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September 28, 2008

Met Council to reconsider Northstar fares

The Metropolitan Council said Thursday that the proposed fares for the Northstar rail line are too low, the Pioneer Press reports.
The Met council canceled three public hearings on fairs and instead asked that more research be done.
The Star Tribune reports that the council wants fares to cover a higher portion of the operating fees for the line that will run approximately 40 miles from the northwest suburbs to downtown Minneapolis.
The proposed fees would have covered between 18 and 24 percent of the lines operating costs. Fares for other buses and railways in the Twin Cities cover about 35 percent of the operating cost, the Star Tribune reports.
Met Council Chairman Peter Bell told the Pioneer Press "We thought we should measure twice and cut once before we establish what the fares should be.? Once the hearings start, fares can not be raised.
University of Minnesota transit expert Frank Douma told the Pioneer Press that commuters would have to way the fare against a myriad of costs associated with driving, including gas, insurance and parking downtown.
He described the rail as “a pretty significant alternative that has never been there before.?

U.S. radar system set up in Israel

Israel has received an American made missile radar in another move meant to shore up its defenses against a possible Iranian attack, Reuters reports.
The X-band radar and its American operating crew were installed at a military base in southern Israel.
No official announcements have been made regarding the installation of the system, but the New York Times reports an official confirmed a report that the radar had been flown to Israel.
The radar provides increased defense against a possible Iranian attack for Israel and gives the United States the power to restrict Israel from taking independent military action against Iran, the New York Times reports.
Reuters reports one official as saying “"This is a major upgrade in bilateral preparations for the threats facing Israel.? When asked about specific threats, the official mentioned Iran and Syria.
The New York Times reports that there is growing concern in Israel about Iran's nuclear research.
Some media outlets in Israel are reporting that the radar is meant as compensation for the U.S. opposing preemptive Israeli action against Iran

September 27, 2008

Suit to be filed by injured RNC protester

A lawsuit alleging excessive force by police at the Republican National Convention was set in motion Friday the Pioneer Press reports.
Lawyers for Mick Kelly, 51 of Minneapolis, issued a notice of intent to file a lawsuit Friday, claiming that Kelly was falsely arrested and that his rights to free speech and freedom from excessive force were violated.
The Star Tribune reports that Kelly is claiming that he was struck at close range by a police fired projectile during a demonstration on Sept. 4. Kelly was then arrested and cited at a sit-in in St. Paul for presence at an unlawful assembly.
Kelly suffered a severe bruise and swelling on his stomach after being struck with the projectile, describing the experience to the Pioneer Press as “incredibly painful.?
The suit is asking for $250,000 in damages and could be filed in federal court as early as next week.
The Pioneer Press reports that this is the first lawsuit filed in relation to police action at the Republican National Convention.
The Star Tribune quotes St. Paul City Attorney John Choi as saying, “We are confident that all of the facts will support our police, that the police acted appropriately in this case.?

September 21, 2008

Attribution analysis

In the Reuters report on the car bombing attack in Yemen, the reporters choose to rely heavily on information from official government sources. In the first part of the story, the part containing the pertinent news information, the report uses about six sources. It relies mostly on statements from an unnamed, Yemeni Interior Ministry official. More information comes from U.S. government officials, namely two State Department spokesmen, both of whom are named and a quote from President Bush. The story also cites an unnamed group of Yemeni analysts and a statement from a group claiming responsibility for the attack. The attribution is spread evenly throughout the story, using the Yemeni official for specific details relating to the attack and then using the other U.S. sources to provide reaction. The attribution is introduced preceding some facts and following others. This allows the attribution to sit subtly within the article, lending credibility but not impeding the action and facts of the story.

Fans gather to bid farewell to Yankees Stadium

Baseball will be played for the last time in Yankees Stadium Sunday.
The New York Yankees will be leaving the 85-year-old stadium after this season to move into the new state-of-the-art stadium being built across the street, the Washington Post reports.
Fans started lining up outside the stadium fans began lining up early in the day for the chance to get on the field before the Yankees were scheduled to play their last home game against the Baltimore Orioles later that night.
Fans were also treated to a pregame ceremony in which Yankee greats both dead and alive were honored.
An additional 1600 security guards were on duty Sunday afternoon to help police the mayhem, the New York Times reports. The guards were also charged with ensuring fans didn't steal any pieces of the stadium for keepsakes.
After the season is over, the Yankees plan to auction off memorabilia from the stadium.
Asked about the closing of the stadium, Yankee's great Yogi Berra told the Washington Post, “I hate to see it go. It will always be in my heart.?

Motorcycle accident turns into murder investigation

What police first believed to be a motorcycle accident, they now think is a murder.
Natasha Waalen was found dead early Friday morning, from what appeared to be a motorcycle accident, the Star Tribune reported.
However, Waalen's investigators discovered that some of Waalen's injuries were not consistent with a motorcycle crash.
By Friday night, police had arrested Waalen's boyfriend, 33-year-old Ryan Boland, on suspicion of murder, the Pioneer Press reported.
As of Saturday night, Boland was still in custody awaiting charges and police had offered no motive.
Neighbors of the two were shocked by the allegations. Although some did note a little strife between the two, they all said they did not expect this tragedy.
One neighbor was quoted by the Star Tribune as saying “I hope they made a mistake, because I can't believe he did that.?

September 20, 2008

Government pitches record economic bailout

On Saturday, the Bush administration made its formal proposal to Congress that would allow the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in in mortgage assets, the New York Times reports.
The proposal would be the largest government backed financial bailout in U.S. history. It aims to transfer the bad debts of Wall Street to the American taxpayers.
This planned bailout would be the third major action taken by the U.S. government in hopes of shoring up the economy. The Washington Post reports that the government has already pledged $200 billion to rescue mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and $85 billion in loans to the major insurance company American International Group.
President Bush justified the action, citing the scale of the crisis. He was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “the risk of doing nothing far outweighs the risk of the package.?
Congressional committees began meeting immediately Saturday, with the New York Times anticipating the negotiations to be “complicated but quick.?
Although there is varying support across the board, Democratic leaders pledged to approve legislation quickly.

September 17, 2008

US embassy in Yemen target of car bombing

Two car bombs were detonated outside the U.S. embassy in Yemen Wednesday morning, leaving 16 dead, the New York Times reports.
The attack began at 9:15 a.m. when armed gun men opened fire on the checkpoint outside the embassy. Suicide bombers then drove through the checkpoint and detonated their bombs near the frnot gate.
No Americans were hurt during the attack. Of those killed, six were Yemeni guards, four were civilians outside the embassy and the other six were attackers.
It has yet to be determined who is behind the attack. “The U.S. State Department said the bombings bore 'all the hallmarks' of an al Qaeda attack,? Reuters reported. However, a group called Islamic Jihad in Yemen released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack.
President Bush said in a statement that the U.S. is “at war with extremists who will murder innocent people to achieve their ideological objectives.? (New York Times)
The United States and Yemen have a counter-terrorism partnership that was formed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the New York Times reported. However, there is some tension between the nations regarding Yemen's unusual detention policies.
This is the second attack on the U.S. embassy this year, Reuters reports. In March a mortar was fired at the embassy but missed and struck a nearby school.

September 14, 2008

Bruininks submits budget to Board of Regents

University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks unveiled his budget request plan to university Board of Regents Friday.
The Pioneer Press reports that the plan is asking for $141.2 million in new money from the state legislature over the next two years.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that there are three major cruxes to Bruininks request.
Bruininks is requesting $95 million for faculty and staff raises for the next two years. He is also asking for $16 million to put towards student scholarships. Bruininks especially hopes to assist students coming from middle-income backgrounds. Bruininks final major request is $30 million to further increase research at the university.
University regent Dean Johnson told MPR that he told Bruininks that “he faces an uphill battle in asking for an increase in funding, because the state faces tough economic times.?
The Board of Regents will vote in October whether or not to submit the plan to the legislature, and the legislature won't vote on spending until their spring session.
If Bruininks doesn't get all the funding he requests, students could face even higher tuition and the school deeper budget cuts.
Bruininks proposed plan already includes a 4.5 percent increase in tuition and $26 million in budget cuts, according to the Pioneer Press, but Bruininks cited those two areas as spots where more money could be raised if necessary.

Hostilities flair in Bolivia

The situation in Bolivia is still tense as opposition forces squared off against the government in the face of sweeping reforms.
Hostilities have escalated over the past week to the point where Bolivian President Evo Morales declared martial law Friday in the Pando province.
The BBC reports that the recent outbursts were sparked by “plans by President Morales to re-distribute the country's wealth and give a greater voice to the large indigenous community.?
In response to this plan, the opposition instituted road blocks throughout the country and violence flared up, especially in Pando.
The opposition to Morales stems predominantly from Bolivia's four resource rich lowland provinces. The Star Tribune reports that “the provinces are seeking greater autonomy from Morales' leftist government.? They hope to force Morales to cancel the December referendum that would help him centralize power and empower Bolivia's poor, indigenous majority.
The Star Tribune reports Bolivian Interior Minister Alfredo Rada estimated the death toll in Pando at around 30 people.
The Bolivian government is seeking the arrest of the Pando provincial Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez, who is accused of organizing an attack on pro-government peasants.
The BBC reports that “Fernandez has denied having anything to do with the deaths, insisting they were the result of clashes between rival groups.?
In hopes of bringing the situation to a peaceful and diplomatic end, the Union of South American Nations is holding an emergency summit in Chile Monday.
Morales is hoping to bring about an end to the violence without having to change his plans for the referendum.


September 12, 2008

Preparations made as Ike nears shore

The effects of Hurricane Ike are beginning to be felt by residents in Galveston, Texas, the AP reports.
Although the storm isn't expected to hit land until late Friday or early Saturday, the city of Galveston was being hit with waves as tall as 15 feet.
Galveston residents had already been ordered to evacuate or they would face, as the National Weather Service put it, “certain death.?
In anticipation of the potentially devastating hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had already begun moving in millions of meals ready to eat into Texas.
The Houston Chronicle reports that “FEMA is anticipating that about 100,00 homes will be flooded and as many as several million people could be without power.?
The Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that “this is pretty much a worse-case scenario for flooding the Gulf Coast area.?
“Hurricane warnings were in effect over a 400-mile stretch of coastline from south of Corpus Christi to Morgan City, La.,? the AP reports. Houston is in Ike's potential path, although citizens there have been told not to evacuate.
The last time a major hurricane hit this Galveston and Houston was in 1983, when Hurricane Alicia caused $2 billion in damage.

Rybak calls for RNC review

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced a plan Thursday that will review the impact the Republican National convention had on the cities various law enforcement agencies the Star Tribune reported.
Rybak described the convention as a success overall but is pushing for closer reviews of several matters.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that Rybak “wants the police department to conduct an 'After Action Review' which will focus on events in Minneapolis.?
The Star Tribune reports that police will also be reviewing the strategies used during the convention to determine which were most effective and then recommend any necessary policy changes.
The Minneapolis Police Department will also be working with the independent St. Paul investigation into similar matters.
Other city institutions involved in the review will be the City Attorney's office and the civil rights department.
The City Attorney's office will be analyzing the way arrests and citations were handled. It will also be analyzing the economic impact the convention had on the justice system.
Rybak told MPR, “We also want to keep our eyes on the cost within the criminal justice system, which, frankly, I don't feel we anticipated enough.?
The civil rights department will be compiling and reviewing any complaints related to the convention. However, Rybak told MPR that there have not been any complaints filed.