February 2012 Archives

The United States discussed conditions for food aid with North Korea during a meeting on Thursday.

According to the BBC, the conditions for U.S. food aid included talks on ending North Korea's nuclear program. This policy contradicts official U.S. policy where the provision of food aid is separate from the issue of North Korea's nuclear program, according to the BBC.

North Korea relies mostly on international aid to feed its people.

The BBC wrote that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were asked to leave Yongbyon (a reactor plant) in 2009 when denuclearization talks between North Korea, China, the U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan broke down.

According to Fox News, this is the first meeting where nuclear issues were brought up since the death of North Korea's last leader, Kim Jong-Il, last December. His successor, Kim Jong-Un, seem to be following the footsteps of the late leader's aggressive nuclear policies, reported Fox News.

Dayton's vetom looms over Castle Bill

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Gov. Mark Dayton will not veto the Castle Bill, a bill that would essentially broaden gun rights by extending justification for self-defense, immediately.

Accordiing to the Star Tribune, Dayton said that he will wait three days after it has been passed to talk to both side and think about it.

Minnesota's Republican- majority senate voted 40-23 to pass this bill Thursday, according to Minnpost.

This bill would allow gun owners to defend themselves with a gun if they perceive bodily harm. It does not require them to retreat first and it immunes defenders from criminal prosecution, according to Minnpost. Minnpost puts it as, "defend first, ask questions later."

According to the Star Tribune, this bill is supported by the National Rifle Association and opposed by law-enforcement.


China will repatriate "hundreds" of North Korean refugees

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Hundreds of North Korean defectors will be repatriated after being arrested in various parts of China, rights activists say.

Kim Hoe-tae of Solidarity for North Korean Human Rights told the Chosun Ilbo, "Some 220 defectors have been interrogated by regional security departments in China and are being held at about 10 detention centers near the North Korea-China border. They'll be sent back to the North one by one."

Former unification deputy minister Kim Suk-woo also told the Chosun Ilbo that "China has repatriated about 5,000 defectors to the North every year under an agreement on the extradition of fugitives and criminals it concluded with the North in the 1960s."

According to DailyNK, China views defectors as illegal border-crossers motivated by economic gain and not refugees. This is why China claims that it is not bound by its obligations under international conventions on refugees and against torture and can repatriate them.

There is also a growing number of pleas from China's own internet sphere to consider the plight of the refugees from a humanitarian point of view, reported DailyNK. On Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, photos and commentaries regarding protests against repatriations held outside the Chinese embassy in Seoul, and other related news, are being steadily uploaded, commented upon and re-tweeted, according to the DailyNK.

Santorum popular among evangelicals and catholics

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Rick Santorum's success in the Republican presidential primaries has a lot to do with his appeal with to evangelicals and catholics.

According to the Seattle Times, some prominent evangelical leaders had gathered in Texas to discuss backing a 2012 GOP candidate. Santorum was their choice.

Santorum is now running almost even with Mitt Romney. According to surveys by the Pew Research Center's Forum of Religion and Public Life, Santorum had doubled his support from white evangelical Republicans from 22 percent last month to 41 percent two weeks ago. Also, an Associated Press survey found that White Catholics also preferred Santorum to Romney, 38 percent to 29 percent.

According to the Seattle Times, his concerns that appeal to the conservatives include promoting traditional roles for women and opposing gay marriage and abortion.

According to MLive, Santorum has vowed to not allow federal dollars to fund abortion, stem cell research and Planned Parenthood.

Minnesotan snowmobiler dies in crash

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A snowmobiler died after crashing into trees on a trail in northeastern Minnesota.

According to the Star Tribune, the 45-year-old man was on Bill Morgan Trail near Orr, and suffered severe head injuries in the accident after crashing into trees on 6.30 p.m. Saturday, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said.

Emergency crews tried to revive him but he died at the scene, according to the Pioneer Press. The victim's name was not released.

Plymouth woman found dead in the hot tub

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A 52-year-old woman from Nisswa, Minn., was found dead in a hot tub on Saturday night.

According to the Star Tribune, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office reported that Kari Dayton died accidentally as a result of drowning in the outdoor hot tub at 7:39 p.m. Saturday.

Dayton, a Nisswa, Minn. resident, was visiting relatives in the 17000 block of 24th Avenue North in Plymouth, the Hennepin County sheriff's office said, according to the Pioness Press

Police are still investigating.

North Korea vows retaliation

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has ordered the military to launch a powerful retaliatory strike if provoked by South Korea, the North's state-run media reported on Sunday.

According to the New York Times, Kim's statement to the military was issued during his visit to the southern coast of North Korea that faces a string of islands manned by South Korea's marines. This order was given a day before South Korea and the United State's scheduled joint military exercises.

The United States claim that these exercises are meant to deter aggresion from North Korea while North Korea believes that these exercise are a "provocation that necessitate its nuclear program," reports the New York Times.

According to Mercury News, North Korea's fiery response to the joint exercises has not changed from that of former leader Kim Jong Il, who died in December. Analysts told Mercury news that his youngest son has continued his father's brash approach to the outside world in order to rally support for the nation's leaders.

3 skiers killed in avalanche

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Three skiers were killed and one was saved by a safety device in an avalanche near a popular ski resort in Washington state.

The four were among a group of about a dozen skiers who were on Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains.

"All were buried to some extent, but the men who died were swept approximately 1,500 feet down a chute in the Tunnel Creek Canyon area," King County Sheriff's Sgt. Katie Larson said to the Washington Times.

Larson also told CNN that all the skiers were experienced and had avalanche safety equipment.

Deputy Chris Bedker with the King County Sheriff's Office also told CNN that the skiers were in a designated out-of-bounds area, but it was not closed and they were allowed to be there.

Human rights groups slam "indulgent" treatment of China

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Trade and security issues topped Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's talks in the United States this week, but a wide range of concerns about human rights were raised during the visit as well.

Xi Jin Ping, China's presumed next leader, talked to President Obama on his trip to the United States while there were protests for China's human rights situation outside the White House.

Alim Seytoff from the Uighur American Association told the Voice of America,
"Our hope is that when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, they would raise human rights issues, specifically the case of Uighur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists. In addition to the Chinese dissidents and lawyers who have been locked up and disappeared."

Amnesty International has also told the Irish Examiner that they have urged the Irish government to bring up China's human rights violations when Xi visited Ireland after his visit to the United States.

According to the Voice of America, Xi defended China's human rights record during the White House visit. He said that China making progress at its own pace, but that position fell on deaf ears outside

South Korean troops began a live-fire artillery exercise on islands on the disputed sea border with North Korea Monday despite of threats from the North of "merciless" retaliation, officials said.

The South Korean defense ministry said that the drills started at 10 a.m. and lasted for two hours. About 1,400 residents of those islands were asked to stay in shelters during the drill, according to Sin Chew Daily.

The North was notified of the scheduled exercise at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Sunday, where the North in turn its military vowed "merciless retaliatory strikes" if any shells land in waters claimed by Pyongyang.

According to the BBC, the drills took place islands where four South Koreans were killed in 2010 because of a North Korean artillery attack.

Tensions are high between North and South Korea, who are still technically at war, especially since North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il passed away two months ago.


Teen died from train-hopping

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A 15-year-old boy was found dead near some train tracks in Northeast Minneapolis.

Christopher Hanson was warned by his mother the night before that hopping off and on freight trains behind their house was dangerous. However, the day after, his body was found at about 10.20 p.m. Thursday by a rail worker, according to the Pioneer Press. He had been train-hopping with his friends again.

According to the Pioneer Press, the medical examiner said that Hanson died of "multiple blunt-force craniocerebral injuries".

The Star Tribune wrote that Chris' last conversation with his mother, Melissa Standal, was just 20 minutes before the railroad worker found his body. He had called to ask if she could give his friends rides back home.

Standal told the Star Tribune that she hopes other teens will learn from her son's story and that her son's death might save lives.

The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments from a case that started from a simple Facebook update Wednesday.

Amanda Tatro, who was a mortuary science student of the University of Minnesota in 2009, was defending her free-speech rights. Some of her Facebook statuses had caused some of her professors to feel threatened, according to the Minnesota Daily.

She had wrote on Facebook that she wanted to use an embalming tool "to stab a certain someone in the throat," and was updating her "death list," according to the Star Tribune.

After a student reported her post to a university professor, a police investigation was called and her grade was changed to failing. Tatro was also forced to take a psychological examination.

The University defended its right to discipline, while Tatro claimed that the school violated her First Amendment free speech rights.

The results from the Supreme Court judges have not not been released yet.

Structure: Romney wins chance to reset status

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I felt that this article was structured very well. The lead only talks about Mitt Romney and his win in Maine this past Saturday. It also mentioned that it was a significant victory for him and his campaign.

Then in the second paragraph, it brings up Ron Paul and how he had tried very hard to rally in Maine. This brings to light the significance of Maine and shows Romney's upperhand in Maine compared to Paul.

The third paragraph then tells me the exact numbers of the caucus.

As you go through this relatively wordy and fact-packed article about Romney's win, it gives you more and more details about why this win is significant to his campaign and the competition between Romney and Paul.

This article gives me the whole picture of what is going in chunks of facts and analysis of the situation. It is clear and not confusing at all.

The link to the article is here.

Gov. Mark Dayton on social equity

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Gov. Mark Dayton reported to a church coalition Sunday that he pledged to work with that social equity is still a priority.

The governor spoke to more than 600 civic and faith leaders from 100 congregations who make up the ISAIAH coalition. They gathered in the auditorium of Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul.

According to the Star Tribune, Dayton said that economic concerns such as stagnant real income and unemployment are hurting the communities.

According to the Pioneer Press, Dayton mentioned his proposals to increase taxes for the wealthiest Minnesotans by saying that "while average incomes have dropped, the wealthiest 1 percent of citizens have been increasing their share to 18 percent of the country's assets."

The whole point of this rally was to celebrate the partnership between the Dayton administration and ISAIAH.

Fund is set up for a family of 7-year-old who was killed

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A fund was created to help the family of 7-year-old Hayden Solien who was killed by a car that ran a red light Friday in Montrose.

According to Star Tribune, he was waiting for his school bus on Friday morning when a car that ran a red light hit him.

The Pioneer Press reported that he died that morning.

Hayden's mother described him as a "perfect kid." He was a second-grader at Parkside Elementary in Buffalo.

The driver of the car also died in the crash. Authorities identified him as 47-year-old Robert Mercier of Arlington.

Donations can go to the Hayden Solien Benefit Fund at Citizens State banks at 115 Nelson Blvd., Montrose, MN 55363 or 609 Pacific Av., P.O. Box 68, Waverly, MN 55390.

Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign in Myanmar

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Opposition lead and ex-political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign is drawing mass Burmese popularity.

According to NPR, just one year ago, Aung San See Kyi, a Nobel Prize laureate and pro democracy activist was under house arrest. Now, she is gearing up for for a highly anticipated parliamentary elections on April 1st.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi told a crowd estimated at more than 40,000 in Pathein that if elected to parliament she would help "make changes in the constitution, to have the rule of law and to work for internal peace."

Her party, National League for Democracy (NLD), is contesting 48 seats in the upcoming by-elections.

After some recent amnesty moves in what looks like a reforming government regime, such as the freeing of hundreds of long-detained political prisoners, the Myanmar government is anticipating on what her and her party will accomplish.

Whitney Houston dies at 48

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Whitney Houston, iconic pop superstar, died in Beverly Hills, Calif. at the age of 48.

According to the New York Times
, Houston was staying at the Beverly Hilton hotel and was going to attend a pre-Grammy party hosted by her mentor, Clive Davis. She was found in her room at 3.55 p.m., and paramedics tried to revive her for 20 minutes.

Many stars have expressed their shock on Saturday night during pre- Grammy festivities in Los Angeles. Simon Cowell told CNN that Houston was a benchmark.

Houston achieved success during the 1980s into the 1990s with her three octave voice span. She then deteriorated through many years of marijuana and cocaine addiction.

She is survived by her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

Arab League seeks U.N. peacekeeping mission in Syria

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The Arab League has asked the United Nations Security Council to send peacekeeping forces to Syria on Sunday to end the violence there.

Foreign leaders of the league are trying to find new ways to end what seems to be an escalating civil war. According to the New York Times, this motion will ask for the Security Council to lead in exercising a cease-fire and to end all diplomatic relations with the Syrian government.

This proposal came right after a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria was vetoed last week by China and Russia.

Activists told CNN that shelling has been rampant, medical supplies are low and people are waiting to die. The Syrian Red Cross had tried to send much needed medical supplies but their truck was attacked and they had to leave the area.

The Arab League is asking the United Nations to make a decision "as soon as possible", but Syria has already sternly indicated many times that they are against the league's actions.

This article was filled with emotionally charged quotes like, "disgusted" and "appalled."

The quotes were scattered throughout the article. First, there was a quote by the United States U.N. ambassador:

"Those that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully ... will have any future blood spill on their hands," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN. "The people of Syria have yet again been abandoned by this Council and by the international community."

This quote really set the emotion and the stand of the article. It portrays a negative image upon the countries who vetoed the motion and that the security council has let Syria down.

Then, there was information of the number of deaths in Syria from opposition groups and activists. But since those were not confirmed numbers, the writer wrote a disclaimer after he attributed the information to them:

"CNN cannot independently confirm opposition or government reports from Syria because the government has restricted journalists' access to the country."

Finally, the writer quoted other ambassadors from other countries to tie up the article.

The quotes were not confusing at all. In fact, they were very effective in bringing emotions that were felt in that room to the readers.

The link to the article is here: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/04/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Job Report a Good Thing for Obama

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A job report released on Friday is good news for President Obama.

David Lauter who write for the Los Angeles Times wrote that if President Obama gets reelected this November, this job report will be remembered as the turning point for his campaign.

Employment rose by 243,000 jobs and the unemployment rate edged down to 8.3% from 8.5%. Furthermore, most of the jobs were created in the private sector.

This might undermine Mitt Romney, who has been using the dipping economy and high unemployment rate as the heart of his campaign and has been repeated saying that Obama has "failed" in trying to create new jobs in the private sector.

President Obama's term did have a positive outcome even though he had to face a republican- majority congress, deal with health-care and not forgetting major foreign issues like China, Syria and the European Union's debt crisis. Meanwhile Mitt Romney, who is being heavily funded by multi-millionaires and billionaires, made comments that "the poor" is not of his concern. Who are you going to vote for this fall?

To watch the breakdown of the job report: http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/02/03/ym-swonk-jobs-report.cnn?iref=allsearch

More violence in Tibet as China continues crackdown

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Angry Tibetans react against Chinese security forces after watching them beat up a Tibetan protester who self-immolated.

A London-based International Campaign for Tibet told Star Tribune that local residents came together in an impromptu-protest after seeing police severely beat up the man who set himself on fire as they put out the flames.

One woman was shot in the unrest.

According to the New York Times, at least 16 monks and Tibetan have self-immolated in the past year, including four people the past week, as desperate acts of protest against Chinese rule in Tibet and for the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The protests are also aimed in spreading awareness of their plight and gaining international sympathy.

The Chinese government blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest and accused him of orchestrating these protests.

Mr. Qi, the powerful Communist Party chief in Lhasa, said to the New York Times, "we must strike hard at all the separatist, destructive and criminal activities of the Dalai clique."

Headphone Parties in India

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silent-noise-main.jpg

At these huge headphone parties, everyone is dancing to three different DJ booths all playing different music but there is not a sound to be heard.

These outdoor parties organized by Silent Noise was the solution to Goa's 10 P.M noise pollution ban. Party attendees can dance all night long without disturbing nearby residential areas.

According to CNN Go, the headphone party concept is not a new one. It has been very popular in big European music festivals for many years already.

Party attendees can listen to their choice of DJ by switching the channels on their headphones. Friends talk to each other just by taking off their headphones and using a comfortable speaking volume. People break the ice with each other by exchanging their favorite channels and literally pushing buttons on another person's headphones.

The party can go on through the night without disturbing sleeping neighbors. This concept is becoming so popular that there are headphone parties held in Mumbai, Goa and Bangalore regularly.

Lama reincarnation in Minnesota

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jalue dorjee

A 5- year- old Tibetan boy is believed to be a reincarnation of a spiritual guru.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that Jalue Dorjee who lives in Columbia Heights with his family is a reincarnation of the speech, mind and body of a lama, a spiritual guru, who passed away in Switzerland six years ago. Jalue is said to be the eighth appearance of the original lama, born in 1655.

In another five years when Jalue is 10- years-old, he will have to leave his home to study in a monastery in India. As for now, he will memorize Buddhist scripture with his father.

Jalue's mother told the Portland Press Herald that from the time she was pregnant, she knew that there was something special about the child. She carried her pregnancy with ease and would have special symbolic dreams.

Julae's parents know that their time with their only son is limited, but they have to let him go and be true to their faith.

Click here to go to the video.

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