This news blog is an educational exercise involving students ath the University of Minnesota. It is not intended to be a source of news.

April 2013 Archives

Analysis: Data Sets

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Source: Investigate West

I found an investigative report about Boeing and how it managed to manipulate the government of Washington State into not passing pollution rules that would have protected Native Americans from polluted fish.

The story gathered a wide range of sources for its reporting. Many of these were not public documents but included emails between legislators and even emails from private company officials. The reporters likely gathered these sources either form a leak provided to them or by seeking out people close to the sources who had access to them.

Throughout the story, the reporters link to the documents digitized and hosted on their sites when they reference material from them. This allows readers to see what exactly is in the documents without the reporters needing to spell it all out in their article. This improves the flow of the writing while also including all the behind-the-scenes information.

This feature is just one in a series of stories about businesses triumphing over public health. Links to these stories, organised in an orderly sequence, is displayed on the right side bar of the story. This lets readers jump to them easily.

Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial Begins Monday

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The Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, which promises dramatic revelations and legal wrangling, begins in a small Los Angeles courtroom Monday, news sources report.

The opening statements Monday will kick off three months before jurors, who are being paid $15 a day, will decide whether one of the world's largest entertainment companies should pay Jackson's mother and three children billions for its alleged liability in the pop icon's death, CNN reports.

The lawsuit brought by Jacksons elderly mother Katherine on behalf of the singer's children comes four years after his shocking death, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Jackson died of an overdose of powerful surgical anesthetic propofol and a cocktail of other sedatives meant to help him sleep in June 2009, The Chicago Tribune reports. Jackson's physician at the time was convicted in 2011 for involuntary manslaughter.

The Jacksons argue that AEG executives knew about the star's weakened health and past use of dangerous drugs while on tour, and that they are liable in his death because they pressured Jackson and his doctor to meet their ambitious schedule for the pop singer's final "This Is It" tour in London, CNN reports.

Iraq orders 'misleading' TV networks off the air

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The government of Iraq ordered 10 television networks to shut down Sunday, accusing them of stroking sectarian violence in the countries north, news sources report.

The order from the Communications and Media Commission banned networks, including Qatar-based satellite network Al Jazeera, eight outlets aimed at Iraq's Sunni minority and the Shiite network Al-Anwar, for what it called "unprofessional" and "unethical" conduct, CNN reports.

The CMC said it believes that the network's 'rhetoric' promoted misleading and exaggerated content aimed at "disturbing the civil and democratic process," Al Jazeera reports.

The Sunnit outlets, based outside Iraq, have been critical of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government since fighting last week between government troops and Sunni tribes in northern Iraq let more than 100 people dead, CNN reports.

Al Jazeera claims that more than 215 people have been killed in clashes between security forces and Sunni Arab protesters.

E-Bingo to be used for paying Vikings Stadium cost

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Minnesota officials are betting on electronic bingo to boost sagging revenue meant to pay the state's share of the new Vikings football stadium, news sources report.

Starting this week, Minnesota will be the first state to launch a stateside bingo system that will allow players compete for jackpot prizes at dozens of video screen sites, the Star Tribune reports.

Players will only be able to play with other gamblers using the same device, according to the Star Tribune.

Proceeds from electronic gaming devices are supposed to pay Minnesota's $348 million share of the Vikings stadium, but the first round of gaming -with electronic pulltabs - have failed to bring in much revenue, forcing to state to slash projected game revenue for this year from $35 million to $1.7 million, according to the Star Tribune.

Officials are hoping this new form of linked charitable gambling, approved by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board on March 18, will bring in greater funds, the Pioneer Press reports.

Minnesota School Installs Bulletproof Whiteboards

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A Minnesota school district is stocking its classrooms with bulletproof whiteboards to help protect students in the event of a possible future school shooting, news sources report.

The Rocori School Distirct in Cold Spring, Minn., recently purchased nearly 2000 18-by-20 inch whiteboards designed to guard a head and torso against several magazines of ammunition from a handgun or shotgun, ABC News reports.

The boards are to be used as a last line of defense according to the school district, the first in Minnesota to adopt the boards, which are already in use in certain schools in California, North Dakota, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to ABC News.

The whiteboards' manufacturer, Maryland-based Hardwire LLC, which has provided armor protection devices for military vehicles and personnel for years, turned its attention to school security after 20 children died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Fox News reports.

Rocori School District faced its own school shooting in 2003, when two teens were shot to death at Rocori High School before a teacher convinced the gunman to put his weapon, Fox News reports.

Evidence Grows over Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons

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United States government officials investigating reports of chemical weapon use in Syria say it is likely that the Syrian government used them on a "small scale" against rebel forces in the countries escalating civil war, news sources report.

U.S. Spy agencies have investigated reports from Syrian opposition groups that President Bashar al-Assad has used sarin gas on at least two occasions during the two year conflict, Al Jazeeera reports.

Syrian officials deny the US accusations, which were backed by Britain Friday, and likened them to false accusations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction ahead of the U.S. invasion of that toppled the countries government, Al Jazeera reports.

President Obama had earlier stated Syrian use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" that would trigger serious action against Assad's regime and it would be a "game-changer," NBC reports.

The Israeli military published intelligence findings Tuesday that Assad's force had used chemical weapons repeated in recent months, NBC reports.

British military scientists studying soil samples brought back from the area of an attack close to Damascus say they found it tested positive for the use of chemical weapons, although the government has yet to confirm it, Al Jazeera reports.

Hospital apologizes for losing baby's body in laundry

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A St. Paul hospital has admitted to mishandling the remains of stillborn baby that wound up in hospital linens sent to a laundry service, news sources report.

Chris Boese, chief nursing officer for Regions Hospital, apologized for the mistake, which he said should have been prevented, CNN reports.

An employee from Crothall Laundry in Red Wing, Minn, called police Tuesday afternoon to report that a baby's body had been found in items picked up from the hospital, CNN reports.

The baby boy had been stillborn on April 4 at 22 weeks development, Fox News reports. His body was placed in the hospital morgue and it is currently unknown how his remains ended up in the linens sent to Red Wing for cleaning, according to CNN.

Boese said it was too early to say whether any hospital employees would be disciplined, and that child's family has yet to be notified of what happened, Fox News reports

CNN reports that hospital officials said Wednesday that they were reaching out to the baby's family, offering their apologies and support.

A newly proposed re-route of an Iron Range highway has drawn the ire of business owners along the current route, news sources report.

The stretch of highway between Eveleth and Virginia must be moved to make way for a expansion of an open pit taconite mine, but will bypass both cities and local businesses, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to have the new highway in place by 2017, the Pioneer Press reports.

Public safety officials in Virginia are worried that the proposed reroute would cut communities off from quick access to ambulances, according to MPR. The city of Virginia instead prefers a route over the abandoned Rouchleau Pit, which is hundreds of feet deep and partially filled with water.

the proposal would require the construction of a bridge with 200 foot piers and cost $160 million, according to MPR. The state has set aside only $60 million in bonding funds for the project so far.

Police Hunt Suspects in Boston Bombing

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The city of Boston and the surrounding area have been placed under lockdown amid a massive manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, after the first suspect died following a shootout with police, news sources report.

The operation started late on Thursday when a police officer was killed on a Boston area MIT university campus, Al Jazeera reports. Authorities say the officer was shot while sitting in his vehicle and that they believe the bombing suspects were responsible, CNN reports.

Police then shot one of the men after a wild car chase in which the suspects hurled explosives at pursuing officers, CNN reports.

He died shortly afterward at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre from multiple bullet wounds and what appeared to be a blast injury, Al Jazeera reports.

Police believe they are the same people identified in images released Thursday by the FBI that show two men walking together near the marathon finish line right before the bombing that killed three people Monday, Al Jazeera reports.

CBS has reported that the two men are from the Chechen region of Russia. The suspect still on the run has been identified as 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Residents have been warned to not open their doors as police conduct their door-to-door, street-by-street search, Al Jazeera reports

Syria rebels capture part of Homs army base

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Opposition fighters have taken control of a large section of a Syrian government military complex, news sources report.

The base, located in the strategic central province of Homs, was taken after weeks of fighting with government forces for control, Al Jazeera reports.

Sporadic fighting was still ongoing at the former Dabaa air force base, the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said according to Al Jazeera.

The Syrian rebels have chipped away at territory controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the north and east of the war-torn country, USA TODAY reports.

Syrian officials continue to deny there is an uprising against Assad's rule, claiming those who are rising up against the government are foreign terrorists backed by Europe and the United States, according to USA TODAY.

The government is dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, while the opposition fighting to overthrow his government is mostly from the country's Sunni majority, Al Jazeera reports. The Syrian government's main allies, the Hezbollah militant group and the Islamic Republic of Iran, are dominated by Shia Muslims.

Fertilizer Explosion devastates Texas Town

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A massive blast at a fertilizer plant killed an estimated five to 15 people and wounded more than 160 in a Texas town, Wednesday night, news sources report.

The blast at the West Fertilizer Co. at about 7:50 p.m. damaged 50 to 60 homes in a 5-block area, blasting the walls off an apartment complex, CNN reports.

Patients were rushed to several hospitals and about half the community of 2,800 was evacuated, CNN reports.

Firefighters were battling a blaze at the plant at the time of the blast, which caused a tremor equivalent to a magnitude-2.1 earthquake, NBC reports. The scene is being treated as a crime scene as a precaution, though their was no indication of criminal activity.

For the town, the risk may not be over. A storm system is heading into the area and there are worries that another tank at the facility might explode, CNN reports. There are further concerns that anhydrous ammonia, a pungent gas used in fertilizer, could be exposed people, and cause severe burns.

Analysis: Diversity

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The article I found was a Star Tribune piece about a planned Somali culture museum. It talks mainly about a Somali American's dream to open a museum to display Somali cultural artifacts, and provides information to the public about a upcoming fundraiser for it.

The article's main source is Osman Ali, the man trying to start the museum. It moves beyond stereotypes by showing the hopes and dreams of an everyday member of a minority group. It gives him a platform to voice his love for his culture to an audience that might not otherwise hear about or understand.

While the article spends a lot of time discussing official matters, such as when Ali is planning to hold a benefit to raise funds for his project, it is still substantive. It gives a minority cultural group's project mass coverage and discusses why it is an important venture. Ali's passion for educating people about the culture of his homeland truly comes out in the article, despite it not taking many departures from typical news writing.

The article is highly traditional, and deals mostly with a cut and dry typical fundraiser, even if its for a minority cultural venture. It does not go into length about what Somali culture is truly about. All it does is quote one man from the community saying that it is important. The man in particular is also a successful businessman, someone reporters are likely comfortable dealing with. They likely aren't stepping out of their comfort zone by talking to him.

An 18 -year-old student shot and wounded two women on a community college campus in western Virginia before being subdued by an off-duty security guard and two police guards, news sources report.

Police report that the suspect got out of a vehicle and walked into New River Community College in Christiansburg, Virginia around 1:55 p.m., Cnn reports. He then shoot two women, before being taken into custody within five minutes after the shooting began.

The suspect had participated in a 12-week police citizen's course in which participants ride along with officers, tour training grounds, and practice with firearms at a firing range, ABC news reports.

An item posted on the online forum 4chan three minutes before the shooting began, saying it was from the suspect, urged people to check out an online stream of the New River Valley Public Safety scanner and promised and asked for posters to wish him luck, CNN reports.

Former Thatcher Opponents rally in London

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Over 200 people rallied in London's Trafalgar Square to celebrate the death of Margaret Thatcher, a former British prime minister who died earlier this week, news sources report.

Thatcher's most strident critics, including former coal miners who had clashed fiercely with her during her 11 years in power, had vowed to hold a gathering in central London following her passing, Al Jazeera reports.

Billed by as "the party of a lifetime" the gathering, said to have been planned by left-leaning activist in the event of Thatcher's death decades ago, failed to attract a massive crowd in the cold rain, Reuters reports.

The group of jovial Revelers chanted slogans, danced to drums and loud music, and waved banners bearing messages such as "Rot in hell Thatcher," Reuters reports.

Almost as many police gathered at the scene, expecting a larger crowd, according to Reuters. The gathering remained largely peaceful, with only five people arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct and attacking police, Al Jazeera reports.

Thatcher's legacy in Britain, always a controversial matter, was only intensified with her death, according to Al Jazeera. Her supporters credit her with helping end the Cold War and reviving Britain's economy after decades of decline, while her opponents accuse her of putting millions out of work with her radical individualistic free-market reforms.

Dayton Declares Snow Emergency Following Snow Storm

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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency Thursday after a spring snowstorm heaped ice and frustration on Southwest Minnesota, news sources report.

Dayton signed an emergency executive order at speeding relief efforts to the area affected by the storm, where transportation was impeded and communities struggled to restore power, CBS reports.

Six to 8 of wet snow fell early Thursday on top of the thick layer of ice that accumulated Tuesday night, the Pioneer Press reports. Snowfall in some areas reached 12 inches, and heavy snow, sleet, and gusting winds hampered commuters in the Twin Cities.

Officials say it may be early next week before electricity is restored in the southwest, CBS reports, as downed power lines and broken utility poles has disconnected the area from the larger power grid.

Across Minnesota, the State Patrol said it responded to 296 crashes plus 440 vehicles that either spun out or went off the road. Injuries were reported in 39 of those crashes, the Pioneer Press reports.

Minnesota Revives Sales Tax Overhaul

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The Minnesota Legislature has revived a sales tax overhaul, news sources report.

Less than a month after Gov. Mark Dayton dropped his plans for comprehensive changes to the state's tax system, Senate DFLers revealed a plan Thursday for major revisions to Minnesota's sales and corporate taxes, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Senate plan would broaden the sales tax while lowering the overall rate to 6 percent from 6.875 percent, and trim Corporate income taxes, the Star Tribune reports.

The biggest change for Minnesotans would be a new sales tax on clothing, but personal services, including haircuts, tattoos, dance lessons, and auto repairs, along with nonprescription drugs would also be taxed, according to the Pioneer Press.

Dayton's original plan attracted controversy by taxing business-to-business services, such as legal, accounting and advertising services, a move that solidified opposition from the business community, according to the Pioneer Press.

Dayton staffers said Thursday that he would not embrace key components of the Senate's plan, according to the Star Tribune. Senate Republicans have also voiced their opposition to the tax overhaul.

Microsoft Studio's creative director has resigned from the company after comments he made on Twitter attracted critical media attention.

Adam Orth, whose comments on always-on internet connections in home video game consoles launched a wave of anti-Microsoft sentiment last week, is no longer with Microsoft, Polygon reports.

"Sorry, I don't get the dram around having an always on console," Orth tweeted in response to rumors that Microsoft's next-generation console will require an constant internet connection to play games, according to Game Informer.

In a following Tweet, Orth suggested that people upset at the idea "deal with it," according to Polygon.

Microsoft declined to comment on Orth's alleged departure when reached Wednesday, according to Polygon.

The company, however, issued a public statement last week apologizing for "inappropriate comments made by an employee" claiming that Orth's tweets did not represent the views of the company, Game Informer reports.

Analysis: Numbers

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Source: Star Tribune

In this article, the reporter is providing information on Sanford Health and Fairveiw Health Services, two companies involved in a potential merger. The reporter uses extensive use of numbers to describe aspects of the two companies, comparing and contrasting them.

The article includes many different figures, such as a count of the number of clinics Sanford Health operates, the revenue of both companies, the percent of the market share that Fairview controls in the Twin Cities and a chronology of dates. A number of different figures, such as donations totaling $600 million that one man has donated to Sanford, and the $540 million price tag for a hospital Sanford is planning to build in Fargo, are thrown in to provide further background information.

For the most part, the reporter does not overburden his article with numbers. Each figure he provides is adequately explained with accompanying text, and plays a part in telling the story. It doesn't seem the reporter did significant data-crunching when writing the article. Most of the numbers in it are basic financial measurements.

The reporter fails to provide sources for many of his numbers. While this improves the flow of the article by cutting the clutter of citations, it does fail to provide the context of where the numbers are coming from. It is impossible to determine how the reporter put the article together ; whether he used multiple sources or only a few.

NASA plans to intercept asteroid

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NASA hopes to launch a robotic spaceship that will tow an asteroid to the moon, news sources report.

President Obama is putting aside $100 million to launch a mission to a small asteroid, tow it closer to the moon, and possibly send astronauts to explore it, Al Jazeera reports.

The mission would accomplish the president's challenge to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 in a more cost-effective and quicker time frame than other scenarios, NBC reports.

The mission would target an asteroid 7-10 meters wide in as soon as 2017, NBC reports. Once the object has been towed closer to Earth, it would take only a matter of days for astronauts to reach compared to a time span of months.

Scientists hope that the research will help develop strategies to intercept and divert asteroids on collision course with the Earth, according to Al Jazeera. A small asteroid blew up over rural Russia February, causing extensive damage.

Along with testing techniques for deflecting hostile asteroids, the mission would examine whether mining the space bodies could be done in the future, according to NBC.

Five did in Egyptian religious riots.

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Five Egyptians were killed and eight wounded in clashes between Christians and Muslims, new sources report.

Four Coptic Christians and one Muslim were killed when members of the polarized communities began fighting in El Khusus, a town north of the Egyptian capital, Reuters reports.

A Reuters reporter witnessed the aftermath of the clashes, which resulted in the burning of a Coptic day care center and an apartment inhabited by Muslims. Several shops belonging to Christian traders were also damaged.

Residnets said the violence broke out when a group of Christian children were discovered drawing on the wall of a Muslim religious institute, Al Jazeera reports.

Relgious leaders from both communities sought to calm and condemn the violence Saturday, Al Jazeera reports. Police increased security in El Khusus to head off further sectarian riots.

Violence between Egyptian Christians and the Muslim majority have increased since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 freed hard-line Islamist factions from to act out after years of being repressed, Reuters reports.

President Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood member, has promised to protect the rights of Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt's 84 million population, since he was elected in June last year, according to Al Jazeera.

North Korea moves mid-ranged missiles to coast

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North Korea has moved two medium-range missiles to its coast, news sources report.

Reports from South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Friday that the two missiles had been placed on mobile launchers, according to Al Jazeera. The United States has responded by strengthening its Pacific missile defenses.

The move by North Korea is only the latest in a series of provocative moves and rhetoric that has escalated tensions between it and South Korea and the United States, Al Jazeera reports.

The government of North Korea has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and tightened sanctions rolled out February in response to a internationally condemned nuclear test, according to Fox News.

The North Korean army warned the U.S. Wednesday that its military had been cleared to wage a nuclear attack on the country, Fox News reports. Despite the threat, analysts do not expect North Korea to go through with a attack which would lead to a destructive, suicidal war.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the communist country's behavior followed a regrettable, but familiar pattern of behavior, Al Jazeera reports.

University of Minnesota proposes Fairview Takeover

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University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler has proposed that the University of Minnesota should acquire Fairview Health Services, news sources report.

IKaler wrote in a January letter to Fairview interim CEO Charles Mooty that a union between the University and Fairview would be the "best choice for our patients and communities, our state, and our physicians, staff students," the Minnesota Daily reports.

Leaders of both organizations are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the proposal, according to MPR. Fairview is also negotiating a potential merger with health care giant, Sanford Health.

Kaler said in an email to University faculty and staff Thursday that the idea of the South Dakota based company taking over Fairveiw, which runs the University Medical center, "raises serious concerns for the University," according to the Minnesota Daily.

Concerns had been raised that possible Sanford-Fairview merger would compromise the university hospital's status as an academic and research institution, according to the Star Tribune.

Kaler said the U's proposal does not mean the merger between Sanford and Fairview cannot go through. He was scheduled to meet with Sanford officials this week, but cancelled due to an attorney general's inquiry and the Legislature returning from its spring break, the Star Tribune reports.

According to a statement released by Fairview last month, talks of Sanford acquisition are in "very early stages," though the Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson believes the talks are serious, as is the possibility of an out-of-state company gaining control of Fairview, the Minnesota Daily reports.

Augsburg College has received a gift of $10 million from a former student, news sources report.

The donation from the 1965 alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, is the largest in the school's history, according to the Pioneer Press.

The college announced Monday that the gift would further its plans to construct a new $60 million Center for Science, Business and Religion, the Star Tribune reports. The gift brings the school's collected funds for the project to $23 million.

Fundraising for the project began in 2008, when the country was in the midst of the Great Recession, according to the Star Tribune. After failing to raise the funds, the campaign re-emerged last year.

Augsburg's board of regents has tentatively set 2014 for the start of construction on the new facility, the Pioneer Press reports.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2013 is the previous archive.

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