October 2009 Archives

Obama Lifts U.S. Ban on Entry for those with HIV

On Friday President Obama announced the end of a ban on travel to the United States by people infected by the HIV virus.

A rule lifting the ban would be published on Monday and would become effective after a 60-day waiting period, the New York Times reported. 

The United States is one of a dozen countries that restrict entry to travelers based on their HIV status. The ban has been active for 22 years, but will be lifted after the new year, msnbc.com reported.

Former President George W. Bush began the process of lifting the ban last year by signing legislation that repealed the law on which the ban was based. Though it was passed by Congress the ban remained effective.

The ban was enacted in 1987 at a time when society believed that HIV could be transmitted by physical or respiratory contact. It effectively barred thousands of students, tourists and refugees from entering the US.

When the ban is lifted, foreigners will not be required to take a test for AIDS when applying to become residents of the US.


Metro Transit Bus Collides with Car in St. Paul, injuring six

Six passengers riding the Route 16 Metro Transit bus suffered minor injuries Wednesday after the bus and a car collided in St. Paul.

The collision occurred at about 2:25 p.m. on University Avenue near the Albert Street intersection, the Star Tribune reported.

The bus was going east on University when a car heading west turned left in front of it and failed to yield. The bus hit the car broadside.

The bus sustained damage to its bike rack and bumper, but was able to drive away after the collision, the Pioneer Press reported. It is unknown whether the car was damaged.

No one in the car was hurt, but six passengers on the Route 16 were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul as a precaution.


St. Paul Man Tied Up, Robbed

A man invaded an elderly man's home at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, tied him up and robbed him.

An elderly man was tied up and struck by the assailant at his East Side home, who had been at the house on Wednesday offering to do yard work, the Star Tribune reported.

The victim, who was in his 70s, escaped and went to neighbors for help. 

The victim was then taken to a local hospital and was treated for minor injuries.

Police are investigating the area for more information and for possible suspects. No suspect has been identified, the Pioneer Press reported. 

Two Men Shot at Los Angeles Synagogue

A man shot and wounded two men in the parking garage of a Los Angeles synagogue Thursday, then fled, the Star Tribune reported.

A teenager who matched a vague description of the gunman was taken into custody, but was released soon afterward.

Mori Ben-Nissan, 38, and Allen Lasry, 53, were shot in the legs in a parking garage underneath the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic Orthodox synagogue in North Hollywood, in the San Fernando Valley.

The victims were in a stairwell leading up to the synagogue sanctuary when the gunman shot them several times. The attacker then fled on foot.

Police have taken precautions by placing extra patrols near other synagogues and local schools. Authorities said that this was "a random act of violence." The gunman's motives were unknown, CNN reported.

Clinton Challenges Pakistanis, Pakistanis Challenge Clinton

While visiting Pakistan to improve relations with the country, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested Thursday that Pakistani officials were responsible for allowing Al Qaeda terrorists to operate safely in the country.

Pakistanis were upset with Clinton's comments, because they had seen hundreds of soldiers and civilians killed from militant groups that threatened the country.

The comments expressed the frustrations of American officials who believe the Pakistani government may not be working hard enough to find Al Qaeda and other dangerous militant groups.

Mrs. Clinton also addressed issues like security and poor tax collection, which resulted in Pakistani defiance and aggressive questioning, especially from university students from the Government College in Lahore.

Clinton listened patiently to questions and criticism, the New York Times reported, but insisted that in order to cultivate a better relationship between Pakistan and the United States, the relationship had to be a "two-way street."

Press Conference: Gates Presses Nato on Afghan Commitment

In the press release, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates urged NATO forces to support the troop increase in Afghanistan at the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea Wednesday. During his speech, he emphasized the Republic of Korea's alliance with the United States, and how the ROK should support the U.S. as a contributor to global security and peace. The press release also touched on the ROK's military policies, nuclear weapons and ROK military history.

However, in the news story, journalist Thom Shanker emphasized the Republic of Korea's role in aiding the United States in a troop increase in Afghanistan. He wrote the article in the context of the U.S. and the "Afghan commitment" rather than focusing on the ROK's military and history. Shanker chose to craft his story like this so that it would be more relevant to an American audience.

Maplewood Woman Who Stole from Schools is Arrested

A Maplewood woman was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing teachers' purses from local schools, the Pioneer Press reported.

Dawn Marie Rassett, 41, was arrested on counts of theft, forgery, fraud and trespassing for multiple thefts in unattended classrooms at Lake Elmo Elementary and Mahtomedi High School.

Surveillance photos showed Rasset inside stores using stolen credit cards, the Star Tribune reported.

Records showed that Rasset, under other names, has been convicted eight times in Minnesota for crimes including credit card fraud, check forgery and burglary.


Rasset was held in Washington County Jail Friday evening.

A man electrocuted in a St. Paul manhole Friday may have been stealing copper cable, a St. Paul police spokesman said.

The 50-year-old worked for a cable maintenance company, but investigations showed that he wasn't doing work for the company at the time he was trapped in the manhole, the Pioneer Press reported.

The incident caused a brief power outage to the state Capitol, St. Paul College and St. Joseph's Hospital.

The man was trapped in a manhole on Virgina Street south of University Avenue. He was dead when his body was found eight feet below the street level at approximately 11:15 a.m., the Star Tribune reported.

Authorities suspected the man was stealing copper wire, because he had a saw and likely knew that copper was there.

US Proposes Protection of Polar Bear Habitat

The Interior Department of the Obama administration is setting aside 200,000 square miles along the Alaskan northern coast as critical habitat for the shrinking polar bear population.

The Bush administration last year determined that polar bears were likely to become an endangered species caused by massive loss of sea ice due to climate change.

The protected habitat could increase restrictions on future offshore drilling for gas and oil, which prompted Alaska officials to challenge the protections, saying that they threaten the state's oil industry and economy.

Environmental advocates pushed for a protection policy for the animals since they were listed as a threatened species last year, and conservation groups later sued. The new polar bear policy announced Thursday was part of a settlement of the case.

A final critical-habitat rule will be published by June 30, 2010, the New York Times reported.

US Arrests Hundreds in Raids on Drug Cartel

Federal agents arrested more than 300 people in a two-day sweep of the methamphetamine trafficking operations of Mexico's La Familia drug cartel, the Wall Street Journal reported.

La Familia, or "the family" in Spanish, is a fast-growing drug cartel based in Michoacan, Mexico, which has penetrated the U.S. The Justice Department arrested about 1,200 people and confiscated nearly 12 tons of drugs, as well as $32.8 million in U.S. currency. 

Law enforcement officials said that the arrests and indictments disturbed the distribution network that delivered methamphetamine and cocaine to major U.S. cities.

La Familia is unique in that it justifies its actions through religion, claiming that assassinations and violence were divine events. Cartel members are even told to go to church, the New York Times reported.

Despite the arrests and indictments, analysts say that the cartel will recover.

Protesters Breach Security at BBC Show

Protesters broke into the BBC's west London headquarters Thursday ahead of a white-supremacist party leader's appearance on a political debate show.

Protesters gathered outside the BBC Television Center in a rally against British National Party leader Nick Griffin, who was scheduled to appear on BBC's "Question Time" program, the Wall Street Journal reported.

25 people breached a police cordon and ran into the broadcast's lobby. Three officers were injured, and six people were arrested, the New York Times reported.

Many politicians condemned the appearance of Griffin on the show, saying that his far-right group was undeserving of an aura of political respectability. Protesters said that it gave racist people confidence and would encourage acts of violence and hatred toward minorities.

Griffin and the BNP opposes immigration, fights for "indigenous" Britons and denies the Holocaust. According to the New York Times, the party has tried to clean up its image so it can enter the political mainstream.
Both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal use various multimedia to enhance the reader's experience. They include pictures with many of their top articles so that readers can get a visual of what the stories are going to be about. Videos and slide shows are used to summarize or supplement news. Videos supplement an article and sometimes even tell the story better than print media. They can engage readers better by providing colors, flashy images and sound. Also, reader's often get tired of reading, and would rather watch a video or go through a slide show to obtain news.

At the bottom of the articles there are also places where readers can comment on the story. This makes the reading experience interactive and more interesting. Readers feel like they have a voice. There are also links within articles that readers can click on. This way they can get more thorough information about the issue, information that a typical print news story wouldn't be able to offer.

Copy writing accompanies multimedia. Copy writing is brief, to the point and is only a couple sentences long. It describes what is happening in the multimedia, such as what is happening in a picture that is part of a slide show. It should be written like a lead in that it captures the action of the news in the multimedia while engaging the reader. It should reveal the who, what, when, why, where and how.

Smoking Ban Reduces Heart Disease

Smoking bans reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks, according to a study by the Institute of Medicine released Thursday.

The report also indicates that breathing second-hand smoke increases nonsmokers' risk for heart problems and that even a small amount of exposure may result in heart attack, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report extracted data from 11 studies from communities in Canada, Italy, Scotland and the United States.

According to the report, smoking bans could help reduce the incidence of heart attacks by 6%-47%.

However, critics argue that the evidence is not strong enough. None of the 11 studies were optimal in method or in data collection, leaving unanswered questions and a large variance in reduction rates, the New York Times reported.

Prior Lake Parents Help Teens Make Bombs

Calling it an "educational tool," a Prior Lake couple allegedly helped their son and his friends make pipe bombs that the teenagers later used to blow up mailboxes.

Robert and Roberta Masters each face felony charges of manufacturing explosives and helping offenders in a felony, the Pioneer Press reported. They will appear in court Nov. 2.

The teens placed the bombs in mailboxes in Burnsville, Lakeville, Credit River Township and New Market Township in May and June, the Star Tribune reported. The Bloomington bomb squad was involved in one case that required the removal of a 6- to 8-inch pipe bomb.

At first the teenagers' targets were random. They then planted bombs in mailboxes of people they knew.

Five teens are under suspicion of being involved in six bombings, while a sixth is believed to be a witness in one of them. The teenagers are identified only by their initials in the complaints because they are juveniles

St. Paul Strategizes to Achieve Math and Reading Proficiency

After a third consecutive year of its students failing to achieve proficiency in math and reading on standardized tests, St. Paul Public Schools set a goal this year to increase academic achievement for every demographic group on all state tests.

Superintendent Suzanne Kelly told business representatives and public officials in August that she wanted a 10 percentage-point gain in proficiency in state tests among all student groups, the Pioneer Press reported.

Major programs or staffing initiatives to achieve this goal have not been announced, but Kelly intends for the district to focus on literacy, math and cultural proficiency.

The No Child Left Behind law requires that all students be proficient in reading and math by the year 2014, the Star Tribune reported. Schools that underperform or do not meet this goal face sanctions, among other consequences.

To reach its goal, St. Paul utilizes computer-driven data to improve student performance. Some schools in the district emphasize individual success, rather than attempting to improve all students at once, the Star Tribune reported.

China Sentences Six More to Death Over Riots

Six people were sentenced to death Thursday for committing murder in an ethnic riot in western China in July, the New York Times reported.

Three other convicts involved were given life in prison, while five received lighter sentences. Seven of the convicts had Uighur names, and two of them had Han names, the New York Times reported.

Nearly 200 people were killed during the riots, which took place in the capital of Urumqi. Muslim Uighurs attacked people of Han descent, China's dominant ethnic group. It was China's worst ethnic conflict in decades, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The riots erupted on July 5 in the Xinjiang region in far western China, where tensions have mounted between Uighurs and Han. Uighurs said their cultural and religious traditions were being threatened by the large amount of Han in the region.

The Chinese government blamed the rioting on groups overseas protesting for increased Uighur rights in Xinjiang, the Wall Street Journal reported.

U.S. Math Scores Show Little Improvement

The results of a nationwide math test given in early 2009 revealed that fourth- and eighth-graders showed little to no improvement in math.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that fourth-graders' test results had not improved since the test was given in 2007. Eighth-graders showed marginal score improvements of a mere two points.

Scoring gaps between Caucasian students and Hispanic and African-American students has not changed, the NAEP results showed.

Critics and researchers fear that the No Child Left Behind law is failing to reach its goal of improving student achievement, the New York Times reported. The law aims for all US students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Policy makers and business leaders fear that students will not possess the necessary mathematical skills to be competitive in a technology-centric economy. US students trail behind places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Spot and Follows: 2 Dead at Arizona Sweat Lodge

The lead in the first version of the story provides the basic information of what happened: people became sick and two people died in a sweat lodge in Arizona. It is the same way throughout the rest of the article. Readers are given general information, such as where the incident took place, how many people died or became ill and what authorities are doing about it. Specific details, such as the names of victims or the causes of death, were not mentioned. A brief cultural background of sweat lodges was provided for readers who did not know what they were.

The second story advanced the news by providing more detail and by answering readers' questions. The lead revealed the identities of the two people who died after using the sauna, whereas the first story did not include identities. A list of specific illnesses suffered by other users of the sauna was also discussed. In addition, the second story delved into how police were responding to the situation. Readers also obtain more background information about James Ray, the man who led the retreat and who is under suspicion of criminal activity. Unlike the first article, no sweat lodge history was provided. In its place were detailed accounts of the activities that took place at the retreat, such as events that may have caused the deaths and illnesses.

2 Dead at Arizona Resort Sweat Lodge

Two people died and more than a dozen became ill at a sweat lodge at an Arizona resort on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The two victims were James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, and Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y. 21 of the 64 people within the sweat lodge received medical care. Four were hospitalized.

The illnesses and deaths occurred during the "Spiritual Warrior" retreat led by self-help expert and writer James Arthur Ray.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the deaths and illnesses, the Wall Street Journal reported. Police also work to determine whether criminal actions played a part in the event.

The sweat lodge is located at the Angel Valley Spiritual Resort, about six and a half miles from West Sedona, Arizona. The resort is popular within the New Age spiritual movement.  

Like a sauna, a sweat lodge is an enclosed space where water is poured over heated rocks, the New York Times reported. They are commonly used in Native American cleansing ceremonies.

U of M Approves Mutlimillion Dollar Building Wish List

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved a $240 million wish list of building projects on Friday, focusing mainly on upgrading and maintaining existing buildings.

The Legislature was asked to approve $193.3 million in bonds, while the university provided $46.7 million, the Star Tribune reported.

Approximately $100 million will be used for bigger projects, such as roof repair, better building accessibility and increased energy efficiency.

President Robert Bruinicks said that improved facilities were necessary to attract top researchers.

The list includes $10 million for an American Indian Learning Resource Center at the Duluth campus and $5.5 million for renovations at the Itasca Biological Station at Itasca State Park, the Pioneer Press reported.

Obama Approves Troop Increase in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama approved a troop increase for Afghanistan Tuesday, CNN reported.

The president claimed that more troops were necessary to stabilize Afghanistan, to provide security for areas maintained by the Taliban and to protect America from possible threats.

The Obama administration have been considering a request from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, to send as many as 40,000 troops. So far the president has approved 17,000.

The increased troop levels are expected to last three to four years, CNN reported. An increase would be possible in part by expected troop withdrawal from Iraq.

The president's decision resulted in scattered antiwar protests in Washington, and was met with opposition--as well as support--from advisers.

Three American Scientists Awarded Nobel for Medicine

The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to three American scientists who discovered an enzyme relevant to cellular health and aging, the Wall Street Journal reported. The prize includes a shared cash amount of $1.4 million.

The discovery involves the workings of telomerase, an enzyme that enables cell division and determines a cell's life span.

The winners are Elizabeth H. Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco; Carol W. Greider of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Jack W. Szostak of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Though telomeres were discovered some 20 years ago, the scientists' findings create a new line of research into possible treatments for ailments like cancer, blindness and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists hope to use their knowledge of telomerase for many things, such as prolonging life, slowing down the aging process and fighting cancer, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Three Cougar Sightings Reported in Eagan

Eagan police are urging residents to be cautious after multiple reports of cougar sightings, the Star Tribune reported.

The three sightings are still unconfirmed, but reports became more convincing when police discovered what appeared to be cougar feces at the police gun range. The range is on the west side of Yankee Doodle Road near Fort Snelling State Park, the Pioneer Press reported.

The latest sighting was Friday at Blackhawk Park when a city worker saw what he believed to be a cougar lying in the grass off the road.

According to the Pioneer Press, police have increased security in the park, but have not seen the animal.

People who encounter cougars should not run, turn away nor bend down, police said. People should make themselves appear larger, wave their arms or throw stones.


The reporter began the story with the most important facts. The first six paragraphs described the main points of the case, informing the reader of the basic who, what, when, where and why.

After these first paragraphs of basic information--the inverted pyramid structure--the writer described the story in more detail. However, it was not told chronologically, because the story included two different cases involving the same man, both occurring during different times. Thus, the reporter chose to write in a "kabob" style rather than a "martini glass" format. The reporter incorporated various aspects of the news story by clustering several pieces of information together. Thus, the whole story could be told without confusing the reader and without focusing on only one event.

The writer could have structured the story in the martini glass style by solely focusing on the chronology of the 2001 case. Also, she could have written in the inverted pyramid style and refrained from giving much detail. That way the reader gets the basic summary of the most important information rather than all the details found in a martini glass or kabob style. 

China Celebrates 60th Anniversary

China celebrated 60 years of communist rule Thursday in a massive and flawless display of military power.

Floats representing each province and marches were utilized, but it was the show of military bravado that caused some unease for China's global audience.

According to the Pioneer Press, the parade was China's largest display of weaponry, reminiscent of the Soviet Union, while its synchronized performances reminded others of North Korea.

Analysts said that its military weaponry had progressed since its last celebration in 1999.

China did not consider the reactions of its global audience. Rather, it focused on patriotism, the Communist Party's power and its ability to rule, the New York Times reported.

Son Accused of Financially Exploiting his Mother, 95

A 95-year-old Roseville woman had her bank account frozen and fell behind on rent after her son cashed thousands of dollars in checks from her account, the Pioneer Press reported.

Joel Allen Berntsen, 58, of Minneapolis, was charged with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. According to the Star Tribune, his mother has dementia.

Criminal complaints said that Berntsen persuaded his mother to give him money to buy a $290,000 house in North Oaks, then made her pay his mortgage.

He said that he was "desperate," and admitted that he abused the situation.

Berntsen was not in custody, but was summoned to appear in court Oct. 22.


Democratic Fund-Raiser Gets 24 Years in Prison

Democratic fund-raiser Norman Hsu was sentenced Tuesday to more than 24 years in prison for defrauding investors in a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme and for committing campaign finance fraud.

Prosecutors had hoped for a sentence of 30 years.

Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Hsu's request for leniency.

Mr. Hsu was a prominent fundraiser for many Democratic politicians, including Hillary Clinton.

He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of mail and wire fraud related to the Ponzi scheme, which defrauded over 250 investors of more than $50 million, the New York Times reported.

Rapist Gets 16+ Years in prison for 2001 Assault

A Minneapolis man was sentenced Tuesday to more than 16 years in prison for the rape and kidnap of a woman eight years ago in New Brighton.

Trinidad Perez-Carrino, 32, was convicted last month for the rape and kidnap of a woman and her friend in June 2001 when authorities linked his DNA from the crime to a crime he committed in 2008, the Pioneer Press reported.

Perez-Carrino was initially charged with two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct and felony kidnapping for the rape of a Minneapolis woman on Aug. 7, 2008.

Ramsey County District Judge John Guthmann sentenced Perez-Carrino to 12 years in prison for rape and four years and four months for kidnapping. The sentences were to be served consecutively, the Pioneer Press reported.

Charges against Perez-Carrino for the 2008 assault are pending in Hennepin County District Court, the Star Tribune reported.

Roadside Bomb Kills 30 Civilians in Afghanistan

A bus filled with Afghan civilians struck a roadside bomb near the southern city of Kandahar Tuesday, killing 30 people and wounding 39.

According to The Wall Street Journal, militants are planting more bombs than ever. The mines are intended to kill U.S., NATO and Afghan troops but end up killing more Afghan civilians instead.

The bus had been traveling on a dangerous road from the western city of Herat to Kandahar, when it encountered a NATO roadblock run by soldiers clearing the road of bombs.

The bus was then told to drive along the dirt next to the road. However, that was where the bomb was hidden.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but U.S. and NATO troops and Afghan officials blamed the Taliban.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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