Wall Street Week Ahead: Attention turns to financial earnings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - After over a month of watching Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue, Wall Street can get back to what it knows best: Wall Street.

The first full week of earnings season is dominated by the financial sector - big investment banks and commercial banks - just as retail investors, free from the "fiscal cliff" worries, have started to get back into the markets.

Equities have risen in the new year, rallying after the initial resolution of the fiscal cliff in Washington on January 2. The S&P 500 on Friday closed its second straight week of gains, leaving it just fractionally off a five-year closing high hit on Thursday.

An array of financial companies - including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase - will report on Wednesday. Bank of America and Citigroup will join on Thursday.

"The banks have a read on the economy, on the health of consumers, on the health of demand," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

"What we're looking for is demand. Demand from small business owners, from consumers."


Investors were greeted with a slightly better-than-anticipated first week of earnings, but expectations were low and just a few companies reported results.

Fourth quarter earnings and revenues for S&P 500 companies are both expected to have grown by 1.9 percent in the past quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Few large corporations have reported, with Wells Fargo the first bank out of the gate on Friday, posting a record profit. The bank, however, made fewer mortgage loans than in the third quarter and its shares were down 0.8 percent for the day.

The KBW bank index <.bkx>, a gauge of U.S. bank stocks, is up about 30 percent from a low hit in June, rising in six of the last eight months, including January.

Investors will continue to watch earnings on Friday, as General Electric will round out the week after Intel's report on Thursday.


Next week will also feature the release of a wide range of economic data.

Tuesday will see the release of retail sales numbers and the Empire State manufacturing index, followed by CPI data on Wednesday.

Investors and analysts will also focus on the housing starts numbers and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve factory activity index on Thursday. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment numbers are due on Friday.

Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, said he expected to see housing numbers continue to climb.

"They won't be that surprising if they're good, they'll be rather eye-catching if they're not good," he said. "The underlying drive of the markets, I think, is economic data. That's been the catalyst."


Worries about the protracted fiscal cliff negotiations drove the markets in the weeks before the ultimate January 2 resolution, but fear of the debt ceiling fight has yet to command investors' attention to the same extent.

The agreement was likely part of the reason for a rebound in flows to stocks. U.S.-based stock mutual funds gained $7.53 billion after the cliff resolution in the week ending January 9, the most in a week since May 2001, according to Thomson Reuters' Lipper.

Markets are unlikely to move on debt ceiling news unless prominent lawmakers signal that they are taking a surprising position in the debate.

The deal in Washington to avert the cliff set up another debt battle, which will play out in coming months alongside spending debates. But this alarm has been sounded before.

"The market will turn the corner on it when the debate heats up," Prudential Financial's Krosby said.

The CBOE Volatility index <.vix> a gauge of traders' anxiety, is off more than 25 percent so far this month and it recently hit its lowest since June 2007, before the recession began.

"The market doesn't react to the same news twice. It will have to be more brutal than the fiscal cliff," Krosby said. "The market has been conditioned that, at the end, they come up with an agreement."

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; editing by Rodrigo Campos)

Read More..

Armstrong to admit doping in Oprah interview

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong will make a limited confession to doping during his televised interview with Oprah Winfrey next week, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Armstrong, who has long denied doping, will also offer an apology during the interview scheduled to be taped Monday at his home in Austin, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no authorization to speak publicly on the matter.

While not directly saying he would confess or apologize, Armstrong sent a text message to The Associated Press early Saturday that said: "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."

The 41-year-old Armstrong, who vehemently denied doping for years, has not spoken publicly about the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last year that cast him as the leader of a sophisticated and brazen doping program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included use of steroids, blood boosters and illegal blood transfusions.

The USADA report led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban from the sport.

Several outlets had reported that Armstrong was considering a confession. The interview will be broadcast Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network and oprah.com.

A confession would come at a time when Armstrong is still facing some legal troubles.

Armstrong faces a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, but the U.S. Department of Justice has yet to announce if it will join the case. The British newspaper The Sunday Times is suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit.

A Dallas-based promotions company has threatened to sue Armstrong to recover more than $7.5 million it paid him as a bonus for winning the Tour de France.

But potential perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony denying doping in a 2005 arbitration fight over the bonus payments have passed the statute of limitations.

Armstrong lost most of his personal sponsorship — worth tens of millions of dollars — after USADA issued its report and he left the board of the Livestrong cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. He is still said to be worth an estimated $100 million.

Livestrong might be one reason to issue an apology or make a confession. The charity supports cancer patients and still faces an image problem because of its association with its famous founder.

Armstrong could also be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in elite triathlon or running events, but World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what new information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation.

Armstrong met with USADA officials recently to explore a "pathway to redemption," according to a report by "60 Minutes Sports" aired Wednesday on Showtime.


AP Sports Columnist Jim Litke contributed to this report.

Read More..

Missing DNA in Rape Cases, Iran’s ‘Argo’, and Extreme Weather

Behind the New York Times pay wall, you only get 10 free clicks a month. For those worried about hitting their limit, we’re taking a look through the paper each morning to find the stories that can make your clicks count.

RELATED: Newtown’s Nationwide Impact, the Rape and the Football Team, Nelson Mandela

Top Stories: When diagnosed with cancer, a graduate at the nursing school of Holyoke Community College, Martha Keochareon, wanted to give students at her alma mater a hands-on lesson in treating the disease. 

RELATED: The Homeless Man Is Still Shoeless, the ‘Walking Dead’ Town, and Shania

World: The Iranian government is planning to counter Argo with its own movie about the Iranian hostage crisis. The killing of three Kurdish women, one of whom was the founder of a separatist group and the other of whom were activists, in Paris prompts “theories” but mostly mystery. 

RELATED: Disaster in Syria, Obama’s Defining Moment on Guns, and Tamales

Politics: Because of opposition to gun control, the White House says it is only making an assault weapons ban one part of a proposal so therefore passing it won’t be the “sole definition of success.”  

RELATED: Insider Attacks in Afghanistan, Yoga in Prison, and Light in Art

New York: ​The city’s medical examiner’s office is looking into 800 rape cases where “critical DNA evidence may have been mishandled or overlooked by a lab technician.” 

RELATED: Stopping Syria’s Chemical Weapons, Autopsies Gone Bad, and Jimmy Kimmel

Environment: Around the world extreme weather is becoming the norm. 

Sports: Junior Seau, the N.F.L. linebacker who committed suicide in the spring, suffered from “ a degenerative brain disease widely connected to athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head.” 

Opinion: Raymond A. Smith on the cabinet. 

Movies: A. O. Scott writes that the Academy Award nominations proved that “2012 was not just a strong year for movies, but also for precisely the kind of movies that are supposed to be nearly obsolete.” 

Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Missing DNA in Rape Cases, Iran’s ‘Argo’, and Extreme Weather
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/missing-dna-in-rape-cases-irans-argo-and-extreme-weather/
Link To Post : Missing DNA in Rape Cases, Iran’s ‘Argo’, and Extreme Weather

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Abandoning Afghanistan a bad idea

U.S. Marines from the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines Regiment start their patrol in Helmand Province on June 27.


  • White House aide suggested all U.S. troops could be withdrawn from Afghanistan

  • Peter Bergen said the idea would be dangerous and send the wrong message

  • He says U.S. has abandoned Afghanistan before and saw the rise of the Taliban

  • Bergen: U.S. is seeking agreement that military will have immunity from prosecution

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst and the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden, from 9/11 to Abbottabad."

(CNN) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with President Barack Obama on Friday to discuss the post-2014 American presence in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military has already given Obama options under which as few as 6,000 or as many as 20,000 soldiers would remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Those forces would work as advisers to the Afghan army and mount special operations raids against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Read more: U.S. may remove all troops from Afghanistan after 2014

Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen

But on Tuesday, Ben Rhodes, the White House's deputy national security adviser, told reporters that the Obama administration is mulling the idea of removing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission finishes at the end of 2014.

This may be a negotiating ploy by the Obama administration as it gets down to some hard bargaining with Karzai, who has long criticized many aspects of the U.S. military presence and who is likely to be reluctant to accede to a key American demand: That any U.S. soldiers who remain in Afghanistan after 2014 retain immunity from prosecution in the dysfunctional Afghan court system. It was this issue that led the U.S. to pull all its troops out of Iraq in December, 2011 after failing to negotiate an agreement with the Nuri al-Maliki government.

Read more: Defense officials to press Karzai on what he needs

Or this may represent the real views of those in the Obama administration who have long called for a much-reduced U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and it is also in keeping with the emerging Obama doctrine of attacking al Qaeda and its allies with drones but no American boots on the ground. And it certainly aligns with the view of most Americans, only around a quarter of whom now support the war in Afghanistan, according to a poll taken in September.

Security Clearance: Afghanistan options emerge

In any case, zeroing out U.S. troop levels in the post-2014 Afghanistan is a bad idea on its face -- and even raising this concept publicly is maladroit strategic messaging to Afghanistan and the region writ large.

Why so? Afghans well remember something that most Americans have forgotten.

After the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan, something that was accomplished at the cost of more than a million Afghan lives and billions of dollars of U.S. aid, the United States closed its embassy in Afghanistan in 1989 during the George H. W. Bush administration and then zeroed out aid to one of the poorest countries in the world under the Clinton administration. It essentially turned its back on Afghans once they had served their purpose of dealing a deathblow to the Soviets.

As a result, the United States had virtually no understanding of the subsequent vacuum in Afghanistan into which eventually stepped the Taliban, who rose to power in the mid-1990s. The Taliban granted shelter to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization from 1996 onward.

Read more: Court considers demand that U.S. release photos of bin Laden's body

After the overthrow of the Taliban, a form of this mistake was made again by the George W. Bush administration, which had an ideological disdain for nation building and was distracted by the Iraq War, so that in the first years after the fall of the Taliban, only a few thousand U.S. soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan.

The relatively small number of American boots on the ground in Afghanistan helped to create a vacuum of security in the country, which the Taliban would deftly exploit, so that by 2007, they once again posed a significant military threat in Afghanistan.

In 2009, Obama ordered a surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan to blunt the Taliban's gathering momentum, which it has certainly accomplished.

Read more: Inside the Taliban

But when Obama announced the new troops of the Afghan surge, most media accounts of the speech seized on the fact that the president also said that some of those troops would be coming home in July 2011.

This had the unintended effect of signaling to the Taliban that the U.S. was pulling out of Afghanistan reasonably soon and fit into the longstanding narrative that many Afghans have that the U.S. will abandon them again.

Similarly, the current public discussion of zero U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014 will encourage those hardliner elements of the Taliban who have no interest in a negotiated settlement and believe they can simply wait the Americans out.

It also discourages the many millions of Afghans who see a longtime U.S. presence as the best guarantor that the Taliban won't come back in any meaningful way and also an important element in dissuading powerful neighbors such as Pakistan from interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs.

Read related: Afghanistan vet finds a new way to serve

Instead of publicly discussing the zero option on troops in Afghanistan after 2014, a much smarter American messaging strategy for the country and the region would be to emphasize that the Strategic Partnership Agreement that the United States has already negotiated with Afghanistan last year guarantees that the U.S. will have some form of partnership with the Afghans until 2024.

In this messaging strategy, the point should be made that the exact size of the American troop presence after 2014 is less important than the fact that U.S. soldiers will stay in the country for many years, with Afghan consent, as a guarantor of Afghanistan's stability.

The United States continues to station thousands of troops in South Korea more than five decades after the end of the Korean War. Under this American security umbrella, South Korea has gone from being one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest.

It is this kind of model that most Afghans want and the U.S. needs to provide so Afghanistan doesn't revert to the kind of chaos that beset it in the mid-1990s and from which the Taliban first emerged.

Read more: What's at stake for Afghan women?

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

Read More..

Chicago's top cop calls for more gun laws

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy today called for tougher gun laws and reiterated his opposition to legalizing the concealed carry of handguns in Illinois.

“The answer to guns is not more guns,” McCarthy said during a panel discussion about gun violence that was part of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s weekly forum at its headquarters in the city’s Kenwood neighborhood.

McCarthy, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., WVON-AM radio host Cliff Kelley and others discussed gun laws, Chicago’s homicide rate and recent mass killings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., in front of an audience of a few hundred people.

McCarthy stressed his opposition to allowing the concealed carry of handguns in Illinois, even though Illinois is the only state in the country that doesn’t permit the practice.

“Just because it’s 49 to one doesn’t mean that Illinois is wrong,” McCarthy said.

Kelley pointed out that recent court rulings have put the future of the state’s ban on concealed carry in doubt. Last month, a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Chicago threw out the state ban, giving lawmakers six months to figure out how to let people carry guns legally outside their homes.

But McCarthy said those who support concealed carry don’t realize the potential effects of allowing people to carry guns in public.

“When people say concealed carry, I say Trayvon Martin,” McCarthy said, referring to the unarmed 17-year-old who was shot and killed last February by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida, sparking controversy across the country.

“I say Trayvon Martin,” McCarthy continued. “Because the answer to guns is not more guns, and just simply putting guns in people’s hands is going to lead to more tragedy.”

McCarthy also outlined five steps that he said would cut down on gun violence and prevent felons and gang members from acquiring guns: banning assault weapons; banning high-capacity magazines; requiring background checks for anyone who buys a gun; mandatory reporting of the sale, transfer, loss or theft of a gun; and mandatory minimum prison sentences for people convicted of illegally possessing a gun.

“All five of these points are reasonable,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy also criticized the politicization of the debate over gun control in the wake of the Newtown massacre at an elementary school last month. Those debating the future of gun laws should be able to find a “middle-of-the-road solution,” he said.

Jackson opened the discussion by saying that the United States is “the most violent nation on Earth” and asked McCarthy about Chicago’s role in the national discussion about gun violence.

McCarthy said the number of guns available on Chicago’s streets is a primary reason why the city’s homicide total is so high.

“Every single year the Chicago Police Department seizes more guns than any city in the country,” the superintendent said. The department seized about 7,400 guns last year, he said.

While addressing the media after the discussion, McCarthy said only about 300 of the guns seized by the department last year were assault weapons. That fact shows that discussions about tightening gun laws should focus on all types of guns, not just assault weapons, he said.
Jackson did not address the media after the forum and did not mention his daughter-in-law Sandi Jackson during the event. Sandi Jackson resigned as Chicago's 7th Ward alderman Friday, citing “very painful family health matters.”

Her resignation came less than two months after her husband, Jesse Jackson Jr., quit his congressional seat amid ongoing federal ethics probes into his campaign finances and a diagnosis of bipolar depression.
Twitter @RyanTHaggerty

Read More..

Russia rejects Assad exit as precondition for Syria deal

MOSCOW/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Russia voiced support on Saturday for international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi but insisted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to end the country's conflict.

Some 60,000 Syrians have been killed during the 21-month-old revolt and world powers are divided over how to stop the escalating bloodshed. Government aircraft bombed outer districts of Damascus on Saturday after being grounded for a week by stormy weather, opposition activists in the capital said.

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement following talks on Friday in Geneva with the United States and Brahimi reiterated calls for an end to violence in Syria, but there was no sign of a breakthrough.

Brahimi said the issue of Assad, who the United States, European powers and Gulf-led Arab states insist must step down to end the civil war, appeared to be a sticking point.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said: "As before, we firmly uphold the thesis that questions about Syria's future must be decided by the Syrians themselves, without interference from outside or the imposition of prepared recipes for development."

Russia has been Assad's most powerful international backer, joining with China to block three Western- and Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed to pressure him or push him from power. Assad can also rely on regional powerhouse Iran.

Russia called for "a political transition process" based on an agreement by foreign powers last June.

Brahimi, who is trying to build on that agreement, has met three times with senior Russian and U.S. diplomats since early December and met Assad in Damascus.

Russia and the United States disagreed over what the June agreement meant for Assad, with Washington saying it sent a clear signal he must go and Russia contending it did not.

Qatar on Saturday made a fresh call for an Arab force to end bloodshed in Syria if Brahimi's efforts fail, according to the Doha-based al Jazeera television.

"It is not a question of intervention in Syria in favor of one party against the other, but rather a force to preserve security," Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, said in an al Jazeera broadcast.


Moscow has been reluctant to endorse the "Arab Spring" popular revolts of the last two years, saying they have increased instability in the Middle East and created a risk of radical Islamists seizing power.

Although Russia sells arms to Syria and rents one of its naval bases, the economic benefit of its support for Assad is minimal. Analysts say President Vladimir Putin wants to prevent the United States from using military force or support from the U.N. Security Council to bring down governments it opposes.

However, as rebels gain ground in the war, Russia has given indications it is preparing for Assad's possible exit, while continuing to insist he must not be forced out by foreign powers.

Opposition activists say a military escalation and the hardship of winter have accelerated the death toll.

Rebel forces have acquired more powerful anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons during attacks on Assad's military bases.

Assad's forces have employed increasing amounts of military hardware including Scud-type ballistic missiles in the past two months. New York-based Human Rights Watch said they had also used incendiary cluster bombs that are banned by most nations.


The weeklong respite from aerial strikes has been marred by snow and thunderstorms that affected millions displaced by the conflict, which has now reached every region of Syria.

On Saturday, the skies were clear and jets and helicopters fired missiles and dropped bombs on a line of towns to the east of Damascus, where rebels have pushed out Assad's ground forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The British-based group, which is linked to the opposition, said it had no immediate information on casualties from the strikes on districts including Maleiha and farmland areas.

Rebels control large swathes of rural land around Syria but are stuck in a stalemate with Assad's forces in cities, where the army has reinforced positions.

State TV said government forces had repelled an attack by terrorists - a term it uses for the armed opposition - on Aleppo's international airport, now used as a helicopter base.

Reuters cannot independently confirm reports due to severe reporting restrictions imposed by the Syrian authorities and security constraints.

On Friday, rebels seized control of one of Syria's largest helicopter bases, Taftanaz in Idlib province, their first capture of a military airfield.

Eight-six people were killed on Friday, including 30 civilians, the Syrian Observatory said.

(Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Doina Chiacu)

Read More..

Wall Street flat, pressured by Wells Fargo, banks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks ended little changed on Friday as investors took a step back from buying ahead of next week's busy corporate earnings calendar.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was up 17.51 points, or 0.13 percent, at 13,488.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was down 0.04 points, or 0.00 percent, at 1,472.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was up 3.88 points, or 0.12 percent, at 3,125.64.

For the week, the Dow rose 0.4 percent, the S&P added 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq rose 0.8 percent.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Alabama's Lacy, Milliner, Fluker enter NFL draft

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy, cornerback Dee Milliner and right tackle D.J. Fluker are entering the NFL draft after helping lead the Crimson Tide to a second straight national title.

Lacy and Milliner announced their plans to skip their senior seasons Friday at a news conference. Fluker couldn't be there for the announcement because he was traveling.

It's another exodus of talented underclassmen for a team that has won three of the past four national championships. Most of the four first-round picks in each of the past two drafts that left Alabama were underclassmen.

"I appreciate what they've done for the University of Alabama but we also acknowledge the fact that from a business standpoint, these guys are making good decisions about their future and what they can do," coach Nick Saban said.

Unlike recent groups of departing juniors from Alabama, only Milliner is pegged as a sure first-round pick.

He was a Jim Thorpe Award finalist and unanimous All-American after recording two interceptions and 22 pass deflections. He and guard Chance Warmack, who was a senior, are projected as the Tide's top current prospects.

"I think while I was here, I met all the goals and team affirmations that I set for myself as a freshman by winning a championship, becoming an All-American, just being part of a team that always loved to win," Milliner said. "I think I fulfilled all my goals and am ready and prepared to go to the next level."

Lacy was MVP of the national championship game against Notre Dame after rushing for 140 yards and scoring two touchdowns. He said he wasn't 100 percent healthy all season until the title game Monday night, but Lacy still ran for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry.

"We don't have a lot of years to play this position, so you have to go while you can," Lacy said. "I would love to come back. This is a great place. We have the best fans, but I really didn't want to risk coming back and not having such a good year or maybe even risking injury. I've had my share of injuries this year. I feel like you've got to get out while you can."

Lacy thinks he "made a pretty solid statement" in the title game, when he made a spin move into the end zone on a TD catch and on another run pushed 248-pound linebacker Danny Spond away with one hand.

Lacy was recruited in the same class as Trent Richardson, last year's No. 3 pick by Cleveland, but redshirted and then spent two seasons as a backup. He's not widely projected to follow Richardson and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram into the first round. Lacy said he was projected as a second- or third-round pick in feedback from the NFL, but was impressive in the finale. Ordinarily, Saban only recommends projected first-round picks leave early.

"I'm fully supportive of what Eddie's doing," Saban said. "It's a little bit of a different situation than we've had in the past, but it's a little bit unique as well. Every one of these situations is unique to that particular individual and what his situation is. "

The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Fluker started 35 games for the Tide and was a second-team Associated Press All-American.

He was one of the Tide's top-rated signees in 2009 but came in overweight at about 395 pounds and was redshirted.

"I certainly feel like this year has been his best year as a player, and I feel that he's made a good decision about what he wants to do," said Saban, adding that Fluker has improved as much as any player on the team.

The mammoth Fluker, who wears a size-22 shoe, said in a statement that leaving early "is never an easy decision when you are playing at a place like Alabama."

"''These four years in Tuscaloosa have been the best four years of my life and I appreciate everyone who helped me along the way," he said.

Quarterback AJ McCarron, All-America linebacker C.J. Moseley and guard Anthony Steen have already said they're returning for their senior seasons. Saban didn't rule out other juniors possibly declaring for the draft before Tuesday's deadline.

The Tide does have promising players who have logged plenty of playing time behind Lacy and Milliner, especially. Two freshmen — tailback T.J. Yeldon (1,108 yards, 12 touchdowns) — and cornerback Geno Smith saw significant action.

"You've got people that are going to go to the NFL each year and you've got people behind them that are going to do the same things when their time comes," Milliner said.

Read More..

Space Rock Star: Astronaut Chris Hadfield Becoming Canadian Celebrity

While Chris Hadfield continues to rack up mileage in space, the Canadian captain-to-be of the International Space Station also reached a different milestone Wednesday (Jan. 9): 150,000 Twitter followers.

Hadfield’s growth on the social network exploded since launching to the space station Dec. 19. According to the Canadian Space Agency, Hadfield’s followers numbered about 20,000 at the start of his five-month mission.

Hadfield’s pithy observations of life in orbit — and his now-famous joke with William Shatner, who portrayed Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek” — helped propel him on to the world stage, one Canadian reporter said.

“I think the fact that a real Canadian space commander was tweeting a fake Canadian space commander, that’s a pretty one-of-a kind event,” said Jennifer MacMillan, a senior communities editor at the Toronto-based Globe and Mail whose job in part focuses on interacting with readers. [Gallery: Chris Hadfield's World Tour Challenge ]

MacMillan was not able to speak to how much Hadfield — who also reached orbit on space shuttle missions in 1995 and 2001 — is resonating among the audience of the national Canadian newspaper, though. Also, a story charting the captains’ interaction did not get that many clicks from readers, she said.

However, other institutions said Hadfield’s coverage is making waves among ordinary Canadians.

‘A quintessential speaker’

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum, which is based in Canada’s capital in Ottawa, ran special programming over the holidays to coincide with the first few days of Hadfield’s space mission. Reports from the museum indicated the programming was popular with the young student audience.

Stephen Quick, director-general of the museum, admitted it is difficult to quantify how much of an impact Hadfield — who will become commander of the International Space Station’s Expedition 35 in March — has on the popularity of particular exhibits.

But for what it’s worth, the Living in Space exhibit, which devotes extensive coverage to Hadfield’s high-flying exploits, attracts children and adults alike, he said. Hadfield also draws a crowd during his appearances at the museum, Quick added.

“The man is a quintessential speaker, and he can talk to 10-year-olds or he can talk to a group of adults, and they come out spellbound. It’s amazing,” he said.

A flat cutout of Hadfield at the museum, set up as part of an ongoing Canadian Space Agency contest, always seems to have somebody beside it getting his or her picture taken, he added.

The museum, which sees 60 percent of its 195,000 attendees every year come from outside of Ottawa, plans to extend its space coverage due to the popularity of the Living in Space exhibit. In May, it will open a “spaceflight experience” that brings attendees through a simulated training experience for space.

Holidays helped with tweeting time

One key to Hadfield’s success in orbit — besides his innate eloquence — might have been the timing of his launch, the Canadian Space Agency noted.

Because his launch day fell so close to both Christmas and Russia’s Orthodox Christmas, there was extra time off for the astronauts in orbit. This gave Hadfield more time to set up his Internet connection and take pictures, said Anna Kapiniari, the CSA’s strategic communications manager.

“We knew that if he had spare time he’d use it communicate the experience,” she added, pointing out that Hadfield used to spend lunch breaks during his training days in Russia doing video chats with student groups.

While the CSA has not performed a formal media analysis, Kapinari has noted an uptick in media coverage. Officials are also seeing a few more questions from followers of the CSA’s Twitter feed. “But I think most of the action is happening on [Hadfield]‘s Twitter page,” she added.

National magazine Maclean’s is seeing reader action as well, however. The publication, which mostly has Canadian readership, saw one story about Hadfield rocket to the site’s most popular entry this past weekend. In a hockey-hungry country, the story surpassed readership of another article about the NHL lockout being resolved.

Hadfield has also emphasized Canadiana while in orbit, whether it be tweeting about popular Canuck foods or doing collaborations with Canadian musicians, pointed out Maclean’s associate editor Kate Lunau.

After writing a feature article about Hadfield in the fall, Lunau said she received a lot of reader mail praising the astronaut’s accessibility to the public.

“You get the sense Hadfield is a Canadian celebrity,” said Lunau, who frequently writes about science. “People really admire the work that he’s done.”

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Space and Astronomy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Space Rock Star: Astronaut Chris Hadfield Becoming Canadian Celebrity
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/space-rock-star-astronaut-chris-hadfield-becoming-canadian-celebrity/
Link To Post : Space Rock Star: Astronaut Chris Hadfield Becoming Canadian Celebrity

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Saudi execution: Brutal and illegal?


  • Saudi authorities beheaded Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan woman

  • She was convicted of killing a baby of the family employing her as a housemaid

  • This was despite Nafeek's claims that the baby died in a choking accident

  • Becker says her fate "should spotlight the precarious existence of domestic workers"

Jo Becker is the Children's Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch and author of 'Campaigning for Justice: Human Rights Advocacy in Practice.' Follow Jo Becker on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Rizana Nafeek was a child herself -- 17 years old, according to her birth certificate -- when a four-month-old baby died in her care in Saudi Arabia. She had migrated from Sri Lanka only weeks earlier to be a domestic worker for a Saudi family.

Although Rizana said the baby died in a choking accident, Saudi courts convicted her of murder and sentenced her to death. On Wednesday, the Saudi government carried out the sentence in a gruesome fashion, by beheading Rizana.

Jo Becker

Jo Becker

Read more: Outrage over beheading of Sri Lankan woman by Saudi Arabia

Rizana's case was rife with problems from the beginning. A recruitment agency in Sri Lanka knew she was legally too young to migrate, but she had falsified papers to say she was 23. After the baby died, Rizana gave a confession that she said was made under duress -- she later retracted it. She had no lawyer to defend her until after she was sentenced to death and no competent interpreter during her trial. Her sentence violated international law, which prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed before age 18.

Rizana's fate should arouse international outrage. But it should also spotlight the precarious existence of other domestic workers. At least 1.5 million work in Saudi Arabia alone and more than 50 million -- mainly women and girls -- are employed worldwide according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Read more: Indonesian maid escapes execution in Saudi Arabia

Again according to the ILO, the number of domestic workers worldwide has grown by more than 50% since the mid-1990s. Many, like Rizana, seek employment in foreign countries where they may be unfamiliar with the language and legal system and have few rights.

When Rizana traveled to Saudi Arabia, for example, she may not have known that many Saudi employers confiscate domestic workers' passports and confine them inside their home, cutting them off from the outside world and sources of help.

It is unlikely that anyone ever told her about Saudi Arabia's flawed criminal justice system or that while many domestic workers find kind employers who treat them well, others are forced to work for months or even years without pay and subjected to physical or sexual abuse.

Passport photo of Rizana Nafeek

Read more: Saudi woman beheaded for 'witchcraft and sorcery'

Conditions for migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia are among some of the worst, but domestic workers in other countries rarely enjoy the same rights as other workers. In a new report this week, the International Labour Organization says that nearly 30% of the world's domestic workers are completely excluded from national labor laws. They typically earn only 40% of the average wage of other workers. Forty-five percent aren't even entitled by law to a weekly day off.

Last year, I interviewed young girls in Morocco who worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for a fraction of the minimum wage. One girl began working at age 12 and told me: "I don't mind working, but to be beaten and not to have enough food, this is the hardest part."

Many governments have finally begun to recognize the risks and exploitation domestic workers face. During 2012, dozens of countries took action to strengthen protections for domestic workers. Thailand, and Singapore approved measures to give domestic workers a weekly day off, while Venezuela and the Philippines adopted broad laws for domestic workers ensuring a minimum wage, paid holidays, and limits to their working hours. Brazil is amending its constitution to state that domestic workers have all the same rights as other workers. Bahrain codified access to mediation of labor disputes.

Read more: Convicted killer beheaded, put on display in Saudi Arabia

Perhaps most significantly, eight countries acted in 2012 to ratify -- and therefore be legally bound by -- the Domestic Workers Convention, with more poised to follow suit this year. The convention is a groundbreaking treaty adopted in 2011 to guarantee domestic workers the same protections available to other workers, including weekly days off, effective complaints procedures and protection from violence.

The Convention also has specific protections for domestic workers under the age of 18 and provisions for regulating and monitoring recruitment agencies. All governments should ratify the convention.

Many reforms are needed to prevent another tragic case like that of Rizana Nafeek. The obvious one is for Saudi Arabia to stop its use of the death penalty and end its outlier status as one of only three countries worldwide to execute people for crimes committed while a child.

Labor reforms are also critically important. They may have prevented the recruitment of a 17 year old for migration abroad in the first place. And they can protect millions of other domestic workers who labor with precariously few guarantees for their safety and rights.

Read more: Malala, others on front lines in fight for women

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jo Becker.

Read More..

Exhumation ordered in lottery winner's death

He won the lottery, then he was poisoned to death. A judge's ruling Friday to have Urooj Khan's body exhumed could give his family and police answers about how cyanide got into his system.

A tearful relative said she hoped "justice will be served" after a judge quickly gave approval today to exhume the body of the million-dollar lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning.

“We’ve been waiting for justice all this time,” said Meraj Khan, the sister of Urooj Khan. “I’m just so glad that justice will be served.”

Still, she said the thought of having her brother’s remains exhumed is distressing to the entire family. “This is not rest in peace,” she said. “But it’s an investigation, and hopefully the truth will come out.”

Khan died in July and his death was initially believed from natural causes. But after a relative raised concerns, comprehensive toxicological tests showed he had lethal levels of cyanide in his blood.

Judge Susan Coleman gave a quick OK to the request by the medical examiner’s office to exhume the body at Rosehill Cemetery on Chicago’s North Side. Court papers said the body was not embalmed, leading prosecutors to indicate it was “critical” to arrange for the remains to be exhumed as soon as possible.

In an affidavit, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said it was necessary to do a full autopsy to “further confirm the results of the blood analysis as well as to rule out any other natural causes that might have contributed to or caused Mr. Khan’s death.”

Authorities said the exhumation and autopsy could occur next week.

After the brief court hearing, Meraj Khan and her husband, Mohammed Zaman, were mobbed by reporters, cameramen and photographers.

Zaman said the last time they saw Urooj Khan was the day before his death. He came over to their house as usual, talked with their children and left. He seemed happy and healthy, Zaman said.

Meraj Khan recounted that at about 4 a.m. the next day, July 20, she was awakened by a phone call from her brother’s line. It was the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and she thought her brother was up early because of that. Instead, she said, she heard horrible screaming at the other end of the line.

“I couldn’t understand what was happening,” she said. “I heard screaming, and that’s all. So I woke him (Zaman) up. But I still don’t know who made that call.”

He died a short time later at an Evanston hospital.

“It’s hard for me to believe even now,” Meraj Khan said. “How could they do this, whoever did it?”

Meraj Khan and her husband said they could not comment on the police investigation, but they said they knew that at the time of his death, the only people in the home were Khan, his wife, Shabana Ansari, her father Fareedun Ansari, and Khan’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage.

Asked about IRS liens that had been placed against Fareedun Ansari, because of $120,000 in tax debt, Zaman said they were shocked to read about it in the Tribune this week. He said neither Urooj Khan nor Fareedun Ansari ever mentioned it to them.

Zaman said Fareedun Ansari had returned to live with his daughter and Khan last year after he’d moved to New Jersey to run a small convenience store that ultimately failed. He said Fareedun Ansari spent decades working for Urooj Khan’s father in India before coming to Chicago to help out with Khan’s growing dry cleaning and real estate businesses.

Meraj Khan, who last year was granted custody of her brother’s 17-year-old daughter, Jasmeen, said the girl is having a rough time dealing with the mystery surrounding her father’s death and all the recent media attention to the case.

“She’s very devastated. I’m trying to keep her cheerful, but it’s just very hard,” said Meraj Khan, choking back tears. “She’s 17. It’s very hard for her to cope with everything that’s going on.”

The family of Khan's first wife has also expressed concern about Jasmeen. Maria Jones, whose rocky three-year marriage to Khan ended in a bitter divorce in the late 1990s, was told by Khan’s family that he had taken their child back to his native India, according to Jones’ current husband, Bill Jones.

She hadn’t seen her daughter in more than 13 years but learned from the publicity this week about Khan’s death that he and Jasmeen had been living in Chicago all along, Bill Jones said.

But Maria Jones is anxious to rekindle a relationship with her daughter if possible, according to her husband.

"(Jasmeen) was 4 or 5 years old the last time she saw her," Bill Jones said in a telephone interview. "Who knows what she's been told about her mother all these years?"

Maria Jones even changed the family's answering machine in case her daughter calls. “If this is Jasmeen, please leave your number and I will call you,” it now says. “I’ve been waiting to hear from you. I love you.”

According to Cook County court records made public today, Maria Jones obtained multiple orders of protection as part of her 1998 divorce from him.

In one, Maria Jones alleged that Khan repeatedly had threatened to kill her and their daughter, then 4, if she filed for divorce. She also alleged he repeatedly physical abused her son from a previous marriage and contended she had to remove the boy from the home.


Read More..

U.S. forces to move to Afghan support role in spring: Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on Friday to speed up the handover of combat operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces this year, underscoring Obama's determination to move decisively to wind down the long, unpopular war.

Signaling a narrowing of differences, Karzai appeared to give ground in White House talks on U.S. demands for immunity from prosecution for any U.S. troops who stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, a concession that could allow Obama to keep at least a small residual force there.

Both leaders also threw their support behind tentative Afghan reconciliation efforts with Taliban insurgents. They each voiced support for the establishment of a Taliban political office in the Gulf state of Qatar in hopes of bringing insurgents to inter-Afghan talks.

Karzai's visit, which follows a year of growing strains in U.S.-Afghan ties, comes amid stepped-up deliberations in Washington over the size and scope of the U.S. military role in Afghanistan once the NATO-led combat mission concludes at the end of next year.

The Obama administration has been considering a residual force of between 3,000 and 9,000 troops in Afghanistan to conduct counterterrorism operations while providing training and assistance for Afghan forces.

But a top Obama aide said this week that the administration does not rule out a complete withdrawal after 2014, a move that some experts say would be disastrous for the still-fragile Afghan government and its fledgling security apparatus.

Saying that Afghan forces were being trained and were "stepping up" faster than expected, Obama said Afghan troops would take over the lead in combat missions across the country this spring, rather than waiting until the summer, as was originally planned.

"Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission: training, advising, assisting Afghan forces," Obama said. "It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty."

There are some 66,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan. NATO allies have also been steadily reducing their troop numbers there with the aim of ending the foreign combat role in 2014, despite doubts about the ability of Afghan forces to shoulder full responsibility for security.

Obama said final decisions on this year's troop reductions and the post-2014 U.S. military role were still months away, but his comments raised the prospects of an accelerated withdrawal timetable as the security transition proceeds.

Precisely how much of an acceleration was unclear.

For his part, Karzai voiced satisfaction over Obama's agreement to turn over control of detention centers to Afghan authorities, a source of dispute between their countries.

The two leaders, who have had a tense relationship in the past, stood side by side in the White House East Room, nodding occasionally as the other spoke.

Obama once called Afghanistan a "war of necessity," but he is heading into a second term looking for an orderly way out of the conflict, which was sparked by the September 11, 2001 attacks by al Qaeda on the United States.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Warren Strobel and David Brunnstrom)

Read More..

Wall Street climbs on China data; S&P nears resistance

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks climbed on Thursday on optimism about global growth spurred by stronger-than-expected exports in China, the world's second-biggest economy, and the S&P 500 hovered around a five-year high.

Financial and energy stocks were the day's top gainers in afternoon trading. The financial sector index <.gspf> rose 1 percent and the energy sector <.gspe> was up 0.7 percent.

Financials benefited from events this week that added clarity to mortgage rules and banks' potential exposure to the housing market.

The government's consumer finance watchdog announced mortgage rules on Thursday that will force banks to use new criteria to determine whether a borrower can repay a home loan.

Earlier this week, several big mortgage lenders reached a deal with regulators to end a review of foreclosures mandated by the government.

Bank of America gained 2.6 percent to $11.73, while Morgan Stanley was up 3.2 percent at $20.24, one day after sources said the bank plans to cut jobs.

"It's a resolution. It's not hanging over their heads," said Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Data showed China's export growth rebounded sharply to a seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after seven straight quarters of slowdown.

"In and of itself it is being interpreted positively that they've stopped the downturn (in growth)," said Brunner. "If they continue to produce good growth, that's going to be supportive of our global manufacturers."

The benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index hovered near a five-year closing peak of 1,466.47. On Friday, the index had closed at its highest since December 2007.

"The market is technically right at the level of resistance, near 1,465-1,467," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.

"A solid breakthrough above the level would be the start of a next leg higher, but it looks like it is going to be difficult to break above that level for now," Frederick said, citing concerns about the corporate earnings season and impending negotiations over the U.S. debt ceiling.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 40.53 points, or 0.30 percent, to 13,431.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 5.41 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,466.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> edged up 0.42 points, or 0.01 percent, at 3,106.23.

Thursday's session had earlier included a dip that traders said was triggered by a trade in the options market that prompted a large amount of S&P futures to hit the market at the same time. That sent the S&P 500 index down rapidly but those losses were recouped by late afternoon.

Shares of upscale jeweler Tiffany dropped 5.1 percent to $60.02 after it said sales were flat during the holidays.

Herbalife Ltd stepped up its defense against activist investor Bill Ackman, stressing it was a legitimate company with a mission to improve nutrition and help public health. The stock was down 3 percent at $38.75.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

NFL star Junior Seau suffered from brain disease

Junior Seau, one of the NFL's best and fiercest players for two decades, suffered from a degenerative brain disease often associated with repeated blows to the head when he committed suicide last May, the National Institutes of Health said in a study released Thursday.

The NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., said Seau's brain revealed abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. It said that the study included unidentified brains, one of which was Seau's, and that the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."

Seau's family requested the analysis of his brain.

The 43-year-old star linebacker played for 20 NFL seasons with San Diego, Miami and New England before retiring in 2009. He died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.

He joins a list of several dozen football players who were found to have CTE. Boston University's center for study of the disease reported last month that 34 former pro players and nine who played only college football suffered from CTE.

"I was not surprised after learning a little about CTE that he had it," Seau's 23-year-old son Tyler said. "He did play so many years at that level. I was more just kind of angry I didn't do something more and have the awareness to help him more, and now it is too late.

"I don't think any of us were aware of the side effects that could be going on with head trauma until he passed away. We didn't know his behavior was from head trauma."

That behavior, according to Tyler Seau and Junior's ex-wife Gina, included wild mood swings, irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

The NFL faces lawsuits by thousands of former players who say the league withheld information on the harmful effects of concussions. According to an AP review of 175 lawsuits, 3,818 players have sued. At least 26 Hall of Famer members are among the players who have done so.

Seau is not the first former NFL player who killed himself, then was found to have CTE. Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling are the others.

"He emotionally detached himself and would kind of 'go away' for a little bit," Tyler Seau said. "And then the depression and things like that. It started to progressively get worse."

He hid it well in public, they said. But not when he was with family or close friends.

Dr. Russell Lonser, who oversaw the study, said Seau's brain was "independently evaluated by multiple experts, in a blind fashion."

"We had the opportunity to get multiple experts involved in a way they wouldn't be able to directly identify his tissue even if they knew he was one of the individuals studied," he said.

The National Football League, in an email to the AP, said: "We appreciate the Seau family's cooperation with the National Institutes of Health. The finding underscores the recognized need for additional research to accelerate a fuller understanding of CTE.

"The NFL, both directly and in partnership with the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and other leading organizations, is committed to supporting a wide range of independent medical and scientific research that will both address CTE and promote the long-term health and safety of athletes at all levels."

NFL teams have given a $30 million research grant to the NIH.

Before shooting himself, Duerson, a former Chicago Bears defensive back, left a note asking that his brain be studied for signs of trauma. His family filed a wrongful-death suit against the NFL, claiming the league didn't do enough to prevent or treat the concussions that severely damaged his brain.

Easterling played safety for the Falcons in the 1970s. After his career, he suffered from dementia, depression and insomnia, according to his wife, Mary Ann. He committed suicide last April.

Mary Ann Easterling is among the plaintiffs who have sued the NFL.

"It was important to us to get to the bottom of this, the truth," Gina Seau said, "and now that it has been conclusively determined from every expert that he had obviously had it, CTE, we just hope it is taken more seriously.

"You can't deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There's such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE."

Tyler Seau played football through high school and for two years in college. He says he has no symptoms of brain trauma.

Gina Seau's son Jake, now a high school junior, played football for two seasons but has switched to lacrosse and has been recruited to play at Duke.

"Lacrosse is really his sport and what he is passionate about," she said. "He is a good football player and probably could continue. But especially now watching what his dad went through, he says, 'Why would I risk lacrosse for football?'

"I didn't have to have a discussion with him after we saw what Junior went through."

Her 12-year-old son, Hunter, has shown no interest in playing football.

"That's fine with me," she said.

Read More..

Killer Whales May Have Been Trapped by Climate Change

Whale lovers around the world held their breath as a family of orcas, trapped in the ice of Canada’s frozen Hudson Bay, were left with an ever-shrinking opening in the icy surface as their only breathing hole.

The two adult killer whales and nine younger orcas have now been freed by an apparent shift in the sea ice that trapped them, according to NBC News. It’s believed that a change in the current within the bay broke open a path to the sea. 

“When there is a new moon, the water current is activated. … It caused an open passage out to the open water,” Petah Inukpuk, mayor of the nearby village of Inukjuak, told NBC News.

But what caused the pod of orcas to become trapped in the first place? Increasingly, experts are blaming climate change, which gave the orcas access to a place they normally abandon before winter. The trapped orcas were featured in a riveting online video, struggling for air inside an icy tomb that threatened to grow smaller with each passing hour. [Images: Rescuing Killer Whales]

In the past, the Arctic was covered with too much ice to make it hospitable for the killer whales, which prefer to live and hunt in open seas.

“The reason they can now access the Arctic is because there is a lot less ice because of global warming,” Andrew Trites, director of the marine mammal research unit at the University of British Columbia, told the Toronto Star.

In fact, the Arctic sea-ice extent, or the area of ocean with at least 15 percent ice cover reached a new record low in September, dwindling to 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers), according to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center, which tracks sea ice with satellite data. As for the reason behind the ice melt, scientists have blamed both natural fluctuations and human-caused global warming.

This incident may be the first time killer whales have been seen in the region as late as January, Christian Ramp, a researcher with the Quebec-based Mingan Island Cetacean Study, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“It seems the ice dynamics are changing very quickly,” said Ramp. Orcas generally hunt in the area during the summer months, then head to warmer waters before the Arctic ice moves in. But with climate change, Ramp said, the animals appear to be straying farther north and staying too late, the CBC reported.

According to Inukpuk, that region of the Hudson Bay typically would be completely frozen over by Halloween, according to the Star. But this year the bay didn’t freeze until well after Christmas.

This isn’t the first time the world has been transfixed by the plight of sea mammals. In 2005, a pod of six killer whales was trapped by sea ice in the shallow waters off Russia’s eastern shore. Despite the efforts of local villagers, the animals — injured and bleeding from their own desperate attempts to free themselves — eventually died, according to the Associated Press.

And in 1988, there was an international effort to help three young gray whales trapped in the ice off Barrow, Alaska. Again, the locals responded to the animals’ plight with chain saws, generators and water pumps, but in the brutal cold the sea froze over almost as quickly as it was opened up. One whale eventually died.

Finally, in a remarkable act of Cold War cooperation, a Soviet icebreaker succeeded in cutting a clear channel to the open ocean, freeing the two surviving whales. That incident was the basis for “Big Miracle,” a film starring Drew Barrymore.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We’re also on Facebook& Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Animal and Pets News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Killer Whales May Have Been Trapped by Climate Change
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/killer-whales-may-have-been-trapped-by-climate-change/
Link To Post : Killer Whales May Have Been Trapped by Climate Change

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Wife of poisoned lottery winner: 'No one would dare kill him'

The wife of Urooj Khan – the million-dollar lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning – said today that Chicago police detectives had questioned her about the ingredients she used in preparing her husband’s last meal.

Khan’s wife, Shabana Ansari, said she also believed that police had seized food from the family home during a search after toxicological tests showed her husband had died from lethal levels of cyanide.

Ansari and her father, Fareedun, said that both of them as well as Khan’s daughter shared a lamb curry meal with Khan on the night he died last July.

Shabana Ansari said she is having a hard time believing that anyone would poison her husband.

“He was such a nice person,” she said. “No one would dare kill him.”

Fareedun Ansari, who identified himself as both Khan’s uncle and father-in-law, said he was present when Khan scratched off the million-dollar winning ticket last summer, weeks before his death. He said he was thrilled for him to win.

“He told me: ‘Uncle, I win everything. Now I don’t have any more dues (debts),’” Fareedun Ansari said. “I was happy. I was happy.”

Asked about the death of his son-in-law, Fareedun Ansari said, “I’m terribly sad, terribly sad.”

Shabana Ansari made a reference to a probate court fight over the lottery winnings when she was asked if the million dollars led to fighting in the family.
“Not exactly a fight,” she said.

When a reporter pointed out that Khan’s brother, in court papers, had voiced concern that Khan’s teenage daughter from a previous marriage share in the lottery winnings, Shabana Ansari said she fully intended to be sure her stepdaughter was not left out of the inheritance.

“How would I do such an injustice?” said Ansari, who was married to Khan for 12 years. “I was taking care of her all these years.”


Read More..

String of bombings kill 101, injure 200 in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - At least 101 people were killed in bombings in two Pakistani cities on Thursday in one of the country's bloodiest days in recent years, officials said, with most casualties caused by sectarian attacks in Quetta.

The bombings underscored the myriad threats Pakistani security forces face from homegrown Sunni extremist groups, the Taliban insurgency in the northwest and the less well-known Baloch insurgency in the southwest.

On Thursday evening, two coordinated explosions killed at least 69 people and injured more than 100 in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, said Deputy Inspector of Police Hamid Shakil.

The first attack, in a crowded snooker hall, was a suicide bombing, local residents said. About ten minutes later, a car bomb exploded, they said. Five policemen and a cameraman were among the dead from that blast.

The attacks happened in a predominately Shia neighborhood and banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. The extremist Sunni group targets Shias, who make up about 20 percent of Pakistani's population.

Targeted killings and bombings of Shia communities are common in Pakistan, and rights groups say hundreds of Shia were killed last year. Militant groups in Balochistan frequently bomb or shoot Shia passengers on buses travelling to neighboring Iran.

The killers are rarely caught and some Shia activists say militants work alongside elements of Pakistan's security forces, who see them as a potential bulwark against neighboring India.

Many Pakistanis fear their nation could become the site of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia, source of funding for Sunni extremist groups, and Iran, which is largely Shia.

But sectarian tensions are not the only source of violence.

The United Baloch Army claimed responsibility for a blast in Quetta's market earlier in the day. It killed 11 people and injured more than 40, mostly vegetable sellers and secondhand clothes dealers, police officer Zubair Mehmood said. A child was also killed.

The group is one of several fighting for independence for Balochistan, an arid, impoverished region with substantial gas, copper and gold reserves, which constitutes just under half of Pakistan's territory and is home to about 8 million of the country's population of 180 million.


In another incident Thursday, 21 were killed and more than 60 injured in a bombing when people gathered to hear a religious leader speak in Mingora, the largest city in the northwestern province of Swat, police and officials at the Saidu Sharif hospital said.

"The death toll may rise as some of the injured are in critical condition and we are receiving more and more injured people," said Dr. Niaz Mohammad.

It has been more than two years since a militant attack has claimed that many lives in Swat.

The mountainous region, formerly a tourist destination, has been administered by the Pakistani army since their 2009 offensive drove out Taliban militants who had taken control.

But Talibans retain the ability to attack in Swat and shot schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousufzai in Mingora last October.

A Taliban spokesman said they were not responsible for Thursday's bombing.

(Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Pakistan; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jason Webb)

Read More..

Wall Street ends with slim gains on Alcoa results

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Wednesday, as the first group of earnings reports started to trickle in. While Alcoa Inc gave a bullish demand outlook, the results didn't give a clear direction of how well corporations did during the fourth quarter.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was up 61.97 points, or 0.46 percent, at 13,390.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was up 3.84 points, or 0.26 percent, at 1,460.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was up 14.00 points, or 0.45 percent, at 3,105.81.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Bonds, Clemens rejected; no one elected to BB Hall

NEW YORK (AP) — Steroid-tainted stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were denied entry to baseball's Hall of Fame, with voters failing to elect any candidates for only the second time in four decades.

In a vote that keeps the game's career home run leader and one of its greatest pitchers out of Cooperstown — at least for now — Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced Wednesday by the Hall and the Baseball Writers' Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent necessary. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.

"Curt Schilling made a good point, everyone was guilty. Either you used PEDs, or you did nothing to stop their use," Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt said in an email to The Associated Press. "This generation got rich. Seems there was a price to pay."

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were eligible for the first time and have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.

"After what has been written and said over the last few years I'm not overly surprised," Clemens said in a statement he posted on Twitter.

Craig Biggio, 20th on the career list with 3,060 hits, topped the 37 candidates with 68.2 percent of the 569 ballots, 39 shy of election. Among other first-year eligibles, Mike Piazza received 57.8 percent and Schilling 38.8.

Jack Morris led holdovers with 67.7 percent. He will make his final ballot appearance next year, when fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine along with slugger Frank Thomas are eligible for the first time.

Two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy received 18.6 percent in his 15th and final appearance.

"With 53 percent you can get to the White House, but you can't get to Cooperstown," BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell said. "It's the 75 percent that makes it difficult."

It was the eighth time the BBWAA failed to elect any players. There were four fewer votes than last year and five members submitted blank ballots.

"It's a tough period for evaluation, that's what this chalks up to," Hall President Jeff Idelson said. "Honestly, I think that any group you put this to would have the same issues. ... There's always going to be discussion and concern about players who didn't get in, but at the end of the day it's a process and again, a snapshot in time isn't one year, it's 15 with this exercise."

Bonds, baseball's only seven-time Most Valuable Player, hit 762 home runs, including a record 73 in 2001.

"It is unimaginable that the best player to ever play the game would not be a unanimous first-ballot selection," said Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds' longtime agent.

Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts and ninth in wins.

"To those who did take the time to look at the facts," Clemens said, "we very much appreciate it."

Since 1961, the only years the writers didn't elect a candidate were when Yogi Berra topped the 1971 vote by appearing on 67 percent of the ballots cast and when Phil Niekro headed the 1996 ballot at 68 percent. Both were chosen the following years when they achieved the 75 percent necessary for election.

The other BBWAA elections without a winner were in 1945, 1946, 1950, 1958 and 1960.

"Next year, I think you'll have a rather large class and this year, for whatever reasons, you had a couple of guys come really close," Commissioner Bud Selig said at the owners' meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz. "This is not to be voted to make sure that somebody gets in every year. It's to be voted on to make sure that they're deserving. I respect the writers as well as the Hall itself. This idea that this somehow diminishes the Hall of baseball is just ridiculous in my opinion."

Players' union head Michael Weiner called the vote "unfortunate, if not sad."

"To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify. Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings — and others never even implicated — is simply unfair. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the best players to have ever played the game. Several such players were denied access to the Hall today. Hopefully this will be rectified by future voting."

Three inductees were chosen last month by the 16-member panel considering individuals from the era before integration in 1947: Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They will be enshrined during a ceremony in Cooperstown on July 28, when the Hall also will honor Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby among a dozen players who never received formal inductions because of restrictions during World War II.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs. Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.

Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

The BBWAA election rules say "voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

An Associated Press survey of 112 eligible voters conducted in late November after the ballot was announced indicated Bonds, Clemens and Sosa would fall well short of 50 percent. The big three drew even less support than that as the debate raged over who was Hall worthy.

Voters are writers who have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years at any point.

BBWAA president Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle said she didn't vote for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa.

"The evidence for steroid use is too strong," she said.

As for Biggio, "I'm surprised he didn't get in."

MLB.com's Hal Bodley, the former baseball columnist for USA Today, said Biggio and others paid the price for other players using PEDs.

"They got caught in the undertow of the steroids thing," he said.

Bodley said this BBWAA vote was a "loud and clear" message on the steroids issue. He said he couldn't envision himself voting for stars linked to drugs.

"We've a forgiving society, I know that," he said. "But I have too great a passion for the sport."

Mark McGwire, 10th on the career home run list, received 16.9 percent on his seventh try, down from 19.5 last year. He received 23.7 percent in 2010 — a vote before he admitted using steroids and human growth hormone.

Rafael Palmeiro, among just four players with 500 homers and 3,000 hits along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, received 8.8 percent in his third try, down from 12.6 percent last year. Palmeiro received a 10-day suspension in 2005 for a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, claiming it was due to a vitamin vial given to him by teammate Miguel Tejada.

While there are exhibits about the Steroids Era at the Hall, the plaque room will remain without Bonds and Clemens, who join career hits leader Pete Rose on the outside looking in. There were four write-in votes for Rose, who never appeared on the ballot because of his lifetime ban that followed an investigation of his gambling while manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

Morris increased slightly from his 66.7 percent last year, when Barry Larkin was elected. Morris could become the player with the highest-percentage of the vote who is not in the Hall, a mark currently held by Gil Hodges at 63 percent in 1983.

Several players who fell just short in the BBWAA balloting later were elected by either the Veterans Committee or Old-Timers' Committee: Nellie Fox (74.7 percent on the 1985 BBWAA ballot), Jim Bunning (74.2 percent in 1988), Orlando Cepeda (73.6 percent in 1994) and Frank Chance (72.5 percent in 1945).

The ace of three World Series winners, Morris had 254 victories and was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s. His 3.90 ERA, however, is higher than that of any Hall of Famer.


AP Sports Writers Mike Fitzpatrick, John Marshall and Ben Walker contributed to this report.

Read More..

Dazzling Comet of 2013 May Be Among Brightest Ever Seen

Excitement continues to rise among both professional and amateur astronomers about Comet ISON, which on Nov. 28 of this year might become one of the brightest comets ever seen, outshining such recent dazzlers as Comet Hale-Bopp (1997) and Comet McNaught (2007). 

Fortunately, Comet ISON was discovered 14 months before this perihelion passage — its closest point to the sun — while still distant and faint, thus giving observers time to plan. Another major advantage is that this fine object will be favorably placed for viewing, first in the morning sky before perihelion passage on Nov. 28, and then both in the morning and evening sky afterward.

Comet ISON was discovered photographically last Sep. 21 by Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, who detected it using a 15.7-inch (0.4 meters) reflecting telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) which is located near Kislovodsk at the northern foot of the Caucasus range in Russia.

Subsequently, pre-discovery images dating back to December 2011 were found by the Mount Lemmon Survey in Arizona and by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PANSTARRS) in Hawaii from January 2012. ISON’s discovery was announced by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Sep. 24; it’s officially catalogued as C/2012 S1. [Spectacular Comet Photos (Gallery)]

Still far out

When first sighted, this very faint and distant comet was 625 million miles (1 billion kilometers) from Earth and 584 million miles (939 million km) from the sun, within the zodiacal constellation of Cancer (The Crab).

It was then shining at magnitude 18.8 on the scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of sky objects (the lower the number, the brighter the object). That made the comet about 100,000 times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the unaided eye.  

Currently, the comet is among the stars of Gemini (The Twins) and will pass only about a half-degree south of the bright star Castor on Jan. 16. But it’s still very faint and distant at 474 million miles (762 million km) from the sun, tucked just inside the orbit of Jupiter.

Grazingly close, dazzlingly bright?

According to astronomer Gareth Williams at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, improved orbital elements based on 1,000 observations from Dec. 28, 2011 through Dec. 24, 2012 continue to show that Comet ISON will pass through the perihelion point of its orbit on Nov. 28 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern time . 

At that moment, the comet will be describing a hairpin curve while whipping around the sun at a speed of 425,000 mph (684,000 kph). It will be just 732,000 miles (1.18 million km) above the sun’s blazing photosphere, literally grazing the solar surface. 

Just how bright the comet will become at that moment cannot yet be forecast reliably. In his 2013 Astronomical Calendar, Guy Ottewell writes: “Using what formulas we can for magnitude, we have it reaching -12.6, the brightness of the full moon!” [Gallery: Photos of 2012's 'Supermoon']

If this is correct, it might result in the view of a lifetime: A bright comet with a stubby silvery tail visible next to the sun in broad daylight, visible to the naked eye simply by screening the sun with an outstretched hand. 

Ottewell imagines the comet as possibly resembling “. . . a lighted match at the sun’s edge.” Only on nine other occasions dating back to the late 17th century has a comet become bright enough to be seen in the daytime.

Mark your calendars!

As it approaches the sun, Comet ISON will pass just 6.5 million miles (10.5 million km) from Mars on Oct. 1, perhaps providing a worthy target for imaging by the NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. 

ISON will take exactly one month to cross from the orbit of Mars to the orbit of Earth, reaching us on Nov. 1. The comet will be steadily brightening during this time from magnitude +10 to +6. It will be in the morning sky, and during the first half of the month will be keeping pace just to the north of Mars as the pair slides eastward in the sky through the stars of Leo (The Lion).

On Oct. 14 and 15, Mars and ISON will line up closely with Leo’s brightest star, the blue first-magnitude Regulus. By the end of October, the comet should be easily visible in binoculars and quite possibly even with the unaided eye.

During November, as the comet races toward its rendezvous with the sun, it should brighten dramatically as it drops lower in the dawn twilight. A tail may begin to appear at this time, perhaps becoming noticeably longer with each passing morning. 

On the morning of Nov. 18, ISON — now possibly as bright as 3rd magnitude — will stand less than 1 degree from the first-magnitude star Spica in the constellation Virgo. (Your outstretched fist held at arm’s length measures about 10 degrees.)

Five days later, the comet will shine perhaps as brightly as zero magnitude as it zips past the similarly bright planets Mercury and Saturn. 

Finally, the comet will arrive at the sun on the Nov. 28. ISON will pass through the inner corona of the sun, experiencing temperatures of up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 million degrees Celsius)

Having been in a cosmic deep freeze for countless thousands of years, ISON will suddenly be subjected to unbelievable heat. Perhaps the comet’s nucleus will shatter, as sometimes happens when you pour hot tea into a cold cup.

But this is not a certainty; some sungrazers like the Great Comet of 1882 and Comet Ikeya Seki in 1965 indeed broke into several fragments and headed back out into deep space literally in shambles. Others like Comet Lovejoy in 2011 somehow emerged from out of the solar furnace still pretty much in one piece. [Photos: Comet Lovejoy's Dive Through the Sun]

A spectacle at dusk and dawn        

If it does survive, Comet ISON will rapidly sweep around the sun and will then head north, becoming a spectacle both at dusk and dawn. The head of the comet will gradually fade in the days and weeks after its exceedingly close brush with the sun, but its potential daylight apparition might only serve as a prelude to an even more spectacular show. 

As ISON slows its course and recedes back out into space, the comet will now be buffeted at close range by the solar wind, driving particles from the comet’s head (called the coma) out into a long stream preceding the comet. 

The result? A tail, stretching perhaps for tens of millions of miles, might protrude from above the horizon like some ghostly searchlight beam. And while it will be moving away from the sun, ISON will now be approaching Earth, passing closest to us on the day after Christmas, vaulting over our planet at a distance of 39.6 million miles (63.7 million km). 

By then the comet will be a circumpolar object for those in north temperate latitudes, neither rising nor setting, but instead remaining perpetually above the horizon all through the night!

Sizzler or fizzler?

One reason for the great excitement surrounding Comet ISON is the fact that its orbit is rather similar to the Great Comet of 1680, begging the question of whether both objects are one and the same or at the very least somehow related. 

Discovered on Nov. 14, 1680 by German astronomer Gottfried Kirsch, this was the first comet ever discovered by telescope. By Dec. 4, the comet was visible at magnitude +2 with a tail 15° long. On Dec. 18 it arrived at perihelion at a distance of 312,000 miles (502,000 km) above the sun’s surface.

A report from Albany, N.Y., indicated that the comet could be glimpsed in daylight passing above the sun. In late December of 1680, it reappeared in the western evening sky, again at magnitude +2, and displaying a long tail that resembled a narrow beam of light that stretched for at least 70 degrees — more than one-third of the way across the sky. The comet faded from naked-eye visibility by early February 1681. 

But now a word of caution: Some comets are notoriously fickle actors, and occasionally the actual performance falls far short of what had been scripted.

Those of a certain age might remember Comet Kohoutek in 1973. Like ISON, it was discovered when still remarkably far from the sun, suggesting that it was a giant among comets and would become extremely brilliant. Brightness predictions ranged up to magnitude -10 — as bright as a first or last quarter moon — and some astronomers announced (as also has been the case with ISON) that Kohoutek could be “the comet of the century.” 

The news media took them at their word and ballyhooed the approach of a comet so bright it might be visible in broad daylight.

Sound familiar?

But Kohoutek turned out to be much fainter than the initial forecasts had indicated and, in fact, most people missed it entirely. The recriminations were nasty to say the least, with astronomers and the news media blaming each other and the public blaming both. Reporters shied away from comets thereafter, almost totally ignoring the truly spectacular Comet West in the spring of 1976. 

So remember this anecdote from 40 years ago as a disclaimer.

Meanwhile, Comet ISON is still on its way and has a seemingly bright future. Here at SPACE.com, we’ll be monitoring it all through this year and will provide periodic updates on how it is developing, so stay tuned! 

Editor’s note: If you have an amazing of Comet ISON or any other night sky view that you’d like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at [email protected]

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New YorkTimes and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York. Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Space and Astronomy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Dazzling Comet of 2013 May Be Among Brightest Ever Seen
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/dazzling-comet-of-2013-may-be-among-brightest-ever-seen/
Link To Post : Dazzling Comet of 2013 May Be Among Brightest Ever Seen

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..