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November 26, 2007

Bullet hits girl’s pillow

Authorities in Stearns County were searching Monday for whoever fired the shot that pierced a 16-year-old girl’s bedroom wall and hit her pillow.
The Associated Press reported on the incident, which hit “close to home? for me (it happened about 5 miles away from where my family lives), using information from The St. Cloud Times.
The shot happened between 11 a.m. and noon Sunday at the home between Clearwater and St Augusta in central Minnesota. No one had permission to hunt in the area near the home.
According to the girl’s father, Tony Studer, Johanna Armstrong returned to her room after taking a shower to find her pillow damaged and feathers scattered around her room.
He said they thought it was the family cat, but then they found the black-powder bullet in the bed covers and found the bullet hole in the house.
The St. Cloud Times reported that the girl had been sleeping in the bed less than an hour before the bullet was fired.
Stearns County Sgt. Ken Friday said the shot came from a .50-caliber muzzleloader, which he said is powerful enough to kill both deer and people.
The muzzleloader deer hunting season started over the weekend in Minnesota.

The St. Cloud Times:
http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071126/NEWS01/111260038

The Associated Press:
http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1574348.html

November 18, 2007

"Idols" victorious at American Music Awards

The 35th year of the American Music Awards resembled an episode of “American Idol,? with show veterans Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood winning on Sunday.
The wins of the “Idol? stars over superstars like Justin Timberlake and Beyonce may possibly have come with some help from new voting rules, according to Reuters. The ceremony, the kickoff to Hollywood’s award season, featured public online voting for the first time.
Daughtry’s rock band won awards for favorite breakthrough artist, favorite pop-rock album for “Daughtry,? and favorite adult contemporary artist – winning all three of their nominations and beating out artists like Timberlake and Linkin Park.
Underwood won all three of the categories she was nominated for as well – favorite female country artist, favorite country album for “Some Hearts,? and the T-Mobile text-in award.
Daughtry was a finalist on the fifth season in 2006, while Underwood took the top honor during the fourth season of “Idol.?
Underwood followed her win with the best new artist award at the Grammy Awards this year.
Timberlake was a double winner, receiving male pop-rock artist honors and the soul/R&B album award for his “FutureSex/LoveSounds.?
The Associated Press has a short article about Beyonce’s surprise performance with country band Sugarland, in which they played her hit “Irreplaceable.? Later on in the show, Beyonce accepted the international artist award, which has been given to only a handful of artists, including Michael Jackson, Rod Steward, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.
The lengthy list of performers included Rihanna, Chris Brown, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, Lenny Kravitz, Duran Duran, Celine Dion, Queen Latifah, Avril Lavigne, Rascal Flatts and the Jonas Brothers.
Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie opened the show with songs from her solo debut album.
The awards show, which honors many of the genres in American music today, was hosted for the fourth time by Jimmy Kimmel. In the three-hour ceremony, broadcast live on ABC, joked about the lack of jokes about current events due to the writer’s strike in Hollywood.
“It may not look like it, but I’m striking right now in my heart,? he said.
Not affected by the strike: the show’s basic strike, which The Associated Press said was written before the strike began last week.
The producers of the awards show changed the voting procedures this year.
Winners were decided by a poll of 20,000 music buyers in the past, while about 1.2 million people voted online this year at a Web site made by ABC, a spokesperson told Reuters.
Nominees were still selected in the traditional way, based on national sales and radio play.
The ceremony also changed venues. Traditionally held at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles, this year’s winners were announced at the brand new Nokia Theatre nearby.
While the night’s show may have resembled an episode of “Idol,? it doesn’t have nearly as many viewers as the ratings powerhouse: last year’s ceremony hit a record low of 10.8 million viewer, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That was half the number who tuned in for the “more prestigious? Grammy Awards this past February.

The Associated Press:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i_b8tyBVe7EPnTWnQkI81o_qndMAD8T0GIO00
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/arts/AP-American-Music-Awards.html
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/pop/1403ap_american_music_awards_beyonce.html

Reuters:
http://www.reuters.com/article/mediaNews/idUSN1841157620071119

Hundreds off students protest Iraq war

About 500 students skipped school Friday to protest the war in Iraq at a rally in downtown Minneapolis.
The students from schools all around the Twin Cities held signs and sang songs of protest in the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center.
The Pioneer Press, which called the event “peaceful,? said that on-site officers who watched from the sidelines estimated a group of about 200 protesters. Organizers put the number at 1,000.
Kesh Gabyalla, a student at Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, said he didn’t know how much of an impact the protesters had.
“But if we don’t go out and express our First Amendment rights,? he told the Pioneer Press, “then we will lose our power and our country will go down the tubes. We have to stand up and say ‘No.’?
The protest attracted more than just high school students, with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak making an appearance.
“I was up in my office when I saw people out peacefully protesting the war and I came down and said thank you. Because many of us were out protesting this before this war started. More people should,? Rybak told Minnesota Public Radio.
After the rally, the students marched through downtown streets on their way to Augsburg College for a teach-in on the war.
The protest was sponsored by Youth Against War and Racism, a student-led initiative formed about three years ago after three Kennedy High School students fought against having military recruiters in their Bloomington school.
Now, the group has activists at about 40 schools in the Twin Cities, according to Ty Moore, an organizer with Socialist Alternative, along with chapters in Boston, Seattle, and Tacoma and Olympia, Wash.
MPR said Socialist Alternative, an international activist group with a local chapter, also sponsored the protest.

MPR:
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/11/16/studentprotest/

Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_7485882

November 16, 2007

Metro Transit adds hybrid buses

Seventeen new hybrid Metro Transit buses, painted shades of bright green, were introduced to the metro area Thursday in a step in the transit agency’s efforts to “go greener.?
The hybrids, which cost $557,000 each, use bio-diesel fuel and are cleaner and quieter. The buses already in Metro Transit’s fleet have averaged 4.71 miles to the gallon, which is a one-mile-per-gallon difference from the 3.86 for a standard bus. This may not seem like a big difference, but in percentage terms, the Star Tribune said it’s “significant.?
Metro Transit anticipates a 22 percent or greater improvement in fuel economy, which translates to 1,965 gallons of fuel per bus saved annually, on top of the decreased production of pollutants. The Pioneer Press said the hybrids will produce about 90 percent fewer emissions than the buses they replace.
The federal government pays 80 percent of the cost of a new bus, with local sources contributing the rest. But with lower operating costs, Metro Transit hopes to recoup the local portion of the extra cost per bus in a little over six years. This is based on the agency’s assumption that once all 172 hybrids in the total fleet of more than 800 buses are running in five years, Metro Transit expects to save 338,000 gallons of fuel a year – combine that with current fuel price of $3.25 a gallon, and the investment will pay off in six years.
To persuade more people to give the buses a try, the agency announced that rides on the green hybrids (you can’t miss them – they’re the most colorful objects on Nicollet) will be free on Monday on routes 17 and 18. Route 17 serves Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Uptown, Nicollet Mall and Northeast Minneapolis, while Route 18 serves Bloomington, Richfield, South Minneapolis and Nicollet Mall.
Go to the Start Tribune article for more comprehensive coverage; The Pioneer Press only offers basic information.

The Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1554611.html

The Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_7477149

Bangladesh cyclone reportedly kills 1,100

A ferocious cyclone ripped across the low-laying water’s edge of southern Bangladesh late Thursday, leaving at least hundreds dead, downed trees, ruined cellphone towers and swept away mud and thatch homes.
The New York Times had reports on the “deadliest such storm in more than a decade? from New Delhi and Dhaka, Bangladesh on their Web site, while The Associated Press reported from the capital, Dhaka, as well.
As of late Thursday, the death toll of Cyclone Sidr, which blasted Bangladesh with 150 mph winds, stood at 667, according to the control room of the Disaster Management Ministry. This toll is expected to rise, with The Associated Press estimating from compiled reports from its correspondents a toll of 1,100, along with some 650,000 people fleeing their homes. Government officials have little up-to-date information, but Dalil Uddin of the Ministry of Disaster Management said the official toll would go “much higher.?
The impact in Bangladesh so far “seemed likely to be relatively low,? according to the New York Times, compared with past tropical storms like the one in 1991 that claimed about 140,000 lives. The event spurred Bangladeshi relief agencies to develop early warning systems and storm shelters to prevent disasters, and the BBC said casualties from cyclones “have been significantly reduced as a result,? according to officials.
Preliminary reports from the delta regions of the Bay of Bengal suggest that high-rising rivers washed away paddy fields and vegetable fields, wrecking the year’s earnings for the peasants who live off those lands.
Even Dhaka, the crowded capital of the “poor, desperately crowded nation of 150 million people,? though about 150 miles from the Bay of Bengal and not directly in the path of the storm, was affected. The entire country was darkened for several hours overnight after electricity towers were downed, and much of Dhaka remained without power for most of the day Friday, which also restricted the water supply.
The New York Times: “Relief and rehabilitation efforts stand to be a crucial test for the army-backed caretaker government currently in charge of Bangladesh.?
The New York Times said that the United Nations Development Program wants world leaders to address human-induced climate change. Thursday’s cyclone was just the latest case in their argue of an increased frequency of droughts, floods and storms that hit the world’s poorest the hardest in places like Bangladesh.
The BBC also has a link on this article’s page to an interesting video showing efforts to distribute food aid amid the destruction of the cyclone.
The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/17/world/asia/17bangladesh.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7097678.stm
The Associated Press:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12784349/

November 14, 2007

Tranplant patients contract H.I.V.

Four transplant recipients in Chicago have contracted H.I.V. from an organ donor in the first known cases in more than a decade in which the virus was spread by organ transplants.
The recipients also were infected with hepatitis C, which health officials said was the first reported instance in which the two viruses were spread at the same time by a transplant.
Though cases like this are exceptionally rare, they call attention to a known flaw in the system for checking organ donors for infection: the most commonly used tests may not detect viral diseases if they are performed early in the course of the infection.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the incidents may lead to widespread changes in testing methods of transplants.
The cases were first reported on Tuesday by The Chicago Tribune. Two patients were infected at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and one each at Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
While officials would not say which organs were transplanted, no other tissues were taken from the donor.
The University of Chicago said that the transplants took place in January, and that the adult donor died in an Illinois hospital “three days after traumatic injury.?
The other hospitals confirmed that each had an infected patient but declined to discuss what happened.
When one of the recipients, who was being evaluated for a retransplant, tested positive for H.I.V. and hepatitis C, blood preserved from the donor was found to be infected after it was given a highly sensitive test for viruses. The Chicago Tribune said that the patients didn’t learn until the last two weeks that they were infected with H.I.V. and hepatitis C.
According to Dr. J. Michael Millis, the chief of transplantation at the University of Chicago, the diseases were treatable.
The New York Times reported that, according to the University of Chicago, the organ donor was identified as “high risk,? based on a risk factor revealed by a “close friend who provided a health and social history.?
The Chicago Tribune said that officials with the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donation, the Elmhurst agency that tested and approved the organs for donation said a screening questionnaire determined that the organ donor had engaged in high-risk behavior.
Infections can be missed by the typical tests if patients have contracted H.I.V. up to 22 days before being tested, with the window even longer for hepatitis.
Federal guidelines recommend against using transplant organs from high-risk people unless the recipients “are so likely to die for want of a transplant that H.I.V. seems a lesser threat? (The New York Times).
About 9 percent of organ donors qualify as high-risk because of behaviors like drug use with needle-sharing or prostitution.
The New York Times said, “It has always been known that this kind of transmission was theoretically possible, but it was considered highly unlikely. Considering that since 1994 nearly 300,000 transplants from cadavers have occurred without any reported cases of H.I.V. transmission, infections are very rare.

The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/health/healthspecial/14hiv.html?ref=us

The Chicago Tribune:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/printedition/tuesday/chi-organ13nov13,0,7359947.story

November 11, 2007

On diversity

In the Arts section of the New York Times, an article about the CW network’s new comedy series “Aliens in America? discusses the significance of the main character’s cultural and religious identity as a Pakastani Muslim teenager transplanted to Wisconsin. The headline reads “Muslims on TV, No Terror in Sight? in a reference to the stereotype of Muslim-as-terrorist that exists in America. Because the article discusses a show that itself does not deal in stereotypical roles, the article manages to move beyond stereotypes – it even calls out the one major stereotype (Muslims as terrorists) in the headline. It discusses the effects of current events, which has lead to depictions of terroristic villains who praise Allah, mentioning the current television portrayals of Muslims (who “are shrouded in a web of terrorist plots and sinister motives?), the response the show has received (it’s “winning praise from advocacy groups and some critics for more rounded, lighthearted portrayals?),
The writer quotes a media critic, who says the show effectively uses comedy to “debunk myths about Muslims,? as well as a spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council who worked as a consultant for the series who reviewed scripts for accuracy and sensitivity. Professors of mass communication were quoted in the article about the implications of stereotypical roles on television (Professor Hussain: “If you live somewhere where you may not know a Muslim, and the only images you get are on television, that’s problematic?). The creators of the show were also quoted about how they developed the idea for the show.
The article draws on actual events from episodes to substantiate certain points, especially how the show deals with heavy political issues and stereotypes with humor.
While Muslim voices and characters are often almost non-existent in mainstream American media (I wonder how many Muslims there are on the staff at the Times?), a show like this allows a major paper to discuss what television programing says about our views of “diverse? groups.
That’s a really good thing - not only for the people who watch the show but those who read the article and think about the stereotypes of the racial or ethnic “other? that play out on the small screen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/arts/television/11redd.html

Planetary system discovered

The lead of the New York Times’ article on the discovery of a planetary system reads, “They say there is no place like home, but it is beginning to look as if there is a place sort of like home 41 light-years from here in the constellation Cancer.?
Astronomers said Tuesday that there were at least five planets circling a star there, where only four had been known before. This makes it the most extensive planetary system previously found outside our own, and it also makes it the one that most resembles our solar system, with a giant planet orbiting far out from the star and four smaller ones circling closer.
While the planet is located in the so-called habitable zone where it is warm enough for liquid water, with 45 times the mass of Earth, the planet would more closely resemble Neptune or Saturn rather than Earth. These planets are known to have uninhabitable environments.
The team of astronomers, which reported its results in a telephone news conference from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said the discovery created hope that with time and more data, astronomers could find places out there that look like home. They also said it marked the start of a transition between studying planets and studying planetary systems.

New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/06/science/space/07planetweb.html

Riot in Italy after soccer fan killed

Hundreds of soccer fans rioted in Rome after a police officer there accidentally shot and killed a fan Sunday while trying to stop a fight between supporters of rival teams, authorities said.
The enraged fans attacked a police station near the Rome’s Olympic Stadium, threw stones at passing police cars, and smashed windows at the nearby Italian Olympic Committee Headquarters. The BBC said security guards in the Olympic headquarters had to barricade themselves in as protection from the rioting.
Mobs also set a bus on fire and several people, including police, were injured. In central Milan, fans hurled rocks at a police and beat up two journalists, according to the BBC.
Rome’s police headquarters said the barracks was under attack but did not give further information. It said some arrests were made but declined to give a number.
Gabriele Sandri, a 26-year-old DJ from Rome and a fan of the city’s Lazio soccer team, was on his way to the northern city of Milan for Lazio’s game against rival Inter Milan. A bullet hit him in the neck while in a car at a rest area along the A1 Autostrada highway near the town of Arezzo, about 125 miles north of Rome.
In the Tuscan town of Arezzo, police chief Vincenzo Giacobbe called the fatal shooting of the fan “a tragic error? that occurred when a police officer intervened in a scuffle between two groups of people.
According to a statement read by Arezzo police, officers in two patrol cars who were stopped on the opposite side of the highway turned on their sirens after they heard screaming and yelling and realized the occupants of three cars in the rest area were fighting.
When the arguing continued, the police fired warning shots into the air. The three cars returned to the highway, police said, and they saw that one of the occupants of the vehicles “took a shot.?
BBC said that police suggest he may have been killed by one of their warning shots, but the Associated Press didn’t make note of that comment.
The car in which Sandri was an occupant drove a few miles to the next exit to seek medical help. An ambulance crew was unable to revive him, according to police.
Hundreds of youths smashed a window in the police station, set a police vehicle on fire inside the gate, and dragged metal barricades and trash bins to block off part of the bridge spanning the Tiber near the station.

The Italian soccer federation postponed the Inter-Lazio game, while security officials in Rome canceled a Sunday match between Roma and Cagliari. Other games on Sunday started 10 minutes late, and players and referees wore black armbands.
According to the BBC, police chiefs, politicians and soccer administrators in Italy will meet on Monday to “seek to limit the damage from the weekend’s incidents.?
Clashes between rival soccer fans at rest stops are common in Italy. After learning of Sunday’s incident, Premier Romano Prodi called fan violence “very worrisome.?
Last season, a policeman was killed during riots following a game between Palermo and Catania in Sicily. Some fans have been barred from traveling to games under anti-violence measures new enacted this season.

Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/11/AR2007111101020_2.html?nav=rss_sports

BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7090017.stm

November 10, 2007

San Francisco Bay oil spill

A preliminary investigation found human error lead to San Francisco Bay’s worst oil spill in nearly two decades when a cargo ship crashed into the Bay Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard said Saturday while rescue teams hurried to save hundreds of seabirds.
Coast Guard officials wouldn’t place blame on any particular individual or provide further information about the mistakes that were made during the midweek crash and spill.
Investigators were concentrating on issues surrounding the ship’s official protocol for safely navigating out of the bay, including possible communication problems between the ships crew, the pilot guiding the vessel and the Vessel Traffic Service, the Coast Guard station that monitors the bay’s shipping traffic.
The Cosco Busan was headed out of the bay when it sideswipped one of the supports of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Wednesday morning, creating a gash nearly 100 feet long on the side of the 926-foot vessel. After the crash, two ruptured fuel tanks leaked about 58,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the bay.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard increased the number of ships to 20 from 11 the previous day to work on skimming the oil from the bay, said Petty Officer Sherri Eng. Nearly 20,000 gallons of the liquid had been cleaned up by Saturday morning, according to figures released by the Coast Guard.
The cleanup job is expected to last weeks or possibly months, according to the Associated Press, and concentrated globules could possibly remain in the water for months and cause problems for seabirds.
At least 60 birds were found dead while 200 live birds were recovered and sent to a rehabilitation center in Solano County.
State wildlife officials said they have received hundreds of reports of oiled birds found in Bay area beaches, with two dozen of the beaches closed after tides carried the oil under the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Pacific Ocean.
According to the Star Tribune, researchers have already seen two dozen oiled murres, the penguin-like birds vulnerable to floating oil about 30 miles west of Golden Gate at the Farallon Islands, an ecologically important home for hundreds of thousands of seabirds, seals and sea lions.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency Friday after meeting with state, federal and local officials overseeing the cleanup. The proclamation makes additional state personnel, funding and equipment available.

The Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/484/story/1542428.html

The Associated Press:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Bay-Spill.html

November 9, 2007

MnDOT emergency management boss fired

The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s emergency management boss was fired Friday after coming under scrutiny for her relationship with a high-ranking federal highway official in Washington, D.C.
Sonia Morphew Pitt, MnDOT’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management director, was accused in a department statement of “serious employee misconduct pertaining to out of state travel, misuse of state resources and conduct unbecoming to Mn/DOT.?
Pitt also came under scrutiny at the time of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse Aug. 1 in Minneapolis. At the time, she was on the East Coast attending what expense reports said was training and failed to return to Minnesota until 10 days after the incident.
The Star Tribune said that the Federal Highway Administration’s program manager for transportation security, Daniel M. Ferezan, has been questioned by a private investigator hired by MnDOT, according to Ian Grossman, the top spokesman for the U.S. Department for Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The investigator looked into Pitt’s “whereabouts and her activities with Ferezan in the frenetic aftermath of the Aug. 1 collapse,? Grossman said.
The Tribune also quoted a “source with direct knowledge of the investigation? that said MnDOT was investigating whether Pitt traveled under false pretenses.
The same source also said investigators were looking at whether Ferezan enabled her to make trips that weren’t appropriate for her job.
Pitt, 43, and Ferezan, 61, did not return calls to the newspaper Thursday seeking comments.
The Star Tribune, whose coverage of the situation was more comprehensive than the Pioneer Press’, spoke with James Nobles, the state legislative auditor. He said Thursday that his office might pursue criminal charges against Pitt if their investigation finds that she made false claims for state money in her government position.
Nobles also said he will demand that Pitt repay the state if his investigators find she obtained or spent money illicitly. The report could be complete in two to three weeks, he said.
The Pioneer Press pointed out that a MnDOT investigation found that Pitt used her state-provided cell phone to make over 2,000 minutes of personal calls between February and June of this year and had the state pay for vacation travel, including trips to Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.
According to a separate audit report, the state first began looking into Pitt’s activities in July 2007, the Pioneer Press reported.

The Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/10204/story/1538793.html

Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_7417908?nclick_check=1

November 7, 2007

15-year-old St. Paul girl safe after alleged abduction, Amber Alert

A 18-year-old man was jailed on a possible kidnapping charge after allegedly abducting an ex-girlfriend in St. Paul Monday, setting off an Amber Alert, authorities said.
The ex-girlfriend was found unharmed shortly after midnight at a residence on the city’s West Side, close to where the kidnapping occured.
According to police spokesman Tom Walsh, detectives were able to track down the suspect and the ex-girlfriend, Jacqeline Mendoza, 15, of St. Paul, after the suspect asked the girl to call the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in what authorities believe was an attempt to throw officials off after the suspect learned about the Amber Alert.
The girl, a runaway since Oct. 28, was returning to her mother when she was taken. She was turned over Tuesday to child-protection authorities.
According to the Star Tribune, police announced late Tuesday afternoon that they had arrested a 38-year-old St. Paul woman who allegedly assisted the abduction. But the Pioneer Press reports the woman as 28-year-old Elizabeth Garcia.
The Press said she was with the suspect, David Guzman, when he allegedly grabbed Mendoza off a street, and later helped police located the couple, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday.
After the Amber Alert was issued on Monday, investigators located Garcia through cell phone records. After being arrested and brought to the St. Paul police department, she provided information about where Guzman and Mendoza might be.
Police said she was released pending further investigation.

Police went to Guzman’s apartment in the 700 block of Stryker Avenue, where they found Guzmas and Jacqueline, about midnight.
Officers then arrested Guzman, who is being held in the jail and is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/10242/story/1533427.html

Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_7395437?nclick_check=1

November 4, 2007

Controversy over Hamline students blackface costumes

Six Hamline University students were suspended from their football team after the put on blackface and body paint to dress up as African tribesman for an off-campus Halloween party.
The players were suspended last week in an incident that has created a discussion about racial sensitivity at the St. Paul liberal arts college. A campus forum held Friday to discuss the issue had 100 people in attendance, according to the Star Tribune.
The university is investigating the incident to figure out whether the students violated policy, Hamline spokesman JacQui Getty said Sunday. Along with the players, two cheerleaders who assisted them with their costumes and supposedly posted photos of them on Facebook with a caption about “spooks? are also under investigation.
Getty said the situation was brought to the university’s attention by students upset by the posted photos. Some students had also posted them around campus.
The six players will not be allowed to participate in the rest of the football season but have not been suspended from school.
If the university’s investigation finds that a university policy was violated, Getty said, the students would go in front of a judicial board, where they could get a warning or even a suspension from school. She expects the investigation to be completed within the next couple weeks.
The Star Tribune notes that this recent incident comes at a time of heightened racial sensitivity in the Twin Cities. Last week, racist notes were placed under the doors of black students at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, prompting an investigation.
Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/106/story/1528428.html

On numbers

In the Washington Post’s article on a recent poll of Americans that found them to be, according to the lead, “deeply pessimistic and eager for a change in direction,? numbers are key to proving the writer’s points. Poll results are represented as percentages (“24 percent think the nation is on the right track?), fractions (“three-quarters said they want the next president to chart a course that is different than that pursued by Bush?) and ratios (“almost seven in 10 see a recession as likely over the next year?). The varied usage of these three ways of expressing essentially the same statistic seem to be an attempt on the writer’s part to create a more varied story with less “drag.? The numbers, which take up much of the content of the story, don’t become overwhelming. The fact that numbers with relevant relationships are clustered together, making for good flow and easier digestion of the stats. There is not apparent sign of “number crunching? by the writer – the numbers from the poll offer a pretty straight-forward way of dealing with them. All the numbers came from the same source, that being a Washington Times-ABC News poll, with this source acknowledged straight-away in the lead. Further poll details are relegated to the last paragraph of the story, where the sampling amount and margin of sampling error are given. It seems to me that such important information should be given higher priority and placed higher in the story. On the Web article, you have to click to and read through the third page to find it. Shouldn’t we be told sooner how many people’s opinions the poll represents and the margin of error?

Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/03/AR2007110301306.html?sid=ST2007110400561

Writers Guild plans to strike Monday

Movie and television writers are poised to picket on Monday unless an unlikely agreement is made with their studios, the first industrywide strike in Hollywood since 1988.
At a press conference in Los Angeles on Friday, leaders of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East said they would demand their members to stop work after midnight Sunday. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Writers Guild represents about 12,000 TV and film writers.
On Friday, writers spread leaflets outside NBC’s offices in Manhattan at Rockefeller Center, explaining why they are asking for a larger share of the billions of dollars in revenue collected by the studios and networks.
Producers, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, have refused to meet guild writers demand for a sharp increase in what they are paid for the use of movies and TV programs on DVDs and online. The producers argue, according to the New York Times that the major studios and networks must use new revenue to cover rising costs. The Washington Post says that studios aren’t meeting demands because they think it is too early to “divvy up the still-small? profits that new technologies generate.
The result of the strike is likely to be a gradual halt in the production of all television shows, with the exceptions news and reality programs, along with new movies. The fallout will be noticeable first among entertainment talk shows, many of which say they will air repeats starting Monday.
The Los Angeles Times, which has comprehensive coverage on this issue, not surprising since Los Angles stands to be the hardest hit by a strike, said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa met with guild officials earlier this week in an effort to help mediate the dispute, but “the parties were so polarized that few were optimistic about the probability of an eleventh-hour deal.?
If the strike is a long one – with the New York Times reporting “nothing in the bitter negotiations so far signals otherwise? – the strike “may well realign the industry’s relationship with Hollywood’s creative class.?
The Washington Post reports that the 1988 writer’s strike lasted 22 weeks and cost the industry an estimated $500 million in lost revenue.


The New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/03/business/media/03strike.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

The Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/02/AR2007110201696.html?sub=AR

The Los Angeles Times:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-strike3nov03,0,2443246.story?coll=la-home-center

November 3, 2007

Missing Edina man found

The 23-year-old Edina man who has been missing for more than three weeks was found at an I-94 rest stop in Menomonie, Wis. on Friday
Scott Tridgell, a Lund’s grocery store accountant,
Tridgell’s parents, Gary and Amy Tridgell of Duluth, had made a public plea for assistance in finding their son. They suspected he might be having an amnesia episode related to a serious head injury he suffered in December.
The Pioneer Press said he was found in his black 1996 Toyota Tacoma about 50 miles from where Tridgell’s mysterious journey apparently started.
They quoted Edina police Lt. Dave Nelson: Tridgell “appears to be fine. It sounds like he was a bit lost and confused as to where he was.?
A Twin Cities couple spotted a hail-damaged black pick-up truck in an Interstate 94 rest stop parking lot while traveling through Wisconsin. Recalling reports about a missing Edina man in a similar truck, Larry DeMarr drove up next to the truck, finding a sleeping man wearing glasses.
DeMarr and his girlfriend called 911. A short time later, Menomonie, Wis., police confirmed that he was Tridgell.
Tridggell was last seen at his Edina bank withdrawing money. The Pioneer Press said police had been worried since there was no further activity on his phone, credit card or bank account.
Tridgell was at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, according to his brother, Brian Tridgell. Hospital officials said they could not release any information about Tridgell’s condition.

Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/106/story/1525086.html

Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com//ci_7357603?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

November 1, 2007

North Dakota businessman suspected of robbing Hudson banks

A 53-year-old North Dakota auto sales lot owner robbed a Hudson bank before committing suicide in Stillwater on Wednesday, police said.
Hudson police detectives Shawn Pettee and Jeff Knopps received search warrants Thursday for Alfred Josiah Knodle’s home and business in Fargo and West Fargo.
After they executed the search warrants Thursday, they notified his family of his death.
Stillwater police found identification, including a business card in the suspected bank robber’s car Wednesday, but waited to contact family to ensure they didn’t jeopardize evidence of their investigation.
Knodle was the operator of Alfred’s Autobody and Sales in West Fargo.
Police also said Knodle is the suspect in the robbery of another Hudson bank last week.
The Star Tribune: “Police have said there is a high probability that the two bank robberies in Hudson were committed by the same man. According to the news release, Hudson police compared the surveillance video from both robberies and have concluded that Knodle committed both crimes.?
The reason Knodle chose the Hudson banks, more than 260 miles from his North Dakota home, is still unclear.
Police believe Knodle entered Citizens Bank Oct. 26 at about 9:45 a.m., demanded money from the clerks, and left with an undisclosed amount of cash in a dark Buick sedan.
He returned to Hudson Wednesday about 10 a.m., according to police, but this time robbed Associated Bank on Hudson’s main street.
While he was able to leave Hudson, dispatchers had alerted neighboring areas to watch for a white Ford Mustang, which was then seen by an Oak Park Height Police officer at 10:10 a.m. Knodle shot himself to death about five minutes later.

Pioneer Press:
http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_7342189

Star Tribune:
http://www.startribune.com/10240/story/1522904.html

Thousands fleeing Somalia capital

Almost 90,000 people have fled Somalia’s capital in recent days after the onset of the heaviest fighting to hit the war-torn city in months, the U.N. said Thursday.
The organization said in a statement that the clashes are the worst between Islamic insurgents and Somali and allied Ethiopian troops since April, causing 88,000 people to flee Mogadishu over a three-day period starting Oct. 27.
That number contrasts with a previous rate of 20,000 to 25,000 people leaving each month, it said.
Nairobi-based World Vision Somalia’s operation director Graham Davison told the BBC that the situation in Mogadishu “has intensified? and has “increased to a height that we haven’t seen in previous occasions.?
While more than 3,400 civilians have been wounded since January, more than 100 people injured in the fighting have been admitted to hospitals in just two days, according to Christian Balslev-Olesen, a top humanitarian coordinator for Somalia said in a statement.
The United Nations said about 1.5 million Somalis are in need of food aid and protection because of inadequate rains, continuing internal displacement and a potential cholera epidemic.
BBC News said that even more violence may result after Somalia’s prime minister, Ali Mohammed Ghedi, resigned on Monday
The total number of displaced Somalis is at 800,000, the U.N. said Thursday.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991.

BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7070750.stm

Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/01/AR2007110101091.html?hpid=artslot