Tuesday, April 30, 2013

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told Bloomberg that "in five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told Bloomberg that "in five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," and that tablets are "not a good business model." Which is maybe true if you sell PlayBooks and less so if you sell, say, 20 million iPads every three months.

Source: http://gizmodo.com/rim-ceo-thorsten-heins-told-bloomberg-that-in-five-yea-485777599

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Surviving hell in a Bangladesh factory collapse

Merina, a survivor of the garment factory building collapse, is comforted by family members in hospital on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Merina was trapped under rubble for three days, surviving with nothing to eat and only a few sips of water. The building collapse was the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh's $20 billion a year garment industry.(AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

Merina, a survivor of the garment factory building collapse, is comforted by family members in hospital on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Merina was trapped under rubble for three days, surviving with nothing to eat and only a few sips of water. The building collapse was the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh's $20 billion a year garment industry.(AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

Merina, a survivor of the garment factory building collapse, is comforted by her father in hospital on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Merina was trapped under rubble for three days, surviving with nothing to eat and only a few sips of water. The building collapse was the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh's $20 billion a year garment industry.(AP Photo/Gillian Wong)

Saiful Islam Nasar poses in front of the rubble of a building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh Monday April 2013. Nasar, a mechanical engineer is one of hordes of volunteers who came to Savar to help with the rescue effort. They get no funding, have no training and buy their supplies themselves. They have featured largely in efforts to save those who were crushed in the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh?s $20 billion a year garment industry.(AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

Saiful Islam Nasar poses in front of the rubble of a building collapse in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh Monday April 29, 2013. Nasar, a mechanical engineer is one of hordes of volunteers who came to Savar to help with the rescue effort. They get no funding, have no training and buy their supplies themselves. They have featured largely in efforts to save those who were crushed in the worst disaster to hit Bangladesh?s $20 billion a year garment industry. (AP Photo/Ismail Ferdous)

(AP) ? Merina was so tired. It had been three days since the garment factory where she worked had collapsed around her, three days since she'd moved more than a few inches. In that time she'd had nothing to eat and just a few sips of water. The cries for help had long since subsided. The moans of the injured had gone silent.

It was fatigue she feared the most. If sleep took her, Merina was certain she would never wake up.

"I can't fall asleep," the 21-year-old thought to herself, her face inches from a concrete slab that had once been the ceiling above her. She'd spent seven years working beneath that ceiling, sewing T-shirts and pants destined for stores from Paris to Los Angeles. She worked 14 hours a day, six days a week, with her two sisters. She made the equivalent of about $16 a week.

Now she lay on her back in the sweltering heat, worrying for her sisters and herself. And as the bodies of her former coworkers began to rot, the stench filled the darkness.


The eight-story, concrete-and-glass Rana Plaza was one of hundreds of similar buildings in the crowded, potholed streets of Savar, an industrial suburb of Bangladesh's capital and the center of the country's $20 billion garment industry. If Bangladesh remains one of the world's poorest nations, it is no longer a complete economic cripple. Instead, it turned its poverty to its advantage, heralding workers who make some of the world's lowest wages and attracting some of the world's leading brands.

But this same economic miracle has plunged Bangladesh into a vicious downward spiral of keeping costs down, as major retailers compete for customers who want ever cheaper clothes. It is the workers who often pay the price in terms of safety and labor conditions.

The trouble at Rana Plaza began Tuesday morning, when workers spotted long cracks in at least one of the building's concrete pillars. The trails of chipped plaster led to a chunk of concrete, about the size of a shoe box, that had broken away. The police were called. Inspectors came to check on the building, which housed shops on the lower floors and five crowded clothing factories on the upper ones.

At 10 a.m., the 3,200 garment workers were told to leave early for lunch. At 2 p.m., they were told to leave for the day. Few of the workers ? mostly migrants from desperately poor villages ? asked why. Some were told the building had unexplained electricity issues.

The best factory buildings are well-constructed and regularly inspected. The workers are trained what to do in case of an emergency.

Rana Plaza was not one of those buildings. The owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, was a feared neighborhood political enforcer who had branched into real estate. In 2010, he was given a permit to build a five-story building on a piece of land that had once been a swamp. He built eight stories.

Rana came quickly after the crack was found. So did the police, some reporters and officials from the country's largest garment industry association.

Rana refused to close the building. "There is nothing serious," he said. The workers were told to return the next morning, as scheduled, at 8 a.m.


Merina, a petite woman with a round, girlish face and shoulder-length hair, never saw the crack.

She comes from Biltala, a tiny village in southwest Bangladesh, where there is electricity but little else. Her father is a landless laborer who grows rice and wheat on rented farmland, and, when he can, travels the seven hours by train to Dhaka to sell cucumbers, cauliflower and other vegetables on the street. When she was 15, she moved to Dhaka. Some of her aunts were already working in garment factories, and she quickly had a job.

For millions of Bangladeshis, the garment factories of Dhaka are a dream. Every year, at least 300,000 rural residents ? and perhaps as many as 500,000 ? migrate to the Dhaka area, already one of the most crowded cities on the planet.

Poverty remains the norm across most of rural Bangladesh, where less than 60 percent of adults are literate. To them, the steady wage of a garment factory ? even with minimum wage less than $40 a month ? is enough to start saving up for a scooter, or a dowry, or a better school for the next generation.

Merina's two sisters joined her in Savar, where women make up the vast majority of the factory workers. Here, the poor learn quickly that it is not their role to question orders. And girls learn quickly that nearly all decisions are made by men.

So for a woman like Merina, who like many Bangladeshis goes by one name only, there are generations of culture telling her not to question a command to go back to work.

When some factory workers did speak up Wednesday morning, they were reminded that the end of the month ? and their paychecks ? were coming soon. The message was clear: If you don't work, you won't get paid.

"Don't speak bullshit!" a factory manager told a 26-year-old garment worker named Sharma, she said, when she worried about going inside. "There is no problem."


Around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, when the factories had been running for 40 minutes or so, the lights suddenly went off in the building. It was nothing unusual. Bangladesh's electricity network is poorly maintained and desperately overburdened. Rana Plaza, like most of the factories in the area, had its own backup generator, sometimes used dozens of times in a single day.

A jolt went through the building when the generator kicked on. Again, this was nothing unusual. Eighteen-year-old Baezid was chatting with a friend as they checked an order of short-sleeved shirts.

He'd come from the countryside with his family ? mother, father and two uncles ? just seven months earlier. Since then, he'd worked seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to midnight. His salary was about $55 a month. But he could more than double that by working so many hours, since overtime pays .37 cents an hour.

Sometime after the generator switched on ? perhaps a few moments later, perhaps a few minutes ? another, far larger, jolt shook the floor violently. The building gave a deafening groan.

The pillars fell first, and one slammed against Baezid's back. He was knocked to the floor, and found himself pinned from the waist down, unable to move.

He heard coworkers crying in the darkness. One coworker trapped nearby had a mobile phone, and the seven or eight people nearby took turns to call their families.

Baezid wept into the phone. "'Rescue me!'" he begged them.

Like a young boy, he kept thinking of his mother. He wanted to see her again.


In Bangladesh, people in need of help rarely think first of the police, or firefighters, or anyone else official.

Baezid called his family. So did many other people. The state is so dysfunctional here, so riven by corruption and bad pay and incompetence, that ordinary people know they have a better chance of finding help by reaching out to their families. Often, they simply call out for the help of whoever will come.

Until Monday, when there was no hope left for survivors and heavy equipment was brought in to move tons of concrete, many of the rescuers working inside the rubble were volunteers. They were garment workers, or relatives of the missing. Or, in the case of Saiful Islam Nasar, they were just a guy from a small town who heard people needed help.

Nasar, a lanky mechanical engineer from a town about 300 kilometers (185 miles) away, runs a small volunteer association. They get no funding and have no training. They buy their supplies themselves. For the most part, the group offers first aid to people who have been in car accidents. During the monsoon rains, they help whoever they can as the waters rise around the town.

When he saw the news, Nasar gathered 50 men, jumped on a train and reached Rana Plaza about 11 hours after the collapse.

He made his way into the rubble with a hammer and a hacksaw, by the light of his mobile phone. In six days, he says he has rescued six people, and helped carry out dozens of bodies.

That first night, he slept on the roof of the collapsed building. Then for two nights he slept in a field, and now he has a tent. But he can't sleep much anyway, because the images of all the corpses keep running through his head.

Told that he was a hero, he looked back silently.

Then he wept.


Merina was sitting at her knitting machine on the fourth floor, in the Phantom-TAC factory, when the world seemed to explode.

She jumped to her feet and tried to run for the door, but pieces of the ceiling slammed down on her. She crawled in search of a place to hide, and found one: a section of the upstairs floor had crashed onto two toppled pillars, creating a small protected area. About 10 other men and women had the same idea, including Sabina, a close friend. The two women clutched hands and wept, thinking their lives would end in a concrete tomb. "We're going to die, we're going to die," they said to each other.

The group could barely move in the tiny space. Merina's yellow salwar kameez was drenched with sweat. The air was putrid with the smell of death.

As time passed, desperately thirsty survivors began drinking their own urine. One person found a fallen drum of water used for ironing and passed around what was left in a bottle cap. Merina sipped gratefully.

She kept thinking of her sisters, who shared a single bed with her in a corrugated tin-roofed room near the factory.

Her sisters, though, had been luckier.

Merina's older sister, Sharina, ran out just in time. She turned around to watch the building she had toiled in for years fold onto itself in an instant.

"I must be no longer on this earth," she thought, her hands covering her ears from the deafening boom. After a frantic search,, she found 16-year-old Shewli, who had also escaped. But where was Merina? She borrowed a cell phone and called her father in their village. "I managed to escape, but Merina is still trapped," she told him.

Their parents booked tickets on the next train to Dhaka.

They arrived Thursday morning, joining hundreds of other relatives who had thronged to the scene. Merina's mother prayed hard, promising God a devotional offering ? a valuable gift from this rural family ? if Merina got out alive.

"If you save the life of my daughter, I will sacrifice a goat for you," she promised.


On Friday, Merina finally began to hear the sounds of rescuers cutting through the slab above her with concrete saws.

"Save us! Save us!" she and Sabina yelled together. But by the time the rescuers reached her Saturday morning, she was disoriented and barely conscious. She was put in an ambulance and people surrounded her. "Where are you taking me?" she asked them. "What happened?"

"Don't be afraid, you're going to the hospital," someone told her.

Merina was taken to the Enam Medical College Hospital, a bare-bones facility with aged, rusted beds, dirty tile floors and bare concrete walls. After everything that happened, she had emerged with just bumps on her head and a sore back from lying in the same constrained position for so long. Baezid woke up in the same hospital, relatively unhurt except for a huge bruise from the pillar, which had turned his back almost black.

At least 382 others died, and the toll is climbing. Building owner Rana has been arrested.

On Saturday, as Merina lay on her side resting, her mother stroked her hair, fed her and rubbed her back. Tears rolled down Merina's face, and she squeezed her father's hand.

That night, Merina slept fitfully, replaying the ordeal in her mind. She woke with a new conviction. "God has given me a second life," Marina said later, speaking from her hospital bed. "When I've recovered, I will return home and I will never work in a garment factory again." Baezid said the same thing: He'd never go back to the garment factories.

Many survivors, though, will return. The choices are just too few.


Baezid's two uncles also worked in Rana Plaza. The three went to the factories together last Wednesday.

The two uncles have not been seen since. They are presumed dead.


Sullivan reported from New Delhi, India.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2013-04-29-Bangladesh-Destruction%20and%20Survival/id-35f5c067c7e349afadfdd44b8104084e

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Obama shares a moment with 7-year-old cancer patient

BERLIN, April 29 (Reuters) - Barcelona will try every trick in the book to overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Bayern Munich in their Champions League semi-final return leg on Wednesday, honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer warned on Monday. Bayern crushed the Spaniards last week in a surprisingly one-sided encounter but Beckenbauer, former player, coach and president of Germany's most successful club, warned that Barcelona were not ready to surrender. "Barca will try everything to throw Bayern off balance," he told Bild newspaper. ...

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/obama-meets-7-old-cancer-patient-youtube-star-201130608.html

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Algeria president sent to Paris after mini-stroke

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) ? Algeria's state news agency says the president has been transferred to Paris for medical treatment following a mini-stroke.

The report published early Sunday said that though the brief blockage of a blood vessel known as transient ischemic attack had "no complications," according to authorities, Abdelaziz Bouteflika's doctors had recommended additional tests.

French and Algerian media say the 76-year-old president had been checked into Val de Grace hospital, where he was treated in 2005 for a bleeding ulcer.

There have long been concerns about Bouteflika's health, especially since the president rarely appears in public.

Bouteflika, president since 1999, is credited with seeing Algeria through the end of a bloody civil war against Islamists and ruling in an uneasy partnership with the powerful military.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/algeria-president-sent-paris-mini-stroke-081408904.html

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Aircraft crash in Afghanistan kills 7

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ? A civilian cargo aircraft crashed at Bagram Air Field, north of the Afghan capital, soon after takeoff on Monday, killing all seven people aboard, the U.S.-led military coalition said.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the crash, but the coalition said in a statement to The Associated Press: "Taliban's claims are false."

It said the cause of the crash was being investigated by emergency crews that rushed to the site, but there was no sign of insurgent activity in the area at the time.

Capt. Luca Carniel, a coalition spokesman, said the aircraft crashed from a low altitude right after takeoff.

The coalition did not identify the victims, the type of aircraft involved, or the company that owned it.

In another development, President Hamid Karzai accused U.S. forces of killing four civilians and wounding one in the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday after an American' convoy was attacked by insurgents.

In a statement issued by his office, Karzai "strongly condemned the killing of innocent civilians."

The U.S.-led military coalition said it was still investigating the weekend clash, which left four soldiers with minor injuries and damaged a patrol vehicle. In a statement issued on Monday, the coalition said the Taliban attacked the coalition patrol with small arms fire and roadside bombs as it moved through a local bazaar in the province where there were civilians.

"Coalition forces engaged the enemy, pushed through the hostile area, and traveled to a nearby Afghan National Army checkpoint," the coalition said in a statement. "An investigation is currently underway to assess whether there are any civilian casualties as a result of insurgent fire."


AP writers Amir Shah and Thomas Wagner in Kabul contributed.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/aircraft-crash-afghanistan-kills-7-185257046.html

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Steady rain greets Jazz Fest as 1st weekend closes

Kate Pieroudis, of London, England, dances during the performance by Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on a rainy Sunday, April 28, 2013 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Kathleen Flynn)

Kate Pieroudis, of London, England, dances during the performance by Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on a rainy Sunday, April 28, 2013 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Kathleen Flynn)

Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band perfrom at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival sponsored on a rainy Sunday, April 28, 2013 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Kathleen Flynn)

Art Neville salutes the crowd as the Nevilles Brothers play at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on a rainy Sunday, April 28, 2013 in New Orleans. (AP Photo/The Times-Picayune, Kathleen Flynn)

(AP) ? A steady, sometimes heavy rain pelted fans Sunday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but the music flowed on.

A soaked Dave Matthews and his band played through a strong downpour at the tail end of the closing weekend, much to the fans' delight as they danced along with him and cheered him through the bad weather.

Matthews ended his performance just before a flash of lightning and strong thunder echoed his goodbyes to the crowd, which stretched to the back track and beyond despite the weather, as is usual for that stage.

Umbrellas, rain boots and plastic ponchos were out in abundance early as fans stood among the puddles and water-soaked grass, awaiting clearer skies. The rain had stopped for a time in the afternoon, but came back in time to drench the evening crowd.

Paul Rother, of Venice Beach, Calif., said he and his friend, Mark Sender, of Hollywood, drove 2,300 miles to attend this year's festival, and a little rain wasn't going to make them stay inside.

"The bands go on, rain or shine. I was at Woodstock. It rained there, too," he said, laughing.

Rother, a first-timer to the festival, said he decided to attend after Sender spoke so highly of the city and the event.

"New Orleans is the best city in America," Sender said. "And since Katrina, I've wanted to contribute to the economy as much as I can."

As Steven and Jessica Kennedy pushed their 2 ?-year-old daughter, Miriam, in a stroller, the New Orleans residents said weather wouldn't deter them from getting out to hear the likes of the Nevilles, the Dave Matthews Band and B.B. King.

"She wanted to come more than we did," Jessica Kennedy said of the toddler. "We're prepared. We have a lot of rain gear."

"There are 600 bands here," added Steven Kennedy. "You can't beat the price of the ticket for that kind of talent and you get a good mix of national and local artists."

A torrential downpour blew through about 5 p.m. CDT, shortly before the day's final artists would take the stage, sending fans inside any shelter they could find, including covered tents, such as the one where jazz songstress Dianne Reeves entertained a standing-room-only crowd. Reeves canceled last year's scheduled appearance after her mother died.

Fans enthusiastically embraced her when she took the stage and sang her rendition of Lena Horne's "Stormy Weather" and Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

"It's such a pleasure and honor to be here with you tonight," Reeves told the crowd, who cheered in response. "We made it through the rain and storm clouds now sit back and relax and enjoy the music."

Calvin Cherry, of Newport News, Va., said when he saw Reeves was on this year's lineup, he knew instantly that he'd be in the house. Cherry, a professional dancer, said Reeves' voice is like "poetry in motion."

"It's so mysterious, so haunting and has such a deep and guttural quality that it's just phenomenal. There are spaces in her voice that just resonate with me and for me to use my body to interpret her music, it's just kismet," he said.

The downpour stopped the music shortly on at least one stage, as crews rushed to cover equipment at the height of the storm. But the sweet sounds of the Gipsy Kings ? a group from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France who perform in Spanish ? quickly returned when the rain slowed to a drizzle.

Just before 7 p.m., another line of severe weather dumped rain on the remaining fans, who stuck it out with Matthews until the end of his set.

Festival producer Quint Davis thanked Matthews for his effort and encouraged fans to return on Thursday when the festival resumes.

New Orleans artists Khris Royal & Dark Matter played the Gentilly Stage early Sunday as pockets of fest-faithfuls grooved and danced to his funky saxophone opening instrumental. Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band also enticed fans to the front of the nearby Fais Do-Do stage, where couples rocked a two-step to the band's steady beat.

The Nevilles, without brother Aaron, performed just before the Dave Matthews Band, which closed the fest's first weekend and largest stage.

"We almost didn't come," said Sandy Diaz, of Ocean Springs, Miss., after singing along and dancing with the Nevilles on "Meet de Boys on the Battlefront."

"It's a little disappointing that Aaron's not up there with him, but I'm excited about seeing Trombone Shorty next weekend," she said.

Trombone Shorty, whose real name is Troy Andrews, will close the largest stage May 5, the final day of the festival, which is held over two weekends annually.


Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/4e67281c3f754d0696fbfdee0f3f1469/Article_2013-04-28-Music-Jazz%20Fest/id-c14b78c9b7db4fba90e4b1a959388204

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Gunmen surround Libyan foreign ministry to push demands

PARIS, April 26 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain midfielder Thiago Motta has been banned for three games after his dismissal for violent conduct in a French Cup quarter-final at Evian Thonon Gaillard, the national federation (FFF) said on Friday. The Italy international was shown a straight red card for kicking playmaker Cedric Barbosa in PSG's penalty shootout defeat last week. Thiago Motta, who has had a series of injuries this season, has already served one game of his ban and will also miss Sunday's Ligue 1 trip to 16th-placed Evian and next weekend's home match with mid-table Valenciennes. ...

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/gunmen-surround-libyan-foreign-ministry-push-demands-100133466.html

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Militants kill five Iraqi soldiers, Sunni protesters form "army"

By Kamal Naama

RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) - Militants shot dead five Iraqi soldiers in the Sunni Muslim stronghold province of Anbar on Saturday and protesters said they were forming an "army" after four days of unrest that raised fears of a return to widespread sectarian civil conflict.

More than 170 people have been killed since Tuesday when security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in the town of Hawija, triggering clashes that spread to other Sunni areas in western and northern areas.

Sunnis have been demonstrating since December against the perceived marginalization of their sect under Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government.

A curfew was imposed on the city of Ramadi in Anbar, a western province, on Saturday after militants killed five soldiers who authorities said were returning from holiday to their units. Protesters said they had been sent to attack them.

Protests had eased recently, but the army raid earlier this week in Hawija, near the city of Kirkuk, 170 km (100 miles) north of Baghdad, reignited Sunni discontent and may have given fresh impetus to insurgents.

"In order to keep Anbar a safe place for the Sunnis, we decided to form an army called the Army of Pride and Dignity with 100 volunteers from each tribe to protect our province," said Sheikh Saeed Al-Lafi, a spokesman for the protesters.

Lafi said police and members of the Iraqi army were welcome to join their ranks.

Influential Sunni cleric Sheikh Abdul Malik Al-Saadi, who had previously taken a conciliatory stance and urged restraint, on Saturday congratulated the "honorable Iraqi mujahideen (holy warriors)" on the proclaimed creation of the regional army.

At least four members of a government-backed Sunni "Sahwa" militia were killed when gunmen opened fire at a checkpoint in Awja, outside Tikrit. Police and militants battled in Baiji, a former bastion of Sunni jihadist al Qaeda, about 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad.

In the Abu Ghraib district of Baghdad, four soldiers were killed early on Saturday in clashes with unidentified gunmen.


Relations between the central government and ethnic Kurds, who run their own administration in the north, have also been frayed by an ongoing row over land and oil rights.

Kurdish security forces deployed beyond the formal boundary of their autonomous region overnight, a move they said was to protect civilians in the oil-rich territory over which both the Kurds and Baghdad claim jurisdiction.

At the heart of that disputed area is the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.

"After the incident in Hawija created an unstable situation in the area, especially around Kirkuk city and ... all disputed areas ... military units mobilized from their bases," spokesman Jabbar Yawar said on his Facebook page.

The Iraqi army and Kurdish troops, known as peshmerga, are facing off along their contested internal boundary following a military build-up late last year.

Yawar said the deployment was based on information that "terrorists" were planning to take advantage of the volatile situation to carry out attacks in the area, but said the peshmerga had no plans to enter Kirkuk or any other cities.

"There are no political intentions behind this plan. The sole objective is to protect the lives and possessions of civilians," Yawar said.

(Additional reporting by Raheem Salman and Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, Ghazwan Hassan in Tikrit, and Isabel Coles in Arbil; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/militants-kill-five-iraq-soldiers-sunni-protesters-form-160738767.html

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Iranian scientist returns after release from US

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) ? An Iranian scientist held by the U.S. since late 2011 has returned to Iran.

The scientist, Mojtaba Atarodi said U.S. authorities had treated him "generally well."

The microchip expert at Tehran's high profile Sharif University, Atarodi was in U.S. custody since December 2011 over allegations he bought high-tech equipment in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Atarodi arrived home via Oman, a Gulf state which has served as a mediator between Washington and Tehran before.

In 2012, the U.S. released Iranian national Shahrzad Mir Gholikhan after she spent five years in U.S. detention

The U.S. has a history of occasional arrest and release of Iranian citizens on similar charges.

In 2010 and 2011, three Americans convicted of espionage by Iran returned home through Oman.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/iranian-scientist-returns-release-us-093203869.html

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Old standards greet fans on Jazz Fest's 2nd day

(AP) ? At 101 years old, New Orleans jazz trumpeter Lionel Ferbos opened one of 12 stages on the second day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Billy Joel brought the crowds and ended Day 2.

Couples danced and some sang along to old jazz standards such as "Back Home In Indiana" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" on Saturday.

Ferbos is believed to be the oldest actively working musician in the city. He performs regularly at the Palm Court Jazz Club in the French Quarter.

"He epitomizes New Orleans," said New Orleans resident Medora Monigold, a Jazz Fest veteran and fan of Ferbos. "In a day where the elders are not respected, he reminds us that wisdom and talent can exist at any age."

Monigold enjoyed a plate of seafood casserole and fried green tomatoes as she tapped her foot to the music.

Maryruth Senechal, of Hartford, Conn., said Ferbos was excellent. She said she catches his shows often at the Palm Court but prefers his performances at Jazz Fest.

"Here, I can dance and second-line. I love the old traditional brass band jazz," she said.

Senechal and her husband, Jean-Guy, have attended Jazz Fest 14 times and spend most of the festival at the jazz tent, where other acts for the day included trumpeter and singer Wendell Brunious and singer-pianist Tim Laughlin.

Brunious brought couples to their feet as he sang "I Will Never Be the Same" and "Big Chief," an upbeat number commonly performed at Mardi Gras that had many in the crowd dancing and hoisting umbrellas in the tradition known as second line. He closed his set with the New Orleans favorite "When the Saints Go Marching In."

On one of the bigger stages, the brass band Bonerama jammed before a crowd of thousands under sunny skies and a gentle breeze that broke through the warm temperatures.

"The sky is smiling upon us," said Quint Davis, the festival's producer. "We do it rain or shine, but we reach the spirit and zenith when in the sunshine."

Davis said Friday's opening day saw bigger crowds than last year.

That trend seemed to continue Saturday as thousands packed the grass spaces in front of the festival's largest stage to hear the day's final performer, Joel, who opened his set with "Movin' Out." He told the crowd that New York hurt with New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. "After Hurricane Sandy, we're taking inspiration from you guys," he said as the crowd cheered in response.

He also did his classics, "Only the Good Die Young" and "Piano Man."

On a nearby stage, neo-soul singer Jill Scott dazzled fans, singing several of her hits including "It's Love," ''The Way," ''So In Love," and "Quick."

New Orleans native Darnie Williams described herself as Scott's No. 1 fan.

"She's just awesome," she said of Scott in between dancing and singing along with her. "She's just a true soul sister. She's real and her music is so soulful, much like Aretha and Gladys Knight."

Jazz Fest continues through Sunday and then resumes May 2-5. Festival-goers will be treated to traditional jazz, rock 'n roll, Cajun, gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk and zydeco.

Second-weekend headliners include Hall and Oates, Fleetwood Mac, Little Big Town, Aaron Neville and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.


Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/4e67281c3f754d0696fbfdee0f3f1469/Article_2013-04-27-Music-Jazz%20Fest/id-953b6e61009a4364b2574b345b34516b

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Obama: Flight delay fix a 'Band-Aid'

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama says the congressional fix for widespread flight delays is an irresponsible way to govern, but he's prepared to sign the legislation that lawmakers fast-tracked.

He says the bipartisan bill to end furloughs of air traffic controllers is a "Band-Aid" solution rather than a lasting answer to this year's $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester.

The cuts have affected all federal agencies, and flight delays last week left thousands of travelers frustrated and furious and Congress feeling pressured to respond.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Saturday that it had suspended all employee furloughs and that air traffic facilities would begin returning to regular staffing levels over the next 24 hours.

The FAA's statement said the air traffic system would resume normal operations by Sunday evening.

"Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they've decided it was a bad idea all along," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, aired Saturday.

He singled out the GOP even though the bill passed with overwhelming Democratic support in both the House and Senate.

The president scolded lawmakers for helping the Federal Aviation Administration while doing nothing to replace other cuts that he said harm federal employees, unemployed workers and preschoolers in Head Start.

"Maybe because they fly home each weekend, the members of Congress who insisted these cuts take hold finally realized that they actually apply to them, too," Obama said.

Rushed through Congress with remarkable speed, the bill marked a shift for Democrats who had hoped the impact of the cuts would increase pressure on Republicans to reverse the broad cuts.

Republicans have rejected Obama's proposal to replace the spending reductions with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

"There are some in the Obama administration who thought inflicting pain on the public would give the president more leverage to avoid making necessary spending cuts, and to impose more tax hikes on the American people," said Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania in the Republican address.

Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the FAA could have averted the flight delays on its own by cutting costs elsewhere and rejiggering work schedules, but chose not to do so.

The bill signed by Obama would let the FAA use up to $253 million from an airport improvement program and other accounts to halt the furloughs through the Sept. 30 end of the government's fiscal year.

Faced with the prospect that emboldened Republicans will push to selectively undo other painful effects of the cuts, the White House said Friday that a piecemeal approach would be impractical, but wouldn't definitely rule out signing other fixes.



Obama address: www.whitehouse.gov

GOP address: www.youtube.com/HouseConference


Follow Josh Lederman at https://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-flight-delay-fix-band-aid-100306095.html

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Atlanta weekend food events: drink with the butterflies, dine out for a ...

Source: http://clatl.com/omnivore/archives/2013/04/26/atlanta-weekend-food-events-drink-with-the-butterflies-dine-out-for-a-cause-and-more

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Building Blocks To Rock Solid Self Confidence And Self ...

Beginning your quest to develop yourself can sometimes be difficult. There are also many facets to this. Personal development ranges from eating better or becoming more physically fit, to improving your self-esteem or being more polite. Personal development can be achieved in many different ways. Personal development will help you mature, and others will notice the positive changes.

Getting healthy is a major factor of self improvement. A healthy lifestyle includes a healthy diet, exercise and motivation. When your health is an important aspect of your lifestyle, it will lead to general overall well being and will help you feel good about yourself in every area of your life.

Go to the movies with a friend. Movies are wonderful ways to socialize without feeling like you have to carry on a conversation. It can also be an effective way for you to become more comfortable with being near a large group of people.

If you take care of your health you will be able to get the most out of your personal development. Not getting enough sleep, getting a lot of exercise, and eating well can help you stay on top of your game, and help you win at personal development. This sounds like obvious advice, but it?s sometimes hard to put into practice.

TIP! Becoming more selfless is a huge step towards your personal development. If you direct your energy outward to make others? lives better, while temporarily putting your own needs second, you can greatly improve your character.

Learn to not worry! Worrying is simply focusing on something that hasn?t happened and letting your fears take over. Put your worries aside by imagining the very worst thing that could happen and developing a plan on how to deal with that situation, should it occur. This provides you with the relief of having a game plan, so you can can feel less anxious and focus on other important matters in your life.

Knowing what you want out of life and how to get there are great tools for self improvement. One of the things that will make the biggest difference in your outlook is having long-term goals.

When you start your self improvement journey, always remember to focus on the fact that you are worthy of nothing less than the very best in life. Know that you owe it to yourself to do your best. If you make every effort to improve, then you have nothing to regret.

Create goals which are reasonable and can be accomplished. Discover a lifestyle that you truly love. If you find your weaknesses and work on them, you can also become a better person.

TIP! Make your goals specific; this way, they can lead to personal development success. The more specific your goals, the easier it will be to chart a course from where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

Make concrete plans for your life and take actions to accomplish those goals. Not taking action to change your life just means you?ll be stuck with your current one forever. It is time to take action toward realizing your dreams.

Find your personal values so you can create your self improvement strategy. It doesn?t make any sense to focus on things that your value set does not include. Spend your time on things that are in line with your values. This allows you to implement personal and professional changes that will last forever.

Don?t allow buying sprees to become an emotional release. Shopping to make yourself feel better will only result in high bills, more stress and excess possessions that clutter your home and your life.

You can?t tend to others needs until your own needs are met. Whether you?re just starting your personal development plan or are well down the road and regardless of whether you?re succeeding or failing, you have to set aside time for yourself to rest, relax, and regroup.

TIP! Maximize work time. The simple trick is to take more breaks when you work.

When you are trying to reach your goal, don?t push your physical limitations. Doing your best is essential, but you also need to know what your best is and not go past it. Taking care to prevent harming your body is more important than reaching your goal. Sacrificing your body to reach your goal is in fact contrary to the idea of improving yourself.

Rather than bragging to others about all of your accomplishments, instead ask people about theirs. You will then find out things that others have done to accomplish their goals, and you will get some insight.

Self discipline will benefit your self improvement journey. Teach yourself how to overrule your body?s desire for things that can harm you. You should strive to overcome things such as lust, greed, overeating and drunkenness. By implementing self control and restraint you will be able to prevent harmful vices from having a negative effect on your mind and body.

Your library and bookstore probably have an entire section devoted to self-help. Personal development books that are well written, insightful and instructive can provide you with the information you need to significantly enhance your outlook and your life. When selecting a book, look for positive reviews so that you can have a better idea of the purchase you are about to make.

TIP! A good character trait is being humble. We are but a cog in our universe.

Find out more abut sexual capitol and how you can develop it. Sexual capitol does not mean employing your sexuality as a tool in procuring what you want out of life. This means to use charisma instead. Since some people do not have good skills socially, it will help them get farther in certain life aspects.

If you experience trouble meeting the self improvement goals you set for yourself, do not be afraid to stop and make a frank assessment of the problem. It can help to get input from others with similar goals or to do online research and compare your goals to others who have succeeded. You might be trying to do too much at once, have the steps in the wrong order, or only taking half-measures when allocating resources.

Therapy is the answer for many with serious problems. Books are great for solving everyday problems, but they can?t adapt to the complex needs of those who have more serious issues. Sometimes, talk therapy can help you discover a breakthrough. There is no way to have an open discussion with a book, though you can with a therapist.

TIP! In order to succeed and become a champion, it?s imperative to have a great coach. Someone to help guide you is always helpful.

With any luck, this article should have helped you better your plans for personal development. You will never stop finding ways to grow as a person. By improving things within and about ourselves, we can be a better contributor to the people and world around us.

Read the following article, you might find it very interesting!
5 Reasons To Not Work To Get Your Ex Back

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Source: http://mysparetime.net/the-building-blocks-to-rock-solid-self-confidence-and-self-improvement-2/

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Oppo's 4.7-inch, 6.93mm-thick R809T pays homage to the Finder

Oppo R809T

No, this isn't the world's thinnest phone thanks to Alcatel and BBK, but Oppo's recently announced R809T is still a seemingly attractive device judging by the above official image. Measuring at 6.93mm thick (instead of the rumored 6.13mm), we're surprised that Oppo didn't set this to be the follow-up to the Finder: sure, it's 0.28mm thicker, but it also aces the latter with a 4.7-inch 720p in-cell display, a 1.2GHz quad-core chip with 1GB RAM (likely MediaTek's Cortex-A7-based MT6589 SoC), Android 4.2 and a sorely missed 3.5mm headphone jack -- so no micro-USB adapter required. Then there's also an 8-megapixel main camera plus an increasingly common 2-megapixel, 88-degree wide front-facing imager, which is obviously no match for the 5-megapixel counterpart on Oppo's Ulike 2.

Pricing and availability have yet to be announced, but given the "T" in the model name, chances are it'll only work on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network, anyway; unless you really don't mind using just GSM. Close-up shot after the break.

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Via: Engadget Chinese

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Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/26/oppo-r809t-china/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget

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Boston suspect is moved; FBI searches landfill

FILE - This April 25, 2013 file photo shows the mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, left, speaking at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan. Two government officials tell The Associated Press that U.S. intelligence agencies added the Boston bombing suspects' mother to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack. At right is her sister-in-law Maryam. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev, File)

FILE - This April 25, 2013 file photo shows the mother of the two Boston bombing suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, left, speaking at a news conference in Makhachkala, the southern Russian province of Dagestan. Two government officials tell The Associated Press that U.S. intelligence agencies added the Boston bombing suspects' mother to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the attack. At right is her sister-in-law Maryam. (AP Photo/Musa Sadulayev, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2011 file photo, two guards are stationed outside the Devens Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Devens, Mass. The U.S. Marshals Service said Friday, April 26, 2013, that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged in the Boston Marathon bombing April 15, 2013, had been moved from a Boston hospital to the federal medical center at Devens, about 40 miles west of the city. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

FILE - This combination of undated file photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers are the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, and are also responsible for killing an MIT police officer, critically injuring a transit officer in a firefight and throwing explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar captured, late Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. Since Monday, Boston has experienced five days of fear, beginning with the marathon bombing attack, an intense manhunt and much uncertainty ending in the death of one suspect and the capture of the other. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young, File)

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, left, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg hold a news conference, Thursday, April, 25, 2013 in New York. The two say the Boston Marathon bombing suspects intended to blow up their remaining explosives in Times Square. They said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told Boston investigators from his hospital bed that he and his brother had discussed going to New York to detonate their remaining explosives. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

This Friday, April 26, 2013 photo shows the entrance of the Devens Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Devens, Mass. The U.S. Marshals Service said Friday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, had been moved from a Boston hospital to the federal medical center at Devens, about 40 miles west of the city. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON (AP) ? Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev was moved from a hospital to a federal prison medical center, while FBI agents searched for evidence Friday in a landfill near the college he was attending.

Tsarnaev, 19, was taken from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he was recovering from a gunshot wound to the throat and other injuries suffered during a getaway attempt, and transferred to the Federal Medical Center Devens, about 40 miles from Boston, the U.S. Marshals Service said. The facility at a former Army base treats federal prisoners.

Also, FBI agents picked through a landfill near the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Tsarnaev was a sophomore. FBI spokesman Jim Martin would not say what investigators were looking for.

An aerial photo in Friday's Boston Globe showed a line of more than 20 investigators, all dressed in white overalls and yellow boots, picking over the garbage with shovels or rakes.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, said that the bombing suspects' mother had been added to a federal terrorism database about 18 months before the deadly attack ? a disclosure that deepens the mystery around the Tsarnaev family and marks the first time American authorities have acknowledged that Zubeidat Tsarnaeva was under investigation before the tragedy.

The news is certain to fuel questions about whether the Obama administration missed opportunities to thwart the April 15 bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

Tsarnaev is charged with joining with his older brother, now dead, in setting off the shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Investigators have said it appears that the brothers were angry about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said the CIA had Zubeidat Tsarnaeva's name added to the terror database along with that of her son Tamerlan Tsarnaev after Russia contacted the agency in 2011 with concerns that the two were religious militants.

About six months earlier, the FBI investigated mother and son, also at Russia's request, one of the officials said. The FBI found no ties to terrorism. Previously U.S. officials had said only that the FBI investigated Tamerlan.

In an interview from Russia, Tsarnaeva said Friday that she has never been linked to terrorism.

"It's all lies and hypocrisy," she told The Associated Press from Dagestan. "I'm sick and tired of all this nonsense that they make up about me and my children. People know me as a regular person, and I've never been mixed up in any criminal intentions, especially any linked to terrorism."

Tsarnaeva faces shoplifting charges in the U.S. over the alleged theft of more than $1,624 worth of women's clothing from a Lord & Taylor department store in Natick, Mass., in 2012.

Earlier this week, she said she has been assured by lawyers that she would not be arrested if she traveled to the U.S., but she said she was still deciding whether to go. The suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, said that he would leave Russia soon for the United States to visit one son and lay the other to rest.

A team of investigators from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has questioned both parents in Russia this week, spending many hours with the mother in particular over two days.

Meanwhile, New York's police commissioner said the FBI was too slow to inform the city that the Boston Marathon suspects had been planning to bomb Times Square days after the attack at the race.

Federal investigators learned about the short-lived scheme from a hospitalized Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during a bedside interrogation that began Sunday night and extended into Monday morning, officials said. The information didn't reach the New York Police Department until Wednesday night.

"We did express our concerns over the lag," Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the findings on Thursday.

The FBI had no comment Friday.


Eileen Sullivan reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Colleen Long in New York and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this story.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2013-04-26-Boston%20Marathon-Explosions/id-5c91c6d0909f4d8683ce19f55c0f90e5

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Donovan agrees with Klinsmann

One thing Landon Donovan has always been is humble.

The U.S. winger proved that again on Thursday when he agreed with comments made by?Jurgen Klinsmann concerning the player?s need to prove himself over an extended period of time before reclaiming his spot on the national team roster.

?I agree with him,? Donovan said following training with the Galaxy. ?Just because you score a goal and have a good game doesn?t mean you?re a national team player. And I?ve said from the beginning that I have to earn my way back, and playing one good game doesn?t earn your way back. I still have a long way to go.?

Donovan?s potential recall to the national side has been a hot topic of conversation since returning from his sabbatical to Cambodia. Players, coaches and fans alike wonder whether the 31 year old would be able to contribute to his nation?s push for a World Cup Qualifying spot, and if so, how long it might take for that contribution to come to fruition.

MORE: Landon Donovan goal, assist lead LA Galaxy past Sporting KC

In his fifth appearance since returning from a nearly four-month leave,?Donovan provided a masterful performance in last weekend?s victory over Sporting Kansas City. His speed, ability to hold up play, and mesmerizing ball cuts resulted in a brilliant assist while his ability to anticipate and execute earned him a goal.?Klinsmann was on hand to witness the genius but later explained how the feat was not nearly enough to earn the player a call up.

The coach told media Wednesday that certain players have moved ahead of Donovan in the selection line for June?s World Cup qualifiers and that his coaching staff plans to ?observe him like we will observe all the other players over the stretch of a period of time? before naming him to the roster.

Fortunately, Donovan is under no delusions of?grandeur.??I have to continue to build on what I did last weekend, and then at that point there?s still no guarantee, either,? said the winger. ?Like Jurgen said, I?m well behind the group in a lot of ways, and I?m aware of that. All I want is a chance to prove that I belong, and I?m going to have to work hard to get that chance.?

MORE: Let?s not read too much into Jurgen Klinsmann?s comments on Landon Donovan

Between now and the June 7th World Cup qualifier against Jamaica, Donovan will have nine more opportunities to prove himself to Klinsmann and the US coaching staff ? seven matches with the Galaxy and, assuming he is selected, two exhibitions for the US (against?Belgium on May 29 and Germany on June 2).?It?s a stretch of matches that provides more than enough time for Donovan to leave his mark and for Klinsmann to get over his feeling of?betrayal.

And get over it he will.

Not only is Donovan of the right mindset heading into the next six weeks but at least part of Klinsmann?s comments should be chalked as posturing. Don?t get me wrong, I believe Klinsmann when he says that Landon will be observed like any other player. Yet I also believe that as a head coach who endlessly strives for the respect of his players and the US Soccer community at large, Klinsmann has to make?these statements.

But come June, Landon Donovan will be on that World Cup Qualifying roster.

Source: http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/2013/04/26/landon-donovan-agrees-with-jurgen-klinsmann-i-still-have-a-long-way-to-go/related/

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Mailbox Is Working On An iPad App, With Desktop And Android Clients ?On The Roadmap?

mailboxGiven the fairly nutballs hype surrounding the launch of Mailbox for iPhone (and its crazy queues), you could probably assume that they'd bring the app to other devices and platforms ? and you'd be right if you did. The company recently started letting users know of their upcoming projects: an iPad app is in the works, with Android and desktop clients "on the agenda".

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/5ra5rCNmDMQ/

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New Android apps worth downloading: SlipperFits, Tango update, Big Win MLB

Get an idea if your Facebook crush also has a crush on you with SlipperFits. It lets you secretly poll Facebook friends for their feelings, without giving yourself away. We've also got an update to voice-over-Internet app Tango, which allows you to make free voice and video calls, as well as send text messages.. Finally, there's Big Win MLB, a card battle baseball title that puts you in charge of managing your own dream baseball team.

Also on Android Apps

Instead of celebrating Earth Day once a year, adopt an eco-friendly consciousness. Zinio ?s digital newsstand saves 104 thousand trees per month, and here?s how you can get involved.

What?s it about? Use Facebook to find out if friends you have feeling for share the sentiment with SlipperFits.

What?s cool? SlipperFits is something of a dating app, in that helps you find out if the people you have a crush on (and also happen to be Facebook friends with) feel the same about you. The app lets you page through Facebook friends and tag any for whom you have feelings that might go beyond friendship ? then, it has you send a recommendation out to 50 friends (with your crush included) that lets them download SlipperFits, too. If the person in question downloads the app and marks you as a crush, the app notifies both of you; if the feelings aren't mutual, nobody is made any the wiser.

Who?s it for? If you're hoping to find out if a Facebook friend might be more than a friend, try SlipperFits.

What?s it like? Try Swoon for more crush-finding, and the standard Facebook app for its social networking prowess.

Tango update (Free)

What?s it about? Tango is a voice-over-Internet app that lets you make voice calls and video calls, or send text messages, all for free over your device's Internet connection.

What?s cool? It's the breadth of communication possibilities available in Tango that makes it so handy. The app allows you to get in touch with other users through a variety of means ? you can set up text chat sessions, voice calls, video calls, and even play games with the person to whom you're talking ? while you're taking. The app's latest update adds group chat functionality, which means you can send photos and other items to the whole group while chatting, and it also squashes a few bugs to make the app work better in general.

Who?s it for? If you'd like a communication alternative that doesn't use your call minutes or plan's text messages (but will use your cellular data allowance if you're not connected to Wi-Fi), check out Tango.

What?s it like? Contact the people you're connected with the social network app?Facebook Messenger, and make more calls and send more texts with Skype.

What?s it about? Create and manage a fantasy baseball team and play cards to help them make their way to victory against other teams.

What?s cool? Big Win MLB is all about creating the best team you can and managing it well. It's not unlike a card battle game ? you open a pack of cards at the start and can buy or earn more packs over time, and each of those packs includes players and ?big impact? cards that alter how the game goes. You create your team based on what's in you deck and play against other players or the computer and its decks. At the start of each game, you choose which one-time big impact cards to use, which can alter the abilities of your players and make them better on the field. Games are played automatically while you watch, allowing you to see where your team is weak and make adjustments. You can play against friends' teams in Big Win MLB, or take part in events and battle with the app's decks by yourself.

Who?s it for? Baseball fans who also get into card-battle titles should check out Big Win MLB.

What?s it like? Check out Home Run Battle 2 and 9 Innings for more great baseball games.

Best Educational Apps, Handpicked By Experts

Appolicious is pleased to introduce appoLearning.com, where parents, teachers and students find great education apps. Check out our introduction video here!

Source: http://www.androidapps.com/tech/articles/13429-new-android-apps-worth-downloading-slipperfits-tango-update-big-win-mlb

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Firefly protein lights up degenerating muscles, aiding muscular-dystrophy research

Apr. 24, 2013 ? Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have created a mouse model of muscular dystrophy in which degenerating muscle tissue gives off visible light.

The observed luminescence occurs only in damaged muscle tissue and in direct proportion to cumulative damage sustained in that tissue, permitting precise monitoring of the disease's progress in the mice, the researchers say.

While this technique cannot be used in humans, it paves the way to quicker, cheaper and more accurate assessment of the efficacy of therapeutic drugs. The new mouse strain is already being employed to test stem cell and gene therapy approaches for muscular dystrophies, as well as drug candidates now in clinical trials, said Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences and director of Stanford's Glenn Laboratories for the Biology of Aging.

Rando is the senior author of a study, published online April 24 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, describing his lab's creation of the experimental mouse strain in which an inserted gene coding for luciferase, the protein that causes fireflies' tails to glow, is activated only in an important class of rare stem cells that, collectively, serve as a reserve army of potential new muscle tissue. Under normal circumstances, these muscle stem cells, or "satellite cells," sit quietly adjacent to muscle fibers. But muscular injury or degeneration prompts satellite cells to start dividing and then to integrate themselves into damaged fibers, repairing the muscle tissue.

Muscular dystrophy is a genetically transmitted, progressive condition whose hallmark is the degeneration of muscle tissue. There are many different forms, whose severity, time of onset and preference for one set of muscles versus another depends on which gene is defective. But as a general rule, the disease begins to develop well before symptoms show up.

As the muscle fibers of someone with muscular dystrophy die off, nearby satellite cells -- which are normally dormant in the tissue -- begin replicating in an attempt to replace the lost muscle tissue. "But in the end, satellite cells' attempt to restore tissue is overwhelmed," said Rando, who is the founding director of Stanford's Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic.

No truly effective treatments for muscular dystrophy exist. "Drug therapies now available for muscular dystrophy can reduce symptoms a bit, but do nothing to prevent or slow disease progression," said Rando. Testing a drug's ability to slow or arrest muscular dystrophy in one of the existing mouse models means sacrificing a few of them every couple of weeks and conducting labor-intensive, time-consuming microscopic and biochemical examinations of muscle-tissue samples taken from them, he said.

So Rando decided to design a better mouse. Dozens of mouse models of different varieties of muscular dystrophy, designed to best reflect different forms of the disease, already exist. Rando's team chose to start with a strain whose human analog is called limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. This steadily progressive form of the disease, whose clinical manifestations typically are most pronounced in limb muscles close to the torso (the thigh versus calf, or upper arm versus forearm), begins during the second or third decade of life, after the muscle-building burst of childhood is largely complete.

From that "starter" mouse strain, Rando's team developed another strain of mice that were prone to the same disease process but whose muscle cells contained the luciferase gene. When these mice are 2 months old, Rando and his associates use a sophisticated laboratory technique to activate the luciferase gene in the mice's satellite cells.

Once a luciferase gene is activated in a satellite cell, it stays "on" permanently in that cell and in all of its progeny, including mature muscle cells, causing them to glow whenever the mice are given a compound that gives off light in the presence of luciferase. So, as the muscular dystrophy progressed in the new mouse strain, the damage it inflicted on muscle fibers and the ensuing recruitment of neighboring satellite cells resulted in the affected muscle tissue's being increasingly luminescent. This luminescence, which could be observed through the mice's skin, was strong enough to be monitored and attributed to a precise anatomical location by a highly sensitive camera.

Invasive microscopic and biochemical methods are first able to detect disease symptoms in mice with the limb-girdle-analog strain when they are about 6 months old. In contrast, using this new method, the Stanford team could literally "see" the first signs of the disease's manifestation as early as 3 months.

Rando and his colleagues confirmed the validity of their luminescence assay with parallel examinations of the mice by standard microscopy and biochemical analysis. They also confirmed, in potentially luminescent but otherwise normal mice not suffering from progressive muscle deterioration, that healthy muscle tissue is ordinarily quiescent. In these mice, the Stanford scientists observed negligible luminescent output reflecting the less than 1 percent of all cells in muscle tissue that are satellite cells.

"In these luminescent mice, we could pick up the disease's pathological changes well before they could be seen otherwise," said Rando. "The readout was so sensitive we could observe those changes within a two-week period. Not only that, but we got our measurements instantaneously, without killing the mice."

The new assay's speed, accuracy and relative noninvasiveness will advance the pace of preclinical work, Rando said. "A lot of head-to-head comparisons of muscular-dystrophy therapies, including drugs already in clinical trials as well as stem cell therapies and gene therapies on the near horizon, can now be made that couldn't have been tried before, because they would have been too expensive and time-consuming to make them worth the effort."

The study was funded by the Jain Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (grant DP1OD000392). The first author was research associate Katie Maguire, PhD. Additional co-authors were Leland Lim, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences; and undergraduate student Sedona Speedy.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. The original article was written by Bruce Goldman.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. Katie K. Maguire, Leland Lim, Sedona Speedy, Thomas A. Rando. Assessment of disease activity in muscular dystrophies by noninvasive imaging. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2013; DOI: 10.1172/JCI68458

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