This news blog is an educational exercise involving students at the University of Minnesota. It is not intended to be a source of news.

February 2013 Archives

The head coach of the Hill-Murray high school football team resigned Tuesday after he was arrested in connection to a prostitution sting Feb. 19, news sources report.

According to the Pioneer Press, Mark Mauer contacted and met an undercover officer posing as a prostitute at a hotel in Fridley. Mauer and 18 other men were arrested in the sting.

The Pioneer Press reports that Mauer was a first year coach at the catholic high school in Maplewood. He played football in high school and college and also had coaching experience at colleges throughout the nation.

In an article by the Star Tribune, it is reported that Mauer is a member of the Mauer family, famous throughout the Twin Cities for its athletic abilities. Joe Mauer, the catcher for the Minnesota Twins, is his cousin.

Although arrested and charged in relation to the prostitution sting, the Star Tribune reports that Mauer told police that his actions were "stupid" and he was just "messing around".

The wife of a New York City police officer on trial for a kidnapping and cannibalism plan testified against him on Monday, news sources report.

According to a report by CNN, Gilberto Valle, 28, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to kidnap and unauthorized use of a law enforcement database on Oct. 24.

CNN reports that Valle's wife, Kathleen Mangan, is responsible for alerting authorities of her husband's behavior and plans. She said Valle posted on fetish websites regarding kidnapping, killing, and cannibalizing women.

A report by the Washington Post states that Valle had detailed plans to torture, kill, and eat women that he knew. Mangan discovered these plans in the form of emails and chats on her husband's computer.

The Washington Post reports that Valle's defense team is expected to make the case that the man's plans were fantasies and were never acted upon. The prosecution, however, maintains that Valle was "deadly serious" about his plans.

Castro to step down as Cuban president in 2018

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Current Cuban President Raul Castro announced Sunday that he will step down from his position in 2018, news sources report.

CNN reports that Castro, 81, took office in 2008 after his brother, Fidel Castro, fell ill. He was recently elected to a second five-year term, after which he will step down.

According to CNN, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez was named to the position of first vice president, meaning he is the most likely successor for Castro. Diaz-Canel formerly served as a second vice president and minister of higher education.

An article by NBC News states that the Castro family and their supporters have held government control in Cuba since the revolution in 1959.

NBC News reports that along with Castro's reelection and the appointment of Diaz-Canel, 612 deputies were named to the National Assembly. Eighty percent of these individuals were born after the 1959 revolution.

By Kiera Janzen

NBC News wrote the two stories examined about the charges Oscar Pistorius' brother is facing as a result of a traffic accident. The second story was an update to the first story, written earlier in the day.

In the original story, the lead contains more details about the charges Carl Pistorius is facing. However, as the story progresses, general details about his case are summarized as the author leads in to a summary about the Oscar Pistorius case.

In the update to the original story, the lead is less detailed and contains more information connecting this news event to the Oscar Pistorius case. In contrast to the initial report, as the story goes on, the author includes many more details about the accident (and its charges) involving Carl Pistorius.

These additional details include recent quotes from the Pistorius family lawyer and information about how South African authorities have handled this case in the past. Likewise, more information about the case and trial of Oscar Pistorius (and its connection to Carl) are included at the end of the article.

Snowmobiler killed by train

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A Silver Lake man was killed Saturday after being hit by a train in Dassel, news sources report.

According to a report by the Star Tribune, the man, Paul Fenske, was riding his snowmobile near train tracks on Saturday night when he was struck and killed by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train traveling in the same direction.

Authorities told the Star Tribune that Fenske lost control of his snowmobile, causing it to be caught by the path of the train. The man was pulled under the train and killed.

An article by the Pioneer Press states that although the train eventually stopped, its train's operators were initially unaware of the incident. Both authorities and the railroad are investigating the incident.

Missing teen's body found in towed car

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Family and friends confirmed Saturday that a body found in a towed car is that of a missing St. Paul teen, news sources report.

The Pioneer Press reports that according to authorities, the body of the teen, Brittany Clardy, was found in a car at an impound lot in Columbia Heights. Her body was reportedly concealed in the car when it was towed from an apartment complex on Feb. 13.

According to an article by the Star Tribune, Clardy's family reported her missing on Feb. 11 after she left her St. Paul home to go to the store and never returned. Her family says that it was unusual for the teen to leave home and not return without telling them and that she did not answer any of their phone calls.

The Star Tribune reports that friends and family have confirmed the discovered body to be Clardy's, but officials have not yet confirmed it. There is no information currently available regarding the cause of the teen's disappearance and death.

An explosion and resulting fire in a Kansas City, Mo. restaurant on Tuesday left 15 people with injuries and one person dead, news sources report.
According to a report by CNN, employees and witnesses smelled natural gas in and around JJ's Restaurant on Tuesday evening, prompting the restaurant to close early. The blast occurred around 6 p.m. and caused massive flames to destroy the building.
Deidre Estes, a restaurant employee, told CNN, "I thought I was going to die. Honestly, I thought I was trapped in there." Fifteen people were injured and treated at local hospitals. The body of one person, who Kansas City police have yet to identify, was found in the blast's debris.
NBC News reports that although the investigation is ongoing, the Missouri Gas Energy company said in a statement that they preliminarily think a contractor working underground hit a natural gas line, causing the gas to leak.
According to the article by NBC News, JJ's Restaurant is located in an upscale region of Kansas City. It is known throughout the Midwest for its dinner and throughout the world for its wine selection.


A U.S. security firm published a report on Tuesday that links more than 100 cyber attacks on U.S. companies to the Chinese military, news reports say.

According to a report by the Washington Post, the Virginia based security firm, Mandiant, links the attacks to a Chinese military group they refer to as APT1. This group was traced to a building on the edges of Shanghai, where multiple networks are operating reportedly along with high speed fiber optic lines provided by China Telecom.

The Washington Post reports that the attacks were targeted towards 147 companies. In the majority of attacks, terabyte-size pieces of data were stolen.

CNN reports that the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei denied any charges against the Chinese military. He said, in fact, that China is a target of many cyber attacks from the U.S.

An Idaho man charged with slapping a 19-month-old boy on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Feb. 8 no longer has a job, news sources report.

ABC News reports that according to the toddler's mother, Jessica Bennett, the 60-year-old man, Joe Hundley, leaned over, used a racial slur, and slapped the boy in the face when he started to cry on the flight's descent. Bennett says the slap scratched her son's face and caused him to cry even louder.

According to ABC News, Bennett told local news stations in the Twin Cities that Hundley appeared to be drunk on the plane and he was acting obnoxiously throughout the flight.

A report from NBC News states that Hundley worked for Unitech, an aircraft component manufacturer owned by AGC Aerospace and Defense. A statement from AGC called Hundley's behavior "offensive and disturbing" and said the he was no longer an employee of the company.

By Kiera Janzen

In the Minnesota Public Radio article, "Minneapolis South High School student brawl involves hundreds", the author begins by outlining the four W's (who, what, when, and where) in the lead and the sentence following the lead. In the rest of the story, the reporter summarizes the important details of the event in a general inverted pyramid structure.

The nut graf, which comes after the first two sentences in this story, adds more details about the brawl, including speculation from students about why the fight occurred and a statement from the Minneapolis police spokesman about what happened. In the paragraphs that follow, the author summarizes injuries that were suffered as a result of the fight, how the police intervened, how the school handled it, and reactions (including quotes) from school officials and students.

The reporter's organization of the story is effective because it draws the reader in with a piece of interesting information in the lead ("a food fight spun out of control"), and then includes the rest of the important details, interspersed with relevant quotes from individuals involved in the fight.

One thing that the reporter could have done differently is to include an intriguing or striking quote at the end of the story to serve as the kicker. Instead of doing this, the author ended the article with information about the police investigation of the brawl.

Food fight at Minneapolis high school turns violent

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A conflict that started as a food fight at Minneapolis South High School on Thursday escalated into a violent brawl, news sources report.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that the main fight began around 1 p.m. and only lasted for 15 minutes, when Minneapolis police broke it up by spraying Mace into the air.

Minneapolis police spokesman Sgt. Bill Palmer told MPR that around 300 students were involved. A staff member who attempted to stop the fight and three students were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries, said Palmer.

Students interviewed by the Star Tribune said that the fight was a result of mounting racial tensions in their school, particularly between Somali-American students and others.

A junior at the school, Adnan Farah, told the Star Tribune, "This school is not safe for Somali students. Throughout this year, there have been a lot of fights."

A St. Louis man, accused with sexually abusing and impregnating a younger relative, was killed by St. Paul police on Tuesday after he stabbed and killed a police dog, news sources report.

The Star Tribune reports that authorities went to arrest Alden Anderson, 32, in a home in the Summit-University neighborhood when the incident occurred. Police found Anderson armed with a knife in the basement, and he fatally stabbed the police dog that was with the unit.

According to the Star Tribune, after Anderson killed the dog, police felt their safety was also threatened and fatally shot the man.

Speaking about the death of the K-9, Sgt. Paul Paulos, a police spokesman, told the Pioneer Press, "It's like a family member. It hits the department hard. It's like one of our own."

According to the criminal complaint included in an article about the incident by the Pioneer Press, Anderson abused his relative from the ages of 7 to 14, when she became pregnant.

In President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday, he told the nation that his administration would focus on the middle class and closing the gap between the nation's rich and poor, news sources report.

The New York Times reports that Obama discussed a wide range of initiatives, such as increasing the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour, to help the middle and lower classes and the overall U.S. economy. The president also pressed the split Congress to focus on the issues of gun violence, the budget, immigration, and climate change.

According to the Washington Post, Obama discussed the war in Afghanistan, as well, saying that he plans to send 34,000 American troops back to the U.S. within the next year. Commenting on his plans to end America's military mission in Afghanistan, he said, "After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home."

North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test Tuesday morning, triggering the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting, news sources report.

CNN reports that the test, which yielded "several kilotons", occurred near P'unggye, according to the U.S. director of national intelligence. It was the first test of its kind to be carried out by the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un.

According to an article by CNN, news of the test was first discovered when U.S. seismologists reported activity with a magnitude of 5.1 in the region of the test, which is an area not usually prone to earthquakes or related disturbances. Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, told CNN that the magnitude produced by this test suggests that the blast was more powerful than North Korea's two previous tests.

North Korea said in an official statement that the test was prompted by U.S. hostility, reports ABC News.

ABC News reports that in response to the test, President Obama said, "The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community."

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign from his position as pope at the end of February, news sources report.

NBC News reports that the pope made his announcement Monday morning at an address at the "Concistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto". Citing his age as his reason for resignation, the 85-year-old will be the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

According to NBC News, the Vatican will elect a new pope by mid-March. There is no obvious choice for who will replace Pope Benedict XVI, but those in contention include the archbishop of Milan, the archbishop of Vienna, and the Canadian head of the Vatican's office for bishops.

Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy in 2005, reports CNN. During his time as pope, the Catholic Church received a great deal of criticism regarding sex abuse scandals involving priests. In response to this, Benedict issued new church rules regarding sex abuse and the handling of it in 2010.

Rev. Federico Lombardi told CNN that the pope plans to retire to a quiet life of prayer and reflection.

Analysis: Goodbye Saturday mail? Postal Service plans cuts

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By Kiera Janzen

In the Pioneer Press article, "Goodbye Saturday mail? Postal Service plans cuts", the author uses a variety of sources relevant to the U.S. Postal Service and the plan to stop delivering mail on Saturday.

In total, the author uses information and quotes from 12 different sources throughout the article. Specifically, the Postmaster General, a small business owner from Toledo, four members of Congress, the Republican Speaker of the House, the president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the president's spokesman, and an assistant manager of a New York food market are named and quoted in some fashion (whether it be a direct quote or a paraphrase). The U.S. Postal Service and the National Farmers Union are also used as sources in the article, but no specific representatives for these organizations are named or quoted.

The sources provide all of the information in this article and the reporter spreads out the sources and the information they provide quite equally. Although the U.S. Postal Service (and the Postmaster General) is referred to frequently, the author effectively incorporates the different sources throughout. This helps to enhance the quality and the depth of the information in the story.

In the article, the way that attributions are set up varies throughout. Sometimes, the attribution is at the beginning of a sentence, and other times it is tied in in the middle or included at the end of a sentence or group of sentences. The reporter also varies the usage of direct, partial, and paraphrased quotes. Varying the attribution and quotation method help to make the story more interesting to read.

A Minnetrista father charged with vehicular homicide in an accident responsible for the death of his 8-month-old daughter appeared in court on Friday, news sources report.

The Star Tribune reports that Judge Toddrick Barnette set the bail for the man, Jonathan Markle, at $10,000 with the conditions of not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs. According to charges, two hours following the accident, Markle had a blood-alcohol level of .13, which is .05 over the legal limit to drive.

An article by the Pioneer Press reports that the accident occurred on Jan. 18, and Markle's daughter, Tabitha, died on Jan. 21. Markle, his wife, and both of his daughters were driving home from a family meal when Markle decided to take a shortcut that he knew across the frozen lake. The ice on the lake broke and the car sunk into the water, leaving Tabitha stuck in her car seat.

Speaking about Markle's "overwhelming guilt", Markle's attorney, Joseph Friedberg told the Pioneer Press, ""The system can't punish him any more than he has been punished."

The St. Paul City Council approved a $1 million plan Wednesday to improve the St. Paul Police Department's crime lab, which has faced many problems recently, news sources report.

According to the Star Tribune, Assistant Chief Bill Martinez and Sergeant Trish Englund said that the re-vamped crime lab will continue to do fingerprinting and crime scene related work, but will outsource drug testing to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab, where better drug testing equipment is found.

Part of the money will go toward hiring a certified forensic scientist and an experienced lab director. Two scientists will also be hired to work specifically for St. Paul cases at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension lab, reports the Star Tribune.

An article by the Pioneer Press reports that last summer a hearing declared that the crime lab's drug testing procedures were unacceptable. Following the hearing, Chris Tolbert, a part-time prosecutor in Hennepin County and a council member, told the Pioneer Press that the council and the city were disappointed with the condition of the lab and the results that it was producing.

U.S. Postal Service set to stop Saturday mail delivery

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In an effort to save around $2 billion each year, the United States Postal Service is scheduled to announce Wednesday a plan to stop the delivery of mail on Saturdays, news sources report.

The Pioneer Press reports that under the new plan, set to start in August, all packages and mail sent to post office boxes will still be delivered on Saturdays. Post offices that currently operate on Saturdays will continue to do so, as well.

According to the Pioneer Press, since 2010, the U.S. Postal Service has seen an increase of 14 percent in package delivery. However, the delivery of other mail has decreased with the development and popularity of new technologies.

An article by the New York Times reports that it remains to be seen how the agency will implement the change without approval from Congress, but a 2012 New York Times/CBS News poll shows that seven out of ten Americans approve of the new plan in order to help the U.S. Postal Service manage its debt. The agency is currently losing around $36 million each day.

Istanbul authorities investigate death of NYC mother

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Officials in Turkey received a court order on Monday to begin an in depth investigation of the death of a New York City mother, news sources report.

The woman, Sarai Sierra, was on vacation alone in Istanbul when she went missing on Jan. 21. Police found her body on Saturday in Istanbul's Sarayburnu district, CNN reports.

According to CNN, Huseyin Capkin, the police chief of Istanbul, said that the cause of Sierra's death was a head trauma. However, police told CNN's Turkish affiliate that the body presented stab wounds.

The Star Tribune reports that authorities are now testing blood and DNA samples of 21 suspects. These samples will be compared with samples taken from Sierra's fingernails, hair, and a blanket found by the body.

Power outage briefly halts Super Bowl

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A power outage on Sunday at the New Orleans Superdome, the host site of this year's Super Bowl, caused the game to be delayed for about 34 minutes, news outlets report.

According to a report by NBC News, the majority of the lights in the stadium went out shortly into the third quarter. Back-up generators partially lit the field and the concourse of the stadium, but escalators and credit card machines were among the things that briefly stopped working.

In a statement included in the NBC News article, Entergy New Orleans, the energy company for the Superdome, and SMG, the stadium operator, said, "A piece of equipment that is designed to monitor electrical load sensed an abnormality in the system. Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue."

CNN reports that many fans and viewers used social media, chiefly Twitter, to express how they felt the momentum of the game changed after the power outage. These feelings stem from the fact that despite being behind the Ravens by 22 points before the lights cut out, the 49ers scored three times in four minutes once the power came back on.

Analysis: "America's deadliest sniper" shot by veteran

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By Kiera Janzen
In the ABC News article, "Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed at shooting range; suspect arrested", the author begins with a straightforward news lead that summarizes three of the four of the main W's (who, what, and where).

The lead describes the most recent action, that a man was arrested on the charge of killing Chris Kyle and another man, in a general manner. The details of how the murders occurred, who the arrested man is, and what exactly he is charged with are left out of this first sentence. These details are not necessarily important for the author to include in the lead, because they are outlined later in the story and are not crucial for drawing readers in and summarizing the news event.

Some details regarding one of the victims, Chris Kyle, are included in the lead because Kyle is a fairly recognizable figure in the United States. The author also mentions the location of the gun range, but does not include its name. Besides the news value of prominence, conflict and emotions are important to this lead and this story as a whole.

"America's deadliest sniper" fatally shot by veteran

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A Texas veteran is charged with the crime of fatally shooting Chris Kyle, known as "America's deadliest sniper", and another man at a Texas gun range on Saturday, news sources report.

According to the New York Times, Kyle, a former Navy SEAL, went with other veterans to shooting ranges as a form of therapy. This is what he had planned on Saturday afternoon, when he and a friend, Chad Littlefield, took the suspect to Rough Creek Lodge. Police say that the suspect, Eddie Ray Routh, fought as a soldier in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has struggled with mental illness.

Kyle was a highly decorated soldier who served four tours in Iraq. For his service, he earned two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation. Following his service, he wrote the book "American Sniper", about his time as the soldier with the most sniper kills in U.S. history, reports ABC News.

ABC News reports that Kyle also founded a non-profit organization to help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Speaking about all of his service, the director of the organization, Travis Cox, told ABC News, "Chris Kyle was a hero for his courageous efforts protecting our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL during four tours of combat. Moreover, he was a hero for his efforts stateside when he helped develop the FITCO Cares Foundation."

The annual report released by the Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday found that the overall rate of incidents and errors in the state's hospitals and medical centers has increased, news outlets report.

According to the Pioneer Press, there were 314 "adverse health events" reported in the last year, along with 14 deaths and 89 serious injuries related to these events. In comparison with the previous year's annual report findings, the number of deaths rose by nine and the total of serious injuries rose by five. The number of patient falls also increased by 11 percent.

Another major area of concern outlined by the report is the increase in suicides and attempted suicides in hospitals. There were four of these events in the last year, which is the highest total in nine years, reports the Pioneer Press.

The Star Tribune reports that despite the increase of these various incidents, hospital officials say they have seen progress in some areas. Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, the patient safety officer for Mayo Clinic hospitals, told the Star Tribune that more "adverse health events" must now be reported, so it is difficult to judge whether or not hospitals have made progress.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

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