September 2012 Archives

By Libby Ryan

The New York Times article on the Iraq explosions Sunday was taken from the Associated Press and was an in depth report on the events.

The author started off with an informative and detailed lead. The second paragraph repeated most information that was included in the lead but also brought in some of the main ideas that would be addressed later in the article.

The next several paragraphs are statements from experts and key figures in Iraq, serving as fact blocks and inserting some opinions while the article remains impartial.

This is an effective layout because it allows the reader to grasp the most important facts in the first few paragraphs of the article. After the author states the quotes, there is background information on other attacks in the area which is a good place for readers to either stop reading or appreciate the in depth information.

Northern Minnesota in extreme fire danger

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By Libby Ryan

Minnesota fire risk has reached extreme danger point in the northern part of the state.

In northern Minnesota, the risk of fire has reached a critical level where even hot vehicle mufflers and lawn mowers are starting fires.

22 counties in the northern part of the state have restricted campfires to state parks, resorts and homes, said the Pioneer Press.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that it will take several inches of snow or rain to lessen the danger of fires.

California passes law against anti-gay therapy

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California lawmakers banned a controversial therapy technique that attempts to make homosexual teenagers straight.
The law, sponsored by State Senator Ted W. Lieu, states that no mental health provider can use therapy techniques with the goal of changing or reducing romantic feelings towards the same sex.
Lieu says the law will prevent children from being psychologically abused.
Gay rights activists say the practice is dangerous and can put teenagers receiving the therapy at higher risk of depression and suicide.
The law is protested by some therapists and conservative religious leaders who say that banning the therapy is a violation of free choice, said the New York Times.
The ban will go into effect Jan. 1, according to CBS News.

Japan storm causes thousands of evacuations

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A powerful tropical storm hit Japan Monday, injuring dozens.

Authorities urged residents in southern and western Japan to stay indoors as a tycoon hit the area Monday, said USA Today.

Evacuations were issued for more than 50,000 people due to torrential rain and strong winds. Winds up to 78 miles per hour were reported in central Japan.

One fatality was reported, according to the Washington Post.

By Libby Ryan

More than $7 million this year has been raised by both sides of the Minnesota amendment to the constitution on the issue of same-sex marriage, making the amendment the most fundraised constitutional amendment in Minnesota history.

Minnesota for Marriage, the group working to pass the amendment, has raised nearly $1.2 million since the beginning of the year, said MinnPost. Minnesota United for All Families, the group working to defeat the amendment, has raised $5.96 million this year.

There is less of a difference in the funds each side of the issue has kept for the six weeks left until the election. The groups supporting the amendment have $483,000 set aside while the opposition has $751,000 saved.

However, groups supporting same sex marriage bans have been outspent in most of states where the issue reached a vote, but have yet to lose an election, said the Star Tribune.

Violent protests in Greece end brief eurozone calm

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By Libby Ryan
Dozens were arrested in Greece Wednesday in a strike against planned spending cuts equal to over $14 billion that turned violent.

Rioters at the strike in Athens near Syntagma Square threw gas bombs and pieces of stone at police, who retaliated with tear gas, said the BBC.

There were over 60,000 protesters, the largest protest against austerity in Greece in six months, according to the Associated Press. The demonstrations were part of a 24-hour general strike called for by two of Greece's most powerful unions to protest the new spending cuts and raised taxes.

The protests shattered the illusion of calm Europe had been enjoying for the past month after European Central Bank announced earlier this month it would buy unlimited amounts of government bonds to help countries with their debts, said the AP. Greece needs to receive the next installment of its international bailout but with record unemployment and poverty levels, people are resistant to government solutions of slashed salaries and pensions and raised taxes.

Analysis: Potential waste turns into 465,000 meals

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By Libby Ryan

The story by the Star Tribune about nonprofits turning wasted corn into food to stock food banks uses over ten sources throughout the story.

The author, Mike Hughlett, alternates between paraphrasing statements from various government agencies and nonprofits and using direct quotes. He paraphrases information from studies from the United Nations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and more.

His quotes and information from sources are scattered throughout the story in a way that the reader is not overwhelmed by the amount of facts in the article. The way information is attributed is effective and not too much to take in.

Marriage Amendment Poll of Minnesota Voters

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By Libby Ryan

A poll of likely Minnesota voters shows votes split on the marriage amendment.

Minnesota voters are split 49 percent in favor of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only the union between one man and one women to 47 percent opposed to the amendment, according to a poll by the Star Tribune.

"It's clearly an incredibly close race and will be a dead heat down to Election Day," said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families. The organization recently released an advertisement to promote opposition for the amendment targeting conservative voters.

The advertisement depicts a Republican Catholic couple who have changed their minds and chosen to support gay marriage.

"Times change. I've thought about it more," said a Richfield man in the ad.

The poll showed the movement to pass the amendment to have a slight lead over the opposition but they lack the 50 percent majority they need in order for the amendment to pass.

"We are in good shape and reinforces our belief that if we execute our game plan, we will pass the amendment," said Frank Schubert, who leads the effort for Minnesota for Marriage. lacks the 50 percent it needs to pass the amendment.

Angry protests break out in Pakistan

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By Libby Ryan

At least 15 protesters died when demonstrations against the anti-Islam video made in America turned violent in Pakistan on Friday.

Between 12 and 19 people were killed and more than 160 were injured in government sanctioned protests as violent crowds rallied against the defamatory film, The Innocence of Muslims.

Pakistan's government declared Friday to be a national holiday, a "Day of Love for the Prophet Muhammad," allowing peaceful protests in response to the video, according to the New York Times.

Tens of thousands turned out in major cities across Pakistan to protest but the protests turned into violence as police responded to crowds throwing objects with teargas and live rounds of ammunition.

Recently published French satirical cartoons portraying the Prophet Muhammad added anti-French protests to the demonstrations. The Guardian said, the many protests in Islamic nations around the world has sparked intense discussion in the U.S and Europe about the boundaries of free speech.

Syrian plane bombs gas station

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Syrian plane bombs gas station

By Libby Ryan

At least 30 people died Thursday when a Syrian warplane dropped explosives on a gas station in northern Syria.

Between 30 and 50 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in the explosion at the petrol station near the Syrian/ Turkish border, according to the Washington Post.

Unverified footage online shows charred vehicles and debris scattered around the area as well as a video with a man denouncing the Syrian president as he surveys the aftermath of the attack.

Violent clashes between the Syrian government and rebel forces have continued since the Free Syrian Army gained control of the nearby Tal al-Abyad border post, said the BBC.

"It's a massacre," Salar al-Kurdi, a reporter with the opposition Shaam News Network said. "Their only fault is that the Free Syrian Army dominated this region and liberated it."

Union vote ends Chicago teachers strike

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By Libby Ryan

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday to end the strike affecting over 350,000 children in the Chicago area.
The decision to end the strike was voted through by an overwhelming majority, said two delegates at the meeting attended by 800 representatives from Chicago schools. Union president, Karen Lewis, said members voted 98 percent to 2 percent to end the strike and reopen schools.
Students in the affected districts missed 7 days of school and it remains uncertain how these days will be made up, according to the New York Times. Classes will resume Wednesday.
Key issues at the center of the strike are the ties between teacher evaluations and standardized test scores, length of the school day and teacher's job security, said the Star Tribune. The new contract to address these issues will be voted on by the members of the Chicago Teachers Union.


Analysis: Forgoing College to Pursue Dreams

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By Libby Ryan

Instead of using a hard news lead, the writer of a technology story for the New York Times chose to briefly describe a unique young woman choosing to opt out of college.

The short profile on Eden Full serves as a window into the story, drawing readers in where a factual lead might not. A factual lead simply would state what is happening in the current job market; the lead used in this story gives a face to the changes facing college students and young adults.

The story focuses around the choices college students are making and is supplemented by facts. A hard news lead would be better suited for a story focused on the facts that are making the students choose the paths they do.

The lead describes what a typical college student would be doing. It sets up a reader to expect the unexpected and draws them to read further. Then in the second paragraph, it lets the reader be surprised with the direction the story goes next.

Father, son fatal shooting at photo store

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By Libby Ryan

A Wisconsin man and his son died Saturday in a shooting at a La Crosse photography store.

The store's owner and his son were killed at 2 p.m. on Saturday but police were not called to the scene until after 5 p.m.

The Star Tribune reported Sunday that there were no suspects in custody. According to the Pioneer Press, police have not released information on possible suspects and are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Obama campaign launches efforts in battleground states

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By Libby Ryan

President Barack Obama launched a new campaign effort on Saturday in battleground states for the upcoming election.

The campaign introduced a 60 second television advertisement focused on the job creation, taxes and cutting the national deficit.

Obama's campaign spent about $6 million to buy airtime for the new ad in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, the key battleground states, reports the Huffington Post.

According to the New York Times, Mitt Romney's advantage over Obama when voters were asked who was most likely to restore the economy and create jobs has decreased.

Violent protests in response to anti-Islam video spread

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By Libby Ryan

Violent protests continue Middle East continue in response to anti-Islam video.

In Yemen hundreds of protesters attacked the American Embassy on Thursday. According to USA Today, demonstrators burned U.S. flags and some protesters were able to breach the security cordon.

At least five protesters were killed by Yemeni security forces as masses stormed the embassy, according to New York Times

The protests in Yemen accured two days after assailants killed four Americans in Libya, including the ambassador. Protests against the American-made film have continued outside the U.S embassy in Cairo for three days.

In Iran, hundreds of protesters chanted "Death to America" outside the Swiss Embassy that handles American interests in Iran.

Anti-American protests have also been reported in Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, and Bangladesh.

Teen gang member sentenced for sexual attack

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By Libby Ryan

A juvenile member of the Blood Brothers gang was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping other gang members rape a 14-year-old girl.

The crime occurred in November 2011 in Saint Paul.

Shaileng Lor, 17, pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct and aiding and abetting the commission of a crime for the benefit of a gang and was tried as an adult.

The Star Tribune reports that nine defendants have been charged in the case and four have pleaded guilty. According to the Pioneer Press, five of the defendants are adults and four are minors.

Xi Jinping Absent

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Xi Kinping Absent
By Libby Ryan

Xi Jinping, vice president of China and the expected successor to current President Hu Jintao, has not made any public appearances in the last week.

Xi has canceled multiple meetings with foreign dignitaries in the past week, including U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Government officials have not issued a statement giving an explanation for these actions.

On Monday, a scheduled photo session with Xi and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt failed to take place. According to the New York Times foreign journalists had been invited to cover the event.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry denied the meeting had ever been scheduled to take place.

The Star Tribune reports that Chinese micro-bloggers and overseas websites have come up with various speculations as to why Xi has been missing from the public's view, ranging from rumors of a heart attack to sports injuries. There has been no official statement made addressing any questions about Xi's health or location.

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