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September 30, 2007

Structure Analysis

I really liked the structure of this article, because it grabs you from the beginning. The first line, "the Coen brothers are coming home," just made me want to read more. The next three paragraphs are about why the Coen brothers are shooting here and all about my homestate and their roots here, and that's what makes me interested. The next few paragraphs are about what that means to Minnesota and why it will benefit us, but the story wraps up with praise for the Coen brothers and their home state, which makes me proud to be Minnesotan. It's a nice little wrap-up and what I think of as a fun and happy piece.

Coens to Film In Minnesota

The Coen brothers decided to shoot another film in Minnesota, despite hard lobbying in Wisconsin to have the directors move shop across the border, according to the Pioneer Press.
The Coen brothers, who wrote and directed Fargo, among many other films, decided to film their newest film, “A Serious Man,? in their native Minnesota. The film is budgeted at $15 million and the shoot is expected to last 50 days. Great benefits are expected to come to Minnesota as a result of shooting here.
One insider who’s read the “A Serious Man? script called it “funny as hell,? according to the Pioneer Press. The shoot is expected to begin in April.

Mayor Pleads Not Guilty

The Mayor of Spicer, a city in Wilmar, Minnesota, pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and fifth-degree assault Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Mayor Perry Wohnoutka, 47, was arrested Sept. 1 after an incident at a Spicer bar. Prosecutors said that Wohnoutka had been drinking for a while at Melvin’s on the Lake in Spicer when the bar’s owner told his bartenders to stop serving him drinks. Two bartenders tried to put the mayor on his bike to go home and a fight ensued, prosecutors said.
According to a breath test, Wonhoutka had a blood-alcohol level of 0.217 percent, the police report said. He went to jail that night and was released the following day.
Wonhoutka will hire a private attorney to represent him.

Gates Asks for $190 Billion

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for an extra $42 billion appropriation to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, bringing the total fund request for 2008 to $189.3 billion, according to the Washington Post.
The extra $42 billion requested includes $14 billion for force protection and $6 billion to “support the Army and Marine combat formations currently in Iraq,? according to the Washington Post. The request also includes $6 billion for training; $9 billion to “ensure that critical equipment and technology is available for future missions;? and $1 billion to “train and equip Iraqi soldiers,? according to the Washington Post.
The Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Robert Byrd said the committee wouldn’t “rubber stamp? the request, according to the Wall Street Journal. The request will most likely begin a confrontation between President Bush and congressional democrats, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Star Tribune Overcharges Franken

The Star Tribune will refund $12,000 spent on a full-page ad to the Al Franken Senate campaign, according to a Franken campaign official, the Star Tribune reported on Wednesday.
The Star Tribune reported Norm Coleman’s campaign took out a full-page ad this week and paid $23,000, according to the Coleman campaign, which is much less than the $37,000 the Franken campaign paid for their full-page ad two months ago.
According to the Star Tribune’s senior vice president for communications and marketing, Benjamin Taylor, Franken was charged the correct rate and Coleman was charged the wrong one. The fault, Taylor said, was with a new sales rep who gave the Coleman campaign the local rate rather than the national one, according to the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune said from here on, both campaigns will be charged the national rate.

Monks' Protest Causes Tension

Up to 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns took to the streets of Rangoon, Burma Monday in a protest against the country’s military rulers that blossomed to include tens of thousands, according to The Guardian.
Burma’s military junta threatened that it was “ready to take action? against the monks, according to the BBC. “Brig Gen Thura Myint Maung, minister for religion, warned them not to break Buddhist ‘rules and regulations’ as Rangoon saw the largest march yet. He blamed the protests on ‘destructive elements opposed to peace in Burma,’? the BBC said.
The protest, which monks are proclaiming to be peaceful, are aimed to establish a democracy and peace in Burma.
The White House has declared President Bush will announce new US sanctions against Burmese leaders, according to the BBC. These sanctions would include a ban on US visas.
The last protest in Burma against a military government in 1988 resulted in 3,000 killed by the junta. So far, the military has shown restraint.

September 23, 2007

Attribution Analysis

This article uses five different sources, all of whom were named. One source was named in almost every paragraph of the story. All of the information is from people, though some of it could be checked up in the public record. The reporter usually uses “according to? when naming sources, but does it in such a way that the article flows well. The attributions are effective and not confusing.

Bush Vows to Veto Kids' Health Care Bill

President Bush declared Saturday he would veto a kids’ health care bill which has received substantial bi-partisan support, according to the New York Times.
Congress passed a bill expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is a state-federal program that finances health insurance for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to pay for private coverage. Most of those covered under the program are children. The program expires September 30, and Congress’ bill, which was proposed by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers Friday, would raise federal tax on cigarettes from 61 cents to $1 per pack and would add $35 billion over five years to the program, according to the New York Times. The move would add 4 million people to the program, which already serves 6.6 million.
Bush called Democrats irresponsible for passing a bill they knew would be vetoed.
“Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point,? he said.
Democrat Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell rebuffed, saying that if Bush doesn’t sign the bill, 15 states will be left without any funding for the program by the end of September.
“Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage -- not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage,? Bush said, also saying the bill is too costly and unacceptably raises taxes.
The bill received tremendous Democratic support along with considerable Republican support.

Plaque Causes Controversy

A man who murdered his ex-fiancé and then shot himself in 2005 was memorialized two weeks ago at a city softball park in Erskine, Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.
David Defrang, who coached youth baseball and basketball teams before his murder-suicide, was honored with a plaque in Erskine Athletic Park which reads, “In loving memory of David DeFrang, whose love and devotion to our children is greatly appreciated,? according to the Star Tribune.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Defrang, 44, shot Tina Gerving, 39, to death on January 23, 2005, according to the Star Tribune. Gerving had called off their wedding two weeks earlier.
According to Patty Morrison, who coordinated the effort to put the plaque up, the murder-suicide was “one of those things that is impossible to explain,? the Grand Forks Herald reported.
Gerving’s aunt, Linda Emerson, was displeased to hear of the plaque.
“Yeah? Why don’t they make on for Charles Manson, too?? she said, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
According to Morrison, Defrang was well-liked by the community. “Every day in here would make us laugh. He was just a very, very happy person,? she said, according to the Grand Forks Herald. Emerson disagreed.
“He was a very egotistical S.O.B.,? she said, according to the Grand Forks Herald. “He wore a T-shirt like that to show it. It said 'It's All About Me.'?

Lebanese MP Assassinated

An anti-Syrian Lebanese MP was assassinated in Beirut on Wednesday in a car bomb so strong it killed six others, injured at least 30 more, set four cars on fire and damaged buildings nearby, according to the BBC.
Antoing Ghenim, the assassinated MP, was a member of Parliament for the Maronite Phalange party since 2000. Ghenim was the sixth pro-west public figure to be killed since the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, according to The Guardian. His assassination took place a week before Lebanese MPs are scheduled to elect a new president, according to the BBC.
The Syrian government denied all involvement in the assassination.

Congress Fails to Re-Enact Habeas Corpus

A bill fashioned to provide terrorist suspects the right to “challenge their detentions in federal court? failed in the Senate on Thursday despite majority support, according to the New York Times.
The move to end debate on the bill and vote on it immediately, a move called cloture, received 53 votes, seven votes short of the 60 needed to achieve a cloture. If the bill had passed it would have provided habeas corpus rights to non-Americans who have been labeled “enemy combatants,? rights which were suspended last year in a Congressional act signed by President Bush. Habeas corpus rights are meant to protect against indefinite imprisonment without a court review.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said depriving prisoners of habeas corpus rights damaged America’s global reputation, according to Al-Jazeera. “It also allows our enemies to accomplish something they could never achieve on a battlefield: whittling away the liberties that make us who we are,? Leahy said, according to Al-Jazeera.
Republican Senator Jon Kyle disagreed. “Never has such an unprecedented legal right been granted to a prisoner of war or detainee,? he said, according to the New York Times.

Robot Performs Open-Heart Surgery

A new procedure for open-heart surgery using robotic arms is now available in Minnesota, according to WCCO.
The new procedure, in which a robot controlled by a surgeon makes a one-inch incision in the patient’s chest and goes in to complete the surgery, is only offered at Regions Hospital in St. Paul although it is available in other states.
In contrast to traditional open-heart surgery, where a patient is cut from the top of the chest down to the navel and ribs are broken, robotic surgery is much less invasive. The robotic arms, controlled by a surgeon eight feet from the patient, make a small incision in the chest, go into the body, and complete the stitching inside the heart. An advantage to this procedure is the tiny camera connected to the robot, which gives the surgeon a much different view of the heart than what is seen in traditional surgery.
“The robot will transmit our tiny moves very effectively without tremor so the dexterity you get with the robot is phenomenal,? Dr. Goya Raikar, who has performed the surgery, said, according to WCCO.
The robot procedure shortens traditional recovery times by weeks.

September 16, 2007

Leads Analysis

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Sept. 13 — The prosecution’s star witness in the trial of the fundamentalist Mormon polygamist leader Warren S. Jeffs testified on Thursday that she was taught to either obey church leaders without question or face dire consequences. –The New York Times
In this lead, the journalist identifies the who (the witness), the what (testified), the where (in the trial of the fundamentalist Mormon polygamist leader), the when (Thursday), and to an extent the why (she was taught to obey church leaders). The lead is specific in the where, because that is one of the most important and interesting details, and also to an extent the why: it’s always interesting and is also crucial to the case the beliefs of extreme religious sects. What’s left general is the who. We know that the witness is a girl, but we don’t know the witness’ name. What’s important is that she is the prosecution’s star witness—we can wait to find out her name.

Star Witness Testifies in Polygamist's Trial

The prosecution’s main witness in the trial against William S. Jeffs, the leader of a Mormon polygamist sect, testified Thursday that Jeffs forced her into marriage in 2001 at the age of 14, the New York Times reported.
The witness, identified as Jane Doe, testified that Jeffs was “God on earth to us,? according to The Guardian, and that she would forfeit her chance at the afterlife if she disobeyed him, according to the New York Times. Jeffs, 51, is charged with rape as an accomplice. The prosecution alleges that Jeffs forced Doe to marry her 19-year-old first cousin and pressured her into having sex with her husband, according to the Washington Post.
Doe testified again on Friday, saying that she begged for the ceremony to be postponed until she was 16 or for another man to be chosen, but Jeffs told her, “Your heart is in the wrong place; this is what the prophet wants you to do,? according to the Washington Post. At the wedding, Doe testified, she had to be persuaded through tears to say “I do? and to kiss her husband, at which time Jeffs commanded them to “go forth and multiply,? according to the Washington Post. Later, according to Doe, she told Jeffs she didn’t like to be touched and begged him to release her from marriage, but he denied her divorce, according to the Washington Post.
Jeffs, who was on the FBI’s most wanted list when he was arrested in August 2006, faces life in prison if convicted, according to the Washington Post.

Oprah Lends Obama a Hand

Multi-millionaire and public icon Oprah Winfrey held an exclusive and high-profile fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Saturday, according to the New York Times. The event, which was held at Winfrey’s home in Santa Barbara, was invitation-only, and the ticket price was $2,300, within campaign donation limits.
Celebrity guests included Chris Rock, Cindy Crawford, Sidney Poitier, Dennis Haysbert and Stevie Wonder, who performed at the event, among others.
Cameras and recording devices were prohibited at the event, and guests, after being escorted in high-class vehicles, were put through security measures, according to the New York Times.
The event is expected to have raised $3 million for the Obama campaign.

September 13, 2007

Inmate Escapes Using Only His Feet

An inmate who was set to go on parole next February walked out of a minimum-security unit at a Lino Lakes state prison on Saturday, according to the Star Tribune.
Jun Williams Vang, 27, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to second degree attempted murder for the benefit of a gang, the Star Tribune said. In the case, Vang confessed to his role as a driver in an attempted drive-by shooting in Maplewood.
Vang was under minimum custody since January 25 and was scheduled to be paroled in February, according to the Pioneer Press.
Authorities are now searching for Vang, who walked out of the minimum-security unit between the prisoner counts at 1:45 and 4:30 p.m. According to the Pioneer Press, “Lino Lakes police officer Dale Hager said prison officials told police that Vang had a car waiting outside when he left.? According to the Pioneer Press, Hager said Lino Lakes prison officials notified police two hours after Vang walked out.
Anyone with information on Vang’s whereabouts is asked to call 911.

Pawlenty Schedules Session for Flood Relief

Governor Tim Pawlenty called a special session at the State Capitol Monday to pass a disaster relief bill, according to the Star Tribune. Pawlenty called the session in response to pressure from victims of the severe floods earlier this summer in southeastern Minnesota. The session is set to for Tuesday at 5 p.m. Legislators from both parties have promised to stay on task. Pawlenty said relief to victims could be in low-interest, deferred or forgivable loans and potentially could get to homeowners and businesses within days of the bill’s passage, the Star Tribune reported Monday. If the bill passed, it would provide $121 million in aid to southeastern Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.
Some of the money will help those affected by the summer drought, according to the Pioneer Press, but the special session will not address the 35W bridge collapse recovery effort. “Lawmakers and the governor discussed those issues in recent weeks but dropped them from the special session agenda when they could not agree,? the Pioneer Press reported.

U.K. Okays Human-Animal Embryos

British regulators decided to allow the practice of combining human and animal cells to create hybrid embryos September 5. British scientists say that the embryos are needed due to a shortage in healthy human eggs and that they will greatly aid stem cell research, according to Reuters. The scientists hope to use the embryos to create the stem cells, which they say will further research in treating degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Each case of combining cells will have to be considered and approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Reuters reported. One group from King’s College London and one group from Newcastle University have applied in the U.K. and are awaiting the HFEA’s decision, according to the BBC.
The process of combining cells consists of removing the DNA from a cow egg’s nucleus then injecting a human nucleus into the egg, creating an egg that is 99.9% human and 0.1% cow, the BBC reported. Although most U.K. news sites report a general comfort among the British people with the process, there is opposition. According to EuroNews, Anthony Ozimic, a member of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “The hype surrounding hybrids is being promoted by those with a vested interest in the government's stem cell research fund, and yet again patients with degenerative conditions are being given false hope by the profit-hungry biotech industry.?
Chief Executive of the HFEA Angela McNab dismissed similar arguments. “Many people initially have a disquiet about this type of research, but once people understand much more about what's involved, they're able to focus more on what the potential benefits of the science are, and they feel much more comfortable about it,? she said, according to EuroNews.