Monday, 29 April 2013

Officials: 2 dead in building collapse in France

(AP) ? An official says an explosion at a residential building and subsequent partial collapse of the edifice has left at least two people dead and injured nine others in France's Champagne country.

A local rescue official says more than 100 rescue workers, firefighters, and bomb and gas experts were deployed to the building in the subsidized housing complex that collapsed Sunday morning in the city of Reims, east of Paris.

Reims mayor Adeline Hazan told France's BFM television that "a very powerful explosion" had taken place but the cause was unclear. She said the bodies of the two people killed remained under the rubble.

The rescue official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said he couldn't immediately confirm whether an explosion had taken place.

Associated Press


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Oil rises over $93 despite US growth letdown

BANGKOK (AP) ? Oil prices rose above $93 per barrel Monday amid hopes that the European Central Bank, meeting later this week, would act to shore up economic growth.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was up 38 cents to $93.38 a barrel at midafternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 64 cents to close at $93 in New York on Friday after the U.S. government released economic growth figures that disappointed markets.

Growth accelerated to an annual rate of 2.5 percent from January through March from an anemic pace in the previous quarter. Markets were expecting growth of 3 percent or better.

The disappointing growth figure for the economy has reinforced expectations that Federal Reserve policymakers will stick with their easy money policies when they meet Wednesday in Washington. Analysts believe the European Central Bank will head in the same direction when it meets Thursday.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said in an email that "there is increasing speculation that the ECB could well cut interest rates this week."

Brent crude, which is used to price oil from the North Sea used by many U.S. refiners, dropped 7 cents to $103.09 on the ICE futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex:

? Wholesale gasoline was down 1.7 cents at $2.811 a gallon.

? Heating oil fell 1.3 cents to $2.853 a gallon.

? Natural gas added 3.6 cents to $4.259.


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PFT: 'Phins owner blames Sparano for dysfunction

Dee Millner, Sheldon RichardsonAP

After analyzing the?draft needs of all 32 teams, PFT will review how well each team addressed those needs. Up next: The New York Jets.

What they needed: Quarterback, pass rusher, wide receiver, tight end, safety, offensive line

Who they got:
Round 1 (9): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Round 1 (13): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Round 2 (39): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Round 3 (72): Brian Winters, G, Kent State
Round 5 (141): Oday Aboushi, OL, Virginia
Round 6 (178): William Campbell, G, Michigan
Round 7 (215): Tommy Bohanon, FB, Wake Forest

Where they hit:?Nick Saban won?t like that I?m writing this, but Milliner fills the hole (on paper, anyway) opened by the trade of Darrelle Revis. Winters, Aboushi and Campbell definitely help an offensive line that badly needed younger bodies to increase the talent level and competition for jobs during offseason work. Bohanon fills the need for a player who could conceivably be called ?T-Bo? if and when the Jets finally say goodbye to Tim Tebow.

The mess the Jets have made at quarterback obscures it a bit, but it was worth the shot on?Smith at the 39th pick. He may not wind up being the long-term answer for the Jets, but acquiring him allows the Jets to move on from Mark Sanchez and that?s a win for the team right now. It?s easier to let Smith learn from the bench if David Garrard is the guy taking snaps than it would be if Sanchez were getting booed off the field every week, if only because it sells the idea that there are no quick fixes for a team that needs a total overhaul.

Where they missed: Where are the pass rushers? Richardson is a good player and Rex Ryan will put him to good use, but there?s still no one who scares you coming off the edge. Maybe Quinton Coples gets more time in that role with Richardson on board, but it wasn?t an area they addressed directly.

Where are the receivers? Another reason to resist starting Smith would be the total absence of new offensive weapons added over the three days of the draft. The Jets had their eyes on Tavon Austin, but no one else tempted them once he went to St. Louis and the receiver situation with the Jets is still an ugly one.?No safety either, as the Jets left several of their biggest needs unattended.

Impact rookies: Milliner will be expected to start from day one, which means he?s got to take as much time as he needs to be fully healthy after surgery to repair a torn labrum. He won?t be Revis, but the Jets will be strong at corner all the same if he?s ready for the NFL. Richardson is going to play a lot, although his exact role will be defined once the Jets start working as a team. Winters will probably challenge Stephen Peterman for a starting spot at guard. He and Aboushi can also play right tackle, where Austin Howard is hardly irreplaceable.

Long-term prospects: With Ryan?s future beyond this year up in the air, it?s hard to know what to make of the Smith pick. Is he going to have to learn two offenses in two seasons while playing under a coach who doesn?t want him? Or does picking a quarterback who most believe needs some time and the two defensive pieces in the first round signal a desire to stick with Ryan beyond this season? The other picks are guys who can work under any system, more or less, but the quarterback will certainly be impacted one way or another. And the quarterback will ultimately decide how things look in the long term for all involved.


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Need some relationship advice - Empty Closets - A safe online ...

So I have known this girl for 7 weeks, I met her on facebook because she was one of my friends best friends. We started talking on status and the next thing I know we are both flirting with each other, we starting talking on messages and I asked her if she wanted to met with me so we could see each over for the first time.

It went really well and the other 5 dates as well, one date for every week but these last to weeks we haven't been able to meet up which I am finding upsetting and I think not seeing each other is starting to affect the relationship badly. She has started talking less, her answers are shorter, it is hard/impossible to keep a conversation going with her and I just get the feeling she isn't interested anymore.

I don't want to be over reacting but I am starting to think she doesn't want to be in a relationship with me anymore, I haven't lost interest in her at all but I do find it hard to get her to open up to me. I just don't know what to do, I want to meet up with her again but it would have to be next Saturday because of college. I am worried if I ask though that she will not want/able to come.

Can anyone please tell me what I should do! I know I am going to have to talk to her about it but I am seriously thinking that if I do she is going to break up with me Please help!!


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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Argentina's 'Grandmothers' seek pope's assistance

VATICAN CITY (AP) ? Members of the Argentine human rights group "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo" have asked Pope Francis for help finding still-missing children taken from political prisoners during the country's 1979-83 military dictatorship.

Estela de Carlotto, president of the group, met briefly with the Argentine pope after Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square. She handed him a written request that he authorize the opening of archives from the Vatican and the Catholic Church in Argentina in hopes of finding clues about the whereabouts of the children.

The organization estimates that around 500 babies were taken from their mothers while they were detained by the military.

De Carlotto told reporters after the meeting that Francis had told her: "'You can count on me. You can count on us.'"


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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Fahad Hassan: A Message to Americans: Let's Increase Teacher ...

When I first came across Randy Turner?s article on why young professionals should not become teachers, I was pretty upset. Though I have no problem with Mr. Turner offering his opinion, nor do I disagree with him on a number of points, Mr. Turner?s analysis of the teaching profession is nevertheless incomplete. For those not entirely immersed in the education industry, I would like to add some context to his thoughts. As an education entrepreneur, I do not claim to understand every nuance of the classroom. I am not a teacher, but I believe I can offer some additional insight as another key participant in our educational conversations. I spend hours of my life on a daily basis visiting classrooms, Skyping with teachers, participating in educational panels, speaking at education conferences, and collaborating with educators at various levels from around the world. I continue to be amazed at the level of passion and dedication I see from our teachers, and the awesome discourse taking place in our society on education reform.

Mr. Turner mentions several key points of discussion, including common core standards, self-learning, student evaluations, merit-based pay and tenure, among others, but his thoughts on guiding young professionals away from teaching and the general lack of value our society places on teachers are what truly caught my attention.

He said, ?If I were 18 years old and deciding how I want to spend my adult years, the last thing I would want to become is a classroom teacher. Classroom teachers, especially those who are just out of college and entering the profession, are more stressed and less valued than at any previous time in our history.?

As someone whose entire life revolves around education, I can say with complete certainty that these points should come with some major disclaimers. First of all, I greatly value teachers. My family, fellow entrepreneurs, and our President all value teachers. There are easier ways for me to make money, but I choose to work in education for a reason. I?m passionate about the impact education can have on a person?s life. It?s reflected in the sacrifices my parents made when they emigrated from Bangladesh because of the value they placed on the American Education System. And it?s constantly a reference made by our president as recently as a few months ago at his State of the Union speech,

?Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let?s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren?t helping kids learn.?

Sure, there are folks out there who don?t understand the entire educational eco-system in our country, or are too lazy to effectively dive into the dynamics within a school, or those who may randomly think ?teachers suck and are the problem, not the solution.? But people who think like this are really no different than teachers who claim that they ?aren?t valued by anyone.? This blame game needs to stop and is something I do not advocate on any level.

While I agree that a major problem here in the U.S. is that we don?t put teachers on a high enough pedestal within our cultural paradigm, that doesn?t mean the majority of American?s don?t value teachers. There are many ways to value teachers. As an entrepreneur, I think about the problem at hand and how to effectively, creatively and efficiently solve that problem. Everything else is a distraction. Pointing fingers at one another, complaining about the system without recommendations on how to fix things, or expecting unreasonable outcomes simply stalls progress and are some of the biggest distractions in the education conversation. Teacher pay, for example, is an issue Mr. Turner brings up that needs more focused attention, not just general thoughts that get lost in the mix.

Teachers are underpaid in our society, but to not trust evaluations from administrators above them or to pick and choose which feedback to accept from students beneath them (as Mr. Turner mentioned he did) is not the way to get the pay problem solved. Let me be loud and clear: every teacher in this country should be paid a six-figure salary. We found $2 trillion to fight the Iraq War, I know we can find a way to increase the average teacher pay from $56,000 for 3.7 million teachers to $100,000 or greater. We have the money to make this happen and I believe most teachers deserve it. Those not worthy, qualified, or passionate should leave teaching and pursue other dreams. Teaching is no different than any other profession, and I would encourage those who love education, but choose not to teach, to help in other ways. Become an education entrepreneur, lobby Congress for more rights, help reform the Teachers Union to better align with outcomes, and get involved with your local school board. All of this is in our control.

And finally, with regards to the difficulty and stress associated with being a teacher, I fully empathize due to my own world-view as a struggling entrepreneur. I went years without a paycheck to help identify and improve teaching in this country with the aid of technology. I did this without any guarantee of funding, success or market adoption. But make no mistake ? it was entirely my choice to pursue this path in life.

Teachers have that same choice, and if young entrants in this field decide the profession is not for them, that is OKAY. People switch professions all the time, and it?s tough to understand what we?re meant to do sometimes without immersing ourselves in the task at hand. But to tell young graduates not to even try teaching ? as Mr. Turner does ? is something I?m completely against. It goes against everything I?ve ever been taught in my life by my parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors ? and I strongly disagree with Mr. Turner on this point. It simply isn?t the American way. The power structure in our country works from the ground up ? not the top down. President Obama showed us how powerful this can be in his first election campaign. He laid a grassroots path and showed us it can work. Let?s take that formula and find ways to bridge it into our everyday lives. Let?s bridge it to education reform, medical reform, immigration reform, and others. Let?s take back control and not simply give up or avoid professions just because they are hard. Let?s fight to give teachers the help, pay, respect and recognition they deserve ? and most importantly, have earned. We need more teachers entering the workforce ? not less.


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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Fish was on the menu for early flying dinosaur

Apr. 22, 2013 ? University of Alberta-led research reveals that Microraptor, a small flying dinosaur was a complete hunter, able to swoop down and pickup fish as well as its previously known prey of birds and tree dwelling mammals.

U of A paleontology graduate student Scott Persons says new evidence of Microrpator's hunting ability came from fossilized remains in China. "We were very fortunate that this Microraptor was found in volcanic ash and its stomach content of fish was easily identified."

Prior to this, paleontologists believed microraptors which were about the size of a modern day hawk, lived in trees where they preyed exclusively on small birds and mammals about the size of squirrels.

"Now we know that Microraptor operated in varied terrain and had a varied diet," said Persons. "It took advantage of a variety of prey in the wet, forested environment that was China during the early Cretaceous period, 120 million years ago."

Further analysis of the fossil revealed that its teeth were adapted to catching slippery, wiggling prey like fish. Dinosaur researchers have established that most meat eaters had teeth with serrations on both sides which like a steak knife helped the predator saw through meat.

But the Microraptor's teeth are serrated on just one side and its teeth are angled forwards.

"Microraptor seems adapted to impale fish on its teeth. With reduced serrations the prey wouldn't tear itself apart while it struggled," said Persons. "Microraptor could simply raise its head back, the fish would slip off the teeth and be swallowed whole, no fuss no muss."

Persons likens the Microraptor's wing configuration to a bi-plane. "It had long feathers on its forearms, hind legs and tail," said Persons. "It was capable of short, controlled flights."

This is the first evidence of a flying raptor, a member of the Dromaeosaur family of dinosaurs to successfully prey on fish.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Alberta, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. Lida Xing, W. Scott Persons, Phil R. Bell, Xing Xu, Jianping Zhang, Tetsuto Miyashita, Fengping Wang, Philip J. Currie. Piscivory in the Feathered Dinosaur Microraptor. Evolution, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/evo.12119

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

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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