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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 Bookmaker.com, 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.