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.

December 7, 2008

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

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

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.

November 16, 2008

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??

November 9, 2008

Florida high school votes to keep school named after Klansman

A school board in Florida voted Monday night to keep the name of a majority black high school named after Ku Klux Kan leader Nathan Bedford.

Fox News reported that “Forrest High got its name in 1959, when the Daughters of the Confederacy, angry about the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision forcing school integration, pushed for the name.?

According to the Associated Press, “after hearing about three hours of public comments, Duval County School Board members voted 5-2 to the retain the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School.? The two votes against the name where made by the school board’s only two African American members.

More than 140 people huddled in the board room to listen to arguments on both side, and 20 other people watched the meeting on a television in another room.

Brenda Priestly Jackson, one of two African Americans on the school board told the Associated Press that “(Forrest) was a terrorist and a racist."

Jackson also told Fox News, “I was actually in shock when I read the item, we had three hours of public comment, and I kid you not, you would have thought you'd gone back to some other place and time."

June Cooper, who is white, told the Associated Press that “Cooper was a good man, and that he was a military genius."

The Associated Press reported that “Some had suggested naming the school after the street it sits on, or honoring a graduate whose plane was shot down in 1991 over Iraq on the first night of Operation Desert Storm.?

This is the second time in two years that the school board has voted on this issue.

November 2, 2008

Double cheeseburger to be replaced on McDonalds’ menu

McDonalds’ new cheeseburger, the McDouble will soon take the place of the classic double cheeseburger as a way to increase profits for the chain.

According to BloggingStocks, “The new cheeseburger will be a little less cheesy, with two beef patties but only one slice of cheese.? The new burger “will cost about six cents less to make.?

Blogging Stocks reported that “…McDonald's will attempt to market the new burger as healthier, eliminating one slice of cheese hacks off 15% of the fat and 11% of the calories.?

Although the double cheeseburger has been a staple item on the dollar menu, the proposed price for the McDouble is $1.19. The Chicago Tribune reported that the “switch stems from soaring commodity costs, which have reduced profits from the dollar menu.?

McDonalds’ franchises have experienced a raise in ingredient costs.

Morningstar Stock analyst John Owens told the Chicago Tribune that hiking the cost of ingredients has “hurt the profitability of the items on the dollar menu, even though it's driving traffic to the restaurants."

Analysts estimate that the McStingy will cost about six cents less to make -- combined with the company's plan to raise the price to about the dollar mark, it could spell increased profitability for the chain.

Reading the two articles on this story has really stressed to me the importance of always reading more than one source on a story. The Chicago Tribune’s story on the new burger contained essential information, but the story by the BloggingStocks presents information on the story surrounding the current economic situation.

The BloggingStocks’ article had details about the new burger included, something that readers are probably interested in.

October 26, 2008

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.?

October 19, 2008

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

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.

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.

September 14, 2008

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.

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