News Digest | March 23, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 23, 2012

News Digest

Woman hurt during Palo Alto strong-arm robbery

A woman in her 50s was injured in Palo Alto during a strong-arm street robbery after a man absconded with her purse Wednesday night, March 21, Palo Alto police said in a press release Thursday, March 22.

The woman was walking at about 9:40 p.m. in the Midtown neighborhood, northbound on the east sidewalk of the 2400 block of Middlefield Road, just south of Oregon Expressway. A man approached her from behind and grabbed her purse. She tried to pull it back from him but was unable to prevent the theft, police said.

The man ran north on the sidewalk and entered the passenger side of a vehicle waiting in a traffic lane on Middlefield. The victim last saw the vehicle speeding off eastbound on Oregon Expressway.

The woman complained of elbow and back pain but did not require medical attention at the scene, police said.

The man is described as about 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing dark clothing and a dark, knit wool skullcap. The victim could not provide the man's race or age. She described the vehicle as being small and dark-colored.

Her purse contained miscellaneous personal property, police said. At the time of the robbery, she had been walking home after shopping at 7-Eleven, located at 708 Colorado Ave., and at Walgreens, at 2605 Middlefield Road. Officers are conducting a follow-up investigation.

Police suggest that people remain aware of their surroundings when out for walks and report suspicious behavior immediately to 9-1-1.

Anyone having information about this robbery is asked to contact the police 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message to 650-383-8984.

Palo Alto picks new Human Resources director

Palo Alto will soon have a new leader in its Human Resources Department — a veteran attorney whose experience with labor relations includes stints at Kaiser Permanente, Alcoa and Goodrich Aerospace.

City Manager James Keene announced Monday, March 19, that after an "extensive search" featuring 83 applicants he has selected Kathryn Shen as the city's "chief people officer." Shen, who will begin her new job April 17, will direct a department that has been without a permanent head since Russ Carlsen retired at the end of 2010.

The City Council unanimously approved her contract Monday night. She will receive an annual base salary of $185,000.

An attorney with 23 years of business experience, Shen has spent the past five years in the Human Resources Department at Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Regional Office. She has also recently published an article in the industry journal, People & Strategy, which discusses the role of predictive analytics to promote skill and career development.

"I'm looking forward to fostering an environment of innovation, collaboration and shared accountability to help achieve the City's goal of becoming the best high-performing city in the U.S.," Shen said in a statement.

Shen is joining the city's Human Resources Department at a particularly sensitive time for labor relations. The city is seeking benefit reductions from all of its labor groups and has recently declared an impasse with its negotiations with its largest police union. The impasse came just months after the city reached an agreement with its firefighter union after 18 months of tense negotiations.

Stanford study: Ibuprofen reduces altitude sickness

"A really nasty hangover" is how Stanford's Dr. Grant Lipman describes the feeling of acute mountain sickness, also called altitude sickness — symptoms can include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and poor appetite.

But Lipman has found that ibuprofen could help prevent the debilitating condition, which occurs in people when going to high elevations. More than 25 percent of the millions of Americans who travel to high elevations each year, often to hike, camp or ski, will suffer from acute mountain sickness.

Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medication often used as a painkiller, can significantly reduce the incidence of acute mountain sickness, according to Lipman, an emergency-medicine physician at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. His double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 86 men and women was published online March 20 in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The findings could prove especially useful for recreationists who have week-long vacations planned at high altitudes.

"You don't want to feel horrible for 15 to 20 percent of your vacation. Ibuprofen could be a way to prevent AMS in a significant number of the tens of millions of people who travel to high altitudes each year."

— Sue Dremann


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