February 2012 Archives

Interpol arrested 25 suspected members of Anonymous Wednesday as part of "Operation Unmask", an initiative launched mid-February after Anonymous members claimed credit for denial of service attacks on the Colombian Ministry of Defense and Chile's National Library, the Washington Post reported. The suspects range in age from 17 to 40, the Washington Post reported.

Anonymous, in retaliation, managed to take down Interpol's own website briefly, and though it is now back up, it is "loading slowly", reported the World & Guardian Online.

Cole Stryker, an author who has researched the movement, thinks it unlikely that all -- if any -- of those arrested are actually at the center of the organization. "Anonymous is a handful of geniuses surrounded by a legion of idiots," Stryker told the New York Times. "You have four or five guys who really know what they're doing and are able to pull off some of the more serious hacks, and then thousands of people spreading the word, or turning their computers over to participate in a DDoS attack."

Rumors of a new iPad have been floating around for a while now, and Apple has finally confirmed them by sending out invites to select media outlets to attend the unveiling of the iPad 3 at Yerba Buena in San Francisco next Wednesday, Industry Gamers reported.

Shaw Wu of Stere Agee told the Washington Post the new iPad will be a significant improvement over its predecessors, revealing that it will have a better display, a faster processor and will come with Siri. He also predicted that some iPads may ship with 4G LTE connectivity -- a first for Apple, which in the past has steered away from 4G due to its tendency to drain batteries quickly.

As happened at the iPad 2 release, various technology buyback and refurbishing companies are seeing a huge influx of iPad 2's and other tablets, as the "early adopters" prepare to grab the next big gadget, Computer World reported.

Arizona and Michigan Go to Romney

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Mitt Romney solidified his claim as the front-runner in the GOP presidential nomination race after pulling a double win yesterday in both Michigan and Arizona, USA Today reported.

Romney "routed" Rick Santorum in Arizona, but only won narrowly in his birth state of Michigan, where his father was once governor, the Washington Post reported.

The four candidates for the Republican nomination will face their biggest test on "Super Tuesday", where 419 delegates go up for grabs, reported Fox News. Fox News polls show that Newt Gingrich is leading in his home state of Georgia, while Santorum has the strongest hold on Ohio.

Arizona was a winner-takes-all-delegates state while Michigan delegates per district won, leaving Romney with 163 delegates followed by Santorum's 83, USA Today reported. A candidate needs 1,144 to secure the GOP nomination.

Analysis: Multimedia Web Newspapers

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For this week's analysis, I would like to compare the two different (yet similar) ways the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune run their online newspapers. For clarity's sake, I started off with a list format with links to examples of what I refer to in the bullet points.

Chicago Tribune

Accompanying text stories
• Occasionally illustrations (sometimes in lieu of actual photographs)

On their own
News Maps & Apps
Picture slideshow
Picture gallery
Just Videos
Links to related stories

The New York Times

Accompanying text stories
Links to related stories

On their own
NYT video
Picture slideshows
Picture galleries
Raw data
• Interactive maps, quizzes, graphs, and charts among others

On the whole, I believe that the Chicago Tribune almost rivals the New York times in multimedia experience, which is impressive considering their comparative sizes. The New York Times has specific podcasts, a page just for videos, you name it, and it all amounts to more stories than what the Chicago Tribune can offer. But the Chicago Tribune has that one section -- the News Maps & Apps section -- that is just so innovative and informative that the New York Time's data page and multimedia page just don't compare.

Video, pictures, sound, graphs, and any other accompanying material you can add to or link to on your story will enhance it. The web is different than a newspaper in that long swatches of text simply don't look very good, and people don't read it. You can get a lot of information out in much quicker and more pleasing ways, thereby keeping your readership in spite of their seemingly shortened attention spans.

The kind of writing I see in these items varies greatly from item to item, depending on the context each one is used in. Some graphs have no writing other than numbers and basic labels, and some have a lot of short explanatory paragraphs smattered all over the place. Sound bytes and videos can accompanied by an entire story (or are they accompanying the story?) or they can stand on their own. Videos on some pages get short captions below, and many slideshows add a short caption to the bottom of each photo to tell a story. Some stories, very rarely nowadays, consist entirely of high-end writing, though these kinds of stories normally indicate a news organization that is not yet fluent in the web, and that they might just be shoveling their print content onto the website.

Most writing on most news sources on the internet tends to be very simple, effective, and to-the-point. No frills, no fancy language, and with other multimedia sources, such as video and photos, to tell a lot of what is left of the story. Both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune have really grasped what it is to be a newspaper on the web, and are making huge strides in shaping the future of the field.

A judge decided Thursday to hold a 9-year-old boy at $50,000 bail for accidentally shooting his classmate in school, CBS News reported.

The boy wept while he sat in front of the judge in his orange jumpsuit with Jason Cochran, his father, and Patrick Cochran, his uncle and legal guardian, sat near him and attempted to comfort him, the Washington Post reported.

The judge will decide sometime later whether to press charges of illegal gun possession and third-degree assault after determining whether the boy knew what he was doing was wrong and whether anyone else was to blame for the incident, the Daily Mail reported.

Both of the boy's parents have criminal records, the Washington Post reported.

J.K. Rowling became a billionaire for writing the best-selling children's book series of all time, but now she has moved on and will be writing a novel for a more mature audience, Entertainment Wise reported.

The author, who hasn't published a new book since 2007's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is returning to authorship though the publishing company Little, Brown instead of going through either of her previous publishers, Bloomberg or Scholastic, the Huffington Post reported.

The Christian Science Monitor summed up the feelings of many of Rowling's fans with a Twitter post from Natalie Summers: "JK Rowling announcing a new book is almost like god announcing a follow-up to the Bible."

Further details about the novel she intends to write have been kept tightly under wraps, Entertainment Wise reported.

The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Vikings have come to a tentative agreement that would allow the Vikings to play at TCF Bank Stadium while the new Vikings stadium is being built, the Star Tribune reported.

In order to accommodate the 53,000 season ticket holders, at least 3000 more seats will have to be added to the stadium, the Minnesota Daily reported. Heating coils would also have to be added to the field to account for the NFL's season stretching well into winter, the Minnesota Daily said.

There is no word on the price the Vikings will pay the university per game yet, but they paid $1.7 million to play at TCF when the roof to the Metrodome collapsed under heavy snow in December 2010, CBS News reported.

A statement released by the International Atomic Energy Agency early Wednesday said that Iran refused an IAEA request for access to a site where the agency suspects explosives testing related to a nuclear weapon took place, USA Today reported.

For the second time in recent weeks, IAEA inspectors were sent from Iran after talks failed to go through, leaving most of the international community deeply unsettled, the New York Times reported.

IAEA inspectors were most interested in examining the Parchin site, south of Tehran, where it is suspected that explosives related to nuclear weapons may have been tested in recent years, BBC reported.

Iran claims that their nuclear endeavors are peaceful, and strictly limited to providing electrical power, the New York Times reported. In the past, Iran had said the team of inspectors could visit any nuclear-related location, but it now claims that Parchin is a military base and is off limits, the New York Times reported.

Governor Mark Dayton is being criticized for not following up on a campaign promise to make his personal calendar available for public scrutiny, the Albert Lea Tribune reported.

Dayton promised during his 2010 campaign that taxpayers would "have a right to know what I'm doing with my time" and know who he's meeting with privately, MinnPost reported.

Dayton turned down AP's formal records request to see the schedule in December, much like previous governors, both Republican and Democrat, have done in the past, the Pioneer Press reported.

Deputy chief of staff Bob Hume pointed out to the Pioneer Press that Dayton's publicly released schedule still reveals more than any of his predecessors ever did.

Analysis: Sources

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This week, I decided to look at the USA Today story about the U.N. resolution condemning Syria.

Seven sources within the U.N. are named in the article: U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice's, Saudi Arabia's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, China's deputy ambassador Wang Min, and Egypt's deputy ambassador Osama Abdelkhalek.

These sources are scattered throughout the story, and all of the information is directly from the mouths of U.N. officials, instead of being from documents.

The reporter sets up attribution in the story very fluently. It is effective in that you know where the information is coming from, but it doesn't stop the flow of your reading. For example:

"Saudi Arabia's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi called it "a victory for the Syria people," the U.N. and the Arab League."

The author instantly let me know exactly who Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi was and what he said, and didn't waste any more time on it. I think that it was a very effective way of citing his sources.

Police chiefs and county prosecutors came together Thursday to urge Minnesota lawmakers against passing legislation that would give people more freedom to use deadly force when protecting themselves, the Daily Globe reported.

This bill, sponsored by Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, rewrites state law so that people defending themselves have no duty to retreat first if possible, reported the Pioneer Press. It is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, which has been lobbying for legislature to approve it, reported the Star Tribune.

According to its opponents, the legislation, expected to hit the Senate floor next week, could make certain cases harder to prosecute and endanger the lives of the public and police officers, reported the Pioneer Press.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan told the Daily Globe the bill would make serving warrants even more dangerous for officers. "I've lost officers at the front door on legal warrants," Dolan said.

U.N. condemns Assad regime

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The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution backing an Arab League plan that calls for Syria's president to step down and strongly condemns the human rights violations committed there, the Irish Examiner reported.

The resolution passed by 137-12 with 17 abstentions, reported the Irish Examiner. Russia, China, and Iran were among those who voted against it, Euronews reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told USA Today that Russia voted against the resolution because it was unbalanced, as it looked only at the crimes Assad's regime has committed and not at those committed by the dissenters.

The resolution itself condemns "all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and calls upon all parties in Syria, including armed groups, to immediately stop all violence or reprisals," USA Today quoted.

Vikings staying in Minnesota

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The Minnesota Vikings are here to stay . . . at least for the next year, reported the Pioneer Press. They reported Thursday that they would not be filing a NFL required "intent to relocate" form by that day's deadline.

The Vikings will spend one more year in the Metrodome, but there is no guarantee that they will stay through 2014 unless plans for a new stadium go underway, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Gov. Mark Dayton urged congress to push the bill forward during this session, and not let it get held up until fall or beyond, reported CBS News.

In spite of this, the bill may run into trouble in the house and senate because of Minnesota's precarious financial situation and the upcoming election season, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Sony music and Apple have both suffered harsh criticism after the price of Whitney Houston's Ultimate Collection album was hiked up just hours after her death, Forbes reported.

The price hike was first noticeable on iTunes, so Apple took the brunt of the original criticism, reported Wired. However, it was soon revealed that the iTunes system automatically takes 30 percent of whatever price the company who owns the track sets. In other words, Sony hiked the price, and the Apple system automatically carried out the price increase, reported Wired.

The price of the album was lowered again at some unknown point over the weekend, reported VentureBeat, who went on to say that the blame for this tasteless display lies entirely with Sony Music, which has received much criticism in the past for its treatment of artists.

Santorum leads the GOP nominee race

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A national CBS News/New York Times poll has shown that Rick Santorum has pulled slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, reported CBS News. They said Santorum has the vote of 30 percent of the Republican primary voters, followed by Romney at 27 percent, Ron Paul at 12 percent, and Newt Gingrich at 10 percent.

NPR, on the other hand, noted that the Public Policy Polling survey has placed Santorum 15 points ahead of Romney in a substantial lead. The polls also suggest that Santorum could lead in Michigan, the state where Romney grew up, and Arizona, which has a sizable Mormon population, NPR reported.

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times posted on his NYT blog that it would be a good thing for President Obama's reelection prospects if Santorum was able to take the nomination, since he is "far along on the loony fringe" of Republicans who don't believe in global warming and think that the president is forcing the Catholic church to pay for birth control services.

As I was finishing my blog post about Tommy Jordan Saturday, a bit of breaking news began to blip onto my screen. A few gossip sites were claiming that Whitney Houston had died. Being the educated news consumer I am, I decided to start tracking the story to see if it really panned out or not. Sure enough, about a half hour later, the Associated Press released a statement, and I knew that the story was true.

Before the Associated Press story, just a trickle of websites were posting anything about her death, and none of them were well known names. Within a half hour of its release, the mainstream media began to pick up on it, the earliest merely re-posting the AP article and some of the later ones adding other rumored details or a review of her life.

When I checked back on the story Sunday morning, the story had exploded further, and the press had a lot more to see. She died in a hotel room, partially submerged in water in her bathtub. Her autopsy was in progress, but results from the toxicology report will not be released for another six to eight weeks. Xanax and alcohol together may have sedated her enough that she may have accidentally drowned herself.

For this analysis assignment, I would like to compare this Associated Press story released on the day of her death to this CNN article.

The lead for the AP story is as follows:

"Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48."

This is a somewhat dramatized version of a straightforward news lead that summarizes exactly what the rest of the story is to be about and revealed all of the news the press had so far, which is to say, not much. The lead started with Houston's name, since Houston was such a big star. Its description of Houston is also much more flowery than the description they would have given anyone else in the lead. The CNN lead, surprisingly, was less flowery although it lead into a much longer, in-depth story.

"Emotions were raw at the traditionally ebullient Grammy Awards show Sunday, with friends, colleagues and admirers expressing sadness about iconic singer Whitney Houston's sudden death."

This lead does not try to summarize all of what the rest of the article contains, since it covers everything from suspected cause of death to the Grammy show's coverage of her to others' reactions to her death.

The basic facts the reader received from the AP story were these: Whitney Houston, age 48, is dead; her publicist Kristin Foster confirmed this; she died on the eve of the Grammy's; what Quincy Jones had to say about her; and a short recap of her life, achievements, and who she influenced.

The CNN article really did advance the news in that it revealed that she died in a hotel, that the autopsy was complete but that the toxicology report would not come in for another six to eight weeks, that foul play was not suspected, how her death affected the first day of the Grammy Awards, that her 18-year-old daughter had been taken to the hospital "amid the outpouring of grief", and that her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, had appeared torn up by the news during his show Sunday evening.

Chronology of Media Coverage

- http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/entertainment&id=8540443
- http://www.uticaod.com/news/x2112942721/Superstar-Whitney-Houston-dies-at-age-48

First reliable
- http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5im2K2XXLlbUkbTob5csuNcRdg- RQ?docId=0eddb019206a4ad19c15c120c2c17762

Immediately after AP confirms, mainstream media starts reposting/rehashing/making an obituary about the subject
- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2099983/Whitney-Houston-dead-Pop-legend-Beverley-Hills-hotel-aged-48.html?ITO=1490
- http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/people/10586616-421/singer-whitney-houston-dead-at-48-of-unknown-causes.html

Speculation about death
- http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/02/whitney-houston-death-bathtub-drowning-among-scenarios-probed.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)
- http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981106953

Stories about the mourning
- http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/12/showbiz/whitney-houston/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/whitney-houstons-death-overshadows-horse-race-over-grammy-awards/2012/02/12/gIQAilgj8Q_story.html?tid=pm_entertainment_pop
- http://www.celebuzz.com/2012-02-12/beyonce-reacts-to-whitney-houstons-death-ultimate-legend-ultimate-woman/
- http://celebrity-gossip.net/grammy-awards-2012/paris-hilton-shock-over-whitney-houstons-death-584745
- http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/whitney-houstons-death-overshadows-horse-race-over-grammy-awards/2012/02/12/gIQAilgj8Q_story.html?tid=pm_entertainment_pop
- http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/whitney-houstons-daughter-bobbi-kristina-682500

Teens and social networking can be a messy mix, often leading to conflicts between teens and their parents. Tommy Jordan's solution? Pump nine slugs from a .45-caliber handgun into it and post the result on YouTube.

The display, which in the past three days has snagged over 12 million YouTube hits, has started an enormous debate on the internet, Ottawa Citizen reported. The comments below the video mostly share support for the father, with some complaints from parents who thought that the display was counter-productive and from a few teenagers who thought that it was totally unfair.

Some simply wish that he had donated the laptop to charity or sold it instead of blasting holes in it, CNET reported.

There is no further word on whether the daughter has seen the video or how the family situation is since the destruction of the laptop.

Man Shot, Killed on Nicollet Mall

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A man was shot and killed early Saturday at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Minneapolis in the the city's first homicide of the year.

Witnesses at the scene said that the shooting occurred around 2:30 a.m. in a room on the upper floors of 1313 Nicollet Mall, police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty told the Star Tribune.

A suspect was taken into custody by police at a nearby hotel, reported KARE 11.

The Minneapolis Police Homicide Unit is still investigating the case, and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner will reveal the identity of the victim once the inquiry into his death has been completed, the Pioneer Press reported.

McCarty has characterized the homicide as an isolated incident, telling the Star Tribune, "Our downtown area is pretty safe relative to other cities our size."

Three Indian Politicians from the ruling morally conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including a women's affairs minister, resigned Wednesday after being caught on tape looking at pornography on a phone while sitting in state assembly, the National Post reports.

The ministers denied they were watching porn, but resigned to save their party from embarrassment, USA Today reported. They said that they were watching a foreign rave party scene sent to them to explain what 'rave party' meant, since it had been mentioned earlier in the assembly, Savadi told USA Today.

Renuka Chowdhary, a member of the Congress Party and former federal minister for women's development, used the incident to showcase an ongoing problem in what she sees as a patriarchal Indian society, where she told The Telegraph that women are largely seen as disposable commodities.

"It is really troubling that the people who are in positions of power and have the responsibility to change things actually have the same mindset and are busy watching porn," she told the CNN-IBN news channel, as quoted in The Telegraph.

One of the politicians, C.C. Patil, has requested that the Speaker of the House conduct an inquiry, and that it would surely find them innocent, reported Reuters.

Caucuses that took place Tuesday in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado all went to Rick Santorum, surprising many who thought Romney the unstoppable frontrunner and putting Santorum firmly back in the race, CBS News reported.

Santorum had done quite a bit of canvassing in the midwest and Colorado in the past few weeks, especially as compared to Romney, who only started concentrating on the area a few days ago, and Gingrich, who never really paid these states much attention at all, the Associated Press reported.

Minnesota and Colorado were both decisive victories for Romney in the 2008 Republican primaries, the Wall Street Journal reported. According to WSJ, the distribution of votes in Minnesota with 88 percent counted were as follows:

Rick Santorum 45%
Ron Paul 27%
Mitt Romney 17%
Newt Gingrich 11%

A bill proposed in the state legislature could drastically change schools's hiring decisions in tough times, since it will place teacher evaluations over seniority, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Proponents of the law say teachers oftentimes get tenure too quickly and easily, and that tenured teachers are almost impossible to fire, no matter how poor their performance, the Albert Lea Tribune reported. Rep. Brandon Peterson, author of the bill, told the Daily that he aims to make teacher layoffs less arbitrary and more of a decision making process.

Steve Olson, co-president of the Fergus Falls Education Association, told the Fergus Falls Journal administrators have always been able to terminate poor teachers, and that removing seniority rules might cause some school districts to base layoffs on salaries, causing them to lay off talented older teachers with higher salaries for greener teachers who will work for less.

A recent survey conducted by the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now revealed that almost 80 percent of Minnesotans believe that laying off teachers based solely on experience hurts the quality of education for students, the Star Tribune reported.

Analysis: Attribution

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In the whole MSNBC story about the New Ulm children playing "rape tage", only two sources were used: a letter sent out to parents of the school children from the principal, Bill Sprung, and a later interview Bill Sprung had with msnbc.com.

Both of these sources were named precisely, and were traced back to one person. No information came from official records, or indeed any other interviewee.

The reporter set up the attributions pretty gracefully, I thought, varying the attributions in such a way that, on the first read through, I didn't notice that all the information in the article came from a single person. For example, at one point, she used:

"We addressed it as an inappropriate game," he told msnbc.com on Thursday.

This citation is quite obvious and is similar to what we have been using in class while writing our hard news briefs. It lets the reader know exactly what the source was and gave a direct quote. This allowed her to later use a more subtle approach with her quotation.

Since the letter went home, Sprung said, he's been contacted by about 15 to 20 parents, some of whom were upset about having to discuss the sensitive topic with their children.

This quote refers back to the interview in the first quote and paraphrases what the principal said, allowing this paragraph to be read more fluidly and naturally than the first. Both are quite useful in news writing, since one is more precise, but that level of precision is hard for audience to read and absorb as well.

In all, I felt that the story was set up and written quite effectively, though it could have used more sources and points of view. It would have added some more color to directly hear from one of the parents or, if the reporter was lucky enough, one of the children.

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Saturday that would have called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, in a move that angered the rest of the international community, USA Today reported.

This resolution failed on the heels of one of the deadliest government assaults in the history of the 11-month Syrian resistance movement, the Associated Press reported, as reportedly over 200 civilians have been killed in Homs over the last two days.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told CNN that, "Those that have blocked potentially the last effort to resolve this peacefully . . . Will have any future blood spill on their hands. The people of Syria have yet again been abandoned by this Council and by the international community."

China and Russia said that they saw the resolution as a potential violation to Syria's sovereignty, and Russia said that the resolution did not place sufficient blame for the violence on the opposition and that its stipulation that Syrian troops withdraw to their barracks was was unrealistic, the New York Times reported.

New Ulm fifth-graders have alarmed their parents, school officials and the world after inventing and playing a game called "rape tag" during recess, reported MSNBC.

Principal Bill Strung of Washington Elementary School was first made aware of the game when a concerned parent contacted him, and he in turn wrote a letter to parents warning them about the game, reported the Pioneer Press. That letter, posted online by MSNBC, noted that the game was "similar to freeze tag except that a person had to be humped to be unfrozen."

Strung also said that this sort of behavior was crude, but not that abnormal, since 10- to 12-year-old adolescents are at a time in their lives when they are start to mature and experiment, reported the Daily Mail.

A Party Divided?

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Mitt Romney may have had a decisive victory in Florida, but Newt Gingrich is far from calling it quits, BBC reported.

Romney had an impressive 46.4% of the Florida vote to Gingrich's 31.9%, the Huffington Post reported, but one shouldn't forget that Gingrich has won two of the four contested states in the primaries that have been held so far and that, as the sign in front of his podium last night put it, there are still, "46 states to go"

Some have some concerns over whether a drawn-out negative ad war like the one that has been waged between Romney and Gingrich might severely hurt the Republican party's chances of defeating President Obama in November, CNN reported. However Ralph Reed, a former conservative politician himself, thinks that a competitive primary often leads to stronger final candidates by the time the real election rolls around, citing the Hilary Clinton/Barrack Obama race of 2008 and the Reagan/Ford battle in 1976 in an interview with CNN.

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