September 2009 Archives

Analysis: Attribution in embryo mix-up article

BBC News' article on a woman who was implanted with the wrong embryo attributes to its sources in both a specific and vague manner.

BBC News names three sources.  One is Carolyn Savage, the woman, another source is CNN and the last is an unnamed statement.

The writer attributes in six of the nine paragraphs. 

Of those six, four attributed Savage with the same format and different content. It follows the "Mrs. Savage, ..., said..." format, but the blanks are filled with new information, making the article interesting.

When using a quote captured by CNN, they wrote, "Carolyn was quoted as saying by CNN." This way of attribution is effective but unnecessarily long.

When using information from the statement, BBC wrote, "Carolyn Savage and her husband Sean said in a statement that the baby was delivered at St Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio."  The source, a statement, remains unidentified throughout the article, raising an issue of unreliability.

Madagascar President Prevented from Speaking

The South African Development Community stopped Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina from speaking at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

The SADC and the African Union prevented Rajoelina from speaking on Thursday and Friday because they refused to recognize Rajoelina's government.

Rajoelina seized power of Madagascar in March through a coup, BBC News said.

Rajoelina's name was dropped from the speakers list on Thursday after the SADC objected, Voice of America News said.  He was scheduled to speak again on Friday, but
the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo Alexis Mwamba stepped in.

The SADC encouraged mediation in Madagascar in order to reestablish constitutional order, VOA said. As long as it is unestablished, SADC will not recognize Rajoelina and his nation.

Hate crime in Brooklyn Park

Two Minneapolis men and another unknown man attacked two Brooklyn Park men early Wednesday with an ax, brass knuckles and a handgun near Hartkopf Park because of their race.

Bryan Westerlund, Anthony Kilpela and another unknown man threatened, beat, stripped and stole from 18-year-old Derrick Thomas and 40-year-old Johnney Robinson, the Star Tribune said. 

The attackers, who were white, shouted racial slurs at the black victims.  They told the victims their intentions to assassinate President Barack Obama and his wife and kids, police said.

The men punched the victims with brass knuckles, swung at them with an ax, and threatened to shoot them if they did not strip. 

Westerlund, 21, and Kilpela, 21, were charged with robbery, attempted robbery and fourth degree assault on Friday, WCCO News said.  The extra assault charge was added for racism.

Thomas, who has a mental capacity of an 8-year-old, was attacked while riding his bike around 1am.  He told police the attackers claimed they were going to "kill any black person that comes through the park." 

Shortly after, police found Westerlund, Kilpela, and their friends assaulting Robinson in Hartkopf Park. One attacker escaped, and a young woman who was in the men's car during the attacks was released by police. 

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating Westerlund and Kilpela's threat against President Obama and his family.

Man steals from bookstore and falls off bluffs

A 29-year-old Saint Paul man fell off the East River Parkway river bluffs on Tuesday after he stole and fled from the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union bookstore.

The man stole two textbooks, triggered the bookstore alarm and was stopped by security.  He told them that a tag from his shoes set off the alarm, the Minnesota Daily said.

WCCO News reported that the man biked down East River Parkway, abandoned the bicycle and ran while security guards followed.  The guards wrestled him, but he broke free and slid down the bluffs, falling to the river.

The man hid in the leaves and bushes with blue and brown streaks on his face in an attempt to camouflage himself.

When found, he told police that his wrist and leg were broken and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, the Minnesota Daily said.

Government lacks in delivering its promise to veterans

The United States government is failing on delivering its promise of tuition checks to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Although over 200,000 of the 277,000 claims for tuition assistance were approved this semester, less than 22,000 veterans have received their checks, the Washington Times said.

Veterans Affairs now requires its workers to work overtime in order to process more claims and answer a hot-line for students, ArmyTimes reported.

"You got to love the VA," Iraq veteran Jeff Kohler told ArmyTimes. "I go through hell in Iraq and this is the thanks I get from them."  Like many others, Kohler depends on his savings, loans, and money borrowed from his parents in order to get by.

Another Mao emerges

Mao Xinyu, grandson of Mao Zedong, is rising this year to high ranks in the Chinese Army.

The People's Liberation Army promoted Xinyu, 39, recently, making him the youngest major general in the army, the Changjiang Daily reported.

Mao's promotion has not been announced by the army but has been reported by the state-run Chinese paper, the New York Times said.

Mao is the only grandson of four grandchildren of the older Mao. He is a strong defender of the late Mao's reputation, the Washington Post reported.

Analysis: The lead in an article on a swine flu vaccination

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Donald McNeil Jr., a reporter for the New York Times wrote a short and clear hard-news lead for his Friday article on the swine flu vaccination.

"More than three million doses of swine flu vaccine will be available by the first week of October, a little earlier than had been anticipated, federal health officials announced Friday," McNeil wrote.

This lead quickly reports most of the main who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. The who answer provided directs readers' attention to health officials. The what answer involves the availability of the recently-found swine flu vaccination. The inclusion of "Friday" describes when the announcement was made.

This lead does not include where the vaccination will be available, and how or why it is available. The lead remains vague on when and where the vaccinations will be available because this information may not yet be set.

Readers are expected to understand why information about a vaccination for the swine flu is important because it is a dominant topic in the media. Readers are not expected to understand how health officials found the vaccination because it is a complex scientific process.

McNeil does specify the amount of doses available because this information is important for the American public. Three million doses are available. However, the United States has a population of 304 million.

Charges against Vang Pao are dropped

After a two year-long tug and war over Vang Pao's alleged plot to overthrow the Lao government, the charges were dropped Friday.

Vang Pao was accused by the American government of conspiring to commit terrorist attacks on the Laotian capital, the Pioneer Press reported.

Over 500 Hmong-Americans and supporters rallied for his freedom when he was arrested in 2007.

The Star Tribune reports that no evidence was ever found suggesting that Vang Pao ever viewed or helped to develop the plan.  The charges were dropped Friday.

The federal grand jury has indicted 12 others in the same charges. 

Vang was a major general for the Royal Lao Army during the Secret War and an ally of the United States.  His military activities were supported by the American Central Intelligence Agency.  He is a highly respected figure in the Hmong community.

Minnesota's largest school district cuts 135 teachers

The Anoka-Hennepin school district, Minnesota's largest district, has decided to cut 135 teachers this year.

The Star Tribune reports that the district cut its funds by $16 million this year and project that next year's cuts will be as much as $18 million.

The Pioneer Press reports that although classroom sizes are getting larger, the total number of students is decreasing.

"It makes no sense to fund empty classrooms. You have to put teachers in front of kids," said John Hoffman, the Vice Chair of the district school board.

In addition, the Star Tribune reports that numerous large school districts are turning to their back-up funds to make ends meet.

Although teachers are receiving the shortest end of this stick, they remain positive and hopeful.
Minneapolis Police Officer Jason Andersen was fired Wednesday after accusations of hitting his girlfriend, soon after being found justified for the fatal shooting of Minneapolis teen Fong Lee.

Andersen fatally shot Fong Lee in 2006, claiming that Lee was fleeing with a raised a gun.  Andersen fired nine shots, eight bullets hit Lee.

An internal affairs investigation and a Hennepin County grand jury cleared Andersen.

The case went to trial in the U.S. District Court this May when Lee's family disputed Andersen's claims with video footage showing Lee had no gun in his hand.  They also argued the gun was planted because it had no fingerprints when it was found.

Jurors decided that Andersen used an acceptable amount of force.  This decision led to unrest in the Hmong community.

Two weeks after the Fong Lee case, Andersen's ex-wife reported to Big Lake police that Andersen hit his girlfriend
Angela Lynn Nicholas during an argument in June. 

The Pioneer Press reports that although Andersen
was charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse, the case was dismissed on Sept. 2 for insufficient admissible evidence.  

After an internal investigation conducted by the Minneapolis Police,
Police Chief Timothy Dolan fired Andersen.  Dolan was a strong advocate for Andersen during the Fong Lee case.

The Star Tribune reports that although Dolan refuses to discuss his reasoning behind the termination,
the Hmong community is "relieved."  They believe this decision supports the community's claim that Andersen was guilty in the Fong Lee case.  


First lady weighs in on women and health care

Michelle Obama emphasized the importance of women's voices in the health care debate in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

Obama spoke to around 140 representatives of women's groups and the health care industry asking them to become active in the debate on health care for women.

"Women are affected because, as we heard, in many states, insurance companies can still discriminate because of gender," Obama said.

The Washington Post reports that a 2008 study from the National Women's Law Center shows that the disparity between men and women in health insurance can be as large as 48 percent.  Only 10 states in the U.S. ban gender rating.

"These are the kind of facts that still wake me up at night," Obama said.

The New York Times reports that Obama's role in policy discussions have been minimal.  Her speech Friday suggests an coming active role for her in the health care debate.

Trade tensions rise between China and US

Trade tensions rise between China and the United States's trade as both nations announced trade tariffs this weekend. 

On Friday, President Barack Obama announced a plan to impose tariffs of up to 35 percent on tires from China.  This move is an attempt to enforce strict trade laws as promised to the labor unions, said the New York Times.

On Sunday, the Chinese Ministry announced its plan to put tariffs on automotive and chicken products from the U.S.  Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming, told the Washington Post that Obama's plan "sends the wrong signal to the world."

This tension rises in the midst of the two nations' attempts to work together in order to save the global economy and fight security threats.

Although fears on a downward relationship are rising, the Obama administration "[does] not think it will have an impact on the broader relationship," the Washington Post said.  On Monday, the Chinese Ministry requested talks with the U.S., during which the U.S. plans to avoid disputes while complying with World Trade Organization rules.

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