Monday, March 8, 2010

Notes From All Over

Haiti Frees US Missionary; Group Leader Held

One of two U.S. Baptist missionaries still held on kidnapping charges in Haiti was released Monday, but the group's leader remained in custody.

Charisa Coulter was taken from her jail cell to the airport by U.S. Embassy staff more than a month after she and nine other Americans were arrested for trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the earthquake.

Defense attorney Louis Ricardo Chachoute said she was released because there was no evidence to support the charges of kidnapping and criminal association. He predicted Laura Silsby, the leader of the Idaho-based missionary group, would be released soon as well.

The Americans, most from Idaho, were detained on Jan. 29 while trying to leave the country without proper documents to remove the children. Their arrest came as Haitian authorities were trying to crack down on unauthorized adoptions to prevent child trafficking in the chaos following the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake.

Silsby initially said the children were orphaned in a quake that the government said has killed more than 230,000 people. But it was later found that the children had been given away by still-living parents.

Chachoute said the Americans had only come to Haiti to help the country. "Firstly, there was no criminal conspiracy; secondly, there was no child snatching," he said. The group planned to take the children to the neighboring Dominican Republic to an orphanage Silsby was creating in a former hotel.

The judge released eight of the Americans on Feb. 17 after concluding the parents voluntarily gave up their children in the belief that the Americans would give them a better life. But he decided that he still had additional questions for Silsby and Coulter.

Oldest Person In US Dies At Age 114

Mary Josephine Ray, the New Hampshire woman who was certified as the oldest person living in the United States, has died at age 114 years, 294 days.

She died Sunday at a nursing home in Westmoreland but was active until about two weeks before her death, her granddaughter Katherine Ray said.

Ray was the oldest person in the United States and the second-oldest in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group. She was also recorded as the oldest person ever to live in New Hampshire.

The oldest living American is now Neva Morris, of Ames, Iowa, at age 114 years, 216 days. The oldest person in the world is Japan's Kama Chinen at age 114 years, 301 days.

Ray was born May 17, 1895, in Bloomfield, Prince Edward Island, Canada. She moved to the United States at age 3.

She lived for 60 years in Anson, Maine. She lived in Florida, Massachusetts and elsewhere in New Hampshire before she moved to Westmoreland in 2002 to be near her children.

Ray's husband, Walter, died in 1967. Survivors include two sons, eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Morris, the Iowa woman now believed to be the oldest U.S. resident, lives at a care center. Only one of her four children, a son in Sioux City, is still alive.

Ritalin May Make Learning Easier

Ritalin, a stimulant often used to treat attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder may also help the brain learn more quickly, according to a new study in animals.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco said in a news release that they found the drug can improve both focus and learning by strengthening connections in the brain, a characteristic known as plasticity.

Dr. Antonello Bonci, who led the study, said it could lead to the development of drugs that do a better job.

In the research, rats were trained that they could get sugar water when the saw a flash of light and heard a sound. Animals on Ritalin were compared to those who were not.

Those on Ritalin learned much better, the news release said, though it did not give information on how strong the effect was.

Sometimes, research that seems promising in animals does not translate to people, but the researchers said that they used doses comparable to those used in children.

Part of the research also involved researchers blocking certain dopamine receptors in the brain to find out exactly where Ritalin had its effect.

Preacher Loses Half His Body Weight

A preacher who lost more than 300 pounds hopes his example will help others get healthy, WAPT-TV in Jackson, Miss., reported.

At 56 years old, Rickard Kight weighed 500 pounds. He realized something had to change. His blood pressure was 265/260; 120/80 is normal.

In one day, he said, he would eat a dozen eggs, a pack of bacon, ham, a loaf of bread, a bag of Ruffles, a box of graham crackers, ice cream and a 12 pack of Coke.

Two years ago, Kight had gastric bypass surgery to shrink his stomach. Since then, he's lost 300 pounds by walking, eating healthy foods and eating less.

"When you eat extra but are not burning it off, all of that is going to excess weight, and it's a major problem in Mississippi," nutritionist Urmila Mota said. She added a healthy lifestyle starts at a young age.

It's not just the weight, but the social issues that come with it - depression usually follows obesity, according to Mota. That's an issue Kight said he dealt with when he weighed 500 pounds. That's another reason he's determined not to go back.

AP; University of California, San Francisco; Reuters; WAPT-TV, Jackson, Mississippi.

1 comment:

VoteNovember2008 said...

WOW, I thought I had an emotional eating disorder! LOL VN8