September 2009 Archives

Analysis: Attribution in a story about bin Laden tape

A CNN report about Thursday's message from Osama bin Laden to Germany featured two sources.  The first was the recorded message itself, where most of the information in the story came from.  The second was Stefan Paris, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry.

Each source dominated a specific part of the article in a logical manner.  When the author was giving an overview of bin Laden's message, he used bin Laden's tape recording as a source of information.  When the author shifted focus from the specifics of the message to Germany's response, the spokesman for the German Interior Ministry became the main source.  The attribution of each source is clearly stated because both sources are well-introduced.  Quotes are frequently used, so it is clear where the information is coming from.


Burns' new National Parks documentary runs this week

by Greta Kaul

    The first episode of Ken Burns' new 12-hour documentary, Our National Parks: America's Best Idea, will debut Sunday on PBS.
    
    The film covers the history of America's national parks, from the founding of Yosemite and Yellowstone to today.  According to the New York Times, the film stresses the conflict between preserving wilderness untouched and preserving it for the recreation and education of the public.

    Some of the readings of naturalist John Muir, an important figure in the founding of the parks, are read as narrative in the film, the New York Times said.  The photography of Ansel Adams is also widely featured in the documentary, NPR said.
     
    Burns told NPR that the preservation of land for the public was a uniquely  American idea; that it runs contrary to America's inclination to exploit nature.  "Like the idea of freedom, it's a pretty good export," he said.

    The film will be shown in six two-hour installments from Sunday to Friday nights on PBS.

Postman-thief pleads guilty

by Greta Kaul

 

            University of Minnesota-area postman pleaded guilty to an accusation of stealing mail addressed to others Wednesday, the Star Tribune said.

            Timothy J. Krolick, 29, admitted to having stolen mail on February 6 after customer complaints prompted a United States Postal Service investigation, according to the Minnesota Daily.

            Krolick has yet to be sentenced, and is on involuntary, unpaid leave.  He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, the Star Tribune reports.

            The mail that was stolen was from University-area zip codes 55414 and 55455, said the Minnesota Daily.

            A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Office reported that the type of mail and its monetary value are not public information at this time, according to the Minnesota Daily. 

Bin Laden warns Germany via Internet

by Greta Kaul

 

            In a statement on radical Islamic sites Friday, Osama bin Laden warned Germans not to back candidates who support the war in Afghanistan in their upcoming elections, according to CNN.

            In the statement, bin Laden advised Europe to distance itself from the United States, which is losing the war, he said.

            Bin Laden criticized Germany for sacrificing men and money in an "unjust war" under the cover of NATO, according to Reuters. Many of the attacks aimed at the Taliban, bin Laden said, kill and wound civilians instead.  Germany has 4,200 NATO-led troops in Afghanistan.

            The authenticity of the statement has not been established.  A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry told CNN that it will take the message seriously, but will not be forced into a state of panic.  Germany is unaware of any specific terror plots.

            In the past week, three other videos of al Qaeda messenger Bekkay Harrach have appeared on the Internet.  Harrach said Germany will pay a price if they elect officials who support the war in Afghanistan, Reuters reported.

Supreme Court justice taken to hospital

by Greta Kaul

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 76, was taken to the hospital as a precaution Thursday when she fell ill in the court chambers, according to CNN.

            Ginsburg felt faint, light-headed, and fatigued shortly after an anemia treatment, CNN said.  She was hospitalized as a precaution, according to a court statement.

            Ginsburg had a successful operation to removal of pancreatic cancer in February, but returned to court 18 days later.  A July 2009 assessment reported that she was in good health, apart from a deficiency of iron, according to Reuters.

            Reuters called Ginsburg a reliable liberal vote since her appointment to the Court in 1993.  After Ginsburg's February surgery, there was speculation that she would not stay in her job for long.  Reuters reported that her resignation would be unlikely to change the balance of the court.

Wells Fargo changes overdraft rules

by Greta Kaul

            Under congressional pressure, Wells Fargo will allow users to opt out of overdraft coverage and cancel fees for overdrafts of under $5, according to the Star Tribune.

            By charging account holders $25 or more per overdraft, banks generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, the Associated Press reported.

            Wells Fargo intends allow account holders to opt out of overdraft coverage: if an account balance were too low to make a purchase, the transaction would be denied at the register.  Wells Fargo will also lower the maximum number of overdraft fees per day from 10 to four, the AP said.

            Under the new system, a member's account must be brought into balance within a specific time period to avoid fees, according to the AP.

            The date for the changes are to take affect has yet to be released, the AP said.

Analysis: Lead in a health care rally story

by Greta Kaul

Could Minnesota be the next Saskatchewan in the single-payer health care movement?

The possibility was raised Wednesday during the two-hour Mad As Hell Doctors rally in the state Capitol rotunda.  (MinnPost 17 Sept. 2009)


    The lead in this story about a Mad As Hell Doctors rally in St. Paul answered the who, what, where, and when of a hard news lead without going into detail.  It identified Mad As Hell Doctors as the rally holders (who), as well as the date and duration (when), and location (where) of the event (what).  Despite not being advisable, the use of a question in the lead for this story was effective.  American health care reform is a contentious issue now.  By suggesting the possibility of United States health care reform based on Canada's, which is  highly stigmatized in the United States, the reader is probably shocked enough to read on and use the information in the story to answer the question for themselves.

    The story lent itself to allowing the reader to answer the question "Could Minnesota be the next Saskatchewan?" for themselves.  It gave information about the legislation Mad As Hell Doctors wanted to pass, and provided quotes that told supporters what they could do to help.  Altogether, the article gave the reader a well-rounded background from which to form their own opinion.

Tiny Tyrannosaur

Tiny Tyrannosaur
by Greta Kaul

    Paleontologists found what they believe to be a miniature ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, they said on Thursday.  The find could change the way scientists believe T. rex evolved.

    Though T. rex was five times longer and almost 100 times heavier than the northeast Chinese find, Raptorex kriegsteini, they share features, according to the Washington Post.

    Paleontologists had believed that T. rex's large head, strong jaws, and short forelimbs were a result of evolving into a giant, the New York Times reported.  Because Raptorex shares these features but is smaller, scientists are forced to re-think the evolution  of  T. rex, whose predatory habits can no longer be associated exclusively with large dinosaurs.

    The dinosaur was illicitly excavated and sold to fossil collector Henry Kriegstein.  Kriegstein shipped the fossil to be studied, and a museum curator wrote that he believed Raptorex "is of a new genus and species," according to the Washington Post.  

    The New York Times wrote that while the discovery of Raptorex has changed analysis of T. rex evolution, it  has provided a missing link between early Tyrannosaurs, who had shorter legs and longer arms, than the familiar Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.    
    
    Paleontologists may now search for smaller versions of other large dinosaurs, like brachiosaurus, that could be added to the fossil record.  "I am willing to bet that in a few more years we're going to end up with more small dinosaurs than big dinosaurs," said a paleontologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton to the Washington Post.
 

Pawlenty emphasizes conservative background

Pawlenty emphasizes conservative background
by Greta Kaul

    Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty emphasized his conservative achievements on Friday at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., prompting speculation at White House aspirations.
    
    According to MinnPost, at the Christian conservative activists' gathering, Pawlenty stressed his faith in God, his support of small government, and his commitment to balancing the budget.  He also spoke his acts as governor, including balancing the state budget.

    Pawlenty  accused President Barack Obama of  "spending the country back to bankruptcy."  The Democratic National Committee responded later in a statement, accusing Pawlenty of becoming an "extreme right wing radical," MinnPost said.

    Pawlenty will give the keynote address at an Ohio Republican Party fundraiser dinner on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

    Pawlenty has not decided whether he will stay in politics after his second term as governor expires in 2010, the AP said.  Pawlenty cautioned reporters against assuming the speeches were  intended to advance presidential goals, but Republican insiders consider him a possible presidential candidate in the next election.

Mad As Hell Doctors push 'single-payer' healthcare

Mad As Hell Doctors push 'single-payer' healthcare
by Greta Kaul

    Six doctors stopped in St. Paul on Wednesday in a cross-country Winnebago trip to advocate single-payer health care reform, said the Star Tribune.

    At a rally in front of the Capitol, the Oregon doctors asked Minnesotans to support the Minnesota Health Plan, a single-payer program that would cover necessary services for Minnesotans throughout their lifetimes.  The program would depend on the passage of an amendment to health care reform legislation that would protect the single-payer option for states, MinnPost reported.

    The doctors' St. Paul rally happened four days after President Barack Obama's visited Minnesota to advocate his health-care package,  MinnPost said.  Obama's reform package does not include a single-payer plan run by the government.
    
    Upon their final stop in Washington, Mad As Hell Doctors have requested a meeting with President Obama to discuss reform, the Star Tribune says.   One of the doctors, a University of Minnesota graduate, accused the Washington health care reform options of being "like prescribing aspirin for a tumor."

    According to MinnPost, Mad As Hell Doctors are pushing the single-payer plan because they believe it would allow doctors to focus more on patients and less on the  claim requirements of health insurance companies.  They hope that Minnesota will become a leader in adopting a single-payer program.

U.S. House votes to rebuke Rep. Joe Wilson

U.S. House votes to rebuke Rep. Joe Wilson

by Greta Kaul

            Wilson, R-S.C., shouted "You lie!" during President Obama's health care address last Wednesday.

            After Wilson refused to formally apologize on the House floor, the House voted to rebuke him for his actions, USA TODAY said.  The resolution passed 240-179, following party lines with few exceptions.

            Wilson delivered an apology to President Obama by phone on Wednesday.  It was accepted by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and later accepted by both the president and vice president, the New York Times reported.

            USA TODAY reported that the resolution called Wilson's conduct "a breach of decorum."

            Conservatives in Wilson's district gave positive him positive feedback, the New York Times said.  Though he said he would not make such a comment again, the New York Times reported that he "seemed emboldened" by the support in an interview on Sunday.

            Wilson's campaign for re-election next year has raised about $1.5 million since Obama's speech, according to USA TODAY.  His opponent, Rob Miller, has raised slightly more than $1.5 million, which makes the election for Wilson's seat among the most expensive in the House.

Afghani presidential election prompts recount investigation

Afghani presidential election prompts recount investigation

by Greta Kaul

            850,000 Afghani presidential election ballots cast in August will be recounted after an election fraud investigation.

            Incumbent, Hamid Karzai, may be forced into a runoff election if the investigation reduces his percentage of valid votes from 54% to 50%, the New York Times said.

            CNN reports that many of the polling stations subject to recount are in Partika province, where Karzai has more support than his opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, who had 28% of the votes.

            If forced into a runoff, Afghanistan may face the winter with what many Afghanis consider an illegitimate government.  This could prompt a crisis if it causes the to Taliban gain ground, according to the New York Times.

            Karzai will respect the final results of the election, according to CNN.

 

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