Main | March 2009 »

February 28, 2009

Legalizing Marijuana in Minnesota

A bill for the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes passed its first test in Minnesota’s House of Representatives on February 18 reported the Pioneer Press. The bill was approved by The Health Care and Human Services Policy and Oversight Committee 9-6 and it will now head to the House’s Civil Justice Committee. The bill would allow patients who suffer from all different kids of chronic conditions, with a doctors consent, to use marijuana to alleviate their pain. This is similar to the laws already in place in 13 other states. Governor Tim Paulenty opposes the bill for law-enforcement concerns, despite the support it has seen from voters. A similar bill is making its way through the Senate currently. An older story reported in the Star Tribune about the same bill clarifies that the bill would not legalize marijuana it would simply allow qualified patients to posses up to 2.5 ounces of it.

Snow Warning For Minnesota

The Pioneer Press reported today of the warning of heavy snow fall for much of south and central Minnesota. Precipitation is expected to begin as sleet or freezing rain and continue on until Friday. The Star Tribune reported on the same storm but specified that we should see u to 6 inches of snow coming down at 1-2 inches per hour and warns that travel conditions will deteriorate quickly.

Stand-Up Desks in Elementary Schools


Elementary schools in the St. Croix area and across the river in Wisconsin are trying a new model of stand-up desks that allow for children to choose weather or not they want to stand or sit according to the New York Times.
Abby Brown’s sixth grade class at Marine Elementary School is being monitored and studied as they try out these new desks.
The adjustable-height desks were developed by Mrs. Brown herself, along with the help of a local ergonomic furniture company. The desks, which are at about chest-height, also have swinging footrests, and adjustable stools.
Children in her class enjoy the freedom to choose whether or not they want to sit. It gives them the ability to focus on their schoolwork instead of focusing on sitting still.
The Pioneer Press covered the same story featuring a fifth grade class in a Wisconsin Elementary School, which had the same positive response to the standing-desks.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/us/25desks.html?_r=1&ref=us

An End to The War In Iraq

President Obama said Friday in a speech to the American people, “By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” reported the Wall Street Journal. President Obama laid out his plan to remove over two-thirds of the troops in Iraq by the end of the summer in 2010. This will change the mission in Iraq from combat to a more limited set of missions. He then plans to have all remaining troops removed from Iraq by December 2011. According to the New York Times, there will be a shift from troops in Iraq to Afghanistan, because Afghanistan has become increasingly more volatile.

Pentagon lifts Ban on Photographing Victims of War

The Pentagon is finally reversing their 18-year-old policy about allowing the press to photograph the coffins of the dead returning from the war in Iraq according to the New York Times. The policy was first instated by George H. W. Bush back in 1991. He claimed it was to protect the privacy and dignity of the families of the dead, but critics say it was just to keep the real outcomes of the war from reaching Americans. The policy was reinstated a year ago by the George W. Bush Administration. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration is reversing that 18-year-old law and allowing for photographs of flag covered caskets being returned from Iraq. The new policy requires the permission from family members before caskets are photographed and released.

February 22, 2009

Analysis Entry on Stop and Follows

The Star Tribune reported two men were found guilty in a mortgage fraud. The first story’s lead was:
Two metro-area men have been found guilty of racketeering and multiple counts of theft in Hennepin County District Court for their role in one of the state's largest mortgage fraud cases, worth approximately $100 million.
In this story the main news is the crime and the lead here is meant to explain it. In the second story the lead was very different, it read:
In a hearing marked by delays and discord, a Chaska man who was president of a home-building company received a seven-year prison sentence Friday for his part in a mortgage fraud scheme in the southwestern suburbs.
This news was all about the sentence, because the crime had already been introduced. The lead this time was about the sentence, the man sentenced, and the hearing. The first story tells all about the crime, and the conviction of the men who committed it. The second story is all about the hearing and the court proceedings. The interesting twist is that the first story is about two men who committed this great mortgage fraud, but the second story really emphasizes that a Chaska man committed a crime. There are no retorts to any competing news sources in either story.

Economy and Climate Change Trump Human Rights in China

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the United States in an effort to curb greenhouse gases as she toured an energy-efficient power plant in Beijing on Saturday the Star Tribune reported.
The gas-fired power plant, which uses sophisticated turbines made by General Electric, is nearly twice as efficient as the coal-fired plants that supply much of China’s electricity and that helped vault China past the United States as the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide.
The Obama administration hopes to make climate change the center point of an even bigger international relations engagement with China.
“We hope [China] won’t make the same mistakes we made,” Clinton said as reported in the New York Times.

School Buses Set on Fire Near City Plagued With Arson

Seven school buses were set on fire over the weekend near a city in southern Pennsylvania which has been hit with arson many times before according to the New York Times.
Firefighters were called to North Brandywine Middle School early Sunday morning to soak seven burning buses said authorities in West Brandywine Township.
Investigators said the fires were set on purpose, and caused an estimated $400,000 in damages. No suspects have been named.
Coatsville, a city just north of the township, has had a reported 66 arson cases in the past year, and only two people have been arrested in those cases reported the Star Tribune.

A Record Number of Suicides for a U.S. Military Academy

After four suicides in the last year, the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York is going through a 30-day suicide prevention program with an Army-wide training session and an interactive video, the New York Times reports.
The video features a suicidal soldier and depicts the choices he confronts as he spirals downward, with one set of choices leading to improved mental health, and the other to tragedy.
"We're doing everything we can to study these cases, understand why they happened, and see what we can do to move ahead," said Academy Chaplin Col. John Cook.
After the 30-day training there will be a two-month program in which leaders will communicate with every cadet and staff member about suicide prevention.
This all came about after the recent, unrelated suicides of two cadets, as well as two suicide attempts within the last month the Star Tribune reported. Those followed two suicides by staff members last summer.

Eden Prairie's Own Gets the Boot From 'American Idol'

The Pioneer Press reported that American Idol finalist from Eden Prairie made it to Hollywood only to have her dreams crushed on stage and in front of a national audience Tuesday by all four judges.
Casey Carlson, 20, a University of Minnesota student, received a verbal beating after her performance of “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police.
She was told she couldn’t have picked a worse song, and Simon Cowell even called her performance “atrocious.” Even the softy, Paula Abdul had something bad to say.
Before she was told she wouldn’t reach the final 12, Carlson was asked what she thought of the judges’ comments, and she said she couldn’t agree more with what they said.
The Star Tribune interviewed Carlson’s singing coach, who watched her performance live from her living room in Minneapolis, and she said “that poor kid,” but also that she is proud of her and still wants to continue coaching her.

Charges Re-filed in 1998 Minneapolis Shooting

The Star Tribune reported that a prison inmate from Minneapolis was charged Friday in a 1998 homicide case.
Jaymichael Hargrove, 28, was charged in a shooting that year that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old Minneapolis man, but charges were later dismissed because of witness issues.
Hargrove was sentenced to prison in 2004 for committing a sex crime, and the murder case remained cold until a witness came forward in October saying Hargrove admitted to the crime.
Julius Gatson and his girlfriend were standing on a porch in the 3100 block of Chicago Ave. S. when Hargrove opened fire on them, killing Gatson and wounding the female according to the criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The Pioneer Press reported that since then, Hargrove has been convicted of three unrelated felonies, and four misdemeanors.

February 15, 2009

Analysis of Structures

In the Star Tribune's report on the Pakistani Kidnappers, the reporter uses quick and efficient writing. The lead includes the most important elements of the story; the who, the when, and the where. The next sentence summarizes the how. And lastly the reporter gives more detail about the who. this is effective in getting out the most important information first so the reader knows what he/she is about to read about. The summaries are short but full enough to let the reader know the story fast without giving too much unimportant detail. There is really no order in which this story could be told more effectively, aside from adding more detail about the victim at the end of the story.

Suspect Arrested in Connection with 7 St. Paul Bank Robberies

Police arrested a man Friday after a Wells Fargo Bank hold-up when a resident of St. Paul called 911 because a strange man was hiding in her screened in porch as reported by the Pioneer Press.
The FBI identified the suspect as Esley Andre Reid, 29, of St. Paul, and he is also suspected in 6 other bank robberies and attempted bank robberies in the St. Paul area.
On Tuesday Ried is expected to be charged with multiple counts of bank robbery, as well as parole and weapons violations according to a release from Ralph S. Boelter, FBI special agent in charge of the Minneapolis office as reported in the Star Tribune.

St. Louis Park Man Dies in Fire

The Star Tribune reported a St. Louis Park man died in a house fire Friday afternoon.
Firefighters were called to a house on Alabama Avenue after a neighbor called 911 reporting smoke and flames coming from the house around 1 p.m. said St. Louis Park spokesman Jamie Zwilling.
A man was found by the firefighters lying in the first floor bedroom, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
It took crews about three hours to extinguish the fire which was believed to have been started near the kitchen area of the house, and is still under investigation said Zwilling.
The Pioneer Press reported that the Hennepin County Medical Examiner announced in a statement Saturday that Thomas C. Holden, 56, died from smoke inhalation.

St. Paul Man Killed By Train

The Star Tribune reports the death of a man killed by a train late Saturday night in St. Paul as seen on KSPT-TV.
The man’s identity has not yet been released, but according to the station, his body was found by passersby on the tracks near Palen Boulevard and Payne Avenue.
Police say the man either fell asleep or passed out on the tracks.
The Pioneer Press reported the 33-year-old man’s body was found by a Union Pacific railroad worker around 11 p.m. Saturday.
The railroad worker was on a different train traveling down nearby tracks when he saw the body, and wasn’t sure if the man was injured or dead police Cmdr. Kevin Casper told the Pioneer Press.

Plane Crash in Buffalo, N.Y. Possibly Due to Policy Violation

A commuter plane crashed in into a house near Buffalo Thursday night killing 50 people as reported by the New York Times.
The plane landed on its belly with almost no forward momentum facing the opposite direction of its destination leading investigators to believe the plane suffered an aerodynamic stall.
Recent updates to the story in the Star Tribune confirm the plane was on autopilot when it crashed which is a possible violation of policy.
Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board says Colgan Air recommends pilots fly manually in icy conditions. Pilots are required to do so in severe ice to get a feel for how the plane is reacting to the icy conditions.

UN Official Abducted in Pakistan

An American employee of the United Nations was kidnapped in Pakistan and threatened by death within 72 hours the Star Tribune Reported.
Gunmen seized John Soleki in Quetta, near the Afgan border, on Feb. 2 and released a 20 second video on Friday of the blindfolded Soleki saying he was “sick and in trouble.?
The kidnappers identified themselves as part of the Baluchistan Liberation United Front, a previously unknown organization, which meant they were not Islamist militants.
The Star Tribune reported only that, but the New York Times reported that there was a letter along with the video, which was delivered to a Pakistani news agency, that said the hostage would be killed unless authorities released 141 women who were being held in Pakistan within the next 72 hours. The Times also identified Soleki as the head of the United Nations refugee agency in Quetta.

February 8, 2009

Attribution

The Star Tribune reported on the ice break off the shore of Lake Erie that trapped more than 100 men and left one man dead. This story attributed 19 facts to various human and recorded sources, some direct quotes and some paraphrased. The reporter used a lot of different sources with credible positions, or witnesses of the account, all of them were named along with their title or position in the article. The reporter used quotes from fisherman at the scene, the Coast Guard spokesman, the County Sheriff, the County Sheriff's office records, a National Weather Service meteorologist, an Oak Harbor resident, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife spokesman. Some sources were quoted in the beginning of the article and again later on using only their last name, which made it a little confusing because you had to look back in the article to see exactly who the person was and what authority they had.

Death of a Daughter Brings the Life of a Granddaughter

Kari Palashewski is a proud new grandmother of a baby girl, after her daughter was killed in a car crash on Interstate 94 according to the Star Tribune.
Palashewski’s daughter, Jamie Baer, was the passenger in a car police said was speeding down I-94 when it collided with an embankment. Baer was trapped in the vehicle after the car had rolled more had a dozen times according to state patrol. She was fatally injured while the driver and another passenger survived.
Palashewski came to the hospital to say goodbye to her daughter when she found out doctors were delivering Baer’s baby, four months premature.
“Nobody knew Jamie was even pregnant,? Palashewski told the Star Tribune, “I don’t know if she even knew.?
Now, six months later, Palashewski is the legal guardian of the healthy baby girl she named Angel.

Trial Set for Minnetonka Teen Charged in bank Robbery

A trial date is finally set for Minnetonka teen charged with robbing a northern Wisconsin bank last summer as reported by the Pioneer Press.
Anthony DiLoreto, 19, a basketball prospect from Hopkins High School is charged in Burnett County Circuit Court with robbery of a financial institution and possession of a short-barrel riffle.
DiLoreto was accused of serving as the getaway driver for the August robbery of Bremer Bank in Danbury, Wisc.
According to the Star Tribune, a 16-year-old accomplice was also arrested.
According to online sources, a judge set a three-day trial to begin Sept. 2, but the District Attorney said plea negotiations continue to solve the case without a trial.

Ice Flow Breaks From Lake Erie Killing 1 Man

Fisherman in Oak harbor, Ohio were trapped on a miles-wide sheet of ice that broke free from the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, leaving one man dead, and 134 to be rescued according to the New York Times.
The fishermen were alerted to the situation via cell phone calls from the mainland. Some immediately went east in search of an ice bridge back to shore.
About an hour later, rescue helicopter arrived on scene and dropped buckets to lift the fishermen to safety.
While the New York Times could not identify the single fatality, the Star Tribune reported that Leslie Love, 65, of New Albany, Ohio died of a heart attack when his snowmobile fell through the ice as he was searching for a safe passage to shore according to the Ottawa County Sherif’s Office.
One other man fell through the ice while driving his ATV across a small crack, but rescuers pulled him from the fridged waters and he survived with minor injuries.
According to the Tribune, the men will be fined, if they ever need to be rescued in the same situation again, for being out on the ice in those unsafe conditions.

Fake Parking Ticket Scam By U.S. Hackers

U.S. hackers are now using real world situations to trick victims into downloading malicious viruses on their computers as reported by BBC news online.
Vehicles in Grand Forks, North Dakota were the targets of this scheme with fake parking tickets that prompted vehicle owners to a website where they could “view pictures with information about their parking preferences.?
The website then directed the user to download a toolbar to view photos of their vehicle, which was actually a virus. When computers were rebooted a security alert appeared prompting the user to download fake anti-virus software.
“Attackers continue to come up with creative ways of tricking potential victims into installing malicious software,? anti-virus analyst, Lenny Zelster said. He also warned that this would not be the last time this would happen.
According to CNET News, McAfee's Avert Lab’s Blog identified the Trojan as Vundo, and urges users not to access it.

Indian Government Distributes Mobile Phones to Fight Rebels

The government in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has distributed more than 200 mobile phones to village headmen in hopes that they will be a mode for gaining fast tip-offs about Maoist Rebel movements according to BBC online news.
The Maoist rebels who regularly attack police and government offices control large parts of the Indian state Jharkhand.
The cell-phones were distributed for village headman to contact police under an emergency, or if the rebels come too close to their village.
"The government is distributing mobile phones to village headmen in the areas where the Maoists are most active," Sudhir Kumar, police chief of the worst-affected district East Singbhum, said.
Kumer said the initial response has been good and that the cell phone have proven helpful for village headmen to relay “very useful? information.
The New York Times reported that the Indian government considers the violence of the Maoist rebels to be the biggest threat to the country’s security since their independence.

February 1, 2009

Leads: Analysis Entry

The three men who gunned down Jeffery Lamont Logan during a botched robbery in St. Paul early Saturday could have just asked for the money.
This lead in the Star Tribune takes a different sort of approach than simply stating the facts. While it does include some important facts about the story, it also leads the reader into the rest of the story by leaving an unanswered question. ‘Why could the robbers have just asked for the money?’ the reader wants to know, and so they read on. Other important elements in this lead are the incident, the victims full name, the location, the time of the incident, and the number of suspects. The victim is the only detailed information in this lead, as they report his full name. The time, location, suspects, and event are all very general leaving the reader hungry for more information.

Afghanistan's Presidential Election Delayed

Afghanistan's election commission said the country’s election will be held on August 20th as reported in the Wall Street Journal. It will be then that voters may decide whether or not to keep the country’s current president Hamid Karzai.
According to the country’s constitution the election is supposed to take place in the spring, but due to the country’s security situation they are postponing it until August when additional international forces will be present and the security situation will be more stable.
President Karzai, who was elected to serve a five-year term, will effectively serve a few months more, which is possible due to a clause in the constitution about lack of security for a peaceful vote.
The New York Times reports Afghan officials need to more to prepare for the election, and it is a matter of not being capable of distributing ballots in time for a spring election. This raises doubts about how legitimate the current presidents final months in office will be.
United Nations Representatives reported in the New York Times have said the organization is allowing the delay because there simply isn’t enough time to get everything into place by the spring.
“At this point, it has become a pragmatic necessity,? said Adrian Edwards, a United Nations spokesman in Kabul as reported by the Times.

House Passes Obama's $819 Economic Stimulus Plan

Wednesday, President Obama’s purposed $819 billion stimulus bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a majority democratic win as reported by the Star Tribune.
The bill was primarily for increased spending and tax cuts nation wide to prevent the loss of thousands more jobs. While it wont create many jobs, the bill will create programs and projects, which will help to create jobs down the line.
Prior to this event, the New York Times reported the bill was actually an $825 billion stimulus package, which would test Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship.
The vote was close, but the Democrats took the lead, and the Republicans were unanimously against the bill, which is on its way to be debated over in the Senate.
"This recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years," the president said in a written statement released shortly after the House meeting, as reported in the Star Tribune.
Republicans disagreed with the amount of tax cuts, saying there was too few, and way too much spending for our government. They wonder where the money is going to be coming from to fund such a legislation.

St. Paul Man Shot by Robbers

The Star Tribune reported Jeffery Logan, 44, was shot and killed Saturday at one o’clock a.m. during a robbery in St. Paul.
The three men arrested for the robbery now face murder charges.
According to the Tribune, the exact events of the shooting are unclear, but Logan was supposedly out with a cousin whom the robbers had targeted first which led Logan to step in. There was a brief fight and the gun was fired. Logan was rushed to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, but died shortly after arrival.

Witnesses saw a vehicle leaving the crime scene, according to the Pioneer Press, and after a short chase, police were able to stop the vehicle and apprehend the suspects.
The 20-year-old suspect, along with two men, ages 27 and 28, all from St. Paul, who were inside the vehicle now await formal charges in the Ramsey County jail.

Minneapolis Shooting Leaves ma Dead in Van

A man was found dead due to gun shot wounds in a van in Minneapolis early Wednesday morning as reported by the Star Tribune.
Police got the call about a man slumped over in a minivan around 9:30 a.m.
Sgt. William Palmer, Minneapolis police spokesman told the Pioneer Press.
The mini van was parked on the side of the road near the intersection of California St. and Lowry Ave. in northeast Minneapolis.
The man’s identity and cause of death will be released as soon as the Hennepin County medical examiner is has finished the examination.
So far police have no suspects and no idea as to how long the man had been dead.
This is the city’s second homicide of the new year according to the Star Tribune.

House Moves Across the Ice in White Bear Lake

A 60-ton house was transported across a 100-yard stretch of ice on White Bear Lake reported the Star Tribune.
The two-story house was moved from Manitou Island on dollies with 64 tires to Matoska Park on the other side of the lake leaving no more than a few cracks in the ice behind.
Onlookers gathered shortly after 10 a.m. on Wednesday to watch the house make its journey across the ice which took only 25 minutes.
The move was well under way by late Thursday afternoon according to the Pioneer Press. The house was already uprooted, rigged onto two giant girders, and hauled to the shore by a truck at only about 2 mph.
The home was built during the late 1800’s as a residence for Manitou Island’s caretakers and was remodeled in 1990 according to the Pioneer Press, but the Star Tribune reports it was remodeled in 1991.
The current owner, Doug Kreamer of Kreamer Construction, told the Star Tribune he bought the house because of its history and wanted to save it.
Preparations for the move included removing the screened in porch from the house, and reinforcing the ice by pumping water over the surface.
From the Park, the house will be relocated a couple blocks to a neighborhood lot on Sixth Street where it will wait until spring when a proper hole can be dug for a basement and foundation.