Watching risk of bank system impact from Europe: Bank of Japan chief

Watching-risk-of-bank-system-impact-from-Europe Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said on Monday he was continuing to monitor the risk that Europe's debt woes could affect Japan's banking system, just as renewed fears about the euro zone spooked financial markets.

"Japan's financial system has maintained stability as a whole, but close watch is still needed on risk factors such as a spillover from Europe's situation," Shirakawa said at a gathering of trust banks.

The euro slumped broadly on Monday as soaring bond yields in Spain rekindled worries about the fragile state of the euro zone economy, while broad risk-averse sentiment lifted the yen to a seven-week high against the dollar.

Shirakawa maintained the view, however, that the risk of major turmoil in global financial markets has subsided, thanks to massive fund supplies by the European Central Bank and Greece's rescue program.

He also stuck to the central bank's projection of a moderate recovery for Japan's economy and indicated the bank will maintain a ultra-loose policy bias to help pull Japan out of deflation following the BOJ's surprise February easing.

"In February, we clarified our policy bias and boosted monetary easing. As such, the BOJ is making its utmost efforts to escape deflation," Shirakawa said in a speech at an event hosted by the Trust Companies Association of Japan.

The BOJ surprised markets in February by boosting its target for asset purchases by double the usual increment and setting a 1 percent inflation goal, signaling a more aggressive policy to beat deflation, which has plagued the economy for nearly two decades.

The central bank has kept monetary policy steady since then but will consider easing at its next rate review on April 27 by boosting asset purchases, sources say.

(Reporting by Rie Ishiguro; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Richard Borsuk)

2007 Peugeot 908 Le Mans Race Car Heading to RM Auctions

2007-peugeot-908-le-mans-main RM Auctions will have a 2007 Peugeot 908 Le Mans race car up for auction on May 12 with an estimated selling price between $1.9 million and $2.4 million.

Powered by a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine, the legitimate race car has over 700-hp mated to a six-speed sequential manual paddle-shift gearbox. The chassis consists of a closed carbon fiber cockpit and this particular race car was actually the first 908 to win a race at Monza. The team also managed a second place finish at the Nürburgring in Germany.

The race car would go on to win twice more, once at Silverstone and once at Interlagos. It is the first 908 ever to pass into private hands and is sold directly from PSA. The company agreed to provide the buyer with the required technical assistance for a period of three years, with the service provided at the current rate charged for Peugeot Sport technical assistance.

It is indeed a rare opportunity to own any race car, nevermind this number-2 Peugeot 908 Le Mans competitor. Whoever the lucky bidder is not only gets a great machine, but an important part of racing history.

Auto Guide

Simon Cowell Banged Dannii Minogue

SIMON-Cowell The music mogul claims he was “like a schoolboy” for Dannii who he started sleeping with after she joined the panel The X Factor in the UK alongside him in 2007.

“I had a crush on her. It was Dannii’s hair, the sexy clothes, and the tits,” Cowell said in an unauthorized biography, Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell.

“I was like a schoolboy. She was foxy. She was a real man’s girl. Very feminine. It was genuine love.

“After Terri Seymour, I wasn’t ready for another relationship.

“I would have liked an affair with Cheryl Cole [but] I felt like a mouse being played with by a beautiful cat.

“She would come in dressed in her tracksuit and her slippers, drop her eyes and play the soulful victim to get around me. She played me. I adored her.”

Showbiz Spy

Courtney Love Apologizes to Daughter About Dave Grohl Tirade

wenn2869760 Courtney Love likes to make it public when it comes to her private affairs, including an apology to her daughter. The troubled singer said sorry via Twitter to Frances Bean Cobain on Saturday, April 14 morning for accusing Dave Grohl of hitting on the teen.

"Bean, sorry I believed the gossip," Love tweeted. "Mommy loves you." This time Love used her real Twitter account instead of her locked private account @cbabymichelle in which she threatened to kill Grohl. "I hear from frannies roommate that @davegrohl hit on frances, and that she was curious, I'm not mad at her, him I am about to shoot, dead," Love wrote earlier this week.

Bean later released an official statement against her mother's words, saying "While I'm generally silent on the affairs of my biological mother, her recent tirade has taken a gross turn. I have never been approached by Dave Grohl in more than a platonic way. I'm in a monogamous relationship and very happy."

Bean, who is reportedly engaged to The Rambles frontman Isaiah Silva, wanted Love to be banned from Twitter.


Israel moves to thwart pro-Palestinian fly-in

Israel moved to block an influx of pro-Palestinian activists planning to visit the occupied West Bank, drafting a letter from the Prime Minister's Office suggesting they focus instead on "real problems" in the Middle East, officials said on Saturday.

Some 1,200 Palestinian supporters throughout Europe have bought plane tickets for an April 15 visit to the West Bank as part of a campaign called "Welcome to Palestine".

Organizers said the aim was to help open an international school and a museum, but Israel has denounced the activists as provocateurs and said it would deny entry to anyone who threatened public order.

On Saturday, Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, said that hundreds of police officers had been deployed in and around Ben Gurion airport, Israel's main gateway to the world.

"We are expecting hundreds of activists throughout Sunday. Some will be sent back to their countries. As part of normal procedure, they will be questioned and each case will be decided upon individually," Rosenfeld said.

An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said the Immigration Authority had on Wednesday given airlines the names of some 1,200 activists whose entrance to Israel has been barred.

Leehee Rothschild, a "Welcome to Palestine" member, said that dozens of activists had since been informed by airlines that their tickets to Tel Aviv have been cancelled.

"Israel's willingness to detain people who have not committed any crime and have done nothing but say they came to visit Palestine is a hysterical reaction," Rothschild said.

Palestinians hope to establish a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, areas which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

A similar, though smaller operation last year led to a few hundred activists being blocked at European airports and more than 100 others being deported from Israel after their entry was denied.

"It's very unfortunate that we are once again facing the kind of provocation coming from extremists from different countries," Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, told Reuters last Wednesday.

On Saturday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a letter it hoped to hand the activists upon their arrival.

"You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime's daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives," the letter read. "You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world."

"But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East's sole democracy ... We therefore suggest that you first solve the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience. Have a nice flight."

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Egypt disqualifies top Islamists, Mubarak VP from vote

Egypt-disqualifies-top-Islamists-Mubarak-VP-from-vote The race for the Egyptian presidency took a dramatic turn on Saturday when the authorities disqualified front-runners including Hosni Mubarak's spy chief, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a Salafi cleric whose lawyer warned that "a major crisis" was looming.

The presidential election is the climax of a transition to civilian rule being led by the military council that assumed power from Mubarak on February 11, 2011 at the height of the uprising against his three decades in power.

The generals are due to hand power to the elected president on July 1.

The disqualifications add to the drama of a transition punctuated by spasms of violence and which is now mired in bitter political rivalries between once-banned Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants of the Mubarak order.

Farouk Sultan, head of the presidential election commission, told Reuters that a total of 10 of the 23 candidates had been disqualified from the race.

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the Salafi, was disqualified because his mother held U.S. citizenship, the state news agency reported, confirming previous reports fiercely denied by the Islamist cleric who says he the victim of a plot.

Abu Ismail's lawyer, Nizar Ghorab, told Reuters he expected "a major crisis" in the next few hours.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater was among those disqualified on Saturday. His spokesman said he would make use of a 48-hour window to challenge the decision.

Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's intelligence chief and vice president in his last days in power, would also appeal, his spokesman said.

The elimination of three of the top candidates in what is being billed as Egypt's first real presidential vote would redraw the electoral map just a few weeks before the vote gets under way in May. The election is expected to go to a June run-off between the top two candidates.

On Friday, Abu Ismail's supporters besieged the headquarters of the election commission, forcing it to evacuate the premises and suspend its work. The building was guarded by security forces with riot shields.


Abu Ismail is a preacher and lawyer who has galvanized an enthusiastic support base with a message that mixes revolutionary zeal with hardline Islamism.

"The presidential committee has violated all the rules of law," Abu Ismail said in remarks published on his Facebook page. "If the official decision is to violate the constitution, they should be able to deal with the consequences," he said.

His candidacy had been in doubt since the election commission said it had received notification from U.S. authorities that his late mother had an American passport, a status that would disqualify him from the race.

Abu Ismail followers have hit the streets in protests to warn against any move to disqualify him. He denies his mother ever held dual nationality.

As for the Brotherhood's Shater, his candidacy had been in doubt due to past criminal convictions widely seen as trumped up by the authorities due to political activities.

The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has moved to the heart of public life since Mubarak was toppled. Anticipating Shater's disqualification, the Brotherhood had nominated Mohamed Mursi, head of its political party, as a reserve candidate.

"We will not give up our right to enter the presidential race," said Murad Muhammed Ali, Shater's campaign manager.

"There is an attempt by the old Mubarak regime to hijack the last stage of this transitional period and reproduce the old system of governance."

Shater had described Suleiman's last minute decision to enter the race as an insult to the Egyptians who rose up against Mubarak. Suleiman says he is running to prevent Egypt turning into a religious state.

The state news agency said Suleiman had been disqualified due to a shortfall in the number of registered supporters from whom his campaign had gathered signed petitions.

Candidates were supposed to gather at least 30,000 signatures from at least 15 provinces. Suleiman was a thousand short in one of the provinces, the state agency said.

Hussein Kamal, a top Suleiman aide, told Reuters his campaign would also challenge the commission's decision. "Suleiman's campaign can finish collecting petitions if that is what is missing," he told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Marwa Awad and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Tom Perry Editing by Maria Golovnina)

Obama: US Wants Deeper Partnerships With Americas

apObamaOASLatinAmericaSummitColombia14April2012-resizedpx480q100shp8 At the sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States wants deeper economic partnerships in the hemisphere, but that barriers remain to greater integration. 

In remarks to a CEO summit, Mr. Obama spoke of impressive economic growth in Latin America, progress moving tens of millions of people out of poverty, and a growing middle class.

He pointed to two U.S. free trade agreements, with host country Colombia and with Panama, and said some 40 percent of U.S. exports go to the region, supporting almost four million U.S. jobs.

But Mr. Obama said barriers remain to greater entrepreneurship and innovation, and that trade across a hemisphere with nearly one billion citizens is only half of what it could be.

Mr. Obama said "stark inequalities" endure in the region, with "far too many" people still living in poverty, adding the challenge will be to ensure broad-based prosperity. "The challenge for this hemisphere is how do we make sure that globalization and that integration is benefiting a broad base of people," he said.

In a first for the Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama, Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, and the summit host, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, engaged in a panel discussion.

President Rousseff repeated concerns about the impact on developing nations of "expansionary monetary policies" and warned against protectionism.  The Colombian leader said he shared concerns about monetary policy.

President Obama said he is sympathetic to the challenges around monetary policy in developed and less developed countries.  The president, however, said the issue involves not just the United States but "the failure of some other countries to engage in re-balancing."

Mr. Obama also said economic success in the hemisphere depends in the long-term on democratic governance. "When we look at how we are going to integrate further and take advantage of increased opportunity in the future, it is very important for us not to ignore how important it is to have a clean, transparent, open government that is working on behalf of its people," he said.

President Obama called the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia a "win-win" for both countries, saying it contains strong labor and environment provisions.

On the controversial issue for many countries of drug policy reform, Mr. Obama reiterated his opposition to legalization of drugs, though he recognized the "brutal" toll drug violence and said he is open to "legitimate discussions."

In translated remarks, President Santos said Colombia had been "relatively successful" in the war on drugs, but spoke of the need to consider alternatives. "Right now, we are in a moment of analyzing if what we are doing is the best that we can do or if we can maybe find an alternative that is much more effective and less expensive for the societies in general," he said.

After a colorful formal opening ceremony, the 33 hemisphere leaders began a multi-hour main plenary session discussing not only economic integration, but steps to eliminate poverty and inequality, transnational crime and access to technology.

A Venezuelan Foreign Ministry official announced that President Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of U.S. policies, will not attend the Cartagena summit.

Mr. Chavez was to return to Cuba to receive additional radiation treatment for the cancer he has been battling.

VOA News

Iranians, Syrians share common cause

Two months ago, Emad Ghavidel turned on the television in Tehran and saw graphic footage of an injured Syrian child crying out in pain.

The 24-year-old Iranian rapper was horrified by the violence and the government's brutal crackdown on Homs. The more Ghavidel learned about it, the angrier he became.

He decided to channel his frustration into his music. He wrote a song, "The Battle of Homs," expressing support for the Syrian protesters and lashing out against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

"I swear to the laments of grieving mothers, I swear to the tears of grieving mothers, you will pay for it, Bashar al-Assad," raps Ghavidel. "Even if I am drowned in my own blood, I will not shut up."

Within weeks, the song went viral on YouTube and was an instant sensation in the Middle East.

"I received many encouraging messages from both Syrians and Iranians," said Hamed Fard, an Iranian who helped Ghavidel produce the song.
Assad e-mails show insight into regime

Many Iranians sympathize with the Syrian people, and the two peoples share a common bond, said Ahed al-Hendi, a Syrian who now serves as Arabic Programs coordinator at In 2009, many Iranians were arrested and tortured -- and some were even killed -- as they protested the disputed presidential election.
Iran stands firm behind Assad

"When the Green Revolution was sparked in Iran, we stood with the Iranian people and supported their cause," Al-Hendi said. "Now, lots of Iranians are supporting our cause.

"We are all facing one enemy. The mullah's regime in Iran and the Assad regime (in Syria) support each other openly, and their alliance is very rooted. But we need an alliance between a democratic Iran and Syria, not an alliance of dictatorship."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently praised Syrian officials for how they "are managing" the yearlong uprising in Syria. Also, activists claim to have found a series of e-mails that showed al-Assad took advice from Iran on how to handle the unrest. Throughout the uprising, the Syrian government has described opposition leaders as terrorists looking to destabilize the country.

To date, more than 9,000 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations.

"As a human and a journalist, it is unbearable to witness this crime," said Sasan Aghai, an Iranian who works for the Sobh-e Azadi newspaper. "Everyone around the world who cares about human rights should be bothered by what it happening in Syria. It's genocide."

This is not Aghai's first foray into political activism. As an active supporter of the Green Movement, he was arrested for "activity against the country's security" and spent time in Evin prison, the notorious prison for Iran's political dissidents.

Artists were also among those arrested. Aria Aramnejad, a young Iranian pop singer, was taken into custody after he posted a song on YouTube in support of the Green Movement.

Ghavidel is keenly aware of the risks he faces as a rapper. Iran's Ministry of Islamic Guidance does not consider rap an art form, so no Iranian rapper can get government permission to record a song.

"All Iranian rappers work underground," he said. "We all have difficulties recording and distributing our songs, but I don't let these problems stop me.

"People ask me if I'm worried about the consequences of my song, but I don't believe I've said anything wrong. I want to hope that there is enough freedom of speech in my country that I can criticize a mass murder."

Such support has not gone unnoticed by the Syrian opposition. The Syrian National Council recently published a letter thanking the citizens of Iran.

"It is important for all of us to know that we share one region and that our struggles and freedoms are connected," the letter said. "The Syrian and Iranian regimes have cooperated very closely throughout the years to oppress their own people and to destabilize the region around them. We believe that the only way that our people can prosper is by cooperation and mutual respect to each other's past, present and future aspirations."

Would a Syrian revolution have an effect on Iran? Aghai thinks it is unlikely.

"I don't think the Syrian revolution will result in an Iranian revolution as well," he said. "But after losing one of its good allies in the region, we can say that the power of the Iranian regime will start to fade."


Sudan armed forces in Heglig offensive

Sudan's armed forces are on the outskirts of Heglig town and are advancing toward the settlement, which was occupied by South Sudan this week, a Sudanese military spokesman said.

"We are now on the outskirts of Heglig town," Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad told reporters in Khartoum. "The armed forces are advancing toward Heglig town ... the situation in Heglig will be resolved within hours."

He added that South Sudan had tried but failed to control "all of South Kordofan state".

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Juba, the capital of South Sudan, said that the army from Khartoum is advancing on Heglig town. "The South Sudanese military spokesperson told us that the Sudanese are around 30 km from Heglig, and if they do try and take it the South Sudanese have said they will defend themselves."

"This could end up becoming a full-blown conflict."

World powers have urged restraint after the latest round of heavy fighting that broke out on Tuesday with waves of aerial bombardment hitting the South, whose troops seized the Heglig oil region from Khartoum's army.

South Sudan seized the Heglig oilfield near the border on Tuesday. The African Union denounced the occupation as illegal and urged the two sides to avert a "disastrous" war.

Heglig, which the south claims as its own, is vital to Sudan's economy because it has a field accounting for about half of its 115,000 barrel-a-day oil output. The fighting has stopped crude production there, officials say.

South Sudanese armed forces spokesman Philip Aguer said he had not received reports of fighting in Heglig on Friday, but that the situation there should become clearer on Saturday.

"If they are advancing, the SPLA is ready to defend itself and its territories," he said by phone. "When they (Sudan's army) were pushed out of the area, they were occupying it by force, so if they want to come back by force, they can try it."

Speaking in Nairobi, Pagan Amum, South Sudan's lead negotiator at talks to resolve the dispute with Sudan, said his country was ready to withdraw under a UN-mediated plan.

"On the ground, we are ready to withdraw from Heglig as a contested area ... provided that the United Nations deploy a UN force in these contested areas and the UN also establish a monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement," he told reporters.

Amum said there were seven disputed areas and called for international arbitration to end the dispute over these regions.

Blow to the economy

The loss of Heglig's oil output is another blow to Sudan's economy, which was already struggling with rising food prices and a currency depreciating on the black market.

Amum said the Heglig facilities were "largely" damaged by fighting, but did not give details.

"Resumption of oil in that area will only come when the UN deploy their forces between the two countries and in the disputed areas and when the two countries reach agreement to resume oil production," he said.

Landlocked South Sudan shut down its own 350,000 barrel-per-day oil output in January in a row over how much it should pay to export crude via pipelines and facilities in Sudan.

Oil accounted for about 98 per cent of the new nation's state revenues and officials have been scrambling for ways to make up for the loss.

In Juba, about 200 people demonstrated at a government-organised protest against Sudan and in support of the occupation of Heglig, holding banners which read: "The people want the army to be in Heglig" and "They bomb children and women".

The UN Security Council on Thursday added its voice to the chorus of demands that Sudan and South Sudan stop the clashes.

Sudan's UN ambassador said South Sudan must heed the call or Khartoum would "hit deep inside the south".

The African Union, which had been helping mediate talks between the two countries over oil payments and other disputed
issues before Khartoum pulled out on Wednesday, also condemned the south's occupation of Heglig.

"The Council is dismayed by the illegal and unacceptable occupation by the South Sudanese armed forces of Heglig, which lies north of the agreed border line of 1st January, 1956," African Union Peace and Security Council Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters after a meeting late on Thursday.

The south seceded from Khartoum's rule last year but the two sides have not agreed on issues including the position of the border, the division of the national debt and the status of citizens in each other's territory.

Some two million people died in Sudan's civil war, fought for decades over ideology, religion, ethnicity and oil.


North Korea's failed rocket launch triggers indifference in Seoul

South-Koreans-in-Seoul-no-008 North Korea's doomed rocket may have flown within 100km (62 miles) of their country's coast, but residents of Seoul reacted with a collective shrug of the shoulders to news their neighbour had again defied international opinion and triggered talk of more instability on the Korean peninsula.

The air of nonchalance on the streets of the South Korean capital could be put down to warm spring weather, or political fatigue after Wednesday's parliamentary elections.

Kim Min Ji, a 27-year-old teacher, said she had barely thought about the rocket launch, let alone a malfunction that could have sent the rocket veering from its flight path.

"North Korea did demonstrate its power in a way," she said. "So I think the world should follow the US lead in cancelling food aid and take strong measures.

"If North Korea continues to isolate itself from the rest of the world, it will eventually realise it has made a mistake."

If it was a mistake, it was an expensive one. According to intelligence estimates in Seoul, the launch cost $850m (£535m). That's enough, they say, to feed 19 million people for a year in a country suffering chronic food shortages and malnutrition.

It failed, however, to cause any damage to its neighbour's economy: South Korea's benchmark stock index returned to the 2,000-point level on Friday, finishing more than 1% up on the day.

The much-heralded test of North Korea's rocket technology ended in failure and embarrassment for the Pyongyang regime less than two minutes after liftoff. The Unha-3 rocket, which Washington claimed was cover for a ballistic missile test, exploded into about 20 pieces and fell into the Yellow Sea.

Pyongynag ignored eleventh-hour pleas from the US, South Korea and Japan to halt the launch, saying that its sole purpose was to put an earth observation satellite into orbit.

With rare candour, North Korean state TV acknowledged that the rocket failed to reach orbit. "Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure," the Korean central news agency said.

Soon after the launch, the White House said Pyongyang had violated UN security council resolutions banning it from developing long-range missile technology.

"Despite the failure of its attempted missile launch, North Korea's provocative action threatens regional security, violates international law and contravenes its own recent commitments," said the White House press secretary, Jay Carney.

Washington said it was suspending plans to deliver food aid. But Carney did not say if the launch would mean a permanent end to a deal, agreed in February, in which North Korea agreed to stop enriching uranium and developing ballistic missiles in exchange for 240,000 tonnes of US food aid.

Barack Obama has come under fire from a Republican presidential hopeful for his willingness to engage with ithe North's new leader, Kim Jong-un.

"Instead of approaching Pyongyang from a position of strength, President Obama sought to appease the regime with a food aid deal that proved to be as naive as it was shortlived," Mitt Romney said. He claimed the Obama administration had "emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies".

Carney said the president had insisted that Pyongyang cease provocations, including missile launches and nuclear tests, as a condition for talks. He added: "North Korea is only further isolating itself by engaging in provocative acts, and is wasting its money on weapons and propaganda displays while the North Korean people go hungry."

The foreign secretary, William Hague, voiced "deep concern" at the launch attempt and called for a robust response from the international community.

North Korea's technological shortcomings are the worst possible prelude to celebrations on Sunday to mark the centenary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung. In the main square named after him in Pyongyang, residents were waiting to begin rehearsals for the Great Leader's anniversary celebrations.

The regime may have ruled out any early return to negotiations over its nuclear programme, said John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul. "The big question is, does this completely derail the diplomacy and negotiation that were finally getting a little bit of steam as of early March? It looks likely this will kill it all.

"The other question is what happens between the two Koreas. If diplomacy all falls apart and nothing's happening, then not only is the likelihood of another nuclear test high but the possibility of intra-Korean tension is high and of the South hitting back harder. After the shelling of Yeonpyeong in 2010 the hardliners here wanted to really send a battery to knock out military installations along the maritime border."

The sight of the South Korean navy ploughing the waters near the maritime border with the North will only strengthen the view that the launch was a propaganda exercise gone embarrassingly wrong.

The satellite was supposed to have demonstrated North Korea's emergence as a developed state.

A successful mission would have also strengthened the position of Kim, as doubts persist over his experience and ability four months after he succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, who died from a heart attack last December.

"This launch was in part a propaganda effort. That effort clearly failed and will have ramifications internally," a US administration official told Reuters.

In an editorial this week, the Korea Herald speculated that internecine strife among party and military elites in Pyongyang was behind the determination to go through with the launch.

"The North's bizarre behaviour is difficult to explain without imagining a power struggle between two groups, with one prioritising dialogue with Washington and feeding the country's starving people and the other putting military strength before anything else," it said.

But it added that cancellation of the US aid deal "carries deep implications. For one thing, we will have to brace for a third nuclear weapons test. At the same time, we need to prepare ourselves for contingencies resulting from a free-for-all scramble for power."

The North American aerospace defence command (Norad) said it had tracked the rocket after its launch at 7:39am local time. The first stage fell into the sea about 100 miles west of Seoul, and the remainder was believed to have broken up and landed in the sea.

Major General Shin Won-sik, a South Korean defence ministry official, said the rocket exploded between one and two minutes after it was launched from a site in Tongchang-ri.

David Wright, of the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said that would not have given North Korea enough time to learn anything of use for its ballistic missile programme..

Foreign journalists who were invited to view the rocket on its launch pad earlier this week were not permitted to watch the launch, even remotely.

The failed launch raises the possibility of a new round of international sanctions. The last round wasw imposed three years ago after a long-range missile launch and a second nuclear weapons test.

The security council is to hold an emergency meeting later on Friday to discuss its response. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said members had agreed to co-ordinate any action against the North.

"Pyongyang has a clear choice," she said on Thursday. "It can pursue peace and reap the benefits of closer ties with the international community, including the United States; or it can continue to face pressure and isolation."

Recent images show that North Korea may be preparing to conduct a third nuclear test at a site where similar tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009.

The South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, convened an emergency security meeting after Friday's launch; his office said the government in Seoul would continue to closely monitor its neighbour's actions.

The Guardian

Argentine 'miracle' baby in 'very serious' condition By the CNN Wire Staff

120411115527-argentine-miracle-baby-story-top A premature baby who survived hours in a morgue refrigerator in Argentina was in "very serious" condition after doctors detected an infection, state media reported.

The infection could compromise Luz Milagros Veron's neurological system and kidney function, the Telam news agency reported Thursday.

The 9-day-old baby was being treated with antibiotics, said Diana Vesco, chief of neonatology at the Perrando Hospital in northeast Argentina, according to the state news agency.

The baby's survival grabbed global headlines and prompted her parents to give her a new name: Luz Milagros, the Spanish words for light and miracles.

Pronounced dead after her premature birth on April 3, she withstood more than 10 hours in a coffin inside a morgue refrigerator before being found alive.

"Today is the eighth day of my daughter's resurrection," the girl's father, Fabian Veron, told CNN Wednesday.

Every, doctor, nurse and morgue worker who dealt with the baby at the hospital has been suspended as an investigation gets underway, officials said.

"There was an error of medical protocol. This is about human error," said Francisco Baquero, Chaco province's health minister, according to Telam.

Provincial officials provided compensation to the family Thursday, Telam reported, including cell phones, an economic subsidy, a motorcycle and transportation assistance.

Earlier this week, the hospital's director told CNN proper protocol had been followed.

The baby had no vital signs when she was born, hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meirino told CNN.

The gynecologist on hand didn't find any signs of life, so he passed the baby to a neonatal doctor who also didn't find vital signs, Meirino said.

The doctors observed the baby for a while, and only then, pronounced her dead.

Two morgue workers then put her body inside a little wooden coffin and placed it in the morgue.

"Up to that point, there were still no vital signs," the hospital director said.

That night, mother Analia Boutet insisted on seeing her dead daughter's body, Veron said.

"They put the coffin on top of a stretcher and we looked for a little crowbar to open it because it was nailed shut," Veron told a local television station. "It was nailed shut. I put the crowbar in there and started prying. I took a breath and took the lid off."

Boutet approached the baby's body, touched her hand, and heard a cry, Veron told CNN.

Veron's brother-in-law rushed the baby back to the neonatal ward. He clutched her close to his chest for warmth. She felt like an ice-cold bottle against his body, the relative told Veron.

"I can't explain what happened. Only that God has performed a miracle," Veron said.

Meirino said it was the first time he had witnessed an incident like this, but that a nearly identical thing happened in Israel in 2008.

In that case, a baby was found alive in a morgue refrigerator after having been declared dead.

Some doctors at the time said that it was possible that the low temperatures inside the refrigerator had slowed down the baby's metabolism and helped her survive. However, that baby later died.


Lamborghini Portfolio Will Grow With New Sportscars, SUV

Lamborghini-SUV-rendering Despite spending the better part of its history hawking just two different model lines, Lamborghini under Volkswagen Group’s care is looking to grow – and big time. Not only will the storied brand add a third, SUV range, but possibly with a flock of new sports cars that draw on the company’s heritage.

Thankfully, the long-rumored Lamborghini crossover to be unveiled at the Beijing show in a few weeks is much prettier and more credible than Bentley’s gaudy EXP 9 F. When the crossover hits the streets in 2016, Lamborghini will firmly establish the much ballyhooed third model range. Lamborghini has figured out that most of their buyers also own a SUV on top of their supercar, so why not give them a Lamborghini SUV to drive every day?

The powerplant for the 21st-century Rambo Lambo has long been rumored to be 550-580 hp 5.2-liter V-10, but more recent reports are pointing toward a high-power quad-turbocharged V-8, unlike its big brother from England with its thirsty 12-cylinder. No matter the engine, the Italian SUV will share its platform with the Bentley crossover, as well as the next-generation Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touareg.

Does the SUV deliver the kiss of death to the gorgeous Estoque sedan concept from the 2008 Paris Motor Show? Yes and no. Yes, because Lamborghini cannot simultaneously fund two all-new projects. No, because many design cues of the Estoque have been transferred to all-terrain model. So far, the SUV lacks a proper name, but in the past, MLC, Urus, and Deimos have all popped up as potential monikers for the four-wheel-drive Lambo.

At the Paris show this October, Lamobrghini will take unwrap the facelifted Gallardo, marking something close to the fifth or sixth update of the gracefully ageing sports car. A new model is to arrive in late 2013 or early 2014, assuming it gets board approval – a second-generation Gallardo and Audi R8 have yet to be confirmed by VW Group top brass. Like past Lamborghinis, the new Gallardo will eventually be offered as a coupe and spyder, and in at least one high-performance edition name Performante and Super Veloce, respectively. While the Aventador remains loyal to the V-12, its smaller stablemate will again boast a V-10.

Speaking of big, bad, butch bulls, the crazy Aventador J Concept from this year’s Geneva show is only a one-off, and the carbon-fiber intensive Sesto Elemento due next year is limited to just 20 units. Still a possibility, but far from being a live project, is a front-engined two-door sports car that would be a modern-age Espada, Jarama, or 400 GT.

Mid-term, Lamborghini – which is effectively an Audi subsidiary – will conceive all its sports cars in close cooperation with Porsche, employing VW Group’s new MSB-M architecture that is being developed by the boys from Stuttgart. The only remaining product-related link to Ingolstadt  will likely be the SUV.

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Cameron to take business leaders into Myanmar

120412083427-cameron-southeastasia-story-top British Prime Minister David Cameron will arrive in Myanmar Friday accompanied by a delegation of 10 business leaders -- a measure of how quickly the once reclusive Southeast Asian country is reengaging with the world both diplomatically and economically.

The delegation will be presented as "tourists" to circumvent restrictions imposed by European Union trade sanctions, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"It is not a trade mission. We are going to Burma for reasons of geography and the recent elections, which led to a positive outcome," a source from the British government reportedly told the newspaper.

"The government policy on Burma is to discourage trade. That remains the case. Around ten members of the business delegation will come to Burma. They will have a cultural program. They will be like tourists."

The move is controversial since Britain still publicly backs EU sanctions which have held against the military-backed government since 1996. Cameron's visit is the first by a major Western leader since a 1962 coup began a half century of military rule.

Western firms, meanwhile, are vying to be among the first to do business in Myanmar once sanctions are lifted.

Competitors from China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea are already well entrenched, tapping resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as sizeable deposits of coal, nickel ore and gemstones. Myanmar also stands to be a substantial exporter of lumber and rice.

Cameron is currently touring Southeast Asia -- including Malaysia and Indonesia -- with a delegation of 35 business leaders from companies such as Shell, BAE Systems and the world's biggest miner, BHP Billiton.

The EU is due to meet on April 23 to discuss its common position on Myanmar, saying it was likely to send a "positive signal" when it reviews the measures later this month. Both Germany and Italy are pushing for the complete lifting of sanctions, but other EU members -- Britain included -- are likely to push for some sanctions to remain in place over Myanmar's political prisoners.

Human rights groups estimate that Myanmar holds 1,000 political prisoners including students, activists and monks. Last week, the human rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch called on the EU to be cautious over sanctions, matching Myanmar reform for reform rather than simply lifting sanctions wholesale.

While the U.S. has welcomed changes in Myanmar -- this month announcing it would for the first time in 21 years nominate a candidate to serve as U.S. ambassador to the country -- it also has urged caution as it seeks progress on more fronts including the resolution of ethnic violence.

Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won 43 out of 45 parliamentary seats, representing about 5% of the total parliamentary seats, in elections on April 1.

Critics claim the election involved a relative handful of seats in a powerless parliament, amounting to little more than a token concession to the opposition and the international community, but Western countries viewed the result as a powerful message from Myanmar that it was seeking reform.

Sean Turnell, editor of the Burma Economic Watch and an associate professor in economics at Macquarie University in Sydney, told CNN that while Western corporations were keen to do business in Myanmar, he warned against taking too cynical a view on the lifting of sanctions.

"The desire for reform is quite genuine," Turnell said.

He said the big question would be to what extent Suu Kyi's election would translate into real reform and to what extent she would be given a free hand to draft new laws.

"The object of those that want sanctions lifted in the U.S. was to try to bolster the reformers in Myanmar and, in their words, 'put a bit of wind in their sails,'" Turnell said.

"The dilemma for the U.S. is how to best support them," he added.

Turnell said the issue of sanctions had gathered a new complexity in the light of the continuing conflict with the Kachin ethnic minority in the far north of the country.

Human Rights Watch says fighting between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army, one of the largest and most powerful ethnic armies, has escalated over the past two years. The conflict has led to widespread refugee displacement in Myanmar.

"Issues such as this are starting to divide people of goodwill," Turnell said. "There's an issue over what's moral and what is effective -- what do we hold our noses over and what do we stand firm on?"

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been run by a military junta since 1962. Sanctions were placed on the country following the violent suppression of popular protests in 1988.

Since then, U.S. Congress has placed overlapping sanctions on the country at various times, resulting in differing restrictions, waiver provisions, expiration conditions, and reporting requirements.

Myanmar announced a series of reforms after elections in 2010 brought a civilian government with close ties to the military to power.


Police arrest two teenagers after anti-terror hotline hacked

metropolitan-polic_2191540b The boys, aged 16 and 17, are being held in the West Midlands by detectives from the Police Central e-Crime Unit.

An organisation called Team Poison claimed to have carried out the cyber-attack in response to the alleged detention of innocent people on terrorism charges and the recent ruling to deport a number of terror suspects to the United States

The Daily Telegraph also understands that the group was angry at Government plans to introduce so-called snooping laws, allowing the authorities greater access to personal communications.

The group, which claims to have carried out a string of similar assaults on other organisations including Nato, launched a two day “phone bombing” exercise against the anti-terror hotline, jamming the network and preventing genuine callers from getting through.

It is understood Team Poison used readily available software to bombard the Scotland Yard phone line, but routed the activity through a computer server based in Malaysia in order to cover their tracks.

The hackers then claim to have exploited a “weakness” in the Scotland Yard’s phone system to eavesdrop and record a conversation between officials discussing the incident.

Recordings of the conversations were later posted on internet, suggesting an embarrassing lapse of security within Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit.

Last night the Metropolitan Police insisted that their phone security had not been breached the integrity of the confidential anti-terror hotline remained intact.

In one recording, an alleged hacker, who has an American accent, is heard goading one of the hotline operatives about the phone-bombing exercise.

The caller, who claimed to be called Robert West, told the official:

“I got some terrorism for you here …. our philosophy is pretty simple, it’s knowledge is power.”

More worryingly for the security services however is the question of how hackers apparently managed to record a conversation between two officials within Scotland Yard discussing the incident.

One operative is heard telling another that the anti-terror hotline had been inundated with hundreds of calls from the hacking group.

In a recording posted on the internet he is heard to say: “We have been subjected to a barrage of calls from a group called Team Poison.

We have had about 700 calls over the last couple of nights. One of the conversations I had last night was leaked on YouTube.

"Everyone else calling was effectively shut out and could not through at all."

It is not clear how the group managed to listen in to the conversation, but one theory is that the receiving handset was compromised during the phone-bombing exercise.

One member of Team Poison allegedly claimed to have used a well established system of phone hacking known as Phreaking.

He said: “It was very easy, they were using an old phone system which was vulnerable to a private phreaking method that we discovered.

He added: “The guys at the Counter Terrorist Command are clowns, whilst listening in on them, all they do is socialise and joke around with other employees. But to be honest, they are the real terrorists, imprisoning innocent people without evidence and invading countries for their own benefit.”

Explaining what had motivated the attack, the alleged hacker claimed it was in response to Britain’s treatment of terror suspects.

He said: “We done it due to the recent events where the counter terrorist command and the UK court system have allowed the extradition of Babar Ahmad, Adel Abdel Bary (sic) and a few others – we also done it to due the new "snooping" laws where the GCHQ can "spy" on anyone and everyone.”

He added: “Our members come from all over the world, we have no religion, no race, we are not affiliated with any other groups, we believe in equality for all & were anarchists.”

It is the second time in a matter of months that hackers have gained access to private telephone conversations involving Scotland Yard personnel.

In February hackers from the group known as Anonymous released a recording of a conference call between the FBI and UK police in which they were discussing efforts to catch hackers.

Last night, Ailsa Beaton, Director of Information for the Metropolitan Police said: “We are confident the MPS communication systems have not been breached and remain, as they always have been, secure.

"We are satisfied that any recording would have been made via the receiving handset only and not from an attack on internal systems.

The public can remain confident in the ability to communicate in confidence and that the integrity of the Anti-Terrorist Hotline remains in place."

The Telegraph

Nissan Eases Child Seat Purchases with new Initiative

child-seats Purchase incentives usually involve a zero-percent interest rate, cash back after purchase or no-cost options, but Nissan is going another direction to target families with young children.

One of the problems a family that relies on child seats faces is finding a product that fits both their cars and child. For those of us without kids, it’s easy to assume that all seats fit all cars and kids, right? Wrong.

In fact, it can be a real hassle because there aren’t child seat salesmen that bring everything to your house, which is where Nissan’s “Snug Kids” program comes in. Essentially what the automaker did was assign a team of its engineers to do the research new, and often stressed, parents would otherwise struggle through.

Now there’s a chart that shows which seats work for your car and more importantly the options that fit in more than one.

It answers the questions that invariably pop into a parent’s mind when a stacked aisle in Wal Mart is staring them down: which one of these will keep my baby safe and me out of the massive item return line this weekend?

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Cuba and drugs debate to spice Americas Summit

Cuba-and-drugs-debate-to-spice-Americas-Summit Leaders from North and South America will mix perennial controversies over Cuba and the Falklands with trade tensions and a new look at the war on drugs at a weekend summit in Colombia.

The 33 nations at the Organization of American States' sixth Summit of the Americas in the seaside city of Cartagena are, however, unlikely to bring big changes on the major issues facing the hemisphere.

Although not quite the star act he was at the last OAS meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama remains a focus for many Latin American leaders who hope he will pay them more heed if he wins a second term in November.

Many Latin American countries would like the United States to ease its policy of ostracizing Cuba and begin a debate on legalizing some drugs. But Obama, facing a tight re-election contest, is expected to maintain the U.S. hard line.

"Those are politically radioactive issues for Obama. There's no way he can fulfill Latin American expectations," said U.S.-based regional expert Michael Shifter.

Though the summit's official agenda ranges from technology to poverty reduction, Cuba was once again shaping into the No. 1 hot potato for those gathering in the Caribbean port city.

Cuba was kicked out of the OAS shortly after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, and efforts by Latin American allies to have it invited to Cartagena failed. Ecuador's leftist president, Rafael Correa, is boycotting the summit because of that.

"I hope this is the last summit without Cuba," said host and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. He has built good relations with the leftist ALBA bloc of Latin American nations, despite being a U.S. ally and a conservative politician.

Some Cuban dissidents were in Cartagena, however, to lobby against a softening toward the communist government in Havana.


This year's 30th anniversary of the war between Britain and Argentina over the remote Falklands archipelago, known in Argentina as the Malvinas Islands, rekindled bitter memories and is sure to resonate at the meeting.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez has wide support in Latin America for her demand that Britain abandon its "colonial" occupation and negotiate sovereignty of the islands.

But London, which won the 1982 conflict that killed 650 Argentine and 255 British troops, refuses to consider that and has further irked Buenos Aires by exploring for oil there.

Though heads of state meet on Saturday and Sunday, two parallel events begin earlier: a social forum for non-government groups and a "CEO summit" for businessmen who will have a parade of high-profile visitors from Obama to Colombian singer Shakira.

Given Colombia's history of drug and guerrilla violence, 20,000 soldiers and police officers were deployed to guard the presidents. Marxist FARC rebels, driven back but still active, plotted to assassinate former U.S. leaders George W. Bush and Bill Clinton on previous visits to Cartagena.

Over the last decade, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has replaced Fidel Castro as the headline-grabber at regional conferences. Few have forgotten his 2006 speech to the United Nations calling Bush a "devil" and saying he could still smell sulfur at the podium.

Yet with Chavez undergoing radiation therapy after cancer surgery, it is unlikely he will be able to manage more than a quick, one-day visit to Cartagena.


Obama remains enormously popular among Latin Americans, especially in contrast to his predecessor Bush, who drew ferocious protests at one OAS summit in Argentina.

In a small town outside Cartagena, locals decked out dozens of donkeys in the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag.

"I've always liked him because he was an anti-establishment figure," said lawyer Silvio Carrasquilla, who helped organize the parade and also painted "Obama, welcome!" on his roof.

The most interesting debate in Cartagena may be over drugs.

There are growing calls from around the world for a fresh look at how to combat a violent, multibillion dollar illegal trade which decades of hardline policies against producers and consumers have failed to curb.

In South America, some believe decriminalizing the growing of coca - the raw ingredient for cocaine - would slash revenue for traffickers and encourage farmers to plant different crops.

"Colombia has suffered for years from this scourge. Organized crime has an ever greater hold on Central America," Santos said after arriving in Cartagena to check preparations.

"We need to take the bull by the horns and start a debate, just to see if there's a better alternative to attack it."

Another simmering issue will be how to deal with a glut of cash from rich nations that is flooding their increasingly strong economies.

Regional powerhouse Brazil has spoken of a "monetary tsunami," and President Dilma Rousseff raised concerns about this with Obama in Washington this week.

While the money flows show Latin America's new robustness during a time of global economic turbulence, they are also driving up currencies, hurting competitiveness and tempting some countries to take protectionist measures to slow imports.

Colombia hopes the Cartagena meeting will speed the implementation of a free trade pact with the United States. "I hope Presidents Santos and Obama announce a date," National Business Association head Luis Carlos Villegas told reporters.

(Additional reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta and Joaquin Sarmiento; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Doina Chiacu)

Rihanna Obsessed With Gwyneth Paltrow

Rihanna RIHANNA has a girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow.

The sexy singer is a huge fan of the Oscar-winning actress and says she’s very envious of her lifestyle and her amazing body.

“I’m obsessed with Gwyneth. Honestly, what is it not?  It makes me so jealous all the time … her body … I’m really jealous of her, I don’t even know why I like her,” she said.

Rihanna recently insisted she wants to know where all the men are!

“I feel like it’s hard for everybody! I don’t think it has anything to do with being famous. There’s just a major drought out there,” she said.

“I guess I’m challenging, because my job seems to affect every relationship I have or try to have. Even with people I think should get it.

“That seems to be a big factor; it’s always an issue. But I just need to find the person who balances me out, because then things like my schedule won’t matter. I’ve done it before, so I know I can do it again.”


US jobless claims jump to 2-month high

US jobless claims jump to 2-month high (AP) WASHINGTON - More people sought unemployment benefits last week, pushing the number of applicants to the highest level in two months.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment benefit applications jumped 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 380,000. The previous week's figures were also revised higher. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to 368,500.

After steadily declining since last fall, applications have leveled off in recent weeks. The four-week average is essentially unchanged over the past two months.

When applications fall below 375,000, it generally suggests that hiring will be strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The figures come after a disappointing employment report last week that showed that employers added only 120,000 jobs in March, half the average pace in the preceding three months. But many economists downplayed the weak March figures, noting that a warmer winter may have led to some earlier hiring in January and February.

The economy has added an average of 212,000 jobs per month in the January-March quarter, well ahead of last year's pace. And the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in August to 8.2 percent in March. One factor is that some people have given up looking for work. People who are out of work but not looking for jobs aren't counted as unemployed.

Economists note that applications for unemployment aid are at a much lower level than they were last year, suggesting that March's weak numbers might have been a temporary lull.

A similar message resonated from a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. All of the Fed's 12 bank districts reported that the economy grew steadily from mid-February through April 2. And hiring was stable or increased in most of the country during that time.

Additional hiring has boosted consumer confidence and spurred more spending. Consumer spending jumped in February by the most in seven months, the government said last month. And many large retail chains have reported healthy sales for March.

Higher auto sales and solid business demand for machinery and other equipment is boosting factory output. The manufacturing sector expanded in March at a faster pace than the previous month, according to a private survey.

The economy grew at an annual rate of just 3 percent in the October-December quarter. Most economists are predicting that growth slowed in the January-March quarter to an annual rate of under 2.5 percent.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has cautioned that the economy is growing too slowly to maintain recent declines in the unemployment rate.

Bernanke has said growth normally needs to be closer to 4 percent for a full year to lower the unemployment rate by a full percentage point. He has warned that hiring is likely to slow until consumers and businesses spend more, fueling faster growth.

Greater hiring hasn't led to larger paychecks. Wages aren't rising fast enough to keep up with inflation. Rising gas prices are also weighing on consumers' ability to spend money on other goods and services. Europe's debt crisis has flared up again, as Spain and Italy have been forced in recent days to pay higher interest rates on their debts.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Mazda 2 Venture Edition goes on sale

Mazda-2-Venture-Edition-goes-on-sale This is the Mazda 2 Venture Edition, a limited-edition version of the popular supermini.

The new model is based on the Mazda 2 Tamura 1.3, but with a host of extra equipment. This includes two unique colours of Dolphin Grey and Burgundy Red.

The Venture Edition also adds 16-inch gunmetal alloys, sports bodykit, front foglamps and privacy glass. Inside, there's a TomTom navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free kit, electric rear windows and climate control.

The 83bhp Venture Edition averages 56.5mpg and takes the car from 0-62mph in 13.6 seconds. CO2 emissions of 115g/km mean first-year road tax is free.

The Mazda 2 Venture Edition costs £12,995; a premium of £1000 over the Tamura model it is based on. Just 1500 of the cars will be built.

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Ford gets real with new Focus Electric competition

Yahoo-Ford-Focus-Electric As Ford prepares to launch its first fully electric car, the firm announces a new reality competition run in association with Yahoo where one lucky participant team will win a new Focus Electric.

Set to begin in May, just as the Ford Focus Electric becomes available across multiple US states, a new reality competition series called ‘Plugged In’ will be broadcast exclusively on Yahoo! Screen (!’s video destination.

Plugged In features two-person teams competing against each other in a series of challenges in the hope of winning a Focus Electric. Viewers will be encouraged to share comments about each episode and upload photos of favourite places in their hometown to a special Flickr group page created for the programme. Magical Elves, an Emmy Award-winning production company, is producing the series.

Plugged In competition locations include Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Raleigh, N.C.; and Boston. A celebrity, serving as the hometown’s personal insider, kicks off each episode and provides clues that require contestants to complete various tasks and challenges while exploring and discovering hidden cultural gems and “best of” locations in their city. The winning teams in each city move on to participate in the finale event in Los Angeles, where they will compete with teams from other regions for the chance to win the Ford Focus Electric.

Purported to be ‘America’s most fuel-efficient five-seat car’, the new Focus Electric features a 23kWh lithium ion battery and is capable of an equivalent of 105mpg (EPA rating) on a combined cycle. The model has a top speed of 84 mph and can be fully recharged in around three to four hours using a 240 volt charge station. It won’t arrive in Europe until 2013.

The Green Car Website

Swedish Automobile to become Spyker once more

Spyker-C8-Aileron_i01 In the most excruciating press release in automotive history, Swedish Automobile announced that, provided its shareholders say OK on April 17, it will as of April 18 become “Spyker.” At least, we think that’s what it said.

“Assuming that the decision of the extraordinary general meeting of shareholders shall be obtained on 17 April 2012, Swedish Automobile N.V. shall have its articles of association amended on 18 April 2012. The amendment includes a change of name into Spyker N.V. Per 18 April 2012, the company shall be listed as Spyker N.V. Its ISIN code changes to NL0010125050, its ticker symbol to SPYKR.”

The Dutch-based car maker Spyker in 2010 acquired Swede Saab, then in 2011 sold its sports car division to a holding company and changed its name to Swedish Automobile N.V., in the midst of a lot of convoluted international take-over stuff where the family of a major shareholder was reputed to have connections to the Russian mafia.

But hey, at least we know the company changed its name and is now changing it back again. That much is clear. Sort of.


Argentina mother claims to find premature baby alive after 12 hours in morgue

AP120411041060_620x350 (AP) BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A mother in Argentina says she fell to her knees in shock after finding her baby alive in a coffin in the morgue nearly 12 hours after the girl had been declared dead.

Analia Bouter named her newborn Luz Milagros, or "Miracle Light." The tiny girl, born three months premature, was in critical but improving condition Wednesday in the same hospital where the staff pronounced her stillborn on April 3.

The case became public Tuesday when Rafael Sabatinelli, the deputy health minister in the northern province of Chaco, announced in a news conference that five medical professionals involved have been suspended pending an official investigation.

Bouter told the TeleNoticias TV channel in an interview Tuesday night that doctors gave her the death certificate just 20 minutes after the baby was born, and that she still hasn't received a birth certificate for her tiny girl.

Bouter said the baby was quickly put in a coffin and taken to the morgue's refrigeration room. Twelve hours passed before she and her husband were able to open the coffin to say their last goodbyes.

She said that's when the baby trembled. She thought it was her imagination — then she realized the little girl was alive and dropped to her knees on the morgue floor in shock.

A morgue worker quickly picked up the girl and confirmed she was alive. Then, Bouter's brother grabbed the baby and ran to the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, shouting for the doctors. The baby was so cold, Bouter said, that "it was like carrying a bottle of ice."

A week later, the baby is improving. Bouter said she still has many unanswered questions about what happened. She said she had given birth normally to four other children and doesn't understand why doctors gave her general anesthesia this time. She said she also doesn't know why she wasn't allowed to see her baby before it was put into a coffin.

She said she had to insist on going to the morgue's refrigeration room, where she brought her sister's cell phone to take a picture of the newborn for the funeral. Her husband struggled to open the lid, and then stepped aside to let her see inside.

"I moved the coverings aside and saw the tiny hand, with all five fingers, and I touched her hand and then uncovered her face," she said in the TeleNoticias interview. "That's where I heard a tiny little cry. I told myself I was imagining it — it was my imagination. And then I stepped back and saw her waking up. It was as if she was saying `Mama, you came for me!'

"That was when I fell to my knees. My husband didn't know what to do. We were just crying and I laughed and cried, cries and laughter. We must have seemed crazy."

She says the family plans to sue the staff at Hospital Perrando in the city of Resistencia for malpractice, and still wants answers. But they've been focused for now on their little girl, whom she described as amazingly healthy despite being born after just 26 weeks of gestation. So far, she hasn't needed oxygen or other support commonly provided to preemies, she said.

"I'm a believer. All of this was a miracle from God," she told Telam, Argentina's state news agency.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Elite female night raiders break down barriers in Afghanistan

Elite female night raiders break down barriers in Afghanistan Crouching behind a wooden barrier, 27-year-old Sergeant Sara Delawar fires her M-4 rifle at a target showing the silhouette of a man, part of a training exercise for Afghan special forces.

Anxious to defuse tensions stoked by foreign male soldiers raiding Afghans' homes at night in what is a conservative Muslim country, Afghanistan has begun training elite female troops to join Afghan male soldiers on operations.

"Before we joined this unit, our operations were done by foreign troops and they did not know our culture. People were critical so we joined to help out," Delawar, a former policewoman in Jowzjan province, said.

"I have already fought the Taliban. My comrades were martyred in fights with the Taliban and we have killed them too, but during the night raids I haven't fought insurgents yet."

Fluent in four local languages, Delawar is one of only 12 female soldiers who has been trained to fight and conduct searches in what is an attempt to pay greater respect to cultural sensitivities.

Surprise night raids in pursuit of militants have long stoked anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan, with many locals seeing them as assaults on their privacy and on women's privacy in particular.

In conservative southern areas of the country where the Taliban is strong, such raids have created even more ill will.

On Sunday after months of tense negotiations, Afghanistan and the United States agreed that only Afghan forces would search residential homes or compounds.

As well as seeking to assuage cultural sensitivities, the new strategy is aimed at lowering civilian casualties and shoring up President Hamid Karzai's popularity at a time when foreign combat troops are handing over to Afghan forces.

"It's unacceptable for us to see male soldiers body-searching females. Men are not allowed to touch females," third-lieutenant Binazir, 24, said.

"I'm proud to say that I'm here to serve my country side by side with my brothers. I'm proud that Afghan girls are here and I hope more girls join in order to provide better services for brothers and sisters in the battlefield and save lives."


At a training facility on the outskirts of Kabul, the Afghan capital, suspected militants inside a mock-up house are advised to leave the building via loudspeaker. A hijab-wearing woman cries and asks where the soldiers are taking her brother.

Female soldiers lead her by the arm away from the scene.

"The training they've already received in this unit has had a good outcome during night raids," Captain Mohammad Khalid, head of training at the special forces, said.

"In order to launch our operations in a good manner we have to have 100 female officers in our forces."

The program began two months ago and drew women from the Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen and Hazara ethnic groups, but not from the Pashtun where the Taliban recruit most of their fighters.

The task of finding women has become even more important ahead of a pullout of most NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.

Afghanistan is still recovering from the strict social conservatism of the Taliban, whose hardline laws during their 1996-2001 rule marginalized women, stripping them of the right to work, study or move freely.

The country remains one of the world's worst places for women and setting up female special forces was not an easy task.

Recruitment is especially tricky. Women are put off by the prospect of social rejection and disapproval from their families.

Traditionally confined to their homes, women also face problems their male comrades do not.

"My children were attending school in Jowzjan, but here they don't because I'm not at home and they can't go by themselves," said Delawar, a mother-of-two and a widow.

"I hope there is support for them to get educated especially when I'm out of my house on the duty."

(Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

China's Neil Heywood murder investigation backed by David Cameron

David-Cameron-008 David Cameron has promised to co-operate with the Chinese investigation into the suspected murder of British businessman Neil Heywood and praised the authorities for their decision to examine the "disturbing" case.

The prime minister was asked in Jakarta about the death of Heywood after the detention of Gu Kailai, the wife of the former Chinese leadership contender Bo Xilai, on suspicion of his murder.

Standing next to the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in the presidential palace in Jakarta, Cameron said: "On the case of Neil Heywood, we did ask the Chinese to hold an investigation and we are pleased that they are now doing that. I stand ready to co-operate in any way that we can. It is very important that we get to the bottom of the truth of what happened in this very disturbing case, this very tragic case."

Downing Street is pleased that the Chinese authorities appear to be taking the death of Heywood seriously. The prime minister's remark that Britain had been asking the Chinese authorities to launch an investigation was designed to answer critics who said Britain had failed to put any pressure on Beijing for fear of offending the growing superpower.

Bo's political death knell has sounded across China as newspaper front pages and hourly news bulletins trumpeted his disgrace and his wife's detention for the suspected murder of Heywood.

The scandal that toppled the high-profile former leadership contender is the biggest political upheaval in China since general secretary Zhao Ziyang was ousted following the Tiananmen democracy protests in 1989. It comes months before a once-a-decade leadership transition.

The official party newspaper, the People's Daily, urged people to rally around the top leadership, saying Bo had damaged the cause and image of both party and state. But while investigations into the couple are continuing, news coverage also sought to draw a line under events, with a Global Times article saying the country had "steadily overcome a bump" ahead of the 18th party congress this autumn, which will unveil the new leadership.

The news agency Xinhua has said Bo is under investigation by central party officials for "serious disciplinary violations" – a statement that has often been followed by corruption charges against leaders in the past.

Bo was dismissed on 15 March as party secretary of the south-western city of Chongqing – where Heywood died last November – but had held on to his politburo and central committee seats, apparently because leaders had not agreed on how to handle him. Many believe that was related to horse-trading before the autumn power transition as well as Bo's powerful connections as the "princeling" son of a renowned Communist party veteran.

The scandal was set in motion in February when Bo's ally and former police chief Wang Lijun fled to the US embassy in Chengdu, where he is believed to have told diplomats he had angered Bo by confronting him with suspicions over Heywood's death. Wang is now under investigation.

But many believe rivals and opponents were already seeking to damage Bo.

Jean-Pierre Cabestan, of Hong Kong University, suggested Wang's flight, while deeply embarrassing to Chinese leaders, was merely "the last straw on the camel's back". Analysts say Bo alienated senior party figures by attempting to leverage popular support to win promotion in the leadership transition.

"He created a coalition of everyone wanting to get rid of him because he became a 'troublemaker' and a factor of division," said Cabestan.

He suggested it was also "a clear victory for reformists" at the top of the party who are pressing for change.

"Behind this case is a power struggle," said Zhang Ming, a liberal scholar at Renmin University in Beijing. "Bo broke the rules and greatly deviated from the [usual] track … This shows that the struggle has intensified."

Wu Qiang, a political scientist at Tsinghua University, said Bo's populism had been a threat: "This is a cleaning-up among princelings," he added.

Xinhua has said Bo's 51-year-old wife, Gu Kailai, and a worker from the couple's home are "highly suspected" of killing Heywood. It added that Gu and the couple's son Bo Guagua had been on good terms with the 41-year-old British businessman but that there had been a conflict over economic interests.

Britain had already asked China to reinvestigate Heywood's death, following suggestions of suspicious circumstances. Family members in China and the UK have dismissed the idea of foul play and said he died of a heart attack.

Heywood's widow was at their home in a blossom-lined, upmarket housing compound in the northern suburbs of Beijing on Tuesday, but did not answer the door. Her late husband's silver Jaguar, bearing a union flag sticker, was parked in the driveway.

"No one is home," said a man in plain clothes who said he was head of security for the compound.

Britain and the US were briefed on the announcements shortly before they were made public.

The foreign secretary, William Hague, has welcomed the reinvestigation, telling reporters: "It's a death that needs to be investigated, on its own terms and on its own merits, without political considerations."

As with many developments in the case, Tuesday night's bombshell announcements were presaged by a bout of speculation about such moves on the country's microblogs.

Despite censorship, many used the services to praise and attack Bo on Wednesday.

"Such a good official. He did so many good things for people … How much do the bad guys hate him!" wrote one internet user.

"He wanted to restore the cultural revolution. He even criticised and fought against his own father [during the cultural revolution]. Where is his goodness? I don't get it!" argued another.

A third noted simply: "What happened in Chongqing told us that no matter what is right or wrong, it is important to stand on the winning side."

The Guardian

Fastest electric car on ice! Students break record

Electric-RaceAbout_thumb A group of students have broken the speed for the fastest electric car on ice.

Students from the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences took their electric sports car prototype to the frozen Lake Ukonjärvi in north of Finland where it was successfully piloted it to a top speed of 161.63 mph.

Driven by Janne Laitinen, a test driver for Nokian Tyres, the electric sports car was driven for a kilometre in each direction. Janne  achieved an average speed of 156.67 mph, taking under 6 minutes to complete the sprint.

Built by the student team, the car known as the E-RA (Electric RaceAbout) features 32 Kwh lithium-titanate battery, capable of delivering 200kW of continuous power and peak torque equivalent to 3200 Nm. With a 0-62 mph time of less than 6 seconds, the car has a top speed of 124 mph and a driving range of around 125 miles per charge.

Nokian Tyres fitted studded tyres to the car to ensure grip and stable handling across the frozen lake. The Finnish firm already holds the record for the fastest petrol car across ice.

Last September, the E-RA lapped the Nürburgring in just 8 minutes and 42 seconds.

The Green Car Website

Korean Airlines flight diverted by bomb threat to Canadian air base

Korean Airlines flight diverted by bomb threat to Canadian air base (AP) TORONTO - A Korean Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Vancouver to Seoul was diverted to a nearby Canadian Forces base after the airline's U.S. call center received a bomb threat.

Korean Airlines said in a news release that the call center received the threat Tuesday about 25 minutes after take-off from Vancouver International Airport. Airline officials said they decided to turn the aircraft around.

Maj. Holly Apostoliuk, a Canadian spokeswoman for The North American Aerospace Defense Command, said two U.S. F-15 fighter jets from Portland, Ore., escorted the plane to Canada's Comox air base on Vancouver Island, which is 113 miles outside Vancouver.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Byron Massie said the plane was still being searched early Wednesday morning.

Massie said the same Korean Airlines flight out of Vancouver faced a similar threat on Monday and the all clear was given after a two hour search. He said Monday's threat was called in somewhere besides the airline's U.S. call center but he declined to say where.

Korean Air spokeswoman Penny Pfaelzer said from Los Angeles that the caller warned that an explosive was on board the aircraft. Pfaelzer said she had no additional details.

An airline spokeswoman in Korea said all the passengers and crew were safe and that the airline was conducting a safety inspection and would evaluate a new departure time.

The flight was traveling from Vancouver International Airport and was diverted to Comex at about 5:30 p.m.

Vancouver International Airport spokeswoman Alisa Gloag said flight 72 with 149 passengers landed safely at Comox about three hours after it took off.

Massie said the passengers and crew in Tuesday's latest incident were at a secure location on the Comox base while the search was being conducted.

Korean Air is one of several Asian airlines that have been scrambling in recent days to change the flight paths for many routes to avoid a rocket North Korea says it will launch later this week.

Pyongyang has said the rocket will carry a satellite into space, but the United States, Britain, Japan and others have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, saying it would be considered a violation of United Nations resolutions prohibiting the country from nuclear and ballistic missile activity.

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