November 2012 Archives

Metro Transit Reaches 3 Billionth Passenger

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Metro Transit reached its three billionth customer recently, and has honored that customer in a ceremony at the Uptown Transit Center in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported.

Nadine Babu, a light rail and bus rider, received a card that will give her free bus rides for a year. Babu has been riding Metro Transit buses for over 15 year.

Metro Transit invited customers to submit entries in an essay contest judged by a team of transit agency employees.

"I ride the bus for so many reasons - it's safe, reliable, inexpensive, convenient, and you can text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and ride without any consequences...You have a customer for life in me!" Babu writer in her essay.

Customers boarded buses and trains 81 million times last year, according to KMSP Fox.

An average of 260,000 people board Metro Transit buses and trains ever day.

80 Pounds of Marijuana Seized in Minneapolis Raid

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More than 90 pounds of synthetic marijuana and $232,000 in cash were seized during a raid of a south Minneapolis tobacco shop and a clerk's home, according to the Star Tribune.

Mokrane Rahim, 30, of New Brighton, was charged with fourth-degree sale of a controlled substance to a police officer on Monday and could face additional charges.

Minneapolis police had been conducting an undercover narcotics investigation into the store, located near the intersection of 46th and Nicollet Avenue South in relation to marijuana sales, KMSP Fox reported.

Authorities raided the shop and Rahim's home while Rahim was working.

Rahim was released Tuesday after posting $5,000 bail.

As of Wednesday, the shop at 4612 Nicollet Av. S. was still open for business.

Thousands Protest in Bangladesh

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Thousands of workers protested in Dhaka Monday after a textile factory fire killed more than 100 people, Reuters reported.

The fire, Bangladesh's worst-ever factory blaze, took place in a factory that supplied clothes for Li & Fung, a Hong-Kong sourcing giant that is a buyer for stores like Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wal-Mart said it had cut ties to the supplier, which had apparently subcontracted work without authorization. Other retailers like Gap and Nike denied any relationship with the workshop.

The fire was the latest in a series of deadly factory fires in Bangladesh, according to the Wall Street Journal article.

Textile workers have been demanding working conditions and better pay, but efforts to create a safer working environment for garment workers have moved slowly.

Analysis: Diversity

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A recent article in the Contra Costa Times addressed homelessness. The article is about a California church that offers a weekly free lunch to the homeless and those in need of a meal.

The church-sponsored event also offers free hot showers and free haircuts.

This article addresses an issue regarding homelessness carefully, without using any sort of stereotypes.

Several homeless people were interviewed for the article, lending the story an air of authenticity. They are portrayed neutrally, without any negativity.

Interviewing homeless people for an article about a church that helps the homeless makes sense, and gives the homeless, people who don't often have a chance to have their voice heard, the ability to contribute their opinions.

The church's pastor is also interviewed.

Egypt Seeks Cease-Fire

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Egypt, led by its intelligence chief, is negotiating with Hamas and Israel to end the warring that has erupted between Gaza and Israel this week, CNN reported.

Mohammed Shehata met with Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal on Saturday in an attempt to calm the situation and has contacted Israel as well. He is attempting to persuade both sides to reach a cease-fire, but no clear conclusion is in sight.

Israel unleashed a large air campaign Wednesday with the goal of deterring gunmen in Gaza from launching rockets. Forty-seven Palestinians, about half of them civilians have been killed in Israel's raids. Among the dead is a leading militant of the Hamas group, Reuters reported.

Gaza has fired more than 500 rockets into Israel, killing three and injuring many more.

Hamas military spokesmen remained defiant, while the Israeli government has authorized calling up 75,000 reservists.

Leaders all over the world have asked Israeli and Palestinian governing bodies to show restraint.

Hostess to Close

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Hostess Brands, creator of well-known baked goods like Twinkies and Wonder Bread, announced Friday it is closing, CNN reported.

Hostess is asking a federal bankruptcy court for permission to close, citing a strike by bakers as the cause. Nearly 18,500 Hostess employees will lose their jobs as the company closes operations, which include 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 outlet stores.

"We deeply regret the necessity of today's decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike," said CEO Gregory Rayburn in a statement.

Hostess had reached a deal with the Teamsters union, but The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, a smaller union that represents about 5,000 Hostess employees, refused to agree to concessions, Fox News reported.

Hostess assets will be sold off, so the expectation is that some of its more popular products may remain available.

Hostess filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, its second bankruptcy claim since 2004.

BP to Pay $4.5 Billion in Oil Spill Settlement

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BP has accepted criminal responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which killed 11 workers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Two and a half years ago, a BP drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, causing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The spill damaged the important seafood and tourism industries and resulted in billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Under the agreement, BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of "seaman's manslaughter" related to the deaths on the oil rig and admits its workers were negligent. BP will pay $4.5 billion in fines and restitution.

The company will also plead guilty to a felony count of obstruction of Congress due to the false information it gave about the rate oil was leaking from the rig.

BP will still face fines related to local federal regulations and the Clean Water Act, as well as penalties related to civil and private claims, Barrons reported.

Under the Clean Water Act, BP could face a $5.4 billion fine and as much as $21 billion for gross negligence.

Governor Objects to Vikings Stadium Seat Licenses

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is opposing the Minnesota Vikings owners' proposed "seat licenses" for fans, the Pioneer Press reported.

Dayton wrote a strongly worded letter to the team owners objecting to the proposal to pass on a portion of the stadium's $975 million cost to fans. The plan would charge seat-licensing fees in exchange for premier seating choices.

"I strongly oppose shifting any part of the team's responsibility for those costs onto Minnesota Vikings fans," he said in his letter. "This private contribution is your responsibility, not theirs. I said this new stadium would be a 'People's Stadium,' not a 'Rich People's Stadium.' I meant it then, and I mean it now."

The team owners responded, saying that seat licensing had been included in the final agreement passed by the Legislature, according to the Star Tribune.

Team owners and local officials are already dealing with a tight deadline, and in addition, some Twin Cities lawmakers skeptical of the stadium plan taking over legislative leadership positions in January.

Former University of Minnesota Social Worker Sanctioned

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A former University of Minnesota social worker has been sanctioned by the state of Minnesota in the 2004 suicide of a drug study participant, WDAY News reported Tuesday.

Dan Markinson, a schizophrenia patient involved in the study, died in May 2004, during a clinical trial of antipsychotic drugs, according to the Star Tribune. His death led to a lawsuit, a federal probe and big changes in the school's ethics standards for clinical trials.

Jean Kenney, the former social worker, reached an agreement Friday with the Minnesota Board of Social Work that requires her to complete 18 hours of training and write a report on whether it alters her view of her conduct in the drug trial.

Kenney made errors in Markingson's care during the study. Kenney said she was simply "acting under ... supervision and in accordance to the protocols that had been approved."

The agreement asserts that Kenney wrote incorrect drug dosages and made clinical observations about Markingson that were beyond her "scope of practice as a social worker."

The university was cleared by the FDA in regards to the case.

Analysis: Numbers

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A recent article in the Star Tribune broke down a study about exercise into easily understandable information.

The article identifies the study and gives its main point in the lead--exercising every day can extend life by an average of 3.5 years.

The author makes the study results understandable by using terms like "twice as likely" instead of constantly using figures. The article uses no more than two figures in any given paragraph, which keeps the facts from overwhelming readers.

In between articles filled with facts and figures, the author gave explanations or interposed relevant quotations.

The article identified the nature of the study to attest to its validity and interviewed a cardiologist who could speak to its credibility.

Scammers Create Fake Charities for Sandy Victims

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Internet scammers have found new targets recently--Americans looking to donate to victims of Superstorm Sandy.

More than 1,000 Internet domain sites including the words "Sandy" or "relief" were registered as the storm approached, CNN reported.

"We have no idea who these people are," Johannes Ulrich, president of SANS Security told CNN from his home in Jacksonville, Florida. "And what we notice is that they do register hundreds of these domains, in part, trying to trick people who go to these domains and then donate the money."

One website urged people to donate and linked any potential donors to a Pay Pal account, traced to an individual in North Carolina. The site was not registered with the secretary of state's office in North Carolina.

According to the Daily Record, Twitter and Facebook posts are being used by scammers who claim to be storm victims and ask for money.

Apple and Red Cross have joined to offer a safe system for donating, in order to help avoid online scams. Consumers can donate through their iTunes account.

Seventy percent of Americans donate money without checking where their money goes, according to Art Taylor, president of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

The FBI took time earlier in the week to issue a public warning about scam artists in the time of devastating storms.

World Celebrates 'Malala Day'

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The world celebrated Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani education activist, Saturday as the UN declared the day a "global day of action" for her, NBC News reported.

Malala, a 15-year-old blogger, was shot by members of the Taliban last month in Mingora, in northwestern Pakistan, for her campaigning for girls' education rights.

Malala was shot in the head and neck. After several days in critical condition, her condition improved. She was transported to a hospital in the UK for safety reasons and is now walking. She shows no sign of brain damage, according to CNN.

Over the past month, Malala has become a global symbol for the education rights of young girls. Furthermore, the incident sparked outrage within Pakistan against the Taliban's continued influence in the country.

Malala Day is expected to be marked by vigils and demonstrations calling for girls across the world to be allowed access to education.

However, in Malala's hometown, threats of reprisal by the Taliban against Malala's supporters have minimized demonstrations.

Petraeus Resigns Over Extramarital Affair

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David Petraeus, director of the CIA and decorated four-star general, resigned Friday over an extramarital affair, NBC News reported.

Petraeus told President Obama about the affair and offered his resignation during a Thursday meeting. Obama accepted the resignation Friday.

Petraeus disclosed the affair to the CIA work force in a letter Friday afternoon.

The affair, with Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, was discovered by the FBI. Broadwell is under investigation for improperly trying to access Petraeus's email and potentially gaining access to classified information.

Officials in the White House were unaware of the affair until this week, the New York Times reported.

"Dave's decision to step down represents the loss of one of our nation's most respected public servants." James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement.

Minnesota Orchestra Cancels All Remaining 2012 Concerts

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The Minnesota Orchestra Thursday canceled concerts through the end of the year, including holiday and pop concerts that produce large revenues and draw large audiences, the Star Tribune reported.

The announcement marks a deepening of the conflict between musicians and the board of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Orchestra management has stated it wants to cut $5 million from labor expenses, approximately 33 percent of current costs, by cutting salaries and benefits, among other changes.

Negotiations broke off Sept. 30 and management locked out its musicians the next day.

Both sides have made public stands. The board says it will not meet until the union makes a formal counter proposal, while the union contends that it has already made three proposals.

There are no signs that the Minnesota Orchestra is close to ending the dispute.

Lockouts have gained momentum in Minnesota this year. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra is also in the midst of a labor-management dispute, while the Minnesota Wild is currently unable to play due to the National Hockey League lockout, MinnPost reported.

In addition, American Crystal Sugar in the Red River Valley is in its 15th month of lockout.

Minnesota has historically been considered a labor state, but last year, only 15.1 percent of workers in the state belonged to labor unions.

St. Paul Settles in Police Brutality Case

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The St. Paul City Council is expected to approve a $400,000 settlement Wednesday afternoon in a case of police brutality, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

On Oct. 28, 2010, St. Paul police went to the Snelling Avenue house of Daniela Hobbs and her son Larelle Steward with a search warrant for cocaine.

Steward complied with police orders but told police his mother couldn't move as quickly because of illness.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, police repeatedly kicked Steward and shot a "flash-bang" grenade at Hobbs. Steward suffered a broken nose and cuts to his face.

The police did not find any cocaine.

In the settlement, the city denied any wrongdoing, while Hobbs and Steward agreed not to discuss the settlement or case with the media, the Star Tribune reported.

The settlement is tied for the largest brutality settlement ever paid by St. Paul.

Obama and Romney Tied, Polls Show

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With only a few days left until Election Day, President Obama and Mitt Romney are locked in a dead heat, with Obama holding a razor-thin lead over his opponent.

The newest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of likely voters shows Obama leading Romney 48% to 47%. Final polls in battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, Colorado and Wisconsin also show that the race is too close to call, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The poll showed a 8-point advantage for the president among women and a 7-point advantage for Romney among men.

Another poll released Sunday, this one conducted on behalf of ABC News and the Washington Post, put the two candidates even at 48%, according to BBC News.

Both campaigns show confidence in their prospects. The Romney campaign has pointed to strength among independents and enthusiasm among conservatives to make a case for a Romney win. Obama's campaign cites its ground operation is evidence that the president will make his re-election bid.

Taliban Bomber Kills 6

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A Taliban suicide bomber killed himself and five others near a vehicle carrying a prominent anti-Taliban politician in northwestern Pakistan Saturday, the Boston Globe reported.

The bombing, which occurred in the Buner district of the Khyber Paktunkhwa province, wounded several others, according to senior police officer Akhtar Hayyat.

Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack over the telephone shortly after the attack.

The anti-Taliban politician, Fateh Khan, was a longtime member of the Awami National Party, the secular party that rules the province and has opposed the Taliban, according to the New York Times. Several years ago, Khan joined forces with an opposition politician. Khan also led an anti-Taliban militia in the area.

The Taliban spokesman vowed more attacks on the Awami National Party, saying the Taliban would "show no mercy."

Bangladesh Workers Strike After Fire

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Thousands of workers protested in Dhaka Monday after a textile factory fire killed more than 100 people, Reuters reported.

The fire, Bangladesh's worst-ever factory blaze, took place in a factory that supplied clothes for Li & Fung, a Hong-Kong sourcing giant that is a buyer for stores like Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wal-Mart said it had cut ties to the supplier, which had apparently subcontracted work without authorization. Other retailers like Gap and Nike denied any relationship with the workshop.

The fire was the latest in a series of deadly factory fires in Bangladesh, according to the Wall Street Journal article.

Textile workers have been demanding working conditions and better pay, but efforts to create a safer working environment for garment workers have moved slowly.

Analysis: Obituary

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The New York Times's recent obituary for Letitia Baldrige follows its standard obituary procedures.

The lead begins with the name of the deceased, followed by the reason for her newsworthiness. It states where and when Baldrige died, as well as her age.

The obituary for Baldrige, etiquette adviser and Jackie Kennedy's White House Chief of Staff, is long, a testament to Baldrige's contribution to American society.

The "claim to fame" section is long and filled with Baldrige's various achievements, and the chronology describes the Baldrige's childhood, career, and personal life.

The quotations used in the obituary come exclusively from interviews done with Baldrige throughout the years. These quotes span several decades.

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