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Sexual assault crisis tempers euphoria over end of combat ban

Victims of sexual assault and their advocates demand reform of culture in which most of thousands of cases are not prosecuted

The day before defense secretary Leon Panetta announced the lifting of the ban on women in combat, Jennifer Norris, an air force veteran and rape survivor, testified before a congressional panel into one of the worst sexual scandals in military history.

Norris, who was abused by her recruiter and technical school inspector at Keesler Air Force Base, kept quiet about it, she said, after learning "very quickly" that reporting sexual harassment, assault or even lewd remarks could get her turned out of the Air Force. When she did find the courage to report her abusers, they were charged with sexual assault and pleaded guilty. But they were permitted to resign honourably, with full military benefits. One was allowed to stay for another two years. That was 15 years ago.

Pills

FDA panel pushing for new limits on access to Vicodin

Citing concern over increasing reports of addiction and overdoses, a Food and Drug Administration safety panel has recommended new restrictions on access to the commonly-used painkiller Vicodin and other products.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the panel voted 19-10 to suggest that Vicodin and other products containing hydrocodone be reclassified as Schedule II, placing it alongside narcotic painkillers like cocaine and percocet.

Ambulance

Police up death toll to 245 in Brazil club fire

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© AP Photo/Agencia RBS
A man carries an injured man, victim of a fire at the Kiss club in Santa Maria city, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, early Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
A fire swept through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing at least 245 people and leaving at least 200 injured, police and firefighters said.

Police Maj. Cleberson Braida told local news media that the 245 bodies were brought for identification to a gymnasium in the city of Santa Maria.

That toll would make it one of the deadliest nightclub fires more than a decade.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, officials said. Officials earlier put the death toll at 180.

Civil Police and regional government spokesman Marcelo Arigoni told Radio Gaucha earlier that the total number of victims is still unclear and there may be hundreds injured,

Info

Grandma killed by 'vicious' pet cockatiel

Cockatiel
© IBT
Symptoms of Bird Fancier’s Lung usually develop four hours after exposure, and include breathlessness and coughing.
Lilian Kershaw, aged 84, became increasingly breathless after nine years of inhaling particles from the bird's droppings and feathers when its cage was being cleaned out.

The 84-year-old grandmother was later diagnosed with the little-known disease Bird Fancier's Lung.

Despite never handling Charlie the cockatiel, the retired cotton mill worker became out of breath while exposed to the bird in her living room.

Unbeknown to her family, the ill health was partly due to the bird, which was bought for grandson Lloyd in 2002.

Mrs Kershaw's daughter Denise Bacchas told the Daily Mirror: "My mother never handled him, nobody could because he was so vicious. He would peck you to death and he would draw blood. Whoever cleaned him would have to wear gloves."

After the inquest hearing, Mrs Bacchas admitted: "If we had known we would never have got Charlie.

Pistol

The resistance begins: New York gun owners refuse to register

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With emotions running high in the aftermath of the Newtown Sandy Hook shooting, politicians on the State and Federal level have begun introducing legislative actions to curtail access to firearms protected by the Second Amendment.

In Missouri, parents may soon be forced to register firearms with their child's school under threat of criminal penalties. In Massachusetts, another proposal would require storage of semi-automatic rifles at government approved storage depots.

And, in the State of New York, congressional representatives have already passed legislation that requires registration of every semi-automatic rifle and reduces maximum magazine capacity to 7 rounds of ammunition, and Governor Cuomo has floated the idea of gun confiscation.

Black Cat 2

67 dead cats and 99 live cats taken from filthy New York home

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© Schoharie County Sheriff's Office
Cats rescued from home in Wright
The Schoharie County woman who kept 67 dead cats in clear plastic bags in her freezer and had another 99 felines living in crates stacked floor-to-ceiling in unsanitary conditions repeatedly refused to give up any of the animals to shelter workers and rebuffed referrals to mental health professionals.

Authorities who had visited her house on Route 146 in its wretchedly befouled state - it was condemned and deemed unfit for human occupancy - said that she seemed to fit the profile of a hoarder. The excessive collecting of items, frequently animals, is also called compulsive hoarding syndrome. It is a psychological affliction often related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. In severe forms, psychological treatment is recommended.

Possible charges are being weighed against Irene Vandyke, 50, an office worker at a local Walmart store. Her husband, Russell Jack Vandyke, who worked as a cook in Schenectady restaurants, died unexpectedly at 47 in December 2010 after being stricken at home. The couple had been married for 27 years, according to a paid obituary. She has a grown son and granddaughter.

Footprints

Escaped inmate gone 5 days before officials knew

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© ABC News
Rocky Marquez walks out of jail by pretending to be another man scheduled for release.
Police and U.S. marshals are searching for a man who allegedly escaped from a Detroit jail by posing as another inmate, and was on the lam for five days before officials even knew he was gone.

According to police, on Jan. 20, Rocky Marquez, 34, switched ID wristbands with another inmate, who was about to be freed on bond. Marquez then simply walked out of the Wayne County jail.

This was not the first time Marquez staged a jailbreak. According to U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez, Marquez pulled the same stunt in a Phoenix prison eight months ago when he switched wristbands with another inmate who he had befriended and who had a similar complexion and biuld.

"He obviously has a penchant for getting out of jail and wanting to stay out of jail, but hopefully we can put an end to that run here soon," Gonzalez said.

Eye 1

Friar accused of abuse in 2 states kills himself

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A Franciscan friar accused of sexually abusing students at Catholic high schools in Ohio and Pennsylvania killed himself at a western Pennsylvania monastery, police said Saturday.

Brother Stephen Baker, 62, was found dead of a self-inflicted knife wound at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg on Saturday morning, Blair Township Police Chief Roger White said. He declined to say whether a note was found.

Baker was named in legal settlements last week involving 11 men who alleged that he sexually abused them at a Catholic high school in northeast Ohio three decades ago. The undisclosed financial settlements announced Jan. 16 involved his contact with students at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio from 1986-90.

The Youngstown diocese previously said it was unaware of the allegations until nearly 20 years after the alleged abuse.

Network

Anonymous hackers take over U.S sentencing commission website

U.S Sentencing Commission
© AP Photo
This screen shot shows the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission after it was hijacked by the hacker-activist group Anonymous, early Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide. The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago "a line was crossed."
.The hacker-activist group Anonymous says it hijacked the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide.

The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was taken over early Saturday and replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago "a line was crossed." The hackers say they've infiltrated several government computer systems and copied secret information that they now threaten to make public. Family and friends of Swartz, who helped create Reddit and RSS, say he killed himself after he was hounded by federal prosecutors. Officials say he helped post millions of court documents for free online and that he illegally downloaded millions of academic articles from an online clearinghouse.

Question

Mystery sickness takes over Oklahoma school, causes weird symptoms

Kitchen
© WhoForted?
Much like the mysterious illness that managed to shut down an entire Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, several faculty members from a school in Shawnee, Oklahoma have started to experience strange symptoms while in the building, but reasonable explanations for the sickness can't seem to be found.

"I think it raises alarms when you have more than one experiencing problems," Shawnee Superintendent Dr. Marc Moore told Oklahoma News 9.

The issues came to a head at a January 11 meeting where teachers all began to complain of a "different kind" of headache, dizziness, and a "fogginess" clouding their minds, leaving them a tired mess when they get home from work.