Monday, October 31, 2011

Gunman attacks U.S. Embassy in Bosnia (San Jose Mercury News)

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Automotive Rental Guide |

Nearly all of individuals are excited about automotive rentals once they?re on vacation. But what many travels could not know is that car rental within the United States, or North America generally, is completely different than automobile leases in other international locations like Europe.

Automotive rental within the United States is usually quite simple to do. The higher recognized, and perhaps most secure, car rental businesses can simply be found in a cellphone guide like your native White or Yellow Pages. It?s even doable to search out automotive rental companies on the Internet. If you happen to?re in search of an automobile rental in the United States, all you must do is take the phone numbers you learn within the cellphone e-book or online, and call every automotive rental agency. Question for the agency?s location, automotive availability and partnerships with any airways or hotels. Don?t forget to question about any particular deals or rates, like group rates.

Most American automobile rental agencies offer pick-up at no extra price, even when only some advertise this feature. If an automobile rental company would not offer pick-up, then question if the company will reimburse the cost of cab fare.

And do not feel like you must buy further automobile insurance from an American automobile rental agency. Most reps gives you a hard sell on this, but most times it is not necessary. Your automotive rental will usually be coated underneath your own automobile insurance. But if you do not have automobile insurance below your name, it is a excellent thought to accept the provide of car rental insurance coverage from the agency.

In the United States, you will must be not less than 25-years-ancient to have the ability to get an automotive from an automotive rental agency. Some will give you an automobile rental in the event you?re youthful, but you will have to pay an a lot larger cost.

The procedure for automotive rentals in other nations like Europe is normally a small bit different than within the United States. Naturally, for European automobile leases you won?t be capable of look in your local Yellow Pages phone book. But you should be capable to collect all the information you need for arranging an overseas car rental on the Internet.

European or other overseas automotive rentals are often a lot smaller than American automobile rentals. So reduce the quantity of bags you?re taking along. Plus most international automotive leases are stick-shift. The minimum age for automobile rentals in European nations is also 25, but this age varies between car rental companies and countries.

All the time you?ll want to buy further automobile insurance on an overseas automotive rental. Additionally bear in mind that foreign car leases will be very expensive. So can the gas.

Wherever you choose to get an automotive rental, make sure that the vehicle is in excellent shape. Earlier than leaving the automotive rental agency?s lot, look at the automotive for dents, scratches, tears in the upholstery or balding tires. Should you find any, immediately report them to the automobile rental representative. When you don?t, you may be answerable for the costs of those repairs.

Automobile rental is usually a straightforward and handy course of, regardless of what space you are in. Just be sensible, and above all, drive your automobile rental as safely (or more safely) than you?d drive a vehicle you owned.

If you would like additional information with reference to cheap car rentals stop by Nikki Luiryg?s web site in a jiffy.

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Japan?s Softbank profit surges on iPhone sales

Posted by gracelim on Saturday Oct 29, 2011 Under macintosh

For the first time, Samsung Electronics Co. shipped more smartphones in the latest quarter than tech industry darling Apple Inc. On the surface, this may look like a big upset in a world that affords the iPhone maker adulation and outsized expectations. The real reason, however, has more to do with timing and Samsung?s??

Article source: Read More

Related posts:

  1. Softbank counts on iPhone, iPad sales to boost profit
  2. Toshiba Q3 profit surges on smartphone boom
  3. Apple Profit Seen Rising on Record IPad Sales
  4. Microsoft Profit Falls Below Apple?s as IPad Eats Into Sales
  5. SK Telecom First-Quarter Profit Jumps on Smartphone Sales
Tags: Apple, iPad, iPhone, mac


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Sunday, October 30, 2011

New hybrid technology could bring 'quantum information systems'

Friday, October 28, 2011

The merging of two technologies under development - plasmonics and nanophotonics - is promising the emergence of new "quantum information systems" far more powerful than today's computers.

The technology hinges on using single photons the tiny particles that make up light for switching and routing in future computers that might harness the exotic principles of quantum mechanics.

The quantum information processing technology would use structures called "metamaterials," artificial nanostructured media with exotic properties.

The metamaterials, when combined with tiny "optical emitters," could make possible a new hybrid technology that uses "quantum light" in future computers, said Vladimir Shalaev, scientific director of nanophotonics at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center and a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The concept is described in an article to be published Friday (Oct. 28) in the journal Science. The article will appear in the magazine's Perspectives section and was written by Shalaev and Zubin Jacob, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada.

"A seamless interface between plasmonics and nanophotonics could guarantee the use of light to overcome limitations in the operational speed of conventional integrated circuits," Shalaev said.

Researchers are proposing the use of "plasmon-mediated interactions," or devices that manipulate individual photons and quasiparticles called plasmons that combine electrons and photons.

One of the approaches, pioneered at Harvard University, is a tiny nanowire that couples individual photons and plasmons. Another approach is to use hyperbolic metamaterials, suggested by Jacob; Igor Smolyaninov, a visiting research scientist at the University of Maryland; and Evgenii Narimanov, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue. Quantum-device applications using building blocks for such hyperbolic metamaterials have been demonstrated in Shalaev's group.

"We would like to record and read information with single photons, but we need a very efficient source of single photons," Shalaev said. "The challenge here is to increase the efficiency of generation of single photons in a broad spectrum, and that is where plasmonics and metamaterials come in."

Today's computers work by representing information as a series of ones and zeros, or binary digits called "bits."

Computers based on quantum physics would have quantum bits, or "qubits," that exist in both the on and off states simultaneously, dramatically increasing the computer's power and memory. Quantum computers would take advantage of a strange phenomenon described by quantum theory called "entanglement." Instead of only the states of one and zero, there are many possible "entangled quantum states" in between one and zero.

An obstacle in developing quantum information systems is finding a way to preserve the quantum information long enough to read and record it. One possible solution might be to use diamond with "nitrogen vacancies," defects that often occur naturally in the crystal lattice of diamonds but can also be produced by exposure to high-energy particles and heat.

"The nitrogen vacancy in diamond operates in a very broad spectral range and at room temperature, which is very important," Shalaev said.

The work is part of a new research field, called diamond photonics. Hyperbolic metamaterials integrated with nitrogen vacancies in diamond are expected to work as efficient "guns" of single photons generated in a broad spectral range, which could bring quantum information systems, he said.


Purdue University:

Thanks to Purdue University for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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PFT: Cowher-to-Dolphins talk intensifies

Buffalo Bills v Miami DolphinsGetty Images

Predictably, reports have surfaced that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has contacted former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.? Even more predictably, Ross denies that he has contacted Cowher.

?Not true,? Ross said Friday, via David Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.? ?I?m not going to reach out to anyone while Tony [Sparano] is the coach.? I hope he wins and stays the coach.? Neither I nor anyone involved with me has contacted [Cowher], his agent or anyone around him.?

It?s hard to accept that one at face value, for several reasons.? First, it?s hard to accept pretty much anything anyone connected to an NFL team says at face value.? When it comes to on-field and off-field football tactics, the truth often is told only when it happens to mesh with the strategically prudent explanation.? Second, Ross already has shown a willingness not only to contact ?anyone? (cough ? Jim Harbaugh ? cough) while Sparano is the coach, but to fly across the country with the team?s General Manager to meet with said ?anyone.?? Third, in this bizarre separation dance between Ross and Sparano, where Ross possibly has decided to stay the course (at least for now) in the hopes of racking up enough losses to get Andrew Luck and where Sparano possibly sees that and wants to get fired, admitting to conduct that undermines Sparano could give Sparano enough ammunition to claim that he has been constructively discharged, which would allow him to quit ? and also to pursue a buyout of his contract.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, what else was Ross going to say?? ?Yep, I contacted Cowher.? And Gruden.? And I tried Vince Lombardi but they keep saying the number is disconnected or no longer in service.?

Despite these obvious reasons for Ross to deny, Hyde chooses to knock down the reports from guys like Mike Freeman of (who reported that contact had occurred through intermediaries) and Albert Breer of NFL Network (a league employee with an impeccable reputation for accuracy who reported that Ross has contacted Cowher?s agent).? Hyde wonders why Ross would contact Cowher at this stage of the season, given that Ross isn?t competing with anyone for Cowher?s services ? and given that contacting Cowher now could offend him.? ?Make[s] no sense on a lot of levels,? Hyde writes.

Actually, it makes sense on every level.

It?s called gauging interest.? If Cowher, via his agent, says that he?s interested, Ross can put Cowher on the wish list and wait until Sparano is fired to make a move.? If Cowher, via his agent, says that he?d never be interested, Ross can remove Cowher?s name from the list.? If Cowher, via his agent, says that Cowher could be interested if X, Y, and/or Z were to happen, Ross can commence the process of deciding whether he can and will make X, Y, and/or Z happen.

Given the extremely clumsy manner in which the Dolphins pursued Harbaugh in January, it makes sense that the Dolphins would begin lining up potential candidates now, and that they would do so in a somewhat clumsy manner, allowing word of the courtship to make its way to the media.

Here?s what Ross should have done.? He should have limited the information regarding any contact with Cowher?s agent to only a handful of people ? ideally, only one person other than himself.? And the message to Cowher?s agent (or whomever has been contacted) should have been clear and direct:? If word of this gets out, we?ll deny it, and we?ll remove you from consideration.

But the Dolphins are both clumsy and desperate right now, so they won?t be doing things discreetly and they won?t be issuing the kinds of ultimatums that ensure complete discretion.? As Ross essentially admitted when the Harbaugh fiasco blew up in the Fins? faces, Ross isn?t schooled in these nuances of NFL teams.

And it shows.? On every level.


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Cruise ship docks in Boston with 2 dead passengers (Providence Journal)

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sen. Marco Rubio to promote jobs in Tampa, 2 other cities (tbo)

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Step toward unraveling Alzheimer's disease

ScienceDaily (Oct. 27, 2011) ? Scientists outline new methods for better understanding links between specific proteins and the risks associated with Alzheimer's disease in an article co-authored by University of Alabama researchers and publishing in Science Express.

In experiments using a series of model organisms, including yeast, microscopic roundworms and rats, the researchers show how basic mechanisms inside cells are disrupted when a specific human protein, known as the amyloid beta peptide, fails to properly fold. This study also shows the role a second protein, referred to by the scientists as PICALM, can play in modifying the problem.

"By using these yeast models, in combination with worms, we really are hopeful of finding a way by which we can understand and maybe combat Alzheimer's disease more rapidly," said Dr. Guy Caldwell, professor of biological sciences at The University of Alabama and one of three UA-authors on the Science article.

The research involved scientists from several universities and research institutes, including the Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the lead author, Dr. Sebastian Treusch, is affiliated. Treusch works in the lab of Dr. Susan Lindquist, a renowned expert in cell biology and collaborator with Caldwell on a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that funded part of this research.

While the repeated misfoldings of amyloid beta peptides within the human brain were previously known to trigger the death of neurons, resulting in Alzheimer's, Caldwell says the underlying mechanisms of toxicity weren't as well understood.

Properly functioning cells must efficiently deliver proteins and chemicals to other parts of the cell, Caldwell said. This research shows how the amyloid beta peptide interrupts a specific cellular pathway called endocytosis, preventing the delivery of other needed proteins to other parts of the cell.

"Understanding what is going wrong inside a cell, or what pathways or proteins might be directly linked to the mechanisms that are involved in Alzheimer's, is really a much more fruitful strategy for drug development."

Information drawn from the brains of deceased Alzheimer's patients, who previously donated their bodies to science, was also significant in the effort, Caldwell said.

Rapid advances in DNA sequencing methods and human genetic population studies are generating an overwhelming number of leads for researchers; those genetic studies, taken in combination with advantageous attributes of simple organisms, can reveal basic functions of genes and proteins and can be an insightful combination, Caldwell says.

"What this paper shows is that simple systems, like yeast and worms, can be engineered to discern mechanisms that might be associated with complex human diseases, and, by that, we may accelerate the path of discovery for advancing therapeutics for those diseases."

UA's lead author is Dr. Shusei Hamamichi, a former post-doctoral researcher in the Caldwell lab who earned his doctorate at UA while working alongside Caldwell and Dr. Kim Caldwell, also a co-author of the paper and an associate professor of biological sciences at UA.

In the paper's conclusion, the researchers describe the potential significance of the development in light of the challenges faced in understanding and treating Alzheimer's disease.

"The treatments available for AD are few and their efficacy limited," the scientists wrote. "Determining how best to rescue neuronal function in the context of the whole brain is a problem of staggering proportions."

"On a personal level," Caldwell said, "so many of us have been affected by family or loved ones who have suffered from Alzheimer's. It's a great privilege for us to be able to contribute to the respective avenues of our understanding of the disease. It's a devastating disorder. The societal cost of Alzheimer's disease is tremendous."

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. Sebastian Treusch, Shusei Hamamichi, Jessica L. Goodman, Kent E. S. Matlack, Chee Yeun Chung, Valeriya Baru, Joshua M. Shulman, Antonio Parrado, Brooke J. Bevis, Julie S. Valastyan, Haesun Han, Malin Lindhagen-Persson, Eric M. Reiman, Denis A. Evans, David A. Bennett, Anders Olofsson, Philip L. Dejager, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Kim A. Caldwell, Guy A. Caldwell, Susan Lindquist. Functional Links Between A? Toxicity, Endocytic Trafficking, and Alzheimer?s Disease Risk Factors in Yeast. Science, 2011; DOI: 10.1126/science.1213210

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.


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iPads and Angry Birds are headed to the International Space Station (Yahoo! News)

Astronauts will enjoy some down time with Apple's tablet

Many of us may dream of what it would be like to visit space, or even spend a night in a hotel room orbiting earth, but passing the time once you're actually there may have never crossed your mind. It appears that even astronauts get a wee bit bored every now and again, and to help keep them busy, the crew of the International Space Station will soon take delivery of the planet's most popular tablet ? Apple's iPad.

On October 30, the Russian space program will launch a resupply vehicle towards the ISS to deliver some much needed supplies, as well as a pair of iPad tablets. The new slates will be used strictly for entertainment purposes, and they will join other Apple products already on board, such as a number of iPods and an iPhone.

While we have to imagine there will be plenty of Angry Birds played during slow evenings aboard the complex, a manned flight to the station on November 14 will add even more avian excitement. A trio of Russian cosmonauts will carry an Angry Birds plush toy along with them on their ride skyward, using it as a zero-gravity indicator. We can only pray that Birds developer Rovio takes a cue and lets us get in on the interstellar fun.


This article originally appeared on Tecca

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Jackson dependent on painkiller, trial expert says (Reuters)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) ? Michael Jackson was getting large regular shots of a painkiller, along with Botox treatments, in the months before his death, a Los Angeles court heard on Thursday.

But in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, stemming from Jackson's 2009 overdose death, addiction specialist Dr. Robert Waldman could not say unequivocally whether he believed the singer was addicted to the painkiller.

Waldman was testifying as an expert witness for the defense as it neared wrapping up its case. The claim by Murray's attorneys that the "Thriller" singer was addicted to various drugs and that he engaged in "doctor shopping" is a central part of the defense strategy.

Murray has admitted to giving Jackson nearly daily doses of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid at the singer's Los Angeles mansion, and medical examiners found that was the chief cause of his June 25, 2009, death.

But Murray's attorneys argue that the physician was unaware that the singer was getting shots of the addictive painkiller Demerol from a Beverly Hills dermatologist, and that it hampered Murray's efforts to get him to sleep.

Waldman said side-effects of Demerol withdrawal include anxiety and insomnia.

According to medical records presented on Thursday, Jackson received 900 milligrams of Demerol over three days in May 2009, from dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein.

Klein's records show he also gave Jackson Botox and Restylane for wrinkles and excess perspiration for several months in 2009. Waldman described the Demerol shots as "stiff doses" that were not needed with skin treatment injections.

"I believe there is evidence that he was dependent on Demerol," Waldman said of Jackson, adding that the pop star was "possibly" addicted to the painkiller.

But during an aggressive cross-examination by prosecutors, Waldman could not say for certain that Jackson was addicted to the drug. He also acknowledged that he was not officially certified as an addiction specialist.

Dependence is characterized by a physical need for a drug, while addiction is more serious because it also involves a person continuing with destructive behavior and use of a substance, despite bad consequences, Waldman said.

Murray's attorneys argue that on the day the singer died, Jackson gave himself an extra, fatal dose of propofol.

The doctor, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Mohammad Zargham)


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Friday, October 28, 2011

LG Marquee (Sprint)

Upon first glance, the LG Marquee ($99.99, direct) looks like any number of other Android cell phones. But a closer look reveals something special: an exceptionally bright, crisp screen. Aside from a major video playback bug, this is a solid phone if you're looking for the best screen and physical design for the least amount of cash.?

Design, Screen, and Call Quality
This is a sleek phone. The Marquee measures 4.8 by 2.5 by 0.36 inches (HWD) and weighs just under four ounces. It's made entirely of glossy plastic, with the exception of the glass screen. The tapered back panel features a thin, vertical line pattern.

The 4-inch, 480-by-800-pixel NOVA capacitive touch screen is a sight to behold. It uses IPS LCD technology, just like the iPhone 4's Retina display. But it's even brighter, impossible as that may seem. LG quotes it at 700 nits of brightness; Apple says the iPhone clocks in at 500 nits. Next to a Verizon iPhone 4's Retina display, the Marquee looks about as bright, and had slightly more vivid color. Yellows and whites are more pronounced on the Marquee, even in direct sunlight, although both displays are equally readable otherwise. Both phones shame the Super AMOLED-based Samsung Infuse 4G on AT&T ($99, 3.5 stars), especially in direct sun. Viewing angles on the Marquee are solid, but again, roughly equivalent to the iPhone 4.

The Marquee is a dual-band EV-DO Rev. A (850/1900 MHz) device with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. There's no 4G WiMAX support. The Marquee also works as a mobile hotspot for up to five devices with the appropriate plan. Call quality was good, if not spectacular; callers sounded warm and full in the earpiece, with little static. There wasn't enough volume, though; this isn't the phone to get if you spend a lot of time outdoors in noisy environments. Transmissions through the mic were a little thin, but clear, and reception was above average.

Calls sounded good through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset ($129, 4 stars). Voice dialing was a failure; it took about 10 seconds to start up each time, and never registered any commands once the display changed to "Listening?" The speakerphone went surprisingly loud, although it had a harsh, grainy tone at the maximum setting. Battery life was average at 5 hours and 48 minutes of talk time?

Apps, Multimedia, and Conclusions
The 1GHz single-core TI OMAP 3630 Cortex A8 processor and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS keep things moving along at a decent clip. LG left the OS relatively unscathed, so it's mercifully simple to navigate. Sprint ID is also on board; it lets you customize any of the five home screen panels with various downloadable theme packs from Sprint, such as MTV Music, Fashion and Beauty, Green, and NASCAR Sprint Cup. Otherwise, the Marquee is a fairly standard Android device with all the usual features, including an excellent WebKit browser with Flash support, GPS with free Google Maps Navigation for voice-enabled, turn by turn directions, and access to the Android Market, which now features over 250,000 third-party apps.

There's a memory card slot underneath the battery cover; my 32GB SanDisk card worked fine, and LG includes a 2GB card in the box. There's also a generous 2.79GB of free internal storage space. The standard-size 3.5mm headphone jack is welcome. Music tracks sounded clear, if thin, through Samsung Modus HM6450 Bluetooth headphones ($99, 4 stars). Standalone videos played smoothly in full screen mode and looked especially vibrant, even transcoded 720p files. However, a huge bug marred all video playback: Audio was out of sync by a full second on all files I tried.

The 5-megapixel auto-focus camera includes an LED flash. Test photos looked good overall, with reasonable sharpness, detail, and light balance, both indoors and out. Indoor shots on a cloudy day still looked fine, with some shadowy areas but surprisingly little grain. Recorded 720p (1280-by-720-pixel) videos played smoothly at 24 frames per second; they looked okay, but could have been sharper and brighter. A 2-megapixel, front-facing camera handles video chats.

Overall, the Marquee is a solid effort. It's a shame about the bugs, because it could have been a shoo-in for a budget Android phone recommendation. The Samsung Conquer 4G ($99, 4 stars) is a good comparison point; for the same price, you get 4G data speeds and a faster 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, but step down to a dimmer, lower-resolution screen and a more pedestrian overall design.

If you can bump up your budget by $50, the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch ($149.99, 4 stars) adds a beautifully vibrant, 4.5-inch LCD screen and a top-end 1.2GHz Exynos processor in addition to 4G data speeds. The Motorola Photon 4G ($199, 4.5 stars), has an even higher resolution display, better voice quality, and works with an optional desktop dock. Finally, if you're not beholden to Android, the Apple iPhone 4S ($199, 4.5 stars) is the best cameraphone and portable game console on the market, and its app catalog is second to none.

Continuous talk time: 5 hours 48 minutes

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Tax dispute sparks east China street protests (Reuters)

HUZHOU, China (Reuters) ? More than a thousand people flooded the streets of a town in eastern China's Zhejiang province Thursday night, smashing cars and facing riot police as they extended earlier protests sparked by a dispute between tax officials and a store owner.

At around 8 p.m. in the center of Zhili township near Huzhou city, protesters -- most from neighboring Anhui province -- marched toward the local government offices, overturning cars and shouting: "People of Anhui, unite!"

Protests began Wednesday when a children's clothing store owner from Anhui refused to make tax payments to local officials and then mustered other shop keepers to rally in support and attack the officials, state-run news site Zhejiang Online reported.

That dispute spilled on to the street and drew more than 600 people, the report said, with protesters hurling rocks, smashing traffic lights, billboards and cars, and injuring several public security personnel before police dispersed the crowds.

Chinese leaders, obsessed with maintaining stability, have struggled to balance growth with persistent public discontent, often stemming from corruption, pollution and illegal land grabs winked at by local officials looking to boost development.

Pictures posted earlier Thursday to China's Twitter-like microblogging service, Sina's Weibo, showed large crowds blocking traffic and shield-toting riot police marching through the streets. One photo showed a public security bus engulfed in flames.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the authenticity of the images.

At midday, a Huzhou government propaganda official, who declined to be identified, said by telephone that the incident had "quieted down."

But as the unrest erupted again Thursday night, details were murky about the protesters' impetus, though many cited mistreatment of people from Anhui.

"We are angry at the government. Some people were beaten up, some people were knocked down by a car. They (the government) are not giving us any reply. We have to continue (protesting)," one young man from Anhui said.

An hour after the latest bout of protests, truckloads of armed police, advancing with riot shields and batons, largely dispersed the crowd and sealed of the town center.

Searches for Zhili on Weibo had been blocked, though photos of the riots could be found through other search terms.

Most outbursts of unrest in China are small, local-level protests by farmers, workers and other disgruntled groups.

But such protests have heightened anxieties among China's senior leaders determined to defend one-party rule ahead of a leadership transition late next year, when President Hu Jintao is expected to step down as head of the Communist Party.

Top officials have also promised to tighten control of social media, such as microblogs that provide instant and often viral accounts of unrest and official misconduct.

(Writing and additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and Sisi Tang in Hong Kong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


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TiPb Asks: What apps are on your main iPhone 4S home screen?

What apps have earned a coveted spot on your main iPhone 4S home screen? Is it still default, just as Apple shipped it? Or have you moved everything around just so, including the dock icons? Do you organize by function or type of app, or by aesthetics...


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Beating Three Nines With A Hand Full Of Jokers (Balloon Juice)

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Increasing Post Length

To start off, I'm going to quote a rather commonly spoken phrase. ?Quality over quantity.?

With that said, this is something you should always keep in mind when trying to add length to your posts. A common mistake made by people trying to add length, is that instead of adding more content to their post, they try to add filler to stretch their content out. This can result in an over abundance of details rather than getting your information across clearly and concisely.

Here's a few ideas I like to utilize to get more length to posts.

Collaborative writing: This is one of the best methods of increasing content per post. It essentially allows more than writer to work on a single post, and you give each other content to play off from. It creates an exchange of actions, rather than big blocks of actions with no natural flow. Actions and dialogue (even in real life) are a constant series of interruptions and reactions to our environment and the people around us. If there's nothing going on around us, our actions are limited. This holds true for a post as well.

Multi-charactering: For solo writing, another good method of increasing content is simply to increase the number of interactions going on. This can be done through character dialogue or through NPCs. Either way, it creates rapid exchanges of content and provides more information to react to.

Introspect: When all else fails and your character is actually placed in a situation in which they genuinely have nothing to respond to (Example: A prison cell), then you can always utilize introspective thoughts to add content. However, care must be taken with introspect to ensure that it's used in the right time and place. Utilizing this outside of appropriate moments can quickly bore your readers or draw too much attention away from the overall story.

Essentially, when you get down to it, to get more length, you want more content for your character to react to. If you add length without extra content, you end up over-writing. So using your post example, here's some ideas to increase post length.

A phone call: This adds a new variable to the post (the caller could be written by you, or a friend) and provides more content for your character to react to.

Power outage: That's certainly going to give something to react to.

Sibling interruption: Same idea as the phone call.

Realization that the character is late for something: Quick way to wrap up while diving into a new series of actions/reactions.

Note: To avoid excess clutter, try to make sure that the extra content you're using to get longer posts, is in some way relevant to the story. If it's not, then chances are, you didn't need to write it. Anyways. Hope this helps. :)


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NASA Plan for Private Space Taxis Hasn't Won Over Lawmakers (

The projected costs and benefits of helping to develop commercial spaceships, part of NASA's plan to focus on exploration rather than transportation, drew skepticism today (Oct. 26) from members of a House panel.

While leaders of various commercial space companies spoke up for their industry's prospects in front of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, lawmakers questioned whether there will be enough of a market in space transportation and tourism to justify taxpayer investment in new, private vehicles. Such ships will need more customers besides NASA astronauts to be profitable, the lawmakers said.

"NASA seemingly takes the position of 'Build it and they will come,'" said committee chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas). "From my perspective, the business case is not very compelling."

Bailout in space?

If there are no customers beyond NASA to purchase seats on these new spaceships, it "could put the government in the position of supporting, or bailing out, commercial companies" in order to preserve a national space transportation capability, Hall said.

In response, Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), said he "will personally guarantee" that taxpayers won't have to bail out his company. [Top 10 Fantasy Spaceships Headed for Reality]

Other commercial executives, representing Boeing, Sierra Nevada Space Systems, ATK Space Launch Systems and United Launch Alliance, said their businesses would be successful even if NASA were the only customer for their space transportation services.

But they also mentioned other likely sources of income for their private space taxis, such as cargo transportation and satellite servicing, as well as selling rides to private citizens and to astronauts from countries without their own space programs.

"It's been demonstrated that there are individuals that would pay to fly to the space station," said John Elbon, vice president and general manger of Boeing's Space Exploration Division. "There are also other countries in the world that would like to have their own space program but can't afford the infrastructure associated with that."

Cheaper alternatives

The lawmakers added that these private spacecraft, once they became available for trips to the International Space Station, might not be significantly cheaper than the current mode of transport: Russia's Soyuz spacecraft. In fact, they eventually might be more expensive, they claimed.

Russia currently charges about $63 million per seat for a ride on its Soyuz, and the prices are likely to rise to $80 million in the future. The cost of a ride on commercial American space taxis won't be clear until the vehicles are fully built.

"It certainly appears that we're paying a lot more per seat than we're paying the Russians now," Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) said. "It sounds like it's a lot more expensive than the deal we have now."

Bill Gersteinmaier, NASA'sassociate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said commercial spacecraft probably will be able to offer a cheaper alternative to the Soyuz.

Musk even went on the record to say his company could bring the ticket price per astronaut down to $20 million.

Whatever the final price for space taxi seats, it will come on top of the roughly $6 billion NASA will have spent underwriting the ships' development.

"We have to decide whether it's worth paying a $6 billion premium in taxpayer dollars in order to make a domestic ISS transportation system available," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas). "I would rather not pay money to the Russians either, but I will find it hard to justify."

Subsidizing a monopoly

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) raised another concern about the commercial crew program: Why should taxpayers fund development of private vehicles that will then belong to private companies and not to the U.S. government?

"It seems to me that we're running on a course of eventually the taxpayers subsidizing a monopoly," Edwards said. She said the country could end up footing an even bigger bill by renting services from companies that relied on significant taxpayer money to develop their products.

Gerstenmaier responded that those companies would also be investing much of their own money. "The return for the taxpayer is we get a service at a lower price," he said. "The return for the company is they have a product" that they can then sell to as many customers as they can find.

Still open-minded

Not all the panelists were so hard on the private space firms.

"I have been surprised by a number of things in my 24 years here in Congress, but one of the things I've been surprised the most about is the hostility that seems to be expressed" toward commercial space companies, said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). "I consider this to be a historic moment for our country. This anti-commercial space attitude that I see, I think it could have very grave consequences."

And despite their opposition to aspects of the plan, many lawmakers expressed support for what the companies are aiming to do.

"The companies appearing before us are doing exciting work, and they're a great example of American industry's capacity for innovation," Johnson said.

"For all my seeming skepticism, I'm willing to be convinced I'm wrong," Hall said, "and I hope I'm wrong."

You can follow senior writer Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz. Follow for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Is Fun (talking-points-memo)

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Remember Netbooks? No One Else Does, Either [Factoid]

We'd already said that netbooks are dead, but it was maybe more accurate then to say that they were dying. Now, not only have netbook shipments precipitously declined, they're getting positively banged out by tablets. As they should. More »


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Deadly flooding in Central America: how people contributed to the tragedy

Hurricane Rina has formed off of the Caribbean coast of Central America as the region digs out from floods that killed more than 100 people. Guest blogger Tim Muth looks at the role that humans play in such tragedies.

The floods of this month in El Salvador were extraordinary. But when we look at the consequences of the floods, it is clear that calling this a "natural" disaster excuses too easily the role of humankind in contributing to the tragedy. There are several places where the actions or inactions of human beings had a role:

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Global climate change. Weather scientists asked about the flooding rains of October opined that the rains were an example of the more extreme and variable weather events produced by global climate change. The charts I have posted in this blog showing rain totals of other weather events in El Salvador certainly seem to show that the past decade has been significantly worse than the preceding 40 years. The carbon emissions of an industrialized world have created an imbalance producing life-threatening weather events in ever-increasing frequency.

Structural poverty. In the pictures from the flooding in El Salvador and the rest of Central America, you do not see any photos of the homes of the middle and upper classes ? you see champas of scrap wood and corrugated tin. You do not see manicured lawns under water ? you see the tiny milpas of the campesino farmer. You do not see a submerged Lexus ? you see the water flowing over an ox cart. You do not see the bank manager sitting in a school which has been converted into a shelter ? you see the single mother with two children who sells trinkets on the side of the street.

These flood disasters which hit El Salvador on a regular basis disproportionately affect the poor because they can only afford to build their dwellings in places where they are at risk. So they end up living in the flood plains, along the gullies which can flash flood, and in communities where a mudslide can block access along the one unimproved road.

Salvadoran Catholic bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez has proclaimed that the disaster caused by the rains demonstrated "the economic vulnerability, that is to say the poverty so many of our countrymen live immersed within, the social vulnerability, characterized by the structural injustice and the ecological vulnerability, for which the great fault lies in the wild ambition that rages against God's creation, this house of all of us which is deteriorating more each day."

The role of hydroelectric projects. Some are certainly blaming the flooding of the Lower Lempa River on the dams built on the river and the periods of enormous water discharge through the September 15 dam. It's hard to know what would have happened if there were no dams on the river. Generating clean electric power is also important for the country as is the flood control on the river.

The failure to complete risk-mitigation projects. The areas where there were floods and landslides in El Salvador are all places known to be at risk, because they have flooded or collapsed before. In part, the fact that the risks are well understood contributed to a relatively low loss of life in these floods ? communities could be evacuated because the coming dangers were foreseeable. But since these risks were foreseeable, why was so little done to eliminate the risks in the first place? I remember standing near the community of Puerto Parada in the summer of 2010 where flood waters from the Rio Grande de San Miguel had just about dried up. Someone pointed to where the levee along the river had burst to allow in the flood waters. In the past two weeks, I have seen the video of the water again flowing through Puerto Parada as the levee burst again. This same story is repeated in many areas in El Salvador. The government has not done enough to mitigate the foreseeable risks.


Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, replanting fields, and treating water borne illnesses will all be an important part of flood relief in the coming days, weeks, and months. But until the underlying structural problems are addressed and the risks are mitigated, I fear this tragedy will repeat itself. And with global climate change, the repeat event may come much sooner than El Salvador can ever afford.

--- Tim Muth covers the news and politics of El Salvador at his blog, Tim's El Salvador Blog.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking the pulse of charge-separation processes

Monday, October 24, 2011

The use of organic photovoltaics for the production of electricity from sunlight offers an attractive and promising basis for an innovative and environmentally friendly means of energy supply. They can be manufactured quite economically and, because they are as bendable as plastic wrap, they can be processed flexibly. The problem is that they are yet markedly less efficient than conventional inorganic semiconductor cells. The most crucial process in the conversion of light into electric current is the generation of free charge carriers. In the first step of photoconversion, upon absorption of light one component of the organic solar cell, usually a polymer, releases electrons that are taken up by the second component of the cell - in this case silicon nanoparticles - and can then be transported further.

"The mechanisms and the timescale of charge separation have been the subject of controversial scientific debate for many years," says LMU physics professor Eberhard Riedle. In cooperation with investigators at the Technical University in Munich and at Bayreuth University, Riedle and his group have now been able to dissect the process in detail. To do so, the researchers used a novel hybrid cell type containing both organic and inorganic constituents, in which silicon serves as the electron acceptor. Based on the insights obtained with this system, they developed a processing strategy to improve the structural order of the polymer - and found that this enhances the efficiency of charge separation in organic semiconductors by up to twofold. Their findings provide a new way to optimize the performance of organic solar cells.

The key to this breakthrough lies in a unique, laser-based experimental setup, which combines extremely high temporal resolution of 40 femtoseconds (fs) with a very broadband detection. This allowed the team to follow the ultrafast processes induced by photon absorption in real time as they occur. Instead of the fullerenes used in typical organic cells, the researchers used silicon as the electron acceptor, a choice that has two major advantages.

"First, with these novel hybrid solar cells, we were able to probe the photophysical processes taking place in the polymer with greater precision than ever before, and secondly through the use of silicon, a much larger segment of the solar spectrum can be harnessed for electricity," says Riedle.

It turns out that free charge carriers ? so called polarons ? are not generated immediately upon photoexcitation, but with a delay of about 140 fs. Primary photoexcitation of a polymer molecule first leads to the formation of an excited state, called an exciton. This then dissociates, releasing an electron, which is then transferred to the electron acceptor. The loss of electrons leaves behind positively charged "holes" in the polymer and, as oppositely charged entities are attracted to one another by the Coulomb force, the two have a tendency to recombine.

"In order to obtain free charge carriers, electron and hole must both be sufficiently mobile to overcome the Coulomb force," explains Daniel Herrmann, the first author of the new study. The team was able to show, for the first time, that this is much easier to achieve in polymers with an ordered, regular structure than with polymers that are chaotically arranged. In other words, a high degree of self-organization of the polymer significantly increases the efficiency of charge separation.

"The polymer that we used is one of the few known to have a tendency to self-organize. This tendency can be inhibited, but one can also increase the polymer's intrinsic propensity for self-organization by choosing appropriate processing parameters," Herrmann explains. By cleverly optimizing the processing of the polymer P3HT, the researchers succeeded in doubling the yield of free charge carriers ? and thereby significantly enhancing the efficiency of their experimental solar cells.


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen:

Thanks to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit?t M?nchen for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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AG Holder: Some in Alabama ignoring immigrant past

Rev. Calvin Woods laughs as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a remembrance service for the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. Family and friends gathered with dignitaries including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to remember the life and legacy of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth who died Oct. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Jeff Roberts)

Rev. Calvin Woods laughs as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a remembrance service for the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. Family and friends gathered with dignitaries including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to remember the life and legacy of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth who died Oct. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Jeff Roberts)

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's children, widow, and others sing during his memorial service Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Birmingham,Ala. at Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood where he was a pastor from 1953-1961. He was a civil rights leader who helped transform Birmingham by challenging its racial segregation laws. This memorial was the first of several. His final service will be Monday. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Tamika Moore)

Members of the Birmingham Police Department and Birmingham Fire and Rescue escort Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's casket and family members from Bethel Baptist Church to the new Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood of Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Michelle Campbell)

Fred Shuttlesworth's widow Sephira Shuttlesworth holds her hand over the casket during the march from Bethel Baptist Church to the new Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood of Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.(AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Michelle Campbell)

LaVerne Revis Martin signs a guest book as visitors wait to pay their respects to Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, during a public visitation Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Birmingham,Ala., at Bethel Baptist Church in the Collegeville neighborhood. She was born and raised in Collegeville and was once Shuttleworth's neighbor when he was a pastor there from 1953 to 1961. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News,Tamika Moore)

(AP) ? When a little-known black Baptist preacher named Martin Luther King took the helm of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1955, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was already in Birmingham trying to start a movement, but nobody was paying attention.

Shuttlesworth was from a small church. His credentials and pedigree made it easy for local whites to dismiss him as a radical. Until King came to Birmingham, Shuttlesworth couldn't get the national press to recognize his city as the embodiment of the horrors of the segregated South.

He was just another black preacher getting beat up, said former Atlanta mayor, congressman and United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, who worked alongside King and Shuttlesworth in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. All three men helped establish the organization in 1957.

"They were sued together, they helped organize SCLC together," Young said of King and Shuttlesworth. "He wanted the spotlight very much, but there wasn't but one Martin Luther King."

It was King who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and went on to become the icon of the civil rights movement. Shuttlesworth, who was overshadowed in life by his comrade in the movement, was again eclipsed by King in death.

Though he died nearly three weeks ago, Shuttlesworth is only now being buried. The reason for the delay: The dedication of the King Memorial on the National Mall, sending most of Shuttlesworth's civil rights colleagues to Washington last weekend.

Had they not been there, they would have likely been in Birmingham remembering Shuttlesworth.

"His friends and Martin's friends were the same," Young said. "But you don't have two memorials at the same time if you want your friends to come." Shuttlesworth's funeral will be Monday.

On Sunday there was a pastoral remembrance at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church, where four black girls were killed in a bombing before Sunday services on September 15, 1963.

The nation's first black U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, called Shuttlesworth a warrior for justice and advocate for peace who has left behind a legacy for the country to follow.

Holder used the occasion to point out Alabama's strict new immigration, considered the toughest crackdown in the national. He said too many in Alabama "are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past" and he would not let that happen. The Obama administration is among the parties suing the state to block the law.

There was also candlelight vigil for Shuttlesworth across the street in Kelly Ingram Park, made famous the same year when news footage of policemen and firemen unleashing dogs and blasting water hoses on defenseless civil rights marchers was broadcast to a shocked international audience.

Long before the television cameras arrived, Shuttlesworth was there, organizing many such nonviolent protests.

Shuttlesworth survived a Christmas 1956 bombing that destroyed his home, an assault during a 1957 protest, chest injuries when Birmingham authorities turned the hoses on demonstrators in 1963 and countless arrests. He moved to Ohio to pastor a church in the early 1960s, but returned frequently to Alabama for key protests. He came back to live in the Birmingham area after he retired a few years ago.

"He was able to see how the civil rights struggle kept reinventing itself in different forms," said Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution."

"He was always there to make it clear that this was a continuous struggle."

McWhorter said she never got the sense that Shuttlesworth was bitter about King overpowering the narrative of the movement, and that he never badmouthed King to her.

"He had a huge ego ... but he never said anything like, 'Oh, I should've been the leader of the movement,'" she said. "He kind of recognized that he couldn't have done what King did. But he was just such a key ingredient that it couldn't have happened without him, either."

In his 1963 book "Why We Can't Wait," King himself called Shuttlesworth "one of the nation's most courageous freedom fighters."

After Shuttlesworth's death on Oct. 5 ? the same week the Rev. Joseph Lowery turned 89 and the Rev. Jesse Jackson turned 70 ? Alabama lowered its state flags to half-mast.

"I really do feel like he has sort of gotten his due more and more over the last number of years," McWhorter said. "Partly because he's outlasted everybody, with distinction and class."

Young agreed that Shuttlesworth ultimately received his due, and is recognized as one of the true heroes of the movement. Besides, he pointed out, attention is no substitute for longevity.

"Yes, Martin overshadowed him," Young said of Shuttlesworth. "But he got to live to 89. Martin didn't make it to 40."

Associated Press


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Berlin: The Birth Place Of The Next Facebook?

berlin-visitingTechCrunch TV recently featued Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution, who argues that Europe will be the next cradle of innovation. To that end, we're increasingly finding VCs in Europe looking for the best hubs for those innovators. And we recently argued that the axis of power was swinging behind both London and Berlin. But EarlyBird Capital was the first VC to open an office in Berlin this year and others like Accel and Index have become regular visitors. Below, Roberto Bonanzinga, partner at Balderton Capital, argues why he thinks Berlin could produce the next Facebook.


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