Wednesday, April 25, 2007

19 year old to graduate college after year

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - A 19-year-old suburban Detroit resident is on track to graduate from The University of Michigan after just a year of study.

Nicole Matisse, of Bloomfield Hills, is to officially graduate in the summer with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

As a student at Lahser High School, Matisse had exhausted the curriculum by her junior year. Between the exams she passed on eight advanced placement courses and the eight classes she took at Oakland Community College, she had amassed enough credits to enter the university last fall as a junior.

"When I got to U-M, I only took 19 credits, and I was bored and craved more credits," she told The Detroit News for a Wednesday story. "So even when I took 27 credits this semester, I felt I could have added even more."

It's unclear whether any other students have done what Matisse will accomplish this year, but Donna Wessel Walker, assistant director of the honors program, said she's never seen it happen.

"She's taking in one semester the course load that most people take in two," Wessel Walker said. "She is one determined young lady."

Matisse's next step is to start as a first-year student at the Wayne State University law school in Detroit.

Associated Press. "19-year-old to graduate college after year." 25 Apr 2007.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

God is now an action figure!

He even comes with an AK-47!

"Volunteers rescue kitty from tight spot"

It was a purr-fect rescue. The grate escape. A cat-astrophe narrowly averted. One black cat is lucky to be alive this week, after it caught its head in a drainage grate on State Street last Thursday morning and was freed only after a monumental effort from volunteers in two towns.

Stuck on the side of the road, just inches from passing motorists, the cat survived an unknown amount of time with only its head poking through the 130-pound grate before it was spotted and rescued. Rescuers called to the scene Thursday couldn't believe what they saw when they arrived.

"When I pulled up ... I said 'Wow'," said Bristol Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Viera.

"How this cat didn't get killed is just amazing," added Bristol Police Lt. Nick Guercia, who was also helped rescue the feline.

The rescue

It all began around 8:15 a.m., when police received a call of a cat stuck in a drain cover across from Magnolia Street near the old town reservoir. When police, fire and department of public works crews arrived, all they saw was a tiny black head sticking out above the grate.

"The cat was just hanging under there," said Lt. Guercia.

Crews blocked off the area and immediately set to work trying to free the young female. They didn't get far. Though they used pry bars, they had no luck pulling open the heavy drainage grate to get to the cat — it was just too heavy, said Lt. Guercia.

Not giving up, rescuers asked DPW employees to bring in a backhoe. Meanwhile, Bristol Animal Control Officer Dyanne Gibree lubricated the cat's head with liquid soap in an effort to make it slippery enough to wriggle out of the bind. That didn't work either.

Though the animal was likely in shock, Officer Gibree said she was very cooperative with its rescuers.

"It took a lot of manipulating," she said.

Plan B

When prybars, backhoes, liquid soap and coaxing all failed, rescuers opted for Plan B: Bring the cat, grate and all, to a veterinarian. They borrowed an old spare tire from nearby Watkinson's Automotive, used it as a shimmy to rest part of the grate on while they lifted the other part, and lifted the whole mess up in one piece. Once that was done, they transported the cat and its heavy new collar to the Sakonnet Animal Hospital in Tiverton. But taking it to the vet didn't assure the cat was out of the woods. When it arrived at the vet's office, said veterinarian William Condon, its temperature was about 94 degrees, well below the 102 degrees it should have been. Though he's seen similar cases, Dr. Condon said, he was still quite surprised to see the cat stuck in the grate.

"It was a pretty interesting scene," he said. "It's head was just peeking over the top."

Dr. Condon sedated the cat, lubricated its neck and head, shaved its neck, and commenced tugging and turning. After a bit of coaxing, he said, the cat finally slipped free.

"If it was able to get its head in there, it had to be able to get it out of there," he said.

The cat was kept at the hospital over the weekend, and despite its life-threatening ordeal Dr. Condon later said it was recovering well. Though it's a bit shy, he said, it should make a full recovery.

"Its vital signs are good."

Finding the owner

Doctors and rescuers are still trying to locate the cat's owner. Because it was wearing a collar at the time of its rescue, police believe it is domesticated. On Monday, the cat was brought to the Bristol Animal Shelter on Minturn Road, where it will stay until an owner comes forward. If one doesn't, it will be put up for adoption.

"I think she used five of her nine lives," joked Officer Gibree.

Martino, Stephan V. "Volunteers rescue kitty from tight spot." 2 March 2006. 24 March 2007.

"Poetry is Dangerous" by Kazim Ali

On April 19, after a day of teaching classes at Shippensburg University, I went out to my car and grabbed a box of old poetry manuscripts from the front seat of my little white Beetle and carried it across the street and put it next to the trashcan outside Wright Hall. The poems were from poetry contests I had been judging and the box was heavy. I had previously left my recycling boxes there and they were always picked up and taken away by the trash department.

A young man from ROTC was watching me as I got into my car and drove away. I thought he was looking at my car which has black flower decals and sometimes inspires strange looks. I later discovered that I, in my dark skin, am sometimes not even a person to the people who look at me. Instead, in spite of my peacefulness, my committed opposition to all aggression and war, I am a threat by my very existence, a threat just living in the world as a Muslim body.

Upon my departure, he called the local police department and told them a man of Middle Eastern descent driving a heavily decaled white Beetle with out of state plates and no campus parking sticker had just placed a box next to the trash can. My car has New York plates, but he got the rest of it wrong. I have two stickers on my car. One is my highly visible faculty parking sticker and the other, which I just don't have the heart to take off these days, says "Kerry/Edwards: For a Stronger America."

Because of my recycling the bomb squad came, the state police came. Because of my recycling buildings were evacuated, classes were canceled, campus was closed. No. Not because of my recycling. Because of my dark body. No. Not because of my dark body. Because of his fear. Because of the way he saw me. Because of the culture of fear, mistrust, hatred, and suspicion that is carefully cultivated in the media, by the government, by people who claim to want to keep us safe.

These are the days of orange alert, school lock-downs, and endless war. We are preparing for it, training for it, looking for it, and so of course, in the most innocuous of places--a professor wanting to hurry home, hefting his box of discarded poetry--we find it.

That man in the parking lot didn't even see me. He saw my darkness. He saw my Middle Eastern descent. Ironic because though my grandfathers came from Egypt, I am Indian, a South Asian, and could never be mistaken for a Middle Eastern man by anyone who'd ever met one.

One of my colleagues was in the gathering crowd, trying to figure out what had happened. She heard my description--a Middle Eastern man driving a white beetle with out of state plates--and knew immediately they were talking about me and realized that the box must have been manuscripts I was discarding. She approached them and told them I was a professor on the faculty there. Immediately the campus police officer said, "What country is he from?"

"What country is he from?!" she yelled, indignant.

"Ma'am, you are associated with the suspect. You need to step away and lower your voice," he told her.

At some length several of my faculty colleagues were able to get through to the police and get me on a cell phone where I explained to the university president and then to the state police that the box contained old poetry manuscripts that needed to be recycled. The police officer told me that in the current climate I needed to be more careful about how I behaved. "When I recycle?" I asked.

The university president appreciated my distress about the situation but denied that the call had anything to do with my race or ethnic background. The spokesperson of the university called it an "honest mistake," not referring to the young man from ROTC giving in to his worst instincts and calling the police but referring to me who made the mistake of being dark-skinned and putting my recycling next to the trashcan.

The university's bizarrely minimal statement lets everyone know that the "suspicious package" beside the trashcan ended up being, indeed, trash. It goes on to say, "We appreciate your cooperation during the incident and remind everyone that safety is a joint effort by all members of the campus community."

What does that community mean to me, a person who has to walk by the ROTC offices every day on my way to my own office just down the hall--who was watched, noted, and reported, all in a days work? Today we gave in willingly and whole-heartedly to a culture of fear and blaming and profiling. It is deemed perfectly appropriate behavior to spy on one another and police one another and report on one another. Such behaviors exist most strongly in closed and undemocratic and fascist societies.

The university report does not mention the root cause of the alarm. That package became "suspicious" because of who was holding it, who put it down, who drove away. Me.

It was poetry, I kept insisting to the state policeman who was questioning me on the phone. It was poetry I was putting out to be recycled.

My body exists politically in a way I can not prevent. For a moment today, without even knowing it, driving away from campus in my little beetle, exhausted after a day of teaching, listening to Justin Timberlake on the radio, I ceased to be a person when a man I had never met looked straight through me and saw the violence in his own heart.

Ali, Kazim. "Poetry is Dangerous." 2006.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Army Tours to be Extended

WASHINGTON - Beginning immediately, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours — three months longer than the usual standard, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

It was the latest move by the Pentagon to cope with the strains of fighting two wars simultaneously and maintaining a higher troop level in Iraq as part of President Bush’s revised strategy for stabilizing Baghdad.

Officials on Monday said some 13,000 National Guard troops were receiving orders alerting them to prepare for possible deployment to Iraq — meaning a second tour for several thousand of them.

Officials said a final decision to deploy the four infantry combat brigades later this year will be based on conditions on the ground, and named specific Guard units based in Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma and Ohio.

“This policy is a difficult but necessary interim step,” Gates told a Pentagon news conference, adding that the goal is to eventually return to 12 months as the standard length of tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said the new policy does not affect the other main components of the U.S. ground force in Iraq: the Marines, whose standard tour is seven months, or the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, which will continue to serve 12-month tours.

Gates acknowledged that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are making life difficult for many in the military.

“Our forces are stretched, there’s no question about that,” Gates said.

Trying to ‘share burden equally’
He said the new policy also seeks to ensure that all active-duty Army units get at least 12 months at home between deployments. He said it would allow the Pentagon to maintain the current level of troops in Iraq for another year, although he added that there has been no decision on future troop levels.

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged the toll the change could have on troops in the press conference: “Is it an additional strain to go from 12 to 15 months? Of course it is.”

“When you tell the troops that they're going to be staying for 3 more months, you're basically increasing their stress, hurting their family life and putting them in greater danger,” he said.

Without changing the standard tour length to 15 months, the Army would have been forced to send five brigades to Iraq before they completed 12 months at home, Gates said.

Some units’ tours in Iraq had already been extended beyond 12 months by varying amounts. The new policy will make deployments more equitable and more predictable for soldiers and for their families, Gates said.

“I think it is fair to all soldiers that all share the burden equally,” he said.

© 2007 MSNBC InteractiveNBC News' Jim Miklaszewski and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Idaho National Guard Targeted by Sharp Shooters

BOISE, Idaho — For years, ATV-riding, gun-toting sport shooters have flouted gun laws in part of Idaho's high desert by taking pot shots at ground squirrels and other animals.

Now, officials say, they're also setting their sights on National Guard tanks that train in the area.

Rifles and pistols have been banned in a 68,000-acre area of the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area since 1996.

But the federal Bureau of Land Management is considering expanding the gun-restricted area by 41,000 acres to try to limit shootings at Idaho Army National Guard troops who report slugs bouncing off their tanks on a regular basis.

"There's a segment of the shooting community that will shoot at anything that moves," said John Sullivan, the area's manager.

National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Stephanie Dowling said she thinks the proposed expansion would help alleviate the problem.

"What's happened over time, as the population has grown, we get more and more people out there," said Dowling. "Not everybody uses good safety precautions."

Idaho is the third-fastest growing state, after only Nevada and Arizona.

Rancher Tom Nicholson sees changes in the range as more people move to Boise 25 miles away, then drive out into this mostly open country looking for fun.

The region is part of a 490,000-acre federal preserve where prairie falcons and eagles soar above, hunting ground squirrels that pop their heads by the thousands above the warming earth.

With just two agents to patrol 4 million acres of desert near Boise, gun enthusiasts regularly defy the ban by shooting squirrels, protected birds and even grazing cattle, park officials say.

Because money is already stretched thin, land management agents generally only cite illegal shooters they catch in the act. A photographer recently captured what looked to be a squirrel gunner in a restricted part of the conservation area, but even in that case, chances of prosecution are slim.

"If that was a photo of sufficient clarity that we could identify him, we would seek to prosecute," Sullivan said.

Fewer than 10 people per year are ticketed for illegal shooting in the area of the park, said Sullivan. A citation carries a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and a year in prison.

Mark Fuller, director of the Rapter Research Center at Boise State University, estimates that dozens of protected birds are shot annually in the park, including in the restricted area.

He said the long-term negative effects on the park's 24 bird species populations haven't yet been documented.

Nicholson, who owns thousands of cattle that graze in the park, said shooters kill several each year.

He's remarkably forgiving, especially for someone who is out more than $1,000 every time a cow dies.

"It's public land," Nicholson said. "They have as much right to be on the range as we do."

Shotguns, which have a shorter range, are still allowed in the area.

The situation was even worse before the rifle-and-pistol ban in 1996, Sullivan said.

Soldiers training for missions in Iraq or other war zones are only looking for simulated battles, he said — not real bullets whizzing their way.

"It was like World War III on the weekends," he said.

Associated Press. "Idaho National Guard Targeted by Sharp Shooters." 5 Apr. 2007,2933,264270,00.html.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Only a Joke?

Or a cover up for the negative publicity??? People also published an article similar to the IMDB one I posted earlier today. Here is what has replaced it this afternoon:

Still proving George Bernard Shaw's observation that England and America are two countries divided by a common language, it now appears that Keith Richards's startling remark about having snorted his father's ashes was lost in the translation.

According to Richards's manager, Jane Rose, in an e-mail message to MTV News, Richards's comment about his sniffing his dad's cremated ashes – after he first mixed them with cocaine – was "said in jest. ... Can't believe anyone took [it] seriously."

Added Bernard Doherty of LD Communications, which represents the Rolling Stones: "It was an off-the-cuff remark, a joke, and it is not true. File under April Fool's joke," the Associated Press reports.

As was quoted by the British music magazine NME, and picked up widely around the world, the Rolling Stones guitarist, 63, said of father Burt, who died at 84 in 2002, "He was cremated, and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared."

This is disgusting.

Rolling Stones star Keith Richards has stunned fans by revealing he once snorted his father's ashes, mixed with cocaine. The 63-year-old guitarist, who has long been associated with all manner of substance abuse, has told Britain's Nme his most bizarre drug-taking session came after his father Bert died in 2002. He says, "He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive." Richards accepts he should be one of rock's casualties - but luck and an amazing constitution has kept him alive. He adds, "I've no pretensions about immortality. I'm the same as everyone... just kind of lucky. I was number one on the 'Who's likely to die' list for 10 years. I mean, I was really disappointed when I fell off the list."

Article found here.