Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breitbart Editor John Nolte Picks a Fight With the Muppets (Little green footballs)

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Nowitzki back in Mavericks lineup after 4 games

AAA??Jan. 29, 2012?6:45 PM ET
Nowitzki back in Mavericks lineup after 4 games

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, puts a jump shot over Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, puts a jump shot over Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, addresses fans following an NBA championship ring ceremony before a basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol, left, of Spain, blocks a shot by Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) of Germany shoots against Sacramento Kings guard John Salmons (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, reacts after hitting a 3-point shot during the first half of the Mavericks' NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP) ? Dirk Nowitzki is back in the Dallas Mavericks lineup.

Nowitzki started Sunday night's game against San Antonio following a planned four-game hiatus to strengthen his sore right knee and do conditioning work.

The NBA finals MVP averaged 17.5 points and 5.4 rebounds a game in starting the first 16 games for Dallas. The Mavericks went 3-1 without their 7-foot star forward.

Nowitzki's return came at the same time guard Jason Kidd missed the first game of what is expected to be at least a week out of action because of a right calf strain.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/347875155d53465d95cec892aeb06419/Article_2012-01-29-Mavericks-Nowitzki/id-4c91593ddef74f2da4e51d36a86399ba

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Monday, January 30, 2012

College Tuition Controversy Highlights Challenges (ContributorNetwork)

COMMENTARY | According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama is upset with colleges and universities that have been raising their tuition rates, forcing an increasing number of students into debt as college degrees are worth less in a down economy. He has threatened to cut federal dollars for these schools and transfer the money to schools that offer good education for a reasonable price.

That rising tuition is a problem is undeniable. With the weak job market oversaturated with college graduates, degrees are worth less and less while remaining indispensable -- twentysomethings cannot hope for a shot at a middle class lifestyle unless they nab a diploma. Knowing that high school graduates cannot hope for middle class security without a term of stay at college, colleges have teens by the short hairs: They can charge more each semester, and everyone has no choice but to pay.

And if all colleges raise their prices similarly, it makes no point to contemplate a transfer. Students might as well grin and bear it as they write checks, grimly hoping the economy improves and their degree is worth something by the time they walk across the graduation stage.

Despite being able to engage in abusive tuition-raising at will, institutions of higher education are consistently protected by the fact that hurting schools will hurt students. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a critic of Obama's tough talk, said shifting federal dollars from universities hurts the students it is meant to help.

Aye, the old rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma: You can't put the squeeze on universities today to get them to change their tuition-raising ways so nothing changes tomorrow. Every time you get ready to teach a well-deserved lesson to those in corrupt ivory towers, you are lambasted as a tyrant who is harming innocent kids. To avoid looking like an anti-education Neanderthal you must spare the fiscal rod and spoil the college president child.

The catch-22 scenario afflicting attempts to rein in tuition abuse at colleges and universities is also seen in other areas, particularly military spending. If you try to cut military spending you risk being attacked as an unpatriotic coward who is risking the lives of brave American soldiers by denying young men sufficient body armor and weaponry. Therefore, you can never deny the Pentagon the funds it desires, lest you be seen as willing to send young Americans to their deaths.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/obama/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120129/pl_ac/10898175_college_tuition_controversy_highlights_challenges

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Newt Gingrich Proposes a 51st State on the Moon (ContributorNetwork)

COMMENTARY | Psychologists tell us that tension arises when one tries to hold two conflicting notions in the mind at the same. They call this phenomenon cognitive dissonance; sometimes -- it seems to me -- the term should apply when an individual acts in a way or says something that conflicts with the way he otherwise presents himself. This tense condition, however, never seems to afflict GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich -- although arguably it should.

Gingrich is selling himself as a conservative intellectual, the sort of deep thinker who can right our ship of state by applying imagination to the regular conservative agenda, including presumably fiscal conservatism. With that in mind, let's examine the candidate's remarks Wednesday to some voters on Florida's Space Coast.

As reported by The New York Times' Charles M. Blow, "Gingrich told a crowd ? that 'by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American.' And he said he would push for the introduction of a 'Northwest Ordinance for Space' so that when the number of colonists reached 13,000, they could petition for statehood."

Many Americans, and certainly most Republicans, have at least some level of discomfort with the current federal deficit, so the question begs: How much would this moon colony cost -- completing it before 2020, no less? In the current limping recovery from recession, why would a national politician even utter this idea aloud, even to the friendliest audience?

Second, notice what is being suggested in practical terms, to use that phrase as loosely as possible. Wouldn't Sens. Kirk and Spock of the great state of Moon Newton have to live in or near Washington to correctly represent their fellow, celestial Newtonians? Talk about a disconnect between elected officials and their constituents. Perhaps Sen. Kirk would roam the halls of Congress in a space helmet -- you know, just a reminder of his "home state" reality.

Well, Gingrich is a man who likes to remind us his mind frequently "goes where no man has gone before." We have fine institutions for such people. Not one is called the White House.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ac/20120128/pl_ac/10896593_newt_gingrich_proposes_a_51st_state_on_the_moon

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

AP Interview: Roubini warns of tough times ahead (AP)

DAVOS, Switzerland ? Economist Nouriel Roubini, nicknamed "Dr. Doom" for his gloomy predictions in the run-up to the financial meltdown four years ago, says the fallout from that crisis could last the rest of this decade.

Roubini, widely acknowledged to have predicted the crash of 2008, sees tough times ahead for the global economy and is warning that without major policy changes things can still get much worse.

Until Europe radically reforms itself and the U.S. gets serious about its own debt mountain, he said, the world economy will continue to stumble along to the detriment of large chunks of the world's population who will continue to see their living standards under pressure, even if they have a job.

Roubini, a professor of economics and international business at New York University, spoke in an interview this week with The Associated Press at a dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, where he is one of the hotly pursued stars.

Looking at economic prospects this year, he agreed with the International Monetary Fund's latest forecast that the global economy is weakening and said he might be "even slightly more bearish" on its prediction of 3.3 percent growth in 2012.

He painted a grim picture of the eurozone in recession and key emerging markets in China, India, Brazil and South Africa slowing down, partly related to weakness in the eurozone. He predicted that the U.S. economy, the world's largest, will grow by just 1.7-1.8 percent this year, with unemployment remaining high. The government, he added, was "kicking the can down the road" and not taking measures to increase productivity and competitiveness.

"We live in a world where there is still a huge amount of economic and financial fragility," he said. "There is a huge amount of uncertainty ? macro, financial, fiscal, sovereign, banking, regulatory, taxation ? and there is also geopolitical and political and policy uncertainty."

"There are lots of sources of uncertainty from the eurozone, from the Middle East, from the fact that the U.S. is not tackling its own fiscal problem, from the fact that Chinese growth is unbalanced and unsustainable, relying too much on exports and fixed investments and high savings, and not enough on consumption. So it's a very delicate global economy," Roubini said.

He said the biggest uncertainty is the possibility of a conflict with Iran over its nuclear program that involves Israel, the United States, or both. That could lead oil prices now hovering around $100 a barrel to spike to $150 per barrel, he said, and lead to a global recession.

Unemployment and economic insecurity have become big issues from the Mideast to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the U.S., and protests from Israel and India to Chile and Russia ? and at the same time there is rising inequality between rich and poor.

"All these things lead to political and social instability," he said. "So we have to reduce inequality. We have to give growth to jobs, skills, education, and increase human capital so workers can compete."

Roubini called for a major change in policy priorities.

"We have to shift our investment from things that are less productive like the financial sector and housing and real estate to things that are more productive like our people, our human capital, our structure, our technology, our innovation," he said.

Roubini said slow growth in advanced economies will likely lead to "a U-shaped recovery rather than a typical V," and it may last for another three to five years because of high debt.

"Once you have too much debt in the public and private sector, the painful process could last up to a decade, where economic growth remains weak and anemic and sub-par until we have cleaned up the balance sheet and invested in the things that make us more productive for the future," he said.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/eurobiz/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120128/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_davos_forum_economist

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

BP fails to shift $15 billion oil spill costs onto Transocean (Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) ? Oil giant BP has lost its attempt to shift over $15 billion of costs related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill onto contractor Transocean, increasing the possibility BP may have to foot the entire $42 billion clean up bill.

A U.S. federal judge on Thursday said BP must uphold a clause in its contract with Transocean Ltd that would shield the Swiss-based driller from compensatory damage claims related to the 2010 disaster.

That means London-based BP may have to shoulder alone compensation claims brought by the likes of fishermen and hoteliers whose livelihoods were affected by largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

However, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier left open the possibility that Transocean might still have to pay all or part of any punitive damages and civil penalties imposed by the U.S. government under the federal Clean Water Act.

Barbier, who oversees multistate litigation over the spill, ruled that BP need not indemnify Transocean for these.

BP has estimated civil fines of around $3.5 billion related to the spill, although maximum possible fines could top $20 billion if gross negligence was established on the part of BP or its contractors.

BP has made no provision for punitive damages because it says there is no legal basis for them. Barbier has limited the cases in which claims for punitive damages can be brought.

Thursday's decision means Transocean's potential liability over the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that caused 11 deaths, was "materially diminished" analysts at UBS said in a research note.

BP had previously sought to shift the whole cost of the disaster, currently estimated at around $42 billion, onto Transocean.

Shares of Transocean rose 8.2 percent at 0856 GMT, while BP shares fell 1.7 percent.


Transocean owned the rig, while BP owned a majority of the Macondo well whose blowout led to the spill.

BP has said it would like to reach an out of court settlement with Transocean but Barbier's ruling makes its negotiating position weaker.

Both sides claimed victory over the ruling, which Transocean spokesman Lou Colasuonno said "discredits BP's ongoing attempts to evade both its contractual and financial obligations."

BP said the decision "holds Transocean financially responsible for any punitive damages, fines and penalties flowing from its own conduct.

"As we have said from the beginning, Transocean cannot avoid its responsibility for this accident," spokesman Daren Beaudo said in an emailed statement.


BP has already paid out $7 billion in claims to third parties who have suffered losses and has an outstanding provision of $8.2 billion for further claims and litigation, suggesting third party claims are expected to top $15 billion.

However, plaintiffs lawyers say compensatory claims could even end up totaling more than the $20 billion BP has set aside in its gulf coast restoration fund.

Two U.S. government probes have put most of the blame for the disaster on BP, suggesting BP is likely to face the largest share of any fines levied.

The New Orleans-based judge has set a February 27 start date for a trial to apportion blame.

The case is In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 10-md-02179.

(Writing by Tom Bergin; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Jodie Ginsberg)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/mexico/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120127/ts_nm/us_bp_transocean

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Ford Motor Co.'s 2011 profits at a glance (AP)

Ford Motor Co.'s 2011 profits at a glance - Yahoo! News Skip to navigation ? Skip to content ? AP By The Associated Press The Associated Press ? Fri?Jan?27, 4:53?pm?ET
Ford Motor Co. released its full-year earnings on Friday. This shows the automaker's operating profits, by region, and the comparison to profits in 2010.
Region 2011 Operating Profit/Loss 2010 Operating Profit Percent change
North America $6.2 million $5.4 billion 15 percent
South America $861 million $1 billion -14 percent
Europe -$27 million $182 million -114 percent
Asia-Pacific/Africa -$92 million $189 million -148 percent
Source: Ford Motor Co.
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  • Copyright ? 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/earnings/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120127/ap_on_bi_ge/us_earns_ford_glance

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    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Costa offers $14.5K/passenger for ruined cruise

    In this undated photo released by the Italian Navy Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship is seen grounded off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. Italian authorities have identified the bodies of three German passengers as divers kept up the search for those still missing from the Costa Concordia cruise ship that rammed into a reef off Italy. Sixteen deaths have been confirmed so far in the disaster, but three of those bodies have yet to be identified. Another 16 people are still missing from the ship, which grounded Jan. 13, but officials have acknowledged that it would take a miracle to find any more survivors. Salvage experts worked Thursday so they could begin pumping tons of fuel off the ship starting Saturday to avert an environmental catastrophe. The stricken ship lies very close to a marine sanctuary. (AP Photo/Italian Navy)

    In this undated photo released by the Italian Navy Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, the Costa Concordia cruise ship is seen grounded off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. Italian authorities have identified the bodies of three German passengers as divers kept up the search for those still missing from the Costa Concordia cruise ship that rammed into a reef off Italy. Sixteen deaths have been confirmed so far in the disaster, but three of those bodies have yet to be identified. Another 16 people are still missing from the ship, which grounded Jan. 13, but officials have acknowledged that it would take a miracle to find any more survivors. Salvage experts worked Thursday so they could begin pumping tons of fuel off the ship starting Saturday to avert an environmental catastrophe. The stricken ship lies very close to a marine sanctuary. (AP Photo/Italian Navy)

    (AP) ? Costa Crociere SpA has offered passengers euro11,000 ($14,460) apiece to compensate them for their lost baggage and psychological trauma after its cruise ship ran aground and capsized off Tuscany when the captain deviated from his route.

    Costa, a unit of the world's biggest cruise operator Carnival Corp., will also reimburse passengers the full costs of their cruise, travel expenses and any medical expenses sustained after the grounding.

    The agreement was announced Friday after a day of negotiations between Costa representatives and Italian consumer groups representing 3,206 people from 61 countries who suffered no physical harm when the Costa Concordia hit a reef on Jan. 13.

    Passengers and crew are free to pursue legal action if they aren't satisfied with the deal.

    Associated Press

    Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/f70471f764144b2fab526d39972d37b3/Article_2012-01-27-EU-Italy-Cruise-Aground/id-f789c3071c5a411983ece95256b91595

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    FACT CHECK: Debate over 'ghetto language' ad (AP)

    WASHINGTON ? Mitt Romney accuses Newt Gingrich of calling Spanish a "ghetto language." Close, but not quite.

    Gingrich denies doing so and said he merely promoted the use of English, "period." That's even more of a stretch.

    The last Republican presidential debate before the GOP Florida primary Thursday brought viewers a blitz of charges and countercharges over immigration, the financial lives of the candidates and more. Here are how some of the claims compare with the facts:

    GINGRICH: "It's taken totally out of context.... I did not say it about Spanish. I said in general about all languages. We are better for children to learn English in general, period."

    THE FACTS: At issue is Romney's Spanish-language radio ad running in Florida that says Gingrich branded Spanish a ghetto language in a 2007 speech. In the contentious remarks in question, much more came after Gingrich's "period."

    In his speech to the National Federation of Republican Women, Gingrich advocated making English the official language, a position he still holds, and added: "We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto."

    He did not explicitly call Spanish a ghetto language. But at the time, the remark was widely taken to mean Spanish, overwhelmingly the main foreign language spoken in the United States and the primary language of many immigrants.

    Gingrich recognized as much when, in response to a Hispanic backlash against his remark, he made an online video days after the speech in which he more or less apologized for his choice of words and for producing "a bad feeling within the Latino community."


    ROMNEY on the same topic: "I doubt that's my ad, but we'll take a look and find out."

    THE FACTS: It's his ad.


    RICK SANTORUM: "You had a president of the United States that held (up) a Colombian free trade agreement. Colombia, who's out there on the front lines working with us against the narco-terrorists, standing up to Chavez in South America ? and what did we do? ... The president of the United States sided with organized labor and the environmental groups and held Colombia hanging out to dry for three years."

    THE FACTS: When President Barack Obama took office, he actually tried to revive a free-trade deal with Colombia that had been negotiated by his Republican predecessor but left to languish without congressional approval, just as he tried to make similar progress with South Korean and Panamanian free-trade pacts. He bucked considerable opposition from organized labor and fellow Democrats in doing so.

    Obama did hold off on submitting the three deals to Congress as his administration tried to negotiate more palatable terms to Democrats. He finally submitted them in 2011 and Congress approved them in the fall ? with substantial GOP support and a fair amount of Democratic opposition.


    ROMNEY: "Obamacare takes over health care for the American people."

    THE FACTS: Obama's health care overhaul does increase the role of the federal government in the health care system, but even after it is fully implemented in 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says 56 percent of Americans under age 65 will be covered by employer plans, about the same share as today. That's hardly a takeover.


    ROMNEY: Fannie and Freddie are "offering mortgages again to people who can't possibly repay them. We're creating another housing bubble, which will hurt the American people."

    THE FACTS: If there is another housing bubble forming, most homebuilders, mortgage lenders and real estate agents would like to find it. Instead, the housing market remains depressed, with sales low and home prices falling.

    Fannie and Freddie don't sell or offer any mortgages. Their function has always been to support the housing market by purchasing mortgages from banks, packaging them into bonds and guaranteeing the bonds against default. This proved costly when the housing bubble burst: The two entities were formally taken over by the government in 2008 and have since cost taxpayers $150 billion.

    The two mortgage giants are still functioning under government receivership, and now own or guarantee nearly all new mortgages, because banks are reluctant to make loans without the agencies' support. But banks have significantly toughened their credit standards since the housing bubble and are requiring higher credit scores and bigger down payments. That is causing an increasing number of home sales contracts to fall through as would-be buyers are unable to get mortgage loans.


    SANTORUM: Criticized the Obama administration for its "abysmal treatment" of allies in Latin America, and said Obama has a "consistent policy of siding with the leftists, siding with the Marxists, siding with those who don't support democracy."

    THE FACTS: Obama has not sided with the leading leftists, such as those ruling Cuba and Venezuela, and instead has roundly criticized them.

    It's true that Latin America has been on the back burner for much of Obama's tenure, as he concentrated on other parts of the world, including the Middle East. But Obama visited three countries in Latin America last year, and the Panamanian and Colombian trade agreements were part of the biggest round of trade liberalization since the North American Free Trade Agreement and other pacts of that era.


    ROMNEY: "My investments are not made by me. My investments for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee."

    THE FACTS: Not all of his investments have been in a blind trust. Romney's personal financial disclosure forms show he owned between $250,001 and $500,000 in the Federated Government Obligation Fund, which contained mutual-fund notes of politically sensitive Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. An addendum to Romney' disclosure forms says that certain assets ? including the federated fund ? were outside the scope of his blind trust.

    The investment was not on Romney's 2007 financial form, making it a relatively new one ? just as the housing and financial crises were hitting Americans full force.


    RON PAUL: Obama "promises to end the wars, but the wars expand."

    THE FACTS: By the most obvious measures, the wars are shrinking. Last month, the U.S. pulled its last troops out of Iraq, fulfilling a pledge by Obama to end the war there.

    Obama did escalate America's fight in Afghanistan, announcing in December 2009 that he was sending an additional 33,000 troops.

    The U.S. and its NATO partners in late 2010 agreed to end the combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. As part of that plan, Obama fulfilled his promise to bring 10,000 troops home from Afghanistan by the end of last year, and is moving ahead with plans to pull an additional 23,000 out by this fall. There are now about 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.


    GINGRICH: "We're in a continuous state of war where Obama undermines the Israelis."

    ROMNEY: "This president went before the United Nations and castigated Israel for building settlements. He said nothing about thousands of rockets being rained in on Israel from the Gaza Strip."

    THE FACTS: Obama has spoken at length about the plight of the Israelis and has talked about an Israeli girl near Gaza who fears for her life because of the rocket attacks launched by Hamas. In a June 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama said both Israel and Palestine have a right to exist, but the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. That's not only the view of his administration; it's long-held U.S. policy. Despite that, the administration sided with Israel by vetoing a U.N. resolution that would have condemned its settlement policy.


    Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Lolita C. Baldor, Jim Drinkard, Christopher S. Rugaber, Jack Gillum and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/politics/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120127/ap_on_el_pr/us_republicans_debate_fact_check

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    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Longtime Oprah associate exits OWN (Reuters)

    LOS ANGELES, Jan 26 (TheWrap.com) ? Another day, another shakeup for Oprah Winfrey's struggling network OWN.

    Lisa Erspamer, the network's executive vice president of production and development, left on Wednesday. An OWN spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement that Erspamer is leaving "by mutual agreement to pursue other opportunities."

    Erspamer was no casual employee of Winfrey's. She came aboard the network in January 2010 as a 15-year veteran of Winfrey's Harpo Productions, Inc., and had been the co-executive producer of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" since 2006. During her tenure at "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Erspamer oversaw key events such as Winfrey's two-part interview with Whitney Houston, and the now-infamous car giveaway.

    Rita Mullin, senior vice president of content strategy for Discovery Fit & Health, will step into Erspamer's position in the interim. In addition to Discovery, Mullin has also served as vice president of development at TLC, where she developed such hits as "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "18 Kids and Counting."

    Erspamer's exit is the latest in a string of departures, voluntary and otherwise, for the fledgling network. Last May, CEO Christina Norman was replaced by Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori. (Winfrey herself assumed the title of "permanent CEO" of the network in July.) More recently, longtime Winfrey pal Gayle King left to take a seat at CBS' morning offering "Early Show," while OWN's programming boss Rod Aissa jumped ship to Oxygen Media earlier this month.

    Despite the tumult, there have been signs of life for OWN lately. Its new offering "Oprah's Next Chapter" premiered on January 1 to the network's biggest numbers since its January 2011 launch, with the second installment of the interview series growing 45 percent over the premiere, with 1.6 million total viewers.

    Deadline first reported the news of Erspamer's departure.

    (Editing By Zorianna Kit)

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/tv/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120126/tv_nm/us_own

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    GPS uncovers possible Southwest quake risk

    The U.S. Southwest isn't particularly known for its seismic activity, but the Rio Grande Rift, a series of faults and basins that runs from central Colorado south through New Mexico, is alive and stretching, new research shows.

    Scientists had suspected the rift might be dead, but measurements of its movement varied widely and were riddled with uncertainties. Now, thanks to state-of-the-art GPS technology, geophysicists have found the rift is indeed extending ? just very slowly.

    And of course, anytime a large chunk of the Earth's crust moves, the issue of earthquakes arises.

    "There's certainly potential for earthquakes in this region," said Anne Sheehan, a seismologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who co-authored the new study. "They would be very low-probability events but, like all earthquakes, they could have large consequences if they do happen."

    Not dead, but not thriving
    Sheehan began studying the region after noticing something odd in the mantle underlying the Rio Grande Rift. Studies had shown that seismic waves move through this part of the mantle very slowly, hinting that it could be quite hot. It could also mean that the overlying continental crust is spreading apart, Sheehan thought.

    Using a large network of GPS stations ? nearly 300 sites ? her team monitored the rift's movement over four years. They found that the rift is in fact spreading very slowly, at a rate of about 0.1 millimeters per year.

    "That's really pretty small," Sheehan told OurAmazingPlanet. "The rift is not dead, but it's not really thriving, either."

    More surprisingly, the team found that the spreading isn't focused at the rift itself, but is spread across a span of more than 370 miles (600 kilometers).

    "That wasn't what we expected, because the deformation at the surface has been along faults that are relatively narrow," said Henry Berglund, a geophysicist at UNAVCO who led the study. "Instead, we observed the deformation is likely much broader than that ? at least the width of the state of New Mexico."

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    A real earthquake risk?
    As for earthquake risks, Berglund explained, "It's not a predictive tool, but it does tell us that, if the deformation is broader, maybe we're more likely to have earthquakes in more places than we previously expected.?

    There was a magnitude-5.3 quake near Trinidad, Colo., last August, and a larger earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.6 in north-central Colorado in 1882. A magnitude-5.5 quake shook Dulce, N.M., in 1966. Future quakes in the region could also fall in the magnitude-5 or -6 range, but likely not much higher, Sheehan said.

    "We can't use this to say we expect to see a big earthquake anywhere in the region," Sheehan cautioned. "But a more worrisome aspect is that we don't really expect earthquakes here, so our building codes aren't as strict as they are in, say, California."

    The team's findings appear in the January issue of the journal Geology.

    ? 2012 OurAmazingPlanet. All rights reserved. More from OurAmazingPlanet.

    Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46132907/ns/technology_and_science-science/

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    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    China leader-in-waiting Xi to visit White House next month (Reuters)

    WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) ? President Barack Obama will host China's likely next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping, at the White House on February 14, in a visit set to boost Xi's credentials as the man who will steer Beijing's close but quarrelsome ties with Washington.

    Obama and Xi will discuss "a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues," the White House said in a statement on Monday announcing the visit, when Xi will be hosted by Vice President Joe Biden.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed the date of the visit; it had no comment on Tuesday. This week is the Lunar New Year holiday in China.

    The two sides will have plenty of strains to talk about, especially over trade, human rights, North Korea and Iran. Above all, the Obama administration is keen for clues about Xi's worldview and how he intends to handle these thorny issues.

    "The man Biden's hosting, barring something no one forsees at this point, will become the head of China, head of the Communist Party, head of the government and head of the military," said China expert Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution in Washington.

    "This is really a chance for the Obama administration to look forward to the succession and post-succession period in China and begin to establish critical personal relationships and a personal comfort level back and forth."

    For Xi, the visit will be a valuable trophy that advertises his readiness for the top job. His growing prominence indicates he is virtually certain to replace Hu Jintao as Communist Party chief in late 2012 and then as state president in early 2013.

    The two powers have delicate issues to work through, ranging from currency policy to differences over how to halt the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, to China's recent crackdown on critics and activists that has drawn U.S. criticism.

    Beijing has voiced misgivings about Obama's plans to beef up the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region and remains unhappy about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China calls an illegitimate breakaway province.

    China, Iran's biggest oil customer, also bristles at U.S. efforts to tighten sanctions on that country in order to halt Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Beijing recently rebuffed a U.S. official's call to cut back oil purchases from Iran.

    The United States is in an election year that has seen Republican candidates fire harsh rhetoric at China. Obama, facing a tough re-election in November, is expected to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday to renew his call for China to allow its yuan currency to appreciate.

    "I think he's a very personable individual," the U.S. Ambassador to Beijing, Gary Locke, said of Xi in an interview on PBS television last week.

    "We don't know how he would respond to some of these economic issues, which is why it's so important that we establish that relationship as quickly as possible.

    "It's going to take a while to really understand how he might move forward."


    Xi, 58, is the son of the late, reformist vice premier Xi Zhongxun, making him a "princeling": one of the privileged offspring of China's leaders who rose to power under Mao Zedong. He rose through the party ranks in coastal provinces.

    Xi's "red" family background and coming of age in the turmoil of Mao's Cultural Revolution (1966-76) have prompted some observers to suggest he could take a harder line against Washington, which would also reflect growing nationalist sentiment in China.

    But in a speech last week, Xi stressed Beijing's desire for steady relations and tried to set an upbeat tone for his visit.

    "In dealing with major and sensitive issues that concern each side's core interests, we must certainly abide by a spirit of mutual respect and handle them prudently, and by no means can we let relations again suffer major interference and ructions," he told a meeting in Beijing.

    Xi will probably be looking to set a "pragmatic but frank" tone for ties with Washington, said Zhang Musheng, a former Chinese central government official who has met Xi and other rising officials and written widely about their challenges.

    "I don't feel that they're hardline in their views," Zhang told Reuters of China's emerging leaders, including Xi.

    "It will still be the same basic approach of seeking steady, predictable relations (with the U.S.)," added Zhang.

    "But as China develops economically, it's attracting more criticism and suspicion, and there's a sense that we need to get used to putting our own views without creating alarm or conflict. That's not hardline; it's practical and realistic."

    In August, Xi hosted Biden on a visit that gave Washington policymakers a chance to size up China's president-in-waiting.

    Xi is also set to travel to Iowa and California, states keen to boost already fast-growing trade and to court investment. Dates have not formally been announced for those stops.

    Xi's first known visit to the United States was to Iowa in 1985 as a junior official in the northern province of Hebei, which has a sister state/province relationship with Iowa.

    (Additional reporting by Sabrina Mao in Beijing; Editing by Ron Popeski)

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/obama/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120124/pl_nm/us_usa_china_xi

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    Watch Lifetime's Drew Peterson: Untouchable... in 90 Seconds (omg!)

    Did you miss Lifetime's Drew Peterson: Untouchable? Instead of sitting through the full TV movie ? which drew record ratings for Lifetime on Sunday night with 5.8 million viewers ? you can now watch a condensed 90-second version of the film starring Rob Lowe, thanks to Vulture.

    VIDEO: Rob Lowe Sports a Mean 'Stache in Drew Peterson: Untouchable

    Check out the Parks and Recreation star as womanizing police officer Drew Peterson, who was arrested in connection to the killing of his third wife and disappearance of his fourth (played in the TV movie by The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco).

    It's all about the 'stache, right? What did you think of Untouchable?

    Related Articles on TVGuide.com

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/entertainment/*http%3A//us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/external/omg_rss/rss_omg_en/news_watch_lifetimes_drew_peterson_untouchable90_seconds_023000789/44280578/*http%3A//omg.yahoo.com/news/watch-lifetimes-drew-peterson-untouchable-90-seconds-023000789.html

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    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    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/asia/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120123/ap_on_re_as/as_new_zealand_plane_crash

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    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Spy Plane Pilots Look Like Badass Retro Astronauts [Image Cache]

    Taking a spin in a U-2 spy plane isn't like hopping on a regional trip to grandma's house—pilots cruise at a staggering 70,000 feet. How high is that? High enough to require a spacesuit. More »

    Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/fJyvbcidws8/spy-plane-pilots-look-like-badass-retro-astronauts

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    Demjanjuk denied bid for 2nd US citizenship review (AP)

    CLEVELAND ? A judge in Ohio won't offer convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk (dem-YAHN'-yuk) a second chance to regain his U.S. citizenship.

    The retired Cleveland-area auto worker had asked federal Judge Dan Aaron Polster to reconsider his earlier ruling, but the request was rejected Friday. Polster said Demjanjuk's case doesn't warrant another review.

    The 91-year-old Demjanjuk was convicted by a German court on more than 28,000 counts of accessory to murder and found he had worked as a guard at the Sobibor death camp.

    He claims the government failed to disclose evidence including a 1985 secret FBI report uncovered by The Associated Press. The document questioned whether a Nazi ID card purportedly showing Demjanjuk served as a death camp guard was a Soviet fake. The judge overruled that claim.

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/crime/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120120/ap_on_re_us/us_demjanjuk

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    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    James' passion, great range remembered (AP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    "In terms of 1950s rhythm and blues stars, she had kind of a gutsy attitude and she went out there and did what she did, and she was kind of bold ... and it had a huge influence," said David Ritz, the co-author of her autobiography "Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story." "I think her gutsiness and her lack of fear and just her courage (made her special). ... I believe that made her important and memorable."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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    Report: Japan withheld scary nuclear scenario

    By msnbc.com staff

    The Japanese government kept secret for months a worst-case scenario report predicting?a massive release of radioactive materials for a year at the earthquake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant,?goverment sources told the Kyodo news agency.

    The report, shown?first to just a small group of policy makers in late March, said a hydrogen explosion would tear through the No. 1 reactor's containment vessel and force all workers to flee lethal radiation levels. It said residents within 105 miles of the plant would be forced to evacuate. A voluntary evacuation zone would have included Tokyo, about 140 miles away.

    There would be no time to carry out needed evacuations, sources said, and officials did not want to spur anxiety, according to the Kyodo article published by the Japan Times.

    "The content was so shocking that we decided to treat it as if it didn't exist," a senior government official said.

    Then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan decided to quietly bury the report, the sources said. His successor, Yoshihiko Noda, changed the?document's status after it leaked so it would become?public late last year.?

    Three of six reactors at the Fukushima plant melted down after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems and set off the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

    More from msnbc.com and NBC News:


    Source: http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/21/10207715-report-japan-kept-secret-about-scary-nuclear-scenario

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    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Venture capital investments up 19 percent in 4Q (AP)

    SAN FRANCISCO ? Funding for startups rose 19 percent in the fourth quarter as venture capitalists fueled money into more companies in the Internet, clean technology and other sectors.

    According to a study released Friday, startup investments grew to $6.57 billion in the October-December quarter from $5.52 billion in the same period in 2010. The volume of deals, though, did not keep up with the amount of money invested. There were 844 deals completed in the fourth quarter, down from 861 a year earlier.

    Called the MoneyTree report, the study was conducted by PriceWaterHouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Reuters.

    For all of 2011, venture investments jumped 22 percent to $28.43 billion, in 3,673 deals. That's up from $23.26 billion in 2010, when the money went to 3,526 deals.

    Venture capitalists piped $133.9 million into 80 seed-stage companies in the fourth quarter. That's down from $233.2 million going to 90 such startups in the fourth quarter of 2010. The decline suggests some caution on the part of venture capitalists looking at the newest, often most risky, startup investments.

    A total of 364 early-stage companies snapped up $2.27 billion in venture funding during the quarter. That compares with $1.48 billion going to 318 early-stage startups in the last three months of 2010. The report said 222 companies in the expansion stage received $2.36 billion in funding, compared with 270 companies snagging about the same amount a year earlier. In the later stage, 178 startups received $1.8 billion in the fourth quarter, while $1.4 billion went to 183 companies a year earlier.

    By industry, software companies received the most funding with $1.76 billion snagged in the fourth quarter, followed by biotechnology with $1.27 billion.

    San Francisco-based internet storage locker Dropbox Inc. got the single-largest investment during the quarter, $250 million. In second place was Better Place Inc., which is based in Palo Alto and builds infrastructure and systems for electric vehicles, with $200 million.

    John S. Taylor, head of research at the National Venture Capital Association, said the figures show "cautious optimism."

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/internet/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120120/ap_on_hi_te/us_tec_venture_investments

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    Low temperatures enhance ozone degradation above the Arctic

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Extraordinarily cold temperatures in the winter of 2010/2011 caused the most massive destruction of the ozone layer above the Arctic so far: The mechanisms leading to the first ozone hole above the North Pole were studied by scientists of the KIT Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK). According to these studies, further cooling of the ozone layer may enhance the influence of ozone-destroying substances, e.g. chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), such that repeated occurrence of an ozone hole above the Arctic has to be expected.

    About a year ago, IMK scientists, together with colleagues from Oxford, detected that ozone degradation above the Arctic for the first time reached an extent comparable to that of the ozone hole above the South Pole. Then, the KIT researchers studied the mechanisms behind. Their results have now been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

    According to IMK studies, occurrence of the Arctic ozone hole was mainly due to the extraordinarily cold temperatures in the ozone layer that is located at about 18 km height in the stratosphere, i.e. the second layer of the earth's atmosphere. There, chlorine compounds originating from chlorofluorocarbons (CFC, e.g. greenhouse gases and refrigerants) and other pollutants are converted chemically at temperatures below -78?C. These chemical conversion products attack the ozone layer and destroy it partly. One of the main statements in the study: If the trend to colder temperatures in the stratosphere observed in the past decades will continue, repeated occurrence of an Arctic ozone hole has to be expected.

    The team of IMK researchers analyzed measurements of the chemical composition of the atmosphere by the MIPAS satellite instrument developed by KIT. In addition, model calculations were made to determine concrete effects of further cooling of the ozone layer. "We found that further decrease in temperature by just 1?C would be sufficient to cause a nearly complete destruction of the Arctic ozone layer in certain areas," says Dr. Bj?rn-Martin Sinnhuber, main author of the study. Observations over the past thirty years indicate that the stratosphere in cold Arctic winters cooled down by about 1?C per decade on the average. According to Sinnhuber, further development of the ozone layer will consequently be influenced also by climate change. He points out that the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will warm up the bottom air layers near the ground due to the reflection of part of the thermal radiation by the bottom layer of the atmosphere towards the earth's surface, but also result in a cooling of the air layers of the stratosphere above, where the ozone layer is located.

    After the first discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole in the mid-1980s, CFCs were rapidly identified to be the cause and their use was prohibited by the Montreal Protocol of 1987. However, it will take decades until these substances will have been removed completely from the atmosphere. "Future cooling of the stratosphere would enhance and extend the impacts of these substances on the ozone layer," says Dr. Bj?rn-Martin Sinnhuber. It is now necessary to study potential feedbacks on climate change.

    The present study is embedded in long-term programs of IMK in this field. In December, the researchers started a new measurement campaign in the Arctic ozone layer in Northern Sweden using a high-altitude aircraft. Again, they encountered extraordinarily low temperatures. However, it is not yet possible to predict whether temperatures will be low enough over a longer term to cause a comparably large degradation of ozone in this winter.


    Geophysical Research Letters, volume 38, doi:10.1029/2011GL049784.

    Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres: http://www.helmholtz.de/en/index.html

    Thanks to Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres for this article.

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

    This press release has been viewed 2 time(s).

    Source: http://www.labspaces.net/116860/Low_temperatures_enhance_ozone_degradation_above_the_Arctic

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    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Google: Quarter-billion Android devices worldwide, 11 billion downloads


    Google today announced its Q4 2011 earnings. Money-wise, Google say $2.71 billion in profit on $8.13 billion in revenue. 

    For our purposes, the news is that El Goog announced that some 250 million devices -- that's a quarter-billion devices, or 250,000,000 if you're into numbers -- have been activated, up 50 million from Q3 2011. Or, 555,000 or so activated every day. (Remember that Android is now up to 700,000 activations.) Of those 50 million devices activated for the final three months of the year, 3.7 million came over the holidays, a number Google had already announced.

    Google also announced that the Android Market has seen 11 billion downloads. That's 1 billion more than when Google had its 10 billion-download celebration a month ago.

    Google's in the middle of its earnings call. We'll update with any new developments.

    Source: Google

    Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/androidcentral/~3/fRolba6t8qw/story01.htm

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    "Lone Ranger" finally set to start shooting (Reuters)

    LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) ? After trudging through a rough patch, production is finally set to begin on Disney's Johnny Depp-starring reboot of "The Lone Ranger."

    Principal photography for the big-budget film will start in February in New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez and the New Mexico Film Office announced Friday.

    Production for director Gore Verbinski's movie is planned in and around Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Shiprock and other locations in New Mexico. It is expected to continue in the state until the middle of August.

    New Mexico officials said they've been working with Walt Disney Studios for more than a year to bring "The Lone Ranger" to New Mexico.

    "'The Lone Ranger' is proof that New Mexico's film industry is alive and well," Martinez said. "As we continue to build upon our reputation as a premier film production center, we are pleased to welcome 'The Lone Ranger' to our state."

    "We couldn't be happier to bring 'The Lone Ranger' production to New Mexico," producer Jerry Bruckheimer said in a statement. "The state's world-class crews, local talent and spectacular locations will be critical in helping us take this iconic story and legendary characters to new heights."

    Production was originally supposed to start in October, but in August, Disney stopped the project due to budget concerns.

    The budget was initially estimated to be between $250 million and $275 million, but Disney, Verbinski and Bruckheimer trimmed it to approximately $215 million.

    In mid-October, Disney announced that the project was back on.

    "#THELONERANGER....and Tonto...will ride again," Bruckheimer later tweeted. "Excited for another adventure with Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski. Hi-Yo Silver, Away."

    "The Lone Ranger" is due to hit theaters May 31, 2013. It had originally been scheduled for release on December 21, 2012.

    "The Lone Ranger" features Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid, a.k.a. the Lone Ranger.

    (Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte)

    Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/celebrity/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120117/film_nm/us_loneranger

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    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    Why it's hard to predict where failed Russian craft will fall

    Phobos-Grunt launched toward Mars on Nov. 8, but it failed to leave low-Earth orbit. Reentry into Earth's atmosphere could happen anywhere from Sunday morning to Monday night, according to current estimates.

    Where will the remains of Russia's derelict Phobos-Grunt tumble back to Earth?

    Skip to next paragraph

    That's this weekend's 5-billion-ruble question as space agencies and other satellite trackers around the world try to gauge when and where the spacecraft is likely to begin its fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere.

    Estimates on when reentry starts range from about 11:20 a.m., Eastern time, on Sunday to 8 p.m. Monday. But they can change several times a day, lending forecasting efforts an air of confusion.

    The uncertainty highlights the challenge in forecasting a track for an object no one can control, specialists say. And it underscores a need for a freer flow of more accurate information on satellite positions and tracks to avoid collisions that would add to the space junk already on orbit, others add.

    For its part, Phobos-Grunt appears highly unlikely to add to the space-junk problem. Nor is it deemed much of a threat to people on the ground.

    Phobos-Grunt launched Nov. 8. The mission aimed to return soil samples from Mars' moon Phobos. The spacecraft also carries a small Chinese probe designed to orbit Mars and gather data on its atmosphere. And it is acting as cosmic sherpa for a small experiment sponsored by the Planetary Society in Pasadena, Calif. The experiment is designed to test whether microbes could survive a prolonged trip from one planet to another housed, in this case, in an artificial meteoroid. The meteoroid was to have returned to Earth along with soil samples from Phobos.

    Phobos-Grunt failed to leave low-Earth orbit as planned, however. Efforts to communicate with the 13.5-metric ton craft failed, leaving ground controllers with no way to guide it on a predictable path to a controlled reentry.

    Initially, concerns centered mainly on whether the craft's tanks bearing 11 tons of toxic fuel could survive the plunge and then present a hazard to people on the ground.

    But engineers with Russia's space agency Roscosmos and with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have calculated that the aluminum fuel tanks will burst before the craft falls below about 60 miles in altitude, allowing the fuel to dissipate harmlessly.

    "This, combined with a relatively low dry mass of just 2.5 tons, means Phobos-Grunt is not considered to be a high-risk entry object," said Heiner Klinkrad, who heads the European Space Agency's Space Debris Office, in a statement released Jan. 12.

    Still, tracking the craft is important, notes Joshua Horwood, a research scientist with Numerica Corp., a company based in Loveland, Colo., that develops orbital tracking and forecasting software for the US military, in addition to other forms of specialized computer-based tools for civilian aerospace and biomedical clients.

    In addition to the need to know where and when a spacecraft will end up after reentry, information on where an uncontrolled craft may be headed next is vital to other satellite operators, who may need to move their craft out of the way. But forecasting the track of an uncontrollable craft ? especially one in low-Earth orbit, or between 100 and 800 miles up ? is fiendishly difficult, Dr. Horwood says.

    Even in low-Earth orbit, he notes, the significantly thinned atmosphere can exert drag on a spacecraft, slowing it and allowing Earth's gravity to tug it out of an intended orbit. The sun's activity can change the atmosphere's density with altitude, increasing or decreasing drag.

    In this case, the drag is acting on a very irregularly shaped craft, which makes its effect very hard to calculate, Horwood says.

    Working backward from the most recent observation of a derelict's position to reconstruct an orbit from past observations is no problem, he adds. But drag and other issues can throw curves into projections of where in the sky one can next expect to spot the object.

    "We're not dealing with cannonballs here," he quips.

    Still, one potential benefit from Russia's woes is that the information gained from tracking Phobos-Grunt could help improve track-forecasting models, Horwood says.

    Indeed, the international community is doing that now.

    The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, made up of representatives from 12 national space agencies, is using Phobos-Grunt's problems as an opportunity to figure out more-accurate ways of estimating the reentry time and place for incoming spacecraft.

    Then again, the estimates are only as good as the data that feed them. The best data come from the United States, Russia, and Europe. But while the US cooperates with space agencies in alerting them to possible hazards to their craft, it keeps the most accurate of its tracking information under wraps.

    Some data need to be held close to the vest for national-security reasons, acknowledges Brian Weeden, a former Air Force officer who was deeply involved in the US military's efforts to track objects in space.

    "But we think there is a batter balance" that can be struck in making more accurate information publicly available, says Mr. Weeden, currently the technical advisor to the Secure World Foundation, which advocates the sustainable use of near-Earth space.

    Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/feeds/science/~3/YHVvqM_FEOw/Why-it-s-hard-to-predict-where-failed-Russian-craft-will-fall

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