November 2010 Archives

Students protest tuition hike in London

by Shannon Lee
British police arrested 153 students who were protesting against increased university tuition fees Tuesday in London.
The proposed tuition hike would let universities charge up to $14,000 a year -- three times more than what students currently pay.
Many students said they feel betrayed by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain's Liberal Democrats, according to NPR. His party previously had a large amount of student support after pledging to vote against any tuition increases. The party changed its decision after teaming up with the Conservative Party as the junior partner in a coalition government.
The House of Commons is expected to vote on the issue in December, and it is not yet certain how the Liberal Democrat ministers will vote, according to the BBC.

Hostages freed after High School gunman shot himself

by Shannon Lee
Twenty-three students and one teacher were released from Marinette High School in Wisconsin Monday evening when an armed student shot himself after holding them in a classroom for nearly five hours.
No hostages were hurt. The suspect was taken to the hospital and remained in unknown condition as of 9:45 p.m.
The gunman, 15, entered the classroom shortly after 3 p.m. Zach Campbell, one of the student hostages, told the New York Times the suspect shot at a movie projector, and other students tried to calm him down.
The school principal called police at 3:48 p.m., reported CNN, and law enforcement officers from all over the state gathered nearby.
The gunman refused to talk directly to police officers, and would only communicate to them through the teacher. He made no demands, reported the New York Times, and allowed five students to leave at 7:40 p.m. after they asked to use the bathroom.
At 8:03 p.m., police reported hearing three gunshots. They entered the classroom and the suspect shot himself.
The student had no criminal record prior to the event, reported CNN. Superintendent Tim Baneck told CNN the school would be closed Tuesday as school officials work to make counselors available for students.

Diversity Analysis

by Shannon Lee
A CNN article about a gay rights protest Monday moved beyond stereotypes and presented the issue as one that affects all people.
"I didn't notice any gay stereotypes as I was reading," said Graham, a gay master's student at San Francisco State University. "I'm most impressed by the picture and how different everyone in the group is -- two black women, an Asian man and a Caucasian priest. It shows that this is an issue that affects everyone -- all ages, races, religious beliefs, etc."
The reporter included neutral observations that described the nature of the protest held outside the White House. The article also presented some of the protesters' opinions by including quotes from them.
Even thought the article appropriately addressed gay rights issues without using stereotypes, Graham said that he thought it made a subtle jab at Obama.
"The journalist writes that other than this protest it was a 'relatively quiet day' for the President. It makes Obama look even worse for not taking the time to meet with these people on a slow political day. Also, in the last paragraph, it mentions that this is not the first time these people have attempted to reach Obama without him acknowledging them."

FDA put pressure on alcoholic energy drink makers

by Shannon Lee
The Food and Drug Administration warned beverage companies Wednesday that the alcoholic energy drinks they manufacture are dangerous substances.
The FDA told four companies that they had 15 days to stop selling the beverages.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the FDA decided caffeine was an illegal additive to alcoholic drinks because it masks the effects of alcohol, the Seattle Times reported.
Alcoholic energy drinks have been popular on college campuses, but have gotten negative press in recent months. One student died and others were rushed to the hospital after drinking caffeinated alcoholic beverages.
Critics argue that a ban on the drinks goes too far and that people should be allowed to make their own decision on whether or not to purchase them. Some also feel that a ban will just make the drinks more alluring and motivate people to make them on their own, reported the Washington Post.
The drinks are already banned in four states, and one manufacturer, Phusion Projects, said it would stop putting caffeine in its drinks.

Lockheed Martin announced plans to close a plant in Eagan

by Shannon Lee
Global security company Lockheed Martin said Thursday it will close a plant in Eagan. The company plans to eliminate or move 1,000 jobs by 2013.
Company spokeswoman Anne Marie Squeo said the closing is needed to cut costs, reported MPR.
About 650 employees will have the opportunity to move to New York, Virginia or California to keep their jobs if they choose, reported the Star Tribune. The remaining 350 will be let go.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire both expressed concerns over the plant's announcement and said they hope to meet with Lockheed Martin officials to discuss the possibility of keeping the plant open.

Drinking ban lifted from University fraternities

by Shannon Lee
The Interfraternity Council lifted an alcohol ban that followed three reported sexual assaults at University of Minnesota fraternities.
In lieu of the ban, fraternity members will have to comply with a new set of policies.
Fraternities will only be allowed to have alcohol present at social gatherings when guests do not outnumber the amount of fraternity members present. Alcohol will still be banned from parties with larger numbers of guests.
Volunteers from other fraternity houses will enforce the new policy at social events. Chad Ellsworth, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life, told the Star Tribune that appropriate enforcement of the policy by volunteers is crucial in ensuring the regulation works.
If the new policy is lifted in the future, the IFC considered the possibility of hiring a private security guard for fraternity parties, reported the Minnesota Daily.

Building collapsed in India, leaving at least 65 dead

by Shannon Lee
A five-story building collapsed Monday evening in New Delhi, killing at least 65 people and injuring around 80 more.
City officials suspected the collapse was caused by exposure to water from heavy monsoons and from being located close to the Yamuna River.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told CNN she believed the building was unauthorized and had water in the basement for several days.
Many migrant workers from India's countryside rented cheap rooms in the building. They often housed extended family members while they looked for work, reported the New York Times.
Local residents told the New York Times that up to 400 people lived in the building. On Tuesday, many people were still not accounted for.

New airport security scanners upset passengers and pilots

by Shannon Lee
New security scanners that use low doses of x-rays to scan passengers' bodies at airports have caused some to complain about invasion of privacy.
Passengers who opt out of the full-body scan must submit to a pat-down, which critics have called call overly invasive.
One California man made headlines after he missed his flight Saturday by threatening to have a San Diego airport agent arrested while the agent was patting him down, reported AOL News.
Many pilots are also unhappy with the new security scanners. Several have said they will boycott the scanners and pat-downs during the Thanksgiving travel rush, reported CBS News.
The Transportation Security Administration has insisted that the new security measures are crucial to ensure safety on flights, according to AOL News.
There are currently 385 scanners being used in U.S. airports. The government plans to have nearly 1,000 scanners in airports by the end of 2011.

Analysis of numbers in article about staged bike thefts

by Shannon Lee
A journalist from the St. Cloud Times used numbers from an experiment to report on witnesses' reactions to staged bike thefts on the St. Cloud State University campus.
The numbers were used to support the finding that people most often did not report the bike thefts they witnessed.
The writer often expressed the numbers in terms of a relationship to make them clearer. In the fourth paragraph, he wrote that out of 25 staged thefts, only one was reported. By expressing the numbers in this way, he not only let the reader know that most witnesses did not respond, but also told them the number of times the experiment was conducted.
In the sixth paragraph the reporter used numbers to give context to his story. He wrote that 24 percent of 149 "significant" university thefts reported in 2009 were of stolen bicycles. Using a percentage to frame the numbers was a stronger choice than if he had just written, "Out of 149 significant thefts, 36 bicycles were stolen."
Near the end of the article, the reporter used numbers again to highlight some of the more surprising details of the experiment. He wrote that experimenters counted the number of people within about 20 feet of each theft. In one case, he wrote there were 105 people within 20 feet of the theft who either did not see or did not report it.
Using basic math, the reporter effectively used numbers in his story. The only problem I found with the article was that it did not provide a report for those numbers. The writer just stated that the experiment was done by a psychology class. He included the name and quotes from the class instructor, but there was no way to view the experiment in detail.

Heavy snow caused delays and power outages in the Twin Cities

by Shannon Lee
A snowstorm hit the Twin Cities Saturday morning, leaving nearly a foot of snow in certain parts of the metro area and over 44,000 Xcel Energy customers without power.
Xcel spokesman Jim Hoen told the Pioneer Press the company had every available crew member working to repair the widespread power outages, but that it will be difficult until the snow lets up.
The storm also slowed down Saturday commuters. The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport had to manage ground delays, while the Minnesota State Patrol responded to over 300 crashes and nearly 400 vehicles off the road, reported the Pioneer Press.
Greg Spoden, who works at the State Climatology Office, told the Star Tribune the storm will likely be the biggest one to hit the metro area before Thanksgiving since the 1991 "Halloween monster."
The storm is expected to pass by Sunday morning, with the possibility of flurries on Monday or Tuesday.

Home sales drop in Twin Cities

by Shannon Lee
The number of homes being sold in the Twin Cities has dropped, according to data released Wednesday by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.
Homes sales are down 3 percent from September to October, but have dropped 41 percent compared to the same time last year.
Grace Sharp, a sales agent with Market Link Realty, told the Star Tribune she expects the number of foreclosures to increase in 2011 since a brief moratorium on foreclosure activity was lifted.
Although the housing market's future does not look great, it was even worse a few years ago, reported MPR.
Home buyers can benefit from the market slump, though, because interest rates have stayed low. Despite this, many buyers do not qualify for housing loans. Strict lending standards are in place to help prevent a repeat of the careless lending practices in the past that contributed to the housing market fall, reported the Star Tribune.

Bush's memoir sold well opening day

by Shannon Lee
Former President George W. Bush's memoir was released Tuesday to record sales in recent years.
"Decision Points" sold at least 220,000 copies, the highest number for non-fiction opening-day sales since former President Bill Clinton's memoir was released in 2004, reported the Canadian Press.
Around 50,000 copies were sold via e-book purchases, reflecting the digital market's accelerated growth.
Interest in the memoir has been strong all over the country, but sales are especially high in Republican regions and in Washington, D.C., reported the Wall Street Journal.
Reviews have described the memoir as both "delightful" and "flat," but mixed reviews are typical for presidential memoirs, according to the Canadian Press.

Minneapolis installs new solar-powered meters

by Shannon Lee
City workers began installing new 'smart' meters Tuesday that will give drivers the option to pay by credit card.
Drivers will still be able to pay using quarters if they choose. The meters went through a field test in Minneapolis last spring. The test showed that half of the drivers who used them used credit cards, according to MPR.
The new meters come with additional benefits. People can add time to their meter using any pay station, and may soon be able to add time using a cell phone, City Traffic Engineer Tim Drew told the Star Tribune.
The new meters are also solar powered, which will cut city energy and labor costs.
Ward 12 Councilwoman Sandy Colvin Roy told MRP the project was unique because it is cheaper for the city, but will benefit residents too.
St. Paul is also looking into installing new credit card meters. The city began a six-month trial run downdown St. Paul in October.

Thousands protested nuclear waste shipment in Germany

by Shannon Lee
A train carrying 123 tons of nuclear waste arrived in northern Germany Monday despite three days of protesting from activists who are opposed to the governments nuclear policy.
Once the train arrived at its destination in Dannenburg, the waste was unloaded and will be taken by trucks to a nearby storage facility in Gorleben.
Protesters voiced concerns about the safety of the waste. They said neither the containers nor the site were safe, reported the BBC.
Most of the protesting was peaceful, but at times police used batons, pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons to control demonstrators who launched fireworks at them and who set a police car on fire, according to the BBC.
Gorleben has been the site of radioactive waste storage for three decades. Activists have tried to block the transport of toxic materials there for years, but this year's protests have been the largest, according to the New York Times.
The government spent approximately $70 million and assigned 20,000 police officers to ensure the shipment reached its destination, reported the New York Times.
Experts told the New York Times that public opposition to Germany's nuclear policy is growing and is expected to have long-term backlash on Germany's political future.

Obituary analysis from Star Tribune article

by Shannon Lee
I chose a Star Tribune news obituary about North Minneapolis community activist Major Topps. The lead was pretty standard, but age was not included until the second paragraph along with cause of death.
Instead of jumping into the claim to fame section, the writer addressed issues surrounding Topps' death. This was probably done because it was current newsworthy information relevant to his death.
The claim to fame section made up the majority of the obituary. This section included a quote from Topps' son and a quote from state Rep. Keith Ellison. It also referenced material used from a previous interview with Topps. It provided readers with information about his most notable accomplishments without giving every detail.
The chronology section was very short and just let readers know that he moved to Minneapolis from Detroit in the 1970s. There was no date of birth or information about his family, other than an earlier quote from his son. There was not even a "survived by" section at the end.
I thought it was kind of strange that there was no information about Topps' personal education since he was best known for being an education activist. This, and the absence of many dates, made his obituary different from a resume because it focused on his personal impact on the community rather than his work and education history.

Brainerd woman ordered to pay for file sharing

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by Shannon Lee
A federal jury determined Jammie Thomas-Rasset, of Brainerd, had to pay $1.5 million for downloading and sharing 24 songs via the Internet.
This was Thomas-Rassets third trial in three years since recording companies filed a complaint against her in April 2006. Her attorney, Kiwi Camera, said he planned to appeal the decision on account of the penalty being unreasonable, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Camera acknowledged that although Thomas-Rasset may have illegally shared the songs, "that doesn't mean they can take her head and stick it up on a pole," the Star Tribune reported.
The Recording Industry Association of America tried to settle with Thomas-Rasset after the second trial for $25,000, but she refused. Cara Duckworth, spokeswoman for the RIAA, told the Star Tribune the company is thankful to the jury and they hope Thomas-Rasset "finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

Unclear future for North High

by Shannon Lee
North High School could close, only to reopen in a new form in 2012, Minneapolis school Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Thursday.
Due to low enrollment and test scores, the Minneapolis Board of Education will vote next Thursday on Johnson's proposal to close the school.
Board members were initially divided on Johnson's original proposal, which did not involve reopening the school with a new format. Since her announcement though, at least two board members said they will support the updated plan, MPR reported.
The new school would be built on community input and involvement. Johnson hopes it would "win back students who have left in droves for charter schools or suburban districts," the Star Tribune reported.
School board President Tom Madden said the plan would require a heavy commitment from the community and North High supporters to recruit students, according to the Star Tribune.
Not everyone likes the proposal. Gwendolyn Kinsman, a sophomore at North High, told MPR she felt that closing the school abandons current students. "It's unfair to judge the students are there by previous numbers," she said.

South Korea fires warning shots at North Korean boat

by Shannon Lee
The South Korean Navy fired shots to drive off a North Korean fishing boat that had crossed the border between the two countries in the West Sea on Wednesday morning.
The shots were fired after the boat did not respond to loudspeaker demands from the Navy that it turn back, the Korea Times reported.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Korea Times it was not clear why the boat crossed the border.
The waters have historically been a site for attacks between North and South Korea, resulting in deaths on both sides.
Next week, Seoul will hold an economic summit meeting, and the government is on the lookout for suspicious North Korean activities, according to the Korean Times.
South Korea President Lee Myung-bak did not mention the West Sea incident during a press conference, and said he believed North Korea "will be responsible during the Seoul summit," reported the New York Times.

Californians vote on marijuana proposal

by Shannon Lee
California voters had the chance to vote on Proposition 19 today, a measure to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use by people 21 or older. It would also allow the state to tax and regulate commercial production, distribution and sale, which advocates say would bring in millions of dollars in state revenue and slash the price of marijuana as much as 80 percent.
Surveys showed voters were split on the issue, with younger people more likely to be in favor of the proposal. A Field Poll released on Sunday showed support for Proposition 19 fell in October, reported Bloomberg.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that even if the measure passes, the Justice Department will enforce the current law regarding marijuana sale and possession at the federal level, reported Bloomberg.
Advocates of Proposition 19 rallied for support in Oakland today near City Hall. Enthusiastic supporters said they were not worried about defeat because, whatever happens, the measure has sparked a debate that "would have been considered taboo" in the past, reported the Guardian

Minneapolis lawyer disbarred for running prostitution ring

by Shannon Lee
Former Hennepin County attorney John Paul St. Marie, 66, was disbarred after he admitted to allegations of running a prostitution ring.
St. Marie was charged with six felony accounts of promoting prostitution in July. According to Fox 9 News, he ran a website that connected prostitutes to 'nice guys' who, he said, were safe and paid well.
Police began investigating St. Marie two years ago after one of his former clients gave them a tip, reported Fox 9 News.
St. Marie previously worked on civil commitments at the Hennepin County Attorney's office, reported the Star Tribune
Supreme Court Justice Alan Page signed the order for his disbarment from the Minnesota State Bar on Friday, according to the Star Tribune.

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