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April 30, 2007

Google it: public records

The company that is a noun and used as a verb is working to make public records with certain states more available through the internet, AP reported.

The company is providing state government with free consulting and software to break the barrier the seach engine has had with searching public records dealing with real estate, education, etc. They are working with Arizona, California, Utah and Virginia, but the info will not be exclusive to Google alone, but all search engines.

This will sure help journalists' jobs easier. Soon you will be able to Google anything and find it. Google has really outdone themselves on this one.

24 yr-old truck driver not guilty on all counts

24-year-old truck driver Michael Kozlowski was found not guilty of all charges in a crash with a Chippewa Falls High School bus that killed five people and injured others in October 2005, Star Tribune reported.

Kozlowski was driving a semitrailer truck for Whole Foods company and fell asleep on a delivery. The truck overturned and blocked the lanes of Hwy. 94. A bus driven by Paul Rasmus, 78, collided with the truck that blocked both lanes.

The defense cited that Rasmus and the school district of the bus is to blame, not Kozlowski. Rasmus wasn't wearing his glasses, they said and should have had time to stop before hitting the truck. But the prosecutor argued that Kozlowski was negligent because he was tired and if his truck was not there the bus would have never collided. The defense won.

The story was very well covered and showed both sides of the story well. When I read it, it made me want to take sides with each viewpoint, the defense and prosecutor.

April 29, 2007

Firefighters supress 70 percent of Georgia wildfire

A fire that began April 16, burning more than 100 square miles of forest and swampland in Georgia, was mostly contained by firefighters Sunday, Associated Press reported.

At least nine families were evacuated from their homes. Although officials say that 70 percent of the fire has been contained, the fire should continue to rage because of high winds and no rain in the forecast.

Apparently, the smoke got so bad that it was blowing over to Florida Sunday and several residents called authorities worried about brush fires, WFTV reported.

The fire has destroyed about $65 million in timber, and farmers are going to have a hard road to recovery, Florida Times-Union reported.But farmer can salvage some of the trees after they are burned and before they rot.

April 26, 2007

Two women stop traffic in scuffle; father of accused murder suspect says his son didn't do it

Two women stopped their car and got out to fight in the middle of a 694 center lane, Star Tribune reported. The two got out and were throwing punches at one another. They were accompanied by a man.

The fight took place during rush hour and slowed lanes. Police came and arrested the two, taking them to jail. The man was not arrested and police did not say why the fight happened, but the two were riding in a vehicle together.

Police said the event was unusual because road rage altercations usually occur on the shoulder.

In other news, the father of accused shooter Jerome Pablo Cross, 17, says his son was at home and questions police evidence that his son was involved, Pioneer Press reported. Cross was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder of 16-year-old Earl Freeman, who was shot and killed on a Metro Transit bus Sunday. James Cross said the surveillance footage didn't catch the actual footage. Police say that they have solid evidence against Cross that there were several eye witnesses who saw Cross.

April 25, 2007

Yeltsin's Funeral

Today, Russians buried Boris Yeltsin, the country's first and former democratically elected president, who died Monday of heart failure at the age of 76, NY Times reported.

The funeral was attended by Russia's elite, former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush. Russia's current President Vladimir Putin also attended. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

The Los Angeles Times articles seemed to take a negative stance on Yeltsin's legacy, but one that might be more realistic of the his disapproval and flaws.

Both the articles were interesting and covered his history well.

April 24, 2007

Schools still struggle

As enrollment in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools continues to drop, schools struggle to find a way to survive.

Star Tribune reported a story about two North Side Minneapolis schools that are going to be restructuring because of their low enrollment numbers. Pioneer Press reported that St. Agnes in St. Paul is struggling to meet their budget and are in debt, suffering from a dropping enrollment.

Recently the Minneapolis school board voted to close 6 schools, one of them being nearby Tuttle Community School. The enrollment is predicted to continue to decline, and the school board will need to close more to come to a enrollment and capacity equilibrium. Most students are going to the suburbs or to charter schools, as many families are moving out of the city and into suburbs.

April 23, 2007

Buses still safe?

Although there have been three bus shootings since March, bus police officials say that these are isolated incidents and buses are still safe, Star Tribune reported.

Earl Freeman, 16, of St. Paul was shot and killed Sunday while riding a bus home, Pioneer Press reported.
The Star Tribune reported today that police have arrested a 17-year-old St. Paul youth in connection with the shooting, but have not released a name.

Although the increase of incidents, Metro Transit has increased their bus police force by almost quadrupling it within the last five years, a police official said. There are about 15 cars on the street at any given time and officers board the buses five times each shift. Buses are also being equipped with digital cameras. With all these measures, “Transit systems reflect the communities they serve, Metro Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus said, "and violent acts sometimes spill over.?

What I wonder is that Pioneer Press wrote the story, and I wonder if it helped the police track down a suspect.

April 21, 2007

U.S. invites Russia to participate in missile system

Since Russian officials have been opposed to U.S. having missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, so U.S. officials are offering Kremlin to take part in their missile defense system, sort of, anyway, NY Times reported.

U.S. military officials said they are offering to share information, and link one another's missile defense systems.

Infant death rates rise in south

The rates of death for infants are on the rise, some think a big part of it has to do with obese mothers, NY Times reported.

The data is defined by the number of deaths before the age of one, per thousand life births. In 2004, the rate was 9.7 and jumped to 11.4 in 2005 in Mississipi. The national average most recently compiled is 6.9 for 2003.

Some also think that it could be the result of a lack of resources and medical care.

The story was really interesting but it seemed like it didn't really talk about how this could be addressed. But still very interesting article.

Details from football player's search warrant released

Police released the details of the search warrant from the football players accused of rape, MN Daily reported.

Alex Daniels, E.J. Jones and Keith Massey have not been charged, but the police collected evidence at the player's apartment.

The woman said she drank until she was intoxicated and the three men picked her up and took her into a bedroom where the alleged assault took place. When she woke up, her clothing was half-off and her underwear were missing. She called herself from the men's cellphones so that she could identify them later, Star Tribune reported.

The suspects remain suspended from the team, but the investigation is still pending.

U bomb threat prompts evacuation of seven buildings

University officials evacuated seven buildings after finding a threatening note in Smith Hall on campus, Star Tribune reported.

The note specifically listed all of the buildings that were evacuated. The threat came two days after Virginia Tech shootings and days before the Columbine aniversary shootings.

The note read, "I am sick and tired of these buildings and people who operate in them, Today before 10 pm I am gonna bomb them simultaniously, I have nothing to lose."

The police received a call at 12:15 p.m. from a faculty member who was given the note that was found by a student in a bathroom. Buildings were locked and evacuated by 1:15 p.m. and the area was cordoned off shortly after. The threat is one of many during the weak and many question whether the Virginia Tech shooter's rampage has encouraged others.

Police found no bomb, Pioneer Press reported.

April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Massacre

A 23-year-old Virginia Tech student from South Korea killed 32 and died himself Monday, leaving the nation stunned and the campus mourning, AP reported.

Cho Seung-Hui, 23, has been identified as the killer. The police don't know his motive, but school spokesman said that he was a loner. There was two attacks that took place two hours apart. At first police didn't know whether the attacks were related. Cho used two pistols to kill 32 people, 31 of them were in one building. Twelve people are still in urgent care, and the doctor said each victim had at least three gun shot wounds.

The story is unbelieavable, and many people are wondering why there wasn't enough warning after the first shooting took place at 7 a.m. Police say that they thought the incidents were at first unrelated and this is why they didn't make a P.A. announcement, but sent out an e-mail.

April 15, 2007

St. Paul officials look to add nightlife

St. Paul officials are trying to spice things up in downtown St. Paul by trying to entice music club owners to fill vacant spaces, Pioneer Press reported.

Joe Spencer, arts and culture associate for Chris Coleman, said he has been trying to recruit club owners to open music clubs to add to the nightlife. Part of the reason is also to prepare for the 2008 Republican National Convention, which will be hosted at the Xcel Energy Center.

April 13, 2007

News from Afghanistan! What? Not Iraq?

U.S. troops rescued five civilian contractors stuck in insurgent attack after their helicopter made an emergency landing, U.S.-led coalition officials said in a statement today, AP reported.

The five civilians were taking heavy fire from insurgents near the village of Oaleh-e Ghafur after making the landing. U.S. soldiers responded and killed three insurgents.

This seems to be one of most recent happening from Afganistan. It seems like the war in Iraq doesn't get covered enough. Perhaps there just isn't anything happening there, but maybe we aren't doing enough to get the news either.

April 12, 2007

School board votes tonight

Minneapolis school board is going to vote tonight on which schools will close in June, Star Tribune reported.

Five of the schools are on the North Side and one is on the southeast side of Minneapolis. Most of the schools are on the list because of poor test score results and a short in funding to keep them open. The district has enough room for 50,000 but enrollment is down to 37,000 right now and the schools are closing to make it closer to the enrollement numbers.

However, neighborhood leaders express a sense of racism in list of schools on the list, which most are attended by mostly minorities. Neighborhood folks are upset because it decreases the middle-class in their neighborhoods, which has been moving to the suburbs.

More schools are to close in 2008, which the school board hopes to make a list of this summer.

April 10, 2007

Imus suspended for racial comments

MSNBC and CBS radio talk-show host Don Imus is being suspended for two weeks after calling the Rutgers women's basketball team a bunch of "nappy-headed hos," Associated Press reported.

Although Imus is known for making insults at various groups of people and politicians, this joke struck the wrong chord and went too far.

Al Sharpton, who hosted Imus on his show for an apology Monday, said the apology is not enough and that he wants him fired, CNN reported. Other leaders in the black community are asking for the same.

The Associated Press article said that his job all depends on whether advertisers will choose to shy away from him because of the incident, but I wonder if more will be drawn because of the controversy. A lot of times more people want to hear what the fuss is all about and will listen to a talk-show host after they are clouded by controversy. Both articles did a great job talking about the issue, though the CNN article seemed a little more biased towards the situation.

April 9, 2007

'Go gophers!' says Daniels after being released

Gopher men's football players held in custody for suspicions of rape were released from jail Monday due to insufficient evidence, Star Tribune reported.

After being released, Alex Daniels, 20 said he did not have a lawyer.

"Go gophers," he said. "I don’t know what happened. I’m just taking it one day at a time."

Authorities will continue to investigate the case. Daniels, E.J Jones, 19, and Keith Massey, 20, were taken into custody Friday after an 18-year-old woman flagged down a police officer and accused the three of sexually assaulting her. According to the police report, the incident happened late Tuesday or early Wednesday and she went to the hospital for a "rape kit" early Wednesday.

The questions I now have is the evidence insufficient due to the result of the rape kit test? Why were they released when initially Hestness said it is a "credible" case. What has changed since it was initially reported? For one, when the incident was initially reported by WCCO they said they were booked for was a first-degree sexual assault and then it was reported as a third-degree sexual assault.

April 7, 2007

Brits talk about their capture

After being released by the Iranian government, the British sailors and marines talked about their imprisonment by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Washington Post reported.

At times the British sailors and marines were intimidated with guns cocked behind them by Iranian guards who didn't speak English, thinking they were going to be executed. They feared no one knew of their capture and that they would go unnoticed. They were threatened but it seems that no torture took place in the Tehran prison. They didn't see or speak to anyone for six days in a cell.

Military officials were disappointed that the sailors and marines publicly apologized for something they didn't do. The Iranians made them confess that they had entered into Iranian waters, even though they hadn't. The confessions aired on Iranian television, reported NY Times.

Three football players arrested

Three Gopher football players were arrested Friday and are being held on suspicions of third degree sexual assault of an 18-year-old woman, reported Star Tribune.

The 18-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, flagged down a police officer outside of University Village Friday, accusing Alex Daniels, E.J. Jones, both 20, and Keith Massey, 19, of raping her. The three were picked up by police and suspended from the team. Charges could be brought as early as Monday. But the alleged rape occurred late Tuesday or Wednesday.

According to the MN Daily, the woman was examined at the hospital Wednesday morning.

It is unclear whether she is a U student, Pioneer Press reported.

Today, at the annual Spring game, University officials told reporters they would cut interviews short if any of the questions didn't focus on the spring game itself.

April 4, 2007

Correction: Eminem can criticize his ex-wife

In an article published in the Star Tribune, but reported by the Associated Press, the reporter incorrectly said that Eminem and his ex-wife Kim Mathers, agreed in a court dispute that prohibits them from criticizing one another. In actuality they can't criticize eachother in front of their daughter Hailie.

I thought this could have been avoided if the reporter would just have done a little more probing and clarifying the exact order of the settlement. If the story was about this, you would think that he would have that essential part of the story correct. But often times these things can be missed.

Police arrest man in connection with murders

A 25-year-old man has been charged with murder and is suspect of several others, Star Tribune reported.

Tyvarus Lindsey, 25, was charged Monday with second-degree murder of Leon Brooks. Lindsey, who has a long criminal history, is also a suspect of a triple-homicide and another man two days after he was released on other charges.

Although the Star Tribune said he is the only suspect the police have for that murder, The Pioneer Press reported that the police have three, though the other two have not been named. The Pioneer Press focused on the triple homicide, because it occured in their coverage of St. Paul.

The police said the several murders are connected, but would not say how. The Star Tribune article is hard to follow and some of the first four graphs are very hard to read. The Pioneer Press article seemed much more clear. Also, as a side note, the new Pioneer Press Web site looks very fresh and easy to navigate.

April 2, 2007

U student dies from fall off parking ramp

A first-year mechanical engineering student died at the Hennepin County Medical Center Sunday afternoon after falling from the Oak Street parking garage earlier that day, Star Tribune reported.

Kyle Sharbonno, 19, died from injuries caused by the fall and what police call a "tragic accident."

The Pioneer Press reported was able to get the story on their website first, and also included the drowning of another student last week. One would think that two students dead in a week would be worth mentioning but the Star Tribune focused only on the student who fell. Both of the papers were able to talk to father, who essentially seemed to tell them the same thing, that Kyle was going to school to build a better snowmobile.

Star Tribune's headline seemed deceiving because it focused on the fatal fall being under investigation to make it sound like there is some sort of controversy.

I also reported the story for the Minnesota Daily. I included witnesses who saw what happened. The biggest difference with my story from their is that I didn't talk to the father. I think that since it is a student newspaper it is important to report the news first and then have a obituary styled story, which the two big papers mixed together. Instead of family, I talked to a close high school friend of Kyle's, who was shook up and didn't want to talk much. I wanted to wait until the family had a day to grieve, but I guess for the big papers news can't wait and perhaps they weren't sensitive enough to the family.

What is interesting is that Pioneer Press reported the family and police saying that the boy slipped, is their surveillance evidence to back this up? Or are they just trying to honor the students name? The police said nothing of the boy slipping and didn't seem close to be at that conclusion.

Red Lake boys' bodies found

The of bodies of Tristan White, 4, and brother Avery Lee Stately, 2, were found Sunday after the boys went missing last November, the Star Tribune reported.

The bodies were found "encased" in ice in a lake close to their home. Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd (Buck) Jourdain said it appeared that the boys had walked out onto the ice that was only an inch or two thick. The bodies were recovered by a St. Louis County volunteer search team.

The death's seem accidental but an investigation will continue, Jourdain said.

"Jourdain says tribal police and the FBI received more than 300 tips during the course of the investigation. He says a lot of energy and resources were poured into finding Tristan and Avery," MPR reported.