November 2012 Archives

Record Powerball jackpot

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The prize for Wednesday night's Powerball drawing will be at least $500 million, USA Today reported.
The jackpot is the highest amount ever for Powerball, and the second-biggest lottery jackpot ever. In March, a Mega Millions jackpot reached a staggering $656 million.
The odds of selecting the correct six number combination for the Powerball are only about 1 in 175 million. Those figures have not discouraged millions of players from purchasing tickets at $2 apiece.
Ticket sales on the day of the drawing typically account for 60 percent of the total amount sold, according to lottery officials, who expect that more than 6 million tickets will be sold per hour on Wednesday.
If taken as a lump sum, Wednesday's winning ticket could be cashed out for approximately $327 million after taxes, the Chicago Tribune said.

Hundreds of thousands gather to protest in Cairo

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In a scene resembling last year's Egyptian revolution, approximately 200,000 people have gathered in Tahir Square to protest the ruling regime, the Globe and Mail reported.
The protest was sparked by a decree made by President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday which protects his decisions from court challenges until the country's new constitution is drafted, Ahram Online reported.

Analysis: Diversity

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A feature story published by the Baltimore Sun last week highlights the ten year anniversary of the Howard County Muslim Council. The group was the first of its kind in Maryland, and its objective from the start has been to present the true image of Islam and to encourage Muslims to become involved in their communities. The author of the story makes mention to the fact that the group was founded while the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were fresh in the public's mind. He also mentions the group's goal of attaining equality for Muslims within the community. These are the only instances in which stereotyping is referenced, and the reporter presents the many areas in which the group has flourished and benefited the community over the past ten years as a way of moving past the stereotype.
The reporter's sources include two senators from Maryland, the founder of the council, the council's current president, and a member of the group. Senator Jim Robey was one of the first officials to meet with Anwer Hasan (founder of the council) to discuss the formation of the group ten years ago. He praised the council for following through with their objective. The other senator, Allan Kittleman, acknowledged the positive impact that the council has had on the community as a whole.
This story about a movement to empower local Muslims to get involved in their communities rarely makes mention of stereotypes associated with the group. Instead, it highlights the contributions that a particular cultural group has made to a community.

Soccer team saved by world's richest man

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Carlos Slim, a telecommunications tycoon with an estimated net worth of $69 billion, will become the majority shareholder of the Spanish soccer team Real Oviedo, the New York Times reports.
The team was in danger of insolvency, and needed to raise nearly 2 million euros by midnight on Saturday in order to stay afloat, Businessweek said.
Slim acquired controlling stake (30 percent) of the team for 2 million euros.
Earlier this fall, Slim purchased stakes of 30 percent in two Mexican soccer teams.
The New York Times reported that slim plans "to create synergies and exchanges between Spanish, Mexican and Latin American football."
The team has a fan base of 20,000 supporters, and until recent years of hardship, had been a first-division team. Their struggles have demoted them to third-tier level.

Israel considers ground invasion of Gaza

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Israeli and Palestinian forces exchanged airstrikes for a third straight day on Friday, prompting Israel to threaten a ground invasion of Gaza if rocket attacks on Israel do not stop, the LA Times reported.
The Israeli government has drafted 16,000 troops and authorized the mobilization of 75,000 reservists.
Rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel's two largest cities, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Friday, and while neither rocket hit its mark, Israel considers this to be a major escalation in the conflict, MSNBC reported.
The recent surge of violence began on Wednesday when Israel killed Ahmed Jabari, Hamas' military mastermind.

Hostess to close

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The company behind Wonder Bread and Twinkies is set to close down, following a failed attempt to cut the wages and benefits of its bakery workers, the New York Times reports.
The company announced on Friday that it is asking a federal court for permission to close operations. If Hostess closes, nearly 18,500 workers will lose their jobs, CNN reports.
Hostess will likely sell their assets, which would mean that some of their products could continue to be produced.
A baker's strike has prompted the closing of the iconic company. Hostess had given the baker's union a deadline of 5 p.m. on Thursday to return to work or face a shutdown of the company, CNN reported.
A new contract which would have cut the worker's wages and benefits was rejected by the union in September.

Timberwolves off to fast start despite injuries

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The Minnesota Timberwolves improved their record to 5-2 by defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, the Star Tribune reports.
The team continues to win, despite beginning the season its two best players out with injuries, and several more falling like flies out of the lineup and onto the bench. Five key players, including four starters, are on injured reserve, the Pioneer Press reports.
Newly acquired forward Chase Budinger is the most recent victim of the injury plague that has reduced the team's number of eligible players to nine.
"Until we're down to four players, we feel we have enough to keep winning," forward Dante Cunningham told the Pioneer Press.
The team has learned that Budinger will miss 3-4 months to recover from surgery to repair a knee that was injured in a game against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Moving forward, the team is currently without all-star forward Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, JJ Barrea and Chase Budinger. Starting center Nikola Pekovic left Monday's game in the third quarter with a sprained ankle, but not expected to miss much time.
The Timberwolves' next opponent will be the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night at Target Center. Last season, the Bobcats posted the worst record in the history of the league, going 7-59 in the lockout shortened season.

An Arizona woman ran her husband over with a Jeep SUV, allegedly furious that he did not vote in last Tuesday's election, CBS reports.
Holly Solomon and her husband were engaged in a heated political argument on Saturday night, according to witnesses cited in the complaint.
Solomon then chased her husband around a parking lot with the family vehicle, eventually running him over as he tried to get away, Fox News said.
The husband is in critical condition at a local hospital, and Solomon faces charges of aggravated assault.
Drugs and alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the bizarre domestic dispute, authorities said.

Numbers Analysis

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An article published by Reuters on Sunday assesses the damages caused by Superstorm Sandy. The use of numbers is essential to telling this story. The article cites the death toll with an exact figure (121), and uses approximate numbers to express the financial damage caused (an estimated $50 billion), the number of power outages (about 167,000 currently), and the amount of water that flooded a tunnel in Brooklyn (an estimated 43 million gallons).
Numbers are also used when referring to the relief efforts. The number of items distributed to those affected are expressed in with approximate numbers (2 million meals, 50,000 coats, etc.).
The reporters who compiled this story used numbers as a way to express the enormity of the news story they are covering. This story continues to affect the lives of many people in the nation's most densely-populated region. The numbers cited often segue the story into new directions, which works well in this case.
"Authorities" and "officials" are the sources for the majority of these numbers. The U.S. Energy Department is cited specifically, but outside of that reference, the sourcing is vague.
The use of numerals is a bit overwhelming in this article. While some numbers are essential (death toll, cost), others are not (gallons of water). An article about a story with such a wide range of implications is bound contain a lot of numbers, and for the most part, this article does a fine job of informing the reader of the widespread devastation caused by the storm.

Inmate escapes Arizona jail, apprehended later in the day

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A 26-year-old man being held on attempted murder and robbery charges is back in custody, after he escaped from an Arizona jail on Sunday, AP reports.
Adan Ordunu Jr. was discovered missing shortly before 9 a.m. at the Maricopa County Jail.
Jail personnel launched a search of the 600,000-square-foot facility, and determined that Ordunu had escaped.
He was apprehended around 6:30 p.m. in the Phoenix area, Fox15 said. An investigation is under way to determine how the inmate escaped.
According to the report, Ordunu was arrested in November, 2011 in connection with an officer-involved shooting. He has a lengthy criminal history, and has been described as "extremely dangerous."

CIA Director David Petraeus resigns

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David Patraeus, a four-star general who led U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, has submitted his resignation as CIA Director after admitting to an extra-marital affair, AP reports.
President Barack Obama accepted Patraeus' resignation on Friday.
The former head of the U.S. Central Command had been carrying on an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer, according to U.S. officials.
The officials said that Broadwell may have had access to Petraeus' personal email account. The FBI launched an investigation after Broadwell allegedly emailed several government officials, FOX News said.
Michael Morell, the Deputy Director of the CIA, will take over Patraeus' role as CIA Director, a position which Patraeus was appointed to last year.
The resignation comes days before Patraeus was to testify at congressional hearings regarding the attack at the U.S Consulate in Libya. The CIA has been scrutinized for their reaction to the attack. Patraeus will no longer need to testify at the hearings.

Earthquake in Guatemala claims at least 52 lives

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A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the country of Guatemala hard on Wednesday morning, AP reports.
President Otto Perez Molina said that there have been as many as 70 aftershocks since the initial quake, with the highest aftershock measured with a magnitude of 4.9.
The eastern village of San Marcos has suffered the most damage, with 40 reported dead and many houses destroyed. Rescue crews continue to sift through the rubble, looking for survivors, and relief efforts are in effect for those without shelter, electricity and clean drinking water.
Damage from the quake has been reported in all but one of Guatemala's 22 states, and the effects were felt as far away as Mexico City, Fox News said.
The quake was 20 miles deep, and centered 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City. This was the most powerful earthquake to hit Guatemala since 1976.

Voters reject amendments

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Minnesota voters have rejected two proposed amendments to the state constitution, one which would ban gay marriage, and the other which would require all voters to present photo identification at the polls, the Winona Daily News reports.
The amendments were put on the ballot by legislature, which had been controlled by the Republican Party. Ironically, the Republicans lost their majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate on the same night that their proposals were turned down.
Voters came out to the polls in droves on Tuesday, as nearly 3 million Minnesotans cast their ballots. The state maintained its reputation as one of the nation's leaders in election participation, AP said.
The Star Tribune reports that this was highest election turnout in Minnesota history. As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,938,947 ballots had been counted.

Barack Obama elected to second term

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After months of campaigning, President Barack Obama won his bid for re-election, defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the Minnesota Daily reports.
Obama secured four more years in the White House by winning the electoral college by a significant margin: 303-206. However, he edged out Romney by only 2 percent in the popular vote, proof of just how divided the country remains over his leadership, the New York Times said.
The Associated Press announced Obama as the winner at approximately 10:40 p.m. Central Standard Time.
The election did little to change the political makeup of Washington, as Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives, and Democrats retained the Senate.
About $6 billion was spent by the two major parties this election season. Ultimately, the two "fought to a standstill," the New York Times said.

Obituary Analysis

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By Luke Peterson
Phyllis Thornley, a lifelong Minneapolis resident with a passion for books, took her love for reading and transformed it into a career as an administrator and librarian for over three decades in the Twin Cities area.
A reporter for the Star Tribune wrote an obituary for her which, on the whole, closely resembles the New York Times style, though the lead does not. Instead of leading with the name of the person and concluding the lead with the date and location of her death, this obituary begins with three anecdotal sentences which provide some background about the subject's love for books. In the fourth paragraph, the author combines 'the lead' and 'the cause' from the standard structure, and then follows with 'the claim to fame,' 'chronology,' and 'family' sections with quotes inserted from Thornley's family and friends.
The main news values of this story are proximity and prominence. The subject is a woman who had lived in Minneapolis for most of her 87 years, and worked in Minneapolis schools for a large portion of her adult life. Consequently, she was likely to have been known by a large number of people. Her peculiar love of books seems to add a bit of novelty to the story, but not really enough to classify it as a central news value.
Some of the obituary does read like a resume in the claim to fame and chronology sections. However, quotes and information about Thornley's hobbies and personal life are mixed to paint a more humanized picture than that of a resume.

Most of New York City's subways back in order

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Nearly all of New York City's subways are up and running following the devastation of tropical storm Sandy, the New York Times reported on Saturday morning.
More than 80 percent of the subways are back in business and the rest are expected to be operational within the next few days according to officials.
The combination of flooded tunnels and loss of power as a result of the storm left New York's subway system paralyzed, causing a tremendous transportation crunch in the wake of Sandy, which hit the city earlier in the week, Market Watch reports.
The subways were expected to be out of order for much longer, but thanks to the rigorous efforts of the workers, the tunnels have been pumped out and are operational.

Xcel Energy makes request to increase rates

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Xcel Energy filed a request on Friday with Minnesota regulators to raise energy rates by more than 10 percent, Star Tribune reports.
The company, which supplies more than 1 million Minnesotans with electricity, needs $285 million in extra revenue to pay for investments in a nuclear power plant in Red Wing and strengthening its power grid.
According to the report, Xcel has asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to authorize the increase by Jan. 1.
If the request is passed, the average residential customer would see an increase of 12 percent, or about $9, per month on his or her energy bill, KARE 11 said. Businesses would also see an increase in their bills of about 9 percent per month.

Indian coast hit with cyclone

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Cyclone Nilam slammed into the southeastern coast of India on Thursday, leaving at least 8 people dead, CNN reports.
About 150,000 people were displaced and moved to shelters, according to NBC. More than 200 schools are currently being used to house the displaced.
Floods caused by the storm have damaged thousands of houses.
Nilam is the third cyclone to hit the region in recent years.

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