Saturday, December 31, 2011

My iPhone 4 takes days to sync?

Whenever I sync my phone it takes several days to complete, I restored it to its original settings but that did nothing. Help?

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Crossroads Presbyterian Church

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Northeastern University Expands Its Geographic Reach

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Source: --- Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Northeastern University, based in Boston, opened its first satellite campus, which combines virtual and in-person instruction, this year in Charlotte, N.C. Seattle is next. ...


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

AMEInfonews: Latest news: Accreditation Canada International announces attendance at Arab Health 2012: Accreditation Canada I...

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Survey: Home prices down in most major US cities (AP)

WASHINGTON ? U.S. home prices fell in most major cities for the second straight month, further evidence that the housing recovery will be bumpy and weigh on the broader economy in 2012.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday showed prices dropped in October from September in 19 of the 20 cities tracked.

The decline reflects the typical fall slowdown after the peak buying season. Prices had risen modestly in April through August in at least half of the cities tracked.

Still, home prices have fallen roughly 32 percent nationwide since the housing bubble burst five years ago and are back to 2003 levels, according to the index.

Prices are even lower in hard-hit areas, such as Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Washington, New York, Los Angeles and San Diego have seen the smallest declines.

Home values remain depressed despite some modest progress in the housing market.

Residential construction is likely to add to U.S. economic growth in 2011, the first time that has happened in four years. That's mainly because apartments are being built almost twice as fast as two years ago ? reflecting a surge in renting and weaker home sales.

The Case-Shiller index measures prices for roughly half of all U.S. homes. Prices are compared with those in January 2000 and the index is based on a three-month moving average. The monthly data are not seasonally adjusted.

Atlanta, Detroit and Minneapolis posted the biggest monthly declines. Prices in Atlanta and Las Vegas fell to their lowest points since the housing crisis began. Prices rose in Phoenix after three straight monthly declines.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of S&P's index committee, said steep price drops in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis were particularly worrisome because their gains earlier this season were so strong.

"Atlanta and the Midwest are regions that really stand out in terms of recent relative weakness," Blitzer said. "These markets were some of the strongest during the spring/summer buying season."

Americans are reluctant to purchase a home more than two years after the recession officially ended. High unemployment and weak job growth have deterred many would-be buyers. Even the lowest mortgage rates in history haven't been enough to lift sales.

Some people can't qualify for loans or meet higher down payment requirements. Many with good credit and stable jobs are holding off because they fear that prices will keep falling.

Sales of previously occupied homes are barely ahead of 2008's dismal figures ? the worst in 13 years. And sales of new homes this year will likely be the worst since the government began keeping records a half century ago.

Prices are likely to fall further once banks resume millions of foreclosures. They have been delayed because of a yearlong government investigation into mortgage lending practices.

Foreclosures and short sales ? when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage ? are selling at an average discount of 20 percent.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WTS: Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus (New In Box)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

goal_intl: ?The Premier League is over for us? - Andre Villas-Boas concedes Chelsea?s title hopes after B... #soccer #football

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Monday, December 26, 2011

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breakingnycnews: Donald Trump signs Bronx golf course deal with NYC: Donald Trump?s company has signed a 20-year license deal to...

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

California Teen Becomes Youngest To Climb '7 Summits'

BIG BEAR, Calif. -- A Southern California teenager became the youngest person to successfully climb to the summit of the seven tallest mountains on Earth's seven continents, according to his website.

Jordan Romero, 15, called his mother Leigh Ann Drake on Saturday to confirm that he'd achieved his goal of reaching the top of Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

The Big Bear, Calif.-native beat the record previously held by British climber George Atkinson, who completed the ascents at age 16 in May.

Romero's team began the climb Wednesday. Romero's Facebook page, "Find Your Everest," marked reaching the summit, but the climb is hardly over.

"It's in the books. The kid and team summit with all fingers and toes. Descent still to come then we celebrate," a post to the Facebook page read.

Romero completes the climbs with his father and stepmother.

"It's my dream we are following to the highest points on every continent," Jordan says on his blog. "I know it's a big goal and lucky for me my family is supporting me every step of the way."

At age 10, Romero climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, and at age 13 he climbed the world's highest mountain, at 29,035 feet, Mt. Everest in Asia.

Drake declined further comment, saying the family is not seeking attention for the boy's achievement.



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Haimen, China, Protests: Tear Gas Fired At Protesters

BEIJING -- Riot police in a southern Chinese coastal town fired tear gas Friday at protesters, including elderly men and women, on the fourth day of unrest over a planned power plant expansion, according to protesters' accounts and TV footage.

Police and protesters in the town of Haimen squared off near a highway entrance that has become the focal point for protests this week, with residents demanding that authorities release an unknown number of demonstrators.

The town's elders knelt on the road facing a barricade set up by riot police with helmets and shields several hundred yards (meters) away while others lit large incense sticks and planted them into a plastic foam makeshift altar, a protester said by phone.

"They were begging the police to release those people that they've detained and praying that the riot police can see things more clearly," the 20-year-old saleswoman surnamed Yao told The Associated Press by phone.

Haimen's protesters are demanding a halt to the planned expansion of a coal-fired power plant which they say has contributed to what they say is a rise in cancer cases and heavy pollution in the seas, a serious problem for a town where many make their living from fishing.

The protests started Tuesday when thousands of people besieged a Haimen government office and blocked a highway. When riot police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse them, demonstrators hurled rocks, water bottles and bricks in return. Clashes broke out, injuring an unknown number of protesters and police, residents say.

In response to the protests, the local government said Tuesday that it would temporarily suspend the power plant project, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

But protesters say they have not heard directly from authorities on the matter and say several protesters in their teens or early 20s had been detained.

Many of the protesters waved red plastic bags meant to signify red scarves worn by children as part of their school uniforms, photos from the scene showed.

They held up banners saying "Release the people," "Defend our home" and "Oppose construction of power plant."

It was not immediately clear how many people have been taken into police custody, but Xinhua said Thursday that five people had been detained by Wednesday for vandalism during the protests.

Earlier in the day, police fired tear gas at the protesters, said another protester, a man surnamed Lin.

"When they saw that more and more people had come to protest, they fired the tear gas to try to chase us away. At the same time, a big gust of wind blew toward us, so we all had to run," Lin said. "My tears ran continuously. Our eyes are all red."

This is the third time police have used tear gas to disperse protesters in Haimen this week.

"We have no weapons at all. All we are doing is standing here and protesting," Lin added.

Hong Kong's Cable TV showed footage of tear gas clouds being blown toward protesters, scattering the crowd of hundreds of people. Riot police with helmets and shields had formed a blockade at the entrance to the highway.

After three decades of laxly regulated industrialization, China is seeing a surge in protests over such environmental worries.

In September, hundreds of villagers in an eastern Chinese city near Shanghai demonstrated against pollution they blamed on a solar panel factory. In August, 12,000 residents in the northeastern port city of Dalian protested against a chemical plant after waves from a tropical storm broke a dike guarding the plant and raised fears that flood waters could release toxic chemicals.


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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays: Six symbols of Christmas Google-style

Google has Happy Holidays doodle. This doodle celebrates the season with a two-dimensional holiday light display.

Every December Google spreads holiday cheer with a special doodle on their homepage. This year is no different.

Skip to next paragraph

Creating a holiday light display, the search engine elves transformed each letter into a symbol of the season, leaving a line trace of the letters in the two-dimensional background.

For two hours in the US on Friday afternoon Google's holiday lights danced on the screen while playing the tune "Jingle bells." Check out the video below. The search engine turned it off and the doodle remained still, until later Friday evening.

To start the jingle click on the buttons below each letter of the Google logo.

Fade to black.

The letter "G" in the word Google is transformed into a lit up snowflake.

SEE ALSO:?How much do you know about Christmas? A quiz

The "O" is sort of a South Park Santa Claus. Or perhaps it's Saint Nicholas, or Father Christmas, or Kris Kringle, depending on where you live in the world.

The second "O" is a bell - spreading good cheer. Or if you're a fan of the 1946 Frank Capra film, "It's a Wonderful Life," it may remind you of the lline: "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."

The lower "G" is a Snowman. A little reminder to get out the shovel and your snow sculptingl skills .?

The candle as the "L" ?dances in the dark with the flicker of light.?

Finally, click on the? "E" and it becomes a Christmas present. And Google's Doodle mavens reward you with a quick rendition of "Jingle bells."

Trivia buffs will note that this James Lord Pierpont tune was actually written to commenorate sleigh races around Thanksgiving in Medford, Mass,, before it became co-opted by Christmas carolers.

Wait, there's more.

Enter 'Santa Claus,' 'Christmas bells,' 'Christmas candles,' and 'Christmas present' in the search engine you'll see colorful holiday lights strung from the left side of the screen to the right. Google has a way of hiding "Easter eggs" throughout the internet. Earlier this week they even made it snow.

Happy Holidays to all!


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Video: The Town That Jobs Forgot, Part 6

Dateline NBC

'Dateline NBC,' the signature broadcast for NBC News in primetime, premiered in 1992. Since then, it has been pioneering a new approach to primetime news programming. The multi-night franchise, supplemented by frequent specials, allows NBC to consistently and comprehensively present the highest-quality reporting, investigative features, breaking news coverage and newsmaker profiles.


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Republican Presidential Candidates on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (ContributorNetwork)

According to a CNN report, Newt Gingrich started a consulting company after he left Congress, the Gingrich Group, and was paid $1.6 million to $1.8 million for consulting Freddie Mac. Due to the fact many believe mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were partly responsible for the collapse of the U.S. housing market, the candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination were asked for their opinions on this issue and corruption in Washington, in general.

Here is what they said, according to a debate transcript provided by the American Presidency Project:

* Newt Gingrich: "Barney Frank was in public office with direct power over Freddie Mac. He exploited that power just as Chris Dodd was in public office when he got special bargains from Countrywide, a firm that went broke. They were using power. I was a private citizen, engaged in a business like any other business. I worked for years with Habitat for Humanity. I think it's a good conservative principle to try to find ways to help families that are right at the margin learn how to budget, learn how to take care of a house, learn how to buy a house. And I'm not going to step back from the idea that in fact we should have as a goal, helping as many Americans as possible be capable of buying homes. And when you look for example at electric membership co-ops, and you look at credit unions, there are a lot of government sponsored enterprises that are awfully important and do an awfully good job."

* Ron Paul: "Well (Gingrich) has a different definition of the private sector than I have. Because it's a GSE, government sponsored enterprise. That's completely different ? the worst kind of economy. You know, pure private enterprise, more closely probably to what Gov. Romney is involved with, but if it's government-sponsored, it's a mixture of business and government. It's very, very dangerous. Some people say, if it goes to extreme, it becomes fascism, because big business and big government get together."

* Michele Bachman: "We know that (Gingrich) cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That's the best evidence that you can have, over $1.6 million. And, frankly, I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House, because he's defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. There's a big difference between a credit union and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And they were the epicenter of the mortgage financial meltdown. I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy because they, frankly, need to go away, when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That's absolutely wrong. We can't have as our nominee for the Republican Party someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They need to be shut down, not built up."

* Mitt Romney, as reported by the Huffington Post: "One of the things that I think that people recognize in Washington is that people go there to serve the people and then they stay there to serve themselves. ... By the way, a very different number ($1.6 million) than (Gingrich) said in the first debate. He said $300,000 and he was there as an historian."


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Friday, December 23, 2011

Defending the genome

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Small, mobile sequences of DNA left over from viruses, called transposons or "jumping genes" because of their ability to move around the genome, pose a significant threat to the genetic integrity and stability of an organism. Considered genetic parasites, these transposable elements are believed to comprise as much as 50 percent of the human genome. Because of the damage transposons can do to an organism's DNA, an immune-like response has evolved to turn off, or silence, these mobile genetic elements.

New research published in the journal Cell by the labs of William E. Theurkauf and Zhiping Weng at the University of Massachusetts Medical School sheds light on how the genome defends itself from these invading DNA parasites.

While it's known that specific small RNAs called Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are responsible for silencing transposons, how this biologically critical system reacts to the introduction of a new transposon isn't fully understood. "The genome is littered with these transposons," said William E. Theurkauf, PhD, professor of molecular medicine at UMass Medical School and lead author of the study. "In Drosophila there are over 120 different forms of transposons and these are the active pathogen that we are looking at in this host-pathogen response. Meanwhile, piRNAs are produced from regions of the genome that contain bits and pieces of these transposons, and are the foundation for how these elements get silenced."

To understand how a genome responds to the introduction of a new transposon, Theurkauf and colleagues turned to a wild Drosophila, or fruit flies. Unlike standard lab-bred fruit flies, wild Drosophila contain a transposon called the P element that first began appearing in the population after scientists started breeding fruit flies to study genetic heredity in the early part of the 20th century. As a result, lab-bred fruit flies lack the P element transposon and the maternally inherited piRNA necessary to silence it. When these lab-bred females are crossed with the P element-carrying wild fruit flies, the off-spring are unable to silence the invading transposon and are sterile as a result.

Jaspreet Khurana, a PhD student in Theurkauf's lab, made the keen observation that as these flies aged the hybrids were gaining fertility. "Based on the observation that the flies recovered, it seemed likely that they were learning how to shut down transposons. We decided to use this system to look at the process of adaptation to a new transposable element," said Theurkauf.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach that included next generation sequencing, Theurkauf and colleagues were able to get complete genetic sequences of the sterile, hybrid flies at various stages of development. Jie Wang, PhD, a postdoc in the lab of Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor and director of the Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology at UMass Medical School, analyzed the genetic information to see how the genome was responding to the introduction of the new transposon.

What they found was startling. In the hybrid off spring, the new transposon had triggered a response that disrupted the entire piRNA machinery. Not only was the newly introduced transposon jumping around the genome and causing a problem ? which was expected ? but most of the 120 plus transposons in the Drosophila genome had also become active. "This massive destabilization of the genome is probably why they're sterile," said Theurkauf.

As the hybrids aged, however, the new transposon and all the existing, resident transposons, got shut down and fertility was restored. "We found there were two mechanisms responsible for silencing the transposons," said Weng. "For P elements it turned out the flies learned to process the piRNA transcripts inherited from the father and turn them into mature piRNAs and silence the transposon. Resident transposons, by contrast, jump into piRNA clusters and alter the architecture in a way that makes new piRNAs that can silence the resident elements."

"The bottom line on our study is when you introduce a single, new transposon it leads to a genetic crisis that activates all the transposons in the genome and compromises fertility in these hybrids," said Theurkauf. "Remarkably, what emerges at the other end is an organism with an altered genome architecture that functionally recharges the piRNA clusters so they more effectively silence transposons."


University of Massachusetts Medical School:

Thanks to University of Massachusetts Medical School for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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Hourglass Timer Stool Nixes Tantrums in Just 5 Minutes [Furniture]

Though it looks the part, this stool isn't a training potty—but it will take the piss out of your kids. It's actually a giant sand timer designed for time outs, sequestering rowdy ruffians for a calming five minutes. More »


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Helen Mirren to Pay a Royal Visit to Glee (omg!)

Helen Mirren | Photo Credits: Samuel Dietz/Getty Images

Helen Mirren will guest-star on Glee ? but you'll have to listen closely to catch her.

The Oscar winner for The Queen will provide the inner voice of a character in what is potentially a recurring gig, TVLine reports. Mirren recorded the "long and hilarious monologues" two weeks ago and later surprised the cast on set, a source tells the site.

Check out photos of Helen Mirren

The part was written for Mirren, and the show's producers asked Eric Stoltz, a frequent Glee director and Mirren's The Passion of Ayn Rand co-star, to pitch it to her.

Mirren's episode will air Jan. 17 and will also feature The Real Housewives of Atlanta's NeNe Leakes as new swim coach Roz Washington.

Are you excited to hear Helen Mirren? Whose inner dialogue would require the dame's efforts?

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Arianna Huffington: Sunday Roundup

This week, the Pentagon marked the official end to the war in Iraq with a brief ceremony in a secure part of the Baghdad airport -- helicopters hovering protectively overhead. Although Defense Secretary Leon Panetta later declared that the cost paid by America was "worth it," a look at the price tag offers a more sobering assessment: 4,487 U.S. military personnel killed, over 2,000 U.S. government contractors killed, over 40,000 American troops wounded, over 100,000 Iraqis killed, at least 2 million Iraqis displaced from their homes, and a final tab that could ultimately reach $4 trillion doled out by U.S. taxpayers (a far cry from the $50 billion to $80 billion the Defense Department originally predicted it would cost). And beyond the cost in lives and treasure are the less quantifiable costs we'll be paying for years to come, including the strengthening of Iran and the weakening of America's moral standing in the world.




Follow Arianna Huffington on Twitter:

Read more from Huffington Post bloggers:

Stephanie Schriock: Women and the Road Home From Iraq

Though there are no words, I can only say today thank you to every American woman and man who served in Iraq. I will always be grateful for their sacrifice, and grateful for the women fighting to make sure that sacrifice is honored.

Tom Matzzie: You Ended the War in Iraq

America is weary of war and this war has been a psychic trauma on the United States that has shaken core beliefs of many. Now that it is over we must work to end other wars and start nation building here at home.

Alex Cornell du Houx: Welcome Home

The men and women of our military have, with skill and bravery, brought Iraq back from the brink. Today, they can all be proud of what they've accomplished and overjoyed to be coming home.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gunmen attack chopper near Indonesia Freeport mine

Airport officials and plain-clothed security officers examine a damaged helicopter that was shot by unidentified gunmen, inside a hangar at an airport in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011. Gunmen attacked the helicopter carrying 29 workers and family members from Freeport-McMoRan's trouble-plagued gold and copper mine in eastern Indonesian, wounding one person Saturday, officials said. (AP Photo)

Airport officials and plain-clothed security officers examine a damaged helicopter that was shot by unidentified gunmen, inside a hangar at an airport in Timika, Papua province, Indonesia, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011. Gunmen attacked the helicopter carrying 29 workers and family members from Freeport-McMoRan's trouble-plagued gold and copper mine in eastern Indonesian, wounding one person Saturday, officials said. (AP Photo)

(AP) ? Gunmen attacked a helicopter carrying 29 workers and family members from Freeport-McMoRan's trouble-plagued gold and copper mine in eastern Indonesian on Saturday, wounding one person, officials said.

The attack came as thousands of unionized employees were preparing to return to the Grasberg mine in the mountains of Papua province following a three-month strike that has crippled production at the sprawling operation.

Though the 8,000 striking workers were supposed to be back on the job Saturday after management agreed to a 37 percent pay hike, union spokesman Juli Parorrongan said plans were pushed back so the two sides could iron out last minute details.

It was not immediately clear who was behind Saturday's attack or what the motive may have been.

Those on the Hevilift chopper did not appear to be tied to the work stoppage.

Unidentified gunmen opened fire minutes after liftoff from the mining town of Tembagapura, said police spokesman Col. Wachjono.

With only slight damage to the body of the aircraft, the Russian pilots were able to continue on to Timika, where they landed safely.

Mary Jane Mather, the Filipino wife of one of the employees, was being treated for shrapnel wounds, another police officer said.

The Phoenix-based Freeport ? which had hoped the end of the three-month strike would spell the end of trouble at its Grasberg mine ? said a full investigation would be carried out into the attack.

Parorrongan, the union representative, meanwhile, said he hoped the striking workers would be back to their jobs "soon," possibly by the middle of next week.

The two sides still were hammering out the finer points, such as how to mobilize those who live far from the mining town and a guarantee that those who took part in the strike would not face any sanctions, he said.

Tensions between the two sides soared after workers walked off their jobs on Sept. 15 ? the second strike in a matter of months ? several times erupting in violence.

At least nine people were killed, including several strikers shot by security forces.

A pipeline carrying ore concentrate to the port was damaged in an apparent act of sabotage. Strikers also blockaded roads leading to the mining town, making it difficult for Freeport to get food, medicine and other supplies to holed up contractors, non-striking workers and their families.

Indonesia has had a long, complicated relationship with Freeport ? a powerful player in the world markets for gold, copper and molybdenum ? and Papua, home to a decades-long low-level guerrilla war that has left more than 100,000 people dead, many at the hands of security forces.

The company's admission several years ago that it was paying military and police to handle security operations at Grasberg, located high in the jungle-clad mountains, has been a source of ongoing controversy.

Locals also complain that, despite the mine's massive profits, they have seen little benefit, earning as little as $2 an hour. They point also to environmental damage caused by mine waste products pumped into the Aghawagon River and its tributaries.


Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report from Jakarta.

Associated Press


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Justin Bieber holiday special lands at TLC (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES ( ? Christmas just came early for Justin Bieber fans -- or at least, the Justin Bieber fans who watch TLC.

The network will air the one-hour holiday special "This Is Justin Bieber" on Wednesday, December 21 at 9 p.m. The special will take viewers "beyond the music and past the hype with an intimate look into the inner workings of Justin Bieber's world," according to TLC.

Filmed in England, the special finds the "Baby" singer embarking on a private tour of London with British television personality Reggie Yates, performing on the British "X Factor," and collaborating with British "Pass Out" rapper Tinie Tempah.

Intrigued and enthralled to the point of distraction? Of course -- how couldn't you be? Give yourself a little taste of things to come with this preview clip from "This Is Justin Bieber."


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Exclusive: Made in Texas: Apple's A5 iPhone chip (Reuters)

SAN FRANCISCO ? Apple Inc is famous for relying on low-cost Asian manufacturers to both source and assemble its popular gadgets, but the consumer device giant recently started receiving a critical component in its iPad and iPhones from closer to home - Texas.

The A5 processor - the brain in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 - is now made in a sprawling 1.6 million square feet factory in Austin owned by Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics, according to people familiar with the operation.

One of the few major components to be sourced from within the United States, the A5 processor is built by Samsung in a newly constructed $3.6 billion non-memory chip production line that reached full production in early December.

Nearly all of the output of the non-memory chip production from the factory - which is the size of about nine football fields - is dedicated to producing Apple chips, one of the people said. Samsung also produces NAND flash memory chips in Austin.

The South Korean giant began supplying the A5 processors to Apple this year from the Austin plant, the people said.

Apple declined to comment, saying it does not detail supplier relationships. A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment on its customers and the specification of the chips made in its Austin plant.

But she said the company expanded the Austin factory to include a production line to make logic chips. The A5 is one such chip.

The powerful A5 processor, which uses technology licensed from Britain's ARM Holdings, is designed by Apple in California.

The A5 chip debuted in Apple's iPad 2 in March and now also powers the new iPhone 4S. The 120 square millimeter chip is twice as fast as its predecessor, the A4, which is also made by Samsung, according to reports from teardown firms that have taken Apple's devices apart.


Apart from Austin, Samsung has only one other non-memory logic chip factory, in South Korea.

Apple relies on its main contract manufacturer for gadgets, Foxconn, to assemble them, mainly in its factories in China and Taiwan.

The roaring success of both the iPad and iPhone has helped the city of Austin, where Freescale Semiconductor is based and other chip companies, like ARM, Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, also have operations.

Semiconductor companies are attracted to Austin because of a steady supply of educated employees from the University of Texas' engineering school.

Samsung has added about 1,100 jobs to support the new non-memory chip production in the factory, which produces 40,000 silicon wafers every month, a Samsung spokeswoman said.

The rest of Samsung's total 2,400 employees in Austin work in its NAND flash memory factory by the logic chip factory, she added.

The Korean company, which began the U.S. plant in 1996 to make its NAND flash memory chips, continues to produce them there in addition to the A5.

Samsung's factory is the largest foreign investment in Texas with a total investment of about $9 billion, according to Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Austin is also home to an Apple customer call center that deals with customer complaints in North America, Apple's biggest market. The Cupertino company employs thousands in that facility, who deal with calls ranging from complaints to support.

While Apple is one of Samsung's largest customers, both are arch-rivals in the smartphone and tablet marketplace. The two companies are also locked in an acrimonious patent infringement battle that spans multiple countries and products.

(Additional reporting by Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Miyoung Kim in Seoul; Editing by Gary Hill)


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Forum 2012: Research for Health | Tracking Investment in Research ...

By Kevin Fisher*, Policy Director, AVAC**: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention
How much money will it take to end AIDS?

In a new investment framework, UNAIDS and partners look at interventions such as prevention of parent-to-child transmission, condom promotion and distribution, male circumcision, and behavior change programs ? proven techniques on the path towards eradicating AIDS ? and recommend that interventions should be strategically implemented based on local epidemic contexts. Implementation of the new investment framework would, UNAIDS estimated, avert 12.2 million new HIV infections and 7.4 million deaths from AIDS between 2011 and 2020 compared with continuation of present approaches.

While new developments, such as treatment for prevention, are addressed, the investment framework does not analyze the costs or benefits of research and development currently underway. To end the epidemic we also need to continue to invest in new prevention technologies currently in the pipeline (such as vaccines) or recently validated (such as male circumcision, microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that will enable us to have the tools we need for each epidemic context. How much is currently being invested in developing an HIV vaccine, one of the most powerful tools for tackling infectious diseases on a population level, and how much more investment is needed? Or, how much is being invested in operations research to improve male circumcision delivery?

Since 2004, the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group has followed investments in HIV prevention research. The information collected is used by advocates, researchers, funders, and policy makers to assess how much is spent on HIV prevention R&D and what areas need increased resources. The Working Group is a collaboration of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
In 2010, the Working Group found that $859 million was invested in preventive HIV vaccines. However, even the $859 million invested in 2010 is $100 million short of investment in 2007 (and the decrease is even more pronounced when inflation is taken into account), and funding cuts are on the horizon for vaccine research programs that have produced groundbreaking findings.

Tracking investments towards HIV prevention R&D is particularly important as we face donor fatigue and a widening global HIV funding gap. Tracking resources allows us ?

? To put into perspective funding numbers. While vaccine funding may have decreased, overall investment in HIV prevention R&D overall increased by 1.3% in 2010 with increases for microbicides, PrEP and male circumcision;

? To hold accountable public, private and philanthropic donors to sustain and increase funding for areas where research has progressed; and,

? To ensure efficient and effective investments in the whole HIV prevention toolbox ? including microbicides, PrEP, treatment as prevention, male circumcision, treatment for prevention and female condoms.
In other words, it allows us to find out if we have been investing in our priorities. As the Working Group collects 2011 funding data, conclusions to guide a strategic investment in HIV prevention R&D will emerge ? conclusions mindful of our limited resources and hopeful that donors don?t lose sight of the progress being made on the path toward ending the epidemic.

*Kevin Fisher, JD, MSc ? Policy Director, AVAC

Kevin is the Policy Director of AVAC and focuses on new regulatory, legislative, financial and scientific approaches to accelerating the development new HIV prevention options. He also serves as the principal researcher and author of the annual resource tracking reports from the HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Resource Tracking Working Group. He serves as a member of the AIDS Vaccine Research Subcommittee, and as co-chair of the Research subcommittee of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership

Prior to joining AVAC, Kevin worked for over 20 years as a regulatory and transactional counsel, most recently as Senior Counsel with Covington & Burling. Previously he worked in a pro-bono capacity on drug and vaccine development and delivery issues for groups such as the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Global Development and the World Parkinson Congress. Kevin has a BA from Brown University in Urban Studies, a JD from New York University School of Law and an MSc in Epidemiology from Columbia University?s Mailman School of Public Health.


**AVAC | Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention

Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines, male circumcision, microbicides, PrEP and other emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Mandate options "The Young, The Hot, and The Bothered" (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES ( ? Mandate Pictures has optioned "The Young, The Hot, And The Bothered," a coming-of-age comedy from 25-year-old writer Leah Rachel, the studio said Thursday.

Dan Jinks ("American Beauty," "Milk") has signed on to produce.

"Leah Rachel, at only 25 years old, is the freshest and funniest writer I've come across in some time," Jinks said in a statement. "Her script has the potential to become a touchstone movie for a generation, like 'American Graffiti' or 'Sixteen Candles' were years ago."

The movie is about "the delusion, desperation and absolute euphoria of first loves," reads Mandate's sparse logline for the project.

HBO has already picked up Rachel's pilot "Starf*cker," with Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg producing.

The show is about a group of female friends in Los Angeles. She also has a single-camera half-hour sitcom set up at ABC, with Jamie Tarses and Julia Franz producing. That show came from a blind deal Rachel had with Sony Pictures Television.

She also is writing an adaptation of the book "Here Lies Bridget," with Kat Coiro ("Life Happens") directing.


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Kim Kardashian Splashes Out $65,000 On Jewelry At Elizabeth Taylor Auction

Kim Kardashian Splashes Out $65,000 On Jewelry At Elizabeth Taylor Auction

Reality star Kim Kardashian was among the winning bidders at the Elizabeth Taylor jewelry auction in New York today. Kim paid $65,000 for three bangle [...]

Kim Kardashian Splashes Out $65,000 On Jewelry At Elizabeth Taylor Auction Stupid Celebrities Gossip Stupid Celebrities Gossip News


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'Batman' star Bale tries to visit China activist (AP)

BEIJING ? "Batman" star Christian Bale, in the midst of promoting a film he made in China that some critics have called propaganda, was stopped trying to visit a blind activist living under house arrest ? with a CNN crew in tow.

CNN posted footage of a scuffle between Bale and the activist's guards on its website Friday.

The run-in and publicity is likely to cause discomfort in China's government-backed film industry, which hopes Bale's movie "The Flowers of War" will be a creative success at home and abroad. It also raises questions about whether it was prudent to bring the star to see an activist guarded by thugs who have turned away dozens of reporters and fellow activists trying to see him in the past.

Bale was due to leave China on Friday and his representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. A CNN spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about the story, but said a statement would be forthcoming.

Bale, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for last year's "The Fighter," traveled Thursday with a crew from CNN to the village in eastern China where blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng lives with his family in complete isolation.

They were stopped at the entrance to Dongshigu village in Shandong province by unidentified men.

The footage shows Bale asking to see Chen, with a CNN producer providing interpretation, but being ordered by one of the guards to leave. He then asked why he was unable to pass through. The guards responded by trying to grab or punch a small video camera Bale was carrying.

"What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is," Bale was quoted as saying by CNN.

Journalists and scores of Chinese human rights activists have sought to visit Chen in the past, all unsuccessfully. Chen's case has also been raised publicly by U.S. congressmen and diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, all to no response from China.

CNN said Bale first learned of Chen from news reports when he was in China filming "The Flowers of War," China's official submission for best foreign language film Oscar. It said he "reached out to CNN and invited us to join him on his journey to visit Chen."


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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Annals Of Varrchiel

Howdy-hey, Darkmatter! Your friendly neighborhood Sato dropping in.

Just wanted to let you know that you've posted this in the Interest Check forum, which is not a place for existing roleplays. This is where potential GMs go to cast out a net for people with similar interests who might want to join them. This is the stage before coming up with a fleshed out world, usually. The stage before a link to any IC content can be produced!

You'll want to get this moved to the Roleplayers Wanted forum, which is a place for GMs like yourself to post ads of sorts for their existing roleplays. In most cases, the GMs cannot either start or continue their stories until very specific character roles have been filled.

Make sense? I sure hope so. You'll want to ask a moderator to move this thread to the correct forum. No big deal! xD



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Monday, December 5, 2011

Mexico drug war refugees escape to more bloodshed (AP)

VERACRUZ, Mexico ? Rafael Echevarria had a steady factory job, a modest home of his own, and enough cash to occasionally take his family to McDonald's. It was a good life until the drug war hit Ciudad Juarez, followed by two robberies at his house, extortion at his daughter's school, and finally, the shootout on the bus.

When the firing began, 6-year-old Valeria dove to the floor, breaking a tooth. There was so much blood from her mouth wound, her parents thought she'd been shot.

The next day, the couple and their two children boarded a flight back home to Veracruz, along with 1,600 others who had once moved north for work in foreign assembly plants and now were fleeing south in search of safety. The Veracruz state government paid for the flights, and assured the drug war refugees that there would be jobs, education and housing.

At the time, it seemed to the Echevarrias like the only solution.

Then the drug war followed them home.

Military offensives against the drug cartels and turf battles among crime syndicates have pushed the war into areas once considered quiet. A year after their hopeful flight, the Echevarrias are not only caught anew in a crush of violence, but still without the promised help.

In Juarez, the Echevarrias had a house and a van. In Veracruz, they've had to pawn their appliances and move to a concrete hut to make ends meet. The trade of solvency for safety was a fake choice, because in Juarez, Echevarria said, "We would have been living well.

"Now we're in a hole. And it's very difficult to get out."

The Echevarrias are among thousands of Mexicans who make up the internal diaspora trying to escape drug violence that seems to migrate rather than cease, with more than 45,000 troops fighting cartels and more than 40,000 dead by many counts.

Recent survey results by Parametria found that 1.6 million Mexicans have moved because of drug violence since 2006. One study by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre put the number at 230,000 in 2010, estimating that half fled to the United States.

Another study, by demographer Rodolfo Rubio at Colegio de la Frontera Norte, says 200,000 people left Juarez alone for other Mexican cities between 2007 and 2010.

Many of the affected are working class or poor who can't leave the country.

"People who have status or small medium-sized businesses don't have a problem going to the U.S.," said Genoveva Roldan, a migration expert at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez. "That's not the case for workers in the maquiladoras. They don't have that option."

Veracruz is a steamy, tropical mountain state that cultivates sugar cane and coffee. Curling along the lower dip of Mexico's Gulf coast, it is known for its scenic beauty, rich farmlands and busy port, one of Mexico's largest. But it was the lack of opportunity there that drove thousands of Veracruzanos northward beginning in the 1990s, when border factories started recruiting assembly workers with above-average wages and benefits.

Echevarria had grown up poor and left school in the ninth grade to help his father support the family. He joined the navy for a while, he says, and later became a taxi driver. But it wasn't enough to pay the bills.

In 2004, he and his wife, Alejandra Duran, decided they could build a better life in Ciudad Juarez for their two younger children.

There, Echevarria and his son, Cristian, found jobs working in the assembly plants that largely produce goods exported to the U.S. Cristian rose to quality control inspector in a factory that made printer cartridges. Together the two made about 14,000 pesos a month, nearly triple Mexico's average salary.

They bought a three-bedroom house on the southeastern outskirts of town, as well as a van.

"Juarez was a land that helped people," Duran said.

By 2008, the drug wars shattered the peace. Two rival cartels ? Juarez and Sinaloa ? began fighting for control of the lucrative smuggling corridor to the U.S. The annual murder rate nearly doubled from 1,600 in 2008 to 3,100 in 2010.

President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers to curb drug violence, and later federal police to patrol the streets and lead counterattacks.

Nonetheless, the Echevarria house was robbed twice. An uncle was attacked by a group of men trying to steal his car.

Then came the extortion. Valeria's teacher told the Echevarrias that gang members were asking for a weekly fee from the school.

It was hard to sleep, Echevarria said.

In early 2010, word got around that the Veracruz government was offering to evacuate the refugees and help them resettle.

The day after the bus shooting, the Echevarrias abandoned their house and left with a washing machine, a set of saucepans, a dining table, Valeria's dresser and her Disney princess chairs.

Once back in Veracruz, Cristian Echevarria got a job as a cashier in a convenience store, while his father decided to get a taxi driver's permit.

Valeria had stopped talking after the trauma of the bus shooting, instead spending her time drawing pictures of corpses in the graves that were found around their Juarez neighborhood. But she seemed to improve after enrolling in school.

Then-Gov. Fidel Herrera's administration also promised to transfer the title of Echevarrias' home in Juarez to a government-subsidized house in Veracruz.

That never happened. The phones to the offices set up to help the returning residents stopped working. A new governor, Javier Duarte, took office last December. Gina Dominguez, Duarte's spokeswoman, said the "social agenda" was going in a different direction.

"It was a good program on paper," she said. "But obviously the execution wasn't simple because it had to provide for everyone."

Herrera did not respond to requests for an interview.

Echevarria couldn't get help paying the 6,000 pesos for his taxi license plates.

Veracruz had long been a route for drugs and migrants coming from the south. For years it was dominated by the Gulf cartel, which had contracted with a gang of former army special forces ? the Zetas. Because the state and the port were controlled by one drug gang, it was quiet.

In early 2010 the Zetas split from the Gulf cartel, triggering a vicious war in the border state of Tamaulipas, just north of Veracruz. This year a government offensive to stop that drug war spilled the violence into Veracruz.

The bloodshed worsened in the last few months, when a third cartel thought to be aligned with Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, moved into Veracruz to try to take over drug operations.

The results of the cartel wars became visible to commuters in September, when a group of masked men stopped rush-hour traffic to dump 35 strangled bodies onto a main thoroughfare. Banners left at the scene claimed the dead were Zetas, though official reports have questioned their link to the drug gang. The victims included bricklayers, former police officers and a taxi driver.

The Echevarrias found themselves in a situation worse than the one they'd fled.

They had moved to a slum of concrete-block housing outside Veracruz to save 500 pesos a month in rent.

During a recent visit, Rafael came home looking pale, walked straight to the bathroom, and threw up.

"He has high blood sugar," said his wife. "He's under a lot of pressure because these are the worst years we've ever had."

The Echevarrias explained that they pawned their refrigerator and stove to pay for the taxi license plates, only to discover that driving a cab was no longer safe.

"They've kidnapped 10 taxi drivers. They asked me to sell drugs," Rafael said. "Yes, I'm scared. I need to provide for my family."

The Echevarrias now make far less than the average wage of $250 pesos a day, about $19.

Alejandra uncovered a saucepan filled with red rice. A loaf of bread sat on a plate. There was no milk. In a big black bag, they'd save plastic bottles collected from the streets to sell for 5 pesos a kilo.

Valeria, now 8, scratched at a rash on her neck. "I don't like it here," she said.

The family is ducking bullets again, but this time in their home.

Cristian said more than 20 men dressed as marines arrived a few weeks ago to their neighborhood, rifles in hand. Valeria heard the shots. Cristian pulled her into an inside room where the family waited.

In a separate attack, Cristian said, four of his childhood friends were killed and three others kidnapped.

The move to Veracruz was a mistake, he said.

When Cristian finishes high school in June, he will move back to their Juarez house and look for work. If he is successful, the rest of the family will join him.

The homicides there have dropped from 2,657 in the first 10 months of 2010 to 1,730 in 2011. They continue to fall.

Valeria doesn't remember the time when she wouldn't talk and only communicated with drawings, when she was a chipped-tooth girl who barely smiled.

But she has returned to drawing, this time a man dressed in a military uniform pointing a gun at another man with a pink spot on his belly. Three passers-by scream, "He's going to shoot!"

She titled it, "The governor saves the people."


Adriana Gomez Licon is a Mexico correspondent for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at


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