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February 26, 2008

New Blu-ray Players From Sony

The Associated Press wrote today that Sony Corp. will release new high definition Blu-ray players this summer.
"It will be the first new player from Sony, the inventor of Blu-ray, since the format beat out the other technology that vied to become the high-definition replacement for the DVD," said the article appearing in The New York Times.
The other technology was Toshiba's HD DVD format which the company announced would be dropped.
Sony's new player will include features like broadband connectivity to download bonus materials, and a picture-in-picture option. "The picture-in-picture feature, called Bonus View, can be used to show director or actor commentary in a small window while the movie plays," said the article.
The new players will sell for $400 to $500. The more expensive model will be ready to connect to online content out of the box said the article. The $400 model will require an update.
"In these respects, Blu-ray players are playing catch-up to HD DVD players, which have had Internet- and picture-in-picture capabilities since they first came out in 2006," said the article.

Pawlenty's Veto Overridden

Minnesotans will soon be paying more at the pumps. In an historic override of Governor Pawlenty's transportation bill veto, Minnesota House and Senate put the law into action.
According to The Star Tribune, the bill proposed $6.6 billion for better roads and bridges. It is also the first state gas tax increase in 20 years, said The Star Tribune.
The override is Pawlenty's first and in The Star Tribune, he called the plan "ridiculous."
"Six House Republicans joined the DFL majority in the 91-41 vote, one vote more than the two-thirds majority needed and two more than the bill got Thursday," said The Star Tribune.
The Senate vote was 47-20.
"Such override votes are rare," said The Pioneer Press. "Pawlenty, a Republican, is one of five governors in the past seven decades to have the Legislature pass a law over his veto."
The new law, according to the articles, will not only increase the gas tax, but license tab fees. Hennepin County will also see a 0.25 percent increase in sales tax.
"I think today we all knew we were making history," said Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud in The Star Tribune.
Representatives for and against the law talked in the articles, but either way, prices are about to go up.

February 24, 2008

Nader Runs for President

Ralph Nader announced Sunday that he will run for president as an independent.
Nader said it is time for a "Jeffersonian revolution," said CNN.com. "In the last few years, big money and the closing down of Washington against citizen groups prevent us from trying to improve our country. And I want everybody to have the right and opportunity to improve their country," he told reporters after an appearance announcing his candidacy on NBC's "Meet the Press."
This run for president marks Nader's forth time. The fifth if the write-in campaign in 1992 is included.
The Washington Post said that Nader is running, "To draw attention to issues ignored by the major candidates in both parties: corporate crime, worker rights, military spending and foreign policy."
Many say that Nader's run helped George Bush win Florida over Al Gore in 2000. "Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, said he thought Nader's run would help his party," said The Washington Post.
The Democratic candidates give different comments in the two stories. CNN.com said both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called the move "very unfortunate," where as The Washington Post said the candidates said they don't think Nader will make much of a difference.


Castro's Brother Named President

The BBC on Sunday announced that Raul Castro will replace Fidel Castro as president of Cuba.
He was unanimously selected in Cuba's National Assembly, said the BBC. "Raul has in effect been president since Fidel had major surgery in July 2006."
Fidel Castro announced last week he would be stepping down as president.
Raul Castro, 78, said the government would still consult Fidel Castro, 81, "on major decisions of state - a move backed by the National Assembly deputies," said the BBC.
Another article from Reuters said, "He is expected to bring some economic reforms and he said he might revalue the peso currency."
Reuters also said that Jose Ramon Machado Ventura was appointed vice president. Both articles said Machado Ventura is a hardliner for the communist party.

February 23, 2008

Texas Wind Farms

Texas is quickly changing from the oil capital of North America to the wind power capital.
According to The New York Times on Saturday, the recent growth in wind power farms can account for more than 3 percent of the electricity in the state. "Enough to supply power to one million homes," said The New York Times.
With the continued crisis over greenhouse gases and foreign oil, wind turbines are appearing all over the country. "Installed wind capacity in the United States grew 45 percent last year," said The New York Times. The growing number of turbines is providing clean energy to American homes, and also surpassing European countries like Spain in the numbers according to The New York Times.
There are still issues to work out, however. "Though the gap is closing, electricity from wind remains costlier than that generated from fossil fuels," said The New York Times. "Wind power is intermittent and unpredictable, and the hottest days, when electricity is needed most, are usually not windy."
But with all the issues, wind power is getting cheaper, and experts are working on solutions.
Meanwhile, wind powered energy is still growing, providing a clean, renewable resource to Americans. "At the end of 2007, Texas ranked No. 1 in the nation with installed wind power of 4,356 megawatts (and 1,238 under construction), far outdistancing California’s 2,439 megawatts (and 165 under construction). Minnesota and Iowa came in third and fourth with almost 1,300 megawatts each (and 46 and 116 under construction, respectively)," said The New York Times.

February 22, 2008

Van Driver in Bus Crash Is in U.S. Illegally

The van driver involved in the Cottonwood school bus crash is said to be in the U.S. illegally, officials say.
In an article in The Star Tribune, the woman, Alianiss Nunez Morales, is using an alias. According to the article she has been charged with four counts of criminal-vehicular homicide, running a stop sign and driving without a license.
Another article in The Pioneer Press said, "The first four counts are felonies that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both."
Morales told officials she is from Mexico. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have reason to believe that she is in the country illegally and using an alias, according to The Pioneer Press.
The Pioneer Press also said that Immigration officials have showed pictures of the real Alianiss Morales to her grandparents in Puerto Rico. "They did not recognize the woman in the picture."
"Judge Leland Bush set bail at $400,000 without conditions or $200,000 with conditions," said The Pioneer Press.

February 21, 2008

Spy Satellite Destroyed

The U.S. Military successfully destroyed the rogue spy satellite falling towards Earth.
According to CNN.com, Marine Gen. James Cartwright said Thursday, "We have a high degree of confidence we got the tank."
The tank was full of toxic hydrazine fuel that officials say could have disbursed, "harmful of even potentially deadly fumes over an area the size of two football fields," said CNN.
According to another article in The New York Times, General Cartwright said that it could take 24 to 48 hours for the Pentagon consider the mission a success. "Even so, he said the military had 80 to 90 percent confidence the fuel tank was breached," said The New York Times.
The missile was launched from The USS Erie from the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii on Wednesday, and the satellite was hit 24 minutes later, according to CNN.

February 17, 2008

NIU Shootings

I did not choose the very first report of the Northern Illinois University shootings, but this first article from CNN.com was updated from the original report.
The second story is coming from time.com, but in the header of the page, it says "In partnership with CNN." I do not think they are competing news sources.
The leads in the story are slightly different. The first lead gives the most important information. "A gunman dressed in black stepped from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday and shot 21 people, five of them fatally, then shot and killed himself, said university president John Peters."
The second lead is completely centered around the release of the gunman's name. "The gunman who killed five people in a Northern Illinois University lecture hall before committing suicide was identified Friday as 27-year-old former student Steven Kazmierczak, according to Florida authorities and a university official familiar with the investigation. "
The first story covers the event that happened at NIU. It gives commentary from police officers and students for example. It also give some information about the classroom and the college. The second story touches some of this information, but since the biggest part was the release of the gunman's name, it talks more about that. For example, Kazmierczak's father was interviewed in Florida.
The second story advances from the original report of the shootings to the release of not only the gunman's name, but also the five victims.
I think these two stories are perfect examples of how to advance a news story, and how to weave in the new and more important information to a previously written story.

HD DVD/ Blu-Ray Battle Near End

Reuters reported today that Toshiba is expected to abandon its HD DVD format and its stocks rose 5 percent.
With HD DVD being scrapped, Sony's high definition DVD format, Blu-Ray, will become the standard. Sony's stocks also rose 2.5 percent.
Toshiba's decision to stop production on HD DVD came, "after losing the support of key retailers and several movie studios including Warner Brothers," said the article.
Many financial analysts applauded the decision because of the high cost of promoting the product. "Nikko Citigroup raised its rating on Toshiba to "buy/high risk" from "hold/high risk". JP Morgan maintained its "overweight" rating while predicting the elimination of sales promotion costs would add 30 billion yen ($280 million) to Toshiba's operating profit in the next business year from April," said the article.
With the high competition between HD DVD and Blu-Ray, many consumers have waited to upgrade their equipment until one format was standardized. The article mentions a similar battle between VHS and Betamax in the 1980's.

USDA Calls for Largest Beef Recall in History

The AP reported on CNN.com on Sunday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a slaughterhouse that is under investigation for mistreating cattle.
According to the article, it is the largest beef recall in United States history. "The amount of beef- 143 million pounds- is roughly enough for two hamburgers for each man, woman and child in the United States," said the article.
Westland/ Hallmark Meat Co. supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and is under investigation after a video surfaced showing workers committing inhumane practices
"Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, Food Safety and Inspection Service has determines them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall," said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Shafer in the article.
The article also said that, "authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing "downer" animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino County prosecutor Michael Ramos said."
It is estimated that much of the meat has already been consumed and the recall includes products dating to February 1, 2006.
"Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak," said the article.
"Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages. The USDA said it will owkr with distributors to determine how much meat remains," said the article.
A full list of the recalled product can also be found on CNN.com.

Heat Radiator Falls on Student

The Star Tribune reported that a student in Chaska suffered a broken leg Thursday after a large radiator fell from the ceiling of his school and stuck him.
Two other teachers and two students were also injured at the Guardian Angles Catholic School, but no one was severely hurt. Nancy Ronhovde, the school's principal, said in the article that the heater did not fall straight down and, "It could have been a lot worse."
The radiator unit was about 400 pounds, and 2-feet by 5-feet according to the article.
"Students were preparing for a Valentine's Day party," said the article.
The Guardian Angles School is approximately 100 years old, and the incident occurred in the basement. According to the article, Ronhovde said the basement will not be used until experts consider it safe.

February 16, 2008

Street Racing Disaster Kills 7

The AP reported on CNN.com today that a street racing crash killed seven bystanders in Acconkeen, MD.
"The car went out of control on Route 210 around 3:40 a.m. and slammed into the crowd standing on the roadside," Prince George's County Police Cpl. Clinton Copeland said. "It's probably one of the worst scenes I've seen."
Four people were taken to hospitals, but their conditions are not known.
A tractor-trailer may have also hit someone as the driver tried to avoid the crash.
Acconkeen, Maryland is about 20 miles south of Washington according to the article.

February 12, 2008

Journalists Missing in Iraq

The BBC reported Tuesday that two CBS reporters are missing in the Iraqi city of Basra.
"Police and witnesses said they were seized from a hotel in the city of Basra by at least eight gunmen," Said the BBC. CBS declined to release their identities, but said that efforts are under way to find them.
The journalists are thought to be a reporter and a translator, and according to witnesses, they were taken in official police vehicles.
According to another article from the New York Times, the hotel in which they were taken from, the Qasr al-Sultan, was popular for journalists covering the conflict. After two killings in 2005, journalists were more cautious, staying in guarded areas closer to the airport.
Iraq has become increasingly dangerous for journalists. "The disappearance of the journalists comes amid continuing concern about the dangers faced by media staff in Iraq. Said the BBC. International media watchdogs report dozens of journalists killed each year since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003."

February 10, 2008

Writers' Stike may be Close to an End

Recent negotiations between Hollywood executives and the Writers Guild of America may bring a long awaited end to the three-month strike. The New York Times reported today that the writers could be back to work by Wednesday pending a three-year deal with production companies.
The biggest issue for the strike has been new media revenues, which the writers wanted more of. "In the third year of the Writers Guild deal, writers will be paid a percentage of the distributor’s revenue rather than the flat fee for Web-streamed television shows granted to the directors," said the New York Times. "Writers had demanded a much bigger share of returns from downloads and Web streaming than they had received in the past."
The strike has changed the face of television across the country bringing more reality shows and reruns. The movie industry has also extended the release of many blockbuster films. Most importantly, the governing boards of the unions represent 12,000 writers who have been out of work since early November.
An end to the strike will be a return to work for the writers and long awaited original content for viewers.

February 8, 2008

Bhutto Killed by Blast, not Bullet

The British High Commission announced today that ex-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed by the effect of a bomb, not a gun. After her sudden death in December, detectives from Scotland Yard were asked by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to conduct an investigation. According to a BBC report, "the UK police report confirmed that shots were fired- but said they were not the cause of death."
Even though the Scotland Yard investigation is conclusive, evidence for the case was very limited. Barbara Plett, a BBC reporter in Islamabad, says the scene was hosed down just hours after Bhutto died, eliminating forensic evidence. Her body was not X-rayed, but Dr. Nathaniel Cary is cited in the detectives' report saying, "The only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb blast."
Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), insisted that she was assassinated by the shooter that day. They have accused the government of a cover-up.
According to The Press Association, "a spokesman for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who was appointed party leader after his mother's death, said the report would be used as a diversion away from the real issue of finding the killers."

Severe Storms Hit the South

Thunderstorms that produced tornadoes rolled across the South Tuesday night and Wednesday morning killing about 50 people and injuring at least 100 more. According to the New York Times article, authorities were still searching Wednesday for people trapped in the ruins. The storms continued to push east and prompted tornado warnings in areas of Georgia, Alabama and northern Florida. "Even if no tornadoes develop there, the storms are expected to bring pelting rains and gusting winds, forecasters said."
President Bush has pledged for assistance from the federal overnment. "Prayers can help and so can the government,? he said in a statement Wednesday.
The Washington Post said that Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee paused their victory speeces to remember the victims.
In the aftermath of the storm, survivors combed through the rubble in search of any remains. Kim Vererka, a survivor of a twister in Arkansas, made the decision to leave her six dogs and one cat when she ran for cover. The next day, all seven pets were recovered with minor harm.
It will take several weeks for communities to function again as cleanup begins. Classes at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. were canceled for two weeks because the storm severely damaged campus. "It looks like a war zone," said David Dockery, the university's president, to CNN. "There were 3,300 students in class yesterday and 1,200 on campus last night." Luckily, the university area had no deaths reported.

February 3, 2008

Internet Failure Hits Two Continents

The original story from CNN
I chose this lead because I think it was an excellent example of a hard-news lead. "High-technology services across large tracts of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa were crippled Thursday following a widespread Internet failure which brought many businesses to a standstill and left others struggling to cope." We see an element for the "what" high-technology services, "where" areas of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, "when" Thursday, Jan. 31. I believe the "who" in this story are are the people that were affected. A large portion of the story talks about them.
There are some detailed elements like where and when, but then the rest of the story explains much more about the how and why of the issue.
This was the first entry I made, and it was right after we had learned about leads. I can see why they are so important. The majority of the information covered in the story was given in the first sentence. Someone could have read that much and known at least a little about the problem.

Skiers Lost in California

CNN.com released today a report from the Associated Press saying two skiers are lost near Lake Tahoe Resort in northern California.
Over the weekend, the winter storm dropped several feet of new snow in the area. "The skiers Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco, California, were reported missing Saturday night at the Alpine Meadows resort just north of Lake Tahoe, said Placer County sheriff's Sgt. Allan Carter." They are reported as expert skiers and were last seen the night before their disappearance.
Authorities are unsure where the skiers are, but are searching a wide area including areas outside of the resort's boundaries.
The blizzard caused an avalanche closing Alpine Meadows Sunday, but the search continues. Carter says the skiers have a "pretty good" chance for survival. "If you keep moving and have a positive attitude and know how to construct a snow shelter, you can survive."
According to another AP report, the search will resume Monday, but these disappearance are one of many to blame on the latest winter storm.

Across "Our" Universe

Feb. 4, 2008, has been titled "Across the Universe Day," among Beatles fans.
According to a news release from NASA, the organization will use its Deep Space Network, an array of satellites that support space space exploration, to transmit the famous Beatles tune "Across the Universe" to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the day the Beatles recorded the song.
The transmission will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA's beginning and the 45th for the Deep Space Network. All of which happened on Feb. 4. "The transmission is being aimed at the North Star, Polaris, which is located 431 light years away from Earth."
Beatles member, Paul McCartney said," Amazing...send my love to the aliens."
The Lede said in its report of the event that the last time NASA used the array to send a signal rather than receive was the first and only time.
"Across the Universe" is set to go, well, across the universe on Monday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m Eastern time.

Five Dead in Mall Shooting

Five women were shot Saturday at a suburban Chicago shopping mall. According to a CNN report, the victims were found in the back room of the Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, Illinois. Police say the motive for the homicide was robbery. The gunman has not been found, but officials say, "about 50 area police officers are involved in the search for the man and the weapon."
According the the Associated Press, Tinley Park has had only one reported murder between 1999 and 2006, and some are taking the event exceptionally hard. Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki said, "[The killings are a] sad commentary on our society," and has ordered flags at half-staff for five days.
Local police released the names of the victims and many family members and friends released quotes remembering their loved ones.
As of now, there is a vague description of the assailant and a $50,000 reward from Lane Bryant.

Obama Takes Minneapolis

Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama spoke to a nearly full house at the Target Center Saturday. The Pioneer Press called it, "One of the state's larger political gatherings in recent years."
Obama impressed supporters with references to Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone. He said, "We are in a defining moment in history. ... We cannot afford to wait."
One of the biggest parts of this story was not the rally, but the wait to get inside. The Pioneer Press described it as a five-hour wait with crowds winding through downtown Minneapolis's skyway system. The Star Tribune said the waiting line resembled a group waiting for a concert because of the loud music booming from inside the Target Center.
Supporters and non-supporters alike were among the nearly 20,000 attendees who had the chance to hear the candidate speak. Both articles mentioned people who came undecided, but only The Pioneer Press quoted a person who is now choosing Obama.
Obama's visit was well received and just in time, as Minnesota will caucus on Tuesday.