Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Hackers attack large Brazilian bank (AP)

SAO PAULO, Brazil ? A group of Internet hackers said Tuesday it took down the website of Brazil's second largest private sector bank, one day after it did the same with the country's largest private bank.

The group that calls itself "Anonymous Brasil" said on Twitter: "Attention sailors: Target hit! The http://bradesco.com.br is sinking. TANGO DOWN."

Banco Bradesco SA said in a statement that its site suffered "momentary interruptions," due to high traffic, but that it was never forced offline. However, The Associated Press was unable to access the site in repeated attempts Tuesday.

The group said on Twitter that its attacks were a protest against corruption and would continue for at least a week.

On Monday, the group attacked the website of Itau Unibanco Banco Multiplo SA, Brazil's largest private sector bank, saying it was the first of several such attacks.

That bank said in a statement that its site was offline for part of the day, but that it was re-established after the problem was detected.

The Brazilian Federation of Banks said in a statement posted on its website that it has been calling for approval of a law that criminalizes electronic attacks and fraud.

One week ago, the websites of the Sao Paulo state government and state court were taken down for a few hours by the same group of hackers.

Anonymous Brasil said the attacks were to protest the evictions of some 5,000 people from a sprawling slum.

In June of last year, hackers struck the website of Brazil's statistics agency and temporarily blocked traffic to the websites of the Brazilian presidency, the nation's internal revenue service, oil company Petrobras, the Senate and the Sports Ministry

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/internet/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120131/ap_on_hi_te/lt_brazil_hacker_attack

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State Dept: Americans take refuge at Cairo embassy

By msnbc.com staff and news services

Several American citizens have taken shelter in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo amid a sharpening dispute between Washington and Egypt's military-led authorities over U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups in the country, the State Department said on Monday.

"We can confirm that a handful of U.S. citizens have opted to stay in the embassy compound in Cairo while waiting for permission to depart Egypt," State Department spokeswoman Kate Starr said.

According to The New York Times, colleagues confirmed at least two American citizens were being protected at the embassy?from potential arrest.

The unusual step of offering U.S. citizens diplomatic refuge follows Cairo's crackdown on non-governmental organizations, including several funded by the U.S. government, which saw travel bans imposed on six American staffers including a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

State Department officials said they do not believe the Americans are in any physical danger, but said they had "concerns given the fact that they want to leave the country and were disallowed."

"There is no expectation any of these individuals are seeking to avoid any kind of judicial process," State Department spokespersonVictoria Nuland said. "Our view is that these people ought to be able to travel freely, that we need to expedite the process of whatever kind of formal registration is ultimately going to be allowed for them, if their property needs to be returned, and that it is in the interest of Egypt's democratic transition not only for international democracy NGOs to be able to operate but for Egyptian democracy NGOs to be able to operate, and that they have already played a strong role in supporting the good elections that have already taken place, and there are more elections coming up."

Raids and crackdown
Egyptian police first raided the groups in late December as part of an investigation into foreign funding of 17 pro-democracy and human rights groups, part of what civil society groups say has been a broader crackdown on critics of the army's heavy-handed tactics in dealing with street unrest.

Washington has strongly criticized the Egyptian move, which has cast a pall over U.S.-Egypt relations as the most populous Arab nation reaches a critical stage in its uncertain transition away from authoritarian rule.

Leading U.S. lawmakers have also voiced outrage over the incident, and American officials have repeatedly warned that Washington may have to take a fresh look at U.S. aid to Egypt's military, which now runs about $1.3 billion per year.

The six U.S. citizens hit with travel bans work with the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. Both receive U.S. public funding and are loosely affiliated with the two major political parties in Washington.

The State Department did not provide details on the Americans sheltering in the embassy, although officials at the NDI said none of their staff had been relocated.

U.S. officials said an Egyptian military delegation was expected in Washington this week for regular talks, which are nevertheless expected to focus in large part on the impasse over the NGOs.

U.S. expresses concern over restrictions
President Barack Obama spoke with the head of Egypt's ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on January 20 and stressed the importance of the NGOs, as well as Egypt's request for $3.2 billion in support from the International Monetary Fund.

In a weekend call to Tantawi, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged the Egyptians to take steps to lift the travel ban on Americans wishing to leave the country, and expressed concern over restrictions placed on NGOs, the Pentagon said.

The Obama administration is finalizing its budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which will be presented on February 13 and is expected to include continued assistance for Egypt's military, albeit subject to new conditions imposed by U.S. lawmakers.

Those include evidence that Egyptian military authorities are committed to holding free and fair elections and implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/30/10271475-state-dept-americans-take-refuge-at-cairo-embassy

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Nevada officials: Luxor guests had Legionnaires' (AP)

LAS VEGAS ? Health officials in Las Vegas said Monday that the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease was found in water samples at the Luxor hotel-casino this month after a guest died of the form of pneumonia.

The Southern Nevada Health District said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national surveillance program reported three cases in the past year of Luxor guests being diagnosed with the disease caused by Legionella bacteria.

The Las Vegas Strip resort's water was tested after the first two cases were reported during the spring of last year, but no Legionella bacteria was detected, district officials said. Those guests recovered.

Officials say the Luxor, owned by MGM Resorts International, immediately began a remediation process once the bacteria was found.

MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Absher said treatment procedures include superheating and super-chlorination of the water system.

"We are confident in the integrity of our systems and the safety protocols we follow at all our hotels. Guest and employee safety is always a top priority at our company," Absher said. "Even before last summer, MGM Resorts led the industry with aggressive and stringent programs to control Legionella issues common to all large buildings."

Absher said the company's resorts regularly test for Legionella and treat water systems preventatively, before bacteria are detected.

The new cases come as the company is already facing a civil lawsuit from guests who said they were infected with Legionella at the Aria Resort & Casino, part of the CityCenter complex that is half-owned by MGM Resorts.

MGM Resorts notified guests that they might have been exposed to the bacteria between June 21 and July 4 after the district reported six cases of Legionnaires' disease in July. The district said those guests recovered after treatment.

Eight guests sued in August, seeking $337.5 million in damages from the resort and its builders. An MGM Resorts spokesman at the time denied negligence, saying hotel officials carefully communicated with its guests and reimbursed them fairly for legitimate medical expenses. The case is still pending in federal court in Las Vegas.

Legionella is commonly found in the environment in fresh water, the district said. Symptoms of Legionnaires' disease usually begin within two weeks of being exposed to the bacteria, the district said.

Most people who are exposed to the bacteria don't get sick, according to the CDC. Smokers, people over age 50 and those who have chronic lung disease or weak immune systems are most susceptible, the CDC said.

The bacteria isn't spread between people. It grows most often in warm water, infecting people when they breathe in mist or vapor that has been contaminated.

District officials said between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease each year, and can cause death in up to 30 percent of cases. Officials said as many as one-fourth of reported Legionnaires' cases are associated with travel, so health investigators typically ask for travel histories when they look into individual cases.

The disease takes its name from an outbreak at the Pennsylvania American Legion convention held at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in 1976.


Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/health/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120130/ap_on_he_me/us_legionnaires__disease_luxor

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Monday, 30 January 2012

Santorum: Daughter with pneumonia recovering (AP)

BOCA RATON, Fla. ? Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Sunday his daughter Bella remains in the hospital with pneumonia but is recovering after a rough 36 hours.

Santorum spoke with Florida supporters by telephone from 3-year-old Bella's hospital room and said doctors hope she can go home in the next few days.

The former Pennsylvania senator also said, "We're going to get out on the campaign trail later tomorrow ... heading out to the Midwest, and start campaigning in the next states as we move this campaign forward."

Santorum aides did not immediately provide details, but his advisers are looking at upcoming contests in Missouri and Minnesota, as well as Arizona and Colorado.

"I feel very, very good about where we are and where the campaign is going," the candidate said.

But during the call with Florida voters, Santorum opened his remarks with his daughter, who has a genetic condition known as Trisomy 18. The condition typically proves fatal and Santorum often says his daughter wasn't expected to live past 12 months.

"She without a doubt has turned the corner," he said.

Santorum called his daughter's recovery a "miraculous turnaround" after an unexpected detour from the campaign just days before Tuesday's Florida primary.

Santorum got to his home in Virginia around midnight Friday for a quick break to do his taxes, but found his daughter "was not doing well."

"I was up with her a lot of the night," he said. "By the end of the day, it was really, really clear she was struggling."

Saturday evening, Santorum aides announced Bella had been admitted to the hospital and they canceled his morning interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" and church services in Miami. His aides later canceled his trip to Florida and instead sent his 20-year-old daughter to campaign for him.

Santorum described the situation as a "very, very tough night last night" but said by late Sunday Bella was "alert and back to her own beautiful, happy girl."

"It's been a very hectic 36 hours," Santorum said. "Life in the Santorum family has dramatically improved since the late afternoon."

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/politics/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120130/ap_on_el_pr/us_santorum_daughter

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Dick Van Dyke Presents Mary Tyler Moore With Lifetime Achievement Award (omg!)

Dick Van Dyke Presents Mary Tyler Moore With Lifetime Achievement Award

It's been 51 years since audiences first fell in love with Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The admiration continued Sunday, when the 75-year-old actress was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with a lifetime achievement award, presented by her TV husband, Dick Van Dyke.

PHOTOS: 2012 SAG Awards - What the Stars Wore!

During her speech, Moore revealed how using her middle name professionally changed the course of her career. "I spoke it out loud. It sounded right," Moore told the star-studded audience. "I wrote it out on the form, and it looked right. And it was right."

VIDEO: Best and worst SAG dresses of all time

Van Dyke, 86, spoke fondly of the actress, saying: "I know everyone loves her, but I mean, I'm serious about it. I saw her first."

Moore -- who had a benign tumor on the lining tissue of her skull removed in May 2011 -- was also recognized for raising awareness and funds for diabetes research.

PHOTOS: Sizzling seniors

Previous Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement recipients include Betty White, James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews, Clint Eastwod and Robert Redford.

Get more Us! Follow us on Twitter, Friend us on Facebook, Subscribe to Us Weekly

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/entertainment/*http%3A//us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/external/omg_rss/rss_omg_en/news_dick_van_dyke_presents_mary_tyler_moore_lifetime031533893/44350503/*http%3A//omg.yahoo.com/news/dick-van-dyke-presents-mary-tyler-moore-lifetime-031533893.html

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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Mad Catz MLG Pro Circuit controller review (PS3)

While most of us play games purely for their entertainment value, an elite few get their game on while calling themselves "professionals." These superstars of simulated battle make the rounds in various tournaments, including, most notably, Major League Gaming Pro Circuit championships. Now those digital athletes, as well as the masses of seasoned "amateurs," can compete with professional (or at least officially licensed) equipment -- we're talking about gear like Mad Catz' Major League Gaming Pro Circuit Controller for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This Major League gamepad promises to give competitive gamers a professional, customizable edge over their opponents with swappable "ProModule" thumbsticks and d-pads -- invoking the customizable spirit of Mad Catz' transforming RAT mouse. We gave the PlayStation 3 edition a chance to make its rodent cousin proud. Read on to see if it lives up to its professional branding.

Continue reading Mad Catz MLG Pro Circuit controller review (PS3)

Mad Catz MLG Pro Circuit controller review (PS3) originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 29 Jan 2012 12:30:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/29/mad-catz-mlg-pro-circuit-controller-review-ps3/

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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Ship carrying rocket parts hits Ky. bridge (AP)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. ? The voyage of a cargo boat that carries space rocket components to Florida's coast for NASA and the Air Force has stalled in a western Kentucky river after it slammed into an aging traffic bridge.

The bow of the Delta Mariner was covered in twisted steel and chunks of asphalt from the two-lane bridge. The boat hit the bridge Thursday night on the Tennessee River on its way to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has promised speedy work to begin replacing the structure, formerly known as Eggner's Ferry Bridge. The five-story high Delta Mariner was too tall to pass through the portion of the bridge that it struck, and the resulting collision left a 300-foot wide gap.

"We were very fortunate that no one was on the span at that time," Beshear said Friday.

No injuries were reported on the bridge or boat, which was carrying space rocket parts from Decatur, Ala., to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The ship was traveling on its typical route to Florida's Atlantic coast when it hit the aging steel bridge, which was built in the 1930s and handles about 2,800 vehicles a day.

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the collision. And it's too early to speculate on exactly what caused the wreck until that probe is done, said Sam Sacco, a spokesman for ship owner and operator Foss Marine of Seattle.

Sacco said the boat was not severely damaged, and some of the crew remained on the vessel Friday afternoon to make sure the cargo is safe.

Beshear on Friday said an immediate review of options to restore the bridge would take place.

The 312-foot, 8,400-ton Delta Mariner hauls rocket parts for the Delta and Atlas systems to launch stations in Florida and California, according to a statement from United Launch Alliance, which builds the rocket parts in Alabama. The cargo was not damaged in the collision with the bridge, the company said.

The rocket parts are used by the Air Force, NASA and private companies to send satellites into space, said Jessica Frye, a spokeswoman with United Launch Alliance.

Sacco said the ship's typical route to Florida takes it along the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, then onto the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and on to Florida's east coast.

Sacco said he didn't believe that the Delta Mariner has had any major incidents before the collision.

The ship became stuck in a sandbar on the Tennessee River in 2001 during a trip to Decatur, but it was later freed by a river tug after about an hour.

Robert Parker was on the Kentucky bridge Thursday night and said he had to slam on his brakes when he saw a section missing ahead of him.

"All of a sudden I see the road's gone and I hit the brakes," said Parker, who lives in Cadiz. "It got close."

Parker said he stopped his pickup within five feet of the missing section.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock were visiting the crash area Friday.

Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd told The Paducah Sun he believes most of the navigational lights were functioning on the bridge at the time of the impact.

The bridge at US 68 and Kentucky 80 opened in 1932, connecting Trigg County and Marshall County at the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The transportation cabinet said the bridge was in the process of being replaced, and preconstruction work began months ago.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/space/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120127/ap_on_re_us/us_ky_bridge_collapse

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Face.com Launches KLIK, A Real-Time, Facial Recognition Camera App For iPhone

klik-1Facial recognition company Face.com has just released a new mobile application that takes advantage of its technology to identify the faces of your friends in photos. Called "KLIK," the app is a real-time, facial recognition mobile camera app for iPhone that automatically identifies your friends by name before or after you take their their photo.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/ZhGoUVww5_8/

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Judge: BP contract shielded Transocean in spill (AP)

NEW ORLEANS ? The rig owner involved in drilling the ill-fated well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico and spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil will not have to pay many of the pollution claims because it was shielded in a contract with well-owner BP, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

The decision may have spared the driller from having to pay potentially billions of dollars. However, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said that Transocean still is not exempt from paying punitive damages and civil penalties that arise from the April 20, 2010, blowout 100 miles off the Louisiana coast.

The ruling comes as BP, the states affected by the disaster and the federal government are discussing a settlement over the nation's largest offshore oil spill. The Justice Department is working with the states to create an outline for a settlement that would resolve their potentially multibillion dollar claims against BP and the other companies involved in the disaster, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange told The Associated Press.

Justice led a meeting last week in Washington among the states in an effort to formulate an agreement that would satisfy government and state claims, including penalties and fines, Strange said. He also indicated if there is a settlement that officials are discussing what to do with the $20 billion fund set up by BP to pay victims.

A first phase of the trial is set for Feb. 27 to determine liability for the spill.

Despite the setback, BP claimed victory and said Barbier's ruling "at a minimum" left Transocean facing "punitive damages, fines and penalties flowing from its own conduct."

Blaine LeCesne, an associate professor at Loyola University law school, however, said Barbier's ruling was a "major victory" for Transocean.

"If anything is going to compel the parties toward settlement, it's going to be this," he said. "I think BP is in a very bad position now, and they don't have a lot of leverage."

BP PLC, Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co. have been sparring over who was at fault for causing the blowout. The out-of-control well was capped in July, 2010. Federal investigators have said that BP bears ultimate responsibility for the spill, but has faulted all three companies to some degree.

Under a drilling contract, BP and Transocean agreed to indemnify each other in the case of an accident, with BP taking responsibility for pollution originating from the well and Transocean for any pollution or accidents aboard the rig.

However, in court BP argued that the contract did not shield Transocean if the drilling company acted in manner that was grossly negligent.

Barbier, though, largely sided with Transocean and said the contract was a "clear and unequivocal agreement" to provide "broad indemnity."

"As we have said from the beginning, Transocean cannot avoid its responsibility for this accident," BP said.

The British oil giant said it had "stepped up" and admitted its role in the spill and paid billions of dollars in claims.


Associated Press writer Michael Kunzelman contributed to this reported. Weber reported from Atlanta.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/science/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120126/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill_litigation

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Biden: No difference between Gingrich and Romney (AP)

WASHINGTON ? Vice President Joe Biden says he can't find "any fundamental difference" between Republican presidential rivals Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, even though the two are fighting each other fiercely for the party's nomination.

Asked in a nationally broadcast interview to comment on the race in the GOP for a candidate to challenge President Barack Obama, Biden called "a Republican fight."

But he also called Gingrich "a talented guy." Says Biden: "The guy is really good."

However, on the critical issues facing the nation, including economic strategy and foreign affairs, Biden said that both Gingrich and Romney are pushing policies that the Obama administration doesn't embrace.

Asked whether he thought Gingrich had the temperament to be president, Biden replied, "I think Newt's a fine guy. I just think his policies are a big mistake."

Biden added that "I'll let the Republicans sort out who is going to run against us."

The vice president made the comments interviews Wednesday on "CBS This Morning" and NBC's "Today" show.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120125/ap_on_el_ge/us_biden_republican_presidential_race

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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Heartburn Meds Won't Help, May Harm Kids With Asthma (HealthDay)

TUESDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma who don't have heartburn and other signs of gastroesophageal reflux don't get additional asthma control from acid-reducing medications, according to new research.

And, taking these medications when there are no digestive issues increases a child's risk of developing a respiratory infection, reports the study.

"There's a strong epidemiological link between acid reflux and asthma," explained study co-author Janet Holbrook, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. As a result, current asthma guidelines call for evaluating people with asthma for acid reflux, Holbrook said.

Because definitive tests for excess acid production can cause children discomfort, some doctors may choose to do a trial of acid-suppressing medications called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Some common brand names in this class of medication are Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium.

"Our findings suggest that physicians should not take kids with poorly controlled asthma and test whether PPIs will help," said Holbrook.

Results of the study are published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and conducted by the American Lung Association Asthma Clinical Research Centers.

Asthma and gastroesophageal reflux (GER or GERD) are common conditions in children. Youngsters with asthma often have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. In adults, PPIs seem to help people with asthma who also have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, but not those who don't have symptoms, such as frequent heartburn.

The current study included 306 children recruited from 19 centers across the United States between 2007 and 2010. The average age was 11 years. All had poor asthma control despite receiving treatment with inhaled corticosteroids.

The children were randomly assigned to receive either lansoprazole -- a PPI -- or a placebo daily for six months. The dose of lansoprazole was based on the child's weight.

Asthma improvement was assessed through a change in the Asthma Control Questionnaire, which has a scale of 0 to 6. A change of 0.5 is considered clinically significant. Lung function was also measured.

After six months, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups. The average change in the Asthma Control Questionnaire score was only 0.2, and there were no statistically significant changes in lung function, quality of life or rate of asthma flare-ups.

In addition, among 115 children who also had a 24-hour esophageal acid study, 43 percent were found to have elevated levels of acid production. Yet even in this group, treatment with lansoprazole didn't improve asthma symptoms over placebo.

Holbrook said although this study only looked at one PPI, she believes the results would hold true for other medications in this class of drugs.

Children taking lansoprazole had about a 30 percent higher risk of respiratory infections and sore throats in this study. PPIs were also associated with a difference in the risk of activity-related bone fractures, although the difference was not statistically significant, according to an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal.

"PPIs do not improve asthma in children who do not have symptoms of GER/GERD, and it is unlikely to be of great benefit even in children who do have such symptoms," said the editorial author, Dr. Fernando Martinez, director of the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"The substantial increase in use of PPIs in children during the last decade is worrisome and unwarranted," he wrote.

Still, Martinez advised parents not to abruptly discontinue any medications. Parents "should consult their pediatricians, who can best evaluate the clinical situation for each child," he said.

Holbrook agreed and said if a child is on a PPI, it's reasonable for parents to ask why. She noted that these medications may come with an additional risk and cost, and they may not have any additional benefit.

"If your child is on a PPI for asthma, it's not an effective treatment. These medications are approved for the treatment of acid reflux," said Holbrook.

More information

Learn more about asthma treatment from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/parenting/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20120124/hl_hsn/heartburnmedswonthelpmayharmkidswithasthma

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How R Can Help Your Business

Looking for innovative ways to use R, the Big Data open source analytics language? Then take a gander at the two top winners of the first of a series of contests that R's corporate caretaker Revolution Analytics has produced. The winners, announced today, receive prizes that range from $1,000 to $10,000 for their submissions. It is an interesting collection and shows off the power of the language itself.

Warning: this is pretty geeky stuff, with lots of coding examples and descriptions of data sets. But it shows that R is moving mainstream and into common business uses. Revolution claims that R is being used by more than 2 million IT analysts all over the world.

airlines-sentiment2.jpgIncluded is a demonstration of how to use R to collect tweets and apply a naive algorithm to estimate emotional sentiment for the airline industry. Airlines, as Jeffrey Breen states in his submission, rank below the Post Office and insurance companies in terms of customer satisfaction. His algorithm extracts text from the Tweets, estimates the sentiment expressed by the poster, and then scores them. As you can see, Southwest and Jet Blue do better than the traditional carriers, to no surprise. Breen won second place for this app.

The team of Shannon Terry and Ben Ogorek from Nationwide Insurance won the grand prize as well as a second honorable mention for two of their apps. The grand prize winner was for help in real-time forecasting of direct marketing activities, and shows the incremental benefit of a marketing tactic when only a fraction of the marketing responses have been observed. Their lesser prize was for how IT shops can quantify uncertainty in their project estimates.

The contest was judged by a panel of experts from within the R and business communities and included Edd Dumbill, Chair of O'Reilly's Strata Conference and writer for O'Reilly Media; David Menninger, VP and Research Director at Ventana Research; Steve Miller, technology writer and co-founder of OpenBI LLC; David White, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen Group; and Hadley Wickham, R package author and professor at Rice University.

Source: http://www.readwriteweb.com/hack/2012/01/how-r-can-help-your-business.php

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Video: Europe's Turning Point

The turning point in the Europe crisis was when the ECB made a very American-like step by lending 450 billion euros and providing liquidity to the banking system, says Roger Altman, Evercore Partners.

Related Links:

Business & financial news headlines from msnbc.com

Top of page

Source: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/cnbc/46128719/

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Yemen's leader allowed to come to US (AP)

WASHINGTON ? The Obama administration will allow Yemen's outgoing president to come to the U.S. temporarily for medical treatment, a move aimed at easing the political transition in Yemen, a key counterterrorism partner.

A senior administration official said Ali Abdullah Saleh would travel to New York this week, and probably stay in the U.S. until no later than the end of February. U.S. officials believe Saleh's exit from Yemen could lower the risk of disruptions in the lead-up to presidential elections planned there on Feb. 21.

A presidential spokesman in Yemen said Saleh had left the capital of Sanaa earlier Sunday on a jet headed for the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman.

The U.S. official did not say whether Saleh planned to return to Yemen, Oman or elsewhere after finishing his treatment in the U.S. The official was not authorized to discuss details about Saleh and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The State Department referred questions regarding Saleh's travel to the Yemeni government.

The mercurial Saleh, who ruled Yemen for more than three decades, agreed to transfer power to his vice president late last year in exchange for immunity from prosecution. He had faced months of protests calling for his ouster, to which the Yemeni government responded with a bloody crackdown, leaving hundreds of protesters dead and sparking wider violence in the capital with rival militia.

Even after agreeing to leave power, Saleh continued to wield his influence behind the scenes, and U.S. officials believed getting him out of Yemen was necessary in order to ensure the February elections took place. The U.S. also worried about instability in a nation grappling with growing extremism, including the dangerous al-Qaida branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Still, Saleh's request last month for a U.S. visa put the Obama administration in the awkward position of either having to bar a friendly president from U.S. soil or risking appearing to harbor an autocrat with blood on his hands.

As U.S. officials weighed Saleh's request, they sought assurances that he would not seek political asylum or any type of permanent relocation in the U.S.

"We wanted to make sure that there was an understanding that it would be for medical purposes and that's what it is for," John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, said Sunday.

Saleh was badly burned and wounded during a June rocket attack on his compound in Yemen. He sought medical treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia for three months. American officials had hoped he would remain there, but the Yemeni leader returned and violence worsened anew.

Protesters and human rights groups have criticized Saleh's immunity clause and insisted he stand trial for his alleged role in protester deaths.

Brennan acknowledged that there was a divide in Yemen over Saleh's future, but said in the short-term it is imperative that the February elections take place.

"We thought it was important, given where Yemen is right now as far as moving forward with its political transition, to do what we can to support the government and the elections that are scheduled for the 21st of February, and that seems to be on track," he said.

Yemeni Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is expected to be rubber-stamped as the country's new leader in the elections, in which he is expected to be the only candidate.

Brennan spoke with Hadi on Sunday, and told him the U.S. was encouraged by his leadership during a difficult period of transition. With fresh demonstrations likely in the weeks leading up to the elections, Brennan urged Hadi to ensure that Yemeni security forces exercise restraint.

The Obama administration's approval of Saleh's visa offered an eerie parallel to three decades ago, when President Jimmy Carter allowed the exiled shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment. The decision contributed to rapidly worsening relations between Washington and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution in Tehran, with Iranian students occupying the U.S. Embassy in Iran a month later.

Fifty-two American hostages were held for 444 days in response to Carter's refusal to send the shah back to Iran for trial.


Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/us/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120122/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_us_yemen

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Priceline killing off William Shatner character

By Rob Lovitt, msnbc.com contributor

Must? find? new? ad campaign.

Alas, for fans of the vocal stylings of William Shatner, that?s the news from Priceline.com, which has decided to kill off Shatner?s Priceline Negotiator character. On Monday, the company will begin airing ads showing the erstwhile Captain Kirk shooing passengers off a bus moments before it tumbles off a bridge and explodes in flames.

Mr. Negotiator was five years old and is survived by a company adapting to a changing market and seeking to highlight its other, non-bidding-based business.

This is not the first time a Shatner character has died in the line of duty, of course, as Captain Kirk met his own demise in the 1994 movie ?Star Trek: Generations.?

?Our ad agency said that if we really wanted a spot that would grab people?s attention, we needed to do something over-the-top,? said spokesman Brian Ek. ?They recommended killing off The Negotiator, which is a character William Shatner has played in our commercials since 2007.?

Shatner, Ek added, has been Priceline?s celebrity spokesman for 14 years and is still under contract with the company.

The Negotiator, however, has apparently struck his final deal as the company seeks to emphasize other lines of business than the Name Your Own Price bidding-oriented booking option that Shatner promoted.

Although less well-known to consumers, the company also operates a non-bidding, published-price service for 200,000 hotels in 140 countries, a business, said Ek, that has tripled in size over the last three years. ?We decided to focus our 2012 campaign on that part of the business,? he told msnbc.com.

The move also reflects the shifting nature of the online hotel business, said Norm Rose, president of Travel Tech Consulting Inc., as hotels and third-party sellers of their inventory jockey for the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers.

?There are always these battle lines being drawn between suppliers and the OTAs (online travel agencies),? he said. ?It?s a real love/hate relationship.?

For Priceline, he noted, killing off The Negotiator is essentially an effort to better align its messaging with its business model: ?They want to get into the minds of consumers that they?re an OTA rather than an opaque, distressed-inventory site like Hotwire.?

And Shatner-as-The-Negotiator got thrown under the bus, so to speak, although not before handing off his cell phone to a woman and intoning in that inimitable style: ?Save yourself ? some money.?

Meanwhile, said Ek, the company expects to run some follow-on ads interviewing the people saved before the crash, as well as spots during the Super Bowl pre-game show.

The Negotiator, however, appears to be destined for his own final frontier.

More on Overhead Bin

Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.

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Source: http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/23/10201844-priceline-killing-off-william-shatner-character

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Monday, 23 January 2012

Ambush of police truck in Syria kills 14 (AP)

BEIRUT ? A string of explosions struck a police truck transporting prisoners in a tense area of northwestern Syria on Saturday, killing at least 14 people, state media and an opposition group said. Government troops also battled defectors in the north in fighting that left 10 people dead.

The 10-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began with largely peaceful anti-government protests, but has turned increasingly militarized and chaotic in recent months as more frustrated regime opponents and army defectors arm themselves and fight back against government forces.

The official SANA news agency said the ambush of the police truck occurred on the Idlib-Ariha highway, an area near the Turkish border that has witnessed intense fighting with army defectors recently. SANA blamed the attack on "terrorists."

It said four bombs that went off in "two phases" hit the truck, and then attackers targeted an ambulance that arrived to assist the wounded. Six policemen who were accompanying the prisoners were also wounded, some of them in critical condition, it said.

The British-based opposition activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the incident Saturday and said 15 prisoners were killed.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the group, said the truck was hit by several roadside bombs, but it was not clear who was behind the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but members of the so-called Free Syrian Army are known to be active in the area. The Free Syrian Army is a group of army defectors led by a Turkey-based defected colonel who sided with the protesters and have carried out attacks on regime forces.

A Syria-based activist said the area has several army encampments and is full of roadside bombs planted to target army tanks passing by, adding that the truck carrying prisoners may not have been the intended target.

The activist spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Abdul-Rahman and other activists in the country's northern Idlib province also reported heavy clashes between Syrian troops and defectors in the Jabal al-Zawiya region, along the Turkish border, and in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan.

He said nine members of the Syrian armed forces, including four officers, and a deserter were killed in the fighting in Maaret al-Numan. "Dozens" of people from both sides were wounded in the Jabal al-Zawiya fighting, and some of them were in serious condition.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network said five other people were killed in Syria Saturday, including three in the central city of Homs, one in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour and another in Douma, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where security forces fired on a funeral procession, wounding around 25 people.

The group also reported the discovery by residents of 30 unidentified bodies in Idlib's National Hospital Saturday. The report could not be independently confirmed.

The conflict in Syria has marked the most serious challenge to Assad, who took over from his father in 2000. The U.N. estimates some 5,400 have been killed since March, when the uprising began.

The capital has seen three suicide bombings since late December which the government blamed on terrorist extremists.

The violence comes as the head of an Arab League observers mission was to submit his report to the League's Cairo headquarters. Foreign ministers for the Arab League will meet Sunday in Cairo to discuss the future of the mission, which expired Thursday.

Arab League officials said the organization is likely to extend its observer mission in Syria and increase its numbers, despite complaints from the Syrian opposition that it has failed to curb the bloodshed in the country.

The head of the observers' mission, Sudanese Gen. Mohammed Ahmed al-Dabi, released a statement Saturday through the Arab League ahead of the ministers' meeting, saying that monitors are on the ground to watch for the implementation of the League's plan and "not to stop the bloodshed."

Members of the Syrian opposition have called for the dispatch of foreign troops to Syria to create safe zones for dissidents, or even a more wide-ranging military mission similar to the air campaign which helped Libyan rebels bring down dictator Moammar Gadhafi last year.

Burhan Ghalioun, head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, was in the Egyptian capital Saturday for talks with Arab League officials ahead of Sunday's meeting.

The opposition met with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and urged him to refer the Syrian issue to the U.N. Security Council rather than continue trying to resolve it regionally.

Security officials in Lebanon meanwhile said the Syrian navy arrested three Lebanese fishermen and confiscated their boat Saturday in Lebanese waters off the northern town of Arida.

The two brothers and their nephew were taken after Syria soldiers aboard a naval vessel fired in the direction of the boat, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Relatives of the two brothers said one of them died in the shooting.

After the incident, angry residents of Arida blocked the highway linking Lebanon and Syria for hours with burning tires.

SANA said Syrian coastal guards intercepted a Lebanese boat trying to infiltrate Syrian territorial waters, after warning it to stop more than once.

It said the Lebanese crew then unloaded its cargo of sealed boxes into the sea and tried to flee, adding that people aboard other Lebanese boats opened fire, wounding two Lebanese crewmen.

Syrian officials have accused Lebanese factions of smuggling weapons to Syria.


Associate Press writer Aya Batrawy contributed to this report from Cairo.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/world/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20120121/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_syria

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