May 6, 2007

Activists say Police Presence was Provacotive

Activists groups are saying that the presence of the Los Angeles Police Department's Metropolitan Division at an immigration rally provoked violence.

The Metro Division was created to deal with riots, terrorism and other dangerous situations, and activists say the presence of the force was unnecessary at the rally.

The May Day immigration rally at MacArthur Park ended in the Metro Division's Platoon B firing rubber bullets into crowds of demonstrators. The rally was a peaceful and lawful demonstration, but police moved in after a group of agitators began throwing bottles and rocks.

Four investigations are in progress at the police department said LA Police Chief William Bratton. So far the investigations have determined that 148 rubber bullets were fired by the officers, not the originally reported 240, and between 30 and 40 demonstrators provoked police, not the 50 to 100 that police originally reported. Demonstrators and journalists were also beaten by police batons.

As a result of the violence, three protesters have filed federal lawsuits against the police department, claiming their constitutional rights were violated. Patti Ballaz, a camerawoman for a local television news station, has also filed a civil suit due to injuries she sustained during the altercation. Ballaz suffered a fractured wrist and ankle injuries.

Of the 600 officers in the Metro Division, 100 were involved. Bratton said that those officers have been removed from the streets while investigations continue.

April 29, 2007

Kansas City Shopping Mall Violence Leaves 4 Dead

A Gunman opened fire today in a parking lot and shopping mall in south Kansas City, resulting in four deaths, including the shooter. Police shot down the gunman outside the Target in Ward Parkway Center.

The shooter shot at police from a dead woman's car and then proceeded to open fire inside the shopping center.

Police investigated the home of an elderly woman, who had not been seen for days by her neighbors. Police found the woman dead and her car missing.

A police officer recognized the missing car and pulled the driver over later in the day. The driver shot the police officer in the arm, who returned fire. The shooter then pulled into the shopping center's parking lot and killed two people in cars parked next to him, injuring two others. He then entered the mall where he fired more shots and injured at least two more people before being shot and killed by police.

Check out AP coverage of this story in the Pioneer Press (which has a recently updated version) and the Star Tribune (who carried an earlier version).

April 22, 2007

NYC Mayor makes Environmentally-friendly Proposal

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a pay-to-drive plan that would charge motorists to drive in lower parts of Manhattan.

The plan would charge cars $8 and trucks $21 per day to drive in Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This would not be done with toll booths, but rather with cameras at intersections capturing the license plates of cars driving in the area and sending the owners statements.

The goals of the program are not only to reduce pollution caused by vehicle traffic in New York, but also to cut down on traffic congestion in Manhattan. The proposed revenue would be put towards alternative transit solutions for the area. Authors of the plan said in its first year alone the program could generate $400 million.

This is only one of 127 environmental improvement policies proposed by Bloomberg as part of his goal to improve the city's long-term sustainability. Others include his goal to plant 1 million trees in the city by 2017, water conservation initiatives, and energy-related plans such as tax rebates for solar panels. Not only does Bloomberg have other programs in mind to help the city become more environmentally friendly, he follows his own advice, most days he takes the Subway to work instead of driving.

Also check out the All Headline News online coverage as well as ABC's local coverage for NYC.

April 15, 2007

Former SLA Member has Sentence Restored

Former Symbionese Liberation Army member Sara Jane Olson had a one year reduction of her sentence restored on Thursday after judges ruled her appeal had not followed proper procedure.

Olson is serving back to back sentences for guilty pleas regarding both a bombing of police vehicles and second-degree shooting of a bank customer during a robbery in 1975.

Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah, was arrested near her St. Paul home in 1999 after her picture appeared on America's Most Wanted.

Olson had been living in St. Paul for 23 years before she was arrested by the FBI in 1999. Her arrest came as a surprise to her husband and three daughters, who claimed to have no knowledge that their wife and mother was a fugitive.

The Symbionese Liberation Army, an American terrorist group also known as the SLA were best known for their capture of heiress Patty Hearst.

March 26, 2007

Gonzales Decision Questioned by Republicans

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's credibility was questioned by not only Democrats, but also three Republican Senators this weekend.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" that if Gonzales was not being truthful about his decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys last year, his job may be on the line. Gonzales will testify before a committee on which Specter is the top Republican, on April 17 regarding the firings.

Specter's sentiments were shared by Sen. Lindsy Graham (R- S.C.) on CBS's "Face the Nation".

Gonzales's credibility was questioned when email discussions of the attorney firings happened 10 days before any action was taken; Gonzales had previously said he had no prior involvement in the matter.

Check out more coverage of this from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

March 11, 2007

Sorority's Actions Raise Questions of Discrimination

The Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University in Indiana is under fire for recently kicking 23 of their members out of their house because the women's looks did not coincide with the image the sorority was trying to achieve.

National Officers of Delta Zeta interviewed the members of the DePauw chapter because there were concerns about the sorority image on campus. After 23 of the members were asked to leave, six of the 12 remaining members left because they thought the sorority's actions were unfair.

Other members of the university campus have also taken action against Delta Zeta's decision. Students have held protests on campus, parents and alumni have sent angry letters, and a faculty petition was also signed calling the sorority's actions unethical.

Check out the New York Times coverage of this story.

Follow up: DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms told reporters on Monday that the university's chapter of the Delta Zeta sorority has been asked to leave campus before September due to the mass eviction that removed 23 of its members. Bottoms said the sorority's actions are not compatible with the values of the small private college in Indiana.

March 4, 2007

Obama and Clinton Campaign on Anniversary of Selma March

Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton both appeared in Selma, Ala. at the anniversary ceremony of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.

Obama and Clinton both spoke to civil rights groups who gathered to remember what happened on the infamous Bloody Sunday over 40 years ago.

Obama's speech recognized the significance of the Selma march on his bid for becoming the first black president. He called to action black voters, reminding them of the blood shed during the civil rights movement that allows them to have those rights today.

Clinton has a measure of popularity among black voters as well, due to her husband and former president Bill Clinton's popularity with the community. Black feminist author Toni Morrison once famously referred to President Clinton as "the first black president."

Check out more in the Star Tribune.

February 24, 2007

Clothes Penetrating Scanner Used in Arizona Airport

An Arizona airport began testing a new X-ray scanning security system that critics are calling an invasion of privacy.

Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix became the first airport to begin testing a new federal screening system that uses X-ray images to scan passengers for concealed explosives or other weapons. The Transportation Security Administration's "backscatter" is capable of producing clear images, but the TSA adjusted the scanner to produce something close to a line drawing to respect the privacy of travelers.

Critics say the backscatter's clear images are too invasive, but the adjusted images do not accurately detect concealed weapons.

Using the backscatter is completely voluntary. If a traveler does not pass the first routine security check, they can use the backscatter or opt to have a traditional pat-down search.

The machine is operating at one terminal in Phoenix for a 90 day trial period. By the end of the year, the TSA hopes to have other machines operating at airports in New York and Los Angeles.

Read what The Arizona Republic and the Star Tribune's AP coverage said about the backscatter.

February 18, 2007

New Jersey Begins Civil Unions

Civil Unions will become legal in New Jersey on Monday. A new law will make New Jersey the third state in the nation to allow same-sex couples to have civil unions. Some couples are already planning ceremonies.

Same-sex couples that have civil unions in other states will now officially be recognized in New Jersey as of 12:01 a.m. Monday. Ceremonies reaffirming these unions are scheduled for the first minutes of Monday morning.

New Jersey joins Vermont and Connecticut in allowing civil unions, while Massachusetts remains the only state to recognize same-sex marriages.

For couples that do not already have unions in other states, there is a 72-hour waiting period to apply for a license, just like marriages. Some town halls are opening at 12:01 a.m. Monday to allow couples to apply for their licenses.

Gay rights organizations said they will continue to push for same-sex marriage rights in New Jersey, while conservative groups plan to push state legislature to pass legislation defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Read more on civil unions in New Jersey: Pioneer Press
Star Tribune
New York Times

South Dakota Reworks Abortion Ban

South Dakota lawmakers reworked last year's abortion ban proposal to hopefully gain the ban more acceptance with the public. Last year, a near-total abortion ban was shot down by voters.

The new bill lawmakers introduced in January would allow for more exceptions, including for victims of rape or incest and if the pregnancy would significantly endanger the woman's health. Voters cited the lack of exceptions as a reason for not supporting the ban last November.

The new bill includes a 17 week gestation period limit on the rape and incest exception. There are also now requirements restricting when rape and incest cases must be reported to police and doctors.

Some lawmakers think it is too soon for another bill to be put in front of the voters, said Democratic Sen. Julie Bartling.

Republican Rep. Gordon Howie said legislators should not lose their momentum, citing the slim margin with which November's repeal was passed. Only 56 percent of voters opposed the more strict bill.

Check out more about South Dakota's proposed abortion ban from AP and Dakota Voice.

February 11, 2007

Harvard Names First Woman President

Drew Gilpin Faust was named Harvard University's first female president.

Fifty-nine-year-old Faust is dean of Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and a scholar of the American South. With her appointment, Faust becomes one of four female presidents that preside over the eight Ivy League schools.

She was appointed by Harvard's Board of Overseers on Sunday, and the appointment is effective July 1.

Faust will be taking over from Pres. Derek Bok, who is serving on an interim basis following the resignation of former president Lawrence Summers. Summers' resignation could have been affected by comments he made regarding women's issues. Faust headed two faculty task forces examining gender diversity at Harvard, born in the aftermath of Summers' comments.

Read what the New York Times, the Star Tribune, and The Harvard Crimson had to say.

*A note about story structure: In the Associated Press coverage which appeared in the Star Tribune, the focus of the story was on the significance of Harvard's first female president. The top of the story included the fact that now half of the eight Ivy Leagues have female presidents and a quote from Faust. The bottom of the story includes background information about Faust that a reader would not find essential to the story. Her credentials are dispersed throughout the story surfacing only when they are relevant to the topic at hand, not listed together. Although it may seem confusing, I think this is better for the reader because a long list of credentials would bore them until they quit reading.

February 4, 2007

Debate in Congress Over Bush's Troop Plan

Congress prepared to debate President Bush's proposed plan for Iraq, which includes 21,500 more troops being sent overseas. Many senators, both Democrats and Republicans, oppose the troop increase but must decide on an alternative plan of action that would be best for the country.

A bipartisan resolution that opposes Bush's plan, but encourages support for forces searching for Al-Qaida was discussed late last week. Democrats opposed this plan because it will not cut off war funds.

There are also Republican plans in the making, one supporting Bush's plan, and one to continue support for troops already in the field.

Some Democrats are looking for binding legislation that will start to pull U.S. forces from the field and start bringing troops home.

Check out more on this issue:
Pioneer Press
Star Tribune

*A note about attribution: The story is based mainly off of direct quotes. The Pioneer Press did less direct quoting but more paraphrasing. This story also attributed The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press as contributors. The Star Tribune's coverage includes more partial quotes, it also directly quotes a report.

January 28, 2007

Super Bowl Advertising the New Player of the Game

Super Bowl advertising spots, the most coveted commercial slots in the advertising business, are now costing $2.6 million to display a 30 second commercial.

Ninety million football fans tuning into the championship game have made the 60 commercial spots available during the Super Bowl prime real estate for companies promoting their products. The enormous market and limited slots have increased the price for ads at rates much higher than inflation. Minute-long commercial slots were a fraction of the cost at the first World Championship Game, costing a mere $75,000.

With continuing media fragmentation, the Super Bowl is now streamed live on the internet, making it available to even more people and making it more appealing to advertisers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigated how this year's Super Bowl advertisers reached out to their consumers to help them create memorable commercials. For instance, Chevrolet held a student-designed ad contest and will be running the winning commercials during the game.