April 2012 Archives

Study finds link between 3M-made chemical and cancer

| No Comments

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

| 1 Comment

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

| No Comments

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

| No Comments

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

| No Comments

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

| 1 Comment

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

| 1 Comment

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

| No Comments

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

| No Comments

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.

Man convicted in St. Paul shooting

| No Comments

A St. Paul man tossed from a bar for fighting was convicted Monday for shooting a fellow patron who tried to break up a fight, the Star Tribune said.

Byron D. Brantley fatally shot Trevell Glass, 26, with a .44-caliber revolver across the street from Born's Bar last April 13, prosecutor John Ristad told a Ramsey County District Court jury during closing arguments.

The jury found Brantley, 32, guilty of second-degree murder in Glass' shooting and guilty of attempted second-degree murder in the shooting of Ryan L. Davis, then 28, the Tribune said.

Ristad said Brantley emptied the six-round revolver at Glass and Davis after Glass made a disparaging remark about the earlier fight. He also said Brantley tried three times to re-enter Born's after being kicked out.

The defense countered that there was no evidence that Brantley even fired a gun, the Pioneer Press said.

Brantley wanted the last word with Glass, Ristad argued, and that "last word" was delivered through the barrel of Brantley's .44-caliber Magnum revolver.

Ristad told the jury what Brantley had said to his friends as they returned to their car after the shootings, according to Xavier Buckhanan, who also was charged. He testified at Brantley's trial in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.

"You see that?" Buckhanan recalled Brantley saying to him and LeAndrews Miller, another accomplice. "Them n-----s was gettin' tough. I had to air them out."

Charges say Buckhanan told police last year that his cohorts that night were 52 Crips gang members. A photo displayed to jurors showed Brantley with a number "5" tattooed under his right eye and a "2" tattooed under his left, the Tribune said. Ristad said Davis could see the tattoos when the gunman opened fire from about 6 feet away.

District Judge Salvador Rosas set sentencing for June 15.

Analysis: Diversity

| No Comments

This week we began discussing diversity.
I looked at a Star Tribune that discusses tackles racial issues head-on.
The article profiles the African-American and other minority culture in the classroom, and provides statistics on minority students.
I think it looks beyond the stereotypes even though it focuses on minority groups in the classroom.
A person who I talked about the topic which said the stereotype portrayed in the article was accurate.

Charities receive clawback protection

| No Comments

Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law Tuesday legislation that would give extended immunity to charitable and religious organizations that unwittingly take donations and contributions that are the result of ill-gotten gains, the Star Tribune said.

The new law protects charities from liability for fraudulent donations by shortening the amount of time defrauded investors have to recover their money from charities, MPR news said.

The legislation became controversial in the days leading up to Dayton's signature when it was discovered the bill would seriously affect the potential for recovery of losses for victims of the Tom Petters Ponzi scheme, the biggest fraud in state history, the Tribune said.

Organizations are made liable to return tainted contributions within two years of a donation, according to the law. The law is also retroactive, in that it applies to existing collection attempts Shielded however, are many Minnesota nonprofits asked to return millions of tainted donations, in many cases years after the donations were made and the money spent.

Doug Kelley, the bankruptcy trustee in the Petters case, whose job is to recover as much money as he can from those who benefited from the Petters scheme, has estimated Petters and associates, including alleged co-conspirator Frank Vennes Jr., made as much as $425 million in donations.

Minnesota House approves voter ID amendment

| No Comments

The Minnesota House has given its final approval to a constitutional amendment on whether government-issued photo IDs should be required to vote.

The 72-57 vote came shortly after midnight Wednesday and was on a straight party line, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed, the Star Tribune said. If the Senate gives its final approval, the amendment's place on the Nov. 6 ballot is set.

"Th issue is pretty simple: Are you who you say you are when you go to vote," said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood.

The Senate vote could come as early as Wednesday, the Pioneer Press said. If both houses pass the measure, it would go directly to the voters. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton lacks the power to veto a constitutional amendment passed by the Legislature.

The question to voters would read: "Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"

Supporters of the amendment say it will add integrity to the state's election process. Opponents, however, argue it will be difficult and costly to enforce. Democrats predict that requiring a photo ID will harm Minnesota's tradition of same-day voter registration, the Tribune said.

The bill would also require the state to provide free IDs to anyone who doesnt have one, and it would create a new system of "provisional" ballots. Voters who lack a photo ID could cast a provisional ballot that would only be counted several days later after they verified their identity, the Press said.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was released from the hospital Tuesday, 10 days after getting a new heart, his office said.

Cheney, 71, received the organ from an unknown donor on March 24 at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, VA., the Seattle Times said.

"As he leaves the hospital, the former vice president and his family want to again express their deep gratitude to the donor and the donor's family for this remarkable gift," aide Kara Ahern said in a statement.

Cheney waited roughly two years for the transplant. His lifelong history of heart disease includes five heart attacks, with the first one striking him at age 37 and the most recent one in 2010, the Times said.

The transplant opens debate about whether rules should be changed to favor youth over age in giving out scarce organs, the New York Daily News said. Doctors said it is unlikely that Cheney was given special treatment at age 71 despite thousands of younger people also being in line to receive a heart.

Currently time on the waiting list, medical need and where you live determine the odds of scoring a new heart - not how many years you'll live to make use of it, the Daily News said.

The odds of survival are good. More than 70 percent of heart transplant patients live at least five years, although survival is a bit lower for people over 65.

More than 3,100 people are on the national waiting list to receive a new heart, the Times said. Just over 2,300 transplants were performed last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

According to UNOS, 332 people over age 65 received a new heart last year. The majority of transplants occur in 50- to 64-year-olds.

A small experimental plane crashed into a Florida supermarket Monday, injuring five people and sending shoppers running, authorities said.

Several people in the Northgate Shopping Center in DeLand dialed 911 to report the crash, Time said. Callers said the plane showed signs of trouble before it hit the roof of the supermarket of the Florida-based Publix chain about 40 miles north of Orlando.

Three customers were hurt, and two people aboard the plane were hospitalized in Orlando, CBS News said. All injuries came from burns, said Luke Schiada, an investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The amphibious Sea Wind 3000 plane encountered problems shortly after taking off from the DeLand Municipal Airport, less than two miles from the shopping center, CBS News said.

WKMG Orlando reported the people in the plane as Thomas Rhoades and Kim Presbrey, according to police. The three customers who were in the store and injured have been identified as Lisa Cordova, April Morris and Brendan Beitler. Both Cordova and Morris were later released from the hospital while Beitler is in stable condition, CBS News said.

Broadcast station WFTV said on its website that Publix employees saw the pilot and a passenger climb from the plane with their clothing on fire. The report added that a manager in the supermarket meat department was able to put out the fire in their clothes and rush them outside for help, Time said.

The plane did not have a black box but investigators may be able to use the plane's GPS sytem to learn more about what happened, Schiada said.

James Murdoch steps down as head of BSkyB

| No Comments

James Murdoch stepped down as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting Tuesday, saying he could become "a lightning rod" for attacks on the satellite network following his role in a phone-hacking scandal, the Washington Post said.

In a letter to the board of BSkyB, Britain's largest pay TV provider, Murdoch said: "I am aware that my role as chairman could become a lightning rod for BSkyB and I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization."

Murdoch will remain on the BSkyB board as a non-executive director. He will be replaced by Nicholas Ferguson, the company's previous deputy chairman, the Post said.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement with Chase Carey, News Corp.'s chief operating officer, he is grateful for James Murdoch's successful leadership of BSkyB. "He has played a major role in propelling the company into the market-leading position it enjoys today," the statement said.

News Corporation owns nearly 40 percent of BSkyB's stock, the New York Times said. The company had hoped to acquire the rest to strengthen its hold on the British satellite television business.

Along with its news division, BSkyB also operates lucrative sports, movie and general entertainment channels, the Times said.

Tuesday marked the second time this year James Murdoch quit a senior corporate role, the Post said. In February, Murdoch resigned as the chief executive of News International, the newspaper arm of News Corp., saying he wanted to focus on global television operations.

In a statement, Ferguson thanked Murdoch for his "outstanding contribution" and said that "the board's support for James and belief in his integrity remain strong."

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2012 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.