Tuesday, July 20, 2010

HEC refuses time extension for degrees verification

ISLAMABAD: Higher Education Commission (HEC) has refused to give two months extension to Karachi and Sindh universities for verification of degrees of parliamentarians.

HEC sources told Geo News that Karachi and Sindh universities sent incomplete report to HEC regarding verification of degrees of 214 parliamentarians, which was sent back to universities for further verification. The universities are seeking time extension for two months for comprehensive verification. 

However, HEC has refused to give two months for verification process and directed these institutions to complete the process as early as possible. If it is not possible, send concern record to HEC for verification, sources added.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Study: Test-tube kids face increased cancer risk

A large study suggests a higher rate of childhood cancer among test-tube babies, but researchers say the reason probably has nothing to do with how the infants were conceived.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

UN Observes Nelson Mandela International Day

The U.N. General Assembly last year declared July 18th as Nelson Mandela International Day.  It was set as a day to recognize contributions made by the former South African president to a culture of peace and freedom.  At the General Assembly's first observance of the day, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, in recorded remarks, that when he met Nelson Mandela, he was struck by his charisma and charm. 

But, Mr. Ban added, he was most impressed by his humility. "Nelson Mandela's accomplishments came at great personal cost to himself and his family.  His sacrifice not only served the people of his own nation, South Africa, but made the world a better place for all people everywhere.  Today, on the first Nelson Mandela International Day, we thank him for everything that he has done for freedom, for justice, for democracy.  He showed the way.  He changed the world.  We are profoundly grateful," he said.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's minister of international relations, told the General Assembly that Nelson Mandela's birthday is observed in South Africa by people devoting time to community service. "This service to humanity is what defines the United Nations.  By celebrating Mandela Day, we are reaffirming our commitment to the values and mission for which the United Nations was established," he said.

At a news conference, the South African foreign minister urged U.N. member states to secure a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council for South Africa in the years 2011-2012.

Speaking at the General Assembly on behalf of the United States, Ambassador Brooke Anderson said South Africa, once seen as the world's epitome of racism, has now become its paragon of reconciliation.

"Sometimes it takes great leaders to remind us of the truths that we hold self evident.  Nelson Mandela is such a leader, and we are fortunate to walk the earth in his days.  We hope that this day in his honor will remind all our citizens of his towering, healing and joyful example.  When he won his country's first free election on May 2, 1994, then President-Elect Nelson Mandela called the birth of democracy in South Africa a small miracle.  It was indeed a miracle, but there was nothing small about it.  For that great gift, on behalf of the United States, let me simply say, Mandiba, we thank you," she said.

Nelson Mandela's 92nd birthday is on Sunday.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mexico Drug Gang Hits Cops with Car Bomb

Members of a northern Mexico drug gang rammed a car bomb into two police patrol trucks Thursday in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on Thursday, killing two officers and a medical technician, and wounding nine people.
Federal police said the attack - which may be one of the first uses of an explosive-packed car in Mexico - was in retaliation for the arrest of a top leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero, earlier in the day.
Seven officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack, said a state police source who was not authorized to be quoted by name. He said the compact passenger car had apparently been carrying some kind of explosive or inflammable device when it rammed the police pickup trucks.
Federal police confirmed in a statement that the car rammed the patrol vehicles, but were not immediately available to confirm what, if anything the car was carrying.
Police said the man arrested Thursday, Acosta Guerrero, 35, was the "operations leader" of the la Linea gang, which works for the Juarez drug cartel.
It said he was responsible for at least 25 executions, mainly of rival gang members, and also ordered attacks on police.
Drug gangs have previously attacked Mexican soldiers and law enforcement officers with grenades and powerful rifles, but seldom have been known to use explosives.
Further south in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, gunmen shot and killed the nephew of the governor-elect during a botched kidnapping, authorities said Thursday.
Mario Medina, nephew of Governor-elect Cesar Duarte, was shot in the back Wednesday as he tried to escape from his assailants in the state capital, also named Chihuahua, state prosecutors' spokesman Eduardo Esparza said.
Medina, 42, was at his parents' business when the assailants tried to kidnap him, Esparza said. Police had not discovered a motive.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in drug violence in Chihuahua state, most of them in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. There have been more than 23,000 killings throughout the country linked to drug violence since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers and federal agents to drug hotspots in late 2006.
In the northern state of Nuevo Leon, authorities said the bodies of four men who had been shot to death were found on a street in the affluent Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia.
The four men had their hands bound with tape and were blindfolded, the state prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Nuevo Leon has seen an increase in drug violence that authorities say stems from a fight between the Gulf cartel and its former ally, the Zetas gang of hit men.
Mexican and U.S. officials say the Gulf cartel has aligned itself with the Sinaloa and La Familia gangs, which are seeking to wipe out the Zetas in northeastern Mexico.
In the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, police said that they found the body of a man Thursday whose head and fingers had been cut off.
The body was found in a plastic bag in the state capital, Chilpancingo, and the head was found next to it.
In the coastal resort city of Acapulco, also in Guerrero state, drug traffickers left a banner on a boulevard accusing local police of protecting Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a U.S.-born enforcer known as "La Barbie." The banner was signed "B.L.," an apparent reference to the remnants of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which split with Villarreal.
Also Thursday, the Mexican navy reported it found 8 metric tons of a precursor chemical used to make methamphetamines in shipping containers at the Pacific coast seaport of Manzanillo.
Drug traffickers have turned to phenylacetic acid after Mexico effectively banned imports of another precursor, pseudoephedrine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Latest Adobe Reader Version Distributed from Official Download Site

Adobe began distributing the latest patched version of its Adobe Reader product directly from the official download site. The standard practice until now was to offer the installer for the last single-dot version and update it on first run. Because of its ubiquity, for the past several years Adobe Reader has been one of the preferred target of cyber criminals looking to infect users with malware. The flurry of zero-day remote code execution vulnerabilities discovered in the product has brought Adobe strong criticism from the information security community.

Studies have shown that the vast manjority of users fail to update software applications, leaving themselves exposed to attacks. And to make matters worse, Adobe's policy until two days ago involved distributing full installers only for single-dot versions, like 9.3, from its Download Center, despite the latest patched of the product being 9.3.3.

One year ago, the company explained that making double-dot versions available in the same manner it releases single-dot ones, would delay the release of critical security updates and actually increase the window of exposure for users. This is because over 70 installers for each language/platform pair would need to be generated and tested for each release, implying a much lengthier quality assurance process.

Since then, the developer has settled on a compromise and earlier this year announced that it will deliver double-dot releases as full installers, but only for the most popular language/platform pairs.  For the Windows version this means English, German, Spanish, French and Japanese, for Linux, the same, but without Spanish, while for Mac only English-language installers are available.

Last year Adobe introduced a quarterly security update cycle for its Adobe Reader and Acrobat products, which means that these double-dot installers will be updated every four months if no out-of-band update is released. However, at the end of May, Brad Arkin, Adobe's director of product security and privacy, revealed that monthly security updates are currently being considered. It will be interesting to see how the company handles the full installer issue if that happens.

The latest Adobe Reader double-dot version for Windows can be downloaded from here.

The latest Adobe Reader double-dot version for MAC can be downloaded from here.

The latest Adobe Reader double-dot version for UNIX can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dallas-area mayor, teen daughter are shot dead

A spokeswoman for a Dallas-area city says the mayor and her teenage daughter have been shot dead.
Community Information Officer Sharon Logan says the bodies of 55-year-old Mayor Jayne Peters and her 19-year-old daughter, Corrine Peters, were found at their home in Coppell (kuh-PEL) on Tuesday night.
Logan says in a statement that police discovered the bodies after council members expressed concern that the usually prompt mayor did not show up for a council meeting. Police found no signs of forced entry.
City police made no immediate comment.
Jayne Peters had been mayor of Coppell, 15 miles northwest of Dallas, since 2009. Corinne Peters graduated from Coppell High School this year.

Steinbrenner and the City: A Whirlwind

The life of George Steinbrenner is a ramp across modern New York, a bridge that spans the whirlpool of one man’s spinning psyche and the transformation of America’s biggest, baddest city. He raged. He wept. He won. He brought back prodigals, forgave them their urine tests. He broke laws, promises, lives. He did charity. He grafted his ego onto the back pages of newspapers. He blasted Frank Sinatra through stadium loudspeakers. He championed ordinary New Yorkers, then took them for every last penny.
He has been a part of the city’s landscape since 1973, making a vast fortune with winning teams and by threatening to leave.
“He calls up the next day,” Edward I. Koch said Tuesday, remembering the end of a long negotiation in 1987 that had concluded — or so Mr. Koch thought — with a firm deal to extend the Yankees’ lease on the old stadium. Mr. Koch, then the mayor, had no interest in sports but wanted to make sure that the Yankees did not leave, and so the city agreed to improve parking and road access if the team would sign an extension of its lease.
The mayor was relieved to have the haggling and threats brought to an end. One provision that would continue from the old deal was the city’s 10 percent share of cable television revenue.
“He said, ‘I need two weeks to decide’ on an option on some obscure matter that really didn’t affect the city, and we didn’t care which option he chose,” Mr. Koch said. “So fine. It didn’t matter to the city which one he chose. We had shaken hands.”
Two weeks later, the phone rang. “He called and said he was not going to sign the contract, that the options were not acceptable,” Mr. Koch said. “The reason, we found out, was that in the two-week period, he had negotiated an increase in his cable television contract from $50 million to $500 million, and he didn’t want the city to get 10 percent of $500 million.”
Had there been an actual handshake? “We really had shaken hands,” Mr. Koch said. “It wasn’t a metaphorical handshake. He was a very good businessman. There was also a ruthless quality, and that was a demonstration of it.”
After the Sept. 11 attack, the Yankees began playing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch; the song is still played at every game.
But members of the Giuliani administration recalled that a few weeks after 9/11, the Yankees balked at using the stadium for a memorial service. Mr. Steinbrenner was reported to have said the field would be damaged by the musicians and choirs. Rudolph W. Giuliani, a frequent guest at the ballpark, exploded, an aide recalled.
“Rudy said, ‘It’s our stadium; send 20 cops up there, get the keys and figure out how the lights work,’ ” the aide said.
The matter was amicably resolved.
AT some point in the 1980s, Mr. Steinbrenner began floating the notion that the Bronx was too wicked a place for a sports franchise to survive. Unless, possibly, someone built the team a new stadium. He made these pronouncements as the team was entering an era of prosperity unmatched in its spangled history.
During the 1950s, in the golden light of Mickey Mantle, the team never drew two million fans. Even in 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61 home runs and the Yankees won the World Series, attendance was just 1.7 million.
It was not until 1976, when the Bronx was on the verge of burning, that the team drew two million spectators. The more homicides in the Bronx, the higher the attendance at Yankee Stadium. Of course, good left-handed relief pitching also helped. Still, Mr. Steinbrenner eventually won the day: one of the wealthiest sports teams on earth would get around $1 billion in public subsidies for a new stadium.
As his health declined, Mr. Steinbrenner existed behind a scrim of bland quotes in news releases. “They should have let him pass from being part of the notoriety into the obscurity of old age,” Mr. Koch said.
He remembered the elation of the city when the Yankees won the World Series in 1978, a troubled time. “We put the trophy in the rotunda at City Hall,” Mr. Koch said. “I knew, as the Romans knew, that the people require circuses and theatrics.”
George Steinbrenner knew it better than anyone.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

10 Best Places to Live in America, 2010 edition

If you focus only on the averages, life in the typical American town frankly doesn't seem so hot right now. The median home continues to lose value. Cash-strapped state and local governments are cutting services. And unemployment, at 9.3%, is still high.
But those bummer statistics obscure one important-and encouraging-fact: There are plenty of outliers. MONEY found them through its annual search for the best places in America, which this year focused on the nation's small cities (those with populations of 50,000 to 300,000). Reporters crunched reams of data to find the optimal combo of job opportunities, fiscal strength, top-notch schools, low crime, good health care, lots to do, and many other factors that help make a town great for raising a family.
And because numbers don't tell you anything about charm and community spirit, reporters visited 30 of the highest-ranked towns in person. Those that made the cut landed on MONEY's top 10 list. As you'll see, these places are anything but average.
1. Eden Prairie, MN
Population: 64,000
Unemployment: 5.1%
Pluses: Plenty of jobs, very low crime, lots for kids to do
Minus: Long, cold winters
2. Columbia/Ellicott City, MD
Population: 155,000
Unemployment: 5.2%
Pluses: Booming economy, terrific schools, diversity
Minus: Bad traffic
3. Newton, MA
Population: 82,000
Unemployment: 6.0%
Pluses: Great schools, low crime, strong economy
Minuses: Pricey homes, bad traffic
4. Bellevue, WA
Population: 124,000
Unemployment: 5.8%
Pluses: Natural beauty, excellent schools, diversity
Minuses: Pricey real estate, rain
5. McKinney, TX
Population: 125,000
Unemployment: 7.8%
Pluses: Affordable homes, charming downtown
Minus: Traffic headaches
6. Fort Collins, CO
Population: 141,000
Unemployment: 7.4%
Pluses: Outdoor activities, steady economy
Minus: School budget cuts
7. Overland Park, KS
Population: 175,000
: 5.3%
Pluses: Good schools, low cost of living
Minuses: Some job losses, not much excitement
8. Fishers, IN
Population: 69,000
Unemployment: 6.2%
Pluses: Very low crime, inexpensive homes
Minus: Short on charm
9. Ames, IA
Population: 60,000
Unemployment: 4.3%
Pluses: Jobs galore, welcoming vibe
Minus: Cold winters

10. Rogers, AR
Population: 57,000
Unemployment: 5.8%
Pluses: Low cost of living, diversity
Minus: Strip malls

Monday, July 12, 2010

Uganda bomb blasts kill 64

Somali militant group may be involved, police say

At least 64 people, including one American aid worker, were killed in Kampala on Sunday when a series of explosions tore through venues where people had gathered to watch the final match of the World Cup.
The first blast hit the Ethiopian Village restaurant around 10:55 p.m. local time, Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot said. Two more blasts tore through a crowded rugby club about 20 minutes later, he said.
Opolot said officials have found signs that suggest two suicide bombers may be responsible for the explosions, though officials cautioned it is too soon to say exactly who was behind the attacks.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites Monday and said that the terrorists behind the bombings should fight soldiers, not "people who are just enjoying themselves."
"We shall go for them wherever they are coming from," Museveni said. "We will look for them and get them as we always do."
Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said it was too early to speculate about any military response to the attacks, which wounded as many as 70 people.
Invisible Children, a San Diego, California-based aid group that helps child soldiers, identified the dead American as one of its workers, Nate Henn.

Al-Shabab may be involved

Kampala's police chief said he believed Somalia's most feared militant group, al-Shabab, could be responsible for the attack.
Al-Shabab is known to have links with al-Qaeda, and it counts militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks. Simultaneous attacks are also one of al-Qaeda's hallmarks. The U.S. State Department has designated al-Shabab a terrorist organization.
In Mogadishu, Somalia, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda. Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible for the bombings.
"Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah's anger be upon those who are against us," Sheik said.
In addition to Uganda's troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in U.S. and European-backed programs.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government.
U.S. President Barack Obama was "deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks," Vietor said.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Theme parks delight the young at heart

Sesame Street Safari, Thomas Town geared toward younger kids

The negotiations went right down to the wire.
Was he persuasive enough? Would she back away from the deal at the last moment?
I smile thinking of that hot day at Disney World when my son and older daughter worked so hard to convince their little sister that she really was "grown up" enough (and tall enough) to ride Space Mountain. "So cool!" they told her. "Not too scary," they promised.
It wasn't — at least for 5-year-old Melanie — and she spent the rest of that day and that trip preening about being "a big kid!"
Phew. I'm glad I didn't have to buck her up if she'd decided at the last minute she simply couldn't take the risk that the ride would be too scary. (There's nothing I hate more at theme parks than parents cajoling kids onto rides they aren't ready for.)
So what if you've waited half an hour or more. "Just because he or she may be tall enough doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea. The same goes for parents — and teens — who would prefer to skip the coasters. Don't push a child who's overly scared. Rides taken under such circumstances can be truly frightening," says Dr. David Fassler, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and professor at the University of Vermont.
Don't fudge the height rules either. They are in place for a child's safety. Nor should a child ride an attraction he's outgrown. Always seat a younger child on the inside and make sure they keep their hands and feet inside at all times.

Curfew enforced in Kashmir towns

A curfew is being strictly enforced in parts of Indian-administered Kashmir after a wave of violence between protesters and police over the past month.
Police and paramilitaries have been deployed in the capital Srinagar where three civilians died in police firing on Tuesday.
Anantnag, Pulwana and Kakapora towns are also under curfew.
At least 14 civilians have died in clashes with forces since June.
Many of the deaths have been blamed on the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Life in Srinagar has come to a standstill, and movement of people has been restricted in other affected towns, says the BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar.
Our correspondent says that the curfew in Anantnag has now been in place for eight consecutive days - since three people were killed by police there last week - and there is no sign of the tension diminishing.
A police spokesman said the authorities have decided to deploy the army in some sensitive areas, but no soldiers are out on the streets yet.
Most of the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley has either been under a curfew or shut down for the past few weeks because of protests over the killing of civilians by the police and paramilitary forces.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has defended the security forces, saying they could not be expected constantly to show restraint when they were so often pelted with stones.
The killings of civilian protesters, most of them teenagers, have angered many in the valley.
One newspaper headline described 2010 as the "year of teenage killings" in Kashmir.
Even the pro-India People's Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the government of declaring war on its own people, our correspondent reports.
Hundreds of thousands of troops are based in Kashmir to fight a two-decade insurgency against Indian rule.

Monday, July 5, 2010

BSE Sensex rises 0.2 pct after shaky start

The BSE Sensex climbed 0.2 percent in early trade on Tuesday, with Reliance Industries(RELI.BO) leading the rise, as Asian markets erased most of their early losses.
At 9:01 a.m. (0331 GMT), the 30-share BSE index was up 0.17 percent at 17,471.78 points, after opening 0.2 percent lower. Twenty-two of its components advanced.
The 50-share NSE index was up 0.1 percent at 5,241.25.

Shocking Celebrity Deaths

Marilyn Monroe   

Marilyn Monroe's beauty, vulnerability, and innocence made her one of the most recognized faces of all time. Monroe reached stardom with films such as 'Gentlemen prefer blondes', 'How to marry a Millionaire', and 'The Seven Year Itch'. She even won a Golden Globe for 'Some like it Hot'.

The 36-year-old actress was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychoanalyst Ralph S Greenson on August 5, 1962. The death was supposedly caused by an overdose of sleeping pills given by her housekeeper Eunice Murray. [Wonder if that's any relation to Dr. Conrad Murray.] Monroe was naked, atop her telephone on her bed, with unhealthy levels of barbiturates in her bloodstream.

Monroe's demise is steeped in mystery and has captured the imagination of many conspiracy theorists who link her death to the FBI and even US president Johny F Kennedy and his brother, Robert.

Princess Diana

With her marriage to Charles, prince of Wales, on July 29, 1981, Princess Diana became an international media figure and world icon. She had two children with Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry. The couple divorced on August 28, 1996.

On Sunday, August 31, 1997, the world was shocked to learn of a car accident in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris that took the life of Diana, princess of Wales.

In the car were Dodi Fayed, her Egyptian millionaire lover and the driver of the Mercedes-Benz W140, Henri Paul, neither of whom survived. Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, was the only survivor though he suffered extensive head injuries.

The crash was attributed to intoxication and the use of anti-depressants on the part of Henri Paul, who lost control of the car at high speed as he tried to escape the pursuing paparazzi.

Dodi's father, Mohamed al-Fayed, claimed that there was a larger conspiracy behind the accident and accused MI6 and Prince Phillip, duke of Edinburgh, of planning it.

Diana's death was met with public expressions of grief, and her public funeral at Westminster Abbey in London on September 6 drew an estimated three million mourners.
Anna Nicole Smith

Anna Nicole Smith, former nude centerfold model and actress, was a prominent television personality in the US. She was also starring in her own reality show called 'The Anna Nicole Show'.

Smith died on February 8, 2007, at the age of 39 as a result of an overdose of prescription drugs. She was found unresponsive in room 607 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Tasma Brighthaupt, Smith's friend, a trained emergency nurse, and her bodyguard husband Maurice Brighthaupt performed CPR on the celebrity but to no avail.

The hotel front desk was alerted and security called 911. Paramedics arrived and Smith was rushed to hospital at 2:10pm where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The official report said her death was not considered a homicide, suicide, or one resulting from natural causes.

The paternity of Smith's newborn daughter Danielynn was another controversy with Smith's personal attorney Howard Stern and her ex-lover Larry Birkhead both claiming to be the father. Danielynn's birth certificate listed Howard Stern as her father. But a DNA test revealed with 99.9% certainty that Birkhead was the father.

Prior to her death, Smith was dealing with the death of her son, Daniel, 20, who died in his mother's hospital room while visiting her and his newborn sister. An autopsy said Daniel Smith died of "combined drug intoxication" with the sleeping medication chloral hydrate as the 'major component'. 

The Murphy's

A multi-faceted artiste, Brittany Murphy starred in films such as 'Cluesless'; 'Girl Interrupted'; '8 Mile' and 'Sin City'. She was the voice of Luanne Platter on the animated series 'King of the Hill' and had also released a hit single 'Faster kill Pussycat' among other songs.

On December 20, 2009, Murphy had apparently collapsed in her bathroom. Firefighters attempted to resuscitate her. She went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

An autopsy performed on December 21, 2009, said the primary cause of Murphey's death was pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anaemia and multiple drug intoxication involving legal over-the-counter and prescription medication.

Five months after Murphy's death, her film producer widower Simon Monjack was found dead at the same Hollywood Hills residence. Investigation into the cause of his death is underway.

Murphy's final film, 'Abandoned', is expected to be released this year.

James Dean

Though James Dean, 24 years old at the time of his death, had leading roles in only three films ('East of Eden' being the only one to be released in his lifetime), he remains a symbol of rebellion. His most famous film, 'Rebel without a Cause', epitomized Dean's place in pop culture.

The fateful accident which took the promising young actor's life occurred on September 30, 1955, when Dean, along with his mechanic Rolf Wuetherich, was driving his new Porsche 550 Spyder to an auto rally in Salinas, California.

At around 5:30pm (after the actor had already been pulled over once for speeding), as Dean was driving on Highway 466, the Porsche collided into a 1950 Ford Tutor driven by 23-year-old Donald Turnupseed as he was attempting to make a left turn on to Highway 4.1. Turnupseed received minor injuries from the accident. Wuetherich was thrown from the Porsche and survived the crash. Dean, however, was killed in the accident.

Sugary-drink ban starts to affect S.F. sites

Coca-Cola is out, and soy milk is now part of San Francisco's official city policy.
Under an executive order from Mayor Gavin Newsom, Coke, Pepsi and Fanta Orange are no longer allowed in vending machines on city property, although their diet counterparts are - up to a point.
Newsom's directive, issued in April but whose practical impacts are starting to be felt now, bars calorically sweetened beverages from vending machines on city property.
That includes non-diet sodas, sports drinks and artificially sweetened water. Juice must be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice with no added sweeteners. Diet sodas can be no more than 25 percent of the items offered, the directive says.
There should be "ample choices" of water, "soy milk, rice milk and other similar dairy or non dairy milk," says the directive, which also covers fat and sugar content in vending machine snacks.
It's all part of Newsom's effort to combat obesity and improve San Franciscans' health, similar to a national effort being championed by first lady Michelle Obama.
The mayor's administration points to studies linking soda to obesity, including a UCLA one released last year that found adults who drink at least one soft drink a day are 27 percent more likely to be obese than those who don't, and that soda consumption is fueling the state's $41 billion annual obesity problem. The study also found that 41 percent of children and 62 percent of teens drink at least one soda daily.
"There's a direct link between what people eat and drink and the obesity and health care crises in this country," Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said. "It's entirely appropriate and not at all intrusive for city government to take steps to discourage the sale of sugary sodas on city property."

Restricting soda

San Francisco certainly isn't the first municipality to set nutritional standards for vending machines on public property. The state and at least four counties have adopted or have recommendations for similar policies. Santa Clara County's policy, adopted in 2008, is not as restrictive as San Francisco's, allowing up to half of vending machine content to be standard soda. It's unclear how strict the other policies are.
Bob Achermann, executive director of the California/Nevada Soft Drink Association industry group, said he hasn't received complaints about San Francisco's rule, but said "it certainly sounds a bit proscriptive."
"This is all about choice. There is probably nothing more personal than what you drink and eat," Achermann said. "Singling out beverages in this whole equation of how to fight obesity is not going to be the answer."

A multifaceted approach

Newsom floated the idea last year of imposing a fee on retailers that sell soda but has yet to follow through with legislation. His administration says it's trying a multifaceted approach to tackling obesity, including the Shape Up San Francisco exercise program and periodic Sunday street closures to encourage outside activity.
"This is not about the soda police or a crackdown on soda," Winnicker said. "People absolutely remain free to choose to drink unhealthy sugary sodas anywhere they want."
Selling them is another matter.
While the mayor's order contains exceptions for vending machines covered under already negotiated contracts, it directs department heads to have new contracts conform to the new standards.
That's the case in the current bidding process for a five-year lease to run a cafe in the basement of City Hall. The vending machine requirement will also be included when bids go out for a cafe at the Hall of Justice, Deputy City Administrator Amy Brown said.
Chong Park, who's managed the City Hall Café for nine years, says she averages less than $100 a month on her cut from two gleaming red Coca-Cola machines at the doors to her cafe. But with the future lease on the space up for grabs, she's trying to bring the stock in her refrigerator cases in line with Newsom's directive, and that's going to impact her bottom line, Park said.
She gets about 15 percent of her business selling those sodas, and replacing them with 100 percent juice will be expensive, Park said.
"The future is going to be affected," Park said. "But I don't want to be in trouble with the mayor. I like him very much."
Reem Nasra, who runs the Mint cafe at the Civic Center branch of San Francisco Superior Court, has put in a bid for the City Hall cafe.
"As far as meeting the guidelines," Nasra said, "I don't have any issues with that."

Three Dead in Plane Crash Near N.J. Airport

(AP)  A small airplane aborted a landing at an airport before crashing at a nearby commercial strip and bursting into flames, killing a doctor and two relatives, authorities said. 

It appeared the plane was descending for a landing at the Essex County Airport in Fairfield when the pilot pulled up Monday evening, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. The plane, which had taken off from upstate New York, crashed moments later just north of the airport on a grassy patch surrounded by businesses and warehouses. 

Manhattan rheumatologist Margaret D. Smith, 70, was piloting the four-seater plane and died along with Michael Ferguson, 44, and his wife, Theresa Ferguson, Fairfield police Deputy Chief Steven Gutkin said. The three were the only people on the single-engine plane, a Cirrus SR22, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Holly Baker said. 

Smith was the senior associate dean at New York Medical College and was a professor of clinical medicine. The school had no immediate comment Monday night. 

The flight originated in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a city next to Lake Champlain close to the Canadian border. It was unclear what caused it to crash, authorities said. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were on their way to the scene. 

Witnesses said they heard two explosions before the plane crashed. They said the wreckage became a fireball. Only the plane's tail section remained intact after the crash and the intense fire. 

Witness Garfield Smith, who's not related to the pilot, said he and co-workers were inside the Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning offices when they were startled by a blast outside. 

"When the crash hit, you could tell it wasn't a car," Smith told Newark's The Star-Ledger newspaper. "It was much louder than that." 

The workers heard another blast when they went outside, he said. No injuries on the ground were immediately reported. 

The crash might have been deadlier, authorities said, had it not happened on a Monday during a long July 4 holiday weekend, when some workers were observing the holiday and fewer were around. 

"If this had happened tomorrow, it could have been a drastically different scene," Gutkin said.