Ashlee Simpson "Disgusted" by Scrutiny Over Jessica's Weight

Jessica Simpson performs live at the 99.9 Kiss Country 24th Annual Chili Cook Off at CB Smith Park on January 25, 2009 in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Chris Gordon/

Ashlee Simpson says she is outraged by the scrutiny over her sister Jessica's new fuller figure.

"I am completely disgusted by the headlines concerning my sister's weight," she writes in a blog post on her Celebrity MySpace page. "A week after the inauguration and with such a feeling of hope in the air for our country, I find it completely embarrassing and belittling to all women to read about a woman's weight or figure as a headline on Fox News."

See Us Weekly's weight winners of 2008.

At Sunday's Kiss Country Chili Cookout in Pembroke Pines, Fla., Jessica -- dressed in high-waisted jeans and a double belt -- shocked fans with her new curves.

See Jessica Simpson's style hits and misses over the years.

But Ashlee says, "All women come in different shapes, sizes, and forms and just because you're a celebrity, there shouldn't be a different standard."

Of the negative remarks some bloggers are making about her sister, Ashlee then asks, "Is this something you would say to your wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, or even a friend? I seriously doubt it."

See what Jessica Simpson and other stars look like without makeup.

Adds Ashlee, "How can we expect teenage girls to love and respect themselves in an environment where we criticize a size 2 figure?"

Jessica's former trainer also doesn't mind the singer's shape.

"She's still sexy," Harley Pasternak said on Tuesday. "She's still a beautiful woman. And I have no problem with the way she looks.

"I think if more people looked the way she looks now, the country would be a lot healthier."


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[SNN] Obama’s Muslim TV Interview Sets New Tone

President Barack Obama chose al-Arabiya to grant his first full interview as president of the United States, trying to repair the damage done by his predecessor’s efforts to free 25 million Iraqis from dictatorship and terrorism. The president snubbed CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, ABC, CBS, PBS and even SNN, according to a White House spokesman because he wanted to talk directly to the Arab world, without the filter of a network that’s just a tool of the imperialistic Zionist American regime. Tonight, SNN brings you an in-depth analysis of this historic interview.


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Israeli aircraft attack tunnels along Gaza-Egypt border

Israeli air force strikes tunnels used for smuggling weapons along Philadelphi Route early Wednesday in response to Hamas' attack on Israeli forces Tuesday that left one soldier dead. Locals reported fleeing their homes in panic

Published: 01.28.09, 07:35 / Israel News

Israeli aircraft struck at tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday, hours before a US peace envoy was due to arrive in the Jewish state.

Residents of the Gaza town of Rafah and Hamas security officials said some people began to flee their homes in panic as the aircraft struck three times before dawn. There was no initial word of casualties.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that Israel had carried out air strikes on smuggling tunnels in the town of Rafah.

The strike came as a response to Tuesday's attack by Gaza militants on an Israeli military vehicle that was hit by a roadside bomb while patrolling the Gaza border, killing one soldier and wounding three others, the army spokesman said.

An air strike shortly afterwards killed one Palestinian on a motorcycle whom the spokesman identified as the planner of the roadside bomb attack.

The exchanges were the first major military developments since Hamas and Israel declared separate ceasefires earlier this month after Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said late on Tuesday that the killing of the man on the motorcycle was only an initial reaction and that Israel's full response was still to come.

Mitchell coming to region

Israel and Hamas are negotiating through Egyptian mediators on a longer-term truce. Hamas wants Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel wants guarantees that Hamas will not again fire rockets at Israeli towns.

Later on Wednesday, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrives in Israel to take the first steps towards reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

A former US senator and experienced mediator who helped end the Northern Ireland conflict, Mitchell began his regional tour in Cairo on Tuesday bearing a message from US President Barack Obama that the "moment is ripe" for peace talks.

He will meet Israeli leaders on Wednesday afternoon and visit the West Bank on Thursday to talk to Palestinian leaders, but Western diplomats said he would not meet Hamas officials.


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Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup

If you needed another reason to avoid high fructose corn syrup in your food, then here it is. One of my favorite blogs Eco Child’s Play tipped me off to a new study that revealed that “Mercury was found in nearly 50% of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup” according to an article published by Environmental Health.

Another study done by The Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy found that one in three products with HFCS listed as a main ingredient was found to contain mercury.

In our own limited testing, we could detect mercury in about one of every three common foods or beverages where HFCS was the first or second labeled ingredient. Many of these foods are heavily marketed to children, who in turn are among those most vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects.
Just published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Environmental Health, is the bombshell that commercial HFCS appears to be routinely contaminated with mercury. It turns out the contamination isn’t so much accidental as newly recognized, given the fact that much HFCS has been made and continues to be made using “mercury-grade” caustic soda.

Where is it found? It can be found in just abot everything… the obvious place is candy, soda and sweets but HFCS is also found in bread, breakfast cereals, tomato sauces, breadcrumbs, granola bars, ketchup, crackers, cough syrups, dill pickles, frozen pizzas, meats, marinades, barbecue sauces, salad dressing …. etc. It’s everywhere and some experts blame HFCS for the increasingly scary epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. All the more reason to eat real food, whole food and unprocessed food if you ask me.


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House GOP: Stimulus Plan Has Too Much Spending

WASHINGTON — Looking beyond an expected partisan House vote approving his economic stimulus plan, President Barack Obama said Wednesday the nation is poised at a "perilous moment" that requires swift action to kick-start the economy.

"We don't have a moment to spare," Obama said in the East Room of the White House just hours before the House roll call was to be taken. The bill was expected to pass, but likely with little of the bipartisan support that Obama had said he wanted.

He called on called on everyone, corporate executives and factory floor workers, educators and engineers, health care professionals and elected officials, to abandon a "sense of irresponsibility that prevailed from Wall Street to Washington."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama says businesses and workers are counting on Washington for "bold and swift" action to steady the struggling economy.

After a meeting with a group of business executives, Obama publicly acknowledged skepticism about "the size and scale" of the $825 billion economic recovery plan that will be put before the House for a vote later Wednesday.

He said earlier he was confident that the measure would make it through the House. And in his appearance at the White House before reporters and business leaders, Obama said national leaders must "create a favoriable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive and our economy can grow."


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Super Bowl 43 Prediction, Arizona vs Pittsburgh

Super Bowl 43 Prediction, Arizona vs Pittsburgh. I have delayed writing this story for the last couple of days in hopes of finding some evidence that the Arizona Cardinals can win this game. I have come up empty and will now explain to you why Pittsburgh wins this years Super Bowl by at least 20. I really wanted to pick the Cardinals, but I do not see how they will get anything done against a blue-collar defense as dominant as Pittsburgh’s.

The Steelers defense has been dominant all season. There is no doubt that defense is the reason the Steelers have gotten this far. Pittsburgh is currently running a very mediocre and vanilla offense. Hand it to Willie Parker on first down, hand it to Willie Parker or throw a short pass on second down. Throw for just enough yardage to get the first down and repeat. It has been a normal sequence for the past few weeks with these Steelers. Ben has to run for his life because the Steelers offensive line is just average at best this season. They will probably put together a solid drive or two resulting in points, but I will go on the record saying that the defense will either score or set up more scores than the Steeler offense will in this game.

Kurt Warner is a confident veteran. I really like the guy and have enjoyed watching him throw to a talented trio of receivers. Fitzgerald will get his 100 yards and a touchdown in the game. I’m not sure where Anquan Boldin’s head is at right now. Major media exposure is a good time for a star to garner the spotlight and make himself a distraction as Boldin has. I will guess he will have about 3 catches for 35 yards. This leaves Steve Breaston. Breaston has been the X-factor in this passing game all year, but don’t think Dick Lebow isn’t hip to cutting him off. The Steelers are the best blitzing defense in recent NFL history. I do not see Kurt Warner having much timed to do anything, especially in obvious passing situations.

Pittsburgh wins 34-13. ( This was Paneech’s pick, stay tuned for Ethanator’s pick )

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Obama And The Middle East-Anything New?

Barack Obama inherited what might generously be considered to be a “mess” in dealing with conflicts within the Middle East. In an interview with al-Arabiya, the Saudi based rival to al-Jazeera, President Obama insisted his nation was not an enemy of the Muslim people and he promised to adhere to a “language of respect” in dealing with issues of concern to the Muslim people. He admitted mistakes had been made but did not delve into how Bush had fouled up the situation in the region. Many viewers were disappointed that he once again reaffirmed his nation’s support of Israel, but made no mention of the invasion of Gaza and the death of hundreds of civilians.

It is time for an American president to state openly and honestly that his nation has committed mistakes in the Middle East, and that peace between Israel and Palestinians requires concessions on the part of both parties. He must, at some point, tell the people of Israel they can not remain on the West Bank, but must return it to the Palestinian people and Israel must agree that east Jerusalem is the capital of the new Palestinian state. In return, Obama must make clear to Palestinians they can not lob rockets into Israel, and they must recognize its existence and end all forms of discrimination against Israel.

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Hamas bombing, Israeli airstrike shake Gaza truce

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian roadside bomb killed an Israeli soldier patrolling the border with Gaza on Tuesday, and Israel responded with an airstrike that wounded a Hamas militant in a flare-up of violence that undermined a cease-fire on the eve of a visit by the new U.S. Mideast envoy.

Israel briefly sent tanks and bulldozers across the border into Gaza after its soldier was killed and three others were wounded in the bombing. Hamas said the Israeli airstrike wounded one of its militants as he rode a motorcycle in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis.

It was the worst bloodshed since the sides declared the cease-fire on Jan. 18 to end a three-week Israeli offensive.

Since withdrawing its troops, Israel has threatened to retaliate hard for any violations of the informal truce.

"We will respond, but there is no point in elaborating," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a trip to a military base in southern Israel. Later, he convened an emergency meeting of top security officials. He spoke with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after the meeting, but no details were released.

Olmert later hinted that a much tougher response could soon follow, telling a gathering of senior civil servants that Israel is not bound by any formal cease-fire with Hamas. "Israel's response has yet to come," he said.

Early Wednesday, Gaza residents reported two Israeli air strikes targeted smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. There were no immediate reports of injury but hundreds of people fled the area.

Israel's military had no immediate comment on the report and the purpose of the strikes wasn't clear. One of the goals of Israel's offensive has been to halt weapons smuggling, but despite hundreds of strikes during the war smugglers resumed work after the cease-fire.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but Ramattan, a Palestinian news agency, later released a video of the roadside bombing allegedly filmed by militants it did not identify.

The video showed a large explosion next to a jeep moving on the Israeli side of the border fence. A huge plume of smoke emerges as the jeep stops. Two Israeli soldiers are then seen running toward the jeep, and gunfire is directed at them before a secondary blast hits them, too.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a "lull" in fighting. "The Zionists are responsible for any aggression," he said.

After Tuesday's blast, heavy gunfire was heard along the border in central Gaza, and hovering Israeli helicopters fired machine gun bursts, Palestinian witnesses said. An Israeli jet set off a loud sonic boom over Gaza City not long afterward, possibly as a warning.

Palestinian residents said Israeli tanks and bulldozers also entered the area where the roadside bombing took place and were tearing up some vacant land — apparently to prevent it from being used to stage attacks.

Not long after the bombing, a 27-year-old Gaza farmer was killed by Israeli gunfire along the border several miles away, Palestinian medical officials said. The military had no comment, and it was unclear if the two incidents were related.

The violence cast a shadow over the arrival of George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's special Mideast envoy. Mitchell arrived in Egypt on Tuesday and was set to visit Israel on Wednesday for three days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on how to get stalled peace efforts back on track. Mitchell is expected to meet Olmert, top security officials, and the pro-Western Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Mitchell has no plans to meet with Hamas, which the U.S., Israel and European Union consider a terrorist group. Hamas seized Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas in June 2007. Hamas' control of Gaza, and its refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, are considered major obstacles to peace efforts.

The decision to appoint a presidential envoy and send him to the Middle East so early in the administration is a sign that Obama intends to take a more active approach to the region than did his predecessor. As the man who brokered Northern Ireland's Good Friday peace accord in 1998, Mitchell also brings gravitas to the job and a proven record of resolving seemingly intractable disputes.

In an interview Monday with the Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, Obama said he felt it important to "get engaged right away" in the Mideast. He said he directed Mitchell to talk to "all the major parties involved" and that his administration would craft an approach after that.

"What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Obama said. At his West Bank headquarters, Abbas said he was looking forward to working with the new administration. "Obama has said good words," he told a news conference. "We are waiting and we need to see if this administration is serious on achieving peace within this year."

Abbas also took aim at his Hamas rivals, accusing the group of bringing "destruction" upon the people of Gaza by inviting the Israeli offensive. Israel launched the operation in response to years of Hamas rocket attacks, including heavy barrages in the days before the invasion.

The offensive killed nearly 1,300 people, including hundreds of civilians, and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage. The international community is trying to broker a long-term cease-fire and figure out how to rebuild the coastal territory.

In Gaza, the prime minister of the Hamas government said his group would not try to claim any international construction funds. The announcement from Ismail Haniyeh, who remains in hiding because of fears of being assassinated by Israel, appeared directed at donors who concerned their funds could end up in Hamas' hands.

"Our aim now is to ease the suffering of our people and to remove the aftermath of the aggression in Gaza," the statement said. "Therefore we emphasize that we are not concerned to receive the money for rebuilding Gaza and we are not seeking that."

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Gmail gets offline access with Google Gears

Gmail has just been added to Google Gears - the Google service that let you use its web apps offline - so you’ll be able to bash out Gmail emails without broadband!

Gmail Labs users will now be able to access their Gmail offline, as Google Gears will cache emails, so anyone with overflowing inboxes can plough through their messages anywhere they can take their computer, regardless of whether they can jump online or not.

It’s only in beta of course - even after four years Gmail itself is still in beta - and Google is only giving access to certain testers at the moment, but the option to keep working offline with background syncing is a great step towards a cloud computing utopia.

Google says it’ll be available to all US and UK Gmail users over the next few days, so we’ve yet to test the extent of its features (how much does it cache? How will search be affected?), but of course we’ll keep you posted.

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House to vote on Obama's economic stimulus plan

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's expansive and expensive plan to jump-start the economy is all but certain to clear its first hurdle when the Democratic-controlled House votes on a $825 billion version that melds new spending and tax cuts.

Republican support, however, is in doubt when voting takes place Wednesday.

With Democrats enjoying a comfortable majority and expected to fall in line behind Obama, they don't need help from GOP lawmakers to win House passage of his top priority of economic recovery. But Obama wants Republican support to illustrate his promise of a new style of politics that rejects partisan gridlock.

Despite his desire for partisan backing, the House was moving the bill toward a passage vote that was expected to be largely along party lines.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, while declining to say how he thought Wednesday's vote would turn out, emphasized anew that GOP members are worried about billions in domestic spending that "has nothing to do with creating jobs or preserving jobs."

"We're for more than just cutting taxes," Boehner, R-Ohio, said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

But he also said GOP lawmakers believe that Democratic spending policies would bury the next generation of Americans under "a mountain of debt."

Senate committees were working on a separate version of the measure that enjoyed only slightly more support from Republicans. Congressional leaders have promised Obama they would send him the measure, which could be the single largest bill ever to go through Congress, by mid-February.

In the hours ahead of the House vote, Obama was to make his case for swift passage after meeting at the White House with a group of business CEOs to discuss the plan _ just as debate on the measure is in full swing up Pennsylvania Avenue.

The president's first days in office have been dominated by his efforts to drum up bipartisan support for the sweeping plan to jerk the country out of the year-old recession that he inherited from former President George W. Bush. The increasingly troublesome economy _ and the federal government's response to it _ is the first major test of Obama's presidency; how he handles the volatile situation, and the effect of his stimulus package on the economy, could well set the tone for his first year in office, if not his entire term.

He is casting the measure as the first step toward turning around the moribund economy while laying the foundation for long-term objectives, like developing alternative energy sources and rebuilding the country's highways.

"The statistics every day underscore the urgency of the economic situation. The American people expect action," Obama said after closed-door meetings with Republicans on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

The House measure includes about $550 billion in spending and roughly $275 billion in tax cuts in hopes of spurring the economy and helping those directly affected. Much of the spending would be for items such as health care, jobless benefits, food stamps and other programs that benefit victims of the downturn.

As debate on the measure began Tuesday, most Democrats trumpeted it as the elixir for what ails their jobless constituents and pressed for passage; Republicans generally griped about "insane" programs that would be funded in the plan and "minuscule" tax relief for small businesses as they urged opposition.

"This could be one of our roughest times our great nation has faced economically," said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. But he added, with passage of the bill, "this country is going to be healthy, educated and competitive."

"Instead of bringing a bill that will stimulate our economy what we see before us is a bill that will simply stimulate big government," countered Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas. "You cannot borrow and spend your way to prosperity."

The legislation "isn't an economic stimulus bill but a rampant spending spree," said Rep. Harold Roger, R-Ky.

Democrats made one small change, voting to delete $20 million intended for renovating the National Mall. Republicans had criticized the expenditure as wasteful.

Across Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 21-9 to support a $366 billion spending portion of the plan. Four Republicans voted with the majority _ Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Christopher Bond of Missouri and Susan Collins of Maine _ even though they had strong reservations.

Senate Democrats also accepted attaching to the bill a one-year extension of the Alternative Minimum Tax fix aimed at saving primarily higher-income taxpayers about $70 billion. That would increase the Senate bill's total to about $900 billion.

In both the House and Senate, Obama has reached out to Republicans who want less spending and more tax cuts in the legislation, and he has promised to consider their concerns _ and alternative proposals _ as it winds its way through Congress.

During his meetings with Republicans, Obama indicated he stands ready to accept changes in the legislation. Republicans who attended the sessions said the president did not agree to any specific changes, but pledged to have his aides consider some that deal with additional tax relief for businesses and provisions that were suggested by individual GOP lawmakers.

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(A Government of India Undertaking)
Head Office : Manipal-576104, Karnataka

Job Description : Syndicate Bank, a Premier Nationalised Bank, invites applications from Indian citizens for the posts indicated here below :

HR/IR Officers in MMGS-II : 55 posts
(UR-29, SC-8,ST-4,OBC-14)

Pay Scale : Rs.13820-19920

Age : 25-32 years
Probationary Officers in JMGS-I : 1300 posts
(UR-657, SC-195, ST-97, OBC-351)

Pay Scale : Rs.10000-18240/-

Age : 21-30 years.
Probationary Clerks : 400 posts
(UR-231, SC-60,ST-14,OBC-95) in various states

Pay Scale : Rs.4410-13210/-

Age : 18-28 years.
Age relaxation by Govt. rules.

Application Fee : Officers - Rs.200/- (Rs.50/- for SC/ST/PH) and Rs.150/- (Rs.50/- for SC/ST/PH) Probationary Clerk, should be paid at any branch of the Syndicate Bank in the prescribed payment vouchers. Where there is no branch of Syndicate Bank then can be send in the form of bank DD (saperate for each post) in favour of “Syndicate Bank Recruitment Project -2009″ payable at Udupi.

Apply: All eligible candidates should apply in the prescribed Application format in A - 4 size paper (11.69” X 8.27”). Application complete in all respect should be sent only by ordinary post in a closed envelope superscribed “APPLICATION FOR THE POST OF _______” , On the following address :

For Officers : Syndicate Bank Recruitment Project - 2009, Post Box No. 64, Manipal - 576104, Udupi District, Karnataka
For Probationary Clerk: Syndicate Bank Recruitment Project - 2009, Post Box No. 105, Udupi-576101, Udupi District, Karnataka

Last Date To Apply : The last date of the receipt of the completed application form is 27/02/2009 and for far-flung areas last date is 06/03/2009.

For Details Visit :

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NMIMS Declares NMAT 2008 Results

Yup..NMAT 2008 results are finally set to release on January 28, 2009 morning or afternoon.

Keep checking the home page of NMIMS for update on results ,NMAT 2009 results links will be updated here as soon as they get released.

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Keller Independent School District

Keller Independent School District is one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas, Keller ISD is proud to boast two National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, 27 TEA Exemplary and Recognized schools and the 2007 Texas State Secondary Teacher of the Year. As you can see from keller ISD accolades, keller ISD priorities lie in building the foundation for a bright future for the students of Keller ISD. Keller ISD believes that education is a partnership among schools, parents and the community. A strong endorsement of this partnership is the passing of fkeller ISD bond programs, by keller ISD residents, during the past decade to renew and expand school facilities and curriculum.

Keeping keller ISD schools on the cutting edge of the education community's use of technological advances, helping keller ISD students understand today's technology and grooming them to excel in the global marketplace, is a top priority in Keller ISD.

Keller ISD students

In 2005-06, Keller ISD graduates were offered $21.5 million in scholarships, a figure up more than $10 million in the last five years.

Activities beyond the classroom also play a major role in fulfilling keller ISD goals for students. Students participating in academic decathlon, athletics, band, cheerleading, choir, DECA, drama, drill team and other UIL competitions have enjoyed the thrill of championship recognition.

Keller ISD enrollment growth

Keller ISD has 35 campuses serving more than 30,000 students. Enrollment in Keller ISD has more than doubled during the past 10 years and is expected to rise to more than 40,000 during the next decade, making us one of the fastest-growing school districts in Texas.

To help accommodate this growth, the district has opened 23 new schools since 2000, including a third high school in 2003. The community approved a bond proposal in November 2006 that will allow for the construction of a fkeller ISDth high school, set to open its doors in 2009.
Keller ISD students advance through a fkeller ISD-tier system: Elementary (grades K-4), Intermediate (grades 5-6), Middle (grades 7-8) and High School (grade 9-12).

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1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square

Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest in Peking's (Beijing) Tiananmen Square.

Tanks rumbled through the capital's streets late on 3 June as the army moved into the square from several directions, randomly firing on unarmed protesters.

The injured were rushed to hospital on bicycle rickshaws by frantic residents shocked by the army's sudden and extreme response to the peaceful mass protest.
Demonstrators, mainly students, had occupied the square for seven weeks, refusing to move until their demands for democratic reform were met.

The protests began with a march by students in memory of former party leader Hu Yaobang, who had died a week before.

But as the days passed, millions of people from all walks of life joined in, angered by widespread corruption and calling for democracy.

Tonight's military offensive came after several failed attempts to persuade the protesters to leave.

Throughout the day the government warned it would do whatever it saw necessary to clamp down on what it described as "social chaos".

But even though violence was expected, the ferocity of the attack took many by surprise, bringing condemnation from around the world.

US President George Bush said he deeply deplored the use of force, and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said she was "shocked and appalled by the shootings".

Amid the panic and confusion students could be heard shouting "fascists stop killing," and "down with the government".

At a nearby children's hospital operating theatres were filled with casualties with gunshot wounds, many of them local residents who were not taking part in the protests.

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India vs Srilanka 1st Day ODI Live streaming 2009

Watch India vs Sri Lanka 1st Odi Live StreamingPreview Of the Match

It's going to be a tough, challenging series but we are looking forward to that challenge," Jayawardene said. "Things happened for us in Pakistan which is good. We should try and continue that trend.

"I put the success that we had in Pakistan [down] to the way we successfully adapted to the tough conditions in Zimbabwe and in Bangladesh," he added. "A lot of younger guys put their hands up and a lot of character was shown in our team. In different situations certain players played really well. That gave a lot of guys the confidence going forward.
While Sri Lanka have been on the road for the past three months, India have enjoyed successes at home, against Australia and England, and the luxury of a break in a cramped schedule thanks to the cancellation of the Pakistan tour - the absence of which has led to Sri Lanka playing both teams

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iPhone 2.2.1 and iPod Touch 2.2.1 Firmware released!

Today Apple has released updates for iPhone firmware 2.2.1, iPhone 3G firmware 2.2.1, iPod Touch firmware 2.2.1, and iPod touch 2G firmware 2.2.1. Here are details of what this new firmware includes:

iPhone 2.2.1 Software Update

This update contains bug fixes and improvements, including the following:
- Improved general stability of Safari
- Fixed issue where some images saved from Mail do not display correctly in the Camera Roll

Products compatible with this software update:
- iPhone
- iPhone 3G

It is strongly recommended NOT to upgrade to this new firmware yet because the iPhone Dev Team is investigating the firmware and checking whether or not the firmware can be jailbroken. As of right now it is not possible to jailbreak iPhone 2.2.1, jailbreak iPhone 3G 2.2.1, or jailbreak iPod Touch 2.2.1 . If you want to try this firmware on a non-jailbroken iPhone here are the download links:
Firmware 2.2.1 Download Links

Download iPhone 2.2.1 firmware

Download iPhone 3G 2.2.1 firmware

Download iPod Touch 2.2.1 firmware

Download iPod Touch 2G 2.2.1 firmware

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SarahPAC, the Official Political Action Committee for Sarah Palin Fans

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (signing an autograph at Elon University, left) has started her Political Action Committee, SarahPAC.

According to the website, the PAC is "dedicated to building America's future, supporting fresh ideas, and candidates who support our ideas for reform and innovation."

No doubt she will use this as a fund-raising vehicle for her Presidential bid in 2012. Meanwhile, Palin has been busy working with top conservative leaders, to help remake the Republican Party into a more Reaganesque group.

Palin and your blogger are the same age and were teens when Reagan became President. Thus, being a member of the "Reagan generation", Palin was greatly affected by his message of a stronger defense, a smaller government, and a supply side economy. She seeks to return the party to those ideals and away from being a party of big government, as we had sadly become in more recent years.

Perhaps SarahPAC will do just that.

Your blogger is a member of a social networking group known as "Team Sarah" and it will be interesting to see the buzz about the PAC on that site.

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Obama's First Presidential Interview...on Al Arabiya

President Barack Hussein Obama elected to do his first official presidential interview with Arab news station al-Arabiya.

As is normal with the new president, there were a great many platitudes and few specifics.

Two things I found significant.

One of the things was Obama's promise to restore relations with the Arab world to "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago..." or to those of you who can't be bothered to count backwards, to the Clinton and Carter years respectively.

That appears to be pretty much where we're heading.

The second thing was his choice of al-Arabiya itself as a venue. While not a s radical as al-Jazeera or al-Manor, al-Arabiya is not exactly a paragon of moderationas most Americans would look at it.

Obama's entire tone is similar to Bush's statement about appointing an envoy to the jihad friendly anti-Semitic Organization of Islamic Councils ( OIC) "to listen and to learn."

While the president's non-confrontational tone is understandable, in order to restore relations with the Arab world as he says he wants, he is going to have to give them Israel's scalp, endorse the Saudi 'peace' ultimatum in full and radically change America's foreign policy.

Given the steps he's taken in the last few days and the nature of the advisers around him, I wouldn't be surprised if that's exactly what he has in mind.

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Republicans Try To Triangulate: Obama, Good: House Dems, Bad

An opposition party has to oppose someone, right?

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama held separate meetings with GOP leaders in the House and Senate to discuss the stimulus bill moving through Congress. Afterward, the Republicans talked very nicely about the new president, saying that they appreciated that Obama was reaching out and listening to them. During the meetings, several of the Republicans noted that they welcomed "the tone that [Obama] had brought to Washington" and his "willingness to seek their views," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. In fact, Gibbs added, Representative Mike Pence, a leading conservative from Indiana, ended the House-side meeting by declaring that the door to the Republican House conference would always be open to Obama.

As a matter or realpolitik, the Republicans had little choice but to be darn gracious toward Obama. The president's early approval ratings are stratospheric. And with the economic crash continuing (if not accelerating, given this week's job loss numbers), a majority of Americans are rooting for the president, hoping whatever he tries to do about the economy will succeed. On Monday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out an email touting a poll noting that 66 percent of Americans support the economic stimulus package put together by the Democrats in the House and supported by Obama. It would be foolish--except for Republicans from the most Limbaugh-loving areas of the nation--to stand in Obama's way. And, no small matter, the GOPers don't have the votes--particularly in the House--to stop him and the Democrats.

But can the Republicans simply cave? They have raised a fuss about certain portions of the stimulus package, labeling some provisions pork and calling for more tax cuts. Their complaints about a provision that would extend birth control coverage under Medicaid did lead Obama to ask the House Dems to jettison this piece of package. (And jettisoned it was.) But the Republicans have not gone after Obama.

Consider this statement released by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor after the meeting with Obama:

Today, we had another positive exchange of ideas with President Obama where Republicans reinforced the need to help middle-class families and small businesses....Now that we have presented workable solutions to the President, Republicans to target the wasteful and non-stimulative spending House Democrats are pushing for in their version of the stimulus package.

This is the third time we have met with President Obama and we appreciate his openness to Republican solutions. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats have not shown the same willingness for bipartisan compromise – and that is reflected in their bill. As currently written, the Congressional Democrats’ plan will do very little for small businesses and is unlikely to help working families struggling today.

Cantor also referred to the stimulus package as nothing but a "partisan" piece of legislation. At the afternoon press briefing at the White House, I asked Gibbs if such tough talk about the bill was inconsistent with the celebration of cordiality that was occurring on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue? And did Cantor's remarks signal that, regardless of the kind words about Obama's tone, ultimately the president can only win passage of the package in a partisan fight? In response, Gibbs dismissed Cantor's attempt to denigrate the bill, saying, this was merely "the opinion of one of 535 members of Congress who has decided not to support the bill." In other words, the White House did not fire back.

See the GOP's balancing act? Obama, good; House Democrats, bad. But Obama wants the House bill to pass; the legislation is essentially his package. Still, the Republicans insist on tagging it as the initiative of the House Democrats. They are triangulating. Or trying to do so.

Their calculation is obvious. They cannot take on Obama. So they are endeavoring to discredit the stimulus bill by tying it to those ol' spend-and-spend Democrats. Their hope is that they can win political points by blasting supposedly profligate Dems while speaking cordially of the ever-popular new president. But the problem (for them) is that the Dems and Obama are united in supporting this stimulus package. There's not enough distance between them for the in-the-minority Republicans to exploit. In the end, the Republicans' choice will be to yield to the force of Obama or to be recorded as having voted against a stimulus package when the economy was cratering. Branding the stimulus legislation a House Democratic concoction won't provide them much cover for voting nay. At this tough moment for the Republicans, using the House Democrats as a punching bag may feel good. But their actual opponent in the ring is Obama. And their arms are far too short to box with him.

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Rabbit, rest: John Updike, 1932-2009


At least, we can wish so for John Updike, the creator of the vivid American everyman Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, who through several novels fell from the heights of high school basketball stardom into the cultural maelstrom of the 1960s and ’70s, tried the straight and narrow, made a fool of himself over women, became desperate, became rich, became old, and always, always, kept searching for … for what? For whatever it is we search for in this nervous, impatient nation of ours.

Today, at the early age of 76, Updike died from lung cancer in a Massachusetts hospice near his home. A novelist, short-story writer, essayist and poet of prodigious output whose work was praised for its grace and humor and panned for all sorts of reasons, up to and including the purported clumsiness of his sex scenes (just last November Britain’s Literary Review magazine awarded him the Bad Sex in Fiction lifetime achievement award), Updike seemed an unlikely subject for the occasional exasperation and pettiness that his work attracted. Maybe it was because he and many of his characters were unapologetically middle class in their underpinnings — too high an aspiration for some of his critics, too low an aspiration for others. Mark Feeney, writing in today’s Boston Globe, quotes Updike: “When I write, I aim in my mind not toward New York but toward a vague spot a little to the east of Kansas.”

To me, there was honor in that so-American attempt to create myth from the everyday and supposedly mundane, as he did in his Rabbit novels and in such writings as his early novel The Centaur. Stylistically the two writers had almost nothing in common, but it’s apt to note that, in the theatrical world, Arthur Miller did the same thing. And wasn’t Walt Whitman, when he sang the possibilities of the men and women of this adolescent country, thinking of the same sort of people who would come to find themselves caught in the webs that Updike strove to understand?

For all of Rabbit’s importance, and for all the fuss his Witches of Eastwick and other novels sometimes kicked up, I have an abiding affection for another Updike character: Henry Bech, the irascible, august fictional novelist who eventually ascends from the mess of his everyday existence to become a winner of the Nobel Prize. Bech is the central character in what may be the funniest scene ever written about writer’s block — when he sits on a Caribbean beach, drinks and nubile companionship and fat publisher’s fee at hand, with no task but to autograph a huge pile of one of his novels, and finally becomes so paralyzed that his pen freezes in midair: He’s forgot his name.

We’ll not forget the names of Bech, and Rabbit, and John Updike. Rest well, gentlemen. You deserve it.

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