When Parents Fight, Babies Lose Sleep

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Aug. 3 (UPI) — Marital conflict between parents of adopted children ages 9 months to 18 months resulted in their children having trouble sleeping, U.S. researchers say.

Jenae M. Neiderhiser, a professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, says adoptive families were used in the study because the researchers could focus on environmental factors, since there are no shared genetic factors if a child does not share genes with a parent.

“It is important to understand how parenting comes in to play here,” Neiderhiser says. “Looking at the marital relationship is not direct parent-child interaction, but it is an index of stress in the family.”

The researchers interviewed 357 sets of adoptive parents both together and separately, assessing their habits and emotions as well as their children’s behaviors. The parents were interviewed twice — first when their children were 9 months old, and again at 18 months.

Parents were asked a series of questions, including, “Have you or your partner seriously suggested the idea of divorce?”

The study, published in the journal Child Development, showed marital conflict during the first survey at 9 months predicted a child would be more likely to have sleep problems at the time of the second survey at 18 months.

“Our study suggests that marital instability is impacting change in the child’s sleep patterns over time, and it could be that this is setting the child up for a pattern of problematic sleep,” Neiderhiser says.

Girl, 11, Forced Off Train In Sweden

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A Swedish train conductor was suspended for forcing an 11-year-old girl to get off a train when she was unable to produce a ticket, authorities said Wednesday.

The girl, an immigrant from Africa who speaks little Swedish, was traveling with her older sister, who had the tickets and was using the toilet when the conductor came around, the Swedish news agency TT reported. The girl got off the train in Kumla in central Sweden about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and was not found until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Mats Nylen, a spokesman for the Orebro police, said a woman who found the girl wandering around alone gave her shelter for the night.

“The woman felt sorry for the girl and let her come home with her. She stayed there overnight,” he said. “When they went out this morning to buy food and a train ticket, they were discovered by the police who were looking for her.”

Dag Rosander, a spokesman for the Swedish national railway SJ, said kicking a child off a train is against policy. He said the conductor will have a hearing “to explain herself.”

Damaged $1 Million Statues To Be Repaired

MONTREAL, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Two million-dollar bronze statues by Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle, recovered after being stolen and broken by thieves, will be repaired, officials say.

Art dealer Simon Blais said the pieces are being sent to Montreal to be restored, something made easier because they are made of bronze, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

It’s suspected the thieves had broken the statues, which weigh several hundred pounds, to make them easier to sell for scrap.

Blais said the bronze would be worth about $1,000 melted down for the metal.

Riopelle’s widow, Huguette Vachon, said Tuesday her biggest fear was that the artwork, titled “La Defaite” (The Defeat), would be melted down before being found. The statutes, which had vanished Monday, were found Tuesday in a wooded area in Quebec.

“Even in pieces, I am very, very, very happy [to have them back],” Vachon said.

N.J. Politician Quits Over Nude Pictures

BRIDGETON, N.J., Aug. 3 (UPI) — An influential South New Jersey politician resigned his elected office after a political activist published nude photos of him on a Web site.

Louis Magazzu, who also has resigned as chairman of the county Democratic Committee, submitted his resignation as a Cumberland County freeholder Tuesday, The News of Cumberland County reported. The board of freeholders serves as a county council.

In his letter, Magazzu, a Vineland resident, said he sent the photos to a woman he has had an online relationship with for several years. Magazzu, who is separated from his wife, said he never met the woman face to face.

The photos were published by Carl B. Johnson on his Web site magazzuwatch.com, the Vineland Daily Journal reported.

“The Web site isn’t about posting shots of Lou naked or anything,” Johnson said. “It is about exposing the underbelly of local politics. He was the figurehead, the person who ran the party and the freeholder board for a decade. Even though he has stepped down, I don’t believe he has stopped wielding influence.”

Johnson, in an interview with Philadelphia Magazine, blamed Magazzu for arranging his arrest on charges of failure to pay child support.

The Journal said Magazzu’s online partner was apparently already in touch with Johnson when she solicited the nude photos.

Iron Ore Project Threatened By Politicking

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Political controversy over an iron ore mine development in central Uruguay threatens to scuttle the project amid signs the Indian mining company and investment partner may be losing patience over the politicking by opposition and environmentalist groups, officials indicated.

The Minera Aratiri project’s early development is seen by the government of President Jose Mujica as the key likely to open up an underdeveloped part of the country to new business opportunities.

The opposition, local residents and environmentalist groups disagree. They argue the mine’s large-scale exploitation will ruin vast tracts of pristine environment and not benefit Uruguayan economy or the region to the extent originally claimed in feasibility reports.

Alarm bells sounded when the Indian iron-ore mining group Zamin Ferrous Resources downgraded the project on its international priority list from the first to the fourth position. Zamin Ferrous planned to invest about $1 billion in the project but now says it will put the funds in its other projects.

Zamin told Uruguayan officials it was surprised by the rising controversy over the project. The Uruguayans in turn told the investors of their disappointment but admitted there had been too much politicking over the project. Mujica condemned it as “political cackling.”

Aratiri Project General Manager Fernando Puntigliano said the project was put on the back burner mainly because of the political controversy over its feasibility and delays already affecting a completion schedule.

Critics of the project oppose the plan to exploit the open pit magnetite iron ore deposit, which they see as potentially destructive to the surrounding area. Large deposits of magnetite, a mineral with high iron ore content, have been found on the border of Durazno and Treinta y Tres departments.

Studies have established about 250 million tons of the ore deposits but further projections say the final recoverable quantity may exceed 1 billion tons.

A 130-mile slurry pipeline for transporting the ore to a planned new port on the Atlantic coast has also triggered the wrath of environmentalist groups, local farmers and residents, who challenged the plans for its potential damage to the environment.

Meanwhile, Mujica is exploring the feasibility of turning the mine’s development into an equal partnership joint venture.

Puntigliano said Zamin will continue work on the project but welcomed ideas for a state partnership.

All private companies in Uruguay like to have the state as a partner, he said.

Zamin Ferrous is an international group registered in Jersey, Channel Islands, with offices in London, Sao Paulo and Switzerland.

The company has ongoing iron ore and coal projects in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Malawi and Mozambique and exports to China, India and the Middle East.

Slave Lake Getting $189 Million To Rebuild

SLAVE LAKE, Alberta, Aug. 3 (UPI) — The Canadian town of Slave Lake, devastated by wildfires this spring, will get another $189 million to rebuild, Alberta’s provincial government said Wednesday.

The additional money will go primarily toward infrastructure and temporary housing for people in Slave Lake and the surrounding region, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. The area had been allocated $100 million earlier.

“This is a big step for the physical and emotional recovery Slave Lake needs,” said Winona Twin, a councilor with the Sawridge First Nation.

The May fires destroyed 374 properties and damaged 52 others in Slave Lake. Another 59 properties were destroyed and 32 damaged in nearby areas.

Toys Not Top Reason To Buy Kids Fast-food

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Many U.S. families choose fast-food restaurants because the meals are cheap, easy and they often are a reward for their children, researchers say.

Kerri N. Boutelle of the University of California, San Diego, and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, say adults overwhelmingly reported that they liked the food, while 49 percent say the toys include with the children’s meals was not the top reason for eating at the fast-food restaurant.

Parents trade convenience of fast-food for meals that provide 36 percent to 51 percent of a child’s daily caloric needs, which may contribute to obesity.

In addition, the study, published in the journal Childhood Obesity, lunchtime-meals had more than 50 percent of the recommended total daily sodium intake for most children, while some had 100 percent of sodium levels recommended for preschoolers, the researchers say.

The researchers surveyed 544 families with children entering a fast-food chain restaurant located inside Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego at lunch time over a six-week period.

Families were asked to retain and present their receipts from food purchases and complete a brief survey.

“The number of meals and snacks eaten away from home is believed to contribute to excess calories consumed by children, and this number has increased dramatically in the past 30 years,” Boutelle says in a statement. “On a typical day, a remarkable 30 percent of youth report consuming fast-food.”

Poll: Most Voters Disapprove Of Debt Deal

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A majority of U.S. voters disapprove of the debt ceiling agreement, and most doubt it will lower government spending, Rasmussen Reports said Wednesday.

Results of a Rasmussen Reports survey indicated 22 percent of likely voters approve of the agreement, 53 percent disapprove and 26 percent said they weren’t sure how they felt about it.

By a 4-to-1 margin, Republicans and unaffiliated voters disapprove of the legislation signed into law by President Obama Tuesday, Rasmussen Reports said. Democrats were closer, with 34 percent favoring the deal and 40 percent opposed.

Fifty-eight percent of voters said it was unlikely the deal would lead to a significant decrease in federal spending over the next few years, results indicated.

“During the debt ceiling debacle, voters listened to members of Congress like they were the boy who cried wolf,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “While official Washington obsessed over the minute-by-minute silliness, voters expected all along that the debt ceiling would be raised without making significant spending cuts.”

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,000 likely voters conducted Monday and Tuesday. The margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Cougar That Attacked Girl Killed In Canada

KANANASKIS, Alberta, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A cougar that attacked a Canadian girl has been shot and killed by conservation officers, officials said.

The big cat attacked the girl Sunday while she was hiking with her family near Barrier Lake in Bow Valley Provincial Park in the Kananaskis area of Alberta, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

The girl was saved by her father, who drove the cougar off. She suffered only minor cuts and puncture wounds, the CBC said.

Conservation officers tracked down and killed the animal.

“It’s attacked a human. It would do it again,” said Glenn Naylor, a district conservation officer.

A litter mate of the cougar was put down last month after it attacked a dog with a group of hikers near Canmore.

Both cats were less than 2 years old.

“The mother ended her life prematurely or they got kicked out early and they didn’t know what they were doing,” Naylor said. “They were very poorly educated and basically anything that moves was potential prey and unfortunately small children definitely attract cougars’ attention.”

There are about 2,000 cougars in Alberta, Mark Boyce, a professor of biology at the University of Alberta, estimates.

Survey Tracks Beliefs About Memory

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Aug. 3 (UPI) — A U.S. survey shows many people think memory is more powerful, objective, accurate and reliable than decades of scientific research suggest.

In a telephone survey by University of Illinois researchers, 1,500 respondents were asked to respond to a series of statements about memory, a university release reported Wednesday.

Almost two-thirds said human memory was like a video camera that can record information precisely and accurately for later review. About half believed that once experiences are encoded in memory, the memories never change.

These views of memory are in contrast to consistent findings by psychologists that memory can be unreliable and even manipulated, the researchers said.

“We’ve known since the 1930s that memories can become distorted in systematic ways,” UI psychology Professor Daniel Simons said. “We’ve known since the 1980s that even memory for vivid, very meaningful personal events can change over time.”

“The fallibility of memory is well established in the scientific literature, but mistaken intuitions about memory persist,” co-author Christopher Chabris, a psychology professor at Union College, said.

The survey’s findings could have important implications for courtroom proceedings, the researchers said.

“Our memories can change even if we don’t realize they have changed,” Simons said. “That means that if a defendant can’t remember something, a jury might assume the person is lying. And misremembering one detail can impugn their credibility for other testimony, when it might just reflect the normal fallibility of memory.”