« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

February 24, 2008

Spot and Follows

The Star Tribune has printed multiple stories on the bus crash in Southern Minnesota which resulted in 4 student's deaths.

The Associated Press released stories similar to the Star Tribune's. Although it was a local story it since it was also given national coverage. AP reported initially on the tragedy and also did follow ups, including a follow up on the woman charged with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide and two lesser charges, for hitting the bus after she failed to stop at a stop sign.

The Star Tribune printed a similar follow up. However, the Tribune followed up the story today in an opinion piece on how the bus tragedy has turned into a political tragedy.

The Tribune's story on the woman charged in relation to the bus crash, focused on the information surrounding the woman and the consequences she would face. This was a follow up to the original story, which focused on the details of the crash and the student's family and friends mourning.

The original story's lead focuses on the tragedy of the deaths, while the first follow up story's lead focuses on the mystery surrounding the woman involved.

The opinion piece advanced both leads by putting the tragedy into perspective locally. It combines the leads of the first and second story and shows the implications they have.

Saudi Men Arrested For 'Flirting"

Saudi Arabia's prosecutors arrested 57 young men Thursday for flirting with girls in malls in the holy city of Mecca reported the BBC.

The young men were arrested upon the request of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice for wearing indecent clothes, playing loud music and dancing inappropriately, reported the Saudi Gazette.

The AFP reported Members of the commission, known as the Muttawa, patrol public areas to ensure the kingdom's brand of conservative Islam, Wahhabism, is enforced. This includes strict segregation of the sexes.

Some of the arrestees’ guardians said the young men regularly got together at the weekend to have fun and did not violate laws governing the segregation of the sexes, the commission stated.

However, the commission received reports of 'bad' behavior, which led to the arrests.

The BBC reported symbols, such as red roses, were banned from sales by authorities earlier this week in an attempt to crack down on Valentine's Day. The day is considered a "pagan Christian holiday" and the celebrations of the event are believed to encourage premarital relationships, which are punishable by law in Saudi Arabia, the BBC reported.

What Do Men and Shoes Have in Common?

"I imagine myself trying on this pair of shoes [Miu Miu's] and walking deftly out the door, a woman who knows how to pull off a fashion statement and never, ever falls for a heel in a suit and tie." -from "Heel, Girl! by Daphne Merkin

The New York Times Style Magazine printed a insightful, yet hilarious, article on the parallels between jerks and shoes. Daphne Merkin has the answers to why women are allured both to high heels (as in the shoes) and male heels (as in the jerks).

Heels, in the male sense, are not poseurs. Heels understand women and like the footwear they resemble they have elevated proportions of initial appeal, they suggest endless foreplay, and they make you feel good. Unfortunately for both, the initial appeal tends to wear out with the wearing.

To see Daphne Merkin's quirky article click here.

"Shame on you, Barack Obama"

Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Barack Obama Saturday of sending mass mailings to voters which deliberately misrepresented her position on NAFTA and health care and while campaigning in Ohio said, "Shame on you, Barack Obama.�

The mailings, which were sent out over the last several days, claimed Clinton's plan for universal coverage would force everyone to purchase insurance even if they can't afford it and cited a 2006 Newsday article which suggest Clinton believed the NAFTA had been a 'boon' to the economy.

However, the use of 'boon' was unfairly used by Obama since Newsday was responsible for the word 'boon', not Clinton, according to the paper. "It's an example of the kind of slim reeds campaigns use to try to win an office," Newsday said.

According to the Associated Press, Obama defended the mailings by citing them as accurate. He said it was not a political ploy and despite her current criticism, Clinton supported NAFTA when it passed during her husband's administration.

It was reported Clinton expressed anger over her Democratic rival's campaign behavior, stating she would like to meet him in Ohio to discuss his tactics. The two presidential candidates are scheduled to debate in Cleveland on Tuesday.

In Clinton's criticism of Obama, she said, "Since when do Democrats attack one another on universal health care?"

"Well, when she started to say I was against universal health care... which she does every single day," Obama said in response to Clinton.

Clinton is reported to have consistently attacked Obama's health care plan in the past year by claiming it would leave 15 million Americans uninsured.


February 23, 2008

Bruininks faces criticism over tuition concerns

"The headlines scream 7.5 percent and it scares people away from the institution...I don't know how you can get the message out that you are still affordable to an average, middle-income family." - Sen. Claire Robling

Bruininks visit to the capitol for a university funding request, turned critical Thursday over the expected increase in the University of Minnesota tuition.

Bruininks, who was requesting funding of $225.5 million from the Senate Higher Education Committee, for building maintenance and renovations, faced opposition and criticism over the 2008-2009 increase from Sen. Claire Robling reported the Minnesota Daily.

"The headlines scream 7.5 percent and it scares people away from the institution," The Daily reported Robling said. "I don't know how you can get the message out that you are still affordable to an average, middle-income family."

Bruinicks was reported to have downplayed the rising tuition by emphasizing scholarships and programs offered by the university, which cut down on cost for some students.

The Daily reported in a separate article Friday that tuition would be balanced by scholarships offered next school year. The article focuses on the changes that will be made, the scholarships offered, and compares the university's tuition and aid to that of other colleges.

February 22, 2008

Woman Charged in Bus Crash in US Illegally

The Star Tribune reported the woman involved in the Cottonwood, Minn. bus crash that killed 4 children was charged today, and according to Federal authorities is living in the US illegally under an alias.

The woman, who is using the name Alianiss Nunez Morales, ran a stop sign outside the southern town Tuesday when her van hit the bus, which then fell onto a pickup truck said Lyon County Attorney Richard Maes.

Morales is charged with four counts of criminal-vehicular homicide, running a stop sign and driving without a license at the time of the crash.

Maes told the judge that ICE officials had located an Alianiss Nunez Morales in Puerto Rico but the woman's family said the woman involved in the accident was not their relative, which made the agency concerned about the jailed woman's identity.

Maes asked the judge to hold the woman without bail, citing her questionable identity, but since none of the charges involve allegations of using false identification Morales bail was set at $400,000 without conditions or $200,000 with an assortment of conditions. The defendant's attorney, Manuel P. Guerrero, of St. Paul, protested that the bail set was the same as denying her bail due to her financial situation.

Morales next court appearance is set for April 21.

An injured Morales appeared in District Court this morning and through an interpreter told the court that her name is Alianiss Morales, that she has been working in a Cottonwood cabinet shop for about a month and was living with her boyfriend in a Minneota, Minn., trailer.

"She's grief-stricken about the accident," Guerrero said of Morales. "She's hurting about what happened to the kids."

Lakeview School, where the students attended, will be closed Monday for the funerals of brothers Jesse Javens, 13, and Hunter Javens, 9, both of Cottonwood. Also killed were Reed Stevens, 12, of Marshall; and Emilee Olson, 9, of Cottonwood.

There were 28 students on the bus. In addition to Hancock, eight children remained hospitalized Thursday in Sioux Falls, S.D., Marshall and Rochester.

February 17, 2008

Kosovo's Independence Day

The Kosovo Parliament declared the former Serbian province a nation Sunday, sending thousands of ethnic Albanians swarming the streets in celebration of the perceived end of the struggle for independence.

Kosovo intends to be recognized as Europe's newest country. Seventeen years after the dissolution of former Yugoslavia began the dissolution is complete reported The New York Times.

In Kosovo's capital, Pristina, jubilant people danced in the streets, fired guns in the air, and waved Albanian and American flags in celebration of the end of a period of struggle. A decade ago a civil war resulted in 10,000 deaths and was followed by years of limbo under UN rule.

"This is the happiest day of my life," the AP reported Mehi Shehu, 68 said. "Now we're free and we can celebrate without fear."

The leader's of the new nation signed a iron sculpture spelling "NEWBORN" during the celebrations.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Fatmir Sedjdui signed the deceleration and unveiled the new national crest and flag, a blue banner featuring a gold map of the nation and 6 stars standing for the main ethnic groups.

Thaci pledged Kosovo would be a "democratic, multiethnic state."

Kosovo appealed directly to the U.S. and other nations for recognition, sidestepping the U.N. The new nation was hoping for swift international recognition, that could come Monday, when EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels Belgium.

However, Serbia denounced the declaration of independence as illegal and is outraged by the immenent loss of a territory.

Russia has rejected the declaration, warning it will set a dangerous precedent for separist groups internationally and insisted on a emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Sunday.

The U.S., which Serbia Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, believes unlawfully propped up Kosovo, will continue to work to prevent violence. The European Union appealed for calm. Both are mindful of the risk that Kosovo's declaration could cause instability.

Just hours after the declaration, a hand-grenade was set off in a U.N. courthouse north a Kosovo. No one was injured.

All 27 EU nations plan to endorse an aid plan for Kosovo at the foreign minister meeting scheduled for Monday. However, Greece, Romania, Spain, Cyprus and Slovakia, among others, plan to reject Kosovo's independence.

Kosovo is still protected by 16,000 NATO-led peacekeepers, which will work to discourage violence. However, NATO does not have immediate plans to increase its force.

All 26 NATO nations will meet Monday at the alliance headquarters.


February 16, 2008

News Structure

US Marines in Japan Investigate 4 Servicemen Over Alleged Rape of Japanese Woman. By Chisaki Watanbe, Associated Press

The first paragraph of the article is a traditional lead. it reads "U.S. military authorities held preliminary hearings Friday to determine whether four Marines who had been charged with raping a Japanese woman last year should be court-martialed." this lead gives the who- the US authorities, the what- held preliminary hearings, the when- Friday, the why- allegedly raped a Japanese woman, and the byline answers where- Japan.

The second paragraph then expands on the lead; it explains the details of when the servicemen were charged. Then the paragraphs go on to explain first the details of the hearings, and then goes on to explain in an important paragraph why the story is significant- "The case at Iwakuni, which was initiated quietly after Japanese authorities dropped charges against the four, was taking place as anger rose on the southern island of Okinawa over the arrest this week of another serviceman on suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl."

Next the report gives the U.S. militaries response followed by a chronological telling of the story, followed by general information and additional details of a related crime.

The ordering is rather effective and well done (as would be expected from an AP report). However, If I were to write the story I would have included the details of the alleged rape earlier in the story including the information that the woman had agreed to have sex with one of the men, but then the 3 men joined, and all 4 raped her. The details of the rape to me seem important to the case because they reveal the alleged charges.

Job Cuts!!!!

Newsroom cuts have been plaguing the newspaper industry and the industry's economic picure is worsening. In the last week two major newspaper, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, have announced job cuts.

The NY Times reported their executive editors said Thursday that after years of resisting cuts due to financial strain the will be eliminating about 100 newsroom jobs.

Their editor, Bill Keller said that the cuts will be made quickly by not filling vacant jobs, offering buyouts, and if necessary layoffs. He said the more people who accept buyouts the less layoffs there will be. However, he said The NY Times should brace themselves for some layoffs.

The NY Times currently employs 1,332 newsroom employees, a number larger than all other American newsrooms.

Significants cuts had been made in some of The NY Times other properties, including The Boston Globe and other nonnews operations.

The NY Times stock an profits have been decreasing. Exact numbers concerning stock and profits can be found in The NY Times news report.

The New York Observer reported Wednesday that the L.A. Times will be eliminating 100-150 newsroom jobs. They will also be ending opening positions and laying off some workers.

Sam Zell and publisher David Hiller are divided over who should run the L.A. Times and this was some of the dirty work they must do before the decision is made.

Zell wrote in an e-mail that he wants to add staff some day, but: "Unfortunately, I can't turn this ship from its course of the past 10 years within just a few months." Zell said there will be job cuts at all Tribune papers.

You can see both Zell and Hiller's memos here.

The NY Times reported in addition to their cuts other large papers have made much bigger cuts, proportionally. Some newsrooms are more than 20 percent smaller than they were early in the decade.

The Wall Street Journal, which was acquired by the News Corporation in December is faring better than the two newspapers. The NY Times reported Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation’s chairman, is calling for The Journal to become an alternative to The NY Times.

The Journal has about 750 newsroom personnel, a figure that does not include some of the support staff that most newspapers include in the tally. That is the largest the number has ever been, and executives have said they expect it to grow.

February 15, 2008

Rochester Man Dies Saving Swimmer While on Vacation

A Rochester man died saving a friend's son from drowning during a tropical vacation last week reported The Star Tribune.

Marcus Mack, 35, died saving D'Angelo Tines, 10, after large wave engulfed them and several others off a Limon, Costa Rica beach.

The two were riding the waves during a cruise stop when the waves overwhelmed them. Mack pulled the boy to the surface and pushed him toward the shore. D'Angelo survived. Mack did not.

"My son came up, and said, 'Mom, they're drowning! They're drowning!" Jenny Tines, Mack's friend and they boys mother said. If Mack had not have there her son would have absolutely died on the Carnival Cruise vacation Tines said.

Tines watched as her husband, saved a young girl in their group and then tried to save the life of Mack.

Tines thought Mack was safe when he caught ahold of small buoy ran out to him by a worker at a nearby park, but he suddenly lost hold and disappeared in the waters.

Mack's body was eventually brought from the water's. Members of the group tried to revive him, but it was too late.

Mack was described by Tines as a man with "a million-dollar smile," who was a loving a father. Tines said tha friends and family do not want his life story to be about his death.

Mack's, who owned a party promoter and disc jockey business, body was flown back to Minnesota today.

A memorial is being held for him for him Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. and his funeral will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. Both services will be held at Rochester Community Baptist Church. memorials can be made to the Mack Fund, Edward Jones finacial services, 4057 28th St. NW., Suite 400, Rochester, MN 55901.

Mack is survived by his girlfriend, Nicole Arnold of Rochester; children, Alanah L. Mack, Marcus A. Mack and Carmelo M. Mack, all of Rochester; brothers Elliott Norwood and Rashad Norwood, and sister Lisa Norwood, all of Rochester.

Gunman kills 5 on College Campus

A former student opened fire inside a Northern Illinois University classroom Thursday afternoon killing five students and himself.

Florida authorities identified the gunman as former graduate student Steven Kazmierczack, 27. Illinois authorities have not yet confirmed the suspects identity.

The skinny gunman dressed in all black stepped out from behind a curtain minutes before a introductory geology class ended. Kazmierczack loaded with two handguns and a shotgun shot about 20 times before turning the gun on himself autorities and witnesses told The Boston Globe.

CBS reported that John G. Peters, the univeristy's president said in a press conference 22 people were shot. Four of the six died at the scene and two others died later at an area hospitals. All of the gunmans victims were students reported CBS Chicago.

Two of the victims were identified by the Dekalb County Coroner's office as Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville, Jullian Gehant, 32, of downstate Meridian. Joseph Peterson, the graduate student instructing the class was shot but CBS reported he is not in serious condition.

The course was a introductory in which 162 students, mostly freshman and sophmores were enrolled in, said Jonathon Berg, chairman of the department of geology. Katie Wagner, a student in the classroom, told CBS about 70 students were in attendance Thursday.

Northern Illinois University is located in a rural university 65 miles due west of Chicago and enrolls about 25,000 students. 91 percent of the students are from Illinois.

Moments after the shooting the university put into action the detailed security plan according to The Boston Globe, which was created after the Virginia Tech shooting last spring, the worst school shooting in US history.

Shots ran outside the university's Cole Hall shortly after 3 p.m. and by 3:07 the campus was put into lockdown. By 3:20 an alert was posted on the university website, email notifications were sent and, an alrm was sen via another campus system.

The rest of the evenings class were cancelled, as well as all classes Friday reported The Boston Globe. Counselors are being offered to students.

Police Chief Dan Grady told CBS the gunman acted alone, but no motive has been established. Kazmierczack had no previous criminal record.

Thursday night, technology was playing an important role in the recovery process, as students were logging onto social networking websites like Facebook to share their thoughts about the tragedy.

The university is devestated by the shooting, said witnesses.

"You don't think it's going to happen at your university and you certainly don't think it's going to happen in your department to people you know," Berg said to The Boston Globe. "You don't know how to react."

The NIU Department of Public Safety is asking that any individuals who witnessed the Feb. 14 shooting, or who believe they have any information related to the shooting, call the University Tip Line at (815) 753-TIPS. Police will return calls as soon as possible reported CBS.

The FBI is processing the crime scene and the investigation is being aided by the Illinois State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the State Crisis Management Team, the City of DeKalb Police, City of Sycamore Police, DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, the Ben Gordon Center and the DeKalb, Sycamore and Cortland Fire Departments, as well as FEMA reported CBS.

February 14, 2008

In Honor of Valentine's day

Tonight a loving couple plans to say "I do"

Sarah Stanchfield, 31, plans to walk down the isle to the man her parents consider the right man for their daughter.

In a feature article, The Star Tribune reported Sherm Stanchfield, the brides father said, "she talked since she was a teenager about finding a nice man and getting married."

Stanchfield found the right man in Jim Lunquist, 49.

On the top of their wedding cake will be a dancing bride and groom, a tribute to the passion that brought them together.

Stanchfield and Lundquist have another thing in common according to The Star Tribune. They both have down syndrome.

Their relationship began when Stanchfield asked Lundquist to dance and to be her boyfriend, said Sharon Baer, who has provided in-home services for Lundquist for about eight years.

"He told one of the staff that it's like another part of his heart just opened up when he met her," Baer said.

“She is my soul. That is true,� Lundquist said, while holding Stanchfield's hand.

The Star Tribune reported Lundquist realized Stanchfield was the woman he wanted to marry after he traveled to Denmark with Lifeworks, a nonprofit organization based in Eagan that helped both Lundquist and Stanchfield find job in late 2005. Lundquist yearned for his girlfriend and belived the trip was making him a man. Upon his arrival he got down on his knee and proposed to Stanchfield, without consulting anyone. Lundquist said yes.

The couple will face challenges due to their disability. However, Mary Gaash, who counseled the couple, said the couple had answer to every challenge presented to them and that the marriage could be good for them since they will be joining their abilities.

Experts agree said The Star Tribune, it is not uncommon for people with Down Syndrome to form companionships and that with the right support systems couples may benefit.

In a ceremony attended by family and friends, the couple will celebrate Valentine's Day by saying "I do."

February 9, 2008

Attribution

One Injured in Plymouth Fire, 50 Forced Out Of Their Homes. Mara H. Gottfried (Pioneer Press)

Only one source is attributed in this story. The source used is the Plymouth Fire Chief Richard Kline. Since he is the only source he is attributed throughout the whole story.

There is no attribution to the people. In my opinion the story would be much stronger if instead of using just an official source it had used the victims as sources as well. Since 50 is a substantial amount of individuals to be forced out of their homes I believe the public would be interested in their personal stories and how they were affected.

Since there is only one source it seem redundant to use "Kline said" and "he said" as often as the story did. It is unnecessary to attribute after every sentence.

Bride Dies During Wedding's First Dance

A Florida bride’s perfect wedding turned tragic when she died during her wedding's first dance, less than an hour after exchanging vows.

The Associated Press reported while Kim Sjostrom and Teddy Efkarpides were dancing to a Greek song meaning "Love Me" the bride complained of being lightheaded and collapsed in her husband’s arms.

Efkarpides thought his wife, who was diabetic, needed sugar.

Wedding guests, paramedics and doctors at a nearby hospital were unable to revive her.

Sjostrom was dead at 38, after her own desired "Big Fat Greek Wedding" from heart disease.

Sjostrom, who had a previous cardiac episode in her 20's, and Efkarpides celebrated their marriage exactly three years after their first meeting.

On Jan. 19 Sjostrom wed the 43-year-old carpenter in a gown provided by Davie Elementary School, where she taught first grade. The school also provided the decorations, minister, and flowers.

The bride had the Greek wedding she had wanted.

"It was perfect for her," said Dominic Church, the minister and friend.

Efkarpides, now widowed, consoles himself of his loss by reading the list Sjostrom gave him after their first Christmas together. The list consisted of 101 reasons why she loved him.

No. 98 is now hard for Efkarpides. It reads, "You're the one I want to grow old with."


Bhutto's Party Rejects UK Police Findings

Benzir Bhutto's party rejected the Scotland Yard finding Friday alleging Bhutto was killed by a bomb rather than a bullet, and they renewed their call for a full-scale investigation into her death.

The British investigators report found the former's prime ministers death on December 27, 2007 was caused by a fatal head injury when the force from a suicide bomber caused her to be thrown against a lever on the roof of her armored vehicle. It was ruled out her head injury may have been caused by a bullet.

The investigation confirmed shots were taken, as seen a television, however found they were not the cause of her death and that one assailant was responsible.

The Pakistan government announced similiar findings soon after Bhutto's killing at the end of a political rally in Rawalpindi.

According to the The Boston Globe (in a report released from The Associated Press), Bhutto supporter's rejected the 2 1/2 week long investigation. Her party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, insist Bhutto was killed by a bullet.

Bhutto had accused President Pervez Musharraf's allies of trying to kill her. The Scotland Yard report is being called into question by the party as a potential government coverup. Musharraf had rejected the PPP call for a UN inquiry and invited the Scotland Yard to investigate Bhutto's death.

"We disagree with the finding on the cause of the death," said Sherry Rehman, spokeswoman for the PPP, who escorted Bhutto to hospital after the attack. "She died from a bullet injury. This was and is our position."

"This gives us all the more reason for a United Nations probe to know the perpetrators, financiers, sponsors and organizers of the this crime," she said. "We are looking for more than the hand that pulled the trigger."

The United States views the Scotland Yard findings as credible according to Tom Casey, State Department spokesman.

The response of Bhutto's party suggested the British report alone would not calm the political storm surrounding her death as the nation prepares for the parliamentary elections, which were postponed for six weeks, on Feb. 18.


February 8, 2008

4-year-old Minneapolis Boy Missing

A 4-year-old Minneapolis boy is believed to have been taken from his home Wednesday night by a family aquaintance.

Desmond Keith Reed is reported to have been taken from 3118 Morgan Ave. N. by Lashawn Barbara Kreighbaum, who also goes by Shawna William. Kreighbaum, who is an aquaintance of both the boys mother and his babysitter, is believed to have taken him while under the care of his babysitter.

Reed is not believed to be in immediate danger according to the Minneapolis Police Department.

However, the motive behind Kreighbaum action are unknown.

The Pioneer Press reported Reed is a black boy, around 3 feet tall with a light build and a short afro. He was last seen wearing SpongeBob SquarePants pajamas with a navy blue winter coat and black boots.

Kreighbaum is a black female, around 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a dark complexion. She has a thin to medium build and has blonde and brown weaved hair that is chin length. A tattoo on her arm reads "SHAWN" and she has a small nose ring. She was last seen wearing a red leather jacket, a white skullcap, white gloves and shoes, and faded jeans. The Star Tribune reported her as 25 years old. The Pioneer Press reported her as being between the ages of 35 to 38.

Kreighbaum, from Chicago, may be driving a Ford Taurus with liscense plate number EUC181.

No Amber Alert has been issued since the boy is not believed to be in immediate danger by police.

"We have some speculation and leads, but we don't have anything confirmatory," said Srgt. Mark Sauer. "We'd like to be able to talk to her and find out exactly what happened, but we don't believe he is in danger."

If you have any information please call the Minnesota Police Department at 612-348-2345.

UPDATE: The Star Tribune reported the Reed was found dead Sunday by the Minneapolis Police Homicide Unit investigators at the home he had been living at. A wiman has been taken into custody.
View article on the discovery of his body here.

Metro Transit Ridership up in 2007

Metro Transit reported it's highest ridership total in 25 years, providing more than 77 million rides in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region in 2007.

Ridership increased by 3.4 million over 2006 or a 4.8 percent increase.* The count was based on both Metro Transit bus ridership and the Hiawatha Light Rail.

This is the highest rates since 1982, a year which was also marked by record high gas prices.

The Pioneer Press reported the General Manager, Brian Lamb, said in a press release that although factors like high gas prices, road construstion, and the I-35W bridge collapse did contribute to increased ridership, passenger have continued riding even as gas prices have dropped.

"Ridership growth in 2007 is not a one-year phenomenon. It continues a positive trend," Lamb said. (as reported by the Star Tribune)

Lamb added convience items had intensified over the past year.

7.2 million people used Metropass in 2007, an increase of 12.2 percent since the previous year. Metropass is a pass which employers provide at full or reduced cost to employees.

In 2007, The University of Minnesota student riders U-Pass increased by 9 percent or 4.3 million rides.

The newest convience, a fare debit card, was used by 25 percent of riders.

The agency reported that the buses were efficient in 2007. Buses were reported to have been on time 89 percent of the time, while trains were on time 97 percent of the time.

By March 2008 Metro Transit plans to add up to 20 percent soy biodiesel to its fuel, in addition to the 19 hybrid electric buses it added to its fleet in 2007.

*reports from the Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press differed in the percentages given. The percentages given in this report were taken from the Star Tribune.

February 7, 2008

Romney Out; It's McCain

Mitt Romney, who positioned himself as the true conservative voice for the Republican party, announced Thursday afernoon he would be ending his campaign.

Romney announced his withdrawl at the Conservative Political Acion Conference in Washington, in a speech which touched on the message of his campaign. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times Romney came to his decison to unify the Republican party and to keep the Democratic canidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton out of office.

"In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. This is not an easy decision. I hate to lose," the former Massachusett governor said.

""If this were only about me, I'd go on. But it's never been only about me. I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, in this time of war I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country"
(as reported by CNN).

Romney told conservatives that although he does not agree with John McCain, the Republican front-runner, on all the issues they agree on the Iraq war.

Although Romney criticized McCain for holding liberal views he supports McCains position that the United States needs to continue to pursue the war in Iraq.

The New York Times reported Romney argued that the war is a critical part of the country’s battle against terrorism. He said, the Democratic candidates would retreat, declare defeat and there would devastating consequences.

If he were to stay in the race until the Republican Convention in St. Paul , Minn., Romney said he would forestall the launch of a national campaign, making it easier for the Democratic canidates to win the election.

The announcement came after the Mormon canidates dissapointing showing on Super Tuesday. Romney, who only won 7 states primaries (mostly consisting of small caucus states) found the gap between him and McCain widening instead of shrinking.

After Tuesdays caucusing McCain led with 707 delegates to Romney's 294. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, has 195 delegates.

Republican canidates need 1,191 delegates to the win nomination at the convention this summer.

Romney launched his campaign almost a year ago on Feb. 12 2007 at the Henry Ford Museum of Innovation in his native Michigan. His campaign was strong on family values and emphasized an opposition to gay marriage and abortion. He supported tax cuts and health insurance that would benefit middle-class families.

With Romney stepping aside, McCain is now in a secure position to win the Republican nomination.


February 3, 2008

Leads

Boy, 15, charged with murder in killing of parents, 2 younger brothers in Baltimore suburb

By KASEY JONES , Associated Press
Last update: February 3, 2008 - 7:49 PM

COCKEYSVILLE, Md. - A 15-year-old boy fatally shot his parents and two younger brothers as they slept, then spent more than 12 hours with friends before returning home and calling 911 to report that his father was dead, police said Sunday...

A lead is a simple clear statement consisting of the first paragraph or two when using the inverted pyramid in a news story. Straigt-news leads are often made up of the six basic questions- who? what? when? where? why? how? (or so what?, and what's next?)

The lead used in this article by the Star Tribune is a immediate-identification lead. The most important information hits the eye first, in this case it is that a "15-year-old boy fatally shot his parents..." The first information revealed is who, followed by what. Since the boy is a teenager and it was his own parents he killed, it is important to what makes this story unique and news worthy. It highlights the novelty of the story. The lead is effective because it gets straight to the facts on why this story matters or 'so what?' It is a straight-news lead.

The lead answers who?,what?, when?, and how?

It answer's who? in a general way by using the boy's age as a descriptive tool. Since the boy is not well-known, his age causes more of an impact and interest.

What? is answered descriptively. "Fatally shot" gives the specifics of the murder. We know from the lead the boy did not just murder his parents; it tells us the way he killed his family.

The lead becomes even more specifics by continuing to give details of how he killed his family - while they were sleeping- and who he killed - his parents and two younger brothers. However, it does not give specifics on the names of the victim. The lead gives their relation to the boy instead. Again, this is because the fact it was his family creates more intrigue than their specific names would.

When? is answered specifically by when police released information - Sunday - and by when the boy reported the murder -after spending more than 12 hours with friends.

Where? and why? are not answered in the lead.

Where? is answered in the first sentence of the second paragraph. ("Police went to their suburban Baltimore home and later charged Nicholas Waggoner Browning after he admitted to the slayings, Baltimore County Police spokesman Bill Toohey said"). The information was deemed important but not necessary to the lead.

Why? is not answered until the fourth paragraph. ("The teen had not been getting along with his father, police said"). Since it was not answered until later in the story, the reporter made the decision that the why? was not as important to the story as the other factors were.

February 1, 2008

Obesity: Minnesota Fat vs. Minnesota Lean

Minnesotans have the chance to take control of obesity or let it take control over them according to a report released Wednesday by Blue Cross and Blue Shields of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health. If obesity is left uncontrolled health care cost will rise and workplace productivity will suffer.

The Pioneer Press gave a portrait of the two directions Minnesotans could take in the fight against obesity.

Fast food, sweetened drinks, low-impact jobs and activities, and dependency on cars contribute to the rising rate in obesity.

If current trends continue 76 percent of adults will be obese or overweight by 2020. According to Dr. Marc Manle of Blue Cross, "If we ignore obesity and allow current trends to continue, health care cost are going to rise dramatically." Total health care cost would be about $5080 per capita.

Additionally, diabetes and heart disease would become more common and fewer companies would provide health plans.

If Minnesota levels remain the same as 2005, the percentage of obese or overweight adults will be 14 percent less than if the problem continues to esculate and only $4274 would be spent on health care per capita.

Dr. Sanne Magnan of the State Health Commission said, "we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work tackling obesity. It's a community effort."

Minnesotan can tackle obesity by making better personal choices. Employers should encourage exercise and offer better food, and citizens would benefit if cities built trails.

The Star Tribune published a report Wednesday addressing the issue of obesity as well, but from a different standpoint.

They reported that two prominent obesity skeptics are debating two obesity experts in the British Medical Journal this week.

Patrick Basham and John Lunick are health policy experts at the conservatice Democracy institute and co-authors of "Diet Nation: Exposing the Obesity Crusade." They believe health risks of obesity are overblown. They said, "Media claims about an epidemic...often exceed the scientific evidence and mistakenly suggest an unjustified degree of certainty."

Nancy Sherwood, a researcher for Health Partners and Robert Jeffery, a professor at the University of Minnesota hold an opposing and more popular viewpoint. According to them the co-authors are singling out specific data and ignoring the whole body of research.

They say the body of research shows a clear trend.

Aussie Actor Heath Ledger Dead at 28.

Heath Ledger, actor, father, Oscar nominee and Aussie heartthrob, was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 22, according to the New York Police Department. He was 28.

Ledger was found dead in his SOHO apartment at around 3:30 p.m. He was found nude laying in his bed when his housekeeper came to wake him for a massage appointment. When she shook him and got no response she called 911. Ledger was pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m.

Police did not suspect foul play but did find medications near the body, including perscription sleeping pill, prescribed in Ledger's name. Authorities found six different types of European prescription drugs including pills to treat insomnia and anxiety and an antihistamine.

The Autopsy on Wednesday, January 23 was inconclusive. A cause-of-death determination is expected later this week.

Ledger is remembered by his fans, family, and friends. His friends included many collegues and co-stars, including Jake Gyllenhaal, who starred with him in Brokeback Mountain, the film about a tragic love affair between two cowboys, which earned Ledger an Oscar nomination.

The reasons for Ledge's death have been widely speculated to the diapproval of some, including Star Jones. Jones believed the reporting done on Ledger was disrespectful to the dead.

Entertainment Tonight and The Insider planned on airing a video allegedly of Ledger at a Hollywood drug party. They announced Thursday they would not be airing the clip out of respect for the family. The Insider aired a long teaser just the day before, featuring Ledger speaking of past drug use and stating his girlfriend would be angry.

Ledger's publisist called the drug allegations "heinous lies."

Michelle Williams, Ledgers ex-girlfriend and co-star in Brokeback Mountain, rep denies accusations that their relationship ended over Ledger's drug use.

His family and friends say his death was not a suicide.

Ledger is survived by his daughter with Williams Matilda Rose, 2.

He has two movies coming out later this year, including The Dark Knight, part of the Batman series. Ledger plays the Joker.

Second Oppositional Leader Killed in Kenya

''Kenya is a country that was a hope for the continent. Today, if you look at Kenya you see violence on the streets. We are even talking about ethnic cleansing, We are even talking about genocide. We cannot sit with our hands folded.'' - African Union Summit chairman Alpha Konare

An opposition leader, David Kimutai Too, was shot and killed in Kenya Thursday by an Elderet police officer, making him the second opposition lawmaker to be killed this week (according to The New York Times). The country has been on edge since the December 27 elections and the former school teacher of the Rift Valley's death added to the turmoil.

President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of the Kenyan election. Oppositional canidate, Raila Odinga, claimed the vote was rigged and has rejected the election. Kibaki will not negotiate his presidency. Tensions have been high as well as violence in the country.

The head of the Africa Union warned leaders of the continent that they could not stand by while Kenya descended into ethnic cleansing, possibly genocide (as reported by the Associated Press).

After the killing thousands of the slain opposition leader ethnic group, Kalenjin, rioted. They set house on fire and blocked roads on the outskirts of the town of Kericho. The lawmaker's constituency was nearby. Similiar violence occured in other towns.

Too was killed in a "crime of passion," according to Hussein Ali, the National police chief.

Eldoret Deputy Police Chief Gabriel Kuya said the police officer arrested for the shooting realized his girlfriend was having an affair with Too. He chased them down on his motorcycle " drove toward the side of the woman and shot her in the stomach twice. Her partner (Too) pleaded with the officer not to kill her but he turned his pistol on him instead, hitting him four times in the head.''

The opposition say it was an assassination plot.

“How can police call this an ordinary murder before any investigations?� William Ruto, an opposition leader, said. “There is nothing ordinary about having two members of Parliament killed like this.�

Kenya's president listened from the front row at the African Union Summit as chairman Alpha Konare said, ''Kenya is a country that was a hope for the continent. Today, if you look at Kenya you see violence on the streets. We are even talking about ethnic cleansing, We are even talking about genocide. We cannot sit with our hands folded.''

Romney Relates McCain's Campaign Tactics to the Nixon-Era

'McCain "took a sharp detour off the 'Straight Talk Express'" -Mitt Romney, Republican presidential canidate
Several news souces including USA TODAY, The New York Times, and Forbes published and an article released by The Associated Press.

Mitt Romney, Republican presidential canidate, accused John McCain, Republican front-runner, Thursday of using tactics reminisent of the Nixon-era in the days just before the Florida Primary.

Nixon, the former GOP president Romney was refering to, resigned from office after the disgrace of the Watergate scandal.

The Massachusetts governor accused McClain of using underhanded tactics, when McCain claimed Romney favored timetables for withdrawing troops from Iraq, leaving Romney little time to rebuttle before the Florida primary. Romney lost the primary on Tuesday. The win for McCain gave him the lead in the delgate count and momentum for his campaign. After seven contest, McCain is ahead 83-59.

Romney denied the claims and said "I don't think I want to see our party go back to that kind of campaigning." Romney went on to say he thought McCain was a man of character who "took a sharp detour off the 'Straight Talk Express'" - the name of McCain's campaign bus.

McCain's adviser, Steve Schmidt said Romney "is lashing out because he's unable to defend his comments about a timeline, abeit a secret one... John McCain has simply pointed out a fundamental difference between them at the time when John McCain was adopting a strategy for victory."

Media analyses concluded Romney does not have a view on timetables similiar to that of Democratic canidates.

Both presidential canidates will prepare for Super Tuesday, when 21 states hold primaries, by placing millions of dollars into advertisment campaigns and by continuing their tours.

Romney, who would be the first Mormon president, will be campaigning and attending the funeral of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' president, Gordon B. Hinckley, on Saturday in Utah. He plans to campaign in Colorado Friday and will then make stops in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and tentatively Tennessee and Georgia. Romney will most likely bypass New York and New Jersey since Rudy Guiliani, New York's mayor and former Republican presidential canidate, has chosen to endorsed McCain.

McCain is planning on holding rallies in California, where he has the support of Govt. Arnold Schwarzenegger and in multiple winner-takes-all states. He is scheduled to make appearances in Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.