skip to main | skip to sidebar

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Migraine Abortive Maxalt Approved for Children 6- to 17-Years-Old


With Migraine, as with many other diseases and conditions, there are fewer medications that have been approved by the FDA for children than there are for adults. Much of this is because we naturally want to protect children, so researchers are reluctant to conduct clinical trials involving children, at least until after a medication has been used by adults for a significant period of time. In December, the FDA granted a supplemental new...

Migraines and Famous Migraineurs - Kristin Chenoweth


In addition to being an Emmy and Tony award winning actress, Kristin Chenoweth lives with Migraines. Born on July 24, 1968, in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, she was adopted by Jerry and Junie Chenoweth shortly after birth. Ms. Chenoweth is quite open about her adoption and knows who her birth parents are, but has no desire to meet them. Both she and her older brother Mark graduated from Broken Arrow High School. Ms. Chenoweth went on and studied...

Global Direct Drive wind turbines Market (2011-2016): Key trends and opportunities, new Installations and product developments and lower-maintenance requirements Will Drive Market Growth


The global direct drive wind turbine market is estimated to reach US$24.7 billion in 2016 at a CAGR of 15.1 percent from 2011 to 2016. The Direct Drive Wind Turbine installation is estimated to reach at 15.6 GW by forecasted period.

Free download Axis: Yahoo Launches Web Browser Axis for PC, iPhone and iPad


free download yahoo browser axis
Yahoo Browser Axis
Google isn’t the only search engine in town with it’s own web browser. Yahoo announced its own new browser Wednesday evening: Axis.

Working seamlessly between your iPhone, iPad and computer Yahoo is aiming to streamline your searches and connect your experience across devices by giving you access to the same information no matter what device you’re accessing it on.

Visual previews of sites in Axis eliminate the traditional step in web searches where you’re looking through links and replaces that experience with an image of the website you’ll be going to. Some searches can even be done without leaving the page you’re on.

Tapping the Axis Bar -– which combines the search box and address bar into one -– will bring up a list of trending searches. You can tap a particular trending search to learn more, or enter your own search term or website address into the bar.

Answers will begin to appear automatically for common searches like movie times and weather, often allowing you to see what you’re looking for without having to leave the page you’re on.

For other searches the browser will create a row of visual previews to websites matching your specific query. You can swipe through the results, and then tap on a picture to visit a specific page. If you don’t like the result you’ve selected you can swipe across the screen to check out the next search result.

An Axis homepage gives you access to the sites you’ve recently visited not only on your iOS device, but also on your home computer or any other device you might use running Axis. So, the homepage on your iPad will show a website you visit frequently on your iPhone, or one you check out often while browsing at home.

Searches can also be continued from one device to another. For instance, a “Continue from iPhone” button will appear on your iPad and allow you to continue viewing search results you were looking at one your phone on a bigger screen.

On your computer

On your computer Axis is a plug-in for your favorite web browser rather than a stand-alone product of its own. Available for Chrome, Firefox, IE, and Safari, the Axis toolbar shows up at the bottom of your web browser and can be used much like the iOS version to see visual previews of sites, and to look up information without leaving the page you’re on.

The homepage option is also available within your browser, allowing you to look at favorite websites and continue viewing search results from your iPhone or iPad.

Axis is available now. What do you think of the web browser. Can you see yourself using it? let us know in the comments.



News by Mashable

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Diablo 3 Is the Fastest-Selling PC Game in History


free download diablo 3 pc game
Diablo 3 PC Game
Blizzard has announced it sold more than 3.5 million copies of Diablo 3 in the first 24 hours after its release, making it the fastest selling PC game in history.

In the first week of sales, Blizzard estimates it sold (based on internal numbers as well as data from key distribution partners) more than 6.3 million copies of the game.

The launch had its share of glitches, though, with many gamers being unable to play the game, since Blizzard’s servers were overwhelmed by millions of user requests.

These issues did not sit well with users, prompting many negative reviews on Metacritic, especially in the first couple of hours after the game’s release. The situation is all the more ironic since Diablo 3 doesn’t really require an online connection for gameplay — for the most part, it’s required as a means of protection from piracy.

Still, this negative experience didn’t seem to hurt the game’s sales, which were excellent — as expected from a game of Diablo‘s caliber.

“We’re definitely thrilled that so many people around the world were excited to pick up their copy of Diablo III and jump in the moment it went live,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, apologizing for the launch glitches. “We also regret that our preparations were not enough to ensure everyone had a seamless experience when they did so. I want to reaffirm our commitment to make sure the millions of Diablo III players out there have a great experience with the game moving forward,” he said.

Buy Diablo III from Amazon here

News by Mashable

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Egyptians vote in first free presidential election


first free presidential election in Egypt
An Egyptian woman votes during the first day of the presidential election in a polling station in Alexandria, Egypt

CAIRO (AP) -- More than 15 months after autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egyptians streamed to polling stations Wednesday to freely choose a president for the first time in generations. Waiting hours in line, some debated to the last minute over their vote in a historic election pitting old regime figures against ascending Islamists.

A sense of amazement at having a choice in the Arab world's first truly competitive presidential election pervaded the crowds in line. So did the fervent expectation over where a new leader will take a country that has been in turmoil ever since its ruler for nearly 30 years was toppled by mass protests.

Some backed Mubarak-era veterans, believing they can bring stability after months of rising crime, a crumbling economy and bloody riots. Others were horrified by the thought, believing the "feloul" - or "remnants" of the regime - will keep Egypt locked in dictatorship and thwart democracy.

Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, saw their chance to lead a country where they were repressed for decades and to implement their version of Islamic law. Their critics recoiled, fearing theocracy.

"You can't tell me, 'Vote for this or else you're a sinner!'" Wael Ramadan argued with another man in line at a polling station in the impoverished Cairo neighborhood of Basateen. "We never said that," protested the man. "Yes, you did," Ramadan shot back.

"The revolution changed a lot. Good things and bad things," Ramadan, a 40-year-old employee at a mobile phone company, said afterward. "The good thing is all this freedom. We are here and putting up with the trouble of waiting in line for electing a president. My vote matters. It is now a right ... Now we want a president that has a vision."

A field of 13 candidates is running in the voting Wednesday and Thursday. The two-day first run is not expected to produce an outright winner, so a runoff between the two top vote-getters will be held June 16-17. The winner will be announced June 21. Around 50 million people are eligible to vote.

An Islamist victory will likely mean a greater emphasis on religion in government. The Muslim Brotherhood, which already dominates parliament, says it won't mimic Saudi Arabia and force women to wear veils or implement harsh punishments like amputations. But it says it does want to implement a more moderate version of Islamic law, which liberals fear will mean limitations on many rights.

Many of the candidates have called for amendments in Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which remains deeply unpopular. None is likely to dump it, but a victory by any of the Islamist or leftist candidates in the race could mean strained ties with Israel and a stronger stance in support of the Palestinians in the peace process. The candidates from the Mubarak's regime - and, ironically, the Brotherhood, which has already held multiple talks with U.S. officials - are most likely to maintain the alliance with the United States.

The real election battle is between four front-runners.

The main Islamist contenders are Mohammed Morsi of the powerful Brotherhood and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a moderate Islamist whose inclusive platform has won him the support of some liberals, leftists and minority Christians.

The two secular front-runners are both veterans of Mubarak's regime - former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and former foreign minister Amr Moussa.

A major worry is whether either side will accept ultimate victory by the other. Many Islamists have warned of a new wave of protests if Shafiq wins, saying his victory could only come from fraud.

So far, there were only a few reports of overt violations of election rules Wednesday, mainly concerning candidates' backers campaigning near polling stations. Three international monitoring organizations, including the U.S.'s Carter Center, were observing the vote. Former President Jimmy Carter, the center's head, visited a polling station in the ancient Cairo district of Sayeda Ayesha.

"You know, there is no such thing as a perfect election," U.S. Congressman David Dreier of California said at a polling center. "But I'm convinced that there is a great degree of sincerity on the part of those that are putting this together."

The election's winner will face a monumental task. The economy has been sliding as the key tourism industry dried up - though it starting to inch back up. Crime has increased. Labor strikes have proliferated.

"May God help the new president," said Zaki Mohammed, a teacher in his 40s as he waited to vote in a district close to the Giza Pyramids. "There will be 82 million pairs of eyes watching him."

And the political turmoil is far from over. The military, which took power after Mubarak's fall on Feb. 11, 2011, has promised to hand authority to the election winner by the end of June. But many fear it will try to maintain a considerable amount of political say. The fundamentals of Mubarak's police state remain in place, including the powerful security forces. The generals have said they have no preferred candidate, but they are widely thought to be favoring Shafiq, a former air force commander.

"We will have an elected president but the military is still here and the old regime is not dismantled," said Ahmed Maher, a prominent activist from the group April 6, a key architect of last year's 18-day uprising against Mubarak.

"But the pressure will continue. We won't sleep. People have finally woken up. Whoever the next president is, we won't leave him alone," he said outside a Cairo polling center.

Moreover, the country must still write a new constitution. That was supposed to be done already, but was delayed after Islamists tried to dominate the constitution-writing panel, prompting a backlash that scuttled the process for the moment.

The Muslim Brotherhood is hoping a Morsi victory in the presidency will cap their political rise, after parliament elections last year gave them nearly half the legislature's seats.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, microbuses run by the Brotherhood ferried women supporters to the polls in the poor neighborhood of Abu Suleiman, one of the group's strongholds. The women, in conservative headscarves or covered head to toe in black robes and veils that hid their faces, filed into the station.

"I want to give the Brotherhood a chance to rule," said Aida Ibrahim, a veteran Brotherhood member who was helping voters find their station. "If it doesn't work, they will be held accountable," she said.

Some Brotherhood supporters cited the group's years of providing charity to the poor - including reduced-price meat, and free medical care. "Whoever fills the tummy gets the vote," said Naima Badawi, a housewife sitting on her doorstep watching voters in Abu Sir, one of the many farming villages near the Pyramids being sucked into Cairo's urban sprawl.

But some who backed the Brotherhood in the parliament election late last year have since been turned off.

"They failed," said Mohammed Ali, in the neighboring Talbiya district. He's gone clear the other direction for this vote: "I am feloul" - pro-Mubarak "remnant," he said. "I don't care. I want a man who is a politician and statesman."

The secular young democracy activists who launched the anti-Mubarak uprising have been at a loss, with no solid candidate reflecting their views.

In Cairo, 27-year-old Ali Ragab said he was voting for a leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi - because the poor "should get a voice," but he admitted Sabahi didn't stand much of a chance.

He said his father and all his father's friends were backing Shafiq "because they think he's a military man who will bring back security. I'm afraid Shafiq would mean another Mubarak for 30 more years."

For most of his rule, Mubarak - like his predecessors for the past 60 years - ran unopposed in yes-or-no referendums. Rampant fraud guaranteed ruling party victories in parliamentary elections. Even when Mubarak let challengers oppose him in 2005 elections, he ended up not only trouncing his liberal rival but jailing him.

The election comes less than two weeks before a court is due to issue its verdict on Mubarak, 84, who has been on trial on charges of complicity in the killing of some 900 protesters during the uprising. He also faces corruption charges, along with his two sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa.

The feeling of being able to make a choice was overwhelming for some voters.

"I might die in a matter of months, so I came for my children, so they can live," a tearful Medhat Ibrahim, 58, who suffers from cancer, said as he waited to vote in a poor district south of Cairo. "We want to live better, like human beings."


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Football star Donald Driver is new `Dancing' champ


Donald Drive and Murgatroyd at celebrity dance competition
This Monday, May 14, 2012 photo shows Donald Drive, left, and his partner Peta Murgatroyd performing on the celebrity dance competition series "Dancing with the Stars," in Los Angeles.



LOS ANGELES (AP) -- He already has a Super Bowl ring, and now football star Donald Driver can add the "Dancing With the Stars" mirrorball trophy to his awards collection.

The Green Bay Packers receiver won the ABC dance show Tuesday after wowing audiences and judges with his kickin' country-themed freestyle routine. He and partner Peta Murgatroyd hoisted the glittery prize above their heads after being named the new "Dancing" champs.

Streamers and confetti rained down from the ceiling, filling the ballroom as they celebrated. Driver's wife and children joined him on the dance floor.

With just one point separating the three finalists, it was up to the viewers to pick the winner.

He and his fellow finalists, Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and Cuban actor William Levy, each earned perfect scores for their last performances Tuesday. Jenkins came into the final contest with a perfect 60 points; Driver and Levy each had 59.

Judges' scores combined with viewer votes determined the result.

Contestants eliminated throughout the show's 10-week season reunited for the two-hour finale. Martina Navratilova, Gavin DeGraw, Jack Wagner, Jaleel White, Sherri Shepherd, Melissa Gilbert, Roshon Fegan, Maria Menounos and Gladys Knight all donned costumes Tuesday for one last dance.

Knight did double performance duty, also singing "The Way We Were." Kelly Clarkson also performed on the show.

The next round of "Dancing With the Stars" will feature contestants from past seasons.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

North Korea upgrading rocket launch site


North Korea upgrading rocket launch site
This April 29, 2012 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows what appears to be the initial stages of construction of a rocket assembly building at Musudan-ri in northeastern North Korea.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Satellite imagery shows North Korea is upgrading its old launch site in the secretive country's northeast to handle larger rockets, like space launch vehicles and intercontinental missiles, a U.S. institute claimed Tuesday.

The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said the upgrade of the Musudan-ri site began last summer and reflects North Korean determination to expand its rocket program.

The U.S. and other nations are worried such rockets could be developed to deliver nuclear weapons.

North Korea on Tuesday vowed to push ahead with its nuclear program because of what it called U.S. hostility. The international community is pressuring North Korea to refrain from conducting what would be its third nuclear test, following a failed attempt in mid-April to launch a satellite into space.

That launch, using its biggest rocket to date, the Unha-3, was from a more sophisticated site at Sohae on the country's northwestern coast.

An April 29 aerial image of Musudan-ri on the opposite coast shows the initial stages of construction of a launch pad and rocket assembly building that could support rockets at least as big as the Unha-3, the institute told The Associated Press. A crane is visible where the launch pad is being built 1.1 miles from the old one. At the current pace of construction, the facilities should be operational by 2016-2017, the institute said.

"This major upgrade program, designed to enable Musudan-ri to launch bigger and better rockets far into the future, represents both a significant resource commitment and an important sign of North Korea's determination," said Joel Wit, editor of the institute's website, 38 North.

The institute says the assembly building shows similarities to one at the Semnan launch complex in Iran, which has a long history of missile cooperation with North Korea. But, officials there say it's premature to conclude the two nations cooperated in designing the new facility.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service said Tuesday it cannot comment on whether it has detected any new activity at the Musudan-ri launch site.

The upgrade could be of particular concern to Japan, as rockets launched from the site in the past have flown east over that country. The flight path from Sohae heads south over the Pacific Ocean in the direction of Southeast Asia, avoiding Japan and South Korea.

The April rocket launch drew U.N. Security Council condemnation, as the launch violated an existing ban. Similar technology is used for ballistic missiles. The North, however, is not believed to have mastered how to wed a nuclear device to a missile.

The top U.S. envoy on North Korea, Glyn Davies, who is meeting this week with counterparts from Japan, South Korea and China, warned Monday that the North conducting an atomic test would unify the world in seeking swift, tough punishment. Both of its previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, followed rocket launches.

A separate analysis of satellite images of a site that North Korea has used for its nuclear tests suggests it has ramped up work there over the past month. James Hardy, IHS Jane's Asia-Pacific specialist, said in a statement that there has been heightened activity at the northeastern Punggye-ri site, including mining carts, excavation equipment and a large amount of debris taken from inside a tunnel and piled around its entrance. The most recent image was from May 9.

In its statement Tuesday, in which North Korea vowed to push ahead with its nuclear program, it made no direct threat of a nuclear test and said it was open to dialogue. An analyst, Koh Yu-hwan at Seoul's Dongguk University, said the statement, from the North's Foreign Ministry, was a message that "the U.S. should come to the dialogue table (with North Korea) if it wants to stop its nuclear test."

The 2006 and 2009 long-range rocket launches that preceded the North's previous nuclear tests were from Musudan-ri. Citing earlier satellite imagery of the site, the U.S.-Korea Institute said land-clearing for the new facilities there began in the fall, and work has proceeded at a fast pace for eight months.

The latest image, from a commercially operated satellite, shows four concrete footings on one side of the launch pad that appear to be for a gantry that would prop up a rocket at launch. It has bigger dimensions than the gantry at the more sophisticated launch site at Sohae.

On another side of the launch pad there is a deep "flame trench" to capture the blast from a launched rocket. Slightly further away, on either side of the launch pad, are two separate buildings designed to enclose the fuel and oxidizer tanks that would funnel propellant into the rocket.

Satellite imagery also shows that about 70 homes, five larger buildings and many sheds in the nearby village of Taepodong have been razed and foundations laid for a large T-shaped structure that appears intended for assembling rockets. A road is under construction that would lead from this building to the launch site, 1.2 miles away.

The building's dimensions are larger than at the comparable structure at Sohae, and the existing one at Musudan-ri, the institute said.

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on the institute's findings Tuesday, describing it as an intelligence matter.

News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

NY man who dressed as dead mom sentenced for fraud


Thomas Parkin, 49, at left, on a Department of Motor Vehicles security camera, dressed up as his mother, who died in 2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- A man who dressed up as his mother in a bizarre real estate fraud that involved doctoring her death certificate and cashing her Social Security checks for six years after she died was sentenced Monday to more than 13 years behind bars.

Thomas Parkin was convicted May 3 on charges including grand larceny and mortgage fraud. He was sentenced Monday to 13 2/3 to 41 years in prison. Prosecutors said the scheme lasted six years and involved Parkin wearing a blond wig, dress and oversized sunglasses.

The 51-year-old Parkin said at sentencing that he never hurt anyone or used stolen funds for personal gain or injury.

When his mother, Irene Prusik, died in 2003 at age 73, he began impersonating her to cash her Social Security checks and keep her $2.2 million brownstone in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, prosecutors said. The house had been deeded to Thomas Parkin, but he couldn't make mortgage payments and the house was later sold at a foreclosure auction, prosecutors said.

Parkin and a co-defendant later sued the new owner under Prusik's name, claiming real estate fraud and saying the auction was invalid in part because she was still alive, prosecutors said.

To maintain the ruse, Parkin doctored his mother's death certificate and went to the Department of Motor Vehicles dressed as her in a blond wig, dress and oversized sunglasses so he could get a renewed license, prosecutors said. He also cashed Social Security checks for six years, totaling about $44,000, they said.

Jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding him guilty. At trial, they were shown security footage of Parkin in drag in public, but his defense attorney said it could've been anyone.

As the property dispute dragged out, both sides eventually contacted the district attorney to accuse each other of fraud. By the time investigators arranged a meeting with the family, they had proof Prusik was dead: a photo of her tombstone in a local cemetery.

The investigators played along as Parkin showed up for the interview "wearing a red cardigan, lipstick, manicured nails and breathing through an oxygen tank," prosecutors said.

A co-defendant, Mhilton Rimolo, 49, was sentenced in October 2010 to three years in prison after he was convicted of grand larceny.

News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com


Obama on Afghan: Leave on time, no 'perfect' end


us president barack obama
US President Barack Obama
CHICAGO (AP) -- President Barack Obama and leaders around the globe locked in place an Afghanistan exit path Monday that will still keep their troops fighting and dying there for two more years, acknowledging there never will be point at which they can say, "This is all done. This is perfect."

Obama, presiding over a 50-nation war coalition summit in his hometown, summed up the mood by saying the Afghanistan that will be left behind will be stable enough for them to depart - essentially good enough after a decade of war- but still loaded with troubles.

The war that began in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will finish at the end of 2014.

"I don't think there's ever going to be an optimal point where we say, `This is all done. This is perfect. This is just the way we wanted it,'" Obama said as the NATO summit closed. "This is a process, and it's sometimes a messy process."

Obama never spoke of victory.

Afghan forces for the first time will take over the lead of the combat mission by the middle of 2013, a milestone moment in a long, costly transition of control. Even in a backup role, U.S. forces and all the rest will face surprise attacks and bombings until the war's end.

Wary of creating a vacuum in a volatile region, the nations also promised a lasting partnership with Afghanistan, meaning many years of contributing tax dollars, personnel and political capital after the end of their soldiers' combat.

The United States has already cut its own deal with Afghanistan along those lines, including a provision that allows U.S. military trainers and special forces to remain in Afghanistan after the war closes.

In an escalating election-year environment, Obama was as at the center of the action in Chicago, beaming and boasting about the city's performance in hosting the event. Noisy protesters loaded the city's streets at times, which Obama called just the kind of free expression NATO defends.

Tensions with Pakistan undermined some of the choreographed unity. Pakistan has not yet agreed to end the closure of key transit routes into Afghanistan - retaliation for American airstrikes that accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers months ago - and the issue hung over the summit.

Obama had no official talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, although the two chatted briefly. Obama spoke of progress on the standoff but he added: "I don't want to paper over real challenges there. There's no doubt that there have been tensions."

On Afghanistan, led by Obama, the partners are in essence staying the course. They stuck with a timeline long established and underscored that there will be no second-guessing the decision about when to leave.

Since 2010, they have been planning to finish the war at the end of 2014, even as moves by nations such as France to pull combat troops out early have tested the strength of the coalition. The shift to have Afghan forces take the lead of the combat mission next year has also been expected. Leaders presented it as a significant turning point in the war.

It will be "the moment when throughout Afghanistan people can look out and see their own troops and police stepping up to the challenge," said the NATO chief, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

What the world is poised to leave behind is an Afghanistan still riddled with poverty, corruption and political instability.

Yet, out of money and patience, the U.S.-led partnership said it is confident Afghanistan will be stable and prepared enough to at least be able to protect itself - and, in turn, prevent its territory from becoming a launching pad for international terrorism.

Questioned about what will happen if Afghanistan eventually falls apart, Obama signaled there is no turning back. "I think that the timetable that we've established is a sound one, it is a responsible one. Are there risks involved in it? Absolutely."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the leaders were "making a decisive and enduring commitment to the long-term future of Afghanistan. The message to the Afghan people is that we will not desert them. And the message to the insurgency is equally clear: You cannot win on the battlefield. You should stop fighting and start talking."

The political stakes are high for the U.S. president, who will go before voters in November with tens of thousands more troops in Afghanistan than when we took office. His emphasis will remain that he is methodically winding down the war after closing out the one in Iraq; U.S. voters desperate for better economic times have long stopped approving of the war mission.

NATO said it will keep providing "long-term political and practical support" to Afghanistan after 2014 but added: "This will not be a combat mission."

Despite the size of the coalition, the war remains a United States-dominated effort.

The U.S. has 90,000 of the 130,000 foreign forces in the war. Obama has pledged to shrink that to 68,000 by the end of September but has offered no details on the withdrawal pace after that, other than to say it will be gradual.

The fighting alliance called negotiation the key to ending the insurgency in Afghanistan, but avoided mentioning the Taliban by name. The insurgents walked away from U.S.-led talks in March, and urged the NATO nations to follow the lead of France in pledging to remove combat forces ahead of schedule.

The alliance agreed on a fundraising goal to underwrite the Afghan armed forces after the international fighting forces depart.

The force of about 230,000 would cost about $4.1 billion annually - the bulk of it paid by the United States and countries that have not been part of the fighting force.

U.S. and British officials said during the summit that pledges total about $1 billion a year so far and that fundraising is on track to make up the rest. French President Francois Hollande said the U.S. had requested a little less than $200 million but was non-committal, saying France was "not bound by what Germany or other countries might do."


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Yemen: Suicide bombing kills nearly 100 soldiers in Yemen


Suicide bombing kills nearly 100 soldiers in Yemen
A policeman collects evidence at the site of a suicide bomb attack at a parade square in Sanaa, Yemen, Monday, May 21, 2012

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- A suicide bomber blew himself up at a military parade rehearsal Monday in Yemen's capital, killing 96 soldiers in one of the deadliest attacks in the city in years, officials said.

The bombing appeared to be a failed assassination attempt against the Minister of Defense, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, who arrived at the heavily secured city square to greet the assembled troops just minutes before the blast ripped through the area.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but it came as the country's new political leadership has been stepping up the fight against al-Qaida militants holding large swaths of land in the nation's south.

Yemen's new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, also has been embroiled in a power struggle with loyalists of ousted leader Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has sacked several of them along with family members from top positions in the armed forces, including the air force.

The suicide bombing raised fears that al-Qaida in Yemen, which has been blamed in a string of attempted attacks on U.S. targets, is striking back against the U.S.-backed offensive targeting the group's stronghold.

The Pentagon also confirmed that three civilian contractors helping train Yemens coast guard were attacked Sunday in Yemen. Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a Defense Department spokesman, said Monday that injuries to the party were minor.

The three were traveling in a car in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida on Sunday, when they were shot at by militants in another vehicle.

Yemeni officials initially said the three were members of the U.S. Coast Guard, but the Guard denied that.

Military officials said the suicide bomber in Sanaa was a soldier taking part in the drill, lining up with fellow troops at a main square in the capital, not far from the presidential palace. He belonged to the Central Security, a paramilitary force commanded by Saleh's nephew Yahia, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Witnesses described the same scenario, but officials said they were still investigating.

Monday's bombing left a scene of carnage, with scores of bleeding soldiers lying on the ground as ambulances rushed to the scene. Several severed heads were on the pavement amid large pools of blood and human remains.

"This is a real massacre," said Ahmed Sobhi, one of the soldiers who witnessed the explosion. "There are piles of torn body parts, limbs, and heads. This is unbelievable. I am still shaking. The place turned into hell. I thought this only happens in movies."

The bomber detonated his explosives minutes before the arrival of the defense minister and the chief of staff, who were expected to greet the troops, the officials said. The drill was a rehearsal for a parade for the celebration of Yemen's National Day on Tuesday.

Soldiers hand-picked by their commanders from different branches of the military have been practicing together for the parade for a week, Sobhi said, citing that as evidence that the attacker was a soldier and not an infiltrator.

The site of the attack has been sealed off by Republican Guard forces for the past 24 hours in preparation for the National Day celebrations. No cars or pedestrians were allowed to enter. The Republican Guard is led by Saleh's son and one-time heir apparent, Ahmed.

Khaled Ali, another soldier, told The Associated Press over the phone from the site of the attack that the explosion was followed by heavy gunfire.

"In the mayhem, we were all running in all directions. I saw the guards of the minister surrounding him and forming a human cordon. They were firing in the air," he said.

Shortly after the attack, Hadi demoted two of Saleh's relatives from their top positions in the Central Security forces and the interior ministry. A new commander Fadl al-Qousi was appointed as the top commander of Central Security forces, at the top of Saleh's nephew, Yahia. Another Saleh's in-law Mohammed al-Qousi lost his post as the commander of a police force.

Saleh stepped down in February as part of a U.S.-backed, power-transfer deal brokered by Gulf Arab countries. It gave Saleh immunity from prosecution in return for relinquishing his power.

Since then Hadi has pledged to restructure the army and purge it from Saleh's family members and loyalists suspected of hindering reforms.

Hadi has also vowed to step up the fight against al-Qaida, which expanded its foothold after exploiting the political and security turmoil in the wake of the uprising against Saleh.

Since the revolt erupted, inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings, al-Qaida militants overran large swaths of territory and several towns and cities in the south, pushing out government forces and establishing their own rule.

In recent weeks, the army has launched a concerted effort to uproot the militants from their strongholds - and is closely coordinating with a small contingent of U.S. troops who are helping guide the operations from inside Yemen.

Monday's bombing is one of the deadliest attacks in Sanaa, the capital.

In June, an attack targeting Saleh's compound last year left 11 bodyguards dead and seriously injured Saleh and five senior officials worshipping just alongside him. In 2008, an attack on U.S. embassy in Sanaa left some 19 Yemeni soldiers dead.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, was the site of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors. There have also been a spate of assaults on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, including a 2008 bombing that killed 10 Yemeni guards and four civilians.

News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Pakistan blocks Twitter over contentious tweets


pakistan blocks twitter
Pakistan blocks Twitter

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan blocked the social networking website Twitter for several hours because it refused to remove tweets considered offensive to Islam, said one of the country's top telecommunications officials.

The tweets were promoting a competition on Facebook to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, said Mohammad Yaseen, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication's Authority. Many Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

The government restored access to Twitter before midnight Sunday, about eight hours after it initially blocked access, possibly because of public criticism it received for its censorship.

Twitter spokesman Gabriel Stricker said the company had not taken down any tweets or made any other changes before Pakistan stopped blocking the site.

Yaseen said Sunday afternoon that Pakistan's Ministry of Information Technology had ordered the telecommunications authority to block Twitter because the company refused to remove the offending tweets.

The ministry informed Yaseen to restore access to Twitter Sunday evening, but he did not know what led to the decision.

Yaseen said Facebook had agreed to address Pakistan's concern about the competition.

Facebook confirmed in a written statement that it blocked access to the content in Pakistan. The site noted that it occasionally restricts content when it is illegal or offensive out of respect for local laws and culture.

A top court in Pakistan ordered a ban on Facebook in 2010 amid anger over a similar competition. The ban was lifted about two weeks later, after Facebook blocked the particular page in Pakistan. The Pakistani government said at the time that it would continue to monitor other major websites for anti-Islamic links and content.

Even when Twitter was blocked Sunday, many people based in Pakistan continued to use the website by employing programs that disguise the user's location. There was widespread criticism of the government's action by those on Twitter, who tend to be more liberal than average Pakistanis.

"Another cheap moral stunt by Pakistan," tweeted liberal Pakistani columnist Nadeem Paracha.

The 2010 Facebook controversy sparked many in Pakistan's liberal elite to question why Pakistanis could not be entrusted to decide for themselves whether or not to look at a website. Some observers noted that Pakistan had gone further than several other Muslim countries by banning Facebook, and said it showed the rise of conservative Islam in the country.

There were a handful of protests against Facebook back in 2010, often organized by student members of radical Islamic groups. Some of the protesters carried signs advocating holy war against the website for allowing the competition page to be posted in the first place.

News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Italian News: Strong quake kills at least 4 in northern Italy


strong quake shook northern Italy
Elderly people evacuated from their homes, sit in the classroom of a kindergarten in Mirabello, Italy, Sunday, May 20, 2012

SANT'AGOSTINO DI FERRARA, Italy (AP) -- A strong earthquake shook northeast Italy early Sunday, killing four people, tearing off chunks of church facades and sending panicked residents into the streets. Aftershocks wreaked more havoc in the region, including knocking down a clock tower and injuring a firefighter.

The magnitude-6.0 quake struck at 4:04 a.m., with its epicenter about 35 kilometers (22 miles) north of Bologna at a relatively shallow depth of 5 kilometers (3.2 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. Civil defense agency official Adriano Gumina described it as the worst quake to hit the region since the 1300s.

The four people killed were factory workers on the overnight shift when their buildings, in three separate locations, collapsed, agency chief Franco Gabrielli said, In addition, he said, two women died - apparently of heart attacks that may have been sparked by fear. Sky TG24 TV reported one of them was about 100 years old.

Dozens of people were believed to be injured.

Two of the dead were workers at a ceramics factory in the town of Sant'Agostino di Ferrara. Their cavernous building turned into a pile of rubble, leaving twisted metal supports jutting out at odd angles and the roof mangled.

"This is immense damage, but the worst part is we lost two people," fellow worker Stefano Zeni said. News reports said one of the dead had worked the shift of an ill colleague. Elsewhere in the town, another worker was found dead under factory rubble.

In the town of Ponte Rodoni di Bondeno, a worker also died as his factory collapsed, news reports said, citing emergency workers.

Nearly 12 hours after the quake, a sharp aftershock alarmed the residents of Sant'Agostino di Ferrara and knocked off part of a wall of city hall. The building already had been pummeled by the pre-dawn quake, which left a gaping hole on one side of it.

The same aftershock knocked down the clock tower in the town of Finale Emilia, injuring a firefighter. Images from Sky TG24 showed the firefighter lying in the street near the rubble. The national geophysics institute assigned an initial magnitude of 5.1 to the aftershock.

The quake Sunday came as Italy was still reeling from Saturday's bombing that killed one person at a school in the country's south.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his traditional Sunday appearance from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, said he was `'spiritually close" to those affected by the quake, and asked people to join him in prayers for the dead and injured.

Emilio Bianco, receptionist at Modena's Canalgrande hotel - housed in an ornate 18th century palazzo - said the quake "was a strong one, and it lasted quite a long time." The hotel suffered no damage and Modena itself was spared, but guests spilled into the streets as soon as the quake hit, he said.

The fear was palpable in Sant'Agostino. Resident Alberto Fiorini said there was `'pandemonium" during the night.

'I took shelter under the bed and I prayed," he told Associated Press. His house was not damaged, he said.

Many people were still awake at 4 a.m. and milling about town since stores and restaurants were open all night.

The epicenter was between the towns of Finale Emilia, San Felice sul Panaro and Sermide, but the quake was felt as far away as Tuscany and northern Alto Adige. One woman in Finale Emilia told Sky a child had been trapped in her bedroom by falling rubble for two hours before she was rescued.

The initial quake was followed around an hour later by a 5.1-magnitude temblor, USGS said. And it was preceded by a 4.1-temblor.

In 2009, a temblor killed more than 300 people in the central city of L'Aquila, where the historic center is still largely uninhabited and in ruins.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Men accused of plotting attacks around NATO summit


Men accused of plotting attacks around NATO summit
Accused persons from right Brent Vincent Betterly, Jared Chase, Brian Church
CHICAGO (AP) -- Three activists who traveled to Chicago for a NATO summit were accused Saturday of manufacturing Molotov cocktails in a plot to attack President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and other targets.

But defense lawyers shot back that Chicago police had trumped up the charges to frighten peaceful protesters away, telling a judge it was undercover officers known by the activists as "Mo" and "Gloves" who brought the firebombs to a South Side apartment where the men were arrested.

"This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear," Michael Deutsch said. "My clients came to peacefully protest."

On the eve of the summit, the dramatic allegations were reminiscent of previous police actions ahead of major political events, when authorities moved quickly to prevent suspected plots but sometimes quietly dropped the charges later.

Prosecutors said the men were self-described anarchists who boasted weeks earlier about the damage they would do in Chicago, including one who declared, "After NATO, the city will never be the same."

At one point, one of the suspects asked the others if they had ever seen a "cop on fire."

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy dismissed the idea that the arrests were anything more than an effort to stop "an imminent threat."

"When someone was in the position (of having) Molotov cocktails - that's pretty imminent," he said. "It was not a completed investigation."

The men allegedly bought fuel at a gas station for the makeshift bombs, poured it into beer bottles and cut up bandanas to serve as fuses.

The suspects are Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and, Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.

If convicted on all counts - conspiracy to commit terrorism, material support for terrorism and possession of explosives - the men could get up to 85 years in prison.

Outside the courtroom, Deutsch said the two undercover police officers or informants were also arrested during the Wednesday raid, and defense attorneys later lost track of the two.

"We believe this is all a setup and entrapment to the highest degree," Deutsch said.

The suspects were each being held on $1.5 million bond. Six others arrested Wednesday in the raid were released Friday without being charged.

The three who remained in custody apparently came to Chicago late last month to take part in May Day protests. Relatives and acquaintances said the men were wanderers who bounced around as part of the Occupy movement and had driven together from Florida to Chicago, staying with other activists.

Court records indicated no prior violent behavior.

Longtime observers of police tactics said the operation seemed similar to those conducted by authorities in other cities before similarly high-profile events.

For instance, prior to the Republican National Convention in 2008 in St. Paul, Minn., prosecutors charged eight activists who were organizing mass protests with terrorism-related crimes after investigators said they recovered equipment for Molotov cocktails, slingshots with marbles and other items.

The protesters, who became known as the RNC Eight, denied the allegations and accused authorities of stifling dissent. The terrorism charges were later dismissed. Five of the suspects eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, and three had their cases dismissed altogether.

Molotov cocktails are dangerous weapons, but it "kind of stretches the bounds to define that as terrorism," said Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He said police have a history of abusing such tactics, sometimes infiltrating purely peaceful protest groups to search for troublemakers.

But if the allegations are true, police were justified in moving quickly to take the men off the streets, even if the terrorism charges don't stick.

Just one week before their arrest, at least two of the suspects were involved in a minor confrontation with police captured on a video that was then posted on YouTube and aired widely by Chicago media, said another defense attorney, Sarah Gelsomino.

The men had been stopped by police after turning their car into a private driveway.

In the video, one officer asks another what Chicago police would have said in 1968 when they clashed with demonstrators at the Democratic National convention.

"Billy club to the ... skull," the officer responds. Another officer says to the men in the car, who the police take as protesters, "We'll come look for you."

Documents filed by prosecutors in support of the charges in Chicago painted an ominous portrait of the men, saying the trio also discussed using swords, hunting bows and knives with brass-knuckle handles in their attacks.

Relatives and acquaintances painted a starkly different picture.

Activist Bill Vassilakis, who said he let the men stay in his apartment, described Betterly as an industrial electrician who had volunteered to help with wiring at The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that has been turned into a food incubator with the city's backing.

"All I can say about that is, if you knew Brent, you would find that to be the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard. He was the most stand-up guy that was staying with me. He and the other guys had done nothing but volunteer their time and energy," he said.

Betterly appears to have a history of minor run-ins with law enforcement.

Earlier this year, he was cited for disorderly intoxication in February in Miami-Dade County, Fla., but the case has been dismissed, according to online court records.

Authorities in Oakland Park, Fla., said Betterly and two other young men walked into a public high school last fall after a night of tequila drinking and took a swim in the pool, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

They stole fire extinguishers from three school buses, discharged one and smashed a cafeteria window with another. The vandalism caused about $2,000 in damage. Betterly was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief, the newspaper said.

Chase grew up in Keene, N.H., and moved to Boston a few years ago before becoming active in the Occupy movement, said his aunt, Barbara Chase of Westmoreland, N.H.

Jared Chase's father, Steve Chase, died about five weeks ago after a long struggle with a disease that left him disabled, Barbara Chase said. The family had been waiting for him to come home before having a funeral.

She said she was stunned to learn of the charges against her nephew.

"That surprised me because he's not that dumb," said Barbara Chase. "He always seemed harmless, but who knows? Outside influences sometimes can sway people to do things that they normally wouldn't do."

Elsewhere around Chicago, demonstrations remained relatively small. Scattered groups of protesters gathered in some neighborhoods, including several hundred who marched to the mayor's house.

Late in the day, another group gathered in the Loop business district and marched down the city's famous Michigan Avenue. Police on horseback and bicycle kept them away from diners at outdoor cafes who ventured downtown despite wide-ranging security precautions.

The largest protests were expected Sunday, when thousands of people were expected to march from a band shell on Lake Michigan to the McCormick Place convention center, where NATO delegates will meet.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg weds on day after IPO


married photo of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A day after the historic Facebook IPO, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg updated his status Saturday to "married."

Zuckerberg wed 27-year-old Priscilla Chan, his girlfriend of nearly a decade, according to a guest authorized to speak for the couple. The person spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

The couple married at his Palo Alto, Calif. home in front of fewer than 100 stunned guests who thought they would be attending a party to celebrate Chan's graduation from medical school.

Zuckerberg gave his new bride a ring he had designed with a "very simple ruby" to end an incredibly eventful week, according to the guest.

On Monday, Zuckerberg turned 28 and Chan graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where she'd studied pediatrics.

Then on Friday, Zuckerberg took his blue-and-white web behemoth public in one of the most anticipated stock offerings in Wall Street history.

The seemingly well-coordinated timing was largely a coincidence, the guest said. The wedding had been planned for months and the couple was waiting for Chan to finish medical school, but the date of the IPO was a "moving target" not known when the wedding was set.

Attendees, including Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, were told after they arrived that they were not mere party guests but wedding guests.

"Everybody was shocked," the guest said.

The person would not discuss the names of others who attended to protect their privacy.

Ditching his trademark hoodie and sneakers, Zuckerberg sported a dark blue suit and tie with a white shirt for the ceremony, while Chan wore a traditional white wedding dress with veil and lace.

Food was served family-style and included dishes from the couple's favorite Palo Alto sushi restaurant.

Zuckerberg met Chan at Harvard, where he founded Facebook in a dorm room in 2004, and have been together for more than nine years.

Chan's own Facebook page, which now lists her as married to the founder, said she is a native of Braintree, Mass., and attended high school in nearby Quincy.

She graduated Harvard in 2007 then taught science to fourth and fifth graders at the Harker School in San Jose for two years before starting medical school, according to her profile.

Her page also says she "loves cooking and soft things."

Even after the IPO, Zuckerberg, who grew up in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., remains Facebook's single largest shareholder, with 503.6 million shares, and he controls the company with 56 percent of its voting stock.

The site has grown into a worldwide network of almost a billion people and made its founder, Time magazine's Person of the Year in 2010, one of the most famous businessmen of the Internet age.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Student killed, 7 hurt in blast near Italy school


Student killed, 7 hurt in blast near Italy school
Italian policemen, background left, walk on the site where an explosive device went off outside "Francesca Morvillo Falcone" high school in Brindisi, Italy, Saturday, May 19, 2012

ROME (AP) -- A bomb exploded outside a high school in southern Italy named after a slain anti-Mafia prosecutor as students arrived for class Saturday, killing a teenage girl and wounding several other classmates, officials said.

The device went off a few minutes before 8 a.m. in the Adriatic port town of Brindisi just as students milled outside, chatting and getting ready for class at the Morvillo-Falcone vocational institute. The school is named after the slain anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone and his wife, Francesca Morvillo, a judge who was also killed in the 1992 bombing in Sicily by Cosa Nostra.

One of the wounded students, a girl who was walking alongside the victim outside the school in Brindisi, was reported in critical condition after surgery. Officials said at least seven students were injured, but some news reports put the figure at 10.

Brindisi's Perrino hospital, where the wounded were taken, declined to give out information by phone.

Dr. Paola Ciannamea, a Perrino physician who helped treat the injured at the hsopital, told reporters there that one of the injured was a teenage girl who was in grave but stable condition after surgery. She added that plastic surgery was still being performed on some of the other injured, who suffered burns in the blast.

An unidentified hospital official, briefing reporters there, said the critically injured student was in stable condition after surgery and that several of the injured students had suffered burns and is undergoing plastic surgery.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

Italy has been marking the 20th anniversary of the Sicilian highway attack, but it was unclear if there was an organized crime link to Saturday's explosion.

In Brindisi, local civil protection agency official Fabiano Amati said a female student died of her wounds after being taken to a hospital and at least seven other students were hospitalized.

Sky TG24TV said the victim was a 16-year-old girl.

Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, in charge of domestic security, said she was "struck" by the fact that the school was named after the slain hero and his wife, but she cautioned that investigators at that point "have no elements" to blame the school attack on organized crime.

"It's not the usual (method) for the Mafia," she told Sky in a phone interview. The Sicilian-based Cosa Nostra usually targets specific figures, such as judges, prosecutors, turncoats or rival mobsters in attacks, and not civilian targets such as schools.

"The big problem now is to get intelligence" on the attack, said Cancellieri. She added that she had spoken by phone with Italian Premier Mario Monti, in the United States for the G-8 summit.

Outside the school, textbooks, their pages flipping in a breeze, notebooks and a backpack littered the street near where the bomb exploded. At the sound of the blast, students already inside the building ran outside of the school to see what happened.

Officials initially said the device was in a trash bin outside the Morvillo-Falcone school, but later ANSA, reporting from Brindisi, said the device, consisting of three cooking-gas canisters, a detonator and possibly a timer, had been placed on a low wall ringing the school. The wall was damaged and charred from the blast.

Public high schools in Italy hold classes on Saturday mornings.

A school official, Valeria Vitale, told Sky that most of the pupils were females. The school specializes in training for jobs in fashion and social services, she said.

The bombing also follows a number of attacks against Italian officials and government or public buildings by a group of anarchists, which prompted authorities to assign bodyguards for 550 individuals and deploy 16,000 law enforcement officers nationwide.

Minister Cancellieri indicated that after the school blast, authorities' sense of what could be a possible target had been tested.

"Anything now could be a `sensitive' target," she said.

Austerity measures, spending cuts and new and higher taxes, all part of economist Monti's plan to save Italy from succumbing to the debt crisis roiling Greece, have angered many citizens, and social tensions have ratcheted up.

"The economic crisis doesn't help," Cancellieri said, referring to the tensions.

Brindisi is a lively port town in Puglia, the region in the southeastern "heel" of the Italian boot-shaped peninsula. An organized crime syndicate known as the Sacred United Crown, has been traditionally active there, but crackdowns have been widely considered by authorities to have lessened the organization's power in the region.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Commercial rocket will fly to the space station


Commercial rocket to international space station
A halo forms around the top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 test rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- For the first time, a private company will launch a rocket to the International Space Station, sending it on a grocery run this weekend that could be the shape of things to come for America's space program.

If this unmanned flight and others like it succeed, commercial spacecraft could be ferrying astronauts to the orbiting outpost within five years.

It's a transition that has been in the works since the middle of the last decade, when President George W. Bush decided to retire the space shuttle and devote more of NASA's energies to venturing deeper into space.

Saturday's flight by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is "a thoroughly exciting moment in the history of spaceflight, but is just the beginning of a new way of doing business for NASA," said President Barack Obama's chief science adviser, John Holdren.

By handing off space station launches to private business, "NASA is freeing itself up to focus on exploring beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in 40 years."

California-based Space Exploration, or SpaceX, is the first of several companies hoping to take over the space station delivery business for the U.S. The company's billionaire mastermind, Elon Musk, puts the odds of success in his favor while acknowledging the chance for mishaps.

NASA likewise cautions: This is only a test.

"We need to be careful not to assume that the success or failure of commercial spaceflight is going to hang in the balance of this single flight," said Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager. "Demo flights don't always go as planned."

Once it nears the space station after a two-day flight, the SpaceX capsule, called Dragon, will spend a day of practice maneuvers before NASA signals it to move in for a linkup. Then its cargo - a half-ton of food and other pantry items, all nonessential, in case the flight goes awry - will be unloaded.

Up to now, flights to the space station have always been a government-only affair.

Until their retirement last summer, shuttles carried most of the gear and many of the astronauts to the orbiting outpost. Since then, American astronauts have had to rely on Russian capsules for rides. European, Japanese and Russian supply ships have been delivering cargo.

It will be at least four to five years before SpaceX or any other private operator is capable of flying astronauts. That gap infuriates many. Some members of Congress want to cut government funding to the private space venture and reduce the number of rival companies to save money and speed things up.

The shift to private enterprise, while revolutionary in space, has a long history in the U.S. The Internet, for example, evolved from government work. Space station astronaut Donald Pettit points to the settling of the American West: The government ran the forts, and private enterprise built the railroads.

In this instance, NASA employees are still working closely with the commercial contenders, giving advice and attending company meetings.

"I see this whole story repeating itself again and again as we move from low-Earth orbit," Pettit said. "And it will probably repeat itself when we go to the moon and elsewhere."

No one is rooting more for SpaceX than NASA. The space agency has poured $381 million into the SpaceX effort, while the company has spent $1 billion over its 10-year lifetime, said Musk, the high-tech pioneer who co-founded PayPal and Tesla Motors, the electric car company.

NASA also gave $266 million to a second company it hired to make supply runs. Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. hopes to launch its Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule from Wallops Island, Va., by year's end.

"This is the start of a real new era," said Dutch spaceman Andre Kuipers, who will help Pettit snare the Dragon and pull it to the space station with a robotic arm.

Pettit agreed the upcoming Dragon flight is a "big deal," but added: "I hope this becomes so routine that people won't even pay attention to it anymore."

SpaceX will have only a split second, at 4:55 a.m. Saturday, to shoot its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule skyward. (All spacecraft bound for the space station these days have instantaneous launch windows in order to sync up efficiently with the orbiting outpost.)

SpaceX already has achieved what no other commercial entity has done: It launched a spacecraft into orbit and brought it back intact in a 2010 test flight that ended with the capsule splashing down in the Pacific.

But getting to the space station is twice as hard, said Musk, who is not only CEO but chief designer. A Dragon capsule has never before attempted a rendezvous and docking in orbit - an exquisitely delicate operation, with the risk of a collision that could prove ruinous for the space station, which has six men on board.

If something goes wrong, "we'll fix the problem and be back at it," Musk said. Two more SpaceX delivery trips are planned for this year.

The bell-shaped Dragon capsule is 19 feet tall and 12 feet across. What sets it apart from other capsules is that it can bring back space station experiments and old equipment, as the shuttles did. None of the Russian, European and Japanese supply ships do that - they burn up when they return to Earth. The Russian Soyuz vehicles that ferry astronauts have little room to spare.

The Dragon will be cut loose from the space station about two weeks after arriving and aim for a Pacific splashdown off the California coast.

Other U.S. companies vying for a shot at launching space station astronauts - like Sierra Nevada Corp., which is designing the mini-shuttle Dream Chaser - are cheering on SpaceX since it is the first one out of NASA's post-shuttle, commercial gate.

Former space shuttle commander Steven Lindsey, director of flight operations for Sierra Nevada in Colorado, said: "It's a new way of doing business, and there's a lot of debate back and forth on whether it's going to be successful - or whether it can be successful."


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

Disco Queen Donna Summer dies at 63


Disco singer Donna Summer dead
Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco
NEW YORK (AP) -- Like the King of Pop or the Queen of Soul, Donna Summer was bestowed a title fitting of musical royalty - the Queen of Disco.

Yet unlike Michael Jackson or Aretha Franklin, it was a designation she wasn't comfortable embracing.

"I grew up on rock `n' roll," Summer once said when explaining her reluctance to claim the title.

Indeed, as disco boomed then crashed in a single decade in the 1970s, Summer, the beautiful voice and face of the genre with pulsating hits like "I Feel Love," "Love to Love You Baby" and "Last Dance," would continue to make hits incorporating the rock roots she so loved. One of her biggest hits, "She Works Hard for the Money," came in the early 1980s and relied on a smoldering guitar solo as well as Summer's booming voice.

Yet it was with her disco anthems that she would have the most impact in music, and it's how she was remembered Thursday as news spread of her death at age 63.

Summer died of cancer Thursday morning in Naples, Fla., said her publicist Brian Edwards. Her family released a statement saying they "are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy."

Luminaries from Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton and Barbra Streisand mourned the loss, as did President Barack Obama, who said he and Michelle were saddened to hear of the passing of the five-time Grammy winner. "Her voice was unforgettable, and the music industry has lost a legend far too soon," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna's family and her dedicated fans."

It had been decades since that brief, flashy moment when Summer was every inch the Disco Queen.

Her glittery gowns and long eyelashes. Her luxurious hair and glossy, open lips. Her sultry vocals, her bedroom moans and sighs. She was as much a part of the culture as disco balls, polyester, platform shoes and the music's pulsing, pounding rhythms.

Summer's music gave voice to not only a musical revolution, but a cultural one - a time when sex, race, fashion and drugs were being explored and exploited with freedom like never before in the United States.

Her rise was inseparable from disco's itself, even though she remained popular for years after the genre she helped invent had died. She won a Grammy for best rock vocal performance for "Hot Stuff," a fiery guitar-based song that represented her shift from disco to more rock-based sounds, and created another kind of anthem with "She Works Hard for the Money," this time for women's rights.

Elton John said in a statement that Summer was more than the Queen of Disco.

"Her records sound as good today as they ever did. That she has never been inducted into the Rock `n' Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted," he said. "She is a great friend to me and to the Elton John AIDS Foundation and I will miss her greatly."

Summer may not have liked the title and later became a born-again Christian, but many remembered her best for her early years, starting with the sinful "Love to Love You Baby."

Released in 1975, a breakthrough hit for Summer and for disco, it was a legend of studio ecstasy and the genre's ultimate sexual anthem. Summer came up with the idea of the song and first recorded it as a demo in 1975, on the condition that another singer perform it commercially. But Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart liked the track so much that he suggested to producer Giorgio Moroder they re-record it, and make it longer - what would come to be known as a "disco disc."

Summer had reservations about the lyrics - "Do it to me again and again" - but imagined herself as a movie star playing a part as if she were Marilyn Monroe. So she agreed to sing, lying down on the studio floor, in darkness, and letting her imagination take over. Solo and multitracked, she whispered, she groaned, she crooned. Drums, bass, strings and keyboards answered her cries. She simulated climax so many times that the BBC kept count: 23, in 17 minutes.

What started as a scandal became a classic. The song was later sampled by LL Cool J, Timbaland and Beyonce, who interpolated the hit for her jam "Naughty Girl." It was also Summer's U.S. chart debut and the first of 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008 - second only to Madonna.

Summer, real name LaDonna Adrian Gaines, was born in 1948 in Boston. She was raised on gospel music and became the soloist in her church choir by age 10.

"There was no question I would be a singer, I just always knew. I had credit in my neighborhood, people would lend me money and tell me to pay it back when I got famous," Summer said in a 1989 interview with The Associated Press.

Before disco, she had already reinvented herself several times. She sang Motown songs with local groups in Boston as a teenager, then dropped out of school in the late 1960s and switched to pyschedelic rock after hearing Janis Joplin. An attempt to get a part in the musical "Hair" led her to get the principal role in Munich. She stayed in Germany for five years, worked in other productions and modeled.

Meanwhile, she was performing in operas, singing backup for Three Dog Night and other groups and releasing songs of her own. A marriage to Helmuth Sommer didn't last, but the singer did hold on to her ex-husband's last name, changing it to "Summer." By 1974, she had met producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte and released her first album, "Lady of the Night," to success in Europe.

Then came "Love to Love You Baby," her memorable U.S. debut. Through the rest of the disco era she burned up the charts: She was the only artist to have three consecutive double-LPs hit No. 1, "Live and More," "Bad Girls" and "On the Radio." She was also the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, according to the Rock Hall of Fame, where she was a nominee this year but was passed over.

Musically, she began to change in 1979 with "Hot Stuff," which had a tough, rock `n' roll beat. Her diverse sound helped her earn Grammy Awards in the dance, rock, R&B and inspirational categories.

Summer said grew up on rock `n' roll and later covered the Bruce Springsteen song "Protection."

"I like the Moody Blues, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, the Supremes and Temptations," she said. "I didn't know many white kids who didn't know the Supremes; I don't know many black kids who don't know the Moody Blues."

Warwick said in a statement that she was sad to lose a great performer and "dear friend."

"My heart goes out to her husband and her children," Warwick said. "Prayers will be said to keep them strong."

Summer later became a born-again Christian and was accused of making anti-gay comments in relation to the AIDS epidemic - a particular problem for a woman who was and remains a gay icon. Summer denied making the comments, but became the target of a boycott.

Religion played an important role in her later life, said Michael Levine, who briefly worked as her publicist.

"Her passion in her life, besides music, was God, spirituality and religion. She held a bible study class at her home every week," he said.

Summer released her last album, "Crayons," in 2008. It was her first full studio album in 17 years. She also performed on "American Idol" that year with its top female contestants.

Summer is survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and three daughters, Brooklyn, Mimi and Amanda.


News by AP

Read current news at http://bbc-cnn-worldnews.blogspot.com

 

News That Matters Copyright © 2011 |

PDFMOZ Documents | Podcast Directory | Social News | conferences | | Free Blog Directory.