Searching for owner, story behind Vietnam vet’s watch

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Read Time:3 Minute, 59 Second
WILMINGTON, Del. — It's not an expensive watch.
 
For someone, however, it was a daily reminder of a seminal point in their lives: a year served in the Vietnam War.
 
Located amid a pile of empty cans in the woods, it has a story to tell.
 
Whether that's a story of pride in service, a tale of sadness, or something in between is anyone's guess. Unless the owner can be found.
 
Kathy Campbell found it. She was out on her neighborhood "Adopt-a-Highway" walks along Southwood Road, near the Hockessin, Del., home she and her husband Guy have shared for the past 22 years.
 
It was April, the day after Easter — she recalled. Strolling along the edge of the two-lane roadway, she spotted a bunch of empty beer cans under a tree, in a spot barely 1,000 feet from the Pennsylvania state line.
 
The cans were a mess that demanded action.
 
"It looked kinda like a bunch of kids had been sitting there, just hanging out, over the weekend," said Campbell. "So I was just picking up everything. And I saw this watch. And I honestly thought, you know, a lot of the kids wear these inexpensive watches with the real big faces, and that's what I thought it was."
 
Focused on the cleanup, she put it in her pocket to look at later.
 
Back home, Campbell took another look at the silver-and-gold timepiece and realized she might have something special. An older brother had served in Vietnam. "I can recall a lot about those years," she said.
 
The words on a small, gold-colored disc affixed to one end of the flexible wristband jumped out at her. "Republic of Vietnam Service," it read, the words embossed under the image of a dragon behind bamboo trees — a replica of the medal given to all who served in the war.
 
 
 
On the other end of the wristband was something equally intriguing: a miniature version of the rectangular green, yellow and red ribbon that denotes service in Vietnam and is worn on military dress uniforms.
 
Then she flipped it over. Engraved on the back were someone's initials and the dates 1967-1968.
 
Curiosity now thoroughly piqued, Campbell put on her detective's hat. She ran lost-and-found notices in The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, other local publications, and Craig's List. She contacted several veterans groups. She also called the Wilmington-based oral history group Voices of War, which has embarked on a multi-year project to collect oral histories of the veterans of the Vietnam War.
 
All to no avail. She even called Delaware State Police.
 
"I thought it might have come from a burglary," she said.
 
The location complicates that scenario. If it was stolen, it just as easily could have been taken from a Pennsylvania residence, or anyplace.
 
In keeping with Campbell's wishes, the News Journal isn't revealing the initials. She hopes, perhaps through this story, to find the original owner. That person would have to be able to provide the correct initials.
 
If, that is, they want it back.
 
"You might find that there's not such a happy story behind that watch," said Paul Davis, president of the Delaware chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America. "It could be anything. Someone might have decided they didn't want it anymore. Or it could have been a homeless vet's watch."
 
Still, Davis connected one of his members who shares the initials on the watch with the News Journal. The veteran, who lives just a few miles from where the watch was found, had lost a watch he'd bought en route to the war. But it had disappeared in the jungle — probably fell out of his rucksack, he figured. He also didn't serve from 1967-1968.
 
Campbell remains hopeful that the story might have a happy ending.
 
"I just think it's amazing," Campbell said. "And I just think it means a whole lot to somebody. And they're probably just as lost about finding it as I am about trying to give it back."
 
So the search continues. Anyone with information on the rightful owner is asked to contact Amy Vanneman at Voices of War, which has offered to serve as the point of contact: amy@vowtour.com.
 
McMichael also reports for the (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Death tallies belie true impact of kids’ gun injuries

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Read Time:2 Minute, 35 Second
Gunshot-related injuries are well known as a leading cause of death among children and adolescents, but other aspects of the health toll they inflict get much less attention, including injury severity, the need for major surgical intervention, and high care costs, a new study says.
 
The burden of these adverse outcomes is particularly common for older adolescent males (ages 15 to 19), who accounted for the majority (83.2%) of children who suffered gunshot injuries in the study reported in November's Pediatrics, published online today.
 
The study provides "a broader look" at the disproportionate and negative effects beyond fatalities that are associated with firearm use, says emergency medicine physician Craig Newgard, lead study author.
 
"If we focus on just fatalities, we're only looking at the tip of the iceberg," says Newgard, associate professor and director of the Center for Policy and Research in Emergency Medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gunshot injuries rank second only to motor vehicle crashes as a cause of death for children ages 15 to 19. From 2001 to 2010, 29,331 children ages 0 to 19 years died of gunshot-related injuries; another 155,000 were injured seriously enough to undergo treatment in emergency departments.
 
In the new study, researchers analyzed data collected over three years on 49,983 kids and teens evaluated by emergency medical service (EMS) agencies transporting to 93 hospitals in five regions of the West — Portland, Ore./Vancouver, Wash. (four counties); King County, Wash.; Sacramento (two counties); Santa Clara, Calif. (two counties); and Denver County, Colo.
 
Gunshot wounds accounted for just 1% of injured children but were associated with 21% of deaths after injury.
 
Although the rate of gunshot-related injuries (8 per 100,000 children) was "relatively small" compared with six other causes of injuries studied (including cuts, falls and motor vehicle crashes), they had dramatically higher adverse outcomes.
 
Specifically, children wounded by gunshots had the highest proportion of serious injuries (23%), major surgeries (32%) and deaths in hospitals (8%), along with the highest acute care costs, $28,510 per patient. The next highest care costs, $15,566, were for injuries sustained from being struck by a motor vehicle.
 
"In every metric that we looked at, the front-runner far and away for worst outcome and greatest impact was gunshot-related injuries," says Newgard.
 
Given that the data used represents just five regions of the western part of the country, the findings likely underestimate the national picture, he adds.
 
Overall, "The study highlights the highly lethal nature of firearm-related injuries among children," says Patrick Carter, an emergency physician and injury researcher at the University of Michigan Injury Center in Ann Arbor. Carter was not involved in the new study.
 
It also reinforces the need for additional research into effective approaches to reduce individual and environmental risk factors along with effective public health interventions, Carter says.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. 4 boys from N.M. youth camp safe; 5 missing

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Read Time:2 Minute, 51 Second
Four of nine New Mexico teens missing from a Sierra County ranch for troubled youth are back home with their parents. But New Mexico State Police said Saturday that an AMBER Alert will remain in effect until authorities can confirm the five others are safe.
 
New Mexico's child services department confirmed Saturday that at least one teen was at his parents' home.
 
"The safety and well-being of the missing boys is our priority, and we continue to call upon the public for assistance,'' police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez tells USA TODAY.
 
State police want parents or relatives of the missing boys to contact them at 575-382-2500.
 
Gutierrez said Ryan Sibbett, 16, and Michael Rozell, 15, were back with their families.
 
New Mexico State Police confirmed late Saturday that David Easter, 17, and Charlie Lamb, 13, were also safe. Authorities are still looking for Mayson Meyers, 13, Peter Adams and Evan Kogler, both 16, and Bryce Hall and Oscar Ruiz, both 17.
 
New Mexico State Police executed a search warrant at the 30,000-acre Blanca High Country Youth Program ranch Friday. The youths were last seen with program operator Scott Chandler, who is being sought for questioning.
 
Ranch attorney Pete Domenici Jr. said in a statement Friday that the boys had been "on a previously scheduled activity away from the ranch for several days. They are safe and have already been picked up by their parents, or their parents are en route to pick them up."
 
Gutierrez says until parents or relatives confirm the teens whereabouts, the AMBER Alert will continue and police will treat the matter as an ongoing investigation.
 
"We want to find them, and we want to get this resolved," says Gutierrez.
 
The Albuquerque Journal reported last week that the state is investigating claims that teens were beaten and forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for minor violations of rules at the unlicensed program. The Journal also reported that investigators had found evidence of pervasive medical neglect, systematic emotional and psychological abuse, potential criminal sexual contact and shackling, handcuffing and hooding of children — in some cases for prolonged periods.
 
Program operators had been ordered to send the kids back to their parents or surrender them to the state.
 
Gov. Susana Martinez said Friday afternoon that officials were concerned the teens had been moved to keep them out of state custody.
 
Domenici accused the state of escalating the situation by failing to agree to an emergency hearing in a lawsuit the ranch filed earlier this week over what the suit contends was an improperly handled investigation.
 
Chandler has denied harming any children. In the lawsuit, he accused investigators of targeting the ranch for closure after a fatal car crash involving students.
 
The operators also claimed investigators have been illegally interviewing students and telling parents to pull their children from the program by Friday or face abuse charges. Their lawsuit said at least one family was contacted directly by Gov. Martinez, a claim her office denies.
 
During a press conference earlier this week, Chandler said Tierra Blanca has been operating for nearly 20 years. Its website promises a program for unmanageable kids that offers a balance of love, discipline and structure.
 
Contributing: The Associated Press

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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House Republicans yield shutdown talks to Senate

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WASHINGTON — House Republicans stepped back from budget negotiations Saturday, leaving the Senate to take the lead on reopening the federal government and avoiding a default on the nation's debt.
 
At a meeting of House Republicans on Saturday morning, top leaders said they have no new proposal to offer the White House after President Obama rejected their offer.
 
"I'm disappointed that the president has rejected the offer that we put on the table. I know that he's trying to see which Republican senator he can pick off in the Senate. I hope that the Senate Republicans stand strong so we can speak with one voice," said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., after the meeting.
 
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Obama would rather deal with the Senate because the House has a tougher negotiating position.
 
"It's now up to the Senate Republicans to stand up," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho.
 
Senate Republicans and Democrats huddled in separate private meetings on Saturday as senators in both parties were engaged in active negotiations on and off the Senate floor.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are also engaging more seriously in talks as the nation hit the 12th day of a partial government shutdown, and five days before an Oct. 17 default deadline.
 
Reid dismissed House Republicans on the Senate floor Saturday, and said negotiations between the House GOP and the White House have stalled. "That's over with. It's done. They're not talking anymore."
 
Reid is pushing a simple 15-month extension of the debt ceiling, but in a Saturday test vote, Reid's proposal did not get enough votes to bring it to the Senate floor. Reid needed 60 votes to bring the measure to the floor for debate, but only 53 senators voted to proceed.
 
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has been working with senators in both parties on a budget framework that includes a six-month stopgap funding bill through March and a debt ceiling increase through January. The extensions would give Congress breathing room to reach a broader budget agreement.
 
"I'm trying to give the House a serious option to consider. And that's been one of my goals since their first strategy was clearly a very flawed one. And so I hope that they'll take a look look at this," Collins said.
 
She added, "What we had was this absolute stalemate where people weren't talking to each other. So my plan is still subject to a lot of negotiations and discussions but at least it's gotten the conversation going."
 
Senate Democrats have not embraced Collins' framework, but negotiations were ongoing. Democrats want a higher top-line spending figure than the current $986 billion federal funding level currently embraced by Republicans.
 
The past few days have seen a flurry of negotiations between the White House and Congress as the Oct. 17 deadline on the nation's debt limit approaches. The Treasury Department has said that without congressional action to raise the debt ceiling, it will be unable to pay the nation's bills after that date.
 
The government has also been partially shutdown because Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill to provide a budget for the new fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
 
House Republicans had refused to act on the spending bill without an agreement to suspend or defund the president's signature health care law. Democrats said they would not negotiate until after the bills were passed.
 
Over the past few days, President Obama has held separate meetings with the Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate.
 
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had suggested a six-week extension of the debt ceiling, and Obama said he was open to the idea but wanted the government to be reopened as well.
 
President Obama told business leaders on a conference call Friday that he hoped a deal could be struck this weekend, but lawmakers were not optimistic that a final deal would be reached this weekend.
 
Reid emphasized Saturday that it could be catastrophic for financial markets to reopen next week with no deal done and the threat of U.S. default looming. "Everyone will lose. Not only in America, but around the world."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Pushing health care in USA’s poorest big city

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Read Time:9 Minute, 1 Second
PHILADELPHIA — Christian Hayden, all dreadlocks and do-gooderism, hesitates before knocking on yet another paint-chipped door in the Grays Ferry neighborhood. The graduate student is practicing his pitch — and the name of the group he's representing — as he tries to persuade people to sign up for the new health insurance exchange.
 
Geoffrey Baker, a classical violinist with a master's degree from Yale, is a 6' 5" guy in a rugby shirt. He's got the spiel down cold but worries some of the residents may feel a little chilly toward him. He hopes a day's growth of beard stubble will help him fit in.
 
Greg Young, a former waiter, is their leader and the only guy getting paid on this fall day. He's a field organizer for the non-profit group Enroll America, helping sell the idea of health insurance in a target-rich environment.
 
Today's door-to-door insurance salesmen may seem worlds apart from the residents of these often-tattered row houses, but they share one big thing in common. They haven't been able to afford insurance either. They face the daunting task of helping to convince the nearly 200,000 uninsured residents of Philadelphia County that they can — and should — buy it now. The new exchange's success, the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act, will hinge on whether it can meet the federal goal of 7 million enrollees, but also on whether it can sign up enough healthy younger people like these canvassers to make up for all the ailing older ones.
 
Rather than set up and market its own health insurance exchange, Pennsylvania joined 30 other states in defaulting to the federal marketplace. The state is doing some limited marketing — through e-mails and on its own health insurance website — but hasn't heard back on its request for funds to do its own outreach about the exchange and doesn't know when it will because of the government shutdown, says Rosanne Placey, spokeswoman for the state insurance commissioner.
 
The federal Department of Health and Human Services gave the state $2.7 million to aid "navigators" to help people enroll. An additional $4.2 million went to 40 community health centers to help them reach and enroll uninsured people. That compares with $24 million that the much smaller state of Maryland got from the federal government for its navigator program to use for outreach and enrollment in its state-run exchange.
 
"Given the huge challenge of reaching everyone who is eligible, we're collaborating with organizations of all kinds to stretch our resources to enroll as many people as possible," says Laura Line, corporate assistant director for health care at Resources for Human Development, the navigator group awarded the largest grant. "It's going to be hard and it certainly will be helpful to have [Pennsylvania] as a partner in this crucial first year."
 
For now, the task of getting the word out is largely left to the navigators, health clinics and guys such as Young — who recruited his parents — and volunteers struggling to make ends meet. Only three showed up for a phone bank at the YMCA on a recent Friday night to cold call area residents. It took them 215 calls to talk to 15 people and find 12 uninsured.
 
"It's a shame. A real effort is needed, and it doesn't seem like enough of an effort is being marshaled," Baker says. "It makes it seem a little bit like spitting in the wind."
 
Those behind the neighborhood doors and at a fall festival at Malcolm X Park are the residents of a hardscrabble area of the poorest large city in America, as ranked by U.S. Census data examined by The Philadelphia Inquirer and a Temple University professor this year. The area can hardly boast of any health accomplishments. Philadelphia County had the worst health score this year for the 67 Pennsylvania counties, according to an analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The ranking was based on morbidity and mortality — how long people live and how healthy they feel while they're alive.
 
"It's exacerbated by their poverty," says Natalie Levkovich, CEO of the Health Federation of Philadelphia. "They have all of the risk factors and higher rates of chronic disease."
 
The result, she says, is more than 1,300 people for every 100,000 of population are hospitalized every year for what are known as "ambulatory care sensitive hospitalizations," that is, visits that were avoidable if the person had access to health care.
 
LESSON IN MEDICAID
 
Many simply haven't signed up for Medicaid because they can't read or write — possibly in English or another language, says Bill England, Enroll America's Pennsylvania state director, or they are overwhelmed by the lengthy application and its paperwork demands.
 
Often, the job is giving a how-to lesson in obtaining Medicaid — or listening to the challenges of even getting affordable care while on the federal program. That's what happens as England runs a "tabling event" at the free festival. He hears about knees that need surgery that isn't covered; of prescription bills breaking already empty banks. The plan is to get people to sign cards saying they "commit to learning more about my health care options" and to agree to be texted or called to remind them to sign up. In the five hours England mans the table, his door-knocking team gets 31 cards signed and 11 people confirmed as uninsured in the surrounding neighborhoods.
 
The "Get Covered America" campaign isn't finding any of the opposition to the health care law that's found in many other parts of the state and country. Even one of the abandoned houses still had an Obama/Biden poster in the broken window; another had photos of President Obama at a reception posted inside a window. Almost without exception, residents opened their doors and told their stories to these soft-sell salesmen.
 
Armed with data from a vendor that supplies businesses and political campaigns, the three canvassers carry printouts of addresses most likely to belong to the uninsured. Enroll America spokesman Justin Nisly says the initial data set included 230 million people across the USA. The group surveys more than 10,000 of them and used that information "to fine-tune the model" used to predict who's most likely to be uninsured. Among the publicly available information used: age, race, marital status, approximate income, voting history and location.
 
When people say they're already on Medicaid, the canvassers stay true to their script and ask whether the young children in the house are covered by the state's CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) plan for low-income families and if there are any uninsured people in the often multigenerational households. At Sharon McCord's house, daughter LaToya is on Medicaid, son Jordan doesn't have insurance and brother Charles McCoy — who "stays here sometimes" — is both uninsured and out of work after a pipe exploded on him.
 
McCord says she "lost my career, lost my income and lost everything" after a stroke two years ago. She's on Medicaid but fills out the card with her son and brother in mind.
 
Enroll America has provided talking points, but the canvassers each deliver the message in their own style.
 
"I get right to the point because I don't want people to think i'm with the government," Baker says.
 
Hayden's pitches are more circuitous, but he doesn't give up. If they're already on Medicaid or insured, true to the script, he asks if people would be willing to distribute information about the Affordable Care Act.
 
Until he got hired by Enroll America in late August, Young was uninsured. He injured his knee and missed two weeks at the Spanish restaurant he worked at, but it healed without a doctor's visit.
 
Baker wasn't so lucky. When a minor leg injury got infected this summer, his musical income was so low he qualified for free "charity care" at a hospital. That brought him one hobbled step closer to his new calling: health insurance. He's got three applications in to work for one of the state's navigators. He's been uninsured for nine years and never goes to the doctor. He knocks on doors when he can in between gigs, which have included playing with Arlo Guthrie and Earth, Wind and Fire.
 
BULLET WOUNDS AND FOOD STAMPS
 
Jeffrey Jones, who spends the afternoon at the festival, was hit with a $13,000 hospital bill after he went to get a bullet removed from his leg.
 
Was it a stray bullet? "No, they were aiming at me, right out here," he says, pointing to the street outside the park. He lost his Medicaid during a prison stint, so he had to fend off the bill collectors.
 
"They're always calling, but they don't get anything," he says.
 
As for Hayden, he's tried to get food stamps, but his work as a mentor in grad school doesn't reach the 10 hours a week needed to qualify for them. It also doesn't give him enough money to qualify for subsidies on the exchange — Pennsylvania is one of the states that didn't expand Medicaid — or to afford insurance without the help. He hopes to get a job using his urban studies major soon — one that has health insurance.
 
England, a health care veteran who helped get CHIP enacted in the state more than 20 years ago, and Young are doing the best they can to spread the word. England has 121 volunteers in Philadelphia, and they've gotten nearly 400 people to sign commitment cards saying they want to learn more.
 
"We may go straight through to April," Young says, referring to the March 31 deadline to sign up for insurance. "We put as much into it as we can."

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Powerful Cyclone Phailin hits India; 3 dead

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Read Time:2 Minute, 50 Second
NEW DELHI — A gigantic cyclone, one of the strongest ever to hit the Bay of Bengal, pounded India's eastern cost with heavy winds and rain Saturday, as more than half a million people fled the region.
 
The Indian government reported three people died as hundreds of trees were uprooted before the eye of the storm even made landfall early evening local time. Flights, trains and shipping operations were canceled and power shut down in six districts in the coastal area.
 
The India Meteorological Department said the cyclone made landfall near Gopalpur, India, with sustained winds of 124 mph — equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.
 
Cyclone Phailin caused one of the largest evacuation operations in Indian history, with 600,000 people moved to higher ground in the coastal state of Odisha, which is expected to bear the brunt of the storm.
 
Electricity had been cut off in the entire state as a precaution, said Indian navy retired commodore A.K Patnaik, in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha, who was reached by phone before he shut it down to conserve power.
 
"It has been raining very heavily here since yesterday, the streets are flooded, and electricity was shut down this morning," he said. "The streets are empty, everyone is indoors, and people stocked up on groceries and essentials yesterday."
 
Satellite images showed the cyclone filling nearly the entire Bay of Bengal, an area larger than France that has seen the majority of the world's worst recorded storms, including a 1999 cyclone that killed 10,000.
 
"The storm has the potential to cause huge damage," L.S. Rathore, director-general of the Indian Meteorlogical Department told reporters.
 
The epicenter of the cyclone is likely to be close to the major port of Paradip in Odisha.
 
"We have stopped all cargo operations," Paradip Port Trust Chairman Sudhanshu Shekhara Mishra told the Press Trust of India (PTI), a local news agency. "We have set up control rooms and are ready with a contingency plan. We have cleared all vessels. People have been evacuated from low-lying areas."
 
The state has created 800 shelters as government workers and volunteers put together food packages for relief camps.
 
"I don't want people to panic," said Naveen Patnaik, chief minister of Odisha told PTI, calling for everyone to do their part in helping relief operations.
 
Still, some didn't want to leave their mud-and-thatch homes, particularly vulnerable to the storm.
 
"We will get over the storm," said Seetha Reddy, a fisher in Gopalpur who was reluctant to leave her house but was forced by the police to shift to a shelter, told the Hindustan Times.
 
More than 60,000 people from the low-lying areas of neighboring Andhra Pradesh state had been evacuated. The sea has already pushed inland as much as 130 feet in parts of that state, officials said.
 
Some locals were at a loss.
 
"I wanted to go back (home), but I have no money," Dinga Ram, a laborer working at the port and who is from a state hundreds of miles north of it, told the Hindustan Times. "I do not know what to do."

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Overrated ‘Gravity’ Is Worst Sci-Fi Film of All Time

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Read Time:2 Minute, 31 Second
After hearing all the hype, I finally spent $10 at my local cinema and watched Gravity last night. I want my money back.
 
This new space "thriller" starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock is probably the most overrated movie in history, or at least since that god-awful lesbian propaganda film Thelma and Louise.
 
First of all, I walked into the theater expecting this to be a buddy comedy, a sort of Beverly Hills Cop in space. But Gravity isn't funny and George Clooney dies like five minutes into the movie. I know this Alfonso Cuarón character is supposed to be some sort of genius, but the dude doesn't know the first thing about directing a hilarious action flick. (Protagonists can't die, dumbshit.)
 
Without the odd couple dynamic and crime-fighting antics, Gravity is basically the chick from Speed floating around in space for an hour and a half. Only unlike in Speed, the female lead is over-the-hill with saggy tits and a facelift not even a zero-gravity environment can save.
 
 
A lot of ink has been spilled saying how this movie's lack of dialogue makes it more of a visual experience. This is true. But if I'm going to spend 90 minutes staring at a screen,  I think I should have a decent under-30 body to look at. Why couldn't they have cast Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Lawrence or Amanda Seyfried? Hell, I would have taken Kat Dennings over Bullock's haggard ass.
 
But a shortage of young T&A isn't this movie's biggest problem. Halfway into this thing I kept asking myself, where are all the fucking aliens? Movies in space are supposed to have aliens. Big green monsters can serve  both as scary antagonists and zany comic relief.
 
The best sci-fi film ever made, Mars Attacks, brilliantly used aliens in both roles. And even that gigantic turd of a film 2001: A Space Odyssey had aliens. (Although admittedly I had to watch it three times to be sure.)
 
Another issue with this movie is that it throws realism right out the airlock. Are we seriously supposed to believe that in a struggle for survival, a woman can outlast a man? For that matter, since when do we even let women do work in space? Everyone knows their menstrual cycles go haywire the closer they are to the moon.
 
Personally, I would have paired George Clooney with a sexy NFL cheerleader who won a trip into space on the NASA space shuttle on a reality show competition. Just as sparks start to fly between the two — BOOM — disaster strikes and the sexy duo have to save the world to save themselves. It's Apollo 13 meets Bring It On. That's how you do a sci-fi movie. 
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Phoenix airport screening draws angry complaints

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Read Time:5 Minute, 17 Second
PHOENIX — An 82-year-old woman in a wheelchair reaches the front of the security-screening line at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport's Terminal 4 as she waits to board a flight to London on a Friday evening in June 2012.
 
The metal detector beeps over her chest. She explains she has a prosthesis. She'd opted out of reconstructive surgery after the breast cancer.
 
Transportation Security Administration agents take the woman to a room and order her to take off her blouse. Then her bra. Then her prosthesis, which they examine. The elderly woman strips to her waist, with nothing to hide her scars.
 
"At her age and physical capability she posed absolutely no risk whatsoever to anyone's safety and should not have been subjected to such invasive and (undignified) treatment," the woman's grandchild wrote in a formal complaint. "This sort of degrading treatment is more appropriate for prisoners."
 
This was just one of 26 complaints filed on behalf of people with disabilities at Sky Harbor's checkpoints in 2012, according to records recovered by The Arizona Republic under the Freedom of Information Act.
 
The documents show that the number of such complaints more than doubled in 2012 from 11 in 2011. And the 2012 figure is about 2 1/2 times the national average. The government withheld the names of those who complained to protect their privacy.
 
The Republic requested the complaints after a high-profile incident in March. A Marine who'd lost both his legs in an Afghanistan bomb attack said he was asked to stand up on his artificial legs to pass through the full-body scanner at Terminal 4. TSA refuted that claim and showed partial airport video footage supporting the government's version.
 
Eight of the complaints since 2011 involved women who had survived breast cancer. Their stories were similar.
 
One woman wrote that an agent ordered a pat down of her prosthetic breast and refused to conduct the search in private, before a flight in May 2012.
 
"She made me pull it out in front of the world. When I got upset I was told to shut up. I have never been so humiliated in my life," the woman wrote. "The TSA has overstepped their bounds and ruined my vacation."
 
Two weeks earlier, another passenger wrote that TSA agents twice patted down her breast in as many weeks.
 
"Since this has occurred at two different checkpoints on two different dates, TSA clearly must have a procedure in place (that) requires that women with breast prosthesis to be singled out and treated in this cruel and humiliating manner," the woman wrote.
 
There is no record that the TSA responded to the second woman. When it does, it's usually a form letter.
 
"Thank you for your recent e-mail," most begin. "We apologize for any insensitivity or inappropriate treatment you experienced during the screening process." Most cases were labeled "closed" without explanation of any action or discipline taken.
 
It's unclear how passenger screening at Sky Harbor stacks up next to other individualU.S. airports. A little more than 20 million travelers boarded planes at Sky Harbor in 2012.
 
TSA officials were unavailable for comment due to the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.
 
It is not just breast-cancer survivors who shared their Sky Harbor horror stories.
 
People with artificial joints, with insulin, with other life-saving medication, with pacemakers and spinal-cord stimulators, and those confined to wheelchairs all reported mistreatment.
 
They complained of being forced to stand, of medicine being seized with dangerous results and of painful or humiliating pat downs.
 
A man with an enlarged prostate, returning from a recent exam, complained a TSA agent hit him in the genitals with the metal detector.
 
One passenger described how he carried daily insulin shots and fast-acting booster shots onto a flight in 2011. Although the medicine was properly labeled and kept in a clear ziplock bag, TSA agents insisted on running the passenger's bags through the X-ray machine twice. Diabetic passengers complained that X-rays can damage their insulin. That's what thepassenger complained of, noting that blood-glucose levels shot up to dangerous levels after the flight and could have resulted in a diabetic coma.
 
A woman on a layover in January says she was in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank and was transferring planes when agents drew their guns on her and called her a terrorist. Agents accused her of smuggling contraband. When she returned home, all of her prescribed pain pills had been confiscated, she reported.
 
A 92-year-old man with childhood polio was ordered out of his wheelchair to stand up in the body-scanning machine. His grandson reported overhearing one TSA screener shout: "Find out if he has his knees and hips. If he does, then there is no reason he can't stand."
 
The TSA's policy is clear.
 
"Passengers with prostheses can be screened without removing them," the TSA advises on its website.
 
TSA posts advisories on its Website, and explanations of its procedures on a dedicated blog site.
 
The TSA blog noted for instance that in late 2011 the agency launched TSA Cares, a hotline to advise passengers with special medical needs in advance of their travel.
 
Other postings explained that agents inspect wheelchairs because they've founded loaded firearms in them.
 
In November 2011, after a passenger's urine bag broke during a pat-down at Detroit's airport, the TSA blogged:
 
"When our officers are hired, they are given extensive training on screening passengers with disabilities and they continue to receive recurring training throughout their career. TSA has established a coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help us understand the concerns of persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These groups have assisted TSA with integrating the unique needs of persons with disabilities into our airport operations."

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Police: Search on for 9 boys from N.M. youth camp

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HILLSBORO, N.M. (AP) — The search for nine teenagers reported missing from a ranch for troubled youth is moving forward Saturday, authorities said, despite claims from the facility's attorney that the boys were OK and being taken back to their parents.
 
Until officers can "visually confirm the children are safe or in confidence know that" the search will continue and the Amber Alert issued for the boys will stand, New Mexico State Police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said Friday night.
 
The search comes after the Albuquerque Journal reported last week that state authorities were investigating claims that teenage boys were beaten and forced to wear leg shackles and handcuffs for minor violations of rules at the unlicensed program.
 
A search warrant was executed Friday as part of the investigation of abuse at the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Program, located at a 30,000-acre compound in high desert country, about seven miles from Hillsboro. Officials said that the teens, ages 13 and 17, weren't at the property in Sierra County, nor was program operator Scott Chandler, who has been named a person of interest in the case.
 
Ranch attorney Pete Domenici Jr. said in a statement Friday that the boys had been "on a previously scheduled activity away from the ranch for several days. They are safe and have already been picked up by their parents, or their parents are en route to pick them up."
 
Domenici accused the state of escalating the situation by failing to agree to an emergency hearing in a lawsuit the ranch filed earlier this week over what the suit contends was an improperly handled investigation.
 
However, authorities issued an Amber Alert for the teenager minutes after Domenici's statement was released.
 
Program operators had been ordered to send the kids back to their parents or surrender them to the state after staff members were accused of beating and shackling students.
 
The operators of the ranch, Scott and Collette Chandler, deny any children have been harmed. And they filed a lawsuit earlier this week accusing investigators of targeting the ranch for closure following a fatal car crash involving students.
 
The operators also claimed investigators have been illegally interviewing students and telling parents to pull their children from the program by Friday or face abuse charges. Their lawsuit said at least one family was contacted directly by Gov. Susana Martinez, a claim her office denies.
 
During a press conference earlier this week Chandler said Tierra Blanca has been operating for nearly 20 years. Its website promises a program for unmanageable kids that offers a balance of love, discipline and structure.
 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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U.S. Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon to reopen

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Read Time:5 Minute, 16 Second
New York and Arizona announced Friday night they are dipping into their state coffers to pay to reopen the iconic Statue of Liberty and Grand Canyon, federally operated parks in their states that have been shuttered as a result of the partial government shutdown.
 
The announcements by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, come on the same day that the governors of Utah and Colorado said they would use state money to temporarily reopen national parks in their states.
 
A fifth state, South Dakota, announced Friday that it recruited more than a dozen businesses, civic groups and individuals to donate the $15,200 per day it costs to operate Mount Rushmore. The monument will open Monday.
 
New York reached an agreement with the Department of Interior to pay $369,000 to pay for operations — run by the National Park Service — from Saturday through Oct. 17.
 
"As the shutdown continues, we cannot afford to lose the thousands of visits to the park each day," Cuomo said. "So while the dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, D.C., has failed to keep this important state asset open, New York is stepping up to take over this responsibility."
 
The Grand Canyon National Park will reopen Saturday under the terms of a deal Brewer reached late Friday with federal officials.
 
The state will pay $651,000, covering a week's worth of costs for reopening the entire park. The money will come from a mix of state and "other" dollars, Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said, including funds contributed by Tusayan businesses.
 
The state of Colorado announced Friday it will spend more than $360,000 to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park through Oct. 20, while Utah will open five of the state's national parks Saturday at a cost of $1.67 million.
 
The decision by governors to kick in funds to keep national parks open in their states came after the Obama administration announced Thursday that it would allow states to pay to reopen any of the country's 401 National Park Service managed properties.
 
Utah was the first state to take the administration up on its offer and wired the money to the National Park Service on Friday morning to reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks. The state is also paying to reopen the federally operated Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
 
The state estimates its national parks would bring in $100 million to Utah's economy in October.
 
"I was so anxious to do something, because this is a kind of seasonal work for people in Utah," Utah's Republican Gov. Gary Herbert told USA TODAY. "You miss October, it's not like you can make it up in January. It's like missing the Christmas holiday season."
 
More than 80,000 visitors were turned away from Rocky Mountain National Park during the first 10 days of the shutdown, and the economy lost out on about $4.8 million in visitor spending, according to a report by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. Colorado will spend about $40,000 per day to keep the park open. Colorado's tourism traffic also took a hit last month because of devastating floods in the state.
 
"This reopening is critical to ongoing recovery efforts after last month's flooding," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.
 
Utah is using emergency funds from the state's Department of Natural Resources to pay to reopen the national parks, according to Herbert's office. National Park Service workers at Utah parks were alerted to return to work Thursday night and began returning to their posts Friday morning.
 
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell agreed Thursday to let the states foot the bill to reopen the parks but on the condition that they bring back park service employees and reopen the parks entirely.
 
"This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Colorado during this shutdown," Jewell said in a statement Friday. "We want to reopen all of our national parks as quickly as possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government."
 
In Utah, the decision to cover the costs — even though it remains uncertain whether the state will be reimbursed by the federal government once the shutdown ends — was an easy one to make considering how big of a blow the closures have been on the state's economy.
 
Ben Patel, general manager of the Pioneer Lodge near Zion, said the shutdown has dropped his occupancy to less than 50% during a time of year when the lodge is typically fully booked.
 
"The day they open, the guests will start rolling in. Once word spreads, we'll get people coming in," he said.
 
Jan Huber, a tourist from Freiburg, Germany, visiting Utah this week, said an open park over the weekend would at least partially make up for a week spent scrambling to find alternatives to the national parks she had planned on visiting.
 
"We have been so unfortunate; it would be very good to finally get into (a park)," Huber said.
 
Herbert said the state is prepared to pay for more than 10 days if needed. He expects the federal government will reimburse the state once the government reopens — noting that the federal government repaid states that reopened national parks during the government shutdown in 1995. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced legislation on Friday that calls for reimbursing states for paying for national parks operations once the shutdown ends.
 
"I hope this is not the new normal," Herbert said of the government shutdown. "I see a lack of leadership, and I think blame can be spread around on both sides of the aisle, and I think the president needs to step up and lead. "

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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