Crime Down For 3rd Straight Year, Even During Recession

(FBI graphic)

There’s been a much-observed tendency to link periods of rising economic distress with increasing crime rates.  But we may have to rethink that, given the pattern in the national data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  For the third straight year and during the Great Recession, crime rates have fallen.  All four categories of violent crime declined overall, as well as overall categories of property crime and arson.



Just to Make You Smile…

Proud Mama Sends Strangers to College

Oral Lee Brown was profiled on NBC’s “Making a Difference” series.

Twenty-three years ago, a real estate agent in Oakland, California, made a pledge to a class of neighborhood first-graders: ‘Stay in school and do your homework and I’ll send you to college.’  The woman known as Mama Brown only made $45,000 at the time, but she saved every extra dollar over the next 12 years to make good on her promise. Of those 23 first-graders offered the gift of a lifetime, a gift for full tuition and room and board, 19 went on to college.  In comparison- of the other first-grade class in that same inner-city Oakland school, only four graduated from high school.

In a city with the highest crime dropout rates in the state, Brown is an educational fairy godmother offering hope to kids for whom college might not be possible otherwise.  Students in Brown’s program must maintain a 2.5 GPA and attend study sessions.  It has been 11 years since Mama Brown’s first class of first-graders graduated from college.  Now, hundreds of students compete for one of 20 full-ride scholarships she offers every three years.  The businesswoman no longer shoulders the financial burden alone. She created the Oral Lee Brown Foundation to make sure every deserving but underprivileged child has the opportunity to make something of his or her life.

An aspiring neurosurgeon who was selected by Brown when he was in third grade says the promise of a college education makes him work harder.  “I’ll ask a kid, ‘What do you want to be?’ and no one has ever told me, ‘I want to be a dope dealer.’ “They want to be somebody; they want to be something.”


Photos of the Day

Man Reunites with Friend Gorrilla

It’s been five years since Damian Aspinall has seen Kwibi, a lowland gorilla he helped raise in captivity before releasing him back into the wild.  When Aspinall decided to venture into the jungles of Gabon, Kwibi’s new home, no one could have expected what would happen next.  This clip, which aired earlier this month on the program Gorilla School, may be one of the most moving encounters between primate and man ever caught on film.

L.A. Clinic Gives Free Care to Thousands

Hundreds of doctors and dentists volunteer to see needy patients at no cost.

People of all ages began arriving before dawn, lined up by the hundreds, some in wheelchairs, others hobbling on crutches, many of them missing teeth, all of them seeking the same thing: free medical care.  The hundreds who showed up weren’t refugees of a disaster or a civil war, just working people without health insurance.

One of them, Kenny Gillett hadn’t seen a doctor in two years, not since the 47-year-old welder lost his job and insurance when his employer went broke.  Adriana Valenzuela, a self-employed and uninsured cosmetologist, brought an 8-year-old son with a mouthful of cavities. Frank Carodine, a friendly white-haired man of 57, who rolled up in his wheelchair, said he had lost parts of both legs to diabetes, which was now ravaging his right eye. He needed glasses.  Some of the visitors would need follow-up care, so before letting them out of the building, RAM volunteers were writing referrals to free clinics around the area.

Outside in the cold, several hundred more people, waited patiently for their turn to enter the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  The arena was jumping with the energy of hundreds of smiling volunteer doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other professionals, all of them brought together by the Tennessee-based nonprofit group Remote Area Medical.  On the first day of the seven-day clinic, California first lady, Maria Shriver and other officials paid a visit, Shriver saying she was humbled by the scope of the volunteer effort.

RAM, which was founded in 1985 to bring medical care to remote regions of the world, is focusing more these days on urban centers like Los Angeles. It put on a similar clinic in nearby Inglewood last year and has others scheduled for Oklahoma City and Chicago this summer.  More than 6,000 people were treated at last year’s clinic.

For more information on RAM and their events, visit:


10 Companies Hiring Right Now

Some rays of light in the dim U.S. jobs picture are coming from well-known large companies.  According to, a six-year-old website that aggregates job postings, there are tens of thousands of jobs listed. culls listings from a plethora of job websites large and small, including the behemoths CareerBuilder and Monster, from online newspapers and classified ads and from companies’ own sites.’s users can slice and dice the listings in myriad ways, including by geographic area, profession, company name, salary range, part- or full-time job and permanent or temporary work.

Largest Hiring-Ranking Companies:

1. Blockbuster

2. Lowe’s

3. McDonald’s

4. Petco

5. J.P. Morgan Chase

6. Bank of America

7. Department of Veterans Affairs

8. Lockheed Martin

9. Fastenal

10. Wells Fargo


Heroic Skydiver Saves Woman’s Life After Parachute Failure

If you’re skydiving and your parachute fails, there’s always a backup. But what if the backup fails, too? That’s when you pray that you’re jumping with a hero like Dave Hartsock, who risked his own life to save someone else’s.

Hartsock was the instructor paired with Shirley Dygert for her first ever skydive – a challenge she undertook to celebrate her 54th birthday. But the jump took a nightmarish turn when their first parachute failed to fully deploy and the backup chute got tangled up along with it.

As they were plummeting toward the Earth at 40mph, Hartsock pulled the chutes’ control handles to position himself underneath Dygert, hoping to break her fall when they hit the ground. His plan worked: Dygert walked away with only minor injuries, though Hartsock himself was left paralyzed. He’s slowly regaining some feeling, but even in recovery he remains humble about his actions: “People keep telling me that it was a heroic thing to do…In my opinion it was just the right thing to do. I mean, I was the one who was completely responsible for her safety. What other choices were there?”

You can give to Hartsock’s fund here.

Thought for the Day

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

-Mother Teresa

Girl Saves Choking Friend, Thanks to ‘SpongeBob’

A 12-year-old Long Island girl is crediting 'SpongeBob SquarePants' for teaching her how to help her choking friend.

Miriam Starobin and her best friend, Allyson Golden, were in music class when Allyson began choking on her gum. Allyson turned red and started kicking her legs.  Miriam, with thoughts of SpongeBob and the gang, flew into action and performed the Heimlich maneuver, and the gum popped out.  “It flew across the room like five feet. I was so thankful she saved my life,” said Golden.

In one episode of the Nickelodeon animated series, SpongeBob retrieves a clarinet lodged in Squidward’s throat. In another, Patrick revives Squidward after he swallows a fork.  Miriam says she is also a fan of medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy, but never had any formal training in the technique.


Mother’s Day

“Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.”

-George Eliot

Local Boy with Cancer Becomes Superhero

Erik Martin, who is living with liver cancer, has always wanted to be a superhero. On Thursday, the regional chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him that wish with an elaborate event that involved hundreds of volunteers in Bellevue and Seattle.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation made 13-year-old Erik Martin’s dream of becoming a superhero come true. The local chapter, which serves four states, grants more than 300 wishes every year to children with life-threatening medical conditions, but only a few of them involve so many participants.

Thursday was shaping up to be just another school day for 13-year-old Erik Martin, but then something extraordinary happened: Spider-Man called. Spider-Man happens to be one of the few people who knows that Erik, too, has a secret identity – he’s Electron Boy, a superhero who fights the powers of evil with light.  And Spider-Man needed Erik’s help.

Pulling off a wish like this one required a big story, and a lot of heart. And so, with a note of panic in his voice, Spider-Man explained the dilemma: “Dr. Dark” and “Blackout Boy” had imprisoned the Seattle Sounders (major league soccer team) in a locker room at Qwest Field. Only Electron Boy could free them.

Erik got into his red-and-blue superhero costume, and called on the powers of “Moonshine Maid,” who owns a DeLorean sports car.  More than 20 motorcycle officers from the Bellevue Police Department, King County and Snohomish Sheriff’s offices escorted Electron Boy to Seattle.  “They shut down the 405 and I-90,” marveled “Moonshine Maid,” aka Misty Peterson.  “I thought it would just be me in the car.”

At Qwest Field, Electron Boy was directed by frantic fans to the Sounders locker room, where the entire team was shouting for help behind jammed doors. With a little help from “Lightning Lad,” the alter ego of local actor Rob Burgess, Erik opened the door with his lightning rod. The Sounders cheered.  “Thank you, Electron Boy!” said defender Taylor Graham.  “You saved us!” exclaimed forward Nate Jaqua.  “Good job, big man,” said defender Tyrone Marshall.  Forward Steve Zakuani, mutely bowed his thanks.

Electron Boy seemed a little dazed by his powers. Out on Qwest Field, the Sounders gave Erik a hero’s congratulations, posed for pictures and gave him a jersey and autographed ball.  Everyone was startled when, overhead, the Jumbotron crackled to life…”Electron Boy, I am Dr. Dark and this is Blackout Boy,” sneered an evil voice, as the villain – Edgar Hansen, and his sidekick Jake Anderson, both of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch – taunted the young superhero. “We are here to take over Seattle and make it dark!”

On the Jumbotron, a video showed a Puget Sound Electric employee, Jim Hutchinson, trapped in the top of his bucket truck in front of PSE’s Bellevue headquarters. Only Electron Boy could save him.  As Electron Boy’s motorcade, the DeLorean, the 25 motorcycle officers and a white limo rolled through downtown Bellevue, pedestrians stopped in their tracks and pulled out their cameras to take pictures. Clearly, somebody famous was in town. But who could it be?

“It’s Electron Boy!” Erik’s older sister, Charlotte, shouted out the window of the limousine.  More than 250 PSE employees gathered outside the company’s headquarters and cheered as Electron Boy freed the trapped worker. “It was so loud, people in office buildings were looking out the window,” said Make-A-Wish communications director Jeannette Tarcha.

Electron Boy got a tip that the evil duo were at the Space Needle, where they had disabled the elevator and trapped people on the observation deck.  Electron Boy stepped out of the DeLorean to a cheering crowd of dozens of admirers, and confronted his nemesis…”How did you find us, Electron Boy?” Dr. Dark demanded.

Erik leapt at Dr. Dark with his lightning rod, freezing the villain. Then he unlocked the elevator and freed the people trapped upstairs.  Bellevue police officer Curtis McIvor snapped handcuffs on Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy.  A tiny smile played around Electron Boy’s mouth. The crowd went wild. “Hip-hip, hooray!”

Seattle City Councilwoman, Sally Bagshaw, stepped forward with a key to the city and a proclamation that Thursday was Electron Boy Day. Afterward, Erik posed for the TV cameras, flexed his muscles and spent some time astride a Bellevue police motorcycle.

Like any good superhero, Electron Boy kept his innermost thoughts to himself. But he did have one important thing to say:  “This is the best day of my life.”


Study Suggests Substance in Breast Milk Kills Cancer Cells

Studies carried out by researchers at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden reveal that a substance found in breast milk can kill cancer cells.  Although the special substance, known as HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells), was discovered in breast milk several years ago, it is only now that it has been possible to test it on humans. Patients with cancer of the bladder who were treated with the substance excreted dead cancer cells in their urine after each treatment, which has given rise to hopes that it can be developed into medication for cancer care in the future.

HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. Laboratory experiments have shown that HAMLET kills 40 different types of cancer.  Researchers are now going on to study its effect on skin cancer, tumors in mucous membranes and brain tumors.  HAMLET kills only cancer cells and does not affect healthy cells.

The researchers, Roger Karlsson, Maja Puchades and Ingela Lanekoff, are attempting to gain an in-depth understanding of how the substance interacts with cell membranes.  Their findings were recently published in the journal PLoS One (