December 14, 2008

Teacher decides to sell ads on tests

A high school school teacher in San Diego has found a way to generate money for his school's depleting budget.

Tom Farber, is using the bottom of his math tests as advertising space. According to CBS News, "The ads appear as lines of text - 'Braces by Stephen P. Henry D.M.D.,' for example.

When school administrators announced that they were cutting almost a third of the supplies spending, Farber realized that he'd pocket more $200 in printing for his tests.

Farber is selling his quizzes for $10, tests for $20 and final exams for $30 and the costs are only enough to the pay for the printing fees.

According to USA Today, "San Diego magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune featured his plan just before Thanksgiving, and Farber came home from a few days out of town to 75 e-mail requests for ads. So far, he has collected $350. His semester final is sold out."

Farber told CBS News, "Anybody who criticizes this I challenge them to open up their wallets."

While these two news organizations presented the same story, they were written in different styles. The story by CBS was a feature that got quotes from one of Farber's students and that also highlighted the general issue of funding (or lack thereof) for schools across the U.S. The story by USA Today talked more about the implications of what Farber has chosen to do, and the economic impact-good and bad-that it will have on schools should they decide to do the same.

Shoes thrown at Bush during rare visit to Baghdad

A pair of shoes were thrown at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad.

In his fourth and last visit as President to the country, Bush addressed the newly signed Strategic Framework Agreement, a security pact that, according to Bloomberg "sets June 30, 2009, as the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns. The date for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq is December 31, 2011."

As Bush spoke to a room of reporters, an Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, flung the two shoes as Bush managed to duck both lodges.

According to CNN, as was pinned down and then dragged away, al -Zaidi, screamed out in Arabic ""This is a farewell ... you dog!"

“All I can report is it is a size 10,? Bush said after the incident.

Bloomberg reported that "In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect."

Although both articles generally presented the same information, Bloomberg included information about President-elect Obama's plans for action and the effects that Bush's previous visits to the country will have on Obama's plans.

I also noticed that quotes were different, but essentially meant the same thing. For instance, CNN reported that the al-Zaidi said "This is a farewell ... you dog!" While Bloomberg reported that al-Zaidi said, “This is the farewell kiss, you dog.?

Divers find body of Edina woman in Mississippi River

The body of a 39 year-old woman from Edina was pulled from the Mississippi River on Wednesday.

Lisa Gustincic was found under the partially frozen river, that was according to Sun Newspapers, " in 8 feet of water about 125 feet from shore near the Camden Bridge in north Minneapolis, near 47th Street."

The Star Tribune reported that "Divers began searching for a possible missing person after a park worker called in to report a black Labrador retriever running near the Camden Bridge around 2 p.m."

The incident was tipped off by person who a black Labrador retriever pacing back forth near the area and trying to get close to the water. Minneapolis Fire and North Memorial were called to the scene. According to the Star Tribune, "When responders arrived, they found a wet cell phone and gloves near the hole."

Lisa Kiava, a public information officer for the sheriff's office told Sun Newspapers, "In some cases people fall through ice trying to retrieve pets. We don't know if that's the circumstances."

According to Sun Newspapers, the dog ran home on its own.

Both stories provided the same information, and had the same source. The Star Tribune also put the story in to context by citing other incidents, similar to this one. The Star Tribune also talked briefly about the technology that was used to search through the river.

December 7, 2008

Pilot flying from St. Paul dies in plane crash

A 47-year-old pilot from Lake George, NY was flying from St. Paul to New York when he died Saturday after his plane crashed in northern Michigan.

According to the Star Tribune, the plane, a Cessna 206 with one engine "circled in the sky about 18 miles southeast of Traverse City, dipped its wing, clipped some trees, then crashed through the roof of a mobile home around 2:15 p.m. CST."

The occupants of the mobile home, were outside shoveling when the plane crashed. They were not hurt in the wreckage.

Sheriff Bill Artress told the Battle Creek Enquirer that "the men had gone outside between five and 10 minutes before the crash, which left a section of the plane’s wing lodged in the side of the mobile home."

The crash is currently being investigated.

The newspaper from Michigan got some good quotes from the occupants of the mobile home, which helped to round the story out.

Tainted pork in Ireland leads to investigation of other countries

On Saturday, people in Ireland were warned not to consume in pork products because contaminants are believed to be spread in them.

According to Reuters, "The Irish government has recalled all domestic pork products from shops, restaurants and food processing plants because of contamination with dioxin -- which in some forms and concentrations, and with long exposure, can cause cancer and other health problems."

Dioxins can easily enter an animal's system due to its food ingestion or the environment it lives in, and remains in the pigs fat.

The government issued a recall on pork products dating back to Sept. 1 " after discovering potentially dangerous dioxins in pigs and pig feed at 80 to 200 times the safety limit." (Associated Press)

The Associated Press reported that "The government’s warning that Irish pork may have been tainted for months threatens a pig industry worth more than $600 million annually."

Because Irish pork is also consumed heavily in other countries, the government has also began an investigation as to whether the contamination has spread elsewhere such as Asia and Europe.

While both articles presented similar information, the article by the Associated Press presented all of the essential facts and was written for a reader who had never heard of this story. The article by Reuters was more of a feature that included interviews from families from Ireland and more quotes from various officials in Ireland.

David Gregory named new Meet the Press Host

Meet the Press Interim host Tom Brokaw officially announced David Gregory as the new host to take over beginning next Sunday.

Brokaw has been filling in since this past summer, after the unexpected death of Tim Russert in June

Yahoo News reported that other TV correspondents, "Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd and Gwen Ifill had also been under consideration."

Gregory is quoted as saying in the Hartford Courant, "I'm honored and deeply humbled as I take on this role," Gregory, 38, in a statement. "I'm filled with a great sense of purpose as I join a superb team to cover Washington and the world from a treasured platform in our country. Above all, I want to make Tim proud."

The Hartford Courant, while presenting hard news facts, was also an op-ed piece that talked one-sidedly about the negative aspects of Gregory's hiring. It mentioned Gregory's strained relationships with President Bush's spokespersons.

November 30, 2008

Guilty plea in prostitution charges for New Brighton City Council member

David Phillips, a member of the New Brighton City Council has pleaded guilty in the misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.

Under the Alford Plea, Phillips is not admitting to committing the crime, but acknowledges that a sufficient amount of evidence exists for him to be charged and possibly found guilty.

Phillips went to the Days Inn on University Ave on Feb. 25 to meet with an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute. After handing the officer a 100 dollar bill and subsequently removing his clothing he was arrested.

Along with $828 in fines, Phillips has also been ordered by a judge to complete “john school.? According to the Star Tribune, a “john school? is “a program for people convicted of hiring prostitutes -- remain law-abiding and maintain contact with his probation officer.?

According to the Sun Newspaper for New Brighton, “Larson said Phillips will likely remain on the council? until his term is up on Dec. 31, 2011. “If he had been charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, [Phillips] would be required to leave the council.?

Upon completing his probation orders, Phillips’ misdemeanor will be erased from his record in one year.

Even though this was a breaking news story on the Sun’s website, and obviously a popular story in the city of
New Brighton, the Star Tribune had a considerable amount of more coverage, including important quotes from another city council member and details of the arrest as well as Phillips’ charges and fines.

NPR journalist experiences car bombing in Baghdad

A bomb attached to the car of an NPR reporter and three Iraqi colleagues went off as it sat parked on a street in West Baghdad. All four escaped injury.

Reporter Ivan Watson stood nearly fifteen feet away while interviewing two area shop owners when the car exploded due to a bomb that was placed underneath the driver’s seat of the “armored? BMW.

Watson reportedly told NPR that the “bomb appeared to have been one of the so-called sticky bombs that insurgents have increasingly used to lethal effect in Baghdad over the past year.?

According to the Associated Press, several anonymous Iraqi soldiers “said they had arrested a suspect, an egg vendor who had suspected family links to a member of al-Qaida in Iraq.?

NPR reported that an “Iraqi army officer said an informant had called in with a tip that the bomb had been attached to the BMW while the NPR journalists were inside the restaurant.?

Because increased security in Baghdad has stalled the use of truck bombs as of recently, “sticky bombs? have come to replace the former as they are attached to many vehicles daily.

I really enjoyed reading the story by NPR because the entire article came from a direct source that was actually there and had experienced everything. Reading an article in the first person was a different experience, but it made me trust the information that was being relayed to me more.

I also noticed that NPR mentioned the street where the bombing happened and then gave the history of the street, which was a great addition to the story and very interesting to read.
“Rabiye Street was once a bustling commercial boulevard, where boutiques and popular cafes faced the gardens of a grassy median. At the height of the fighting in 2005, 2006 and 2007, this district was the scene of intense clashes and bloody massacres involving insurgents from al-Qaida in Iraq.?

I found it interesting that in the Associated Press’s article, the author said that the Iraqi soldiers who arrested the vendor remained anonymous due to media relations policies, yet in the NPR account, one of the soldiers was named. "I received a call just three minutes before it exploded," said Iraqi national army Capt. Heider Fawzi. (NPR)

New age limit set for safe-haven law in Nebraska

State legislators in Nebraska met on Wednesday to discuss changing the age limit of the controversial safe-haven law.

According to BBC News, “The law passed in July was intended to prevent vulnerable parents abandoning newborn babies in potentially dangerous situations.?

Based on a 41 to 6 vote lawmakers decided to limit the age in which children are allowed to be dropped off to 30 days or less. Previously, no age limit had been set for the law even though every other state had an age limit.
The consensus among the majority of the legislators is that local hospitals and social services in Nebraska have inundated with older children and teenagers.

According to CNN, “Nebraska's safe haven law was intended to allow parents to hand over an infant anonymously to a hospital without being prosecuted.?

Jen Rae Hein, communications director for the governor told CNN, “The abandonment of these children -- and the harm it is causing them -- is an immediate concern.?

The revised law will be signed by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman on Friday.

Although I was familiar with what this law was about, and had followed several specific stories of families dropping their (older) off at local hospitals, I felt that CNN did a good job in using several examples of this issue throughout this story to put the issues in to context. I also thought this article had several powerful quotes, or money quotes from people in the story, and the author’s use of transitions for the quotes helped to weave the story along.

November 23, 2008

Four-day strike in Chile leads to workers pay increase

A four-day strike in Santiago, Chile ended on Friday after the government approved a proposal for a ten percent pay raise for all government employees.

The pay increase, which goes in to effect Dec. 10 had been subjected to different amounts based on negotiations between the workers and the government. The workers originally asked for a 14.5 percent increase while the government first offered a 6.5 percent increase which they then increased days later to 9.5 percent. According to the Brunei Times, the government “was forced to improve its offer again after the Lower House of Congress rejected a 9.5 per cent increase.?

According to, “Because of the strike, garbage piled up on streets, 18 hospitals were paralyzed and 3,000 surgeries were postponed. Even weddings and autopsies were not performed.? reported the number of employees affected as being 450,000 while the Brunei Times reported 400,000.

I found it interesting that the Brunei Times put this (random) political spin on the situation: “…the latest in a series of protests against President Michelle Bachelet's ruling centre-left coalition, which polls show could be ousted by rightist opponents in a presidential election next year.? I feel like in order to write something like this, the reporter needed to offer other information regarding this issue, especially for people who aren’t familiar with the current political climate of Chile.

A good deed that went a long way: Family gives away free vegetables on farm

Around 40,000 people showed up to a farm in Platteville, CO where a family was giving away free vegetables.

On Saturday, the Miller Family gave away free potatoes, carrots and leeks on the Weld County farm located near Denver’s town of Platteville. After hearing that food was being stolen from local churches, the Millers decided to open their farm up to the public for the first time.

Chris Miller told the Associated Press that "People obviously need food."

The Denver Post reported that the Millers “expected between 5,000 and 10,000 people spread out over a couple of days. Instead, they found themselves on Saturday morning inundated with cars and people with sacks and wagons and barrels ready to harvest whatever was available.?

Sandra Justice told the Associated Press, “"Everybody is so depressed about the economy. This was a pure party, everybody is having a great time getting something for free.?

The second day of gleaning, picking up leftover food on a farm, was cancelled for Sunday. Chris Miller told the Denver Post, “the pickins' are very slim now."

Both articles painted a very nice picture of the Miller family and all that they do for their community, but I think that the Associated Press’ article should have made a stronger connection to this story and the state of the economy.

Reading the Denver Post’s story, I was able to truly understand the desperation of folks in the community as the reporter included a section in the article that mentioned incidents near Denver where people have resorted to stealing food for the holidays.

“Evidently, Platteville isn't the only place where this is the case. Last week in Denver, thieves broke into freezers owned by the Park Hill Grandparents Organization and stole Thanksgiving trimmings — including more than a dozen frozen turkeys — set to be donated.?

The article also mentioned nearby places that were giving away food as well, putting somewhat of a positive spin on the situation/story.

“And in Lakewood on Saturday, people lined up in the dark at 6 a.m. to collect Thanksgiving boxes, donated by the Jeffco Action Center. By the end of the day, 5,141 people had gotten food — the biggest demand in 40 years.?

I also realize that because the Denver Post is a local paper, they may have easier access to this type of information.

Fallen officers honored in St. Paul ceremony

The group known as the Minnesota Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors held its annual service in remembrance of area police officers that were killed in the line of duty.

The Blue Light Holiday Ceremony was held Sunday evening on the State Capitol grounds near the Peace Officers Memorial. The Star Tribune reported that appearances will be made by “by family members of fallen Lino Lakes officer Shawn Silvera and fallen Minneapolis Park Police officer Mark Bedard.?

The ceremony will also feature the traditional blue lights as well as musical performances by local artists.

According to, “the color blue is associated with law enforcement,? and the group is requesting that “businesses and the public to display blue lights over the holidays.?

Initially, I was drawn to this story because I have several family members who are on the police force. The
Examiner website provided essential information, yet the Star Tribune’s account provided extra information on what Project Blue Light is about.

November 16, 2008

Rebels suspected of killing Peru police officers in ambush

At around 2:30 a.m. police were patrolling an area known for drug trafficking in the Ayacucho province when, according to the Associated Press, “attackers opened fire on their vehicle from both sides of a highway…?

A national police communiqué told the UK Associated Press that “the Shining Path Rebels are suspected of the killing of the four highway police officers.?

The Shining Rebels are known around the area as “narcoterrorists,? who work with local drug traffickers who pay the Shining Rebels for protection.

According the Associated Press, “One officer died in the attack, two died from gunshot wounds in a hospital and the fourth was in critical condition, police said.?

Interior Minister Remigio Hernani told the UK Associated Press that “the attackers may have been retaliating for police seizures of drugs.?

The US Associated Press’s story provided more background information on the history of Shining Path Rebels, which was useful because I had never heard of them. Also the term “narcoterrorists? was explained which was helpful.

Smoking allowed again in Atlantic City Casinos

After only a month of “clean air? the no smoking ban on Atlantic City’s 11 casinos that was passed by the City Council last April has been repealed.

On Sunday at 12:01a.m. patrons were allowed to light their cigarettes up again. According the Press of Atlantic City, “the month-long smoking ban was blamed by gaming executives for scaring away customers.?

The Press of Atlantic City reported that “Smoking will resume on 25 percent of the casino floor as part of the city's previous restrictions on tobacco use. Customers may also use new smoking lounges that don't contain any slot machines or gaming tables.?

The Associated Press reported that “the financial meltdown rocked the economy and led to even steeper declines at the casinos.?

Trump Entertainment Resorts CEO Mark Juliano told the Associated Press that “at least now there's an even playing field with out-of-state slot parlors.?

Too bad this had to happen, as an asthmatic the first and only time I went to a casino was when I went to Mystic Lake. Not sure what all the hoopla was about, but I was sick for almost two weeks afterwards. Why couldn’t they only allow smoking in the “lounges??

Lawsuits against the friends of Amanda Jax dropped

The family of Amanda Jax, a 21-year-old who died from alcohol poisoning last year after a night of extreme drinking on her birthday has decided to drop all charges against Jax’s former friends. The lawsuit is now only against the bar where Jax and her friends were drinking on the night of Oct. 29.

Blattner Enterprises, who owns the now defunct Sidelines Bar & Grill in Mankato, is being sued by Jax’s family for over $ 50,000.

According to the Star Tribune, “In its claims against the bar, the suit says bartender Beau Ryan ignored Amanda's obvious state of intoxication.?

The bar owners, Craig and Adam Blattner, have denied these allegations.

Jax had a blood-alcohol content of almost 0.46 percent when she was found dead the next morning in a friend’s apartment. That amount is almost six times the legal limit allowed for driving.

The Free Press in Mankato
reported that according to police reports, “The friends told police they had spent two or three hours drinking at the bar with Jax. They drank pitchers of “Long Island iced teas,? shots of alcohol and beer.?

“Jax seemed nearly unconscious when she was carried out of the bar, brought to the apartment and laid on her side in a bedroom, the friends told police. She was alive when someone checked on her at 2:30 a.m. When someone checked on her again at 7 a.m., she was dead.?

While I am sorry for this family’s loss, I just don’t think that making her friends responsible for Amanda’s actions is right. I do hold the bar accountable, but I’m not sure how realistic it is to sue them, I mean even if the bartenders would have stopped serving her and friends, what if they just went to another bar? It happens all the time.