December 2012 Archives

After spending 25 years in the force, Janee Harteau will take over for Tim Dolan as Minneapolis' new police chief. Harteau also stands as the first female, openly-gay police chief, according to the Star Tribune.

Though Dolan retired in November, Harteau will be officially sworn in on Tuesday, December 4. According to the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, "The council voted 11-0 to confirm Harteau, 48, after council members and Mayor R.T. Rybak gushed praise for the new chief."

Rybak is excited about the newly-appointed police chief and believes she brings a wealth of knowledge to the position, in addition to ideas for change. "I think it's important to point out that we have a chief who's coming in who at one time had complaints about this department and how it treated women," Rybak told the Star Tribune. "And I think that's an important value to be bringing to the table. Because in the top job, that top cop can also see when things aren't going right."

Though Harteau's new position marks a monumental time for the force, Harteau didn't see it as incredibly significant. "For others it might be," Harteau told the Star Tribune. "And if I can be a role model ... I want people to see that you can achieve things despite some obstacles in your way. I stand on my merits on how I got here. I've been given tremendous opportunity." Harteau and her partner, Holly Keegel, also a Minneapolis police officer shared a squad car in their earlier years and also wrote two small books on safety issues.

In a news conference following the vote, Harteau explained that some of her first priorities involve structural and personnel changes in the department. She also intends to review the department's "use of force" policies, which detail the levels and types of force officers can use in various situations, according to the Star Tribune.

Analysis: The dark side of elephant captivity

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In an article written by the Seattle Times, the author digs deep into the issue of elephant captivity by using several graphics, video, photo gallery and written pieces to further highlight why this is an issue.

The first written piece is titled "Elephants are dying out in America's zoos" written by Michael J. Berens. This pieces showcases different factors in keeping elephants in captivity, especially with their use in zoos. The piece includes photographs of elephants in captivity, one that shows the artificial insemination into a 33-year-old elephant to reproduce more elephants for zoos. Berens' utilization of photographs and why the photograph is significant in the issue of elephant captivity add to the story's pertinence and urges the reader to take action.

The article also features an 8-minute-long video featuring Chai, the 33-year-old elephant who has been artificially inseminated over 100 times. The video also uses a graphic to show the elephant deaths in zoos over the past 30 years. Another graphic is used in the video to show how the elephants are in bred to keep more elephants on exhibit at zoos -- for the pure enjoyment of human entertainment.

Records and data used in the story are provided by the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle featuring several elephant breeding programs and artificial insemination, giving the story more credibility and providing more information for interested readers.

To report the story, the reporter used photography, video, and several graphics that may have been created on PhotoShop or InDesign. By using these graphics, the news organization effectively engaged the reader by providing facts and important details in an interesting format. Reading numbers and data on a page can be dull and lifeless, but using graphics added color and emotion to the story.

SeaWorld defends staff after dolphin bites girl

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SeaWorld Orlando has been under fire lately over their protocol and control of staff after an incident that occurred on Nov. 21. After being bit by a dolphin when trying to feed it fish, the young girl had to ask for First-Aid without it being provided immediately, according to USA Today.

Jillian Thomas, an 8-year-old girl from Alpharetta, Georgia was at SeaWorld Orlando feeding dolphins with her family when a dolphin lunged at the fish she held, puncturing her hand. "I was thinking it was going to haul me into the water," she told CNN. "And this is a little crazy, but I thought it was ... going to eat my hand off."

The girl's father, Jamie Thomas, was with her at the time of the incident and described the moment as "instant fear." Initially, he thought he would have to dive in and save his daughter because SeaWorld employees were not intervening immediately. Finally, "they asked if she wanted first aid, and I said 'she's bleeding' so yes, we want first aid," Jamie said.

A video taken at the time of the incident was posted on YouTube and immediately went viral, tarnishing the SeaWorld name for their lack of proper protocol. In defense, SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said on-site "educators and animal care staff ... immediately connected with the family. In addition, a member of our health services team was in the area at Dolphin Cove and quickly responded and treated the young girl," according to CNN.

However, the damage was not yet done. Jamie Thomas continued to complain that SeaWorld employees did not warn them or other visitors that the dolphins may bite. "We felt powerless," Jamie Thomas told CNN, in explanation for why he put up the YouTube video. "We thought, look, we've got this video, let's make it public, and let's try to put some pressure on SeaWorld to make some changes."

SeaWorld spokeswoman, Becca Bides again apologized on behalf of the company, stating, "Our guests are given clear instructions on how to feed the dolphins in an appropriate and safe way," Bides said. "... Unfortunately, there are times when instructions are not followed."

The linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs had played every game since 2009, becoming a starter after starting off as an undrafted free agent after college. His successful career with the Chiefs came to a haulting stop on Saturday when he killed his girlfriend and then turned the gun on himself, according to CNN.

Jovan Belcher, 25, killed his girlfriend Saturday, with suspicion that the couple had been fighting. His girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, left behind a 3-month-old daughter when she died at 7:50 a.m. Saturday, according to FOX Sports. After officers were called to Perkins' house, police found her wounded on the master bedroom floor, with several gunshot wounds. She died a short time after.

After killing his girlfriend, Belcher drove five miles to Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs play. There, Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel "for all they'd done for him," while holding a gun to his head, according to FOX Sports. Police arrived on the scene at 8 a.m. ''As they approached, a subject later identified as Jovan Belcher, observed their presence and moved to an area behind a vehicle,'' the police report said. ''From that position Belcher shot himself one time in the head.''

The devastating incident comes as a shock to team players and coaches alike. "I am devastated and heart broken," wrote Jeff Allen, a Kansas City player on his Twitter, according to CNN. "I'm sending prayers to everyone involved. Always show love and never be afraid to talk."

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton announced Monday that they are expecting their first child. St. Jame's Palace confirmed the pregnancy and that the Duchess is currently in the hospital for a severe form of morning sickness, according to an article by the Associated Press, published by the Star Tribune.

The morning sickness condition, formally known as hyperemesis gravidarum, typically doesn't endanger the mother, but can be pretty miserable, says Kecia Gaither, director of maternal fetal medicine at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. In the article by USA Today George Macones, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Washington University in St. Louis and a spokesman for the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology explained that "less than 1% of all pregnant women are hospitalized for vomiting."

However, if the sickness persists for more than 24 hours, women should call their doctors. Due to the frequent nausea, expecting mothers can become easily dehydrated from this condition. While in the hospital, doctors are able to administer intravenous fluids to the expecting mothers, "as well as anti-nausea medications, such as vitamin B6, a drug called Zofran or others," Macones says. The condition is thought to affect one in every 200 mothers, according to the Star Tribune.

The child will be the first for the royal couple and is considered the most widely anticipated pregnancy since Princess Diana's 1981 pregnancy. Though the palace would not reveal exactly how far along the Duchess is, they did confirm that she has not yet reached the 12-week mark, according to the Star Tribune.

The Duchess will be treated and have plenty of rest to overcome the condition. It should not affect the health of her expected child. "The best advice for anyone suffering from (severe morning sickness) is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluid," Dr. Daghni Rajasingam, a spokeswoman for Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said in a statement. "The condition usually subsides by week 12 of the pregnancy and with early diagnosis and treatment, there is no reason why we shouldn't expect a healthy pregnancy."

The Hudson, Wisconsin man who was charged for the murder of his three daughters in July appeared in court Monday as his defense attorney asked to suppress any statements that may have occurred after he turned himself in, according to the Star Tribune.

Aaron Schaffhausen, a 35-year-old carpenter from Minot, N.D., was arrested on charges of the murder of his three daughters on July 10 at the River Falls, Wisc. home of his ex-wife. Schaffhausen went to his ex-wife's home to visit his daughters in July and after their babysitter left for the day, Schaffhausen brutally murdered his three young daughters in their beds. According to the Star Tribune, "[Schaffhausen] is charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and arson after authorities also found a gas fireplace turned on and gasoline poured in the basement."

In court on Monday, Schaffhausen's defense attorney, John Kucinski tried to suppress statements made by Schaffhausen after turning himself in in July. In question is the 3 1/2 hour tape of Schaffhausen's interrogation and whether it will be admissable for the trial. The tape was not reviewed at the hearing and may not be reviewed at the trial set for April, either, if the court decides to suppress the statements made by Schaffhausen, including the 911 call and the Schaffhausen's interrogration, according to Kare 11.

"I'm not too sure they can convict him of anything," defense attorney John Kucinski said outside the courtroom during the noon break in response to reporters' questions, according to the Star Tribune. The hearing held Monday at the St. Croix County Circuit focused on Schaffhausen's knowledge of the Miranda rights and the fact that he has been read them before in previous cases in 1991 and 1992.

According to the complaint filed on July 12, 2012, Schaffhausen called his ex-wife and asked to see his daugthers while she was at work because he was in the area. When he arrived at the River Falls home, the babysitter led him upstairs to play with the girls. Shortly after, Schaffhausen's ex-wife received a call from him saying, "You can come home now, because I killed the kids."

Schaffhausen faces the possibility of life in prison for each intentional charge.

Mankato coach cleared of child pornography charges

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Allegations of child pornography had taken over Todd Hoffner's life for the past few months after officials found recorded videos of his naked children on his phone. However, today marks the end of a nightmare for the Minnesota State University-Mankato football head coach, who has been cleared of all possible charges, according to the Star Tribune.

The judge who ruled against the charges Friday claimed that the videos show nothing more than naked children dancing after a bath. According to the Huffington Post, "Hoffner testified earlier that his three young children asked him to videotape a skit they had concocted after taking a bubble bath. His wife has defended him, as have supporters who even held candlelight vigils on his behalf."

The scandal began when Hoffner turned his cellphone in to get fixed and IT workers discovered the videos. "Subsequent searches of his home computers and video equipment, interviews with his children, and investigations into cell and computer records at other colleges where he had coached turned up nothing to support the charges," the Star Tribune said.

Tom Hoffner watched his undefeated team win 17-10 against Missouri Western Saturday from a computer at home and is ready to get back on the field. According to the Huffington Post, "Hoffner's fifth year as head football coach at the school, where he had a 34-13 record. He led the Mavericks to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009, and a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference title in 2011. He was named NSIC coach of the year in 2009."

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