November 2010 Archives

Analysis of AP article - Catholics Debate Pope's Comments

In an article by the Associated Press, the debate over Pope Benedict's recent comments about condom use is discussed.

The article gives quotes from representatives from the Catholic community, as well as those concerned with AIDS as a public health issue. The pope's remarks may have re-opened the door in this debate.

Kelsey, a junior at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, was raised Catholic. She said her upbringing has given her some "structure and knowledge base in her current beliefs."

Kelsey said that she understands why this issue would inspire debate. While discussing the article, she said that the quotes do a good job of representing each side of the issue, although she thinks it lacks a younger perspective.

The issue in itself goes beyond the typical stance of the Roman Catholic Church. The article attempts to bring to light what is sometimes misunderstood by those not part of the Catholic community.

Radiation from the hundreds of full-body scanners at airports, which will be implemented in time for the holidays, has some worried for their health, while federal officials are trying to reassure the public that the machines are safe.

The Transportation Security Administration says radiation from one scan is almost equal to three minutes in an airplane at 30,000 feet, where atmospheric radiation levels are higher than on the ground, the Associated Press reported.

"We are confident that full-body X-ray security products and practices do not pose a significant risk to the public health," U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials and the TSA wrote in a letter last month.

The scanner shows a picture of an unclothed body with facial features blurred. If passengers opt out of the machines, they have to go through a pat-down search, the Detroit Free Press reported.

About 385 scanners have already been installed in more than 60 airports, the AP reported. The TSA plans to have 500 scanners total in place by the end of the year.

Some travelers have expressed concern over the radiation and have said that the pat-downs are uncomfortable and privacy has become an issue, Detroit Free Press reported.

Detroit Metro Airport spokesman Michael Conway said he has not received complaints about the new safety precautions, Detroit Free Press reported. He recalled criticism about the system after the failed Dec.25 attempt by the almost underwear bomber.

"In their defense, for somebody who was here on Christmas Day, who spent here all day and night dealing with media inquiries, everybody was pointing their finger at the U.S. government and saying 'Why didn't you stop that guy," Conway said. "They've now deployed the procedures to stop 'that guy,' and they're still getting criticism. I can see the TSA's side on it."

Pope Benedict says condoms acceptable in some circumstances

Pope Benedict XVI suggested that condoms can be justified when used to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS, the first time the Vatican has made an exception in their strict policy condemning condom use, the New York Times reported.

The pope, 83, made the statement in an interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, part of a series to combat criticism of his tumultuous papacy. The interview will be published in question and answer format in a book to be released Tuesday, the BBC reported.

"The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids," the pope said in an excerpt from the interview. "At that point, I really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone else. And I stand by that claim."

The book has given the pope his own voice and acknowledges the challenges the pope has faced the past five years in his papacy. He has had to deal with several crises including the sexual abuse of minors by priests and overall problems with communications, the New York Times reported.

Man tried to lure 17-year-old girl into truck

St. Paul Police are asking the public to help identify a man who attempted to lure a 17-year-old girl into his truck Thursday morning.

The girl was walking to school on the West side after 8 a.m. when the man came up to her three times, police said. He approached her along Humbolt Avenue, where he stopped his truck and talked to her, KARE 11 reported.

The third time the man stopped, he got out of his truck and told her to get in it. The girl refused and ran to a school to call the police, the Pioneer Press reported.

The incident is not believed to be connected to recent luring attempts, police said in a statement. "There are some notable differences between this man's description and the men described previously."

The man is described as a 40 to 50-year-old Latino male with a heavy build, long dark ponytail, and an unkempt beard.

The girl told police that the truck was a newer silver pickup with a Mexican flag or decal on the rear window with Minnesota license plate with ducks, which could be Critical Habitat plates, KARE 11 reported.

The Minnesota School Board Association is recommending that schools modify their bullying policies on violence and harassment to include gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, among other groups.

"We wanted to make it clear that safety is important for all students no matter sex, race, creed or sexual orientation," said Greg Abbott, School Board Association spokesman.

The association is advising boards to urge school officials to interfere when they see bullying, the Star Tribune reported.

If schools adopt the update, any form of harassment or violence based on race, color, beliefs, religion, nationality, sex, age, marital or familial status, sexual orientation or disability would be prohibited, the Associated Press reported.

The advice might be controversial, as schools decide whether to heed the association's recommendation, the Star Tribune reported.

Facebook revealed a new message system that will go beyond the outdated e-mail.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that e-mail is past its prime. Most young people use texting and other instant messages to communicate with friends, so converging various modes of communication may be the future, the Associated Press reported.

Zuckerberg said that the service will not be the "Gmail killer," as some have dubbed it. The system, called "Project Titan," will combine multiple forms of communication on one platform, the AP reported.

The system will allow users to send messages to any device or media that they would like, which a press release on the Facebook Blog called "seamless messaging." This streamlines the process by allowing users to talk to their friends in real time via e-mail, chat, SMS or Facebook messages, all in one place.

U.S. teens use primarily text messaging to communicate, while e-mail is the least used, according to a 2009 survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, CBS reported.

More than 4 billion Facebook messages are sent through their system each day by around 350 million people that actively use the service and others who use the basic chat, CBS reported.

"If we do a good job, some people will say this is the way that the future will work," Zuckerberg said.

Analysis- Numbers in AP article

An article by the Associated Press discusses a study of how women with stressful jobs face heart risks. The AP utilizes numbers to discuss the sample group and the results from the study that began in 1999.

The article references statistics in the beginning of the article when it discusses the relationship between men and women, and the relationship between women with stressful jobs and women with less stress.

For example: "Women with demanding jobs and little control over how to do them were nearly twice as likely to have suffered a heart attack as women with less demanding jobs and more control."

The article effectively tells the story of the research without using too many actual numbers, that can lose meaning if used in excess. Instead, the AP states the pattern the numbers revealed or summarizes the findings in an easily understood way.

For instance, instead of listing exact numbers, the results are converted into a percentage: "The high-stress group had a 40 percent greater overall risk of heart problems..."

The article delivers the results of the study without overwhelming the reader. The AP tells the crucial findings by transforming the statistics into concepts, instead of giving the numbers that have an implicit meaning that is harder to detect.

The AP attributes the numbers to a U.S. government-funded study that was presented at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago and uses a doctor to respond to how the numbers relate to overall trends.

The numbers used are easy to understand and their significance is delivered well.

The Governors Awards, the honorary portion of the Academy Awards, kicked off the Oscar season Saturday night while honoring Francis Ford Coppola, the director of The Godfather films, and others among Hollywood's greatest.

Robert De Niro sang Coppola's praises while Coppola recieved the Irving G. Thalberg Award for producing, USA Today reported.

"Seriously Francis, thank you for the career-making break you gave me in The Godfather II," De Niro said. "You're an inspiration and one of my biggest influences."

"Now that we're going up for the same parts, I hope we can remain friends," De Niro, 67, joked while helping present an honorary Oscar to actor Eli Wallach, who turns 95 next month.

Clint Eastwood, 80, recalled that Wallach is one of two living stars from the 1966 movie The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, starring Eastwood himself, the New York Times reported.

French Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard was presented with an honorary Oscar, although he has been previously ignored by the academy. He has repeatedly denounced Hollywood and has made some controversial comments that have been perceived as anti-Jewish, the New York Times reported.

"He didn't just break the rules, he ran them over with a stolen car," Phil Alden Robinson, a screenwriter for films including Field of Dreams and who suggested that Godard be honored, the New York Times reported.

"Let's be honest, you have said things that have offended pretty much everyone in this room, at least once," Robinson said. "You have also said really snarky things about Hollywood and the Oscars ... but then again, so has everyone in this room, at least once."

Godard was not there to accept his award, so Tom Sherak, the academy's president, said he planned to personally deliver it to Godard in Switzerland, the New York Times reported.

The event used to be a part of the broadcasted ceremony, but became a separate event last year to cut down on the usually drawn-out telecast and to allow for more time to honor recipients.

British couple freed by Somali Pirates

Paul and Rachel Chandler of Kent, England, retired early, sold their home and bought a 38-foot yacht to sail the world. Little did they know their trip would be cut short by pirates.

A British couple has been released after being taken by Somali Pirates and held captive for more than a year, the Guardian reported.

Paul and Rachel Chandler, 61 and 56, were freed after a ransom was paid to have them released, the Guardian reported. They arrived in Kenya Sunday and said that they were "rather skinny and boney" but otherwise fine.

The couple was taken after armed pirates boarded their yacht off the Seychelles, 800 miles east of the African coast. They were told two days ago that they were going to be released, Chandler said.

"We were told on Friday and in a way which gave us some confidence to believe it," he said, according to the Telegraph. "We'd been told we were going to be released in 10 days almost every 10 days for nine months."

For a year and three weeks, the couple was moved around several makeshift camps in Somalia, fed canned spaghetti and goat meat and constantly monitored by armed men, the Telegraph reported. The couple said that they were often "caged like animals" and were scared they would be "killed and abandoned here in the desert".

The couple will fly to Nairobi and undergo medical checks, after a brief meeting with Sheikh Sharif, Somalia's president, in Mogadishu, the Telegraph reported.

West St. Paul man dies after jumping off a freeway off-ramp

A man jumped to his death after being chased by Minneapolis police responding to a fight call outside a night club early Saturday, KARE 11 reported.

Jason Yang, 29, of West St. Paul, died after he leaped off of a freeway off-ramp and fell several stories, according to police and the Hennepin County medical examiner's office.

Yang was being pursued by officers after instigating a fight in front of Epic night club at 110 N. Fifth St. in downtown Minneapolis.

Yang ran into a nearby parking ramp in order to flee from the officers.

He ran onto a nearby freeway off-ramp, cleared a concrete barrier and fell, the Pioneer Press reported. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

29 people have been accused of interstate sex trafficking

Twenty-nine people have been charged for their alleged involvement with a Minneapolis-based sex trafficking ring in which girls, one as young as 12, were forced into prostitution.

The defendants have been accused of recruiting girls under 18 and forcing them to engage in sex acts and moving them between Minnesota, Tennessee and Ohio, the Associated Press reported.

According to the indictment, Somali gangs have been identified in connection with the ring that has been operating for 10 years, the AP reported.

The indictment says that young Somali and African-American girls were taken between states and forced to engage in sex acts with multiple people in exchange for money and other substances, the AP reported.

Most of the defendants are involved wit the Somali Outlaws and Somali Mafia gangs, the Star Tribune reported.

John Marton, the director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that this case was significant because the victims were forced into sex acts for several years and moved between states, the BBC reported.

"Human traffickers abuse innocent people, undermine our public safety and often use their illicit proceeds to fund sophisticated criminal organizations," Morton said.

"ICE is commited to bringing these criminals to justice and rescuing their victims from a life in the shadows. We will continue to fight the battle to end human trafficking both here in the United States and around the globe."

The indictment charges some of the accused people with conspiring to obstruct the investigation by lying to a grand jury, burglary, credit card fraud and stealing a motor vehicle, AP reported.

Twelve of the defendants were arrested in Minnesota, eight in Tennessee and six were already in jail, AP reported.

Recreational marijuana has been rejected by California voters, while 10 cities have approved new or higher taxes on marijuana sales.

California's Proposition 19 would have allowed for the possession of up to an ounce of pot and may have brought in tax revenue, the New York Times reported. Prop 19 included a provision that would have legalized small scale cultivation of marijuana throughout the state.

Despite continued debate, marijuana has been accepted by some as a legitimate source of revenue for states struggling under the recession.

"As part of treating this business like any other business in the city, we need to update our business operation tax to include them," said Amy Williams, a spokeswoman for the City of Sacramento. The city approved a 4 percent tax on medicinal marijuana.

other cities, including San Jose, Long Beach and Oakland approved special marijuana taxes after struggling with deficits brought on by the recession, the Associated Press reported.

Nine municipalities in Colorado approved a higher sales tax on medical marijuana, which was approved in 2000, the AP reported.

The first source used to characterize the Edina dentist is his daughter. She is the only source attributed and quoted throughout the obituary.

The lead is not in the standard format. The obituary begins with anecdotes that characterize Edwin Brown, following a subheading that lays out some of the information that is usually in a lead, such as his name, nickname and something notable about him. His age is mentioned later with the cause of death after a few paragraphs of characterizing information and quotes.

Starting with charming anecdotes seems to work in this case, considering the obituary is in the Star Tribune and is about a beloved local with modest claims to fame.

This obituary focuses on the overall portrayal of Edwin Brown and less on his career and professional exploits. The article frequently quotes his daughter and gives the chronology of his life that is more about his personality than his skills and accomplishments.

The obituary does not try to tell every detail of his accomplishments like a resume would. It picks bits and pieces of his life to portray him as he was known by friends and family.

President Obama pushed a plan in a speech Saturday in Mumbai that will establish more trade agreements in India and produce more American jobs.

"As we look to India today, the United States sees an opportunity to sell our exports in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world," Obama said at a summit of executives from the U.S. and India. "For America, this is a jobs strategy."

Obama is looking to increase trade between India and U.S. businesses that will ideally translate into more jobs, National Public Radio reported. New trade deals could support nearly 54,000 jobs in the U.S., White House officials said.

Atindra Sen, the head of a Mumbai business group, said that although trade has increased, few U.S. jobs have been created by trade between the two countries, NPR reported.

"Even with the 200 percent increase in Indian imports from the U.S., it's not going to create that many jobs in the U.S.," he said. "I think that this talk of jobs is more for the domestic audience than it is for a real issue between India and the U.S."

Obama is working to reassure a frustrated electorate that has seen many U.S. jobs outsourced to cities in India, CNN reported.

"In 2010, trade between our countries is not just a one-way street of American jobs and companies moving to India," Obama said. "It is a dynamic, two-way relationship that is creating jobs, growth, and higher living standards in both our countries."

Russian journalist beaten near his home in Moscow

A Russian journalist for the daily newspaper Kommersant was seriously injured Saturday during a beating in front of his Moscow home.

Oleg Kashin, 30, is in a medically induced coma in a Moscow hospital with a concussion, a broken jaw, broken fingers and fractures in both legs, the Guardian reported.

Kashin's editor, Mikhail Mikhailin, said he believes the attack was a response to his writing on controversial topics, including youth political movements and protests, the New York Times reported.

"The thing that bothers me is that at the moment of the beating, they broke his fingers," Mikhailin said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station. "It is completely obvious that the people who did this did not like what he was saying and what he was writing. I don't know what specifically they did not like, but I firmly connect this with his professional activities."

Kashin was returning to his home at an apartment complex early Saturday when two men repeatedly beat him with a blunt object, the Guardian reported. Witnesses said they saw two men waiting near his home before the attack.

The beating adds to a string of attacks on Russian journalists in recent years, shocking the media and civil rights community, the Guardian reported.

Kurt Zellers and Matt Dean to lead Minnesota House GOP

Minnesota House Republicans chose their leaders Saturday after a momentous takeover of the state Legislature.

Republicans elected Representative Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove as the new Speaker of the House and Representative Matt Dean of Dellwood as the new House Majority Leader, the Star Tribune reported.

Zellers is in his fifth term representing Osseo and part of Maple Grove, and has been the House Minority Leader since 2009. Dean is in his fourth term representing Dellwood.

Zellers and Dean said the state Republicans will stick with their agenda to "streamline government," regardless of who wins the gubernatorial race, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Zellers said he looks forward to collaborating with either Democrat Mark Dayton or Republican Tom Emmer, because both have said that they will work to improve jobs and the economy in Minnesota, MPR reported.

"So in either case we'll take both candidates at their word that they're ready to focus on jobs and bringing the economy up," Zellers said.

Republicans dominated legislative races Tuesday, earning a 37-30 margin in the Senate over the DFL, the Star Tribune reported. Three races remain unresolved, but the GOP has a provisional 10-vote majority in the House.

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, whose consecration spurred a divide in the global Anglican Communion, plans to retire in 2013 because of the effect the worldwide uproar has had on him, his family and his New Hampshire diocese, he said Saturday.

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, 63, announced his retirement early to give the diocese time to find a replacement and to get approval of the national church, which can take two years, the New York Times reported. The mandatory retirement age for Episcopal bishops is 72.

"The fact is, the last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family and you," the bishop said while addressing congregants, the Associated Press reported. "Death threats and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark."

Robinson, who has become a national figure and a prominent symbol in the international gay rights movement, gave the opening invocation for a concert prior to President Obama's inauguration in 2009.

Robinson and his partner of over 20 years, held a civil union ceremony in 2008, the AP reported.

Robinson supported same-sex marriage in New Hampshire and calls himself an evangelist to people alienated from Christianity, the New York Times reported.

"This is the one place on earth where I am not 'the gay bishop,'" he said in his retirement announcement in New Hampshire, the New York Times reported. "I believe that you elected me because you believed me to be the right person to lead you at this time. The world has sometimes questioned that, but I hope you never did."

Officials in Hennepin County are securing ballots to prepare for a likely recount in the Minnesota gubernatorial race, after an elections worker inaccurately reported tallied votes.

The nearly 500,000 ballots will be stored at the Hennepin County Government Center and guarded around the clock "to ensure the security, uniformity and transparency of the recount process," Hennepin county officials said.

At about 10 p.m. on Election Day, someone hit a wrong button and added some of the tallied votes twice, which gave Democrat Mark Dayton an additional 60,000 votes in his lead against Republican Tom Emmer, MinnPost reported.

Jill Alverson, county auditor, said that the new security measures are not a result of criticism the county has received from Republicans, MPR reported.

"Even without the incident on Election Night we would have recommended that we handle the recount this way," she said.

Rachel Smith, Hennepin County elections manager, explained that the mistake occurred when elections staff was creating a computer file with updated totals of in-person and absentee ballots, MPR reported.

Someone mistakenly clicked "add-to" instead of "replace" on a screen, doubling the actual number of votes instead of replacing previous totals. The file was then sent to the secretary of state's office.

Staff figured out the mistake about 45 minutes after the file was sent and then corrected it around 12:30 a.m., MPR reported.

"This was certainly unusual and hopefully will never happen again," Smith said.

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