December 13, 2008

China experiences trade plunge

CNN.com and the Star Tribune reported on China's recent trade plunge. CNN's article said China's exports shrank 2.2% unexpectedly in November. This could result in heavy job loss, political unrest, and a sharper downturn in the world's fourth largest economy. China received a massive stimulus package meant to prevent economic downfall and even boost growth. They were depended on for global support as the United States weakens. JP Morgan economist Frank F.X. Gong said, "They need to urgently stimulate domestic demand and generate jobs and keep society stable." There has been a drop in foreign demand so factories that export products are forced to close or lay off employees. China's leaders are still urging employers to minimize cutbacks to avoid further economic unrest. China's economy was expected to grow by 9% this year but it is now at it's lowest forecast of %7.5 since 1990.

The Star Tribune wrote that China's imports also plunged sharply last month by 17.9 percent. China was expecting a slowdown in their economy but they did not expect one of this size this quickly. The economic future of China looks gloomy even if it is better than the United States' and Europe's economic state.

Illinois Governor Crisis

Gov. of Ill. Rod Blagojevich has been troublesome for his state. The Associated Press and WCCO.com have reported on different aspects of his resign. Illinois has billions of dollars in unpaid bills, including payments to Medicaid patients, hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, and schools. Blagojevich's inability to pay these bills has had an extreme ripple effect on the state such as pharmacies having to close down, suppliers could stop delivering food to prisons and letting state troopers buy gasoline. Business could lay off workers or go bankrupt as another result of the Governor's inability to be financially responsible. The Associated Press said the attorney general asked the state's highest court to strip the governor of his powers and lawmakers are closer to impeaching him due to his scandals. The attorney general asked that he be declared unfit to serve and linked his scandal to illness and pressured him to resign. Impeachment could take weeks so resigning is a faster process.

WCCO.com told more about his courthouse appearance. He refused to talk to reporters and only responded with, "I'll have a lot to say at the appropriate time." Blagojevich has been accused of putting President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat up for sale, strong-arming the owners of the Chicago Cubs and threatening to withhold millions of dollars from a children hospital. This type of action is the first of its kind in state history. The motion says, "His ability to provide effective leadership has been eliminated, and the state government is paralyzed." The state has approved $1.4 billion in short-term loans to help pay off bills and keep cash flowing. The attorney general does not want to move forward in this loan until Blagojevich no longer has power.

Minneapolis Hiring Freeze

The Star Tribune and The Minnesota Daily covered the hiring freeze in Minneapolis. The Daily reported on the potential hiring freeze that will be addressed at the meeting and the Star Tribune reported on the aftermath of the meeting.

The Daily said that the measure was announced on Dec. 1st and the meeting would not be held until Dec. 12. The potential freeze would not take effect until the 2009 budget and would be in place until the city decides to remove it. The freeze is due to the poor economy, the city will face about $38 million in new costs for employee pensions over the next five years. It may not save the city that much money but it would help avoid more financial trouble if the economy remains poor. On top of the hiring freeze, "layoffs are not off the table" and may be required for future budget cuts. This hiring pause means that the city will evaluate more closely every hire.

The Star Tribune covered the meeting and what decisions were made. The hiring freeze is implemented. It will start with outside hires and within 60 days it will expand t internal promotions and transfers. Jobs will be filled only if deemed crucial. The article then covered other topics of discussion at the meeting.

Both sources said there was a hiring freeze back in 2003 and it was not repealed until 2005. The Daily said it did result in some layoffs during that time.

December 7, 2008

Amsterdam attempts to cut down crime

The Associated Press and CNN.com published articles on Amsterdam's attempts to reduce crime in their city. The Associated Press said Amsterdam plans to close brothels, sex shops, and marijuana cafes and move business that "generate criminality". City Council member Lodewijk Asscher said, "I think that the new reality will be in more in line with our image as a tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals." These new measures will only effect a little less than 20 percent of the city. They will spend 30-40 million euros to implement these changes. Prostitution will be allowed only in two areas of the district.

CNN.com added that prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000. Marijuana is technically illegal but prosecutors will not press charges for possession in small amounts and coffee shops can sell it openly. Amsterdam will reshape the area by buying out businesses and helping to upgrade stores. Asscher said, "You won't have to be embarrassed to say you came."

Sunny von Bulow dies after 28 year coma

The Associated Press and CNN.com reported on death of heiress Martha "Sunny" von Bulow on Saturday. The Associated Press said she spent the last 28 years of her life in a coma and died at a nursing home in New York. Her husband disliked her offstage presence and Claus von Bulow was convicted of trying twice to kill her by injecting her with insulin. Their story was later made into a movie "Reversal of Fortune" in 1990 staring Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons. Claus' defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz said there was evidence that her coma was self-induced by a large ingestion of drugs.

CNN.com added she was 76 years old. Her children said she was "an extraordinarily loving and caring mother". She was born into a wealthy family and inherited a fortune of about $75 million. She became known as Princess von Auersperg when she married Prince Alfred von Auersperg of Austria and they had two children. She married von Bulows in 1966 and they had one daughter.

On the morning of December 22, 1980, she was found unconscious in the bathroom of their Newport, Rhode Island home and she never regained consciousness. Doctors had diagnosed her a year earlier with hypoglycemia. Claus von Bulow agreed to waive his claim to his wife's money and to a divorce in exchange for the suit being dropped.

First major snowfall causes two crashes and three are dead

Both Kare11.com and WCCO.com reported on the two car crashes and three deaths that resulted from the first major snowfall of the year. WCCO.com had a much less detailed article with very little information on the accidents but their article was released earlier in the day than Kare11's report. At that time, details had not yet been released.

Kare11.com said about 2 inches of snow fell in this storm and driving conditions were dangerous as a result. 190 plows and salt trucks were out that night to help make the roads safer but there were still some icy spots. The first crash occurred in Rogers on I-94 around 10 p.m. Friday. A car slid into the ditch prompting another car to come help. But then a third vehicle slid into the car trying to help which hit the original car. Two men died in this accident.

The second accident happened in Roseville at about 4 a.m. Saturday. A 29-year-old man died when his car slid into the ditch on Highway 36. It is unclear how fast everyone involved in accidents were going at the time, officials urge everyone to slow down in dangerous weather conditions. "It would be better to be late and drive slow and carefully than to end up in a ditch," Kent Barnard of the Minnesota Department of Transportation said. He adds that it is important to keep a greater distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

November 28, 2008

Barbara Bush recovers after surgery

The Star Tribune and CNN.com reported on the recovery of former first lady Barbara Bush after surgery. The Star Tribune said she is in good condition after undergoing laparoscopic surgery for a perforated ulcer. She has been moved from the intensive care unit to a patient room. She was hospitalized Tuesday after feeling abdominal pain. Surgeons closed an almost 1.5 centimeter hole caused by the ulcer. The surgery went well and Bush was in high spirits during recovery, even telling the doctors jokes. She is expected to be in the hospital until next week.

CNN.com said she will not be allowed to have food by mouth for about a week to avoid stretching her abdomen area. Former president and husband George H.W. Bush stayed with her Thursday morning until he had to leave for a Thanksgiving dinner with his son. It is suggested that the ulcer might have been caused by anti-inflammatory medications but after a biopsy it is benign.

Police Chase leads to DWI and injuries

WCCO.com and The Star Tribune reported on a police chase on Thursday. The Star Tribune said the chase began in Crystal at about 2 a.m. and ended in Golden Valley where the driver rolled his car after hitting a curb, a stop sign and a large park sign. The driver had serious injuries and was taken to North Memorial Medical Center. The chase began when Crystal police tried to pull the driver over for a violation. No one else was injured but it is unclear why the driver fled.

WCCO.com said the man was driving about 100 miles per hour when he flipped his car and crashed. The chase lasted a few minutes. The unidentified driver is 44 years old and he is suspected to have been drinking. A witness said she saw 14 police cars and the ambulance take the man away. They also went into the history of crashed on Thanksgiving weekend. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said 23 people die in car crashes and more than half are alcohol-related. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the most popular nights to drink because people come home for the holidays. Due to this fact, extra patrols are placed in the Twin Cities metro area to help keep those who drank too much off the streets.

November 23, 2008

Pirates and Ransom

CNN and ABC News reported on the status of the recent pirate attacks. CNN.com says Somali pirates released a hijacked Greek-owned ship with all 19 crew members safe and cargo intact. A ransom was paid but the amount has not been released. The ship was seized Sept. 26 and released Friday about 500 miles off Somalia. Details could not be released out of safety concerns for the crews of other ships that are currently held by pirates.

ABC News focused mostly on how dangerous and risky negotiating with pirates can be. One pirate may grab another pirate's ransom making the ship still in hostile hands and pirates still demanding his ransom. There are 12,000 pirates in the water now. Sometimes ransoms cost up to $25 million.

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State?

The Star Tribune and ABC News had very different angles on the possibility of Hilary Clinton becoming the next Secretary of State. The Star Tribune used the angle of how American women felt about Hilary Clinton going from a powerful independent position as a New York senator to working for a more powerful man. They noted that Clinton has decided to accept the position as of Friday evening. It is considered to be a costly triumph. "Secretary of state is far superior to vice president because it's involved in continuously solving problems and making policy..." Gloria Steinem said. The overall consensus was that she was 1 in 100 as a senator but as secretary of state, she is more important. n It is good for women in America they say.

ABC news said Clinton told the Obama Team on Wednesday that she was going to reject the secretary of state offer because "she wanted to remain her own master". On Thursday Obama's team tried to convince her to take the job and she admitted she was interested by Thursday night. Although details are being worked out, but it looks like Clinton's nomination will be announced after Thanksgiving.

UMN student thows fit after being fired from KSTP

The Star Tribune and WCCO.com reported on the University of Minnesota student who worked for KSTP as an intern. Upon her being fired, she acted outrageously. Jennifer Anato-Mensah is accused of chasing after an executive producer and screaming obscenities. She also kicked out and shattered a window in a conference room door in an attempt to get to the producer. The Star Tribune says she has been charged with misdemeanor criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct by Ramsey County District Court. Her first court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 30. Danielle Prenevost was the executive producer that told Anato-Menash she was fired. Prenevost tried to walk away after Anato-Menash told her, "You don't know where I'm from, I'll mess you up." Prenevost went to a nearby conference room where Anato-Menash followed her and proceeded to kick at the glass door. The cost of repairing the window is $150.

WCCO adds she was fired because she did not understand the concepts of a TV newsroom and she didn't have enough experience. This event occurred on Oct. 13.

November 15, 2008

Congo Crisis

CNN and MSNBC reported on the Democratic Republic of Congo's struggle with violence and the lack of military aid from the U.N. CNN said there has been an increase in incidents of forced labor, rape, and widespread brutality in Congo and there does not seem to be any urgent action being taken to help although this is an urgent situation. Fighting began at the end of August between the government and rebels led by Gen. Laurent Nkunda. The cause goes back to tensions from the 1994 slaughter of ethnic Tutsis by Hutus in neighboring Rwanda. There have also been 997 cases of cholera from early Oct. to early Nov. The U.N. is not able to stop the violence and there has been a request for 3,000 troops to the province. Approximately 800,000 people have already been driven from their homes and sanitation conditions are very poor. People have lost everything.

MSNBC says the U.N. finally provided help by providing food for thousands of hungry and homeless people on Friday. More than 100 tons of food were going to 50,000 civilians. Many civilians don't feel safe anywhere though

California Fire burns down homes

CNN.com and the Star Tribune reported on the brush fire that got out of control in Santa Barbara County on Friday. CNN said nearly 150 homes were damaged or destroyed, 1,500 acres were charred and at least one death has occurred as a result of the fire. The place of origin is said to be the Tea Garden Estate and it has now destroyed a monastery, multimillion-dollar mansions and more than 5,500 people were forced to evacuate. A 98-year-old man who was evacuated died, it is yet to be said if the evacuation caused his death. The cause has not been determined yet but investigators are looking into it. Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Michael Douglas, and Rob Lowe had homes in this area and were affected by the fire. More than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze. Between winds, high temperatures and low humidity make fighting the fire difficult.

The Star Tribune said at least 13 people were injured. They also add the fire started at about 6 p.m. Thursday.

Reporter found dead; husband under arrest

The covered a story on the reporter who was found dead in her home on Wednesday at 3:15 a.m. The Pioneer Press says the Ruth Anne Maddox worked in Shakopee as a reporter and did not show up for work one day. She was found dead and her husband was immediately arrested with "suspicion of probable cause of homicide." The couple was in the process of a divorce filled by Ruth and it looked like a settlement would be reached by the end of the week. There was an incident of violence a year ago but Ruth did not think divorce would involve extreme violence.

The Star Tribune says Ruth decided to live under the same roof as her husband until the divorce was final because she did not want to leave her pets behind. She was reported missing on Tuesday so police went to her home. They did not get useful information at that time so they came back with a search warrant and found the body.

November 8, 2008

Iran President welcomes US election results

CBS/AP and CNN reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Barack Obama on his election win. This is significant because this is the first time an Iranian leader has done so to a U.S. president-elect since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He hopes Obama "uses the opportunity to serve the American people and leave a good name for history". Current U.S.-Iranian relations remain tense but Iran sees Obama's victory as a triumph over the unpopular policies of President Bush. CNN says Ahmadinejad told Obama that "other nations also expect war-orriented policies, occupation, bullying, contempt of nations and imposing discriminatory policies on them to be replaced by the ones advocating justice, respect for human rights, friendship and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs."