April 2011 Archives

Analysis: Computer-assisted reporting

In the Federal Food Stamp article from nicar.org, you find that the article did not require a lot of computer assisted researching.
The reporter essentially just detailed the food-deserts in Chicago and the exploitation of food stamp retailers and food stamp users.
While the reporter did link their summary to WBEZ91.5, the Chicago radio station that covered the story, and interviewed food stamp users and retailers, as well as food desert specialists, that appears to be it.
The small summary does detail, briefly, the exploitations of the retailers and users of food stamps, but does not do any analysis or in depth look at the records of previous food stamp users, those who live in food deserts, or what you must do to be a certified retailer for food stamps.
The small article does very little, though the link to the Chicago radio station site provides a more detailed look at the story.

Thousands rally in Syria to defy the President

Over 10,000 mourners took over the Syrian city of Homs on Monday to protest the death of the 14 protesters by the Syrian government killed the day before.
The mourners initially offered traditional prayers and chants for the deceased, but the prayers turned into chants for freedom and anti-government regimes, according to the New York Times.
Although the number cannot be confirmed, Al Jazeera reported 25 dead in the city, with 30 dead around the country, according to the LA Times.
A citizen of Homs thought more than 20 had died in Homs from the protests, and another 30 more from surrounding villages, according to the LA Times.
Although the police has fired into the crowd and dispersed tear-gas, protests have not stopped, according to the New York Times.
Though many of the protesters are injured from the police shootings, they are afraid to go to local hospitals for fear of being arrested, an eye-witness noted in the New York Times.
As a result, many injured protesters have died in their homes, or are secretly seeking treatment away from the police at the hospitals so they can continue protesting, according to the New York Times.

Bill to require Minnesota photo ID to vote gains speed

The chief House sponsor of the bill that would require a Minnesota photo ID to vote gains speed in the legislature, intending to bypass Gov. Dayton should he veto it.
The bill passed the House of Transportation Committee on Monday having already been passed through numerous representative and senate committees, according to the Star Tribune.
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer expects the bill to be put to a floor vote as soon as next week, according to the Pioneer Press.
Though Gov. Dayton and Democrats have expressed concern that requiring the Minn. photo ID would make voting much harder for some, Republicans believe the change is needed for streamline voting and voter confidence in election results, according to the Star Tribune.
If Gov. Dayton should veto the bill, Kiffmeyer said that she would push for a statewide vote on the issue for the 2012 ballot.

Minnesota Book Award winners announced

The names of the 2011 Minnesota Book Award winners were announced on Saturday night in St. Paul.
The sold out audience of over 700 book lovers attended and cheered on the winners of the 23rd annual Minnesota Book Awards at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, according to the Pioneer Press.
Any book published in 2010 by a Minnesotan was eligible for entry in the awards, according to the Star Tribune.
Winners were chosen in eight categories from 32 finalists of the 293 books that were nominated, according to the Star Tribune.
Winners of the Minnesota Book Award included authors of all genres, which included stories about the Minnesota Native American tribes, a picture book of zoo animals, to a man who chooses between his first love and priesthood, according to the Star Tribune.

Libyan civilian casualities rise

An a medical tent in Misurata, Libya, doctors are working around the clock to help and save civilians.
While the numbers of civilian casualties are unclear from the war, the makeshift hospital see 50 to 60 injured pass through per day, according to the New York Times.
Many of the dead and injured are innocent civilians, killed or hurt in their homes, attempting to stay away from the guns and the fighting, according to the New York Times.
With many attempting to flee Misurata every day, the city becomes a high target for takeover by Qaddafi loyalists, according to the LA Times.
Though foreign volunteers make up some of the hospital's staff, many of the doctors are from Misurata, meaning that many of the injured and dead they see are family, according to the LA Times.
With the four-year-old girl with shrapnel in her head, the doctor who couldn't save her became her mourning uncle, according to the LA Times.

S&P lowers credit outlook for US, stocks falling

Stocks fell significantly Monday as the Standard & Poor lowered the U.S.'s credit rating to negative.
The lowering of the U.S.'s credit outlook by S.&P. came from the risk of lawmaker's inability to resolve fiscal difficulties, according to the New York Times.
The report released Monday compares the U.S. to other highly rated nations and that the U.S. does not have a clear direction on addressing and resolving our large debt, according to the New York Times.
As the U.S. is currently approaching the nationally set debt ceiling of 14.3 trillion dollars, lawmakers have only indicated that they are coming to an agreement on balancing the budget, according to the LA Times.
An S.&P. analyst said in a statement that though it has been more than two years since the beginning of the current financial crisis, policymakers have yet to address or resolve the issues, according to the LA Times.
Republicans and Democrats have very conflicting views on how to balance Washington's budget, and neither are willing to compromise as of now, though the decision has been negatively affecting the U.S. people for years, according to the LA Times.

Carcinogens injected into wells

Millions of gallons of poisonous chemicals and known carcinogens have been injected into our wells and water system by leading oil companies into the water systems of 13 different states.
In a report by three house democrats reported Saturday that between 2005 and 2009, the report found 29 known toxins and carcinogens, according to the New York Times.
Many of the toxins found are supposed to be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act, according to the LA Times.
They entered the system through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which is an unpopular technique to help pull natural gas out the ground, according to the New York Times.
The process of hydrofracking is extremely unregulated, and the report accused the companies of "injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify", according to the New York Times.
An energy attorney criticized the report, saying the numbers were not likely accurate, according to the New York Times.

Suicide bomber in Afghanistan kills Police Chief

A suicide bomber of the Taliban killed the Kandahar police chief and two police officers with an explosive vest on Thursday.
Taliban has claimed responsibility for the murder/suicides, according to the LA Times.
Kandahar's Police Chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid was very popular with the Kandahari people, and had survived two previous assassination attempts by the Taliban, according to the LA Times.
Mujahid knew everyone in Kandahar and was previously very successful with preventing acts of terrorism, which made him an target of the Taliban, according to the New York Times.
Mujarhid's assassination was the third killing of Kundahar's police chief by Taliban forces since 2005 and Afghanistan's President has promised the Taliban retribution, according to the New York Times.

Kidnapped Italian Activist Found Dead

The kidnapped Italian activist was found dead Thursday, merely hours after he had been abducted in the Gaza Strip.
Vittorio Arrigoni was a pro-Palestinian activist and radical against the Hamas regime, according to the New York Times.
Tawhid and Jihad claimed responsibility for the abduction in response for having the Hamas regime release their leader, but Arrigoni was killed more than 24 hours before the deadline would pass, according to the LA Times.
The kidnapping in the Gaza Strip was the first time a foreigner in more than four years and the first to happen under the Hamas regime, although most kidnappings do not end in violence, according to the New York Times.
Although Arrigoni had been an activist since his college days in Milan, he had been planning to leave Gaza the day after he was kidnapped, he said in an e-mail to a friend in Italy, according to the New York Times.

World's Oldest Man dies at 114

Walter Breuning, a Minnesota native and the world's oldest man, died Thursday. He was 114.
Breuning died of natural causes in Great Falls Hospital, according to Stacia Kirby, Rainbow retirement home spokesperson.
Breuning was the world's oldest man, and the second oldest person, second only to a woman in Los Angeles by 26 days, according to the Star Tribune.
Breuning worked as a railroad clerk for 50 years, and then as a manager of Shriners until he was 99, according to the Pioneer Press.
Breuning recalled his grandfather's early stories of killing southerners in the Civil War and having no electricity or running water, according to the Star Tribune.
Breuning's wife died in 1957 with no children. Breuning never remarried.

Cosetta gets $2 million to expand

St. Paul's iconic Italian restaurant, Cosetta, received approval for $2 million in loans to triple the size of the restaurant, with an unusual exemption from the 'living-wage' tax.
The popular restaurant will triple the seating of the restaurant, as well as adding a bakery, a wine cellar, and enlarging the market size, according to the Star Tribune.
The city also voted to exempt Cosetta from the 'living-wage' tax which is a tax that requires companies to pay living wage benefits and wages for all workers while it is expanding, but St. Paul voted against this, according to the Pioneer Press.
Cosetta pays all but 9 of its employees living wage benefits now, and Cosetta got the approval with the fact that this was no ordinary business exempt, according to the Pioneer Press.
The construction will start in June and will add nearly 300 jobs from employees and construction workers, while bringing more customers in to the busy restaurant, according to the Star Tribune.

Analysis: Diversity in News

In reference to the criticism President Barack Obama has been taking these past weeks for the hold up and almost government shut down over the budget, I looked at the coverage of the President.
While most news organizations (LA Times, New York Times, etc) are portraying Obama's part in the mess favorably, many continue to relate his successes and his failures down to his race.
When I spoke with Shawn Garrett, a sales associate for a national electronic retailer, he felt that the portrayals of Obama would not leave the stereotypes alone.
From what we discussed he felt that many Americans were holding Obama responsible for the mess our government has been in since 2001, instead of looking at how ineffective our Congress continues to be.
When toes are stepped on in Congress and useful bills and laws continue to not be passed through for the President to approve or veto, the simple thing to do would be to hold the President responsible, instead of looking for the deeper answer.
And the issue with a lot of that is that, Garrett found, people were all too willing to relate our Presidents successes and failures down to his race.
So the question remains, would Obama be more popular with what he is doing for our country if he were light-skinned?

Suicide bombings in Pakistan kills 42, injures more

Twin suicide bombings at a sufi shrine compound in Pakistan Sunday night killed 42, while wounding more than 100.
The attack occured at the Sufi shrine of Sakhi Sarwar, outside of Dera Ghazi Khan.
Sufi shrines are often targeted by Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups which consider the strain of Islam to be heresy.
Reuters reported that Tehreek-e-Taliban, or Movement of Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the New York Times.
More than 1,000 worshippers had gathered at the shrine when the suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests, according to the LA Times.
The third suicide bomber's vest did not detonate entirely, leaving him wounded and writhing on the scene while rescue workers treated him, according to the New York Times.
Although more than 75 percent of Pakistan's population belong to the Barelvi belief of Islam, the harder lined Deobandis consider the Barelvi's heretics, and often attack them, according to the New York Times.
Despite attempts at shrine security, Taliban attacks are common in Pakistan, according to the LA Times.

Japan releases Radioactive Water into the Pacific

Japan has begun releasing 11,500 tons of radioactive seawater into the Pacific Ocean to make room for more contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
The water coming from the reactors has 100 times the legal limit for radiation, but is making room for contaminated water with 100,000 times the legal amount of radiation to be stored, according to the New York Times.
Pumping water is not expected to halt or be altered, however, as a radioactive leak was discovered Saturday, which has been spewing several tons of highly radioactive water directly into the ocean, according to the LA Times. Until the source of the leak can be fixed, the situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant is expected to worsen.
Japan's government has approved the release of the radioactive water, but many are not sure about the affects the contaminated water will have on the marine life in the ocean, according to the LA Times.
Although the seafood business in Japan is already being hit, the Japanese government is making moves to put legal limits on the amount of radiation in fish, to limit health affects, according to the New York Times.
The government is considering drawing up radioactivity food-safety standards after a bottom-feeding sand lance was caught with extremely high levels of radioactivity, which experts find very concerning, according to the LA Times.
Agriculture as well is having limits enforced on the amount of radioactivity found in meat, plants, and eggs. These government enforced limits and bans is having extreme effects on Japan's economy, already fallen from what it was, according to the LA Times.

Porky's closes doors and opens up auction

The 1950's-era drive-in diner Porky's Restaurant will begin its auction for items on Monday night.
Porky's Drive-In restaurant closed its doors Sunday night despite customers being tightly packed into the University Avenue Diner in St.Paul, according to the Star Tribune.
Porky's will be dismantled down to the 8-foot sign and auctioned off online, despite preservationist efforts to save the diner, according to the Pioneer Press.
With the light rail construction project eating away the diner's business, the owner of Porky's decided to sell the popular diner to a senior housing developer, according to the Star Tribune.
While preservationists have not given up the fight yet, the favorite spot of many vintage car drivers packed in customers to say good-bye Sunday night, with a last shake and onion-rings, according to the Pioneer Press

The Onion gets ready to put their paper online

The satirical paper, The Onion, announced Monday its plan to archive past issues.
Beginning Monday, TheOnion.com will publish multiple past issues every week for the next few months, according to the Pioneer Press.
Although the newspaper began small in 1988, as a local newspaper for Madison, Wisc., the phenomenon of their articles quickly spread across the country, becoming a large newspaper and a TV news parody, the Onion News Network, according to the Star Tribune.
Famous headlines such as "Pen Stolen from Dorm Study Area" and "Dysfunctional Family Brought together by Liquor" have made the most mundane situations front-page news and national comedic attention for The Onion, according to the Star Tribune.
Although The Onion has had previous columns and issues made into popular books, the popularity of the newspaper has led the Onion to make the move of making past issues available to all who appreciate their comedic version of the news, according to the Pioneer Press.

President Obama throws his hat in the ring. Again.

President Barack Obama announced Monday his intent for presidential re-election in 2012.
Obama's campaign will be jaded this time, as a seasoned president instead of an upstart newcomer from the Senate, but Obama is feeling hopeful that he can win it again, according to the New York Times.
Obama's "Hope" campaign is also coming back, focusing on keeping the country in the upward angle we're facing. His campaign will emphasize the growth we've had as a country and the promises he has already made good on, according to the LA Times.
He began his re-election with a video release of real citizens emphasizing the need for Obama's rational politics, but his real campaigning across country will begin soon, according to the New York Times.
While the Republican candidate for President is unclear, former Minnesota-Governor Tim Pawlenty has announced his intentions to run, too.
Pawlenty has already sent out a video of his own, which emphasizes the need for change and stability that he believes Obama has not been able to bring, according to the New York Times.

Analysis: Numbers Use

In a story run by the Pioneer Press, they covered the angel tax-credit with Minnesota start-up businesses.
They used numbers in many different ways throughout the story, and while some of it was confusing and muddled, they did a decent job explaining the finances of the story fairly clearly.
The reporter used numbers in the story to convey how much the angel-tax credit means to start-ups, and what its doing as far as returns and for Minnesota. With the numbers, you get a more clear picture of how the angel tax-credit is helping businesses.
The numbers comparing the differences in venture capital investments between years got pretty confusing to deal with, but as far as how the credit was benefiting, the numbers were very clear. Percentages used throughout the story were also very clear to understand.
The way the numbers are used for the most part helps to tell the story more effectively, but in some parts, like the venture capital investments area, did need more clarification.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers Money Tree is one of the sources of data, as well as the data from the angel tax-credit investment numbers, but you do see some, 'past studies' sourced for their numbers. It doesn't even list what it is for the study either, just the results, making the numbers confusing and hard to believe.

Jennie-O Recalls 55,000 Turkey Burgers

The Jennie-O turkey store in Willmar recalled 55,000 pounds of turkey burgers that may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Jennie-O said that the product was distributed nationwide but only sold to Sam's Club, according to the Star Tribune.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.
So far, 12 people have gotten salmonella poisioning, from 10 different states, according to the Pioneer Press.

Motorcyclists dies from motorcycle fall

A motorcyclist died Saturday night when he fell off his motorcycle.
The Mankato fell off his motorcycle on Co. Rd 169 near Mankato around 6:30 pm, according to the Pioneer Press.
While Blue Earth County officials are investigating the matter, authorities believe the man to have fallen from a medical condition, according to the Star Tribune.
The name of the 52-year old motorcyclist was not released, pending notification of relatives, according to the Star Tribune.

Vikings Stadium bill meets legislators with a clunk

The plan to build a new stadium for the Vikings has few followers, and legislators are pushing back plans as they finish their budget.
The capitol united together to curtail the stadium bill on Friday, knowing that with real cuts going into their budget, the last thing Minnesota needs is higher taxes for football, according to the Star Tribune.
Legislators want the matter pushed back until they have a plan, a partner, and a site for the stadium, according to the Star Tribune.
With bids for the new stadium between three counties, neither wants to compete for the stadium, knowing that the price tag will go up for its citizens, according to the Pioneer Press.
The plan would need to raise $300 million on things like state sales taxes on sports memorabilia and luxury taxes on luxury boxes in the stadium, according to the Pioneer Press.
Many legislators want the Metrodome fixed, believing that this is not the year to push for a new stadium, but for budget reform,according to the Pioneer Press.

Florida Pastor burns Koran

Pastor Terry Jones, of a small nondenominational church, said Saturday he does not regret the burning of the Koran which led to the violent riot and attack of the U.N. in Afghanistan.
Though his congregation in Gainesville, Florida has only 20 to 30 followers, Pastor Terry Jones has gotten international attention when he held a trial for the Koran, which he presided over, and found the book guilty. Soaked in kerosene, they burned the Koran, according to the New York Times.
This public burning of the Koran, which both the Secretary of Defense and the President urged him not to do, led to the the attack of the U.N. in Afghanistan, which left 21 dead and 81 injured, according to the LA Times.
Jones believed he held a fair trial for the Koran, which along with Islam, he argues are instruments of "violence, death, and terrorism", according to the LA Times.
Though Jones has argued that the attacks in Afghanistan are regrettable, he thinks he made the right decision, and argues that Islam is the work of the devil, according to the New York TImes.

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