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October 26, 2008

Bright lights at Mayo bad for the birds

A local Audobon Society in Rochester is urging the Mayo Clinic to consider dimming the lights on their buildings, fearing it is adding to the increased rate of pigeon casualties, reported the Associated Press.

For 10 months, volunteers from the Zumbro Valley Audobon Society found a total of 231 killed or injured birds around the grounds of the Mayo Clinic.

The Clinic agreed to turn off some lights the Gonda Building, but the volunteers are hoping for more.

The Audobon people suspect the upward-facing lights on some of the buildings draw birds into downtown at night. They also believe the lights cause them to crash into reflective windows, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported.

Heart device recalled

The medical device compnay, Thoratec Corp., has ordered a recall of a certain implanted heart device, saying five people have died from using the device, the company said in a statement issued Friday.

In those five cases, the devices could not be replaced and the patients died, the company said in an Associated Press article.

The recall affects devices with catalog numbers 1355 and 102139. Since the beginning of November 2003, they have been distributed to 153 hospitals and companies nationally and internationally.

A Thoratec spokeswoman did not respond immediately to a call seeking additional comment Sunday, the article reported.

Scientists create tomato that fights cancer

A genetically engineered purple tomato was found to help prevent cancer in mice, British researches said Sunday.

The tomatoes were engineered to contain nutrients more commonly seen in dark berries, the researchers said in a .

The study focused on a type of antioxidant found in berries such as blackberries and blackcurrants.

The antioxidants, anthocyanins, have been shown to lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.

The researchers discovered they could get the tomatoes to make anthocyanins by using the same genes that helped color the snapdragon flower. This process then turned the tomato purple.

The mice fed the purple tomato lived an average of 182 days, compared to the 142 day life span of the animals on the regular diet, researchers said.

"It is enormously encouraging," Cathie Martin from the government-funded John Innes Center in Britain said in a telephone interview.

The researchers cautioned that human trials are a long way off.

October 19, 2008

Controversies delay highly anticipated LittleBigPlanet game

One of the biggest game releases has been delayed in Australia because a background song could have caused offense to Muslim players, reported The Age, an Australian online daily newspaper.

Sony is recalling all copies of LittleBigPlanet that had been sent to retailers and is manufacturing new discs of the PlayStation 3 blockbuster. The offending music track will be removed from the new version.

The offensive track contains two sentences that are found in the Koran. According to Muslims, is is viewed as deeply disrespectful to mix music and the words of the Koran together.

The offending musical track was in the first level of the third world in the game and featured Arabic words from the Koran translated as "Every soul shall have the taste of death" and "All that is on earth will perish", reported the article.

LittleBigPlanet was set for release in Australia on Thursday. Sony said they do not have a definite date for the new release, but it should not take months.

Abducted Nevada boy reunited with his father

A 6-year-old Las Vegas boy was returned to his father Sunday while police attempt to untangle ties the family had to the Mexican drug dealers suspected of taking him, police said in an Associated Press article.

Cole Puffinburger was found alone Saturday night on a quiet street outside a Methodist church in Las Vegas.

Police interviewed the boy after he was found.

Cole's father Robert Puffinburger smiled, cried and thanked police and neighbors for helping to bring Cole home.

FBI spokesman David Staretz would not comment further on what had happened to Cole in the four days since he was snatched from his mother's home by two men posing as police officers.

Cole was in great condition when found, but was taken to University Medical Center as a precaution, Las Vegas police Capt. Vincent Cannito said.

Robert Puffinburger would not comment on Cole's mother or her father, 51-year-old Clemens Tinnemeyer, who police say may have stolen millions from dealers involved in trafficking methamphetamine.

Roseville doctor investigated for counterfiet chips

Roseville weight-loss doctor Carol Straughan is currently under investigation for making counterfeit casino-chips for Mystic Lake Casino, according to a search warrant affidavit filed Wednesday as reported by the Pioneer Press.

Straughan, 43, of Minneapolis, told an informant she could cash the chips and offered him money to cash some in for her, the affidavit said.

Karl John Bock, the informant, saw the counterfeit chips and that they looked indistinguishable from the real chips. Straughan had manufactured the chips at her clinic, he said.

Bock reported his findings to officer Jon Anglin of the state Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.

Richard Thake, the surveillance manager at Mystic Lake, said a technician was called to fix two jammed machines Oct. 8.

The chips found were made of metal and had a $100 chip sticker on them, but they were thicker and heavier than the real ones, Thake said.

Mystic Lake did not return a call for comment late Wednesday and Straughan's clinic, Lighten up with Dr. Carol, was "temporarily closed."

Mobile phones causing facial rashes

Doctors should be on alert for a skin rash caused by mobile phones, said the British Association of Dermatologists said on Thursday, as reported in Reuters' article.

The red itchy rash, known as "mobile phone dermatitis," affects those who have an allergic reaction to the nickel in the phone and have prolonged cell phone use, the group said.

"In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash would typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin," the group said in a statement.

If one texts a lot, it could affect his or her hands and fingertips as well, the group said.

Nickel is one of the most common causes of most contact dermatitis cases, reported the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

October 12, 2008

HPV rates of infection similar in men and women

Men are also at high risk of acquiring human papillomavirus (HPV) infections, but most last no more than a year. This is about the same time the infection persists in women, researchers report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

HPV, the sexually transmitted disease known for causing genital warts, has recently been attributed to cervical cancer.

In 2006, the vaccine Gardasil was approved but in 2007 a report showed only a quarter of adolescent girls were receiving the vaccine.

Because male-to-female transmission of HPV influences the risk of cancer in women, Dr. Anna R. Giuliano of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, and colleagues conducted a study to get more information on the matter.

290 men from southern Arizona, ages 18-44 years, who were recruited by a variety of means, were examined and followed for 15.5 months.

Over the entire study period, roughly half of men were infected with HPV and nearly a third of the HPV types found are known to cause cancer. About 75 percent of the infections cleared within a year of detection, as reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in a Reuters article.

The HPV vaccine is currently being tested internationally in men.

Two Duluth city financial officials under investigation

The Duluth city financial officials are on paid leave as a part of an investigation. City spokesman Jeff Pappas isn't sure why the two are under investigation, but it comes from a complaint, he said in a Star Tribune article.

City finance director Genie Stark and payroll manager Jackie Morris are the two officials under current investigation.

Stark was involved in a failed investment last year, but there's no indication if that has anything to do with the investigation.

A message has not yet been returned from Stark, and Morris' phone number could not yet be found.

High school student shot to death

An 18-year-old Roosevelt High School senior died Saturday evening after being shot outside a south Minneapolis house. He was found in an alley near the house, police said in a Star Tribune article.

The victim, identified as Jesse Mickelson, was pronounced dead at the scene when officers arrived after a call came in just before 7 p.m. in the 4100 block of 29th Avenue S.

An investigation found there was a birthday gathering there before the incident, police said.

Mickelson was shot after approaching a vehicle that night, police said.

No information about the suspect or suspects was available.

North Korea to resume nuclear disabling

After the United States dropped North Korea from the terrorist list, the country announced Sunday that it would continue disabling its nuclear complexes, reported the Associated Press.

The actions of the country will hopefully increase ties between Washington and Pyongyang, experts say it will be there will still be a long road ahead before the nuclear program is completely dismantled.

Citing Pyongyang's acceptance of all of Washington's inspection demands, they decided Saturday to take North Korea off the terror list - which still includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Even so, the U.S. warned the country could be put back onto the list if they stopped cooperating.

Other developments have some doubting whether North Korea will follow through— among them, the upcoming U.S. presidential elections that will see a new administration and questions leader Kim Jong Il's health.

October 5, 2008

Rhode Island requiring lessons in violent dating

It began with the death of Lindsay Burke. After three extremely difficult years with her abusive boyfriend, the relationship ended with her death. Since then, Rhode Island now has a new law called the Lindsay Ann Burke Act that requires all public middle and high school to teach the students about dating violence.

The initiative was a movement strongly headed by Lindsay's mother Ann and her husband, Chris.

They said that schools should teach teens the warning signs of abusive relationships and approach the subject head-on. That way victims can feel they empowered and know that there is someone to help them leave the relationship.

"If this could happen to her, this could happen to anyone," said Ann Burke in an Associated Press article.

Burke says teachings on the subject would have showed her daughter the danger in her relationship earlier.

Education about dating violence is scarce even though domestic violence is disturbingly common Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, who shepherded the proposal through the legislature last year, said.

The law is expected to be implemented this year.

Cyclists in black bike the metro in rememberance

More than 300 cyclists gathered in St. Paul Sunday in honor of the four recent victims of bicycle-automobile accidents.

Beginning at Summit Avenue in St. Paul, the place where another cyclist was hit, more than 300 bikers wearing black rode to the three other spots where others like them had been killed in accidents.

At each of the stops, a white bike was placed in memory of those who were killed.


The long line of bikers covered 13.6 miles to the accident sites of Jim Nisser, killed Sept. 11 along Excelsior Boulevard near Lake Calhoun, and Nicholas Morton who was killed on Sept. 23 on Fifth Street near Nicollet Mall, reported the Star Tribune.

A separate 14.3-mile ride was made to Blaine where Dale Aanenson was struck and killed on Sept. 22.

"This is about remembering that cyclists lost their lives in the last month and to reaffirm our commitment to the need to share the road with everybody," Jeremy Werst, one of the rally's organizers, said.

"This is not about getting cars off the road. This is not about getting bikes off the road. People need to be educated on both sides," said Sven Matton, another rally organizer.

VP debate sets television ratings record

Joe Biden's and Sarah Palin's vice presidential debate, that aired live Thursday on 11 commercial networks, brought in an audience of nearly 70 million US viewers.

The debate ranked as the most watched vice presidential debate ever, and it brought in more viewers than the Obama-McCain debate the week before, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It had been 16 years since a vice presidential debate brought in such a large amount of viewers.

The 1992 debate between then-president George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot pulled in 69.9 million viewers.

The large turnout was expected for the Biden-Palin face-off because of people's curiosity to see whether the Alaskan governor was ready enough.