CPSC, ATF warn of dangers of fireworks over US Independence Day celebrations

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CPSC, ATF warn of dangers of fireworks over US Independence Day celebrations

By | October 6, 2018

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Last week, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a press conference on the National Mall in Washington, DC, warning consumers of the dangers of fireworks, and advising them of safe handling. They were joined by representatives from the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF); Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); and other national safety agencies. Fireworks are often used to celebrate the United States’ July 4, 1776 independence from Great Britain. The Fourth of July is a time when many US families get together to celebrate, by holding reunions, picnics, barbecues, baseball games and firework displays; however, celebrations often turn sour due to injury or even death, caused by the mishandling of fireworks. In 2009, nearly 19,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics all over the country. Around 9,000 of those were to children aged under 18, and 6,000 occurred during the 30 days surrounding Independence Day.

CPSC chairman, Inez Tenenbaum, said that burns and cuts to limbs, the face and head were the most common injuries, and over half of them were due to firecrackers, rockets and sparklers. The agencies were joined at the news conference by Jason Henderson, who was injured in 2007 after building home-made fireworks. He had found instructions online detailing how to build M-80-style fireworks, and after purchasing the chemicals, began assembling them; however, the mixture exploded which resulted in him losing both hands and his right eye, and shrapnel caused multiple lacerations and puncture wounds to his entire body. “Don’t be the show, go and enjoy the show. I want to get people to move away from putting on their own displays and just go and enjoy the free shows. I mean they are free,” Henderson said. “You might as well take advantage of them while they are there. You can spend time with your family instead of being the one to light them and taking that risk.” Henderson also appears in a public-service announcement recently released by the ATF to YouTube, that shows how he has now been fitted with bionic arms.

Agencies recommend attending community fireworks shows held by city or county officials, which are held in a more controlled and professional environment. Additionally, many jurisdictions outlaw either all fireworks, or certain types, such as rockets and firecrackers.

Fireworks increase demands on fire departments and personnel at this time of year, acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines noted. “Four firefighters [have been killed] as a result of illegal fireworks. Calls to EMS [Emergency Medical Services] and fire departments increased as individuals continue to be injured and burned.” The dry weather and heat that many areas are experiencing also elevate the risk of brush and structure fires. The National Fire Protection Association said that over 22,500 fires started from fireworks in 2008.

Consumers who do purchase fireworks are encouraged to follow the following common sense rules: always read and follow directions; always supervise older children and teenagers if they are permitted to use fireworks; never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, child-friendly sparklers and “party-poppers” are a fun and safe alternative for them; keep animals inside or well away from the fireworks, the noise will often scare them; never light any fireworks inside buildings; light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from houses, dry leaves, and flammable materials; never ignite fireworks in metal or glass containers; light one firework at a time; move away to a safe distance immediately after lighting a firework; never return to a firework that has not ignited properly; never throw fireworks at another person, animal, or property; do not consume alcohol when using fireworks; keep a bucket of water or a hose in close proximity in case of fire, dispose of use fireworks in the bucket of water; buy from reliable dealers; only use legal fireworks; and follow the laws of your jurisdiction.

Grandmother of Barack Obama dies at 86

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Grandmother of Barack Obama dies at 86

By |

Monday, November 3, 2008

Madelyn Dunham, the maternal grandmother of United States 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama, has died of cancer at 86, just one day before the election.

Dunham, who was born in Peru, Kansas in 1922, helped to raise Obama from the age of 10. She lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for most of her life, where she died peacefully in her apartment shortly before midnight local time.

She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer. She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility,” said Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng in a joint statement to the press.

During his acceptance speech for Democratic presidential nominee he noted her with the words, “She’s the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life… She poured everything she had into me.”

Obama took time out from his presidential campaign in October to visit her at her bedside a week before she died.

Obama’s opponent John McCain also issued a statement saying his “thoughts and prayers go out” to Obama and his family.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Barack Obama and his family as they grieve the loss of their beloved grandmother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they remember and celebrate the life of someone who had such a profound impact in their lives,” said McCain in a statement to the press.

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Australian man to be executed in Singapore

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Australian man to be executed in Singapore

By |

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Supporters of convicted Australian drug trafficker, Van Nguyen, gathered outside the State Library in Melbourne yesterday to display thousands of messages of opposition to his death sentence.

Callers to talkback radio in Melbourne were overwhelmingly against the death penalty of Nguyen, who immediately admitted his guilt and has cooperated with authorities since being caught smuggling heroin into Singapore. Many called for a boycott of Singaporean products.

25-year-old Nguyen was arrested at Changi Airport in 2002 for carrying heroin and sentenced to death in March. Nguyen claims he carried the 396 grams of heroin strapped to his body in an attempt to pay off his brother Khoa’s $30,000 legal debts.

The Singapore government have announced they will execute Nguyen at dawn on December 2nd. Singapore President S. R. Nathan rejected Nguyen’s clemency four weeks ago. The Melbourne salesman was sentenced to death under Singapore law which determines a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of possessing 15 grams of heroin or more.

Nguyen’s mother was informed on Thursday by registered mail from the Singapore prisons service of the execution date. The letter stated that she should start making funeral arrangements. She will get to see her son in the three days leading up to the execution.

Despite repeated pleas for clemency from many thousands of supporters; religious groups; human rights organisations; the Pope; and the Australian Government – including Prime Minister, John Howard – Singapore officials have said Nguyen’s execution is irreversible.

Mr Howard had argued that Nguyen should be spared, citing mitigating circumstances in his case which pointed to the fact that he was not a serial drug trafficker but had merely been trying to pay off his brother’s debts.

The Victorian Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, says the Singaporean Government has shown no compassion whatsoever in its treatment of Van Nguyen and his family.

“What’s happening is brutal, is inappropriate. I, and the Victorian Government, vehemently oppose the death penalty in any circumstances”, he told ABC Radio. “This is a young kid who has assisted the police all the way… In any other country, he would get a discount in relation to the penalty. But because there is a mandatory death penalty for drug offences in Singapore, this young man may well be executed. It is just grossly inappropriate.”

“Singapore maintains that capital punishment is a criminal justice issue; it is the sovereign right of every country to decide whether or not to include capital punishment within its criminal justice system,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Singapore argues that there was no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished. At the most recent meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 66 countries dissociated themselves from a resolution calling for the abolition of capital punishment.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong affirmed Singapore’s position by saying that it has to “stand firm on drugs to protect its citizens from the scourge and to ensure the country does not become a conduit for the trafficking of illicit drugs.”

In reply to a letter appealing for clemency from his Australian counterpart Alexander Downer, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo said: “Mr Nguyen imported almost 400gm of pure heroin which would have supplied more than 26,000 doses to drug addicts.”

No one will be permitted to see Nguyen on the morning of his execution. His body will be released to his mother.