Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

When the Swiss Voted to Ban New Minarets, This Man Built One (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

hc-go382_mirane_bv_20100104162501[Editor's note: When is a minaret a minaret? This man has a sense of humor and humanity.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By DEBORAH BALL and ANITA GREIL

Mr. Morand Put It on His Roof, Shined Spotlights on It and Thumbed His Nose

BUSSIGNY, Switzerland — In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets, the towerlike structures that adorn mosques. A week or so later, in an apparent act of defiance, a new minaret unexpectedly sprang up here.

But the new minaret is not attached to a mosque; this small town near Geneva doesn’t even have one. And it’s not the work of a local Muslim outraged by Switzerland’s controversial vote to ban the structures, which often are used to launch the call to prayer.

Instead, Bussigny’s minaret is attached to the warehouse of a shoe store called Pomp It Up, which is part of a Swiss chain. It was erected by the chain’s owner, Guillaume Morand, who fashioned it out of plastic and wood and attached it to a chimney. The new minaret, nearly 20 feet high and illuminated at night, is clearly visible from the main highway connecting Lausanne and Geneva.

“The referendum was a scandal,” Mr. Morand said recently at his cavernous warehouse, near pallets piled high with shoe boxes as pop music played on an old stereo system. “I was ashamed to be Swiss. I don’t have the power to do much, but I wanted to give a message of peace to Muslims.”

Mr. Morand’s provocation has attracted national interest as Switzerland grapples with the fallout of the referendum. On Nov. 29, 58% of Swiss voters approved the ban on new minarets, thus sparking a fresh debate around the world over the integration of Muslims in Western society. While civic and religious leaders in many Muslim countries denounced the ban, the feared backlash against Swiss interests around the world hasn’t materialized.

In Switzerland, the debate over the referendum is still hot. On Dec. 13, hundreds of Swiss Muslims protested the vote in Bern, the capital. According to Swiss legal experts, it is next to impossible to contest the outcome of a referendum. Indeed, on Dec. 18, a Swiss federal court refused to hear a plea by two Swiss citizens to nullify the vote.

But one Swiss Muslim leader has already requested that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, consider whether the ban violates international law on freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Continue to read at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Chinese Evade U.S. Sanctions on Iran (Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

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[Editor's note: This world map from the Wall Street Journal uses map symbols that reinforce the thematic color coding of countries. The symbols all feature a hand (common gesture for "stop"), and shape and color differences further differentiate the symbols. This graphic overloading of visual variables (using more than just shape, or just color, or just size) ensures a larger number of readers will comprehend the map's visual message. In this case, color between the symbols and the choropleth map colors links the symbols with the countries. All countries are directly labeled with their name and explanation. I like this map for a second reason: the Wall Street Journal is using a new CMS (content management system) that the Washington Post is also working to adopt and it shows how graphics can be flowed inside the article text instead of getting lost in a tab, link, or thumbnail. Many eye tracking studies show that readers spend more time on graphics than on article text but online, graphics are often hard to find (if they are found at all). This new CMS puts graphics back in the natural flow of reading.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
By PETER FRITSCH

Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.

A unit of state-owned China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp., for example, has made nearly 300 illegal shipments to U.S. firms since a ban was imposed on CPMIEC and its affiliates in mid-2006, according to an analysis of shipping records by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nonprofit proliferation watchdog.

A Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.

The CPMIEC shipments, worth millions of dollars, include everything from anchors and drilling equipment to automobile parts and toys. In many cases, CPMIEC acted as a shipping intermediary — activity also banned under a 2006 presidential order.

The ability of CPMIEC and other foreign companies to continue doing business in the U.S. despite the sanctions comes as the Obama administration considers fresh economic sanctions against Iran. The illegal shipments suggest that U.S. sanctions have become so numerous and complex that they have become difficult to enforce.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Pressure on the Presses (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

[Editor's note: Fascinating look at newpaper trends across the U.S. in 4 yearly time slices. Circles are sized latest circulation figures, colors change per year according to how well (or poorly) the newspaper is doing. Table below the map provides additional supplementary information like owner and year by year summary.]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
Produced by Megan Ballinger, Mei Lan Ho-Walker, and Susan McGregor.

A precipitous drop in ad spending has cut profits at U.S. newspapers sharply. Some dailies are in bankruptcy, some are printing fewer papers and some have closed altogether. Thousands of reporters, editors and others have left the industry. Track events and readership at the top 50 newspapers by circulation, at left, and in the top 100 in the table below.

Interact with original at the Wall Street Journal . . .

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Screenshots above and below… click images to go to real copy.

wsj_print_reductions_table

New Programs Put Crime Stats on the Map (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

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[Editor's note: Instead of screen scrapping police logs printed in community papers, web mappers are partnering directly with city police departments to get timely, accurate reports up online in map form. Thanks Yifang!]

Republished from the Wall Street Journal.
June 3, 2009. By BOBBY WHITE

When a burglar broke into a home on the outskirts of Riverdale Park, Md., last month, some locals quickly received an email alert about the incident. Once police confirmed the crime on the scene, they followed
up with a more thorough email disclosing the time, location and type of crime.

The alert is part of a crime-information service that the Riverdale Park police department provides its residents about illegal activity in their neighborhoods. “It helps us keep the public informed,” says Teresa Chambers, police chief of Riverdale Park, a suburb of Washington, D.C. “It’s also a way for us to solicit help [from residents] in solving some of these crimes.”

Across the country, Americans can increasingly track crime trends block by block as more police departments contract with Internet-based crime-mapping services. Since 2007, more than 800 police departments have begun working with Web sites like CrimeMapping.com, CrimeReports.com and EveryBlock.com. The services take live feeds from police record-keeping systems and automatically post the data on their sites.

Police say they use the sites to help change citizens’ behavior toward crime and encourage dialogue with communities so that more people might offer tips or leads. Some of the sites have crime-report blogs that examine activity in different locales. They also allow residents to offer tips and report crimes under way.

Police have traditionally depended on media reports and community meetings to inform the public about neighborhood crime. Many departments have been reluctant to share too much information with the public out of concern it could be used as a political tool, says Thomas Casady, police chief of Lincoln, Neb. But the rise of Web services that publish records online has forced some of the departments to reconsider. Some of these sites operate independently of the police department, putting pressure on police to participate, Mr. Casady says.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

Big Daily’s ‘Hyperlocal’ Flop (Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

LoudounExtra.com Fails to Give Lift To Washington Post

By RUSSELL ADAMS June 4, 2008; Page B1

For believers in the power of rigorous local coverage to help save newspapers, the Washington Post’s launch of LoudounExtra.com last July was a potentially industry-defining event. It paired a journalistic powerhouse with a dream team of Internet geeks to build a virtual town square for one of Virginia’s and the nation’s most-affluent and fastest-growing counties.

The Washington Post saw LoudounExtra.com as a chance to re-engage local readers. Almost a year later, however, the Web site is still searching for an audience. Its chief architect has left for another venture in Las Vegas, and his team went with him. And while Post executives say they remain committed to providing so-called hyperlocal news coverage, they are re-evaluating their approach.

“It’s too early for us to put any kind of stamp on it as a success or failure,” said Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, a unit of Washington Post Co. “We’re just going to keep experimenting,” he added.

Like hundreds of other hyperlocal sites launched in the past few years, LoudounExtra.com reflects a basic premise: Metro newspapers probably can’t compete with the Internet or cable TV in covering breaking national and international news, but they can dominate what happens in their backyards.

LoudounExtra.com offers detailed databases including every church, restaurant and school in Loudoun County, about 25 miles west of Washington, D.C. It embraces the idea that a high-school prom is as newsworthy as a debate over where to build a hospital, and that Little League deserves major-league attention. And it promises to let visitors to the site shape the news through blogs and photo and video submissions.

But LoudounExtra.com remains little more than a skeleton of the site its architects pledged to build. One reason: the team of outsiders didn’t do enough to familiarize itself with Loudoun County or engage its 270,000 residents.

The Washington Post, perhaps best known for exposing the Watergate scandal, is among the few American newspapers that boast a local, national and international audience. About 85% of the more than nine million monthly visitors to Washingtonpost.com live outside the Washington area. Many of them come to the site trolling for political and overseas news.

But the Post’s local readership has been its great strength: Though its weekday print circulation has plummeted by about 19% since 2000 to an average of about 635,087, it continues to reach a higher percentage of local readers online than many other big dailies. That encouraged the newspaper, which has won nearly 50 Pulitzer Prizes, to look to coverage of local American Legion meetings and T-ball games as a potential source of growth.
(more…)

Primary Jam — Wall Street Journal Graphic

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

With Iowa voting later this week, the 2008 presidential primary election season will be open and in full swing (really, not just taunting like the last 102 weeks). Conventional wisdom says the first states can make or break a candidate’s chances of actually landing their party’s nomination to the White House’s office.

This Wall Street Journal graphic diagrams how certain caucuses have moved forward (or fallen behind) on the calendar as states jockey to have the most impact on the nominating process. States are represented by circles which are graduated in size on the timelines to represent that state’s electoral votes and by an alphabetical listing (by two digit postal code) at top. Both the graduated circles and the postal code buttons are interactive revealing more information on mouseOver. Restrained animation is provided when navigating the graphic as some circles change color or size up to full volume. A link back to the article that originally spawned the graphic is provided (well, section front).

Nitpicks: the mouseOver effects on the graduated circles should have been above or below the circle, not left or right. This would allow the next few caucuses to be viewed in sequence. The present method obscures this information. Fonts size is small on my screen, almost to the point of illegibility. I would have liked to see the state names spelled out fully in the mouseOver boxes. The postal code abbreviations used in the keyboard buttons above the graphic (the index) are effective, but the full names should be provided here too. The representation of Super Tuesday is effective but the large circle shape is slightly deflated in 2000.

Primary Jam — Wall Street Journal Graphic