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TopFinds: From Designer Tasers to Corrupt Voting Machines

Ron Paul snubbed by Fox. Warner thumbing its finger at HD DVD. Voting machines raising stress levels. It sounds negative, but recent news was a medley of the good, the bad and the very ugly as Digital Journal presents top news from around the world.

Technology & Internet

Call the fashion police, but let’s hope they’re not armed with shock-guns. As Ringwraith reported, a designer Taser is being marketed as a stylish accessory, complete with leopard print covering. Talk about tasteless.

Other tech and Internet making headlines included: Google-enabled plasma TVs will make an appearance soon, cgull reported; driverless cars may reduce the traffic jams of the future, ashley.woods4 found; the Wikipedia for alcohol lovers debuted on New Year’s Day, MadMoneyWannabe discovered; and the Blu-ray camp got a boost with Warner’s defection (and Paramount’s rumoured pullout) from the HD DVD side, as reported by more than one article on DigitalJournal.com.

Science & Health

There’s a lot of stigma aimed at criminals with mental health problems, but a new initiative in New York hopes to treat those criminals more fairly and humanely, Debra Myers reported. Cynthia T. commented: “It would be better to treat those with problems instead of just locking them up.”

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Other science and health articles of interest included: the key to avian flu in humans has been uncovered, which may help scientists develop a workable vaccine, Bob Ewing wrote; circumcised penises don’t experience any less joy during sex, contrary to popular wisdom, momentsintime found (and we Jews let out a sigh of relief!); a new drug may reverse the debilitating symptoms of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Thespian wrote; and gum can give you more than a sore jaw — the sugar-free variety contains sorbitol, which causes stomach pain and diarrhea. Let’s hope you’re not getting any prank ideas from this article.

Politics

Remember when Hillary Clinton was choked up with emotion just before the New Hampshire primary? The woman who asked her the question causing the emotional ice-breaker evidently voted for Obama, a fact that would’ve been lost on the public if it weren’t for articles like the one written by Navin Vaswani.

Many political stories from the U.S. made the rounds, and here’s a sampling of some of the most intriguing features: under the media radar, Mitt Romney won the Wyoming caucus, Emily January informed us; pajamadeen called out the Republican debate on Fox, which didn’t include candidate Ron Paul; and an informative op-ed on the American dependency on foreign oil took aim at the Democrats for their soft stance on building new refineries, as Snooper wrote. Piper and Snooper got into a short-lived argument but most likely these two similarly-named CJs will meet again.

TopFinds Awards

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Last week, Digital Journal challenged writers to find a local or unusual story to post on the site. Many great submissions passed our desk, er, I mean Web pages, and two stood out for displaying impressive journalistic skill and on-the-ground reportage.

The top winner in the contest is newcomer (but you wouldn’t know it) Haley January Eckels, who penned a fabulous feature-length piece on the New Hampshire primary. Eckels interviewed people in person, finding out what motivated them to side with certain candidates. She was able to add colour to her article by providing sensory details on the sights and sounds in Manchester, N.H. A wonderful complement to this top-notch piece were the photos of voters, media centers and even sign-toting snowmen. Congrats, Haley, on a sophomore article that truly deserves to be recognized for outstanding journalism.

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But not to be forgotten is the second place finisher in this contest — Bob Ewing deserves an award for his intriguing article on where the Canadian province New Brunswick is heading in the coming year. The real attention-getter was the phone interview with NDP leader Roger Duguay, a feat that gave this article a filter-free vibe. It was illuminating to hear a politician’s words told straight to a Citizen Journalist, without the mainstream media interference. Well done, Bob, and we look forward to more of your work.

Both Bob and Haley are winners of a kick-ass, custom-designed t-shirt from DigitalJournal.com! We encourage everyone to get outside of their comfort zone and find more stories from their neighbourhoods, interview experts or contact people involved in large-scale issues and events.

Outside of the contest realm, there are a number of writers who bled important news this week:

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There is one writer on DigitalJournal.com who is quickly going to become known as the Web’s Don Cherry, only he doesn’t wear the gaudy suits (at least that we know of). Navin Vaswani is a die-hard Leafs fan who is constantly let down by his city’s hockey team. Navin wins the TopSports Awards this week for his ongoing coverage, where he dominates the sports category. This week Vaswani covered the Detroit Red Wings’ announcement that Chris Osgood re-signed (not resigned); he burst into spontaneous song after the Canadian junior team won gold in the hockey championships; and he continued his unique style of sports reportage when he talked about the Leafs getting their asses handed to them here and here. Kudos Don Vaswani.

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This week’s TopPolitics Award goes to Eric S. Wyatt who has followed the presidential trail and sniffed out a few good stories on the often controversial Republican candidate, Ron Paul, as well as other big fish in the political pond. Wyatt reported on Ron Paul getting snubbed by mainstream media, encouraging the candidate to host his own debate; more information on the supposed racist background of Paul’s newsletters (including coverage of a CNN interview in which Paul said he was not aware of what was being published under his watch); a report on New Hampshire doctors who say presidential candidates need to address health care; and a Democrat who cites “serious and credible reports, allegations, and rumors” about vote tampering and fraud. It was great to see this CJ keeping the world up-to-date on politics outside of Obama’s rising popularity.

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We love hoaxes. Especially when the media in an entire country can be fooled and schooled by a young Internet genius. The winner of this week’s TopInternet Award is malan, who covered the story on a 28-year-old French citizen who tricked the media into believing he was the president of Facebook. As malan reported, a new application was introduced to Facebook recently where a “worldwide president” could be designated every three months — all it takes is votes from other Facebook users. Arash Derambarsh won the contest which is meant as a game, but he convinced media he had become a powerhouse who had gained access to 100 million Facebook users, making him more powerful than real-life French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Congrats to malan for covering a niche story that won him mainstream appeal after the Internet huckster fooled large TV networks and traditional media to cover the story and grant him interviews. Best laugh we had all week.

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What would a week in business news be like without coverage of China? Well, we don’t really know. But one thing is for sure: Wanderlaugh showed his veteran stripes yet again this week, earning DigitalJournal.com’s prestigious TopBusiness Award for his coverage of China attempting to cover surging inflation with price freeze tactics. The challenge for anyone covering China from a business sense is understanding the spider web of connections. The country has become so interwoven in the international marketplace that when one thing changes a little bit, something else changes down the line even more. Thanks to Wanderlaugh (who swallows complex issues and digests them into consumable bits of information) we learned about an important story on runaway prices that could hurt China’s domestic economy. The story delves into the issues of a slowing global economy and how it could wallop China. Anyone who wants to know more about the world’s next superpower and how it plans to severly punish those found “guilty of driving up prices through hoarding or cheating,” should kick back, relax and bury themselves in this Pièce de Business-ance.

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There were two standout articles in the tech section, so we honour two CJs with the TopTech Award this week. First, make sure you check out Susan Duclos‘s excellent and exhaustive piece on the problems with voting machines. Here we learn about the unreliability of these ABM-like voting systems, which can suffer from malfunction and viruses. This issue won’t go away anytime soon in light of the political fever sweeping through the U.S.

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The TopTech Award is shared with mirrorwarp, who fascinated us with the story of a Canadian business that uses MRI technology to find oil in various materials. As the oil-dependency topic continues to stay on the mind of the public, mirrowarp’s revelatory article is an ideal example of systems that can give certain governments an upper hand in finding their very precious resource.

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Finally, the TopOpEd Award winner poses a powerful question in the headline: Does the First Amendment Protect the Right to Lie? LewWaters dissects statements made by Xavier Alvarez, who supposedly lied about serving in the Marines. Lew follows the case through its labyrinthine curves, offering his own insight into the contentious matter. He wonders, “How have we devolved into a nation where our courts would ever consider that blatant lies, lies told for personal and political gain, at the expense of others, would be protected speech under the First Amendment?”

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