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September 28, 2008

Calif. Gov. Schwarzenegger signs 100 plus bills, among them 10 wild-fire related

On Saturday, measures were taken to put a stop to wildfire devastation of homes and acres of forests as Gov. Schwarzenegger signed 10 bills related to a wildlife and emergency preparedness initiative in California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the laws now require “residents in high-hazard areas…to clear brush from a 100-foot perimeter around their homes.?

The L.A. Times reported that the brush clearance laws, which take effect Jan. 1, “are meant to create a "defensible zone" for firefighters around homes in certain wooded, brushy and hillside areas.?

According to the Associated Press, Schwarzenegger said that "This year California has already faced a destructive fire season with more than 2,000 fires burning about 1.2 million acres, underscoring the importance of legislation signed today that will help us do even more to prevent these fires from starting in the first place.?

Another one of the 10 bills signed by the governor included the merging the Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the Office of Homeland Security, which according to the AP, “will deal with wildfires, earthquakes, floods and other disasters.?

The new laws are a part of a package that Schwarzenegger hopes will better prepare officials with effectively fighting wild fires and providing aid to disaster victims.

The L.A. Times reports that “other measures in the package would make sure California forests are better managed against tree-killing pests and make it easier for fire departments to access firefighting equipment and private donations.?

Both stories provide the reader recounts of bills that were signed or vetoed, however the L.A. Times devoted a bit more coverage to this aspect of the story. This seems appropriate as the newspaper is based in California, where all readers will be affected by the new laws and perhaps the vetoed laws.

Mother and son die from cow disease in Spain

Months after a man died from mad cow disease, government officials confirmed Wednesday that his mother died from the same illness last month.

According to a report from CNN, the director of Spain's national research center for mad cow disease, Juan Jose Badiola said that, “It is believed to be the first case in the world where two members of the same family have died from mad cow disease.?

Channel NewsAsia reports that,? Scientists believe the disease was caused by using infected parts of cattle to make feed for other cattle.?

CNN also reported that officials said, “Spain has taken steps to avoid mad cow disease, and there is no danger from eating meat.?

CNN reports that, Badiola said that “It's likely the mother and son contracted the disease before stricter controls against mad cow disease began in 2001 in Spain.?

According to CNN, Spain’s health ministry said that safety measures were carried out “after the first cases of mad cow disease appeared in the United Kingdom, [including] isolating infected animals and prohibiting cattle feed of animal origin or with animal proteins

CNN reports that Badiola said that the mother and son ate similar parts of animals including kidneys, livers and possibly brains.

Badiola reported to CNN that “researchers will try to determine whether the mother and son shared a genetic structure that might have been more prone to contracting the illness.?

Names of both victims have not been released.

This is the first case of the disease since 2005 when a 26-year-old woman died near the city of Madrid.

According to Channel NewsAsia, “More than 200 people around the world are suspected to have died, most of them in Britain, from the human variant of the disease, which was first described in 1996.?

CNN’s account of the story provides the reader with more background information than Channel NewsAsia’s story. CNN provides information on other mad cow disease cases not just in Spain, but worldwide. The story also gives information about the two victims which readers might find useful. Although Channel NewsAsia devoted less coverage to the story, they gave the official name for Mad Cow Disease, something that I didn’t know and wanted to find out.

Somali college sudent shot and killed In Minneapolis

A freshman at Augsburg College was shot and killed Monday as he walked home from volunteering at a community center located in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

Minneapolis police responded to the call of a reported shooting near the Brian Coyle Community Center where Ali volunteered on a regular basis, shortly after 5 p.m.

The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a report from the Star Tribune, “Family members who gathered at the site were upset that the victim's body remained outside the center for hours after the shooting as police conducted their investigation.? Because of the “cultural and religious customs? of Somalis, quick burials are preferred whenever possible.

Salma Hussein, a member of the University of Minnesota Student Association told the Minnesota Daily that, “all members of the [Somali Student Association] returned to the scene of the shooting around 8 p.m. Monday and attended an on-scene lecture by a St. Paul Imam—a community Islamic leader—stressing non violence.?

The Star Tribune reports that Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said that detectives are unsure of what led to the shootings and that it was “too early? to know if this shooting was connected to other shootings in the area associated with gang rivalries.

According to the Minnesota Daily, Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center said that “no one would have had a reason to kill Ali.?

Augsburg College as well as community members gathered Tuesday in remembrance of Ali at the Foss Chapel.

As of Sunday no arrests have been made.

While both news accounts reported the same crucial facts to the story, I noticed that the Star Tribune’s story added an important element to its story by including the effect of the shooting on the Cedar-Riverside and Augsburg communities in its story. The Star Tribune also gives the reader information about the Somali population in that area.
With stories like these, an eye witness account adds depth to the story, and the Star Tribune included that; “Two women who identified themselves as Ali's sisters wept and embraced as they stood near the yellow tape police used to secure the area. They would not talk to reporters. Other relatives also declined to be interviewed and asked reporters to respect their privacy.?

I found it interesting that the Daily did not mention the role that gang rivalry among Somalis might have played in this case since the issue is not only something that Minneapolis has been dealing with for almost a year, but it’s on campus. In my opinion, The Daily should have written a follow up story like the Star Tribune.

September 21, 2008

Mbeki Ousted as South Africa's President

Following a years-long battle between current President Thabo Mbeki and politician Jacob Zuma, Mbeki was forced to resign after Zuma was cleared of corruption charges.

Zuma, the current president of the African National Congress, defeated Mbeki in the Presidential race in December 2007 only to be served an indictment later that month on various corruption charges.

While addressing the nation, Mbeki’s speech reflected on the good and bad during his term while choosing not to place the blame of his dilemma on any one.

According to the Pioneer Press, a judge declared Zuma the victim of a scheme by the political party to sabotage his chances of becoming South Africa’s next president.

Yahoo News also reported specifically that prosecutors in the Zuma case were politically pressured by the Mbeki administration to damage Zuma’s campaign.

In the Los Angeles Times coverage of the story, Mbeki is quoted as saying, “I would like to state this categorically that we have never done this and therefore never compromised the right of the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whom it intended to prosecute or not prosecute, this applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the president of the ANC, Comrade Jacob Zuma."

With the sudden departure of Mbeki, South Africa’s future is clouded with doubt and instability.

Although the South African Parliament is scheduled to vote on an interim president, it is widely believed that African National Congress Chairwoman Baleka Mbete will take the reins.

With the ANC as the majority, it is expected that Zuma will become president after elections take place.

Deaf Studies Minor Available University of Minnesota Duluth Students

Thanks to the dedication and persistence of the UMD student group Access for All, a deaf studies minor has been approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents last spring.

Access for All wanted to increase the amount of American Sign Language classes available to students on campus so they decided to hold an open meeting to voice their concerns. Among those invited were school officials, citizens, students, and lawmakers.

According to the news report by the Duluth News Tribune, members of Access for All said that the long waiting lists for ASL classes were keeping students from signing up.

In the Pioneer Press’ coverage of the story, Paul Deputy, the dean of the College of Education and Human Service Professions was quoted as saying, “The chancellor heard the message and said, 'We're going to fund this.? He also added, "I hold these students up as a model for how the political system can work with dialogue."

The popularity of this minor has already made its impression as the number of students enrolled in ASL classes has increased by 85 students from 2007 to 2008.

Both newspapers devoted an equal amount of the same information to their respective articles, however, the first thing I noticed about the Duluth News Tribune was their lead for the story, For those who think college students sometimes lack initiative, ponder this: “A new deaf studies minor is offered at UMD this fall, and a student group was the driving force behind it.?

I found it to be slightly subjective, but their partiality might be due to the fact that the newspaper is from Duluth.

September 14, 2008

Milk Powder Contamination in China Sickens 432 Infants

Officials in China are amid an investigation concerning the overwhelming number of ill babies due to contaminated milk powder.

The source of contamination is melamine, a chemical that farmers and milk dealers use to water down the milk and then sell to the Sanlu Group, a company that produces milk powder.

According to Reuters, “Farmers or dealers supplying milk to Sanlu may have diluted it with water and then added melamine, a substance used in plastics, fertilizers and cleaning products, to make the milk's protein level appear higher than it actually was.?

Gao Qiang, health minister in China told Channel NewsAsisa, “As of September 12, there are 432 cases of kidney stones in the urinary systems of infants according to reports from health departments nationwide.?

Reuters reports that authorities in the province of Hebei have ordered the discontinuation of the milk powder products that were made before the date of August 6. On the other hand, Yahoo News reports that Minister Gao said that Sanlu had already started recalling the product beginning in March this year.

It should be noted that after the Sanlu Group began receiving complaint from customers about urine discoloration in their infants, they decided to withhold the information and not report it to the government.

Story links:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/375667/1/.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSPEK33424020080914?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080913/ts_afp/chinafoodsafetychild_080913131418

Safety Overrules Beauty for New Minneapolis Bridge

The new Minneapolis Bridge opened last week; reports from the Associated Press and Twin Cities.com (Pioneer Press) differ in regards to the bridge completion’s much later deadline.

From ap.org: “Time also was a factor, since the old steel girder span's collapse on Aug. 1, 2007 — killing 13 people and injuring more than 100 — severed a major transportation link through the heart of the Twin Cities.? “This week's opening will come about three weeks ahead of schedule.?

Twincities.com said that the bridge was originally due for completion by Dec. 24th of this year.

While some hoped that those involved in reconstructing the bridge would take the opportunity to build a “tourist? friendly bridge, the features of safety and functionality overruled beauty and boldness.

The Associated Press reports, “Government officials opted for practicality over pretension.?The first goal was to have a bridge that was safe and effective," Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said.

This time around, extreme precautions to preserve and protect the structure and security of the bridge were major factors during construction.

The Pioneer Press reports that sensor meters will be used to gauge the “expansion joints and bearings,? two components of a bridge that are used to evaluate its exact condition.

All of the information that the monitors receive is sent directly to MnDOT engineers where they are able to monitor every component of the bridge.

John Chiglo, project manager for MnDOT tells the Pioneer Press, “built-in technology gives MnDOT a look at the bridge it can't get with other bridges.?

With all of the technology that’s going in to this bridge, it’s serving as a learning tool for those involved with bridge construction.

Story links:
http://www.twincities.com/ci_10455168?nclick_check=1
http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/us/2008/09/14/D936L7FG0_bridge_collapse_new_design/index.html

Trained Dog Saves Owner, Dials 911 During Seizure

Buddy, an 18 month-old German shepherd saved Joe Stalnaker’s life by dialing 911 as his owner began to experience a stroke.

According to the Arizona Republic, in the event that Stalnaker blacked out or couldn’t make the call on his own, he trained Buddy at the age of 8 months to retrieve the phone and use his teeth to press buttons programmed to a 911 center.

AOL News reports that the Scottsdale Police were sent to Stalnaker’s home after the 911 center received a call from Buddy who was both whimpering and barking.

Clark who calls the event “pretty incredible? says that, “Even the veteran dispatchers — they haven't heard of anything like this." (AOL News)

Scottsdale Police Sgt. Mark Clark said that after two days in the hospital, Stalnaker has recovered from the seizure.
Stalnaker told Arizona Republic that Buddy has made several other 911 calls in the past.

Story links:
http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/2008/09/13/20080913buddy-ON.html
http://news.aol.com/article/trained-dog-calls-911-save-owner/173238

September 8, 2008

What's goin on?

What's goin on?