Midday Live News Report - March 20, 2007

Richards Opens Campaign Office in Bowling Green
Kentucky's speaker of the house said his hometown is the heart of his campaign for governor.

Jody Richards is in Bowling Green, Ky., today announcing the opening of his local campaign office. Richards has represented Bowling Green in the Kentucky legislature since 1975. He's the longest serving speaker of the house in Kentucky history.

The Richards-Brown campaign also has offices in Louisville and Frankfort and plans to open a fourth in Lexington.

The Bowling Green office is located in the Green Tree shopping center on Fairview Avenue.

Congress Sifts Through E-mails About Firing U.S. Attorneys

Everyone knows e-mails can come back to haunt you. This morning, Congress is going over some 3,000 pages of justice department e-mails to see if there was any wrong-doing.

The e-mails talk about firing U.S. attorneys across the country.

Rich Pond Schools to Receive a Facelift

Preliminary designs for the new Rich Pond Middle and High Schools have been approved. Architects unveiled the plans for the new schools at Monday's school board meeting.

According to the drawings the two schools will actually be connected by a central kitchen that will serve food to both the high school and middle school students. Both schools will also be attached to a main auditorium.

Architect Kenny Stanfield said the timing of adding the new schools led to building them together.

"The idea of being able to have a middle school and a high school designed and built on the same site at the same time is what led us to look for ways to have shared items like the central kitchen, like the auditorium," Stanfield said.

The 325,000 square foot project will go out for bid in October 2007 and is expected to open in the fall of 2009.

Plano School Update

Meanwhile, the school board was also updated on the current status of Plano Elementary School.

That school is being built in order to lessen some of the overcrowding at Rich Pond Elementary.

"Right now the project is 'dried in' meaning the roof is complete. Windows are in place and now they are focusing on some of the interior finishes. They've started working on some of the base coats of paint in the various areas of the building," Stanfield said.

The school will feature a parent drop-off on one side of the building and a bus drop-off on the other.

Stanfield said work should be complete in July 2007.

Heightism

We all know we're not supposed to discriminate based on race, color, creed or gender. But how many people make judgments based on a person's height?

It's called heightism, and there's even a push in one state to make height discrimination against the law.

He was good enough to be a cop and serve in the Army, but Matthew Campisi said some people treat him like a second-class citizen.

"What do people say to you? What do they call you?" Campisi said. "Well, I've been called a runt, a pip squeak; whenever somebody's mad at me the first thing that comes out of their mouth is 'that little, you know what'. That little what? That little ah,"

Campisi is a 5-foot-5 building inspector in Pensacola, Fla. He said, while some people may think twice about making fun of those who suffer from dwarfism, they think nothing of discriminating against someone who's merely short.

"People will definitely insult me and not feel any qualms about it, any problem with it," Campisi said. "It's so rampant, yet so invisible."

Ellen Frankel, at 4-feet-8.5-inches, said she faces heightism almost daily.

"A lot of, 'you can't have a child, you look like a child.' They will use you as an armrest," Frankel said.

This Massachusetts wife and mother of two, has enough stories to fill more than 250 pages in her new book, "Beyond Measure."

"Everybody wants to feel that they are seen in this world. Everybody wants a true sense of power, of being respected. And when they are hearing those comments from strangers and friends, it's hard," Frankel said.

All the jokes, the embarrassment, and the helplessness, has led some short people to commit or consider suicide. Frankel even said that things got that bad for her.

"It came close you know," she said. "I know for myself, it led to struggle with eating issues, and I know for many other women it has come out in similar ways."

For many it is painful to do something as simple as walk out the door every morning, to be confronted by a world that is taller and full of bad jokes. But the name calling only scratches the surface.

In a nation where the average male is 5 feet 9 or 69 inches and the average female is 5 feet 4 or 64 inches, measuring up is a constant struggle in life and in the workplace, where some say short people have a harder time moving up the corporate ladder or getting paid like their taller colleagues.

In a non-scientific speed dating experiment, conducted by CNN more than a year ago, some compelling evidence was found. Seven single men, equal in most ways except their height, set out to go on 20 dates in less than 90 minutes. The short men ended up with four matches, the tall men had nine.

But what's more when all the men were rated by the women the tall men received higher marks on who was more confident, or who would be a good leader or good provider.

Some lawmakers want to help out. Massachusetts would become only the second state, after Michigan, to offer this protection.

Campisi, who also heads the National Organization of Short Statured People, is not only hoping for more laws, but for a public more aware of the injury their jokes can inflict.

"When I look in the mirror I see a fully capable human being, somebody that, you know, deserves just as much respect as somebody taller," Campisi said. "You can see the little wind coming off the Summit of Everest."

Frankel, who takes her story to schools and conferences, has gained confidence by hiking around the world's highest peak. Mt. Everest, she said, is the great equalizer.

"It really didn't matter if they were 6 foot 4 or 4 foot 8," Frankel said.

There's been a sharp increase in the number of people with Alzheimer's disease, which supports some predictions of a future epidemic.

A new report from the Alzheimer's Association says: More than five million Americans are living with the disease. That's a 10 percent increase since 2002.

The report goes on to say: Unless scientists find a way to delay Alzheimer's more than seven million people will have it by the year 2030.

According to researchers, advances in treating heart disease and cancer are keeping people alive long enough to get Alzheimer's.

Update on the Contaminated Pet Food

Now, to the contaminated pet food, this has cat and dog owners across the country worried.

The FDA said it may have identified the ingredient which prompted the recall. It affects 60 million cans and pouches of pet food sold under dozens of different brand names.

At least ten pets have already died.

"I cried everyday. I felt so bad. You could just tell from the look in their eye that they needed something," pet owner Beth Calhoun said.

For Beth and Mike Calhoun the past two months have not been easy.

"It was pretty brutal. He just looked awful. He was crying and his eyes were glazed over, and I thought this just isn’t right," Mike said. "And the same thing with Zoe - the cat. I looked at her when I came home one day and I said she's just not right."

Their dog, Angus, died in January. Zoe, their cat, also died a few weeks ago of kidney failure - both at the recalled pet food. FDA warns more pet owners may share the Calhoun's sad fate.

The recall of nearly 100 brands of pet food may be too late for some cats and dogs. The company Menu Foods said it started testing its product in late February, a week after receiving complaints. Of the 40-50 animals they tested seven died.

The ingredient wheat gluten may be to blame. It may have been contaminated with mold or another toxin. Vets said owners need to watch their pets closely.

"You'll see lethargy, increased urination, increased consumption of water and loss of appetite," Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker said.

An important warning but too late for the Calhouns.

"You think, my gosh, I fed them that. Now I didn't know but you still live with a little bit of guilt there. And it's just real hard," Mike said.


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