July 2012 Archives

James Holmes, suspect of the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shootings, was charged with 142 counts Monday, said the Denver Post.

Among the charges are 24 counts of first-degree murder, with two counts for each victim killed, said Time.

Prosecutors charged Holmes under two different theories of murder. The first is murder after deliberation and the second is murder with indifference to life, said the Denver Post.

Although prosecution has not announced whether they will pursue the death penalty for Holmes, law professor at the University of Denver Sam Kamin said to Time, "All expectation is that the prosecution will seek the death penalty."

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 more in a July 20 movie theater shooting.

Mitt Romney declared Sunday that the U.S. should support Israel if it decides to take an armed stance against Iran's nuclear weapons program, said the Los Angeles Times.

The Republican presidential candidate spoke to 150 carefully selected guests in Jerusalem Tuesday, among whom were Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish-American millionaires and potential campaign donors, said Haaretz.

Romney stated that the U.S. has a "solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran's leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions" and declared his full support of Israel, said the Los Angeles Times.

In an unusual move, Netanyahu invited Romney and his family to dinner at his private residence, suggesting that the two have a closer relationship than normal for a candidate, said Haaretz.

Former Gophers diver wins silver medal

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A former diver at the University of Minnesota won the silver medal in the women's synchronized 3-meter diving event at the Olympics Sunday, said the Star Tribune.

Former Gopher Kelci Bryant and partner Abby Johnston placed second with 321.90 points behind China, who scored 346.20 points, said the Star Tribune.

The duo's silver medal marks the first time in Olympic history that an American duo has reached the podium in the women's synchronized 3-meter dive, said the .

Bryant and former partner Ariel Rittenhouse placed fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said the Minnesota Daily.

Key victim in Sandusky trial emerges

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The victim allegedly raped in a Penn State locker room shower by Jerry Sandusky emerged Thursday with plans to sue the school, said the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The man, known in previous court records as "Victim 2", is being represented by the same attorneys representing four other victims in the case, said The Wall Street Journal.

During previous court proceedings, prosecutors stated that Victim 2's identity was unknown, but have "overwhelming evidence" about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Sandusky, said The Wall Street Journal.

The man's story was a key piece in Mike McQueary's testimony against Sandusky, who stated that he witnessed Sandusky raping Victim 2 in a locker room shower, said the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Attorney's representing the victim are suing Penn State for "egregious and reckless conduct that facilitated the horrific abuse our client suffered", said the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Lake Elmo swim pond closed due to parasite

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The swimming pond at Lake Elmo Reserve Park was closed temporarily Thursday after several swimmers reported illnesses, said the Pioneer Press.

The Cryptosporidium organism, which causes diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, is believed to be the cause of this outbreak, said parks director John Elholm to the Star Tribune.

In order to eradicate the parasite, the pond needs to be treated with chlorine, a process which will last until Friday afternoon, said the Star Tribune.

Although the exact cause and source of the outbreak are not known, all of the swimmers who reported symptoms swam at the Lake Elmo pond, said the Pioneer Press.

"Park visitor safety is our main concern," said Elholm to the Star Tribune.

Greenland's ice cover melted at record rate in July

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Greenland's ice sheet melted at a faster rate in July than it has in recorded history, said The Guardian.

NASA found that 97 percent of the ice sheet covering Greenland was in the process of melting during July, an unprecedented amount, said Reuters.

According to NASA, Greenland's ice cover normally melts about halfway, making this summer's melt rate alarming to scientists, said Reuters.

Scientists first believed the melting rates were a mistake until further satellite surveillance was conducted, said The Guardian.

"What we're seeing over Greenland now is really just part of this much bigger picture of a very warm melting summer in the Arctic," said Mark Serreze, director and senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, according to Reuters.

Serreze warned of rising sea levels due to the "sorry state" of the Arctic ice caps, said Reuters.

Apple stock slumps due to weak iPhone sales

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Apple's stock value has dropped after the company released a disappointing earnings report Tuesday, said The Washington Post.

Stock value dropped almost 5 percent following the release of the earnings report between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, said The New York Times.

Despite selling 28 percent more iPhones during last quarter than it did a year prior, Apple sold $4 million less in iPhones than expected, said The Washington Post.

Apple also sold a record-breaking 17 million iPads last quarter, yet fell $3 million short of their expected earnings in general revenue, said The Washington Post.

Analysts blame the upcoming version of the iPhone, expected to be released this fall, for the lagging sales, said The New York Times.

It is believed that consumers are holding out on buying the iPhone 4S and waiting for the new model, drastically reducing sales figures for Apple, said The New York Times.

Apple CEO Timothy Cook said, "I'm glad people want the next thing. I'm not going to put any energy into trying to get people to stop speculating," said The New York Times.

Numbers analysis

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In this Wall Street Journal article about recent flooding in Beijing, the reporter uses numbers to detail death and injury tolls, monetary amounts of damage, amount of people relocated, and rain totals over time.

The numbers are limited to one or two references per paragraph and are broken up throughout the story to each discuss a different facet of the flooding and its aftermath.

One instance in which the reporter could have been more clear about the numbers is in a later paragraph where they discuss a 120 million yuan money allocation to help bring relief to the affected areas. Most people reading this (myself included) would have no idea what the U.S. dollar equivalent of 120 million yuan is, so a simple conversion could have been calculated to make it easier to read.

The reporter frequently cites Xinhua, a state-run media outlet, as the source of their information. Another source used is the blog of a municipal government, which announced the current death toll. After each number or figure used, the reporter accurately attributes that information to either source.

An Air Force instructor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Saturday for numerous counts of rape and sexual assault at a military training center, said The Washington Post.

Staff Sgt. Luis Walker was sentenced Saturday in San Antonio, Texas after being convicted of 28 charges of rape, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated sexual conduct, said The Washington Post.

"The only thing I ask you for is that you consider my family," said Walker to the jury before being sentenced, said the Houston Chronicle.

10 women, all in basic training, were involved in illicit relationships with Walker between October 2010 and January 2011 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, said the Houston Chronicle.

Walker is the first of 12 Lackland instructors under investigation for sexual misconduct to stand trial and be sentenced, said The Washington Post.

Southwest light rail contract reconsidered

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The Metropolitan Council announced Friday that it is reconsidering its contract with the engineering firm linked to the Sabo Bridge breakdown to construct the Southwest Corridor light rail line, said MPR.

The firm, URS Corp., was the sole contractor enlisted last month by the council to build the light rail line which would connect Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis, said the Star Tribune.

URS Corp., however, was linked in a recent report to the failure of the Sabo bike and pedestrian bridge in Minneapolis, and the council has since broken up the contract to multiple firms, said the Star Tribune.

Mark Fuhrman, the Met Council's program director for light rail projects, said that the reconsideration shows "the benefit and the importance of having an independent set of eyes take a look at the technical design documents before construction so that all of those engineering details can be critically reviewed, and if necessary adjusted, before projects go to construction," said MPR.

The Met Council's transportation committee will release its decision Monday on whether it will it will hire one or multiple contractors for the light rail project, said MPR.

Israeli victims of Bulgaria bus bombs buried

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Funerals were held for the five Israeli victims of a bus bombing in Bulgaria Friday, said BBC News.

The bodies of the slain Israeli tourists were flown from Bulgaria to Tel Aviv Thursday night to be laid to rest Friday, said BBC News.

The burials come two days after the five victims, four men and one pregnant woman, were killed in the bombing of a tourist bus in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas, said NPR.

Both Israeli and American officials have blamed Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, for the attacks, but the identity of the bomber has not been identified, said NPR.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attacks part of a "global campaign of terror" and said Wednesday that Israel would "respond forcefully to Iranian terror," according to BBC News.

Inactivity is killing roughly as many people as smoking annually, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The study, published by the Lancet, found that roughly 5.3 million people globally die from diseases linked to lack of exercise, said BBC News.

This number correlates about one in ten deaths annually to inactivity, said the Los Angeles Times.

The report called the issue a "pandemic" and said that over one-third of adults worldwide do not get enough exercise, said BBC News.

Co-author of the study Pedro Hallal said that inactivity is "underfunded and undervalued" in comparison to other health problems like cancer or heart disease, said the Los Angeles Times.

"The global challenge is clear," said Hallal, "make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease."

Boy Scouts reaffirm ban on gay members and leaders

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The Boy Scouts of America has reaffirmed its ban on gay members Tuesday after a secret, two-year-long review on the policy, said the The Associated Press.

In a statement released by the organization, the 11-member committee determined that maintaining exclusion is "absolutely the best decision for the Boy Scouts."

The decision to uphold the policy was unanimous and the group will take no further action on the issue, said the Los Angeles Times.

According to Bob Mazzuca, chief executive of the Boy Scouts, most Scout families are in support of the policy, said the AP. "No single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society," said Mazzuca.

Despite recent protest to the policy from several executive board members, the committee's statement did not address the internal conflict, said the Los Angeles Times.

Minneapolis and St. Paul outpace suburbs in growth

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Minneapolis and St. Paul led the suburbs in population growth, said the Star Tribune.

A report released by the Metropolitan Council found that Minneapolis and St. Paul each gained thousands of new residents last year, which signals a change after years of population loss to the suburbs, said the Star Tribune.

Minneapolis led the Twin Cities metro area in terms of growth with more than five thousand new residents, said Metropolitan Council research manager Libby Starling to Minnesota Public Radio.

"We are seeing a return to growth in the core cities which we have not been seeing specifically for many years," Starling told MPR.

While members of the Metropolitan Council warned against making large decisions based on one year, the trend could direct public funds away from highways and toward public transportation in Minneapolis and St. Paul, said the Star Tribune.

According to the Star Tribune, the suburbs still outpace the two large cities in terms of long-term population growth.

Obituary analysis

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In Walker Art Center librarian Rosemary Furtak's Star Tribune obituary, writer Mary Abbe uses multiple first-hand accounts of Furtak as her sources. Because the obituary focuses on Furtak's career at the Walker, the sources are all former colleagues.

The lead is a mix of standard and alternative, as it discusses Furtak's biggest career accomplishments, but leaves out the when and where of her death. I think that the lead works, as it makes the obituary more personal and less formulaic.

The obituary is very similar to a resume. It details all of her biggest career accomplishments and does not have very much information about her personal life, except at the end. It differs from a resume, however, in that it paints a picture of her personality through her career.

Apple re-registers with EPEAT ratings

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Apple reversed its decision to withdraw from EPEAT's environmental ratings system Friday, said the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Apple originally withdrew from the program which puts environmental standards on computer products, arguing that it had no need to be in the program, said PC World.

Since Apple typically exceeded the ratings, the withdrawal came under criticism from government officials and universities, both of whom use Apple products, said PC World. Government agencies from federal to city threatened to stop using the products as a result of the withdrawal.

Apple Senior Vice President Bob Mansfield said that the withdrawal was a "mistake" in a letter to customers concerned about the move, said Mercury News.

Kofi Annan condemns recent Syria massacre

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U.N. special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan has condemned the most recent Syrian massacre, said Bloomberg.

Between 200 and 300 people were killed Thursday in the Syrian town of Tremseh. Government opposition blames government forces, while the Syrian government blames "terrorists" for the attacks, said The Washington Post.

The massacre launched protests throughout Syria, which will likely bring about more violence, said Bloomberg.

Annan said Friday that he was "shocked and appalled" by the massacre and blamed the Syrian government for the killings, said The Washington Post.

Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the Obama administration, said there is no longer doubt about the "need for a coordinated international response at the United Nations," said Bloomberg.

The North Dakota man accused of killing his three daughters was formally charged with their murder Thursday, said The Associated Press.

The father, 34-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder Thursday by St. Croix County prosecutors. His bail was also set at $2 million by Circuit Judge Howard W. Cameron, said the Star Tribune.

The girls, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia were found in their beds with their throats slashed Tuesday at their River Falls, Wis. home after a visit with their father, said the Star Tribune.

Jessica Schaffhausen, mother of the slain girls and ex-wife to Aaron Schaffhausen, told police that he called her and said, "You can come home now because I killed the kids," according to the AP.

St. Croix County District Attorney Eric Johnson called the case "by far, the worst case" he has seen in his 30 years of prosecuting. "It's impossible to keep emotions out of it," he said, according to the Star Tribune.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 24, said the Star Tribune.


The Episcopal Church approved a ceremony Tuesday which would allow priests to bestow the church's blessing on same-sex unions, said The Associated Press.

The Episcopal General Convention approved the measure, which allows the rite to be performed even in states where same-sex marriage is illegal, 171 to 50 in Indianapolis Tuesday, said The New York Times.

According to Rev. Ruth Meyers, however, the church "is not in agreement in its understanding of marriage", and the rite remains a blessing for the time being, said The New York Times.

Episcopalians also voted on Monday to enact a policy which prevents discrimination against transgender clergy, said the AP.

Bishop Edward S. Little believes that "there will be some departures, but probably not massive," in response to the decisions, said The New York Times.

A 29-year-old Cottage Grove woman set herself ablaze and died Saturday, just several weeks after being scorned on national television for unintentionally smothering her infant son, said the Pioneer Press.

Tori Medrano, charged with two counts of manslaughter for falling asleep on top of and asphyxiating her infant son while intoxicated, died at St. Paul's Regions Hospital after lighting herself on fire in her mother's backyard, said the Star Tribune.

In June, Medrano was featured on HLN's "Nancy Grace" and dubbed the "vodka mom" following the incident, said the Pioneer Press.

St. Paul Police Chief Michael Monahan said Medrano was "despondent and suicidal over personal issues," in reference to her pre-suicide mindset, said the Star Tribune.

According to the Pioneer Press, Medrano is not the first person to kill herself following an appearance on "Nancy Grace", as a Florida woman killed herself in 2006 after being featured on the show.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that his state will not enact two major components of Obama's health care law, said the Houston Chronicle.

Perry said in a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, that Texas will not expand Medicaid or set up an exchange for patients to buy health insurance, reported USA Today.

Perry said later on in the letter that the Affordable Care Act's "unsound encroachments will find no foothold" in Texas.

Last month, the Supreme Court, which upheld most of the law, struck down the portion of the Affordable Care Act which required states to expand Medicaid, giving Texas and other states the ability to choose the expansion or not, said USA Today.

The governor, who recently ran for the GOP presidential nomination, said he does not want to be "party to socializing health care," said the Houston Chronicle.

Sebelius'office has yet to comment on Perry's letter, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Speech analysis

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In this New York Times article covering a speech Obama gave on the campaign trail Friday, the writer starts with quotes from the speech, but as he goes into the context of the speech more, he draws from other recent quotes to build the story. Later on in the story, the writer uses quotes from Romney to detail his campaign's response to Obama's performance in terms of unemployment. Most of this article focuses on the context of the speech, which is the current state of unemployment in the U.S. Because of this, the speech venue and environment are not described too thoroughly. It is mentioned, though, that it was a "sympathetic crowd in an elementary school gymnasium."

Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final Sunday, bringing his career Grand Slam total up to 17.

Federer, who had not won at any of the majors in two-and-a-half years, is now ranked No. 1 in the world after the win, said Time.

"I never stopped believing and I started playing more even though I have a family," said Federer during the trophy presentation, silencing doubters who claimed that Federer was too old for a comeback, reported Time.

Runner-up Andy Murray broke down during the trophy presentation, saying "I hope I can get through this," before congratulating Federer, said the Los Angeles Times.

Murray, who has lost all four of the Grand Slam finals in which he has played, would have been the first British man to win at Wimbledon since 1936.

Best Buy to slash 2,400 jobs nationwide

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Best Buy announced Friday that it will cut 2,400 jobs in order to cut costs and reduce the size of the company, said the Star Tribune.

The cuts will include 1,800 in-store positions and 600 Geek Squad tech support jobs, which make up roughly 1.4 percent of Best Buy's total workforce, said Minnesota Public Radio.

Although the Richfield-based company is the largest consumer electronics vendor in the country with annual sales of over $50 million, it has been facing increasing competition from companies like Amazon and Target, said the Star Tribune.

Best Buy spokesman Bruce Hight said the company is "working to minimize the impact of the changes on employees, while building a foundation for a strong future," said MPR.

Best Buy aims to shift its Geek Squad tech support services to assisting small businesses and hopes to focus on its Connected Stores, which focus on customer service, said the Star Tribune.

New Zimmerman bond set at $1 million

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A judge raised George Zimmerman's bond to $1 million during a ruling Thursday, said the Los Angeles Times.

Zimmerman, the Florida Neighborhood Watch volunteer who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, had his $150,000 bail revoked after a Seminole County court found undisclosed assets, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

Zimmerman's wife Shellie was arrested on suspicion of perjury last month after lying about the hidden money and a second passport, said the Los Angeles Times.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., who has presided over the case thus far, has banned Zimmerman from leaving Seminole County without court permission, said the Orlando Sentinel.

Lester said in his ruling that "together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country," reported the Los Angeles Times.


Pakistan reopens border to NATO supply trucks

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Pakistan reopened its border with Afghanistan Thursday for NATO supply trucks for the first time since November, said National Public Radio.

The border, which was closed by Pakistan after an American airstrike in November killed 24 Pakistani border troops, let through the first NATO trucks to Afghanistan in seven months, said The New York Times.

Pakistan agreed to the reopening Tuesday after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized to Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar Tuesday for the airstrikes, reported The New York Times.

More than 2,500 NATO trucks and supply containers were stuck in Karachi during the blockade, which forced NATO to utilize longer and more expensive routes through other Central Asian countries, said NPR.

While the move is seen as a step forward for U.S.-Pakistan relations, numerous political, military, and religious groups in Pakistan are planning to stage protests as a result of the reopening, said The New York Times.

Multimedia analysis

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The Star Tribune has a section at the bottom of their page titled "Latest Photos & Videos" to give the reader audio/visual options aside from the written stories. This section is a random assortment of photo galleries and videos, presented in thumbnail format. In the lists of headlines, it is specified whether or not a particular story has a video to along with that story. The writing in the Star Tribune's photo galleries and videos is very succinct and informs the reader while allowing the photograph to truly tell the story. Each caption is two or three sentences.

National Public Radio, being first and foremost an audio news source, has a section entitled "listen" to the side of the section tabs. Stories that can be listened to are clearly labeled with a speaker icon. The site also links to their blog titled "The Picture Show", which features the photographs of various artists. The story beneath them is a brief description of the artist and each photograph features a caption written by the artist, in quotes.

Research In Motion Ltd. stock drops 19 percent

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The stock of RIM, maker of the BlackBerry, dropped 19 percent in value after reporting its first-quarter sales Friday, said Business Week.

The company's losses were more than five times larger than anticipated, as the price of one share of stock fell 37 cents, said Business Week.

RIM also reported that the release date of its newest BlackBerry operating system, BlackBerry 10, will be delayed until early 2013, said the San Francisco Chronicle.

Because of a 41 percent decrease in sales, RIM will be cutting 30 percent of its workforce, a total of 5,000 jobs, said the San Francisco Chronicle.

Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity Inc., said that it is likely that RIM will put itself up for sale due to its inability to compete with Google's Android and Apple's iPhone, reported Business Week.

RIM did not comment on any takeover speculation, said Business Week.

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