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April 26, 2009

Fans gather to mourn the loss of 21 prized polo horses

Fans of polo gathered at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Fla., Thursday for a moment of silence to remember the 21 prized polo horses that died last week.

The Star Tribune reported, an incorrect mixture of a supplement was given to them before a championship game, and is likely the cause of death.

One of the ingredients used in a vitamin and mineral supplement was dosed incorrectly at a Florida pharmacy, but it is not yet clear who is exactly responsible.

"Only horses treated with the compound became sick and died within three hours of treatment," Lechuza, a Venezuelan-based polo team, said in a statement. "Other horses that were not treated remain healthy and normal."

April 20, 2009

DNA database expanding causes privacy concerns

Law enforcement officials are expanding their database of DNA records to include people who have been arrested or detained but not necessarily convicted, the New York Times reported Saturday.

Only convicts were tracked using DNA technology in the past, but this month the FBI will join 15 states in collecting DNA samples of those awaiting trial and detained immigrants.

The growth rate of the DNA database is expected to grow 17-fold by 2012, from 80,000 new entries to 1.2 million.

“Over time more and more crimes of decreasing severity have been added to the database. Cops and prosecutors like it because it gives everybody more information and creates a new suspect pool," said Harry Levine, a professor of sociology at City University of New York who studies policy trends.

Minors are required to provide DNA samples in 35 states upon conviciton. Only some states require minors to provide samples upon arrest.

Three minors have made the only constitutional challenge to taking DNA at the time of arrest.

April 12, 2009

Tech recruiting clashes with immigration rules

Top technology company executive claim that "byzantine and increasingly restrictive visa and immigration rules" have squandered their ability to hire the world's best engineers.

In a New York Times article written Saturday, Google and other top technology companies say the Chinese, Indian and Russian technologists have transformed the industry.

According to the Times, over half of the the companies founded from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s were founded by foreign-born people.

Craig Barrett, the chairman of Intel, blames the education system that can't be easily fixed, and says a stopgap would be to let companies hire more foreign engineers.

“With a snap of the fingers, you can say, ‘I’m going to make it such that those smart kids — and as many of them as want to — can stay in the United States.’ They’re here today, they’re graduating today — and they’re going home today.”

There are many opponents of the idea to let more foreign engineers into the country to work.

“There are probably two billion people in the world who would like to live in California and work, but not everyone in the world can live here,” said Kim Berry, an engineer who operates a nonprofit advocacy group for American-born technologists. “There are plenty of Americans to do these jobs.”

April 4, 2009

Iowa Court reverses ban on gay marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that a state law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional and same-sex couples will be allowed to marry by the end of the month, according to the New York Times.

The court's unanimous decision moved the debate over same-sex marriage to the heartland of America. Currently only Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states that allow same-sex marriage.

Once the ruling becomes final, in about three weeks, couples will be allowed to be married.

Opponents of the ruling believe that backlash and outrage will be strong, and members of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a group that opposes the ruling, were quick to urge lawmakers to start the amendment process. An amendment to the state constitution is the only way to reverse the ruling.

Because of the lengthy amendment process required under Iowa's constitution, the earliest an amendment could revers the ruling would be 2012.

March 29, 2009

G.M. chief is said to be resigning

As part of a rescue plan, which President Obama will announce Monday, to rescue the auto industry, chairman and chief chief executive of General Motors Rick Wagoner is said to be resigning.

A person close to the decision told the New York Times Sunday that Wagoner has been asked to step down as part of a plan to restructure the auto maker.

G.M. and Chrysler have almost used up the $17.4 billion loaned to them by the United States government.

It is unclear who may take over for Wagoner.

The company lost $30.9 billion last year, and sales have declined 27.7 percent in the United States.

March 9, 2009

Obama to lift limits on Stem Cell Research

President Obama will sign an executive order on Monday lifting a ban on embryonic stem cell research according to USA Today.

After years of bans and uncertainty under the Bush administration about research with embryonic stem cells, Obama will overturn the ban on federal funding for such research.

Following Obama's executive order, the National Institutes of Health will have 120 days to establish new research guidelines

Many scientists praised the move by Obama but said it may have been more helpful two years ago. Since then scientists have been able to use skin cells to make new lines of stem cells, which may someday eliminate the need for embryos.

"Hallelujah, this marks the end of a long and repressive chapter in scientific history," said stem cell researcher Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass.

Opponents have also been quick to voice their disappointment with the decision.

"We're not afraid of the science, but we don't view the president's mandate as stepping into this controversial area and making taxpayers responsible for the loss of human life," said Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council.

Source: USA Today

February 28, 2009

Obama's calls his budget the change we need

President Obama said Saturday that his budget will battle special interests to expand health care, improve the education system, and combat pollution.

According the the New York Times, Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address that this was the change Americans voted for in November, and he will fight for these changes in the weeks ahead.

Included in the $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscal year, Obama hopes to invest more in education, revamp industries to emit fewer pollutants and provide insurance for 40 million people who currently live without it.

He also hopes to shift more of the tax burden to people with higher incomes and reduce the income gap that has developed in recent years.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said that the plan reflects the return of big government.

Mitt Romney a former Republican presidential candidate called said the plan will pull us towards the "government-dominated Europe"

February 22, 2009

Obama: Tax cuts coming by April 1

President Obama said Saturday that the benefits of tax cuts included in the $787 billion stimulus package will be seen for many Americans before April 1.

According to the Star Tribune the President said that this plan is essential and he thanked the supporters who helped push this measure through Congress.

The President encouraged employers to help their employees immediately with reducing the amount withheld for taxes from people's paychecks.

"It is only a first step on the road to economic recovery. And we cannot fail to complete the journey," said President Obama.

February 15, 2009

Scientist make leap toward curing common cold

Scientists from the University of Maryland and University of Wisconsin-Madison reported Thursday that they have mapped the entire genome of the common cold.

Also known as the human rhinovirus infection, the common cold costs the United States approximately $60 billion annually in medication costs, doctor visits and lost days of work.

CNN reported that the rhinovirus is made up of 99 different stains, which made the mapping of this virus more complex.

The mapping of the common cold will allow scientists to learn how the virus interacts with different people and how different strains are related.

These developments will allow pharmaceutical companies to start making new medicines that may help prevent or help combat the symptoms of the common cold.

February 6, 2009

Phelps disciplined for inhaling from pipe

Record winning Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was disciplined Thursday by USA Swimming and Kellogg pulled its sponsorship of the swimmer after he was photographed inhaling from a pipe.

The New York Times reported that after inhaling from a marijuana pipe Kellogg pulled it's sponsorship saying that "Micheal's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg."

USA Swimming suspended Phelps' monthly stipend, and banned him from competing for 3 months.

Phelps admitted the picture was authentic and from a party near the University of South Carolina after a British tabloid published the picture last week.

Some sponsors have accepted his apology, and others have still not decided whether they will pull their sponsorship.

February 1, 2009

400K remain without power from Kentucky storm

The governor of Kentucky is calling ice storm that hit his state last week the worst natural disaster in Kentucky's history, which called for 4,600 national guard troops to help with recovery on Sunday.

USA Today reports that the guardsmen went door to door throughout the hardest hit areas to make sure roads got cleared, people had water and food, and to provide security.

At the height of the crisis more than 700,000 people lost power, and 400,000 are still without it.

CNN.com reports that 92 of the states 120 counties had declared emergencies.

So far, 21 people are dead although it is unclear if all the deaths are a result of the storm. Some people have been killed because of carbon monoxide poisoning due to using generators indoors.