Thursday, December 26, 2013

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wind, rain, sea pound eastern India as Cyclone Phailin nears

BHUBANESWAR: Strong winds and heavy rains pounded India's eastern coastline on Saturday, as hundreds of thousands of people took shelter from a massive, powerful cyclone expected to reach land in a few hours.

The skies were dark - almost black - at midmorning in Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha and about 60 miles (about 100 kilometres) from the coast. Roaring winds made palm trees sway wildly, and to the south, seawater was pushing inland.

By Friday evening, some six lakh people had been moved to higher ground or shelters in Odisha, which is expected to bear the brunt of the cyclone, said Surya Narayan Patro, the state's top disaster management official.

About 12 hours before Cyclone Phailin's landfall, meteorologists held out hope that the storm might hit while in a temporary weakened state, but no matter what it will be large and deadly.

Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at Weather Bell, a private US weather firm, said even in the best-case scenario there will be a storm surge of 20-30 feet (7-9 meters).

A storm surge - the giant wall of water that that a cyclone blasts ashore - is the big killer in these storms, even more than winds.

The storm already has been large and powerful for nearly 36 hours, he said, and those winds have built up tremendous amount of surge, Maue said.

Satellite images showed the cyclone filling nearly the entire Bay of Bengal, an area larger than France.

A storm this large can't peter out that fast," Maue said. "There's nothing to stop it at this point."

Officials canceled holy day celebrations and stockpiled emergency supplies in coastal Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

The Indian Meteorological Department warned that Phailin was a "very severe cyclonic storm" that was expected to hit with maximum sustained winds of 210-220 kilometres (130-135 miles) per hour.

However, the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii forecast maximum sustained winds of 269 kilometers (167 miles) per hour with gusts up to 315 kilometres (196 miles) per hour.

Indian officials also made less dire predictions about the storm surge, saying only it would be at least 10 feet (3 meters) high.

In Bhubaneswar, government workers and volunteers were putting together hundreds of thousands of food packages to be distributed at relief camps.

The state's top official, chief minister Naveen Patnaik, appealed for people to cooperate with officials as they order people to leave their homes.

"I request everyone to not panic. Please assist the government. Everyone from the village to the state headquarters have been put on alert," he told reporters.

In Paradip, the Odisha port city hammered in a 1999 cyclone, at least seven ships had put to sea to ride out the storm, with other boats shifted to safer parts of the harbor, officials said.

US forecasters repeatedly warned the storm would be immense.

"If it's not a record it's really, really close," University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy told The Associated Press. "You really don't get storms stronger than this anywhere in the world ever. This is the top of the barrel."

To compare to killer US storms, McNoldy said Phailin is near the size of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,200 people and caused devastating flooding in New Orleans, but Phailin also has the wind power of 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which had 165 mph (265 kph) winds at landfall in Miami.

The storm continues on its current path without weakening, it is expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. There would also be extensive damage to crops.

Patro said tens of thousands of more people will be moved to safer areas before the cyclone hits.

"No one will be allowed to stay in mud and thatched houses in the coastal areas," he said.

The government also began evacuating 64,000 people from the low-lying areas of three vulnerable districts in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, said state revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy.

The sea had already pushed inland as much as 130 feet (40 metres) in parts of Andhra Pradesh.

Officials have been stockpiling emergency food supplies, and setting up shelters for people expected to flee the heavy winds and rains. The Indian air force said four transport planes and 18 helicopters were being kept ready for relief operations in the region.

What makes this storm so fearsome is that there's no wind shear to weaken it and the water that is fueling it is warm and deep, McNoldy said. Those are the ingredients for a record storm.

The Bay of Bengal has been the scene of some of the deadliest storms in recent history. The 1999 Orissa cyclone, which was similar in strength to Phailin, killed 10,000 people.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Resources related to Cyclone Phailin

http://www.google.org/crisisresponse/2013-phailin.html


Emergency Operation Centres

Orissa

  • Balasore: +91-6782-262674
  • Bhadrak: +91-6784-251881
  • Cuttack: +91-671-2507842
  • Dhenkanal: +91-6762-221376
  • Gajapati: +91-6815-222943
  • Ganjam: +91-6811-263978
  • Jagatsinghpur: +91-6724-220368
  • Jajpur: +91-6728-222648
  • Kendrapara: +91-6727-232803
  • Keonjhar: +91-6766-255437
  • Khurda: +91-6755-220002
  • Mayurbhanj: +91-6792-252759
  • Nayagarh: +91-6753-252978
  • Puri: +91-6752-223237

Andra Pradesh

  • Hyderabad: +91-4023-456005 / +91-4023-451043
  • ____________________________________________________________________

Railway Helplines

  • Vizag-0891-2505793, 08935-249672
  • Vizianagaram-08922-225510
  • Srikakulam-08942- 28722
  • Naupada-08945-249728
  • Rayagada-06856-6222407
  • Koraput-06852-251802
  • Source: aamjanata.com

Tropical Cyclone Phailin, India, October 2013

Bulletin No.: BOB 04/2013/30

Sub: Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘PHAILIN’ over westcentral & adjoining northwest Bay of

Bengal: Cyclone Warning for North Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Coast.

The very severe cyclonic storm, PHAILIN over westcentral & adjoining northwest Bay of
Bengal moved northwestwards during past 6 hours with a speed of 15 kmph and lay centred at 0830
hrs IST of today, the 12 th October 2013 over westcentral & adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal near
latitude 17.8 0 N and longitude 86.0 0 E, about 200 km southeast of Gopalpur, 200 km east-southeast
of Kalingapatnam and 280 km southeast of Paradip. It would move northwestwards and cross north
Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, close to Gopalpur
(Odisha) by evening of today i.e. the 12 th October, 2013 as a very severe cyclonic storm with a
maximum sustained wind speed of 210-220 kmph gusting to 240 kmph.

Estimated track and intensity of the system are given in the Table below:

Date/Time(IST)

Position
(Lat. 0 N/ Long. 0 E)

Sustained maximum surface
wind speed (kmph)

Category

12-10-2013/0830 17.8/86.0 210-220 gusting to 240 Very Severe Cyclonic Storm
12-10-2013/1130 18.3/85.5 210-220 gusting to 240 Very Severe Cyclonic Storm
12-10-2013/1730 19.1/84.9 210-220 gusting to 240 Very Severe Cyclonic Storm
12-10-2013/2330 19.8/84.5 170-180 gusting to 200 Very Severe Cyclonic Storm
13-10-2013/0530 20.5/83.9 80-90 gusting to 100 Severe Cyclonic Storm
13-10-2013/1730 21.0/84.1 50-60 gusting to 70 Deep Depression
14.10.2013/0530 22.0/83.5 40-50 gusting to 60 Depression


Warning for Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal


(i) Rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and isolated extremely

heavy falls (≥ 25 cm) would occur over coastal Odisha during next 48 hrs and over interior
Odisha from today afternoon for subsequent 48 hrs. Rainfall at most places with isolated
heavy to very heavy falls would also occur over north coastal Andhra Pradesh during next 48
hrs. Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over coastal areas of West Bengal
commencing from afternoon of today i.e. the 12 th October.

(ii) Gale wind: Gale winds speed reaching 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph would prevail along

and off Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh coasts during next 6 hours. It would increase in
intensity thereafter with gale wind speed reaching 100-150 kmph from noon and 210-220
kmph gusting to 235 along and off coastal districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh and
south Odisha at the time of landfall. State of Sea along and off Odisha and north Andhra

Pradesh coast is high and will become gradually phenomenal from forenoon of today. It will


be rough to very rough along and off West Bengal coast during the above period.


(iii) Storm Surge Guidance: Storm surge with height of 3.0 to 3.5 metre. above astronomical tide


would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and



Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh during landfall.
----------------------------------------------------------------

(iv) Damage expected over Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh: Extensive damage to

kutcha houses. Some damage to old buildings. Large scale disruption of power and communication

lines. Disruption of rail and road traffic due to extensive flooding. Potential threat from flying debris.

Flooding of escape routes. Extensive damage to agricultural crops.

(v) Action suggested: Fishermen are advised not to venture into sea along north Andhra Pradesh,

Odisha and West Bengal coast. Total suspension of fishing operations. Large scale evacuation of

population from coastal areas. Total suspension of rail and road traffic in vulnerable areas . People in

affected areas to remain indoors.

Post landfall outlook: Even after landfall the system is likely to maintain the intensity of very

cyclonic storm for 6 hours and gradually weaken into a cyclonic storm in subsequent 6 hours while

moving northwestwards across interior Odisha. Under its influence rainfall at most places with heavy

falls at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places would occur over Odisha. Rainfall at

many places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls would also occur over north coastal Andhra

Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and south Jharkhand. Squally wind speed reaching 100-120 kmph would also

prevail for 6 hours and 60-70 for subsequent 6 hours over Odisha during the same period.

The next bulletin will be issued at 1430 hrs IST of today, the 12 th October, 2013.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sinead O'Connor warns Miley Cyrus against exploitation



Singer Sinead O'Connor has written an open letter to fellow singer and actress Miley Cyrus warning her not to be exploited by the music business.

The 46-year-old wrote to Cyrus, 20, after she cited O'Connor's video Nothing Compares 2 U as an inspiration for her explicit Wrecking Ball video.

"Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited," wrote O'Connor.

"Please, in future, say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself."

O'Connor said she was prompted to write, "in the spirit of motherliness" after "dodging phone calls from various newspapers" who wanted the singer-songwriter to comment upon similarities between the two videos.

The video for Nothing Compares 2 U is principally a close-up of O'Connor, who sheds a single tear as she performs the Prince-penned break-up ballad.

Cyrus cries in the promo clip for Wrecking Ball, which shares similar lyrical themes to O'Connor's song. But the video also finds her licking a sledgehammer and swinging naked on a metal demolition ball.

"I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you," wrote O'Connor.

"I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos.

"It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it's the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

"It is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.


"You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn't see things that way," continued the Irish singer.

"They're there for the money, we're there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can REALLY [be] in control."

'Rag heap'

Cyrus, who found fame as the child star of Disney children's show Hannah Montana, has been criticised in recent weeks for her controversial performances, most particularly at the MTV Video Music Awards in Brooklyn last month.

"You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine," wrote O'Connor. "The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done.

"I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks.

"I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 years of age.

"Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women," concluded O'Connor.

"The message you keep sending is that it's somehow cool to be prostituted.. it's so not cool Miley... it's dangerous."

Last month Cyrus, who is the daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus, topped the UK singles chart for the first time with We Can't Stop.

Qatar faces no threat to its right to host 2022 World Cup

Fifa will announce on Friday that Qatar faces no threat to its right to host the 2022 World Cup, sources close to the governing body have told BBC Sport.
The Gulf state faces allegations about its treatment of migrant workers, while there are also fears that searing summer temperatures in Qatar of more than 40C could risk the health of players and supporters.
But it appears Fifa will stick by Qatar, which saw off competition from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the event.
Fifa is expected to announce plans to monitor the issue of migrant workers on Friday following revelations last month in the Guardian.


At the same time, it also intends to form a taskforce - likely to be led by Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa - to examine alternative dates for the tournament.
The body will engage with all significant stakeholders, including domestic leagues across the world, before quickly reporting back to Fifa with a plan of action.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who said in August that he wanted to move the tournament away from the traditional months of June and July, intended for the world governing body to vote for a scheduling switch on Friday in Zurich.
But a number of Fifa's influential executive committee members, among them Uefa president Michel Platini, felt more time was needed for proper consultations to take place.
If Fifa decides to switch the timings of the 2022 World Cup, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, the head of the Fifa inspection team that assessed Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, believes the tournament should be moved to January and February, when temperatures in the Gulf state average about 22C.
However, that could lead to a potential clash with other big sporting events, notably the Winter Olympics and American football's Super Bowl, as well as domestic football leagues and the Champions League.
New International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has said he is confident there will be no clash with the Winter Olympics.

American TV network Fox, World Cup rights-holder for North America, is understood to be concerned over the commercial implications of any move that would see any clash with the NFL season, let alone the Super Bowl.
If the IOC and Fox can be accommodated, Fifa could still face the ire of Australia, Japan, South Korean and the United States, who all lost out to Qatar in the race to stage the 2022 World Cup.
Australia is demanding compensation from Fifa, arguing that it based its bid on a World Cup held in June and July.
Football's governing body claims there are no grounds for compensation as all bidders had to accept there could be a change to the schedule at the governing body's behest.
The executive committee's meeting began on Thursday, when Brazil's preparations for next year's World Cup were discussed.
Former France, Fulham, Manchester United and Everton striker Louis Saha told BBC Sport he thought it was impossible for players to handle the Middle Eastern country's extremely high summer temperatures.
"I was in Qatar recently and it was 48C," he said. "Believe me, it is impossible to have a proper game down there."
In recent months there has been opposition to moving the tournament, notably from the English Premier League, whose chief executive Richard Scudamore predicted "chaos" if a switch to the northern hemisphere winter is approved.


Fifa's decision makers
The 25-strong executive committee that will decide the fate of the 2022 World Cup

President: Joseph S Blatter, Switzerland (pictured above).

Senior vice-president: Julio H Grondona, Argentina.

Vice-presidents: Issa Hayatou, Cameroon, Angel MarĂ­a Villar Llona, Spain, Michel Platini, France, David Chung, Papua New Guinea, HRH Prince Ali Bin AL Hussein, Jordan, Jim Boyce, Northern Ireland, Jeffrey Webb, Cayman Islands.

Members: Michel D'Hooghe, Belgium, Senes Erzik, Turkey, Worawi Makudi, Thailand, Marios Lefkaritis, Cyprus, Jacques Anouma, Ivory Coast, Rafael Salguero, Guatemala, Hany Abo Rida, Egypt, Vitaly Mutko, Russia, Mohamed Raouraoua, Algeria, Theo Zwanziger, Germany, Marco Polo Del Nero, Brazil, Sunil Gulati, USA, Eugenio Figueredo, Uruguay, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Bahrain, Zhang Jilong, China, Lydia Nsekera, Burundi.

Indonesia arrests top judge on corruption charges

Mr Mochtar was arrested at his home in Jakarta, officials say

The chief justice of Indonesia's Constitutional Court has been arrested for alleged bribery, officials say.
Akil Mochtar was arrested by anti-corruption officials late on Wednesday for allegedly accepting at least $250,000 (£154,000) in bribes.
Officials say the arrest, the latest in a series of high-profile cases, was linked to a regional election.
The Constitutional Court, established in 2001, holds the same legal standing as the country's Supreme Court.
Its responsibilities include hearing cases concerning the constitution and making decisions on election-related cases.
The court has developed a reputation as a respected judicial institution over the years, observers say.
Mr Mochtar, 62, was elected for a five-year term to the constitutional court this year. He was previously a member of the Golkar party before joining the Constitutional Court.
He was arrested at his home in Jakarta after a businessman and a lawmaker allegedly handed him money, a spokesman for the Corruption Eradication Commission said on Thursday.
The case was linked to a disputed election on Borneo island, the Agence France-Presse news agency says.
Two other people have also been arrested in connection with the case.
Last month, the anti-corruption court found a police general guilty of corruption and money laundering.
Djoko Susilo was sentenced to 10 years in prison and handed a fine.

Deadly hornets kill 42 people in China, injure over 1,500


Hong Kong (CNN) -- Swarms of aggressive hornets, in their fall mating season, are inflicting a deadly toll in a central Chinese province.
Hornets have killed 42 people and injured 1,675 people in three cities in Shaanxi province since July, according to the local government. Thirty-seven patients remain in critical or serious condition.
Over the summer and early fall, hornets have invaded schools full of children and descended upon unsuspecting farm workers in China.
One of them is Mu Conghui, a woman who was attacked in Ankang City while looking after her millet crop.
"The hornets were horrifying," she told Xinhua, the Chinese state-run news agency. "They hit right at my head and covered my legs. All of a sudden I was stung and I couldn't move.
"Even now, my legs are covered with sting holes."Killer hornets sting nearly 600 people Two months, 13 dialysis treatments and 200 stitches later, Mu still remains hospitalized and unable to move her legs.

The influx of venom to the human body can cause allergic reactions and multiple organ failure leading to death. Patients like Mu have been receiving dialysis to remove the toxins from her body. In photos, patients bore deep dark craters scattered across their limbs, the size of bullet wounds.Government authorities say these attacks are from a particularly venomous species, the world's largest hornet, known as the Asian giant hornet or vespa mandarinia.The giant hornet extends about 3.5 to 3.9 centimeters in length, roughly the size of a human thumb. It has an orange head with a black tooth used for burrowing, according to an animal database at the University of Michigan.Dr. Wang Xue, director of the intensive care unit at First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University and an expert of the provincial hornet sting treatment guidance unit, warned in a Shaanxi government release that hornets tend to be aggressive and more active during September and October -- their breeding season. The hornets do not go into hibernation until December, according to local government authorities.

Local authorities have deployed thousands of police officers and locals to destroy the hives. So far, about 710 hives have been removed and at least 7 million yuan (about $1.1 million U.S.) sent to areas affected by hornets, according to a government press release.The spate of attacks could be caused by the unusually dry weather in the area, authorities say. The arid environment makes it easier for hornets to breed. Urbanization could also be a contributing factor, as humans move into hornets' habitats. Some experts cited in Xinhua stated additional factors such as increased vegetation and a decrease in the hornets' enemies, such as spiders and birds because of ecological changes.Humans can inadvertently irritate the hornet hives, as most are tucked away in secluded places, such as tree hollows or even underground.


About 30 to 50 deaths are reported each year in Japan from such attacks, according to Japanese studies. Most of the deaths are due to allergies to the venom, said Shunichi Makino, director general of the Hokkaido Research Center for Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute."It's very difficult to prevent the attacks because hornet nests are usually in hidden sites," he said.
Makino, who specializes in entomology, warned that the sting from an Asian giant hornet was severe compared with those of other insects.


"The venom of an Asian giant hornet is very special compared with other hornets or yellow jackets," he said. "The neurotoxin -- especially to mammals including humans -- it's a special brand of venom."
The giant hornets are also destructive to western honey bees. Research in Japan suggests tens of thousands of honey bee hives are damaged by the giant hornets each year. The species feed their young with the larvae of other insects and use their mandibles to sever the limbs and heads of their prey. The hornet's venom sting is a neurotoxin so powerful that it dissolves human tissue, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.The giant hornets are attracted to human sweat, alcohol and sweet flavors and smells. They are especially sensitive to when animals or people run, according to Xinhua.
One victim told local media earlier this month that "the more you run, the more they want to chase you." Some victims described being chased about 200 meters (656 feet) by a swarm.
Every breeding season, the giant hornets produce an average of 10,000 offspring. They feast on other insects such as wasps and bees, launching coordinated attacks on the hives of their prey.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

US shutdown halts Barack Obama's Malaysia trip


President Barack Obama has called off his trip to Malaysia to tackle the US government shutdown, the office of Malaysia's PM Najib Razak has said.

Secretary of State John Kerry will represent him next week instead, the office said.

The US government has partially shut down after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a new budget.

More than 700,000 federal employees face unpaid leave, and national parks, museums and many buildings are closed.

Mr Obama earlier vowed not to allow Republicans to undermine his signature healthcare legislation as a condition to restart the US government.

"They demanded ransom," Mr Obama said.

Four-nation trip
Mr Najib's office said Mr Obama had called the prime minister on Wednesday to inform him that Mr Kerry would address an entrepreneurship conference in Kuala Lumpur on 11 October in his place.

Mr Obama's visit would have been the first by a US president to Malaysia since Lyndon B Johnson in 1966.




Mr Obama had been scheduled to begin a four-nation Asian trip on Saturday to boost economic ties.

It would also have taken in Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

There has been no confirmation yet of what Mr Obama intends to do with the rest of the itinerary.

This is the third time in three years Mr Obama has called off Asian trips.

In 2010, a vote on health care and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill forced separate cancellations.

'Hyper-partisan speeches'
The US government ceased operations deemed non-essential at midnight on Tuesday, when the previous budget expired.

National parks and Washington's Smithsonian museums are closed, pension and veterans' benefit cheques will be delayed, and visa and passport applications will go unprocessed.

However, members of the military will be paid.

  • State department will be able to operate for limited time
  • Department of defence will continue military operations
  • Department of education will still distribute $22bn (£13.6bn) to public schools, but staffing is expected to be severely hit
  • Department of energy - 12,700 staff expected to be sent home, with 1,113 remaining to oversee nuclear arsenal
  • Department of health and human services expected to send home more than half of staff
  • The Federal Reserve, dept of homeland security, and justice dept will see little or no disruption
  • US Postal Services continue as normal
  • Smithsonian institutions, museums, zoos and many national parks will close
  • Mr Obama blamed conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives for the government shutdown, saying "one faction of one party" was responsible because "they didn't like one law".
  • "They've shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans," Mr Obama said.
  • The White House rejected a Republican plan to fund only a few portions of the government - national parks, veterans' programmes and the budget of the District of Columbia.
  • The Republicans have called for more negotiations.
  • A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner called the White House's position "unsustainably hypocritical".
  • Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, accused Mr Obama of "hyper-partisan speeches".
  • An opinion poll released on Tuesday suggested the American public was inclined to fault the Republican strategy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vitamin B? Why beer is good for your health


I do likes me a cold one on a hot summer day, and a fall ball game just isn't the same without an ale in my hand. Fear of the great beer belly has kept suds out of the refrigerators and hands of beer enthusiasts all over the land, but is it possible that one of America's favorite beverages has gotten an undeserved bad rap?
After all, beer is created from just four basic ingredients: water, barley, hops and yeast. The result of these ingredients dancing together is alcohol and CO2. That's a combo that goes down easy, and there are so many ways to blend the brew that you're sure to find an ale, stout, lager or amber that is just right for you.
The dirty deets
Your doc may have told you that drinking alcohol in moderation is good for your health, but usually wine gets all the cred for the antioxidant benefits. Truth be told, beer and wine contain the same amount of antioxidants. There are some other things you should know:

• The protein and B-vitamin content of beer is higher than wine. Yeah, going for a brewski after a rousing game of touch football with your work team will help you replenish your protein better than a glass of chardonnay. But here's a buzzkill: Even though beer is a good source of B vitamins, the alcohol in it mostly cancels out those benefits.upwave: The link between protein and weight loss.

• Beer offers anywhere from 95 to 360 calories in a 12-ounce serving, with the average bottle of beer in the 150-calorie range. A five-ounce glass of wine will run you about 120 calories. Sometimes the light beer is a better calorie choice than the wine. Since the FDA doesn't require calories to be on the label, do the homework and math on your favorite beer to know where it should be in your beverage lineup, because those calories do find a way to linger. (Call it a beer belly, call it a muffin top; you just don't want to find one circlin' your middle.)

• One to two beers a day is good for your bones. Brew contains silicon, which is in very few foods and is linked to bone strength and health. Now that's something to consider before going for your next bone-density scan.

• Think light in color equals light in calories? Not always the case. "Light" actually refers to the percent of alcohol and calories. Higher-alcohol beers have more calories, so if you're watching your weight, a Guinness is actually about the same as a Bud.

Equal work for equal pay?


The Naked Truth: How close is too close?
It was the yellow rubber duckies that did it.

I suppose up until that point I’d been on auto-pilot, I was just waiting for an interview. But when one of the NBA’s biggest stars pulled on a pair of blue socks – festooned with bright yellow ducks – it struck me that this assignment was way more surreal than anything I was used to. Or, for that matter, comfortable with.

With a group of about 20 other men and women, I had just watched the Houston Rockets’ shooting guard James Harden emerge dripping wet from the shower, dry off and get dressed … all from a distance of about two and a half feet. This was my introduction to the world of sports reporting in the United States!

Italy political drama jolts markets

Italian markets were jolted Monday by the weekend collapse of the country's coalition government after just five months, but the chance that early elections could be averted kept losses in check.
Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support for a grand coalition led by Prime Minister Enrico Letta, just a week before a parliamentary committee was due to vote on expelling the convicted fraudster from the Senate.

Milan's benchmark index fell 1.8%, and the yield on Italy's 10-year bonds rose 18 basis points to 4.6%. That is up from around 3.9% when Letta took office in April but far from the more than 7% during the peak of the eurozone debt crisis in 2011.

Other European markets fell by about 1% as a U.S. government shutdown loomed. The dollar was a shade firmer against the euro.Related: Stocks weak as U.S. shutdown looms Political instability is nothing new in Italy -- governments tend to last little more than a year on average.

But a prolonged period of deadlock could prevent agreement on a budget for 2014 and delay reforms needed to keep the eurozone's third largest economy on track to meet EU-mandated borrowing targets.
Letta has scheduled a vote of confidence for Wednesday and hopes to persuade disgruntled members of Berlusconi's party and other senators to back him. Failure would raise the chance of a new election and with it the risk of months of political stalemate just as Italy, and the eurozone, look to secure a recovery from recession.

"Snap elections would be the worst scenario for confidence," noted Silvio Peruzzo, economist at Nomura.
Italy's economy is showing signs of stabilizing after nearly two years of recession. Tough austerity measures have helped produce a primary budget surplus and a wide-ranging program of structural reforms is beginning to bear fruit.

Africa's hottest new fashion designers

Kaela Kay

Kenyan intelligence warned of Al-Shabaab threat before mall attack

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- A number of Kenya's Cabinet members and defense officials were warned about the possibility that the terror group Al-Shabaab was planning to carry out a Westgate-style attack a year before gunman stormed the Nairobi mall, according to several police and intelligence sources.
The warnings were made by the country's National Intelligence Service as part of regular situational reports given to cabinet members, the inspector general of police, members of the National Security Advisory Council and military intelligence.
CNN has seen an electronic version of those reports, which contain an extensive list of terror threats from several regions across Kenya over an extended period, but they also specify Al-Shabaab posed a threat to several targets, including Westgate Shopping Mall.
The news about the intelligence warnings come amid revelations that the mall favored by Westerners and tourists was long-considered a possible terror target.
CNN has also learned that the Westgate mall attackers tortured some of the hostages.

Military doctors said militants severed hands, cut off noses and, in some cases, hanged hostages. CNN has seen photographic evidence of one dead victim with a hand amputated.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

US Senate would reject House bill as shutdown looms

The US Congress remains deadlocked over the funding bill

US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has warned that his Democratic-led chamber will reject a House Republican bill to avert a government shutdown.
Early on Sunday, the Republican-led House passed its amended version of the Senate bill, removing funding from President Obama's healthcare law.
There is now less than 48 hours to avert a shutdown, which will begin on Tuesday if no spending bill is passed.
The Senate is not due to meet again until Monday afternoon.
In a statement, Senator Reid said that "after weeks of futile political games from Republicans, we are still at square one".
He added that Republican efforts to change the bill - that would delay the healthcare law for a year and repeal a tax on medical devices - were pointless.
Speaking for the president, White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown." The president, he said, would also veto the Republican bill.
However, House Republicans went ahead with the changes, ignoring the veto threat and passing the bill in a late-night session by 231 votes to 192.
The Senate is controlled by Mr Obama's Democratic party, while the Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives.
"House and Senate like two locomotives barreling toward one another ... in slow motion," tweeted Republican Representative Scott Rigell.
'Acting responsibly'
The looming shutdown ,which would be the first in 17 years, is one of two fiscal crises facing the US government. On 17 October, the US treasury department's authority to borrow money to fund its debt obligations expires unless Congress approves a rise in the so-called debt ceiling.
On Friday, President Obama urged House Republicans to pass the Senate's stopgap budget bill and to extend the debt limit, and demanded they not threaten to "burn the house down because you haven't gotten 100% of your way".
Mr Obama said if the nation were to default on its debt, it would have a "profound destabilising effect" on the world economy.
"Voting for the treasury to pay its bills is not a concession to me," he said. "No-one gets to hurt our economy... just because there are a couple of laws [they] don't like."
He described the healthcare law as "a done deal" and said the Republican-backed repeal effort was "not going to happen".
Mr Obama said the Senate had "acted responsibly" in passing the budget measure and that now it was up to Republicans in the House of Representatives "to do the same".
Civilian cuts
If the government does shut down on 1 October, as many as a third of its 2.1 million employees are expected to stop work - with no guarantee of back pay once the deadlock is resolved.
National parks and Washington's Smithsonian museums would close, pension and veterans' benefit cheques would be delayed, and visa and passport applications would be stymied.
Programmes deemed essential, such as air traffic control and food inspections, would continue.
The defence department has advised employees that uniformed members of the military will continue on "normal duty status", but "large numbers" of civilian workers will be told to stay home.

US braces for possible government shutdown

President Obama: "Nobody gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the US just to extract political concessions"
The US government is bracing for a possible shutdown, as Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain deadlocked on a budget to continue its funding.
Agencies have begun making contingency plans ahead of the 1 October deadline to pass a new funding resolution.
The Senate has passed a bill to fund the government until 15 November.
But House Republicans have said they refuse to approve the bill without a provision to strip funding from President Barack Obama's health law.
The Senate is controlled by Mr Obama's Democratic party, while the Republicans hold the majority in the House of Representatives.
As a result, lawmakers are at a stalemate as the deadline approaches.
Government agencies have been selecting workers considered essential should funds stop flowing.

Greece crackdown: Golden Dawn leader Michaloliakos charged


The leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, has been formally charged with belonging to a criminal organisation.
Four more Golden Dawn MPs, a party leader in an Athens suburb and 15 other people face the same charges.
They were arrested on Saturday amid anger over the murder on 18 September of anti-racist musician, Pavlos Fyssas.
A man held for the stabbing told police he was a Golden Dawn supporter, though the party strongly denies any link.
The MPs arrested on Saturday were party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, Ilias Panayiotaros, Nikos Michos and Ioannis Lagos. It is the first time since 1974 that a party leader and MPs have been arrested.
It was an extraordinary moment to see the five MPs being escorted in handcuffs by armed police in balaclavas, BBC Athens correspondent Mark Lowen reports.
They will now return to police headquarters and are likely to be refused bail before their trial, our correspondent says.
Mr Panayiotaros told reporters before giving himself up: "Shame on them, the people will lift Golden Dawn higher."
A number of other warrants are believed to have been issued. The arrests were made by the anti-terrorism unit.
Police said guns and ammunition had been found at Mr Michaloliakos's home and that he did not have a licence for the weapons.
Golden Dawn issued a rallying call via a text message, saying: "We call upon everyone to support our moral and just struggle against the corrupt system!"
Its call for members to gather outside the police headquarters in Athens was answered by some 200 supporters who chanted slogans and waved Greek flags.
Makis Voridis, a politician with the governing New Democracy Party, told the BBC's Newshour that the police had made the right decision on the arrests.
He said: "This is an alleged party. It is actually, as the justice system has said, a criminal organisation... members of a legal, political, parliamentary party, do not participate in homicides."

Italy president considers options after cabinet collapse

President Napolitano (right) called for political continuity in the country

Italy's president is considering ways out of an acute political crisis after ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi's ministers left the coalition government.
Giorgio Napolitano hinted that he would try to oversee the formation of a new coalition without calling elections.
This follows weeks of worsening ties between Berlusconi's party and PM Enrico Letta's centre-left grouping.
Berlusconi had already threatened to withdraw his ministers if he was expelled from the Senate for tax fraud.
The current coalition government was put together after inconclusive elections in February, and the latest developments have left the eurozone's third-largest economy in chaos.
It is feared that the crisis could hamper efforts to enact badly-needed reforms to tackle Italy's economic problems, including debt, recession and high youth unemployment.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that coalition tensions represent a risk to the Italian economy.
'Grave violation'
Speaking on Saturday, President Napolitano called for political continuity in the country.
"We need a parliament that discusses and works, not that breaks up every now and then," he said.
"We do not need continuous election campaigns, we need continuity of the government's actions, decisions and its measures to resolve the problems of this country."
Italy is now in very uncertain political terrain, and at times like this its head of state becomes a hugely important figure, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome reports.
Later on Sunday, Mr Napolitano is expected to meet Mr Letta, and their talks will be closely watched for the first indications as to how this crisis will play out, our correspondent says.
Mr Letta, of centre-left Democratic Party, warned late on Friday that he would quit unless his coalition cabinet won a confidence vote due next week.

But Berlusconi pre-empted that, describing Mr Letta's comments as "unacceptable". He later said all five ministers of his People of Freedom (PDL) party were resigning.
The PDL is objecting to a planned increase in sales tax, which is part of wider government policy to plug Italy's large debts.
Interior Minister and PDL Secretary Angelino Alfano accused Mr Letta of "a grave violation of the pacts that this government is founded on".
But the prime minister responded angrily to the resignations, accusing the PDL leader of telling Italians a "huge lie" in using the sales tax as an alibi for his own personal concerns.
"In parliament, everyone will have to assume responsibility for their actions before the nation."
Berlusconi's legal problems are seen as a cause of much of the tension inside the coalition.
A committee of the Senate decides next week if he should be expelled after the Supreme Court recently upheld his conviction for tax fraud.
It was his first conviction to be confirmed on appeal in two decades of fighting legal cases.
Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in jail, but is expected to serve house arrest or community service because of his age.

BIC set for Indian Grand Prix


The Formula One Indian Grand Prix would be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida between October 25-27

The Formula One Indian Grand Prix would be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida between October 25-27, officials said on Wednesday.
The state government cleared the proposal of the JP Sports International Limited late Tuesday.
The state industrial development department held a meeting to decided and discuss the preparations of the world class sports event and after scrutiny gave a green signal for the sports event, Alok Ranjan, industrial and infrastructural development commissioner (IIDC), said.
He added that instructions had been passed on to the district administration in Noida, the home department, the Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway authorities to ensure that the event is a grand success.
Keeping in mind, the presence of international and film celebrities for the event, the home department has divided the Formula One racing event into four 'security zones' - track area, spectator area, paddock and the outer peripheral rings, an official said.
The organisers expect more than 65,000 people to enjoy the racing event and have made arrangements for the sale of 65,514 seats. The state government has asked the authorities concerned to arrange for a vehicle parking space for 25,000 cars and has asked for making of a 15-km long 'entry ramp' on the Yamuna Expressway by October 15.
To ensure smooth transport for the spectators from the parking area to the circuit, 19,439 cars and 2,000 two-wheelers will be stationed at the parking lot, an official said.
Also 100 buses would be available at the Noida City Centre metro railway station.
An official said that they are separately arranging for radio cabs, pick-up and drop buses at major city malls and shuttle buses on the outer circuit as well.
Formula One Grand Prix was first held in India at the Buddh International circuit in Greater Noida on October 30, 2011.
The 5.14 km long circuit has been designed by world-renowned German architect and racetrack designer, Hermann Tilke, who has also designed other race circuits in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Turkey, the UAE, South Korea and the US and was seen as a big achievement of then UP chief minister Mayawati.

Kimi Raikkonen shrugs off back pain, will race in Korea


Kimi will assess his fitness during practice in Korea, but expects to be able to take part in the race

London: Kimi Raikkonen will head into next weekend's Korean Grand Prix still dogged by the back problems that upset his qualifying in Singapore, but keen to race through the pain barrier.
The Ferrari-bound Finn said he will assess his fitness levels during practice in Korea, but expects to be able to take part and, as in Singapore, to line up in the race.
In Singapore, he overcame the pain and secured a podium finish by taking third place, having qualified only 13th for Lotus.
"It's better than it was on Saturday in Singapore, which is when it didn't feel too good," said Raikkonen.
"The important thing was that I was able to race and we did a pretty good job with the podium finish. It's not the first time I've had a problem, as there have been some issues with my back for a long time.
"We will have to see how it is when I get out on track on Friday in Korea."
Raikkonen believes his ongoing chronic back problems are the legacy of a crash during testing in 2001.
He has never fully recovered, but has frequently delivered stirring and spectacular drives despite his discomfort.