October 2012 Archives

Mankato Football Coach Takes the Stand

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Minnesota State University, Mankato head football coach Todd Hoffner took the stand in a Mankato courtroom Wednesday from his August arrest for child pornography, as reported by The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Hoffner was arrested for two felony counts of child pornography possession; according to both reports, Hoffner had three videos on his cell phone of his naked children "dancing and touching themselves."

On Wednesday, Hoffner spoke publicly for the first time since the arrest.

He is quoted as saying in both reports: "There is nothing inappropriate about anything." The Star Tribune reported that Hoffner's attorney, Jim Flemming, said that he has seen the videos and believes there is nothing sexual or graphic about them.

According to the Pioneer Press story, Flemming called three veteran law officers who have worked on the case to the stand Wednesday. While being questioned by prosecutor Mike Hansen, all three investigators said what they saw on the videos was "troubling" and "disturbing."

Hanson reportedly said in his closing statement Wednesday that "Adults should not make videos of children in lewd poses. Period."

District Judge Krista Jass said she would issue a decision on the case after the Nov. 14 written briefs filing deadline.

Analysis: Multimedia

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When looking at the multimedia centers from CNN and the Pioneer Press, you see two very different kinds of options. Considering that one site is for a cable news channel and the other a newspaper, it would make sense that CNN's multimedia would be much more prodigious than the Pioneer Press.

CNN offers an assortment of video options on its site, including news clips from its television shows. Surprising to me, the site also has a whole bevy of clips related to popular culture - including topics like "The Best of Conan O'Brien" and "Dancing with the Stars." You also can access segments from their news shows, like Anderson Cooper 360 and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. On many of its news stories, CNN compliments the writing with video effectively, being that video news is its specialty. You are also given links to news clips similar to that story.

The Pioneer Press multimedia center is much different than that of CNN; it is primarily made up of photo galleries that compliment different news stories. The writing included in the galleries are typically a couple of paragraphs; the pictures are used to further tell the story. It seems that often the writing doesn't actually address the picture; for instance, a picture of high winds on a beach on the east coast of the United States with a couple of paragraphs about Hurricane Sandy underneath. The Pioneer Press's multimedia, as well as its website, is a lot more primitive than CNN's

Rosemount woman shot in road rage incident

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As reported by Kare11.com and the Star Tribune, a woman was shot early Sunday morning in Eagan on Interstate 35E in an apparent incident of road rage.

The 26-year-old Rosemount woman was riding in a Volkswagen Jetta around 2:30 a.m. when she was shot in the back by a man driving in a "dark colored SUV" as described in the reports.

The SUV reportedly tailgated the Jetta as it entered the Interstate from Cliff Road. Both reports said that the driver of the Volkswagen gave the SUV driver "the finger," which prompted him to shoot at the car.

The woman shot was one of eight people riding in the Volkswagen, according to police spokeswoman Sgt. Danielle Anselment. The Star Tribune said she was sitting in the lap of the front passenger with her back facing the window when the shot was fired. Police are not releasing her name.

In the Tribune article, Anselment said that the driver of the Jetta, a 28-year-old West St. Paul man, was arrested and booked in jail on suspicion of third degree drunken driving.

Police are asking for the public's assistance in finding the shooter, the Star Tribune said.

4 shot in Minneapolis nightclub

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Four people were shot in a Minneapolis nightclub early Saturday morning, around the bar's closing time, according to reports from the Star Tribune and KSTP.com.

Two women and two men were hit around 2 a.m. at the Red Sea Bar and Restaurant on Cedar Avenue south, according to Minneapolis Police Sgt. Steve McCarthy. The victims' injuries are considered non-life threatening says KSTP, but one woman suffered a possible "grazing wound to the head."

Police arrived around 2 a.m. to see people scattering from the bar. Police said that shots were fired outside the Red Sea when the bar's bouncer was trying to force people to leave the club by using chemical spray.

KSTP reported that the club's bouncers screen every patron entering the bar for weapons and that the music choice for Friday night was hip-hop. The bar owner said the music varies on a nightly basis.

No arrests have been made for this case. KSTP reported that police have been called to the Red Sea 25 times in the past year.

According to stories from ESPN and CBS Sports yesterday, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a call to the Yankee Stadium press box during a game to spare the embarrassment of his third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Both reports say that the call happened during the third playoff game of the American League Division Series, when New York was playing the Baltimore Orioles on October 12.

Girardi reportedly called the public address announcer to tell him not to announce Rodriguez's name when the manager decided to replace him in the game with veteran Eric Chavez. Normally, the announcer would say the substitute player's name as well as the player he replaces.

According to CBS and Yankees general manger Brian Cashman, Girardi wanted to shield his struggling star from further embarrassment, who hit 3-for-25 during the 2012 playoffs.

Despite being pinch-hit for and benched by Girardi throughout the playoffs, Rodriguez spoke very positively of his manager. CBS said that Rodriguez and Girardi have typically a close relationship, and Cashman said that the call to the press box showed just how much the manger cares for the third baseman's feelings.

The Yankees' playoff run ended last week when they were eliminated by the American League champion Detroit Tigers.

New York nanny kills two children and stabs herself

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A nanny allegedly killed the two children she was taking care of and then stabbed herself Thursday in an upper-west side New York City apartment, according to a news story in the Huffington Post.

Yoselyn Ortega, 50, is accused of stabbing and killing 6-year-old Lucia Krim and 2-year-old Leo Krim in the bathtub of the family's apartment.

Police said that the mother, Marina Krim, walked into the bathroom to find her dead children in the bathtub as Ortega was laying on the floor with self-inflicted wounds, as reported by CNN.

Marina Krim left her children in the care of Ortega Thursday while she was taking her other child to a swimming lesson. Ortega and the children were supposed to meet Krim at a dance studio at 5:30 p.m.; when they did not show, Krim went home to see what was going on.

According to CNN, Ortega is currently in stable, yet critical condition in a New York City hospital and was under police surveillance on Friday. Police have yet to charge Ortega with anything, said New York City Police Chief Ray Kelly.

The Huffington Post story referenced interviews with Ortega's sister with the New York Post, where she said that her sister Yoselyn "snapped." According to the story, Ortega had been having financial troubles and was seeing a psychiatrist. Her neighbor said he felt that "she was losing her mind," according to the Huffington Post story.

CNN reported that Ortega had been the nanny for the Krim's since the birth of Leo two years ago. The Krim's had even gone to visit Ortega's family in her native Dominican Republic.

According to both reports, there has yet to be a definitive motive behind Ortega's actions. The Huffington Post referenced an interview with a CBS news correspondent who said "she may have been planning this for weeks."

Arrests Made in Pakistani Schoolgirl Shooting

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The main suspect in the October 9 shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai has been identified and a group of men who allegedly facilitated the attack have been arrested, Pakistani police told CNN.

23-year-old Att Ullah, from the northwestern Pakistani Swat district where Malala was shot, was identified as the main suspect. According to CNN, the Swat Valley is heavy with Taliban.

Ullah's fiancee, mother, and brother have also been arrested. It is unclear whether the suspect actually shot Malala or was just the leader behind the attack, said CNN.

It was Malala, as reported by Reuters, that had been campaigning against the Taliban since she was an 11-year-old. She wrote a blog under a pen name for the BBC about living under the rule of the Pakistani Taliban.

Reuters said that the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying her promotion of education for girls was pro-Western and she had opposed them.

Malala had defied threats for years; her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, told Reuters that letters had been thrown into their house on several occasions.

According to CNN, Malala is receiving treatment at University Hospital in Birmingham, England. According to the hospital's statement in the CNN report, Malala is "communicating very freely."

A breaking news story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about a shooting in a Wisconsin hair salon begins with a lede that is straight and to the point. It begins by introducing the most pertinent information: the shooting of 7 people Sunday morning at a spa. The lede ends with the fact that police are still looking for the suspect. The leading paragraph also informs the reader that none of the 7 shooting victims have suffered fatal injuries.

After giving the specific location of where the shooting took place, the writers (the story was co-written by four different reporters) transition into the next most important factor of the story: the rogue shooter. The third paragraph gives a very specific description of the suspect, including the model of his car and its license plate number. The next paragraph begins to summarize the condition of the shooting victims and the hospital they are being treated in, which is reportedly on lock-down as a precautionary measure.

The following paragraphs then give a step-by-step description of how events unfolded at the spa, as told by eye witnesses. The witnesses described events beginning with a woman screaming and running out of the spa, to the suspect chasing her and then escaping the scene, perhaps to the nearby woods of a country club. The initial story ends with statements from the spokesman of the FBI's Milwaukee office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

I think the story was ordered in an effective way. Since it was established early on in the article that none of the shooting victims' gunshot wounds were fatal, I felt the most important storyline now is the whereabouts of the escaped shooter. Before I gave any specific information about the shooting victims, I would have tried to give as much information about the shooter as I had available to me and all of the actions police and the other forces are taking to track him down. It is unclear whether the writers gave all of the information they had on the shooter or not, but I think the order of information in the article shares the same belief that the shooter is now the most important element of the story.

In a response to a Damascus car bomb that killed 13 on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told an international mediator that the key to ending the country's civil war is to stop arming rebel forces.

According the report from Reuters, the bomb exploded outside of a police station in the dominantly Christian Bab Touma district of the capital. The explosion took place at the same time as Assad held talks with the United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is pushing for a temporary ceasefire due to the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha.

Syrian news agency SANA reported that Assad said that he supported "any sincere effort to find a political solution to the crisis, based on respect for Syrian sovereignty and rejecting foreign intervention."

The Syrian conflict has escalated from peaceful protests for reform to a civil war with heavy artillery and air bombings. Syrian authorities blame neighboring Turkey for the escalation because it has supported and sheltered the fighting rebels.

Activists say that since the uprising against President Assad began last March, 30,000 people have been killed. According to Brahimi, many of the opposition figures and rebel fighters are responding to a ceasefire positively for the Eid al-Adha. The United States, Iran, and Turkey have all called for both sides to observe the ceasefire.

A previous ceasefire in April failed after just several days, with each side blaming the other.

Mahamud Omar Guilty

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A federal jury found a Minneapolis man guilty of assisting other local men to Somalia to fight for the terrorist group al-Shabab Thursday, according to the Minnesota Daily.

46-year-old Mahamud Said Omar was convicted of aiding a terrorist group and conspiring to kidnap, maim or kill overseas.

The trial was the public's first look at what has been an extensive FBI investigation of an exodus of 20 men from Minneapolis to Somalia. The government's case was built over a nine day period with telephone records showing contact between Omar and six men who left the U.S. for Somalia in 2008. The men left to join al-Shabab and fight against what they believed to be invading Ethiopian troops in their home country.

Two of those men were University of Minnesota students at the time they left; both are now presumed dead.

The defense team fought with the claim that Omar was a "little man" financially incapable of funding and organizing such an effort.

A packed courtroom awaited the reading of the verdict, which came after a two hour jury deliberation. According to the Daily, Omar remained calm throughout the trail and smiled and waved to his family as he was escorted back to custody after the verdict was read.

His next date in court will be for his sentencing, where he faces a maximum of life in prison.

Texas Seeking Death Penalty for Kidnapping Case

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According to an Associated Press report filed in The Star Tribune and Washington Post, Texas prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in case against a Houston woman accused of killing a mother and abducting her newborn son outside a clinic earlier this year, authorities said Thursday.

The accused woman is 31-year-old Verna McClain, who suffered a miscarriage and felt "desperate for a baby," according to investigators. McClain is facing a charge of capital murder for allegedly shooting Kala Golden-Schurchardt outside a suburban Houston pediatric clinic and taking her newborn son upon shooting her.

According to McClain's attorneys, her mental state will be under review.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday its decision to seek the death penalty. Lead attorney Kelly Blackburn said his office would not comment on what led to the decision. According to Blackburn, Golden-Schuchardt's family is "on board" with the decision.

The shooting took place outside of Northwoods Pediatric Center about 25 miles north of Houston, where McClain regularly took her three children for checkups. Investigators believe Golden-Schurchardt was randomly targeted by McClain.

Authorities said McClain repeatedly shot Golden-Schurchardt as she was placing her days' old son into her pickup truck. McClain then took the child and sped off. Before dying at the hospital, Golden-Schurchardt was able to give a description of who had shot her and taken her son. McClain told investigators initially that the baby had been left on her doorstep before later confessing.

Vikings Set for a Game in London in 2013

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The NFL announced Tuesday that the Minnesota Vikings will play as guest host to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game in London in 2013, as reported by ESPN.

The game is set to take place in London's Wembley Stadium on September 29, 2013. This game will be the first of two London NFL games in 2013; the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Fransisco 49ers will play a game there on October 27.

This will be the first time that the NFL has had two regular-season games played in London in the same year.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called it "a very significant and important step for our fans in the UK and our teams in general." Goodell went on to say that it comes back to a "belief in the fans in the UK and in London."

This London trip marks the second in team history for the Vikings; Minnesota traveled there in 1983 to play a preseason game, according to The Star Tribune.

"This is an opportunity to grow our brand and to grow the game of football internationally," Vikings president Mark Wilf said. "We have fans throughout the world. It will give excellent and exceptional exposure for the team."

According to ESPN's report, Goodell is considering changing the start times of NFL games in America to ensure a more opportune viewing time for the European fans. His plan would have games beginning at 10:30 a.m in the eastern time zone.

According the Star Tribune, the Vikings may seek to return to London in the years following the 2013 trip; the team will be displaced from the Metrodome for parts of the 2014 and all of the 2015 season as its new stadium in downtown Minneapolis is being built.

For now, according to team president Mark Wilf, the Vikings are committed to just one game.

Drunk driver hits 6 people near U of M's Stadium Village

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A drunken driver hit 6 pedestrians with their car at an intersection near the University of Minnesota Sunday afternoon, as reported by The Star Tribune.

Around 3 p.m., Kristine J. Peterson of St. Francis, 32, hit the six cross-walkers while turning left from Washington Avenue onto Oak Street Southeast.

Of the victims, two of which are University of Minnesota students, only 58-year-old Michael Duffy, of Burnsville, remains hospitalized, according to The Minnesota Daily. However, The Daily reports that only four pedestrians were hit, in contrast to The Star Tribune's report of six.

Minneapolis Sgt. Stephen McCarty said that Peterson's actions were "unintentional" and clarified that her blood alcohol content was above the .08 state's legal limit. She was ticketed for drunk driving and jailed; she was released Sunday evening and has a court date for November 26.

Analysis: 'Fiscal Cliff' Not Only U.S. Economic Threat

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In the Washington Post article Saturday about the imminent "fiscal cliff" facing the United States economy, the writer presents a multitude of figures and percentages to clearly identify the looming issues facing the economy. He begins the article explaining the term "fiscal cliff" and lists several of the policy changes that are supposed to cause this.

Each of the beginning paragraphs act as components of a laundry list of new American policy. It illustrates a cause-and-effect situation for each of the policies, from the expiration of a payroll tax cut that benefits 160 million workers to the decline in the payroll tax that funds Social Security from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

The first source cited by the writer occurs in the ninth graph: a prediction that the changes in current economic policy could "do at least as much to slow the economy as any other government action in the past half-century" from Moody's Analytics.

The writer finishes the article with a couple of quotes, first from a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former top official at the federal reserve. The writer attributes the economist in between the quote. The writer also references a statement made by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geitner about the decision not to renew the payroll tax, demonstrating the White House and Congress's indifference on the subject.

Victims' Families Invited to Watch 9/11 Hearings

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The families of those killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have been invited to military installations in four states to watch pretrial hearings in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for five men charged with assisting and taking part in the attacks, according to The Pioneer Press.

The hearings, which begin Monday, are typically closed to public viewing, but relatives of victims who registered in advance can watch via closed-circuit television cables in forts in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Of those on-trial in the hearings includes the "self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks," Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In May, earlier rounds of hearings took place and was transmitted to viewing locations for relatives of victims and survivors. The proceedings were a frustration to many, as the suspects refused to cooperate with the court and often knelt in prayer, interrupting the proceedings.

One of those interviewed in the article, Jim Riches - whose firefighter son died at the World Trade Center, expressed that he wished the trials could be broadcast for the whole world to see so that "everyone could see what these guys are like."

Only a few dozen people viewed the initial trials in May. A large crowd is not expected for the proceedings Monday either.

St. Paul Sued Over New Ballpark

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A lawsuit was filed against St. Paul officials Friday alleging the city erred in how it went about awarding the construction contract for the new Saints baseball stadium in Lowerton, according to The Star Tribune.

The city was sued by The Taxpayers League of Minnesota, as well as Greg Copeland, chairman of the St. Paul GOP City Committee. They say the city violated city ordinances and state statutes by awarding the designing and building contract of the stadium to Ryan Companies of Minneapolis without a competitive bidding process.

The suit argues that the contract is therefore illegal due to this and that work on the ballpark project should come to a halt until the contract can be rebid with a competitive bidding process.

According to plaintiff spokesman Dean Thomson, the suit hopes to ensure "that we have competition so that our tax dollars are spent prudently." He added that since it is still early in the building process that the project can be restarted without much harm done.

In September, St. Paul was awarded $25 million in grant money from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to build the new stadium for the Saints. The city and team will pay the remainder of the project.

The day the announcement of the grant for the project, Ryan Companies was awarded the design-and-build contract. St. Paul attorneys are still reviewing the lawsuit and will comment later in the week.

The ballpark promises at least 248 jobs and bring $10 million a year to the city of St. Paul. It is scheduled to be ready for use in 2015.

Turkey Forces Syrian Ammunition-Filled Plane to Land

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Turkey forced a Syrian passenger jet en route from Moscow to Damascus to land late Wednesday because the plane was believed to be holding Russian ammunition and military equipment, according to the Star Tribune via The Associated Press.

The jet was on its way to the Syrian Defense Ministry; the seized jet cargo included missile parts, radio receivers, and other military communications equipment. The equipment is currently being examined by Turkish officals, according to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Syria labeled the incident piracy while the Russians called the search illegal, citing that it endangered the lives of the Russian citizens on board the Airbus A320 that was intercepted over Turkish airspace.

Erdogan referenced the international law that defense industry equipment, ammunition, or weapons cannot be carried on passenger planes. Turkey did not indicate how - or from whom - they had learned of the transport of military equipment via the passenger jet.

The United States said it backed Turkey's decision to intercept the plane, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. She declined to comment on Turkish reports that the intelligence of the plane's contents came from the United States.

This incident is one of many that have contributed to the plummeting relations between Turkey and Syria, which has expanded into a civil war that "threatens the stability of the Middle East," according to the Associated Press's report.

Federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit against Wells Fargo Tuesday, according to The Huffington Post.

Wells Fargo reportedly "lied about the quality of loans certified for a federal insurance program", ultimately costing the country $190 million in claims. The bank concealed the quality of 6,320 loans in total, even after its own risk department conducted reviews.

This lawsuit continues a troubling trend of high-profile banks failing to disclose their mistakes.

"As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a long standing and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Citigroup, Flagstar Bank, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, and FBC have all repaid the Federal Housing Administration, a divison of the Department of Housing and Development, $1 billion collectively because in similar cases to that of Wells Fargo.

Essentially in Wells Fargo's situation, the bank's brokers issued loans that should not have qualified and the bank then lied about it to the government. The bank apparently gave bonuses to brokers who had a large number of approved loans.

According to a Wells Fargo spokesman, the bank is proud of its long-standing relationship with the FHA and will "vigorously defend itself against this action."

An Increase in U of M Campus DUI's

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Drunken driving rates are up on the University of Minnesota campus, according to The Minnesota Daily.

Police attribute the rise in drunk driving cases not to a jump in drunk drivers, but to a strengthening of University resources.

"There was one simple reason for the decline," University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. "Defense attorneys constantly challenging the validity of our equipment to detect alcohol."

Miner was referring to the Intoxilyzer 5000, the primary breathalyzer equipment used by University police the past 15 years. They recently changed to the BAC DataMaster, which has led to a steady increase in campus DUI's since this past summer.

The U of M campus averaged 187 DUIs a year while using the Intoxilyzer 5000 from 2002-2006, a number that declined steadily during the years before the change of equipment.

Miner points to this change of machinery as a way to make DUI arrests much less complicated. According to the article, police officers used to have to take suspects to the hospital to take blood and urine tests to prove they had been drinking.

The improvement of University resources make the campus a safer place for all tenants, bicyclists, and pedestrians living in the area.

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

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