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  • Surprise seeks instructors for special interest classes

    Do you have an idea for a special interest class and the skills to teach it?The City of Surprise is always looking for specialized instructors to teach special interest classes.Classes are offered to all age levels from preschool to adult and can be customized to specific age groups. Classes currently being offered include Soccer Skills, Tots in the Kitchen, Zumba, Yoga and more.If you have a class idea you believe would be popular with the public or are interested in becoming an instructor, email michelle.holm@surpriseaz.gov or call 623-222-2000.  

  • Guys in Blue deliver Labor Day gasoline

    Honda drivers will have a chance to get free gasoline during Labor Day weekend thanks to the Guys in Blue.Honda will provide random pumps of helpfulness throughout the Valley.Honda’s big, blue tanker will be in Avondale and Phoenix between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. today. Locations will be revealed today starting at 2:30 p.m. at Facebook.com/ValleyHondaDealers and on Twitter @ValleyHondaDLRS.The gasoline giveaway will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in Scottsdale Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday in Chandler and Gilbert.It’s their job to be Helpful. Lending a hand in the community and giving back to loyal drivers is just another way the Valley Honda Dealers are continuing their commitment to bringing Helpfulness to Arizona.The Guys in Blue are always looking for ways to lend a hand.

  • Doctors tackle fibromyalgia

    Renovare Wellness By Design in Peoria will host a fibromyalgia class at 6 p.m. Tuesday.Dr. Timothy Gerhart and Dr. John Duff will host the free session, titled “Fibromyalgia: Natural Solutions.”Participants will receive information about safe and effective natural approaches that show promise for pain relief and the return of high level energy, vitality and wellness.To register, call 623-776-0206 or go to renovarewellnessbydesignpro.com.Renovare Wellness By Design is located at 18969 N. 83rd Ave., Suite 1.

  • Eastbound Grand Avenue at 99th Avenue reopens after fatal crash

    A crash at rush hour today killed a woman, injured another and closed Grand Avenue at 99th Avenue in Sun City.Officer Mark Remsey of the Department of Public Safety said the accident occurred at 6:55 a.m. when a silver Hyundai traveling north on 99th Avenue collided with a red Jeep traveling east on Grand Avenue. Remsey said the driver of the Hyundai had a green light.Remsey said two witnesses reported the Jeep ran the red light and struck the Hyundai. The accident remained under investigation this morning.The woman in the Hyundai was in her 50’s and was pronounced dead while the driver of the Jeep, a woman in her 20’s, was in stable condition, officials said. Both were taken to a hospital.Airbags deployed in the silver Hyundai, and DPS is investigating if the drivers, whose names were not released, were wearing seatbelts, Remsey said.During the accident investigation, eastbound Grand Avenue traffic was diverted onto either northbound or southbound 99th Avenue, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

  • Glendale police seek suspect in pair of attacks on women

    GLENDALE, Ariz. – Police are investigating a pair of attacks on women by an unidentified man at a local apartment complex, and are seeking the public’s help making an arrest.The description of the suspect provided by both female victims is very similar, stated Officer Tracey Breeden, a department spokeswoman.“On Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, just before 1 a.m., a 20-year-old female left her apartment in the 4700 block of W. Sierra Vista Drive to walk a friend out to his vehicle. While walking back to her apartment, an unknown suspect grabbed her, pulling her down into the gravel landscaping. He attempted to sexually assault her, but she was able to fight him off and escape. She was able to immediately notify her friend and call police. The suspect fled on foot through the complex and was not located,” Breeden stated.Three days later, on Saturday, Aug, 23, a 23-year-old female arrived at her apartment parking lot just before 5:30 a.m., after getting off work. This was at same apartment complex where the previous incident occurred in the 4700 block of Sierra Vista Drive, Breeden said.“As the victim walked to her outside stairs, she was grabbed from behind and thrown on the gravel landscaping by an unknown male suspect. The suspect attempted to sexually assault her. The victim began to scream and two unknown males came out of their apartment and chased the suspect off, who fled through the complex on foot,”The suspect is described as an Hispanic or Indian male, 19 to 25 years old, 5’9” to 5’11” tall, 160 to 180 pounds, with short, black hair, possibly with short spikes on top.

  • Paul Tone holds on for 1-run victory

    Bob Lindsay ran down a line drive in right-center field to end the game and seal Paul Tone’s 13-12 win over Camino Eye Care during Sun City Grand Summer League softball at Del E. Webb Memorial Field in Surprise.The victory improved Paul Tone’s record to 9-3 and kept them alone atop the six-team standings with a one-game lead over Core Institute.Alan Dial had four hits with a homer while Buck Craig added three hits for Paul Tone, which overcame a 5-2 deficit.Glen Soles had three hits with an inside-the-park homer for Camino Eye Care, which left the game-tying run stranded at third base in the final inning.Jim Malde and Gene Prosser each had three hits with a double while Gene Fleck had three hits in the loss.Arizona Vein 10

  • Phoenix police sergeant is accused of shoplifting

    PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix police officer has resigned after being cited on suspicion of shoplifting. Police say Sgt. Mike Gurry was given a criminal citation and released Tuesday for allegedly stealing an undisclosed amount of merchandise from a hobby store in northeast Phoenix. They say Gurry later resigned from the police department. KPHO-TV says Gurry was a 29-year veteran and since he quit and wasn't fired, he's still eligible to collect his pension. He worked as a community action officer in Phoenix's Black Mountain Precinct.

  • Gun tourism grows in popularity in recent years

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The death of an Arizona firearms instructor by a 9-year-old girl who was firing a fully automatic Uzi displayed a tragic side of what has become a hot industry in the U.S.: gun tourism. With gun laws keeping high-powered weapons out of reach for most people — especially those outside the U.S. — indoor shooting ranges with high-powered weapons have become a popular attraction. Tourists from Japan flock to ranges in Waikiki, Hawaii, and the dozen or so that have cropped up in Las Vegas offer bullet-riddled bachelor parties and literal shotgun weddings, where newly married couples can fire submachine gun rounds and pose with Uzis and ammo belts. "People just want to experience things they can't experience elsewhere," said Genghis Cohen, owner of Machine Guns Vegas. "There's not an action movie in the past 30 years without a machine gun." The accidental shooting death of the firing-range instructor in Arizona set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle a submachine gun. Instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger. The recoil wrenched the Uzi upward, and Vacca was shot in the head. Prosecutors say they will not file charges in the case. The identities of the girl and her family have not been released. The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the state's workplace safety agency, is investigating the shooting-range death, said agency spokeswoman Rachel Brockway, who declined to provide specifics on the examination. The coroner in Las Vegas said Vacca suffered from a single gunshot to the head. Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy told The Associated Press that it will take several weeks for blood-toxicology test results to be complete, and authorities were still investigating the shooting. The coroner said that an official cause of death was pending. Attractions similar to the Last Stop range have been around since the 1980s in Las Vegas, although the city has experienced a boom of such businesses in the past few years. One dusty outdoor range in Las Vegas calls itself the Bullets and Burgers Adventure and touts its "Desert Storm atmosphere." Excitement over guns tends to spike when there's fear of tighter gun restrictions, said Dan Sessions, general manager of Discount Firearms and Ammo, which houses the Vegas Machine Gun Experience. There's also the prohibitive cost of owning an automatic weapon — an M5 might go for $25,000, while a chance to gun down zombie targets with an AR-15 and three other weapons costs less than $200. "It's an opportunity that people may not come across again in their lifetime," Sessions said. Tourists from Australia, Europe or Asia, where civilians are barred from many types of guns, long to indulge in the quintessentially American right to bear arms. "People have a fascination with guns," said Cohen, who is from New Zealand and estimates about 90 percent of his customers are tourists. "They see guns as a big part of American culture, and they want to experience American culture." The businesses cast a lighthearted spin on their shooting experiences, staging weddings in their ranges and selling souvenir T-shirts full of bullet holes. But behind the bravado, owners acknowledge they are one errant movement away from tragedy. Cohen's business, for example, is installing a tethering system that will prevent machine guns from riding upward after firing — the same motion that killed the gun instructor this week. "Guns are designed to cause damage, and if they're mishandled, they'll do exactly that," said Bob Irwin, owner of The Gun Store, the original Las Vegas machine-gun attraction. "They have to be respected." Sam Scarmardo, who operates the outdoor range in Arizona where the instructor was killed, said Wednesday that the parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules and were standing nearby, video-recording their daughter, when the accident happened. "I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that Charlie was killed in the incident," Scarmardo said. He said he doesn't know what went wrong, pointing out that Vacca was an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Jace Zack, chief deputy for the Mohave County Attorney's Office, said the instructor was probably the most criminally negligent person involved in the accident for having allowed the child to hold the gun without enough training. "The parents aren't culpable," Zack said. "They trusted the instructor to know what he was doing, and the girl could not possibly have comprehended the potential dangers involved." Still, the accident has raised questions about whether children that young should be handling such powerful weapons. "We have better safety standards for who gets to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park," said Gerry Hills, founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety, a group seeking to reduce gun violence. Referring to the girl's parents, Hills said: "I just don't see any reason in the world why you would allow a 9-year-old to put her hands on an Uzi." In 2008, an 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with an Uzi at a gun expo near Springfield, Massachusetts. Christopher Bizilj was firing at pumpkins when the gun kicked back. A former Massachusetts police chief whose company co-sponsored the gun show was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter. Dave Workman, senior editor at thegunmag.com and a spokesman for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said it can be safe to let children shoot an automatic weapon if a properly trained adult is helping them hold it. After viewing the video of the Arizona shooting, Workman said Vacca appeared to have tried to help the girl maintain control by placing his left hand under the weapon. But automatic weapons tend to recoil upward, he noted. "If it was the first time she'd ever handled a full-auto firearm, it's a big surprise when that gun continues to go off," said Workman, a firearms instructor for 30 years. "I've even seen adults stunned by it." Scarmardo said his policy of allowing children 8 and older to fire guns under adult supervision and the watchful eye of an instructor is standard practice in the industry. The range's policies are under review, he said.

  • Brothers re-create Arizona steam car ride

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Two brothers have completed a drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon in a vintage steam car. Chris and Nick Howell say their restored Toledo Steam Car reached the canyon's South Rim around sunset Wednesday, but not without a little help. Their vehicle had to be towed during some stretches because of rough roads and because they were falling behind schedule. They also had to deal with a flat tire and other mechanical issues. The Toledo is what Los Angeles photographer Oliver Lippincott used when he attempted the same 60-mile drive in 1902. The British siblings re-enacted the drive over two days with multiple stops. Chris Howell says the experience made for an emotional first visit to the Grand Canyon.

  • Trial starts for caregiver accused of killing 2

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Jurors are hearing testimony in the trial of a man charged with murder in the fatal stabbings of two other men who had hired him as their caregiver and whose bodies were found decomposing in their residence. John Parson, 51, and Robert E. Days, 71, hired Roosevelt Arthur Williams before Parson and Days died to work as their caregiver because both men had health problems. The victims were found stabbed to death and covered with blankets and tarps in a bedroom in their home in October 2010. "After the defendant committed this brutal crime, he put them in the bedroom, closed the door, turned the air conditioner down to freezing and periodically sprayed air freshener," Deputy Pima County Attorney Mark Diebolt told jurors on Wednesday during opening arguments in the first-degree murder trial of the 40-year-old defendant. The prosecutor also told jurors that Williams had been using the victims' debit cards for days after their 2010 deaths. The defense plans to present evidence Williams has low intellectual function, suffers from impulsivity, and has brain damage from neglect and abuse in childhood, the Arizona Daily Star (http://bit.ly/1mXW1ND ) reported. A judge ruled previously that Williams didn't meet the legal definition of "intellectually disabled" and remained eligible for the death penalty. Defense attorney Dawn Priestman told jurors there was no evidence that Williams killed the men. "Nobody is going to come here and testify that Roosevelt's fingerprints or DNA are on the knives," Priestman said. The victims' bodies were found by a man who was temporarily living in a van on the victims' property. Geoffrey Thurston testified that he and a friend went to the home to use the computer when they noticed a terrible stench inside. Upon checking the house further, "I saw a foot sticking out of a tarp," Thurston said. The knives used to kill the pair were found next to their bodies, authorities said.

  • UN: Ebola disease caseload could reach 20,000

    GENEVA (AP) — The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is accelerating and could grow six times larger to infect as many as 20,000 people, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The U.N. health agency unveiled a new road map for containing the virus, and scientists are fast-tracking efforts to find a treatment or vaccine. Ebola has menaced Africa for 40 years, but previously struck in remote villages and was contained fairly quickly. This time, it has spread to major cities in four countries, provoking unrest as whole neighborhoods and towns have been sealed to the outside. An experimental vaccine developed by the U.S. government and GlaxoSmithKline will be tested on humans starting next week, the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced Thursday. The NIH trial will use healthy adult volunteers in Maryland, and British experts will simultaneously test the same vaccine in healthy people in the U.K., Gambia and Mali. Preliminary results on the vaccine's safety — not its effectiveness — could be available in months. Scientists also announced that they have mapped the genetic code of this strain of Ebola to better understand how it kills. In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, researchers traced an explosion of cases in this outbreak to a single funeral in Guinea in May. They hope to use the genetic mapping to track mutations that could become more worrisome the longer the outbreak lasts, and make a difference in how doctors spot and fight the disease as vaccines are developed. The outbreak has now killed at least 1,552 people among 3,069 reported cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, and the real caseload in urban areas could be two to four times higher. Meanwhile, an entirely separate Ebola outbreak has killed 13 of 42 people sickened in a remote area of Congo, in Central Africa, the agency said. With about a 50 percent mortality rate among those known to be infected, the overall death toll could reach 10,000 in the worst-case scenario. "I think that's completely unacceptable," said the agency's emergency operations director, Dr. Bruce Aylward. The WHO's new plan would cost $489 million to support 750 international health workers and 12,000 national ones. It aims to: — stop Ebola transmission in affected countries within six to nine months — prevent the spread of any new infections within eight weeks of a case being identified anywhere in the world — and improve the public health responses to Ebola in any nation with major transportation hubs or borders shared with affected countries. With the world's support, medical workers hope to take "the heat out of this outbreak" within three months, Aylward said. The U.N. agency's announcement was immediately criticized by Doctors Without Borders, a medical charity running many of the treatment centers in West Africa. "The WHO road map is welcome, but it should not give a false sense of hope. A plan needs to be acted upon. Huge questions remain," the charity's operations director, Bruce de le Vingne, said in a statement. "States with the capacity to help have the responsibility to mobilize resources to the affected countries, rather than watching from the sidelines with a naive hope that the situation will improve." Containment is key, but it has to be done carefully, in ways that don't cause panic or hamper the response, the agency said. The WHO has supported the quarantine of sick people, and said cordoning off entire neighborhoods can be useful, as long as civil rights are respected. But it has called on airlines to resume flights to affected countries, since Ebola is unlikely to spread through air travel. Health checks at airports should provide sufficient protection while still enabling humanitarian workers to get in. "Right now there is a super risk of the response effort being choked off, being restricted, because we simply cannot get enough seats on enough airplanes to get people in and out, and rotating, to get goods and supplies in and out and rotating," Aylward said. Ebola and the measures used to control it are making it harder for some of the world's poorest people to feed themselves and seek medical care. Many thousands of people have been cut off from markets; food prices have soared and farmers are separated from their fields. People now fearing hospitals are going without treatment for other diseases, like malaria, which kills around 600,000 each year, 90 percent of them in Africa. The World Food Program says it needs $70 million immediately to help feed 1.3 million people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in the coming months because control measures have threatened food supplies. Nigerian authorities, meanwhile, confirmed their first fatality outside the commercial capital of Lagos, where a dying Liberian-American airline passenger infected others in late July. They said a man sickened after coming into contact with the passenger had evaded surveillance and infected a doctor in southern Nigeria, who later died.

  • Woman seriously injured in fall at Scottsdale mall

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a woman is in serious condition after a third-floor fall at an upscale Scottsdale shopping mall.Scottsdale police say it's unclear if the woman jumped or fell inside the Scottsdale Fashion Square Thursday night.They say she landed on some kind of object that caused serious injuries.The woman's name wasn't immediately released.Scottsdale Fire Department spokesman Clint Steeves says the injured woman was taken to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center.It's the second fall at Scottsdale Fashion Square this summer.

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  • New fall TV shows worthy of a first-night look

    New York • It’s a time-honored rite harking back to an era of black-and-white TVs and the trio of networks whose programs they delivered: the grand unveiling of new fall fare.As part of the ritual, this latest fall crop is an occasion for handicapping the good and the misfires. Granted, it’s a risky business to rate a new series’ prospects on the basis of its pilot episode, which is typically the only thing critics have to go on. But even if it doesn’t guarantee a great series will follow, a pilot must at least trigger interest at a level to get viewers to return the second week.Here are 10 new series that might catch your fancy:• “Red Band Society” (Fox; premieres Sept. 17). A group of teenagers meet as patients in the pediatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital. Sure, a show that gathers kids to frolic, flirt and even face death sounds like “Glee” without the jazz hands. But what could have been an overglossed rendering of life’s gravest moments instead comes with heart and a dose of authenticity that ground the good times.• “Gotham” (Fox; Sept. 22). In an industry where nothing is a sure thing, fall’s most-awaited show by the most-desirable demo would seem to be a sure thing. “Gotham” turns out to be not only an “origin series” about Batman but also a humdinger of a noir crime thriller. Rolling back the clock to when Bruce Wayne was a youngster and his alter ego was years from being conceived, the series lays the groundwork for the Batman myth while introducing not-yet-Commissioner James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) as a rookie cop.• “The Mysteries of Laura” (NBC; Sept. 24). Debra Messing stars as a brilliant, rules-breaking NYPD homicide detective and harried single mother whose estranged detective-husband becomes her boss (awkward!). Messing (“Will & Grace”) has an indisputable gift for comedy. Here she’s arresting as a brassy, disheveled cop in a series that clearly wants to match the light-comedy tone of the long-ago “Columbo.”

  • Theater Works highlights ‘Tales From The Arabian Nights’

    Theater Works at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts has announced the opening of its first YouthWorks production of the season.  “The Tales From The Arabian Nights” opens on Sept. 12 and runs through Sept. 28 (select dates and times).“The Tales From The Arabian Nights” is a humorous production that retells a selection of action-packed tales from “The Thousand and One Nights.”  More than a millennium ago, a sultan, bewitched by a magic sword, decrees that he will marry a new bride every evening and chop off her head the next morning. To save her neck, the clever Scheherazade begins telling her husband a tale each night that is never quite completed by the morning – thus postponing her execution. Scheherazade keeps up the stories for 1,001 nights, finally freeing her husband from the evil spell.“The Tales From The Arabian Nights” is directed by Chris Hamby, with musical direction by Jennifer Whiting and choreography by Paul Pedersen.Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is at 8355 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria. For information, call 623-815-7930 or visit www.theaterworks.org.

  • Hot rods, bike nights cruise into Westgate this fall

    Classic cars, hot rods and motorcycles will be roaring into Westgate Entertainment Distinct this fall with the return of Westgate Hot Rod Night and Bike Night.The two weekly events will host guests for family-friendly fun, live music and more.Hot Rod Night• Every Wednesday night Sept. 10 through Nov. 19.• Hosted at the WaterDance Plaza from 5 to 9 p.m.• More than 250 classic cars and close to 700 attendees.  

  • Burger King could take bite out of Canada’s identity

    Toronto (AP) • Few things unite Canadians the way Tim Hortons does. For half a century, they have warmed themselves on chilly mornings with the chain’s coffee and Timbits — or doughnut holes to Americans.So news this week that Burger King will buy Tim Hortons served as a bittersweet reminder of how beloved the homegrown chain is in Canada, where 75 percent of the all the coffee sold at fast food restaurants comes from “Timmy’s,” as it is affectionately known. Tim Hortons is found in just about every small town and large city across Canada, and hockey-mad Canadians often head to their local Timmy’s before or after their kids’ games.Tim Hortons, in a bid to quell any concerns that its distinctly Canadian brand could be watered down, went out of its way to assure that the red and brown coffee and doughnut shop won’t change, taking out big ads in newspapers and declaring “fellow Canadians can all rest assured that Tim Hortons will still be Tim Hortons following this transaction.”The chain’s aura in Canada comes from its namesake: hockey Hall of Famer Tim Horton, the co-founder who died at 44 in a 1974 car accident after playing in a game for the Buffalo Sabres.

  • Smart investors reach end of chessboard

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Albert BartlettYou’ve probably heard the story about the guy who invented the game of chess.It goes like this: An inventor brought his chessboard to the emperor of China, who was so impressed he offered to grant the man one wish. The inventor had a simple wish: He requested one grain of rice for the first square on the board, two grains for the second square, four for the third, eight for the fourth, and so on. Sounding like a modest proposal, the emperor agreed. But filling the chess board’s last 10 squares would have required 35 quintillion grains of rice — enough to bury the entire planet.Unamused, the emperor had the inventor beheaded.While I doubt the story is true, its message is important to understanding the power of compound interest: When things grow exponentially, gains look tiny at first, modest in the middle and then — very suddenly — they shoot utterly off the charts.The key to making compound interest work is sticking around long enough to make it to the end of the chessboard. That’s where the massive gains are. It’s why, of Warren Buffett’s $63 billion net worth, $62.7 billion was added after his 50th birthday, and $60 billion came after his 60th.

  • Furniture Warehouse attracts thousands on opening day

    It was Barney Becklund’s first time inside an American Furniture Warehouse store, and the Sun City resident said it was “spectacular.”“We like what we see; the prices are good. In fact, prices on everything are fantastic.”The American Furniture Warehouse, near the Loop 101 at 99th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale, opened for business Saturday, and approximately 4,500 shoppers showed up.El Mirage Councilman Roy Delgado said his wife Suzie “had a gleam in her eye, her pulse was kind of pounding and she had perspiration beads all around her forehead.” Suzie conceded: “It was kind of like that.”She ended up purchasing a leather loveseat and leather motorized recliners, living room tables and lamps.“I think the prices are good,” she said, “and, there’s no pressure from the sales people. A lot to choose from in every department, and I thought it was a very nice experience.”

Featured columns

  • OPINION: Frantic Dems plead for more money

    I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections. First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Republicans will impeach President Obama if they win control of the House and Senate.Though much ridiculed, the “Impeachment Red Alert” effort was a big winner, pulling in $2.1 million in small donations in a single weekend.Despite that success, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s mood seemed to blacken in subsequent days as she asked for more and more money. The subject line of Pelosi’s next appeal was “Kiss all hope goodbye.” Her message was that all will be lost for the remainder of Obama’s term if Republican House Speaker John Boehner remains in power.Then came a missive with the subject line “Byron, I’m pleading,” in which Pelosi pronounced herself “disgusted” by the prospect of Republicans “dragging the president’s good name through the mud.”Later came “I’m pleading (again)” and “Bad news to share” and “Please, Byron.” More than a little desperation had crept into Pelosi’s tone. Each message noted that I hadn’t sent any money, and the minority leader’s disappointment seemed to deepen by the day.Vice President Joe Biden got in the game with a few emails, although he didn’t grovel like Pelosi. Finally, Obama himself began emailing. With everything the president of the United States has on his plate right now, you’d think he’d have more pressing things to do. Apparently not.

  • Lead paint could ruin vacation

    Dear Dr. Blonz: I am concerned about lead poisoning. What is the best way to check for lead in paint? Our vacation rental is in a dated cottage and there is a powdery deposit on the walls. The rental agency doesn’t know the answer. Our dog is with us, and we are also concerned about him. I need to find out more about what goes wrong with lead and how to find out discreetly whether there is a problem. — S.R., San DiegoDear S.R.: The most immediate step is to find out whether there is lead on the walls. There are a number of lead-check products, some of which will probably be available at a local hardware store. I have used LeadCheck swabs (leadcheck.com) by 3M, but there are a number of products that can provide the information you need. They all involve a liquid swab with an indicator substance that turns a certain color when lead ions are present. It is a simple, straightforward test that can be used on any surface, and one that will let you know instantly — and discreetly — whether the powdery deposit on the walls in your rental represents a risk. These swabs can also be used to test for lead in any other items, such as chew toys used by the dog.You are right to be concerned. Lead can enter the body in a number of ways, the most common being the consumption of substances containing lead, or the inhalation of lead in dust. If the walls have leaded paint, powder from the paint can drop to the floor; every time the floor is swept, the lead can become airborne, presenting an increased risk of inhalation. Lead poisoning in children, for example, is often related to the consumption of leaded paint chips that peel off the walls, or by putting hands or toys with lead dust on them in their mouths. In adults, common sources are leaded water pipes, leaded pottery used for cooking or eating, leaded food-storage containers, or working in industries where lead-containing compounds are used.Aside from testing kits for the suspect items, there is a blood test that can determine if excessive lead has entered the body. A physician can provide a more precise evaluation. The good news is that the body is able to rid itself of lead; the bad news is that it does so slowly. The issue is that if you are in a lead-contaminated environment, the lead comes in faster than the body can eliminate it. That means the essential first step is to stop the exposure.The symptoms of lead poisoning in adults are varied, including anemia, fatigue, depression, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart failure, abdominal pain, gout, kidney failure, wrist or foot weakness or reproductive problems. In children, lead poisoning symptoms include anemia, fatigue, decreased appetite, digestive problems, sleeplessness, learning problems and lowered I.Q. The Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent “Learn about Lead” page at tinyurl.com/ohsk2z5.In dogs, the symptoms of lead poisoning include distinct changes in their nervous and digestive systems, including seizures, uneven gait, colic and vomiting. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions. You can find more about lead poisoning in dogs at tinyurl.com/nl3qed6 and tinyurl.com/32r4uj.

  • OPINION: Eric Holder leads the rush to judgment

    One thing an old Ivy League revolutionary can’t stand is people noticing that he represents the Establishment. That he embodies the System to a point where he can make it stop and make it go. He will go to great lengths to convince himself, if not others, this is not so.Take Eric H. Holder Jr., Columbia College Class of 1973, Columbia Law School Class of 1976, now into his sixth year as U.S. attorney general of the Obama Imperium. The man really wants us to think he is not also “the man.”Yes, he is “the attorney general of the United States,” as Holder told a group of St. Louis Community College students in Ferguson, Mo., this week. “But I am also a black man.”Holder took himself to Ferguson to spur the federal civil rights probe by more than 40 FBI agents into the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, by 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson, who is white. As the Justice chief declared at local FBI headquarters: “We’re looking for possible violations of federal civil rights statutes.” Obviously, Holder left those scales of impartiality at home. Not that he would need them in Missouri, where Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon announced “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued,” presumably of police officer Wilson.Even the dark suits and American flags fail to obscure the 21st century lynch mob at work. According to the snap judgment of federal and state authorities, Wilson shot the 6-foot-4, 292-pound man multiple times for “racist” reasons. The other story out there gathering reportorial mass is that Wilson fired as Brown charged him after having beaten Wilson to the point of fracturing his orbital socket and rendering the six-year veteran cop nearly unconscious, but, heavens, don’t let what’s quaintly known as the judicial process function unimpeded to ascertain the facts. Keep that media circus going because the nation’s top cop is ringmaster.In his “closed-door meeting” — no media — at the community college, Holder wanted students to know he understood their “mistrust” of police. In fact, he wanted the whole country to know it because the Justice Department later released excerpts of his remarks. “I can remember being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike on two occasions and accused of speeding,” the handout says. “Pulled over ... ‘Let me search your car’ ... Go through the trunk of my car, look under the seats and all this kind of stuff. I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me.”

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