« June 2007 | Main | August 2007 »

July 29, 2007

Second worker swept away in storm found

The second and final sewer worker missing after a heavy rainstorm Thursday was found, the Pioneer Press reported Sunday. The body of Joe Harlow, 34, was recovered from the Mississippi River Saturday about 15 yards from where the body of his coworker, Dave Yasis, 23, had been found the previous day. The two were swept away Thursday while working in the sewer system below St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood. Six other workers made it to safety as a strong afternoon storm dumped nearly a half inch of water in the area in less than half an hour. It is still unclear why Harlow and Yasis did not make it out of the sewers in time.

Vice President Cheney ok after surgery

Vice President Dick Cheney was in good condition Saturday after having his defibrillator replaced, the Washington Post reported Sunday. Doctors at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., replaced the device that monitors Cheney's heartbeat. The device, commonly used in the United States, sends an electronic surge through the heart when it detects an irregular heartbeat, setting it normal again. Doctors did not have to replace any of the wiring connected to the device, which is woven through Cheney's heart and therefore would have been a more extensive and serious surgery. Cheney smiled and waved when he left the hospital, about four hours after his arrival. He is expected to resume regular activity and duties immediately.

Iraq wins Asian Cup

The Iraqi national soccer team won their first ever Asian Cup championship Sunday, the New York Times reported. Celebrants poured into the streets around the country and defied authority orders by firing celebratory gun shots. Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the championship match, becoming the ultimate Cinderella story. Saudi Arabia has won the Asian Cup three times, as opposed to the Iraqi team, which had never even made it to the final match before Sunday's victory. At least four people died in the celebrations that broke out around the country after the match ended.

Chinese sculptor causes uproar

The choice of using a Chinese sculptor to create a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., is starting to cause an increasingly loud uproar among American critics, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The Chinese national, Lei Yixin, was chosen over an African-American man, Ed Dwight. Dwight said he was told by the committee in charge of the sculpture that they were going to choose Lei in hopes that China would then contribute millions of dollars to the committee's fundraising efftorts. The statue will stand along Washington, D.C.'s Tidal Basin.

I chose to do this story because it is a good example of the local paper striving to diversify its content. Instead of just leaving diversity for pieces on festivals and ethnic holidays, or (worse) crime reports and immigration laws, the Star Tribune picked up this story from the LA Times that went beyond the news. This story could have stopped after the first section, which explains the current controversy and a little bit about the statue. However, this piece goes further in the next section by focusing in on the sculptor himself. The author tells about Lei's hometown, his upbringing in the communist country and his rebellion against it. The author also chooses to reflect who Lei is today (confident, serene, slightly cocky but understanding, humorous) and his current lifestyle as a "master" artist in China. The third section does a great job of connecting the first two sections in more detail. It is kind of like, this is the news, this is the background, this is how the two fit together. The author does a great job of showing Lei as a human being, with likes and dislikes, fear and confidence, weaknesses and strengths. I think the article goes so far beyond the news and into the person behind it for two reasons. One, the LA Times is in California, one of the most densely Asian-American populated states. They needed to go beyond the news because their audience insists upon it. Closely related is the second reason the author pushed beyond the headline. If the article would have cut off after the first section, it would have seemed anti-Chinese and therefore, not fair. The first section doesn't let Lei speak or the committee who chose him explain their choice, so the first part is slanted towards the critics. By letting Lei show his world and why he thinks he was the right choice, the author achieves diversity, fairness and balance in this piece.

July 28, 2007

Remains of missing Stillwater man found

The remains of Jon Francis, 24, of Stillwater, Minn., were positively identified Tuesday, ending more than a year of searching for the young man who went missing while climbing a mountain in Idaho, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. Francis, who's parents also live in Stillwater, never returned to a church camp where he was a youth leader last summer after going on a hike by himself in the Sawtooth Mountains. A guest log at the top of Grand Mogul mountain showed that Francis had reached the summit. His body was found on the north side of the mountain, which is the most trecherous face to climb. Authorities are still looking for his backpack and camera, at the family's request, because the family wants to see the last pictures their son took before his death.

July 22, 2007

The second life of Agent Turner

I don't have a lot to say about the breaking news in this story, because there really is not any. This piece, which ran in Sunday's Pioneer Press (http://www.twincities.com/ci_6430921?source=most_viewed), is a profile of ex-FBI agent Jane Turner. Turner, who was mostly stationed in North Dakota during her career, is most famous for her discrimination lawsuit against the FBI. Turner worked on cases involving crimes against children and, depending on who is speaking of her, she was either one of the FBI's best or worst. She filed an internal complaint on behalf of herself and other female FBI agents, complaining that their sex was affecting their careers. After filing the complaint, Turner went from getting glowing reviews to increasingly negative ones. She was eventually transferred to Minneapolis, to be under closer supervision. After she retired, she sued the FBI for sexual discrimination.

I chose this piece because it is a good example of a profile. The author does a good job of representing both Turner's history and her current life. The piece is considerable long for a newspaper, which generally points to the amount of time the author spent researching the article. Also, from the scene that opens and closes the piece, you can tell the author spent time with Turner and the people close to her to be able to tell her story in an all-encompasing manner. Another device I really like in this piece is how the author brought the story in full circle. The first image of the profile is this ex-agent sitting in a diner talking about her past life with her pre-teen daughter interjecting. The author chose to close the profile with the same scene, which brings a sense of closure to the article, even if Turner hasn't experienced the closure in her life. The one thing I have to complain about in this article is that right at the beginning of the story, the author says that Turner has only had a chill shoot down her back three times in her life. I feel like the article takes thoroughly too long to list those three events. The connections between these parts is stretched or missing all together. This makes the article frustrating because you want to rush through it to find the three events.

July 20, 2007

Brasilian plane crash kills hundreds

At least 189 people died Tuesday after a plane crash in Sao Paulo, Brasil. The crash, which is still under investigation, occured while the plane was landing at South America's busiest airport. Critics are already pointing to the unusually short length of the runway as the possible cause of the crash. Just a day before, a smaller plane had skid off the runway of the same airport during landing. However, no one was hurt in that accident. Officials warned that the death toll could rise, however, this is already the most deadly airplane accident in the world in the last five years. Brasil's president has vowed changes will be made to the country's airline system.

July 15, 2007

Afghanistan frees teen bomber

http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3379408Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai freed a Pakastani teen accused of planning a suicide bombing, ABC News reported Sunday. The 14-year-old told authorities he was recruited in his madrassa along with two other teenage boys to carry out suicide bombings in neighboring Afghanistan. The boy walked over eight hours to the eastern Afghan city of Khost with directions to kill an Afghani governor. The boy was detained the night before his attack was supposed to take place. Afghani President Karzai forgave the boy and pointed to him as an example of a growing trend in which children are being recruited by Taliban-affliated terrorist groups. This, according to the United Nations, is a war crime.

Sniper shoots wife

A singer was shot just after midnight Saturday as she sang in a Wyoming bar, the Associated Press reported Sunday. Authorities are now looking for her husband, who went to sniper school while in the Army. Robin Munis recently separated from her husband, David Munis, who is now in the National Guard. She complained to authorities Friday that her estranged husband had left a threatening message on her phone. Customers at Old Chicago in Cheyenne, Wyo., ran for cover in bathrooms, freezers and the kitchen after a shot rang out in the bar and Robin Munis fell to the stage. So far, no one has reported seeing the shooter or where the shot was fired from. However, witnesses did see a black pick-up truck slowly pull out of the parking lot and then speed away immediately following the shooting. David Munis currently works as a recruiter for a base about 100 miles north of Cheyenne, and is scheduled to become a second lieutenant next month.

Ham Lake fire reveals geological treasure

Geologists who had their plans for an annual meeting changed by the Ham Lake fire in northern Minnesota in May stumbled upon a previously undiscovered rock that may hold secrets dating back 1.85 billion years, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. The formation resembles cement, but, as Mark Jirsa, the geologist who discovered the formation explains, this cement was made from an ancient impact with force equal to several billion Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs. This formation is the furthest above ground evidence of the impact found.

The baby mystery

A 15-year-old St. Paul runaway continues to puzzle authorities and medical experts alike in the case of a missing baby that may have never existed in the first place, the Pioneer Press reported Sunday. A year ago, last July, child-protection workers contacted authorities to locate the runaway, who they thought was past her due date. When police tracked her down, she did not have the child with her and led authorities to a grassy patch next to a freeway, where she said she gave birth. She then changed her story, telling police that she had given birth in the back seat of a car and asked the car's owner to bring the baby to the hospital. When the car was tracked down and searched, and the owner questioned, no baby was found. Then the girl recanted the entire story, saying she had never been pregnant. Medical experts now say that this last story is probably the truth.

I chose to do this story for my extended blog because I really think it highlights the subject of fairness. I never heard about this story when it first came out, so I don't know if this article added any new information to the case. However, if there is new or updated information in the article, I feel as though it was not properly highlighted. Although the article is relatively sensitive in other ways, the lack of timeliness reflects poorly on the fairness of this article. It reads almost as if it was a slow news day and they remembered this story from a year ago, when it was current. Reading the article, I almost felt as if the girl was being paraded in front of the Pioneer Press's readership for entertainment. And this, obviously, is not fair to the minor being used for the article.

July 14, 2007

State Representative Convicted

An eight-term state representative from Big Lake, Minn., was convicted Friday of one count of misdemeanor domestic assault with intent to cause fear, the Pioneer Press reported. However, State Rep. Mark Olson was acquitted of a second charge of misdemeanor assault. The case stems from a November incident behind the representative's home, where he pushed his wife to the ground three times. During the trial, Olson claimed that he was the victim in the case, and told the jury of ways his wife had abused him, including cutting his picture out of their wedding album cover. HIs wife, Heidi Olson, claimed she was the abused one in the relationship and had frequently feared for her life. After the verdict, Olson said he would try to reconcile with his wife. However, in a prepared statement by Heidi Olson and read by her brother-in-law, no suggestion of reconciliation was mentioned. State House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said Friday that the House can punish members who bring the body dishonor, but that two members would have to file motions to set the process into action.

July 1, 2007

Minnesotan wins America Junior Miss

A Mendota Heights teen won America´s Junior Miss scholastic competition Saturday night in Mobile, Ala. Nora Ali, who graduated valedictorian from South St. Paul High School in May, beat out one teen from each state to win the $50 thousand scholarship, the Star Tribune reported Sunday. She placed in the top five in four of the five catagories being judged, which included scholastic merit, interview, fitness, self-expression and talent. Placing high in so many catagories earned Ali an additional $4,000. She will use the money to attend Harvard University in the fall, where she will study applied mathematics and finance.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

Lilydale struggles with sliver of land

Lilydale city officials are trying to decide what to do with a little piece of land causing some big disputes. The land, less than an acre in size, was given to the city years ago, the Pioneer Press reported Thursday. City officials thought that the land was deeded to the city with certain stipulations for its use, but recently discovered tht at this is not the case. Most of the council members want to sell the land to residential developers, which would win the ity about $320 thousand dollars. These council members see the land as a way to help the city get out of debt. However, there is another side to the story. One council member wants to protect the land as it is zoned in the city plan, a¨"passive open space." She also contends that the land is not suitable for residential development because it is too steep of a grade to build on. The council voted 3-1 to survey the land for residential sale.

Officials work to save trailers

Officials in Washington County are working to save the dwindeling number of trailer parks in the upscale suburban county, according to a Sunday article in the Pioneer Press. Programs to subsidize trailer court owners and purchase struggling parks to keep them afloat have sprung up in recent months in Washington County, aimed at keeping low income families out of government subsidize housing and in Washington County. According to the article, a total of 17 parks have closed in Minnesota in the past six years, often because of the soaring land prices in the suburbs.

I chose this article because it deals with the complex numbers and economic situation of the mobile home crisis in a managable and understandable way. There are no graphics accompanying this article, which would have enhanced the trend of the article and made it more easy to digest for visual learners. However, overall, the writer did a good job breaking up the numbers into smaller chunks so they were easier to deal with. For instance, the reporter says that mobile homes are much more affordable than other housing options for low income families, saying they cost, "an average of $60,000 for a new unit, with many used ones available for about $30,000. In Minnesota, the average lot rental is $367 per month." Then, instead of moving right into how much government-subsidised housing costs, the reporter throws in some supportive quotes for the numbers. In this example, Dave Anderson, the director of one of the programs profiled in the article, explains that a mobile home is much cheaper than even a one-bedroom apartment. The reporter uses this structure throughout the article, allowing the numbers to float through and support the writing, not bog the story down.