Monday, December 24, 2012

Yoga for Health and Fitness | Blog Big Time if walking tops the lists of exercises, Yoga is a comprehensive and traditional way to keep your mind and body in a healthy state and shape. We should be really proud as Indians as our aesthetic Hindu spiritual practice has now taken over the generations of different countries all across the world. In yoga, the significant part includes basic & deep meditation techniques, controlled breathing and practice of specific bodily postures ? all focused on relaxation, holistic healing and conventional methods of being fit. Before taking the modern turn and spreading across the world as a popular form of overall well-being, yoga has had a history that defines itself uniquely as an important discipline followed since several centuries in India.

It is not only for the youth, but also for people in the age range of teenage, elderly and old. Specific ailments have relevant breath control techniques and postures that are aimed towards slow and steady healing for the physically and psychologically troubled. When your days in life are down, yoga seems to be more effective than therapies, counselling and medication. All the postures in yoga make the muscles and movements of the body completely flexible and build strength and stamina if practiced regularly. Belief is the most important factor when you decide to take up yoga, because it is a transcendent science that is up-close-personal. body parts have specific needs and hence, you have to use this science according to the instructions of a professional guide to avoid any type of issues. It gives a whole mind-body balance and even with simple ?Asanas?, you can develop and improve your fitness levels. People who are inspired to live in perfect health have to try yoga and experience its benefits like controlling & harnessing the mind and body. Yoga is the most powerful healing system, so the saying, ?Healthy mind, healthy body? is something that holds good here. Some of the advantages of practicing yoga for a short time itself may surprise you. However, it is important to have your goal in mind and divert your efforts in yoga towards achieving it. It is imperative to understand that regular practice is essential to turn the table of your life around in your favour?and this requires a lot of perseverance, time and determination. So go ahead, since it is more than how much you value it initially. Just unroll your yoga mat and go on every day through a journey that unfolds your inner self. Some of the helpful benefits of Yoga?are interesting to know:

  1. Teaches you all about discipline and that feel-good factor keeps you going
  2. Makes your body completely flexible and avoids sprains and aches
  3. Yoga helps relaxation of mind and body, and reduces the levels of stress to bring in a sense of peace and calmness
  4. It gives you physical and mental strength with various strength-building postures
  5. You tend to become more health conscious and will begin to watch your diet with healthier food and mindful eating
  6. Experience new and higher levels of confidence all by yourself. You can feel the difference when yoga gives you the confidence to achieve many of your goals
  7. A new perspective in life expands your thought patterns liberally and you can feel kindness, compassion, understand yourself & others. All of these make you a deeper individual relating to your inner spiritual self through the yoga philosophy
  8. The ill wills, petty disagreements, competition, jealousy and other negative emotions go under the root as you have liberated yourself with an open minded, broad and profoundly humane mind set
  9. More and more positivity hits you with every single day when yoga becomes a vital part of your life. You can build and maintain better relationships and relate with everyone in a much more meaningful way
  10. A mix of compassion, confidence, positivity, philosophical understanding, relating to spirituality, developing the thought of oneness, higher awareness of life and relationships ? all of it will eventually make you a real human, capable of building a strong network of confidents, friends and family

With yoga, you can reap unlimited benefits and grow from within with eloquent perceptions in life, which is the most valuable and worthiest thing that you can treasure eternally.


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SPECIAL REPORT | Stalking the Taliban in Afghan currency ...

Afghan currency traders await customers in this November 2011 file photo. REUTERS
The online news portal of TV5

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Haji Khairullah Barakzai is the ultimate Afghan success story: illiterate village boy makes a fortune thanks to a lifetime of hard work, unerring street smarts and God's favor.

But to the US Treasury Department, he is one of the biggest bankers to the Taliban, the architect of an underground network that converts opium grown in the poppy fields of his native southern Afghanistan into cash.

On June 29, the United States and United Nations slapped "terror finance? sanctions on Khairullah and his 25-year-old currency-exchange business, freezing his assets and imposing a travel ban. The move marked a new phase in an escalating but little known campaign to starve the insurgency of drug money ahead of a handover to Afghan forces in 2014.

A Treasury statement accused Khairullah of "donating money and providing financial services to the Taliban", which used his cash transfer service "in support of the Taliban's narcotics and terrorist operations".

Treasury's evidence is classified, but Afghan sources and Western officials familiar with Khairullah painted a portrait of a man with long-standing ties to the Taliban and the drug trade alongside significant legitimate businesses.

Khairullah's friends and associates describe an entirely different figure, a patriarchal pillar of the community who in the murky world of Afghan currency trading cannot always be expected to know the true identity of his customers.

"I am a businessman, and a businessman is like a ram. Anyone in authority can come and grab it by its neck and slaughter it," Khairullah told Reuters, in his first interview since the sanctions were imposed.

"My life has become hell. I have lost my credibility and reputation. I have been declared guilty without any verdict from a judge," he said. He was speaking by telephone from Quetta, the city in southwest Pakistan where he sought sanctuary after Washington named him as a key Taliban financier.

The showdown between Khairullah and his pursuers opens a rare window into another kind of war, where financial intelligence trumps firepower, and captured territory is measured in frozen accounts.

It is a war the West has not been winning. Milking money from the heroin trade, donors in the Gulf and extortion rackets on NATO contractors, the Taliban increased its income to $400 million in the last Afghan calendar year, according to UN estimates. About a quarter came from narcotics.


Since sanctioning Khairullah and his business partner Haji Abdul Sattar Barakzai, the US government has stepped up its campaign to disrupt the insurgents' revenue streams. Washington has hit militant groups, guerrilla commanders and other currency dealers with a slew of similar measures.

US officials acknowledge it is hard to rank the significance of any one of a core group of suspected Taliban money men with precision, but they believe Khairullah is integral to the movement's funding structure.

Proponents say squeezing the cash pipelines that pay for fighters and weapons is a smart way to pressure the Taliban while the vast majority of foreign combat troops is being withdrawn.

The approach could also be used to exert leverage over Taliban hardliners, if halting attempts to foster peace talks gain momentum. Tentative contacts between the United States and the Taliban suffered a setback in March when the two sides could not agree on a proposed prisoner swap. But the White House remains keen to pursue dialogue.

The hunt for Khairullah's presumed millions points to the sheer difficulty of choking Taliban funding channels.

Investigators who venture into the region's forbidding ecosystem of illicit commerce find that lines between legitimate trade and criminality often blur, hand-written ledgers are barely decipherable, and deceptively nondescript offices move mountains of cash.

"Everything is done on a phone call and a handshake," said one US official. "The record system or the paper trail that allow you to connect the dots is not as clear as the Western system."

In Kandahar's seven-storey money market, where turbaned dealers haggle over bricks of well-worn notes, Khairullah's colleagues leapt to the defense of a respected member of their age-old fraternity.

"When we went to his office, we only saw people changing money or drinking tea or eating sweets," said Haji Qandi Agha, a regal-looking trader who is the market's president. "There was no talk of the Taliban or heroin."

Agha gestured to a man with a close-cropped beard and embroidered skull cap who had just approached his counter.

"For example, this man is sending money," he said, after the customer produced a sheaf of grubby bills from his waistcoat. "What if the government or America captures him and says he's Taliban? Is it my crime?"

The man, counting with deft thumbs, did not look up.


Khairullah was born into a modest family in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, where he revealed his entrepreneurial streak as a boy by selling sweets from a handcart, according to two politicians who knew him.

Khairullah, now about 50, said he built his empire from humble beginnings, starting out by trading goods within Afghanistan and the region. Later, he invested in properties whose value soared exponentially after the Taliban was overthrown in 2001. He diversified into scrap metal and rice exporting in Pakistan and owns a freight company in Dubai.

In Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, Khairullah's reputation as a shrewd currency trader is leavened by his image as a philanthropist. Colleagues praised him for mobilizing relief for Pakistani earthquake survivors or Afghan villagers tormented by frostbite during harsh winters.

Above all, Khairullah is a king of the hawala trade. US officials believe his network of more than a dozen currency counters spans Afghanistan, Pakistan, Dubai and Iran.

The hawala trust-based money transfer system, which pre-dates the time of the Prophet Mohammed, is the banking system of choice in Afghanistan's cash-based economy.

Customers tend to be far happier entrusting their money to established hawala agents like Khairullah than a new crop of Western-style banks. A $900-million fraud at Kabul Bank, emblematic of the lack of ethics or controls in much of the formal sector, sharpened suspicions of the new Afghan financial elite.

"It is true that 35 to 40 years ago I had nothing," Khairullah said. "Maybe I couldn't even have raised 100,000 rupees ($1,000) back then. But God bestowed me with two eyes to see and a mind to think."

Current and former officials ascribe Khairullah's wealth to a different source: Afghanistan's burgeoning heroin trade.

"He is one of the biggest fish in the region," said General Khodaidad (who goes by one name), Afghanistan's counter-narcotics minister from 2007 to 2010.

A source in Pakistan's Anti-Narcotics Force also said Khairullah was suspected of involvement in trafficking. "He is rich and resourceful, therefore no one can touch him," he said.

In 2012, the farm-gate value of opium - the actual cut farmers receive from the trade - accounted for 4 percent of Afghan gross domestic product, or about $700 million, according to UN data. Afghanistan provides 90 percent of the global supply of heroin and other illegal opiates, which has an estimated annual street value of $68 billion.


The accusations against Khairullah date back to the austere era of Taliban rule in the late 1990s. Then, he mingled with a coterie of heroin exporters who thrived under the patronage of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the movement's enigmatic leader, according to two people from Kandahar familiar with the trade.

"He became close to the Taliban," said one of the sources. "He bought drugs and sold them and made lots of money."

The source added he had seen Khairullah visit Mullah Omar's compound in Kandahar city perhaps 20 times before the Taliban was toppled, forcing many of its commanders to flee to Quetta, where Khairullah maintains an office.

In the summer of 2000, the year before his ouster, Mullah Omar banned poppy, causing opium prices to skyrocket. That made fortunes for Khairullah and others who had amassed stockpiles, according to a member of Kandahar's provincial council.

Khairullah, who denies ever meeting Mullah Omar, said reports he was connected with the drug trade were concocted by his business rivals.

"I will be here five years from now, 10 years from now or 15 years from now," he said. "If they can prove their allegations against me with concrete evidence, then they can and should hang me for it."


For much of the West's 11-year campaign, the art of tracking sources of insurgent funding was a neglected discipline at the Kabul headquarters of ISAF, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

The US military, stretched in Iraq, resisted calls to pursue Afghan drug lords, fearing that "mission creep" into counter-narcotics would be a further drain on resources.

The role smuggling plays in sustaining the insurgency began to receive more attention in 2009 as part of a wider shake-up of the war effort under US President Barack Obama, who tripled the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

Investigators suspect Khairullah stands at the center of an "iron triangle" locking hawala dealers, heroin kingpins and militants into an increasingly profitable symbiosis.

Taliban commanders would collect opium from poppy growers, then hand it over at his shops in farming communities in return for instant payments, a Western official said.

"He would take opium and give you cash," he said.

Khairullah would then gather bulk quantities of opium in hidden storehouses to sell to traffickers for a lucrative margin, the official alleged.

U.S. officials say his hawala shops also served insurgents like a conventional bank, allowing Taliban leaders to make monthly payments to fighters, including their top commander in Helmand, a suspected major player in the heroin trade.

"As of 2010, Khairullah was a hawaladar, or hawala operator, for Taliban senior leadership and provided financial assistance to the Taliban," the Treasury statement said.

Khairullah denies the allegations. "I am an illiterate man," he said. "I have never been part of a political organization either in Afghanistan or in Pakistan. My sole concern has been my business."

Like other hawaladars, he said he could not be expected to always know who his clients were. "It is not written on someone's forehead that he is a member of the Taliban," he said.

Esmatullah Helmand, a Khairullah relative who runs his Kabul branch, said far from being in cahoots with the insurgents, his boss had feared being attacked for moving money on behalf of trucking companies supplying ISAF.

"When we saw this thing on the news - that we were blacklisted - we were shocked," Esmatullah said.


Any hope Khairullah may have had of keeping the sanctions quiet was shattered when Afghan television broadcast reports of his designation on the US Treasury and UN websites.

Like Western banks, hawala dealers run highly leveraged businesses with paper assets many times larger than the cash they hold. Shocks can tip them into bankruptcy.

Khairullah had faced an earlier crunch in 2010 after several of his partners incurred huge losses. The sanctions triggered a new crisis as hundreds of his remaining customers scrambled to retrieve their funds.

"People who would deposit their money with me for years are now standing outside my door," Khairullah said.

Within days of his designation by the US Treasury, Khairullah had driven 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Kandahar to Quetta, an ISAF official said, dodging a UN travel ban that should have barred him from entering Pakistan.

At the same time, he began working his phones. Haji Najeebullah Akhtary, president of Kabul's Sarai Shahzada currency market, was among the first to receive a call.

"Immediately, he called me and said he was going to meet President Karzai," Akhtary said.

Approaching the president would have been a natural step. Karzai's family hails from Kandahar, and the president has tended to sympathize with community leaders nursing grievances against ISAF.

Shah Wali Karzai, one of the president's brothers and a prominent Kandahari, said he had hosted Khairullah's partner Sattar at a meeting aimed at settling a land dispute in February, before the pair were sanctioned.

Khairullah's hopes of winning a similar audience with the president came to nothing. Instead, Karzai ordered security chiefs to investigate him, a presidential spokesman spokesman said.

Undeterred, Khairullah sent another relative to Kabul to lobby Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, the intelligence agency, an NDS official said.

The NDS offered to work with the family to investigate the US claims and inform Washington if they were unfounded, but the relative declined, the official added.

Mullah Sayed Mohammed Akhund, a lawmaker from Kandahar, also fielded frantic calls from his long-time friend.

"I guarantee that he hasn't paid even one penny to the Taliban," Akhund said. "He has lost his way and he doesn't know what to do."


As Khairullah called his contacts, the Afghan financial intelligence unit, FinTRACA, moved to freeze his assets.

Although hawala dealers can shift large sums purely by cooperating with fellow hawaladars, big players also rely on the formal banking system to help reconcile elaborate cross-border transactions that can involve millions of dollars.

When the blocking orders arrived at Afghanistan's commercial banks, the lenders told FinTRACA that Khairullah's accounts only held the equivalent of $20,000 - a fraction of the sums he is believed to have been moving.

FinTRACA did not provide the names of the banks.

"A couple of months prior to the sanctions, he had stopped transferring money via these accounts," said Mohammad Mustafa Massoudi, FinTRACA director-general. "He must have had some tip-off, some knowledge that it was coming."

Nevertheless, Khairullah said the sanctions had forced him to auction property to raise cash. A real estate agent in Kandahar said an agitated-looking Khairullah had visited him in August to try to cut a quick deal to sell 24 plots in a new development on the edge of the city for $360,000.

"His face told me he was very worried," the agent said.

As Afghan officials pondered the whereabouts of Khairullah's elusive hoard, Luke Bronin, the US deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing, boarded a plane for the Pakistani commercial capital of Karachi in early September.

US officials say they consulted closely with Pakistan before sanctioning Khairullah, Sattar and HKHS, their hawala company, mindful of long-standing Pakistani resentment of pressure to crack down on the Taliban.

Bronin hammered home the importance of putting the two men out of business in two days of meetings with financial and security officials in Karachi and Islamabad.

"They have been designated not only by the US but also by the United Nations,?

Bronin told Reuters. "So we have every expectation that Pakistan will take the necessary steps to shut them down."

Pakistan's central bank said it routinely implements U.N. freeze orders, but does not divulge details.

In Quetta, Khairullah appears to operate unimpeded, working from an unmarked first-floor office guarded by a metal door opposite a motorbike repair shop. Western officials marvel at his continued ability to raise six-figure dollar sums in cash.

Fuming at his adversaries from his Quetta headquarters, Khairullah seems anxious as well as angry. A fellow hawala merchant, Haji Mohammed Qasim, was arrested by Afghan and US forces in Kandahar in mid-September.

The US Treasury has since accused Qasim of transferring millions of dollars on behalf of the Taliban and hit him with sanctions. Perturbed dealers in Kandahar say they do not even know where he is being held.


Haji Agha Jan, another currency trader, said his business had collapsed after ISAF detained him for 25 days last year to interrogate him over his client list. "People are afraid that the Americans will arrest me again," he said, chewing green tobacco in his empty shop.

Resentment of the US sanctions in Kandahar's money bazaar is echoed by the wider business community In Kabul.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the country's leading business lobby, has been sharply critical of US authorities for publicly naming suspected Taliban supporters without submitting evidence to Afghan courts.

"They are destroying the image of individuals and businesses," said Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, the Chamber president. "In other countries, nobody is allowed to do that."

On a recent afternoon in the city's currency market, no customers called at shop 237, Khairullah's counter. A storefront sign emblazoned with his name had been effaced with blue paint. Only a Koranic inscription above the door had been left untouched. It read: "And God is the Best of Providers."

"The Americans and the United Nations have persecuted me," Khairullah said. "They will have to compensate me for my losses."




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Utah defends its hands-off health insurance exchange plan | The ...

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Governor Gary Herbert on Dec. 12, 2012 as he releases his budget recommendations at Granite Technical Institute in Salt Lake City.

Utah expected its federal high-risk pool ? subsidized health coverage for the sick and uninsurable ? to be an easy sell.

But it proved easier than state officials ever imagined.


Examining exchange plans

In letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week, several advocacy groups complained about the lack of clarity and transparency surrounding Utah?s plans for Avenue H. Among them: a physicians group, federally certified community health clinics, AARP Utah, Voices for Utah Children and the Utah Health Policy Project.

The Salt Lake Tribune obtained parts of Utah?s exchange blueprint through a records request. They make promises, say advocates, but don?t say how the state will live up to them.

?There?s so much in there that?s theoretical,? said Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project. ?If I were the feds, I would agree to a federally facilitated exchange or give Utah conditional approval subject to our meeting certain requirements and deadlines.?

See the embedded documents for details of Utah?s blueprint.

Links to other states? plans:

New York

New Mexico

Washington state


That?s because hospitals, looking to get paid for treating uninsured patients, did the heavy lifting. They filled out and submitted papers on behalf of patients and, in some cases, paid their monthly premiums, no strings attached.

"People who have a financial interest in making things work will find a way to do it, and do it quickly," said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert?s health adviser, Norm Thurston, citing the experience as proof that Utah?s hands-off, private-market approach to another Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement ? health exchanges ? will work.

Exchanges, online insurance marketplaces, are designed to be a "no wrong door" portal to health coverage where consumers can compare plans, see if they?re eligible for federal subsidies to purchase them, or enroll in low-income programs such as Medicaid.

"The idea is you can enter this door and walk out with coverage," said Lincoln Nehring, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children.

Utah already has a "shop" exchange for small businesses, Avenue H, which the governor has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare as good enough for Obamacare.

Herbert promises to open it to individuals and larger employers and to enforce new insurance price controls and consumer protections. But he argues the customer outreach and hand-holding required to help people navigate insurance options are a waste of money and unrealistic.

His proposal is being viewed as a test case of just how much leeway the Obama administration is willing to give states in running their own exchanges.

HHS will not comment on the negotiations, but Thurston said sticking points are mostly on small, technical issues.

story continues below

It?s the details that worry consumer advocates, who are pushing for greater clarity on Utah?s plan and fear Herbert?s vision for Avenue H falls woefully short.

Of top concern, they say, is Utah?s poor track record in linking eligible Utahns with health safety nets.

The state ranked 50th in enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and the Children?s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 2010, said Nehring, noting that 80 percent of the state?s 102,400 children are eligible for these programs.

"Utah families are in particular need," he said, "of the ACA?s vision of an exchange that will connect [them] with all their health coverage options."

Under the ACA, those shopping on an exchange must first be screened to see if they?re entitled to Medicaid or CHIP. They are also screened for federal tax credits to apply toward the purchase of their coverage.

States are supposed to hire navigators to help people pick plans best suited to their needs. The rules say they have to provide interpretive services, aides for people with disabilities, and publish "culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach" materials.

But Herbert?s advisers argue these services are widely available in the community.

Next Page >

Copyright 2012 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Sunday, December 23, 2012

President Obama and family diembark Air Force One in Hawaii for ...

PRESIDENT Barack Obama and his family leave Air Force One yesterday as they arrive in Honolulu for Christmas.

Obama, relaxed in shirt-sleeves, with wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, sped to their vacation house in the Hawaiian town of Kailua, leaving US budget headaches behind.

The property is on a five-mile surfing beach and there isn?t a ?fiscal cliff? in sight...

President Obama and daughter Malia

Yule need a break ... President Obama and daughter Malia


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VINTAGE: 10 Great Collector-Car Sales

Collector-car sales during 2012 were all about huge numbers and roaring values, as the six auctions of Monterey reached a record of more than $260 million, Barrett-Jackson?s Scottsdale auction topped $92 million and multi-million sales for rare and historic cars became a matter of course.

The year also showed the strength of a resurging passion for vehicles from the past, with growing sales results for collector cars at every level, from Ford to Ferrari.

Here are 10 of the most intriguing collector-car sales of 2012 (totals include bidder fees):

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster ? The top seller of the year, hitting $11.77 million at Gooding and Company?s Pebble Beach auction in August. A record for a Mercedes-Benz sold at auction, the magnificent Von Krieger Special carries with it a fascinating documented history of ownership by a German baroness.

The 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage was famously used as a camera car during the filming of Steve McQueen's film "Le Mans." (Photo: RM Auctions) 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage ? With its evocative heritage including service as a camera car during the filming of Steve McQueen?s Le Mans,, the GT40 was sold at RM Auction?s Monterey sale for a whopping $11 million, the highest price on record for an American car sold at auction.

1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing ? One of the highlights of the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction was the $2 million sale of this classic in pristine original condition with only 4,000 miles on its odometer. By far a record price for a steel-body (rather than alloy) Gullwing, but nobody doubted that it was worth it.

1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione Spyder ? In a year that saw soaring values for competition Ferraris, this rare beauty sold for $11.275 million at Gooding?s Pebble Beach auction. This was the second-highest sale for the Monterey events, of which rare Ferraris comprised six of the top 10 sales.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO ? Just to put Ferrari values in perspective, this all-original racecar that was built for Stirling Moss sold in a private sale this year for a mind-numbing $35 million, which is the highest price on record ever paid for an automobile.

1972 Porsche 917/10 Spyder ? Mecum Auctions broke into the top Monterey sales with the historic racecar that sold for a record $5.83 million.

The 1908 Simplex 50 Speedcar Roadster is an authentic antique sports car and the oldest Simplex known to survive. (Photo: Mecum Auctions) 1965 Shelby GT350 ? This one pushed all the buttons for a "barn-find" vintage car, selling in original as-found condition at Barrett-Jackson?s Scottsdale auction for a stunning $385,000.

1908 Simplex 50 Speedcar Roadster ? A real piece of ancient racing history, this terrific antique sold at Mecum in Monterey for $1.9 million.

The Milhous Collection ? The sweeping lifetime accumulation of the Milhouse brothers of collector cars, automobilia and other stuff, including a restored full-size merry-go-round, was auctioned off by RM in Boca Raton, Fla., for a total of $38.3 million.

1964 Ford Fairlane ? A highly charged Barrett-Jackson moment came during the Scottsdale auction with the flag-waving, standing-ovation charity sale of auction president Steve Davis? custom Fairlane for $1 million, all proceeds benefitting the Armed Forced Foundation. The bright-red car had already sold at the previous Las Vegas auction for $700,000 to benefit the foundation, only to be donated back for sale again by the buyer, Barrett-Jackson regular Ron Pratte of Chandler, Arizona.

Check out the photo gallery at Great Collector Cars.

Bob Golfen, Automotive Editor for, is a veteran auto writer based in Phoenix, Arizona, with a passion for collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. fans can email Bob Golfen at


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Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012 ? Santa Clarita foreclosure intel by REMAX's ...

Ah, foreclosures. ?They are all the buzz today and have been since we had started working in the real estate?representation?field back in 1998. In a healthy real estate market, there are about 1% of the homes that are being offered for sale that are Foreclosures ? the ?bank owned? type. ?Today?s current real estate market gives us about 20-30%. ?The rest of our market is over 55% short sales (pre foreclosures) and the rest are standard sales. (data compiled today, 12-22-2012, for purposes of this Blog Post on the SCV foreclosure blog)

Buying a foreclosure is going to be dependent on three things you, as a foreclosure buyer, need to be aware of.Foreclosure and Bank owned experts in SCV

  • Striking fast - While most banks are giving a certain amount of time before ?offer number one? is looked at ? typically 7-14 days ? It does not harm a buyer to get the latest listings and view them quick. ?There could be that one ?bank? or that one Asset Manager that needs to get their numbers higher that will take the first offer submitted, if only within hours of that listing hitting the market.
  • Consider Financing - banks love Cash. ?The next thing the REO selling world loves is 20% down payments or greater, those are conventional loans. ?Followed by the less than 20% down conventional loan, then onto FHA (3.5%) down, and VA (lower down yet). ?The reason why the bank loves cash is typically?appraisal?is never an issue with a buyer purchasing the home. ?The conventional appraiser is typically less stringent than the VA appraiser. ?For Foreclosure Sellers ? the less critical an appraiser is, the more money they will make.
  • Inspection?Time-frames?- sweetening the deal - Ask your real estate agent about constricting your inspection time frames on the first offering you are going to make. ?It may set your offer apart enough from the others to get yours accepted without a counter offer. ?You can reduce your inspection time frames form the ?contract allowed? 17 days to 7. ?This will show the?Foreclosure?entity that you are serious.

When approaching bank owned and foreclosure inventory, to set yourself apart and to get the attention of the bank (foreclosure owner), could mean the difference between you winning what you want and not. ?Ask your local Santa Clarita foreclosure expert what they think your best plan of attack should be. ?Don?t forget the value in the Game Plan with regard to real estate. ?It will pay in the long run when you invest 45 minutes up front with your Real estate agent in their offices, exploring the market, your desires and your agent?s working practices.

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Pre-Foreclosure Alert for Santa Clarita Valley CA, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Preforeclosure 512760688 19131 PLEASANTDALE ST CANYON COUNTRY 91351 CA SFR 1144 4 2.00 04/11/2013 $250,554.00 $331,772.00

Preforeclosure 512865815 23701 VIA LUPONA VALENCIA 91355 CA SFR 1893 4 3.00 04/12/2013 $430,129.00 $423,696.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Auction Alert for Santa Clarita Valley, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Auction 505355601 24738 BRACKEN LN NEWHALL 91381 CA SFR 1728 3 2.00 01/17/2013 $444,592.00 $426,595.00

Auction 23819137 25930 SARDINIA CT SANTA CLARITA 91355 CA CND 1786 2 2.00 01/07/2013 $424,975.00 $679,676.00

Auction 517386679 28044 ROBIN AVE SANTA CLARITA 91350 CA CND 834 2 1.00 01/17/2013 $110,142.00 $195,414.00

Auction 520308149 23463 DARCY LN SANTA CLARITA 91321 CA CND 2952 4 4.00 01/04/2013 $492,364.00 $711,805.00

Auction 906614b 26336 PEACOCK PL STEVENSON RANCH 91381 CA SFR 2932 5 3.00 01/07/2013 $637,498.00 $836,474.00

Auction 509608527 25832 EL GATO PL VALENCIA 91355 CA CND 864 2 2.00 01/09/2013 $238,054.00 $370,425.00

Auction 23787963 27809 SYCAMORE CREEK DR SANTA CLARITA 91354 CA SFR 1593 4 2.00 01/04/2013 $329,876.00 $314,151.00

Auction 23800747 26961 RAINBOW GLEN DR 729 SANTA CLARITA 91351 CA CND 1007 3 2.00 01/10/2013 $135,942.00 $378,992.00

Auction 500585952 26075 MAGDALENA DR VALENCIA 91355 CA CND 1128 3 2.00 12/31/2012 $275,360.00 $392,171.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Sold to Third Alert for Santa Clarita Valley CA, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Sold to 3rd 23801419 28911 LOTUSGARDEN DR SANTA CLARITA 91387 CA SFR 1572 3 2.00 12/20/2012 $294,080.00 $260,057.33

Sold to 3rd 687892b 25454 VIA DONA CHRISTA VALENCIA 91355 CA SFR 1927 5 3.00 12/20/2012 $214,059.00 $342,000.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Santa Clarita Bank Owned Real Estate Alert, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Bank Owned 1020975b 16305 LOST CANYON RD SANTA CLARITA 91387 CA SFR 5663 4 5.00 12/20/2012 $2,371,842.00 $720,000.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, All Santa Clarita Cities ? NOD filings ? Updated, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Preforeclosure 505585778 17433 DUSTY WILLOW CT CANYON COUNTRY 91387 CA CND 2478 4 3.00 04/13/2013 $381,632.00 $568,866.00

Preforeclosure 513071761 20401 JANZER CT SANTA CLARITA 91350 CA CND 2368 5 3.00 04/16/2013 $311,345.00 $355,279.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Sold to Third Alert for Santa Clarita Valley CA, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Sold to 3rd 503149024 18223 SOLEDAD CANYON RD 4 SANTA CLARITA 91387 CA CND 1098 2 3.00 12/21/2012 $140,667.00 $136,000.00

Your New Foreclosures alert, Paris911?s Auction Alert for Santa Clarita Valley, found a match.


Stage Radar ID Street City Zip State Type Sq Ft Beds Baths Sale Date Est. Value Est. Bid

Auction 513125739 25410 HUXLEY DR VALENCIA 91381 CA CND 1130 2 2.00 01/07/2013 $243,125.00 $408,422.00

Auction 509598382 24432 VALLE DEL ORO 202 SANTA CLARITA 91321 CA CND 889 2 2.00 02/11/2013 $144,462.00 $246,447.00

Auction 517480432 26938 BOULDER CREST DR VALENCIA 91381 CA SFR 3984 5 5.00 01/14/2013 $815,757.00 $1,007,005.00

Auction 507409752 18035 RIVER CIR 2 SANTA CLARITA 91387 CA CND 1127 2 3.00 01/07/2013 $145,864.00 $365,856.00

Auction 37421170 28492 FALCON CREST DR CANYON COUNTRY 91351 CA SFR 3882 5 4.00 01/07/2013 $473,500.00 $730,976.00

Auction 520405094 23615 DEL MONTE DR 346 VALENCIA 91355 CA CND 1030 2 2.00 01/07/2013 $260,023.00 $264,658.00


Santa Clarita Short Sale and Foreclosure intelligence by The Paris911 Team at REMAX of Valencia CA.? If it is distressed or being sold short ? we talk about it here. It is about the exacting real estate data as presented by one of the Top Real Estate teams that are populating the Social Networks including Google Plus.? We talk about the Bank Owned and Distressed properties issues that people want most.


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NimbleTV Lets You Stream Your Cable Anywhere Without a Box (In New York Only for Now)

If you pay for cable or satellite you should be able to watch it anywhere on any device. You paid for it! That's already possible by using a Slingbox, but NimbleTV wants to let you do it without a box. Disruption. More »


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Which foods can cause a hangover? | USA TODAY College

By Annabelle Breakey, Digital Vision

It?s not just alcohol that can give you a hangover headache.

When the Greatist team read this article in the Wall Street Journal announcing that certain types of chow can cause hangover-like headaches, we were scared.

Donning shades and avoiding loud noises after a night of New Year?s Eve toasting is one thing ? but paying the same price for putting away a plate of pigs in a blanket? Who knew it could happen?

Why It Matters

Besides alcohol, some of the edible culprits behind hangover headaches include cheese, processed meat, fish, and chocolate ? exactly the kind of fare we expect to find at holiday festivities.

The worst part is scientists aren?t even sure why these foods (or alcohol, for that matter) can cause headaches for some people. One possibility is that specific foods trigger a response in the immune system or the vascular system that leads to a headache. A potential offender is tyramine, a chemical found in foods including cheese, yogurt, liver, fish, chocolate, and of course, alcohol. Unfortunately, most of the research that cites tyramine as a potential cause of headaches is pretty old, so we can?t necessarily rely on it. More current research suggests that people taking certain types of antidepressants may be especially sensitive to foods containing tyramine.

Other possible causes of the non-alcohol hangover headache are nitrites, found in processed meat (read: mini hot dogs), and preservatives such as MSG, though it?s unclear if any of these substances can really cause headaches.

Is It Legit?

While researchers may be coming up with new theories to explain the food hangover, scientists have known for years that certain types of chow can trigger headaches and migraines. Of the more than 10 percent of adults who suffer from chronic migraines, about half already focus on changing their diet to avoid foods that can trigger a problem. Many health experts recommend keeping a food diary so it?s easier to see which foods are causing the problems (or if food is the issue at all).

And while people may have different headache triggers, scientists have discovered a few ways to prevent food hangovers. Sodium cromoglycate, for example, can help reduce allergic reactions; it comes in a pill that can be taken before eating the problem food.

If you think you might experience food hangover headaches, consider seeing an allergist or another health professional. And this New Year?s Eve, lay off the shots of cheese and chocolate.

Do you think certain foods might trigger headaches for you? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.



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The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of USA TODAY.


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Friday, December 21, 2012

Le Mars Daily Sentinel: Obituaries: Anna Letsche (12/20/12)

Anna Katrina Letsche, 27, of Le Mars, died Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, at Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City.

Anna Katrina Letsche first graced us all with her presence on March 15, 1985. Born to Vernon and Rita Letsche, of rural Marcus, she came home to older sisters Kristina and Sarah who greeted her with smiles and hugs. Anna was followed by Paul, Lara, and Karl, making the family complete.

Christ Lutheran Church in Remsen was her extended family and a very big part of her life from baptism through confirmation and she held every office within in the Lutheran Youth Fellowship program. Always ready to take on a Sunday School class and to be a part of the Christian Education Committee, her focus was on making sure others knew the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Anna graduated from Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn High School in 2003 where she was active in 4-H, played volleyball and softball, participated in track, jazz band, concert band, choir, speech, drama and was a daycare helper while in high school. She really enjoyed being in the Madrigal.

From the time she was a little girl she loved riding bikes, playing softball and volleyball with her family and friends. Her hobbies included going to movies, cooking, canning, sewing, crafts, camping, and canoeing.

In 2007 Anna graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in family and consumer science, enabling her to put her passion for helping others by working for Mid-Sioux Opportunity out of Remsen, South Dakota State University Extension and Iowa State University Extension in Sioux and Lyon counties. She recently began work at the Le Mars Daily Sentinel.

Family, friends and a fun celebrations were her treasure. One favorite was brother Paul's marriage to Lauren where she gave one of the readings. Others were the marriages of good friends Lauren and Byron Morris and Erin and Owen Koch.

When Anna wanted to do something she didn't let anything stand in her way. She was recommended by a teacher for a trip to Australia and New Zealand with people she had never met and she jumped at the chance. She has traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and Hawaii and she even took a mission trip to Alaska. Whenever she returned from her journeys she would put together a program to show others what she had seen and talked about what she had learned. She was a good public speaker with a heart for what she was presenting.

Though she loved to travel she was also at home on the family farm. She did many chores, both inside and outside of the house, when she was needed.

Anna was a constant help when Rita had surgery, nursing her back to health and running the household at the same time.

Anna is survived by her paternal grandmother, Evelyn Letsche, of Remsen; parents, Vernon and Rita Letsche, of Remsen, Kristina Letsche, of Le Mars, sister and brothers, Sarah Letsche, of Remsen, Paul and Lauren Letsche, of Bettendorf, Lara Letsche, of Remsen, and Karl Letsche, of Remsen.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m., Saturday at Christ Lutheran Church LCMS in Remsen, with the Rev. Dennis Martens officiating. Burial will be in the Remsen Community Cemetery in Remsen. Friends may call any time after 4 p.m. Friday, and there will be a prayer service at 7 p.m., all at Christ Lutheran Church LCMS in Remsen. Services have been entrusted to FischFuneral Home & Monument in Remsen.

Casket bearers, all cousins, will be Daniel Letsche, Jason Letsche, Justin Nelson, Jordan Walker, Jesse Nitzschke, Chase Letsche, and Brett Letsche.

Anna's family, friends and associates will remember how quick she was with a smile and how she truly was a giver in this life. On Dec. 17, 2012, her last earthly gift was to give of herself as an organ donor so others might have a merrier Christmas.

Condolences may be sent online to


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New York ~ Corporate Income, Insurance Taxes: Combined ... - CCH

The New York Department of Taxation and Finance has adopted amendments to the corporate franchise, bank franchise, and insurance franchise tax regulations to update rules and codify the department?s interpretations regarding combined reports. Among the changes made by the amendments are the following:


-elimination of discretionary language relating to when a combined report is permitted or required; this has been replaced with rules addressing when a combined report is required or permitted due to the presence or absence of substantial intercorporate transactions among related corporations;


-addition of language to the capital stock requirement providing that, for purposes of measuring the 80% stock ownership/control requirement, such ownership will be determined based on the total voting power, rather than the total number of shares of stock owned;


-changes derived from TSB-M-08(2)C, e.g., new language providing a list of activities and transactions that are considered in determining whether substantial intercorporate transactions exist;


-clarification that corporations organized under the laws of a country other than the U.S. may not be included in a combined report;


-addition of new ?6-2.7 providing examples that illustrate when a combined report is required or permitted; and


-deletion of language requiring that all corporations in a combined group use the same accounting period.


The amendments apply to taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2013.


Reg. Parts 3, 6, 21, and 33, New York Department of Taxation and Finance, applicable as noted



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'Jersey Shore' Finale: The Show's 29 Juiciest Quotes!

After six crazy seasons, it's time to prep for the series' finale on Dec. 20 -- look back at our favorite catchphrases. GTL, baby!


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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Top Protection for Your Samsung Galaxy Tablet

You?re in luck now that there are a range of cases that give amazing protection at cost effective prices. There are instances that are made for the ultimate protection that will maintain your Galaxy Tablet risk-free even if you require to pack it in your suitcase. This kind of situation is reinforced with a metal insert to preserve any outside pressure away from damaging the screen and device.

An additional type of protective case is made making use of memory foam that sits on the inside of the case and moulds about the Tablet to create a space filling, solid surroundings in which the device can sit. The situation is zippered about the outside enabling simple access and the capability to use the Galaxy Tab while still inside the case.

If you prefer leather protective cases then there are a lot to choose from. Not only do the leather situations appear fantastic but they also come in a fantastic option of colors and designs that will have you wanting to show off your new case and Tablet.

Perhaps rather you just want a durable situation that will keep dust and dirt out, if this is the case then what you require is a zippered case that is produced from Neoprene. Such a Neoprene case will protect against water from getting in and permit the shocks of any small bumps or knocks to be absorbed. This type of waterproof case has a key pocket to retailer the Galaxy Tab but also it has a second front pocket that you can store any Galaxy Tab accessories in. This may well be the Samsung charger, stylus and notepad.

An additional type of protective case for the Samsung Tab is the silicone skins that are simply fitted onto the back and around the sides of the situation. If you select this sort then it is genuinely worth while making certain that you have a screen protector as the silicone skins do not safeguard the front of your Tablet. The jelly skins come in a wide range of colors that will suit absolutely everyone.

There actually is a superb range of Samsung Galaxy Tab instances and covers, 1 that will be excellent for you.

The author of this content happens to be writing articles on several subjects including source and source.You should Check the website to know more on this.


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Itchycoo Park expected to be competitive in Bet On Your Mobile At ...

Itchycoo Park expected to be competitive in Bet On Your Mobile At

Itchycoo Park will look to make the most of his experience in the Bet On Your Mobile At at Newcastle in England on Wednesday, December 19, 2012. He is not in winning form at the moment, so there will be immense pressure on him at the moment.

Although, he has been delivering some consistent results for his team, yet he seems to have lost the winning touch. Therefore, things will not be easy for him in the Grade A4 contest, which is scheduled to kick off at 12:12 GMT.

Moreover, he will be up against some highly talented greyhounds, who will make life difficult for him in the 480 metres flat race. They will all be looking forward to clinch the cash prize of ?121 in the end, but will have to work extremely hard for it.

The race distance is not a short one, but some of the greyhounds will be eying a brisk start to pressurise their opponents. Looking at that, it seems that the starting positions will make a big difference at the end of the day.

Nightfall Beauty has managed to get the attention of the bookmakers, despite the fact that she is young and inexperienced. She has never raced in this class before, so it will be hard to predict what she can come up with at Newcastle.

However, she has been given a starting price of 11 to 4, which suggests that the bookies expect a special run from her. She will need to work extremely hard in order to meet their expectations.

The punters might be reluctant to gamble on her, despite the fact that she was victorious in her most recent race by a convincing margin. She will have to repeat such a show once more at least, which will help her win the confidence of everyone.

The H. Burton?s trained bitch will enter the competition from trap number four, so it will be difficult for her to attack from that position.

On the other hand, Itchycoo Park has been slotted in trap number six, which will give him an opportunity of being aggressive. Therefore, it will be a clever idea to gamble some bets in favour of the P. Rutherford?s trainee.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the writer?s and do not reflect official editorial policy.


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House OKs Bill to Let You Share Netflix Activity on Facebook

The House on Tuesday approved an update to an antiquated bill that could allow for the sharing of your Netflix activity on sites like Facebook.

The House yesterday approved by voice vote H.R. 6671, which amends the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) to let video providers facilitate sharing on social networks.

"Today's technology and the ever-changing consumer marketplace demand an update to the antiquated VPPA," Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement. "Over the past two decades, video distribution and the way consumers view video content has changed dramatically. Social media users, especially young people, do not understand why they cannot share information about their favorite movies or TV shows in the same way that they can music or books."

The VPPA limits how much people can share about their video rental and viewing history. So, U.S. users can share with Facebook the music they are listening to on Spotify, but cannot link a Netflix account to Facebook due to the law's restrictions.

Despite the VPPA, Hulu last year rolled out an app that allowed users to share their video-watching activity on Facebook. That prompted a class-action suit from Hulu users, who accused the company of violating the VPPA. Hulu argued that it was not subject to the VPPA because it only disclosed personal information in its "ordinary course of . . . business." But a California district court in August clarified that the VPPA does indeed apply to online video services offered by companies like Hulu, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The VPPA was enacted after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's video rental records were published in a newspaper back in 1987. In an odd coincidence, Bork's family announced that he passed away today at the age of 85, the New York Times reported.

Goodlatte said last night that "H.R. 6671 preserves careful protections for consumers' privacy while modernizing the law to empower consumers to do more with their video consumption preferences, including sharing favorite TV shows or recently watched movies via social media networks in a simple way."

The House already approved a bill to update the VPPA last year, but the Senate made several recommendations, The Hill reported. Goodlatte's bill now requires services like Netflix to obtain explicit consent for the sharing of video-watching history on outside sites like Facebook. These permission-based menus must be separate from other menus on the site, like terms of service or privacy policy approvals. That consent expires after 24 months, at which time the consumer will have to opt-in once again.

Legislation to modernize the VPPA has received support from Netflix, which appeared on Capitol Hill earlier this year to push for change.

The bill now heads to the Senate for approval; The Hill said it could be voted on in the coming weeks.

For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.


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MPs submit more populist proposals for debt relief | Kuwait Times

KUWAIT: Two more MPs yesterday submitted proposals calling for the government to purchase an estimated KD 6 billion in bank loans of citizens and then waive the incurred interest before rescheduling repayment over a long duration. MP Khaled Al-Adwah and Khaled Al-Shulaimi joined Askar Al-Enezi and Nawaf Al-Fuzai in submitting bills to resolve the most populist problem that the government adamantly rejected to negotiate in the past but now appears to be ready for deals.

All the proposals basically call on the government to purchase the total consumer and personal debts owed to banks and financial companies estimated by the Central Bank around two years ago at over KD 6 billion. The bills also call for the state to waive all interest and then ask Kuwaiti debtors to repay the remaining part of the principal loan over many years, some put it at more than 15 years while others said the value of the installment should not exceed 30 percent of the debtors? monthly income.

The lawmakers also called for the state to raise the children?s monthly allowance from the current KD 50 for up to five children to between KD 75-100 for up to 10 children. In addition, the lawmakers have also proposed a monthly salary for Kuwaiti housewives to encourage more Kuwaiti women to stay at home to help raise their children.

The MPs also proposed that the housing loan, which is currently KD 70,000 given on almost interest-free basis, should be increased to KD 100,000 and that the loan for Kuwaiti women should be increased from KD 40,000 currently to KD 70,000. The housing loan is given once in a lifetime to help Kuwaitis build their own house and cope with the skyrocketing price of land in the country. More such bills are expected to be submitted in the coming few days and the bills are expected to be taken up for debate in the Assembly in the coming few weeks.

The National Assembly bureau yesterday marked the start of its business by taking a decision to send Assembly reporters back up to the public gallery instead of sitting in the chamber floor to cover proceedings. Since the start of the Assembly, journalists had always followed sessions from the ground floor where the lawmakers sit until about a year ago when former speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi moved them upstairs amid complaints from the reporters.

But when the opposition won the February election and Ahmad Al-Saadoun was elected speaker, he brought the journalists back to their original place. Observer of the Assembly Safa Al-Hashem said the decision to send the journalists to the upper floor ?brings back authority to the Assembly and will not affect the reporters? work?.

The legal and legislative committee meanwhile yesterday approved two decrees issued by the Amir when the Assembly had been dissolved. The first decree, called national unity decree, imposes harsh penalties including jail and hefty fines for those who spread hatred in the society. The second is a decree to establish a national authority for combating corruption. The panel has to study a large number of decrees issued in the past two months.

Meanwhile, the criminal court yesterday postponed until Jan 15 the trial of three former opposition MPs accused of undermining the authority of HH the Amir and criticizing him at a public rally on Oct 10. The three, Falah Al-Sawwagh, Khaled Al-Tahous and Bader Al-Dahoum, were detained for five days and then freed on KD 5,000 bail each.? In yesterday?s hearing, three of the defendants? colleagues testified in the court over the case.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

Read by 670



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Barcelona coach Vilanova to undergo surgery


Associated Press

Associated Press Sports

updated 4:45 p.m. ET Dec. 19, 2012

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -For the second time in two years, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is stepping aside from football to take care of his health.

Vilanova will have surgery on Thursday and undergo several weeks of chemotherapy after doctors discovered a recurrence of a throat ailment, the club said Wednesday.

The 44-year-old coach underwent an operation to remove a tumor from the saliva gland in November 2011 when he was Pep Guardiola's assistant at the club. He returned ahead of schedule 15 days later.

Vilanova will likely spend four days in a hospital before undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy for about six weeks, the club said.

The statement said Vilanova could be able to remain in charge of the team while undergoing treatment.

"During this time, depending on his evolution, Vilanova may be able to combine treatment with his work regime," the club said.

Barcelona President Sandro Rosell and sports director Andoni Zubizarreta later held a press conference where they gave Vilanova their full backing as the club's coach. Players Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes were all in attendance.

Rosell said that Vilanova told his players about his condition before Wednesday's training session.

"Tito is strong and we are convinced that he will be back soon," said Rosell. "We have absolute confidence in our team and staff and that they are equipped to overcome this."

Zubizarreta said that assistant coach Jordi Roura would take over the team in the meantime and coach Barcelona in its Spanish league game at Valladolid on Saturday.

Zubizarreta said that the club has not considered handing the team over to a new coach, and was adamant that rumors Guardiola would be asked to come back were unfounded.

"Tito is our coach and will continue to be our coach," he said. "Jordi (Roura) will be on the sidelines for Valladolid, but all the rest is pure speculation."

Roura has been on Barcelona's coaching staff since 2009, sharing in the success of Vilanova and Guardiola.

Like Vilanova, Guardiola and many of its current squad, Roura is a product of Barcelona's "La Masia" football academy. He debuted for Barcelona under coach Johan Cruyff and played 10 games for its first team before a knee injury hampered his progress.

This will be Roura's first time in charge of a first-division club. He has coached lower-division sides in the surrounding Catalonia region, and was the assistant coach of Japanese side Yokohama Flugels.

Vilanova took over as Barcelona's coach from Guardiola last summer after passing medical checks.

Wednesday's announcement came one day after the club solidified its future with all-time top scorer Lionel Messi, playmaker Xavi and team captain Puyol all signing multiyear contract extensions.

"We will continue forward," said Zubizarreta. "We were going to celebrate the contract extensions of three players today, but we will have time to do so with Tito."

Under Vilanova's guidance, Barcelona has made its best ever start to a season, winning a Spanish record 15 of its first 16 league games. The club leads the standings with 46 points, nine ahead of Atletico Madrid and 13 in front of archrival Real Madrid.

Vilanova's son, Adria, used his Twitter account to give thanks for the support being offered his father.

"Thank you all for your support, you are truly great, everything is going to work out," he tweeted.

Earlier Wednesday, Barcelona canceled meetings with the club president and journalists after reports of Vilanova's illness emerged. Several hours later, the club issued the statement confirming the medical situation.

"Very sorry to hear the news," Xavi said on Twitter.

News of Vilanova's setback was met with an outpouring of support from the Spanish sports world.

"All my strength and support to Tito Vilanova," Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal said on Twitter. "We are all with you so you may overcome this new step."

Madrid issued a statement expressing its "support, sympathy and affection" for Vilanova, his family and the club, offering its best wishes for "his speedy recovery."

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho poked then assistant coach Vilanova in the eye during a melee at a Spain Supercup match between the two clubs in August 2011. Vilanova responded with a shove. Since then, their relations have been cold, but cordial.

This is the second case of a serious illness affecting Barcelona's squad in recent years.

France defender Eric Abidal underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his liver in March 2011. He returned in time to help Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final in May.

Abidal had to stop playing again last spring when it was determined he needed a liver transplant that he underwent in April. On Wednesday, Abidal returned to his first full practice with the team since the transplant.

"Today we were expecting to have many reasons for happiness, above all the news about Abidal, but then a black cloud appeared to hide the sun," said Zubizarreta. "We hope that it will move on soon and the sun will shine tomorrow.

"I am sure that when (Vilanova and Abidal) are back together again in the dressing room they will share a special look."

Under Guardiola, with Vilanova as his assistant, Barcelona won 14 of a possible 19 titles, including two Champions League titles and three Spanish league crowns.

Guardiola suggested Vilanova take over for him when he decided to take a hiatus from football last summer. Guardiola always shared credit for building the most successful team in Barcelona's 113-year history with his assistant.

Guardiola dedicated his FIFA coach of the year award last year to Vilanova, saying: "Tito, this one is for you."

While lacking Guardiola's charisma and charm, the soft-spoken Vilanova has been an excellent strategist and ensured the team keeps getting the most out of the seemingly unstoppable Messi. The Argentina forward has scored 90 goals in 2012, surpassing Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old milestone of 85 goals in a calendar year.

Vilanova recently gave an interview to Catalan television in support of their campaign to raise funds for cancer research. He spoke of his earlier illness and seemingly rapid recovery.

Vilanova said the toughest moment was when he left the doctor's office after the diagnosis and immediately thought of his children, aged 14 and 17.

"I focused all my efforts on moving forward," he said. "I started to run, run, run and I have spent 10 months running nonstop.

"My philosophy has always been based on the idea that nothing is too important," he said. "The only important thing is your health."


Associated Press writer Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this report.

? 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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The most-hated team in the world?

PST: While Zenit management tries to distance the club from extremists, the first thing that comes to your mind about Zenit is hate.

Roundup: Chelsea reaches League Cup semis

LEEDS, England (AP) - Juan Mata tied the score two minutes into the second half and Chelsea went on to rout Leeds 5-1 Wednesday night for a berth in the semifinals of the English League Cup.


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W.H.: 'Gun laws alone would not solve this'

President Barack Obama (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)President Barack Obama supports Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legislation banning assault weapons?signed into law in 1994, it expired in 2004?and other potential gun measures, the White House revealed on Tuesday, after declining to discuss gun control specifics the day before.

"He is actively supportive of, for example, Sen. Feinstein's stated intent to revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban," White House press secretary Jay Carney said at Tuesday's briefing. "He supports and would support legislation that addresses the problem of the gun show loophole, and there are other elements of gun legislation that he could support?people have talked about high-capacity ammunition clips for example, and that is something certainly that he would be interested in looking at."

On Monday, Carney declined to offer any specifics on gun control measures Obama might support after Friday's shooting in Newtown, Conn., amid pressure from gun control advocates and others.

But Carney stressed Tuesday that the president is actively discussing how to respond to the shooting.

"The president yesterday afternoon had discussions with members of his Cabinet, members of his senior staff and the vice president to begin looking at ways for the country to move forward and respond to the tragedy in Newtown," Carney said.?He confirmed that the president met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Carney added that the president is "heartened" to hear some pro-gun-rights lawmakers are open to discussing "common-sense gun control measures like the assault weapons ban."

He said the president also spoke Tuesday with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin?a Democrat and "A"-rated NRA member who publicly criticized assault weapons on Monday.

Carney underscored Tuesday, as he had the day before, that a substantive response to Friday's shooting requires a complex solution that includes not only gun rights, but mental health, law enforcement and other areas.

"Gun laws alone would not solve this problem," Carney said.


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