December 7, 2008

Final Bush Christmas in the White House

First lady, Laura Bush, share the theme as well as her emotions at the annual White House holiday decorations press preview Wednesday, the New York Times reported.

This year’s color scheme is red, white and blue.

The White House hosts many parties over the holiday season and keeps the staff on their toes. Three hundred pounds of cheesy grits and 22,000 cookies are just the beginning of the preparations for the festivities to come, the New York Times reported.

The White House is now home to an 18-foot Fraser fir Christmas tree that was brought in from North Carolina.

Although Mrs. Bush got teary-eyed recounting her eight years at the White House, she said, “It’s the people I will miss most.?

November 23, 2008

Seven Days of Sex

In Grapevine, Texas, the sermon from evangelical Fellowship Church was far from ordinary. Rev. Ed Young called upon his congregation to have sex, and lots of it.

Young, a television host and pastor of the church told his members that the married couples were to conduct a “sexperiment? for seven days.

He said the experiment will bring about a happiness and content-ness among couples and bring them closer to each other and God.

Rev. Young quoted the Song of Solomon and Genesis as a way of justifying his experiment. “Two shall become one flesh,? or “do not deprive each other of sexual relations,? from Corinthians were a few mentioned, reported the New York Times.

The sermon was met with mixed reviews, but Young said he noticed members smiling and holding hands a lot more the next week.

November 16, 2008

Dogfighting Busted In Houston

Houston officials broke up one of the largest dog fighting rings in the country Friday, eight people were arrested and 187 dogs were confiscated, the New York Times reported.

State officials learned through undercover investigations that the dog fighting ring attracted crowds of up to 100 people, reported the New York Times.

News of the event was spread through word of mouth, attracting only people that knew each other. Gamblers would place thousands of dollars in bets in the illegal arena.

This was a large-scale, highly organized operation,? said Lisa Block, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

A total of 55 people were indicted and eight people were arrested.

The indicted were charged with engaging in dogfights which can get up to two years in prison. A misdemeanor charge of one year for being a spectator is also proposed for those who are indicted, the New York Times reported.

November 9, 2008

8-Year-Old Kills Two Men

St. John’s, Ariz., is in a state of shock after an 8-year-old boy killed his father and another man Wednesday.

Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, were found dead in their home Wednesday. Both men sustained fatal gun shot wounds from a .22 caliber rifle, the New York Times reported.

Romero’s 8-year-old son is eligible under Arizona law to be charged, and was ordered a psychological evaluation test; police believe abuse is a determining factor in the case, reported the New York Times.

The small town of about 4,000 people is expected to come out in droves for the funerals. Romero’s funeral Mass is set for Tuesday at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the New York Times Reported.

“I don’t think this church is big enough to handle it all,? said the Very Rev. John Paul Sauter of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

October 26, 2008

Falling Gas Prices

According to a national survey, gas prices have fallen nearly 53 cents in the last two weeks, the Star Tribune reported.

Lundberg’s Survey of 5,000 gas stations across the nation have revealed that the average gallon of gas was costing consumers $2.78 for regular all the way up to $3.05 for premium on Friday.

Wichita, Kan. came in with the lowest gas price at $2.26 and Anchorage, Alaska ranked the highest with $3.50, reported the Star Tribune.

October 19, 2008

Kidnapped 6-Year-Old Found

A kidnapped 6-year-old boy in Nevada was found walking near his home police reported Sunday.

Cole Puffinburger was supposedly kidnapped Wednesday because of drug related debt that his grandfather, Clemens Tinnemeyer, owed, the New York Times reported.

The boy was unharmed and in good health.

“I’m just glad he’s safe,? Cole’s father Robert Puffinburger said.

Puffinburger’s grandfather has been arrested in the hopes of revealing information on the kidnappers’ identities. No charges have been filed against Tinnemeyer.

“The investigation now moves on to the drug dealing and the potential extortion issues,? Capt. Vincent Cannito of the Las Vegas Police Department said.

October 10, 2008

Ships Required to Slow in Right Whale Waters

Ships over 65 feet in length are now required by law to slow below 10 knots in areas where right whales and other endangered species live.

The National Marine Fisheries Service’s approval on Wednesday now requires ships within 20 miles of the Atlantic coastline from Massachusetts to Florida to slow down, reported The New York Times.

“This has been a really long, ongoing process, but it’s a significant new step in protecting right whales,? Connie Barclay, a spokeswoman for the fisheries service said.

Scientists estimate there are about 400 right whales left in existence.

“The species is at such low numbers that even the loss of one female is detrimental to the species and could keep them on a downward trend,? said Vicki Cornish, vice president of marine wildlife conservation at Ocean Conservancy.

The new restriction comes with a five year expiration date; unless scientists can prove that the new method is improving the right whale population, reported The New York Times.

October 5, 2008

Lost WWII Submarine Found

The USS Grunion was confirmed as the wreckage found off the Aleutian Islands last year.

The submarine has been missing since July 1942 when it reported heavy anti-submarine activity near Kiska, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Japanese anti-submarine attack data didn’t report any activity around the time the USS Grunion disappeared, which left its disappearance a mystery, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mannert L. Abele’s sons are the ones who aided the Navy in confirming the wreckage by hiring experts and leading expeditions to the site. Underwater photos and video allowed the submarine to be identified about a mile below the surface.

"We hope this announcement will help to give closure to the families of the 70 crewmen of Grunion," Rear Adm. Douglas McAneny said.

September 28, 2008

Cows Displaced After Hurricane Ike

Thousands of cows are displaced after Hurricane Ike hit Texas a couple weeks ago, some as far as twenty miles.

Helicopters and riders on horseback are working hard to herd the cattle into safer grounds where they can find water and grazing. The task of returning lost cattle to their owners is a daunting process, but everyone is willing to help in the southeast counties of Jefferson and Chambers where the devastation is occurring.

Mike Latta, a rancher and rice farmer said he has recovered 15 of his 400 cows and doesn’t have high hopes that he’ll find the rest. About 10,000 of the estimated 25,000 cattle missing have been found, The New York Times reported.

“It’s total devastation,? Latta said.

Congress has been asked to help affected ranchers and write an emergency appropriations bill.

“We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars of damage,? said Todd Staples, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture. “You can’t imagine the destruction until you see it,? The New York Times reported.

September 21, 2008

Ike Washes Away Public and Private Boundaries

Hurricane Ike ripped through Texas and is leaving hundreds of homeowners to battle the state for their property due to new tide lines.

Homes that were not destroyed from the 26-foot waves that hit the coast of Texas now face the iron hand of the law if they are too close to newly created tide lines, reported Las Angeles Times.

The 1959 Texas Open Beaches Act is being put to the test now that homeowners are sitting on newly acquired state soil. The act was enacted to keep public property between high and low tides and sell the rest to homeowner, but Ike drew a new line leaving many homeowners without homes or compensation.

"We're talking about damn fools that have built houses on the edge of the sea for as long as man could remember and against every advice anyone has given," said A.R. "Babe" Schwartz, the former senator who wrote the law.

Rebuilding the beaches is not an option and homeowners will not know if they can rebuild or make repairs for a year until the tide boundaries become set again.

Homes that were completely destroyed by the hurricane are able to collect insurance but it is uncertain whether homeowners who now live on public property will receive compensation if condemned by the state, reported Las Angeles Times.

"No one has ever successfully beaten the state when the state comes after you under the Open Beaches Act," said Charles Irvine, a Houston coastal law attorney. "But everyone still tries to think up innovative arguments."

September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ike Leaves Rescuers To Clean Up

Hurricane Ike hit the coast of Texas late Friday with 12 to 15-foot swells. Claiming at least thirteen people, Ike ripped through Texas leaving a trail of destruction as far as Houston.

Of the 57,000 residents of coastal-city Galveston, 20,000 residents were estimated to have disregarded the mandatory evacuation orders, reported the New York Times. The Associated Press reported that state and federal officials were forced to conduct 1,984 rescues, including 394 by air, making it the largest search-and-rescue effort in Texas history.

Over 2 million Texans are without power as of Sunday and it could be weeks before power is fully restored in the area officials said.

“We’re asking people just to be patient.? R. David Paulison, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in an interview on CNN on Sunday. “Don’t be in a hurry. If you’re in a safe place, whether a shelter or hotel or motel, or staying with friends and family, just stay right there.?

Experts say the storm was not as bad as predicted in spite of the overwhelming flooding. Stacey Stewart, a senior hurricane analyst at the National Hurricane Center, said a shift in the storm’s track to the north just before landfall might have kept the rise in sea levels on the lower side of what had been forecast, reported the New York Times.

The Associated Press reported that President Bush made plans to visit the area Tuesday. On his trip to Texas, Bush said he intends to express "the federal government's support - sympathy on the one hand and support on the other - for this recovery effort and rebuilding effort."