Monday, December 31, 2012

Ballistic iPhone 5 Smooth Series Case hands-on

1. darkkjedii posted on 2 hours ago 1 2

The iPhones far too beautiful to go in a case like that.

6. billybuttpounder posted on 57 min ago 1 1

But the iphone HAS to be in a case due to it being constructed so poorly. Finish rubs off, scratches easily, glass shatters, and the frame bends.
Premium build quality indeed LOL.

8. stealthd posted on 9 min ago 0 0

None of that has anything to do with poor construction. Anodized aluminum scratches, same thing happened months ago with an HTC phone that had black anodized aluminum. Glass isn't indestructible, it's the same gorilla glass in the iPhone as every other smartphone, and it's all luck whether or not it shatters.

2. Droid_X_Doug posted on 2 hours ago 1 0

I would go for an Otterbox Commuter case instead.

3. darkkjedii posted on 2 hours ago 1 0

Aren't those pretty thick tho?

4. Berzerk000 posted on 1 hour ago 1 0

Honestly, case thickness doesn't bother me too much. As long as I know my device is protected, I'll take the added dimensions. It's satisfying to drop your phone, and know it's perfectly fine just by the sound of the low *thud* when it hits.

5. amiaq posted on 1 hour ago 0 1

It's a Justin Bieber of smartphone! It won't look though regardless what it's wearing.

7. meccausa02 posted on 38 min ago 0 0

I have one of these cases for my Samsung Galaxy.. Love it.


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Hong Kong bans smog-heavy vehicles

Hong Kong?authorities have brought in measures to ban the highest-polluting vehicles in an effort to achieve clean air targets, Ingram writes.

By Antony Ingram,?Guest blogger / December 29, 2012

The skyline of the business district is silhouetted at sunset in Hong Kong in this August 2012 file photo. The city's ban on smog-heavy vehicles comes after 15 years of clean air measures which haven't reduced the city's smog, Ingram writes.

Vincent Yu/AP/File


Choked by?smog, the city of Hong Kong has finally cried "enough!"

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Despite setting clean air targets, the city's smog problems have been increasing every year, and authorities have finally brought in measures to ban the highest-polluting vehicles.

According to?Bloomberg?(via?Treehugger), that includes many of Hong Kong's 121,300 commercialdiesel?vehicles, responsible for much of the dirty air.

Diesel particulate matter is a major component of smog, and is a concern for many cities around the world where old-technology models still roam in large numbers.

Up to 40 percent of the?commercial vehicles?in Hong Kong only meet the European 'Euro II' emissions standards--a restriction that allows for 12.5 times more particulate matter than current Euro V standards.?

Washington dodges the 'dairy cliff,' avoids spike in milk prices

The House's Agricultural Committee reached an agreement with the Senate to extend the US farm bill ?that will keep milk prices in check in 2013. Without the compromise the price of a gallon of milk may have reached $7.

By Jim Wolf,?Reuters / December 30, 2012

Jim Mitchell selects a gallon of milk at a Milwaukee grocery store Dec. 4. As the nation teeters on the brink of the economic ?fiscal cliff,? Washington has reached one compromise, extending the US farm bill, which if expired could have doubled the price of milk.

Dinesh Ramde/AP/File


Farm-state lawmakers have agreed to a one-year extension of the expiring US farm bill that, if enacted, would head off a possible doubling of retail milk prices to $7 or more a gallon in 2013.

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The compromise measure resulted from bipartisan discussions in the?House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee?and talks with colleagues in the US?Senate,?Frank Lucas?of?Oklahoma, the?House?panel's chairman, said in a statement Sunday.

"It is not perfect - no compromise ever is - but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the?House?and?Senate?and be signed by the President by January 1," Lucas, a Republican, said.

It was not immediately clear whether?House?and?Senate?leaders would bring the measure to a vote soon enough to avoid putting the so-called "dairy cliff" milk price spike into action.

Separately, lawmakers are working on a last-ditch effort to avert the similarly timed "fiscal cliff," when the biggest tax increases ever to hit Americans are set to start, paired with significant federal spending cuts

US Agriculture?Secretary?Tom Vilsack, in an interview with CNN taped Friday and aired on Sunday, urged?Congress?to come up with such a solution, if only an extension of the old law that expired nearly three months ago, lest milk prices start rising after Jan. 1, 2013.

Absent a new bill or an extension of current law, milk prices would revert to rules set in 1949, the last "permanent" farm legislation in the?United States. Government price supports would kick in, based on production costs 64 years ago, plus inflation. The potential retail milk price has been estimated at $6.00 to $8.00 a gallon versus current levels near $3.50.?

Lucas said in the statement that time had run out in?Congress' current session to enact a new five-year farm bill, as farm-state lawmakers and the dairy lobby had hoped.

Vilsack told CNN that soaring milk prices - if it comes to that - would ripple throughout all commodities "if this thing goes on for an extended period of time."

The price of milk will not double on Jan. 1, if?Congress?fails to act. Instead, prices would rise gradually as supplies are removed from normal markets and land instead in US Department of Agriculture storage facilities.

With supplies more scarce in normal marketing channels, some milk distributors and dairy product manufacturers could have turned to imported supplies.

The Department of Agriculture is reviewing a range of options for administering programs should a permanent law become legally effective on Jan. 1, a spokesman said on Friday.

The?Senate?passed its new five-year farm bill in June, and the?House Agriculture Committee?followed with a version in July.

But the?House?bill, with large cuts in food-stamp funding for lower-income Americans, has never been brought to a vote by the full?House. The?Senate?and?House?have for months remained far apart on the issues of food stamps and crop subsidies.

Lucas said the year-long extension "provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions."

It would also mean another round of the direct subsidies to farmers that cost about $5 billion a year, and that both sides of debate had agreed earlier to eliminate.


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World News: Russian Airliner Crash; India Mourns Rape Victim; Japan Rethinking Nuclear Ban

Kashmiri Sikh students protesting against the brutal gang-rape of a woman on a bus last week in New Delhi, shout slogans in Srinagar, India, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged Thursday to take action to protect the nation's women while the young victim of a gang rape on a New Delhi bus was flown to Singapore for treatment of severe internal injuries. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

MOSCOW (AP) -- A passenger airliner careered off the runway at Russia's third-busiest airport and partly onto a highway while landing on Saturday, broke into pieces and caught fire, killing at least four people.
Officials said there were eight people aboard the Tu-204 belonging to Russian airline Red Wings that was flying back from the Czech Republic without passengers to its home at Vnukovo Airport.
Emergency officials said in a televised news conference that four people were killed and another four severely injured when the plane rolled off the runway into a snowy field and partly onto an adjacent highway, then disintegrated. No collisions with vehicles on the major, multilane highway were reported.
The plane's cockpit area was sheared off from the fuselage and the tail section partly torn away.
The crash occurred amid snow and winds gusting up to 15 meters a second (30 mph), but other details were not immediately known. A spokesman for Russia's top investigative agency, Vladimir Markin, said initial indications were that pilot error was the cause.
The state news agency RIA Novosti cited an unidentified official at the Russian Aviation Agency as saying another Red Wings Tu-204 had gone off the runway at the international airport in Novosibirsk in Siberia on Dec. 20. The agency said that incident, in which no one was injured, was due to the failure of the plane's engines to go into reverse upon landing and that its brake system malfunctioned.
On Friday, the Aviation Agency sent a directive to the Tupolev company's president calling for it to take urgent preventive measures.
The plane that crashed Saturday took off from Pardubice airport in the Czech Republic. Jan Anderlik, the director of the company that operates the airport, told Czech public television that the plane underwent a regular technical check before takeoff and no problems were discovered.
Prior to Saturday's crash, there had been no fatal accidents reported for Tu-204s, which entered commercial service in 1995. The plane is a twin-engine midrange jet with a capacity of about 210 passengers.
The Red Wings airline is one of the holdings of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who also owns the British newspapers The Independent and the Evening Standard.
Vnukovo, on the southern outskirts of Moscow, is one of the Russian capital's three international airports.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- Government officials say 21 tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban have been found shot dead in northwest Pakistan.
Naveed Akbar Khan says officials found the bodies shortly after midnight on Sunday after being notified by one policeman who had escaped. Another policeman was also found seriously wounded.
Khan says the slain policemen were found in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar, part of Pakistan's troubled tribal region. Khan is a senior political official in the area.
The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- A government official says a bomb has struck a pair of buses carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims in southwest Pakistan, killing four people.
Zubair Ahmed said the attack Sunday in Baluchistan province's Mastung district wounded another 15 people, including three women. The bomb was strapped to a motorcycle and detonated by remote control. One bus was almost completely destroyed. The other was damaged.
Ahmed said the buses were coming from neighboring Iran, a majority Shiite country and popular destination for religious pilgrims.
Pakistan has experienced a spike in killings over the last year by radical Sunni Muslims targeting Shiites who they consider heretics. Many attacks have occurred in Baluchistan, believed to be a hiding place for senior Afghan Taliban commanders and also the site of a decades-long insurgency by nationalists.

NEW DELHI (AP) -- The body of a young woman who was gang-raped and brutally beaten on a moving bus in India's capital has been cremated.
Indian police have charged six men with murder in the Dec. 16 attack, which shocked the country and triggered protests for greater protection for women from sexual violence.
The murder charges were laid Saturday, hours after the woman died in a Singapore hospital, where she had been flown for treatment.
Her body was cremated in a private ceremony Sunday in New Delhi soon after its arrival from Singapore on a special Air-India flight.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, were at the airport to receive the body and meet family members of the victim who had also arrived on the flight.

EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) -- An Egyptian security official says that thousands of tons of building materials such as cement and steel are crossing into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which had previously been under a strict blockade.
He said the move was made in consultation with Israeli officials, who were in Cairo Thursday to discuss security in the Sinai Peninsula and the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire signed by Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel last month.
The Egyptian official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The director of Gaza's border authority, Maher Abu Sabha, confirmed to The Associated Press that 20 trucks of material are expected to enter the coastal strip on Saturday through the Rafah crossing. Qatar is paying for the raw materials, which were bought in Egypt.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuelan authorities say they have deported a man they describe as a French intelligence agent who was jailed for alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate President Hugo Chavez.
Prisons minister Iris Varela announced the expulsion of Frederic Laurent Bouquet in a Twitter message Saturday. Varela says Bouquet was arrested on June 18, 2009, and confessed that he came to Venezuela to assassinate Chavez. She says he was caught with weapons.
Varela has offered no other details on the case. It's unclear if the man was ever formally charged.

FUKUSHIMA DAI-ICHI NUCLEAR POWER PLANT, Japan (AP) -- Japan's newly installed prime minister has visited the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, site of the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Shinzo Abe's visit Saturday to the plant comes amid pledges from his ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review the country's plans to phase out nuclear power.
A massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, swamped parts of the Fukushima plant, disabling backup systems and triggering radiation-spewing meltdowns that forced tens of thousands of people to flee. The disaster triggered massive protests against atomic energy.
The LDP regained power in elections this month and plans to spend 10 years studying the best energy mix for Japan. Abe has said he may reconsider the previous government's decision to stop building reactors.


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fiscal deal, still under negotiations in the Senate, would pale against initial expectations (Star Tribune)

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Seattle's MOHAI opens at its new home on S. Lake Union

SEATTLE - Millions of local memories are now officially on display as the Museum of History and Industry opened the doors at its new South Lake Union location on Saturday.

The opening came after years of preparation. It's our state's own "Smithsonian" - a museum that seeks to create a new wave of Pacific Northwest history buffs.

"You can come out and do something fun that is hopefully a little bit educational," said Kathleen Schwegel, who came out for Saturday's ribbon cutting.

Mayor Mike McGinn did the honors - with some help from the next generation.

Inside the museum, each wall is decked in historic Seattle artifacts.

"We have some of the great icons of Seattle's history, including Boeing's first-ever commercial airplane," says MOHAI's executive director, Leonard Garfield. "We've got the first sign of Starbucks. We've got that famous Rainier 'R' we used to see on I-5."

The museum moved into the Naval Reserve Armory after outgrowing its old location just off of Highway 520.

Suzanne Estey, who attended the opening ceremony, says, "I went to the old MOHAI as a kid quite a bit, and we're just really excited to see the next lifespan of a museum that tells the history of our region."

The museum's new home has 50,000 square feet of interior space that will be used to display nearly 4 million artifacts - the past kept alive to help carry us into the future.

"When you live in a place like this that has a lot of history, it's something that connects you to the place - and that's what I want to do for my kids," Schwegel said.


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Insight: Under siege, Japan central bank wakes up to political reality

TOKYO (Reuters) - Within a day of Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party sweeping to power in elections this month, elite bureaucrats in Japan's central bank rushed to ready what amounted to a surrender offer.

Abe had run his campaign with a relentless focus on economic policy and had called on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to take drastic steps to end the nation's long bout of deflation, or else face a radical makeover at the hands of parliament.

The vote had become an unexpected referendum on the BOJ itself, and the bank had lost.

Senior officials concluded that to preserve the BOJ's scope to act in a future crisis, it needed to move quickly to show it recognized reality, according to people familiar with the hurried deliberations. Abe had won a mandate for more forceful monetary easing, and Japanese taxpayers were frustrated with an economy slipping back into its third recession in five years.

In the early afternoon of December 18, two days after the vote, BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa was to pay a courtesy call on Abe. But even before then, a post-election plan had taken shape: the BOJ would consider the kind of ambitious 2 percent inflation target that Abe had insisted was needed to pull Japan out of nearly two decades of deflation and diminished expectations.

It was an about-face for Shirakawa who, since taking his post in 2008, had argued that by focusing too narrowly on consumer prices, the BOJ could miss signs of an asset price bubble like the one Japan experienced in the late 1980s.

But increasingly his own senior officials and members of the BOJ's policy-setting board were ready to take risks and test unorthodox and unproven measures that Shirakawa had long resisted, such as an unlimited debt-fuelled monetary expansion, officials familiar with their thinking say.

"The LDP's win was just too big, and it won an election calling for a 2 percent inflation target. If that's the will of the people, the BOJ must respect that," said a source familiar with the central bank's thinking. "Otherwise, the BOJ could lose everything, including its independence."

The central bank is now on track to pump 120 trillion yen ($1.4 trillion) into the economy - equivalent to the value of six Googles - even though skeptics argue that this tide of money cannot break Japan's real economic logjam: falling wages.

Instead, the skeptics say, the risk is that investors would end up concluding that Japan needed the central bank to cover its debts - a recipe for a selloff of government bonds, which already amount to twice the size of gross domestic product.

But after Abe's landslide election victory - and years of limited money-printing having failed to revive growth - senior BOJ officials wanted it understood they were ready to join the experiment in what media and investors called "Abenomics", a potentially high-octane mix of fiscal and monetary stimulus.

Abe's victory seemed to establish that millions of Japanese shared his views, people in the bank came to believe.

They felt he now held the trump card in any future standoff with the BOJ over monetary policy - a mandate to amend the BOJ Law in a way that would give the government power to impose a binding target on the central bank, or fire its governor.


In a symbol of the political significance of his monetary policy push, Abe scheduled a one-on-one meeting with Shirakawa just hours after setting up a first phone call as prime-minister-elect with the U.S. President Barack Obama.

Two days after the election, the central bank governor visited Abe at the fortress-like headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Abe reminded Shirakawa of his campaign promises. He wanted to see the BOJ sign a "policy accord" that would oblige it to support Abe's reflationary agenda and commit to a 2 percent inflation target, Abe told reporters later.

After the meeting, Shirakawa rushed through a scrum of reporters into his waiting car and declined to say what was discussed. However Abe, in another break with protocol, gave an unusually detailed recounting of the 15-minute meeting.

"The governor just listened," he said.

The next day, the BOJ began a scheduled two-day policy board meeting. The central bank announced its third shot of monetary stimulus in four months by adding another 10 trillion yen to its asset-buying program - essentially committing to create more money to buy government debt.

It marked the fifth time this year that the central bank had expanded asset purchases - its most active year in terms of monetary expansion in a decade.

More significantly, the BOJ also made a direct concession to Abe and pledged to review its existing inflation target of 1 percent at its next scheduled meeting in January.

The BOJ was retreating from the cautious stance of its classically trained boss, Shirakawa, and essentially turning a blind eye to the potential, long-term drawbacks of excessive money printing that he had long warned about.

Only a month earlier, many BOJ officials had preferred to hold off on taking action until the January meeting, according to sources familiar with the deliberations.

Shirakawa, in particular, had been in no mood to act again in 2012, let alone commit to studying a higher inflation target. He had been convinced that the BOJ's monetary easing steps in September and October were enough to stave off risks to the economy for now, the sources said.


Shirakawa's five-year term ends in April and people close to him say he has no interest in staying on. But decisions taken under his watch over the next few months could influence the central bank's credibility well beyond his departure.

A fan of the Beatles, Shirakawa, 63, has often warned against the risk of an overly loose monetary policy.

He once described Japan's struggle to recover from its late 1980s asset bubble as "The Long And Winding Road", a reference to the plaintive Beatles song. He said rich economies risked repeating Japan's "lost decade" of slow growth if they kept ultra-easy monetary policy in place for too long.

But for the past year, a tight-knit group of officials in the BOJ's Monetary Affairs Department has been nudging the bank in the opposite direction. They favor more aggressive easing, such as a big increase in government bond buying, according to officials with knowledge of those discussions and former central bank officials who remain in close contact with policymakers.

Among the actions now under consideration at the BOJ is an open-ended commitment to buy government bonds or an expansion in the type of assets it purchases, the officials said.

Another idea, floated by board member Koji Ishida, is to nudge rates to zero by scrapping a 0.1 percent interest rate the BOJ pays on excess reserves parked with the central bank.

Proponents argue that such steps would hold down interest rates on bank and corporate borrowing, encourage money to flow to private investors and help weaken the yen.

Anticipation of BOJ action has already pushed the yen to a two-year low against the dollar. Tokyo stock prices have climbed to a 21-month high on the expectation for higher earnings for currency-sensitive exporters like automaker Toyota Motor Corp.

"Markets already expect the BOJ to set a 2 percent inflation target, so the question now is what the central bank would do to achieve it," said Masaaki Kanno, a former central banker and now chief economist at JPMorgan Securities in Tokyo.

"If it wants to influence currency rates, it needs to give markets the impression it is easing aggressively."

Abe has said he will choose a successor to Shirakawa whose views are closer to his own. He has not made up his mind yet on his favored candidate but aides say he may prefer someone with negotiation and management skills, rather than an academic, to oversee the BOJ as it pushes into unknown territory.


With the LDP's coalition partner, the New Komeito, Abe has enough votes in the lower house to overrule the upper house on key votes, including a potential revision of the 1998 BOJ Law that gave the 130-year-old bank its long-awaited independence.

Under this law, the central bank is guaranteed independence to guide monetary policy without political interference and is mandated to pursue price stability. Abe has discussed a law revision to impose a price target on the central bank and add a requirement to maximize job growth to its mandate.

Abe is already using threats of a BOJ Law revision to nudge the central bank into meeting his demands.

Koichi Hamada, a Yale University professor whom Abe admires, said the BOJ would have to accept more legal accountability to achieve its price target and beat deflation.

"Generally speaking, the BOJ is making an effort. But there is hardly any change to its pace of 'too little, too late'," said Hamada, 76, who was appointed a special adviser to Abe's cabinet and also taught Shirakawa at the University of Tokyo.

"It is necessary to amend the BOJ law," he said in a telephone interview on Thursday.


One challenge now for the BOJ is setting a higher inflation target that is seen as credible. In February, the BOJ said that it would aim to achieve 1 percent price growth.

But Shirakawa, who joined the BOJ during Japan's high inflation years of the early 1970s, and many other officials in the bank have resisted calls for a higher target. For one, Japan has not seen 2 percent inflation in the past two decades. The last time it did was during the real estate and stock market bubble of the late 1980s to early 1990s, when the BOJ was criticized for missing signs of an overheating economy.

Some officials share Shirakawa's doubts over whether further monetary easing will work. Two key metrics - the BOJ's holdings of government debt and the balance of deposits parked with the central bank - are already at record highs, yet the BOJ's pump-priming measures have failed to put an end to deflation.

Nationwide core consumer prices slid 0.1 percent in November from a year earlier after flat growth in October, which followed five straight month of declines.

Another concern for the cautionary wing of the BOJ centers on the unusual structure of Japan's economy. Japan's jobless rate - at 4 percent - is half that of the United States. But wages remain on the decline, down 1.1 percent in November from a year earlier to mark the third straight month of falls.

Unable to fire workers in mass layoffs because of rigid labour rules, Japanese firms are unwilling to raise salaries. Without a rise in wages, the only practical way overall prices could go up would be through higher commodity and fuel costs which would curb consumption, not boost it, the BOJ has argued.

Setting a 2 percent inflation target next month would require the BOJ to awkwardly steer around the arguments that Shirakawa and other officials have long made.

"If the BOJ contradicts too much of what it's been saying all along, that would put its credibility on the line. People will no longer believe what the BOJ says anymore," said Izuru Kato, chief economist at Totan Research Institute in Tokyo.

The BOJ also worries about a potential bond-market backlash. Its ultra-easy policy has pushed down five-year bond yields below 0.2 percent. But some investors balk at buying too many 20-year and 30-year bonds, concerned that Abe's pledge of big fiscal spending would strain Japan's already worsening finances.

Much will depend on Shirakawa's successor and how well the central bank communicates its policy target to investors - an area where Shirakawa has struggled by his own admission.

After the December 20 easing, his aides convinced him to try the kind of visual aid often used on Japanese television - a large flip chart - and to aim his presentation at the TV cameras. An economist suspicious of sound bites, he looked uncomfortable.

"The BOJ is pumping huge amounts of money and easing very aggressively. But that fact isn't understood well perhaps because of our restrained character. There's a huge perception gap," Shirakawa said.

"I hope this chart is broadcast on television and helps more people understand our point," he added.

($1 = 85.9250 Japanese yen)

(Additional reporting by Sumio Ito and Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Kevin Krolicki and Mark Bendeich)


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Posted on December 29, 2012 by dufttuey508 in Internet

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Choosing Between Computer Science and Information Technology ...

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Information technology is a branch of engineering which deals with using computers and telecommunications to send, receive, and store information i.e. uses electronic computers and computer software to store, protect, ...


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Woman charged in connection with firefighter shootings

Authorities announce a second person has been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting deaths of two firefighters in Webster, NY.

By NBC News and wire services

Updated: 4:58 p.m. ET: An upstate New York woman was arrested Friday and hit with?federal and state charges connected to the fatal shootings of two volunteer firefighters on Christmas Eve.

The woman, Dawn Nguyen, 24, was charged with knowingly making a false statement in the purchase of guns used in the slayings,?U.S. Attorney William Hochul told a news conference Friday. She was charged earlier on a state violation of filing a falsified business record.

Hochul said Nguyen bought the guns on behalf of William Spengler, 62,?who shot four firefighters responding to a fire he had started in his home on Monday outside Rochester, N.Y., killing two of them, before killing himself.

Nguyen "told the seller of these guns, Gander Mountain in Henrietta, that she was to be the true owner and buyer of the guns instead of William Spengler," he said. "It is absolutely against federal law to provide any materially false information related to the acquisition of firearms."

The complaint alleges that Nguyen acted as a "straw purchaser" for Spengler, who, as a convicted felon, could not legally own, acquire or purchase any firearm, Hochul said. The charges are related to an AR-15-type semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun ? two of the three weapons found near Spengler's body Monday, according to State Police Investigator James Sewell.

Hochul said that a suicide note left by Spengler "includes information about obtaining the guns" from Nguyen.


Police officers escort Dawn Nguyen on Friday.

The third weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, was not connected to Nguyen, Sewell said.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Nguyen was arrested Friday afternoon at the home in Greece where she has been staying with her mother, Dawn Welsher.

Greece is about 5 miles north of Rochester and 2 miles west of Webster, where Spengler lived.

Watch US News crime videos on

Nguyen's lawyer, Dave Palmiere, told the newspaper that Nguyen bought the weapons legally and that they had been stolen. He said Nguyen didn't recall whether she reported the guns stolen.

Monroe County Sherif's Dept. / EPA

William Spengler, in a 2006 photo, who authorities say set a house and car on fire on Christmas eve in Webster, N.Y. and then shot and killed two firefighters, and wounded two others who responded to the blaze.

Welsher told the Democrat and Chronicle that neither she nor her daughter, Nguyen, gave or sold Spengler the weapons.?

"This is nuts," she said, according to the newspaper. "I never supplied this man with nothing. My daughter never supplied him with anything. He's setting us up."

The federal charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine, The Associated Press reported.

Spengler spent 17 years in prison for killing his grandmother in 1980.
After Monday's attack, a body was also discovered in Spengler's burned home.?Investigators?have said they believe the remains are those of his sister, Cheryl Spengler, 67, who lived with him. In all, seven houses were destroyed in the blaze.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

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Iraq war veteran charged with killing his Wisconsin cop wife

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A decorated U.S. Iraq War veteran was charged on Thursday with gunning down his wife, a Wisconsin police officer, in a parking lot as she was on patrol duty the day before Christmas.

Benjamin Sebena, 30, who faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide, is accused of shooting his wife, Jennifer, 30, five times outside a fire station in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa early Monday.

Benjamin Sebena "laid in wait" for his wife for several hours and when she left the building, he shot her, according to the criminal complaint. He fired twice with a 9 millimeter handgun. Then he grabbed her service revolver, a .40 caliber, and shot her with that three times more.

Jennifer Sebena had told a fellow police officer earlier in December that she had been a victim of domestic violence and that her husband had put a gun to her head, the complaint said.

"He stated he had been jealous of other men with regards to his wife," investigators wrote in the complaint.

The ex-Marine from Wisconsin served two tours in Iraq, according to a testimonial video that he appeared in for his church in 2010.

On the video, the Purple Heart recipient describes recommitting himself to God after having his leg, arm and chest injured during a 2005 mortar attack in Ramadi, Iraq that took the life of a friend.

"I was a Marine. We're trained to kill. We're trained that death is OK. (I) wasn't trained how to deal with the death, but we're definitely trained to kill," he said, speaking from a church pew.

The couple met online when he was in Iraq and began exchanging emails while he was in recovering from his injuries in California. The two began dating after he returned to Wisconsin.

Sebena was interviewed for a story in the 2010 edition of the VAnguard, a magazine published by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In the article, Sebena is said to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge set a $1 million cash bond for Sebena and scheduled a preliminary hearing for January 3.

(Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)


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Stocks log 3-day decline on 'cliff' fears

12 hrs.

Stocks eased off their lows but still finished in the red Wednesday, extending losses for a third-straight session, as weakness in the retail sector and ongoing worries over the looming "fiscal cliff" put a damper on gains.

"There's just no certainty and people don't know where to step," said Stephen Guilfoyle of Meridian Equity Partners. "We're kind of in a quandary here?the market didn't catch at 1,422 like it was supposed to and the next catch point is 1,415 on the S&P. There's not a lot of volume and you have a lot of traders with question marks on their heads right now."?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average?ended in negative territory for the third?straight session, dragged by UnitedHealth. Bank of America led the blue-chip gainers.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also closed lower. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, gained above 19.

Most key S&P sectors finished in negative territory, led by consumer discretionary, while materials?gained.?

Obama will return to Washington early on Thursday, according to the White House, to deal with the deadlocked talks between Democrats and Republicans on what to do with $600 billion in tax increases and automatic spending cuts, due to kick in on Jan. 1.

"I don't think the President is coming back from Hawaii without anticipating we're getting something done so I'm optimistic and the street is somewhat optimistic too," said Gordon Charlop of Rosenblatt Securities. "You don't get a sense that they're selling into the pessimism that people are trying to circulate about the fiscal cliff not being resolved."?

(Read More:Over the Fiscal Cliff: What Kind of Landing?)

Wall Street has been increasingly worried that the two sides may not reach a deal in time. Art Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS, said such an outcome would result in a 95 percent chance of a U.S. recession next year.

"We'll be looking at muted volume," Charlop added. "It's going to be a wait-and-see session."

Volume is expected to remain throughout the shortened-holiday trading week with many traders still on vacation and with major European markets closed for the day for Boxing Day. In Asia, markets closed higher on thin volumes, with Japanese stocks rallying to hit nine-month highs on a weaker yen.

Worries over the fiscal cliff and an extremely weak report on the holiday shopping season put major retail stocks including Macy's, Wal-Mart and Target under pressure. Coach, Urban Outfitters and Ralph Lauren were also sharply lower.

Sales in the two months before Christmas rose just 0.7 compared to last year, the slowest rate of growth since 2008, according to the MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse. Analysts had been expecting growth of 3 to 4 percent. and Netflix were both slightly lower after an outage at an Amazon web service center impacted Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America on Christmas eve. Service was fully restored by Christmas day.

Meanwhile, Apple?weighed on the tech sector and the Nasdaq 100 index, slipping nearly 1 percent.

Research In Motion soared to lead the Nasdaq 100 gainers as pictures of what is believed to be the newest BlackBerry device with a physical keyboard made rounds on the Internet. The BlackBerry 10 launch event is expected to take place on January 30.

Marvell Technology plunged more than 10 percent after a federal jury ordered the semiconductor company to pay $1.2 billion in damages in a patent infringement lawsuit against Carnegie Mellon University.?

Herbalife rallied, looking to snap a nine-day losing streak, after the nutrition and skin-care products company retained a legal firm to help defend itself against attacks by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last week, Ackman shorted?Herbalife's stock and accused the company of operating a pyramid scheme.

On the economic front, the S&P/Case Shiller home price index of 20 major cities rose 0.7 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping expectations for a gain of 0.5 percent. And prices in the 20 cities jumped 4.3 percent from last year, beating forecasts for an increase of 4.0 percent.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond said manufacturers in the central Atlantic region posted modest activity in December, but at a slower pace than in November.?


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Introducing: Alyssa Botelho

This is a series of Q&As with new, young and up-and-coming science, health and environmental writers and reporters. They ? at least some of them ? have recently hatched in the Incubators (science writing programs at schools of journalism), have even more recently fledged (graduated), and are now making their mark as wonderful new voices explaining science to the public.

Today we introduce you to Alyssa Botelho (Twitter).

Hello, welcome to The SA Incubator. Let?s start from the beginning: where are you originally from?

I?m from a small college town in North Carolina called Davidson. Three years ago, I migrated north for college. I?m now in my last year at Harvard, where I study molecular biology and history of science.

How did you get into science and how did you get into writing? And how did these two trajectories fuse into becoming a science writer?

I?ve always felt an internal kick to get to the bottom of things. It was the feeling that drew me to science when I was old enough to read, and sparked a fascination of biology?how and why we work the way we do?when I hit high school. I come from a family of classical musicians, and trained in ballet for fifteen years. So when I was little, I lived a sort of double life: that of a young scientist and a ballet dancer.

It was because I missed ballet that I discovered journalism. I was in my first year of college?training three or four hours a week in the dance studio instead of thirty?and frustrated. A friend pushed me to join the Arts section of the college paper. I would get free tickets to watch Boston Ballet if I wrote reviews. So I joined. And that?s how my parallel educations in the biochemistry lab and the newsroom of The Harvard Crimson began.

In the lab, I learned that doing science means being comfortable in a constant state of not knowing enough?of trying to distill details, getting the big picture, judging competing interpretations of data, and worrying, ?Is this true?? It is a way of working that I discovered as a scientist?and fell in love with as a reporter.

What professional experience you have had so far?publications, internships, jobs? Feel free to include a bunch of links here! What is your current job?

After working as an arts writer for two years at the Crimson, I transitioned to hard news and science journalism. This December, I finished a year-long run as a general news and science editor at the paper. Two classmates and I directed the paper?s bi-weekly science section together.

In 2011 I worked at the Nieman Foundation, where I had the chance to write about a number of leading global health journalists. Last summer I worked as a science and health reporting intern at The Washington Post. Next summer, I?ll be a reporting intern at The Boston Globe. For now, I?m focused on writing my thesis, and graduating.

How do you see the current and future science media ecosystem, how it differs from the past, and what role will new, young science communicators like yourself play in building it and making it the best it can be?

Scientists tell us new stories about our world by meticulously collecting and weaving together bits of hard-earned data. A Post journalist once told me that this work, in essence, is evidence-based reporting. From the storytellers of the laboratory, I believe, comes a model for sharper, more rigorous news reporting. Science writers can lead the way.

With every new app and interface comes the opportunity to make this evidence-based reporting more vivid and more democratic. But no matter how the facts are presented?through photos, videos, data visualization, 140 characters or 14,000?the standard for accurate reporting and tightly crafted narrative will remain the same. It is a daunting task: to do more, and faster, without sacrificing the principles. I?m eager to learn, and join in the challenge.

What is the favorite story you?ve written?

Last spring, I had a chance to interview E.O. Wilson for a story about his newest book, The Social Conquest of Earth. In the process, I was able to speak with James Watson and Richard Lewontin. These three biologists are starkly different thinkers?but all are avid writers. Hearing their stories was an honor. That week of reporting is one of my favorite college memories.

I also had great fun reporting on AIDS vaccine research for the Post and writing about a mysterious sleep disorder in the blind for the Globe.

Do you write a personal or science blog? How much do you use social media networks, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube etc., to promote your own and your friends? work, to learn and to connect?

Last summer I sat across from the prolific Post reporter Joel Achenbach, who started blogging in 2005. (Achenblog was around even before blogs were cool.) He inspired me to give it a try, so I?m blogging this year at as a sort of senior project. There you can find my clips, a stream of posts, and updates on my thesis research. I?m writing about a battle in 1976 over the construction of a lab at Harvard dedicated to work with recombinant DNA. The technology, which allows scientists to swap genes between organisms, is now commonplace. But in the 1970s, recombinant DNA drew sharp divides around the country?and among Harvard?s own biologists. In my thesis, I?m trying to piece together a local history of the recombinant DNA fight in Cambridge. It?s turning out to be a rather amazing tale about the rise of biotechnology in counterculture-era America.

I keep track of science-y happenings through Twitter, the blogosphere, and word-of-laboratory. But I tune into the radio and read a newspaper whenever I can.

Thank you!

Thank you so much.


Previously in this series:

Kristina Ashley Bjoran
Emily Eggleston
Erin Podolak
Rachel Nuwer
Hannah Krakauer
Rose Eveleth
Nadia Drake
Kelly Izlar
Jack Scanlan
Francie Diep
Maggie Pingolt
Jessica Gross
Abby McBride
Natalie Wolchover
Jordan Gaines
Audrey Quinn
Douglas Main
Smitha Mundasad
Mary Beth Griggs
Shara Yurkiewicz
Casey Rentz
Akshat Rathi
Kathleen Raven
Penny Sarchet
Amy Shira Teitel
Victoria Charlton
Noby Leong and Tristan O?Brien
Taylor Kubota
Benjamin Plackett
Laura Geggel
Daisy Yuhas
Miriam Kramer
Ashley Taylor
Kate Yandell
Justine Hausheer
Aatish Bhatia
Ashley Tucker
Jessica Men
Kelly Oakes
Lauren Fuge
Catherine Owsik
Marissa Fessenden
Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato
Kelly Poe
Kate Shaw
Meghan Rosen
Jon Tennant
Ashley Braun
Suzi Gage
Michael Grisafe
Jonathan Chang
Alison Schumacher



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Friggin' Bizarre (talking-points-memo)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Oppo Find 5 to hit more international markets in Q1 2013, adds a $569 32GB model

Oppo's Find 5 to hit several international markets in Q1 2013, adds a $569 32GB model

Ho ho ho! Even on this special day, the folks at Oppo decided to drop a bomb on its "Ofans." According to a fresh teaser on its Facebook page, not only will Oppo be offering the $499 16GB version of the quad-core, five-inch 1080p Find 5 in the US (as we already knew), but there'll also be a 32GB flavor for $569. What's more, the image also lists many additional countries: Canada, UK, Spain, Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Greece, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Japan and Hong Kong. Just to be sure, we reached out to Oppo and were told that it's aiming to hit all these markets within Q1 next year; and better yet, it'll try to do that as close to the China launch as possible. Sounds like the company's pushing for a global online retail channel (the blurred out URL probably indicates that it'll be a centralized website), and it'll be interesting to compare its performance to Xiaomi's more humble attempt closer to home.

Update: We've been told that this is only a partial list, so fret not if your country isn't there.

Filed under: ,


Source: Oppo (Facebook)


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19 December 2012 | Reference and Education


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South Africa: World watches Mandela's struggle

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, a woman walks past a mural depicting portraits of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa. The chipped street mural depicts stations in the life of Mandela each matched by a portrait of the global icon as he advanced from robust youth to old age. Now this infirm giant of history faces a struggle with mortality, it's duration unknown but its outcome certain. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2012 file photo, a woman walks past a mural depicting portraits of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa. The chipped street mural depicts stations in the life of Mandela each matched by a portrait of the global icon as he advanced from robust youth to old age. Now this infirm giant of history faces a struggle with mortality, it's duration unknown but its outcome certain. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, File)

FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2012 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, meets with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, 94, at his home in Qunu, South Africa. There may be no living figure so revered as Mandela around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool-File)

Police enter the home of former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. Mandela will probably spend Christmas Day in a hospital because his doctors want to be satisfied his health has improved satisfactorily before sending him home, a South African media outlet reported Sunday. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

FILE This May 16, 2011 file photo supplied by the South African Government Communications and Information Services, GCIS, shows former South African President Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel after they cast an early ballot in upcoming local elections at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. South Africa's president has visited former leader Nelson Mandela in a hospital, and the presidency says Mandela continues to respond to treatment. The office of President Jacob Zuma says he saw Mandela on Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012, in Pretoria, the capital, and assured the anti-apartheid icon that he has the support of all South Africans and the world. Mandela, who is 94, has been hospitalized since Dec. 8. He was diagnosed with a lung infection and also had gallstone surgery. (AP Photo/Elmond Jiyane-GCIS, File)

Unidentified man takes a photo of a giant statue of former South African President Nelson Mandela on Naval Hill, overlooking the city of Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. The 94-year old anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is spending a twelfth day in a South African hospital after being diagnosed with a lung infection and undergoing gallstone surgery.(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

(AP) ? A chipped street mural in South Africa's Soweto township depicts stations in the life of Nelson Mandela, each matched by a portrait of the global icon as he advanced from robust youth to old age. Now this infirm giant of history faces a struggle with mortality, its duration unknown but its outcome certain.

There may be no living figure so revered around the world as a symbol of sacrifice and reconciliation, his legacy forged in the fight against apartheid, the system of white minority rule that imprisoned him for 27 years.

As an idea, Mandela is monumental. As a 94-year-old man, he is frail and vulnerable, in hospital since Dec. 8, shielded from outside scrutiny by protective relatives and the South African government and military.

"He's sick. What can we do? He's sick," said Beauty Sedunedi, a Soweto resident who described Mandela as a hero. "People are crying, 'Oh, he mustn't die, he mustn't...' If God says 'come,' he'll come."

The former president would probably agree with that down-to-earth sentiment, as a man who is said to have been uncomfortable with his iconic status. The narrative of what he endured and what he contributed in the name of all South Africans tends to eclipse any personal failings, or shortcomings as a president when he took office for a five-year term after the country's first democratic elections in 1994. The country today struggles with poverty and inequality, but Mandela is widely credited with helping to avert race-driven chaos as South Africa emerged from apartheid.

He was diagnosed with a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones after being admitted to a Pretoria hospital, and the South African presidency said Monday that Mandela would spend Christmas Day there. The physical decline of Mandela, who boxed in his youth and exercised regularly in prison, could be anyone's story; an ordinary man would make this wistful journey alone, or within the cocoon of family intimacy.

In the case of a man-turned-myth, however, the media, the government and the nation are passengers on what has become an awkward ride, defined by tension between the right to medical privacy and the public's interest.

"They were very secretive about his health," Sebastian Moloi, another resident of the Johannesburg township of Soweto, said of the government's initial, sometimes contradictory pronouncements about Mandela's condition. "They shouldn't keep it away from the public."

Moloi spoke outside Regina Mundi, a Catholic church that was a center of protests and funeral services for activists during the apartheid years. He said Mandela was the "godfather" of South Africa, but objected to extreme discretion about Mandela's hospital stay, saying: "He gets enough privacy in his home."

Officials have reported that Mandela has steadily improved, but warn the situation is inherently uncertain because of his age. The media has urged the government to provide regular updates or briefings with doctors. Dire rumors have swirled on social media, angering Mac Maharaj, the presidency's spokesman.

"Why are there no voices raised in our society against the human depravity manifested in such rumors?" Eyewitness News, a South African media outlet, quoted Maharaj as saying. "It has become a matter of concern. Is it not time for all of us to look at ourselves in the mirror?"

In fact, Mandela's public image has been closely managed for a long time. He has not been seen on a major stage since South Africa hosted the World Cup football tournament in 2010, and his meetings have become increasingly rare.

In August, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mandela at his home in the village of Qunu in Eastern Cape province. An Associated Press photographer who accompanied Clinton said the former leader appeared "fragile although also happy," and seemed pleased to see his visitor.

"After some deliberation, at the last moment, I was allowed inside to photograph them together. While I was in the room I never heard him say a word or hardly even move," photographer Jacquelyn Martin wrote in an email. She described how aides encouraged Mandela to smile for the camera and remarked fondly to him on what a beautiful smile he had. They called him "Madiba," which is Mandela's clan name, a term of affection.

"He scarcely moved and was a whisper of the legend," Martin wrote. She said Mandela was seated in a corner with a blanket over his legs and a newspaper in his lap. His wife, Graca Machel, was also there.

In 2009, British journalist David James Smith met the Nobel laureate while working on "Young Mandela," a book that sought, in part, to humanize the man by examining reports about his often conflicted family life.

In an email, Smith said he was required to sign a document promising he would not ask "direct questions," take photos or ask Mandela to endorse any products.

"He was sitting in his huge office behind a massive desk and seemed slightly shrivelled and sparrow-like in comparison with the sharp-suited giant of the 1950s I had come to know so well from my research," Smith wrote.

"He apologized for not getting up to greet me. 'My knees will not allow it.' I struggled to get a conversation going for a few minutes until I told him I had been to Qunu and met his 'brother' Sitsheketshe, who had been brought up with Mandela as his brother after his own parents had died."

Smith recounted: "'Ah, Sitsheketshe!' he boomed. 'Do you know the story of how he came to live with my family?' I did but said I didn't and off he went ... He seemed mortal and ordinary and that I think is one of the reasons why, though not a saint, he is a very great human being."

Sitsheketshe Morris Mandela, Nelson's cousin, died this year at the age of 80.

History offers rough parallels for Mandela and the movement to safeguard his legacy as he approaches the end of his life. Men of his stature ? American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi ? were assassinated while actively engaged in their callings. Tragedy elevated their reputations.

The Soweto mural marks Mandela's birth in 1918; the Rivonia trial that led to his conviction for sabotage in 1964; the 1990 release from prison; the 1993 awarding of the Nobel peace prize to Mandela and the last white ruler, F.W. de Klerk; Mandela's 1994 election as South Africa's first black president; and his 90th birthday in 2008.

Truly, a momentous life. Yet Mandela, whose image adorns South African banknotes and statues and whose name was bestowed on buildings and squares, found ambiguity in it. In a passage described as part of an unpublished sequel to his autobiography, "Long Walk to Freedom," he wrote:

"One issue that deeply worried me in prison was the false image that I unwittingly projected to the outside world; of being regarded as a saint. I never was one, even on the basis of an earthly definition of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."

Reflecting on his 2009 meeting, Smith said in an interview that Mandela still retained his spark of charisma, "the glint of mischief that he had that people were so charmed by, presidents and paupers."

But he added: "You can imagine that must be almost gone now."

Associated Press


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