforts in recovering the country, such as disturbing seeds and digging irrigation canals. The United Nations helped raising more than $1 billion for aid in Somalia, reported the New York Times.

At the same time, thousands of Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers arrived at Somalia to fight Shabab, killing civillians in the country, according to the New York Times.

Reporters from the Los Angeles Times based their story on elementary school teacher's abusing students upon three named sources.

The writers made effective attribution by identifying the source when it was first mentioned, and organized all the information provided from one source together. A detective on the case was attributed in the first beginning. He was identified to be Sgt. Dan Scott in the second paragraph. The Los Angeles Times obtained details on the teacher's charges and abuse, and evidence collected from the investigators from Scott.

After presenting all information provided by the police officer, the reporter stated the condemnation made by Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy, who said the department was aware of the situation immediately after the teacher was brought to the police station. By attributing this source, the reporters tell readers how educators responded to the case.

The school principal whom the teacher worked with was attributed in the end of the report. A direct quote was used to report his response to the incident.

Two Mounds View brothers were arguing and drinking when one of them was stabbed fatally in the heart, according to the Star Tribune.

The elder Hilling brother from Mounds View, Minn., was charged with second-degree murder Thursday, according to the Star Tribune. Michael Scott Hilling was found dead at their townhome when the police arrived Tuesday, according to CBS Local.

"What am I, the bad guy? Michael came at me," Jay Herbert Hilling told the police at the scene, according to CBS Local. He told the police Michael approached him with a knife. They struggled but he did not know how Michael was hurt in the fight.

CBS Local reported the police charges stated that Jay Hilling had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 and Michael Hilling had a blood alcohol level of 0.32 after the stab.

According to the Star Tribune, authorities have been summoned to their house a few time before the accident. Court records show Jay Hilling has a history of drunken driving while Michael Hilling had been accused of several violent offenses.

Their 77-year-old mother was at home during the murder, the police told CBS Local. She told the police she was in her bedroom when Michael came me and told her "Jay stabbed me," according to the police complaint reported in the Star Tribune.

Zamboni driver arrested for clearing ice drunk

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A Zamboni driver was arrested for clearing ice while intoxicated at the Hayes Arena in Apple Valley, reported the Star Tribune.

According to the Pioneer Press, police arrived to the scene after receiving report from people at the arena and saw Joel K. Bruss, 34, unsteady on his feet and smelled of an alcoholic beverage, according to a news release from Apple Valley police (reported in the Pioneer Press). The Star Tribune reported that it was Bryan Dornstreich, the coach of the Eastview Hockey Association PeeWee C team, who called 911.

The police arrested Bruss on suspicion of drunk driving and took him to the police station for blood-alcohol testing, reported the Star Tribune. The blood sample was sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

Dornstreich told the Star Tribune he noticed unusual behaviors in Bruss before the team started playing on the ice. A parent told him Bruss was "weaving all over, slurring his words."

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