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April 25, 2007

Yeltsin Lead a Nation through post-Soviet Disarray

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In an article from the Star Tribune, Boris Yeltsin's legacy as Russia's first freely elected leader is outlined and acknowledged. The reformer who broke up the U.S.S.R. died Monday at the age of 76. He brought his country out of more than seven decades of socialist economic planning and communist party rule.

The New York Times article describes Yeltsin's legacy with raw language:

His leadership was erratic and often crude, and the democrat often ruled in the manner of a czar. He embarked upon a harsh military operation to subdue the breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Both of the authors face the challenge of portraying Yeltsin in a a light that is characteristic of his rule while at the same time delivering an image of this leader that offers up some level of respect and admiration in acknowledgment of his contribution to history. The New York Times article in this specific event offers elaborate and extensive footage, images, and historical knowledge of this man's life. For those who are unfamiliar with Boris Yeltsin's legacy as the first elected leader of Russia, it is beneficial to read either of these articles for they both offer substantial assessments of his political life.

Accessing Public Documents

Walking into the University of Minnesota Police Department on campus, I was met by a consultant/secretary behind a glass window and I asked to see the most recent crime-incident reports and was handed a packet of papers that I sifted through. I found several police reports of theft on campus and consumption of alcohol by a minor and even came across the bomb threat that occurred earlier last week on campus in Smith hall.

Before I was handed the police reports I was asked what my intentions were for accessing these documents. I responded on my own accord even though I knew it wasn't necessary. After I paged through weeks worth of police reports in search of suicide attempts or anything related to student suicide rates, I found two incident reports and had the secretary make photocopies for me. However, before he did he asked my name and recorded it in a book. I assume the police department keeps note of anyone who requests to look at public documents for reasons of suspicion since it seems like a fairly uncommon thing to do. I was given the name and number of Deputy Chief Steve Johnson however, who I was told would have documents concerning student suicide rates.

The two crime-incident reports that I photocopied were interesting to read through.
----the identities of the individuals who reported the suspicious note found in a men's restroom were released in the report which was described as a bomb threat on campus April 18th.
----the other was a report of disorderly conduct outside Sgt Preston's Bar after close on April 19th.
the name of the individual that was arrested is released along with his age, birth date, gender, and the crime that he was charged with.

April 22, 2007

French Riots and Political Suspense

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France is holding elections in two rounds (april 22 and May 6) to replace Jacques Chirac,74, who has been in office for 12 years. Many are concerned whether to vote with their head or their heart. Nicolas Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian immigrant and the conservative front runner of this presidential election. He is eager to depart from traditional French social and political standpoints in order to incorporate freer markets into the French economy. Socialist Segolene Royal is the other competing candidate who would become the nation's first female leader if she were to be elected. These two candidates advanced to a runoff in Sunday's election.

In an article found in the NY Times, the battle between the conservative and socialist continues as the nation waits for the second part of the election to bring the final decision.

The election is also covered in the Star Tribune which offers a controversial look at the suspense that this election is causing. It oulines voter trends and highlights the main drive that each candidate is standing by and enforcing in his or her campaign. It appears unbiased and clear with its content delivery while offering descriptive language.
These articles contrast well with each other in that they both offer highly charged material and issues on the political candidates.

here's another interesting article on this suspenseful election

Fatal Shooting on Metro Transit Bus

Early Sunday morning, a 16-year-old boy was shot to death on a Metro Transit bus in St. Paul said police spokesman Tom Walsh. Police are still investigating whether the shooting was gang-related and have uncertainties as to the details of the event. Homicide detectives are reviewing security tapes to uncover more about the identity of the suspect.

The Associated Press article which was published in the Pioneer Press is brief yet descriptive and is a template for the article that Anthony Lonetree wrote for the Star Tribune. Both articles face challenges as it is difficult to report on an issue with immediacy and contribute valuable information when little investigation has occured. For instance, the Star Tribune article is clear in identifying on which route the shooting occured and which steets the bus was crossing when this fatal event took place.

The Associated Press attributes a newsworthy/admirable quote to Metro Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus:

"The death of this young man on board a Metro Transit vehicle is tragic and appalling. Unfortunately, life on the bus reflects life on the streets. Nationally, and even here at home, we've experienced acts of outrageous violence in recent weeks," Indrehus said.

To a certain degree, Anthony Lonetree's article in the Star Tribune offers a slightly more descriptive view of the shooting with greater details which is to be expected if the Associated Press article is what this journalist was working from to create his own story. However, both outline the incident and highlight the death of the 16-year-old as the most prominent and newsworthy event by placing it at the top of the story.

April 17, 2007

Massacre at Virginia Tech

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Cho Seung-hui was identified as the "lone gunman" suspected of killing 32 people in the nation's deadliest school shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia Monday. It was revealed that two people were shot dead in a dormitory yearly yesterday and hours later 30 were found dead in Norris Hall while 29 others remain injured. Shortly after the shooting, the gunman committed suicide.

In an article printed in the New York Times, Roommates describe gunman as a loner, Marc Santora takes a personal stance on the issue by providing critical commentary from students and professors that knew the gunman. Although it is insightful and newsworthy to provide background on the shooter is is simply a narrative of his reputation on campus and does not fully indulge in the greater details and aftermath of the shooting. It also seems as though a majority of the quotes are unnecessary and say little about the man behind this bloody rampage.

In contrast, in an article on the Virginia Tech Shooter found on CNN.com offers a more critical analysis of this 23-year-old English major who was seen as a loner and had a reputation for writing graphic and disturbing stories while at the University.

"It was like something out of a nightmare," McFarland wrote in a blog. "The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of. "

This article also touches on the fact that there were previous bomb threats that occured no more than a month ago and that the intricate details of the aftermath that followed yesterday's shooting and the severity of the massacre that the New York Times article doesn't even attempt to touch on. It is striking and absurd to consider that, ""There wasn't a shooting victim that didn't have less than three bullet wounds in them," said Dr. Joseph Cacioppo of Montgomery Regional Hospital. Overall the complexity and newsworthiness of the information provided in the article from CNN.com is far more informative and insightful than the narrative style of Marc Santora's article which barely touches on the greater issues at hand.

April 8, 2007

Primitive ideas, Cavemen and a Comic at Hart

Johnny Hart, the creater of the award winning comic strip B.C., died today at the age of 76. His wife reported that he had a stroke while at the drawing board. His comics were centered around prehistoric cavemen and his innate desire to incorporate religious themes and evolutionary thought into his work. The AP article that was printed in USA today describes Hart as a well-respected cartoonist. Since he began the comic stip in '58, his work expanded and his popularity awarded him space in more than 1,300 newspapers and an audience that reached nearly 100 million.

In an interview with Johnny Hart a few years back, journalist Robert Doolan questions the cartoonist where the religious themes come from and about his continual questioning of creation and evolution. Although the focus of this article is not on Hart's death it is with timeliness and prominence that I am choosing to feature this alongside the AP article on his death today. Both portray Hart in a positive light and acknowledge his comic stip that had award winning acclaim and popularity in America for nearly 50 years.

April 6, 2007

Filipinos crucify themselves on Good Friday


In an article printed in the New York Times extreme religious devotion in the Philipines is documented. WIth a focus on fasting and praying during the Eastern season, the small village of Cutud was witness to nearly a dozen voluntary crucifixions on Good Friday this year. The language embodied in this article is highly descriptive and moving:

For hours before the crucifixions, lines of men, hooded and half naked, flayed their backs with bamboo whips and paddles tipped with broken glass. Blood splattered over the road.

It is also key to note in the N.Y. Times article the Catholic church's opposition to these extreme demonstrations and how they view these as a misrepresentation of the faith.

Although this issue has been covered in the past years there are no recent articles on this topic of crucifixions in the Philipines, However, there were several articles on the topic of Good Friday and the relgious traditions that several countries participate in

April 1, 2007

Give Your Children to the Government

The Senate approved a $1 Billion tax increase which would ultimately tag Minnesota with the highest state income tax in the nation. This issue has spiraled into a showdown with Gov. Tim Pawlenty who had proposed to keep taxes down. Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller argued that,

"Years of budget tightening and earlier tax cuts aimed at the rich have harmed the middle class and brought the state to a crossroads."
This quote was cleverly followed up by Sen. Ray Vandeveer who said,
"Parents, turn your children over to us. You might as well, you're not going to have any money yourself to take care of them."
This article which was printed in the Star Tribune outlines the specifics of the bill and Pawlenty's opposition to it. It is clear in offering specifics when referencing the numbers and financial jargon that could easily loose some readers.

In the article Minnesota's wealthiest may be facing nation's highest tax rate, far less background information and detail is provided. It is written using similar facts and figures and both underline Pawlenty's opposition. However, the article printed in the Pioneer Press written by Rachel E. Stassen-Berger does not offer commentary from Senators or even a reference as to what this money is intended to be used for. It lacks depth but is concise and conveys the basic necessary information.