Wall Street Week Ahead: Attention turns to financial earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; editing by Rodrigo Campos)

Read More..

Armstrong will answer 'honestly' during Oprah talk

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong said he will answer questions "directly, honestly and candidly" during an interview with Oprah Winfrey next week. He will also apologize and make a limited confession to using performance-enhancing drugs, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Armstrong has spent more than a decade denying that he doped to win the Tour de France seven times. Without saying whether he would confess or apologize during the taping, Armstrong told The Associated Press in a text message early Saturday, "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."

A confession would be a stunning reversal for Armstrong after years of public statements, interviews and court battles from Austin to Europe in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.

Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from the sport for life last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping agency issued a detailed report accusing him of leading a sophisticated and brazen drug program on his U.S. Postal Service teams that included steroids, blood boosters and a range of performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong's interview with Winfrey is not expected to go into great detail about specific allegations levied in the more than 1,000-page USADA report. But Armstrong will make a general confession and apologize, according to the person, who requested anonymity because there was no authorization to speak publicly. Several outlets had also reported that Armstrong was considering a confession.

Armstrong hasn't responded to the USADA report or being stripped of his Tour de France titles. But shortly afterward, he tweeted a picture of himself on a couch at home with all seven of the yellow leader's jerseys on display in a room at his home in Austin. He also agreed to be interviewed there, in what the Oprah Winfrey Network announced would be a "no-holds barred" session. That's scheduled to be taped Monday and broadcast Thursday night.

"His reputation is in crisis," said crisis management expert Mike Paul, president of New York-based, MGP & Associates PR. "Most people don't trust what comes out of his mouth. He has to be truly repentant and humble."

He also has to be careful.

Armstrong is facing legal challenges on several fronts, including a federal whistle-blower lawsuit brought by former teammate Floyd Landis, who himself was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title, accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service. The U.S. Justice Department has yet to announce whether it will join the case.

The London-based Sunday Times is also suing Armstrong to recover about $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel lawsuit, and Dallas-based SCA Promotions has threatened to bring yet another lawsuit against Armstrong to recover more than $7.5 million an arbitration panel awarded him as a bonus for winning the Tour de France.

The only lawsuit potentially impacted by a confession might be the Sunday Times case. Potential perjury charges stemming from his sworn testimony in the 2005 arbitration fight would not apply because of the statute of limitations. Armstrong was not deposed during a federal investigation that was closed last year without charges being brought.

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

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

He may also be hoping a confession would allow him to return to competition in the elite triathlon or running events he participated in after his cycling career. But World Anti-Doping Code rules state his lifetime ban cannot be reduced to less than eight years. WADA and U.S. Anti-Doping officials could agree to reduce the ban further depending on what new information Armstrong provides and his level of cooperation. USADA chief Travis Tygart did not return a call Saturday from the AP.

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


AP Sports Columnist Jim Litke and AP Radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.

Read More..

Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets

A team of amateurs has discovered evidence for 42 alien planets, including a Jupiter-size world that could potentially be habitable, by sifting through data from a NASA spacecraft.

Forty volunteers with the crowd-sourcing Planet Hunters project discovered the new planet candidates, which include 15 potentially habitable worlds and PH2 b, a Jupiter-size planet that the team confirmed to be in the habitable zone of its parent star.

This is the second time Planet Hunters project, which is overseen by Zooniverse, has confirmed a new exoplanet discovery. What’s more, several candidate planets found by the project may be in the habitable zones of their parent stars. These candidates are awaiting confirmation by professional astronomers.

Researchers suggested this bonanza of planets in the so-called Goldilocks zone around a star, a habitable zone in which conditions are liquid water to exist on a planet’s surface and potentially supportlife, could mean there is a “traffic jam” of worlds where life could exist, project officials said.

“These are planet candidates that slipped through the net, being missed by professional astronomers and rescued by volunteers in front of their web browsers,” said the University of Oxford’s Chris Lintott, who helms the Zooniverse, in a statement. “It’s remarkable to think that absolutely anyone can discover a planet.”

Life on an ‘Avatar’-like moon

The planet PH2 b was found using data from NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope and confirmed with 99.9 percent confidence by observations at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Ph2 b is considered much too large to host life. However, any moons orbiting the planet could be strong candidates, astronomers said. The atmospheric temperature on the planet would range between 86 and minus 126 degrees Fahrenheit (30 and minus 88 degrees Celsius) in the habitable zone.

“Any moon around this newly discovered, Jupiter-sized planet might be habitable,” stated Ji Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University. He is lead author of a paper about the discoveries, which has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and is available on the pre-publishing website Arxiv.

If a theoretical moon were to host life, it would likely have a rocky core, plus a greenhouse atmosphere of some sort that could have liquid water on its surface, the researchers said.

“It’s very similar to what was depicted in the movie ‘Avatar’ – the habitable moon Pandora around a giant planet, Polyphemus,” Wang added.

A telltale dim

Volunteers spotted PH2 b by watching its parent star. As the planet passed in front of the star, the apparent brightness from Earth dimmed.

This is one of two commonly used techniques for finding exoplanets; the other is looking for wobbles in a star’s gravityas a planet speeds around it.

Excluding PH2 b, citizen scientists recently discovered 42 planetary candidates, with 20 of those likely in their respective stars’ habitable regions.

“These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances,” the paper stated.

Planet Hunters includes participation from Oxford, Yale and several other institutions. Volunteers pour over data from Kepler. Once the strongest candidates are identified, professional astronomers take a look at them.

Planet Hunters has found 48 candidate planets so far. The first confirmed planet, PH1, was revealed in October 2011.

To learn how to participate in the Planet Hunters project, visit: http://www.planethunters.org/

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

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

Title Post: Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/amateur-astronomers-discover-42-alien-planets/
Link To Post : Amateur Astronomers Discover 42 Alien Planets

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

Read More..

Abandoning Afghanistan a bad idea

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen

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

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

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

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

Security Clearance: Afghanistan options emerge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more: Inside the Taliban

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

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

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

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

Read related: Afghanistan vet finds a new way to serve

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

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

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

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

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

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

Read More..

Kelly to stay at Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly will remain Notre Dame's football coach, the school announced Saturday.

"This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach," Kelly said in a statement released by the school.

"Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame."

Kelly interviewed with the Eagles on Tuesday, the day after the Irish's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game, but no word had emanated from South Bend on the status of the discussions until Saturday.

"This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country," Kelly said. "We still have a lot of work to do and my staff and I are excited about the challenges ahead."

An extension and raise have been on the table for Kelly since well before the BCS title game took place and the process toward that is expected to continue.

"I was always confident that Brian would continue to lead our football program," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "I am very happy to have that confirmed and share Brian's excitement about what lies ahead for our program.

"I appreciate the Eagles reaching out to request permission to speak with Brian, and I also appreciate Brian keeping me fully informed throughout this process. We all look forward to what’s ahead for Notre Dame football."


Twitter @ChiTribHamilton

Read More..

Russia rejects Assad exit as precondition for Syria deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More..

Wall Street ends flat as rally slows, earnings eyed

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

Overall earnings are expected to grow by just 1.9 percent in this season, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts say that, with the bar low, there's room for companies to beat expectations, and that may have contributed to the rise in stocks so far in 2013.

That rally has slowed in the last few days.

"It's a market that is waiting for more of a catalyst from earnings," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

The S&P 500 index has gained 5 percent over the last two weeks to take the benchmark to five-year highs.

Wells Fargo & Co set a weak tone Friday after it reported results. It showed lower fourth-quarter net interest margin - a key measure of how much money banks make from loans - even as profit jumped.

The bank, which was the first major financial institution to report results this earnings season, also made fewer mortgage loans than in the third quarter.

Wells Fargo ended down 0.8 percent at $35.10, off its lows for the day, while bank shares weighed on the broader market. The S&P 500 financial sector index <.gspf> fell 0.3 percent after rallying more than 1 percent on Thursday.

Bank of America Corp , JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup Inc are due to report results next week, as are other major companies including General Electric and Intel .

An agreement reached in Washington at the start of the year over the "fiscal cliff" saw investors in U.S.-based funds add $7.53 billion to stock mutual funds in the week ended Jan 9, the most since 2001, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed.

"The money poured into the market at the beginning of the year and you're going to need new money to bring this market higher," said Krosby. She said that in the short-term the market has a bias toward moving higher, even though it is overbought.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 17.21 points, or 0.13 percent, to 13,488.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> dipped 0.07 points to 1,472.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> added 3.88 points, or 0.12 percent, to 3,125.64.

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

Boeing weighed on the Dow after a cracked cockpit window and an oil leak on separate flights in Japan added to problems with some of its Dreamliner 787 jets, compounding safety concerns about the new aircraft.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said the jet would be subject to a review of its critical systems by regulators. Boeing was the biggest loser on the Dow, falling 2.5 percent to $75.16.

Best Buy rallied after its results showed a small turnaround in U.S. stores, though same-store sales were flat during the key holiday season. Its shares jumped 16.4 percent to $14.21, making it the best performer on the S&P 500.

Dendreon Corp surged 21 percent to $6.17 after Sanford C. Bernstein upgraded the drugmaker's stock to "outperform" from "market-perform" and said it could be one of the best performers in 2013.

Volume was below the 2012 average of 6.42 billion shares traded a day, with roughly 5.93 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT.

Advancers outpaced decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,578 to 1,393, while advancers narrowly outnumbered decliners on the Nasdaq by 1,228 to 1,223.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Alabama's Lacy, Milliner, Fluker enter NFL draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More..

Man mauled by Bronx Zoo tiger pleads not guilty to trespassing

(Reuters) – A man who was mauled after leaping into a Siberian tiger’s den at the Bronx Zoo in September pleaded not guilty to criminal trespassing charges on Friday.

David Villalobos, 25, jumped off of the zoo’s elevated monorail and into the tiger enclosure on the afternoon of September 21, according to the criminal complaint against him. He was released until his next court appearance on March 12, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney’s office said.

Villalobos said he jumped into the tiger’s den for spiritual reasons.

“I was testing my natural fear,” Villalobos said, according to the complaint. “I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”

During his ten minutes with a 400-pound (180-kg) Siberian tiger named Bashuta, he sustained multiple bites or puncture wounds on his arms, legs and shoulder. The zoo’s emergency workers rescued him by scaring the tiger away with a fire extinguisher.

(Reporting by Peter Rudegeair and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Greg McCune and Marguerita Choy)

Animal and Pets News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Man mauled by Bronx Zoo tiger pleads not guilty to trespassing
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/man-mauled-by-bronx-zoo-tiger-pleads-not-guilty-to-trespassing/
Link To Post : Man mauled by Bronx Zoo tiger pleads not guilty to trespassing

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

Read More..

Saudi execution: Brutal and illegal?


  • Saudi authorities beheaded Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo Becker

Jo Becker

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

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

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

Read more: Indonesian maid escapes execution in Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

Passport photo of Rizana Nafeek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More..

Ald. Sandi Jackson resigns from Chicago City Council

Chicago Tribune political editor Eric Krol phones in to discuss the resignation of Alderman Sandi Jackson and the future of the Chicago City Council. (Posted: January 11, 2013).

Ald. Sandi Jackson has resigned from the Chicago City Council.

The 7th Ward alderman submitted her resignation letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel today. It is effective Tuesday.

"After much consideration and while dealing with very painful family health matters, I have met with my family and determined that the constituents of the 7th Ward, as well as you Mr. Mayor, and my colleagues in the City Council deserve a partner who can commit all of their energies to the business of the people. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as Alderman of 7th Ward, effective January 15, 2013," reads the letter released by the mayor's office.

Ald. Jackson's resignation comes after her husband, Jesse Jackson Jr., resigned from Congress before Thanksgiving amid federal ethics probes and a diagnois of bipolar depression.

Talk swirled around City Hall that Ald. Jackson also would step down, but she remained on the council until Friday afternoon.

Emanuel put out a statement about the resignation.

"As Sandi takes this time to focus on her family, we give her our deepest thanks and support for her service to our City and the residents of her ward.  Her leadership has been greatly appreciated in the Chicago City Council," the statement read.

"The process to identify a replacement for Alderman Jackson to serve and represent the residents of Chicago’s 7th ward will be announced early next week."

A month ago, amid rumors that she was considering a run to replace her husband in Congress, Jackson denied she was interested in the job and said she wouldn’t resign from the City Council unless "something catastrophic happens.”
At the same time, she also said she was undecided about whether to move back to Chicago from Washington, D.C., where the couple lives with their children.

"I will finish my term. I intend to finish my term," Ald. Jackson said then. "Unless something catastrophic happens -- I could step outside and get hit by a bus today."

Her husband, in his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner in November, appeared to try to shield his wife in the federal ethics investigation. "I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone," the former congressman wrote. "None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties, and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right."
The former congressman paid his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to act as his political consultant.

Ald. Jackson could not be reached for comment.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., the former congressman’s father and the former council member’s father-in-law, was reached Friday afternoon by telephone, but had no comment on her resignation.

Read More..

Obama, Karzai agree to speed up Afghan military transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precisely how much of an acceleration was unclear.

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

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

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

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

Read More..

Wall Street climbs as China data puts S&P back at five-year high

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Thursday and the S&P 500 ended at a fresh five-year high as stronger-than-expected exports from China spurred optimism about global growth prospects.

Buying accelerated late in the day after the S&P 500 broke through technical resistance at 1,466.47, which was the market's closing level last Friday and the highest level since December 2007.

"Historically, January is a positive month for the market and you're seeing that play out," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial in Westport, Connecticut.

Financial and energy stocks were the day's top gainers. The financial sector index <.gspf> rose 1.4 percent and the energy sector <.gspe> was up 1 percent.

Analysts cited economic data out of China as the day's catalyst, which showed the country's export growth rebounded sharply to a seven-month high in December, a strong finish to the year after seven straight quarters of slowdown.

"It is being interpreted positively that they've stopped the downturn (in growth)," said Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.

"If they continue to produce good growth, that's going to be supportive of our global manufacturers."

Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index <.vix> suggested markets were relatively calm. The VIX was down 2.3 percent at 13.49.

At Thursday's close, the S&P sits about 6 percent below its all-time closing high of 1,565.15, hit in October 2007.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 80.71 points, or 0.60 percent, to 13,471.22. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 11.10 points, or 0.76 percent, to 1,472.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> added 15.95 points, or 0.51 percent, to 3,121.76.

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

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

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

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

"It's a resolution. It's not hanging over their heads," said Brunner.

Bank of America gained 3.1 percent to $11.78, while Morgan Stanley was up 3.7 percent at $20.34, one day after sources said the bank plans to cut jobs.

Shares of upscale jeweler Tiffany dropped 4.5 percent to $60.40 after it said sales were flat during the holidays.

Herbalife Ltd stepped up its defense against activist investor Bill Ackman, stressing it was a legitimate company with a mission to improve nutrition and help public health. The stock ended down 1.8 percent at $39.24 after a volatile day.

After the closing bell, American Express said it would cut about 5,400 jobs, and take about $600 million in after-tax charges in the fourth quarter. The stock added 0.7 percent to $61.20 in after-hours trade.

Volume was above the 2012 average of 6.42 billion shares traded a day, with roughly 6.77 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,916 to 1,039, while advancers also outpaced decliners on the Nasdaq by 1,439 to 1,036.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Researchers: NFL's Seau had from brain disease

When he ended his life last year by shooting himself in the chest, Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease often linked with repeated blows to the head.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health said Thursday the former NFL star's abnormalities are consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The hard-hitting linebacker played for 20 NFL seasons with San Diego, Miami and New England before retiring in 2009. He died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May, and his family requested the analysis of his brain.

"We saw changes in his behavior and things that didn't add up with him," his ex-wife, Gina, told The Associated Press. "But (CTE) was not something we considered or even were aware of. But pretty immediately (after the suicide) doctors were trying to get their hands on Junior's brain to examine it."

The NIH, based in Bethesda, Md., studied three unidentified brains, one of which was Seau's, and said the findings on Seau were similar to autopsies of people "with exposure to repetitive head injuries."

"It was important to us to get to the bottom of this, the truth," Gina Seau added, "and now that it has been conclusively determined from every expert that he had obviously had CTE, we just hope it is taken more seriously. You can't deny it exists, and it is hard to deny there is a link between head trauma and CTE. There's such strong evidence correlating head trauma and collisions and CTE."

In the final years of his life, Seau had wild behavioral swings, according to Gina and to 23-year-old son, Tyler, along with signs of irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The players' union called the NIH report on Seau "tragic."

"The only way we can improve the safety of players, restore the confidence of our fans and secure the future of our game is to insist on the same quality of medical care, informed consent and ethical standards that we expect for ourselves and for our family members," the NFLPA said in a statement.

"This is why the players have asked for things like independent sideline concussion experts, the certification and credentialing of all professional football medical staff and a fairer workers compensation system in professional football," it said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More..

NASA Announces Launch of New Earth-Observing Satellite

NASA announced today (Jan. 10) the upcoming launch of a new satellite, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), to monitor Earth’s landscape and the changes to it.

The new satellite, scheduled to launch Feb. 11, will take the place of the Landsat 5 satellite, which is to be decommissioned in the coming months, the U.S. Geological Survey reported in December.

LDCM carries two new instruments, the Operational Land Imager and the Thermal Infrared Sensor. These will allow it to create better images than any previous Landsat mission and make it “more sensitive to changes in land surface over time,” said Jim Irons, LDCM project scientist, during a news conference today.

The satellite is 19 feet (6 meters) long and weighs about 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms), making it the size of a large SUV, said Ken Schwer, LDCM project manager based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., along with Irons. LDCM’s size is relatively large for an Earth-observing satellite, Schwer said.

LDCM will orbit 438 miles (705 kilometers) over the Earth’s surface, and follow the same track as Landsat 5, to pick up where the old satellite leaves off, Schwer said. [Amazing Astronaut Images of Earth]

The satellite has already been transported to the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where it will be launched. Afterward, it will be renamed Landsat 8, and will be operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). It will circle the Earth about 14 times daily and return over each location on Earth every 16 days as its orbit moves over different latitudes, according to NASA.

The data the satellite collects will be free to the public and used for a variety of purposes. It will help monitor tropical deforestation, urban expansion, impacts of natural disasters and glacial melting, Irons said. As has been the case during the Landsat program’s 40-year history, information collected will help make informed decisions regarding land use for urban areas and agriculture, and to help manage natural resources such as forests and fresh water, he said. 

“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that all 7 billion of us will benefit from the LDCM,” Irons said.

The LDCM will collect more and better data than the Landsat 5, but can only hope to last as long, scientists said. Landsat 5 is the longest-operating Earth-observing satellite mission in history, according to the USGS. Launched in 1984 with a three-year design life, it has been taking images and recording changes on the Earth’s surface ever since. The satellite almost failed several times, but engineers brought it back to life. However, the recent failure of a gyroscope (which helps satellites maintain their orientation) left no option but to end the mission, the USGS said in its release.

“Any major event since 1984 that left a mark on this Earth larger than a football field was likely recorded by Landsat 5, whether it was a hurricane, a tsunami, a wildfire, deforestation or an oil spill,” USGS Director Marcia McNutt said in the statement. “We look forward to a long and productive continuation of the Landsat program, but it is unlikely there will ever be another satellite that matches the outstanding longevity of Landsat 5.”

The satellite monitored the effects of the devastating floods along the Mississippi River in 2011, snapped an image of the path of a tornado in Massachusetts that same year, and helped the effort to battle raging wildfires in Arizona.

LDCM, like Landsat 5, is a collaboration between NASA and the USGS that will continue the Landsat program’s 40-year data record of monitoring Earth from space. Landsat 5 has orbited the globe more than 150,000 times and recorded more than 2.5 million images.

Reach Douglas Main at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

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

Title Post: NASA Announces Launch of New Earth-Observing Satellite
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/nasa-announces-launch-of-new-earth-observing-satellite/
Link To Post : NASA Announces Launch of New Earth-Observing Satellite

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

Read More..

Panel recommends against closing any Chicago public high schools


(Tribune illustration / April 9, 2012)

No high schools would be shut down under proposals in a preliminary report from the commission on school closings appointed by Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

Taking high schools out of the equation was the biggest surprise in the report, which also recommended that the district’s best-performing schools, classified as Level 1, as well as Level 2 schools that are showing progress, not be considered for closing.

The commission also recommends that schools that have recently been consolidated, and schools in a “turnaround” academic situation, not be closed.

CPS has said utilization will be the key factor in closing schools, but the commission recommends that under-utilized schools that are in the process of adding grades be kept open. So should schools with more than 600 students, under the report’s proposals.

Faced with dwindling enrollment, the district is expected to close a number of schools at the end of this school year – sources in September said 80 to 120 schools could be on the block.

District officials have said they are awaiting full recommendations from the Commission on School Utilization in early  March before they release an actual list of schools to be closed.

While CPS has said it will take the recommendations into account, Byrd-Bennett has also said the district is not bound to follow all the suggestions.

The district has identified more than 300 “under-enrolled” schools.

The commission has held meetings with residents and community groups across the city, but its role in the school closing process has repeatedly come into question by those who oppose school closings. Critics have also questioned the ability of the commission to remain independent from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school administration.

While Byrd-Bennett has said she expects a list of schools to close from the commission. Commission members have said they are not expected to provide a list of schools to target only recommendations on “the best method” to identify schools for closing and which schools should be removed from consideration.

Read More..

String of bombings kill 101, injure 200 in Pakistan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But sectarian tensions are not the only source of violence.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read More..

Wall Street rises after Alcoa reports earnings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Wednesday, rebounding from two days of losses, as investors turned their focus to the first prominent results of the earnings season.

Stocks had retreated at the start of the week from the S&P 500's highest point in five years, hit last Friday, on worries about possible earnings weakness.

Shares of Alcoa Inc were down 0.5 percent to $9.08 after early gains, following the company's earnings release after the bell on Tuesday. The largest U.S. aluminum producer said it expects global demand for aluminum to grow in 2013.

Herbalife Ltd stock rose 4.2 percent to $39.95 in its most active day of trading in the company's history after hedge fund manager Dan Loeb took a large stake in the nutritional supplements seller. Prominent short-seller Bill Ackman had previously accused the company of being a "pyramid scheme," which Herbalife has denied.

Traders have been cautious as the current quarter shaped up like the previous one, with companies recently lowering expectations, said James Dailey, portfolio manager of Team Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Lower expectations leave room for companies to surprise investors even if their results are not particularly strong.

"The big question and focus is on revenue, and Alcoa had better-than-expected revenue," which calmed the market a little, Dailey said.

Overall, corporate profits were expected to beat the previous quarter's meager 0.1 percent rise. Both earnings and revenues in the fourth quarter are expected to have grown by 1.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 61.66 points, or 0.46 percent, to 13,390.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 3.87 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,461.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> gained 14.00 points, or 0.45 percent, to 3,105.81.

Facebook Inc shares rose above $30 for the first time since July 2012, trading up 5.3 percent at $30.59. Facebook, which has been tight-lipped about its plans after its botched IPO in May, invited the media to its headquarters next week.

Clearwire Corp shares jumped 7.2 percent to $3.13 after Dish Network bid $2.28 billion for the company, beating out a previous Sprint offer and setting the stage for a takeover battle for the wireless service provider that owns crucial mobile spectrum.

Apollo Group Inc slid after heavier early losses, a day after it reported lower student sign-ups for the third straight quarter and cut its operating profit outlook for 2013. Apollo's shares were last off 7.8 percent at $19.32.

Volume was below the 2012 average of 6.42 billion shares traded per day, as 6.10 billion were traded on the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE MKT and Nasdaq.

Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,014 to 963, while on the Nasdaq advancers beat decliners 1,603 to 859.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Bonds, Clemens rejected; no one elected to BB Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Read More..

Underwater Robots Hear 9 Endangered Whales

Two underwater robots outfitted with equipment to detect whale song heard the calls of nine critically endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month, just east of New England.

The whales are thought to use the area to mate between November and January, according to a release from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, whose researchers led the project.

The finding was reported to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Fisheries Services, which is charged with protecting these animals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The agency put in place a “dynamic management area,” meaning mariners in the area were asked to slow their vessels to avoid striking the animals.

The robots also detected fin, sei and humpback whales in the area, the first time autonomous vehicles have recorded songs of multiple whale species. The animals were recorded about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Bar Harbor, Maine, according to the release. Besides listening for whale song, the robots also tested a number of variables to see why the area might be an appealing breeding ground, measuring water temperature and salinity, as well as samples of water to look for tiny animals called zookplankton upon which the whales feed.

Detecting whale song

The 6-foot-long (1.8 meters) underwater robots look like yellow torpedoes, and use a quiet motor to submerge themselves before surfacing every few hours to transmit data back to computers and researchers on land.

The information the robots provide is essential for understanding the whale’s behavior in this area, which is little studied since the animals usually pass through in the late fall and winter when temperatures are freezing and weather is unforgiving, the release noted.

Detection of the whale song allowed researchers aboard the research vessel, Endeavor, to locate the whales and take photographs of them. This allowed scientists to identify four previously known right whales. The robots represent a large improvement of the previous methods used to find whales: the human eye.

“We’ve been doing visual based surveys for a long time — either from a plane or a boat,” said Sofie Van Parijs, a collaborating researcher, in the statement. “They have a lot of value, but they are limited, especially at certain times of the year. These gliders provide a great complement to this system. Knowing where right whales are helps you manage interactions between an endangered species and the human activities that impact those species.”

North Atlantic right whales can weigh 140,000 pounds (63,500 kilograms) and grow up to 55 feet (16.7 m), according to NOAA. They are critically endangered, and only 300 to 400 of the animals remain, NOAA reports.

Reach Douglas Main at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We’re also on Facebook and Google+.

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

Title Post: Underwater Robots Hear 9 Endangered Whales
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/underwater-robots-hear-9-endangered-whales/
Link To Post : Underwater Robots Hear 9 Endangered Whales

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

Read More..