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April 23, 2009

Apple Rmoves Baby Shaker Program

A 99-cent program for iphones called “baby shaker” was taken off the market Wednesday after public outrage ensued according to the Pioneer Press. The program featured a black and white outline of a baby who cried until you shook your phone to make it stop. When the shaking was done and the crying stopped, the baby was shown with red Xs over its eyes. The program went on sale Monday on the itunes website and was taken off Wednesday because of people’s reaction to it. Organizations like the National Center for Shaken Baby Syndrome condemned Apple for approving the sale of this game. The program was designed by Sikalosoft who also makes other applications for Apple. Apple has been know to reject apps in which the user can throw shoes at former president George W. Bush, but they have also approved many apps that have questionable content.

April 19, 2009

New U.S. Cuban Relations

For the first time in years, at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, President Obama extended his hand to Cuban leader, Raul Castro, and opened up the doors for new and improved relations between the United States and Cuba reported the Star Tribune. Obama signaled he was ready to accept Castro’s proposal of talks on certain issues that were once off limits to Cuba. He even accepted a book called “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, a man who once compared former U.S. President George W. Bush to the devil. The New York Times reported that Obama told the gather of Western Hemisphere leaders that, “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba.” Obama hopes to find a new partner in finding alternative energy sources and combating global warming with Cuba.
For the first time in years, at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, President Obama extended his hand to Cuban leader, Raul Castro, and opened up the doors for new and improved relations between the United States and Cuba reported the Star Tribune. Obama signaled he was ready to accept Castro’s proposal of talks on certain issues that were once off limits to Cuba. He even accepted a book called “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, a man who once compared former U.S. President George W. Bush to the devil. The New York Times reported that Obama told the gather of Western Hemisphere leaders that, “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba.” Obama hopes to find a new partner in finding alternative energy sources and combating global warming with Cuba.
http://www.startribune.com/politics/43220547.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUycaEacyUs
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/18/world/americas/18prexy.html?_r=1&ref=us
For the first time in years, at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, President Obama extended his hand to Cuban leader, Raul Castro, and opened up the doors for new and improved relations between the United States and Cuba reported the Star Tribune. Obama signaled he was ready to accept Castro’s proposal of talks on certain issues that were once off limits to Cuba. He even accepted a book called “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, a man who once compared former U.S. President George W. Bush to the devil. The New York Times reported that Obama told the gather of Western Hemisphere leaders that, “The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba.” Obama hopes to find a new partner in finding alternative energy sources and combating global warming with Cuba.

April 12, 2009

Woman Commits Suicide and Lands on Teen

Last Wednesday, the New York Times reported, a woman jumped to her death in the Queens Center Mall atrium and landed on a high school teenager four stories below, injuring the student. The woman, who’s identity has not been released, was in her mid-50s and jumped over the glass barrier on the 3rd floor, landing four stories below, which was below ground level, on a group of teens sitting in massage chairs. Derrick Muñoz, 17, was injured when the woman landed directly on him, and was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive. He was apparently knocked out by the impact, but regained consciousness in the ambulance. Doctors ran tests to see if there was any damage to his brain. The Star Tribune reported the boy, who was on spring break at the time, suffered a large gash on his head after being briefly unconscious.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/nyregion/09jump.html?ref=nyregion
http://www.startribune.com/nation/42732927.html?elr=KArks:DCiUMEaPc:UiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

Pistachio Recall

The Star Tribune reported that Federal officials found traces of salmonella poisoning in a pistachio processing plant in California on Monday. The outbreak led to the recall of more than 2 million pounds of nuts, and the company expanded the recall to include all raw and roasted pistachios from its 2008 crop. Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc. is where the outbreak was found, and is the nation’s second largest pistachio plant and sells its products to large companies like Kraft. No illnesses have been reported yet from consumers eating the bad pistachios. The New York Times reports that this is part of the new Obama Administration’s policy that food makers with sloppy manufacturing processes would not be tolerated.
http://www.startribune.com/nation/42561797.html?elr=KArksUUUU
http://www.nytimes.com/pages/national/index.html

April 5, 2009

Gunman Kills in New York

The Star Tribune reported 13 people were killed Friday when a gunman opened fire in the American Civic Association in Binghamton, New York. Victims included a caseworker, an English teacher and 11 students ranging from 22 to 57 in age. The New York Times reported the shooting began around 10:30 a.m. and was over in minutes when the gunman shot himself.

Iowa Court Claims Ban on Gay Marriage is Unconstitutional

On Friday Iowa became the third state in the United States to allow same-sex couples to wed reported the Star Tribune. The Supreme Court’s decision will be made final after a three week period and the new ruling will go into play then. In general, the people of Iowa see this as a very big accomplishment, however conservative critics have already started their lobbying process to let the people of Iowa vote on the issue. The case began in 2005 when a New-York based gay-rights firm sued the courts for denying 6 homosexual couples their marriage licenses. Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only other states in the nation to permit gay marriages after California took back their decision to briefly allow for gay marriages. The New York Times reported that Iowa’s Supreme Court found the 1998 law that marriage is reserved for a man and woman to be unconstitutional.

March 29, 2009

Cause of Bridge Collapse Wrong

The New York Times reported that a new development in the cause of the I-35W bridge collapse points to the failure of a horizontal beam called a chord as the cause of the collapse, not the fracture of a key gusset plate that was originally the blame. The engineering firm, Thorton Tomasetti Inc. were able to figure out the actual cause, and claim the National Transportation and Safety Board got the cause wrong. The firm was hired by the lawyers representing the 117 families of victims and survivors from the collapse. Lead lawyer, Chris Messerly, says the firm was able to determine that the beam was under too much stress partly because of the hot weather, and the loads on top of the bridge the day of its collapse, according to the Star Tribune.

Gay Marriage in Vermont Threatened by Veto

Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont said in a news conference he will veto the gay-marriage proposal if it passes in the Legislature reported the Star Tribune. He said Vermont’s civil union’s law, the first in the nation to be passed in 2000, granted enough rights to same-sex couples and that marriage should be saved for a man and a woman. He hoped that by voicing his opinion on the bill up front they could move on from the debate more quickly. Law makers vowed to keep fighting for the bill after it passed in the Senate Tuesday by a voiced vote and a 26-4 vote in its preliminary hearing. The New York Times reported that some legislatures reacted with disappointment to the Governor’s statements and worried they would not have enough votes to override a veto.

March 21, 2009

'Massage Therapist' Takes Cash

An Oklahoma man was robbed of his casino winnings by two women claiming to be massage therapists at the hotel the Associated Press reported in the New York Times. The man won about $2,000 at the Creek Nation Casino, then invited the women to gamble with him and go home with him for drinks around 4 a.m. Monday police said. The woman claimed they were massage therapists, removed his pants, and took off with his cash. After hearing his description, an officer recognized the 21-year-old women at a gas station and had them arrested after finding large amounts of cash and marijuana in their car.

Phish Returns!

13,800 screaming fans showed up at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va. Friday evening to celebrate the return of the four members of the band Phish that had not been on tour together since August 2004 reported the New York Times. When the band announced their reunion and return to touring in September, it appeared that almost every hotel within a 20 mile radius of the Coliseum was booked solid for the weekend shows. Not only that but very few people at the show paid the face value for tickets, which was $49.50, instead it seamed most people were paying hundreds for a ticket to one night’s show. The Times reported of rave-reviews with the almost universal opinion that Phish is much tighter and more energetic than the band that toured 5 years ago. However the Star Tribune reported that however the concert was a complete hit, the band was not the fearless, flawless Phish of the 1990’s pre-breakup.

March 6, 2009

California's Supreme Court Hearing on Same-Sex Marriages

California’s Supreme Court will hear arguments to the Proposition 8 measure taken last November by “traditional-marriage supporters” on Thursday according to the New York Times. The three hour hearing is just for the court to hear oral arguments to Proposition 8 and will take up to 90 days to reach a decision on the matter. Gay-Rights supporters have been rallying around the hearing, and plan to have a jumbo screen out front of the court for spectators to watch the hearing on. Advocates of Proposition 8 may be protesting, but the campaign manager for the leading group behind the proposal has asked that any supporters who choose to show up Thursday not provoke confrontation, and not carry signs unless they bare positive language. The Star Tribune reported that on Wednesday night, protestors marched from San Francisco’s pro-gay Castro District to City Hall to demonstrate public protest against Proposition 8.

Boat Accident Involves 2 N.F.L. Players

After their boat capsized, one man was rescued and three, including two N.F.L. players, remain missing in the Gulf of Mexico reported the New York Times. Nick Schulyer, was rescued Monday after being found clinging to the capsized 21-foot boat just off the coast of Clearwater, Florida. Of the remaining three men, Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith are N.F.L. football players, and Will Bleakley, a former player, are yet to be found. The four men went out on a fishing trip on Saturday when the waters turned rough creating almost 15-foot waves, and their boat capsized as they were pulling up the anchor. All 3 reportedly had their life jackets on, and the men’s size might help insulate them from hypothermia, but the amount of time they have spend in the water will be working against them. The Star Tribune reported the search ended at sundown Tuesday (coincidentally the exact time I am writing this, and the sun has just barely set) and the three men, including the two N.F.L. players were not found.


February 28, 2009

Pentagon lifts Ban on Photographing Victims of War

The Pentagon is finally reversing their 18-year-old policy about allowing the press to photograph the coffins of the dead returning from the war in Iraq according to the New York Times. The policy was first instated by George H. W. Bush back in 1991. He claimed it was to protect the privacy and dignity of the families of the dead, but critics say it was just to keep the real outcomes of the war from reaching Americans. The policy was reinstated a year ago by the George W. Bush Administration. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration is reversing that 18-year-old law and allowing for photographs of flag covered caskets being returned from Iraq. The new policy requires the permission from family members before caskets are photographed and released.

February 22, 2009

School Buses Set on Fire Near City Plagued With Arson

Seven school buses were set on fire over the weekend near a city in southern Pennsylvania which has been hit with arson many times before according to the New York Times.
Firefighters were called to North Brandywine Middle School early Sunday morning to soak seven burning buses said authorities in West Brandywine Township.
Investigators said the fires were set on purpose, and caused an estimated $400,000 in damages. No suspects have been named.
Coatsville, a city just north of the township, has had a reported 66 arson cases in the past year, and only two people have been arrested in those cases reported the Star Tribune.

A Record Number of Suicides for a U.S. Military Academy

After four suicides in the last year, the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York is going through a 30-day suicide prevention program with an Army-wide training session and an interactive video, the New York Times reports.
The video features a suicidal soldier and depicts the choices he confronts as he spirals downward, with one set of choices leading to improved mental health, and the other to tragedy.
"We're doing everything we can to study these cases, understand why they happened, and see what we can do to move ahead," said Academy Chaplin Col. John Cook.
After the 30-day training there will be a two-month program in which leaders will communicate with every cadet and staff member about suicide prevention.
This all came about after the recent, unrelated suicides of two cadets, as well as two suicide attempts within the last month the Star Tribune reported. Those followed two suicides by staff members last summer.

February 15, 2009

Plane Crash in Buffalo, N.Y. Possibly Due to Policy Violation

A commuter plane crashed in into a house near Buffalo Thursday night killing 50 people as reported by the New York Times.
The plane landed on its belly with almost no forward momentum facing the opposite direction of its destination leading investigators to believe the plane suffered an aerodynamic stall.
Recent updates to the story in the Star Tribune confirm the plane was on autopilot when it crashed which is a possible violation of policy.
Steve Chealander of the National Transportation Safety Board says Colgan Air recommends pilots fly manually in icy conditions. Pilots are required to do so in severe ice to get a feel for how the plane is reacting to the icy conditions.

February 8, 2009

Ice Flow Breaks From Lake Erie Killing 1 Man

Fisherman in Oak harbor, Ohio were trapped on a miles-wide sheet of ice that broke free from the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, leaving one man dead, and 134 to be rescued according to the New York Times.
The fishermen were alerted to the situation via cell phone calls from the mainland. Some immediately went east in search of an ice bridge back to shore.
About an hour later, rescue helicopter arrived on scene and dropped buckets to lift the fishermen to safety.
While the New York Times could not identify the single fatality, the Star Tribune reported that Leslie Love, 65, of New Albany, Ohio died of a heart attack when his snowmobile fell through the ice as he was searching for a safe passage to shore according to the Ottawa County Sherif’s Office.
One other man fell through the ice while driving his ATV across a small crack, but rescuers pulled him from the fridged waters and he survived with minor injuries.
According to the Tribune, the men will be fined, if they ever need to be rescued in the same situation again, for being out on the ice in those unsafe conditions.

Fake Parking Ticket Scam By U.S. Hackers

U.S. hackers are now using real world situations to trick victims into downloading malicious viruses on their computers as reported by BBC news online.
Vehicles in Grand Forks, North Dakota were the targets of this scheme with fake parking tickets that prompted vehicle owners to a website where they could “view pictures with information about their parking preferences.?
The website then directed the user to download a toolbar to view photos of their vehicle, which was actually a virus. When computers were rebooted a security alert appeared prompting the user to download fake anti-virus software.
“Attackers continue to come up with creative ways of tricking potential victims into installing malicious software,? anti-virus analyst, Lenny Zelster said. He also warned that this would not be the last time this would happen.
According to CNET News, McAfee's Avert Lab’s Blog identified the Trojan as Vundo, and urges users not to access it.

February 1, 2009

House Passes Obama's $819 Economic Stimulus Plan

Wednesday, President Obama’s purposed $819 billion stimulus bill was passed in the House of Representatives by a majority democratic win as reported by the Star Tribune.
The bill was primarily for increased spending and tax cuts nation wide to prevent the loss of thousands more jobs. While it wont create many jobs, the bill will create programs and projects, which will help to create jobs down the line.
Prior to this event, the New York Times reported the bill was actually an $825 billion stimulus package, which would test Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship.
The vote was close, but the Democrats took the lead, and the Republicans were unanimously against the bill, which is on its way to be debated over in the Senate.
"This recovery plan will save or create more than three million new jobs over the next few years," the president said in a written statement released shortly after the House meeting, as reported in the Star Tribune.
Republicans disagreed with the amount of tax cuts, saying there was too few, and way too much spending for our government. They wonder where the money is going to be coming from to fund such a legislation.