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Weather causes blood donation shortage

Thursday, 09 January 2014 11:14 Published in Local News
As severe winter weather begins to subside, the American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.
Approximately 300 blood drives in 25 states across the U.S. were canceled due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 88-hundred blood and platelet donations since
January 2.
In the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of nearly 30 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in nearly 900 fewer than expected blood donations over the past five days.
“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Scott Caswell, CEO of the Red Cross Missouri-Illinois Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions despite the weather. Now we invite those previously ‘frozen out’ from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”
Platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types — O positive and negative, A negative and B negative — are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
 
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. 
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
 

City Police welcome new class of officers

Thursday, 09 January 2014 10:40 Published in Local News
The Metropolitan Police Department will host a graduation ceremony for 28 new police
officers on Thursday.  The ceremony will take place in the Anheuser-Busch
Auditorium and begins at 7:00 p.m.
After 28 weeks of rigorous physical training and hours of classroom instruction, the
newest members of the Metropolitan Police Department are ready to embark on their new
journeys as St. Louis Police Officers. The new officers will be sworn in and presented their
official police badges at the ceremony. Mayor Francis Slay and Chief Sam Dotson will address
the new officers. The Deputy Chiefs and various commanders will be in attendance.

OBAMA PONDERS LIMITING NSA ACCESS TO PHONE RECORDS

Thursday, 09 January 2014 08:24 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is expected to rein in spying on foreign leaders and is considering restricting National Security Agency access to Americans' phone records, according to people familiar with a White House review of the government's surveillance programs.

Obama could unveil his highly anticipated decisions as early as next week. On Thursday, the president is expected to discuss his review with congressional lawmakers, while his top lawyer plans to meet with privacy groups. Representatives from tech companies are meeting with White House staff on Friday.

The White House says Obama is still collecting information before making final decisions.

Among the changes Obama is expected to announce is more oversight of the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, a classified document that ranks U.S. intelligence-gathering priorities and is used to make decisions on scrutiny of foreign leaders. A presidential review board has recommended increasing the number of policy officials who help establish those priorities, and that could result in limits on surveillance of allies.

Documents released by former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. was monitoring the communications of several friendly foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The revelations outraged Merkel as well as other leaders, and U.S. officials say the disclosures have damaged Obama's relations around the world.

Obama and Merkel spoke by phone Wednesday, but U.S. officials would not say whether they discussed the NSA issues.

The president also is said to be considering one of the review board's most aggressive recommendations, a proposal to strip the NSA of its ability to store telephone records from millions of Americans and instead have phone companies or a third party hold the records. The NSA would be able to access the records only by obtaining separate court approval for each search, though exceptions could be made in the case of a national security emergency.

It's unclear whether Obama will ultimately back the proposal or how quickly it could be carried out if he does.

Before making his final decisions, the president was supposed to receive a separate report from a semi-independent commission known as the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by Congress. However, that panel's report has been delayed without explanation until at least late January, meaning it won't reach the president until after he makes his decisions public.

Members of that oversight board met with Obama on Wednesday and have briefed other administration officials on some of their preliminary findings. In a statement, the five-member panel said its meeting with the president focused on the NSA phone collection program and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the data sweeps.

It's unclear why Obama will announce his recommendations before receiving the report from the privacy and civil liberties board. One official familiar with the review process said some White House officials were puzzled by the board's delay. The report would still be available to Congress, where legislators are grappling with several bills aimed at dismantling or preserving the NSA's authority.

That official and those familiar with the White House review insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the process by name.

Obama also met Wednesday with members of the U.S. intelligence community, which largely supports keeping the NSA surveillance programs intact.

Shortly after receiving the review board recommendations last month, Obama signaled that he could be open to significant surveillance changes, including to the bulk collecting of phone records.

"There are ways we can do it, potentially, that gives people greater assurance that there are checks and balances — that there's sufficient oversight and sufficient transparency," Obama said at a Dec. 20 news conference. He added that programs like the bulk collection "could be redesigned in ways that give you the same information when you need it without creating these potentials for abuse."

The president also has backed the idea of adding a public advocate position to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which rules on many of the domestic surveillance decisions. The court typically hears only from the government as it decides cases, and the advocate would represent privacy and civil liberties concerns.

That review followed disclosures from Snowden, who leaked details of several secret government programs. He faces espionage charges in the U.S., but has been granted temporary asylum in Russia.

While Obama has said he welcomes the review, it's unlikely it would have occurred without Snowden's disclosures.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA's bulk collection program appeared to violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, but he didn't issue a preliminary injunction against unreasonable searches because of expected appeals. Late Wednesday, Justice Department lawyers asked Leon to halt further proceedings in his court on the NSA case and a second NSA-related lawsuit until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit hears the government's appeal of his December ruling.

Government lawyers said they were asking for the judicial stay from Leon because they were concerned that further court proceedings could jeopardize classified information about the surveillance program.

Larry Klayman, the conservative lawyer who filed the suit, has said he plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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