|28 Jun 2009 @ 01:45|
It was quitting smoking that caused a Forks Township man to drive a lawn tractor into the patio of his home and threaten to tear the house down with his wife inside.
So said Charles L. Brinker, 49, before he was sentenced to 18 months of probation, 15 hours of community service and fined $500 after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment.
"I was on Chantix to quit smoking, and I believe that had a lot to do with it," Brinker told Northampton County Judge F.P. Kimberly McFadden this morning. "I'm not a doctor, but I believe it had a lot to do with it."
On May 2, Brinker made the threats to his wife, Diane Brinker, as he drove a Bobcat loader into the rear patio of their 1005 Forest Hollow Drive home, according to court records. Police said he many times used the tractor to ram a bar that supports that house structurally.
Brinker has since reconciled with his wife, said defense attorney Leonard Mellon, and she attended the sentencing with her husband.
-- Reporting by Riley Yates, The Morning Call
|22 Feb 2009 @ 10:32|
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) – An infant boy was married off to his neighbors' dog in eastern India by villagers, who said it will stop the groom from being killed by wild animals, officials and witnesses said on Wednesday.
Around 150 tribespeople performed the ritual recently in a hamlet in the state of Orissa's Jajpur district after the boy, who is under two years old, grew a tooth on his upper gum.
The Munda tribe see such a growth in young children as a bad omen and believe it makes them prone to attacks by tigers and other animals. The tribal god will bless the child and ward off evil spirits after the marriage.
"We performed the marriage because it will overcome any curse that might fall on the child as well on us," the boy's father, Sanarumala Munda, was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.
The groom, Sagula, was carried by his family in a procession to the village temple, where a priest solemnized the marriage between Sagula and his bride, Jyoti, by chanting Sanskrit hymns, a witness said.
The dog belongs to the groom's neighbors and was set free to roam around the area after the ceremony. No dowry was exchanged, the witness said, and the boy will still be able to marry a human bride in the future without filing for divorce.
Indian law does not recognize weddings between people and animals, but the ritual survives in rural and tribal areas of the country.
|15 Feb 2009 @ 18:38|
They call it Mellow Yellow?
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A hardline Hindu organization, known for its opposition to "corrupting" Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow's urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release.
The flavor is not yet known, but the RSS said the liquid produced by Hinduism's revered holy cows is being mixed with products such as aloe vera and gooseberry to fight diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Many Hindus consider cow urine to have medicinal properties and it is often drunk in religious festivals.
The organization, which aims to transform India's secular society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority, said it had not decided on a name or a price for the drink.
"Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine," Om Prakash, the head of the RSS Cow Protection Department, told Reuters by phone.
Prakash, who is based in Hardwar, one of four holy Hindu cities on the river Ganges where the world's largest religious gathering takes place, said the product will be sold nationwide but did not rule out international success.
"It is useful for the whole country and the world as well. It will be done through shops and through corporates," he said.
The Hindu group has campaigned against foreign imports such as Pepsi and Coca Cola in the past, which it sees as a corrupting influence and a tool of Western imperialism.
The RSS was temporarily banned after a Hindu mob tore down a mosque in 1992 which lead to bloody religious riots.
The Shiv Sena, a hardline Hindu political party also known for attacking what it sees as threats to Indian culture such as Valentine's Day, started a similar initiative last year to appeal to its powerbase in Mumbai.
To promote the food of the native Marathi culture, the Shiv Sena said it was "making a chain like McDonalds" to sell a popular local fried snack. More >
|15 Feb 2009 @ 18:30|
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Thousands of Indians, many fuming over a recent assault on women in a pub, are vowing to fill bars on Valentine's Day and send cartons of pink panties to a radical Hindu group that has branded outgoing females immoral.
A "consortium of pub-going, loose and forward women," founded by four Indian women on social networking website Facebook has, in a matter of days, attracted more than 25,000 members with over 2,000 posts about the self-appointed moral police.
The women said their mission was to go bar-hopping on February 14 and send hundreds of pink knickers to Sri Ram Sena, the militant Hindu group that has said pubs are for men, and that women should stay at home and cook for their husbands.
The same Hindu group was blamed for attacking women in a bar in the southern city of Mangalore in January, an incident that sparked a national debate about women's freedoms in India.
Collection centers have sprung up in several cities, with volunteers calling for bright pink old-fashioned knickers as gifts to the Sri Ram Sena as a mark of defiance.
"Girl power! Go girls, go. Show Ram Sena... who's the boss," reads one post on Facebook from Larkins Dsouza.
There is a separate campaign to "Walk to the nearest pub and buy a drink (and) raise a toast," that has found supporters from Toronto to Bangkok to Sydney, with even teetotalers saying they will get a drink on Saturday to show solidarity.
"Though I don't promote smoking or drinking for both sexes, we definitely don't need hooligans telling us what to do and what not. Best of luck!," reads one post from Iftehar Ahsan.
There are more heated discussion threads as well that range from the limits of independence to religion and politics, reflecting the struggle facing a country that has long battled to balance its deep-rooted traditions with rapid modernization.
Growing numbers of young and independent urban women have become an easy target for religious fundamentalists and aging politicians trying to force traditional mores on an increasingly liberal, Western outlook.
Not to be outdone, the Sri Ram Sena, which has cautioned shops and pubs in southern Karnataka state against marking Valentine's Day, has promised to gift pink saris to women and marry off canoodling couples to make them "respectable." More >
|10 Feb 2009 @ 04:07|
The active ingredient in marijuana cuts tumor growth in common lung cancer in half and significantly reduces the ability of the cancer to spread, say researchers at Harvard University who tested the chemical in both lab and mouse studies.
They say this is the first set of experiments to show that the compound, Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), inhibits EGF-induced growth and migration in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expressing non-small cell lung cancer cell lines. Lung cancers that over-express EGFR are usually highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy.
THC that targets cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 is similar in function to endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids that are naturally produced in the body and activate these receptors. The researchers suggest that THC or other designer agents that activate these receptors might be used in a targeted fashion to treat lung cancer.
"The beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer," said Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine.
Acting through cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, endocannabinoids (as well as THC) are thought to play a role in variety of biological functions, including pain and anxiety control, and inflammation. Although a medical derivative of THC, known as Marinol, has been approved for use as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients, and a small number of U.S. states allow use of medical marijuana to treat the same side effect, few studies have shown that THC might have anti-tumor activity, Preet says. The only clinical trial testing THC as a treatment against cancer growth was a recently completed British pilot study in human glioblastoma.
In the present study, the researchers first demonstrated that two different lung cancer cell lines as well as patient lung tumor samples express CB1 and CB2, and that non-toxic doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cell lines. "When the cells are pretreated with THC, they have less EGFR stimulated invasion as measured by various in-vitro assays," Preet said.
Then, for three weeks, researchers injected standard doses of THC into mice that had been implanted with human lung cancer cells, and found that tumors were reduced in size and weight by about 50 percent in treated animals compared to a control group. There was also about a 60 percent reduction in cancer lesions on the lungs in these mice as well as a significant reduction in protein markers associated with cancer progression, Preet says.
Although the researchers do not know why THC inhibits tumor growth, they say the substance could be activating molecules that arrest the cell cycle. They speculate that THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.
Preet says much work is needed to clarify the pathway by which THC functions, and cautions that some animal studies have shown that THC can stimulate some cancers. "THC offers some promise, but we have a long way to go before we know what its potential is," she said.
|30 Nov 2008 @ 04:25|
WASHINGTON — The Labor Department is racing to complete a new rule, strenuously opposed by President-elect Barack Obama, that would make it much harder for the government to regulate toxic substances and hazardous chemicals to which workers are exposed on the job.
The rule, which has strong support from business groups, says that in assessing the risk from a particular substance, federal agencies should gather and analyze “industry-by-industry evidence” of employees’ exposure to it during their working lives. The proposal would, in many cases, add a step to the lengthy process of developing standards to protect workers’ health.
Public health officials and labor unions said the rule would delay needed protections for workers, resulting in additional deaths and illnesses.
With the economy tumbling and American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush has promised to cooperate with Mr. Obama to make the transition “as smooth as possible.” But that has not stopped his administration from trying, in its final days, to cement in place a diverse array of new regulations.
The Labor Department proposal is one of about 20 highly contentious rules the Bush administration is planning to issue in its final weeks. The rules deal with issues as diverse as abortion, auto safety and the environment. One rule would make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas. Another would reduce the role of federal wildlife scientists in deciding whether dams, highways and other projects pose a threat to endangered species.
Mr. Obama and his advisers have already signaled their wariness of last-minute efforts by the Bush administration to embed its policies into the Code of Federal Regulations, a collection of rules having the force of law. The advisers have also said that Mr. Obama plans to look at a number of executive orders issued by Mr. Bush.
A new president can unilaterally reverse executive orders issued by his predecessors, as Mr. Bush and President Bill Clinton did in selected cases. But it is much more difficult for a new president to revoke or alter final regulations put in place by a predecessor. A new administration must solicit public comment and supply “a reasoned analysis” for such changes, as if it were issuing a new rule, the Supreme Court has said.
As a senator and a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama sharply criticized the regulation of workplace hazards by the Bush administration.
In September, Mr. Obama and four other senators introduced a bill that would prohibit the Labor Department from issuing the rule it is now rushing to complete. He also signed a letter urging the department to scrap the proposal, saying it would “create serious obstacles to protecting workers from health hazards on the job.”
Administration officials said such concerns were based on a misunderstanding of the proposal.
“This proposal does not affect the substance or methodology of risk assessments, and it does not weaken any health standard,” said Leon R. Sequeira, the assistant secretary of labor for policy. The proposal, Mr. Sequeira said, would allow the department to “cast a wide net for the best available data before proposing a health standard.”
The Labor Department regulates occupational health hazards posed by a wide variety of substances like asbestos, benzene, cotton dust, formaldehyde, lead, vinyl chloride and blood-borne pathogens, including the virus that causes AIDS.
The department is constantly considering whether to take steps to protect workers against hazardous substances. Currently, it is assessing substances like silica, beryllium and diacetyl, a chemical that adds the buttery flavor to some types of microwave popcorn.
The proposal applies to two agencies in the Labor Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Under the proposal, they would have to publish “advance notice of proposed rule-making,” soliciting public comment on studies, scientific information and data to be used in drafting a new rule. In some cases, OSHA has done that, but it is not required to do so.
The Bush administration and business groups said the rule would codify “best practices,” ensuring that health standards were based on the best available data and scientific information.
Randel K. Johnson, a vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said his group “unequivocally supports” the proposal because it would give the public a better opportunity to comment on the science and data used by the government.
After a regulation is drafted and formally proposed, Mr. Johnson said, it is “all but impossible” to get OSHA to make significant changes.
“Risk assessment drives the entire process of regulation,” he said, and “courts almost always defer” to the agency’s assessments.
But critics say the additional step does nothing to protect workers.
“This rule is being pushed through by an administration that, for the last seven and a half years, has failed to set any new OSHA health rules to protect workers, except for one issued pursuant to a court order,” said Margaret M. Seminario, director of occupational safety and health for the A.F.L.-C.I.O.
Now, Ms. Seminario said, “the administration is rushing to lock in place requirements that would make it more difficult for the next administration to protect workers.”
She said the proposal could add two years to a rule-making process that often took eight years or more.
Representative George Miller, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, said the proposal would “weaken future workplace safety regulations and slow their adoption.”
The proposal says that risk assessments should include industry-by-industry data on exposure to workplace substances. Administration officials acknowledged that such data did not always exist.
In their letter, Mr. Obama and other lawmakers said the Labor Department, instead of tinkering with risk-assessment procedures, should issue standards to protect workers against known hazards like silica and beryllium. The government has been working on a silica standard since 1997 and has listed it as a priority since 2002.
The timing of the proposal appears to violate a memorandum issued in early May by Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff.
“Except in extraordinary circumstances,” Mr. Bolten wrote, “regulations to be finalized in this administration should be proposed no later than June 1, 2008, and final regulations should be issued no later than Nov. 1, 2008.”
The Labor Department has not cited any extraordinary circumstances for its proposal, which was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 29. Administration officials confirmed last week that the proposal was still on their regulatory agenda.
The Labor Department said the proposal affected “only internal agency procedures” for developing health standards. It cited one source of authority for the proposal: a general “housekeeping statute” that allows the head of a department to prescribe rules for the performance of its business.
The statute is derived from a law passed in 1789 to help George Washington get the government up and running.
The Labor Department rule is among many that federal agencies are poised to issue before Mr. Bush turns over the White House to Mr. Obama.
One rule would allow coal companies to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. Another, issued last week by the Health and Human Services Department, gives states sweeping authority to charge higher co-payments for doctor’s visits, hospital care and prescription drugs provided to low-income people under Medicaid. The department is working on another rule to protect health care workers who refuse to perform abortions or other procedures on religious or moral grounds.
|29 Nov 2008 @ 18:00|
POSTED: 05:43 PM ET, 11/28/2008 by Derek Kravitz
TAGS: Internet, federal courts, fraud
In what legal experts are calling the country's first cyber-bullying verdict, a Missouri mother has been convicted of impersonating a teenage boy online in a hoax that led to a young girl's suicide.
Lori Drew was convicted of three misdemeanors for violating MySpace's "terms of service," which requires users to submit "truthful and accurate" registration information.The impact of the case in a Los Angeles federal court is significant, experts say, in that it expands the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was passed in 1986 as a tool against hackers, to include social networking Web sites.
The case has drawn worldwide attention and criticism from online experts, including the Center for Democracy and Technology, which accused the government of misusing the law.
The case was tried by the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas P. O'Brien, after Missouri officials determined that Drew had broken no state laws. MySpace is based in Los Angeles. O'Brien said the verdict yesterday sent an "overwhelming message" to Internet users.
Drew, 49, of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., posed as a teenage boy, "Josh Evans," using a MySpace account to send romantic, then disturbing, messages to one of her daughter's classmates, 13-year-old Megan Meier. Meier thought she was messaging with a new, good-looking boy in town. As the New Yorker magazine said in a January article about the case: "Megan and her peers carried on an online social life that was more mercurial, and perhaps more crucial to their sense of status and acceptance, than the one they inhabited in the flesh."
Meier, who suffered from depression, killed herself in October 2006 soon after reading a message from Drew's account that said: "The world would be a better place without you."
Drew faces a sentence of up to three years in prison and $300,000 in fines. Meier's mother, Tina Meier, told Wired that the verdict was a "stepping stone," and that she would continue to lobby for Drew to face jail time.
New York attorney Nick Akerman told The New York Times that the ruling was "simply another important step in the expanded use of this statute to protect the public from computer crime."
But former federal prosecutor Matthew L. Levine, who is now a defense lawyer in New York, told The Associated Press that O'Brien's legal theory was "very aggressive." "Unfortunately, there's not a law that covers every bad thing in the world. It's a bad idea to use laws that have very different purpose," he said.
Online safety experts told The Los Angeles Times that the verdict now put the onus on social networking sites to police their users' activities.
"I think the industry was hoping there would be a strong verdict blaming one user for abusing another because that way it's not their fault," Linda Criddle, a safety expert, told the newspaper. "These companies claim to have good standards and then do nothing to enforce them. They let people breach their terms and conditions and do nothing about it."
Andrew M. Grossman, senior legal policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, said the ruling could have a broad impact for Web site administrators.
"If this verdict stands, it means that every site on the Internet gets to define the criminal law," Grossman told The Times. "That's a radical change. What used to be small-stakes contracts become high-stakes criminal prohibitions."
And Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School, said that it could have a chilling impact given that the "vast majority of Internet users do not read Web site terms of service carefully or at all."
By Derek Kravitz | November 28, 2008; 5:43 PM ET