Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Beginning With 1/1/11

With the new year comes a fresh start - and this new year starts with a unique date.  In shorthand, January 1, 2011, is 1/1/11.  Our correspondent spoke to a numerologist about whether this once-in-a-century date holds any significance.
I couldn't help but think 1/1/11 seemed to be a novel way to start a new year - a sign of a fresh start.
So I spoke to numerologist Patricia Kirkman, the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide Numerology Workbook. "When we take a look at the number 'one' in itself, if you will, it's all about self, new beginnings, changes, the individual," she said.
But, Kirkman said, the number "one" - even this repetition of the number "one" - gives just a glimpse of the bigger picture.
"When we add that to what's going on around us, 2011, it's the 'two' first.  'Two' is about partnerships, emotional, the peacemaker, or hidden secrets," she said.
Numerology itself is about revealing what is hidden.  From ancient times to modern day, people have studied numbers, such as the figures in a year or a birthdate, to arrive at their supposed influence on people's lives.  Some cultures put great stock in it; others dismiss it entirely.  
Kirkman, who is based in the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona, has practiced numerology for 37 years.  She explained that, according to the numbers, 2011 will be about making things orderly because 2011 is a "four" universal year.  She arrived at that by adding the year's digits - 2 + 0 + 1 + 1, which equals four.
According to numerology, that "four" will affect everyone all year. "Now we're going into a period of putting things in order," said Kirkman. "Four is square.  Four is the box.  Four wants everything done right.  And so we are now going into a universal year that says, 'I don't care what you did last year. It doesn't matter anymore.  Now we've got to take a look at building a stronger foundation.'" 
So, before you make or break or skip that new year's resolution, January 1, 2011, marks a new beginning and a chance to make things right - at least according to tradition. . . and the numbers.

Anonymous hackers target Zimbabwe government over WikiLeaks

Cyber attacks follow Grace Mugabe's decision to sue newspaper for publishing allegations contained in US embassy cables.
Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, has become the latest victim of online attacks by supporters of WikiLeaks, it was claimed today.
Cyber activists said they had brought down government websites after Mugabe's wife sued a newspaper for publishing a WikiLeaks cable that linked her with the alleged trade in illicit diamonds .
The Zimbabwean government website was unavailable today, while the finance ministry website displayed a message saying it was under maintenance.
Anonymous, a loose-knit group that has vowed to paralyse sites that act against WikiLeaks, said on its website: "We are targeting Mugabe and his regime in the Zanu-PF who have outlawed the free press and threaten to sue anyone publishing WikiLeaks."
Grace Mugabe has launched a defamation suit against Zimbabwe's Standard newspaper for $15m (£9.5m) for publishing details released by WikiLeaks suggesting that she had gained "tremendous profits" from the trade in illicit diamonds.
The offending article quotes from a US embassy cable that alleged she was among a group of elite Zimbabweans making "several hundred thousand dollars a month" from the sale of illegal stones mined in the politically sensitive Marange district. Grace Mugabe denies the allegations.
Zimbabwe's attorney general has formed a commission to investigate the WikiLeaks cables with a view to bring charges of treason against anyone found to be colluding with "aggressive" foreign governments. This has been seen as a thinly veiled attempt to target the country's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Anonymous, a 1,000-strong group of activists, rallied on behalf of WikiLeaks after Amazon and other companies terminated business services with the website. It launched Operation Payback to give firms deemed hostile to WikiLeaks a "black eye".
The websites of Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and the company that hosted WikiLeaks were all brought down after severing ties with the whistleblowing site.
The Swedish prosecution office's website was also attacked after it pressed for the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, from the UK to face trial over alleged sexual offences.
Anonymous's so-called "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attacks, which bring down sites by overpowering them with repeated requests to load, are illegal in the UK.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Crossbow cannibal: Stephen Griffiths is branded a coward by ex-girlfriend Kathy Hancock

THE EX-GIRLFRIEND of “crossbow cannibal” Stephen Griffiths has branded the murderer a “coward”, and predicted he will suffer in prison.
Kathy Hancock, 37, who worked for some time as a prison officer at Full Sutton prison near York, was at Leeds Crown Court last week when Griffiths was sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murders of three women.
She told a Sunday tabloid newspaper yesterday: “I sat there in court hoping he’d look me or the victims’ families in the eye, but he couldn’t do it. He’s a coward.”
Ms Hancock, who is understood to have lived for some time with her parents in Stamford Bridge before they left the area, was in a relationship with Griffiths for a year after they met in 2000.
She said Griffiths came across as very shy and they started dating, but during the course of their relationship he hit her so hard her lip split, and broke her nose for talking to another man in a club.
Criminology student Griffiths confessed to murdering Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth, who all worked in the red-light district near his home in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
The court was told how he used power tools to dismember his victims in his flat, and would cook and eat their flesh.
Ms Hancock said: “I just sat there and thought how pathetic he was. I felt angry at myself for being intimidated by him.
“He’s a weak man who targeted very vulnerable people. He’ll suffer in prison because he hates any kind of confrontation with strong people.”
Meanhile, police investigating the disappearance of York chef Claudia Lawrence are to speak to colleagues in West Yorkshire to probe any link with Griffiths.
A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said there was no indication of a link to the disappearance of University of York employee Claudia.
But the spokeswoman said: “Consultation will take place with our colleagues in West Yorkshire Police to ensure that any factors that are common to both cases are identified and investigated promptly.”

Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav convicted of rape

JERUSALEM -- Israel's ex-President Moshe Katsav has been convicted of rape by a court in Tel Aviv. A panel of judges found Mr. Katsav guilty of raping an employee while he was minister of tourism in the 1990s. Furthermore, the court convicted the former president of sexually abusing two further complainants while he was serving as Israel's president.
Sentencing is expected to take place in January, and with rape commanding a jail term of a minimum of four years in Israel, commentators are expecting imprisonment in the light of the harshness of the verdict.
Women's groups in Israel have welcomed the verdict, arguing that allegations of sexual harassment are too often ignored.

Earthquake in Indiana, no damage, 4.2 Magnitude

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake struck north-central Indiana on Thursday, according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake struck just before 8 a.m. ET and was 3 miles deep, according to the USGS.
The epicenter was located about 15 miles east-southeast of Kokomo, 15 miles west-southwest from Marion and 50 miles north of Indianapolis.

There were no reports of damage in Indianapolis, but closer to the epicenter residents reported being rattled.
“Funny, I thought one of my kids ran into a wall, and lo and behold, it was just a 4.2-magnitude earthquake in Indiana,” one person wrote on Twitter.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More than 100 dogs rescued from Maryland fire

Fire officials say more than 100 dogs have been rescued from a breeder's burning home in rural southern Maryland.
Jonathan Riffe, chief of the Huntingtown Volunteer Fire Department, says four dogs died in the blaze in Calvert County. No people were injured.
Riffe says more than 50 firefighters helped rescue a total of 129 animals from the house. In all, Riffe says there are more than 600 animals on the property.
The dogs included pit bulls, Rottweilers and Chihuahuas.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

November Christmas

November Christmas is the moving story of two families, a community, and the idea that Christmas doesn't have to come just once a year.
This holiday story tells how neighbors come to help a family trying to cope with their young daughter's illness. November Christmas also stars Sarah Paulson, Karen Allen, Elizabeth McLaughlin and Emily Alyn Lind.
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Manchester's other United celebrate FA Cup draw

While leaders Manchester United banged in the Premier League goals at Old Trafford on Saturday, the breakaway club formed by their disillusioned supporters five years ago also had plenty to celebrate in the FA Cup.
Minor league FC United, founded by fans upset at the Glazer family's takeover at Old Trafford, kept alive their dream of facing the club they split with a 1-1 draw in the second round at League One (third division) leaders Brighton & Hove Albion.
Even more remarkably, they did it with 10 men and after goalkeeper Sam Ashton had saved a penalty in added time. The semi-professional team, whose players include tilers and chauffeurs, had taken the lead in the 40th minute but had Scott McManus sent off for violent conduct before Mauricio Taricco equalised with seven minutes remaining.
The 37-year-old Argentine Taricco, who is also Brighton's assistant manager, had made his first professional appearance since retiring in 2004 in their shootuout victory over Woking in a first round replay when he was sent off in extra time.
FC United, by forcing a replay, will now take their place in Sunday's third round draw when the English Premier League clubs -- including Manchester United -- also enter the fray.
Manchester United thrashed Blackburn Rovers 7-1 in the Premier League with Dimitar berbatov scoring five goals.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Harry Potter" sets box office record -- and did you see it in IMAX?

Well, good morning, fellow snowy Seattleites; and how was your commute today? (Mine was an hour and a half on the bus, enlivened by a near-fistfight between a couple of cranky commuters arguing about who was in the way of whom.) And now, with headlines indicating a possible six more inches of snow today, I'm wondering whether I'll get to tonight's screening of "Burlesque." Cher, I suspect, would make it through the snow somehow. Me, I don't know. We'll see.
Meanwhile, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I" made oodles of gold this weekend, with an estimated $125 million in tickets sold. That sets a new record for the franchise, though of course it's hard to compare as many of the tickets sold were for the inflated IMAX price. Speaking of which, did any of you happen to see the movie in IMAX? Real IMAX, or fake? How was it?

World leader assassinations & attempts

Being a world leader sometimes comes at the ultimate price. History is littered with numerousworld leader assassinations and attempts, motivated by religion, political interests or other reasons.

Nobel peace prize winner and Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat died at age 62 when he was assassinated by fundamentalists on October 6, 1981. He was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak, the current President of Egypt.

Mahatma Gandhi, the iconic leader of India's independence movement who advocated non-violence, was shot dead by Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948. Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were later tried and convicted; they were executed on November 15, 1949.

Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot to death by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords on November 4, 1995. 

Finally, going back a little further in history, dictator of the Roman Republic Julius Caesar was assassinated as a result of a conspiracy by forty Roman senators in 44 B.C. He was stabbed by a group led by Gaius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus in the Theatre of Pompey. According to Eutropius, around 60 or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Surprise Link Between Weird Quantum Phenomena

Surprise Link Between Weird Quantum Phenomena: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle Sets Limits on Einstein's 'Spooky Action at a Distance'

Researchers have uncovered a fundamental link between the two defining properties of quantum physics. The result is being heralded as a dramatic breakthrough in our basic understanding of quantum mechanics and provides new clues to researchers seeking to understand the foundations of quantum theory. The result addresses the question of why quantum behaviour is as weird as it is -- but no weirder.
Stephanie Wehner of Singapore's Centre for Quantum Technologies and the National University of Singapore and Jonathan Oppenheim of the United Kingdom's University of Cambridge published their work in the latest edition of the journalScience.

The strange behaviour of quantum particles, such as atoms, electrons and the photons that make up light, has perplexed scientists for nearly a century. Albert Einstein was among those who thought the quantum world was so strange that quantum theory must be wrong, but experiments have borne out the theory's predictions.
One of the weird aspects of quantum theory is that it is impossible to know certain things, such as a particle's momentum and position, simultaneously. Knowledge of one of these properties affects the accuracy with which you can learn the other. This is known as the "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle."
Another weird aspect is the quantum phenomenon of non-locality, which arises from the better-known phenomenon of entanglement. When two quantum particles are entangled, they can perform actions that look as if they are coordinated with each other in ways that defy classical intuition about physically separated particles.
Previously, researchers have treated non-locality and uncertainty as two separate phenomena. Now Wehner and Oppenheim have shown that they are intricately linked. What's more, they show that this link is quantitative and have found an equation which shows that the "amount" of non-locality is determined by the uncertainty principle.
"It's a surprising and perhaps ironic twist," said Oppenheim, a Royal Society University Research Fellow from the Department of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Einstein and his co-workers discovered non-locality while searching for a way to undermine the uncertainty principle. "Now the uncertainty principle appears to be biting back."
Non-locality determines how well two distant parties can coordinate their actions without sending each other information. Physicists believe that even in quantum mechanics, information cannot travel faster than light. Nevertheless, it turns out that quantum mechanics allows two parties to coordinate much better than would be possible under the laws of classical physics. In fact, their actions can be coordinated in a way that almost seems as if they had been able to talk. Einstein famously referred to this phenomenon as "spooky action at a distance."
However, quantum non-locality could be even spookier than it actually is. It's possible to have theories which allow distant parties to coordinate their actions much better than nature allows, while still not allowing information to travel faster than light. Nature could be weirder, and yet it isn't -- quantum theory appears to impose an additional limit on the weirdness.
"Quantum theory is pretty weird, but it isn't as weird as it could be. We really have to ask ourselves, why is quantum mechanics this limited? Why doesn't nature allow even stronger non-locality?" Oppenheim says.
The surprising result by Wehner and Oppenheim is that the uncertainty principle provides an answer. Two parties can only coordinate their actions better if they break the uncertainty principle, which imposes a strict bound on how strong non-locality can be.
"It would be great if we could better coordinate our actions over long distances, as it would enable us to solve many information processing tasks very efficiently," Wehner says. "However, physics would be fundamentally different. If we break the uncertainty principle, there is really no telling what our world would look like."
How did the researchers discover a connection that had gone unnoticed so long? Before entering academia, Wehner worked as a 'computer hacker for hire', and now works in quantum information theory, while Oppenheim is a physicist. Wehner thinks that applying techniques from computer science to the laws of theoretical physics was key to spotting the connection. "I think one of the crucial ideas is to link the question to a coding problem," Wehner says. "Traditional ways of viewing non-locality and uncertainty obscured the close connection between the two concepts."
Wehner and Oppenheim recast the phenomena of quantum physics in terms that would be familiar to a computer hacker. They treat non-locality as the result of one party, Alice, creating and encoding information and a second party, Bob, retrieving information from the encoding. How well Alice and Bob can encode and retrieve information is determined by uncertainty relations. In some situations, they found that and a third property known as "steering" enters the picture.
Wehner and Oppenheim compare their discovery to uncovering what determines how easily two players can win a quantum board game: the board has only two squares, on which Alice, can place a counter of two possible colours: green or pink. She is told to place the same colour on both squares, or to place a different colour on each. Bob has to guess the colour that Alice put on square one or two. If his guess is correct, Alice and Bob win the game. Clearly, Alice and Bob could win the game if they could talk to each other: Alice would simply tell Bob what colours are on squares one and two. But Bob and Alice are situated so far apart from each other that light -- and thus an information-carrying signal -- does not have time to pass between them during the game.
If they can't talk, they won't always win, but by measuring on quantum particles, they can win the game more often than any strategy which doesn't rely on quantum theory. However, the uncertainty principle prevents them from doing any better, and even determines how often they lose the game.
The finding bears on the deep question of what principles underlie quantum physics. Many attempts to understand the underpinnings of quantum mechanics have focused on non-locality. Wehner thinks there may be more to gain from examining the details of the uncertainty principle. "However, we have barely scratched the surface of understanding uncertainty relations," she says.
The breakthrough is future-proof, the researchers say. Scientists are still searching for a quantum theory of gravity and Wehner and Oppenheim's result concerning non-locality, uncertainty and steering applies to all possible theories -- including any future replacement for quantum mechanics.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama Plays Well in India. What Will He Get in Return?

Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have met seven times since March 2009, and they seem to be getting comfortable. On Sunday in Mumbai, Obama tried his hand at Indian folk dancing during a Diwali celebration at a local school. The usually sober, scripted Singh, meanwhile, jauntily fielded questions at a joint news conference on Monday. "We're not afraid of the K-word," he said in response to a question about Kashmir. And he bluntly defended his country's much-maligned offshore outsourcing industry: "India is not in the business of stealing jobs from the United States of America."
A few hours after the Indian Prime Minister's Yankee plain-speaking, the U.S. President delivered a speech to Parliament with a subtlety and political skill worthy of India's great statesmen. Obama flattered India's pride in its past, recalling Swami Vivekananda visit to Chicago in 1893; he also showed Gandhian humility, saying, "I might not be standing here before you today" had it not been for Mohandas Gandhi's influence on the civil rights movement; and candidly addressed the two countries differences, pointing out India's failure to live up to its own ideals and speak out for human rights.
Obama then exceeded the Indian government's expectations for the trip and delivered the two most important items on India's wish list: he endorsed India's bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and used strong language toward Pakistan, saying he would "insist to Pakistan's leaders that terrorist safe-havens within their borders are unacceptable." Here's what the U.S. can look for in return:
A new dialogue on human rights
Obama, in one of the most surprising parts of his address, spoke forcefully about India's support for Burma's military dictatorship, wading into a potentially tricky subject. India has in the past often chafed at any discussion of human rights in the United Nations or in bilateral discussions as an infringement on its national sovereignty. But Obama put his comments in the context of India's own democratic tradition, saying that as the Burmese government suppresses free elections, "the democracies of the world cannot remain silent." That rhetoric "wasn't the kind of lecturing that Indian diplomats hate listening to," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, so she expects it to be more effective. "This is something that the Indian government really needed to hear."

Breathing room on Pakistan
On the morning of Obama's last day in India, the New York Times reported that David Headley, who is accused of playing a key role in planning the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, was working for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in Pakistan while also attending jihadi training camps. But New Delhi downplayed what could have been an embarrassing confirmation of the common criticism among foreign policy experts in India that the U.S. has not done enough to pressure Pakistan to crack down on terror — always fodder for the conspiracy theorists who believe that Headley was a U.S. double agent. In an interview with TIME on Monday, a senior Indian government official praised the "excellent intelligence sharing" by the U.S. since the Mumbai attacks and dismissed the reports about Headley as "all in the realm of speculation." This may be a sign that Obama's tough language on Pakistan has won him a bit of breathing room to continue the administration's stated policy — to privately pressure Pakistan while publicly affirming them as an ally — without the complication of second-guessing by India.

A more level playing field
Consistent with the Obama administration's message for this trip, the 200-strong business delegation from the U.S. has been trumpeting the huge opportunities for exports to India's billion-strong consumer market. "The size and growth rate of India's population alone make India a terrific investment opportunity," Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi told reporters. But privately, they have also been clamoring for India to lift the remaining restrictions on investment, particularly in financial services and retail. Obama's political success in New Delhi may help. "Diplomatically, everything that we thought he would not do, he did," says Suhel Seth, a marketing expert and longtime adviser to Indian big business. That puts Obama in a better position to push for more open markets and perhaps make good on his promise of delivering jobs by raising exports, Seth says. Having won over a tough audience in India, however, he'll face an even tougher one back home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Couple Win $11.2M Lottery, Then Give It All Away

Allen and Violet Large figured they were lucky enough already. 

So when the Canadian couple hit it big in the lottery this year, they decided to give it away -- all of it. Since their July win, the elderly couple has donated nearly every cent of their $11.2 million winnings to charity. Call it the Larges' largess.
"What you've never had, you never miss," Violet Large, 78, told The Chronicle Herald in Canada. She and her 74-year-old husband, who live in Nova Scotia, said they first made sure their family was taken care of. But then, she said, they decided the money was "a big headache."

So in a matter of just four months, they gave away the rest of their millions to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and local churches, according to The Chronicle Herald. They also donated money to the hospitals where Violet Large was fighting cancer this year. 

The Larges play the lottery twice a week and say they'd never won more than $1,000 before this year. But July 14 was different. After choosing numbers in "Lotto 649" that day, Violet Large said she first thought they'd won only $10. Then, she took a closer look and was in shock. "'Oh my God,'" she said she told Allen that day at the couple's home, according to the Truro Daily News. "I said, 'Come and check these numbers.'"

But Allen Large, a retired steel worker, said he was more concerned with his wife's health than with the cash. "That money that we won was nothing," he said. "We have each other."

Violet, who has completed her treatment, told the paper that she and Allen were happy to be done with the money and have no interest in living extravagantly. "We're the lucky ones," she said. "I have no complaints." The humble couple, who did not immediately return a call for comment today from AOL News, will not say how much they gave to each charity.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another Qantas Jet Makes Emergency Landing

Another Qantas Jet Makes Emergency Landing


A Qantas Boeing 747 with 431 people on board landed safely in Singapore today after an engine caught fire minutes after it took off from the city-state, the airline and a passenger said. The problem arose just a day after a Qantas Airbus A380 superjumbo jet made an emergency landing at the same airport due to an engine blowout. "There was a loud bang and a jet of fire from the back of the engine," said one passenger.
The passenger adds that he could see the engine clearly. The blast happened "one or two minutes" into the flight when the plane had climbed about 2,000 feet, according to the passenger, who says the pilot stabilized the plane before returning to Singapore. Qantas said in a statement later that flight QF6 from Singapore to Sydney had an issue with its number 1 engine—one of four engines—and that the pilot returned to Singapore as a precaution. Click here to read why yesterday's explosion should scare us.

Muslim Web Site Publishes Kill List

An extremist Muslim web site has published a "kill list" of hundreds of British members of parliament who voted for the war in Iraq. The site,, urges readers to follow the example of a young "holy warrior" Muslim woman who stabbed a member of Parliament and was sentenced this week to life in prison for attempted murder. “We ask Allaah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of Jihaad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence" of the politicians' vote, says the message.
The site also offers instructions on how to track a politician's activities through their web sites, the Telegraph reports. is hosted in the US, where the White House is being pressured by the British government to take action against such sites. These sites are extremely dangerous, and this one must be taken down immediately," said the former chairman of Britain's homeland security.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mid-East peace talks: UK says window 'closing'

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that "the window is closing" on the possibility of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
He also expressed "frustration" over a row with Israel which had overshadowed his three-day visit to the region.
Israel's Foreign Ministry announced it was postponing "strategic" talks with the UK in protest at a British law that puts visiting Israeli officials at risk of arrest for alleged war crimes.
Mr Hague said the law was under review.
Since Israel's military offensive in Gaza in 2009, Israeli ministers have had to cancel visits to the UK over concerns they could face arrest on war crimes charges brought by pro-Palestinian campaigners.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Israel's Intelligence Minister, Dan Meridor, cancelled a trip to Britain amid concerns that he risked being arrested for alleged crimes relating to the raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
Diplomatic spat
On Wednesday, the first day of Mr Hague's official visit to Israel, Israel's Foreign Ministry announced that it was postponing annual strategic talks with Britain over defence and security issues.
A ministry spokesman denied that the move was a deliberate "ambush" to humiliate Mr Hague, but the row has overshadowed his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories - his first since taking office in May.
Speaking at the end of his trip to the region, Mr Hague told the BBC that "certainly [the announcement] was a little frustrating".
But he added that he saw it as "a mistake on behalf of the foreign ministry, rather than something with bad intentions."
The foreign ministry is led by the often controversial right-wing minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has previously rebuked European politicians over their stance on the Middle East, says the BBC's Wyre Davies from Jerusalem.
Mr Hague said that he had clarified the matter with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that "the difficulties of yesterday [had] been overcome".
He said Britain was urgently addressing the issue of amending the laws which could expose visiting Israeli politicians to arrest - a move already announced by the Conservatives.
Peace talks
He also expressed concern that peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians had stalled over the issue of renewed building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Mr Hague said that both sides had obligations, but that it was largely up to Israel to break the impasse.
"We do want Israel to announce a new moratorium on settlements... That is what the whole of Europe wants, that is what the United States wants," he said.
"We do urge all concerned to do what is necessary to allow a two-state solution to come about. I am very worried that the window is closing on that possibility, there is a real urgency to this," he added.
The Palestinians - backed by the Arab League - have pledged not to return to direct talks without a full settlement construction freeze, but have given US negotiators until early November to try to break the impasse.
Israel has refused to renew the freeze despite international pressure.
The talks, which resumed in Washington in September after a break of almost 20 months, are now facing imminent collapse.
Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Summary Box: World Bank lifts China growth outlook

TIME TO SHIFT? The World Bank says that with China's rapid growth easing to a manageable pace, Beijing can do more to promote domestic consumption and reduce reliance on trade.
AHEAD OF THE PACK: The bank's quarterly outlook on China reflects the country's status as the first major economy to rebound from the global crisis.
THE RECOMMENDATION: Beijing needs to boost wages and consumer spending and promote growth of private and service businesses to reduce reliance on exports and energy-intensive heavy industry, the bank said.

B.C. premier plans important announcement

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has scheduled a news conference to make an undisclosed important announcement on Wednesday morning starting at 11:30 a.m. PT.
There was nothing in the statement issued on Wednesday morning to indicate what Campbell would be announcing.
But in recent months Campbell's leadership has been questioned because of his handling of the introduction of the HST after the May 2009 election.
Last week Campbell announced a 15 per cent income tax cut and shuffled his cabinet in an attempt to shore up his support both publicly and inside the Liberal Party caucus.

NC man to plead to putting bomb info on Facebook

A North Carolina man who used his Facebook page to urge violence against abortion clinics is pleading guilty to federal charges of passing bomb-making instructions to an informant.
Justin Carl Moose signed a plea bargain with prosecutors. Documents filed in federal court in Greensboro show the 26-year-old will plead guilty to distributing information on making and using explosives.
Court documents say Moose posted links and instructions on making bombs to his Facebook page. In other Facebook posts, the 26-year-old called himself a "freedom fighter" and said he wanted to end abortion by any means necessary.
A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. Moose faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Election tally: Glenn Beck won. Progressivism lost

Glenn Beck and the Republican Party scored big in the midterm elections by attacking progressive values – even, it seems, the very concept of the federal government. Now Americans may find out just how many features of 'big government' they actually value.
Not just for Mr. Beck’s Republican Party, which captured the House and nearly the Senate in yesterday’s midterm elections. The verdict represents a victory for Beck’s political philosophy, a brand of conservatism that sees progressive values as the No. 1 threat to America. One day, historians might look back on 2010 as the year that Americans sounded the death knell for progressivism itself.

A government solution for every problem

The term dates to the early 20th century, when social reformers triggered an unprecedented explosion of government activity. To these self-described “Progressives,” America’s filthy cities, factories, farms, and schools cried out for improvement and regulation. They crafted new laws to bring this undirected chaos under intelligent control.
It’s easy to mock the distortions and outright falsehoods in Beck’s tirades against progressivism, which he has even suggested results in Communism or Nazism.

Enemy No. 1: Woodrow Wilson

But on one basic claim, Beck is spot-on correct: the Progressives gave birth to modern government. He reserves his greatest invective for President Woodrow Wilson, an Ivy-educated intellectual (sound familiar?) who brought us, among other things, the graduated federal income tax. But his screeds against the Progressives would apply equally well to Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, who both did their share of federal state-building along the banks of the Potomac.

Since the 1960s, to be sure, Republicans have won office by demonizing federal programs and especially federal spending. And we heard plenty of that in this election, with the GOP’s constant barrage against “Obamacare,” the bank bailout, and the stimulus.

But something else was at work, too. To Beck and his minions, the real problem isn’t simply abloated federal bureaucracy or runaway deficits. It’s government, plain and simple, which has run roughshod over the individual rights and freedoms that our founding fathers held dear.

Hence Beck’s constant paeans to the American Revolution (tea party, anyone?) and his equally routine attacks on the Progressives, who supposedly sold our birthright of liberty for a pottage of government regulation and control.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mail bomb investigators push on with Yemen man hunt

Their first suspect in custody, Yemeni police continued to search for the terrorists believed responsible for mailing a pair of powerful bombs to attack the United States. U.S. and Yemeni officials were increasingly seeing al-Qaida's hand in the failed plot.
Yemeni police arrested a young woman who was a medical student on suspicion of mailing a pair of bombs powerful enough to take down airplanes, officials said Sunday. They also detained her mother.
Investigators were hunting the impoverished Mideast country for more conspirators. U.S. officials included in that group the same bombmaker suspected of designing the explosive for a failed bombing on a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas.
Authorities were also looking at two language institutions the plotters may have been associated with.
The explosives, addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, were pulled off airplanes in England and the United Arab Emirates early Friday morning, touching off a tense search for other devices. More details emerged Saturday about the plot that exploited security gaps in the worldwide shipping system.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he believes the explosive device found in central England was intended to detonate on the plane, while British Home Secretary Theresa May said the bomb was powerful enough to take down the aircraft. A U.S. official said the second device found in Dubai was thought to be similarly potent.
But it still wasn't clear whether the bombs, which officials said were wired to cell phones, timers and power supplies, could have been detonated remotely while the planes were in the air, or when the packages were halfway around the world in the U.S. Still, the fact that they made it onto airplanes showed that nearly a decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, terrorists continue to probe and find security vulnerabilities.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told reporters that the United States and United Arab Emirates had provided intelligence that helped identify the woman suspected of mailing the packages.
A Yemeni security official said the young woman was a medical student and that her mother also was detained, but officials pointed to additional suspects believed to have used forged documents and ID cards. One member of Yemen's anti-terrorism unit said the other suspects had been tied to al-Qaida.
Yemeni and U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation unfolding on three continents.
Al-Qaida's Yemen branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, took credit for the failed bomb last Christmas that used PETN, an industrial explosive that was also in the mail bombs found Friday.
The suspected bombmaker behind the Christmas Day attack, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, is also the prime suspect in the mail bomb plot, several U.S. officials said. Al-Asiri also helped make another PETN device for a failed suicide attempt against a top Saudi counterterrorism official last year. The official survived, but his attacker died in the blast.
The U.S. was already on the lookout for a mail bomb plot after learning terrorists in Yemen were interested in "exploring an operation involving cargo planes," a U.S. counterterrorism official said.
U.S. authorities then acted quickly after receiving a tip "that suspicious packages may be en route to the U.S" - specifically Chicago - the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
Sullivan reported from Washington. Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Kimberly Dozier in Washington, Raphael G. Satter in London, Adam Schreck in Dubai and Carla K. Johnson and Karen Hawkins in Chicago contributed to this report.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bill Clinton heads back to Ohio to campaign

Former President Bill Clinton is headed back to Ohio to campaign for the state's endangered Democratic governor and members of Congress.
Clinton's appearances in northeast Ohio and Columbus on Saturday are part of a big weekend push by Democrats. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will campaign in Cleveland on Sunday.
Recent polls have shown Republican former congressman John Kasich (KAY'-sik) with a slim lead over Gov. Ted Strickland. Some surveys put the race about even.
Clinton's swing includes stops in Boardman, near Youngstown; Canton; and Columbus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Canadians upbeat on personal finances

Canadians’ improving personal finances have snapped a four-month slide in consumer confidence, the Conference Board of Canada reported Thursday.
The board’s confidence index rose 1.5% in October to a reading of 79.7%, despite weakness in three of the four measures that make up the survey. An even reading for the index is 100.
The gain was apparent across the country, with the exception of the Atlantic region.
“The share of respondents expressing a positive view of their current finances increased dramatically in October,” the report said.
When asked if their financial situation had improved over the past six months, 17.5% responded positively, a gain of 4.3 percentage points from September and the highest reading of the year.
The advance comes on the heels of a fall stock market surge that has lifted the TSX composite index by more than 13% since early July.
Those saying their finances had worsened fell by 1.5 percentage points to a reading of 21.7%.
But the weakness in other areas of the poll, based on 2,000 telephone interviews conducted in early October, suggested this months’ gains could be elusive
On the employment front, for instance, “consumers are showing little faith in the recovery in Canada’s labour markets,”the report said.
Only 17.8% of respondents said they expect employment in their communities to rise over the next six months. The number who expect fewer jobs rose to 20.5%, up from 20.1% in September.
Weakness in the labour market cuts into consumer spending, another area where the survey showed potential weakness ahead.
Asked if they thought it was a good time to make a major purchase, only 41% said it was. Those saying it was a bad time to do so rose to 47.9%.
“The balance of opinion on this question has completely reversed since the beginning of the year, when positive responses outweighed negative ones by a significant margin,”the report said.
Consumers’ outlook for future finances could also suggest weaker spending ahead, as only 22.9% said they expect their financial situation to improve in the coming six months. The figure is 1.6 percentage points lower than one month ago and 10.6 percentage points lower than at the start of the year.
Regionally, the Prairies remained the region with the highest level of consumer confidence, rising 3.1 percentage points to a reading of 99.3.
Ontario continues to lag “well behind” other regions, with a gain of 1.4 points to 68.7, the report said.
Quebec rose 1.7 points to 80.8, while British Columbia rose 3.5 points to 83.