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September 29, 2008

House Rejects Bailout Plan

The House of Representatives rejected the government’s proposed $700 billion bailout Monday, resulting in the biggest closing point drop of the Dow Jones industrial average in history, according to an NPR report.

About one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans voted against the bill with the final vote of 205-228 against the proposal.

Many lawmakers found it hard to come to the rescue “of an out-of-control market that had played fast and loose with housing loans,? reported FOX News. Others cited reasons for opposition such as the expansion of national debt or voters’ lack of support, FOX News said.

The lack of voter support stems from the perception that the bill serves to bail out Wall Street bankers who are seen as “incompetent fat cats who have created this crisis themselves and who are now being allowed to pick the pockets of American voters to fix it,? one BBC article said.

"Like the Iraq war and Patriot Act, this bill is fueled by fear and haste," Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas said in a CNN report.

The House of Representatives continues to work together to come up with a plan, ABC News reported.

“I’m confident in that in the long run, America will overcome these challenges and remain the most dynamic and productive economy in the world,? President Bush said in a speech covered by FOX News.

September 28, 2008

Structure Analysis

In the MSNBC Associated Press report about a Ukrainian ship being seized by pirates from Somalia, the information progresses in an interesting way.

It begins with the most recent information- a pirate spokesperson telling The Associated Press that the pirates were demanding a $20 million ransom while describing the surrounding planes and ships.

Then the story goes back three days to Thursday to tell of when and where the pirates took over the ship. At this point a little more information is also given about what kind of weapons the cargo ship holds.

The next section of the story gives more details about the conversation the AP had with the pirated ship, specifically the fact that the group was prepared to fight to their death.

From there, the story takes a step further back and gives some statistics on pirating along with some information on the economy of Somalia.

Lastly, the reporter discussed the “formidable military power? of the nearby ships, including the USS Howard.
The reporter summarized the important elements of the story well, making things that could be complicated seem easy to understand.

The one thing that I might change about the structure of the story would be the placement of the fact that one of the crew members died of hypertension. The reporter first mentioned the death in the second paragraph of the story, but the reason for the death until the 10th paragraph. The placement of this information may be misleading to readers. People who do not read the entire story may rightly assume that the man died at the hand of murderous pirates instead of as a result of a medical condition.

$20 Million Ransom Demanded from Somali Pirates

A Somali pirate informed The Associated Press Sunday that a $20 million ransom was demanded by his group for the release of a cargo ship packed with Russian tanks and weapons, according to FOX News.

The pirate warned the AP “that they would fight to the death if any country tried military action to regain the ship,? an ABC News article said.

One crew member died Sunday due to hypertension said a man who identified himself as the ship’s captain, Victor Nikolsky, said an MSNBC report.

The pirates took over Faina, the Ukrainian-run ship, off the coast of Somalia Thursday. The ship was not far from its Kenyan destination, Lt. Col. Konstantin Sadilov, Ukrainian defense spokesman said in a CNN report.

Pirate attacks have increased worldwide this year, with 24 reported in Somalia alone, the International Maritime Bureau’s records reveal, according to the MSNBC article.

St. Paul Bicyclist Hit by SUV Dies

A St. Paul woman died Saturday afternoon after being hit by a sports-utility vehicle while riding her bicycle earlier in the morning.

The accident happened near Summit and Snellling avenues, a popular area with bicyclists, according to a Star Tribune article.

Although Virginia Marie Heuer-Bowar, 51, was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, she suffered from severe head injuries, police said according to ABC’s report.

A 39-year-old man was headed east on a service road that merges onto Summit Avenue. He told police he stopped at the stop sign where the two roads combine, a Pioneer Press article said.

“He stopped and accelerated, and all of a sudden, she was in front of him,? Pete Panos, a St. Paul police spokesman said in the Star Tribune account.

Police have not determined who was at fault in the accident.

September 27, 2008

Concerns Raised Over Proposed Bailout

Lawmakers from both parties expressed skepticism Tuesday concerning the Bush administration’s $700 billion proposal to bail out the financial industry.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Beranke urged Congress to pass the legislation this week to avoid “a scenario in which neither businesses not consumers could borrow money,? according to a FOX News report.

One main concern of this proposal is that taxpayer dollars could contribute to the multimillion-dollar CEO salaries of companies that would have otherwise been bankrupt, reported a CNN story.

Leaders from both parties voiced concern over spending $700 billion of taxpayers’ money to risk helping out Wall Street, reported CNN.

Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, told The Associated Press in a New York Times article that it infuriated him that taxpayers should have to pay for “the authors of this calamity? to walk away “with the usual golden parachutes.?

Dodd described the Wall Street disaster as “entirely foreseeable and preventable.? Emphasizing that the proposal would give Mr. Paulson authority “to act with ‘absolute impunity,’? Dodd said to the New York Times, “I can only conclude that it is not only our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution, as well.?

“It’s financial socialism, and it’s un-American,? Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, said to the New York Times. He said the proposal would “take Wall Street’s pain and spread it to the taxpayers.?

U of M Researchers Identify Gene Linked to Labrador Collapse

University of Minnesota researchers say they have identified the gene that commonly causes Labrador retrievers to collapse during exercise.

About 3 percent to 5 percent of Labradors are affected by this condition, known as Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), according to the Star Tribune.

The most common symptom of the disorder is that the dog’s hind legs are temporarily unable to move. Some dogs have died in rare cases, reported WCCO.

“This is groundbreaking because this is the first naturally occurring mutation of this gene identified in any mammal,? James Mickelson, Ph.D., professor of veterinary sciences at the University said in a news release.

The researchers created a genetic test to find whether dogs carry the mutated or normal form of the gene. Breeders will be able to use this test to decrease the number of dogs carrying the gene.

Right now the University of Minnesota has the only lab performing this test in the world, the WCCO report said.

September 22, 2008

Questions Raised on Information Delay in China Milk Contamination

China’s chief of food quality resigned Monday after nearly 54,000 children have been affected by tainted milk.

Milk powder from 22 dairies was found to be contaminated with the chemical melamine, according to a CNN report.

The chemical, used to produce plastics and fertilizer, was added to watered-down milk in order to “fool quality checks,? said the China Daily.

Investigations have revealed that the at least one of China’s milk producers had received complaints about ill effects in its infant formula as early as December 2007, according to FOX News.

One New York Times article questions why it took months for complaints to surface. Did the government and dairy officials plan to conceal the problem until after the Olympics?

China’s largest infant formula producer, Sanlu, chose to hide problems from consumers “at least throughout the month of August,? officials said to ABC News.

The New York Times wondered “how milk contamination could have been so widespread, affecting the country’s top brands — Mengniu, Yili and Sanlu — given the government’s pledges and its food safety campaign.?

“We’re discussing this with the government,? Hans Troedsson, the head representative of the World Health Organization for China said to the New York Times. “They are investigating how these delays have occurred.?

September 21, 2008

Attribution Analysis

In a 645-word-story for ABC News, “Hot for Teaching: More Consider Ed Jobs,? seven different sources were used. The story focused on a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation study released Wednesday.

Four of the 11 paragraphs in the story referenced the study. The article also reported information from sources such as the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the US Department of Education, and a study done by the National Council on Teacher Quality. These organizations were very good references because they are credible sources that contributed to the story.

The article also used three individuals to add life and credibility to the story. There were quotes from Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Arthur Levine, president of the Wilson Foundation, and Sandi Jacobs, the vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. Referring to statements made by these credible sources added greatly to the story.

The sources were scattered throughout the story, never using more than one source per paragraph. The use of direct quotes helped the article to make smooth transitions while adding important insights and information.

The attribution always came after the statement it was referencing. The author used words such as “reports,? “according to,? “says? and “estimates,? to attribute the information to its source. The information was attributed clearly and effectively to make a very interesting and readable article.

Atheists more likely to be superstitious, study reveals

A survey released this month by Baylor University reveals that those who identify themselves as Christians are much less likely to hold paranormal beliefs, such as the existence of ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, and Atlantis.

The survey, which polled 1,648 people, was considered “one of the most detailed ever conducted about religion in the United States,? according to an article in the Washington Post.

The finding that people who expressed no belief in God leaned politically to the left was not new. However, the survey also found those people more prone to believe in communication with the dead, haunted houses, and UFOs, the Washington Times said.

This finding contrasts idea that those who do not believe in a higher power are more rational and educated than those who embrace fundamental Christian beliefs.

In fact, those with a higher education are more likely to hold paranormal beliefs, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing a Skeptical Inquirer survey.

Could G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown character have been on to something when he said, “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense, and can’t see things as they are??

Boyfriend suspected of murder after motorcycle crash

Police now suspect the death of an Andover woman Friday to be the result of murder disguised as a motorcycle accident.

The body of 28-year –old Natasha Waalen was found early Friday morning in the middle of the road not far from her crashed motorcycle, according to one Star Tribune article.

Waalen’s injuries were “not consistent with a motor vehicle accident,? investigators told the Pioneer Press Saturday.

Police arrested Waalen’s longtime boyfriend, the father of her 4-year-old daughter, Saturday on probable cause of first degree murder, the Star Tribune reported.

Cindy Erickson, Waalen’s mother said “she believes her daughter’s death is the final result of a long-term abusive relationship,? according to kare11's report.

In contrast, the Star Tribune focused on the perspective of Jeff Waalen, the victim’s dad. He told the newspaper he suspected a different man, and “that if investigators were after Natasha Waalen’s boyfriend, ‘they’re barking up the wrong tree.’?

September 17, 2008

Community Speaks Out Against Teen Clinic

Plans to open an on-campus teen clinic offering contraception and STD testing for Hopkins High School were called off last week after the school board heard concerns expressed in the community.

The district staff proposed to open the teen clinic after a survey last year revealed that “at least half of Hopkins High seniors reported being sexually active,? reported the Fort Mill Times.

Parents voiced concern that the teen clinic would undermine parents’ rights to teach kids their own values, according one Star Tribune article.

Others said they were worried the center would encourage an increase in sexual activity among the students.

19-year-old Jamie Bell spoke to the board about her experience with the Excelsior West Suburban Teen Clinic, located ten minutes from Hopkins High. Bell shared how her access to the clinic allowed her to lie to her parents about sex and skip class, according to the Star Tribune report.

“My parents tried to protect me, and the clinic took that right away,? Bell told the board.

8 Dead After Attack at Celebration for Mexican Independence

Two explosions killed eight people and injured more than 100 during an Independence Day celebration in Mexico late Monday night.

Many families in the crowd first attributed the blasts to a show of fireworks as the two grenades exploded during the shout for independence, according to an ABC News article. However, it soon became apparent this was not the case.

Authorities do not know for sure who hurled the grenades into the crowd, but suspect drug gangs in the area, according to the New York Times.

The attack occurred in Michoacan, the home state of President Felipe Calderon. According to MSNBC, drug gangs have responded violently to Calderon’s increased attention on the cartels.

The president has installed more than 25,000 soldiers to fight against the gangs since he took office in 2006.

“The problem is that this is part of a real wave of violence that is consuming Mexico,? said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue to CNN.

September 16, 2008

Disaster on Wall Street

The stock market faced the “worst daily loss in seven years? Monday as the Dow dropped more than 500 points, according to a New York Times report.

CNN called it “one of the most harrowing days in the history of U.S. financial industry.?

Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The world’s largest insurance company, American International Group Inc., fights to face the same fate.

According to one MSNBC report, the turmoil stems from “now toxic subprime mortgage debt.?

Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., agreed with the analysis in a briefing Monday. “The housing correction is at the root of the challenges facing our markets and our financial institutions,? he said to the New York Times.

Although the implications are worldwide, Stephen Lewis, chief economist at Monument Securities in London told the New York Times, “It’s not a panic by any means… but we’re looking at a long, long convalescence.?

September 15, 2008

Lead Analysis

“Chicago authorities asked Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to issue a disaster declaration after rainfall Saturday in the Windy City broke a single-day record that had stood for more than two decades.? (CNN)

This excerpt from a CNN report is an example of a straightforward, hard-news lead. In one sentence, this lead is able to cover all of the important points of the story in a clear and concise way.

The lead does not give information that is too detailed. For example, it does not list the names of the Chicago authorities or the specific amount of rainfall. Those facts can be revealed later in the story.

Instead, this lead made known only the general facts that give the reader just enough information to know what the rest of the article is about. The lead is able to accomplish this by covering the what, where, when, and who of the story in one sentence. The “who? is identified by addressing the “Chicago authorities? and “Gov. Rod Blagajevich.? The “what? is covered by telling the reader that authorities asked the governor “to issue a disaster declaration.? It also goes a little further, identifying why the declaration was made- a record breaking rainfall. The “where? is covered with “Chicago? and “Windy City?, along with the “when? of the story, “Saturday.?

This lead does a good job of finding the most important feature of the story, and then summarizing it.

Finally, what makes this sentence a good lead is that it is timely, in that the rainfall occurred only yesterday.

Angry Wife Sells DJ’s Lotus on EBay

The wife of a Birmingham DJ took revenge on her husband by selling his sports car on eBay for less than $2 after listening to him flirt on air.

The British DJ, Tim Shaw, told model Jodie Marsh he would be willing to leave his wife and two kids for her on his Thursday night radio program, according to The Independent of London.

Shaw’s wife, listening to the program, immediately put the DJ’s Lotus Esprit Turbo on eBay with the message, “I need to get rid of this car immediately… before my husband gets home to find it gone and all his belongings in the street.?

The car, estimated to be worth $45,000, sold within five minutes, according to FOX News.

“I am sick of him disrespecting his family for the sake of his act… I just thought I would get him back the best way I could,? Shaw’s wife said to the Birmingham Post.

“There have been a few things but this was the last straw,? the woman concluded.

September 14, 2008

I-35 Bridge Opens with New Safety Features

As early as Tuesday, September 16, the new Interstate 35W bridge could open to traffic, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The bridge is made with safety features “no one has ever built before? including 300 sensors placed in the concrete which will monitor the bridge structure, according to WCCO.

The completed structure is to be “high quality, safe and last for at least 100 years,? the MnDOT said in a news release.

As the bridge opens to traffic, MnDOT will be monitoring the strength of the concrete, the movement of expansion joints and bearings, and other important signs through the installed sensors, reported the Pioneer Press.

Engineers will now have all the information on the bridge needed to identify warning signs in real time instead of photographs every two years.

“It’s safe to say this is one of the more- or most- instrumented bridges in the nation,? said the MnDot project manager, Jon Chiglo in a Pioneer Press report.

Cyclists Will Now be Fined for Biking over University Bridge

Starting Monday, $80 tickets will be given to students who ride their bicycles over the partially closed Washington Avenue Bridge.

The county closed the larger portion of the pedestrian bridge connecting the East and West Bank campuses earlier this year after engineers determined that reinforcement was needed in order for the outer portions of the bridge to be safe.

The 14-foot-wide space left open for pedestrians “is not wide enough for people to ride their bikes safely?, according to Greg Hestness in a WCCO report.

One student’s bicycle crash on the bridge earlier this week resulted in injuries and a trip to the hospital, reported the campus paper, the Minnesota Daily.

Some students, such as Chris Pulley, agree that bicyclists need to walk their bikes. “Because of the confined spaces, it’s up to the bikers to show their respect to other pedestrians,? he said in a Minnesota Daily article.

Other students, however, find it “inconvenient? to walk their bikes. Andrew Curtis reported to WCCO, “I saw ‘Violators will be fined’ and I’m a broke college kid and I don’t have money for that.?

The pedestrian bridge is expected to be restricted through the remaining school year.

Bombs in New Delhi Kill 18

Five bombs killed at least 18 people in a park and crowded shopping areas of New Delhi Saturday.

CNN says to have received a warning e-mail from the Indian Mujahideen, an Islamic group, about five minutes before the bombings began.

“In the name of Allah, Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more…Stop us if you can,? CNN reported of the e-mail.

The bombs, carefully placed in some of the busiest shopping areas, have injured at least 61 people, said Mayor Arti Mehra. The New York Times estimated that thousands of terrified people fled the area.

According to the Economic Times, the e-mail went on to justify the attack saying, “This accurately planned deadly strike is just another reaction to all those… harassments imposed by your…police on the innocent Muslims.?

“There is no justification for the vicious murder of innocent people. The U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with India in the fight against terror,? U.S. Ambassador David Mulford said of the attack according to USAToday.

At least two other similar bombing attacks have been initiated by the group, according to the BBC.

Investigation on Los Angeles Train Crash Begins

After the death of at least 24 people in a train collision Friday in suburban Los Angeles, authorities are beginning to look into the cause of the accident.

The crash was most likely caused by the failure of the commuter engineer to stop at a red signal, said a Denisa Tyrrell, a Metrolink representative in an ABC News report.

The engineer, who had worked for a subcontractor that Metrolink has used for the past 10 years, died in the crash, according to a report in the New York Times.

Although a representative for Union Pacific said that “it is common in California for freight and commuter trains to use one track?, Steven Klum, a Federal Railroad Administration spokesman said that they were “nowhere near having information? on how the two trains collided on the same track.

“When two trains are in the same place at the same time somebody’s made a terrible mistake,? said Tyrrell in a FOX News report.

With 135 people injured and more bodies remaining in the debris, FOX News has reported the accident to be “the deadliest U.S. passenger railroad crash in 15 years?.

The carnage was the worst that the Los Angeles firefighters had ever seen, said Fire Capt. Steve Ruda in a USAToday report.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board will begin investigating the accident, according to a CNN report.