- - Monday, May 31, 2010

ALASKA

Backpacker shoots, kills grizzly bear

ANCHORAGE | A backpacker fatally shot a grizzly bear with his handgun in Alaska’s Denali National Park, officials said.

A man and woman reported that they were hiking Friday evening when the bear emerged from trailside brush and charged the woman, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

The man fired nine rounds from his .45 caliber, semiautomatic pistol at the animal, which then stopped and walked into the brush.

The two reported the shooting to rangers, who restricted access to the Igloo Canyon area for fear that the bear was wounded and dangerous.

On Saturday, rangers found the dead bear about 100 feet from the shooting site.

Park officials are determining the justification for the shooting. It’s legal to carry firearms in that area of the park but illegal to discharge them.

CONNECTICUT

Judge nixes graduations at church

BRIDGEPORT | A federal judge has ruled two Connecticut public high schools can’t hold their graduations inside a church because that would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall made the ruling Monday in the case of Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School, both in Enfield.

The Enfield school board says it voted to hold services June 23 and 24 at the First Cathedral in Bloomfield because it had enough space at the right price. But two students and three of their parents sued.

The judge, a 1997 appointee of President Clinton, says Enfield had unconstitutionally entangled itself with religion by agreeing to cover much of the church’s religious imagery. She also says the town coerced the plaintiffs to support religion by forcing them to enter the church for graduation.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Metabolic profiling links exercise, benefits

Ten minutes of brisk exercise triggers metabolic changes that last at least an hour. The unfair news for panting newbies: The more fit you are, the more benefits you just might be getting.

It is well-known that exercise and a good diet are important for health, protecting against heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. But what exactly causes the health improvement from working up a sweat or from eating more olive oil than saturated fat? And are some people biologically predisposed to get more benefit than others?

They’re among questions that metabolic profiling, a new field called metabolomics, aims to answer in hopes of one day optimizing those benefits — or finding patterns that may signal risk for disease and new ways to treat it.

“We’re only beginning to catalog the metabolic variability between people,” said Dr. Robert Gerszten of Massachusetts General Hospital, whose team just took a step toward that goal.

HAWAII

4 sets of twins born at same hospital

HILO | Doctors at the Hilo Medical Center have been especially busy lately delivering twins.

Hospital official say between last Wednesday morning through early Friday, doctors delivered four separate sets of twins.

The first set of twins came when Angela Quiroz, 35, gave birth to a boy and girl around 6:36 a.m. Wednesday.

Ronelle Demotta, 33, gave birth to two boys at 4:43 p.m. Thursday. Then, Reyna Rose gave birth to two girls at 7:48 and 7:49 p.m. Thursday.

The final set of twins were born when Alissa Renier, 18, had her boy and girl at 3:28 and 3:29 a.m. Friday.

A chief nurse at Hilo Medical was not sure whether any sort of record was set, but she didn’t think four sets of twins had ever been born at the hospital in such a short period of time.

INDIANA

City eyes banning phones while driving

VALPARAISO | Leaders of a northwestern Indiana city say they’ll likely take steps toward a possible ban on talking on cell phones while driving after a recent study showed more than two-thirds of respondents supported it.

A quality-of-life survey for the city of Valparaiso found that 67 percent of respondents favor such a ban. It gained the most support of any proposed ordinance included in the study.

The city has not taken any steps toward such a ban, but Mayor Jon Costas said the survey results provide an incentive for a broader survey of the community on the topic.

If the city were to adopt a ban, it would follow the lead of nearby Gary, where a ban took effect in 2008. South Bend adopted a similar ban last July.

No statewide ban for all drivers exists, but the General Assembly enacted a law last year that prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones or other telecommunication devices while driving.

KENTUCKY

Up to 120 teachers could be replaced

LOUISVILLE | Six low-performing schools in Louisville will see as much as 60 percent of the faculty — and, in some cases, the principals — replaced by this fall.

The Courier-Journal reports the radical overhaul, which encompasses 120 teachers, is part of an effort to comply with a federal mandate tied to funding. But, some school officials say the schools have undeserved reputations and experts say huge staffing changes alone will not guarantee student improvement.

State education auditors earlier this spring visited the 10 schools identified as the lowest-performing schools in Kentucky, including the six Louisville schools.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education announced Kentucky would receive nearly $56 million through a federal school-improvement grant program to fix its persistently low-achieving schools.

NEW MEXICO

Bomb squads practice at robot rodeo

LOS ALAMOS | Bomb squads from around New Mexico got a chance to sharpen their skills by using a remote-controlled robot — not to blow things up, but to make pancakes.

The Robot Rodeo was held last week at a tech site at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The three-day event offered hours of hands-on training at the controls of $225,000 robots used for bomb and hazardous-waste detection and disposal.

Chris Ory, a member of Los Alamos’ hazardous-devices team, said six teams guided robots through 10 challenges, including an obstacle course, simulated attacks, cooperation exercises and activities to test their ability to minutely control the robot.

The control challenge was where pancake-making came into play.

NEW YORK

Marine aircraft mishap injures 10

NEW YORK | A U.S. Marine Corps aircraft’s powerful propellers whipped up a wind that sent branches hurling off a tree and into a crowd of about 150 people watching a Memorial Day demonstration in a park, leaving 10 people with cuts and other minor injuries, officials and a witness said.

As the Osprey MV-22 aircraft landed at Staten Island’s Clove Lakes Park at around 9 a.m. Monday, the wind generated by its twin rotors stirred tree limbs, dirt from a nearby baseball field and other debris into a swirl that sent spectators scattering, witness Ann Hirsch said.

“It was like a storm of sand and garbage and people running,” said Mrs. Hirsch, 66, of Staten Island. “Branches just came down. They were all over the park. … It was really scary.”

PENNSYLVANIA

College to return stolen 1600s letter

HAVERFORD | Officials at a college near Philadelphia are returning a valuable letter by philosopher Rene Descartes to its rightful owner in France.

The 17th-century missive has been in the Haverford College archives for more than 100 years. But officials there only recently realized it has illicit origins.

A researcher in the Netherlands saw the letter listed on a library inventory that the college posted online last fall.

He told Haverford it had been stolen from a French library in the mid-1800s. He also says the letter provides important insight into Descartes’ thinking. Descartes lived from 1596 to 1650.

Haverford thinks the alumnus who donated the letter was not aware of its provenance. Still, they are returning it to the library in Paris at a ceremony June 8.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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