Monday, March 16, 2009

Police: Woman drugs boss's coffee so he'll 'chill'

BRYANT, Ark. – Police said a woman has been arrested for allegedly slipping some tranquilizers into her boss's coffee because she felt "he needed to chill out." Police said the 24-year-old woman admitted to detectives that she slipped the drugs into veteranarian John Duckett's drink. Officers said Duckett knew something was wrong shortly after drinking some of the coffee Tuesday morning.

Officers said the woman cleaned the cages at the the Reynolds Road Animal Clinic.

A judge set bond at $25,000 Friday and a jailer said the woman was still being held Friday. Her next court appearance is scheduled for April 21.

Information from: KLRT-TV,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

High prevalence of child marriage in India

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A large proportion of women in India were married when they were still children, a study has found, and researchers warned that such unions carried higher risks of unwanted pregnancies and female sterilization.

Nearly all the women who were married before they reached the legal age of 18 reported that they used no contraception before they had their first child, according to the study, which was published in The Lancet.

UNICEF defines child marriage as marriage before 18 years of age and such a practice has been increasingly viewed as a violation of human rights.

Marriage at a very young age carries grave health consequences for both the girl and her children and it is well documented that adolescent mothers are more likely to experience complications such as obstetric fistula.

Researchers analyzed data from a national family health survey that was conducted from 2005 to 2006 in India. The survey involved 22,807 Indian women who were aged between 20 and 24 at the time of the survey.

Of these, 22.6 percent were married before they were 16, 44.5 percent were married when they were between 16 and 17, and 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13.

"Women who were married as children remained significantly more likely to have had three or more childbirths, a repeat childbirth in less than 24 months, multiple unwanted pregnancies, pregnancy termination, and sterilization," wrote the researchers, led by Anita Raj at the Boston University School of Public Health.

India introduced laws against child marriage in 1929 and set the legal age for marriage at 12 years. The legal age for marriage was increased to 18 years in 1978.

While the practice of child marriage has decreased slowly, its prevalence remains unacceptably high, and rural, poor, less educated girls and those from central or eastern regions of the country were most vulnerable to the practice, the researchers wrote.

Such findings indicate that child marriage affects not only adolescents aged 16 to 17 years, but also large numbers of pubescent girls aged 14 to 15 years, and show that existing policies and economic development gains have failed to help rural and poor populations, the researchers wrote.

They attributed the high numbers of sterilization in young women married as children to them having their desired number of children at an earlier age.

But it was also indicative of inadequate fertility control, which was evident from the high numbers of unwanted pregnancies among these women.

They also warned that sterilization might reduce condom use in such couples, which would heighten the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Child-marriage prevention programmes should be broadened to include interventions for women married as children and men who might pursue children for marriage, the researchers added.

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mich. woman marks her 108th or 111th birthday

FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Don't ask Mattie Caldwell how many candles go on her birthday cake. "I don't remember," she said. Medicare records indicate Caldwell's birth date is March 5, 1901. An old family Bible gives the same date but three years earlier, in 1898. And there's no legal record of her birth because she was born at home.

In any case, Caldwell is celebrating this week with friends and family at her home in Genesee County's Flint Township, about 55 miles northwest of Detroit.

"It's special," she said.

The great-great-great-grandmother to at least seven — she stopped counting a while ago — grew up on a farm in rural Mississippi and relatives say she never learned to read or write. She was the oldest of seven children, and the only one still alive.

"They didn't send us to school too much," Caldwell told The Flint Journal. "Father had us working in the fields."

She later moved to Gary, Ind., with her husband and had one daughter, both of whom are deceased.

Caldwell uses oxygen, and a hip injury in 2005 left the avid dancer using a wheelchair. She says she has one more dance left in her, but won't break it out yet.

"I don't know when the Lord will be ready for me, but when he gets ready, I've got to move," she said. "I'm going to dance for him, too."

Information from: The Flint Journal,

Monday, March 2, 2009

No $#$%##! LA County tries for cuss-free week

$#$%##! LA County tries for cuss-free week

LOS ANGELES – Pay no attention to that eerie silence in the nation's most populous county this week; it will simply be the sound of 10 million people not cussing.

At least that's the result McKay Hatch is hoping for once his campaign to clear the air is recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, the board is scheduled to issue a proclamation by Supervisor Michael Antonovich making the first week in March No Cussing Week.

That would mean no blue language from the Mojave desert, where it gets hot as $&# in the summer, to the Pacific Ocean, where on a winter's day it can get colder and nastier than %$#!

Not that 15-year-old Hatch expects complete compliance. When his No Cussing Club meets at South Pasadena High School on Wednesdays it's not unusual for a nonmember to throw open the door and fire off a torrent of four-letter words. He's also been the target of organized harassment by pro-cussers.

And Antonovich's county motion carries no penalties.

"But it's a good reminder for all of us, not just young people but everybody, to be respectful to one another and watch the words we use," said the supervisor's spokesman, Tony Bell.

The county isn't the first entity to try to put the lid on swearing. Hatch's hometown of South Pasadena declared itself a cuss-free zone for a week last March, and two years ago a high school in Canada threatened to suspend repeat cussers.

Hatch has lofty goals.

"Next year I want to try to get California to have a cuss-free week. And then, who knows, maybe worldwide," said the 10th grader, who believes if people treat each other with more civility they can better work together to solve bigger problems.

He said his campaign began to form about the time he hit seventh grade when he noticed his friends beginning to swear, something his family didn't allow.

He formed the No Cussing Club and invited others to join. Soon the group had a Web site, bright orange T-shirts, a hip hop theme song and inquiries from all over from people interested in joining. He estimates 20,000 people have formed similar clubs.

"It's not about forcing anyone to stop, just to bring awareness," he says of the movement. "If you can do a week without cussing, maybe you can do two weeks. And then maybe a month."

No Cussing Club: