Graphic in-car crash warnings to slow speeding drivers



Paul Marks, chief technology correspondent


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(Image: Cityscape/a.collection/Getty)


"You would die if you crashed right now." Would such a warning make you take your foot off the accelerator? That's the idea behind a scheme to warn drivers of the consequences of speeding developed by engineers at Japan's Fukuoka Institute of Technology and heavy goods vehicle maker UD Trucks, also in Japan. They are developing what they call a "safe driving promotion system" that warns drivers what kind of crash could ensue if they don't slow down.






Their patent-pending system uses the battery of radar, ultrasound sonar and laser sensors found in modern cars and trucks to work out the current kinetic energy of a vehicle. It also checks out the distance to the vehicle in front and keeps watch on its brake lights, too. An onboard app that has learned the driver's reaction time over all their previous trips then computes the likelihood of collision - and if the driver's speed is risky, it displays the scale of damage that could result.


The warning that flashes up could vary from something like a potential whiplash injury due to a rear-end shunt to a fatal, car-crushing collision with fire. The inventors hope this kind of in-car advice will promote safety more forcefully than current warning systems, which merely display the distance to the vehicle in front. "A sense of danger will be awakened in the driver that makes them voluntarily refrain from dangerous driving," they predict.




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Tennis: Nishikori injury hands Murray berth in final






BRISBANE, Australia: Defending champion Andy Murray was handed a berth in the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday when Japan's Kei Nishikori retired from their semi-final with a knee injury.

Murray had taken the first set 6-4 and was up 2-0 in the second when Nishikori, who had treatment on his knee at the end of the first set, decided he couldn't continue and conceded the match.

The 25-year-old Murray will now play Grigor Dimitrov in Sunday's final after the rising Bulgarian star edged out Cyprus's Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) in the first semi.

Nishikori started brilliantly against Murray and leapt out to a 4-1 lead before the reigning US Open champion began to find his range.

He quickly broke back then took control as Nishikori struggled with his movement around the court.

"I didn't know he was injured until late in the set," Murray said. "He was trying to play aggressively and keep the points short.

"When I made him play the ball more I had him in trouble."

Murray said he was relatively pleased at how he was playing a week out from the first Grand Slam of the year.

"I'm playing okay, a bit up and down," he said. "I served pretty well for the majority of the tournament.

"I've moved better every single match. Returning could have been better and my groundstrokes, I think with more matches, I'll start to hit them cleaner.

"When I've come up to the net I've volleyed relatively well... there is stuff for me to work on."

Dimitrov progressed after a thrilling win over 2006 Australian Open runner-up Baghdatis.

The young Bulgarian has been in superb form this week and looked on track for another convincing win after dominating the first set and going up an early break in the second.

But Baghdatis has always performed well in Australia and he began to trouble Dimitrov, putting enormous pressure on his opponent's serve with his aggressive returning.

Dimitrov's serve dropped off as Baghdatis raised his game and there was nothing between the two men as the third set went to a tiebreak.

Dimitrov got the early break at 4-2 when Baghdatis became unsettled by a time violation, only for the Cypriot to storm back and level proceedings at 5-5.

However, the 21-year-old Dimitrov won the next two points to make his first final on the ATP tour.

"I think it will be a fun match for me (against Murray), I have nothing to lose tomorrow," Dimitrov said.

"I just want to go out there and compose myself and say, 'Okay, it's your first final, don't be nervous at least'.

"I think it's going to be a good match."

- AFP/fa



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Second escaped inmate caught in former neighborhood

Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner on the recent arrest of Kenneth Conley, a convicted bank robber who escaped from federal jail in December. (Posted on: Jan. 4, 2013.)









Kenneth Conley was last seen by authorities making a daring escape down the side of a high-rise federal jail under the cover of night.


Friday afternoon, he was found hobbling down a Palos Hills street with a cane, one part of a flimsy disguise that included a bulky overcoat and a beret pulled low over his face.


An 18-day manhunt for the escaped bank robber ended after a maintenance employee working at a residential building in the southwest suburb called 911 about a suspicious man.








Conley, as it turns out, had not gone very far from places he used to live and homes where friends and family still reside.


But law enforcement sources said Friday that he apparently had no help — the former strip club employee was sleeping in the building's basement.


Conley was scheduled to appear in federal court at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.


The spectacular jailbreak — the first at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in almost 30 years — embarrassed federal authorities and seemed to be meticulously planned. Conley and Joseph "Jose" Banks rappelled to freedom using a rope fashioned from bedsheets. But like Banks, who was arrested two days after the escape in the North Side neighborhood where he was raised, Conley had no apparent plan for life on the run and was found holed up in an area where he had known ties.


Palos Hills police said a maintenance worker at a building in the 10200 block of South 86th Terrace called police about 3:30 p.m. to report the "suspicious person" who might be sleeping at the premises. Officers arrived to find a man walking down the street in an overcoat and pretending to use a cane. He appeared to be trying to look older than his actual age, police said.


"Our officers stopped to talk to him and he said he was just visiting," Deputy Chief James Boie told the Tribune. "He gave them a phony name, and while they're trying to run the information, he got wise that they were going to figure it out, and he pushed one of the officers down and took off running."


Boie said two additional officers responding to the scene caught Conley about a block away as he was trying to force his way into the Scenic Tree apartment complex, which is across the street from the police headquarters. He was wrestled down but did not offer any other resistance. Conley and one officer were taken to Palos Community Hospital for observation, he said.


Police found a BB pistol in Conley's pocket. He had no cash or other weapons, Boie said.


Residents in the sprawling, low-rise apartment complex where Conley was apprehended said they had seen a lot of police activity in the area earlier in the day, including K-9 units.


Chris Stevens, who has lived in the complex for a decade, said FBI agents knocked on her door at about 7 a.m., showed her a photo of Conley and asked if she had seen him. The agents told her he had been spotted in the area.


By the afternoon, Stagg High School junior David Griffith, 16, said he was with a friend taking out the garbage at the complex when he heard shouting and saw an officer run past him into a grassy area behind his building.


"We ran back in my house, opened the patio door, looked in the back and just saw a whole bunch of police officers just tackle (Conley)," Griffith said. "It was crazy. Nothing ever happens over here."


According to court records, Conley once lived in an apartment near the scene of his arrest. Boie said Conley was known to Palos Hills police because he'd had multiple resisting and obstructing arrests in 2004. Even still, they were surprised when they realized whom they had just arrested.


"I'm sure they were a little surprised that they had the guy standing in front of them,'' Boie said.


A law enforcement source told the Tribune that U.S. marshals and FBI agents met this week to discuss the hunt for Conley and went to Palos Hills on Friday morning to canvass specific addresses where he had ties. Some of the doors they knocked on were in the same block where Conley was found later in the day, the source said.


Conley, 38, was awaiting sentencing for a single bank holdup when authorities said he and Banks removed a cinder block from their cell wall and scaled down about 15 stories of the sheer wall of the jail early on Dec. 18. The cellmates were last accounted for during a routine bed check, authorities said. About 7 a.m. the next day, jail employees arriving for work saw the bedsheets dangling from a hole in the wall down the south side of the facade.


The FBI said a surveillance camera a few blocks from the jail showed the two wearing light-colored clothing hailing a taxi at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue about 2:40 a.m. They also appeared to be wearing backpacks, according to the FBI.





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Best Pictures: 2012 Nat Geo Photo Contest Winners









































































































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Quadruple Amputee Gets Two New Hands on Life













It's the simplest thing, the grasp of one hand in another. But Lindsay Ess will never see it that way, because her hands once belonged to someone else.


Growing up in Texas and Virginia, Lindsay, 29, was always one of the pretty girls. She went to college, did some modeling and started building a career in fashion, with an eye on producing fashion shows.


Then she lost her hands and feet.


Watch the full show in a special edition of "Nightline," "To Hold Again," TONIGHT at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC


When she was 24 years old, Lindsay had just graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University's well-regarded fashion program when she developed a blockage in her small intestine from Crohn's Disease. After having surgery to correct the problem, an infection took over and shut down her entire body. To save her life, doctors put her in a medically-induced coma. When she came out of the coma a month later, still in a haze, Lindsay said she knew something was wrong with her hands and feet.


"I would look down and I would see black, almost like a body that had decomposed," she said.


The infection had turned her extremities into dead tissue. Still sedated, Lindsay said she didn't realize what that meant at first.








Quadruple Amputee Undergoes Hand Transplant Surgery Watch Video









After Hand Transplant, Relearning How to Hold Watch Video







"There was a period of time where they didn't tell me that they had to amputate, but somebody from the staff said, 'Oh honey, you know what they are going to do to your hands, right?' That's when I knew," she said.


After having her hands and feet amputated, Lindsay adapted. She learned how to drink from a cup, brush her teeth and even text on her cellphone with her arms, which were amputated just below the elbow.


"The most common questions I get are, 'How do you type,'" she said. "It's just like chicken-pecking."


PHOTOS: Lindsay Ess Gets New Hands


Despite her progress, Lindsay said she faced challenges being independent. Her mother, Judith Aronson, basically moved back into her daughter's life to provide basic care, including bathing, dressing and feeding. Having also lost her feet, Lindsay needed her mother to help put on her prosthetic legs.


"I've accepted the fact that my feet are gone, that's acceptable to me," Lindsay said. "My hands [are] not. It's still not. In my dreams I always have my hands."


Through her amputation recovery, Lindsay discovered a lot of things about herself, including that she felt better emotionally by not focusing on the life that was gone and how much she hated needing so much help but that she also truly depends on it.


"I'm such an independent person," she said. "But I'm also grateful that I have a mother like that, because what could I do?"


Lindsay said she found that her prosthetic arms were a struggle.


"These prosthetics are s---," she said. "I can't do anything with them. I can't do anything behind my head. They are heavy. They are made for men. They are claws, they are not feminine whatsoever."


For the next couple of years, Lindsay exercised diligently as part of the commitment she made to qualify for a hand transplant, which required her to be in shape. But the tough young woman now said she saw her body in a different way now.






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Unique meteorite hints Mars stayed moist for longer








































A scorched rock bought in Morocco turned out to be a diamond in the rough. The unusual meteorite may be the first sample of the Red Planet's crust ever to hit Earth, and it suggests that Mars held on to its water for longer than we thought.












The meteorite, dubbed Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, is strikingly different from the 111 previously discovered Martian meteorites. "You could look at meteorites for the rest of your life and not find another one like this," says Carl Agee of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who was part of a team that has recently analysed NWA 7034. "This is in its own new group."













The most distinctive difference is its mineral content. Previously found meteorites had unearthly oxygen isotopes that marked them as being from another planet, and their volcanic origin made Mars the most likely culprit. But compared to these meteorites, surface rocks studied by Martian rovers and orbiters are much richer in light metals such as potassium and sodium. This suggests the known meteorites came from deeper inside the Red Planet.












"We're watching data coming back from Mars, and everything that comes back doesn't look like the Martian meteorites we have in our collections," says Munir Humayun of Florida State University in Tallahassee, who was not involved in the new study. "That's kind of a bummer."











By contrast, NWA 7034's chemistry closely resembles the rock and soil studied by NASA's Spirit rover. Preliminary measurements from the Curiosity rover, which landed in August 2012, suggest its landing site also has a similar composition.












Drying era













"Finally, it looks as if we have a sample that is very similar to the rocks that the rovers are seeing," Agee says. What's more, the Moroccan meteorite may come from a period in Mars' history when the planet was drying out.











Mars is thought to have once been much warmer, wetter and more hospitable to life. Then it morphed into the dry, cold desert we see today. The oldest known Mars meteorite, called the Allan Hills meteorite, is 4.5 billion years old. The other 110 meteorites are much younger – 1.5 billion years old at most – and formed after Mars is thought to have lost its water.













NWA 7034 is 2.1 billion years old, making it the first meteorite that may hail from the transitional era. Intriguingly, it has as much as 30 times more water than previous meteorites locked up in its minerals. "It opens our mind to the possibility that climate change on Mars was more gradual," Agee says. "Maybe it didn't lose its water early on."











Hot deal













The 319.8-gram rock found its way to Agee's lab via an amateur collector named Jay Piatek. He bought it for what turned out to be a knock-down price from a Moroccan meteorite dealer, who recognised its scorched exterior as a sign that it fell from space. "It didn't look like a Martian meteorite, so it didn't have the Martian meteorite value at the time," Agee says, adding that Mars rock can go for $500 to $1000 per gram.












Piatek brought the rock to Agee's lab to find out what it was. "Honestly, I had never seen anything like it. I was baffled, initially," Agee says. "Now, about a year and a half after the first time I set eyes on this thing, we are convinced that it is Martian, a new type, and has important implications for understanding the history of Mars."












Humayun says the results so far are exciting, and that the rock's carbon content could also yield valuable insights once other researchers get their hands on it.












"What's the most exciting thing you would want to do with a rock that comes from the near surface of Mars, especially one that seems to be loaded with water?" he asks. "I would say, what about life?" Agee and colleagues found organic matter in the meteorite, he says, but it will take more work to determine whether it was of Martian or terrestrial origin.












If it's Martian, "that would spark a lot of excitement", he says.












Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1228858


















































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600 Indian guitarists play tribute to gang-rape victim






NEW DELHI: A group of 600 guitarists have paid a musical tribute to an Indian gang-rape victim, playing "Imagine" by John Lennon in a bid to spread "hope, peace and promise" in a country still coming to terms with the violence.

The group assembled at a music festival in the eastern Indian hilltown of Darjeeling on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the brutal rape and murder of a student on a moving bus in New Delhi brought an outpouring of national anger.

"We chose this song because it talks about hope, peace and promise," Sonam Bhutia, tourism secretary of Darjeeling and one of the festival organisers, told AFP by telephone.

"The song is so inspiring. It talks about a universe without any boundaries," Bhutia said of the 1971 Lennon track.

"The tribute was a gesture on our part to show that we are with the victim's family in their hour of unimaginable sorrow."

The scenic town of Darjeeling, in a part of India wedged between Nepal and Bhutan, is famous for its tea.

The savage attack on the woman has triggered countrywide protests with calls for better safety and an overhaul of laws governing crimes against women.

-AFP/fl



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Firm bringing HQ to Chicago









St. Louis-based construction firm Clayco Inc. is moving its headquarters to Chicago, attracted by ease of air travel, proximity to clients, access to young professionals and the potential to land city business as Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes ahead with public-private partnerships for infrastructure improvements, its top executive said Thursday.

Clayco Chairman and CEO Robert Clark and Emanuel are expected to formally announce the move Friday.

Two-hundred and eighty of the company's 1,000 employees already work in the Chicago area, including 88 who work full time at the Jewelers Building, 35 E. Wacker Drive, which becomes company headquarters.

The company expects to double its Chicago workforce during the next couple of years, in part by increasing its architectural business and expanding its infrastructure business.

Clark said the company is seeking to acquire a municipal engineering company as part of an effort to develop its infrastructure business during the next few years. Now focused on industrial, office and institutional projects, the company would like to add a fourth specialty area that would go after water, sewer, road, bridge and airport work, Clark said.

"In the long run, public-private partnerships are something I'm very intrigued about and interested in pursuing," he said. "I don't think we'll do it overnight. … It may be three years from now, until we have significant traction in the (infrastructure) market."

"We're interested in national projects, not just local," he said. "But hopefully we'll have work in our own backyard."

Clayco donated $50,000 to Emanuel's mayoral campaign in late 2010, and Clark donated an additional $10,000 in September to The Chicago Committee, the mayor's campaign fund, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. Clark said his contributions to a variety of politicians stem from personal convictions and have no relation to his business endeavors.

Tom Alexander, a spokesman for Emanuel, said: "Clayco is choosing Chicago because Chicago offers them unique access to world-class talent and a location from which they can easily and effectively do business around the world, period. Any type of private-public building project would undergo the city's very strict, competitive procurement process."

Last spring, Emanuel won City Council approval for the formation of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which will endeavor to secure private financing for public infrastructure projects.

Clayco's shift into downtown Chicago began in October 2010, when it opened offices in the Jewelers Building. Employees who had been based in Oakbrook Terrace have moved there, as have a handful of executives from St. Louis. Clark relocated to Chicago in September 2010.

The company did not seek or receive any financial incentives for its move, the city said. Clayco will keep its St. Louis office intact, and no layoffs are planned as part of the relocation.

Clark and Emanuel first met when Emanuel worked in the Clinton White House. Clark, who was active with the Young Presidents' Organization, worked with Emanuel on some events at the White House. Their paths have crossed a number of times since then, including during President Barack Obama's campaign in 2008.

A meeting with Emanuel played a role in the decision to relocate company headquarters, Clark said. It occupies the 13th and 27th floors of the Jewelers Building, or 30,000 square feet.

"He asked me to target our national clients and bring them here," Clark recalls. "Quite frankly, I was blown away by that. Most mayors are not that aggressive; they leave that up to their economic development folks."

Clayco has done work for a number of large institutions and corporations, including Dow Chemical, Amazon.com, Caterpillar, and locally, Kraft Foods, Anixter, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Started 28 years ago by Clark, the privately held company has annual revenue of $820 million. Subsidiaries include architecture and design firm Forum Studios and Concrete Strategies Inc.

kbergen@tribune.com

Twitter @kathy_bergen



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Pictures We Love: Best of 2012

Photograph by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/AP

Powder-splattered, and powder-splattering, runners cross the finish line of The Color Run 5K in Irvine, California, on April 22. Each kilometer (0.6 mile) of the event features a color-pelting station dedicated to a single hue, culminating in the Pollock-esque riot at kilometer 5.

The "magical color dust" is completely safe, organizers say, though they admit it's "surprisingly high in calories and leaves a chalky aftertaste."

See more from April 2012 >>

Why We Love It

"Vibrant color floating through the air automatically brings to mind festive Holi celebrations in India. We expect to see revelers in Mumbai but instead find a surprise in the lower third of the frame—runners in California!"—Sarah Polger, senior photo editor

"There are a lot of eye-catching photographs of the festival of Holi in India that show colored powder in midair, but this particular situation has the people all lined up in a row—making it easy to see each of their very cinematic facial expressions."—Chris Combs, news photo editor

Published January 3, 2013

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Ex-USC Player: Painkiller Injections Caused Heart Attack













Despite stated label risks of possible fatal heart attack, stroke or organ failure, college football players across the country are still being given injections of a powerful painkiller on game days so they can play while injured, an ABC News investigation has found.


The drug, a generic version of Toradol, is recommended for the short-term treatment of post-operative pain in hospitals but has increasingly been used in college and professional sports, and its use is not monitored by the NCAA, the governing body of college sports.


Only two of the country's top football programs, Oklahoma and the University of Nebraska, reported to ABC News that they have limited or stopped the use of the drug in the wake of growing concern about its risks.


Which Top-Ranked College Football Teams Use Toradol?


Oklahoma said it stopped using the painkillers in 2012 after using them repeatedly in 2010 and 2011.


Nebraska said its doctors now restrict its use.


SEND TIPS About Painkiller Use in College Sports to Our Tipline


"While team physicians reserve the option to use injectable Toradol, it is rarely prescribed, and its use has been avoided this season following reports of heightened concern of potential adverse effects," Nebraska said in a statement to ABC News.






Stephen Dunn/Getty Images











Despite Risks, College Football Still Uses Powerful Painkiller Watch Video





The top two college football programs, Notre Dame and Alabama, refused to answer questions from ABC News about the painkiller. They play for the national college championship on Jan. 7.


Controversy surrounding the drug has grown this year following claims by former USC lineman Armond Armstead that he suffered a heart attack after the 2010 season, at age 20, following shots of generic Toradol administered over the course of the season by the team doctor and USC personnel.


"I thought, you know, can't be me, you know? This doesn't happen to kids like me," Armstead told ABC News.


The manufacturers' warning label for generic Toradol (ketorolac tromethamine) says the drug is not intended for prolonged periods or for chronic pain and cites gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure as possible side effects of the drug.


In addition, like other drugs in its class, the generic Toradol label warns "may cause an increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke, which can be fatal."


"This risk may increase with duration of use," the so-called black box warning reads.


In a lawsuit against the school and the doctor, Dr. James Tibone, Armstead claims the school ignored the stated risks of the drug and never told him about them.


"He was a race horse, a prize race horse that needed to be on that field no matter what," said Armstead's mother Christa. "Whether that was a risk to him or not."


Armstead says he and many other USC players would receive injections of what was known only as "the shot" in a specific training room before big games and again at half-time.


"No discussion, just go in. He would give the shot and I would be on my way," Armstead told ABC News.


Armstead said the shot made him feel "super human" despite severe ankle, and later shoulder pain, and that without it, he never could have played in big USC games against Notre Dame and UCLA.


"You can't feel any pain, you just feel amazing," the former star player said.


USC declined to comment on Armstead's claims, or the use of Toradol to treat Trojan players.


An ABC News crew and reporter were ordered off the practice field when they tried to question USC coach Lane Kiffin about the use of the painkiller. USC says the ABC News crew was told to leave because they had not submitted the appropriate paperwork in advance to attend the practice session.






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2013 Smart Guide: More people than ever 'mentally ill'



































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"












Mental illness could strike more of us in 2013 than ever before. But don't blame the strain of modern living: changes to diagnostic guidelines mean unprecedented numbers of people could be taking psychoactive drugs.











In May, the American Psychiatric Association will publish the latest edition of its diagnostic manual, known as DSM-5. Changes to the text approved in December mean, for example, that some people grieving after a bereavement could soon be diagnosed with depression. And Asperger's syndrome is to be subsumed into autism spectrum disorder.













That change is likely to decrease the number of children diagnosed with some form of autism, because not all those who might have been diagnosed with Asperger's would meet autism criteria. But overall, critics fear an expansion of the boundaries of mental illness. "The phrase I use is the 'sickening of society'," says Frank Farley of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the organisers of a petition that tried unsuccessfully to open DSM-5 up to wider scientific review.












Some 20 per cent of US citizens have experienced a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. How this figure will now change is unclear - for the most part the implications for rates of diagnosis haven't been studied.











Allen Frances of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led the last DSM revision in 1994 and has been a fierce critic of DSM-5. He fears drug companies will scent a marketing opportunity. Already, he says, "antipsychotics are being giving out like candy".





















































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Starbucks to open first store in Vietnam






HANOI: Starbucks said on Thursday it would open its first store next month in Vietnam, seeking a foothold in the coffee-loving country as part of efforts to expand in Asia.

The country's first Starbucks cafe will be in southern Ho Chi Minh City, the US beverage giant said in a joint statement with its local partner, Hong Kong's Maxim Group.

"Vietnam is one of the most dynamic and exciting markets in the world and we are proud to add Vietnam as the 12th market across the China and Asia-Pacific region," said Starbucks China and Asia Pacific president John Culver.

Starbucks has been targeting growth outside of the stagnant US market, opening thousands of stores in China and across the Asia-Pacific region over the past few years.

In October, it opened its first stores in India, in partnership with domestic giant Tata Global Beverages.

Unlike tea-drinking India, Vietnam - the world's second-largest coffee producer - already has a strong local coffee culture with dozens of popular local chains and small coffee-shops on nearly every street corner.

"Starbucks is deeply respectful of Vietnam's long and distinctive local coffee culture," Culver said in the statement.

"We know coffee is a national pride for many Vietnamese and as such, we look forward to contributing and growing Vietnam's already vibrant coffee industry," he added.

Starbucks already purchases "notable" amounts of high-quality arabica coffee from Vietnam and is committed to buying more over the long-term, according to the statement.

Culver said in December that Starbucks will have almost 4,000 stores in the Asia-Pacific region by the end of 2013, including 1,000 in China.

- AFP/de



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Chicago man charged in estranged wife's slaying in Munster









A Chicago man with a history of domestic violence arrests has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife in Munster, Ind., early New Year’s Day, authorities said.

Margarito Valdivia, 44, of the 10800 block of South Troy Street, is being held without bail in the slaying of his estranged wife, Erica Valdivia, 33, early on Tuesday, Munster Police said in a news release this afternoon. The attack at a home in the 800 block of Boxwood Drive in Munster also injured Erica Valdivia’s boyfriend, police said.

Erica Valdivia, whom the Lake County coroner’s office said suffered blunt force trauma to the head in an apparent homicide, had been separated from her husband for about four months, according to police.

Margarito Valdivia is believed to have driven to the Boxwood Drive home early Tuesday, gone in and confronted his wife and her boyfriend, police said. He hit the boyfriend in the head “numerous times” as he drove the boyfriend from the home, police said in the release.

Once the boyfriend was outside, Margarito Valdivia went back into the home and began beating his wife, police said.

Police were called to the Boxwood Drive home about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday and found the boyfriend outside with a severe cut to the head. Officers tried to go into the house, but were at first unable to, as Margarito Valdivia had barricaded himself inside. After a SWAT team was called, police sent a remote-controlled robot into the home, and he surrendered.

Police entered the home and found Erica Valdivia lying in a bathroom, with “major trauma” to the head, including her face, police said. She was taken to Community Hospital in Munster, where she was declared dead at 10:04 a.m. Tuesday, according to the coroner’s office.

The Lake County, Ind., prosecutor’s office charged Margarito Valdivia with murder and felony battery today, police said. Court information was not immediately available, but he was being held without bail in Lake County Jail.

Court records show that Margarito Valdivia has Cook County arrests dating back to 1990, when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and an order of protection was lodged against him. The charges were later dropped. In 1994, he was charged with domestic battery and resisting arrest and was sentenced to a year’s probation after being found guilty of the resisting arrest charge, according to court records.

In 1997, Margarito Valdivia was charged with criminal damage and having a firearm without a gun owner’s permit, and given two years court supervision following a guilty plea. A 2000 domestic battery charge was dropped, but in August 2012 he was found guilty of battery after an attack July 23 in the 9800 block of South Commercial Avenue and sentenced to a year’s conditional discharge, records show.

At the time of the battery arrest, he was still living at the same home in the 10600 block of South Avenue N that the coroner’s office listed as Erica Valdivia’s home address.

lford@tribune.com

Twitter: @ltaford



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Pictures: Errant Shell Oil Rig Runs Aground Off Alaska, Prompts Massive Response

Photograph courtesy Jonathan Klingenberg, U.S. Coast Guard

Waves lash at the sides of the Shell* drilling rig Kulluk, which ran aground off the rocky southern coast of Alaska on New Year's Eve in a violent storm.

The rig, seen above Tuesday afternoon, was "stable," with no signs of spilled oil products, authorities said. But continued high winds and savage seas hampered efforts to secure the vessel and the 150,000 gallons (568,000 liters) of diesel fuel and lubricants on board. The Kulluk came to rest just east of Sitkalidak Island (map), an uninhabited but ecologically and culturally rich site north of Ocean Bay, after a four-day odyssey, during which it broke free of its tow ships and its 18-member crew had to be rescued by helicopter.

The U.S. Coast Guard, state, local, and industry officials have joined in an effort involving nearly 600 people to gain control of the rig, one of two that Shell used for its landmark Arctic oil-drilling effort last summer. "This must be considered once of the largest marine-response efforts conducted in Alaska in many years," said Steve Russell, of Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 266-foot (81-meter) rig now is beached off one of the larger islands in the Kodiak archipelago, a land of forest, glaciers, and streams about 300 miles (482 kilometers) south of Anchorage. The American Land Conservancy says that Sitkalidak Island's highly irregular coastline traps abundant food sources upwelling from the central Gulf of Alaska, attracting large numbers of seabirds and marine mammals. The largest flock of common murres ever recorded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Sitkalidak Strait, which separates the island from Kodiak. Sitkalidak also has 16 wild salmon rivers and archaeological sites tied to the Alutiiq native peoples dating back more than 7,000 years.

Shell incident commander Susan Childs said Monday night that the company's wildlife management team had started to assess the potential impact of a spill, and would be dispatched to the site when the weather permitted. She said the Kulluk's fuel tanks were in the center of the vessel, encased in heavy steel. "The Kulluk is a pretty sturdy vessel," she said. " It just remains to be seen how long it's on the shoreline and how long the weather is severe."

Marianne Lavelle

*Shell is sponsor of National Geographic's Great Energy Challenge initiative. National Geographic maintains editorial autonomy.

Published January 2, 2013

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Obama Signs 'Fiscal Cliff' Bill With Autopen


Jan 3, 2013 12:53am







ap obama fiscal cliff press Conference thg 130101 wblog Obama Signs Fiscal Cliff Bill With Autopen

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo


HONOLULU, Hawaii — President Obama has signed the “fiscal cliff” legislation into law via autopen from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.


The bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” arrived at the White House late this afternoon and it was immediately processed, according to a senior White House official. A copy was delivered to the president in Hawaii for review. He then directed the bill to be signed by autopen back in Washington, D.C.


The Bush administration deemed in 2005 that the use of the autopen is constitutional, although President George W. Bush never used the mechanical device to replicate his signature on a bill.


The office of legal counsel found at the time that Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution allows the president to use the autopen to sign legislation, stating “the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill to sign it.”


Obama has used the autopen twice in the past to sign legislation, both times while he was overseas.


Use of the autopen has been controversial.  Conservative groups alleged last summer that Obama used an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of Navy SEALs killed in a Chinook crash in Afghanistan — a charge the White House disputed flatly as false.


In 2004, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was criticized for using an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of fallen troops.


And in 1992 then-Vice President Dan Quayle even got into some hot water over his use of the autopen on official correspondence during an appearance on “This Week with David Brinkley.”


Obama, who arrived back in Hawaii early Wednesday morning to continue his family vacation, spent the afternoon golfing with friends at the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay.


Obama is slated to remain in Hawaii through Saturday.


ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this report



SHOWS: Good Morning America This Week World News







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In-depth 2012: The best long reads of the year









































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"












Dig deeper, look closer and think harder – these are the goals of New Scientist's in-depth articles. Each one is perfect for saving in your favourite read-it-later app and curling up in front of a glowing tablet for a good long read.












These are our editors' picks of our best features of the year, and all are prime examples of the amazing breadth of big ideas that were ripe for the tackling in 2012. When you have finished digesting these readable meals, visit our in-depth articles archive if you're hungry for more.











Richard Webb: "You might not have heard of the algorithm that runs the world." I certainly hadn't, or that its mathematical foundations are starting to look a little wobbly. An eye-opening examination of how seemingly abstruse mathematics is in fact deeply embedded in modern life: "The algorithm that runs the world"












Sally Adee: Gastric bypass surgery is the best surgery you're not getting, said Dr Oz on his popular medical advice show in the US. Because of enthusiasm from people like him, this operation has become massively popular – but by whimsically hacking at our stomach, might we might be messing with a system far more complicated than anyone really understands? Samantha Murphy had the surgery and began to realise that losing 45 kilograms could come with some profound neurological trade-offs: "Change your stomach, change your brain"












Michael Le Page: Nowadays most people either haven't heard of the 1970 book The Limits to Growth, or believe – wrongly – that the research it was based on has been discredited. But the main message of Limits is perhaps more relevant than ever – that a delayed response to mounting environmental problems leads to catastrophe further down the line: "Boom and doom: Revisiting prophecies of collapse"












Richard Fisher: This is a simple story about a scientific mystery. Strange rumbles, whistles and blasts have been reported all over the world for centuries. In New York state, they are called "Seneca guns"; in the Italian Apennines they are described as brontidi, which means thunder-like; in Japan they are yan; and along the coast of Belgium they are called mistpouffers – or fog belches. Yet the cause is often unexplained – what on Earth could be behind them? "Mystery booms: The source of a worldwide sonic enigmaSpeaker"












Valerie Jamieson: It's been a sensational year for particle physics, but the Higgs boson isn't the only fascinating particle in town. Meet 11 more particles that change our understanding of the subatomic world: "11 particles for 11 physics puzzlesMovie Camera"












David Robson: What is the secret of the legendary "flow state" that seems to mark out genius in everyone from piano virtuosos to tennis champions? With the latest brain stimulation techniques, it may soon be within everyone's reach, and Sally Adee writes with panache as she describes her own use of the technology during a terrifying marksmanship training session. This has everything I want to read in a story – drama, a revolutionary idea and some practical advice for anyone to try at home: "Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus"












Graham Lawton: The writer of this article, Christopher Kemp, is a self-confessed lover of marginalia – nooks and crannies of science that are often overlooked. But as this beautifully written story reveals, those nooks and crannies often contain rich and fascinating material. Material, in fact, like ambergris: "Heaven scent: The grey gold from a sperm whale's gut"












Ben Crystall: Many people may remember the wonder material Starlite from an episode of BBC TV's Tomorrow's World – it seemed to have a miraculous ability to withstand fire and heat. So what happened to it? In this feature Richard Fisher uncovers the strange tale of Starlite and its eccentric inventor Maurice Ward, and on the way reveals fascinating details about Ward and his creation. And though Ward is dead, the story may not be over – it now looks like Starlite could get a second chance… "The power of cool: Whatever became of Starlite?"












Clare Wilson: I enjoyed working on this feature the most this year because to me it truly represents the future of medicine. New Scientist often predicts that some new medicine or technology will be available in five years' time. When it comes to using gene therapies or stem cell therapies on babies in the womb – the subject of this feature – the timeline is probably more uncertain, yet I don't see how anyone can doubt that some day it will happen: "Fetal healing: Curing congenital diseases in the womb"



















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































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Tennis: Davis Cup row brews in India






CHENNAI, India: Indian tennis was hit by controversy on Wednesday over reports that top players may boycott next month's Davis Cup tie against South Korea if a slew of demands were not met.

The group of players, headed by Somdev Devvarman, want a better distribution of the Davis Cup prize money, a change in the support staff and involvement in the choice of venues for ties.

The All-India Tennis Association (AITA) and the players currently have a 50-50 share of the prize money sent by the world governing body from revenues earned from the tournament.

The players also wanted non-playing captain Shiv Misra and national coach Nandan Bal to be replaced and a full-time physiotherapist be inducted in the squad.

Both the AITA and Devvarman played down a report in Wednesday's Hindustan Times that the players could stay away from the Cup tie against the Koreans if their demands were ignored.

The Asia-Oceania group one tie in New Delhi from February 1-3 will take the winners into the play-offs for next year's elite world group.

"I don't want to point fingers at anyone or make an alarming statement," said Devvarman, who is taking part in the ongoing ATP Chennai Open.

"You will probably hear more about it in the days to come."

An AITA official, who did not want to be named, accepted the players had made suggestions which will be discussed before the Cup squad is named around January 11.

"It's not as serious an issue as is being made out," the official told AFP. "We have already spoken to the players and will arrive at an agreement soon."

Among those players supporting Devvarman' stance are senior players Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, but former captain Leander Paes is not part of the group.

Trouble had also erupted ahead of the London Olympics last year when both Bopanna and Bhupathi declined to partner Paes at the Games for what they said were personal and professional reasons.

The controversy started after the AITA initially named the veteran duo of Bhupathi and Paes for the doubles, even though Bhupathi wanted to play with his then partner Bopanna.

The AITA were later forced to pick two doubles teams for the Olympics, with Paes pairing with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan, and Bhupathi partnering Bopanna.

Both pairs fell in early rounds at the Games.

Devvarman, who was India's top player with a ranking of 62 in mid-2011, fell to 663 by the end of last year when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury for almost seven months.

The 27-year-old proved he was fit again as he defeated the 106th-ranked Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic in the first round of the Chennai Open on Tuesday.

- AFP/de



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With final vote, Congress resolves 'fiscal cliff' drama










WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States averted economic calamity on Tuesday when lawmakers approved a deal to prevent huge tax hikes and spending cuts that would have pushed the world's largest economy off a "fiscal cliff" and into recession.

The agreement hands a clear victory to President Barack Obama, who won re-election on a promise to address budget woes in part by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. His Republican antagonists were forced to vote against a core tenet of their anti-tax conservative faith.






The deal also resolves, for now, the question of whether Washington can overcome deep ideological differences to avoid harming an economy that is only now beginning to pick up steam after the deepest recession in 80 years.

Consumers, businesses and financial markets have been rattled by the months of budget brinkmanship. The crisis ended when dozens of Republicans in the House of Representatives buckled and backed tax hikes approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Asian stocks hit a five-month high and the dollar fell as markets welcomed the news.

While the vote averted immediate pain like tax hikes for almost all U.S. households, it did nothing to resolve other political showdowns on the budget that loom in coming months. Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs were only delayed for two months.

Obama urged "a little less drama" when the Congress and White House next address thorny fiscal issues like the government's rapidly mounting $16 trillion debt load.

There was plenty of drama on the first day of 2013 as lawmakers scrambled to avert the "fiscal cliff" of across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts that would have punched a $600 billion hole in the economy this year.

As the rest of the country celebrated New Year's Day with parties and college football games, the Senate stayed up past 2 a.m. on Tuesday and passed the bill by an overwhelming margin of 89 to 8.

When they arrived at the Capitol at noon, House Republicans were forced to decide whether to accept a $620 billion tax hike over 10 years on the wealthiest or shoulder the blame for letting the country slip into budget chaos.

The Republicans mounted an effort to add hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts to the package and spark a confrontation with the Senate.

RELUCTANT REPUBLICANS

For a few hours, it looked like Washington would send the country over the fiscal cliff after all, until Republican leaders determined that they did not have the votes for spending cuts.

In the end, they reluctantly approved the Senate bill by a bipartisan vote of 257 to 167 and sent it on to Obama to sign into law.

"We are ensuring that taxes aren't increased on 99 percent of our fellow Americans," said Republican Representative David Dreier of California.

The vote underlined the precarious position of House Speaker John Boehner, who will ask his Republicans to re-elect him speaker on Thursday when a new Congress is sworn in.

Boehner backed the bill but most House Republicans, including his top lieutenants, voted against it.

The speaker had sought to negotiate a "grand bargain" with Obama to overhaul the U.S. tax code and rein in health and retirement programs that are due to balloon in coming decades as the population ages.

But Boehner could not unite his members behind an alternative to Obama's tax measures.

Income tax rates will now rise on families earning more than $450,000 per year and the amount of deductions they can take to lower their tax bill will be limited.

Low temporary rates that have been in place for the past decade will be made permanent for less-affluent taxpayers, along with a range of targeted tax breaks put in place to fight the 2009 economic downturn.

However, workers will see up to $2,000 more taken out of their paychecks annually with the expiration of a temporary payroll tax cut.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill will increase budget deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the coming 10 years, compared to the budget savings that would occur if the extreme measures of the cliff were to kick in.

But the measure will actually save $650 billion during that time period when measured against the tax and spending policies that were in effect on Monday, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent group that has pushed for more aggressive deficit savings.

(Additional reporting by Rachelle Younglai, Thomas Ferraro, Mark Felsenthal, David Lawder; Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech)

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Space Pictures This Week: Ice “Broccoli,” Solar Storm









































































































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Obama Hails 'Cliff' Deal, Warns of Next Fiscal Fight













Minutes after the House of Representatives approved a bipartisan Senate deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" and preserve Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans making less than $400,000 per year, President Obama praised party leaders and wasted little time turning to the next fiscal fight.


"This is one step in the broader effort to strengthen our economy for everybody," Obama said.


Obama lamented that earlier attempts at a much larger fiscal deal that would have cut spending and dealt with entitlement reforms failed. He said he hoped future debates would be done with "a little less drama, a little less brinksmanship, and not scare folks quite as much."


But Obama drew a line in the sand on the debt ceiling, which is set to be reached by March.


"While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether they should pay the bills for what they've racked up," Obama said. "We can't not pay bills that we've already incurred."


An hour after his remarks, Obama boarded Air Force One to return to his planned Hawaiian holiday vacation, reuniting with his family, who have been vacationing there since just before Christmas.






AP Photo/Charles Dharapak















'Fiscal Cliff' Negotiations: Congress Reaches Agreement Watch Video





House Republicans agreed to the up-or-down vote Tuesday evening, despite earlier talk of trying to amend the Senate bill with more spending cuts before taking a vote. The bill delays for two months tough decisions about automatic spending cuts that were set to kick in Wednesday.


A majority of the Republicans in the GOP-majority House voted against the fiscal cliff deal. About twice as many Democrats voted in favor of the deal compared to Republicans. One hundred fifty-one Republicans joined 16 Democrats to vote against the deal, while 172 Democrats carried the vote along with 85 Republicans.


The Senate passed the same bill by an 89-8 vote in the wee hours of New Year's Day. If House Republicans had tweaked the legislation, there would have been no clear path for its return to the Senate before a new Congress is sworn in Thursday.


The vote split Republican leaders in the House. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, voted yes, and so did the GOP's 2012 vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.


But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., the No. 2 Republican in the House, voted no. It was his opposition that had made passage of the bill seem unlikely earlier in the day.


The deal does little to address the nation's long-term debt woes and does not entirely solve the problem of the "fiscal cliff."


Indeed, the last-minute compromise -- far short from a so-called grand bargain on deficit reduction -- sets up a new showdown on the same spending cuts in two months amplified by a brewing fight on how to raise the debt ceiling beyond $16.4 trillion. That new fiscal battle has the potential to eclipse the "fiscal cliff" in short order.


"Now the focus turns to spending," said Boehner in a statement after the vote. "The American people re-elected a Republican majority in the House, and we will use it in 2013 to hold the president accountable for the 'balanced' approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt."


Republicans hope that allowing the fiscal cliff compromise, which raised taxes without an equal amount of spending cuts, will settle the issue of tax rates for the coming debates on spending.






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2012 review: The year in health science









































Read more: "2013 Smart Guide: 10 ideas that will shape the year"











The first half of 2012 will be remembered for the saga over whether or not to publish controversial research involving versions of the H5N1 bird flu virus engineered to spread more easily in mammals. In the end openness won out, and both contentious studies did finally see the light of day.












This was also the year that saw the battle to eradicate polio reach its crucial endgame – just as another problem, in the form of totally drug resistant tuberculosis, reared its head.












Away from infectious disease, 2012 brought us a theory on the link between Tutankhamun, epilepsy and the first monotheistic religion, and an insight into the perils of premature ageing in Italy's ominously named Triangle of Death. Here are 10 more of the year's memorable stories.












Babies are born dirty, with a gutful of bacteria
Far from being sterile, babies come complete with an army of bacteria. The finding could have implications for gut disorders and our health in general












Forensic failure: 'Miscarriages of justice will occur'
Our survey of UK forensic scientists reveals that many are concerned that closure of the Forensic Science Service will lead to miscarriages of justice












Scandal of an underfunded and undertreated cancer
Lung cancer in those who have never smoked is on the rise – but they face the same stigma as their smoking counterparts












Ovarian stem cells discovered in humans
Stem cells capable of forming new eggs could promise limitless eggs for IVF treatments, and the rejuvenation of older eggs












Paralysis breakthrough: spinal cord damage repaired
An implant helping paralysed people stand unaided suggests the spinal cord is able to recover function years after severe damage












A real fMRI high: My ecstasy brain scan
Graham Lawton reports the highs, lows and psychedelic purple doors involved in taking MDMA while having his brain scanned












You may carry cells from siblings, aunts and uncles
Male cells found in the umbilical cord blood of baby girls with older brothers suggests fetal cells cross between mother and baby more than once thought












Can we deter athletes who self-harm to win?
The Paralympics may encourage a debate on a dangerous practice – and potential ways to prevent it












First non-hormonal male 'pill' prevents pregnancy
A non-hormonal drug that temporarily reverses male fertility appears to have few side effects in mice












Mining MRSA genetic code halts superbug outbreak
Whole genome sequencing of an MRSA outbreak has identified the person who unwittingly spread the bacteria around a hospital, stopping further infection

















































If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.




































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