A Craigslist Crime

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Maureen Orth wrote an in-depth feature in October's Vanity Fair about Phillip Markoff, a man who set up meetings with three women via Craigslist. During the appointment, two of these women were robbed, and one woman was murdered.


Markoff, a 22-year-old Boston University medical student, is convicted of the two armed robberies and murder. According to the victims, Markoff set up "sensual massage" appointments with them under the "Craigslist Erotic Services" section in the online marketplace.


In each case, Markoff allegedly came to their rooms, bound them at gunpoint, and then stole money and other belongings. In the murder case, he is accused of shooting the woman when she resisted. Markoff pleads not guilty.


I feel like this story is a combination of a human-interest and trend story. It brings up the dark side of Craigslist while giving in-depth descriptions and backgrounds of the people involved.


Orth started her story well. She describes the crime in a series of events that compelled me as a reader.


Midway through the story, I frankly grew bored. There were sections thick with facts that would get lost in the frame of the story. It did give her a well-rounded story, but it was just too much to absorb for me.


I find the "moral" of the story most important. It shows the threats of the Internet and what can happen when you aren't careful. 

Fighting the flu in a foreign country

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A feature in The New York Times magazine by Susan Conley talks about an issue that we are all familiar with by now, the H1N1 pandemic. Conley's story tells about her experience with traveling during in the past year and living in China with the threat of the flu.


Conley begins by specifically describing flying into Beijing in August and fearing for the worst when having to go through quarantine checks. As a parent, she didn't want to have her two children swept away to isolation if a fever was detected.


Conley also describes her encounters with Chinese healthcare and battle with breast cancer within the country. She sums it up with, "Ever since, I've tried to avoid Beijing hospitals."


This story is a trend story because it deals with the topic of H1N1 in China. Conley was able to give a personal reaction to the health scare and describe for readers what it is like.


The story starts well with a description of flying into Beijing and awaiting a health check. She ties in humor, which makes the story enjoyable to read.


I could personally relate to this story because I had to go through the same quarantine procedure that she describes when I flew into Beijing this summer. I felt the same panic, which she describes well in the story.


Conley keeps the H1N1 theme throughout the story, and draws on different experiences, like her kids' constant health checks in school, to give readers a rounded view. 

Dubai debts and attitudes

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I came across a brief feature from The New Yorker by Ian Parker on the rapidly rising debt Dubai faces.


Iceland recently dealt with an economic disaster that left them defeated but ready to take action to deal with the crisis. Dubai, on the other hand, is somewhat "shameless" in asking for extensions on payments, all while its stocks fell 5.6 percent yesterday.


Dubai's media insists that the rest of the world cannot relate to the economic issues of Dubai, so their debt cannot be compared to any other country. Although the economy must be monitored, because Dubai is a city that is heavy with foreign investments.


Dubai is a city of excess: villa lined streets, mammoth, glossy shopping malls, indoor ski slopes offering snowy recreation in a desert. All of these things are indications of a flourishing economy.


Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, said, "[We] give a lot of courage to neighbors in the region, whereby they say, if Dubai can do it, we can do it."


This feature is a trend story. It discusses how countries outside of the United States are dealing with recessions.


As brief as it is, the story packs in a lot of information, tying in Iceland's economy. I think that it is a bit too short for the subject. It could be double the size and could explore more areas and effects of the recession.


Parker did a good job showing the contrast of attitude and reality in Dubai. He ended the feature with a fact: "Today, Dubai may owe more than eighty billion dollars."

TwinCities.com reported Nov. 19 on the arrest of two people involved in creating a YouTube video showing a series of random assaults on unsuspecting victims.


St. Paul police arrested two on Nov. 18, one adult and one juvenile, said police spokesman Sgt. Paul Schnell.


On the morning of Nov. 17, St. Paul police began to receive numerous e-mails and phone calls regarding the video of attacks, which was posted on YouTube. The video appears to show young men randomly attacking people, Schnell said.


The video shows many assaults, including knocking over a bicyclist, pushing over a man walking, and chasing and pushing down a child.


Based on the settings of the video, investigators believe that most of them took place in St. Paul.


The investigators of the gang unit have been in charge of identifying the men who were involved in the creation of the video. In the beginning of the video, eight men are introduced by their street names, such as "Shark" and "Gun Play."


 It is hard to determine whether the victims were seriously injured or not, Schnell said. The young men videotaping usually ran away or stopped taping following the assault.


Twelve attacks are included in the video, titled "Watch This T.V."


The person who posted the video closed his or her account after removing the video Tuesday morning.


This video is related to similar videos that have come about in the past 10 years, which depict acts of violence. One such video gained national attention. The March 2008 video showed the beating of a 16-year-old Florida cheerleader. Five teenage girls were convicted because of the video.


Anyone who has been victim of the young men seen in the YouTube video should call St. Paul police at 651-291-1111.

New Haven firefighters get promotions after discrimination case

CNN.com reported Wednesday that the city of New Haven will promote 14 firefighters who were involved in a reverse discrimination case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.


The 14 were part of a group one Hispanic and 19 white firefighters, the "New Haven 20," who fought the city after it threw out a promotion exam given in 2003 which too few minorities passed. They claim that the city gave preferential treatment to blacks.


The U.S. District Court issued a judgment that said that the city violated civil rights when it threw out the exams.


Matt Marcarelli, a white firefighter, earned the top score on the written exam in 2003, but after the city reviewed the test results Marcarelli was denied a promotion.


"Every day I go to work I've got to pin this lieutenant's badge on me, it reminds me I got screwed out of a captain's badge because of the color of my skin," Marcarelli said before the promotion, ABC News reports.


Out of New Haven's 221 firefighters, blacks make up about a third of the workforce.


The 14 firefighters will be promoted to either lieutenant or captain.

CNN.com reported Monday about the jail sentence of a Chinese blogger who helped the victims of a 2008 earthquake.


Huang Qi was sentenced to three years in prison, the maximum sentence, his attorney, Mo Shaoping, said. The charges were for "illegally holding secret state documents," Shaoping said.


Huang blogged to help families of children who were killed because of the collapse of poorly constructed school buildings during the May 12, 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He was detained in June 2008.


The U.S. State Department protested the ruling, explaining that Huang's activities supported China's efforts to institute the rule of law.


Huang made posts on his human rights site, 64Tianwang, criticizing the way earthquake relief was being handed, according to Reporters Without Borders.


"The reports we are seeing are biased," Huang wrote on May 20, 2008, according to Reporters Without Borders.


"The government is using its propaganda to portray itself as a savior to little avail. Few citizens trust the government because of the corruption scandals that already occurred during similar disasters in the past," Huang wrote.


Huang also posted appeals and complaints of families affected by the earthquake.


Officials said they found two government documents in his residence. Huang was charged with illegal possession of state secrets after the posting and was tried secretly in August, Amnesty International said.


Amnesty International protested the sentencing. "The government is penalizing someone who is trying to help the victims of the Sichuan earthquake. Huang Qi should be treated as a model citizen, committed to the rule of law, but instead he has fallen victim to China's vague state secrets legislation," said Sam Zarifi, director of Amnesty International's Asia Pacific program.


Reporters Without Borders said last week that despite Huang suffering bad headaches, he had been held in "very harsh conditions."


Mo said Huang plans to appeal the sentencing, but if he cannot lift the sentence, Huang will be released in June 2011 after serving his three years in prison. 

Recent Comments

  • jacks572: First off, I have to say you're a brave, brave read more
  • moham245: I agree that the feature could've been longer and more read more
  • Carly: This story was interesting because Craigslist is such a prominent read more

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