Giffords Long Road to Recovery

Gabrielle Giffords

There is hope that Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords can retrieve back her life, but the road to recovery will be ‘the hardest thing she will ever do” according to doctors. After being shot in the head in Tucson Ms. Giffords miraculously survived, and has regained consciousness. Doctors say every day she is showing signs of being more and more alert.

Dr. Gerard Francisco, the chief medical officer of TIRR Memorial Hermann rehab hospital, where Giffords is being treated, said that she is progressing nicely with therapy. Therapy today is gaining in its ability to treat and even reverse the consequences of traumatic injuries as the science becomes more sophisticated and high tech. Therefore, although it will be hard work, there is every reason to be optimistic that Garbrielle Giffords will get at least some of her life back, and with some luck, a lot of hard work and maybe some more miracles she can get all of her life back again.

States Planning on Fighting ‘Birthright’ Law

The 14th Amendment of the U.S.Constitution grants citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil, regardless of the citizenship status of the newborn’s parents. This law has allowed illegal immigrants and other people without U.S. citizenship to enter the country and give birth to full-fledged U.S. citizens with all the rights and obligations that go along with that status.

Arizona politicians are planning to introduce legislation which they hope will encourage other states to adopt which will prevent the children of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship under the terms of the 14th Amendment.

At the moment there are at least seven other states in which a similar bill has a good chance of passing, and another seven are also considering similar legislation.

The bill in Arizona is known as SB-1070, the ‘anti-illegal-immigrant bill, will be introduced by state Senator Russell Pearce on January 5th in Washington, D.C. According to an Arizona newspaper, there are legislators in Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah who also want to introduce similar laws this coming year.

Do Prairie Dogs Talk the Talk?

Scientists are studying prairie dogs to see if they can find some answers to the most intriguing questions of language and communication among animals. Prairie dogs are genetically related to squirrels and are of similar stature. They dig deep burrows underground to live in and live in small family groups in North America. A family unit consists of one dominant male, a few adult females, and their children. Their burrows include all the comforts of life, safety exits, storage rooms, sleeping areas and toilet rooms.

Dr. Con Slobodchikoff has been studying prairie dogs intensely for the past 20 years. He has been leading research at the Northern Arizona University and has come to some fascinating conclusions. Based on video and audio tapes he has taken of the animals responding to new stimuli in their own environment Dr. Slobodchikoff has come to believe that prairie dogs are in possession of a rich and complex vocabulary, including parts of speech such as nouns, verbs and adjectives.

In an interview with the Arizona Daily Star from January 2006, Dr. Slobodchikoff explains that,

“Within these calls, they [prairie dogs] can describe the physical features of the predator. They can describe the size and shape of an individual human and the color of clothes that he or she is wearing. They can describe the coat color and the size and shape of a domestic dog. . . . Our studies are showing that prairie dogs have the most sophisticated natural animal language that has been decoded to date.”

These studies are just the beginning. Perhaps other members of the animal kingdom are also capable of such advanced abilities at communication. More research is needed to find out if man’s use of language is really as unique as we think.

Ritual Objects Seized from Man at Airport

Elephant Tail

Airport officials at Dulles International Airport discovered a rather unusual assortment of objects in one man’s suitcase last Thursday. The man, traveling from Ghana and on his way to Maryland explained that elephant tails, dried hedgehogs, chicken blood, two dried chameleons and other items from the plant and animal kingdoms were needed for the practice of his religion.

The man was not arrested nor charged with any crime despite the fact that he declared to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents that all he had in his luggage werre dried herbs and clothing. According to CBP official Christopher Hess, “This is by far one of the strangest suitcases we’ve ever opened,” said Hess, CBP port director for Washington. Hess added that, “Regardless of its intended purpose, each item posed potentially severe animal and plant disease threats to American agriculture.”

The entire collection of the unusual assortment of items was incinerated by airport authorities.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore Great Fun for Families

If you are ever in the Baltimore area you might consider taking a trip to the National Aquarium. This amazing place is a must-see for anyone even a little bit interest in sea life. The Aquarium has on exhibit over 16,000 varieties of animals including one of the most dangerously toxic animals in the world, the poison dart frog, which is part of a unique breeding program at the Aquarium.

In addition to its role in the poison dart frog breeding program, the National Aquarium also has one of the best turtle collections in the entire country.

“Turtles are really interesting animals,” says Jack Cove, the general curator of this unique ‘zoo-arium.’ “They first appeared on the planet about 300 million years ago.”

Cover says that the best time to visit the National Aquarium in Baltimore is during the winter. There are hundreds of exhibits housing about 16,500 animals. The Aquarium is 115,000 square feet and has more than one million gallon of water within its walls. The most favorite exhibits are the Australian animals, the dolphins and the frogs.

The Pre-school Top Ten Reading List

It’s back to the wonderful world of classes, studying, research, and papers – vacation is definitely over. But, after spending such a great weekend with my adorable niece and nephew, my sister and I talked a lot about ideas for giving young children the best preparation for school – and life. In addition to being a mother, my sister is also an early childhood educator, so this is actually her field of expertise. One of the things we talked about was reading readiness. My sister has prepared a list of books she advises parents to read with their pre-school children, and I wanted to share it with the parents out there. So here is her top ten list:
1. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
2. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
3. Curious George by H.A. Rey
4. Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
5. Harry and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
6. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber
7. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
8. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
9. The Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole
10. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

Happy Family Reading!