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Entries in Washington (3)

Wednesday
Nov072012

Colorado, Washington Become First States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a groundbreaking move, Colorado and Washington voters have passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The drug is still banned under federal law.

Colorado's Proposition 64 to the state's constitution makes it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess marijuana and for businesses to sell it.

"The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug so don't break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly."

Amendment 64 legalized marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 at certain retail stores. Proponents believed the bill could generate millions in revenue for the state government.

A similar measure on the ballot in Washington state legalizes small amounts of marijuana for people over 21.

Even though the issues have passed, they are likely to meet legal challenges very quickly.

In 2005, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that legalized medical marijuana in the state. The Court said Congress had the power to criminalize marijuana under the Commerce Clause.

A similar ballot issue to legalize marijuana in Oregon did not pass.

In Massachusetts Tuesday night, voters approved legislation to allow marijuana for medicinal reasons, joining 17 other states that allow it.

In addition to making a presidential pick, voters in states across the country voted on a number of polarizing issues including same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide.

Dozens of state-wide ballot questions were posed to voters, and their implications could reverberate across state lines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr282012

Real ‘Beautiful Mind’: College Dropout Became Mathematical Genius After Mugging 

Jason Padgett's drawing of Pi. Credit: Courtesy Jason Padgett(NEW YORK) -- Working behind the counter at a futon store in Tacoma, Wash., is not the place you would expect to find a man some call a mathematical genius of unprecedented proportions.

Jason Padgett, 41, sees complex mathematical formulas everywhere he looks and turns them into stunning, intricate diagrams he can draw by hand. He’s the only person in the world known to have this incredible skill, which he obtained by sheer accident just a decade ago.

“I’m obsessed with numbers, geometry specifically,” Padgett said. “I literally dream about it. There’s not a moment that I can’t see it, and it just doesn’t turn off.”

Padgett doesn’t have a PhD, a college degree or even a background in math. His talent was born out of a true medical mystery that scientists around the world are still trying to unravel.

Ten years ago, Padgett was only interested in two things: working out and partying. One night he was walking out of a karaoke club in Tacoma when he was brutally attacked by muggers who beat and kicked him in the head repeatedly. Padgett said they were after his $99 leather jacket.

“All I saw was a bright flash of light and the next thing I knew I was on my knees on the ground and I thought, ‘I’m gonna get killed,’” he said.

At the time, doctors said he had a concussion, but within a day or two, Padgett began to notice something remarkable. This college dropout who couldn’t draw became obsessed with drawing intricate diagrams, but didn’t know what they were.

“I see bits and pieces of the Pythagorean theorem everywhere,” he said. “Every single little curve, every single spiral, every tree is part of that equation.”

The diagrams he draws are called fractals and Padgett can draw a visual representation of the formula Pi, that infinite number that begins with 3.14.

“A fractal is a shape that when you take the shape a part into pieces, the pieces are the same or similar to the whole. So say I had 1,000 pictures of you, that were little and I put all those little pictures of you in the right spot to make the exact same picture of you, but bigger,” he explained.

Much like the mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe in the 2001 film, “A Beautiful Mind,” researchers believe Padgett has a remarkable gift. To better understand how his brain works, Berit Brogaard, a neuroscientist and philosophy professor at the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and her team flew Padgett to Finland to run a series of tests.

A scan of Padgett’s brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don’t have access to, Brogaard explained. The result was Padgett was now an acquired savant, meaning brilliant in a specific area.

“Savant syndrome is the development of a particular skill, that can be mathematical, spatial, or autistic, that develop to an extreme degree that sort of makes a person super human,” Brogaard said.

Padgett said his goal now is to get out of the furniture store and into the classroom to hopefully teach others that math is as beautiful and natural as the world around us. When asked if he thought his talent was a burden or a gift, Padgett said it was a mixture of both.

“Sometimes I would really like to turn it off, and it won’t,” he said. “But the good far outweigh the bad. I would not give it up for anything.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

After Near-Drowning, 12-Year-Old Boy Walking and Talking

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PUYALLUP, Wash.) -- It was an ordinary summer day when Charles "Dale" Ostrander went to the beach with his church group.  As his mother dropped him off, Dale, 12, made his customary sign of a heart for her, and she showed it back to him.

A few hours later, her son was fighting for his life after being dragged under by a riptide off the shores of Washington State.  He spent an estimated 20 minutes under water in the chilly Pacific Ocean, and when rescuers pulled him out, he had no pulse and wasn't breathing.  But, remarkably, Ostrander survived.

And even though he's still in the hospital, doesn't speak much now, and has to undergo grueling therapy, the Spanaway, Wash., boy is walking, dressing himself and learning to talk all over again.

In an interview with ABC News at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Dale's parents, Chad and Kirsten Ostrander, say their son's survival is nothing short of a miracle.

"I think God answered a lot of people's prayers," Chad Ostrander said.

Dale's dramatic Aug. 5 rescue made headlines across the nation.  The currents were strong that day and as the boy waded in just a little, the powerful riptide tugged his feet out from under him and swept him away.

Nicole Kissel, 12, was on her boogie board nearby when she heard Ostrander yelling for help.  Ignoring the pleas of her father to come ashore, she used her board to swim into the churning waves and grab Ostrander.

"When I got to him I put him on the board, I grabbed the board and several waves hit us, one of the waves knocked us off," she said.

Emergency responders performed CPR and started an IV.  At the hospital, Ostrander was placed in a medically induced coma.  Four days later, he opened his eyes.

Nicole Kissel visited him that week, and he told her "thank you."

Since then, many have asked whether his survival was a due to the CPR, the cold water -- the ocean temperature was around 56 degrees, or something else.

"This is a miracle from God because it goes against the laws of nature," Terry Minge, the Ostrander family's pastor, said.

Dr. Benjamin Abella, director of clinical research in the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ostrander's survival may be due to the fact that the waters in which he was submerged were sufficiently frigid.

"A number of studies have shown that hypothermia -- reduced body temperature -- is highly protective of the brain when it is starved for oxygen and blood flow," Abella said.  "The water that bathed him was certainly quite cold, and it's likely that his core body temperature dropped during his cardiac arrest event."

Abella said Ostrander's age and overall health may have also been factors in his survival.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio