Saturday, December 31, 2011

WINTER SPORTS TRIBUTE: LEGACY WRESTLING ROSTER

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -

Austin Arnsdorf

Jesse Carlson

Mark Dubberly

Dezmon Fernandez

Jacob Garner

Jeffrey Knight

Gabriel Martinez

Daniel Mitchell

Chad Quick

Collin Randall

Cody Southard

Jacob Southard

Alan Tucker

Chris WesselCoach: Mike Thompson

Assistant coaches: Kevin Krueger, Jeff Harrington, Craig MacPhearson and Dustin Randall

Source: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_12796717?source=rss_viewed

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Recap: New Mexico St vs. New Mexico

Drew Gordon was unstoppable as he scored 23 points and pulled down 19 rebounds for the Lobos as New Mexico took down the New Mexico State Aggies 89-67 in an in-state clash at the Pan American Center.

Tony Snell led New Mexico (11-2) with 24 points as he made 5-of-9 from the field and 9-of-9 from the charity stripe. Kendall Williams chipped in 12 points for the Lobos as they won their ninth-straight game.

Wendell McKines did his best to keep New Mexico State (8-5) in the game as he recorded a double-double of his own with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Hamidu Rahman had a solid contribution with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. The loss was the second in a row for the Aggies.

The Aggies trailed by three with 10:57 left in the first period before New Mexico went on a big run to take a 46-25 lead into the intermission. The Lobos shot 41.7 percent from the field and made 8-of-12 from three-point range while New Mexico State shot just 25.7 percent from the field and went 0-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first half.

New Mexico continued to produce on the offensive end after the break as it made 50 percent of its field goals and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe in the second half. The Aggies attempted to claw their way back as they scored 20 points in the paint, 15 points off of turnovers, and 16 second chance points in the second half. Despite New Mexico State's improved performance, the Lobos led by as many as 34 and enjoyed a comfortable lead throughout the second half.

Three-point shooting played a big factor as the Lobos poured in 12-of-24 from beyond the arc while the Aggies made just 1-of-14 of their three-point shot attempts.

Game Notes

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Source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2011/12/28/1767818/recap-new-mexico-st-vs-new-mexico.html

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Friday, December 30, 2011

All eyes on German renewable energy efforts (AP)

FELDHEIM, Germany ? This tiny village in a wind-swept corner of eastern Germany seems an unlikely place for a revolution.

Yet environmentalists, experts and politicians from El Salvador to Japan to South Africa have flocked here in the past year to learn how Feldheim, with just 145 people, is already putting into practice Germany's vision of a future powered entirely by renewable energy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's government passed legislation in June setting the country on course to generate a third of its power through renewable sources ? such as wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy ? within a decade, reaching 80 percent by 2050, while creating jobs, increasing energy security and reducing harmful emissions.

The goals are among the world's most ambitious, and expensive, and other industrialized nations from the U.S. to Japan are watching to see whether transforming into a nation powered by renewable energy sources can really work.

"Germany can't afford to fail, because the whole world is looking at the German model and asking, can Germany move us to new business models, new infrastructure?" said Jeremy Rifkin, a U.S. economist who has advised the European Union and Merkel.

In June, the nation passed the 20 percent mark for drawing electric power from a mix of wind, solar and other renewables. That compares with about 9 percent in the United States or Japan ? both of which rely heavily on hydroelectric power, a source that has long been used.

Expanding renewables depends on the right mix of resources, as well as government subsidies and investment incentive ? and a willingness by taxpayers to shoulder their share of the burden. Germans currently pay a 3.5 euro cent per kilowatt-hour tax, roughly euro157 ($205) per year for a typical family of four, to support research and investment in and subsidize the production and consumption of energy from renewable sources.

That allows for homeowners who install solar panels on their rooftops, or communities like Feldheim that build their own biogas plants, to be paid above-market prices for selling back to the grid, to ensure that their investment at least breaks even.

Critics, like the Institute for Energy Research, based in Washington, D.C., maintain such tariffs put an unfair burden of expanding renewables squarely on the taxpayer. At the same time, to make renewable energy work on the larger scale, Germany will have to pour billions into infrastructure, including updating its grid.

Key to success of the transformation will be getting the nation's powerful industries on board, to drive innovation in technology and create jobs. According to the Environment Ministry, overall investment in renewable energy production equipment more than doubled to euro29.4 billion ($38.44 billion) in 2011. Solid growth in the sector is projected through the next decade.

Some 370,000 people in Germany now have jobs in the renewable sector, more than double the number in 2004, a point used as proof that tax payers' investment is paying off.

Feldheim has zero unemployment compared with roughly 30 percent in other villages in the economically depressed state of Brandenburg, which views investments in renewables as a ticket for a brighter future. Most residents work in the plant that produces biogas ? fuel made by the breakdown of organic material such as plants or food waste ? or maintain the wind and solar parks that provide the village's electricity.

"The energy revolution is already taking place right here," says Werner Frohwitter, spokesman for the Energiequelle company that helped set up and run Feldheim's energy concept.

But it's not only in the countryside. Earlier this month in Berlin, officials unveiled a prototype of a self-sustaining, energy-efficient home, built from recycled materials and complete with electric vehicles that can be charged in its garage.

The aim of the prototype home is to produce twice as much energy as is used by a family of four ? chosen from a willing pool of volunteers who will be selected to live in the home for 15 months ? through a combination of solar photovoltaics and energy management technology, in order to show the technology already exists to allow people to be energy self-sufficient.

"We want to show people that already today it is possible to live completely from renewable energy," said German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer as the project, dubbed "Efficiency House Plus," was unveiled. The house is part of a wider euro1.2 million ($1.57 million) project investing in energy-efficient buildings.

"The Efficiency House Plus will set standards that can be adopted by the majority in the short term," Ramsauer told The Associated Press. "The basic principle is that the house produces more energy than needed to live. The extra energy is then used to charge electric-powered cars and bicycles or sold back to the public grid."

Germany's four leading car makers are also participating in the project with BMW AG, Daimler AG, Volkswagen AG and Opel, which is part of Buick's parent company, General Motors Co., each making an E-car for use by in the home.

Such strong cooperation between Germany's industrial sector, coupled with a political landscape that emphasizes stability and a heightened public ecological sensibility, makes Germany fertile ground to lead the way in the transformation from a post-carbon economy to one run on renewable energy.

"Germany has the most robust industrial economy per capita. When you talk about industrial revolution, that's Germany. It's German technology, it's German IT, it's German commutation," said Rifkin, who outlines what he calls the "The Third Industrial Revolution," in a newly released book of the same title that explains how the economies in the future could swap fossil fuels for renewable energies and still maintain growth.

Robert Pottmann, an asset manager with Munich Re, one of the world's biggest reinsurers, says the company seeks to invest about euro2.5 billion ($3.27 billion) in the next few years in renewable energy assets such as "wind farms, solar projects or maybe new electricity grids."

Alan Simpson, an independent energy and climate adviser from Britain who visited Feldheim as part of a wider tour of Germany last month to see what the renewable revolution looks like up close said it was inspiring to view what is being accomplished on the ground.

"It's great to think about Germany delivering on everything that we are being told in Great Britain is impossible," Simpson said.

Amid the excitement, there is also an awareness of the real need for the German experiment to succeed.

"If Germany can't pull this off," said Rifkin. "We don't have a plan B."

___

Associated Press writer Juergen Baetz contributed to this story from Berlin.

___

On the Internet:

Feldheim: http://www.neue-energien-forum-feldheim.de/

German Renewable Energy Agency: http://www.unendlich-viel-energie.de/en/homepage.html

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/europe/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111230/ap_on_re_eu/eu_germany_making_renewables_work

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Federal judge ends BP's probation for Alaska spill (AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska ? A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed the federal government's argument that a BP subsidiary violated its probation after an oil spill because of another spill on Alaska's North Slope.

Judge Ralph Beistline also lifted BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.'s probation altogether in a written order issued Tuesday.

BP was convicted of negligent discharge of oil in 2007 for a 200,000-gallon spill on the North Slope a year earlier.

There was another spill of 13,500 gallons in 2009.

Last month, government lawyers sought to have BP's probation revoked for the latest spill, meaning the probation period could have been lengthened or the company could have faced additional penalties.

In his ruling, Beistline said the government failed to prove the company committed criminal negligence.

"We are pleased with the decision and appreciate the court's attention," BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said in an email to The Associated Press. "We know that the privilege of working in Alaska comes with a responsibility to maintain high standards. We will continue our commitment to running safe and compliant operations."

An email seeking comment from Assistant U.S. Attorney Aunnie Steward in Anchorage was not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said BP's history of environmental crimes in Alaska began in February 2001 when it pleaded guilty to releasing hazardous materials at its Endicott facility on the North Slope. The company was fined $500,000, placed on probation for five years and ordered to create a nationwide environmental management program, prosecutors said.

The March 2006 spill of 200,000 gallons of crude was caused by corrosion, and BP's leak detection system failed to notice it, they said.

The company's guilty plea to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act in 2007 resulted in three years' probation, a $12 million fine, and restitution and community service payments totaling $8 million to the state of Alaska and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Prosecutors contended BP violated the conditions of its probation by allowing the 2009 spill from an 18-inch pipe moving oil, water and gas from drill pads to BP's Lisburne Processing Center. That spill, prosecutors said, leaked 13,500 gallons of oil onto tundra and wetlands.

The government said it was similar to the 2006 spill because BP ignored alarms that warned of the pipe's eventual rupture and leak. The 2009 spill also came after a similar pipe froze and ruptured in 2001, they said, and BP failed to put in place preventative measures that their own experts recommended.

But Beistline wrote: "The investigation concluded, based on the metallurgy report, that the pipeline rupture was not caused by corrosion or improper maintenance, but was caused by a sequence of circumstances, including cooling and warming of ambient temperature after the flow stopped, which led to the freezing of both water and hydrates. This ultimately resulted in increased gas pressure within the pipeline that caused the rupture. Why the flow slowed initially remains a mystery to all."

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/crime/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111227/ap_on_re_us/us_bp_spills_probation

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Iowa Co-Chairman Endorses Ron Paul (Little green footballs)

Share With Friends: Share on FacebookTweet ThisPost to Google-BuzzSend on GmailPost to Linked-InSubscribe to This Feed | Rss To Twitter | Politics - Top Stories Stories, News Feeds and News via Feedzilla.

Source: http://news.feedzilla.com/en_us/stories/politics/top-stories/180345179?client_source=feed&format=rss

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Carol Channing's husband, Harry Kullijian, dies

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2005 file photo, Broadway legend Carol Channing introduces her husband, businessman Harry Kullijian, during a performance of her one-woman show in New York. Channing's husband and former Modesto city Councilman Kullijian died in a Southern California hospital on Dec. 26, 2011 on the eve of his 92nd birthday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE - In this Oct. 18, 2005 file photo, Broadway legend Carol Channing introduces her husband, businessman Harry Kullijian, during a performance of her one-woman show in New York. Channing's husband and former Modesto city Councilman Kullijian died in a Southern California hospital on Dec. 26, 2011 on the eve of his 92nd birthday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(AP) ? Harry Kullijian, a former Northern California city councilman who married Broadway star Carol Channing some 70 years after the childhood sweethearts lost contact, has died on the eve of his 92nd birthday.

Kullijian collapsed at the couple's Rancho Mirage home after suffering an aneurysm, according to family spokesman Harlan Boll. He died Monday at a nearby hospital, Boll said.

Kullijian met Channing while attending middle school in San Francisco, where they dated for a few years before going off to college. The pair lost touch for decades ? as Channing became a musical theater hit with her Tony-winning role in "Hello, Dolly," while Kullijian went to war and then local politics. But they never forgot about each other.

In her 2000 memoir, "Just Lucky, I Guess," Channing reflected on her first love, saying the years spent with him were the happiest of her life.

"The leader of the school band was Harry Kullijian. I was so in love with Harry I couldn't stop hugging him," she wrote.

A mutual friend who read the book urged the recently-widowed Kullijian to call Channing. They got engaged two weeks after their reunion and married three months later, when Channing was 82 and Kullijian 83.

"We went on talking from the last conversation when we were 15 years old," Channing said of their first meeting in seven decades, in a 2003 interview on CNN's "Larry King Live." ''We just picked up from that. The years between disappeared, just disappeared."

Born in Turlock, Kullijian settled in nearby Modesto after fighting in World War II and the Korean War and went into walnut farming and real estate. He served two terms on the Modesto City Council, and then spearheaded a local campaign against pornography.

After he married Channing, the couple formed the Channing-Kullijian Foundation to support arts education in schools, and he took over as her manager. The couple split their time between homes in Modesto and Rancho Mirage.

"We go to these celebrity events and, of course, everyone knows and loves Carol and wants to talk to her," Kullijian told The Modesto Bee in October. "Then they point to me and ask, 'Who's he?' So I've adopted a new name: Who's he? It doesn't matter who I am; it only matters that I'm helping someone else."

Kullijian is survived by Channing; his two children with late wife Gerry Amos, John and Leslee; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/4e67281c3f754d0696fbfdee0f3f1469/Article_2011-12-27-Obit-Carol%20Channing's%20Husband/id-eb2b6cd371e547309da65f08dc772077

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Historic Ford Plant Site Likely A Tough Sell

The Ford Motor Co. recently closed its historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant on a scenic river bluff in St. Paul, Minn. In better times, the parcel of land might have made condo developers drool, but in today's real estate market, redevelopment of the old factory could be a long way off.

The industrial architect Albert Kahn was particularly skilled at making factories blend into their surroundings. The 2-million-square-foot plant has a classical stone facade that flows along the Mississippi River bluff. The red tile roof of its hydroelectric plant glows in the sunlight.

Tia Anderson, who lives near the plant in the Highland Park neighborhood, says this behemoth was scarcely a bother.

"A lot of people don't even notice that it's there," she says. "It is sort of walled off, almost, physically from the rest of Highland, so a lot of people don't necessarily think about it day to day."

But they will soon, as Ford puts this prime piece of land up for sale. Hydropower and silica for glassmaking brought Henry Ford here a century ago. Today, city officials hope the scenery and central location will attract someone with a new vision.

Life On The Assembly Line

Steve Overby popped each hood to check the fit as the last few Ranger pickups rolled toward the exit this month. Then, he nudged the hinges with his mallet.

Overby's job ? using hand tools in a factory full of robots ? is a throwback to the earliest days of auto making. On this very spot his predecessors churned out Model T's and Model A's.

In 1929, Ken Muxlow started work at the plant making seat cushions. In an oral history interview shortly before his death in 2000, he said those pre-union years were tough and unpredictable.

"The line kept going no matter what," Muxlow recalled. "If you had to go to the bathroom, you had to go, and you had to catch up your job when you got back. They didn't give you any time."

The threat of losing defense contracts during World War II forced Henry Ford to negotiate with the United Auto Workers and conditions slowly improved. The assembly lines produced tanks and armored cars. Postwar, it was Fairlanes, station wagons and trucks. Now Ford has ended Ranger production and closed the plant, even though it's hiring elsewhere.

A Rare Opportunity

While tales of life on the line will remain for historians and former workers, the future of the 122-acre site lies with a developer ? once Ford finds one.

Cecile Bedor, St. Paul's planning director, says the job losses are unfortunate, but the plant's closing offers a rare chance for a city with little empty land to do something ambitious.

"What it does present is a really exciting opportunity to really realize a beautiful development that's really going to add to this community and the region," Bedor says. "And really, our hope is to showcase how to do really good development."

What that might be is anyone's guess. Ideas range from light manufacturing to a data center in the old silica mine, to housing.

With the Mississippi River nearby, Bedor says, attracting a green development is a priority.

But defunct factory sites in gritty industrial suburbs have proved tough to sell. And even though this one is in a thriving residential neighborhood, University of St. Thomas real estate professor George Karvel says finding the right buyer could take years.

"It's a great piece of property ? for retail, for single-family housing, for apartments ? but just not today," Karvel says.

Crews will spend the next year demolishing the buildings. Then they need to figure out how polluted the land is after nine decades of manufacturing. Cleanup will likely take several more years. By then, city leaders say, they hope the economy will have finally caught up with their ambitions.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/15/143761712/historic-ford-plant-site-likely-a-tough-sell?ft=1&f=3

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Magnetic Sense Shows Many Animals the Way to Go (preview)

Feature Articles | More Science Cover Image: January 2012 Scientific American MagazineSee Inside

Animals' magnetic sense is real. Scientists are zeroing in on how it works


Image: Photograph by Christopher Griffith

In Brief

  • Dozens of animal species, from ants to whales, have well-documented abilities to detect the geomagnetic field and use it for orientation and navigation.
  • After some false starts, researchers may have now located the organs for this magnetic sense, and they are finally understanding the physics that underpins it.
  • Some animals may use microscopic magnetic particles to detect magnetic fields; others might harness quantum effects on certain pigments in the eye.

For what must have felt like an interminable six months back in 2007, Sabine Begall spent her evenings at her computer, staring at photographs of grazing cattle. She would download a satellite image of a cattle range from Google Earth, tag the cows one by one, then pull up the next image. With the help of her collaborators, Begall, a zoologist at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, ultimately found that the unassuming ruminants were on to something. On average, they appeared to align their bodies with a slight preference toward the north-south axis. But they were not pointing to true north, which they could have located using the sun as reference. Instead they somehow knew how to orient themselves toward the magnetic north pole, which is hundreds of kilometers south of the geographic pole, in northern Canada.


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Source: http://rss.sciam.com/click.phdo?i=819e891865dcc9bfd8b6a1781aea8a93

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Google Search Home Page Gets Christmassy With New Doodle

Google has dished out its Happy Holiday Google Doodle and fanboys from all around the world are saying that this could be after all, one the best designed Doodles they have come across so far.

The new edition of the Doodle features an interactive Google logo outlined by Christmas lights and colourful gift boxes laid under each letter in the logo. Clicking on the first box turns the entire background black, following which the big G in the Google logo turns into a snowflake. Clicking of subsequent boxes turns each of the letters in the Google logo into different shape such as a bell, snowman, candle, etc.

Well, that was only about the visual part - soon after, the beginning notes of the Jingle Bells tune start playing. However, the Doodle does not stop there either - as soon as the Jingle Bell stops playing, the user is redirected to a page featuring the search results for ?happy holidays'.

Slowly and gradually, Google Doodle is turning out to be "more and more involved and complicated. "More like works of art than fun gags." Doodle team member Sophia Foster-Dimino said during an interview, Huffington Post reports.

The Google Doodle team was first introduced in as early as 2000 in order to regularly supply the Google Home page with Doodles.

Merry Christmas Folks!!!

Source: http://www.itproportal.com/2011/12/25/google-search-home-page-gets-christmassy-new-doodle/

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Decades later, a Cold War secret is revealed (AP)

DANBURY, Conn. ? For more than a decade they toiled in the strange, boxy-looking building on the hill above the municipal airport, the building with no windows (except in the cafeteria), the building filled with secrets.

They wore protective white jumpsuits, and had to walk through air-shower chambers before entering the sanitized "cleanroom" where the equipment was stored.

They spoke in code.

Few knew the true identity of "the customer" they met in a smoke-filled, wood-paneled conference room where the phone lines were scrambled. When they traveled, they sometimes used false names.

At one point in the 1970s there were more than 1,000 people in the Danbury area working on The Secret. And though they worked long hours under intense deadlines, sometimes missing family holidays and anniversaries, they could tell no one ? not even their wives and children ? what they did.

They were engineers, scientists, draftsmen and inventors ? "real cloak-and-dagger guys," says Fred Marra, 78, with a hearty laugh.

He is sitting in the food court at the Danbury Fair mall, where a group of retired co-workers from the former Perkin-Elmer Corp. gather for a weekly coffee. Gray-haired now and hard of hearing, they have been meeting here for 18 years. They while away a few hours nattering about golf and politics, ailments and grandchildren. But until recently, they were forbidden to speak about the greatest achievement of their professional lives.

"Ah, Hexagon," Ed Newton says, gleefully exhaling the word that stills feels almost treasonous to utter in public.

It was dubbed "Big Bird" and it was considered the most successful space spy satellite program of the Cold War era. From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth's atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.

The scale, ambition and sheer ingenuity of Hexagon KH-9 was breathtaking. The fact that 19 out of 20 launches were successful (the final mission blew up because the booster rockets failed) is astonishing.

So too is the human tale of the 45-year-old secret that many took to their graves.

Hexagon was declassified in September. Finally Marra, Newton and others can tell the world what they worked on all those years at "the office."

"My name is Al Gayhart and I built spy satellites for a living," announced the 64-year-old retired engineer to the stunned bartender in his local tavern as soon as he learned of the declassification. He proudly repeats the line any chance he gets.

"It was intensely demanding, thrilling and the greatest experience of my life," says Gayhart, who was hired straight from college and was one of the youngest members of the Hexagon "brotherhood".

He describes the white-hot excitement as teams pored over hand-drawings and worked on endless technical problems, using "slide-rules and advanced degrees" (there were no computers), knowing they were part of such a complicated space project. The intensity would increase as launch deadlines loomed and on the days when "the customer" ? the CIA and later the Air Force ? came for briefings. On at least one occasion, former President George H.W. Bush, who was then CIA director, flew into Danbury for a tour of the plant.

Though other companies were part of the project ? Eastman Kodak made the film and Lockheed Corp. built the satellite ? the cameras and optics systems were all made at Perkin-Elmer, then the biggest employer in Danbury.

"There were many days we arrived in the dark and left in the dark," says retired engineer Paul Brickmeier, 70.

He recalls the very first briefing on Hexagon after Perkin-Elmer was awarded the top secret contract in 1966. Looking around the room at his 30 or so colleagues, Brickmeier thought, "How on Earth is this going to be possible?"

One thing that made it possible was a hiring frenzy that attracted the attention of top engineers from around the Northeast. Perkin-Elmer also commissioned a new 270,000-square-foot building for Hexagon ? the boxy one on the hill.

Waiting for clearance was a surreal experience as family members, neighbors and former employers were grilled by the FBI, and potential hires were questioned about everything from their gambling habits to their sexuality.

"They wanted to make sure we couldn't be bribed," Marra says.

Clearance could take up to a year. During that time, employees worked on relatively minor tasks in a building dubbed "the mushroom tank" ? so named because everyone was in the dark about what they had actually been hired for.

Joseph Prusak, 76, spent six months in the tank. When he was finally briefed on Hexagon, Prusak, who had worked as an engineer on earlier civil space projects, wondered if he had made the biggest mistake of his life.

"I thought they were crazy," he says. "They envisaged a satellite that was 60-foot long and 30,000 pounds and supplying film at speeds of 200 inches per second. The precision and complexity blew my mind."

Several years later, after numerous successful launches, he was shown what Hexagon was capable of ? an image of his own house in suburban Fairfield.

"This was light years before Google Earth," Prusak said. "And we could clearly see the pool in my backyard."

There had been earlier space spy satellites ? Corona and Gambit. But neither had the resolution or sophistication of Hexagon, which took close-range pictures of Soviet missiles, submarine pens and air bases, even entire battalions on war exercises.

According to the National Reconnaissance Office, a single Hexagon frame covered a ground distance of 370 nautical miles, about the distance from Washington to Cincinnati. Early Hexagons averaged 124 days in space, but as the satellites became more sophisticated, later missions lasted twice as long.

"At the height of the Cold War, our ability to receive this kind of technical intelligence was incredible," says space historian Dwayne Day. "We needed to know what they were doing and where they were doing it, and in particular if they were preparing to invade Western Europe. Hexagon created a tremendous amount of stability because it meant American decision makers were not operating in the dark."

Among other successes, Hexagon is credited with providing crucial information for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

From the outset, secrecy was a huge concern, especially in Danbury, where the intense activity of a relatively small company that had just been awarded a massive contract (the amount was not declassified) made it obvious that something big was going on. Inside the plant, it was impossible to disguise the gigantic vacuum thermal chamber where cameras were tested in extreme conditions that simulated space. There was also a "shake, rattle and roll room" to simulate conditions during launch.

"The question became, how do you hide an elephant?" a National Reconnaissance Office report stated at the time. It decided on a simple response: "What elephant?" Employees were told to ignore any questions from the media, and never confirm the slightest detail about what they worked on.

But it was impossible to conceal the launches at Vandenberg Air Force base in California, and aviation magazines made several references to "Big Bird." In 1975, a "60 Minutes" television piece on space reconnaissance described an "Alice in Wonderland" world, where American and Soviet intelligence officials knew of each other's "eyes in the sky" ? and other nations did, too ? but no one confirmed the programs or spoke about them publicly.

For employees at Perkin-Elmer, the vow of secrecy was considered a mark of honor.

"We were like the guys who worked on the first atom bomb," said Oscar Berendsohn, 87, who helped design the optics system. "It was more than a sworn oath. We had been entrusted with the security of the country. What greater trust is there?"

Even wives ? who couldn't contact their husbands or know of their whereabouts when they were traveling ? for the most part accepted the secrecy. They knew the jobs were highly classified. They knew not to ask questions.

"We were born into the World War II generation," says Linda Bronico, whose husband, Al, told her only that he was building test consoles and cables. "We all knew the slogan `loose lips sink ships.'"

And Perkin-Elmer was considered a prized place to work, with good salaries and benefits, golf and softball leagues, lavish summer picnics (the company would hire an entire amusement park for employees and their families) and dazzling children's Christmas parties.

"We loved it," Marra says. "It was our life."

For Marra and his former co-workers, sharing that life and their long-held secret has unleashed a jumble of emotions, from pride to nostalgia to relief ? and in some cases, grief.

The city's mayor, Mark Boughton, only discovered that his father had worked on Hexagon when he was invited to speak at an October reunion ceremony on the grounds of the former plant. His father, Donald Boughton, also a former mayor, was too ill to attend and died a few days later.

Boughton said for years he and his siblings would pester his father ? a draftsman ? about what he did. Eventually they realized that the topic was off limits.

"Learning about Hexagon makes me view him completely differently," Boughton says. "He was more than just my Dad with the hair-trigger temper and passionate opinions about everything. He was a Cold War warrior doing something incredibly important for our nation."

For Betty Osterweis the ceremony was bittersweet, too. Not only did she learn about the mystery of her late husband's professional life. She also learned about his final moments.

"All these years," she said, "I had wondered what exactly had happened" on that terrible day in 1987 when she received a phone call saying her 53-year-old husband, Henry Osterweis, a contract negotiator, had suffered a heart attack on the job. At the reunion she met former co-workers who could offer some comfort that the end had been quick.

Standing in the grounds of her late husband's workplace, listening to the tributes, her son and daughter and grandchildren by her side, Osterweis was overwhelmed by the enormity of it all ? the sacrifice, the secrecy, the pride.

"To know that this was more than just a company selling widgets ... that he was negotiating contracts for our country's freedom and security," she said.

"What a secret. And what a legacy."

___

Helen O'Neill is a New York-based national writer for The Associated Press. She can be reached at features(at)ap.org.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/us/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111225/ap_on_re_us/us_the_secret

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Valentine fills out Red Sox coaching staff

updated 4:01 p.m. ET Dec. 23, 2011

BOSTON - The Boston Red Sox have hired Bob McClure as pitching coach and moved Tim Bogar to bench coach.

The Red Sox said Friday Alex Ochoa will be first base coach on manager Bobby Valentine's staff and Jerry Royster will be the third base coach. Bogar and Ochoa both played under Valentine with the New York Mets.

Bogar is in his fourth year with the Red Sox, spending the last two as the third base coach.

McClure recently joined the Red Sox organization as a special assignment scout and instructor. He spent the previous six seasons as the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals.

Ochoa was the hitting coach for Boston's Class-A affiliate in Salem of the Carolina League.

Royster was most recently the manager of the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization from 2008-10.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Isn't it time to forgive Bartman?

CSN: Hopefully Theo Epstein is true to his word and welcomes exiled fan Steve Bartman back to Wrigley. This season will be the ninth since Bartman's infamous moment. Fans will never forget. But it's time to forgive.

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Source: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/45779383/ns/sports-baseball/

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Set Up Your New Tablet, Phone, Camera, and More the Right Way [How To]

Someone out there must think you're pretty special if you got such great gadgety goodness for Christmas. Now all you have to do get it up and running. Don't worry: we've got you covered.
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Sunday, December 25, 2011

The winner of 'The X Factor' is ...

By Craig Berman, TODAY.com contributor

Michael Becker / FOX

Melanie Amaro was crowned the first "X Factor" champ on Thursday night.

Melanie Amaro was crowned the winner of ?X Factor? on Thursday, surprising almost nobody and completing the journey that nearly ended before it began.

Amaro famously wasn?t one of judge Simon Cowell?s original four female finalists, but got called back into the competition when he either changed his mind or decided that the charade had gone on long enough, depending on how cynical you are. Once she got that second chance, she immediately became the favorite among the women, sailing through the competition and earning the $5 million recording contract.

She fell to her knees in prayer after hearing the news, overwhelmed enough to resist host Steve Jones? numerous attempts to get something resembling a sound bite out of her. She choked up several times during her show-closing number, but presumably will recover in time to record what everyone at Fox hopes?will be?a monster album that sells millions of downloads.

Josh Krajcik, the former burrito maker and champion of the 30-somethings, came in second, with Chris Rene having been eliminated earlier in the evening as the third-place finisher.

The result capped an evening that was more of a holiday special than a coronation. The three finalists all sang Christmas tunes, as did Justin Bieber in a duet with Stevie Wonder. Bieber than sang a few notes with Drew, the teenager eliminated earlier in the competition who auditioned with Bieber?s ?Baby? and seemed as overwhelmed by the opportunity as any girl her age would.

?She is a very special girl and she will go far,? Bieber said, though he did not indicate that he was prepared to fulfill Drew?s fantasy of a date with him at the beach.

The show also featured the snippets of interviews with friends and family members that tug at the heartstrings and are a staple of all reality competitions, or so it seems.

?We used to complain about you singing all the time, and now look at you singing in front of millions of people,? Amaro?s brothers said.

?I?m not really surprised we?re here right now. I want you to know that I love you so much, and I don?t think I say that enough,? said Krajcik?s daughter.

The night also saw the rivalry between Simon and judge?L.A. Reid depicted as a battle of heavyweights, while judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Adbul had the ?Cry-Off? clip show instead. This concept was brought to you by the 1950s, which wants its gender roles back.

Rachel Crow made her return, two weeks after her elimination in what was called the most shocking moment of the season. She didn?t seem to have any lingering scars from that experience.

?I?m gonna steal your job,? she told Steve.

It was a tough night for the host in general, who was often stymied in his attempts to talk with the contestants and had Nicole whiff on a punchline several times before he finally threw up his hands and gave up.

Other acts included 50 Cent, who tested the Fox censors and was accompanied by some of the less-heralded members of the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as Ne-Yo and Pitbull. Also singing was Leona Lewis, who won the British version of the show and is what the folks at Fox are desperately hoping that Amaro becomes. That, as much as anything else, will determine whether this becomes the next ?American Idol? or just one of the countless shows stuck in its wake.

Did the right contestant win?

?

More in The Clicker:

Source: http://theclicker.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/22/9645437-the-winner-of-the-x-factor-is

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Rob Sachs: Making Our Holiday Card List, Checking It Twice...

This year my wife and I got out ahead of the game and took our "holiday card picture" back in November. This was extremely helpful since it eliminated last year's stress of scrambling through a year's worth of photos to find a decent one. (The winning pic required some clever cropping.) With our photo ready to go, the format chosen, (thanks to tiny prints) we were ready to lick, stamp, and mail. The only thing left to do was to review "The List."

Originally our holiday card mailing list was a derivation of our wedding invite list; we figured the folks interested in watching us exchange vows would appreciate seeing the fruits of our union on annual basis. But after a few years I started throwing in work colleagues and people who were good "connections" for one reason or another. Soon the list was growing unwieldy, the tradition was getting out of hand, not too mention expensive. We had to pair down and assess, do we really need to send THIS person a card? For some advice on how to proceed I talked to my friend and Sachs holiday card recipient Sarah Maizes. Sarah also happens to write the popular blog "Mommy Lite" and is author of the book Got Milf? She told me if folks don't get a holiday card from her it's because of one of three reasons:

1) I don't have your address.
2) I don't know you well enough to send you something without looking like a stalker.
3) I just don't like you that much any more.

Sarah says her big litmus test is whether or not she really cared to get a card back. She recounted a story of a friend whom she had a falling out with and yet still sent her card (she believes accidentally, since it was sent on a printed address label). Sarah said receiving the card actually caused her stress and pain. Yuck!

So in consideration of the feelings of both our feelings and the feelings of our recipients, my wife and I came up with three additional criteria for knocking someone off our list:

1) Sending you a card feels like we're trying too hard to maintain a relationship that's let's admit it isn't really there anymore.
2) We're buddies, but you don't have kids and we know you don't have too much interest in being reminded that we do.
3) The surprised reaction you gave us last year when you received our card made us realize we were reaching a little too far.

So the cards are out and our consciences clear. As for those people in my life that fall into that space between pal and acquaintance, they may be off "The List" but they can always be my "friend" on Facebook...

?

?

?

Follow Rob Sachs on Twitter: www.twitter.com/robsachs

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-sachs/making-our-holiday-card-l_b_1166374.html

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wal-Mart pulls formula after baby dies in Missouri

This photo provided Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, by the Holman Howe Funeral Home, shows Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Mo., who died Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. Federal health agencies are testing samples of liquid and powdered infant formula and some distilled water used to prepare the powder by the Missouri parents of a 10-day-old boy who died from an apparent bacterial infection. Cornett died Sunday night after he was fed Enfamil Newborn powder bought at a Walmart store in Lebanon, Mo. The store has stopped selling the product, and the company pulled a batch of the infant formula from more than 3,000 of its stores nationwide. (AP Photo/Holman Howe Funeral Home)

This photo provided Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, by the Holman Howe Funeral Home, shows Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Mo., who died Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011. Federal health agencies are testing samples of liquid and powdered infant formula and some distilled water used to prepare the powder by the Missouri parents of a 10-day-old boy who died from an apparent bacterial infection. Cornett died Sunday night after he was fed Enfamil Newborn powder bought at a Walmart store in Lebanon, Mo. The store has stopped selling the product, and the company pulled a batch of the infant formula from more than 3,000 of its stores nationwide. (AP Photo/Holman Howe Funeral Home)

FILE - This photo taken Nov. 14, 2011, shows the rain-soaked handle of a shopping cart outside the Wal-Mart store in Mayfield Hts. Wal-Mart has pulled a batch of powdered infant formula from more than 3,000 of its stores nationwide after a newborn Missouri boy who was given the formula became gravely ill with a suspected bacterial infection and died after being taken off life support, the retailer said Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

(AP) ? Wal-Mart and health officials awaited tests Thursday on a batch of powdered infant formula that was removed from more than 3,000 stores nationwide after a Missouri newborn who consumed it apparently died from a rare infection.

The source of the bacteria that caused the infection has not been determined, but it occurs naturally in the environment and in plants such as wheat and rice. The most worrisome appearances have been in dried milk and powdered formula, which is why manufacturers routinely test for the germs.

Wal-Mart pulled the Enfamil Newborn formula from shelves as a precaution following the death of little Avery Cornett in the southern Missouri town of Lebanon.

The formula has not been recalled, and the manufacturer said tests showed the batch was negative for the bacteria before it was shipped. Additional tests were under way.

"We decided it was best to remove the product until we learn more," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said. "It could be returned to the shelves."

Customers who bought formula in 12.5-ounce cans with the lot number ZP1K7G have the option of returning them for a refund or exchange, Gee said.

The product is not exclusive to Wal-Mart. The manufacturer, Mead Johnson Nutrition, declined to answer questions about whether formula from that batch was distributed to other stores.

"We're highly confident in the safety and quality of our products," said Christopher Perille, a spokesman for the company based in the Chicago suburb of Glenview.

A second infant fell ill late last month after consuming several different types of powdered baby formula, but that child recovered, health officials said.

Powdered infant formula is not sterile, and experts have said there are not adequate methods to completely remove or kill all bacteria that might creep into formula before or during production.

Preliminary hospital tests indicated that Avery died of a rare infection caused by bacteria known as Cronobacter sakazakii. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it's deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than 1 month old and those born premature.

The bacteria are "pervasive in the environment," Perille said. "There's a whole range of potential sources on how this infection may have got started."

A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said the agency is investigating the death, along with the Centers for Disease Control and the Missouri Department of Health. Investigators have collected samples from the family and are testing unopened formula purchased at stores.

Siobhan Delancey said the FDA gets four to six reports a year of infant infections related to formula and has not found a powder that tested positive since 2002.

The FDA is also investigating the other case of illness, which involved a baby from Illinois whose case was reported in neighboring Missouri. But the agency does not believe there is any connection between the two, Delancey said.

Public health investigators will look at the formula itself, as well as the water used in preparing it and at anything else the baby might have ingested, Perille said.

Only two to three cases a year are reported. New Mexico saw two in 2008, including one infant who died and another who suffered severe brain damage. A Tennessee infant died in 2001 after being infected.

It could be several days before test results are available.

The family submitted two types of infant formula for testing ? the powdered version and a pre-sterilized, ready-to-eat liquid ? as well as the distilled water used to prepare the powdered product.

"We're just trying to test anything that was consumed by the baby," Laclede County Health Director Charla Baker said.

Avery was taken to a pediatrician Dec. 15 ? a week after he was born ? after showing signs of stomach pain and lethargy. When the pain persisted the next day, his parents took him to an emergency room.

He died Sunday at a hospital in Springfield after being removed from life support.

The Missouri Department of Health advised parents to follow safety guidelines for preparing powdered infant formula, including washing hands, sterilizing all feeding equipment in hot, soapy water and preparing enough formula for only one feeding at a time.

A flood of calls from worried parents prompted Missouri officials to clarify that the formula pulled by Wal-Mart is not being provided to participants in the Women, Infants and Children federal program for low-income parents.

___

Associated Press Medical Writer Mike Stobbe in Atlanta contributed to this report.

___

Alan Scher Zagier can be reached at http://twitter.com/azagier .

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/bbd825583c8542898e6fa7d440b9febc/Article_2011-12-22-US-Wal-Mart-Infant-Formula/id-ad9af34b1ff4494787a02410922c4131

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

US Moves Toward Banning Photoshop In ... - Business Insider

Procter & Gamble has agreed to never again run an ad for its CoverGirl mascara because it used "enhanced post-production" and "photoshopping" to make eyelashes look thicker than they were in real life. P&G agreed to the ban even though it disclosed in the ad that the image was enhanced.

The move is the latest in a series of baby steps that U.S. and international advertising regulators have taken to ban the use of Photoshop in advertising when it is misleading to consumers.

The company's decision was described in a ruling by the National Advertising Division, the U.S. industry watchdog that imposes self-regulation on the advertising business. NAD is part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Its rulings are respected and followed by most advertisers because it enjoys a close relationship with the FTC, from which it has historically drawn some of its senior staff. Recalcitrant advertisers who refuse to withdraw or amend misleading ads are referred by the NAD to the FTC, which has the power to fine, sue or bring injunctions against companies.

When asked whether this was a de facto ban on Photoshop, NAD director Andrea Levine told us:

"You can?t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman?s face and then ? in the mice type ? have a disclosure that says ?okay, not really.??

The ad in question was for CoverGirl NatureLuxe Mousse Mascara, which promised ?2X more volume? on women's lashes. After reviewing the ad, P&G agreed to yank it. (A different CoverGirl ad is shown here.) The NAD ruling said:

"? [P&G] advised NAD it has permanently discontinued all of the challenged claims and the photograph in its advertisement. NAD was particularly troubled by the photograph of the model ? which serves clearly to demonstrate (i.e., let consumers see for themselves) the length and volume they can achieve when they apply the advertised mascara to their eyelashes. This picture is accompanied by a disclosure that the model?s eyelashes had been enhanced post production."

In a footnote, the NAD said it was following the lead of its sister body in the U.K., the Advertising Standards Authority, which in July banned cosmetics ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington because they used Photoshop. The NAD said:

"Advertising self-regulatory authorities recognize the need to avoid photoshopping in cosmetics advertisements where there is a clear exaggeration of potential product benefits."

"... the picture of Ms. Roberts had been altered using post production techniques (in addition to professional styling, make-up, photography and the product?s inherent covering and smoothing nature which are to be expected), exaggerating what consumers could expect to achieve through product use."

The U.K. ruling found the use of photo retouching misleading per se.

In the U.S., the FTC has has also tightened rules to hold celebrities accountable if they make claims in ads they know cannot be true.

And in France, in 2009, 50 politicians asked for health warnings to be imposed on fashion ads if they showed retouched models' bodies.

SEE ALSO: Ryanair: 'We Will Continue To Support The Right Of Our Crew To Take Their Clothes Off'

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-moves-toward-banning-use-of-photoshop-in-cosmetics-ads-2011-12

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National Energy Board keeps Arctic drilling provisions (Reuters)

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) ? Canada's National Energy Board said on Thursday that any company that wants to drill for oil and gas in Arctic waters will need to demonstrate it has the capacity to sink a relief well in the same drilling season to cope with possible well blowouts.

In the conclusion to a review launched following BP Plc's Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the board said it decided to maintain the same-season provision despite a request from BP and Exxon Mobil Corp that it be waived.

Exxon, BP and Imperial Oil Ltd formed a joint venture last year to explore acreage the companies hold in the Beaufort Sea off Canada's northern coast. However a spokesman for Imperial said it was too soon to know if the board's decision will affect those exploration plans.

"It's going to take some time for us to read and digest (the report) to understand what implications it might have for our exploration planning," said Pius Rolheiser.

While the board is not blocking future drilling in environmentally sensitive waters, it has set out a stringent list of requirements that must be met before any approvals are granted.

Along with detailing what measures are in place to cope with any spills, local communities and governments need to be consulted, and drillers need to assure regulators that their operations, equipment and systems meet stringent safety standards.

Though it is known to contain rich oil and gas reserves, the Beaufort region has been little explored. The only Beaufort well in the past 20 years was drilled by Devon Energy Corp in 2005-06. It cost $60 million. Devon was looking for natural gas and found 240 million barrels of oil. It has not developed the field.

The NEB, which was criticized this week for lax oversight of pipeline operators, also said it would need to be assured that any company that wanted to drill a well in Arctic waters had the financial capacity to handle losses or damages from a blowout and spill, with no upper limit on the amount required, as proof of financial responsibility.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Rob Wilson)

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/energy/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20111216/wl_canada_nm/canada_us_energy_arctic

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Friday, December 16, 2011

New taker for 'world's smallest frog' crown

Colin Barras, biomedical and environment news editor

ZooKeys-154-071-g002.jpg(A) Paedophryne dekot, (B) Paedophryne dekot, (C) Paedophryne verrucosa, (D) Paedophryne verrucosa (Image: Freed Kraus)

These frogs are, by a whisker, the smallest in the world. Adults of the two new species - Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa - are just 8-9 millimetres in length. That makes these diminutive amphibians from Papua New Guinea marginally smaller than 10-millimetre-long frogs found in Cuba and Brazil.

But there's a bigger crown at stake. Frogs are amphibians, but they also belong to a much larger group of animals called tetrapods, which evolved from fish about 380 million years ago. All four-legged animals with a backbone are tetrapods - as are some animals like whales that have lost their legs through evolution. It's likely that these new frogs are the smallest tetrapods living today, says their discover, Fred Kraus from Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. That is, until a 7-mm-long frog turns up.

Journal reference: ZooKeys, DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.48.446


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Payroll tax down to wire (Politico)

Mitch McConnell says Harry Reid should talk to John Boehner. Reid says he wants to talk to Boehner to hash out a compromise on extending the payroll tax holiday and jobless benefits. But Boehner first wants Reid to show his hand by actually passing something.

The circuitous negotiations of the three top leaders in Congress have real consequences as they struggle to pass a payroll tax holiday, extend jobless benefits and approve more than $1 trillion in federal spending before adjourning for the holidays. Rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties are getting agitated over the inability of Congress to complete its most basic tasks without lurching into another crisis.

Continue Reading

The latest hope for a breakthrough came Wednesday night: Democrats were considering scrapping their millionaires? surtax, but it was far from clear what else they?d give up and whether Republicans would return any concessions. Late Wednesday, Boehner, McConnell and Reid met in the Capitol after a day of public posturing and little progress.

With a deadline rapidly approaching, the developments created yet another picture of a dysfunctional Washington and a Congress with rock-bottom approval ratings that?s been defined by eleventh-hour brinkmanship.

In the lurch this chapter: the construction of a new pipeline, cuts to health care programs, environmental rules and shortening the duration of jobless benefits.

?The two biggest things are frustration with Washington?s gridlock and grave anxiety about some of the really bad ideas that are being foisted in Washington right now,? said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). ?Those things really unnerve people at home.?

By Wednesday afternoon, each side had retreated to its respective corner: Reid and Senate Democratic leaders were meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and weighing what concessions to make, including ditching the millionaires? surtax that Republicans strongly oppose.

Boehner, showing the bravado that riles up his House Republican Conference, told lawmakers in a lengthy, closed party meeting that he would pass the agreed-upon omnibus spending bill in his chamber Friday, just hours before the government was slated to shut down.

The speaker told his colleagues at the closed meeting that Reid is holding a government funding bill hostage to force a shutdown and wants House Republicans to cave.

?And we won?t,? Boehner said, according to people in attendance.

At the personal request of Obama, Reid and congressional Democrats have been withholding support for a $1 trillion-plus government spending bill until they get enough GOP support to pass a payroll tax bill to their liking. Democrats also want some changes to the funding bill, but their biggest priority is to deliver to Obama the payroll tax holiday that he?s been demanding on the campaign trail.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/politics/*http%3A//us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/external/politico_rss/rss_politico_mostpop/http___www_politico_com_news_stories1211_70472_html/43910382/SIG=11mdft5o3/*http%3A//www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70472.html

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obama fights for Jewish support amid GOP attacks (AP)

WASHINGTON ? President Barack Obama and his Republican opponents are clashing over U.S. policy toward Israel as each side jockeys for support from Jewish voters, who could be critical in the 2012 election.

Aiming to cast Obama as unfairly harsh toward Israel and soft on the Palestinians, Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have called on the president to fire his ambassador to Belgium. The envoy, Howard Gutman, had said that some anti-Semitism stemmed from tensions between Israel and the Palestinians; Romney and Gingrich say his remarks unfairly blamed Israel.

The White House says Obama has a strong record on support for Israel, and quickly fired back with a statement condemning "anti-Semitism in all its forms." The State Department said Gutman would remain in his job.

Republicans also challenged Obama's assertion at a fundraiser last week that "this administration has done more in terms of the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration." Romney said Obama has "repeatedly thrown Israel under the bus" ? an accusation the Republican National Committee repeated Monday.

Firing back, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Romney's comments "outrageous" and questioned his own policies. The White House cited military aid to Israel and support at the United Nations, and pointed to statements from Israeli officials backing up Obama's assertion.

The fiery debate will probably continue Wednesday when the GOP presidential candidates attend a Washington forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Obama campaign officials say they will be ready to respond. And the next day, Jewish leaders will be at the White House for briefings on Israel and a Hanukkah party, followed by an Obama speech next week to an expected audience of nearly 6,000 at a conference of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Such attention is all being paid in recognition that Jewish voters, though comprising only 2 percent of the electorate nationwide, are an important part of Obama's base and could make the difference in battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada in a close election. Moreover, the Jewish community is an important source of donations, and Obama campaign supporters want to maintain that support as much as Republicans want to chip away at it.

"This campaign takes the Jewish vote very, very seriously," said Ira Forman, the Obama campaign Jewish outreach director. "I'm confident this will be the most comprehensive effort in presidential campaign history."

The White House outreach has increased since May when Obama caused a furor by calling for Israel's 1967 borders, with agreed-upon land swaps, as a basis for resuming negotiations toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the `67 borders as indefensible and largely disregarded Obama's emphasis on land swaps to account for current conditions.

Republicans seized on the dispute. And while Obama supporters say his argument was widely mischaracterized, damage was done. Now the Obama campaign and its backers say they are determined to respond rapidly to such criticism in future.

"We are trying to responsibly respond to all of these unsubstantiated or false allegations, but there are so many of them, and they are so frequently recited despite the fact that the people who are spreading them have to know that they're false, that it's hard to keep up with them," said Alan Solow, an Obama fundraiser and longtime associate.

The effort involves using surrogates including Vice President Joe Biden, and use of the president's own time in public appearances and private talks with donors and religious leaders, such as a conference call between Obama and rabbis ahead of the Jewish New Year this fall.

The Obama campaign also is going on the offense against Republicans. In conversations about the Jewish vote, Obama backers are quick to bring up comments by Romney, Gingrich and Rick Perry at a debate last month suggesting they would start foreign aid for all countries at zero. Obama supporters say would imperil funding for Israel, even though the candidates also sought to affirm their support for the Jewish state.

Democratic candidates typically enjoy a big electoral advantage among Jewish voters. Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008, compared with 21 percent for Republican John McCain.

But Gallup has found that Obama's approval rating among Jews has fallen from 83 percent in January 2009 to 54 percent in late summer and early fall of this year. Still, that figure is much higher than his overall 41 percent approval rating, and the drop-off in support was about in line with other voter groups.

Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party in Florida, predicted that Obama would be limited to around 60 percent of the Jewish vote in 2012. Obama backers say that won't happen, but it could mean a potentially decisive difference of tens of thousands of votes in key states.

A candidate's position on Israel may not be the top issue for most Jewish voters, who like others are more motivated by jobs and the economy. But it's important to many, and Republicans see an opening, given the consternation over Obama's 1967 borders speech, his administration's rebukes of Israel for building settlements in disputed areas, and a recent incident in which Obama was overheard appearing to endorse criticism of Netanyahu from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The reality is that the Jewish community understands that on a number of critical issues this administration has undermined not only the U.S.-Israel relationship, but has made Israel more vulnerable," said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Brooks points to the recent upset in New York's special election to replace Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, in which Republican Bob Turner won in the heavily Jewish district. Brooks says this was a warning sign to Obama on his stance on Israel. Obama supporters say other factors were at play, including the heavily Orthodox and more conservative makeup of the district.

But even strong supporters are disappointed that Obama has not yet traveled to Israel in his capacity as president, after delivering a major speech in Cairo early in his administration. An Israel trip had been rumored to be in the works but seems unlikely to happen prior to the 2012 election.

Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman of New Jersey said he remains hopeful a trip will happen in the next year.

"No president has been perfect on every subject, though history will record that Obama has been the best president for Israel when it comes to military and intelligence support," said Rothman.

Source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/gop/*http%3A//news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20111206/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_jewish_voters

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