January 2010 Archives

Lead Analysis

"Ben Bernanke has been approved to serve a second four-year term as chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the country's powerful central bank."

The news elements of timeliness and prominence are dominant in the news lead from this BBC News story on the re-appointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The lead is fairly detailed, including Bernanke's full name, the proper title of the U.S. central bank, the length of the appointment term, and an allusion to the bank's power. This is a straightforward hard-news lead, including exclusively the "what", "who", and "when" of the story. 'Where" is omitted from the lead because it is not vitally important, and because proximity is not a prominent news value for this story.

Ben Bernanke Gets Second Term

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a second four-year term, reports BBC News. The Senate voted 70-30 to retain Bernanke as the U.S. official in charge of monetary policy.
Bernanke faced criticism for his handling of the economic crisis, including supporting controversial bank bailouts. However, supporters credit him with preventing an even greater collapse.
The once little-known Fed, which has the power to set interest rates which in turn affect unemployment and inflation, has become the subject of public anger over continued unemployment woes and bank bailouts, according to the New York Times.
According to both news sources, Bernanke's re-appointment was one of the most contentious in recent memory, passing by a far narrower margin than is normal.

St. Paul Stabbing Suspect Wanted to Go To Jail, Say Police

A St. Paul man charged with stabbing a grocery store clerk said he did it because he wanted to go to jail, according to a criminal complaint quoted in the Pioneer Press.
The suspect, Raymond Andrew Berg, claimed to be on schizophrenia medication. Berg previously plead guilty to vandalizing a Wal-Mart store on University Avenue because "he had no place to stay, and he knew this action would get him in jail," according to the complaint. This was apparently his goal when he stabbed the clerk as well. The Star Tribune quotes Berg as saying "I wouldn't like to go back out on the street again."
Berg chose a male clerk because he didn't want to stab a woman, according to the Star Tribune article.
The 35-year-old victim was stabbed in the chest and suffered a punctured lung but was expected to recover, according to the Pioneer Press story.
The Pioneer Press reports that a judge has ordered Berg to undergo evaluation for mental illness before the trial proceeds.

University Student Shot Near Dorm In Crime Spree

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According to the Star Tribune, a student was shot without apparent reason outside a University of Minnesota dorm late Monday. The shooting was the third in a 20-minute string of three random but possibly related crimes in the area around Centennial Hall, where, according to the Minnesota Daily, the shooting occurred.
The victim, 19-year-old Timothy Schumaker, underwent surgery and was reported Tuesday by the Star Tribune to be in stable condition.
Police have made no arrests, but are combing security camera footage for clues as to the identity of the perpetrators, according to the Star Tribune article.
According to the Pioneer Press, The string of incidents began around 10:50 p.m. when a female student was robbed just of campus by two men in the 500 block of Huron Boulevard.
Following the first robbery, two female students were approached and robbed near Moos Tower by two men, probably the same individuals. The robbers then fled toward the residence halls where the shooting occurred several minutes later.
Police and school administration officials stressed that this is an isolated incident. Serious crime against people on campus has declined significantly in recent years. However, according to the University of Minnesota Police Department's website, there has been an uptick in thefts since 2009.

Obama to Announce Government Spending Freeze

President Barack Obama will give the details of a three-year partial government spending freeze in his State of the Union address on Wednesday, according to BBC News. The move is aimed at reducing the U.S. $1.4 trillion budget deficit. The New York Times reports the shortfall at $1.3 trillion, equal to 9.2% of gross domestic product.
According to the BBC, the freeze would apply to programs administered by the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Education. National security, foreign aid, and Social Security spending would not be affected.
Criticism was forthcoming on both sides of the aisle. "Given Washington Democrats' unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you're going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner quoted in the New York Times. Liberal Democrats were reportedly unhappy that military spending was exempted.


At Least 18 Killed in Baghdad Car Bombing

A car bomb attack on the government forensics headquarters in Baghdad killed at least 18 people, reports Al Jazeera. The attack Tuesday follows a string of bombings of hotel buildings in the Iraqi capital Monday that left 36 dead and 71 wounded. Terrorist attacks are expected to increase in frequency as parliamentary elections in March draw closer.

BBC News reports that the building was severely damaged and that a rescue effort to located trapped survivors are ongoing. The BBC quotes Hassan al-Saidi, a local mechanic, as saying "I've heard many explosions in the past but nothing like this."

The forensic center has been the target of two bomb attacks in the past.

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