Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Processes leading to acute myeloid leukemia discovered

ScienceDaily (Jan. 30, 2012) ? Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have discovered a molecular pathway that may explain how a particularly deadly form of cancer develops. The discovery may lead to new cancer therapies that reprogram cells instead of killing them. The findings are published in a recent paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The UCSB research team described how a certain mutation in DNA disrupts cellular function in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The researchers were prompted to study this process by another research team's discovery that AML patients have a mutation in a certain enzyme, which was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The enzyme is a protein called DNMT3A, which leads to changes in how the DNA of AML patients is methylated, or "tagged." Norbert Reich, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB, was already studying that particular enzyme with his research group, so they began to study the disease process of AML at the cellular level.

Reich explained that tagging is a way of reading DNA at the cellular level. This falls within an area of study called epigenetics, a process that occurs "on top" of genetics. Each person has approximately 200 types of cells, all with the same DNA, and these must be controlled in different ways. "There is an enzyme -- a protein -- that tags DNA and controls which of the genes in your cells, your DNA, gets turned on and off," said Reich. "So you have 20,000 genes, and you have to control them differently in your brain than in your liver."

Reich explained that there is current interest in this broader field of epigenetics as a direction for the treatment of cancer. "There's definitely the idea that this may be a new way of developing therapeutics, because you don't have to kill the cancer cell," said Reich. "Almost every cancer therapy that's out there works on the principle that a cancer cell needs to be killed."

With epigenetics, instead of only having DNA sequence coding for certain genes, there is an epigenetic process, with another layer of information on top of the genetic process. In this case, that information is the tagging by the methyl groups.

"If you really think about it, this is part of the answer as to how your cells can be so different and yet they all have the same DNA," said Reich. "You have the same genome in every one of your cells, but you do not have the same epigenome, which is basically the methylation pattern, the tagging pattern. That is different in every type of your cells. And the way this relates back to cancer, with leukemia, in those patients, the tagging is messed up. The patterns are not correct. Our big contribution to that is we've explained how the mutations in the enzyme could lead to that disruption of the tagging pattern."

The UCSB group developed a test to demonstrate that the mutant enzymes in AML can only work on DNA for short distances. As a result, the precise methylation patterns of a healthy cell are disturbed, resulting in genes being turned on at the wrong place and time, which in turn can initiate the growth of cancerous cells.

The team found that the mutation AML patients have causes a certain complex of four proteins to be disrupted. "The surprise was that the disruption doesn't stop the enzyme from being active; it doesn't stop the enzyme from tagging the DNA," said Reich. "Instead, it stops the way it can do it. Instead of going to your DNA and tagging an entire region of chromosome, it goes there, does one thing, and leaves. That process, that change, is what we see in the AML patients. So we think we have a molecular explanation for this disease."

Reich said that the currently prescribed drug Vidaza works by affecting the same enzyme that is mutated in AML. There is interest in the pharmaceutical industry in developing other therapeutics to target the enzymes responsible for tagging the DNA. These epigenetic inhibitors would reprogram rather than kill the cell.

Traditional cancer therapies use radiation and chemotherapy to remove or kill cancer cells. "The problem with that is that cancer cells are often very subtly different from normal cells," said Reich. "So you have one of the most difficult therapeutic challenges known to man, which is to distinguish between two human cells -- one that's cancerous and one that's not. Instead of killing the cell, the notion is that if you could just reprogram the cell, then it goes back to being normal. You intercept the cancer development. This is still an aspiration; it hasn't been achieved really, but that's what attracts people to the field of epigenetic-based therapies, because of the prospect of not having to kill cells."

Celeste Holz-Schietinger and Douglas Matje, both graduate students working in the Reich lab, are the first and second authors of the paper.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. C. Holz-Schietinger, D. M. Matje, M. F. Harrison, N. O. Reich. Oligomerization of DNMT3A Controls the Mechanism of de Novo DNA Methylation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; 286 (48): 41479 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.284687

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120130094349.htm

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Popular Diabetes Drug Might Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk: Study (HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A new Swiss-American study indicates that long-term use of the popular diabetes medication metformin may lower the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, at least among women.

The researchers also found that the long-term use of another class of diabetes medications known as sulfonylureas was associated with a "substantial" bump in pancreatic risk and long-term insulin use was linked to a bump in pancreatic cancer risk in men.

"This result is somewhat unexpected," the team wrote in its paper, which is published in the Jan. 31 online issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer in the United States, with an overall survival rate of less than 5 percent, even though it is fairly rare, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The researchers noted that previous research has suggested that metformin may lower the risk for other cancers, breast and ovarian cancer in particular.

To explore metformin's protective potential against pancreatic cancer, the team sifted through drug prescription, diagnostic, hospitalization and fatality information that had been collected by the British "General Practice Research Database." The data also included significant demographic information, such as smoking, alcohol use and body mass index.

The team honed in on statistics regarding nearly 2,800 patients (all under the age of 90) who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer for the first time between 1995 and 2009. Data concerning almost 16,600 patients who did not have pancreatic cancer was used as a comparison.

The result: Short-term use of metformin or sulfonylureas and/or insulin had no appreciable impact on pancreatic cancer risk.

However, long-term use of each of these medications did appear to have a sizeable impact on pancreatic cancer risk among diabetics. While female patients saw their risk go down with metformin treatment and up with sulfonylureas, male patients saw their risk go up with insulin.

Dr. Michael Choti, a professor of surgery and oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, stressed the "importance of trying to identify causes for a devastating disease that is often diagnosed late."

"Over the years, many groups have tried to look at a variety of risk factors, dietary and other things, and there have been some reports over the years," he noted. "But nothing has really panned out well. So this is indeed an interesting study."

"But it's also important to say," Choti added, "that while these could be associations, we cannot really say that what we have here is a cause-and-effect. Pancreatic cancer is a multi-factorial disease. So, while it makes sense conceptually that these drugs could have an impact on the pancreas, which is a metabolic organ, it's still too early to be sure what's happening. And it's too early to recommend metformin as a preventive therapy for pancreatic cancer."

"So this is interesting and important," he said. "But it's not definitive."

More information

For more on pancreatic cancer, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/health/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20120131/hl_hsn/populardiabetesdrugmightcutpancreaticcancerriskstudy

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House Republicans want $260 billion for infrastructure (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? House Republicans will propose legislation on Tuesday calling for $260 billion in spending on transportation infrastructure for up to five years, an election-year proposal touted as a job creator in a tough economy.

Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica was due to formally introduce the measure and unveil details for funding road, bridge, and rail improvements at a news conference, his office said.

Additional elements could be tacked on by other committees in coming days, including a plan to authorize the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline despite the refusal of President Barack Obama to advance the project.

While both Republicans and Democrats agree that Congress must lay out a new long-term blueprint for infrastructure improvements, finding the political common ground to do so in legislation has been difficult in a charged partisan climate and with elections looming in November.

Proponents say the highway bill would create tens of thousands of jobs in the hard-hit construction industry at time when unemployment is stubbornly high.

Transportation and engineering experts have said that the United States is woefully behind on infrastructure spending, especially on bridge repair.

States, which rely on federal reimbursements, have been clamoring for direction from Washington on how to plan and pay for big-ticket projects.

To meet their needs, states and local governments have relied on a string of temporary spending measures from Congress since the last long-term federal funding plan expired in September 2009.

The current temporary spending extension expires on March 31.

Mica's proposal is far less ambitious than infrastructure measures floated by Obama that went no where in Congress.

In his State of the Union address last week, Obama proposed that a portion of money saved from war spending be used for infrastructure development. Democrats unsuccessfully pushed a similar idea last fall as part of deficit reduction.

Mica's plan is likely to be adopted on a party line vote in the Republican-led House. A smaller, two-year bipartisan effort is making its way through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

To pay for Mica's proposal, the government would continue to tap a trust account funded by gasoline tax receipts. The Highway Trust Fund has shrunk in recent years due to more fuel efficient cars and trucks on the road and less driving overall by motorists in a rough economy.

A Congressional Budget Office report on Tuesday is expected to detail new erosion of the account, congressional officials said.

There are no plans by Republicans or Democrats to increase gas taxes to fortify the trust fund and House committees other than Mica's are expected to address the shortfall.

Republican leaders said in November they would propose lifting a U.S. ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling and use related royalties to at least help finance any shortfall in infrastructure spending.

The Obama administration has proposed a modest expansion of offshore drilling. But lifting the drilling ban stands virtually no chance of passage in the Senate.

Mica's plan is also expected to cut government "red tape" in the project approval process and encourage private-sector participation in financing and building infrastructure. The plan also seeks to allow heavier trucks on U.S. highways.

So far, the U.S. government has opened few doors to private investors who mainly seek new tolling or other revenue-raising opportunities to generate a return.

(Reporting By John Crawley; Editing by Eric Beech)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/uscongress/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120131/ts_nm/us_usa_congress_infrastructure

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Lifelong payoff for attentive kindergarten kids

ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2012) ? Attentiveness in kindergarten accurately predicts the development of "work-oriented" skills in school children, according to a new study published by Dr. Linda Pagani, a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine. Elementary school teachers made observations of attention skills in over a thousand kindergarten children. Then, from grades 1 to 6, homeroom teachers rated how well the children worked both autonomously and with fellow classmates, their levels of self-control and self-confidence, and their ability to follow directions and rules.

"For children, the classroom is the workplace, and this is why productive, task-oriented behaviour in that context later translates to the labour market," Pagani said. "Children who are more likely to work autonomously and harmoniously with fellow classmates, with good self-control and confidence, and who follow directions and rules are more likely to continue such productive behaviors into the adult workplace. In child psychology, we call this the developmental evolution of work-oriented skills, from childhood to adulthood."

All the children attended kindergarten in the poorest neighborhoods of Montreal, and their teachers used a carefully constructed observational scale to score them on their attentiveness skills. Over time, the researchers identified the evolution of three groups of children: those with high, medium, and low classroom engagement. All analyses were reviewed to take into account various explanations for the link that was observed between kindergarten attention and classroom engagement.

"Teachers spend many hours per day in school-related activities and can therefore reliably report on them," Pagani explained. The researchers found that boys, aggressive children, and children with lower cognitive skills in kindergarten were much more likely to belong to the low trajectory.

"There are important life risks associated with attention deficits in childhood, which include high-school dropout, unemployment, and problematic substance abuse. Pagani said. "Our findings make a compelling case for early identification and treatment of attention problems, as early remediation represents the least costly form of intervention. Universal approaches to bolstering attention skills in kindergarten might translate into stable and productive pathways toward learning." The researchers noted that the next step would be to undertake further study into how specifically the classroom environment influences children's attention spans.

The study was published online by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, (the official publication of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology), on January 13, 2011, and received funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Fonds de recherche sur la soci?t? et la culture. Dr. Linda Pagani is affiliated with the University of Montreal's School of Psycho-Education and the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine Research Centre. The University of Montreal is officially known as Universit? de Montr?al.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Pagani LS, Fitzpatrick C, Parent S. Relating Kindergarten Attention to Subsequent Developmental Pathways of Classroom Engagement in Elementary School. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 2012

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120129232827.htm

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants (Powerlineblog)

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Firing of TV host a victory for Pakistani liberals (AP)

ISLAMABAD ? In a rare victory for Pakistani liberals, a private TV station decided to fire a popular morning show host after she sparked outrage by running around a public park trying to expose young, unmarried couples hanging out, a taboo in this conservative Muslim country.

Pakistani liberals derided host Maya Khan's behavior on Twitter and Facebook, comparing it to the kind of moral policing practiced by the Taliban, and started an online petition asking Samaa TV to end this "irresponsible programming" and apologize.

The company responded Saturday in a letter sent to reporters saying it had decided to fire Khan and her team and cancel her show because she refused to issue an unconditional apology for the Jan. 17 program.

Samaa TV's decision marked an unusual victory for Pakistan's beleaguered liberal minority, which has become more marginalized as the country has shifted to the right and whose members have been killed by Islamist extremists for standing up for what they believe.

Critics of the program also praised the company's decision as a positive example of self-regulation by Pakistan's freewheeling TV industry, which was liberalized in 2000 and has mushroomed from one state-run channel to more than 80 independent ones.

Some shows have been praised for serving the public good by holding powerful officials to account, but many others have been criticized for doing anything that will get ratings, including pandering to populist sentiments at the expense of privacy and sometimes truth.

"Samaa management has set a good example that some others need to follow," said prominent human rights activist and journalist Hussain Naqi.

During the program in question, Khan and around a dozen other men and women chased down young couples in a seaside park in the southern city of Karachi. Several couples raced away from the group. One young man put on a motorcycle helmet to hide his identity, while his female friend covered her face with a veil.

Khan finally accosted one couple sitting on a bench and pestered them with questions about whether they were married and whether their parents knew they were there. The man said the couple was engaged and asked Khan to shut off her cameras and microphone. She lied and said they were off.

"What is the difference between this kind of media vigilantism and that demonstrated by the Taliban?" said Mahnaz Rahman, a director at the Aurat Foundation, an organization that fights for women's rights in Pakistan.

Islamist extremists have been ruthless in targeting liberal Pakistanis who disagree with their hardline views. One of the most prominent examples was in last January, when a bodyguard shot to death the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, because of his criticism of Pakistani laws that mandate the death penalty for criticizing the Prophet Muhammad.

Following Khan's program, one headline in a local paper called the host and the other women who appeared on the show "Vigil-aunties," referring to the South Asian term "aunty" for a bossy older woman.

A petition posted online that criticized Khan's behavior as "highly intrusive, invasive and potentially irresponsible" and demanded an official apology attracted more than 5,000 signatures.

Khan reportedly rejected the criticism at first but eventually issued on apology on TV to anyone she may have offended, saying "it was not my objective to make you cry or hurt you."

This fell short of the apology that Khan's bosses demanded, according to a letter written by the chairman of Samaa TV, Zafar Siddiqi. It said Khan and her team would receive termination notices on Jan. 30 and her show would be canceled.

Siddiqi said the company did not "absolve such behavior irrespective of ratings the show was getting."

Scores of Pakistanis on Twitter praised Samaa TV's decision.

"Journalists must never forget the dividing line between public interest & private freedom," tweeted Najam Sethi, a prominent Pakistani journalist.


Khan reported from Karachi. Associated Press writer Zarar Khan contributed to this article.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/asia/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120129/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_liberal_victory

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Indy battens down hatches for Super Bowl security (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS ? From pickpockets and prostitutes to dirty bombs and exploding manhole covers, authorities are bracing for whatever threat the first Super Bowl in downtown Indianapolis might bring.

Some ? nuclear terrorism, for instance ? are likely to remain just hypothetical. But others, like thieves and wayward manhole covers, are all too real.

Though Indianapolis has ample experience hosting large sporting events ? the Indianapolis 500 attracts more than 200,000 fans each year, and the NCAA's men's Final Four basketball tournament has been held here six times since 1980_ the city's first Super Bowl poses some unique challenges.

Unlike the Final Four, which is compressed into a weekend, the Super Bowl offers crowd, travel and other logistical challenges over 10 days leading up to the Feb. 5 game. And unlike the 500, where events are largely concentrated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway about seven miles from Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL's showcase event will consume 44 blocks ? about a mile square ? in the heart of the city, closing off streets and forcing an anticipated 150,000 or more NFL fans to jockey with downtown workers for space much of the week.

"This is clearly bigger in terms of the amount of people who will be downtown over an extended period of time," city Public Safety Director Frank Straub said.

Under a security risk rating system used by the federal government, the Super Bowl ranks just below national security events involving the president and the Secret Service, said Indianapolis Chief of Homeland Security Gary Coons. The ratings are based on factors including international attention, media coverage, the number of people the event attracts and visits by celebrities and foreign dignitaries, he said. The Indianapolis 500 ranks two levels below the Super Bowl.

The city has invested millions of dollars and worked with local, state and federal agencies to try to keep all those people safe. Up to 1,000 city police officers will be in the stadium and on the street, carrying smartphones and other electronic hand-held devices that will enable them to feed photos and video to a new state-of-the-art operations center on the city's east side or to cruisers driven by officers providing backup, Straub said. Hundreds of officers from other agencies, including the state police and the FBI, will be scanning the crowd for signs of pickpocketing, prostitution or other trouble.

One concern has been a series of explosions in Indianapolis Power & Light's underground network of utility cables. A dozen underground explosions have occurred since 2005, sending manhole covers flying.

Eight explosions have occurred since 2010. The latest, on Nov. 19, turned a manhole cover into a projectile that heavily damaged a parked car and raised concerns about the safety of Super Bowl visitors walking on streets and soaring above the Super Bowl village on four zip lines installed for the festivities.

Since December, IPL has spent about $180,000 to install 150 new locking manhole covers, primarily in the Super Bowl village and other areas expected to see high pre-game traffic.

IPL officials say the new Swiveloc manhole covers can be locked for security reasons during the Super Bowl. In case of an explosion, the covers lift a couple of inches off the ground ? enough to vent gas out without feeding in oxygen to make an explosion bigger ? before falling back into place.

An Atlanta consultant hired by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last summer to audit IPL's underground network of cables for a cause of the explosions says the new covers are merely a Band-Aid.

"We've argued it's better to prevent," said Dan O'Neill of O'Neill Management Consulting, which filed its report in December.

O'Neill's team couldn't pinpoint an exact cause for the explosions but said a flawed inspection process contributed, noting that IPL workers missed warning signs such as road salt corroding an old cable or leaks in nearby steam pipes. In a report filed Jan. 19 with Indiana utility regulators, the power company said it had overhauled its inspection process.

IPL will dispatch extra crews to the area around the stadium in case of power-related problems, such as a recent breaker fire that left 10,000 customers in homes south of downtown without power. Spokeswoman Crystal Livers-Powers said the company doesn't anticipate any power issues.

Straub, the public safety director, said he's confident the city is prepared and notes that Indianapolis hosts major events "pretty regularly."

Special teams from the Department of Energy will sweep Lucas Oil Stadium and the surrounding area for nuclear terror threats, and a new $18 million high-tech communications center that opened in time for the lead-up to the game will tie it all together.

"We're using more technology, and state of the art technology, than has been used in any Super Bowl before this one," Straub said.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/sports/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120130/ap_on_sp_fo_ne/fbn_super_bowl_security

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Russia backs Assad, last friend in Arab world (AP)

MOSCOW ? Russia's defiance of international efforts to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown on protests is rooted in a calculation that it can keep a Mideast presence by propping up its last remaining ally in the region ? and has nothing to lose if it fails.

The Kremlin has put itself in conflict with the West as it shields Assad's regime from United Nations sanctions and continues to provide it with weapons even as others impose arms embargoes.

But Moscow's relations with Washington are already strained amid controversy over U.S. missile defense plans and other disputes. And Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seems eager to defy the U.S. as he campaigns to reclaim the presidency in March elections.

"It would make no sense for Russia to drop its support for Assad," said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the independent Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. "He is Russia's last remaining ally in the Middle East, allowing it to preserve some influence in the region."

Moscow may also hope that Assad can hang on to power with its help and repay Moscow with more weapons contracts and other lucrative deals.

And observers note that even as it has nothing to lose from backing Assad, it has nothing to gain from switching course and supporting the opposition.

"Russia has crossed the Rubicon," said Igor Korotchenko, head of the Center for Analysis of Global Weapons Trade.

He said Russia will always be marked as the patron of the Assad regime regardless of the conflict's outcome, so there's little incentive to build bridges with the protesters. The U.N. estimates that more than 5,400 people have been killed since the uprising began in March.

"Russia will be seen as the dictator's ally. If Assad's regime is driven from power, it will mean an end to Russia's presence," said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs.

Syria has been Moscow's top ally in the Middle East since Soviet times, when it was led by the incumbent's father, Hafez Assad. The Kremlin saw it as a bulwark for countering U.S. influence in the region and heavily armed Syria against Israel.

While Russia's relations with Israel have improved greatly since the Soviet collapse, ties with Damascus helped Russia retain its clout as a member of the Quartet of international mediators trying to negotiate peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

After Bashar Assad succeeded his father in 2000, Russia sought to boost ties by agreeing to annul 73 percent of Syria's Soviet-era debt. In the mid-2000s, Putin said Russia would re-establish its place in the Mideast via "the Syria route."

Syria's port of Tartus is now the only naval base Russia has outside the former Soviet Union. A Russian navy squadron made a call there this month in what was seen by many as a show of support for Assad.

For decades, Syria has been a major customer for the Russian arms industries, buying billions of dollars' worth of combat jets, missiles, tanks and other heavy weapons. And unlike some other nations, such as Venezuela, which obtained Russian weapons on Kremlin loans, Assad's regime paid cash.

The respected newspaper Kommersant reported this week that Syria has ordered 36 Yak-130 combat jets worth $550 million. The deal, which officials wouldn't confirm or deny, may signal preparations for even bigger purchases of combat planes.

Korotchenko said Syria needs the jets to train its pilots to fly the advanced MiG-29M or MiG-35 fighter jets it wants to purchase: "It's a precursor of future deals."

Korotchenko said Syria's importance as a leading importer of Russian weapons in the region grew after the loss of the lucrative Iraqi and Libyan markets.

Russia, whose abstention in a U.N. vote cleared the way for military intervention in Libya, later voiced frustration with what it described as a disproportional use of force by NATO.

The Kremlin has vowed not to allow a replay of the Libyan strategy in Syria, warning that it would block any U.N. resolution on Syria lacking a clear ban on any foreign military interference.

Moscow accuses the West of turning a blind eye to shipments of weapons to the Syrian opposition and warns it won't be bound by Western sanctions.

Earlier this month, a Syria-bound Russian ship allegedly carrying tons of munitions was stopped by officials in Cyprus, an EU member, who said it was violating an EU arms embargo. The ship's captain promised to head to Turkey but then made a dash to Syria.

Asked about the ship, Russia's foreign minister bluntly responded that Moscow owes neither explanation nor apology to anyone because it has broken no international rules.

Nonetheless, Moscow has shown restraint in its arms trade with Damascus, avoiding the sales of weapons that could significantly tilt the military balance in the region.

In one example, the Kremlin has turned down Damascus' requests for truck-mounted Iskander missiles that can hit ground targets 280 kilometers (175 miles) away with deadly precision. While the sale of such missiles wouldn't be banned under any international agreements, Moscow has apparently heeded strong U.S. and Israeli objections to such a deal.

Moscow also has stonewalled Damascus' request for the advanced S-300 air defense missile system, only agreeing to sell short-range ground-to-air missiles.

"Russia has taken a very careful and cautious stance on contracts with Syria," Korotchenko said.

The most powerful Russian weapon reportedly delivered to Syria is the Bastion anti-ship missile complex intended to protect its coast. The Bastion is armed with supersonic Yakhont cruise missiles that can sink any warship at a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles) and are extremely difficult to intercept, providing a strong deterrent against any attack from the sea.

Observers in Moscow said that Russia can do little else to help Assad. The chief of the Russian upper house's foreign affairs committee, Mikhail Margelov, openly acknowledged that this week, saying that Russia has "exhausted its arsenal" of means to support Syria by protecting it from the U.N. sanctions.

Lukyanov said Russia has made it clear it would block any attempts to give U.N. cover to any foreign military intervention in Syria, but wouldn't be able to prevent Syria's neighbors from mounting such action.

"Russia realizes that it has limited opportunities and can't play a decisive role," he said.

Pukhov also predicted that Russia wouldn't take any stronger moves in support for Damascus.

"Going further would mean an open confrontation with the West, and Russia doesn't need that," he said.


Elizabeth A. Kennedy contributed from Beirut.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/topstories/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120129/ap_on_re_eu/eu_russia_syrian_game

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

[OOC] Vampire Prosecutor: NPC

Forum rules
This forum is for OOC discussion about existing roleplays.

Please post all "Players Wanted" threads in the Roleplayers Wanted forum!

This topic is an Out Of Character part of the roleplay, ?the Vampire Prosecutor?. Anything posted here will also show up there.

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Forum for completely Out of Character (OOC) discussion, based around whatever is happening In Character (IC). Discuss plans, storylines, and events; Recruit for your roleplaying game, or find a GM for your playergroup.

Name Abel
Gender male
Age appears to be in early thirties
Ethnicity English
Race Vampire
Significance He is a prosecutor, one who is actually responsible for the formation of the special investigation team. His identity as a vampire is secret to those around him and he survives because of a friend in the medical field who gives him blood-bags from people who donated blood. He formed the special team in order to catch Xia, a young vampire moved to New York City five years ago in hopes of finding a life-long companion.
History Much of his past before he was turned is a blur and as time has continued on, he has forgotten exactly how old he really is. He is constantly on the move, changing jobs and identities in order to locate those of his kind and keep them from exposing the truth about vampires. He truthfully believes that Xia is the woman who turned him into a vampire, but he cannot be sure.
Personality Abel is a guy who few try to grow close with. He is very mysterious, showing only a blank face and a smile that says he knows more than he tells. Rarely wasting a moment to joke, his seriousness is a plague that people try to avoid. In truth, he is very lonely, though his only true friend is his doctor friend who provides him with blood, and even he doesn?t understand him fully.
Other Like the vampire prosecutor, he is also strongly drawn to the female prosecutor?s blood.
Name Xia
Gender female
Age appears to be in mid twenties
Ethnicity Asian American
Race Vampire
Significance She is the one responsible for the ?vampire attacks? five years ago. Lately she has been laying low, however, only making kills every now and then to gain the attention of the vampire prosecutor, who she has fallen in love with. Every now and then she will visit him out of the blue or will call his phone and present him with information that helps him with his cases. Her attacks have been in precise locations. If you were to dot them out on a map and then connect the dots, they would be forming an arrow. This arrow is pointing to the part of the city where she is residing and where she awaits the arrival of the vampire prosecutor.
History For many years, Xia has been moving from place to place. Seven years ago while in Los Vegas, she ran into Abel who was visiting relatives. Impressed with his abilities, she turned him into a vampire. However, his response to the change angered her for he wasn?t overjoyed, but horrified. In her anger, she lost track of him. It was two years later when she found him in New York City. In order to gain his attention, she went on a mass killing spree. During the five years up until today, she has been diligently searching for a life-long companion; a mate. In the process she discovered the prosecutor. She turned him into a vampire, hiding her identity in order to force him to find her.
Personality You can sum up Xia in one word: self-centered. She is only out for herself, not thinking of how her actions can affect the lives around her. She lives for the moment and thrives for pleasure ? hence why she is searching for a mate. Because she is on her own, her frustration and anger often takes form of a vampire attack. She loves to play with people?s emotions and will do anything to get what she wants.
Other She is targeting the female prosecutor and the intern out of jealousy.
Name Neo Jelani
Gender male
Age 33
Ethnicity American
Race Human
Significance Neo is the guy that provides the vampire prosecutor the blood he needs. He is the owner of a club named Club Blood ? this is where he stores the blood. Generally he also provides insight and advice while the two sit to drink. Though he isn?t the only one who knows of the prosecutor?s vampire situation, he is constantly looking out for the guy and will try in every which way to help if needed.
History After working for several years as a doctor, Neo retired from his job. He and a friend had a serious argument over disappearing blood bags from the donation branch and in the end, he decided he was done. Wealthy from his years of working, he opened the club. (will add part of meeting the prosecutor later)
Personality Straight forward and honest, Neo is a friendly character. There aren?t many people who dislike him and vice versa. He is generally viewed as a fatherly figure and does his best to help those in need. However, this fatherly figure disappears when someone he treasures is threatened. He suppresses a dark side, one he developed after working as a depressed doctor for many years.
Other His wife died in a massive car accident two years ago.
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UK police arrest Murdoch tabloid staff (Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) ? Police arrested four current and former staff of Rupert Murdoch's best-selling Sun tabloid and a policeman on Saturday in a probe into suspected payments by journalists to officers for information, police and the newspaper's publisher said.

Police also searched the London offices of Sun publisher News International, News Corp's British arm, in a corruption probe linked to a continuing investigation into phone hacking at its now closed News of the World weekly tabloid.

News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, set up in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, said Saturday's operation was the result of information it had passed to police.

"News Corporation made a commitment last summer that unacceptable news gathering practices by individuals in the past would not be repeated," the committee said in a statement confirming the arrests of four "current and former employees" of the Sun.

Three of the employees, all arrested at their homes, were a 48-year-old man from north London and two men from Essex, east of the capital, aged 48 and 56, police said.

The fourth man, aged 42, was arrested after reporting to an east London police station.

The fifth arrest was a 29-year-old police officer serving with the Met Police's Territorial Policing Command, who was arrested at the central London police station where he worked.

All five were being questioned on suspicion of corruption.

A Sun reporter, who asked not to be named, said: "Everyone is a bit shocked, there is disbelief really. But there is a big difference between phone hacking and payments to the police."

The arrests included the Sun's crime editor Mike Sullivan, its head of news Chris Pharo, and former deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Also arrested was the paper's former managing editor Graham Dudman, now a columnist and media writer, the source said.

Searches at News International's offices in Wapping, east London, and at the arrested men's homes, were expected to continue until the afternoon, police said.

The operation takes to 13 the number of arrests in a probe into allegations journalists paid police in return for information, known as Operation Elveden, one of three criminal investigations into the news-gathering practices of the News of the World.

Last week, News International settled a string of legal claims after it admitted that people working for the tabloid had hacked in to the private phones of celebrities and others to generate stories.

The phone hacking scandal drew attention to the level of political influence held by editors and executives at News International, and other newspapers in Britain.

It embarrassed British politicians for their close ties with newspaper executives and also the police, who repeatedly failed to investigate allegations of illegal phone hacking.

(Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Michael Holden; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120128/wl_nm/us_newscorp_arrests

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Prejudices? Quite normal!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Girls are not as good at playing football as boys, and they do not have a clue about cars. Instead they know better how to dance and do not get into mischief as often as boys. Prejudices like these are cultivated from early childhood onwards by everyone. "Approximately at the age of three to four years children start to prefer children of the same sex, and later the same ethnic group or nationality," Prof. Dr. Andreas Beelmann of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) states. This is part of an entirely normal personality development, the director of the Institute for Psychology explains. "It only gets problematic when the more positive evaluation of the own social group, which is adopted automatically in the course of identity formation, at some point reverts into bias and discrimination against others," Beelmann continues.

To prevent this, the Jena psychologist and his team have been working on a prevention programme for children. It is designed to reduce prejudice and to encourage tolerance for others. But when is the right time to start? Jena psychologists Dr. Tobias Raabe and Prof. Dr. Andreas Beelmann systematically summarise scientific studies on that topic and published the results of their research in the science journal Child Development (DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01668.x.).

According to this, the development of prejudice increases steadily at pre-school age and reaches its highest level between five and seven years of age. With increasing age this development is reversed and the prejudices decline. "This reflects normal cognitive development of children," Prof. Beelmann explains. "At first they adopt the social categories from their social environment, mainly the parents. Then they start to build up their own social identity according to social groups, before they finally learn to differentiate and individual evaluations of others will prevail over stereotypes." Therefore the psychologists reckon this age is the ideal time to start well-designed prevention programmes against prejudice. "Prevention starting at that age supports the normal course of development," Beelmann says. As the new study and the experience of the Jena psychologists with their prevention programme so far show, the prejudices are strongly diminished at primary school age, when children get in touch with members of so-called social out groups like, for instance children of a different nationality or skin colour. "This also works when they don't even get in touch with real people but learn it instead via books or told stories."

But at the same time the primary school age is a critical time for prejudices to consolidate. "If there is no or only a few contact to members of social out groups, there is no personal experience to be made and generalising negative evaluations stick longer." In this, scientists see an explanation for the particularly strong xenophobia in regions with a very low percentage of foreigners or migrants.

Moreover the Jena psychologists noticed that social ideas and prejudices are formed differently in children of social minorities. They do not have a negative attitude towards the majority to start with, more often it is even a positive one. The reason is the higher social status of the majority, which is being regarded as a role model. Only later, after having experienced discrimination, they develop prejudices, that then sticks with them much more persistently than with other children. "In this case prevention has to start earlier so it doesn't even get that far," Beelmann is convinced.

Generally, the psychologist of the Jena University stresses, the results of the new study don't imply that the children's and youths attitudes towards different social groups can't be changed at a later age. But this would then less depend on the individual development and very much more on the social environment like for instance changing social norms in our society. Tolerance on the other hand could be encouraged at any age. The psychologists' "prescription": As many diverse contacts to individuals belonging to different social groups as possible. "People who can identify with many groups will be less inclined to make sweeping generalisations in the evaluation of individuals belonging to different social groups or even to discriminate against them," Prof. Beelmann says.


Raabe T, Beelmann A.: Development of ethnic, racial, and national prejudice in childhood and adolescence: A multinational meta-analysis of age differences. Child Development. 2011; 82(6):1715-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01668.x.

Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena: http://www.uni-jena.de

Thanks to Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena for this article.

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

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Source: http://www.labspaces.net/117152/Prejudices__Quite_normal_

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Magnus iPad Stand Marries Minimalism With Magnets

It’s hard to see why anyone would spend $50 on this small sliver of aluminum, but design-wise, it has to be one of the best-looking iPad stands around. It comes from Ten One design, purveyor of minimal iAccessories to the rich and tasteful, and it’s called the Magnus. The Magnus is carved from aluminum, stuffed [...]

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

NY Times Reporter Sounds off on Legal Education, Accreditation ...

Law Schools

New York Times reporter David Segal, whose recent series of stories on legal education has touched off a furor in the legal community, says law schools have taken the quest for higher rankings and greater prestige to "an incredibly destructive" place.

Segal says the "madness" created by U.S. News and World Report's annual law school rankings have led many schools to employ all kinds of different "shenanigans" to make themselves more appealing to prospective students and to cover up just how bad the job market for law school graduates is.

Segal's remarks came in an interview with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia that was posted on YouTube on Thursday. The conversation touched on several subjects, including the high costs of a legal education, the ABA's role as a law school accreditor and the competition for prestige that has shaped many law schools' actions.

Segal, whose normal beat at the paper is consumer finance, says he got into the business of legal education quite by accident. He met a recent law school graduate at a cocktail party who told him that while he had been lucky enough to land a job, none of his friends had.

"That just seemed like an interesting fact to me, and I just dove in from there and then just found out how just crazy the whole law school market is," he says.

Segal says the U.S. News rankings do some good, but have led almost all law schools to fudge a lot of their figures and set "really sad" priorities. He said U.S. News bears some of the blame for building such perversities into its rankings.

"But it doesn't help that law schools are just completely obedient to the set of standards and jump through any hurdle that is erected by U.S. News" to improve their ranking, he says.

Segal also says the ABA has a "terrible conflict of interest" stemming from its dual role as an accreditor of law schools and as the voice of the profession, though he doesn't mention that the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the ABA's accrediting arm, is completely independent of the association. He said that despite some reforms that have brought more nonlawyers into the process, the accrediting function is still essentially dominated by lawyers, whose primary interest is in enhancing the prestige and salaries of the legal profession.

"That is just a recipe for a bunch of self-interested decisions," he said.

Source: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/ny_times_reporter_sounds_off_on_legal_education_accredition_and_the_crazy/

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Nintendo chief promises to do Wii U launch right

Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Nintendo, a Japanese video game machine maker, sank to losses for the April-December period, battered by a price cut for its 3DS handheld, a strong yen that erodes overseas earnings and competition from mobile devices such as the iPhone that offer games-on-the-go. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Nintendo, a Japanese video game machine maker, sank to losses for the April-December period, battered by a price cut for its 3DS handheld, a strong yen that erodes overseas earnings and competition from mobile devices such as the iPhone that offer games-on-the-go. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata bows at the start of a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Nintendo, a Japanese video game machine maker, sank to losses for the April-December period, battered by a price cut for its 3DS handheld, a strong yen that erodes overseas earnings and competition from mobile devices such as the iPhone that offer games-on-the-go. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata bows at the start of a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Nintendo, a Japanese video game machine maker, sank to losses for the April-December period, battered by a price cut for its 3DS handheld, a strong yen that erodes overseas earnings and competition from mobile devices such as the iPhone that offer games-on-the-go. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO (AP) ? Nintendo's chief is determined to get right the launch of its next game machine, Wii U, set for this year's holiday shopping season, and acknowledged Friday some mistakes with selling its 3DS handheld.

But Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata warned earnings for the fiscal year set to begin April will be the toughest ever for the Japanese manufacturer behind the Super Mario and Pokemon games.

Nintendo went against conventional wisdom with the original Wii in 2006. The quirky, cheap game console relied not on high-end graphics and complex buttons to lure in hardcore players, but on simple motion controls to lure in everyone.

Although the company successfully courted casual gamers with the Wii, it is now facing increased competition from Apple Inc.'s iPhone and other devices that offer simple games. It had hoped to win new gamers through a 3-D handheld device. But sales were slow, and Nintendo slashed prices on the 3DS within six months.

Iwata's remarks come a day after it lowered its annual earnings forecast to a 65 billion yen ($844 million) loss, much larger than the 20 billion yen ($260 million) loss projected earlier. It posted a 77.62 billion yen profit the previous fiscal year.

Iwata blamed the strong yen, which erases overseas earnings, as well as the arrival of smartphones and other devices that offer gaming.

The higher yen slashed nearly 54 billion yen ($701 million) from the company's operating profit for the April-December period.

"I can see how the red ink may be perceived as abnormal," Iwata told analysts and reporters at a Tokyo hotel. "The environment has changed."

The failure of the 3DS handheld to take off with enough momentum during the last quarter of 2011 was one of the main reasons for the dismal results, according to Iwata.

The 3DS has gradually started to sell better, but it took a price cut in August. It still lacks a strong lineup of attractive software games, a key factor for a machine to succeed in a big way.

Iwata vowed the company will be better prepared when it introduces the Wii U home console during the 2012 year-end shopping season for a strong comeback.

He declined to give details such as pricing or what the software games available at that time might be.

But he said the Wii U will come with a strong game lineup at the launch as well as secure and safe Internet services that will offer players individual accounts.

The Wii U will come with new ways of playing that will almost make the term "home console" obsolete, Iwata said. It will also offer mobile gaming. The machine has a touch-panel controller.

Nintendo has long competed against rival game makers, such as Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. These days, all face the threat from hit devices like the iPad and iPhone from Apple Inc. that also offer games.

Iwata's comments also showed Nintendo is growing less cautious about the Internet, which in the past it had brushed off as mainly for hard-core gamers.

Kyoto-based Nintendo has built its reputation on making games fun to play for casual and newcomer players.

"We are going to put to use our bitter experience with the 3DS," said Iwata.


Follow Yuri Kageyama at http://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/495d344a0d10421e9baa8ee77029cfbd/Article_2012-01-27-Japan-Nintendo/id-87e9bafd2897485c8667c1e88f8a5ca1

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Economy likely ended 2011 with strong growth

A sold sign is seen in fron of a new home in Jefferson, Pa., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. The economy likely grew at annual rate of 3 percent in the October-December quarter, according to a survey by FactSet. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A sold sign is seen in fron of a new home in Jefferson, Pa., Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. The economy likely grew at annual rate of 3 percent in the October-December quarter, according to a survey by FactSet. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP) ? A weak year for the economy likely ended on a hopeful note.

The economy likely grew at annual rate of 3 percent in the October-December quarter, according to a survey by FactSet. The Commerce Department will release the actual figure Friday.

The gain would represent modest improvement from this summer, when the economy grew just 1.8 percent. However, even with the strong finish, economists believe the economy expanded just 1.7 percent for the whole year ? roughly half the growth in 2010.

And growth is expected to slow in the first three months of this year. A key reason is wages have failed to keep pace with inflation. That will likely force many consumers to pull back on spending after splurging over the holidays.

Consumer spending is important because it makes up 70 percent of economic activity.

Businesses are also expected to reduce spending in the first quarter after building up their stockpiles in the final months of 2011.

Richard DeKaiser, a senior economist at Parthenon Group, expects just 2 percent annual growth in the January-March quarter. But Kaiser says that should be the weakest quarter. He expects the economy to gain strength in each quarter and grow 2.6 percent for the entire year.

The year is off to a good start. Companies invested more in equipment and machinery in December. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent last month ? the lowest level in nearly three years ? after the sixth straight month of solid hiring.

People are buying more cars, and consumer confidence is rising. Even the depressed housing market has shown enough improvement to make some economists predict a turnaround has begun.

Still, many economists worry that a recession in Europe could dampen demand for U.S. manufactured goods, which would slow growth. And without more jobs and better pay, consumer spending is likely to stagnate.

The Federal Reserve signaled this week that a full recovery could take at least three more years. In response, it said it would probably not increase its benchmark interest rate until late 2014 at the earliest ? a year and a half later than it had previously said.

The central bank also slightly reduced its outlook for growth this year, from as much as 2.9 percent forecast in November down to 2.7 percent. The Fed sees unemployment falling as low as 8.2 percent this year.

DeKaiser said part of his optimism stems from a view that housing sales and prices will rise moderately this year. That should lift the battered construction industry, which ended last year with three months of gains in single-family home construction.(backslash)

At the moment, housing remains the weakest part of the economy. New-home sales fell last month, and total sales for 2011 were the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

"I think the clouds will gradually lift over housing. Rising home prices will make consumers feel wealthier and this will translate into stronger consumer spending," DeKaiser said.


Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2012-01-27-Economy/id-3b6f41d4e5544080aa35147280d9a4c7

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'Anderson' executive producer Jim Murphy steps down (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES, Jan 27 (TheWrap.com) ? Jim Murphy, co-executive producer of Anderson Cooper's syndicated daytime talk show "Anderson," has stepped down.

Murphy joined the show seven months before its September 2011 premiere, following stints on "Good Morning America," "CBS This Morning," "40 Hours" and "CBS Evening News."

Murphy's exit is the most recent in a string of departures for the talk show. In December, executive producers Cathy Chermol and Lisa Morin both stepped down -- according to the New York Post, Morin's departure was for personal reasons, while Chermol quit after a disagreement with Cooper over her handling of a special on the Penn State scandal. Terence Noonan, of "Dr. Oz," stepped in following their exits.

No reason was given for Murphy's departure.

Cooper characterized Murphy as "a good friend," praising his efforts in getting "Anderson" off the ground.

"I'm grateful for Jim's help and his hard work launching the show. He's a good friend and will always be a friend of our show," Cooper said. "We have a terrific team in place led by our executive producer, Terence Noonan, and I'm really excited about the momentum we've built and the future of the show."

"This has been an amazing experience being involved in the creation of this great new show and it has been exceptional to get to know and work with Anderson and the rest of the team," Murphy added. "I leave the show in great hands with Terence."

Despite the upheavals, "Anderson," which has been receiving lukewarm ratings since its launch, has shown signs of improvement. For the week ending January 15, the show grew by 25 percent and reached a series high with a 1.5 household rating.

(Editing By Zorianna Kit)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/tv/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20120128/tv_nm/us_andersoncooper

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Friday, January 27, 2012

South Korea allows group to deliver aid to NKorea (AP)

PAJU, South Korea ? South Korea allowed members of a private group to accompany aid to North Korea for the first time Friday since leader Kim Jong Il died last month.

Associated Press video from the border city of Paju showed a column of trucks transporting 180 tons of flour across the border.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said members of a private group were traveling with the aid, which is intended for children. Seoul allowed a shipment of aid earlier this month but no civilians accompanied it.

South Koreans are not allowed to visit the North without government permission.

The aid comes as North Korea unites around Kim Jong Un after his father died of a heart attack. North Korea has said since Kim Jong Il's death that it will not deal with South Korea's current government.

South Korea has cut off large-scale official food aid to North Korea since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008. Lee says North Korea should first take steps toward nuclear disarmament.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/nkorea/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120127/ap_on_re_as/as_koreas_aid

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Rep. Barney Frank to marry longtime partner (AP)

WASHINGTON ? Retiring Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress, said Thursday that he will marry his longtime partner, Jim Ready.

Frank spokesman Harry Gural said the liberal Massachusetts Democrat's wedding will be in his home state, but that no date had been set.

Ready, 42, lives in Ogunquit, Maine. He has a small business doing custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other general handyman services, Gural said. Ready is also a photographer. The two men have been together since spring 2007.

Frank was attending a retreat Thursday with other House Democrats on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

During an appearance on PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show" earlier this month, Frank said he was looking forward to leaving Congress and spending time with Ready.

"Look, I have a partner now, Jim Ready; I have an emotional attachment. I`m in love for the first time in my life," Frank said on the show.

Gay rights supporters saluted Frank's engagement but noted that because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, Ready would not enjoy the same rights as other spouses.

DOMA blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions and says states that don't have such marriages don't have to recognize marriages performed in states that do.

"It is, of course, somewhat ironic that because of DOMA and because Barney is a federal employee, Jim won't be eligible for any of the benefits that any other spouse would be able to get," said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Boston legal rights organization that brought the case that led to Massachusetts becoming the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.

"I think it's always positive when public figures are role models in these critical societal institutions," Swislow added.

Frank, 71, won his House seat in 1980 and was one of the first lawmakers to come out of the closet.

Ready has made some headlines in recent years with Frank.

He was charged in August 2007 with marijuana cultivation for allegedly growing more than five marijuana plants on his property, records from the York County, Maine, district attorney's office show. That charge was dismissed after Ready complied with a deferred disposition agreement and admitted to a charge of civil possession of marijuana.

Frank later told the Boston Globe that he was at Ready's house when Ready was arrested, but that he never saw the marijuana and has never smoked any. Frank has also said Ready has promised him never to repeat his mistake.

During Frank's 2010 re-election bid, Ready had a brisk exchange of words with Frank's Republican challenger Sean Bielat after the candidates debated. Ready was taking photos of Bielat.

A Boston Herald video showed Ready saying, "You better get used to it, dude," after Bielat asked him about the photos.

Ready then said, "It's a free country, isn't it?" and a chuckling Bielat replied, "It sure is, at least if we can get the Congress back."

Frank's campaign at the time said that Ready was an amateur photographer who took pictures at many campaign events and that no harm was intended.

Last November, Frank announced that he was retiring at the end of his current term, his 16th in Congress.

He said he was retiring because his Massachusetts district has changed so much he would have to spend too much time campaigning for re-election.

Frank has been in the House since 1981 and represents the state's 4th District, which stretches from the upscale Boston suburbs of Newton and Brookline to the working-class cities of New Bedford and Taunton in southeastern Massachusetts.


Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Boston and Clarke Canfield in Maine contributed to this report.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/uscongress/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120126/ap_on_el_ho/us_barney_frank_marriage

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