April 2012 Archives

CAR analysis

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USA Today's story about lead factory contamination in nearby yards is a good example of CAR reporting.

They looked at records of soil tests and documents of hazardous contamination. USA Today also did their own soil testing of 21 neighborhoods. They used a 2007 report by the EPA to show the lack of response to previous concerns of contamination.

The reporter used analysis of these reports and data to determine they needed to do their own examination of the quality of government assessments.

They needed computer skills to a) find the documents and reports b) compute their own data. They needed basic searching skills along with more technical skills for testing.

TV for your dog

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Filmakers have created a TV show just for man's best friend. DogTV is eight-hours of on-demand cable TV programming designed to keep your dog relaxed, stimulated and entertained while you are at work, reported the Associated Press.

The show, currently airing to over a million viewers with two different cable companies in San Diego, is doing so well that PTV Media will offer it nationally in the next few months, Gilad Neumann, chief executive officer of DogTV, said to Associated Press.

It will cost about $4.99 a month, Neumann said. More than 46 million U.S. households have dogs (according to the American Pet Products Association) and 97 percent of U.S. homes have televisions.

To get the footage, camermen shoot "from the point of view of the dog," Neumann said. They then mute colors, alter sound and add music specially written for dogs. The show will have no commercials, ratings or reruns.

Mary Catania of San Diego is the owner of a year-old French bulldog that has been watching the show for a month and snorts and grunts his approval, she told the Associated Press.

"I always feel guilty leaving him alone all day when I'm at work," Catania said. "He's like my kid. I don't have any children so I really treat him like my child. Anything that makes him happy makes me happy."

The sights and sounds of the shows are muted, changed and added to accomodate the hearing level of dogs, their inability to see red and green, and incorporate stimulation and relaxtion patterns based on dog sleeping habits. New technology may be used to include smell as part of the programming.

Firework bill passes Minn. Senate

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A bill allowing for more explosive fireworks passed the Minn. Senate 41-22 on Tuesday. The House version of the bill is waiting for a floor vote.

Currently, the law only allows residents to purchase and use sparklers and other low-explosive toys, according to KSTP news.

Supporters of the bill say Minnesota residents buy large fireworks in Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota anyway. They say that, by allowing these larger explosives within state borders, they would generate money from sales taxes and eliminate a law rarely enforced.

Critics said that hospitals, law enforcement and fire chief organizations are opposed to the law because it will increase injuries and property damages.

The bill would take effect on June 1, if approved.

University of Colorado hopes to stop '420

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April 20, better known to some as "420," is unofficially known as a day for smoking and advocating the legalization of marijuana.

At the University of Colorado Boulder, one of the biggest pro-pot rallies is held annually at 4:20 p.m. on the campus' Norlin quad, reported CNN. Last year, more than 10,000 people showed up to smoke on the quad, some of them flying in from other states.

This year the University wants to end the ritual. They will close off the campus to anyone who isn't student or faculty, with violators facing trespassing charges. Police may also give out tickets to those smoking, though last year there were only 23 tickets and five arrests made for marijuana possesion.

The main way the campus is looking to prevent people from the smoke out is by fertilizing the quad with a strong fish-smelling fertilizer.

"We're trying to do things to make it not a fun place to be," said University spokesman Bronson Hilliard to CNN.

Sixteen states have legalized the use of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington are considering the legalization of the drug, according to the Associated Press.

Abortion bills pass Minn. House, Senate

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Two unrelated abortion bills passed the Minn. House and Senate on Wednesday.

The house passed a bill requiring a woman to take an abortion pill, like RU-486, in the presence of a doctor, reported the Star Tribune.

The bill passed also had an ammendment proposed and voted on. Proposed by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, the ammendment would require medical supervision of men taking Viagra, reported the Star Tribune. The house voted the ammendment down 95-28.

The Senate passed a bill requiring the state to licence clinics performing more than 10 abortions a month and subject the clinics to random inspections, according to the Star Tribune.

Sen. Claire Robling told lawmakers that the bill will prevent dangerous conditions being found in a few abortion clinics in other states, reported MPR.

DFL opponents say the bill singles out clinics that perform abortions and is unnecessary, reported MPR. The bill still needs House approval.

Taliban Commander turns self in for reward

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A mid-level Taliban commander in Paktika province, Mohammad Ashan, walked up to a police checkpoint holding a "Wanted" poster with his face on it. He demanded the finders fee of $100 written on the poster, reported the Washington Post.

Suspected of plotting two attacks on Afghan security forces, officials arrested him on the spot.

When U.S troops went to confirm it was Ashan, they were in disbelief.

"We asked him, 'Is this you?' Mohammad Ashan answered with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, 'Yes, yes, that's me! Can I get my award now?'" recalled SPC Matthew Baker told the Washington Post.

His identity as the wanted insurgent was confirmed with a biometric scan.

Wanted posters are distributed by NATO often, but mostly without direct results of an arrest. Some officials guess that the unusual circumstances of Ashan's arrset point towards desperation, lack of resources and its defiance of law and order. But others disagree.

"Clearly," one U.S. official said, "the man is an imbecile."

Best Buy Co. CEO resigns

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Best Buy Co. CEO Brian Dunn announced his resignition from the retailer.

The company announced on Tuesday that the decision was mutual and there were no disagreements with Dunn on any matter, according the the Associated Press report.

Dunn's resignition came just under two weeks after the company announced its plans to close 50 of its U.S. stores, open 100 small-format stores and cut $800 million in costs within the next five years.

Circuit City filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 and Best Buy is working to avoid doing the same. According to AP, big electronic retailers have been suffering as people buy their products online or from discount stores.

Best Buy said board member Mike Mikan will act as interim CEO until the company finds a permanent replacement.

7th graders save bus

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MILTON, Wash.-- Two seventh grade boys helped gain control of a bus when the driver suffered a medical emergency Monday morning.

Jeremy Wuitschick was returning to school on Monday after spring break when he noticed something wrong with the bus driver, reported Kare 11.

"The bus driver starts convulsing, his eyes are bulging... making weird rasping noises and his hands are twitching..." Wuitschick told Kare 11.

The 13-year-old ran down the aisle from his seat, turned the wheel to the right, bringing the bus to the side of the road, and took the keys out of the ignition, reported King 5 news. Wuitschick said he has some experience with cars because his mom lets him drive down their driveway.

Videos from the bus surveillance camera shows the boy starting chest compressions on the driver before another boy, Johny Wood, came up and told Wuitschick he knows CPR, according to King 5.

Wood told somebody to call 911, got students to clear the area and began performing the procedure.

The driver was brought to the hospital and it is still not clear what the problem he was suffering from. Deputy Schools Superintendent Jeff Short said he was in "grave" condition at the hospital, according to ABC news.

Short said students go over emergency bus procedures for what to do if the driver is incapacitated.

"I think they did an outstanding job," Short said.

A kindergarten boy showed off fifty packets of heroin for show and tell on Monday.

According to the Connecticut Post, the boy's stepfather was arrested when he came to retrieve the drugs.

The 5-year-old showed up to school wearing his stepfather's jacket. When it was time for his presentation, he opened the jacket and displayed 10 bags containing five folds of heroin, police spokesman Keith Bryant told the Connecticut Post.

The teacher immediately confiscated the drugs and contacted the principal who called police.

The boy's stepfather, Santos Roman, 35, came to the school searching for his stepson and the drugs, police told the Connecticut Post. When he found his jacket in an empty classroom he grabbed it and found the drugs gone. They had already been given to police.

Roman was taken into custody and charged with risk of injury to a minor, possession of narcotics, sale of narcotics and possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school. His bail is set at $100,000, according to the Associated Press.

The 5-year-old is in custody of the state until relatives can be contacted.

UMD play upsets Catholics

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A play scheduled for next week by the University of Minnesota Duluth has Catholics objecting because of its criticism of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

The play, "The Deputy", a 1963 script, is part of the school's annual Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration, reported the Duluth News Tribune. It criticizes the pope for not doing enough for Jews in the face of the Holocaust.

A Duluth priest, Fr. Richard Kunst, spoke with UMD Chancellor Lendley Black about cancelling the play. Other local Catholics have also contacted the school with their objections, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Black said they play will be performed as scheduled.

The year's theme for the commemoration is "Religious Institutions' Response to the Holocaust," and has discussions of multiple religious groups' response to save the Jews during that time.

The play itself isn't causing a lot of the upset, though. According to the Duluth News Tribune, the postcard for the event shows a faceless pope standing with a Nazi soldier on top of a Holocaust victim on one half. On the other half is Pope Pius XII above a concentration camp crematorioum

Kunst said the allegations in the play have been proven wrong and the play and postcard are "nothing more than hate speech."

This year's chairwoman of the Baeumler Kaplan Committee, Deborah Petersen-Periman, said they are only intending to raise awareness. She knows the event will be provocative but anyone is welcome to join the discussion following the play.

The commemoration runs Thursday through April 19 at UMD. "The Deputy, Acy IV" is set for Sunday.

South Korean defense officials said North Korea fired a long-range rocket early Friday, reported the Associated Press. This defys previous international warnings against a launch widely seen as a provocation.

In Washington D.C., U.S. officials say the launch may have failed, according to AP.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a televised news conference that North Korea launched the rocket around 7:39 a.m. He said officials were determining whether it was a success, but provided no further details and did not say how South Korea confirmed the launch.

North Korea announced it would send a three-stage rocket with a satellite as part of celebrating Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday, reported AP.

It is their third attempt to send a satellite into space since 1998.

Lowest unemployment rate goes uncelebrated

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According to the numbers released Friday morning, the unemployment rate is at 8.2 percent-- the lowest since January of 2009. But the number is not being celebrated.

According to the Washington Post, economic observers are more focused on the number of jobs added in March: 120,000. That number is significantly lower than the 240,000 added in February and not meeting the 205,000 expected for the month.

The unemployment rate can drop even with the a lower number of jobs added because it only takes into account those people actively looking for jobs and doesn't calculate the number who have stopped searching all together.

Despite the pullback in March, the economy has added 858,000 jobs since December, reported KSTP. This is the most solid four month gain in two years.

Hopes for Obama's re-election may depend partially on the the improvement in the unemployment rate and job creation; no incumbent has been in an election with unemployment rate higher than 7.8 percent since World War II.

Waitress gets to keep $12,000 tip

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A waitress in Moorhead, Minn. gets to keep a $12,000 tip left to her last week that police originally suspected as drug money.

Stacy Knutson, a waitress at Fryn' Pan restaurant was left a takeout container by a customer, reported Kare 11. The container held $12,000 in varying denominations.

Police told Knutson she could keep the money if nobody claimed it, but then said it was part of a drug investigation, reported KSTP.

On Thursday, reporters were told the money could not be tied to any criminal investigation and Knutson would receive a check.

The waitress said she thought it might be an anonymous donation to her family from somebody who knew about their financial difficulties.

Pope denounces disobedient priests

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Pope Benedict XVI denounced priests questioning church teaching on celibacy and ordaining women in his homily at Holy Thursday mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

He said the priests were disobeying his authority to try to impose their own ideas on the church, reported the Washington Post.

A group of Austrian priests launched the Pfarrer Initiative, pastor initiative, in 2006 as a call to disobedience to abolish priestly celibacy and allowing woman to be a part of the clergy, reported the Huffington Post.

The group has grown to over 300 Austrian priests and deacons as well as gaining support in other countries.

The Vatican and the archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, have not imposed any canonical penalties on the group.

Benedict said the dissidents claim to be motivated by concern for the church. But he said that they were just making "a desperate push to do something to change the church in accordance with (their) own preferences and ideas."

According to the Washington Post, Holy Thursday homilies are often unusual and directed solely towards priests as they renew the promises made when they are ordained.

Some 2012 college admission rates at all-time low

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Nearly all eight of the Ivy league institutions in the United States, among many other colleges across the country, reported all-time low percentages of students accepted for next year.

Despite having applications drop by 1.9 percent, Harvard University accepted only 5.9 percent of the students, reported the Washington Post. That is down from the 6.2 percent the university admitted last year.

The admissions for Yale University's class of 2016 was 6.8 percent, with a record high of 28,974 applicants.

Meanwhile, many other colleges accepted the lowest number of applicants than ever before as well. Princeton University accepted 7.9 percent of applicants, Cornell University admitted its lowest rate with 16.2 percent, Dartmouth College was at 9.4 percent and the University of Pennsylvania accepted 12.3 percent, reported CNN.

College rankings in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings depend partly on the selectivity rate of schools. The selectivity rate is the percentage of students schools accept vs. the number of applications they get and the lower it is, the better for rankings.

Harvard has claimed a declining rate of acceptance for seven year, according to the Washington Post.

Minnesota foods at Twins games

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Many new Minnesota-style foods are being added to the concession menus at the Target Field this Twins season.

A cheese-filled meatball from Valentini's Supper Club in the Iron Range is among the native foods, reported the Star Tribune.

Deep fried pickle chips from The Preferred Pickle and a baked potato bar, with four choices of potatoes, are State Fair favorites being brought to the stadium, according to CBS.

Other Minnesota foods include: mini donuts, Minnesota-based Leeann Chin stir fry, Pearson Salted Nut Roll and a wider variety of craft beers.

According to the Star Tribune, the stadium, which opened in 2010, has always had an emphasis on Minnesota food and drink for fans.

Numbers analysis

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The Star Tribune article about Best Buy cuts uses a lot of numbers.

They use numbers mostly financially to talk about money lost over the years, how much is cut now, how much they expect to save.
They used numbers for how many stores and jobs will be lost.
They used numbers for how many years (how much they will make per year, how much they lost per year, how long jobs have been dwindling).
They use percentages to talk about stocks.

I think the reporter may have used some math skills to talk about stock percentages/how much they fell.

The numbers aren't listed completely. They come from Best Buys newest report that they just released last week.

Elephant on the run in Ireland

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A 2.5 ton circus elephant broke away from its handlers and ran loose in Cork, Ireland Wednesday afternoon.

The 40-year-old elephant, named Baby, was filmed galloping through a mall parking lot, narrowly missing cars before breaking a barrier to a busy road, reported Fox DC.

MSNBC reported that the pachyderm was stopped and led back to the circus, only a short distance away. The incident took only about five minutes.

Reports said the elephant broke loose because it didn't want to take a bath.

Thrown: a punch and puppies

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Police in Anoka County arrested a man for punching his girlfriend, who retaliated with throwing 1-week-old pit bulls at him. Both are in the Anoka County Jail, according to the Pioneer Press.

David Peter Remme, 25, and Gabrielle Tywon Allen,20, were arguing in a parking lot outside an apartment building early Thursday according to Fridley police. Remme allegedly punch Allen in the face. Allen was sitting in the passenger seat of a pickup truck when she threw three puppies at Remme, who was standing outside the truck.

Remme was arrested on suspicion of third-degree assault and Allen was arrested on possible charges of animal cruelty.

Lt. Mike Monsrud told the Pioneer Press that the puppies landed on the concrete, but appear to be okay.

St. Thomas loses law school rank

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St. Thomas School of Law lost its ranking spot on the U.S. News and World Report magazine list of "Best Law Schools" after an error in the schools reports.

The school's No. 119 spot was 16 spots higher than the school's previous position, reported the Star Tribune. Now it is pushed to "unranked."

According to St. Thomas' Bulletin, the School of Law reported the number of 2010 graduates employed at the time of graduation incorrectly. The school reported 80.6 percent of graduates had jobs at the time of graduation. The actual number was 32.9 percent.

St. Thomas reported the error immediately after it was seen in an advance copy of the rankings, saying it was an honest mistake.

Dean Thomas Mengler rejected the decision to unrank the school, saying that it will "create a disincentive for law schools to promptly report mistaken or erroneous data," reported the Star Tribune.

Editor of the U.S. News stood by the magazine's decision. The publication said that the school would be in the "unranked" category "until the publication of the next Best Graduate Schools rankings and until the accuracy of each school's next data submission is confirmed to U.S. News."

St. Thomas was second of four Twin Cities law schools, behind the University of Minnesota, ranked 19, and before William Mitchell, ranked 127. The school will now stand with unranked Hamline University.

Arab League meeting

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Arab leaders met in Baghdad for their first summit in two years, reported CBC news. Only 10 of the 22 leaders were in attendance.

It is the first time Arab League leaders will meet since the Arab Spring began just over a year ago, and Irag is stepping out after a decade of bloodshed to host the event.

As Arab leaders came off their plane, an explosion was heard near the Iranian Embassy. No casualties were reported.

Iraq had sought to secure Badhdad but had avoided predictions that they could prevent such an attack during the meeting, reported the New York Times.

The country had hoped the summit would signal its return to the Arab fold but the absence of Arab leaders and the inability to prevent attacks despite security operations may suggest that Iraq has a way to go before it can re-enter the Arab world, according to CBC.

On Wednesday night, Arab diplomats urged Syria to agree to a cease-fire plan from the United Nations, but the ministers and ambassadors refused to adopt measures calling for Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, to resign or to arm opposition fighters.

Central Baghdad has been quiet since the summit began. Up to 100,000 security forces have been put in the city, nearly every bridge closed to traffic and several neighborhoods said they had no cellphone service. The government declared a national holiday for the summit and many Iraqis are at home watching the meeting coverage, according to the New York Times.

Security officials say their measures have been a success.

Medical marijuana store sets up shop in D.C

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A company providing supplies for growing medical marijuana will be setting up shop Friday only a few miles from the White House.

WeGrow first opened in Sacremento last year by Dhar Mann. It has since opened a store in Phoenix and is looking to open stores in San Jose and Flagstaff, Arizona in the future. The store is also located in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and is working to move into Oregon, Washington state and Michigan, according to the Huffington Post.

The District of Columbia and 16 states have legalized medical marijuana to treat ailments ranging from back pain to anxiety, according to the Washington Post. Legislation in January put a limit on how much medical marijuan could be grown.

WeGrow sells plant food and vitamins, along with ventilation and lighting systems. The store will offer how-to classes, books and magazines about growing the plant, reported the Huffington Post. The store will not sell the plant or seeds to grow the plant.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2012 is the previous archive.

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