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October 26, 2008

Non invasive weight loss surgery

Non invasive weight loss surgery

Surgeons have discovered a way to staple the stomach into a thumb-sized tube by using instruments that go through the patient’s mouth and down their throat.

No cutting is required and the stapling of the stomach makes the patient’s feel full after eating minimal amounts of food. However, the surgery is only for those dangerously obese.

This innovative procedure helps patients experience less pain and speeds up the recovery time.

Sources: The New York Times- Weight-Loss Surgery, No Cutting Required

Mexico shootings

Four shot dead at a Mexican amusement park.

Four men where shot dead at an amusement park in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a business man was killed after heading a protest against violence and a toddler died in a car when it was crashed during the shooting Friday.

A protest against drug traffickers lead to a deadly scene within 24 hours, 21 people died.

In addition, four men were shot inside a go-cart rental at the Xtreme amusement park. There are no suspects or possible motives, police said.

Acts of violence are becoming more common due to drug gangs targeting officers.

Sources: Star Tribune Saturday

October 25, 2008

Gas down

Gas down

The demand of oil within the United States has dropped 10 percent in the last few weeks. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans drove 15 billion fewer miles in August, or 5.6 percent less than last year.

“It follows that there’s going to be some spending effect,? said Francisco Blach head of commodities research at Merrill Lynch in London.

With the decrease in demand, American’s driving patterns have been considerably altered.

The current decrease in gas price is a nice relief at our current economical crisis.

With a 10 percent world wide demand for oil off, it is odd that prices have fallen more than 50 percent. Blanch says that it is not a one to one relationship, and that small demand swings can cause large price swings.

One reason why prices have fallen quicker than demand is due to investment banks pulling money out of oil futures.

Sources: Time article- What's Behind (and Ahead for) the Plunging Price of Oil

Trading Floors of Minneapolis Grain Exchange

Trading Floors of Minneapolis Grain Exchange

Electronic trading is taking over the local Grain Exchange. The floors have been hosting buyers and sellers of beans, wheat and other commodities since 1881. The human to human exchanges will be completely converted to all-electronic trading.

The trading has slowly been converting to electronic over the past year with 30 percent to now 80 percent of the volume is now electronic. The closing will officially take place Dec. 19, 2008.

“This migration or this shift in volume is something that everyone has seen coming. It’s not just local to Minneapolis, its happening around the world,? said Mark Bagan from the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. –WCCO

Around 25 percent of the work force will be let go, 11 exchange positions.

“What we want to do is bring it all to a single platform and…the customers have clearly spoken and chosen the electronic market as the future of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange when 80 percent of the volume is being done on the electronic platform,? said Bagan.

European markets have had the electronic process in effect since at least 2003.

Sources: WCCO- Mpls. Grain Exchange To Close Trading Floors

Insterstate 35W closed for weekend

Interstate 35W closed for weekend

Southern Minneapolis Interstate 35W is currently closed as of 10:00 p.m. Friday through 5:00 a.m. Monday.

The closure is due to a reconstruction project in part of Crosstown that will improve water work across 35W. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is also placing bridge sections at the eastern end of 35W and Highway 62.

This repair was supposed to be last weekend but has since been rescheduled because of rain.

Sources: WQOW TV

October 19, 2008

Abducted boy found in Las Vegas

Cole Puffinburger, 6, was found by authorities in Las Vegas Saturday night.

Three kidnappers abducted Puffinburger from his house Wednesday. Authorities have probable cause to believe that the abduction could be retaliation by drug dealers.

Puffinburger’s grandfather, Clemons F. Tinnemeyer, has a history of drug dealing and was arrested Friday.

Sources: CNN

Analysis Advance

“Fey on this week’s ‘SNL’ plans: ‘I don’t know’?

This article advances a possible appearance of Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.

The angle is trying to hype a possible Sarah Palin skit, by noting the time and date as well as Fey mysteriously answering “I don’t know?.

Associated Press is the main source of information and an interview Tuesday at her NBC sitcom’s location.

The advance is largely quotes by Fey and date information for Saturday Night Live.


Unusual cure

Warning: The following content is not for those with weak stomachs.

Human stool found to cure a stubborn intestinal infection in Duluth clinic. Dr. Johannes Aas could not figure out why antibiotics were not working for patient until he came across a 1950s Norwegian medical journal with a similar case.

The cure was to replace bacteria in a patient’s stomach with a small amount of another person’s stool.

C.difficile is to blame for the patients upset stomach. People are apt to get this infection from antibiotics that destroy both good bacteria and bad. Consequently the C. difficile in the stomach takes over causing severe diarrhea.

The stool procedure is done through a nasal tube to the stomach. A small dose of a donor’s stool is then injected into the stomach to restore balance.

The cure is 95 percent effective, but doctors are not sure why this works. Aas suspects that the donated flora balances the bacteria within the gut and keeps the C. difficile in check.

Sources: Star Tribune

China government admits fault

Melanin tainted milk products in China have killed four babies and sickened over 50,000 children.

“We feel that although problems occurred at the company, the government also has a responsibility,? Premier Wen Jiabao, Chinese leader said September 20 interview that was posted Friday.

The Chinese government taking part of the blame is an unusual admission-but a step in the right direction.

Sources: Star Tribune

Dog finds lost Oregon climber

A Washington’s Mount Adam’s mountain climber was found Friday just below a 6,000 foot level on the west side of the mountain by a search-and-rescue dog.

The 27-year-old man survived by eating centipedes and drinking water from creeks for five days.

A broken ankle prevented him from reaching any kind of help. He is now in fair condition at a Portland hospital.

Sources: Star Tribune

Soldiers linked to killings

A 19-year-old girl was found dead in the foot hills west of Colorado Springs. The killer met Judilianna Lawrence on MySpace, he then had violent sex with her before slitting her throat open and leaving her to die.

Fort Carson soldiers returning from deployment in Iraq are suspected in six different murder’s or attempted murders.

Officials are seeking answers to the linked killings and combat-stressed veterans.

Sources: Star Tribune

October 12, 2008

Sheets of light

Sheets of light
A machine has been created to print sheets of light in Niskayuna, New York.

The machine coats plastic film with chemicals before sealing them with a metal foil layer. Electrical current is then applied resulting in a blue-white lighten sheet.

Lighting possibilities with these new sheets are endless. People could wrap them around posts, put them on the inside of blinds, or even use as wallpaper.

The light producing sheets are made possible by organic light-emitting diodes, also known as OLEDs. Researchers are starting to use OLEDs in cell-phone displays and TVs.

Many technical problems need to be worked out but researchers estimate OLEDs to be the lighting of the future.

Sources: CNN “New machine prints sheets of light?

Petters Group cuts 50 employees

Petters Group cuts 50 employees

Petters Group Worldwide’s assets were frozen earlier this week. The company’s former CEO, Tom Petters, is now in jail without bail after federal investigators discovered several accounts of fraud.

Sun County Airlines, owned by Petters, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday. Sun Country employs 850 people.

With the continued fraud investigation Petters have decided to lay off 50 employees.

The specific company’s making the cuts (owned by Petters) have not yet been disclosed.

Wells Fargo to combine with Wachovia

Wells Fargo to combine with Wachovia

Wells Fargo is expanding with a $12.2 billion acquisition of Wachovia Corp.

By limiting loans and selling additional products, Wells Fargo has avoided financial dictator that has struck Countrywide Financial, Washington Mutual, Wachovia and many others.

“Wells Fargo knows how to gather deposits, sell additional products and not make loans to people who can’t afford to pay them back,? said Celent analyst Bart Narter.

Wells Fargo has however experienced its fair share of downfalls. A $1.4 billion loss was taken on ill-advised home equity loans and gambled with catering consumers with shabby credit reports.

Once the Wachovia and Wells Fargo deal is complete, Wells Fargo will merge with Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. as the U.S. banks with the country’s largest networking branch “and in man y ways, Wells Fargo may be the strongest of them all,? said analyst Frederick Cannon of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. –St. Paul Pioneer Press.

After the merge Wells Fargo will have $1.42 trillion in assets, still trailing that of Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan.

However, size does not necessarily equate to financial strength.

Sources: St. Paul Pioneer Press “Wells Fargo points wagons east with Wachovia deal? by Michael Liedtke

Local areas will be visited by Michelle Obama Monday

Local areas will be visited by Michelle Obama Monday

Michelle Obama is set to campaign Monday in St. Paul and Rochester.

The wife of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama will be at the Mayo Civic Center at noon. Tickets are available at Olmsted County Obama Campaign for Change office prior to the event.

Macalester College in St. Paul and the Leonard Center will host Obama at 4 p.m. for a free public rally. Online RSVPs are encouraged but tickets are not required. The rally will host first-come, first-served attendees.

Sources: St. Paul Pioneer Press "Michelle Obama to visit St. Paul, Rochester" by Staff reports

Body found in submerged car

Body found in submerged car

While trying to stabilize a riverbank, construction workers came across a car in the Mississippi off Harriet Island Friday morning with a body inside.

The body and construction workers have not been identified. The missing person’s unit searched its 77 open missing person and runaway cases but found no matches.

The car found was a white sedan that was extensively damaged. It took all day to remove the car from the river.

“I looked in the car. It looked like an airbag, and then I saw the legs,? he said, declining to give his name.

Sources: St.Paul Pioneer Press "Submerged car in river yields body" by John Brewer

October 5, 2008

Spot and follows analysis

The Star Tribune printed the article "Anoka motorcyclist's death raises questions" by Abby Simons and Tim Harlow on September 19, 2008.

A follow up article was printed in the Star Tribune titled "No easy solutions to puzzle of Natasha's death" by Paul Levy

The first-day story sets the scene for what was found at the scene of the crime and what is suspected. There are no details and the article notes that Natasha Waalen, “received death threats after threatening to sue a local man?.

The first-day lead informs readers that authorities notified Waalen’s father that his daughter’s injuries indicate that her crash may not have been an accident. The follow up story opens with a personal description of Waalen being the ‘it girl’.

The follow up story incorporates personal description of Natasha Waalen by friends and adds more detail on Ryan Boland. There is also an emotional element that was absent from the first-day article.

Waalen’s previous complaints of Boland are explained in the follow up article, along with information about domestic violence and the suspected time and events of the crime.

The follow up ends the article with an interesting view on the tragic case. Journalist Paul Levy, notes how domestic violence can happen to anyone, and you can not tell an abuser just by looking at them.

Virginity for sale

Virginity for sale

A 22-year-old virgin capitalized on her virginity in order to pay for graduate school.

A Sacramento State student, using the pseudonym Natalie Dylan, sold her virginity for $250,000 dollars at the infamous Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada.

“I think empowerment of women is picking yourself up and doing something on your own to better yourself,? says Dylan.

Dylan is graduating with a degree in women’s studies and plans to get her master’s degree in family and marriage counseling.

Natalie said her virginity won’t simply go to the highest bidder. “I’m looking for intelligence and an overall nice person,? says Dylan.

“When I was younger, I wanted 100% romance, possibly even wait for marriage. But as I grew up, reality kinda hit. And I think it’s a capitalistic society, and I want to capitalize on this,? explains Dylan.

Continued..Motorcycle investigation finds domesticated murder

Staged motorcycle crash was a domesticated murder.

Natasha Waalen was beaten to death the night of her ‘crash’ by on-again-off-again boyfriend and father of her child, Ryan Boland, 33, and his brother, Timothy, 31.

Waalen’s friends describe her as the ‘it’ girl, pretty, smart and kind. Tasha’s a tough chick who would never allow something like this to happen to someone else says childhood friend, Scott Kalpakoff.

Ryan Boland informed authorities that Waalen was drinking the night of the crash and they argued in their garage.

Langston, a co-worker of Natasha’s said that Waalen did not like to party, she was too devoted to 4-year-old daughter Savannah.

It was actually Boland and his brother who were at a Ramsey bar that night before staging the accident after beating Waalen to death.

Waalen was found 50 feet from her motorcycle, there was a red strap tied around her body and arms, defensive wounds to the back of each hand and three wounds to her forehead inconsistent with a possible crash, authorities said.

A Coon Rapids homeowner hired Boland two years ago for roofing work and said “He was nice, very conscientious and talked as if he was married,? Crane said. “I even met his daughter, who must have been 2. For the two weeks I knew him, he seemed like a real family man.?

Both Boland’s are charged with second-degree murder and aiding abetting second-degree murder.


Star Tribune Monday, September 29, 2008 “No easy answers in puzzle of death? by Paul Levy

Continued milk crisis

Continued milk crisis

Lipton-brand milk tea powder in Hong Kong and Macau was recalled Tuesday.

An internal quality check discovered melamine, Unilever Hong Kong Ltd. Said.

Authorities also found melamine in Pocky Men’s coffee cream coated biscuit stick by Japan’s Ezaki Glico Co. Ltd. Nabisco Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches and rice crackers have also found traces of melamine.

Cadbury, a British candy maker recalled 11 of their products sold in parts of Asia, Hong Kong investigators said the amount found was legally acceptable.

However, the Food and Drug Administration said that any level of melamine added to food is illegal in the United States.


Star Tribune, Wednesday, October 1, 2008 “Lipton tea is recalled in Asia over tainted milk? by Associated Press

Star Tribune charged with sexual harassment

Star Tribune charged with sexual harassment

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed sexual harassment charges against the Star Tribune Tuesday.

Employed women at the Star Tribune said that from August 2005 up until now they have been sexually harassed with propositions for sex, sexually suggestive conduct, and favoritism towards women who participated in provocative conduct according to the complaint.-Star Tribune

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money for the harassed women.

Star Tribune officials say the alleged conduct did not occur as described in the complaint and that the company took corrective action immediately upon hearing the charges in order to prevent further incidents from happening.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened,? Benjamin Taylor, Star Tribune senior vice president of communications, said the company said. “But we disagree with the EEOC conclusions?

The Star Tribune and EEOC are in negotiations to settle the suit before trial.

“While we believe we could prevail in this case, we have told the EEOC that we want to avoid disruption of a lawsuit and have been trying to resolve the case through settlement negotiations,? Helen Wainwright, senior vice president for human resources and labor relations, wrote to employees in a memo Tuesday. –Star Tribune


Star Tribune Wednesday, October 1, 2008 “Agency files sexual harassment suit against Star Tribune? by James Walsh

The stem cell race

The stem cell race

Government progress needs to be made in order to sustain public momentum and support of stem cell research.

Commercialization is “excruciatingly slow? said Micheal Haider, CEO of BioE Inc., a St. Paul company that extracts stem cells from blood in human umbilical cords. “I’m not aware of a successful stem-cell company. If you thought gene therapy was difficult, then (stem cells) are astronomically difficult.?-Star Tribune

The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic are researching and developing stem cells that would repair damaged heart tissue, thus preventing heart failure. In addition the Univerisity is using their stem-cell technology to grow replacement organs such as livers, kidneys and hearts.

Large medical device makers like Medtronic are also continuously developing ways to insert stem cells into the body.

They hype of stem cell capabilities falls nothing short of amazing. Stem cells are the basis of regenerative medicine, which would assist the body in healing itself. These ‘blank slated’ cells are capable of continuously replenishing themselves, growing into specialized cells that could inform the heart to beat, a pancreas to produce insulin, or grow into dopamine-producing neurons (which could be used to treat Parkinson’s). These capabilities are extremely exciting but, researchers are continuously confronting controversy, slowing the entire process.

Struggle to disassociate adult and embryonic stem cells yields to be very frustrating for advocates.

Stem cells harvested from embryos are derived from an early stage of an embryo, called a blastocys, (approximately 4 to 5 days old). Once the cells are removed from the blastocys, the embryo will not continue into human life, thus creating controversy. After almost ten years of research, there have been no approved human trials using embryonic stem cells.

Adult stem cells however, are found in human tissue and umbilical cord blood. There is less controversy with adult stem cell research because the production does not require the destruction of an embryo.

President Bush issued guidelines that limited federal funding to embryonic stem cell lines already in existence in 2001.

“The biggest disappointment from the summit is that stem cells automatically equals embryonic stem cells,? Haider said. “This makes it more difficult for the rest of the industry. Stem cell has become a word like Kleenex, a brand name for everything. We spend great deals of time educating people, getting their heads to turn back.?

Advocates also put blame on overly cautions regulators for delaying the technology.

“People on Capitol Hill are obsessed with…safety,? said Michael Werner, president of the Werner Group, a Washington, D.C.–based consulting and lobbying firm.

Cell research and therapy has been hurt by the lack of confidence within the investor community.

There is no denying huge medical gains could be made. But, the future of stem cells lies in investors, researchers and largely government decisions.


Star Tribune Monday, September 29, 2008 "Stem cells: Time to make good on promises" by Thomas Lee