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

A 40-year-old adoptive father from western Ohio will be sentenced Tuesday for charges of child rape, Fox News said.

The man, whom AP isn't naming to protect the identities of the children, was a foster parent, youth basketball coach, and substitute teacher for many years, the Star Tribune said.

He said that he didn't adopt the boys with malicious intentions, and "somewhere along the line, things went wrong."

Among the man's charges, there is also evidence that he invited a man to his home to rape one of the boys, and then took the same boy to another man's home to be raped.

The victim, a 10-year-old boy, initially refused to admit anything happened. He eventually said that he "didn't want to be taken from this home and separated from his new brothers and sister," a police report said.

Authorities confirmed Sunday that the body found at Hillside Park in Maplewood belonged to Anna Hurd, the Pioneer Press said.

Hurd's body was found early Saturday morning after a 911 call said "someone needed medical attention" in the park area. She was not reported missing, police said.

Hurd's father, Patrick, last saw her last week before a friend picked her up from their North St. Paul home, the Star Tribune said.

"They stole something from me that was my most prized possession," Patrick Hurd said of Anna's attacker.

Analysis: BBC News and Pioneer Press multimedia use

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I get a lot of my news from the BBC because I am much more interested in British culture than American culture. Through this source, though, I've noticed that the BBC has a tendency to be random with their writing techniques. In this article, the BBC links pictures throughout. The pictures are in color, and add to the impact of the story that's being written. However, looking at other articles that the BBC writes, it becomes clear that they feel a necessity to add some sort of visual to all of their articles. This article contains a picture, as does this one, and this one. I can't recall an article by the BBC that I've read that doesn't have some sort of visual addition. This is both a drawback, and a good addition to the articles found on the website. It's a drawback because it can be distracting trying to read a news story, only to get sidetracked with a bunch of images. Contrasting, though, it makes the reader much more engaged with the material. I am more likely to read a story if there's a picture added to it, propelling me to be more focused on the content. Additionally, I think it's interesting how the BBC incorporates pictures throughout the article, even wrapping the text of the article around the image. It creates a sleeker look to the article, making it much less cluttered than other news organizations.

Comparing the BBC's use of pictures with their articles, the Pioneer Press also includes pictures with their articles, like this article. The main difference between the BBC's layout and the Pioneer Press's layout is organization. The BBC manages to add a lot of pictures to their articles that complement the writing, while the Pioneer Press adds too many advertisements that make a lot of their articles nearly impossible to navigate. This article by the Pioneer Press, for example, has no images that actually complement the article, but instead has a number of distractingly tacky advertisements. It's clear that the Pioneer Press hasn't been able to master the art of integrating images, much less any other forms of multimedia, as well as the BBC has.

Overall, the use of multimedia will tell the reader something about the organization's attitude towards...organization. With the BBC, the writing is clear and cohesive, and complemented with appropriately placed advertisements and images; while with the Pioneer Press, the images are often lackluster, and focus on the less-engaging writing that the Pioneer Press produces.

The body of 21-year-old Elisa Lam was found Tuesday in the water tank of the hotel she was staying at in Los Angeles. Health officials have declared the water in the tank safe to drink and bathe in, BBC News said.

Guests began complaining that the water pressure in showers was very weak, and dispersed from the shower heads as "black for the first two seconds." Sabina Baugh, a woman staying at the hotel, said that the water tasted horrible and sweet. She went on to say that it "made her sick to think about," both physically and psychologically, CNN said.

A "microbiological standpoint" of testing determined that the water is safe to drink and bathe in.

Woman's body found in impounded car eight days after towing

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The body of an 18-year-old woman was found Thursday in an impounded vehicle in a lot in Columbia Heights, Fox News said.

The woman has been preliminarily identified as from St. Paul, but the exact identification is unknown. The car was towed from an apartment complex in Brooklyn Park on Feb. 13, the Star Tribune said.

Towing personnel said that they didn't see anything suspicious when they towed the car. Anoka County Sheriff Commander Paul Sommer said that was concealed inside the passenger compartment, but didn't say how it was kept from view.

Parents jailed for toddler's fatal methadone ingestion

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The parents of a two-year-old boy, Riley, were jailed Tuesday for failing to ensure the toddler's life by leaving out a cup of methadone, The Guardian said.

Shaun Binfield, 45, and Sally Dent, 33, of Derbyshire, England, were sentenced to four and seven-and-a-half years, respectively.

Dent was put on methadone in an attempt to kick her heroin and cocaine habit that had been with her since she was 16 years old. Dent put the methadone in a sippy cup because it had a lid, and she figured it wouldn't spill. In March 2012, Riley ingested a fatal amount of the substance while Dent slept, and Binfield was in another room watching TV, BBC News said.

The judge, John Milmo QC, took into consideration that the couple seemed to be demonstrating good parenting skills, noting that they had security fences around the house for their children. "You will both have his death on your consciences for the rest of your lives," Milmo said to the couple.

Man admits manslaughter of separated wife

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John Yates, 58, admitted manslaughter Tuesday of his wife, Barbara Yates, 49, with whom he was separated, BBC News said.

Yates drove to the police station in Denbighshire, Wales on July 18, 2012, and turned himself in. He told police that he had his wife's body in the trunk of his car, that he had mental health issues, and needed to "hand [himself] in."

According to pathologist Dr. Brian Rodgers, there was a prolonged assault which ultimately led to Barbara Yates's death. She suffered "severe blunt force head, face and neck injuries," the Daily Mail said.

Yates and his wife were together for 18 years before she grew tired of his abusive tendencies in 2009. Barbara left Yates, and jurors heard that he grew jealous of her new life.

Macalester College sued by professor

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Creative-writing professor Wang Ping is suing Macalester College in St. Paul for discrimination, the Pioneer Press said. Ping claims that she's been denied promotion for positions that white men of similar qualifications have been granted.

She's suing to make up for loss wages and other benefits she would have received had she gotten the promotions she asked for. Ping said that she wants to remain working at the college, but has grown tired of the perceived discrimination, the Star Tribune said.

Her qualifications, which include bringing guest speakers to campus, writing books, organizing projects, and winning prizes, are of similar stature to the white men that received the positions Ping felt she was qualified for.

The private college is the only place Ping has taught at since beginning her position in 1999.

Analysis: Middlesbrough house crash: Girls thrown from sofa

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In this article by BBC News, I noticed that a lot of it was summarization. I think it's really interesting how the BBC has a tendency to skim over the details that American audiences would consider interesting--usually to create a brief article. The elements of this particular article were summarized in order of importance: the who, what, where, and when are addressed in the first paragraph, and the following paragraphs are supplements to the story. In the paragraphs following the first paragraph, we are told that the girls were uninjured, the car was reported stolen, and that the house maintained extensive damages.

I think this article could have been much more effectively written. Though the framework for all the public would need to know about the story is set, the "wow-factor" of this story--the fact that a car crashed into a house--is really skimmed over. I would have liked to know more about why the car crashed into the house, what the family saw outside of the window, what sorts of damage the house sustained, etc. Though this might have been the BBC's first article on this story, I think it would have been justifiable to make it more interesting and filled with facts that describe the sensational aspects of the situation, rather than the skeletal description.

Idaho man slaps Minneapolis toddler on flight

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A 60-year-old man from Hayden, Idaho, could face a federal assault charge after he reportedly slapped a 2-year-old boy from Minneapolis on the face during a flight to Atlanta on Feb. 8, the Pioneer Press said.

The man, Joe Rickey Hundley, was flying to visit a hospitalized relative in Atlanta when the toddler from Minneapolis started crying. The boy's mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, said that he was crying due to the increase in pressure from the flight. She tried to get him to stop crying but couldn't do it successfully. Hundley was sitting next to Bennett's son when he grew agitated at the crying, said to "shut that [N-word] baby up," and then smacked the toddler with an open-hand across the face, the Star Tribune said.

Marcia Shein, Hundley's attorney, said that he is pleading not guilty to the charges.

Girls thrown from sofa after car crashes into home

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Two sisters, nine and 16, were thrown from the sofa of their living room Friday after a reportedly stolen Land Rover drove into the girls' house, BBC News said.

The girls were watching television when the car struck their home in Middlesbrough, England. Their father said that the girls were uninjured but treated for the shock of the event, and his home sustained extensive damage, The Northern Echo said.

After the crash, two men ran from the vehicle. Authorities said that the car was reported stolen. After the crash, police arrested a 25-year-old male on charges of aggravated vehicle taking. Police believe there was another man in the vehicle during the crash.

Police kill man after he fatally stabs St. Paul K-9

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Police shot and killed a Missouri man in St. Paul Tuesday after the suspect, who had a warrant for his arrest, fatally stabbed a nine-year-old police dog, the Pioneer Press said.

St. Paul police entered a house in the 700 block of Aurora Avenue after 1 p.m. searching for Alden Anderson, 32, who was wanted on a criminal sexual conduct warrant in Ramsey County.

Anderson was found armed with a knife in the basement by officers, including the K-9 team. It was in the basement that he stabbed Kody, a 9-year-old police dog, numerous times, police said.

St. Paul police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos said that police dogs are treated the same as human officers--especially in a situation of danger. He added that if a dog is harmed, there's a good chance that the officer will be harmed, too.

After officers recognized the threat to their own safety, they fatally shot Anderson, the Star Tribune said.

Facebook sued by patent firm

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Social media giant Facebook is being sued by Rembrandt Social Media, a patent firm that represents deceased Dutch programmer, Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer, according to BBC News.

Van Der Meer had two patents with the firm between Sept. 2001-July 2002. According to NBC News, the patents were applications that created a "Web page diary" which allowed users to "collect personal information and third-party content," and an application which automatically transfers content from a user's "Web page diary," allowing people to collect content as they browsed the Internet. These two patents are similar to the Facebook Timeline and the ability to "like" pages on the social networking site.

Rembrandt Social Media seeks "no less than a reasonable royalty" for the alleged infringement. The company representing the case, Fish & Richardson, is "one of the largest firms practicing intellectual property" in the US--the firm once beat Amazon in court.

Pope Benedict to resign at the end of February

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Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years of service in the Catholic Church, according to BBC News.

The Pope, 85, announced that he is too old to continue his duties as head of the church. He is the first Pope since 1294 to willingly resign from this position.

Close aides to Pope Benedict weren't even aware that he planned on stepping down from his position. The Pope cited deteriorating strength of mind and body as his reason for his resignation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Vatican expects a new Pope to be chosen before Easter.

The reporter of this article used a few sources, though I felt as if there could have been more attribution. The reporter attributes the officer that the story is about, the executive director for the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith, and it touches on reflection of the officer's record with the police force.

The sources are spread out well as the reader isn't struck with a bunch of them in any one place. That being said, it felt as if they might have been stretched out too far--some of the writing in between felt researched but unsourced. Most of the attributions are set up with the style of: the source, why the source is credible, and what the source said. This isn't the case for the officer himself, as it's implied that he is credible because he's speaking.

The attribution is somewhat effective. Perhaps the reporter was familiar with the story so they felt that attribution wasn't completely necessary, but there were parts (i.e. where did he issue the apology?) left out that rendered me to wonder where the reporter got their information.

Blizzard buries northeastern US

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A snowstorm of massive proportions has dumped as much as three feet of snow in some places Friday and Saturday, according to BBC News.

The blizzard produced winds up to 40 mph in major cities like Boston and Providence, according to CNN. There were mandatory evacuations issued Saturday, with authorities asking residents to stay inside unless an emergency situation arose.

Though the storm didn't create any record-breaking amounts of snow, major airports in New York City and Boston were closed, slowing traffic to the popular destinations immensely.

US Postal Service will end Saturday delivery

The US Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would stop delivering first-class mail on Saturdays beginning in August 2013, according to BBC News.

The USPS has been struggling financially mainly due to a 2006 law which requires it to pay nearly $5.5 billion into a future retiree health benefit fund, according to the New York Times. In 2012, the agency defaulted on two payments after reaching its borrowing limit from the Treasury Department.

The ending of Saturday deliveries is expected to help the USPS deal with its billions of dollars in debt. They still plan on delivering packages on Saturdays due to package delivery demand growing 14 percent since 2010.

A St. Paul police officer issued an apology Tuesday for a photo that circulated around the Internet depicting him dressed as a female Muslim Target employee, according to the Pioneer Press.

Robert Buth, who provided off-duty security at a Target store, was captured in a photo from Halloween. The photo showed him in a red hijab covering his head with a Target name tag that read a very common Somali name, according to the Star Tribune.

Buth's apology was well-received by Somali and Muslim community activists, but think that there needs to be more community dialogue between St. Paul police and members of the Somali community.

Convicted Belgian child killer asks for early release

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Marc Dutroux, named by Euronews as Belgium's most notorious criminal, has asked a special court in Brussels to be released early into house arrest with electronic tagging from his life term in prison. He has served almost 16 years of his sentence.

Dutroux was convicted of abducting, imprisoning and raping six young girls, murdering two of them, in 2004, according to BBC News. Dutroux's ex-wife, Michelle Martin, was arrested in 1996 and convicted in 2004 of complicity in the starvation deaths the two victims. In August 2011, Martin was freed after 16 years of her 30-year sentence.

Dutroux is completely isolated in prison and has no contact with other inmates. Prison officials state that this is for his own safety.

Both Dutroux and Martin were arrested in the 1980s for kidnapping and raping five young girls, but were released early on good behavior--only to repeat the offenses later.

The president of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., Jack Ohle, is facing harsh criticisms from the college's students and faculty, according to the St. Peter Herald. Along with the college's students and faculty, alumni have also stepped forward signing petitions asking the president to resign from his position.

The Gustavus board of trustees stated in a Jan. 29 memo that they planned to "undertake a comprehensive review of the president" during the spring semester. Those who have demonstrated negative criticism towards the president express concerns regarding the college's financial health.

Longtime physics professor and Gustavus alumnus, Steven Mellema, said that the college's resources "are being squandered by a president who positions himself as the sole decision maker, all while failing to heed the knowledgeable persons around him."

According to the Star Tribune, Ohle earned $478,732 in compensation in 2010; making him the fourth highest-paid president of a nonprofit, private college in Minnesota, behind Macalester College, Carleton College, and Hamline University. Since Ohle became president, the salaries of faculty members have fallen in comparison to similar schools. Full-time professors made an average of $76,200 in 2011-2012, below the median nationally for baccalaureate colleges.

The Pioneer Press article "University of Minnesota 'Female Orgasm' workshop draws critics," has a lead that addresses the who, what, where and when. The author addresses the details in a vague yet specific manner. The author could have included specifics like the organization hosting the event and the exact date, but instead stuck with a straightforward news lead. It goes in-depth enough to allow the reader to make a decision about whether or not they want to continue reading the article. The lead also gives some insight as to what the article is trying to take an angle on (conservative criticism) rather than just stating what the workshop is about.

I think that it made the most sense not to include anything that the actual workshop itself entails as that was already made clear by the title of the article. The author did just enough to try to get the reader to be informed but realize they need to continue reading in order to get the whole story.

The news values included in this lead are proximity, conflict, and emotions. The reader in New York might decide not to continue reading due to the location being in Minnesota--and that bit of information is included in the lead. It addresses conflict by noting that conservatives are the people who have an issue with the workshop. Finally, emotions are also addressed because someone who identifies as a hardcore liberal or conservative could continue reading because of their point of interest.

Minneapolis teen pleads guilty to murder of 5-year-old

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A Minneapolis teen plead guilty Friday to the shooting of a 5-year-old boy. He was one of two suspects, according to the Star Tribune.

Stephon Shannon, 17, and Julian Anderson, 15, stood outside of the victim's house in August 2012 and shot inside the residency. Their intent was to kill somebody in the house, but they didn't mean for it to be a child, reported the Pioneer Press.

Defense attorney David DeSmidt says that Shannon was a part of the "Skitz Squad," named after a 16-year-old boy who was murdered in September 2011 and whose case has not been solved.

DeSmidt asked shannon if his intent was to kill, but not a child. Shannon's response was a quiet "yes."

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

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