Today on New Scientist: 28 December 2012







Best videos of 2012: Rare view of Challenger tragedy

Watch a rare amateur video of the Challenger explosion, our most-viewed video of the year



Strong jet stream super-charged US Christmas storms

Record snowfall and dozens of tornadoes snarled holiday travel as a powerful winter storm plowed across much of the US, while rainstorms battered the UK



2012 review: The year in life science

The year's biggest stories in life science, including James Cameron's descent into the Mariana trench and efforts to break into Antarctica's buried lakes



Superstorm lessons for adapting to climate change

As the post-Sandy rebuild gets under way, coastal cities around the world will be watching



Best videos of 2012: First MRI movie of childbirth

Watch a unique view of a baby's birth, at number 2 in our countdown of the year's top science videos



Fleadom or death: Reviving the glorious flea circus

The parasite-based sideshows were almost done for by the domestic vacuum cleaner - but they are bouncing back, finds Graham Lawton



Approval for gene-modified salmon spawns controversy

Apparently months late, US regulators have declared genetically engineered fish safe to farm and eat, but final approval could be some way off



Best videos of 2012: New aircraft flies inside out

Watch a novel flying machine use a unique mechanism to propel itself, at number 3 in our countdown of the top videos of the year



2012 review: The year in technology

The year's biggest stories in technology, including Kinect devices that may spot signs of autism and controlling a robot by the power of thought



Superdoodles: The science of scribbling

Far from being a distraction, doodling has an important purpose - and you can harness it



2013 Smart Guide: Wave goodbye to the mouse

The Leap, a 3D motion control device set to launch next year, will let you control your computer with touch-free hand and finger movements





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Work-life harmony in S'pore remains stable: study






SINGAPORE: A national study has shown that work-life harmony in Singapore has been stable over the past six years.

The 2012 National Work-Life Harmony Study, conducted by the Social and Family Development Ministry, shows Singapore having an index of 63.

This is a notch lower than the index of 64, achieved in the inaugural study in 2006.

In the study, zero indicates "no harmony", while 100 means "total harmony".

The study found that employees who scored 70 or higher tend to report better work, family and personal outcomes.

Those with children and who spend more time dining with family members also enjoy better work-life harmony.

While the workplace is generally supportive of work-life needs, the study showed more could be done with regard to flexibility at work.

This is especially so for mothers and younger employees.

"I hope that more employers will take the initiative to even just have a chat with these mothers. To understand the needs and requirements, before these women decide to quit, when they face a no-solution situation, because it is very costly for any business to lose a talented employee," said Yeo Mui Ean, president of Women Empowered for Work and Mothering.

"And of course one other group we have in the workforce is really the Generation Y. They have dreams they want to pursue beyond work. And in order to energise and engage them, we need to realise that this group of Generation Y work best in a manner that is different from the baby boomers and Generation X."

- CNA/xq



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5-year-old among 4 people badly burned after Lawndale fire









A 5-year-old girl suffered burns to her entire body during a Lawndale-neighborhood fire that lasted only a few minutes early Saturday, according to the Chicago Fire Department. 


She and a 9-year-old boy, with burns to 35 percent of his body, were taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital from their home in the 4200 block of West 21st Place. 


A total of six people were taken to area hospitals, four in serious-to-critical condition. Police said the six were all from the same family. The fire broke out after 4:30 a.m.





The first responding engine didn't see any fire but found one victim on the front lawn, said Chicago Fire Department District Chief Peter Van Dorpe.  But the fire "vented," meaning a window blew out and fed the fire oxygen, and immediately spread through the first floor. 


Van Dorpe said the first battalion chief at the scene called an EMS Plan 1, for an extra five ambulances, and escalated the alarm to bring more firefighters to the scene. 


Among the others injured: a 30-year-old man was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital with burns to 90 percent of his body, a 20-year-old woman went to the same hospital with burns to 80 percent of her body, and two women, 60 and 84, were taken in fair-to-serious condition to Saint Anthony's Hospital.


The two adults taken to Mount Sinai were transferred to Stroger Hospital. The condition on the two women, 60 and 84, improved to good-to-fair. 


The fire was out in just a few minutes, Van Dorpe said, though some of the fire extended to a neighboring home. The fire was confined to the first floor but the home isn't habitable and up to eight people were displaced, Van Dorpe said. 


The cause of the fire is under investigation. 


pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas 







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How to Banish That New Year's Eve Hangover


For those of us who enjoy the occasional cocktail, the holiday season would be incomplete without certain treats of the liquid variety. Some look forward to the creamy charms of rum-laced eggnog; others anticipate cupfuls of high-octane punch or mugs of warm, spiced wine.

No matter what's in your glass, raising one as the year winds down is tradition. What could be more festive? The problem is, one drink leads to two, then the party gets going and a third is generously poured. Soon, the music fades and the morning arrives—and with it, the dreaded hangover. (Explore a human-body interactive.)

Whether it's a pounding headache, a queasy stomach, sweating, or just general misery, the damage has been done. So now it's time to remedy the situation. What's the quickest way to banish the pain? It depends who you ask.

Doctors typically recommend water for hydration and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. Taking B vitamins is also good, according to anesthesiologist Jason Burke, because they help the body metabolize alcohol and produce energy.

Burke should know a thing or two about veisalgia, the medical term for hangover. At his Las Vegas clinic Hangover Heaven, Burke treats thousands of people suffering from the effects of drinking to excess with hydrating fluids and medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"No two hangovers are the same," he said, adding that the unfavorable condition costs society billions of dollars-mostly from lost productivity and people taking sick days from work.

Hot Peppers for Hangovers?

So what's the advice from the nonmedical community? Suggestions range from greasy breakfasts to vanilla milkshakes to spending time in a steamy sauna. A friend insists hot peppers are the only way to combat a hangover's wrath. Another swears by the palliative effects of a bloody mary. In fact, many people just have another drink, following the old "hair of the dog that bit you" strategy.

Whether such "cures" actually get rid of a hangover is debatable, but one thing's for sure: the sorry state is universal. The only people immune to hangovers are the ones who avoid alcohol altogether.

So for those who do indulge, even if it's just once in awhile, see our interactive featuring cures from around the world (also above). As New Year's Eve looms with its attendant excuse to imbibe, perhaps it would be wise to stock your refrigerator with one of these antidotes. Pickled herring, anyone?


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Obama Still Hopeful in Final Days Before 'Cliff'


Dec 29, 2012 6:00am







ap obama cliff lt 121229 wblog President Obama Still Hopeful in Final Days Before Cliff

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci


Three days remain for Congress to pass a federal budget agreement that would avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” and today President Obama said he believes the House and Senate leadership can squeak out a deal in time.


In his weekly address, released this morning, the president said allowing the package of perilous tax increases and budget cuts set to take effect in the New Year “would be the wrong thing to do for our economy.”


“Congress can prevent it from happening if they act now,” he said. “Leaders in Congress are working on a way to prevent this tax hike on the middle class, and I believe we may be able to reach an agreement that can pass both houses in time.”


The president was referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who were attempting to quickly fashion a deal that can pass both chambers of Congress. Although not mentioned specifically in the video, the two leaders and their House counterparts, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with the president and his staff at the White House Friday that left both parties’ leadership cautiously optimistic in public statements following the meeting.


INFOGRAPHIC: Fiscal Cliff: Why It Matters


Largely repeating remarks he made following the meeting, the president noted that should the last-minute wrangling fail he has asked Reid to deliver a basic proposal to the Senate floor for a simple up-or-down vote.


“We believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities -as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote.  If they still want to vote no and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote.  That’s the way this is supposed to work,” he said. “We just can’t afford a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy.”


Reid’s backup legislation would reflect the Democrats’ side in this quagmire, demanding a tax boost for household incomes greater than $250,000 and an extension of unemployment benefits for roughly 2 million Americans that is set to expire without their reauthorization.


Fiscal Cliff: By The Numbers


“You meet your deadlines and your responsibilities every day,” Obama said. “The folks you sent here to serve should do the same.”


The president’s statement came a day before what could be a critical turning point in the “cliff” ordeal. On Sunday, the House of Representatives returns from holiday recess, the same day McConnell and Reid could offer up a hypothetical deal for a vote. Meanwhile, NBC’s “Meet the Press” will air a televised interview with Obama that morning.



SHOWS: Good Morning America World News







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Fleadom or death: Reviving the glorious flea circus


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FEOrchard appoints Koh Boon Hwee as non-exec director, non-exec chairman






SINGAPORE : Far East Orchard (FEOrchard), formerly known as Orchard Parade Holdings, has appointed Koh Boon Hwee as a non-executive director and non-executive chairman with effect from 1 January 2013.

62-year-old Mr Koh will take over from Philip Ng who will be stepping down as a non-executive director and non-executive chairman from next year.

In a statement issued on Friday, FEOrchard said Mr Ng will also cease to be a member of the Nominating Committee, but will remain as a strategic advisor.

It added that the appointment of Mr Koh is a continuing progression in the organisational development of the company and its business growth.

FEOrchard has undergone a strategic corporate restructuring this year with a new diversified portfolio focusing on property development, hospitality real estate development and management, and healthcare real estate space.

Commenting on the appointment, Mr Ng, who is also chief executive officer of FEOrchard's parent, Far East Organization, said: "As FEOrchard begins the next phase of its transformative growth, we will actively develop and expand on our domain real estate capabilities and will also seek to enlarge our footprint beyond Singapore.

"Boon Hwee brings immense value to this endeavour with his excellent record of accomplishments in developing people, businesses and customers across a broad spectrum of industries and markets."

Mr Koh is currently chairman (executive) at Credence Capital Fund II (Cayman) Ltd and Credence Partners Pte Ltd.

He is also currently non-executive chairman of Sunningdale Tech, Yeo Hiap Seng Limited, Yeo Hiap Seng (Malaysia) Berhad, AAC Technologies Holdings, Rippledot Capital Advisers, FEO Hospitality Asset Management, and FEO Hospitality Trust Management.

- CNA/ms



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Fatal shooting appears to have pushed city's homicide toll to 500
































































The fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man Thursday night on the West Side appears to have pushed Chicago's 2012 homicide toll to 500, the first time the city has had that many killings in four years.


The slaying came hours after the Chicago Police Department said the city was one homicide away from the 500 mark for the year.


The victim was standing outside a convenience store around 9 p.m. at Augusta Boulevard and Lavergne Avenue in the city's Austin community when he was shot in the head, police said. Nathaniel T. Jackson was pronounced dead at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County at 12:18 a.m., a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office said.





At the shooting scene, a pool of blood stained the sidewalk outside Noah Foods. Police tapped apartment windows and knocked on doors looking for witnesses. A stray dog trotted through the crime scene before taking off in a sprint up Lavergne.


A few bullet casings, which police initially believed to be from a .45 caliber handgun, were found next to where the man was shot. Before officers left the scene, three people walked out of the store and pounded the metal gate shut.


The last time Chicago had 500 or more homicides was in 2008. As of Thursday night, homicides were up 17 percent over last year, and shootings had increased by 11 percent, according to police statistics.


Largely contributing to the spike was the unusual number of homicides that occurred during the early part of the year, in which the city experienced unseasonable warmth. In the first three months of the year, homicides ran about 60 percent ahead of the 2011 rate.

jgorner@tribune.com
pnickeas@tribune.com

Twitter: @peternickeas






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How to Live to a Ripe Old Age


Cento di questi giorni. May you have a hundred birthdays, the Italians say, and some of them do.

So do other people in various spots around the world—in Blue Zones, so named by National Geographic Fellow Dan Buettner for the blue ink that outlines these special areas on maps developed over more than a decade. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

In his second edition of his book The Blue Zones, Buettner writes about a newly identified Blue Zone: the Greek island of Ikaria (map). National Geographic magazine Editor at Large Cathy Newman interviewed him about the art of living long and well. (Watch Buettner talk about how to live to a hundred.)

Q. You've written about Blue Zones in Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; Nicoa, Costa Rica and Okinawa, Japan. How did you find your way to Ikaria?

A. Michel Poulain, a demographer on the project, and I are always on the lookout for new Blue Zones. This one popped up in 2008. We got a lead from a Greek foundation looking for biological markers in aging people. The census data showed clusters of villages there with a striking proportion of people 85 or older. (Also see blog: "Secrets of the Happiest Places on Earth.")

In the course of your quest you've been introduced to remarkable individuals like 100-year-old Marge Jetton of Loma Linda, California, who starts the day with a mile-long [0.6-kilometer] walk, 6 to 8 miles [10 to 13 kilometers] on a stationary bike, and weight lifting. Who is the most memorable Blue Zoner you've met?

Without question it's Stamatis Moraitis, who lives in Ikaria. I believe he's 102. He's famous for partying. He makes 400 liters [100 gallons] of wine from his vineyards each year, which he drinks with his friends. His house is the social hot spot of the island. (See "Longevity Genes Found; Predict Chances of Reaching 100.")

He's also the Ikarian who emigrated to the United States, was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 60s, given less then a year to live, and who returned to Ikaria to die. Instead, he recovered.

Yes, he never went through chemotherapy or treatment. He just moved back to Ikaria.

Did anyone figure out how he survived?

Nope. He told me he returned to the U.S. ten years after he left to see if the American doctors could explain it. I asked him what happened. "My doctors were all dead," he said.

One of the common factors that seem to link all Blue Zone people you've spoken with is a life of hard work—and sometimes hardship. Your thoughts?

I think we live in a culture that relentlessly pursues comfort. Ease is related to disease. We shouldn't always be fleeing hardship. Hardship also brings people together. We should welcome it.

Sounds like another version of the fable of the grasshopper and the ant?

You rarely get satisfaction sitting in an easy chair. If you work in a garden on the other hand, and it yields beautiful tomatoes, that's a good feeling.

Can you talk about diet? Not all of us have access to goat milk, for example, which you say is typically part of an Ikarian breakfast.

There is nothing exotic about their diet, which is a version of a Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes vegetables, beans, fruit, olive oil, and moderate amounts of alcohol. (Read more about Buettner's work in Ikaria in National Geographic Adventure.)

All things in moderation?

Not all things. Socializing is something we should not do in moderation. The happiest Americans socialize six hours a day.

The people you hang out with help you hang on to life?

Yes, you have to pay attention to your friends. Health habits are contagious. Hanging out with unhappy people who drink and smoke is hazardous to your health.

So how has what you've learned influenced your own lifestyle?

One of the big things I've learned is that there's an advantage to regular low-intensity activity. My previous life was setting records on my bike. [Buettner holds three world records in distance cycling.] Now I use my bike to commute. I only eat meat once a week, and I always keep nuts in my office: Those who eat nuts live two to three more years than those who don't.

You also write about having a purpose in life.

Purpose is huge. I know exactly what my values are and what I love to do. That's worth additional years right there. I say no to a lot of stuff that would be easy money but deviates from my meaning of life.

The Japanese you met in Okinawa have a word for that?

Yes. Ikigai: "The reason for which I wake in the morning."

Do you have a non-longevity-enhancing guilty pleasure?

Tequila is my weakness.

And how long would you like to live?

I'd like to live to be 200.


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White House Says It Has No New Fiscal Cliff Plan













The White House said today it has no plans to offer new proposals to avoid the fiscal cliff which looms over the country's economy just five days from now, but will meet Friday with Congressional leaders in a last ditch effort to forge a deal.


Republicans and Democrats made no conciliatory gestures in public today, despite the urgency.


The White House said President Obama would meet Friday with Democratic and Republican leaders. But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said the Republican "will continue to stress that the House has already passed legislation to avert the entire fiscal cliff and now the Senate must act."


The White House announced the meeting after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the budget situation "a mess" and urged the president to present a fresh proposal.


"I told the president I would be happy to look at whatever he proposes, but the truth is we're coming up against a hard deadline here, and as I said, this is a conversation we should have had months ago," McConnell said of his phone call with Obama Wednesday night.


McConnell added, "Republicans aren't about to write a blank check for anything Senate Democrats put forward just because we find ourselves at the edge of the cliff."


"That having been said, we'll see what the president has to propose," the Republican Senate leader said.


But a senior White House official told ABC News, "There is no White House bill."


That statement, however, may have wiggle room. Earlier today White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "I don't have any meetings to announce," but a short time later, Friday's meeting was made public.


It's unclear if the two sides are playing a game of political chicken or whether the administration is braced for the fiscal cliff.


Earlier today, fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lashed out at Republicans in a scathing speech that targeted House Republicans and particularly Boehner.






Charles Dharapak/AP Photo















Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf to Saddam Hussein: 'Get Outta Town' Watch Video





Reid, D-Nev., spoke on the floor of the Senate as the president returned to Washington early from an Hawaiian vacation in what appears to be a dwindling hope for a deal.


The House of Representatives will meet for legislative business Sunday evening, leaving the door cracked open ever so slightly to the possibility of a last-minute agreement.


But on a conference call with Republican House members Thursday afternoon, Boehner kept to the Republican hard line that if the Senate wants a deal it should amend bills already passed by the House.


That was the exact opposite of what Reid said in the morning, that Republicans should accept a bill passed by Democratic led Senate.


Related: What the average American should know about capital gains and the fiscal cliff.


"We are here in Washington working while the members of the House of Representatives are out watching movies and watching their kids play soccer and basketball and doing all kinds of things. They should be here," Reid said. "I can't imagine their consciences."


House Republicans have balked at a White House deal to raise taxes on couples earning more than $250,000 and even rejected Boehner's proposal that would limit the tax increases to people earning more than $1 million.


"It's obvious what's going on," Reid said while referring to Boehner. "He's waiting until Jan. 3 to get reelected to speaker because he has so many people over there that won't follow what he wants. John Boehner seems to care more about keeping his speakership than keeping the nation on a firm financial footing."


Related: Starbucks enters fiscal cliff fray.


Reid said the House is "being operated with a dictatorship of the speaker" and suggested today that the Republicans should agree to accept the original Senate bill pass in July. Reid's comments, however, made it clear he did not expect that to happen.


"It looks like" the nation will go over the fiscal cliff in just five days, he declared.


"It's not too late for the speaker to take up the Senate-passed bill, but that time is even winding down," Reid said. "So I say to the speaker, take the escape hatch that we've left you. Put the economic fate of the nation ahead of your own fate as Speaker of the House."


Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel reacted to Reid's tirade in an email, writing, "Senator Reid should talk less and legislate more. The House has already passed legislation to avoid the entire fiscal cliff. Senate Democrats have not."


Boehner has said it is now up to the Senate to come up with a deal.


Obama, who landed in Washington late this morning, made a round of calls over the last 24 hours to Reid, Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


Related: Obama pushes fiscal cliff resolution.






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Photo puzzle: Can you make the connection?



Photo_Comp_Features.jpg

Correctly match up 16 pairs of science-inspired images and enter a draw to win a state-of-the-art Olympus E-PL5 digital camera



MANY of the most fascinating sights in the universe are not evident to the naked eye. Happily, cutting-edge imaging - whether done with a microscope, telescope, MRI scanner or just a camera lens - means these sights are now ours for the seeing.



Can you link up 16 intriguing images with their more commonplace counterparts shown here?







Correctly match all 16 pairs and submit your answers by 4 January 2013 for a chance to win an Olympus E-PL5 digital camera worth £600.



A couple of hints: three of the images you'll be matching are not close-ups, and the links are not necessarily straightforward, so be sure to engage your imagination.



Read the full terms and conditions and submit your answers at newscientist.com/photopuzzle



Follow @CultureLabNS on Twitter



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Fewer small businesses confident of growth in 2013: survey






SINGAPORE: Fewer small companies in Singapore are confident that their businesses will grow in 2013 compared to the years before, found the CPA Australia Asia Pacific Small Business Survey.

The survey, conducted by accounting body CPA Australia between 2 and 15 October, covered 250 businesses that have fewer than 21 employees. The businesses surveyed spanned the retail, information, media and telecommunications sectors.

Businesses in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand and Indonesia were also polled for this report.

According to CPA Australia, confidence among Singaporean small businesses has been on a steady decline since 2010.

74 per cent of small Singaporean companies expect their businesses to grow in the year ahead, down from 77 per cent and 85 per cent in the last two consecutive years.

Gavan Ord, business policy adviser at CPA Australia said: "While confidence is relatively high, Singapore small businesses are significantly more likely to expect their business to 'grow a little' than 'grow strongly', indicating that business confidence is somewhat weaker than (what) the headline figure indicates."

"Reflecting this, the percentage of Singapore businesses that expect to increase their marketing spend in 2013 is the lowest of all markets surveyed," he added.

More Singapore businesses however expect the local economy to improve.

60 per cent of small businesses in Singapore expect the local economy to grow "strongly" or "a little" in the year ahead, compared to 56 per cent a year ago.

- CNA/jc



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Man killed on Southwest Side













Homicide on California Avenue


Detectives investigate the scene of a shooting that left a 32-year-old man dead late Wednesday night.
(Peter Nickeas / Chicago Tribune / December 26, 2012)



























































A 32-year-old man died after someone shot him in the face, chest and arms in the Gage Park neighborhood late Wednesday.


Federico Martinez was shot in an alley east of California Avenue just south of 54th Street about 10 p.m., according to authorities. He lived a couple houses south of where he was killed in the same block. 


Someone in a light-colored Ford F150 with tinted windows shot him while he stood with a woman, police said.





Martinez was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition but was pronounced dead there about 10:45 p.m. The man's family gathered there after he was shot.


Eight detectives arrived at the scene and began their investigation early Thursday morning, their unmarked police cars crowding the narrow block of 54th Street between California and Fairfield avenues. 


A young woman wept next to red tape on the south side of the crime scene.


A spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office wasn't able to say whether they had been notified of the death.


Check back for more information.

pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas




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Space Pictures This Week: Green Lantern, Supersonic Star









































































































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Newtown Shooter's DNA to Be Studied













Geneticists have been asked to study the DNA of Adam Lanza, the Connecticut man whose shooting rampage killed 27 people, including an entire first grade class.


The study, which experts believe may be the first of its kind, is expected to be looking for abnormalities or mutations in Lanza's DNA.


Connecticut Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver has reached out to University of Connecticut's geneticists to conduct the study.


University of Connecticut spokesperson Tom Green says Carver "has asked for help from our department of genetics" and they are "willing to give any assistance they can."


Green said he could not provide details on the project, but said it has not begun and they are "standing by waiting to assist in any way we can."


Lanza, 20, carried out the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., just days before Christmas. His motives for the slaughter remain a mystery.


Geneticists not directly involved in the study said they are likely looking at Lanza's DNA to detect a mutation or abnormality that could increase the risk of aggressive or violent behavior. They could analyze Lanza's entire genome in great detail and try to find unexpected mutations.


This seems to be the first time a study of this nature has been conducted, but it raises concerns in some geneticists and others in the field that there could be a stigma attached to people with these genetic characteristics if they are able to be narrowed down.








Connecticut Shooting: Sandy Hook Teachers' Reactions to Gunshots Watch Video









Newtown, Connecticut Shooting: Timeline of Events at Sandy Hook Elementary Watch Video







Arthur Beaudet, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine, said the University of Connecticut geneticists are most likely trying to "detect clear abnormalities of what we would call a mutation in a gene…or gene abnormalities and there are some abnormalities that are related to aggressive behavior."


"They might look for mutations that might be associated with mental illnesses and ones that might also increase the risk for violence," said Beaudet, who is also the chairman of Baylor College of Medicine's department of molecular and human genetics.


Beaudet believes geneticists should be doing this type of research because there are "some mutations that are known to be associated with at least aggressive behavior if not violent behavior."


"I don't think any one of these mutations would explain all of (the mass shooters), but some of them would have mutations that might be causing both schizophrenia and related schizophrenia violent behavior," Beaudet said. "I think we could learn more about it and we should learn more about it."


Beaudet noted that studying the genes of murderers is controversial because there is a risk that those with similar genetic characteristics could possibly be discriminated against or stigmatized, but he still thinks the research would be helpful even if only a "fraction" may have the abnormality or mutation.


"Not all of these people will have identifiable genetic abnormalities," Beaudet said, adding that even if a genetic abnormality is found it may not be related to a "specific risk."


"By studying genetic abnormalities we can learn more about conditions better and who is at risk and what might be dramatic treatments," Beaudet said, adding if the gene abnormality is defined the "treatment to stop" other mass shootings or "decrease the risk is much approved."


Others in the field aren't so sure.


Dr. Harold Bursztajn, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is a leader in his field on this issue writing extensively on genetic discrimination. He questions what the University of Connecticut researchers could "even be looking for at this point."






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Feast for the senses: Cook up a master dish


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Vivian Balakrishnan attends state funeral of former Gerakan president






SINGAPORE : Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to attend the state funeral of former Gerakan president, Lim Keng Yaik.

Dr Balakrishnan conveyed condolences on behalf of the Singapore Government.

He was accompanied by Singapore's High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur Ong Keng Yong.

Dr Lim, who served as Malaysia's Energy, Water and Communications Minister from 2004 until 2008, died on Saturday.

He was 73.

- CNA/ms



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Shootings leave 1 dead, 5 wounded Christmas and overnight









An 18-year-old man was shot and killed and five other people were wounded, two of them seriously, across the city Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning.


The man died after someone shot him in the 2000 block of West 69th Street, just west of Damen Avenue, in the West Englewood neighborhood. He was shot after 11:30 p.m.


Joshua Davis was shot in the torso and head shot multiple times after getting into an argument with several others on 69th Street, authorities said. He argued with a group on a bus and was shot after getting off the bus, authorities said.





He lived in the 7200 block of South Bell Avenue in the same neighborhood, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.


Two 21-year-old men were shot in the 0-100 block of North Lockwood Avenue about 1:15 a.m., near Madison Street. One was shot in the neck and taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the other was shot in the knee and taken to West Suburban Medical Center, police said. 


The man shot in the neck is expected to survive, police said. At the crime scene, police used a bottle of fruit punch to mark the location of a shell casing because paper used until an evidence marker could be placed by an evidence technician kept blowing down the alley. 


Police blocked off a second West Side crime scene on Laramie where the van the pair were traveling in stopped, also near the intersection of Madison Street. One of the van's windows appeared to be shot out and it was stopped with two flat back tires. 


Police said both were taken by friends to West Suburban Medical Center before the one with the neck wound was transferred.


The shooting stemmed from a fight at a party, police said.


A woman is in critical condition after getting shot in the neck. The 22-year-old was shot inside an apartment on the 1900 block of South Harding Street in the Lawndale neighborhood about 9:40 p.m., police said. She was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.


The woman was shot by her boyfriend during a fight inside the apartment, police said.


About 7 p.m., an 11-year-old boy was grazed in the arm in the 6200 block of South Michigan Avenue and taken to Comer Children's Hospital, according to police. He was walking in a group when he heard shots and felt pain.


Another man was left in serious condition after someone shot him in the back in the Hermosa neighborhood about 2 p.m. That happened in the 4300 block of West Armitage Avenue on the Northwest Side.


No one is in custody for the shootings and detectives from across the city are investigating. 


pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas





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Photos: Humboldt Squid Have a Bad Day at the Beach

Photograph by Chris Elmenhurst, Surf the Spot Photography

“Strandings have been taking place with increased frequency along the west coast over the past ten years,” noted NOAA’s Field, “as this population of squid seems to be expanding its range—likely a consequence of climate change—and can be very abundant at times.” (Learn about other jumbo squid strandings.)

Humboldt squid are typically found in warmer waters farther south in theGulf of California (map) and off the coast ofPeru. “[But] we find them up north here during warmer water time periods,” said ocean sciences researcherKenneth Bruland with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

Coastal upwelling—when winds blowing south drive ocean circulation to bring cold, nutrient-rich waters up from the deep—ceases during the fall and winter and warmer water is found closer to shore. Bruland noted that climate change, and the resulting areas of low oxygen, “could be a major factor” in drawing jumbo squid north.

Published December 24, 2012

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Storms Spawn 34 Tornado Reports Across South













Severe Christmas day weather tore across the deep South, spinning off 34 possible tornadoes and killing at least three people in its path, while extreme weather is forecast throughout today for parts of the East Coast.


The storm first pounded Texas, then touched down in Louisiana and blasted through homes in Mississippi. In Mobile, Ala., a wide funnel cloud was barreled across the city as lightning flashed inside like giant Christmas ornaments.


Bill Bunting with the National Weather Service's Severe Storms Prediction Center said that the damage may not yet be done.


"Conditions don't look quite as volatile over a large area as we saw on Christmas day but there will be a risk of tornadoes, some of them could be rather strong, across eastern portions of North Carolina and the northeastern part of South Carolina," he said.


Across the Gulf region, from Texas to Florida, over 280,000 customers are still without power, with 100,000 without power in Little Rock, Ark. alone.


The punishing winds mangled Mobile's graceful ante-bellum homes, and today, dazed residents are picking through debris while rescue crews search for people trapped in the rubble.


"We've got a lot of damage, we've got people hurt," one Mobile resident told ABC News. "We've had homes that are 90 percent destroyed."






Melinda Martinez/The Daily Town Talk/AP Photo















Winter Weather Causes Holiday Travel Problems Watch Video





In the Houston area a tree fell onto a pickup truck, killing the driver, ABC affiliate WTRK reported. In Louisiana, a 53-year-old man died when a tree fell on his house, and a 28-year-old woman was killed in a crash on a snowy highway near Fairview, Okla., according to the Associated Press.


At least eight states issued blizzard warnings Tuesday, as the storms made highways dangerously slick heading into one of the busiest travel days of the year.


Tuesday's extreme weather caused an 8-foot deep sinkhole in Vicksburg, Miss. Alma Jackson told ABC News that a concrete tank that was in her backyard fell into the sinkhole.


"It's really very disturbing," she said. "Because it's on Christmas day, and then to see this big hole in the ground and not have any explanation, and not be able to cover it. And the rain is pouring down."


Teresa Mason told ABC News that she and her boyfriend panicked when they saw the tornado heading toward them in Stone County, in southern Mississippi, but she says they were actually saved when a tree fell onto the truck.


"[We] got in the truck and made it out there to the road. And that's when the tornado was over us. And it started jerking us and spinning us, "she said."This tree got us in the truck and kept us from being sucked up into the tornado."


The last time a number of tornadoes hit the Gulf Coast area around Christmas Day was in 2009, when 22 tornadoes struck on Christmas Eve morning, National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro told ABC News in an email.


The deadliest Christmastime tornado outbreak on record was Dec. 24 to 26, 1982, when 29 tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi killed three people and injured 32.


The last killer tornado around Christmas, Vaccaro said, was a Christmas Eve EF4 in Tennessee in 1988, which killed one person and injured seven. EF4 tornadoes can produce winds up to 200 mph.


ABC News' Matt Gutman, Max Golembo and ABC News Radio contributed to this report.



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New Scientist 2012 holiday quiz

















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THIS was the year we held our breath in almost unbearable anticipation while we waited to see whether physicists at the Large Hadron Collider would finally get a clear view of the Higgs boson, so tantalisingly hinted at last December. Going a bit blue, we held on through March when one of the LHC's detectors seemed to lose sight of the thing, before exhaling in a puff of almost-resolution in July, when researchers announced that the data added up to a fairly confident pretty-much-actual-discovery of the particle.












Early indications were that it might be a weird and wonderful variety of the Higgs, prompting a collective gasp of excitement. That was followed by a synchronised sigh of mild disappointment when later data implied that it was probably the most boring possible version after all, and not a strange entity pointing the way to new dimensions and the true nature of dark matter. Prepare yourself for another puff or two as the big story moves on next year.













This respirational rollercoaster might be running a bit too slowly to supply enough oxygen to the brain of a New Scientist reader, so we have taken care to provide more frequent oohs and aahs using less momentous revelations. See how many of the following unfundamental discoveries you can distinguish from the truth-free mimics that crowd parasitically around them.












1. Which of these anatomical incongruities of the animal kingdom did we describe on 14 July?












  • a) A fish, found in a canal in Vietnam, that wears its genitals under its mouth
  • b) A frog, found in a puddle in Peru, that has no spleen
  • c) A lizard, found in a cave in Indonesia, that has four left feet
  • d) A cat, found in a tree in northern England, that has eight extra teeth

2. "A sprout by any other name would taste as foul." So wrote William Shakespeare in his diary on 25 December 1598, setting off the centuries of slightly unjust ridicule experienced by this routinely over-cooked vegetable. But which forbiddingly named veg did we report on 7 July as having more health-giving power than the sprout, its active ingredient being trialled as a treatment for prostate cancer?












  • a) Poison celery
  • b) Murder beans
  • c) Inconvenience potatoes
  • d) Death carrots

3. Scientists often like to say they are opening a new window on things. Usually that is a metaphor, but on 10 November we reported on a more literal innovation in the fenestral realm. It was:












  • a) A perspex peephole set in the nest of the fearsome Japanese giant hornet, to reveal its domestic habits
  • b) A glass porthole implanted in the abdomen of a mouse, to reveal the process of tumour metastasis
  • c) A crystal portal in the inner vessel of an experimental thorium reactor, to reveal its nuclear fires to the naked eye
  • d) A small window high on the wall of a basement office in the Princeton physics department, to reveal a small patch of sky to postgraduate students who have not been outside for seven years

4. On 10 March we described a new material for violin strings, said to produce a brilliant and complex sound richer than that of catgut. What makes up these super strings?












  • a) Mousegut
  • b) Spider silk
  • c) Braided carbon nanotubes
  • d) An alloy of yttrium and ytterbium

5. While the peril of climate change looms inexorably larger, in this festive-for-some season we might take a minute to look on the bright side. On 17 March we reported on one benefit of global warming, which might make life better for some people for a while. It was:












  • a) Receding Arctic sea ice will make it easier to lay undersea cables to boost internet speeds
  • b) Increasing temperatures mean that Greenlanders can soon start making their own wine
  • c) Rising sea levels could allow a string of new beach resorts to open in the impoverished country of Chad
  • d) More acidic seawater will add a pleasant tang to the salt water taffy sweets made in Atlantic City

6. In Alaska's Glacier Bay national park, the brown bear in the photo (above, right) is doing something never before witnessed among bearkind, as we revealed on 10 March. Is it:












  • a) Making a phonecall?
  • b) Gnawing at a piece of whalebone to dislodge a rotten tooth?
  • c) Scratching itself with a barnacle-covered stone tool?
  • d) Cracking oysters on its jaw?

7. Men have much in common with fruit flies, as we revealed on 24 March. When the sexual advances of a male fruit fly are rejected, he may respond by:












  • a) Whining
  • b) Hitting the booze
  • c) Jumping off a tall building
  • d) Hovering around the choosy female long after all hope is lost

8. While great Higgsian things were happening at the LHC, scientists puzzled over a newly urgent question: what should we call the boson? Peter Higgs wasn't the only physicist to predict its existence, and some have suggested that the particle's name should also include those other theorists or perhaps reflect some other aspect of the particle. Which of the following is a real suggestion that we reported on 24 March?

























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If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































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More parents sending children for ECA during school holidays






SINGAPORE: More parents are sending their children for extra-curricular activities during the school holidays.

Parents say this allows the kids to spend time in a fun and meaningful way.

Singing along to a "pizza song", these children pick up pizza-making skills from a restaurant chef.

The lyrics have been modified to help them remember the steps.

Some parents also joined in the sessions to bond with their children.

The chef says enrolment goes up by some 30 per cent during the school holidays.

And this year, he conducted five more classes to cater to the demand.

Those who prefer more active options enlisted into sports camps.

One training camp by the Singapore Table Tennis Association teaches children the basics of the game.

Through special exercises, the children - aged between seven and 10 - build up their stamina and increase their flexibility.

There are 20 to 30 children in each session.

- CNA/de



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Christmas Eve shootings leave 7 hurt









Seven people were hurt, at least five seriously, in shootings on the South and West sides late Monday.


Four of the injured were hurt in a single shooting on the Far South Side, and all four were taken to local hospitals in serious-to-critical condition, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The shooting happened shortly before 7:30 p.m. in the 9400 block of South Justine Street, officials said.


A male shooter opened fire, striking four males as they walked down the sidewalk, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said, citing preliminary information.

A 15-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man were taken to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, a 17-year old man was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and a 19-year-old man was taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, police said.





The 15-year-old was shot in the abdomen, and the 17-year-old was shot in the chest, police said.


The other two men were shot multiple times.


Police said the condition of each was stabilized at the hospital.


The shooting happened in the Brainerd neighborhood.


About 11:50 p.m., a 21-year-old was shot in an attempted robbery in the Gresham neighborhood on the South Side, police said.


The 21-year-old was sitting in a parked vehicle when two males approached on foot and announced a robbery, Greer said, citing preliminary information.


Shortly after, one or both of the assailants shot into the vehicle, striking the man in the lower abdomen, police said.


The man was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital and later transferred to Advocate Christ, where his condition was stabilized, police said.


About 9:05 p.m., a 19-year-old man was shot in the head in the West Side's University Village neighborhood, police said. 


The man was taken to Stroger in serious condition from the 1200 block of West Washburne Avenue , News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said.


Earlier Monday evening, a 37-year-old man was shot in the leg and back in the South Side's Gresham neighborhood, police said.


The shooting happened in the 700 block of West 81st Street about 5:50 p.m., Zala said. The man was taken to an area hospital, where his condition was stabilized.


Check back for more information.

asege@tribune.com

Twitter: @AdamSege





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Photos: Humboldt Squid Have a Bad Day at the Beach

Photograph by Chris Elmenhurst, Surf the Spot Photography

“Strandings have been taking place with increased frequency along the west coast over the past ten years,” noted NOAA’s Field, “as this population of squid seems to be expanding its range—likely a consequence of climate change—and can be very abundant at times.” (Learn about other jumbo squid strandings.)

Humboldt squid are typically found in warmer waters farther south in theGulf of California (map) and off the coast ofPeru. “[But] we find them up north here during warmer water time periods,” said ocean sciences researcherKenneth Bruland with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

Coastal upwelling—when winds blowing south drive ocean circulation to bring cold, nutrient-rich waters up from the deep—ceases during the fall and winter and warmer water is found closer to shore. Bruland noted that climate change, and the resulting areas of low oxygen, “could be a major factor” in drawing jumbo squid north.

Published December 24, 2012

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Newtown Christmas: 'We Know They'll Feel Loved'













As residents prepared to observe Christmas less than two weeks after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at an elementary school, people sharing in the town's mourning brought offerings of cards, handmade snowflakes and sympathy.



Tiny empty Christmas stockings with the victims' names on them hung from trees in the neighborhood where the children were shot. On Christmas Eve, residents said they would light luminaries outside their homes in memory of the victims.



"We know that they'll feel loved. They'll feel that somebody actually cares," said Treyvon Smalls, a 15-year-old from a few towns away who arrived at town hall with hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes collected from around the state.



At the Trinity Episcopal Church, less than 2 miles from the school, an overflow crowd of several hundred people attended Christmas Eve services. They were greeted by the sounds of a children's choir echoing throughout a sanctuary hall that had its walls decorated with green wreaths adorned with red bows.



The church program said flowers were donated in honor of Sandy Hook shooting victims, identified by name or as the "school angels" and "Sandy Hook families."






Julio Cortez, File/AP Photo











U.S. Sends Christmas Wishes to Newtown, Conn. Watch Video









Season of Giving: Newtown Tragedy Inspires Country to Spread Kindness Watch Video









Gun Violence Victims, Survivors Share Thoughts After Newtown Massacre Watch Video






The service, which generally took on a celebratory tone, made only a few vague references to the shooting. Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd led the congregation in praying "that the joy and consolation of the wonderful counselor might enliven all who are touched by illness, danger, or grief, especially all those families affected by the shootings in Sandy Hook."



Police say the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother in her bed before his Dec. 14 rampage and committed suicide as he heard officers arriving. Authorities have yet to give a theory about his motive.



While the grief is still fresh, some residents are urging political activism in the wake of the tragedy. A grassroots group called Newtown United has been meeting at the library to talk about issues ranging from gun control, to increasing mental health services to the types of memorials that could be erected for the victims. Some clergy members have said they also intend to push for change.



"We seek not to be the town of tragedy," said Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel. "But, we seek to be the town where all the great changes started."



Since the shooting, messages similar to the ones delivered Monday have arrived from around the world. People have donated toys, books, money and more. A United Way fund, one of many, has collected $3 million. People have given nearly $500,000 to a memorial scholarship fund at the University of Connecticut. On Christmas Day, police from other towns have agreed to work so Newtown officers can have the time off.



At Washington's National Cathedral, the 20 children who were killed also were remembered. Angels made of paper doilies were used to adorn the altar in the children's chapel. They'll be displayed there through Jan. 6.



In the center of Newtown's Sandy Hook section Monday, a steady stream of residents and out-of-towners snapped pictures, lit candles and dropped off children's gifts at an expansive memorial filled with stuffed animals, poems, flowers, posters and cards.



"All the families who lost those little kids, Christmas will never be the same," said Philippe Poncet, a Newtown resident originally from France. "Everybody across the world is trying to share the tragedy with our community here."





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Dangerous liaisons: Fatal animal attractions


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Putin signs helicopter, jet deals with Indian PM






NEW DELHI: Visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin signed deals to sell 71 military helicopters and kits to build 42 fighter jets to India on Monday as he sought to firm up ties with a traditional ally.

The contract for Mi-17 helicopters was first signed in 2010 and India has now increased the order from 59 to 71, the ministry of external affairs said in its list of deals agreed by Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India, which is one of the world's largest arms importers as it works to upgrade its military, depends on Russian-made military equipment that accounts for 70 per cent of its arms supplies.

"Russia is a key partner in our efforts to modernise our armed forces and enhance our defence preparedness," Singh said after holding talks with Putin and signing ten deals ranging from science and technology to education.

"A number of joint design, development and production projects are underway in high-technology areas. We expressed satisfaction that these projects are progressing well," Singh said.

Also among the deals were the delivery of parts for 42 Su-30MKI fighter planes for assembly in India. The original agreement for the jets was signed last year.

The value of the two deals was not known but Russian news agencies said they were worth about US$2.9 billion.

Russia once had a virtual monopoly over India's arms market, but New Delhi has been shopping around in recent years and Putin's visit is seen in Moscow as a chance to regain lost ground.

Moscow has been worried recently by New Delhi's increasing preference for Western suppliers, especially after Boeing was chosen last month over Russia's Mil plant for a major helicopter contract.

India has been unhappy about delays to deliveries of some naval equipment, notably the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished for the Indian Navy in Russia.

Russia was originally to deliver the upgraded vessel in August 2008, but the date has now been pushed back to the end of 2013 while the price has more than doubled to US$2.3 billion.

After the meeting on Monday, Putin said the dialogue was "substantial and constructive".

"We agreed to deepen ties in the areas of military and defence sectors," he said.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund, and the State Bank of India agreed to jointly invest up to US$2 billion to promote trade and economic cooperation projects.

The leaders also discussed the construction of India's largest nuclear power plant, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

First conceived in 1988, the Russian-built Kudankulam plant was expected to start operations in 2011. But protesters surrounded the compound after an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.

Singh said negotiations for the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Kudankulam had made good progress.

Bilateral trade has been growing steadily and is expected to reach around US$10 billion in 2012, up from US$7.5 billion in 2009, according to official figures.

"Our trade turnover has overcome the consequences of global crisis, and in 2012 we expect to reach record numbers, over US$10 billion. Our next goal is to reach US$20 billion already by 2015," Putin had said before the one-day visit.

Agreements in the pharmaceutical, chemical and cultural sectors were also signed on Monday.

The venue of the talks was switched to Singh's official residence due to violent protests in central New Delhi following the gang-rape of a student that has caused widespread public outrage.

- AFP/xq



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Mom, aunt charged after death of 2 kids in Englewood blaze

Britany Meakens, 22, and Tatiana Meakens, 23, of the 6400 block of S. Paulina, have each been charged with two felony counts of endangering a child causing death and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life/health of a child, according to Chicago









Two women are facing child endangerment charges following the death of two children during a fire early Saturday in their West Englewood neigborhood home.


Tatiana Meakens, 23, and Britany Meakens, 22, both of the 6400 block of South Paulina Avenue, were both charged with two felony counts each of endangering a child causing their death and two misdemeanor counts each of endangering the life and health of a child, according to a statement from police News Affairs. They are expected to appear in court Monday on the charges.


Police said Tatiana Meakens is the mother of the two children who perished in the blaze. Her boy was identified by the Cook County medical examiner's office as 2-year-old Javaris Meakens, and her 3-year-old daughter as Jariyah Meakens.








Britany Meakens is their aunt, according to police.


Autopsies Sunday found both children died of carbon monoxide intoxication and inhalation of smoke and soot from a house fire and their deaths were ruled accidental, according to the medical examiner's office.


Hours before a fire swept through their bedroom, killing their younger sister and cousin, two boys who survived had been watching Batman cartoons, they said in an interview.

When the blaze broke out at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday in their West Englewood home, Darnell, 7, and Marquis, 4, managed to run out a back door with the help of their aunt, they said.


But their sister and cousin — identified by the medical examiner’s office as Javaris, 2, and Jariyah, 3 — perished in the blaze.

“When the fire started, everything shut off,” said Darnell. “Auntie came to get us. When (she) saw the fire, she called all our names. When I opened the door, she told me, ‘Come on, the fire’s getting closer.’”

Authorities said no adults were present to supervise the young children when the fire broke out.


The cause was also still under investigation, though officials said it appeared a hot plate, possibly being used to heat the room, fell onto some clothes, igniting the fire.

The children spoke to the Tribune after they were questioned by authorities in the home of a neighbor who took the boys in when the fire broke out. Four adult women were present at the time.

Firefighters arrived at the scene in the 6400 block of South Paulina Street to find flames shooting out of a bedroom and smoke throughout the first-floor apartment, said James Mungovan, the Deputy District Chief for District 5 with the Chicago Fire Department.

At first, firemen concentrated on getting water to the blaze, Mungovan said. Once the fire was extinguished, they learned the two children did not survive, he said.

“We got here in a timely matter. We got water on the fire and we made our searches which revealed two deceased people,” he said. “The fire had advanced to the stage where it was open free-burning.”

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said firefighters found no working smoke detectors in the building. On Saturday morning, a crew went door to door on the block offering free smoke detectors to neighbors and talking to them about fire safety.

Earlier that morning, as firefighters battled the blaze, neighbors Michelle Washington and Tiffany Williams saw the two boys standing outside without coats and shoes, they said.

They invited the boys into their home to keep warm.

Washington said the boys told her that they had gone to sleep and, when woke up, they saw fire and smoke.


“They looked shaken and scared,” Washington said. “The kids was here all night.”

It was at Washington’s home that investigators from the Bomb and Arson unit and the Office of Fire Investigations interviewed the boys, the women said.

The children were later taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.

News of the younger children’s deaths shook up the West Englewood block and riled up neighbors who said they often saw Darnell walking home alone from school.

Some neighbors said there was no gas service at the house, which is why the family was using the hot plate to keep warm.

The family had lived on the block for about a year and a half, said neighbor Ken Allison. Neighbors often saw the women with their children, he said, but they were not well known.

“There’s no way they should have left those kids alone,” he said.


pnickeas@tribune.com


Twitter: @PeterNickeas


lbowean@tribune.com





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