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Archive for April, 2008

Gun lawsuit tossed


New York’s lawsuit claiming that the gun industry marketed weapons knowing that they would be diverted into illegal markets has been thrown out.

A federal appeals court, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal law provides the gun industry with broad immunity from lawsuits brought by crime victims and violence-plagued cities, according to the Associated Press.

New York is one of several cities that had sued gun makers. It said the industry violated public nuisance law by failing to take reasonable steps to stop widespread access to illegal firearms, the AP reported.

Rather than money, it sought a court order for gun makers to more closely monitor those dealers who frequently sell guns later used to commit crimes.

“I am disappointed in the court’s decision,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the AP. “Regardless of this ruling, we will continue our fight against illegal guns full bore — in the courtrooms, on the streets and in the Congress.”

Lawrence G. Keane, a lawyer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade association, called the ruling “very gratifying to members of the firearms industry.”

He said Congress “understood that frivolous lawsuits like New York City’s defied common sense and represented a clear abuse of the judicial system that threatened to bankrupt a responsible and law-abiding industry.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 at 2:58 pm |

Another innocent man released


A Dallas man who spent more than 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit was freed today, the Associated Press reported.

James Lee Woodward had spend more time wrongly imprisoned than any other prisonner in the United States when he was cleared by DNA testing.

He had been found guilty of the murder of his girlfriend in 1980 and was cleared with the help of the Innocence Project of Texas.

The number of men who were convicted unjustly is alarming. Woodward was the second Dallas man in two weeks to have his conviction overturned, according to the Innocence Project. The total as of today: 216.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Deskovic of Peekskill was imprisoned for 16 years for a murder and rape he also did not commit.

These days, Deskovic is trying to use his story to bring about reforms. You can visit his Web site “here.”:http://jeffreydeskovicspeaks.org

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
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“An Insider’s Guide to the UN”


In today’s column, I write about the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Molly Bruce, a Mount Kisco resident, assisted Eleanor Roosevelt as the former first lady helped to draft the document.

On Sunday, from 2 to 4 p.m., the Westchester division of the United Nations Association will meet at the Scarsdale Library, 54 Olmsted Road.


The speaker will be Linda Fasulo, who has covered the United Nations for NBC and NPR and and who is the author of “An Insider’s Guide to the UN: A Correspondent’s Perspective.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, April 28th, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
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Egan chastises Rudy


What does this mean for other pro-choice politicians?

From the Associated Press:

NY cardinal criticizes Giuliani for taking Communion 

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Cardinal Edward Egan says Rudy Giuliani should not have received Holy Communion during the pope’s visit because he supports abortion rights.

Egan says he had “an understanding” with the former presidential candidate and New York mayor that he is not to receive the Eucharist. The Catholic Church teaches “that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God.”

The cardinal says Giuliani broke that understanding when he received the Eucharist during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.


Egan says he will be seeking a meeting with Giuliani “to insist that he abide by our understanding.”

Giuliani’s spokesman said Monday she is preparing a response.

FILE PHOTO: In this April 19 photo, Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani waits to receive communion in St. Patrick’s Cathedral during a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. (AP Photo/Chris La Putt, Pool)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, April 28th, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

Hagee backs off


Pastor John Hagee’s endorsement of John McCain caused something of ruckus after the Catholic League accused him of calling the Catholic church “The Great Whore.”

Then, there were his comments about gays to National Public Radio’s Fresh Air:

“The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment.”


Late this afternoon, Hagee issued this:

“As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses. But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise. No matter what the cause of the storm, my heart goes out to all who suffered in this terrible tragedy. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.”

PHOTO: US Evangelist John Hagee leads a march of Christians in support of Israel in Jerusalem at the beginning of the month. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, April 25th, 2008 at 6:14 pm |

If we had become extinct


From the Associated Press: We may have come near to extinction. What would the world have looked like?

WASHINGTON (April 24) – Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests.

The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.
The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

“This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement. “Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.”

Wells is director of the Genographic Project, launched in 2005 to study anthropology using genetics. The report was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Previous studies using mitochondrial DNA – which is passed down through mothers – have traced modern humans to a single “mitochondrial Eve,” who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.

The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa which appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.

The researchers led by Doron Behar of Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel and Saharon Rosset of IBM T.J. Watson Research Center and Tel Aviv University concluded that humans separated into small populations prior to the Stone Age, when they came back together and began to increase in numbers and spread to other areas.

Eastern Africa experienced a series of severe droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago and the researchers said this climatological shift may have contributed to the population changes, dividing into small, isolated groups which developed independently.

Paleontologist Meave Leakey, a Genographic adviser, commented: “Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction.”

Today more than 6.6 billion people inhabit the globe, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The research was funded by the National Geographic Society, IBM, the Waitt Family Foundation, the Seaver Family Foundation, Family Tree DNA and Arizona Research Labs.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, April 25th, 2008 at 8:13 am |
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Photographing the dying


Life Before Death is a series of portraits of seriously ill people before and after they have died. It is on the website of The Guardian.

“The work of German photographer Walter Schels and his partner Beate Lakotta, who recorded interviews with the subjects in the their final days, reveals much about dying — and living,” the newspaper says.

You can see it “here.”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/gallery/2008/mar/31/lifebeforedeath?picture=333325401

And you can watch a “video”:http://www.wellcomecollection.org/exhibitionsandevents/exhibitions/lifebeforedeath/Video/WTX047903.htm of Schels and Lakotta talking about their work.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
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The Wall Street Journal under Murdoch


Have you wondered how Rupert Murdoch might change The Wall Street Journal?

In a nutshell: more political news, less business news.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism looked the newspaper’s front page since Murdoch took over.

“In the first four months of Murdoch’s stewardship, the Journal’s front page has clearly shifted focus, de-emphasizing business coverage that was the franchise, while placing much more emphasis on domestic politics and devoting more attention to international issues.”

The study is “here.”:http://www.journalism.org/node/10769

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 1:27 pm |

$4 gas?


I passed a few gas stations this morning selling regular unleaded at $3.99 a gallon.

Is it $4 anywhere yet?

Is it time to put away the SUV?


Two years ago we were complaining about prices above $3. How much did motorists change their habits then?

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian walks past a gas station sign on Riverside Drive in Croton-on-Hudson April 21, 2006. The price of crude oil hit record highs this week and gasoline prices throughout the lower Hudson Valley area have shot up past three dollars a gallon.( Stuart Bayer / The Journal News )

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 12:02 pm |


Political interference reported at EPA


Nearly 900 of the EPA’s almost 1,600 staff scientists reported political interference in their work over the last five years, according to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Our investigation found an agency in crisis,” said Francesca Grifo, director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Program. “Nearly 900 EPA scientists reported political interference in their scientific work. That’s 900 too many. Distorting science to accommodate a narrow political agenda threatens our environment, our health, and our democracy itself.”

The report is “here.”:http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/hundreds-of-epa-scientists-0112.html

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
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About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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