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April 30, 2008

Plans to double Mall of America

Powerful Minnesota legislators united on Tuesday in backing a large Mall of America expansion behind a major Mall of America based on millions in public tax subsidies, MPR said.

Thousands of construction workers gathered at the State Capitol in a rally to support the expansion and call for employment. Star Tribune

Four major legislators, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller and Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, said they are in support of state clearance for the $2.1 billion project. Star Tribune

"In this particular project we actually, in a net sense, will have more money for the state treasury, more people put to work, more tourism, more jobs, more economic development than any other project that I can think of before the Legislature right now," Senjem said. Star Tribune

Tom Bakk, the chair of the Senate Taxes Committee, is the chief sponsor of the project, and he says that it will create around 7,000 jobs for construction workers. MPR

"That is going to be the number one thing on my mind the final day when we close this session up, to make sure everybody in this room has got a job," he said. MPR

April 29, 2008

Tornados in Virginia

Over 200 people were injured when 3 tornados ripped apart central and southeast Virginia on Monday, officials said. CNN

The tornados devastated the area, tearing down many homes and businesses, Bob Spieldenner, member of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, said. New York Times

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service said the first tornado hit Sentara Obici Hospital Suffolk, the second hit Colonial Heights, about 60 miles northwest, and the third twister hit Lawrenceville, a town 70 miles south of Richmond. CNN

Terry Tysinger, spokeswoman for Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, said most injuries were not life threatening. New York Times

April 15, 2008

Standoff in south Minneapolis ends

The standoff between police and a burglary suspect in a south Minneapolis residence area ended peacefully on Tuesday. Kare 11

The suspect was taken into custody Tuesday morning, police said. Star Tribune

The man had been inside a townhouse on E. 25th Street since about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, and had taken two women and two children hostage. The four people were later released unharmed, but the man stayed inside until the SWAT Team talked him into surrendering about four hours later, police said. Kare 11

The standoff began at around 5 a.m. when the suspect allegedly fired shots in an attempted burglary blocks away, police said. Kare 11

An hour later a woman called the police and whispered that she needed help, police said. Star Tribune

It was likely that the suspect knew the hostages and the entry to the house was "not random," police said. Star Tribune

Cougar shot dead in Chicago

A 150 pound cougar was shot dead by police who feared attack on the streets of Chicago after he had been roaming the city for several days, officials said. Chicago Tribune

The cougar was shot in Roscoe Village neighborhood, though no one knew where it had come from. WBZTV

There had been several sightings of the cougar throughout the city, police said.Chicago Tribune

Frank Hirschmann saw the cougar, and was frightened, he said. "I seen a mountain lion jump a six-foot fence like it was nothing right by my house," he said.

Upon receiving the first call of the sighting on Monday morning, Animal Control used guns with tranquilizers in them, but had switched to bullets by the time it was found. Chicago Tribune

"It's a shame to lose such a beautiful animal, but it had to be done," said witness Ed McCarthy. WBZTV

75 dead in plane crash in Africa

A passenger plane crashed into a busy marketplace near the runway during takeoff from the Goma airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least 75 people, officials said. CNN

Five crew members and 10 passengers survived the crash, Antoine Ghonda, a Congolese lawmaker and former foreign minister, said. It was not determined if the death toll included people on the ground. International Herald Tribune

"We have already picked up many bodies - dozens of bodies," Julien Mpaluku, governor of the province of the eastern Congo town of Goma, said. "There are a lot of flames, which makes it difficult to know if the bodies we are picking up are those of passengers of the plane or else passers-by or people that lived in the area where the plane crashed." International Herald Tribune

A family of four Americans, who sustained minimal injuries, were onboard, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said. CNN

The aftermath was described as "a scene of total devastation and chaos" by one journalist on scene.

One dead in St. Croix river accident

A Stillwater man died after his car plunged into the St. Croix River on Monday, authorities said. Associated Press

Mohanraj Pothiraj, 28, drove his SUV into the River, which was covered with a thin layer of ice. It was not clear why, authorities said. MPR

Pothiraj was accompanied by Rohini Krishnamurthy, 27, Kalai Selvi Vijaya Kumar, 25, who both were in critical condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and Deepa Veluswamy, 25, who was in serious condition. Associated Press

Five to 10 minutes passed before rescuers responding to a frantic 911 call broke the car window and pulled the victims out. MPR

British journalist freed

Iraqi security forces freed a kidnapped British journalist on Monday after two months of captivity in a Shiite militia stronghold in Basra, a defense official said. Associated Press

The story of Richard Butler's was shown on state television soon after his release surrounded by Iraqi military officials who welcomed his release.Yahoo News

Butler, who was abducted along with his Iraqi translator on February 10 while on assignment, was thankful for the soldiers who had rescued him. Associated Press

"Thank you and I'm looking forward to seeing my family and my friends at CBS and thank you again," Butler said, who was thin but in good condition. Yahoo News

The army patrol that found Butler was not looking for him, a military defense spokesman said. They were conducting a sweep of the area and responded after coming under fire from the house where he was being held.
Associated Press

Butler said the Iraqi troops were "brilliant." Associated Press

April 10, 2008

35 arrested in Olympics bomb plot

Terrorists from Islam were planning to attack Beijing, Shanghai, and other locations in China with explosives and other devices for the Summer Olympics, China announced on Thursday. CNN

35 suspects were arrested during a 10-day series of raids, a statement from the Ministry of Public Security said.

China also said that authorities discovered about 21 pounds (9.5 kg) of explosives, eight detonators, two explosive devices, and some propaganda materials for "holy war" from the raids in Urumqi, the capital for the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The Autonomous Region is home to about 19 million people, mostly made up of Muslims and other minorities.

"We know that their goal was very clear -- that is, specifically to sabotage the staging of the Beijing Olympics," Communist Party Secretary Wang Lequan said.

Chinese officials have not produced evidence for the allegations against the subjects. Yahoo News

This event is the latest in a series of the latest in a series of terrorism charges against ethnic minorities in the run-up to the Summer Games, Yahoo News said.

$65 million given to University of Minnesota for cancer research

The Minnesota Masonic Charities donated $65 million on Thursday to the University of Minnesota for cancer research, its largest donation ever, MPR said.

The donation will be given over a period of 15 years.

Masonic support of cancer research and care at the University of Minnesota over the past 53 years now totals $100 million. In recognition of this record-breaking gift, the University of Minnesota Cancer Center will now be called the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. Earth Times

The state has nearly 17,000 Mason, of which Dr. Ray Christensen is Grand Master. At the signing agreement for the donation, Christensen said the Masons have supported several other charities over the years from the Shriner's Hospital for Children to housing and health care for seniors.MPR

"As a fraternity, I wanted to look at something personally that affected both genders, all ages, all walks of life and certainly cancer is one of those things," Christensen said.

Analysis on diversity

Find a news story about a culturally or racially diverse group or about an issue involving cultural, ethnic or racial diversity. Does the report move beyond stereotype into something more substantive? How? Does the story tell you something you didn't know? What? And how does the story do that - through quotes, data, and observation?

I found a news story entitled "Obama inspires black Minnesotans," at MPR . The report talks about the implications having a potential black president are, and what black Minnesotans have to say on the matter. I think that the story does move beyond stereotypes, because it gathers opinions from many people , all who have something new to say about Obama and black people in Minnesota. It digs deeper than the obvious, for example it includes a quote about how Obama makes a great role model for black children, "representing a path to success through education and working within in the system, instead of fighting against it." I learned that some people do not consider Barack Obama to be a black man, because of where he is from. The story informs readers of new information through using a wide range of people surveyed and interviewed. Thorough reporting was done on gathering information about the attitudes of black Minnesotans and the 2008 presidential race.

St. Cloud bridge to be repaired

Construction will begin on a replacement of the De Soto bridge, a segment of Highway 23 that runs through St. Cloud, transportation officials said on Thursday. MPR

The bridge was closed abruptly last month when bent gusset plates were discovered by examiners, the St. Cloud Times said. Flawed gusset plates were the reason for last year's I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

A replacement bridge will cost about $35 million, compared to $325,000 for repairs that could have been done in about seven week, state bridge engineer Dan Dorgan said. Ultimately the decision was made to replace the bridge so it could coincide with other construction already planned for Highway 23, so there will be less disruption for commuters. St. Cloud Times

Construction will start in September, and completion is expected to be in November 2009. MPR

American Airlines Flights Cancelled

American Airlines cancelled more than 1,000 flights, almost half its schedule, on Wednesday to inspect jets, an issue that also flared up two weeks ago. Associated Press>a/>

The inspection was conducted in order to fix faulty wiring that could short-circuit or even explode. Federal inspectors found problems with wiring work done two weeks ago, although the airline says passenger safety was never jeopardized. Associated Press

The airplanes could hold 100 passengers, meaning that about 100,000 travelers may have been without a flight. a/>

A spokesman for American Airlines said the planes may be out of commission for the rest of the week as inspections continue.

Passengers are concerned with safety, and disgruntled about the short notice of flight cancellations. a/>

"They should be able to predict these kinds of things," said Laura Goodman, whose flight home to Dallas was canceled.

April 8, 2008

Navy SEAl hero saves friends

The Medal of Honor will be awarded to Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor posthumous on Tuesday. CNN

A grenade bounced off his chest and landed in the area where he and fellow troops were stationed in Iraq on September 29, 2006. This promoted Monsoor to jump on the grenade and take its full impact. Navy.com

The Navy said he committed a selfless act based on instinct to save his comrades, the Navy said.

Monsoor was a highly trained combatant, a Navy SEAL. He will be the first Navy SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor.

He also received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star during his time in combat in Iraq.

"His leadership, guidance and decisive actions during 11 different combat operations saved the lives of his teammates, other coalition forces and Iraqi army soldiers," according to Navy documents. CNN

April 1, 2008

Congress lays into Big Oil

Lawmakers drilled major oil executives on Tuesday about their tax breaks, given the current high rate in gas and oil charges. ABC News

Five top executives from the major U.S. oil companies appeared before Congress and were criticized for their failure to eliminate about $18 billion in tax breaks over a ten year period, which occurred during a time of record profits fro the oil industry. ABC News

Representatives from Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips were also grilled for not investing in renewable resources amid record prices for oil and gasoline..CNN

"Americans are hoping that the top executives from the five largest oil companies will tell us that these soaring gas prices are just part of some elaborate hoax," said Ed Markey, D-Mass, chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. "Unfortunately, it's not a joke." CNN

Woman wills $1.8 million for loons

A Minneapolis woman left $1.8 million of her estate for the protection of loons, said MPR

Iva Weir, a school teacher, died in 2006 at the age of 85. Her money will now go to the Nature Conservatory in Minnesota for the protection of the Minnesota state bird. WCCO

It is one of the largest donations made to the conservatory for a single species.MPR

Weir was born in Moorehead, Minn. and grew up in Bemidji, Minn. before moving to Oregon in her 20s. WCCO

Chris Weir Koetter of Bemidji is Iva Weir's niece, and she said her aunt loved nature and the loon.

"She was truly a Minnesota girl at heart, and the loon was Minnesota," Koetter said. "She came back several times, and I'd take her out, and she always thrilled at seeing them. She made embroidery of loons, and had them on her mailbox, and I sent her tapes of their calls when those became available, and she just liked them."

Environmental laws waived for new border fence

Environmental laws will be waived by the Bush administration in order to finish building a 670 mile fence along the southwest U.S. border by the end of this year, federal officials said. LA Times

More than 30 laws and regulations will be bypassed by the Department of Homeland Security in order to complete the border fence that stretches across California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, federal officials said. LA Times

"Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement. "These waivers will enable important security projects to keep moving forward." The Associated Press

The waivers are controversial with environmentalists and communities along the border, who see the fence as damaging to the land and the wildlife, The Associated Press said.

"Unwilling to consult with local communities or to follow long-standing laws, Secretary Chertoff chose to bypass stakeholders and push through this unpopular project on April Fool's Day," Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope said in a statement. "We don't think the destruction of the borderlands region is a laughing matter." LA Times

Conservatives are for the waivers because of the 2006 Secure Fence Act. Republicans also welcomed the news. The Associated Press

Analysis on number use

Find a news story that uses numbers in at least three ways. How has the reporter used numbers to tell the story? Are the numbers overwhelming? If so, how could the reporter have made it easier to grasp? Did the reporter use math to crunch numbers and tell the story more effectively? What are the sources of those numbers? Are they listed completely?

I found a news story from April 1, 2008, that uses numbers in three ways at The Journal News, a news company in New York. The article is about Major League Baseball salaries. The reporter uses the percentages of baseball salaries to illuminate how much players are making currently, how much these salaries compare to last year, and how the salaries compare between teams and players. The numbers are a little overwhelming when the author uses percentages to compare the players' salaries. Three different percentage numbers are brought up in the same sentence. This could be cleared up by statements such as, "Overall, the average player’s salary rose 22 percent in Major League Baseball in the past four years," or "The overall salary of the New York Mets has risen 5 percent faster than the overall salary of the New York Yankees." Math was used to crunch the numbers, because percentage and percentage points are given rather than straight numerals or a list of salaries, which does help to tell the story more effectively. The sources are USA Today and the Major League Baseball Players Association. They are listed completely.

Gore launches launches global warming campaign

Former Vice President Al Gore, launched a $300 million, three-year campaign for climate change today. Reuters

The Alliance for Climate Protection, which chairs Gore, announced its campaign, called "We," will educate the public about global warming and beg solutions from officials. It will air television advertisements combined with online strategies and partnerships with grassroots groups. CNN

Gore has been a long-time advocate of global warming, and will put worth his own money into the campaign, he said. CNN

"We can solve the climate crisis, but it will require a major shift in public opinion and engagement," Gore said. Reuters

Snowy opener for the Twins

The Minnesota Twins sold out their MLB season opener on a snowy Monday, the StarTribune said.

Thousands of Twins fans waited outside the Metrodome for an hour in the snow, WCCO said.

Weather reports showed that Minneapolis received over five inches of snow. Fans were in good spirits, however. "My ears are cold, but I'm OK," Peter Winter, 9, said. "It's the Opening Day." StarTribune

The first pitch of the season was thrown by Livan Hernandez to visitors Los Angeles Angels. StarTribune

The new outdoor stadium will host the Twins season opener in 2010. WCCO