Monday, January 30, 2012

Jennifer Islam: Done... But Not Done

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of three students as they apply for college in their senior year.

Have you ever listened to the cover of Busta Rhyme's "Look at Me Now" by Karmin (aka the best YouTube band ever)? There is one line that directly relates to this post: "I'm done... No, really though, I'm not done." Common app and CUNY and Rutgers apps? Done and sent. SAT scores? Sent. Teacher recommendations? Written and sent. Fee waiver applications? Filled out and sent. College application process? Done. But no, really though, I'm not done.

I can't consider myself officially done because I have not been accepted anywhere yet. I won't be truly done until I make my final decision about what school to attend. Besides, now I have to enter Financial Aid-topia. There is so much paperwork to complete and family tax info to track down. Then there are scholarships! There are so many to scour through so I can find the perfect ones for me. I will be applying for anything and everything that I am eligible for. My favorite site for scholarships is Fastweb, which emails you opportunities that match up with the profile you create when you sign up (and yes, you can edit this profile). This saves searching time, but you still have to endure the hours of applications. I also like the weekly three-sentence scholarship offered by Zinch. You have 52 chances per year to earn $1,000 by answering a simple question in 280 characters. How awesometastic is that??? Many students enter each week, but Zinch only chooses about four of the best responses. One recent question I liked was, "If you could create your own national holiday, what would it be and how would you celebrate it?" There are definitely more scholarship sites to check out, and you should do what I do: take advantage of every opportunity you get.

Another thing that was keeping me from feeling truly done was having to deal with the scariest people in my reality -- my family -- about where I will be living for the next four years. I want to go to school somewhere dorm-able, but my parents have always wanted me to stay in New York City and live at home. I'd tried to talk to them about this many times, but they tended to avoid the question. They're worried about my security and how I'll pay for housing, food, books, and other things. They don't feel that I am ready to survive on my own. This may sound typical, but there's more to my situation: both of my parents are ill. My mom has kidney disease and is expected to get a new kidney within the next year. Her social worker has said that she'll need as much care as possible after the transplant. My dad has diabetes and heart problems. On top of this, my sister drops off her son four days a week so we can babysit him while she's at work.

They all want me to go to school in NYC and commute from home so I can continue helping around the house. I completely understand this, and it's one of the reasons I don't want to go too far away. My limit is a state bordering New York, but I'm also willing to stay in NYC. It's a great city and I'd have a lot of advantages, like already knowing how to get around and where to eat. More importantly, I'd be closer to my family. I would still like the chance to live on campus, though. Right now, I never have time to myself. Living in the dorms would give me freedom and teach me how to live on my own. I'd be able to have closer bonds with friends, clubs, and the mascot. Basically, I'd have the full college experience -- and I'd be able to tell nifty stories to my future kids. Though I worry about my family, I know that my two other siblings would be there to help take care of my parents, and that makes me feel better. And, of course, I'd come home to see them as often as I could.

Fortunately, my Minds Matter mentors and team leader succeeded in talking to my dad about my college living situation, They convinced him to let me dorm by using these arguments:

  • Dorming can cost less than commuting if a school's financial aid package covers it. Of course, I won't know what kind of packages my schools provide until I apply for aid.
  • Living on campus saves time. After my last class of the day, I'll be able to scurry back to my dorm within 15 minutes, as opposed to taking an hour-long subway ride home.
  • I am old enough to take care of myself. I need to learn the significance of responsibility and explore the world outside my neighborhood; the best way for me to do that is to start off on my own. My family will always be there for me, but I will never get far in life if I don't take some steps on my own now.

I've overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where I am. But whether it was stressing out over what sentence would make me sound better in one of my essays or talking to my parents about my future, I overcame it. I'm still not done with senior year, though. I haven't even gotten any college acceptances yet! But when I do make that decision about my future, the first thing I will say is, "Look at me now."



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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Occupy Oakland protests bring 300 arrests

Occupy Oakland protests turned violent Saturday as?demonstrators broke into a historic building and burned an American flag, and officers fired tear gas to disperse people throwing rocks and tearing down fencing at a convention center.

Dozens of police maintained a late-night guard around City Hall in Oakland, California, following daylong protests that resulted in 300 arrests. Earlier, Occupy Oakland demonstrators broke into the historic building and burned a U.S. flag, and officers earlier fired tear gas to disperse people throwing rocks and tearing down fencing at a convention center.

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Saturday's protests ? the most turbulent since Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment in November ? came just days after the group said it planned to use a vacant building as a social center and political hub and threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport and take over City Hall.

An exasperated Mayor Jean Quan, who faced heavy criticism for the police action last fall, called on the Occupy movement to "stop using Oakland as its playground."

"People in the community and people in the Occupy movement have to stop making excuses for this behavior," Quan said.

IN PICTURES: Occupy LA and other Occupy protests

Protesters clashed with police throughout the day, at times throwing rocks, bottles and other objects at officers. Police responded by deploying smoke, tear gas and bean bag rounds, City Administrator Deanna Santanta said.

Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said about 300 arrests were made.

"These demonstrators stated their intention was to provoke officers and engage in illegal activity and that's exactly what has occurred today," Santana said.

The group assembled outside City Hall late Saturday morning and marched through the streets, disrupting traffic as they threatened to take over the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center.

The protesters walked to the vacant convention center, where some started tearing down perimeter fencing and "destroying construction equipment" shortly before 3 p.m., police said.

Police said they issued a dispersal order and used smoke and tear gas after some protesters pelted them with bottles, rocks, burning flares and other objects.

The number of demonstrators swelled as the day wore on, with afternoon estimates ranging from about 1,000 to 2,000 people.

A majority of the arrests came after police took scores of protesters into custody as they marched through the city's downtown, with some entering a YMCA building, said Sgt. Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.

Quan said that at one point, many protesters forced their way into City Hall, where they burned flags, broke an electrical box and damaged several art structures, including a recycled art exhibit created by children.

She blamed the destruction on a small "very radical, violent" splinter group within Occupy Oakland.

"This is not a situation where we had 1,000 peaceful people and a few violent people. If you look at what's happening today in terms of destructing property, throwing at and charging the police, it's almost like they are begging for attention and hoping that the police will make an error."

Dozens of officers surrounded City Hall, while others swept the inside of the building looking for protesters who had broken into the building, then ran out of the building with American flags before officers arrived.

The protest group issued an email criticizing police, saying "Occupy Oakland's building occupation, an act of constitutionally protected civil disobedience was disrupted by a brutal police response today."

Michael Davis, 32, who is originally from Ohio and was in the Occupy movement in Cincinnati, said Saturday was a very hectic day that originally started off calm but escalated when police began using "flash bangs, tear gas, smoke grenades and bean bags."

"What could've been handled differently is the way the Oakland police came at us," Davis said. "We were peaceful."

The national Occupy Wall Street movement, which denounces corporate excess and economic inequality, began in New York City in the fall but has been largely dormant lately.

Oakland, New York and Los Angeles were among the cities with the largest and most vocal Occupy protests early on. The demonstrations ebbed after those cities used force to move out hundreds of demonstrators who had set up tent cities.

In Oakland, the police department received heavy criticism for using force to break up earlier protests. Quan was among the critics, but on Saturday, she seemed to have changed her tune.

"Our officers have been very measured," Quan said. "Were there some mistakes made? There may be. I would say the Oakland police and our allies, so far a small percentage of mistakes. But quite frankly, a majority of protesters who were charging the police were clearly not being peaceful.?

IN PICTURES: Occupy LA and other Occupy protests


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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making the Blackest of Black Materials

Link Information - Click to View

Making the Blackest of Black Materials
"We made carbon nanotubes that are blacker than anything else." Our material absorbs more than 99 percent of visible and ultraviolet light and 98 percent of infrared light.

Source: POPSCI
Posted on: Friday, Jan 27, 2012, 8:55am
Views: 39


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Steam community app available, access limited to beta participants for now

Android Central Android Central

If you're a PC or Mac gamer, chances are you've used Steam, Valve Software's leading digital distribution platform for games. Today sees the launch of the official Steam app for Android, a new application that gives you access to the Steam store and community features like Steam chat on-the-go. If you're big on Steam and the Steam community, this could definitely be worth a look.

It's worth clarifying that this isn't a fully-fledged Steam client for Android, so you won't be playing Portal 2 on your Galaxy Tab any time soon, unfortunately. All it lets you do is buy PC and Mac games and chat to your Steam friends.

While the app itself is freely available on the Android Market (see the link after the jump), you'll need to be part of the Steam Mobile beta group in order to use it, or you'll be rejected at the login screen. This is a little strange given that the app is openly advertised on with no mention that a beta invite is required. So keep an eye on this one, folks. All signs point to a possible public launch in the near future. If you are in the beta group, however, you'll find a handy Market link after the break.


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Friday, January 27, 2012

Dem NC governor faced tough re-election fight (AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. ? Gov. Beverly Perdue said Thursday she will not seek re-election because she fears a fight with Republicans over public education would become too political. But she entered the election year with some baggage: a campaign finance investigation, sagging poll numbers and worries from fellow Democrats she would drag them down in a key battleground state for President Barack Obama.

Perdue, the state's first woman governor, rode into office partly on the coattails of Obama's surprise 2008 victory in North Carolina. Her departure created a wide-open gubernatorial primary in a state that is so key to Obama, Democrats are hosting their national convention in Charlotte in September.

Perdue, a former school teacher, said her decision was about protecting public education from spending cuts by the GOP-led Legislature. She said in highly partisan times, her re-election bid would "only further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools."

"The thing I care about most right now is making sure that our schools and schoolchildren do not continue to be the victims of shortsighted legislative actions and severe budget cuts inflicted by a legislative majority with the wrong priorities," Perdue said in a statement.

The statement made no mention of what Perdue, 65, planned to do in the future. Perdue campaign spokesman Marc Farinella said the governor declined to speak to reporters Thursday because she is spending time with her family after making "this very difficult decision."

"For now she wants her statement to speak for itself," he said.

Perdue's decision caught many by surprise, and means it will be the first time a sitting North Carolina governor has failed to get elected to a second term since voters gave chief executives authority to succeed themselves in the 1970s.

"It is really uncommon for a sitting governor to have the opportunity to run for re-election to not do so, even in a harsh political climate," said Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. "But an objective analysis of the political situation suggests she'd have an extremely uphill fight for re-election."

Perdue faced a tough rematch against former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican she narrowly defeated in 2008 in the state's closest gubernatorial contest since 1972. Only two Republicans have been governor in more than 100 years.

Obama's win here was the first in 32 years for a Democratic nominee for president. He praised Perdue for breaking down barriers during her political career.

"For over 25 years, she has fought for the people of the Tar Heel state ? working to transform the state's public schools, improve the health care system, protect and attract jobs for members of the military and their families, and create the jobs of the future," Obama said in a statement.

Perdue's decision could help Obama and the party's eventual nominee by removing Perdue as a liability, said Brad Crone, a Raleigh-based Democratic consultant.

"It strengthens the Democratic Party's top of the ticket, and that's definitely going to be good news for Obama," Crone said.

Perdue faced scrutiny about her 2008 campaign and more than three dozen flights that she didn't initially report on campaign filings required by state election officials. A local prosecutor has said the governor wasn't the focus of his investigation, but four people were indicted last year related to the flight investigation, including her former campaign finance director.

"To those of you who have supported me throughout my years of public service, I will always be grateful for the confidence you have placed in me," Perdue said. "In my remaining months in office, I look forward to continuing to fight for the priorities we share, by putting North Carolinians back to work and investing in our children's future."

She also struggled with a state economy hit hard by the recession and an unemployment rate persistently above the national average. Perdue and fellow Democrats raised the sales tax by a penny in 2009 and had to make deep cuts to education and health care.

Republicans let the temporary sales tax increase expire last summer. Just last week, Perdue proposed raising it nearly a penny again for education. At least one legislative leader called her proposal dead on arrival.

Perdue often clashed with the new Republican leadership in the General Assembly, which swept into power after the 2010 elections and gave GOP control of the Legislature for the first time since the 1870s. In a sign of the tension, she vetoed a record 16 bills last year.

Polling throughout her term has consistently shown her approval ratings hovering around 40 percent.

Perdue's re-election campaign raised more than $2.6 million in 2011 ? only slightly more than what McCrory had raised during last year ? a poor showing in a state where Democratic candidates routinely outspend Republicans in statewide elections.

A native of Virginia, Perdue moved in the 1970s to the coastal town of New Bern, where she became director of geriatric services at a hospital before entering politics. She served in the Legislature and as the state's first female lieutenant governor before being elected governor.

As word of her exit spread, several candidates said they were considering jumping into the fray, and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, another Democrat elected in 2008, announced he would run. Dalton had nearly $600,000 in cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

Democratic state Rep. Bill Faison, a Perdue critic, said he'll make an announcement soon, setting up a May 8 primary. He said prominent leaders in the party worried for weeks about Perdue's low poll numbers and had suggested she not run.

Former State Treasurer Richard Moore, who lost to Perdue in the 2008 primary, and Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines, also are considering bids. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx also said he's considering future plans.

Candidate filing begins Feb. 13.

Longtime Washington-based Perdue pollster Fred Yang said he believed she still had a pathway to victory and knew how much she liked being governor.

"I know how hard she tried," Yang said.


Associated Press writers Michael Biesecker and Tom Breen in Raleigh and Ken Thomas in Washington also contributed to this report.


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Where to Check In After You've Checked Out [Video]

The rising death rate in Japan has lengthened the average wait for cremation to roughly four days. That's a long 96 hours to let you lay there and ripen. So what do you do after shuffling off this mortal coil? You get yourself to a corpse hotel, obviously. More »


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Romney, Gingrich exchange barbs on immigration

CORRECTS LOCATION TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA, INSTEAD OF UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA - Republican presidential candidates former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participate in the Republican presidential candidates debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

CORRECTS LOCATION TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA, INSTEAD OF UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA - Republican presidential candidates former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participate in the Republican presidential candidates debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

CORRECTS LOCATION TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH FLORIDA, INSTEAD OF UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA - Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stand during the National Anthem at the Republican presidential candidates debate at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney participates in the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich participates in the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP) ? Newt Gingrich cast Mitt Romney as the most anti-immigrant candidate of the four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in campaign debate Thursday night in Hispanic-heavy Florida. "That's simply inexcusable," the former Massachusetts governor shot back, heatedly denying the accusation.

Romney quickly added that Gingrich's campaign had stopped running a radio ad that made the "anti-immigrant charge" after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called on him to do so. Romney said to Gingrich concerning the ad, "I think you should apologize for it."

The exchange came near the beginning of the second debate in four days in advance of next Tuesday's Florida primary. Opinion polls make the race a close one, with two other contenders, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, trailing far behind.

But Santorum drew applause from the audience when he called on the two front-runners to stop attacking one another and "focus on the issues."

"Can we set aside that Newt was a member of Congress ... and that Mitt Romney is a wealthy guy?" he said in a tone of exasperation.

That seemed unlikely, given the stakes in the primary now five days distant.

Gingrich picked up on the theme quickly, calling on moderator Wolf Blitzer of CNN to let the four candidates discuss the issues.

The audience booed, as if in agreement with Gingrich, but Romney jumped in, saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if people didn't make accusations somewhere else that they weren't willing to defend here."

Moments earlier, Romney and Gingrich had exchanged jabs over investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage giants that played a role in the national foreclosure crisis that has hit Florida particularly hard.

Gingrich said Romney was making money from investments in funds that were "foreclosing on Floridians."

Romney quickly noted that Gingrich, too, was invested in mutual funds with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He then added that the former House speaker "was a spokesman" for the two. That was a reference to a contract that one of Gingrich's businesses had for consulting services. The firm was paid $300,000 in 2006.

There were some moments of levity, including when Paul, 76, was asked whether he would be willing to release his medical records.

He said he was, then challenged the other three men on the debate stage to a 25-mile bike race.

He got no takers.

Romney and Gingrich had clashed repeatedly in the first debate of the week, held Monday in Tampa.

Gingrich's unexpected victory in the South Carolina primary last weekend upended the race to pick a Republican opponent for Democratic President Barack Obama in the fall, and Romney can ill afford another setback.

In the days since his loss, he has tried to seize the initiative, playing the aggressor in the Tampa debate and assailing Gingrich in campaign speeches and a TV commercial.

An outside group formed to support Romney has spent more than his own campaign's millions on ads, some of them designed to stop Gingrich's campaign momentum before it is too late to deny him the nomination.

Gingrich's performance in a pair of South Carolina debates are generally believed to have helped him to his victory there, and Romney's aides have expressed concern that the debate audience might benefit the former House speaker.

The issue was clearly on Romney's mind as he campaigned at a factory several hours before the debate began.

"There may be some give and take. That's always entertaining," he said. "If you all could get in there we'd love to see you all there cheering."

A voice from the audience responded that there were no more tickets, and Romney replied: 'No tickets? Just storm in."

Gingrich seemed far less confident as he campaigned his way into the debate.

He unleashed an attack reminiscent of his rhetoric a month ago when he was being outspent heavily on television and falling sharply in the polls just before the Iowa caucuses.

He accused Romney and Restore Our Future, the independent group, of dishonest ads, and said, "This is the desperate last stand of the old order. This is the kind of gall they have, to think we're so stupid and we're so timid."

He later told reporters he decided to sharpen his criticisms after Romney released his tax returns. "Here's a guy who owns Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae stock," Gingrich said. "He owns a Goldman Sachs subsidiary, which is foreclosing on Floridians. And on that front he decides to lie about my career? There's something about the hypocrisy that should make every American angry."

Romney released his income tax returns for 2010 and an estimate for 2011 after declining to do so in South Carolina.

Gingrich, also under pressure, disclosed the consulting contract one of his firms had with Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage giant that played a role in the foreclosure crisis that hit Florida especially hard. It showed payments of $300,000 in 2006 for unspecified consulting services.

Romney has pummeled Gingrich in the days since, calling him an influence peddler and a lobbyist who was taking money from the very organization that was harming Floridians.


Associated Press writers Brian Bakst and Kasie Hunt contributed to this story.

Associated Press


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WealthTV 3D joining handful of 3D networks

The network we love to hate has made it a long way in the four years since we promised to never cover it again because of its ridiculous claims. Not only is it still on the air, but Herring Broadcasting has announced it will be adding a linear 3D channel to the existing handful of 3D channels that includes ESPN 3D, n3D and 3net. No word on any broadcaster carriage agreements, yet, but WealthTV 3D has spent two years producing original 3D content in anticipation of the launch and viewers can currently tune in online via Roku boxes. Some of the 3D content has been available via Verizon FiOS VOD since 2010 and while we have long since laughed off the CEO's reaction to our feelings about his channel, our opinion of WealthTV probably isn't going to be changed by adding another dimension.

Continue reading WealthTV 3D joining handful of 3D networks

WealthTV 3D joining handful of 3D networks originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 25 Jan 2012 02:40:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bingham Ray Dies At Sundance

October Films co-founder and San Francisco Film Society executive director died near the Sundance Film Festival.
By Josh Wigler

Bingham Ray
Photo: Arun Nevader/WireImage

PARK CITY, Utah — Bingham Ray, a champion of independent filmmaking, died on Monday (January 23) near Park City, Utah, the Sundance Institute has announced.

Ray, 57, was the co-founder of October Films and the executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. He suffered a stroke during the Sundance Film Festival last week and was initially hospitalized in Park City. Following a second stroke, Ray was transferred to Provo, where he later died.

"It is with great sadness that the Sundance Institute acknowledges the passing of Bingham Ray, cherished independent film executive and most recently Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society," reads a statement posted on Deadline. "On behalf of the independent film community in Park City for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and elsewhere, we offer our support and condolences to his family. Bingham's many contributions to this community and business are indelible, and his legacy will not be soon forgotten."

"The board of directors and staff of the Film Society are stunned and deeply saddened by the untimely death of our executive director Bingham Ray," said Pat McBaine, board president of the San Francisco Film Society. "We at the Film Society and the entire film community have lost far too early an energetic and visionary impact player who has helped shape the independent film industry for decades in so many important and valuable ways."

Ray is perhaps best known as the co-founder of October Films, the 1990s-era independent film production company and distributor responsible for movies such as "Secrets and Lies," "Lost Highway" and "Cherry Falls." October was later acquired by Universal Pictures and renamed USA Films, which itself became the basis of Focus Features, Universal's art house arm that counts "In Bruges" and "Milk" among its many credits.

The San Francisco Film Society named Ray as executive director in November 2011 after the death of the SFFS' director Graham Leggat this past August.

Share your condolences with Bingham Ray's friends and family in the comments below.


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PSU's O'Brien: An 'honor' to follow Paterno

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) ? Bill O'Brien says it's an honor to follow the late Joe Paterno as Penn State's next head coach.

In an interview Monday, O'Brien says he will create his own identity and that no one will ever replace Paterno, who won 409 games and two national championships.

Paterno died Sunday at age 85 just 65 days after his son Scott said his father had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

O'Brien says he never got to speak with Paterno in person following his hiring Jan. 7.

The two did talk by phone soon after O'Brien arrived. O'Brien says he wanted Paterno to know he would work hard to preserve the traditions of winning and academics in the new Penn State regime.

Associated Press


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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In bin Laden town, father mourns another militant (AP)

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan ? On Jan. 14 at 8:12 p.m., Khushal Khan's wife got a call on her cell phone.

"Your son has been martyred," the voice said at the other end of the line. The man then hung up.

The end for Khan's youngest son, Aslam Awan, came when a drone piloted remotely from the United States fired a missile at a house along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Awan was among four people killed, U.S. officials said this week, describing Awan as an "external operations planner" for al-Qaida. British authorities say he was a member of a militant cell in northern England who had fought in Afghanistan.

The Jan. 10 strike in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan that killed Awan was a victory for the CIA-led drone program at time when relations between Washington and Islamabad are very strained, in part by the missile strikes. It was one of the first drone attacks after a hiatus of some six weeks following a friendly fire incident in which U.S. forces killed 24 Pakistani border troops, nearly leading to a severing of ties with Islamabad.

The drone attacks generate anti-American sentiment inside Pakistan, but have been credited with significantly weakening al-Qaida in one of its global hubs.

For his family, the call came as a final curt word about the fate of a son they had heard little from in over a year.

Awan grew up in the northwestern Pakistani town of Abbottabad, a few kilometers away from the house where Osama bin Laden was slain. His father worked in a bank in Britain in the 70s and then in Abbottabad until he retired a few years ago. His four other sons remain in Britain, where they have prospered ? one is a surgeon, another is a doctor, the third an engineer and the fourth is a banker.

It seems doubtful Awan had any contact with bin Laden in the town. But Awan's background here reinforces a striking association between this well-ordered, wealthy Pakistani army town and al-Qaida militants, which began before bin Laden was killed here in May last year when a team of American commandos flew in from Afghanistan.

Now 75 and recovering from a heart operation, Khushal Khan answered questions Saturday from an Associated Press reporter in the garden of his house, making the most of some winter sun. He defended his son's memory against charges of militancy.

"I don't believe this is true, my son was not indulging in these things," he said. "It can't be correct."

Khan said Awan followed his brothers' footsteps and went to Britain in 2002 on a student visa.

Awan lived in Manchester for four years, during which time he joined a militant cell that aimed to bring Muslims to Pakistan for militant training, according to prosecutors at the time and a British media report. He told his father he was studying at Manchester University, but it's unclear whether he ever graduated.

The cell was headed by a British al-Qaida commander called Rangzieb Ahmed who was captured in Pakistan in 2006 and sent for trial in Britain, where he was sentenced to life in prison for directing terrorism, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

A letter he wrote a to a longtime friend and fellow Pakistani, Abdul Rahman, rhapsodized over the "fragrance of blood" from the battlefield of jihad and his commitment to militancy, according to prosecutors in the trial of Rahman, who was sentenced to six years in jail in 2007 for spreading terrorist propaganda in Manchester. It apparently referred to a stint fighting jihad in Afghanistan, but when that occurred is not known.

The judge said then Awan was believed to have left England for Afghanistan.

"Awan was very well connected to known extremists in the UK. It highlights that the threat is still there," said Valentina Soria, a terrorism researcher at the London-based Royal United Services Institute. "This group were not just wannabes, they were active and with links to al-Qaida central."

There are thought to be about 900,000 Pakistani Muslims in England ? many of them living in London and in northern cities. British authorities have said nearly all the plots and attacks on British soil have some connection to Pakistan.

Awan returned to Abbottabad in 2007, around the time that bin Laden was settling in to his large house, though that doesn't mean Awan was in touch with him or any of his couriers. U.S. officials have previously said the al-Qaida leader was cut off from the rest of his network and wasn't meeting other militants for security reasons.

Awan began to associate with Sipah-e-Sahaba, an extremist group that has a political wing as well links to al-Qaida, according to a police officer in the town who knows the family. The officer didn't give his name because he didn't want to be seen as adding to Khan's pain.

Khan said he last saw his son or heard his voice in 2010, when Awan asked for funds to build a house and they fought over the fact he wasn't working.

"That was the point when I had to forcefully ask him to go out earn some money," he said. "But my words hurt him, and he left home with only the clothes he was wearing."

Khan said he initially feared his son had been kidnapped when he didn't return or contact him. But after a few months, Awan called his wife and told her he was in Miran Shah, the largest town in North Waziristan. He said he was running a general store and dealing in second-hand clothes.

Local intelligence officials said Awan was known by the nom de guerre Abdullah Khurasani, and was highly prized in al-Qaida circles because of his education, computer skills and foreign contacts.

Al-Qaida, Taliban and other militants from around the world congregate for training and networking in North Waziristan, and Miran Shah is a key logistical base. The town is too dangerous for reporters to visit, but locals who have traveled there say hundreds of Pakistan and foreign militants live there openly, unmolested other than by the U.S. missile attacks on its outskirts. The Pakistani army says it doesn't have enough resources to launch an operation in the region.

The missile strike program began in earnest in 2009 and has been stepped up by the Obama administration.

Abbottabad is home to the Pakistan army's top military academy and hundreds of officers and soldiers live in what is one of the country's more secure towns. The fact that bin Laden hid there for so long in plain sight triggered intense international suspicions that the military was sheltering him.

Al-Qaida's No. 3, Abu Faraj al-Libi, lived in Abbottabad before his arrest in 2005 elsewhere in northwest Pakistan, American and Pakistani officials have said. Five months prior to the bin Laden raid, Indonesian al-Qaida operative Umar Patek was arrested in the town following the arrest of an al-Qaida courier who worked at the post office.

U.S. officials have said Patek's arrest in Abbottabad was a coincidence.


Brummitt reported from Islamabad. Associated Press reporters Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Ishtiaq Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Zarar Khan in Islamabad and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.


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Friday, January 20, 2012

Pentagon: Thousands of sex assaults unreported

Senior U.S. defense officials, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, announce new efforts to combat sexual assault in the military.

By staff and news services

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday that?the Pentagon is preparing new initiatives to try to curb sexual assaults in the military -- a problem he believes could be six times greater than reported.

Panetta said 3,191 sex assault cases were reported in the military last year, but because so few victims?come forward, he believes the real number is closer to 19,000 assaults. In 2010, 3,158 cases were reported.

"It is an affront to the basic American values we defend and it is a stain on the good honor of the great majority of our troops and our families," said Panetta during a press conference at the Pentagon.

?These women and these men who are willing to fight and die to protect and serve our country ? they deserve better protection. Their families and dependents also sacrifice and serve. And so for this reason, we must spare no effort to protect them against this heinous crime. ? One sexual assault is one too many.?

Panetta said new initiatives include extending victim services to military spouses as well as Pentagon civilians and contractors working abroad. Also, more money will go toward training investigators and lawyers to go after and prosecute perpetrators.

Under the new measures, service members who file sexual abuse charges can immediately transfer to a new unit or base to avoid harassment or contact with the accused attacker.

The proposals require congressional approval.

'Deeply regret'
Panetta spoke two days before the premiere of?a new documentary about sexual assault in the U.S. military, titled "The Invisible War." The film is being shown at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Saying he wanted to speak directly to the victims of sexual assault in the Defense Department, Panetta said somberly: "I deeply regret that such crimes occur in the U.S. military ... I'm committed to providing you the support and resources you need and to taking whatever steps are necessary to keep what happened to you from happening to others."

"The Invisible War" premieres Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

Announcement of those two changes accompanied the Pentagon's annual report last month showing assault cases rose at the nation's three major military academies in the latest academic year from one year earlier.

The Defense Department's "Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies" for academic year 2010-2011 found there were 65 reports of sexual assaults involving cadets and midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. That was up from 41 reported assaults in the prior academic year. Officials said they could not conclusively identify the reasons for the increase but that it could be because the department has worked to encourage more victims to report?assaults.

Beyond the academy report every December, the Pentagon also releases an annual report each March on sexual assaults throughout the services.

This post includes reporting from The Associated Press.

More content from and NBC News



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Solar Dynamics Observatory helps measure magnetic fields on the sun's surface

ScienceDaily (Jan. 18, 2012) ? A subset of data that helps map out the sun's magnetic fields was recently released from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Observations that measure the strength and direction of magnetic fields on the solar surface -- known as vector magnetograms -- play a crucial role in understanding how those fields change over time and trigger giant eruptions off the surface of the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

Collecting the information needed to make vector magnetograms is one of several tasks performed by SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), an instrument led by a team at Stanford University. HMI has been collecting data since May of 2010, providing scientific data on the strength of the sun's magnetic field and the sound waves moving around inside the Sun.

HMI relies on interpreting the way light is affected as it travels through the fields in order to measure them from afar. For example, a phenomenon known as the Zeeman effect splits light into different wavelengths based on the magnetic field strength and, in addition, light may be polarized based on the magnetic field direction. HMI uses these observations to produce vector magnetograms. Producing vector magnetograms at HMI's high resolution, however, required developing new computer processing techniques to successfully interpret subtle details about the magnetic field.

In early December, the HMI team released their vector magnetograms for one area of the sun, named Active Region 11158, collected during February 12-16, 2011. As a larger group of researchers examines the new data, the team can refine their computer processing algorithms if necessary and then release all the vector magnetic field data that HMI has collected.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Thursday, January 19, 2012

96% Tomboy

In "Tomboy," 10-year old Laure(Zoe Heran) moves to a new neighborhood with her parents(Sophie Cattani & Mathieu Demy) and younger sister Jeanne(Malonn Levana). While looking out from an apartment window one pleasant afternoon, Laure sees a group of boys playing out in the park. When she finally leaves her sister and sleeping, very, very pregnant mother behind in the apartment, the boys are gone, with only Lisa(Jeanne Disson), a girl of her age, left behind in their wake. Laure introduces herself as Mikael and they run after them together, so they can join in the fun. With that simple, elegant setup, writer-director Celine Sciamma tells an evocative and naturalistic genderblender with a very belieable sibling relationship. Sadly, the movie eventually runs straight into a narrative wall. Until then, Laure is not just being a tomboy; she is passing as a boy but not 24/7, so we'll keep to the feminine pronouns.(Actually, it is not until later that she is revealed not to be a boy.) She does this to enjoy the freedoms that boys enjoy but is too young to realize the minefield of gender that she has just walked into. That's where parents come in, as the movie smartly shows how parents help to shape their children's gender.

November 29, 2011


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sensors, Vol. 12, Pages 704-731: Underwater Sensor Networks: A New Energy Efficient and Robust Architecture

Sensors 2012, 12(1), 704-731; doi:10.3390/s120100704 (doi registration under processing)


1 Institut ITACA, Universitat Polit?cnica de Val?ncia, Edifici 8G, Val?ncia 46022, Spain 2 Pervasive Systems, University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, Enschede 7500 AE, The Netherlands

* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received: 30 November 2011; in revised form: 5 January 2012 / Accepted: 9 January 2012 / Published: 10 January 2012

Abstract: The specific characteristics of underwater environments introduce new challenges for networking protocols. In this paper, a specialized architecture for underwater sensor networks (UWSNs) is proposed and evaluated. Experiments are conducted in order to analyze the suitability of this protocol for the subaquatic transmission medium. Moreover, different scheduling techniques are applied to the architecture in order to study their performance. In addition, given the harsh conditions of the underwater medium, different retransmission methods are combined with the scheduling techniques. Finally, simulation results illustrate the performance achievements of the proposed protocol in end-to-end delay, packet delivery ratio and energy consumption, showing that this protocol can be very suitable for the underwater medium.

Keywords: underwater sensor networks; energy efficiency; fault tolerance; routing; scheduling and retransmission

MDPI and ACS Style

Climent, S.; Capella, J.V.; Meratnia, N.; Serrano, J.J. Underwater Sensor Networks: A New Energy Efficient and Robust Architecture. Sensors 2012, 12, 704-731.

AMA Style

Climent S., Capella J.V., Meratnia N., Serrano J.J. Underwater Sensor Networks: A New Energy Efficient and Robust Architecture. Sensors. 2012; 12(1):704-731.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Climent, Salvador; Capella, Juan Vicente; Meratnia, Nirvana; Serrano, Juan Jos?. 2012. "Underwater Sensor Networks: A New Energy Efficient and Robust Architecture." Sensors 12, no. 1: 704-731.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let the music begin again in Afghanistan

Overcoming cultural hurdles and decades of war, a music institute in Afghanistan professionally trains youths and street children.

? A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Skip to next paragraph

?Let the music begin again

?If music programs are the first to go when funding is tight in American schools, it?s not difficult to imagine how quickly they vanished amid three decades of war in Afghanistan. Though fighting continues, in the relatively peaceful capital city a small school of about 150 students is the nation?s first concerted effort to reestablish a music program.

?The institute began two years ago, offering primary education up to the Afghan equivalent of an associate degree in music performance.

??The music sector in Afghanistan is practically a blank page,? says Ahmad Nasir Sarmast, founder and director of the Afghan?istan National Institute of Music. ?Afghanistan needs many orchestras and ensembles that do not exist in the country. Afghanistan doesn?t even have a national orchestra.?

?The school aims at a cross section of pupils: Half the slots are reserved for orphans or street children. Tuition, lunch, uniforms, and transportation are free. About one-quarter of the students receive a $27 monthly stipend.

?Aside from the dearth of professionally trained musicians, the institute must also work to overcome cultural hurdles. The Taliban regime banned music. Though few Afghans share that harsh view of music, it remains a tense issue in parts of the country. Over the past year, Jalalabad, one of the largest cities in Afghanistan, has seen a rash of music store bombings. And even Afghans who enjoy music tend to look down on professional musicians.

??Everywhere, even in Europe, music has disappeared for a time, but then it rose again. It happens,? says Fareed Shefta, a clarinet teacher at the institute.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Canadian Markets: Canada stocks pressured by weak data

By Sue Chang, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) ? Canadian stocks fell marginally on Monday as a pair of data indicated a lack of confidence in the economy.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index /quotes/zigman/20942 CA:$ISPTX -0.03% ?edged down 2.67 points to 12,185.97.

The Bank of Canada released its winter survey on Monday which showed that Canadian firms had a more pessimistic outlook with the balance of opinion on future sales growth dipping to negative 4 in the fourth quarter from a positive 6 in the third quarter.

Alcoa kicks off earnings season

Markets open higher ahead of the fourth quarter earnings season, which Alcoa will kick off amidst lower demand for aluminum and a reduced smelting capacity. (Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

?Responses to the winter survey suggest that the global economic outlook and concerns about demand continue to weigh on firms? expectations for business activity,? the central bank said.

The data is in line with a moderation in growth expected in 2012, according to a report from TD Securities.

?Focusing on the downside risks to the outlook, we expect that the bank will keep its overnight rate at an exceptionally accommodative level for an extended period of time. The threshold for additional accommodation is quite high and would most likely be triggered by the contagion of a financial shock from Europe to Canada. Otherwise, the theme of lower for longer will continue to carry the day,? David Tulk, chief Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, wrote in the report.

Statistics Canada also said building permits fell 3.6% to $6.1 billion in November, compared with an 11.6% increase in October.

The S&P/TSX Capped Diversified Metals and Mining Index /quotes/zigman/24977 XX:TTMN -0.98% , the S&P/TSX Capped Telecommunication Services Index /quotes/zigman/24973 XX:TTTS -0.46% ?and the S&P/TSX Capped Consumer Staples Index /quotes/zigman/24971 XX:TTCS -0.49% ?were the biggest decliners, falling 0.6% each.

The S&P/TSX Capped Real Estate Index /quotes/zigman/24978 XX:TTRE +0.06% and the S&P/TSX Capped Materials Index /quotes/zigman/24976 XX:TTMT +0.09% ?were the only two sectors trading in positive territory at last check.

Teck Resources /quotes/zigman/18188 CA:TCK.B -1.69% ?slid 1.5% and Potash Corp. /quotes/zigman/17857 CA:POT -0.79% ?shed 1.1%.

In currencies, the Canadian dollar eased against the greenback. The U.S. dollar /quotes/zigman/4867882/sampled USDCAD -0.4085% ?traded at 1.0272 in recent action, strengthening slightly from 1.0267 Canadian dollars late Friday.


Volume: 110.65M

Jan. 9, 2012 3:01p


Volume: 10.77M

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Volume: 2.53M

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Volume: 1.92M

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Volume: 1.84M

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Volume: 47.13M

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Sue Chang is a MarketWatch reporter in San Francisco.


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National radio: Guinea-Bissau president dies (AP)

BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau ? President Malam Bacai Sanha, who was elected in this tiny, coup-prone nation on Africa's western coast about two years ago after the previous leader was assassinated, died Monday in Paris after a lengthy hospitalization.

No immediate cause was given but the 64-year-old president was known to have diabetes, and had undergone medical treatment in both France and neighboring Senegal during his time in office. National radio announced his death Monday afternoon.

An official at Guinea-Bissau's embassy in Paris, Luis Mendes, said Sanha died Monday morning at the Val de Grace hospital after being hospitalized in France "for about a month" with an unspecified ailment, Mendes said.

The head of the National Assembly, Raimundo Pereira, is again expected to take over until new elections can be organized. He already has served as interim head of state after the 2009 assassination of former President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira.

Officials declared seven days of mourning. They did not say when elections might be held.

Since independence from Portugal in 1974, the nation has been wracked by coups and has become one of the main transit points for drug traffickers ferrying cocaine to Europe. Just two weeks ago, the army said a top military official had attempted unsuccessfully to seize power while Sanha was ill.

Sanha won the 2009 presidential election held after Vieira's death, a peaceful transition of power that marked a rare bright spot for Guinea-Bissau. He became less known for what he did as president than for his frequent hospitalizations abroad, which were always described by aides as routine checkups.

In August 2009, he spent nearly three weeks hospitalized in Dakar, the capital of neighboring Senegal, where medical facilities are better equipped than in Bissau.

A diplomat said at the time that the president had become a regular visitor in Dakar, arriving on a special flight each time his blood sugar was out of balance. And a veteran observer with close ties to the president's entourage described the illness as "advanced diabetes" combined with a hemoglobin problem.

Sanha began his political career as the head of the youth wing of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, or PAIGC ? the body that fought for the country's independence from Portugal in 1974. He went on to become a member of its executive committee, and then served as a governor of a province.

Sanha was thrown to the fore after Vieira's March 2009 assassination, when the president was gunned down inside his home. Pereira became interim head of state until elections were organized, which Sanha won.

The circumstances of Vieira's death have never been fully illuminated, but many speculated that his killing was related to issues surrounding drug trafficking.

In recent years, Guinea-Bissau has become a hub for drug smuggling. Cocaine flown in from South America to the archipelago of islands that dot the country's coastline. The drugs are then moved to Europe by boats and by mules who ingest the drugs and attempt to carry them north on commercial flights. Sanha had pledged to combat the flow of narcotics.

"Drug trafficking must end in this country," he told a meeting of top military officials in July.

Nevertheless, he appointed Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, labeled by the U.S. Treasury Department as a drug kingpin, to head the Navy in early October.

"You must prove to those who accuse you of being steeped in illicit activities that what they say does not correspond to the truth," Sanha said at Na Tchuto's induction ceremony.

Carlos Vamain, a political analyst and former justice minister, called Sanha's presidency difficult and complex.

"Difficult in the context of narco-trafficking and also the unchanging socio-economic problems of the country," Vamain said. "His presidency did not bring the results people had hoped."


Associated Press writers Angela Charlton in Paris, and Rukmini Callimachi and Artis Henderson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.


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Monday, January 9, 2012

'Star Trek 2' Starts On Thursday, Teases Benedict Cumberbatch's Role

"Star Trek 2" is coming! "Star Trek 2" is coming! Forgive our enthusiasm, but come on: it's been a long wait for a sequel to the 2009 relaunch, but according to director J.J. Abrams, things are finally getting off the ground.
In an interview with Collider, Abrams revealed a bunch of new details about the [...]


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Marc Anthony takes new gal public on Twitter

There isn't always room for J.Lo.

Marc Anthony took to Twitter yesterday to go super-public with his new girlfriend, 24-year-old Venezuelan model Shannon De Lima.

"A mi @Shadelima mi estatua de libertad. Besos bebe," the singer wrote. (That translates into English as "To @Shadelima, my statue of liberty. Kisses, baby.")

We wouldn't exactly call the ubiquitous Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart discreet, but...

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MORE: Is Marc Anthony Really Trying to Start a Custody War With Jennifer Lopez?

Anthony is practically doing PR for De Lima!

Slideshow: Celebrity breakups of 2011 (on this page)

In addition to posting a smoochy photo of them on Facebook, he also retweeted this post from a fan: "Everybody Follow The Beautiful @Shadelima, &Wish Her &@MarcAnthony The Best ! 2012 Best Couple Over Here :D."

Story: Is J. Lo and Marc Anthony's split turning 'vicious'?

Apparently Anthony's family is on board, as well, with Anthony's son Chase Muniz tweeting, "To all my followers and everybody on twitter follow 2012 best couple and for many more years to come @MarcAnthony and @Shadelima !!!!!"

Story: J. Lo recalls panicking over baby Emme's health scare

"My dad is happy im happy. Love you dad!!!!!!!!!" Muniz added, along with, "I still LOVE my stepmom @JLo forever thats never going to change shes my mom forever!!!!!!!!!!!" (Anthony adopted Chase while in a relationship with Debbie Rosado.)

GALLERY: Celebrity Rebound Romances

Lopez and Anthony revealed last July that they were ending their seven-year marriage. Their twins together, Max and Emme, will be 4 in February.

Shannon has a 4-year old son, Daniel, with Venezuelan actor Manuel Sosa.

? 2012 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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