March 2012 Archives

Japan reactor worse off than thought

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An internal investigation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant showed that one of the nuclear reactors damage may be worse than originally thought, according to the New York Times.

The findings raised concerns over the stability of the plant and make clean up efforts complicated, according to the Associated Press.

The plant's three reactors were damaged when a powerful earthquake and tsunami ravaged the Tokyo Electric Power Company's power plant in March 2011, according to the AP.

The company announced that the water level in the No. 2 reactor was far below than what it was estimated to be. This raised concerns that the damaged uranium might not be completely submerged and could heat up again, the New York Times reported.

The investigation also found that radiation levels were at 72.1 Sieverts inside the containment vessel, which is enough to kill someone in a matter of minutes, according to the AP.

The high levels of radiation could complicate work to find and remove the damaged uranium, according to the New York Times.

The reactors 1 and 3 could be even worse condition than reactor 2, because hydrogen explosions blew out the outer walls of those reactors, according to the AP.

The plant could run the risk of another large radiation leak should arise with cooling the fuel, reported the AP.

Gay pastor to lead ELCA church

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An Atlanta Pastor who was ousted from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for being openly gay will now lead the largest Lutheran church in St. Paul, according to the Star Tribune.

On Sunday, 92 percent of the the attending members of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church's 2,300-member congregation voted Bradley Schmeling, 49, to be their new pastor come June, reported the Pioneer Press.

Schmeling was lead pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta since 2000, according to the Star Tribune.

Schmeling was suspended from the ELCA's clergy roster in 2007, but was reinstated three years later after the church began to allow people in gay and lesbian relationships to be clergy members, reported the Pioneer Press.

Schmeling was removed after he announced he was in a same-sex relationship with Pastor Darin Easler, according to the Star Tribune.

Even though he was not on the clergy roster, St. John's chose to keep Schmeling as their pastor, said the Star Tribune.

In 2009, delegates of the ELCA's national assembly voted 559-451to allow men and women in lifelong same-sex relationships to be official ministers, according to the Pioneer Press.

The vote created a schism and caused a small fraction of church members to break away and form their own churches, the Pioneer Press reported.

Gloria Dei is now considered the largest Lutheran church in the nation with an openly gay man, in a relationship, as their senior pastor, according to the Star Tribune.

New ACT and SAT security measures.

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Students taking the SAT or ACT this fall will be required to submit photo IDs with their applications after a cheating scandal in several high schools in New York's Long Island, reported the Associated Press.

The security change is one of many announced Tuesday after a cheating scandal where high-scoring students used fake IDs to take the entrance exams for other students. 20 teenagers were arrested were arrested last fall, five of them were accused of taking the test for others and the other 15 were accused of paying them $500 to $3600 to take the test, reported the New York Times.

The new rules will be applied nationwide and will take place next fall, according to the New York Times.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the previous security measures were too lax. She was also upset when she learned that a male student had taken the test for a female, reported the AP.

The new rules make students upload a photograph of themselves when they register for the ACT or SAT. Then an admission ticket into the testing site, with the photo, will be mailed to the student according to the AP.

Another new rule is a test-taker must list their high school when they sign up. This means the high school will receive the student's score as well as the uploaded photo, reported the New York Times.

Standby test registration where student's could sign up for the test on the day of the exam will be eliminated, reported the New York Times.


University of Minnesota graduate assistants voted down a move that would have unionized them, the fourth since 1990, according to the Pioneer Press.

The university says that about 68 percent of about 4,400 eligible graduate student workers at both the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses voted no last week, reported the Pioneer Press.

The results were released Monday with 1,857 against forming a union and 1,142 for a union, according to the Star Tribune.

The union would have allowed graduate assistants to negotiate working conditions with a level playing field, said the Pioneer Press.

The push to form a union was helped by the United Auto Workers of America, said the Star Tribune.

The university strongly opposed the unionization of the graduate assistants. University President Eric Kaler said that the current practice of working out employment terms between the assistants and their departments has worked well, reported the Pioneer Press.

About 25 campuses around the nation have recognized graduate assistant unions, reported the Pioneer Press.

Obits Analysis

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The New York Times did an obit on John Payton, a lawyer who fought for civil rights.

The obituary has a standard obit lead for Payton. It gives what he did, when he died, where he died, and how old he was. This lead works because he did not die in any unusual way. In fact, the cause of death was unknown.

The obit uses the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and President Barack Obama as sources. Both of the sources were used for quotes on Payton.

This obit gives a lot about what Payton did for his profession and how accomplished he was as a lawyer. It talks about awards he received and cases he won. In that aspect it really is not that different from a resume.

This obit really does not differ from a resume at all. I am essentially only told where he went to college, and how successful of a lawyer he was. There is nothing that tells me what type of person Payton was outside of his job as a civil rights lawyer.

There is not a small special quality about him that comes through the story at all.

Overall this is a very standard obituary without anything special or flashy about it. It just tells the information of why Payton's death is important.

Obama speaks on Trayvon Martin killing

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President Obama spoke on personal terms Friday about how the shooting of a Florida 17-year-old had affected him, reported the New York Times.

Obama said, "if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," according to the Associated Press.

Trayvon Martin was shot Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. by a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he was acting in self-defense, reported the AP.

Martin was unarmed, and was carrying an iced tea and a pack of Skittles when George Zimmerman shot him. Zimmerman claimed self-defense, which has prompted outrage over Florida's Stand Your Ground law, reported the New York Times.

Obama was asked his opinion about the case during the announcement of his nominee for president of the World Bank, according to the New York Times.

Obama expressed sympathy for Martin's parents and said that they are going to get to the bottom of what happened, said the New York Times.

Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton thanked Obama for his support, reported the AP.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich weighed in on the issue saying the incident was tragic and that there needs to be a thorough investigation of what happened, reported the New York Times.

Obama has been careful to weigh in on racial politics after he called the actions of a white officer arresting a black Harvard professor stupid in 2009. The president eventually had the officer and professor over to the White House to talk about the matter over beers, reported the New York Times.


Tartan senior cannot take porn star to prom.

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Tartan senior Mike Stone will not be able to attend his high school prom with his porn star date after the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District would not allow his dates, according to the Huffington Post.

Instead Stone is considering creating a competing "porn prom" that would be at a hotel a few blocks away from the Landmark Center in St. Paul where Tartan's prom is being held, reported the Pioneer Press.

Stone has never been to a prom, and when he did not have a date he sent out 600 tweets to celebrities, most of them were porn stars, said the Pioneer Press.

Megan Piper and Emy Reyes, both porn stars, accepted the invitation as long as Stone paid for the airfare, said the Pioneer Press.

However, the school district has the right to ban any person to a school sponsored event if "the visit is not in the best interests of the students," or if it disrupts the orderly operations of the school activity, according to the Huffington Post.

Stone has become a legend at Tartan High School where the students chant his name in the hallways. They are saying this is the best thing to ever happen to the school, reported the Pioneer Press.

Piper, 19, was not able to attend her own prom because she moved from Georgia to Kansas her senior year. She said that she was disappointed, but understood the school district was acting in the interest of the children, said the Huffington Post.

Tartan's prom will be held May 12 at the Landmark Center, reported the Huffingon Post.

Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for one year

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New Orleans Saints head football coach was suspended without pay for the entire 2012 football season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday, reported ESPN.com.

Payton was suspended for his participation in a bounty program where the Saints paid their players to deliberately injure opposing players, reported sportsillustrated.com.

This is the first time the NFL has suspended a head coach, according to ESPN.com.

Other people receiving suspensions were former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis, eight games, and assistant coach Joe Vitt, six games, according to sportsillustrated.com

The Saints organization must also pay a $500,000 fine and will forfeit second-round draft picks in 2012 and '13, said sportsilustrated.com.

Payton's season long suspension will cost him $7.5 million, according to ESPN.com. Payton also had incentives that could have boosted his salary during the season.

The NFL said 22 to 27 defensive players were involved in the bounty and targets included quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner, according to ESPN.com.

Goodell made all owners make sure that none of their teams had bounty systems going on now. Also each teams owner and head coach must certify in writing that no pay-for-performance system exists by March 30, according to ESPN.com

Gunman may have filmed shooting at French school

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French police searched for a gunman Tuesday who killed four people at a Jewish school and may have filmed his attack, reported the Associated Press.

One rabbi, two young boys, and a girl were killed in the shooting, reported the AP.

Claude Gueant told a French radio station that surveillance footage from the school showed what appeared to be a video camera strapped to the gunman's chest, said the New York Times.

This attack is believed to be done by the same person who attacked two paratroopers on separate occasions. The same .45-caliber automatic pistol was used in all three shootings, according to the New York Times.

The school shooting happened Monday when the gunman first gunned down the rabbi and his two sons, then chased down the girl and killed her at point blank range, said the AP.

After the attack France's terror level was raised to "scarlet." It is the highest level since the system was created in 2003, reported the AP.

The bodies of at least three of the four victims were to be flown to Israel for burials, reported the New York Times.


Shots fired at Inver Grove Heights Police Officers

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A man will appear in court March 20 after he was accused of firing multiple shots at Inver Grove Heights police from a parked vehicle on Sunday, reported the Pioneer Press.

Officers were called to 77th Street and River Road early Sunday morning on a report of gun shots. When the officers approached the car one or two shots were fired, and then the car sped away, reported the Star Tribune.

No one was hurt and neither officer fired any shots reported the Star Tribune.

Justin Thadeaus Amick, 39, and a 47-year-old woman were arrested within an hour, reported the Pioneer Press. The woman was later released, according to the Pioneer Press.

Amick was being held on $14,000 bail Monday night on suspicion of three felonies, use of deadly force with a weapon, attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, and illegal possession of a gun, according to the Pioneer Press.

Ricky Rubio out for season

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Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio's season ended after he suffered a torn ACL in Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, reported ESPN.com.

Rubio went to go help guard Laker Kobe Bryant in the final seconds of the game when his knee buckled underneath him. Rubio fell to the floor clutching his knee and shin, reported the Star Tribune.

The Timberwolves are chasing a playoff berth and now must continue without one of the stars that had lead to their resurgence, said ESPN.com

Rehabilitation for an ACL tear usually takes six to nine months, which means Rubio will miss the Summer Olympics in London, said the Star Tribune.

NBA stars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and others took to Twitter to express their support for Rubio, said ESPN.com.

In his first season with the Wolves Rubio was averagin 10.6 points and 8.2 assists per game, said ESPN.com.

Rubio said he he will back soon and stronger and that the only thing to do now is to move forward and stay positive, reported the Star Tribune.

A judge ruled Friday that there was enough evidence for Amy Senser to stand trial next month in her fatal hit-and-run accident, according to the Pioneer Press.

Senser's lawyer asked for the trial to be moved to Kandiyohi County after a series of online comments told Senser to "fry" and "rot in hell," reported the Star Tribune.

The lawyer wants to move 88 miles west of Minneapolis to Willmar, because he believes it would be impossible for Senser to receive a fair trial in Hennepin County, said the Pioneer Press.

Senser's next court appearance will be April 16. The trial is set to begin April 23, according to the Star Tribune.

Senser is charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter after Anousone Phanthavong, 38, died after a hit-and-run Aug. 23. Senser has admitted to being the driver of the Mercedes that killed Phanthavong, reported the Star Tribune.

Senser's defense against the hit-and-run is she did not know that she hit anybody, according to the Pioneer Press.

Solar blast could effect Earth

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A geomagnetic storm is expected to hit Earth Thursday night that is strong enough to cause a radio blackout and could affect electrical grids, communication links, and satellite navigation systems, reported msnbc.com.

The sun unleashed an outburst of flares at 7:24 p.m. ET Tuesday which has been its biggest flare in its current activity cycle. The flare was an X5.4 class outburst. X is the most powerful category for solar flares, according to msnbc.com

The flare could also cause the Northern Lights to be visible in Minnesota and Wisconsin around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night, reported the Pioneer Press.

However something more serious could happen. The geometric storm that is coming is predicted to reach G3 level which could trigger alarms on electrical power systems and cause problems for GPS navigation services, reported msnbc.com.

Some airlines have rerouted their flights so they do not fly too close to the poles and risk interference from the storm, according to msnbc.com.

Nevertheless the storm could put on a show for sky-gazers. Skies are expected to be cloudy Wednesday night, and there is a full moon which makes it more difficult to see the Northern Lights, according to the Pioneer Press.

People should also keep an eye out for the lights on Thursday night, said the Pioneer Press.

Experts at the Space Weather Prediction Center said the flare will give a glancing blow rather than a direct hit to Earth, reported msnbc.com

St. Paul man charged with killing girlfriend

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A 26-year-old St. Paul man was charged with killing his 32-year-old girlfriend after police found the woman's body beaten and bloodied in the man's home over the weekend, reported the Star Tribune.

Brent L. Lynch is accused of killing Carolyn M. Leete Saturday in his home in the 800 block of W. Minnehaha Avenue, according to the Star Tribune.

Lynch told a neighbor that Leete was drunk on Saturday and he was trying to help her upstairs. Lynch said he tried to throw her on the bed when she missed and hit her head. He also said the blood in the house all came from her nose, reported the Pioneer Press.

The Ramsey County medical examiner said Leete had less than a .04 blood-alcohol concentration at the time of her death. The medical examiner said Leete had injuries to the back of her head, cuts on her lips, fractured nasal bones, and a fractured rib, according to the Pioneer Press.

The couple had been dating for two to three years, reported the Pioneer Press.

Lynch has four other felony convictions involving other women including terroristic threats and third-degree assault, according to the Star Tribune.

Controversy in Putin election

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Thousands of Russians were upset Monday in response to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's victory in Russia's presidential election because of issues with the election being heavily slated in Putin's favor, reported the Associated Press.

Putin won a new six-year term as President Sunday when he won 63.75 percent of the vote, said The New York Times. Putin has already served eight years as president and four years as prime minister, according to The New York Times.

The election caused many Russians to protest and rally Monday. They called for an end to Putin's 12-year rule, said the AP.

The European observers of the election said Putin's challengers were at a disadvantage during the campaign process. They said the opposition was unable to acquire a fair amount of television time or attention, said The New York Times.

Putin was constantly featured on television, and even wrote seven manifestos about his position on various issues that were published on the front pages of seven of Russia's most prominent newspapers, said The New York Times.

There were also concerns of ballot stuffing and voter fraud, said The New York Times.

100 protesters were arrested in St. Petersburg where about 2,000 had gathered to show their disapproval of the election. Many were calling for new elections, and shaming Putin, according to the AP.

Meeting Analysis

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The New York Times reported on a speech given by President Barack Obama to a pro-Israel lobbying group Sunday.

The reporter found the most important element to the speech was Obama's defense of his administration's commitment to Israeli security. The reporter also said Obama used the speech to address critics of the administration.

The second paragraph of the story does not back up the lead with a quote, but the reporter chose to give context to the speech and reiterate what the president was talking about.

The story then gives its first quote from the speech. I thought it was interesting the reporter chose to incorporate where Obama was giving the speech with the quote rather than having a separate paragraph for more context.

The story had a lot of paraphrasing from the speech with few verbatim quotes used for support. Perhaps it was a lengthy speech and the best way to describe the message was to simply give a brief description of what Obama said.

The reporter also described how the audience reacted, and the type of speech it was briefly. The reporter called the speech defensive at times.

In order for the reader to understand the speech more the story provides a lot of background on the issue. It tells the reader why Obama has been criticized in the past about Israeli security as well as why Israeli security is importan.

The story also talks about future meetings the president has with the prime minister of Israel. This story does not focus so much on the speech, but the issue the speech was addressing. There is a significant amount of details on why the speech was given in the first place. The actual event of the speech took a back seat to the issues in the second half of the story.

Giving the background information on Iran and Israel allows for a better understanding of why this story is important. Just reporting on the speech would not provide enough context to the speech. Reader's would be lost if that information was not provided for them.

The story ends with a long quote from Obama about his policy of sending military forces into Iran, which is a deep concern for Israel's safety.


Syrian government blocks aid

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Syrian forces launched attacks on the city of Homs Saturday as the Red Cross tried to deliver aid to thousands of people stranded in besieged neighborhoods despite warnings from troops of booby traps, reported USA Today.

Syrians have recently fled to Turkey as intensifying military operations started in the city of Hama, said the New York Times.

A local resident said the attacks have become routine in the area. They also said the district has been without water and heating fuel for a week, according to USA Today. The resident also said they have been collecting rain and melting snow for water.

The Red Cross said the regime blocked them from entering the town of Baba Amr on Friday after they received permission to enter the country, said USA Today.

Syrians said they were not allowing the Red Cross access to the country because of safety concerns, said USA Today.

A Red Cross spokesman told the Associated Press they were still in negotiations to enter Baba Amr and they were not about to give up on the mission, reported the New York Times.

Syria has had a string of suicide bombings the last being Feb. 10 when 28 people were killed in the city of Aleppo, said USA Today.

Many outraged parents and teachers questioned the Burnsville school board Thursday about why they decided to pay a former employee $250,000 to leave, reported the Star Tribune.

More than 150 residents packed into the Diamondhead Head Education Center to voice their opinion on the $250,000 payment to Tania Chance who was the district's former human-resources director, said the Pioneer Press.

The parents and teachers wanted to know why the school board asked Chance to resign just seven months into a new two-year contract. They also demanded several board members step down, said the Pioneer Press.

The issue has spilled over to Legislature where Rep. Pam Myhra will introduce a bill which will require agencies to disclose reasons for any payments over $10,000, according to the Star Tribune.

Both periodicals reported that many of the questions asked during the listening session were left unanswered. The Pioneer Press reported the head of the school board Ron Hill will try to respond to the questions in the future.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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