Dozens arrested in drug raid at Pa. Boeing plant

Posted Sept. 29, 2011, at 9 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 30, 2011, at 2:06 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Federal agents on Thursday raided a Boeing plant that makes military helicopters in a Philadelphia suburb and charged more than three dozen people with distributing or trying to get prescription drugs, among them powerful painkillers.

The arrests were made by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration at the 5,400-employee plant in Ridley Park, where workers build aircraft including the H-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey. The plant is part of Boeing’s Defense, Space and Security unit.

It did not appear to be an organized drug ring, but rather a “nebulous” series of independent actors, authorities said.

“These sales placed the individual abusers, as well as society at large, at risk,” said DEA agent Vito S. Guarino.

All but one of the 37 people charged were current or former Boeing employees, U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said at a news conference. He did not know what kind of jobs they had and said he wasn’t aware of any accidents or problems involving aircraft made by the suspects.

Indictments were unsealed charging 23 people with illegal distribution of a prescription drug, federal prosecutors said. In addition, 14 others were charged with attempted possession of the various drugs — including the painkillers fentanyl, oxycodone and others — allegedly being sold by their co-workers. Prosecutors said all but one of those charged had been arrested, but they declined to comment on the status of the 37th.

If you’re happy and you know it, did you tweet?

WASHINGTON — Twitter confirms it: People tend to wake up in a good mood and are happiest on weekends.

The fast-paced forum is offering scientists a peek at real-time, presumably little-filtered human behavior and thoughts. Cornell University researchers turned to the microblog to study mood and found a pretty consistent pattern.

The researchers analyzed English-language tweets from 2.4 million people in 84 countries, more than 500 million of the brief, conversation-like exchanges sent over two years. They used a computer program that searched for words indicating positive mood — happy, enthusiastic, brilliant — or negative mood — sad, anxious, fear.

What they found: Unless you’re a night owl, a positive attitude peaks early in the morning and again near midnight, but starts to dip midmorning before rising again in the evening.

Aha, you might think, going to work and related hassles like traffic explain that pattern. After all, there was more positive tweeting on the weekend, even though the morning peak of happy tweets occurred two hours later, probably because people slept late.

Not quite. Work-related stress may play some role but it can’t explain why that same midday dip occurs on the weekend, too, said lead researcher Scott Golder, a Cornell graduate student. Instead, the pattern probably is due to the effects of sleep and our 24-hour biological clock, the so-called circadian rhythms that signal when it’s time to sleep and to wake, Golder and Cornell sociologist Michael Macy reported. Their study appears in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Saudis hold their last all-male election

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia held its second nationwide vote ever on Thursday, a male-only election for powerless municipal councils. The balloting comes just days after the king decreed that women will be able to participate for the first time in the next local elections in 2015, a measure likely aimed at heading off Arab Spring-style dissent in the kingdom.

The election and Sunday’s decree to give women the vote are two examples of the baby steps King Abdullah has been taking to reform and modernize his oil-rich nation since he ascended the throne in 2005. Though small, they are significant by the standards of his ultraconservative country — home to Islam’s holiest shrines and vastly influenced by the clerical establishment.

Still the reforms signal the ruling family is not ready for deep change, even as popular uprisings are transforming the face of an Arab world long accustomed to absolute monarchs — like the Saudi king — dictators and fraudulently elected leaders.

“They are glacial changes,” Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Center in Doha, Qatar, said of the recent decree on women. “But King Abdullah is the only man who can push change. Unfortunately, it has been too slow.”

The Saudi kingdom is nowhere close to any of its Arab neighbors, not even those in the conservative Gulf region, when it comes to basic rights, freedoms and gender equality. The king rules with absolute power and shows zero tolerance for political dissent.

The ruling Al-Saud family has a near monopoly on top government posts and does not answer to anyone outside the family. Women are barred from driving and they cannot be members of the Cabinet. They cannot travel either, be admitted to a hospital or take a job without permission from a male guardian.

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