News in brief: Heat eases, but more waves may come

Posted July 26, 2011, at 8:42 p.m.

The heat wave that affected at least 200 million people in the United States during the past week and a half has finally subsided, after shattering or tying thousands of records.

Nationally, 1,966 daily high maximum temperature records were broken or tied this month (through July 23). The figures for nighttime lows included 4,376 highest minimum temperature records broken or tied through July 23.

In many ways, this heat wave exemplified the type of extreme heat events that climate-science studies show are becoming more common in many parts of the world, likely due at least in part to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. One study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research in 2008, stated: “The risk of hot summers is currently rapidly increasing, raising the likelihood of record-breaking heat waves around the world, as seen in Europe in 2003 and 2006 and in North America in 1995 and 2006.”

Climate projections for the rest of this century show that heat waves similar to this summer’s may become much more common, possibly occurring once or twice per year if emissions continue to increase at present rates.

Ga. mom is spared prison in son’s jaywalking death

MARIETTA, Ga. — A woman who was arrested after her 4-year-old son was struck and killed by a van as they were jaywalking across a busy street was spared a prison sentence Tuesday after an outcry over her arrest.

Raquel Nelson, 30, was convicted by a jury earlier this month of vehicular homicide and other charges for not using a crosswalk and could have gotten three years behind bars — far more than the six months the hit-and-run driver served.

Instead, without explanation, Judge Kathryn Tanksley gave the suburban Atlanta mother a year’s probation, ordered 40 hours of community service, and took the unusual step of offering her a new trial, which Nelson later accepted.

More than 125,000 people joined an online petition campaign asking for mercy. The judge said her office had been flooded with letters and emails from around the country.

The accident happened in April 2010 along a busy five-lane street.

Calif. man attempts surgery on his hernia with butter knife, police say

LOS ANGELES — A 63-year-old Glendale, Calif., man was in stable condition after he attempted surgery on himself with a 6-inch butter knife to remove a protruding hernia from his stomach, police said Tuesday.

When police arrived at the man’s home Sunday evening, they saw the man lying naked outside on a lounge chair with what appeared to be the handle of a knife protruding from his stomach, Sgt. Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department told the Glendale News-Press.

As police waited for paramedics to arrive, Lorenz said the man pulled out the knife and shoved a cigarette he was smoking inside the open wound.

The man, whose name was not released, was immediately placed on a psychiatric hold and taken to a hospital, Lorenz said. The man’s wife had reportedly notified police that her husband had become upset about the hernia and wanted to take it out.

“It is absolutely impossible for someone to fix their own hernia,” said Sam Carvajal, a surgeon at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

Mountain lion killed in Conn. traced to S. Dakota

HARTFORD, Conn. — A mountain lion killed on a Connecticut highway last month had apparently walked halfway across the country from South Dakota, according to Connecticut environmental officials who said Tuesday that the 1,500-mile journey was one of the longest ever recorded for a land mammal.

The animal originated in the Black Hills region of South Dakota and was tracked by DNA from its hair and droppings as it passed through Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty said at a news conference.

Biologists estimate the size of the mountain lion population at about 100,000 nationwide, mostly living in the western United States and seldom traveling more than 100 miles. It was the first confirmed wild mountain lion in Connecticut in more than 100 years.

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