Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Egypt's military considers speeding up transition (AP)

CAIRO ? A spokesman for an advisory body to Egypt's military rulers says the army is studying ways to accelerate the transition to civilian rule, including moving up the timetable for presidential elections.

Mohammed El-Kholy said Monday the panel of civilian advisers wants to "ease the tension" following street protests on the anniversary of last year's uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, leaving the generals in charge.

The protesters want an immediate end to military rule, and accuse the army of mismanaging the transition and committing human rights violations.

El-Kholy says one suggestion is to hold presidential elections earlier than by the end of June ? the military's current schedule.

Activists say the new proposals could inflame tensions because they squeeze the time allotted for drafting a new constitution.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CAIRO (AP) ? An Egyptian security official says gunmen have stormed the branch of a major international bank and robbed an armored car in separate parts of Cairo.

The official said that seven gunmen charged Monday into the New Cairo branch of HSBC Bank on the city's outskirts, firing their weapons in the air, and took money from tellers.

The same day, he said, three gunmen robbed an armored car as it unloaded money at another bank in southern Cairo, fleeing with over 3 million Egyptian pounds ($542,000 dollars).

He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Armed bank robberies are rare in Egypt. Monday's daring daytime raids come amid reduced police deployments following the uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak from power last year.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120130/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt

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My Series on the Painkiller Panic (Theagitator)

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Arrests in Oakland protests rise to more than 400 (Reuters)

OAKLAND, Calif (Reuters) ? Crews cleaned up Oakland's historic City Hall on Sunday from damage inflicted overnight during violent anti-Wall Street protests that resulted in about 400 arrests, marking one of the largest mass arrests since nationwide protests began last year.

At a press conference on Sunday, Oakland police and city officials said they did not have a final tally of arrests. Earlier in the day, the city's emergency operations office put the figure at around 400. The skirmishes injured three officers and at least one demonstrator.

Police said a group of protesters burned an American flag in front of City Hall, then entered the building and destroyed a vending machine, light fixtures and a historic scale model of the edifice. The city's 911 emergency system was overwhelmed during the disturbances.

"While City Hall sustained damage, we anticipate that all city offices will be open for regular business tomorrow," said Deanna Santana, Oakland city administrator.

Oakland has become an unlikely flashpoint for the national "Occupy" protests against economic inequality that began last year in New York's financial district and spread to dozens of cities.

The protests in most cities have been peaceful and sparked a national debate over how much of the country's wealth is held by the richest 1 percent of the population. President Barack Obama has sought to capitalize on the attention by calling for higher taxes on the richest Americans.

Occupy protests focused on Oakland after a former Marine and Iraq war veteran, Scott Olsen, was critically injured during a demonstration in October. Protesters said he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister but authorities have never said exactly how he was hurt.

The Occupy movement appeared to lose momentum late last year as police cleared protest camps in several cities.

Violence erupted again in Oakland on Saturday afternoon when protesters attempted to take over the apparently empty downtown convention center to establish a new headquarters and draw attention to the problem of homelessness.

Police in riot gear moved in to drive back the crowd, which they estimated at about 500 protesters.


"Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipe, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares," the Oakland Police Department said in a statement. "The Oakland Police Department deployed smoke, tear gas and beanbag projectiles in response to this activity."

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan accused a "violent splinter group" of the Occupy movement of fomenting the Saturday protests and using the city as its playground. Protesters have accused the city of overreacting and using heavyhanded tactics.

By early evening on Sunday, about 80 to 100 protesters were gathered in the plaza next to Oakland City Hall, but there was no police presence and the park was peaceful.

Oakland Police warned protesters that they would not tolerate a repeat of the protest actions on Saturday.

Tension also flared on Sunday in Washington where police used a taser on an Occupy protester during an arrest at a park near the White House, U.S. Park police said.

The National Park Service has said it will begin enforcing a ban on Occupy protesters camping overnight in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, two parks near the White House where they have been living since October.

That order, if carried out as promised starting at noon on Monday, could be a blow to one of the highest-profile chapters of the movement.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Kim Dixon and Rachelle Younglai in Washington; Editing by Greg McCune and Stacey Joyce)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/us/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120130/us_nm/us_oakland_protests

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Putin critics take to cars to demand fair elections (Reuters)

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Critics of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin drove in their hundreds around central Moscow on Sunday in cars trailing white ribbons, a symbol of Russia's protest movement, staging a mobile demonstration to demand fair elections.

Opposition leaders are trying to maintain momentum after tens of thousands of people angry over alleged election fraud and Putin's plan to return to the Kremlin in a March vote turned out last month for the biggest protests of his 12-year rule.

"This has an important symbolic meaning. We have arrived at the stage when we don't want to be vassals any more," said opposition activist Ilya Ponomaryov, who picked up hitchhikers with white ribbons in his purple sedan.

Organizers said the demonstration also aimed to advertise protest marches planned for next Saturday, exactly one month before the March 4 presidential election.

"We want to show our unity. This is very visible. This is preparatory work for February 4, when there will be even more people than on Sakharov Avenue," Ponomaryov said, referring to the site of a December 24 rally that drew tens of thousands.

Polls indicated Putin will regain the presidency, extending his rule for at least six more years. He was president from 2000-2008 and is widely believed to have been holding Russia's reins for his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev.

Some drivers resorted to white construction tape, printer paper, grocery bags and even white lace as they cruised around Moscow's Garden Ring road. Organizers said more than 3,000 motorists took part, while police put the number at about 300.

In the minus 15 C (5 F) chill, many pedestrians applauded or waved white handkerchiefs from the sidewalks in solidarity. One vehicle had a life-sized straw figure with a picture of Putin's face strapped to its hood.

Cars are a strong symbol not only of status but of personal freedom in Russia and the right to choice in a country where even ownership of a tiny Soviet-made Lada was a luxury in the communist era and foreign cars were virtually non-existent.

The protests, provoked by widespread suspicions of fraud favoring Putin's ruling party in a December 4 parliamentary election, have revealed dismay among Russians.

Middle-class city dwellers in particular feel they have no say in politics and that Putin's decision to return to the Kremlin was thrust upon them.

"We have to fight for our rights... We have to show our strength so that maybe people will see us and come to the February 4th protest," said Nadezhda, 26, who works for a state TV station. Nadezhda, who declined to give her last name, said her station had told employees not to take part in Sunday's protest.

"I feel cheated by the vote," Yevgeny Starshov, 23, a student at a state school of public administration, said of the parliamentary election.

"We have to do something to change the country for the better, not through riots or some kind of revolution but through such peaceful demonstrations to fight for more fair elections."

Thousands of Putin's supporters rallied on Saturday in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth-largest city, to back his election bid.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by David Stamp)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/russia/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120129/wl_nm/us_russia_protest_cars

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Newt Gingrich was Lost in Space at Florida Debate (ContributorNetwork)

COMMENTARY | Newt Gingrich's spokesman said Thursday night's GOP debate in Jacksonville, Fla., was a "push." Who is he trying to kid? Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the night in a harrowing display of debate splendor that had the well-spoken, factually armed former speaker tied in a knot.

The Ticket reported Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond tried to sell the idea of a debate draw to reporters traveling with the campaign, but it seemed to fall flat. Rightfully so. Gingrich did not have a strong appearance, failing to counter damaging attacks from Romney and Rick Santorum, who straddled him on the stage. Ron Paul provided nothing more than comic relief and proven -- beyond a shadow of a doubt -- that he is unfit to be president and merely riding a 15 minutes of fame tour through these debates.

One of the former House speaker's weakest moments was the defense of his plan to build a permanent moon colony by the end of his second term as president. He is right in one respect: America needs another grand idea. Gingrich cited President John F. Kennedy's call to space in the early 1960s as an example, but that was Kennedy's moment for Kennedy's time. America needs another grand idea, but not something as outlandish as a multitrillion-dollar expense of building moon colony. After all, we just finished building the international space station and the U.S. doesn't even possess a working orbiter at the moment.

The Washington Post reported Gingrich talked Wednesday to more than 500 residents of Cocoa Beach, Fla., about his plans to develop the next great space exploration program. His idea met with resounding approval from a community largely dependent on America's space program for their jobs. During the debate, Romney accused him of pandering local issues as he campaigns. Romney got that part wrong. Candidates always talk to local crowds about very local issues to win their votes (and their wallet).

Regardless of the space discussion, Gingrich did not have a good night. My heart says Romney won the debate, but I cannot dismiss the powerful performance of Santorum. Romney will carry Florida next week, but the three-way race will continue as they all move to Nevada for the next votes. That is unless Santorum runs out of money in the meantime.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120128/pl_ac/10893553_newt_gingrich_was_lost_in_space_at_florida_debate

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Mild cognitive impairment is common, affects men most, study finds

ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2012) ? Researchers involved in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging report that more than 6 percent of Americans age 70 to 89 develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) every year. Also, the condition appears to affect men and those who only have a high school education more than women and those who have completed some higher education. People with MCI are at the stage between suffering the normal forgetfulness associated with aging and developing dementia, such as that caused by Alzheimer's disease.

The study -- published in the Jan. 25, 2012, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology -- reports that 296 of the 1,450 study participants developed MCI, an incidence rate of 6.4 percent per year overall. Among men, the incidence rate was 7.2 percent, compared with 5.7 percent per year for women.

"While incidence rates for MCI have been reported previously, ours is one of the few studies designed specifically to measure the incidence of MCI and its subtypes using published criteria," says lead author Rosebud O. Roberts, M.B., Ch.B., of the Mayo Clinic Division of Epidemiology. "The statistically significant difference between incidence rates among men and women represents an important finding for those evaluating patients for MCI."

The study also looked in more detail at patients with MCI, dividing them according to whether they developed amnestic MCI (aMCI) -- in which the condition affects the memory domain -- or non-amnestic MCI (naMCI).

Similar to the overall results, the incidence rates for aMCI and naMCI were higher in men than in women. In addition, the study found that individuals with only a high school education developed either aMCI or naMCI at a higher rate than those with some higher education.

"Understanding the distribution of incident MCI by age, sex and other demographic variables is critical to helping us understand the cause of the condition, as well as how to prevent MCI and its progression to full-blown, irreversible dementia," Dr. Roberts says. "This study advances our understanding of MCI and will help clinicians provide even better care for their patients, especially during initial evaluations."

About Mild Cognitive Impairment

People with MCI have mild problems with thinking and memory that do not interfere with everyday activities, although their forgetfulness is often apparent to them and their friends and family. While not everyone with MCI develops dementia, an estimated 5 to 10 percent do.

Symptoms of MCI include:

  • Difficulty learning and remembering new information
  • Difficulty solving problems or making decisions
  • Forgetting recent events or conversations
  • Taking longer to perform complex or difficult mental activities.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Mayo Clinic, via Newswise.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. R. O. Roberts, Y. E. Geda, D. S. Knopman, R. H. Cha, V. S. Pankratz, B. F. Boeve, E. G. Tangalos, R. J. Ivnik, W. A. Rocca, R. C. Petersen. The incidence of MCI differs by subtype and is higher in men: The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Neurology, 2012; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182452862

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/zT575btOkec/120125163412.htm

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gingrich Grabs National Lead Again (Taegan Goddard's Political Wire)

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Orono cancer survivor pens support booklet for cancer patients ...

ORONO, Maine ? Mart Lapin of Orono understands the range of emotions that come with the words, ?you have cancer.? He has faced the diagnosis four times and survived. Over the past 10 years, Lapin became determined to find a way to help other cancer patients with emotional support and transportation, lodging, food and prescription expenses.

Using his own experiences, Lapin wrote a booklet, ?Four Down and None to Go (So Far).? First diagnosed with cancer in 2000, he describes the challenges he faced during treatment and recovery and the emotions that confronted him and his wife, Mary. He also details the life lessons he learned during his journey and his realization that cancer patients had many needs beyond their medical care.

?During the support groups at Eastern Maine Medical Center?s CancerCare of Maine, I became aware of the tremendous need for support services for cancer patients,? he said. Motivated by this insight, he created the Oncology Support Foundation in 2005, and eventually it joined with Healthcare Charities as the Oncology Support Project. The mission of OSP is to provide broad financial and emotional support for the basic needs of cancer patients during the course of treatment. Since its inception in 2005, OSP has provided more than $50,000 in gas cards for patients. In addition, OSP funded the printing of ?Four Down and None to Go (So Far),? available at no cost to cancer patients and their families throughout the region.

Lapin hopes ?Four Down and None to Go (So Far)? will encourage and comfort cancer patients, and that its publication will make more people aware about the Oncology Support Project. ?OSP is funded entirely through individual donations and generous grants,? he said. ?We are truly a local group helping local people.?

For information about ?Four Down and None to Go (So Far)? or the Oncology Support Project of Healthcare Charities, call Liz Martin at 973-9633.

Source: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/01/24/living/positively-maine/orono-cancer-survivor-pens-support-booklet-for-cancer-patients/

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Start your week with the Greatest Android Podcast in the World!

Android Central PodcastWe just can't get CES out of our systems, but we do our damndest to try in the latest episode of the Greatest Android Podcast in the World. Plus, we talked a bit about Android in the car, and what we'll see at Mobile World Congress in a month.

The Android Central Podcast is your weekly peek into the world of Android, where we break down the news that really matters, and explain what's just a bunch of hype. Plus, we answer your e-mails and voicemails. You don't want to miss it. Check out the Android Central Podcast.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/androidcentral/~3/5XSCWnlZkdc/story01.htm

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The curious case of Grammy nominee Linda Chorney (AP)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. ? Linda Chorney is the feel-good, do-it-yourself success story of this year's Grammy Awards. Or she's an unworthy impostor who broke the unwritten rules regarding self-promotion for music's top showcase.

It just depends who you talk to.

How the little-known 51-year-old singer-songwriter parlayed pluck into a career milestone provides an interesting window into the inner politics of the Grammys and the role influence can play in shaping nominations. Chorney's nod for best Americana album at the Feb. 12 ceremony has drawn a range of reactions, not all of them kind. She's been mocked on Twitter and by a majority of taste-making bloggers, and only occasionally has anyone come to her defense.

Since her Nov. 30 nomination for her self-produced independent double album "Emotional Jukebox," she's been taking advantage of the opportunities while turning some of the criticism back on itself in the same irrepressible way she's carved out a career in music over the past three decades.

"It's not cool," she said. "But what can you do?" The positive reaction has outweighed the negative, she says: "I've had an outcry of letters from people my age who have said what an inspiration this is. That it gave them hope. So that's been pretty nice. I didn't expect to hear that, which was really beautiful."

Her critics say Chorney's use of a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences social-networking site to introduce her music to voters ran afoul of informal rules about lobbying. David Macias, a Grammy winner based in Nashville, thinks her nomination could have damaged the credibility of music's most prestigious showcase.

"The Grammys run the risk of being diluted," Macias said.

Chorney has defended herself, saying she simply took advantage of the Grammy365.com social-networking program the academy encouraged her to use. And Neil Portnow, the academy's president, agrees. He says her story shows there truly is a level playing field for all artists.

"It shows everybody has a shot," Portnow said. "That really is the truth."

Her competition is previous category winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Levon Helm, Country Music Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Ry Cooder ? owners of nearly two dozen Grammys collectively. Chorney's detractors say she doesn't belong.

In what seemed to be a veiled swipe at Chorney, when Lost Highway Records congratulated Williams on her nominations on its website, it added: "One might think Lucinda would be up for the award alongside the likes of amazing albums such as `KMAG YOYO (& other American stories)' from Hayes Carll or Robert Earl Keen's `Ready for Confetti,' but alas, here is a full list of the Americana Album nominees," then listed Chorney's name first.

Chorney, a resident of Sea Bright, N.J., has made a living as a musician for 30 years outside the label system, visiting all seven continents and releasing six albums along the way. While she never achieved her larger goals, she engineered a career with a willingness to barter and surprisingly lucrative gigs in resort locales ? at one, she memorably sang in exchange for rounds of golf.

"Will sing for greens fees," Chorney said. "Seriously. It's an alternative way. I tried making it in the business, to get the big record deal, but I've had a pretty good life singing all around the world. I like to climb. I went to Mount Everest. So it's been pretty rewarding."

Along the way she made lifelong friends who contributed to her career in interesting ways. One gave her a pass that allowed her to fly standby anywhere in the world for seven straight years and she crisscrossed the globe. Another friend, anesthesiologist Jonathan Schneider, sent her career in a completely unexpected direction when he offered to pay for "Emotional Jukebox," dropping around $80,000.

Backed by a strong crew of musicians that included "Saturday Night Live" band member Leon Pendarvis, "Late Show" bassist Will Lee and famed session singer Lisa Fischer among others, Chorney produced what she feels was the best album of her career. The first disc includes eight original songs and covers of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. A second disc includes an original classical symphony.

She became an academy member at another friend's suggestion. With two weeks to go until the close of nominations, someone else urged her to use the Grammy365.com website to seek voter support. About 1,500 of the academy's 12,000 voters accepted her contact and after that it was up to them to listen to her music and make a decision.

"I think the system is a wonderful opportunity for independent artists," Chorney said. "Basically a one-year membership is $100. Grammy365 to me is, you buy your $100 lottery ticket and the odds are like winning the lottery. Except, rather than having a number, you have your music, which can make your odds better if your music speaks for itself and gives you an edge."

It's that edge Macias objects to. He says over the years, NARAS officials had made it clear in "unwritten rules" that blatant self-promotion was out of bounds. Not only was it always difficult to determine who voters were, if a publicist or artist did cross into forbidden territory they were asked to step back in line.

Macias, a Nashville-based artist manager who runs the management and marketing firm Thirty Tigers, is one of the few members of the loose-knit roots rock community willing to talk on the record about Chorney's nomination. He makes it clear that his opinion is his own and not that of the Americana Music Association, of which he is the outgoing president.

AMA's executive director Jed Hilley declined comment. And interview requests extended to the publicists or managers of the category's nominees and the artists who produced the top 10 most-played Americana albums in 2010 went mostly unanswered.

Macias realizes that he's coming off like a jerk for going after Chorney, but he believes she broke the unwritten rules about promoting yourself, depriving artists like Carll, Jason Isbell and John Hiatt of a well-deserved nod.

"I guess it just comes down to the question: What do the Grammys mean?" he said. "... Honestly, I think people voted for it because she asked them to and she worked really hard. And I think the Grammy voters by and large ? I hate to say it ? I feel like maybe they just weren't paying as close attention."

Portnow and Bill Freimuth, the academy's vice president of awards, said it's as easy as ever to make educated decisions, however. A listening function available to voters offers more than 90 percent of music that's eligible for nomination.

That's one of a handful of recent changes that Chorney was able to capitalize on while seeking her nomination. Freimuth said about four years ago the academy changed its outlook on lobbying and now embraces the practice within certain guidelines. Along with the Grammy365.com website, the academy worked with Billboard Magazine this year to produce a voter's guide that included "for your consideration" style advertising, for example.

Chorney simply used the system to her advantage.

"She kept herself very busy reaching out to the voting membership and tried to make sure as many people as possible, especially those who were voting in that category, knew about her work," Freimuth said. "All of that is perfectly legitimate as far as our process goes."

Enough people heard Chorney's voice that she's being fitted for a new dress, borrowing $6,000 earrings and heading to Los Angeles next month. And she intends to have a blast.





Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/music/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120120/ap_en_mu/us_music_grammywatch_chorney

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cruise ship threatens marine paradise

(AP) ? Stone fortresses and watchtowers which centuries ago stood guard against against marauding pirates loom above pristine waters threatened by a new and modern peril: fuel trapped within the capsized Costa Concordia luxury liner.

A half-million gallons (2,400 tons) of black goo are in danger of leaking out and polluting some of the Mediterranean's most unspoiled sea, where dolphins are known to chase playfully after sailboats and fishermen's catches are so prized that wholesalers come from across Italy to scoop up cod, lobsters, scampi, swordfish and other delicacies.

"Compared to the Caribbean, we have nothing to be envious about," said Francesco Arpino, a scuba instructor in the chic port of Porto Ercole, marveling at how the sleek granite sea bottom helps keep visibility crystal clear even 40 meters (135 feet) down.

Divers in these transparent waters marvel at sea horses and red coral, while on the surface sperm whales cut through the sea.

But worry is clouding this paradise, which includes a stretch of Tuscan coastline that has been the holiday haunt of soccer and screen stars, politicians and European royals.

Rough seas hindering the difficult search for bodies by divers in the Concordia's submerged section have delayed the start of a pumping operation expected to last weeks to remove the fuel from the ship. Floating barriers aimed at containing any spillage now surround the vessel.

Concordia lies dangerously close to a drop-off point on the sea bottom. Should strong waves nudge the vessel from its precarious perch, it could plunge some 20-30 meters (65-90 feet), further complicating the pumping operation and possibly rupturing fuel tanks. Italy's environment minister has warned that if those tanks break, globs of fuel would block sunlight vital for marine life at the seabed.

A week after the Concordia struck a reef off the fishing and tourism island of Giglio, flipping on its side, its crippled 114,000-ton hull rests on seabed rich with an underwater prairie of sea grass vital to the ecosystem. The dead weight has likely already damaged a variety of marine life, including endangered sea sponges, and crustaceans and mollusks, even before a drop of any fuel leaks, environmentalists contend.

"The longer it stays there, the longer it impedes light from reaching the vegetation," said Francesco Cinelli, an ecology professor at the University of Pisa, in Tuscany. And the sheer weight of the Concordia will also crush sea life, he said.

The seabed where the Concordia lies is a flouishing home to Poseidon sea grass native to the Mediterranean, Cinelli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"Sea grass ... is to the sea what forests are to terra firma," Cinelli said: They produce oxygen and serve as a refuge for organisms to reproduce or hide from predators.

The Tuscan archipelago's seven islands are at the heart of Europe's largest marine park, extending over some 60,000 hectares (150,000 acres) of sea.

They include Elba, where Napoleon lived in exile, and the legendary island of Montecristo, a setting for Alexandre Dumas' novel "The Count of Monte Cristo" ? where rare Mediterranean monk seals have been spotted near the coast.

Montecristo has a two-year waiting list of people hoping to be among the 1,000 people annually escorted ashore by forest rangers to admire the uninhabited island. Navigation, bathing and fishing are strictly prohibited up to 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from Montecristo's rocky, cove-dotted coast. A monastery, established on Montecristo in the 7th century, was abandoned nine centuries later after repeated pirate raids.

Come spring, Porto Ercole's slips will be full, with yachts dropping anchor just outside the port. It lies at the bottom of a steep hill, whose summit gives a panoramic view of a sprawling seaside villa, once a holiday retreat of Dutch royals, and of the crescent-shaped island of Giannutri, with its ancient Roman ruins.

Alberto Teodori, 49, who said he has been hired as a skipper for the yachts of Rome's VIPs for 30 years, noted that the area thrives on tourism in the spring and summer and survives on fishing in the offseason.

If the Concordia's fuel, "thick as tar," should pollute the sea, "Giglio will be dead for 10, 15 years," Teodori fretted, as workers nearby shellacked the hull of an aging fishing boat.

The international ocean-advocacy group, Oceana, on Thursday, described the national marine park as an "ecological diamond," favored by divers for its great variety of species.

"If the pollution gets into the water, we are ruined," said Raffaella Manno, who with her husband runs a portside counter selling fresh local fish in Porto Santo Stefano, a nearby town where ferries and hydrofoils depart for Giglio.

A wholesaler as well, she said fish from the archipelago's waters is prized throughout Italy for its quality and variety.

"The water is clean and the reefs are rich" for fish to feed, she said, as trucks carrying oil-removal equipment waited to board ferries Wednesday to Giglio. "The priciest markets in Italy come here to buy, from Milan, Turin, even Naples."

Concordia's captain, initially jailed and then put in house arrest in his hometown near Naples, is suspected of having deliberately deviated from the ship's route, miles off shore, to hug Giglio's reef-studded coastline in order to perform a kind of "salute" to amuse passengers and islanders.

The maneuver is apparently a common practice by cruise ships, environmentalists lament.

"These salutes are an established practice by the big cruise ships," said Francesco Emilio Borrelli, a Green party official from Naples. He said that the Greens have received reports of numerous such sightings by ships sailing by the Naples area islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.

Even before the Concordia tragedy, environmentalists had railed against what they brand "sea monsters," virtually floating cities ? each pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases ? sailing perilously close to the sea coast to thrill passengers aboard.

They even sail up to Venice, the lagoon city whose foundations are eroded by waves churned up by passing vessels. Venice port officials defend the practice, saying they're escorted by tugboats.

"These virtual cities," said Marevivo in a statement highlighting Cinelli's concerns, "put at risk the richness of biodiversity, which that we must never forget is at the foundation of our very survival on Earth."

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/b2f0ca3a594644ee9e50a8ec4ce2d6de/Article_2012-01-20-EU-Italy-Paradise-in-Peril/id-ba388a31deaa4502b75b3808c7c511d2

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It's complicated: Romney's wealth makes it hard to argue that he feels your pain (Star Tribune)

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

O.C. business leaders receptive to governor's plan | brown, tax ...

IRVINE ? Gov. Jerry Brown's call for a combination of tax hikes and massive public works projects was warmly received when he pitched it to 50 of Orange County's top business executives Thursday.

On the heels of Wednesday's unveiling of the plan, Brown is touring Southern California to garner support for a temporary tax initiative, high-speed rail construction, a water project, public pension reform and key changes to education.

Gov. Jerry Brown cracks a smile while talking to the press after meeting with the Orange County Business Council Thursday in Irvine. He talked about raising the retirement age, cutting the budget and investing in a bullet train.



While the 300-member Orange County Business Council has not voted to support any of the specific plans, OCBC Executive Director Lucy Dunn said the group has been supportive of those proposals in the past and that Brown's presentation Thursday at an Irvine roundtable with 50 key members was greeted with enthusiasm.

Commercial real estate broker Fran Inman was among those embracing Brown's approach, including sweeping cuts previously signed into law by the governor.

"I just think it's time for that kind of commitment and passion," she said. "I think we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work. ... It's pretty clear we need both cuts and additional revenue."

Brown pitched his proposed tax initiative as costing half as much as the temporary tax hikes imposed under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ? and which expired last year. That point was emphasized by Dunn when she and Brown met with reporters after the hour-long roundtable meeting.

"It's half the tax that Gov. Schwarzenegger raised," she said. "It's less money than we paid in 2010."

Brown's four-year proposal calls for an additional half-cent sales tax and a marginal tax hike of up to 2 percent for the state's highest earners in order to cover a $9 billion budget deficit. Brown last year wanted legislators to put the measure on the ballot, but it was blocked by the Republican minority. So now Brown has launched the measure as a citizen's initiative, with petitions being circulated to qualify the measure for the November ballot - although those same Republicans remain critical.

"If I lay out the truth, I think the public will vote for it," Brown said.

Dunn noted that her group endorsed the effort to have legislators place the measure on the ballot provided it was accompanied by regulatory reforms. She said the group had previously backed a similar water project, the high-speed rail project, and reforms to public pensions and schools.

One potential obstacle facing Brown and his ballot measure are three other proposed initiatives to hike taxes. Brown acknowledged that if more than one competing tax hike was on the ballot, it lowered the chances of any of them passing.

"If they all go down, it doesn't help anybody," he said, adding that he hope to convince proponents of other plans to back his measure instead.

Brown also emphasized the improving business climate in California, saying that job creation here last year was 50 percent higher than the national average. In particular, he touted his new business development office.

"We are prepared with highly skilled people to cut the red tape," he said.

Brown didn't flinch when asked about the state losing jobs to places like Texas.

"Texas specializes in minimum-wage jobs," he said. "We have more higher-wage jobs."

He was also asked about critics who complain that Brown should not be adding massive water and rail projects at time when other services are being slashed.

"For some, chewing gum and jumping rope is daunting," he quipped. "You have to do both. For rail and water, we're talking about the next 100 years. This state - it's a building place. It's important for America that California lead the way."

Contact the writer: 714-796-6753 or mwisckol@ocregister.com

Source: http://www.ocregister.com/news/brown-336427-tax-measure.html

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Feeding The World Gets Short Shrift In Climate Change Debate

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia. Enlarge AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Food is getting elbowed out of the discussion on climate change, which could spell disaster for the 1 billion people who will be added to the world's population in the next 15 years. That's the word today from scientists wondering why food and sustainability get such short shrift when it comes to thinking about how humans will adapt to climate change.

In the past year, we've seen drought in Texas, floods in Australia and massive drought and wildfires in Russia, all of which have had a big impact on global food supply and prices. Those are good examples of the extreme weather events and changes in weather patterns that scientists expect to see with climate change.

"Agriculture is going to be a critically important part of the conversation," says Molly Jahn, a professor of genetics and agronomy at the University of Wisconsin who works on agriculture's impact on climate change. "We rely on agriculture to to feed ourselves. And we know that agriculture is and can be a better form of planetary care, particularly when in management of greenhouse gas emissions."

Last month, when nations met at the United Nations-sponsored climate change meeting in South Africa, the bulk of the effort went into trying to come up with a plan to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. But the many questions surrounding how agriculture and food production will adapt to climate change were left largely unanswered.

Why is it so hard to get traction on food security? You'd think that the threat of starvation would be motivating. In today's issue of the journal Science, Jahn and other scientists involved in the discussions spell out why.


Reasons include the need to pour a lot of energy into hammering out a global pact to reduce greenhouse gases; the fact that developing countries are leery of any agreements that could limit their ability to convert forests to agriculture; and a schism between high-income and low-income countries, with developed countries pushing to put efforts into mitigation, while developing nations favor adaptation programs. Then there's the question of who will pay.

But that's not to say that good things aren't happening. The authors cite one example: an agroforestry project in Niger that's increased grain production and improved the livelihoods of more than 1 million households. Agroforestry mixes crops and livestock with trees and shrubs. Trees that increase nitrogen levels in soil are planted next to corn crops in Africa, for instance, more than doubling corn yield. The practice can also reduce erosion and deforestation. (Here's an NPR report on efforts to grow cacao plants in the Brazilian rainforest.)

These sorts of sustainable agricultural practices could reduce the impacts of climate change, the Science authors say, both by assuring access to food and by reducing agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gases and environmental degradation.

"There's a great deal we can do at the landscape scale, and the local scale," Jahn says. But she thinks that has to be matched by big, innovative global efforts with enough muscle to meet the immensity of the challenge.

For more on how climate change may make it harder to feed the world, check out this recent discussion on Science Friday.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/20/145524525/feeding-the-world-gets-short-shrift-in-climate-change-debate?ft=1&f=1007

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Portugal launches labor reforms amid recession (AP)

LISBON, Portugal ? Portugal is to cut holiday entitlement, introduce more flexible working hours and cut compensation for layoffs in a package of labor reforms aimed at reversing the country's steep economic decline, officials said Tuesday.

Outdated labor practices were among the factors blamed for a decade of slender growth and mounting debts that compelled Portugal to take a euro78 billion ($99.6 billion) financial rescue package last year.

Its financial plight has aggravated Europe's sovereign debt crisis and brought fears that its economic downturn, compounded by austerity measures, could eventually force it to follow Greece and restructure its debt.

Standard & Poor's last week downgraded Portuguese debt to junk status amid forecasts the economy will contract by 3.1 percent this year. Portugal went into a double-dip recession last year when Moody's and Fitch Ratings, the other two leading ratings agencies, classified the country's debt as junk. The yield, the interest rate Portugal pays on its debt, for a 10-year bond has risen to 14.2 per cent following the S&P downgrade.

The jobless rate, meanwhile, has climbed to a record 13.2 percent, with unions staging strikes and protests against the center-right government's policies.

The labor law changes were agreed in the early hours of Tuesday morning after 17 hours of talks between the government, trade unions and business leaders.

Portugal committed to the reforms in return for the bailout granted by its European partners and the International Monetary Fund. The European union and other international bodies had long pressed Portugal to modernize its labor laws.

The bailout deal was signed by all the country's main political parties, but agreement on detailed measures required months of negotiations with unions and business confederations.

Economy and Employment Minister Alvaro Santos Pereira said the reforms would make the Portuguese economy more competitive and drive fresh growth.

He said the agreement "shows the world and the markets ... that we are laying the foundations to beat this crisis."

Full details of the agreement, which is due to be signed at a ceremony with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Wednesday, were not immediately available.

However, delegates who attended the talks did say the changes included: shortening workers' annual vacation entitlement from 25 days to 22, scrapping at least three public holidays, reducing layoff payouts, cutting overtime pay levels, and giving companies 150 work hours per employee without overtime to be used by employer as and when they were needed.

Also, jobless people who accept work that pays less than their unemployment benefit are to keep 50 percent of that benefit.

But the government had to ditch its controversial proposal allowing companies to demand that staff work an extra 30 minutes a day without overtime pay. The novel measure, the government claimed, would have reduced unit labor costs and thereby made exports cheaper.

But trade unions balked at the idea, saying it would overturn labor movements' long struggle for an eight-hour day, and the main opposition Socialist Party also opposed it, arguing there was no economic study to support the government's claim. Business leaders were also lukewarm on the measure, saying it would bring limited benefits.

Tuesday's agreement won the blessing of the General Workers' Union, one of the country's two main trade union confederations. However, the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, the other group, said it would fight the measures.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/eurobiz/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120117/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_portugal_financial_crisis

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Lions Gate nears $400M deal for 'Twilight' maker (AP)

LOS ANGELES ? Lions Gate is close to buying Summit Entertainment, the maker of the teen hit "Twilight" series for about $400 million in cash and stock.

That's according to two people Sunday who were briefed on the matter. They were not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Talks on a deal are in the late stages and could be finalized this week. Summit also has about $300 million in debt linked to its movies. That debt is expected to be paid off quickly, especially after the last movie in the series, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2," hits theaters in November.

The Hollywood blog Deadline reported the news earlier.

The deal would create a studio among the largest in Hollywood and bring together under one roof "Twilight" and another expected popular teen series "The Hunger Games," which Lions Gate is set to release in March.

Like the vampire series that has attracted young audiences in hordes worldwide, "The Hunger Games" is being propelled by a hugely popular series of novels, these ones written by Suzanne Collins.

The pairing would give Lions Gate added strength in international distribution, enlarge its library of older movies to sell to home video and TV channels and allow it to add Summit's cash immediately to its books. It can also amortize the cost of the deal over time.

For Summit's owners, the deal represents another big payout following a special dividend of around $200 million that accompanied a $750 million refinancing in March 2011.

The biggest winners will be Summit's management, including co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, which owns about 30 percent of Summit, and Summit's majority owner Suhail Rizvi's, of Rizvi Traverse Management. Friedman and Wachsberger are expected to continue to run Summit as a Lions Gate subsidiary.

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. already has a strong TV studio, which makes popular series such as "Mad Men," "Weeds," "Nurse Jackie" and is the key distribution partner of comedian Tyler Perry, including his shows "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns."

But the studio had been distracted recently by a lengthy shareholder battle with activist investor Carl Icahn, who finally agreed last year to sell most of his shares and focus his attention elsewhere.

Both studios are based in Santa Monica, Calif.


Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/tech/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120108/ap_on_hi_te/us_lions_gate_summit

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Saint Mary's beats No. 21 Gonzaga 83-62 in WCC (AP)

MORAGA, Calif. ? Saint Mary's took Gonzaga right out of its game, on both ends of the court. In the paint and on the perimeter, the Gaels made all the timely stops down the stretch.

Matthew Dellavedova hit five 3-pointers on the way to 26 points and also dished out six assists, and Saint Mary's pulled off a rare rout of the 21st-ranked Bulldogs with an 83-62 win Thursday night in a matchup of the West Coast Conference's fiercest rivals.

"I think this team is better than the one last year. Going into this game I thought, this is one of their better teams in a while," Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett said of the Zags. "We played at a high level."

Brad Waldow added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Stephen Holt had 13 points and six assists for the Gaels (16-2, 5-0) at a rocking McKeon Pavilion, where a standing-room only crowd packed the arena for a nationally televised showdown that's always the biggest draw of the season here. Students stormed the court after the final buzzer.

"It's a really big rivalry game. We're happy to get a win and keep it going in conference," Dellavedova said. "We definitely defended well inside. We worked really hard on our defense. We had confidence we could win the game."

Saint Mary's beat Gonzaga 81-62 in the WCC tournament final during the school's 2010 run to the NCAA tournament regional semifinals.

Elias Harris had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Kevin Pangos scored 12 for the Bulldogs (13-3, 3-1), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped. Gonzaga lost in early December to Illinois and Michigan State, marking another tough nonconference schedule under coach Mark Few.

Clint Steindl knocked down a 3 with 15:25 left that put Saint Mary's ahead 48-37 and the Gaels made key stops down the stretch to extend the lead. They won their sixth straight since losing to now-No. 4 Baylor 72-59 on Dec. 22.

"They outhustled us, they outcompeted us," Harris said.

Dellavedova hit big 3s with 10:05 left, at the 5:22 mark and again with 3:43 remaining to keep his team in control. He had a lay-in with 2:52 to go and jumped in the passing lanes on defense to cause havoc for the Zags.

The gutsy Australian guard ? who had a career-high 27 points in Monday's win over San Francisco ? sat down to a rousing ovation with 1:29 left. He finished 10 for 16 from the field ? 5 of 10 from long range ? and scored 15 of his points in the first half, including six during an 8-0 spurt to end the half and give the Gaels a 37-29 lead at the break.

Saint Mary's held Gonzaga's big men in check. Gaels center and leading scorer Rob Jones did his part on both ends despite getting just two points to go with 11 rebounds and eight assists.

"Rob Jones probably played the best game I've seen anybody play without scoring `til the end," Bennett said. "We didn't give them easy baskets and we were able to take away their inside game."

The 7-foot Robert Sacre, Gonzaga's third-leading scorer at 11.5 points per game, missed all four of his field goal tries in the first half and began the final 20 minutes on the bench with Sam Dower in the game instead. Sacre checked in with 15:23 to play and wound up with four points on 1-for-7 shooting and three rebounds.

"We could never get consecutive stops," Few said. "We went to a zone and got a couple of stops, but they also pressed into us on offense and we weren't getting good ball screens and we were holding onto the ball a little bit too long, a little bit too much one-on-one. They just thoroughly outplayed us."

This was a rare lopsided result in one of the nation's more underrated rivalries.

Gonzaga had won the last two meetings overall and three in a row on the Gaels' home court despite raucous sellout crowds and fans standing in the corners and lining both baselines. The Zags also captured the West Coast Conference tournament crown last season with a 75-63 victory to secure the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid.

Saint Mary's was stunned by Kent State 71-70 in the first round of last year's NIT.

Gonzaga trailed at halftime for the first time since being down one point at the break before losing 74-67 at home to Michigan State on Dec. 10.

These teams have combined to win every WCC regular-season title since 2001. The perennial favorite Zags were picked by the WCC coaches to win a 12th consecutive crown, with Saint Mary's at No. 2.

The Gaels and Zags are two of eight teams in Division I ? along with WCC newcomer BYU ? to win at least 25 games in each of the last four seasons.

Several former stars from both schools were in attendance ? ex-Saint Mary's center Omar Samhan and David Pendergraft of Gonzaga. Matt Santangelo, another former Zags great, worked the game for TV.

Gonzaga, the conference's most dominant team for more than a decade, pulled off an 89-85 overtime victory the Gaels' home court last season. That kept Saint Mary's from winning its first outright regular-season WCC championship since 1989.

The Zags also won 89-82 at McKeon in 2010.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120113/ap_on_sp_co_ga_su/bkc_t25_gonzaga_saint_mary_s

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

holacomar: [VERANO] Dos looks muy originales estrenaran Marcela Kloosterboer y Paula Morales en esta fiesta #mdpmodashow

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[VERANO] Dos looks muy originales estrenaran Marcela Kloosterboer y Paula Morales en esta fiesta #mdpmodashow holacomar

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Source: http://twitter.com/holacomar/statuses/156498654943920129

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Acer Iconia Tab Hands On: One Tasty Ice Cream Sandwich [Tablets]

OK, Acer got our attention with this one: a 1080p screen and quad-core chip behind the scenes. If this is the future of Android tablets, well, giddy up! More »

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/P9eLI4klJHU/acer-iconia-tab-hands-on-you-might-actually-start-wanting-an-android-tablet-soon

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scott Coker is fighting to keep women?s 145 class

With its champion on the shelf for at least the next 12 months, Strikeforce's 145-pound female division appears to be on life support.

Last night, Scott Coker wanted the media and everyone else to pump the brakes.

On Friday, Dana White threw gasoline on the fire by saying the division might be finished (0:39 mark) with Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos' positive steroid test. Twenty-four hours later, Coker said no determination has been made about the reeling division.

"I don't think it's time to throw [the division] out to the garbage. I still think we have some great fighters at 145 and a lot of girls that maybe haven't been around for a while ... I believe they're going to be motivated to come back because Cyborg won't be there," Coker told the media at the Strikeforce postfight press conference.

The first name that jumps to mind is former 145-pound star Gina Carano, but she's been inactive for over two years and is on the verge of exploding in the entertainment world. Her first major movie, "Haywire" debuts on Jan. 20. Coker sent mixed messages on his former female meal ticket.

"I think Gina Carano is definitely somebody who'd like to fight again, but she's got a big movie guys. I'm not sure if you seen the commercials, it's everywhere," Coker said. "And Steven Soderbergh is gonna be behind her. When that happens, great things are going to happen for her. She might get another picture deal."

Coker doesn't believe Cyborg's suspension and Carano's possible permanent exit from the fighting landscape should bring an end to the division.

"There's girls out there that we can bring in to fight 145. I'm sure we'll evaluate it and make a business decision. I don't think the determination has been made yet," Coker said. "Trust me, there's other girls out there. We have a pulse on it as well as anybody else does."

Showtime also factors into the decision to move forward with two female divisions (135 and 145).

"Showtime loves the female division. Let me tell you, the female division has had some of the highest rated fights on Showtime," Coker said there have been cases in the past where the female fights have drawn stronger ratings on a card than the male fights. "They're going to want the female division. They're going to want great fighters in the female divisions. As long as Showtime wants it, we're going to provide it."

Coker also mentioned Ronda Rousey as a possible candidate to make a run at the vacant 145-pound title if it's made available.

Rousey is challenging 135-pound champ Miesha Tate on Mar. 3. If she loses, she could head back to 145.

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/cagewriter/scott-coker-fighting-women-145-class-stay-211510480.html

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eyes On Sony's Latest Glasses-Free 3-D TV: They're Getting There! [3dTv]

"Glasses-free 3-D TV" sounds crazy because, well, that would look like real life, right? The newest Sony incarnation of the mythical television feels closer than ever—almost like Sony might actually Lasek our 3-D TV experience one day. More »

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/GLEFmCA7Azs/

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