This news blog is an educational exercise involving students at the University of Minnesota. It is not intended to be a source of news.

April 2013 Archives

Analysis: Data

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For this analysis, I found a New York Times article about illegal internet gun sales that was posted on NICAR's Extra, Extra! blog.

This story draws on online postings for gun sales, criminal records, and past interviews/articles to flesh out this story. The reporter had to have some knowledge of searching databases to find the criminal records and interviews, Also, the reporter would have to have some knowledge of general search skills if they didn't know about online gun retailers like Armslist before reporting this story.

This story used interactive graphics primarily to show some of the online ads for weapons it describes through text. Some words in the descriptions of these ads are highlighted with a little picture of a camera next to it, which is how the reader would know its a graphic. Upon clicking on it, a small box with the ad will pop up on the page, allowing the reader to see the original ad without having to navigate away from the page. These graphics are interesting, because they give the reader to see how casual these arms dealers are in their online interactions in a way that just text really wouldn't be able to convey.

Driver in Fridley rollover crash had been drinking

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Minnesota State Patrol says the driver of an SUV that rolled over north of interstate 694 in Fridley on Saturday night had been drinking, the Star Tribune reports.

The driver, 35-year-old Jennifer Teetzel, was also the only person inside the SUV to be wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said. All seven of the SUV's occupants, ranging in age from four to 47, were sent to the hospital for treatment of their injuries and are in serious condition, KMSP reports.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which left the SUV on its roof on University Ave. Court records show that Teetzel has had run ins with the law over drunken driving prior to Saturday's accident, including a 2009 conviction for for third-degree drunken driving, and a careless driving case in 2003 where a charge of fourth-degree drunken driving had been dismissed.

President Obama got more laughs and appreciation for his jokes than headliner Conan O'Brien did at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, which was held Saturday at the Washington D.C. Hilton, The Atlantic Wire reports.

Many social media commentators took to Twitter Saturday night to critique O'Brien, who many say shied away from heavier hitting jokes in favor of "gentle" material. Others suggested the dinner should forget having a comedian "headliner," instead giving the President a chance to show off his funny side.

President Obama used his set of jokes to critique the media, including NBC for its struggling lineup of shows and CNN for its inaccurate reporting following the Boston bombings, NBC News reports.

"I know CNN has taken some knocks lately," Obama said. "But the fact is I admire commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate."

But Obama also used his time at the mic to praise first responders at the scene of the bombings and the media, saying that the event gave the nation a chance to see "journalists at their best." Conan O'Brien, who is a Boston native, also took time out of his set to address Boston and thank Obama for traveling there after the attacks.

An explosion rocked the Koda Energy plant in Shakopee Thursday afternoon, forcing the seven employees on site to evacute, the Star Tribune reports.

Emergency personnel were called to the scene shortly after 1 p.m. in response to the explosion, which occurred inside a tank at the biomass fuel plant that supplies power for neighboring Rahr Malting, KARE 11 reports.Fire crews stayed on site for at least two hours after the original call with their hoses aimed at the area of the original explosion as a safety precautions.

The explosion could be felt in homes and offices blocks away, but resulted in no injuries. Authorities told people within a 1-mile radius to stay inside until further notice, but that there was "no immediate danger."

A Shakopee resident tweeted out the news of the explosion shortly after it occurred, saying "our office building shook on Shumway St. and we saw smoke and then squad cars raced by." Bob Nagel, owner of nearby Bob's Lawn and Landscaping, said in the 19 years he's worked in the area he only remembered one small explosion.

At least 80 dead in Bangladesh building collapse

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A building near Bangladesh's capital that housed several garment factories collapsed Wednesday morning, killing at least 80 people and injuring hundreds more, USA Today reports.

The collapse draws attention to the unsafe conditions of Bangladesh's garment industry, and comes just months after a fire at another factory killed 112 people. Workers report being nervous to enter the building after multiple cracks were discovered yesterday, even after managers assured workers there was no problem. During a visit to the collapse site, Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir said that those responsible for the violation of buildings codes would be found and punished.

Health Minister A.F.M. Ruhal Haque said that at least 80 people died in the collapse, and that at least 600 more were injured, the New York Times reports. Crews worked with machinery and bare hands to move the rubble, and see if any survivors remained buried.

The collapse is another tragedy in the Bangladesh garment industry, which supplies clothes for retails giants like Walmart, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, and Gap. Many have criticized the working conditions in Bangladesh, where labor costs are the lowest in the world. The fire in November brought to light to terrible working conditions of these factories, after managers told workers the fire alarm was just a drill. Companies like Walmart that outsource their labor to Bangladesh have denied any knowledge of the working conditions in the country, placing the blame on subcontractors within the industry.

Boston Marathon bomber suspect charged

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The only known surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was charged by prosecutors in his hospital room Monday, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S. and one count of malicious destruction of property with an explosive device. If convicted, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors charged Tsarnaev in his room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he remains in serious condition, NBC News reports. The White House said today that because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen, Tsarnaev will be charged in civilian court and not in a military commissions.

So far Tsarnaev, who is communicating with authorities through writing, has not listed a motive for last week's attacks. The parents of Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, who was killed during a shootout with police late Thursday night, believe their sons were framed.

The first major marathon to take place after the bombings at the Boston Marathon began with 30 seconds of silence on Sunday, CNN reports.

The moment of silence was just one of the many tributes to the victims of Monday's Boston bombings. Many of the 36,000 runners wore black ribbons or shirts that said "Boston" on them, and race organizers said they plan on donating $3 to The One Fund Boston for each runner who crosses the finish line.

The London Marathon draws thousands of spectators in addition to the runners, and race organizers increased the amount of security as an added safety precaution after Monday's attack, CBS reports. Police added 40 percent more officers and surveillance to ensure the safety of race participants and spectators, but authorities said that canceling the race was never an option.

Some of the racers participating had previously run in the Boston marathon, and said they wanted to run as a memorial. "It is terrible what happened in Boston, but we can't look back, we must look forward," said racer Tomasz Hamerlak, who competed in both races. "The show must go on."

Shooting in Shakopee leaves 1 dead, 2 injured

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A shooting late Thursday night in Shakopee has left one man dead, and two others injured, KARE 11 reports.

Police were called to the Hunters Ridge Apartments around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, where they found Marcos Antino Pantaleon, 19, dead of a gunshot wound. Two other men, a 21-year old and a 17-year-old, were found inside the apartment with gunshot wounds, and were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment.

Three men were seen leaving the apartment around the time of the shooting, the Pioneer Press reports. No arrests have been made. Scott County Sheriff's department, Shakopee and Savage police departments and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting in the investigation.

Authorities say the shooting doesn't appear to be a random act of violence. Pantaleon attended Shakopee High School, and had plans to attend college and become an auto mechanic, his principal send.

Missionary from Waseca vanishes in Africa

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A missionary from Waseca disappeared while piloting his small plane through a tropical storm on a trip from South Africa to Mali 10 days ago, MPR reports.

Family and friends of 54-year-old Jerry Krause believe he could still be alive, after initial searches failed to turn up any wreckage or emergency signals near the Gulf of Guinea, where Krause was last heard from. The Gulf of Guinea has recently become a hot spot of armed pirate activity, a fact that worries Krause's family.

"After much research and digging, there is a 50 percent chance that Jerry's plane crashed," Krause's family said in a post on their website Wednesday, according to the Pioneer Press."That other 50 percent is the probability that he was captured and forced to fly for some drug lords or guerrilla members. There is evidence now to support both scenarios."

Krause, who has lived in Mali for 16 years, and his wife served as a missionaries with the Mission Aviation Fellowship until it left the country in 2009. The Krauses chose to stay in Mali, despite increases in jihad-related violence. During his flight, Krause was in contact with a control tower on an island off the coast of Gabon. Lightning struck the tower, cutting all communication, the tower control operator said. When power came back on, no contact with Krause could be made.

After days of uncertainty and difficulties with Krause's cell phone company and local authorities helping with the search, his family filed a missing person's report with the United States, which will allow the National Transportation Safety Board to begin an investigation into his disappearance.

Post-election violence in Venezuela leaves 7 dead

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At least 7 people were killed and dozens more injured across Venezuela in post-presidential election violence Monday, CNN reports.

Violence erupted Monday night after officials announced Hugo Chavez's chosen successor Nicolas Maduro as the winner of the election, despite demands from supporters of challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski for a recount. Maduro won 50.8 percent of the votes, with Radonski winning 49 percent, Venezuela's National Electoral Council said. Authorities say the close results incited the violence, despite the candidate's urging for their supporters to remain calm.

Protests continued across the country Tuesday, as Chavez-Maduro supporters lighting firecrackers and students clashing with soldiers armed with tear gas and plastic bullets, Fox News reports.

Supporters of Radonski claim the election was rigged in Maduro's favor with malfunctioning voting machines, inconsistencies in tallies reported by voting centers and opposition witnesses being forced out of hundreds of polls. Maduro said he will crack down on the opposition, and "use an iron fist" on anyone attempting to unseat him from the presidency.

Two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, killing 2 people and sending more than 100 more to area hospitals with injuries, CNN reports.

Two hours after the first runners crossed the finish line, two explosions occurring just seconds apart sent shrapnel hurtling towards runners and spectators, leaving an 8-year-old boy and one other person dead and at least 130 injured. Witnesses report a gruesome scene covered in blood, with some people missing limbs.

Ambulances transporting the injured packed Boston's streets, as police encouraged onlookers to stay away and residents to stay inside their homes. Authorities say the bombs were believed to have been put inside trash cans, and detonated purposely around the time runners were crossing the finish line. Experts say the bombs were small, crudely made and packed with metal ball bearings; all signs that this attack was a terrorist attack designed to kill multiple people.

President Obama addressed the nation just hours after the attack, warning Americans not to jump to conclusions about the person behind the attacks until a full investigation can be carried out, the LA Times reports. While authorities are unsure of whether the attack was done by domestic or foreign terrorists, Obama says those responsible will be found and will feel the full weight of justice."

Analysis: Diversity

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For this analysis, I chose this article about immigrants training to become teacher aides in Burnsville classroom.

This article moves beyond focuses on stereotypes of the immigrants (those interviewed are from Somali, but the article also mentions Spanish speaking immigrants) to focus on their training and the opportunities they receive to teach students who speak their native languages. In fact, the article doesn't mention that the woman the story is about is even from Somali until the fifth paragraph. The story is mainly focuses on the program and how it's benefiting immigrants and students, rather than focus any stereotypical cultural elements of those involved in the program.

To get information, the reporter spoke with two women from Somali who are trained in the program, as well as the program director and two other district employees who helped design the program.

Human skeletal remains found in Burnsville park

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Authorities are investigating human skeletal remains found Saturday in Murphy-Hanrahan Park Reserve in Burnsville, KSTP reports.

A man walking his dog in the park Saturday afternoon found the human remains, which are completely decomposed, police said. The man called the Burnsville police, who are now working along with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office in identifying the remains. Burnsville Sgt. Rory Bochniak said the remains could possibly belong to an elderly man who disappeared near the park in April 2012, the Star Tribune reports.

Lorenzo Pacheco Orozco went missing last April after walking away from his Burnsville home. Orozco suffered from dementia related to a head injury and didn't speak English, which may have played a role in his disappearance. He was last seen near the park early in the morning on April 15, 2012. The Burnsville police department conducted several searches, including ground rescue operations and air searches, the Sun Thisweek reports. The search was called off on May 17, 2012.

A new Barbie doll introduced to Mattel's "Dolls of the World" line has outraged parents and cultural leaders for what some are describing as offensive depictions of Mexican stereotypes, the Latino Post reports.

"Mexico Barbie" is described by Mattel as being dressed for a "fabulous fiesta" in a ruffled pink dress that has many critics angered for being outdated and inaccurate. But it's not just her costume that has Latino advocates up in arms. Each doll in the "Dolls of the World" collection comes with a passport, a detail that strikes many as offensive for being reminiscent of immigration issues, the Huffington Post reports.

The dolls also come with pets India Barbie comes with a monkey, and Holland Barbie is accompanied by a bunny. Mexico Barbie comes with a small chihuahua, which many critics are calling stereotypical. Jason Ruiz, an American studies professor at Notre Dame University, called stereotypes like the chihuahua and the Barbie's bright costume "easy to use" and offensive to Latinos tired of being seen as just "colorful."

He added that while the inclusion of the passport does not bother him, he see how it could be bothersome to some Latinos. "It is a point of contention and great sensitivity for people of Mexican origin, especially Mexican immigrants," Ruiz said. "Papers decide everything for immigrants from Mexico."

Man killed by police after taking firefighters hostage

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Police shot and killed a man who held five firefighters hostage Wednesday in a suburb of Atlanta, Time reports.

The firefighters were responding to a report of a medical emergency at 3:40 p.m. at a foreclosed home in the suburb of Suwanee, but were faced instead with an armed man that demanded his power and cable TV be turned back on. The man allowed one of the firefighters to leave the residence to move the fire truck that was parked out front, but held the remaining four hostage for almost three hours.

Around 7:30 p.m., police and hostage negotiators began to worry that the gunman might harm the firefighters, CNN reports. A SWAT team used explosives to distract the gunman, who was shot dead in the exchange of gunfire that followed. One police officer was also shot in the exchange, but sustained non-life threatening injuries. The firefighters sustained minor injuries from the explosives, but were expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday night.

Neighbors said the man, whose name has not been released, seemed like a "really nice, ... like a normal guy," but that his lawn and house were always messy. Authorities say the man's house had been in foreclosed and owned by a bank since mid-November, and his financial woes may have led him to taking the firefighters hostage.


An employee at Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport has been charged with stealing more than $84,000 worth of guns and other items including electronics and jewelry from passengers, the UK Daily Mail reports.

David Yang, 23, faces 11 felony counts after police say he stole items from luggage checked on connecting flights, and took them to a parking ramp where his wife Vue Xiong was waiting with a car. In his apartment, authorities found more than 700 stolen items including shotguns, revolvers, a crossbow, jewelry, iPads and cell phones, Fox News reports.

In the original criminal complaint, Yang claimed the items simply fell out of the luggage as they traveled along the conveyor belt, but he later admitted to stealing from July to October of 2012. Yang will make his first court appearance on April 25 in Hennepin County.

Pat Hogan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said that thefts are rare, but still encourages travelers to keep their valuables in their carry-on bags. Firearms must be kept in separate cases, and scanned individually so authorities can track when they are moved on and off of planes.

"Fortunately, we don't deal with this kind of situation very often," Hogan said. "Once we found out about it, we were able to track him down and bring him to justice."

Britain's "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher dead at 87

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Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister known for guiding her country through economic difficulties and the end of the Cold War died Monday of a stroke at the age of 87, PBS Newshour reports.

Thatcher, or the "Iron Lady" as she nicknamed, was elected in 1979 as the first woman leader of a Western democracy. She earned a reputation for her tough conservative stance, that eventually revived the British economy in the 1980s. Thatcher held the position of prime minister for three consecutive terms, from 1979 to 1990. She was the only British prime minister in the 20th century to serve three terms.

Thatcher was born in 1925 in the the town of Grantham, 100 miles north of London. Her father, a local politician, instilled in her a love of politics from an early age, the New York Times reports. Thatcher attended Sommerville College at the University of Oxford, where she studied chemistry. She often spoke not of her accomplishment as the first female prime minister, but as the first scientist to be elected to the office, her biographer said in an interview with NPR.

Queen Elizabeth II authorized a ceremonial funeral for Thatcher, to be held in St. Paul's cathedral with military honors. Current Prime Minister David Cameron said Thatcher's death brings the loss of "a great leader, a great prime minister, and a great Briton."

"Margaret Thatcher loved this country, and she served it with all she had," Cameron said.

Analysis: Numbers

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For this analysis, I used this article from USA Today about how 5 million U.S. households are getting rid of their TVs. The story uses numbers to describe the number of households that have gotten rid of their TVs and the number that have added cable subscriptions, the percent of households that still have TVS, and the difference between the number of households that have TVs today compared to in 2007.

The numbers in this article are spread across the story, and are broken up with quotes from TV execs and viewers, so they don't seem overwhelming. The reporter used math to combine monthly fees from Netflix and Amazon, and probably to calculate the percent of households in the U.S. that have TVs. All of the statistics in this story come from a Nielsen study.

U.S. diplomat killed in Afghanistan

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A foreign service officer from Chicago was among those killed Saturday in a suicide attack in the Zabul province of Afghanistan, USA Today reports.

Anne Smedinghoff, 25, was working as a press officer for the U.S. embassy and helping Afghan reports cover a book donation event at a boy's school. Three U.S. troops and one civilian were killed in the attack, and four State Department workers were injured. Smedinghoff's death marks the first death of a U.S. diplomat on the job since the attack last September in Benghazi that killed ambassador Cristopher Stevens.

Smedinghoff had been with the Foreign Service for three years, and had arrived in Afghanistan last July. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had met Smedinghoff just two weeks prior to the attack, described her death as the "stealing of a young life," ABC News reports.

"I remember her as vivacious, smart, capable, often chosen by the ambassador for her capabilities," Kerry said. ""There are no words for anybody to describe the extraordinary harsh contradiction of a young 25-year-old woman with all of the future ahead of her, believing in the possibilities of diplomacy."

Three killed in I-94 rollover crash

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A rollover crash on I-94 killed three people Sunday afternoon, the Star Tribune reports.

The crash occurred around 1 p.m. Sunday near 49th Avenue in North Minneapolis, and shut down the westbound lanes for hours afterwards. Authorities say that three vehicles were involved in the crash. Lt. Eric Roeske, of the Minnesota State Patrol, confirmed that three people were killed in the crash, My Fox 9 reports.

Three other victims involved in the crash were taken to North Memorial hospital. One victim is listed to be in serious condition, and the others are in critical condition. Authorities say more information on the crash and victims will be released when the investigation is complete.

Florida International University head basketball coach Richard Pitino was hired by the University of Minnesota on Wednesday to replace coach Tubby Smith, the Miami Herald reports.

Pitino served as head coach at FIU for one year, leading the team to its first winning season in 13 years. Prior to leading FIU, Pitino has served as an assistant coach at Florida, Duquesne, Northwestern, and Lousiville, where his father Rick is head coach.

This isn't the first time University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague has hired a young coach who he believes is "on the rise," USA Today reports. He hired Shaka Smart as coach when he was the athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth, and Smart went on to lead the team to the Final Four in 2011.

Pitino's hiring comes after Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith was fired in the wake of Minnesota's loss to Florida in the second round of NCAA tournament games. Smith has since been hired at Texas Tech.

Taliban attack Afghan courhouse, leaving 53 dead

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A Taliban attack that resulted in a gunfight at an Afghan courthouse Wednesday has left 53 dead, including nine attackers, USA Today reports.

An area governor in the Farah province, where the attack took place, said that the attack began when suicide bombers disguised as soldiers entered the courthouse in an effort to free 15 Taliban members awaiting trial. Two bombers detonated their bombs within the vehicles they used to reach the center of the capital city. The remaining bombers stormed the courthouse and prosecutor's office, where guards opened fire and the gunfight began.

This attack is the most deadly single attack in Afghanistan since a Shiite Muslim shrine was bombed in Kabul in 2011, Al Jazeera reports. Official report that the causalities include 34 civilians, 10 security guards, and nine of the Taliban attackers. More than 100 additional people were injured in the attack, including two court judges and one prisoner.

These types of attacks have recently spread out from main Taliban outposts in the East and South of Afghanistan, where NATO forces are stationed. Many fear that attacks will increase in 2014, when NATO troops are set to pull out from Afghanistan and leave security responsibilities to the Afghan government.

Prosecutors in Colorado announced Monday that they will seek the death penalty against James Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 58 others in an attack at a movie theater last July, the Denver Post reports.

District Attorney George Brauchler said he contacted over 800 survivors and family members of victims in making his decision, ultimately deciding that the only "justice is death." Prosecutors previously struck down a plea deal from the defense that would give Holmes, 25, life in prison without parole. Holmes showed no reaction as Brauchler recommended his sentence in a court hearing Monday.

Holmes faces 166 charges of murder and attempted murder in the July attack on a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, the Huffington Post reports. If sentenced, Holmes will join three others on Colorado's death row. The state has only executed one person since 1977, when the death penalty was reinstated.

Holmes' lawyers are expected to base their defense on their client's mental health at the time of the shooting, the New York Times reports. Holmes visited a school psychiatrist in the weeks leading to the shooting, so records from those visits and a notebook he sent to the psychiatrist the day before the attack are expected to be used as evidence. Although Holmes has not entered an insanity plea, his lawyers have called him "mentally ill."

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