More from the Appeal Newsroom |

More from the Appeal Newsroom

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier and airman who were supporting operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Rodney J. Johnson, 20, of Houston, died Sept. 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th CavalryRegiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Master Sgt. Patrick D. Magnani, 38, of Martinez, Calif., died Sept. 4 near Bagram, Afghanistan, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 31st Medical Support Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy.

The circumstances surrounding Magnani’s death are under investigation.

Mattel, Inc. announced today that, as a result of the company’s ongoing investigation of its toys manufactured by vendors in China, the company has voluntarily recalled 11 toys globally, including eight pet and furniture playsets sold under the Barbie® brand and three Fisher-Price® toys, due to impermissible levels of lead.

No Barbie® dolls are included within the recall.

In total, there are 530,000 affected toys in the U.S., and 318,000 affected toys outside of the U.S. Mattel has completed the testing program for the majority of its toys, including all of its toys currently sourced from vendors.

The voluntary recall results from Mattel’s thorough investigation of vendor-sourced toys. Mattel has also globally implemented a strengthened, three-point check system to test toys throughout the manufacturing process.

In the U.S., there are seven recalled Barbie®-branded toys. The specific affected parts include:

– Dream Puppy House™- orange on miniature dog

– Dream Kitty Condo™- brown on miniature cat

– Table & Chairs Kitchen Playset – yellow food on two dinner plates, brown on miniature dog, yellow and orange on potato chip bowl, orange on salad bowl

– Bathtub & Toilet Playset – brown on miniature cat

– Desk & Chair Bedroom Playset – brown on miniature dog

– Living Room Playset (deluxe) – brown on miniature cat

– Living Room Playset (premium) – yellow flower on purs

Among the three Fisher-Price® toys recalled are two Fisher-Price® GEOTRAX™ toys and one “It’s a Big Big World” toy. Fisher-Price® toys with specific parts affected include:

– GEOTRAX™ Rail & Road System Freightway Transport™- yellow headlights on train car and miniature ladder

– GEOTRAX™ Special Track Pack™ – yellow headlights on train car and miniature ladder

– “It’s a Big Big World” 6-in-1 Bongo Band – painted decal on top of clear plastic on drum

Mattel’s investigation revealed that the subcontractors painted the affected toys between March 2007 and August 2007. However Mattel is being cautious and recalling the entire production of the seven toys painted by the subcontractors. Therefore, toys manufactured beginning in October 2006 are included within the recall. The toys being recalled were sold at retail between November 2006 and August 2007.

For additional information contact Fisher-Price toll-free at (888) 496-8330 anytime or visit the firm’s Web site at To access color photos of the following recalled products, see CPSC’s Web site at

How to Return Affected Toys/Parts:

1) The first step is for consumers to determine if they have a toy that has been affected by the recall. To do so, they can visit where they will find a complete list of each toy recalled, including color photos, toy model numbers and affected date codes. Consumers can locate toy model numbers on the bottom of most recalled toys.

For consumers without a computer, or for those preferring phone support, they may call (888) 496-8330

2) Once consumers determine that they think they own a Mattel toy affected by the recall, they are prompted to fill out a form (online) or provide their postal address (via phone), and Mattel will send to consumers (via email or to a postal address) a color brochure with photos, toy numbers and date code ranges of every affected toy, as well as a pre-paid mailing label for return of the affected part(s).

3) After receiving consumers’ returned, affected part(s), Mattel will send consumers replacement parts for each affected product, as well as bonus pieces/parts.

Mattel recommends that consumers do not return toys to retailers for three reasons:

1) Mattel can help consumers determine if a toy has been affected by the recall (vs. returning an unaffected toy)

2) Mattel will provide consumers with a replacement part for each toy part affected by the recall

3) Mattel will handle affected products in an environmentally friendly way

Consumers do not need to have the toy’s original packaging or a receipt to return affected products to Mattel.

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 5, the 248th day of 2007. There are 117 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

Fifty years ago, on Sept. 5, 1957, the novel “On the Road,” by Jack Kerouac, was first published by Viking Press.

On this date:

In 1774, the First Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia.

In 1793, the Reign of Terror began during the French Revolution as the National Convention instituted harsh measures to repress counter-revolutionary activities.

In 1836, Sam Houston was elected president of the Republic of Texas.

In 1914, the first Battle of the Marne, resulting in a French-British victory over Germany, began during World War I.

In 1939, the United States proclaimed its neutrality in World War II.

In 1945, Japanese-American Iva Toguri D’Aquino, suspected of being wartime broadcaster “Tokyo Rose,” was arrested in Yokohama. (D’Aquino was later convicted of treason and served six years in prison; she was pardoned in 1977 by President Gerald Ford.)

In 1972, Arab guerrillas attacked the Israeli delegation at the Munich Olympic games; 11 Israelis, five guerrillas and a police officer were killed in the siege.

In 1975, President Ford escaped an attempt on his life by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a disciple of Charles Manson, in Sacramento, Calif.

In 1977, West German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer was kidnapped in Cologne by the Baader-Meinhof gang. (Schleyer was later killed by his captors.)

In 1977, the U.S. launched the Voyager 1 spacecraft two weeks after launching its twin, Voyager 2.

Ten years ago: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II broke the royal reticence over Princess Diana’s death, delivering a televised address in which she called her former daughter-in-law “a remarkable person.” Twelve Israeli soldiers were killed during a commando raid into Lebanon. Mother Teresa died in Calcutta, India, at age 87. Conductor Sir Georg Solti died in France at age 84.

Five years ago: Afghan President Hamid Karzai survived an assassination attempt in Kandahar, hours after an explosives-packed car tore through a Kabul market. Actor Cliff Gorman, who had won a Tony for portraying comedian Lenny Bruce in the 1971 play “Lenny,” died in New York at age 65.

One year ago: A cook was charged with shooting and dismembering the owner of a Maine bed-and-breakfast and three other people in a Labor Day weekend killing rampage (Christian Nielsen has since pleaded not guilty to murder by reason of insanity). Felipe Calderon was declared Mexico’s president-elect after two months of uncertainty over a disputed election. Boeing executive Alan Mulally was named president and CEO of Ford Motor Co., succeeding Bill Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford.

Today’s Birthdays: Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul A. Volcker is 80. Comedian-actor Bob Newhart is 78. Actress-singer Carol Lawrence is 75. Actor William Devane is 68. Actor George Lazenby is 68. Singer John Stewart is 68. Actress Raquel Welch is 67. Movie director Werner Herzog is 65. Singer Al Stewart is 62. Actor-director Dennis Dugan is 61. Singer Loudon Wainwright III is 61. Drummer Buddy Miles is 61. “Cathy” cartoonist Cathy Guisewite is 57. Actor Michael Keaton is 56. Country musician Jamie Oldaker (The Tractors) is 56. Rhythm-and-blues singer Terry Ellis is 41. Rock musician Brad Wilk is 39. TV personality Dweezil Zappa is 38. Actress Rose McGowan is 33. Actor Andrew Ducote is 21.

Thought for Today: “This is the story of America. Everybody’s doing what they think they’re supposed to do.” ” Jack Kerouac, American novelist (1922-69)

Quick, you’ve got to help me ” holy sweet mother of crap did I screw up.

This particular screwup has been brewing for a while, and realistically I should have seen it coming before now, but I’m an idiot.

I figured it was like being raised in North Dakota ” if you ignored it for long enough you can pretend it didn’t happen, but no, it always comes back to bite you.

To read the full column, pick up Thursday’s Appeal or check out the Party of One Blog at of one.

Lyon County Search and Rescue crews are heading out to an area in Mason Valley where a ranch hand may have seen the aircraft of missing aviator Steve Fossett on Monday.

Lyon County Sheriff Allen Veil said a ranch owner off Highway 95 Alternate reported the ranch hand’s statements to police about 10:45 a.m. today.

“We are just acting on a tip that an aircraft at least matching that description was last seen there,” said Veil.

The millionaire aviator who has set more than 100 records did not file a flight plan for what was expected to be a short scouting mission to find a dry lake bed suitable for a future attempt to break the land speed record. He has been missing for two days.

But rescuers had high hopes early today because there was little wind to interfere with their aerial search efforts. On Tuesday, heavy turbulence and gusts that reached 40 mph prevented pilots from flying low or close to mountain peaks.

Light winds were expected to continue through most of the day, said Gary Derks, operations officer for the Nevada Division of Emergency Management.

Aircraft are covering an estimated 600 square-miles in the search for Fossett.

LOS ANGELES (AP) ” Closing arguments have begun in Phil Spector’s murder trial.

The nine-man, three-woman jury has heard months of testimony and is now listening to a prosecutor argue for conviction of the famed record producer.

Spector is accused of shooting actress Lana Clarkson to death in his home more than four years ago.

The defense claims Clarkson shot herself.

The judge says he expects the case to be submitted to the jury on Friday.

A fire which began Monday in the Plumas and Lassen National Forests in Northeastern California is adding to already smoky skies in Northern and western Nevada.

The Moonlight Fire, involves 3-5,000 acres. It continues to move in a northeasterly direction both along and south of the ridgeline bordering the Plumas and Lassen National Forests. The fire front is in the Indicator Peak area and spotting is occurring 3 miles out.

Fires continue to burn near Morgan Hill, Calif., the Henry Coe Park Fire, and in the Angeles National Forest near Santa Clarita in Southern California.

– Gas pipeline work continues on the east and west sides of Fairview Drive, from Fifth Street to Pheasant Drive. Intermittent traffic controls for heavy equipment; drive with caution.

– Road work continues on Saliman Road, from Fifth Street to Little Lane. Little Lane will be closed to through traffic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

– Due to the construction of the new Sheriff’s Administration Building, Harbin Avenue is closed to traffic between Musser and Second streets. This closure will remain in effect for the duration of the construction which is estimated to be completed in September.