Monday, October 31, 2011

Threatened with death, a member of Rio de Janeiro Brazil leaves for Europe

A member of Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Exile in Europe - at the invitation of Amnesty International - a member of Rio de Janeiro threatened with death by the militias para-police movement causes outrage human rights and tarnished the image of the city, and two years of World Cup to be held in 2014. Marcelo Freixo, left-wing MP of 44 years and Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the militia in 2008, was invited "last week by Amnesty to leave Brazil to go to Europe in a country kept secret" after a new wave of threats, said Monday his spokeswoman Paula Mairan.

The Parliamentary Committee he chaired led to the indictment of 225 people, including politicians, police and military, and firefighters. "I received an invitation from Amnesty and because of numerous threats and pressure that this represents, I accepted the invitation," said the member of the site Monday of the group G1 Globo. "It is lamentable that elected member must leave the country. It's very bad for the Brazilian state, democracy and the image of Rio," said Gilson Cardoso, spokesman for the National Movement of Human man. Must continue its fight here in Brazil, it is a scandal that it should abandon its operations here. "


On September 17, representatives of several political parties and social movements gathered in Rio to seek the protection of a document after Marcelo Freixo intelligence had revealed that he was the target of an attack. Long considered a "lesser evil" compared to the traffickers, militias are reminiscent of "death squads" who pursued and murdered opponents of the dictatorship (1964-1985), recently explained Marcelo Freixo. Today these militias displacing drug traffickers in the favelas where they impose their so-called population protection against a "security tax" and are as deadly as gangs of traffickers. Freixo says, the government of Rio "does not have the political will to fight the militias that have elected a lot of people."

In August, Judge Patricia Acioli, known to rigorously pursue the militia, was killed in an ambush in front of his home. The floor of Rio has since issued eighteen arrest warrants against a militia group co-led by a former city councilor of Rio. Mr. Freixo share in Europe Tuesday for "an indefinite period," said his spokeswoman, noting that it "was pre-candidate for the Socialist Party and freedom for mayor of Rio for the 2012 elections."

News by Lemonde

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10 Great Mountain Towns

By Jamie Moore (Yahoo Travel)

Lucerne, Switzerland

This picturesque Swiss Alps city is like a model-train set come to life. Medieval-style homes and shops with flower boxes line cobblestoned streets. The wooden 14th-century Chapel Bridge (Kapllbrücke) spans the Reuss River flowing through the town's crystal-clear Lake Lucerne. And in the backdrop, little red cog railway cars climb the steep Mt. Pilatus.

Do: Take the cog railway up to Mt. Pilatus for lunch or for a hike at what feels like the top of the world. There are also high ropes courses, zip-lines, tubing slides, and summer toboggan runs here. Return by train and boat or by gondola and bus to the historic Old Town, a pedestrian-only shopping area where you can stroll narrow, winding streets to the Hermès shop. Splurge at Max Chocolatier, or save by hitting the impressive chocolate aisle at a local grocery store.

Riobamba, Ecuador

Like many cities in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Riobamba lives in the shadow of a sleeping giant. Clouds wisp at the tip of the inactive Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador's highest point, while native llama, alpaca, and vicuña graze in the protected habitat below. You'll see why some call Riobamba the Sultan of the Andes when you explore the colonial city center's cathedrals and museums.

Do: Shop for handicrafts at the Saturday market on the streets northeast of Parque de la Concepción. Try the market's snow cones (raspados) made from blocks of ice transported from the glacier by mules, a local tradition. Another favorite is the zigzagging Chiva Express train ride up a 45-degree pitch called Devil's Nose. Latin Trails will take you to the train or on an ice-harvest adventure.

Girdwood, Alaska

Next to the state's largest ski resort, just outside Anchorage, Girdwood was originally called "Glacier City" for the colossal icy peaks that surround it. Calving glaciers thunder into the Prince William Sound, and humpback whales play in nearby Kenai Fjords National Park. Set amid this idyllic valley's rugged beauty is one of Alaska's most productive and still active placer gold mines, Crow Creek Mine, where you can pan for gold.

Do: Find adventure and great photo ops year-round on a guided glacier hike or ice-climbing trek. A trip to the top on Alyeska Resort's aerial tram nets you a splurge-worthy dinner destination: Seven Glaciers Restaurant. The town's best cinnamon rolls are at The Bake Shop near the base of the ski hill.

Bled, Slovenia

Not far from the Austrian border, Bled in the Julien Alps has all the elements of a classic fairy tale: a clifftop castle, frosted peaks, an emerald lake, a church steeple, a wishing bell, and a signature sweet treat. This alpine town even sits at the edge of a dark forest (Triglav National Park) with a waterfall and mountains known for legends of the Zlatorog, the golden-horned chamois that is said to live here.

Do: Hike up to the 1,000-year-old Bled Castle, where you can bottle wine in the cellar, indulge in the herbal gallery's aroma, or stay for a meal with a view. Visit Bled Island in Bled Lake by rowing a boat or hitching a ride on a local gondola-like pletna, then ring the famous church bell. Don't miss the town's signature cream cake (kremna rezina) at Slascicarna Smon.

Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games introduced the world to this ski town's stunning beauty and cosmopolitan allure. At the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, icy blue streams gurgle through the pedestrian village. Boutique shops, lively pubs, and restaurant patios open onto great people-watching thoroughfares, where you can take in high fashion and sexy foreign accents in one delicious shot.

Do: Ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb, or soak in the outdoor hydrotherapy baths at Scandinave Spa. In winter you can try the Sliding Centre's skeleton and bobsleigh runs—reaching speeds of up to 135 kilometers per hour—or race the luge track from spring through fall. At the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre cafe, sample traditional bannock fry bread and salmon chowder. Hit Zog's Dogs food cart for cinnamon BeaverTails or bratwurst and poutine (a mix of fries, cheese curds, and gravy).

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is the quintessential New England village. In a fertile valley between the Green Mountains' peaks, this quaint town of 4,500 is a throwback to all things wholesome. The historical Main Street area is home to a general store, a malt shop, and even a mercantile with fresh handmade fudge. Head to the surrounding countryside for a grazing tour of Vermont's farm treats.

Do: You can stop in for free samples year-round at Laughing Moon Chocolates on Main Street or at Cold Hollow Cider Mill and Ben & Jerry's in the Waterbury area. Harrison's Restaurant & Bar, a popular watering hole in a historical Main Street basement, is like the Cheers of Stowe. Browse Stowe Craft & Design for handmade items, including great furniture for mountain retreats.

Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand

This South Island lake town, away from the crowds of its popular Queenstown neighbor, sits in a glacier-carved basin near the edge of Mt. Aspiring National Park's Southern Alps. Mountains rise out of Lake Wanaka, vineyards drape the hillsides, and tiny islands harbor uninhabited sanctuaries for the flightless buff weka bird. It's no wonder the laid-back Kiwi vibe has such a stronghold here.

Do: Relax with a local beer and a slice of pizza at Kai Whaka Pai, which has the best view in town. Eco Wanaka boat tours take you to Moa Wahu Island to see the native weka. At Cinema Paradiso you can watch movies in comfy old couches and eat warm homemade cookies during the intermission. Experience the scenery from an open-air Vintage Tigermoth flight with goggles and a leather helmet or on a canyoning trip in a wetsuit, helmet, and booties.

Taos, New Mexico

This Southwestern town, in a high desert valley, is a study in contrasts. Rich blue skies meet an arid countryside dotted with adobe dwellings and the Taos Pueblo village. The Sangre de Cristo Range towers majestically above the desert floor. And the Rio Grande's whitewater cuts a deep gorge in red sandstone below. Is it any wonder Georgia O'Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, and countless others have been inspired here?

Do: Find kitschy kachina dolls, baskets, pottery, and other treasures at Robert Cafazzo's Two Graces Gallery, Curios and Bookstore in Ranchos de Taos. Sip a local specialty—the Buddha Margarita—during Taos Inn's Adobe Bar happy hour from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For dinner, don't miss El Meze, a restaurant that puts a Spanish/Moorish twist on traditional local cuisine.

Gyalthang, Yunnan Province, China

Set among Himalayan snowcaps, this ancient rural town near the Tibetan border is a hidden highland utopia. Here in Gyalthang (Jiantang Town), renamed after the fictional land of Shangri-La in 2001, locals live simple, long lives far from the influence of the outside world. Shaggy yaks drag plows through rich soil, and the sound of chanting floats out of Tibetan monasteries. Just outside town, pastures open up to alpine lakes, gorges, and swift rivers fed by mountain snow.

Do: Shop for colorful scarves, blankets, and local handicrafts in Old Town, or stop at Bhuskar's Kitchen for authentic Tibetan and Indian/Nepalese food. View seekers can climb the local Shika Mountain or take a cable-car ride to the top. Songtsam Retreat leads excursions to Pudacuo National Park, home to 100 endangered species.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Gold seekers founded this Victorian mining town in 1859, and many of the original buildings that housed hotels, dance halls, and saloons still stand. The new occupants—quirky boutiques, restaurants, outfitters, and microbreweries—capture Breckenridge's pioneering spirit and down-to-earth character. It's an unpretentious Rocky Mountain high 90 miles west of Denver.

Do: Meet local sled dogs in their off-season and hop on a dogcart for a backcountry tour. Check out the whimsical, handmade clothing at Magical Scraps. Try Breckenridge Brewery, the Breckenridge Distillery, or the Blue River Bistro for drinks. For dinner, indulge in locally sourced cuisine in a historical Victorian house at Hearthstone Restaurant. Lucha's breakfast burritos are legendary.

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Official end of the NATO operation in Libya

This is the official end of "Operation Unified Protector". Seven months and 26,000 sorties later, the NATO mission ends this Monday, October 31. In a statement, the organization had welcomed last week a success "historic" and called the new plan to "build a new Libya" democratic.

"The board of the North Atlantic [the governing body of the alliance, extended to representatives of five non-member countries - Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Jordan and Sweden - partners in the operation] confirmed the decision a week ago. The operation in Libya ends this Monday, October 31. Our military mission is now complete ", said Thursday the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"We have completely filled the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya, to enforce a flight ban and an arms embargo," he added. The operation "Unified Protector" is "one of the most successful in the history of NATO," welcomed the Secretary-General, while believing that the victory was won by the Libyan people, who "can take her future in his hands firmly and safe, "Rasmussen noted. For the head of NATO, the Libyans, however, "much work to do to build a new Libya based on reconciliation, human rights and the rule of law."

THE FEARS CNT the remnants of Qaddafi

The National Transitional Council (CNT) had asked last week to maintain NATO in Libya at least "until the end of the year", ensuring that even after the death of his last loyal Muammar Gaddafi a threat for the country. These fears were reinforced by reports of South African newspaper Beeld that a group of South African mercenaries was still in Libya and attempted exfiltration Saif Al-Islam, son of Muammar Gaddafi.

News by Lemonde

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The National AIDS Council for a tax on financial transactions


AFP - The National AIDS Council (NSC) considers "appropriate" to implement a tax on financial transactions and to develop other innovative financing to "halt the momentum of the epidemic "of AIDS through expanded access to testing and treatment.

Otherwise, "the fight against HIV / AIDS will be permanently compromised," said the independent advisory body in a notice published on the eve of the G20, which included in its agenda the issue of innovative financing. For the CNS, the proposed tax on financial transactions "is a real opportunity for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities". The Council, chaired by Professor Willy Rosenbaum, said that the UN had promised in 2005, universal access to antiretroviral treatment for late 2010. If they fail to be reached, it undertook in 2011 that 15 million people are on treatment by 2015.

According to the latest figures from UNAIDS, covering the year 2009, more than 33 million people worldwide living with HIV, including nearly 6 million receive treatment. The low-infected do not need it, but 10 million people eligible for treatment do not receive it. However, "the setting for the treatment of infected people can reduce very significantly the risk of HIV transmission," involving "a consequence of lower number of new infections in a relatively short time," recalls the CNS. He noted that after an increase in "unprecedented" in disposable income between 2000 and 2008, the investments made "have been declining since 2009." $ 15.9 billion in 2009, they would have up to 28 to 50 billion dollars a year to achieve the 2015 targets.

In addition to the tax on financial transactions, the NSC emphasizes the need to mobilize official development assistance, lower in France in the ratio of 0.7% GNI by 2015 what it had promised. He also advocated innovative financing diversified, such as taxes and public / private partnerships. The NSC also points out that increased patent protection has limited competition and therefore "the expected fall" the price of treatments. He considers "essential" to repeal the provisions contained in bilateral agreements that limit the exemptions to allow poor countries to benefit from access to medicines. Thus, some proposals in the current negotiations between India and the EU would complicate access to generic medicines for poor countries.

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Occupy Wall Street arrests in Texas, Oregon

wall street
Wall Street
(Reuters) - Dozens of protesters at economic inequality demonstrations in Austin, Texas, and Portland, Oregon were arrested peacefully early on Sunday over allegedly failing to comply with rules in each city.

Both protests were among many held across the country since September by demonstrators who say they are angry over economic inequality and what they see as Wall Street greed.

At Occupy Austin, some 38 people were arrested on Saturday night and early Sunday after refusing to let police take down food tables and clean the City Hall plaza where they had camped for several weeks, police told Reuters on Sunday.

They were charged with criminal trespass and issued citations that mean they can't return to the protest site.

"We've had a very peaceful Occupy Austin, especially compared to the rest of the nation, but we do have rules that have to be enforced," said Austin Police Officer Dennis Farris.

Makeshift encampments sprouting up in cities nationwide have forced local officials to tread carefully between allowing peaceful assembly and addressing concerns about trespassing, noise, sanitation and safety.

In Portland, protesters' attempt to extend their occupation to a third city park in an upscale downtown neighborhood was broken up by police early Sunday morning.

Some 25 protesters were arrested on charges related to rules about use of the park.

"It was peaceful, methodical and business-like," said police spokesman Pete Simpson.

Protesters at the Nashville, Tennessee, Occupy encampment were spared a curfew check on Saturday night after more than 50 arrests last week over curfew violations. They were released after a court official said there were no grounds for charges.

Other weekend protests struggled against the elements.

In New York, a day after authorities confiscated their generators, hundreds of protesters struggled to stay warm and dry Saturday after more than an inch of snow fell in the city.

In Washington, demonstrators marched in sleet to the Treasury to urge higher taxes on the financial sector, beating a drum and chanting "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!"

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Why education is necessary


 When I started thinking about why education is so important, I remembered my school years, the grounding years of anyone’s education. I went down memory lane to remember all my teachers, my school subjects, the study and the play! I never really hated school. But I have seen many who hate going to school; I have had some friends who did not like the idea of studying in classrooms. Many of you must have unwillingly entered your school gates.... But all of us know this dislike never lasts long. We soon start loving school and it is when it is time to leave school that we are in tears.... What is school life all about? It is all about laying the foundation of our education. It is a place to understand why education is so important and how important it is! It is an institution, where we learn to read and write. School transforms kids into literate individuals. It is where we get our basics cleared and at the point of leaving school, we are all set to soar high in life, enter the new world in pursuit of our dreams.

Why is education so important?
The first thing that strikes me about education is knowledge gain. Education gives us the knowledge of the world around us. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life. It helps us build opinions and have points of view on everything in life. People debate over the subject of whether education is the only thing that gives knowledge. Some say, education is the process of gaining information about the surrounding world while knowledge is something very different. They are partly right. But the conversion of information to knowledge is possible because of education. Education makes us capable of interpreting rightly the things perceived. Education is not about lessons and poems in textbooks. It is about the lessons of life.

The words 'cultivate' and 'civilize' are almost synonymous to the word 'educate'. That says it! Education is important as it teaches us the right behavior, the good manners thus making us civilized. It teaches us how to lead our lives. Education is the basis of culture and civilization. It is instrumental in the development of our values and virtues. Education cultivates us into mature individuals, individuals capable of planning for our futures and taking the right decisions. Education arms us with an insight to look at our lives and learn from every experience. The future of a nation is safe in the hands of educated individuals. Education is important for the economic growth of a nation. It fosters principles of equality and socialism. Education forms a support system for talents to excel in life. It is the backbone of society.

Education is important because it equips us with all that is needed to make our dreams come true. Education opens doors of brilliant career opportunities. It fetches better prospects in career and growth. Every employer of today requires his prospective employees to be well educated. He requires expertise. So, education becomes an eligibility criterion for employment into any sector of the industry. We are rewarded for exercising the expertise required for the field we venture. We are weighed in the market on the basis of our educational skills and how well we can apply them.

Education is essential as it paves the path leading to disillusionment. It wipes out all the wrong beliefs in our minds. It helps create a clear picture of everything around us and we no more remain in confusion about the things we learn. Education brings up questions and also devises ways to find satisfactory answers to them. Education is about knowing that everything has a science to it, it is about learning to reason everything till every question meets its answer. Education can lead us to enlightenment. It is education that builds in every individual, a confidence to take decisions, to face life and to accept successes and failures. It instills a sense of pride about the knowledge one has and prepares him/her for life!

Schools and colleges define the basic framework of education. Schooling gives us the fundamentals whereas we specialize in fields of our interest, during the degree courses. But education does not end here. It is a lifelong process. Self-learning begins at the point that marks the end of institutional education. The process of self-learning continues..


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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The 20 Best Views in the World

beautiful scenery
Beautiful Scenery

Fortunately for us, a great view can happen at any place and at any moment: a sunset over an empty field, an unexpected panorama from the top of an office building, the morning sun on a crowded street. There are some classic views, however, that are certainly worth a trip. As a travel writer, I am lucky to behold a number of spectacular sights, but the following ones I'll remember for a very long time.

1. The Grand Canyon from the South Rim
People come from all over the world to take in this vista, which at sunset resembles an impressionistic painting brought to life. Hopi Point, on the West Rim Drive, extends far out into the canyon and is an excellent vantage point among many. Try to visit during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October, when the weather is milder and the park is less crowded.

2. Hong Kong Island from Kowloon
Hong Kong Island is clustered with dizzying neon-lit skyscrapers, and the view from the Kowloon Peninsula across Victoria Harbour is straight out of a science-fiction film. This dense urban scene is especially impressive every evening at 8, when it promptly erupts into a laser light show!

3. Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
This remarkable bay between the island of Phuket and the Thai mainland is dotted with hundreds of tall limestone formations that rise hundreds of feet from the sea. Ten thousand years ago, you could walk among these towers; now only their tops are visible, like the skyline of a sunken city.

4. Manhattan from the top of Rockefeller Plaza
The Empire State Building has some very serious competition when it comes to sweeping views of Manhattan. I now prefer the relatively new Top of the Rock Observation Deck in Rockefeller Center, mostly for its incredible panorama of Central Park to the north. Look hard and you can spot Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

5. Istanbul skyline from the Bosphorus strait, Turkey
The Bosphorus strait, which runs squarely through the middle of Istanbul, famously divides Europe and Asia. Both sides of the city slope down to the water like an urban valley. The view from Galata Bridge includes several of the city incredible mosques, whose graceful domes and towering minarets are the stuff of fairytales.

6. The Ngorongoro Crater from North Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world largest calderas, which are formed when volcanoes explode and collapse upon themselves. The result is an elevated plateau perfectly ringed with tall mountains. From this hotel, the caldera spreads out below like a vast natural basin, and to know that it�s teeming with elephants, lions and wildebeest is especially exciting.

7. St. Paul from Waterloo Bridge, London
Waterloo Bridge, which has been around in various guises since the early 19th century and has inspired all manner of songs and poems, is cannily situated on a bend of the Thames that affords one of the best views in London. Looking east toward the city, St. Paul Cathedral (the dome of which recalls the U.S. Capitol) sits like a graceful dowager queen in the midst of cranes and skyscrapers.

8. The Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands
Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is vastly overrated; it incredibly windy, and rushing traffic is just steps away. You are much better off heading up to the Marin Headlands (particularly Hawk Hill) and taking in the view from a calm park bench, with the Bay, the bridge, the city and the blue Pacific spread out far below.

9. Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched on a mountain ridge high above the Urumba Valley in central Peru, this remarkable Incan city is surrounded on three sides by steep valleys, giving visitors the distinct impression that they are hovering in air. The fact that the ruins are frequently draped in a light cloud layer only adds to the thrilling vertigo of the place.

10. The Yucatan Peninsula from the top of Chichen Itza, Mexico
It 365 steps to the top of El Castillo, the main temple of this sprawling Mayan city, but the view from the top is well worth it. The soft green expanse of Yucatan jungle stretching out in every direction is truly mesmerizing. And with a good pair of binoculars, you can spot distant ruins rising up from the canopy.

11. Florence from the loggia of Villa San Michele, Italy
The town of Fiesole, perched on a hillside northeast of Florence, was where wealthy Florentines chose to escape the heat and humidity of the Arno River Valley in the gardens of their lavish villas. The Villa San Michele was constructed in the 15th century and is now a famous hotel. A loggia (open-sided gallery) runs along one side of the building, from which you can look out across the entire city of Florence, an expanse of terra-cotta roofs dominated by the great dome of its 14th-century cathedral. The view, which has changed little in 500 years, offers a kind of time travel back to the world of the High Renaissance.

12. Paris from the Pont des Arts, France
A pedestrian bridge across the Seine, the Pont des Arts is at the epicenter of Paris. On the right bank is the Cour Carr of the Louvre; on the left, the Institut de France; directly upstream is the far of Notre Dame Cathedral. Standing on the bridge, the great art historian Kenneth Clark famously remarked: What is civilization? I do not know. But I think I can recognize it when I see it: and I am looking at it now."

13. The medina of Fes from the Palais Jamai, Morocco
The ancient walled city of Fes is dramatically sited in a bowl of hills. From the Palais Jamai (now a hotel) you gaze down on the white and beige roofs of the medieval medina, a vast warren of alleys and courtyards in which it is all too easy to become hopelessly lost. At is center are the green-tiled roofs of the University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859 and the oldest university in the world.

14. Annapurna from Sarankot, Nepal
The Himalayas are unlike any other mountains on earth: They are simply much bigger and grander. Arguments rage about which is the most unforgettable view: The Kangshung Face of Everest in Tibet; K2 from the snout of the Baltoro Glacier; Kanchenjunga across the tea terraces of Darjeeling. The list is endless. The first time I saw the Himalayas in all their incomparable splendor was from the village of Sarankot, 5,000 feet up in the foothills of Nepal. It is a famous panoramic view of immense peaks, dominated by the 26,000-foot Annapurna massif. And to this day, it remains my most indelible memory.

15. Sydney Harbour from Taronga Zoo, Australia
Which is the most spectacular harbor in the world: Rio, Hong Kong or Sydney? It si hard to say, but on a sunny day, the view from Taronga Zoo across a yacht-strewn expanse of blue water to the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the towers of downtown Sydney certainly takes the cake.

16. The Potala Palace from across the Lhasa River, Tibet
Throughout the 19th century, Lhasa was the most mysterious city in the world, a magnet for intrepid European travelers. Today, it is a Chinese regional capital, increasingly swamped by shoddy and depressing concrete buildings. At its heart, however, the magnificent Potala Palace, the winter residence of Tibet Dalai Lamas, is still as extraordinary as ever. Its 13 stories are terraced 400 feet up the side of Marpo Ria, contain more than 1,000 rooms and have walls 16 feet thick. There are few more remarkable and impressive structures on earth.

17. The Parthenon from Mount Lycabettus, Athens, Greece
Athens is not a particularly beautiful city, but every time you turn a corner and catch a glimpse of the Parthenon, high on the Acropolis, your spirits are instantly lifted. The most stirring view is not from down in the city itself, however, but from the top of 900-foot Mount Lycabettus, one of the isolated limestone peaks that rise from the Plain of Attica. It is possible to walk to the summit through pine trees from Kolonaki, Athens chicest residential district.

18. The Lemaire Channel, Antarctica
Nicknamed Kodak Gap, of the Lemaire Channel extends for seven miles between the Antarctic Peninsula and Booth Island. Snowcapped 3,000-foot peaks rise almost vertically from a sea littered with ice floes. For some reason, the water usually has a mirror-like surface, and the reflections, especially in December and January at the time of the midnight sun, are almost psychedelic.

19. The City Palace from the Lake Palace, Udaipur, India
The Lake Palace, apparently afloat in the middle of Lake Pichola, is an image familiar from innumerable photography books and India Tourist Board posters. But the view the other way, from the Lake Palace to the city of Udaipur, is equally, if not more, extraordinary. The colossal City Palace, a mass of golden stone rising from the sapphire waters of the lake, was a scene beloved by 18th- and 19th-century European watercolorists.

20. The temples of Bagan, Myanmar
Dotted across a plain beside the Irrawaddy River in central Myanmar, the ruins of Bagan cover 16 square miles. Dozens of immense stupas and temples rise from the red, dusty soil, all that remains of a major city sacked by the Mongol Kublai Khan. The scene at sunrise is unforgettably romantic.

By Andrew Harper

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At least three deaths as snowstorm hits Northeast

snow storms in newyork
Snow Storm in Newyork

 (Reuters) - A rare October snowstorm barreled up the East Coast on Saturday, cutting power to more than two million households, forcing cancellation of scores of airline flights and causing at least three deaths.

Slippery conditions on a roadway caused the crash and death of a man driving in Colchester, Connecticut, said Scott Devico, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management.

In Temple, Pennsylvania, an 84-year-old man was killed when a snow-caked tree fell through his home, said a Muhlenberg Township Police Department dispatcher.

And a 20-year-old man was electrocuted in Springfield, Massachusetts when he stepped out of his vehicle and touched an electrified guard rail, a Springfield police spokesman said.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts declared weather emergencies because of the storm.

"We are expecting the snow to continue to fall from New York City through Maine. By tomorrow morning it should be pretty much wrapped up across most areas," said senior meteorologist Alan Reppert.

Snow was falling across most of Pennsylvania well into Massachusetts after blanketing parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland earlier in the day, Reppert said.

The unseasonably early storm broke a snow record that had stood since 1925 for New York's Central Park, said. New York City was expected to end up with three to six inches of snow from the storm.

"Are we allowed to curse?" said Philadelphia area resident Marjory Levitt. She had discovered that an expensive pair of boots were not waterproof when she ventured out to the supermarket.

Widespread power outages caused by snow, ice and falling trees were reported from the Mid-Atlantic into New England, leaving some two million customers in the dark.

Major delays were reported at Philadelphia International Airport and at New York area airports. At least 1,000 flights had been canceled and Teterboro Airport in New Jersey closed for a period of time, according to flight tracking service

In Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy ordered non-emergency vehicles off the Wilbur Cross and Merritt Parkways due to dangerous driving conditions.

The snow posed traffic and parking problems for some 100,000 college football fans attending a game between Penn State and the University of Illinois in State College, Pennsylvania. Snow plows had to clear the field before the game.

In New York City, several hundred people camped in a park in the city's financial district to protest against economic inequality hunkered down in their tents from the wind, rain, sleet and snow.

They desperately tried to stay warm just a day after the fire department, citing safety hazards, confiscated generators that had been powering heat, computers and a kitchen.

For some, the big flakes and accumulation caused excitement, instead of headaches.

"There's almost like an electric buzz when the first snow falls," said Anna Weltz, communication director for Seven Springs Mountain Resort, located about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

By early afternoon, six inches of snow was already on the ground at the family ski resort, where phones were ringing off the hook with people asking about opening day.

"And it's still coming down," said Weltz. "What a sight."

The storm caused massive power outages including 606,388 customers reported by Connecticut Light and Power; 214,000 by PPL Electric Utilities in Pennsylvania; 341,000 without power from PSE&G in New Jersey; more than 300,000 by First Energy in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; more than 77,000 by Con Edison in New York and more than 66,000 by Allegheny Power in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Another 205,890 customers of National Grid in Massachusetts and New York were without power and 17,467 customers reported by The United Illuminating Company in Connecticut.

"It's a strong storm for October," said senior meteorologist Paul Walker. "We don't usually see storms this deep and this strong."

While October snow is not unprecedented, this storm could be record-setting in terms of snow totals.

Cities along the East Coast including Boston and New York City, typically see their first measurable snowfalls late November into mid-December, according to The Weather Channel.

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The wax effigy of Kareena at the Madame Tussauds museum

wax of karina
Wax effigy of Kareena

 The wax effigy of Kareena has been unveiled at the Madame Tussauds museum in Blackpool, Britain. "It is an honor and a privilege for me to have my own wax figure at Madame Tussauds Blackpool and even more so to launch a global Bollywood exhibition. This is a moment of pride for the Indian cinema," Kareena said.

It took almost four months to create the wax statue, which is said to have cost £150,000.

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Euro-2012: Lviv opens a new stage topless protest

hot pics
Topless Protest

AFP - The Ukrainian city of Lviv (West) opened Saturday a stage of more than 32,000 seats to host matches of Euro 2012 co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine, a ceremony marred by the arrest of two activists topless. Two activists of the Ukrainian movement FEMEN, used brilliant shots, protested topless with an inscription "F. .. Euro" on their bodies at the entrance to the VIP box, chanting "Ukraine will lose". They were quickly arrested, said a journalist from AFP.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych considered pro-Russian and unpopular in Western nationalist visited the stadium the day before but decided not to attend the ceremony where the organizers have waited until the last minute. Video broadcast address after the dance of children in costumes was was booed by the audience. The cost of this stadium built since 2008 with an area of ​​243,226 m2 and will host three matches of the Euro-2012 is 2.2 billion hryvnias (201 million). Some 2,000 spectators attended the opening ceremony that Anastacia sang the American and Ukrainian Ruslana who won the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with the song "Wild Dance" (Dance wild).

UEFA has long expressed concern about the slow pace of preparations in Ukraine. During his last visit to Ukraine in late September, the UEFA President Michel Platini has said, however, "completely reassured," noting "small problems" to solve, especially with regard to infrastructure development necessary for the Euro to be held from 8 June to 1 July 2012.

Former Brazilian President Lula with cancer of the larynx

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is a cancer of the larynx, said Saturday, Oct. 29 in a statement the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital in Sao Paulo where he was admitted. The former president aged 66, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2010, will undergo chemotherapy, the hospital said. "The patient is doing well and should follow the treatment as outpatients," says the same source. Lula, a former mechanic, left the presidency last year after being considered one of the most popular presidents of Brazil. During his tenure, he implemented social programs that have allowed 29 million Brazilians out of poverty and placed his country in the center of the international diplomatic scene.

Syro-Lebanese Hospital specializes in the treatment against cancer, and had treated José Alencar, Vice President Lula, who died last March in a generalized cancer in the abdominal area, he had developed since 1997. In 2009, Dilma Rousseff, who took over from Lula, had been treated for cancer of the lymphatic system, following which the doctors have declared completely healed.

News by Lemonde

Friday, October 28, 2011

The mystery of 53 dead in Sirte Mahari Hotel casts a new shadow on the CNT

Mystery of 53 dead in Sirte Mahari Hotel
Mystery of 53 dead in Sirte Mahari Hotel
Sirte (Libya) Special Envoy - What happened in the days before the fall of Sirte and the death of Colonel Qaddafi, Thursday, October 20th at the Hotel Mahari? When he returned home, the morning of Saturday, October 22, Faraj Mohammed, near the luxury hotel, found 53 bodies lying on the grass: all men, all shot dead. They were lying on the lawn that slopes gently toward the sea still dark spots indicate the locations where the bodies were. Half of the bodies had their hands tied behind his back and wore casts and bandages, indicating their status as prisoners or wounded. All appear to have been summarily executed judging wounds to the head or the neck. Who are they? Faraj Mohammed claims to have found four people, the people of Sirte, which Ezzeddine Al-Hencheri, former Minister of Gaddafi and Moftah Dabroun, an officer.

It is impossible to know with certainty the date of death without an autopsy in good standing. It dates back between 14 and 19 October, according to Peter Bouckaert, emergencies chief of the division to the NGO human rights Human Rights Watch. Mahari Hotel is located near the Quarter Number 2, where Colonel Gaddafi and the last four of his supporters were entrenched, resisting fiercely, almost all civilians who then fled the city. The rest is history. Gaddafi tried to flee on Thursday morning October 20, aboard a convoy halted by NATO. Captured by the revolutionaries, he died while being transported by ambulance to Misrata, the result of his injuries, provides the National Transitional Council (CNT), a summary execution, accusing his family. Moatassim his son, who was arrested the same day, was seen on an amateur video talking calmly with the rebels who held.

The Mahari, transformed into a place of detention by the forces of anti-Gaddafi, he witnessed a mass execution of prisoners pro-Qaddafi. The establishment was controlled by Misrata forces since the end of the first week of October, between 7 and 10. Several groups of thowar the revolutionary fighters, had made their base, as evidenced by the walls of the hotel covered with graffiti of different brigades Misrata. The Al-Nimr katiba (the tiger in Arabic) is the present, it is one of the most powerful of Misrata, which has 230. There were also present katibas Al-Fahad (the jaguar), Al-Assad (lion) and Al Qasba (the citadel).

Misrata fighters, drunk with anger at the atrocities committed during the five months of siege and shelling of their city, they would have wanted revenge. The commander of the Al-Nimr katiba denies any involvement. "The hotel has never been a place of detention. On the morning of October 20, we were attacked by Gaddafi and his forces. We had to leave the place. When we came back the next day the bodies were there." To him, they were probably killed by Gaddafi "which would prevent them from speaking." An explanation unconvincing, since the Libyan seemed especially concerned about his flight that morning. The head of the military council of Misrata, Ramadan Zarmouh, for his part said that Sirte is full of graves of revolutionary arrested or disappeared for months and calls into question the identity of victims of the hotel Mahari. "They are prisoners removed by Gaddafi before their departure," he says.

Detail worse, the staff of the hospital Ibn Sina Sirte ensures that a week before the fall of the city, the revolutionaries entered the school, locked in a room physicians, and toured the rooms to retrieve injuries alleged to have participated in the fighting to take them to an unknown destination. For fear of reprisals, no one is willing to testify openly or give a figure, even the Ukrainian pediatrician remained throughout the siege. Upstairs, the wounded also show evasive, some even refusing to disclose the nature of their injuries for fear of being identified as combatants. If this massacre is found, it will not be the first attributed to the rebels. The Gaddafi regime, he, has been used to a much more systematic and significant. Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch, the murders of the Mahari Hotel "require the immediate attention of the Libyan authorities," who must conduct a survey.

News by Lemonde

Google upgrades its Google TV

google tv
Google tv
AFP - Google Internet group said Friday the new generation of its television system connected to the Internet, Google TV, which led to various problems postpone the originally scheduled launch in Europe this year. The second generation of software for Google TV offers simplified controls, better integration with the YouTube video site and an option to add external applications. "This is another step on a road that will be long," said an official from Google TV, Chris Dale. "We are committed to the product and we improve."

Google is one of the companies that have bet the future, we watch movies and videos mainly via Internet connections. A year ago, the group launched its Google TV, loaded on Sony TVs and accessories Logitech: This is a system that works with Android's browser Chrome, with easy access to the Internet on their television, for example, to download movies, free or paid. However, Sony and Logitech had to cut prices in the face of disappointing sales, and delay the launch outside the United States. The system was considered too complex to appeal to the general public, which led Google to provide an update of the system supposed to make it more intuitive.

The devices will be equipped with Sony next week, those of Logitech "shortly after," said Google. Google told AFP that other electronics manufacturers were interested in integrating their system. Click here to find out more!

Obama urges Europeans to erect a "firewall" to contain the crisis

barack obama
Barack Obama
AFP - U.S. President Barack Obama urges Europeans to implement their plan against the crisis of debt and to erect a "firewall" to prevent its contagion, in an article published in the Financial Times on Friday. "It is important to us all that this strategy is implemented successfully - including building a firewall that prevents credible crisis expanding, strengthening of European banks, the outline of a viable path for Greece and the resolution of structural problems in the heart of the current crisis, "Obama wrote in the British financial daily. The euro area has come to buckle pain Thursday morning at an anti-crisis plan intended to ensure its survival.
An agreement was reached with the banks covering a waiver of 50% of their claims, or 100 billion euros. In return for the effort required for the banking sector, an agreement was reached to recapitalize institutions in need.

In addition, European leaders have decided to leverage the power of their fire relief fund for countries in financial difficulty in bringing it to 1,000 billion euros in the first place. This envelope should prevent the debt crisis earns Italy and Spain. China is considering investing in this fund, although it warned earlier Friday she was waiting for clarification. Without explicitly naming the country, Obama is claiming in the forum "greater flexibility in exchange rates, including exchange rates that are based on the market." The United States regularly accuse China of manipulating its currency to boost exports.

Bad weather in Italy: Declared the state of emergency

storm in italy
Storm in Italy
AFP - The death toll from the storms on Tuesday and Wednesday from Liguria (north) and north of Tuscany rose to seven dead Friday morning after the discovery of the body of a Romanian, while the Council of Ministers declared the state of emergency for devastated areas. Firefighters extracted the body Borghetto Vara, the town most affected Ligurian, after two days of research: the victim was invited to a friend, also died. Seven others are still missing. In the night, the A12 Genoa-Livorno was reopened to traffic in both directions after four days of traffic disruption due to a landslide that had blocked a tunnel.

An extraordinary cabinet meeting, convened Friday in Rome, proclaimed a state of emergency in areas hit by heavy rains that caused mudslides and devastated several towns. The proclamation of emergency rule avoids some red tape and accelerate the release of funds to help the affected populations. The Council of Ministers has also immediately released 65 million euros of aid. Many of them are still without electricity, gas and running water. People who have stayed in their homes are without heating and number of inhabitants had to be temporarily housed in hotels in the region. Furthermore Borghetto Vara, Aulla, in northern Tuscany, was particularly affected, and authorities evacuated 250 people from the historic center of Mulazzo, about ten km, due to fears of a landslide.

In the department of La Spezia (Liguria), where the tourist resorts of Cinque Terre, the towns of Monterosso and Vernazza are still isolated. According to the meteorological services, from 200 to 500 millimeters of rain fell in a few hours, causing overflowing rivers and streams, destroying many bridges and causing landslides and mudslides in several villages. Click here to find out more!

Renault wins an order for 15,600 electric vehicles

AFP - Renault won Friday most of the mega-French control of electric vehicles, with 15,600 trucks, far ahead of PSA Peugeot Citroën as part of the purchase made by the State, private companies and local authorities. The diamond brand will deliver 15,637 Kangoo ZE over a period of four years, while PSA was awarded a second batch of 3,074 copies for its small car Peugeot Ion, according to a joint statement from the Ministries of Ecology, Economy and Finance and Industry. This announcement is timely for Renault, which has relied heavily on the electric Kangoo ZE whose first arrived that day in the concessions.

The bulk order launched in 2009 provided for a third batch of four to five urban places, which has not yet been assigned. It "helped to organize and unite the needs of public enterprises, 18 enterprises of different status (ADP, Air France, Areva, Bouygues, EDF, ERDF, Eiffage, France Telecom Orange, GDF Suez, Suez Environment, GRT Gaz , GrDF, RATP, SAUR, SNCF, SPIE, Vinci and Veolia), local and state, "said the ministries in their statement. The French government shows its commitment to its automotive industry one of the pioneer vehicles' carbon-free ".

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"The blond angel of death", Alfredo Astiz, sentenced to life imprisonment

alfredo astiz
Alfredo Astiz
REUTERS - Alfredo Astiz, known as the "Blond Angel of Death", and 11 others were sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment in Argentina at the end of a trial-river on the crimes of the dictatorship in the 1970s. Alfredo Astiz and other members of death squads were tried for crimes committed at the Graduate School of Mechanical Argentine Navy (ESMA), where some 5,000 dissidents were imprisoned and tortured under the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. Few prisoners were released alive. After this trial of 22 months, during which 79 survivors testified, 12 defendants have been jailed for life while four others were sentenced to terms ranging from 18 to 25 years in prison.

Among those sentenced to life imprisonment figure including Jorge Acosta, nicknamed "the Tiger", who said during the trial that "violations of human rights are inevitable in war." Despite the cold night, hundreds of people gathered outside the court in Buenos Aires, himself crowded to hear the trial. Some brandished portraits of the victims. The crowd applauded the verdict of each statement. "We can finally live in peace, knowing that justice has been done," said a woman at an Argentine television network. The insults have rockets against Alfredo Astiz when his sentence was announced. Once all the judgments, the crowd began to dance, some crying, some kissing.

Former naval officer Alfredo Astiz had boasted of his crimes in an interview in 1998 in a magazine. He was then presented as "the best trained man in Argentina to kill journalists and politicians". "I regret nothing", he had also said.

Infiltration During the dictatorship, he infiltrated the organizations defending human rights which the members were then removed. He was sentenced in absentia in France for the kidnapping of two French nuns imprisoned in the ESMA, the most famous of the secret prisons of the military dictatorship. It is estimated that only 200 people survived the prisons located in this military school. Most of the 5,000 other prisoners were drugged, put in planes and dumped at sea.

While the prisoners were held for hours, some for years, under the eaves of the residence the officers of the ESMA, the latter continued to live a normal life in the lower floors.

Organizations defending human rights to 30,000 deaths estimate the number of victims of six years of dictatorship in Argentina. After the fall of the military regime of former junta members were convicted before being granted amnesty. Alfredo Astiz himself has tried to resume a normal life. He has been photographed in nightclubs or its resorts. Become a symbol of the crimes of the dictatorship, however, he was assaulted several times in public.

In 2005, the Supreme Court of Argentina has returned to the amnesty laws at the request of then President Nestor Kirchner, Cristina Fernandez, whose widow has just been re-elected to head the country. Since then, the Argentine courts sentenced several former officers for violations of human rights. Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez met as students in the 1970s. Many of their friends were abducted and murdered at this time because of their political activities.

Masters Women's Tennis: Azarenka and Kvitova qualified for the semi-finals

victoria azarenka
Vitoria Azarenka
AFP - The Belarussian Victoria Azarenka and Czech Petra Kvitova are the first qualified for the semifinals of the Masters women, after their victories respectively on China's Li Na and World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki on Thursday in Istanbul. Azarenka (world No.4) has imposed the same score as yesterday against the Australian Samantha Stosur, 6-2, 6-2. The Belarus took revenge against Li Na (N.5), who had beaten this year in two Grand Slams, the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

The Chinese suffered from a too many unforced errors (39 to 17 against his opponent) to hope worry his opponent. The winner of Roland Garros has not given up hope of qualifying as one of the white group tickets will be played Friday between it and Stosur (N7). In the red group, Kvitova (N.3), winning at Wimbledon this year, dominated a very pale Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2. Little verve on his first ball (only 54 winning %), Denmark's never seemed able to disturb his opponent. Wozniacki, who has not won major titles on the WTA Tour, is now dependent on the outcome of the meeting between Russian Vera Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska, following Thursday to advance to the semis. Only a victory of the Polish would allow him to retain some hope.

The Burmese python, perhaps the key to healthy human heart

Burmese Python
AFP - The Burmese python, one of the largest snakes in the world, could hold the key to new treatments to prevent or combat human heart disease, U.S. researchers hope that the study was published Thursday. This reptile, which can measure up to nine meters long with a weight of 90 pounds, able to swallow a deer or an alligator, secretes fatty acids whose properties seem to work wonders on the heart, the work on show These pythons and mice by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder (west). They found that the amounts of triglycerides - the main element forming natural fats and oils - fivefold increase in blood pythons one day after swallowed prey.

Despite the strong increase of fat in the body of snakes, the authors of the study, published in the journal Science dated October 28, found no fatty deposits in their heart. In addition, they measured the increase of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase, well known for its powerful protective effects on cardiac muscle, including humans. After determining the chemical composition of blood plasma (the liquid component of blood) of pythons in full digestion, the researchers injected the liquid or a similar substance reconstituted in pythons that had an empty stomach. After these injections, these snakes have shown a marked increase in the heart and signs of a healthy heart. The researchers repeated the experiment with mice and found the same beneficial effects on the heart of rodents which increased in size.

"We discovered that a certain combination of fatty acids can have beneficial effects on cardiac growth of living organisms," said Cecilia Riquelme, lead author of the study. "Now we try to understand the molecular mechanism behind this process and hope that the results lead to new therapies to better treat human heart disease," she adds. Previous studies have shown that the mass of the heart of Burmese pythons increased by 40% within 24 to 72 hours after a large meal and the activity of their metabolism quadrupled immediately after swallowing their prey. The pythons, which can fast for a year with few adverse effects on their health, their hearts are almost double in size after a meal.

Since this increase in mass of the heart muscle is similar in athletes like cycling champion Lance Armstrong or the swimmer Michael Phelps, explore the heart of pythons could help researchers to improve the heart health of humans, the scientists believe. They note that there are also bad enlarged hearts due to hypertrophy, the leading cause of sudden death in young athletes. If disease can cause thickening of the heart muscle and lower chambers of the heart caused by his work more to pump blood, an expansion resulting from strenuous exercise, however, is a good thing, said Leslie Leinwand, Professor of biology at the University of Colorado who led the work.

"There are many people who are not able to exercise since suffering from heart disease," said the biologist, adding that "it would be" well to develop a treatment capable of inducing growth of cardiac cells "in these patients.

The UN mandate ends the intervention in Libya

libyan victory
Victory, Libya
AFP - The Security Council of the United Nations ended Thursday to warrant the use of force in Libya, seven months after the start of the intervention against the Gaddafi regime, despite calls from the transitional government of Libya for its extension. A Council resolution adopted unanimously, ends the no-fly zone and the authorization of the use of force to protect civilians, as of 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time Jamahiriya) on October 31. For its part, NATO, which had supported the military operations, is scheduled to meet Friday in Brussels to formally declare the end of the air strikes despite calls from the new regime.

The National Transitional Council (CNT) on Wednesday urged the continuation of NATO in Libya at least "until the end of the year", ensuring that even after the death of his last loyal Muammar Gaddafi represented a threat to the country. The resolution of the Security Council reduces the international embargo on arms, so that the CNT can acquire to ensure national security. The CNT declared the "liberation" formal Libya on October 23, three days after the death of Muammar Gaddafi. The green light of the Security Council in February and March for a military exclusion zone and air strikes had divided the fifteen member countries. Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil and India have accused NATO of overstepping the mandate they were given.

The Ambassador of France to the United Nations Gerard Araud expressed "pride" of his country for taking part in the operations. "It was the liberation of Libya with the support of all countries who wanted to be part of this wonderful experience," he told reporters. But the Security Council remained divided until the end. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that the two resolutions had been overridden. He spoke of "number of violations" of the resolutions and said that "lessons must be learned" in the Security Council after the military strikes that lasted seven months and have been instrumental in the fall of Gaddafi. 'Let history judge, "replied Mr. Araud. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice spoke on the same mode. The resolution "concludes that history will judge as a chapter in which the Security Council can be proud," she said.

It welcomed the "prospect of a free and participatory Libya with the participation of all people, regardless of gender and religion." "The end of the no-fly zone and provisions to protect civilians shows that Libya has entered a new era," said British Foreign Minister, William Hague in a statement welcoming the resolution as a "another important step towards a peaceful and democratic future for Libya." In its resolution, the Council reiterates the need for a transition period "oriented commitment to democracy, good governance, the practice of law, national reconciliation and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Libya.”
Without explicit reference to vague terms of the death of Colonel Gaddafi, the Fifteen "urge the Libyan authorities to refrain from reprisals, including arbitrary detention (and) the extra-judicial executions." Click here to find out more!

Saudi: Nayef named Crown Prince a week after the death of his brother

prince nayef bin abdul aziz
Prince Nayef, Saudi Arabia
AFP - The Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, 78, was appointed Thursday by a decree of the royal cabinet of the new crown prince oil rich kingdom, one week after the death of his brother, Prince Sultan. Prince Nayef was also confirmed in his post as interior minister and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, becoming the first in the order of succession in the country. According to the decree issued by state television, the king decided to appoint "Prince Nayef Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior."

Prince Nayef, who was second deputy prime minister, succeeds Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, whose death occurred last Friday in the United States and was buried Tuesday in Riyadh. King Abdullah briefed the "Council of allegiance", a small board of the ruling family of Al Saud, of its decision and asked its members, numbering 35, to "pledge allegiance to Prince Nayef," now heir the throne, it is written in the order.

Minister of Interior for nearly four decades, it has emerged as a bastion of Al-Saud dynasty, overseeing the fight against al Qaeda but also raging against all forms of opposition. The "Council of allegiance" was created as a result of a reform of the system introduced in 2006 in succession to ensure a peaceful transition of power in this ultra-conservative Gulf monarchy, the first world oil power.

The decree did not mention the post of defense minister, left vacant after the death of Crown Prince disappeared. He had held this position since 1962 and oversaw the modernization of the armed forces of the kingdom, very concerned about its stability. An appointment to head the Defense Ministry is awaited with interest by politicians who believe that the eventual choice to this strategic position of a prince of the third generation of Al-Saud would be an indicator of a desire for rejuvenation of direction until captured by the seventies or eighties son of the founder of the kingdom, King Ibn Saud. Thus, King Abdullah, 87, had left a hospital Saturday in Riyadh after back surgery that had been to "correct a stabilizing ligament laxity around the third vertebra," the day of the death of Prince Sultan.

The king had already taken place in November 2010 in New York for a herniated disc, complicated by a hematoma, and then underwent a second operation in early December. The U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, came Thursday in Riyadh at the head of a major civil and military delegation to offer condolences of the United States after the death of Prince Sultan, left in the evening the Saudi capital without meeting with King Abdullah , it was U.S. source said. By entering Tuesday's funeral the Crown Prince, King Abdullah appeared tired: he wore a medical mask and asked sitting on a chair while the prayer for the dead is traditionally stood before the remains of the deceased.

Prince Nayef was quoted by the official SPA news agency, then said he tried in vain to dissuade the king to attend the funeral "out of concern for his health." "But when you know the place occupied by Sultan home, we understand" his insistence to attend, he said.

United States: putting his hand on Ben Laden, Panetta won the 1870 wine

leon panetta
Leon Panetta
AFP - U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta will celebrate the new year by enjoying a bottle of 1870 after winning a bet with a friend who put the challenge to hand over Osama bin Laden, officials said the pentagon.

Ted Balestreri, a restaurateur, had this bet with Mr. Panetta, while he was still director of the CIA, at the last New Year's Eve, they spent together in California. The challenge: a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870. Four months later, the wife of Mr. Panetta, Sylvia, called the long-time friend and said, "Ted, you can fetch the corkscrew," she told Ted Balestreri in a local newspaper in California, the Monterey County Herald. The story was confirmed by unnamed sources at the Pentagon.

The leader of al-Qaeda was killed by an American commando in a house in Abbottabad May 2, north of Islamabad.

China says to launch unmanned space-docking craft

China says to launch unmanned space-docking craft
Launch unmanned space-docking craft

(Reuters) - China said on Wednesday it will launch within weeks its first spacecraft capable of docking with a module it put into orbit last month, in what will mark a crucial test of its growing space program.

The unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, carried by the Long March-2F rocket, will blast off in early November, state media reported, and will later try to dock with the Tiantong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1" space laboratory module China launched in September.

Officials with China's space program have said the docking tests will provide experience for the building of a permanent manned space station around 2020.

It is also the latest in a long string of Chinese space launches that have burnished national pride, as budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U.S. manned space launches.

The official Xinhua news agency did not give a specific date for the launch, but said the craft was being transported to the remote Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

Beijing is still far from catching up with space superpowers. Russia, the United States and other countries jointly operate the International Space Station, a group to which China does not belong.

The United States will not test a new rocket to take people into space until 2017. Russia has said manned missions are no longer a priority for its space program, which has struggled with delays and glitches.

China launched its second moon orbiter last year after it became only the third country to send its astronauts walking in space outside their orbiting craft in 2008.

It plans an unmanned moon landing and deployment of a moon rover in 2012, and the retrieval of lunar soil and stone samples around 2017. Scientists have talked about the possibility of sending a man to the moon after 2020.

China is also jostling with neighbors Japan and India for a bigger presence in space, but its plans have faced international wariness. Beijing says its aims are peaceful, and that the involvement of its military is natural given the magnitude of the undertaking.

Romney leads in first four nominating states: poll

(Reuters) - Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads his campaign rivals in the four states that kick off the 2012 Republican presidential race, according to CNN/Time/ORC polls released on Wednesday.

Barely more than two months before the first nominating contest, Romney has narrow leads in Iowa and South Carolina and double-digit advantages in New Hampshire and Florida.

Conservative businessman Herman Cain, who surged into the lead in some recent national polls but has faced heightened scrutiny in the past week, is in second place in each state.

A Romney sweep of the first four states to cast votes in the nominating race would put an early end to the battle to find a challenger to President Barack Obama in 2012.

But the polls also found there was plenty of room for more changes in the frequently shifting Republican race. Majorities in Iowa and South Carolina said they might change their minds about their votes, and about half in Florida and New Hampshire said the same.

The polls found Romney with a slight edge in Iowa of 3 percentage points, 24 percent to 21 percent, over Cain. His lead was even smaller, 25 percent to 23 percent, in South Carolina. Both leads were within the polls' margin of error of 5 percentage points.

Iowa and South Carolina have big blocs of conservative voters distrustful of Romney, who as governor of liberal Massachusetts supported abortion rights and a healthcare overhaul that was a precursor of Obama's federal law.

Romney has a big 27-point lead over Cain in New Hampshire, which borders Massachusetts and where Romney has a vacation home. He also has a comfortable 12-point lead, 30 percent to 18 percent, over Cain in Florida.

The polls were taken Thursday through Tuesday, following the most recent Republican debate last week.

Libertarian U.S. Representative Ron Paul was in third place in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire. In Florida, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry were tied for third place.

Iowa kicks off the nominating race on January 3, followed by New Hampshire, which is expected to hold its primary on January 10, South Carolina on January 21 and Florida on January 31.

Romney's support was relatively broad across various political and demographic groups. He led easily among self-styled moderate or liberal Republicans, but also led among Tea Party fiscal conservatives in New Hampshire. He tied Cain among that group in Florida and was second behind Cain with Tea Party voters in Iowa and South Carolina.

Sony buys Ericsson out of mobile phone venture

sony ericsson
Sony Ericsson
(Reuters) - Sony Corp is to take over the Sony Ericsson mobile phone joint venture for 1.05 billion euros ($1.45 billion), as it seeks to catch up with smartphone and tablet makers Apple and Samsung.

The deal to buy out its Swedish partner gives Sony ownership of certain handset patents held by Ericsson and will enable it to integrate the joint venture's output with its own range of products and content.

"Its the beginning of something which I think is quite magical," said Sony's chairman and chief Executive Sir Howard Stringer.

"We can more rapidly and more widely offer consumers smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions that seamlessly connect with one another and open up new worlds of online entertainment."

Until now Sony's tablets, games and other consumer electronics devices have been kept separate from the phones sold and created by Sony Ericsson.

"Sony is looking to do the same as Apple and meet user's demands through linking various devices with similar interfaces and operating systems," said analyst Nobuo Kurahashi of Mizuho Investors' Securities in Tokyo.

"Since television sales are set to fall smartphones look to become more important products for Sony since their sales are rising globally and they will probably become the main device people use to connect to the Internet."

Smartphone sales have been surging since Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007 and despite a slowdown in the overall consumer electronics market the strong demand for smartphones is expected to continue.

The takeover of Sony Ericsson by the Japanese group had long been talked of, and a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters this month that a deal was in the offing.

"Sony now has all the components to compete with Samsung and Apple. The big question now is ... can it execute ?," said Pete Cunningham of industry consultancy Canalys.

"Based on history I am skeptical but I would not say it cannot be done," he added.

Founded in 2001, Sony Ericsson last year took around 2 percent of the global cellphone market with sales of 6.3 billion euros and employs some 7,500 people. Initially it thrived with an array of camera and music phones but then lost out in the smartphone race.

"Sony had to make this deal as it had run out of options, but integration challenges could prove to be a major hurdle," said Ben Wood, head of research at London-based mobile consultancy CCS Insight.

"As a major consumer electronics player lack of mobile assets had become a liability for Sony, particularly when compared with Samsung, whose telecommunication business creates nearly half of its profits," he said.

Ericsson said the deal provides Sony with a broad intellectual property cross-licensing agreement covering all the Japanese company's products and services as well as ownership of "five essential patent families relating to wireless handset technology."

"The only value Ericsson added to the venture was patents," said Cunningham.

However, in comparison Nokia, the world's largest cellphone vendor by volume, controls some 10,000 patent families.

Shares in Ericsson, whose main strength lies in its wireless network equipment business, were up 5 percent at 70 crowns by 1024 GMT.

($1=0.724 euros)

Euroleague Basketball: Nancy already under pressure

AFP - After initial setbacks Cantu (69-80), Nancy no longer has any room for error against Bilbao, received Thursday (20.45) during the second day of the Euroleague Basketball Men -ball. With eight games still to play after this one, it might seem premature to speculate on the future and the champion of France. The Sluc have ample time to recover from the first two defeats. Yes, but here it is: Cantu and Bilbao are a priori the two teams are relegated to the locals as behind to hope to become the first French team since Pau-Orthez in 2007, reaching the Top 16.

Other clubs in Group A, Fenerbahce, Olympiakos Vitoria and seem well above the rest. Although the Greeks have done something wrong last week in ... Bilbao, winning 76-61. The indication that this is not a small team that comes Thursday night in Lorraine, while Bilbao is participating for the first time in the Euroleague. The Basque club last season reached the final of the Spanish Championship, after having eliminated Real Madrid in the semifinals, and had only yielded to the great FC Barcelona, ​​with no demerits. "Bilbao is now even better with the arrival of new players, good players who have experience in the Euroleague. After their victory against Olympiakos, who can doubt of their potential," says coach Nancy Jean Luc Monschau.
While inside the Belgian Axel Hervelle, injured his knee before the Euro in Lithuania, is hardly restored and should leave a few minutes from the bench, the team coached by Greek Fotios Katsirakis has many other advantages . 

Always dangerous offensively, Spanish winger Alex Mumbrú should provide an interesting challenge to Nicolas Batum. Croatian winger Marko Banic, MVP (best player) of the Eurocup in 2009-2010, was the leading scorer (23 points) against Olympiakos. But Nancy shall not overlook another player, who had many hardships to the team of France in the Euro: the leader of Latvia Janis Blum, author of 32 points against the Blues. To beat the Spanish, Nancy must first be more regular than Cantu. In Italy, he managed the first twenty minutes of top flight. But Cantu had then found a way to slow the tempo of the match and were locals as runaway.

"We're a little disappointed because we had the means to beat them at home," observes Adrian Moerman. "But you learn ... There is still a little young in the Euroleague." "It will lose less balls (20 to Cantu, Ed) and play better in the second half," takes the power forward. The private Sluc will always be the young pivot Abdelkader Sylla. Injured left wrist, it is still available for two weeks.