April 25, 2009

"Baby Shaker" application for iPhone pulled by Apple

Apple pulled an application called "Baby Shaker" from its online store Wednesday after the company received outraged complaints from child welfare groups.

The 99-cent-application, created by a company called Sikalosoft, was available for iPhone users to download on Monday through Apple's App store, said the New York Daily News.

The application shows a sketch of a infant. When the infant begins to cry, the user can shake the device to silence the infant. After enough shakes, the crying will stop and two red Xs will appear over the infant's eyes.

The day Apple posted the application also coincided with the beginning of Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week, said the
Chicago Tribune

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told the Chicago Tribune that the company evaluates the applications before they are posted. Obviously, she said, there was an error.

"This application was deeply offensive," she said. "We sincerely apologize for this mistake."

April 16, 2009

United Airlines institutes new policy regarding obese passengers

United Airlines announced Wednesday that the company will be implementing a new policy that places restrictions on obese passengers.

If a passenger is unable to fit in a single sit, wear a seat belt or put an armrest completely down, the airline's first action would be to find a pair of empty adjoining seats where the passenger could sit free of charge, said the Chicago Sun-Times.

If this cannot be done, the passenger would have to buy a second seat at the cost of the original seat or pay the cost of upgrading.

If this also cannot be done, the passenger would be asked to rebook their trip on the next available flight. If the passenger cancels the trip at this point, he or she would get a full refund.

United Airlines said they decided to adopt the policy after receiving more than 700 complaints last year, said The Guardian.

Critics suspect that there will be a considerable amount of protest since many flights are take-off at full or nearly-full capacity.

April 12, 2009

U.S. Captain is rescued from pirates

Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued by U.S. forces Sunday from Somalian pirates after being held captive since Wednesday.

Three of the captors were killed during the rescue mission.

Phillips was placed aboard the Navy destroyer Bainbridge and was flown by helicopter to another ship before he received a medical examination, said New York Times.

The pirates held Phillips since Wednesday in a motorized lifeboat after his crew had been released from the cargo ship.

Phillips was being held at ransom for $2 million.

The FBI began an investigation Saturday into the hijacking of the cargo ship, said CNN News.

The Justice Department will be reviewing evidence to decide whether charges will be brought against an uninjured pirate.

April 4, 2009

Sold-out crowd enjoys Britney Spears concert

The Target Center was filled Friday night for Britney Spears' first concert tour in five years, "The Circus Starring Britney Spears."

The big-top theme was enhanced by aerial artists, clowns, jugglers, contortionists, acrobats, a strong man, a magician and 16 dancers, said Star Tribune.

The concert began with a video introduction by Perez Hilton, a celebrity blogger, and continued with burlesque performances centered around the ringmaster, Spears.

The tour started in New Orleans on March 3 and will stop in 27 U.S. cities before going to Europe in June, said the Seattle Times.

The tour reaffirms the fact that Spears' life is finally starting to come together after having her divorce, custody battles and rehabilitation in the spotlight. Her "Circus" CD, which was released in December, has already sold more than a million copies.

March 29, 2009

Triathlons may cause fatal heart injuries

Triathlons are at least twice as likely to cause sudden death than marathons, according to a study released Saturday by the Minneapolis Heart Institute.

The risk is mainly increased because of the swimming portion in the triathlon, said MPR.

According to statistics, for every million participants in a triathlon, there will be 15 deaths. In a marathon, only four to eight will die.

Even though the risk may be low, triathlons are gaining popularity among people who are not used to such intense exercise. About 1,000 triathlons are held every year, many as charity fundraisers, and several hundred thousand Americans compete, said the Star Tribune.

Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, ked the study and presented his results at the American College of Cardiology conference in Florida.

Part of the reason the swimming portion is the most dangerous is because cold water constricts blood vessels, which makes the heart work harder and can even trigger an irregular heartbeat.

It is also harder to signal for help or slow down in the swimming portion than in the biking or running portions.

March 13, 2009

Hat worn by Aretha Franklin floods millinery with business

The hat worn by Aretha Franklin at President Obama's inauguration ceremony has caused business to boom at a Detroit millinery.

Luke Song, owner of Mr. Song Millinery, has received more than 5,000 orders for his spring version of the "Aretha Hat" since its debut at the inauguration, reported the New York Times.

The grey felt hat, which was adorned with a large, sloped, rhinestone-laced bow, will be on display at the Smithsonian until it moves to a permanent spot in Obama's presidental library, reported NME Magazine.

Although Song refused to sell replicas of Franklin's hat, the spring version, which is priced at $179, will be similar and available in several pastel colors.

Song's business, Moza Incorporated, made around $1 million in 2008; it is expected to make six or seven times more this year.

Franklin has been a frequent customer of Song's millinery for 20 years. He told the New York Times that he didn't know which hat Franklin would choose for the inauguration, because he sold her three to choose from, but he was glad with her decision.

“It was the one I was pushing her to wear," he told the New York Times.

Many of Song's customers wear the hats to church, synagogues and tea parties, and his hats range in price from $200 - $900.

March 8, 2009

Carbon monoxide leak in University of Chicago dorm

150 University of Chicago students were relocated Sunday when high carbon monoxide levels were detected in the dormitory's basement.

Firefighters arrived at 5454 S. Shore Dr. around 1:30 p.m after someone in the building reported a gas leak. The carbon monoxide levels were about 400 parts per million in the basement, said fire department spokesman Joe Roccasalva to the Chicago Tribune.

A building engineer was taken to a hospital in good to fair condition as a precaution.

The fire department evacuated the building and sent five ambulances to the dormitory as a precaution. Emergency crews shut down the boiler and carbon monoxide levels have been decreasing ever since, reported the Chicago Sun Times.

The dormitory is Shoreland Hall and has the capacity to hold 700 students. However only 150 students were in the dormitory at the time. They are currently being housed in a neighboring building.

February 28, 2009

Michigan woman gives birth to twins from separate uteri

A Michigan woman gave birth to twins in separate uteri Thursday at Marquette General Hospital.

Sarah Reinfelder, 21, delivered the two baby girls by separate cesarean sections because she has a condition called uterus didelphys, reported Marquette's Mining Journal.

According Dr. Connie Hedmark, one of the physicians that delivered the babies, all females have two uteri that grow together before birth. Uterus didelphys occurs when the two uteri do not grow together and results in two uteri and cervixes. The uteri are different sizes.

The chance that a woman could carry a baby at the same time in each uteri is about one in 5 million. In fact, only three other similar cases have been reported in 40 years.

The babies were seven months premature and will have to be hospitalized for three to four weeks in order for their lungs to become fully developed, according to an Associated Press article in the Los Angeles Times.

Reinfelder and her husband Shane Reinfelder, 23, also have a 10-month toddler. The couple is originally from Sault Ste. Marie but have been living in Marquette in order to be near the hospital.

The couple named their daughters Kaylin Joy and Valerie Marie.

February 22, 2009

New Ulm examines golf cart travel

The New Ulm City Council is considering whether golf carts should be allowed on city streets.

The council will review the issue this month, according to an AP article published in MPR.

The idea was brought up in 2008 when gas cost $4 per gallon. At the time, the council tabled the idea and decided to revisit it this month, reported the Mankato's Free Press.

A subcommitte has researched the idea and will make a recommendation to the council.

Two other nearby cities, North Mankato and Wells, also discussed the idea in 2007 but did not make any decisions.

If golf carts are allowed on the city streets, laws that include daylight operation only, mandatory installation of turn-signal lights and seat belts would be enforced.

February 15, 2009

Children's letters to Obama express hope, dreams

A free e-book, composed of 150 letters written by children to President Obama, is being released on President's Day.

The National Education Association and joined together to create the "Dear Mr. President" project.

Children ages 5-12 submitted their letters in January during the weeks leading up to the inauguration, according to the Associated Press printed in the Los Angeles Times.

Kidthing was flooded with more than 4,500 submissions on topics ranging from the war to climate change.

For example, a Latino child wrote, "Please change the immigration laws so my dad can come back from Mexico."

Other children, such as Aaron Van Blerkom, 7, wrote about less serious topics by saying,"Dear Mr. Obama, please make it rain candy!"

A hardcopy edition of the book will be sent to the White House for President Obama.

Seven-year-old Aaron Van Blerkom's letter was simpler — but no less problematic.

"Dear Mr. Obama," the Pasadena, Calif., first-grader began, "Please Make it rain candy!"

February 8, 2009

Minneapolis is seen as an unpopular place to live

Only 16 percent of Americans would like to live in Minneapolis, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The results, which were announced last Sunday, placed Minneapolis as the 5th least desirable place to live, reported USA Today.

The findings came from a telephone survey of 2, 260 adults in October.

The survey also found that almost half of Americans would like to live somewhere else. The factors that most heavily influenced where Americans chose to live were gender, age and political ideology.

The three most popular cities to live were Denver, San Diego and Seattle.

An editorial article from the disagrees with the findings. The reporter, Bill Ward, wrote comedic quips about some of the higher rated cities, such as Phoenix:

"Smoggy and stupefyingly hot. 'But it's a dry heat!' locals proudly proclaim. Uh, it's a hundred-and-freaking-fourteen, folks. Love those scorpions, too."

January 31, 2009

Unconventional books on display at Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center is currently showing a collection that features artist books as works of art. Many of the books on display in Text/Messages are from the museum's own library, which is run by librarian Rosemary Furtak.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, there were very few books by artists in the library when Furtak started her position in 1983. Since then, she has collected approximately 2,000 books, making the Walker Art Center an example for other art museums that are trying to develop their own libraries.

An interview with Furtak from the Twin Cities Daily Planet explains the difference between an artist book and a conventional book as simply being a book that has been designed by an artist.

"An artist book sometimes is a bit confusing in that maybe there is no text or no title page or no table of contents. It’s a book that refuses to behave like a normal book. It is something out of the ordinary."

Perhaps one of the most interesting exhibits is a copy of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali. Other exhibits include pop-up books, book sculptures, and books in other creative forms, such as a chess set or a boat.

The collection is being shown from now until April 19 in the Medtronic Gallery.