December 14, 2008

Human Bone Fragments Found in Argentine Detention Center

Representatives of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, also known as EAAF, announced Tuesday that their professionals had found about 10,000 human bone fragments buried at the site of an old Argentine detention center. This government detention center was active between 1976 and 1983 when there was a coup and dictatorship in the country and thousands of citizens were abducted and never found again. These people are know in their country as "los desaparecidos," or "the disappeared". The find helps to verify the belief that detention centers were not only places of torture but also of killings as well.

The fragments were found over a period of seven months, and will be analyzed for DNA and possible identification in 2009. The anthropologists warned in their news conference that many of the fragments may not be able to be identified because they were exposed to flame and burns for too long.

Both of the articles that I read were contributed to by the Associated Press but, surprisingly, they read differently. CNN included quotes from the secretary of human rights for Buenos Aires province and the president of the EAAF. Some of the quotes are too long though...they seem repetitive and are confusing to read due to the language barrier and translation.

The article from the New York Times is shorter but written in a much more flowery tone. Not that it was a happy article but it was written with more descriptive, colorful words. It does not include as many quotes (only one from the president of EAAF and one from the legal chairwoman for the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights La Plata. ONe major difference is that the CNN story says 30,000 people went missing in that time while the NYT article acknowledges that number but says that only 13,000 have been recorded.

December 7, 2008

Riots in Greece After Teen's Death

The shooting and killing of a 16-year-old boy by two police officers in Central Athens has caused an uproar of riots by young anarchists across the country. The shooting took place Saturday night, in Exarchia, the anarchists' home
base, and spurred on the destruction and burning of stores, vehicles, and homes throughout Saturday night and again on Sunday night. Police are using tear gas to combat the rioters.

Both articles identified that Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos intended to have a thorough investigation of the shooting because a democracy would not stand stand for the taking of someone's life. Both articles also identified that rioters take refuge on university campuses where police are not allowed.

used an Associated Press article for their coverage of this story. The story is moderate in length, but for the length, their is not very much detail. It seems very general. The article makes note of the fact that anarchists and polic often clash and that when riots occur, they usually are aimed at police vehicles and buildings. This is happening currently, but other stores, banks and vehicles have been affected. This story reads very broad and also seems repetitive. Maybe since each paragraph seems vague, it seems like you're reading the same thing over and over.

CNN covers the story in a shorter article but fit more specific, clear details into the story than MSNBC did. The article starts out strong with a quote from a CNN press officer who was in the middle of the action. The article says that tourists in Athens hotels were told not to leave their rooms and that one apartment complex was evacuated due to fire. Whereas MSNBC did not disclose details of the shooting (saying it was unclear what happened), CNN gave details that the teenager and 5 others were throwing stones at a police car and attempted to throw a fuel bomb. Another important point that CNN includes is the sentencing of the officers so far. One has been charged with "manslaughter with intent".

November 23, 2008

Shoppers Pay with Cash, Not Credit, this Holiday Season

Consumers, credit card companies and stores alike are all feeling the financial crunch this season, and seeing the buying trend as well: consumers are opting to buy with cash or debit cards as opposed to racking up their credit card bill.

A Reuters article wrote on this trend after the National Retail Federation's 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was taken by nearly 9,000 consumers earlier this month. This article acknowledges the trend that 64.3% of responders say they will use either cash or debit card to buy holiday gifts while only 31.5% will use credit cards. The article attributes this significant difference to the worsening economy and the rising prices of essential purchases like food. There is no room for extra payments and fees. The article suggests that high-end and low-end stores will be advertising bargains to cater to this situation. This article steers a little off topic when it talks about other results from the survey such as what categories of gifts are most popular this year.

An article taken from Yahoo! News also addresses this spending trend but does a better job at explaining the claim. Multiple large stores such as Target, WalMart and JCPenney are cited in the article as saying that this is the first year they've seen credit card usage drop. The article uses a personal narrative throughout the story to help the readers identify with one particular family who is cutting down spending this year. The article also talks about the trend through the eyes of middle-class stores such as JCPenneys that are seeing more purchases being made around the times that paychecks are received indicating that middle-class families are feeling the pinch as well. Finally, this article introduces the idea that this is a new way a spending that will settle in consumers much like it did with those after the Great Depression.

November 16, 2008

More Than 1,600 Congo Children Separated from Parents

Fighting in eastern Congo has displaced more than 250,000 people from their homes. Approximately 70,000 of these refugees have gone to a camp in the city Kibati, only a few miles from more potential fighting. There was little fighting this week, allowing aid agencies to focus on the children in the camp, more than 1,600 of whom are separated from their parents. Agencies search for parents to the children and those children who are not claimed have been taken in by other families.

The ABC News coverage of this story, which was taken from the Associated Press, is lengthy and written through the eyes of on-the-scene reporters. The language is descriptive, and facts and quotes from UNICEF workers are merely secondary to the quotes from children and visual descriptions in the article. Children are described as grubby, as drinking muddy water out of streams, and as potential rape prey for drunken soldiers. The article uses these descriptions to pull the heartstrings of the reader and to do harsh reality justice. The article then points out that the agencies have difficulty because children can rarely describe their parents well and their are no official records in the Congo.

An article taken from the Detroit Free Press uses the same Associated Press article but in a much abbreviated version. An narrative opening is used but after that, the article compiles the facts and 5 Ws of the situation. The article does not paint the picture of the refugee camp nearly as well as it does in it's entirety. I attribute the usage of the smaller article to the fact that the Detroit Free Press is not as widely read as ABC News is. The Free Press may have an International section in its paper but will not go in depth on the stories like ABC as a main network does.

November 8, 2008

Italian Prime Minister Gives No Apology After Questionable Obama Comment

Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has caused a fervor amongst Italian citizens and others worldwide after making a questionable comment Thursday regarding US president-elect, Barack Obama. In a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev, Berlusconi called Obama "young, handsome and suntanned" and stated that these were "all the qualities" necessary for the two presidents to have a good relationship in the future. When confronted by a journalist to apologize for the comment, Berlusconi refused, accusing critics of having no sense of humor and of being imbeciles.

This is not Berlusconi's first remark about political figures that has gotten a reaction out of people. He, in fact, has a reputation of doing so. In 2002, he described the Prime Minister of Denmark as “so handsome I’m thinking of introducing him to my wife.? In 2005, he hinted that he had encouraged the Finnish president into a decision by "wooing" her. “I had to use all my playboy tactics, even if they have not been used for some time,? he said.

The article includes the same information as the BBC article but goes more in-depth on the public reaction to Berlusconi's comments. The article paints a very negative picture of the prime minister, suggesting that he is inappropriate and that his comments are tired out. The most interesting thing about this article is that Berlusconi's high apprval ratings are acknowledged but never supported. What is the other side of this leader that so many people like?

November 2, 2008

Vatican Issues Screening Guidelines for Future Priests

The Vatican issued a new document Thursday urging the use of psychological tests on candidates for priesthood. The new document says that tests should be conducted to assure a "positive and stable sense of one's masculine identity" and to detect either homosexual tendencies or uncontrollable heterosexual urges. This is the Vatican's second document that deals with the sexual scandals that took place in the Catholic Church six years ago and the prevention of that happening again in the future. The testing would be done by professionals and would not be obligatory, ut rather conducted on a case-by-case basis.

Both CBS News and MSNBC covered the story in a similar depth. They both touched on the scandals that were uncovered in 2002, explaining why the Vatican would issue a mandate like this one.

MSNBC used only the text from the released Vatican document as a source. The article mentioned the fact that many gay groups criticized the Catholic Church for blaming homosexuals for the scandals and then made the point clear that the testing would be no only screening for homosexuality (which the Church denounces), but also heterosexual men who show signs that they cannot commit to chastity and control their sexual urges.

CBS News has a similar story but brings up two points that MSNBC does not. The article contains a quote from Monsignor Jean-Louis Brugues who told reporters that these tendencies usually show themselves after a man has been ordained into the priest hood. He also says that this proposed screening has been going on in some seminaries since the 1960s. The other point that CBS brings up is that fact that the Catholic Church wants quality not quantity. It is struggling in many areas to fill its churches with priests, but is not willing to lessen their regulations to increase their numbers.

October 26, 2008

Transsexual Gene Link Found

Australian researchers found a significant link between one gene known to be involved with sex development and male-to-female transsexualism. The study information, which went to press Sunday night, was gathered from a group of 112 male-to-female transsexual volunteers and a group of 258 control volunteers.

The gene found to be related to transsexualism, called the androgen receptor gene, is one of three known to be involved with sex development. The transsexual volunteers were more likely to have a longer androgen receptor gene than those who were not transsexual. The difference in gene length effects the strength of testosterone signals.

This finding helps to confirm scientists' belief that sexual orientation may be a biological trait.

BBC News covers this story in a very scientific and informative manner. The article explains the issue and does well wording the scientific research in an understandable way. The article quotes the journal that the finding were published in, as well as one of the researchers, a co-author of the journal article, and a representative from the Gender Identity Research and Education Society stating the implications of this research on society. The article implies that although this is the largest study done on the topic, there are plans for staging the same study with a larger population.

An article in the Canberra Times, an Australian newspaper, includes the same understandable explanation of the study that was conducted. The main difference in the two articles is that the Canberra article focuses both on the actual research and on the social implications of the findings. It feels like a human rights story and an informative article. They achieve this effect by quoting some of the participants as saying that they knew they were different when they were 3 and 4 years old. In addition to some professional sources, they also include direct quotes from Sally Goldner, a spokeswoman for TransGender Victoria, who shares her storiy of discovering the woman inside her male body.

October 19, 2008

Verdict Still Unclear in the Murder Case of UK Student

Meredith Kercher, a 21-year-old British student, was killed last November in her shared apartment in Perugia, Italy. Police investigations of her American roommate, Amanda Knox, Knox's former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, and an Ivory Coast man, Rudy Hermann Guede, have been completed, and the three face possible indictments and prison time for murder.

I was surprised by the large differences in story content between the two articles I reviewed since both of them came for Associated Press writers. The first, from International Herald Tribune focuses very much on the courtroom action of the case. The article describes what a fast-track trial is and what its effects may be. The only quotes come from defense lawyers of the multiple suspects. Also, the article brings attention to the fact that Knox claims she was mistreated and abused during police interrogation. A final distinction between this article and the next is the description of the murder. The scene is descriptively and grotesquely laid out in the article as a quote from the prosecutors.

The USA Today coverage contains an entirely different set of information. First of all, the article explains the scene of the murder in a less-detailed fashion. Secondly, the article focuses on the future of the case. It explains that Knox and Sollecito have both denied wrongdoing but have given conflicting statements about their whereabouts during the murder and details of the night. It explains that another man was already arrested as a suspect after Knox blamed him but he was released on lack of evidence. There is also information about DNA found in the room. All of this seems too important to be left out of the first story...

October 12, 2008

The Canonization of India's First Female Saint

Sister Alphonsa, an Catholic Indian nun who lived a life dedicated to God, was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in Rome on Sunday. She is the first Indian woman to become a saint. The canonization was a welcome uplift for Indian Catholics who are being persecuted by Hindu tribes in there country.

The above information is the only common information between the two articles being evaluated. BBC News covers the current story and its significance in very little depth. There are no details about the persecution of Christians in India, Iraq or any other Hindu-based countries. Instead, their article focuses on the life on Sister Alphonsa and her work in India. When the article did describe the actual canonization, it was through the eyes of her hometown residents. The villagers were described as watching the ceremony on TV in a small church and celebrating the landmark with cheers and fireworks. There were no direct sources in this article.

The International Herald Tribune covers the monumental ceremony in much greater scope and depth than the BBC. The article quotes the Pope's canonization speech several times. He formally accuses those who are persecuting and gave encouragement to the minority of Christians in India. This article contains the number of Christians killed in India so far: at least 40. The article also details the process of Alphonsa's canonization including the miracle that the Vatican has deemed her responsible for.

October 5, 2008

Pirates Raid Ships Off the Coast of Somalia

In the waters near Somalia, the age of pirates, hostages, and ransom is not over. This year, 67 pirate attacks have been made on sea vessels in the Gulf of Aden, which borders Somalia on one side. More recently, a Ukrainian ship was seized by pirates on Sept. 25. Of all of these hijackings, there are still 12 boats and over 250 hostages in the hands of the pirates.

Many major publications are covering this story and all of them have different angles to report on. MSNBC reports lengthily on the defensive plan being put into action against the pirates. The story focuses on the European Union's anti-piracy control and also the current cooperation by U.S. naval ships and the future cooperation by Russian ships. This report also goes into the history of piracy and piracy protection. It discusses a past protection plan in Somalia that was 100% successful. The story also compares the "new breed" of piracy to the former breed of pirates. The article gives specific numbers of ships attacked and current hostages as well. This article is all of the plan of action to combat the problem.

The New York Times reports on the most recent hijacking that took place on Sept. 25. This articles focuses on the pirates themselves and the fact that they want money out of the hijacking. The negotiations of ransom price are covered as well as a recount of what the ransom has usually been in past incidents. The article includes quotes from the pirates' spokesperson, relatives of hostages and an anonymous Western official as opposed to MSNBC's quotes from Eastern Union leaders and seaway patrol leaders.

The NY Times also covers the cooperations of the U.S. and Russia but contributes some doubt to whether or not the two countries will be able to work together successfully.

September 28, 2008

China's First Spacewalk is Dubbed a Victory

Three Chinese astronauts received a warm welcome on Sunday after returning from the country's first space walk. The astronaut who conducted the fifteen-minute spacewalk was Commander Zhai Zhigang. He and two others made the 68-hour trip into space with the craft, Shenzhou VI. The mission makes China one of three nations to complete a spacewalk. The other two are the United States and Russia (the Soviet Union at the time). The successful mission has been regarded as a landmark for China who is working to become a strong power in space matters. China has larger plans for space travel in the future including the construction of a space lab and space station.

The story was covered by the Australian paper, The Sydney Morning Herald. The report depicted the victorious nature of the story using phrases like "heroes' welcome" and "milestone in the country's transformation". The story included quotes from both Commander Zhai and China's president, Hu Jintao. The President's quote was effective and compelling, but the inclusion of Zhai's "I feel well" quote was bland. The report also included irrelevant information about the upcoming 50th anniversary of US' NASA program.

The story was also picked up by ABC NEWS online. This coverage also portrayed the event in an congratulatory manner but this coverage was much more colorful and lengthy, making it feel like a tale rather than a news report at times. The report included compelling quotes from Premier Premier Wen Jiabao. This report also includes many aspects to the event that the Sydney Morning Herald does not. These include the threat of China's rise in space power to Western nations, the good timing of this event after the earthquake and milk disaster, and how the mission was a success for the Communist Party.

September 21, 2008

Claims of Witchcraft Causes Death at Congo Soccer Game

A local soccer game between the Socozaki and Nyuki System teams in Butembo, a city in Congo's North Kivu province, ended in chaos this past Sunday. According to the local radio station, Radio Okapi, the Nyuki team was losing when their goalkeeper ran up the field casting "fetishist" spells at the opposing team. A brawl between the two teams quickly developed. Many of the observers got involved in the fights and an intervening police commander suffered a head injury after the crowd threw rocks at him. Police fired tear gas and shots into the air causing panic amongst the crowd who then stampeded out of the stadium. At least 11 people, mostly teenagers and children, were trampled and suffocated to death in the incident.

Reporting by the Associated Press was brief with only a mention of witchcraft but no detail of how it was involved. They used Radio Okapi as a source and also had comments from the regional governor, Julien Mpaluku.

A news report from the Telegraph of the United Kingdom was much more detailed about the incident. The article cited Radio Okapi regarding the "fetishist" spells. The article also explains that witchcraft is a very popular belief in the Congo, which was very helpful for readers who are unfamiliar with the Congo culture. This article also refers to a war in the Congo that recently ended.

The Associated Press claims that 13 people were killed, while the Telegraph claims that 11 people were killed.

September 14, 2008

Attempted break-in at Obama's step-grandmother's home

Sarah Obama, Senator Barack Obama's step-grandmother, was the target of an attempted break-in on Wednesday in her village of Kogelo, Kenya. The thieves got onto the roof of her house and tried to break in through the solar panel of her house. The doors on the house had been locked.

Sarah was not harmed in the incident, and Kenyan police are now keeping a close eye on her home.

Senator Obama is very popular in Kenya, where his father and his father's relatives are from.

The Associated Press report of this incident that was posted on was a relatively short report with bare facts and concise details. They did not receive comments from the Kenyan police, but they spoke with Senator Obama's uncle.

The New York Times coverage of this incident is a much more in-depth report. The story offers an explanation as to why the thieves would break into Sarah Obama's home: the speculation amongst her townspeople that she is secretly rich despite her lowly living conditions. Both the Kenyan police spokesman, Eric Kiraithe, and a local school-teacher, James Ohito, give quotes pertaining to this rumor. The NY Times report also explains that police have arrested four men after the incident and the details of the police protection for Sarah Obama.

Overall, the New York Times article turns the coverage of this incident into a detailed story, whereas the Associated Press article is a brief report of the facts.