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Monday, April 12, 2010

An 81-Year-Old Foster Son?

CBS Evening News
April 12, 2010

New Program Pairs Veterans Who Would Be in a Nursing Home with Families Who Are Willing to Take Them In

(CBS) Just outside Tampa, Fla., CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman found the story of an odd couple - a wonderful inspiring odd couple.

The house actually belongs to a sweetheart of a man named Rick Heady. Rick is a foster parent, of sorts - his foster "kid" just happens to be 81, and gruff as all get-out.

"What did you do in the Marine Corps?" Hartman asked.

"Kill people," Charles Dowling said.

"But you survived to live another day," Hartman said.

"To kill again," Dowling said.

"Well you're a lovely, lovely man," Hartman said, laughing.

"Bulls-t," Dowling said.

He actually is pretty wonderful, once you get to know him. Dowling served in Korea and Vietnam, and later became a drill sergeant - putting in close to 30 years with the Marines. Until recently he was living in a nursing home - destined for hospice - but then this total stranger came forward and offered to take him in.

"I'm not going to let our veterans, our veterans, be forgotten," Heady said.

That's a belief shared by all these people who are part of a new Veteran's Affairs program called the Medical Foster Home program. It pairs vets who would otherwise be in a nursing home with civilians who are willing to take them into their homes instead.

"It takes a special caregiver who is really able to open their homes and their hearts to the veterans and it's not easy," said Beau Williams with Veterans Affairs.

Williams said medical foster homes are now in 34 states and within a few years could be in all 50. It's partly because nursing homes average about $6,000 a month, while this only costs about half that. The money goes to caregivers like Heady, who quit his job as a sales manager to do this.

"Not only is it cost effective but more importantly the veterans feel like their part of a family, they receive love," Williams said. "They receive a lot of attention, a lot of care."

As for what the care giver gets out of it - let's just say Heady has found the experience so rewarding he recently took in a second veteran.

"He's helped me vastly in recovery," said Clayton Smith.

Smith was in the Air Force when he got hit by a truck and suffered a brain injury. They were going to put him in a nursing home, too, until Heady stepped up.

"Rick is A-OK," Smith said.

That's glowing praise from a drill sergeant - and more than enough reward for Rick.

"This is what I'll do until the day I retire," Heady said. "It's that good."

Good for him, and good for America.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Astronauts 'Ready to Rock 'N' Roll' on Spacewalk 2

Published: April 10, 2010

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Two of the astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle-station complex rested up Saturday for a second spacewalk involving hefty storage tanks, while their colleagues unloaded much smaller supplies.

Spacemen Clayton Anderson and Rick Mastracchio will head back outside early Sunday to replace an old ammonia tank at the International Space Station. They started the job Friday. In all, three spacewalks will be needed to complete the work.

The ammonia tanks -- part of the space station's cooling system -- are the size of refrigerators.

In an interview Saturday, Anderson said one day is enough time to rest between spacewalks. He said he often played baseball doubleheaders and basketball games on back-to-back days.

''We're in pretty good shape for old men,'' he said, ''and I think we'll be ready to rock 'n' roll.''

Anderson is 51, and Mastracchio is 50.

Both are members of space shuttle Discovery's visiting crew. They have another week at the space station before departing.

Discovery arrived Wednesday with tons of spare parts and science experiments for the space station. Much of that was in a cargo carrier that was attached temporarily to the station. One of the big-ticket items being transported Saturday was a darkroom-type enclosure for the U.S. lab's high-quality window, designed to improve picture-taking.

The moving operation was interrupted early Saturday when a smoke alarm went off in the Russian living quarters. The seven shuttle astronauts rushed to their ship, and the six station residents gathered near their Russian Soyuz return capsules as per emergency procedures. Within two or three minutes, it was evident it had been a false alarm and the two crews went back to what they were doing.

The alarm was set off by dust kicked up while the crew was cleaning filters, said flight director Ron Spencer.

Like many at NASA, the astronauts in orbit are anxiously awaiting President Barack Obama's upcoming space policy speech. Obama will visit Kennedy Space Center on Thursday and discuss the future of NASA's human spaceflight program.

In February, Obama canceled NASA's effort to return astronauts to the moon and placed added emphasis on the development of new technologies. He also extended the working life of the space station to 2020.

Only three shuttle missions remain after this one. When the fleet is retired this fall, the space station essentially will be complete. Thousands of jobs will be lost when that happens, many of them at Florida's shuttle launch and landing site.

''Life is full of changes, and change is hard,'' Anderson said. ''We'll just have to see how it all falls out.''

Added Mastracchio: ''No matter which direction we take, I think NASA's going to be a big contributor to technologies and new ideas and manned spaceflight.''


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Russia To Introduce Death Penalty for Terrorism?

The terrorist attacks in Moscow subway and explosions in Kizlyar have revived a dormant discussion about toughening the responsibility for terrorists and their accomplices. Representatives of relevant committees of the State Duma and the Public Chamber told what legal tools could be used to fight this evil.

In the last few days several large-scale terrorist attacks ripped through Russia. Female suicide bombers set off explosive devices in Moscow subway at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations. As a result, 39 people died and over 90 were injured.

In a Dagestan city of Kizlyar on March 31st another twin explosions targeting law enforcement officers were set off. As a result of the explosion equal to 200 kilograms of TNT, 12 people died, including Vitaly Vedernikov, head of the city Department of Internal Affairs. Both explosions in Moscow and Kizlyar were set off by suicide bombers.

The reaction was quick. The State Duma and the Public Chamber raised an issue of introducing death penalty as a capital punishment for terrorist attacks resulting in death of people. There were new requests to suspend the moratorium for death penalty for criminals who committed serious crimes.

In 1996, before joining the European Council, Russia undertook a number of obligations, including abolishment of death penalty. Although the protocol for banning death penalty has not been yet ratified, the moratorium for capital punishment is in effect.

Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the Communist Party, was among the first officials to suggest reenactment of the capital punishment for terrorists. “We stated long time ago that the country is not ready for the ban. The country has to reenact death penalty for serious crimes. It is hard to imagine a worse crime than the one committed on Monday,” he said. He believes that those who financed and ordered this crime, and “programmed people who go and eliminate other people without thinking twice” should be punished in the first place.

The Federation Council picked up the idea. Anatoly Lysakov, head of the Legal committee of the Federation Council, told journalists that in the near future amendments will be made in the existing criminal legislation stipulation death penalty for organization and implementation of terrorist attacks.

Alexei Alexandrov, chair of the Federation Council Constitutional Legislation committee, clarified that introduction of a new article of the Criminal Code providing for death penalty will not mean that the moratorium will be suspended. “An article of the Criminal Code is one thing, and moratorium is a law enforcement practice, it is a completely different thing,” he explained.

Alexander Moskalets, First Deputy of the Committee on Constitutional Law and State Construction, told that life sentence is a bigger punishment for suicide bombers than death penalty. “Executors of terrorist attacks are suicide bombers. It sounds cynical, but life sentence is better for them. The Criminal Code does not have a capital punishment other than death penalty. Today we encounter situations where human life turns into a crime implementation technology.”

Nikolai Leonov, former head of the KGB analytical department, also spoke about hopelessness of death penalty introduction. “They are suicide bombers, they choose death penalty themselves. Therefore, death penalty does not mean anything for them. It is a vain pursuit. Do not suggest things that are obviously unnecessary.”

Pavel Krasheninnikov, head of the State Duma's Civil, Criminal, Arbitration and Procedural Law Committee agrees with Moskalets and Leonov. “It is pointless to introduce death penalty because suicide bombers are looking for death. It will not hold them back,” he said, mentioning that life sentence was sufficient.

He also said that those with life sentence do not say anything for the first couple of years, but later they can reveal useful information, and not only about their own crimes. “At the moment we have to make every effort to solve crimes and prevent terrorism, “he is convinced.

Andrei Przhezdomsky, a member of the commission of Public Chamber of the Russian Federation on public control over activity of law enforcement bodies, believes that the situation requires toughening of the punishment for terrorism because “struggle with terrorism in on the agenda.”

“For many years we cannot win over this evil. Despite the fact that military actions in the Northern Caucasus are over, terrorists are still very active.”

Andrei Przhezdomsky mentions that as of now, there is no direct anti-terrorist cooperation between the countries-members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, there is no full-fledged database of terrorist attacks and terrorists themselves.
“This significantly hinders the struggle. We need to activate opposition to terrorism by toughening sanctions and actively cooperating with our colleagues in other countries, “he said.

“Prevention of terrorist attacks should be implemented through investigative activities regulating the work of security agencies. The President is absolutely right that prevention of terrorist attacks should be conducted within the legislative field and support of the legislation regarding investigative activity.”

It is worth mentioning that the issues of toughening the responsibility for terrorists were also discussed at the meeting of the Russia’s Security Council on Wednesday. In particular, President Dmitry Medvedev suggested thinking about correcting anti-terrorist legislation. “It makes sense to analyze certain articles, including article on terrorism and see how criminal prosecution is implemented in terms of terrorist acts,” he said. He added that it is necessary to pay attention to prevention activities, including those that involve legal tools.

Maxim Bogatykh

Two Explosions Rip Through Moscow Metro. At least 34 Killed
Two explosions ripped through the Moscow metro in the morning of March 29. At least 32 were killed on the Lubyanka station at about 7:56 a.m. when a bomb blew up in a car of the metro train. The second explosion took place at 8:39 at the Park Kultury station. At least 15 were killed, over 20 were injured.

Timetable of terror

Evgeniya Chaykovskaya
Moscow Metro attacks - minute by minute

07:52 Explosion at Lubyanka station in central Moscow. Two carriages were destroyed, 24 people dead, 39 injured.

08:30 Evacuation of Lubyanka station completed.

08:36. Explosion at Park Kultury station in the third wagon of the train. 12 people dead, 23 injured.

09:05 Criminal investigation into terrorist attacks opened.

09:10 FSB head Alexander Bortnikov informs President Dmitry Medvedev of the explosions.

09:15 Prosecutor's Office employees start work at the scenes of the attacks.

09:15 Traffic police advise people not to drive into the city centre.

09:25 Traffic in Moscow paralysed because of the explosions.

09:30 Prosecutor General Yury Chaika says he will control the investigation personally.

09:39 More than 70 ambulances took injured commuters from the blast sites.

09:50 Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov arrives at Park Kultury station. Head of Traffic police Sergei Kazantsev, head of Mosgortrans Pyotr Ivanov and the leaders of Moscow Emercom are all there. No less than 100 fire engines are at Park Kultury station. Movement of transport on Sadovoye Koltso is restricted.

09:56 Moscow police switch to an intensified schedule, working both on finding the people responsible and preventing any further attacks.

10:06 An airmobile hospital is set up next to Park Kultury.

10:21 Mobile phone lines in Moscow collapse under the increased volume of calls.

10:26 The explosions were intended to cause more casualties, says Luzhkov.

10:33 Sergei Shoigy, head of the emergency services, reported to Medvedev on the attacks.

10:55 More than 50 Muscovites apply for help after nervous breakdowns.

11:09 Rail station and airport security increased.

11:31 Metro services on the affected lines to be restored in 3.5 hours after all checks are done.

11:35 The Serbsky institute opens a hotline for those affected by the explosions.

11:41 Additional security measures introduced on the St. Petersburg metro.

11:49 Investigators announce that plastic explosives were used at Park Kultury, about 1.5kg of TNT. Video footage from surveillance cameras is taken for police scrutiny.

12:03 The State Duma should hold a parliamentary investigation of the explosions, thinks Lyubov Sliska, Vice Speaker of Duma.

12:07 Half of those injured in the explosions are said to be in a serious condition.

12:09 The prosecutor's office announces it is investigating a theory that terrorist groups from Caucasus are responsible for the explosions.

12:10 No children were caught up in the blasts, officials report.

12:06 Russian Railways increases passenger and baggage control on the train stations.

12:15 Details are circulated of two women wanted for questioning in connection with helping the bombers, Interfax reports.

12:17 Fragments of an alleged suicide bomber's body found on Park Kultury.

12:19 The terrorists used explosive devices without shells, investigators say.

12:21 Rosaviation demands tighter security measures at all airports in Russia.

12:22 Emercom psychologists start work with the injured.

12:23 Riot police officers, some of them with dogs, patrol metro entrances.

12:28 NATO and EU denounce the terrorist acts.

12:34 Terrorists may be identified as their faces were not harmed in the explosion, says Vladimir Markin.

12:40 Moscow Metro was almost empty after the explosions, taxis reportedly charge up to 10 times the usual fares.

12:42 Medvedev announces a meeting on dealing with the consequences of the explosions.

12:46 The number of confirmed injuries rose to 64.

12:50 Medvedev demanded tighter security control in the country.

12:52 Park Kultury circle station entrance opened. The radial line remains closed

13:08 A North Caucasus terror group may be responsible for the explosions, FSB chief Bortnikov said in a meeting with the President.

13:16 Hexogen used in the explosions, said the FSB.

13:33 Lists of the dead and injured published on Emercom website.

13:44 Announcement of a day of mourning in Moscow on Tuesday.

14:07 The two women that helped the bombers are said to have Slavic appearance.

14:08 Emercom starts moving the bodies out of Lubyanka station.

14:41 Emercom starts moving the bodies out of Park Kultury station.

17:13 The number of victims rose to 38 people. 22 of them were identified, 19 men and 3 women.