Saturday, December 31, 2011

Emma Watson & Justin Bieber Have Most Influential Hair

Move over Jennifer Aniston, there are new hairstyle icons in town! Emma Watson and Justin Bieber have been named the most influential celebrities of 2011 when it comes to popular hairstyles.


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Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 coming sometime in 2012 with 'enhanced' Tegra 3 version

Youtube link for mobile viewing

SEGA today announced that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 will be coming to the Android Market and NVIDIA's Tegra Zone app sometime in 2012. No word on exactly when, however. But we do know that it'll be optimized for Tegra 2 devices -- and it'll have an "enhanced" version for the new quad-core Tegra 3 tablets and (eventually) smartphones.

And ... that's it for now. Check out the promo video above, and we've got the full presser after the break.

read more


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Friday, December 30, 2011

Live Blog for #Occupy Movement: National Mall?s Union Square to Be Controlled by Capitol Police

10:46 PM Foreclosed home in Oakland that had been occupied is raided. Police cleared the home, arrested at least twelve people and then proceeded to board up the property. It is possible the home had been occupied since December 6.

10:25 PM While Nancy Pelosi is in her posh hotel suite in Hawaii for the holidays, Occupy Hawaiian Island plans to pay her a visit (along with jet setting 1%ers).

10:20 PM A man showed up to Legislative Plaza, Occupy Nashville?s home base, went off on some rant about the military, threatened to burn the plaza to the ground and then proceeded to light sleeping bags on fire.

7:37 PM Occupy Harrisburg is not going anywhere.

6:28 PM Three arrested at rally in front of Iowa Democratic Party headquarters

5:55 PM The Davis Enterprise, a newspaper local to UC Davis, names the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students the #1 story of the year.

5:40 PM The conservative echo chamber is working overtime to bring down Ron Paul, as he continues to poll high in Iowa. The Weekly Standard runs this post ?Ron Paul Praises Occupy Wall Street.? It includes a ?transcript? of remarks from Paul. He compares Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party.

?There?s a lot of people unhappy, and they?re not so happy with the two-party system because we have had people go in and out of office, congress changes, the presidency changes, they run on one thing, they do something else. Nothing ever changes?

?They would like to see changes. And if the conditions get much worse, the demonstrations on the streets could get much worse, too. And that?s what we have to be aware of. But fortunately we still live in a free enough society where they can speak out. If they violate property rights, if anybody violates property rights, they do it at risk. Because that means they?re practicing civil disobedience and they might have to suffer the consequences.? But there are sometimes people [who] believe civil disobedience in order to make a point on what?s wrong with our laws that?s, they have to understand, that?s the risk they take. But basically I think it?s healthy on both sides, both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement.

5:00 PM Free Press? Josh Stearns wins Storify?s Story of the Year. Cited here multiple times, this exemplary Storify tracked, confirmed and verified reports of journalist arrests at Occupy protests. You can read more about the story and why Stearns felt compelled to use Storify to track the arrests here.

4:57 PM The first Occupy Wall Street feature documentary: 99% ? The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film

4:55 PM Judge rules Twitter must comply with ?secret? subpoena for user data that Boston Police claim they need for a criminal investigation.

3:05 PM Fear alert: Pasadena police chief Phillip Sanchez, ahead of the Rose Parade, says he isn?t worried about Occupy?s plans for an ?orchestrated protest? but rather he is worried about an Occupy ?lone wolf.?

?If they are a lone wolf acting independently they are difficult to deal with,? Sanchez said. ?Any individual looking to act is more difficult to deal with.? In other words, one of the protesters could have plans to commit terrorism or violence.

This, of course, is a fear for law enforcement at any public event or gathering these days, especially in a post-9/11 world. Such a concern should not be something viewed as a result of the Occupy movement, something Sanchez does not bother to make clear.

2:00 PM On the Twitter user affiliated with Occupy Boston, who goes by ?Guido Fawkes?: the account was subpoenaed secretly but Twitter has a policy of notifying users when law enforcement and governmental requests are made for their personal information. So, this means the secret subpoena did not stay secret for long. More here at CNET.

1:50 PM Occupy Providence agrees to leave and go home if the city opens a daytime homeless shelter. The city?s public safety commissioner takes issue.

1:45 PM FDL?s David Dayen posts a kind of round up on action in Iowa. Occupiers have been ramping up activity as the Iowa Caucus looms.

Original Post

The Washington Post reports Union Square, an area known for holding demonstrations, will no longer be controlled by the National Park Service. The Capitol Police would now control the Square and be in control of awarding permits for rallies or events.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Washington-based Partnership for Civil Justice, which the Post says ?advocates for protest groups,? is extremely troubled by this development.

The Park Service rules and obligations on First Amendment activities have been forged by 40 years of very intense litigation?The Capitol Police?.?.?.?permitting system, I would have to say in my own experience?.?.?.?is perhaps among the most arbitrary and restrictive?If they?re going to be expanding their jurisdiction out into areas that have been used historically by people, they are inviting litigation.

The decision to transfer is allegedly a result of ?security-driven issues.? The Senate?s chief law enforcement officer, Terrance W. Gainer, scoffed at the idea that this would have any bearing on protests. But, if Verheyden-Hilliard experience suggests what lies ahead for those trying to exercise their First Amendment rights in Union Square from this point forward, there could be problems.

An Occupy Congress action is scheduled for January 17, 2012, outside Capitol Hill. It has been reported, also by?the Post, that a permit application was submitted to the Park Service. So, it would seem the Capitol Police will now have power over this demonstration when it happens on January 17. (Whether they would be in charge of approving a permit or not for this event is unclear).

Firedoglake?s premier live blog resumes now. All times are EST. Email with any news tips, questions or updates.


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Ohio Medicaid cancer patients survive less time (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) ? Cancer patients on Medicaid survive less time after their diagnosis than people with private or no insurance, data from Ohio show.

Looking only at highly treatable types of tumors, researchers found Medicaid enrollees were between 1.6 and 2.4 times as likely as other patients to die of their disease within five years.

It's unclear exactly how to interpret those findings, but researchers agree they're important.

"This shows that there are problems at a national level that we need to be aware of," said Dr. Derek Raghavan, who worked on the study.

"While Medicaid is potentially lifesaving, it is better to be able to support yourself and have insurance that protects at a higher level than just Medicaid," added Raghavan, who heads the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Raghavan and colleagues looked at eight different cancers, such as testicular cancer and early-stage colon and lung cancer, in patients from an Ohio cancer registry.

With treatment patients typically survive more than five years with those diseases, so doctors often refer to them as "curable."

The new study, published in the journal Cancer, tracked more than 11,000 patients with private or no insurance and 1,345 Medicaid beneficiaries, half of whom enrolled after or around the time they got their diagnosis. All were between 15 and 54 years old.

Of the non-Medicaid patients, fewer than one in 10 died within five years of their cancer diagnosis.

By comparison, more than one in five Medicaid patients died during that period, and those who enrolled in Medicaid later survived the shortest time.

The latter result is crucial, said Dr. Karin Rhodes, who directs the Division of Health Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia and was not part of the new research.

"It is actually the impact of being uninsured," she told Reuters Health. "This really highlights the importance of fully implementing the Affordable Care Act and getting everybody fully insured."

However, she said, many factors might be involved in explaining the survival gap. Although the researchers tried to rule out some of those -- age, Zip code, and cancer stage, among others -- it's impossible to account for all the factors that might be at play.

Still, to Rhodes, it's a question of access to good primary care.

"I doubt that there are huge disparities in the type of treatment they got," she said. "I think it is when they got it."

Earlier this year, she published a study showing that sick kids covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) must wait twice as long as those with private insurance to see a specialist.

"Physicians' willingness to give a timely appointment or to give an appointment to someone is directly proportional to how much reimbursement they get," Rhodes said.

What ends up happening is that many patients get treatment too late, she added.

"You are putting a lot of resources at the end of life -- that is where most of our expenses are, as opposed to doing prevention," Rhodes said, adding that the increased reimbursement rates promised with health reform might shift the balance to better preventive care and earlier treatment.

Raghavan was less convinced that differences in early care and prevention can explain his findings.

"What we think is, people who have been on Medicaid for a while understand the system," he told Reuters Health. When they get sick, "it is not such a shock for them" and they have an easier time getting treatment.

He said it's unlikely that the longer survival among non-Medicaid patients reflects more cancer screening, which might spot tumors earlier and that way artificially inflate a cancer patient's lifespan -- a phenomenon called lead-time bias.

"For lead-time bias to be relevant here, we would need to consider all stages of disease," not just the early stages, Raghavan said.

He added that more research is needed to find out whether Medicaid patients get worse treatment than others.

To Raghavan, universal health care is unlikely to get rid of all disparities, but he cautiously agreed with Rhodes that it might be helpful to some degree.

"Providing better insurance potentially will increase survival with one very important caveat, and that is, we need to be sure that our politicians have the mechanism to pay for their plan," he said.

Meanwhile, targeting health care access among minorities could go a long way toward solving the problem, he said.

SOURCE: Cancer, online December 27, 2011.


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Wednesday NCAA: Indiana Hoosiers (12-0) at Michigan State Spartans (11-2) ? NCAAB

27 December 2011 No Comment

Tom Crean?s Indiana Hoosiers have been one of the nation?s biggest surprises so far this year, having yet to taste defeat. But IU gets easily its toughest road test so far when it visits Michigan State on Wednesday night in the Big Ten opener for both. Sparty opened as a slight college basketball bets favorite on

No. 15 Indiana (12-0) does already have a win over former No. 1 team Kentucky this season and that has been the only team able to stay close with the Hoosiers so far. But that game was in Bloomington. This will be only IU?s third true road game, and fewer places are harder to win than in East Lansing. Indiana last took the court Dec. 22, an 89-47 win over UMBC. Christian Watford led IU with 22 points. The Hoosiers heated up from long range in the second half, shooting 69 percent (9 of 13) from the 3-point line after going 2 for 14 in the first half.

The Hoosiers lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage, are fifth in the nation in field goal shooting, second in scoring margin (25.1) and seventh in scoring (84.8). The Hoosiers are also averaging 23.5 points per game off of turnovers. The star of the team is freshman Cody Zeller. He leads the Hoosiers averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is second in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation in field goal percentage, making 66.3 percent of his field goal attempts.

It is somewhat fair to question Indiana?s schedule so far. Of Indiana?s opponents to date, only three ? Kentucky, N.C. State and Notre Dame ? have a winning record. When you combine the opponents? records and take away the 12 losses to Indiana, they are 65-65.

Michigan State?s 13 non-conference opponents have a total record of 89-69. Take away the 11-2 Michigan State results and the record is 87-58. The Spartans have won 11 games in a row since dropping their first two games to North Carolina and Duke. The 11 non-conference wins are the most for MSU since 2007.

No. 17 MSU last took the court Dec. 22 and didn?t look great, beating Lehigh only 90-81 to improve to 9-0 at home this season. Draymond Green had 16 points and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double this season. The three-year captain was 7 minutes late for a morning meeting and didn?t start the game. But despite a 5-for-17 performance from the field, he made an impact with a career-high six blocks.

Michigan State has won five in a row vs. Indiana, but was pushed to overtime last January in East Lansing before winning 84-83.

Place your college basketball bets at our online sportsbook!


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mitt Romney on Jobs and Economy

Romney Presidential Campaign

1:20p Mitt Romney Meet & Greet and Discusses Jobs & the Economy
1:20-2:20p ET, Homer s Deli and Bakery, Clinton, Iowa

1:20p Mitt Romney Meet & Greet and Discusses Jobs & the Economy
1:20-2:20p ET, Homer s Deli and Bakery, Clinton, Iowa

58 minutes | 190 Views


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Police Prep For Do It Yourself Parade In Santa Cruz

POSTED: 6:26 pm PST December 26, 2011
UPDATED: 6:33 pm PST December 26, 2011

Police have called in extra officers to work on New Year?s Eve as do it yourselfers plan for an unpermitted parade in downtown Santa Cruz. The city has created triple fine zones to keep the mayhem to a minimum this coming weekend.


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College Sues Obama Admin Over Morning After Pill Mandate

by Kristen Walker | Washington, DC | | 12/28/11 5:43 PM

The Washington Times reported Thursday that Colorado Christian College is suing the Obama administration.

If you?re thinking to yourself, ?Self, if someone?s suing the Obama administration it?s probably because of health care,? well, you?re right. Last year, Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, issued a mandate as part of the health care reform bill requiring businesses to pay for Plan B and ella, two ?emergency? contraceptives.

Insurers will be required to provide these medications ? which can be used to cause abortions ? without a co-pay. In layman?s terms, they would be free.

But you and I know nothing is free. Who pays for that abortion pill? The taxpayer. In other words: you.

Although medical literature states these drugs will not terminate an ?established? pregnancy, they don?t tell you exactly what ?established? means. The drug information for both Plan B and ella states that they can stop or delay ovulation, or they can keep a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterine wall.

When used effectively as an emergency contraceptive, it is obviously too late for the drug to keep a woman from ovulating. The woman takes the drug in that case to keep a fertilized egg ? which is to say, a zygote; which is to say, a living human being ? from implanting in the uterus. This is, quite simply, a very early abortion.

Colorado Christian College is suing on the grounds that this mandate violates freedom of speech and religion. There are still a few exceptions being made for religious objections, but the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and other organizations ? such as Colorado Christian College ? are saying the exemptions are not broad enough.

This week the USCCB ran a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post condemning the mandate. ?As written, the rule will force Catholic organizations that play a vital role in providing health care and other needed services either to violate their conscience or severely curtail those services,? the ad said. ?This would harm both religious freedom and access to health care.?

Discussing this with someone, I heard an argument I often hear: ?Well, you don?t get to choose where your tax money goes.?

I have two answers to that argument. First: well, we do get to choose. By voting. Except we the people did not get to vote on abortion. The Supreme Court discovered a right to abortion in the Constitution one day. ?Oh, hey, look! There it is!?

Second: so we don?t all get to order where our taxes go, a la carte. It would be pretty cool if you could fill in a little form and say, ?I want my money to only go to schools and roads, not to pay grants to ?artists? who submerge sharks in formaldehyde and call it ?Untitled No. 3: Man?s Existential Dilemma? so they can get invited to parties in SoHo.? It doesn?t work that way. We pay taxes and the government spends our money however they want.

But wait a second! We?re supposed to be in charge of the government and how it spends our money. In theory, they work for us.

So where do we draw the line? Here?s a hypothetical: we all wake up tomorrow and the President or the Speaker of the House comes on TV and says, ?Good morning, my fellow Americans. We?ve decided that 80% of all tax revenues will be spent building a giant machine that will find and murder all the world?s puppies.? Couldn?t we object to ? and stop ? our tax dollars being spent on a puppy-killing machine?

Or let?s say a government representative came on TV and said, ?From now on, some of your money is going to be spent to pay for other people?s abortions, and if you refuse, you?ll be fined.? That is exactly what?s happening.

All pro-lifers should be educated about these so-called ?abortion pills.? Our whole argument ? our entire cause ? is based on the simple, scientific fact that a unique, priceless human life begins at the moment of conception. If this is true ? and it is ? Plan B or ella, when used effectively as an emergency contraceptive, is every bit as responsible for the death of a living person as an abortionist.

Can we, as members of a free society, require people to participate ? financially or otherwise ? in an act they believe is wrong? This issue is different from one of, say, national defense, where Congress has the Constitutional authority to act as they see fit on behalf of the nation. This is the case of a private individual committing what I believe to be murder, and expecting me to foot the bill.

What do you think? Does Colorado Christian College have a case? Do you have a problem paying for other people?s abortions, whether caused by a pill or surgically? Note: Kristen Walker is Vice President of New Wave Feminists.This post originally appeared at the Live Action blog and is reprinted with permission.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Key dates in the life of North Korea's Kim Jong Il (AP)

Key dates in the history of North Korea and its late leader Kim Jong Il:

? April 15, 1912: North Korean founder Kim Il Sung is born in Pyongyang.

? Feb. 16, 1942: Kim Jong Il is born in a guerrilla fighters' camp on Mount Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean peninsula, according to official North Korean history. Some sources say he was born in a Siberian village, and that the year of his birth was 1941.

? Sept. 9, 1948: Kim Il Sung establishes the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the northern half of the Korean peninsula.

? June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South Korea.

? July 27, 1953: The Korean War ends in a truce, not a peace treaty.

? September 1973: Kim Jong Il assumes the Workers Party's No. 2 post ? the secretary for the party's organization, guidance and propaganda affairs.

? February 1974: Kim Jong Il is elected to the Political Bureau of the Workers Party's Central Committee and formally becomes North Korea's future leader.

? Oct. 10, 1980: Kim Jong Il's status as the country's future leader is made public at the Workers' Party congress, where he takes up other top positions.

? Jan. 8, 1983: Kim Jong Il's third and youngest son Jong Un is believed to have been born.

? Dec. 24, 1991: Kim Jong Il is named Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army.

? April 1993: Kim Jong Il is named Chairman of the National Defense Commission.

? July 8, 1994: Kim Il Sung dies of a heart attack and Kim Jong Il inherits power.

? Oct. 8, 1997: Kim Jong Il is named General Secretary of the Workers' Party.

? August 2008: Kim Jong Il reportedly suffers a stroke.

? July 21, 2010: The U.S. imposes new sanctions on North Korea in a bid to stem Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

? Sept. 28, 2010: Kim Jong Un is promoted to four-star general and given leadership roles in the ruling Workers' Party ? moves seen as confirmation that he is slated to become the country's next leader. The announcement is North Korean state media's first mention of Kim Jong Un.

? Oct. 10, 2010: Kim Jong Un makes his public debut at what is believed to be the largest military parade the communist state has ever staged. The celebration in Pyongyang marks the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party but also serves as a coming-out party for the younger Kim.

? Oct. 11, 2010: Kim Jong Nam, the casino-loving eldest son of Kim Jong Il, says he opposes a hereditary transfer of power to his youngest half-brother. Analysts say Kim Jong Nam spends so much time outside his native land that his opinion carries little weight. He spoke to Japan's TV Asahi in an interview from Beijing.

? Jan. 28, 2011: Kim Jong Nam says his father opposed continuing the family dynasty into a third generation but named his youngest son as heir to keep the country stable, according to TV Asahi.

? Feb. 16, 2011: Kim Jong Il celebrates his 69th birthday.

? April 15, 2011: North Koreans honor the country's founder, Kim Il Sung, on the 99th anniversary of his birth. It is the nation's most important holiday and known as "The Day of the Sun."

? Dec. 19, 2011: State media announce that Kim Jong Il died Dec. 17 at the age of 69.

? Dec. 28, 2011: Funeral planned for Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.


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Mexico, Guatemala collaborate to strengthen border security

backgroundblue line Monday 26th December, 2011

Mexico, Guatemala collaborate to strengthen border security ??

?????Monday 26th December, 2011??Source: People's Daily ??
Mexican President Felipe Calderon (L) and his Guatemalan counterpart Alvaro Colom arrive at a joint press conference at the official residence Los Pinos, in Mexico City, capital of Mexico, on July 27, 2011.
(Xinhua/David de la Paz)

Breaking News
Monday 26th December, 2011

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Indian tycoon has tons of cash, nowhere to invest

In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 photo, billionaire Indian tycoon Ajay Piramal speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Mumbai, India. In May last year, Piramal's healthcare business sold its generic drug operations to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories for $3.8 billion. Piramal was eager to set that cash pile to work and wanted to expand one of his chemical plants, but was told it would take five years. With the country mired in corruption, bureaucratic red tape and unclear and changing government policies, many of the men who made their billions here are saying maybe it's time to quit India. It's got to be easier to do business elsewhere. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 photo, billionaire Indian tycoon Ajay Piramal speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Mumbai, India. In May last year, Piramal's healthcare business sold its generic drug operations to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories for $3.8 billion. Piramal was eager to set that cash pile to work and wanted to expand one of his chemical plants, but was told it would take five years. With the country mired in corruption, bureaucratic red tape and unclear and changing government policies, many of the men who made their billions here are saying maybe it's time to quit India. It's got to be easier to do business elsewhere. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

In this Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 photo, billionaire Indian tycoon Ajay Piramal speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office in Mumbai, India. In May last year, Piramal's healthcare business sold its generic drug operations to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories for $3.8 billion. Piramal was eager to set that cash pile to work and wanted to expand one of his chemical plants, but was told it would take five years. With the country mired in corruption, bureaucratic red tape and unclear and changing government policies, many of the men who made their billions here are saying maybe it's time to quit India. It's got to be easier to do business elsewhere. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

MUMBAI, India (AP) ? Ajay Piramal is sitting on a mountain of cash. Yet the billionaire Indian tycoon, working in one of the world's fastest growing economies, is struggling to decide what to do with the money.

The problem isn't opportunity, he said. It's India.

"Every large investment, there was no transparency," Piramal said.

His dilemma is a worrying sign for India. With the country mired in corruption, bureaucratic red tape and unclear and changing government policies, many of the men who made their billions here are saying maybe it's time to quit India. It's got to be easier to do business elsewhere.

In May last year, Piramal's healthcare business sold its generic drug operations to U.S. pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories for $3.8 billion. Piramal, a tall big man in a country that still measures prosperity by girth, was eager to set that cash pile to work. He wanted to expand one of his chemical plants, but was told it would take five years.

"The same plant could be set up in China in two years," he said. "I love India, but my customer is not going to wait."

India, still a beacon of relatively fast growth despite a troubled world economy, should be a magnet for capital. Instead, since the beginning of 2010, the amount that Indians have invested in businesses overseas has exceeded the amount foreigners are investing in India, according to central bank figures.

In part this reflects the confidence and aptitude of India's maturing companies and the current malaise in the global economy and financial markets. But it also reflects deep problems at home. India's big coporations may be cash rich but the failure to invest that money domestically is bad news for a developing country that needs capital to build the roads, power plants and food warehouses that could help lift hundreds of millions out of dire poverty.

The frustration of India's business elite with corruption, political paralysis, log-jammed approvals, regulatory flip-flops, lack of access to natural resources and land acquisition battles ? to pick a few of the top complaints ? has reached a pitch perhaps not heard since India began liberalizing its economy in the early 1990s.

"If you are an honest businessman in India, it's very difficult to start up anything," said Jamshyd Godrej, chairman of manufacturing giant Godrej & Boyce. "Companies are going to operate where they see the best opportunities and efficiency for their capital."

Increasingly, that's outside India.

In 2008, foreigners poured roughly twice as much direct investment into India ? $33 billion ? as Indians plowed into businesses overseas. By 2010, that had reversed: Indians invested $40 billion abroad ? twice as much as foreigners invested in India ? a trend that's continued this year.

There is another, unspoken element to all the complaints. To the extent that business in India ran on corruption, some of the old, dirty ways of doing things are being disrupted, freezing India's already glacial bureaucracy, business leaders say.

Scandals in the staging of the Commonwealth Games, the pilfering of homes meant for war widows and the irregular auction of cellphone spectrum that cost the country billions has sent parliamentarians and even a Cabinet minister to prison.

With Indians tiring of the incessant graft, tens of thousands of middle-class protesters poured into the streets and pushed an anti-corruption bill onto the floor of Parliament.

Steelmakers can't get enough iron ore because a massive mining scandal in the southern state of Karnataka prompted a court to order the closure of illicit mines that account for a fifth of iron ore production in the country.

The bureaucrats ? even the honest ones ? are reportedly so scared of being punished they are refusing to make the decisions needed to make the country run.

Piramal is not unpatriotic. Each room in his executive suite is named after an Indian epic hero: Arjuna, the most pure; Dhananjay, acquirer and master of wealth. There's a quote from the Upanishads scriptures on the wall.

His office sits in a one-million-square-foot office park in Mumbai his family built. The buildings around him ? white with blue glass that flashes back the unforgiving sun ? bear his own name in large black letters: Piramal Towers.

Piramal had the will and the means to build power plants and roads.

Instead, his Piramal Group's largest investment to date has been in one of the office park's tenants: the Indian subsidiary of the British telecom giant Vodafone Plc.

Last September, when he got the first payout, of $2.2 billion, from Abbott, the phone started ringing.

"Because people knew we had money, we had so many people approaching us for projects in the infrastructure sector," he said. "These people had no experience and no knowledge and no track record of having built a business in any area. And yet they were coming to us saying we have licenses and approvals. That just didn't sound right or smell right."

Each day, they paraded through his office: The investment banker who decided to build a 500-megawatt power plant, the coal trader assured of a government coal allocation, small-time miners with pretty presentations promising land, licenses and financing.

"They'd name politicians from the center and the state who had it all tied up for them," he said. "It didn't sound right. Obviously there were things going on in the system."

Road and port projects weren't much better, he said.

Piramal also looked at investing in engineering and infrastructure services companies, but couldn't make sense of their books.

"We couldn't find anything," he said. "People get greedy. In their desire to get good valuations they resort to, if I can say, creative accounting."

Today, India's infrastructure companies are known as great wealth destroyers.

"Infrastructure investment has become untouchable, a sure way of losing money," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, head of research at SMC Global Securities. He calculates that four of India's top infrastructure companies ? GMR Infrastructure, GVK Power and Infrastructure, Lanco Infratech and Punj Lloyd ? have lost over 80 percent of their value since 2007. A fifth, Larson & Toubro is down 50 percent.

Piramal may have dodged a bullet, but shareholders in Piramal Healthcare aren't happy. Despite a $600 million special dividend and share buyback, the share price has sagged since the Abbott deal was announced on May 21 last year. They'd like to see the Abbott cash productively deployed. Instead, much of it is sitting in fixed deposit accounts.

Piramal said he really does want to run a pharmaceutical company and be the first Indian company to discover a world-class drug ? despite his dabbling in telecom, financial services and real estate financing. It's just that pharma can't absorb all his cash. He plans to sell the 5.5 percent stake he picked up in Vodafone Essar for $640 million in a few years, when Vodafone Essar issues shares in an initial public offering, he said.

He has also launched Piramal Capital, to make real estate and infrastructure loans, and spent about $50 million to acquire IndiaReit, a real estate investment company.

Meanwhile, his thoughts have turned to Boston, where he set up IndUS Growth Partners with a professor from Harvard Business School to look for buying opportunities in the U.S., in security, financial services and biotechnology. And he said he's still planning to spend over a billion dollars on biotechnology acquisitions in North America and Europe.

"India was going more towards capitalism than socialism," Piramal said. "I think we're going back. Capitalism went to too much excess. Corruption levels went to the extreme."

He said he'll announce his first overseas acquisition by March.

Associated Press


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Watch: President Obama Courts Youth Vote (ABC News)

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Facebook Subscriber # > Twitter Follower # ?

Twitter Extinct doneWhere do you publish first if you have more Facebook subscribers than Twitter followers? ?That's a question more and more journalists are going to be asking themselves. Just 3.5 months after the launch of Facebook's late entry into?asymmetrical following, many individual content producers including?TechCrunch's MG Siegler, The New York Times'?Nick Bilton, and myself have have seen our subscriber counts surpass our follower tally. How? Because Facebook's larger user count makes it easier to amass subscribers.


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Friday, December 23, 2011

5 movies that may not seem like Christmas movies (AP)

LOS ANGELES ? Alonso Duralde literally wrote the book on Christmas movies: It's called "Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas." So who better to guest-program the Five Most space this week?

Only Duralde ? a film critic for The Wrap and (full disclosure) my co-host on the YouTube review show "What the Flick?!" ? did it with a twist. He chose five movies that may not initially seem like Christmas movies yet have that Christmasy vibe. After all, anyone can pop "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Elf" into the DVD player on Dec. 25, but we've got the expert, in his own words:

? "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999): You may remember the notorious orgy sequence ? or the scenes of then-married couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman speaking frankly about their sexual fantasies ? but Stanley Kubrick's final film is set squarely in the Christmas season, with almost every scene involving twinkle lights or wrapping paper or a decorated tree. The delights of the Yuletide season make the perfect innocent counterpoint for this tale of marital discord.

? "Metropolitan" (1990): Whit Stillman's charming and witty directorial debut uses its debutante ball setting as the perfect excuse to capture the beauty of Manhattan at Christmastime, bedecked in both decorations and a coating of snow. As Stillman pointed out, his low-budget indie movie got millions of dollars' worth of free art direction from the city of New York.

? "The Lion in Winter" (1968): "What shall we hang ? the holly, or each other?" asks Henry II (Peter O'Toole) in this brittle and banter-filled comedy-drama that plays like a cross between "Game of Thrones" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Henry brings his long-imprisoned wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn) down from her tower to choose his successor from among their three sons, resulting in treachery, intrigue and swordplay. And you thought your family get-togethers were argumentative.

? "Less Than Zero" (1987): Robert Downey Jr. gave his breakthrough performance as a spoiled Beverly Hills teen losing himself to drug addiction in this white-washed adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis best-seller. The story's lead character (played by Andrew McCarthy) somehow got changed from a jaded hedonist to an earnest do-gooder, but Downey's performance ? and the film's candy-colored, neon-tinged version of a decadent 1980s Christmas ? still endure.

? "Die Hard" (1988): Some people find it hard to think of this action classic as a holiday staple, but many is the household where it's just not Christmas until Officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) blasts his way through a group of Eurotrash terrorists (led by the spectacularly viperfish Alan Rickman) at Nakatomi Plaza. It's a movie that set the tone for the next decade's worth of shoot-'em-ups, but it's a holiday tale, down to the redemption of the hero's rocky marriage and his use of gift wrap in the final gun battle.


Think of any other examples? Share them with Alonso Duralde through Twitter:!/ADuralde.

"Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas":


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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dawn spacecraft beams back new images of asteroid (AP)

LOS ANGELES ? NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been a fervent photographer, snapping more than 10,000 pictures of the asteroid Vesta since it slipped into orbit around the giant space rock last summer.

The views were taken from a distance away ? until now. On Wednesday, the space agency released new images of the hummocky surface as Dawn circled from an average altitude of 130 miles above the surface ? the closest it'll get.

From this low orbit, scientists can count numerous small impact craters and see textured grooves and outcrops in sharp detail.

"We're totally thrilled with the data we're getting. It seems to get better," said mission deputy principal investigator Carol Raymond of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $466 million mission.

By inching this close to Vesta, Dawn will use other instruments to measure the gravity field and determine its chemical makeup to better understand its origins.

Dawn will spend the next 2 1/2 months at the current altitude before moving higher to take another round of pictures. By that time, the sun will hit Vesta at a different angle and illuminate sections of the northern hemisphere that had been shrouded earlier.

About the length of Arizona with a huge crater at its south pole, Vesta is the second largest body residing in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are leftovers from the solar system's birth some 4.5 billion years ago and studying these bodies could offer clues about how rocky planets like Earth formed.

Previous spacecraft have visited smaller asteroids before, but this is the first trip to Vesta.

Powered by ion propulsion, Dawn began orbiting Vesta in July after a 1.7 billion-mile cruise. It will depart Vesta next summer and will fly to an even bigger asteroid, Ceres, where it will arrive in 2015.



Dawn mission:


Follow Alicia Chang at


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Monday, December 19, 2011

GOP Officials Align Support (WSJ)

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Coming soon: pick airline seatmates via social networks

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines plans to launch a service in 2012 that will enable you to pick who you sit next to on an airplane by visiting their Facebook or LinkedIn pages. "Meet & Seat" will be an opt-in service (similar to that already toyed with by Malaysia Airlines), so you can still fly anonymously -- as anonymous as air travel gets these days, anyway. It could be great for making friends or developing business contacts on your next international flight, or it could make for some really awkward conversation too. "So, your Facebook profile says you like Justin Bieber?"

Coming soon: pick airline seatmates via social networks originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 16 Dec 2011 10:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Teens choose water when calorie count of sugary beverages is easier to understand

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2011) ? Thirsty? You may be more inclined to reach for plain old H2O if you knew how many calories are in sugar-sweetened beverages; this is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They examined the effect of providing clear and visible caloric information about sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit juice on the number of sugar-sweetened beverage purchases at neighborhood stores, and found that providing easily understandable caloric information, specifically in the form of a physical activity equivalent, may reduce the likelihood of sugar-sweetened beverage purchases among adolescents by as much as half.

The results are featured in a recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"People generally underestimate the number of calories in the foods and beverages they consume," said Sara Bleich, PhD, assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "Providing easily understandable caloric information -- particularly in the form of a physical activity equivalent, such as running -- may reduce calorie intake from sugar-sweetened beverages and increase water consumption among low-income black adolescents."

Researchers conducted the study at four corner stores located in low-income, predominately black neighborhoods in Baltimore, Md. For the intervention, one of three caloric information signs were randomly posted with the following information: "Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 250 calories?" (absolute caloric count); "Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 10 percent of your daily calories?" (percentage of total recommended daily intake); and "Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?" (physical activity equivalent). They collected data for 1,600 beverage sales to black adolescents, aged 12-18 years, including 400 during a baseline period and 400 for each of the 3 caloric-condition interventions. Researchers found that providing participants with any caloric information significantly reduced the odds of sugar-sweetened beverage purchases by 40 percent relative to the baseline of no information. Of the three caloric-condition interventions, the physical activity equivalent was most effective, reducing the odds of black adolescents purchasing a sugar-sweetened beverage by 50 percent.

Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sport drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks has been associated with obesity and is highest among minority and lower income adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of U.S children are obese. Obesity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

"Because of the inclusion of mandatory calorie labeling in the recent health reform bill, it is critical to explore the most effective strategies for presenting caloric information to consumers on fast food restaurant menu boards," suggest the study's authors.

"Reduction in Purchases of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Low-Income, Black Adolescents After Exposure to Caloric Information" was written by Sara N. Bleich, PhD, Bradley J. Herring, PhD, Desmond D. Flagg, MPH, and Tiffany L. Gary-Webb, PhD, MS.

The research was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Journal Reference:

  1. Sara N. Bleich, Bradley J. Herring, Desmond D. Flagg, Tiffany L. Gary-Webb. Reduction in Purchases of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Among Low-Income Black Adolescents After Exposure to Caloric Information. American Journal of Public Health, 2011 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300350

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

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


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Russia's Putin offers protesters small change (Reuters)

MOSCOW (Reuters) ? Vladimir Putin offered to ease slightly his tight political control of Russian politics in token concessions to protesters he suggested had been paid to turn out in the biggest demonstrations since he took power 12 years ago.

In a 4-1/2 hour call-in question-and-answer show that was broadcast live across Russia and intended to rebuild support as he prepares to reclaim the presidency, the long-serving prime minister sought to portray himself as a reasonable, even-handed national leader who can unite his people.

But many Russians on the social network Twitter suggested his efforts had failed, saying the 59-year-old former spy was out of touch three months before the presidential election he hopes to win.

Breaking his silence on rallies by tens of thousands of people on December 10 Putin mixed words of praise with suggestions that some of the demonstrators complaining of electoral fraud and demanding a new election were paid to show up.

"I saw on people on the TV screens ... mostly young people, active and with positions that they expressed clearly," Putin said. "This makes me happy, and if that is the result of the Putin regime, that's good -- there's nothing bad about it."

"They will at least make some money," he said, without saying who he thought might have been the paymaster. Putin has in the past, to the derision of opponents, suggested the United States had stirred protests and foreign states had funded them.

Putin, 59, said that at first he thought the white ribbons worn by the protesters as a sign of dissent were part of an anti-AIDS campaign, and he had mistaken them for condoms.

A doctored photo was soon doing the rounds on the Internet, with Putin wearing a condom on his chest instead of a medal

Dressed in a suit and tie at a large desk as he took questions by phone and from a studio audience, and sometimes via videolinks with cities across the vast country, he also looked less at ease than in previous years.

Putin, broaching the possibility of changes in a tightly controlled political system, suggested legislation might be altered to allow small opposition parties to be registered.

One of Putin's main acts after taking power in 1999 was to remove elected governors in Russia's regions and appoint his own representatives, restoring strong Kremlin control. This he said headed off a danger of the world's biggest country breaking up.

Putin hinted at reintroducing direct elections, but only after the president had approved candidates proposed by parties -- an idea scarcely likely to win support from critics.

"We can move in this direction," he said.

Putin gave no indication he would respond to the protesters' main demands such as sacking the central election commission chief and rerunning the election which returned Putin's United Russia party with a reduced majority.

He appears to be intent instead on riding out the protests and hoping they fade, although another day of protest is planned by the opposition on December 24.

"That's it. It's the end. Putin is completely out of touch. And this is becoming more obvious to everyone. You had to think hard to insult the people like this," wrote one person who identified himself as Oleg Kozyrev.

A 21-year-old trainee lawyer who gave his name only as Yevgeny said in the city of Yekaterinburg: "He did not even show any interest in what people were saying ... Aliens have nothing in common with earthlings."


Many of the people at rallies over alleged electoral fraud are young professionals in big cities who have answered online calls to protest and want the political system opened up to include a liberal opposition reflecting their views.

Some of their allegations were backed by international vote monitors who said the December 4 election was slanted to favor Putin's United Russia party, although it won only a slim majority in the lower house of parliament.

Many Russians saw an announcement by Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev on September 24 that they planned to swap jobs as a sign that everything had been cooked up between them with no respect for democracy. Putin confirmed on Thursday he wanted Medvedev to become premier after the March election.

Putin sought to appear democratic and unconcerned about the protests by saying they were "absolutely normal as long as everyone acts within the framework of the law."

"From my point of view, the result of the election undoubtedly reflects public opinion in the country," he said, making clear there would be no election rerun.

But at another point, he turned to the journalist hosting the call-in and said: "I've had enough of these questions about the elections."


Russia-based economists said Putin was clearly having to work harder than in previous years to maintain his credibility and doubted he had won any new support in his performance.

"He's not winning any fresh votes. He didn't say anything to win the votes of the other crowd (of opponents) - he could have used this big event to push forward his rating," said Alexey Bachurin, of Renaissance Capital investment bank.

Putin has used the annual call-in he has held for the past decade to burnish his image as a strong leader with a detailed knowledge of the country and an interest in all its people. Thursday's show was the longest yet, beating out last year's by five minutes.

As usual there were many questions about social issues such as healthcare, pensions and housing, and Putin suggested he was the single leader capable of uniting and maintaining stability in the world's biggest energy producer.

As often in the past, he had strong words for the West, and particularly former Cold War enemy the United States.

"The United States does not need allies, it needs vassals," he said.

He defended his economic record, saying there had been some "remarkable and meaningful" achievements such as reducing poverty, despite the global economic crisis of 2008-09.

He hinted that former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who is held in high regard by foreign investors and many young professionals, could return to government after falling out with the Kremlin in September.

"Such people were needed and will be needed in past and future governments," he said of Kudrin, who has spoken recently of forming a liberal party and suggested he might join protests.

(Reporting by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Douglas Busvine)


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

CA startup sees entrepreneur-ship as visa solution (AP)

SUNNYVALE, Calif. ? You've heard of tech companies starting in a Silicon Valley garage. What about on a ship?

That's the idea being floated by a California startup that wants to dock a vessel off the coast to house foreign entrepreneurs who have dreams of creating the next Google but can't get visas to work in the United States.

Sunnyvale-based Blueseed Co. says current immigration rules can sink promising ventures and torpedo innovation and job creation.

The ship aims to provide a remedy by giving foreign entrepreneurs a place to build their companies only a short boat ride from high tech's hub.

"A lot of people say, `I'd like to go to Silicon Valley' but there is no way for them to do it," said Max Marty, Blueseed CEO and co-founder.

Marty, the son of Cuban immigrants, thought of the ship after listening to international classmates of his at the University of Miami business school lament about having to leave the U.S. after graduation.

Politicians have wrangled with the issue, but efforts to change the system have stalled.

Last July, President Barack Obama said during a Twitter town hall he wanted to make sure talented people who studied in the U.S. were able to stay to create jobs.

"We don't want to pay for training them here and then having them benefit other countries," Obama said.

A bill to address so-called brain-drain was reintroduced this year by Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind. The Startup Visa Act would allow immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign graduates from U.S. universities to appeal for a two-year visa "on condition that they secure financing from a qualified U.S. investor and can demonstrate the ability to create American jobs."

But Blueseed founders don't expect any real reform from a bitterly divided Congress during an election year.

"Our solution is an entrepreneurial solution," said Dario Mutabdzija, Blueseed's president.

From cruise ships to oil rigs to military aircraft carriers, there are several examples of individuals living and working on ships. This one would accommodate about 1,000 people and be docked 12 miles southwest of San Francisco Bay, in international waters.

It would be registered in a country with a reputable legal system, maybe the Bahamas or the Marshall Islands, Marty said. Residents would be subject to the laws of that nation.

Residents would be ferried ashore with temporary business or tourist visas, which are easier to get, to meet with investors, collaborators, partners and others. Mutabdzija said the ability to have face-to-face meetings cannot be underestimated when trying to gain trust ? and secure funds ? from investors.

"Yes, we live in an interconnected age with Skype and other video conferencing. But if you want to grow a company, physical interactions are of paramount importance," Mutabdzija said. "We're a startup. We ran into this. Some people said if you're not within a 20 mile radius, we won't talk to you."

The proximity to high-tech's center, Silicon Valley, is also important.

"The talent, the money, the expertise and a cultural acceptance of risk. Elsewhere if it doesn't work out, you're a black sheep and the funds dry up," Mutabdzija said.

The ship would be a remodeled cruise ship or barge that Blueseed leases or owns. It would have all the high-tech amenities expected of a startup incubator and the look of employee-friendly Internet giants Facebook and Google, famous for their modern campuses complete with gourmet cafeterias, exercise facilities and an environmentally-sustainable design.

A live-work space would cost about $1,200 a month.

Logistical support, including food and other supplies, would come from local businesses along the coast, helping the economies of Half Moon Bay and San Francisco, though it hasn't been determined exactly which port Blueseed would use.

A helicopter also would be available for emergencies.

Critics deride the ship as a publicity stunt, and say investors would be better served contributing to ventures that help Americans create businesses.

"I would say the whole thing is a perfect metaphor for how in corporate America the practice to grow talent and incubate business locally is drifting away ? quite literally," said Bob Dane, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for limited immigration.

But supporters of foreign entrepreneurship say immigrants are responsible for some of the most successful businesses in the world and if the U.S. doesn't try to attract them, others will.

"The ship may sound like a crazy idea but it illustrates how seriously flawed the immigration system here is," said John Feinblatt, who runs Partnership for a New American Economy, which advocates for immigration reform.

The organization published a report in June that said 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.

Feinblatt said countries including Chile, Singapore and the United Kingdom have programs to attract immigrant entrepreneurs.

"While the U.S. is driving people away, other countries are welcoming them with open arms," he said. "If you miss out on them, you miss their talent, their ideas and ultimately the jobs that they create and the taxes that they pay."

Christopher S. Bentley, a spokesman with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the agency has not seen the proposal and it's premature to comment.

Maritime experts say such an idea is feasible, but very costly.

"A good single point mooring costs in the millions of dollars but it could restrain a ship-shape vessel in quite severe storms and in deep water," said Bil Stewart, CEO of Houston-based Stewart Technology Associates, an engineering consultancy specializing in offshore and marine structures.

"But it would be prudent if the vessel had its own propulsion if you had a Pacific hurricane come along," Stewart added.

Blueseed's idea has started gaining steam.

Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal, announced he would lead Blueseed's financing search. Thiel has been a big supporter of "seasteads" ? self-ruling cities on the ocean ? and both Marty and Mutabdzija worked at the Seasteading Institute.

Blueseed wants to raise $10 million to $30 million over the next year and a half. The goal would be to launch in late 2013.


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Punchfork Tells Foodies Which Recipes Are Hot Right Now

punchforkYou've seen too many recipe websites. It's okay - so have I. But Punchfork is doing things a little differently by leveraging hardcore algorithms to curate the best recipes found on the Web based on social network chatter, in realtime. Punchfork has built a sophisticated algorithm that measures a how many times a recipe posted by its publishing partners gets shared on social networks like Twitter and Facebook and sites like StumbleUpon. The higher a recipe's score based on Punchfork's technology, on a scale from 1 to 100, the more it should have been talked about and shared on the Web.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Gingrich urges supporters to stay positive (AP)

ATLANTA ? Newt Gingrich is pledging to stay relentlessly positive in his quest for the White House. Except when he's not.

Trying to make over his image as the angry, bomb-throwing leader of the Republican revolution of the 1990s, the former House speaker has adopted a sunnier persona these days and is playing up his credentials as a grandfather, husband and historian.

On Tuesday, he urged supporters to refrain from attacking his opponents and eschewed negative ads.

But old habits die hard.

When chief rival Mitt Romney cast Gingrich as a lifelong Washington insider at a weekend debate in Iowa, Gingrich had this snarky comeback: "The only reason you didn't become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994."

In New Hampshire on Monday, Gingrich lashed out at the former Massachusetts governor, calling on him to "give back all the money he's earned bankrupting companies and laying off employees" when he ran the private equity firm Bain Capital.

In Gingrich's camp there is simple explanation: Romney started it.

But the former Georgia congressman said that while he won't go negative he won't unilaterally disarm either.

"I have reserved the right to respond when my record has been distorted," he said Tuesday in a letter to supporters and staff that urged them not to attack his opponents. He referred to Monday's back-and-forth as "what in diplomatic circles is called `a frank exchange' over our respective records in the private sector."

But for some, the episode brings back memories of the scorched-earth tactics Gingrich was known for as he engineered the first Republican majority in the U.S. House in decades during the 1994 congressional elections on the strength of his fiery rhetoric.

"Newt creates political success by drawing the starkest possible contrast between your position and your opponent's position, even if turns out to be hyperbolic, that is acceptable under Newt's rules of engagement," said Rich Galen, a former Gingrich aide.

Galen said it was "classic Newt" to attack Romney one day and the next day pretend it didn't happen.

Bob Barr, a Gingrich supporter and former congressman from Georgia, said negative campaigning gets bashed. "But a lot of times it does work. That's why people do it."

Gingrich's popularity plummeted in the waning days of his speakership as he feuded incessantly with the Clinton White House. He seems to have taken a lesson from that into his presidential bid.

Gingrich has catapulted to the top of the Republican field thanks in large part to strong debate performances. And at many of those, he played the role of elder statesman, chastising one moderator for trying to get Republicans to fight among themselves.

But that role was far easier to adopt when most polls had him as an also-ran.

Now that he's at the front of the pack, it will be far harder for Gingrich to stay above the fray as his rivals try to tear him down.

With the GOP race still volatile, political fortunes also could shift rapidly. Gingrich could have a tough time staying on the high road if left in a long, scrappy nomination fight.

Gingrich ? who has two so-called super political action committees backing him ? is also urging supporters not to contribute to outside groups that attack his GOP rivals.

A new Atlanta-based PAC that was announced Tuesday said it would spread "the message of why America needs Newt Gingrich in order to win our future" and counter the well-financed efforts of the opposition.

Gingrich's daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, acknowledged Tuesday that her father has a challenge in getting past the image of him from his days as speaker.

"People are remembering the media coverage and what they see and what they think about is the person who was the `Grinch who stole Christmas,'" she said.

She said Gingrich, now 68, has matured and reached peace since leaving office more than a decade ago.

"He is the happy warrior," Cushman said, adding that her 12-year-old daughter, Maggie, has had some campaign advice for her grandfather: Smile more.

"Now she counts his smiles," Cushman said.

Gingrich himself recognizes that the success of his candidacy may hinge on whether voters are ready to buy his conversion.

Voters, he has said, will decide whether he has "the temperament and discipline to be president."


Follow Shannon McCaffrey on Twitter at


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