July 25, 2008

Intercontinental Video


In a neighborhood where most of the population has immigrated to the United States, Om Arora, owner of Intercontinental Video, is bringing everyone a little piece of home. By simply renting a movie.

“I started so everyone could have something from home,? Arora, 70, said behind a counter covered with DVD cases. “Each country, there are so many [movies].?

Arora opened his store, located on South Cedar Avenue and 5th Street S., in 1982. Since then, he has gathered thousands of films, each organized by country of origin, rather than by title or genre.

Intercontinental is like a tour of the world through film, with titles from over 20 countries, ranging from Mainland China to the European Nations. Titles like the original “Scarface? to “Pather Panchali, silent films to new releases.

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May 10, 2008

TXT-U Feature Story

Here is my final story for News Reporting and Writing--


University of Minnesota senior Xiong Yang was in Blegen Hall when the adjacent building experienced a bomb threat last December. Yang, 21, and a subscriber to the university’s TXT-U system, was concerned about his safety, which is why he wanted text message alerts.

“I was in the building and asked to leave before the text ever arrived,? Yang said.

TXT-U, launched last fall, is a part of the university’s emergency preparedness system to handle campus wide emergency situations. The system sends subscribers text message alerts with information and instructions about emergencies. After six months of operation, and two alerts, student support of the system is not as widespread as hoped.

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May 4, 2008

35W Bridge Ahead of Schedule

Construction on the new 35W bridge is so far ahead of schedule officials say it could open in mid-September.
According to reports in the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune, the early finish would include a $200,000-a-day incentive which totals to about $20 million.
"During a weekly public tour of the construction site Saturday, managers for Flatiron Constructors said the bridge is 65 percent complete and that the hanging of concrete segments over the river could begin as soon as May 14 or 15 -- three months earlier than originally scheduled," said the Star Tribune article.
The article also said that the lack of snow this winter is a reason for the fast work.
The Pioneer Press said that a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation expect snags in the schedule.
"There are a lot of complex things that go into building the bridge." spokesman Kevin Gutknecht, said. "Our priorities on this bridge are to build it safely and to build a quality product."
The bridge was scheduled to be finished on Christmas Eve.

Two Shot in St. Paul

Two people were shot Saturday within a block of each other after a Cinco de Mayo celebration in West St. Paul.
According to a Star Tribune article, the 19-year-old man and 14-year-old boy were shot in separate incidents but very close to each other.
"The boy was shot at Mt. Hope Avenue and Baker Street, and the man was hit in the 200 block of Prescott Av. Police said they could not confirm whether the shootings were related," the article said.
According to the article, police took into custody two other teenagers driving a car believed to be in the area during the shootings.
"West St. Paul police stopped a suspicious car on Robert Street about 20 minutes after the shootings and reportedly recovered a gun believed used in the shootings," the article said.
A Pioneer Press article included more reporting of the incident, and said the second victim was 17-years old, not 19.

CAR story

I found this story from USA Today through nicar.org.
It is about how different ticket prices for the National Conventions this summer will get people different perks.
The computer assisted reporting comes into play when the reporter breaks down what different priced tickets offerer. There is a spreadsheet at the bottom of the story breaking down different priced tickets and what the donor gets.
In St. Paul, the platinum package costs $100,000 and includes three hotel rooms and priority credentials to evening sessions.
The reporter had to be familiar with a spreadsheet program for this article. I am certain that he used programs to find and aggregate the information too. He was dealing with two different cities, and many sources for tickets.

Yahoo and Microsoft Deal is Over

After months of negotiations, technology mogul Microsoft is giving up and trying to by out rival, Yahoo.
According to reports on BBC.com and the Washington Post, the deal is over because the two companies could not settle on a price.
According to the articles, Microsoft has landed on a final offer of $47.5 billion or $33 per share. Yahoo said wanted $53 billion or $37 per share.
The articles added that talks of a deal that started in January were an attempt to close in on Google, the leader in online advertising.
"Clearly a deal is not to be," Microsoft chief executive Steven Ballmer wrote to Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang yesterday.
The BBC article said that Ballmer's letter to Yang was posted on the Microsoft Web site.

Min Dies After Suicide Attempt, Police Quarral

A 21-year-old man died Sunday after apparently trying to commit suicide with a controlled substance and a fight with the police officers trying to save him.
A Star Tribune article said police responded to the attempted suicide call at about 2:43 this morning. The partially clothed man began to fight with the officers.
"The officers sprayed a chemical irritant after a short struggle," a news release in the article said. "It had no effect on the man, who proceeded to bite both officers."
Officers used a taser gun to detain the man, but he was unresponsive after being shot.
"He fought but was restrained, at which time he became unresponsive," the release said in the article.
According the the article, the injured officers were treated and released.
"The incident is under investigation," the article said.
The Pioneer press did not run this story.

Cyclone Hits Myanmar

A power tropical cyclone hit Myanmar over the weekend, killing more than 350 people.
According to a New York Times article, the storm, Nargis, struck early saturday with powerful winds up to 120 mph.
"Five regions of the impoverished Southeast Asian country have been declared disaster zones," the article said.
Myanmar, formerly Burma, is a military ruled nation. The largest city, Yangon, was hit hardest.
Almost half of the people killed lived on an island off the coast of the city.
"By Sunday, many parts of the city were without electricity," another article on CNN.com said. "Phone connections were also down in most areas, making it difficult to assess the extent of the damage."
As pictures and reports come in, people are discovering more and more damage to the country.
Entire villages were destroyed.

April 26, 2008

Spanish Fishing Boat Realeased by Pirates

Pirates released the Spanish fishing boat and its crew Saturday after almost a week of captivity. An article on BBC.com said the crew of 26 and the boat was released after the Spanish government allegedly paid a ransom. Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa de la Vega did not comment in the article about the payment of a ransom.
"We must put an end to maritime piracy," she said in the article.
According to the article, the tuna fishing boat was over taken by pirates about 250 miles off the coast of Somalia.
"The government was making plans to repatriate the crew of 13 Spaniards and 13 Africans," Ms de la Vega said in the article.
After the six-day standoff, the boat was escorted back to Spain by a frigate.
Piracy in the region is common.
Another article on CNN.com said a French boat was held by pirates earlier this month. "U.S. and NATO warships have been patrolling off the Horn of Africa for several years in an effort to crack down on piracy of long-lawless Somalia, where a U.N.-backed transitional government and Ethiopian troops are now battling Islamist insurgents."

People Still Missing After Fire

A devastating fire in Norwich, Conn. displaced more than 150 people, many of whom are unaccounted for. According to an Associated Press article on CNN.com, the site is still too hot for fire fighters or dogs to get close enough to search for bodies.
"No deaths had been confirmed, but Fire Chief Ken Scandariato said he couldn't rule out the possibility that some residents may not have escaped," the article said.
The fire, reported on Saturday, destroyed 12-building apartment complex sharing a common roof.
"The entire structure was engulfed in flames within minutes, and all but about eight of 120 apartments were destroyed," the article said.
Most people were able to escape only with robes. Everything was destroyed.
As far as those still missing, fire fighters are continuing to search. "Authorities were checking the registrations of parked cars and had created a master list of residents from various other sources, they said," another article in the Hartford Courant said.
Both articles said that the buildings had working smoke detectors, but no sprinkler system. "Because that wasn't required when it was built in 1976," the Courant article said.
According to the articles, the search continues, and survivors have taken refuge with friends and family or have been given shelter at a nearby school.

April 24, 2008

Two Students Expelled

Two students, from Apple Valley and Eagan High School, were expelled after buying souvenir swords in the United Kingdom. According to a Pioneer Press article, the students were on a choir trip and a chaperone discovered the items and kept them.
"The students flew home several days early, and the district disciplined the students when they returned," the article said. The discipline to follow was expulsion for the students, one of whom is a senior.
Some are arguing that the punishment went too far, however.
The father of one of the students spoke out at a school board meeting. "The severity of the punishment didn't fit the crime here," Brad Briggs, father of the Eagan student, said in the article. "It wasn't like he was buying an M-16."
The article said that as safety becomes a bigger concern, many schools are enforcing a zero tolerance policy, severely punishing students for violating rules. The students claimed the swords were souvenirs and had no intent to harm.
Whether or not the students had no intent to harm, the district maintains the punishment and the students will not be able to finish the school year with their class.
The chairman of the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board, Mike Roseen, said that the process of punishment is fair. "If someone gets caught up in something where they made a mistake, I'm sorry about that," Roseen said. "There's a policy we're going to go by."

This article did not appear in any other local news sources.

April 20, 2008

In-Flight Cell Phone Testing

A technology article in the New York Times on Sunday said that several European airlines are testing the use of cell phones while in flight.
According to the article, several passengers were let down with less than stunning service.
"The technology, which allows cellphone users to make and receive calls through an onboard base station linked to a satellite, delivers a still-patchy quality that keeps most in-flight calls short and tinny," the article said.
"While airlines in the United States have shunned the use of cellphones in flight — mainly because their passengers have argued vociferously for keeping one last cellphone-free sanctuary — some European and Mideast carriers are preparing to offer the service as early as this summer," the article said.
The service may deter many passengers as roaming charges were as high as $4.72 in some cases.
Even though the tests were unimpressive, many would embrace some data access during flights, regardless of cost. The article said that while cell phones may not be an option, access to the internet could be in the future for passengers.

Papal Visit

Pope Benedict XVI departed the United States on Sunday after his six-day tour calling out for "justice and peaceful coexistence" worldwide. According to a CNN.com article, the pope left John F. Kennedy airport in New York where Vice President Dick Cheney led the farewell ceremony.
"It was heart-warming to spend time with leaders and representatives of other Christian community and other religions," the pope said in the article.
The Papal tour of the United States included a Mass at Yankee Stadium and a visit to Ground Zero.
"Pope Benedict knelt in silent prayer, and rose to light a memorial candle, and blessed with holy water what he called the scene of incredible violence and pain," another article on the BBC said.
"The Pope then met 24 people with ties to the tragedy," the article said. "Exchanging a few words with each."
"Benedict's three-day visit to New York was the second leg of his six-day trip to the United States -- his first since he was elected to the papacy," the CNN article said.
The Papal visit to the United States has dominated the media over the last week. "It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community here," the pontiff said in the CNN article.

University Professors Accused

Two University of Minnesota professors have been accused of collecting two salaries. According to a Star Tribune article, the pair moved to Minneapolis in January from Georgia Tech but have been collecting salaries from both schools.
Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko, who are husband and wife, work in health informatics, the article said.
"The couple were making a total of just over $400,000 a year at Georgia Tech; their Minnesota salaries top $500,000," the article said.
The case is under investigation by the Georgia attorney general.
On top of the salaries, the couple allegedly had expense reports from Georgia Tech and travel reimbursement from the University of Minnesota.
Another article in the Pioneer Press said, "So far, Georgia Tech said it has identified about $100,000 in questionable spending, all from private funding sources."

April 19, 2008

Minnesota Bridge Problems

Minnesota is home to bridge work this summer. With the 35W Bridge underway was well as the Crosstown project diverting traffic, another metro bridge has been closed for work.
According to a Star Tribune article, the American Boulevard bridge in Bloomington has been closed to fix a construction error.
"The overpass is structurally sound," the article said. "But the western approach road has sagged because the wrong fill had been chosen to support it."
The fill, a substance called goefoam, was used because of the surrounding soil is "less than ideal," the article said.
The problem will be fixed with $360,000 of state and federal funds, the article said.
The closure came at an unfortunate time as another bridge, the 76th Street bridge, will close on April, 28, the article said.
American Boulevard is scheduled to reopen the next week, meaning two bridges within a mile of each other will be closed. "There was no way around it," a MnDOT spokeswoman in the article, said.