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Government spending bill to the Senate without Obamacare funding

Saturday, September 21, 2013



The House on Friday approved a bill to temporarily fund the government that would strip funding for the 2010 federal health care law known as Obamacare, a move that will set up a showdown with the Senate next week that could result in a government shutdown.

The bill, which Democrats in the Senate plan to reject in its current form, would set spending levels at $986.3 billion through Dec. 15. Congress must pass a bill to set federal funding levels, known as a continuing resolution (CR) by Oct. 1, or the government will partially close. House Republicans see the mandatory deadline as a final opportunity to cripple the 3-year-old health care law.

The bill passed largely along party lines. Only two Democrats, Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, voted for the CR.

While conservatives in the House see the passage of the bill as a victory, the celebration will be short-lived. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to strip out the part of the bill that defunds the health care law when the upper chamber takes up the measure next week. In a statement Thursday, President Barack Obama vowed to veto any CR that does not include funding for the law.

The move by House Republicans comes amid a fierce internal party battle over how to tackle the Affordable Care, a law that was found constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012. For months, Republican leaders resisted calls from conservative members in the House and Senate to use the CR as a vehicle to defund the law, but they relented this week by announcing that the bill sent to the Senate would not include funding for the law. They preferred, instead, to seek a delay of the law's individual mandate to purchase health insurance by tying it to a vote to raise the federal government's borrowing limit.

In the Senate, four Republicans, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, have led an aggressive effort to defund the health care law. They have enraged other Republicans by saying publicly that those who vote for government spending measures that include funding for Obamacare effectively support the Democratic health care law.

Anger within the GOP reached a tipping point this week when Cruz acknowledged that it would likely fail in the Senate after House leaders announced they would move forward with the ill-fated plan.

"Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution," Cruz said Wednesday. "And right now, he likely has the votes to do so."

The remark sparked an outpouring of fury from Republicans who accused him of giving up on the fight before the bill reached the Senate. (The anger seemed misplaced, as Cruz has acknowledged for months that Republicans do not have enough votes in the Senate to defund Obamacare.)


On Thursday, Cruz responded by suggesting that he may stage a traditional filibuster to block a Senate spending bill, saying that he would “do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare.”

Next week, he may have his chance. With the passage of the House bill on Friday, the battle over the Affordable Care Act and government spending will move to the Senate, where lawmakers will have only seven days to find a compromise with the House to avoid a shutdown.


source: yahoo.com

Ancient Forest Thaws From Melting Glacial Tomb

 An ancient forest has thawed from under a melting glacier in Alaska and is now exposed to the world for the first time in more than 1,000 years.

Stumps and logs have been popping out from under southern Alaska's Mendenhall Glacier — a 36.8-square-mile (95.3 square kilometers) river of ice flowing into a lake near Juneau — for nearly the past 50 years. However, just within the past year or so, researchers based at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau have noticed considerably more trees popping up, many in their origi

View gallery."Ancient Forest Thaws From Melting Glacial Tomb
Researchers have collected pieces of wood to date using radiocarbon dating techniques, and have foun …
nal upright position and some still bearing roots and even a bit of bark, the Juneau Empire first reported last week.
"There are a lot of them, and being in a growth position is exciting because we can see the outermost part of the tree and count back to see how old the tree was," Cathy Connor, a geology professor at the University of Alaska Southeast who was involved in the investigation, told LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet. "Mostly, people find chunks of wood helter-skelter, but to see these intact upright is kind of cool."

The team has tentatively identified the trees as either spruce or hemlock, based on the diameter of the trunks and because these are the types of trees growing in the region today, Connor said, but the researchers still need to further assess the samples to verify the tree type.

A protective tomb of gravel likely encased the trees more than 1,000 years ago, when the glacier was advancing, Connor said, basing the date on radiocarbon ages of the newly revealed wood. As glaciers advance, Connor explained, they often emit summer meltwater streams that spew aprons of gravel beyond the glacier's edge. [Images: Shrinking Alaska Glacier Spied from Space]

A gravel layer about 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) high appears to have encased the trees before the glacier ultimately advanced enough to plow over them, snapping off limbs and preserving the stumps in an ice tomb.

Taku Glacier, located south of Juneau, is currently triggering this same process as it advances over a modern forest of cottonwood trees, offering the researchers a chance to observe the process in real time, Connor said.

Unlike the growing Taku Glacier, which accumulates snow at a high elevation and thus is well situated to grow, the lower-elevation Mendenhall Glacier has retreated by an average rate of about 170 feet (52 m) per year since 2005. This year's summer retreat has not yet been calculated, but the team expects it to be relatively high due to unusually warm summer temperatures, Connor said.

Glacial retreat worries many locals who are concerned about the threat of rising sea levels and loss of major freshwater sources that they rely on for drinking water. Anchorage, the state's most populated city, relies entirely on the retreating Eklutna Glacier for its drinking water.

Still, glacial retreat does offer an interesting opportunity to investigate well-preserved remnants of an ancient world. The team plans to return to the Mendenhall Glacier to dig through sediment in search of pine needles associated with the trees, along with other vegetation. They also plan to measure the growth bands of the trees to determine how old the trees were when they died.

"These are relict stories, and piecing them together with radiocarbon dating and stratigraphic work would help piece together the chapters of the story," Connor said.


The researchers have not yet published the results from the investigation but plan to do so once they have gathered more data.

Head of Goddess Aphrodite Statue Unearthed in Turkey

up of archaeologists has discovered a life-sized marble head of Aphrodite while uncovering an ancient pool-side mosaic in southern Turkey.

Buried under soil for hundreds of years, the goddess of love and beauty has some chipping on her nose and face. Researchers think her presence could shed light on the extent of the Roman Empire's wide cultural influence at the time of its peak.

Archaeologists found the sculpture while working at a site called Antiochia ad Cragum (Antioch on the cliffs), on the Mediterranean coast. The researchers believe the region, which is dotted with hidden inlets and coves, would have been a haven for Cilician pirates — the same group who kidnapped Julius Caesar and held him for ransom around 75 B.C.

But the pirates' reign ended when the Roman occupation of the area expanded. The city was officially established around the time of Emperor Nero and flourished during the height of the Roman Empire, researchers say.


  
The excavators had been looking for more parts of the largest Roman mosaic ever found in Turkey: a 1,600-square-foot (150 square meters) marble floor elaborately decorated with geometric designs, adorning a plaza outside a Roman bath. During fresh excavations this past summer, they found the statue head lying face-down. The researchers think the marble head was likely long separated from its body; traces of lime kilns have been found near the site, suggesting many statues and hunks of stone would have been burned to be reused in concrete. [See Photos of Goddess Statue and Magnificent Roman Mosaic] 

Past scholars have argued that southern Turkey's culture was too insular to be greatly impacted by Rome's reach and that it was a peripheral part of the empire. But the presence of an Aphrodite sculpture suggests Greek and Roman influence had become mainstream in far-flung cities like Antiochia ad Cragum in the first and second centuries A.D., the excavation's director Michael Hoff, an art historian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in a statement.

Hoff said Aphrodite's head is the first fragment of a monumental statue they have found at Antiochia ad Cragum over eight years of digging.

"We have niches where statues once were. We just didn't have any statues," Hoff said in a statement. "Finally, we have the head of a statue. It suggests something of how mainstream these people were who were living here, how much they were a part of the overall Greek and Roman traditions."

The researchers also found other traces of Roman influence, such as a second mosaic adorning a building that looks like it might be a temple.


"Everything about it is telling us it's a temple, but we don't have much in the way of to whom it was dedicated," Hoff said in a statement. "We're still analyzing the finds. But the architecture suggests heavily that it was a temple."

source :yahoo.com

Saudi Arabia 'optimistic' on MERS-free hajj

  
RIYADH (AFP) - Saudi authorities are optimistic that October's hajj pilgrimage to the kingdom, one of the world's annual largest gatherings, will pass without outbreaks of the deadly MERS coronavirus, the health minister said Saturday.The virus, which appeared first in the kingdom last year, has killed 58 people worldwide, 49 of them in Saudi Arabia, according to official Saudi figures and the World Health Organisation (WHO).But "we are optimistic we can achieve yet another success as the hajj pilgrimage season nears" after the minor pilgrimage season during the fasting month of Ramadan "succeeded despite health challenges such as the coronavirus," said Abdullah al-Rabia.No MERS outbreaks were recorded at last year's hajj, nor during the Umrah season in July and August of this year.Saudi Arabia has "longstanding experience" dealing with health challenges brought by the large numbers of people who come to the kingdom -- home to Islam's holiest sites.Around two million people are expected at this year's hajj, which begins on October 13 and lasts five days.Authorities have urged the elderly and chronically ill to avoid the event and have reduced the number of people they will allow to perform come.The WHO said on Thursday it had been informed of 132 lab-confirmed cases of MERS, including the deaths.With the exception of a cluster of cases in the eastern town of Al-Ihsa, the focal point of the outbreak has been the capital, scientists said Friday in an online report published on The Lancet.Experts are struggling to understand MERS, for which there is still no vaccine.It is considered a cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died.Like SARS, MERS is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, and it shares the former's flu-like symptoms -- but differs by also causing kidney failure.


AFP

BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis reportedly considering bid for his former company


BlackBerry revealed its plans to retreat from the consumer market amid plan to lay off 4,500 workers and a looming $950 million quarterly loss. The company is actively looking for a buyer, and now several reports have pegged a somewhat surprising option: BlackBerry co-founder and former co-chief executive officer Mike Lazaridis. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal cited sources saying that Lazaridis has approached private equity firms about making a bid for the company; The New York Times specifically states that he's reached out to the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group about putting together an offer. That said, the talks were labeled as "preliminary" and may not lead to an actual bids.

Lazaridis stepped down in January of 2012 along with fellow co-CEO Jim Balsillie, and eventually left the company altogether this past March — but he remains one of the company's largest individual shareholders, a position that could help him if he decides to move forward with a potential bid to take BlackBerry private. That said, Lazaridis also presided over a dramatic downturn at the company and is arguably one of the key figures responsible for BlackBerry's failures over the last several years. We'll have to wait and see if that history makes him a tough sell to the rest of BlackBerry's board and shareholders if he decides to go forward with this potential bid.



source :www.theverge.com

LinkedIn sued by users who say it hacked email accounts, stole contact lists


A group of LinkedIn users are suing the social networking site for allegedly hacking into their email accounts. In a complaint filed in a San Jose federal court this week, the users accuse LinkedIn of accessing their email so the company can mine out a list of contacts and send spam-like emails. The suit claims that "Linkedln is able to download these addresses without requesting the password for the external email accounts or obtaining users' consent."


This, the complaint argues, is essentially hacking since "the users' email accounts and downloading of all email addresses associated with that users' account is done without clearly notifying the user or obtaining his or her consent." Once a contacts list has been siphoned from a users' email account, "endorsement emails" get sent out. "These endorsement emails contain the name and likeness of those existing users from whom Linkedln surreptitiously obtained the list of email addresses," the document explains.

It's not clear from the suit exactly how LinkedIn is allegedly hacking these email accounts. For example, the suit claims that the company "pretends" to be its users to download contact lists "if a LinkedIn user leaves an external email account open." Nonetheless, the social network is denying the accusations. "LinkedIn is committed to putting out members first, which includes being transparent about how we protect and utilize our members' data," the company says in a statement shared with AllThingsD. "We believe that the legal claims in this lawsuit are without merit, and we intend to fight it vigorously."


www.theverge.com

Gunman Shot in Kenya 39 dead


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Terrified shoppers huddled in back hallways and prayed they would not be found by the Islamic extremist gunmen lobbing grenades and firing assault rifles inside Nairobi's top mall Saturday. When the way appeared clear, crying mothers clutching small children and blood-splattered men sprinted out of the four-story mall.

At least 39 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in the assault, Kenya's president announced on national TV, while disclosing that his close family members were among the dead.




Foreigners were among the casualties. France's president said that two French women were killed. American citizens were reported injured but not killed in the attack, the State Department said Saturday, but did not release further details.

Early Sunday morning, 12 hours after the attack began, gunmen remained holed up inside the mall with an unknown number of hostages. President Uhuru Kenyatta called the security operation under way "delicate" and said a top priority was to safeguard hostages.

As the attack began shortly after noon Saturday, the al-Qaida-linked gunmen asked the victims they had cornered if they were Muslim: Those who answered yes were free to go, several witnesses said. The non-Muslims were not.

Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility and said the attack was retribution for Kenyan forces' 2011 push into Somalia. The rebels threatened more attacks.

Al-Shabab said on its Twitter feed that Kenyan security officials were trying to open negotiations. "There will be no negotiations whatsoever," al-Shabab tweeted.

As night fell in Kenya's capital, two contingents of army special forces troops moved inside the mall.

Police and military surrounded the huge shopping complex as helicopters buzzed overhead. An Associated Press reporter said he saw a wounded Kenyan soldier put into an ambulance at nightfall, an indication, perhaps, of a continuing shoot-out inside.

Witnesses said at least five gunmen — including at least one woman — first attacked an outdoor cafe at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, a shiny, new shopping center that includes Nike, Adidas and Bose stores. The mall's ownership is Israeli, and security experts have long said the structure made an attractive terrorist target.

The attack began shortly after noon with bursts of gunfire and grenades. Shoppers — expatriates and affluent Kenyans — fled in any direction that might be safe: into back corners of stores, back service hallways and bank vaults. Over the next several hours, pockets of people trickled out of the mall as undercover police moved in. Some of the wounded were trundled out in shopping carts.

"We started by hearing gunshots downstairs and outside. Later we heard them come inside. We took cover. Then we saw two gunmen wearing black turbans. I saw them shoot," said Patrick Kuria, an employee at Artcaffe, the restaurant with shady outdoor seating.

Frank Mugungu, an off-duty army sergeant major, said he saw four male attackers and one female attacker. "One was Somali," he said, adding that the others were black, suggesting that they could have been Kenyan or another nationality.

Al-Shabab, on its Twitter feed, said that it has many times warned Kenya's government that failure to remove its forces from Somalia "would have severe consequences." The group claimed that its gunmen had killed 100 people, but its assertions are often exaggerated.

"The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders," al-Shabab said. Another tweet said: "For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land #Westgate."

Al-Shabab's Twitter account was suspended shortly after its claim of responsibility and threats against Kenya. Twitter's terms of service forbids making threats.

Al-Shabab threatened in late 2011 to unleash a large-scale attack in Nairobi. Kenya has seen a regular spate of grenade attacks since then but never such a large terrorist assault.

Nairobi's mortuary superintendent, Sammy Nyongesa Jacob, said Africans, Asians and Caucasians were among the bodies brought to the mortuary.

Kenya Attack Survivor: 'They Threw a Grenade'Play video."Kenya Attack Survivor: 'They Threw a Grenade'
The U.S. State Department condemned "this senseless act of violence that has resulted in death and injury for many innocent men, women, and children."

In a separate statement, a White House spokeswoman said some staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya have been "tragically affected" by the attack. No other information was provided.

"The perpetrators of this heinous act must be brought to justice, and we have offered our full support to the Kenyan Government to do so," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in the statement.

The U.S. embassy in Nairobi said it was in contact with local authorities and offered assistance. Some British security personnel assisted in the response.

The gunmen told hostages that non-Muslims would be targeted, said Elijah Kamau, who was at the mall at the time of the midday attack.

"The gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave. They were safe, and non-Muslims would be targeted," he said.

Jay Patel, who sought cover on an upper floor in the mall when shooting began, said that when he looked out of a window onto the upper parking deck of the mall he saw the gunmen with a group of people. Patel said that as the attackers were talking, some of the people stood up and left and the others were shot.

The attack was carried out by terrorists, said police chief Benson Kibue. He did not specify a group. He said it was likely that no more than 10 attackers were involved.

Somalia's president — the leader of a neighboring country familiar with terrorist attacks — said his nation knows "only too well the human costs of violence like this" as he extended prayers to those in Kenya.

"These heartless acts against defenseless civilians, including innocent children, are beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Kenya in its time of grief for these lives lost and the many injured," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.

The gunmen carried AK-47s and wore vests with hand grenades on them, said Manish Turohit, 18, who hid in a parking garage for two hours.

"They just came in and threw a grenade. We were running and they opened fire. They were shouting and firing," he said after marching out of the mall in a line of 15 people who all held their hands in the air.

Dozens of people were wounded. A local hospital was overwhelmed with the number of wounded being brought in hours after the attack and diverted them to a second facility. Officials said Kenyans turned out in droves to donate blood.

The United Nations secretary-general's office said that Ban Ki-moon has spoken with President Uhuru Kenyatta and expressed his concern. British Prime Minister David Cameron also called Kenyatta and offered assistance.

Kenyan authorities said they have thwarted other large-scale attacks targeting public spaces. Kenyan police said in September 2012 they disrupted a major terrorist attack in its final stages of planning, arresting two people with explosive devices and a cache of weapons and ammunition.

Anti-terror Police Unit boss Boniface Mwaniki said vests found were similar to those used in attacks that killed 76 people in Uganda who gathered to watch the soccer World Cup finals on TV in July 2010. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for those bombings, saying the attack was in retaliation for Uganda's participation in the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia.


Resource : yahoo.com

Gold iPhone 5s is a hit

Apple’s decision to build a gold-colored iPhone 5s is about more than just offering another color to consumers. For one thing, the margins are quite high on the device, and the more colors it offers, the more money it can make. But there’s more to the gold iPhone than meets the eye at first blush: it’ll be the bestselling iPhone yet.

As history has proven, Apple’s customers really, really like when the company delivers new colors to its handsets. When Apple started selling the white iPhone, for example, it became an immediate hit.



Now Apple is breaking into the mobile space with a golden iPhone. And I’m here to tell you, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the golden iPhone will quickly establish itself as the bestselling iPhone ever.

View gallery."Why the gold iPhone 5s is a hit
Why the gold iPhone 5s is a hit
So, why might that be? It has everything to do with the color, of course. The device has, as mentioned, the luxury of being the new color on the market, which lends immediate appeal to consumers. And since Apple is pushing the gold color even more than the others, you can bet that all that marketing help will spur more sales.

But perhaps the biggest reason the gold iPhone will be successful has nothing to do with Apple and everything to do with the average consumer’s desire to have a product in their pocket that reflects well upon them.

"What customers want is a device that says something about them"
One of the most important moves Apple has made over the last decade was to bring the technology industry out of the geeky niche it was living in and into the mainstream. Starting with the iPod and then extending to Macs, iPhones, and now iPads, Apple has realized that what customers really want is a great-looking device that says something about them. To own a Mac means a person is stylish and a success. And they want the world to know it.

A gold iPhone is another one of those devices that says something about the person who owns it. I can see the gold iPhone finding its way into the hands of the fashion-minded who want a device that reflects their personality or personal style. It sounds rather cliché to say that an iPhone can be a functional fashion accessory, but believe it or not, it’s exactly that. And more people than ever care about how an iPhone melds into their personal style.

Of course, there’s also a bit of an ego involved here. Some folks just like to show others that they have the latest and greatest iPhone, and the best way to differentiate their purchase from those old, outdated iPhone 5 units is to get the gold color. Don’t think some people think like that? Think again.

In an odd way, smartphone purchases can teach us lessons about each other. There was a time when having technology products was simply for those who wanted to do something and get work done. Nowadays, technology products are an extension of who we are and what we want to convey to the world.

And it’s that reality – the very fact that people want to make a statement with their smartphones – that will make the gold iPhone a winner.

source : yahoo.com

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