Archive | April, 2013

Scientists map all possible drug-like chemical compounds: Library of millions of small, carbon-based molecules chemists might synthesize

23 Apr

Apr. 22, 2013 ? Drug developers may have a new tool to search for more effective medications and new materials.

It’s a computer algorithm that can model and catalogue the entire set of lightweight, carbon-containing molecules that chemists could feasibly create in a lab.

The small-molecule universe has more than 10^60 (that’s 1 with 60 zeroes after it) chemical structures. Duke chemist David Beratan said that many of the world’s problems have molecular solutions in this chemical space, whether it???s a cure for disease or a new material to capture sunlight.

But, he said, “The small-molecule universe is astronomical in size. When we search it for new molecular solutions, we are lost. We don’t know which way to look.”

To give synthetic chemists better directions in their molecular search, Beratan and his colleagues — Duke chemist Weitao Yang, postdoctoral associates Aaron Virshup and Julia Contreras-Garcia, and University of Pittsburgh chemist Peter Wipf — designed a new computer algorithm to map the small-molecule universe.

The map, developed with a National Institutes of Health P50 Center grant, tells scientists where the unexplored regions of the chemical space are and how to build structures to get there. A paper describing the algorithm and map appeared online in April in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The map helps chemists because they do not yet have the tools, time or money to synthesize all 10^60 compounds in the small-molecule universe. Synthetic chemists can only make a few hundred or a few thousand molecules at a time, so they have to carefully choose which compounds to build, Beratan said.

The scientists already have a digital library describing about a billion molecules found in the small-molecule universe, and they have synthesized about 100 million compounds over the course of human history, Beratan said. But these molecules are similar in structure and come from the same regions of the small-molecule universe.

It’s the unexplored regions that could hold molecular solutions to some of the world’s most vexing challenges, Beratan said.

To add diversity and explore new regions to the chemical space, Aaron Virshup developed a computer algorithm that built a virtual library of 9 million molecules with compounds representing every region of the small-molecule universe.

“The idea was to start with a simple molecule and make random changes, so you add a carbon, change a double bond to a single bond, add a nitrogen. By doing that over and over again, you can get to any molecule you can think of,” Virshup said.

He programed the new algorithm to make small, random chemical changes to the structure of benzene and then to catalogue the new molecules it created based on where they fit into the map of the small-molecule universe. The challenge, Virshup said, came in identifying which new chemical compounds chemists could actually create in a lab.

Virshup sent his early drafts of the algorithm’s newly constructed molecules to synthetic chemists who scribbled on them in red ink to show whether they were synthetically unstable or unrealistic. He then turned the criticisms into rules the algorithm had to follow so it would not make those types of compounds again.

“The rules kept us from getting lost in the chemical space,” he said.

After ten iterations, the algorithm finally produced 9 million synthesizable molecules representing every region of the small-molecule universe, and it produced a map showing the regions of the chemical space where scientists have not yet synthesized any compounds.

“With the map, we can tell chemists, if you can synthesize a new molecule in this region of space, you have made a new type of compound,” Virshup said. “It’s an intellectual property issue. If you’re in the blank spaces on our small molecule map, you’re guaranteed to make something that isn’t patented yet,” he said.

The team has made the source code for the algorithm available online. The researchers said they hope scientists will use it to immediately start mining the unexplored regions of the small molecule universe for new chemical compounds.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (P50-GM067082).

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Duke University. The original article was written by Ashley Yeager.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aaron M Virshup, Julia Contreras-Garc?a, Peter Wipf, Weitao Yang, David N. Beratan. Stochastic voyages into uncharted chemical space produce a representative library of all possible drug-like compounds.. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; : 130402114828001 DOI: 10.1021/ja401184g

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/matter_energy/biochemistry/~3/59XGfriSyDc/130422154945.htm

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US doubles aid to Syrian rebels, who want more

21 Apr

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, and members of the Friends of Syria group are seen during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, April 20, 2013. Kerry is expected to announce a significant expansion of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.(AP Photo/Hakan Goktepe, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, and members of the Friends of Syria group are seen during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, April 20, 2013. Kerry is expected to announce a significant expansion of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.(AP Photo/Hakan Goktepe, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, rear center, and some of the Friends of Syria group during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, April 20, 2013. Kerry is expected to announce a significant expansion of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.(AP Photo/Hakan Goktepe, Pool)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and some of the Friends of Syria group during a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, April 20, 2013. Kerry is expected to announce a significant expansion of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.(AP Photo/Hakan Goktepe, Pool)

Turks set on fire a NATO flag as they protest against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the “Friends of Syria” group as it met in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, April 20, 2013. Kerry is expected to announce a significant expansion of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. AP Photo)

(AP) ? The United States said Sunday that it will double its non-lethal assistance to Syria’s opposition as the rebels’ top supporters vowed to enhance and expand their backing of the two-year battle to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Yet the pledge fell far short of what the opposition had made clear it wanted: weapons and direct military intervention to stop the violence that has killed more than 70,000 people. The Syrian National Coalition had sought drone strikes on sites from which the regime has fired missiles, the imposition of no-fly zones and protected humanitarian corridors to ensure the safety of civilians.

Instead, the Obama administration’s pledged to provide an additional $123 million in aid, which may include for the first time armored vehicles, body armor, night vision goggles and other defensive military supplies. It was the only tangible, public offer of new international support as the foreign ministers of the 11 main countries supporting the opposition met in a marathon session in Istanbul.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the new package of assistance in a written statement at the conclusion of the conference that began Saturday afternoon and stretched into early Sunday.

The additional aid, which brings total non-lethal U.S. assistance to the opposition to $250 million since the fighting began, “underscores the United States’ firm support for a political solution to the crisis in Syria and for the opposition’s advancement of an inclusive, tolerant vision for a post-Assad Syria,” he said.

Kerry said a portion of the new money would be used to follow through on President Barack Obama’s recent authorization to expand direct supplies to the Free Syrian Army beyond food and medical supplies to include defensive items. Officials said the exact types of supplies would be decided in consultation with allies and the rebels’ Supreme Military Council.

Kerry also announced nearly $25 million in additional food assistance for Syrians who remain inside the country as well as those who have fled to neighboring countries, bringing the total U.S. humanitarian contribution to the crisis to more than $409 million.

While pleased with the U.S. moves, the opposition appeared deeply disappointed, especially as it lost some ground in the latest clashes with Syrian troops backed by pro-government gunmen capturing at least one village in a strategic area near the Lebanese border.

“We appreciate the limited support given by the international community, but it is not sufficient,” it said in a statement released at the end of the conference. “We call on the international community to be more forthcoming and unreserved to fulfill its responsibilities in extending support that is needed by the Syrian people.”

Ahead of the meeting, the opposition said it wanted guns and ammunition. And, it said it wanted its friends to conduct drone strikes on Syrian territory to take out Assad’s missile capabilities and renewed appeals for the creation of no-fly zones and safe corridors.

“The technical ability to take specific action to prevent the human tragedy and suffering of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, is available in the form of specific intelligence and equipment,” it said. “Syrians understand that such ability is within the reach of a number of members of the Friends of Syria group, yet nothing serious has been done to put an end to such terror and criminality.”

But none of those calls were specifically addressed by the foreign ministers in a joint statement of their own. Instead, they referred only to their recognition of the “need to change the balance of power on the ground.” They said they would welcome additional pledges and commitments to the Free Syrian Army and delegated the rebels’ Supreme Military Council to be the conduit for all military aid.

European nations are considering changes to an arms embargo that would allow weapons transfers to the Syrian opposition. But European Union action is unlikely before the current embargo is set to expire in late May.

Britain and France have been leading the calls to amend the embargo to test the strategy that merely giving its members permission to supply arms may cause Assad to rethink his calculation to hold on to power. But some in the EU, notably Germany and the Netherlands, are reluctant, believing that more weapons flowing into Syria will only increase the bloodshed and that they could fall into the hands of extremists.

In what appeared to be an attempt to soothe those fears, the opposition affirmed its commitment to an inclusive and pluralistic democracy that condemns extremism.

“Our revolution is for the entire Syrian people,” opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib told reporters, standing alongside Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The opposition also pledged in its statement that any military hardware it receives will be used responsibly.

“We will guarantee that weapons will be used in accordance with the specific purpose that they were supplied for, and that these weapons will not fall in the wrong hands,” it said. “These weapons and military equipment will be returned to the relevant and appropriate institutions upon the conclusion of the revolution.”

Obama has said he has no plans to send weapons or give lethal aid to the rebels, despite pressure from Congress, some administration advisers and the appeals from opposition. There are no plans to change that policy, although U.S. officials say they are not opposed to other countries sending arms as long as the recipients have been properly vetted.

But since February, the U.S. has shipped food and medical supplies directly to the Free Syrian Army and Kerry’s announcement marked the first time that Washington has acted on Obama’s recent authorization to expand that aid.

The U.S. and its European and Arab allies are struggling to find ways to stem the escalating violence that has led to fears that chemical weapons may have been used.

The foreign ministers urged an immediate investigation by the United Nations to substantiate claims that chemical weapons had been used. “If these allegations are proven to be correct, there will be severe consequences,” they said in their statement.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2013-04-20-Syria-Aid/id-396064ad3c90478a8ebec7e9e1f120b7

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Britain bids farewell to Thatcher’s funeral, debates her controversial legacy

21 Apr

Even former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was the subject of hot debate. The conservative powerhouse was loved and reviled by?Britons.

By Ryan Lenora Brown,?Correspondent / April 17, 2013

The coffin of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, draped in the Union Flag, is carried on a gun carriage drawn by the King’s Troop Royal Artillery during her funeral procession in London today.

David Crump/Pool/Reuters

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With the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher today, Britain concludes more than a week of commemoration for the controversial leader, who died April 8.

Skip to next paragraph Ryan Lenora Brown

Correspondent

Ryan Brown edits the Africa Monitor blog and contributes to the national and international news desks of the Monitor. She is a former Fulbright fellow to South Africa and holds a degree in history from Duke University.?

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Thousands gathered in central London to witness the solemn procession of Mrs. Thatcher?s casket to St. Paul?s Cathedral, where 2,300 mourners packed into the historic church to pay tribute to the country?s first female prime minister. Among them were Queen Elizabeth II and a slate of conservative heavyweights, including former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the last white president of South Africa, F.W. de Klerk.?

A ?storm of conflicting opinions centers on the Mrs. Thatcher who became a symbolic figure ? even an ?ism,?? said London Bishop Richard Chartres in an address at the ceremony. ?Today the remains of the real Margaret Hilda Thatcher are here at her funeral service. Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings.?

If Thatcher?s decline and death were ordinary, however, her life was anything but. And though the contents of her legacy have been the subject of raucous debate over the last week, few dispute a central fact: her impact on Britain was colossal.

?Here we are ? more than 20 years after she was in office, a third of a century after she became prime minister ? and talking about her role in our lives,? Oxford historian Robert Saunders told the Monitor last week.

As that piece noted,

The country she left behind when forced from office in?1990 was very different from the one she inherited when her Conservative party won power on the back of the so-called Winter of Discontent in 1979.

Rejecting the political consensus politics of postwar Britain, she ushered in a more combative era based on tighter monetarist policies, privatization of inefficient nationalized industries, individual shareholding, and a curbing of the power of trade unions, which had dominated politics.?

Indeed, if conservatives have historically been known for guarding the boundaries of the status quo, Thatcher blazed a new trail: the conservative-as-insurgent, with a wide vision for societal transformation.?

And the debate over what, exactly, that vision has meant for the modern world extends far beyond Britain proper.?

In Europe, for instance, Thatcher is often remembered for her hearty rejection of the European Commission?s desire to transform the European Parliament into the continent?s primary democratic institution. As she declared unequivocally in 1990, ?No, no, no!?

But in many ways, experts noted to the Monitor, the current European Union falls in lockstep with Thatcher?s own vision ? one in which the nation-state remained the primary base of both political power and identity.

Her legacy for Britain?s female politicians is equally mixed.

In 11 years as prime minister between 1979 and 1990, she failed to promote any women members of Parliament to her cabinet ? the government’s senior ministers ? rejecting positive discrimination and complaining about a lack of talent in the female ranks?.

However, while Mrs. Thatcher was reluctant to promote women when in the hot seat, she was not shy about promoting advantages of female leadership when she was seeking election. In 1975, when battling for the Tory leadership she famously said, “I’ve got a woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.”

That tenacity earned her the begrudging respect of at least some feminists, but it won her few friends in Argentina, where she ordered war to protect the British-administered Falkland Islands in 1982, and Northern Ireland, which she insisted was ?as British as Finchley,? referring to her home district in London.

Even Thatcher?s funeral itself was a flashpoint in the controversy over Thatcher?s status, with critics noting?its $15 million cost, borne by the public, and her supporters pushing for an even grander ceremony.

The debate mirrored Thatcher herself: controversial, forceful, and in the end, she mostly got her way. ?

Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/csmonitor/globalnews/~3/naaKYVj4oYc/Britain-bids-farewell-to-Thatcher-s-funeral-debates-her-controversial-legacy

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The Finish Line: What the bombing was like

21 Apr

This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Mark Fratto shows his wife, runner Courtney Fratto, and their son Gavin, 3, at mile 20 during the Boston Marathon in Boston. Fratto finished the race just seconds before the first bomb exploded. When the bomb went off just after she crossed the finish line, she ran for safety instead of to the injured. Fratto, a nurse who is the coordinator of intestinal transplants in the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, wishes she could have reacted the way a number of others did. “I could see there was mass casualties,” she said. “I have this very horrible guilt that I didn’t run and help them.” (AP Photo/Mark Fratto)

This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Mark Fratto shows his wife, runner Courtney Fratto, and their son Gavin, 3, at mile 20 during the Boston Marathon in Boston. Fratto finished the race just seconds before the first bomb exploded. When the bomb went off just after she crossed the finish line, she ran for safety instead of to the injured. Fratto, a nurse who is the coordinator of intestinal transplants in the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, wishes she could have reacted the way a number of others did. “I could see there was mass casualties,” she said. “I have this very horrible guilt that I didn’t run and help them.” (AP Photo/Mark Fratto)

This image taken and provided by Lucas Carr shows the blood-stained shoes he was wearing during the Boston Marathon, on Monday, April 15, 2013. Army Sgt. Lucas Carr arrived at the finish at 2:48 p.m., and was standing with his girlfriend about 50-yards away when the bombs went off about a minute later. “I knew what it was, knew what the repercussions were,” he said. He told his girlfriend to run west, back onto the race course, because he knew everyone else was running the other way. The second bomb, he suspected, was placed where it was because it was along the most obvious escape route for those trying to flee the first. A few seconds later, he was in the melee _ an Army Ranger back in the middle of the blood and casualties he thought he’d left for good when he came home from the Middle East. (AP Photo/Lucas Carr)

FILE – In this Monday, April 15, 2013 file photo, medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston. Runner Lucas Carr can be seen in the upper center of the photo in the yellow Boston Bruins shirt. Carr, an Army Sergeant who served in the middle east, assisted several of the injured by applying tourniquets. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Jill Riley shows runner Linda Racicot just a few yards from the finish line during the Boston Marathon in Boston. Racicot finished the Boston Marathon just seconds before the first bomb exploded. She turned 46 on Thursday and just feels happy to be alive. (AP Photo/Jill Riley)

This Monday, April 15, 2013 photo provided by Jeff Lazzarino shows runner Andrew Dupee at mile 15 during the Boston Marathon in Wellesley, Mass. Dupee finished the Boston Marathon just seconds before the first bomb exploded. The private investment adviser at Howland Capital in Boston was running to raise money for charity and to do something special in the year he turned 40. (AP Photo/Jeff Lazzarino)

The woman wearing bib No. 19,255 was a flute instructor from Utah, listening to her son singing through her headphones as if the sound of his voice could somehow will her body the last few yards to the finish line.

Just ahead of her was a pediatric nurse running her first marathon as a tribute to a teenage liver transplant patient. Ten years earlier, Courtney Fratto had attended her first Boston Marathon and told a friend that one day she would run in the race.

This was her day.

The swarm of runners nearing the finish line as the clock ticked toward 3 in the afternoon included a medical supply salesman, a teacher’s aide, a financial analyst in her 55th marathon, and a cop who would become the last recorded finisher of the 117th Boston Marathon.

This was their day, too.

On a gorgeous spring afternoon made for running they headed for the finish line that was their goal.

And at 2:50 p.m., hell was unleashed on the most prestigious marathon in the world.

The first explosion knocked a 78-year-old man running alongside them to the ground. The ground shook, smoke filled the air and the screaming began.

Erik Savage tried to make sense out of something that didn’t make any sense. The blast had knocked him back, into a semi crouch. His ears ringing, he stood up and instinctively walked toward the chaos, trying to see if there was anyone he could help.

He saw a man and a woman emerge from the smoke. The man’s pants had been torn off by the force of the blast.

“My first instinct was, ‘Strange. Why is that man not wearing any pants?'” Savage said. “Then I had a quick moment of clarity, which was there was something very wrong and my wife and my 8-year-old and my 4-year-old were 25 yards up the road.

They were caught in a no man’s land, eager to finish but even more eager to get out of harm’s way. Exhausted, mentally numb and totally spent, they now had to make what could be life and death decisions and deal with shock, too. Their first thoughts were to try somehow to get to safety but they also had husbands, wives and children in the crowd near the bomb site with no way of knowing if they were OK.

Jennifer Herring had already finished her race, helped along by another runner who acted as her eyes on the course. She was in a collection area with other blind runners when the first bomb went off, followed by a second loud explosion.

Suddenly, everyone grew quiet. A guide dog named Smithers, a Golden Retriever, started shaking badly. They took turns petting him, trying to calm him down.

___

A total of 23,336 runners started the Boston Marathon, with 17,580 finishing. The Associated Press analyzed images and data, including the finishing times recorded by chips on competitors’ bibs, over the past several days to pinpoint some of the runners who were in the finish line area when the bombs went off. These are some of their stories.

___

THE SERGEANT

Army Sgt. Lucas Carr had heard the all-too-familiar sounds before.

He arrived at the finish at 2:48 p.m., and was standing with his girlfriend about 50 yards away when the bombs went off.

“I knew what it was, knew what the repercussions were,” he said.

He told his girlfriend to run west, back onto the race course, because he knew everyone else was running the other way. The second bomb, he suspected, was placed where it was because it was along the most obvious escape route for those trying to flee the first.

A few seconds later, he was in the melee ? an Army Ranger back in the middle of the blood and casualties he thought he’d left behind for good when he returned from the Middle East. Pictures of the 33-year-old helping the wounded have circulated widely in the wake of the bombing.

Another picture, texted to The Associated Press, showed his bloodstained running shoes. “This is not how a marathon is supposed to end. Running shoes drenched in blood!” was the message he sent along with the text.

“I saw things that brought back experiences overseas that I would never want to have anyone witness here,” Carr said in an earlier AP interview. “It was an all-too-familiar smell that I can’t get out of my body. Tourniquets, tourniquets and more tourniquets I put on people that day. People with limbs missing. You don’t want to see that.”

Carr was running in his sixth Boston Marathon, and his second to benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation.

A longtime hockey player, the Norwood, Mass., resident runs for Matt Brown, who was paralyzed in a high school game on Jan. 23, 2010. Brown, now in a wheelchair, is overcoming pneumonia and his doctor advised him to skip this year’s race.

Carr says they’ll both be in it next year. There’s still work to be done.

“When it happened, in the aftermath, I felt helpless,” he said. “You come home, you readjust, you feel happy for what you did. Then things like this happen and it puts a tainted memory on everything you did and puts you in a position of wanting to get answers now. But it makes you more resilient and vigilant than anything. My job was being a soldier. Everyone’s job is being a soldier right now.”

___

THE NURSE

Courtney Fratto wishes she could have reacted like Lucas Carr. She wishes she had made a different decision.

The 31-year-old mother of two is a nurse, the coordinator of intestinal transplants in the Pediatric Transplant Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

When the bomb went off just after she crossed the finish line, though, she ran for safety instead of to the injured.

“I could see there was mass casualties,'” she said. “I have this very horrible guilt that I didn’t run and help them.”

Fratto had just run 26 miles and wasn’t thinking clearly. People around her were screaming at others to run and get out in case there was another bomb. Her husband and two young children were in the crowd somewhere near the explosion, and she wouldn’t know they were safe for another hour.

Fratto, who lives in Watertown, had never run more than 7 miles in a race before. This was her first marathon, and she was doing it in tribute to a teenage liver transplant patient who asked her if he would ever be healthy enough to run a marathon himself.

Her moment of triumph was fleeting, lasting only a few seconds. Her conscience will bother her a lot longer.

“I feel terrible that I didn’t go and help,” she said. “I’m, like, haunted by it.”

___

THE INVESTOR

Anger. Almost uncontrollable anger and rage.

Andrew Dupee felt it right away. He still feels it now.

The private investment adviser at Howland Capital in Boston was running to raise money for charity and to do something special in the year he turned 40. He had taken three steps over the finish line when he turned to an acquaintance to exchange congratulatory high fives.

The first explosion went off, and immediately he knew. It was a bomb, and someone was trying to kill people.

Dupee doubled over, his fists clenched. He screamed an expletive that probably only he heard.

He would never get his high five, never get to share a celebration with his fellow runners. Members of his team running behind him wouldn’t even be allowed the satisfaction of finishing.

“There’s nothing about my story particularly unique,” Dupee said. “There are many, many other people suffering far, far more than I suffered. There are innocent children, innocent families whose lives will never be the same. The hurt, anger, pain and loss they must feel is a multitude of what I experienced.”

____

THE MOTHER

After gutting through 26.2 miles, it’s the last thing anyone wants to hear.

“It was just a bunch of people saying ‘Run,'” Sue Gruner said.

Down alleyways. Up side streets. Wherever the police told her to go. Finally, she ended up at Copley Square, where she was reunited with her husband, Doug, who had cheered her on.

It was an hour of sheer fright.

“I kept looking side to side, wondering if another one was going to go off,” Gruner said.

The Gruners made the trip from Hampshire, Ill., and the plan was to spend a week in Boston ? first for the marathon, then to see the sights and take in the history.

Instead, they returned home Tuesday, the day after the race. Speaking from her home Friday morning, while watching coverage of the manhunt for one of the bombers, Gruner realized what a good decision that was.

A mother of three, she used to go for quick runs after sending the kids to school. Once they got older, she got more serious about training for long-distance.

Boston turned out to be her seventh marathon. “Boston was always on my Bucket List,” she said.

She came down the homestretch on the right side of the road, the opposite side of where the explosions occurred. She crossed the finish line at 2:50.

Though she’s reluctant to say it, she concedes she feels “like it was my lucky seventh marathon.”

“I feel so terrible for the people who are injured and the families who lost their loved ones. I feel so bad,” Gruner said. “But when I think about it, I was like, ‘Why was I running on the right side?’ I don’t know. I just feel so lucky that I was.”

___

THE MUSICIAN

The heat from the first blast hit Cory Maxfield as she ran the last 75 yards to the finish line.

She felt the impact in her chest and it seemed like the ground was moving under her feet.

A few seconds earlier, the only thing going through Maxwell’s mind was getting to the finish. Her iPod was on shuffle, but the song it picked was perfect. It was from Fictionist, her son’s rock ‘n’ roll band, and it was just what she needed to make it over the line.

“I was excited about it because it has a lot of power and energy,” the Utah musician said. “I’m so glad it came on when I needed a boost.”

Maxfield kept heading toward the finish only to be stopped by a security official trying to get her out of harm’s way. Around her it was chaos, with police drawing weapons, volunteers running the other way.

The second bomb went off behind her, and by then she was starting to figure out what was going on.

Her marathon turned into a sprint when someone yelled there was a shooter on the loose.

“For lack of a better plan I just took off and ran for my life and crossed the finish line,” she said. “I guess that’s not my finest moment but my inclination was to get out of there. I was frightened.”

___

THE SCHOOL AIDE

Linda Racicot celebrated her 46th birthday Thursday. She cried that day watching President Obama in Boston, something not unusual for her in the days since the bombing.

She is proud to say she finished the Boston Marathon. She feels guilty, too.

“How can I be happy in my accomplishments when people died and people lost limbs?” she asked.

Her official race photos show her beneath a finish line clock that reads 4:09:29. When the first bomb goes off, the clock reads 4:09:43.

“As I turned I could see the runner go over, the 78-year-old man,” she said. “I said to myself, that’s a bomb, no question.”

Racicot’s husband was running a short way behind her, and she worried about him. She worried even more about her daughter and mother-in-law who were standing across from the blast site, outside the Lennox Hotel. In other years they always waited right where the explosion went off, but they switched last year so they could be spotted easier.

The school aide from Weymouth says she will run again, but it will never be the same.

“We’re Boston strong,” she said. “My daughter, though, will probably never go back. She was traumatized by the whole thing. I don’t know if I could ask her to go back.”

___

THE LAWYER MOM

“Right on Hereford, left on Boylston, I was almost at the finish.”

Running her third Boston Marathon, Vivian Adkins was familiar with the route. She was familiar with the feeling runners get after passing the Mile 21 marker near the top of Heartbreak Hill ? will we ever call it that again? ? and thinking that the hardest part is behind her.

“As I was getting closer to the end, I was in a celebratory mood,” she said in an interview. “Not because I had run such a good race ? actually, it was one of my slowest ? but because it was a culmination of years of dreams and accomplishments.”

She was about 30 yards from the finish line when she heard the first explosion.

“I ran to the right side rails and crouched down on the ground with my hands over my head and rolled up into a ball. Then I heard the second explosion coming from behind me” she wrote on a bulletin board where she and her friends post summaries of their races. “I knew then I was in the midst of something really bad and got up and ran forward towards the finish line fully aware that I could be hit any moment. … What did not cross my mind as I was crossing the finish line was that I had finished. I had crossed to what was, hopefully, safety and got past the worst of the carnage.”

A lawyer turned stay-at-home mom, Adkins said that the 1,500-word posting, which she wrote on Wednesday morning and titled “Still Making Sense of Boston Marathon 2013,” ”helped me to unwind my thoughts.” She wrote about the excitement at the starting line, interrupted by a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting ? “the only reminder that the world is not such a peaceful place.”

“But surely that evil would not pierce the marathon where the best of human endeavor is celebrated,” she wrote. “It was inconceivable.”

Four hours, 9 minutes, 39 seconds and more than 26 miles later, the first bomb went off in front of her. The second one exploded 13 seconds later, behind her. She saw a bundle of yellow balloons float to the sky; she would later recognize them, carried by a woman walking in front the two bombing suspects on the surveillance video playing in a seemingly endless loop on cable news.

She also saw a woman being carried out on a stretcher, “a trail of blood just spraying from her lower body.”

“I broke down emotionally at how close I was to death,” she wrote. “I recovered my senses enough to go through the motions of the Boston finish chute. My feelings were not those of a finisher; honestly, I didn’t know what to think.”

___

THE JUDGE

Four hours, 10 minutes, 16 seconds. That’s the time stamped next to Roger McMillin’s name at the Boston Marathon this year.

Maybe it shouldn’t matter this year, but to McMillin, it does.

The retired chief judge of the Mississippi State Court of Appeals needed to break 4:10 to automatically qualify for a return trip to Boston to run in the 2014 marathon.

He was well on his way when he heard the first explosion rock the area near the finish line. Then the second.

“The first thing I remember was over on the side where the bomb went off,” McMillin said. “They were trying to get the barricades apart and they couldn’t. There were people falling over, people trying to climb over, people basically climbing over each other to get out. I saw one guy with his leg twisted up in and around the metal. I thought he’d end up with a broken leg, or maybe worse than that.”

Away from the chaos, trying to find his belongings took nearly an hour of shuffling down alleyways, looking for a route to safety, to say nothing of the bus where his things were being held.

He found them. Dug his cellphone out of his bag to call his daughter, Sally, who was standing near Mile 21 ? at Heartbreak Hill ? to watch her dad make the climb for the third time. She was safe.

McMillin compares the high of running Boston to being invited to step onto the field moments before the Super Bowl starts.

“You’ve got all these elite runners, who are incredible,” he said. “And for a little while at least, you’re on the track with them for the same race. An incredible event. An incredible experience.”

No newcomer to marathons, McMillin ran his first one, the Chicago Marathon, on Oct. 10, 2010.

“Ten-ten-ten,” McMillin said. “I’ll always remember that one.”

This one, too.

He finished at 2:51 p.m. He would have easily beaten the 4:10 mark had he not slowed when the bombs went off. But his time ? 4:10:16 ? doesn’t worry him all that much.

“I’ll go run something else and get the time,” he said. “Beforehand, I wanted to qualify to come back but I wasn’t sure I would come back if I did. Now that all this has transpired, I have a fierce determination to come back one way or another.

“It’s a tremendous part of the fabric of our country and we need to do what it takes to preserve it.”

___

THE NEW ENGLANDER

Running toward the finish line, Erik Savage turned and ducked when he heard the second explosion. It left his ears ringing. When he stood up, he instinctively walked toward the chaos, trying to see if there was anyone he could help.

That’s when he saw the man whose pants had been blown off, and thoughts quickly turned to his own family.

What ensued was what Savage called the “longest 30 minutes of my life. ” He got repeated failed-call messages on his iPhone, which was nearly drained of battery because he had used it to listen to music during his four-hour run.

Finally, Savage moved toward a Starbucks on the corner of Berkeley and Boylston. His phone rang. His wife and kids were safe, scooped up by his brother-in-law and taken down an alley adjacent to the Lord and Taylor department store.

Savage grew up in Worcester, about 45 minutes from Boston, and the meaning of the marathon, the Red Sox game and all the other celebrations associated with Patriots’ Day have special meaning to him.

“If you grew up next door, in Connecticut, you don’t get it,” he said. “If you grow up near Boston, you really do.”

He said he was struck by the number of first-responders who made their way to the scene within moments of the blasts.

He’s planning to run in the New York Marathon later this year and, if he can qualify for Boston next year, he’ll be there, too.

“If I don’t run I lose the battle,” Savage said. “It’s everything we fight for, everything that’s meaningful in this country. I’ll run and run with pride. That’s what it means to me.”

___

THE BLIND ATHLETES

Jennifer Herring and William Greer were part of the Team With A Vision, a group that raises money for the visually impaired through running. Both are legally blind, and both ran with other runners to guide them.

Herring, a 38-year-old senior software engineer for Abbott Point of Care Inc., had completed her 10th Boston Marathon 25 minutes earlier and was in a holding area waiting for other runners when the bombs went off.

“It was so loud that the dog was shaking and we didn’t know what it was,” she said in an email shared with the AP. “We were all petting the dog to calm him down not knowing what was going on.”

Greer had just one thing on his mind after he completed the marathon and walked from the finish line, five minutes before the bombs went off. He was in the most prestigious marathon in the nation and he wanted his medal.

Greer got it ? just as the bombs went off.

“You’ve heard people say their stomach dropped? It was a physical feeling, my stomach became really hollow. I just realized how incredibly close I’d come to being right there when it went off.”

Greer, who works with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities in Austin, said he will be back to run again.

“It’s a beautiful city and an incredible marathon,” he said. “This tragedy will not keep me from running Boston again.”

___

THE VETERAN

The Boston Marathon was also the 50th marathon for Jerry Dubner.

He heard the first explosion and saw the smoke just as he crossed the 26-mile mark.

A few seconds later, he heard and felt the second blast.

A seasoned veteran of the long-distance-running game, Dubner knew his limits when he crossed the finish at 2:51 p.m.

“I looked to my left, saw bodies on the ground and blood and realized I was in no position to help out, no condition to help out,” Dubner said.

He got out safely, figuring the biggest contribution he could make would be to clear the way and let emergency workers do their job.

“I still have those images in my mind,” said Dubner, 55, an actuary in Atlanta. “It really was kind of a surreal situation.”

His training for this marathon, which also marked the 21st straight time he’d run the world-famous Boston race, did not go all that well.

“I was not in particularly good shape this year, hadn’t trained as much as I usually do,” he said. “I was running a lot slower than I usually do. So, just finishing the race was going to be an accomplishment for me. It was going to be an emotional finish for me, and it turns out, the emotion was a different one than what I expected.”

___

THE TROOPER

Sean Haggerty was the last official finisher at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

It wasn’t because he was the slowest.

The New Hampshire state police sergeant stopped before the finish line to help spectators who were wounded in the bombing. When he finally crossed, at 2:57 p.m. on Monday, he was pushing an injured woman to the medical tent in a wheelchair. He did not know he was the last one to record a time until he was told by a reporter three days later.

“I consider myself not completing the race. I didn’t run to the finish line. I ran to offer assistance to those that needed it,” said Haggerty, who reluctantly agreed to be interviewed this week.

“When I did have an opportunity, later on, to use someone’s cellphone to call my wife and let her know that I was OK, she said she figured that I was because she got the (automated) text message that I had finished. I corrected her and said, ‘I didn’t finish, I didn’t make it to the finish line.'”

He did, but only after he had helped several of the wounded. Haggerty seemed reluctant to talk to a reporter, and said several times during the interview, “I did what hundreds of other people did that day.

“I just happened to be in a position to help,” he said. “I saw the initial blast and immediately thought of the evil in the world, but the response showed me that there is a bright spot to it and that is the actions of all the people that I was able to work beside. Those people that I saw who responded were not B.A.A. officials, they were not emergency responders, although they acted extraordinarily. They were ordinary people that were there to watch the race.”

Haggerty helped, too.

He borrowed someone’s belt and tied it around a woman’s leg to help stop the bleeding. He said he has a way to get in touch with the injured woman, when the time is right.

“The focus should be on those people whose lives will be changed forever,” he said. “I’ll always remember and think about the people that lost their lives. I’ll always remember and think about the people that go on with their lives; it will be a bigger challenge for them.

“I’ll think about that next year,” he said.

Because he will be back.

“It’s obviously changed the Boston Marathon forever,” said Haggerty, who has run Boston nine times, including the last five. “I certainly will be back next year, for a number of reasons, one of which is that I don’t feel at all afraid to return to Boston. I’m confident in the law enforcement folks that are protecting the marathon and other events, not only in Boston but other parts of the world.”

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2013-04-20-ATH-Boston-Marathon-The-Finish-Line/id-ab19679e1db14e2bb22ef238dc7cd5a5

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3 killed in 95-vehicle pileup at Virginia-NC line

1 Apr

This photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/Virginia State Police, Sgt. Mike Conroy)

This photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/Virginia State Police, Sgt. Mike Conroy)

This photo provided by the Virginia State Police shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/Virginia State Police, Sgt. Mike Conroy)

This image provided by WXII Channel 12 news, shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/WXII, William Bottomley) MANDAORY CREDIT: WXII,WILLIAM BOTTOMLEY

This image provided by WXII Channel 12 news, shows the scene following a 75-vehicle pileup on Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina border in Galax, Va., on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Virginia State Police say three people have been killed and more than 20 are injured and traffic is backed up about 8 miles. (AP Photo/WXII, William Bottomley) MANDAORY CREDIT: WXII,WILLIAM BOTTOMLEY

GALAX, Va. (AP) ? Nearly 100 vehicles crashed Sunday along a mountainous, foggy stretch of interstate near the Virginia-North Carolina border, killing three people and injuring 25 others.

Police said traffic along Interstate 77 in southwest Virginia backed up for about 8 miles in the southbound lanes after the accidents. Authorities closed the northbound lanes so that fire trucks, ambulances and police could get to the series of chain-reaction wrecks.

Virginia State Police determined there were 17 separate crashes involving 95 vehicles within a mile span near the base of Fancy Gap Mountain, spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. The crashes began around 1:15 p.m. Sunday when there was heavy fog in the area.

“This mountain is notorious for fog banks. They have advance signs warning people. But the problem is, people are seeing well and suddenly they’re in a fog bank,” said Glen Sage of the American Red Cross office in the town of Galax.

Since 1997, there have been at least six such pileups on the mountain but Sunday’s crash was the most deadly, according to The Roanoke Times. Two people died in crashes involving dozens of vehicles in both 2000 and 2010.

Overhead message boards warned drivers since about 6 a.m. Sunday to slow down because of the severe fog, Geller said. The crashes were mostly caused by drivers going too fast for conditions.

At the “epicenter” was a wreck involving up to eight vehicles, some of which caught fire, Geller said. Photos from the accident scene showed a burned out tractor-trailer and several crumpled vehicles badly charred. Those taken to hospitals had injuries ranging from serious to minor.

School buses took stranded people to shelters and hotels.

Nina Rose, 20, and her mother, were driving home to Rochester, N.Y., when they encountered the pileup.

“With so much fog we didn’t see much around it,” Rose told the Roanoke newspaper. “As we got further up we just saw a bunch of people standing on the median, just with their kids and families all together. There were cars smashed into other cars, and cars just underneath other semi-trucks.”

Darrell Utt, 17, of Moore County, N.C., was stuck in the northbound lanes for about three hours as he traveled to Huntington, W. Va.

“It was really foggy at first,” he said. “We probably saw over 50 tow trucks. We saw about five cars come down and three semi-trucks. One of them, it didn’t even look like a car, it looked like a chunk of metal.”

Utt said motorists were calm, despite the traffic jam.

“There was no road rage or anything, everyone understood the severity of how bad this was before we even began to figure out what exactly happened,” he said.

Authorities reopened the northbound lanes Sunday night and hoped to have the other side cleared later in the evening.

Police did not immediately release the names of those killed.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2013-03-31-Virginia%20Interstate%20Pileup/id-2f856735e8b44a1abf3390e09b57ce12

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Hey, I’m New. CCC:..

1 Apr

Soo.. *coughcough.* THISISAWKWARD. I don’t really know what to say c:.. Uhm.. I’m new here, and I really have no clue what to do, so please try hard to deal with me and my nooby ness~. I’ll try hard, too. o:

[[WARNING: STUFF. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE STUFF, SKIP THIS STUFF.]]
About myself >:DD..
I’m new, obviously. I don’t really know how I found the whole rp’ing thing, but here I am. I like music, guitar, animals, DINOSAURS O-O (Same thing..), Pokemon, stuff, potatoes, meat, candy, chocolate, red, white, colors.. Yeah. ouo
[[DONE C:]]

Hopefully I haven’t officially weirded you out ;-;. Help would be appreciated. I’m a little intimidated by all the fancy people who are good at these things. Hopefully you can understand ^^;

Thanks you, buhbye~

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RolePlayGateway/~3/LMMQvOVFaCk/viewtopic.php

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