Your West Valley News: Local news from Phoenix's West Valley communities - Sun City West, Sun City Grand, Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, El Mirage, Youngtown

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  • Peoria police, 7-Eleven team to 'chill' kids

    PEORIA, Ariz. - As temperatures rise in the Valley, the Peoria Police Department will be handing out free Slurpee coupons to local youth.The Peoria Police Department is partnering with a local 7-Eleven store to hand out the free coupons while the officers are on patrol as part of the "Operation Chill" program."This offers the kids a free treat and also gives officers an opportunity to interact with local youth," stated public safety department spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto in an e-mail.The "Operation Chill" program was started in 1995 by 7-Eleven and has partnered with officers across the country to hand out more than 12.5 million coupons. An additional one million coupons are expected to be handed out this year.“The coupons are a great way for officers who are patrolling the streets to interact with our youth in a positive way,” said Peoria Police Chief Roy Minter. “We can’t underestimate what these simple interactions can mean to our kids, many times they still remember the officer and the free gift years later.”

  • Dysart district sets up single portal

    A single Dysart Unified School District Parent/Student Portal is now available to all K-12 parents/students throughout the district.The previously separate K-8 Parent Portal (Pinnacle Internet Viewer) has been eliminated. The streamlined Parent/Student Portal is a one-stop online location where parents and students can view assignments; grades; attendance; and more, in a real-time environment, using one login.Visit and follow the clear instructions to create a new account, if needed, and access student information.  If assistance is needed with an account, contact the student’s school.For information about the Parent/Student Portal, click on the Parent Instructions link in the upper left corner of the Parent/Student Portal page.

  • DUSD offers text notices

    The Dysart Unified School District now offers emergency, attendance, priority, and teacher notifications via text message for convenience.Visit to create a new account, if needed. Once logged in to the Parent/Student Portal, click on “Contact Preferences” to the left and follow the clear instructions to select messaging preferences. If assistance with an account is needed, please contact the student’s school.  For information about the Parent/Student Portal, click on the Parent Instructions link in the upper left corner of the Parent/Student Portal page.

  • Sun City resident becomes bird baby sitter

    Rosalie of Sun City wrote: I live in a patio house in Sun City with 12-foot walls in my back patio.Three weeks ago, upon rising, I glanced out of my patio door and to my surprise I saw a male and female quail accompanied by 10 little balls of fluff running around on my back patio. How cute is that? What fun! What to do about food for them, since the walls are too high for them to fly over to find food. Oh well, I have been there before when I suddenly had 10 little ducklings in my pond. What a surprise that was. Apparently, I have a safe haven and a very inviting area for birthing birds and fowl. I went to the feed store to get 10 pounds of mash to feed my new family. Mama duck didn’t know what to do, so she flew the coop.The ducklings had so much fun playing in my pond and jumping off the rocks into the water. They were adorable for about two weeks, but then the pond got murky and they wore out their welcome. A friend that had a pond and acreage came to the rescue. I am happy to say they all survived and went on to have more babies.Now back to the quails. I unfortunately lost four of the original 10, but the rest were doing great. I made sure I had water, mash and wild bird seed. All went well for about a week or two until the pigeons of the neighborhood found out about all this free food. Does that sound familiar in Sun City? Well, anyway, between my chasing away the pigeons and the birds fighting off the invaders, the quails learned to fly in a hurry and flew over the wall and landed on my front patio.Hopefully they can now find their own food, and I am no longer a bird baby sitter.• Micki Fischer profiles Northwest Valley residents and organizations in Your Turn. Email Your Turn submissions to her at

  • El Mirage becomes ‘Safe Haven’ for babies

    The City of El Mirage has partnered with Arizona Safe Baby Haven and will display safe baby haven stickers on all fire department apparatus.“The city welcomes Arizona Safe Baby Haven and shares the same passion and commitment to raising awareness and educating the public on Arizona’s Safe Baby Haven law,” city officials stated Tuesday in a release.Arizona’s Safe Haven Baby Law was enacted in 2001 to provide mothers of newborn babies a safe option to relinquish their parental rights to their babies with no legal consequences.

  • Kentucky Rain comes to Sundial Aug. 13

    The Recreation Centers of Sun City presents Chance Tinder and Kentucky Rain at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Sundial Auditorium.If you’re a fan of Elvis Presley, this is one show that you won’t want to miss. Just imagine for a moment that Elvis survived the late 1970s and found himself performing his greatest hits “country style.” Everything from “Love Me Tender” to “Suspicious Minds” and more, “country-fied” as only “The King” could do.This show is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the RCSC Lakeview Clubs Office at 10626 W. Thunderbird Blvd. in Sun City or by calling 623-561-4660 (Visa and MasterCard only). Tickets are $13 for RCSC cardholders; $15 for the public.Doors open at 6 p.m.. Gourmet food trucks will be on-site 1 1/2 hours prior to showtime.The Sundial Auditorium is at 14801 N. 103rd Ave. in Sun City. 

  • Are you eligible for a new Medicare Advantage Plan?

    If you have Medicare coverage, you are probably familiar with a time of year known as the Annual Enrollment Period. This is a timeframe, typically from mid-October to early December, when people who are eligible for Medicare can enroll in, disenroll from or change their Medicare Advantage plan for the upcoming year.Once you select a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have a window from January to mid-February to disenroll and return to original Medicare. You can then purchase a separate Part D Prescription Drug Plan from a private company if you would like to do so.After the enrollment and disenrollment periods end, you are locked into original Medicare or the Medicare Advantage Plan you selected for the remainder of the year. However, there are some situations that may let you make a change to your existing coverage anytime of the year if you qualify.A Special Enrollment Period allows you to make changes to your Medicare coverage as a result of a specific circumstance. You may be eligible if you:• Are clinically diagnosed with certain chronic conditions.• Are just turning 65 or gaining your eligibility for Medicare.

  • Brewer wants review of state's death penalty process

    PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is asking for a review of the state's execution process after a condemned inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half before dying. Brewer said in a statement Wednesday that she is concerned by how long it took for an administered drug protocol to complete the execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood. The governor says she is directing the state Department of Corrections to conduct a full review. However, she says his execution showed justice was carried out. Brewer says medical and eyewitness accounts indicate Wood did not suffer and died in a lawful manner. His defense lawyers say the botched execution should have taken 10 minutes. Wood was convicted in the 1989 shooting deaths of 29-year-old Debbie Dietz and 55-year-old Gene Dietz.

  • Phoenix-area temperature heat up to tie record

    PHOENIX (AP) — The city of Yuma heated up to a record-setting temperature Wednesday afternoon while Phoenix came close to breaking its own. The National Weather Service says Yuma hit a high of 117, surpassing the record of 115 which was set on this date in 1959. Phoenix tied the day's record of 114, which was set in 2006. The city and parts of southwestern Arizona are under an excessive heat warning much of Wednesday due to temperatures that will range from between 112 to 118 in low desert locations. The warning issued by the National Weather Service runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. Meanwhile, a high pollution advisory for ozone is in effect for the Phoenix area for Wednesday due to high temperatures and a shift in air flow.

  • No unaccompanied migrant kids remain in Nogales

    NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona border officials say no unaccompanied child immigrants apprehended in Texas remain at a Nogales facility. Tucson Sector Border Patrol Agent Bryan Flowers said Wednesday that there are no longer any unaccompanied minors, apprehended in South Texas, at the holding center. Flowers says a "small number" of children who were apprehended in the Tucson Sector are still there. According to Flowers, no additional immigrants are currently scheduled to arrive. Flowers says the center will remain in place as a possible resource for expediting immigration processing. Border Patrol officials say the Nogales location is being phased out as the agency gets a better handle on the problem. More than 1,000 children were flown and bused from south Texas after border agents there became overwhelmed.

  • Ocean crash kills teen pilot seeking world record

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — His pilot's license fresh in his hands, an Indiana teenager set out in June for the adventure of a lifetime: an around-the-world flight with his father designed to break a record and raise money to build schools in his father's native Pakistan. Just days before the father and son were to return home to Indiana, the trip turned tragic when their plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa Tuesday night. The body of 17-year-old Haris Suleman was recovered, but crews were still searching Wednesday for the father, Babar Suleman. The Sulemans left the state June 19 in hopes of setting the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so. For more than a month, the trip was everything they'd hoped for, with visits to the pyramids and rides on camels in Egypt, a family reunion in Pakistan and much more. Even food poisoning and delays that meant they wouldn't complete the trip in their intended 30 days couldn't dilute the teen's enthusiasm as he saw Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. "There is so much beauty and culture in each country that I couldn't possibly witness all that I want to," Haris Suleman told The Indianapolis Star in an email recently. The teen's sister, Hiba Suleman, said her father and brother had undergone training to learn how to handle an ocean landing and wore protective immersion suits when flying over water. She said it was unusual for them to take off at night but didn't know whether that contributed to the crash. "With a trip like this, there's always a risk, and they did prepare for that risk. You can plan all you want, but sometimes things just don't happen the way you planned," she said at a news conference Wednesday in Plainfield, Indiana, where the family lives. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has an inspector in American Samoa who will be looking into this accident. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Terry Williams said the agency will work with local authorities on the investigation, but he couldn't confirm if NTSB will send its own investigator to the territory. U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie said witnesses reported seeing the single-engine Hawker Beechcraft go down about a mile from shore shortly after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport. The plane was headed to Honolulu. "It's a tragedy of immense proportions," family friend Azhar Khan told reporters. Haris, who had just completed his junior year of high school, had been flying with his father since age 8 and in June acquired his pilot's license and instrument rating, which authorized him to fly an aircraft over oceans. The trip was also raising money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. The organization has built 1,000 schools for boys and girls in Pakistan, and Khan said the father-son team had raised about $500,000, nearly enough to build three more. Hiba Suleman said the cause was dear to her father, who left Pakistan in 1983. She said the family had been involved with the foundation for the last seven years and wanted to raise money to promote education and women's rights in her parents' homeland. She said the trip had been a dream of her father's for years and that her brother was excited to join in and pursue the record. He planned to be the pilot in command except in an emergency. Haris acknowledged the risks. "Why does any explorer undertake the necessary risks in order to accomplish their dream?" he wrote in a July 15 blog for the Huffington Post. "Because that person has a drive, they have a focus, and they have a need to explore that dream."

  • Social Security spent $300M on 'IT boondoggle'

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency. In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm. Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can't say when it will be completed or how much it will cost. In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process — delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system. "The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns," the report said. As a result, agency leaders have decided to "reset" the program in an effort to save it, the report said. As part of that effort, Social Security brought in the outside consultants from McKinsey to figure out what went wrong. They found a massive technology initiative with no one in charge — no single person responsible for completing the project. They issued their report in June, though it was not publicly released. As part of McKinsey's recommendations, acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin appointed Terrie Gruber to oversee the project last month. Gruber had been an assistant deputy commissioner. "We asked for this, this independent look, and we weren't afraid to hear what the results are," Gruber said in an interview Wednesday. "We are absolutely committed to deliver this initiative and by implementing the recommendations we obtained independently, we think we have a very good prospect on doing just that." The revelations come at an awkward time for Colvin. President Barack Obama nominated Colvin to a full six-year term in June, and she now faces confirmation by the Senate. Colvin was deputy commissioner for 3½ years before becoming acting commissioner in February 2013. The House Oversight Committee is also looking into the program, and whether Social Security officials tried to bury the McKinsey report. In a letter to Colvin on Wednesday, committee leaders requested all documents and communications about the computer project since March 1. The letter was signed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight committee, and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and James Lankford, R-Okla. They called the project "an IT boondoggle." The troubled computer project is known at the Disability Case Processing System, or DCPS. It was supposed to replace 54 separate, antiquated computer systems used by state Social Security offices to process disability claims. As envisioned, workers across the country would be able to use the system to process claims and track them as benefits are awarded or denied, and claims are appealed. But as of April, the system couldn't even process all new claims, let alone accurately track them as they wound their way through the system, the report said. In all, more than 380 problems were still outstanding, and users hadn't even started testing the ability of the system to handle applications from children. "The DCPS project is adrift, the scope of the project is ambiguous, the project has been poorly executed, and the project's development lacks leadership," the three lawmakers said in their letter to Colvin. Maryland-based Lockheed Martin was selected in 2011 as the prime contractor on the project. At the time, the company valued the contract at up to $200 million, according to a press release. McKinsey's report does not specifically fault Lockheed but raises the possibility of changing vendors, and says Social Security officials need to better manage the project. Gruber said Social Security will continue to work with Lockheed "to make sure that we are successful in the delivery of this program." Steve Field, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, would only say that the company is committed to delivering the program. Nearly 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security disability benefits. That's a 45 percent increase from a decade ago. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,146. The report comes as the disability program edges toward the brink of insolvency. The trust fund that supports Social Security's disability program is projected to run out of money in 2016. At that point, the system will collect only enough money in payroll taxes to pay 80 percent of benefits, triggering an automatic 20 percent cut in benefits. Congress could redirect money from Social Security's much bigger retirement program to shore up the disability program, as it did in 1994. But that would worsen the finances of the retirement program, which is facing its own long-term financial problems. Social Security disability claims are first processed through a network of field offices and state agencies called Disability Determination Services. There are 54 of these offices, and they all use different computer systems, Gruber said. If your claim is rejected, you can ask the state agency to reconsider. If your claim is rejected again, you can appeal to an administrative law judge, who is employed by Social Security. It takes more than 100 days, on average, to processing initial applications, according to agency data. The average processing time for a hearing before an administrative law judge is more than 400 days. The new processing system is supposed to help alleviate some of these delays.

  • 'Wallace and Ladmo' star dead at 82

    PHOENIX -- Valley radio legend Pat McMahon has confirmed for ABC15, "Wallace and Ladmo" star Bill Thompson passed away Wednesday following a long illness.McMahon said Thompson's daughter told him Thompson passed away at a Valley hospice facility. He was 82 years old.According to the show's Facebook page, the "Wallace and Ladmo" Show had a remarkable 35 1/2 year run from 1954-1989 on local television station KPHO. It was eventually seen all over Arizona, northern Mexico and towns in California near the AZ border. The show was even briefly syndicated to Los Angeles and New York.The trio that made up the show were Bill “Wallace" Thompson, Ladimir “Ladmo" Kwiatkowski and Pat McMahon.

  • Kentucky Rain comes to Sundial Aug. 13

    The Recreation Centers of Sun City presents Chance Tinder and Kentucky Rain at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Sundial Auditorium.If you’re a fan of Elvis Presley, this is one show that you won’t want to miss. Just imagine for a moment that Elvis survived the late 1970s and found himself performing his greatest hits “country style.” Everything from “Love Me Tender” to “Suspicious Minds” and more, “country-fied” as only “The King” could do.This show is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at the RCSC Lakeview Clubs Office at 10626 W. Thunderbird Blvd. in Sun City or by calling 623-561-4660 (Visa and MasterCard only). Tickets are $13 for RCSC cardholders; $15 for the public.Doors open at 6 p.m.. Gourmet food trucks will be on-site 1 1/2 hours prior to showtime.The Sundial Auditorium is at 14801 N. 103rd Ave. in Sun City. 

  • Get your pics on Route 66 photo tour

    There’s nothing like the wind-in-your-hair feeling of the open road. Interestingly, our state boasts the longest contiguous stretches of one of the most storied highways in America — Route 66, also known as The Mother Road. The route — which opened in 1926 and originally ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif. — was a key thoroughfare for families migrating west during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. It soon came to symbolize freedom and opportunity and still remains one of the most recognizable symbols of Americana around the world.Interest in Route 66 has increased in recent years, thanks in part to a number of television shows and books, including Jim Hinkley’s best-selling “Route 66 Backroads” and “Ghost Towns of Route 66,” featuring the stellar photography of travel journalist Kerrick James.You can experience that open-road freedom while capturing photos of Arizona’s Route 66 by traveling along with James on the “Roaming Arizona’s Route 66: A Through Each Others Eyes Self-Drive Photo Workshop” Aug. 27-29.This three-day trip, beginning at Kingman’s El Trovatore Motel, takes participates along the longest drivable piece of Route 66, including stops in Hackberry, Truxton, Peach Springs, Seligman and the Road Kill Cafe, Ash Fork, Williams, Flagstaff, Holbrook and Winslow. During the trip you will see and photograph — under James’ expert tutelage — the quirky and colorful bits of Route 66, while overnighting at vintage hotels like Holbrook’s Wigwam Motel.“Route 66 is about the automobile and the open road,” said James, who said you don’t need to be a photography expert to join the trip. “You can bring your favorite car — from your muscle car to your Porsche. It’s really fun to photograph from a moving car or other people in a moving car.”All you need is a working camera and the desire to experience a bit of local and national history. He’ll make sure you get where you need to go and have the guidance to capture some iconic images for your own scrapbooks.

  • Goodyear's Caballero Grill closes doors

    Caballero Grill ( restaurant in Goodyear has announced that they closed for business on July 13. The restaurant is hoping to reopen in a new location.The building the currently housed Caballero Grill is currently for sale. The restaurant was challenged due to the high cost of overhead.Co-founders Paul Fratella and Anthony Guerriero are considering opening up the restaurant in a new location or selling the concept to another restaurateur.“We are very grateful for the local community and their warm welcome to our then-unknown concept back in January of 2012. We have had a wonderful time serving the local community and hope that we will have the opportunity to provide great food and top quality service to them in the future,” said Paul Fratella, co-founder of Caballero Grill, in a release.“We look forward to our future endeavors and appreciate the opportunities we’ve had here in the West Valley and to the valued friends and colleagues we’ve gotten to know,” said Anthony Guerriero.As for future plans, neither Fratella nor Guerriero have any immediate plans in the works.

  • Drive-ins use creativity to afford digital switch

    SACO, Maine (AP) — Many in the movie industry feared the need to convert to digital could be the death knell for drive-ins, but drive-in operators are finding creative ways to afford the switch. Drive-in movie theater operators say more than 200 of the remaining 348 drive-ins in the country have made the expensive conversion from film to digital, which typically costs more than $70,000. Theater owners say conversions escalated quickly in 2013 and will help keep the drive-ins in business for now, promising news for an industry that peaked in the 1950s and '60s, then with more than 4,000 drive-in theaters nationwide. Some drive-ins are raising money using crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter while others are taking advantage of financing programs or renting out their theaters as flea markets during off-hours. Ry Russell, general manager of Saco Drive-In, launched a social-media campaign to win an $80,000 digital projection system in a contest sponsored by Honda. His drive-in theater in Saco is celebrating its 75th anniversary by welcoming hundreds of cars to its giant roadside screen to watch the latest films on a new digital projection system. "We're just seeing Darwinism kind of take over," Russell said. "The ones that survive will prosper." It's a story that's playing out at drive-ins all over the country, where conversion to digital is the key to survival, said John Vincent Jr., president of the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Studios are phasing out 35mm film prints as Hollywood moves toward all-digital distribution. Even older movies are difficult to obtain on film because many repertory companies have gone digital, said Vincent, noting that people in the industry expect this season to be "the last summer of film." In Westbrook, 15 miles up the road from Saco, the owners of the 62-year-old Pride's Corner Drive In are struggling just to keep business alive — they can only show movies in 35mm film and have raised just $1,350 of the $100,000 they need to convert to digital. "When they stop making film, that's it," said Andrew Tevanian, operator of Pride's Corner. "Then you're out in the cold." These days, moviegoers in 44 states can take in a drive-in movie from the comfort of their own vehicles, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania have the most drive-ins, with nearly 30 each; Indiana has 20 and California, 17. Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota and Wyoming are the only states without them. In Rhode Island, Rustic Drive In in Smithfield sometimes welcomes 500 cars on a Saturday. It needs to because the company that owns the theater spent more than $200,000 on three new digital projectors for its three screens. The company is taking advantage of an offer from Los Angeles-based Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp., which arranges flexible loans and reimbursements from studios, a representative said. The conversion means the 63-year-old drive-in is in it for the long haul, said Deborah Belisle, vice president of the company that runs the theater. "That is saying we're staying," Belisle said. "The ones that are left now, they're not going anywhere."

  • Toyota raises stakes with hydrogen fuel cell

    Tokyo • Rocket science long dismissed as too impractical and expensive for everyday cars is getting a push into the mainstream by Toyota, the world’s top-selling automaker.Buoyed by its success with electric-gasoline hybrid vehicles, Toyota is betting that drivers will embrace hydrogen fuel cells, an even cleaner technology that runs on the energy created by an electrochemical reaction when oxygen in the air combines with hydrogen stored as fuel.Unlike internal combustion engines which power most vehicles on roads today, a pure hydrogen fuel cell emits no exhaust, only some heat and a trickle of pure water. Fuel cells also boast greater efficiency than the internal combustion process, which expends about two-thirds of the energy in gasoline as heat.Toyota’s fuel cell car will go on sale before April next year. Despite advantages that are seemingly compelling, the technology has struggled to move beyond its prototypes after several decades of research and development by industry and backing from governments.For the auto industry in particular, there have been significant hurdles to commercialization including the prohibitive expense of such vehicles. On top of that, fueling stations are almost nonexistent. Doubters also quibble about the green credentials of fuel cells because hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.But Satoshi Ogiso, the engineer leading the Toyota project, is confident there’s a market that will grow in significance over time.

Featured columns

  • OPINION: America’s heart is at stake

    Based on some reactions, you’d think Pope Francis himself is giving unaccompanied minors rides in his Popemobile into the United States, encouraging the dangerous journey and chaos at the end of the road.Some are reacting to this headline: “Pope Francis calls on U.S. to welcome illegal immigrants.” His message though, wasn’t a call to abolish borders and law, but to see the humanity, for goodness’ sake.What this shepherd of the leading charitable organization in the world said was that people of good will cannot tolerate a “throwaway culture.” This happens to be a leading theme of his papacy. We so often don’t even look at the person next to us on an elevator. So, of course, women and children and men showing up on our border - what is clearly both a humanitarian crisis and a political headache - wanting a better life is abstract and foreign to most of us at best.In a message to a conference on migration in Mexico, Pope Francis addressed our current border situation: “I would ... like to draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence.” They’ve largely made the trip, he wrote, from Central America and Mexico “under extreme conditions and in pursuit of a hope that in most cases turns out to be vain. They are increasing day by day.” He described it as a humanitarian emergency that “requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”However, he said: “These measures, however, will not be sufficient, unless they are accompanied by policies that inform people about the dangers of such a journey and, above all, that promote development in their countries of origin.”Instead of demanding the U.S. open its borders to whomever, whenever, the pope implored, “this challenge demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”

  • Sunscreens: 5 skin-saving facts

    Sunscreen may be big business, with sales topping $1 billion last year, but not nearly enough of us seem to buy into its importance, says Consumer Reports. More than half of the respondents in a new Consumer Reports survey say they usually skip sunscreen.It’s not surprising, then, that the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers, the most common types, has reached alarming proportions — up 77 percent in the past 14 years — and rates of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, have also increased. Knowing the facts can save your birthday suit — and possibly your life.1. You’re never too old to start wearing sunscreen. By age 40, you’ve racked up only half of your lifetime dose of UV rays; by age 60, just 74 percent. And for those older than 50, being in the sun sans protection can be particularly dangerous.“Over the years, your body begins to lose its ability to repair the cell damage created by the sun’s rays, making you more susceptible to skin cancer,” says Dr. Steven Wang, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, N.J, and a member of the photobiology committee of the Skin Cancer Foundation, which has corporate sponsors, including sunscreen manufacturers. “At the same time, your immune system, which plays a major role in halting the growth of skin cancers, weakens.” That goes a long way toward explaining why most skin cancers are found on older people who have spent a lot of time in the sun.2. Covering up should be your first priority. Research shows that people who rely on sunscreens alone tend to burn more than those who stay in the shade and wear long sleeves. “Sunscreens are just one tool,” Wang says. Avoid the sun or stay in the shade when the sun is the strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and dress right for the occasion. Wear a hat and clothing that’s made from tightly woven fabric. (Dark colors are better at blocking UV rays.) Specially made fashions with built-in sun protection (you’ll see them labeled as UPF, for “ultraviolet protection factor”) might be more lightweight and comfortable than regular clothing.3. Sunscreen can give you a false sense of security. It’s a common misconception that if you’re wearing sunscreen, you can stay in the sun for as long as you like. Some studies show an association between sunscreen use and an increased risk of skin cancer, probably because users felt more protected and increased their sun time — often without reapplying. (That’s a habit that hasn’t changed; almost 40 percent of respondents in the survey said they rarely or never reapply sunscreen.) Sunscreen is protective, but it’s not a magic bullet.

  • OPINION: U.S. needs to be mindful of its limitations in Middle East

    The problem with the Middle East is there are no good answers from an American point of view. The Middle East is dominated by Muslim majority countries and Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims have been at war with each other since they split after founder Muhammad’s death.  At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was defeated and split up by the European victors, forming the current set of states in the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire, a Muslim empire, was the pride of Muslims, and its defeat is the historic shame of the Muslims.Many Muslim leaders have promised a return of power and pride in an attempt to unite Muslims. None have succeeded but the current leader of the Islamic State that has so dramatically overtaken parts of Syria and Iraq is having a go at this message.Regardless of the reasons or the blame, the Middle East has defied attempts to tame it, whether Russia in Afghanistan or the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Muslims of the Middle East are not controllable except by force whether by non-Muslims or Muslims. So it’s not a matter of what we or anyone else wants. It’s what the incontrovertible nature of what Muslims want.They are in the majority, and they have an insatiable desire to dominate non-Muslims as well as Muslims of the other sect.  Since it is not in our nature to take over a country and own it, we do not have a viable solution to this problem. Therefore whatever action we were to engage in over there, we are not likely to achieve our long-term goal. So rather than attempting to control the situation or the outcome, it seems to me our best strategy is to create an excellent defense against the possible outcomes.We currently have an ally, despite President Obama’s best attempt to create distrust of us by that ally, in Israel. They are strong, they are competent and they wish us no harm. Therefore we should support them intensely. The Kurds of northern Iraq have been friendly toward us even before we ousted Saddam Hussein, and they have demonstrated they are strong and competent. We should support them intensely and disregard the idea that they are part of Iraq. We are not going to control this outcome, and Iraq is not going to survive as a country.

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