March 2011 Archives

Minnesota Identical Quadruplets Get Reality Show

A new reality TV show presents the Durst quadruplets from Buffalo, Minnesota as the four girls finish up high school.
The show on the Lifetime channel, "Four of a Kind", showcases 18 year olds Kendra, Calli, Sarah and Megan and how even with their identical red hair and freckles they are completely different from each other reported the Star Tribune.
The girls have spent most of their lives together including those spent in the spotlight. Even before they were born their mother Naomi Durst was constantly asked when they were going to be delivered as she beat the odds of one in 700,000 by having quadruplets without using fertility drugs reported the Star Tribune.
The show, which first episode aired March 15th, focuses on the girls' relationships with one another and their many conflicts and also the not yet determined future of the girls.
Upon seeing the show classmates were surprised to see how the girls are constantly fighting and how crude their behavior can be reported KARE 11 news.
According to KARE 11 the Lifetime film crew spent three months with the family, who agreed to the show after being told a considerable amount of their colleges would be paid for by participating.
Since the girls were little when they first appeared on high profile talk shows including "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno the show is planning on showing the girls realistically.

Richard Leacock, Documentary Maker, Dies

Innovative documentary maker Richard Leacock died Wednesday at his home in Paris at 89 years old.
Leacock helped create the documentary style known as direct camera and played a central role in making some of the most cutting edge documentaries of the 1960s reported the New York Times. He was also involved in the developing the small, lightweight camera and sound equipment that led to a new style of filmmaking.
According to BBC News he also solved the puzzle of how to sync speech and video by inventing a system using Bulova watches, which was immediately put to use on his films.
Ever since making his first documentary at the age of 14 Leacock looked for ways that would allow the camera to function as an unblinking observer and let stories tell themselves and to convey "the feeling of being there", a saying he found often reported the New York Times.
The work he did on film, including what he did on the 1960 Kennedy film "Primary", led the way for new wave directors reported BBC News. The film, shot by Leacock and others, recorded the Democratic primary in Wisconsin that matched John F. Kennedy against Hubert H. Humphrey and showed revealing scenes of the candidates was something new to journalistic filmmaking.
According to the NY Times Leacock was born in London on July 18, 1921 and spent his childhood in the Canary Islands where he made films about living on his father's banana plantation and the Galapagos Islands. He then enrolled at Harvard University to study physics and master the technology of filmmaking and also spent time outside of school working as a cameraman and assistant editor on several documentaries before enlisting in the United States Army to serve as a combat photographer.
Once he returned to the U.S. from China and Burma he went on to work with Robert Flaherty, which led him to develop hand-held cameras and recorders that could capture images and sound at the same time reported the NY Times. Afterwards he used this technology to make two of the most gripping documentaries to come out of the direct camera movement.
Leacock then taught at the film school at M.I.T before moving to Paris to work on more films. He is survived by his six children and nine grandchildren.

Legendary Actress Elizabeth Taylor Dies

Stage and screen star Elizabeth Taylor died Wednesday at the age of 79 in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Taylor had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center six weeks earlier for congestive heart failure which unfortunately led to complications leading to her death said her publicist, Sally Morrison.
Taylor had led an almost 70 year long career and was a part of more than 50 films, two of which she won Academy Awards for reported the New York Times. She performed alongside many famous leading men at the time and for well known directors which only made her gain more popularity in the industry and across the country.
Although she was praised by her directors the critics were more reserved in their compliments, which could've been because of her overpowering beauty reported the New York Times. Taylor lacked in training, but still managed to have a large range of acting including heartbreakers and victims to her well known role as Cleopatra.
Taylor started out as a child star, but gained a reputation for being a femme fatale, which critics claim added to her on screen performances reported the LA Times. A passionate collector of jewelry and men Taylor lived to marry eight times.
Taylor was born in London on February 27, 1932, the second child of American parents, Francis Lenn Taylor, an art dealer from New York and Sara Viola Warmbrodt, more widely known as Sara Sothern the stage actress. She spent most of her childhood in London before moving back to the U.S with her family before World War II reported the NY Times.
Later in life she became a social activist and went on to establish the American Foundation for AIDS Research and helped raise money for it by using her fame to help others reported the NY Times. According the LA Times Taylor raised more than $270 million for AIDS prevention and care.
Despite her good looks and fame she did attract misfortune as she suffered more than 70 illnesses, injuries and accidents requiring hospitalization before she let it be known in 2004 that she had congestive heart failure which caused her death reported the LA Times. Taylor is survived by her two sons and two daughters, 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

First Woman on Major Party Bid Geraldine A. Ferraro Dies

Geraldine A. Ferraro, the first woman to be on a major party bid died Saturday morning at age 75 after a 12 year battle with blood cancer.
Ferraro was a surprise choice for Walter F. Mondale's vice president in 1984, but with the help of feminist support, political skills and Democratic strategy she gained national prominence reported the New York Times.
As a former congresswoman for Queens and criminal prosecutor Ferraro seemed to have a better feel for urban ward politics than for international diplomacy, but she proved to be a fast learner. According to the New York Times she traveled a 50,000 miles campaign, spoke in 85 cities and raised $6 million while also gaining around 55% of the women's vote.
The trailblazer for women in politics died at Massachusetts General Hospital where she had gone Monday for a procedure to relieve back pain caused by a fracture, which is common in people with her type of blood cancer reported USA Today.
Born in Newburgh, New York on August 26, 1935 to Italian immigrant Dominick Ferraro she worked hard in school and earned a scholarship to Marymount College. She graduated in 1956 and became a grade school teacher until she decided to apply to law school, which she graduated from in 1960 as one of two women in a class of 179 reported the New York Times.
Once she married John Zaccaro she dedicated the first 13 years to take care of her family before getting in local politics. According to the New York Times Ferraro won a seat in the House in 1978 where she worked on the Economic Equity Act and the Democratic platform committee which gained attention from Mondale and led to his offer of vice presidential bid in 1984.
Despite claiming that the only reason she became a vice presidential nominee was because she was a woman she still paved the way for woman to make a name for themselves in politics. Ferraro is survived by her husband, three children and eight grandchildren.

Volcano eruption brings more misfortune to Japan

The Shinmoedake volcano in southern Japan began to spew ash and rock Sunday while the rest of the country is continuing to struggle in the wake of a disastrous earthquake and tsunami.
The volcano located on Japan's Kyushu island, which is 950 miles from the epicenter of Friday's earthquake, caused the Meteorological Agency to issue a warning Sunday saying that the volcano had resumed activity after a couple of quiet weeks reported the Star Tribune.
The Los Angeles Times reported that this eruption is the biggest volcanic activity in Shinmoedake in 52 years, and caused widespread destruction and panic. The blast, itself, could be heard for miles, and had shattered windows four miles away.
Hirokazu Taniyama, an official in Miyazaki, said that 612 people stayed in elementary schools for the night after the increase in volcanic activity, but that nobody has been injured in the eruptions reported USA Today.
The LA Times reported that officials are unsure if the volcano's eruptions are linked to the earthquake that occurred Friday as Japan does lie on the "ring of fire," a seismically active zone where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

Latest Minnesota GOP proposal to cut local aid

The newest Minnesota House proposal would cut state funding for cities and counties, much of it coming from Minneapolis, St. Paul and their surrounding suburbs.
The GOP members of the House Property Tax and Local Sales Tax Division created the proposal, which would cut nearly $300 million from local government aid and promptly cut half of metro suburbs' state help and a quarter of big cities' aid from the state reported the Star Tribune.
The Pioneer Press reported that the Republicans have said that the cuts in local aid are needed to help close Minnesota's budget shortfall, but the plan's chance of succeeding are low since Gov. Mark Dayton has been a strong supporter of state aid to local governments. Mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis rejected the proposal as it would also cut $118.7 million from a program that gives low- and middle-income renters a tax refund to offset property taxes.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak called the proposal "a blatant attempt to divide communities from each other" reported the Pioneer Press.
Keith Hovis, a spokesman for St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, told the Pioneer Press that the cuts would affect core services residents have come to expect since local government aid supports law enforcement, firefighters and snow-plowing and other services.
With little support from mayors and the governor the proposal doesn't seem to have any luck in passing.

Wisconsin approves bill to limit the power of unions

The Wisconsin Assembly approved the bill to cut bargaining rights for most government workers Thursday.
The bill was approved with a vote 53-42 after three weeks of turmoil and protests much to the dismay of the Assembly's Democrats reported USA Today. Fourteen of the Democratic Senators even left the state to prevent the chamber from having enough legislators to take a vote however the Republicans sidestepped the Senate's requirement for a quorum to deal with measures that spend money, so the bill could pass with only a simple majority, even without the Democrats.
The New York Times reported that the bill alters many public-sector union rules, limiting bargaining to matters of wages and limiting raises to changes in the Consumer Price Index, while also ending the state's collection of union dues from paychecks.
The bill would end up saving Wisconsin $150 million a year by having state and local government employees contribute 10% of their pay to pension and health care benefits, which is currently informally accepted by unions reported USA Today.
The move by the Republicans has caused union leaders to plan a counterattack in the 2012 elections and the Democrats have already seen a great effect in the their efforts in the form of donations, a $800,000 in just five days reported the Star Tribune.

Earthquake and Tsunami devastate Japan

A 8.9 earthquake and following tsunami brought hundreds of deaths and devastating destruction to the northeastern coast of Japan Friday afternoon.
The New York Times reported that the earthquake is the strongest ever recorded in Japan that ended up destroying thousands of homes, making roads unusable and causing power to go down. The earthquake was so forceful that it caused as high as 30 feet waves on to the shore.
In the coastal cities that were hit many citizens are found stranded without shelter, food or water, but the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 500,000 citizens have been evacuated from the regions affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Since the initial earthquake there have been 40 aftershocks varying in magnitude and it is expected to have even more in the next few days reported the Los Angels Times.
Adding to the destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami there is a growing fear that the two have done damage to the nuclear plants that may put to a risk to the people of being exposed to radiation reported the LA Times.
The government has done its best to send aid to the people by doubling the number of soldiers deployed in the aid effort to 100,000 and sent blankets, bottles of water, gasoline reported the Star Tribune.

Capitol to determine legal time to abort

Republican legislatures in Minnesota are following fellow states as they are trying to outlaw abortions 20 weeks after fertilization.
Since gaining the majority of the state Senate and the House of Representatives the Republicans have reignited the abortion debate, the Minnesota Daily reported.
The proposed bill is based after a law taken on by Nebraska that bans abortions after 20 weeks because that is when developing fetuses can feel pain, or so supporters say, reported the Star Tribune. The Minnesota Daily reported that Minnesota law currently prohibits the abortion of a fetus that could survive outside the womb.
The bill does have room for exceptions to the 20 week mark, but only to women who would risk death or serious physical harm by carrying the pregnancy full term, as Sen. Warren Limmer and co-sponsor of the bill told the Star Tribune. However NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota pointed out to the Star Tribune that the bill makes no exception for women who are victims of rape or incest.
The bill has strong supporters and opponents including a man who has a strong say in the bill's future. The Star Tribune reported that Gov. Mark Dayton would veto any attempt to remove the Constitutional right to choose to abort in Minnesota and that there seems to be little hope of altering Dayton's view.

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