Anaylsis: Data

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On the ESPN-affiliated Minnesota Timberwolves blog, "A Wolf Among Wolves," staff writer Zach Harper uses a handful of different data sets and graphics for his story about the Wolves' 3-point-shooting. In sports, in-depth analytical writers have more-so recently began using these intricate data sets in their stories to present an argument. This change comes along with what has been somewhat a statistical and analytical revolution for all sports, especially basketball.

In Harper's story, his goal is to present how poorly the Minnesota Timberwolves have shot from behind the 3-point line this season and how the team's shooting rates will only go up as the season goes on. First, he uses a scatter plot to show the percentages of how each of the Wolves players have shot uncontested threes this year. He also included a spreadsheet with percentages of open threes, as well as contested three-pointers by each of the players. Harper finishes his story with a graphic showing the team's three-point percentages from different areas on the court. This high level of analytics has been a recurring theme in in-depth sports writing the past few years.

Harper needed an understanding of Microsoft Xcel and an ability to generate and alter graphics to effectively display his argument. Using these graphics give the reader a visual understanding of the points he is trying to make it; it makes it much easier for the writer to describe his argument without being too wordy or articulate. Harper and many other writers have been using these data sets and graphics in their stories for the past couple years, thus creating an even better environment for fans and readers to gain a greater understanding of the sports they love.

4-year-old Shoots and Kills 2-year-old Brother

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Minnesota Public Radio and WCCO report that a 2-year-old boy was shot and killed by his 4-year-old brother Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Police said the shooting happened in Minneapolis's Riverside neighborhood on the 1900 block of 7th Street South. They were called to the scene just before 1 p.m.

Both reports say the toddler was pronounced dead in the ambulance at the scene.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. William Palmer says the the toddler was shot by his 4-year-old brother who was playing with a fire arm.

Palmer says the parents and their 1-year-old were also home at the time of the incident. They also have a 5-year-old, who was not home at the time. Their children are in protective custody for the time being

There have been no arrests, but the parents are being interviewed by investigators, according to both reports.

NATO Calls on North Korea to Cancel Rocket Launch

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According to stories by Reuters and the Associated Foreign Press, NATO called on North Korea to cancel its plan to launch a rocket for the second time in 2012.

NATO said the launch would violate U.N. resolutions and further destabilize relations between North & South Korea.

NATO ambassadors expressed "grave concern at North Korea's declared intent to launch a rocket using ballistic missile technology this month", an alliance statement said.

North Korea's state news agency announced the decision to launch another space satellite on Saturday. It was earlier reported that North Korea told its neighbors it would take a path similar to the plan for the rocket launch that failed in April.

According to the AFP, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed NATO officials to make this call out to the North Koreans.

Wisconsin Football Coach Bielema Leaves for Arkansas

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University of Wisconsin-Madison head football coach Bret Bielema has accepted an offer from the University of Arkansas for the same position, as reported by ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.

Both sources say Arkansas will officially announce the hiring Tuesday.

Bielema, fresh off leading the Badgers to a third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance with their victory over Nebraska this past Saturday, leaves Madison with a career record of 68-24.

He replaced long-time Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez in 2006, who now serves as the athletic director for the school.

Wisconsin has not announced whether Bielema will coach in January's Rose Bowl game against Stanford.

Arkansas expected to be looking for a coach this off-season after hiring John L. Smith on just a 10-month contract. Smith was brought in to replace Bobby Petrino, who was fired during a scandal where he hired his mistress to work in the football department.

Arkansas went 4-8 this season under Smith, after going 21-5 the previous two seasons with Petrino as coach. Bielema will certainly be expected to return the football program back to an SEC conference power.

Stories filed in the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune, more families may join the discrimination lawsuit against the St. Paul school district that was originally field this past spring. The suit was filed against the district, the Heights Community School principal and a former teacher.

The families of three former Heights students filed the suit last spring. They allege that Timothy Olmsted, who taught sixth grade at the East Side school, discriminated against black students and that supervisors did not act on complaints.

The Star Tribune reports of a story from a sixth-grade girl in Olmstead's class that black students desks were placed facing the wall or in the back of the classroom.

The lawsuit states Olmsted made derogatory statements, calling students "fat, black and stupid" and saying, "You will never amount to anything."

Both newspapers report that Olmstead resigned after being put on paid leave by the St. Paul Public School District.

White House Declines GOP Fiscal Cliff Offer

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According to stories by CNN and the Washington Post, President Barack Obama's administration rejected an offer made by House Republicans to avert the "fiscal cliff" Monday.

Reportedly, the White House did not approve the proposal because it did not demand enough from the nation's wealthiest taxpayers, says CNN.

The GOP plan promises $2.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, including $800 billion from tax reform, $600 billion from Medicare reforms and other health savings and $600 billion in other spending cuts, House Republican leadership aides said.

According to the Washington Post, House Speaker John Boehner and other senior Republicans suggested that a framework proposed by a Democrat, Erksine Bowles, could serve as a starting point for talks.

Republicans say they are willing to extract all the new tax money from households earning more than $250,000 a year, the same group Obama wants to heighten taxes for. But the GOP plan raises the money by taking out deductions instead of raising rates.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said, "If the President is rejecting this middle ground offer, it is now his obligation to present a plan that can pass both chambers of Congress."

Analysis: Speech

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On Sept. 6, 2012, Huffington Post writer Sam Stein wrote an article called "Barack Obama Speech at 2012 Democratic Convention: Perseverance Replaces Change." Stein emphasizes the speech President Obama's speech given at the convention before the election this past fall as a shift in political strategies for Obama and the Democratic party. Excerpts from the speech are sprinkled throughout the story, including an admission to the changes that are referenced in Stein's hypothesis. He also stresses the idea of the speech as the definition of the tone/mood of the entire Democratic Convention and the remainder of the presidential race.

Another way that the writer highlights the significance of the speech was by comparing and contrasting Obama's remarks at the 2008 convention. With the comparison, he further stresses the idea that the Democratic party and Obama's outlook on the presidency is much less optimistic and more leveled, as expressed in the title of the article. Stein also uses the speech as a signal of Obama's strengths in comparison to his opponent, Mitt Romney. Most importantly, the writer does not simply rehash everything the president said, he takes small portions of the speech and relays it to a common theme/thesis.

Police officer shot and killed in Cold Spring, Minn.

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The Pioneer Press and West Central Tribune report that a police officer was shot and killed in Cold Spring late Thursday.

Officer Tom Decker, a six-year veteran and father of four, had gone to check on a man's welfare when he was fatally shot after getting out of his squad car, West Central Tribune said.

Both newspapers report that Decker was shot by 34-year-old Ryan Michael Larson. Cold Spring officers had stopped at Larson's second-floor apartment in downtown Cold Spring less than two hours before the shooting, but he didn't come to the door.

Decker and his partner then returned to the apartment, when he was shot. Family members of Larson had called police to inform them that he might be suicidal.

Records show that Larson was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct in Stearns County in 2009. As part of a plea deal, he served one day in jail and had a three-month sentence stayed. In addition, he agreed to undergo domestic abuse counseling. A no-contact order was issued. Court files indicated he violated his probation in 2010, according to the Pioneer Press.

North Korea Plans Second Rocket Launch

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According to stories from Reuters and the Huffington Post, North Korea has planned a second rocket launch for December.

The launch will occur just as South Korea is holding its presidential election, which is sure to create even more diplomatic tensions between the neighboring countries, says Reuters.

In April, North Korea's first attempt to launch a long-range rocket was widely condemned by United Nations officials. This would be North Korea's second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power following his father Kim Jong Il's death nearly a year ago.

Reuters reports that state news agency KCNA said on Saturday that the launch of a rocket carrying a satellite would take place between December 10 and December 22.

Although North Korean officials say the launch is for peaceful purposes, the United States and South Korea fear that the tests are in preparation for eventual nuclear warhead use.

President Obama and Mitt Romney Have Lunch

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President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney held a private, low-key lunch Thursday at the White House, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

This was the first meeting between the two since the final Presidential debate in October. Officials say the meeting is a step towards the two men working together.

The two men ate turkey chili and grilled chicken salad and traded ideas on how to preserve the nation's status as a whole leader, the White House said. It was Romney's first appearance in the public eye after a three week hiatus following the election.

His role within the Republican party is still unclear, the Wall Street Journal says.

Although the meeting did spark some curiosity among the media, it turned out to be more of a publicity stunt than anything substantive, says the Washington Post.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the two were swapping stories about the campaign trail and said the president previously had stated an interest in Romney's managerial knowledge.

President Obama also met former election challenger John McCain after the 2008 race.