Recently in Notable Category

US life expectancy dropped, health experts say

by Shannon Lee
Life expectancy in the United States fell in 2008 according to a report released by the National Center for Health.
The life expectancy in 2008 dropped to 77.8 years old from 77.9 years old in 2007, or the equivalency of one month.
The decline corresponded with the first full year of the recession and health experts told MSNBC it was a cause for concern.
Although life expectancy was lower, the report also showed that serious illness such as heart disease and cancer did not kill as many people as in 2007, reported MSNBC.
The number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes also fell significantly. Christopher J. Ruhm, an economist and professor at the University of North Carolina, attributed it to the economy as well, reported MSNBC. People do not drive as often during a recession, so there are less vehicles on the road and less accidents, Ruhm said.
Arialdi Minino, a statistician who worked on the report, told the Washington Post the life expectancy drop was too small to indicate a larger trend.
"You can't tell until you have more data points," Minino said.

German man charged with smuggling tarantulas to the US

by Shannon Lee
A German man was arrested and charged Friday with illegally mailing over 500 live tarantulas to the United States.
Authorities began investigating Sven Koppler, 37, in March when 300 live tarantulas were discovered during a standard international package check.
Agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set up a sting operation and intercepted more packages.
One package contained 22 Mexican red-kneed tarantulas, a species that is considered threatened and cannot be legally traded without a permit, reported AOL News.
Koppler reportedly received $300,000 from the sales. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times Koppler sold tarantulas to "dozens of countries, including to about nine people in the U.S."
If convicted, Koppler faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

FDA put pressure on alcoholic energy drink makers

by Shannon Lee
The Food and Drug Administration warned beverage companies Wednesday that the alcoholic energy drinks they manufacture are dangerous substances.
The FDA told four companies that they had 15 days to stop selling the beverages.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said the FDA decided caffeine was an illegal additive to alcoholic drinks because it masks the effects of alcohol, the Seattle Times reported.
Alcoholic energy drinks have been popular on college campuses, but have gotten negative press in recent months. One student died and others were rushed to the hospital after drinking caffeinated alcoholic beverages.
Critics argue that a ban on the drinks goes too far and that people should be allowed to make their own decision on whether or not to purchase them. Some also feel that a ban will just make the drinks more alluring and motivate people to make them on their own, reported the Washington Post.
The drinks are already banned in four states, and one manufacturer, Phusion Projects, said it would stop putting caffeine in its drinks.

Heavy snow caused delays and power outages in the Twin Cities

by Shannon Lee
A snowstorm hit the Twin Cities Saturday morning, leaving nearly a foot of snow in certain parts of the metro area and over 44,000 Xcel Energy customers without power.
Xcel spokesman Jim Hoen told the Pioneer Press the company had every available crew member working to repair the widespread power outages, but that it will be difficult until the snow lets up.
The storm also slowed down Saturday commuters. The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport had to manage ground delays, while the Minnesota State Patrol responded to over 300 crashes and nearly 400 vehicles off the road, reported the Pioneer Press.
Greg Spoden, who works at the State Climatology Office, told the Star Tribune the storm will likely be the biggest one to hit the metro area before Thanksgiving since the 1991 "Halloween monster."
The storm is expected to pass by Sunday morning, with the possibility of flurries on Monday or Tuesday.

Brainerd woman ordered to pay for file sharing

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by Shannon Lee
A federal jury determined Jammie Thomas-Rasset, of Brainerd, had to pay $1.5 million for downloading and sharing 24 songs via the Internet.
This was Thomas-Rassets third trial in three years since recording companies filed a complaint against her in April 2006. Her attorney, Kiwi Camera, said he planned to appeal the decision on account of the penalty being unreasonable, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Camera acknowledged that although Thomas-Rasset may have illegally shared the songs, "that doesn't mean they can take her head and stick it up on a pole," the Star Tribune reported.
The Recording Industry Association of America tried to settle with Thomas-Rasset after the second trial for $25,000, but she refused. Cara Duckworth, spokeswoman for the RIAA, told the Star Tribune the company is thankful to the jury and they hope Thomas-Rasset "finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

Washington boy accidentally shoots mother

by Shannon Lee
A 4-year-old boy in Gig Harbor, Wash. loaded a handgun and accidentally shot his mother Monday afternoon.
The mother was talking on the phone with her back turned to the boy. She did not hear him and had no idea her son had access to the gun, reported CBS news. No one else was home at the time.
The boy's father admitted to have previously given his son live ammunition. He told the Seattle Times he did not know the boy kept the ammunition, and is "kicking himself" for giving it to him.
No arrests have been made, but prosecutors could file a negligence charge when the investigation is complete.
Kitsap County Sheriff's Office spokesman Scott Wilson told the Seattle Times the little boy is feels very upset he shot his mother.
The mother sustained injuries, but is expected to be released from the hospital next Monday.

Jimmy Johns employees vote on unionization

by Shannon Lee
Two hundred employees at the Twin Cities fast food chain Jimmy Johns were eligible to vote today on the nation's first fast food union.
Several workers complained about low standards in their work environment, prompting them to form the Jimmy Johns Workers Union.
Not all employees believe that unionizing will improve working conditions, MPR reported.
Mike Mulligan, president of the group of stores, told MPR he believes most employees are treated fairly for the line of work they do.
But Uptown employees Davis Ritsema told MPR that "conditions are pretty terrible," and that he plans to vote 'yes' to the union.
Ayo Collins, another employee, told Kare 11 he hopes their efforts will inspire other fast food workers in the nation to unionize.
The Bureau of National Affairs reported that union members earn an average of $2.36 more per hour than non-union workers, according to Kare 11.

High School shut down after chemical spill

by Shannon Lee
Edina High School and a nearby middle school were evacuated Friday morning after a custodian reported a spill in a storage room.
Around 8 a.m. the schools e-mailed families to let them know about the spill, reported WCCO.
Students and staff were sent to two church parking lots while firefighters and a chemical team assessed the spill, reported the Star Tribune.
Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Todd told the Star Tribune that a blocked pipeline caused clear liquid to leak.
Superintendent Ric Dressen told families that the spill was "nontoxic," according to the Star Tribune.
Classes will resume on Monday, but the High Schools homecoming dance on Saturday will be moved to the local community center.
No injuries were reported.

Police on alert for "peeping tom"

by Shannon Lee
People living near St. Thomas reported a man recording residents through their windows on the 1800 block of Portland Avenue in the last two weeks.
"I just feel really unsafe and I feel like I'm always being watched," a victim, who asked to be unidentified, told Kare11.
St. Paul police have increased patrols in the neighborhood, and St. Thomas University has issued a campuswide alert, reported the Pioneer Press.
The suspect is described as a 20- to 30-year-old white male with dark hair and a taller, fit build, according to Kare11.

Rutgers student dies after privacy invasion

by Shannon Lee
New Jersey authorities have recovered the body of a Rutgers University student who jumped off a bridge Sept. 22, three days after two other students secretly video taped him during a sexual encounter with another man.
The victim's friends and family describes Tyler Clementi, 18, as friendly, shy and a talented musician, reported the New York Times.
Shortly before Clementi jumped, he posted to his facebook account, "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry," according to the Chicago Tribune. A facebook tribute page was set up Wednesday for friends to honor his memory.
Clementi's roommate, Dharun Rowi, 18, and his friend Molly Wei, 18, have been charged with invasion of privacy. Prosecuting spokesperson James O'Neill told the New York Times the investigation is still ongoing. If convicted, the students could face up to five years in jail.

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