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

February 2013 Archives

Global warming issues and government involvement

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Global warming has become a larger problem over the years, and many U of M students believe the government plays a key role in tackling these problems.

Reports show that 2012 was the hottest year on record for more than a century, the Washington Post said. Date provides evidence that human actions are contributing to change in climate, the Washington Post said.


What is global warming? And what causes it?

Global warming is an increase in atmospheric and oceanic temperatures resulting in an increase of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effects are greenhouse gases emitted by humans. Students believe emissions from fossil fuels and methane, along with over-consumption are the largest factors that negatively effect global warming. According to the National Geographic the major greenhouse gases are:

  • combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production

  • the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2)

  • methane released from landfills and agriculture


Who is ultimately responsible?

"Society as a whole is responsible, everyone contributes to it and nobody seems to really be trying to stop it," U of M student Violet Lane said. Students say a combination of the government and citizens are the most responsible for these actions. They believe citizens are responsible for running the factories, the farms, the landfills and many other things that contribute to global warming. However, the government is also responsible for enforcing policies that control factors effecting global warming, and they have the power to make big changes.


What should the government do?

Students believe that the government needs to find alternative energy sources, cut back on non-renewable sources, only allow production of hybrid cars and increase initiatives to reward eco-friendly products and services. "The government needs to form a committee to inform citizens what they can do to lower their CO2 and methanol admissions," U of M student Nicole Jensen said. The Public Policy of California shows that adults' ideas on what the government should do our similar to the students views.

"If climate change and depletion of resources continue, it will put citizens and the environment in a worse condition," U of M student Luke Lambert said.

Nineteen tourists were killed when a hot air balloon caught on fire and crashed to the ground in Egypt Tuesday.

The hot air balloon was carrying tourists on a sunrise flight over Luxor, an ancient city in Egypt. All of a sudden the hot air balloon started smoking and caught on fire, causing the balloon to fall about 1,000 feet before crashing to the ground, the Washington Post said.

"A farmer watched helplessly as tourists trying to escape the blazing gondola leaped to their deaths," the Washington Post said.

The nineteen tourists that were killed consisted of nine Chinese, four Japanese, two French, one Briton and one Hungarian, said The New York Times said. The only two survivors were a British tourist and the Egyptian pilot, who was badly burned, the Washington Post said.

This appears to be the deadliest hot air balloon accident on record, the Washington Post said. The accident has also led to accusations that authorities have let safety standards slip due to recent political turmoil, the Washington Post said.

The tragedy has raised concern among the nation on the effects it will have on the tourism industry, a vital industry for Egypt, the Washington Post said. The tourism industry had just started to pick up again, after recovering from the nation's unrest from the 2011 revolution, the Washington Post said. The tourism industry had also been greatly affected after the 1997 massacre of 58 tourists by Islamist Militants, The New York Times said.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation and hot air balloon flights have been suspended, said The New York Times and the Washington Post.

Cuba's president announces his new term as his last

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Cuban President Raúl Castro announced Sunday that his new term would be his last, which will conclude in 2018.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez was selected as Castro's top vice president Sunday. His selection puts Díaz-Canel as front-runner of succession. Díaz-Canel, 52, is a former minister of higher education.

Sunday was the first time an expiration has been put on the Castro era, the Los Angeles Times said. Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro's brother, ruled from 1959 until 2006, when his brother took over. Fidel Castro even made a rare public appearance to hear his brother's speech.

However, President Castro's following announcement was more surprising. Castro says he hopes to establish term limits and age caps for political offices, The New York Times said. The political offices also include presidency, which is a surprise since a Castro has ruled for over a half a century.

Castro's selection of a younger vice president is the first time a younger generation has been in the front line of succession.

"The island is now a heartbeat away from being ruled by a person who did not fight in the revolution that brought the Communists to power," The New York Times said.

Analysis: Daytona NASCAR race injures several fans

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A news story about a NASCAR crash on Saturday was updated on Sunday. The leads for each story were very different. The lead on the first day consisted of breaking news about the injured fans and totaled race car. The lead was very vivid and dramatic. The lead in the updated story is more mellow it starts with a statement saying the fence has been replaced in time for NASCAR's biggest race and then mentions that fans were killed the previous day. The fact that several fans were injured seems less important in the updated story, possibly because the newspaper is assuming that many people already know about the injuries.

The news in the first story has the basic and important facts. Information about the injured fans and their condition was in the first paragraph. The following paragraphs consisted of information about how the crash happened and damage to the car. The story concluded with quotes from spectators and officials. The updated story gives more detailed information on the reconstruction of the fence and information about the crash. Information about the injured fans is located in the middle of the story.

Therefore, what was considered most important and newsworthy in the first article became less important and a lot less newsworthy in the updated article. A lot of the information from the first article is the same in the updated article, but the updated article had information added to it. For example it has information about the reconstruction of the fence. The information in the updated article is more concise and gets rid of information that doesn't add anything to the article.

Daytona NASCAR crash injures several fans

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At least 33 Daytona NASCAR fans were injured when a car crash sent debris flying into the stands, the Wall Street Journal said.

Nineteen fans were taken to local hospitals and 14 were treated on site, the Wall Street Journal said. Two of the fans who arrived in critical condition are now in stable condition, the Wall Street Journal said.

The crash happened on the final lap near the finish line when multiple cars collided, sending Kyle Larson's car into the fence, the Chicago Tribune said.

Large chunks from the Larson's car went flying into the stands, the front end of the car was sheared off and the engine caught fire, the Wall Street Journal said.

The race, a prelude for the Daytona 500, took place at Daytona International Speedway.

MnPass lanes approved by Saint Paul City Council

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Saint Paul City Council approved plans to add carpool lanes on Interstate 35E from Saint Paul to Maplewood and Little Canada.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation MnPass lanes would run from Pennsylvania Avenue to Little Canada Road. The construction would be expected to start in 2014 and end in 2015, the Pioneer Press said. The project proposal is waiting for further approval.

The express lanes will be free for bus riders and cars with two or more people. Single drivers can use them for a fee during rush hours, the Star Tribune said.

The project is expected to cost over $100 million, the Star Tribune said.

MnDOT officials believe it is an important connection between downtown Saint Paul and the northern suburbs, the Pioneer Press said. Reconstruction of the pavement between Maryland Avenue and Little Canada Road would also be a part of the project, along with a few bridges over I-35 East, the Pioneer Press said.

An estimated 53 deaths and 235 injuries were caused by an explosion of a car bomb in Damascus, the capital city of Syria Thursday.

The blast exploded near the downtown headquarters of the president's governing party and the Russian Embassy, the New York Times said. It wasn't clear if either of the buildings were targeted.

The victims were mostly pedestrians, schoolchildren and motorists, the Los Angeles Times said. The blast also damaged a nearby hospital and school, the Los Angeles Times said.

Outside experts believe the bombing was carried out by militant extremists among the rebels to show that the government's security is weak, the New York Times said.

This attack was one of the most deadly in Damascus since the rebellion began in March 2011, the Los Angeles Times said.

Witnesses told the New York Times that the explosion "shook the neighborhood like an earthquake," the New York Times said.

A football coach at Hill-Murray High School was arrested with 22 others during a prostitute sting Tuesday.

Coach Mark Mauer, 54, of Woodbury was arrested in Fridley and charged with a misdemeanor of soliciting prostitution, the Pioneer Press said.

"The sting was staged by undercover officers pretending to buy or sell sex via online sites," the Pioneer Press said.

Eighteen other men and four women were arrested in the two-day sting at LivINN Hotel on Central Avenue NE, the Star Tribune said. All the men have been charged with soliciting sex from a prostitute and the women with prostitution.

This was Mauer's first year coaching football at Hill-Murray, a private Catholic prep school in Maplewood. Mauer was a former coach at Concordia University of St. Paul. He was also a St. Paul City Council member for a brief time.

A young Kansas City woman was killed in a gas explosion at a popular restaurant Tuesday.

The explosion triggered a fire and blew out windows of nearby buildings, leaving one woman dead and 15 injured. The woman's identity has not been released.

Three of the injured are in critical condition and three others are in serious condition at area hospitals, the Chicago Tribune said.

A contractor was drilling in the ground near J.J.'s restaurant and hit a pipe, the Chicago Tribune said.

Throughout the day many people in the surrounding area complained of a strong gas smell, the New York Times said.

The leak in the pipe had allowed gas to build up around the restaurant. The gas in the air was ignited in the restaurant engulfing the building in flames, as crews were trying to fix the pipe outside, the Chicago Tribune said. The source of the ignition is still unclear.

Analysis: Cruise ship accident kills five

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The story starts off with a lead consisting of the what, where, why and a general who. The lead gives the reader a clear concise overview of the incident.

The first fact block states that none of the passengers were hurt, which is one of the first questions the reader probably wonders. The next paragraph talks about the crewmen being rescued, followed by the cruise line stating that the three injured did not suffer serious injuries. Then there is a little background info given about the ship docking followed by an explanation of how and why crewmen were killed and injured. The second to last paragraph states the ethnicities of the five killed and which hospital the injured were taken to. The final paragraph is the least important and states information about cancelled festivities.

The most important information that readers would be concerned about is located towards the beginning of the story. The paragraphs near the end have less importance or explain in more detail what was stated in the lead. Writing in this fashion is effective because you answer the reader's questions as they continue onto each paragraph. If you didn't state the most important facts and information at the beginning the reader would have lingering questions distracting them from the story. Lingering questions would eventually annoy and bore the reader, in which case they probably wouldn't finish the story.

The only thing I would have changed about the placement of paragraphs is where the how and why paragraph is located. This paragraph was placed sixth under the lead (out of nine paragraphs). Even though a brief piece of information about the why is given in the lead, I think the importance of this paragraph requires it to be further up in the story.

Meteor explodes in Russia injuring several

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A large meteor exploded in Chelyabinsk, Russia sending a shockwave that shattered windows and injured about 1,200 people Thursday.

Most of the reported injuries were caused by broken glass, the Los Angeles Times said. 40 people remained in the hospital Saturday out of the 1,200 people who sought medical treatment for their injuries, the Washington Post said.

"The meteor, traveling at about 40,000 mph, unleashed the energy of 20 Hiroshima-size bombs as it detonated in the atmosphere," the Washington Post said.

Drivers observed burning streaks that lit up the sky, the Los Angeles Times said.

About 200,000 police and emergency workers have begun to try and get the city and region cleaned up, the Washington Post said.

The governor estimated the total damage to be about $33 million, but many officials believe the number will increase. He also announced that 200,000 square meters of glass needed to be replaced, which is about 50 acres worth, the Washington Post said.

Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister, pushed for implementation of a system that would protect against future meteors, asteroids and comets and their sonic booms, the Washington Post said.

Man slaps crying 2-year-old on plane

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A 60-year-old man is being charged for allegedly slapping a crying toddler and uttering a racial slur on a plane from Minneapolis to Atlanta, the Star Tribune said.

Joe Hundley from Idaho allegedly slapped and uttered a racial slur at the son of a Minneapolis woman sitting next to him.

Hundley has been charged with simple assault. Hundley's attorney, Marcia Shein, said he is pleading not guilty to the charge, the Star Tribune said.

The toddler's mother, Jessica Bennett, said her son was crying from the change in pressure and she was trying to calm him down, the Star Tribune said.

Several passengers assisted Bennett after they heard derogatory language used, the Pioneer Press said.

Jesse Jackson Jr. charged with misusing campaign funds

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Former U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. was charged with conspiracy for allegedly misusing $750,000 in campaign funds Friday.

Jackson Jr. is alleged to have spent the $750,000 on personal items such as expensive watches, clothing and collectibles, The Washington Post said.. Also, the government has alleged him of making false statements to the House of Representatives for not reporting loans and gifts he received.

Jackson Jr. has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sandi Jackson, Jackson Jr.'s wife, has allegedly understated their income on tax returns for the past six years, the Chicago Tribune said. She faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Both Jackson Jr. and his wife plan to plead guilty to the charges and have apologized for their mistakes, the Chicago Tribune said.

A food fight erupted at Minneapolis South High school Thursday which escalated into a brawl involving hundreds of student and injuring several.

Staff called the police to break up a fight consisting of more than 200 students, which forced the school into a partial lockdown, the Los Angeles Times said.

When the police arrived they demanded the students to disperse. When the students did not listen, the officers sprayed mace in the air causing students to flee from the area, the Los Angeles Times said.

One staff member and three students were taken to the hospital for medical attention.

Although school district officials said they did not know what sparked the fight, parents and students believe it is the increasing racial tensions between Somali-American students and the others, the Star Tribune said.

Officers will review the surveillance cameras and charges will be filed from there, the Los Angeles Times said.

Cruise ship accident in Spain kills five

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Five crew members died during a lifeboat safety drill on a cruise ship in Spain Sunday.

During a safety drill a lifeboat that was being used fell 65 feet into a port in the Canary Islands after a supporting cable snapped, The Wall Street Journal said.

The lifeboat capsized trapping eight crew members underneath. After an alarm was sounded, the captain called for divers to rescue the crew members; in the accident five were killed and three were injured and taken to a hospital in La Palma, The Miami Herald said.

Thompson Cruises confirmed that the three injured aboard the Thompson Majesty ship were not badly hurt, The Wall Street Journal said.

Analysis: Search continues for ex- LAPD cop

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The story "Mountain hunt for ex-LAPD cop enters 4th day" in The Seattle Times used a handful of sources. Some of these sources were named and a few remained unnamed.

The Seattle Times used six different sources. The sources named are the police chief, one of the captain's that was on the board who took away Dorner's badge, a store employee who found evidence from Dorner and online postings from Dorner. The two sources unnamed are a captain who was said to be a target of Dorner and law enforcement officers who had found evidence dealing with Dorner's disappearance.

The sources are scattered throughout the story. Each source goes with the fact block that it relates to. The sources are scattered throughout to help make the story flow better and to give credibility to different aspects of the story. All the information provided is given by people.

Most of the time when the reporter is attributing someone they introduce the person and then the following paragraph will be a direct quote from them. There are a few times when the reporter attributes a new person at the end of the quote with their title, but the quote still starts off the paragraph. When the reporter refers to the captain who is unnamed they explain that the captain is a target of the suspect.

I think this reporter's use of attribution is effective. When there are longer quotes the reporter introduces the person beforehand. If the quote is shorter the person is usually named after the quote. This allows the reader to know who is speaking, rather than making them guess. The way the reporter attributed the unnamed captain was effective by giving a short, clear and concise explanation as to why they weren't named.

The search for an ex- LAPD cop suspected of killing three people continues in the Big Bear Mountains of California.

Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD cop is suspected of hunting down LAPD officials and their families; he is suspected of killing three and wounding two, the Las Angeles Times said.

The search for Dorner continues on for the fourth day in the snow-covered mountains Sunday, The Seattle Times said.

Dorner disappeared one day after the LAPD chief ordered a review of the case that led to his dismissal. Dorner had made previous allegations about his career being undone by racist colleagues, The Seattle Times said.

Due to online threats that Dorner had allegedly made, police have provided protection to 50 families. Authorities believe that he has declared revenge against some of his former LAPD colleagues, blaming them for ending his career, The Seattle Times said.

Water main ruptures in downtown St. Paul

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An underground water main in downtown St. Paul broke Friday night sending 1.75 million gallons of water onto the streets.

The 61-year-old water main broke on Wall Street, causing the city to advise residents not to drink tap water until it was tested, the Pioneer Press said.

By Saturday afternoon the city had changed the advisory to a boil-water advisory after finding no harmful chemicals, the Pioneer Press said. The city issued the boil-water advisory for safety, which would kill any harmful bacteria present in the water. The city also put tons of salt down to prevent dangerous ice from forming along the streets.

However, not only were residents affected, restaurants in the area were affected as well. Certain menu items weren't able to be served due to the advisory, the Star Tribune said.

Construction crews drilled into the ground on Wall Street to start replacing the pipe Saturday. The reason for the rupture is still undetermined, the Star Tribune said.

Massive snow storm hits Northeast

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Many Northeasterners woke up Saturday to massive amounts of snow, after a snow storm hit Friday leaving some dead.

At least five deaths have been blamed on the snow storm, The Miami Herald said. In addition, about 650,000 homes and businesses lost electricity, with some who's electricity won't be restored for days.

Milford, Conn. got hit the hardest with 38 inches of snow followed by Portland, Maine with 31.9 inches, breaking their 1979 record. Other heavily affected areas include: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Along with the amount of snow being an issue there were winds up to 80 mph causing major drifts, The Washington Post said.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut issued travel bans to keep cars of the road. There were over 240 auto accidents and 90 motorists who were rescued in Connecticut, The Washington Post said.

Connecticut wasn't the only place were motorists were stranded; some Long Island motorists were stranded on highways overnight. Emergency workers used snowmobiles to reach stranded motorists because snowplows were getting stuck, The Washington Post said.

Unfortunately for those affected the snow storm didn't leave behind light fluffy snow, it left behind the wet heavy snow making it even harder to shovel.

British lawmakers voted in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage Tuesday.

The House of Commons votes totaled to 400 votes in favor of the bill and 175 votes against the bill. British Prime Minister David Cameron advocated for the bill, however more than half the lawmakers in his party voted against or abstained it, The New York Times said.

Although the bill was passed by the House of Commons the House of Lords need to approve it before it becomes law. In addition, the bill only applies to England and Wales.

If the bill is approved by the House of Lords it will allow same-sex couples to get married in civil and religious ceremonies, as long as the religious institution agrees. It will also allow couples who are currently in civil partnerships to convert to marriage. The bill is expected to take effect in 2015, the Washington Post said.

Religious institutions that do not agree with same-sex marriages can opt out and they will be protected from legal claims. Although some religious institutions may agree to same-sex marriages, the Church of England continues to prohibit same-sex weddings, reports the Washington Post.

A St. Paul man who disguised himself as a police officer was charged with burglary and false imprisonment Monday.

Morgan Wilson, 48, was arrested Saturday after handcuffing, assaulting and robbing multiple victims, said the Pioneer Press.

Wilson used his police disguise in three separate incidents. All incidents took place in the Summit University neighborhood, said the Pioneer Press.

The first incident took place Friday when Wilson knocked on a woman's door asking if her son was involved in a robbery. Wilson handcuffed the two men in the house, looked around and took off with a couple hundred dollars saying he was going to investigate if the money was stolen, reported the Star Tribune.

The second and third incidents took place Saturday. The second incident happened about two blocks from the first and involved two men standing outside when Wilson walked up identifying himself as police officer and demanding their IDs. When one of the men asked for his police ID Wilson grabbed him by his neck and the two men handed over their IDs. After briefly looking at the IDs Wilson handed them back and left, reported the Pioneer Press.

The third incident took place near the first two when Wilson knocked on a man's front door and demanded him to open the door. The man refused and called the police. When police arrived they tracked fresh footprints in the snow where they found Wilson nearby and arrested him, said the Star Tribune.

All victims identified Wilson as the disguised police officer, reported the Pioneer Press.

According to state records Wilson's has criminal records dated back to 1998. Charges consist of theft, burglary, fraud and forgery.

Analysis: U.S. tourist found dead in Istanbul

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The New York Times uses the lead, "A Staten Island woman who failed to return home from a vacation alone in Turkey last month, setting off a frantic search by American and Turkish authorities, was found dead on Saturday, according to her family and the Turkish authorities".

The lead is very informative, it contains the who, what, where and when. The who and where are stated generally. The lead doesn't specifically say who or where, but it gives enough information to pull in the reader. The what is bluntly stated and the why is not located in the lead.

Even though the lead is informative, it is very wordy. The reporter could have written a more clear and concise lead. The part about the woman failing to return home form vacation could've been taken out and put in the second paragraph.

The generality of the who and where in the lead work well in the story. It gives context right away to the story, but not too much detail where the read gets lost. The fact that a woman from the U.S. was found dead in another country is enough information to keep the reader's attention; it's something that isn't a frequent occurrence.

Two die after car goes through ice on Lake Minnetonka

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A man and an elderly woman from Maple Grove die Sunday after being rescued from a submerged car on Lake Minnetonka.

Police received a call from the man saying that his vehicle had broken through ice and was sinking, said the Pioneer Press.

First responders arrived within five minutes of the call and were found under the Hwy. 101 bridge. Both of them had spent less than an hour in the water before being rescued by the Hennepin County Sheriff's dive team, said the Pioneer Press. Both bodies were unconscious when pulled out of the water.

After being rescued the man was sent to Hennepin County Medical Center by helicopter and the elderly woman was sent to HCMC by ambulance, said the Star Tribune.

"This is the 14th car that has gone through the ice and the second and third deaths on Lake Minnetonka this year," said the Pioneer Press.

Helicopter crash kills Paraguayan presidential candidate

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A Paraguayan presidential candidate and two others were killed in a helicopter crash Sunday.

Presidential candidate Lino Oviedo, his bodyguard and pilot died in a helicopter crash after encountering bad weather. Oviedo was returning from a political rally, said the Miami Herald.

A citizen who lived near the area of the crash said they had heard an explosion and found the helicopter disintegrated, said the Washington Post.

Oviedo was running for leader of Paraguay's National Union of Ethical Citizens, the third-largest opposition party, said the Washington Post.

Oviedo had been an active member in the Paraguayan military. As a retired general and former army chief Oviedo was constantly involved in party politics and always trying to help control the nation, reports the Miami Herald.

A man from Indiana convicted of murder was put back in custody Saturday.

Steven Robbins, 44, was mistakenly released Wednesday from Cook County Jail in Chicago after Illinois officials lost paperwork directing them to return him to Indiana to continue serving his sentence, said The New York Times.

Robbins was convicted of muder in Indiana in 2004 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. He was brought to Chicago by Cook County deputies for a court appearance for a seperate case; a case that had been dismissed in 2007, said the Chicago Tribune. There is still confusion as to why Robbins had a court appearance for the old case when the case had already been dismissed five years ago.

Illinois officals found Robbins at a friends house about 60 miles away and put him back in custody Friday night. Officials were able to find him after knocking on Robbins' family and friend's doors asking for information regarding his location, said The New York Times.

The public was not informed of Robbins release until 24 hours later which has caused some controversy. Officials said this was due to the fact that they were trying to look in expected spots before Robbins realized they were looking for him, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The mistake of Robbins release is still being investigated to see where things went wrong. A spokesman for Cook County has apologized for the mistake, said the Chicago Tribune.

A smiliar issue occurred in 2009 at the same jail. A convicted sex offender from Mississippi serving a 30 year sentence was mistakenly released from Cook County Jail after charges were dropped against him in a seperate case, said the Chicago Tribune.

U.S. woman found dead while vacationing in Istanbul

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A Staten Island Woman vacationing in Istanbul was found dead by Turkish officials Saturday.

Sarai Sierra, 33, was reported missing on Jan. 21 after never returning home from her trip to Istanbul. Sierra was supposed to go with a friend to Istanbul to practice photography, but her friend was unable to make the trip so Sierra decided to go alone, said The New York Times.

The state run Anatolian Agency reported that they found her body near the ruins of an old city wall in Istanbul, said the Chicago Tribune

Throughout the entire trip Sierra stayed in constant contact with her husband, children and father. Her family never got the sense that something was wrong until she didn't arrive home as scheduled, said The New York Times.

Sierra also regularly posted new photos from each travel on Instagram; her last post was on Jan. 20.

Officials are still investigating the incident, said the Chicago Tribune.

About this Archive

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

January 2013 is the previous archive.

March 2013 is the next archive.

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