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The Wilmington Daily thewilmingtondaily.com

December 7, 2011

H ighlights Thalian See what’s happening inside today. Couples Tango right in to the Guninness World Records. 3A.

By Robert Downey Jr. A wrecking ball leveling a condemned building downtown swung wildly in yesterday’s 40 mph gusts and knocked a hole in the wall of historic Thalian Hall, one of the oldest and most hallowed landmarks in Wilmington. “It just slipped away from me,” said crane operator Cyrus Z. Xavier. Xavier is an employee of Blocker Service, the demolition company hired to remove a cinder-block diner behind the performing arts center to make way for a parking garage. “That wind almost blew the whole

Hall recieves a blow

machine over and me with it.” “The crane Xavier operated weighs 18 tons and is more than 100 feet high. He is a licensed operator and has worked for Blocker for more than 10 years,” said police reports. “The hole is only four feet in diameter and is in a part of Thalian Hall that is empty,” said a spokesperson for the center. “No harm done,” he said cheerfully. He estimated the damage to be about $3,000. Others were not so

: Twitter is

coming to school! By Jake Gyllenhaal Tweet this: Using a social networking platform such as Twitter as a tool in university courses gets students more involved and boosts their grades.

Tragedy strikes the croquet team of Nepal. 3A.

It’s time for that good, Southern BBQ again. 5B.

That’s the conclusion of a study involving university students published in the latest issue of the “Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.” To get an overview, researchers separated 125 students taking a first year seminar course for pre-health professional majors into the following two groups, 70 who used Twitter and 55 who didn’t. The course was only worth one credit. “The idea that student engagement can be increased outside of the classroom in a low credit course through the use of technology is one of the key findings. Students are able to engage with faculty regularly in short exchanges,” said coauthor Greg Heiberger of South Dakota State University (SDSU). He is also coordinator of prehealth professional programs in SDSU’s department of

biology and microbiology. “It was a 1 credit course and the contact we had with students was daily. That’s not common with many 1 credit courses.” In the Twitter group, teachers and students used the program for various academic discussions. Researchers measured engagement by using a 19 item scale based on the National Survey of Student Engagement. Results showed that the experimental group wrote more, expressed more interest and engaged with other students more than the control group did. The Twitter group also had higher over-all GPA in the course for the entire semester. When researchers looked more closely at the Twitter communications, they showed that students and faculty were both highly engaged in the learning process in ways that transcended traditional classroom activities.

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sanguine.2 “What they got to go and tear anything down for anyway,” demanded George I. Urope, of Princess Street. “The last thing anybody needs in this town is more dammed concrete piled up. It’s an eyesore, and it’s all at the taxpayer’s expense.” The demolition is part of a larger $35 million downtown improvement plan that calls for a four-story parking garage and various other traffic management strategies. “When was the last time you tried to park downtown

and actually found a spot,” inquired Mayor Will Staffo. “This and other projects are making the downtown a destination spot for tourists and residents alike. It’s money well spent.” The weather yesterday caught many by surprise. Weather forecasters were predicting early in the week that the skies would be sunny and cloudless, and the winds would be balmy and off the ocean. Surprisingly, the weather took a turn for the worse two days ago, and some feared that a hurricane forming in the

East Atlantic might create turbulent conditions for the Cape Fear coast. The high winds fizzled 400 miles east of the Cape Fear coast, and the heavy damage that was anticipated never happened. Police are continuing their investigation of the wrecking ball incident.

The wrecking ball left a small hole. Repairs should be done quickly to restore the wall.

FBI busts illegal antiquities ring By Johnny Depp

“A Wilmington arts dealer helped the FBI break an antiquities looting ring yesterday when he alerted law enforcement that a former contractor in Iraq had sold him more than 2 dozen artifacts stolen from temples and museums,” said United States Attorney David J. Weissman. David Mundocane, 53, was charged with various counts of felony theft, and he is being held without bail in the New Hanover County jail awaiting trial. “More charges are in the process of being filed,” said police. “This arrest is the result of the joint efforts of the FBI Art Crime Team and the FBI’s Wilmington office,” said Weissman at a press conference in Washington yesterday. “Artifacts like these represent the history not only of Iraq but the history of all mankind. When artifacts are looted archeologists lose context, which is critical in piecing together the puzzle of the past. We hope that this seizure will help repair at least some of this damage.”

The story began about three months ago when Mundocane walked into Artful Dodger, an antiques shop on Front St. owned by Marv Stonebilt. “He was like any other guy when he walked in, but I knew as soon as he unrolled that bundle of artifacts on my counter that I was dealing with something way out of my league,” said Stonebilt. Stonebilt, 67, has a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University and has dealt in

antiquities for more than 50 years. Stonebilt played along with Mundocane and offered to put the artifacts in his store on consignment, offering Mundocane no money up front but rather a percentage of what the artifacts sold for. “I told him $2 million dollars was not out of the realm of possibility,” said Stonebilt.

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These Mesopotamian artifacts, once used for recorded keeping, were taken into evidence after the big antiquities looting bust.

Loveable pet becomes a hero By: Shirley Mathews “Martin Screenable was taking a stroll in his Myrtle Grove front yard yesterday

when a marauding pit bull charged the 56-year-old man, knocked him down and started ripping at his body as neighbors screamed for help,”

Missy Piggy, the loveable pet that saved the life of one of her neighbors, taking a short nap after her life saving duties.

said police.

ditch.

“I thought I done seen my last day,” said Screenable, a lifelong resident of the area. “He would have killed me for sure.”

Neighbors, that had gotten hoes, baseball bats, chainsaws and other implements from their homes, ran after the dog and chased it down the street.

Just as the 90-pound, white pit bull was about to sink his teeth into Screenable’s throat, an unlikely good citizen appeared.

Police and ambulance showed up a few minutes later.

Miss Piggy, a 200-pound hog who lives next door to Screenable, broke down the fence of her sty, rampaged through the brush and hedges of her owner’s property and threw herself at full speed onto the pit bull, knocking him off of Screenable and sending the dog rolling into a

“This is impossible,” said Beelzebub Himmel, the 21-year-old owner of the pit bull. Himmel lives three blocks from Screenable. “Prudence wouldn’t hurt a fly. You’re just accusing my dog because he’s a pit bull, but pit bulls are by nature sweet and gentle. Prudence wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Police confiscated the dog,

whose muzzle and chest were stained with blood, pending the outcome of a rabies test. Himmel was cited for letting a dog run loose and having an unlicensed animal. “I almost swallowed my tongue, I was so scared,” said LuEllen Maheefic, Screenable’s neighbor and owner of Miss Piggy. “That dog comes around all the time, and he’s always acting mean. It was just a matter of time before somebody got hurt. That owner is a criminal.” “All I seen was teeth and blood,” said Screenable,

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The Wilmington Daily Conitued from 1A. Communications outside of class, such as these, are important factors in student engagement and success.” Heiberger said Twitter not only increased students contact with instructors but also their contact with each other. That made it made it possible for students to support each other in a virtual learning community. “Such social networking technologies raise new possibilities for group learning, teaching communities, media in education, post-secondary education and teaching strategies,” Heiberger said. Heiberger and his colleagues are conducting follow up studies on the impact of social media on retention of college students in their first and second years.

2A

Continued from 1A “This study supports a growing body of evidence that Twitter can be used as an educational tool to help students and faculty become more active and participatory in the learning experience,” the researchers concluded. “It was clear that students were highly engaged with us and with each other on Twitter, and that had a significant effect on their overall academic success,” said coauthor Rey Junco of Lock Haven University.

“His eyes lit up when I told him I had someone interested in buying. I knew I had the hook set when he said he would have to call his partners to confirm.” The FBI traced that phone call to another contractor currently in Iraq, and the FBI and the military have been compiling a network of people associated with what is developing into an international smuggling ring.

“We know that at least six more people are involved in stealing and selling art objects “To some extent, it does looted from the Mideast,” add to the faculty members’ said Weissman. “We expect level of commitment, but it more arrest’s by the end of allows for them to leverage technology to directly connect the week. This story is far from being over.” The FBI with students throughout the day,” Heiberger said. “Faculty seized all of the artifacts after Mundocane was arrested and could Tweet five minutes they have been forfeited to the after dinner and answer a United States government to couple of quick questions.

Continued from 1A be removed from the stream of commerce, said Weissman. The artifacts originated in Mesopotamia, present day southern Iraq. Most of the items are cuneiform tablets, which were used in Mesopotamia for record keeping. The tablets were made by using a reed stylus to write in the cuneiform script on softened clay, which was then hardened. Three of the seized artifacts are inscribed foundation cones that were imbedded in temple walls to dedicate the building to a divinity. Stonebilt notified the FBI immediately after Mundocane left the store, and the FBI placed surveillance equipment in the store to help gather evidence in the ongoing case. The artifacts were looted from museums, religious sights and

Who’s to blame for your child’s lack of education?

By Daniel Craig

“Kids who blame a North Carolina teacher for poor grades and lack of interest in the arcane of Latin verb conjugation, mole finding in chemistry class or failure to make sense of quadratic equations can look for another excuse for not doing well,” reports a new study released yesterday. No one teacher has that great of an effect on a student. “On the other hand, that great teacher who made grammar come alive or literacy characters leap off the pages also has nothing to brag about when it comes to long term affect,” says the new study by researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) and the University of Michigan. It appears in the latest issue of “The Journal of

Human Resources.” “I totally disagree,” said Mildred Cornhockler, a grade school teacher at Pine Valley Elementary School. “I’m 66 years old, and I see my former students all the time. They’ve become doctors and lawyer and teachers, and every single one of them says it was because they remembered me and that I had inspired them to achieve.” Figuring out how to measure a teacher’s performance has come under greater scrutiny since the No Child Left Behind law was enacted in 1996, and many academics, lawmakers and others are struggling with how to figure out which teachers are doing the best jobs – and how. Nearly all agree that teaching kids only

what they need to pass a progress measuring test is undesirable, but the challenge is to figure out how to measure teaching that inspires a love of learning, curiosity and problem-solving. For example, teachers are judged on how well students fair on standardized tests compared to previous years. If most of a teacher’s current 5th-grade students score higher than they did as 4th-graders, then that teacher gets a high “valueadded” rating. The BYU study, instead, measured whether teachers put students on an ascending path of learning in the years to come. The bad news: most of the gains from a highly-rated teacher vanish quickly. In reading, 87 percent of the benefit fades

Culprit of church fire finally caught Parishioners come together dispite no place to worship By James McAvoy The last descendant of a famous family of moonshiners was arrested last night running naked on College Boulevard and charged in connection with last month’s burning of a Forrest Hills Episcopal church, said police. “Febber Witherall, 23, of Pensacola, Fla., will also face public indecency and resisting arrest charges when he is arraigned in Superior Court later today,” police added. “We have put an end to a very long chapter in a very sad story,” said Rafe Evangelous, Wilmington’s Chief of Police. Witherall had apparently been drinking all day at a bar near Shipyard Avenue. “When the bar closed, three bartenders had to escort a screamingand-kicking Witherall from

the premises,” said Joe Goodday, one of the bartenders. Witherall then striped off all his clothes in the parking lot and set off at a trot toward the university. “He said he was going to show us all if we didn’t let him have any more Scotch,” said Goodday, “He said we’d get the same as that church that burned down. We took that as a threat.” The bartender alerted police at a nearby satellite station, and they responded immediately, chasing the 5-foot-8-inch homeless man down the road.  Police tackled Witherall just outside the entrance to Hugh McRae Park as he yelled to police that he had burned the Forest Hills church the month before. “It was a pretty clear confession,” said Evangelous. It was unclear why Witherall would set fire to the church. “He is still undergoing detox at New Hanover Hospital as of noon today,” said a hospital

spokesperson. Four weeks ago, an early morning three-alarm fire at the 1219 Forest Hills Dr. site left the church a smoldering ruin and its hundreds of parishioners without a place to worship. “The 2 a.m. fire was apparently started by at least five bottles of flaming moonshine tossed through the windows of the church,” said the fire marshal. Damages were estimated at more than $5 million dollars, and the building was declared a total loss. “This act has not shaken our faith, only made it stronger,” said Rev. Josiah Knoghagen, “it has enabled us to bond with our fellow Episcopalians.”

Congregation still comes together in time of worship.

after one year. In math, 73 percent of the gains fade after one year. “People are looking for a silver bullet to fix public education,” said Loftgren. “We’ve shown that the benefits are mostly transitory, so you don’t want to sacrifice everything else you might value in a teacher just for “value-added” to test scores.”

Teaching is more than just standing in front of a classroom. Teaching involves interaction and care.

other areas. The government of Iraq has filed legal papers asserting ownership over them and demanding their return. “Their fate is now in the hands of the diplomats,” said Weissman. “Our office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute cultural property crimes in the future.”

rolling up the sleeve of his shirt to show the 49 stitches emergency room doctors gave him at New Hanover Hospital. “I thought I was a goner.” Miss Piggy is a favorite in the neighborhood. “Every time I pass by her sty, I give her a little carrot or something,” said Screenable with a laugh. “Best investment I ever made.” Miss Piggy is four years old and is a pet. “She’s never ending up as a side for anybody’s pancakes,” said Maheefic. “She’s my sweetie, and she’s a hero.”

Smuggling ancient artifacts has been on the FBI’s radar for a long time.

Gambling mailman loses his luck By Ryan Gosling

and more.

A mailman who put his own stamp on an illegal post office gambling operation, was found guilty in superior court yesterday of taking in more than $10 million dollars from an illegal workplace lottery based on numbers drawn in the North Carolina Lottery.

“Haarlem himself earned more than $100,000 as ringleader of the conspiracy, said Ben Davis, District Attorney.

“This ring victimized everyone, his fellow workers, the state lottery and the children who benefit from the education lottery profits,” said George E.B. Holding, United States attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Jurors in the three day trial in New Hanover County heard how Frederick Haarlem, 43, then a U.S. Postal Service supervisor, along with several other postal workers in the gambling ring, operated a “Lotto”-type business for the past five years that tracked the numbers chosen for the North Carolina Education Lottery drawings and paid out on a monthly prizes of $100,000

Each month, thousands of city and county workers paid $20 per entry in the lottery. “Lottery books”, which listed each player’s name and the six numbers the better chose to play per entry, was given to players from a central storage facility in downtown Wilmington. The winner was the first player or players to have all six numbers chosen in the North Carolina Lottery. “I was railroaded,” Haarlem testified during his trail. “The state lottery itself is illegal if what I did was illegal. Those fat cat politicians just want to pocket the millions of dollars in lottery money themselves.” The trials of five more lawbreaking members of the conspiracy are due to begin with the month.

Wilmington becomes NC’s bedbug capital By Vince Vaughn Wilmington can add another title to its growing list: Bedbug Capitol of the South. Allergy specialists at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology released a report yesterday in the Phoenix, Ariz., conference that graded various parts of the country for bedbug infestations. The study compared thousands of health department reports and hospital and allergist reports in 23 different cities, and Wilmington beat its closest competition, Myrtle Beach, by a wide margin. “If you’re sleeping on a mattress in Wilmington, North Carolina, you’re sleeping with a lot of little critters with very bloodthirsty habits,” said allergist Richard di Lorenzo, a doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. Di Lorenzo was one of 20 doctors who coauthored the study, published in the

latest edition of “Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology”, the official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Group. Wilmington also beat out major cities like Atlanta and Chicago, Ill. New York City, however, still holds the number one spot in the entire country with 10 times the number of incidents as Wilmington. “This is a total distortion of the situation,” said Mary Carrie, spokesperson for the Cape Fear Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This area has no bedbug problem whatsoever. Two tourists from Haiti had red marks on them after a one night stay six months ago. From that one incident, these doctors are drawing all kinds of false conclusions.” “Our conclusions are based on science, numbers and hard facts,” said di Lorenzo. “We stand by our conclusions.” “Bedbugs conjure an image

of filth and disease, and, if true about Wilmington, could mean that the area’s multi-million dollar tourist industry could suffer a major blow. In a time of economic uncertainty, this would be especially damaging,” say experts. “Our city has a proud past and an even prouder future,” said Mayor Will Safforn. “This is a ridiculous assertion.” Most people who are bitten by bed bugs get red bite marks that are mildly itchy, but for those who are allergic, itching, swelling, redness, hives and blisters can be intense. The bugs can trigger asthma if a large group of them become airborne, and, although rare, people who are highly allergic to the bites may even have a life threatening reaction that can cause trouble breathing, hives or swelling or tightness of the throat, requiring a visit to the emergency room.

Newspaper Design Project  

For my final project in my Theory and Practice of Editing class, I designed a newspaper layout and edited the articles within the document.

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