Sunday, April 28, 2013

U.S. government may not hit debt limit until October: analysts

By Rachelle Younglai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States might not hit the statutory limit on its debt until October, a policy research group said on Friday, giving Republican lawmakers more time to extract spending cuts from the Obama administration in return for extending the borrowing cap.

After giving into Democratic demands in December to raise taxes and later working with them to avoid a government shutdown, Republicans have been gearing up to use the debt limit as leverage to seek fresh budget cuts and changes to the tax code.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank that analyzes the Treasury's daily and monthly cash flows, had expected the federal government to hit the congressionally-set limit on its debt sometime between early-August and mid-September.

But stronger-than-expected revenues and deeper-than-anticipated budget cuts mean the ceiling on borrowing probably will not be reach until sometime between mid-August and mid-October, the group said on its website on Friday.

"October is a nasty month," BPC economic policy director Steve Bell said in an interview, noting that major government payments are due in October.

If Congress does not raise the borrowing cap before the Treasury hits the limit, the government will no longer be able to borrow money to pay its bills, including interest on its bonds, raising the risk of a damaging debt default.

In an attempt to avoid being blamed for a default, Republicans in the House of Representatives are pushing legislation to require the Treasury to pay bondholders and Social Security retirement benefits before other bills if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling on time.

The BPC said its forecast could change depending on economic conditions and when updated financial information became available.

Nearly $90 billion may soon be pumped into government coffers by the now-profitable government-controlled housing finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to account for deferred tax assets that were written down.

The think tank, however, does not think the disbursement to the Treasury will be that high. "We do expect that there will be a payment of some size in June but it is our opinion that the number is more likely to be in the $20 billion range and not in the rumored $100 billion range," Bell said.

The Treasury has said it could not forecast an exact date for when Congress must raise the debt ceiling due to delayed tax filings and uncertainty about the effect of the government budget cuts.

(Reporting by Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Paul Simao)


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Saturday, April 27, 2013

integument kingmaker: D is for Dentist: get happy series: start it up.

Our fitness challenge wrapped up this week! I began this challenge beginning of this semester with my vegetarian transition, maybe a little too ambitiously. With a busy dental school schedule and marathon training, I spent a lot of time stressing out about what I should be doing. I had actually gained weight!

I chatted with Sharon right after my weigh-in. She set me off to deep thought about the way I think about health and fitness. An interview with her, our inaugural SHAPE challenge winner!!!, will be coming up soon- meanwhile, you can read her interview about her HPSP (military scholarship for dental school) here.

Being healthy isn?t just about weighing a certain number or looking a certain way. This is why I?m excited to start this ?Get happy series?. (I took this picture on my run crossing the bridge to New Jersey!- Philadelphia looked so beautiful with the sun setting in the background.)


I?ll be write about health, physical fitness, nutrition, dentist ergonomics and emotional health***: many things I should pay more attention to. To start off, here?s my baseline right now with a busy school schedule.

  • I sit on average 8 hours a day at school + 3-5 hours studying/working/writing.

  • I walk about 3000 steps on average on days I don?t run.

  • I snack throughout the day into the night out of fatigue-boredom-stress.

I want to focus more on the mental/emotional health on this dental school journey. Once school lightens up a bit I?m going to organize and structure this blog a bit, so look forward to new changes.

I?m heading to DC tomorrow morning bright and early to tackle 13.1 miles. Sleep tight, everyone! Please send me some badass running vibes!!!


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Soils Cannot Lock Away Black Carbon


Environmentalists have argued that the use of biochar could slow and ultimately reduce global warming by taking carbon out of circulation. Image: Flickr/Lou Gold

LONDON ? Climate scientists may have to rethink some of their old assumptions about carbon. US and European researchers have just established that black carbon, soot and biochar ? the burnt remains from countless forest fires ? doesn't stay in the soil indefinitely.

Around 27 million tons of the stuff gets dissolved in water and washed down the rivers into the oceans each year.

Black carbon or biochar has been hailed as one possible way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, by taking carbon out of circulation. But this study, according to a report in the journal Science, "closes a major gap in the global charcoal budget and provides critical information in the context of geo-engineering."

Forest, bush, scrub and peat fires produce somewhere between 40 and 250 million tons of black carbon every year. Had this burning been complete, this would have ended up as carbon dioxide, back in the atmosphere.

'A significant amount of black carbon'
So researchers have counted the biochar locked in the soil ? where it enhances fertility ? as carbon out of circulation for millions of years. But analysis of water from the world's 10 largest rivers ? the Amazon, the Yangtse, the Congo and so on ? told a different story.

"Each sample included a significant amount of black carbon," said Anssi V?h?talo, of the University of Jyv?skyl? in Finland. "On average, the amount of black carbon was 10 percent of the amount of dissolved organic carbon.

"The results prove that the proportion of water-soluble carbon may be as much as 40 percent of black carbon created annually."

The sampled rivers carry one third of the water running to the oceans, from a catchment area that embraces 28 percent of the planet's land area.

Stubbornly on the increase
The research is yet another step in the long and tricky international effort to understand just how the world works: How life's raw materials are consumed, exploited and recycled, and why greenhouse gas emissions are stubbornly on the increase.

Fossil fuel burning puts back into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide ? and the warmth ? locked away in the Carboniferous period and buried for 300 million years.

Log fires simply restore carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that was locked up a few decades earlier, in the growing tree: Log fires in that sense are carbon neutral, or even carbon negative, since a lot of the carbon lingers and is buried as ash, soot or charcoal.

Some environmentalists have argued that greater use of biochar could slow and perhaps ultimately reduce global warming by taking carbon out of circulation. The accounting may not be so simple.

"Most scientists thought charcoal was resistant. They thought, once it is incorporated in the soils, it would stay there," said Rudolf Jaff? from Florida University.

"When charcoal forms it is typically deposited in the soil. From a chemical perspective, no one really thought it dissolves, but it does," he added.

"It doesn't accumulate, like we had for a long time believed."

This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.


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Friday, April 26, 2013

Cash-Strapped Mark Sanford Campaign Brings Cardboard Pelosi Out on the Trail

Exactly one week after GOP leaders pulled funding from the Congressional candidate Mark Sanford, the South Carolina Republican appeared at a bizarre campaign event in Charleston Wednesday morning, during which Sanford "debated" a full-color cardboard poster of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, held aloft by one of his campaign staffers. Local reporters captured the scene from multiple angles as Sanford held forth on a sidewalk in front of the?Medical University of South Carolina:

Mark Sanford and Nancy Pelosi cutout as he tries to call out E Colbert Busch

? schuyler kropf (@skropf47) April 24, 2013

Anyone else thinking Clint's chair? MT @stefaniebainum Mark Sanford "Debating" Nancy Pelosi on Ashley Ave. by MUSC

? Andy Shain (@AndyShain) April 24, 2013

We compiled this GIF from photos taken by reporter Stefanie Bainum of ABC News 4:

RELATED: Mark Sanford Is One Step Closer to Redemption

RELATED: Who Is Stephen Colbert's Sister? (Aside from Being Stephen Colbert's Sister)

Sanford even bragged about the event on his Twitter feed:

Since my opponent won't debate, we decided to "debate" her biggest benefactor, Nancy Pelosi:

? Mark Sanford (@MarkSanford) April 24, 2013

Sanford's website goes on to explain that he staged the event to protest opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch's decision to publicly debate Sanford only once, and chose to feature Nancy Pelosi because Busch, a Democrat and sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, has supported the Democratic leader's policy initiatives. (Sanford's campaign even cut an ad describing Colbert Busch as "PELOSI'S VOICE.")

RELATED: The Appalachian Trail Ad Democrats Were Waiting to Air

In response, Busch's campaign flayed Sanford: "While Mark Sanford continues his desperate campaign to deceive voters, Elizabeth Colbert Busch is spending her time with real people who support her campaign ... She doesn't have to resort to phony cardboard cutouts to talk with the people of South Carolina."

RELATED: Mark Sanford's Bare-All Apology Tour Isn't Working

Sanford's strange appearance comes a week after the National Republican Congressional Committee decided to pull funding from Sanford's campaign after the candidate was accused of trespassing on his former wife's home on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina ? to watch the Super Bowl with his son, Sanford insisted several times.

RELATED: Elizabeth Colbert Busch Is One Step Closer to Capitol Hill

And the optics on the imaginary Pelosi are perplexing. Remember?Clint Eastwood and the empty chair? Or?Hillary Clinton and the panda mask? Cardboard at a campaign stop isn't exactly on that level, but, hey, maybe Sanford is getting a little desperate ? he's down some 9 points in the polls less than two weeks ahead of the May 7 special election, and he's still got the Appalachian Trail to contend with... sort of.


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Fighting bacteria with new genre of antibodies

Apr. 24, 2013 ? In an advance toward coping with bacteria that shrug off existing antibiotics and sterilization methods, scientists are reporting development of a new family of selective antimicrobial agents that do not rely on traditional antibiotics. Their report on these synthetic colloid particles, which can be custom-designed to recognize the shape of specific kinds of bacteria and inactivate them, appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Vesselin Paunov and colleagues point out that many bacteria have developed resistance to existing antibiotics. They sought a new approach -- one that bacteria would be unable to elude by mutating into drug-resistant forms. Their inspiration was the antibodies that the immune system produces when microbes invade the body. Those antibodies patrol the body for microbes and bind to their surfaces, triggering a chain of events in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the microbes.

Paunov's team describes development and successful tests of synthetic colloid particles, called "colloid antibodies." Colloids are materials in which tiny particles of one material are dispersed in another material. Milk is a colloid in which globules of fat are spread throughout water and other materials. The colloid antibody particles are shells packed with a killing agent. They are designed to recognize and bind to specific bacteria.

Laboratory experiments showed that the colloid antibodies attached to and inactivated only their intended targets without harming other cells. "We anticipate that similar shape selective colloid antibodies can potentially become a powerful weapon in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria," say the researchers. "They can also find applications as non-toxic antibacterial agents, preventing growth of harmful bacteria in various formulations."

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. Josef Borovi?ka, William J. Metheringham, Leigh A. Madden, Christopher D. Walton, Simeon D. Stoyanov, Vesselin N. Paunov. Photothermal Colloid Antibodies for Shape-Selective Recognition and Killing of Microorganisms. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 135 (14): 5282 DOI: 10.1021/ja400781f

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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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why trial for Boston bomb suspect could be at least a year away

Both sides in the case of alleged Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be scouring thousands of FBI interviews and other evidence. Also, the Justice Department will undertake a lengthy process to decide if it will seek the death penalty.

By Ron Scherer,?Staff writer / April 24, 2013

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is seen in this photo provided by the FBI.



How long could it take to get Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, to trial?

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The short answer is awhile ? at least a year, maybe more, before legal experts think both the government and the defense would be ready.

Both sides will be scouring thousands of interviews by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hundreds of hours of forensic laboratory work, and who knows how many hours of images sent in by individuals to law enforcement. On top of that, the defense might make pretrial challenges that would have to be decided before the trial starts. And both sides will be asking experts to help them understand the psychological makeup of the 19-year-old Mr. Tsarnaev, who could face the death penalty.

?A trial of this complexity ? I would be surprised if it goes to trial this calendar year,? says Thomas Dupree, a former deputy assistant attorney general and now a partner in the Washington law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

However, some parts of the case will proceed very quickly. Under federal law, a magistrate judge must hold a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause within 14 days of the initial appearance if the defendant is in custody (as is the case here, with Tsarnaev being charged Monday). Or the government could obtain an indictment, which by itself establishes probable cause.

?They will probably indict fairly soon unless there is a waiver of the preliminary hearing from the defendant,? says James Keneally, a defense lawyer and partner at Kelley Drye & Warren in New York. ?They just can?t string it out: They have to indict him, and they may have already gotten a sealed indictment.?

But once those steps are accomplished, the process will begin to slow down.

The Department of Justice has to decide if it will seek the death penalty in connection with the charges, which include using a weapon of mass destruction, resulting in deaths and injuries.

?There is a whole chain-of-command process that must be completed before you can even make a deal [plea bargain],? says Joshua Dratel of Dratel & Mysliwiec in New York and a leading defense lawyer in terrorism cases. ?It is the only true non-rubber-stamp process in the criminal justice system.?

The first element in the process would be a recommendation from the district prosecutor, in this case the US attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz. Once the Boston office sends in its recommendation about the death penalty, the case would be forwarded to a Justice Department committee, which would read the file and then make its own recommendation.

Once the case gets to the Justice Department committee, the defense would have an opportunity to go to Washington and meet with committee members to present mitigating circumstances. ?If there is any doubt, you go and make the pitch,? Mr. Dratel says. ?You have only one shot.?

Once the committee makes its recommendation, the case then goes to the US attorney general, in this case Eric Holder.

?The whole process takes six months to a year,? Dratel says.

As part of the process, a judge appoints for the defense a ?learned counsel,? who has experience in death-penalty cases, as well several other attorneys. On Tuesday, Miriam Conrad of the Federal Public Defender Office, asked the judge, Marianne Bowler, to appoint two lawyers who are specialists in the death penalty.


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hagel: Israel did not tell him of intel on Syria

CAIRO (AP) ? U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated on Wednesday that he was caught by surprise when Israeli officials publicly revealed their assessment that Syria has used chemical weapons in its civil war.

Hagel told reporters that his Israeli counterpart, Moshe Yaalon, did not alert him to the assessment when they met in Tel Aviv on Monday. The assessment was announced publicly on Tuesday by a senior official with Israel's military intelligence office.

"They did not give me that assessment; I guess it was not complete," Hagel said after several hours of meetings with senior Egyptian officials on the fourth stop of a week-long Mideast tour. "So I have not seen the specifics of it" or discussed it with Israeli officials.

He said he and Yaalon discussed the issue of Syria's chemical weapons, but Hagel would not elaborate further.

The Obama administration has said Syrian government use of chemical weapons would be a "game changer," implying that it might, if confirmed, compel the U.S. to get more directly involved in the civil conflict.

Hagel said that Washington is looking for "real intelligence" on the issue of Syrian chemical weapon use.

"Suspicions are one thing. Evidence is another," he said. "I think we have to be very careful here before we make any conclusions, draw any conclusions, based on real intelligence." He said his comments should not be interpreting as questioning the validity of other counties' intelligence on Syria. The important point, he said, is that "the United States relies on its own intelligence ? and must."

After his meetings in Cairo, which included talks with President Mohammed Morsi and the Egyptian defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Hagel flew to Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf.

Hagel said his Cairo stop was important for reinforcing U.S. support for the Egyptian government's transition to democracy and its efforts at economic reform.

By including Cairo on his first Mideast tour as defense secretary, Hagel was highlighting the Obama administration's hope of preserving influence with the Egyptian military as the country struggles with its transition to democracy.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The U.S. is deeply concerned, however, that continued instability in Egypt will have broader consequences in a region already rocked by unrest, including in the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula.


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How Canned Food Conquered the World?And How It Almost Didn't

The BBC has a wonderful dive into the history of canning, tracing its origins from a technology designed to help expand and sustain the British Empire, to a miracle commodity of modern capitalism. And it almost failed before it ever got going. More »


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Long-lost giant fish from Amazon rediscovered

Apr. 22, 2013 ? A professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., has put aside nearly a century and a half of conventional wisdom with the rediscovery of a species of giant Amazonian fish whose existence was first established in a rare 1829 monograph only to be lost to science some 40 years later.

Dr. Donald Stewart, a fisheries professor at ESF, found evidence in the monograph of a second species belonging to the genus Arapaima, air-breathing giants that live in shallow lakes, flooded forests and connecting channels in the Amazon River basin. For 145 years, biologists have thought that Arapaima consisted of a single species whose scientific name is A. gigas. But Stewart rediscovered a second species that he describes in the March issue of the journal Copeia, published by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.

"In a sense, this forgotten fish has been hiding in plain sight in this old monograph but that monograph is so rare that it now resides only in rare book collections of a few large museums," Stewart said. "I was truly surprised to discover drawings that revealed a fish very different from what we consider a typical Arapaima."

Part of the apparently rare fish's story remains a mystery, however, as scientists don't know if it still exists in the wild. "Scientists have had the impression that Arapaima is a single species for such a long time that they have been slow to collect new specimens. Their large size makes them difficult to manage in the field and expensive to store in a museum," Stewart said.

Arapaima can grow to three meters in length (about 10 feet) and weigh as much as 200 kilograms (440 pounds).

This different species was originally named A. agassizii in 1847 by a French biologist but a catalog published in 1868 considered it to be the same species as A. gigas. That second opinion was widely accepted and, since then, no scientist has questioned that view.

But Stewart has had doctoral students studying the conservation of Arapaima in both Brazil and Guyana. For those studies, it was important to be clear about the taxonomy of the fishes being studied in each country. In an effort to determine if they were really all one species, Stewart began to review taxonomic literature from the early 1800s, including the monograph that was published the year Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as the seventh president of the United States.

"What is remarkable is that this fish was not re-discovered swimming in the Amazon but, rather, on the pages of a rare monograph from 1829 that described its anatomy in great detail," Stewart said.

The fish described in the monograph had been collected in the Brazilian Amazon about 1819 and carried to Munich, Germany, as a dried skeleton. There the Swiss biologist Louis Agassiz, who was just beginning his career and later became a professor of zoology at Harvard University, supervised a technical illustrator in drawing the complete skeleton in great detail. At that time, however, he applied the name Sudis gigas to the drawings. That rare skeleton was in a museum in Germany until World War II, when it was destroyed by a bomb dropped on the museum. "To this day, we do not know the precise locality where the fish was collected because the German scientist who collected it died before indicating where he found it, and nobody has found a second specimen," Stewart said. "So, all that exists to know the status of A. agassizii is the original drawings of its bones."

Stewart said those drawings reveal numerous distinctive features that leave little doubt it should be considered a valid species. Those features include details related to the fish's teeth, eyes and fins.

The previously recognized Arapaima species is known by the common names "pirarucu" in Portuguese and "paiche" in Spanish. Because they rise to the surface to breathe every 5 to 15 minutes, they are easy to locate and fishermen harpoon them to sell their valuable meat or to feed their families. That combination of high value and vulnerability has led to widespread depletion of their populations and they are now listed as endangered.

The mystery surrounding the recently rediscovered fish's current status is not surprising, Stewart said, because there are still vast areas of Amazon basin where no specimens of Arapaima have been collected for study.

He expects the diversity of the genus to increase further with additional studies. Two more previously described species -- A. arapaima from Guyana and A. mapae from northeastern Brazil but outside the Amazon basin -- also should be recognized as valid. He is working on redescriptions of those species. He also has another paper due to be published soon that describes a new species of Arapaima from the central Amazon. That latter paper will bring the total number of Arapaima species to five. He anticipates that more species could be discovered as biologists working in South America begin to make new collections in unstudied areas.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, via Newswise.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. Donald J. Stewart. Re-description of Arapaima agassizii (Valenciennes), a Rare Fish from Brazil (Osteoglossomorpha: Osteoglossidae). Copeia, March 2013, Vol. 2013, No. 1, pp. 38-51 [link]

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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Biden to attend service for slain MIT police officer

Vice President Joe Biden (Rick OsentoskiAP)Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, will travel to Cambridge, Mass., on Wednesday to attend the memorial service for an MIT police officer allegedly killed by the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

A White House official said the Bidens will attend the ceremony for Sean Collier, 26.

The noon event will be open to the MIT community and law-enforcement officers from around the country, the institution announced. It is expected to attract 10,000 attendees.

In his remarks after the manhunt for the suspects ended on Friday, Obama publicly sent prayers to Collier's family.

"He was just 26 years old. And as his family has said, he died bravely in the line of duty, doing what he committed his life to doing?serving and protecting others. So we're grateful to him," the president said.


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Wall St dips as McDonald's, GE extend losses on earnings

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower on Monday, as earnings from Caterpillar, Halliburton and other major companies pointed to more volatile trading ahead.

General Electric , down 2.1 percent to $21.29 and McDonald's Corp , off 1.2 percent to $98.66, extended losses from Friday after posting lackluster earnings. Both stocks were declining for the fourth straight day.

Wall Street is coming off a week of extreme volatility, with the CBOE Volatility index <.vix> jumping 24 percent, the biggest weekly gain for the so-called fear index this year. The index was up 2.5 percent on Monday.

The swings were largely driven by weak corporate earnings and signs of slowing growth from China, which led to a steep drop in commodity prices. The week's decline fueled talk that the market's long anticipated pullback had arrived, though the S&P remains up nearly 9 percent on the year.

Caterpillar reported disappointing quarterly results and cut its 2013 profit forecast. Its stock advanced 0.6 percent to $80.92 after bullish comments from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman.

Halliburton , the oil field services company, rose 2.6 percent to $38.19 after the company posted quarterly results and said it is in talks to settle private claims against it in a trial.

"This is all going to be very much a direction driven by earnings," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"The majors are only off 3 to 4 percent from the high but we have done that fairly efficiently and if earnings are any indication, there is going to be more choppy action ahead."

Earnings also due on Monday included Texas Instruments and Netflix Inc after the market's close. For the week, 168 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report earnings.

With 104 S&P 500 components having reported through Friday, 67.3 percent of companies have topped profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. Analysts expect earnings growth of 2.1 percent this quarter, up from expectations of 1.5 percent at the start of the month.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 48.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to 14,498.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index shed 3.90 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,551.35. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 3.48 points, or 0.11 percent, to 3,202.58.

Investors will be looking to the S&P 500's 50-day moving average of 1,544.74, which could serve as a level of market support. The index closed under that level for the first time this year on Thursday but rebounded above it on Friday.

The National Association of Realtors said existing-home sales edged down 0.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million units. Economists polled by Reuters had expected home resales to rise to a 5.01 million-unit rate.

Power-One Inc soared 56.4 percent to $6.32 in after ABB agreed to buy the company for about $1 billion.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)


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Monday, April 22, 2013

Exclusive: China seeks to lock iron ore importers into trading platform

By Ruby Lian and David Stanway

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will refuse to grant new licenses to iron ore importers unless they participate in a domestic trading platform, in a fresh move by the world's biggest iron ore consumer to wrestle pricing power away from global miners.

China, which buys around two-thirds of the world's 1-billion-tonne plus sea-borne iron ore, has been attempting to regain the upper hand in pricing the steel making raw material since grudgingly accepting an industry-wide shift to spot pricing after four decades of a yearly-set price ending in 2010.

Under new rules, traders and steel mills seeking a new license to import will now have to trade at least 551,155 tons of iron ore on the platform set up by the China Beijing International Mining Exchange (CBMX), a document on the regulations obtained by Reuters showed. Only Chinese firms are eligible for import licenses.

China's first physical iron ore trading platform competes with the globalORE platform in Singapore, but the new rules, in a country with tens of thousands of iron ore traders, could give CBMX more business and boost liquidity.

Global miners BHP , Vale and Rio Tinto and Chinese steelmakers including Baoshan Iron and Steel are members of both platforms.

China has long suspected that iron ore pricing is manipulated by some miners and traders and wanted a platform that it deems more transparent, although miners may be wary of Beijing gaining control if more business flows to the exchange, particularly after Chinese pressure over ore price levels.

Last month, China's top economic planning agency accused the world's top three miners and some traders of manipulating the market to push up prices that soared more than 80 percent to near $160 a 1.1 ton <.io62-cni> in February from three-year lows in September.

"Some traders have already been verbally informed of this new rule and they are keen to increase trade on the platform to get the import qualification," said an industry source familiar with the matter.

CBMX launched the physical trading platform, together with its own iron ore pricing index, on May 8, 2012, hoping to boost its price-setting influence in its biggest commodity import by volume.

The new requirements were drawn up by the China Iron and Steel Association and the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, a unit that helps regulate iron ore trade on behalf of the Ministry of Commerce of China, industry sources said.

Officials at the two organizations could not immediately be reached for comment.

A CBMX official declined to comment.

Firms applying for new licenses will have to show that they have traded a minimum of 551,155 tons of iron ore with CBMX since it was launched, according to the list of requirements in the document distributed to traders.

They also stipulate that companies should have imported more than 1 million tonnes last year.

Steel mills applying for a license are also required to have an annual output of more than 1 million tonnes of crude steel and steel making facilities that meet state environmental requirements, according to the document.

Importers already holding a license would not be affected by the new regulations, officials at two state-owned Chinese traders said.


Since the iron ore market moved to daily pricing, a battle between pricing platforms and exchanges has been underway to become the benchmark for the world's second-largest commodity market after oil.

Attracting the highest volume of trade is key to winning the benchmark battle. The CBMX has moved ahead of globalORE to date in 2013 in terms of the volume of iron ore traded.

The CBMX has hosted 5.92 million tonnes of trade in 2013 as of April 12, according to data from the exchange. globalORE has seen only about 1.9 million tonnes this year, according to industry sources.

That is a reversal from last year, when the CBMX saw 7 million tonnes traded of the 93 million tonnes of iron ore it put on offer in 2012. globalORE traded a total of 9.62 million tonnes of iron ore since it was launched on May 30, 2012.

Traders said there was a risk the new requirements might not operate as designed, noting that it was possible to get around them by conducting "paper only" transactions on the exchange with no actual delivery.

"The exchange does not need undertake responsibility for participants to eventually settle the physical delivery, that means they can default after they make the deal on the platform," said a trader in Shanghai.

Beijing has long tried to impose more control on how iron ore trading is regulated, seeking big reductions in the number of licensed traders and trying to crack down on speculative reselling. But smaller players in the industry have often found ways around the regulations.

The list of companies with import licenses is not made public, but about 120 companies are eligible, according to industry sources.

Iron ore buyers who do not have a license would have to go through importers with a permit to purchase iron ore on their behalf on a commission basis.

(Additional reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Ed Davies and Simon Webb)


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The unfolding of a 5-day manhunt for bomb suspects

Esta foto del viernes 19 de abril de 2013, distribuida por la polic?a estatal de Massachusetts muestra a Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, de 19 a?os, presunto autor de los atentados del Marat?n de Boston, oculto dentro de una lancha, mientras las autoridades lo buscaban en Watertown. Herido y sangrante, Tsarnaev fue retirado de la embarcaci?n, aparcada en el traspatio de una vivienda en el ?rea metropolitana de Boston (AP Foto/Polic?a Estatal de Massachusetts)

Esta foto del viernes 19 de abril de 2013, distribuida por la polic?a estatal de Massachusetts muestra a Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, de 19 a?os, presunto autor de los atentados del Marat?n de Boston, oculto dentro de una lancha, mientras las autoridades lo buscaban en Watertown. Herido y sangrante, Tsarnaev fue retirado de la embarcaci?n, aparcada en el traspatio de una vivienda en el ?rea metropolitana de Boston (AP Foto/Polic?a Estatal de Massachusetts)

People, including Barbara J. Cole, center, chant during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Watertown, Mass. Suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is hospitalized in serious condition with unspecified injuries after he was captured in an all day manhunt the day before. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

People gather on a field during a vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Watertown, Mass. Suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is hospitalized in serious condition with unspecified injuries after he was captured in an all day manhunt the day before. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

In this Friday, April 19, 2013 photo obtained by The Associated Press and authenticated by a member of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, ATF and FBI agents check suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for explosives and also give him medical attention after he was apprehended in Watertown, Mass., at the end of a tense day that began with his older brother, Tamerlan, dying in a getaway attempt. Tsarnaev lay hospitalized in serious condition under heavy guard Saturday as investigators continue piecing together the who and why of the two brothers involved in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings. (AP Photo)

The twin explosions that ripped through the crowd near the finish line of the Boston Marathon triggered a massive manhunt that paralyzed a city. Two bombs set off about ten seconds and 100 yards apart signaled the end of one race and the start of another ? to identify and find those responsible. This is how that race unfolded.



? Just before 3 p.m., an explosion shatters the cheers on Boylston Street near the finish line of one of Boston's largest and most cherished events. More than 17,000 runners already had crossed the finish line, but thousands more still were headed for the site of the bombing. Ten seconds later, a second explosion shatters windows and bodies. Sirens and screams erupt as rescuers scramble and the crowd panics.

"They just started bringing people in with no limbs," runner Tim Davey of Richmond, Va., said of his view from inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners.

? The blasts killed three people ? 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston; 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford; and 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, a Boston University graduate student from China ? and injured more than 180 others, but it would be hours before the chaos cleared enough to give authorities a true sense of the casualties. Or even where the bombs had been hidden. If they had been hidden.

? A citywide shutdown that will become nearly complete by the end of the week begins by early evening. A no-fly zone is created over the bombing sites, major sporting events are canceled, people are urged to stay indoors, SWAT team members with machine guns patrol hospitals. And the world takes notice, beefing up security at nuclear plants, public transit systems and anywhere crowds gather.

? Is it terrorism? Americans are eager for answers, but when President Barack Obama addresses the nation three hours after the explosion, he stops short of that. "We will find out who did this. We'll find out why they did this," Obama said in his brief statement. "Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice."

? Knowing that thousands of smartphones and cameras were in the crowd, by nightfall authorities officially tap the power of crowd sourcing and put out the call for pictures, videos and tips.



? The day begins with a city ? and a nation ? on edge and without answers. No suspects. No motives. No claims of responsibility. An apartment in nearby Revere was searched overnight, but no details emerge. Copley Plaza ? the typically bustling site of the bombings ? was blocked to vehicles and pedestrians.

? By noon, Obama inches the nation forward but only barely. Calling the bombings "a heinous and cowardly act," he says they are being investigated as an act of terrorism, but authorities still don't know who is responsible. Later in the day, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the bombings don't appear to be part of a large plot, but security on public transit nationwide ? and around the world ? remains high.

? A picture of the bombs begins to emerge. Based on debris at the site, investigators determine the bombs were crudely fashioned from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails and ball bearings. And they were hidden in black backpacks and left on the ground.

? Pictures of the victims emerge, too. Photos flood social media. There is 8-year-old Martin Richard, smiling and holding a sign that calls for peace and reads, "No more hurting people." And there is 27-year-old Jeff Bauman Jr., being pushed in a wheelchair from the scene of the explosions, bloodied with both legs blown off below the knees.

? It would be another two days before pictures of the suspects, 19-year-old Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and his brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, would emerge. But already the younger of the two appears nervous. The owner of an auto body shop near the brothers' Cambridge home later recalled a visit from Dzhokhar on Tuesday.

Gilberto Junior said the usually easygoing teen often stopped by to talk cars and soccer. But on Tuesday, he was biting his nails and trembling. The mechanic told Dzhokhar he hadn't had a chance to work on a Mercedes the teen had dropped off for bumper work. "I don't care. I don't care. I need the car right now," Junior says Dzhokhar told him.



? Investigators plow through thousands of tips, scour the rooftops and roads around the blast site, and use sophisticated software to sift through mountains of images and video for patterns or unusual behavior. Obama signs an emergency declaration to send federal aid to Massachusetts.

? Amid conflicting ? and ultimately false ? reports of a break in the case, investigators discover department store surveillance footage shot near the site of the bombs that shows a man dropping off a bag believed to contain one of the bombs. But officials say they still don't know the man's name.

? Boston remains under a heavy security presence, with police officers stationed on street corners across the city. National Guardsmen have set up tents on the Boston Common and stationed tactical vehicles.



? Obama and other dignitaries attend an interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. "You will run again!" Obama tells the city.

? Using facial recognition technology and a painstaking frame-by-frame search, investigators have narrowed their search to images of two young men, Suspect No. 1 and Suspect No. 2. But officials still don't know who they are. And as of 1 p.m., they won't publicly describe them.

? At 5:10 p.m., investigators reveal the photos and video of the two men, a tactic intended to apply pressure in hopes the men will be identified or reveal themselves. But it comes with risk. The men could reveal themselves by lashing out with more violence. Within moments, the images trigger a flood of responses that overwhelm the FBI's website.

"We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous," FBI Agent Richard DesLauriers said.

? About five hours later, something happens. It's not clear what, but something snaps and the city of Boston seems to spin violently out of control for nearly 24 hours.

? At 10:20 p.m., shots are heard on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, across the Charles River from Boston in Cambridge. Ten minutes later, a 26-year-old MIT campus police officer, Sean Collier, is found shot multiple times in his car and pronounced dead.

? Shortly after, two armed men carjack a Mercedes SUV in Cambridge. They hold the driver for half an hour, then release him unharmed. That man runs into a gas station and calls police. Whatever the carjackers had told him during his time with them convinces police they are dealing with the bombing suspects.

? The search for the Mercedes leads to a chase that ends in Watertown. Residents there describe war zone-like scenes, with the suspects hurling explosive devices from the car and exchanging gunfire with police. The men were prepared. They had collected pipe bombs, grenades and improvised explosive devices, police say. A transit police officer, 33-year-old Richard Donohue, is shot and critically wounded.

? In the course of the gunfire, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev is shot. His brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, escapes in a stolen vehicle, running over his wounded brother as he flees, according to police. In his wake are 200 spent shells. Tamerlan Tsarnaev dies shortly after at a Boston hospital from multiple gunshot wounds and a possible blast injury. Meanwhile, at some point his brother abandons his car and flees on foot.



? Gunshots and explosions are heard in Watertown around 1 a.m. Police SWAT teams, sharpshooters and FBI agents descend on an area stretching from Watertown to Cambridge, surrounding buildings. Police helicopters buzz overhead and armored vehicles rumble through the streets. Trains are searched. And by 4:30 a.m., residents of eastern Watertown are told to stay in their homes.

? An hour later, the lockdown is extended across Boston, affecting more than 1 million people. Open your door only for uniformed officers, they are told. Mass transit is shut down, including Amtrak trains to New York. Businesses are told not to open. It is a city paralyzed. Signs up and down the highways leading into Boston warn to avoid the city.

"We believe this man to be a terrorist," Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. "We believe this to be a man who's come here to kill people."

? Investigators begin a methodical, door-to-door sweep of Watertown. By midmorning, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth closes and evacuates its campus after confirming that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was registered there. Around midday, the suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, pleads on television: "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness."

? Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had somehow evaded an army. As night fell, authorities start scaling back the hunt. Mass transit is allowed to resume and people are told they can leave their homes.

? But just as that order is lifted, there is a break. A man in Watertown sees blood on a boat parked in a yard. When he pulls back the tarp, he sees a man covered in blood and calls police. When authorities arrive, they try to talk the suspect ? already weakened by a gunshot wound received some 20 hours earlier ? into getting out of the boat.

? He doesn't. Police say the 19-year-old suspect exchanges gunfire with law enforcement for an hour while holed up in the boat before being captured.

? Just before 9 p.m., Boston police take to Twitter: "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody."

? People pour into the streets. Church bells ring. American flags are waved. A city erupts again.


J.M. Hirsch tweets at

Associated Press


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London Marathon: Tributes to Boston, extra security

LONDON (AP) ? A defiant, festive mood prevailed Sunday as the London Marathon began on a glorious spring day despite concerns raised by the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon six days ago.

Thousands of runners offered tributes to those killed and injured in Boston. The race began after a moment of silence for the victims in Boston, and many here wore black armbands as a sign of solidarity.

"It means that runners are stronger than bombers," said Valerie Bloomfield, a 40-year-old participant from France.

London's is the first major international marathon since the double-bomb attack near the finish line in Boston, which left three people dead and more than 170 injured, including many who are still hospitalized. In addition, a policeman was killed during the search for the two suspected bombers. One suspect was killed during a shootout with police, while a second has been arrested.

Some 36,000 runners were expected to take part in the London race, which also draws tens of thousands of spectators. Police said they planned to add 40 percent more officers and extra surveillance as a precautionary measure.

Most runners in London said they weren't worried by the Boston bombings, and the impressive turnout of enthusiastic fans lining the routes showed the same spirit.

David Wilson, 45, said there was no question of canceling the marathon. He noted that Londoners had come back onto the streets the day after the lethal July 7, 2005, transit system bombings and weren't easily cowed.

"You can't not do anything, because otherwise you'd stay on the outs all the time," he said.

But Chris Denton, a 44-year-old engineer stretching his legs by the start line, acknowledged an undercurrent of anxiety. He'd asked that his family not come out to support him because of a possible copycat attack. "I left them at home," he said. "If only for my peace of mind."

Among the participants in London was Tomasz Hamerlak of Poland, who finished fourth in the men's wheelchair race and had competed in Boston last week. He said he was determined to race in London.

"It is terrible what happened in Boston, but we can't look back, we must look forward," an out-of-breath Hamerlak told The Associated Press moments after crossing the finish line. "The show must go on."

On Blackheath, the spacious green common area where the race begins, runners massaged one another's legs as loud pop music boomed on a sound system. A half-dozen police officers in reflective vests strolled around and chatted with the runners.?

Moments before the majority of runners set off on the grinding course, announcer Geoff Wightman used the loudspeakers to ask for silence. He described marathon running as a global sport that unites runners and supporters in every continent in a spirit of friendship.

"This week the world marathon family was shocked and saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon," he said as he asked the people gathered to "remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness."

As those gathered responded to his call, the only noise that could be heard was the buzz of helicopters and the beeping of a truck.

Security was plentiful but not intrusive near the finish line at the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace. Marathon staff, officials and media had their bags thoroughly checked, a process not deemed necessary at the event last year. Officials said this was in response to the Boston attack.

Shirley Gillard, a 63-year-old retiree sitting on a bench at the edge of the starting area, seemed pleased with her decision to come out and watch the race.?She described herself as the type of person who was always worried when spotting an unattended bag on public transport, but said people shouldn't change their habits because of what happened in Boston.

"That would be letting them win, the terrorists and lunatics," she said.

Marathon organizers plan to donate money to a Boston fund set up to help victims. They said they did not consider canceling the event, which is a highlight of the sporting calendar.

In a smaller event in Germany, some 15,000 runners were participating Sunday in the Hamburg Marathon. They wore armbands with the slogan "Run for Boston" as a mark of respect for the bombing victims.

Hamburg's top security official, Michael Neumann, has said that security "is adapted to the situation," without giving further details.

There was a brief security scare at a Hamburg subway station after the race started when a suspicious object was found. The station, which isn't on the race route, was closed while officials checked the object ? which turned out to be an empty cardboard box, news agency dpa reported.

There was no disruption to the marathon. Hamburg organizers have said that they know of only eight people who pulled out because of the Boston bombings.


AP writers Rob Harris and Steve Douglas in London and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


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Alleged next-gen iPad rear casing suggests mini-esque design and finish

Alleged nextgen iPad rear casing suggests miniesque design and finish

We've seen a possible case, what could be the front portion of Apple's next iPad and this time around, Tactus has got its hands on the other half, the rear casing. Unfortunately, it's the not-so-interesting view, but we can still make out the space for the hole for the camera lens, sharper corners and the same dark blue finish we saw on both the fifth iteration of the iPhone and the iPad Mini. Tactus reckons it'll hold onto the original iPad's 9.7-inch display, but surround it with a thinner bezel. As for the rest of the specs that will eventually reside inside the redesigned shell, well, we'll have to wait for the official reveal from Apple for the full story.

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Via: Apple Insider

Source: Tactus


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Fans sink into Cruise's 'Oblivion' in $38.2M debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Movie fans slipped into "Oblivion" as the Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller led Hollywood with a $38.2 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That domestic haul comes on top of $33.7 million "Oblivion" added in overseas markets, where the film began rolling out a week earlier. "Oblivion" raised its overseas total to $112 million and its worldwide receipts to $150.2 million.

Though many people Friday were caught up in coverage of the manhunt for the suspect in the Boston Marathon explosions, it seems to have had little effect on how the film fared.

"Oblivion" took in $13.3 million on opening day Friday and $14.9 million on Saturday. That 12 percent increase is not unusual for big new releases, which typically do better business on Saturday than Friday.

While Boston was on lockdown much of Friday, that market only accounts for about 1 percent of the nationwide box office, said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal, which released "Oblivion." The manhunt mainly affected matinee business, with theaters reopening Friday night, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was taken into custody.

"Once the guy was arrested, I think people got back into their regular routine," Rocco said.

The previous weekend's top film, the Warner Bros. baseball drama "42," held up well, slipping to second-place with $18 million in its second weekend. The Jackie Robinson biography starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford raised its domestic total to $54.1 million and is on its way to the $100 million mark, said Dan Fellman, Warner's head of distribution.

Overseas, Paramount's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" got a lift with $40 million, most of it coming from a $33 million debut in China. The action sequel has topped $200 million internationally and $300 million worldwide.

"Oblivion" came in a bit higher than industry expectations. But despite its strong opening, Hollywood's 2013 revenue funk continued, with overall domestic receipts at $109 million, down 19.4 percent from the same weekend last year, according to box-office tracker

A year ago, two new romances ? the comedy "Think Like a Man" and the drama "The Lucky One" ? combined for $56 million that weekend, while the blockbuster "The Hunger Games" remained strong with nearly $15 million.

"Even Tom Cruise was unable to beat the strength of two really strong newcomers that were devoid of stars anywhere near in his league," said analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "That tells you the difference between last year and this year. Even when we have a good weekend like this in 2013, generally these weekends, they pale by comparison to what happened last year."

Domestic revenues in 2013 total $2.76 billion, down 11.2 percent from where business was at last year, when Hollywood took in record cash.

Business slumped a bit in summer 2012 with some high-profile duds, so studios have a shot at gaining ground over last year with this season's upcoming blockbusters, which include "Iron Man 3," ''Star Trek Into Darkness," ''The Hangover Part III" and "Man of Steel."

Still, the gap almost certainly will continue to rise in the early part of the summer season.

Disney's Marvel Studios sequel "Iron Man 3" is expected to open with a whopping $125 million-plus domestically over the first weekend in May, Dergarabedian said. But that would fall far short of the record-breaking $207.4 million debut for the Marvel ensemble smash "The Avengers" over the same weekend last year.

Even so, Cruise's "Oblivion" provides a solid action lead-in to summer. The film stars Cruise as a repairman fixing machines in the wastelands of Earth after an alien attack.

Despite upheavals and odd behavior in Cruise's personal life in the last six or seven years, he remains one of Hollywood's surest box-office draws. Universal reported that in exit polls, fans cited Cruise as the No. 1 reason they saw the film.

"He's a global star," Rocco said. "People love Tom Cruise. If you put him in the right vehicle, they love him even better."

In narrower release, Rob Zombie's latest horror tale "The Lords of Salem" flopped with $622,000 in 355 theaters, for a dismal average of $1,752 a cinema. That compared to an average of $10,085 in 3,783 theaters for "Oblivion."

The low-budget hip-hop drama "Filly Brown" opened solidly with $1.4 million in 188 theaters, for an average of $7,250. The film stars Gina Rodriguez and the late Jenni Rivera in the story of a young talent with a shot at stardom on Los Angeles' hip-hop scene.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Oblivion," $38.2 million ($33.7 million international).

2. "42," $18 million.

3. "The Croods," $9.5 million ($23.4 million international).

4. "Scary Movie 5," $6.3 million ($3.5 million international).

5. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," $5.8 million ($40 million international).

6. "The Place Beyond the Pines," $4.7 million.

7. "Olympus Has Fallen," $4.5 million ($7.8 million international).

8. "Evil Dead," $4.1 million ($2.3 million international).

9. "Jurassic Park" in 3-D, $4 million ($420,000 international).

10. "Oz the Great and Powerful," $3 million ($1.5 million international).


Estimated weekend ticket sales at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:

1. "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," $40 million.

2. "Oblivion," $33.7 million.

3. "The Croods," $23.4 million.

4. "Olympus Has Fallen," $7.8 million.

5. "Les Profs," $5.8 million.

6. "Scary Movie 5," $3.5 million.

7. "Mama," $2.9 million.

8. "Les Gamins," $2.7 million.

9 (tie). "Detective Conan Private Eye," $2.3 million.

9 (tie). "Evil Dead," $2.3 million.




Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Richard III may have gone through painful medical treatments to 'cure' his scoliosis

Apr. 19, 2013 ? Richard III may have undergone painful medical treatments for his spinal curvature, according to research from a University of Leicester researcher.

Dr Mary Ann Lund, of the University's School of English, has carried out research into the kinds of scoliosis treatments available at the time Richard III was alive.

The remains of Richard III discovered by University of Leicester archaeologists revealed that the King suffered from severe scoliosis, which he probably developed in early adolescence.

Scoliosis -- a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine -- can be a very painful condition to live with.

But some of the treatments practised in the late medieval period would have themselves caused sufferers a lot of anguish.

Among the "cures" practised was traction -- the same principle on which "the Rack" worked as an instrument of torture.

The patient would be tied under the armpits and round the legs. The ropes were then pulled at either end, often on a wooden roller, to stretch the patient's spine.

The treatment would probably have only been available to those who could afford it.

Richard III would certainly have been able to afford the highest levels of medical care available -- and his physicians would have been well aware of the standard "traction" methods for treating the condition.

Dr Lund charted the influence of Greek philosopher Hippocrates -- who developed early prototype methods of dealing with spinal disorders -- to the 11th century Persian polymath Avicenna.

Avicenna's treatises on medicine and philosophy were highly regarded in Medieval Europe. His theories on using traction in scoliosis treatment would have been widely read and practised by doctors in Richard III's lifetime.

Avicenna also advocated the massage techniques practised in Turkish baths, and herbal applications, as treatments for back disorders. In the longer term, patients might wear a long piece of wood or metal in an attempt to straighten their back.

Dr Lund said: "Scoliosis is a painful illness, and Richard would have been in quite a lot of pain on a daily basis. These methods could also have been very painful -- but people would have expected treatments to be unpleasant.

"Medical practices could exacerbate conditions rather than improving them. These treatments would have only been open to people in the upper echelons. Richard would have probably received these treatments because he was a member of the nobility."

Later methods of treatment for scoliosis included the orthosis, which was developed by French physician Ambroise Par? in the late 16th century.

This was a tightly fitting metal corset for treating scoliosis made by an armourer, which would have been worn by patients to brace the skeleton in an attempt to correct the curvature of the spine.

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