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December 9, 2007

Oprah endorses Obama

Oprah Winfrey brought thousands of Iowans to campaign rallies for Sen. Barack Obama Saturday. This is her first endorsement in a presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press in the Star Tribune.
She talked about her own personal belief in Obama's ability to lead the country, despite the thoughts brought up by others about his lack of experience in Washington. Winfrey did not mention Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton specifically, but it was she who first doubted Obama's level of experience.
To counter the excitement about Winfrey, Clinton brought two guests with her to Iowa, her daughter, Chelsea, and her mother, Dorothy Rodham. Neither women had appeared with Clinton on her campaign trail before.
The race in Iowa between the Democratic candidates, Obama, Clinton and John Edwards, is close.

November 18, 2007

Oregon park is being closed after being the scene of multiple crimes

Holman State Wayside Park near Salem, Oregon is not a place to take the family for a Sunday picnic, reports the New York Times.
It is unsure when the park turned from a friendly gathering point to a place where drug deals went down and couples had sex in public. Because of this, the 10-acre park is now closed. Concrete bricks block the entrance for vehicles and the cinder block bathrooms are scheduled to be demolished.
“What we really need to do is reboot the park,? Chris Havel, a spokesman for the parks department, says. “The plan is to let the reputation die off a little bit, then come back.?
This shut-down started in the 1990s, with changing parking to 15 minutes only. Cameras and signs indicating the cameras presence were put up and excess brush was cut, but nothing seemed to work.
Police have been called about two registered sex offenders were camping in the park and that men were having sex there. Eight men were arrested one weekend last May.
Because of the continuous rise in crime, officials have decided to close the park.

November 11, 2007

Should newborn screening be optional?

About one day after a baby is born in Minnesota, nurses draw five drops of blood which are used to test for more than 50 hereditary conditions. This screening process is now in danger because some say it is an invasion of privacy, reports the Star Tribune.
Twila Brase, a former nurse and an advocate for privacy, leads a small group which plans to bring this issue to the legislature next year. She believes this testing is involuntary and carries future implications on insurance and employment.
Medical professionals argue the other side, saying that the testing detects disorders in about 140 children a year saving them from death or disability.
While Brase does not disagree with the testing, she does think it should be the parent's choice. Some legislators agree with Brase on the issue. Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville said, "Five years from now, when there's a breach in the computer system, and 200,000 of your youngest residents have been compromised, you wouldn't want parents to be totally unaware that the state is storing this data. That's when we're going to be in really big trouble."
Doctors see that as a fear of the unknown and cannot understand how that could shut down a screening program that is clearly beneficial. "People watch too much TV," said Dr. Piero Rinaldo, who oversees the Mayo Clinic's newborn screening program. "It's CSI syndrome."
This screening process has been done since 1965 and allows early detection and treatment of over 50 conditions. Only approximately 140 babies out of the 72,000 born in Minnesota each year have a genetic disorder, but the early detection can result in fewer future hospital visits.
As the debate continues, doctors and privacy-advocates speak out for their cause.

November 1, 2007

Hiroshima pilot, Paul W. Tibbets dies at age 92

Paul W. Tibbets, the pilot of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Japan during World War II, died Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. He was 92, reports the New York Times and BBC.
Gen. Tibbets' health had been declining for the past two months, said Gerry Newhouse, a friend of Tibbets.
The plane Enola Gay took off from the island of Tinian in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 1945 to complete the mission known as the Manhattan Project. At 8:15 a.m., the atomic bomb known as Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. Tibbets said he has no regrets about being involved in the act that is said to be "the beginning of the end" of WWII.
After returning from the mission, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the Army Air Forces’ highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor.
Paul Warfield Tibbets was born on Feb. 23, 1915 in Quincy, Ill. His family moved to Miami and a plane ride at age 12 interested him in becoming a pilot. Although his father wanted him to become a doctor, his mother, Enola Gay Haggard, encouraged him to follow his dream.
Tibbets attended both the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati, then enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1937.
He began working with the secretive Manhattan Project in 1944, training other pilots after being instructed to find the best. Tibbets did and the 12 crew members carried out a flawless mission over Hiroshima.
Although at the time he and the others were regarded as heroes, in the years following Tibbets has become a target of controversy.
A pro-Communist newspaper called him "the world's greatest killer" and was criticized in 1976 for re-enacting the event at an air show in Texas.
Tibbets retired from the Army in 1966.
He is survived by his wife, the former Andrea Quattrehomme, two sons from his first marriage to former Lucy Wingate, Paul III and Gene, and a grandson, Col. Paul Tibbets IV.

October 28, 2007

Not making the bed may keep people healthier

Researchers in the United Kingdom believe that an unmade bed can kill off dust mites thought to cause certain allergies, reports the BBC.
Studies conducted at Kingston University show that the mites cannot survive in the warm and dry conditions of an untidy bed, but instead prefer the damp conditions of an occupied bed. Up to 1.5 million dust mites can make their home in the average bed.
The tiny bugs feed on human skin scales, producing allergens that can be inhaled during sleep. These are thought to cause asthma.
The research is being done partly in hopes to find ways to build healthier homes.

October 19, 2007

Firefighters raise money in their boots for muscular dystophy

Minneapolis firefighters attempt to fill their boots with money this week with plans to donate it to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, reports the MN Daily.
All 19 stations plan to have firefighters at 26 busy intersections throughout the city asking for stopped cars to donate, Daniel Casper, a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department's executive board. They are positioned near their stations in case they need to respond to a call.
The "Fill-the-Boot" campaign runs from Wednesday to Friday evening. The Minneapolis district director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lisa Piccolino, she the goal was to raise $38,000 this week. It is the first time Minneapolis firefighters have been a part of a campaign this size.
Thomas Thornberg, captain of the station that responds to calls in areas near the University and president of the Minneapolis firefighters union, was out collecting donations Wednesday. The International Association of Firefighters has raised more money for Muscular Dystrophy Association than any other organization.

October 14, 2007

Member of Sound of Music Family Dies

Werner von Trapp, depicted as the character Kurt in the hit Broadway musical and motion picture, died at the age of 91 Thursday, reports BBC News. He was home in Waitsfield, Vermont.
The film and play were loosely based on the book written in 1949 by von Trapp's stepmother Maria. The 1965 film version starring Julie Andrews won five oscars.
The book tells the story of the family fleeing from the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, but in the film shows them hiking over the mountains into Switzerland.
The true story includes the family taking a train to Italy, then moving to the United States where they successfully toured as the Trapp Family Singers. They settled in Vermont.
Von Trapp is survived by three sisters and one brother.

October 5, 2007

Olympic gold-medalist Marion Jones admits using performance-enhancers

Olympic star Marion Jones is expected to plead guilty today to giving federal agents false statements after years of denied allegations that she used steroids, according to the New York Times and WCCO news.
With her mother by her side, Jones went to be processed, booked and fingerprinted before seeing United States district judge Kenneth Karas.
In previous years, Jones has denied having taken any performance-enhancing drugs. Now she is taking that back, stating that she used them from 1999 to 2001. If guilty, Jones could be stripped of the five medals she won in Sydney in 2000, among others won before.
The steroid that Jones used, "the clear", is linked to the company BALCO, Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative, who is also linked to other athletes convicted or under investigation for using performance-enhancing drugs.
In a letter Jones wrote to members of her family, she claims she took the drug unknowingly and that her former coach, Trevor Graham, had given it to her saying it was flaxseed oil.
The letter also apologizes saying, "I am sorry for disappointing you all in so many ways."

September 26, 2007

The dollar contiues to come up short

The euro eased back down to $1.4136 late Wednesday, after hitting another high earlier, $1.4162, according to reports in The New York Times and BBC News.
The dollar hit a 15-year low Monday, according to the New York Times.
''Against currencies like the euro, we could be seeing the highs being put in about now,'' Bob Sinche, head of global foreign exchange strategy at Bank of America Corp., said. The market had been overreacting to recession fears, and investors' worries about growth have taken a back seat for the moment, he said, boosting the dollar. Some economists disagreed, however, taking slowed widespread demand for manufactured goods as a sign of a softening economy.
Also, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates last week by a bigger-than-expected half percentage point Lower interest rates are efforts used to jump start an economy and analysts predict more cuts for the near future.
Other bad news for the U.S., orders for durable goods, including things from washing machines to commercial jets, were down by 4.9 percent.

September 23, 2007

Clinton leading in Democratic presidental candidacy race

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has the edge in the Democratic presidential candidacy race, the New York Times reported Saturday.
Although support and enthusiasm was strong at the start of Illinois Senator Barack Obama campaign, Clinton seems to have become the leading candidate. As the voting early next year draws closer, Obama and John Edwards, former senator of North Carolina, are going with new campaign strategies, some aimed directly at Clinton.
Obama has been trying to combat the doubts presented about his level of experience and how he would handle Washington. Edwards is hitting Iowa hard like he did in 2004 to see if his supporters are still there. Both candidates are concerned with how well Clinton continues to do, said the report.
“I think they’ve run a great campaign,? said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, of Clinton. He also said that her main problem will be proving herself and not letting her previous years in Washington overshadow her. “The question is ultimately, Is she credible — whether people buy her as an agent of change in Washington." Axelrod said. "If they do, she’ll do well.?

September 16, 2007

McCain is not refrencing Bush in his presidential candidacy campaign

As the 2008 presidential candidacy campaign continues, republican Senator John McCain voices his thoughts on victory in Iraq, but not his feelings about President George W. Bush. The New York Times reports on McCain's campaign tour and his tributes to Gen. David H. Petraeus instead of President Bush. This seems to be a strategy to renew support for the war in Iraq.
As McCain traveled through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, he found much more support than early in his campaign. After poor fund-raising and poll numbers nearly two months ago, many people had put McCain far behind in the race, but the new direction of the campaign seems to be bringing him much more attention.