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April 26, 2009

"Morning-after pill to be available to 17-year-olds over counter"

As reported by The Los Angeles Times, "The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it would allow 17-year-olds to buy the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B without a prescription."

The change in policy occurred after U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman rejected a policy last month from the Bush administration that restricted people under the age of 18 from purchasing non-prescribed emergency contraceptive pills.

The FDA agreed to Korman's ruling. The LA Times wrote that, in a statement Wednesday, the FDA said that it would "support expanded marketing of Plan B to 17-year-olds upon receipt of a request from the drug's manufacturer. Males 17 and older could also buy the drug for their partners."

"No useful purpose would be served by continuing to deprive 17-year-olds access to Plan B without a prescription," Korman said. "The record shows that FDA officials and staff both agreed that 17-year-olds can use Plan B safely without a prescription."

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights said she was glad for the policy change.

"We commend the FDA," Northup said. "It is a key step for the agency as it seeks to restore confidence in its ability to safeguard public health and leave politics at the lab door."

April 19, 2009

"Couple and their 3 children found dead in Maryland home"

According to The Los Angeles Times, "A father, 34, killed his wife and their three young children before fatally shooting himself in a northwest Maryland home," on Saturday.

Christopher Alan Wood killed himself after fatally shooting his wife, Francis Bilotti Wood, 33, and their children.

Their sons were ages 5 and 4, and their daughter was 2-years-old. The boys were found in their beds, the girl was found in the master bedroom with Francis and Christopher's body was at the foot of his bed.

The bodies were discovered around 9 a.m. Saturday, by a relative who immediately notified police.

The children had "traumatic cuts" in addition to the gunshot wounds.

"Investigators also found a shotgun and other items they believed were used to cut the victims," the LA Times reported.

"I'm still sick to my stomach," neighbor Peggy Lawrence said. "Makes you realize you never know what's going on in people's lives."

April 11, 2009

"Mom, infant killed by Tennessee tornado"

According to CNN, "A mother and her infant were killed by a tornado that hit Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on Friday."

Kori and her husband, John Bryant, strapped Olivia in to her car seat, "thinking it would be safer for her." The three were in the hallways of their home when the tornado hit.

Olivia was found in her car seat. Mark McClure, a family member, said that "attempts were made to resuscitate" her, but she couldn't be saved.

John was taken to Vanderbuilt University Hospital after he was found a few houses away. After his blood pressure stabilizes, he will have surgery to help his broken back and ribs, and one collapsed lung.

The tornado injured around 36 people and either damaged or destroyed roughly 250 homes.

Donnie Smith, a public information officer with the Tennessee Department of Emergency Management in Nashville, said search-and-rescue operations continued throughout Friday evening.

April 5, 2009

"Urinating dog triggered argument resulting in 3 officers' deaths"

According to CNN, three police officers were fatally shot Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while responding to a 911 call of a domestic argument "triggered by a urinating dog."

Police arrested Richard Poplawski, 22, after the four-hour standoff. Authorities said Poplawski would be charged with three counts of homicide, aggravated assault and other charges.

Around 7 a.m. Saturday, Margaret Poplawski, Richard's mother, called police to report her son for "giving her a hard time."

After Margaret discovered that "the dog had urinated on the floor," she and Richard had an argument.

Officers Stephen Mayle and Paul Sciullo III responded to the call, and Margaret let them in her home.

Margaret heard gunshots shortly after the officers came inside. Her son, wearing a bullet-proof vest, had shot them from about six feet away with an AK-47. She then fled to her basement, where she stayed for the rest of the standoff.

Police Chief Nathan Harper said "Sciullo was the first to approach the home, and was shot in the head as he entered the doorway. When Mayle tried to help his fellow officer, he was also shot in the head." Officer Eric Kelly then arrived at the scene, and was "shot before he could aid the two officers."

According to Margaret, Richard had enlisted in the Marine Corps a few years ago. He was discharged during basic training after assaulting his drill sergeant. She said that, since his discharge, he had been "stockpiling guns and ammunition, buying and selling the weapons online, because he believed that as a result of the economic collapse, the police were no longer able to protect society."

"We have never had to lose three officers in the line of duty on one call," Harper, the police chief, said. "They have paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The three fatalities were the first for the department since 1995.

March 29, 2009

"8 killed in North Carolina nursing home"

A North Carolina man, 45, killed seven residents and a nurse in a nursing home Sunday morning.

The gunman, Robert Stewart, wounded three others, including the police officer who stopped the incident.

The incident began around 10 a.m. in the North Carolina Sandhills. Officer Justin Garner, 25, ended the attack after wounding Stewart. Garner was shot in the leg.

According to the LA Times, Stewart was charged Sunday with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single charge of felony assault of a law enforcement officer.

Investigators concluded that Stewart was not involved with the nursing home and his victims in any way, and declined to comment on a possible motive.

March 15, 2009

Man kills 4 at family gathering in Miami before going home and shooting himself

A Miami man fatally shot his estranged wife and three others Sunday, set his house and truck on fire and then killed himself.

The man, whose name was not released, arrived at a birthday party he was uninvited to and, according to homicide detective Ervens Ford, "told about a dozen people there that he blamed them for his wife leaving him."

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, he open fired, killing his wife, 51, and his wife's mother and daughter. The other victim, whose birthday was being celebrated, was the daughter's boyfriend.

Police said that "the man and his wife were married about four years." They didn't know when she left him.

Juan Sosa, a neighbor, called police after he heard gunshots and saw people running from the birthday party. The second call to police came from someone who saw the man's house and truck on fire and heard more gunshots.

Neighbors of the gunman said "there had never been any problems with police and the man and his wife were often seen in their yard barbecuing."

March 8, 2009

"1 dead in Illinois church shooting"

A gunman killed a minister and injured two congregation members of an Illinois church during Sunday morning's service.

According to the Los Angeles Times, pastor Fred Winters was killed after the unidentified suspect shot him with a .45-caliber handgun.

As told by Master Trooper Ralph Timmins, "the man walked down the aisle during the early service at First Baptist Church in Maryville." The gunman "exchanged words" with Winters, pulled out a gun and shot Winters once.

After the suspect's gun jammed, he "pulled out a knife and injured himself." Congregation members tried to restrain the suspect. Two were injured.

The LA Times reported that "Timmins said officials didn't know if Winters and the suspect knew each other."

Winters was a pastor at First Baptist for almost 22 years and a father of two.

March 1, 2009

"2 NFL players among boaters missing in Florida"

According to CNN, "two NFL players are among four boaters missing since Saturday night off Florida's Gulf Coast."

Marquis Cooper, a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders, and Corey Smith, who played for the Detroit Lions for the past three seasons, have not been seen or heard from since they left for a fishing trip on Saturday near Clearwater, Florida.

The other two missing are William Bleakley and Nick Schuyler, former University of South Florida football players.

The Coast Guard started searching for the four men around 2 a.m. Sunday. Most of their search has been done by air because of "poor visibility from heavy waves.

As reported by CNN, "searchers have focused on 750 square miles of open water in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles west of Clearwater Pass." The men had left around 6:30 a.m. Saturday from the Seminole Boat Ramp.

The boat the men took out, is a center-console 21-foot single-engine vessel made by Everglades Boats. It's considered to be "unsinkable."

Cooper's father, Bruce, described his son as an "avid fisherman."

"Fishing is his first love, it always has been," Cooper's wife, Rebekah, said. "I have a lot of faith in him out there."

Family, friends and teammates of the four men have been expressing their prayers and concerns over the incident.

"It feels like my greatest fear coming true -- it doesn't feel real," Rebekah said on Sunday afternoon. "I'm just waiting for a phone call."

February 22, 2009

"Boy, 11, accused of killing father's pregnant girlfriend"

According to CNN, "an 11-year-old boy is facing adult charges in the shooting death of his father's pregnant girlfriend, authorities said Saturday."

Kenzie Marie Houk, 26, who was eight months pregnant, was found dead in her bed Friday by her 4-year-old daughter. Police say that Houk was shot "once at pointblank range" in her western Pennsylvania farmhouse.

As CNN reported, the boy, whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile, was charged with "one count each of criminal homicide and homicide of an unborn child."

In Pennsylvania, anyone accused of murder or homicide, who is more than 10 years old, is charged as an adult. If the unidentified boy is convicted, he will face a maximum life sentence in prison, according to Lawrence County District Attorney John Bongivengo.

Investigators said that the weapon used in the incident belonged to the boy. It was a "youth model 20-gauge shotgun, designed for use by children."

"This is something that you wouldn't even think of in your worst nightmare, that you'd have to charge an 11-year-old with homicide," Bongivengo said. "At this point, we don't believe it's accidental."

February 15, 2009

"Philadelphia officer shot, killed"

A Philadelphia police officer was fatally shot in front of the Olney Transportation Center Friday night.

Officer John Pawlowski, 25, was "wounded after he and his partner responded to a report of a 'fight on the highway,'" police told Philly News.

The "fight" was a "confrontation" between two men, a cab driver and a "thug," as described by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.

According to Philly News, police reported that the gunman "approached the cabbie and demanded money" around 8 p.m. The cabbie told the man that he would call the police.

"If you call the cops, I'm shooting you and the cops," the suspect said.

The cabbie called the police, and identified the man for Pawlowski and his partner. The man fired a .357 Magnum handgun as the officers approached him, striking Pawlowski in the chest.

Pawlowski's partner fired back at the man, and took him in to custody. The suspect's name has not been released.

Officer Pawlowki was pronounced dead around 9 p.m. at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

Philly News reported that the suspect's name will not be released "until confirmed through fingerprints."

Pawlowski left behind his wife, Kim, who is expecting the couple's first child.

February 8, 2009

Three Killed in Manhattan Shooting

Two men and a woman were fatally shot in a Manhattan apartment Saturday in a possible "murder-suicide."

As reported by The New York Times, police officers have not released the victims' identities or give further details on the shooting. Found in an eighth-floor apartment on the Upper West Side, one of the dead men had a handgun on his lap. The other man and the woman were "found on the floor."

Neighbors in the building heard gunshots on Friday evening, but did not call 911. On Saturday, the superintendent called the police. "The police said it was unclear what prompted" him to call, The New York Times reported.

Two blocks away from Central Park, residents of the apartment building said their community is "friendly and full of families and children."

February 1, 2009

Phelps: One Smokin' Swimmer

A photo of Michael Phelps, published Sunday in a British newspaper, shows the fourteen-time Olympic gold medalist smoking a marijuana pipe.

According to The New York Times, the image was photographed at a University of South Carolina house party in November, which Phelps was visiting during a break from training. News of the World, the paper that published the photo, did not make an allegation that Phelps was inhaling an illegal substance from the pipe. However, the pipe seen in Phelps' hands is typically used for smoking cannabis.

Phelps, who failed to deny the authenticity of the photo, apologized in a recently released statement.

"I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again," Phelps said.

While Phelps' actions will not affect his most recent Olympic gold medal winnings, he will probably see a decline in his number of endorsements and sponsors.

David Howman, executive director of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has stated that even if Phelps was smoking marijuana in the photo, the substance is "not banned out of competition. It's only if you test positive in competition."

As written by The New York Times, Howman said Phelps could be punished under code of conduct rules if "sufficient evidence to indicate possession or distribution" is found.

"Michael is a role model, and he is well aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with setting a positive example for others, particularly young people. In this instance, regrettably, he failed to fulfill those responsibilities," the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) said.

The USOC stated that it has recognized Phelps' apology, and that its group members "are confident that, going forward, Michael will consistently set the type of example we all expect from a great Olympic champion."