Monday, December 27, 2010

Haryana's landless labourer becomes oldest father at 94 Read more: Haryana's landless labourer becomes oldest father at 94

SONIPAT: Surpassing the 90 year old Rajasthan farmer, a Haryana farm labourer is claiming to have fathered a child at an age of 94. Earlier, Nanu Ram Jogi of a Rajasthan village had fathered his 22nd child at the age of 90 in 2007.

Ramajit Raghav, a landless labourer from a small town, Kharkhoda in Sonipat district, said that he had become a proud father of a son. The Haryana government's old-age pension records show that Ramajit is 94 years old. Raghav's memories of the epidemic spread in the region in 1929 and the communal riots during India's partition also substantiate the claim that he is quite old.

His wife Shakuntala who bore him the child is claimed to be in her mid fifties. The child was born in the government hospital of the town. Doctors at the hospital said that the child was delivered normally and was in good health.The couple termed their child's birth as a "god's gift" and named him Karamjit.

Besides owning two cows, the couple has old age pension and daily wages as sources of their livelihood. Raghav told the Times of India that he originally belonged to Begpur village in Uttar Pradesh and had left home about 40 years ago after a violent dispute in his family. He worked as a domestic help in Sonipat town and later shifted to Kharkhoda where he has been living and working at the farm of his landlord Bhajan Bania for the last 22 years.

When asked about the secret behind his long life, Raghav said that he had been a wrestler in his youth and his daily diet comprised of three kgs milk, half a kg almonds and half a kg ghee.

Dr Mahender Kumar, senior medical officer at Kharkhoda Civil Hospital verified that Shakuntala, wife of Ramajit, was admitted in the hospital and she gave birth to a healthy male child about a month ago. When asked whether it was possible for a 94-year-old man to father a child, a medical officer said that though it could not be ruled out, but it was a remote possibility.

 - The Times of India 

Ready to appear before panel, PM writes to PAC chairman

NEW DELHI: Following up on his unprecedented offer, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today wrote to the Public Accounts Committee probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam, expressing his readiness to appear before it.

On a day when Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai, whose report projecting a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer in 2G spectrum allocation created a storm, appeared before the PAC, Singh made the offer in a letter to its chairman Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP.

The Prime Minister had at the Congress plenary on Monday last declared that he was prepared to appear before the PAC since he had nothing to hide.

" view of recent propaganda that the Prime Minister is unwilling to be questioned by a Parliamentary committee, I would like to inform you that I am willing to appear before the PAC should the committee choose to seek clarifications from the Prime Minister, though I believe there is no precedent of the Prime Minister appearing before a PAC," Singh said in his letter.

Under Speaker's direction 99 under the rules of procedures and conduct of business in Lok Sabha, the PAC cannot call a minister to give evidence or for consultations in connection with the examination of accounts by it.

The chairman of the committee, however, may have an informal talk with a minister on the subject under consideration by the committee.

Since the Prime Minister's offer is unprecedented in its nature, the Speaker may have to devise a procedure on how the committee could accept the Prime Minister's offer of appearing before it.

Singh said that to the best of his knowledge, the PAC takes evidence from the Secretaries of the Department concerned or the head of the department or the public sector undertakings.

He said the CAG submitted the report on the issue of licensing and allocation of 2G spectrum by the Department of Telecommunications, which was tabled in Parliament in November last and the PAC was looking into it.

"As you are aware, the PAC has sought copies of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Communications and Information Technology as well as the Prime Minister's Office and the Department of Telecommunications on issues relating to 2G and 3G spectrum", he said in his letter and hoped that the relevant documents have been furnished to the Secretariat of the Committee.

Addressing the concluding day of the Congress plenary, Singh took everyone by surprise when he said he would be "happy to appear" before the PAC though there was no precedent and he intended to write to Joshi in this regard.

"I wish to state categorically that I have nothing to hide from the public at large and as a proof of my bonafides I intend to write to the chairman of the PAC that I shall be happy to appear before the PAC, if it chooses to ask me to do so," Singh had said.

Contending that the Opposition was "falsely propagating" that government was shying away from JPC to prevent the Prime Minister from appearing before it, the Prime Minister had said that he has "nothing to hide from the public".

The CAG report has proved to be ammunition for the Opposition, including the BJP and Left parties, to target the government and it is insisting that only a Joint Parliamentary Committee can bring out the truth in what they allege is the "biggest scam in independent India".

The entire Opposition stalled proceedings during the month-long Winter Session of Parliament on the demand for JPC into the 2G spectrum scam that resulted in a washout of the session.

A Raja, who has been questioned by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the spectrum allocation, was forced to resign on November 14 as telecom minister.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Japan Snatches Deal for Turkey's 2nd Nuclear Plant from South Korea

Bulgaria: Japan Snatches Deal for Turkey's 2nd Nuclear Plant from South Korea
Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (R) and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akihiro Ohata sign an agreement on the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey. Photo by Today's Zaman
After months of talks, Japan appears to have grabbed from South Korea a deal for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey.
Turkey's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Tanev Yildiz and Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Akihiro Ohata signed Friday in Tokyo a memorandum of understanding for the construction for a nuclear power plant in Turkey, the Turkish paper Today's Zaman reported.
Yildiz and Ohata have praised the agreement for providing partnership opportunities to the two countries.
"We would like to transfer the know-how of Japanese nuclear power expertise to Turkey and would like to have a high-tech nuclear power plant," Ohata is quoted as saying. During his visit to Japan, Yıldız was scheduled to visit Japanese nuclear power plants, which withstood a strong earthquake last year.
When asked when the construction of a nuclear power plant in Turkey would begin, Ohata said the Turks would like to complete the preparations in three month's time, so they expect to start within the next three months.
Yıldız also met with Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and Senior Vice Minister of Finance Mitsuru Sakurai, as well as with the CEOs of several Japanese companies and representatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI).
According to a Saturday's article of the Korea Times, a South Korea-based English-language publication, citing a Korean government source, however, Turkey has not made any decision on selecting a partner to build a new nuclear power plant on its Black Sea coast.
The Korea Times points out that South Korea is competing with Japan for a multibillion-dollar power-generating nuclear reactor project in Turkey; it says that Turkey is now in talks with Japan for the project after its earlier negotiations with South Korea apparently failed to make a breakthrough.
In an interview with Yonhap News Agency earlier this week, Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Kyung-hwan said that Turkey may try to conclude talks with Tokyo by the end of the year, after negotiations with Seoul were put on hold due to disagreement over how to recoup initial investment costs.
South Korea and Turkey began formal talks in March and were expected to reach an intergovernmental agreement during last month's G20 summit in Seoul, but a deal was not reached due to outstanding differences such as establishing "fair" electricity prices, according to the report.
The Turkish English-language paper Today's Zaman reminds that Turkey began negotiating with Japan on the construction of a nuclear power plant in the province of Sinop, in the Black Sea region, at the beginning of December of this year after talks with South Korea failed last month when the two sides failed to reach a common understanding on issues such as price and purchasing guarantees and the state's share.
Earlier in 2010, in May, Turkey reached an agreement with Russia for the construction of what will become Turkey's first nuclear power plant in Mersin's Akkuyu district.
According to the agreement, Russia's state-run Atomstroyexport JSC will construct four 1000 MW reactors at the Akkuyu nuclear power plant, and will have a controlling stake in the project. The project is estimated to cost about billion and was approved by Turkey's Parliament in mid-July.
Turkey's Akkuyu NPP is viewed in Bulgaria as a competitor to the potential second Bulgarian NPP at Belene on the Danube where Atomstroyexport is supposed to construct two 1000 MW reactors. Bulgaria and Russia, however, have not reached a final deal for the Belene NPP yet as they have been tangled for months in haggling over the final price of the construction. At the same time, Bulgaria's Borisov government has been seeking strategic foreign investors to finance the project.
For the time being, Finnish company Fortum, French company Altran, and the government of Serbia are expected to participate with small shares, with the Bulgarian state electricity company NEK and Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, the parent of Atomstroyexport, expected to have bigger shares.

Partying Bulgarians Enjoy Mass Fights on Christmas

A security guard has been admitted to hospital in the Bulgarian capital with an injury he got while trying to curb a mass fight that erupted in a Sofia disco early on Christmas Day.
The 33-man got seriously wounded in his right arm after two groups of party-goers got in a melee in a club in the Studentski Grad quarter in Sofia.
"Studentski Grad" (i.e. "Student's Town") hosts the dormitories of the major Sofia universities but its discos draw people from across Sofia as they have become notorious for its "party culture", which often turns violent.
The Christmas Day incident occurred around 5 am on Saturday; the police found out about the mass fight only after the security guard was brought to the Pirogov hospital, and have failed to identify and arrest any of the participants.
The Pirogov emergency room has not reported any other major "Christmas" injuries and incidents.

Patriarch Maxim Issues Christmas Blessing for Bulgarians across the Globe

Bulgaria: Patriarch Maxim Issues Christmas Blessing for Bulgarians across the Globe
97-year-old Bulgarian Patriarch Maxim served the Christmas Day mass on Saturday. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency
97-year-old Patriarch Maxim, the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, has served the traditional Christmas Day service at the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia.
The Patriarch completed the Christmas service with a prayer for good health and long lives and with a blessing to all Bulgarian Orthodox Christians around the world.
"Today is a day of immense joy for all Bulgarian Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria and around the world," Patriarch Maxim told the people in the crowd St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in the Bulgarian capital.
"The birth of Christ signifies the entering into the time of eternity, of the immortal into the perishable human nature, of life in the kingdom of death. It brings renewal and salvation for the entire human being and for each one of us personally," he stated.
Unlike the Eastern Orthodox churches of Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Georgia, and Macedonia, who celebrate Christmas on January 7 according to the older Julian calendar, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church together with the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Romania, the Orthodox Church in America, among others, celebrates Christmas on December 25, on the same day as Western Christianity under the Gregorian Calendar.

CWG scam: On Kalmadi swoop, CBI unearths blackmail note

NEW DELHI: It is double whammy for Suresh Kalamdi. As the once redoubtable sports czar deals with the probe by the investigating agencies into his alleged role in the mega corruption in the hosting of Commonwealth Games scam, he also seems to be having to cope with a blackmail threat.

The CBI sleuths who raided Kalmadi's premises chanced upon a letter at his Delhi bungalow demanding Rs 4 crore in exchange for a "compact disc" containing allegedly damning information on him. The sender of the letter threatened to make public the CD if he was not paid the money.

Significantly, Kalmadi never reported the matter to police. Even on Friday, he parried questions by CBI officials on the blackmail threat.

CBI sources told TOI that the raiding party had found a badly damaged CD which, it is suspected, was sought to be broken into pieces. The agency was trying to put the pieces together.

With Kalmadi being coy about the letter, CBI is taking the letter "at its face value", and is trying to verify the content of the unsigned letter. The CBI had on Friday raided Kalmadi's residences and offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, two months after the sporting extravaganza leaving a trail of allegations of financial irregularities in awarding of some contracts.

CBI sources had said key files containing information on tendering, budgetary allocation and contract details are missing from the OC office.

Although Kalmadi has denied the charge of destruction of evidence, claiming that the files the agency was looking for could be either with the Enforcement Directorate or the Comptroller and Auditor General, that has not cleared CBI's suspicions about that crucial files have been made to disappear.

Given this, agency officials found it puzzling that the blackmail letter was lying there to be found. Kalmadi could not be contacted despite several attempts. His trusted aide, Lalit Bhanot, however, denied any knowledge of the letter. "He never told me about it,'' said the Secretary General of the Organising Committee of the Commonwealth Games.

The agency has so far filed three FIRs in connection with the alleged irregularities in CWG and searched the residences of OC director-general V K Verma and secretary-general Lalit Bhanot on November 30. While one case relates to a Rs 107-crore deal struck with a Swiss score-keeping firm, the agency had registered two other FIRs in connection with the contract given to AM Films for the Queen's Baton Relay ceremonies in London.

The CBI had arrested the joint director-general of OC, T S Darbari, deputy director-general Sanjay Mohindroo and former treasurer Jeyachandran for their alleged complicity in the deals.

Hang Seng, Nikkei, FTSE, MSCI - EMI Global Equities Outlook : PINC Research

Hang Seng The HSI remains in a choppy trend, which is as per our expectation. It declined a bit but has now again gone into a drift. The bias is to weakness at present. We expect this choppy drift to continue into the next week.
The Nikkei trend remains basically positive. The trend looks like it is losing short term momentum and may slow down a bit. However, a move below 10000 could be a negative development.
The FTSE has continued to move up steadily. The bias for the trend is positive and it can move up some more. However, a move below 5850 can mark weakness for the index.

US suggests paying ransom to Somali captors

The US government has suggested that the government should negotiate with the Somali pirates by paying ransom for the release of 26 Bangladeshis on board the hijacked ship Jahan Moni.

The state department also told Dhaka that the Somali pirates would be interested in releasing the captives with comparatively less amount of money as it’s a ‘lean season’ for the captors.
Washington also revealed that ‘money was the sole objective’ behind the hostage taking.
The state department made the suggestions as Bangladesh government sought US support for the release of the hostages.
On December 15, the state department’s bureau of South and Central Asia gave the suggestion to Bangladesh mission in Washington.
First secretary MJH Jabed was present at the meeting, which was also attended by counter-terrorism adviser Erik Pye, senior naval adviser Captain Jeffrey D Frederick and counter-piracy officer William P Astillero. obtained a copy of the letter containing US suggestion, which was sent by the Bangladesh mission.
‘At this monsoon time when the pirates pass through a lean phase, they are more eager for an early flow of money even if that is less than their expectation,’ said the letter.
‘Bangladesh should take advantage of that and approach the right intermediary for settling the issue,’ it said.
‘We sought opinion from the US government and they gave it. We are yet to decide about it,’ the shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, told on Friday.
He said the government would continue its efforts to secure the release of the captives.
‘We support the efforts of the government of Bangladesh to secure the safe return of the crew of the hijacked vessel,’ US embassy spokesperson Patricia Hill told on Friday.
Media reports suggest that the Somali pirates usually release the hostages in exchange for thousands of dollars as ransom.
The foreign minister, Dipu Moni, last week told journalists that no state could pay ransom in any case.
There are instances that the pirates killed hostages as the vessel owners did not pay ransom. In 2007, the pirates killed a Chinese national as the owners refused to pay the ransom, according to Wikipedia.
‘The US officials dismissed any other motive than money which prompted the pirates to hijack the ship,’ said the letter.
‘Experiences have shown that pirates generally behave well with their captives and they welcome ‘negotiation’ since harming the latter or annoying any state authority goes against their ultimate interests,’ it said.
The US officials confirmed that Bangladesh had no fault for the hijacking.
The US officials suggested that Dhaka should seek advice from Delhi for the hostages’ release as India faced similar situation in 2006.
Somali pirates hijacked the Bangladesh vessel Jahan Moni, with 26 Bangladeshis on board, on December 5.
The state department officials informed the government that at present 22 vessels were under the pirates’ custody.

-New Age

Christmas Day today

Thousands of Christians in the country are celebrating today the holy Christmas commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Christians of different groups will celebrate the festival amid festivity and religious fervor through special prayers and illuminating churches, installing makeshift Christmas trees at homes and places of worship and missions.
The community sources said the nearly five lakh Bangladeshi followers of Christianity, mostly divided in Catholic and Protestant groups, would celebrate their greatest religious festival in different areas.
Relatively elder people of the community attired in the outfit of Santa Claus make fun with children and distribute gifts as part of a universal Christian practice.
In suburban Dohar-Nababganj, where 18 villages have cent percent Christian population, the community members prepare and distribute traditional winter cakes while they provide money to poorer people of the community through churches to enable them to join the festival with equal festivity.

President Zillur Rahman will host a reception for the community at Bangabhaban tomorrow.
The President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued statements greeting the Christians of the country on the eve of the day and calling for upholding the tradition of religious harmony.
"Great men appeared in different ages to preach the greatness of the almighty creator and make the earth an abode of peace promoting mutual respect and love. Jesus Christ was one of them," he said.
The President added that the ideals and sacrifice of Jesus Christ inspired the people to follow the path of peace and
President Zillur Rahman praised the contribution of the Christian community to the development of education and society in the country.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the goal of Jesus Christ was to establish justice and peace in the world while his entire life was dedicated to bringing a sense of relief in human lives.
"He remained as an immortal figure for his lifestyle and qualities of character," she said.
The Christmas Day celebrations, however, began today this evening with Archbishop Paulinus Costa inaugurating the festival cutting cakes at St. Mary's Cathedral at Kakrail in Dhaka as churches and missions across the country organised programmes elsewhere in the country.
"We'll work together for the welfare of Bangladesh. Let this be our firm pledge," the archbishop told the function.
Presidents of Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad Major General (retired) C R Dutta, Bir Uttam, Advocate Cyril Sikder and Ushatan Talukdar and acting general secretary Satyendra Chandra Bhakta conveyed felicitations to the country's Christian community on happy Christmas.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra-Jubo-Oikya Parishad Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee expressed best wishes to the country's Christian community on this occasion.
The day is a public holiday.


Govt mum as US, UK missions make guarded remarks

The US embassy and the British high commission in Dhaka made guarded statements when New Age called their attention to WikiLeaks disclosures, as printed in the Guardian newspaper of London, about influence on Islamic education and open-pit coal mining and training of the Rapid Action Battalion in Bangladesh.

The government, however, has kept silent about Wikileaks disclosures on the issues.
The US embassy information officer, Patricia Hill, said they generally do not make statements on ‘leaked’ documents.
In an official statement e-mailed to New Age on Friday, she, however, said, ‘In recent days some media have reported on what are claimed to be classified State Department cables that detail private diplomatic discussions concerning events [i]n Bangladesh. [B]y its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions. Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with individuals across a range of sectors. President Obama supports responsible, accountable and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.’
A spokesman of the British high commission in Dhaka said the high commission generally do not make statement on ‘leaked’ documents.
The high commission official, however, said on Friday that the British government had been providing training for RAB men since 2008 in basic knowledge of law, fundamental human rights and conducting investigations in line with British law and values.
The training has been provided in good faith that RAB will uphold human rights while discharging its responsibilities, the official said.
When their attention was called to Wikileaks disclosures on US and British steps for influencing Islamic education, open-pit coal mining and Rapid Action Battalion training, the foreign minister, Dipu Moni, the education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, and the prime minister’s energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury avoided questions of New Age.
They avoided receiving calls and questions texted to them on Thursday and Friday.

-New Age

New Zealand v Pakistan (14:00 local | 01:00 GMT | 07:00 BDT) Start

 New Zealand squad
LRPL Taylor*, DG Brownlie, IG Butler, JEC Franklin, MJ Guptill, BB McCullum, NL McCullum, PD McGlashan†, KD Mills, AF Milne, JD Ryder, TG Southee, SB Styris, LJ Woodcock

Shahid Afridi
 Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Adnan Akmal†, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Tanvir Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Younis Khan

MSU's Sidney, Bailey suspended for fistfight

HONOLULU – The two Mississippi State players caught on camera fighting in the stands of the Diamond Head Classic have been suspended indefinitely and sent home from Hawaii.

Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey, who are roommates, were involved in a fistfight after the Bulldogs' game Thursday night. The altercation lasted for several minutes before being broken up by teammates and coaches.

"I'm very sorry for this incident," Sidney said in a statement released by the university. "I had no intention of this ever happening. I apologize for embarrassing my family, all the Mississippi State fans, my teammates and coaches.

"I will learn from this and move on."

MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin sent out a tweet on Friday saying "The actions that took place in Hawaii were embarrassing to all of us who love Mississippi State. This behavior will not be tolerated."

In a release from the university, coach Rick Stansbury expressed his disappointment.

"In my 13 years as a head coach, we've never had anything like this happen before," he said. "I am very disappointed in the actions of Elgin Bailey and Renardo Sidney and in no way does it reflect the overall picture of our program. It is not how we want our men's basketball team to be viewed nationally."

It's the latest in a string of issues for Sidney. The NCAA ruled last March he had to repay $11,800 in improper benefits and sit out the remainder of the 2010 season and nine more games this season.

It's a huge blow for the Bulldogs, who are now without two of their best frontcourt players. Sidney, a 6-foot-10 sophomore who was one of the most highly recruited players of the 2009 class, has averaged 15.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games this season. Bailey, a 6-foot-8 junior, has started 10 out of 11 games and is averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Sidney and Bailey will miss at least the next two games. MSU (8-4) plays Hawaii on Saturday in the Diamond Head Classic and then travels to Las Vegas to face St. Mary's on Wednesday.

Tulsa beats Hawaii 62-35 in Hawaii Bowl

HONOLULU – Tulsa's defense did its part in the Hawaii Bowl, pounding the quarterback and jumping in front of pass routes to force six turnovers in the first half alone.

Then it was the offense's turn, and that was no less impressive.

In a four-minute span early in the second half, the Golden Hurricane covered 206 yards in six plays for touchdowns on three straight possessions, sending Tulsa to a 62-35 victory over No. 24 Hawaii on Christmas Eve in Aloha Stadium.

"What an exciting football game to watch," Tulsa coach Todd Graham said. "We made some unbelievably explosive plays in the second half and we beat a Top 25 team today. And hopefully, we should be the Top 25 in the country."

Damaris Johnson, voted the MVP of the Hawaii Bowl, had his own ranking by the end of the night.

With a command performance just about every time he touched the ball, Johnson caught four passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, and ran five times for 98 yards, including a game-changing, 67-yard touchdown run that demoralized the Warriors (10-4).

Johnson, who came into the Hawaii Bowl leading the nation in all-purpose yards, finished with 326 yards to break the NCAA career record. The speedy junior has 7,796 all-purpose yards, topping the 7,764 yards that Brandon West had at Western Michigan in 2006-09.

"He's a great player," said Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne, who threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. "He breaks records every week, it feels like it. It's a privilege to play with him. We got one more year together."

Tulsa (10-3) finished the year with seven straight wins.

It was a sour ending for the Warriors on their home field. Bryant Moniz threw four interceptions in the opening half, one that linebacker Tanner Antle leaped high to pick off at the goal line early in the game, another than Curnelius Arnick returned 54 yards for a touchdown.

Moniz also was thrown to the ground by Tyrunn Walker in the first quarter, forcing him to miss two series.

Nothing mattered for the Warriors. Shane Austin led Hawaii on a touchdown drive, then threw an interception that John Flanders returned 54 yards for a touchdown.

"Terrible performance in our last game," Moniz said. "They had good pressure up front. They studied really hard in those four weeks that they had to prepare. It seemed like they were jumping all of our routes, so in the second half we went a little more deep."

Even when the Warriors finally got on track, Tulsa easily kept pace.

Tulsa was clinging to a 27-21 lead early in the second half, with momentum in Hawaii's favor. On first-and-10, Kinne took off toward the left sideline on an option, then pulled back at the last second when the defense converged on him.

That left him a sight that was beautiful even by Oahu's standards — Johnson camped out behind the coverage alone. Kinne dumped the pass off to him, and the 5-foot-8 receiver zipped across the field, dodging defenders, then up the sideline until he was caught 57 yards later. Kinne lobbed up a pass that Jameel Owens caught in the end zone on the next play for a 15-yard touchdown.

Both teams came on and off the field more quickly than a line change in hockey.

Moniz scrambled and found Jeremiah Ostrowski behind coverage for a 54-yard gain to the 1, and Alex Green punched it on the next play to complete a three-play drive.

Two plays later, Johnson went in motion and took a quick handoff from Kinne, darted around right end and outran everyone to the end zone for a 67-yard score. After Hawaii had to punt, Tulsa went 57 yards in two plays, with Kinne hitting Thomas Roberson in stride for a 47-yard touchdown that made it 48-28.

"I think our pace started to get to them," Kinne said.

Tulsa won a bowl game for the third straight time, a school record. It also set a school record for bowl games with six turnovers, all of them in the first half. Its 62 points were a record for the Hawaii Bowl.
Greg Salas, playing in his final game for Hawaii, had to be consoled before the trophy presentation. He had 13 catches for a career-high 214 yards and two touchdowns, and set Hawaii single-season record for receptions (119) and receiving yards (1,889).

"We had way too many turnovers, and it cost us," said Salas, who fumbled a punt return late in the first half that led to a Tulsa field goal. "We turned the ball over in key situations. It just goes to show you that the team with the most yards doesn't always win."

The number didn't add up in this game.

Tulsa had only 94 yards of offense in the opening half, yet still led 27-14.

The Golden Hurricane, which was ranked No. 119 in passing defense, gave up 479 yards in the air and 550 yards of total offense. But the defense was the key in the first half, and even in the third quarter by stopping Hawaii during a seven-minute shootout.

"You're not going to win a game if you turn the ball over six times," Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said. "Give credit to Tulsa. They did a good job. They have good players and they have good speed. They ran by us a couple times — more than a couple times."

Hawaii, which shared the WAC title with Boise State and Nevada, fell to 3-3 in the Hawaii Bowl.

South getting wintry mix, storm heading northeast

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With a rare Christmas snowfall descending on the Southeast and likely headed for the Mid-Atlantic, airlines canceled hundreds of flights and urged travelers to rethink their plans, while travel authorities warned of potentially dangerous roads.
After blanketing parts of the Midwest and hampering motorists there on Christmas Eve, the storm dipped south late Friday. Winter weather advisories were in effect Friday night from Missouri to West Virginia and from Iowa and Illinois down to Georgia and the Carolinas.
The wintry weather is the result of a low pressure system moving along the Gulf coast. It is expected to intensify and move northeast on Sunday to the mid-Atlantic states and New England. Just how far off the coast the low pressure system stays will determine whether areas such as Washington, D.C. get hit with snow on Sunday, said National Weather Service forecaster Jared Klein in northern Virginia
The weather service was forecasting possible snow for the New York and Boston areas, starting Sunday and continuing into Sunday night, with overnight temperatures in the 20s and wind gusts up to 30 mph.
The weather did not cause big problems for the airlines Friday, but Delta Air Lines spokesman Morgan Durrant said 500 weather-related flight cancellations were planned for Saturday nationwide. That included 300 of the 800 scheduled departures from the Atlanta hub. Durrant said those affected had been notified.
He recommended that passengers not travel by air in the Southeast on Christmas if they can help it.
"Atlanta will see more cancellations (Saturday) than on Sunday," he said. The Mid-Atlantic region could see cancellations Sunday.
Air Tran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said Friday evening that the carrier had only canceled two Saturday flights and was taking a wait-and-see approach to the storm.
Both airlines encouraged passengers to monitor their websites, and both offered to waive ticket-change fees for some flights scheduled for this weekend in the South and Mid-Atlantic.
In southern states, many were waiting to see whether they would enjoy a rare white Christmas.
By late Friday night, 2 to 3 inches of snow had fallen over several hours in Paducah, Ky. in the southwest part of the state, according to National Weather Service forecaster Jayson Wilson. "It's well above normal," he said.
Kentucky road crews were to load up with salt after 6 p.m. Friday for the anticipated snow in and around Louisville. Interstates and some roadways were pretreated with brine on Thursday.
Louisville last had snowfall on Christmas in 2002, when a half-inch fell.
The Weather Service said that for the first Christmas in 17 years, Nashville and Atlanta could get more than just a dusting of snow. The last time there was measurable snowfall on Christmas Day in Atlanta was in 1881, when 1.6 inches of snow fell on the city.
In the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Vincenzo Tortorici said the prospect of snow evoked the memory of childhood Christmas visits to his relatives in Ohio.
"Snow was like frozen white icing on the cake of a magical time of my childhood," he said Friday. "I'm glad the weather might cooperate to give my own son a white Christmas this year."
In parts of Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas, the overnight snow was likely to be mixed with sleet and rain before turning entirely to snow. Temperatures in Georgia are expected to dip into the 20s on Christmas night, possibly leading to slick road conditions.
"If roads aren't able to dry up during the day, that's what will freeze up Saturday night into Sunday morning," said the weather service's Vaughn Smith in Atlanta.
Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said people traveling by car on the East Coast over the holidays should check the weather forecasts.
"The fact is Mother Nature is going to be a big factor" in holiday travel, he said. "She's calling the shots this holiday season and in many places it will be very tough going." He said motorists should make sure their car is ready, especially their tires, and that they have enough windshield wiper fluid.
"It doesn't take much in the Mid-Atlantic area to cause mayhem," Anderson said.
In Minnesota, the storm brought 6 inches of snow Friday to Minneapolis and St. Paul. It pushed the monthly total there to 33.4 inches, topping the previous December record set in 1969.
The snow made traveling tough Friday in northeastern Iowa, where the bulk of the storm hovered. Cedar Rapids received more than 7 inches of snow.
Scott and Lori Whiting left Chicago for Colorado Springs, Colo., with their nine children Thursday evening. By morning, they had only reached Des Moines, a trip that normally takes about four hours, Lori Whiting said.
"The cars are really sliding around up there," Lori Whiting said. "It's kind of slushy. Some parts it's packed, and you don't think it's going to be slick and all of a sudden your car is fishtailing."
Scott Whiting got into a fender bender at a Des Moines truck stop. Still, the family was in good spirits and the children were singing carols.
Lori Whiting said they were hoping to make it to Colorado Springs for Christmas Eve.
"Depending on the number of potty breaks, you understand," she said.
Travelers could see airport screeners taking a closer look at empty insulated beverage containers like thermoses because air carriers were alerted about a potential terror tactic involving them, an administration official said.
The official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters, stressed that there is no intelligence about an active terror plot. The Homeland Security Department regularly alerts law enforcement about evolving terror tactics.
The Air Transport Association was expecting 44.3 million people on U.S. flights between Dec. 16 and Jan. 5 — up 3 percent over the same period a year ago but still below pre-recession travel volume. The average ticket price was $421, up by 5 percent.
The AAA predicted overall holiday travel to rise about 3 percent this year, with more than 92 million people planning to go more than 50 miles by Jan. 2. More than 90 percent said they would be driving.
Said Anderson of the storm: "The timing is really bad."
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Karen Hawkins in Chicago; Warren Levinson and Verena Dobnik in New York City; David Goodman in Detroit; Eileen Sullivan and Samantha Bomkamp in Washington; Michelle Price in Phoenix; Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Leonard Pallats and Greg Bluestein in Atlanta and Mark Pratt in Boston.
 Related Quotes:
^DJI 11,573.49  +14.00
^GSPC 1,256.77   -2.07
^IXIC 2,665.60        -5.88 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Zimbabwe 191 v Bangladesh 194/4 (39.4 ov) Win Bangladesh For 7 wicket

Bangladesh won by 6 wickets (with 62 balls remaining)

5 Ways to Save a Little More Each Month

Many of us are always looking for ways to save a little more each month. Indeed, even spare change can be helpful when it comes to saving a little more. The idea is to get in the habit of looking for ways to keep a little more money for yourself—and your future—rather than spending it. When you are in this habit, you will find that it becomes easier to save a little more each month. These are savings that can start to add up to bigger amounts of money down the road.

[In Pictures: 12 Money Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes]

Here are five ways to save a little more each month:

1. Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs

Whether it is summer or winter, it is possible to cut your utility costs. Look for energy leaks in your home, and work to plug them up so that heating and cooling are not as expensive. You can also audit your plugs and power strips, consolidating your appliances and electronics in a way that allows you to turn off power to the plugs and avoid energy vampirism. Turn your water heater down and get a programmable thermostat. Efforts to reduce your utility costs can be surprisingly effective.

2. Cut Your Water Bills

My mother-in-law does laundry almost every day. Imagine what she could save in water bills if she waited and did laundry only once a week—or when there was a full load. You can cut your water bill by filling your dishwasher before running it, and taking shorter showers. Outside, you can use native plants in your landscaping so that water is not as necessary for your yard. A timer for your sprinkling system can help. You can also get a rain barrel, and store up water that can be used for your plants, rather than relying only on sprinklers.

3. Re-evaluate Your Cell Phone Needs

Many of us have cell phones now. But do you really need a huge plan? We have a pay as you go plan that does really well for us, saving us a bundle. You can also reconsider your need for a land line if you decide that your cell phone plan is necessary. Figure out whether VoIP services like Skype might be helpful, and how you can combine these types of phone services with a reasonable cell phone to save money.

[Visit the U.S. News My Money blog for the best money advice from around the web.]

4. Cancel Subscriptions

Do you really need those publications? Can you find them online? Is there a cheaper online subscription? What about downsizing your current subscription? Our family would never dream of canceling our Netflix subscription, but we are thinking of downsizing it to a streaming-only version. With the ability to have rentals available instantly, without discs, we may not need more expensive versions. Of course, our desire for certain shows means that we still have cable, but we have the most basic package. Consider where you can cut back, go to the library, or just forget subscriptions altogether.

5. Plan Your Meals

This is a big one. Actually planning your meals can be a good way to save money overall. You won't be scrambling to buy take out or use pre-packaged foods that are often more expensive. Meal planning also requires that you create a grocery list—something that has been shown to help you keep costs under control while shopping. Learn how to use the crock pot, or make simple meals that take little time to prepare. This can help you save a little money on food costs.

Bottom Line: These ideas are pretty simple and seem kind of obvious. However, sometimes we forget to go back to simple financial basics, making things more complex (and expensive) than they have to be.

Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance Blog, which covers a wide range of personal finance  and investing topics, with features that include reviews, comparison guides, and Q&A sections.

Best Colleges 2011

Snow batters Europe as Britain grinds to halt

Fresh snowfalls swept northern Europe, causing misery for travellers as airports remain closed, roads were blocked and Eurostar international rail services were cancelled
  • A British Airways plane is seen parked as staff clear snow on the runways to reopen the airport at the London City Airport.
  • Image Credit: AP
London: Fresh snowfalls swept northern Europe, causing misery for travellers as airports remain closed, roads were blocked and Eurostar international rail services were cancelled.
The unseasonable cold snap, which has lasted nearly a week, has brought Britain grinding to a halt, with thousands of schools closed and commuters stranded as rail services were cancelled and icy roads deemed unsafe.

Gatwick Airport, Britain's second busiest airport after Heathrow, closed for a second consecutive day, sparking outrage at the nation's apparent inability to cope with the cold.
The London airport said it hoped to reopen early Friday, but warned travellers to expect further delays and disruption.
Ministers have promised a review of how the transport network is coping, as newspapers said Britain had become a "laughing stock" abroad, but pointed out that the rest of Europe was also faring badly as temperatures plummeted.
Eurostar, which runs trains between London and Paris and Brussels, cancelled more than 20 trains Thursday and said it would operate a significantly reduced service until Sunday.
There would be no more tickets on sale until Monday at the earliest, it said.
Geneva international airport only reopened Thursday morning after heavy snow caused it to close for a day and a half, but its schedule was still subject to heavy delays.
Flights resumed at Dublin Airport late Thursday after it was closed to allow snow and ice to be cleared from the runways.
Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed Thursday at airports in Paris, Prague and Frankfurt - one of Europe's key air hubs.
The freezing weather has claimed 28 lives across central Europe this week, including 18 deaths since Tuesday in Poland, mostly of homeless men, as temperatures there plunged to minus 33 degrees Celsius (minus 27.5 Fahrenheit).
Snow storms that have swept the continent in recent days intensified in many places Thursday, including in London, where the first proper falls of the season left landmarks such as the British Museum covered in a layer of white.
But the pretty pictures belied the misery felt by many commuters stuck as services into the capital failed, a situation condemned as "unacceptable" by Jo deBank, communications officer for rail passenger watchdog London TravelWatch.
"After severe disruption in the last two years, we were assured that lessons had been learnt and contingency plans put in place, so we are bitterly disappointed at the delays and cancellations suffered by passengers," she said.
Many people gave up - one survey suggested that two in five staff across Britain were not able to get to work on Thursday morning, while a similar number were late arriving.
Insurer RSA estimated that the bad weather could cost the British economy up to 1.2 billion pounds (1.9 billion dollars, 2.3 billion euros) a day.
Others who braved it had trouble getting home, and hundreds of passengers were forced to bed down for the night in a freezing train which failed amid heavy snow at a station in Sussex, southeast England.
In Germany, Berlin woke up to more than ten centimetres (four inches) of snow, while almost 40 centimetres fell in Gera in the southeast, causing disruptions on train services and the closure of numerous roads.
Forecasters warned temperatures were likely to fall even further overnight Thursday, plunging to as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius in Brandenburg, the region surrounding the German capital.
In the northern French region of Normandy, snow measured 60 centimetres near the city of Cherbourg, the biggest snowfall in more than 40 years.
In the western Balkans, heavy rain caused flooding in Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, with more than 1,000 people evacuated from their homes, local media said.
While most of Europe shivered, residents of the Bulgarian capital Sofia enjoyed a seasonal heatwave with temperatures topping 20 degrees Celsius, while unseasonably high temperatures were also recorded in Greece.

"A record - 21.3 degrees - was established Thursday, the highest temperature for the month of December ever since measurements began in Sofia over 100 years ago," Krasimir Stoev from Bulgaria's national institute of meteorology told AFP.

Fortune 500

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Best Places to Live 2010

Best Places to Live 2010 
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These small cities offer the optimal combination of job opportunities, top-notch schools, low crime, diversions, and more.

America's Best Colleges

 America's Best Colleges 2010
Find out which Ivy League school came out on top in the 27th annual rankings of national universities. 

The Richest Americans

Forbes 400
The Forbes 400 regained lost ground in 2010, while most were still smarting from the recession.

Financially Fit

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Navigating today's unique challenges isn't easy. Here are five key areas to focus on as you get your finances back on track.

Talking Numbers

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A look at the top business news stories of the day, stock picks from the pros, and what investors should be watching in the week ahead

Oil hovers near $88 in Asia amid economic optimism

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Oil prices hovered near $88 a barrel Friday in Asia, with losses tempered by hopes of strong growth in demand for crude and Europe's progress in containing its debt crisis.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 35 cents to $87.60 a barrel at late afternoon Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.25 to settle at $88 a barrel on Thursday, just shy of the 2010 high of $88.29.

Signs the U.S. economy is gaining strength have spurred a rally on Wall Street this week, and that in turn drove oil prices up. U.S. manufacturing activity, retail sales and the housing market all improved. And while more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the average over the past month fell to a two-year low.

Strong manufacturing data from China, a major crude importer, also lifted sentiment and turned attention away from European debt problems to the underlying strength of global oil demand, Barclays Capital said in a report.

"The momentum in global economic growth remains strong," it said. "Overall, the latest U.S. data remain consistent with our view of continued steady demand increases ahead."

Europe's progress on containing its debt crisis added to the optimism. The European Central Bank calmed markets after saying it would extend the availability of emergency loans and offer credit at a super-low rate through the first half of next year.

The European Union agreed on bailout loans for Ireland last weekend, the second country after Greece following soaring budget deficits. There are fears Portugal and Spain may have to follow suit.

Analysts said the crude market will take cues from monthly U.S. unemployment figures later Friday.

Ritterbusch and Associates foresaw rosy prospects for crude. It predicted prices could drift before hitting $90.50 a barrel in the near term. Goldman Sachs was even more sanguine, forecasting crude prices to hit an average $100 a barrel in 2011 and $110 in 2012.

In other Nymex trading in January contracts, heating oil fell 1 cent to $2.45 a gallon while gasoline shed 1 cent to $2.35. Natural gas fell 1.1 cent to $4.33 per 1,000 cubic feet

In London, Brent crude fell 18 cents to $90.51 a barrel on the ICE futures exchange.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obama and GOP leaders again vow to ‘work together,’ but admit it won’t be easy

Emerging from their first sit-down since Election Day, President Obama and GOP leaders called their White House meeting "productive" and reiterated promises to "work together" on behalf of the American people.

But even as Obama heralded the get-together as a "good start," both sides acknowledged that the true test of bipartisanship lies ahead, as Democrats and Republicans remain strongly divided on issues like an extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts. Obama said that this would be the first of several meetings with him and leadership, including a Camp David retreat.

"None of this is going to be easy," Obama told reporters afterward. "Although the atmosphere in the meeting was extremely civil … there's always going to be political incentive to work against each other, particularly in the current hyper-partisan climate."

In a separate news conference on Capitol Hill after the meeting, incoming House Speaker John Boehner echoed Obama's comments. "We had a very nice meeting today. The question is: Can we find the common ground that the American people expect us to find?"

The meeting, planned to last an hour, ran for nearly two hours. GOP leaders said Obama privately acknowledged that in the most recent Congress he had not reached out to Republicans as much as he should have -- a point he has also made in public interviews. He pledged to work more closely with the opposing party, they said.

"I think spending more time [together] will help us find some common ground," Boehner said.

Both Boehner and Obama, pointing to vast political differences between Democrats and Republicans, said compromise won't be easy. But both sides agree that gridlock in Washington is not helpful to either party, they said.

"Americans did not vote for gridlock, and they will hold all of us — and I mean all of us — accountable for it," Obama said.

In perhaps the only real significant development of the meeting, Obama announced that he had assigned his budget director, Jack Lew, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to begin negotiating with Republicans on an extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Yet Obama did not signal any change in his position on the issue: He wants to extend the tax cuts for the middle class, whereas Republicans want to make the tax cuts permanent even for the wealthiest Americans.

Even with all the nice talk, there were hints that relations between the GOP and the White House haven't completely lost their edge. Asked whether the GOP would dial down its rhetoric against Obama, the Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, dodged the question.

Obama told reporters he believes the sit-down will "yield results."

See also:

Inspired by tea party success, Latinos float ‘Tequila Party’ grass-roots movement

Latino leaders in Nevada and around the country are floating the idea of breaking traditional ties with the Democratic Party and creating a grass-roots independent movement tentatively called the Tequila Party. According to Delen Goldberg at the Las Vegas Sun, the leaders want to pressure the Democratic Party to deliver on Latinos' priorities much in the same way the tea party has done with the GOP over the past few years.

Robert de Posada, the former GOP operative behind this fall's controversial "Don't Vote" ads aimed at Latinos in Nevada and California, tells The Lookout that he has heard "rumblings" of this movement among national Latino leaders.

"The Tequila Party is a great concept to basically say, 'You know what? This blind support for you is coming to an end,'" De Posada says. "If you are perceived as someone who will never vote for a Republican, then you're screwed," because Democrats will take you for granted, he says.

[Video: President Clinton: We should all listen to the tea party movement]

In the midterm elections, 64 percent of Latinos voted Democratic, and in Nevada, analysts agree that Latinos' votes were responsible for Sen. Harry Reid's re-election.

Reid promised to bring the DREAM Act -- which would let youths who were brought into the country illegally gain legal status if they join the military or attend college -- to a vote in the current lame-duck session of Congress. But some Democrats, and the vast majority of Republicans, are shunning the legislation, which once garnered significant bipartisan support. Juan Hernandez, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain's former volunteer director of Hispanic outreach, told reporters Monday that the White House and Democrats are not showing enough leadership on the issue.

Republicans are leading the charge against the legislation. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) claims some criminals will qualify for legalization (which immigration advocates dispute). A weeks-long hunger strike by dozens of University of Texas students has failed to convince Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) to renew her earlier support for the DREAM Act, her spokeswoman says.

The Tequila Party is still just talk for now, as no Latino leader has publicly backed the scheme. But De Posada says their silence makes sense, as they will want to be sure they have a fully formed plan before they risk angering allies in the Democratic Party. "They'd better be prepared when they come out swinging," he says. Frank Sharry of the pro-immigration reform group America's Voice, says he doubts the Tequila Party will ever actually get off the ground. "I do think Democrats should worry because the arguments for the Tequila party are persuasive to me...The frustration is understandable," he says.

It's curious that Latino leaders are looking to the tea party for organizational inspiration, since many tea party groups supported Arizona's tough immigration law and other enforcement measures. More than 85 percent of Hispanics back comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, according to a recent poll, and 80 percent disapprove of Arizona's immigration law.

As some Latinos ponder a symbolic break with the Democratic Party, the GOP is more aggressively trying to attract coveted Latino voters ahead of the presidential election. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is co-sponsoring a conservative Hispanic Forum, which he has publicized this week on his Hispanic issues news website The Americano. According to the forum's agenda, terrorism and national security are a major focus.

[Related: Did tea party have an effect on hit show's results?]

Meanwhile, the American Action Network and American Action Forum -- outside conservative political action committees led by former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) -- have formed the Hispanic Leadership Network, which is co-chaired by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. Coleman told The Lookout that the group will not take an official stand on immigration reform.

The trigger for the Tequila Party may be if Democrats again fail to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform

"It would definitely induce us," Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Hispanics in Politics, told the Sun. "We would have to do something at that point to get ready for 2012."

(Photo of Chicago resident Magda Castaneda protesting the tea party: AP)

See also:

Monday, November 29, 2010

The One Number That Spells Market Upside or Downside in 2011


From 700 to 1,200. That's the stunning move made by the S&P 500 in just 20 months.

No one's expecting that index to tack on another +70% in the next 20 months, but more than a few market watchers are calling for moderate +10% to +15% gains next year. For that to happen, the economy must prove to be on a path to health, with 2011 GDP growth rates exceeding what we're getting in 2010. Indeed, third-quarter GDP has just been upwardly revised from +2.0% to +2.5%. But a just-released forecast from the National Association for Business Economics should give pause.
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The survey of economists anticipates GDP growth of +2.6% in 2011, down from +2.7% in 2010. And that just won't cut it. So many components of the economic picture are reliant on more robust growth to finally become healthy again. Let's look at what the difference would be between +2.0% to +2.5% growth and +3.5% to +4.0% growth in various parts of the economy. Based on the picture painted from these outcomes, you'll want to adjust your portfolio accordingly.

Employment and consumer spending. Economic growth below +3% is likely to keep the economy moving enough to avoid the need for any further layoffs. But it is also insufficient to get things moving, either. On the other hand, if GDP growth were closer to +3.5%, you could expect to see the beginning of a jobs boom as we saw in the mid-1990s as companies gain greater confidence in the 2012 and 2013 economic outlooks. And any material upturn in employment -- where the economy is creating more than 200,000 jobs a month -- would be a clear panacea for consumer spending.

Retailers and housing. If the NABE survey bears out and we see growth of around +2.6% in 2011, then brace yourself for another subpar year for retail and housing stocks. Housing in particular looks to be troubled for yet longer until and unless we get a really robust economic upturn, as there are simply too many empty houses creating a drag on the sector. Looking on the bright side, retailers are already geared for a tough environment and would become hugely profitable if the economy were on a higher plane.

Federal, state and local budget deficits. Politicians are loathe to raise tax rates, but all would welcome an increase in tax receipts that come from a more robust economy. Rising tax receipts helped us generate budget surpluses in the late 1990s after years of budget deficits. And the difference is hard to overstate: +2.5% GDP growth would leave many industries marginally profitable. Yet if you tack on another percentage point to GDP growth rates, then profit margins would quickly fatten, and so would the taxes that many firms pay. Without a material upturn in tax receipts, it's hard to see how Washington can finally chip away at the federal deficit, and it's also hard to see how state and local governments can avoid draconian measures to avoid default.

Trade and the dollar. Weak economic growth brings a small silver lining. Our level of imports would be restrained as demand and spending remains weak. And the weak economy could push the dollar yet lower, which would be a boon for our exporters. This is the long-term thesis of some economists. They believe that the United States has to endure an extended period of subpar economic growth relative to the rest of the world to get our trade deficit back into balance.

Watching the calendar. That's why the next two months are crucial for investors. You'll want to closely monitor the economic data as it is released for any signs that we're exiting 2010 on a robust note or a tepid note. By late winter, we'll have a clearer sense of how the 2011 economic picture will play out.

Here are key upcoming economic dates to watch ... .

The week after Thanksgiving will bring several important economic items, including the Case-Shiller Housing Price Index, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index and the latest read on consumer confidence (all on Tuesday).

On the first Friday of December, we'll get the latest look at employment trends. Economists expect the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 9.6%, and looking out during the next six months, anticipates the unemployment rate to fall to 9.1% by next June. If that happens, the markets are likely to react mildly positively, as it would set the stage for an anticipation of further employment gains into the future, possibly pushing unemployment below 8% sometime in 2012.

The following Friday, December 10th, is also an important day for economy watchers. That's when we'll get the latest looks at trends in international trade, import and export prices, consumer sentiment and the current state of the federal budget deficit.

Action to Take: It's a strange time. There are ample reasons for bullishness and bearishness, and with the economy right on the line between tepid growth and improving growth, investors need to stay sharply attuned to the economic tea leaves. The +70% gain from the March 2009 nadir is partially attributable to expectations that the economy will get better and better with each passing quarter. And right now, that's not sure thing. In this kind of market, it's wise to take profits when you can on any short-term moves while sitting tight on your long-term core holdings.

Stocks drop on European debt concerns; Dow off 110

Stocks fall as concerns about Irish bailout package overshadow strong retail sales 


NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks fell sharply Monday afternoon as concerns about the European debt crisis overshadowed a strong weekend of holiday sales.

The euro fell to a two-month low and investors flocked to the safety of the dollar and Treasurys after the European Union agreed Sunday to provide nearly $90 billion in rescue loans for Ireland. The move is designed to shore up Ireland's cash-strapped banks, but it does little to relieve investors' concerns about other European countries, including Portugal and Spain.

"The good news is they're making progress with Ireland," said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist for RidgeWorth Investments. "The concern is that there is more work left to do for the EU going forward."

As a result, traders largely ignored the upbeat news on holiday retail sales in the U.S. The National Retail Federation, a trade group, estimated that 212 million shoppers visited stores and websites during the first weekend of the holiday season, up from 195 million last year.

Online spending also rose more than 14 percent from Thanksgiving Day through Saturday, according to IBM's Coremetrics. Shares of online retailer rose $1.51, or 0.9 percent, to $178.73 in the afternoon of what's known as "Cyber Monday," a day when shoppers return to work and buy items online.

A fuller picture on spending will come Thursday when retailers report November sales. Investors have been hoping that consumers, who have generally been spending cautiously since the recession, would feel more comfortable about shopping during the holidays. Many economists believe that consumers will have to spend more freely for the economy to put together a stronger recovery. However it's too soon to tell if sales will remain strong through Christmas.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 110.35 points, or 1 percent, to 10,981.65 in late morning trading. It was the first time since last Tuesday that the Dow surrendered the 11,000 level in intraday trading. Twenty-five of the 30 stocks in the average fell.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.60, or 0.8 percent, to 1,179.59. All 10 industries in the S&P 500 fell. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index dropped 26.71, or 1.1 percent, to 2,507.82.

Bank stocks were some of the best performers. JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 0.7 percent, while other banks, such as Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and Regions Financial Corp. all rose more than 1 percent.

Dick Bove, a banking analyst at Rochdale Securities, said investors realized that some U.S. banks had little exposure to European debt issues. He added that U.S. companies could also benefit if European banks are subject to stringent new capital requirements, making it tougher for them to do business.

"When people sit down and think about the situation in Europe, it is clear that the American banks emerge in a much stronger position," he said.

Elsewhere, FedEx Corp. rose $3.06, or 3.5 percent, to $90.56 after a Credit Suisse analyst raised his investment rating on the shipper, predicting growth in global industrial production.

In corporate news, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, after the company said it is buying a 51 percent stake in South African retailer Massmart. The transaction, worth about $2 billion, will cost Wal-Mart $20.71 per share. It gives the retailer access to the growing South African economy.

European stocks traded sharply lower. In London, the FTSE 100 index was down 2.1 percent. Germany's DAX fell 2.2 percent. The CAC-40 index in France fell 2.5 percent.

Oil prices rose $1.83 to $85.61 a barrel. Gold for February delivery rose $2.70, or 0.2 percent, to $1,367 an ounce.

The dollar rose 0.7 percent against an index of six other currencies.

Bond prices rose as investors shifted money out of riskier assets like stocks and commodities and into defensive investments. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.83 percent Monday from 2.87 percent Friday.

Investors were also cautious as they awaited the week's economic reports, including the government's monthly employment report due out on Friday. Also due this week are the Conference Board's survey of consumer confidence on Tuesday, and the Institute for Supply Management's assessments of the manufacturing and services industries.

Markets doubtful as Germany, France say euro saved

By Erik Kirschbaum and Daniel Flynn

BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) - Germany and France said on Monday that Europe had acted decisively to save the euro by rescuing Ireland and agreeing the basis of a permanent debt resolution system, but financial markets were unconvinced.

The euro's respite rally was brief in the early hours of Monday's trading and European shares closed at a seven-week low, with banks among the losers as investor optimism over Ireland's debt bailout faded.

Yields on Irish government bonds were higher than Friday's close and off their lows seen in early trade after the agreement was sealed on Sunday. The spreads between Spanish and Italian bonds versus their German equivalent widened to euro-lifetime highs as optimism for the Irish deal waned.

Credit default swap costs on Portugal and Spain both hit record highs on Monday on fears they may be next in line to struggle with their debt.

"The benefits to Portugal and Ireland can be seen, but they're marginal. On the other hand, there is concern about the rest, with the spreads for Belgium, Italy and Spain all widening," Monument Securities strategist Marc Ostwald said.

"It just goes to reinforce the point that the market says 'when is the next problem going to occur?' And that is not going away," he added.

Under pressure to arrest the threat to the euro and prevent contagion engulfing Portugal and Spain, EU finance ministers on Sunday agreed an 85 billion-euro ($115 billion) package to help Dublin cover bad bank debts and bridge a huge budget deficit.

They also approved the outlines of a long-term European Stability Mechanism (ESM), based on a Franco-German proposal, that will create a permanent bailout facility and make the private sector gradually share the burden of any future default.


"This is a measure which is not simply a single shot taken in response to an important crisis, it forms part of the absolute determination of Europe -- of France and Germany -- to save the euro zone," French government spokesman Francois Baroin told Europe 1 radio.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said calm and reality should return to financial markets and French Economy Christine Lagarde said "irrational," "sheep-like" markets were not pricing sovereign debt risk in Europe correctly.

Markets were unmoved by their urgings.

"I think it is almost impossible now to stop the contagion," said Mark Grant, managing director of corporate syndicate and structured debt products at Southwest Securities in Florida.


Portugal is widely seen as the next euro zone "domino" at risk and business confidence data for November added to the gloom. It fell for the second straight month on poor prospects for the economy due to austerity measures designed to calm investor concerns about its creditworthiness.

Portugal's Labour Minister Helena Andre said the government was preparing to start talks with firms and unions on reforming the labor market to increase competitiveness.

Nouriel Roubini, the U.S. economist who warned of an impending credit crisis before 2007, told the Diario Economico business daily that Portugal would likely need a bailout.

"Like it or not, Portugal is reaching the critical point. Perhaps it could be a good idea to ask for a bailout in a preventative fashion," he said.

Troubles in Portugal could spread quickly to Spain because of their close economic ties, and the Spanish government is seen as having to pay more to lure investors to Thursday's three-year bond offering.

Roubini said that while Spain had better budget and debt positions than other euro periphery states, high unemployment and the collapse of a property bubble meant that, like Ireland, its banking sector could need emergency aid.

"The question is whether it could happen in Spain. The official funds are not sufficient for also bailing out Spain," he said, and the fiscal cost of cleaning up its financial system would be bigger than government estimates.


Under its bailout, Ireland was given an extra year, until 2015, to get its budget deficit down below the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product, an acknowledgment that austerity measures will hit growth in the next four years.

Greece has been given a six-year extension to 2021 on loan repayments linked to its rescue, said Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, at the price of a higher rate of interest.

The new European Stability Mechanism could make private bondholders share the cost of restructuring a euro zone country's debt issued after mid-2013 on a case-by-case basis.

Germany's Schaeuble, in comments aimed at calming markets, said it will take about five years from 2013 before a majority of outstanding euro zone bonds carry clauses to include private sector liability in future bailouts.

The lack of detail in an earlier Franco-German deal on a crisis mechanism, agreed last month, and talk of private investors having to take losses, or "haircuts," on the value of sovereign bonds, helped drive Ireland over the cliff.

Debt fears have driven the crisis for the past year, denting confidence in the 12-year-old euro currency and producing a showdown between European politicians and financial markets.

The proposed permanent crisis resolution mechanism, to be finalized in the coming weeks, is intended to prevent Europe having to rush like a fireman from one blaze to another.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North, South Korea exchange fire; 2 marines killed

INCHEON, South Korea – North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday after the North shelled an island near their disputed sea border, killing at least two South Korean marines, setting dozens of buildings ablaze and sending civilians fleeing for shelter.
Smoke rises from South Korea's Yeonpyeong island ...

The clash, which put South Korea's military on high alert, was one of the rivals' most dramatic confrontations since the Korean War ended, and one of the few to put civilians at risk, though no nonmilitary deaths were immediately reported. Sixteen South Korean soldiers and three civilians were injured and the extent of casualties on the northern side was unknown.

The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into disputed waters, albeit away from the North Korean shore, the North retaliated by bombarding the small island of Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.

"I thought I would die," said Lee Chun-ok, 54, an islander who said she was watching TV in her home when the shelling began. Suddenly, a wall and door collapsed.

"I was really, really terrified," she told The Associated Press after being evacuated to the port city of Incheon, west of Seoul, "and I'm still terrified."

South Korea responded by firing K-9 155mm self-propelled howitzers and dispatching fighter jets. Officials in Seoul said there could be considerable North Korean casualties. The entire skirmish lasted about an hour.

Each side has threatened the other against another attack.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who convened an emergency security meeting shortly after the initial bombardment, said that an "indiscriminate attack on civilians can never be tolerated."

"Enormous retaliation should be made to the extent that (North Korea) cannot make provocations again," he said.

South Korea holds military exercises like Tuesday's off the west coast about every three months.

The supreme military command in Pyongyang threatened more strikes if the South crossed their maritime border by "even 0.001 millimeter," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

A statement from the North said it was merely "reacting to the military provocation of the puppet group with a prompt powerful physical strike," and accused Seoul of starting the skirmish with its "reckless military provocation as firing dozens of shells inside the territorial waters of the" North.

Government officials in Seoul called the bombardments "inhumane atrocities" that violated the 1953 armistice halting the Korean War. The two sides technically remain at war because a peace treaty was never signed, and nearly 2 million troops — including tens of thousands from the U.S. — are positioned on both sides of the world's most heavily militarized border.

The clash, along with continuing worry about the fallout from Ireland's debt crisis, was a factor in pushing Asian and European stock markets sharply lower. Wall Street opened lower.

The exchange represents a sharp escalation of the skirmishes that flare up along the disputed border from time to time. It also comes amid high tensions over the North's apparent progress in its quest for nuclear weapons — Pyongyang claims it has a new uranium enrichment facility — and six weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il anointed his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as the heir apparent.

"It brings us one step closer to the brink of war," said Peter Beck, a research fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, "because I don't think the North would seek war by intention, but war by accident, something spiraling out of control has always been my fear."

Columns of thick black smoke rose from homes on the island, video from YTN cable TV showed. Screams and shouts filled the air as shells rained down on the island just south of the disputed sea border.

Yeonpyeong lies a mere seven miles (11 kilometers) from — and within sight of — the North Korean mainland.

The United States, which has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea, condemned the attack. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea to "halt its belligerent action," and said the U.S. is committed to South Korea's defense.

China, the North's economic and political benefactor, which also maintains close commercial ties to the South, appealed to both sides to remain calm and "to do more to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Stephen Bosworth, the Obama administration's special envoy to North Korea, said he discussed the clash with the Chinese foreign minister and that they agreed both sides should show restraint. He reiterated that the U.S. stands firmly with its ally, South Korea.

Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of U.S. forces in South Korea and the U.S.-led U.N. Command, said in a Facebook posting that the U.S. military is "closely monitoring the situation and exchanging information with our (South Korean) allies as we always do."

Yeonpyeong, famous for its crabbing industry and home to about 1,700 civilians as well as South Korean military installations. There are about 30 other small islands nearby.

North Korea fired dozens of rounds of artillery in three separate barrages that began in midafternoon, while South Korea returned fire with about 80 rounds, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Naval operations had been reinforced in the area, the JCS said early Wednesday, declining to elaborate.

Two South Korean marines were killed and 16 injured, it said. Island residents fled to some 20 shelters on the island and sporadic shelling ended after about an hour, according to the military.

The Koreas' 1950s war ended in a truce, but North Korea does not recognize the western maritime border drawn unilaterally by the United Nations at the close of the conflict, and the Koreas have fought three bloody skirmishes there in recent years.

South Korea holds military exercises like Tuesday's off the west coast about every three months.

In March, a South Korean warship went down in the waters while on a routine patrolling mission. Forty-six sailors were killed in what South Korea calls the worst military attack on the country since the war.

Seoul blamed a North Korean torpedo, but Pyongyang denied responsibility.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Police eye death of boy who fell at Staples Center

LOS ANGELES – The family of a 2-year-old boy was posing for pictures in a luxury suite high inside Staples Center when he managed to scale a clear safety barrier and fell about 30 feet to his death, police said on Monday.

Lucas Anthony Tang suffered head injuries Sunday when he landed on rows of seats minutes after the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 117-89, police said. The boy later died at a hospital.

"Somehow the child went over the edge of the section," Officer Julie Sohn said.

Police were releasing few details about the incident as they tried to determine what happened.

Sohn said the boy's family was taking photographs at the time of the fall.

The Los Angeles Times, citing unidentified police sources, said the toddler's family was looking at digital photographs and lost track of him. He somehow got over the top of the glass barrier, the newspaper reported.

Sohn, however, said she could not confirm those details.

The luxury boxes have tiers of seats, fronted by concrete walls. Atop the walls are glass barriers. The barrier varies in height but at its lowest point is about the height of an adult's waist, said Michael Roth, a spokesman for Staples and owner, AEG.

Roth said the toddler fell into a general seating area about 30 rows up from the court.

Initial estimates put the child's fall at about 50 feet, but Roth later said the third tier of boxes is three stories up, or about 30 feet.

Witnesses said the boy was moving his arms, legs and head when paramedics put him in an ambulance, Roth said.

The 950,000-square-foot stadium opened in 1999 and has 160 luxury suites on three levels.

"In 11 years, we've never had an incident like this," he said.

The building is in compliance with city codes, Department of Building and Safety spokesman David Lara said.

Building regulations require guardrails that are at least 26 inches high in front of seats, he said. Guardrails in front of stairs must be 42 inches high.

The police department's juvenile division, which has investigative responsibility when a victim is under age 11, was handling the probe. "It's procedural" and did not necessarily indicate that a crime was involved, Sohn said.

The arena was conducting its own investigation, Roth said.

Roth declined to release details about the boy's family but said the luxury box — as with most suites — probably was owned by a corporation.

"Our condolences and prayers go to the Tang family," Roth said a short prepared statement.

The Lakers organization issued a statement expressing shock and sadness at the tragedy.

"To go from a moment of happiness and enjoyment, to the loss of this boy's life, is tragic and heartbreaking. We would like to ask Lakers fans to join us in keeping Lucas and his family in our thoughts and prayers," the statement said.

Roth said Monday night's game between the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Hornets would go on as scheduled.

The arena is home to the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

Adjacent to the popular LA Live entertainment complex, Staples is also one of the city's major venues for concerts and special events such as the Grammy Awards.

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LA County coroner aims to revive gift shop sales

LOS ANGELES – The morgue is about the last place you would think of to go shopping, so it's perhaps unsurprising that sales at Los Angeles County's coroner gift store are next to dead.

Tucked as unobtrusively as possible in a closed-door room off the coroner's lobby, the store is jam-packed with mortality-mocking merchandise: Water bottles marked "bodily fluids," boxer shorts dubbed "undertakers," toe tags, crime-scene tape and beach towels bearing the county coroner's trademarked symbol of a body outline.

Trouble is, few people know about the tongue-in-cheek store and its related website, "Skeletons in a Closet." The shop's biggest customers? No shock here — homicide detectives.

"Most people know it through word-of-mouth," said Craig Harvey, the department's chief of operations. "But we are mentioned in guidebooks and we get tourists."

County auditors, however, say given the unique nature of the trinkets — the department is believed to be the nation's only coroner with a trademarked merchandise line — the 17-year-old business could be a robust moneymaker if infused with marketing lifeblood.

They recommend the coroner hire an outside firm with an eye to marketing the merchandise in high-traffic tourist areas, such as Hollywood Boulevard and Los Angeles International Airport.

Harvey is first to admit the merchandise has potential. It just hasn't been a priority for a department that prides itself as one of the top forensic science units in the country, as well as the busiest.

"There is a mystique about the LA County coroner, something people identify with. People want to know what we do and how we do it," Harvey said. "We can do government services very well, but business is another thing."

A management audit released earlier this year found the store's losses totaled $270,000 from 2003 to 2008, and was in effect being subsidized through surplus funds from a drunken driving educational program.

Noting that retailing is not part of a coroner's mission, Harvey said the department is open to expanding the operation but is awaiting a forthcoming fiscal review from the county controller-auditor to develop a plan.

At one point, the department contracted a company to market the items in Japan, but the project was dead soon after arrival — with little consumer interest, Harvey said. The department hasn't sought new ventures since.

Still, the marketing opportunity is clearly there, given the department's unrivaled profile in a largely unheralded field.

Over the decades, some of the world's most captivating morbid mysteries have played out under the prying scalpels of Los Angeles pathologists.

There are the deaths of the famous such as Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean; killings that led to charges against the famous such as O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Phil Spector; and the victims whose killers became famous such as the Menendez brothers, Charles Manson, and the victim herself, the Black Dahlia.

Numerous TV shows have added to the cachet, including the long-running 1976-83 drama "Quincy M.E.," in which Jack Klugman played a curmudgeonly crime-solving coroner, and the more recent documentary-style "North Mission Road," named for the department's street location.

"There's a definite interest in this," said Scott Michaels, who owns Dearly Departed Tours, which offers tours of LA's celebrated death landmarks. "Every other store along Hollywood Boulevard has LAPD and LAFD T-shirts. The LA coroner would be a natural."

The store has always been somewhat of a barebones operation. It evolved from a few coffee mugs and T-shirts the department had printed up to use as giveaways at conferences. Then people started requesting them and the department opened a small shop in a supply closet in 1993.

A following developed for the items that poke fun at death — there's nothing gory or bloody — and it landed in tourist guidebooks as a stop for unique souvenirs.

Tour buses stop there and tourists do seek it out. However, the shop's success has been limited by its location on the eastside of downtown Los Angeles amid a grimy strip of auto-glass businesses. The shop lacks a sign outside the coroner's office, a red-brick, century-old former hospital.

It makes for a lot of lonely hours for store manager Edna Pereyda, who had no customers during a recent visit.

The department has deliberately downplayed the store, mindful that most people who seek out the coroner's department are bereaved relatives. "They're really not in the mood for this stuff," Harvey said.

After a 2002 audit noted the store lost $100,000 in 2000-01, the department tightened up operations considerably with better inventory and cash controls, and limits on officials' using merchandise as gifts. The audit noted that officials gave away $2,600 worth of stuff over a four-month period.

In 2008, losses narrowed to about $55,000 on the $175,000 per year operation.

Marketing experts said the merchandise would likely be popular, although it could perhaps reinforce foreigners' perception of American cities as breeding-grounds for violence.

"It is part of the makeup of people's view of large cities in America," said Bill Baker, author of "Destination Branding for Small Cities." "But if this is more of a humorous thing, it could be a 'I survived it' sort of mentality. It'll possibly sell well."

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