Tuesday, January 31, 2012

US negotiating for exhibition against Scotland

updated 6:39 p.m. ET Jan. 30, 2012

CHICAGO - The U.S. men's soccer team is negotiating to play Scotland in an exhibition game May 26 or 27.

The Americans, preparing for the start of World Cup qualifying, also are negotiating to play Brazil on May 30 or 31, at Landover, Md., or Foxborough, Mass.

U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe said Monday that they've been in discussions with a "number of federations about a game in late May, including Scotland. Nothing is finalized, and we'll continue to have those discussions."

The game against Scotland, the first for the U.S. since 2005, would be in the eastern or central part of the United States. The Americans open qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on June 8 at home against Antigua and Barbuda.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.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/46196408/ns/sports-soccer/

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Richard (RJ) Eskow: Do GOP Candidates and the Press Have a "Gentlemen's Agreement" Not to Discuss Social Security in Florida?

You'd think Social Security would top the list of subjects for a Presidential debate in Florida. How many questions did Wolf Blitzer ask about it during Thursday night's Republican debate in Jacksonville?

Answer: None. The words "Social Security" never passed his lips.

It was almost as if there were a "gentlemen's agreement" among the five people on the stage. And we use that phrase advisedly, since Blitzer sealed the boy's club atmosphere by asking each of the candidates why his wife would make the best First Lady.

The candidates did mention Social Security a couple of times, but only in passing and only in the most misleading ways possible. It's too bad there wasn't, oh, a journalist nearby - one who was inclined to ask follow-up questions.

What was said that night? Rick Santorum and Ron Paul both attacked Newt Gingrich from the right on Social Security. Santorum suggested that the Speaker's proposals, which would cut benefits, were too expensive and would "create a brand new Social Security entitlement."

Not true.

Ron Paul said that Gingrich's claim to have helped cut the Federal deficit was false - which is true. But then he said that the reason it's untrue is because Gingrich "doesn't count the money he takes out of Social Security" - which is false!

Confused yet? Stick around. The layers of artificial reality became as mind-bending as a Philip K. Dick novel when Gingrich responded.

Gingrich attacked Obama from the left on Social Security:

I propose that we take Social Security off budget so no president can ever again get threaten, as Obama did in August, that he would not send the check out, and you could set Social Security back up as a free-standing trust fund. It does have enough money and you could in fact pay the checks without regard to politics in Washington.

Those two sentences include five statements. Let's take a look:

  • "I propose that we take Social Security off-budget ..." It's already is off-budget, if by "off-budget" Gingrich meant that it's forbidden to contribute to the national deficit. It's required by law to be an entirely self-funded program.

  • "No president can ever threaten ... that he would not send the check out ..." Obama suggested that checks might not be delivered if the budget impasse closed the government, which would always remain a possibility unless Social Security were removed from the government and privatized - which is Gingrich's real (and extremely unpopular) proposal.

  • "It does have enough money ..." True, and it's projected to have enough until some time in the mid- to late 2030's, at which point it would pay 75 percent of benefits if nothing else was changed. Most GOP proposals to fix this "crisis" would cut benefits even more.

  • "... you could in fact pay the checks without regard to politics in Washington." That's why the program was designed to be self-funded - so that, in Franklin D. Roosevelt's words, "no damn politician" could ever cut its benefits.
What Gingrich doesn't say is that he wants to privatize Social Security with a plan that would ultimately cut benefits and put what's left at risk for the next financial crisis, while making trillions of dollars for Wall Street. He also keeps pushing the widely disproved notions that it's a "Ponzi scheme" and "a fraud." (The best takedown of those ideas was done in 1958 by a bipartisan panel convened by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

President Obama could have prevented these kinds of disingenuous attacks a lot more effectively if he had not done things like appoint two avowedly anti-Social Security figures to lead his "Deficit Commission," repeatedly offered to cut Social Security, and then used the payroll tax that funds Social Security for a "middle-class tax break" that also benefits millionaires.

He even repeated the offer to cut Social Security and Medicare in last week's "Occupy-themed" State of the Union message! Oy. Still, any one of the candidates onstage last Thursday would do even more to cut the program needlessly - far more.

So why wasn't it a topic that Blitzer and CNN considered important enough to discuss? When Santorum first mentioned Social Security, Blitzer said "We're going to get to that in a moment." Iit sounded like the "it" in question was Social Security, but Blitzer never mentioned it again.

I can certainly understand why the candidates didn't want the subject raised. More than three and a half million Republican voters rely on Social Security, including seniors, disabled people, and surviving spouses. In fact, the candidates in Tuesday's primary would be crazy not to hide their opinions on the topic:

Mitt Romney's been pushing to privatize Social Security for years. After the financial crisis of 2008, Americans understand how risky it would be to place their financial security in the hands of greedy, reckless, and irresponsible financiers - or as Mitt probably thinks of them, "the fellas."

Ron Paul says Social Security is "unconstitutional."

All of the candidates would raise the retirement age - except Paul, who presumably would end Social Security altogether.

With proposals like these, who wouldn't want to keep the Sunshine State in the dark? An AARP survey showed that likely Republican voters in Florida oppose Social Security cuts by more than two to one. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, a slight majority would favor raising the retirement age, but more Republicans favor the solution that's typically called "progressive" - lifting or raising the cap on payroll taxes so that higher income levels are subject to the tax. All four Republican candidates strongly oppose this idea, which is their voters' preferred option.

"We're afraid that (Social Security's) going to be cut," said one voter, "or that we're going to lose what we put into it." Those are precisely the kinds of options the candidates in Tuesday's primary are offering. No wonder they're zipping their lips on the subject.

Some voters noticed the omission. As USA Today reported on the morning before the debate, "people are frustrated that the Republican presidential candidates have largely avoided the issues of Medicare and Social Security." You'd think that would have made the subject even more important for CNN to raise. A news organization's job is to ask candidates the questions they don't want asked. Surely they could have squeezed one in, perhaps after asking the First Lady question? (Gingrich graciously said they'd all be wonderful at the job.)

Remember the movie "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead"? This week's Florida primary should be renamed "Don't Tell Grandma Social Security Will Be Dead - and Medicare Too - If We're Elected." Mitt Romney's already on record as saying income inequality shouldn't be discussed openly. Was there some sort of "gentleman's agreement" to ignore Social Security too?




Follow Richard (RJ) Eskow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rjeskow

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/do-gop-candidates-and-the_b_1240758.html

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Romney lead over Gingrich up in Florida: poll (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney's lead over rival Newt Gingrich edged up to 12 percentage points in Florida, according to Reuters/Ipsos online poll results on Sunday, as Romney's front-runner status stabilized and Gingrich continued to slip.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive, was supported by 42 percent of likely Florida voters surveyed in the online three-day tracking poll, just down from 43 percent in the same poll on Saturday. Romney was at 41 percent on Friday.

But with just two days before the state's primary on Tuesday, Gingrich's support was at 30 percent, down from 32 percent in Saturday's results and 33 percent on Friday.

The gap between the two was 11 percent when poll respondents were asked about a hypothetical head-to-head race between the rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in the general election in November.

If the race were between Romney and Gingrich only, Romney would be at 55 percent to Gingrich's 44 percent, according to the Sunday's results. On Saturday the gap between the two was eight percentage points and on Friday it was just two, when respondents were asked the same question.

"Newt Gingrich's position in the primary race is really starting to lose support," said Chris Jackson, research director for Ipsos Public Affairs.

The poll results, similar to those of several other surveys, illustrated Romney's remarkable turnaround since South Carolina's primary on January 21, which Gingrich won in a surprise upset.

"Gingrich got a big boost out of South Carolina, but he's losing that," said Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak.

"It's clear that Romney's run a much more focused and effective campaign in Florida than Newt," he said. "Newt's playing defense every single day in every way and doesn't seem to be able to make Romney play defense."

Romney had two strong debate performances this week and has jumped to a solid lead over Gingrich, whom he had trailed in earlier opinion polls in Florida. He has taken steady aim at Gingrich on the debate stage and in attack ads as a politician who left government under an ethics cloud and has remained a Washington insider ever since.


Romney has a solid advantage in money and organization over Gingrich in Florida, and the month ahead does not look much better for the former speaker as the state-by-state race for the Republican nomination continues.

Four states with February contests - Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota - use caucus systems, which can require greater organization to rally voter turnout. That could help Romney take advantage of his superior financial and staff resources.

On February 28, Michigan and Arizona hold primaries. Romney was raised in Michigan, where his father was a governor and car executive.

"February does not look like a good month for Newt," Mackowiak said.

But his failure to gain more support among likely voters in Florida's primary, which is limited only to registered Republicans, shows that Romney is still not electrifying the party faithful. "He's not the guy that everyone loves and rallies behind," Jackson said. "He's not getting that huge rally of support."

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum trailed well behind with 16 percent support, the same as Saturday's level. Santorum seemed to be gaining momentum as an "alternate" to Romney. Thirty-eight percent of likely voters said he would be their second choice if their first choice left the race, up from 33 percent on Saturday and 30 percent on Friday.

But it is probably too close to the January 31 vote to make a difference, Jackson said.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is not campaigning in Florida, was at 6 percent.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online surveys, but this poll of 726 likely voters in the Florida primary has a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points for registered voters.

Sunday's Reuters/Ipsos survey is the third of four daily tracking polls being released ahead of Tuesday's Florida primary.

(Reporting By Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/tech/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120130/pl_nm/us_usa_campaign_poll

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bucks trample travel-sick Lakers (Reuters)

(Reuters) ? The Milwaukee Bucks, missing key starters, stunned the travel-sick Los Angeles Lakers 100-89 Saturday, helped by a herculean effort from Drew Gooden.

The Bucks (8-11) were without leading rebounder Andrew Bogut, who has a broken ankle, while second top scorer Stephen Jackson sat out the game with suspension.

Gooden filled the void with 23 points - 18 coming in the second half - and eight rebounds, Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova scoring 15 points each coming off the bench.

The loss dropped Los Angeles (11-9) to a woeful 1-7 on the road.

Gooden hit a three pointer late in the first quarter to spark a 17-0 Milwaukee run that extended into the second quarter to turn a six-point deficit into an 11-point lead at 34-23.

"I've been working on that day-in and day-out, and the best thing I like about it is coach (Scott Skiles) is giving me the confidence to shoot it," Gooden told reporters.

"I have to thank my coach and my teammates for having the faith in me shooting that three, and it is helping our offense."

Outside of a brief Lakers surge near the end of the third quarter that trimmed the Bucks lead to three points, Milwaukee maintained a comfortable grip on the lead.

Dunleavy scored 10 points in the first half but went silent in the second half until scoring five points in a 40-second span in the final two minutes of the game.

That spurt helped push the Bucks' lead back to an insurmountable 11 points.

"As so often happens, they made a little run at us and we had to make some big shots and big plays - and tonight we made them," said Skiles.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with a near triple double, including 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, while the Bucks limited Andrew Bynum to 15 points.

Spaniard Pau Gasol grabbed 15 rebounds but scored just 12 points.

"Before the game, the question was, 'How are we going to guard Bynum and Gasol?' And I kept saying they've got to guard us also," said Skiles.

"We put them in as many pick-and-roll situations as possible. We made (Lakers coach) Mike Brown have to switch the coverage numerous times.

"They got a little confused out there on certain occasions and it led to open jump shots or we made a play to the open man."

Brown lamented his team's poor play away from home

"I just hope that we don't need a home crowd to get us juiced, to play the right way," he said. "We're not bringing it mentally nor physically when we're playing on the road."

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario. Editing by Alastair Himmer)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120129/sp_nm/us_nba_nuggets

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'Bad losers' and?'animals'

Associated Press Sports

updated 12:11 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2012

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has labeled Real Madrid's players bad losers and animals after his club won their latest ill-tempered matchup.

Barcelona eliminated cup holder Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey quarterfinals with Wednesday's 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou.

El Mundo newspaper's website released Barca TV footage on Friday of Xavi caught off camera speaking about the game.

"In the changing room, they were (complaining). They're unbelievable - they don't know how to lose," the Spain midfielder said.

Xavi's comments will do little to calm the tense rivalry as he also labeled Madrid players "animals" for their physical challenges, specifically Lassana Diarra after the Madrid midfielder escaped a second booking in the closing moments of the first half.

"I said to him, you just showed (Lionel) Messi a yellow card and now the second one, what happened to it? Send him off," Xavi said he told referee Fernando Teixeira, adding: "It's the player who is responsible, especially if you challenge like an animal."

Madrid ended the match with 10 men after Sergio Ramos was sent off in the 88th minute, and Madrid was vocal in its criticism of Teixeira.

Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka, speaking instead of coach Jose Mourinho as he often does, responded to Xavi's statements on Friday.

"Of course Real Madrid knows how to accept losing, but not in that manner," Karanka said.

Mourinho criticized Teixeira in the postgame news conference and reportedly waited for the referee after the game to voice his opinion.

"Teixeira, you'll go and smoke a cigar now and laugh without feeling any bit of shame," El Mundo Deportivo newspaper quoted Mourinho as saying to Texeira, publishing a photo of the coach in the Camp Nou car park.

Karanka offered a qualified defense of Mourinho.

"Everyone knows our coach has a certain way of being, and there are times when he is OK and others when he's not," Karanka said.

While Madrid played perhaps its best match against Barcelona since Mourinho's arrival in 2010, the team has lost nine times and won only once in the last 14matches against its fiercest rival.

Madrid leads the Spanish league by five points at the halfway point of the season, with three-time defending champion Barcelona in second spot.

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


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'Bad losers' and?'animals'

Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has labeled Real Madrid's players bad losers and animals after his club won their latest ill-tempered matchup.

Hope for Solo

Ailing U.S. goalie Hope Solo practices ahead of Friday's do-or-die game vs. Costa Rica.

Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/46163353/ns/sports-soccer/

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Despair, crackdowns breed more violence in Tibet

(AP) ? A young man posts his photo with a leaflet demanding freedom for Tibet and telling Chinese police, come and get me. Protesters rise up to defend him, and demonstrations break out in two other Tibetan areas of western China to support the same cause.

Each time, police respond with bullets.

The three clashes, all in the past week, killed several Tibetans and injured dozens. They mark an escalation of a protest movement that for months expressed itself mainly through scattered individual self-immolations.

It's the result of growing desperation among Tibetans and a harsh crackdown by security forces that scholars and pro-Tibet activists contend only breeds more rage and despair.

That leaves authorities with the stark choice of either cracking down even harder or meeting Tibetan demands for greater freedom and a return of their Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama ? something Beijing has shown zero willingness to do.

"By not responding constructively when it was faced with peaceful one-person protests, the (Communist) party has created the conditions for violent, large-scale protests," said Robbie Barnett, head of modern Tibetan studies at New York's Columbia University.

This is the region's most violent period since 2008, when deadly rioting in Tibet's capital Lhasa spread to Tibetan areas in adjoining provinces. China responded by flooding the area with troops and closing Tibetan regions entirely to foreigners for about a year. Special permission is still required for non-Chinese visitors to Tibet, and the Himalayan region remains closed off entirely for the weeks surrounding the March 14 anniversary of the riots that left 22 people dead.

Video smuggled out by activists shows paramilitary troops equipped with assault rifles and armored cars making pre-dawn arrests. Huge convoys of heavily armored troops are seen driving along mountain roads and monks accused of sedition being frog-marched to waiting trucks.

For the past year, self-immolations have become a striking form of protest in the region. At least 16 monks, nuns and former clergy set themselves on fire after chanting for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

China, fiercely critical of the Dalai Lama, says Tibet has been under its rule for centuries, but many Tibetans say the region was functionally independent for most of that time.

In a change from the individual protests, several thousand Tibetans marched to government offices Monday in Ganzi prefecture in Sichuan province. Police opened fire into the crowd, killing up to three people, witnesses and activist groups said.

On Tuesday, security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters in another area of Ganzi, killing two Tibetans and wounding several more, according to the group Free Tibet.

On Thursday in southwestern Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, a youth named Tarpa posted a leaflet saying that self-immolations wouldn't stop until Tibet is free, the London-based International Campaign for Tibet said. He wrote his name on the leaflet and included a photo of himself, saying that Chinese authorities could come and arrest him if they wished, group spokeswoman Kate Saunders said in an email.

Security forces did so about two hours later. Area residents blocked their way, shouting slogans and warning of bigger protests if Tarpa wasn't released, Saunders said. Police then fired into the crowd, killing a a 20-year-old friend of Tarpa's, a student named Urgen, and wounding several others.

The incident, as with most reported clashes in Tibetan areas, could not be independently verified and exact numbers of casualties were unclear because of the heavy security presence and lack of access. The topic is so sensitive that even government-backed scholars claim ignorance of it and refuse to comment.

The government, however, acknowledged Tuesday's unrest, saying that a "mob" charged a police station and injured 14 officers, forcing police to open fire on them. The official Xinhua News Agency said police killed one rioter and injured another.

"The Chinese government will, as always, fight all crimes and be resolute in maintaining social order," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in comments on the incident.

The harsh response points to a deep anxiety about the self-immolations, said Youdon Aukatsang, a New Delhi-based member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

"They're worried that there is an underground movement in Tibet that is coming to the surface," she said.

Tibetan desperation has been fed both by the harsh crackdown ? security agents reportedly outnumber monks in some monasteries ? along with a deep fear that the Dalai Lama, probably the most potent symbol of Tibet's separate identity, will never return.

The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate handed his political powers to an elected assembly last year. That was intended to ensure the Tibetan cause would live on after him, but was met with considerable anxiety among many Tibetans who saw it as a sign he was giving up his role as leader of their struggle.

Dibyesh Anand, a Tibet expert at London's University of Westminster, said resistance to Chinese rule is likely to grow more fierce.

"Protests will get more radicalized since the Tibetans in the region see no concession, no offer of compromise, no flexibility coming from the government," he said.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2012-01-28-AS-China-Tibet-Spiral-of-Violence/id-eff7f9cfff0b4d36b9d3bc3d2732bb0d

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Video: Gingrich endorsed from behind bars

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Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/vp/46168985#46168985

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Russia launches cargo spaceship (AP)

MOSCOW ? Russia's space agency says an unmanned cargo ship carrying 2.6 tons of supplies and equipment has lifted off for the International Space Station.

Roskosmos says the Progress M-14M blasted off early Thursday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz-U booster rocket.

The ship is scheduled to dock at the space station early Saturday with a cargo of oxygen, food, scientific equipment and gifts for the crew.

The space station's six members include three Russians, two Americans and a Dutchman.

The decade-old station is orbiting about 225 miles (360 kilometers) above Earth and consists of 13 modules.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/space/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120126/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_space_station

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Gingrich Rockets Past Romney on the Space Issue (ContributorNetwork)

COMMENTARY | The all-important Florida primary could create the most closely watched "Space Race" since the United States and the Soviet Union competed for aerospace glory. And in this battle, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is likely to blast off past ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

As Newt Gingrich announced a John F. Kennedy-like speech on space exploration for Florida, cynics are likely to see it as nothing more than election year politics designed to appeal to a narrow slice of voters in a key state. But Gingrich has always been pro-space since he came to Congress.

In the 1980s, Newt Gingrich helped found the Congressional Space Caucus, designed to get legislators of both parties to support space exploration and ward off budget cuts, according to The Space Review by Jeff Foust. Foust writes that Gingrich was also "a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society. In several debates and campaign appearances over the last several months Gingrich, in response to questions and sometimes of his own volition, has brought up space policy."

This is more than just public talk as well. Gingrich pushed hard for space exploration behind closed doors in negotiations with the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, according to the U.S. News and World Report in a 2008 article. "Gingrich viewed it [the abortion issue] as a bargaining chip that could be used to exact concessions from Democrats on issues that were more important to him, such as increased spending for defense and space exploration," the U.S. News and World Report staff wrote.

Romney himself is no real fan of the space program, according to Foust. Though he endorsed Bush's space speech in 2004, he has never supported increasing NASA's budget. He opposes the idea of a lunar mining colony, and has used space spending to tease Gingrich, calling him "Newt Skywalker." Romney has changed his tune since coming to the Sunshine State, but he's more of a "Johnny-come-lately" on the issue, rather than a John Glenn on space enthusiasm.

In a neck-and-neck nomination battle, the Republican nominees are looking for any votes that they can. And Romney's early anti-space jibes against Gingrich were good for laughs in Iowa, but are likely to put him in the category with the Russians, looking at the American Apollo 11 moon landing with envy.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/science/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120126/sc_ac/10888035_gingrich_rockets_past_romney_on_the_space_issue

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Libyan government concedes to restive town's demands (Reuters)

TRIPOLI (Reuters) ? Libya recognized a tribal-based local government in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid on Wednesday, illustrating the power of tribal leaders over the fragile interim government.

Fighters from the Warfallah tribe -- the dominant tribe in Bani Walid and the most populous in Libya -- drove out a pro-government militia from the town this week.

Salah al-Maayuf, a member of the Warfallah Elders Council in Bani Walid, said his tribal body appointed a new local council on Tuesday and that Defense Minister Osama al-Juwali recognized the body during all-day talks on Wednesday.

"The Defense minister told us that if we, as a tribe, believe that the new local council in Bani Walid will work, then we have convinced him that it can," Maayuf told Reuters from Bani Walid, a bastion of support for former leader Muammar Gaddafi during last year's rebellion.

"We told him that we want to keep the whole country peaceful

and that national unity was a priority," Maayuf added.

An official at the Defense ministry confirmed that Juwali had accepted the new council, but did not give further details.


Juwali is a member of the provisional government installed in November by the National Transitional Council (NTC), the self-appointed body which won Western backing in the uprising that ousted Gaddafi in August.

On Monday, armed residents attacked the barracks of the NTC force in the town, killing four fighters by the account of the government militia, and forcing the unit to retreat to beyond the desert city's limits. Eight of the town's residents were also killed, doctors at the hospital said.

Echoing complaints by residents that the NTC fighters had been harassing people, making arrests and abusing prisoners, the town's elders said on Tuesday they did not want any interference from the Tripoli authorities and dismissed the local NTC council.

The unrest will heighten doubts about the NTC's ability to bring order and establish control over armed groups - goals crucial to rebuilding oil exports and securing Libya's vast desert borders in a region where al Qaeda is active.

Bani Walid, in Libya's Western Mountains 150 km (90 miles) south of Tripoli, was one of the last towns to surrender to the anti-Gaddafi rebellion last year. But residents reject accusations from NTC fighters that they remain loyal to Gaddafi.

After Gaddafi was captured and killed in October, one of his sons, the now captive Saif al-Islam, staged his last stand in Bani Walid before fleeing into the Sahara.

Reuters reporters who toured Bani Walid on Tuesday saw no signs of the Gaddafi-era green flags which NTC supporters said had been hoisted over the town following the retreat of the pro-government militia.

Some pro-Gaddafi graffiti remains in the town, but the most common banners flying were the red, green and black tricolor of the NTC.


Bani Walid is not alone. Towns and cities across Libya are being run with little reference to central authority. In a number of areas tensions have emerged between groups which were nominally allies in the revolt.

Abdul Azziz al-Jmaili, a resident of Bani Walid, said government forces were around the town to prevent escalating fighting.

Speaking to Reuters by telephone, Jmaili said a "peacekeeping force" comprised of units of former rebel fighters loyal to the NTC and drawn from other towns in the region had set up checkpoints in the outskirts of Bani Walid.

(Additional reporting by Taha Zargoun and Oliver Holmes; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120125/wl_nm/us_libya_talks

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Azarenka into women's final at Australian Open

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point against Kim Clijsters of Belgium during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point against Kim Clijsters of Belgium during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Kim Clijsters of Belgium hits a forehand return to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus prepares to serves to Kim Clijsters of Belgium during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Kim Clijsters of Belgium reacts as she plays Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during their semifinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a forehand return to David Ferrer of Spain during their quarterfinal at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

(AP) ? Victoria Azarenka reached her first Grand Slam final and staked a claim for the No. 1 ranking when she beat defending champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday.

The third-seeded Azarenka recovered her composure twice in periods when a resurgent Clijsters seemed to have the upper hand, breaking the veteran Belgian's serve three times in the third set to secure victory in only her second appearance in a major semifinal.

The 22-year-old Belarusian will play either Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova in the Saturday night final. Azarenka, Kvitova and Sharapova can all finish the tournament with the No. 1 ranking.

After a strong start, Azarenka's serve deserted her in the second set and Clijsters dictated play with her solid groundstrokes and some amazing defense.

But after getting the momentum back, it was Clijsters who blinked first in the third set, dropping serve in the second game and again in the fourth. She got two of those service games back, including one when she rallied from 40-0 down to win a game to get the score back to 4-3.

But Azarenka rallied immediately again, breaking serve. She got triple match point trying to serve out the match and, after a double-fault on her first, she clinched it on a Clijsters' error.

Azarenka threw her racket on the court and sank to her knees, bent over with her hands covering her face. Clijsters came around the net to congratulate her.

"I felt like my hand is about 200 kilograms and my body is about 1,000 and everything is shaking, but that feeling when you finally win is such a relief. My God I cannot believe it's over. I just want to cry," Azarenka said as she choked back tears, then buried her face in the towel.

"It was just trying to stay in the moment. Kim really took over the second set and I felt there was nothing I could do. I just tried to regroup."

Clijsters is a popular player in Australia, where she's widely known as "Aussie Kim." The four-time major winner had most of the backing from the crowd on the national holiday in what is likely to be her last Australian Open.

Azarenka held her nerve despite the crowd.

"I guess before you all thought I was a mental case. I was just young and emotional," she said in a courtside interview. "I'm really glad the way I fight, that's the most thing I'm really proud of. I fight for every ball."

The Sharapova-Kvitova semifinal was next match on Rod Laver Arena.

On Wednesday night, top-ranked Novak Djokovic held off No. 5 David Ferrer in a second-set tiebreaker and then raced through the third set for a 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-1 win, setting up a rematch of last year's final against fourth-ranked Andy Murray and ensuring the 'Big 4' reached the semifinals for the third time in the last four majors.

With Nos. 2-4 already in the semis, Djokovic looked to be in trouble in the second set when he clutched at his left hamstring and had trouble breathing.

"No, I don't have any physical issues," Djokovic later said, playing down any health concerns. "I feel very fit and I feel mentally, as well, very fresh.

"It's just today I found it very difficult after a long time to breathe because I felt the whole day my nose was closed a little bit. I just wasn't able to get enough oxygen."

Murray beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 earlier Wednesday, while second-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Roger Federer were already preparing for their semifinal showdown on Thursday, their 10th clash at a major but their first meeting at that stage of a Grand Slam since 2005.

Doubts about Djokovic's temperament surfaced after he won his first major at the 2008 Australian Open and didn't reach another final for 11 Grand Slam tournaments. In his first title defense in 2009, he struggled with breathing problems and the heat and had to retire from his quarterfinal match against Andy Roddick.

Trying again to defend the Australian title, and again in the quarterfinals, Djokovic was leading by a set and a break when he dropped serve against Ferrer.

At break point, he scrambled to hit a lob on his backhand and didn't even wait for it to land out before turning to face the back of the court, grabbing at the back of his left leg. He leaned over and rested his head on the top of his racket. Ferrer was back in contention.

At times Djokovic looked exhausted and sore at times in the second set, but he pulled through.

"In these conditions, at this stage of the tournament, when you're playing somebody like David ... your physical strength and endurance comes into question," Djokovic calmly explained of his on-court demeanor. "Actually I'm not concerned about that at all."

That may not be how Murray's new coach, Ivan Lendl, sees it. Lendl has been working with Murray this month, trying to help him break his Grand Slam title drought ? he has lost three major finals, including the last two in Australia.

He was doing some scouting Wednesday night at Rod Laver Arena, sitting about 15 rows behind the Djokovic group, surrounded by people waving Serbian flags. He couldn't have missed the sideways glances Djokovic sneaked at his support crew. Murray and Djokovic know each other well, but haven't been on the same side of a Grand Slam draw for a while.

Murray said he's growing in confidence because he's "just more used to being in this position."

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2012-01-26-TEN-Australian-Open/id-81eaa5453bb24983916479c57682817b

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nate Silver's Florida Projections: Gingrich 66%, Romney 32% (Little green footballs)

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Police: 185 killed in north Nigeria sect attack (AP)

KANO, Nigeria ? Police say 185 people were killed in an attack by a radical Islamist sect on the northern Nigeria city of Kano.

In a statement issued late Monday, the department said 150 of the dead were civilians, 29 were police officers, three were secret police officers, two were immigration officers and one was a customs officer.

The announcement comes as police say they have found 10 unexploded car bombs in the city.

Friday's attack in Kano saw Boko Haram members hit police stations, immigration offices and the local headquarters of Nigeria's secret police, leaving corpses in the streets across the city.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KANO, Nigeria (AP) ? A police spokesman says authorities have found 10 unexploded car bombs in a northern Nigeria city where an attack by a radical Islamist sect killed more than 150 people.

Kano state police spokesman Magaji Musa Majiya said Monday that officers found one near a police station in the state capital of Kano, which was attacked by the sect known as Boko Haram. Majiya said officers have disarmed the explosive.

Majiya also said officers have found other locally made explosives.

The Nigerian Red Cross estimates more than 150 people died in Friday's attack in Kano after at least two Boko Haram suicide bombers detonated explosive-laden cars. The attack hit police stations, immigration offices and the local headquarters of Nigeria's secret police, leaving corpses in the streets across the city.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/africa/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120123/ap_on_re_af/af_nigeria_violence

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Health Insurance | Health Insurance

Long-term health insurance (also known as health insurance or Medi Claim) is a type of insurance to pay for her medical insurance expenses.The concept new to India, but awareness is growing rapidly. Health insurance is very useful in the event of a major emergency. Life is unpredictable, and secure insurance may be in possession of huge financial losses. Health insurance is a contract between an insurer and an individual. Sometimes associated with disability and prevention equipment. The contract is renewable annually. Affordable health insurance leads to salvation and freedom from uncertainty threatens to normal from time to time. The type and quantity of health care costs among health plan are specified in advance. Health plans that are available in two sizes, individual and group plans. One?s personal policy of the owner of the policy. During a group plan, the developer of the policy owners and those for whom it is named members.Medical costs are skyrocketing these days. See a doctor can churn out a lot of money. Medical expenses can eat up savings prepared for the future. Insurance to ensure you receive the necessary treatment and your wallet is still under control. Having health insurance is important because coverage helps people to get timely treatment and life and health. Covered by the risk of financial problems as a long illness. Awareness is surprising in the past two years. It should be in response to a number of uncertainties that people recently seen as the cost of health care insurance health scare attacks.Types seen a dramatic increase in recent times. This has led customers to not only themselves, but also their families. This includes future medical expenses and other related needs as it ever comes. The need to ensure that it is more important for the older retired generation won or will retire in the near future. We discuss the types of insurance available in the market. insurance this doctor typically include hospitals and reimbursement of medical expenses incurred in connection with a life threatening illness while the insured is hospitalized as a patient. There are several types of insurance available in the market, individual health insurance, medical insurance and medical insurance abroad. Policy for the cost of the existing hospital for treatment of a disease and has offered to pay for non-life insurance companies only. These policies are known as policy, ?Medi Claim. ? Other types of health insurance is provided by life and non-life insurance. Critical illness plan ensures against critical illness insurance risk of serious illness, in exchange for paying a premium. It gives you the assurance of knowing that a guaranteed sum of money to pay when the unexpected happens and you will be tested in a serious illness. Sometimes critical illness change your lifestyle, and help with home and family. In this type of insurance, insurance will receive a lump sum within days of the diagnosis of a serious illness. Once the specified amount is paid, the plan is no longer in force. Usually, the critical illness plan to provide coverage for below.BENEFITS disease: Benefit depends on the policy you choose and its coverage. Here is a list of the basic coverage by most health policies.1) helps to a better future by paying a fraction of a burden, now called premium.2) to save this theater a lot of financial losses, the risk of financial collapse in the case of medical illness and post-care.3 expensive) to reduce certainly caused a sense of security insured.4) provides financial security for the family members.5) hospital and medical bills can .6) also applies to disabled and bills.7 custody) makes use of tax benefits on premiums paid under that section 80D of the Income Tax Act.The factors may also choose even in the health insurance after 60 years.

This entry was posted in Health Insurance by mindy. Bookmark the permalink.

Source: http://healthinsuranceworld.org/why-health-insurance.html/

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EP legal service consistently overlooks known issues with ACTA ...

Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament about the EP legal service?s opinion on ACTA. (pfd version, see also press release)

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

In the coming months the Parliament will have to decide whether to give consent to ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) or not. In preparation, the INTA and JURI committees asked the Parliament?s legal service an opinion on ACTA.

We welcome the decision to release this opinion. We have compared the legal service?s opinion with multiple academic opinions on ACTA and some civil society analyses.

We found that many issues pointed out by academic opinions and the study commissioned by the INTA committee are not addressed by the legal service?s opinion.

The legal service fails to see major issues with damages, injunctions and provisional, border and criminal measures. The legal service consistently overlooks known issues. Taking the issues the legal service did not address into consideration, it is clear that ACTA goes beyond current EU law, the acquis.

The legal service underestimates problems with Internet governance and access to medicine. It fails to see ACTA is not compatible with fundamental rights, international agreements and the EU Treaties.

ACTA will negatively impact innovation, start up companies, mass digitization projects, access to medicines and Internet governance. ACTA threatens the rule of law and fundamental rights.

We call upon the Parliament to say no to ACTA.

Below we will present the main conclusions. Please find attached this letter as a pdf and the full analysis.

Yours sincerely,

Ante Wessels

Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure


1. Compatibility with current EU law

Damages: The legal service overlooks that ACTA?s damages based on retail price lead to damages based on an imaginary gross revenue, which is way beyond actual loss suffered. This issue has been pointed out by NGOs, the European academics Opinion and the EP INTA study. In our analysis, we provide some simple examples which show that ACTA?s damages are much higher than EU law damages.

Border measures: Both the European Academics Opinion on ACTA and the EP INTA committee study had pointed out there is a serious issue with the condition ?not discriminate unjustifiably?. The Commission did not provide the justification to limit ACTA to EU law. While the legal service quotes article 13 ACTA, it leaves out this condition. Since DG-Trade and the US Trade Representative undermine the Doha Declaration in other fora, there is also a threat to access to medicine.

Injunctions and provisional measures: The legal service does not address the issues with injunctions and provisional measures, pointed out in multiple academic opinions.

Compatibility: Taking the issues the legal service did not address into consideration, it is clear that ACTA goes beyond current EU law, the acquis.

2. Criminal measures: The legal service fails to see ACTA removes the scale element from the definition of the crime. The legal service fails to notice ACTA criminalises everyday computer use. ACTA can be used to criminalise newspapers and websites revealing a document, office workers forwarding a file, people making a private copy and whistle-blowers revealing documents in the public interest.

3. Internet: ACTA?s criminal and heightened civil measures will also apply to the digital environment. This will put pressure on Internet Service Providers, who may decide to pre-emptively censor Internet communications. ACTA incites privatised enforcement outside the rule of law.

4. Fundamental rights: To establish whether ACTA violates fundamental rights, fair balance tests are needed. The legal service does not provide any fair balance test. The 61 pages Douwe Korff & Ian Brown opinion provides many such tests. These tests show ACTA is manifestly incompatible with fundamental rights. Just providing a general reference to fundamental rights is not enough.

The ARTICLE 19 organisation ?finds that ACTA fundamentally flawed from a freedom of expression and information perspective. If enacted, it will greatly endanger the free-flow of information and the free exchange of ideas, particularly on the internet.?

Korff & Brown conclude: ?Overall, ACTA tilts the balance of IPR protection manifestly unfairly towards one group of beneficiaries of the right to property, IP right holders, and unfairly against others, equally disproportionally interferes with a range of other fundamental rights, and provides for (or allows for) the determination of such rights in procedures that fail to allow for the taking into account of the different, competing interests, but rather, stack all the weight at one end.

This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and -standards.?

5. Public health: The legal service mentions references to the TRIPS agreement and the Doha Declaration in the ACTA text. But the combination of heightened measures with a non binding reference to the Doha Declaration, and undermining the Doha Declaration in other fora does not provide sufficient safeguards for access to medicine.

6. International agreements: The legal service does not address the global pricing problem and the right to take part in cultural life. ACTA is not compatible with article 15 of the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),

The ARTICLE 19 organisation also notes issues with Article 15 of the ICESCR, and with articles 17 and 19 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

7. EU Treaties: ACTA is not compatible with article 21 Treaty on European Union (TEU): ?The Union?s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles (?): democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms (?)?

Nor is ACTA compatible with articles 3.3, 3.5 and 5 Treaty on European Union.

Source: http://acta.ffii.org/?p=1057

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Congress and Cuts (TIME)

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Obama's State of the Union: Jobs, re-election time

President Barack Obama pauses before shaking hands at a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

President Barack Obama pauses before shaking hands at a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

President Barack Obama sings before speaking at a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, at the Apollo Theatre in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Vilified by the Republicans who want his job, President Barack Obama will stand before the nation Tuesday night determined to frame the election-year debate on his terms, using his State of the Union address to outline a lasting economic recovery that will "work for everyone, not just a wealthy few."

As his most powerful chance to make a case for a second term, the prime-time speech carries enormous political stakes for the Democratic incumbent who presides over a country divided about his performance and pessimistic about the nation's direction. He will try to offer a stark contrast with his opponents by offering a vision of fairness and opportunity for everyone.

In a preview Saturday, Obama said in a video to supporters that the speech will be an economic blueprint built around manufacturing, energy, education and American values.

He is expected to announce ideas to make college more affordable and to address the housing crisis still hampering the economy three years into his term, people familiar with the speech said. Obama will also propose fresh ideas to ensure that the wealthy pay more in taxes, reiterating what he considers a matter of basic fairness, the officials said.

His policy proposals will be less important than what Obama hopes they all add up to: a narrative of renewed American security with him at the center, leading the fight.

"We can go in two directions," Obama said in the campaign video. "One is toward less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few."

That line of argument is intended to tap directly into concerns of voters who think America has become a nation of income inequality, with rules rigged to help the rich. The degree to which Obama or his eventual Republican opponent can better connect with millions of hurting Americans is expected to determine November's presidential election.

Obama released his video hours ahead of the South Carolina primary, where Republican candidates fought in the latest fierce contest to become his general election rival.

The White House knows Obama is about to get his own stage to outline a re-election vision, but carefully. The speech is supposed to an American moment, not a campaign event.

Obama didn't mention national security or foreign policy in his preview, and he is not expected to break ground on either one in his speech.

He will focus on the economy and is expected to promote unfinished parts of his jobs plan, including the extension of a payroll tax cut that is soon to expire.

Whatever Obama proposes is likely to face long odds in a deeply divided Congress.

More people than not disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy, and he is showing real vulnerability among the independent voters who could swing the election. Yet he will step into the moment just as the economy is showing life. The unemployment rate is still at a troubling 8.5 percent, but at its lowest rate in nearly three years. Consumer confidence is up.

By giving a sneak peek to millions of supporters on his email list, Obama played to his Democratic base and sought to generate an even larger audience for Tuesday's address. He is unlikely to getter a bigger stage all year.

More people watched last year's State of the Union than tuned in to see Obama accept the Democratic presidential nomination in Denver in 2008.

The foundation of Obama's speech is the one he gave in Kansas last month, when he declared that the middle class was at a make-or-break moment and he railed against "you're on your own" economics of the Republican Party. His theme then was about a government that ensures people get a fair shot to succeed.

The State of the Union will be the details to back that up.

But even so, the speech will still be a framework ? part governing, part inspiration.

The details will be rolled out in full over the next several weeks, as part of Obama's next budget proposal and during his travels, which will allow him more media coverage.

On national security, Obama will ask the nation to reflect with him on a momentous year of change, including the end of the war in Iraq, the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring protests, with people clamoring for freedom. He is expected to note the troubles posed by Iran and Syria without offering new positions about them.

Despite low expectations for legislation this year, Obama will offer short-term ideas that would require action from Congress. For now, the main looming to-do item is an extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, both due to expire by March.

His travel schedule following his speech, to politically important regions, offers clues to the policies he was expected to unveil.

Both Phoenix and Las Vegas have been hard hit by foreclosures. Denver is where Obama outlined ways of helping college students deal with school loan debt. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Detroit are home to a number of manufacturers. And Michigan was a major beneficiary of the president's decision to intervene to rescue the American auto industry.

Republican leaders in Congress say Obama has made the chances of cooperation even dimmer just over the last several days. He enraged Republicans by installing a consumer watchdog chief by going around the Senate, which had blocked him, and then rejected a major oil pipeline project the GOP has embraced.

Obama is likely, once again, to offer ways in which a broken Washington must work together. Yet that theme seems but a dream given the gridlock he has been unable to change.

The address remains an old-fashioned moment of national attention; 43 million people watched it on TV last year. The White House website will offer a live stream of the speech, promising extra wrinkles for people who watch it there, and then invite people to send in questions to administration officials through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Obama's campaign is also organizing and promoting parties around the nation for people to watch the speech.


AP deputy director of polling Jennifer Agiesta and Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.



White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov


Follow Ben Feller at http://twitter.com/BenFellerDC

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2012-01-21-US-Obama-State-of-the-Union/id-ff88c923470f497fa4e83a24497abb70

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Key facts about U.S. online piracy bills SOPA and PIPA (Reuters)

(Reuters) ? The House of Representative's Stop Online Piracy Act and the Senate's Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act have generated fierce opposition within the technology community. Here are some facts about the bills:

What would SOPA and PIPA do?

** The legislation, known as SOPA in the U.S. House of Representatives and PIPA in the Senate, would use court orders to curb access to foreign websites "dedicated to theft" through techniques such as disabling links to those sites.

** They also cut off U.S.-based payments processing for those overseas websites that traffic in stolen content or counterfeit goods.

Why do copyright holders say the law is needed?

** Entertainment companies and other copyright holders say many legal copyright remedies aren't effective against big foreign sites such as PirateBay. They say the bills will help curb online piracy that they claim costs them billions of dollars a year. Technology companies say they too oppose such piracy but argue that the proposed laws go too far.

What is the current status of the bills?

** The White House weighed in on January 14 with objections to the legislation, particularly a provision that would have required Internet service providers such as a Verizon Communications and Comcast Corp to cut off access to infringing sites through a technology known as DNS blocking.

In the days before the White House statement, backers of both bills had said they planned to move away from those provisions. The Senate bill is scheduled for a vote on January 24, although some supporters of the bill have asked to postpone that vote. The House bill is still before the Judiciary Committee.

Why do technology companies oppose the bills?

** Technology companies say the legislation would undermine an existing law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its "safe harbor" provisions for websites and others that act in good faith in their handling of third-party content on their sites. Content companies say the bills simply fill gaps in the DMCA and wouldn't affect the safe harbor provisions.

** Technology companies express concerns that the legislation would encourage frivolous litigation. Content companies believe the difficulty of squeezing large payments out of illegal overseas sites would discourage frivolous litigation.

** Technology companies say users would circumvent new restrictions and piracy would still occur. Content companies say the law would create important tools for fighting piracy.

** Technology companies worry they would have to police their services for links to overseas pirated content. Content companies say the technology companies would have to act only if notified.

** Technology companies say part of the House legislation encourages providers to act against foreign sites on their own initiative by providing immunity from liability, which could lead to overaggressive actions against foreign sites. Content companies say that sites that act against pirates in good faith and with evidence to back up their actions shouldn't have to worry about lawsuits.

** Technology companies say there is no due process for overseas sites that are accused of piracy. Content companies say normal due process applies.

(Reporting By Sarah McBride; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/internet/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120118/tc_nm/us_sopa_factbox

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Feeding The World Gets Short Shrift In Climate Change Debate

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia. Enlarge AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Families displaced by drought line up for food this week in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Food is getting elbowed out of the discussion on climate change, which could spell disaster for the 1 billion people who will be added to the world's population in the next 15 years. That's the word today from scientists wondering why food and sustainability get such short shrift when it comes to thinking about how humans will adapt to climate change.

In the past year, we've seen drought in Texas, floods in Australia and massive drought and wildfires in Russia, all of which have had a big impact on global food supply and prices. Those are good examples of the extreme weather events and changes in weather patterns that scientists expect to see with climate change.

"Agriculture is going to be a critically important part of the conversation," says Molly Jahn, a professor of genetics and agronomy at the University of Wisconsin who works on agriculture's impact on climate change. "We rely on agriculture to to feed ourselves. And we know that agriculture is and can be a better form of planetary care, particularly when in management of greenhouse gas emissions."

Last month, when nations met at the United Nations-sponsored climate change meeting in South Africa, the bulk of the effort went into trying to come up with a plan to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. But the many questions surrounding how agriculture and food production will adapt to climate change were left largely unanswered.

Why is it so hard to get traction on food security? You'd think that the threat of starvation would be motivating. In today's issue of the journal Science, Jahn and other scientists involved in the discussions spell out why.


Reasons include the need to pour a lot of energy into hammering out a global pact to reduce greenhouse gases; the fact that developing countries are leery of any agreements that could limit their ability to convert forests to agriculture; and a schism between high-income and low-income countries, with developed countries pushing to put efforts into mitigation, while developing nations favor adaptation programs. Then there's the question of who will pay.

But that's not to say that good things aren't happening. The authors cite one example: an agroforestry project in Niger that's increased grain production and improved the livelihoods of more than 1 million households. Agroforestry mixes crops and livestock with trees and shrubs. Trees that increase nitrogen levels in soil are planted next to corn crops in Africa, for instance, more than doubling corn yield. The practice can also reduce erosion and deforestation. (Here's an NPR report on efforts to grow cacao plants in the Brazilian rainforest.)

These sorts of sustainable agricultural practices could reduce the impacts of climate change, the Science authors say, both by assuring access to food and by reducing agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gases and environmental degradation.

"There's a great deal we can do at the landscape scale, and the local scale," Jahn says. But she thinks that has to be matched by big, innovative global efforts with enough muscle to meet the immensity of the challenge.

For more on how climate change may make it harder to feed the world, check out this recent discussion on Science Friday.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/20/145524525/feeding-the-world-gets-short-shrift-in-climate-change-debate?ft=1&f=1007

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