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October 26, 2008

Woman killed in St. Paul double shooting

An 18-year-old woman, 24-year-old man, and another man fell victim to a random shooting near Sixth Street East and Forest Street in St. Paul on Saturday.

St. Paul police told the Star Tribune that Jaques Dortch and James Jones Fields were in a car when they were shot at around 9:35 p.m. After the shooting, Fields, the driver of the vehicle, drove to a nearby gas station for help.

Police spokesman told the Pioneer Press that one of the car windows was “shot out pretty good.?

The other man, who was in the backseat of the vehicle is said to be Fields’ brother, according to Alan Lorge an employee at M&H gas station, who recalled his interaction with Fields in the Star Tribune.

Jah'ne Dortch, the younger Dortch’s mother told the Star Tribune that she believes that Fields and the other man were the intended targets.

Jaques Dortch, died at the scene and Fields is expected to fully recover.

The Star Tribune reported that “authorities have not publicly discussed a possible motive or indicated if it was gang-related.?

No arrests have been made as of Sunday evening.

The Star Tribune’s article presented more information overall than the Pioneer Press’ coverage. I noticed that both stories had been updated within an hour of each other, and that the Pioneer Press still lacked important information that the Star Tribune had such as the victim’s names. This puzzled me.

The Pioneer Press’ article was entirely based off of quotes Peter Panos, who is only one source, so I’m not sure that you could even call this a “story.?

Texas inmate discovered making threatening phone calls to senator

An inmate who has been on death row since last year for killing two men and two teenage girls in a shooting spree in Texas made threatening phone calls to a Texas senator.

From a smuggled cell phone, 29-year-old Richard Tabler made phone calls sporadically to Sen. John Whitmire telling him that he knew the names of Whitmire’s daughters and where they lived.

The Associated Press reported that authorities began investigating the phone calls on Oct. 7 and Texas Gov. Rick Perry “ordered the lockdown of the state's 111 prisons and a system-wide search for contraband.?

The Courant reported, “State Sen. John Whitmire, chairman of the state Senate Criminal Justice Committee, said in an emergency meeting Tuesday with prison administrators that he was ‘disgusted with our prison officials’ for failing to stop rampant security failures.?

According to the Associated Press’ report, Tabler is quoted as telling the American-Statesman newspaper, "I want to know how an inmate on death row gets a cell phone in the first place, and then how they and other inmates can make thousands of calls in a month without getting caught."

Along with Nabler, nine other inmates used the cell phone, which had around 2,800 outgoing calls in the past 30 days.

The Associated Press reported that Tabler’s mother, 60-year-old Lorraine Tabler, “was arrested and accused of buying minutes for the phone.?

The Associated Press reported that “Perry's office said a bribed corrections officer was believed to be the source of the phone. The officer's name and whether he or she had been apprehended were not disclosed.?

According to the Courant, “Prison authorities acknowledged some contraband has slipped through metal detectors but said internal policy prohibited patting down all correctional officers who enter prison facilities. They said low salaries and big pay-offs likely enticed the guards to smuggle contraband.?

John Moriarty, inspector general of Texas’ prison system told the courant, "All it takes is one (guard) and you've got a big problem," Moriarty said. "He can bring in a lot of phones and a lot of contraband."

Authorities say that more arrests will be made in the future.

The Courant provides more details on the story; in their article they explain why the guards are enticed to break the law, which might be an important piece of information to those who aren’t familiar with the rampant corruption in US prison systems.

The Courant also provided details on the emergency meeting, providing examples of what lawmakers discussed. “[Whitmire] and other state senators on the panel also pressed authorities to make immediate security changes, including pat downs of guards, the installation of more metal detectors and cameras, and the use of drug-sniffing dogs.?

Man kills wife over Facebook posting

On Feb. 18 Michael Forrester, 34 drove to the home of his estranged wife in a jealous rage and stabbed her to death with a knife and meat cleaver.

Several days after Forrester moved out of the family’s home, Emma modified her profile on the popular networking site to “single,? an action that “humiliated? and “devastated? Forrester.

Forrester was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he murdered Emma, mother-of-two, as she slept in her Croydon, South London home.

BBC News reported that “[Forrester] beat her, tore out clumps of her hair, and repeatedly stabbed her in the head and neck.?

The Guardian reported that “neighbors who heard screaming called police, who found him sitting outside covered in blood, and he confessed to the killing.? "It is my wife’s. She is in there. I have killed her," he said.

After moving out, Forrester made phone calls to Emma’s parents complaining of his wife’s actions and even calling Emma threatening to kill her.

Despite being married for 15 years, the union became unstable recently.

According to the Guardian, Prosecutor Alex Lewis called the marriage “volatile? and that his wife was sometimes forced to hold two jobs, “to support herself and her husband who was often out of work.?

The Guardian reported that the “relationship deteriorated further over Christmas last year and her husband finally moved out on Valentine's Day.?

According to BBC News, “Forrester, who pleaded guilty to murder, was ordered to serve a minimum term of 14 years.?

The Guardian presents more descriptive details than BBC News, giving an actual account of the crime. Their story also provides detailed information on the marriage that the BBC News article does not contain.

Also, in The Guardian’s article, several key quotes from the suspect are included. Although the quotes are disturbing, they are useful in telling the story, and provide a context for the tale.

I found it interesting that although both articles presented almost the same information in different sections of the article, both pieces ended with the same kicker quote from the victim’s sister.

“What on earth could Emma have done to result in such a brutal, callous attack on a defenceless woman?"

October 19, 2008

Court hearings resume in case of murdered British student

Prosecutors accused 21-year-old Amanda Knox of murdering her British Housemate, Meredith Kercher, 21, in a Satanic rite in a closed-door court hearing on Saturday.

Breaking News reported that the “court in Perugia was told yesterday Knox’s Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24 held Miss Kercher down as Rudy Hermann Guede tried to sexually assault her."

CNN reported that Luca Maori, lawyer for Sollecito said that Prosecutors described the scene as “Amanda allegedly first touching Meredith with the point of a knife, then slitting her throat, while Sollecito held her by the shoulders, from behind, Guede held her by an arm and tried to sexually penetrate her.?

Lawyers for Guede have requested a fast-track trial, which can sometimes result in a lighter sentencing. Guede has admitted to being in the bedroom where Kercher’s body was found in November 2007.

Knox, who asked to make her statement in English, declared her innocence and her lawyer Luciano Ghirga said that Knox was upset as she recounted "the pressure, the aggressiveness of the police who called her a liar,? according to Breaking News.

According to both reports, “Italian TV showed a brief, partial view of Knox as she addressed the court. Only her hands, busily gesticulating, could be seen. There was no audio.?

According to Breaking News, “A ruling on prosecutors’ request for their indictment is expected at the end of October.?

Both Knox and Sollecito have given conflicting statements to the court.

All three suspects have maintained their innocence throughout the trials.

Both articles, presented the reader with all of the relevant information regarding the case, however Breaking News devoted more details in the case. For instance, the article provided specifics on the conflicting statements between Knox and Sollecito.

Breaking News also provided important background information about the Italian Laws concerning this case, “Knox and Sollecito have been jailed as suspects since shortly after the killing. Under Italian law, they can be jailed for as long as a year during the investigation.?

Norm Coleman suspends all campaign negative ads in Senate Race

In a dramatic turn of events, Sen. Norm Coleman announced last week that he has decided to end all attack ads against opponent Al Franken.

The Washington Post reports Coleman as saying, “At times like this, politics should not add to negativity -- it should lift people up with hope and a confident vision for the future."

Critics have questions Coleman’s tactics, citing the controversy surrounding the purchasing of his suits and the issue of his poll ratings falling.

Coleman reminded people that the only ads he can control are the ones that say “I’m Norm Coleman, and I approve of this message,? but he asked the National Republican organizations to also end their on-air attacks against Franken as well.

MinnPost notes that Coleman “made a similar request during his first Senate campaign in 2002, when Sen. Paul Wellstone died in plane crash just days before the election.?

Coleman also warned that some negative ads may already be in circulation and can’t be stopped.

According to MinnPost, “Coleman said his new ads will talk about his record and what he can do for the state and the country. He says he will deal with attack ads by others only with a response defending his record, not with a counter-punch.?

Franken’s campaign remains skeptical of Coleman’s move.

Andy Barr, Franken’s campaign spokesman called Coleman’s decision “a stunt… [a] cynical ploy designed to change the subject and avoid scrutiny of his own record.?

The campaign of Dean Barkley, Coleman’s other opponent shares similar feelings.

Christopher Truscott, a spokesman for Dean Barkley told MinnPost that Coleman’s plan was an “‘11th hour act’ that ‘seems a little desperate.’"

According to MinnPost, “…many believe Barkley's poll numbers have risen dramatically because of the mutual sniping by [Coleman and Franken].?

I noticed that the Washington Post did not devote much on the issue of how Dean Barkley’s campaign is being affected by the “out of control? mudslinging ads between Coleman and Franken. He is the other nominee whose campaign has gained some [positive] attention in the wake of all the drama, people should be aware of how his campaign is being affected, as it could affect the outcome of the race.

Minnpost on the other hand, did devote a good chunk of its campaign to explaining Dean Barkley’s new position in the race. Also, the use of descriptors in the beginning of the story added color, “So it wasn't a shock when he walked solemnly up to a podium in his cavernous campaign headquarters in St. Paul…?

The article also did a good job in equally presenting Coleman’s, Franken’s, and Barkley’s stands on the story.

High school aimed toward LGBT students to open in Chicago

Various studies show that gay and lesbian students are more likely to drop out of high school due to unsafe feelings.

The School for Social Justice Pride Campus, the first Lesbian/Gay/ Bisexual /Transsexual (LGBT) school in Chicago will be open for all students, but will provide a safe and friendly atmosphere for LBGT students who have experienced harassment in other schools.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, “A 2003 district survey shows that gay and lesbian youths are
three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe. On Wednesday, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network released a national survey of more than 6,000 middle and high school students that found that nearly 90 percent were harassed at school and about 61 percent felt unsafe.?

In an article from The Advocate, Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan is quoted as saying, "We want to create great new options for communities that have been traditionally underserved, if you look at national studies, you see gay and lesbian students with high dropout rates. ... I think there is a niche there we need to fill."

Chad Weiden, the selected principal at Pride Campus told the Chicago Tribune that the “school would incorporate lessons about sexual identity in literature and history classes and offer counseling.?

Students throughout the city interested in going the school will be admitted through a lottery procedure and the school will carry the same general requirements as other schools in the district.

Duncan expects the school to enroll mostly straight students. He told the Chicago Sun Times that “many kids should be attracted to its college-prep curriculum and its message of ‘social justice' and ‘tolerance’.?

The Chicago Sun Times reports that “The Pride Campus still needs a location but hopes to open in 2010 and ultimately serve 600 students.?

The final vote for approval of the school will be made by the city’s board of education on Oct. 22.

All three publications provided three different names for the school, so I decided to use the title I saw more frequently in other stories.

While all three stories provided roughly same amount of information, the Chicago Tribune’s article gave some relevant background information with its description of one of the public hearings. The article also presented specific information about the school that the other articles did not mention.

I understand that The Advocate is a nationally circulated publication, but I expected it to contribute more information to the story, especially since story surrounds such a serious and widespread issue that affects many youth.

October 12, 2008

Chaska boy dies after going for a run

Joshua Damptey, a 10-year-old boy collapsed after going for a run with his school’s running club.

According to the Star Tribune, “[Damptey] collapsed at Oak Point Intermediate School around 2:30 p.m. Friday,? and “died shortly after at a local hospital.?

An email was sent out to families notifying them of the death.

Although he had moved with his mother Sylvia and his brother Victor to Chaska, both boys remained in the Eden Prairie School District. According to the Chaska Herald,? [Joshua] previously attended Eden Lake Elementary School and his brother attended Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion School.

Brian Busch recalled to the Star Tribune the boy’s happy memories. “He would ride his bike around happily,? he said.

The Associated Press reported that a cause of death has not been released.

I was very surprised that the Chaska Herald’s article offered very little information compared to other publications, especially considering that the family is from Chaska.

Shooting rampage in Mexico leaves eleven dead

Attackers clothed as police officers opened fire in a bar in Chihuahua State, located in the northern part of Mexico.

Eduardo Esparza, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Chihuahua State told MSNBC that “Shortly before midnight Thursday, unidentified assailants walked into the Rio Rosas bar in the northern city of Chihuahua and
began shooting indiscriminately.?

In a report by Yahoo News, an official from the state attorney’s office reported that among the eleven people killed, “four others were seriously wounded and under armed guard in [the] hospital.?

Security cameras near the bar have footage of the vans used in the attack. Police have begun a search for the vehicles.

MSNBC noted in its article that “Chihuahua State has seen hundreds of murders this year as the government attempts to crack down on warring drug cartels.?

Neither a motive nor suspects have been detained in the shooting.

Yahoo News provided more information and detail on the attack than MSNBC. MSNBC provide in its article that there were four people who were seriously injured.

Although the sources used in the Yahoo News account were anonymous, they provided important details concerning the story.

The articles provided a brief summarization of the crime issue in Chihuahua State, both citing the issue of rampant drug-related attacks.

I also noticed that Yahoo News cited Chihuahua as the most violent state in Mexico. I think this could be considered a subjective statement unless the article provides the statistics that prove it. I’ve read in elsewhere that other states such as Baja California are considered the most violent.

Barack Obama to air half hour ads, days before election

On Oct. 29 Barack Obama has arranged for an extended television commercial, continuing his campaign for US Presidency

According to the New York Times, the commercial, currently titled the “Obama Program? is scheduled to run at 8 p.m. in the time slots of ‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’ on CBS and the first half of the new version of ‘Knight Rider’ on NBC.?

Obama has also scheduled to air the half hour program on NBC. Campaign officials also said that deals with FOX and ABC are in the works.

"It's a luxury to be able to afford that kind of communication," said Tad Devine to the New York Times, who is a Democratic media consultant.

Obama’s spending on ads has dramatically surpassed that of John McCain’s efforts. The Associated Press predicts that Obama “will spend more than $90 million on ads through Election Day — more than all the money Republican rival John McCain has to spend on his entire fall campaign.?

Half hour commercials were common in earlier days where many political figures such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon aired extended commercials during their respective campaigns.

In the New York Times’ article Jim Jordan, a Democratic strategist is quoted saying, “It feels very old-fashioned, very 1960 or something. But the truth is there will be a certain universe of voters, disproportionately female, who are undecided and late checking in, who will be aggressively seeking information at that point.?

According to the New York Times, the content of the commercial has “not been disclosed? as of yet.

Both articles provide readers with pertinent information however the Associated Press’ coverage provided an in depth analysis near the end of the article that commented on current ads out by both nominees. The article also examined the influence that spender has had on the success for both nominees in each state.

October 5, 2008

O.J. Simpson found guilty in armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges

In a verdict that came exactly 13 years after the trial where Simpson was found not guilty for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, a Las Vegas courtroom convicted former football star O.J.
Simpson on all charges stemming from the incident last year in which Simpson and five other men robbed two men in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.

The father of Ronald Goldman shared his thoughts on the trial with the Irish Times, “We're absolutely thrilled to see the potential that he could serve the rest of his life in jail where the scumbag belongs.?

According the Irish Times, “Simpson had heard that the men were selling memorabilia related to his career as a football star that he claimed they had stolen from him.?

The Associated Press reports that the 61-year-old Simpson planned to recover the stolen items so that they would not be given to Ronald Goldman’s family as part of $33.5 million civil wrongful death law suit.

The 12 charges include armed robbery, kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon.

The Irish Times notes that the armed robbery charges include mandatory jail time and the “kidnapping charge carries a possible term of life imprisonment.?

According to the Irish Times, Simpson’s lawyers plan to appeal the ruling, “arguing that the jury, which included no African Americans, had not been properly vetted.

Howard Varinsky, who helped develop the jury, told the Irish Times, “That was the best possible jury prosecutors could ever have, I was surprised that we got all the counts.?
Sentencing will begin Dec. 5.

The Irish Times provides more background on Simpson’s history with the law including the much publicized trial for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. This article also mentions the recent controversy around his unreleased book in which he describes his own hypothetical scenario of the murders of Simpson and Goldman.

After reading the Associated Press’ report, I didn’t feel that enough detail was presented in the article, such as the specifics of the charges, and thoughts from persons involved in the trial.

Hundreds dead after stampede in India

On Tuesday, as thousands of Indian pilgrims stood in line waiting for temple doors to begin the celebration of the Hindu Festival Navratra, a stampede occurred around dawn in Jodhpur.

Ramesh Vyas, a witness who was in line at the temple, told the Associated Press that the stampede occurred because of “false rumors of a bomb.?

The New York Times on the other hand, reported that “the official cause of the stampede was unclear,? but an anonymous source in their account said that “heated arguments took place,? and that people were in a rush before the stampede occurred.

The Associated Press explains that many people in India were already experiencing anxiety since the country had experienced recent bomb attacks. “Tensions are high because India has been hit by a spate of bomb attacks. The latest explosions Monday night in the western cities of Malegaon and Modasa killed six people and wounded 45.?

As the pilgrims rushed to escape the pandemonium, they slipped and fell due to the spilled coconut milk that is used as an offering by devoted religious followers. Also adding to the disarray was a power outage that also caused many of the pilgrims to slip and fall on the very narrow pathway leading to the temple.

Naresh Pal Gangwar, the district collector, told the Associated Press that “At least 168 people were killed in the stampede.? A report from the New York Times said that “Some unconfirmed Indian news accounts reported that the death toll exceeded 168.?

The Associated Press’ report said that officials reported 100 injuries. However, District Chief Civil Servant, Kiran Soni Gupta reported to the New York Times two of the 55 injuries were serious. She also reported to the New York Times that most of the deaths were men who seemed to have died from suffocation.

Dr. D. R. Mathur of Mahatma Gandhi hospital in Jodhpur told the New York Times that “None of the dead bodies have any injury marks. They all died of suffocation.?

The exact number of pilgrims in line is unsure because the Associated Press reports 12,000 pilgrims and the New York Times reports 2,000 to 3,000 pilgrims.

The Associated Press mentions this stampede as this year’s “third disaster? at a religious event in India. That story also gives a glimpse of the history between deadly stampedes and India, mentioning that stampedes are more likely to occur at temples in India where large amounts of people often gather in places that are too small to accommodate a large gathering.

Both stories mention the stampede that occurred last August where 145 people were killed and they also provide the reader with vivid accounts of the stampede through descriptive passages in the openings of their stories.

I found it interesting that the New York Times didn’t have a motive for the stampede in the article, yet the Associated Press did, through a witnesses account.

Also, as I did some research on the story days later, I noticed how much the death toll increased.

Arrest made in Cedar Riverside Shooting

A 16-year-old boy was arrested on Monday in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Augsburg College student Ahmednur Ali.

A group of witnesses who were crowded near the scene of the shooting helped to identify the juvenile as a suspect in the case.

In a report by the Star Tribune, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia was impressed by the community involvement, "It shows the great strides we've made in the past two weeks between the police and community and the partnership we're building.

As of yet, a motive for the killing has not been made public.

According to the Star Tribune, “Police sources say Ali was involved in a dispute and exchanged words with the juvenile, who then shot Ali.? According to police the argument between the two was brief.

During a meeting last Thursday at the Brian Coyle Community Center, community members gathered “not only to mourn the death of yet another young man, but to vent their anger and discuss strategies for dealing with what many who spoke said is the worst crime they have seen in the neighborhood,? according to a report by local community newspaper, The Bridge.

The Bridge also explained that community involvement in helping to solve the case was a central theme expressed in the meeting.

According to the Star Tribune, the meeting prompted an exchange of ideas on the safety and security in the neighborhood. Some ideas included, “adding cameras around the [community center] and nearby Currie Park, [and] hiring security or a police liaison to work during the evenings and adding two Somali outreach workers.?

Since the motive of the shooting is unknown, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia told the Minnesota Daily that “[Police want the witnesses to remain very anonymous for fear of retaliation, we’re leaving that whole witness thing very vague on purpose.?

The Daily noted that police will not make the suspect’s name public unless he is “charged as an adult.?
The Minnesota Daily’s coverage was considerably less than expected as I expressed on my last blog, one would think that since this story is part of a much larger issue that’s so close to “home,? they would devote more to the piece.

I found it interesting that The Bridge did not provide as many details on the suspect as the other two publications did. This article provides a positive spin on this sad story by explaining the importance of community involvement in helping with the case. The author does a nice job of ending the story on an uplifting note, as does the Star Tribune’s account.

The Star Tribune’s story devoted a lot more coverage and detail than the other two stories overall. This included the suspect’s age, whereas the other stories only mentioned that it was a juvenile suspect. Also, their report revealed that the victim and the alleged suspect had a brief exchange of words before the shooting occurred.