May 4, 2008

Computer Assisted Reporting

"On the Trail of Cindy McKay." Narrative by Justin Fenton. The Baltimore Sun. May 1, 2008.

Cindy McKay who "was convicted in April 2008 of secretly stealing thousands of dollars from her boyfriend and stabbing him to death before his body was found burning along an Anne Arundel County road." A career criminal, McKay stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from employers and family over the course of more than 20 years. Two of McKay's sons were also implicated in the 2006 murder of her boyfriend, according to The Baltimore Times.

The Baltimore Times use computer-assisted to tell a series of stories on Mckay. An example of the papers use of CPR can be found on their website. A map with a combination of pictures and a timeline was used to comment and provide a visual on the life of McKay and her travel throughout the US over time. In addition links to information is provided through each overlay on the map, and sound bites are given.

The map uses a multitude of information and requires a solid understanding of CPR. It is complicated and combines Mckay's biographical, geographical, reported and documented aspects of her life.

Such CPR needs expertise and understanding of overlaying maps, journalistic investigation, and the synthesisizing of materials.

And the Winner Is...?

Minnesota State Lottery officials said Sunday that the sole winning Powerball ticket from Saturday night's drawing was sold somewhere in Rice County of southern Minnesota. Lottery officials said, per their usual practice, that they won't say exactly where it was sold until the winner comes forward, reported the Associated Press in an article ran by both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

The annuity payment plan is worth $180.1 million spread out over 30 years. The cash option would pay $88 million, or $59.6 million after tax withholding, reported the article.

The winning numbers were 2-28-36-42-46, and the Powerball was 40.

Fairbault, Minn. locals are anxious to detrmine is the unknown winner is one of their own.

"I hope it is somebody I know and I hope it is somebody who really needs it," Crystal Anderson, of Fairbault was repoted having said in the article.

The winner has a year to calim the prize reported the Associated Press. However, it seems locals of Midwestern Minnesota towns and suburbs are anxiously hopeful one of their own will soon claim the proze.

21-year-old man dies after struggle with police

A man whom police said was apparently suicidal and on a controlled substance died Sunday morning after fighting with St. Paul police, being sprayed with a chemical irritant and shot with a Taser gun in an attempt to subdue him, reported the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press Sunday.

The man determined to be a 21-year-old St. paul resident by both papers.

His identity and the cause of death will be released pending results of an autopsy, St. Paul police spokesman Peter Panos said to the Pioneer Press.

Responding to a call for police and paramedics, two officers entered the apartment and were confronted by the man, who was partially clothed. As the officers attempted to calm him down so paramedics could evaluate him, he attacked them, Panos told the Pioneer Press.

It's unclear what led the man to become suicidal and what kind of drug he might have ingested, the Star Tribune quoted Panos as saying.

The identy of the man has not been released.

Years to Recover-- imagine that.

The Australian woman and children held captive in a cellar for years by their incestuous father will take years to recover from their disturbing ordeal, doctors warned Wednesday as the family at the center of the case remained in psychiatric care, but were in good condition considering the senerio, reported CNN April 30.

The exact condition, JosefFritzl, kept his daughter Elisabeth was revealed in an article by the Daily Mail, which was highlighted on The Drudge Report today.

Elisabeth Fritzl was forced to help build the dungeon where she was kept by her sadistic father Josef, it emerged yesterday, the article reported.

One of the chambers, she was forced to dug by hand, was used as a punishment area and Fritzl would take his daughter there and rape her.

Elisabeth gave birth to 6 of Joseph children. Kerstin, 19, Stefan, 18, and six-year- old Felix, lived underground with her. Their siblings Lisa, 16, Monika, 14 and 12-year-old Alexander lived a 'normal' life upstairs, the article said.

The article also reports Josef, now 73, could escape justice by pleading insanity. A team of psychiatrists are due to examine him today at St Poelten Prison, after which he is expected to be officially sectioned.

Fritzl is facing charges of rape, incest and kidnap, according to the report.

To see the entire article on Elisabeth captivity click here.

Cyclone Kills Hundreds in Myanmar

A cyclone killed more than 350 in Myanmar and some dissent grouos are afraid the mylitary junta running the country will be reluctant to ask for international help, reported an AP report ran by the New York Times Sunday.

"We believe hundreds of people are dead," said Khin Maung Win with the Democratic Voice of Burma -- a broadcast media group run by opposition expatriates, to CNN. "The entire lower Burma is affected. In some areas, entire villages disappeared."

The cyclone, Nargis, cam at an unfortunate time for the country- A week before the junta referendum of the country's new constitution, AP and CNN reported.

The junta came under sharp criticism from many nations for using force to suppress pro-democracy protests last year, reported CNN.

Should the military dictatorship be seen as failing disaster victims, voters, many of whom already say the government has ruined the economy and suppressed democracy, could be more inclined to oppose the constitution, reported the AP.

To see a recent AP report from May 1, on President Bush freezing of assets of state-owned companies in Myanmar propping up the nation's military junta, click here.

Will Rev. Wright Hurt Obama?

A majority of American voters say that the furor over the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and his former pastor, Reverend Wright, has not affected their opinion of Mr. Obama, but a substantial number say that it could influence voters this fall should he be the Democratic presidential nominee, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, reported the New York Times today.

In an interview with Mike Murray of NBC news, Obama commented on the coorelation between himself and the reverend.
"Well, obviously it's distracted us. I mean, we ended up spending a lot of time talking about Reverend Wright instead of talking about gas prices and food prices and the situation in Iraq," Obama said in the interview. "And so it, it's, it wasn't welcome. But, you know, I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ."

For the New York Times summary of Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright and the contoversy that suurounds him, click here.

To see a transcript of a interview with the reverend from March 2, 2007 click here.

April 20, 2008

Chelsea Clinton Gets Rave Review During Gay Bar Crawl

Chelsea Clinton won rave reviews from members of the gay community Friday night, reported msnbc.

Clinton was reported to have been mobbed by local gays and lesbians in Philadelphia during a bar crawl, who hugged an kissed Clinton, with some exclaiming they loved her. Getting from one event to another during the night proved difficult at times, as she was constantly stopped by admirers while walking down the sidewalk, reported msnbc.

“I grabbed her ass,? one young woman exclaimed to her friends after snapping a picture with Clinton, reported msnbc.

Msnbc also reported even Obama supporters at a bar stop tried to snap pictures of the former first daughter.

In all, she visited four bars in Center City, concluding her tour at Woody’s, the city’s most famous gay bar.

UN Criticizes Treatment of Refugees Seeking Asylum in Greece

The United Nations refugee agancy has advised European Union countries to stop sending asylum seekers to Greece, until further notice. This request is a condemnation on behalf of the United Nations, who have been concerned for some time on the treatment of people fleeing conflict and persecution in Greece, reported the New York Times.

However, the New York Times reported refugee lawyers are concerned the request will result in Greece's neighbors to the union taking even tougher measures to push people away at borders since it puts a "disproportionate" burden on the countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain.

The New York Times reported, the refugee agency described Greece’s recognition rate for refugees as “disturbingly low.? The overall protection rate for refugees of all nationalities in 2006 was 1 percent in Greece, compared with 24 percent in Britain, 45 percent in Italy, 19 percent in Spain and 50 percent in Sweden.

The Greek interior minister, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, called the agency’s criticism “not only unfair but unfounded,? reported the New York Times.

April 18, 2008

Pope Meets With Clergy Sex Abuse Victims

Both the New York Times and the AP reported posted at reported Pope benedict XVI came face to face with victims of clergy sex abuse in a Washington chapel Thursday, and prayed with them. An extraordinary gesture from a pontiff who has made atoning for the great shame of the U.S. church the cornerstone of his first papal trip to America, wrote the AP reporter.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a papal spokesman, said that Benedict and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who the New York Times reported had given the pope a notebook listing about 1,000 victims, met with a group of five or six clergy sex abuse victims for about 25 minutes, offering them encouragement and hope.

“It was a moving experience,? Cardinal O’Malley told reporters afterward reported the New York Times. “It was very positive and very prayerful.?

"They prayed together. Also, each of them had their own individual time with the Holy Father," Lombardi told the AP. "Some were in tears."

The New York Times reported the reactions of the victims and ther advocates varied, some did not think it was enough while others praised the meeting.

Lombardi said it was believed to be the first-ever such session between a pope and abuse victims, according to the AP report.

The pope has called the clergy sex crisis a cause of "deep shame," and has pledged to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, decrying the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from the "gravely imoral behavior" by some priests, reported the AP.

The New York Times article features perspective of victims, who saw the pope and attempted to. To see their stories in the New York Times article click here.

April 17, 2008

Murderer of a Minneapolis Woman found 2 Years Later

A Faitrbault man was charged Thursday in the death of a south Minneapolis woman whose beaten body was found in a ditch near Northfield in 2005, reported The Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press.

Antonio Medina, 33, was charged with second-degree intentional murder in the death of Laura Lynn DeMeules, 33, on Nov. 6, 2005.

The leading evidence against Medina were fingernail clippings collected after he was convicted in Hennepin County of a felony drunken driving charge and his routine DNA samples were submitted, it was reported

In January, his profile matched that of an unknown DNA sample found on a fingernail clipping taken from DeMeules' body, the Star Tribune reported.

Both papers reported Medina's bail is set at $1 million.

When investigators interviewed Medina in February, he admitted picking up a woman on Lake Street that night who looked like a picture of DeMeules that police showed him., both papers reported. He said he was drunk and high on crack or cocaine, reported the Star Tribune.

The Pioneer Press reported the complaint reads: "The defendant said that for an unknown reason the female started arguing with him and that she was 'freaking out.' The defendant said he pinned her down and he killed her in the truck."

The victim's father, Duane DeMeules, told the Star Tribune he thanks God they have found his daughter murder and is happy with the amount bail was set at since it will prevent Medina from getting out.

"Now I don't have to worry anymore [that] this person could get ahold of somebody and the same kind of thing happens," he said.

Frightened Victims Call 911 while SUV sinks into St. Coix River

In follow up articles Wednesday, the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press reported on the coditions of the 4 people riding in a SUV , who plunged into the St. Croix River Sunday.

The Pioneer Press gave a brief update on the conditions of the individuals.

According two the Pioneer Press, Kalaiselvi Vijayakumar, 25, was still listed in critical condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul; Deepa Vellusamy, 25, remained in serious condition, as of Wednsday. Rohini Krishnamurthy, 27, of Minneapolis, died Tuesday afternoon at Regions; Mohanraj Pothiraj, 28, of Edina, died Monday morning. The official cause of death for both was complications from hypothermia and near drowning, said Don Gorrie, a spokesman for the Ramsey County medical examiner's office, the paper reported.

The Star Tribune feature a more in-depth article but reported the death toll at only one, Pothiraj, the driver of the car. The Star Tribune focused on the story of the 911 calls placed while the car was sinking.

Pothiraj called the Washington dispatcher, panicked and begging someone to rescue them, a little before, 10 p.m., the Tribune reported.

"I'm going to die in here," Pothiraj finally said, seconds before the Washington County dispatcher heard pounding and then lost phone contact the Tribune reported.

The Tribune reported that according to the 911 transcript released Monday Pothiraj also told the dispathcher. "We don't know swimming," And then crying said, "Yeah, our car is going to sink now." Toward the end of the six-minute call he said, "We are going to drown."

A women in the vehicle placed another 911 call after, and minutes after the vehicle sank Stlllwater police and rescurs were on the scene to get the passengers out of the car, the Tribune reported.

To read the entire Star Tribune article, which includes the story of the rescuers, click here

April 13, 2008


"In the Projects, Hope and Hard Knocks." By Emily Brady for the New York Times.

This article printed in the New York Times Sunday which focused on the Cypress Hill area in the projects of New York.

The article opened with - "IN 1991, the high crime rate at the Cypress Hills Houses in East New York, Brooklyn, made it the perfect setting for Mayor David Dinkins to announce a crackdown on illegal guns. It was a little too perfect, in fact. As the mayor spoke, shots rang out a block and a half away. People in the crowd screamed, some started to run and others ducked for cover. No one was injured, but the story added another chapter to the rough reputation of Cypress Hills."

The point of the article was to move passed the stereotype and expored what is whas like to live in Cypress Hill from the perspective of members of the community like the mayor, as senior citizen, a mother, and a teenage boy.

"Everybody wants to live in a good neighborhood,? the article reported Efrain Garcia, a 19-year-old who lives in Cypress Hill said. “It’s the American Dream,? he said.

This quote, along with a number of others help bring character to the story and move past the satistics and danger that plague the projects.

In addition, the story gives descriptions of the characters and the enviorment, allowing the reader to visualize the story and connect to it.

Obama acknowledges comments about working class ill-chosen

Barack Obama is on the defensive after he conceded yesterday the comments he made about bitter working-class voters who "cling to guns or religion" were ill-chosen reported bothe the Boston Globe and The New York Times.

Obama Saturday was forced to fight back accusations from his rivals that he had displayed a profound misunderstanding of small-town values, in a flare-up that left him on the defensive before a series of primaries that could test his ability to win over white voters in economically distressed communities, reported the New York Times.

"I didn't say it as well as I should have," both papers quoted Obama as saying at Ball State University. The Boston Globe went on to explain he said he meant that voters in places that had been losing jobs for years expressed their anxiety at the polls by focusing on cultural and social issues like gun laws and immigration.

Both papers touched on Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rivals reaction to his comments. Clinton hit Obama with her most pinted criticism to date said the Boston Globe.

"Senator Obama's remarks were elitist and out of touch," she said, campaigning about an hour away in Indianapolis, reported the Boston Globe. "They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans." The New York Times also focused on Clintons statement Obama's views did not reflect the value and beliefs of citizens.

Both newspaper's focused on Clinton's reaction. However, The New York Times's article took an angle focusing on Clinton's reaction, while the The Boston Globe put more focus on Obama's campaigns damage control.

There has been a small "political flare-up because I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois, who are bitter," Obama said yesterday morning at a town hall-style meeting at the university reported Th Boston Globe. "They are angry. They feel like they have been left behind. They feel like nobody is paying attention to what they're going through."

The boston Globe when on to report Obama said,"So I said, well you know, when you're bitter you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns, or they take comfort from their faith and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country."

Iraq Dismisses 1,300 Soldiers and Policemen

The Iraqi government has dismissed 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or refused to fight during last month's Shiite-on-Shiite battles in Barsa reported the New York Times Sunday.

Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said 500 soldiers and 421 policemen were fired in Basra, including 37 senior police officers up to the rank of brigadier general according to the paper. It was also reported police officials said the remainder were fired in Kut.

The Basra campaign was widely criticized, reported the paper, as poorly planned since it failed to disarm Shilite militias, but America and Iraqi officials are reported to have said the arrival of security forces in larger numbers has restored the streets vital to the Iraq's oil industry.

The Mahdi Army and the government security forces dominated by Mr. Sadr’s most powerful Shiite rival, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq are reported to be the two Shiite forces pitted against each other and their clash has spilled over into the Iraqi capital, particualarily in Sadr's stronghold, reported the Times, which is surrounded with both Iraqi and American soldiers.

To see the NY Times article click here.

Pregnant Teens Drink Spiked with Abortion Pill

A Pennsylvania teenage girl was the victim of an attempt of forced abortion when her drink was spiked with a drug normally used to abort pregnancies in cows reported a Pennsylvania local paper and the website

Both medias reported whoever tainted the drink between 7 a.m. and 4p.m. March 31 at Williamsburg High School is still at large, and both state and local officials are looking for the culprit.

Authorities are considering the crime an aggravated assault against both the girl and her unborn child reported the website and Pennsylvania's Centre Daily Times.

Officials told the news agency a drug and syringe were reported stolen from a farm in Huston Township, according to both medias.

The investigation was still ongoing as of Sunday, reported the Centre Daily Times.