Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two years later, alien-like sea creature gains Internet stardom

giant sea fish
Stunning photo of bizarre sea creature
Among the more bizarre-looking visitors to California waters this summer are Mola molas, or ocean sunfish, which are being seen in unusually high numbers. But it's a stunning photograph of one of these gentle giants that appears to be getting the most attention. The image, captured off San Diego by Daniel Botelho, became an instant hit after being posted last week on his Facebook page.

"It got 1,000 'likes' in 36 hours," said Botelho, an award-winning photojournalist who specializes in underwater photography. Through Monday the number of likes and shares beneath had grown to 1,375 and 1,237, respectively.

There was no back story provided but Botelho, when reached via email, explained that he captured this image in July of 2010, while on a blue whale photography mission. But he somehow placed it in a folder of non-used images and did not discover it until recently, while planning another blue whale odyssey.

The Facebook post was the first time the image had been published. "It is so funny, I wasted that image and after two years I found it, posted it, and it becomes viral," Botelho said.

Though molas are docile and appear sluggish, they're difficult to photograph because they're deceivingly swift and do not generally tolerate divers who try to get close.

"There were more than five in the same spot but once I got in the water, as stealthily as I could, they all went out fast," Botelho explained. "But one specific fish stopped to check what I was, and God knows why the fish decided to follow me. People in the boat said it seemed like a dog following his owner."

The photographer in the image had hoped to photograph Botelho next to the sunfish but instead he became the subject to lend perspective as to how large and moon-like molas can be.

The sunfish can measure 14 feet and weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. They're found in tropical and temperate oceans. With their large bodies, truncated tails, tiny mouths, and huge eyes, they look like something not entirely whole and not of this world.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, in a species description, states: "Ocean sunfish, or molas, look like the invention of a mad scientist."

They feed primarily on jellies but will also eat squid and small fish. Large numbers of jellies and gelatinous creatures called salps this summer may help to explain an increase in sightings made by California boaters.

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100 Taka Prize Bond's 68th Draw Result held on July 31st, 2012 in Bangladesh

100 Taka Prize Bond's 68th Draw Result held on July 31st
Click on image to view in full
The 68th draw result of 100 taka Prize Bond held on Tuesday, July 31st and published by Bangladesh Bank. The number of first prize is 0932557 and its winning money is 6,00000/= taka. The number of second prize is 0209362 and its winning money is 3,25,000/= taka. You can view/download the entire result of 100 Taka Prize Bond's 68th Draw here which is in pdf file format or you can also see the result by clicking the image given above.

Apple claims Samsung copied iPhone technology

Apple iPad and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2011 file photo, an attorney holds an Apple iPad, left, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 at the regional court in Duesseldorf, Germany. The two tech Titans will square off in federal court Monday, July 30, 2012,
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- An attorney for Apple told a jury Tuesday that rival Samsung faced two options to compete in the booming cellphone market after Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to critical acclaim in 2007: Innovate or copy.

Attorney Harold McElhinny claimed Samsung Electronics Inc. chose to copy, making its smartphones and computer tablets illegal knockoffs of Apple's popular products.

Samsung "has copied the entire design and user experience" of Apple's iPhone and iPad," McElhinny told a 10-person jury during his opening remarks at the closely watched patent trial.

Samsung denies the claims and its lawyers were expected to deliver their opening statement later in the day.

Samsung has previously countered that Apple did the stealing. It has also said some of the technology at issue - such as the rounded rectangular designs of smartphones and tablets - has been the industry standard for years.

The witness lists of both sides are long on experts, engineers and designers and short on familiar names. For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook is not scheduled to testify.

Cupertino-based Apple filed its lawsuit against Samsung last year and is demanding $2.5 billion in damages, an award that would dwarf the largest patent-related verdict to date.

The case marks the latest skirmish between the two companies over product designs. A similar trial began last week, and the two companies have been fighting in other courts in the United Kingdom and Germany.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose last month ordered Samsung to pull its Galaxy 10.1 computer tablet from the U.S. market pending the outcome of the patent trial. However, she barred Apple attorneys from telling jurors about the ban.

"In some sense, the big part of the case is not Apple's demands for damages but whether Samsung gets to sell its products," said Mark A. Lemley, a professor and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.

A verdict in Apple's favor could send a message to consumers that Android-based products such as Samsung's are in legal jeopardy, Lemley said.

A verdict in Samsung's favor, especially if it prevails on its demands that Apple pay its asking price for certain transmission technology, could lead to higher-priced Apple products.

In court papers filed last week, each company laid out its legal strategy in trial briefs.

Apple lawyers argue there is almost no difference between Samsung products and its own, and that the South Korean company's internal documents show it copied Apple's iconic designs and its interface.

Samsung denies the allegation and counter-claims that Apple copied its iPhone from Sony. Samsung lawyers noted that it has been developing mobile phones since 1991 and that Apple jumped into the market in 2007.

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Electricity grids fail across half of India

haircut in dark at barber shop in India
An Indian barber holding a candle, has a haircut for a customer at his shop in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
NEW DELHI (AP) -- Electric crematoria were snuffed out with bodies inside, New Delhi's Metro shut down and hundreds of coal miners were trapped underground after three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade Tuesday, cutting power to 620 million people in the world's biggest blackout.

While Indians were furious and embarrassed, many took the crisis in stride, inured by the constant - though far less widespread - outages triggered by the huge electricity deficit stymieing the development of this would-be Asian power.

Hospitals, factories and the airports switched automatically to their diesel generators during the hours-long cut across half of India. Many homes relied on backup systems powered by truck batteries. And hundreds of millions of India's poorest had no electricity to lose.

"The blackout might have been huge, but it wasn't unbearably long," said Satish, the owner of a coffee and juice shop in central Delhi who uses only one name. "It was just as bad as any other five-hour power cut. We just used a generator while the light was out, and it was work as usual."

The crisis was the second record-breaking outage in two days. India's northern grid failed Monday, leaving 370 million people powerless for much of the day, in a collapse blamed on states that drew more than their allotment of power.

At 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, the northern grid collapsed again, energy officials said. This time, it took the eastern grid and the northeastern grid with it. In all, 20 of India's 28 states - with double the population of the United States - were hit in a region stretching from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 3,000 kilometers (1,870 miles) away.

Hundreds of trains stalled across the country and traffic lights went out, causing widespread jams in New Delhi. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked office workers to go home and rushed generators to coal mines to rescue trapped miners.

Sahiba Narang, 17, was taking the Metro home because school bus drivers were on strike, "but this power failure's messed up everything."

S.K. Jain said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed. The 54-year-old held his head, distraught that he would almost certainly miss the deadline. Hours later, the government announced it was giving taxpayers an extra month to file because of the chaos.

By evening, power had been restored to New Delhi and the remote northeast, and much of the northern and eastern grids were back on line. Electricity officials said the system would not be back to 100 percent until Wednesday.

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the new crisis had the same root as Monday's collapse.

"Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut," he said.

But others were skeptical of Shinde's explanation, saying that if overdrawing power from the grid caused this kind of collapse, it would happen all the time.

"I just can't believe that there is no system in place to check whether the states are drawing more than their limit or not," said Samiran Chakraborty, head of research at Standard Chartered, a financial services company. "There has to be a much more technical answer to that question."

At a contentious news conference, R.N. Nayak, chairman of Power Grid Corp., which runs the nation's power system, said his staff was searching for the cause of the problem and pleaded for patience.

"We have been running this grid for decades. ... Please trust us," he said.

The blackouts came amid consumer anger with the recent increase in power fees, including a 26 percent hike in Delhi, that government officials said were needed to pay for the steep rise in fuel costs.

The Confederation of Indian Industry said the two outages cost business hundreds of millions of dollars, though they did not affect the financial center of Mumbai and the global outsourcing powerhouses of Bangalore and Hyderabad in the south. Like many, the group demanded a widespread reform of India's power sector, which has been unable to keep up with the soaring demand for electricity as the economy expanded and Indians grew more affluent and energy hungry.

"India has outgrown its own infrastructure," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, a strategist at SMC Global Securities.

India's Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8 percent in recent months, and many economists said the power deficit is dragging down India's economy.

"Without power we cannot run an economy at 8 percent, 9 percent growth or whatever your ambition is," Chakraborty said.

Part of the problem is that India relies on coal for more than half its power generation and the coal supply is controlled by a near state monopoly that is widely considered a shambles.

A recent survey showed nearly all the coal-fueled plants had less than seven days of coal stock, a critical level, said Chakraborty, and many of the country's power plants were running below capacity. Government bureaucracy has made it difficult to bring more plants online.

In addition, vast amounts of power bleeds out of India's antiquated distribution system or is pirated through unauthorized wiring. Farmers, with a guarantee of free electricity that is driving many state electric boards to bankruptcy, have no incentive to conserve energy.

The power deficit was worsened this year by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation, spurred farmers to use pumps to irrigate their fields long after the rains would normally have come and kept temperatures higher, keeping air conditioners and fans running longer.

The opposition said officials should have located the first fault and fixed it before getting the whole system back on line Monday.

"The power minister owes an answer to the prime minister, owes an answer to the nation why this is happening," Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

Instead, as part of a planned Cabinet shuffle, Shinde was promoted in the middle of the day to the powerful job of home minister, putting him in charge of the nation's internal security even as the power crisis dragged on.

By contrast, the power chief in the state of Uttar Pradesh was summarily fired by his chief minister Monday for his handling of the first power crisis.

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US, Russian women set for gymnastics showdown

 woman gymnastics in olympics
Coach Jenny Zhang consoles U.S. gymnast Jordyn Wieber as she cries after failing to qualify for the women's all-around finals during the Artistic Gymnastics women's qualification at the 2012 Summer Olympics,
LONDON (AP) -- The Americans need Jordyn Wieber to regain her swagger in a hurry if they're going to hold off Russia for Olympic gold.

The two gymnastic powers have been trading places in team competition for two years and will face off again on the biggest stage for an Olympic title Tuesday night.

The Russians won the world championship in 2010, then finished second to the U.S. last year.

Defending world champ Wieber failed to qualify for the all-around competition at the London Olympics, but the U.S. women will be depending on her for a comeback if they're going to win their first team gold medal since the "Magnificent Seven" of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

"We're going to have to cheer her up and hype her up," teammate Gabby Douglas said.

After failing to qualify for the all-around, the 17-year-old Wieber sobbed and was consoled by teammates. She didn't speak to reporters afterward.

Later, she posted on Twitter: "I am so proud of our team today and I can't wait for team finals!!"

O2 Arena has rocked so far, and with host nation Britain in the mix after missing the team final at the 2008 Beijing Games, the scene should be even more festive - especially after the British captured their first Olympic team gymnastics medal in more than 80 years with a bronze in Monday's men's competition.

Now, it's Wieber and Douglas' turn to chase that elusive American team gold and try to accomplish something the Nastia Liukin-Shawn Johnson show of 2008 couldn't in Beijing, where China captured gold on its home turf.

Former world champion Aliya Mustafina and the focused Russians were the only squad to come close to challenging the U.S. team after Sunday's qualifying.

And they're so determined to beat the Americans, Russia's athletes blew through the mixed zone without even speaking to their own reporters. The word is they won't be heard from until the job is done.

In other action Tuesday, Michael Phelps is back for a busy night in the pool as he seeks a third straight gold in the 200-meter butterfly. Then Phelps, Ryan Lochte & Co. will try to bounce back in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay after settling for a surprising silver behind the winning Frenchmen in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay Sunday.

In gymnastics, the U.S. women's team will look to reach the top spot on the podium a day after the American men's team finished a disappointed fifth. The Romanians also are expected to challenge for a medal.

"I think we've definitely set the bar higher," Douglas said. "It's just an amazing feeling to know that Team USA is definitely strong. Even myself, we've come a long way."

While the U.S. dominated team qualifying Sunday with a score of 181.863, the Russians are determined to keep closing the gap with the world watching. Mustafina didn't compete in the 2011 worlds because she injured her left knee at the European Championships that April - and now she's back but still trying to regain top form. Her vault, for example, is a less difficult one than what she performed when she got hurt.

The U.S. gymnasts consider the gold theirs for the taking after all the strides their program has made in recent years.

"I guarantee one thing: The truth is going to come out on the Olympic Games," said the renowned coach Bela Karolyi. "The truth is that we are solidly in the first place on the team, no question about that."

The Americans aren't ready to celebrate anything yet. Everything changed in a matter of minutes Monday night, when Japan jumped from fourth to a silver medal after a protest and bumped the Ukraine right off the podium.

"The Olympics are always a dog fight," USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said. "There is something that always pops up and changes the perceived outcome. Something happens and it changes it."

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Japan pro-bomb voices grow louder amid nuclear debate

nuclear war
FILE - In this Aug. 6, 1945 file photo released by the U.S. Army, a mushroom cloud billows about one hour after a nuclear bomb was detonated above Hiroshima, Japan.
TOKYO (AP) -- A contentious debate over nuclear power in Japan is also bringing another question out of the shadows: Should Japan keep open the possibility of making nuclear weapons - even if only as an option?

It may seem surprising in the only country ever devastated by atomic bombs, particularly as it marks the 67th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki three days later. The Japanese government officially renounces nuclear weapons, and the vast majority of citizens oppose them.

But as Japan weighs whether to phase out nuclear power, some conservatives, including some influential politicians and thinkers, are becoming more vocal about their belief that Japan should have at least the ability to make nuclear weapons.

The two issues are intertwined because nuclear plants can develop the technology and produce the fuel needed for weaponry, as highlighted by concerns that nuclear power programs in Iran and North Korea are masking bomb development.

"Having nuclear plants shows to other nations that Japan can make nuclear weapons," former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, now an opposition lawmaker, told The Associated Press.

Ishiba stressed that Japan isn't about to make nuclear weapons. But, he said, with nearby North Korea suspected of working on them, Japan needs to assert itself and say it can also make them - but is choosing not to.

Such views make opponents of nuclear weapons nervous.

"A group is starting to take a stand to assert the significance of nuclear plants as military technology, a view that had been submerged below the surface until now," says "Fukushima Project," a book by several experts with anti-nuclear leanings.

Adding to their jitters, parliament amended the 1955 Atomic Energy Basic Law in June, adding "national security" to people's health and wealth as reasons for Japan's use of the technology.

"The recognition that both nuclear issues must be addressed is heightening in Japan," said Hitoshi Yoshioka, professor of social and cultural studies at Kyushu University. The link between the two is "becoming increasingly clear."

Yoshioka sits on a government panel investigating the nuclear disaster spawned by the March 11 tsunami last year. The subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have called into question the future of nuclear power in Japan, in turn raising concern among some bomb advocates.

Most proponents don't say, at least not publicly, that Japan should have nuclear weapons. Rather, they argue that just the ability to make them acts as a deterrent and gives Japan more diplomatic clout.

The issue dates back to the 1960s. Historical documents released in the past two years show that the idea of a nuclear-armed Japan was long talked about behind-the-scenes, despite repeated denials by the government.

The papers were obtained by Japanese public broadcaster NHK in 2010 and more recently by The Associated Press under a public records request.

In a once-classified 1966 document, the government outlined how the threat of China going nuclear made it necessary for Japan to consider it too, though it concluded that the U.S. nuclear umbrella made doing so unnecessary at the time.

In meeting minutes from 1964, 1966 and 1967, Japanese officials weigh the pros and cons of signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which would mean foregoing the nuclear option. Japan signed the treaty in 1970.

The government denials continued, even after former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone wrote in his 2004 memoirs that, as defense chief, he had ordered a secret study of Japan's nuclear arms capability in 1970. The study concluded it would take five years to develop nuclear weapons, but Nakasone said he decided they weren't needed, again because of U.S. protection.

In 2010, the Democratic Party of Japan, after breaking the Liberal Democratic Party's half-century grip on power, reversed past denials and acknowledged the discussions had taken place.

Given the secretive past, former diplomat Tetsuya Endo and others are suspicious about the June amendment adding "national security" to the atomic energy law.

Backers of the amendment say it refers to protecting nuclear plants from terrorists. Opponents ask why the words aren't then "nuclear security," instead of "national security."

Japan has 45 tons of separated plutonium, enough for several Nagasaki-type bombs. Its overall plutonium stockpile of more than 150 tons is one of the world's largest, although much smaller than those of the U.S., Russia or Great Britain.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, an outspoken conservative, has repeatedly said Japan should flaunt the bomb option to gain diplomatic clout. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed similar sentiments, although in more subdued terms.

The Yomiuri, the nation's largest newspaper, made a rare mention of the link between nuclear energy and the bomb in an editorial defending nuclear power last year, saying that Japan's plutonium stockpile "works diplomatically as a nuclear deterrent."

That kind of talk worries Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman at the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, a government panel that shapes nuclear policy. Himself an opponent of proliferation, he said that having the bomb is a decades-old ambition for some politicians and bureaucrats.

"If people keep saying (nuclear energy) is for having nuclear weapons capability, that is not good," Suzuki said. "It's not wise. Technically it may be true, but it sends a very bad message to the international community."

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Mystery woman appears in Olympics ceremony 2012

mystery woman appears in olympics ceremony 2012

The Indian delegation marched into the Opening Ceremony just like the other 203 countries at the Summer Olympics. A flag bearer led the procession and was accompanied by a female sign holder and a young child ambassador. Behind them, the nation's athletes marched; India's team wore yellow saris and turbans. Someone else was there too, an unexpected intruder in the procession. She wasn't part of the lead group and wasn't an athlete. She was dressed in a red sweater and teal pants and was waving and cheering like she was supposed to be there. She wasn't.

Who was she? And why was she there?

The identity of the Indian Intruder became a major mystery in the country. "Who's That Girl?" blared the headline on the front page of The Hindustan Times. Another newspaper ran an editorial blaming London security for allowing a security risk to march with the team.

London organizing chairman Sebastian Coe revealed her identity on Sunday. "She was a member of the [Opening Ceremony] cast who got slightly overexcited," he said. "We had suspected she was probably a member of the cast, but she clearly started in that venue and we will be speaking to the Indian delegation about that."

The country's Deccan Chronicle newspaper said she was likely Madhura Nagendra, a graduate student from the southern city of Bangalore who had been living in London. If she thought her stunt would be greeted with a sense of humor, she severely overestimated India's Olympic chief, Muralidharan Raga.

"She had no business to walk in with the Indian contingent and we are taking up the issue with the organizers," he said. "We don't know who she is and why she was allowed to walk in. It is a shame that she was with the athletes in the march past."

All right, all right: Let's not get out of hand here. The woman was trespassing and shouldn't have been allowed on the track to march with athletes who earned their spots in London. "A shame," though? A shame is the fact that India has been competing in the Olympics for 112 years and have only earned four more medals than Michael Phelps. This was a mysterious nuisance. And the case is closed.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Massachusetts dad shoots his 2 kids, 1 fatally, kills self

Massachusetts dad shoots his 2 kids
Daryl Benway of Oxford, Mass., with (clockwise from top left) wife Kelleen, youngest daughter Abigail, son Owen, granddaughter Arianna and daughter Nickole in December of 2011.
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- A man who had recently separated from his wife shot his two children, killing his 7-year-old daughter, before committing suicide, prosecutors said.

A family member called police Saturday night after finding the bodies of 41-year-old Daryl Benway and his daughter, Abigail, in the master bedroom of their two-story Oxford home, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said.

Benway's 9-year-old son, Owen, was found shot in the head in the kitchen and was taken to UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center in serious condition. Owen has been in pediatric intensive care, a spokesman for Early said Sunday. He said he had no additional information about Owen Benway's condition, and a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.

Benway's wife, Kelleen, returned home after the shootings, unaware of what had happened, and found a swarm of police cruisers and television crews, Early said. She was taken to the children's hospital, where authorities told her the fates of her children and husband.

Neighbors told the Telegram & Gazette that Daryl Benway's brother Shawn lived on the first floor of the home with his wife and mother. Shawn Benway called 911 to report the shootings, Early said.

Early said he couldn't speculate on a motive. He said the Benways separated weeks ago but were still married.

No restraining orders had been filed against Daryl Benway, and he had no criminal record, the DA said. He had a gun license that expired in 1999, Early said.

On Daryl Benway's Facebook page, his profile picture posted in December showed him with his family in front of a Christmas tree. He described the woman next to him as "my Beautiful wife Kelleen." Owen stood in front of him in a white dress shirt and red plaid tie, while brown-haired Abigail wore a black and white dress with a black hair bow.

Daryl Benway listed his place of employment as TJX Cos., which operates discount retailers TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, as well as Ross Stores Inc.

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

London Olympics Games 2012 Opening Ceremony mysteries solved

 London Olympics Games 2012 Opening Ceremony
General View as fireworks illuminate the sky during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012 in London, England
The Opening Ceremonies of London's 2012 Olympic Games have come and gone, leaving many mysteries in their wake. Here, we answer some of the top head-scratchers from Danny Boyle's incredibly British event.

Why do the announcers speak French first?

That's because French and English are the two official Olympic languages. Remember, the modern Games were founded by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin.

If not for him, there would be no Olympics. But even if it is a requirement by the IOC that the first language should be French, it does seem to add one more confusing element to the mix.

Did the queen really parachute into the Games?

Well, no. But Her Majesty did show her common touch, participating in her first acting role with no less than Daniel Craig's James Bond as her co-star.

The two met up at her palace residence with her dogs in tow and took off in a helicopter together, headed to the stadium, and then, yes, parachuted down to the event.

And what an entrance, even if it was a stunt double dressed as the queen.

Who was that singer?

In one of the few quieter moments, performers paid a tribute to war dead and the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks. To add to the mood, the soulful singer Emeli Sande sung the somber hymn "Abide With Me."

The singer grabbed attention when she won the 2012 Brit Award in the Critic's Choice category, and whose album "Our Version of Events" reached the No. 1 position on the U.K. charts. She's also a songwriter, and has penned tunes for artists including Susan Boyle, Leona Lewis, Tinie Tempah, Cheryl Cole, Cher Lloyd, and Alesha Dixon, among others, and was dubbed his "favorite songwriter at the minute" by Simon Cowell.

Who were the torch lighters?

The torch was passed, literally, from one generation down to the next. After being handed off from legendary Olympian Steve Redgrave, the seven young athletes received flames from seven Olympic legends and simultaneously lit 200 miniature torches. The flames rose together in the center of Olympic Stadium to form the cauldron made up of the copper kettles carried by each team. As to the choice of the young group, Yahoo! Sports writes, "(Director Danny)Boyle went the egalitarian route, choosing seven teenagers of varying backgrounds to accept the flame from seven legends."

What's with the giant baby head?

The child's head is a tribute to the Great Ormond Street Hospital staff. Viewers were treated to hundreds of hospital beds, complete with dancing nurses and their child patients.

The celebration of the National Health Service, a treasured national institution that started in 1948 amid the ruins of war-devastated Britain included the world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital with the appearance of that giant baby head. Certainly, there was no missing that big baby.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

EYES ON LONDON: Olympics Games 2012 begin

Olympics Games 2012 begin
The Olympic rings light up the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)
LONDON (AP) -- Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:



The march of nations into the stadium right now couldn't fail to move anyone.

Some of the countries are getting bigger cheers than others - anywhere with a name including the word British in it gets a slightly bigger one, of course.

This is something that we have watched on TV as children and adults, but it feels different that it is happening right here, right now and in London. I think it really feels now like the wait is over.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



There has been a change in tone. The lights are up, and as the athletes make their way around the stadium, cameras are flashing on the blue background like twinkling stars.

The only thing that might not be sitting well with the Brits right now is the fact that everything is being said in French first. The French coming first in anything is not good as far as the English are concerned.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



Yes, French is the official Olympic language. And yes, of course it has a place in an Olympic opening ceremony.

Nevertheless, it's still kind of striking - at least, from the perspective of an American and the Brit sitting next to him - to hear the sounds of French ring out in the stadium of a one-time empire that was conquered by the French nearly 1,000 years ago.

(History lesson for context: William the Conqueror, a Norman, invaded England in 1066 and defeated King Harold, infusing many things French into England for hundreds of years to come.)

- Ted Anthony - Twitter



For those wondering, that was "Abide by me" - a Christian hymn that was sung as the Titanic went down, according to survivors. It's also been the prelude to England's soccer FA Cup final for many years.

- Ian Phillips - Twitter



The Olympics used to be able to get away with tape delaying events in far off time zones without anyone knowing what happened until they watched it at home.

Not anymore. Social media has taken that all away, making it harder and harder for people who prefer to watch the event on TV be surprised when they sit down on their couch hours after it actually happened.

After I tweeted a grainy picture of James Bond parachuting in, several of my followers back home in the States complained.

"SPOILERS!" (at)tomdar tweets. "We don't get it here for another three hours."

Sorry dude. This is the world that we live in.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



Crikey, those flames were hot. The party has started. Did anyone ever think that Brits were reserved? We know how to rock and, as Dizzee Rascal is proving, we also know how to rap.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter


HUMO(U)R ...

We are seeing a bit of the British self-deprecating humour here. A montage of things that we love, but also embarrassing things we have done in the past that we love to laugh about.

The famous denial by a BBC weatherman that there will not be a hurricane - that was a big one. And a reference to "The Archers," a quaint radio soap about the British countryside that people love but would never admit to it.

For the record: It is cracking.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



Finally: The Beatles make an appearance in the story of Britain. Which begs the question: What would John Lennon think of all this? Would he love it or skewer it?

He'd probably manage to do both at once.

- Ted Anthony - Twitter



So far a lot of the British cliches have come out, but they have been subtle. The NHS, the worker, the British nanny and Mr. Bean. It is a reflection of all things British but it is also a way of telling the world what we gave them.

Of course, we wouldn't boast. But a little reminder now and again doesn't hurt.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



The queen sure knows how to draw a crowd. As she allegedly parachuted down to Olympic Park, a mad rush of those outside the stadium ensued.

Observers sprinted to the area, hoping to catch a glimpse.

"It's the queen!"

Alas, "she" landed too far away to be seen by most outside the arena.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



In Britain, you'll often hear gripes about waiting lists, wards and distant dates for operations. But don't read too much into that. There's little the country cherishes more than its National Health Service - introduced as a free health care system after World War II. That tribute just now at the opening ceremony will have gone down very well in the UK.

- Ian Phillips - Twitter -



Rarely in any forum but the Olympics is an entire country distilled in one performance. In short: You don't usually see medieval farmers, National Health Service nurses, James Bond and an evil "Harry Potter" character in one place. Plus: Molten metal and Mary Poppins. How do you choose from more than a millennium of history? What important stuff gets left out?

- Ted Anthony - Twitter



Some of the nurses dancing in this segment of the opening ceremony aren't just dancers. They're ... nurses.

- Danica Kirka - Twitter -



The crowd went absolutely wild at "Good Evening Mister Bond." If there are two things that many Britons love right now it is the Queen and James Bond. Put them together and you are on a winner. More surprisingly I cannot remember the Queen

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



A technologically savvy volunteer worker did his best to circumvent not having a ticket to the big show.

He stood just across the bridge from the stadium and streamed the ceremony on his cell phone. A crowd of six more disenfranchised workers quickly gathered around him.

"That's 10 a piece please," Timothy Harris joked.

Thank heaven for technology. He worried his power may run out before the show ended, so he was lining up others for potential replacements.

As the helicopters lowered the glowing rings into the stadium everyone oohed and ahttp://wwwed .

"That is fantastic," Harris said. "Well done guys."

So close, but so far away.

"It's seriously sad," one woman said.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



This is really showing the unique story of Britain and Britons. A mix of humble workers and aristocracy. It isn't over the top; it is understated yet somehow powerful.

Brits don't like to overplay things. The silence of the narrative says everything that needs to be said.

And yet: I just noticed that my foot has been beating the rhythm this whole time.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



It is really incredible to see the transformation into an industrial society. So shocking. It must have been like this for the people of rural England in some way, really. It was all happening so quickly. Things familiar, then suddenly so dark. And scary.



A group of 10 Nigerians didn't let a few rain drops, or the fact that they didn't have tickets to the opening ceremony, dampen their spirits.

They laughed, danced, clapped their hands and sang songs near the entrance to Olympic Park.

They yelled in unison: "We represent Nigeria!"

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



The first song, Jerusalem, is often used when England needs its own anthem. God Save The Queen is actually the British National Anthem. This is a real nod to England, but there's a lot of Irish, Welsh and Scottish imagery on show too.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



The Clash. The Sex Pistols. Lily Allen. Pink Floyd. London's Olympics open with a fast-moving montage of the UK that immediately summons the musical tradition of the past generation of British music. "God save the Queen," sing the Sex Pistols. The music moves on before the second line: "She ain't no human bein'."

- Ted Anthony - Twitter



The 2012 London Olympic Games have begun.



The scene moments before the ceremony begins: The sheep and other animals are leaving. The cameras are still flashing. Around the stadium people in old-fashioned clothes are playing rugby. Besides football (as we call it here) rugby is one of the most popular team sports in Britain. And we invented it.

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



Brits are a little stubborn by nature. The part of the proceedings labelled "Audience Training" where they are told what to do is interesting because they are really throwing themselves into the practice tasks they are being given.

They'll be controlling big bouncy balls thrown into the stands and passing large silk sheets over their heads.

The final word from the people giving instructions: "DO participate."

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



Behind Olympic Stadium lies a staging area for some participants in the opening ceremony. They gather and hear an encouraging organizer yell through a megaphone: "Break a leg!"

Then they walk a bridge over the River Thames and into the stadium. It's quite a breathtaking entrance for the biggest show on the planet, and some just have to let out primal screams as they prepare for their big moment.

-Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



The emcee in Olympic Stadium is cracking jokes about the weather: "We need the rain! It wouldn't be the London Olympics without rain!"

- Cassandra Vinograd - Twitter



It just had to happen. It's started to rain inside the Olympic Stadium

"Don't worry! Don't worry! It's only a little flat rain," said an organizer through a megaphone as a group of performers dressed as milk maids started to pick up the pace on the way inside.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



The animals have just come into the stadium. That is 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and nine geese. One of those horses is a shire horse. The music is starting to build and there are camera flashes all around the stadium. What will the animals make of that?

- Fergus Bell - Twitter



They've come from all over for these games and this opening ceremony. Fans seen filing into Olympic Stadium wearing the colors of Canada, Mexico, Poland, Italy, Russia, Germany, Brazil and seemingly all points in between.

That includes the most well-represented nation, of course: Team GB.

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



There's been so much talk about the British weather and if rain would spoil the opening ceremony. Well, it's still anyone's guess.

AP's John Krawczynski, outside the main stadium in Olympic Park, says: "It's cool with a light breeze and no rain. But it does feel as though it could rain at any moment."

- Jon Krawczynski - Twitter



The atmosphere is absolutely electric. We have already had a few attempts at doing the wave. Crew members in white coveralls and painter hats are parading these clouds around the stadium. Music up. Cheers up. scenes playing on the screens of past Olympians and young kids.

- Danica Kirka - Twitter



Security lines, or lack thereof, are moving easily at the Olympic Park. It does feel a bit like stumbling onto a military base - fresh-faced young soldiers in uniform are everywhere, and every single X-ray machine and scanner is manned by soldiers rather than other organizing committee staff.

So many soldiers that some are just standing around, waiting for a crushof spectators that has not yet materialized.

- Cassandra Vinograd - Twitter


EDITOR'S NOTE - "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item, and get even more AP updates from the Games here:

Olympics games 2012
Britain's David Beckham (C) drives a powerboat with the Olympic torch as fireworks are launched over Tower Bridge during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Olympics games 2012
Performers take part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Unrest in California city after police shootings

violence in California city after police shootings
A protester is arrested by police officers from Orange County as protesters try to occupy the the intersection of Anaheim Blvd. and Broadway to demonstrate against recent police shooting in Anaheim, California
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Family members of a man who died in a weekend police shooting have poured their anger into a civil rights lawsuit against this Southern California city, as public outrage spilled onto the streets in a fourth day of violence. Manuel Diaz's family filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Anaheim and its police department, claiming that he was shot and killed Saturday while running away, lawyer James Rumm said. The family, which is seeking $50 million in damages, planned to speak about the case on Wednesday. Diaz's death, along with that of another man Sunday in another officer-involved shooting, have sparked protests from residents who want to know why such deadly force was used. As city councilmembers voted unanimously late Tuesday to ask the U.S. attorney's office to investigate the recent officer-involved shootings, protesters grew violent outside City Hall. Some had been shut out of the council meeting because there was no more room. They responded by ignoring warnings to disperse and tossing rocks and bottles at police, who fired bean bag rounds and pepper balls. Officers formed lines to try to contain the crowd as residents set fire to trash cans, taunted police and swarmed a Starbucks, breaking windows. At one point, police shut down a gas station when protesters were seen filling canisters with gas. At least two people were arrested, police Sgt. Bob Dunn said. The back-to-back deaths over the weekend took the tally of shootings by police officers in this Orange County city to six so far this year, up from four a year before. Five of the incidents have been fatal. Police Chief John Welter said Diaz was shot after two officers approached three men who were acting suspiciously in an alley before running away. One officer chased Diaz to the front of an apartment complex. The chief would not say what led the officer to shoot Diaz. But he failed to heed orders to stop and threw something on the roof of the complex that contained what officers believe to be heroin, Welter said. Both officers were placed on paid leave pending an investigation. Mayor Tom Tait said a description from court papers relayed to him by a reporter that Diaz had been shot in the leg and in the back of his head was "unsettling." Theresa Smith, whose son was killed Dec. 11, 2009, by Anaheim officers at a Walmart store, said she went by the scene of Saturday's shooting and was astounded by what she saw. "There were pieces of brain on the ... darn grass, in front of all these children, in front of all these people," Smith said. "This traumatizes people, and these people are angry." Anaheim is a city of contrasts that ranges from upscale, hilltop homes to packed, gritty apartment complexes. The city 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles is known as home to the Angels baseball team, and above all, to world-famous Disneyland. On Tuesday night, police helicopters hovered above the violence at City Hall as colorful fireworks from the nearby theme park lit up the sky. As California's Hispanic population has grown, so has the Anaheim's, hitting nearly 53 percent in 2010, census figures show. Residents' concerns about the use of police force in the city aren't new. Last month, Anaheim decided to look into hiring an independent investigator to review police shootings amid protests by relatives of those killed in officers' gunfire. Latino activists say that isn't enough and want federal officials to investigate the Saturday shooting. Tait, who has called for state and federal investigations, said: "If the Latino community is saying there is a rift, then there is rift, and we need to address that." The police union issued a statement defending the officers involved in the shootings and said both men killed were gang members who had criminal records. The union also said that just before Diaz turned toward officers, he pulled an object from his waistband — a common place where gang members hide guns. "I believe that the independent investigations by the Orange County district attorney's office into both incidents will show no wrongdoing by these officers," said Kerry Condon, the police association's president. Benny Diaz, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens in California, said he wants a citizen review commission to keep tabs on police, officers to undergo sensitivity training and federal officials to investigate. "People are saying, 'You know what? We have to stop this,'" said Diaz, adding that residents' past requests for a probe of officer shootings have gone nowhere. "As an organization, we are trying to find peace, but there comes a point where you have to stand up strong." The protest Tuesday capped four consecutive days of violence aimed at police officers and unrest. On Saturday, demonstrators hurled rocks and bottles at officers who were securing the scene for investigators, and police responded by firing bean bags and pepper balls. On Sunday, protesters swarmed police headquarters during a news conference and later set fire to a trash bin and pushed it into the street outside the apartment complex where Manuel Diaz died. On Monday night, his mother joined the relatives of others killed in police shootings in a march near where her son was shot. The second shooting occurred Sunday when officers spotted a suspected gang member in a stolen sport utility vehicle. A brief pursuit ended when three people jumped from the vehicle and ran. Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21, fired at an officer and the officer fatally shot him, authorities said. Both incidents were under investigation by the county's district attorney office, which asked witnesses to come forward with information or video footage of Saturday's shooting. The FBI is conducting a review to determine whether a civil rights investigation is warranted, said agency spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. 

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

World's tiniest house available for rent

world's tiniest home
World's tiniest home
Hey, Mayor Bloomberg, you and your new NYC "micro houses" (and other similarly sized 250- to 300-square-foot mansions) can step aside: There now exists in the world a house that measures one square meter. The aptly named One-Sqm-House was designed and conceived by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel as a place where "no one other than I, myself, can decide what happens with this one square meter of mine in the world. It's the only square meter in the world where I can decide what direction the window looks in, what direction the door opens in, what neighbors I have."

It is no wonder that Le-Mentzel has become obsessed with the concept of home: He fled his homeland of Laos as a refugee and has spent his career exploring the topic. Now, thanks to the BMW Guggenheim Lab, the young architect, budding furniture designer and tiny-home aficionado can share his vision with the world. In conjunction with the BMW Guggenheim, Le-Mentzel invited Berliners to come and help build as many One-Sqm-Houses as possible, offering to cover the cost of materials for those who couldn't afford it, so long as they allowed the Lab to rent them out until the end of July. For those who would like to rent one out, One-Sqm-House is currently listed on Airbnb for €1 ($1.30) a night, but when the experiment closes July 29, the builders can come back and retrieve their creations.

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Royal surprise at British Open

golf news, Ernie Els
Ernie Els / Getty Images
Ernie Els comes from six shots back to win British Open in dramatic fashion

It didn't seem likely at the start of the day. Six shots back of Adam Scott when he teed off on Sunday afternoon, Ernie Els' chances of taking home his fourth major championship were slim. The way Scott was playing coming into the final round, hitting picture-perfect approach shots and rolling in key putts, Els knew the only way he was walking away with the Claret Jug was with a brilliant round ... and a little bit of help from the Aussie.

He got both, as Els picked up four birdie on the back nine, including a must-make birdie putt on the 18th hole that cut the deficit to one, and then watched Scott completely unravel over the last four holes to hand the South African his second Claret Jug. (Side note: The win means Els now has major wins in three difference decades.)

"I feel for him," Els said of Scott after the round. "I'm numb. Later on it will set in that I won this golf tournament, but right now I really feel for my buddy. He's such a great guy. He's so close to being such a great superstar. I know that's not the way he wanted to lose a tournament. I feel very fortunate, but I feel very bad for Adam today. "

Els looked to be in a state of complete shock after his round, sharing a hug with his caddie as he tried to make sense of the situation. The thing is everyone, including Els, is still trying to come to grips with what has to be one of the worst collapses in major championship history.

Els won the tournament, sure, but heading to the 18th, it appeared as if he'd likely come up just short again on golf's biggest stage, after he missed a makable birdie putt on the 16th, and another on the 17th.

At the time you got the feeling that the near-misses were a sign that this wouldn't be his week. But Els pressed on, pulling driver on one of the toughest driving holes on the course and hitting his best tee shot of the tournament, watching as his ball came to rest in the center of the fairway, well within wedge range.

Els took dead aim with his approach and hit it to 15 feet for a makable birdie opportunity. Now let's set the scene here: Over the last year, Els has missed some excruciating putts, including a couple critical misses in a playoff at the Zurich Classic, and a three-footer at the Transitions Championship that cost him a playoff spot.

After years of being one of the best clutch putters in the world, it seemed like every time Els had a biggie to do something special, the ball never went in. This time around, however, was different. Els struck the putt and watched as it disappeared into the hole for birdie.

With the exception of David Duval, who won at Royal Lytham back in 2001, nobody had more success at this course coming into the week. He finished T-2 (1996) and T-3 (2001) the last two times Royal Lytham hosted the British Open, which led people to believe he could be a factor.

Els didn't disappoint, hanging around the lead all week before making a back nine charge on Sunday that ended with an incredibly clutch birdie putt on the final hole of the tournament.

''It was my time for some reason," Els said after his round. It certainly was.

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'Dark Knight Rises' reportedly earns $160 million

'Dark Knight Rises
This undated film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from the action thriller "The Dark Knight Rises."
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "The Dark Knight Rises" was on track to earn $160 million, which would be a record for 2-D films, over the weekend following a mass shooting at a Colorado screening of the Batman film.

Citing box office insiders, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other media outlets reported Sunday that the latest Batman sequel earned $160 to $162 million.

That amount would best the $158.4 million debut of "The Dark Knight" in 2008 and give "Dark Knight Rises" the third-highest domestic weekend opening ever after the 3-D films "The Avengers" with $207.4 million and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" with $169.2 million.

Tickets for 3-D films cost a few more dollars than 2-D screenings, netting extra cash at the box office. Movies released in 3-D typically earn under half of their income in 3-D screenings, sometimes as little as a third.

Sony, Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal and Lionsgate joined "Dark Knight Rises" distributor Warner Bros in publicly withholding their usual revenue reports out of respect for the victims and their families.

Box-office tracking service Rentrak also did not report figures following the Aurora, Colo., shootings that killed 12 and injured 58 at a midnight screening of the new Batman sequel on Friday.

"This tragedy did not seem to impact the box office in a major way," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for who specializes in box office. "For this film to still be in the rarified air of the top-three openings of all time is phenomenal, given the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the release of this film."

Dergarabedian noted that the box-office ranking of director Christopher Nolan's final installment of his Batman trilogy would not be official until Warner Bros. and other studios release their final weekend box-office tallies Monday.

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Obama to offer comfort after Colorado shooting

Colorado massacre, shooting
President Barack Obama waves as he leaves the White House in Washington for a trip to visit the families of victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., Sunday, July 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama dashed to Colorado on Sunday to meet with families of those gunned down in a movie theater and to hear from state and local officials about the shooting that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured.

Air Force One was to touch down at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora late Sunday afternoon for the president's hastily arranged 2 1/2-hour visit, which would include a private meeting with the victims' loved ones and perhaps a public comment about the shooting early Friday morning at a busy multiplex.

For Obama, it was another unhappy occasion for him to serve as national consoler in chief, a role that has become a crucial facet of the presidency. National tragedies can present an opportunity for presidents to show leadership and rise above partisan politics, as with President Bill Clinton and the Oklahoma City bombing and President George W. Bush and the Sept. 11 attacks.

But in moments of sorrow, presidents can risk looking detached and out of touch. Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina is an often-cited example.

Sunday's trip was Obama's second time to Colorado in less than a month to comfort residents in a state that's critical to the November election. He made a quick visit in late June to Colorado Springs, where hundreds of homes were destroyed in the most devastating wildfire in the state's history.

"These families need that kind of contact by our elected leader," Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates told CBS' "Face the Nation." "It will be very powerful and it will help them. As awful as what they've been through and what they're going through has been, having the president here is very, very powerful."

"I think the president coming in is a wonderful gesture," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said on ABC's "This Week." "He's coming in, really, to have private conversations with the families. I think that's totally appropriate."

Obama already had been a frequent election-year visitor to Colorado, which he won by more than 8 percentage points over Republican John McCain four years ago. But neither Obama's nor GOP challenger Mitt Romney's camp expects that big a margin this time. Recent polls place Obama's lead inside the margin of error.

The shock of the mass shooting brought the presidential campaign to a standstill for the weekend. Obama cut short a political trip to Florida to return to Washington and Romney canceled interviews. Both campaigns pulled ads off the air in Colorado out of respect for the victims.

"This weekend I hope everyone takes some time for prayer and reflection," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address, "for the victims of this terrible tragedy, for the people who knew them and loved them, for those who are still struggling to recover."

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday during a briefing on Air Force One that the Obama campaign will keep its television ads off the air in Colorado through at least Monday.

Psaki said the campaign canceled a grassroots event scheduled for Portland, Ore., Tuesday in part because resources had to be diverted to Colorado for the president's trip. She said it was appropriate to cancel the grassroots rally because of the tone of that type of campaign event.

But some election activities were to resume Monday.

From Colorado, Obama was to fly to San Francisco to start a previously scheduled three-day campaign trip that includes a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nev., fundraisers in California, Oregon and Washington state, and a speech to the National Urban League convention in New Orleans.

Romney is scheduled to address the VFW Tuesday.

The task of articulating sorrow and loss has become a familiar one for Obama.

In November 2009, he led mourners at a service for victims of the mass shooting at Texas' Fort Hood. In January 2011, he spoke at a memorial for the six victims killed in Tucson, Ariz., when a gunman attacked Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents.

The following April, when some 300 people were killed in a multistate series of tornadoes, Obama flew to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to commiserate with residents whose homes were in ruins. A month later, Obama went to Joplin, Mo., after a monster twister claimed 161 lives. This year, he came back on the storm's anniversary to give a commencement speech at Joplin High School.

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