Anne Hepburn

This fun feature is about an auction of clothes and jewelry that used to be owned by Audrey Hepburn.

Fans were able to see - but not yet buy - garments and other belongings of Hepburn on Tuesday.

This is important to fans and others interested in fashion because Hepburn's clothes almost never come to auction, Barchfield said.

Just two pieces in a previous auction sold for $1 million, and a Givenchy cocktail dress and a black lace cropped jacket Hepburn used to own are expected to make 15,000 to 20,000 pounds.

Most of the clothing comes from Tanja Star-Busmann who used to be a longtime friend of the actress.

This is a trend feature because it focuses on an event related to a popular person that would be of interest to most people.

It was interesting because most people don't know what happens to famous celebrities' belongings, especially after they die.

However, I would've liked to see more perspective from fans and people preparing to buy something at the auction. That would have brought more excitement and creativity to the feature.

Goldman's profits: Evil or helpful?

This is an in-depth feature is about how Goldman Sachs views itself as superior to other firms on Wall Street, how others view it, and how it weathered the financial crisis.


McLean points out that Goldman has benefited from public money, especially, which "taps into a deep fear that ... as one person puts it, Goldman's "skill set" is 'walking between the raindrops over and over again and getting away with it'."


The firm's growth has increased exponentially especially since Lloyd Blankfein became the C.E.O. McLean also attributes this success to Goldman's political connections - it may not be a coincidence that two of the firm's past four leaders were Treasury secretaries.


Interestingly, the feature said, in retrospect, the firm's executives don't think they needed any bailout money, which Blankfein attributes to the firm's renowned work ethic and ability to manage risk.


But others don't agree and call it "pure evil." Even former Goldman bankers say the firm thinks it's superior and that is a problem.


McLean also pointed out that Goldman's competition on Wall Street mostly complain about not knowing how much money the firm makes - even though it files public financial statements.


Goldman has millions of dollars in profits, but McLean doesn't really explain whether this might signify good times for the rest of America.


The feature is a backgrounder because it goes into detail about the firm, its history and dynamic. I really enjoyed reading it but the history of the firm was a little lengthy and somewhat boring.


Otherwise, the feature is very informative and well organized.

Palin, the cheerleader

This feature in the New York Times is about Sarah Palin's popularity - or lack thereof - among women voters in the United States.

Palin was introduced to country by the Republican Party to bolster John McCain's popularity during the elections. Not only did she decrease McCain's ratings, as the feature points out. She has divided Americans, "with less than a third of Americans saying that she is qualified to be president and less than half saying they view her "favorably" ... [But] those who still love her, really love her ..." 

Women are much less likely than men to think Palin is qualified for the presidency, and their dislike of her has less to do with politics than with their personal frustrations that an incoherent "cheerleader" could potentially "sashay" herself to the Oval Office.

"Pretty and popular, with no apparent interest in studying, she's the one who industrious girls were tacitly promised would not succeed in the real world," Belkin said.

I think this is a trend story because although it touches on Palin's persona, it focuses more on the bigger picture of what voters have been thinking, and it's a hot-button topic right now.

Interestingly, even Palin's own party is questioning her ability, perspective and experience, although Conservative men "love her." Belkin ends the feature with the admission that Americans enjoy watching Palin fail, and that she will never get anyone's respect.

This is a very engaging feature because it starts off reminding us of who Palin was last summer before the sudden media craze over her seemingly new approach and her new book.

The Palin ex-fan Belkin quoted at the beginning of the feature epitomizes how Palin is losing many female voters she needs because she is uninformed and embarrassing.

I think a few more quotes from another woman would have been interesting - maybe a quote from a strong Palin supporter to see why she's still sticking to Palin when the trend seems to be the opposite.

The country debates over sending more troops to Afghanistan

The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Obama may send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, but the final number will be announced Tuesday next week.


Obama said his approach to the war will be different from the previous administration's methods, although the goals of containing Al-Qaeda will be similar.


There has been heated discussion at the White House between Obama and his top aides, according to an administration official who said "there was a lot of back and forth" at a two-hour meeting earlier this week.


Even Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said there was "serious unrest in our caucus about can we afford this war."


"The American people believe that if something is in our national security interest, we have to be able to afford it," she said.

According to a Wednesday Associated Press report, polls show Americans' support for the war has dropped significantly and most say the war is not worth fighting anymore.

In a Wednesday commentary for The Progressive, Matthew Rothschild said that "it would take at least ten times [the number of troops proposed] to have a decent chance of vanquishing the Taliban ... [it is] an enormous cost in U.S. and Afghan lives, and in U.S. tax dollars."

Calling Obama's choice a "muddle path," Rothschild added that only more civilian and U.S. soldier deaths would result "with no end in sight."

However, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the troops will focus on securing areas taken from the Taliban so that U.S. forces can leave soon, according to the AP.

"We are not going to be there another eight or nine years," he said.



Healthcare cuts hurt hospitals statewide

There have been rising concerns across Minnesota over a wave of budget cuts in the state's health care system, according to a Star Tribune report.


Hospitals, including Hennepin County Medical Center and Regions Hospital, and clinics have had to cut positions and reduce services because of the statewide budget cuts.

Advocacy groups have voiced major concerns over cuts on HCMC's budget in particular. The hospital lost $12 million last year in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's unallotment process, this year it cut 200 positions, and it will cut another $43 million soon.

This would "tip this hospital over and create a crisis," said Dr. Joseph Clinton, chief of emergency medicine in the Star Tribune report. "It would mean unacceptable deaths for patients who can't get care."

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said Thursday that the decisions were difficult "but they were necessary in order to balance the state budget during a time of unprecedented economic challenges."

The governor also plans to eliminate General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), which would significantly reduce the health care coverage of those with chronic illnesses and mental health problems.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that the Minnesota Department of Human Services outlined a proposal to transfer 28,000 people from GAMC into MinnesotaCare, but many, like Hennepin County Chairman Mike Opat, say the plan will not work because MinnesotaCare caps payments and is less generous than GAMC.

Democratic state lawmakers have been developing a plan to help the sickest GAMC patients despite the budget cuts; details of the plan will be out in a few weeks, according to MPR.



Debate over Israel's settlement freeze

Al Jazeera English reported Wednesday that Israel's prime minister announced a 10-month suspension to the construction of new settlement houses in the West Bank.


Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement came at a press conference Wednesday, during which he said the decision was made to encourage the peace process with the Palestinians.


Calling the move "far-reaching and painful," according to a Haaretz report, Netanyahu said construction would resume after the moratorium is over.


Despite the announcement, another Haaretz report said many Palestinian leaders are dissatisfied with the proposal because of its failure to halt construction in Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish a state capital in the future.


According to Al Jazeera, Israel's proposal excludes public buildings and the construction of 3,000 buildings that has already begun.

"This is not a moratorium," said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "Unfortunately, we hoped he would commit to a real settlement freeze so we can resume negotiations and he had a choice between settlements and peace and he chose settlements."


Netanyahu's announcement comes after pressure from the Obama administration to freeze settlements. Although the U.S. president has not made comments on the move yet, U.S. reactions have been mixed. Middle East envoy George Mitchell said the move was disappointing because it is not a full freeze on construction, but he acknowledged its significance and potential positive impact, according to the BBC.