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Darts and laurels

Laurels to Nd-Fe-B magnets and their potential to attract new business investments in Rowan. Scratching your head? Those initials represent neodymium-iron-boron, the ěrare earthî materials that are central to a proposed joint venture that could expand Hitachi Metalsí China Grove facility through a $76 million investment. The project is not a done deal, but credit economic development officials and county commissioners with putting Rowan in a competitive position. Not only would this venture be good for the economy, creating almost 150 new jobs; it also has a ěgreenî energy element. Hitachiís rare earth magnets are used in the motors of hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as in wind-turbine generators.

Dart to a surge in the deaths of law-enforcement officers slain in the line of duty. The numbers appear to be on the rise for the second straight year. The National Law Enforcement Fund, which tracks police fatalities, says that overall officer deaths are up 14 percent compared to the first six months of 2010, while deadly shootings have increased 33 percent. Deadly shootings reached a 20-year high in the first half of this year, with 40 officers killed by gunfire, up from 30 at the same point in 2010. The increase comes even as the overall rate of violent crime has dropped. While a particularly violent January, when 11 officers were fatally shot, is responsible for much of the increase, officials are concerned that the higher rate of fatalities may be linked to cutbacks that have resulted in less training and equipment upgrades for officers.

Dart to the surge in mosquitoes expected to buzz up as a result of the hot, humid weather that has settled over much of the central and eastern United States. Public health officials are urging people to take precautions to reduce their exposure to mosquito-borne illnesses. Underscoring the potential seriousness of bites, state health officials Friday confirmed the summerís first case of La Crosse viral encephalitis. Other mosquito-borne viruses include eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. A recent USA Today article also noted that health experts are concerned about the introduction of the Asian tiger and African bush mosquitoes, which are transmitters of at least 22 different viruses. Some simple precautions: Cover up, use insect repellants and eliminate standing water around your home.

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