3.31.2011

Dear Wonder Woman: YOU Will Get Arrested If You Fight Crime In That Top

Dear Wonder Woman:

I did always admire your invisible jet, which I knew mostly through the Superfriends cartoons.

I've seen some of your costume reboots (no pun intended). I realize that you have often been asked to embrace the ridiculous, the silly, the impractical, the spangled, the swimsuit-y, and the downright inappropriate.

Now granted, that — your latest look for your new pilot at NBC — is better than the original version we saw. You have dark blue pants instead of electric blue pants, and they gave you back your red boots. THERE IS NO SUCH POSSIBILITY. You would not run to catch a bus in that top, unless you crossed your arms over your chest the whole way there.

There was a time when nobody understood that women could be good at fighting and also hot. There was a time when functionality had to take a back seat to fashion, and this is when your star-spangled undies were invented, you see. Linda Hamilton didn't wear fishnet stockings in Terminator 2, did she? There's nothing in The Hunger Games about Katniss wearing stilettos in battle. Buffy didn't slay vampires in a tube top and I think you get my meaning. I am all for you embracing your right to be a sex bomb and a crime fighter at the same time, but that doesn't mean a strapless corset made of plastic. Not only can you not use your lasso in that outfit, you can't raise your arm to hail a taxi in that outfit. I understand that you have an invisible plane. Maybe you have an invisible Vespa because of the urban environment. Um, Hatchet-Head? Circus-Face? We can't afford to have you distracted because you're yanking up your top all the time like a poorly-fitted bridesmaid at a hastily planned wedding. If you wouldn't wear it to step class at Bally's Total Fitness, don't wear it for battle.

Bearing olive branch, Warren braves Chamber

The chamber is the nation's largest and richest business lobbying group.

"The chamber has been very aggressive in opposing pretty much any policy the Obama administration has proposed," said Christian Weller, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

WARREN DEFENDS FUNDING

Warren used the chamber event to attack a proposal from congressional Republicans to put the CFPB's funding through the congressional appropriations process, instead of getting funds independently as the Dodd-Frank legislation required.

CFPB funding should be independent of the appropriations process, she said, as it is for other bank regulators.

"A new restriction has been proposed to subject the consumer bureau to the yearly appropriations process. "There is no principled reason for breaking from this historical practice and for stripping the independence of the first banking agency devoted to consumer protection," said Warren, a Harvard Law School professor.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co, spoke at the event later on Wednesday. Senior White House economic adviser Gene Sperling was also due to appear.

John Wall ejected in Wizards' loss to Heat

WASHINGTON -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat had a surprisingly tough time against the lowly Wizards -- even after No. 1 draft pick John Wall was ejected for a second-quarter scuffle.

James finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Wade had 33 points and nine assists, and Chris Bosh scored 26, helping Miami get past Washington 123-107 Wednesday night and avoid what would have been a second consecutive embarrassing loss.

Washington was left without its best player when Wall and two Miami reserves -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard -- were kicked out of the game. Crawford -- like Wall, a rookie -- scored 39 points, 12 more than his previous career high.

The 6-foot-4 Wall moved out to play tight defense on 7-3 center Ilgauskas near the 3-point arc. Wall responded by swinging his right hand at Ilgauskas.

As officials went to intervene, Wizards center JaVale McGee arrived to separate Wall and Ilgauskas and was pushed away by Heat backup forward Howard. Eventually, Wall and Ilgauskas each was assessed a flagrant foul-2 and ejected. Howard was called for a technical foul and ejected for escalation; McGee was called for a technical but allowed to stay in the game.

Ilgauskas had two points in 2 minutes, while Howard was scoreless.

Without Wall, Washington allowed Miami to lead 63-52 at halftime. In that game, Washington's Hilton Armstrong flagrantly fouled Miami's Joel Anthony. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was in the crowd.

Moms Talk Q&A: What's Appropriate April Fools' Day Joke for Kids?

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Friday is April 1 – the day for April Fools' Day jokes and pranks. Some parents may enjoy getting in on the fun with their kids, while others may worry about the effect "harmless" tricks and pranks may have on their children or their peers.

How do you talk to your kids about playing fun and safe pranks on April Fools' Day? Where are the limits and how old do kids need to be to recognize them? What about yourself — do you set the example for pulling pranks in your household?

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April Fools’ Day history, most memorable pranks

Bix said there is also history dating back centuries of people playing jokes and teasing one another in the Roman era.

Considering all the possible origins, there is no simple answer to where and when this holiday actually began, but Bix said spring is historically a time to celebrate the rebirth of nature, and April Fool’s Day may have broader connections to spring festivals. April 1 is the one day a year where it’s historically acceptable to “suspend your normal routine,” Bix said. “People accept that to blow off steam.”

Historic April Fools’ pranks

Memorable pranks throughout history — information from “Museum of Hoaxes” compiled by curator Alex Boese:

In 1996, Taco Bell released a statement announcing the corporation had bought the historic Liberty Bell and had plans to rename it “The Taco Liberty Bell.”

In 2008 BBC released a video of Antarctic flying penguins. In 1957, a BBC news report featured a report about the harvest of a spaghetti crop in Switzerland. People actually believed this.

April Fools’ Day memories:

Andy Mumgons, senior in computer engineering: “I don’t really have any memory of pranks happening on April Fool’s, but it is my dad’s birthday on April Fool’s Day and no one seems to believe me.”

3.29.2011

Victim in fatal hit, run was actor and model

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Eric B. Zentner, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on Highway 101 near Buellton early Saturday morning, was an actor and model who appeared in a Katy Perry video and various commercials, television shows and magazines such as Vogue and Esquire.

Among his credits are appearances in the soap opera “Guiding Light” and the television series “Life on Top.”

“Special is an understatement. What he did best was he gave a little piece of that special to everybody who came in contact with him,” Zentner’s brother, Andrew Zentner, said Monday.

Andrew Zentner said his brother enjoyed skateboarding, snowboarding, and loved writing, especially screenplays. He also played bass and wrote music.

“He was just truly wonderful. We’re grieving terribly, but I know so many others are as well. The family thanks everyone for their prayers and thoughts.”

Zentner, 30, who was born in Winters, near Sacramento, and lived for a time in Santa Barbara, was fatally injured when he was hit by a motor vehicle as he walked to get gas about 3:45 a.m. Saturday , according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP is searching for a light blue 1995-96 Dodge Caravan with front-end damage including a broken headlight, turn signal assembly and windshield wiper, in connection with the fatal crash.

“Our speculation is that Mr. Zentner was hit from the front and went up and over the hood of the vehicle,” said CHP Sgt. Tom Mullen.

Highway Patrol officers found Zentner’s body in the southbound lanes of the highway near the Old Coast Highway south of Buellton after

responding to a 9-1-1 call about 3:45 a.m. Saturday .

The Highway Patrol said a passenger in the vehicle who remained behind did not know Zentner had been hit.

There was no one around Zentner’s body, although numerous vehicle parts and debris at the scene indicated the make and color of the vehicle involved, the Highway Patrol said.

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Matthew McConaughey Poses for April 2011 Cover of Esquire

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Actor Matthew McConaughey will appear on the April 2011 cover of Esquire magazine.

According to Gather Celebs News Channel, McConaughey posed for the cover and was interviewed about his life as an actor and as a family man. He talks about his life with Camila Alves and their two children and he mentions that it is “nobody’s business” about why he and Alves have not married.

Just Jared reported that McConaughey posed for the cover photo shoot in a Dolce & Gabbana suit.

McConaughey has appeared in such films as The Wedding Planner, Failure to Launch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Sahara and Fool’s Gold. He has most recently appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer, which was released on March 18.

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DODGERS FYI: Chad Billingsley reportedly signs three-year extension

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Chad Billingsley was dressing at his Dodger Stadium locker Monday when a passerby said, "Congratulations."

Billingsley smiled, but the soft-spoken right-hander said nothing.

The starting pitcher had reached tentative agreement with the Dodgers on a three-year contract extension worth between $35 million and $36 million, with a possible option for a fourth year, two people familiar with the talks said earlier in the day.

Billingsley, 26, would confirm only that he was in contract negotiations that began during spring training, but he would not discuss any specific terms.

The Dodgers also declined to comment on the report from the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

But Billingsley said he hoped to extend his career with the Dodgers. He was the Dodgers' first-round draft pick in 2003, and he went 12-11 with a 3.57 earned-run average last year in his fourth full season with the club. He has a career mark of 59-41.

"I started my career here in 2003 and love what this organization stands for," he said.

Billingsley and the Dodgers avoided a salary arbitration hearing in January when Billingsley signed a one-year, $6.275-million contract. He was eligible for arbitration for the second time; he was paid $3.85 million in 2010.

The extension, if finalized, would at least run through 2014 and have the effect of postponing Billingsley's entrance into free agency by two years.

Billingsley is scheduled to start the Dodgers' second game of the season, on Friday, against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Gwynn and Gibbons

The Dodgers are looking at starting left-handed batter Tony Gwynn Jr. in left field against Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum on opening day Thursday, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.

Jay Gibbons, another contender for the left-field job, might open the season on the disabled list because he's still having problems with his vision and contact lenses, Mattingly said.

"Just because we haven't really set our roster yet, I don't really want to talk about it too much, but the way I look at it right now [I'm] probably thinking in terms of T. Gwynn" on opening day, Mattingly said.

"He's had a good camp, got experience," Mattingly said of Gwynn, 28, who entered Monday's exhibition game against the Angels batting .283 (13 for 46).

Gwynn, who played for the San Diego Padres last year and is the son of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, said "I'd be ecstatic" to play opening day.

"All along I came into the spring with just wanting to work, and work on my swing, to get to a point where they could entertain the fact" of him playing in the season opener, Gwynn said. "Plus, being a Los Angeles Dodger, it means something to you."

Gibbons, meanwhile, is "still having trouble" with his vision despite briefly leaving spring training earlier this month to adjust his contact lenses in hopes of improving his eyesight, Mattingly said, adding that Gibbons was scheduled to see another specialist Tuesday.

In the meantime, it would be tough for him to start the season because "he's not seeing the baseball the way he needs to," Mattingly said. "At this point he's having trouble picking up [the ball's] spin and dip and all those things."

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Ted Lilly is a little shaky in final tuneup for Dodgers

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The plan was for Ted Lilly to strike that optimal chord in his last spring tuneup before the left-handed pitcher starts the Dodgers' third game of the season.

Instead, Lilly was way off key Monday night as the Angels defeated the Dodgers, 5-4, at Dodger Stadium in the opening game of the teams' two-game Freeway Series.

Lilly walked five Angels in four innings of work, threw a wild pitch to another, and the Torrance native gave up two earned runs and four hits, lifting his spring earned-run average to 6.19.

Of Lilly's 80 pitches, 37 were balls.

Indeed, walks to Maicer Izturis and Peter Bourjos to lead off the first and second innings, respectively, led to both Angels scoring and set the tone for Lilly's wobbly outing.

Angels starter Ervin Santana, by contrast, also gave up two runs in five innings but one was unearned and he yielded only three hits. The right-hander also struck out five and walked two.

"It was very frustrating," Lilly said. "[I] tried a couple of different things mechanically and just had a hard time getting the ball out of my hand and rotating the ball correctly. I couldn't figure it out."

The Dodgers handed their closer Jonathan Broxton a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning.

But the Angels scored two unearned runs against Broxton, who wasn't helped by second baseman Ivan De Jesus Jr.'s fielding error on a grounder hit by Alexi Amarista. Hank Conger's sacrifice fly brought in the go-ahead run.

Behind Lilly was what might well be the Dodgers' starting lineup on opening day Thursday, except Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound to face the San Francisco Giants.

The lineup included Tony Gwynn Jr. in left field, Juan Uribe at third base in place of injured Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll at second base, Uribe's normal position.

Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley — who has reached tentative agreement on a three-year contract extension worth $35-$36 million, according to sources familiar with the deal — is scheduled to start for the Dodgers on Friday, followed by Lilly.

The fourth member of the Dodgers' rotation is Hiroki Kuroda, who plans to have his final spring outing Tuesday night when the Angels host the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.

"Tonight was rough," Lilly said of his showing. "I need to get prepared to make sure that I'm ready to give us a good solid chance to win on Saturday."

The night wasn't much easier for two other relievers, the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen and the Angels' hoped-for closer Fernando Rodney.

Jansen walked Howie Kendrick with the bases loaded in the sixth inning — Jansen's third walk of the inning — that gave the Angels a 3-2 lead.

But the Dodgers took a 4-3 lead in their half of the sixth inning against Rodney on a run-scoring double by Uribe and a single by catcher Rod Barajas that scored another run, raising Rodney's ERA to 5.40.

After both teams scored one run in the first inning, the Angels added a run in the second inning when Bourjos walked, moved to second base on Lilly's wild pitch, stole third base and scored on Izturis' single.

In the third inning, the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal and Gwynn singled and Furcal tagged up and moved to third base on Andre Ethier's fly ball out. Furcal scored when Gwynn took off for second base and drew an errant throw from catcher Bobby Wilson.

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3.25.2011

Rediscovery Dairy Queen: An American Classic

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Dairy Queen at 2011 Whitney Ave. is a free standing restaurant with a walk -up window and a drive thru to order food. A classic restaurant with a long past, this location reminds us of simpler times.

Dairy Queen has been a part of American culture for the last 60 years and managed to survive. What were once just 10 stores has now grown to more than 5,000 around the world. There are Dairy Queens in the United States and Canada, as well as 20 foreign countries.

The menu includes sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as side dishes of French fries and onion rings that compliment any sandwich. In addition there is a salad menu for the weight conscious.

To top off a meal there are ice cream treats -- cones that come either plain or dipped, and fancier treats like sundaes or Blizzards for dessert. A wide range of beverages are available from ice drinks to Milk Shakes and hot coffee.

Food can be taken home or sit outside and eat and watch the cars go by. Located in an area bustling with businesses, lunchtime is very popular. Seating out front is limited but ample parking allows for eating in your car.

There is no dress code and the atmosphere is relaxing, especially during warm weather. Accessibility is always available, ordering is at street level. The menu is reasonably priced with something for everyone.

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Walker's 36 lead UConn past SDSU, to regional final

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Kemba Walker scored 22 of his 36 points in another dynamic second-half performance, and Connecticut moved to the brink of its fourth trip to the Final Four with a 74-67 victory over San Diego State in the West regional semifinals Thursday night.

Freshman Jeremy Lamb added 24 points and hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:43 left for the third-seeded Huskies (29-9), who needed five wins in five days to capture the Big East tournament before advancing to an NCAA regional final for the 10th time.

D.J. Gay scored 16 points for the second-seeded Aztecs (34-3), who couldn't quite catch up to Walker during a scintillating second-half stretch run.

Walker scored 12 consecutive points for UConn in that late duel with Gay, whose 3-pointer cut the Huskies' lead to 65-64 with 2:53 left. Lamb replied with his 3 before an emphatic last-minute dunk.

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UC Davis students mentor 1st-, 2nd-place teams in separate robotics events

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When the Davis-based Citrus Circuits won last weekend’s high school robotics competition at The Pavilion at the ARC, mechanical engineering major Michael Corsetto shared in the victory. The UC Davis senior mentors the team, which is now eligible for the FIRST Robotics national championship in St. Louis, April 27-30.

Related story: An intelligent, reconfigurable modular robot invented by a UC Davis alumnus and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering is headed for commercial development.

In the Sacramento Regional FIRST Robotics Competition, held at UC Davis for the seventh straight year, the Citrus Circuits competed against 54 teams and lost only one match.

The Citrus Circuits is based at DaVinci High School in Davis, and includes students from DaVinci, Davis and Woodland Christian high schools.

All three schools have been competing in the Sacramento-Davis regional competition since 2005, but none had ever qualified for the national championship.

The Citrus Circuits’ next task: raising funds to get to St. Louis.

“The chance to compete versus 300 of the best robots in the world and showcase your team’s creation in that arena is a unique experience,” said Corsetto, who competed in FIRST as a high school student.

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition challenges high school students, working with professional mentors, to design and build robots to compete in contests that measure the effectiveness of each machine, as well as teamwork and dedication.

FIRST is a nonprofit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.

In another robotics program, Kevin Gucwa, a graduate student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, mentors West Sacramento’s River City High School Robotics Team. It placed second in its debut competition, the Bay Area Regional Robotics Challenge, held in San Jose in January.

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All-Nighters Make You Happy, UC Berkeley Researchers Say

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Pulling all-nighters can make you euphoric — but it won't last, and your euphoria might trigger joy-killingly risky behavior, according to a study just published by UC Berkeley researchers.

According to a report from UC Berkeley's Newscenter, UCB and Harvard researchers discovered that a night spent awake rather than asleep created heightened activity in the mesolimbic pathway, a brain circuit driven by dopamines, those neurotransmitters associated with happiness, decision-making, and motivation.

The researchers were motivated by curiosity over why so many patients with clinical depression feel more positive after sleepless nights. So they used functional MRIs to study the brains of 27 healthy young adults, half of whom had slept well the previous night and the other half of whom had stayed awake all night.

"Participants viewed numerous images, including pleasant scenes (for example, bunnies or ice cream sundaes), and were asked to rate the pictures as either neutral or positive. Across the board, those who had skipped a night’s sleep gave more positive ratings for all the images while the well-rested participants gave more moderate scores," reads the UCB Newscenter report.

The trouble is that the type of positivity prompted by all-nighters is based on short-term dopamine spikes and can thus spur overly optimistic choices that might have disastrous results. A new tattoo, a dip in the bay, or a motorcycle ride with a stranger can seem like great ideas in the blaze of that morning-after buzz.

“When functioning correctly, the brain finds the sweet spot on the mood spectrum. But the sleep-deprived brain will swing to both extremes, neither of which is optimal for making wise decisions,” said Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study.

“After a good night’s sleep, the frontal lobe regions are strongly connected to the dopamine reward regions, but that’s not the case after a night of no sleep,” said Walker, who is also the principal investigator at UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory. Located in UC Berkeley's psychology department, the sleep lab focuses on cognitive aspects of the sleeping brain using a multimodal imaging approach, including functional MRI, neurophysiological, and psychophysical techniques.

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3.24.2011

Source of latest Gulf oil spill determined

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Just hours after a new sizable oil slick was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast, a Houston-based energy company came forward to claim responsibility for the latest round of crude tainting the area.

Anglo-Suisse Offshore Partners issued a statement last night expressing "surprise" that what it claimed was a minor leak from a well that's been out of use for some time could have produced miles-long slicks that garnered national media attention. The company has been in the process of permanently plugging the well -- located in a shallow area about 30 miles southeast of Grand Isle, La. Anglo-Suisse owned a cluster of five platforms in that area that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

According to the Times-Picayune's David Hammer, Anglo-Suisse has filed three incident reports with the Coast Guard since last Friday. In those documents, Hammer reports, the company explained that as it used a remotely operated submarine to plug the well, some oil had been discharged into the Gulf.

However, the company claimed in those reports that it had spilled less than five gallons of crude -- an amount far too small to account for the scope of the spill shown in aerial photographs. Nor would five gallons of crude square with reports of oil washing up over a 30 mile stretch of Louisiana's shoreline.

The confusion surrounding this latest Gulf spill points up a fatal flaw of America's oil pollution reporting system, which operates via a virtual honor code. Under present reporting protocols, polluters are tasked with the responsibility of turning themselves in when they're responsible for an accident -- knowing all the while that a federal inspector will probably never be dispatched to investigate.

By apparently under-reporting the scale of the spill, Anglo-Suisse may have hoped to sidestep any government oversight -- along with the hefty fines that could potentially come with it -- of the latest incident. In any event, now that the company is on the record as the responsible party, it will be on the hook for the full cleanup expenses. The one bit of good news: Anglo-Suisse also announced last night that it had successfully plugged the damaged well.

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Japan disaster likely to be world's costliest


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TOKYO – Japan's government said the cost of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast could reach $309 billion, making it the world's most expensive natural disaster on record.

The extensive damage to housing, roads, utilities and businesses across seven prefectures has resulted in direct losses of between 16 trillion yen ($198 billion) and 25 trillion yen ($309 billion), according to a Cabinet Office estimate Wednesday.

The losses figure is considerably higher than other estimates. The World Bank on Monday said damage might reach $235 billion. Investment bank Goldman Sachs had estimated quake damage would be as much as $200 billion.

If the government's projection proves correct, it would top the losses from Hurricane Katrina. The 2005 megastorm that ravaged New Orleans and the surrounding region cost $125 billion, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Japan's estimate does not include the impact of power shortages triggered by damage to a nuclear power plant, so the overall economic impact could be even higher. It also leaves out potential global repercussions.

"The aftermath of the tragic events in Japan will obviously alter the domestic economy," said Takuji Aida, an economist at UBS Securities Japan, in a report. "However, Japan's position in the global economy is such that there must also be some transmission of the shock to other parts of the world."

The Cabinet Office suggested, however, that the economic hit could be softened by the expected upswing in public works and construction as the region rebuilds.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami on March 11 laid waste to Japan's northeastern coast, killing thousands of people and triggering a crisis at a nuclear power plant. Tens of thousands of people living near the plant were evacuated.

Utilities have imposed power rationing, many factories remain closed and key rail lines are impassable.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's No. 1 automaker, has halted auto production since March 14 because of difficulty securing components, including rubber parts and electronics. By Sunday its lost production will reach 140,000 cars.

The company said Wednesday it will delay the launch of the Prius hybrid minivan in Japan due to disruptions in parts supplies.

Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco said the automaker initially planned to roll out the Prius minivan in April. But the disaster has crippled suppliers and destroyed shops, forcing Toyota to postpone the launch.

Another Cabinet Office economic report released Wednesday underscored the new challenges facing Japan, which had been on the mend from a lull in growth late last year.

"The economy is moving toward recovery, but its self-sustainability is weak," it said.

More broadly, the Japanese economy has been lackluster for two decades, barely managing to eke out weak growth between slowdowns. It lost its position as world's No. 2 economy to China last year and is saddled with a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of GDP, is the biggest among industrialized nations.

The government plans to introduce a supplementary budget to tackle reconstruction, though Cabinet members have said additional budgets will probably be needed down the road.

Speaking to the upper house budget committee Tuesday, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the country's deteriorating public finances will not deter the government from reconstruction spending, according to Kyodo news agency.

Cabinet Office spokesman Noriyuki Shikata expressed confidence that the country could handle the massive task that lies ahead.

"This is not something that the Japanese economy cannot overcome," he told reporters Wednesday.

The government also reportedly plans to inject public money into banks to help support lending as companies rebuild. It may finance that from a fund of 11 trillion yen ($135 billion) that is still available under a law on emergency support to banks passed after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.


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2022 World Cup: High-Tech Way To Beat The Heat In Qatar


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Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup by promising that its nine new open-air soccer stadiums would be air-conditioned. Now the Qataris have announced another cool twist to their hospitality -- an artificial cloud to hover above the stadium and provide shade.

The head of mechanical and industrial engineering at Qatar University said the cloud would be positioned by remote control and run on solar power.

Based on the design shown in local Qatari news outlets, the cloud isn't white and fluffy. It is flat and rectangular, resembling a giant cell phone, and will be built using light carbonic materials. Perhaps something was lost in translation from Arabic because the invention is more spaceship than cloud, but ultimately players and fans will benefit from the shade.

The cost of the cloud is $500,000, but money is no obstacle for Qatar, which is one of the world's richest countries thanks to vast natural gas and oil reserves.

There have been concerns about the heat ever since Qatar began its campaign in 2009 to pursue a World Cup. The average high for July in Qatar is 106 degrees, and temperatures have reached 120 degrees in the summer. That is one reason why Prince Ali of Jordan suggested shifting the 2022 World Cup from its traditional time in July to January, which is Qatar's coolest month with an average high of 71 degrees.

Temperatures were in the 60s for the 2010 World Cup championship match in Johannesburg, South Africa, held on July 11, between Spain and the Netherlands.

Qatar, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, will be the smallest nation to host a World Cup. The other finalists to host in 2022 were the U.S., Australia, Japan and South Korea.

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The unfortunate case of Dez Bryant and excessively droopy pants


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The information about presented here will do one of two things: either it will reinforce what you know about or it will teach you something new. Both are good outcomes.

Dez Bryant(notes) made headlines Tuesday night after police were called to intervene in a dispute over the fit of his pants, or, depending on who you believe, the fit of his friends' pants. Someone's pants were deemed too low by whoever is in charge of pants policy at the North Park mall in Dallas.

Here's the Dallas PD's side of the story:

Desmond Bryant(notes) was issued a criminal trespass warning by representatives of NorthPark Center when he began using profanity after he and his companions were requested to pull their pants up by Dallas Police officers working off-duty at the scene so as to not expose their underwear and buttocks to other patrons of the center. This action is not a violation of law and officers would have taken no official police action. Mr. Bryant's response to the request was profanity laced [as in, per the police report, "What the [expletive], you stopped me like I stole something!"], and center representatives felt the outburst merited a request for Mr. Bryant to leave the premises.

There's more here. And here's Bryant's side of the story, via Calvin Watkins at ESPNDallas.com:

Bryant, however, told ESPNDallas.com his pants were up but some of his friends' pants were down.

"It really wasn't me in the wrong," Bryant said Tuesday. "It's not even an issue." [...]

"I told the guy I'm not trying to get in trouble," Bryant said. "I'm not trying to destroy my image. The [warning] wasn't toward me. I was trying to figure out what was going on. It was a big misunderstanding. I was the wrong guy."

If Dez is telling the truth and the culprit was indeed someone else, I'd just like to warn the people of Dallas to stay vigilant. There's currently someone at large with his pants at an unacceptable level. I expect that the Dallas PD will begin its investigation by interviewing all local plumbers.

The day will come when you can use something you read about here to have a beneficial impact. Then you'll be glad you took the time to learn more about .

Roosevelt Dam celebrates its 100th birthday


This article explains a few things about , and if you're interested, then this is worth reading, because you can never tell what you don't know.



You can see that there's practical value in learning more about . Can you think of ways to apply what's been covered so far?

The dam that remade the West had its 100th birthday this weekend, but this time Teddy Roosevelt did not need a horse and carriage and a tough constitution to make it to the ceremony.
David Rousseau, president of SRP, and Kira Finkler, deputy commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs, open a time capsule from 50 years ago at the closing of the Roosevelt Dam Centennial ceremony.

On Friday, some 200 visitors and dignitaries converged on the dam that launched the era of giant dams that remade the American West. Then on Saturday, hundreds more took advantage of free tours of the dam that still generates power, lures tourists to Rim Country and sustains the nation’s fifth largest city.

Once again, Teddy Roosevelt stole the show.

In 1910, the war hero, Nobel Prize winner, explorer, author, naturalist and trust-busting progressive traveled across the country to attend the dedication of the world’s largest dam and celebrate the creation of the world’s largest man-made lake — which now bears his name. Shortly after his speech there, he launched the Progressive Bull Moose Party —one of the most successful third parties in the nation’s history.

On Friday, the speech by a Teddy Roosevelt re-enactor enlivened the proceedings, which included remarks by Gov. Jan Brewer, Salt River Project President David Rousseau and others. Also in attendance were a host of state and federal officials, including Congressman Paul Gosar, who represents Rim Country.

The ceremony reflected the crucial role Roosevelt Dam played in the development of the West — setting the legal and technological stage for the later construction of Hoover Dam and a chain of massive concrete dams on the Colorado River.

Growers in the Valley crusaded to convince Congress to come up with $10 million to build the curving, 280-foot-high, 723-foot masonry dam. That amounted to about $50 for every man, woman and child in Arizona — at a time when the average annual salary was $750.

However, the growers and developers concluded they could never develop the Valley unless they could control floods and store water behind a chain of dams on the Salt and Verde rivers.

Not only did the all-out lobbying effort coax the money out of Congress, but lawmakers also established the Tonto National Forest and gave the fledgling Salt River Project rights to all the surface runoff into the lake that formed behind the dam. Technically, the Salt River Project still owns the rainfall and stream runoff on which many Rim Country communities depend if they rely on diversions or shallow drinking water wells.

The dam also included hydroelectric generators, a key feature in all the major dams that followed. To this day the dam generates about 36,000 kilowatts annually.

That decision produced a century’s worth of complications involving SRP and Rim Country landowners, which remain of vital importance to this day.

Built between 1905 and 1910, the dam qualified as an engineering marvel and symbolized the onset of the dramatic rise of the United States as a world, economic power. It used a “cyclopean-masonry” design of irregular blocks, a style first developed by the Romans and Greeks. The dam was constructed just before the development of new forms of concrete made much larger dams possible.

At that first dedication, Arizona had barely 200,000 residents, the bulk of them living near Tucson. The completion of the dam set the stage for the explosive rise of the Valley, which now harbors almost two-thirds of the state’s 6.5 million residents.

SRP expanded and renovated the dam in 1989, after tree-ring studies demonstrated that the massive watershed draining into Roosevelt Lake could create far bigger floods than the dam-builders realized.

That $430 million federal project raised the height of the dam by 77 feet and encased the original, almost ornate masonry structure in concrete. It also increased the size of Roosevelt Lake by 20 percent, although SRP didn’t actually fill the dam to the new level until last year, as a result of the impact of a decade of drought that came close to drying up the massive reservoir.

That expansion cost about $14 per Arizona resident, which only underscores the breath-taking scale of that original project, intended to stimulate the growth of a remote territory with only a handful of voters.

In that expansion project, the Bureau of Reclamation contractors roughly tripled the volume of the structure to more than 606,000 cubic yards of material. The now 1,210-foot-long dam has a 196-foot base and tapers to a graceful 21.6-foot width at the top. The spillway can release 150,000 cubic feet per second to prevent floods from overtopping the dam.

That remodeling used enough concrete to pave a two-lane road from Phoenix to Tucson and 6.7 million pounds of steel rods — enough to stretch from Phoenix to Denver if laid end-to-end.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the perfect person to preside over that first ceremony, with a capacity and vision as audacious as the dam’s designers.

The Harvard-educated heir of an aristocratic family, Roosevelt overcame severe childhood asthma to become a cowboy, rancher, sheriff, police commissioner, secretary of the Navy, New York governor, explorer and Congressional Medal of Honor winner after leading his “Rough Riders” up a hill under fire in the Cuban-American war. He wrote books and launched a vigorous progressive movement as he crusaded to limit the monopolistic power of big business.

He was vice president when an assassin killed President William McKinley in 1901 and won a second term in a landslide in 1904. When the business-oriented Republican Party balked at his “square deal” progressivism, he launched his own party.

When word gets around about your command of facts, others who need to know about will start to actively seek you out.

Rex Ryan Compares Himself to Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth


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If you thought a little NFL lockout was going to keep Rex Ryan from leading the Jets to TOTAL VICTORY, you've got another thing coming. Because Rex Ryan carries a big stick, hits it out of the park, and never says die...or something. The coach said at the NFL league meetings, “They talk about walk softly and carry a big stick. I love that. I agree with that 100 percent. But I guess I feel more like Babe Ruth. I’m going to walk softly, I’m going to carry that big stick and then I’m going to point and then I’m going to hit it over the fence."

Ryan continued, saying that there's no reason he shouldn't talk up his team: “Babe Ruth had to walk up there by himself. But if everything was up to me and that we were going to win I’d hit one out, I believe myself I’m going to hit it out. More importantly, I believe in everybody—our players, our coaches, the fan base we have established here, everybody in the organization." When asked if these constant proclamations were getting a bit stale, he asked, "How am I crying wolf? We built a perennial winner. Now we've just got to find a way to get it done. All I want is to win two more games." However, if the lockout continues, that's just more time Ryan can devote to his acting

Is there really any information about that is nonessential? We all see things from different angles, so something relatively insignificant to one may be crucial to another.

3.12.2011

Japan reactor crisis no Chernobyl, Mac expert says

The crisis at a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant is serious but not as dangerous as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, says a leading Canadian expert in nuclear safety.

Pressure inside one of six boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is rising after Japan’s massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake knocked out primary and backup power to its cooling system.

Shutdown reactors remain very hot and must continue to be cooled to keep them from superheating steam and ultimately melting into radioactive slag if water levels fall to the point the reactor core itself is uncovered.

Because Japan is earthquake-prone, its 55 nuclear plants are built to very stringent seismic design requirements, said John Luxat, professor and NSERC industrial research chair in nuclear safety analysis at McMaster University’s Department of Engineering Physics. More importantly, unlike Chernobyl in Ukraine, Japanese nuclear power plants also have hardened containment structures over them.

“If cooling is not re-established, then, over time, the fuel in the reactor vessel becomes uncovered and you will get damage similar to what happened at Three Mile Island” in a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant accident in 1979.

It’s relatively easy to re-establish cooling, he said, even if it takes time because it can take many hours before enough water boils away to uncover the core.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency says pressure inside the disabled No. 1 reactor is now 1.5 times normal pressure and officials may vent slightly radioactive water vapour into the atmosphere to lower pressure. The agency says the release would not harm humans or the environment. “The containment structures are extremely strong reinforced concrete containment structures and I would anticipate they have not experienced much damage.”

Meanwhile, a top McMaster University mathematician who studies quantum and ocean waves was in California for a meeting Friday when the earthquake-generated tsunami that had crossed the Pacific Ocean with the speed of a jumbo jet struck North America’s West Coast.

“A tsunami is not a breaker multiplied by 100,” said Walter Craig, Canada research chair of mathematical analysis and its applications at McMaster University. A tsunami is generated when an earthquake displaces the sea bottom, which in turn displaces the water, transferring tremendous energy.
The earthquake that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people in late 2004 thrust the sea bottom upwards about 60 centimetres, which was not particularly high, Craig said. The waves caused by the earthquake in Japan struck the California coast with enough power to crush boats in Crescent City, 500 kilometres north of San Francisco. “It impacted on a relatively low-lying, flat section of coast,” Craig said.

Radioactive iodine does not boost recurrence of thyroid cancer in Chernobyl survivors

A group of Russian and Japanese scientists has determined that people exposed to radiation during the Chernobyl disaster are unlikely to develop recurring papillary thyroid cancer as a result of subsequent treatment with radioactive iodine.

The team said this finding may have consequences both for people accidentally exposed to radiation and for those who have been medically irradiated as a treatment.

The disaster is still the only event to be rated with the highest level, a seven, on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Researchers matched each participating survivor, all of whom were chosen because they had papillary thyroid cancer, with two patients who had papillary carcinomas unrelated to radiation exposure.

Each Chernobyl survivor had been exposed to between 50 milligrays and 3 grays of radiation. The latter exposure level can be fatal, even with medical care, in up to 50 percent of cases, the Merck Manual estimates.

Among these participants, this radiation was associated with the later development of thyroid cancer. The team conducted this study in order to determine if additional radiation - in the form of radioactive iodine therapy - would cause papillary thyroid cancer to recur among those who had previously been irradiated.

They found that the rate of papillary carcinoma recurrence among Chernobyl survivors was not significantly increased by radioactive iodine exposure.

Those treated according to the Revised American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer were most likely to stay free of papillary thyroid cancer.

In the U.S., nearly 45,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer every year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Ryan Bowman's jail sentence filled with perks

ONE-time high-flying Australian entrepreneur Ryan Bowman sat trembling in the Beverly Hills courtroom, tears rolling down his cheeks, as he listened to the heartbreaking words from a family destroyed by his actions.

At the end of the emotionally-charged proceedings, Bowman, a good-looking 34-year-old Queenslander who helped launch the GirlsGoneWild soft porn business in Australia, would be sentenced to just under a year in jail and be allowed perks most inmates in California's overcrowded prison system could only dream about.

Just before midnight on November 10 last year, Bowman was driving his Bentley down West Hollywood's famed Sunset Strip while Lauren, who had been enjoying a night out with friends at the popular club The Roxy, was on a pedestrian crossing.

Bowman's Bentley struck the 21-year-old, catapulting her 15 metres in the air. Freeman's promising young life ended in a bloody, crumpled mess on the road.

But instead of stopping to help, Bowman kept going, driving his luxury vehicle to a residential area of West Hollywood. It was not until the next day, accompanied by one of LA's top lawyers, Blair Berk, that Bowman handed himself in to LA County Sheriffs.

"What I can't understand is how the defendant could leave my little girl in the street like a piece of trash," Lauren's father, Baltimore lawyer Steve Freeman, said in an emotional address to the court.

A few moments later, Mr Freeman stopped talking, looked across at Bowman, and for five chilling seconds locked eyes with him.

When Mr Freeman opened his mouth again, he erupted, maintaining his glare at Bowman and releasing some of the pain his wife, Donna, 24-year-old son Andrew and friends and family had endured since losing Lauren in such a violent way.

"Like a piece of trash on the road," Mr Freeman yelled. "My little girl."

Mr Freeman's address was one of nine tear-filled, victim impact statements verbally delivered by Lauren's family members and friends. Bowman, breathing heavily and his voice shaking, stood and told the Freemans he was "ashamed" and "will be forever haunted" by Lauren's death.

Bowman was originally arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence which carried a hefty jail sentence. Bowman was sentenced to 364 days jail at the Seal Beach Police Detention Center, a facility that, according to the jail's website, "boasts a newly renovated kitchen, library, commissary, inmate programs and in-room cable television with a movie library".

If Bowman does not contravene his probation, the conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanour and expunged from his criminal record.

Bowman has also agreed to pay the Freemans an undisclosed amount of restitution. The Freemans have launched a civil lawsuit against Bowman, with the family's private investigator, John Nazarian, serving Bowman as he left court.
Bowman has until Saturday to turn himself into the Seal Beach jail.

5 ways the time change may impact your health

"It's not really understood why some of these health problems that are published coincide with the time change," said Russell Rosenberg, vice chairman of the National Sleep Foundation. "We don't have studies that show the time change actually causes these problems."

With that in mind, here are five health issues that studies have connected with the loss of an hour that day.

Traffic accidents
An increase in traffic accidents is perhaps the best studied health consequence of the time shift -— even if those studies have yielded conflicting results.

"Sleep loss puts people at much higher risk for motor vehicle accidents," Rosenberg said.

A 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed an 8 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents on the Monday following the time change. A 2001 study from Johns Hopkins and Stanford universities also showed an increase on the Monday following the change.

While the time shift may present a problem, it also may provide a benefit: The extra hour of evening daylight in the spring may help prevent pedestrian fatalities. Last November, as the clock shifted back to daylight standard time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warned drivers that, with nightfall occurring earlier in the evening, "adjusting to the new, low-light environment can take time, and that driving while distracted puts everyone -— and especially pedestrians -— at greater risk of death or injury."

Workplace accidents
Workplace accidents may be another side effect of the sleep loss from the one-hour time change. They increase in frequency that Monday.

"Instead of bruising a hand, maybe you crush a hand."

A study Barnes led in 2009 looked at the severity of workplace accidents in miners on the Monday following the time change. The researchers found a 5.7 percent increase in injuries and a 67.6 percent increase in work days lost to injuries. Sleep loss determines the difference between the relatively common near-miss that happens in mining, and a true accident, said Barnes.

Sleep loss
In a culture where we are constantly being told we need more sleep, the start of daylight saving time piles another hour per person onto the national sleep debt.

"We're already a highly sleep-deprived society, " Rosenberg said. Additionally, the shift in the period of daylight can present a challenge in catching up on sleep.

"It does take a little extra time to adjust to this time change, because you don't have the morning light telling your brain it's time to wake up," he said.

Heart attacks
The connection between sleep and heart attacks gained attention following a 2008 Swedish study that showed an increase of about 5 percent in heart attacks on the three weekdays following the spring time shift.

"Sleep and disruption of chronobiological rhythms might be behind the observation."

Heart attacks have been found to be highest on Mondays, so a shift in sleeping patterns may explain that as well, Janszky told MyHealthNewsDaily.
However, there have not been follow-up studies to solidify a connection between heart attacks and the change to daylight saving time.

Daylight savings time arrives Sunday -- start practicing

Daylight savings time is almost here. Yes, much of the nation switches over to daylight savings time at 2 a.m. Sunday. Sure, folks can enjoy a bit of lingering daylight before turning on the TV after dinner. But some research suggests the time change may not be all it’s cracked up to be. It might – just might, we’re not saying it does – increase your risk of having a heart attack or attempting suicide.

More to the issue perhaps is that the mornings will be darker. L.A. Times staff writer Shari Roan examined the effect of this a few years ago when the time change was moved ahead by three weeks.

She wrote: "Early morning light sets the body's clock to gear up for the day's activities, but the later sunrise in the winter -- and a society based on the clock instead of nature -- causes a delay in the normal cycle."

The University of Connecticut Health Center offers these tips for managing your sleep and life this weekend – and the rest of the year.

--Practice. --Take a nap on Saturday – but not close to bedtime.
After the time change, go to bed at your usual time – even if you don’t feel sleepy

Most Hoosiers getting used to Daylight Saving switch

Indianapolis - Prepare to spring forward! Sunday morning marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, when clocks are pushed ahead one hour. Indiana adopted DST a few years ago.

Listen to his spring and summer plans and you'll realize, Dan Palo is what you might call a golf enthusiast.

"I'm one of those people that want to get their money's worth, so that's that much more golf I can play and means that much more bang for my buck," he said.

Also profiting from changing the clocks is Celadon Trucking.

"It has reduced the number of mistakes we were making," said Stephen Russell, Celadon Trucking.

Russell was referring to simple things like confusing drop-off and pick up times. Now, with Indiana in step with the rest of the country, the Indianapolis-based transportation company is prospering even more.

"We have achieved growth and part of that growth achievement is because of daylight saving time," said Russell.

In the past, Indiana was one of just three states were clocks were never touched. That changed in 2005 with the adoption of DST. Now Hoosiers lose an hour of sleep in the spring and gain an hour of sunlight in the evening.

Adopting DST was a huge campaign issue for Gov. Mitch Daniels. He gave Stephen Russell a Sagamore of the Wabash for his efforts in pushing for the change.

"The real issue was the economic impact on the state," said the governor.

While there are no hard numbers to show that impact, Celadon has added 800 workers and now employs 4,000 in North America.

While most Hoosiers have grown accustomed to the time change, many feel the state should be in the Central, not Eastern Time Zone. One group is pushing for that change.

Looming NFL lockout nothing new to American pro sports

The NFL Players Association decertified its status as a labor union. The collective bargaining agreement expires seven hours later.

The NFL labor dispute is nothing new to American sports. Every major American professional sport has suffered labor disputes in the past 25 years. Here's a look at other work stoppages in pro sports. Major League Baseball Strike, 1994-95

Major League Baseball quit playing in August of 1994 in the middle of their season. The World Series wasn't played and the following season was shortened to 144 games. Players went back to work in mid-April 1995.

It was the first labor stoppage involving a canceled World Series. Since that time, Major League Baseball has expanded, attendance has reached record levels and players make more money than ever.

National Hockey League Lockout, 2004-05

The National Hockey League locked out players for nearly a full year starting in September 2004. Not a single game was played. As part of the new labor deal, players agreed to a salary cap but they also had access to a greater percentage of the league's profits. NFL Strike, 1987

The last NFL labor dispute was in 1987 and resulted in one week of games canceled and three weeks played with replacement players. The owners were well prepared—they already had replacement players ready to go after the games were canceled. The NFL is still the hottest professional team sports league in the United States. One of the most famous replacement players was Timmy Smith, who set a Super Bowl record for rushing yards for the Washington Redskins.

National Basketball Association Lockout, 1998-99

The NBA shortened its season to 50 games from 82 games as owners wanted to cap player salaries in 1998. It was the first time the NBA had lost games and revenue due to labor disputes. MLB Strike, 1981

Major League Baseball had a mid-season strike in 1981. Instead of canceling the post-season, this one lasted only 50 days from mid-June to late July. The strike was more about free agency than anything else—owners were worried free agents would demand more money. Free agency is alive and well today—contracts are getting richer and richer.
The current NFL labor dispute is currently in federal mediation as both sides are headed for a lockout.

Jeffrey D. Bowman

Age 45, of South Lyon, passed away suddenly March 6, 2011.

He was born August 25, 1965 in Highland Park, Michigan to Donald E. and Ellen C. (McLaughlin) Bowman. Jeff, a 1983 graduate of Fordson High School, married the love of his life, Kristen Calder on August 12, 1994. They moved to South Lyon from Bowie, Maryland in 2002.

Mr. Bowman joined the Federal Air Marshal Service in March 2002.

Assigned to the Detroit Field Office, Mr. Bowman has served as the Operations Section Supervisor since April 2007. As the Operations SFAM he would oversee the daily field office operations ensuring an amiable balance between the agency's mission tempo (domestic and international), training requirement and employee quality of life concerns.

Mr. Bowman was promoted to the rank of J-Band in October 2005 and served as a Squad Supervisor managing the daily activities of fifteen FAMs. From March 2002 to October 2005, Mr. Bowman served as a Mission Flying FAM, Acting Supervisor (9 months) and Operations Officer. Mr. Bowman was instrumental during the stand up phase of the FAMS Detroit Field Office. Mr. Bowman authored and assisted in the creation of numerous field office standard operating procedures as well as creating and implementing the scheduling procedures that are still in use.
Above all else, Jeff adored his family. He was a dedicated Dad who was constantly involved in every aspect of his children’s lives. Jeff loved to travel nationally and internationally and stored a wealth of knowledge of world and American history.

3.11.2011

The Morning Leverage: HCA’s Pricing For Public Return? Winning


Now that’s a public re-entrance: HCA Holdings Inc. priced its initial public offering at $30 a share, the high end of the hospital operator’s projected range, raising a whopping $3.8 billion. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Bain Capital LLC and BAML Capital Partners took HCA private for $33 billion in 2006, each putting in $1.5 billion of equity.

Energy-focused First Reserve Corp. makes a play in Italy, striking a deal to buy a 45% stake in power plant maker Ansaldo Energia. Conglomerate Finmeccanica is selling Ansaldo to holding company Ansaldo Electric Drives, held 45% by First Reserve and 55% by Finmeccanica. The total transaction value is roughly EUR1.2 billion ($1.66 billion).

Bain Capital LLC is poised to kick off formal fund raising for its sophomore vehicle focused on Asia. In what would be a first for the firm, Bain is thinking about offering investors a choice between lower management fees or lower carried interest.
Also, Tavistock Group acquired the brands and seven locations of E-Brands Restaurants, which operates the Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bar, AquaKnox and Taqueria Canonita. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the summer. . . . Advent International Corp. returned commitments to its Japan-focused fund after the firm failed to close a deal for the vehicle in more than two years, a person familiar with the matter said. Buchang Group Co., which makes and distributes traditional Chinese medicines, has raised $120 million in a round of funding led by Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia.

Ashley Olsen splits from partner

The best course of action to take sometimes isn't clear until you've listed and considered your alternatives. The following paragraphs should help clue you in to what the experts think is significant.

Most of this information comes straight from the pros. Careful reading to the end virtually guarantees that you'll know what they know.

Ashley Olsen has split from her boyfriend Justin Bartha after a two-year romance.

The 24-year-old actress and fashion designer was famously secretive about her relationship with the 32-year-old actor. Although they were together for around two years, they rarely discussed their relationship in public.

Sources have confirmed the split to Us Weekly, but failed to elaborate on the reasons for the break-up or when it happened.

One friend simply told the magazine the relationship has run its course, stating: "It's over."

The pair had been dating since summer 2008, and were constantly rumoured to be planning to marry.

In 2009, it was reported the couple got engaged during a romantic trip to Paris. Ashley’s representative denied the story at the time insisting it was “not true”.

There's a lot to understand about . We were able to provide you with some of the facts above, but there is still plenty more to write about in subsequent articles.

Will March 19 'Supermoon' Trigger Natural Disasters?

On March 19, the moon will swing around Earth more closely than it has in the past 18 years, lighting up the night sky from just 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers) away. Richard Nolle, a noted astrologer who runs the website astropro.com, has famously termed the upcoming full moon at lunar perigee (the closest approach during its orbit) an "extreme supermoon."

When the moon goes super-extreme, Nolle says, chaos will ensue: Huge storms, earthquakes, volcanoes and other natural disasters can be expected to wreak havoc on Earth. [Photos: Our Changing Moon]

Even under normal conditions, the moon is close enough to Earth to make its weighty presence felt: It causes the ebb and flow of the ocean tides.

The moon's gravity can even cause small but measureable ebbs and flows in the continents, called "land tides" or "solid Earth tides," too. The tides are greatest during full and new moons, when the sun and moon are aligned either on the same or opposite sides of the Earth.

According to John Vidale, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, particularly dramatic land and ocean tides do trigger earthquakes. "Both the moon and sun do stress the Earth a tiny bit, and when we look hard we can see a very small increase in tectonic activity when they're aligned," Vidale told Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site to SPACE.com.

At times of full and new moons, "you see a less-than-1-percent increase in earthquake activity, and a slightly higher response in volcanoes."

William Wilcock, another seismologist at the University of Washington, explained: "When you have a low tide, there's less water, so the pressure on the seafloor is smaller. According to Wilcock, earthquake activity in subduction zones at low tides is 10 percent higher than at other times of the day, but he hasn't observed any correlations between earthquake activity and especially low tides at new and full moons. Vidale has observed only a very small correlation.

What about during a lunar perigee? Can we expect more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on March 19, when the full moon will be so close?

The moon's gravitational pull at lunarperigee, the scientists say, is not different enough from its pull at other times to significantly change the height of the tides and thus the likelihood of natural disasters. [Infographic: Phases of the Moon Explained]
Vidale concurred. The bottom line is, the upcoming supermoon won't cause a preponderance of earthquakes, although the idea isn't a crazy one.

Corned Beef Fit for a Saint


Historically, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a time of dancing, drinking and feasting (to break the Lenten prohibition against eating meat).

But, the feast was typically Irish bacon and cabbage!

Our beloved tradition of eating corned beef probably began in the late 19th century with Irish immigrants to Canada and America. Beef and salt were less expensive, so brined or pickled beef was more accessible.

Despite its origins, corned beef and cabbage has certainly become America’s celebration meal in honor of St. Patrick.
Justify Full
Corned beef brisket can be purchased fully cooked from the deli, but it’s easy to cook at home, too.

The secret is simple: cook it long and slow, tightly covered. Corned beef brisket needs to gently simmer. The steam created ensures fork-tender, moist beef.

Do not boil! Boiling does not speed up the cooking process; it only toughens the beef. Just check it at the end of the suggested cooking time.

To determine doneness, insert a fork into the brisket; the beef is fork-tender when fork inserts without resistance and releases easily.

Always carve brisket across the grain into thin slices for the most tender eating experience.

To cook prepared corned beef, place it in a large Dutch oven along with the liquid and spices that accompanied it in the package. (If seasoning packet is not included with the corned beef brisket, substitute 1-1/4 teaspoons of pickling spice.) Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot.

Check the meat occasionally, adding more water if necessary. The beef is ready when it pulls apart easily.

BASIC CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE

3 pounds corned beef brisket with spice packet

10 small red potatoes

5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.

Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain. Yields about 5 servings.

CORNED BEEF BRISKET WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES

3-1/2 to 4 pounds boneless corned beef brisket with seasoning packet

6 medium cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

2 cups water

1 pound carrots, cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound parsnips, cut into 2-1/2 by 1/2-inch pieces

1 pound cabbage, cut into 4 wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Lemon-Mustard or Horseradish Sauce (recipes follow)

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Heat oven to 350°F.

Place corned beef brisket in roasting pan; sprinkle garlic, contents of seasoning packet and peppercorns around brisket. Add water; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Braise in upper third of 350°F oven 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until brisket is fork-tender.

Meanwhile place carrots, parsnips and cabbage on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and ground pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast in lower third of 350 degrees F oven with brisket 55 minutes. Uncover; continue roasting 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and begin to brown.

Remove brisket from roasting pan. Allow to rest for a few minutes, then carve into thin slices. Serve with roasted vegetables and Lemon-Mustard Sauce or Horseradish Sauce. Serves 6.

Lemon-Mustard Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped

2/3 cup dairy sour cream

1/3 cup Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and cool 1 minute. Stir in sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, dill and honey and season with salt and pepper.

Horseradish Sauce

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk, hot

1 cup beef bouillon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup horseradish

Pinch of nutmeg

Melt butter, stir in flour; add hot milk and stock, stirring constantly and cook until well blended. Add salt and pepper and nutmeg. Mix well. Stir in horseradish.

What’s the hold up on Men in Black III? Will Smith doesn’t like the script.


Shooting on the big threequel has been delayed because its lead star wants to see some changes, according to the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter (now on newsstands).

Though the script’s original draft (penned by Tropic Thunder writer Etan Cohen) found favor with the studio, Sony Pictures, director Barry Sonnenfeld and producer Walter Parkes, Smith wasn't wild. "He's become very enamored with aspects of screenwriting," says a source involved with the production.

Nevertheless, in an unprecedented move, Sony started shooting in November — with only one act of the script completed.

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Sony spokesman Steve Elzer tells THR the studio came up with the unusual shooting plan because it feared the New York incentive program would expire at the end of December. The studio also has said the hiatus would allow outdoor scenes to be shot in New York in spring.

But several observers suspect the studio moved ahead with production largely because all of the key players -- including Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld -- were finally ready to go, and a delay might have jeopardized that.

It had built in a break in production that was scheduled to last from late December through mid-February, during which the remainder of the script was to be finished.

The problem still hasn’t been resolved – and now the hiatus has been extended until March 28 as a new writer David Koepp (who did uncredited work on the first MIB) is brought in for revisions.

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Koepp has hit work cut out for him.

MIB III calls for Smith's character, Agent J, to go back in time - 1969, to be exact – where he encounters famous figures of the day, like Yoko Ono, as well as a younger version of Jones' Agent K (played by Josh Brolin).

"It's hard because you're locked into the beginning of the movie," a production source acknowledges. PHOTOS: Hollywood About Town

One former studio chief is not surprised that Sony did not come up with a script that passed muster with Smith in the time allotted. According to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, Sony expected to save more than $35 million thanks to the New York tax program. (MIB has a budget that will easily pass $200 million.)

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Sony maintains that the extra costs are not substantial. "Because we extended the hiatus from the holidays, few people were on the payroll, so this was a relatively inexpensive decision that has had an insignificant impact on the budget," Elzer told THR in an e-mail.

“Zombie” ants fall victim to mind-control fungus

If you have even a passing interest in the topic of , then you should take a look at the following information. This enlightening article presents some of the latest news on the subject of .

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Zombie ants' may sound like the title of an Ed Wood movie, but, according to National Geographic, they are quite real.

Oddly, there's nothing very zombie-like about the actual ants. It's only when a particular fungus takes over the ant's brain that things get weird.

Once the "stalk of the newfound fungus species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani infects an ant, the ant gives up control over its own body. After the fungus is in control, it forces the ant to scamper toward "a location ideal for the fungi to grow and spread their spores." Then, it's lights out for the ant. Who knew a fungus could be so diabolical?

These wild discoveries were made by a group in Brazil headed by entomologist David Hughes. National Geographic published a series of pictures of ants that have "lost their minds" to the fungus. You can check out a sample of them below. Not for the squeamish.

This article's coverage of the information is as complete as it can be today. But you should always leave open the possibility that future research could uncover new facts.

National Pi Day celebrates all things math

This interesting article addresses some of the key issues regarding . A careful reading of this material could make a big difference in how you think about .

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DOWNEY – In recognition of Pi Day on March 14 and to build math awareness, Sylvan Learning is offering free math resources to families.

Pi Day is the annual observance of the love of math and the mathematical constant Pi, commonly approximated as 3.14.

To celebrate Pi Day, Sylvan Learning is providing a free new online Math Activity Book with 30 days of math concepts, trivia, questions and puzzles. Parents, students and even educators can log on to Sylvan’s website to download and print activities and math games.

“Effort and attitude in math matters,” said Joseph Irizarry of Sylvan Learning located in Downey. “Math skills build over time, so missing one early essential component can translate into long-term difficulties that can slow future progress. The Math Activity Book can be used by the entire family, including parents, to open a mathematical dialog that will revive forgotten concepts and practice skills.”

Irizarry is also encouraging parents to play an active role in boosting their child’s math skills by offering the following tips for getting them interested in math at an early age:

Make math connections to everyday life. There are many opportunities for children to see the value of math in everyday occurrences. Think of tasks that you do everyday – rearranging a teenager’s room is a lesson in geometry and equally cutting slices of pie can teach fractions. The more parents talk about math while completing these tasks, the more students will realize its importance.

Involve your children in real-life family decisions. Encourage them to plan a family activity while remaining within the budget. For example, ask your children to plan a night at the movies or create a budget for the family vacation.

Demonstrate your math ability. Think out loud so your child can hear your analytical reasoning. For younger children, count your change or discuss which measuring cup is needed when baking a birthday cake. For older students, calculate discounts when shopping or estimate how much money will be needed to fill up the gas tank.

Mathematize career choices. Casually talk about mathematics while highlighting the types of math needed in your children’s chosen careers. Video game designers, architects, doctors, football coaches, musicians and chefs apply math skills in their daily work.

Praise your children’s academic progress. Tell your children you are proud of their math efforts, even when they struggle. When students are confident in their abilities, they enjoy learning. That love of learning in turn leads to a willingness to try new, academic experiences.

When word gets around about your command of facts, others who need to know about will start to actively seek you out.

Diary: The sheen's coming off fast


Much like my good self, Sheen's youthful looks have long been at odds with a life of high-profile decadence. Yet, ever since it emerged he was swapping a lucrative career on a top US sitcom for a new vocation as the world's best village idiot, it's been hard not to notice that this once seemingly ageless handsome rogue (45) is looking increasingly frayed at the edges by the day. While one theory doing the rounds suggests his terminated contract with CBS included an all-important "eternal youth" guarantee, the now "sober" Sheen's recent brag that he out-drugged Keith Richards could come back to haunt him – if Charlie keeps ageing at this rate, there's every chance he too could be up for playing Johnny Depp's dishevelled on-screen Dad before the year's out. It's certainly not for me to suggest a hasty return to the vodka and Colombian marching powder.

* It would be fair to conclude that we've come some way since that dashing young leader of the Lib Dems was being hailed as "more popular than Winston Churchill" during last year's election campaign. Indeed, in those far-off barmy days when the all-important phrase "I agree with Nick" proved an ideal chat-up line for those of us cynical enough to use it, I'm sure forward-thinking party bosses felt they were playing a blinder by cunningly scheduling the Lib Dems' spring conference this year to be in Cleggover's backyard of Sheffield.

"In between the planned protests from unions, students and general trouble-makers, we're told the entire public transport infrastructure could come under unbearable pressure. * Yesterday saw the Daily Mail website go all nostalgic with a picture-led spread on Adolf Hitler's wife, Eva Braun. Rare photos included Frau Hitler "blacking up" as Al Jolson – along with some wholesome swimwear shots which, I'm sure, were warmly met in certain corners of Middle England. Loyal readers were quick to make their feelings known in the comments section as a healthy debate gathered momentum. While more alarmist types were "chilled to the bone" and "feeling quite sick", Eva was hailed elsewhere as the "ultimate groupie". One correspondent calmly added: "Ah ha! Hitler's girlfriend blacked up! That should have the old PC Brigade foaming at the mouth!"

* Labour MP – and, I'm reliably assured, future world leader – Chuka Ummuna, is known to be blessed with his own sense of destiny. Yesterday's article by Dan Hodges in Labour Uncut proved suitably measured when assessing the great man's talents. After daring to mention the "unthinkable"(?) day when Little Ted ceases to be Labour leader, Hodges was quick to place Chuka among the contenders. A lifestyle choice." * I've been around long enough to know you insult a national treasure at your peril, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that my description of excitable Sky political hack Jon Craig as a "mad old parrot" yesterday has been met with steely defiance by the great man himself. "I see High Street Ken's Diary in The Independent calls me a 'mad old parrot' who's 'regularly squawking' at embattled government ministers," he writes, before sensitively adding "Old?". Of course, what I meant to say is that the esteemed Mr Craig is, in fact, a middle-aged mad old parrot. My apologies.

Daily Mail perfected


After 115 years the newspaper has finally combined race, fascism and women's interests in one flawless image.

Media analyst, Julian Cook, said: "This is multi-layered journalistic perfection on a scale almost too overwhelming to comprehend.

"It is both a fascinating insight into the playful side of an enigmatic celebrity as well as a provocative statement about political correctness gone mad.

"This one image will start a million conversations about her hair and her clothes, why political wives should stay in the background 'unlike that Michelle Obama' and why the BBC should bring back the Black and White Minstrel Show if only it wasn't run by Muslims and homosexual Jews."

He added: "This is why Paul Dacre gets the big money and the very best medication.

"I beg him with all my heart to let Jan Moir write a piece headlined 'Isn't there a little bit of Eva Braun in all of us?'."

Helen Archer, professor of what's in the newspapers at Reading University, said: "In years to come we'll look back on this day as the high watermark in the Daily Mail's sacred quest to combine fascist sympathising with the cult of celebrity.

"It is truly perfect.

U.S. lawmaker supporting terrorist group? Rep. Peter King isn't the first


Yesterday Rep. Peter King was mocked on The Daily Show, and today he's in the New York Times for his longtime support of the Irish Republican Army -- which killed hundreds of civilians in attacks against the British. While acknowledging that "terrorism is terrorism," the New York politician made no apologies for his support of the IRA, telling the Times that "the I.R.A. never attacked the United States. And my loyalty is to the United States."

King's not the only American politician to have publicly supported a terrorist group. An Iranian militant group known as the Mujahadin-e Khalq, or MEK, has also enjoyed the support of several prominent U.S. political figures despite the group's designation as a terrorist organization. The group claims to have renounced terrorism in 2003.

MEK's prominent U.S. supporters -- mostly Republicans, but some Democrats too -- have attended pro-MEK events and personally voiced support for the removal of MEK from the U.S. terror list.

They include: former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani, former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former White House Homeland Security advisor Frances Townsend, former attorney general Michael Mukasey, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton, and many others. They've made the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend argument, noting that MEK is an organized resistance group opposing a terrorist state.

"The United States should not just be on your side," Guiliani said at a pro-MEK event in December, the Washington Post reported. As Time magazine noted, however, the group isn't popular back in Iran -- especially not with Iran's pro-democracy movement, which challenged the regime following the country's contested 2009 presidential election and whose members have also led some of the recent protests in Iran.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week that the State Department is reviewing MEK's designation as a terrorist group.

Thompson breaks Big Ten tournament scoring record

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INDIANAPOLIS — Juice Thompson's tongue. That will be the enduring image from Northwestern's record-setting 75-65 victory Thursday over Minnesota.

Considering he scored 35 points, more than any player in the 14-year history of the Big Ten tournament, Thompson had a number of chances to celebrate big shots in his patented way — by smiling and letting his tongue hang down over his lower lip. He did it twice Thursday.

"It just happens out of instinct," said Thompson, the Lincoln Park High School product whom opponents have labeled an All-American trash talker.

Teammate John Shurna said that when the tongue comes out, "that's when he's toughest to stop."

And Minnesota had no chance against him in the second half. Thompson scored 22 points in 19 minutes, nailing 7 of 9 from the field and all six free-throw tries.

That's the latest from the authorities. Once you're familiar with these ideas, you'll be ready to move to the next level.

Tubby Smith working on extension

Have you ever wondered if what you know about is accurate? Consider the following paragraphs and compare what you know to the latest info on .

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Tubby Smith says he's staying at Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers coach says he's working on a contract extension that will keep him in Minneapolis long-term despite speculation he could take another job after the season.

Smith made his comments Thursday after Minnesota was eliminated from the Big Ten tournament with a 75-65 loss to Northwestern. The Gophers have lost 10 of 11 games and their NCAA tournament hopes took a big hit with their latest loss.

But after the game, Smith jokingly told reporters the only way he would leave Minnesota is if the late-season collapse prompted school officials to take their proposal off the table.

Last year, Smith also denied rumors he was interested in the Oregon job by saying he was working on an extension.

Hopefully the sections above have contributed to your understanding of . Share your new understanding about with others. They'll thank you for it.