Analysis - NPR Nursing Home Database

National Public Radio compiled an interactive database about the independence level of residents at about 16,000 nursing homes around the United States.

Users can pick a state, county, then an individual facility to see what percent of residents are able to do certain daily tasks on their own. NPR used the information after it was made public under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

NPR organized information from an annual census survey by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

By organizing this information electronically, NPR was able to analyze this information and find trends that have been used in a series called, "Home or Nursing Home."

The roof of the Metrodome collapsed after 17 inches of snow fell in Minneapolis Saturday, part of a blizzard that hit the Midwest over the weekend, CNN reported.

The 64,000-seat stadium caved in, moving the Minnesota Vikings game with the New York Giants from Monday at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the NFL said in a statement Sunday.

Travel in Minnesota, western Wisconsin and parts of the Dakotas, has been difficult to impossible, the Washington Post reported.

Snow drifts from 3 feet to 6 feet high have been reported around the Twin Cities, after the fifth biggest snow on record, the Washington Post reported.

"That snow isn't going anywhere anytime soon-no thaws in sight through Christmas Day," Meteorologist Paul Douglas at the Star Tribune said in a storm recap

A video of the Metrodome collapsing can be seen here.

Palin part of humanitarian effort in Haiti

Sarah Palin arrived Saturday in Haiti, which has recently been struck by a cholera epidemic and violence in Port-au-Prince stemming from a controversial presidential election, as part of a humanitarian group hosted by Samaritan's Purse, the Guardian reported.

"They are so full of joy. We are so fortunate in America and we are responsible for helping those less fortunate," said former Alaska Gov. Palin, who was the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2008 election .

More than 2,000 people have died of cholera in Haiti, while about 100,000 have been sickened, CNN reported. Haiti is still recovering from an earthquake in January which killed nearly 220,000 people.

Franklin Graham, son of well-known evangelist Billy Graham, is heading the delegation which will visit a cholera clinic with gifts for children under Operation Christmas Child, the Guardian reported.

"I believe Gov. Palin will be a great encouragement to the people of Haiti and to the organizations, both government and private, working so hard to provide desperately needed relief," Graham said.

Palin has yet to comment on the trip and her itinerary has not been released, the Guardian reported. Many believe she is considering running for president in 2012.

Emmer concedes, Dayton wins

Mark Dayton became the first Minnesota DFL governor elected in more than two decades, after Republican Tom Emmer conceded Wednesday morning.

Dayton accepted Emmer's concession Wednesday afternoon, The Minnesota Daily reported.

"Minnesotans made their choice, by however thin a margin, and we respect that choice," Emmer said at a news conference in front of his Delano home, USA today reported

Emmer called Dayton at about 10:10 a.m. Wednesday. They both characterized the conversation with "gracious" and "gentleman," The Minnesota Daily reported.

Dayton was up by 9,000 votes, less than the half-percent margin necessary to instigate an automatic recount, The Minnesota Daily reported.

Dayton will take the oath of office on Jan. 3.

Mark Madoff, son of shamed financier Bernard Madoff, found dead

The eldest son of financier Bernard Madoff, was found hanging from a ceiling pipe in his apartment Saturday, two years after his father was arrested in a multi-billion dollar fraud that caused "unrelenting pressure" for his entire family, the Associated Press reported.

Mark Madoff, 46, hanged himself by a dog leash in his SoHo loft apartment, law enforcement officials said. His 2-year-old son was sleeping in a nearby bedroom, the Huffington Post reported.

Martin Flumenbaum, Mark Madoff's lawyer, said he took his own life Saturday, the AP reported. A medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Mark Madoff was found after his wife Stephanie received a concerning email Saturday morning, saying that someone should check on their son, said law enforcement officials. She sent her father to the home where he found the body, the Huffington Post reported. The 2-year-old was unharmed.

"This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy,'' Flumenbaum said in a written statement. "Mark was an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo."

Bernard Madoff, 72, cheated thousands of investors out of their life savings, a scheme that lasted for decades, the AP reported. With a sum of around $20 billion swindled, it became the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.

Bernard Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008 and was sentenced to a 150 years in a North Carolina prison.

The entire Madoff family was shamed by the scandal and some sued, for most of Bernard Madoff's sons were involved with the company.

In February, Mark Madoff's wife requested to change her last name and the last names of their two children, saying her family had gotten threats, the AP reported.

20-year-old St. Thomas student dies in a house fire

A sophomore was killed in a fire early Saturday morning at a house rented by Univeristy of St. Thomas students.

Four students were at the house at 1795 Selby Avenue during the fire, St. Paul Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard said. Three of them jumped out of the second-story window after the smoke alarm went off at 3 a.m., the Star Tribune reported. They were taken to Regions Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and injuries.

The fourth student was asleep on the couch on the first floor, the Pioneer Press reported. He died in the fire.

When firefighters arrived on the scene at 3:15 a.m. smoke and flames had reached the second floor, the Star Tribune reported. The three students who escaped the blaze, one female and two males, were found outside.

The name of the 20-year-old sophomore has not been released, but Zaccard confirmed he was a student at the University.

The fire seemingly started on the front porch outside, although the cause is unknown, Zaccard said.

The house was heavily damaged and is "probably a total loss," Zaccard said, the Pioneer Press reported.

2011 Sundance Film Festival goes back to its off-kilter roots

Festival programmers announced Wednesday that 58 features and documentaries are included on the Sundance schedule, although the festival lacks a previously quintessential element: movie stars.

The films were culled from 3,812 submissions, and feature mostly unrecognizable performers with lesser known filmmakers, the New York Times reported.

The lineup for the narrative films includes Demi Moore, Liv Tyler, John C. Reilly and some indie darlings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Last year's competition showed well-known actors like Natalie Portman, James Franco, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Orlando Bloom and James Gandolfini, The New York Times reported.

"For whatever reason, there aren't as many big stars doing an independent turn as in past years, and that's perfectly fine with us," said John Cooper, who is in his second year as festival director.

Cooper hopes to steer the festival back to its original, off-kilter character, avoiding the grandiose influence of Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"I felt audiences wanted us to stick with it," Cooper said. "Not that that's what the industry wanted us to do."

On the same note, the Utah gathering will forgo the previously traditional gala in Park City, and instead will start the competition when Sundance begins Jan.20, which concludes 10 days later, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The festival has awards for best American drama and documentary, along with contests for top international drama and documentary, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As students and staff head home to enjoy the holidays, buildings, offices and student study spaces at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus will shut down from Dec. 24, 2010 until Jan. 2, 2011, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The closure will reduce labor and utility costs, helping trim down the University's $3 billion annual budget, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Only essential services, including hospitals, some labs and a few residences halls will stay open, according to U of M spokesman Dan Wolter, MPR reported.

"It's comparable to what you do at your house when you turn the heat down," Wolter said. "It obviously requires less energy to heat a building when the thermostat is at 55 as opposed to 68. So that will be a portion where a lot of savings will be incurred."

Over winter break, the University anticipates $160,000 will be saved on utilities on the Minneapolis campus alone, MPR reported.

Some residence halls will stay open, although all University Dining Service operations will shut down, including the residence hall dining services, the Minnesota Daily reported. All university libraries will close.

From Dec. 28 to Dec. 30, Boynton Health Services will provide pharmacy, walk-in care and some other services.

In addition to the shutdown, the University will cut costs with a mandatory, three- day unpaid furlough involving 8,200 hourly employees, although University officials are not sure how much it will save.

When the furlough is added to the 1 percent pay cut for salaried University employees, officials expect $18 million cut from the budget this year, MPR reported.

Volcano erupts in Ecuador, residents evacuate

Ash and lava spewed from Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano Saturday, causing people in villages below to be evacuated.

Tungurahu, which means "throat of fire" in Quechua, is about 85 miles southeast of Quito, the country's capital, and has been in an active state since 1999, BBC reported. Experts say seismic activity has been rapidly increasing since Saturday morning.

Authorities have put the area around the volcano under red alert, which was later turned to orange as activity slowed, CNN reported.

Hot gas and rock was seen flowing from the western side of the volcano at mid-morning Saturday, BBC reported. Ash has been falling on the villages of Pondoa and Patate.

The number of explosions has gone up, according to Scientists with the Ecuadorean Institute for Geophysics. The ash cloud has gone 1.2 miles in the air, BBC reported.

The last major eruption occurred in 1999, when 15, 000 Banos residents had to evacuate and could not return to their homes for a year, BBC reported.

FCC to vote on net neutrality

Facing criticism from all sides, the Federal Communications Commission plans to take on net neutrality regulations despite a federal court ruling in April that said the FCC does not have the authority to regulate how Internet service providers deal with network traffic, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Since becoming FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski has been promising new regulations for phone and cable companies that offer broadband access. He said Wednesday that the new rules would guarantee that providers treat all data on their networks the same, a concept known as net neutrality, National Public Radio reported.

But critics say the new rules do not fulfill their intended purpose, NPR reported.

Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation, a think-tank in Washington, D.C., says the proposed rules are full of loopholes.

Meinrath says the biggest loophole may be that wireless networks would be exempt from a lot of the rules governing classic, wired Internet, NPR reported.

"No one was particularly happy with what the FCC chairman is proposing. But that doesn't mean it's not the right answer," said Kevin Werbach, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and a former technology consultant to the Obama administration.

"I can understand those in the public interest community who would like to see something stronger. But having something in place is going to be much better than nothing," he said. "And the reality is that nothing is the alternative."

The full commission will vote on the proposed rules on Dec. 21, NPR reported.