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February 26, 2009

Minneapolis Choir Leader Accused with Sexual Assault

A local Minneapolis choir leader has been accused Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting a Brooklyn Park female minor. After reviewing files, it seems the man has been in an similar situation before.

According to The New York Times, Gregory B. Washington, 32, has been held with a $150,000 bail on two counts of third-degree assault and has an order to stay away from all females under the age of 18.

Latest information provided by The New York Times said at the time of assault the unnamed youth was 15-years-old. The first encounter occurred at her home residence followed by a subsequent assault at Washington's residence in Plymouth.

"We're seeing here that the facts are astonishingly similar, in which he leads a young female through the auspices of the church, had sexual relations with the female and eventually had a child with her," Assistant County Attorney Judith Cole said in Hennepin County District Court of Washington's earlier conviction. "It seems to be a pattern for Mr. Washington."

Pregnancies have resulted from both of Washington's underage endeavors.

A follow-up article by The Star Tribune said that there had been no background check on Washington prior to his employment.

"I would have to be honest and say our implementation of [the background check policy] hasn't been perfect," said Margaret Westin, Minneapolis schools' general counsel. "We know this is something we need to work on."

February 25, 2009

9 Killed in Turkish Plane Crash Near Amsterdam

A Turkish Airlines jet crashed Wednesday near Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport killing at least 9 passengers and injuring dozens.

In an interview with The New York Times, Michel Bezuijen, the acting mayor of nearby Haarlemmermeer said there was no immediate word on the cause of the accident. The weather was reported to have been calm with light drizzle.

Amsterdam airport authorities said the plan left Istanbul with 128 passengers and seven crew members. Four were reported to have been American.

According the The Star Tribune, a spokesman for investigators said two pilots and an apprentice pilot were among the dead and confirmed that the plane's flight data recorders had been found and were to be analyzed by experts.

Witnesses and authorities reported that no fire had started following the crash and many feel fewer casualties were a result.

February 23, 2009

Spot and Follows Analysis

I am looking at a series of stories concerning the wildfires in Australia. On Feb. 10th, the headline read "Australia Police Confirm Arson Role in Wildfires." The next day was "Australia Fire Toll Could Exceed 200."

The main news summarized in the first article was that arson has been determined in at least one of the fires. The second focuses on the fact the the death toll could be more than expected.

The second story advances the first by re-capping the previous days news and adding to the urgency of the situation.

The fires in Australia are one of the most the most talked about international news of today so the follow-up piece is definitely a response to a report from a competing news source. Additional sources and interviews have been used to shape the second story.


Federal Judge Indicted of Sex Crimes

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent will be the first Federal judge charged Monday with sex crimes.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the judge has been accused of fondling two other female courtroom employees. He was reported to have forced himself on the women and tried to get them to preform sexual acts.

Cron.com writes that jury selection will begin Monday and if found guilty, Kent could face up to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Kent has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual misconduct.

Kent has served the courtroom for over 19 years and some feel that will gain him some credibility with the panels.

Bloomington Daycare Providers Indicted

A Bloomington mother and daughter have been indicted Thursday for the death of a 22-month-old at their daycare center last summer.

The young boy was found strapped in a car seat in the basement of Mama D's daycare center.

According to The Star Tribune, Doris D. Meeks, 48, and Harmony S. Newman, 21, were indicted by a grand jury. Each faces three counts of second-degree manslaughter in connection with child neglect, child endangerment and culpable negligence.

The cause of death as reported by Fox 9 was listed as “anoxic encephalopathy due to mechanical asphyxia from chest compression due to car seat straps."

The daycare was licensed for 14 children and on the day of the incident there were 24 present.

February 22, 2009

First Female President for Swarthmore College

Rebecca Chops has been named as the first female president for Swarthmore College in New York.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Chopps had been the president of Colgate University since 2002.

Chopps succeeds Alfred Bloom who had been with Swarthmore since 1991.

"Succeeding Al Bloom is a daunting prospect," said Tom Spock, a Swarthmore alumnus who chaired the 12-member presidential search committee in an interview with The Chicago Tribune, "But (Chopp's) deep commitment to the liberal arts, along with her proven administrative talents, make her the ideal president to move the college forward."

As documented by Colgate University, Chopp had a extremely successful career with their institution. ed the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan that has elevated the university's academic profile.

Retired Officer Injured by Stray Bullet

A 61-year-old retired police officer was injured Saturday at the Minneapolis Gun Show when an off-duty cop's pistol misfired.

According to Sgt. Jesse Garcia in an interview with The Star Tribune, both men were working security at the show when the off-duty officer's holster caught on the chair which prompted the weapon to fire.

The bullet hit the floor causing fragments to bounce up and hit the retiree in both the hand and left leg.

As reported by 5 Witness News, the gun has been sent to the range to check for mechanical malfuntions.

“It’s a very freak accident,” Garcia said. “We’re fortunate no one was seriously hurt.”

No disciplinary action is being taken against the officer due to accidental circumstances.

11 Killed During Insurgent Attack

According to The Star Tribune, an insurgent attack Saturday on a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia has left 11 dead and 15 others injured.

The attack occurred at an African Union Peacekeeping base and also a marketplace in the area. Witnesses told The Star Tribune that the al-Shabab insurgent group fired mortars onto the base.

In an interview, Sheik Muktar Robow, a spokesman for the al-Shabab insurgent group, insisted that "Our fighters have carried out two suicide attacks on the infidels in Mogadishu, inflicting heavy losses."

As reported by CNN, many of the dead were preparing for daily prayer when the attacks began.

Conflicts such as this are not uncommon in the area since Somalia's last stable government in 1991.

February 15, 2009


The news story "Man struck, killed by train in St. Paul" written in The Star Tribune uses the classic "upside down" model of news reporting.

The reporter has ordered the events to be put most important to least important. He tells when where and what happened in the lead and goes on to tell the suspected age of the victim. Other details including that he was already on the tracks and that foul play is not suspected was also included in the following paragraphs.

I believe that this is an effective approach for a news story of this sort. Few details are known at the time but the ones that are were structurally sound within the story.

The only thing that I believe would have made the story a bit stronger would have been to put that the name of the victim has not yet been identified early in the order of the story. I think many readers would be curious to see that bit of information, or lack there of.

Ecstacy Addictions Affect Upper-Class Teenagers in Brazil

Money, girls and all-night parties were just some of the factors that led 21-year-old Sander Mecca to the life ecstasy use.

According to The New York Times, Mecca was arrested at the age of 21 for dealing drugs and spent 2 years in lock down.

Mecca was reported to have taken up to six pills in the span of 12 hours during his years of use.

Stories like Mecca are becoming more and more common reports The Huffington Post

Many pills have been arriving in South America from abroad. Just last year, police reportedly seized 211,000 pills.

Prison sentences are no longer being given for drug use and treatment sentences are opening the doors for corrupt officers to accept thousands of dollars worth of bribes.

The extreme party atmosphere is also suspected to keep drug usage on the rise.

Woman Lured to Her Death by Ex-Boyfriend

A 24-year-old woman was found dead along with her 23-year-old ex boyfriend after a fire had burned down the man's apartment.

Brittany Givens-Copeland was said by The Star Tribune to have received a message stating that she was to stop by her attackers Burnsville apartment in order to say good-bye to ex-boyfriend Adam Williams.

Police suspect that neckties were used to strangle single-mother Givens-Copeland.

According to Individual News, Williams proceeded to light his apartment on fire and was found dead from suspected smoke inhalation next to the bathroom door.

Either other units were damaged due to the fire and four families are currently displaced.

Man Found Dead on Train Tracks in St. Paul

A 33-year-old man was found dead late Saturday on a rail road in St. Paul.

The man's body lying on a set of tracks in the area of Bush Avenue and Burr Street, St. Paul police Cmdr. Kevin Casper said in an interview with The Pioneer Press.

A Union Pacific railroad worker was passing by when he discovered the body. It was apart he had been struck by the train.

It was not know when he was hit, said Casper.

According to The Star Tribune, police believe the man had either fell asleep or passed out on the tracks.

The victims name has not been released.

February 13, 2009

A Plane Crash Near Buffalo Results in 50 Dead

A commuter plane crashed Thursday into a house near Buffalo, NY killing 49 aboard and on the ground.

Flight 3704 traveling from Newark on its way to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

All 44 passengers, four crew members and one off duty crew member were killed as well as one resident within the destroyed house.

Two other residents, a 57-year-old woman and her 22-year-old daughter, suffered minor injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were treated and released, officials said in an interview with The New York Times.

Both black boxes on board the flight have been located but the cause of the crash has not yet been identified.

The Star Tribune has reported that other pilots flying at the time were complaining of icy conditions which have resulted in major crashes in the past.

According to a recording of air traffic control's radio messages captured by the Web site LiveATC.net, no Mayday call came from either the pilot of the crew prior to the crash.

February 11, 2009

Iranian President Opens Dialogue with Obama Administration

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told crowds Tuesday that he was ready to open dialogue with the Obama administration while celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

According to The New York Times, the talks are to be based “on mutual respect and in a fair atmosphere.?

The peaceful comments were coupled with a verbal attack on Former President Bush. Ahmadinehad said that he and his supporters should be “tried and punished? for their actions in the Middle East. T

“My expectation is, in the coming months, we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table, face to face; of diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in a new direction," President Obama said in a news conference.

As reported by The Star Tribune, Ahmadinejad also publically announced that Iran “is a superpower? and should be treated as one. He based his comments on the recent launch of its first locally made satellite into space.

February 9, 2009

Ohio Parole Board Recommends Clemency for Death Row Inmate

The Ohio Parole Board recommends to Gov. Ted Strickland that an inmate facing execution for stabbing his 61-year-old mother to death be granted clemency.

As reported by The New York Times, the board voted 8 to 0 in favor of mercy for the inmate, Jeffrey Hill, who stabbed his mother to death in 1991 in a crack-cocaine-induced rage.

Also included in the recommendation was the board’s suggestion that Hill serve life in prison with an opportunity for parole after 25 years.

Hill’s family is among those who reject the idea of execution.

"They have suffered tremendous loss, and execution would add further to their suffering," the board told The Columbus Dispatch.

The execution of Hill is scheduled for March 3, and his fate rests in the hands of Strickland who is currently reviewing the case.

Police Officers Fail Integrity Test

Two former Ramsey County police officers have been found guilty and sentenced to three year prison sentences Friday for montetary theft, set-up by a sting operation.

Naylon and Timothy Rehak, 48, claim their actions were part of a practical joke.

"This isn't about the money. It's never been about the money," U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz said in an interview with The Pioneer Press. "What this is about is an egregious, shameful betrayal of the trust placed in you. You weren't some junkie who stole copper pipes out of a federal building. You were a police officer."

According to an article written by The Star Tribune, the men were caught on video tape find a large duffel bag filled with bills and which progressed to one of the men stuffing money into his coat.

Both men were allowed to speak before their sentencing, however, both declined. The men were given the harshest federal sentences allowed for their crimes.


Death Toll in Australian Fire Climbs to 108

Six different sources are used to complete this news story in The New York Times. The sources include a police spokeswoman, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, hospital officials, two local residents and a news media report.

All of the sources are evenly spread throughout the story making the article concise and coherent. The source appropriately provides enough detail to each paragraph.

The attribution is different for each source, for most of the people, the attribution is put in between their quote. For news reports and hospital officials, the attribution followed the paraphrased information.

I believe that the reporter used each source effectively and in a style that was neither dull nor confusing for the reader.

108 Dead in Australian Wildfire

A fire that burned through the southern state of Victoria, Australia has caused 108 fatalities with more to be expected.

Experts told The Star Tribune that the damage makes this to be the worst fire in the country’s history.

Nearly 750 homes have been destroyed across two towns, as well as, 770 square miles of forest and farm land. Police have told that media that they suspect some of the flames were set deliberately.

In hopes of determining how the fires were started, crime scenes are being set up around Victoria were the majority of deaths occurred.

“They’re in very early stages of that investigation at the moment,? Sarah Campbell, a police spokeswoman, told The New York Times Monday. “A lot of the fire sites are now too hot to go into.?

According to The Australian, Victorian Government has been advised to prepare for nearly 230 fatalities as fire crews enter the areas that have been hit the hardest.

More than 31 fires are still raging across the state.

February 5, 2009

$1.7 Million Settlement in Clery Abuse Trials

According to The Star Tribune, nine clergy abuse settlements have been reached Wednesday with the help of a St. Paul attorney.

Jeff Anderson has defended victims of Roman Catholic clergy abuse for many years and has agreed upon a $1.7 million settlement for nine of his clients.

Part of the agreed upon terms include the disclosure of abusers names as well as credible allegations, documents regarding the abusers and revealed prevention steps.

Mark Mallinger filed a complaint in Ramsey County District Court in 2006 saying he was abused from the ages of 9 to 14 at the Onamia, Minn., seminary in the 1970s.

In an interview with The Star Tribune, Mallinger said, "I know classmates were abused, and I know people suffered in silence and shame."

Thomas R. Carkhuff, the head of the Crosiers in the United States, said in a statement, "We are deeply sorry for these wrongs that were committed in the past by some Crosiers and for the pain that this abuse has caused these men and their families."

According to The Los Angeles Times in 2007, $1.7 million is the average payout to alleged victims.

February 4, 2009

Iran Launches First Domestically Made Satillite

Iran has launched it's first domestically created satellite Tuesday, worrying the U.S and other world powers.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad said the launching celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution marking the country's independence from the Shah.

According the The New York Times, Ahamdinejad stressed that it was Iranian experts who had built the satellite and the rocket. “With God’s help and the desire for justice and peace,? he said, “the official presence of the Islamic republic was registered in space.?

The link between satellites and nuclear weapons has made the U.S. uncomfortable.

State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood told The Chicago Tribune, "Iran's ongoing efforts to develop its missile delivery capabilities remain a matter of deep concern," State Department spokesman Robert A. Wood told The New York Times. "Iran's development of a space-launch vehicle capable of putting a satellite into orbit establishes the technical basis from which Iran could develop long-range ballistic missile systems."

In contrast, Charles D. Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations told The New York Times, “It’s a way for the Iranian people to stand proud,? he said, “but to do it in a way that is still within a civilian program.?

February 2, 2009

Olympic Swimmer Micheal Phelps Apologizes for Innappropriate Behavior

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, 23 apologizes for being caught on camera smoking a bong at a University of South Carolina house party in November.

It has not been specified whether the material in the bong was as illegal substance, however, many speculate that a bong is used primarily for smoking marijuana.

According to The Chicago Tribune, the picture first emerged in a low-budget British tabloid titled, News of the World.

As recorded by NSBC Sports, Phelps said "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,'' Phelps said. "I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.''

It is not the first time Phelps has been caught engaging in inappropriate behavior. At age 19, Phelps was arrested for drunk driving.

When interviewed, The U.S. Olympic Committee told The Chicago Tribune it was ``disappointed'' in Phelps' behavior and that he ``failed to fulfill responsibilities'' that come with ``setting a positive example for others.''

Mavericks Sweep Gophers During Weekend Series

The Minnesota Gophers have lost an entire series this weekend against the Mankato Mavericks. According to The Star Tribune, this is the first time the Marvericks have sweep the Gophers in mens hockey since they began in 1997.

Minnesota lost 2-6 on Friday night as well as 1-3 Saturday. Many attribute the loses to multiply player penalties.

"Obviously, losing those two guys in the second period really hurt us," Gophers forward Ryan Flynn tells The Pioneer Press.

Although the Gophers were earning more penalties than shots on the goal, coach Tony Lucia said "It wasn't the result we wanted," he said, "but I have no issue with how hard the kids played tonight."

February 1, 2009

Week One: Leads

"MAYFIELD, KY. -- Gov. Steve Beshear deployed every last one of his Army National Guardsmen on Saturday, with his state still reeling after a deadly ice storm encrusted it this week."

This lead works to recap a news story that was reported earlier in the week while also starting with the most recent updates.

The news elements that are used in this lead include:
Who: Gov. Steve Beshear
What: deployed every Army National Guardsmen
When: Saturday
Where: Mayfield, KY
Why: to aid the state following a deadly ice storm

The elements of this lead that are more detailed include "who," and "what." Both of these details are most important to lead a follow-up story such as the one above.

The most general element of this lead is the "why" aspect. It is briefly stated that an ice storm hit in the Midwest but there are no specifics such as exact location, severity of the storm or total number of victims.

This lead is used to cover hard news so the reporter followed the standard "who, what when, where and why" pattern.

Additional Guards Called to Recover from Winter Storms

More than half a million homes and businesses are still without electricity following a winter storm that affected portions of the country from the Midwest to the East Coast. Gov. Steve Beshear has deployed every Army National Guard to help with the crisis.

As told to The Star Tribune, Beshear said ""with the length of this disaster and what we're expecting to be a multi-day process here, we're concerned about the lives and the safety of our people in their own homes."

Many rural households are isolated from the city and workers are putting in extra hours working to clear fallen trees and debris from the roads.

The Pioneer Press records that the addition of 3,000 guards brings the total to 4,600 guardsmen working in the area.