Study finds link between 3M-made chemical and cancer

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A chemical made by the 3M Co. found in drinking water may be linked to cancer of the testicles and the kidneys, according to a panel of scientists.

The panel studied the effects of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, in drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia, but smaller amounts of the same chemical have been found in Washington County, the Pioneer Press said.

There is no reason to think there is an increased cancer risk in Minnesota based on the study, said Jean Johnson, epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health.

The findings are inconsistent with those of other studies and must be backed up by further research, she said.

"I am not discounting it - it's something we will have to watch," Johnson said. The PFOA found in Washington County residents is about one-tenth the level found in residents of Ohio and West Virginia, she said.

A panel of scientists formed in 2005 by a judge in West Virginia completed the study, sctimes.com said. The judge ruled that residents had been drinking traces of PFOA that leaked into the groundwater from a nearby DuPont Corp. plant and told the panel to study the health effects.

The three-scientist panel studied the health records of 32,000 people in the area, sctimes.com said. It found 19 people had testicular cancer and 113 had kidney cancer. The panel found that the higher the level of PFOA in their bodies, the greater the rates of those cancers.

In an email written by 3M medical director Dr. Larry R. Zobel, 3M gave this response to the study:

"In more than 25 years of medical surveillance, we have observed no adverse health effects in our employees resulting from their exposure to ... PFOA," Zobel said.

"This is very important since the level of exposure in the general population is much lower than that of production employees who worked directly with these materials."

Analysis: Records/ CAR

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This week we discussed computer-assisted learning. I looked at an article about how Orange County has changed using 1940 census data.

In addition to the text itself, the article contains video content, links to charts and graphics on the census data, and an explanation on how to determine the important information in the census data.

I think the extra content helps the reader to further understand the point the author is trying to develop throughout the text. Some people are visual learners, and can pick up on the important content through the graphics and video instead of filtering through some of the text. In my opinion, graphics and video are a fun alternative to the print we usually see throughout a newspaper.

The family of Barbara and Gerald Heil will finally be able to bring the White Bear Lake couple home.

Friends and family shared messages of relief after learning from Italian authorities Tuesday that the couple's bodies were among the remains of five passengers recovered several weeks ago from the wreck of the cruise ship, the Pioneer Press said.

The Heil family issued a statement saying they can now move forward and bring their parents home to rest, WCCO radio said.

The family also expressed thanks for the support they've received from friends, colleagues, neighbors, family and loved ones, as well as people they never met who sent words of encouragement and prayers.

The Heils were the only Americans among the missing after the Costa Concordia cruise ship struck a reef near a Tuscan island and capsized. Some 4,200 people were on board, the Press said.

After putting their kids through school, the retired couple looked forward to the 16-day cruise. Gerald Heil was 69; his wife was 70.

Peace has been found by the Heil family, indicated by the final two lines on the family's website dedicated to the couple.

"We know our parents are together and are happy," the site said. "We look forward to the day when we can all be together again."

AAR to Bring 225 Jobs to Duluth

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Aircraft repair giant AAR Corp. has agreed to take over most of the vacant former Northwest Airlines maintenance facility and bring as many as 225 jobs to the city of Duluth.

The signed letter of intent with the city, announced Tuesday, will let AAR's maintenance, repair and overhaul group occupy 152,000 square feet of the former Northwest hangar, the Star Tribune said. AAR said it plans to hire up to 225 people once the Duluth hangar is operating at full capacity.

"We are making a commitment to Duluth, and today's signing is a major step in establishing a presence here," said Dany Kleiman, AAR's group vice president for maintenance, repair and overhaul. "We hope to become an integral part of the Duluth business community in the coming months."

Duluth Mayor Don Ness said in a prepared statement that this is an important day in the city's history, WDIO-TV said.
"This was a true team effort and our partners worked tirelessly to achieve this important announcement," he said.

Egypt presidential poll bans on candidates upheld

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Ten candidates who had applied to run in the Egyptian presidential election have lost their appeals against disqualification, officials say.

A judicial panel found no new evidence was offered by the hopefuls, including ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman and Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shaer, BBC said.

A conservative Salafist, Hazem Abu Ismail, also lost his appeal. The three were considered front runners.

The outcome was largely expected after the candidates appealed the commission's Saturday ruling, the Los Angeles Times said.

The failed appeal has added to a chaotic presidential race and led to fear that Islamists may ignite street protests to upset the nation's transition to democracy after last year's toppling of President Hosni Mubarak.

The decision reshapes the election, BBC said.

Ismail and hundreds of his backers held a sit-in Tuesday night outside the election commission's headquarters, chanting "God is great." Clerics called for calm while scuffles occurred with police, the Times said.

A final list of candidates will be published on 26 April, when the election campaign officially begins.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which assumed presidential powers after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down by an uprising last year, is due to hand over to the new president on July 1, BBC said.

Citigroup Shareholders Dismiss Executive Pay Plan

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Citigroup Inc. investors rejected the bank's $15 million pay package Tuesday for its chief executive, Vikram Pandit, a first among the six largest U.S. lenders.

The shareholder vote, which comes amid a rising national debate over income equality, suggests that anger over pay for chief executives has spread from Occupy Wall Street to wealthy institutional investors, the New York Times said.

About 45 percent of the votes favored the plan, which Citigroup had argued would help attract and retain top talent, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

"C.E.O.'s deserve good pay but there's good pay and there's obscene pay," said Brian Wenzinger, a principal at Aronson Johnson Ortiz, a Philadelphia money management company that voted against the pay package.

Though the vote isn't binding, outgoing Chairman Richard Parsons said changes will be made.

"That's a serious matter," Parsons said during his final Citigroup shareholders' meeting as chairman. The board will seek a more quantitative, formula-based method for setting top executives' pay, he said.
"We're going to have some more conversation with our shareholders, make sure we understand their concerns and then fix it," he said.

Shareholders rarely vote against compensation plans, the Times said. The votes are part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that mandates that public companies include "say on pay" votes for shareholders to express opinions about compensation.

The rejection is a rarity for companies in the U.S., which temporary imposed pay curbs on financial firms as part of the industry's $700 billion U.S. bailout in 2008, the Chronicle said. Only 41 firms among the Russell 3000 Index failed last year to win a majority for executive pay plans, according to Ted Allen, a spokesman for ISS Proxy Advisory Services. Just three have been rejected this year, none of them at banks, Allen said.

Santorum drops out of Republican race

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Rick Santorum cleared the way for Mitt Romney to claim victory in the long and hard-fought battle for the Republican nomination Tuesday, giving up his "against all odds" campaign as Romney's tenacious conservative rival.

Santorum's withdrawal sets up a seven-month fight for the presidency between Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and Democratic President Barack Obama, the La Crosse Tribune said.

"We made a decision to get into this race at our kitchen table, against all the odds, and we made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race is over for me, and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting," Santorum said during an address in Gettysburg, Pa.

"This game is a long, long, long way from over," he said. "We are going to continue to go out there and fight to make sure that we defeat President Barack Obama."

The Pennsylvania Republican had pledged to continue campaigning through the upcoming Pennsylvania primary, huffingtonpost.com said. Due to the combination of his daughter's ailing health and recent poll numbers showing him possibly losing his home state may have prompted the early departure.

According to Yahoo! News, Santorum called Romney earlier in the day to inform him of his decision to suspend his campaign, though he did not endorse him in his speech.

"This has been a good day for me," Romney told supporters in Wilmington, Del., saying he believes Santorum "will continue to have a major role" in the Republican Party.

Romney has begun looking ahead to Obama, even though Santorum refused to get out of the race earlier, the Tribune said.

Mega Millions winners come forward

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Two public school teachers and a school administrator who call themselves "The Three Amigos" are sharing the spoils of last month's record Mega Millions jackpot, Maryland Lottery officials said Tuesday.

The Maryland winners claimed their proceeds Monday and chose to remain anonymous, MercuryNews.com said. The lottery agency shared some details in a news conference, however, including the fact that each of the three friends works multiple jobs to make ends meet.

The three friends - a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 50s and a man in his 40s - work in Maryland's public education system, msnbc.com said.

"If it can't be you, these people are precisely the people you would want to see win," Maryland Lottery director Stephen Martino said.

Lottery officials said the three winners each contributed $20 to purchase 60 tickets at three different locations.

The night of the drawing, the woman who purchased the tickets laid them out on her floor, watching the winning numbers come in, msnbc.com said. After collecting herself from a state of disbelief at realizing she'd won, she called her two friends right away.

According to the Maryland Lottery, the winners chose the cash option of $158 million. After taxes, they will take home just under $35 million each.

The winning Maryland ticket is one of three nationally that split the $656 million jackpot, the biggest in Mega Millions history, MercuryNews.com said.

The trio plan to invest their winnings, but they also plan to fulfill a few dreams. The man told lottery officials that he planned to help his children with college expenses, pay off his house and buy his sister a house. One woman planned to go backpacking through Europe with her brother and the other woman plans to tour Italy's wine country.

EU court: UK can send 5 terror suspects to US

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Britain can extradite a radical Muslim cleric and four other suspects to the United States to face terrorism charges, Europe's human rights court ruled Tuesday.

The case centering on Mustafa Kamal Mustafa, also know as Abu Hamza al-Masri, considered Britain's most recognizable extremist, has been closely watched as a sign of Europe's view on tough U.S. prisons, The Associated Press said.

The ruling was viewed as one of the most important court decisions on the prosecution of terrorism suspects since the Sept. 11 attacks, the New York Times said, even though the defendants could not be extradited before further legal procedures were completed.

"Detention conditions and length of sentences of five alleged terrorists would not amount to ill-treatment if they were extradited to the U.S.A.," the judges said.

Before Tuesday's ruling, lawyers acting for Hamza said they would argue at the European court, which is based in Strasbourg, France, that the prospect of an American prison term of 50 years or more for their client would be a breach of his human rights.

Based on charges filed in the United States, Hamza and four other suspects could get lifelong jail terms in America without parole in maximum-security conditions, including concrete furniture, timed showers, tiny cell windows and no outside communications, the Times said.

The court, however, ruled that it would be legal for Britain to extradite all five suspects.

Hamza is a distinctive figure, with one eye and a steel hook in place of his right hand, as a result of injuries to his arms and face sustained in what he has described as land-mine explosions while fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Times said.

The European court said Tuesday that American authorities would consider Hamza's detention in the supermax prison "impossible because of his disabilities," notably the "amputation of his forearms."

The court postponed a ruling in a sixth case while awaiting further detail about the suspect's psychological condition.

Khalid al-Fawwaz, a Saudi citizen, and Adel Abdul Bary, who is Egyptian, are wanted over the 1988 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, The Associated Press said. Al-Fawwaz, allegedly Osama bin Laden's representative in Britain, has been charged with more than 269 counts of murder.

Best Buy CEO resigns

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Best Buy said Tuesday that its CEO, Brian Dunn, has resigned.

The Richfield-based electronics company said in a statement that Dunn's departure was in "mutual agreement that it was time for new leadership to address the challenges that face the company," the Star Tribune said.

Dunn said he leaves Best Buy in a position for a strong future.

"I am proud of my fellow employees and I wish them the best," he said in the company statement.

Dunn's departure came despite him telling analysts recently that "I'm excited about the strategy we have for the future and the specific actions we have put in place to improve the business."

Best Buy said there were no disagreements with Dunn on any matter relating to operations, financial controls, policies or procedures, the Washington Post said.
Board member Mike Mikan will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a permanent replacement.

"We thank Brian Dunn for his many years of service to the company and wish him well in his next endeavors," said company founder Richard Schulze. "As we move forward, we are very pleased to have a strong leader with Mike Mikan's credentials as interim CEO."

Through most of his three-year tenure, Dunn endured criticism for his stewardship of the struggling consumer electronics giant, the Tribune said. Despite frequent calls for his dismissal, Dunn presided over some of the biggest changes in Best Buy's history.

Last month, the retailer said it would close 50 big-box stores and cut 400 corporate positions to save $800 million over three years. The company's core market, big-ticket consumer electronics items like PCs and flat-panel televisions, has been rapidly shrinking as more consumers migrate to the Internet for their shopping, the Tribune said.

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