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December 9, 2007

Naked men buy candy in Arizona

On CNN, there was a story about two naked men who went into a convenience store, shortly after 3 a.m., to buy candy, soda and dough nuts in Phoenix.

The reporters interviewed the cashier who was working at the time. She let them come into the store, unaware of their lack of clothing.

She said she did not want to call the police because they were being polite and not hurting anything, but that if this becomes a habit, then she will.

The names of the men were not mentioned, but their faces were shown on the surveillance footage from the store, which aired on television December 5.

Though this is not the hardest news in the world, it has entertainment value and tells the story of regular, working-class people. This is not the most important kind of story to society, but it still serves an important niche in journalism.

News companies should, however, be weary about airing too many "fluff" stories like this one
to maintain credibility and integrity.

November 26, 2007

'Girls Gone Wild' Producer Says He Was Abused in Jail

Joe Francis, the producer of the "Girls Gone Wild" video series, said he was abused by guards at an Oklahoma jail, which can be read in The Oklahoman and CNN.

Francis said guards denied him food and blankets and threatened to tie him naked to a chair for 48 hours.

He was at Grady County jail in Oklahoma for two weeks, while being moved from Florida to Nevada to await a federal tax evasion trial.

Shane Wyatt, the Grady County jail administrator, said Francis was not treated any differently than any other inmate.

Francis has been jailed because one of his "Girls Gone Wild" videos made in 2003 featured a 17-year-old participating in sex acts and because he yelled at a lawyer during a hearing. He has decided not to post bail in Reno while awaiting his tax evasion trial.

November 12, 2007

Foreign Students Boost Econony

According to the New York Times, A growing number of foreign students is increasingly contributing to our national economy.

International students' net contributions to the United States increased by a billion dollars in the 2006-07 school year from the previous year, the largest increase to date.

I appreciated how the story had quotes from an expert that could put some of the numbers into perspective, for example, how international students in New York contributed "--more than the Yankees, the Mets, the Rangers, the Knicks and the Giants combined.?

I also liked how the numbers were thoroughly explained in the context of change over time and that there were not too many statistics in one paragraph, which made it easy to comprehend.

However, the last three sentences of the article seemed tacked on because they didn't follow the same logical flow that the rest of the article did. The information in those sentences is relevant and newsworthy, though, and did belong in the story.

November 4, 2007

New Protection for Pagans in West Virginia

An A.P. story on the New York Times website and one on Google Groups reported that a new policy at Marshall University in West Virginia allows pagans to miss class for religious holidays.

Some students took advantage of the new policy on Thursday, which was Samhain, a pagan and Wiccan holiday that honors the dead.

The decision was an extension of existing policy toward other religious groups, said Steve Hensley, the dean of student affairs at Marshall.

"It was really just a matter of looking into it, and deciding what was the right thing,? Hensley said.

Paganism experts said they are not aware of any other university with such a policy, but there are some universities wth blanket policies allowing students to miss class for any religious holiday.

October 29, 2007

Seven Students Dead in Beach House Fire

Six of the seven students that died from the fire in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina were from the University of South Carolina, according to CNN and The Washington Post.

The seventh is believed to be a Clemson University student, said Dennis A. Pruitt, the vice president for student affairs at USC.

There were six survivors, all of them USC students. One of the survivors escaped the house by jumping into a waterway.

The fire was discovered by newspaper deliveryman Tim Burns. He saw it early Sunday morning and tried to approach the door but the flames were too intense, he told the Associated Press.

Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said officials had not yet contacted all the victims' families, and they were not yet releasing their names.

Smith also said that officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

October 14, 2007

Bush Vetos Healthcare for Children

President Bush vetoed a bipartisan bill that would renew healthcare programs for millions of uninsured children on Wednesday, acording to the Associated Press. The Senate had the required two-thirds majority vote to override the veto, but the House did not. Both are required to override a veto.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the veto was "heartless."

Bush said that he does not believe that this plan would help poor children, and that it would lead to public healthcare, which he opposes. He said he is willing to compromise with the Democratic bill.

The bill proposed that $35 billion be used over five years to give healthcare to 40 million children, which would be funded by increasing the federal cigarette tax by 61 cents a pack.

Bush did not make any vetos until being in office for six years. This is the fourth, the first three being two against the expansion of embryotic stem cell research and one against the withdrawl of troops from Iraq.

The Australian's website conflicts with the A.P. story, saying that the plan would cover 10 million children. It also said that Bush proposed a $5 billion increase in healthcare spending over five years, which was critized as being insufficient to cover the children currently on the plan.

September 30, 2007

Free-Speech Issue in Colorado

Colorado State University's newspaper editor is causing mixed opinions over a firsrt amendment issue, as stated on the New York Times' website. On Sept. 21,
the paper ran an editorial that read, "Taser this: Fuck Bush," directed at President Bush in response to the Sept. 18
incident at the University of Florida, where a student was shocked with a Taser gun after asking too many questions to Sen. John Kerry at a public meeting.

This week, a school supervisory board will decide whether or not to fire the editor in chief, J. David McSwane, for allowing this to be printed.

In an A.P. article, David Lane, McSwane's attorney, said that he had "absolute protection" under the First Amendment, continuing with
"The government, through a CSU body, cannot censor you for your comments nor may they retaliate against you for your op-ed piece regardless of whether they believe you have used 'offensive' language."

September 23, 2007

Barbara M. Asher Square Declared "Eyesore"

In a story by the Associated Press on the New York Times website said that plans are being made to clean up Barbara M. Asher Square in Atlanta, Ga. Recently, there have been complaints of too much litter, and an increasingly rising population of homeless persons congregating there. The square is not technically considered a park, so all the parks department can do is care for the trees and bushes, said spokeswoman Myra Reese. However, the department of public works is responsible for keeping it clean, but that is proving to be an almost impossible task. Deputy Commissioner for Public Works, Donna Owens, said “there are men and women who walk through the area all day de-littering...And as quickly as it is de-littered, it is littered again. It would be easier for us to keep it clean if people were not loitering. "

The city of Atlanta is so upset about this because the square is the first thing many tourists see when they visit, as it is on the central Five Points Marta transit system, which carries many people from the Airport to their hotels, and is
near the Georgia Aquarium, the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena and the convention center. Councilman Kwanza Hall said that there are plans under way to put police cameras in the square.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website mentions many of the same facts as the A.P. stories, but then focuses on Barbara M. Asher, herself, who had served as an Atlanta councilwoman for 18 years, and had the park named after her three years after her death. It includes a quote from Hall: "Any place that is named for a person deserves a greater level of attention,...We have put a lot more energy around the John Wesley Dobbs [Memorial in the King Historic District]. And we will do the same for Barbara Asher Square."

This version also goes into more detail about police plans to clean up the park: 'MARTA Chief of Police Wanda Dunham said the goal of her officers is to keep people moving. If people are not catching a bus or train, they are encouraged to move from MARTA property.'

Personally, I felt that all the versions of this story were a little unfair to homeless people, as every one of them mentioned how they smelled like urine and marijuana, which I feel perpetuates the stereotypes about homeless people, and how they need to be "taken care of."

September 16, 2007

O.J. Arrested, Again

According to CNN's website, O.J. Simpson was arrested and charged with six counts of robbery, assault, burglary and conspiracy at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. He is accused of stealing sports memorabilia from a collector. Simpson has been co-operative with the police, but said that the items seized belong to him. Also arrested was Walter Alexander, who was said to have had two guns related to the incident. Simpson denied Alexander's involvement, and said "the truth will come out" in his
co-operation with the police.

The Chicago Tribune's website
said that charges against Simpson are still being determined. I found this article easier to read and organized better than the CNN story. It doesn't include as much information, but a lot of the information on the CNN story is about Simpson's prior criminal record, and is not transitioned into smoothly.

September 9, 2007

Hate groups on Facebook

On today's New York Times website there was a story about an anti-islamic group on Facebook with over 750 members. For those who do not know, Facebook is an online social networking site used predominantly by college students. The group's leader, a man calling himself Variable, says "The Quran contains many lies and threats. Islam is false, no god exists, and someone should say that loud and clear.? He argues he has first amendment rights and that his group is peaceful.

In response to the hate group, a group, which now has over 58,000 members, was made that professes to quit Facebook if it is not removed. Facebook has declined any comment on has been done or what they plan on doing, though one day last week the website was inacessible.

To see either of these two group's pages, sign in at Facebook.com.