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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.


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 Animal-rights activists call the training cruel and outdated.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.


CSI Team Heads to Manson Ranch To Dig May 20, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 3:20 pm
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RIDGECREST, California (AP) — Decades after law enforcement raided the ranch where Charles Manson hid following a 1969 killing spree, detectives and scientists are returning to hunt for undiscovered graves.

group of about 20 people, including scientists and law enforcement personnel, headed to the secluded ranch within Death Valley National Park early in the morning and started digging.

The team includes specialists in detecting disturbed soils and chemical markers that indicate likely grave sites.

“It’s going to be back-breaking manual labor,” said Carma Roper, a spokeswoman for the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.

The expedition to the secluded ranch in the rugged Panamint Mountain range is expected to last through Thursday. Temperatures in the park are forecast to surpass 100 degrees.

For years, rumors have swirled about other possible Manson victims — hitchhikers who visited the ranch and were not seen again, and runaways who drifted into the camp, then fell out of favor.

The decision to further investigate the site where Manson and his followers hid following the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others came after initial tests in February found at least two sites that could be graves.

A group including two national lab researchers, a police investigator with a cadaver-sniffing dog, and an anthropologist with a magnetic resonance reader determined there was enough evidence to contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.

After further soil sampling with inconsistent results, Sheriff Bill Lutze agreed to the exploratory excavation. The National Park Service has closed the ranch to the public for the duration of the dig.

The searchers will use technology that wasn’t available when Manson and his followers were arrested nearly 40 years ago, such as radar, magnetometers and portable gas-chromatograph and mass spectrometers that can detect chemical markers characteristic of bodies in decomposition.

They will also dig with shovels, Lutze said.

Manson is serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison.


Explosion at San Diego Hilton Injures 14

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 8:53 am

SAN DIEGO — A natural-gas leak caused an explosion that blew out windows and walls of a partially built high-rise hotel near Petco Park Monday, injuring 14 workers, three of them critically, authorities reported.


People throughout the Marina area and as far away as Imperial Beach reported hearing a loud blast from the direction of the San Diego Convention Center on West Harbor Drive shortly after 2 p.m., according to police. Some people described ground movement similar to an earthquake.


The blast was centered in a fifth-floor utility room at the 32-story Hilton hotel under construction near Eighth Avenue, across the street from the stadium. Four floors of the structure sustained extensive damage.

Some injured workers were able to get out of the damaged building by themselves, while others had to be helped by emergency crews, said Maurice Luque, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Medics took them to hospitals for treatment of burns, cuts, scrapes, bumps and bruises.


A firefighter was also treated for a cut finger he suffered during the rescue operation.


The injured were taken to two hospitals. At UCSD Medical Center, officials said 6 people were treated and released. Three with burns remain in critical condition. One person was listed in good condition and will remain at the hospital overnight, a spokeswoman said.


At Scripps Mercy Hospital, a spokeswoman said 3 people were treated and released while one remains in the hospital with orthopedic injuries.


A San Diego Police Department bomb squad and search-dog teams were on scene shortly after the explosion, preparing to enter and begin the process of determining the cause.


Personnel with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also went to the site to gather evidence.


Police blocked off a stretch of West Harbor Drive for several hours as a precaution.


Investigators ultimately determined that leaking gas caused the explosion when it came into contact with an ignition source.


“We don’t know exactly what (ignited it),” Luque said. “It could have been electrical; it could have been the boilers turning on.”


A witness named R.T. who was driving by the scene in his pickup truck said the concussion of the blast rocked his vehicle. He told 10News reporter Juliette Vara the blast created a big dust cloud and sent debris flying into the air.


“It was like a big dust storm and it completely covered the hotel for a time,” R.T. said.


He said at first he wondered if it was another pipe-bombing like the recent blast at the federal courts building downtown.


Visiting Texas tourist, Lauren Parker, said she was having lunch at a nearby restaurant.


“We heard the blast and everyone ran outside. Windows were broken out in buildings all around us. There was white smoke all around it so that you couldn’t see the hotel building,” Parker said.


“The explosion was felt throughout downtown San Diego,” Mayor Sanders said.


An initial inspection determined that the explosion, which also caused “superficial” exterior damage to the next-door convention center, did not affect the unfinished hotel’s structural stability, the mayor said.


In an interview with 10News, a structural engineer says it appears there is no serious damage to the main structural support columns holding up the 32-story building.


Jim Amundson said “the columns look intact,” and he said live video from the scene shows no sign of serious damage to the columns, but x-ray testing will be needed to be sure.


It was unclear if the explosion will delay the hotel’s scheduled December opening date.


Killer Claims He is ‘Harmless’ On MySpace Page May 19, 2008

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 6:07 pm
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DENVER — MySpace has removed the Web page of a convicted killer who had written on the site that he is “pretty harmless” and asks for “someone to write to.” (See cached version.)


Mario Owens, 23, an inmate of the Colorado Department of Corrections for a 2004 murder, was convicted last week of first-degree murder and conspiracy in connection with the 2005 slayings of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe.


Marshall-Fields was scheduled to testify against Owens in a murder trial. But just days before his courtroom appearance Marshall-Fields and Wolfe were ambushed and shot numerous times in their car as they was crossing an intersection in broad daylight.

Arapahoe County prosecutors are asking Owens receive the death penalty for the double-murder. The jury began the sentencing phase Monday morning. It is expected to last two weeks.


Owens’ MySpace page, titled “Sir Mario The Great,” is maintained by his cousin, because Colorado prison inmates are not allowed to access to the Internet.


In the “About Me” section of his page, Owens writes, “I was recently caught up in some b/s, so ya boy on lockdown in Canon City, Colorado. I don’t get to the computer much, so I’ll have my cousin update me on this myspace joint when I’m not able to get to it. I’m really just here to find new friends. I have a lot of time on my hands, as you can tell, so I just want someone to write to back and forth. Ya know what I mean? It really doesn’t matter what it’s about, I just need something to take time off from here sometimes. You could think of it as being Pen Pals and what not. I’m pretty harmless.”


He doesn’t mention he is serving a life sentence for murder or that he was recently found guilty of killing two other people and could get the death penalty.


He writes about his desire to find female pen pals and lists the address of the Canon City prison.


“I moved to Colorado not too long ago, so that’s where you’ll find me right now. I’m a pretty cool and laid back type of guy. I enjoy a a lil laugh from time to time. I like to do the normal things like everybody else, such as listening to music, watching movies, shooting ball, and just hanging out with my peoples,” he wrote. “Hopefully you all will just give me a chance. I’m not really asking for much. I’m just asking for a little letter from time to time. You could even feel free to send me a picture or something here and there also.”


His profile was posted in December and removed from MySpace by Monday afternoon. Before it was taken down, he had eight friends, including two women. His page showed photos of his favorite rap albums and several personal photos.


Ironically, two of the songs in his playlist are Lil Wayne’s song “Snitch” and “Shooter.” Prosecutors argued during trial that Owens’ motto was “You snitch, you die.”


Even without Marshall-Fields’s testimony, Owens was found guilty of killing Gregory Vann in an Aurora park during a Fourth of July party in 2004.


Couple Killed In Accident After Daughter’s Graduation

Filed under: Miscellaneous News — gervmaine @ 6:05 pm
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LITITZ, Pa. — A Lancaster County couple was killed in a car accident while on their way home from their daughter’s college graduation on Sunday.


Jay and Jean Good, of Lititz, died when their car collided with a truck on Route 222 near Reading. The couple’s daughter, Jacy, who had just graduated hours earlier from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, was critically injured in the crash.


The Good’s son, Jared, was in another car following and witnessed the crash.

Jean good taught 8th-grad language arts at Ephrata Middle School. Crisis team members were called in to talk with student on Monday, who learned of their teacher’s death that morning.


“It’s a tremendous loss. Jean was one of our A-flight teachers here, you know, some of the best of the best. She had a great compassion for kids, a great professionalism to education. She loved to teach,” said Ephrata Middle School Principal Kevin Phillgrove.


The couple’s church plans to hold a prayer service Tuesday night for 21-year-old Jacy Good, who is now in critical condition at Reading Hospital.


Soldiers Shave Heads to Support Cancer Kids

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — Under a huge tent just outside the medical unit at Camp Liberty, shielded from the blazing sun, soldiers watch and cheer as two men at a time get their heads shaved. Clumps of hair fall to the hot sand below.But they’re not just fighting the Iraqi heat. They’re showing solidarity with sick kids they don’t even know.

It started with a dare on St. Patrick’s Day 2000, when two guys shaved their heads to support children with cancer. Thus was born the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. In eight years, the awareness and fundraising organization says, events have taken place in 18 countries and the United States, “raising over $34 million and shaving more than 46,000 heads.”

Maj. Stephen Roberts knows a lot about bald heads. He’s a pediatric oncologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. And he’s seen a lot of his young patients lose their hair to chemotherapy.

The kids he guides through treatment don’t seem fazed by it. “They’re just amazing, inspiring kids,” Roberts said. “They’re going through something more difficult than most of us can imagine and they do it with a level of grace and strength that I don’t think I could match.”

This year, Roberts planned to participate back home in Washington, but he deployed to Iraq. So he organized the shearing on the base.

Many of the the soldiers who stepped up on this hot spring day have been touched by cancer in their families. Sgt. Sean Bonney, who’s sporting a thick growth of gray hair soon to be shaved off, has a cousin who had childhood cancer and survived. He says he’ll be thinking of her. “They’re in the fight of their lives,” he said. “I just want to encourage them to hang in there and fight on.”

Spc. Krystyne Wilson, a medic, says her uncle died of leukemia before she was born. “I’ll never get to know my uncle,” she says, “and maybe if there were things like this going on back in those times then he could be able to be here today.”

Back in the Washington suburbs, the other half of Roberts’ fundraiser is taking place in an Irish bar. Doctors, parents, friends, supporters — and several little patients — gather as more volunteers go under the razor.

Justyn Exman, 5, is one of those doing the honors — guided by a professional barber. He looks like he’s having fun, as he plows through the man’s hair like a suburban father mowing the grass.

Nearby at a table, 6-year-old Briarra Manis is drawing a picture with crayons. Last year she went through treatment and her hair is growing back in an adorable pixie style. As she watches the adults on stage she says, “They act funny.” But, she adds, “I think they want to help me.”

One young girl with a long ponytail sits in the chair, ready to face the scissors. She’s donating it to an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.

Back in Iraq, the female soldiers can’t participate; Army regulations don’t allow shaved heads for women. But that doesn’t stop them from cheering the guys on — or making donations.

Roberts says research into childhood cancer has made an astounding difference. “Most of the diseases we treat used to be a death sentence,” he said. “In the 1950s, 80 percent of kids with cancer died. Today, 80 percent will be cured forever. In the early 1970s leukemia was 100 percent fatal; now 90 percent of kids are cured.”

Roberts is in the chair. The barber starts from the bottom and moves up. Big swaths of white scalp gleam in the desert sun. “I’ll save on the shampoo,” he says. But he’d better load up on the sunscreen.