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January 30, 2008

Fume testing begins in St. Louis Park

The Environmental Protection Agency began testing air samples Monday in more than 200 St. Louis Park homes, reported the Star Tribune.

The tests will determine whether chemical vapors from soil have entered the suburban homes. This event was prompted by ground contamination tests that confirmed the presence of solvent fumes in shallow soil samples last year.

While state pollution officials have confirmed that the drinking water supplies in St. Louis Park will not be affected by the substances, they still believe that air exposure is threatening.

“Long-term exposure [to these chemicals] could slightly increase the risk of certain adverse health effects, including sometimes cancer or effects on different organ systems such as the liver,? Jim Kelly, health risk assessor for the Minnesota Department of Health, said.

With negative test results from two St. Louis Park schools, homes and businesses for the time being seem to be in the clear. Test results will become available in a few days to property owners in the area.

If the home tests come back positive, the EPA plans to spend an estimated $1,500 to ventilate said properties.

January 29, 2008

Final address forgets the future

Tax rebates and the war in Iraq were the two major topics in President Bush’s final State of the Union address Monday night at Capitol Hill, reported the New York Times.

While the White House promised the speech would look forward, Bush instead used most of his 53 minutes to summarize the last seven years. His topic of choice was the war in Iraq.

“[Troop buildup] has achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago,? Bush said. He also reminded the country that within the year, 20,000 troops will have returned from Iraq. However, no date or potential agenda for a complete withdrawal was mentioned.

Aside from Iraq, the issue of foreign affair was not noticeable. Bush looked over North Korea and Iran even though he had plans to disclose their nuclear intentions by the end of 2007. Economic (in)stability, a primary concern during this election year, was also quickly skimmed over.

While most of the address focused on past issues, Bush did manage to look forward on one issue, domestic affairs. He pushed for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and revealed an agenda to provide low-income students with $300 million in scholarship money.

Bush previously stated that he intended to “sprint to the finish.? However, with little steam left for his final year, it looks like his term will complete just short of the finish line.