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July 25, 2008

China and Tibet: A history of conflict

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The Olympics is just around the corner. Athletes from around the world will test their skills in Beijing. But with all the excitement surrounding the games, China's relationship with Tibet has become a big issue. Protests have sprung up around the world and human rights leaders and journalists have been detained.

The News Illustrated takes a look at the history behind the conflict. You can download it here.

You can find out more at freetibet.org.

POSTED IN: Environment (52), Government (48), History (20), Kwency Norman (13), Politics (29)

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July 24, 2008

Fly much? Compare airfares at your favorite airports

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So the U.S. Department of Transportation released its airport airfare rankings today and crazy enough, Fort Lauderdale International Airport is fourth.

I don't know about you, but I'm a bit surprised. Maybe that's because I tend to fly to Charlotte, NC, where my family lives. According to the charts that you can build yourself on the U.S. Department of Transportation's website, Charlotte has consistently been pricier than the average U.S. domestic airfare. Lucky me.

An airport about two and a half hours away from Charlotte, in Raleigh, NC, is less pricey, though. My new dilemma: which is worse - flying into Charlotte and paying high airfares, or flying into Raleigh and driving two and half hours...

If you fly a lot, or even just a little and are curious, see how your destinations measure up here. Pick three airports and it will chart their airfares and compare it will the U.S. domestic average airfare. Hopefully your destinations are less expensive than mine.

For the full report, click here.

POSTED IN: LIndsay Dubois (35)

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July 22, 2008

Three weeks: Guest blogger Andrew Tran

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I’m a stranger in this place.

It took this print reporter three weeks to learn Flash and create the video gamer package you see here.

Here’s the story: about a month ago, I approached Len to see if the graphics department could throw together a flash page to tie together all the multimedia elements I had gathered (two videos, a slideshow, lists, etc.) for a story I was working on.

He turned me down. The department was bogged down with other higher priority requests, he said.

Damn! Couldn’t they just throw together something small and basic? Maybe use the template used in the Rip Currents flash package, ( ) another project I had gathered multimedia for? No and no.

I was distressed. Instead of a slick, user-friendly experience, people could only access my multimedia through ugly links buried below the middle of the screen, out of a reader’s line of sight like a pair of old sneakers hanging high on a power line.

I had to make it myself. And here’s what it took:

Three weeks:
• Two for learning from a book and a class with Belinda and a week to create from scratch.
•Adobe’s Classroom in a Book and Mindy McAdam’s Flash Journalism to learn basics and concept for visual story-telling
• Guidance and patience from graphics/flash team for great feedback, help iron out kinks, provide crazy coding.
• Support from my editor to help me block off my schedule to focus on this project.
• Seemingly endless tweaking perfecting fonts, adjusting layers, making stuff fit.
• Crash course on design philosophy.
--key is consistency
--take out anything unnecessary or flashy, much like writing
• Troubleshooting
--It took almost as much time to troubleshoot it as it did to design.

My editor and I are thinking long-term use with this knowledge.
We’re going to see how we can create Flash templates to tie together the deluge of info that pours in during big breaking news stories. I can't wait to get started. Give us three weeks.

Andrew Ba Tran

Staff Writer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

POSTED IN: Fun and games (21), Sports (15)

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July 21, 2008

The science of the bombardier beetle

Technology can come from anywhere.

The bombardier beetle‘s backside is being studied by scientist to advance spray technology and preserve the environment.

This tiny beetle can shoot super hot spray at up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit which will ward off any opposing enemy.

Learn more about the way this beetle defends itself at the National Academy of Sciences.

POSTED IN: None

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July 18, 2008

Store closings don't bring down Starbucks' stocks

Say it ain't so! Starbucks is closing 600 stores nationwide, which means 12 South Florida stores are getting hit. Say whaaaat??

Yep. The one I'll miss the most is the store on 1100 W. Broward Boulevard (near the Fort Lauderdale police station). It just opened in the old Michael's hot dog restaurant (bad karma for that location)! And it's one of the few places that serve those tasty breakfast sandwiches!!! Ok ... getting off track.

Anyway, Starbucks' stock doesn't seem to be taking any nosedives after news broke about the closings. So here's a look at the stock performance, which I got from Google. Check back in our Business section for the latest and greatest Starbuckies info.

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POSTED IN: None

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Salmonella scare: Tomatoes declared safe again, but watch those hot peppers

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You say tomato, they say no more salmonella , I say it's about time!

I knew something was up a month or so ago when I ordered a chicken club sandwich at the Cheesecake Factory and they told me they couldn't serve tomatoes. My husband didn't care, he hates them --- so we didn't give it another thought. Then news broke the next day that there's been a salmonella outbreak on tomatoes. Shocking.

So far, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn't figured out where the little germies came from, but there has been several hundred cases that have risen across the country since April. And now, after a recent trip to Chipotle, I found out that now jalapenos are having a little salmonella outbreak of their own. What's next?!!

Is it a weird coincidence that restaurants warn you of food-borne diseases before the FDA does?! All I know is the Cheesecake Factory has relaxed on their no-tomato policy for a couple of weeks. I guess it's only a matter of time (and lunch trips) before I find out about the next food recall.

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POSTED IN: None

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July 12, 2008

News Illustrated: Sometimes a page takes a little while longer to run

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So here it is, Hiram Henriquez's last News Illustrated page. It's a
good graphic explaining how our staff makes 3-D illustrations. The
only problem is that Hiram finished this page a year ago before
leaving to work at National Geographic.

So why did we wait so long?

Sometimes, the topics we pick don't need to run for some time. Other
topics, such as voting, need to coincide with major events and
anniversaries or they accompany other stories in the
paper. So Hiram's page didn't run for a year because the topic was
something we could run at any time. And as it happened, we just didn't
have an opening until this weekend.

So we hope you enjoy this and at least learn a little something about
how we do what we do best.

POSTED IN: Belinda Long-Ivey (39), Fun and games (21), Technology (27)

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July 10, 2008

A look at the Florida death penalty

Now that the death penalty has started up again in Florida, here is a glance at past executions and some of those who are on death row. For more, visit the Florida Department of Corrections.

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Here are two men on death row. They are from Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Click on them to learn more. To search for others, click here.

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POSTED IN: Government (48), LIndsay Dubois (35), Politics (29)

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July 9, 2008

Flex fuel station near you

If you got a flexible fuel car or alternative fuel car, click here to find the closest fuel site available in the U.S.

Learn more about ethanol fuel in our News Illustrated page.
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POSTED IN: Renee Kwok (24), Technology (27)

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July 3, 2008

Life in limbo: One man's struggle with traumatic brain injury

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On Sunday, the Sun-Sentinel will feature a package on Brendan O'Toole, a young man who suffered from severe traumatic brain injury from a horrific car accident in September 2005. Staff reporter Tim Collie and photographer Susan Stocker spent time with Brendan's family to give you this heartfelt story about their hopes and struggles.

Above is the multimedia package with the story that features a powerful video of friends and family; copies of emails Brendan's mother wrote to friends chronicling Brendan's journey for the first few years after the accident; and an interactive graphic explaining the causes of traumatic brain injury.

If you'd like to include your story, feel free to comment at the Sun-Sentinel forum we set up for Brendan's story. Please note that all comments will be approved before they are posted.

If you want more information on traumatic brain injury, visit the Brain Injury Association of Florida or call their family helpline (800-992-3442).

POSTED IN: Belinda Long-Ivey (39), Health (21), LIndsay Dubois (35), Science (44)

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July 1, 2008

Sunpass new card: Compact, cheaper, no batteries required

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What's not to like.

WELL ... THE KEY DIFFERENCE
The card can't be moved from car to car. The card adheres to the windshield to the side of the rearview mirror. Once removed the card will no longer work, can't be reattached. This may be an issue for some users.

Find out more at Sunpass or read about the SunPass Mini.

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CRACKDOWN ON TOLL CHEATERS

Don't ignore violation warnings. SunPass customers can face hefty fines and lose their driver's license for skipping only a few tolls. Here's a graphic from our archive that shows how state troopers are alerted to transponders that aren't working.

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POSTED IN: Cindy Jones-Hulfachor (46), Technology (27)

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