WASHINGTON –?The State Department has issued a revised Haiti travel advisory, warning Americans planning to travel to the Caribbean island nation about robbery, lawlessness, infectious disease and poor medical facilities.
“U.S. citizens have been victims of violent crime, including murder and kidnapping, predominantly in the Port-au-Prince area. No one is safe from kidnapping, regardless of occupation, nationality, race, gender or age,” the department said.
The new travel warning was released Friday to replace a less strongly worded advisory issued in June.
In recent months, travelers arriving in Port-au-Prince, the capital and largest city, on flights from the United States have been attacked and robbed after leaving the airport. This year, at least two U.S. citizens were shot and killed in robbery and kidnapping incidents, the State Department said.
“Haitian authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such violent acts or prosecute perpetrators,” the department said.
The State Department also noted that while the incidents of cholera have declined, the disease persists in many areas of Haiti. Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak.
“Thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel. Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid infrastructure, evacuation and medical support options in place,” the department said.?
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico (AP) ? Authorities in northern Mexico say police have found five severed human heads at several points around the city of Torreon accompanied by threatening message referring to drug gangs.
Coahuila state prosecutors spokesman Fernando Olivas says the male heads were tucked inside bags along with handwritten notes attached. He hasn’t revealed the exact messages.
Olivas says the slain men’s bodies have not yet been located. The heads were found late Friday and early Saturday.
Authorities say the Zetas and the Sinaloa drug cartels are fighting each other over control of smuggling routes in the state of Coahuila.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. ? New mothers in Rhode Island will no longer leave the hospital with a free goody bag of infant formula.
To encourage breastfeeding, the state’s seven birthing hospitals stopped formula giveaways this fall, apparently making it the first state to end the widespread practice.
State health officials hailed the decision Monday, noting that breastfeeding has been proved healthier than formula for both infants and mothers. Stephanie Chafee, a nurse and the wife of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, called the decision a critical step toward increasing breastfeeding rates.
“As the first `bag-free’ state in the nation, Rhode Island will have healthier children, healthier mothers, and a healthier population as a whole,” Chafee said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment.”
Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.
The new policy isn’t intended to force women into nursing their children, according to Denise Laprade, a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center, which eliminated free formula distribution last month. She said the focus is instead on parental education and helping mothers decide what’s best for their child.
“We never make any woman feel guilty about her decision,” Laprade said. She said she has received few complaints from parents about the new policy, though she said the older nurses needed a little time to adjust.
Thirty-eight percent of Rhode Island mothers nurse their babies six months after birth, compared with 44 percent nationally, according to a report issued this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
State Health Director Michael Fine said the state hopes to raise the percentage of Rhode Island mothers nursing at six months to 60 percent by 2020.
Public health officials in Massachusetts endorsed a ban on free formula samples in 2005, but the regulation was rescinded by then-Gov. Mitt Romney before it took effect. Getting the new policy in place in small Rhode Island was easier, since it’s not a law or regulation and required the agreement of only seven hospitals.
Nationally, about 540 of the nation’s 3,300 birthing hospitals have stopped the formula giveaways, according to Marsha Walker, a registered nurse in Massachusetts and co-chairwoman of “Ban the Bags,” a campaign to eliminate formula giveaways at maternity hospitals.
Walker said the bags given to new mothers ? typically containing a few days’ worth of formula ? amount to a sophisticated marketing campaign by formula manufacturers.
“Hospitals should market health and nothing else,” she said. “When hospitals give these out, it looks like an endorsement of a commercial product.”
The International Formula Council, a trade group representing formula manufacturers, opposes the end of free formula samples. In a statement, the council notes that sample bags also include “key educational materials” on how to use and store formula.
“Mothers should be trusted to make good choices for their babies,” the council said in its statement. “More than 80 percent of U.S. infants will be given formula at some point during their first year of life … these educational materials are needed by the vast majority of mothers to ensure infant formula is prepared correctly and the baby’s health is not jeopardized.”
New mom Crystal Gyra said that while the new policy is well-intended, women should have the option of taking home formula samples. The Providence woman said she gladly accepted the free formula she received after giving birth to her daughter Gianna, now 2 months old. Gyra gives her daughter formula.
“It helped me,” she said of the samples. “They should leave it up to the women to decide whether they want to take the samples or not. We’re smart enough to figure it out.”
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WASHINGTON ? President Barack Obama will be just a fan at this basketball game.
Obama, who plays in pick-up games as often as he can, is bringing his family to Towson University, just north of Baltimore, to watch Towson play Oregon State on Saturday afternoon.
The first lady’s brother, Craig Robinson, is Oregon State’s head coach.
Catching an Oregon State game has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition for the Obamas.
Last Thanksgiving, the Beavers came to Washington and beat Howard. The year before that, Oregon State made the trip east and defeated George Washington.
Penn State reportedly planning Paterno’s exit
Penn State administrators are discussing how to manage Joe Paterno’s departure as the football coach, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing two unnamed people briefed on talks among the school’s top officials.
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