Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Former MVP Branch in the background of Patriots offense (Reuters)

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) ? He is a double Super Bowl winner and seven years ago was named the Most Valuable Player in the National Football League's ultimate game but Deion Branch rarely gets a mention from pundits surveying the New England Patriots' offense.

Quarterback Tom Brady has such an abundance of quality options in wide receiver Wes Welker and tight-ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernendez, that the contribution of Branch is often overlooked.

Not that the 32-year-old, now in his second spell with the Patriots, is bothered by the absence of plaudits.

"No, that's cool. I just do my job. I can't worry about who is controlling and who's saying A, B, C, D. I just do my job. I'm not here to be the one that says, 'Hey I need all the attention.' That's not me," he told reporters as he prepared for Sunday's clash with the New York Giants.

The attention has primarily been focused on the Patriots' heavy use of their tight-ends with Brady looking increasingly to inside routes rather than out wide.

It is a very different approach to the one Brady took with Branch seven years ago, against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches for 133 yards and became the first wide-receiver since 1989 to win the MVP award.

When the Patriots lined up against the Giants at the end of the 2007 season, Randy Moss was the main target for Brady and Branch had moved on, to the Seattle Seahawks, after contract extension talks faltered and he was traded.

When Ross was released in October 2010, the Patriots had no hesitation in turning back to Branch, bringing him back from Seattle after more than four years away.


Given the stability in the Patriots coaching personnel it was not hard for Branch to re-adjust to being back under the control of head coach Bill Belichick.

"I think it was pretty smooth. There was a lot of different terminology. Some of the terminology was a little different, but there were bits and pieces that I remembered from the past that once I started hearing it, I knew exactly what it was.

"I would say the transition wasn't as hard when you're used to playing with a certain guy, playing with Tom," he said.

"I was excited, very honored, and blessed to have the opportunity to come back to the same team that drafted me. Guys don't get the opportunity to go through that phase. I was just very thankful."

Branch's numbers do not stand out - 702 yards on 51 receptions this season - but they have to be seen as part of a multi-pronged offense.

Welker, with 1,569 yards from 122 receptions, is ranked the number one wide-receiver in the league while Gronkowski (1,327 yards, 90 receptions) and Hernandez (910 yards, 79 receptions) are among the top five most productive tight ends in the league.

"I can't speak for anyone else's recognition, but from my standpoint and the team's standpoint, I think everyone knows how important Deion is to our to our football team, to our offense and our passing game," said Belichick.

"He does a lot of things. He handles a lot of different responsibilities as far as where he lines up, his position and his assignments," he added, highlighting Branch's blocking abilities as well as his great understanding with Brady.

Branch also has a role before Sunday's game in transmitting his experience from previous Super Bowls to his team mates playing in their first.

"I think overall the only thing I will say that I'm really treating (differently) is I truly enjoy sharing the knowledge with the younger guys in our group and talking to the guys about the experience in the past," he said.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120131/sp_nm/us_nfl_superbowl_patriots_branch

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Disability Insurance for Individuals

Disability means suspension from work due to medically unfit reasons. It could be due to illness, disease or even accidental mishaps. However, the definition of disability is subjectable to the policy of the plan that covers it. Different plans may have different opinions when it comes to defining disability insurance for individuals. However, you may refer to their actual meaning from the policy by referring to terms and conditions. Some plans skip accidental benefits, while others hardly provide disability insurance for individuals from severe diseases. Hence, it is ideal to make your choices after referring their norms. You may seek following features in a disability insurance policy.

Accident Disability Insurance:


There is hardly a need to stress on how important it is to protect yourself from the disability gained from accidents, as they are hard to predict and occur without notifying you in advance. Accidents are common events that keep happening without warnings. The only difference being some accidents may be too small to notice, while others may affect one?s life seriously. Further, it is difficult to avoid them, especially when you work in accidental prone areas. Small accidents may not demand a considerable cover for you, as they never cost you your salaries. However, serious mishaps may take toll on your health to make you disable from work for weeks or months/years. This would mean that you have to survive without your regular salaries.


Most standard middle class men and women, depend on their salaries for their survival. However, in case of accidental mishaps, things may become difficult as then you would not be able to attend your job and get salary. This may seriously affect your finances and if you were already engaged into paying monthly premiums, then it would become difficult for you to continue paying them during the time of disability. Thus, it becomes absolutely important for you to invest in accident disability insurance.


To protect yourself from accidental mishaps, you can opt for accident disability insurance, which protects you from the mishaps by securing your finances. Further, you also need to refer to different plans before you make a decision on which plan you require to buy, as blindly choosing a plan may bring trouble especially when it fails to stand to your expectations. Thus, it is ideal to make yourself familiarize with the plans and its benefits before you actually take it up. Here, you may appoint an insurance advisor for finding out whether the policies meet up to your expectations or not.


Disability Health Insurance:


A health insurance for disability encompasses disability benefits under medical conditions. Everyone is liable to fall sick, as there are numerous reasons that can get you sick. It could be seasonal, or it could be viral. Besides, it depends on what social life you are exposed as well. Your chances of contracting a disease increase if you have an ailing person in your family or friend circle. Further, it depends on what lifestyle you follow. It may also depend on your food habits and frequency of you taking regular meals as well. Most above, it depends on the stress level of your job. In case your job demands you to perform under stress, then it may eventually take toll on your health.


Further, sickness could be physical or mental as well. Besides, not all plans cover mental as well as physical disability and hence, it becomes important to have your outlook clear before you end up investing in any plan. You may hire an insurance adviser specialized in disability health insurance to get proper advice on the subject. In case you are new to insurance, then he/she may prove as an immense support on giving you insight into possible dos and don?ts.


Most importantly, you need to understand the loopholes in disability health insurance plans. Later, you may select the ones that have least loopholes. However, often policies with least loopholes or having broader definition for dishabilles cost you higher than those with more number of loopholes. Thus, it also important of gauge the scope of disability plans before you opt for them.

Bottom Line:


Disability insurance for individuals becomes necessary, as it protects you from mishaps by lending a valuable financial assistance in the time when you need it the most. Thus, it is ideal to invest in disability insurance plans, as they allow you surviving through most financially difficult periods.

Source: http://individualshorttermdisabilityinsurance.org/disability-insurance-for-individuals/

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Monday, 30 January 2012

Climate of intolerance in West Bank, activists say

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2012, file photo, Palestinian Hamas supporters hold banners of prisoners arrested by the Palestinian Authority, during a protest calling for their release in the West Bank city of Nablus. Human rights activists say harassment and arbitrary arrests of dissenters remain commonplace in a persistent climate of intolerance. They say they've seen improvements, including a marked decrease in the mistreatment of detainees, but that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces, who are partially funded by the West, need to do better. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2012, file photo, Palestinian Hamas supporters hold banners of prisoners arrested by the Palestinian Authority, during a protest calling for their release in the West Bank city of Nablus. Human rights activists say harassment and arbitrary arrests of dissenters remain commonplace in a persistent climate of intolerance. They say they've seen improvements, including a marked decrease in the mistreatment of detainees, but that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' security forces, who are partially funded by the West, need to do better. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh, File)

(AP) ? A Palestinian atheist who was jailed and beaten last year for expressing anti-Muslim views on Facebook and in blogs says Palestinian security forces are harassing him again, despite government pledges to respect human rights.

The blogger's renewed ordeal is part of a persistent climate of intolerance of dissent in the territories controlled by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, say human rights activists. They say they've seen improvements, including a marked decrease in the mistreatment of detainees, but that Abbas' security forces, who are partially funded by the West, must halt harassment and arbitrary detention.

Government spokesman Ghassan Khatib acknowledged occasional lapses, but said that in the past two years, "there's been great progress and success in reducing abuses."

Such promises mean little to atheist blogger Walid Husayin, who has lived in fear of the security forces since being released from a nine-month prison stint last summer.

"I'm sick and tired. My life has come to a halt," the 28-year-old Husayin said in a phone interview from his home in the northern West Bank town of Qalqiliya.

Since his release on bail, he has been picked up several times by security agents and held for days at a time. In one of those detentions, he was beaten with cables and forced to stand in a painful position on empty cans, said Husayin, the son of a Muslim preacher. Interrogators smashed his two computers and demanded that he stop expressing his views, he said.

Activists from three rights organizations said they witnessed an increase in arbitrary detentions in recent months, including calling in "troublemakers" for repeated interrogation, but said they hadn't yet collated 2011 figures.

Those targeted include loyalists of the Islamic militant Hamas, Abbas' political rival, and supporters of Hezb al-Tahrir, or the "Liberation Party," a puritan Islamic movement considered apolitical.

The increased pressure on dissent coincides with pro-democracy uprisings of the Mideast Arab Spring, but it's not clear if there is a direct link. Anti-government demonstrations in the West Bank usually draw just a few dozen or few hundred people, tiny compared to protests that toppled rulers in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia over the past year.

There appears to be little popular sympathy for those targeted in the crackdown, said Jamil Rabah, an independent Palestinian pollster.

In Gaza, ruled by the Islamic Hamas since a violent takeover in 2007, the Islamists appear to dealing even more harshly with critics, particularly on religious matters.

In both territories, those who violate social norms find themselves in the crosshairs. In Gaza, Hamas recently banned a televised amateur singing contest on modesty grounds because it included female contestants.

In the West Bank, Palestinian-American comedian Maysoon Zayid said her husband was roughed up and lightly hurt last fall after she mocked Palestinian officials in a skit. Witnesses identified the assailants as plainclothes security men, said Zayid, a contributor to "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on Current TV, a U.S. cable show.

She said it was the first attempt at intimidation after years of West Bank performances.

"I feel like the Palestinian Authority is going backward," said Zayid, a resident of Cliffside Park, New Jersey. "That is not the state I am fighting for."

Blogger Husayin, who got his start with anonymous Facebook posts, caused an uproar in the Arab world in 2010 by mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad, dismissing Islam as a primitive religion and sarcastically referring to himself as God.

In November 2010, he was caught in a sting that used Facebook to find him. In the West Bank, it's against the law to defame Islam or Christianity.

He was initially held without charges, but eventually he was accused of blasphemy and insulting people's beliefs. For four of the nine months of his initial detention, he was kept in solitary confinement. He told the New York-based Human Rights Watch that he was shackled for long periods and so harshly beaten that he vomited blood. After his release on bail in August, a court gave him a three-year suspended sentence.

Husayin returned home to his conservative Muslim family, rarely venturing out. He said his family is ashamed of what people might say about him, because of his unorthodox views. Husayin said he doesn't want people to see him either ? he still fears vigilante retribution.

The blogger wouldn't allow reporters to visit, saying he feared it would inflame family tensions.

Adnan Damiri, a spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, said he was not aware of harassment against Husayin.

"It isn't acceptable to summon somebody for ideological reasons. I am prepared to deal with this case," he said.

Khatib, the government spokesman, portrayed attempts to stifle dissent as growing pains. "We can promise that in 2012, we will have progress from last year. We are building a state, and there are difficulties in doing that," he said.

While the blogger's "crime" is unusual in the West Bank, his arbitrary detention fits a pattern, activists from three human rights groups said. Shawan Jabarin of the rights group al-Haq said he was aware of hundreds of arbitrary detentions in the past few months.

The bulk of those detained are Hamas supporters.

"We haven't seen tremendous improvement in rights and freedoms," said Randa Siniora of the Independent Commission for Human Rights.

The worst abuses receded over the past two years, like torture of political activists and lengthy detentions, the activists said, and the practice of trying civilians in military courts has largely stopped, they said.

Damiri, the police spokesman, said lessons have been learned.

"There are individual cases of abuse, but we don't have a culture of revenge," he said.

Rights activists say it's too soon to speak of a major shift in attitude.

"There's a lack of accountability, a lack of laws enshrining rights," said Jabarin. "We can't talk about a culture of institutions and the rule of law."

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2012-01-29-ML-Palestinians-Stifling-Dissent/id-87b502f8e82640a5b1087ae00a119fc1

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As GOP presidential contenders dogfight, how's Obama doing?

It?s way too early in the presidential campaign to make predictions about the 2012 outcome. But at this point, President Obama might confidently say, ?I?ve got ?em right where I want ?em.?

It?s way too early in the presidential campaign to make predictions about the 2012 outcome. But at this point, President Obama might confidently say, ?I?ve got ?em right where I want ?em.?

Skip to next paragraph

Front-runners Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are battering each other rhetorically as Rick Santorum and Ron Paul circle around, trying to get a jab in here and there.

Obama?s approval ratings are inching back upwards as much of the electorate begins to see glimmers of hope in the economy. And if the election were held today, he would beat any one of them, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Over at Betfair and Intrade, meanwhile, participants in those online betting and election prediction websites give Obama a comfortable lead in his chances of being re-elected ? averaging 56 percent compared to 37 percent for Romney?s winning and just 2 percent for Gingrich. (Both Betfair and Intrade give Romney better than an 80 percent chance of being nominated ? Gingrich is down in single digits ? which gives some indication of Obama?s likely opponent and the way the incumbent is already framing his campaign.)

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Jan. 21-27, 2012

The important thing for Obama come November will be how people feel about his tenure as president.

There?s no doubt that it?s been a rough three years as the economy faltered, housing foreclosures remained a major problem, and the US slowly ? very slowly ? disengaged from two costly and unpopular wars.

Then there was the sharp partisan divisiveness in Washington ? something Obama hoped to transcend.

His failure there can be measured by the relative party polarization in his approval/disapproval ratings ? among the highest divide between Democrats and Republicans since the Gallup organization began tracking that during Eisenhower administration. (Political polarization was even higher during some of George W. Bush?s years in office.)

Still, Gallup finds some hopeful signs for Obama.

?US economic confidence continues to improve, consistent with recent modest improvement in unemployment, positive news on jobless claims, and the general perception that the overall US economy is getting slightly better,? writes Dennis Jacobe, Gallup?s chief economist. ?This seems like good news for the nation's businesses as well as for President Barack Obama's re-election chances.?

NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll results out this week second that observation.

While Obama has a long way to go to be considered a solidly popular president, the latest numbers likely put a spring in his step.

?More people said they believe the economy will get better (37 percent) in the next year rather than worse (17 percent),? NBC reported. ?That?s the highest level in more than a year and a seven-point jump over last month.?

While the number of people who said the country is headed in the right direction remains a relatively dismal 30 percent,?that?s up 8 points from last month and 13 points from October. Meanwhile, for the first time in seven months, more people approve of Obama?s job performance than disapprove (48-46 percent).

What?s the political import of such numbers?

?Republicans had better bring their A-game to the election in November,? said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey together with Democratic pollster Peter Hart. ?Today's results are a reminder ? as attitudes about the economy improve, so does President Obama's standing.?

With his State of the Union address to Congress this week (which got a better reception among average viewers than it did from many pundits and partisans, according to focus groups and post-speech surveys), followed by a jaunt around the country to talk about the economy, manufacturing, and education, Obama launched his re-election campaign.

He has the advantages of incumbency, from Air Force One to a traveling press corps always standing by. In his case, there also seems to be a self-confidence and ease of manner that were big parts of his success in 2008. In a few months we?ll know whether his personality, character traits, and those polling numbers hinting at a turnaround in public perception are enough to win him a second term.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Jan. 21-27, 2012

Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/feeds/csm/~3/DSOhpy4tCQI/As-GOP-presidential-contenders-dogfight-how-s-Obama-doing

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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Samsung Central Station (SyncMaster C23A750X)

The Samsung Central Station SyncMaster C23A750X ($449.9 list) is not your typical 23-inch monitor. In addition to the usual HDMI and VGA inputs, it offers docking station capabilities with multiple USB ports, a wired Ethernet port, and an audio output. Better yet, your laptop can connect wirelessly via a tiny USB dongle. You'll pay a premium for all this connectivity, however, and although the Central Station delivers good color and viewing angle performance, it has trouble accurately reproducing dark and light shades in the grayscale.

Design and Features
The Central Station uses a 23-inch TN+ panel with a 1,920-by-1,080 resolution and a non-reflective matte anti-glare coating. The screen is framed by thin (0.75-inch) piano black bezels with clear trim and sits in a razor-thin (0.70-inch) black cabinet. A SyncMaster logo is affixed to the upper left side bezel. You won't find any buttons or inputs on the panel cabinet; instead, everything is contained on the base. The panel is attached to a wide curved support arm with a dual hinge mechanism that provides height and tilt maneuverability, so you can adjust the screen for the most comfortable viewing position. The curved piano black base is 9.2-inches deep and sports the Samsung logo on its front edge.

Connectivity options abound. On the left side are two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video input, and an audio output jack for headphones or an external speaker system (the Central Station does not have embedded speakers). Over on the right side are two USB 2.0 ports, and the rear of the base holds VGA and Ethernet ports, a PC USB input, and the power jack. For viewing HD video and obtaining the best all-around picture quality, you'll want to connect to the monitor via the HDMI port, but you can also connect using the VGA port or one of the USB ports. What's more, you can use the USB 3.0 ports to charge your USB devices.

The monitor also comes with a small USB dongle for your laptop that allows you to wirelessly connect to the Central Station. With the dongle and drivers installed on your system all you have to do is walk within five feet of the monitor and the base will recognize the laptop and a connection is made. I managed to stay connected from up to ten feet away, but Samsung suggests a range of no more than five feet. You won't get the best video quality via wireless USB and there's a noticeable lag, but it's fine for everyday office tasks. As an added bonus you can connect to the internet wirelessly via the USB dongle as long as you have a wired connection to the base's Ethernet port. Lastly, the base can be used as a four port USB hub to connect to a variety of peripherals.

On top of the base are a series of touch sensitive buttons used to navigate the on-screen display, adjust volume and brightness, and select an input. The Menu button that takes you into the Picture settings menu where you can access the Samsung Magic presets, including Magic Angle, Magic Bright, and Magic Color. Magic Angle cranks up the brightness and contrast to accommodate five different viewing scenarios such as leaning back, standing, side mode, and group view. Activating any of these modes significantly changes the image quality for the worst. Viewing angles are actually pretty good without having to enable this feature, so I'd suggest leaving this feature off. Magic Bright changes the brightness for specific viewing apps including Standard, Game, Cinema, and Dynamic Contrast. The Standard mode offers the best overall image quality for everyday viewing and the Cinema mode works well in dim lighting. The Magic Color feature can be set to Full (enhanced skin tones), Intelligent (more vivid colors), Demo (split screen comparison), or you can turn it off. Other picture settings include brightness, contrast, sharpness, and tint. You can also tweak red, green, and blue color values, set tone and gamma levels, and adjust the HDMI black level to obtain darker blacks while using an HDMI signal. The Hub button that takes you into a separate menu system where you can enable/disable the wireless USB feature and view the connection status for the hub, including the USB, VGA, HDMI, and USB super charging ports. This screen also shows you the wireless ID for the Central Station.

In addition to a three year parts, labor, and backlight warranty, the Central Station comes with a driver/user guide CD, a PC to dock USB cable, and the wireless USB dongle.

As noted above the Central Station delivers good off-angle viewing without having to enable the Magic Angle feature. There's some slight color shifting when viewed from an extreme side angle, but the effect is minimal. The panel did a god job of displaying uniform colors on the DisplayMate Color Scales test and delivered sharp image detail and vibrant colors while playing the BBC's Planet Earth on Blu-ray. Small text from the Scaled Fonts test was well defined and completely legible. The monitor was unable to display every swatch from the 64-Step Grayscale test, however. The darkest shades of gray appeared black and the lightest shades of grays were whitewashed. As such, the Central Station is not well suited for professional-grade photo editing or any application where grayscale accuracy is vital.

As is usually the case with edge-lit LED backlighting there's minor backlight seepage along the top and side edges of the panel. Chances are you won't notice it during regular use, but it's apparent when the majority of the screen is displaying black.

The monitor's Eco Saving feature lets you reduce power consumption by 50 or 75 percent, but in doing so the screen image becomes way too dim. With Eco Saving disabled the monitor used 32-watts of power during my testing, which is twice the amount used by the 24-inch Lenovo LS2421p ($219.99 direct, 4 stars) (16-watts), but much less than the 24-inch HP LA2405wg ($379 direct, 3.5 stars) (41-watts). You mileage will vary depending on how many USB devices are hooked up and drawing power.

The Samsung Central Station SyncMaster C23A750X may cost more than the average 23-inch monitor, but that's because it functions as a docking station with a slew of connectivity options. Not only do you get solid color, text, and viewing angle performance from this versatile monitor but you can connect wirelessly to keep cable clutter to a minimum. Its grayscale performance and backlight issues notwithstanding, the Central Station is a good fit for mobile users seeking a quality HD display, a wireless docking station, and a USB hub all rolled in to one space-saving package.

Compare the Samsung Central Station (SyncMaster C23A750X) with several other monitors side by side.

More monitor reviews:
??? Samsung SyncMaster S23A550H
??? Samsung Central Station (SyncMaster C23A750X)
??? AOC e1649Fwu
??? Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421
??? Asus VG278H
?? more

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ziffdavis/pcmag/~3/xwFz0_CLeOM/0,2817,2399196,00.asp

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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Can NATO force weather France's faster exit?

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, center, France's Defence and Veterans Minister Gerard Longuet, left, and French General and Paris military governor Bruno Dary, right, pay tribute to the Unknown soldier's tomb, at the Arc of Triomphe, in Paris, Friday Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure, Pool)

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, center, France's Defence and Veterans Minister Gerard Longuet, left, and French General and Paris military governor Bruno Dary, right, pay tribute to the Unknown soldier's tomb, at the Arc of Triomphe, in Paris, Friday Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure, Pool)

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai arrives prior to laying a wreath on the Unknown soldier's tomb, at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, Friday Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure, Pool)

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, second from right, France's Defence and Veterans Minister Gerard Longuet, third from right, and French General and Paris military governor Bruno Dary, fourth from right, pay tribute to the Unknown soldier's tomb, at the Arc of Triomphe, in Paris, Friday Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure, Pool)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, front right, and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, second from left, sign a friendship and cooperation treaty at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

(AP) ? France's call for a speedier NATO exit from Afghanistan reflects the depth of war fatigue in the West and raises fears that other countries in the U.S.-led coalition will succumb to rising political pressure and pull their troops home early.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to fast-track its withdrawal ? just days after an Afghan soldier gunned down four French troops ? is the latest crack in a coalition already strained by economic troubles in Europe and the United States, the Afghan government's sluggish battle against corruption, on-again off-again cooperation from neighboring Pakistan and a dogged Taliban bloodied but not beaten.

The international coalition is already rushing against the clock to meet President Hamid Karzai's goal of having the Afghan police and army in charge of the nation's security by the end of 2014. France's break with that timetable, which was agreed to by NATO members, now raises the question: Can the coalition stay together until then?

Resetting the date to end the coalition's combat mission could strengthen arguments for President Barack Obama to accelerate U.S. troop withdrawals beyond the 33,000 he's sending home by the end of this year, and reopen a debate over whether setting a withdrawal deadline allows the Taliban to seize more territory once foreign forces are gone.

It's unclear whether Sarkozy's call for all foreign forces to hand security over to the Afghan forces in 2013 will have any traction when it is presented next week at a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels. If other nations see France's move as a green light to speed up their withdrawals, it will complicate the current strategy for a coordinated pullout.

In a gentle rebuke to France, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London on Saturday that withdrawals should be dependent on security conditions on the ground. Britain has said it's keeping to plans to withdraw its 9,500 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

"The rate at which we can reduce our troops will depend on the transition to Afghan control in the different parts of Afghanistan, and that should be the same for all of the members of NATO," Cameron said after meeting with Karzai.

Other nations facing extreme economic problems, such as Italy and Spain, are not planning early withdrawals.

"We are a responsible country. We are a big country that honors its commitments that it agrees to make," said Minister Giampaolo Di Paola, defense minister in Italy, which this week signed a pact aimed at supporting Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw in 2014.

Germany also said it agrees with the goal to hand over security responsibility by the end of 2014 and withdraw combat troops.

Sarkozy said France will speed up its withdrawal and pull 1,000 ? up from 600 ? out this year and bring all combat forces home at the end of 2013. Sarkozy also said France would hand over authority in the province of Kapisa, where the French troops were killed this month, by the end of March.

France, which now has about 3,600 soldiers in the coalition force, joins the U.S., Britain, Germany and Italy in the top five largest troop-contributing nations.

Talk of an accelerated exit alarmed many Afghans, especially those who have cast their lot with the U.S.-backed government but have little confidence in their country's own security forces. Some said France was reneging on its promises.

Afghan lawmaker Tahira Mujadedi, who represents Kapisa, said Afghan forces there aren't ready to go it alone in fighting the Taliban insurgency, which is especially strong in several of the province's districts. She warned that if NATO forces do pull back from Kapisa, it could also destabilize nearby Kabul. Foreign forces should consider staying even longer than 2014, she said.

"When military forces are present in a war zone, anything can happen," said Mujadedi, who expressed sadness about the French troops who were killed.

But she added: "They are not here for a holiday."

Former Afghan interior minister and military analyst Abdul Hadi Khalid said Sarkozy's decision was clearly political. Sarkozy's rival in spring presidential elections in France, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, has pledged to pull French troops out of the war if he is elected in May.

"Why is he raising this now?" Khalid asked. "He is trying to get political benefit out of it."

So far, Karzai has reacted cautiously to the idea of a 2013 handover. He can ill afford to anger major coalition partners, yet he wants to be seen as the leader of a country capable of security itself.

"We hope to finish the transition ... by the end of 2013 at the earliest ? or by the latest as has been agreed upon ? by the end of 2014," Karzai said.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu underscored the coalition's solidarity, saying that all nations agreed at a Lisbon summit in 2010 to complete the transition to Afghan-led security by the end of 2014.

"Transition is well on track to be completed by the end of 2014, as we all agreed," she said. She said NATO nations would "take stock, shape the next stage of transition" at its summit in Chicago in May.

In Chicago, NATO members will discuss another contentious issue: Who will pay the salaries of the more than 300,000 Afghan policemen and soldiers after 2014. Estimates range from $5 billion to $6 billion a year.

Thomas Risse, a political scientist at Berlin's Free University, said the problem of securing commitments to finance the Afghan security forces comes as a general fatigue with foreign interventions grips Europe and the United States.

"The public mood in most NATO countries is that they want their boys back as soon as possible and they don't care much about Afghanistan either way," Risse said. "The political elites have undertaken to keep up the military commitments, but I'm not sure they will be able to sustain those promises in the face of such a strong public mood."

"As far as the money (for the post-2014 period) is concerned, I don't think there is any mood in Germany to throw money after the Karzai regime," he added.

Stories of Afghan security forces killing their foreign partners make it that much harder to sell the war in cash-strapped countries.

The deadly shooting of the four French soldiers on Jan. 20 was the second against French forces in a month; two members of the French Foreign Legion were killed by an Afghan soldier on Dec. 29. On Thursday, an Afghan man wielding a knife tried to attack foreign troops in southern Afghanistan before being arrested. The Taliban said the man was upset about a video that purportedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses.

The promise to pull out by 2014 has appeased immediate public demand, said Malcolm Chalmers, a professor of defense at Kings College in London.

"But as the (economic crisis) continues to deepen and these types of incidents continue to occur, it's very possible that there will be renewed public pressure to accelerate the pace of withdrawal," he said. "My expectation is that there will be a steady and substantial withdrawal starting this year."

Asked if France's break with the coalition could spark a wider split, Kate Clark, senior analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network, said it could be troublesome for countries deploying troops to Afghanistan. While the U.S. contributes the bulk of troops, any cracks in the coalition could dampen morale of all foreign forces on the battlefield, she said.

"The foreign troops have been here for 10 years. That's a long time," she said. "There's a certain war-weariness among the voters of a great many of those countries."

Then again, she pointed out that the Netherlands and Canada have drawn down their forces in recent years and the coalition has not crumbled.


Lekic reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Kay Johnson contributed to this report.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2012-01-28-AS-Afghanistan/id-cb6b4ff6225a41b6967193c94872bebc

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SKorean activists send socks to NKorea in balloons (AP)

PAJU, South Korea ? South Korean activists have floated giant balloons carrying boxes of socks into North Korea.

The activists hoped Saturday that North Koreans could wear the socks or trade them for food during the harsh winter. Associated Press video showed five helium-filled balloons rising into the air at an observation post in the South Korean border city of Paju.

South Korean activists have used balloons in the past to send anti-North Korean leaflets across the heavily guarded border.

North Korea strongly denounces the leaflets but hasn't mentioned past efforts to send daily necessities.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/nkorea/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120128/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_socks

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Listen to the Engadget Mobile Podcast with guest CrackBerry Kevin, live at 5PM ET!

Listen to the Engadget Mobile Podcast with guest CrackBerry Kevin, live at 5PM ET!
Just wake up from a very restful week-long slumber? First of all, we're envious of your good fortune. Second, Research in Motion made a few changes to its leadership chart. Third, you must be really hungry right about now. So grab a sandwich, come back in an hour and join Myriam, Brad, Sean Cooper and our very special guest Kevin Michaluk (yes, Mr. CrackBerry Kevin himself) as we discuss the northern news, as well as anything else that happened this week.

Be sure to send questions or comments you have for us or Kevin via Twitter (we're @engadgetmobile), or make your voice heard in our Ustream chat room during the show!

January 27, 2012 5:00 PM EST

Continue reading Listen to the Engadget Mobile Podcast with guest CrackBerry Kevin, live at 5PM ET!

Listen to the Engadget Mobile Podcast with guest CrackBerry Kevin, live at 5PM ET! originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 27 Jan 2012 16:05:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Prostate Cancer: Resource Guide

This is a companion piece to Fighting Prostate Cancer: Good News, Bad News.

Navigating the health care system to get the best care is a challenge, but it's worth the fight. Working through patient networks, top cancer hospitals, advocacy organizations and clinical trials may help you find the care you need.

1. Contact the advocates:

The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program

The Prostate Health Education Network (PHEN)

The Prostate Cancer Foundation

The Prostate Net

2. Find the best hospitals:

There are 65 federally designated National Cancer Institute Cancer Centers in the United States. They are your best bets for financial assistance, regardless of insurance status, and access to the most advanced treatments.?

3. Investigate clinical trials:

Participating in research will not only speed the discovery of more effective treatments for African-American men but may also be a way to gain access to groundbreaking medical discoveries. Keep track at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

Source: http://www.theroot.com/buzz/prostate-cancer-resources-and-research

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Learning to 'talk things through in your head' may help people with autism

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2012) ? Teaching children with autism to 'talk things through in their head' may help them to solve complex day-to-day tasks, which could increase the chances of independent, flexible living later in life, according to new research from Durham University, the University of Bristol and City University London.

The study, co-authored by Professor Chris Jarrold of Bristol's School of Experimental Psychology and published in Development and Psychopathology, found that the mechanism for using 'inner speech' or 'talking things through in their head' is intact in children with autism but they do not always use it in the same way as typically developing children do.

The psychologists found that the use, or lack of, thinking in words is strongly linked to the extent of someone's communication impairments which are rooted in early childhood.

However, the researchers suggest teaching and intervention strategies for children targeted at encouraging inner speech may make a difference. These strategies, which include encouraging children to describe their actions out loud, have already proven useful for increasing mental flexibility among typically developing children.

It is also suggested that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) could, for example, benefit from verbal learning of their daily schedule at school rather than using visual timetables -- currently a common approach.

Lead author, Dr David Williams, lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Durham University, said: "Most people will 'think in words' when trying to solve problems, which helps with planning or particularly complicated tasks. Young, typically developing children tend to talk out loud to guide themselves when they face challenging tasks.

"However, only from about the age of seven do they talk to themselves in their head and, thus, think in words for problem-solving. How good people are at this skill is in part determined by their communication experiences as a young child."

One out of every 100 people in the UK has ASD, which is diagnosed on the basis of a set of core impairments in social engagement, communication and behavioural flexibility. Children with autism often miss out on the early communicative exchanges when they are young which may explain their tendency not to use inner speech when they are older. This relative lack of inner speech use might contribute to some of the repetitive behaviours which are common in people with autism.

In the study, those individuals with more profound communication impairments also struggled most with the use of inner speech for complex tasks. People with ASD did, however, use inner speech to recall things from their short-term memory.

Dr Williams said: "These results show that inner speech has its roots in interpersonal communication with others early in life, and it demonstrates that people who are poor at communicating with others will generally be poor at communicating with themselves.

"It also shows that there is a critical distinction between being able to express yourself verbally and actually using silent language for problem-solving. For example, the participants with ASD in our study were verbally able, yet did not use inner speech to support their planning."

Caroline Hattersley, Head of Information, Advice and Advocacy at the National Autistic Society, said: "This study presents some interesting results and could further our understanding of autism. If the findings are replicated on a wider scale they could have a significant impact on how we develop strategies to support children with the disability."

In the study, 15 high-functioning adults with ASD and 16 comparison participants were asked to complete a commonly used task which measures planning ability, called the Tower of London task. This task consists of five coloured disks that can be arranged on three individual pegs. The aim of the task is to transform one arrangement of disks into another by moving the disks between the pegs, one disk at a time, in as few moves as possible. This type of complex planning task is helped by 'talking to yourself in your head'.

The participants did the task under normal conditions as well as under an 'articulatory suppression' condition whereby they had to repeat out loud a certain word throughout the task, in this case, either the word 'Tuesday' or 'Thursday'. If someone uses inner speech to help them plan, articulatory suppression prevents them from doing so and will detrimentally affect their planning performance, whereas it will have little impact on the planning performance of someone who doesn't use inner speech.

The results showed that whilst almost 90 per cent of normally developing adults did significantly worse on the Tower of London task when asked to repeat the word, only a third of people with autism were in any way negatively affected by articulatory suppression during the task. This suggests that, unlike neurotypical adults, participants with autism do not normally use inner speech to help themselves plan.

The participants also completed a short-term memory task to asses the use of inner speech in short-term recall.

The research was funded by a City University London Research Fellowship to the lead researcher.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Williams, Bowler, Jarrold. Inner speech is used to mediate short-term memory, but not planning, among intellectually high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder. Development and Psychopathology, January 2012

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://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120124200103.htm

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Sergio Mendes says 'Rio' sequel likely (AP)

NEW YORK ? Sergio Mendes, who scored an Oscar nomination for his song "Real In Rio," says the animated film will most likely have a sequel.

Mendes said "Rio" director Carlos Saldanha may want to tie the sequel to the 2014 World Cup, which will take place in Brazil.

"I think the plan is for the movie to come three or four months before the World Cup," Mendes said Tuesday afternoon.

"Fox has been talking about (it) and it looks like it's going to happen," he continued. "We're going to have a meeting I think next week and Carlos is coming to town to tell us the story, and it looks like it's a go."

Fox said in an email Wednesday that the "success of the first film was the start of a franchise," but added that "no script or deals" are in place.

Mendes and Saldanha are from Brazil. Mendes said creating music for the film ? about birds adventuring to Rio de Janeiro with the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway ? was special "because that's my hometown."

Mendes shares his nomination with Siedah Garrettd and Carlinhos Brown. He said he's not feeling pressure to create new music for the "Rio" sequel following his Oscar nod.

"I take one thing at a time," he said. "Right now I'm celebrating."


Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/movies/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120125/ap_on_en_mo/us_film_rio

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Trial over Globes broadcast rights opens in LA (AP)

LOS ANGELES ? The executive who negotiated a deal that brought the Golden Globe Awards to NBC in the mid-1990s testified Tuesday that he didn't think it was necessary to tell its organizers they were signing away rights that could keep the show on the network indefinitely.

Former dick clark productions President Francis La Maina testified he informed the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association about the deal's "perpetuity clause" and he believed it was her responsibility to explain it to the full membership. The NBC deal was brought to the group in 1993, a decade after it had been bumped from network television because of scandal.

The clause allows the production company, which is no longer owned by entertainment pioneer Dick Clark, to work on the Globes as long as it airs on NBC.

La Maina was the first witness in a trial in federal court that will decide ownership of the broadcast rights to the Globes, a glitzy awards banquet that brings out Hollywood superstars and in some years serves as a predictor of Oscar contenders.

The production company, also known as dcp, used the language of the 1993 deal to support a $150 million contract extension signed in 2010 that keeps the Globes on NBC through 2018. It has noted that the association has known about the clause for years and even allowed the company to work on five shows without a formal extension, but waited until the new broadcast deal was struck to sue.

The HFPA contends the new agreement is invalid and it should be allowed to negotiate with other networks. Nearly 17 million people watched the most recent Globes, which aired Jan. 15.

"I don't think I misled the Hollywood Foreign Press," La Maina said, adding that he thought he was fulfilling his obligations by explaining the impact to the association's president. "My job is to deal with the top dog of Hollywood Foreign Press."

The trial is expected to last more than two weeks and could lead to the first restructuring of the HFPA's broadcast rights on its own terms in nearly 30 years. The group and dcp have worked together since 1983, but it wasn't until the 1993 deal with NBC was reached that both sides began to generate large sums for the Globes.

The association claims it would have never knowingly allowed the perpetuity clause and that it had assurances from dcp executives that they were not negotiating an extension with NBC in 2010. The group believes the perpetuity clause would mean it is likely to receive less money than the Globes are worth because dcp would have an incentive to keep the show on NBC.

The case will be decided by U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz, who said Monday that the 1993 agreement and other evidence present enough ambiguity to warrant a trial.

La Maina, who left dcp in 2007, is expected to be on the stand for several days. Other witnesses may include Dick Clark, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and several current and former HFPA members.


Follow Anthony McCartney at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/entertainment/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120125/ap_en_ot/us_golden_globes_lawsuit

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Mitt Romney's Tax Filings Mean Nothing to the 2012 Presidential Campaign (ContributorNetwork)

COMMENTARY | As reported by Reuters, Mitt Romney has bowed to pressure by Newt Gingrich and released his 2010-2011 tax filings. The filings reveal that the former Massachusetts governor had income of $45 million and paid taxes on that totaling $6.7 million.

Gingrich made the claims that Mitt was hiding his income and attempted to paint him as someone out of touch with main street America. Yet the governor's forced release of his tax information showed none of this. His largest source of income is held in blind trust which he has no control over, and he is about as in touch with the everyday American as any other politician. Can Gingrich name a presidential candidate in history that went from working at McDonald's to the White House? All candidates are millionaires whose typical employment is either as a lawyer, CEO, or a career politician.

Since Gingrich brought the issues of tax filings into the campaign, let us take a look at his 2010 filing as shown on his website and see how it compares to Romney's return. Gingrich made $3,162,424 in income for the year yet only had $127,290 withheld for Federal Taxes and a total tax liability of $996,251 for the year putting his taxes at about 32 percent. This is offset some by a carry-forward of a tax credit from last year of $485,860. Where did this tax credit come from? To ask the same thing that Gingrich is asking Mitt, is Gingrich trying to hide something from last year that gave him a tax refund of at least $485,860? The filing goes on to say that Gingrich gave only a little over $81,000 to charity. That's only a meager 4 percent as compared an estimated 15 percent that Romney gave in donations. I say these things with a touch of sarcasm to illustrate the point that this tit-for-tat is pointless.

Overall, this really should not be an issue for the Republicans. As the well known writer, Napoleon Hill said, "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness."

We are the party of achievement. We celebrate success. We praise those that provide for their family and their descendants. Yet here Gingrich is, waving the Democrats' banner for them. He is trying to make people hate Romney for no other reason than he has money. We as the voter need to demand that Gingrich and the rest of the GOP candidates focus the campaign on one thing and one thing only, beating Obama and the Democrats. Nitpicking each other over how much money that person has or if that person has a Swiss bank account or not is only making it easier for the Democrats.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120124/pl_ac/10877591_mitt_romneys_tax_filings_mean_nothing_to_the_2012_presidential_campaign

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Plant flavonoid luteolin blocks cell signaling pathways in colon cancer cells

Monday, January 23, 2012

Luteolin is a flavonoid commonly found in fruit and vegetables. This compound has been shown in laboratory conditions to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties but results from epidemiological studies have been less certain. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Gastroenterology shows that luteolin is able to inhibit the activity of cell signaling pathways (IGF and PI3K) important for the growth of cancer in colon cancer cells.

Colon cancer is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related death in the Western World. Colon cancer cells have elevated levels of IGF-II compared to normal colon tissues. It is thought that this is part of the mechanism driving uncontrolled cell division and cancer growth. Researchers from Korea showed that luteolin was able to block the secretion of IGF-II by colon cancer cells and within two hours decreased the amount of receptor (IGF-IR) precursor protein. Luteolin also reduced the amount of active receptor (measured by IGF-I dependent phosphorylation).

Luteolin inhibited the growth stimulatory effect of IGF-I and the team led by Prof Jung Han Yoon Park found that luteolin affected cell signaling pathways which are activated by IGF-I in cancer. Prof Jung Han Yoon Park explained, "Luteolin reduced IGF-I-dependent activation of the cell signaling pathways PI3K, Akt, and ERK1/2 and CDC25c. Blocking these pathways stops cancer cells from dividing and leads to cell death."

Prof Jung Park continued, "Our study, showing that luteolin interferes with cell signaling in colon cancer cells, is a step forward in understanding how this flavonoid works. A fuller understanding of the in vivo results is essential to determine how it might be developed into an effective chemopreventive agent."


BioMed Central: http://www.biomedcentral.com

Thanks to BioMed Central for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

This press release has been viewed 12 time(s).

Source: http://www.labspaces.net/116933/Plant_flavonoid_luteolin_blocks_cell_signaling_pathways_in_colon_cancer_cells

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Needing Help

I was not sure on where to put this so hopefully here is fine anyways I am needing help to create a backstory or otherwise background for a new character that I plan to create.

Here are facts to start off with.

- His name is Armas, he is a Lythari Elf and a Ranger. -

- Armas was a member of The Silvery Moon clan. -

- Armas' father banished him from the clan when he chose to learn the ways of magic rather than focusing on his training to become a warrior and exiled him from ever returning to his village in Kelethin. -

- Armas learned the ways of the Arcane arts from a sorceror named Aurelius Reinhardt who helped Armas awaken his hidden talents thus becoming a Arcane Warrior. -

- During his travels Armas met, befriended and saved the life of a human named Andrew Graves who was Markas' father in the field of battle and was invited to live within his home of Dragons Port. -

- Armas befriended and later became intrigued with a female half wood elf/drow named Alessia although never expressed his interest in her like Armas she also met and befriended Andrew. -

- Armas along with Alessia took Markas who was 7 years old at the time away from his village as a way to train and teach him the means of survival as well as combat until he was 16. -

- Armas and Alessia returned to Dragons Port without Markas only to find it in flames and all the towns people dead. However they did manage to get word from Markas' father before he died that he was betrayed by several of his men who were Vampires from the unit that he commanded and presented his sword to him to give to Markas. -

- Armas and Alessia revealed what had happened to Dragons Port to Markas and presented his fathers weapon to him in the following years. -

- Armas, Alessia and Markas stayed in a village that had been recently attacked by Vampires and Werewolves and during their stay helped to rebuild the village. -

- Several years later the village was attacked and Alessia lost her life at the climax of the battle to save Armas from an ambush. -

- After burying Alessia and rebuilding the village Armas and Markas parted ways a few weeks later. -

- Armas currently resides in a new town and there he hopes to reunite with Markas after 500 years. ~Note~ Armas has no idea that Markas has become a vampire. -

That pretty much sums it up so if anyone could do this I would greatly appreciate it.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RolePlayGateway/~3/3Ro4TlFBEac/viewtopic.php

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Monday, 23 January 2012

South Carolina Election Results: Conservatives, Economy Fuel Newt Gingrich Win


WASHINGTON ? Strong backing from conservative and religious voters and people fretting about the uncertain economy fueled Newt Gingrich's victory Saturday in South Carolina's Republican presidential primary, an exit poll of voters showed Saturday.

The figures also showed that for the first time, the former House speaker had grabbed two constituencies that his chief rival, Mitt Romney, has captured in the year's two previous GOP contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. By slight margins, he bested Romney among voters looking for someone to defeat President Barack Obama this November, and those who considered the economy the top issue in deciding which candidate to back.

Gingrich benefited most from the campaign's final, tumultuous week, the figures showed. Just over half said they'd chosen a candidate in the last few days, and they backed Gingrich over Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 2-1. By a slightly stronger margin, the roughly two-thirds who said campaign debates were an important factor also supported Gingrich. There were two GOP debates in South Carolina during the past week.

In the last days of the campaign, Romney stumbled badly when asked repeatedly whether he will release his income tax returns. Gingrich endured an allegation by one of his two former wives, Marianne, that he had asked permission for an open marriage while he was having an affair with his current wife, Callista.

That accusation seemed to take only a slight toll on Gingrich. Gingrich got less than 10 percent support from people who said what they most wanted in a candidate was strong moral character, but these voters were less than 1 in 5 of those who showed up Saturday at the polls.

In addition, Gingrich did slightly better than Romney among women, and polled a bit more strongly among married than unmarried women.

Gingrich won healthy margins among the state's conservatives, who comprise more than 6 in 10 voters in the state. While that was bad news for Romney, it was even more damaging to Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who has been dueling with Gingrich to become the GOP's conservative champion and alternative to Romney.

Gingrich won among conservatives and tea party supporters by nearly 2-1 over Romney. Santorum was slightly behind.

Illustrating the sweep of Gingrich's victory over Romney, Gingrich triumphed among all age groups. The only income group that Romney won was people making above $200,000 a year ? 1 in 20 of those who voted Saturday.

Nearly two-thirds of voters Saturday said they are born again or evangelical Christians, and they backed Gingrich over Romney by 2-1 also.

More telling, 6 in 10 voters said it was important that their candidate share their religious beliefs. Nearly half of such voters backed Gingrich, while only around 1 in 5 chose Romney or Santorum.

About 8 in 10 voters said they were very worried about the direction of the country's economy, and they picked Gingrich over Romney by about a 4-3 edge.

Romney's earlier career heading Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, clearly wounded his prospects. During much of the campaign, Gingrich and others accused Romney and his company of killing jobs in the companies they bought and restructured.

Those blows showed on Saturday. According to the exit polls, Gingrich and Romney broke about even among the 6 in 10 voters who said they had a positive view of Romney's activities at Bain. But among those who viewed Romney's work negatively, half picked Gingrich and almost none backed Romney.

Underscoring how poorly Romney fared in South Carolina, only about 4 in 10 voters Saturday said they could enthusiastically back Romney should he eventually win the GOP nomination.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 35 randomly selected sites in South Carolina. The survey involved interviews with 2,381 voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/21/south-carolina-election-results_n_1221390.html

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Carl Icahn smells blood in LightSquared's spectrum, descends to feed on its carrion

Oh, the twisted web that continues to weave itself around LightSquared. After incurring a seemingly endless parade of regulatory and industry obstacles, the Philip Falcone-backed network is now facing yet another potential hurdle. Except this time, it's taken the shape of investor Carl Icahn: a business magnate notorious for swooping in on downtrodden companies (see: Time Warner) and seizing control. And it appears the old man's pulled out his tried-and-true bag of tricks, securing a sizeable chunk of the fledgling 4G operation's debt following a value drop last year. What does this spell for Falcone? Well, the move could wind up positioning Icahn as a controlling force, steering the LTE operation away from its hedge fund founder's vision and into more profitable waters -- a welcome turn of events for the cash-strapped company. With FCC approval still pending, Sprint quietly retreating from its partnership deal and a looming fight for executive control, it's safe to say LightSquared's troubles have only just begun.

[Image credit: Sarah A. Friedman]

Carl Icahn smells blood in LightSquared's spectrum, descends to feed on its carrion originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 20 Jan 2012 16:23:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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James' passion, great range remembered (AP)

NEW YORK ? On her last album "The Dreamer," released just three months before her death, Etta James sings a mix of covers, from the R&B classic "Misty Blue" to the Ray Charles song "In the Evening." But perhaps the most curious tune included on the disc may be the Guns N' Roses staple "Welcome to the Jungle."

That a 73-year-old icon of R&B would tackle the frenetic rock song ? albeit in a pace more fitting her blues roots ? might seem odd. But the song may be the best representation of James as both a singer and a person ? rambunctious in spirit, with the ability to sing whatever was thrown at her, whether it was jazz, blues, pining R&B or a song from one of the rowdiest bands in rock.

"She was able to dig so deep in kind of such a raw and unguarded place when she sang, and that's the power of gospel and blues and rhythm and blues. She brought that to all those beautiful standards and rocks songs that she did. All the number of vast albums she recorded, she covered such a wide variety of material that brought such unique phrasing and emotional depth," said Bonnie Raitt, a close friend, in an interview on Friday afternoon after James' death.

"I think that's what appealed to people, aside from the fact that her personality on and off the stage was so huge and irrepressible. She was ribald and raunchy and dignified, classy and strong and vulnerable all at the same time, which is what us as women really relate to."

James, whose signature song was the sweeping, jazz-tinged torch song "At Last," died in Riverside, Calif., from complications of leukemia. Her death came after she struggled with dementia and other health problems, health issues that kept her from performing for the last two or so years of her life.

It was a life full of struggles. Her mother was immersed in a criminal life and left her to be raised by friends, she never knew her true father (though she believed it was billiards great Minnesota Fats), and she had her own troubles, which included a decades-long addiction to drugs, turbulent relationships, brushes with the law, and other tribulations.

One might think all of those problems would have weighted down James' spirit, and her voice, layering it with sadness, or despair. While she certainly could channel depression, anger, and sorrow in song, her voice was defined by its fiery passion: Far from beaten down, James embodied the fight of a woman who managed to claw her way back from the brink, again and again.

It's an attitude that influenced her look as well. Despite the conservative era, she dyed her hair platinum blonde, sending out the signal that she was far from demure, and owning a brassy, sassy attitude. She relished her role as saucy singer, a persona that she celebrated in her private life as well.

"In terms of 1950s rhythm and blues stars, she had kind of a gutsy attitude and she went out there and did what she did, and she was kind of bold ... and it had a huge influence," she said. "I think her gutsiness and her lack of fear and just her courage (made her special). ... I believe that made her important and memorable."

Beyonce, who played James in the movie "Cadillac Records" about Chess Records, also spoke about her influence on other singers.

"I feel like Etta James, first of all, was the first black woman I saw with platinum, blonde hair. She wore her leopard and she wore her sexy silhouette and she didn't care. She was strong and confident and always Etta James," said Beyonce in a 2008 interview.

James could often be irascible. Ritz remembers when he was working with her on the autobiography, touring with her around the country, one time he approached her with his tape recorder and she barked: "If see that tape recorder again I'm going to cram it up your (expletive)."

But at other times, she'd be effusive and warm and anxious to talk.

"Once she did talk, she was always candid and unguarded. She was a free spirit," Ritz said.

While Ritz put her in the category of other greats like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, she never enjoyed their mainstream success. Though "At Last" has become an enduring classic, there were times when James had to scrounge for work, and while she won Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she did not have the riches, the multitude of platinum records or the hits that some of her peers enjoyed.

"She at least enjoyed a great resurgence like John Lee Hooker did and B.B. King, (and) has had some great decades of appreciation from new generations around the world," said Raitt. "There's no one like her. No one will ever replace Etta."

And Ritz said the lack of commercial success does nothing to diminish her greatness, or her legacy.

"Marvin certain knew it and Ray knew it ... the people who know that she was in that category," he said. "Whatever the marketplace did or didn't do or whether her lack of career management didn't do, it has nothing to do with her talent."

And on Friday, the Queen of Soul was among those who paid tribute to James greatness, calling her "one of the great soul singers of our generation. An American original!

"I loved `Pushover,' `At Last' and almost any and everything she recorded! When Etta SUNG, you heard it!"


AP Entertainment Writer Chris Talbott and AP Writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.


Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/music/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120121/ap_en_mu/us_etta_james_appreciation

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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Fun. Say Making 'We Are Young' Video 'Was Terrifying'

'There were a lot of moments in the video that ... should have ended a lot worse than they did,' band says.
By James Montgomery

Photo: MTV News

Fun.'s "We Are Young" video is the kind of thing that practically begs for repeat viewings ... a stirring, swirling collection of slow-motion imagery (bodies flailing, glass shattering and the like) that pops from the screen, it's far and away the first breakout clip of 2012. Thankfully for the guys in the band, it was also the kind of video where repeat takes weren't allowed. Mostly because, well, someone could've gotten hurt.

"It was terrifying. There were a lot of moments in the video that I think should have ended a lot worse than they did," guitarist Jack Antonoff laughed. "I watch the video and I think, 'Oh God, we really threw ourselves in some real danger there,' because it's a bunch of stunt people and then us. And it's not necessarily healthy to have cake rocketed at your face from an air cannon, but we did it. And we're in serious tuxedos that are very constricting, so if you want to get away from something quick, you want to be in a sweat suit or something."

"There was a palm tree that flips by [multi-instrumentalist] Andrew [Dost's] head, and I was watching and I had no idea how far away that palm tree was from his head," frontman Andrew Ruess added. "I was so scared, for real."

Of course, all that danger was just part of what made the "Young" video such a challenge for Fun. The other part? Well, that would be living up to the rather ginormous goals they had set for themselves ... namely, to single-handedly resurrect the music video medium from its current doldrums.

"We were really adamant about getting back to the heyday of music videos, you know, the mid-'90s, when we were growing up," Antonoff said. "Videos like [the Smashing Pumpkins'] 'Tonight, Tonight' and Spike Jonze's slow-motion 'Wax' video ['California'] ... just these videos where it's not some giant narrative, and it's not a mini-movie, it's a cool music video. It's kind of abstract, but to us, it makes sense."

And really, that grandiose spirit of just going for it is also what fuels the band's wide-screen, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink album Some Nights (due February 21). It is very much the sound of a band breaking barriers, pushing boundaries and gunning for the big time ... and, yes, Fun. will happily admit to all of those things. After all, they've been working toward this moment for nearly a decade now, and they're going to take full advantage. Even if it kills them.

"It's been a long time coming," Ruess said. "And we want it to take over the world."

"It all seems like, if you're pop, you go big, if you're indie, you go small and you're self-deprecating. We just think we can do both, you know?" Antonoff said. "If we have a song that sounds like it's meant to be played for 10,000 people, like 'We Are Young,' then we'd like to try to do that, and we'd like to try and make a video that reflects that."

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Source: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1677668/fun-we-are-young-video.jhtml

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