October 2012 Archives

The inventor of Gore-Tex gifted the University of Minnesota $10 million to help expand the chemical engineering building on campus, which the university announced on Wednesday, the Star Tribune said.

Robert Gore earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the university in 1963, the Star Tribune said. His donation will contribute to the 40,000-square-foot addition to the Amundson Hall, which is home of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, the Star Tribune said.

After graduating from the university, Gore invented the Gore-Tex, which is a waterproof and breathable fabric constructed from polytetrafluoroethylene, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal said.

The construction for the building is scheduled to start in 2013 and be finished by mid-2014, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal said. The new expansion will allow the department to expand the undergraduate graduating class from 120 to 200 students, the Star Tribune said.

"This building addition comes just in the nick of time to help us accommodate what is a very important new and exciting field," Professor Frank Bates, chair of the department, said to the Star Tribune.

A ceremony for the building will be held Friday afternoon where university President Eric Kaler, who also earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering, will be speaking.

As Hurricane Sandy threatens the eastern states Sunday, evacuation orders have been cast, several airlines have canceled their flights, and schools and transit systems have closed down, the Wall Street Journal said.

At 8 p.m. eastern time, the storm was about 485 miles south of New York City according to the National Hurricane Center, the BBC News said.

The storm, 520 miles across, is moving slowly and could stay over as many as 12 states for over 24 hours, the BBC News said. This could bring up to 25cm of rain, 60cm of snow, and power surges, the BBC News said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered 375,000 people in the city's most vulnerable areas to evacuate, the BBC News said.

"If you don't evacuate you're not just putting your own life in danger, you are also endangering lives of our first responders who would have to rescue you," Bloomberg said to the BBC News.

New York officials closed down the public transit system and closed down all public schools, which they are prepared to leave closed until the storm is cleared, the Wall Street Journal said.

This storm interrupts presidential campaigns as President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney canceled campaign stops on the East coast, the Wall Street Journal said.

The Minnesota Housing board announced on Friday to build, preserve and support 73 statewide affordable housing projects that would total $134 million, the Star Tribune said.

These grants will finance affordable housing by deferred loans, amortizing loans and tax credits, the Pioneer Press said.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said that these projects would support more than 4.500 jobs, the Star Tribune said.

"The projects will ensure thousands of Minnesota families, homeless veterans and low-income individuals have safe and decent places to live," Dayton said to the Star Tribune.

According to the State Housing Finance Commissioner Mary Tingerthal, the money would jelp 3,100 houses statewide, the Pioneer Press said.

These grants offer more than double the amount of funds awarded last year in the bonding bill, the Pioneer Press said.

Some current East metro projects include the Old Home Plaza, Midway Pointe, and Lewis Park Apartments, the Pioneer Press said.

The sex abuse scandal involving the BBC expanded on Thursday when authorities announced that 300 potential victims had accused BBC's well-known television host Jimmy Savile, USA Today said.

Jimmy Savile, who died last year at 84, is "undoubtedly" one of the most prolific sex offenders in recent British history, Scotland Yard officer Peter Spindler told the NY Times.

The number of potential victims increased from 200 to 300 in the past week, the NY Times said. Out of the 130 interviews that the police have conducted with the potential victims, 114 have accuse Savile of sexual harassment ranging from inappropriate touching to rape, the NY Times said.

"It is quite staggering, the number of women," Spinder said to USA Today.

While Savile was known for his charity work at hospitals and homes for children, Savile is accused of using this charity work as a way to target troubled youths who could not report the sexual harassment with credibility, the USA Today said.

Savile had been investigated but never prosecuted for sexual abuse at least half a dozen times, the BBC reported on Wednesday, the NY Times said.

Security flaws in boarding pass barcodes

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Recent security flaws exposed by security researchers show that passengers could know in advance what kind of security measures they will receive at the airport and potentially change these security measures, the Washington Post said.

The barcodes, located on the boarding pass that can be printed 24 hours prior to the flight, can determine if the passenger will encounter the PreCheck security system or not, the BBC News said.

The PreCheck system randomly decides which frequent fliers can skip part of the pre-boarding security process by not requiring the removal of shoes, jackets and belts and allowing laptops to be kept in bags, the BBC News said.

This security flaw could mean that travelers could change the boarding passes to change the type of security screening the will receive at the airport because the barcode is not encrypted, aviation blogger John Butler said, the BBC News said.

"The pre-check system is extremely valuable for making airport screening more efficient," Sen. Charles Schumer said to the Washington Post, "but this has the potential to be a gaping flaw in the system that would be all too easy to exploit."

Two robbers attacked and robbed a man trying to sell a laptop on Craigslist with a 1 million volt stun gun early Sunday, the Star Tribune said.

Dee Allen King, 33, and Ronald Lorenzo Sims, 36, were charged on Monday with two charges each of first-degree aggravated robbery, the Pioneer Press said.

The victim Jeff Hanson survived the attack, the Star Tribune said. Hanson was contacted with someone who was interesting in buying his laptop he advertised on Craigslist and after he met the buyers, he was zapped with the stun gun and robbed, the Star Tribune said.

The police tracked down the vehicle that the robbers had and found the two suspects and a black Zap Baton stun gun in the car, the Star Tribune said.

King already has a felony theft conviction and a federal conviction for bank robbery, the Star Tribune said.

Several robberies connected to Craigslist selling have occurred in the area in the recent years, including a 19-year-old student who was shot to death after trying to buy an iPhone on St. Paul's East Side, the Star Tribune said.

Analysis: ABC News' coverage of Lance Armstrong's speech

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Right after Lance Armstrong gave his speech at the Livestrong 15th anniversary gala, the ABC News reported on the speech and gave the readers a background on the story surrounding Armstrong.

The lead of the article gives background on the Armstrong's loss of positions and focuses on the fact that Armstrong did not apologize or explain the doping allegations that he has been facing recently. A quote by Armstrong follows the lead and features Armstrong's recent difficulties without going into specifics.

The next several paragraphs of the article focus on the doping allegation of Armstrong and the consequences Armstrong will face. The article continues to feature quotes from others addressing the doping and then proceeds to talk about the consequences of Armstrong's scandal to the Livestrong foundation.

While this article is about Armstrong's speech, it covers much more information and background than just what Armstrong actually says. The article has a link to the video of Armstrong's speech but only features one direct quote from him. This structure is different from the standard speech structure with the point and quote but seems to be effective in this situation. Since the focus of the article is that Armstrong avoided the doping allegation situation, the article provides information on the issue and how that is of importance. Without this information, the readers would not understand the importance of Armstrong speaking at this gala. Thus, the article covers the speech but focuses on the background information and the consequences. In case the reader wants to hear his whole speech, the article includes a direct link to the video.

The Roseville Library will hold a "Plug-In" event next week to mark the opening of the first charging station for electric vehicles in Ramsey County, the Star Tribune said.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Roseville library at 2180 Hamline Ave. N, the Star Tribune said. Roseville library patron Andy Rodriguez, will be there to plug in his Chevrolet Volt into the charging station along with many other participants including the Ramsey County Commissioners Rafael Ortega and Jan Parker, the Star Tribune said.

Ramsey County plans to open six more charging stations by the end of next year, the Star Tribune said.

Minnesota is now home to 31 charging stations that are publicly accessible, the Star Tribune said. In the next year, Minnesota plans to expand the number of charging centers to 100 through a federal grant, the Star Tribune said.

The library is known for its energy efficiency after its expansion in 2010, the Pioneer Press said.

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's board of directors made its final offers for a new contract to the musicians' union on Wednesday and said that there will be a lockout if the contract is not accepted by Sunday, the MinnPost said.

The musicians face a lockout if they do not accept the contract by 6 p.m. Sunday and are now asking for more financial information on the contract, the Pioneer Press said. The management, however, has said that the musicians already have this information, the Pioneer Press said.

With the new contract, the musicians would receive a salary that is 15% less than their salary last year, the MinnPost said.

While the musicians are willing to continue playing until the terms are agreed upon, the management has said that they cannot afford the money to keep paying the musicians during this time, the Pioneer Press said.

"Without a shared vision, understanding, and passion for the SPCO, the Musicians feat that the orchestra's very existence will be severely threatened," the musicians union said, the MinnPost said.

The Minnesota Orchestra faced a similar problem this year and their lockout resulted in the cancelation of their performances until at least Nov. 25, the MinnPost said.

Newsweek magazine ends print edition

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Newsweek, the 80-year old U.S, magazine, announced on Thursday to end its print publication at the end of this tear and to become an online-only magazine, BBC News said.

The last print edition will be on 31 December and the magazine will be online along with the Daily Beast, the Internet news group who Newsweek merged with two years ago, BBC News said.

Newsweek was the second largest U.S. news weekly magazine behind TIME magazine but fell victim to declining circulation and advertising, the BBC News said.

"I don't think anything could have saved it," former writer and editor of Newsweek Evan Thomas said to the Washington Post. "The economic model was just broken, and there wasn't enough advertising to sustain the enormous staff that Newsweek had to have to be a comprehensive global news organization."

Going completely online will help Newsweek save on printing, paper and postage costs, but means that they will lose its print advertisers, the Washington Post said.

New York court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

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The second appeal court that happened on Friday at New York struck down the U.S. law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, the BBC News said,

The 2nd Circuit of Appeals ruled 2 to 1 that the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) is unconstitutional, the BBC News said.

The court ruled that gay Americans deserve the same kinds of constitutional protections as many victims of discrimination, the NY Times said.

The majority opinion said that Doma's "classification of same-sex spouses was not substantially related to an important government interest" and thus violated the equal protection cause of the U.S. Constitution, the BBC News said.

"Courts should not intervene where there is a robust political debate because doing so poisons the political well, imposing a destructive anti-majoritarian constitutional ruling on a vigorous debate," Judge Chester Straub said in his dissent, the BBC News said.

"It's an incredible moment in the struggle for gay rights in this country," James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's project dealing with gay issues, said to the NY Times.

Madagascar's palm trees face threat of extinction

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A majority of Madagascar's unique palm tree species are in danger of extinction, according to a study by an environmental group released Wednesday, the Montreal Gazette said.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said that 83% of the 192 tree varieties in Madagascar has been added to the threatened species list, BBC News said.

"The figures on Madagascar's palms are truly terrifying, especially as the loss of palms impacts both the unique biodiversity of the island and its people," Jane Smart, the global director of the IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group, said in a statement, the Montreal Gazette said.

Madagascar is the world' fourth biggest island and most of its mammals and plants are unique because of its isolation, BBC News said.

Forests, however, have been shrinking due to agriculture and logging, BBC News said. The palm trees have been subject to excessive harvesting that has led to the trees' near extinction state, BBC News said.

According to William Baker, head of the IUCN expert group on the palm trees, the palm trees in the island's eastern rain forests have already been reduced to less than a quarter of their original size, the Montreal Gazette said.

The decline in these palm tree forests "threatens all of the remarkable wildlife that occurs there," Baker said according to the Montreal Gazette.

Both BBC News and NY Times incorporate various sources of multimedia elements into their website and news articles.

On BBC News' home page, every top story has a photograph to go along with it. Most of these top stories also are accompanied by a video. The front page also features special news articles in video formats. On their story about the skydiving record, they use various forms of multimedia to complement the story. On the top, the article features a video of the skydiver's take off. In the middle of the article, the article features an audio clip from the skydiver addressing the media after his dive. The article continues to feature several photos, all accompanied by a cutline that explains the photo. At the end of the article, it features a graphic that shows the different aspects of the skydiver's suit and capsule. These multimedia features provide additional insight into the story and let the readers visualize the scene. It appeals to both the visual and auditory senses.

The NY Times website also features many multimedia aspects. While it displays similar photographs and videos to the BBC News, one difference is that the NY Times puts more emphasis on interactive graphics. In their interactive features, the NY Times provides a scrollable timeline of the story. Split apart into sections, each section contains a story, video, and photographs. Each video or photo is accompanied by text that explains the significance and background of the segment. The NY Times also uses interactive graphics that often add a visual element to data statistics.

Both websites effectively use multimedia to lure the readers in and to add additional insight to the stories. The visuals are easy to comprehend and allow the readers to explore more into the topic. The visuals are usually accompanied with text that explains and adds background info and also usually has a link to the full news story.

Skydiver breaks speed of sound

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An extreme sports athlete landed on Earth after a 24-mile jump above New Mexico on Sunday, broke the record for the highest ever free-fall and went faster than the speed of sound, BBC News said.

Austrian Felix Baumgartner, 43, reached a speed of 833.9 miles per hour in his dive, BBC News said. The fall took under 10 minutes and he used a parachute for the last few thousand feet, BBC News said.

"When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about of breaking records anymore you do not think about gaining scientific date," Baumgartner said to CBS News. "The only thing you want is come back alive."

Baumgartner had prepared for this dive for five years and had made two preparation jumps, CBS News said. He planned this jump to be the last jump of his career and plans to fly helicopters on mountain rescue and firefighting mission in the future, CBS News said.

His feat attracted millions of viewers on many forms of social media, CBS News said. Almost 7.3 million viewers watched as Baumgartner ascended and the subject also dominated half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter, CBS News said.

President Kaler's plan to appeal for an 8.4 percent increase in biennial funding from the State Legislature that plans to freeze undergraduate tuition was approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents on Friday, the Pioneer Press said.

This request asks for $1.1 billion from the legislature and if the university meets three of their five improvement goals, the university plans to ask for an additional $11.5 million on the second year, the Star Tribune said.

Around $42.6 million of the request over two years is linked to a tuition freeze that would freeze in-state tuition for undergraduates, the Star Tribune said.

The proposal plans to cut administrative spending by $28 million and $18 million of the fund would fund further research at the university, the Star Tribune said. Research areas include robotics and advanced manufacturing, global food supply, industry and environment, and treatment for brain conditions, the Star Tribune said.

"This a rather extraordinary bargain we are offering," Regent member Clyde Allen said to the Pioneer Press.

This budget proposal will appear at the state Legislature during their next session, which will begin in January, the Minnesota Daily said.

US Embassy employee is shot dead in Yemen

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A Yemini security investigator working at the U.S. Embassy was shot and killed Thursday by masked men on a motorcycle, the LA Times said.

Qassem Aqlan, who worked at the embassy for 10 years, was going to work when he was attacked and killed, BBC News said. The attack seems similar to Al Qaeda attacks, which has increased in recent months, the LA Times said.

According to Ahmed Zuruah, a Yemeni political analyst, Al Qaeda has become more difficult to find and we need to proceed with caution, the LA Times said.

"Al Qaeda is not fighting on one front anymore. They're spread out in mountains and cities," Zuruah said to LA Times.

This killing follows the recent unrest in Yemen that happened after the release of an American anti-Islam video that ignited protests all over the Muslim world, the LA Times said. During these protests, demonstrators stormed the U.S. Embassy and burned down the U.S. flag, the BBC News said.

Employees have suspicion that Aqlan was killed because of information he had about the previous storming of the embassy, BBC News said.

Mice can learn and sing songs in a way similar to humans

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U.S. researchers released a report Wednesday that mice might be able to hear sounds from other mice and learn songs, Live Science said.

These findings are published in the journal Plos One, BBC News said. The study found that when male mice were together, they could learn to match each other's pitch of their songs, BBC News said.

Previous research published in this journal showed that male mice sing complex songs to females as part of their courtship routine, BBC News said.

These findings seem to overthrow the previous assumption that mice vocalization is inborn and show that mice have a vocal system so that the mice can control their vocal cords, Live Science said.

According to senior author of the study Erich Jarvis, mice and humans have more similarities in their vocal communication than many other species, Live Science said,

"The mouth brain and behavior for vocal communication is not as primitive and as innate as myself and many other scientists," Jarvis said.

Metro Transit showed off its new energy-efficient light-rail cars on Wednesday that are scheduled to run on the Central Corridor line that is scheduled to open in 2014, the Star Tribune said.

These new models are 6,000 pounds lighter than the current light-rail cars and use less electricity and uses LED internal lighting, the Star Tribune said. It also features a new crash management system that improves safety for passengers and the operator, CBS Minnesota said.

"There's about 1,000 specification changes between this car and cars that are running along the Hiawatha line today," Metro Transit spokesperson John Siqveland said.

The train also features a new higher capacity heater that will keep passengers warmer in the winter, CBS Minnesota said.

Forty-seven of these new trains are schedules to be built for the Central Corridor line that would run in between St. Paul and Minnesota, the Star Tribune said. These cars cost $3.3 million each, the Star Tribune said.

After the first report on the death of U.S. border patrol agent, BBC News released two more follow up stories with updates on the investigation.

While the first story's lead focuses on the death of the agent, the lead of the second story focuses more on the two suspects in the killing. This makes sense for the follow-up story because the main question that was left unanswered in the first story was the suspects for the killing.

The main parts of the stories are arranged similarly. Both stories use the same sentences to provide background information on the death and injuries that happened. The ending paragraphs of both stories are also the same and provide additional background information to the story. The main difference to the story is the middle section. The first story focuses on the uncertainty over the shooter and the second story elaborates on the investigation and the two suspects they found.

Therefore, the second story takes the same background information that the first article contained and advances the story by adding additional information about the investigation and suspects.

In BBC News's third article on the topic, it works with the new information that the agent may have been shot by his colleague. Again, the article uses the same background information but uses the middle section to advance the story with the new information.

Each follow-up story contained a new piece of information that changed the situation and each story effectively advanced the story. All of the stories shared the same background information but added additional information.

Risk of power shortages in Britain by 2015

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Britain is in danger of running out of energy within three years according to an Electricity Capacity Assessment by Ofgem released Friday, BBC News said.

The report predicts that the spare energy capacity in the UK could drop from 14% to 4% by the winter of 2015-16, Reuters said. This could lead to power outages if any oil plants had unpredicted outages or energy imports were disrupted, Reuters said.

The government has launched an Electricity Market Reform Bill that would support investors in low-carbon electricity like nuclear and renewable generation, Reuters said.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey has said that the government plans to respond to this report by the end of the year, BBC News said.

"Security of electricity supply is of critical importance to the health of the economy and the smooth functioning of our daily lives," Davey said.

If the government does not invest more in building fresh generating capacity, Britain could have to rely on imported gas that would make energy prices rise, BBC News said.

A St. Paul man pleaded guilty to being involved with the sex trafficking of two underage girls at the Ramsey County District Court on Friday, Minnesota Public Radio said.

Giorgio Baymon, 25, posted an ad for prostitution for the two girls on Backpage.com, the Pioneer Press said. The ad featured explicit photos of two underage girls who were 15 and 17, MPR said.

Baymon admitted to making deals for one of the girls and two other charges against him will be dropped, the Pioneer Press said. Baymon faces 14 years of prison, which will be sentenced on Nov. 29, the Pioneer Press said.

Baymon, together with Brandon Barnes, rented at the Microtel Inn and Suites on May 8 and brought the two girls there, the Pioneer Press said. Three men responded to their online ad and police has caught one of the men, the Pioneer Press said.

Barnes, 24, was also charged and is scheduled to appear at court on Monday, the Pioneer Press said.

Unemployment rate falls in September to 7.8 percent

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Reports released on Friday show that the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in July, the Washington Post said.

This is the lowest unemployment rate since January 2009, the Washington Post said. The report also shows that the U.S. economy has added 114,000 jobs in September, BBC News said.

"I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again," President Barack Obama said at a campaign event, BBC News said. This report is fortunate for Obama's reelection campaign as people were examining his progress, the Washington Post said.

The unemployment rate fell even with an additional 418,000 people entering the work force, the Washington Post said.

Many republicans have emphasized that the unemployment rate is still too high, the Washington Post said.

"While today's unemployment report offered some encouraging news, it simply isn't good enough," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a statement, the Washington Post said.

US border patrol agent shot dead near Arizona border

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A U.S. border patrol agent was shot dead and another agent was wounded near the U.S.- Mexico border in Arizona on Tuesday, BBC News said.

Nicholas Ivie, 30, was shot dead and another unidentified agent is being treated at the hospital but does not have life threatening injuries, BBC News said. Another agent was present at the scene but was not injured, BBC News said.

Reports seem to indicate that the three agents were investigating an electronic sensor along the border that detects movement near it, the Wall Street Journal said. This area was known for its drug-smuggling, BBC News said.

Investigators have not found out who shot the agents yet, BBC News said.

This incident was the first death among border patrol agents since 2010 when agent Brian Terry was shot, the Wall Street Journal said.

"This is a powerful reminder that our borders are far from secure," Democratic Rep. Ron Barber said to the Wall Street Journal.

The Minnesota Orchestra canceled 17 concerts through Nov. 25 after locking out its musicians on Monday over a dispute over a new contract with union musicians, the Star Tribune said.

The five-year contract between the union and the orchestra expired on Monday and union members rejected the orchestra's proposal for a new contract that cut salaries over 30 percent, the Star Tribune said. While the current average salary for orchestra musicians is $135,000 per year, the proposal planned on cutting $46,000 per year off from the average salary, the Minnesota Public Radio said.

Rallying over this lock out, musicians assembled in front of the Orchestra Hall Monday afternoon with signs, MPR said.

The orchestra faces a deficit of almost $3 million this year and needs to reconstruct its finances, said Minnesota Orchestra President Michael Henson to MPR.

"We have been trying to negotiate a settlement responsibility over the last six months and it is not a decision we have taken lightly," Henson said.

The management has refused two union proposals for a contract, Star Tribune said.

Customers with tickets will have options for the canceled concerts such as holding on to them until the orchestra resumes or a refund, MPR said.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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