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Shoppers in Flint, Mich., await a Thanksgiving start to their Black Friday.

Furthermore …

Associated Press photos

Obama hits right notes in a delicate mission

President Obama found the right balance of encouragement and caution during his historic trip to Myanmar.

Speaking at the University of Yangon, Obama pledged to offer the country a “hand of friendship” but also warned government leaders that they must continue on the path of democratic reform to remain partners with the U.S.

Obama was greeted by throngs of exuberant people holding banners welcoming him to the county where citizens are not yet used to being allowed to demonstrate peacefully. He deviated from U.S. policy by referring to the nation as Myanmar instead of Burma, as government leaders prefer. But by speaking at the university, a place where truth and knowledge are sought, he sent a clear message that the world is watching and expecting further progress.

Program SPICEs up education for everyone

On its way to another state championship appearance Friday, the Bishop Luers football team traveled to Columbus, Ohio, last month to play the powerhouse Bishop Hartley Hawks in its homecoming game.

It was a 40-7 win for the home team, but the best story of the night involved its homecoming queen.

Senior Megan Ryan, who was introduced at the Luers-Hartley game, was chosen from among 10 candidates. She has Down syndrome. Bob and Mary Ginn Ryan told the Columbus Dispatch they wanted Megan to experience all that her 10 older siblings had, including a Catholic education. To help provide the special education services generally not available in Catholic schools, they started SPICE (Special People in Catholic Education) at the elementary school their children attended. The program has since spread to 11 schools – eight in their own diocese and one each in Dayton, Toledo and Kentucky.

Janet Weisner, principal at the elementary school where the program began, told the Dispatch the program, funded through private donations, distributes about $50,000 a year for teacher training, student tutoring and other expenses.

“It makes us a better community and makes us better teachers,” Weisner told the Columbus newspaper. “And for us, it answers the call when Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.’ It doesn’t say just those children who are the brightest or the most athletic, but all children.”

Extending the FDAs reach

Many Americans believe the government has far too many regulations, but the recent meningitis outbreak demonstrates why more may be necessary.

The Food and Drug Administration commissioner told a congressional hearing this week that the FDA needs new regulations governing compounding pharmacies because of conflicting court rulings and a lack of clarity in existing regulations. Some rules were drafted at a time when pharmacists at neighborhood drug stores mixed medicines for individual patients.

Now, though, compounding pharmacies are major operations, closer to drug manufacturers than drug stores. The 490 meningitis illnesses, including 34 deaths, have all been linked to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg recommends some common-sense regulations, including requiring large-scale compounders to register with the FDA and inform the agency of any troubles with the products they sell.

Small Business Saturday

If you joined the crowds jumping the Black Friday starting line on Thursday night, you might be shopped out by now. But for those who avoided the crowds or those who prefer a less-hectic retail experience, remember that today is Small Business Saturday. It’s the day set aside to support the small, locally owned businesses whose investments and profits stay in the community and make it better.

Small businesses also are those most likely to have that special gift you won’t find everywhere else, like locally handcrafted items, and to offer the attention and service that doesn’t come with an Internet order.

Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District is getting into the spirit with Holly Trolley Shopping – a free trolley service from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, with stops at downtown holiday attractions and dozens of locally owned shops, including “pop-up” shops open just for the event. Shopping guides will be available on the trolleys, which will have stops near all the downtown parking garages. Citilink also is offering free fare day.

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