Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Water trucked to nearly bone-dry Texas town

SPICEWOOD, Texas (AP) ? Under dark clouds and rain, two tanker trucks for the first time delivered thousands of gallons of water Monday to a Texas town that came precariously close to becoming the state's first community to run out of water during a historic drought.

The 8,000-gallon water delivery arrived in Spicewood after it became clear the village's wells could no longer produce enough water to meet the needs of the Lake Travis community's 1,100 residents and elementary school, said Clara Tuma, spokeswoman of the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Several towns and villages in Texas have come close to running out of water during the driest year in Lone Star State history, but until now none has had to truck in water. Most found solutions to hold them over, often paying tens of thousands of dollars to avoid hauling water, a scenario that conjures up images from the early 1900s, when indoor plumbing was a novelty.

In reality, water still ran Monday through pipes and faucets of the Central Texas town, though the source will soon be different. Instead of being pumped from wells into the community's 129,000-gallon storage tank ? a two day's supply of water ? the already treated liquid will be hauled in from 17 miles away, treated a second time and put into the town's water system.

"The hauling of water is just a Band-Aid approach. It's just a short-term approach," said Joe Don Dockery, a Burnet County commissioner that oversees the Spicewood area.

LCRA realized last week how dire the situation was, and informed Dockery on Monday. By the next day, the situation was worse ? the well had dropped another 1.3 feet overnight. The severest forms of water restrictions were put in place, and LCRA said there would be no new hookups to the town's water supply.

Ryan Rowney, manager of water operations for the LCRA, said the agency plans to truck water into Spicewood for several more weeks while exploring alternatives, including drilling a new well or piping water from nearby Lake Travis. But the agency doesn't want to rush into any project, and prefers for now to pay $200 per truckload of water while ensuring the tens of thousands of dollars it will cost to find a permanent solution are well-spent.

"If we need to haul every day, we will. This will probably go on for several more months," Rowney said.

Trucks, including at least one 6,000 gallon tanker, will make about four or five deliveries a day, he said, but the town will still have to remain under the severest water restrictions.

"All you can do is take a bath, a shower, and that's really all you're allowed to do. You can flush the commode, but even that we're asking people to do judiciously," Rowney said.

Spicewood is a community about 35 miles from Austin, home to many retirees who spend their weekdays in the city and drive to their lakeside homes on the weekends. Residents are now being careful, taking shorter showers, and some are even bringing their clothes to Laundromats.

Until last week, when it became clear they could run out water, the most exciting event in Spicewood was the upcoming wild game chili cookoff advertised on a roadside sign at the entrance to the small community.

"When we had water it was pretty nice here," deadpanned Riley Walker a 73-year-old state transportation employee.

Walker bought land in Spicewood in 1988 when only a handful of families lived here. He built a house and moved into town full time in 2002.

"I have faith they will haul water in. They don't really have a choice, there are a lot of people here," Walker said.

Joe Barbera, president of the local property owner's association, said residents have been "really worried about this for a long time now," but have always been conservation minded.

"You look around and you don't see any immaculate lawns," he added. "This is just normal use for a normal community."

For more than a year, nearly the entire state of Texas has been in some stage of severe or exceptional drought. Rain has been so scarce lakes across the state turned into pools of mud. One town near Waco, Groesbeck, bought water from a rock quarry and built a seven-mile pipeline through a state park to get water. Some communities on Lake Travis moved their intake pipes into deeper water. And Houston started getting water from an alternative, farther away reservoir when Lake Houston ran too low.

And even though it has started to rain more this winter, it's not enough to fill the arid state's rivers and lakes.

A few inches of rain certainly won't be enough to fill Spicewood's wells.

"We're talking about rainfall events of 20 inches plus. Huge, huge flood events to bring the lake levels up," Rowney said, explaining that many parts of Texas can no longer wait for the rain. "The downside of that is that everyone's praying for a flood, well floods can be bad too."


Plushnick-Masti contributed to this report from Houston. You can follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com//RamitMastiAP

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2012-01-30-Texas%20Drought-Wells%20Run%20Dry/id-dd7151a77b3041ed8bdc5504729195d3

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Guns N' Roses Announce Six U.S. Tour Dates

Axl Rose and company to revisit NYC venue where they performed their 'Live at the Ritz' concerts 24 years ago.
By Andrea Duncan-Mao

Guns N' Roses' Axl Rose
Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

All that's old is new again. Axl Rose and his revamped Guns N' Roses will revisit their beloved New York when they launch their Northeast tour in February.

In 2011, the band completed a sold-out international tour and will kick off 2012 with a series of intimate shows in the States, starting with New York. Beginning February 10, they will perform a three-show series in the city, the cornerstone of which will be at the club Webster Hall, which was originally called the Ritz. This is where GN'R played one of their most famous concerts, "Live at the Ritz," in 1998. For their return, the venue will revert to its original name, complete with new signage and marquee, and fans can wax nostalgic about the days when Guns were the biggest band on the planet.

Additional cities include Chicago; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Atlantic City, New Jersey. No word yet if more dates will be announced.

The stark difference this time around is that the original members of the group — namely Duff McKagan, Slash and Izzy Stradlin — will not be there. Axl remains the only original member in this latest incarnation of GN'R, and the latest crew has yet to release a new album. The last Guns N' Roses release was back in 2008 with Chinese Democracy.

McKagan currently lives in Seattle and has had success with his bands Velvet Revolver and Loaded, while the top-hat-wearing Slash, who was also in Velvet Revolver, has guested on tracks from Michael Jackson and Rihanna and is a major figure in the "Guitar Hero" video games.

Guns N' Roses tour dates, according to a press release:

» 2/10 - New York, NY @ Roseland Ballroom
» 2/12 - New York, NY @ Terminal 6
» 2/15 - New York, NY @ The Ritz (Webster Hall)
» 2/19 - Chicago, IL @ House of Blue
» 2/23 - Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
» 2/24 - Atlantic City, NJ @ House of Blues

Related Artists

Source: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1678152/guns-roses-us-tour-six-dates.jhtml

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Monday, January 30, 2012

WPSL suspends 2012 season

updated 12:39 p.m. ET Jan. 30, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - Women's Professional Soccer won't play the 2012 season amid a legal dispute with an ousted owner.

The league's Board of Governors voted Monday to suspend the season with hopes of resuming in 2013, the WPS announced.

In October, it terminated its South Florida franchise after clashing with owner Dan Borislow all season. A Florida judge ruled earlier this month that the league failed to follow its own dispute procedures when it terminated the franchise, and another court hearing is set for Wednesday.

WPS CEO Jennifer O'Sullivan said owners chose to cancel the season over possibly working with Borislow in the league again.

"We have diverted so many resources into litigation," she said. "This is something that needs to be resolved before we can move forward with play."

Borislow purchased the former Washington Freedom before last season and moved the club to South Florida, renaming it for a telephone call device he invented. The magicJack franchise was repeatedly disciplined during the season for not meeting league standards. In August, after Borislow filed suit against the WPS, the league released a statement accusing him of violations ranging from "unprofessional and disparaging treatment of his players to failure to pay his bills."

The league has played three seasons. It needed a waiver from the U.S. Soccer Federation to be sanctioned as a first-division league in 2012 with only five teams, below the required eight. In the deal with the governing body in December, WPS agreed to increase the number of teams to a minimum of six for 2013 and at least eight for 2014.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Arsenal recovers

Roundup: Arsenal kept its bid to end a seven-year trophy drought on track Sunday.

Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/46191711/ns/sports-soccer/

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

On selfish genes and human behaviour

I?m safely back from my honeymoon, and I was catching up on the Scientific American articles when I found one that quite disturbed me. I don?t usually use this blog as a forum for thoughts about things that aren?t bacteria, but this is something I found important, particularly as I?ve spent most of the holiday reading Mary?Midgely books.

The article is by Michael Shermer, and you can read it here. It?s about human deception and deception-deception (the process by which we?deceive?ourselves into believing our deceptions). Called ?the lies we tell ourselves? I?ll do a quick summary here:

It starts off the main argument with the quote: ?A selfish gene model of evolution dictates that we should maximise our reproductive success through cunning and deceit?. It then points out that due to game theory we are aware that everyone else is also using cunning and deceit, which means the best way to go is to ?feign transparency and honesty and lure them into complacency before ?you defect and grab the spoils?. He finishes off with the idea that this is where morality comes from: ?It is not enough to fake being a good person ? you actually have to be a good person by believing it yourself and acting accordingly.?

So that is how human?behaviour?works. If you?re a cunning, sneaky, nasty person it?s because that?s how your genes tell you to be. If you?re a good, honest and truthful person it?s because you?ve successfully managed to buy your ?own con.

Is this way of thinking justified?


Starting at the beginning then with that wonderful ?selfish-gene model of evolution?. The ?selfish gene? was a?metaphor?used by Dawkins to explain gene-based evolution. Genes are not literally selfish any more than rocks are. And selfish was just one word, ?opportunistic? might have been a better one, because genes don?t work alone. Many of them need other genes, or entire gene clusters in order to function. They need proteins, and the study of protein evolution and epigenetics is an exciting subject in its own right. There?s been some interesting work as well into lipid evolution and how the composition of the cell membrane when cells divide can determine their fate. No gene is an island.

And even if ?selfish? is a useful metaphor to explain genetic behavour, why on earth is it a sensible idea to abstract that up to human behaviour? Sure our genes help to determine our behavour, but so do our proteins, our neurons, our cells, our social surroundings and a whole host of other factors. Individual cells in the human body are not selfish, they are in fact highly cooperative and communist. Each cell must obey orders exactly, and if it doesn?t it must commit suicide instantly. There are some cells that break away into an individualist life of freedom but these are cancer cells.

Why must the selfish-gene model predict human behavour, why not the communist-cell one?

In fact, why not go further down? Why not look at the way atoms, or quarks behave, and then say that humans must behave like that!

Two glances around in any human society will tell you that humans are manifestly not selfish individuals all waiting for a change to ?defect and grab the spoils?. Human society doesn?t work like that. If you break down society, people don?t just scatter to the selfish winds, they form new little societies to survive within. Look at the internet ? a great anarchic gathering of people from all societies, with no rules thrust upon them, and what are the most popular sites (disregarding pornography)? Social networks, social forums and online communities. People like being social, they like being with others. Sure they exhibit selfish?behaviour?within those societies, but they also show?behaviour?which is loving, altruistic, angry, excited, and a whole range of emotions that the ?selfish-gene? model does not abstract too. There is no reason to?arbitrarily?decide that any?conventionally??Good? emotion is a deception-deception.

Human societies evolve by human cooperation. By the sharing of knowledge and resources, by the protecting of those more vulnerable, and the slow and shaky development of general morals. These morals are decisions made by the society (or occasionally by the one tyrant in charge of the society, but nothing is perfect) about what?behaviours?are?acceptable. Looking at society this way isn?t it just as justifiable that cooperation and sharing are the ?natural? human?behaviours? That people who cheat are somehow?deceiving?themselves into believing that they don?t need society, and have?deceived?themselves so well that they believe it?

These ?aren?t identical to the way our genes behave because people are not genes.?Behaviours?are?emergent?properties of humanity, not dictated attributes of our component parts. People are largely made up of water, yet no-one suggests that lying down and sort of sloshing around is natural human?behaviour.

If you want to study human morality, you really need to start asking philosophers. That?s what they?re there for. Historians, anthropologists, even literature students and?theologians?are?equipped?with the understanding and the tools used to discuss human society, emotions and?behaviour. This is an area that scientists can find interesting, and even contribute too, but in studies of?behaviour?and morality science is simply not the major player.

I?m sure there are great ways to build a secular civil society. But basing your foundations on the unjustified abstraction of a dodgy metaphor is not a good way to go about it.


Source: http://rss.sciam.com/click.phdo?i=a40d9f89a12e91172dc733a16cebdf08

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BP emails reveal company veiling spill rate (AP)

NEW ORLEANS ? On the day the Deepwater Horizon sank, BP officials warned in an internal memo that if the well was not protected by the blow-out preventer at the drill site, crude oil could burst into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 3.4 million gallons a day, an amount a million gallons higher than what the government later believed spilled daily from the site.

The email conversation, which BP agreed to release Friday as part of federal court proceedings, suggests BP managers recognized the potential of the disaster in its early hours, and company officials sought to make sure that the model-developed information wasn't shared with outsiders. The emails also suggest BP was having heated discussions with Coast Guard officials over the potential of the oil spill.

The memo was released as part of the court proceedings to determine the division of responsibility for the nation's worst offshore oil disaster, which began when the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, 2010, killing 11 men about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast. The first phase of the trial is set to start Feb. 27.

BP officials declined to comment on the emails late Friday.

The official amount of oil that flowed from the well was pegged at 206 million gallons from at least April 22 until the well was capped on July 15, a period of 85 days. That's a daily flow rate of about 2.4 million gallons ? two-thirds of the way to BP's projection of what could leak from the well if it was an "open hole." BP has disputed the government's estimates.

Having an accurate flow rate estimate is needed to determine how much in civil and criminal penalties BP and the other companies drilling the well face under the Clean Water Act.

In the memo, a BP official urges not to share the flow-rate projections and refers to the "difficult discussions" the company was having at the time with the Coast Guard.

Gary Imm, a BP manager, told Rob Marshall, BP's subsea manager in the Gulf, to tell the modeler doing the estimates "not to communicate to anyone on this."

"A number of people have been looking at this we already have had difficult discussions with the USCG on the numbers," Imm said in the email string, referring to the Coast Guard and flow estimates.

On April 23, 2010, the Coast Guard, relying on BP's remotely operated vehicles, said no oil was leaking from the well a mile under the sea. A day later, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry announced that oil was leaking an estimated rate of 42,000 gallons a day. The Coast Guard and BP did not divulge how they reached that figure.

In the second week after the spill, the official flow rate was increased to 210,000 gallons a day, an estimate the government continued to use until May 27.

On May 24, BP informed Congress they used an "undisclosed method to generate much higher figures" than the official estimates, according to a report from a presidential commission investigating the spill. BP estimated that the flow rates were between 210,000 gallons and 1.6 million gallons a day, the January 2011 report said.

As the spill grew into weeks and months, and soiled fishing grounds, beaches and coastal marshes, independent scientists questioned the official flow rates. Eventually, the federal government convened teams of government and independent scientists to determine how much oil leaked out of the well. They came up with an official estimate of about 2.4 million gallons of oil a day on average.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mexico/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120128/ap_on_re_us/us_gulf_oil_spill_flow_rate

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bisping continues to question Sonnen?s manhood over low testoterone

CHICAGO -- Maybe it's a good thing Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen didn't have months to promote their fight tomorrow night on the UFC on Fox 2 at the United Center. One can only imagine the depths the trash talk would've sunk to.

Sonnen's testosterone replacement therapy is the popular subject this week for the Brit, who suggests that the American is less than a complete male. Early in the week on HDNet, Bisping alleged that Sonnen has a physical abnormality.

"[...] He's been submitted more times than I care to mention. Not to mention, the last time he lost a fight by submission, there were some issues involving performance enhancing drugs," Bisping said. "I don't know what the deal is. Apparently, he has one testicle. One testicle! This is why he uses performance enhancing drugs. He's gonna need more than one little ball to fight me next weekend!"

Sonnen served a one-year suspension for not properly disclosing that he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy before his UFC 117 fight in California. Bisping is not a fan of fighter using TRT.

"If Sonnen needs TRT, then he's is the wrong sport. If you need TRT, then perhaps you should be carrying a purse and a handbag, and wearing a dress," Bisping told The Telegraph's Gareth A. Davies. "This is a fight sport, and Alpha males shouldn't need testosterone from anywhere else."

Strangely enough, that quote emerged from a conversation where Bisping discussed using a sports psychologist. That topic could certainly open the door for some counter-fire from Sonnen. Stay tuned, there's still 30-plus hours until the fight.

Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mma-cagewriter/bisping-continues-sonnen-manhood-over-low-testoterone-194252587.html

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Obama Borrows from Republicans in State of Union Speech (ContributorNetwork)

Barack Obama ripped off key components of Jon Huntsman's stump speech during his State of the Union address. Obama also recycled Rick Perry's rhetoric and borrowed from Newt Gingrich.

Manufacturing Renewal

Huntsman "made increasing American manufacturing a central tenet of his economic platform" according to Shira Schoenberg of the Boston Globe. It was a centerpiece of his stump speech when he crisscrossed New Hampshire prior to the primary. Huntsman predicted that jobs that had been off-shored were going to be repatriated to the U.S. as foreign countries were losing their cost-competitiveness.

In Peterborough, Huntsman said, "That window is open and we need new policies to take advantage of it," according to the Bangor Daily News.

During his State of the Union address, Obama talked about his "blueprint for an economy that's built to last -- an economy built on American manufacturing," according to the White House transcript.

Obama also adopted Huntsman's "nation building here at home" theme. Huntsman had said the U.S. should not remain behind in Afghanistan for the purpose of nation building. Praising a "new greatest generation" of military personnel returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, Huntsman called for nation building here at home.

Talking about the military and his boosting of the Veterans Administration budget, Obama said, "it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation."

Trust Deficit

Obama also borrowed the climax of Huntsman's stump speech, his "Trust Deficit" theme. Obama vowed to levy a fee on banks to aid mortgage holders whose homes are underwater as it "will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust."

Huntsman took a hard-line against big banks, denouncing the "too big to fail" ethos, according to the Bangor Daily News. Huntsman proposed taxing America's six largest banks to raise revenue to reduce taxes on non-financial corporations, according to Time Magazine.

Obama adopted the same policy, but named a different beneficiary.

Later, Obama said, "I've talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad -- and it seems to get worse every year."

During the January 7 GOP presidential debate, Huntsman said, "...[W]e have a serious trust deficit in this nation. The American people now longer trust our institutions of power. And they no longer trust our elected officials," according to the Washington Post transcript.

Perry & Gingrich

When articulating his energy policy, Obama used Rick Perry's "all-of-the-above" phraseology.

In a May 2010 speech on educational financing, Perry said, "Texas has more nuclear power plants under development than any other state?as we continue to pursue our all-of-the-above strategy to meet our state's power needs," according to his official Web site. It's a phrase Perry used during his presidential campaign.

According to Time, Obama purloined the title of Newt Gingrich's book, "Winning the Future" when he told Congress "Don't let other countries win the race for the future."

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120127/pl_ac/10890023_obama_borrows_from_republicans_in_state_of_union_speech

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Barrier proposed as Israel border?

Israel is proposing to essentially turn its West Bank separation barrier into the border with a future state of Palestine, two Palestinian officials said Friday, based on their interpretation of principles Israel presented in talks this week.

The officials said Israeli envoy Yitzak Molcho told his Palestinian counterpart that Israel wants to keep east Jerusalem and consolidate Jewish settlements behind the separation barrier, which slices close to 10 percent off the West Bank. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing strict no-leaks rules by Jordanian mediators.

The proposal would fall short of what the Palestinians seem likely to accept, especially because it would leave Jerusalem on the "Israeli" side of the border.

But it would also mark a significant step for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has spent most of his career as a staunch opponent of Palestinian independence.

And if talks advance in such a direction, it could also spell the end for his nationalist coalition, where key members would consider the abandonment of most of the West Bank ? a strategic highland and biblical heartland ? an unforgivable betrayal.

Israel has confirmed that it presented principles this week for drawing a border with a Palestinian state. But the politically charged nature of the talks ? even though they were held at a relatively low level, below that of Cabinet ministers ? was reflected in the guarded refusal by any top official to discuss details.

An Israeli government official said that as far as he knew, the information was incorrect, but declined to elaborate or go on the record, citing Jordan's demand for discretion.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, one of the closest Cabinet ministers to Netanyahu, said he has been supporting such an offer for months, and that Israel should concentrate on preserving the large West Bank settlement blocs, close to the pre-1967 border. But he could not confirm whether the offer was in fact made.

"I do not know if (Molcho) said these words exactly, but it would be great," Meridor told The Associated Press.

The Palestinian officials ? one a senior member of the leadership ? said Molcho told the Palestinians that Israel wants to live peacefully beside a Palestinian state.

It would be the most detailed offer yet from Netanyahu on how much he wants to keep of the lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War ? the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

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The Palestinians want to establish their state in virtually all of these lands ? although they do seem ready to accept minor adjustments, through land swaps in which Israel keeps some of the largest settlements.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is certainly unlikely to consider a proposal that keeps east Jerusalem under Israeli control. The eastern sector of the city is home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian sites.

And Israel's position, as described by the Palestinians, is less than what was offered by Netanyahu's predecessors, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who were willing to discuss a partition of Jerusalem as well.

About half a million Israelis settled in east Jerusalem and the West Bank after 1967, including tens of thousands east of the barrier.

Israel started building the barrier in 2002, in the midst of a Palestinian uprising that included scores of deadly attacks by Palestinian militants who crossed from the West Bank into Israel and blew themselves up among civilians.

Israelis have generally credited the barrier ? along with other punitive measures ? with stopping the spate of incursions several years ago.

However, it was routed in a way that raised questions about Israel's claim that it was a temporary security measure ? weaving through the West Bank, looping wide around some settlements to leave room for expansion, and looking very much like a border a future Israeli government might argue for. The Palestinians condemned it from the start as a land grab.

Story: Israel senses bluffing in Iran's retaliation threats

The Palestinian officials also said that Molcho portrayed the Jordan Valley, which makes up about one-fourth of the West Bank and borders Jordan, as a strategic Israeli security asset. However, that wording suggests less than a demand for firm territorial control.

Netanyahu has said he wants a continued Israeli presence on the eastern border of a future Palestinian state as part of any peace deal.

Netanyahu has long argued Israel needs the area as a security buffer ? protection against possible attack from the east.

The 1994 peace treaty with Jordan eased this concern ? but the Arab Spring has given it new life: although it is almost never discussed by officials, mindful of riling Jordan, many in Israel ponder a nightmare scenario in which the Jordanian monarchy falls to Israel's enemies, who then pour weapons and militants into the West Bank, reaching within miles (kilometers) from its major cities.

A senior Israeli military official said last week the Israeli army had to consider in its planning the possibility of heightened threats from east of the West Bank.

Israeli officials have said any presence in the Jordan Valley could be reviewed over time.

Abbas, meanwhile, is under growing pressure from the Quartet of Mideast mediators ? the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia ? to continue the talks with Israel, which began earlier this month. The Quartet had asked the sides to present detailed proposals on borders and security arrangements.

The Palestinians argue that the period set aside for the contacts ended Thursday, or three months after the Quartet issued its marching orders. Israel says the intention was to have three months of talks, and so wants meetings to continue.

Abbas will consult Monday with senior officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization and his Fatah movement. Later next week, he will also seek advice from the Arab League.


Perry reported from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46166579/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/

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This is getting nasty now


Though the Cleveland Plain Dealer still has not acknowledged the move on its website (other than to finally remove his name and face from the roster), Tony Grossi no longer covers the Browns as a beat writer, following the accidental publication of a private Twitter message that called Browns owner Randy Lerner? (pictured) ?pathetic? and an ?irrelevant billionaire.?

Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis tells PFT that the Browns have no comment on the situation.

There?s still no evidence that the Browns pressured the Plain Dealer to make the move.? Per a source with knowledge of the situation, however, both Lerner and president Mike Holmgren refused to accept calls from Grossi after the message was posted and deleted.? We?re also told that a meeting occurred Wednesday between Plain Dealer publisher Terry Eggar and Holmgren.

The Plain Dealer has been nearly as silent as the Browns.? Managing editor Thom Fladung called the Kiley & Booms radio show on 92.3 The Fan this morning to explain the decision, and Fladung?s explanation was less than persuasive, in our opinion.

The decision to remove Grossi from the beat was driven by this ?determining factor? articulated by Fladung:? ?Don?t do something that affects your value as a journalist or the value of your newspaper or affects the perception of your value and the perception of that newspaper?s value.?

That?s a pretty broad ? and vague ? rule.? And that?s the kind of standard that gives a news organization the ability to do pretty much whatever it wants whenever it wants, because there?s pretty much always something to which someone can point as proof of ?something that affects your value as a journalist or the value of your newspaper or affects the perception of your value and the perception of that newspaper?s value.?

Making Fladung?s ?determining factor? even more confusing is the fact that he admitted that Grossi could have deliberately expressed a strong opinion about Lerner in a column published and printed in the Plain Dealer without conseqeuence.? ?Let?s say Tony had written that Randy Lerner?s lack of involvement with the Browns and their resulting disappointing records over the years has made him irrelevant as an owner, that?s defensible,? Fladung said.? ?That?s absolutely defensible.?

What?s indefensible is the failure of the Plain Dealer to acknowledge the fact that Grossi never intended to make the statements available for public view.? He fell victim to the subtle but significant differences between a ?direct message? (which is private) and a ?reply? (which is public) on Twitter.? It was an accident.? A mistake.

Let?s go back to the days of typewriters and shorthand, and let?s say that Grossi?s editor has two boxes on his desk.? One is for article submissions and one is for proposed topics.? And let?s say that Grossi scribbled out a scathing column about Lerner as a proposed topic, but Grossi accidentally put it in the box of actual submissions for print.

That?s the low-tech version of what happened here.? Grossi accidentally put his message in the wrong box.

So when Fladung says he ?felt very strongly? that the Twitter message ?was inappropriate and unprofessional and . . . it?s not the kind of opinion a journalist covering a beat can express,? Fladung presumes that Grossi actually intended to articulate that opinion to the world.? He didn?t.? It was inadvertently blurted out, like a temporary case of Twitter Tourette?s.

Some have suggested that the Twitter blunder provided the Plain Dealer with a vehicle for addressing pre-existing concerns regarding Grossi?s overall job performance.? Undercutting that theory was Fladung?s assertion during the radio interview that Grossi is a ?very good? and ?very successful? beat writer.

I?m continuing to write about this because it?s the kind of mistake that could happen to anyone, and everyone should be entitled to the benefit of the doubt in a case like this, especially when newspapers and other media companies want their writers to engage with the audience through various new technologies and platforms.? It also just ?feels? like an unjust result, whether because the Plain Dealer is being obtuse or because the Plain Dealer is cowering to the Browns or because the Browns are remaining deliberately silent in order to secure the preferred outcome of having Grossi removed from the beat.

Regardless, we?re disappointed in the Plain Dealer, in Fladung, in the Browns, in Lerner, and in Holmgren.? And we hope that one or more of them will snap out of it and do the right thing, or at least let the rest of us know in far more convincing fashion why they believe the right thing was done.

Source: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/01/26/irsay-calls-peyton-manning-a-politician/related/

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

How To Fight off a Pack of Hungry Wolves

Good news: After years of hiding out in the Explainatorium like a banished superhero, answering submitted questions from deep inside the fortress, the Explainer has decided to soar out into the world, pen in hand, to spread peace and understanding among the column's faithful.

And so we present a new, occasional feature on?Slate: the?Explainer House Call. Do you have a family disagreement over some fact or pseudo-fact? Are you stuck in an endless argument with an annoying co-worker or a friend? Have your attempts to Google your way out of it only pushed you both into the?filter bubbles?of the Internet? Worry no more: The Explainer will be your arbiter and your savior, an avenging angel of argument, slinging thunderbolts of pure reason and drenching your squabbles in the heavy rain of explanation.

How does one qualify for this personal Explainer service? To get a house call, and have the Explainer resolve your special beef in?Slate, you must first gain the support of your peers. What factual matter has been driving you and your friend/spouse/co-worker bonkers in recent weeks? Post a short summary on?our Facebook page?or?Tweet us the question?with the hashtag #ExplainerHouseCall. Then we'll ask the members of Explainer Nation to vote for the dispute that's most deserving of the Explainer's attention.

(Winners: Please note that the Explainer will not actually visit your house.)

Source: http://feeds.slate.com/click.phdo?i=7221d5db8a0b19294a144470e85886b0

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Rand Paul 'detained' by TSA. Does that happen to other senators?

TSA could hardly have singled out a worse person for pat-down treatment than Sen. Rand Paul, up-and-coming libertarian standard-bearer and son of GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul. He's not the only one on Capitol Hill to complain about pat-downs.

Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky was detained by the Transportation Security Administration Monday at the Nashville airport, in case you haven?t heard. A millimeter wave scanner detected an ?anomaly? in the area of his knee, according to Senator Paul, and TSA agents then said he?d have to undergo a full-body pat-down. Paul said he wouldn?t submit to such a search and offered to show agents his knee, instead. They said that wouldn?t suffice.

Skip to next paragraph

This stand-off apparently escalated to the point where Paul was cornered in a cubicle for a bit ? that?s where the ?detained? allegations come in.

Eventually the TSA allowed Paul to board another flight for Washington. The second time through, the scanner didn?t see anything in the vicinity of the senatorial kneecap, apparently. This has led Paul to believe that the scanner never saw an ?anomaly? at all, and that it is set to go off randomly?so as to pick out unwitting travelers for extra-close inspection.

?Two people from the TSA told me there are random bells and whistles that go off,? said Paul Monday afternoon during an interview with CNN?s Wolf Blitzer on ?The Situation Room.?

TSA officials confirmed such an incident occurred Monday, but declined to identify the passenger involved as Paul, citing privacy concerns. White House spokesman Jay Carney took a similar approach, and then defended TSA actions.

?Passengers, as in this case, who refuse to comply with security procedures are denied access to the secure gate area,? Mr. Carney said. ?I think it is absolutely essential that we take necessary actions to ensure that air travel is safe, and I believe that is what TSA is tasked with doing.?

Hmm. Well, we?ve got a few points to make here. The first, and obvious, one is that the TSA could hardly have singled out a worse person for pat-down treatment. Rand Paul is an up-and-coming libertarian stalwart, the son of presidential contender Ron Paul, and he?s not going to go quietly off after this and buy magazines in the gift shop. He?s going to do what he did: go on CNN and accuse TSA of not protecting America.

?I don?t feel more safe [because of TSA protection],? Paul told Mr. Blitzer.

Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/feeds/csm/~3/aKpb1p21nKM/Rand-Paul-detained-by-TSA.-Does-that-happen-to-other-senators

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Workers to pump oil from grounded cruise Saturday (AP)

ROME ? A barge carrying a crane and other equipment hitched itself to the toppled Costa Concordia on Tuesday, signaling the start of preliminary operations to remove a half-million gallons of fuel from the grounded cruise ship before it leaks into the pristine Tuscan sea.

Actual pumping of the oil isn't expected to begin until Saturday, but officials from the Dutch shipwreck salvage firm Smit were working on the bow of the Concordia on Tuesday, making preparations to remove the fuel.

They were at work as divers located another body from the wreckage, bringing the death toll to 16.

Officials have identified an initial six tanks that will be tapped, located in a relatively easy-to-reach area of the ship. Franco Gabrielli, head of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Tuesday that once the tanks are emptied, 50 percent of the fuel aboard the ship will have been extracted.

The pumping will continue 24 hours a day barring rough seas or technical glitches in this initial phase, he said.

"This is a complicated operation," Gabrielli warned. Smit has estimated the extraction operation could last a month.

The Concordia ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13 after the captain veered from his approved course and gashed the ship's hull on a reef, forcing the panicked evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.

So far 16 bodies have been found, including one located on the third floor deck on Tuesday. At least six of the badly decomposed bodies remain unidentified, and are presumed to be among some of the 17 passengers and crew still unaccounted for.

Divers, meanwhile, continued blasting holes inside the steel-hulled ship to ease access for crews searching for the missing. The search and rescue operation will continue in tandem with the fuel removal operation.

On Monday, islanders and officials spotted an oil film on the water about 300 meters (yards) from the wreck. Absorbent panels were put around the oil to soak up the substance and officials said Tuesday it was a very thin film that didn't present any significant levels of toxicity.

Giglio and its waters are part of a protected seven-island marine park, favored by VIPs and known for its clear waters and porpoises, dolphins and whales.

Gabrielli said he had formally asked Costa Crociere SpA, the owner of the Concordia, to come up with a plan for what to do with the innards of the ship that are floating away ? the tables and chairs and other furniture that are being hauled away by barge on a daily basis.

And he said he had asked provincial authorities to designate a site on the mainland where the material can be dumped.

Costa is a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's biggest cruise operator.

It has blamed the captain, Francesco Schettino, for the disaster, saying he made an unauthorized and unapproved deviation from the route. Schettino remains under house arrest facing accusations of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all passengers were off.

Early Tuesday, amid continued outrage by passengers of the chaotic evacuation, Costa promised to refund the full cost of the cruise, reimburse all travel expenses to and from the ship, all on-board expenses and any medical expenses incurred as a result of the grounding.

"Every effort will be made to return the valuables left in the cabin safe," Costa said in a statement.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/topstories/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120124/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_italy_cruise_aground

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Lawyer says ousted Egypt leader still president (AP)

CAIRO ? Hosni Mubarak's lawyer concluded his defense on Sunday, arguing that the ousted leader should be acquitted of criminal charges because he is technically still the president of Egypt.

Mubarak, who stepped down nearly a year ago, is charged along with his security chief and four police commanders of complicity in the killing of protesters during an 18-day uprising in January and February. They could face the death penalty if convicted. Mubarak and his two sons are facing separate charges of corruption in the same case.

Farid el-Deeb, Mubarak's chief defense lawyer, said during the closure of arguments that spanned five court sessions that Mubarak did not formally resign and should enjoy immunity from prosecution.

He said Mubarak gave verbal instructions to his vice president Omar Suleiman to announce that he was delegating the armed forces to "run the affairs of the nation," something that he said did not amount to a resignation.

"This court is not qualified to try him and he must be acquitted," said el-Deeb, a suave celebrity lawyer.

El-Deeb received a round of applause from other defense lawyers when he finished his statements. Lawyers for the victims responded with chants of, "Execution, execution," and, "Down, down with Mubarak."

Addressing Mubarak, a former air force chief and a decorated war hero who ruled Egypt for 29 years, el-Deeb said: "You, Mubarak, are a wounded eagle in the sky. Don't be sad, be tough, for you are not any better than the Prophet."

He was alluding to the persecution endured by Islam's seventh-century Prophet Muhammad during the early days of his prophecy in what is now Saudi Arabia.

El-Deeb has argued in previous hearings that a 1979 law issued by Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat gave the ousted leader immunity from being tried before a civilian court as a hero of the nation's 1973 war against Israel.

Mubarak and his two sons, wealthy businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal, were arrested in April following mass protests calling on the generals who took control of Egypt to detain them and try them. The trial began on Aug. 3.

Nearly 40 stalwarts of the Mubarak regime, including two former prime ministers and several key cabinet ministers and regime-linked businessmen, are currently held in a prison south of Cairo. Some of them have been convicted and are serving jail terms, while others are awaiting trial.

However, activists behind the uprising that toppled Mubarak's regime say the ruling generals, led by the ousted leader's defense minister of 20 years, are not serious about dismantling the former regime.

They say the generals remained beholden to Mubarak, whose consent was essential to their rise through the ranks.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/topstories/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120122/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt_mubarak_trial

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mitchell: 'We won't let Joe's legacy die' (AP)

Former Penn State star Lydell Mitchell visited Joe Paterno about a week and a half ago, hoping to get just a moment with his ailing coach.

After an emotional hour and a half, Mitchell said goodbye and told Paterno that he would always have the support of his players.

"I said, `Hey, man, we love you.' We'll fight the fight for him," Mitchell said Sunday after Paterno died at age 85.

"Joe's legacy will always be intact because we won't let Joe's legacy die," said Mitchell, who played running back at Penn State from 1968-72.

Paterno won more games (409) than any coach in major college football history during 46 seasons at Penn State.

"I think history will say that he's one of the greatest," former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, second on the wins list, told The Associated Press. "Who's coached longer? Who's coached better? Who's won more games? Who's been more successful than Joe? Who's done more for his university than Joe? You've lost one of the greatest. He probably means the same thing up there that Bear Bryant meant down here. He's an icon."

Paterno died from complications of lung cancer less than three months after he was ousted amid a child sex abuse scandal involving one of his former assistants.

"It's just sad because I think he died from other things than lung cancer," former Penn State tight end Mickey Shuler said.

Paterno began his coaching career at Penn State in 1950 as an assistant coach under Rip Engle.

That's when Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore played for the Nittany Lions. Moore joined Mitchell ? they both played for the Colts and live in Baltimore ? for that trip to State College a couple weeks back.

Moore said he, Mitchell, Paterno and Paterno's wife, Sue, sat around the kitchen table and talked until it got dark and the visitors needed to get back.

"We talked the whole time and he was very together," Moore said. "Didn't look like he was having any pain. We told him we loved him and we left.

"I'm glad that we had the opportunity to do it. And I was glad that I told him how I felt about him."

Mike Guman, who played fullback for Penn State in the late 1970s, said the Paterno's legacy will be carried on by the many people whose lives he has touched.

"Football's a small part of his legacy, but it goes far beyond that," he said. "You could have become a good football player at many places but you wouldn't have become the man you are if you didn't go to Penn State."

Guman said he didn't think Paterno was treated fairly at the end of his time at Penn State and Mitchell agreed.

"They knew Joe was going to retire (at the end of last season)," Mitchell said "They could have let that play out but I think they panicked and jumped the gun."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he was fortunate to have developed a personal relationship with Paterno over the last few years. In Meyer's last game at Florida, his Gators beat Penn State.

"We have lost a remarkable person and someone who affected the lives of so many people in so many positive ways," Meyer said in statement. "His presence will be dearly missed. His legacy as a coach, as a winner and as a champion will carry on forever."


Associated Press Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120122/ap_on_sp_co_ne/fbc_paterno_sports_reax

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Ex-South Africa player stabbed to death in club

Associated Press Sports

updated 11:35 a.m. ET Jan. 21, 2012

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -Police say a footballer who played five times for South Africa was stabbed to death in a nightclub.

Jeffrey Ntuka was killed in the early hours of Saturday.

Michael Hughes, a representative of Ntuka's agent, Stella Africa, told football website Kickoff.com the player was killed in the central South African town of Kroonstad.

The 26-year-old defender had been in the squad of local giants Kaizer Chiefs for two years but was without a club this season after his contract with Supersport United expired.

? 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More newsGetty Images
First American EPL hat trick

??Clint Dempsey became the first American to score a hat trick in England's Premier League, helping Fulham rally from a halftime deficit to rout Newcastle 5-2 Saturday.

Getty Images
Best of the US

Abby Wambach and Clint Dempsey are voted top players by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/46081918/ns/sports-soccer/

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Plane crashes in New Zealand, killing 2 aboard (AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand ? A small plane has crashed in a New Zealand park, killing both people aboard.

Authorities say the two-seater Yak aircraft fell into a playing field Monday in the town of Feilding on the country's North Island.

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks says the plane left from an airfield a few miles (kilometers) from the crash site and was flying for about 25 minutes before it went down. Perks says witnesses saw the private plane performing acrobatics before the crash.

Perks says the two men believed to have been aboard are widely known in the region. Authorities are not releasing their names pending notification of their next of kin.

Investigators were traveling to the scene of the crash.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/oceania/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120123/ap_on_re_as/as_new_zealand_plane_crash

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

With fuel transfer to Nome complete, ships prepare for 300 mile return trip home

While the goal of transferring 1.3 million gallons to Nome was successful, there is still a long journey ahead for the ships and crew before their mission is really over.

AP reports:

"I don't really feel like it is over yet until everybody is safely through the ice," said Jason Evans, board chairman of Sitnasuak Native Corp., the corporation that arranged for the tanker delivery.

Evans called the transfer of the fuel "a huge milestone" but said the mission was not over. The tanker and icebreaker still need to get out of the frozen ice and back home, he said.

The plan is for the icebreaker to help get the tanker back through the ice and to open water where the tanker will head for Russia. The icebreaker will go to Dutch Harbor, Alaska to drop off supplies and then to its home port in Seattle.

Read the full story.

See more images of the icebreaker's journey to Nome in PhotoBlog.

Source: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/20/10199994-with-fuel-transfer-complete-ships-prepare-for-300-mile-return-trip-home

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'Man On A Ledge' Takes Sam Worthington To The Edge

Actor talks to MTV News about role as a cop 'battling for his life in the ultimate extreme.'
By Kevin P. Sullivan, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Sam Worthington in "Man on a Ledge"
Photo: Summit

When walking into a theater to see a movie called "Man on a Ledge," it may seem like there isn't a whole lot of mystery to what the film will be about. But it has to get more complicated from there, right? To find out, MTV News' Josh Horowitz visited the New York City set and talked to the stars themselves.

"The movie is called 'Man on a Ledge.' It's about a guy on a ledge," said Anthony Mackie, one of the stars of the film.

Mackie's co-star Elizabeth Banks expanded on the plot and revealed more of the mystery. "Really, everything's in the title," she said. "It's about a man on a ledge, and the people around him who are trying to figure out why he's on the ledge, and how to get him off the ledge before he falls off and dies."

During the visit, Josh Horowitz sat on the ledge to speak with the man himself, Sam Worthington.

Worthington explained that obviously there's more to the movie than the man and his ledge. What makes it worth watching is the story behind the man: A good cop was framed and wrongfully sent to prison, and after a thrilling escape, he takes to the ledge in order to prove his innocence once and for all. "This is his retrial," Worthington said.

"Good action really comes down to the stakes, what's at stake, whether it's rescuing the girl, getting the diamonds or whatever," Worthington said. "He's battling for his life in the ultimate extreme, just on a ledge. He's on the edge on the ledge. Because the stakes are so high, I think that's why we can label it a thriller, an action thriller."

But even with high stakes, a movie taking place primarily on the side of building has a limited amount of space to move within. Banks said that even though Worthington's character is more or less stuck, there's still a lot of movement. "He moves around, though, on the ledge, and I think also he's constantly in danger. We're really trying to keep him alive, even though he doesn't want to jump," Banks said. "There is always a danger that you could slip and fall. You have to unravel an entire scenario that's happening."

The scenario Banks referred to is the heist going on across the street, the whole reason behind the man on the ledge and his desperate attempt to clear his name.

For Worthington, "Man on a Ledge" has provided challenges as an actor he doesn't face every day. "This one's been different because I've been having to talk. I'm having to act for the first time probably ever," he said.

That might not be what you expect from a movie with such a simple title, but Worthington learned from Mackie that acting is exactly what the movie requires. "Mackie's done these kinds of movies, and he said to me, 'Our job is to ground the action,' " he said. "That's always what I've been trying to do. If we can get away with it on this one, it's not just a gimmick movie then."

Are you excited for "Man on a Ledge"? Let us know in the comments section!

Source: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1677532/man-on-a-ledge-sam-worthington.jhtml

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ice Cream Headache Alert: You Can Get Free Wendy's Frostys for the Rest of 2012 [Hobomodo]

The best thing at Wendy's is the Frosty. Now you can get them for free for the rest of 2012, all while supporting a good cause (I think it's a good cause, at least). But who cares: free Frosty! More »

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Obama rejects Canada-Texas oil pipeline ? for now (AP)

WASHINGTON ? Raising the stakes on a bitter election-year fight with Republicans, President Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected a Canadian company's plan to build a U.S.-spanning, 1,700-mile pipeline to carry oil across six U.S. states to Texas refineries.

Though the project promises thousands of temporary jobs for the recovering U.S. economy, Obama said a February deadline set by Congress would not allow for a proper review of potential harm from the $7 billion Keystone XL project.

"As the State Department made clear last month, the rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment," Obama said.

The plan proposed by Calgary-based TransCanada would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Republicans assailed Obama's decision as a job-killer and said the fight wasn't over.

And the State Department said the decision was made "without prejudice," meaning TransCanada can submit a new application once a route through environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska is established.

Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, said the company plans to do exactly that. If approved, the pipeline could begin operation as soon as 2014, Girling said.

Republicans were not assuaged.

Newt Gingrich, campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination in South Carolina, called Obama's decision "stunningly stupid," adding: "What Obama has done is kill jobs, weaken American security and drive Canada into the arms of China out of just sheer stupidity."

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has said of the Canadian crude oil: "It's going to go to China if we don't build it here."

But Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada Corp.'s president for energy and oil pipelines, said last week the company soon will have a new route through Nebraska "that everyone agrees on."

For now, though, Mitt Romney, the Republican nomination front-runner, called Obama's decision "as shocking as it is revealing," adding that it "shows a president who once again has put politics ahead of sound policy."

House Speaker John Boehner said Obama was breaking his promise to create jobs.

"This is not the end of this fight," said Boehner, R-Ohio. He called the pipeline good for the U.S. economy and a major job creator.

The pipeline proposal has forced the White House to make a politically risky choice between two important Democratic constituencies. Many labor unions back the project because of the prospects of new jobs in a fragile economy. Environmental groups fear the pipeline could lead to an oil spill disaster.

Some liberal donors threatened to cut off funds to Obama's re-election campaign to protest the project, which opponents say would transport "dirty oil" that requires huge amounts of energy to extract.

Obama said his decision was not based on the pipeline's merits but on what he called an arbitrary Feb. 21 deadline set by Republicans in Congress. GOP lawmakers set the deadline as part of a tax bill that Obama signed into law just before Christmas.

"I'm disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration's commitment to American-made energy that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on oil," Obama said.

Under his administration, domestic oil and natural gas production is up, while imports of foreign oil are down, Obama said.

"In the months ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security," Obama said.

To underscore the point, Obama signaled that he would not oppose development of an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. TransCanada already operates a pipeline from Canada to Cushing, Okla.

Refineries in Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast can handle heavy crude such as that extracted from Canadian tar sands ? the type of oil that would flow through the Keystone XL pipeline.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was profoundly disappointed that Obama turned down the pipeline.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he doesn't believe the Keystone XL is a dead project. He said the Obama administration did not have enough time to review the project, given the Republican-imposed timeline.

"I don't believe this is the end of the story," Conrad told The Associated Press. "My personal view is that it should be constructed. It's clear Canada is going to develop this resource, and I believe it is better for our country to have it go here rather than Asian markets."

Bill McKibben, an environmental activist who led opposition to the pipeline, praised Obama's decision to stand up to what he called a "naked political threat from Big Oil." Jack Gerard, the oil industry's top lobbyist, had said last week that Obama faced "huge political consequences" if he rejected the pipeline.

"It's not only the right thing, it's a very brave thing to do," McKibben said. "That's the Barack Obama I think people thought they were electing back in 2008."


Associated Press writers Dina Cappiello, Ben Feller and Laurie Kellman in Washington, Shannon McCaffrey in Warrenville, S.C., and Ramit Plushnick-Masti in Houston contributed to this story.

Follow Matthew Daly on Twitter: (at)MatthewDalyWDC

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/politics/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120118/ap_on_bi_ge/us_oil_pipeline

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Apple starts selling interactive iPad textbooks (AP)

NEW YORK ? Apple Inc. on Thursday launched its attempt to make the iPad a replacement for a satchel full of textbooks by starting to sell electronic versions of a handful of standard high-school books.

The electronic textbooks, which include "Biology" and "Environmental Science" from Pearson and "Algebra 1" and "Chemistry" from McGraw-Hill, contain videos and other interactive elements.

But it's far from clear that even a company with Apple's clout will be able to reform the primary and high-school textbook market. The printed books are bought by schools, not students, and are reused year after year, which isn't possible with the electronic versions. New books are subject to lengthy state approval processes, making the speed and ease with which ebooks can be published less of an advantage.

Major textbook publishers have been making electronic versions of their products for years, but until recently, there hasn't been any hardware suitable to display them. PCs are too expensive and cumbersome to be good e-book machines for students. Dedicated e-book readers like the Kindle have small screens and can't display color. IPads and other tablet computers work well, but iPads cost at least $499. Apple didn't reveal any new program to defray the cost of getting the tablet computers into the hands of students.

All this means textbooks have lagged the general adoption of e-books, even when counting college-level works that students buy themselves. Forrester Research said e-books accounted for only 2.8 percent of the $8 billion U.S. textbook market in 2010.

Pearson PLC of Britain and The McGraw-Hill Cos. of New York are two of the three big companies in the U.S. textbook market. The third, Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, also plans to supply books to Apple's store, but none were immediately available.

The new textbooks are legible with a new version of the free iBooks application, which became available Thursday.

The textbooks will cost $15 or less, said Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing. He unveiled the books at an event at New York's Guggenheim Museum. Schools will be able to buy the books for its students and issue redemption codes to them, he said.

Albert Greco, a professor of marketing at Fordham University in New York and a former high-school principal, said schools would need to buy iPads for its students if it were to replace printed books.

It wouldn't work to let students who can afford to buy their own iPads use them in class with textbooks they buy themselves, alongside poorer students with printed books.

"The digital divide issue could be very embarrassing. Because if you don't have the iPad, you can't do the quiz, you don't get instant feedback ... that is an invitation for a lawsuit," Greco said. "I would be shocked if any principal or superintendent would let that system go forward."

Greco said hardback high-school textbooks cost an average of about $105, and a freshman might need five of them. However, they last for five years.

That means that even if an iPad were to last for five years in the hands of students, the e-books plus the iPad would cost more than the hardback textbooks.

At the private Xavier High School in New York, student Omar Soria welcomed the idea of getting rid of printed textbooks.

"They get pretty heavy, about maybe one pound per textbook. And depending on all the other books, which is binders and notebooks, it can get pretty heavy," he said.

Apple also released an app for iTunes U, which has been a channel for colleges to release video and audio from lectures, through iTunes. The app will open that channel to K-through-12 schools, and will let teachers present outlines, post notes and communicate with students in other ways.

Greco called the new app "a shot across the bow" of Blackboard Inc., a privately held company that provides similar electronic tools to teachers. It, too, has applications for cellphones and tablets.

Apple also revealed iBook Author, an application for Macs that lets people create electronic textbooks.

According to biographer Walter Isaacson, reforming the textbook market was a pet project of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, even in the last year of his life. At a dinner in early 2011, Jobs told News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch that the paper textbooks could be made obsolete by the iPad. Jobs wanted to circumvent the state certification process for textbook sales by having Apple release textbooks for free on the tablet computer.

Jobs died in October after a long battle with cancer.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/software/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120119/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_apple_textbooks

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Headphone-wearing pedestrian injuries triple as audiophiles stop noticing onrushing trains

The number of pedestrians injured or killed while wearing headphones has tripled in the last six years: 16 oblivious PMP users were offed in 2004, the number rising to 47 for last year. The research, carried out by Dr Richard Lichenstein at the University of Maryland found that headphone wearers became "inattentionally blind" to dangers such as passing cars and on-rushing trains. That's not us being flip either: 55 percent of the incidents involved locomotives. The majority of victims were male (68 percent) and under the age of 30 (67 percent): which puts your average Engadget reader in the center of the danger zone -- take it from us guys: sometimes it's better to press pause, "Baby, baby" will still be there when you've crossed the railway.

Headphone-wearing pedestrian injuries triple as audiophiles stop noticing onrushing trains originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 17 Jan 2012 17:34:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/17/headphone-wearing-pedestrian-injuries-triple-as-audiophiles-stop/

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