April 2011 Archives

Analysis: Records/CAR

A story about White House vistor log omissions from iWatch News discussed the records and computer skills used to conduct this analysis and investigation.

Starting off mentioning the celebrities and top officials not listed on the Secret Service's database, the Center for Public Integrity found discrepancies between who was known to have visited the White House and who was listed on the database.

iWatch uses situations where it was commonly known that someone was at the White House, but did not not release it or display it in its database.

The article even includes a screenshot of the database search results as well as a live look into the White House Visitor Records Request in the article itself, displaying that the website had been consulted by the reporters who wrote the story.

The computer skills needed to report on a story like this would include not just the ability to navigate through the the database and government websites, but also embedding these sources, video interviews and links into the article itself.

10M Rupees Lost to Termites

A new manager at a bank in the northern Indian city of Lucknow discovered termites had eaten through 10 million rupees on Wednesday.

The currency notes had been stored in a steel chest in an old bank building, which what management is blaming for the infestation of termites.

''I am not sure where the termites came from, but as you can see this building is quite old. Anti-termite treatment is now under way,'' said the branch manager, Sunil Dwivedi, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Police are not ruling out the possibility of foul play in the disappearance. The Associated Press reports the police have already a registered a case of negligence and will continue investigating.

The cash, which amounts to $207,000, had been stored in the steel chest since January of this year.

Termites have also damaged paper and furniture in the bank in the past. Since the problem is so rampant, the branch will be re-locating, according to CBS News.

Prince's Home Taken Off Foreclosure, Public Auction

Prince's 20-acre piece of property in Chanhassen was removed from public auction after being foreclosed on due to delayed mortgage payment.

The musician paid the outstanding $368,000 to prevent his land from going to public auction on May 13. A spokeperson said the "payment has been made" around "four or five days ago," as reported by The Epoch Times.

The property, on which Prince used to have a home, is considered to be worth a total of $1.15 million, according to the United Press International. It was worth $1.5 million a year ago.

Prince owns nearly 200-acres of land in Chanhassen altogether.

The Star Tribune reports this is the latest in a series of financial tardiness for Prince. He owed $1.3 million in property taxes in Carver County last year after not having paid for two years, as well as being late on his taxes in 2006 and 2008.

Arrest Made in Dinkytown Hit-and-run

Minneapolis police arrested the driver who hit three University of Minnesota students last week.

The 29-year-old man from Roseville was driving the wrong way on the road shortly after bars had closed early morning on April 15 when he struck pedestrians on the sidewalk. One of the three individuals struck, Ben Van Handel, died on Thursday, just hours before the arrest.

Van Handel, 23 from Appleton, Wisc., died of severe brain injury and broke bones, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The driver was apprehended at his workplace in Burnsville thanks to "witness accounts and tips," Minneapolis police Sgt. Stephen McCarty said to the Star Tribune.

"Through a series of tips and witness accounts, the detectives from the homicide unit were able to apprehend this individual," McCarty said.

The Appleton Post Crescent reports the drivers criminal record shows he has convictions on charges of drunken driving, drug possession and careless driving.

Sen. Ensign Announces Resignation Date

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., announced Thursday he would step down from his position next month in the midst of an ethics investigation.

The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating an affair between Ensign and his former political treasurer, Cynthia Hampton. Her husband, Doug, also worked with Ensign in his legislative office.

Both were dismissed in 2008, but Ensign and his family provided the Hamptons nearly $100,000 and assistance in finding new jobs in Las Vegas.

The committee has been investigating the case for over 22 months and plans to complete its work in a timely fashion despite Ensign's resignation, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, said in a statement, according to the Washington Post.

Politico reports Ensign's resignation means the committee cannot bring any formal charges against him, but can refer it to criminal investigation to the Justice Department if it so chooses.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is allowed to appoint a Republican to fill Ensign's seat until his term ends.

Ensign was not planning on running for re-election, so Sandoval's appointment will influence next year's election. The New York Times is reporting a likely choice is Rep. Dean Heller, who was already running for the seat.

Egyptian Muslims Protest Christian Governor

Thousands of protesters gathered in the southern Egyptian city of Qena Friday to demonstrate against the appointment of a Coptic Christian governor in the province of the same name.

Gov. Emad Mikhael had been appointed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Thursday, being the only Christian of the 18 governors. Protesters, many of which were Muslim, demonstrated in hopes of forcing Mikhael's resignation.

"A non-Muslim should not rule over Muslims," Mohammed Hamza, 29, said to Bloomberg. "This guy could be shot at if he shows up here."

Tensions also arose from Mikhael's previous association with ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in which he served as a member of the criminal investigations department.

Demonstrators were also opposed to the appointment since the last province's governor was Christian, and considering a "complete failure" according to the Associated Press.

Christians and Muslims in Egypt typically live peacefully; about 10 percent of the country's population is estimated to be Christian.

Fox News reports the Egyptian government would allow the protests to continue, but would intervene if "acts of lawlessness" occurred.

Grey Wolves Removed from Endangered List

US politicians in Congress removed grey wolves from the endangered species list on Friday with the signing of the budget bill.

Attached to the budget bill, President Barack Obama's signature marked the first time a species had been taken off the list. The law prevents federal protection to the grey wolves in five states.

Two of those state, Idaho and Montana, had already planned wolf hunts for the upcoming fall, reported The Seattle Times. Both states had hoped to do so last fall, but a federal judge ruled the species was still at risk.

Politicians over the years had argued whether or not this was a matter of the federal government infringing on state rights, especially in states were population control was effective and responsible.

"That gives control back to the state and gives management back to the state and responsibility back to the state, where it should have been all along," Gov. Butch Otter said to KTVB.

Wildlife advocates are concerned this will lead to "the second large-scale extermination of wolves in the West," according to Suzanne Stone, the Idaho spokeswoman for Defenders of Wildlife.

Hunters and farmers have complained about wolves killing livestock and pets as well as endangering other species of wildlife, reports the BBC.

Search for 20-year-old Tennessee Woman Continues

Authorities continued to search for a 20-year-old nursing student in Parsons, Tenn. on Friday until heavy rains called for a temporary halt.

Holly Bobo has been missing since Wednesday after her brother witnessed her follow a man in camouflage into the western Tennessee woods. He mistook the man for his sister's boyfriend.

ABC News reports police currently have no leads as to who the abductor may be.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said authorities do not think she went willingly.

"We feel she was in fear of her life, so she was complying with his commands," Mehr said, according to USA Today.

TBI, local police and volunteers have been looking for Bobo. Her lunchbox and cellphone have reportedly been found.

CBS News reports the search was temporarily stopped as heavy rains moved into western Tennessee. A brief break in the rain allowed authorities to continued searching, only until it started again.

President Dissolves Burkina Faso's Government

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore dissolved his government on Friday after an apparent mutiny by soldiers in the capital the day before.

Compaore made the announcement over national radio, stating that "[t]he secretary generals of ministerial departments will ensure the execution of current business."

Gun shot were fired outside the presidential palace in Ouagadougou on Thursday night by members of the presidential guard who were upset with benefits they were yet to receive. Firing could still be heard into Friday throughout the city.

The BBC reports three other military barracks have joined in the unrest. The soldiers are protesting for more housing and food subsidies.

This is the latest in a series of demonstrations in Burkina Faso. According to The Guardian, citizens marched to show opposition to rising food prices on April 8.

Soldiers began looting shops and commandeering cars throughout Friday. One source said as many as 40 cars had been stolen.

"The government reassures the population that measures are being taken at this moment to resolve this situation, and expresses its regret and solidarity for all the people who have suffered inconveniences in this event," Compaore said in a statement.

Reuters reported members of the presidential guard had received housing and food allowances.

Dinkytown Hit-and-run Injures Three

Police are looking for information regarding a driver who hit three University of Minnesota students early Friday morning.

The driver was going the wrong way on SE 5th Street on Friday at around 2 a.m. when it hit the three students, police Sgt. Stephen McCarty said.

"We were just walking back to my house from the bar," said Joe Bailin, a boyfriend of one of the victims, as reported by the Star Tribune. "We heard something that made us turn around, and it was coming at us pretty quickly. You don't really know what to do when a car is coming at you on a sidewalk."

Katelynn Hanson, 21, is Bailin's girlfriend and was released after being taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. The two other victims are still at the hospital.

The other victims were Benjamin Van Handel, 23, who was in critical condition, and Sarah Bagley, 21, who was in satisfactory condition.

Bagley, Bailin and Hanson had been celebrating their acceptance into graduate school to study architecture. They did not know Van Handel.

Police currently know very little about the vehicle or the driver. KMSP-TV reported a witness described the vehicle as a four-door, white, early 2000s Toyota Camry or Solera.

McCarthy said he does not know if alcohol was involved either, according to MPR News.

"A lot of things are unanswered at this time," he said.

Food Cart Expansion Approved in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis City Council approved increasing the number of food-truck vendors in the city on Friday.

The Council passed the expansion unanimously.

Unlike last year, vendors will now have the opportunity to move their location as opposed to having to select a permanent one. KSTP-TV reported the city released a list of 10 areas that have been pre-approved for vendors to stop.

Last year, there were 11 vendors and they were restricted to only selling in the downtown area.

Other stipulations included the vendor must operate for a minimum of 150 days and cannot be within 100 feet of another restaurant or café on the same block-face, according to KMSP-TV.

Real estate manager expressed concern over the expansion harming their tenant's restaurant businesses.

"These changes are making it possible for more entrepreneurs to start mobile food businesses, while also bringing food trucks to more parts of the city and increasing the vitality of our neighborhoods and streets," City Council Member Lisa Goodman said in a news release, as reported by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Basque Separatists, Anti-ETA Rally Throughout Spain

Thousands marched in Madrid Saturday to protest the government's recognition of ETA and to prohibit those associated with the group from seeking political office.

Earlier this week, thousands marched in the city of Bilbao, the largest city in Basque Country, in support of the Sortu party after the Supreme Court ruled the party had too close a ties to ETA.

ETA is viewed as a terrorist organization by many, including Spain, the United States and the European Union. It strives for the formation of an independent Basque state.

"We demand the government stops ETA sympathizers from accessing taxpayers' money by getting themselves elected to public office," said Conchita Martin said to the Associated Press. Her husband, Col. Pedro Antonio Blanco, was killed by ETA in 1999.

Banners are the rally in Madrid read, "For the defeat of terrorism: ETA barred from elections." Opponents of ETA do not want public money going towards funding ETA.

ETA declared a cease-fire last September and said it would be a permanent one in January.

The separatist group has called 11 truces throughout its 40-year history of fighting for independence, according to the Canadian Press.

In March, after strong urging from the government, the Spanish Supreme Court rejected Sortu's application to be legalized so it could take part in upcoming local elections in May. The government argued Sortu was an "extension" of Batasuna, the political branch of ETA.

Press TV reports separatists believe approximately 15 percent of the Basque population would vote for Batasuna.

Brooklyn Park Shooting Leads to Suicide

Two people have died after being shot in a Brooklyn Park grocery store before the shooting turned the gun on himself in Minneapolis after eluding police Friday night.

Both a man and a woman were found in the Festival Foods break room when police responded to a call. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and the man was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police responded to a call at about 8:30 p.m. from someone who heard several shots from the back of the grocery store, according to The Republic.

The suspected shooter took his own life at the foot of the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis later in the evening after being pursued by police for about an hour.

The Star Tribune reports the shooter is believed to have been an ex-acquaintance of the female victim.

The events unfolded near the University of Minnesota campus. The Minnesota Daily reports several students witnessed the incident and what happened afterwards.

Firework Explosion Kills 5 in Hawaii

Five people died in an explosion Friday in a storage unit holding fireworks and remains on fire.

Four of the men died at the scene while one died at a local hospital's burn center after suffering burns on 100% of his body.

Three of the men that died on the scene were in their 20s and one man was in his 50s, according to WTXF-TV. The man who died at the hospital was 25.

The storage unit belonged to Donaldson Enterprises Inc., a explosives company that was contracted to stabilize and destroy fireworks that had been seized as evidence by police.

CBS News reports the heat within in the bunker set off more fireworks several hours after the explosion, making it too dangerous for the fire department to enter.

"There are still explosions that are occurring," Hono­lulu fire Capt. Terry Seelig said.

Two of the dead bodies were pulled from the fire as they were 20 feet from the entrance. The Honolulu Police Department's Special Services Division used motorized devices to try to locate the two remaining inside, who are believed to be at the far end, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

"This is a very tragic situation," Seelig said.

North Africa Immigrants Causing Complications in Europe

Thousands of immigrants from Tunisia and Libya are encountering difficulties in route to Europe and once they arrive as well.

Italy has been a primarily target for refugees and the nation faces this issue as Tunisians and Libyans look to enter those countries after the uncertainty and instability of their own.

Tunisia underwent a revolution in January that saw its former president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, be overthrown. Libya is currently in the midst of a civil war against Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi, in which international powers such as the United States and France are involved.

The BBC reports over 20,000 north African refugees, including Egyptians as well, have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent weeks. Malta has also seen a large influx of refugees since the revolutions began.

"From the date of January 14 (when Ben Ali left), nothing has changed. All of us here, we are not asking for anything, we only ask for a possibility to find work in Europe," said a migrant on Lampedusa to CNN.com.

Officials are concerned by this massive influx as close quarters have caused unsanitary conditions. Almost 2,000 have been transferred to a temporary refugee camp on the Italian mainland for the time being.

Another concern has been the lives lost of these refugees in route to Italy.

A boat carrying somewhere between 200 to 300 men, women and children capsized off the coast of Lampedusa. Reports vary, but the New York Times said Cmdr. Valerio Alessandro, a spokesman for the Italian port authorities, said it is believed that approximately 300 people were on the boat and 250 are still missing.

Minneapolis Streets Sweeping to Begin

Minneapolis will begin its annual spring street sweeping this Tuesday.

The city announced Thursday that it will hopefully take about four weeks to complete. Street sweepers will be looking to remove salt, dirt, grime and sand that emerged over the winter months.

The Star Tribune reports some sweeping of downtown streets and parkways started this week, and alley sweeping began Monday.

The city will follow some procedural necessities in order to ensure the sweep is done effectively.

These steps will include "No Parking" signs, phone calls to residents and an interactive Web tool, according to KMSP-TV.

The intensive sweepings occur twice a year in Minneapolis, once in the spring and again in the fall.

KARE reports the city will sweep at total of 1,100 miles of streets.

Va. Tech Fined $55,000 Following 2007 Shootings

The U.S. Department of Education fined Virginia Tech $55,000 Tuesday for not notifying students about the on-campus shootings in 2007 quickly enough.

Virginia Tech was found to have violated two requirements of the Clery Act, in which universities are federally required to report crimes in a timely manner. Each fines equal $27,500.

"We believe that Virginia Tech administrators acted appropriately in their response to the tragic events of April 16, 2007, based on the best information then available to them," said Larry Hincker, associate vice president for university relations at Virginia Tech. The school plans to appeal the fine.

According to USA Today, the shootings began at 7:15 a.m. that day when Cho Seung-Hui killed two students in a residence hall. The university did not alert students about the shootings until nearly 9:30 a.m and did so through an email.

The Education Department said Virginia Tech's initially notification was still insufficient, as it did not state that a murder had happened or that the shooter was not in custody.

By about 9:40 a.m., Cho walked into another university building and went on a rampage, killing 30 students and himself. Virginia Tech sent out a more severe warning at 9:50 a.m. through email, phone and loudspeaker, according to The New York Times.

By the end, 33 people had been killed, including Cho.

"They should accept the fact that they made a mistake," Holly Sherman said to The Roanoke Times upon hearing Virginia Tech plans to appeal the fine. Her daughter, Leslie, was one of the victims in the shooting.

"I'm not saying they had anything malicious in their minds, but they were neglectful. They delayed until it was too late because they didn't want bad press," she said. "If they accepted their faults, I wouldn't be feeling the same resentment."

Analysis: Number Use

A report by CBS MoneyWatch about why North Dakota is considered the best state to live in uses numbers in percentages, fractions and totals.

The entire article is essentially about statistics that highlight North Dakota's benefits compared to others, especially in regards to its "economics and fiscal policy." The numbers are necessary to prove the reporter's point, otherwise it would just be an empty opinion without any facts to back it up. With that said, the numbers are not too overwhelming because the reader recognizes their necessity.

With so many different numbers and figures, the reporter does a good job of realizing when to use percentages and when to use fractions so that it is easier for the reader to grasp the information. Also, by comparing North Dakota to other states, the math is contrasting the two figures helps illustrate the reporter's argument.

Since the article appears to have been exclusively for online purposes, the sources to these figures are not directly listed but links in the article. These sources range from Gallup surveys, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Overall, I would say the reporter uses numbers effectively in the article to show how North Dakota is superior in elements that would be important to homeowners, professionals and families.

Jennie-O Recalls 55,000 Pounds of Turkey

Jennie-O Turkey Store in Willmar, Minn. has recalled nearly 55,000 pounds of frozen turkey burger meat due to links of salmonella poisoning.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall Saturday after salmonella cases in 10 states to 12 people. Jennie-O has since recalled 54,960 pounds of the the turkey meat.

The exact product under recall is the Jennie-O Turkey Store All Natural Lean White Meat Turkey Burgers with December 23, 2011 as its "use by" date, according to Gather.

The FSIS investigated a case on April 1 after a patient in Wisconsin had been diagnosed with salmonella. Upon further investigation, the FSIS and found that the 11 other cases had a connection to the Jennie-O product.

The Star Tribune reports Jennie-O said the product was only sold at Sam's Club Stores but were distributed nationwide.

The FSIS has released tips and suggestions to best avoid salmonella, including washing hands thoroughly and keeping meat products away from other foods to avoid potential examination.

CBS News reports about 40,000 salmonella cases are reported each year, but the number is most likely higher as cases probably go unreported.

Minneapolis Increase Spending on Potholes

The Minneapolis City Council approved up to an additional $1 million Friday towards improving potholes in the city.

This measure is expected to increase street repairs for crews dedicated to fixing potholes.

KMSP reports the funding will double the number of crews. That means there will be four new crews for the next seven weeks starting on Tuesday, according to MPR News.

Half of the money approved came from leftover funds from the city's 2010 budget, while the rest will come from money set aside for future repairs.

This is the second consecutive year in with the council has approved funding increases towards pothole repairs. Council members said the harsh winter was a major factor in the "significant pothole problem," according to the Star Tribune.

International Pillow Fight Day Celebrated Worldwide

New York, London, Brussels and and Amsterdam are cities that took part in the sixth Pillow Fight Day on Saturday as a day to have fun and raise money.

Started by two students from Toronto University in 2005, Pillow Fight Day has emerged as an annual international event.

Kevin Bracken and Lori Kufner, the students who founded the day, said it was meant to be a unifying event done in the interest of fun.

"This is a building block of our goal to spread free event culture to every corner of the world," Bracken and Kufner said on their "how-to" guide online, according to The Telegraph.

Thousands of participants gathered in squares and public areas across the globe to enjoy the festivities. The Seattle Times reports 115 cities and 39 countries had planned events.

The events are often accompanied by various charitable opportunities. Some may include a fee to take part while others ask for donations.

WCBS-TV reports that there are three rules associated with Pillow Fight Day: no hitting people with glasses, no hitting people with cameras and no hitting people without pillows.

Spanish PM Won't Seek Re-election

Spain's prime minister announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2012 for a third term.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the Spanish Prime Minister, told Socialist Party leaders at a meeting after uncertainty about his future prospects.

Zapatero, and his party has a whole, are facing all-time lows in popularity due to the country's poor economy. The Socialist Party currently stands 15 percentage points behind the Popular Party in the polls, according to BBC News.

Local elections will be held next month. All Spanish cities and 13 of its 17 regional parliaments will be on May 22, and Zapatero's decision in unexpected to influence voters.

He was elected in 2004 following terrorist attacks on the Madrid commuter train system. Spain's economy was among the best in Europe at the time.

Currently, Spain's unemployment is nearly 20 percent, according to CNN.com.

The New York Times reports the Socialist Party's chances of winning in the upcoming elections will depend on the economy's performance and view it as likely the Popular Party will win in 2012.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2011 is the previous archive.

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