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Mustard Gas Feared Buried Under Community July 18, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 12:24 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Army Corps of Engineer workers will inspect 2,100 acres of property in a community over fears mustard gas and toxic chemicals are buried under homes.


Some Orlando homeowners at an Englewood Park development in Azalea Park and surrounding areas are believed to be living on land formally used by the Air Force as a World War II-era gas and decontamination testing range.


Recently found photographs of the former Orlando Range and Chemical Yard depict bombings and bomb craters scarring the ground, an official said.

Homeowners fear gas could be buried near or underneath their homes.


“That is worrisome, any time you hear about chemicals,” homeowner Richard Bosen said.


The latest concerns are over a different stretch of property than where crews recently found live bombs and munitions buried near homes and Odyssey Middle School.


The new area spans 16 football fields near Goldenrod Road and Curry Ford Road. It is located about five miles north of Odyssey Middle School and former home of the Pinecastle Jeep Range — a World War II bombing facility.


The area was used in the 1940s to train soldiers and pilots for combat, the Orlando Sentinel reported.


Information about the mustard gas and chemicals has surprised homeowners.


“We found out about this a month or so ago after we bought the house,” resident Jason Talbert said. “So we closed on the house and the next thing we know, we’re sitting in the zone here and it’s scary.”


Recently, a Local 6 investigation uncovered documents that revealed the area was once a testing ground for military soldiers.


“Nobody ever said anything to us, the developers or the people building the homes,” Bosen said. “You got to worry about it when you are not informed.”


About 150 residents attended a community meeting Thursday night at the Engelwood Neighborhood Center concerning the fears.


The U.S. Army Corps plans to start inspecting the area in January, Local 6 reported.


7 Minute Pizza Panini

Filed under: Recipes — gervmaine @ 12:23 pm
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Pizza Panini Kid-Friendly Recipe
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 3 to 4 minutes
        Yield: 4 servings

* 4 small Italian rolls or 1 loaf French bread cut into four 3-inch pieces
* 1/2 cup bottled pizza sauce
* 1 cup shredded mozzarella or a blend (such as Kraft 5-Cheese Italian)
* 1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, or 16 slices pepperoni
* 4 tsp grated parmesan cheese

1. Preheat indoor grill or grill pan. Split rolls in half. Spoon 2 tablespoons pizza sauce on half of each roll. Top each with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/4 cup broccoli or 4 slices pepperoni, and 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese. Top with remaining bread.

2. Place sandwiches on grill, cover, and cook them for 4 minutes, until cheese is melted. Cool slightly and slice on diagonal. Serve with sliced yellow or red peppers.

You can also cook panini on a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Place a smaller skillet on top of sandwich to flatten slightly. Cook 2 minutes, carefully flip, flatten, and cook 2 more minutes.

Per serving (with broccoli): 349 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated), 928 mg sodium, 11 mg cholesterol.


Salma Hayek’s Engagement Called Off

Filed under: Celebrity Breakups — gervmaine @ 12:21 pm

Salma Hayek and her French billionaire fiancé, Francois-Henri Pinault, have called off their 16-month engagement, Hayek’s rep tells USA Today.

The couple, who welcomed their first daughter, Valentina Paloma, last September, met in Venice in May 2006 and announced their engagement in March of 2007.

“We are sad to announce the engagement of Salma Hayek and Francois-Henri Pinault has been canceled,” Hayek’s rep said in a statement. “There will be no further comment.”


It’s Over: Britney & Kevin Reach a Custody Settlement

Filed under: Celebrity Breakups,Celebrity Feuds,Celebrity Kids — gervmaine @ 12:20 pm

Britney Spears and her ex Kevin Federline have reached a custody settlement in their epic court battle over their two sons.

According to the agreement, which still needs to be signed off on by the court, Federline retains sole custody of the couple’s two sons, Preston, 2 1/2, and Jayden, 1 1/2. Spears – who’s currently allowed two visits and one overnight per week – will keep her visitation rights.

“The case has been settled,” Federline’s attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan tells PEOPLE. “This is the end of a two-year journey.”

Both parties are due in court Friday.

The legal saga, which began with shared 50-50 custody in July 2007, culminated in the most dramatic of public downfalls: Spears – the pop powerhouse worth an estimated $100 million – was twice forcibly hospitalized early this year for mental health issues. (Her father Jamie stepped in to take legal control of her affairs.)

However, a judge can always modify custody settlements – and a source close to Spears tells PEOPLE the singer will likely get increased visitation as time goes on.

“Until the kids turn 18, we can expect in years to come that Britney and Kevin will be back in court,” says L.A. family lawyer Lynn Soodik, who is not involved with the case. “Britney will have a better chance of winning more custody once she regains her health. This is just the end of Round One.”

E! was first to report the couple’s settlement.


Houston Astrodome Hit With Code Violations

Filed under: Sports Nuts — gervmaine @ 12:19 pm

HOUSTON — Action has been taken against a Houston landmark and people have been told to stay away for their own safety, KPRC Local 2 Investigates reported Thursday.


Only maintenance workers and security guards are allowed to enter the Astrodome after what was once considered the eighth wonder of the world was hit with a laundry list of code violations.


The City of Houston’s Fire Marshal’s Office leveled several citations against the 43-year-old structure.

Local 2 Investigates obtained copies of those citations, which show the Astrodome’s fire suppression system is shot.


Joe Leggio with the fire marshal’s office told Local 2 Investigates that the system does not have enough pressure to work the sprinkler system or provide enough water to allow firefighters to hook up their hoses.


Other citations include an inoperable fire alarm system, faulty emergency lights and several electrical problems, including a non-working generator.


The problems for the Astrodome began in January when the city of Houston determined the building needed a full certificate of occupancy. These certificates are required before a building can legally be inhabited or used for business.


Leggio said major repairs and renovations would have to be made to the Astrodome before a certificate would be issued. Until now, the Astrodome has operated with only a partial certificate of occupancy.


Harris County owns the Astrodome but the building is managed by SMG, which also manages all the buildings in Reliant Park. Officials with SMG told Local 2 Investigates repairs were already being made when the new fire code citations were issued on Wednesday.


Leggio said the city determined the Astrodome needed a full certificate because smaller events and functions, such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s Hide Out, were still being hosted inside the building. There are also 36 employees who office inside the Astrodome. These employees work for Aramark and SMG’s Human Resources Offices, SCS Security and Reliant Park’s parking operation.


Leggio said he has told SMG and the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation that events and functions can no longer be held in the Astrodome until the problems are fixed. Leggio said employees can enter the building on a voluntary basis, but he doesn’t advise it.


The executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, Willie Loston, said the decision had already been made to voluntarily move all employees out of the Astrodome and into temporary offices.


Loston argued that repairing and renovating the entire Astrodome is unnecessary. Loston said only a portion of the Astrodome is used and will never again be used as it was in the days when the Houston Oilers and Astros called the Astrodome home.


Loston cited the example of the inoperable fire alarm system. Loston said the system is only installed in the area of the Astrodome that was once the offices for Astros owner Drayton McLane and offices for Astrodome USA. Loston said the rest of the Astrodome has never had a fire alarm system.


Loston said SMG and he have had a series of meetings with the city of Houston, trying to determine if the Astrodome is “grandfathered.” Loston said since the Astrodome was built in 1965, it may not be subject to all current city of Houston building and fire codes. Loston said if this is the case, then the number of required repairs and renovations can be trimmed down.


Loston said if the city of Houston determines the entire Astrodome must meet current code requirements, then it will cost $30 million to repair and bring up to code. Loston admitted he is frustrated that he has not gotten a final ruling from the city of Houston on this point.


He also said there is no record that the Astrodome has ever been required to meet the codes the city of Houston is now requiring it have before a full certificate of occupancy can be issued.


Loston said because of this unknown, he had to inform officials with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that the Astrodome may not be available next year for some of its functions.


Loston said he is keeping Harris County Commissioners abreast of these developments. Commissioners will have to approve any expenses for repairs and renovation.


Local 2 Investigates also received a statement from County Judge Ed Emmett.


“This does not come as a big surprise,” he said. “I have always been concerned about people being in that building.”


Army Will Shoot Live Pigs for Medical Training

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 12:18 pm
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HONOLULU (AP) — The Army says it’s critical to saving the lives of wounded soldiers. Animal-rights activists call the training cruel and outdated.

Despite opposition by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Army is moving forward with its plan to shoot live pigs and treat their gunshot wounds in a medical trauma exercise Friday at Schofield Barracks for soldiers headed to Iraq.

Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said the training is being conducted under a U.S. Department of Agriculture license and the careful supervision of veterinarians and a military Animal Care and Use Committee.

“It’s to teach Army personnel how to manage critically injured patients within the first few hours of their injury,” Cheng said.

The soldiers are learning emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield when there are no medics, doctors or facility nearby, he said.

PETA, however, said there are more advanced and humane options available, including high-tech human simulators. In a letter, PETA urged the Army to end all use of animals, “as the overwhelming majority of North American medical schools have already done.”

“Shooting and maiming pigs is outdated as Civil War rifles,” said Kathy Guillermo, director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based group demanded the exercise be halted after it was notified by a “distraught” soldier from the unit, who disclosed a plan to shoot the animals with M4 carbines and M16 rifles.

“There’s absolutely no reason why they have to shoot live pigs,” PETA spokeswoman Holly Beal said.

The bloody exercise, she said, is difficult for soldiers because they sometimes associate the animals with their own pet dogs.

Cheng said the exercise is conducted in a controlled environment with the pigs anesthetized the entire time. He had “no doubt whatsoever” in the effectiveness of the instruction, which he called the best option available at the base.

“Those alternative methods just can’t replicate what the troops are going to face when we use live-tissue training,” he said. “What we’re doing is unique to what the soldiers are going to actually experience.”

Cheng didn’t have details about the number of pigs, how they were acquired or the weapons involved in the training.

The soldiers being trained are with the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, which is deploying to Iraq this year.

“We understand (PETA’s) concerns and point of view. At the same, the Army is committed to providing the soldiers with the best training possible,” Cheng said.

Disappointed at the Army’s decision, PETA on Thursday instructed its 2 million members to inundate the Army with calls and e-mails.

“We’re hoping at the 11th hour here that we can have this stopped. We have to hang on to hope,” Beal said.

PETA believes the U.S. military has conducted similar training at other bases using pigs and goats.


Freak Accident on Hannah Montana Set June 4, 2008

Filed under: Movie News — gervmaine @ 2:12 pm
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There was a scare on the Tennessee set of Hannah Montana: The Movie Tuesday when high winds blew a piece of production equipment onto a ferris wheel full of extras, injuring several of them.

The film’s young star, Miley Cyrus, 15, had just finished shooting a scene next to the ferris wheel when the accident occurred, according to, which first reported the incident.

“During a break in the filming of Hannah Montana: The Movie, a minor accident occurred involving a piece of production equipment,” Disney said in a statement confirming the accident. “Fortunately, there were only a few minor injuries. Medical personnel have treated the extras and crew involved. None of the cast was on the set. Filming has resumed.”

Neither Cyrus nor her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, were on the set when the “giant” piece of lighting equipment fell onto the ferris wheel, according to reports.

An extra, Brenda Blackford, described the scene to Nashville station WKRN-TV: “When the wind caught it, all the cables were loose. It started [flying]. I was watching to see which corner of it was gonna hit the Ferris wheel, because it was unavoidable.”