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April 26, 2009

Records/CAR Analysis

Poisoned Waters: http://www.ire.org/extraextra/environment/poisoned-waters/
Story in The Washington Post

This story incorporated computer-assisted reporting through its use of online government databases. The U.S. Geological Survey databases were used for statistics on chemicals found in waterways and their prevalence within drinking water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture databases were used in order to locate areas where pollution was high because of agricultural runoff. These two sources advanced the story into one that is much more fact-based. Without this information and the locating functions of these sources, the story would not have advanced itself into something larger than a discussion on the the Chesapeake Bay and the Puget Sound. The studies on the water quality made it a much more newsworthy story.

University students riot in Dinkytown

A party on Spring Jam weekend in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota campus turned into a riot on Saturday night, according to KSTP TV.

The party, on 7th Street and 14th Avenue in Minneapolis, started around 8 p.m. and did not end until early morning hours on Sunday, KSTP TV reported.

More than 60 police officers called to the scene used tear gas, pepper spray and smoke grenades in order to control the crowd of and estimated 400 to 500 people, KSTP TV reported.

When police arrived some students threw bottles and rocks at them. Many homes and cars in the area were damaged during the riot, according to KSTP TV.

At least six people were arrested but no one was seriously injured, KSTP TV reported.

In a statement released by the university, the University of Minnesota Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart spoke about the incident.

"Last night's events near Dinkytown, where a block party got out of control, were an unacceptable display of lawless behavior. This kind of conduct is not reflective of our student body or the University of Minnesota community," Rinehart said. "Recently, we strengthened our student conduct code to be applicable to off-campus situations such as this. We intend to use that code to its fullest as more is learned about those who were arrested and involved in this incident."

April 25, 2009

Tayler Hill selected Miss Basketball

Minneapolis South's Tayler Hill was selected as Minnesota's Miss Basketball award winner on Saturday morning, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

Hill led Minneapolis South to the AAAA championship last month and was Minnesota's overall lead scorer with 3,894 points, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

During her senior season, she averaged 32 points per game and was a McDonald's All-American and a WBCA All-American, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"It is a great honor,'' Hill told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It wraps everything up really nicely.''

Hill was one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country, and decided last week to attend Ohio State to play basketball next year, KSTP-TV reported.

Hill told KSTP-TV that "this was a very tough decision and it wasn't something that wasn't easy for my family and I to come to. But it was the best decision for me."

3 people killed in shooting

Three people were slain in shootings at a community theater near the University of Georgia on Saturday, according to CNN.

Athens-Clarke County coroner Sonny Wilson said the three people were shot off campus around 12:30 p.m. Saturday. There were no other immediate details, according to StarTribune.

Authorities are searching for George Zinkhan, a professor in the department of marketing and distribution at the Terry College of Business, in association with the killings, CNN reported.

The Athens-Clarke County police are investigating the events and the campus police are assisting, CNN reported.

The news has spread throughout the school in Athens, about 70 miles east of Atlanta, StarTribune reported.

"The University community is shocked and saddened at this tragic event," University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams, said in a written statement and CNN reported. "Our first thoughts are for safety of the university community and for prompt apprehension of the person responsible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have been affected."

3-year-old struck, killed by car

A 3-year-old girl was struck and killed by a truck in St. Paul on Saturday morning, the StarTribune reported.

The girl, Mai Yer Moua, died at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, St. Paul Fire Department spokesman Steve Zaccard told the StarTribune. Moua was struck at about 9:30 a.m. in the 900 block of Rose Av. E. StarTribune reported.

Paramedics treated her at the scene, and a special trauma unit was activated at the hospital, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Moua was trying to cross the street to reach her father when she was struck, Peter Panos, a spokesman for the St. Paul Police Department, told the StarTribune.

Panos called the girl's death accidental, StarTribune reported.

U.S. journalist jailed in Iran on hunger strike

A U.S. journalist jailed in Iran for allegedly spying for the United States is on a hunger strike, her father told CNN.

Roxana Saberi, 31 and a dual American-Iranian citizen, entered her fifth day of the hunger strike on Sunday, the StarTribune reported.

"She said that she has started a hunger strike and this is the fifth day and that she will continue until she is free. I tried to tell her that this can be dangerous, but she didn't give me any time to protest," her father, Reza Saberi, said and StarTribune reported.

Roxana Saberi was detained in January and was sentenced to eight years in prison after a one-day trial behind closed doors last week, CNN reported.

President Obama and other U.S. and international officials denounced Iranian courts actions, according to CNN. They called the accusations baseless and demanded for her release, the StarTribune reported.

Roxana Saberi's legal team has said it will appeal her conviction, according to CNN.

Roxana Saberi is originally from Fargo, N.D., and has living in Iran since 2003. She free lanced for National Public Radio and British Broadcasting Corporation and was in Iran writing a book on the culture, according to the StarTribune.

April 19, 2009

Wisconsin inmate given $19,000 from 35W bridge collapse fund

A Wisconsin inmate, who was convicted of injuring his former fiance's 2-year-old daughter, gets $19,000 from the bridge collapse victim's fund, according to KARE 11.

Michael E. Stoner, 27, of Spooner, Wisc. was with his then-fiance to see the girl he is charged with hurting when the bridge collapsed, according to KARE 11.

He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, according to KARE 11.

A prison spokesman said that the terms of Stoner's sentence require him to turn over any money from the bridge fund to the state to pay for fines and restitution, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The girl's mother, Crystal Manning, was not charged for her daughter's injuries and will receive $488,000 from the bridge collapse victims fund, KARE 11 reported.

The Minnesota bridge collapsed in 2007, killing 13. St. Paul Pioneer Press

Ashton Kutcher beats CNN on Twitter

Ashton Kutcher, 31, is best known for his acting on "That 70s Show" and his marriage to Demi Moore, 15 years his senior. But not anymore. (FOX News)

Kutcher became the first Twitter user to gain more than one million "followers" on Twitter late Thursday evening, according to Los Angeles Times.

For a few days before Thursday, Kutcher had been racing CNN's breaking news feed (http://twitter.com/cnnbrk) with his own account (http://twitter.com/aplusk) to become the first "Twitter Millionaire," FOX News reported.

Just before midnight on Thursday, Kutcher's account reached the final number. Kutcher broadcast a live stream of himself, Moore, and friends watching the numbers, according to FOX News.

The group being broadcast celebrated with champagne and cheers as the one million mark was reached, FOX News reported.

Kutcher said he would donate 10,000 mosquito nets to the medical charity Malaria No More if he won. Just after the number was announced, Kutcher flashed a check for $100,000, the presumed amount for the nets, made out to the charity, FOX News reported.

CNN also declared on Tuesday that win or lose, they would match Kutcher's donation to the charity, according to FOX News.

Zac Efron soars in "17 Again"

Zac Efron's latest movie, "17 Again," was in first place at the box offices, taking in $24.1 million, according to Reuters.

The debut was about $4 million more than analysts projected, according to USA Today.

Even the distributor, Warner Bros. told Reuters that the earnings were better than expected.

In the movie, Efron plays a dispirited 27-year-old family man who becomes 17 again, and gets to relive his high school glory days, Reuters reported.

This signals yet another No. 1 for Efron, who was in "Hairspray" and was the lead in the "High School Musical" franchise, USA Today reported.

One dead in Hopkins shooting

An early morning shooting in Hopkins led to one man's death on Sunday, according to police and reported by KSTP TV.

A dispute between two groups of people in the parking lot of a White Castle restaurant ended when a gunman pulled out a gun and shot a 24-year-old man, according to KSTP TV.

The number of shots fired has not been released, KSTP TV reported.

According to the police, there are two suspects, but their identities have not been released, the StarTribune reported.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Lab was called to process the scene, KSTP TV reported.

Two Doctors without Borders staff kidnapped

Two Doctors without Borders staff members were kidnapped Sunday in Somalia.

A three-car convoy of Doctors without Borders workers was traveling from Rabbure to Hudurin in southwestern Somalia when gunmen seized the group, according to CNN.

There were approximately 25 gunmen traveling in two trucks, according to a source at the site and reported by The Canadian Press.

An aid worker who did not want to be identified told The Canadian Press that the Somalian staff who were with the two hostages were released.

The nationality of one hostage is European, but the other is still unknown, The Canadian Press reported.

Rabbure is in the Bakole region, which is under the control of the group al-Shabaab. The group al-Shabaab is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, according to CNN.

April 9, 2009

Tap water discolored, smells in 3 university buildings

The tap water in three research and clinical buildings on campus may be unsafe to drink, according to a university official on Thursday.

Discolored and foul-smelling water was reported Wednesday in Moos and Phillips-Wangensteen buildings, university spokesperson Daniel Wolter told the StarTribune.

On Thursday, investigators also found that the tap water in Diehl Hall was tainted, the Minnesota Daily reported.

All three buildings are at the end of a water main. The university has been flushing the systems of the buildings since Wednesday night, according to the StarTribune.

More than 600 dentist appointments have been cancelled due to the lack of water in the buildings, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The university has not found the cause of the contamination yet, the StarTribune reported.

Twitter traffic surges

Traffic to the social-networking site Twitter has risen 700 percent within the last year, according to new measurements from comScore.

Worldwide traffic on Twitter approached 10 million visitors in February. Traffic to the U.S. site alone has hit four million, a 1,000 percent increase from last year at this time, according to IT Pro.

Adults 35 and older are leading the Twitter trend, accounting for the majority of users, USA Today reported.

"Not only teenagers and college students can be counted among the 'technologically inclined,' which means that trends are much more prone to take off in older age segments than they used to," the comScore report stated, and USA Today reported.

Dead man re-elected as mayor of Missouri town

The mayor of Winfield, Mo., was re-elected for a fourth term on Tuesday, nearly a month after his death.

Ballots had already been printed and absentee voting had begun when Harry Stonebraker died of a heart attack on March 11. He was 69, the BBC reported.

When the town voted for their mayor, he was the clear winner with 206 votes, or 90 percent. Alderman Bernie Panther was his competition and held the other 23 votes, according to the Associated Press.

Lincoln County Clerk Elaine Lust told the Associated Press that she was not surprised Stonebraker won. He had been a popular mayor who led the community after flooding damaged houses and farmland in 2008, Lust said.

Stonebraker had been a lifelong resident of the Winfield area, which is roughly 50 miles north-west of St. Louis. He was a retired construction superintendent and was serving his third two-year term as mayor when he died, the Associated Press reported.

April 6, 2009

Level III offender charged with raping boy

A Level III sex offender is charged with a sex crime in Hopkins, just two weeks after moving in with his parents in the city, according to the StarTribune.

Timothy Cavier, 27, was arrested March 27 and charged with third degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 16-year-old boy, according to The Daily Republic.

Cavier is held in Hennepin County jail on $150,000 bail, according to The Daily Republic.

Prosecutors allege Cavier met the teenager, from Rockville, Minn., online. While at Cavier's on March 13 to 15, the boy willingly performed one type of sexual act, according to the StarTribune. He then refused another sexual act, the StarTribune reported.

The state has labeled Cavier as a Level III offender due to his potential to re-offend, The Daily Republic reported.

Cavier was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in Hopkins, and also has a history of indecent exposure, according to the StarTribune.

Tracy police find container possibly linked to missing girl case

Tracy police found a container in a pond Monday close to the mobile home community where a girl was reported missing.

Police are investigating the discovery of a suitcase with a red ribbon around it that was found at the bottom of a pond north of Tracy, Calif., Mercury News reported.

The pond was being routinely drained near Tracy Boulevard, just north of Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park where missing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu was last seen, according to the Stockton Record.

Farmworkers found the suitcase and FBI investigators were on the scene, the Stockton Record reported.

Authorities will not confirm or deny that the suitcase is related to the case of Cantu, who has been missing since March 27, Mercury News reported.

San Joaquin Sherrif's Department spokesman Les Garcia told the Stockton Record that the container was suspicious.

The reward money for Cantu's return is nearly $30,000, according to Stockton Record.

April 5, 2009

Number Analysis

4 killed, 13 wounded in Iraq violence, from CNN Wire

This story used numbers in counts on how many people were killed or wounded, in distance from where the city affected was, and in time. The numbers are used effectively because they add to the story without entirely encompassing the story. The numbers used are not overwhelming, but rather complementary to the other information presented within the story. They help aid in the factual evidence of where the people were killed, at what time and how many.

The reporter did need to do math in order to tell the story to the international audience that CNN has. The reporter used both miles and kilometers in all measures of distance within the story. Other numbers presented did not use math in order to present them effectively.

The sources for the numbers are not listed explicitly. Most are coming from police and ministry officials, but the reporter does not name exact officials or police departments. The addition of places and distances from well-known places was something that the reporter added in order to give clarity to the story. It was not necessary, but does aid in telling the story in the best way.

Powerful earthquake strikes Italy

An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck central-Italy Monday morning local time.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake hit at 0132 GMT at 53 miles north-east of Rome, the capital city, Reuters reported.

The earthquake was first scaled at a 6.7 but was later lowered to a 6.3, according to Reuters.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, but there were two other earthquakes that had hit the area Sunday that had not caused any damage, according to the BBC.

The earthquake was strong enough to wake up residents of Rome, Reuters reported.

Father shot and killed 5 children, himself

A father shot and killed his five children in his home in Washington state after arguing with his wife about another man earlier Friday, according to police.

James Harrison, 34, shot and killed four of his children in their bedrooms and the fifth in the bathroom, according to the New York Times.

Harrison had found his wife with another man on Friday night, and went back to his home without her. Relatives were at the house for a part of the night, but left before the shootings occurred, according to CNN.

Harrison was found early Saturday morning dead inside his SUV in an adjacent county, Detective Ed Troyer told CNN Radio on Sunday. He had shot himself with a rifle.

The children were identified by neighbors as Maxine, 16; Samantha, 14 or 15; Jamie, 11; Heather, 8; and James, 7, according to the New York Times.

Spokeswoman Sherry Hill told the New York Times that it was not clear who had called the agency to come to the house.

3 Winona high school students face theft charges

Three swim team members from Winona Senior High School have been charged with stealing more than $1,300 in cash and merchandise from gym lockers, according to the Rochester Police Department. StarTribune

The students, Santino Leigh LaPorta, 17, Stanislav Georgiev Petkov, 16, and Benjamin Ronald Shepardson, 16, were charged with felony theft, felony receiving stolen property and petty misdemeanor damage to property, according to Winona Daily News.

Prosecutors said that the students broke several padlocks and broke into lockers at a swim meet in Rochester, Minn. in December. Cell phones, cash, an iPod, a credit card and a jacket were among the iitems stolen, according to StarTribune.

According to court documents, several Winona school staff members searched members of the team individually. LaPorta admitted to the crime, and was in possession of many of the items, according to Winona Daily News.

Shepardson was searched but administrators did not find anything until, when leaving, he dropped a pile of money on the floor, Winona Daily News reported.

Petrov was also found with cash on him and admitted to aiding in stealing the iPod, reported Winona Daily News.

All three are to appear in Olmsted County District Court on April 20, according to StarTribune.

April 3, 2009

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President to retire

Gary Stern, the president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, is retiring.

Stern, 64, will retire this summer, according to the Fed on Thursday.

"I am confident that with the chairman's leadership, along with other outstanding policymakers in the Federal Reserve, our financial system will fully stabilize and our economy will once again resume growth," Stern told the Wall Street Journal.

Stern is the longest-serving U.S. Federal Reserve Bank president of the country’s 12 prior presidents. He became president in 1985, the Associated Press reported.

He currently is not a voting member of the interest rate setting Federal Open Market Committee, but he has been voicing concerns on monetary policy, according to the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal.

He tried to direct attention on addressing issues with financial institutions which were considered too big to fail, the Wall Street Journal reported. He even wrote and published a book called “Too Big to Fail: The Hazards of Bank Bailouts” in 2004.

A nationwide search will be conducted to find a replacement, the Associated Press reported.

St. Paul couple shot and wounded in own home

A St. Paul couple was shot and wounded in their own home in what police are saying was a botched robbery attempt on Thursday.

The husband and wife, who are in their 40’s, were each shot once by the suspect, according to StarTribune.

The couple was taken to Region’s Hospital in St. Paul were they had surgery for their injuries, according to St. Paul police spokesman Peter Panos and reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The victims told the police that they had recognized the suspect, according to StarTribune.

The shooter knocked on the door of the home at the 400 block of Blair Avenue, and when someone answered it the gunman pushed inside the home.

A woman called the police at 12:07 p.m. from within the home and stated that the house had been broken into and two people had been shot, the StarTribune reported.

"It's pretty brazen anytime you're going to walk up to someone at their house and rob them and, when it doesn't go right, shoot them," Panos told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "To do it in the middle of the day, when your odds are greater of there being witnesses and other people hurt, is even more so."

The couple has five children, ages 2 to 15, who were inside of the house during the crime. No children were hurt, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Investigators have not released any description of the suspect or said if there was more than one person involved.

Police do not think the incident was random.