Wednesday, 16 January 2013

From the Blender: Vegan Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie | Serious ...


[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

I like January a lot because, for a brief moment, it feels like the whole world agrees with me. The Williams-Sonoma catalog is front-loaded with juicers and high-speed blenders. Amazon features neon running shoes on its homepage. Yoga skeptics pipe down for a few weeks. Everyone and their schmuncle is a health nerd. It doesn't last long, so I soak it in while I can.

Still, this health nerd is also a serious food lover. January or no, I like my good-for-you fare to taste amazing. And with a couple kids to feed, deliciousness is non-negotiable.

That's where drinks like this Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie come in. It's entirely plant-based and packed with some of the best-for-you foods around: berries, almonds, flax, dates, even a little maca root powder to boost your superhero quotient.

But dudes. The thing is, it tastes like strawberry shortcake. It's creamy, just sweet enough, and smattered with cakey overtones of vanilla and almond. Smattered, I tell you. You know, just in case you?or your schmuncle?are into that sort of thing.

Get the Recipe

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie ?

About the author: Carolyn Cope is the voice behind the popular food and lifestyle blog Umami Girl, where she'll soon be releasing a free e-book filled with easy ways to incorporate more healthy, plant-based foods into your life. She is equal parts live-to-eat and eat-to-live and currently does both from London.


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Why Bad Security Can Happen to Good People

Sometimes you can do everything right and still run into trouble. To see this in action, pay attention the next time you're driving at dusk -- for example during an evening commute, if you have one. If you do this, chances are good that you'll notice at least one person with their headlights turned off. It's not that they're doing anything malicious.


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Baltimore, MD 2013 Ford Focus New Sedan Glen Burnie, MD Annapolis, MD Bob Bell Ford/ Hyundai/ Kia

  • Tuxedo Black Metallic
  • Leather-Trim Sport Bkt Seats Charcoal Black Trim
  • 130300
  • 2.0L 4 cyls
  • 1FADP3F25DL231512
  • Automatic 6-Speed
  • 3 mi.
  • FWD Sedan (4 Door)


  • Convenience

    • Compass
    • Tachometer
    • Power mirrors
    • Trip computer
    • Rear defogger
    • Cruise control
    • Power steering
    • Air conditioning
    • Remote power door locks
    • Interior air filtration
    • Clock - In-radio display
    • wireless phone connectivity
    • External temperature display
    • Power windows with 1 one-touch
    • Video Monitor Location - Front
    • Audio controls on steering wheel
    • Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
    • Multi-function remote - Trunk/hatch/door
    • Center Console - Full with covered storage
  • Safety

    • Passenger Airbag
    • Stability control
    • 4-wheel ABS brakes
    • Knee airbags - Driver
    • Dusk sensing headlights
    • Traction control - ABS and driveline
    • Head airbags - Curtain 1st and 2nd row
  • Technical

    • 4 Doors
    • Front-wheel drive
    • Tire pressure monitoring system
    • 2 liter inline 4 cylinder DOHC engine
    • Fuel economy EPA highway (mpg): 38 and EPA city (mpg): 27
  • Interior

    • Rear bench seats
    • Front seat type - Bucket
  • Exterior

    • Privacy/tinted glass
    • Intermittent window wipers


Contact Us at (410) 766-3600

*The advertised price does not include sales tax, vehicle registration fees, finance charges, documentation charges, and any other fees required by law. We attempt to update this inventory on a regular basis. However, there can be lag time between the sale of a vehicle and the update of the inventory.

EPA mileage estimates are for newly manufactured vehicles only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

Before purchasing this vehicle, it is your responsibility to address any and all differences between information on this website and the actual vehicle specifications and/or any warranties offered prior to the sale of this vehicle. Vehicle data on this website is compiled from publicly available sources believed by the publisher to be reliable. Vehicle data is subject to change without notice. The publisher assumes no responsibility for errors and/or omissions in this data the compilation of this data and makes no representations express or implied to any actual or prospective purchaser of the vehicle as to the condition of the vehicle, vehicle specifications, ownership, vehicle history, equipment/accessories, price or warranties. 2013 Ford Baltimore, MD 2013 Ford Glen Burnie, MD 2013 Ford Annapolis, MD


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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

OPEL RECORD 2.0 GLS auto ( East London / Amatola ) R 19,950

Offers: Ads with a price may include the option to make an offer to the poster. Offers made are non-binding. The poster receives offer details once it is made. The poster may or may not respond to an offer.

Notifications: While making an offer, you can choose to receive a daily notification if more offers are made on the ad. You can choose to not receive these notifications by un-checking the check box.


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Jay Lake cancer fundraiser: expect a 3D scan of my head while ...

Last week, I blogged about the fundraiser to help sf writer Jay Lake with his cancer therapy (he's hoping to have his genome sequenced and to find some new avenues for treatment) and expenses. The fundraiser involves sf writers and friends doing "public acts of whimsy" as progressively higher sums were raised.

The fundraiser is going great guns, and I've thrown in my own "act of whimsy," which was unlocked overnight: because the fundraiser has crossed the $35K mark, I will "release a a CC-BY scan of my head while recreating any funny expression that John 'Rubberface' Scalzi can photograph himself making."

There are still more whimsical acts to be unlocked, all the way up to $100K ("Jay! The Musical!").

Sequence a Science Fiction Writer


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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Home Affordability Prompts Construction And Homebuilder Stock ...

Video Walkthrough Tour of the Model House in the NEW Liberty Hall Subdivision ? New Construction Model House by Ryan Homes presented by Virginia Real Estate Solutions at RE/MAX Assured Properties 434-220-7133 Affordable 100% Energy Star Certified Townhomes in Western Albemarle County built by Ryan Homes. Liberty Hall features attractive townhomes suitable for anyone, with an open floor plot perfect for entertaining, family dinners, or just hanging out with friends, you will delight in calling this townhome home. Additionally, this inviting community is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and with-in walking distance to the groundbreaking new Harris Teeter, banks, doctors? offices, shops, 24 hour fitness center and dining. Also known for its convenience, Liberty Hall is located only 10 miles from UVA, minutes from I-64 and Rt. 250 and only 15 minutes from Downtown Charlottesville and Waynesboro. What started in 1948 as a small, family-run business in Pittsburgh has evolved into one of the top five home builders in the nation. Today, Ryan Homes builds new homes in twenty-five metropolitan areas in fourteen states and the nation?s capital. We?re a proud member of the NVR family, a distinguished group that also includes NVHomes, Fox Ridge Homes, and NVR Mortgage. To see other Ryan Homes available for sale visit

Minneapolis, MN (PRWEB) September 18, 2012

NASDAQ stock market news closed yesterday maintaining last weeks records reflecting new demand for home builders and contractors in the repair and home remodeling business. Homebuilder?s benchmarks rose to new multi-year highs on Friday after the Federal Reserve announced huge plans to boost the economy with quantitative easing. Data on housing stock shows homebuilders with major gains, homebuilders? stock soared 2.1%. Among the stocks, KB Home, The Ryland Group, Inc., Lennar Corporation , D.R. Horton, Inc., PulteGroup, Inc. and NVR, Inc. jumped 5.7%, 5.7%, 3.8%, 3.3%, 3.1% and 0.9% respectively.

?Given the enormous amount of government and Federal action we have seen so far in 2012, the housing market has stabilized. Given the demand for more homes, it is an exciting time for us to start building new construction homes again,? says Butch Sprenger, owner of Destiny Homes. New construction is increasing and with homebuilders stock surging, requests for luxury homes, in particular, are certainly on the rise.

The following recent reports, added to the sharp increase in housing stocks, make for an undeniable argument that homeownership is extremely affordable today.



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Simple Tricks To Spam-Proof Your Emails Productivity Whiz

I recently sent a mass mail highlighting my monthly posts in which I also mentioned I would write about the tax benefits of life and health insurance products. Within 24 hours I get an unsolicited advertisement from an insurance company. How did the insurance company find out what I had written?

Understanding ?Botnets? and ways to avoid

Firstly, some background. I sent my mass mail using Gmail. Google does not sell personal information to private parties as its business model depends on inserting relevant text ads alongside the mails we read. Google also has a powerful spam filter and it also allows us to report spam. So how did I get the very relevant advertisement despite that? This is what I think happened. I sent a mass mailer that contained a lot of email addresses. Even if one of my recipient?s computer was infected with a virus, that computer could have been used as a zombie spam sending machine to automatically send spam to all the listed contacts. Cyber criminals use a network of such zombie computers called a ?botnet? in order to scan emails for keywords and send spam. In my case it was an ad related to insurance products. You might get a travel or horoscope or some other tempting ads based on the keywords of your emails. The good news is that there is no need to be worried about cyber criminals. If we take some simple precautions like updating our anti-virus regularly, the criminals have no way of getting hold of our computers. It?s as simple as locking the door before leaving home!

Importance of a free Anti-virus

Any internet user?s computer, at home or office, is vulnerable if the anti-virus program is not updated regularly. In fact office computers are notorious breeding grounds for ?botnets? because companies care more about profits than security and they have a habit of waiting for an unfortunate incident to happen before taking action. More over, our browsing habits also attract a lot of spam especially when we use our emails unnecessarily online. Also, cyber criminals are getting more and more intelligent. I was taken aback by how relevant the spam was to the mail I had sent! So, as always, prevention is better than cure. And awareness is the key to prevention. Nobody educated me about the origin of spam. I know it because I?m interested in technology generally. I also watch BBC?s technology programme Click which almost a year back demonstrated how cyber criminals get hold of computers that do not have adequate anti-virus protection. The programme became controversial because Click got hold of a botnet of virus-infected computers even though it was for a brief period. It destroyed the botnet later.

There are simple ways of spam-proofing our emails. I encourage you to follow these guidelines for a spam-free email experience:

1.????? Use a good email service like Gmail.

2.????? Do not delete suspicious mails and advertisements but use the report spam option. Google automatically moves all such mails to trash. Moreover you also help Google block spam proactively for other users! Advanced users can use filters to block specific emails.

3.????? You could use a service called boxbe that only allows emails after entering an alphanumeric code. Boxbe is a good trap against machine generated spam but not suitable for users who are expecting a genuine job offer from a company. If the company that sends you a job offer by email does not bother to enter the alphanumeric code as required by boxbe you will not receive your mail! 4.????? Read my guide on how to protect your computer with a good browser, anti- virus and an anti-malware program using free programs. Read it here. ?Share your agony on email spam. Does it have a pattern? How do you take care of it?


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Rumored BlackBerry 10 Launch Dates and Pricing for Bell Canada We know that RIM...

Sorry, Readability was unable to parse this page for content.


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U.S. Hostage to Israel

This starts with the fact that American security forces are taking young Muslims they believe might be suseptible to grooming then they encourage and give them everything they need to become a terrorist.

Please watch this whole clip to understand how the US is pushed to fight wars on behalf of Israel and what happens to anyone who goes against the Jewish lobby.


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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Sweden is after two Brits for Chinese garlic smuggling

11 January 2013 | news Newsdesk

Swedish Prosecutors say they have issued international arrest warrants for two Britons suspected of smuggling over a ton of Chinese garlic into Sweden.

Mr. Thomas Ahlstrand, deputy chief prosecutor at Sweden's International Public Prosecutions Office,?said the men first shipped the garlic to Norway by boat, where it entered the country duty-free since it was considered to be in transit. They then drove the approximately 1.2 tons of garlic across the Swedish border, thus avoiding customs checks and Swedish import duties.

The garlic, worth an estimated ?8 million in total, was then distributed across the European Union.

Mr.?Ahlstrand described the smuggling as an "extensive operation for big money" that ran for about two years, and that there were "lorry loads" of the vegetable involved. "There were about 50 shipments involved amounting to around 1.2 million kilograms of garlic," Mr. Ahlstrand told The Daily Telegraph.

Mr. Ahlstrand said on 9 January 2013 that?the men avoided some 10 million euros (S$16.1 million) in Swedish taxes through the scheme.??A lengthy police investigation led to the identification of the two British allegedly behind the operation, which took place in 2009-2010, reports

"The two British suspects operated several companies in Europe, and they had one in Norway for the single purpose of smuggling garlic. The garlic was loaded onto commercial trucks and then driven into Sweden. The border is very open so it was easy to cross and once inside they could carry on to the cost." Although overshadowed by the drugs trade, garlic smuggling into the EU can prove to be a lucrative illicit business, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Original sources:


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Aaron Gitler, PhD - Stanford University School of Medicine

Start: 4pm End: 5pm Location: Chilcott?Auditorium Details: BIOCHEMISTRY DEPARTMENT SEMINAR "High-Throughput Genetic Screens to Define Mechanisms of Human Neurodegenerative Diseases" Aaron Gitler, PhD - Associate Professor of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4 pm in Chilcott Auditorium Host: Surachai Supattapone Refreshments available outside Chilcott Auditorium at 3:45 pm ****Please remember**** Advance Transit Blue Line shuttle departs from DHMC and Geisel School of Medicine every 15 minutes. The DHMC stop is the new East Entrance, adjacent to the Cancer Center. The DMS stop is the Remsen/Vail circle. Contact: Jocelyn Colena, 650-1616 Updated?by: Jocelyn R. Colena on: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:07pm ? Email this event to yourself Invite a friend to this event ? Edit this Event


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Friday, 11 January 2013

Spain arrests 2 over suspected Iran nuclear export

MADRID (AP) ? Spanish police have arrested two people and seized equipment made by a Spanish company that was to be illegally shipped to Iran for use in its nuclear program, officials said Friday.

Police officers stopped a tractor trailer at a highway toll booth in the northern town of Durango on Wednesday and after an inspection arrested the two people and seized the cargo, an Interior Ministry statement said. It said the police "dismantled a ring trafficking material for the development of the Iranian nuclear program."

The seized objects included 44 valves made of an alloy "containing more than 25 percent nickel and 20 percent chromium by weight, which ... makes them particularly suitable for use in the nuclear industry," the ministry said. It said police also confiscated mounting accessories, export documents to Iran, bank statements and computer information.

The ministry identified the Spanish company as Fluval, which was founded in the 1970s and is located in the northern town of Amurrio.

In a statement supplied to The Associated Press, the company denied any wrongdoing. It denied trying to supply parts to Iran in violation of international law and said it manufactures high-technology valves for oil and gas. "The valves cannot be used in the nuclear industry," Fluval said.

"Fluval denies having committed any criminal act," the statement said, adding that the company "has always conducted its business in compliance with international laws."

The United Nations, European Union and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and have gone after people dealing in "dual-use technology," which can have both civilian and military applications. Iran denies any interest in nuclear arms.

Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at energy production, but many Western countries have accused it of being a cover for weapons development.


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Conservative Radio Host Tells California Gov. Jerry Brown He?s Not Going To Kiss His Butt

As NewsBusters readers know all too well, Democratic elected officials across the fruited plain are used to softball interviews from their adoring media.

That?s not what California Governor Jerry Brown got Wednesday when conservative talk radio host Larry Elder told him, ?You?re unhappy because I?m not kissing your butt. I?m not going to do it? (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

read more

Source: blogs

This entry was posted in Conservatives and tagged 'Going, Brown, butt, California, Conservative, Gov., He's, host, Jerry, Kiss, Radio, Tells on by Politifreak.


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Warner wins legal victory for control of Superman

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ? Just in time for the summer release of a hoped-for blockbuster movie "Man of Steel," Warner Bros. won a second significant legal victory Thursday giving it complete commercial control of the lucrative Superman franchise.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals unanimously ruled that the heirs of Superman's co-creator Jerome Siegel must abide by a 2001 letter written by the family's attorney accepting Warner Bros.' offer for their 50 percent share of Superman. Though the five-page letter was never formalized into a contract, the appeals court said it was still binding.

"Statements from the attorneys for both parties establish that the parties had undertaken years of negotiations, that they had resolved the last outstanding point in the deal during a conversation on Oct. 15, 2001, and that the letter accurately reflected the material terms they had orally agreed to on that day," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the panel.

The ruling Thursday undoes a 2008 trial court decision ordering Warner Bros. to share an undetermined amount of money earned since 1999 with the heirs, and to give the family control of key components of the Superman story, including his costume. If that decision were to stand, the studio would have had to negotiate a new costly royalty agreement with the family.

"The court's decision paves the way for the Siegel finally to receive the compensation they negotiated for and which DC has been prepared to pay for over a decade," Warner Bros. said in a prepared statement, referring to its DC Comics division. "We are extremely pleased that Superman's adventures can continue to be enjoyed across all media platforms worldwide for generations to come."

The family's attorney, Marc Toberoff, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Toberoff said earlier that he would appeal another significant Warner Bros. victory won in October involving the family of Superman's other creator, Joseph Shuster, and their bid for half the commercial rights. Toberoff also represents the Shuster heirs, who lost their bid to retain a 50 percent share of Superman.

A federal judge in Los Angeles had ruled that Shuster's sister and brother relinquished any chance to reclaim Superman copyrights in exchange for annual pension payments from DC Comics. U.S. District Judge Otis Wright noted in that case that the families of both creators have been paid in excess of $4 million since 1978, plus undefined bonuses and medical benefits.

In April, the $412 check that DC Comics wrote in 1938 to acquire Superman and other creative works by Shuster and Siegel sold for $160,000 in an online auction.

Associated Press


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Thursday, 10 January 2013

Global Economics Monthly: Not Beyond Hope: Japan and TPP

Volume II | Issue 1 | January 2013

George Bernard Shaw called second marriage ?the triumph of hope over experience.?? In restoring the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its leader Shinzo Abe to power last month, Japanese voters seemed to be sending the opposite message: after three years of vesting their hopes in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), with disappointing results, they opted to fall back on the LDP?s greater experience in governing.?

Abe himself seems to have learned from his previous, unhappy experience as prime minister in 2006-07.? In his first public remarks after taking back the job in late December, he said, ?There is no future for a country which has given up on growth.?? The sentiment marked a refreshing change not just from the DPJ?s focus on austerity, but from Abe?s own disinterest in economic affairs during his earlier run in office.? An older and wiser Abe is right to pay more attention to Japan?s economic health ? and right that more growth is what the patient needs ? but his policy prescriptions to date will not be enough to produce the lasting recovery he is hoping for.?


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Jobless claims rise, but jobs market recovery intact

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, but details of the report suggested the jobs market continued to grow at a moderate pace.

Other data suggested the economy remained on a steady growth path, with sales at wholesalers rising by the most in more than 1-1/2 years in November, keeping inventories balanced.

Initial claims for state jobless aid increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 371,000. The prior week's figure was revised to show 5,000 fewer applications than previously reported.

Claims tend to be very volatile around this time of the year because of the holidays and seasonal layoffs, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the labor market's health.

While claims increased last week, there was nothing in the data to suggest a deterioration in labor market conditions.

"Jobless claims data continue to suggest steady but modest U.S. employment gains," said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets in Toronto.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a better measure of labor market trends, increased 6,750 to 365,750, still at a level consistent with steady job gains.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.


A Labor Department analyst said there was nothing unusual in state level claims data and that no states had been estimated. He noted, however, that jobless claims on an unadjusted basis tend to peak in the second week of January and the rise in the week ended January 5 was a build-up to that.

Economists said it would take several more weeks before the data are free of seasonal distortions.

The labor market has been gradually improving, with job gains last year averaging 153,000 per month, little changed from 2011. That has not been enough to significantly cut the unemployment rate which ended the year at 7.8 percent.

A second report from the Labor Department showed job openings were unchanged at 3.7 million in November. Layoffs, however, declined and there was an increase in the number of people voluntarily leaving their jobs -- both signs of improving labor market conditions.

Job growth has been hobbled by uncertainty over fiscal policy. Economists said a last-minute deal by the U.S. Congress to avoid some of the $600 billion in deep government spending cuts and higher taxes, or the fiscal cliff, only eliminated part of the uncertainty.

"A sharp increase in hiring seems unlikely as the spending side of the debate remains unresolved and higher taxes on most households are likely to weigh modestly on consumer spending in the near term," said Jim Baird, chief investment strategist at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

A second report from the Commerce Department showed sales at wholesalers rebounded 2.3 percent in November, the largest gain since March 2011, after falling 0.9 percent in October.

Wholesale inventories rose 0.6 percent after advancing 0.3 percent in October.

Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product changes and accounted for almost a quarter of the economy's annual 3.1 percent growth pace in the third quarter.

Economists expect a drawdown on inventories in the fourth quarter, which would be a drag on growth. They largely left their GDP forecasts, ranging from 0.5 percent to 2.9 percent, unchanged after the wholesale inventory data.

The claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits under regular state programs after an initial week of aid tumbled 127,000 to 3.11 million in the week ended December 29, the lowest level since July 2008.

Highlighting the typical volatility at the start of the year, the last time the so-called continuing claims fell so much was in January 2011 and economists expect some correction in coming weeks.

The insured unemployment rate fell to 2.4 percent, its lowest since July 2008.

"The good news is the underlying jobs market is improving," said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "The bad news is we have a large number of people who are unemployed for a long time and unemployment insurance does not go on forever. So, some people might be falling off the rolls."

(Editing by Andrea Ricci)


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Invisible Driver Prank: Coming to a Drive-Thru Near You!


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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Bloggers Wanted For Valentine's Coachlicious Giveaway Event ...

Coachlicious Button

Valentine?s Day Coachlicious Event

Hosted by Mom Powered Media

Prize: Coach Madison Floral Handbag

Event dates: 1/31 ? 2/14

Free Blog Event! BLOGGERS SIGN UP HERE! If you join please say that Valerie Gray sent you.

Tags: giveaway event

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Australia's hottest day hampers wildfire fight

Blazes raging across Australia have already destroyed more than 100 homes and are threatening more as dry, hot weather persists.'s Dara Brown reports.

By NBC News staff and wire reports

Firefighters battled scores of wildfires raging across southeast Australia on Tuesday as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that record-level, blistering temperatures and high winds had led to "catastrophic" conditions in some areas.

"We are shaping up for one of the worst fire danger days on record," New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. "You don't get conditions worse than this. We are at the catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option."

Catastrophic threat level is the most severe rating applicable.

Firefighters hope cooler weather sweeping up the Australian east coast late Tuesday, which dramatically dropped temperatures in a matter of hours in some coastal towns, would ease the incendiary conditions. Monday was the hottest day on record for Australia, with the average temperature across the continent reaching 104.6 degrees F., Australia's?7 News network reported.

The?Sydney Morning Herald reported?that the unprecedented temperatures left weather forecasters having to add new colors - deep purple and pink - to their charts.

No deaths had been reported, although officials in Tasmania were still trying to find about 100 residents who had been missing since a fire tore through the small town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, last week, destroying around 90 homes. On Tuesday, police said no bodies were found during preliminary checks of the ruined houses.

Australia faces 'catastrophic' days

Wildfires have razed 50,000 acres of forests and farmland across southern Tasmania since Friday. In New South Wales, the country's most populous state, the fires had burned through more than 64,000 acres of land.

More than 130 fires were blazing across New South Wales, though only a few dozen houses were under threat by early evening. One fire was threatening about 30 homes near the small town of Cooma, south of the capital of Canberra. Cooma-Monaro shire mayor Dean Lynch told Australia's Sky News some residents had evacuated to the nearby town of Nimmitabel.

Strong winds were hampering efforts to bring the fires under control. Wind gusts more than 60 mph were recorded in some parts of the state.

PhotoBlog: Wildfires in Tasmania

Arsonists have been responsible for some of the fires, 7 News reported. In western Sydney on Tuesday, three people were charged with deliberately starting a fire, the network said.

All state forests and national parks were closed as a precaution and total fire bans were in place with temperatures surpassing 113 degrees F. in some areas.

One volunteer firefighter suffered severe burns to his hands and face while fighting a grass fire near Gundaroo village, about 140 miles southwest of Sydney, on Monday. He was flown to a hospital in Sydney for treatment, and his condition had improved Tuesday, Fitzsimmons said.

More coverage from 7 News

Wildfires are common during the Australian summer. In February 2009, hundreds of fires across Victoria state killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

The Associated Press, Reuters and 7 News contributed to this report; 7 News is NBC's Australian partner.

More world stories from NBC News:

Follow World News from on Twitter and Facebook


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Analysis: Titan's taste for small funds seen behind its SAC exit

BOSTON (Reuters) - Money manager Titan Advisors has decided that bigger isn't always better.

The firm, which manages about $3 billion on behalf of pension funds and wealthy individuals, has been shifting some of the money it invests with roughly two dozen hedge funds away from some larger funds into smaller ones, according to letters it has sent to investors.

One of the most noteworthy moves was its decision to pull its money from Steven A. Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors at a time when the $14 billion hedge fund is in the spotlight in an ongoing insider trading investigation.

The decision by Titan, a so-called hedge fund of funds, turned some heads on Wall Street because the firm's founder, George Fox, is a friend of Cohen's and his Port Chester, New York-based investment firm is one of SAC Capital's oldest outside investors.

But over a year ago, Titan began shifting some of the money it invests away from larger funds into smaller ones.

Titan is in the process of redeeming money from Bill Ackman's $11 billion hedge fund firm Pershing Square Capital Management, and in 2011 pulled all of its money out of $34 billion Brevan Howard Asset Management, one of the world's largest funds, according to the investor letters. Reuters reviewed 11 letters sent in the past two years.

Titan recently allocated money to GS Gamma, a New York-based fund with less than $1 billion under management, and BHR Capital, also in New York, with roughly $1.5 billion in assets.

Titan, according to a person familiar with the firm, had between $75 million and $100 million invested with SAC Capital.

Officials with Titan, who declined to comment, have not yet sent investors a letter explaining their decision to redeem from SAC Capital. The decision to exit, which investors were notified of in late December, came a few weeks after Mathew Martoma was charged with insider trading while working for Cohen's firm. He has pleaded not guilty.

Altogether, seven current and former SAC employees have been charged or implicated in the insider trading probe into hedge funds and their sources of trading tips, and the firm itself - along with the 56-year-old Cohen - has been drawing renewed scrutiny. Cohen has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Over the past year, Titan has told investors it is concerned about the ability of large hedge funds, even ones it has invested with for a long time, to continue outperforming the markets.

In a March letter reviewed by Reuters, Fox said the firm is "maintaining a preference for smaller managers" because over time "bigger size threatens performance." He added: "A central part of ongoing due diligence is asking ourselves, 'Are the best days ahead for this manager?'"

Last year, SAC Capital's flagship fund was up 12 percent, compared with a meager 3.17 percent gain for the average hedge fund. But SAC Capital, which charges some of the highest fees in the $2 trillion hedge fund industry, lagged behind the 13.4 percent gain posted by the S&P 500 index.

Pershing Square also was up 12 percent in 2012.

Officials with SAC Capital, Pershing Square and Brevan Howard declined to comment on Titan's move.

The redemption from SAC Capital comes as Titan's own performance has been modest at best. Last year, the firm's flagship fund of funds was up 6.97 percent through the end of November, said a person familiar with Titan. In 2011, the fund was largely unchanged.

Titan would not be the first money manager to lose an appetite for large multi-billion dollar hedge funds. The $242.7 billion California Public Employees Retirement System, one of the biggest pension funds in the world, has long had a taste for smaller, less well-known hedge funds.

Some industry analysts have noted that as hedge funds get bigger it becomes more difficult to generate the same kind of returns they delivered when the funds first launched and were smaller.

Some experts said they thought the insider trading scrutiny may still have played a role in Titan's SAC decision.

"On the face of it, it sounds like they were being very proactive in pulling out of SAC, but there may have been other reasons at work too," said a person who advises hedge fund investors and is familiar with Titan Advisors.

Federal authorities left little doubt they were moving significantly closer to Cohen when they arrested Martoma in November and charged him with using inside information to generate profits and avoid losses totaling $276 million in shares of two drug stocks, Elan Corp PLC and Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer .

Federal authorities said Cohen, as owner of SAC Capital, signed off on the trades, even though the billionaire manager wasn't charged with any wrongdoing.

Ever since SAC's name first arose in the insider trading probe several years ago, Fox has been loyal to Cohen.

At the end of 2010, Titan quit Loch Capital Management, one of four firms raided by federal authorities in November of that year, but it stuck with SAC Capital even after the hedge fund acknowledged getting a subpoena for information.

For now, Titan's redemption from SAC Capital does not appear to be setting off a run for the exits by outside investors, who account for $6.3 billion of SAC's money (the rest is owned by Cohen and other insiders, such as employees).

(Reporting By Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Matthew Goldstein, Martin Howell and Leslie Adler)


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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Gas prices staying down as 2013 starts

(AP) ? U.S. drivers are hoping 2013 doesn't start off like 2012 at the gas pump. So far, so good.

Gasoline now averages $3.30 a gallon, up about half a penny since Jan. 1. A year ago, gas rose about 10 cents in the first week or so because of a jump in oil prices, and it nearly hit $4 in early April.

Oil prices should dictate what happens next with pump prices. Economic factors affecting oil are mixed ? economies in the U.S. and China are showing modest improvement, while Europe remains in recession.

The wild card is the Middle East. In the past two years, threats to shipments of oil from the region drove crude prices higher during the winter. That led to a surge in pump prices by spring.

On Monday benchmark crude rose 10 cents to finish at $93.19 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 9 cents to end at $111.40 per barrel in London.

Americans paid an average $3.60 for a gallon gas in 2012, eclipsing the record of $3.51 a gallon set in 2011, according to AAA. Oil prices remained high and unplanned outages plagued refineries across the U.S., including some in the Gulf Coast and in the New York area that were hit by Hurricane Isaac and Superstorm Sandy.

The Energy Department expects gas to average $3.43 a gallon this year. That's based on an anticipated decline in Brent crude, which is a benchmark for oil imported on the U.S. East Coast, to an average of $104 a barrel.

Drivers in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming are paying below $3 a gallon on average. Hawaii remains the only state above $4. New York is the second-highest at an average $3.75 a gallon.

In other energy futures trading in New York:

? Wholesale gasoline added 1 cent to finish at $2.78 a gallon.

? Heating oil rose 1 cent to end at $3.03 a gallon.

? Natural gas dropped 2 cents to finish at $3.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Associated Press


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Get more referrals by helping people understand your expertise ...

3 simple ideas to get more referrals without discussing price.

Do those you network with KNOW that you do the job properly, or do you just tell them?

I?m sure that you?re saying yes, we are very good at what we do. We always do a good job. Possibly you?re even asking why I ask such a daft question?

The most meaningless marketing statement EVER

Have you ever thought about some of the claims made in marketing statements?

?High quality?

?We will do your accounts properly?

?We are proactive accountants who save you tax??

Stop for a moment: Networking is marketing, and when networking claims are being made. Have you ever heard networkers in the room saying things like this? Next time you sit through the never ending round of 60 seconds, count how many statements like this get made.

Your problem is that every firm out there says this sort of thing.?Can you HONESTLY find me a firm that doesn?t say that they do a good job? The problem is that everybody makes this claim; so how are those you network with supposed to tell the difference? Are most people you network with equipped to tell the difference between a good and a bad accountant?

My visit to the Doctors

In ?how-my-doctors-visit-can-inspire-confidence-in-your-clients??I talked about my trips to the Doctor and the elements of his service which inspired trust (if want to learn about 3 simple things to inspire trust ? just click)

When I sat down in his surgery I was feeling more comfortable, then I saw a Sphygmomanometer on his desk. That?s right, proper old fashioned one, this made me relax and feel good! I?ve had my blood pressure taken by machines that seem to generate results that are all over the place. Every time I?ve ever had my blood pressure taken by a ?craftsman? with a ?proper Sphygmomanometer? it?s worked well. I now have a mental association between a proper Sphygmomanometer and good care (wrongly or rightly).

I?m sure I?m not the only one, there are things I associate with quality in many professions. How about you?

How can you assure your prospects that you do the job properly?

  1. What things are associated with quality in your profession? How do you use / display them? How do you get that message over when you?re networking? That will help increase referrals without you making claims that get ignored.
  2. Now concentrate on the way you develop rapport with those in the room. How do you build trust with them (you do know that people do NOT buy from people, don?t you? ?? click if not)
  3. Most importantly: You need to teach the people you network with what a really good job entails! The people you meet are very unlikely to have the skills to tell one statement about ?we?re best? from another. That means that you will not be believed! If they can?t differentiate on quality, their choice will be pot luck (or worse). When you?re networking, how can you teach people what is involved with a good lawyer/ accountant/ your profession. Know that they can tell the difference between good and bad, they?ll be able to refer you with more confidence. If you need more persuading on this, click to read ?Why you must ensure your prospects know real quality when they see it?

What says quality and care in your profession? How can you educate your networking contacts?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach.?I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here to order your copy.


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"Fly Closer to the Sun"

"Fly Closer to the Sun""Fly Closer to the Sun" The tale of Icarus tells of a young man who flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky when his wings melted. It's a tale of caution, warning us to remember our limitations. Seth Godin, through a video created Squarespace, want you to know this is a load of crap.

Knowing your limits creates a ceiling for your accomplishments. It's especially silly because you can't actually know where any barrier on your personal abilities actually lies. We find out what we're capable of by pushing those perceived limitations and taking the risk of flying too close to the sun. Sometimes we'll fail and sometimes we'll succeed, but we'll always learn from the process.

The Icarus Deception | Squarespace via Swissmiss


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Monday, 7 January 2013

Nuance and ZTE annouce multi-year collaboration on voice-enabled Android devices

Nuance and ZTE annouce multiyear collaboration on voiceenabled Android devices

ZTE and Nuance have entered into another multi-year deal for voice activated services on ZTE devices. This time around, though, we'll see a larger focus on in-car services using ZTE's yet to be released Car Mode app -- which will be available in more than 25 languages at launch. Like most in-car setups the focus is of course remaining safe while driving but not giving up the interaction with the services on your mobile you've come to love. Using Nuance's stellar voice to text magic drivers will have access to text messages, calling features and music control without the need for a data connection. Car mode is activated with a wake-up word at which point you'll be assailed with a soft spoken barrage of information from your set without requiring eyes or fingers-on to get tasks done. Users can quickly interrupt any current command or incoming audio as well as put the system in a "do not disturb" mode if you just need a little peace til you arrive at your destination. Car Mode will come pre-installed on ZTE sets shipping this year.

Continue reading Nuance and ZTE annouce multi-year collaboration on voice-enabled Android devices

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Self Publishing Is Not A Trouble Free Work ? Writing and Speaking

Being a self publisher is not an effortless listing, it means that you will be in complete control of not only the real creating of the book yet additionally you will certainly be calling the shots on every step in the procedure of your books manufacturing.

This really isn?t meant to scare you away from self publishing your book. Equally you will certainly be able to make the choices on exactly how you desire your book offered you could likewise choose, as a self publisher, how much support you want to obtain.

Aided Self Publishing indicates that you now have the alternatives to choose from when it comes to publishing your book without the necessity of handing over the composition to a large posting stored and trusting in them to inform you exactly what is finest for you and your book.

Without the popularity recently of self publishing comes companies that provide a large assortment of alternatives to decide on, from modifying sites to printing and everything in between. In a sense it resembles selecting which packages to contribute to your satellite TELEVISION carrier?s solution. You may either decide on an all incorporating plan or you could include the items that are necessary to you as you go along.

Anybody could release a book. Essentially, the right to release is assured to you by the Free speech of the Constitution of the United States. You do not need to get a permit or register with anyone to publish a book. Nonetheless it does expense money to release a book.

Book publishing in the past was very costly however without today?s modern technology it is a lot more budget friendly. An author, in meaning, is a person who sets up the money to have something given the public. So as the author, it is going to cost something to obtain your book out to the masses.

It truly falls to you in some cases how much you are willing or able to invest on publishing your book based upon what you are capable of handling your own self and exactly what you may need a little aid with. One thing to remember is, this is your baby and even though you wish to be involved in taking your vision and delivering it to fact, there are some points at the same time that you might want to have another person take care of in order that you may generate the best finished item that you possibly could and provide your book the chance it ought to have.

If you want to know about self publishing, you may read our Self Publishing blog

Tags: self book publishing, self publishing


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McConnell rules out raising taxes, points to spending 'addiction'

As the debt ceiling debate heats up, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said additional tax hikes are out of the question, and the most important issue the country faces is spending.

By Reuters / January 6, 2013

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., followed by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during 'fiscal cliff' negotiations at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 30. As talks turn to the debt ceiling, McConnell indicated Sunday, Republican lawmakers would not consider additional taxes.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP


Senate?Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday ruled out raising tax revenues on top of the tax hike on the wealthy in the "fiscal cliff" deal, and said the full focus must now be on spending cuts to curb U.S. deficits.

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"The tax issue is finished, over, completed," the?Kentucky?Republican said on ABC's "This Week."

"That's behind us. Now the question is what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future, and that's our spending addiction."

McConnell used the Sunday morning news shows to lay out his position in the upcoming fight over raising the U.S. debt ceiling and funding the government that is expected to come to a head in March, just three months after the struggle to avert the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff of severe tax hikes and spending cuts that economists said could have brought a recession.

Republicans want big spending cuts in programs including?Medicare?healthcare for the elderly and the Social Security pension program as a condition for raising the U.S. borrowing limit. President?Barack Obama?has said he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, arguing thatCongress?must pay the bills for spending it approved.

McConnell said the?White House?should start working with?Congress?immediately to determine spending, before the March deadline to raise the federal borrowing limit brings another fiscal crisis.

"We could do things very quickly, these are not new issues," he said on ABC.


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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Fugitive Saddam deputy lends support to Iraq Sunni protesters

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - The most senior member of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's entourage still at large has encouraged Sunni Muslim anti-government protesters to stand their ground until Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is toppled.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri heads Saddam's Baath party, which was banned after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew the Sunni dictator and empowered majority Shi'ite Muslims.

Over the past two weeks, tens of thousands of Sunnis, some waving Saddam-era flags, have staged demonstrations in a show of anger against Maliki, whom they accuse of marginalizing their community and monopolizing power.

"The people of Iraq and all its nationalist and Islamic forces support you until the realization of your just demands for the fall of the Safavid-Persian alliance," said Douri, addressing the protesters in footage broadcast on Alarabiya television.

Safavid is a reference to the ruling dynasty of Shi'ite Iran from the 16th to 18th centuries that at times also controlled parts of modern-day Iraq.

Since Maliki came to office in 2006, Iraq has edged closer to neighboring Iran, which wields strong influence over several Iraqi Shi'ite parties.

Surrounded by men in military uniform, Douri said the Baath party leadership was considering launching a campaign to "justly and decisively" punish civilians and soldiers who supported what he described as Iran's "Safavid project" for Iraq.

"It is a clear plan to destroy Iraq and annex it to Iran," he said. "We warn those traitors, agents and spies ... who support the dangerous project ... that the national resistance will confront them before Maliki and his evil alliance".

The authenticity of the video could not be verified. Douri said he was speaking from the Iraqi province of Babil.

After the 2003 invasion, Douri was ranked sixth on the U.S. military's list of 55 most wanted Iraqis and a $10 million reward was offered for his capture. U.S. officials accused him of organizing the insurgency that peaked in 2005-07.

Douri was the deputy head of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam, and took over the Baath Party leadership after Saddam was executed in 2006.

He has seldom been seen since 2003. In a statement in 2009, he called on Sunni insurgent groups to move into politics.

(Reporting by Isabel Coles; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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Hearing may be 'mini-trial' in theater shootings

FILE - This file photo provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office shows James Holmes, who faces faces multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July 20 Colorado theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. and hasn't yet entered a plea. Prosecutors and defense lawyers were heading back to court Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 in advance of a crucial hearing in the case. The preliminary hearing, which starts Monday, Jan. 7, will give the public its first officially sanctioned look at much of the evidence against Holmes. Holmes' lawyers have said he suffers from mental illness. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, State District Judge William B. Sylvester will decide if the evidence is sufficient to put Holmes on trial. (AP Photo/Arapahoe County Sheriff, File)

FILE - This file photo provided by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office shows James Holmes, who faces faces multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder in the July 20 Colorado theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. and hasn't yet entered a plea. Prosecutors and defense lawyers were heading back to court Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 in advance of a crucial hearing in the case. The preliminary hearing, which starts Monday, Jan. 7, will give the public its first officially sanctioned look at much of the evidence against Holmes. Holmes' lawyers have said he suffers from mental illness. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, State District Judge William B. Sylvester will decide if the evidence is sufficient to put Holmes on trial. (AP Photo/Arapahoe County Sheriff, File)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) ? The suspect in the Colorado movie theater killings returns to court this week for a hearing that might be the closest thing to a trial the victims and their families will get to see.

James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, is charged with killing 12 people and injuring 70 by opening fire in a darkened theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora last July.

At a weeklong preliminary hearing starting Monday, prosecutors will outline their case against Holmes, the first official public disclosure of their evidence. The judge will then determine whether to send the case to trial.

Legal analysts say that evidence appears to be so strong that Holmes may well accept a plea agreement before trial. In such cases, the preliminary hearing can set the stage for a deal by letting each side assess the other's strengths and weaknesses, said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and now a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Preliminary hearings "are often the first step to resolving the case, a mini-trial so both sides can see the writing on the wall," Levenson said.

Judges rarely throw out a case at this stage because prosecutors must only meet a "probable cause" standard ? much lower than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard for a guilty verdict at trial, said Mimi Wesson, a professor of law at the University of Colorado Law School.

Holmes, who faces more than 160 counts including first-degree murder and attempted murder, could have waived his right to a preliminary hearing, allowing lawyers on both sides to prepare for trial. But defense lawyers sometimes go through with the hearing because it gives them a clearer picture of prosecution evidence.

"In this case, I think it likely that the genuine purpose of the hearing would be information-gathering by the defense," Wesson said.

Court officials expect many survivors and family members of the dead to attend the preliminary hearing, along with scores of spectators and reporters. At least two overflow rooms are being prepared where the hearing can be observed by video and audio feeds.

District Judge William B. Sylvester has imposed a gag order on attorneys and investigators, and many court documents have been filed under seal, so little is known about Holmes' path from promising graduate student to suspect in a mass murder.

The few details that have been made public suggest a disturbing descent.

Holmes enrolled in the University of Colorado, Denver Ph.D. program in neuroscience in 2011. In the spring of 2012, authorities say, he began buying weapons, high-capacity magazines, ammunition, explosives and combat gear. At some point in the school year, he began seeing a university psychiatrist. He failed an oral exam on June 7 and withdrew from the university three days later.

He was arrested outside the theater shortly after the July 20 shootings. Federal authorities have said he entered the theater with a ticket and is believed to have propped open a door, slipped out to his car and returned with his weapons.

Hours later, investigators found his apartment booby-trapped with potentially deadly explosives, police said.

In previous hearings ? many witnessed by victims and survivors ? Holmes' appearance and behavior ranged from bizarre to unremarkable. On his first day in court, his hair was a shocking orange-red, his face was covered with stubble and he seemed to be in a daze.

By last week, his hair was a natural-looking brown and he wore a full beard. He sat quietly and seemed to be aware of the proceedings.

Holmes could get the death penalty or life in prison without parole if he goes to trial and is convicted of murder. He could avoid the death penalty if his lawyers argue he is mentally ill or innocent by reason of insanity.

Holmes' mental health is expected to be a major factor whether his case ends in a plea agreement or goes to trial.

His lawyers have told the judge that Holmes was mentally ill, and court records indicate they may call witnesses in the preliminary hearing to testify about his mental health. The defense team has not said whether Holmes would enter an insanity plea.

An insanity plea is different from the competency argument used for Jared Loughner, who pleaded guilty to killing six people and wounding 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona in 2011.

A judge ruled in May 2011 that Loughner was mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment. After Loughner spent more than a year in treatment, the judge ruled he had become competent, and Loughner accepted a plea agreement that carried a sentence of life in prison without parole instead of execution.

The decision on whether to seek the death penalty will be up to the new district attorney for Arapahoe County, George Brauchler, who was elected in November and takes office Tuesday, after the preliminary hearing begins. Brauchler has not indicated what he will do.

A spokeswoman for outgoing District Attorney Carol Chambers, who oversaw the filing of charges against Holmes, declined to comment.

If prosecutors do not seek the death penalty, and if Holmes is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-degree murder charges, he would face a mandatory sentence of life without parole.

Associated Press


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