WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST
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N E W P U S H T O GET GIRLS INTO COMPUTER SCIENCES
Volume 003 Issue 24
June 23, 2014
$ 1 , 0 0 0 - A - P I L L S O VA L D I J O LT S U S H E A LT H C A R E WASHINGTON (AP) -- Your money or your life?
An estimated 15,000 people died from hepatitis C in the U.S. in 2007, when it surpassed AIDS as a cause of death.
Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000.
teacher assistant Margarita Sokolova, second from left, helps Giuliana Zautta, 17, of Menlo Park, Calif., during a Girls Who Code class at Adobe Systems in San Jose, Calif. Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization that aims to inspire, educate and equip young women for futures in the computing-related fields, kicked off its summer program in partnership with the world’s leading tech companies. The summer program will reach 380 high school girls across 19 classes in New York, Boston, Miami, Seattle and the Bay Area. Fewer than one percent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it’s one of the fastest growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) -- Diana Navarro loves to code, and she’s not afraid to admit it. But the 18-year-old Rutgers University computer science major knows she’s an anomaly: Writing software to run computer programs in 2014 is - more than ever - a man’s world. “We live in a culture where we’re dissuaded to do things that are technical,” Navarro said. “Younger girls see men, not women, doing all the techie stuff, programming and computer science.” Less than one percent of high school girls think of computer science as part of their future, even though it’s one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. today with a projected 4.2 million jobs by 2020, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Leading medical societies recommend the drug as a first-line treatment, and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price. In Oregon, officials propose to limit how many low-income patients can get Sovaldi.
This undated handout photo provided by Gilead Sciences shows the Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi. Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000. Leading medical societies recommend the drug and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price. In Oregon, officials propose to limit how many low-income patients can get it.
Yet if Sovaldi didn’t exist, insurers would still be paying in the mid-tohigh five figures to treat the most common kind of hepatitis C, a new pricing survey indicates. Some of the older alternatives involve more side effects, and are less likely to provide cures. So what’s a fair price?
The cost of this breakthrough drug is highlighting cracks in the U.S. health care system at a time of heightened budget concerns. The Obama administration has a huge political stake in controlling treatment costs, but its critics may cry rationing.
“If it’s going to get me the medicine, I’ll put my hand out there with a tin cup,” said Stuart Rose, a hepatitis C patient in New York City. His insurance would pay only $4,000 a year for medications, but Rose was able to get assistance from charitable foundations. He recently started taking Sovaldi.
Until the drug’s approval late last year, standard treatment for the most common type of the disease required daily pills and extended use of interferon, an injection that can produce debilitating flu-like symptoms. “Brain fog,” said Rose. Taken once a day for 12 weeks, Sovaldi greatly reduces the length of interferon treatment, making things more tolerable for patients. Now, many more people might want to try the cure. A similar drug, Olysio, also approved last year, is priced a bit lower.
“People are going to want to try to dodge this hot potato,” says economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin.
The nation’s largest care provider for chronic hepatitis C, the federal Veterans Administration, sees promise. With 175,000 patients, the VA has started more than 1,850 of them on Sovaldi.
For insurers, there’s a frustrating twist: For each middle-aged person they pay to cure with Sovaldi, any financial benefits from preventing liver failure are likely to accrue to Medicare, not to them.
“After 20 years in infectious diseases, I never thought we would be in a position to cure this disease,” said Dr. David Ross, head of the VA’s program.
More than 3 million Americans carry the hepatitis C virus, and many don’t realize it. It’s a public health concern since the disease can be transmitted by contact with infected blood, and sometimes through sexual activity. Health officials advise all baby boomers to get tested.
By law, the VA gets drug discounts of over 40 percent. Will the agency break even by avoiding the disease’s worst complications?
The illness is complex, with distinct virus types requiring different treatments. While it progresses gradually, it can ultimately destroy the liver, and transplants average $577,000.
Private insurers will probably introduce Sovaldi gradually. “Not everybody is going to get this all at once,” said former Medicare administrator Mark McClellan.
Not necessarily, said Ross. “If it leads to cost benefits in the long run, that’s gravy.”
continued on page 3
FDA PREPPING LONG-AWAITED P L A N T O R E D U C E S A LT on making foods less salty. The IOM advised the government to establish maximum sodium levels for different foods, though the FDA said then - and maintains now - that it favors a voluntary route. Americans eat about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt daily, about a third more than the government recommends for good health and enough to increase the risk of high blood pressure, strokes and other problems. Most of that sodium is hidden inside common processed foods and restaurant meals.
BERLIN (AP) -- A cheap brand of Chinese-made smartphones carried by major online retailers comes preinstalled with espionage software, a German security firm said Tuesday. G Data Software said it found malicious code hidden deep in the propriety software of the Star N9500 when it ordered the handset from a website late last month. The find is the latest in a series of incidents where smartphones have appeared preloaded with malicious software. G Data spokesman Thorsten Urbanski said his firm bought the phone after getting complaints about it from several customers. He said his team spent more than a week trying to trace the handset’s maker without success. “The manufacturer is not mentioned,” he said. “Not in the phone, not in the documentation, nothing else.” The Associated Press found the phone for sale on several major retail websites, offered by an array of companies listed in Shenzhen, in southern China. It could not immediately find a reference to the phone’s manufacturer. G Data said the spyware it found on the N9500 could allow a hacker to steal personal data, place rogue calls, or turn on the phone’s camera and microphone. G Data said the stolen information was sent to a server in China. Bjoern Rupp, chief executive of the Berlin-based mobile security consultancy firm GSMK, said such cases are more common than people think. Last fall, German cellphone service provider E-Plus found malicious software on some handsets delivered to customers of its Base brand. “We have to assume that such incidents will increasingly occur, for different commercial and other reasons,” said Rupp.
a shopper walking down the canned soup aisle at a grocery store in Cincinnati. Food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty _ a long-awaited federal effort to try and prevent thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Food companies and restaurants could soon face government pressure to make their foods less salty - a long-awaited federal effort to try to prevent thousands of deaths each year from heart disease and stroke. The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue voluntary guidelines asking the food industry to lower sodium levels, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told The Associated Press. Hamburg said in a recent interview that the sodium is “of huge interest and concern” and she hopes the guidelines will be issued “relatively soon.” “We believe we can make a big impact working with the industry to bring sodium levels down, because the current level of consumption really is higher than it should be for health,” Hamburg said. The food industry has already made some reductions, and has prepared for government action since a 2010 Institute of Medicine report said companies had not made enough progress
In addition to flavor, companies use sodium to increase shelf life, prevent the growth of bacteria, or improve texture and appearance. That makes it more difficult to remove from some products, Hamburg noted. Once the guidelines are issued, Americans won’t notice an immediate taste difference in higher-sodium foods like pizza, pasta, bread and soups. The idea would be to encourage gradual change so consumers’ taste buds can adjust, and to give the companies time to develop lower-sodium foods. “I think one of the things we are very mindful of is that we need to have a realistic timeline,” Hamburg said. Health groups would prefer mandatory standards, but say voluntary guidelines are a good first step. Still, Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says he is concerned companies may hesitate, worried that their competitors won’t lower sodium in their products. If that happens, “then FDA should start a process of mandatory limits,” Jacobson says. That’s what companies are worried about. Though the limits would be voluntary, the FDA is at heart a regulatory agency, and continued on page 6
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
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GIVING INCREASES FOR SOME SECTORS, NOT FOR OTHERS
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wealthy donors are lavishing money on their favored charities, including universities, hospitals and arts institutions, while giving is flat to social service and church groups more dependent on financially squeezed middle-class donors, according to the latest comprehensive report on how Americans give away their money.
social woes persist in many communities, Palmer said.
Rooney noted that many social-service organizations focus on obtaining government contracts and grants, while devoting fewer resources to courting wealthy donors. Universities typically have large, highly professional fundraising staffs, and an easily identifiable pool of potential benefactors.
The Giving USA report, being released Tuesday, said Americans gave an estimated $335.17 billion to charity in 2013, up 3 percent from 2012 after adjustment for inflation. Reflecting the nation’s widening wealth gap, some sectors fared far better than others. Adjusted for inflation, giving was up 7.4 percent for education, 6.3 percent for the arts and humanities, and 4.5 percent for health organizations, while giving to religious groups declined by 1.6 percent and giving to social service groups rose by only 0.7 percent. Experts with the Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said it was the fourth straight year of increased overall giving, and predicted that within two more years the total could match the pre-recession peak of $347.5 billion. During and immediately after the recession, some wealthy donors shifted their giving to social service groups working to combat hunger and homelessness, according to Patrick Rooney, associate dean of the school of philanthropy. Now, many of those donors - including some making multimillion-dollar gifts - are refocusing their attention on higher education, the arts and other sectors long patronized by the affluent, he said. The trend is readily apparent in the listings of recent major charitable gifts compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which provides news coverage of the nonprofit world. Among the 100 largest recent gifts, which range from $7.5 million to $275 million, the recipients overwhelmingly are universities and hospitals, along with a few arts institutions. Only four of the gifts are to social service organizations and one to a religious group.
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Almost all the U.S. income gains from 2009 to 2012 flowed to the top 1 percent of earners, according to tax data analyzed by economist Emmanuel Saez at the University of California, Berkeley. By contrast, median household income was $51,017 in 2012, $4,600 below its peak in 2007, according to the Census Bureau. “It’s the very wealthiest who have recovered the most in terms of the giving potential, and the very wealthiest do tend to give their biggest gifts to colleges and hospitals,” said Stacy Palmer, the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s editor. Those are the institutions that ask more effectively, she added. “They have development offices who offer donors these ambitious plans.”
In contrast, she said many social service organizations rely heavily on less wealthy donors who may not yet feel they have fully recovered from the recession. Compounding their struggles, some of those organizations are still experiencing increased demand for services as high unemployment and other
“For many wealthy alumni, their alma mater is an important part of what made them who they are,” Rooney said. As usual, religious organizations received more donations than any other sector in 2013, with $105.5 billion in gifts. However, Giving USA said that was the lowest portion of total giving - 31 percent - for church groups in four decades. Rooney said giving to churches has been relatively flat for about 15 years, as many denominations report declining attendance, and polls show a drop in the percentage of Americans who consider themselves religious. “If you don’t attend church, you’re not likely to give,” said Rooney. “And most churches’ fundraising efforts are `Pass the plate.’” They don’t have staff with a more scientific approach.” The Illinois-based research firm Empty Tomb, which tracks religious giving trends, says church members are giving less of their income to their churches than they used to - 2.3 percent in 2011 compared to 3.1 percent in 1968. One consequence, according to Empty Tomb vice president Sylvia Ronsvalle, is relatively less money available for the churches’ social service and missionary programs. “I fault church leadership for not giving people a vision,” she said. “We’ve left the playing field to these other categories.” The nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, reported earlier this month that the total of gifts to its churches dropped by nearly 1.4 percent last year. Bill Townes, the SBC’s vice president for finance, said the denomination continued to believe it can carry out its mission, but said of the giving trend, “We’d like it to turn around.” Depending on the means of measurement, both wealthy Americans and those of more modest means can claim credit for their generosity. According to a 2012 Bank of America study, the wealthiest 3 percent of American households accounted for about 35 percent of all giving by individuals in 2011. Yet the National Center for Charitable Statistics, citing IRS data for 2011, said Americans with incomes under $100,000 gave away a higher percentage of their income - about 3.6 percent - than those with incomes between $100,000 and $1 million, for whom the figure was about 2.5 percent. Other studies have found that residents of relatively poor states in the South - including Alabama and Mississippi - are among the most generous in the nation in terms of the percentage of their discretionary income that they gave to charity.
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The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
P A I N T I D D E N
Now the question that conservators at The Phillips Collection in Washington hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso’s career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects. Curators and conservators revealed the discovery of the portrait for the first time to The Associated Press last week.
Patricia Favero, associate conservator at The Phillips Collection, points to an image of a man found underneath one of Picasso’s first masterpieces, “The Blue Room,” on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Washington. Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath the painting. Advances in infrared imagery reveal a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand, with three rings on his fingers. Now the question that conservators at The Phillips Collection in Washington hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso’s career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Scientists and art experts finally know what’s beneath one of Pablo Picasso’s first masterpieces, “The Blue Room,” using advances in infrared imagery to reveal a hidden portrait of a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand.
Experts long suspected there might be something under the surface of “The Blue Room,” which has been part of The Phillips Collection since 1927. Brushstrokes on the piece clearly don’t match the composition that depicts a woman bathing in Picasso’s studio. A conservator noted the odd brushstrokes in a 1954 letter, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that an X-ray of the painting first revealed a fuzzy image of something under the picture. It wasn’t clear, though, that it was a portrait. In 2008, improved infrared imagery revealed for the first time a man’s bearded face resting on his hand with three rings on his fingers. He’s dressed in a jacket and bow tie, painted in a vertical composition.
R A R E S TA M P C O U L D S E T R E C O R D AT N Y C A U C T I O N McKinnon kept it for five years before selling it to a Liverpool dealer who recognized the unassuming stamp as highly uncommon. He paid 120 pounds for it and quickly resold it for 150 pounds to Count Philippe la Renotiere von Ferrary, one of the world’s greatest stamp collectors.
Upon his death in 1917, the count bequeathed his stamp collection to the Postmuseum in Berlin. The collection was later seized by France as war reparations and sold off in a series of 14 auctions with the One-Cent Magenta bringing $35,000 in 1922 - an auction record for a single stamp. Arthur Hind, a textile magnate from Utica, New York, was the buyer. King George V was an under-bidder. It is the one major piece absent from the Royal Family’s heirloom collection, Beech said. This photo taken June 5, 2014 shows diagrams in a room where the Drake bug collection is held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington. When Dr. Carl J. Drake died in 1965 he left the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History $250,000 and his collection of thousands of bugs. Drake, an entomologist, spent his life studying insects, and he gave the Smithsonian a mission for his money: buy more bugs. After nearly half a century, however, the Smithsonian is having a hard time following the directives of Drake’s will.
NEW YORK (AP) -- A 1-cent postage stamp from a 19th century British colony in South America is poised to become the world’s most valuable stamp - again. The 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta could bring $10 million to $20 million when it goes on the auction block at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. Three times in its long history, the little stamp has broken the auction record for a single stamp. Measuring 1 inch-by-1 1/4 inches, it hasn’t been on public view since 1986 and is the only major stamp absent from the British Royal Family’s private Royal Philatelic Collection.
After Hind’s death in 1933, the stamp was to be auctioned with the rest of his collection until his wife brought a lawsuit, claiming it was left to her. The next owner was Frederick Small, an Australian engineer living in Florida who purchased it privately from Hind’s widow for $45,000 in 1940. Thirty years later, he consigned the stamp to a New York auction where it was purchased by an investment consortium for $280,000 - another record. The stamp set its third record in 1980 when it sold for $935,000 to du Pont.
APNEWSBREAK: HEMP S E E D S S E I Z E D AT US-CANADA BORDER
“You’re not going to find anything rarer than this,” according to Allen Kane, director of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. “It’s a stamp the world of collectors has been dying to see for a long time.” An 1855 Swedish stamp, which sold for $2.3 million in 1996, currently holds the auction record for a single stamp. David Beech, longtime curator of stamps at the British Library who retired last year, has compared it to buying the “Mona Lisa” of the world’s most prized stamps. The last owner was John E. du Pont, an heir to the du Pont chemical fortune who was convicted of fatally shooting a 1984 Olympic champion wrestler. It’s being sold by his estate, which will designate part of the proceeds to the Eurasian Pacific Wildlife Conservation Foundation that du Pont championed. Printed in black on magenta paper, it bears the image of a three-masted ship and the colony’s motto, in Latin, “we give and expect in return.” It went into circulation after a shipment of stamps was delayed from London and the postmaster asked printers for the Royal Gazette newspaper in Georgetown in British Guiana to produce three stamps until the shipment arrived: a 1-cent magenta, a 4-cent magenta and a 4-cent blue. While multiple examples of the 4-cent stamps have survived, only the tiny 1-cent issue is known to exist today. Its first owner was a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America who added it to his collection after finding it among family papers in 1873. He soon sold it for a few shillings to a local collector, Neil McKinnon.
DENVER (AP) -Hundreds of pounds of industrial hemp seeds bound from Canada to Colorado have been seized by federal authorities in North Dakota, marking the latest bump along the road to legalization of marijuana’s non-intoxi-
At the center of the dispute is hemp activist Tom McClain. Armed with a copy of last year’s federal Farm Bill, which allowed states to permit hemp cultivation for research and development, he set off for MacGregor, Manitoba, and bought 350 pounds of seeds used to grow a strain known as X-59 or Hemp Nut. Hemp is legal in Canada, and North Dakota is one of 15 states with laws that allow limited hemp production. However, under the Farm Bill, importing hemp seeds requires permission from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. McClain’s seeds were confiscated Saturday at the border crossing in Hansboro, North Dakota, after he says he declared the seven bags in his trunk. McClain, however, has not been charged with a crime. “They treated me very professionally,” McClain said after he returned to Colorado - without the seeds. “They were just a little confused as to what to do. According to them, I couldn’t bring them in.” Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the seizure.
I N M A
“It’s really one of those moments that really makes what you do special,” said Patricia Favero, the conservator at The Phillips Collection who pieced together the best infrared image yet of the man’s face. “The second reaction was, `Well, who is it?’ We’re still working on answering that question.” Scholars have ruled out the possibility that it was a self-portrait. One possible figure is the Paris art dealer Ambrose Villard, who hosted Picasso’s first show in 1901. But there’s no documentation and no clues left on the canvass, so the research continues. Over the past five years, experts from The Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware’s Winterthur Museum have developed a clearer image of the mystery picture under the surface. A technical analysis confirmed the hidden portrait is a work Picasso likely painted just before “The Blue Room,” curators said. Since the portrait was discovered, conservators have been using other technology to scan the painting for further insights. Favero has been collaborating with other experts to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and X-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to identify and map the colors of the hidden painting. They would like to recreate a digital image approximating the colors Picasso used. Curators are planning the first exhibit focused on “The Blue Room” as a seminal work in Picasso’s career for 2017. It will examine the revelation of the man’s portrait beneath the painting, as well as other Picasso works and his engagement with other artists. For now, “The Blue Room” is part of a tour to South Korea through early 2015 as the research continues. Hidden pictures have been found under other important Picasso paintings. A technical analysis of “La Vie” at the Cleveland Museum of Art revealed Picasso significantly reworked the painting’s composition. And conservators found a portrait of a mustached man beneath Picasso’s painting “Woman Ironing” at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. “When he had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it,” Phillips curator Susan Behrends Frank told the AP, describing how Picasso had hurriedly painted “The Blue Room” over another complete picture. “He could not afford to acquire new canvasses every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvass was so much more expensive.” Dorothy Kosinski, the director of The Phillips Collection, said new knowledge about Picasso and his process can be discovered through the high-tech collaboration among museums. “Our audiences are hungry for this. It’s kind of detective work. It’s giving them a doorway of access that I think enriches, maybe adds mystery, while allowing them to be part of a piecing together of a puzzle,” she said. “The more we can understand, the greater our appreciation is of its significance in Picasso’s life.”
“The shipment is currently undergoing scientific evaluation, as hemp seeds can look much like marijuana seeds,” Neudauer said in a statement. The seizure underscored the difficulties facing the fledgling U.S. hemp industry after five decades of prohibition. Hemp is prized for oils, seeds and fiber, but its production had been prohibited because the plant can be manipulated to enhance the psychoactive chemical THC - the intoxicant found in marijuana. In another recent case, U.S. customs officials in Louisville, Kentucky, held a shipment of hemp seeds from Italy that was bound for research grows. Kentucky agriculture authorities sued the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Attorney General Eric Holder to force the return of the seeds. The DEA eventually relented and issued a permit to allow limited hemp planting for research in the state. McClain and Jason Lauve of the Colorado-based activist group Hemp Cleans have appealed to congressional representatives in the state to resolve the seed flap in North Dakota. A spokeswoman for Colorado’s Agriculture Department, Christi Lightcap, said the agency hasn’t been approached to intervene. Colorado has accepted more than 40 hemp-cultivation applications. But the state has a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy about the origin of the seeds used in the work. Growers, meanwhile, have expressed frustration over the limited availability of seeds that are affordable and haven’t been smuggled into the country. The seeds confiscated in North Dakota were destined for experimental plots. Lauve said owners have only about two weeks to get the seeds planted so they can harvest the hemp before snow falls.
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
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T O R N A D O E S F L A T T E N T I N Y RURAL NEBRASKA TOWN; 2 DEAD PILGER, Neb. (AP) -- A storm packing rare dual tornadoes tore through a tiny farming town in northeast Nebraska, killing two people, crumpling grain bins like discarded soda cans and flattening dozens of homes.
tornado was spotted southwest of Pilger, according to the Stanton County Sheriff’s Office. Shortly afterward, the town suffered a “direct hit” that leveled several buildings, including the Fire Department building.
Pilger’s 350 residents evacuated their homes after the powerful twisters slammed the area Monday afternoon. Nebraska State Patrol closed all roads into town.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman declared a state of emergency, and the National Guard was preparing to assist local emergency responders and help with the cleanup. Heineman and officials with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency were expected to arrive Tuesday morning. A shelter for displaced residents was established at Wisner-Pilger Jr.-Sr. High School in nearby Wisner.
“More than half of the town is gone - absolutely gone,” Stanton County Commissioner Jerry Weatherholt said. “The co-op is gone, the grain bins are gone, and it looks like almost every house in town has some damage. It’s a complete mess.” Larry Nelson, 73, has lived in Pilger, about 80 miles northwest of Omaha, for 23 years. He rode out the storm in his neighbor’s basement, emerging later to find his home completely gone. “I’m grateful I was over there,” Nelson said. Another resident, Trey Wisniewski, said first his weather radio alerted him, then the power went out and the tornado sirens started to sound. The sky went black and he and his wife took their pets into the basement. “My wife was holding our animals and I was holding on to my wife. We could feel the suction try to pull is out of there,” said Wisniewski, 43. “It wasn’t raining. It was raining debris.” Stanton County Sheriff Mike Unger estimated that 50 to 75 percent of Pilger was heavily damaged or destroyed and the school was likely beyond repair. The storm was part of a larger system that tracked across the nation’s midsection Monday. More storms are forecast for Tuesday, stretching from eastern Montana to New York, but the system likely won’t be as powerful as on Monday, said Steve Corfidi, lead forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. The greatest risk for tornadoes will be in the Dakotas, eastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming. Hail is expected west of the Mississippi River, while damaging winds could down some trees in upstate New York, Corfidi said. Stanton County Sheriff’s deputy Josh Bennett said a 5-year-old girl was killed in Pilger on Monday. Bennett did not identify the child further or provide details about her death. Unger said Tuesday that a motorist also died in a single-vehicle
Tornadoes also caused damage in Cuming and Wayne counties, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency said in a news release. Meteorologists also tracked a reported tornado near the town of Burwell, in central Nebraska. Two tornados approach Pilger, Neb., Monday June 16, 2014. The National Weather Service said at least two twisters touched down within roughly a mile of each other Monday in northeast Nebraska.
accident just east of Pilger as the storm pounded the area. State patrol confirmed that a male driver died in Cuming County. At least 19 people were taken to hospitals. The National Weather Service said the two twisters touched down within roughly a mile of each other. Crews planned to examine the area Tuesday to determine the intensity of the unusual twin tornadoes, said Barbara Mayes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley. “It’s less common for two tornadoes to track together for so long, especially with that same intensity,” she said. “By no means is it unprecedented. But we don’t see it often.” Residents were poised to return Tuesday morning to survey the damage and gather valuables. Sheriffs said law enforcement would escort residents to their properties. Jodi Richey, a spokeswoman for Faith Regional Health Services in nearby Norfolk, said 16 people were treated there. Some were in critical condition but others were treated and released. Providence Medical Center in Wayne treated three tornado victims, including two who had lacerations, said hospital spokeswoman Sandy Bartling. Two were released Monday evening, and the third was in stable condition. Authorities said the first tornado touched down around 3:45 p.m. and downed several power lines before it leveled a farmhouse. The second
K E N YA P R E S I D E N T B L A M E S LOCALS FOR DEADLY ATTACKS leaders. He did not get more specific. Kenyatta said police officials in Mpeketoni had advance intelligence about the attack but did not act on it. The president said some officers have been suspended and will be prosecuted.
Kenyatta said that some political leaders are preaching the idea that some Kenyans are less human than others. “My deputy and I will never go the route of ethnic violence,” Kenyatta said.
Abdullahi Abdi, left, Chairman National Muslim Leaders Forum ( NAMLEF) with members of the Muslim Council of Kenya speaks to the media in Nairobi, Kenya, Tuesday, June, 17, 2014. Extremists attacked a coastal area of Kenya for the second night in a row, killing at least nine people a day after the deaths of nearly 50, an official said Tuesday. Police spokesman Masoud Mwinyi said that al-Shabab militants attacked Majembeni village. The Somali militant group also claimed responsibility for the Sunday night attack in nearby Mpeketoni that killed 48 people. The Muslim leaders condemned the killings as savage acts and warned that they should not divide Kenyans along religious lines.
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenya’s president blamed political leaders inside Kenya Tuesday for carrying out two nights of deadly attacks that killed at least 60 people in coastal communities, saying that despite claims of responsibility from al-Shabab, the Islamic extremists were not behind it. President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a nationally televised address, said evidence indicates that local political leaders inside Kenya were behind what he termed ethnically motivated violence. The Somali militant group al-Shabab had claimed responsibility for two nights of attacks near the tourist resort island of Lamu that targeted non-Muslims. The newer attack came Monday night in Majembeni village in which 10 people died. The village is next to Mpeketoni, where four dozen Christian men were slaughtered Sunday night and Monday morning. Al-Shabab said the second attack killed government workers and Christians. A county commissioner, Benson Maisori, said the attackers appear to have been the same in both cases. “The style of killing is the same. They slit the victims’ throats wide open or shot them several times in the head,” said Maisori. But in a surprising turn of events, Kenyatta said outright that al-Shabab did not plan and execute the attack, but rather local
The back-to-back attacks underscore the weak security around the Lamu area, which lies just south of the Somali border. Lamu once attracted swarms of foreign visitors but its tourist sector has been suffering in recent years because of the violence. Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said a new slate of government and security officials have been installed in Lamu, in part because “there seems to be some inside job.” Ole Lenku said the problem facing the country “is elaborate and is intended to cause discord among our people.” Meanwhile, Muslim leaders on Tuesday conferred inside Nairobi’s largest mosque, a grand white facade nestled among the capital’s high rises. The bearded elders from four different Muslim groups condemned what they called savage acts and ghastly killings and said there was no justification for the deaths. The Muslims leaders warned of a potential sectarian rift. “The continued violence risks tearing the country apart,” they said, continuing later: “We need to be cognizant of the fact that some of these attacks are aimed at planning seeds of discord and animosity among Kenyans and divide the country along ethnic and religious lines.” The Muslim leaders said the government is taking “kneejerk reactions” and harassing specific communities, a reference to Kenya’s Somali population, which has suffered in a widespread crackdown the last several months which has seen the arrests of thousands of Somalis and the deportation of dozens. Kenya has seen ethnic violence rip apart the country in recent years. More than 1,000 people were killed in ethnically motivated violence after the country’s 2007 election. That violence, though, did not have religious component to it.
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Drug maker Gilead Sciences, Inc., reported Sovaldi sales of $2.3 billion worldwide in just the first three months of this year. Gilead will not disclose its pricing methods, but vice president Gregg Alton said the drug’s high cure rate makes it “a real huge value.” In many countries, the government sets drug prices. In the US, insurers negotiate with drug companies. Medicare is forbidden from bargaining, a situation that critics say saddles U.S. patients with high costs while subsidizing the rest of the world. The Associated Press asked DRX, a technology company that researches drug prices for major insurers and government programs, to look at Sovaldi. The findings: - There aren’t many deep discounts: The midpoint - or median- discount that private payers are securing is about 14 percent off the average wholesale price of $1,200 a pill, bringing it down to $1,037. The biggest discount DRX found was nearly 36 percent, approaching the VA rate, and bringing the cost to $773. DRX surveyed more than 300 payers. - How do other drugs compare? DRX compared the total drug cost of treating the most common type of hepatitis C with Sovaldi and three alternatives. The regimen included pills, interferon and an antiviral called ribavirin. Treatment with Sovaldi had the highest cost, a median of $97,376. The lowest was $48,084 for Victrelis, a somewhat older drug with a lower cure rate. Two others were about $8,000 less than Sovaldi. The total median cost with Incivek was $89,178. With Olyisio, it was $89,319. “While Sovaldi still is the most expensive, all of these are five-figure regimens,” said Jim Yocum, DRX executive vice president. “Sovaldi is an advance ... and it doesn’t seem to be priced completely out of whack.” But Dr. Sharon Levine, a top official working on drug policy with insurer Kaiser Permanente, disagrees. “There was never any question that we would cover and prescribe this drug,” said Levine. But she firmly believes the price is out of line. Countries where the government sets drug prices are paying much less, she noted. U.S. insurers aren’t interested in price controls, said Levine, but “eventually the American public is going to start getting very uncomfortable” with high prices. Drug costs have moderated in recent years, but new medications in the pipeline for cancer and other diseases are expected to push spending up. The California Technology Assessment Forum, a private group that reviews medical treatments, recently voted Sovaldi a “low value,” because it would be cost-prohibitive to treat the high number of potentially eligible patients. But after their own assessment, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases issued clinical guidelines recommending that doctors use Sovaldi as a primary treatment. Meanwhile, Gilead has a new hepatitis C pill close to approval that will not require interferon use. There’s no word on how it will be priced.
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
A R G E N T I N A : W O N ’ T S U B M I T T O ‘ E X T O R T I O N ’ O N D E B T
again, rebuilding its reserves and preventing the recession from getting even deeper.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina’s president is refusing to go along with a U.S. judge’s ruling requiring a $1.5 billion repayment of defaulted bonds, even though the U.S. Supreme Court rejected her government’s appeals and left the order in place.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Griesa order requires that $1.5 billion be paid “all together, without quotas, right away, now, in cash, ahead of all the rest” of bondholders, Fernandez said.
In a national address Monday night, Cristina Fernandez repeatedly vowed not to submit to “extortion,” and said she had been working on ways to keep Argentina’s commitments to other creditors despite the threat of losing use of the U.S. financial system. Her hard line came hours after the justices in Washington refused to hear Argentina’s appeal, and it could be a last effort to gain leverage ahead of a negotiated solution that both sides say they want. But with only days before a huge debt payment ordered by the court is due, many economists, analysts and politicians said the country’s already fragile economy could be deeply harmed if she didn’t immediately resolve the dispute. Argentina’s Economy Minister Axel Kicillof will hold a press conference at 6 p.m. local time (5 p.m. EDT) to explain the Supreme Court’s decision and how Argentina’s government will proceed. Refusing to comply with rulings that have been allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court “would be very damaging to the Argentine economy in the near future,” said Miguel Kiguel, a former deputy finance minister and World Bank economist in the 1990s who runs the Econviews consulting firm in Buenos Aires. Argentine markets were already reflecting fear. The Merval stock index dropped 10 percent after Monday’s court decision, its largest one-day loss in more than six months, and the value of Argentina’s currency plunged 3 percent on the black market. But on Tuesday, Argentina’s official peso currency opened stable at 8.14 against the U.S. dollar. The black market peso
“This represents a profit of 1,608 percent, in dollars!” she complained. “I believe that in all of organized crime there has never been a case of a profit of 1,608 percent in such a short time.”
A woman looks at old currency during the opening of the Foreign Debt Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The museum, which is the world’s first dedicated to a country’s debt, opened nearly four years after Argentina staged the largest debt default in modern history. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said Monday June 16, 2014 that Argentina can’t comply with U.S. court orders to pay $1.5 billion to winners of a decade-long legal battle over defaulted debt, the position her country was left in Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear her government’s final appeal.
also remained nearly unchanged trading between 11.85 and 12 against the dollar. The Merval index was down 2.28 percent in opening trade. The Edenor Argentine electricity distribution company, was trading 6.28 lower after plunging by 20 percent a day earlier on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Singer’s NML Capital Ltd. has now won in the U.S. courts - and if Argentina doesn’t hand over $907 million to the plaintiffs in the next two weeks, the judge will order U.S. banks not to process Argentina’s June 30 payment totaling an equal amount to all the other bondholders.
Fernandez urged her countrymen to “remain tranquil” in the days ahead.
Fernandez said her government “will not default on those who believed in Argentina.” But analysts have questioned whether holders of restructured debt would accept payments outside the U.S. financial system.
Bowing to the U.S. courts would force her to betray a core value that she and her late husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, promoted since they took over the government in 2003: Argentina must maintain its sovereignty and economic independence at any cost. But a chorus of analysts said that if she complied with the ruling, it would become much easier for Argentina to borrow
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which represents the country’s biggest food companies, says the group is concerned about the FDA setting targets and any guidelines should be based on a “rigorous assessment of all available scientific evidence.”
Many food companies and retailers already have pushed to reduce salt. Wal-Mart pledged to reduce sodium in many items by 25 percent by next year, and food giant ConAgra Foods says it made a 20 percent reduction. Subway restaurants said it has made a 30 percent reduction restaurant-wide. The companies say that in some cases, just removing added salt or switching ingredients does the trick. Potassium chloride can also substitute for common salt (sodium chloride), though too much can cause a metallic taste. Levels can vary widely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sodium in a slice of white bread ranges from 80 milligrams to 230 milligrams. Three ounces of turkey deli meat can have 450 milligrams to 1,050 milligrams. Those ranges give health advocates hope. “Those differences say to me that the companies that make the highest-sodium products could certainly reduce levels to the same as the companies that make the lower-sodium products,” Jacobson says. Still, the guidelines could be a hard sell. In recent years, congressional Republicans have fought the Obama administration over efforts to require calorie labels on menus and make school lunches healthier. When the administration attempted to create voluntary guidelines for advertising junk food for children, the industry balked and Republicans in Congress fought the idea, prompting the administration to put them aside. Other members of Congress are pushing the agency to act. “As the clock ticks, America’s blood pressure, along with health costs due to chronic disease, continues to rise,” says Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the FDA.
“Some people say, `Why don’t you pay them and end all this right now?’” the president said. “It’s because there’s another problem, even more serious. There’s another 7 percent who would be able to demand payment from Argentina, right away and now, of $15 billion. That’s more than half the reserves in the Central Bank. As you can see, it’s not only absurd but impossible that the country pays more than 50 percent of its reserves in a single payment to its creditors.” “It’s our obligation to take responsibility for paying our creditors, but not to become the victims of extortion by speculators,” she said. The plaintiffs said her government needs to settle now. “The time has come for Argentina to enter into good-faith negotiations with holdout bondholders,” said Richard Samp, an attorney for the Washington Legal Foundation who has acted as a spokesman for NML’s position throughout the case. “Argentina has expressed a desire to be permitted to re-enter financial markets around the world. The only way that it can do so is by coming to terms with its existing creditors.”
The food industry has pointed to a separate 2013 IOM report that said there is no good evidence that eating sodium at very low levels - below the 2,300 milligrams a day that the government recommends - offers benefits. The government recommends that those older than 50, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease eat 1,500 milligrams a day. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone eat no more than 1,500 milligrams a day. Those pushing for sodium limits say it’s pointless to debate how low the recommendations should go - Americans are still eating around 3,400 milligrams a day.
But Fernandez also said repeatedly that her government is ready to negotiate with the “speculators” who scooped up Argentine junk bonds after the country’s 2001 default. Owners of more than 92 percent of the nearly worthless debt agreed to accept new bonds worth much less than their original face value, but investors led by New York billionaire Paul Singer held out and litigated instead, seeking to force Argentina to pay cash in full plus interest.
People rally for an increase in the minimum wage on the Great Western Staircase at the Capitol on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Several hundred fast-food workers and other low-wage employees from around New York gathered to pressure lawmakers to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $10.10 an hour and let local cities raise it even higher.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Dominique Mayfield makes $8.25 an hour washing dishes and busing tables at a Syracuse brewpub. Shantel Walker makes $8.50 an hour at her pizzeria in New York City, where the rent is more than double what it is in Syracuse. Two very different cities, but nearly the same wage. The economic differences between America’s big cities and elsewhere have prompted leaders in Seattle, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Oklahoma City and other cities to push to raise the minimum wage within their borders. The efforts are running into opposition from state lawmakers from both parties and business groups who say a patchwork of minimum wages could lead to a confusing and unequal business climate in which labor costs would vary dramatically from city to city. The minimum wage has emerged as perhaps the top issue of a newly emboldened, urban liberal movement that in many places is led not by governors or state lawmakers, but by local leaders backed by organized fast-food workers. After years of grappling with state and federal budget cuts, mayors and city councils are pushing back against state and federal officials who they say don’t understand the income inequality of 21st-century American cities.
Refusing to comply was “the best option” among a series of grim alternatives that Cleary, Gottlieb, the U.S. law firm representing Argentina in Washington, presented to Fernandez ahead of the Supreme Court decision. That guidance suggested Argentina should default on all its debts before negotiating in order to gain more leverage. well intended, it’s misguided,” said Cara Sullivan, a minimum wage policy expert at ALEC. “In Seattle they raised it to $15, and right across the city line it’s $5 less. It increases the cost of doing business for businesses in that city. You’re creating chaos from one business to the next.” Members of the city council in Providence, Rhode Island, considered raising the minimum wage from $8 to $15, but only for workers in the city’s large hotels. In response, the Democratic leaders of the Rhode Island General Assembly have moved to block the proposal by taking away cities’ authority to set local minimums. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, signed legislation in April that prohibits cities from setting their own wage after organized labor groups suggested that Oklahoma City raise its wage from $7.25 an hour - the federal minimum - to $10.10. B.J. Marsh, a single mother in a suburb of Oklahoma City, says the $7.25 she makes requires her to choose between eating or getting to work. Marsh said her 7-year-old son began living with her father to save on expenses and allow her to work. “I don’t eat because I have to have gas in my car,” she said. But supporters of Oklahoma’s new law said higher local minimum wages were likely to hurt the very low-income workers they were proposed to help by raising food prices and reducing employment.
“So many people have been pushed out of this city,” said Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata, who successfully pushed to raise the city’s wage to $15, more than $5 higher than the state wage. “Local politicians don’t have the luxury of not doing something. The state and federal governments, they’ve been AWOL. They haven’t been engaged.”
“We have seen businesses flee from cities that have tried this in other states,” said Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman. “Artificially inflating the minimum wage raises the price of everything from housing and rental costs to a loaf of bread, and causes the loss of jobs which means fewer opportunities for those working to feed their families.”
The fight to raise minimum wages has lawmakers in many states on the defensive, arguing that higher wages will lead to reductions in hours and jobs for low-income workers - and retail price increases that are likely to hit them hardest. The business-backed American Legislative Exchange Council argues that local minimum wages could lead to a race to the bottom, where businesses locate in whatever city within a region has the lowest starting wage.
In 2011 and 2012, four states passed laws keeping state minimum wages from being higher than the federal wage. This year, 14 such bills have been introduced, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“This is a debate that’s happening around the country, and although it’s
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of the City Council are seeking authority to raise the local minimum wage to $15 continued on page 8
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
OBAMA SETTING ASIDE MASSIVE P A C I F I C O C E A N P R E S E R V E
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vowing to protect fragile marine life, President Barack Obama acted Tuesday to create the world’s largest ocean preserve by expanding a national monument his predecessor established in waters thousands of miles from the American mainland.
agency IHS Energy, said no one is currently exploring for oil or gas in the area. But conservation groups said it’s critical to take proactive steps to safeguard underwater ecosystems even if direct human damage isn’t imminent.
The designation for a remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean marks a major symbolic victory for environmentalists, who have urged the president to take action on his own to protect the planet as Congress turns its focus elsewhere. But the initiative will have limited practical implications because little fishing or drilling are taking place even without the new protections. Protecting the world’s oceans and the vibrant ecosystems that thrive deep under the surface is a task that’s bigger than any one country but the U.S. must take the lead, Obama said, announcing the initiative during an ocean conservation conference. “Let’s make sure that years from now we can look our children in the eye and tell them that, yes, we did our part, we took action, and we led the way toward a safer, more stable world,” Obama said in a video message. Obama hasn’t settled on the final boundaries for the expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, and will solicit input from fishermen, scientists and conservation experts. Obama’s senior counselor, John Podesta, said that process would start immediately and wrap up “in the very near future.” President George W. Bush, a Republican, created the monument in 2009 by setting aside waters that encircle an array of remote islands in the south-central Pacific, between Hawaii and American Samoa. Bush’s protections extend about 50 miles from the shore of the U.S.-administered islands, but maritime law gives the U.S. control up to 200 nautical miles from the coast, forming the outer limit of what Obama could protect using the 1906 Antiquities Act. Conservation groups urged Obama to be bold. If Obama opts
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“These are fairly long distances from any ports, and they’re very expensive to get to,” said Lance Morgan of the Marine Conservation Institute. “Still, we don’t know what all the future uses are going to be.”
President Barack Obama speaking in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Vowing to protect fragile marine life, President Barack Obama moved Tuesday to create the world’s largest ocean preserve by expanding a national monument his predecessor created in waters thousands of miles away from the American mainland. The expansion marks a major symbolic victory for environmentalists, who have urged the president to take action on his own to protect the planet as Congress turns its focus elsewhere. But the initiative will have limited practical implications for a remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean where little fishing or drilling is taking place even without the new protections
for the full 200 miles, conservation groups said, he could roughly double the amount of ocean that’s protected worldwide. A geographic analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts estimated Obama could protect more than 780,000 square miles - almost nine times what Bush set aside - and far more if he included the waters around other U.S. islands in the Pacific Ocean. “Our oceans are feeling the strain of human activity from increased acidification, overfishing, and pollution, and we need to take bold action to protect this vital natural resource,” said Carol Browner, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator. But in practical terms, the expanded sanctuary will likely have a modest impact. Very little commercial fishing is conducted around the islands. And Bob Fryklund, chief upstream strategist for analytics
Republicans reacted with similar indignation Tuesday and accused Obama of overreaching. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who chairs the House subpanel dealing with oceans and wildlife, said Obama was invoking climate change even though the century-old Antiquities Act wasn’t intended to deal with global warming. “This is clearly way outside of his constitutional boundaries,” Fleming said in an interview. “It’s just another step in the wrong direction for our imperial president.” In another environmental move, Obama launched a task force to combat black-market fishing and seafood fraud, in which seafood products are mislabeled to hide their origin. One-fifth of wild marine fish caught each year are considered to be part of the black market, the White House said. The black market for fish cost the legitimate fishing industry $23 billion. The presidential memorandum calls for the task force to submit recommendations within six months.
S C O L D E D A T H E A R I N G I G H T L O S S S C A M S pills and cure-alls to millions of Americans desperate to lose weight. Oz appeared before the Senate’s consumer protection panel and was scolded by Chairman Claire McCaskill for claims he made about weight-loss aids on his TV show, “The Dr. Oz Show.” Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, acknowledged that his language about green coffee and other supplements has been “flowery” and promised to publish a list of specific products he thinks can help America shed pounds and get healthy - beyond eating less and moving more. On his show, he never endorsed specific companies or brands but more generally praised some supplements as fat busters. McCaskill took Oz to task for a 2012 show in which he proclaimed that green coffee extract was a “magic weight loss cure for every body type.”
Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, chairman and Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 17, 2014 , before the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance hearing to examine protecting consumers from false and deceptive advertising
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Under pressure from Congress, celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday offered to help “drain the swamp” of unscrupulous marketers using his name to peddle so-called miracle
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Obama has increasingly invoked his own authority to impose environmental protections during his second term, wary of ceding control to lawmakers who have shown no appetite for major legislation to fight climate change and other ecological challenges. Earlier this month Obama unveiled unprecedented pollution limits on power plants, enraging Republicans and even some Democrats.
“I get that you do a lot of good on your show,” McCaskill told Oz, “but I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.” Oz insisted he believes in the supplements he talks about on his
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In this May 2, 2014 file photo provided by Frank Caprio, performers hang during an aerial hair-hanging stunt at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus in Providence, R.I. Seven of the eight acrobats who fell to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center floor during that same stunt in Providence two days later have hired a Chicago-based law firm to
BOSTON (AP) -- Four circus acrobats injured during a hair-hanging stunt were expected to discuss the accident that sent them plummeting to the ground during a live performance in Rhode Island. The four were to speak on Tuesday at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, although that number could change depending on their conditions, said their lawyer, Michael Krzak. Eight acrobats were injured during a May 4 performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Providence when the apparatus from which they were suspended fell, sending them plummeting to the ground. Most have not
spoken publicly about the accident and their injuries. Krzak said on Monday that seven of the women recently hired his firm, Chicago-based Clifford Law Offices. The eighth acrobat has hired her own local lawyer, he said.
show as short-term crutches, and even has his family try them. But there’s no long-term miracle pill out there without diet and exercise, he said. Within weeks of Oz’s comments about green coffee - which refers to the unroasted seeds or beans of coffee - a Florida-based operation began marketing a dietary supplement called Pure Green Coffee, with claims that the chlorogenic acid found in the coffee beans could help people lose 17 pounds and cut body fat by 16 percent in 22 weeks. The company, according to federal regulators, featured footage from “The Dr. Oz Show,” to sell its supplement. Oz has no association with the company and received no money from sales. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission sued the sellers behind Pure Green Coffee and accused them of making bogus claims and deceiving consumers. The weight-loss industry is an area where consumers are particularly vulnerable to fraud, Mary Koelbel Engle, an associate director at the FTC, testified at the Senate hearing. She said the agency conducted a consumer survey in 2011 and found that more consumers were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than of any of the other specific frauds covered in the survey. Oz stressed during the hearing that he has never endorsed specific supplements or received money from the sale of supplements. Nor has he allowed his image to be used in ads for supplements, he said. “If you see my name, face or show in any type of ad, email, or other circumstance,” Oz testified, “it’s illegal” - and not anything he has endorsed.
While the firm has not yet filed any lawsuits, he said it is conducting an in-depth investigation into what happened. He said the firm is waiting to get access to several pieces of evidence, including a broken carabiner clip, which held up the mechanism that suspended the women and which local investigators said snapped into three pieces. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigating the accident. Samantha Pitard, 23, a native of Champaign, Illinois, who was less severely injured than the others with fractures on her spine and a head injury, is among those who hired Krzak. She told The Associated Press last month that every circus performer knows they are risking their lives every time they perform, and it’s a risk they take to make people happy. She said she hoped to return to the ring someday.
Children Incorporated 4205 Dover Road
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
U S F O R C E S M O V E I N T O I R A Q W I T H S E C U R I T Y M I S S I O N es were under consideration. But spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that while Obama would not send troops back into combat, “He has asked his national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraqi security forces.”
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating fast-moving Islamic insurgents, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces.
It’s not clear how quickly the special forces could arrive in Iraq. It’s also unknown whether they would remain in Baghdad or be sent to the nation’s north, where the Sunni Muslim insurgency has captured large swaths of territory ringing Baghdad, the capital of the Shiite-led government.
The U.S. and Iran also held an initial discussion on how the longtime foes might cooperate to ease the threat from the al-Qaida-linked militants that have swept through Iraq. Still, the White House ruled out the possibility that Washington and Tehran might coordinate military operations in Iraq. Obama met with his national security team Monday evening to discuss options for stopping the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Officials said the president has made no final decisions on how aggressively the U.S. might get involved in Iraq, though the White House continued to emphasize that any military engagement remained contingent on the government in Baghdad making political reforms. Still, there were unmistakable signs of Americans returning to a country from which the U.S. military fully withdrew more than two years ago. Obama notified Congress that up to 275 troops would be sent to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the American Embassy in Baghdad. The soldiers - 170 of which have already arrived in Iraq - were armed for combat, though Obama has insisted he does not intend for U.S. forces to be engaged in direct fighting. “We are hard-wired into their system,” the fledgling democracy that America helped institute, said Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad. “We can’t walk away from it.” About 100 additional forces are being put on standby, most likely in Kuwait, and could be used for airfield management, security and logistics support, officials said. Separately, three U.S. officials said the White House was considering sending a contingent of special forces soldiers to Iraq. Their limited mission - which has not yet been approved - would
Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the northwest Baghdad’s Shula neighborhood, Iraq, Monday, June 16, 2014. Sunni militants captured a key northern Iraqi town along the highway to Syria early on Monday, compounding the woes of Iraq’s Shiite-led government a week after it lost a vast swath of territory to the insurgents in the country’s north.
focus on training and advising beleaguered Iraqi troops, many of whom have fled their posts across the nation’s north and west as the al-Qaida-inspired insurgency has advanced in the worst threat to the country since American troops left in 2011. Taken together, the developments suggest a willingness by Obama to send Americans into a collapsing security situation in order to quell the brutal fighting in Iraq before it morphs into outright war. If the U.S. were to deploy an additional team of special forces, the mission almost certainly would be small. One U.S. official said it could be up to 100 special forces soldiers. It also could be authorized only as an advising and training mission - meaning the soldiers would work closely with Iraqi forces that are fighting the insurgency but would not officially be considered combat troops.
The White House would not confirm that special operations forc-
S TA R B U C K S D E G R E E P R O G R A M N O T A S S I M P L E A S I T S E E M S workers didn’t qualify for grants.
A customer enjoys a coffee at Starbucks in Miami. It turns out Starbucks isn’t contributing any upfront scholarship money to an online college degree program it introduced on Monday, June 16, 2014.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The scholarship portion of a new education program Starbucks is offering to help workers pay for an online degree consists entirely of a discount from Arizona State University and not money from the chain.
The Seattle-based company this week unveiled a benefit that is designed to let college juniors and seniors earn a degree from ASU at no cost. For the freshman and sophomores years, workers would pay a reduced tuition. Workers who are admitted to ASU could pick from 40 degree programs, and wouldn’t be required to stay with Starbucks after they earned their degrees. A major aspect of the program is an upfront scholarship Starbucks said is an investment between itself and Arizona State University. When asked how much of that scholarship portion the company is providing, Starbucks initially said financial terms weren’t being disclosed. Following the announcement, however, Arizona State University President Michael Crow told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Starbucks is not contributing any money toward the scholarship portion. Instead, Arizona State will essentially charge workers less than the sticker price for online tuition. Starbucks said Thursday that the scholarship is a reduced tuition rate. It estimates the reduction in tuition would average about $6,500 over two years to cover tuition of $30,000. To cover the remainder in the freshman and sophomore years, workers would apply for federal aid, such as Pell grants, and pay for the rest either out of pocket or by taking out loans. Starbucks would bear no costs in those years. For the junior and senior years, Starbucks would reimburse workers for whatever tuition they had to cover either upfront or through loans, once they completed 21 credits. Matt Ryan, chief strategy officer for Starbucks, said on Thursday that for a worker’s junior and senior years, the company could potentially cover up to 58 percent of the tuition, in cases where
The troops would fall under the authority of the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad and would not be authorized to engage in combat, another U.S. official said. Their mission would be “non-operational training” of both regular and counterterrorism units, which the military has in the past interpreted to mean training on military bases, the official said. However, all U.S. troops are allowed to defend themselves in Iraq if they are under attack. The three U.S. officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans by name. Obama made the end of the war in Iraq one of his signature campaign issues, and has touted the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011 as one of his top foreign policy successes. But he has been caught over the past week between Iraqi officials pleading for help - as well as Republicans blaming him for the loss of a decade’s worth of gains in Iraq - and his anti-war Democratic political base, which is demanding that the U.S. stay out of the fight. The crisis has sparked a rare alignment of interests between the U.S. and Iran, which wants to preserve Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government. The U.S. and Iran are engaged in sensitive nuclear negotiations and used a round of talks Monday in Vienna, Austria, to hold a separate bilateral discussion on Iraq. While the U.S. and Iran have similar short-term goals in Iraq, they have different long-term aims. The United States would like to see an inclusive, representative democracy take hold in Iraq, while predominantly Shiite Iran is more focused on protecting Iraq’s Shiite population and bolstering its own position as a regional power against powerful Sunni Arab states in the Gulf.
If workers did qualify for grants, he said Starbucks could be responsible for very little, if anything. He noted that workers financial situations can vary greatly.
Crocker said that Iran should “use all the influence” possible to keep the al-Qaida-style Islamic group from exacerbating the sectarian strife in Iraq.
Laurel Harper, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said previously that the company’s analysis with ASU found most of its workers would qualify for federal Pell grants.
Appearing Tuesday on “CBS This Morning,” Crocker said if he’d have Secretary of State John Kerry “on a plane right now for Baghdad.”
A representative for Arizona State wasn’t immediately available for comment.
“I would have liked to have seen more sustained, high-level diplomatic engagement with the Iraqis,” Crocker said. He said that for the country to have any change at survival there must quickly be a show of “Kurdish, Shia and Sunni” solidarity.
The program, which has been widely praised because education benefits are rare for low-wage workers, brought attention to the struggles people face in paying for college. It is unusual because workers can pick from 40 different degree programs and aren’t required to stay with Starbucks after they complete their degrees. It’s not clear how much the program will end up costing Starbucks. But Ryan said the company expects that it will “for sure” be a much bigger investment than its current tuition reimbursement program, which will be phased out by 2015. That program offers up to $1,000 a year to take classes at City University of Seattle or Strayer University, with no limit on the number of years they can apply. Since it was rolled out in October 2011, Starbucks said the program has cost it $6.5 million. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of EdVisors.com, a website about paying for college, said the program could benefit all parties involved. Workers could get a chance at a degree from Arizona State University at a reduced rate. Arizona State could get a revenue boost from federal aid and out-of-pocket costs workers and Starbucks later pays. And Starbucks could attract a better pool of workers and burnish its corporate image. Starbucks said its workers are “embracing this benefit with overwhelming excitement; ASU has seen an enormous uptick in interest.”
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Washington must move immediately “to disrupt their ability to continue their operations.” He said the insurgents are holding sway currently and that “all the ingredients are going into the stew. We see it happening on our watch.” Appearing on CNN, Rogers said he believes there still is time for the United States to make a difference, but that Washington must move now. While the White House continues to review its options, Iran’s military leaders are starting to step into the breach. The commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, was in Iraq on Monday and consulting with the government there on how to stave off insurgents’ gains. Iraqi security officials said the U.S. government was notified in advance of the visit by Soleimani, whose forces are a secretive branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that in the past has organized Shiite militias to target U.S. troops in Iraq and, more recently, was involved in helping Syria’s President Bashar Assad in his fight against Sunni rebels.
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- nearly double the state’s $8 minimum. State law doesn’t currently permit cities to set their own minimums, and while Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo first warned the idea would lead to a “chaotic” business environment, he now supports a proposal to raise the wage to $10.10 and let cities impose a minimum up to 30 percent higher. Restaurant owners and business groups have opposed the plan, and on Thursday it appeared state lawmakers would adjourn without voting on the measure. The state’s minimum wage is already set to increase to $8.75 at the end of this year and to $9 at the end of 2015. For Shantel Walker, the pizzeria worker in Brooklyn, the proposal would mean nearly $5 more per hour. Walker went to Albany last month to rally for a higher minimum wage outside a McDonald’s at the Capitol. She said it makes no sense that fast food workers in New York City are held to the same minimum wage as those upstate. If we have to do this every week, t
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
I R A Q : S I G N S E M E R G E O F R E P R I S A L S E C TA R I A N K I L L I N G S unchecked as Iraqi troops and police melted away and surrendered in the onslaught on the city of Mosul and Trikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Possible signs emerged Tuesday of reprisal sectarian slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq, as police said pro-government Shiite militiamen killed nearly four dozen detainees after insurgents tried to storm a jail and free them northeast of Baghdad.
On Monday, the Islamic State captured the strategically located city of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, a move that strengthens its plans to carve out a state-like enclave on both sides of the border.
The Iraqi military insisted the Sunni inmates were killed when the attackers shelled the facility outside the city of Baqouba. Neither account could be independently confirmed, but a local morgue official said many of the detainees had bullet wounds to the head and chest. The allegation of Shiite killings of Sunnis was the first hint of the beginnings of a return to sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart. Sunni militants also have been accused of atrocities in areas they have captured over the past week. The insurgents were repelled, but the fighting around the jail was the closest to Baghdad since the al-Qaida breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began its lightning advance, seizing several key cities in the Sunni heartland in northern Iraq. There were conflicting details about the fighting in the al-Kattoun district near Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province and one of the bloodiest battlefields of the U.S.-led war, and on how the detainees were killed. The city is 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. Three police officers said the police station, which has a small jail, came under attack on Monday night by Islamic militants who tried to free the detainees, mostly suspected Sunni militants. The three said Shiite militiamen, who rushed to defend the facility, killed the detainees at close range. A morgue official in Baqouba said many of the slain detainees had bullet wounds to the head and chest. All four officials spoke on condition of anonymity fearing for their own safety. However, Iraq’s chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, told The Associated Press that 52 detainees who were held at the station in al-Kattoun died when the attackers from the Islamic State shelled it with mortars. The group is known to be active in Diyala, a volatile province with a mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds and where Shiite militiamen are deployed alongside government forces. Sunni militants have for years targeted security forces and Shiite civilians in the province, which abuts the Iranian border. Nine of the attackers were killed, al-Moussawi said. The conflicting reports could not immediately be reconciled, but if the version of events provided by the policemen and the coroner is independently verified, then the incident would be an example of the sectarian strife and atrocities that Iraq’s ongoing crisis could yield.
Iraqi military officials said some 400 elite troops and volunteers who have joined security forces were flown to an airport outside Tal Afar on Monday, but were immediately pinned down by heavy artillery shelling from the militants.
Iraqi men flash victory signs as they leave the main recruiting center to join the Iraqi army in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. Hundreds of young Iraqi men gripped by religious and nationalistic fervor streamed into volunteer centers across Baghdad Saturday, answering a call by the country’s top Shiite cleric to join the fight against Sunni militants advancing in the north
Iraq has been in danger of sliding back to the wholesale Shiite-Sunni bloodletting of 2006 and 2007 since Sunni militants seized at least one city and significant parts of the countryside in Anbar province west of Baghdad early this year. Continuous bombings blamed on Sunni militants in Baghdad and elsewhere, and targeted assassinations of members of both communities have deepened fears of outright sectarian warfare. During the United States’ eight-year presence in Iraq, American forces acted as a buffer between the two Islamic sects, though with limited success. The U.S. military withdrew at the end of 2011, but it is now being pulled back in - albeit so far on a limited basis. Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating the Islamic militants, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces. The White House has continued to emphasize that any military engagement remained contingent on the government in Baghdad making political reforms. The U.S. and Iran, Iraq’s Shiite neighbor and close ally, also held an initial discussion on how the longtime foes might cooperate to ease the threat from the al-Qaida-linked militants that have swept through Iraq. Still, the White House ruled out the possibility that Washington and Tehran might coordinate military operations in Iraq. The Islamic State has vowed to march to Baghdad, and the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in the worst threat to Iraq’s stability since U.S. troops left. The three cities are home to some of the most revered Shiite shrines. The Islamic State has also tried to capture the city of Samarra north of Baghdad, home to another major Shiite shrine. The push by the Islamic State’s militants has largely been
F L O R I D A M O R E V U L N E R A B L E T O T W I S T E R S T H A N M I D W E S T An American flag flying over the remains of a tornado-ravaged neighborhood in Tuscaloosa, Ala., a month after a killer storms in Alabama. Oklahoma and Kansas may have the reputation as tornado hotspots, but Florida and the rest of the Southeast are far more vulnerable to killer twisters, a new analysis shows. (
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Oklahoma and Kansas may have the reputation as tornado hot spots, but Florida and the rest of the Southeast are far more vulnerable to killer twisters, a new analysis shows. Florida leads the country in deaths calculated per mile a tornado races along the ground, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Alabama, according to an analysis of the past three decades by the federal Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina. That’s because Florida is No. 1 in so many factors that make tornadoes more risky: mobile homes, the elderly and the poor, said center director Charles Konrad II, who headed the new work. “People are just much more vulnerable in a mobile home than they are in a regular home,” Konrad said. Florida’s death rate of 2.4 deaths per 100 miles of tornado ground track is more than two-and-a-half times that of Oklahoma and nearly five times that of Kansas. Along with Florida, Dixie Alley - including Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, western parts of the Carolinas - is where “more people die from tornadoes” than anywhere else in the world, said Conrad.
Three years ago, a four-day outbreak of more than 200 tornadoes killed 316 people in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. Florida doesn’t get as many tornadoes as Oklahoma and they aren’t as strong, but when Florida does get them, “people are especially vulnerable,” Konrad said. He presented the research at an American Meteorological Society meeting in Colorado this week. Konrad’s work makes sense and fits with earlier research on tornado fatalities, said Florida State University meteorology professor James Elsner and Barb Mayes Boustead, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist and tornado chaser. Visibility is another problem for tornadoes in the Southeast. Because of atmospheric conditions, the region tends to get more tornadoes at night, making them harder to see, Konrad said. It also means some people may be asleep and miss warnings. The South also has more trees and buildings to block the view of oncoming tornadoes, Konrad said. And they also tend to come from low-hanging clouds, making them harder to see. Florida tends to get tornadoes more in the winter, while the Southeast tornado season is February through April, Konrad said. The Midwest generally sees them in the spring and summer. This year, which is so far unusually quiet, seven tornadoes have killed 35 people, 32 of them in the Southeast, including 16 in Arkansas and 11 in Mississippi.
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In Baghdad on Tuesday, a sticky bomb attached to a car exploded, killing three passengers and wounding 11 bystanders, according to police and hospital officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to the media.
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This week Google, with a driverless car and Web-surfing eyeglasses under its belt, has given The Associated Press an early look at how it’s trying to change the gender disparity in its own workforce, and in the pipeline of potential workers, by launching a campaign Thursday called “Made with Code.” The initiative begins with an introductory video of girls- silly, serious and brave - meeting President Obama, painting over graffiti and goofing around. The narrator says: “You are a girl who understands bits exist to be assembled. When you learn to code, you can assemble anything that you see missing. And in so doing, you will fix something, or change something, or invent something, or run something, and maybe that’s how you will play your bit in this world.” A website features female role-model techies who write software to design cool fabrics or choreograph dances. There are simple, fun coding lessons aimed at girls and a directory of coding programs for girls. The search giant is also offering $50 million in grants and partnering with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit launched in 2012 that runs summer coding institutes for girls, including the one that helped focus Navarro’s passion for technology. A preview test run of Google’s online coding lessons this week was deemed “awesome” by Carmen Ramirez y Porter, 11. “It’s not very complicated. It’s easy and fun and really cool to see how it turns out when you finish,” she said. National Center for Women & Information Technology CEO Lucy Sanders, a leading advocate for women in computer sciences, sees the Made With Code initiative as a pivotal moment in what has been a long-term challenge of getting more girl geeks growing up in America. “It used to be that as a computing community we didn’t really talk about gender issues. But now we’re really pulling together, from corporations and startups to nonprofits and universities,” Sanders said. “I’m very optimistic.” There’s plenty of room for change. Female participation in computer sciences has dropped to 18 percent, down from 37 percent in the 1980s, and only seven percent of U.S. venture capital deals go to women founders and CEOs. Just 20 percent of the 30,000 students who took the Advanced Placement computer science test last year were girls, according to a College Board analysis, which showed no girls at all took the test in Mississippi, Montana or Wyoming. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, one of the earliest Google employees, points to societal and economic drawbacks if women are not participating in the booming tech economy. Also, she said, “I miss having more women counterparts.” Tech firms are overwhelming male - Yahoo on Tuesday released a report showing 62 percent of its global employees are men. At Google, about 70 percent of the roughly 44,000 people it employs throughout the world are men. This year, the search giant commissioned a nationwide study to find out why so few women pursue technology careers, asking 1,600 people about whether they were encouraged to study computer sciences and had opportunities to learn to code. Their findings, shared with the AP this week in advance of public release: Girls have little exposure to technology and computer sciences. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, however. If parents, friends and teachers encourage their daughters to pursue computer sciences, schools offer more courses and more role models step forward, the field can be leveled. But to capture girls, it’s got to be fun. That’s the plan for a “Made With Code” kick-off event in New York Thursday for 150 girls, where indie rockers Icona Pop will perform and coders will demo how they make everything from animated movies to designer fabrics with software. Actress Mindy Kaling, who is the event’s master of ceremonies, said she fights gender bias in Hollywood, but when a techie friend told her about Silicon Valley’s gender gap “it was staggering.” “Just as television and movies need to reflect their audience, I think it’s important that people who create technology reflect the diversity of people who use them,” she said. Chelsea Clinton, who is representing the Clinton Foundation at Thursday’s event, said she got her own first computer in 1987 from Santa Claus. continued from page 6
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014 ____________________________________________________________________
I R A Q : S I G N S E M E R G E O F R E P R I S A L S E C TA R I A N K I L L I N G S The bodies were taken to the Baqouba morgue, where an official said most had gunshot wounds to the head and chest. One detainee, however, survived and was taken to the hospital.
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Signs emerged Tuesday of a reprisal sectarian slaughter of Sunnis in Iraq, as police said pro-government Shiite militiamen killed nearly four dozen detainees after insurgents tried to storm the jail northeast of Baghdad.
Police later arrived at the hospital and took the wounded man away, said a hospital official.
A local morgue official said many of the detainees had bullet wounds to the head and chest, though the Iraqi military insisted the Sunni inmates were killed by mortar shells in the attack on the facility outside the city of Baqouba.
The police officers, the hospital and morgue officials all spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their own safety. A different account was provided to The Associated Press by Iraq’s chief military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi. He said 52 detainees who were held at the station in al-Kattoun died when the attackers from the Islamic State shelled it with mortars.
In Baghdad, meanwhile, the bullet-riddled bodies of four men in their late 20s or early 30s, presumably Sunnis, were found at different locations in the Shiite neighborhood of Benouk, according to police and morgue officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk with the media. The discovery was a grim reminder of a dark chapter in Iraq’s history when nearly a decade ago the city woke up virtually every morning to find dozens of bodies dumped in the streets, trash heaps or in the Tigris river with torture marks or gunshot wounds. The allegation of Shiite killings of Sunnis near Baqouba and in Baghdad were the first hints of the beginnings of a return to sectarian warfare that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007. Sunni militants also have been accused of atrocities - an apparent attempt to provoke Shiite militias into revenge attacks that would strengthen the hand of an al-Qaida splinter group within Iraq’s Sunni community. A U.N. commission warned Tuesday that “a regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer” as Sunni insurgents advance across Iraq to control areas bridging the Iraq-Syria frontier. It said Iraq’s turmoil will have “violent repercussions” in Syria, most dangerously the rise of sectarian violence as “a direct consequence of the dominance of extremist groups.” During the United States’ eight-year presence in Iraq, American forces acted as a buffer between the two Islamic sects, though with limited success. The U.S. military withdrew at the end of 2011, but it is now being pulled back in - albeit so far in far fewer numbers.
Iraqi men flash victory signs as they leave the main recruiting center to join the Iraqi army in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. Hundreds of young Iraqi men gripped by religious and nationalistic fervor streamed into volunteer centers across Baghdad Saturday, answering a call by the country’s top Shiite cleric to join the fight against Sunni militants advancing in the north.
The fighting around the jail was the closest to Baghdad since the al-Qaida breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began its lightning advance, seizing several key northern cities in the Sunni heartland last week. There were conflicting details about the clashes in the al-Kattoun district near Baqouba, the capital of Diyala province and one of the bloodiest battlefields of the U.S.-led war, and on how the detainees were killed. The city is 60 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the Iraqi capital. Officers said the local police station, which has a small jail, came under attack Monday night by Sunni militants who arrived in two sedan cars to free the detainees. The militants fired rocket-propelled grenades on the building before opening fire with assault rifles. A SWAT team accompanied by Shiite militiamen rushed to scene and asked the local policemen to leave, according to the officers. When the policemen later returned to the station, they found all those in the detention cells dead.
B I T C O I N F A C E S B I G G E S T THREAT YET: A MINER TAKEOVER painstakingly produced by computers churning through millions of calculations. Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a virtual public ledger, known as the blockchain. Miners are in charge of maintaining the blockchain. As their computers perform the calculations to do that, the process rewards them with newly minted bitcoins. A single mining computer might take years to produce a single block of coins, and there’s no way to know when that might happen. In pools, miners divide the bitcoins they create among themselves in proportion to the work done, providing with them with a steadier stream of income. The pools aren’t created to threaten the trust placed in bitcoin; it’s a side effect of the pool’s growth. A man arrives for the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York. The Bitcoin digital currency system is in danger of losing its credibility as an independent payment system because of the growing power of a group that runs the some of the computers behind it.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Bitcoin digital currency system is in danger of losing its credibility as an independent payment system because of the growing power of a group that runs some of the computers behind it.
In recent weeks, a British-based “mining pool” called GHash has amassed nearly half of the Bitcoin computing power and has briefly gone over 50 percent. Miners operate the computers that keep track of bitcoins and create additional coins. Miners pool their computing power to spread the financial risk of their operations. If GHash amasses more than half of the computing power devoted to Bitcoin, it could in theory control the flow of transactions, freeze people out of the network and keep all future bitcoins for itself. Although GHash says it’s committed to preserving Bitcoin as a trustable technology, the mere fact that one player can amass majority control could undermine trust in the currency, which is worth only what people are willing to pay for it. “The entire premise of bitcoin relies on the fact that no single authority would control the majority of the mining power,” said Ittay Eyal, a Cornell University researcher who studies bitcoin vulnerabilities. The value of bitcoins has fallen 6 percent in a week to around $600 as the threat posed by GHash has become clearer, although the decline is within the range of normal fluctuations for the volatile currency. Bitcoins allow people to send money over the Internet without going through banks. This means transaction costs are low, but it also means they’re useful for illegal activities such as money laundering and drug sales. Bitcoins have also become a target of speculators betting on a continued run-up in the currency. Its value has grown a hundredfold over two years. From a technical standpoint, bitcoins are sequences of numbers,
GHash is controlled by a British company, CEX.IO Ltd. The company said in a statement Monday that it wants to protect Bitcoin, but it doesn’t want to turn away people from the pool or impose other temporary solutions to back away from the 50 percent threshold. GHash said it’s arranging a “round table” meeting of key players in the Bitcoin system in July to “with the aim of discussing and negotiating collectively ways to address the decentralisation of mining as an industry.” Eyal said the problem needs to be fixed in “a very drastic fashion” to reduce the incentive to create pools. That will probably with an update to the software the underlies the system, he said. continued from page 9
“Ultimately computer science is helping to create the future,” she said. “So when we think about the future, we know we need to be doing more in this country and around the world to ensure that girls and women see computer sciences as real, viable options for them.”
Nine of the attackers were killed, al-Moussawi said. The Islamic State is known to be active in Diyala, a volatile province with a mix of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds and where Shiite militiamen are deployed alongside government forces. Sunni militants have for years targeted security forces and Shiite civilians in the province, which abuts the Iranian border. The Islamic State has vowed to march to Baghdad, and the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in the worst threat to Iraq’s stability since U.S. troops left. The three cities are home to some of the most revered Shiite shrines. The Islamic State has also tried to capture the city of Samarra north of Baghdad, home to another major Shiite shrine. Nearly 300 armed American forces are being positioned in and around Iraq to help secure U.S. assets as President Barack Obama nears a decision on an array of options for combating the Islamic militants, including airstrikes or a contingent of special forces. The White House has continued to emphasize that any military engagement remained contingent on the government in Baghdad making political reforms. The U.S. and Iran, Iraq’s Shiite neighbor and close ally, also held an initial discussion on how the longtime foes might cooperate to ease the threat from the al-Qaida-linked militants that have swept through Iraq. Still, the White House ruled out the possibility that Washington and Tehran might coordinate military operations in Iraq. The push by the Islamic State’s militants has largely been unchecked as Iraqi troops and police melted away and surrendered in the onslaught on the city of Mosul and Trikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. On Monday, the Islamic State captured the strategically located city of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, a move that strengthens its plans to carve out a state-like enclave on both sides of the border. Iraqi military officials said some 400 elite troops and volunteers who have joined security forces were flown to an airport outside Tal Afar on Monday, but were immediately pinned down by heavy artillery shelling from the militants. Iraq has been in danger of sliding back to wholesale Shiite-Sunni bloodletting since Sunni militants seized at least one city and significant parts of the countryside in Anbar province west of Baghdad early this year. Continuous bombings blamed on Sunni militants in Baghdad and elsewhere, and targeted assassinations of members of both communities have deepened fears of outright sectarian warfare. In Baghdad on Tuesday, a suicide bomber set off his explosives outside a central Baghdad store that sells military uniforms, killing seven people and wounding 22, according to police and hospital officials. Elsewhere in the capital, a sticky bomb attached to a car exploded, killing three passengers and wounding 11 bystanders, according to police and hospital officials. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Entrepreneur Dez White wasn’t necessarily pursuing a tech career when she asked a patron at her family’s restaurant to teach her to write software. She just had an idea for an app and wanted to make it. “It was very hard for me to get my head around it,” White said. “I didn’t go to Stanford for code.” Today, she hires coders for her firm Goinvis, which sells privacy apps that allows users to send texts that self-destruct at a set time and emails that disappear from an inbox after they’re opened. But in addition to her day job, as a successful female African-American entrepreneur, she realizes she needs to be a mentor as well. “I think young women don’t even realize computer sciences are an option. It’s not laid out like nursing and social work,” she said. Next year, she’s planning to organize a technology retreat for high school girls, and she tries to hire women for her growing company. “It’s hard. We have to really look. Their numbers are very, very slim,” she said.
Children Incorporated 4205 Dover Road
B R O O K S ’ G O A L J U S T L I K E I N
The Weekly News Digest, June 23, 2014
H A P P E N E D A D R E A M
“I told some teammates that I dreamed that I scored in the 80th minute and we won the game,” he said. “And now it was the 86th minute and we won.”
substitute on the 2010 World Cup team. Among the five German-Americans on the 23-man roster, Brooks made his national team debut last August and had only four appearances entering the World Cup. He was benched twice last season by Hertha Berlin, his club in the German Bundesliga, for a poor performance in December and being unable to train in April because he was hampered by a tattoo on his back.
One of the surprise picks by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Brooks hadn’t been in the starting lineup for the Americans’ World Cup opener against Ghana. But after central defender Matt Besler felt tightness in his right hamstring during the final five minutes of the first half, Klinsmann sent the 21-year-old Brooks on for the start of the second.
“With John, I saw, we saw, very early that his passing is amazing. He’s very calm for his age. Obviously he’s very strong in the air because he’s so tall,” Klinsmann said. “This is what you read, then you have to figure out is he ready for such a big thing like a World Cup already or maybe does it take another year or two in his development?”
NATAL, Brazil (AP) -- Smiling ear to ear after winning a World Cup match with his first international goal, John Brooks had a story to share.
Just four minutes after Andre Ayew’s 82nd-minute goal wiped out a lead Clint Dempsey had given the U.S. just 29 seconds in, Brooks outjumped Ghana’s John Boye to meet Graham Zusi’s corner kick and bounced an 8-yard header past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey. Overcome with emotion, Brooks ran in disbelief, slumped to the ground arms first and felt teammates pile onto him. When they finally moved off, he put both hands to his lips and blew a kiss.
United States’ John Brooks celebrates scoring his side’s second goal during the group G World Cup soccer match between Ghana and the United States at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Monday, June 16, 2014. The United States defeated Ghana 2-1.
Brooks thought back to two nights earlier and the dream.
It also was on a header. From a corner kick. Just liked it happened. “It was unbelievable,” Brooks said. “I couldn’t believe it.” Klinsmann chose Brooks over Clarence Goodson, an unused
P E T E R O S E M A N A G E S T E A M , 1 S T T I M E I N 2 5 Y E A R S About 50 fans paid $250 each to get into a “meet and greet” with Rose before this game and others paid $150 to have lunch with him. He did sign some free autographs as he took the field.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Pete Rose stood behind the batting cage Monday, joking as former major leaguer Joe Mather hit ball after ball to center field during batting practice for the Bridgeport Bluefish. “I asked him, `What are you working on, a sacrifice fly?’” Rose said. Charlie Hustle’s jersey was too big and he was wearing slacks as he exchanged lineup cards with opposing manager Butch Hobson at home plate. But Rose was back in his element, managing a baseball team, if just for one day.
Rose could take this one-game job because the Bluefish are not affiliated with any major league team. He said the appearance wasn’t about bringing attention to the ban or getting reinstated. He said he was trying to show he could be a good ambassador for the game. “If I’m ever reinstated, I won’t need a third chance,” he said. “Believe me.” The Bluefish players asked for autographs took pictures and listened to Rose’s stories of his glory days. Many, like Rose, also are hoping for one more shot at the big time. “He’s here, so I’m definitely going to ask him about stuff,” said 40-year-old Luis Lopez, who has spent 20 years playing baseball, but just two at the major league level. “I’m going to pick his brain about everything, especially hitting, because eventually I want to coach.” Rose said he would never consider managing an independent league team full-time. It just doesn’t pay enough. He makes a lot more money these days making personal appearances around the country and signing autographs for cash on the Las Vegas strip.
As the American Outlaws chanted their way out of the stadium, Brooks missed the chance to meet Vice President Joe Biden when he visited the locker room. Brooks and Jermaine Jones had been chosen for random drug tests. Brooks, who lives in Berlin and has family in Chicago, has only visited the U.S. for training camps and vacation. But speaking one day in California last month, he said, “When I’m here, I’m a full American. I play with heart for America.” He had nerves initially Monday, yet is thrilled with how things ended.
“He’s done his time,” he said. “It’s time.”
Nearly two hours after the final whistle, Brooks was among the last U.S. players to leave the locker room. Someone asked whether he thinks he will start against Portugal on Sunday.
“All I can say about Donald Sterling is, my fiancee is a lot better looking than his girlfriend,” Rose joked before getting serious for just a moment. “A lifetime ban,” he said, “is a long time.”
“I think the first goal was perfect, a perfect start. Couldn’t be better,” Brooks said.
“I don’t expect anything,” he said. “I just give my best in every training session, and we’ll see.” NOTES: The team returned to its base camp of Sao Paulo and U.S. F Jozy Altidore was scheduled to have his injured left hamstring examined Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe said. Altidore was hurt in the first half and replaced by Aron Johannsson.
S P A C E W A L K E R S C O M P L E T E TIRING ANTENNA INSTALLATION “Slowly but surely,” one of the spacewalkers said as he worked with the connectors. Running behind schedule, Skvortsov and Artemiev moved on to their next chore. Their to-do list included moving a payload boom and switching out science experiments.
The 73-year-old whose 4,256 hits are the most in major league history served as guest skipper for the Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League during their 2-0 win over the Lancaster (Pennsylvania) Barnstormers. He also coached first base for the team for the first five innings. The game at the 5,300-seat stadium was his first managing job since 1989, when as the skipper of the Cincinnati Reds he agreed to a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for betting on baseball. He later admitted that he bet on Reds games while running the team.
“They expected more from him the last season. There he got a little bit of a lesson from his coach,” Klinsmann said. “It’s part of growing, as well. But we knew that if we had the time now for more than a month to work him through every training session, to teach him some elements of the game, that he’s willing to take that on and learn it quickly. And obviously he learned it quickly.”
About 4,500 fans paid to see the game. George Libretti, 46 of Beacon Falls, brought his 10-year-old nephew, Robert Rosko, so the boy could one day say that he saw the greatest hitter who ever lived. Libretti said he supported Rose’s ban 25 years ago, but believes the time has come to put him in the Hall of Fame.
Rose said he’s learned to live with his ban. He was asked during his pregame news conference if he had any advice for Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling on how to deal with his. Pete Rose, left, and Lancaster Barnstormers manager Butch Hobson, right, talk at home plate before a game at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, Monday, June 16, 2014, in Bridgeport, Conn. Rose, banned from Major League Baseball, returned to the dugout for one day to manage the independent minor-league Bridgeport Bluefish.
Klinsmann consulted with Hertha coach Jos Luhukay and sporting director Michael Preetz.
The four astronauts inside kept tabs on the 260-mile-high action, while conducting their own work. “Pretty neat up here right now,” U.S. astronaut Reid Wiseman said via Twitter. “Two Russian crew mates are spacewalking but business as usual for me and (at)astro-alex,” he said, referring to German Alexander Gerst. Russian space station crew member Oleg Artemiev floats outside the International Space Station during a space walk by two Russians, Thursday, June 16, 2014, to install a new antenna and move a cargo boom. Alexander Skvortsov and Artemiev will also switch out some science experiments.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A pair of spacewalking astronauts managed to install a new antenna Thursday outside the International Space Station, despite some equipment trouble.
The crew includes three Russians, two Americans and the one German. The Americans are supposed to venture out on NASA-led spacewalks in August. Skvortsov and Artemiev al
Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemiev panted and sighed as they dealt with balky clamps and latches. Mission Control outside Moscow urged them to take frequent breaks. “Resting is most important,” Mission Control radioed in Russian. Two hours into the spacewalk, the first-time spacewalkers still were struggling to secure the antenna, considered a major job. They hauled the antenna out with them, at the start of the spacewalk. “We almost have it. Almost there,” one of the astronauts said as the work dragged on. Two of the three locks clicked into place on the antenna. But the third would not work right, and the astronauts had to use a wire tie instead. Each spacewalker tugged on the tie to tighten it. With that finally complete, the two successfully made a series of connections, eliciting a “Hurrah!”
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The Weekly News Digest, June 16, 2014
S A L M O N M I G R A T E B Y T R U C K D U R I N G C A L I F O R N I A D R O U G H T Coleman hatchery fish pulled up to the docks of Mare Island north of San Francisco Bay. There, the trucks unloaded 750,000 smolts that gushed out of long plastic pipes into floating netted pens.
MARE ISLAND, Calif. (AP) -- In drought-stricken California, young Chinook salmon are hitting the road, not the river, to get to the Pacific Ocean. Millions of six-month-old smolts are hitching rides in tanker trucks because California’s historic drought has depleted rivers and streams, making the annual migration to the ocean too dangerous for juvenile salmon.
The silvery smolts, just inches long, acclimated to the water in the net pens before Fishery Foundation boats took them out to the bay, where the fish were released and pulled to the ocean by tides.
“The drought conditions have caused lower flows in the rivers, warmer water temperatures, and the fish that would normally be swimming down the rivers would be very susceptible to predation and thermal stress,” said Kari Burr, fishery biologist with the Fishery Foundation of California. California has been trucking hatchery-raised salmon for years to bypass river dams and giant pumps that funnel water to Southern California and Central Valley farms. But this year state and federal wildlife agencies are trucking nearly 27 million smolts, about 50 percent more than normal, because of the drought, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Each spring, the Coleman National Fish Hatchery usually
Trucking the smolts ensures a large number will survive and grow to be the California king salmon prized by fishermen and seafood lovers. But skipping the river journey means the migratory fish won’t know how to swim home to spawn in three years.
releases about 12 million smolts into Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near Redding. But this year, it trucked 7.5 million of them to San Francisco Bay because the drought had made the 300-mile swim too perilous. On a recent morning, a small convoy of tanker trucks carrying
W I L D L I F E P R O D U C T S M A Y F I N A N C E T E R R O R I S M ingredients.
A stuffed lion’s head is displayed at a news conference at JFK international Airport, Monday, June 16, 2014 in New York to highlight efforts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife to deter illegal trafficking in wildlife. The items displayed were seized from baggage and cargo arriving at the airport. The government is cracking down on the illegal trafficking, saying some of its import-export activity may be linked to terrorists.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The U.S. government is stepping up its crackdown on the illegal trafficking of wild animal products across the nation’s borders, saying some may be linked to terrorists, federal officials said Monday.
“Poaching in Africa is funding terrorist groups,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told a news conference at Kennedy International Airport.
A dead elephant is worth about $18,000 - mostly from the tusk. Also seized was a small rhino horn libation cup worth tens of thousands of dollars. Kennedy handles the largest cargo volume of any U.S. airport, about $100 billion a year, said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. And the wildlife element plays an especially powerful role in national security, said Froman, the chief U.S. trade negotiator and adviser to President Barack Obama. More than 20,000 elephants were killed last year along with about 1,000 rhinos, meeting a rising world demand resulting in declining populations across Africa, according to officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This treaty was signed by more than 170 countries to protect animals that end up as contraband including live pets, hunting trophies, fashion accessories, cultural artifacts and medicinal
The state-run Nimbus Fish Hatchery near Sacramento usually releases 3 million of the 4 million Chinook smolts it raises into the nearby American River, but this year it’s releasing all of them into the bay. “Because of the conditions this year and the mortality, it’s better to put them straight into the bay and get them back in three years,” said fish technician Gregory Ferguson, who was herding the smolts in ponds toward pumps that sucked them into the truck tanks headed for Mare Island.
In February, Obama approved a new strategy for fighting trafficking through enforcement, as well as partnerships with other countries, communities and private industry. For the first time, U.S. officials are asking trading partners to agree to conservation measures for wildlife and the environment in return for signing agreements.
The commercial and recreational fishing industries have been pushing for the expanded trucking program to increase the chances of a decent salmon season in 2016, when the smolts released this year will be adults.
Kennedy customs officials are reaching out to local businesses, plus auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s and even Carnegie Hall to alert them to illegally traded valuables that may come their way.
“I actually make my living just trolling for salmon, so it’s pretty important for me,” said John Terry, commercial salmon fisherman from Aberdeen, Washington, who was unloading his catch at San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf at the start of commercial salmon season. “We need the help.”
20,000 ELEPHANTS POACHED IN AFRICA IN 2013 efforts across multiple countries, as well as greater political and public attention to this unfolding crisis,” said John Scanlon, the CITES secretary-general. About 28 percent of Africa’s elephants are in eastern Africa, but most of them - close to 55 percent - are in southern Africa. Some populations of elephants continue to face an immediate threat of local extinction.
B U F FA L O Z O O R H I N O CALF FROM CINCINNATI RHINO SPERM
On display in an airport cargo warehouse operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was a collection of wildlife products seized at Kennedy - from ivory disguised to look like a wooden statue and the stuffed heads of a lion and leopard to handicrafts, artworks and musical instruments hiding animal parts.
Paul Chapelle, the agent in charge of New York for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said one horn case resulted in 16 arrests, including that of a mobster from Ireland now serving 13 months behind bars.
The federal hatchery in Shasta County did release 4.5 million smolts into Battle Creek in April after rain temporarily improved river flows. Hamelberg hopes at least a small number of them will return in a few years and serve as broodstock for future generations.
U.S. trade officials believe that groups benefiting from the poaching include the militant Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and South Sudan, the Janjaweed comprised of Sudanese Arab tribes, and al-Shabab, a jihadist group based in Somalia.
He said such illegal trade is a threat to global security because it’s driven by criminal elements, including terrorists using profits from items such as rhinoceros horns and elephant tusks to finance their activities.
The single priciest item was a rhino horn. It fetches $30,000 per pound - or about 30 percent more than its weight in gold.
“Because that imprinting cycle is broken, it’s unlikely that many fish will make it back to Coleman. In other words, they stray. They won’t find that scent to where home is,” said Scott Hamelberg, who manages the Coleman National Fish Hatchery.
In this photo taken Tuesday June 10, 2014 and supplied by International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW), an orphaned elephant calf, left, one of two, is introduced to an adult at the Game Rangers International Release Facility at the Kafue National Park in Zambia. The two calves, whose parents were killed by poachers when they were two, are to be integrated with the resident orphan herd and later released into the park. More than 20,000 elephants were poached last year in Africa where large seizures of smuggled ivory eclipsed those in Asia for the first time, international wildlife regulators said Friday June 13, 2014.
GENEVA (AP) -- More than 20,000 elephants were poached last year in Africa where large seizures of smuggled ivory eclipsed those in Asia for the first time, international wildlife regulators said Friday. Eighty percent of the African seizures were in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, three of the eight nations required to draw up plans to curb ivory smuggling, officials with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) reported. The report says poaching is increasing in Central African Republic, but declining in Chad. But CITES, which regulates 35,000 species of plants and animals and which banned ivory trade in 1989, says the overall poaching numbers in 2013 dropped from the previous two years. “We are seeing better law enforcement and demand-reduction
CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Zoo says a female Indian rhino calf born recently in New York was produced by artificial insemination using sperm from a now-dead Cincinnati rhino. Zoo officials call the calf born June 5 at the Buffalo Zoo a victory for endangered species. The father was named Jimmy and died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004. His sperm was frozen, stored and later taken to Buffalo. The calf’s 17-year-old mother is named Tashi. She previously conceived and successfully gave birth through natural breeding in 2004 and 2008. But her mate died, and Buffalo’s new male Indian rhino hasn’t reached sexual maturity. Buffalo officials say the calf weighed 144 pounds at birth. They say there are only 59 Indian rhinos in captivity in North America and about 2,500 in the wild.
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