রবিবার, ৩১ মার্চ, ২০১৩

Directr (for iPhone)

The launch of Vine last month really brought iPhone
video and sharing apps to the fore, and recently I've been testing not only Vine, but competitors like Pincam, Lightt, and now Directr. While Vine lets you shoot 6-second mini movies, it offers little to nothing in the way of editing and enhancing video. Pincam adds Instagram like filters and lets you specify "Highlights" to which your movie gets trimmed, but Directr brings even more game to the genre, with the goal of creating a real mini-movie with multiple scenes. The app can produce more-captivating mini-digital movies than most of its peers, though it still suffers some limitations characteristic of this newly minted class of app.

Setup and Signup
On first run, Directr asks you to allow it to send you push notifications, something not necessary with Pincam. Next, and also unlike Pincam but like Vine, you have to sing up for an account, either creating one with an email address or by connecting your Facebook account. I chose the latter method, which is quicker, simply requiring you to tap a Log In button on a Facebook page. After that, I was switched back to the Directr app, which showed me a big "WELCOME!" message. But I wasn't done with setup yet: I had to then choose a username for the app/service.

Using Directr
After you've set up your account, Directr takes you through a simple six-page tutorial. As soon as you exit this, you'll see that the app isn't just about your own movies?it's about discovering those from other users, too, ? la Flickr. But not only viewing them: You can actually "direct" other users' movies. The well-designed, clear interface makes this and most what you do in this app perfectly clear.

So what does this "directing" involve? The concept will be familiar to users of recent releases Apple's iMovie, whose Trailers feature has you insert your own video clips into a template of shot types, such as close up, group shot, action shot, and so on. In the biz, this is called a storyboard. When you choose "Direct It" from someone else's movie, it actually means that you'll use your own clips in the template used by their movie. It's definitely a great way to build more compelling video stories, rather than just sending a single clip, even one that's been somehow enhanced.

A Directr representative told me that the preset storyboard templates are designed by professional filmmakers, who also pick appropriate background music. He also noted that most users go the preset template route rather than starting from a blank slate.

Whenever you start shooting video inside Directr, the app does something I've been craving desperately for in a video app but haven?t seen until this: A graphic telling you to hold the phone sideways! How often have we shot mobile video holding the phone in a way more conducive to phone calls than to shooting video. When you upload one of these tall clips to YouTube, it looks awful, with big black bars on each side of the worst kind of pillarbox.

Once you turn the phone on its side, you'll see another example of Directr's ingenuity: A circular control that you can move around to set the focus point. Tapping this starts recording. My first clip only needed 1.7 seconds, and had the helpful text, "Wave to the camera" which I used to instruct my PCMag coworker model/victim, Jill Duffy.

When you've shot all the project's required clips, you tap Finish, and the app will go through a "Printing" phase, which took a couple minutes for my 4-clip test movie. This uploads your movie to Directr's server for processing, which also puts it on your profile page. This, of course, means that you can complete a movie project if you're somewhere without data service, for example, abroad on vacation. After printing is finished, you can watch your creation either on the iPhone or on the Directr site. The movies starts and ends with discreet Directr promotions.

If you're not starting from someone else's video, you tap the Plus button at bottom center, which prompts you to choose one of the preset storyboards or a blank template. As mentioned, most users start with a template, but when you start blank, you have three choices as to length: one, three, or five shots. You get more choices of your own when you start on your own like this: You can type in scene captions and overlay captions.

A musical background track is automatically added to your movie. But soundtrack is currently a weak point in the app: you can't choose your music, either by mood or by using an MP3 of your own, and the music the app chooses for you obliterates any audio from the clips you've included in a project.

Don't want to go it alone? Directr doesn?t limit your lone phone to being the only source of video; you can Add Directors. I must note that I ran into a bug in the app at this point, a forever spinning timer wheel. But in another attempt, the feature worked trouble-free.

In addition to the lack of music customization, a couple other gaps show up in Directr's video-editing prowess. You can't use clips already shot on the phone, there's no clip trimming, and there are no fun Instagram-like filters like you get with Pincam. Nor can you start and stop recording for a stop-motion result like you can with Vine. Of course, some of these are choices on the part of the developer, rather than true shortfalls. A definite area for improvement is stability?a bugaboo for just about all video-editing software even up to the pro level. The app quit or stopped responding a few times during my testing, but I was always able to get back on track.

On the movie's page, there are very clear buttons for Facebook, Twitter, save to camera roll, copy link, email, and SMS. But Directr, unlike Vine, has a hearty web presence, where users can view and comment on your creations.

No matter what type of sharing you do, your movie appears on the Directr site, but thankfully, you can make it private if you're not comfortable having it exposed to the world. The web presentation lets viewers comment and "heart" your movies. The site appears to use HTML5 video rather than Flash, but one drawback was that I couldn't view them full screen.

Lights, Camera..Direct!
As I've said with previous iPhone video-editing-and-sharing apps, it's a nascent category, and like the rest, Directr, while extremely promising and already a blast to use, lacks maturity. Happily, its makers tell me that a new version is coming in the next few weeks, which we can expect to address some of the shortcomings mentioned here. Directr, even in its current form, is a force for good in the world of mobile video, encouraging better practices for creating more-compelling digital mini-movies. Though the app earns an above average PCMag rating, I'm still waiting for a mobile video app with all the qualities of an Editors' Choice.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ziffdavis/pcmag/~3/CqrWTH7HDA8/0,2817,2417251,00.asp

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After 55 years, Ohio's Easter Eggshelland comes to an end

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - After more than 50 years, loyal fans have one last chance to visit the Easter bunny and other Easter-themed mosaics made of thousands of brightly colored eggs on a lawn in an eastern suburb of Cleveland.

The displays have drawn thousands of visitors each year to the sprawling lawn of Betty and Ron Manolio in Lyndhurst, Ohio, but the 55th annual event this year will be the last.

Eggshelland was created by Ron Manolio, 80, who died in August. This final display is dominated by a 16-foot by 15-foot portrait of the man who each year spent months hollowing out and hand-painting anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 eggs. A message below the picture reads "thank you all, and goodbye."

This year, Manolio's children and grandchildren set up the 21,630 eggs in 24 colors in a display entitled "A Labor of Love" in tribute to their grandfather. The egg mosaics depict a 45-foot cross, an Easter bunny and an EGGSHELLAND sign propped up in front of the couple's house.

"Our children did this their entire lives. They thought everyone does this," Betty Manolio told Reuters. But the months it takes to design and two to three weekends for installation are too much for the family to keep up.

Egg mosaics in past years have depicted characters from Sesame Street, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Harry Potter and spring scenes.

Manolio said that because her husband was the creative force behind project, it would be too difficult to continue Eggshelland without him.

"Actually, I was amazed we were doing it for 55 years," she said. "If he (Ron) was still around I think we would do it until we both died. I'm going to miss it next year."

Others will miss Eggshelland too. On a typical day, cars line up on their street and around the corner to catch a glimpse the display that began with a mere 750 eggs saved over the course of a year in 1957. At Eggshelland's peak in the 1970s local police were called to direct traffic.

Local and national media have described Eggshelland as a childhood fantasy land but in truth the phenomena has quite an adult following including a website dedicated to its 55-year history and its creators (http://eggshellandeaster.tripod.com), and a 2004 award-winning documentary on their efforts.

Eggshelland will be up until April 5th. After that, Manolio hasn't yet decided what will happen to the eggs. Previously, they stored the eggs for the year and replaced those that had broken.

"We haven't decided what to do with them. We've gotten some calls," Manolio said. "My grandchildren, of course, told me to put them on eBay."

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/55-years-ohios-easter-eggshelland-comes-end-154749492.html

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The South: A near-solid block against 'Obamacare'

ATLANTA (AP) ? As more Republicans give in to President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul, an opposition bloc remains across the South, including from governors who lead some of the nation's poorest and unhealthiest states.

"Not in South Carolina," Gov. Nikki Haley declared at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. "We will not expand Medicaid on President Obama's watch. We will not expand Medicaid ever."

Widening Medicaid insurance rolls, a joint federal-state program for low-income Americans, is an anchor of the law Obama signed in 2010. But states get to decide whether to take the deal, and from Virginia to Texas ? a region encompassing the old Confederacy and Civil War border states ? Florida's Rick Scott is the only Republican governor to endorse expansion, and he faces opposition from his GOP colleagues in the legislature. Tennessee's Bill Haslam, the Deep South's last governor to take a side, added his name to the opposition on Wednesday.

Haley offers the common explanation, saying expansion will "bust our budgets." But the policy reality is more complicated. The hospital industry and other advocacy groups continue to tell GOP governors that expansion would be a good arrangement, and there are signs that some Republicans are trying to find ways to expand insurance coverage under the law.

Haslam told Tennessee lawmakers that he'd rather use any new money to subsidize private insurance. That's actually the approach of another anchor of Obama's law: insurance exchanges where Americans can buy private policies with premium subsidies from taxpayers.

Yet for now, governors' rejection of Medicaid expansion will leave large swaths of Americans without coverage because they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid as it exists but not enough to get the subsidies to buy insurance in the exchanges. Many public health studies show that the same population suffers from higher-than-average rates of obesity, smoking and diabetes ? variables that yield bad health outcomes and expensive hospital care.

"Many of the citizens who would benefit the most from this live in the reddest of states with the most intense opposition," said Drew Altman, president of the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

So why are these states holding out? The short-term calculus seems heavily influenced by politics.

Haley, Haslam, Nathan Deal of Georgia and Robert Bentley of Alabama face re-election next year. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is up for re-election in 2015. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is term-limited at home but may seek the presidency in 2016. While they all govern GOP-leaning states, they still must safeguard their support among Republican voters who dislike large-scale federal initiatives in general and distrust Obama in particular. Florida's Scott, the South's GOP exception on expansion, faces a different dynamic. He won just 49 percent of the vote in 2010 and must face an electorate that twice supported Obama.

A South Carolina legislator put it bluntly earlier this year. State Rep. Kris Crawford told a business journal that he supports expansion, but said electoral math is the trump card. "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party," he said.

Whit Ayers, a leading Republican pollster, was more measured, but offered the same bottom line. "This law remains toxic among Republican primary voters," he told The Associated Press.

At the Tennessee Hospital Association, president Craig Becker has spent months trying to break through that barrier as he travels to civic and business groups across Tennessee. "It's really hard for some of them to separate something that has the name 'Obamacare' on it from what's going to be best for the state," he said, explaining that personality driven politics are easier to understand than the complicated way that the U.S. pays for health care.

Medicaid is financed mostly by Congress, though states have to put in their own money to qualify for the cash from Washington. The federal amount is determined by a state's per-capita income, with poorer states getting more help. On average in 2012, the feds paid 57 cents of every Medicaid dollar. It was 74 cents in Mississippi, 71 in Kentucky, 70 in Arkansas and South Carolina, 68 in Alabama. Those numbers would be even higher counting bonuses from Obama's 2009 stimulus bill.

Obama's law mandated that states open Medicaid to everyone with household income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate ? $15,420 a year for an individual or $31,812 for a family of four. The federal government would cover all costs of new Medicaid patients from 2014 to 2016 and pick up most of the price tag after that, requiring states to pay up to 10 percent. The existing Medicaid population would continue under the old formula. In its ruling on the law, the Supreme Court left the details alone, but declared that states could choose whether to expand.

Hospital and physician lobbying groups around the country have endorsed a bigger Medicaid program. Becker said he explains on his road show that the Obama law paired Medicaid growth with cuts to payments to hospitals for treating the uninsured. Just as they do with Medicaid insurance, states already must contribute their own money in order to get federal help with those so-called "uncompensated care" payments.

The idea was instead of paying hospitals directly, states and Congress could spend that money on Medicaid and have those new beneficiaries ? who now drive costs with preventable hospital admissions and expensive emergency room visits ? use the primary care system. But the Supreme Court ruling creates a scenario where hospitals can lose existing revenue with getting the replacement cash Congress intended, all while still having to treat the uninsured patients who can't get coverage.

Becker said that explanation has gotten local chambers of commerce across Tennessee to endorse expansion. "These are rock-ribbed Republicans," he said. "But they all scratch their heads and say, 'Well, if that's the case, then of course we do this.'"

In Louisiana, Jindal's health care agency quietly released an analysis saying the changes could actually save money over time. But the Republican Governors Association chairman is steadfast in his opposition. In Georgia, Deal answers pressure from his state's hospital association with skepticism about projected "uncompensated care" savings and Congress' pledge to finance 90 percent of the new Medicaid costs.

Altman, the Kaiser foundation leader, predicted that opposition will wane over time.

Arkansas Republicans, who oppose Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's call for expansion, have floated the same idea as Haslam: pushing would-be Medicaid recipients into the insurance exchanges. Jindal, using his RGA post, has pushed the Obama administration to give states more "flexibility" in how to run Medicaid.

Deal convinced Georgia lawmakers this year to let an appointed state board set a hospital industry tax to generate some of the state money that supports Medicaid. That fee ? which 49 states use in some way ? is the same tool that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is using to cover her state's Medicaid expansion. Georgia Democrats and some hospital executives have quietly mused that Deal is leaving himself an option to widen Medicaid in his expected term.

"These guys are looking for ways to do this while still saying they are against 'Obamacare,'" Altman said. "As time goes by, we'll see this law acquire a more bipartisan complexion."


Follow Barrow on Twitter (at)BillBarrowAP.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/south-near-solid-block-against-obamacare-191744666.html

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শনিবার, ৩০ মার্চ, ২০১৩

Critics Consensus: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Hits a Roadblock

Critics Consensus: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Hits a Roadblock - Rotten Tomatoes News ? Columns ? Critics Consensus ? Critics Consensus: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Hits a Roadblock


Plus, The Host lacks soul, and Temptation wasn't screened -- guess the Tomatometer!

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Room 237, a documentary that presents a number of fascinating interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, is Certified Fresh at 95 percent.
  • Blancanieves, a silent take on Snow White set in 1920s Spain, is at 88 percent.
  • Violeta Went to Heaven, a biopic of Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra, is at 83 percent.
  • Renoir, a historical drama about the relationship between painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son, director Jean Renoir, is at 79 percent.
  • Wrong, a dramedy about a man whose life takes a number of strange turns as he looks for his missing dog, is at 77 percent.
  • The Place Beyond The Pines, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a drama with three interconnected stories about the fates of two families over the course of 15 years, is at 76 percent (check out director Derek Cianfrance's Five Favorite Films here).
  • Welcome to the Punch, starring James McAvoy and Mark Strong in a thriller about a detective who uncovers a conspiracy while trailing a master criminal, is at 55 percent.
  • Mental, starring Toni Collette and Liev Schreiber in a comedy about a woman tasked with taking care of five children when their mother is institutionalized, is at 44 percent.
  • Family Weekend, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Modine in a comedy about a a high-achieving teenager who takes her parents hostage to protest their indifference to her life, is at 25 percent (check out Chenoweth's Five Favorite Films here).

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Risk and reward at the dawn of civilian drone age

WASHINGTON (AP) ? The dawn of the age of aerial civilian drones is rich with possibilities for people far from the war zones where they made their devastating mark as a weapon of choice against terrorists.

The unmanned, generally small aircraft can steer water and pesticides to crops with precision, saving farmers money while reducing environmental risk. They can inspect distant bridges, pipelines and power lines, and find hurricane victims stranded on rooftops.

Drones ? some as tiny as a hummingbird ? promise everyday benefits as broad as the sky is wide. But the drone industry and those eager to tap its potential are running headlong into fears the peeping-eye, go-anywhere technology will be misused.

Since January, drone-related legislation has been introduced in more than 30 states, largely in response to privacy concerns. Many of the bills would prevent police from using drones for broad public surveillance or to watch individuals without sufficient grounds to believe they were involved in crimes.

Stephen Ingley, executive director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, says resistance to the technology is frustrating. Drones "clearly have so much potential for saving lives, and it's a darn shame we're having to go through this right now," he said.

But privacy advocates say now is the time to debate the proper use of civilian drones and set rules, before they become ubiquitous. Sentiment for curbing domestic drone use has brought the left and right together perhaps more than any other recent issue.

"The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to the notion of what it means to live in a free society," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said at a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

With military budgets shrinking, drone makers have been counting on the civilian market to spur the industry's growth. Some companies that make drones or supply support equipment and services say the uncertainty has caused them to put U.S. expansion plans on hold, and they are looking overseas for new markets.

"Our lack of success in educating the public about unmanned aircraft is coming back to bite us," said Robert Fitzgerald, CEO of the BOSH Group of Newport News, Va., which provides support services to drone users.

"The U.S. has been at the lead of this technology a long time," he said. "If our government holds back this technology, there's the freedom to move elsewhere ... and all of a sudden these things will be flying everywhere else and competing with us."

Law enforcement is expected to be one of the bigger initial markets for civilian drones. Last month, the FBI used drones to maintain continuous surveillance of a bunker in Alabama where a 5-year-old boy was being held hostage.

In Virginia, the state General Assembly passed a bill that would place a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by state and local law enforcement. The measure is supported by groups as varied as the American Civil Liberties Union on the left and the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation on the right.

Gov. Bob McDonnell is proposing amendments that would retain the broad ban on spy drones but allow specific exemptions when lives are in danger, such as for search-and rescue operations. The legislature reconvenes on April 3 to consider the matter.

Seattle abandoned its drone program after community protests in February. The city's police department had purchased two drones through a federal grant without consulting the city council.

In Congress, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., co-chairman of the House's privacy caucus, has introduced a bill that prohibits the Federal Aviation Administration from issuing drone licenses unless the applicant provides a statement explaining who will operate the drone, where it will be flown, what kind of data will be collected, how the data will be used, whether the information will be sold to third parties and the period for which the information will be retained.

Privacy advocates acknowledge the many benign uses of drones. In Mesa County, Colo., for example, an annual landfill survey using manned aircraft cost about $10,000. The county recently performed the same survey using a drone for about $200.

Drones can help police departments find missing people, reconstruct traffic accidents and act as lookouts for SWAT teams. Real estate agents can have them film videos of properties and surrounding neighborhoods, offering clients a better-than-bird's-eye view though one that neighbors may not wish to have shared.

"Any legislation that restricts the use of this kind of capability to serve the public is putting the public at risk," said Steve Gitlin, vice president of AeroVironment, a leading maker of smaller drones.

Yet the virtues of drones can also make them dangerous, privacy advocates say. The low cost and ease of use may encourage police and others to conduct the kind of continuous or intrusive surveillance that might otherwise be impractical.

Drones can be equipped with high-powered cameras and listening devices, and infrared cameras that can see people in the dark.

"High-rise buildings, security fences or even the walls of a building are not barriers to increasingly common drone technology," Amie Stepanovich, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Council's surveillance project, told the Senate panel.

Civilian drone use is limited to government agencies and public universities that have received a few hundred permits from the FAA. A law passed by Congress last year requires the FAA to open U.S. skies to widespread drone flights by 2015, but the agency is behind schedule and it's doubtful it will meet that deadline. Lawmakers and industry officials have complained for years about the FAA's slow progress.

The FAA estimates that within five years of gaining broader access about 7,500 civilian drones will be in use.

Although the Supreme Court has not dealt directly with drones, it has OK'd aerial surveillance without warrants in drug cases in which officers in a plane or helicopter spotted marijuana plants growing on a suspect's property.

But in a case involving the use of ground-based equipment, the court said police generally need a warrant before using a thermal imaging device to detect hot spots in a home that might indicate that marijuana plants are being grown there.

In some states economic concerns have trumped public unease. In Oklahoma, an anti-drone bill was shelved at the request of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, who was concerned it might hinder growth of the state's drone industry. The North Dakota state Senate killed a drone bill in part because it might impede the state's chances of being selected by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of six national drone test sites, which could generate local jobs.

A bill that would have limited the ability of state and local governments to use drones died in the Washington legislature. The measure was opposed by the Boeing Co., which employs more than 80,000 workers in the state and which has a subsidiary, Insitu, that's a leading military drone manufacturer.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently drew attention to the domestic use of drones when he staged a Senate filibuster, demanding to know whether the president has authority to use weaponized drones to kill Americans on American soil. The White House said no, if the person isn't engaged in combat. Industry officials worry that the episode could temporarily set back civilian drone use.

"The opposition has become very loud," said Gitlin of AeroVironment, "but we are confident that over time the benefits of these solutions are going to far outweigh the concerns, and they'll become part of normal life in the future."


Associated Press writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.


Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/495d344a0d10421e9baa8ee77029cfbd/Article_2013-03-29-Everyday%20Drones/id-2898ef918ddb4166839776f7d86a1295

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Business, labor close on deal for immigration bill

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Big business and major labor unions appeared ready Friday to end a fight over a new low-skilled worker program that had threatened to upend negotiations on a sweeping immigration bill in the Senate providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who's been brokering talks between the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that negotiators are "very close, closer than we have ever been, and we are very optimistic." He said there were still a few issues remaining.

The talks stalled late last week amid a dispute over wages for workers in the new program, and senators left town for a two-week recess with the issue in limbo. Finger-pointing erupted between the AFL-CIO and the chamber, with each side accusing the other of trying to sink immigration reform, leaving prospects for a resolution unclear.

But talks resumed this week, and now officials from both sides indicate the wage issue has been largely resolved. An agreement would likely clear the way for a bipartisan group of senators to unveil legislation the week of April 8 to dramatically overhaul the U.S. immigration system, strengthening the border and cracking down on employers as well as remaking the legal immigration system while providing eventual citizenship to millions.

"We're feeling very optimistic on immigration: Aspiring Americans will receive the road map to citizenship they deserve and we can modernize 'future flow' without reducing wages for any local workers, regardless of what papers they carry," AFL-CIO spokesman Jeff Hauser said in a statement. "Future flow" refers to future arrivals of legal immigrants.

Under the emerging agreement, a new "W'' visa program would bring tens of thousands of lower-skilled workers a year to the country. The program would be capped at 200,000 a year, but the number of visas would fluctuate, depending on unemployment rates, job openings, employer demand and data collected by a new federal bureau pushed by the labor movement as an objective monitor of the market.

The workers would be able to change jobs and could seek permanent residency. Under current temporary worker programs, workers can't move from employer to employer and have no path to permanent U.S. residence and citizenship.

The new visas would cover dozens of professions such as long-term care workers and hotel and hospitality employees. Currently there's no good way for employers to bring many such workers to the U.S.; an existing visa program for low-wage nonagricultural workers is capped at 66,000 per year and is supposed to apply only to seasonal or temporary jobs.

The Chamber of Commerce said workers would get paid actual wages paid to American workers or the prevailing wages for the industry they're working in, whichever is higher. The Labor Department determines prevailing wage based on rates prevailing in specific localities, so that it would vary from city to city.

The labor organization had accused the chamber of trying to pay workers in the new program poverty-level wages, something the chamber disputed.

There was also disagreement about how to deal with certain higher-skilled construction jobs, such as electricians and welders, and it appears those will be excluded from the deal, said Geoff Burr, vice president of federal affairs at Associated Builders and Contractors. Burr said his group opposes such an exclusion because, even though unemployment in the construction industry is high right now, at times when it is low there can be labor shortages in high-skilled trades and contractors want to be able to bring in foreign workers. But unions pressed for the exclusion, Burr said.

The low-skilled worker issue had loomed for weeks as perhaps the toughest matter to settle in monthslong closed-door talks on immigration among Schumer and seven other senators, including Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida. The issue helped sink the last major attempt at immigration reform in 2007, when the legislation foundered on the Senate floor after an amendment was added to end a temporary worker program after five years, threatening a key priority of the business community.

The amendment passed by just one vote, 49-48. President Barack Obama, a senator at the time, joined in the narrow majority voting to end the program after five years.


Follow Erica Werner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericawerner

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/business-labor-close-deal-immigration-bill-185315130.html

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Sample itinerary for a family yurt camp holiday in the Dordogne | the ...

If you?re planning a family holiday at the ?covall?e yurt camp in the Dordogne, this sample itinerary should give you a few ideas. (Pause for SEO applause.) It?s what we would do if we were here for one week in peak season, with two children aged over five, and a car.

Obviously one itinerary doesn?t fit every family (it would be hard pushed to fit even one), but you have to start somewhere ? and I?d start with?

The Welcome Picnic enjoyed by everyone booking one week or more

The Welcome Picnic enjoyed by everyone booking one week or more


Arrive late afternoon, get shown to your beautiful yurt, leave the kids to run around exploring, rifling through the Play Yurt, bouncing on the trampoline and meeting other children as they arrive. Unpack the car and enjoy the Welcome Picnic, relieved you won?t need to find the nearest supermarket straight away. Watch the bats diving around in front of the outdoor kitchen after dusk, then gaze at the stars, spotting satellites ? or was that the space station?


Have a cup of that organic coffee, then pop into Lalinde to pick up croissants, pain au chocolat, baguettes or whatever else takes your fancy (?covall?e tip: at the boulangerie on the square they do a ?poche? with a selection of the previous day?s croissants etc. ? it?s cheaper and still pretty fresh ? on top of the short counter in clear plastic bags).

Issigeac is heaving on market day and deserted the rest of the week

Issigeac is heaving on market day and eerily deserted the rest of the week

Drive to Issigeac, about 25 mins away, for the Sunday market. Walk slowly around this medieval town that feels like you?re walking through a Shakespearean film set. Buy supplies for a couple of days, then head back to ?covall?e. Make lunch and spend a few hours relaxing in a hammock. Then go to Lanquais for a swim in the lake. Resolve to return at least once during the week. Pick up some croissants for breakfast on the way home, grab a cold drink from the fridge-freezer behind Reception, then barbecue while trying to be the first to see a bat, then a shooting star.


This was taken at the medieval festival at Cadouin, but is typical of demonstrations in these parts

A typical demonstration (actually taken at Cadouin)

Drive West, following the Dordogne river, aiming for the spectacular gardens at Marqueyssac, about 40 minutes away. Buy a twin ticket that lets you into Castelnaud later, then be blown away by the awesome brain-like hedges. Amble round the large plateau, stopping in the play areas and being grateful that the whole two-hour (buggy friendly) walk is shaded by trees. Stand on the viewing platform hundreds of feet above the river and stare at La Roque-Gageac, a beautiful village built into the cliffs. After lunch with a view, drive to nearby Castelnaud and the museum of medieval warfare. There?s armour, weaponry, actors in period costume fighting, actual-size siege-engine demonstrations and a whole lot more, though steep circular staircases make it hostile to buggies. After an ice cream in the village, grab some supplies on the way back to ?covall?e, arriving before the bats come out.


From the swimming lake you can see the roofs of chateau at Lanquais - designed by the same architect as the Louvre

From the swimming lake you can see the roofs of chateau at Lanquais ? designed by the same architect as the Louvre

A lazy day, today, starting with a morning at Lanquais swimming lake. It?s only ten minutes in the car, and a sandy beach overlooked by a beautiful chateau, with a snack bar, life guard and blue sky is not to be missed (many a guest has spent half their holiday here ? and it?s easy to see why). After lunch in the square at Lalinde, head back to ?covall?e for an afternoon of nature trails, hammock dozing, chicken watching, trampoline bouncing, reading ? reading! a book! ? solar shower taking and whatever else springs to mind. Order takeaway pizza, because you?re on holiday and it?s beginning to feel like it.


Another adventurous day starts with a trip to the cave at Proumeyssac. It?s only 30 mins away, above-averagely spectacular, with a good-sized woodland play next to the car park. It?s also very close to the aqua park near Le Bugue. Here, there?s a swimming pool, slide, play area and bouncy thing for everyone, and plenty of space to lie around on the grass. The lake, with its huge inflatables (which aren?t that easy to haul yourself up on) is a must-do. There is a real danger of face ache though, and you realise that you need to spend more of your life grinning from ear to ear.


We cut paths through the meadows to leave wild flowers and insects waiting to be discovered

We cut paths through the meadows to leave wild flowers and insects waiting to be discovered

With the end of the week looming, it?s another day trip, heading for Sarlat but unable to resist stopping at Beynac on the way. This jaw-dropping castle overlooking the river was home to Richard I for 10 years. Its massive walls are built on top of sheer cliffs by people who must have redefined bravery. After lunch in Sarlat and a wander round old town, it?s an afternoon in one of the nearby tree parks. First timers will want to go round the easiest run to get used to the equipment, before getting as scared as they dare on the higher runs. Afterwards, looking at the tree park across the road, it?s tempting to wonder if those runs would have been even more fun ? but could that be possible? Will you ever know? Although a planned return trip to Marqueyssac for the candlelit, music-filled Thursday evening sounds great, it?s been a long day and?the barbecue?s waiting back in ?covall?e.


The bridges at Limeuil - yet another beautiful place to unwind

The bridges at Limeuil ? yet another beautiful place to unwind

Wake up hoping the stiffness from the tree park will be cured by a morning canoeing down the river. Head to Le Buisson, about 15 mins away, hire a canoe and be driven upriver in a minibus to Siorac, then paddle back to the starting point and spend some time relaxing on the river (pebble) beach, occasionally getting dragged into its roped off swimming area. Then drive to nearby Limeuil and have a drink overlooking the river where the Dordogne and Vezere meet. Walk up through the village to the panoramic gardens at the top, then take a different route back down and discover a shop where a glassblower fashions amazing objects. It?s hot work, which reminds you to start planning what and where you?re going to eat.


It?s time to move on, pack the car, and plan a return to ?covall?e so you can do all the things there weren?t time to do this week. Like: have lunch in Bergerac old town, spend an afternoon in Domme, visit the Maison Forte at Reignac, and Roc St Christophe, and the village of Monpazier and Cadouin, then there?s the caves, chateaux, markets, more canoeing, restaurants?

The Maison Forte at Reignac has a torture chamber that will chill you to the bone

The Maison Forte at Reignac has a torture chamber that will chill you to the bone

We?ve lived here six years in August and we?ve seen and experienced only a tiny fraction of what this area has to offer. We?ve done everything on this itinerary at least once and will do it all again (at least once). On our list for this year are a canoe trip down the Vezere from Les Eyzies, that other tree park near Sarlat, and some caves with drawings instead of rock formations. But that?s us. What about you?

PS Previous guests, if you?re reading this, please use the comment section to say what?s on your must-see-must-do list for in and around ?covall?e.

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Source: http://thedevolutionary.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/sample-itinerary-for-a-family-yurt-camp-holiday-in-the-dordogne/

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Web Hosting - Web Hosting Australia for Home Based Businesses

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2. You need to evaluate your needs when it comes to online visibility. There are varieties of web hosting Australia firms that are widely available today but it's truly up to you to choose the right one that will meet your needs. You need to make a complete list of things you need to have including the need for a multiple domain. You also need to know when to pay for the subscription fee and many others. All these will be truly helpful to you on your way to success.

<a href="http://sishosting.com.au">Web Hosting Australia</a> - SIS Hosting provides reliable and affordable website hosting to small, medium and large enterprise. For more details visit http://sishosting.com.au

Source: http://web-hosting.s-article.com/web-hosting-australia-for-home-based-businesses.html

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Marital conflict causes stress in children, may affect cognitive development

Mar. 28, 2013 ? Marital conflict is a significant source of environmental stress for children, and witnessing such conflict may harm children's stress response systems which, in turn, may affect their mental and intellectual development.

These conclusions come from a new study by researchers at Auburn University and the Catholic University of America. The study appears in the journal Child Development.

Researchers looked at 251 children from a variety of backgrounds who lived in two-parent homes. The children reported on their exposure to marital conflict when they were 8, providing information on the frequency, intensity, and lack of resolution of conflicts between their parents. The study gauged how children's stress response system functioned by measuring respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of activity in the parasympathetic branch of the body's stress response system. RSA has been linked to the ability to regulate attention and emotion. Children's ability to rapidly solve problems and quickly see patterns in new information also was measured at ages 8, 9, and 10.

Children who witnessed more marital conflict at age 8 showed less adaptive RSA reactivity at 9, but this was true only for children who had lower resting RSA. In addition, children with lower baseline RSA whose stress response systems were also less adaptive developed mental and intellectual ability more slowly.

"The findings provide further evidence that stress affects the development of the body's stress response systems that help regulate attention, and that how these systems work is tied to the development of cognitive ability," explains J. Benjamin Hinnant, assistant professor of psychology at the Catholic University of America and one of the researchers.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. J. Benjamin Hinnant, Mona El-Sheikh, Margaret Keiley, Joseph A. Buckhalt. Marital Conflict, Allostatic Load, and the Development of Children's Fluid Cognitive Performance. Child Development, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12103

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/a7w-l5GLmP4/130328080225.htm

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Documents: Ariz.gunman's father had taken away shotgun

By Brad Poole

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - The father of the man who wounded former U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a 2011 mass shooting told police that before the rampage he had taken a shotgun from his mentally disturbed son and locked it in the trunk of a car, investigators said in documents released on Wednesday.

The release of the records by the sheriff's office that responded to the attack comes just over four months after 24-year-old college dropout Jared Lee Loughner was sentenced to life in prison for the rampage that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

Giffords, who with her husband is campaigning for universal background checks for all gun buyers and curbs on military-type assault weapons, said in a statement that the documents demonstrate the mentally disturbed Loughner "should never have had access to a gun."

The more than 2,700 pages of documents released by the Pima County Sheriff's Department includes transcripts of witness accounts, calls to emergency responders and case reports from the dozens of detectives and officers who responded to the shooting.

The papers also detailed an interview detectives had with Loughner's parents, Randy and Amy Loughner, that revealed details of their son's troubled mental state prior to the shooting.

Randy Loughner told investigators that after learning from Pima Community College that his son was suspended amid concerns about his mental health, the father took away a shotgun owned by Loughner, according to an account in one of the police reports released on Wednesday.

"After school officials talked to them, Randy took Jared's shotgun and placed it in the trunk of a car which was located in his garage," the report from investigators stated.

Randy Loughner told investigators his son had shown signs of being distraught and angry, the police report said. He had also taken to writing in notebooks, later found in his bedroom in his parents' suburban home, using a code they could not decipher.

Court-appointed psychologists later found Loughner to be suffering from schizophrenia, and said he was delusional. His father told investigators he tried to talk to his son about his fears that the college police were after him."

"But, I tried to talk to him. But you can't ... he wouldn't communicate with me no more," he told a detective the day of the January 8, 2011 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket.

Amy Loughner also told investigators about Loughner's mental problems and that she observed him talking to himself and making "all kinds of noises," a police report said. Investigators spoke to the parents at their home the day of the rampage.

Anthony Kuck, an acquaintance of Loughner's, told investigators his companion was on a "downhill slope" after an episode of alcohol poisoning in high school and got increasingly antagonistic about government in general.

Kuck recalled no specific animosity toward Giffords. Three weeks before the shooting, Loughner showed up at Kuck's apartment brandishing a gun.

"I kicked him out of my house, because he showed me his gun. I did not care to see that. I did not want to know. I didn't," Kuck said. "I was like, 'Why the hell do you have this?' He's all, 'Protection.'"

Kuck then tried to convince Loughner it was unwise to have a gun. "He obviously didn't listen to me," Kuck said.


Giffords left Congress in 2012 to focus on her recovery from the head wound from a bullet fired by Loughner. Her former district director, Ron Barber, ran for her seat and is now a U.S. Representative.

The document trove also held a chilling account of the shooting by Mark Kimble, an aide to Giffords who is now Barber's communications director, who was standing next to her when Loughner opened fire.

Kimble recalled hearing gunshots, then a man running toward him and Giffords. He could not describe the man to investigators, other than to recall that he had his head covered with a hoodie or hat.

"He paused briefly and fired at the congresswoman, the district director, and anyone else who happened to be in the area," Kimble said a few hours after the shooting.

Kimble escaped harm by ducking to the ground behind a concrete pillar, he said.

Loughner committed the shooting with a Glock handgun he purchased legally, police said at the time.

Since leaving Congress, Giffords and husband Mark Kelly have formed a lobbying group called Americans for Responsible Solutions to focus on gun-control issues.

A representative for the National Rifle Association could not be reached for comment.

(Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis, editing by G Crosse, Kevin Gray, Bernard Orr and Philip Barbara)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/documents-show-arizona-gunmans-father-had-taken-away-020209062.html

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Cyprus reopens banks under tight restrictions

By Karolina Tagaris and Michele Kambas

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriots queued calmly at banks as they reopened on Thursday under tight controls imposed on transactions to prevent a run on deposits after the government was forced to accept a stringent EU rescue package to avert bankruptcy.

Banks were shut almost two weeks ago as the government negotiated a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) international bailout, the first in Europe's single currency zone to impose losses on bank depositors.

Bank staff turned up for work early in Nicosia as cash was delivered by armored trucks, and queues of at least a dozen people formed at some branches in the capital. Doors opened at noon (6:00 a.m. EDT).

Authorities say the emergency rules imposed to limit withdrawals and prevent a bank run will be temporary, initially for seven days, but economists say they will be difficult to lift as long as the economy is in crisis.

The capital controls decree was taped to the windows of bank branches and staff handed out copies to customers. In Nicosia, there was relief, but some apprehension about what might happen.

"You've no idea how much I've been waiting for this," said 64-year-old pensioner Froso Kokikou, waiting in line at a branch of Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki.

"I feel a sense of fear and disappointment having to queue up like this; it feels like a Third World country, but what can you do?" Kokikou said. "This is what they imposed on us and we have to live with it."

Kostas Nikolaou, a 60-year-old pensioner, said the uncertainty of the past two weeks had been "like a slow death".

He added: "How can they tell you that you can't access your own money in the bank? It's our money, we are entitled to it."

The Cyprus stock exchange said it would remain closed on Thursday.

Container trucks loaded with cash pulled up inside the compound of the central bank in the capital Nicosia on Wednesday night to prepare for the reopening, a central bank source said. A helicopter hovered overhead, and police with rifles were stationed around the compound.

As in all countries that use the euro, Cyprus's central bank supplies cash for its banks from the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Officials have promised that enough funds will be on hand to meet demand. The ECB did not comment on reports it had sent extra cash to the island.

A Finance Ministry decree limited cash withdrawals to no more than 300 euros per day and banned the cashing of cheques.

The island's central bank will review all commercial transactions over 5,000 euros and scrutinize transactions over 200,000 euros on an individual basis. People leaving Cyprus can take only 1,000 euros with them.

With just 860,000 people, Cyprus has about 68 billion euros in its banks - a vastly outsized financial system that attracted deposits from foreigners, especially Russians, as an offshore haven but foundered after investments in neighboring Greece went sour.

The European Union and International Monetary Fund concluded that Cyprus could not afford a rescue unless it imposed losses on depositors, seen as anathema in previous euro zone bailouts.


Cyprus's financial difficulties have sent tremors through the already fragile single European currency. The imposition of capital controls has led economists to warn that a second-class "Cyprus euro" could emerge, with funds trapped on the island less valuable than euros that can be freely spent abroad.

Reflecting fears of a spillover from the Cypriot crisis, ratings agency Moody's said it kept euro zone strugglers Ireland and Portugal on negative outlook, citing the Cyprus bailout as an extra risk.

The European Commission said the capital controls were legal and justified under EU law provided they were strictly temporary and proportionate. The EU executive said it would monitor "the need to extend the validity of or revise the measures".

Many experts are skeptical. In a Reuters poll of economists this week 30 out of 46 said the controls would last months, while 13 expected they would endure a matter of weeks. Three said they could last years.

"This is a typical set of exchange control measures, more reminiscent of Latin America or Africa," said Bob Lyddon, General Secretary of the international banking association IBOS.

"These are permanent controls until the economy recovers."

The bailout, agreed in Brussels on Monday, looks set to push Cyprus deeper into an economic slump, shrink the banking sector and cost thousands of jobs.

Cyprus Popular Bank will be closed and its guaranteed deposits of up to 100,000 euros transferred to the biggest bank, Bank of Cyprus.

Deposits of more than 100,000 euros at both banks, too big to enjoy a state guarantee, will be frozen, and some of those funds will be exchanged for shares issued by the banks to recapitalize them.

While big depositors will lose money, the authorities say deposits up to 100,000 euros will be protected. The Cypriot parliament had vetoed an earlier plan, approved by euro zone finance ministers, that would also have hit small depositors.

European leaders said the bailout deal averted a chaotic national bankruptcy that might have forced Cyprus out of the euro. Many Cypriots say the deal was foisted upon them by partners in the 17-nation euro zone, notably EU paymaster Germany, and some have taken to the streets to vent their frustration.

(Additional reporting by Laura Noonan and Costas Pitas; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Giles Elgood and Paul Taylor)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/cyprus-reopens-banks-under-strict-restrictions-011937977--finance.html

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Scientists image deep magma beneath Pacific seafloor volcano

Mar. 27, 2013 ? Since the plate tectonics revolution of the 1960s, scientists have known that new seafloor is created throughout the major ocean basins at linear chains of volcanoes known as mid-ocean ridges. But where exactly does the erupted magma come from?

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego now have a better idea after capturing a unique image of a site deep in the Earth where magma is generated.

Using electromagnetic technology developed and advanced at Scripps, the researchers mapped a large area beneath the seafloor off Central America at the northern East Pacific Rise, a seafloor volcano located on a section of the global mid-ocean ridges that together form the largest and most active chain of volcanoes in the solar system. By comparison, the researchers say the cross-section area of the melting region they mapped would rival the size of San Diego County.

Details of the image and the methods used to capture it are published in the March 28 issue of the journal Nature.

"Our data show that mantle upwelling beneath the mid-ocean ridge creates a deeper and broader melting region than previously thought," said Kerry Key, lead author of the study and an associate research geophysicist at Scripps. "This was the largest project of its kind, enabling us to image the mantle with a level of detail not possible with previous studies."

The northern East Pacific Rise is an area where two of the planet's tectonic plates are spreading apart from each another. Mantle rising between the plates melts to generate the magma that forms fresh seafloor when it erupts or freezes in the crust.

Data for the study was obtained during a 2004 field study conducted aboard the research vessel Roger Revelle, a ship operated by Scripps and owned by the U.S. Navy.

The marine electromagnetic technology behind the study was originally developed in the 1960s by Charles "Chip" Cox, an emeritus professor of oceanography at Scripps, and his student Jean Filloux. In recent years the technology was further advanced by Steven Constable and Key. Since 1995 Scripps researchers have been working with the energy industry to apply this technology to map offshore geology as an aid to exploring for oil and gas reservoirs.

"We have been working on developing our instruments and interpretation software for decades, and it is really exciting to see it all come together to provide insights into the fundamental processes of plate tectonics," said Constable, a coauthor of the paper and a professor in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps. "It was really a surprise to discover that melting started so deep in the mantle -- much deeper than was expected."

Key believes the insights that electromagnetics provides will continue to grow as the technology matures and data analysis techniques improve (last week Key and his colleagues announced the use of electromagnetics in discovering a magma lubricant for the planet's tectonic plates).

"Electromagnetics is really coming of age as a tool for imaging the earth," said Key. "Much of what we know about the crust and mantle is a result of using seismic techniques. Now electromagnetic technology is offering promise for further discoveries."

Key also has future plans to apply electromagnetic technology to map subglacial lakes and groundwater in the polar regions.

In addition to Key and Constable, coauthors of the paper include Lijun Liu of the University of Illinois and Anne Pommier of Arizona State University.

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Seafloor Electromagnetic Methods Consortium at Scripps.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - San Diego.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Kerry Key, Steven Constable, Lijun Liu, Anne Pommier. Electrical image of passive mantle upwelling beneath the northern East Pacific Rise. Nature, 2013; 495 (7442): 499 DOI: 10.1038/nature11932

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/~3/T6Jk5OU8X88/130327144127.htm

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Record Wall Street boosts sentiment, U.S. holds key in Q2

By Chikako Mogi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Whether the world's largest economy can sustain momentum will be a primary focus for investors for the next three months after a general recovery trend in the United States helped risk sentiment for broad markets in the first quarter of 2013.

Asian shares edged higher and the euro steadied on Friday after banks in Cyprus reopened to relative calm. Overall trade was subdued, with many Asian markets, including Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, closed on Friday for Easter holidays.

European and U.S. markets will also shut for Easter Friday.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> was up 0.2 percent for a quarterly 1.5 pct gain, the worst performance in three quarters. The pan-Asian index touched a 1-1/2-year high in February.

The first quarter was marked by growing optimism about global growth, particularly with data pointing to a recovery in the U.S. economy that fed speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve might scale back its aggressive stimulus earlier than planned.

Such views spurred strong rallies in U.S. equities while underpinning the dollar, breaking the usual negative correlation between U.S. equities and the dollar.

The U.S. economy shows a seasonal tendency to weaken in the second quarter and effects of fiscal tightening may compound the bearish trend, with property regulations clouding China's growth prospects also providing potential risk.

The euro zone's financial crisis re-emerging in one form or another from time to time remains another downside risk. Worries over Chinese growth and the euro zone were not as severe as in past years, due to the brightening global growth outlook and safety nets being placed in Europe, along with the extremely accommodative monetary policy stance of major central banks.

"The basic scenario for the second quarter will be for the U.S. to maintain its economic recovery trend, which is key to sustaining hopes for improvement in global growth," said Junya Tanase, chief FX strategist at JPMorgan Chase Bank in Tokyo.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> ended on Thursday at a record high 1,569.19, finishing the first quarter up 10 percent, slightly below a 12 percent rise at the end of the first quarter a year ago.

The fairly orderly reopening for banks in Cyprus on Thursday after the island nation received a controversial 10 billion euro bailout reduced safe-haven demand for U.S. Treasuries and gold and weighed broadly on the dollar.

The dollar measured against a basket of key currencies <.dxy> fell 0.4 percent to 82.921 in Asia on Friday, moving away from Wednesday's 7-1/2 month peak of 83.302. The dollar index was set for a quarterly gain of nearly 4 percent, its best quarter since end-September 2011.

Demand for the dollar, backed by hopes on rising yields, might wane because the U.S. recovery is not yet strong enough to prompt the Fed to end its aggressive easing stance.

"The dollar remains firm basically, but its outperformance is likely to wane from the very strong showing in the first quarter," Tanase said.


The Nikkei stock average <.n225> was up 0.6 percent, set for a quarterly increase of 19 percent, after touching a 4-1/2-year peak of 12,650.26 last week. <.t/>

Daiwa Securities senior strategist Eiji Kinouchi said in a research note that, given the past pattern of cyclically sensitive industrial names lagging interest rate-sensitive names in New York Dow components, funds may be allocated to stocks that are sensitive to economic fundamentals. That should also be positive for Japanese stocks, he said.

Japanese equities have largely benefited from the yen's steady decline on expectations the Bank of Japan would take bold reflationary steps under its new leaders, who will hold their first policy meeting next week.

The dollar steadied around 94.06 yen, having risen about 8.4 percent for the quarter after touching a 3-1/2-year peak of 96.71 earlier in March.

The latest available data from EPFR Global released on March 22 showed Japan Equity Funds had extended their recent run to mid-March and were on track for the biggest quarterly inflow since the fourth quarter of 2005.

In contrast, China Equity Funds posted outflows for the fourth week in a row, reflecting concerns about China's property tightening and uncertainty over the economy.

Stocks in the Philippines <.psi> and Indonesia <.jkse> hit a record high, while Thai stocks <.seti> this month scaled their highest point in 19 years.

The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index <.trxfldanpu>, an indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, was set for a 5.7 percent gain for the first quarter, down from a 14.8 percent jump a year earlier.

"Southeast Asia is in overbought territory and may be vulnerable temporarily to the downside in cases of receding risk appetite, but money is expected to continue flowing into Asia over the longer term," said Hirokazu Yuihama, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

The euro was at $1.2822, hovering near a four-month low of $1.2750 touched on Wednesday, and was set for a quarterly loss of 2.8 percent.

Crude futures markets will be shut on Friday.

Brent's slide of near 1 percent in the quarter and U.S. crude's robust 5.9 percent rise reflected the difference in sentiment between a gloomy outlook for Europe and a U.S. economy showing signs of improving growth.

Spot gold was down 0.1 percent to $1,595.19 an ounce, set to end the first quarter down nearly 5 percent.

(Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/record-wall-street-boosts-sentiment-activity-subdued-022012999--finance.html

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Forbes values Yankees at $2.3 billion

NEW YORK (AP) ? Forbes estimated the New York Yankees have the highest value in Major League Baseball for the 16th straight year at $2.3 billion, and the average for an MLB team increased by 23 percent in the last year to $744 million.

The magazine said Wednesday the Yankees' value increased from $1.85 billion last year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are second in MLB at $1.62 billion ? nearly $400 million below the price paid for the team last May when a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson bought the franchise from Frank McCourt.

Forbes valued Boston third at $1.3 billion, followed by the Chicago Cubs ($1 billion), Philadelphia ($893 million), the New York Mets ($811 million), San Francisco ($786 million), Texas ($764 million), the Los Angeles Angels ($718 million) and St. Louis ($716 million).

The bottom five are Tampa Bay ($451 million), Kansas City ($457 million), Oakland ($468 million), Pittsburgh ($479 million) and Miami ($520 million).

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/forbes-values-yankees-2-3-billion-210911470--mlb.html

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Scientists find new gene markers for cancer risk

Vicki Gilbert sits on stone steps in Wiltshire, England in this undated photo made available by the family on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. In 2010, Gilbert was diagnosed with breast cancer and then found she carries the mutated BRCA1 gene which may make her pre-disposed to ovarian cancer. Gilbert decided to have ovaries removed to prevent the potential onset of further cancer, and her breast cancer is in remission. A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person?s risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday, March 27, 2013. It?s the latest mega-collaboration to learn more about the intricate mechanisms that lead to cancer. (AP Photo)

Vicki Gilbert sits on stone steps in Wiltshire, England in this undated photo made available by the family on Tuesday, March 26, 2013. In 2010, Gilbert was diagnosed with breast cancer and then found she carries the mutated BRCA1 gene which may make her pre-disposed to ovarian cancer. Gilbert decided to have ovaries removed to prevent the potential onset of further cancer, and her breast cancer is in remission. A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person?s risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday, March 27, 2013. It?s the latest mega-collaboration to learn more about the intricate mechanisms that lead to cancer. (AP Photo)

This undated photo provided by the family on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 shows Vicki Gilbert in Wiltshire, England. In 2010, Gilbert was diagnosed with breast cancer and then found she carries the mutated BRCA1 gene which may make her pre-disposed to ovarian cancer. Gilbert decided to have ovaries removed to prevent the potential onset of further cancer, and her breast cancer is in remission. A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person?s risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday, March 27, 2013. It?s the latest mega-collaboration to learn more about the intricate mechanisms that lead to cancer. (AP Photo)

(AP) ? A huge international effort involving more than 100 institutions and genetic tests on 200,000 people has uncovered dozens of signposts in DNA that can help reveal further a person's risk for breast, ovarian or prostate cancer, scientists reported Wednesday.

It's the latest mega-collaboration to learn more about the intricate mechanisms that lead to cancer. And while the headway seems significant in many ways, the potential payoff for ordinary people is mostly this: Someday there may be genetic tests that help identify women with the most to gain from mammograms, and men who could benefit most from PSA tests and prostate biopsies.

And perhaps farther in the future these genetic clues might lead to new treatments.

"This adds another piece to the puzzle," said Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research U.K., the charity which funded much of the research.

One analysis suggests that among men whose family history gives them roughly a 20 percent lifetime risk for prostate cancer, such genetic markers could identify those whose real risk is 60 percent.

The markers also could make a difference for women with BRCA gene mutations, which puts them at high risk for breast cancer. Researchers may be able to separate those whose lifetime risk exceeds 80 percent from women whose risk is about 20 to 50 percent. One doctor said that might mean some women would choose to monitor for cancer rather than taking the drastic step of having healthy breasts removed.

Scientists have found risk markers for the three diseases before, but the new trove doubles the known list, said one author, Douglas Easton of Cambridge University. The discoveries also reveal clues about the biological underpinnings of these cancers, which may pay off someday in better therapies, he said.

Experts not connected with the work said it was encouraging but that more research is needed to see how useful it would be for guiding patient care. One suggested that using a gene test along with PSA testing and other factors might help determine which men have enough risk of a life-threatening prostate cancer that they should get a biopsy. Many prostate cancers found early are slow-growing and won't be fatal, but there is no way to differentiate and many men have surgery they may not need.

Easton said the prospects for a genetic test are greater for prostate and breast cancer than ovarian cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide, with more than 1 million new cases a year. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after lung cancer, with about 900,000 new cases every year. Ovarian cancer accounts for about 4 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women, causing about 225,000 cases worldwide.

The new results were released in 13 reports in Nature Genetics, PLOS Genetics and other journals. They come from a collaboration involving more than 130 institutions in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. The research was mainly paid for by Cancer Research U.K., the European Union and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Scientists used scans of DNA from more than 200,000 people to seek the markers, tiny variations in the 3 billion "letters" of the DNA code that are associated with disease risk.

The scientists found 49 new risk markers for breast cancer plus a couple of others that modify breast cancer risk from rare mutated genes, 26 for prostate cancer and eight for ovarian cancer. Individually, each marker has only a slight impact on risk estimation, too small to be useful on its own, Easton said. They would be combined and added to previously known markers to help reveal a person's risk, he said.

A genetic test could be useful in identifying people who should get mammography or PSA testing, said Hilary Burton, director of the PHG Foundation, a genomics think-tank in Cambridge, England. A mathematical analysis done by her group found that under certain assumptions, a gene test using all known markers could reduce the number of mammograms and PSA tests by around 20 percent, with only a small cost in cancer cases missed.

Among the new findings:

? For breast cancer, researchers calculated that by using all known markers, including the new ones, they could identify 5 percent of the female population with twice the average risk of disease, and 1 percent with a three-fold risk. The average lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 12 percent in developed countries. It's lower in the developing world where other diseases are a bigger problem.

? For prostate cancer, using all the known markers could identify 1 percent of men with nearly five times the average risk, the researchers computed. In developed countries, a man's average lifetime risk for the disease is about 14 to 16 percent, lower in developing nations.

?Markers can also make a difference in estimates of breast cancer risk for women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. Such women are rare, but their lifetime risk can run as high as 85 percent. Researchers said that with the new biomarkers, it might be possible to identify the small group of these women with a risk of 28 percent or less.

For patients like Vicki Gilbert of England, who carries a variation of the BRCA1 gene, having such details about her cancer risk would have made decision-making easier.

Gilbert, 50, found out about her genetic risk after being diagnosed with the disease in 2009. Though doctors said the gene wouldn't change the kind of chemotherapy she got, they suggested removing her ovaries to avoid ovarian cancer, which is also made more likely by a mutated BRCA1.

"They didn't want to express a definite opinion on whether I should have my ovaries removed so I had to weigh up my options for myself," said Gilbert, a veterinary receptionist in Wiltshire. "...I decided to have my ovaries removed because that takes away the fear it could happen. It certainly would have been nice to have more information to know that was the right choice."

Gilbert said knowing more about the genetic risks of cancer should be reassuring for most patients. "There are so many decisions made for you when you go through cancer treatment that being able to decide something yourself is very important," she said.

Dr. Charis Eng, chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, who didn't participate in the new work, called the breast cancer research exciting but not ready for routine use.

Most women who carry a BRCA gene choose intensive surveillance with both mammograms and MRI and some choose to have their breasts removed to prevent the disease, she said. Even the lower risk described by the new research is worrisomely high, and might not persuade a woman to avoid such precautions completely, Eng said.


AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng contributed to this report from London.



Nature Genetics: http://www.nature.com/ng

PLOS Genetics: http://www.plosgenetics.org

Breakthrough Breast Cancer: http://www.breakthrough.org.uk/

Associated Press

Source: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/b2f0ca3a594644ee9e50a8ec4ce2d6de/Article_2013-03-27-US-MED-Cancer-Genes/id-87b062f83162464f9af49527fbc3a5c7

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