December 2010 Archives

Analysis: Computer Assisted Reporting

The Boston Globe used computer assisted reporting in their investigative series on executive pay in Massachusetts firms.

The story compared two sets of documents: reports on salaries, bonuses, and other pay executives received from companies, and reports on the same information from firms.

The kind of software needed to analyze this information was a program that could compare two sets of data from two different documents by finding the relationship between the two numbers. The reporter needed to be able to enter the information needed from the documents into the software program and then be able to interpret the results. The reporter found that the companies in question made some small and some huge errors in reporting executive pay, often times hugely misrepresenting the salaries.

At least 14 dead in suicide attacks

11 people were killed and 41 people were injured in a suicide car bombing Sunday in central Ramadi, Iraq, according to CNN.

Another attack left at least three people dead, in a suicide bombing targeting Shiites, according to the New York Times.

The attacks seemed to be loosely coordinated together, a tactic of the Islamic State of Iraq, which often targets government forces, Shiites, Christians, and other groups, according to the New York Times.

Madoff's son kills himself

Mark Madoff, one of Bernie Madoff's sons, hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment Saturday, two years to the day after his father was arrested in the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, according to the New York Times.

Madoff's body was discovered by his father-in-law around 7:30 a.m. Madoff's wife was out of town; his 2-year-old son was asleep in a nearby room, according to CNN.

Bernie Madoff was arrested two years ago to the date of his son's death for stealing $50 million from investors, shattering lives around the world, according to the New York Times. There had been speculation that Madoff's sons, including Mark, were susceptable to lawsuits from the victims of the Ponzi scheme.

A lawsuit filed on December 8 named Mark Madoff as one of the defendents, according to CNN.

Two dead in house fire

Two people died in a fire early Sunday after a fire truck dispatched to the house got stuck in snow, according to the Star Tribune.

Family members identified one of the bodies as Mary Frances Rowe, 78, the longtime homeowner. The other body has no been identified, according to the Pioneer Press.

The fire call came in at 1:31 a.m., according to the Star Tribune. Despite the first fire engine getting stuck in snow a block away from the 2 1/2-story house, a second fire engine arrived seven minutes later. Four others were hospitalized with injuries from the fire.

Metrodome roof buckles under snow, sends Vikes to Detroit

The Metrodome roof collapsed early Sunday morning, sending the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants to play their game in Detroit Monday night, according to the Star Tribune.

The stadium's roof buckled under the pressure of the accumulating snow, after the Twin Cities were hit with a winter storm. The roof tore in three places and collapsed at around 5 a.m., according to the Star Tribune.

The NFL announced Sunday morning that the Dome would not be ready for a game Monday or Tuesday, thus moving the previously scheduled Vikings-Giants game to Detroit to be played Monday night, according to the Pioneer Press.

Despite House rebellion, Obama is confident on tax deal

Despite critical outcries from Democratic members in the U.S. House of Representatives, President Barack Obama is confident Congress will pass the tax deal he compromised on with Republicans, according to CNN.

Debate on the enormous tax cut package proposed by the president began in the Senate Thursday night. The bill would extend the Bush-era tax cuts to all income levels, a measure secured by Republicans who opposed the president's wish to end the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while extending unemployment benefits, according to the New York Times.

Democrats in the House are expressing fierce opposition to the bill, especially over the estate tax provision, which sets an exemption of $5 million per person with a top rate of 35 percent, according to the New York Times.

Democratic members of the House suggest that they will work to make more palatable revisions to the bill after it passes in the Senate.

Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman, said he supported the Fed's decision to put $600 billion into the banking system to assist recovery in an economy he said is riddled in rising inequality, according to the New York Times.

Bernanke gave a rare interview to 60 Minutes, which aired Sunday, giving opinions on fiscal policy, a topic he usually avoids, according to the New York Times.

Along with supporting the jolt in the banking system that was decided on last month, Bernanke said the tax code needs to be reformed, calling it "inefficient," according to the New York Times.

Bernanke also said it could be up to five years before the unemployment rate is "normal" again, reacting to a disappointing jobs report released by the government last week, according to CNN.

British aide arrested for espionage

A Russian aide to Mike Hancock, a British lawmaker in Parliament, was detained by security services and might be deported on suspision of espionage, Hancock announced Sunday, according to CNN.

The aide, Katia Zatuliveter, 25, who has worked for Hancock for almost three years, was taken to a detention center last week. Hancock said she is preparing to fight against her deportation order, according to the New York Times.

Hancock denied that Zatuliveter is a spy and a threat to the United Kingdom, according to the New York Times.

Hancock has been a member of Parliament since 1997, according to CNN.

Obama open to compromise in tax grid lock

After the U.S. Senate shot down two attempts by Democrats to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to the middle class, President Obama and G.O.P. leaders signified that a compromise may be on the horizon, according to the New York Times and Wallstreet Journal.

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes it needed to bring a bill to the floor that would extend tax cuts to individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000, with some Senate Democrats joining all of the Senate Republicans voting against the bill this weekend, according to the Wallstreet Journal.

The Senate also prevented debate on a bill that would raise the threshold of the middle class tax cuts to those earning less than $1 million and make that limit permanent.

President Obama told Democratic leaders that he is open to extending the tax cuts to all individuals with some concessions from Republicans, including extending unemployment benefits, according to the Wallstreet Journal.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, said in an interview on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he predicted the Bush-era tax cuts would be extended temporarily to all citizens, including those making over $250,000, despite the wishes of Obama and most Senate Democrats, and extending unemployment benefits would be part of this compromise, according to the New York Times.

Gophers' new football coach plucked from Illinois

Jerry Kill, coach at Northern Illinois University, will be the next head coach for the University of Minnesota Gopher football team and is expected to be introduced at a press conference at TCF Bank Stadium Monday, according to the Star Tribune.

Kill, 49, has been a Football Bowl Subdivision coach for three seasons, according to the Pioneer Press. He led the Northern Illinois Huskies to a 10-3 season, claiming a No. 25 ranking before a 26-21 loss against Miami on Friday.

Kill also led the Huskies to a 34-23 victory over the Gophers earlier this season, according to the Star Tribune.

The Gophers' last head coach, Tim Brewster, was fired mid-season after leading the Gophers to six consecutive losses, leaving the team at 1-6. The Gophers ended their season without Brewster at 3-9.

Three dead after patrol car chase in north Minneapolis

A 29-year-old woman and her two sons were killed Sunday when a man driving a stolen vehicle slammed into their car after he was chased by a State Trooper, according to the Star Tribune.

Amanda Jean Thomas, 29, and her two songs, one 12-year-old and one three month-old, were hit by a car that was fleeing police and ran a red light in north Minneapolis. Another car was hit in the accident, according to the Pioneer Press.

The suspect, Rufus Onel Victor, 29, was arrested after he tried to run away from the scene of the crash. Victor was in a stolen car. Police noticed the suspect driving the car erratically on Interstate 94 minutes before the crash, according to the Star Tribune.

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