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CHICAGO TEACHERS STRIKE IN BITTER CONTRACT DISPUTE

Tue, 11 Sep 2012 06:26:00 +0000

Public school teachers picket outside Amundsen High School in Chicago on the first day of a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The school is one of more than 140 schools in the Chicago Public Schools' "Children First" contingency plan, which feeds and houses students for four hours during the strike.CHICAGO (AP) -- For the first time in a quarter century, Chicago teachers walked out of the classroom Monday, taking a bitter contract dispute over evaluations and job security to the streets of the nation's third-largest city - and to a national audience - less than a week after most schools opened for fall.The walkout forced hundreds of thousands of parents to scramble for a place to send idle children and created an unwelcome political distraction for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In a year when labor unions have been losing ground nationwide, the implications were sure to extend far beyond Chicago, particularly for districts engaged in similar debates.The two sides resumed negotiations Monday but failed to reach a settlement, meaning the strike will extend into at least a second day.Chicago School Board President David Vitale said board and union negotiators did not even get around to bargaining on the two biggest issues, performance evaluations or recall rights for laid-off teachers. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that was because the district did not change its proposals."This is a long-term battle that everyone's going to watch," said Eric Hanuskek, a senior fellow in education at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. "Other teachers unions in the United States are wondering if they should follow suit."The union had vowed to strike Monday if there was no agreement on a new contract, even though the district had offered a 16 percent raise over four years and the two sides had essentially agreed on a longer school day. With an average annual salary of $76,000, Chicago teachers are among the highest-paid in the nation, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.But negotiators were still divided on job security measures and a system for evaluating teachers that hinged in part on students' standardized test scores.The strike in a district where the vast majority of students are poor and minority put Chicago at the epicenter of a struggle between big cities and teachers unions for control of schools.Emanuel, who has sought major reforms while also confronting the district's $700 million budget shortfall, acknowledged his own fight with the union, even as he urged a quick resolution."Don't take it out on the kids of Chicago if you have a problem with me," he told reporters Monday.As negotiators resumed talks, thousands of teachers and their supporters took over several downtown streets during the Monday evening rush. Police secured several blocks around district headquarters as the crowds marched and chanted.The protesters planned to rally through the evening at an event that resembled a family street fair. Balloons, American flags and homemade signs hung above the crowd.Teacher Kimberly Crawford said she was most concerned about issues such as class size and the lack of air conditioning."It's not just about the raise," she said. "I've worked without a raise for two years."The strike quickly became part of the presidential campaign. Republican candidate Mitt Romney said teachers were turning their backs on students and Obama was siding with the striking teachers in his hometown.Obama's top spokesman said the president has not taken sides but is urging both the sides to settle quickly.Emanuel, who just agreed to take a larger role in fundraising for Obama's re-election, dismissed Romney's comments as "lip service."But one labor expert said that a major strike unfolding in the shadow of the November election could only hurt a president who desperately needs the votes of workers, including teachers, in battleground states."I can't imagine this is good for the president and something he can afford to have go on for more than a week," said Robert Bruno, a professor of labor a[...]



Michael Clarke Duncan of ‘Green Mile’ fame dies at 54

Tue, 04 Sep 2012 06:27:00 +0000

 Michael Clarke DuncanMichael Clarke Duncan -- best known for his Oscar-nominated role as a death row inmate who possessed magical healing powers in the 1999 film "The Green Mile" -- died on Monday at the age of 54, according to his fiancee Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.Duncan had been in a Los Angeles hospital since July 13 following a heart attack and died on Monday morning after close to two months of treatment.At 6-feet, 5-inches tall and approximately 300 pounds, Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his role as gentle giant prisoner John Coffey in "The Green Mile," also starring Tom Hanks. Duncan won the role, in part, due to a recommendation by Bruce Willis, who he worked with on 1998's "Armageddon." Duncan went on to appear with Willis in three more films -- "Breakfast of Champions," "The Whole Nine Yards" and "Sin City."Before he broke into acting, Duncan worked as a bodyguard for stars including Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G. -- whose 1997 death prompted him to quit that line of work.Duncan's career spanned three decades and included roles in other television and film titles including "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Married with Children," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "Living Single," "Bulworth," "Arli$$," "A Night at the Roxbury," "Sister, Sister," "Planet of the Apes," "CSI: NY," "Talladega Nights," "Two and a Half Men," "Bones," and most recently "The Challenger," which is yet to be released.Duncan was a prolific voice-over actor as well, lending his rumbling baritone to animated characters in "Kung Fu Panda," "King of the Hill," "Family Guy," "Green Lantern," and many others. The African American actor also played The Kingpin in 2003's "Daredevil," starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner -- a notable achievement seeing as the character in the original comics, on which the film is based, was always depicted as being white."The Green Mile" was nominated for four Oscars in 2000 and won 15 other awards including best supporting actor trophies for Duncan from the Black Reel Awards and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.Born and raised on Chicago's South Side and brought up by a single mother, Duncan is said to have resisted temptations of drugs and alcohol, instead focusing on school and acting. He worked digging ditches after attending community college, according to his biography on IMDb.com, then quit his job and moved to Hollywood, launching his acting career while in his thirties. More than three years ago, Duncan is said to have become a vegetarian, and appeared in a video for animal rights organization PETA earlier this year.News by YahooRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



As Hurricane Isaac pushes north, Gulf Coast slowly recovers

Sun, 02 Sep 2012 05:17:00 +0000

Angela Serpas cries as she sees her flooded home for the first time since Hurricane Isaac pushed a 10-foot storm surge into Braithwaite, La., Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012.NEW ORLEANS (AP) — As the remnants of Hurricane Isaac pushed their way up the Mississippi valley on Saturday, spinning off severe thunderstorms and at least four tornadoes, some on the Gulf Coast were impatient with the pace of restoring power days after the storm dragged through the region.While New Orleans streets were bustling again and workers were returning to offshore oil rigs, thousands of evacuees couldn't return home to flooded low-lying areas of Louisiana and more than 400,000 sweltering electricity customers in the state remained without power.Meanwhile, the National Weather Service said two tornadoes touched down in rural areas of north-central Illinois and at least two touched down in rural southeast Missouri. There were no reports of damage in Illinois, and Missouri officials said some power lines caught on fire.The weather service said the storm would bring some drought relief to parts of the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. By midday Saturday, it had dumped up to 5 inches of rain in parts of Illinois and between 4 and 6 inches in parts of Missouri.In Louisiana, the number without power was down from more than 900,000. However, in heavily populated Jefferson Parish near New Orleans, parish president John Young said Entergy Corp. was too slow in restoring electricity."I don't see boots on the ground," said Young, who complained that he has seen repair trucks sitting idle in a staging area and fielded calls from residents and business owners complaining about a lack of progress."We've restored about 45 percent of our customers in about a day and a half, Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde said Saturday. He added that crews have come in from 24 states. "In many situations, crews have driven all day and have worked their 16-hour day and have to rest for the day."As of Saturday night, the company was reporting about 270,000 outages, most in Jefferson and Orleans parishes.New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he too was eager to get power back on. "Like everybody else, my patience is wearing thin," he said.On Saturday afternoon, St. Tammany Parish officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of areas south of the Pearl River diversion canal, for fear a lock on a canal will fail. Parish authorities said the order could affect anywhere from several hundred to 2,000 residents in the rural area north of Slidell, which is across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the lock. Parish spokeswoman Suzanne Parsons Stymiest said the parish got permission from the corps to relieve pressure on the structure by opening a valve that will allow a controlled flow of water through it.Parts of coastal Plaquemines Parish, where thousands were evacuated, remained under water. The National Weather Service has said Isaac dumped anywhere from 10 to 20 inches of rain on south Louisiana and south Mississippi.In the water-logged town of Lafitte, Mayor Tim Kerner was allowing property owners and residents to return and begin cleaning up.Meanwhile, Gulf of Mexico oil platforms were being repopulated after Isaac forced shutdown of most Gulf oil production.People stuck inside stuffy, powerless homes were comparatively lucky. The Louisiana governor's office said more than 4,000 were in state, local or Red Cross shelters as of Saturday morning and that doesn't count others who took refuge with friends, family or in hotels.LaPlace resident Roshonda Girrad was staying in a state-run shelter in Alexandria, 200 miles from her home. She was waiting for the chest-deep waters in her neighborhood to recede."The showers are horrible. The food is horrible," Girrad said. "I'm not from around here. I don't know what's going on. We're in the dark."Isaac dumped as much as 16 inches of rain in some spots, and about 500 people had to be rescued by boat or high-water vehicles.In New Orleans, most of the [...]



Police: 100-year-old driver hits 11 near LA school

Thu, 30 Aug 2012 05:44:00 +0000

A young victim is treated by Los Angeles city firefighters after a car driven by a 100-year-old went onto a sidewalk and plowed into a group of parents and children outside a South Los Angeles elementary school, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, in Los Angeles. Nine children and two adults were injured in the wreck.LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A 100-year-old man backed his car on to a sidewalk and hit 11 people, including nine children, across from an elementary school in South Los Angeles just after classes had ended Wednesday, authorities said.Four of the children were in critical condition when firefighters arrived but they were stabilized and were in serious condition at a hospital, city fire Capt. Jaime Moore said. Everyone was expected to survive, he said.The powder blue Cadillac backed slowly into the group of parents and children buying snacks from a sidewalk vendor, and the crowd banged on his windows and screamed for him to stop, but not before some of the children were trapped under the car, witnesses said.LA County-USC hospital spokeswoman Rose Saca said one child remained in critical but stable condition, another would remain for observation overnight and another would likely go home later in the day. Others were treated and released.Children's backpacks, shoes, candy and loose change were strewn about the scene behind a discount grocery store across from Main Street Elementary.Police identified the driver as Preston Carter and said he was being very cooperative.Carter talked to television reporters after the crash some five miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles. He said he has a driver's license and will be 101 years old Sept. 5."My brakes failed. It was out of control," Carter told KCAL-TV.Asked about hitting the children, Carter said: "You know I'm sorry about that. I wouldn't do that for nothing on earth. My sympathies for them."Carter was pulling out of the grocery store parking lot, but instead of backing into the street, he backed onto the sidewalk, police Capt. George Rodriguez said."I think it was a miscalculation on his part. The gentleman is elderly," Rodriguez said. "Obviously he is going to have some impairment on his decision making."Older drivers have been involved in other tragedies. In 2003, an 86-year-old man mistakenly stepped on the gas pedal of his car instead of the brake and then panicked, plowing into an open-air market in Santa Monica. Ten people were killed and 63 injured.According to California's Department of Motor Vehicles, people over age 70 must renew their driver's license in person, rather than via the Internet or by mail. Older drivers can also be required to take a supplemental driving test if they fail a vision exam, or if a police officer, a physician, or a family member raises questions about their ability to drive.Rodriguez said the collision was being investigated as an accident, and Carter was not under arrest. He has a valid driver's license, Rodriguez said.News by APRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



Neil Armstrong, the moon’s mystery man dies at 82

Wed, 29 Aug 2012 07:03:00 +0000

Neil Armstrong"A lot of people couldn't figure out Armstrong."With those words Tom Wolfe introduced Neil Armstrong, the astronaut hero of his nonfiction masterpiece, "The Right Stuff." Armstrong, of course, was a masterpiece himself: the commander of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and the first man ever to walk on the moon. Armstrong died Saturday from complications relating to heart surgery. He was 82.All these decades, Armstrong, the lunar Adam, has represented a code his admirers knew better than to try to crack. Not that, early on, great literary minds—besotted by the baby-faced genius—didn't try.Wolfe continued: "You'd ask him a question, and he would just stare at you with those pale-blue eyes of his, and you'd start to ask the question again, figuring he hadn't understood, and— click —out of his mouth would come forth a sequence of long, quiet, perfectly formed, precisely thought-out sentences."So Wolfe warned against understanding Armstrong in "The Right Stuff." And that warning was more or less heeded, somewhat miraculously, until Armstrong's dying day. Profilers kept their mitts off him. Hollywood starlets didn't swoop in to wreck his family. And, most mercifully of all, Carson and Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore and Ali G and Oprah didn't demand that he couch-surf with them.This is astounding. In the 1960s and '70s , the national pastime was psychologizing postwar celebrities—John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali. And once a hero is cracked open by one Vanity Fair profile, the pile-on never ends. This one had a sex addiction; this one had a chip on her shoulder; this one could never live up to his big brother.Let's not do that to Armstrong, Wolfe pleaded. In any case, the great man simply would not succumb. Armstrong was simply, at heart, not homo psychologico. He was homo machinator, homo ingeniator. The engineering man.In an era when everyone was expected to evince the adolescent emotionality of Marlon Brando or Allen Ginsberg, Armstrong was resolutely adult and elegantly square. He was a Navy pilot from a small town who married a home-ec major at Purdue whom he had no recollection of courting or even proposing to. (Janet Armstrong, with whom he had three children, evidently didn't remember any courtship either.)Though astronauts in the time were represented as hard-partying matinee idols, Armstrong always described himself as a "white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer." He wasn't boasting, though engineers are, of course, the hotshots of today: the hackers and technologists who keep pushing into the new breach—the postfinal frontiers of cyberspace.Neil ArmstrongOnce in 1969, Norman Mailer bullied Armstrong into saying something—anything—romantic about going to the moon. (Armstrong would have to cough up the romance, Mailer wrote, or be considered "a spiritual neuter.") Armstrong stood his ground like a Buddha. "I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges," he said, defying Mailer. "It's by the nature of his deep inner soul ... We're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream."Those words are perhaps the most gorgeous words the press-shy astronaut ever said, including his famous scripted line about the giant leap.Michael Collins, an Apollo 11 crewmate, wrote that Armstrong "never transmits anything but the surface layer, and that only sparingly ... I like him, but I don't know what to make of him, or how to get to know him better."Maybe we weren't meant to fully understand Armstrong. Only to hold him in awe. Like the moon itself.News by YahooRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



Hurricane Isaac makes landfall in La.

Wed, 29 Aug 2012 07:02:00 +0000

People play in the storm surge from Hurricane Isaac, on Lakeshore Drive along Lake Pontchartrain, as the storm nears land, in New Orleans, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Hurricane Isaac raked the Louisiana coast and headed for a shuttered New Orleans late Tuesday, with brutal timing that made up for much of what it lacked in punch.Just hours shy of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Isaac's approach left deserted streets from New Orleans' famous French Quarter to Tampa 480 miles away, where Republican conventioneers pressed on with only a passing mention of the storm's arrival.A Category 1 hurricane with winds at 80 mph, Isaac came ashore at 6:45 p.m. CDT near the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana, drenching a sparsely populated neck of land that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico. But the worst was still to come as it zeroed in on New Orleans, 75 miles to the northwest.At midnight Tuesday, the hurricane had slowed to a forward speed of 7 mph. It was forecast to slow even further over the next day or two as it drifts over the southeastern coast of Louisiana before heading inland, according to an advisory from the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.While much less powerful than Katrina in 2005, Isaac unleashed fierce winds and soaking rains that knocked out power to more than 100,000 homes and businesses.The storm drew intense scrutiny because of its timing - just before the anniversary of the hurricane that devastated that city, while the first major speeches of the Republican National Convention went on in Tampa, Fla., already delayed and tempered by the storm.While many residents stayed put, evacuations were ordered in low-lying areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, where officials closed 12 shorefront casinos.One of the main concerns along the shoreline was storm surge, which occurs when hurricane winds raise sea levels off the coast, causing flooding on land.A storm surge of 10.3 feet was reported at Shell Beach, Louisiana late Tuesday while a surge of 6.7 feet was reported in Waveland, Mississippi, the Hurricane Center said.Ed Rappaport, the center's deputy director, said Isaac's core would pass west of New Orleans with winds close to 80 mph and head for Baton Rouge."On this course, the hurricane will gradually weaken," Rappaport said. He said gusts could reach about 100 mph at times, especially at higher levels, which could damage high-rise buildings in New Orleans.As Isaac neared the city, there was little fear or panic. With New Orleans' airport closed, tourists retreated to hotels and most denizens of a coastline that has witnessed countless hurricanes decided to ride out the storm."Isaac is the son of Abraham," said Margaret Thomas, who was trapped for a week in her home in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood by Katrina's floodwaters, yet chose to stay put this time. "It's a special name that means `God will protect us'."Officials, chastened by memories and experience, advised caution."We don't expect a Katrina-like event, but remember there are things about a Category 1 storm that can kill you," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, urging people to use common sense and to stay off any streets that may flood.Tens of thousands of people were told to leave low-lying areas, including 700 patients of Louisiana nursing homes, but officials decided not to call for mass evacuations like those that preceded Katrina, which packed 135 mph winds in 2005.Isaac also promised to test a New Orleans levee system bolstered after the catastrophic failures during Hurricane Katrina. But in a city that has already weathered Hurricane Gustav in 2008, calm prevailed."I feel safe," said Pamela Young, who settled in to her home in the Lower 9th Ward - a neighborhood devastated by Katrina - with dog Princess and her television. "Everybody's talking `going, going,' but the thing is, when you go, there's no telling what will happen. The storm isn't goin[...]



Sleepy woman's epic 18-hr flight after she misses stop

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 06:32:00 +0000

(image)
A Pakistani (PIA) airbus

A Frenchwoman endured an 18-hour journey from the Pakistani city of Lahore to Paris and back again after sleeping through her plane's stop in the French capital, officials said on Wednesday.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are investigating how ground crew failed to notice the woman during the plane's two-hour stopover at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

The woman, named as Patrice Christine Ahmed, who is married to a Pakistani, left Lahore at noon on Tuesday to fly to Paris via Milan, but did not wake up to get off the plane, airline spokesman Sultan Hasan told AFP.

The woman did not mention her mistake to cabin crew and the matter only came to light when she was stopped by immigration officials on arrival back in Lahore on Wednesday morning -- after a 12,000-kilometre (7700-mile) round trip.

Hasan said PIA were investigating the incident and the French subcontractor responsible for passenger handling in Paris.

"We have put questions to this French firm also about the incident but it is also the responsibility of the passenger to disembark at the destination," he said.

"It is a passenger's responsibility to check about the destination and disembark when the plane arrives at the particular airport."

PIA later arranged to send the woman back to Paris with another airline because none of its own flights were available, but said that the party responsible for the negligence will pay for the extra ticket.

"It depends who is at fault. If it is a mistake by the local firm, they will pay and if the woman herself is responsible than she will have to bear the cost," Hasan said.

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Grenades at Afghan mosque, bicycle bomb injure 23

Thu, 16 Aug 2012 14:17:00 +0000

Afghan locals inspect the site of an bomb explosion in Herat on August 15, 2012. KABUL: Nearly two dozen Afghan civilians were wounded on Wednesday when two grenades exploded inside a mosque compound and a bicycle bomb blew up in a city market, officials said.  The violence came a day after bomb blasts around Afghanistan killed at least 50 people in the deadliest day for civilians this year, as Taliban insurgents and other militants ramp up violence across the country.The Taliban summer offensive coincides with Afghan police and soldiers taking on more responsibility for security while international forces start to withdraw.Separately, Nato reported that one of its service members was killed Wednesday in an insurgent attack in the east. Nato did not disclose the nationality of the soldier or provide any more details.The US military reported that one of its soldiers died in a roadside bombing Wednesday, also in eastern Afghanistan.So far this year, 286 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan.At least nine worshippers were wounded when the grenades exploded during morning prayers at a mosque in Baghi Sara area, Khost police chief Sardar Mohammad Zazai said.One exploded inside the mosque and the other went off in a courtyard outside. The third failed to detonate.Zazai blamed Taliban insurgents for the attack.“This was the work of the enemy,” he said. “It cannot be a private dispute. Why would anyone be so angry to throw grenades in a mosque while people are praying?”He said many of the worshippers were Afghans who work at the nearby US post, Forward Operating Base Salerno.Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid issued a statement that did not acknowledge the mosque attack but claimed an insurgent suicide bomber had attacked a US base in Khost, causing several American casualties.A spokesman for the Nato military coalition said Wednesday that there was no attack on the Salerno base, which is close to the mosque in Baghi Sara.Lt Col. Hagen Messer said the American personnel at the base reported hearing gunfire from the mosque but that Afghan police were investigating.At least 14 people, including four women and a policeman, were injured when explosives set up on a bicycle exploded at a market in the city of Herat while people were shopping for an upcoming Muslim holiday, said Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police.The latest violence follows a particularly bloody day for Afghanistan.Suicide bombers launched multiple attacks in remote Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan near the Iranian border on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, including shoppers buying sweets for a Muslim holiday.The bombings left charred and smoldering bits of cookies and dried fruit among the bodies on the ground.A separate market bombing later Tuesday, this one in Kunduz in the north, killed 10 people, including five children.And in the eastern province of Paktika, a car hit a roadside bomb.Four children died in the blast, provincial spokesman Mokhlis Afghan said, bringing Tuesday’s death toll to 50,  11 police and 39 civilians.At least 110 people were wounded in all the attacks.The attacks came as the Taliban and their allies step up their assaults in a display of force that often results in civilian carnage.Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control across their homeland in 28 months, when most foreign combat troops will have left.The Taliban “want to expand their influence, show that they are everywhere,” said Afghan political analyst Jawid Kohistani.“They want to show that the Afghan police are not strong enough, so they are targeting the security forces and the government.”Gen John Allen, the top commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said Tuesday’s attacks were “acts of intentional mass murder.”“By targeting inno[...]



U.S. military tests hypersonic Waverider aircraft over Pacific

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 17:37:00 +0000

An undated U.S. Air Force handout graphic depicts the X-51A Waverider in flight. The X-51A WaveRider, an unmanned aircraft that could reach speeds up to 3,600 mph (5,793 kph), will be launched from the wing of a B-52 on a test flight over the Pacific Ocean on August 14, 2012. (Reuters) - The U.S. military conducted an unmanned test flight of its hypersonic Waverider aircraft, designed to move at six times the speed of sound using technology that bridges the gap between planes and rocketships, a military official said.A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (1700 and 1800 GMT) on Tuesday, John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said in a statement. Results of the brief test flight will be released on Wednesday, he said.The plan had been to conduct the test flight over the Pacific Ocean after a staging at Edwards, said Deborah VanNierop, a spokeswoman for Boeing Co, which was involved in constructing the craft, said in a statement.The Waverider is designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above, fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. But rather than commercial air travel, the military has its eye on a more readily achievable application - using it to develop high-speed cruise missiles.The X-51A was launched off the coast of California near Naval Air Station Point Mugu, which is northwest of Los Angeles, Haire said. It flew north over the Pacific through a range that is designed for test flights."The X-51 is not retrievable, in other words once you fly it, it's going to end up in the ocean," Haire said.The aircraft is known as the Waverider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight.Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designed the X-51A's "scramject" engine, which uses the forward motion of the craft to compress air for fuel combustion, according to a description of the project from the military.After being dropped from the B-52, a solid-rocket booster is used in the initial phase of the plane's flight to bring it up to speeds that can allow its scramjet engine to take over, by inhaling air through the craft's forward momentum.In 2004, NASA reached a speed of Mach 9.6, or nearly 7,000 miles per hour, with a jet-powered aircraft. But that vehicle, known as X-43, only flew for a few seconds and its copper-based engine was not designed to survive the flight.Engineers have hoped to see the hypersonic X-51A travel for five minutes of powered flight. For protection from extreme heat, it uses insulation tiles, similar to those on the NASA space shuttle orbiters, according to a 2011 military description of the project.Hypersonic flight is normally defined as beginning at Mach 5, which is five times the speed of sound.News by ReutersRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



Deadly twin earthquakes strike Iran, kill 180 and injure 1,500

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 02:47:00 +0000

Two Earthquakes in Iran(Reuters) - Two powerful earthquakes killed 180 people and injured about 1,500 in northwest Iran where rescuers frantically combed the rubble of dozens of villages through the night into Sunday.Thousands fled their homes in panic, and stayed overnight in makeshift camps or in the streets after Saturday's quakes and about 40 aftershocks hit the area.Casualty figures are expected to rise, Iranian officials said, as some of the injured were in a critical condition while others were still trapped under the rubble in inaccessible places and rescue efforts were hampered by the darkness.Six villages were destroyed and about 60 sustained more than 50 percent damage, Iranian media reported.Photographs posted on Iranian news websites showed numerous bodies lying on the floor of a white-tiled morgue in the town of Ahar, and medical staff, surrounded by anxious residents, treating the injured in the open air as dusk fell.Other images showed collapsed buildings and cars crushed by rubble.Iran is situated on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the southeastern historic city of Bam into dust and killed more than 25,000 people.The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday's first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.Officials said 180 people had been killed and about 1,500 injured, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.The second quake struck near the town of Varzaghan. "The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear," Fars said.COLLAPSED BUILDINGSHundreds of people were rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings but the night-time severely disrupted emergency efforts."Unfortunately there are still a number of people trapped in the rubble but finding them is very difficult because of the darkness," national emergency head Gholam Reza Masoumi was quoted as saying by Fars.The state news agency IRNA quoted Bahram Samadirad, a provincial official from the coroner's office, as saying: "Since some people are in a critical condition ... it is possible for the number of casualties to rise."The hospital in Varzaghan, staffed by just two doctors and with a shortages of medical supplies and food, was struggling to cope with about 500 injured, the Mehr news agency reported."I was just on the phone talking to my mother when she said, 'There's just been an earthquake', then the line was cut," one woman from Tabriz, who lives outside Iran, wrote on Facebook."God, what has happened? After that I couldn't get through. God has also given me a slap, and it was very hard."The earthquakes struck in East Azerbaijan province, a mountainous region that neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia to the north and is predominantly populated by ethnic Azeris - a significant minority in Iran.Its capital, Tabriz, is a major city and trading hub far from Iran's oil-producing areas and known nuclear facilities. Buildings in the city are substantially built, and the Iranian Students' News Agency said nobody in the city had been killed or hurt.Homes and business premises in Iranian villages, however, are often made of concrete blocks or mud brick that can crumble and collapse in a strong quake.Red Crescent official Mahmoud Mozafar was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying about 16,000 people in the quake-hit area had been given emergency shelter.Iranian health minister Marzieh Vahid Dastejerdi said the government had despatched 48 ambulances and 500 blood bags to the worst affected areas, IRNA reported.Fars quoted Iranian lawmaker Abbas Falahi as saying he believed rescue workers had[...]



US women win 5th straight gold, rout France 86-50

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 01:57:00 +0000

United States' Diana Taurasi, right, and Candace Parker bite their gold medals after beating France in the women's gold medal basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, in London.LONDON (AP) -- The names change, not the results. Just call the U.S. women's basketball team Olympic champion - again.The Americans won their fifth straight gold medal Saturday, routing France 86-50 and putting more distance between themselves and the rest of the world heading into the 2016 Rio Games."It just shows the depth and talent in our country. Women's basketball, it's our sport - it's our sport," said Diana Taurasi, who has been a part of the last three gold medals. "We grew up playing since we were little and give it every single little bit of energy we have."Candace Parker scored 21 points, including eight straight during the game-changing run in the second quarter as the U.S. won its 41st straight Olympic game.This one was special.Taurasi, who said she doesn't get emotional, cried receiving her gold medal and then paraded around draped in an American flag."A little trip down memory lane," Taurasi said. "The track record was going through my head. My parents, Coach was there. It was just a lot of things hit me at once and that's what happened."The winning streak started in the bronze medal game in 1992. In that stretch, the Americans have won by nearly 30 points a game. Only one team has stayed within single digits of them, and they've lost just once in major international competitions, to Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.Coach Geno Auriemma didn't want to get drawn into the debate of where this team ranks among the five that have won the gold."The United States has had great teams since 1996 and we are just another one on the list," he said. "We accomplished the same thing they did and I don't know if that separates us. I think it just makes us equal."Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie got the amazing run started, and Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings have continued it.With young stars Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles a big part of the success in London it doesn't look like the run will end anytime soon."The players give back. You have players coming back for a third Olympics to show the younger players what it takes to win a gold medal," said Parker, a two-time Olympian. "I learned a lot from Tina Thompson, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith and now Dee, Tamika, Sue. It's just the passing down of what it takes to win. That commitment to USA Basketball."Catchings said the Americans "just wanted to keep that legacy going."Edwards, a five-time Olympian, said no worry there."The legacy is real," said Edwards, who had a front-row seat Saturday night. "What these kids have been doing is amazing. Without much time to practice. In the middle of the WNBA season. And they look good. It's like the whole world knows who we are. I'm really proud of them."They're definitely among some of the best" U.S. teams.The U.S. faced its only challenge of the London Games when Australia took a four-point halftime lead. It was the first time in 12 years that the Americans had been trailing at the half. There was no panic or worry. They just stepped up their defense and vanquished the Australians, winning by 13 points."It's not easy to just be put together and be expected to win a gold medal," Taurasi said. "It's a special feeling."France, which came into the gold medal game unbeaten, stayed with the U.S. for the first 12 minutes before Parker took over. She scored eight straight points during a 13-2 run that gave the U.S. a 37-23 advantage. Twice the 6-foot-4 Parker grabbed the rebound on the defensive end and dribbled up through the defense scoring on the other.While Parker - who also had 11 rebounds - was providin[...]



Naked ambition: Diners pay $500 to eat sushi off NUDE MODELS at Florida restaurant

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 18:38:00 +0000

Staff: The restaurant's waiters volunteered to take their clothes off for extra cashWho needs plates when you have a naked model to eat off? One controversial Miami restaurant is saving on washing up by giving diners the chance to eat sushi directly off the bare bodies of good looking men and women - but you have to pay a whopping $500 for the privilege.Customers can order up to six feet of sushi and sashimi at the Catalina Hotel & Beach Club's Kung Fu Kitchen and Sushi - enough to feed 15 hungry diners - and the Japanese cuisine comes strategically placed along the length of the model's body. 'You basically get to dine off a naked human body,' the restaurant's owner, Nathan Lieberman, told Local 10 News. 'It's mostly for groups, parties, bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, birthday parties. 'You call in advance or pop in and hopefully we have someone that wants to take their clothes off and lie on a table.'Diners use their chopsticks to eat directly off the 'human platter'. They can nibble nori rolls off nipples if they choose, in the controversial deal that is being offered until September 30, during Miami's restaurant month. The sushi joint has had three naked sushi parties so far, ABC reported.And Lieberman hasn't even had to fork out for real models.'I have a very good-looking staff,' he told the TV station. 'They said, 'We want the money, and we like to be naked.''When a bachelorette party requested a male model, they used one of their sushi chefs, 'a real stud,' Lieberman said.The practice of serving food off naked bodies was banned in China in 2005.But Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation hasn't got a problem with it as long as the restaurant is being hygienic.'Generally speaking, as long as the restaurant is adhering to FDA rules regarding no bare skin contact, it should be in compliance,' spokesman Sandi Poreda told ABC.Lieberman said the models are scrubbed 'like surgeons' before being decorated.They have leaves and lettuce covering their private parts and their nipples are covered in plastic - as well as wasabi.News by DailymailRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com[...]



Raisman finishes Olympics in style with floor gold

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:59:00 +0000

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Bronze medallist for the balance beam Alexandra Raisman from the U.S. celebrates during the artistic gymnastics women's apparatus finals at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, in London.
LONDON (AP) — Aly Raisman is going home with two gold medals, just like teammate Gabby Douglas.

The U.S. captain won the title on floor exercise Tuesday, about an hour after getting a bronze on balance beam. Add in her gold with the Fierce Five, and she leaves London with three medals, most of any of the Americans.

It's the first Olympic gold on floor exercise for a U.S. woman.

Catalina Ponor of Romania won the silver, and Aliya Mustafina of Russia got the bronze.

World champion Jordyn Wieber was seventh. The pre-Olympic favorite failed to win any individual medals

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Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68

Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:27:00 +0000

FILE - This undated file image originally provided by Columbia Artists Management Inc. LLC shows Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch, a conductor and award-winning composer best known for the torch song "The Way We Were," died Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 in Los Angeles.Marvin Hamlisch, who composed or arranged the scores for dozens of movies including "The Sting" and the Broadway smash "A Chorus Line," has died in Los Angeles. He was 68.Hamlisch collapsed and died Monday after a brief illness, his publicist Ken Sunshine said, citing the family. Other details were not released.Hamlisch's career included composing, conducting and arranging music from Broadway to Hollywood, from symphonies to R&B hits. He won every major award in his career, including three Academy Awards, four Emmys, four Grammys, a Tony and three Golden Globes.The one-time child prodigy's music colored some of Hollywood and Broadway's most important works.Hamlisch composed more than 40 film scores, including "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People," "The Way We Were" and "Take the Money and Run." He won his third Oscar for his adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for "The Sting." His latest work came for Steven Soderbergh's "The Informant!"On Broadway, Hamlisch received both a Tony and the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for the long-running favorite "A Chorus Line" and wrote the music for "The Goodbye Girl" and "Sweet Smell of Success." He was scheduled to fly to Nashville, Tenn., this week to see a production of his musical "The Nutty Professor," Sunshine said.Hamlisch even reached into the pop world, writing the No. 1 R&B hit "Break It to Me Gently" with Carole Bayer Sager for Aretha Franklin. He won the 1974 Grammys for best new artist and song of the year, "The Way We Were," performed by Barbra Streisand."He was classic and one of a kind," Franklin said Tuesday after learning of his death, calling him one of the "all time great" arrangers and producers. "Who will ever forget `The Way We Were'?"Hamlisch's interest in music started early. At the age of 7 he entered the Juilliard School of Music, stunning the admissions committee with his renditions of "Goodnight Irene" in any key they desired.In his autobiography, "The Way I Was," Hamlisch admitted that he lived in fear of not meeting his father's expectations. "By the time Gershwin was your age, he was dead," the Viennese-born musician would tell his son. "And he'd written a concerto. Where's your concerto, Marvin?"In his teens, he switched from piano recitals to songwriting. Show music held a special fascination for him. Hamlisch's first important job in the theater was as rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of "Funny Girl" with Streisand in 1964. He graduated to other shows like "Fade Out-Fade In," "Golden Rainbow" and "Henry, Sweet Henry," and other jobs like arranging dance and vocal music."Maybe I'm old-fashioned," he told The Associated Press in 1986. "But I remember the beauty and thrill of being moved by Broadway musicals - particularly the endings of shows. The end of `West Side Story,' where audiences cried their eyes out. The last few chords of `My Fair Lady.' Just great."Although he was one of the youngest students ever at Juilliard, he never studied conducting. "I remember somebody told me, `Earn while you learn,'" he told The AP in 1996."The Way We Were" exemplified Hamlisch's old-fashioned appeal - it was a big, sentimental movie ballad that brought huge success in the rock era. He was extremely versatile, able to write for stage and screen, for soundtracks ranging from Woody Allen comedies to a somber drama like "Ordinary People."He was perhaps even better known for his work adapting Joplin on "The Sting." In the mid-'70s, it seemed everybody with[...]



NASA rover Curiosity lands on Mars after plummet

Mon, 06 Aug 2012 06:36:00 +0000

In this photo provided by NASA, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team welcomes White House Science and Technology Advisor John Holdren, third standing from left, as he stops by to meet the landing team and to say "Go Curiosity" as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, second from left, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Charles Elachi, far left look on, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 at JPL in Pasadena, Calif. PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- In a show of technological wizardry, the robotic explorer Curiosity blazed through the pink skies of Mars, steering itself to a gentle landing inside a giant crater for the most ambitious dig yet into the red planet's past.A chorus of cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Sunday night after the most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built signaled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere."Touchdown confirmed," said engineer Allen Chen. "We're safe on Mars."Minutes later, Curiosity beamed back the first black-and-white pictures from inside the crater showing its wheel and its shadow, cast by the afternoon sun.It was NASA's seventh landing on Earth's neighbor; many other attempts by the U.S. and other countries to zip past, circle or set down on Mars have gone awry.The arrival was an engineering tour de force, debuting never-before-tried acrobatics packed into "seven minutes of terror" as Curiosity sliced through the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph.In a Hollywood-style finish, cables delicately lowered the rover to the ground at a snail-paced 2 mph. A video camera was set to capture the most dramatic moments - which would give earthlings their first glimpse of a touchdown on another world.The extraterrestrial feat injected a much-needed boost to NASA, which is debating whether it can afford another Mars landing this decade. At a budget-busting $2.5 billion, Curiosity is the priciest gamble yet, which scientists hope will pay off with a bonanza of discoveries."We're on Mars again," said NASA chief Charles Bolden. "It's just absolutely incredible. It doesn't get any better than this."Over the next two years, Curiosity will drive over to a mountain rising from the crater floor, poke into rocks and scoop up rust-tinted soil to see if the region ever had the right environment for microscopic organisms to thrive. It's the latest chapter in the long-running quest to find out whether primitive life arose early in the planet's history.The voyage to Mars took more than eight months and spanned 352 million miles. The trickiest part of the journey? The landing. Because Curiosity weighs nearly a ton, engineers drummed up a new and more controlled way to set the rover down. The last Mars rovers, twins Spirit and Opportunity, were cocooned in air bags and bounced to a stop in 2004.The plans for Curiosity called for a series of braking tricks, similar to those used by the space shuttle, and a supersonic parachute to slow it down. Next: Ditch the heat shield used for the fiery descent.And in a new twist, engineers came up with a way to lower the rover by cable from a hovering rocket-powered backpack. At touchdown, the cords cut and the rocket stage crashed a distance away.The nuclear-powered Curiosity, the size of a small car, is packed with scientific tools, cameras and a weather station. It sports a robotic arm with a power drill, a laser that can zap distant rocks, a chemistry lab to sniff for the chemical building blocks of life and a detector to measure dangerous radiation on the surface.It also tracked radiation levels during the journey to help NASA better understand the risks astronauts could face on a future manned trip.Over the next several days, Curiosity was e[...]



Ambulance carrying crash victim has head-on collision with another vehicle in horror smash

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 09:37:00 +0000

A tragic accident saw a VW Golf plough into the front of an ambulance, killing the Golf's male driver instantlyA horrific car crash between a car and an ambulance left one man dead and four others injured on the A49 in Shropshire yesterday.The collision happened when a black H-reg Volkswagen Golf careered into the front of the ambulance, which was carrying a 29-year-old woman who had been in an earlier car accident.The force of the impact almost tore the bonnet off the emergency vehicle while the Golf was left embedded in its front.The Golf's driver, a man in his 20s, was killed instantly while the ambulance driver was trapped inside the crushed vehicle for two hours.She was cut free by firefighters and airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham with serious injuries to her head, leg and pelvis, where her condition is said to be 'comfortable'.A woman in her 20s, the Golf's passenger, had to be cut out of the car and was airlifted to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire with serious head and chest injuries.She is said to be in a 'critical but stable' condition.A female paramedic travelling in the back of the ambulance suffered a wrist injury and was taken to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.Investigators suggested the Golf crossed into the ambulance's path at the scene near Wem, Shropshire.The ambulance was not making an emergency journey and did not have its siren or blue lights on.Steve Parry, from West Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “Crews arrived on scene to find a car and ambulance had been in collision.'Despite the best efforts of ambulance staff, the driver of the car was confirmed dead at the scene.'At the time of the collision, the ambulance was taking a female patient injured in an earlier road traffic incident to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.'A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: 'A full investigation is being carried out to establish the circumstances leading up to this tragedy.'We are appealing for witnesses to come forward if they saw either the collision or the vehicles involved being driven immediately beforehand.'The main A49 road north of Shrewsbury was closed until just before 10pm last night while emergency services attended the scene.News by DailymailRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



Delta flight delayed when thousands of honeybees descend on plane's wing

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 09:01:00 +0000

A passenger flight from Pittsburgh to New York was delayed on Wednesday when bees descended on the aircraft's wing, picturedA Delta flight from Pittsburgh to New York was delayed on Wednesday after tens of thousands of bees descended on the plane's wing.The commuter flight loaded with passengers was about to take off from Pittsburgh International Airport when the swarm settled on the aircraft.A local beekeeper had to be called in to collect the insects.'They were getting ready to fuel and they came around the corner of the plane and right there on the wing is a cluster of honeybees,' Master beekeeper Stephen Repasky of Meadow Sweet Apiaries told CBS pittsburgh.'It was a shocker to a lot of people.'Mr Repasky said bees were a common occurrence at the airport, which he suspects has a colony living somewhere on the premises.Honeybees like those that settled on the Delta plane, pictured, regularly terrorise the Pittsburgh International airport At least four swarms have already been caught terrorising planes and airport equipment this year.In May, around 30,000 bees landed on the Taxiway-C light, according to CBS.As honeybees are a protected species, they can't be killed so Mr Repasky took them home in a box and will release them at a later date.He said when bee colonies grow too large, the queen takes off with half of the bees in search of a new home.'So it could be a tree 40-feet up, it could be the wing of a jet liner,' Mr Repasky said.News by DailymailRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com[...]



Who needs to fly to Sydney? Pictures that prove you can watch a stunning volleyball game in Britain as the women's teams electrify Horse Guards Parade

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 10:51:00 +0000

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Beach volleyball has proven to be one of the most popular events at the Game

These stunning aerial pictures show how the London 2012 beach volleyball stadium has been remarkably squeezed into the heart of the city.

Thousands of cheering spectators can be heard from surrounding Whitehall and nearby Trafalgar Square, just out of view in this picture.

But for those lucky enough to secure tickets for the popular event, the scenes inside are far more reminiscent of those seen on the beaches of Brazil or California.

Inside the stadium, the sun, sand and bikinis, plus beach balls and the smell of sun-tan lotion transport the lucky crowds to somewhere far more exotic.

Forgetting they are plunged in the centre of the thronging, bustling, noisy capital, the crowds have been entertained with exotic dancers in bikinis.

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Cheerleaders perform during the women beach volleyball round of 16 match between Germany's Laura Ludwig and Sara Goller against compatriots Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler

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Wind-whipped Oklahoma wildfires destroy homes

Sat, 04 Aug 2012 09:42:00 +0000

A home burns during a large wildfire Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Luther, Okla. A wildfire whipped by gusty, southerly winds swept through rural woodlands north and south of Oklahoma City on Friday, burning several homes as firefighters struggled to contain it in 113-degree heat.NOBLE, Okla. (AP) -- The gusty, southerly winds that whipped wildfires through rural woodlands north and south of Oklahoma City started to die down early Saturday, but not before burning dozens of homes.Hundreds of people were told Friday to leave their homes in at least four counties, while smoke and flames prompted authorities to close parts of Interstate 44, the main roadway between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and two state highways. I-44 reopened late Friday night."A man refused to leave. From what I know, he wanted to protect his property, but your life has to be more valuable than property," Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said late Friday night.The sheriff said at least 25 homes, a daycare center and numerous outbuildings had burned in a fire that may have been deliberately set near Luther, a town about 20 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.Deputies were looking into reports about someone in a pickup truck who was seen throwing out newspapers that had been set on fire. By Friday night, the blaze had spread across 80 square miles, but officials said it had calmed some due to lighter winds and higher humidity.About 40 structures were destroyed by a blaze near Tulsa. And yet another blaze destroyed at least 25 structures, including a handful of homes, after starting near Noble, about 30 miles south of Oklahoma City, and moving toward Norman, home to the University of Oklahoma.Steve Palladino, operations chief for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said six Oklahoma National Guard helicopters will be dispatched to the fires on Saturday. Palladino said three were sent out on Friday."I loaded the kids up, grabbed my dogs, and it didn't even look like I had time to load the livestock, so I just got out of there," said Bo Ireland, who lives a few miles from where the Noble-area fire started. "It looked to me that, if the wind shifted even a little bit, I would be in the path of that fire. It was just too close."There were no immediate reports of injuries or livestock losses.Dayle Bishop said he may not have made it out of his home had a woman not knocked on his door and woken him up. Standing in a convenience store parking lot about 2 miles away from his home, he was pessimistic about its chances."I know it's gone," said Bishop, who works nights as a nurse. "Didn't even have time to get anything out." But he noted, "it's just stuff."Charles Wright was with his daughter, Christina, along with their cat, at a makeshift evacuation center doubling as a staging area for fire engines, ambulances and other emergency equipment. He said law enforcement ordered them to leave their home in Norman."Praying for miracles. Praying for the best, that's all we can do," said Wright, who managed to pack some clothes, jewelry and legal papers before fleeing.Ruth Hood splashed water onto two Chihuahua puppies that she grabbed along with several other animals and her children, and left as flames burned in her neighbor's yard. She said she couldn't be sure her home would survive."No guarantee," Hood said.With the ongoing drought, high temperatures and gusty winds, it took little for fires to begin and spread - and there was little crews could do to fight them."It's difficult for the firefighters to get into the area because it's heavily wooded on either side of the smaller r[...]



Jackson says she was kept from communicating

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 04:58:00 +0000

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2011 file photo, from left, Prince Jackson, Prince Michael II "Blanket" Jackson and Paris Jackson arrive on stage at the Michael Forever the Tribute Concert, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The mystery of Michael Jackson's mother's disappearance was clarified Thursday with the release of court papers that said she was kept from communicating with outsiders while at a resort and was unaware she had been reported missing. Katherine Jackson declared in the documents that she learned she was the subject of a search when she accidentally heard a TV report. Before that, she said, she was kept virtually incommunicado without access to a phone or her iPad. She said her stay at the Tucson resort was unplanned, and she went there after she was told her doctor had ordered her to rest. Before that, she had intended to take a cross-country RV trip to see her sons perform in concerts. "While there was a telephone in my room, the telephone was not functioning and I could not dial out," she said in the documents. "In addition, there was no picture on the television in my room." She told of asking repeatedly to have the TV fixed. "One morning I woke up to the sound of the television," she said. "While there was no picture, I heard a broadcast that stated I was missing." Her declaration was attached to papers filed in a request to be reinstated as guardian of Michael's children, Prince, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket, 10. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff granted the request Thursday and temporarily named her nephew, TJ Jackson, as co-guardian. Beckloff said last week that he didn't believe Katherine Jackson had done anything wrong but suspended her guardianship duties because she had been out of contact with her grandchildren for 10 days. While at the resort, Jackson said, she was unaware that her grandchildren were worried about her and that her lawyer had flown to Tucson to contact her. "While I was away, I had no reason to question whether the people with whom I placed trust would inform me that Prince, Paris and Blanket were trying to reach me," she said. She said she had asked about the children and was told they were fine. "The day before I was brought home from Tucson, I was finally permitted to use the phone to speak with Prince, Paris, Blanket and TJ," she said. Some of Katherine Jackson's comments appeared in conflict with a statement she made to ABC News before she left Tucson. Seated with her children Randy, Janet and Rebbie next to her, she read from a prepared statement saying she had not been held against her will "My children would never do a thing to me like that, holding me against my will," she said. "It's very stupid for people to think that." She said then that she was devastated at learning she had lost guardianship of her grandchildren and said the action "was based on a bunch of lies." In the aftermath of what her attorney Perry Sanders Jr. called "the chaos," Katherine Jackson asked for a meeting with TJ Jackson and the lawyer to find out what was going on. As a result, she said, she decided that TJ Jackson, who had been an unofficial co-guardian of the children, needed legal authority in case something happened in her absence. Beckloff said during a hearing after Jackson resurfaced that an investigator who looked into the children's care found the late pop star's 82-year-old mother was an excellent guardian and the children love her. "I think the kids are in terrific hands," the judge said. "It appears from the report that Ka[...]



Tunisian men’s basketball coach slaps player in the face during huddle before playing Team USA

Thu, 02 Aug 2012 14:08:00 +0000

Tunisian basketball coach Adel TlatliThis stern-looking fellow is Adel Tlatli, the coach of the Tunisian men's national basketball team. He's at the helm of perhaps the most successful run in the history of Tunisian men's basketball — his squad won gold at the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship for the first time in the nation's history, earning Tunisia the right to play in the men's basketball tournament at 2012 Summer Olympics in London, another national first. On Tuesday, Tlatli led Tunisia into a matchup with the United States, and while the U.S. won handily, Tlatli's players — especially young forward Makram Ben Romdhane — acquitted themselves well. It was a good day for Tunisian basketball.Except for the part where Tlatli hauled off and slapped one of his players across the face during a sideline huddle before the opening tip.Because we don't expect this video (via the folks at Ride the Pine) to last very long, hit the jump for some screengrabs.Just as NBCOlympics.com's stream of the game (which is archived) opens up, Tlatli is shown speaking to his team in a huddle on the sidelines. One player (whom we've hit with the lime arrow) has his head down and is looking off to the right as his coach gives instructions.This, apparently, displeases Tlatli, who raises his left hand and slaps the player along the right side of his face.After that, the player sits up, stunned, and stares at his coach. I guess Tlatli got his attention.It's hard to tell which player this is — you can't see jersey numbers since the players are wearing their warmups, and he had his head down most of the time he was on screen, giving us only get a split-second look. (If you're intimately familiar with the tops of the heads of the Tunisian men's national basketball team and can positively ID the player, by all means, let us know.)It is, I suppose, possible that Tlatli was just a totally consensual shock to the system to wake his player up, like Paul Giamatti did in "Win Win." Sometimes athletes want weird stuff to psyche them up. But based on the player's reaction, it sure didn't seem like it; based on how quickly NBC Sports Network cut away to a shot of USA center Tyson Chandler, it sure didn't seem like it seemed like it to them, either.Fostering intensity, sharpening focus and providing motivation are all part of a coach's job. But hey, Mr. Tlatli — maybe no more smacking your players in the face the rest of the Olympics? Thanks in advance.News by YahooRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com [...]



Two years later, alien-like sea creature gains Internet stardom

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 05:52:00 +0000

Stunning photo of bizarre sea creatureAmong the more bizarre-looking visitors to California waters this summer are Mola molas, or ocean sunfish, which are being seen in unusually high numbers. But it's a stunning photograph of one of these gentle giants that appears to be getting the most attention. The image, captured off San Diego by Daniel Botelho, became an instant hit after being posted last week on his Facebook page."It got 1,000 'likes' in 36 hours," said Botelho, an award-winning photojournalist who specializes in underwater photography. Through Monday the number of likes and shares beneath had grown to 1,375 and 1,237, respectively.There was no back story provided but Botelho, when reached via email, explained that he captured this image in July of 2010, while on a blue whale photography mission. But he somehow placed it in a folder of non-used images and did not discover it until recently, while planning another blue whale odyssey.The Facebook post was the first time the image had been published. "It is so funny, I wasted that image and after two years I found it, posted it, and it becomes viral," Botelho said.Though molas are docile and appear sluggish, they're difficult to photograph because they're deceivingly swift and do not generally tolerate divers who try to get close."There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast," Botelho explained. "But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner."The photographer in the image had hoped to photograph Botelho next to the sunfish but instead he became the subject to lend perspective as to how large and moon-like molas can be.The sunfish can measure 14 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They're found in tropical and temperate oceans. With their large bodies, truncated tails, tiny mouths, and huge eyes, they look like something not entirely whole and not of this world.The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in a species description, states: "Ocean sunfish, or molas, look like the invention of a mad scientist."They feed primarily on jellies but will also eat squid and small fish. Large numbers of jellies and gelatinous creatures called salps this summer may help to explain an increase in sightings made by California boaters.News by YahooRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com[...]



100 Taka Prize Bond's 68th Draw Result held on July 31st, 2012 in Bangladesh

Wed, 01 Aug 2012 05:16:00 +0000

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Click on image to view in full
The 68th draw result of 100 taka Prize Bond held on Tuesday, July 31st and published by Bangladesh Bank. The number of first prize is 0932557 and its winning money is 6,00000/= taka. The number of second prize is 0209362 and its winning money is 3,25,000/= taka. You can view/download the entire result of 100 Taka Prize Bond's 68th Draw here which is in pdf file format or you can also see the result by clicking the image given above.




Apple claims Samsung copied iPhone technology

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 19:28:00 +0000

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2011 file photo, an attorney holds an Apple iPad, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the regional court in Duesseldorf, Germany. The two tech Titans will square off in federal court Monday, July 30, 2012, SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- An attorney for Apple told a jury Tuesday that rival Samsung faced two options to compete in the booming cellphone market after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to critical acclaim in 2007: Innovate or copy.Attorney Harold McElhinny claimed Samsung Electronics Inc. chose to copy, making its smartphones and computer tablets illegal knockoffs of Apple's popular products.Samsung "has copied the entire design and user experience" of Apple's iPhone and iPad," McElhinny told a 10-person jury during his opening remarks at the closely watched patent trial.Samsung denies the claims and its lawyers were expected to deliver their opening statement later in the day.Samsung has previously countered that Apple did the stealing. It has also said some of the technology at issue - such as the rounded rectangular designs of smartphones and tablets - has been the industry standard for years.The witness lists of both sides are long on experts, engineers and designers and short on familiar names. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook is not scheduled to testify.Cupertino-based Apple filed its lawsuit against Samsung last year and is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.The case marks the latest skirmish between the two companies over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies have been fighting in other courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the patent trial. However, she barred Apple attorneys from telling jurors about the ban."In some sense, the big part of the case is not Apple's demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products," said Mark A. Lemley, a professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.A verdict in Apple's favor could send a message to consumers that Android-based products such as Samsung's are in legal jeopardy, Lemley said.A verdict in Samsung's favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price for certain transmission technology, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.In court papers filed last week, each company laid out its legal strategy in trial briefs.Apple lawyers argue there is almost no difference between Samsung products and its own, and that the South Korean company's internal documents show it copied Apple's iconic designs and its interface.Samsung denies the allegation and counter-claims that Apple copied its iPhone from Sony. Samsung lawyers noted that it has been developing mobile phones since 1991 and that Apple jumped into the market in 2007.News by APRead current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com  [...]



Electricity grids fail across half of India

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 19:00:00 +0000

An Indian barber holding a candle, has a haircut for a customer at his shop in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.NEW DELHI (AP) -- Electric crematoria were snuffed out with bodies inside, New Delhi's Metro shut down and hundreds of coal miners were trapped underground after three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade Tuesday, cutting power to 620 million people in the world's biggest blackout.While Indians were furious and embarrassed, many took the crisis in stride, inured by the constant - though far less widespread - outages triggered by the huge electricity deficit stymieing the development of this would-be Asian power.Hospitals, factories and the airports switched automatically to their diesel generators during the hours-long cut across half of India. Many homes relied on backup systems powered by truck batteries. And hundreds of millions of India's poorest had no electricity to lose."The blackout might have been huge, but it wasn't unbearably long," said Satish, the owner of a coffee and juice shop in central Delhi who uses only one name. "It was just as bad as any other five-hour power cut. We just used a generator while the light was out, and it was work as usual."The crisis was the second record-breaking outage in two days. India's northern grid failed Monday, leaving 370 million people powerless for much of the day, in a collapse blamed on states that drew more than their allotment of power.At 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, the northern grid collapsed again, energy officials said. This time, it took the eastern grid and the northeastern grid with it. In all, 20 of India's 28 states - with double the population of the United States - were hit in a region stretching from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 3,000 kilometers (1,870 miles) away.Hundreds of trains stalled across the country and traffic lights went out, causing widespread jams in New Delhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked office workers to go home and rushed generators to coal mines to rescue trapped miners.Sahiba Narang, 17, was taking the Metro home because school bus drivers were on strike, "but this power failure's messed up everything."S.K. Jain said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed. The 54-year-old held his head, distraught that he would almost certainly miss the deadline. Hours later, the government announced it was giving taxpayers an extra month to file because of the chaos.By evening, power had been restored to New Delhi and the remote northeast, and much of the northern and eastern grids were back on line. Electricity officials said the system would not be back to 100 percent until Wednesday.Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the new crisis had the same root as Monday's collapse."Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut," he said.But others were skeptical of Shinde's explanation, saying that if overdrawing power from the grid caused this kind of collapse, it would happen all the time."I just can't believe that there is no system in place to check whether the states are drawing more than their limit or not," said Samiran Chakraborty, head of research at Standard Chartered, a financial services company. "There ha[...]