Recently in National News Category

Roger Ebert Learns To Speak Through Computers

Movie critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak after undergoing Jaw surgery, but proved that he could overcome his loss by speaking through a computer in a talk at the TED 2011 Conference in Long Beach, California.
According to Time, Ebert is now one of the most dominating voices online and commands huge audiences to his Twitter feed and his blog, and is able to type his words into his Mac computer which reads it out.
Ebert recruited his wife and his educators John Hunter and Dr. Dean Ornish to read his story of cancer and communication, as his friends read, Ebert contributed with goofy gestures to show his humor, Time reported.
"These are my words, but this is not my voice," Ebert told the audience of nearly 2,000, CNN reported. "This is Alex, the best computer voice I've been able to find, which comes as standard equipment on every Macintosh. For most of my life, I never gave a second thought to my ability to speak. It was like breathing. In those days, I was living in a fool's paradise. After surgeries for cancer took away my ability to speak, eat or drink, I was forced to enter this virtual world in which a computer does some of my living for me."
Ebert said he used to communicate by writing in notebooks then used a computer voice he found online with a British accent, but then eventually settled on the Alex voice, CNN reported.

Mother Drives Herself and Four Children into Hudson River

A mother and her three children died after she drove her minivan vehicle with her four children into the Hudson River on Tuesday, one of her 10-year-old sons escaped.
"If I'm going to die, you're going to die with me," Lashanda Armstrong told the children before the vehicle sank to the bottom of the river, the only surviving child told authorities, the NY Daily News reported.
According to the NY Daily News, Lashaun, Armstrong's 10-year-old son, escaped the sinking minivan by opening a power window and swimming to safety in the two minutes that it took for the minivan to sink.
"He was screaming for help," Meave Ryan, a good samaritan who took Lashaun to a nearby firehouse, told The New York Times. "He said, 'My mommy just drove the car in the water.'"
According to The New York Times, the minivan was in eight feet of water with Lashaun's mother still inside with her three other childen. The police identified the children as Landen Pierre, 5; Lance Pierre, 2; and Lainaina Pierre, 11 months.
"There was an argument about cheating, that his stepfather was cheating on his mother," Ryan told the New York Times, according to Lashaun.
According to The New York Times, Lashaun told Ryan that his mother had called a relative and said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to do something crazy, you have to forgive me."
A relative called police before the incident and reported a "domestic disturbance" that may have involved Armstrong's husband, CNN reported.
Members of the Armstrong family released three star-shaped white balloons on Wednesday at the boat ramp where the van went into the water, the NY Daily News reported.

Tornado Damages Over Half of Iowa Town

A tornado hit the small town of Mapleton, Iowa Saturday night causing substantial damages.
"It was huge, just huge," Thomas Mohrhauser, an attorney in the town of about 1,200 people, told the Associated Press. "It just kept getting bigger and bigger."
According to Fox News, Monona County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Krohn told the Sioux City Journal that 60 percent of the town of Mapleton may have been damaged or destroyed by the tornado.
The roof of a high school was blown off, power lines were downed, and several homes and buildings were destroyed, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Associated Press, three people were treated for minor injuries at Burgess Health Center, about 20 miles from Mapleton.
Weather service meteorologist, Frank Boksa, issued a disaster proclamation for Monona County which allowed the state to spend money to respond to the storm, USA Today explained.
According to the Associated Press, Mohrhauser said the tornado appeared to be about a quarter-mile wide.

Iconic Film Director Sidney Lumet Dies at 86

Sidney Lumet, director of "12 Angry Men," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network," died Saturday at 86.
His daughter, Jenny Lumet, told CNN he died of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at 3:40 a.m. ET and that he was surrounded by his family at the time of his death.
According to The Detroit News, Lumet grew up in New York during the Depression and developed a passionate interest in what he saw as a flawed judicial system saying he was drawn to "films of conscience" that would encourage introspection.
Lumet worked with Hollywood's most well-known names including Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Al Pacino, Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Robert Duvall, and Faye Dunaway, the Huffington Post reported.
"I was privileged to work with him on four additional films including 'The Wiz'," Quincy Jones, Grammy Award-winning producer, said to CNN. "Future generations of filmmakers will look to Sidney's work for guidance and inspiration, but there will never be another who comes close to him."
According to CNN, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Lumet as "one of the great chroniclers" of New York City due to his films often using the city as both settting and as a figurative character.

Nicholas Maxim, a 10-year-old boy born without hands and lower arms, received an award Monday for his participation in an annual National Handwriting Contest.
Cheryl Hasenful, principle of Readfield school where Maxim attends, was so impressed with his handwriting that she entered a sample in educational publisher Zaner-Bloser's National Handwriting Contest, AOL News reported.
"We submitted his entry because we felt his penmanship was amazing considering he completes most of his work without using his prostheses," Hasenfus told CNN.
According to CNN, Maxim writes by holding a pen or pencil between his upper arms.
"It started with coloring," Terri Maxim, Nicholas' mother, told AOL News. "He does that in his spare time. It's not typical. He watches them and keeps up with the sports, but his true love, besides football and baseball, is writing."
According to the Washington Post, the judges who sifted through 200,000 handwriting entries in the contest, were so impressed by Maxim that they created a new category for students with disabilities.
The Washington Post reported that the judges said the new category for students with disabilities would inspire others.

Possible Violation of Title IX for Yale University

The Office of Civil Rights announced on Thursday the investigation of Yale University for possible violation of Title IX.
According to the Huffington Post, 16 Yale students submitted a complaint two weeks earlier arguing that Yale is a sexually hostile environment that prevents women from participating in campus life fully as men.
According to Yale Daily News, while there have been many students who support this, "many students feel that so much focus on public incidents of sexual harassment, which they see as examples of 'boys being boys,' takes away from what they feel is the far more pressing matter of physical sexual assault on campus."
ABC News reported that there were complaints in September 2009 that a group of male Yale students circulated an email that included a list of 53 freshmen women ranking them in order of "how many beers it would take to have sex with them."
"I feel like because I have had to deal with certain sexual misconduct from my peers that I don't have equal access," Hannah Zeavin, one of the 16 students who are complainants in the case, told ABC News. "I can't sleep well anymore and when I walk around Yale campus at night I'm scared."
If Yale is found to violate Title IX and fails to come into compliance, it's federal funding (which was $510.4 million last year) will be revoked, explained the Huffington Post.

McRunner Eats Only McDonalds for Marathon

Joe D'Amico, 36, trained for the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, a 26.2 mile race, by eating a diet that consisted only of McDonalds.
"I'm not out to prove anything or disprove anything," D'Amico said to ABC News. "It's really an experiment of one."
D'Amico, a marathon runner and suburban dad from Palatine, Ill., documented his McDonalds diet in his blog, "Confessions of a Drive-Thru Runner," reported ABC News.
D'Amico's blog incorporated everything he ate, which includes 91 hotcakes, 24 orders of oatmeal, 23 hamburgers, 24 chicken "Snack Wraps" and lots of McDonald's cookies, the Huffington Post reported.
NBC Chicago reported that he ran about 349 miles in a one-month period while his mornings were marked with orange juice, hot cakes and an Egg McMuffin.
"I felt the need to challenge myself and decided to combine two things I love: McDonald's and running," D'Amico said to the Daily Herald. "My wife said I was crazy, so that solidified it for me."
According to the Huffington Post, Palatine Patch reports that D'Amico ended up raising more than $26,000 for Ronald McDonald's charities.
The runner pledged to donate $1 per Facebook fan on his McRunner page through March 20 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and raise an addition $2,500 via his fundraising page, donations came rolling in when news of his story spread, the Huffington Post explained.

First Female VP Candidate Dies at 75

Geraldine Ferraro, who was chosen as Walter Mondale's running mate in the 1984 presidential race, died Saturday at the age of 75.
Ferraro died of blood cancer in Boston and was the first woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, reported the Star Tribune.
Mondale, in a phone interview with the Star Tribune Saturday, said he last spoke to Ferraro two weeks ago by phone. They had the opportunity to say their final goodbyes, he said.
The Associated Press described Ferraro as "a barrier-breaking pioneer for women in politics."
"At the time it happened it was such a phenomenal breakthrough," Ruth Mandel, from the Center on the American Woman and Politics at Rutgers University, told the Associated Press. "She stepped on the path to higher office before anyone else, and her footprint is still on that path."
Mondale chose Ferraro to run with him against Republican incumbents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, the Star Tribune reported.
"She was a pioneer in our country for justice for women and a more open society. She broke a lot of molds and it's a better country for what she did," Mondale told The Associated Press.

California Man Dies Photographing Tsunami

A man died in northern California's Del Norte County after being swept out to sea from a beach while trying to photograph the incoming tsunami waves of Japan.
According to My Fox Phoenix, the man, 25, and two of his friends were swept into the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Two of the individuals were able to swim back to shore, but the body of the third man was found near the mouth of the Klamath River, according to CNN.
"The northern California coast is a very unforgiving maritime environment on a good day," Lt. Todd Vorenkamp, a Coast Guard spokesman, told CNN. "It happens more times than you think when a person gets washed away by a wave."
ABC News reports that the man was the only reported casualty of the 500 mph waves that reached as high as 9 feet across the Pacific.
"The shoreline here is a dangerous, treacherous place on a good day," Vorenkamp told CNN. "And with a tsunami warning, it's exponentially worse."

Lady Gaga Breaks Deal with Target

On Wednesday, a representative of Lady Gaga revealed that she ended her marketing partnership with Target a few weeks ago because of Target's support for anti-gay political candidates.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, Target contributed $150,000 to a Minnesota group that supports Republican candidate Tom Emmer, who is opposed to same-sex marriage. Target fought back by saying the donation was motivated by business interests.
Target and Lady Gaga had been negotiating a deal which would put an exclusive version of her upcoming CD "Born This Way" on sale in Target stores in May, the NY Daily News reported. Gaga, an outspoken activist for gay rights, reconsidered this negotiation after fans voiced their opinions.
"Part of my deal with Target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they've made in the past," Gaga told Billboard magazine. "Our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they've made supporting those [antigay] groups."
Minnesota Public Radio reported that Target was disappointed and surprised by the statements made by Lady Gaga's representatives.
"Target gets a pretty black mark on its record," Greg Kott, a music critic with the Chicago Tribune told Minnesota Public radio. "I think that she exposed this part of their thinking and the way they disperse their funds is certainly going to make people think twice about Target now."

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