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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.

April 16, 2008

Colorado Wildfires

As wildfires rage through Colorado's eastern plains, thousands of acres have burned and at least three have died.
According to an Associated Press report on CNN.com, the fire has forced the entire town of Ordway, Colo., about 1,200 people, to evacuate.
An official said in the article that 50 percent of the fire was contained late Tuesday.
"A firefighting plane crashed near Fort Carson, killing the pilot, who was battling a blaze that scorched 9,000 acres -- about 14 square miles -- and forced the evacuation of people living near the base," the article said.
Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, has declared a state of emergency. The article said that state funds will be released in the effort to contain the fire.
Another article from a local FOX station said the fire is about 60 percent contained. The article also say that area highways are still closed and it is unsure when people will be able to return to their homes.

April 13, 2008

Italian Bakery, Jewish Conversion

I found this article in today's edition of the New York Times. It is about an Italian baker in the Bronx who makes a traditional Jewish bread, challah, because the neighborhood is very diverse.
I thought the article was interesting and moved beyond the stereotype that small stores, especially grocery stores, run by someone of a specific ethnicity, would sell only their type of food.
This man, an Italian, sells challah because there is a prominent Jewish population in the neighborhood. He also makes other types of food that people in the article said was, "better than their grandmother's."
The story uses quotes from the bakery owner, but also quotes a sociologist about the changing diversity of neighborhoods in New York.
This paragraph is a great example of what the article was trying to say about changing diversity in New York and elsewhere.

"In the old days, neighborhoods were more ethnically defined — or, as sociologists like to say, homogeneous. Ethnic bakeries could thrive just baking for their own. But according to demographers like Joseph J. Salvo of the New York City Department of Planning, more urban pockets are what they call “melting pot neighborhoods,? where no single ethnic group can claim more than 50 percent of the populace and other ethnicities are substantially represented. That character is increasingly true of a country where the governor of Louisiana is a son of Indian immigrants and a Democratic candidate for president is the son of a Kenyan."

In general, I thought it was an interesting piece and a great story about this man.

Northwest Delta Merger

An Associated Press article in the Pioneer Press said Sunday that a possible merger between Northwest and Delta Airlines could be announced as early as Tuesday.
Issues with pilot unions however still stood in the way, the article said.
"The deal, if announced, could see strong opposition from Northwest pilots," the article said.
The two airlines have been negotiating a possible merger since early this year. Issues with pilots' contracts are the biggest issue for the two companies.
"The deal, if announced, could see strong opposition from Northwest pilots," the article said. Delta pilots may see changes to their contracts.
"The changes being sought are related to the scope section in the Delta pilot contract, which in part spells out what planes pilots fly and what routes they fly," people familiar with the talks said in the article.
If merger talks do continue, the article said that the two sets of pilots may negotiate over one contract.
A merger between Delta and Northwest would create the world's biggest airline.

April 12, 2008

State Bans Smoking Shows

The curtain may be going down on the various smoking performances that bar owners have created in light of the state's smoking ban last year.
According to a Pioneer Press Article, the Minnesota Department of Health has filed against a Scott County bar on Friday for violating the ban. The bar, Bullseye Saloon in Elko, is one of many that hold "performances" so its patrons can smoke.
"The bars claimed an exception in the 2007 Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, which allows smoking as part of a theatrical performance, meant customers could smoke as long as they are considered part of the performance," the article said.
Minnesota Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan said the performances violate the statewide ban.
Many people have continued to hold performances after citations however.
"We've given them every opportunity to comply. That's always been our approach," Magnan said in the article. "When that approach isn't working and we see repeated violations, it's our responsibility to continue with enforcement actions."
Bar owners in the article said they will continue to fight the law.
According to an Associated Press article in the Star Tribune, the health department can fine the violating bars up to $10,000.
The Pioneer Press said that the first trial is expected for April 28 in Virginia, Minn.

More Cancellations for American

American Airlines is grounding 200 more of its MD-80s today bringing the total to over 3,000. The Associate Press reported in the Star Tribune that as thousands are stranded around the country, the airline's own employees were the "loudest."
"The pilots union took out full-page newspaper ads that asked, Why is American Airlines Failing Its Customers?" the article said.
American has been canceling flights since Tuesday and inspecting the wiring on the fleet of MD-80s. The FAA has been inspecting the planes all week and slowly releasing them back into service.
The article said the cost of the crisis has reached the tens of millions of dollars. "An analyst with Standard & Poor's estimated it could easily top $30 million," the article said.
"Overall, U.S. carriers have shut down about 3,700 flights since late March in response to failed Federal Aviation Administration safety inspections of MD-80 airplanes," another article on CNN.com said. "The FAA is conducting industrywide inspections of all jets that will continue through the end of June."
American is offering compensation for its customers, but as the inspections continue, air travel in the country has been reduced to a crawl.

Zimbabwe Election Crisis to End

Zimbabwe's election results may soon be released. According to a report on CNN.com, southern African leaders met in Zambia's capital on Saturday to end the dispute over the March election.
"Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was challenged in the race by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party, the Movement for Democratic Change, has appealed to Zimbabwe's High Court to compel the Electoral Commission to release the results," the article said.
According to the article, Tsvangirai has claimed victory, but Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission is going to conduct recounts in at least 23 polling stations.
"Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party lost its House of Assembly majority for the first time since 1980 in the 29 March poll, but no results have yet been released from the presidential race," said another article in the BBC.

April 8, 2008

Attempted Assault in Sauk Rapids

Faculty, staff and students at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School stopped a sexual assault shortly after classes on Monday. According to a Star Tribune report, students informed the office of the problem and the incident was stopped before it became, "really, really ugly and dangerous," Superintendent Greg Vandal said in the article.
The assault was between a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old woman in the school store the article said.
The school's Police Chief, Curtis Gullickson, said the boy has been taken to a juvenile detention center in Lino Lakes.
"The suspect has been charged as a juvenile with attempted criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and two counts of assault," another article from KARE 11 said.
Vandal said the incident could have been a lot worse if it were not for the fast response of the students and staff. ""It is because of that student response that this is less serious than it might have been," He said in the KARE article. "This is serious but those students helped it become less so."

April 6, 2008

Analysis- Nation on Wrong Track

The New York Times released an article with a poll on Friday saying American's are more dissatisfied with the country now than in the past. The article uses numbers in several ways, but percentages are the most prominent.
"In the poll, 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track,? up from 69 percent a year ago and 35 percent in early 2002," the article said. This is one of several ways the article.
The percentages are useful because the poll is about the American public. These numbers help put the poll into perspective for everyone.
Another way the article uses numbers is when talking about money and time.
I think these numbers are not overwhelming because the authors do a good job at spreading them out. There are not too many in one place. They also use a lot of numbers to make the reader understand better.
I would imagine that any of the numbers used were directly from the poll, so the authors themselves did not do any math. The poll was sponsored by the New York Times and CBS News.
Towards the bottom of the story, there is a paragraph explaining the sources, and dates of the poll. It included the number or people, the method, the dates and margin or error.

Google Maps Under Fire- Again

Google was recently forced to remove satellite images of a military base because of security issues. Now, a couple in a Pittsburgh suburb are suing the Internet giant because of breech of privacy. According to an Associated Press article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Aaron and Christine Boring are suing because images of their home in "street view" violate their privacy.
The lawsuit said that, "a major component of their purchase decision was a desire for privacy," according to the article.
Street view is a function where users can see an area from a street level, rather than a satellite picture.
Representatives of Google say "there is no merit to this action." The company provides a YouTube video with instructions on how to have images removed.
"We absolutely respect that people may not be comfortable with some of the imagery on the site," Larry Yu, a Google spokesman said in the article.
The Boring's are suing because of privacy, but the article says that Google is not the only place to find images of their home. "The Allegheny County real estate Web site has a photo, plus a detailed description of the home and the couple's name," the article said. "The site contains similar information, including pictures, of nearly every property in the county."

London Protests

As the Olympic torch made its way through London on Sunday, it was not met with happiness, rather protests. According to a report on CNN.com, at least 35 people have been arrested for trying to disrupt the torch's route through the city.
"Protesters angry about China's human rights record and its recent actions in Tibet scuffled with police and made attempts to grab the Olympic torch and douse it with a fire extinguisher Sunday," the article said.
According to the article, people were also waving signs that said "Free Tibet" and "Stop the Killing in Tibet."
"The relay, which featured many sports stars and celebrities, was also halted as it passed through Oxford Street in central London when human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell jumped into the road carrying a sign calling for the release of Chinese activist Hu Jia, who was jailed Thursday," the article said.
CNN said the route made an unannounced change and a detour on a bus because of the protests.
Another article on BBC.com said, "Pictures of the London relay were broadcast on China's state-controlled TV, but not of the protests and disruption."
The Olympics are in Beijing this Summer and London in 2012, according to the articles.

April 4, 2008

Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas, WCCO's weatherman for over a decade was released from the station today according to a Star Tribune article. Douglas was part of a nationwide purge throughout CBS due to low revenue and viewership, the article said.
"Douglas, who also serves as a Star Tribune columnist, joins at least five WCCO employees, including weekend anchor John Reger, who were told their services were no longer needed as the CBS corporation reacts to a sluggish economy and stiff competition from the Internet," the article said.
Douglas, 49, sent and e-mail to close friend that said, "Times are tough, many people are losing their jobs and I am not exempt from this troubling trend," according the the article.
Ken Stone said the move was "stunning and stupid" in a similar article in the Pioneer Press.
Douglas has been a broadcaster in Minnesota for over 20 years working between KARE, WCCO and parterned with the Star Tribune.
The Pioneer Press said that Minneapolis is not alone in the purge. "The New York-based broadcast and radio company is cutting staff at stations across the country including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston," the article said.
Douglas's situation may not be surprising as the media market is changing rapidly. "It's happening to newspapers and it's happening in the music industry and it's happening to movies," Stone said in the Pioneer Press.

April 3, 2008

Man Arrested in Tuesday's Attempted Abduction

The man who tried to abduct a 14-year-old girl in St. Paul on Tuesday was charged today with attempted kidnapping and false imprisonment. Ali S. Abdilahi, 31, of St. Paul appeared in Ramsey County District Court today for the alleged charges, a Star Tribune article said.
According to another article in the Pioneer Press, police are still searching for the other man involved in the crime who actually tried to pull the girl in the car.
"The girl has told police she didn't know either man," the article said.
The girl was approached Tuesday morning by the men and when they grabbed her, she hung on to the outside mirror of their car and was dragged about 30 feet, police say.
"An officer saw streaks of blood on the girl's leg, and scraped and bloody skin on her knees. Her clothes were wet and torn," the Pioneer Press article said.
Police arrest Abdilahi after the girl identified him in a linup, the articles said.
"She had seen and remembered part of the car's license plate, and wrote it down. Police ran variations of the number through law enforcement databases and found a car that matched the description the girl gave," the Pioneer Press said.
Abdilahi is being held at the Ramsey County jail. The Start Tribune said his bail is set at $35,000 while the Pioneer Press said it is $75,000.

Southwest Airlines

Problems with inspections on Southwest Airlines planes have been uncovered by the Federal Aviation Administration. According to a report on CNN.com, the issues with the inspection program were kept secret.
The article said that the airline tried to remove one person who discovered the problem from the from the inspections. "My supervisor called me into his office ... and told me he had had a meeting with the director of quality assurance and the AD [airworthiness directive] compliance leader from Southwest Airlines, and he had requested my removal from the inspection," Bobby Boutris said in the article.
Boutris and Douglas Peters presented information about Southwest's, "lack of compliance with mandatory inspection protocols," the article said.
The article said that some planes were as much as 30 months past a mandatory rudder inspection, and that dangerous cracks were found on six planes.
CNN said that they could not reach the FAA for comment.
According to the article, Boutris and Peters are set to testify to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee along with FAA representatives.
According to another article in the New York Times, "The inspectors said that their F.A.A. supervisors knew of the problems but had discouraged them from pursuing the safety problems or addressing problems within the agency, even threatening to relieve them of their duties."
""It is sad that an FAA inspector has to become a whistle blower in order to do his job," Boutris said in the CNN article. "And the job is -- that we were hired by the taxpayers -- to ensure the airlines provide safe transportation for the flying public. It shouldn't have to come to this."