May 6, 2007

Naked Photo Shoot

The Associated Press reported that more than 18,000 people, "stripped down and bared it all," in Mexico City's main square. This was all for U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick's biggest nude shot ever. Tunick snapped photographs of the people standing up to salute, crouching in fetal positions and lying prone on the tiles of the Zocalo plaza from balconies and a small crane in the morning. "I think all eyes are looking south from the United Sates to Mexico City to see how a country can be free and treat the naked body as art. Not as pornography or as a crime, but with happiness and caring," Tunick said at a news conference. The Brooklyn, New York, artist has become famous for photographing thousands of naked people in public settings worldwide, from London and Vienna to Buenos Aires and Buffalo. The Associated Press reported that nen and women from a broad cross-section of ages and social classes began arriving before dawn, although most volunteers were young men. Between shots, the volunteers burst out into verses of Mexican folk songs such as "Cielito Lindo."

Reuters reported that this photo shoot beat out Tunick's previous record of 7,000 volunteers in 2003 in Barcelona, Spain. Tunick directed with a megaphone a series of pictures, one with volunteers arranged in the shape of an arrow. There were hundreds of police keeping nosy onlookers away, there was also a no-fly zone declared above the plaza. "This event proves that really we're not such a conservative society anymore. We're freeing ourselves of taboos," said Fabiola Herrera, a 30-year-old university professor who volunteered to strip, along with her boyfriend.

The Remains of Flight 587

Carl Macgowan reported for the Associated Press that the families of the victims of the American Airlines Flight 587 that crashed in Belle Harbor on Nov. 12, 2001 to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx to visit a crypt bearing the unclaimed remains of people who died in the plane crash. The crash killed 265 people and left hundreds of body parts, most of them unidentified. Family members received letters from the mayor, inviting them to the cemetery, but some don't plan to attend saying the city ignored their pleas for a Catholic Mass. There has been a question of where to bury the remains since the flight bound for the Dominican Republic from Kennedy Airport crashed. It was reported that many of the crash victims were Dominican.

Verena Dobnik reported for the Associated Press that the last unidentified remains of people killed in the crash have been placed in two crypts. Susan Olsen, a cemetery official said the unidentified remains, in four caskets, were entombed Friday at a mausoleum in the cemetery. The bodies of all the crash victims had been identified, but the medical examiner's office was left with some remains that could not be matched, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner. Borakove said from her knowledge, the 889 bone fragments and other pieces were from Flight 587. The cemetery space was purchased by the city. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that part of the tail assembly of the Airbus A300 had fallen off, and it blamed pilot error, inadequate pilot training and overly sensitive rudder controls. On the fifth anniversary of the crash in November, Mayor Michael Bloomberg a memorial wall bearing the victims' names and overlooking the ocean about 15 blocks from the crash site. The $9.2 million memorial was funded with private and public money.

Cinco de Mayo

The Star Tribune reported that twenty five years ago, a group of business leaders from St. Paul's West Side decided to sponsor a neighborhood festival to, "stir up community pride and customers for local businesses," and today that tradition is still going strong. Owners borrowed two street barricades from the Police Department, they got a flatbed truck with a trailer for a "stage" and rented a couple of portable toilets. According to the Star Tribune, neighbors marched in that first Cinco de Mayo parade, and sold homemade tacos and tamales along the parade route. The event includes three stages of entertainment and shuttle buses. Also, a 5k run, a lowrider car show, a sports zone and two blocks of vendors. This area is overwhelmingly Mexican, the Hispanic community is increasingly from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador and other nations.

The Pioneer Press reported that the festival drew thousands of people over six blocks and two days. The Pioneer Press reported that, while the festival's Friday night car show was a magnet for the young, Saturday's parade was a family affair and a symbol of the deep infusion of Hispanics into the Twin Cities mainstream. Klondike Kate, from St. Paul's Winter Carnival made an appearance along with a "booty-shaking" sorority that danced just a few paces ahead of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Ponchos, beaded necklaces, black light posters, "Dora the Explorer" balloons and otehr kitsch were sold by Vendors. Also, dozens lined up for an autograph from Mexican screen star Hector Suarez.

Girl Slashed at the Mall of America

The Star Tribune reported that a 14-year-old girl from Bloomington was slashed in the stomach by another girl at the Mall of America. She is in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. A commander in charge of investigations for the Bloomington Police Department, Jim Ryan, said the girl was expected to survive. Ryan said the assailant suffered minor injuries, but did not requre hospitalization. The identities of the girls was not released because they are juveniles. Ryan said that the suspect will probably be charged with felony assault.

The Pioneer Press reported that the two teenage girs knew each other. Police are still investigating what caused the attack, Ryan said. Several shoppers witnessed the attack. Ryan said, a registered nurse also witnessed the attack and, "was very helpful at rendering first aid to the victim." The mall remained open for business throughout Saturday, except for a small area near a third-floor stairway that was cordoned off by police. The Mall of America gets 40 million visitors a year.

Panda Porn

According to the Contra Costa Times, a report on CNN Monday detailed how Chinese scientists are getting its near-extinct panda population, "back on track." Recently male pandas have not been responsive when it comes to mating season. Scientists have begun playing videotapes of pandas having sex for the male pandas. After footage was shown, CNN reported that scientists saw, "a panda in a cage practically howl at the moon once somebody pushed play on a VCR just outside the cage."

This story proceeds to discuss the debate surrounding human pornography.

The Associated Press reported that in Chiang Mai, Thailand scientists are showing DVDs of uninitiated male pandas mating. It is one of the many techniques that attempt to get captive pandas to do it, and do it right. The efforts have paid off in China, now comes the next test of getting pandas to mate in their natural habitat. The audio-visual approach “is the same idea as chimpanzees seeing people smoke and then copying it,? says the Thai researcher. The results show that in the first 10 months of this year, 31 cubs were born in captivity in China, out of those, 28 survived. That is a change from the 12 births in 2005 and the nine in 2000.

April 15, 2007

Hillary Clinton Talks about American Idol's Sanjaya

According to the Associated Press in the Kansas City Star, the under-talented "American Idol" contestant Sanjaya Malakar is getting the attention of presidential candidates these days. Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked what the United States can do about Malakar, the television show's underdog candidate who critics say lacks talent, during a radio call-in on WOKQ-FM. "That's the best question I've been asked in a long time," Clinton said. "Well, you know, people can vote for whomever they want. That's true in my election, and it's true on 'American Idol.'" Malakar is known for his hairstyles and has prompted controversy on the show by surviving deep into the voting on this season's "Idol."

India eNews reported that Clinton wouldn't say whether she would vote for Sanjaya Malakar as the new 'American Idol'. Clinton came up with a statement that would please the 'desi' and non-desi fans of Sanjaya. The New York senator was not taking any chances as Sanjaya's stock went up on Fox News' 'Bulls and Bears' and, the oldest established online gambling site, offered $500 for every $100 bet if Malakar doesn't make it to the next week.

Girls Won't Remove Hijab at Sports Event

The Associated Press reported in the Houston Chronicle that a team of mainly Muslim girls was forced to pull out of a Tae Kwon Do tournament near Montreal Sunday because its members refused to remove their hijabs. Tournament organizers told team officials the girls could not compete because the Muslim headscarves posed a safety risk. The decision was made at a referee's meeting earlier in the day because hijabs are not listed under allowed equipement, said international referee Stephanie Menard. The team is made up of girls between the ages of 8 and 12 and is affiliated with a Muslim community center in Montreal. Five of the team's six players wear a hijab and have been allowed to participate in similar tournaments around Quebec. The team's coach Mahdi Sbeiti said his team suspects a changing political atmosphere played a role in this decision.

CBC News reported that officials told the coach that if someone yanked on the traditional Muslim headcovering, the hijab, a portion of which hangs beneath the players' helmets, strangulation was possible. Carole Ste.-Marie told CBC's Andrew Chang that her team had never encountered this issue in the three years her six-member squad, five of whom are Muslims, has competed. The tournament organizer, Raymond Mourad, said that he wanted officials to let the girls compete on Sunday and issue a warning for the next time, but his pleas were ignored.

Boy Chemically Burned at Playground

The Associated Press reported in the Chicago Tribune that a 2-year-old boy in Maryland was severly burned Saturday after he went down the slide at an elementary school playground. Authorities said someone had broken into the school and stolen several bottles of industrial-strength drain cleaner and splashed it all over the playground equipment. The boy's mother Carol Duschl said her son Peyton Duschl was scheduled for surgery Sunday morning and will most likely be hospitalized for several weeks. Peyton suffered second- and third-degree burns from the cleaner which contains a strong concentration of sulfuric acid, said Division Chief Michael Robinson of the Baltimore County Fire Department. Peyton was with his grandmother at the playground. No one else was injured. Peyton was taken to the pediatric burn unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the first hospital's emergency room had to be evacuated because they tracked some of the drain cleaner in with them. Whoever is responsible could face charges of first-degree assault, burglary and destruction of property, said Sgt. Vickie Warehime, a county police spokeswoman. A hazardous materials team cleaned up the playground, using tens of thousands of gallons of water, Robinson said.

BBC News reported that there were signs of forced entry to a storage room at Victory Villa Elementary School in Middle River. "I just don't understand what would draw somebody to do something like that," Ms. Duschl told US television station WMAR-TV. "What kind of sick joke is that?" Warehime said that whoever poured the chemical was also likely to have been burnt.

Driver Dies in Rollover

The Star Tribune reported Saturday that a 44-year-old Minneapolis man died. He was the driver of a car that was involved in a crash early in the morning in Minneapolis, according to the State Patrol. The two passengers in his car were in critical condition after being thrown from the car. The crash happened shortly after 2 a.m., on Hiawatha Avenue near Third Street. The driver died at the scene. A Champlin woman and a man whose residence is currently unkown were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. It was not known if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

The Pioneer Press reported that all three were ejected from a sedan in a rollover crash early Saturday morning. It reported that the car was on northbound Hiawatha Avenue at the Fourth Street ramp. The Champlin woman is 41 years old. Both of the passengers are in critical condition. The crash remains under investigation.

Toddler Hoax

The Star Tribune reported Saturday that St. Paul police said Chue Xiong, 44, who reported finding a toddler abandoned on a Frogtown street corner was supposed to be caring for the boy, whose mother is in jail. Police spokesman Tom Walsh and Xiong admitted the hoax after relatives, who had seen some of the media coverage, pressured him to tell the truth. However, Saturday afternoon, Xiong denied that he was supposed to care for the 2-year-old boy, said his stepdaughter Judy Vue, who was translating. The boy remains in the custody of Ramsey County child protection services. The boy's 33-year-old mother has been in the Ramsey County jail on warrants for forgery and theft since Wednesday. Xiong reported that he had just come home from taking his four children to school when he spotted the shoeless boy about 10 a.m. and said he waited outside with the boy for about three hours, hoping someone would come and pick him up, before he called police.

The Pioneer Press reported that Xiong is the stepfather. "I don't know her [Zia Yang]. I am not the stepfather," said Xiong, smoking and angrily pacing around the same corner the child allegedly wandered. He told police that he and his wife, See Lee, waited with the boy and that he refused to talk to them. He said he was a restaurant cook who recently lost his job and has four other children, including a 10-year-old boy and three daughters, ages 15, 14 and 4. Police now are conducting an investigation into possible charges against Chue Xiong.

April 1, 2007

Diversity Study with Mice

The Tennessean reported that at the Russell Laboratory for Comparative and Functional Genomics, commonly known as "the mouse house," researchers are building a mouse collection that resembles the human population in its diversity, group leader Elissa Chesler said. Geneticist David Threadgill said that this first-of-its-kind, international project could become a platform for, "a new way of looking at human biology using the mouse as a model." This project is a collaboration between about 300 geneticists from around the world and their plan is to creat 1,000 distinct lines of mice from eight original breeds.

The Associated Press reported that mice have long been used as laboratory substitues for humans. Mice reproduce quickly and are easily mutated. On a genetic level they are about 85 percent identical people. The common approach of examining one mouse gene at a time fails to address the genetice and environmental complexity of human diseases and conditions (i.e. obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, and aging), said researchers. The result of the project will be taking representatives of each racial gruop from each geographical region and putting them together Threadgill said.

Imams Sue Airlines

The New York Times reported that six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing the airline and the passengers who complained. The Associated Press reported that some fear this move could discourage others from speaking up if they see something unusual. The civil rights lawsuit that has been filed this month has alarmed some lawyers so much that they are offering to defend the passengers without charge. They said it is vital that the public is able to report any suspicious behavior without the fear of being taken to court. The six men were all imams and were taken off a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Nov. 20. They were returning home froma conference of Islamic clerics in Minneapolis. Passengers said they became nervous when the men were seen praying and chanting in Arabic. Some passengers also said the men mentioned Saddam Hussein and cursed the United States. Also, that they requested seat belt extenders and than stowed them under their seats. New York lawyer, Omar Mohammedi, said the intent is not to go after passengers who raise valid concerns, but that these passengers may have acted out of prejudice.

The Post Chronicle reported that the imans are suing US Airways and "John Doe" passengers for allegedly making false reports "with the intent to discriminate against them." The Muslim clerics had reportedly been making a scene in the terminal and on the plane. Their attorney says that they had only been performing prayers and were singled out because of their religion. The Times said that critics of the lawsuit contend that the freedom to practice one's religion at any time or any place is not absolute when it comes to government interests, such as preventing terrorism.

Flight Attendant Takes Gun on Plane

The Associated Press reported in Washington that uninformed flight attendant, Janet Tucker, 45, was arrested at Dulles International Airport after she turned herself in for allegedly carrying a concealed handgun aboard a flight from Atlanta. Transportation Security Administration spokesman Barry Phelps said, the TSA, the FBI and other law enforcemtn agencies were investigating if the woman had gone through security and also, if the gun had passed through a checkpoint unnoticed in Atlanta. The incident happened on United flight 7591. Rob Yingling, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said she was in uniform but was not part of the duty crew at the time. She was interviewed and released on a summons to appear in Loudoun County Court in Virginia at a future date.

The Associated Press reported in the Journal Gazette that flight attendants are supposed to go through the same security procedures as all other passengers. Rob Yingling said, “It seems it was an inadvertent incident, from her description." Jeff Kovick, United Airlines spokesman, confirmed that a United employee had been arrested but would not confirm any other information. Janet Tucker is from Lithonia, Ga.

Pope Celebrates Palm Sunday

The Associated Press reported that Pope Benedict XVI opened the Roman Catholic Church's most solemn week in Vatican City by urging young people during his Palm Sunday Mass to live pure, innocent lives. Holy Week this year will also include the second anniversary of the April 2, 2005 death of Pope John Paul II. Benedict walked through St. Peter's Square and up the steps of the basilica holding an intricately woven palm frond. Dozens of priests, bishops and cardinals preceded him, cluthing palms and olive branches in their red vestments. Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus Christ's entry into Jerusalem, and Good Friday includes the re-enactment of Christ's crucifixion and death and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

The VOA news reported that Pope Benedict continued the tradition started by his predecessor on Sunday, and dedicated his Palm Sunday Mass to young people, who turned out in large numbers. The Pope told the faithful not to, "let themselves be carried along in life, and not to accept what everyone thinks, says or does, but to look around and search for God." Sabina Castelfranco said he spoke of the need for mankind to maintain innocent hands and a pure heart. The Roman Catholic Church will close one phase of the investigation into John Paul's sainthood on the same day.

Herb Carneal Dies

The Star Tribune reported that Twins radio broadcaster, Herb Carneal, died Sunday morning of congestive heart failure at his home in Minnetonka, Minn., he was 83. Carneal received the Ford C. Frick award in 1996. This last winter he spend six weeks in the hospital battling a variety of ailments. He was scheduled to work 36 home games this season, including the Twins opener on Monday against Baltimore. Twins President Dave St. Peter said in a statement that plans for how the ballclub intends to honor Carneal at Monday's game were being discussed Sunday.

The Pioneer Press reported that Carneal was part of the ballclub's radio play-by-play team for all but the first year of the Twin's existence in Minnesota. Originally from Richmond, Va., his first radio job was right out of high school. Before coming to Minnesota in 1962, Carneal called Athletics and Phillies games in Philadelphia and Orioles games in Baltimore.

Carneal was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Metrodome's baseball press box was renamed in his honor in 2005.

Funeral arrangement are pending.