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.

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

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

March 25, 2007

Shaking buildings and Shattered Windows in Japan

An earthquake of magnitude 6.9 tore apart central Japan Sunday in the city of Kanazawa. Killing 1 and injuring 170 others, this quake destroyed city buildings, cut power, and left the streets “cluttered with roof tiles and cracked pavement.� Aftershocks followed throughout the day and triggered two small tsunamis. The majority of the damage was concentrated in the city of Wajima.

An article published in the New York Times written by Associated Press writers Hans Greimel, Carl Freire and Mari Yamaguchi is written with precision and clarity. It provides prominent background information on the history of the most powerful quakes to hit Japan and the story focuses on the shock and devastation that the quake has taken in the city of Wajima (193 miles northwest of Tokyo). This article is far more effective than the AP article that the Pioneer Press published which offers no apparent angle or even critical detail. It lacks depth and clarity by failing to offer quotes and a description of the aftermath that occurred. It appears more like a press release focused mainly on the heart of the story considering that it was written not far after the quake tore apart cental Japan and the north coast Sunday.

I think in the case of the New York Times article, contacting officials and commentators to speak about the earthquake that tore apart Japan early this morning had to come with its difficulties. Providing a clear and visually stimulating description of the aftermath and the intensity of this quake is what makes this article stand out. However, when comparing these two articles in the proximity of time, it is key to note that the AP article was published earlier and leaves little time for a thorough analysis with supportive details and attributed quotes

February 25, 2007

Bloody Textbooks in Baghdad

A female suicide bomber armed herself with explosives at a university in Baghdad, Irag this Sunday which killed 40 and left 55 injured. It was deemed the worst day of violence since Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki announced a a revised security crackdown.

In the article that ran in the New York Times by Damien Cave and Wisam A Habeed, the bombing was the main kicker of story but more attention was actually focused on the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr and his opposition to the new security plan. The journalists

In comparison to this article, printed the same story but focused solely on the suicide bombing and the details of the event itself. I can imagine that the journalist struggles on what to include in the lead and whether or not too much detail could weaken the impact of the statement. For instance, the NY Times article emphasizes the devastation of the bombing by adding graphic imagery and language to the lead of the story.

A female suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives and ball bearings blew herself up at a Baghdad university today, killing at least 40 people, and strewing fingers, pens, purses and bloody textbooks all over the ground. offers a fairly drab retelling of the event that lacks style and intrigue. Even the quotes that are incorporated into this story seem redundant and even unnecessary. Specifically, the quote:

"Most of the dead were students," the official said.

this seems unreasonable as a quote, the bombing occurred at a university and most were probably students which emphasizes that this quote doesn't say anything interesting or worthwhile.

February 14, 2007

Berlinale Filmfest

The Internationale Filmfestspiele in Berlin is taking place this week. There will be more on this later....for now click here

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On Saturday, the Associated Press released an article that appeared on several websites titled "Chinese Film Wins Top Award in Berlin" This is the 57th festival and it began on Feb. 8th and will end on Sunday, Feb. 18th. This article takes a fairly non-bias approach its reporting on the collection of films that were recognized at this festival. Robert DeNiro's film,The Good Shepherd, won the award for outstanding artistic

Although I couldn't find this exact coverage of the festival covered by another newspaper, I found an indie film website that focuses on the diversity that international filmmakers are bringing to this festival and also the impact that these films and industries are having on the European marketplace. Overall, this article is longwinded and not very entising. There is no kicker or vibrant lead but it does provide crucial feedback from Universal Studios co-chairman David Linde on the outlook of independent film.

I think the author of this article on the Indie website had to be conscious of his stance when portraying a prominent figure such as David Linde and had to deal with providing the public with a clear idea of where he stands on the future of independent film.

February 11, 2007

Spaniards infatuated with Blue Pill

Spain Says Adiós Siesta and Hola Viagra
By: Dan Bilefsky

A few months ago a man walked into a pharmacy in Madrid, pulled out two toy guns and told the attendants to hand over all the Viagra in stock. Two hours later, in what was perhaps a show of gratitude, he returned with two bouquets of roses, before being arrested.

A male impotency drug nicknamed sexo azul by Spaniards has become all the rage with both teenagers and older men. This blue diamond shaped pill sells for $104 for a box of eight and has unleashed a string of men that crave this sexual enhancer for the prowess and confidence that it offers. A portion of society feels as though sexual desire is lost with the use of a pill and this once conservative and religious country has taken a dive for the worse. Here is a segment of the article that I found to be fairly well written and crucial to the idea of the article:

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, says Spain has moved into the vanguard of a European Viagra trend in part because economic prosperity has transformed the country from a relaxed Mediterranean culture, where the siesta was sacrosanct, into an Anglo-Saxon-style, workaholic nation.

The author of this article, a journalist at the N.Y. Times, begins with an intriguing lead and catches the reader’s attention from the beginning. The language and structure of this article reads like a short story, it provides the reader with background on the drug nicknamed sexo azul and the impact it has had on society in Spain. It using commentary from consumers and the marketers of this product and evenly balances those throughout the story.

A similar article was printed in the International Herald Tribune but merely restates the hard facts and does not offer a more personal view on the issue by adding commentary or attribution of any sort.

February 4, 2007

Soviet Agricultural Success


Above is an image of greenhouses at Agrikombinat Moskovsky which is on the southwestern edge of Moscow.

Since Soviet times, the landscape of Moscow has changed considerably. Nearly 300-acres of greenhouses and 800 markets have been the source of fresh produce in the cold, arctic-climate of this country. The Central Committee of the Communist Party pushed to create these greenhouses nearly 37-years ago which have existed to rebuild the economy and lend its hand to the progression of structurally independent society.

C.J. Chivers, a writer for the New York TImes, establishes ground by laying out the framework of Moscow's modern landscape. His lead is intriguing and keep the reader interested:
In a city starved for winter light, little could seem more out of place than this: On a day dimmed to gray by a canopy of clouds, Russian workers in short sleeves picking green lettuce and fresh herbs, all while illuminated by brilliant light.

His language is descriptive and enticing. At the same time, this article focuses on the ways in which Russia has restructured its own climate in order to become a substantially independent nation with acres of fresh produce even during the brutal cold of winter.

January 26, 2007

Deadly Pigeon Cage

An article in the Star Tribune today (January 26th) reported on the devasting bombing in Baghdad that killed 14 and left 62 others wounded. Blood and animal remains splattered the streets after a bomb hidden in a box with pigeons exploded and ripped through a pet store and livestock market on Friday. It happened in the Souq al-Ghazl around 10 am this morning. The explosion happened one day after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a Shi'ite mosque on the outskirts of Mosul which left seven dead.

This event was also reported by Alastair Macdonald for yahoo news and takes a far more domestic look at the actions that the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will take. Offering insight into the ways in which the U.S. congress is handling this event is a convenient way to keep readers interested and awaken them to the impact that international conflict and hate crimes can have on U.S. policy.

The series of suicide bombings and hate crimes that continue withiin Beirut and Baghdad have had an immense impact on the world. What new strategies could possibly save these war-torn countries now?