Main | March 2009 »

February 9, 2009

Victim Shot Twice, May be Drug-related: Police

In this story, which the Calgary Herald reported: Victim Shot Twice, May be Drug-related: Police, there are two sources used: the police and a specific police officer, Inspector Rob Williams. The only named source is Inspector Rob Williams; the “police� are referred to multiple times, but only as a collective entity. The victim of the story is not named or identified.

The news story is written up almost as if it is a report: the police are providing the bulk of the information, while Williams provides a few quotes on behalf of the City of Calgary Police Department.

It is not determined whether the information provided for the story by the police is from a report or the actual Department (issuing a release, for example). Information given by Williams is provided from his personal experience and expertise on the situation.

Each paragraph of the news story includes information provided by either the police or Williams, and each attribution is clearly stated (therefore the sources are named consistently throughout the story).

The reporter of the story sets up the attribution by stating at the beginning of each paragraph who is providing the information being reported: either the police or Williams. The only time the name of the source is not given at the start of a paragraph is when Williams gives a quote in the second paragraph.

Given that the story refers to two different sources, it is effective in that by saying who is providing the information for each paragraph, the reader is able to follow and understand the story much more easily.

Royalton Superintendent Killed in Collision

Superintendent of the Royalton Public Schools was killed in a collision Saturday Night, reports the Star Tribune.

John P. Franzoia, 62, was rear-ended by a 49-year-old St. Cloud man around 6:15 pm Friday at the intersection of Highway 15 and Stearns County Road 1 near Sartell. (Star Tribune)

The driver who rear-ended Franzoia’s vehicle was in jail Saturday after officers detected alcohol while investigating the crash.

Phil Gurbada, principal of Royalton Elementary School, said that the news of the accident was “a major shock.� (Pioneer Press)

Franzoia worked for the Royalton school division, which is located mainly in Morrison Country, for about 23 years; he was a superintendent for 18 years and a high school principal for six.

Australian Wildfires Kill 108, Believed to Increase

Death tolls have grown to 108 and are expected to rise as the deadliest wildfire in Australian history continues to plunge the southern state of Victoria into ash and dust, reported USA Today.

Driven by winds of more than 62 mph and temperatures that rose to 117 degrees in Melbourne made Saturday the hottest day on record – a perfect day for a fire to start.

At least 700 homes have been destroyed and more than 80 people have been hospitalized, the New York Times reported. Hospital officials said that at least 20 of the victims were burn patients and unlikely to survive.

“Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria,� Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reports on Sunday. “This is an appalling tragedy.� (USA Today)

Nearly 3,000 firefighters battled 30 uncontrolled large wildfires Sunday, which had burned more than 770 square miles of forest and farmland across Victoria.

Although some of the fires were thought to have been started by arsonists, wildfires are common during the hot, dry summer months in Australia since the oil-rich eucalyptus forests become vulnerable to lightning or sparks from farm equipment. (New York Times)

Last week’s prolonged drought made the conditions even more dangerous.

Officials believe that the conditions had eased considerably since Saturday, although it will be days until the fires can be contained.

The country’s last deadly blaze occurred during the “Ash Wednesday� fires of 1983, when 75 people died and hundreds of homes were lost across southern Australia.

Dead Man Exonerated of Rape Charges

The first posthumous DNA exoneration occurred Friday in the state of Texas when a man who died in prison while serving time for rape was cleared of all charges, USA Today reported.

Timothy Cole, who was 25-years-old in 1985 when he was convicted of raping a Texas Tech University student, had his record expunged from the charges when DNA tests conducted in 2008 connected the rape to Jerry Wayne Johnson.

Johnson, who is currently serving a life-sentence in prison for separate rape charges, testified in court Friday, admitting that he was the one responsible for the rape and apologized for his selfish behavior.

Cole died in prison in 1999 while serving his 25-year sentence from asthma complications at the age of 39. (New York Times)

The Innocence Project of Texas said that Cole’s case was the first posthumous DNA exoneration in the state.

Michele Mallin, the woman Cole was charged with raping, has come forward to publicly help clear Cole’s name.

Mallin had picked Cole’s photo out of a photo lineup and later identified him in a live lineup and again in court. She said that Lubbuck officials had portrayed Cole unjustly while handling her case.

Gary Wells, an Iowa State University professor and expert in witness testimony, said that lineups could be manipulated so that witnesses end up identifying the person who looks most like the one that committed the crime.

“If the real perpetrator is not in the lineup, it’s a horrible strategy,� Wells said. (USA Today).

February 5, 2009

Most-Wanted Nazi War Criminal Found Dead – in 1992

Documents containing information on the world’s most-wanted Nazi war criminal have surfaced in Egypt, reported USA Today.

A report released by the New York Times on Wednesday show that Aribert Ferdinand Heim, who was a member of Adolf Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS, had died in Cairo, in 1992.

Heim, who was living under the pseudonym Tarek Hussein Farid, had been on the run from authorities since shortly after World War II. He had been accused of war crimes stemming from his position as medical doctor at the Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Some of these allegations included Heim performing operations on prisoners without anesthesia; removing organs from healthy inmates, then leaving them to die on the operating table; and injecting poison, including gasoline, into the hearts of his victims. (New York Times)

A war crimes investigating team from the United States took testimony from Josef Kohl, a farmer inmate at Mauthausen, regarding Heim’s crimes, on Jan. 18, 1946.

A briefcase was discovered in a hotel room where Heim had lived containing bank slips, a passport and medical papers, as well as an application for Egyptian residency under the Islamic name of Tarek Hussein Farid.

Authorities had come close to capturing Heim in Germany in 1962, but Heim narrowly escaped. He had been living in the town of Baden-Baden with his family while working as a gynecologist.

Heim’s son, Rüdiger Heim, who kept his father’s location a secret from police, said that his father had died from rectal cancer on Aug. 10, 1992.

U of M Gopher Groper Caught

After allegedly groping several women on the University of Minnesota campus, a 41-year-old man has been arrested and jailed for suspicion of criminal sexual conduct, reports the

The suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested Tuesday after a woman placed a call to University police around 8:30 pm claiming that she had just been molested by an unknown man just outside the McNamara Alumni Center.

Police said the suspect was last seen running in the direction of the Aquatics Center. Officers spotted a man who matched the description provided by the victim on the East Bank campus, where the man was arrested.

There have been at least nine other incidents since December that have resulted in women having their genitals grabbed by a man sometimes riding a bike.

As police were arresting the suspect, dispatchers told them that another groping incident had occurred 20 minutes prior to the 8:30 pm complaint on Washington Ave. Both victims, who are also students at the University, were shown the suspect where they identified him as their assailant.

While police were informing the suspect of possible criminal charges, the man confessed to the groping of 10 women near the University campus, police said. (Pioneer Press).

The suspect has been booked in to the Hennepin County Jail on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. No formal charges have yet been made.

February 2, 2009

Man Dies After Hours Alone on Frozen Lake

This lead from a Canadian newspaper, the Calgary Herald, reads: "A Winnipeg man died Saturday night after being alone on Lake Winnipeg ice for six hours before he was rescued."

The news elements that are at work in this story's lead are the WHO (a Winnipeg man), WHEN (Saturday night), WHERE (Lake Winnipeg), WHAT (he died after being alone on the ice for six hours before he was rescued). The WHY and HOW are both later explained in the rest of the story.

The detailed information in the lead include the WHEN and WHERE; instead of simply writing "Saturday," the writer wrote "Saturday night." This information could be considered general, however, since the exact time the emergency call was placed to the RCMP and the time at which the man was found on the ice are given later in the story. Also, the WHERE is detailed; instead of simply writing "in Winnipeg," "a lake in Winnipeg," "or on a lake," the writer describes what exact lake the man was discovered at.

The general information in the lead includes the WHO; the man's name is not given and it actually states at the end of the story that the family's name would not be released.

The WHAT could be considered both detailed and general, to a certain extent. The fact that the man died after being left alone for six hours on the ice describes the reason the story is being written in the first place. However, details described later in the story enhance the reader's understanding of what exactly happened. For example, the lead does not describe how the man had been riding with his two children when he had a "medical emergency" after the trio got lost on Lake Winnipeg. The reader learns why it took the RCMP six hours to locate the man (his children did not know where they got lost and therefore where their father was) and why he was on the ice (they had gone out snowmobiling). This information enhances the WHAT by bringing to light some of the WHY and the HOW. The information provided for the WHAT in the lead is therefore most likely general.

This lead works for this story in this particular paper, since most Canadians know where Lake Winnipeg is. The Calgary Herald is an Albertan newspaper and is in close proximity to the province of Manitoba, therefore assuming that the readers would be interested in learning about the death of an unknown man from Winnipeg. Also, the cold weather in Canada, particularly in the middle and eastern (and northern) provinces give this story a particular edge in terms of its interest rate; readers in Calgary (where the weather is often similar to that of Winnipeg) are probably going to be interested in the fact that a man froze to death after being left alone outside for six hours.

February 1, 2009

Colorado Man Threatens to Kill Obama, Blow up Mall of America

After making threats to kill President Barack Obama and blow up the Mall of America in Bloomington, a 20-year-old Colorado man has been indicted, reports the Star Tribune.

Timothy Ryan Gutierrez of Cortez, Colo., turned himself in to FBI offices in Durango after sending them an e-mail saying that he was “going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. PS you have 48 hours to stop it from happening.� (Star Tribune)

Gutierrez also e-mailed the FBI, threatening to blow up the Mall of America: “I have rigged 40 pounds of C4 [a moldable plastic explosive] … and my favorite TNT to 7 cars outside the Mall of America.� (Star Tribune)

Mall of America officials were notified of the threat by the FBI and Bloomington police and determined that the threat was inauspicious after a daylong search.

Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said that FBI agents actually went to Gutierrez’s apartment Jan. 12 after the reception of the e-mails and spoke to him, although it is now unclear why Gutierrez was not arrested.

“Both threats were taken seriously, and both threats were investigated immediately by the FBI,� said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette. (Pioneer Press)

Gutierrez faces one count each of transmission of threats and of falsely threatening to use explosives. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday in Denver.

Ebola Virus Infects Five

Five people have tested positive for the nondeadly strain of the Ebola virus, Philippine and international health authorities said Friday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Four pig-farmers have been infected by the harmless Ebola-Reston strain of the virus from their livestock. In addition, a Philippine pig-handler had tested positive for the virus on Friday, Jan. 23, although according to the New York Times, the worker had been infected for at least six months.

Ebola-Reston, usually known as a monkey virus, was first discovered in Philippine pigs last year. Health authorities conducted tests on blood samples taken from 6,000 pigs and 50 workers on farms and slaughterhouses. Only four pigs and one worker tested positive. (New York Times)

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque said that it was possible the pigs had passed on the virus to the workers. If the transmissions were proven, then it would be the first time humans had contracted the disease from a pig.

First discovered in Philippine monkeys in 1989, Ebola-Reston is not known to cause much more than a mild flu. However, Zaire, Sudan and Bundibugyo strains of Ebola that are found in some African apes, can cause fatal hemorrhagic fever and result in death. (New York Times)

Although the virus would not be thought of as harmful should tests prove transmission between pigs and humans possible, some health officials worry that the ability of pigs to preserve viruses could lead to a mutation into something more deadly.

Perhaps more important, Philippine health and agricultural agencies are working with international Food and Agriculture organizations to try and find out how the virus jumped from monkeys to pigs.

Dr. Juan Lubroth, chief of animal health at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, believes that bats similar to those found in Africa that carry the Ebola-Reston virus, have been found in the Philippines. It is possible that the virus had been contracted through bat droppings or the consumption of dead bodies.

Local Man Shot and Killed During Robbery, Trying to Protect Cousin

A St. Paul man was fatally shot early Saturday morning during a robbery attempt while trying to protect his brother, the Pioneer Press reported.

Jeffery Lamont Logan, 44, was gunned down in an alley behind the Attucks-Brooks American Legion Hall in St. Paul after three men tried to rob Logan’s cousin whom was with Logan at the time.

Police responded to a report of an attempted robbery and shooting around 1 a.m. in the St. Paul’s Summit-University neighborhood, where the Legion Hall was located.

Logan was found lying in the alley when paramedics arrived. They rushed Logan to the St. Paul’s Regions Hospital where he was officially declared dead.

Witnesses described the vehicle seen leaving the scene shortly after the shooting, allowing police to locate the vehicle only six blocks away from where the crime took place.

After a brief car chase that ended when the fleeing vehicle hit a planter at Laurel Avenue and St. Albans Street, police arrested three men. Ronald Hill, 20, of West St. Paul, Elston Marc Williamson, 28, of St. Paul, and Henry Mercello Reed, 27, of St. Paul were placed into the Ramsey Country jail where they await formal charges of homicide by the Ramsey County attorney’s office. (Star Tribune)

A native of St. Paul, family members say that Logan would most likely have given the robbers money had they asked for it.

“If you would have walked up to my brother and asked for $20, he would have gave it to you,� said Charles Walker, Logan’s brother. (Pioneer Press)

Olympic Hero Pictured Smoking Marijuana, Apologizes for “Bad Judgment�

14-time Olympic gold medalist and swimmer, Michael Phelps is currently under fire over photos depicting the Beijing champion smoking marijuana from a bong.

First reported by the British tabloid News of the World Sunday, the winner of a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games was pictured holding a bong to his mouth, a device used for marijuana consumption, at a University of South Carolina house party back in November.

Originally in South Carolina to attend a school football game, the News of the World also reported that a witness says the sports phenomenon was “out of control from the moment he got there.� (News of the World)

Phelps released a statement to the Associated Press saying that he “engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,� and did not argue against the supposed authenticity of the picture. (USA Today)

Phelps had recently returned to the pool in January after a five-month hiatus following his Olympic victory to train for the 2009 World Championships in Rome.

Drug use in the sport of swimming is a violation, one that can result in an athlete’s suspension of anywhere from one year to a full lifetime ban. The use of marijuana would be considered a drug violation should an athlete’s test results come back positive.

This is not the first time Phelps has made the news regarding illegal activity. In 2004, after the Olympic Games in Athens where Phelps took home six gold and two bronze medals, he was arrested for driving under the influence at age 19. He has since apologized for his mistake.

Slow Emergency Response Kills 100 Kenyans, Wounding More

An explosion caused by an overturned gasoline tanker on a Kenyan highway has killed more than 100 people and left another 200 wounded, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The tanker overturned in Molo on Saturday around 7 p.m. Looters quickly took advantage of the situation, filling cups and cans with spilled gasoline. Kenyan police quickly arrived at the scene to break up the looters but were met with resistance.

The cause of the explosion is presently unknown. Witnesses report that the intervention of Kenyan police caused one looter to light a match and throw it into the gasoline. The Wall Street Journal reported that Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in a news conference on Sunday that a cigarette had been the cause of the explosion.

Hundreds in the surrounding crowd caught on fire and were forced to run into the nearby brush.

Emergency forces were slow to respond, taking over an hour to arrive at the scene even though the city of Molo is just over 100 miles away from the capital of Nairobi.

The Kenyan Red Cross said that the death toll had reached 113 by Sunday, while another 178 had been severely injured.

The explosion is the second incident to occur in Kenya in one week. On Wednesday, a supermarket fire in downtown Nairobi left 25 dead due to slow emergency dispatch units.