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February 18, 2010 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-02-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 3A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 3A

Text messaging is
cause of teen death,
police officers say
Police say a Grand Rapids-area
teenager killed in a traffic accident
was exchanging text messages with
his girlfriend at the time.
Ottawa County sheriff's Sgt.
Steve Austin says investigation and
interviews showed 18-year-old Eric
Helm was texting before the Jan.12
crash in Georgetown Township
The Jenison High School student
died after his vehicle crossed into
oncoming traffic on a curve and
collided with a pickup truck.
Austin tells The Grand Rapids
Press he believes Helm was dis-
tracted by texting and failed to
negotiate the curve.
A proposal to ban sending or
receiving text messages while driv-
ing is pending in the state Legisla-
ture. More than half the states have
banned at least some drivers from
sending text messages, according
to the National Conference of State
Calif. research
shows pot can ease
muscle spasms
The first U.S. clinical trials in
more than two decades on the
medical benefits of marijuana
confirm pot is effective in reduc-
ing muscle spasms associated
with multiple sclerosis and pain
caused by certain neurological
injuries or illnesses, according to
a report issued yesterday.
Igor Grant, a psychiatrist who
directs the Center for Medicinal
Cannabis Research.at the Univer-
sity of California, San Diego, said
five studies funded by the state
involved volunteers who were
randomly given real marijuana or
placebos to determine if the herb
provided relief not seen from tra-
ditional medicines.
"There is good evidence now
that cannabinoids may be either
an adjunct or a first-line treat-
ment," Grant said at a news con-
ference where he presented the
President phones
outerspace from
White House
Outer space? President Barack
Obama is onthe phone for you.
" Yesterday, Obama telephoned
astronauts aboard the Interna-
tional Space Station and praised
the work being done some 200
miles above the Earth. He also
told astronauts that he wants to
continue to invest in NASA even
- as the current fleet of space shut-
tles is nearing retirement.
"The amazing work that's being
done on the International Space
Station, not only by our Ameri-
can astronauts - but also our col-
leaguesfromJapanandRussia- is
just a testimony to human ingenu-

ity, a testimony to the extraordi-
nary skill and courage that you
guys bring to bear, and it's also a
testimony to why continued space
exploration is so important - and
is part of the reason why my com-
mitment to NASA is unwavering,"
Obama said into the phone while.
looking at live video piped back
into the Roosevelt Room.
U. S. maybe to blame
for hungry Somalis
U.S. restrictions designed to
stop terrorists in Somalia from
diverting aid are hurting humani-
tarian operations in the lawless
Horn of Africa country, U.N. offi-
cials said yesterday.
U.N. agencies have not seen any
evidence from the American govern-
ment that food aid is being diverted
to Islamists fightingthe U.N.-backed
Somali government, said the top U.N.
humanitarian official for Somalia,
Mark Bowden.
"What we are seeing is a politi-
cization of humanitarian issues,"
Bowden told journalists in the
Kenyan capital of Nairobi. "The
options for a lot of Somalis look
pretty bleak."
The U.S. reduced its funding to
Somalia last year after its Office of
Foreign Assets Control expressed
fear that the extended supply line
and insurgent-heavy areas where
aid agencies were operating meant
aid could be diverted to a group
with links to al-Qaida.
-Compiled from
Daily wire reports

Haiti frees

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda speaks during a press conference in Tokyo yesterday. Toyota is looking into possible
power steering problems with its Corolla subcompact.
Safety concerns for
Toyota owners, mount
with faulty steering

Judge releases eight
of the 10 Americans
held in country
(AP) - Eight American mission-
aries were freed from a Haitian
jail yesterday, nearly three weeks
after being charged with kidnap-
ping for trying to take a group of
children out of the quake-stricken
The eight - looking bedraggled
and sweaty - walked out of the Hai-
tian jail escorted by U.S. diplomats
just after dusk. They waited until
they were safely inside a white van
before flashing smiles, waving and
giving a thumbs up to reporters.
Hours earlier, judge Bernard
Saint-Vil told The Associated
Press that eight of the 10 mis-
sionaries were free to leave with-
out bail or other conditions after
parents testified they voluntarily
handed their children over to the
"The parents of the kids made
statements proving that they can
be released," he said, adding that
still wants to question the group's
leader and her nanny.
The group planned to fly out
of Haiti late yesterday, defense
attorneyAviolFleurantsaid. Their
destination was not immediately

known. Kimberly Flowers at the
U.S. Embassy would not confirm
that the Americans were leaving
on a U.S. government chartered
plane, citing privacy law. She said
that as U.S. citizens, they were
entitled to evacuation flights.
The missionaries, most from
two Baptist churches in Idaho,
are accused of trying to take 33
Haitian children to the Domini-
can Republic on Jan. 29 without
proper documents. Their deten-
tions came just as aid officials
were urging a halt to short-cut
adoptions in the wake of the
The missionaries say they were
on a humanitarian mission to res-
cue child quake victims by tak-
ing them to a hastily prepared
orphanage in the Dominican
Republic and have denied accusa-
tions of trafficking.
Group leader Laura Silsby orig-
inally said they were taking only
orphaned and abandoned chil-
drenbutreporters found that sev-
eral of the children were handed
over to the group by their parents,
who said the hoped the Baptists
would give them a better life.
Saint-Vil said he still wants to
question Silsby and nanny Charisa
Coulter about their visit to Haiti in
December before the earthquake,
but he asked for Coulter tobe hos-
pitalized because of her diabetes.

Automaker faces
new round of
difficulties after gas
pedals, brakes recall
it was gas pedals, then brakes.
Now Toyota and the government
are looking into complaints that
the popular Corolla is difficult to
steer straight, raising a new safety
concern ahead of next week's con-
gressional hearing about the auto-
makers recalls.
But how worried should drivers
be? Or is this an example of how
any problem at the Japanese com-
pany now gets intense scrutiny?
The executive in charge of
quality control said the company
is reviewing fewer than 100 com-
plaints about power steering in
the Corolla. Toyota sold nearly 1.3
million Corollas worldwide last
year, including nearly 300,000 in
the United States, where it trailed
only Camry as Toyota's most pop-
ular model.
The executive, Shinichi Sasaki,
said drivers may feel as though
From Page 1A
introduction of foreign bone mar-
row into the body, manifests itself
in liver damage and GI tract dam-
age. Bone marrow transplants are
used to treat sickle cell anemia, leu-
kemia, lymphoma and other blood
University researchers recently
discovered that a protein, elafin,
may be used to identify whether
patients with rashes have GVHD.
Elafin - which can be detected
through a blood test - will not
only enable medical professionals
to diagnose GVHD, but it will also
predict the intensity of the disease,
according to Professor of Pediatrics
and Internal Medicine James Fer-
rara, the study's senior author.
Ferrara, who is also director of
the Adult and Pediatric Blood and
Marrow Transplant Program, said
the protein develops as inflam-
mation on the skin in response to
attacks on foreign bone marrow by
the immune system.
Ferrara said he collaborated
with former University Prof. Sam
Hanash, the foremost expert on
the study of proteins, to find a way

they are losing control over the
steering, but it was unclear why.
He mentioned problems with the
braking system or tires as possible
underlying causes. U.S. officials
are also investigating.
He stressed that the company
was prepared to fix any defects
it finds and that executives were
considering a recall as an option,
although no decision had been
In Japan, President wAkio
Toyoda said he did not intend to
appear at congressional hearings
next week in Washington, prefer-
ring to leave that to his U.S.-based
executives while he focuses on
improving quality controls. Toyo-
da, grandson of the company's
founder, said he would consider
attending if invited.
Also yesterday, a Transportation
Department official said the agency
planned to open an investigation
into the reports about the Corolla.
The preliminary investigation
is expected to begin Thursday
and involve an estimated 500,000
vehicles. The official spoke on
condition of anonymity because
the department had not yet noti-
fied Toyota of the probe.
to identify elevated protein levels in
GVHD patients.
"We wanted a simple test that
we could use, and initially our hope
is that if we could start treatment
early, we can control GVHD in a
larger number of patients, but we
needed a good test," Ferrara said.
This is the first lab test of its
kind developed to identify signs of
GVHD, Ferrara said.
"It was like looking for a needle
in a haystack the size of Michigan,"
he said. "We got lucky."
According to Ferrara, GVHD
has an overall mortality rate of 40
percent. Detection within a week
allows medical professionals to
control its progression, lowering
the mortality rate to 15 percent,
while lack of detection will raise
the mortality rate up to90 percent,
he said.
Currently, all allogeneic trans-
plant recipients are given medicine
before the operation as a preventa-
tive measure, Ferrara said. Patients
exhibiting rashes post-operation
are given high-dose steroids as
a step to avoid the possibility of
GVHD, but they weaken a patient's

In an attempt to reassure car
owners, Toyota Motor Corp. said
it would install a backup safe-
ty system in all future models
worldwide that will override the
accelerator if the gas and brake
pedals are pressed at the same
time. Acceleration problems are
behind the bulk of the 8.5 million
vehicles recalled bythe automaker
since November.
The emergence of potential
steering problems with Corolla
presented another roadblock in
the automaker's efforts to repair
its image of building safe, reliable
vehicles. Dealers across the U.S.
are fixing accelerators that can
stick, floor mats that can trap gas
pedals and questionable brakes on
new Prius hybrids.
Auto industry experts said
any power steering troubles on
the Corolla were less worrisome
than accelerator pedals or brakes
because drivers could still steer
the vehicle, even though doing so
may be more difficult.
The government investigation
comes even though the automaker
said it has received relatively few
complaints about the popular
immune system. Ferrara said this
treatment method has not changed
in the past 40 years.
Ferrara said he hopes that detec-
tion of elafin levels will allow for
more personalized treatment,
where patients with higher levels
will be offered more intensive ther-
apy and patients with lower levels
will be given fewer steroids.
Ferrara said he and fellow
researchers are riow working
together with the University
Medical Center to introduce this
technique into medical practice.
He said he hopes that the test will
be available to all patients, not just
ones at the University, by the end
of this year.
Ferrara said they already
received calls from people in Texas
and North Carolina, askingwhether
the researchers would accept blood
samples to test for the disease. But
Ferrara said the researchers aren't
ready to apply the technique to
practical use justyet.
He added that he hopes to make
the elafin test more widely avail-
able by accepting these samples in
the future.

Mexican pres.
promises to look
into border city

Calderon says he
will investigate
crimes in city near
El Paso, Tx.
- President Felipe Calderon prom-
ised federal investigations into all
complaints of extortion and kidnap-
ping in a Mexican border city over-
whelmed by druggangviolence.
Calderon made the pledge after
meeting yesterday with hundreds
of residents of Ciudad Juarez, across
the border from El Paso, Texas.
"The city will again become a city
of law," said Calderon, who traveled
to Ciudad Juarez after meetingwith
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano in Mexico City to
discuss the drug war and aviation
It was the second time Calderon
visitedthecitysincetheJan. 3mas-
sacre of 15 people in a working class
neighborhood fueled anger over the

government's failure to stem the
bloodshed. More than 2,600 people
were killed in the city of 1.3 million
people last year despite the presence
of thousands of federal troops and
police, making it one of the world's
Hours after Calderon spoke,
gunmen killed the mayor of Gua-
dalupe y Calvo, a town on the other
side of Chihuahua state from Ciu-
dad Juarez, said Eduardo Ezparza,
spokesman for the state prosecu-
tors' office.
The attackers ambushed Mayor
Ramon Mendivil's car on ahighway
as he headed back to his town from a
meeting in Chihuahua city, the state
capital. One of his body guards was
also killed.
The motive for the attack was
not immediately known. The town
has seen a burst of violence recent-
ly. The bodies of five men were
found dumped on a dirt road there
last weekend, and on Wednesday,
three police investigators were
killed hours before the attack on
the mayor.


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