May 4, 2008

Atlas Statue in Rockefeller Center to be Restored

The New York Times reported that the four-story, seven-ton bronze statue of Atlas hoisting the world on his shoulders will receive a thorough cleaning.
The statue, designed by Lee Lawrie and Rene Chambellan, has sat in front of the International Building in Rockefeller Center since 1937. The Star Tribune reported that wax and lacquer have built up over the years, dulling the surface.
The cleaning, which will begin May 5, will last six weeks. EverGreene Painting Studios will use steam and solvents to clean the bronze, then apply a clear acrylic protective coating before hand waxing the piece.
Jeffery Greene, president of EverGreene Painting Studios, said the cleaning should bring out details, such as zodiac signs and artists’ tool marks, that have been hidden, the New York Times reported.
The statue had been regularly cleaned since its installation until at least the late 1980s, but this will be the statue’s most thorough restoration.

April 20, 2008

Man Wrongly Sentenced to Life in Prison Released

A 56-year-old man who had been sentenced to life in prison for a 1982 murder he didn’t commit was released from prison Friday, ABC News reported.
Alton Logan, who had spent 26 years in prison, was granted a new trial and released on bail after an attorney came forward with a confession from a client for the crime Logan was sent to jail for, CNN reported.
Logan had been found guilty of killing security guard Lloyd Wickliffe at a McDonald’s restaurant in January 1982, CNN reported.
According to ABC News, a month after Logan’s arrest, Andrew Wilson admitted to attorney Dale Covetry that he had killed Wickliffe.
Covetry described his conversation with Wilson: “We were told that you were the shooter at the McDonals’s. ‘Was that true?’ He said, ‘Uh huh.’ I said, ‘With a shotgun?’ You killed him with the shotgun?’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’? (ABC News)
However, attorney-client privilege forced Covetry to keep the confession a secret. Therefore, he wrote an affidavit that Wilson had committed the crime, ABC News reported. Covetry keep the affidavit locked up until Wilson’s death last year.
“How do you live with yourself having this secret?? Covetry said. “I couldn’t do anything legally or ethically. I represented Andrew Wilson.?
On Friday, Logan’s family cheered as he left prison, CNN reported. “All this time they knew, but they can say nothing,? Logan said (ABC News).
His family had planned a steak and lobster dinner for his first night home, CNN reported. “I’m going to turn him on to life,? Eugene Logan, Alton’s uncle, said. “We’re going to live it together.?

April 13, 2008

Rare Seahorses found in Thames

Colonies of the endangered short-snouted seahorses have been found living in the Thames River, the BBC reported. Scientists conducting routine surveys have found five seahorses in the river in the past 18 months, the Guardian reported.
This announcement came in the wake of the species gaining legal protection last month, the Guardian reported.
“Now they are protected, conservationists are more relaxed about telling the world they are there,? Alison Shaw, manager of the marine and freshwater conservation program and the London Zoo, said. (Guardian)
Under the law, anyone found killing, injuring or taking these animals would face a fine and six months of imprisonment, the Guardian reported.
BBC reported that the seahorses thrive in muddy, shallow waters or seagrass beds. They usually live around the Canary Islands or Italy, but their presence in the Thames indicates that the river’s water quality is improving.
“It demonstrates that the Thames is becoming a sustainable bio-diverse habitat for aquatic life,? Shaw said.

April 6, 2008

Malt-o-Meal Recalls Cereal due to Salmonella Risk

Malt-o-Meal recalled packages of its Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat cereals after internal tests found salmonella in the product produced March 24, the Star Tribune reported.
No illnesses have been reported and the company voluntarily issued the recall as a safety precaution.
United Press International reported that Malt-o-Meal issued a news release April 5 announcing the recall. Packages of the cereal with “Best if used by? dates between April 8, 2008 and March 18, 2009 were recalled immediately.
The cereal was released under both the Malt-o-Meal name and other private brands, the Star Tribune reported. A complete list of cereals affected by the recall is available on Malt-o-Meal’s Web site, United Press International reported.
Malt-o-Meal apologized April 5 for the incident. “Our first and highest priority is the safety of the consumers who use our products,? Malt-O-Meal President Chris Neugent said. “We … promise to do everything to complete the recall as quickly as possible.? (United Press International)

March 30, 2008

Author Clancy’s Home Damaged in Fire

A fire damaged author Tom Clancy’s Chesapeake Bay home around noon Saturday.
CNN reported that the fire caused $20,000 in damage, while the Baltimore Sun reported that the fire caused $10,000 in damage.
The fire started on a second-floor deck of the three-story stone house and then spread to home itself, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Both sources reported Clancy and his family was home at the time, but no one was injured. “The smoke alarms are what alerted him to the fact there was a fire,? Joe Zurolo, a spokesman for the Maryland fire marshal’s office, said. (Baltimore Sun)
The Baltimore Sun reported that it took 50 firefighters 10 minutes to get the fire under control. CNN said it took firefighters about 20 minutes.

March 15, 2008

Pygmy Hippos Caught on Tape in Liberia

The BBC reported that a team from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has filmed the rare pygmy hippo in its natural habitat. Images of the hippos, one of the world’s most secretive mammals, were captured within the first three days that the cameras were set up, CNN reported.
Less than 3000 pygmy hippos remain in the wild. This is due mainly to the Liberia’s two civil wars in which displaced people ate anything they could get their hands on. Illegal logging and poaching has also contributed to the animal’s low population.
The team set up the cameras in order to determine the extent of the damage these occurrences had on the hippo population. The cameras will now remain in place to help determine a conservation plan.
“We were delighted to discover that a population still persists there, but remain highly concerned for the species, which continues to face significant threats from poaching and habitat degradation,? Ben Collen, the leader of the ZSL team, said (CNN). As of today, only about 10 percent of the hippos’ natural habitat remains.
The pygmy hippo lives mostly in swamps and rivers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. It spends more time on land than its larger relative, grows to be about six feet in length and can weigh 300 pounds.

March 9, 2008

England Discovers Six-Legged “Hexapus?

The Blackpool Sea Life Center in northwest England has an odd addition to its new exhibit “Suckers.? Henry, the world’s first known six-legged octopus was found two weeks ago in a lobster pot off the coast of north Wales and has since made his home at the centre, Telegraph reported. Marine experts are calling the creature a “hexapus,? CNN reported.
Researchers have attributed Henry’s missing limbs to a genetic defect rather than an injury, CNN said. “If you look closer between the legs, there's webbing that attaches each of the arms together,? John Filmer of the Sea Life Centre said. “You'd assume if he'd lost one of his legs in an accident, there would be space for an arm to grow back.?
The Sea Life Centre received Henry in a shipment with seven other octopuses from the Angleasey Sea Zoo.
Telegraph reported that it was staff at the Sea Life Centre who first noticed Henry’s anomaly. The BBC reported that the Angleasey Sea Zoo noticed his missing limbs first. CNN remained vague on the issue, saying only that Henry’s difference was noticed when he attached himself to the glass tank.
CNN reported that the name Henry was chosen because of its alliteration with “hexapus? or as a reference to King Henry VIII who had six wives when he should have had eight.

February 28, 2008

Starbucks Closes Stores Nationwide for Employee Training Session

Company-owned Starbucks coffee houses across the nation closed for a 3 ½-hour employee training session Tuesday evening, the Guardian reported. Company chairman Howard Schultz ordered the session earlier this month in an effort to boost sagging sales.
According to Schultz, the session will retrain 135,000 employees “to pull the perfect shot, steam milk to order and customize [a customer’s] favorite beverage? (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). The baristas will learn to rinse the pitchers and shot glasses out and wipe the steamer wands off after each drink, the Star Tribune reported.
“The comprehensive educational curriculum for all U.S. store partners will provide a renewed focus on espresso standards that will help ensure the exceptional quality of every beverage,? Schultz said. (Star Tribune)
Starbucks shares fell 42 percent last year and the company saw a 1 percent decrease in the average number of transactions per store, the Guardian said. In addition to the training session, Starbucks is cutting 600 jobs, offering free wireless internet, and discontinuing hot breakfast sandwiches because they cover up the aroma of the coffee.
Smaller coffee chains jumped on the chance to boost sales while their biggest competitor had locked its doors for the evening. Dunkin Donuts stores sold lattes and cappuccinos for 99 cents, according to the Star Tribune. The Guardian reported that Los Angeles-based Coffee Klatch gave free coffee to its customers.

February 24, 2008

Ruby-Oswald Transcript Deemed Fake

A transcript claiming to outline a conversation between Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald in which Oswald plots the assassination of John F. Kennedy has been deemed a fake, CNN reported. The transcript was presented by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins at a news conference Monday.
Watkins said the transcript was likely part of an abandoned film called “Countdown in Dallas? that former Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade, Ruby’s prosecutor, proposed to make, the Guardian reported. Wade discusses the film in letters found with the transcript.
The transcript supposedly records a conversation between Oswald and Ruby that took place Oct. 4, 1963 at Ruby’s nightclub, CNN reported. However, it is well-documented that Oswald was in Irving, Texas that night.
The transcript quotes Oswald as saying, “I can still do it, all I need is my rifle and a tall building; but it will take time, maybe six months to find the right place; but I'll have to have some money to live on while I do the planning.? (Star Tribune)
“It’s not real,? Terri Moore, Watkins’ top assistant, said. “Crooks don't talk like that.? (Guardian)
The document was found locked in a Dallas County courthouse safe that also contained Ruby’s gun holster and brass knuckles, clothing that belonged to Oswald and Ruby, letters to Ruby from Wade, and a movie contract signed by Wade, the Star Tribune reported. These objects have been found to be genuine, the Guardian reported.
“[The transcript] will open up the debate again about whether there was a conspiracy,? Watkins said. (Star Tribune)

February 17, 2008

Animal Rights Groups Upset by Elephant’s Pregnancy

Animal rights groups are upset that the Taronga Zoo in Sydney has allowed a 9-year-old endangered Asian elephant to become pregnant, the Daily Mail reported. It is “the equivalent of allowing your 12-year-old daughter to become pregnant,? Erica Martin, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifew), said (BBC).
The elephant, called Thong Dee, was brought to the zoo from Thailand in 2006. Ifew says that elephants in captivity should be at least 11 years old before reproducing.
Australia's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the pregnancy may prove unhealthy for both mother and baby. "Thong Dee's age and lack of maternal and social experience make this pregnancy very risky,? Bidda Jones, the society’s chief scientist, said (Daily Mail).
The zoo is standing behind their decision. Lucy Melo, the senior keeper at the zoo, told the BBC that they consulted with elephant reproductive specialists and were told that the elephant was ready for breeding.
“The well-being of all animals in our care is of paramount importance," Guy Cooper, the zoo’s director, said (Daily Mail).
The zoo announced that Thong Dee was five months into her 22 month pregnancy Wednesday, the Daily Mail reported. They released ultrasound pictures and said the birth would be a “historic event? because it would be the first captive birth of an elephant in Australia (Daily Mail).

February 7, 2008

Tattooing Vaccines May be More Effective

German scientists said that tattooing a vaccine into the skin may be more effective than simply injecting it, the BBC reported.
In tests done on mice, the scientists found 16 times more antibodies when the vaccine was tattooed. More antibodies mean a higher response from the immune system to the vaccine.
A possible reason that tattooing may be more effective is that the vibrating needle damages the skin more than an injection. “This affects the immune cells, which then look out for antigens,? Martin Mueller of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg told Reuters.
The vaccine measures about a centimeter square, uses no ink, and leaves no permanent mark.
The German scientists injected the mice with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, but Reuters reported that the new technique could be used for everything from flu to cancer.
Because of the pain involved with receiving the vaccine, it may not be suitable for children. However, the technique could be used in the vaccination of animals.

February 3, 2008

Texas Mayor Resigns after Stealing Neighbor’s Dog

The mayor of a small town in Texas resigned Friday after being indicted on one count of tampering with evidence and one count of concealing evidence, the BBC reported. Alice Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez published her letter of resignation, effective February 1 at midnight, in the Alice Echo News Journal.
Neighbors had asked Lopez to look after their Shih Tzu, Puddles, last summer while they went on vacation. Lopez told them the dog had died and she had buried it in her back yard. However, the dog, whom Lopez renamed Panchito, was later spotted at a groomer’s and at Lopez’s sister’s house.
Lopez’s charges carry a possible sentence of two to ten years in prison, the Alice Echo News Journal reported. On Monday, a custody hearing will decide who will keep the dog.
“I did at the time what I thought was best for Panchito and what I
felt was right in my heart,? Lopez said in her letter of resignation. “I am sorry for the division that the events of these last few weeks have caused. It was never
my intent to bring any negative exposure to our City.?