March 2011 Archives

By Kelsey Lund

A Los Angeles Times reporter used numbers to tell the story of dropping birth rates in the U.S.

The reporter used a lot of numbers in the story, which was overwhelming at times for the reader. Although the numbers were limited to only one in each paragraph, every single paragraph had numbers. The story ended with bullet points containing more numbers.

The reporter could have made it easier to take in the story by adding other information about the numbers, possibly in terms of the actual babies born. The reporter also could have interviewed workers at a maternity ward about their take on the lowered rates to add some perspective to the numbers.

Most of the numbers in the story were put in terms of percentage points. The reporter compared the number of births per number of women once. Overall, the reporter could have used math to crunch the numbers and make them more effective by not just presenting them in terms of percents.

The source of the numbers is a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics--which is not attributed completely until the end of the story.

Police ruled Annandale man's death a homicide

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By Kelsey Lund

An Annandale man found dead in his home Sunday after a fire was a victim of homicide, police said Wednesday in the Star Tribune.

DeVan Hawkinson, 63, was found in his home by firefighters on Sunday afternoon, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Annandale police searched the house for evidence but have made no arrests, St. Cloud Times reported.

Police continue to investigate Hawkinson's death, and refused to say if the fire was suspicious, the Star Tribune said.

Missing Bronx Zoo cobra found

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By Kelsey Lund

A venomous Bronx Zoo Egyptian cobra missing for over a week was found on Thursday coiled in a corner of the Reptile House, ABC News reported.

The cobra's disappearance had closed the zoo's Reptile House since last Friday when zoo workers noticed it was missing, the Star Tribune said.

A zoo employee found the cobra and used special tongs to pick up the snake, ABC News reported.

Since its escape the cobra's fame spread to Twitter, where a person pretending to be the cobra sent fake updates to its nearly 200,000 followers, ABC News reported.

Zoo officials announced when the snake escaped that they knew it was in the Reptile House where they eventually found it, but searching for the snake was a difficult process, the Star Tribune said.

Sex offender captured

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By Kelsey Lund

A Level 3 sex offender who escaped a St. Paul halfway house last month was captured in Roseville on Wednesday, the Star Tribune reported.

Eugene Glaraton, 42, was arrested by the Department of Corrections' Fugitive Apprehension Unit at an apartment complex after the DOC received a tip concerning Glaraton's location, the Pioneer Press reported.

Glaraton was released from prison on Feb. 15, the Pioneer Press reported. He cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled from his halfway house on Feb.20, the Star Tribune said.

Glaraton was convicted of raping a 15-year-old boy in 1987, the Star Tribune reported.

Obama intends to cut oil imports by one-third

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By Kelsey Lund

President Obama called for a one-third slash in oil imports to the United States by 2021 on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Obama outlined a plan for increased gas and oil drilling in the U.S., higher standards for fuel efficient vehicles, and more biofuel options at a time when fuel prices have been rising, the Washington Times reported.

Critics of Obama's speech at Georgetown University said the president was not specific enough about his plan to make the necessary changes in Congress, the Washington Times reported.

Out of the nearly 20 million barrels a day the U.S. consumed in 2008, almost 11 million were imported, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Severe flooding in Thailand leaves at least 21 dead

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By Kelsey Lund

Thousands are stranded in Thai resorts because of floods in the southern part of the country that have already left at least 21 people dead, according to BBC.

Surat Thani, a southern province, received 34 inches of rain from Saturday to Wednesday, up from the 2 inches it normally receives in March, CNN reported.

The flash floods have affected over 716,000 people, CNN said.

The Thai navy evacuated 1,200 tourists vacationing on the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao, BBC reported.

About 13,000 tourists are stranded on the island of Koh Samui alone, where food and fuel rations are running out, BBC reported.

By Kelsey Lund

The obituary published on Tuesday in the New York Times for Frank Neuhauser, 97, took a more creative approach than the standard obituary format. It began with a lead introducing the winning word that Neuhauser spelled at the first National Spelling Bee in 1925.

From there it continued with its creative format, telling the story of Neuhauser's monumental win, and not until the sixth paragraph even stating that Neuhauser died.

I think the lead worked because it set the scene for Neuhauser's biggest accomplishment, an accomplishment he achieved at the age of 11. It grabbed the reader by introducing him/her to the most fascinating details of Neuhauser's life. Even though it did not exactly read like an obituary, it worked for the sake of telling Neuhauser's story.

The article cited Neuhauser's son as confirming his death, Neuhauser's own interviews with publications, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Most of the reporting was done about the spelling bee and the circumstances of Neuhauser's spelling career, and there were no quotes about his personality from family or friends.

Overall, the obituary was nothing like a resume because it only focuses on one part of Neuhauser's life--his experience with spelling bees. Although it briefly skates over Neuhauser's other accomplishments, its one focus is his spelling bee legacy. A resume would not go into the amount of detail of Neuhauser's legacy, nor the humanizing story of that portion of his life like his obituary did.

Supreme Court lessens sentence of convicted killer

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A convicted murderer's harsh prison sentence from stabbing his girlfriend while her 14-year-old son was present has been lessened because the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the case did not contain "aggravating factors" necessary for the longer sentence, the Star Tribune reported.

Raymond Clyde Robideau was originally sentenced to 38 years in prison by an Anoka County jury, over seven years longer than the standard sentence, due to the presence of a child and the cruelty of the crime, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Supreme Court decided that because the child did not literally see or hear the crime, the harsher sentence for aggravating factors was unwarranted, the Star Tribune said.

The 14-year-old boy was in a basement bedroom when his mother was stabbed by Robideau in their East Bethel home on Jan. 26, 2008, the Pioneer Press reported. He woke up the next morning to find his mother's dead body in her bedroom, the Pioneer Press said.

The Anoka County attorney's office may argue for a rehearing, the Pioneer Press reported.

Robideau's resentencing will take place in a few months, the Pioneer Press reported.

Myanmar hit by two earthquakes

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By Kelsey Lund

Two 7.0 magnitude earthquakes struck northeast Myanmar on Thursday, BBC reported.

The earthquakes were near the Thailand and Laos borders and were felt as far away as Bangkok, the New York Times reported.

The first earthquake was only 6.2 miles deep, having the potential to cause major damage, the New York Times said. However, no major damage has been reported yet, the New York Times reported.

The epicenter of the quakes was in a remote area with a low population, BBC reported.

Biden calls for increased college completion rates

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By Kelsey Lund

Vice President Joe Biden announced a plan on Tuesday to make the United States the global leader in college completion rates by 2020, Reuters reported.

During an education summit in Washington, Biden introduced a "college completion tool kit" offering ideas to help state governors improve their college graduation rates, providing financial incentives for colleges to do so, the Washington Post reported.

Biden offered seven strategies to increase post-secondary completion rates, emphasizing the need to concentrate on college completion instead of just high school completion for students, Reuters said.

The college completion tool kit offers ideas to make the transition from high school to college simpler by altering high school graduation standards to align with college entrance standards, Reuters reported.

The United States is tied for ninth place in the world for college graduation rates, the Washington Post reported. In order to reach number one, the U.S. would have to increase its completion rate by 50 percent, or 8 million more students, the Washington Post reported.

Child run over by mom in parking lot dies

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By Kelsey Lund

A 1-year-old boy died Monday after being run over by his mother in a parking lot in Stillwater last week, the Star Tribune reported.

The boy was in a stroller when the Wisconsin woman placed her toddler daughter in the car and drove out of the parking lot at the Stillwater Medical Group Clinic, running over the stroller, the Pioneer Press said.

The boy was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where he died Monday night, the Star Tribune reported.

"It's just a terrible, tragic accident," Stillwater police chief John Gannaway said in te Pioneer Press Tuesday.

Pawlenty enters race for president

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By Kelsey Lund

The former governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, became the first candidate to begin a bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination on Monday, the Washington Post reported.

Pawlenty, 50, announced he was building an exploratory committee over a two-minute video posted on Facebook, the New York Times said.

Pawlenty has been preparing for this step for months by visiting early-voting states to garner support, the New York Times reported.

The former governer is not well known nationally, and has struggled to stand out among some of his more famous Republican counterparts, the Washington Post reported.

Pawlenty's aides said he will try to differentiate himself from his opponents as a mediator between fiscal and social conservatives, the Washington Post reported.

By Kelsey Lund

The devastation facing Japan after an earthquake and tsunami struck is the most challenging since World War II, Prime Minister Naoto Kan of Japan said Sunday in the Los Angeles Times.

Japan was hit by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake Friday, which caused a 33-foot tsunami and a nuclear explosion when the cooling system housing a reactor failed, the Times of India reported.

"The current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years," Kan said in the Los Angeles Times, calling for the Japanese people to unite and overcome this crisis.

More than 10,000 people in the northeast coast of Japan alone are speculated dead, the Times of India said.

Rescuers have saved 12,000 people, and 100,000 soldiers were deployed to assist in the rescue process, Kan said in the Los Angeles Times.

Egyptian women's rights protest turned violent

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By Kelsey Lund

Hundreds of Egyptian women protested for equal rights in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, and were shoved and shouted at by crowds of men, the Associated Press reported.

The pro-women demonstrators were celebrating International Women's Day, marching against sexual harassment and patriarchal control in Egypt, CNN International reported.

"Men are men and women are women and that will never change and go home, that's where you belong," some of the men shouted at the demonstrators, according to CNN International.

Some of the men verbally abused, groped, and beat the protesters, eventually chasing them out of Tahrir Square, the AP reported.

"I thought we were going to be celebrated as women of the revolution because we were present during the days of Tahrir," Passant Rabie, 23, said in the AP. "Unless women are included now, we are going to be oppressed."

Driver to serve staggered jail time for 10 years

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By Kelsey Lund

An Eagan man will serve 30 days in jail every year for the next decade to mark the anniversary of a car crash he caused that killed his friend, the Pioneer Press reported.

Matthew R. Willis, 26, was given the staggered sentence on Monday for a car crash in 2008 when Willis was speeding on Hwy 3 and crossed lanes into an oncoming car, the Star Tribune said.

The passenger in Willis' car, Eric M. Nardini, died, the Star Tribune said. The two women in the oncoming SUV, Lynn M. Johnson and Pamela A. Donovan, sustained serious injuries, the Star Tribune reported.

"We argued that this was intentional thrill-seeking behavior that claimed one life and almost claimed two others," County Attorney James Backstrom said in the Star Tribune.

District Judge Kathryn Messerich sentenced Willis to immediately serve 60 days in jail, and serve 30 days in jail every May 10 from 2012 to 2021, the Pioneer Press reported. Messerich said the sentence will continually remind Willis of the crime he committed, the Pioneer Press said.

By Kelsey Lund

Hundreds of school leaders attended the first statewide bullying summit in Minneapolis on Monday to address the growing seriousness of bullying in schools, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

"We're starting to see a shift," Sue Thomas, an anti-bullying expert for Hazelden, a Minnesota treatment center, said in the Star Tribune. "We're getting to the point where we're really recognizing that kids have a fundamental right to feel safe at school."

The summit addressed research concerning where bullying occurs and what types of bullying happen most often, MPR reported.

Schools were encouraged by presenters to make bullying prevention a priority, MPR said.

"The reason why schools need to own the problem, as it exists in their school, is because it impedes the purpose of a school, which is for children to learn," said Nancy Riestenberg, from the Minnesota Department of Education, according to MPR.

The event was expected to draw 200 school leaders, but instead brought over 400 interested people, moving the event to a larger venue, the Star Tribune reported.

Due to the increasing interest in preventing bullying in schools, organizers are planning a fall summit as well, the Star Tribune reported.

By Kelsey Lund

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denied Senate Democrats' request to meet near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to negotiate the bill threatening public workers' collective bargaining rights, CNN reported.

Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to Walker requesting to meet at the state border and "formally resume serious discussions as soon as possible" with him and the 13 other Democrats who fled to Illinois more than two weeks ago to stall the bill, the New York Times reported.

Walker said the letter was "ridiculous," according to CNN.

Talks were held last week signifying the possibility of a compromise between the Senate's Democrats and Republicans, the New York Times said. Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican majority leader in the senate, met with some of the Democrats in what he said were productive meetings, CNN reported. Although, Fitzgerald said their progress was repeatedly coupled with setbacks, CNN reported.

Senate Republicans approved measures to fine the Democrats $100 daily until they return, as well as authorized to have police arrest the Senate Democrats if seen in Wisconsin, the New York Times reported.

By Kelsey Lund

The Los Angeles Times used a press release and telephone conference from the Food and Drug Administration to form its story on Wednesday about the 500 unapproved drugs the FDA pulled off the market for safety reasons.

Although the reporter used a few of the facts and parts of quotes from the FDA press release to inform the article, for the most part he structured his article differently than the press release.

Most of the information was quoted from sources the reporter probably had to seek out himself. He quoted a pharmacist from the American Pharmacists Assn. The reporter also used direct quotes from the conference, instead of quoting the same basic facts provided in the press release.

The reporter chose to form the story his own way, rather than forming it along the lines of the press release. He made it clear that while the FDA deemed the removing of these products necessary for health reasons, any actual negative results from the drugs was unproven--something the press release did not detail.

Overall, the reporter maintained a neutral stance concerning the FDA's actions, and mostly relied on his own reporting to craft the story--choosing to use the press release as background to gather further information directly, possibly to avoid any public relations spin. The reporter chose to go beyond what the press release provided for the story to create a more balanced news report.

Accused drunken mom crashed, injuring her children

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By Kelsey Lund

A Rochester woman was charged for alleged drunken driving in southern Dakota County where she crashed her car, injuring four of her five kids on Monday, the Star Tribune reported.

Kyra Larae Lindsey, 30, crashed her car into the median near County Road 86 around 2:45 a.m., the Pioneer Press reported.

Her children, ages 3 months to 9 years, and Lindsey were taken by ambulance to the Cannon Falls Hospital, the Pioneer Press said.

Lindsey was charged with one count of child endangerment, one count of drunken driving and four counts of criminal vehicular operation on Wednesday, the Pioneer Press said.

Lindsey appeared in court Wednesday, and her next court date was scheduled for April 4, the Pioneer Press reported.

By Kelsey Lund

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 on Wednesday that protesting at military funerals was a constitutional right of free speech, BBC reported.

Albert Snyder sued the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. in 2006 after they picketed at his son's funeral to draw attention to their belief that God was punishing U.S. soldiers because the country was tolerating homosexuality, the Associated Press reported.

The Supreme Court took the case after its appeals, and ruled "to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, according to BBC.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone judge ruling in favor of Snyder, said the church could have demonstrated their beliefs in a different way, the AP said.

"It does not follow, however, that they may intentionally inflict severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity by launching vicious verbal attacks that make no contribution to public debate," Alito wrote, according to the AP.

Snyder won $5 million at his first trial when he sued the church for intentionally inflicting emotional distress, but the federal appeals court in Virginia and then the Supreme Court, threw out this judgment, BBC said.

Woman survives 100 mph ride on minivan hood

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By Kelsey Lund

A California woman clung to a windshield wiper blade on the hood of a minivan that reached 100 mph on Saturday, the Star Tribune said.

Christopher Michael Carroll, 36, drove 35 miles along a Northern California freeway in the middle of night with his wife on the hood, after fighting with her over his alleged drug abuse, ABC News reported.

"She kind of goes with the van to try to stop him, gets up on the hood and is hanging on to the wiper blade," police spokesman Rex Osborn said in the Star Tribune. "She obviously didn't think he would keep driving."

Carroll was charged Wednesday for attempted murder, kidnapping and domestic assault, the Star Tribune said.

Three callers contacted the police after seeing the woman on the car, ABC News said. When Carroll slowed down, a car following the two picked up the woman and brought her to the hospital, ABC News said.

The woman said she barely held on. "I was holding on literally by the tips of my fingers and basically my ankles," she said to ABC News.

By Kelsey Lund

Pirates seized a sailing boat in the Indian Ocean with four Danish adults and three children aboard on Thursday, Denmark's government confirmed Monday in the Associated Press.

The Danish couple, their children, and two Danish crew members sent out a distress signal Thursday, and their ship was confirmed hijacked by the Danish foreign ministry Monday, BBC said.

The three children, aged 12-16, are the first known children seized by pirates, the AP said.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said the Danish government was doing "everything in our power" to help the hostages, BBC said.

The pirates were said to be sailing to Somalia, BBC said.

Somali pirates recently killed four Americans earlier in February when the US Navy tried to rescue them, BBC said.

Man shoots himself in St. Anthony police parking lot

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By Kelsey Lund

A 70-year-old man shot himself in the chest with a shotgun in the St. Anthony Police Department parking lot Tuesday morning, police said in the Star Tribune.

Robert Hockert drove an SUV into the parking lot on Silver Lake Road at 8:40 a.m. and parked before shooting himself in the chest, John Ohl, St. Anthony police chief said in the Pioneer Press.

Hockert, who recently moved to Brooklyn Park, was taken into surgery at the Hennepin County Medical Center, and was said to have survived the gunshot, Ohl said in the Pioneer Press.

A passerby saw Hockert on the ground in the parking lot and called 911, the Star Tribune said. No one in the Police Department heard the shot, Ohl said in the Star Tribune.

Hockert's nephew said Hockert is married with children, according to the Pioneer Press.

"It was very unexpected. We don't know why," the nephew, who asked not to be identified, said in the Pioneer Press.

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