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September 30, 2007

Bush says Clinton will top Obama

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007. Written by the Associated Press.

Typically, President Bush tries to remain silent on future politics and issues of the 2008 Presidential campaign. He even had a personal rule against stating his views. But he finally gave in and expressed his opinion that Hilary Clinton will probably beat Obama in the primaries and end up receiving the Democratic nominee. However, Bush also believes that the Republicans can beat her in the actual Presidential Race.

Bush says that Clinton can win the primaries because of her "great national presence". She also has the available funds in order to run a good campaign. It will be difficult for the Republicans, but Bush thinks they can do it.

Bush also gave his opinions on the Republican nominees. He is surprised that Giuliani is still the frontrunner thus far because he says that Giuliani has some liberal tendancies in areas such as social and cultural issues. But, the fact that Giuliani is so popular so far shows just how much Republicans care about the terrorism issue.

The final comment from President Bush was that Republicans should not give up on Arizona Senator John McCain. He had some difficulty earlier this year, but he has been able to revive the campaign recently.

New smoking ban

Original article appeared on startribune.com on Sunday, Sep. 30, 2007. Written by Mark Brunswick.

As of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, the smoking ban has gone statewide. For the last couple of years no smoking has been allowed in restaurants in Hennepin County, but now, no smoking will be allowed in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, or any other public facility for the entire state of Minnesota.

It is not a huge fine for individuals if you do break the law and smoke in one of the restricted places. But it will cost you up to $300. However, if a private business chooses to allow smoking in these areas, then they can be fined up to $10,000. Also, they must place "No Smoking" signs outside of restaurants and other places where it is not allowed.

Smoking is still allowed in outdoor areas and in casinos. But, indevidual cities are allowed to make no smoking ordances for themselves.

Minnesota is not the only state to issue a state-wide no smoking ban. Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, and 22 other states also have laws on smoking.

Japan's premier cites bad health for resignation

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007. Written by the Associated Press.

On September 12, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resigned his position. It was Tuesday, Sep. 25, when he and his cabinet ended up vacating the offices that they held.

It was unclear at the time of his resignation as to why he was quitting in the middle of a term, but the very next day he checked himself into a hospital because he has severe intestional problems which were caused by the stress of his job as prime minister.

Abe is 53, but he is being replaced by a man who is 71. The new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is the son of a former prime minister. He was elected by the Japanese Parliment after a very quick ballot and vote.

Long way back to normal

Original article appeared on Star Tribune.com on Sunday, Sep. 30, 2007. Written by Curt Brown.

Earlier this month, a court ruled in favor of Golden Valley man, Al Hixon, who was wrongfully arrested and beaten by the police. He received a settlement of $778,000 for the pain that the whole situation has caused him. But even though trail is over, he is still having a ton of difficulty getting on with his life.

Hixon was once a very joyful and friendly man. But the way the police treated him and that whole situation has caused him severe post-tramatic stress syndrome and depression. He spends a lot of time in bed, and doesn't participate in family events like he used to. The trauma that he experienced has caused him to only focus on the event. He ends up sitting in a chair for hours on end reliving the day of his arrest over and over again.

Thankfully, he is beginning to get help. His wife described his healing process as beginning to go from a crawl to a shuffle. He has gotten a lot of encouragement from friends and neighbors to go and seek professional help. So finally, he has begun to go to mental health professionals. He still takes antidepressants and visits the psychiatrists office.

He has been going up and down in his recovery process, but his friends are very thankful that he even has some good days. He still will not drive the Jaguar which caused him to be at that gas station two years ago, but with time perhaps the healing will allow him to overcome that fear as well.

September 23, 2007

"I-35W Bridge Collapse: The Aftershocks"

Original article was found in the Star Tribune on September 23, 2007. Original story written by Pam Louwagie.

It has been almost two months since the I-35W bridge collapse on August 1. But for many people involved in the collapse the disaster lives on.

It has been a common issue for people who survived the collapse to feel great anxiety or to relive it in their heads again and again. People like Amy Lindholm still have back troubles, but aside from that, she has trouble sleeping at night because she feels like her bed will fall out from underneath her. She also has a fear of many other structures around her falling down.

Kimberly Brown and others refuse to park on ramps or other concrete structures that she feals might fall down. Brent Olson has discovered how much the little things in life mean to him, but e is having random memory loss symptoms which he supposes are related to drama from the bridge.

In order to try and get closure on some of these issues, many bridge survivors are meeting with one another on a weekly basis. Having a chance to share their struggles with the people who can relate has greatly aided in the healing process.

"Adrift in Africa"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Thursday Sep. 20, 2007. Written by the Associated Press.

The rainy season seems to be hitting Africa extra hard this year. All across the continent there is flooding with bridges, houses, and even whole towns being washed away. Over 17 million countries are experiencing the fury of the rain. These rain storms are affecting more than 1 million people and more will probably have some sort of trouble come their way before the rainy season is over. The death toll is up to 200 people. Hundreds of thousands have had to be relocated.

Help from humanitarian workers has been given out to those most in need. The World Food Program is working especially hard, but the weather is almost too much for them to keep up with.

The rain is still falling almost every day. Even when there are blue skies in the morning it can rain later on in the day. The water is leaving the land more in a wetland state than anything else.

September 22, 2007

"Electric blue may hold warming clue"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on Friday, September 21, 2007. Authored by Michael Milstein.

Global warming is continuing to leave more obvious signs of its existence. It has become a common occurance in places as far south as Oregon for there to be unusual cirrus clouds which turn bright blue at sundown and continue to glow brighter and brighter.

These clouds are called "noctilucent or night-shining clouds". In essence, they are cirrus clouds which build themselves 50 miles in a higher altitude than normal. They are probably caused by greenhouse gases which have made their way into the atmosphere in an increasing amount. A hundred and tweny years ago no such clouds even existed. Then for a long time they were only seen up in Canada and Scandinavia. The fact that they are occuring more frequently and at a lower latitude is a dangerous indication of global warming.

NASA is so curious about these clouds that they sent up a satellite to study them. The satellite was launched last Spring and is focusing its observation on the mesosphere where clouds are formed. It is hoped that from this study, Americans will have a better understanding of what it is that causes these clouds and how to prevent the effects of global warming from altering the earth any further.

"Lots of flu shots, but too few takers"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune on September 20, 2007. It was written by Maura Lerner.

Flu shot vaccine availability is on the rise, but many people who need the shot still don't get vaccinated. In Minnesota, many people are at risk for flu complications that could lead to death. In fact, last year during flu season, 88 people in Minnesota died from the flu. For the most part they were either elderly or very young with weakened ammune systems, but anyone can get sick from the flu. The safest way to prevent illness or death is to get a flu shot.

In the past, flu shots have been in limited supply, but this year more than 130 million doses will be available in the U.S. Minnesota's goal is to use those flu shots to get as many people as possible under 5-years-old and over 50-years-old vaccinated. Also, Minnesota seems to have an ongoing problem of health care workers who refuse to get vaccinated. Last year only 42% of healthcare workers nationwide were given the flu shot. Minnesota hopes to more than double that number by having 90% of healthcare workers vaccinated for influenza.

The official flu season will begin in October and end in May. So, it is good to be vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent yourself from getting terribly sick from the flu.

September 16, 2007

"Battling tainted water"

Original article found on September 16, 2007 in the Star Tribune Written by David Shaffer.

It has recently been discovered that much of the water in Washington County is contaminated with harmful chemicals. The total area for this contamination is almost 2 and1/2 times the size of Minneapolis. These chemicals have been seeping into groundwater for well over two decades and though much has been done to stop this, the water has now gotten to a point where dangerous amounts of chemicals are in the water. All most all residents of Washington County are having to get whole house filtration systems for their water. Otherwise, they cannot drink it or cook with it.

Fortunetaly, there have been no illnesses or that have come about because of this water situation, but further studies will have to be done to find out whether or not it causes cancer. Unfortunetaly, it is a difficult situation to fix. When water is contaminated, it is hard to separate the good water from the bad. So, the cleanup of this problem may take years and years.

The original cause of the chemicals is thought to be from industries that left polutants behind. Some of the specific chemicals in the water are the chemicals that are used to coat film on photographs and other chemicals used on 3M products.

"Liberia Makes First Diamond Export After U.N. Embargo"

Original article appeared at Star Tribune and was writen by James Butty on September 11, 2007.

In April, 2007, the United Nations lifted its embargo which prevented the shipment of blood diamonds from Liberia. These diamonds had been used to fuel the civil war there, but now the Liberian government has agreed to use the money from the diamonds on things which will benefit the rest of the country. For the most part, the money will be used to improve education and the road system in a country which needs to be rebuilt.

Last week, on September 6, the first shipment of diamonds since the embargo left Liberia. The shipment was valued at $222,000 American dollars. Liberia receives three percent royalties on all diamond shipments, so they were paid roughly $6,000.

"Jurors: Officer was too rough"

Original article found on September 14, 2007 in the Star Tribune. Written by Pat Pheifer.

Way back on April 2, 2005, a man named Al Hixon was wrongfully arrested by a police officer. Now, more than two years later, the jury has finally ruled in Hixon's favor and awarded him a sum of $778,000.

Officer Mario Hernandez was in hot pursuit of a man who had just robbed a U.S. Bank. The man was supposedly making his gettaway in a van that had parked at a Sinclair station. Hixon had taken his car to the gas station that day in order to have the oil changed. The getaway van ended up parking right next to Hixon's car. Therefore, when the police arrived, they ended up arresting the wrong man.

It is unclear what specifically took place, but according to Hixon, the police officer first handcuffed him and then sprayed him with pepper spray. The pepper spray caused him to vomit, and it caused him to "cough up mucous and blood".

The incident has caused Hixon much stress. Since the event, he has begun to suffer from "nightmares, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and depression". The money he has recieved will help him get his life back.

"Safer toys will cost consumers more"

Original story found on September, 14, 2007 in the Star Tribune. Written by Anne D'Innocenzio.

Millions of toys this summer have been recalled because they contained lead paint. Most of these dangerous toys were manufactured in China. China is a much cheaper place to produce toys, but now with all of the dangerous lead paint in so many of China's toys, more toys will have to be manufactured on the United States. Also, there will be more regulations on the making of toys.

All of this means that toy prices, across the country, will go up. With the added inconvenience of moving manufacturing plants into America, and with so many corporations spending money to have all of their toys tested, the prices of most toys is supposed to raise up to 10% by the new year.

Walmart and Toys R Us, the two largest toy sellers in the America, are greatly dissapointed by the dangerous situation for children. So, Toys R Us specifically is taking all branded products and sending them to be tested at an independant company. Walmart has always done all it could to keep prices low for consumers and is sorry that the toys will have to become more expensive. However, Walmart is willing to do whatever necessary to keep kids safe.

September 9, 2007

"Bridge Disaster Fund top $564,000"

Original article appeared on in the Star Tribune and was written by Pam Louwagie.

Citizens and other organizations around the Twin Cities have been extremely generous in the last month. Many charitable foundations have been taking in donations for the bridge disaster victims. Now, a month after the event, these funds will start to be distributed among the survivors. The money will mostly be used for all of the little unexpected expenses that have become a burden for people in the aftermath of the collapse. Along with the burden of transportation for some of the people who lost cars, there is the additional medical expenses, and the counseling expenses for those suffering from trauma after the disaster.

The money was collected from 1000 different charitable organizations and individuals who simple wanted to help. Also, corporations like Cub and Target donated food. People who were involved in the disaster say that these donations are a huge help and also it is just great knowing that someone is there who wants to help.

September 7, 2007

"Syria claims Israeli jets invaded its airspace"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune and was written by Jeffrey Fleishman of the Los Angeles Times.

The epic battle between Isreal and the rest of the Middle East has taken another spin. On Thursday, September 6, it has been reported that Israeli planes flew into Syrian airspace. The planes were then shot at by the Syrians and forced to leave. Also on Thursday, Israeli troops were "inside Gaza on a routine mission" when a battle broke out between Israel and the Palestinians. The result was that ten people were killed.

Both of these military actions point toward an impending was that is sure to eventually break out between Israel and the other Arab nations surrounding it. There are many reasons for this heightened tension. Israel is angered by "Syrian involvement in Lebenon and its support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip." Syria may be fighting to take back the Golan Heights which have been in Israel control since 1967.

It is unknown at this time whether or not peace attemps by the Israeli Prime Minister will be effective.

"No time to lose for Lake Superior fish"

Original story located in the Star Tribune and written by Par Ridder and Susan Albright.

Invasive species continue to be a problem for the regions and waterways into which they travel. Recently, the Great Lakes have become infected with a virus known as the viral hemorrhagic septicemia. This virus kills very valuable fish such as "walleyes, bass, and muskies". Fortunetaly, Lake Superior has not yet been known to have this deadly virus. However, if something is not done quickly to prevent the virus from spreading here, our fish will suffer the same fate as those of Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario.

There are many preventive methods currently being explored. The number one prevention is creating a law that states that ships are no longer allowed to dump untreated balast water into Lake Superior harbors and ports. It is typically on ships that infected waters travel.

"A new invasive species is discovered in the Great Lakes about every seven months." With each new species, protecting the old species becomes more difficult.

September 6, 2007

"Big Mistake: B-52 unknowingly loaded with six nukes"

Original article appeared in the Star Tribune and was written by the Associated Press.

The final week of August was marked with a dangerous airplane flight from the state of North Dakota to Louisiana. A B-52 bomber accidently flew from North Dakota with six armed nuclear bombs aboard. The actual day of this three hour long flight was August 30. This incident put no one in danger at any time, and yet it was extremely careless. The handling of nuclear bombs must be carefully overseen. Therefore a large investigation will be taking place to find out how this could have happened. Also, extra-special precations will be set up to ensure it never happens again.

President Bush was immediately informed as soon as the plane landed and the nuclear bombs were realized to be on board. Also, Defense Secretary Robert Gates "will now be asking for daily briefings on the Air Force investigation".

All of those involved in any way with the flight "have been temporarily decertified". The squadron commander was also immediately fired.