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April 26, 2008

People Still Missing After Fire

A devastating fire in Norwich, Conn. displaced more than 150 people, many of whom are unaccounted for. According to an Associated Press article on CNN.com, the site is still too hot for fire fighters or dogs to get close enough to search for bodies.
"No deaths had been confirmed, but Fire Chief Ken Scandariato said he couldn't rule out the possibility that some residents may not have escaped," the article said.
The fire, reported on Saturday, destroyed 12-building apartment complex sharing a common roof.
"The entire structure was engulfed in flames within minutes, and all but about eight of 120 apartments were destroyed," the article said.
Most people were able to escape only with robes. Everything was destroyed.
As far as those still missing, fire fighters are continuing to search. "Authorities were checking the registrations of parked cars and had created a master list of residents from various other sources, they said," another article in the Hartford Courant said.
Both articles said that the buildings had working smoke detectors, but no sprinkler system. "Because that wasn't required when it was built in 1976," the Courant article said.
According to the articles, the search continues, and survivors have taken refuge with friends and family or have been given shelter at a nearby school.

April 16, 2008

Colorado Wildfires

As wildfires rage through Colorado's eastern plains, thousands of acres have burned and at least three have died.
According to an Associated Press report on CNN.com, the fire has forced the entire town of Ordway, Colo., about 1,200 people, to evacuate.
An official said in the article that 50 percent of the fire was contained late Tuesday.
"A firefighting plane crashed near Fort Carson, killing the pilot, who was battling a blaze that scorched 9,000 acres -- about 14 square miles -- and forced the evacuation of people living near the base," the article said.
Colorado Governor, Bill Ritter, has declared a state of emergency. The article said that state funds will be released in the effort to contain the fire.
Another article from a local FOX station said the fire is about 60 percent contained. The article also say that area highways are still closed and it is unsure when people will be able to return to their homes.

April 12, 2008

More Cancellations for American

American Airlines is grounding 200 more of its MD-80s today bringing the total to over 3,000. The Associate Press reported in the Star Tribune that as thousands are stranded around the country, the airline's own employees were the "loudest."
"The pilots union took out full-page newspaper ads that asked, Why is American Airlines Failing Its Customers?" the article said.
American has been canceling flights since Tuesday and inspecting the wiring on the fleet of MD-80s. The FAA has been inspecting the planes all week and slowly releasing them back into service.
The article said the cost of the crisis has reached the tens of millions of dollars. "An analyst with Standard & Poor's estimated it could easily top $30 million," the article said.
"Overall, U.S. carriers have shut down about 3,700 flights since late March in response to failed Federal Aviation Administration safety inspections of MD-80 airplanes," another article on CNN.com said. "The FAA is conducting industrywide inspections of all jets that will continue through the end of June."
American is offering compensation for its customers, but as the inspections continue, air travel in the country has been reduced to a crawl.

April 3, 2008

Southwest Airlines

Problems with inspections on Southwest Airlines planes have been uncovered by the Federal Aviation Administration. According to a report on CNN.com, the issues with the inspection program were kept secret.
The article said that the airline tried to remove one person who discovered the problem from the from the inspections. "My supervisor called me into his office ... and told me he had had a meeting with the director of quality assurance and the AD [airworthiness directive] compliance leader from Southwest Airlines, and he had requested my removal from the inspection," Bobby Boutris said in the article.
Boutris and Douglas Peters presented information about Southwest's, "lack of compliance with mandatory inspection protocols," the article said.
The article said that some planes were as much as 30 months past a mandatory rudder inspection, and that dangerous cracks were found on six planes.
CNN said that they could not reach the FAA for comment.
According to the article, Boutris and Peters are set to testify to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee along with FAA representatives.
According to another article in the New York Times, "The inspectors said that their F.A.A. supervisors knew of the problems but had discouraged them from pursuing the safety problems or addressing problems within the agency, even threatening to relieve them of their duties."
""It is sad that an FAA inspector has to become a whistle blower in order to do his job," Boutris said in the CNN article. "And the job is -- that we were hired by the taxpayers -- to ensure the airlines provide safe transportation for the flying public. It shouldn't have to come to this."

March 9, 2008

Democratic Split

The Washington Post reported today that the fierce competition between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could cost democrats the election in November.
Howard Dean, the Chairman for the Democratic National Committee, said, "The only thing that can beat us is that we're divided." Dean spoke on ABC's "This Week" according to the article.
With most primaries and caucuses over, the party is deciding whether or not to allow Florida's and Michigan's votes to count, or to hold a new election in those states.
"Both states held primaries in January, in defiance of an election calendar set up by the committee Dean chairs," said the article.
The competition is so close that the delegates in those states could make a difference for either candidate.
According to the article, Clinton wants the results from the January elections because she won. Obama wants to split the delegates in half or hold a new vote.
The problem is paying for new elections. According to the article, neither the Democratic or Republican party will pay, nor with the governments in the two states.
"Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), a Clinton supporter, said it would be disastrous for the party to hold a convention without Florida and Michigan represented," said the article.

March 2, 2008

Clinton's Push for the Primaries

With some of the most important contests coming up this week, Hillary Clinton is putting in extra time in Ohio.
She said today that one of her biggest issues in Ohio is the economic issues facing the U.S. according to an AP article in the Los Angeles Times. "For some people this election is about how you feel, it's about speeches," Clinton Said. "Well, that's not what it's about for me. It's about solutions."
"She told more than 2,000 cheering backers that she wants to solve the economic troubles facing the industrial Midwest," said the article.
Clinton's rival, Barack Obama has won the last 11 caucuses. This weeks contests in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont are imperative for Clinton to stay in the race to the White House.
"Polls show tight contests in Texas and Ohio," said the article.
"The last days leading up until Tuesday are ones where we really need you," Clinton said in the article.
With the recent loses, Clinton's tactics against her rival have changed to more a defensive stance. She accused Barack Obama of just making promises. "I'm not interested in just talking, I'm interested in action," she said in the article.
"Most polls have shown Clinton with a fragile lead," said the article.

February 24, 2008

Nader Runs for President

Ralph Nader announced Sunday that he will run for president as an independent.
Nader said it is time for a "Jeffersonian revolution," said CNN.com. "In the last few years, big money and the closing down of Washington against citizen groups prevent us from trying to improve our country. And I want everybody to have the right and opportunity to improve their country," he told reporters after an appearance announcing his candidacy on NBC's "Meet the Press."
This run for president marks Nader's forth time. The fifth if the write-in campaign in 1992 is included.
The Washington Post said that Nader is running, "To draw attention to issues ignored by the major candidates in both parties: corporate crime, worker rights, military spending and foreign policy."
Many say that Nader's run helped George Bush win Florida over Al Gore in 2000. "Republican candidate Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, said he thought Nader's run would help his party," said The Washington Post.
The Democratic candidates give different comments in the two stories. CNN.com said both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called the move "very unfortunate," where as The Washington Post said the candidates said they don't think Nader will make much of a difference.


February 21, 2008

Spy Satellite Destroyed

The U.S. Military successfully destroyed the rogue spy satellite falling towards Earth.
According to CNN.com, Marine Gen. James Cartwright said Thursday, "We have a high degree of confidence we got the tank."
The tank was full of toxic hydrazine fuel that officials say could have disbursed, "harmful of even potentially deadly fumes over an area the size of two football fields," said CNN.
According to another article in The New York Times, General Cartwright said that it could take 24 to 48 hours for the Pentagon consider the mission a success. "Even so, he said the military had 80 to 90 percent confidence the fuel tank was breached," said The New York Times.
The missile was launched from The USS Erie from the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii on Wednesday, and the satellite was hit 24 minutes later, according to CNN.

February 17, 2008

USDA Calls for Largest Beef Recall in History

The AP reported on CNN.com on Sunday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a slaughterhouse that is under investigation for mistreating cattle.
According to the article, it is the largest beef recall in United States history. "The amount of beef- 143 million pounds- is roughly enough for two hamburgers for each man, woman and child in the United States," said the article.
Westland/ Hallmark Meat Co. supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and is under investigation after a video surfaced showing workers committing inhumane practices
"Because the cattle did not receive complete and proper inspection, Food Safety and Inspection Service has determines them to be unfit for human food and the company is conducting a recall," said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Shafer in the article.
The article also said that, "authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing "downer" animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats, San Bernardino County prosecutor Michael Ramos said."
It is estimated that much of the meat has already been consumed and the recall includes products dating to February 1, 2006.
"Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak," said the article.
"Most of the beef was sent to distribution centers in bulk packages. The USDA said it will owkr with distributors to determine how much meat remains," said the article.
A full list of the recalled product can also be found on CNN.com.

February 10, 2008

Writers' Stike may be Close to an End

Recent negotiations between Hollywood executives and the Writers Guild of America may bring a long awaited end to the three-month strike. The New York Times reported today that the writers could be back to work by Wednesday pending a three-year deal with production companies.
The biggest issue for the strike has been new media revenues, which the writers wanted more of. "In the third year of the Writers Guild deal, writers will be paid a percentage of the distributor’s revenue rather than the flat fee for Web-streamed television shows granted to the directors," said the New York Times. "Writers had demanded a much bigger share of returns from downloads and Web streaming than they had received in the past."
The strike has changed the face of television across the country bringing more reality shows and reruns. The movie industry has also extended the release of many blockbuster films. Most importantly, the governing boards of the unions represent 12,000 writers who have been out of work since early November.
An end to the strike will be a return to work for the writers and long awaited original content for viewers.

February 8, 2008

Severe Storms Hit the South

Thunderstorms that produced tornadoes rolled across the South Tuesday night and Wednesday morning killing about 50 people and injuring at least 100 more. According to the New York Times article, authorities were still searching Wednesday for people trapped in the ruins. The storms continued to push east and prompted tornado warnings in areas of Georgia, Alabama and northern Florida. "Even if no tornadoes develop there, the storms are expected to bring pelting rains and gusting winds, forecasters said."
President Bush has pledged for assistance from the federal overnment. "Prayers can help and so can the government,� he said in a statement Wednesday.
The Washington Post said that Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee paused their victory speeces to remember the victims.
In the aftermath of the storm, survivors combed through the rubble in search of any remains. Kim Vererka, a survivor of a twister in Arkansas, made the decision to leave her six dogs and one cat when she ran for cover. The next day, all seven pets were recovered with minor harm.
It will take several weeks for communities to function again as cleanup begins. Classes at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. were canceled for two weeks because the storm severely damaged campus. "It looks like a war zone," said David Dockery, the university's president, to CNN. "There were 3,300 students in class yesterday and 1,200 on campus last night." Luckily, the university area had no deaths reported.

February 3, 2008

Skiers Lost in California

CNN.com released today a report from the Associated Press saying two skiers are lost near Lake Tahoe Resort in northern California.
Over the weekend, the winter storm dropped several feet of new snow in the area. "The skiers Patrick Frost, 35, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco, California, were reported missing Saturday night at the Alpine Meadows resort just north of Lake Tahoe, said Placer County sheriff's Sgt. Allan Carter." They are reported as expert skiers and were last seen the night before their disappearance.
Authorities are unsure where the skiers are, but are searching a wide area including areas outside of the resort's boundaries.
The blizzard caused an avalanche closing Alpine Meadows Sunday, but the search continues. Carter says the skiers have a "pretty good" chance for survival. "If you keep moving and have a positive attitude and know how to construct a snow shelter, you can survive."
According to another AP report, the search will resume Monday, but these disappearance are one of many to blame on the latest winter storm.

Five Dead in Mall Shooting

Five women were shot Saturday at a suburban Chicago shopping mall. According to a CNN report, the victims were found in the back room of the Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, Illinois. Police say the motive for the homicide was robbery. The gunman has not been found, but officials say, "about 50 area police officers are involved in the search for the man and the weapon."
According the the Associated Press, Tinley Park has had only one reported murder between 1999 and 2006, and some are taking the event exceptionally hard. Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki said, "[The killings are a] sad commentary on our society," and has ordered flags at half-staff for five days.
Local police released the names of the victims and many family members and friends released quotes remembering their loved ones.
As of now, there is a vague description of the assailant and a $50,000 reward from Lane Bryant.