December 6, 2007

Europe Allies See Iran as a Threat

The European Allies announced on Thursday that Iran is still seen as a threat, even though US intelligence reported Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

According to the BBC, the comments came about following a talk between the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, began talk on Iran's nuclear weapons program with European and Russian officials. This all came just as the US intelligence released a report that stated Iran has not had a nuclear weapon's program since 2003. The report also stated that Iran has been working to enrich their uranium, which is commonly used to make nuclear weapons. Iran responded by saying that the intentions of their nuclear program is peaceful and is being used for energy purposes.

The US is asking for a new UN sanctions resolutions to apply against Iran, others countries at latest United Nations press conference stated that they do not have the same interests.

"We and our partners would like to continue with the UN process," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I think we and our partners need to continue to seek dialogue with Iran," she said.

There was also a National Intelligence Estimate released on Monday which reversed statements made by President Bush earlier this year.

According to CNN, China has also been supporting UN sanctions against Iran. They said that Iran's refusal of stopping uranium enrichment has let them to vote in favor of sanctions. British and French foreign ministers have expressed interest in maintaining pressure over Iran because of their refusal to stop enriching their uranium.

Two Dead in Car Crashes

Two different car crashes in Minnesota resulted in two dead.

According to the Star Tribune, one of the car crashes occurred in Stearns County, and the other one in Carver County. Both of the incidents occurred Wednesday night. A 65-year-old woman from Buffalo, Minn., was killed in the first accident, happening around 6:30 p.m. The accident was the result of a two-car collision on Hwy. 12 near Carver County. The driver of the car was the woman's husband, who suffered only minor injuries. The driver of the other car had no visible injuries.

The second crash happened later on in the night, around 8:30 p.m. It was also the result of a two-car collision which occurred in Stearns County, on Hwy. 23. One person was killed, their name has not yet been released. The driver of the other car had no visible injuries, their name has not been released either.

According to the Pioneer Press, the couple from Buffalo was struck broadside after pulling out in front of another car. The couple were headed north on MN 284, crossing US 212 when the accident occurred. They were driving a 1997 Buick. The opposing car was a 1994 Dodge Caravan moving west on US 212.

According to WCCO, the roads were wet when the first accident occurred, but dry during the second. This crash comes as many others have been occurring due to the weather and snow storms Minnesota has been experiencing.

December 5, 2007

Gunman Kills 8 and Self in Omaha Mall

A man killed 8 people then himself in an Omaha mall on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the New York Times, the shooter's identity was not originally released, but he has since been identified as Robert A. Hawkins, 19, of Bellevue, Neb. He was found using a rifle and there were 8 people found dead and 5 others injured. The shooter was thought to have killed himself using the same weapon.

“The person who we believe to be the shooter has died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds,� Sgt. Teresa Negron of the Omaha Police Department said.

The police received a 911 all from a person inside the Westroads Mall, located on the west side of Omaha. Police arrived shortly after receiving the call, 6 minutes to be exact. By the time officers were able to report to the scene, the shootings were already over.

The gunman left a suicide note at his home, which was found by relatives. The note explained that the shooter wanted to "go out in style."

According to JournalStar, a news source located in Nebraska, the shooter was 20 year-old instead of 19. It also reported that the note was found by the shooter's mother. The information on the note has been disclosed as of right now.

As the incident was occurring, shoppers and workers were running through the mall screaming immediately following gunshots.The shooter was found later on the third floor of the Von Maur store. A worker at Von Maur said she heard gunshots around 1:50 p.m., about 10 or 12 shots in total. All of the victims were found in the Von Maur store, on the floor.

December 4, 2007

Minnesota Experiences Large Snowfall

The Twin Cities, among other regions of Minnesota, experienced a large snowfall on Tuesday.

According to the Star Tribune, the snowfall resulted in an afternoon and evening of congested rush hour. At about 5 p.m. the traffic was not moving. Conditions were even more extreme in Duluth where they experienced a snowfall of 16 inches.

The metro area saw 39 crashes, three rollovers and 14 spinouts during the morning and early afternoon hours. Regular commuters experienced double and triple commuting times.

The National Weather Service reported a snow warning in northwestern Minnesota and a snow advisory in central, east central and southeastern Minnesota until 6 p.m.

"We were dry in November," said Mike Bardou of the National Weather Service. "But we are more active now, and it looks like that will continue."

According to the Pioneer Press, while emergencies were called in Duluth and Minneapolis, nothing was declared for St. Paul. The snowfall is expected to either drop or completely stop overnight, and a 40 percent chance of snow on Thursday.

"We haven't had a snow storm of this significance this year during rush hour," Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Walker said.

Pacific Northwest Suffers From Floods

The Pacific northwest region of the United States faced strong and fierce floods due to winter storms.

According to the New York Times, the floods were the effect of two winter storms which had high winds and heavy rains which caused the floods and blocked highways, cut power and forced the declaration of a state of emergency. The two states which faced the most damage and concern was Oregon and Washington. The winds and snow also effected many areas on the eastern side of the United States, including New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

One man was killed in southwest Washington after a tree fell on him as he was trying to get clear from another tree that had fallen. Another man was killed following a medical problem as power went out. A women in Oregon died from a heart attack as she was attempting to find safe land. Hundreds of others also had to be rescued by boat or helicopter from the flooding waters.

According to the USA Today, National Guard troops were called to the scene to evacuate residents suffering from the floods and many others suffering from the loss of power. There are still no phone lines or land lines available in many areas as they were cut off by landslides which blocked roads.

The storms hit hardest on Monday, registering winds similar to hurricane forces. While the storms hit many different regions, those who suffered the most were towns located on the coasts. The area which suffered the most on the coast was western Washington which experienced 3 to 6 inches of rain.

December 2, 2007

Vladimir Putin's Party Wins Election

Vladimir Putin's party won in the Russian parliamentary elections Sunday.

According to FOX News, the vote came in a crushing victory for the United Russia party and for Putin.

"The vote affirmed the main idea: that Vladimir Putin is the national leader, that the people support his course, and this course will continue," party leader and parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said.

Many leaders of the opposition parties are saying that the vote was rigged and that the Bush administration had something to do the voting irregularities. Putin is prohibited from running for a third term, but he wants to stay in power.

According to the USA Today, the vote came after an intense and intimidating political campaign. Apparently Putin used a large amount of his oil revenues to guarantee a victory for his party.

Refinery Worker Reported Dead

A missing refinery worker was found dead after a fire broke out in a fuel oil tank.

According to the Star Tribune, a fire broke out at the Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery in St. Paul.The employee was 29 year-old Nick Gunter of Hastings. He was a refinery operator in the blending operation. Gunter had been working fo working with Marathon since January 2006. The cause of his death is still uncertain, authorities are investigating the fire which began Saturday morning.

Employees have the opportunity to have counseling to deal with the tragedy if they want to. The fire did not stop the facilities operations.

According to the Pioneer Press, Gunter was declared dead around 1:40 p.m. The fire broke out at 8:30 a.m.

"He had been an operator in the blending operation and he tragically died in a tank fire incident. And it goes without saying our thoughts and prayers are with the family," the company's spokesman, Robert Calmus said. "We've contacted them. We have an employee assistance program to help employees through a crisis like this."

Blog on Records/CAR

The story that I found where computer-assisted reporting is used comes from www.nicar.org's Extra! Extra! link.

The story is titled "County pays price when property owners don't." This story is about paying taxes, property taxes specifically. It does into depth about how the Dallas County property owners are failing to pay their taxes. Then the story goes into detail about how much revenue was lost due to the failure to pay taxes. Computer skills were needed here to explain were all the money could have gone. The reason people aren't paying their taxes is because they stall to collect on bankruptcies, challenge appraisals or they disappear with no address.

The story describes how enough money was lost to pay for 10,000 sheriff's deputies or half of the Trinity River toll road project. The article then uses computer skills to figure out where exactly the missing money was coming from. The story talks about how people are reducing their tax bills and how the state is heavily dependent on property taxes and that they can't exactly afford to not get this money. It shows how the state uses the money and the results of what happens when people decide to not pay.

The article then goes into detail about certain laws about paying taxes and it is obvious that computer assisted reporting is used because it talks about interest rates, collection efforts, common patterns and lawsuits that affect each of the situations and ideas.

BCS Bowl Series Set

The BCS college football bowl games of this January have been decided.

According to the USA Today, Ohio St. will be playing LSU for the national championship game on January 7, 2007, in New Orleans. This is the third time that Ohio St. has been in the national championship since the BCS originated in 1998, it also marks LSU's second trip to the big game.

Besides the national championship game, the other BCS bowl games have also been set. The Rose Bowl will feature Illinois and USC, the Sugar Bowl will be Hawaii against Georgia, the Fiesta bowl will be between Oklahoma and West Birginia, and the Orange bowl will be between Virginia Tech and Kansas.

Many of the games were up in the air before Sunday, as the college football rankings have been changing almost all year long. Both LSU and Ohio State had seen time at the number one spot at different points in the year, but neither of them were at that spot when the year came to a close.

According to ESPN, LSU seems to be the favorite as no other team has won the national championship after losing two games during the regular season, such as Ohio St. has done this year. There were also a number of top rated teams that were left out of the Bowl Championship Series, including Missouri, Arizona State and Florida.

Clinton Attacks Obama

Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, recently attacked Barack Obama on a comment he made back in kindergarten.

According to the USA Today, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign attacked Senator Barack Obama for statements he made when he was in kindergarten and third grade. Clinton attacked the fact that Obama claims he hadn't planned to run for president very long when she found out that he wrote in kindergarten that he had plans of "rewriting history".

In response to the attack, the Obama campaign created a Hillary Attacks website which keeps record of all the attacks she has made on Obama. The website was made in response to one of Clinton's comments back on November 10, 2007 which said that she wasn't interested in attacking the Democratic candidates.

In response to the "Hillary Attacks" website, Clinton's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said that it was disingenuous of Obama to react that way when it was only his record that was being questioned.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Clinton campaign released a press release on Sunday that stated Obama had written essays throughout his youth about how his dream in the future is to become president. All of these attacks come at a time when Obama and Clinton are very close in the Iowa race and as Obama may be up a few points at the current moment.

Clinton Attacks Obama

Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, recently attacked Barack Obama on a comment he made back in kindergarten.

According to the USA Today, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign attacked Senator Barack Obama for statements he made when he was in kindergarten and third grade. Clinton attacked the fact that Obama claims he hadn't planned to run for president very long when she found out that he wrote in kindergarten that he had plans of "rewriting history".

In response to the attack, the Obama campaign created a Hillary Attacks website which keeps record of all the attacks she has made on Obama. The website was made in response to one of Clinton's comments back on November 10, 2007 which said that she wasn't interested in attacking the Democratic candidates.

In response to the "Hillary Attacks" website, Clinton's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said that it was disingenuous of Obama to react that way when it was only his record that was being questioned.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Clinton campaign released a press release on Sunday that stated Obama had written essays throughout his youth about how his dream in the future is to become president. All of these attacks come at a time when Obama and Clinton are very close in the Iowa race and as Obama may be up a few points at the current moment.

Clinton Attacks Obama

Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, recently attacked Barack Obama on a comment he made back in kindergarten.

According to the USA Today, Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign attacked Senator Barack Obama for statements he made when he was in kindergarten and third grade. Clinton attacked the fact that Obama claims he hadn't planned to run for president very long when she found out that he wrote in kindergarten that he had plans of "rewriting history".

In response to the attack, the Obama campaign created a Hillary Attacks website which keeps record of all the attacks she has made on Obama. The website was made in response to one of Clinton's comments back on November 10, 2007 which said that she wasn't interested in attacking the Democratic candidates.

In response to the "Hillary Attacks" website, Clinton's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, said that it was disingenuous of Obama to react that way when it was only his record that was being questioned.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Clinton campaign released a press release on Sunday that stated Obama had written essays throughout his youth about how his dream in the future is to become president. All of these attacks come at a time when Obama and Clinton are very close in the Iowa race and as Obama may be up a few points at the current moment.

November 27, 2007

Shoreview Man Kills Mom Then Self

A man stabbed his mother to death then proceeded to take his own life in the family's condo in Shoreview, MN, Monday.

According to the Star Tribune, the man, Paul W. Wolter, 22, had a history of mental health issues that were known of by residents of the area. The bodies of Wolter, and his mother, Susan M. Wolter, 53, were found dead around 8:50 p.m. in their condominium at Shoreview Estates in the 4000 block of Hodgson Road. According to the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, both died from repeated stab wounds.

Family members had been calling Susan Wolter to check up on her, but when she wouldn't answer her phone they got worried and called Undersheriff George Altendorfer Monday night. He said that the family was concerned about Paul's mental health and that the family had sought help for him in the past.

Paul lived with his parents in a condominium. Susan's husband, Wayne Wolter, was away on a golfing trip in Las Vegas when the incident occurred.

According to the Pioneer Press, there was proof that the weapon used was a knife because it was laying in close proximity to the man. Paul had also been battling drugs and a long list of mental illnesses. The family moved into the building a few years ago.

"They say no-one's indispensible, but she (Susan Wolter) was as close to it as they come," said Roseville Fire Chief Richard Gasaway Tuesday evening. "She was always finding the humor in life, was quick to make light of tough situations."

November 18, 2007

Relief Reaches Bangladesh

Rescue and relief groups reached parts of Bangladesh that were devastated by a cyclone.

According to the BBC, Cyclone Sidr killed thousands and could potentially kill many more. It was estimated that over one million families have been affected. The cyclone struck on Thursday night and contained winds of up to 240 km/h with a tidal surge stretching several metres. Tens of thousands of homes were either destroyed or damaged. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society reported up to 10,000 people have been confirmed dead.

According to MSNBC, the tropical storm was the deadliest to hit the country in a decade. The storm hit southwest Bangladesh, ruining homes and crops all over the area. Over a million coastal villagers were forced to evacuate the area and go to government shelters. Rescuers are trying to bring food and water to the people who were affected by the flooding that followed the cyclone. The roads were so over flooded that they were forced to return on bicycles.

“Advance warnings from the weather office helped us take shelter, but still, the damage is colossal,� said Abu Hanif, 60, a Bagerhat resident.

MacPhail Center for Music Opening Soon

The MacPhail Center for Music is going to move into a new building next month, right next to the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater of downtown Minneapolis.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the music center is set to open to the public January 5, 2008. The school has 56 studios, is six stories tall and costs about $25 million. The building is currently on LaSalle St. where it has been for 87 years. The move was initially made because the building was too small and the school was growing in numbers. The building also has temperature and humidity control among a number of other improvements that make the school more updated.

"You can walk around the old building at MacPhail and you’re not exactly sure what happens here," said David O’Fallon, MacPhail’s president. "It does look a little bit like an old department store fallen on hard times."

According to Building Minnesota, about 7,000 students go to class at the center for music, including programs in Irish fiddle, singing, jazz, composition and rock guitar. The architect of the building is Vincent James, one of the best known architects in Minneapolis.