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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."

Former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized Thursday for bronchitis complications and is in stable condition, according to Washington Post.

"President Bush has been in and out of The Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center being treated for complications related to his bronchitis," Bush's office said in a statement released by the hospital. "He is in stable condition, and is expected to be released within the next 72 hours."

The former President, who is 88 years old, has been in and out of the hospital recently for a lingering cough and complications resulting from bronchitis. Bronchitis can become pneumonia at Bush's age, but according to Dr. Amy Myunderse, who is in charge of Bush's care, "Mr. Bush's condition never progressed to that level." Officials claim Bush's illness is non life-threatening.

Bush had been diagnosed with lower-body Parkinsonism in February, according to Reuters, "which causes a loss of balance, and that he often uses a wheelchair," The Houston Chronicle reported.

"They were able to successfully treat that piece of it, but he still has a lingering cough and that and the fact that's he's 88 - they're just being extra cautious and holding him until the cough gets better," Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath said.

In an Associated Press article published in the Star Tribune, author Matthew Daly covers vice president Joe Biden's speech at Costco, in which he calls for middle-class tax cuts.

In order to craft the speech, which could have turned into a boring subject for some readers, Daly made the story visual and fun. "'I'm looking for pies,' Biden announced as he began shopping, helped by Costco employee Ivey Stewart, who was steering his shopping cart around the store. Biden bought an apple pie, along with a stack of children's books, a 32-inch Panasonic TV, fire logs and other items. He said the books were intended for a Delaware charity supported by his wife, Jill," Daly said. This quote gives the article a more informal feel and allows readers to better relate to this important official.

Daly also chose to only quote Biden a hand full of times. His ability to translate Biden's speech into something many readers can comprehend is effective and not inundating the story with quotes is what allows more readability. One example is when Daly said, "Biden said Congress should act on the middle-class tax cuts before Christmas to spur consumer confidence and then fight later over tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 a year."

Daly then follows up with a direct quote from Biden, giving his story credibility: "'We have a lot we have to settle, but there's one thing we should all agree on and that's the middle-class tax cut should be made permanent. I think it's important Congress acts now, I mean right now,'" Biden said at an impromptu news conference at the store, where he was surrounded by shoppers and employees eager to shake hands, take photos and even hug the vice president."

Daly also goes beyond the event itself by including important background details that readers may not have known about otherwise. "Biden and President Barack Obama have pressed Congress to extend middle-class tax cuts while raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while congressional Republicans have pushed to extend cuts for all taxpayers," Daly said. This information gives readers who may not be as well-versed in politics a better idea of what Biden is speaking on.

Daly also includes, "Costco is opening at least three stores in the Washington area, and Sinegal said the company was 'looking forward to a reasonably good Christmas,' noting that sales were up 7 percent over last year in stores that had been open for a year," which shows how Daly interviewed several sources to get a well-rounded article.

Daly's ability to translate Biden's speech, give the story flavor with a variety of sources quoted allows for a well-rounded article for a reader who cares about politics but may not be an expert.

In 2015, Capt. Scott Kelly, a veteran astronaut, will attempt to the longest space mission as an American. Kelly is to be accompanied by Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko in a one-year mission to the International Space Center, according to CNN.

During this mission, the duo plan to "help scientists explore the effects of living in space on the human body," NASA said. "They will provide information regarding health and crew performance and help with determining and validating risk-reduction measures," in hopes to contribute to the planning of further missions, such as Mars.

If the duo succeeds, they will be the first Americans to complete this long of a space mission, with the current records being held by Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days in space between January 1994 and March 1995. According to Fox News, "The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars."

"Only four humans have logged a continuous year or more in space on a single mission, and all of those missions involved the Russian Mir space station," said NASA spokesman Joshua Buck. Kelly and Kornienko plan to depart in spring 2015 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and will then travel aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Kelly is the twin brother of former space shuttle commander, Mark Kelly, whose wife, Gabrielle Giffords, survived a shooting near Tucson in 2011. Kelly has already experienced 180 days in space, with experience as a pilot on a 1999 space shuttle mission, a commander on STS-118 in 2007, a flight engineer on International Space Station Expedition 25 in 2010 on International Space Station Expedition 25 and as a commander of Expedition 26 in 2011, according to CNN.

Kelly's co-pilot, Kornienko, on the other hand, has worked in the space industry since 1986. His experience includes working as a flight engineer on the Expedition 23/24 crews in 2010 and has spent a total 176 days in space.

"Their skills and previous experience aboard the space station align with the mission's requirements," Bill Gerstenmaier, head of human exploration for NASA, said in a statement. "The one-year increment will expand the bounds of how we live and work in space and will increase our knowledge regarding the effects of microgravity on humans as we prepare for future missions beyond low-Earth orbit."

The astronaut duo will begin their space training next year.

Alabama inmates with HIV may no longer be isolated

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In Alabama and South Carolina, it is normal to isolate prisoners who are HIV positive, with the goal to stop the spread of AIDs, thus keeping medical costs low. In an article by the New York Times, author Robbie Brown explains why that isolation may be coming to an end.

Albert Knox was a prisoner in an Alabama prison who was tested positive for HIV after being convicted of cocaine possession. Within his first week, he was harassed as guards yelled out, "dead man walking," as Knox passed by. Due to his diagnosis, Knox was forbidden to eat in the cafeteria, work around food or visit any of his friends within his substance-abuse program.

This is not an odd occurrence for Alabama prisons, as they are one of two states that allow HIV-positive inmates to be isolated from others - South Carolina is the other state. According to New York Times, "The goal is to stop the spread of the virus, which causes AIDS, and to reduce medical costs. The Alabama Corrections Department's concern is that H.I.V. will spread through consensual sex, through rape or through blood when inmates give one another tattoos."

Isolation isn't the only way HIV-positive inmates are victimized. According an article written by Elton John in the Washington Post, "In Alabama, prisoners with HIV are made to wear a white armband to distinguish themselves from other inmates, a modern-day scarlet letter. In South Carolina, the 400 or so HIV-positive prisoners, even those convicted of minor offenses, are housed in maximum-security facilities alongside those on death row."

Both Alabama and South Carolina partake in this behavior, claiming it to be a health concern for others - but there is a possibility that the states are excluding them on purpose, to further their embarrassment publicly. "When I established the Elton John AIDS Foundation 20 years ago, one objective was to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS," Elton John said. "These policies are a reminder that our work is far from over."

A trial held in Sept. 17 will have a ruling on Alabama's policies made before Thanksgiving.

In a CNN article titled "Parallels to country's racist past haunt age of Obama" by John Blake, the issue of racism in politics is addressed in a manner that attempts to remove stereotypes and racist attitudes, yet reverts back to somewhat racist terms.

The author, John Blake, uses words that address the color of skin the subject has, but not in a sense that evoke racism or a sense of segregation. At the beginning of the article, Blake only uses the term "African-American," as shown here, "The man was an African-American of mixed-race heritage, an eloquent speaker whose election was hailed as a reminder of how far America had come. But the man who placed his hand on the Bible that winter day in Washington wasn't Barack Obama. He was Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate," Blake said.

Later in the article, however, Blake begins using "white" and "black" to describe the color of the subject's skin. "His election and that of many other African-Americans to public office triggered a white backlash that helped destroy Reconstruction, America's first attempt to build an interracial democracy in the wake of the Civil War." It seems odd that he would use the term African-American and then use "white" but I suppose we don't usually say "caucasian," either.

Blake stops using African-American at the middle of the article and begins using "black," shown here, "The notion that the country is poised to enter a new post-Reconstruction era may seem outlandish, even offensive. That period, known as the Jim Crow era, saw the establishment of American apartheid: segregated public facilities, race riots and white racists murdering blacks and their white allies with impunity."

To gain information, Blake used Ruha Benjamin, an African American studies professor at Boston University, Mark D. Naison, a history professor from Fordham University, Nsenga Burton, a writer for The Root, a website about the African-American perspective and Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author among other authors. Blake's use of several sources shows that he intended to write a well-rounded article with various perspectives.

Blake's inability to stick to one term in the article shows that he would like to use the term that is accepted more by society - African-American - but gets lost in society's norms, thus switching to black instead. Though it is generally okay to use the term black, I believe using that term allows us to revert back to our racist ways as human beings.

In an article by CNN Money, Target revealed their plans to open their stores at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving to commence the Black Friday deals. As this is the earliest they have ever opened for Black Friday, surely other competing companies will follow suit.

"We heard from our guests that they look forward to kicking off their holiday shopping with deal-hunting on Thanksgiving night," said Kathee Tesija, executive vice president, merchandising, for Target. "Opening at 9 p.m. gives Target's Black Friday guests a more convenient way to create an after-dinner shopping event that the entire family can enjoy."

In another article by CNN Money, more companies have chosen to open on Thanksgiving, too, rather than waiting until the next day. Currently, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are the two companies that will open their doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22. Last year, the toy store had opened at 9 p.m., and Wal-Mart opened at 10 p.m., while Target seemingly lagged behind by opening at midnight.

The craze of getting the best deal on Black Friday, or Thursday for some, is not completely clear. Some attribute the impulse buys and long lines to getting ahead on Christmas shopping, but for some it's one night of the year you can't pass up - especially if there's flat screen TVs involved.

Irresistable deals this year include Target's "Samsung 50" LED HDTV for $699, a Canon A3400 Camera Bundle for $89.99, Fisher-Price Doodlepro Classic for $10, Leapfrog Explorer Software for $15 and a $10 gift card for shoppers who spend $50 or more on clothing," CNN stated. Wal-Mart is also guaranteeing that customers who arrive between the times of 10 and 11 p.m. Thursday will receive one of the following: an Apple iPad2 and a $75 Wal-mart gift card for $399.99; an LG Blu-Ray player for $38; or a 32-inch Emerson HD TV for $138, according to CNN.

For some, the idea of Black Friday is a nightmare. Long hours waiting in line, jam-packed stores and the frustration of driving to a store to find that your item of interest has run out is upsetting for any customer. For the employees, it's a different story. "Thanksgiving was definitely short with your family, and you hate it," Curtis West, a Macy's employee said. "People don't understand why you weren't there or why you couldn't stay."

Not only are the long hours tiring, but they also cut back on time employees could have spent with their families. Last week, "more than 20 new petitions were created on Change.org calling on retailers to push back their opening times to Friday so that workers can spend Thanksgiving at home," CNN said.

While employees fight to have stores open on later on Friday and shoppers fight to have them open earlier Thursday, Black Friday is sure to break records.

An athletic official at the University of Iowa resigned this week after being accused of "trading football tickets and money for sexual favors and inappropriately touching student athletes," according to an article by the Star Tribune.

Peter Gray, associate director of Athletic Student Services and director of academic advising and counseling resigned Wednesday after his sex scandal allegations. His salary for both positions held was $71,297.

According to Delaney's Dozen, Gray had worked for the department since 2002 and had admitted to "various sexual acts and that he couldn't remember with whom and how often along with some other quite disturbing admissions of a sexual nature," author Andrew Coppens said.

The six-page-long document highlighting Gray's allegations was posted on the Iowa City Press-Citizen's website Friday night. According to the site, this was note Gray's first run-in with sexual allegations - he had a history of inappropriate behavior, with two separate occurrences in his department.

"The investigation by the school's human resources and employment offices turned up a long list of apparent sexual harassment violations by Gray, whose duties this semester included one-on-one counseling to members of the women's basketball, men's golf and men's and women's swimming teams," the Star Tribune said.

The University of Iowa Athletic Director, Gary Barta claims that Gray resigned for personal reasons, but the athletics spokesperson refused to comment on the issue when asked by an Associated Press reporter. The Associated Press was also unable to find a phone number for Gray and received no answer when they knocked at Gray's door.

The investigation also revealed that Gray had made sexual comments during a presentation to parents and recruits, in addition to having found the "sexually explicit and suggestive photos on his work computer, including two that involved individuals engaged in sex acts with toys or stuffed animals, numerous pictures of college-aged individuals posing in swimsuits and a few of individuals dressed in underwear," the Star Tribune stated.

There is no information at this time regarding possible charges on Gray.


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