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Meredith Dobes

Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary, announces his resignation

Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary, announced today that he will be leaving his post, stating he would stay on until past the end of the month in order to help the department find a replacement.

Chu is praised for bringing science back into politics. Prior to Chu, the Energy Department focused on maintaining the nation’s nuclear-weapons arsenal, according to the Washington Post. Chu used the 2009 stimulus bill, which gave the department $39 billion for grants and loans, to start a clean-energy projects.

Most of these projects are still going strong, including programs focused on solar and wind power, home-weatherization and battery manufacturing. The department gave 33 companies support and only three declared bankruptcy. One of these companies was Solyndra, which Chu received much criticism for investing in from the right.

Since Chu signed on, the nation began using cheaper natural gas instead of coal, cutting down carbon emissions to their lowest level since 1994. Also, electricity from wind and solar sources has doubled and became cheaper.

In his farewell message to Department of Energy employees, Chu noted, “Ultimately, we have a moral responsibility to the most innocent victims of adverse climate change. Those who will suffer the most are the people who are the most innocent: the world’s poorest citizens and those yet to be born. There is an ancient Native American saying: ‘We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’ A few short decades later, we don’t want our children to ask, ‘What were our parents thinking? Didn’t they care about us?’”

Happy birthday, Grand Central Station… or, Terminal

Grand Central Station, New York’s landmark train terminal also known as Grand Central Terminal, turns 100 years old today. The terminal has serviced millions of commuters over the years and has become a tourist destination because of its architecture and depictions in pop culture.

Grand Central Station’s centennial will be celebrated with a public rededication ceremony, performances and the opening of the exhibit “Grand by Design.”

Though people commonly refer to the terminal as “Grand Central Station,” the building is actually called Grand Central Terminal. However, it was known as Grand Central Depot from 1871-1898 and Grand Central Station from 1899-1900. Grand Central Terminal was opened in 1913.

The architecture of the terminal was designed to accommodate people, with waist-level and elbow-level structures. The building’s domed ceilings allow for conversations to be carried across rooms. Oftentimes, exhibits were shown at Grand Central Station because of the volume of people that visited the train terminal each day.

The terminal has the deepest basement in New York City with a presidential getaway platform built for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II containing a 142 metric ton armored carriage. There is also a hidden basement called M42, the deepest accessible underground point in Manhattan, housing Grand Central Station’s vulnerable mechanics.

The terminal was almost destroyed in the late 1960s because of the growth of highways and air travel and the increase of members of the homeless population staying inside the building. However, it was saved by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Grand Central Station now has many shops and restaurants inside of it, but it is remembered for its historical presence in New York City and as a staple of transportation for the nation.

Caleb Moore, snowmobiler, dies at 25

His death marks first of the Winter X Games in 18 years

Caleb Moore, a snowmobiler from Texas, died yesterday at age 25 after sustaining injuries a week ago at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. Moore was involved in a crash through which his snowmobile flipped on top of him.

Moore was performing a back-flip at the competition that came up short and caused his snowmobile to flip multiple times down a slope and caused Moore to fly over the handlebars. The machine fell on top of him, and he came to a stop at the bottom of the slope. The snowmobile weighed around 450 pounds, according to ABC.

Moore was able to walk off the course with help and was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital with a concussion, where doctors discovered bleeding around his heart. He was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. where complications in his heart and brain were discovered.

This is the first death as a result of a competitor’s injuries at the X Games in the 18 years of its existence. ESPN produces the X Games and released a statement yesterday saying the network would conduct a review of the freestyle snowmobiling event and make any necessary changes for safety.

Caleb’s little brother Colten, 23, suffered a separated pelvis after crashing on the same slope about 30 minutes after his brother. The brothers have multiple medals from their participation in past X Games.

In a statement, the Moore family said, “[Caleb] will be truly missed and never forgotten. The family wishes to express their deep gratitude for all the prayers and support they have received from all the fans, friends and family around the world that Caleb has inspired.”

Ed Koch, former New York City mayor, dies at 88

Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City from 1978-1989, died early this morning at 88 years of age. According to his spokesman, Koch died of congestive heart failure after being admitted to the New York Presbyterian Hospital intensive care unit Thursday morning and losing consciousness.

Koch was known for his greeting, “How’m I doin’?” to constituents and his sense of humor. Before his three terms as mayor, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969-1977. A New York City native born Dec. 12, 1924, he graduated from the City College of New York in 1945 and New York University School of Law in 1948. Koch spent time practicing law as a sole practitioner and with a partner before his terms in Congress.

Many did not believe Koch would be elected mayor because he was considered ultra-liberal and obscure. Koch’s campaign slogan was, “After eight years of charisma and four years of the clubhouse, why not try competence?” which resonated with enough New Yorkers to allow his win.

Koch was reelected twice, winning 75 percent and 78 percent of the vote, respectively. He is one of three New York City mayors to serve three terms, alongside Fiorello LaGuardia and Robert Wagner. Koch was defeated by David Dinkins in 1989.

During his terms, Koch was credited with fixing the city’s financial crises. However, he had to contend with issues of racial tensions, corruption among political allies, an increase in cases of HIV and AIDS, homelessness and a high crime rate.

Koch once said he wanted to be mayor for life. He said he lost because voters got tired of him.

After his terms, Koch spent time as the host of a radio show, a newspaper columnist, an actor and the judge for two years on “The People’s Court.”

Koch remained a bachelor his entire life and was often questioned about his sexuality.

He told New York magazine, “Listen, there’s no question that some New Yorkers think I’m gay and voted for me nevertheless. The vast majority don’t care, and others don’t think I am. And I don’t give a (expletive) either way.”

Koch’s funeral is scheduled for Monday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered for flags to be flown at half-mast, and said in a statement, “In elected office and as a private citizen, he was out most tireless, fearless and guileless civic crusader. We will miss him dearly, but his good works – and his wit and wisdom – will forever be a part of the city he loved so much.”

Greg Oden, former NBA overall draft pick, rumored to be considered by Heat, Cavaliers

Greg Oden, former Portland Trail Blazer, may be returning to the NBA with one of the league’s best teams.

Oden was released by the Trail Blazers after one of his three microfracture knee surgeries last March. According to the Los Angeles Times, Oden played 82 games since he was drafted in 2007 and none since 2009.

Oden was the number one overall draft pick in 2007, but his career was disrupted by knee injuries.

The Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers are supposedly the top two teams in the running to sign Oden, and Oden hopes to meet with the Heat in the next week.

Oden told reporters he is currently focused on his knee but and not worried much about where he will end up.

“I don’t know when, but I’m taking this year off,” he said. “I’ll play next year.”

Mike Conley, Oden’s agent, said that Oden may sign with a team before the end of the season for rehabilitation purposes and relationship building and that Oden is also looking into the Boston Celtics.

Fox Sports Florida analyzed the probability of the Heat signing Oden, considering that the Heat would need an open roster spot to do so. The Heat has 14 players with guaranteed deals, currently and will still have an open spot if the team does not sign Chris Anderson for the rest of the season. If the Heat does, it could still waive or trade a player before Feb. 21.

Conley noted that the Cavaliers may have appeal to Oden because of the team’s proximity to his school, Ohio State.

“I’m just getting my knee ready so when things do happen, I’ll be ready to play next year,” Oden said. “I’m still in the rehab process, but I’m taking it slow. I could possibly be playing at this point, but I’ve done that before, and I got injured before, so I’d rather take everything I am doing slow.”

BlackBerry 10 launches, reinstating the company seen as an underdog

BlackBerry 10, the new operating system for BlackBerry phones was launched today by the company formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd., which changed its name to BlackBerry, today.

The BlackBerry 10 operating system was originally set to launch in 2011, but the date was pushed back twice because of complications with its development.

Though Blackberry 10 has been launched, there will be a delay in new phones being delivered to the U.S., according to BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, because of testing that still needs to be done on the phones by U.S. carriers.

The first phone to launch with the BlackBerry 10 operating system will be the BlackBerry Z10, a touchscreen device with a browser, cameras and apps already installed, an attempt to compete with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android operating devices.

In April, a Q10 model will be released with a traditional BlackBerry keyboard on the device.

CNN reviewed features of the new operating system and Z10 which it found to be particularly appealing or off-putting for consumers. The positives included a Balance productivity feature (included with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, only) that can split the phone into two devices, separate for work and for personal use; an update to BlackBerry Messenger with video chat and the ability for users to share screens; and a touchscreen keyboard that can adapt to how its user types and become more accurate over time. The negatives included BlackBerry’s current underdog status and the lack of a complete catalog of popular and widely-used apps optimized for the new operating system, in comparison with the App Store and the Google Play store.

Alicia Keys is BlackBerry’s new celebrity endorsement, and the company hosted its launch parties for BlackBerry 10 at various high-profile venues around the world.

The Z10 and Q10 phones that will run the BlackBerry 10 operating system are projected to cost around $200 for a two-year contract, comparable to other popular smartphones.

Gun control hearing makes tension run high

The gun control hearing that took place today held by the Senate Judiciary Committee involved emotional testimonies and high tensions between representatives from both sides of the issue.

A couple of high-profile proponents and opponents of increased gun control testified, including National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly.

LaPierre argued against new gun control laws, suggesting that security and enforcement of current laws is the answer to gun violence. Kelly argued for more background checks for gun sales, especially at gun shows and through private sales.

At one point, LaPierre and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., got into an argument over the purposed increase of background checks.

LaPierre said, “Proposing more gun control laws, while failing to enforce the thousands we already have, it’s not a serious solution for reducing crime.”

Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head in Jan. 2011 while meeting with constituents outside of an Arizona supermarket, appeared at the hearing, pleading for lawmakers to take action to reduce gun violence.

“We must do something,” she said. “It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act.”

Kelly noted that the problem of gun violence is complex and involves mental illness, poverty and gun control laws. LaPierre argued that violent felons, gang members and the mentally ill in possession of firearms are not being prosecuted as aggressively as they were during past administrations.

President Barack Obama proposes a renewed ban on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines in addition to the increased background checks. LaPierre noted that the NRA is willing to work with Congress to curb gun violence but that the law-abiding gun owners of the nation should not have to pay for the acts of criminals.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., argued that gun rights are not at risk, but lives are.

Jim Nabors marries partner of 38 years

Jim Nabors, the actor known for playing Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Gomer Pyle, USMC” in the 1960s and hosting variety and talk shows in the 1970s, married longtime partner Stan Cadwallader Jan. 15 in Washington.

Nabors, 82, and Cadwallader, 64, have been together for 38 years and decided to tie the knot when gay marriage became legal in Washington last month. According to Hawaii News Now, the couple traveled there to get married from their home in Honolulu. The ceremony occurred inside the couple’s hotel room at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle and was performed by a judge in front of a few of the couple’s friends.

Nabors told Hawaii News Now, “It’s pretty obvious that we had no rights as a couple, yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to happen there. You’ve got to solidify something, and at my age, it’s probably the best thing to do.”

The gay marriage debate is something Nabors said he wants to stay out of. He said he has always been open about his sexual orientation to his friends and co-workers and never tried to keep it a secret. He also said he has never tried to publicize his homosexuality.

“I’ve known since I was a child, so, come on,” Nabors said. “It’s not that kind of a thing.”

Nabors said he does not view the marriage as a big deal or event and that he and Cadwallader made their vows to each other 38 years ago.

Microcephaly, rare neurological disorder, discovered in 8-year-old girl found locked in wooden cage

Microcephaly, a rare neurological disorder, made the case of an 8-year-old New Mexico girl found locked in a cage by her adoptive mother and her mother’s boyfriend a sad discovery for detectives.

According to the Mayo Clinic, microcephaly involves an infant’s head being much smaller than the heads of other children. It is typically the result of the brain developing abnormally before birth or not growing as it should after birth. There is no cure for the disease, and children with the disease usually have developmental issues.

Microcephaly affects one out of 25,000 children in the United States annually, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital. It can be caused by genetic defects, the abuse of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, a viral infection, rubella or could be related to other genetic conditions, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Mayo Clinic.

The child in question did have developmental disabilities as a result of microcephaly, according to police.

Police said Cindy Patriarchias, 33, was charged with one count of negligently causing child abuse, and Edmond Gonzales, 37, was charged with one count of negligently permitting child abuse Friday night.

The girl was found locked in a small wooden cage after Patriarchias’ estranged husband noticed the girl’s absence at an elementary school function Friday night where Patriarchias and Gonzales took her three other children and notified police that the girl might be home alone. When Patriarchias arrived at home, she allowed police to enter, where they freed the girl from the cage, which was in a bedroom, and had her examined by medical personnel.

According to ABC, the girl has been placed under the care of child protective services.

Deer antler velvet spray, containing NFL-banned IGF-1, allegedly used by Ray Lewis

Lewis maintains he has passed every drug test during his career

Deer antler velvet extract, which is included in a spray sold by Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS), may have been used by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, according to Sports Illustrated in an article published Tuesday.

According to Sports Illustrated, Lewis conducted a phone call with SWATS owner Mitch Ross and inquired about deer antler velvet spray shortly after he suffered a torn triceps muscle injury during the sixth week of the season.

Deer antler velvet spray includes a protein called IGF-1 that is banned by the NFL. However, according to Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Lewis has passed every substance test he has taken during his career.

According to Ross, in an interview with ESPN, Lewis used every product SWATS has to offer, including deer antler velvet spray, and was following a plan Ross set up for him.

Lewis told reporters that he has used products from SWATS but that his only tie to the company is through past coach of Oakland Raiders Hue Jackson. According to ThePostGame.com, Jackson was advised by the NFL to cut all ties with SWATS due to their marketing of products containing the NFL-banned IGF-1.

The phone call Sports Illustrated refers to includes Lewis telling Ross, “Just pile me up, and just send me everything you’ve got, because I got to get back on this this week.”

When questioned about the use of deer antler spray by reporters Tuesday, Lewis said, “Every test I’ve ever took in the NFL, there’s never been a question if I’ve ever even thought about using anything, so to even entertain stupidity like that… tell them to go try to get their story off somebody else.”

In addition to the controversy over the deer antler spray, Lewis was questioned over the misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge he pled guilty to when received in 2000 after the stabbing deaths of two men in Atlanta.

“Because of the sympathy I have for that family or what me and my family have endured because of all of that, nobody here is really qualified to ask those questions,” Lewis told reporters.

The Ravens continue to stand behind Lewis in refuting the allegations over the use of deer antler spray, IGF-1 or any other products prohibited by the NFL.