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Discussion in 'GENERAL DISCUSSION' started by omeg, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. omeg

    omeg NEW MEMBER

    Deadline Day: Will Obamacare website work?</h1>By Tom Cohen , CNN updated 5:24 AM EST, Sat November 30, 2013   Washington (CNN) -- A moment of truth has arrived for President Barack Obama's signature health care reforms with Saturday's self-imposed deadline to get the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov website to work properly for most users.Obama and officials in charge of the website say the vast majority of people who visit it starting Saturday will have a much improved experience than the crashes, error messages and delays that users faced when it launched October 1.Can Obamacare website handle the volume?Another stumble now, after recent revelations of policy cancellations and premium increases for some under the reforms known as Obamacare, would further weaken public trust in the administration's ability to implement the 2010 Affordable Care Act intended to help millions of uninsured Americans get coverage.Continued problems also would provide more ammunition for fierce attacks led by conservative Republicans seeking to dismantle a law they consider unworkable and the ultimate example of big government run amok.According to Jeff Zients, a former administration official brought in to lead efforts to fix the website, success would mean that 800,000 people can successfully visit HealthCare.gov each day, with up to 50,000 of them online at the same time.He told reporters at a White House briefing on Tuesday that teams working 24/7 still were making improvements intended to boost capacity to handle an expected surge in visitors beginning on Saturday.The site was taken down Friday night for overnight maintenance ahead of the deadline set by the Obama administration following the rollout debacle for most users to have a smooth experience on the website. What we are comfortable with is that the 800,000 consumer visits a day will handle the demand across the coming months, Zients said.It better. Republicans already are declaring the website and the sweeping health law a failure.While the website exposed a serious flaw in executing the program and was a political embarrassment, Obama's poll numbers have slid sharply over individual policy cancellations that disproved his repeated refrain when selling the program publicly that people could keep their coverage if they preferred.President's marks as manager take hit in CNN/ORC poll We've been down this road before as officials looked us in the eye for months, pledging to the American people that everything was 'on track' and we now know with the chaos behind the scenes that it was 'on track' for disaster, said a statement Friday by GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. What reason do we have to believe things will be different now? Sebelius: Site improvements 'on track' Obama confident of health reform legacy For his part, Obama sounded confident of the eventual success of both the website and the reforms he championed and pushed through Congress with no Republican votes, telling ABC in an interview broadcast Friday that providing the security of health care to millions of Americans is going to be a legacy I am extraordinarily proud of. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/30/politics/obamacare-website/index.html?hpt=hp_t1" title="CNN">Read More</a><a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  2. Mben

    Mben No Deposit Forum Admin Staff Member

    Bend over! [​IMG]
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  3. omeg

    omeg NEW MEMBER

    Train derails in New York; 4 deaths reported</h1>By CNN Staff updated 9:34 AM EST, Sun December 1, 2013   New York (CNN) -- A passenger train derailment in New York on Sunday morning killed at least four people and injured 40 others, two sources familiar with the investigation and rescue told CNN.The Metro-North train derailed at Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, the New York Fire Department said.About 100 firefighters responded to the scene.At least two of the dead appeared to have been ejected from the train, one of the sources said.Five passenger cars derailed in the accident, the New York Fire Department said.The cars came off the track shortly after 7 a.m., fire officials told WCBS. They did not go into the Harlem River, which is beside the tracks, the station reported.The derailment occurred near where a freight train derailed in July, WCBS reported. No one was injured in that accident.Service was been suspended Sunday on part of the Hudson Line, Metro-North said on Twitter.A passenger, Frank Tatulli, told WABC he thought the train was traveling faster than usual. He got out on his own, and suffered head and neck injuries, he said.The train came off the tracks just as it was coming around a sharp curve.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  4. omeg

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    Sluggish start to holiday shopping season</h1>By Chris Isidore <a href="https://twitter.com/intent/user?screen_name=CNNMoney">@CNNMoney</a> December 1, 2013: 9:38 PM ET  Even with deep price cuts and an extra day of shopping at many retailers, the holiday shopping season got off to a relatively weak start.</h2> The National Retail Federation reported that shoppers spent an average of 4% less over the holiday weekend, the first decline in spending since 2009 when the recession cut deeply into spending.Industry analyst ShopperTrak reported a modest 2.3% increase in spending on Thursday and Friday. But it said that spending at brick and mortar stores on Black Friday fell sharply compared to a year ago, as the consumers took advantage of Thanksgiving day openings. It's spreading the jam a bit thinner over a larger piece of bread, said Bill Martin, president of ShopperTrak, about the impact of the extra day of shopping. The hope had been that a number of improvements in the economy, including record stock prices, a rebound in home values and car sales and some improvement in the unemployment rate, would result in stronger sales at the start of what will be a very short holiday shopping season. But some of the spending on cars and new homes this past year may have actually cut into holiday sales as it trimmed the amount of discretionary dollars that consumers had to spend on Christmas, according to Mathew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF.  We have this economy that can't walk [and] chew gum at the same time, he said. [Consumers] can't support spending in both [discretionary spending and big ticket items.]  Still, the NRF is sticking with its forecast of nearly 4% growth in holiday sales, though that forecast period began Nov. 1 and runs through Christmas. Shay said that some of the holiday sales started right after Halloween this year. Related: Thanksgiving openings are the new normal  The NRF estimated that 141 million Americans did some sort of shopping during the four-day weekend, up just 1.2% from a year ago. It based that on a survey of more than 4,000 shoppers. But much of that gain came from online sales. The trade group reported that spending at brick and mortar stores fell nearly 9%. Internet tracking service comScore reported that shoppers spent just under $2 billion in online purchases from desktop computers on Thursday and Friday, up 17% from their online spending last year. And IBM (IBM , Fortune 500) reported a 40% jump in shopping on smart phones and other mobile devices. While traditional retailers all offered significant online sales, comScore reported the biggest winners from the shift to online were Amazon (AMZN , Fortune 500) and eBay (EBAY , Fortune 500) . Related: Cyber Monday is life imitating hype  Experts say the drop in spending at traditional brick and mortar stores is also due to even deeper discounting by retailers eager to attract shoppers.  It means for a retailer to grow at all they have to steal one from another retailer, said retail consultant Robin Lewis, co-author of 'The New Rules of Retail.' That's one of the reasons some opened on Thanksgiving Day.  Lewis and some other experts don't believe that the extra shopping day paid off for the retailers who expanded their hours, especially considering the extra labor costs associated with being open on the holiday.  I think there will be some pull back next year because retailers can't afford to operate like that, said Laura Gurski, a partner and global leader of the Retail Practice at A.T. Kearney. [​IMG]<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN"> Source</a>   
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  5. omeg

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    Can you OD on caffeine?</h1>  By Cody Lyon , upwave.com updated 7:06 AM EST, Tue December 3, 2013   The rumor: It's possible to get caffeine poisoningAs he was driving down an Ohio freeway minutes after swallowing five Magnum 357 caffeine pills, Christian Brenner started to vibrate -- and the cars in his rearview mirror did as well. Fortunately, Brenner pulled over and walked around in an effort to try and come down.Today, he swears off caffeine, even coffee -- the mental aftereffect of what he says was straight-up caffeine poisoning.upwave: Is coffee bad for you? The verdict: Yes, you can OD on caffeine. The trick is to know your body, pay attention to what else you've ingested and do your homework on energy drinksCaffeine acts as a stimulant in humans. It can be found in the seeds, leaves and fruit of plants like coffee or kola nuts. Safe doses of caffeine are usually quoted at around 200 to 300 milligrams, or two to four cups of coffee per day, says Dr. David Seres, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.There have been plenty of reports that say caffeine is beneficial. Some studies call it a potential protector from diseases such as Parkinson's, and even some forms of cancer.upwave: Can coffee help you live longer?But those 357 Magnum Pills that Brenner ate contain 200 milligrams of caffeine each, which means he downed around 1,000 milligrams of caffeine in one big literal gulp.Take note: Energy drinks like Red Bull usually contain around 80 milligrams of caffeine in an eight-ounce can. Some of the bigger cans (such as a 16-ounce Monster) have up to 240 milligrams. Meanwhile, a 16-ounce cup of coffee (think a venti at Starbucks) packs upwards of 300 milligrams.Barbara Crouch, executive director at the Utah Poison Control Center, says that unlike coffee drinkers, energy drink consumers (especially young people) like to chug down not just one, but two or three of the peppy beverages to get a good jolt on before a hardcore workout, soccer practice or maybe to enhance a night of dancing. When you pound down more than one energy drink verses sipping a cup of coffee, you're not metabolizing it the same way, she says, adding that factors like size, age, sex, drug interactions, hydration levels and the amount of food in the stomach can mean different outcomes for different people when on a caffeine binge. Yes, there is absolutely such a thing as caffeine poisoning, and the dose essentially makes the poison, she says.upwave: Are sports drinks healthy?But Crouch has a bigger bone to pick with the makers of energy drinks: She says that many of them aren't being fully forthcoming about ingredients. Seres points out that many natural additives -- such as guarana, taurine and so-called Siberian ginseng -- haven't been fully tested. Energy drinks contain other 'natural' ingredients, which may have additional amounts of caffeine, says Seres. They're also likely to contain herbs with stimulatory effects not tested for safety or interactions with prescription drugs, and other potentially pharmacologically active substances. But James Coughlin, a food, nutritional, chemical and toxicology safety expert in Los Angeles who consults for the American Beverage Association (the industry group that represents energy drink companies), disputes that. The caffeine contained in the guarana of an energy drink is only around one milligram, versus the 80 milligrams of synthetic caffeine added by a beverage company such as Red Bull, he says. The lethal dose of caffeine is 10 to 20 grams of pure powder caffeine, so if you were going to try and kill yourself with caffeine, you'd probably drown in the liquid first if you did it with coffee -- and even more so with an energy drink. upwave: Caffeine addiction -- quitting cold turkeyCoughlin calls the very idea that beverage companies are sneaking caffeine into energy drinks through other ingredients a total myth.Still, it'd be hard to deny headlines claiming that there have been increased energy drink-related visits to emergency rooms. One highly cited 2011 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration stated that energy drink-related emergency-department visits went from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.All the press about energy drinks led the Federal Drug Administration to say it's taking a fresh look at caffeinated food -- and that it plans to hone in on how energy drinks impact young people. We are contracting with the Institute of Medicine to conduct a public meeting to obtain additional scientific information and expert input on caffeine and are actively reaching out to the food industry and health care practitioners to discuss concerns about caffeine in conventional foods and dietary supplements, says FDA spokesperson Teresa Eisenman.upwave: Do energy supplements really work?Crouch, however, cautions that people should monitor caffeine intake from other sources as well. So you have that cup of coffee, but lo and behold you decide to get an extra-dark bar of chocolate, she says. Or you drink a soda. Or maybe you do take an allergy pill or a dietary supplement. Truth be told, sometimes people miss the fine print on labels about stimulant properties in all these products.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  6. omeg

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    Winter storm aims at East Coast</h1>By Tom Watkins and Ralph Ellis , CNN updated 9:21 PM EST, Sat December 7, 2013   (CNN) -- A frigid winter storm system that put Dallas in the deep freeze will hit the East Coast on Sunday. Lucky for those people, it should be a one-day affair.Snow, ice or freezing rain will fall on Washington, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston on Sunday, the National Weather Service said. On Monday, temperatures will rise into the 40s and any accumulation should start to melt, the weather service predicts.Folks in other parts of the country will need an extra blanket on the bed. Unseasonably cold weather will continue.On Sunday, temperatures are expected to only reach about 10 degrees in the northern and central Rockies, the northern Plains and the upper Midwest. Sleet and freezing rain is forecast from the Tennessee Valley to Mid-Atlantic on Sunday.Parts of Texas, the Upper South and the Midwest socked by the winter storm will warm up just a little bit on Sunday. The Weather Service said the temps will rise into the high 30s and 40s, but drop below freezing again Sunday night.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/07/us/weather-winter-storm/index.html?hpt=hp_t1" title="CNN">Read More</a><a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  7. omeg

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    Obama praises 'giant of history' at packed Mandela memorial</h1>By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN updated 8:06 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013   Johannesburg (CNN) -- Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, in a memorial service celebrating a man seen as a global symbol of reconciliation.In what has been billed as one of the largest gatherings of global leaders in recent history, world leaders from U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba's Raul Castro gathered alongside street sweepers, actors and religious figures to pay tribute to the revered statesman who died last Thursday, aged 95.Despite the pouringrain, the atmosphere inside Johannesburg 's FNB stadium was celebratory, with people dancing, blowing vuvuzela plastic horns and singing songs from the anti-apartheid struggle.Many carried banners honoring Madiba, Mandela's traditional clan name, or his picture. Others were draped in materials covered with his face or the green, yellow, black, red and blue colors of the South African flag.Some had skipped work and lined up for hours to secure seats so that they could pay their respects at the stadium where Mandela delivered his first major speech after his release from 27 years in prison.The four-hour service, coinciding with U.N. Human Rights Day, is the centerpiece of a week of mourning and was expected to bring much of South Africa to a stop.It began with the national anthem before South Africa's presidents -- past and present -- were introduced. There was a loud cheer from the crowd for F.W. de Klerk, the last leader of white South Africa, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela for helping to end apartheid.The joyous cries died down as speeches from Mandela's family and friends, as well as a fellow Robben Island prison inmate, began. Anguished faces listened quietly as a sorrowful chant to Tata Madiba filled the air. Tata means father in Mandela's Xhosa tribe.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/world/africa/nelson-mandela-memorial/index.html?hpt=wo_c1" title="CNN">Read More</a><a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  8. omeg

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    Meteor explodes over Arizona; big meteor shower begins</h1>By Ben Brumfield, CNN updated 6:36 AM EST, Wed December 11, 2013   (CNN) -- A resounding boom over Tucson, Arizona, roused residents from their dinner tables Tuesday and had them pointing up to the sky.The largest meteor shower of the year seemed to be giving them a sneak preview, as a whopper of a rock roared past over their heads.It exploded, rattling their houses, and a dash cam captured it on video as it vanished in a bright blaze.The spectacular annual Geminid meteor shower officially starts Thursday. Now, even with 100 to 120 meteors per hour at its peak, it has given itself a tough act to follow.Astronomer Tod Lauer heard the blast but did not bother to look outside. We were eating dinner and heard a good bang that rattled the roof of our house. I dismissed it as a sonic boom, he posted to Facebook.Then a local TV station phoned the scientist, who studies images from the Hubble Space Telescope, to ask him to explain what had happened.Frantic eyewitnesses across the state called local news outlets to report what they saw.The explosion shook Tony Kubrak's house, too, he told CNN affiliate KGUN, which received a flood of calls and hundreds of posts to its Facebook page.Kubrak went outside to check it out. I see this tremendous, white, bright light in the western sky. And it was just ... it was absolutely enormous, I couldn't believe it. Others took to social media. Did y'all see the meteor that flew above Tucson? Crazzzzy. That was toooo craaaazy! Tucson resident Eric Gomez posted on Twitter.People around the world can enjoy what bedazzled Arizonans until at least Monday, NASA said. The Geminid meteor shower this year will be rich in fire balls. They can be viewed best from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET. Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids are by far the most massive, said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of 5 to 500. NASA calls it the 900-pound gorilla of meteor showers.Most meteor showers are caused by comets, but not Geminid, which contains the name of the constellation Gemini.A large space rock named 3200 Pheathon flings the debris that makes the sparkling magic.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  9. Mben

    Mben No Deposit Forum Admin Staff Member

    I read this all over Facebook last night. Posts were made by our local news stations. I MISSED IT! WAAAAAAH!!I didn't hear a thing. Seeing it would have been so cool!
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  10. omeg

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    Cooling pump fails on International Space Station; six-man crew OK</h1>By John Zarrella and Catherine E. Shoichet , CNN updated 8:22 PM EST, Wed December 11, 2013   CNN) -- NASA scaled back operations on the International Space Station on Wednesday after discovering a problem with a cooling system.A pump on one of the station's two external cooling loops shut down after hitting a temperature limit, NASA said.Teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, NASA said. Experts suspect a malfunctioning valve may have caused the problem, but they're still trying to figure out how to fix it.The station and crew aboard were never in any danger, NASA said.The external cooling loops are systems that circulate ammonia outside the station to keep equipment cool.Officials discovered the malfunctioning loop was producing too much ammonia Wednesday morning, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said.Teams have shut down some non-critical systems on the station as a result of the problem, NASA said.The space station's life support system is still up and running.Officials could determine that an emergency spacewalk is the best way to fix the failed pump -- something they've done in the past.But it's too soon to tell whether that's the best option.The current mission of the space station, officially called Expedition 38, is scheduled to fly until March 2014.The six-person crew consists of NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of the United States; Russians Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov; and Koichi Wakata of Japan.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  11. omeg

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    Michael Jackson death trial jurors: 'Stunned' ... 'cheated' by verdict process</h1>By Alan Duke , CNN updated 12:33 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013   Los Angeles (CNN) -- Four jurors in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial said they feel cheated by the outcome, which they blame on a misleading verdict form.The six-month-long trial ended in October with a victory for AEG Live, the concert promoter Jackson's mother and children had claimed was liable for his death because it hired, retained or supervised the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death.The jurors, whose sworn statements were attached to a motion for a new trial filed Thursday by Katherine Jackson's lawyers, said most of the jury wanted to find concert promoter AEG Live liable in Jackson's 2009 death.Along with arguing that the verdict form was faulty, the Jackson lawyers contend the judge erred by refusing to let them pursue a negligence claim independent of the hiring case. Jackson died from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009, which Dr. Conrad Murray told police he used to treat the pop icon's insomnia as he prepared for a tour produced by AEG Live.They jurors used the words stunned, upset and shocked when they were told they had to stop deliberations after a majority agreed that the answer was no to the second question on the verdict form -- Was Dr. Conrad Murray unfit or incompetent to perform the work for which he was hired? One juror called the question a trap that prevented us from deliberating on the real issues of the case. After sitting through almost six months of the trial in this case, I believed that Mrs. Jackson had proven her case against AEG LIve, another juror said. Despite this fact, I had no way of voting in favor of the plaintiffs because of the way that the verdict form was worded. Jackson lawyers, in their arguments for a new trial, contend that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazeulos erred by denying their request to add the words at any time to the question.The four jurors, whose names were redacted from the documents released by the court, agreed. I would like the judge to know that we did not have the opportunity to deliberate or render a verdict on the plaintiffs claims that Dr Murray did not become unfit or incompetent until after the conflict of interest was created, Dr. Murray's duties were changed, pressures were mounting, or even after the contract was prepared and signed by Dr. Murray, one juror said.The jury voted no only after one member convinced them that the question could have only meant at the time he was hired, two of the juror statements said.  During our deliberations, I asked to send a question to the judge to explain Question 2, but by then the foreman had already answered 'no' and followed the instructions to sign the form, one said. I feel so cheated because I sat through five months of trial and listened to a lot of evidence on the ethical conflict created -- yet I never got to even deliberate at all on that issue or even review the hundreds of exhibits that had been brought in. Another juror said they decided not to ask the judge for direction on the second question because we did not want anyone to know where we were in deliberations. I do not believe that the verdict form was fair or worded correctly, and as phrased, Question 2 was a trap that prevented us from deliberating on the real issues of the case, a juror said.The same juror described the emotional toll it has caused. Since the jury verdict, I have been very upset, and initially I was unable to eat or even check my e-mails because I was so sorry about the verdict and the fact that justice was not done in this case, because of how question 2 on the verdict form was worded. I do not think that justice was achieved in this case, another said.The affidavits revealed that one of the 12 jurors refused to stop deliberating despite being told it was over. He insisted that we continue answering the rest of the questions, a juror said.Judge Palazeulos will hear arguments on the new trial motion on January 3.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  12. omeg

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    Prince Harry and team reach South Pole</h1>By Andrew Carey , CNN updated 11:21 AM EST, Fri December 13, 2013   (CNN) -- Prince Harry and a trekking team made up of servicemen and women reached the South Pole on Friday, organizers for the Walking With The Wounded charity said.Three teams of seven participants each, representing the United Kingdom, United States and the Commonwealth, which consists of several countries long affiliated with the British Empire, took part in the charity event.Originally, it was a race among the three teams to reach the South Pole, but organizers called off the competitive aspect because it was putting undue strain on the participants.Harry -- himself a member of Britain's armed forces, having served in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- has had a long association with this charity.In several ways, he's been preparing for this latest mission for a long time. That includes taking part in a Walking With The Wounded expedition to the North Pole -- even plunging into the Arctic Ocean's freezing waters -- in 2011 before withdrawing to attend his brother William's wedding. More recently, he traveled to Iceland for training and even spent 24 hours in an industrial freezer in preparation for the South Pole trek.The teams had to trek more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) across the sparse continent, in temperatures as low as -35 degrees Celsius (-31 Fahrenheit).<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  13. omeg

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    Mandela laid to rest in Qunu, ending a journey that transformed South Africa</h1>By Faith Karimi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian , CNN updated 8:30 AM EST, Sun December 15, 2013   (CNN) -- With military pomp and traditional rituals, South Africa buried Nelson Mandela on Sunday, the end of an exceptional journey for the prisoner turned president who transformed the nation.Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu.Tribal leaders clad in animal skins joined dignitaries in dark suits at the grave site overlooking the rolling green hills.As pallbearers walked toward the site after a funeral ceremony, helicopters whizzed past dangling the national flag. Cannons fired a 21-gun salute, its echoes ringing over the quiet village.Mandela's widow, Graca Machel, dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as she watched the proceedings. Yours was truly a long walk to freedom. Now you have achieved the ultimate freedom in the bosom of God, your maker, an officiator at the grave site said.Military pallbearers gently removed the South African flag that draped the coffin and handed it to President Jacob Zuma, who gave it to Mandela's family.At the request of the family, the lowering of the casket was closed to the media.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/15/world/africa/nelson-mandela-qunu-funeral/index.html?hpt=hp_t1" title="CNN">Read More</a><a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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  14. omeg

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    More snow to dust the Northeast, Midwest -- enough to boost holiday spirit</h1>By Ben Brumfield and Steve Almasy , CNN updated 3:17 AM EST, Mon December 16, 2013   CNN) -- The storm that whipped the Northeast over the weekend with six to 16 inches of snow has blown off to Canada, but more snow is on its way -- maybe just enough to bring out some of that holiday spirit.The flakes sweeping across the Midwest and Northeast on Monday and Tuesday aren't expected have the heft of the fast-moving storm that preceded them but are predicted to add a couple of inches to the wintry landscape.For those who like the sight, expect it to last a few days, especially in the northernmost regions, as deep freeze temperatures settle in and aren't expected to relent until mid-week. Especially above Albany, New York, the mercury will plummet hard, well below zero, the National Weather Service says.Residents may have cleared their walkways from West Virginia to Maine Sunday, but slush should freeze overnight in many places, leaving slippery patches.Mounds of snow are piled high throughout New York state and New EnglandAlbany got at least 12 inches, the weather service said; the storm left another 16 inches in Biddeford, Maine.The big storm came a little early, said one CNN iReporter. We usually get these big snow storms in January and the snow on the ground usually stays until springtime since it's always cold here in Albany, Zeynep Rice said. Last year was a bit weak in snow until end of February actually. So we're happy to have a solid snow covering on the ground earlier than usual this season. The storm spared major metropolitan areas like Boston and New York City, but some areas in Maine and along the U.S.-Canada border saw significant snow, the weather service said.The eastward-moving storm dropped snow earlier across the Midwest and western Pennsylvania, with 9 inches reported in Urbana, Illinois.Millions of people experienced the big chill as the system paved a white swath more than 1,000 miles long.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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    You won the big one, now what?</h1>By Steve Almasy , CNN updated 7:30 AM EST, Tue December 17, 2013   (CNN) -- Somebody might wake up Wednesday a whole lot richer. Heck, some of are going to stay up to see if we're the lucky one or two who hits the Mega Millions.People who play the lottery love to dream about the things they'd do if they won the big one. Telling the boss off might top your list (not mine, oh no, not mine). Maybe a new mansion and a fancy car and a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater (Right, Steve Martin?).But let's think about it. There are a few important things you should do before you go out and blow your winnings.1. Sign the ticket. You didn't already? Are you crazy? What if the roommate claims it? What if your significant other isn't as significant as you thought? What if you are showing it to someone, say over a beer or 10, and it goes missing? What if you forget it on your desk and you suddenly have the richest cleaning person in the U.S.? Sign it -- if you didn't when you bought it -- because whoever has an unsigned ticket when it gets turned in can call dibs on it.It's also time for a selfie. With you and said ticket. It might even be a good idea to run to the drug store and buy a camera with actual film in it.And then find a hiding place for that ticket. A safe deposit bank is probably, yes, safest. Or go get a portable home safe. Remember, this ain't Canada; no one is going to track you down to hand you your millions.2. Contact people who have dealt with large sums of money before And we don't mean your uncle Eddie who says he's doing great with his online stock portfolio or a cousin who just passed the bar. Start with one experienced attorney and look for a seasoned certified financial planner. You don't want to contact more than a few people, lest the word get out before you even get the big cardboard check.Your biggest decision right now is whether to take the cash prize (the actual money in the pot) or take an annuity (the estimated value of the cash option plus whatever interest it will earn over 30 years).It seems like a no-brainer to get it all upfront and do your own investing, but a bright financial mind will help you see if it's best to get 30 checks over time or one check.The lawyer you pick will also need to hook you up with specialists in subjects like estate planning, taxes and such. You might want to know if it's best to buy mom a house or just give her some cash each year or set up some sort of trust fund. I vote to buy the house and let her live there. Wait, is that OK? Need a lawyer.Why you keep playing the lottery3. Figure out if you can stay anonymous Chances are, you can't. Only a few states like South Carolina allow it, so you may want to hire a media consultant or a PR flak. Let someone else plan your appearances after you claim your coin. And remember, you don't have to make your decisions right away. You might have as long as 180 days to claim your prize, but check state rules while your looking to see if you can remain anonymous.But it would be best if you didn't have to give out your name, some former winners say.If you can't, lie low for a while. If you can't lie low, it might be prudent to hire a bodyguard. We don't want you to end up like the winner in Florida who ended up buried under a driveway.4. Plan a trip Speaking of staying out of sight, it might be a good time to head to South America. We hear it's nice this time of year. Or some place like the U.S. Virgin Islands if you don't have a passport.One set of winners went straight from the news conference to the airport. They were gone for weeks. If it were me, I might have the news conference at the airport, in front of the private jet.If you do duck out for a few weeks, you probably won't come back to find the news media parked in front of your house and people won't recognize you in stores.Now there probably will be a pile of mail and emails from relatives you never knew you had and messages on the answering machine (if you still have your phone connected).Sudden lottery fortunes not always for the best5. Don't give up just because you didn't win the top prize. Every year a few of the people who match five numbers and win the measly runner-up prize fail to collect their winnings. So check those tickets again to see if you might have won $1 million. You don't want to be among the 2 percent of people (OK, it's like one or two) who threw away a million bucks. Last year there was $800 million in unclaimed lottery prizes. That's everything from $1 prizes to the $1 million prize (that can be even bigger if you play the mutipliers).It might be, for instance, the guy I talked to at a sandwich shop in the CNN food court who says he only plays when the jackpots are huge. He checks to see where the big winner lives and if it's not here, he tosses his tickets.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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    Gaia space telescope's billion pixel camera to map Milky Way</h1>By Dave Gilbert, CNN updated 8:14 AM EST, Wed December 18, 2013   (CNN) -- What do you need to map a billion stars? A billion-pixel camera certainly helps.Scientists hope to glean more clues about the origin and evolution of the universe, and in particular our own galaxy, when a camera of this incredible scale -- fitted to the Gaia space telescope -- is launched Thursday.Gaia, which is due to lift off from French Guyana, has been tasked with mapping the Milky Way in greater detail than ever before.Designed and built by Astrium for the European Space Agency (ESA), the makers say the telescope is so sensitive that it could measure a person's thumbnail from the Moon, or to put it another way, detect the width of a human hair from 1,000km (620 miles) away.The mission's aim is to build a three-dimensional picture of our galaxy, measuring precise distances to a billion stars. Even this is a small fraction of the Milky Way, as astronomers believe there are at least 100 billion stars in our galaxy.Astrium says Gaia is also expected to log a million quasars beyond the Milky Way, and a quarter of a million objects in our own solar system, including comets and asteroids. It can do it with incredible accuracy. It's the biggest camera ever put into space, said Ralph Cordey, head of science and exploration at Astrium.He said the spacecraft cost 400 million euros ($549 million) to build, but the total cost of the mission would come to 740 million euros ($1.02 billion) when the expense of the launch and running the mission for its projected five-year lifetime are included.If successful, Gaia will add to the knowledge gained from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which is still in operation, and ESA's Hipparcos satellite, which gathered data until 1993.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/18/world/europe/gaia-space-telescope/index.html?hpt=hp_t2" title="CNN">Read More</a><a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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    'Blackfish' prompts school to cancel long-standing SeaWorld trip</h1>By Dorrine Mendoza, CNN updated 7:19 PM EST, Wed December 18, 2013   (CNN) -- With a parade of performers already canceling appearances at SeaWorld, now at least one school class says it's dropping a long-scheduled trip to the park over concerns about the treatment of whales as shown in the documentary Blackfish. The overnight trip to SeaWorld has been a tradition for fifth-graders at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu, California, for at least a decade, according to Principal Rebecca Johnson, but concerns from parents and students including one determined 10-year-old prompted a decision to go elsewhere on this year's trip.Although Johnson mostly credited parents for influencing the change, several parents CNN spoke with said 10-year-old Kirra Kotler played a major role in the decision.The girl watched the film Blackfish with her parents and immediately afterward announced, I never want to go to SeaWorld again, according to her father, Kirby Kotler. The Kotler family had taken trips to SeaWorld several times, he said.Kirby, 50, who attended Point Dume the year it first opened, said the entire family was affected by the film but Kirra became especially determined. She's always said she's going to be a veterinarian, Kirby said. She's very passionate about animals. A SeaWorld spokesman told CNN by e-mail that Point Dume is the only instance of a camp cancellation that we've experienced. Dave Koontz, SeaWorld's communications director, also wrote that the theme park believes Blackfish is misleading and inaccurate. It's disappointing that this year's class (from Point Dume) will not be participating because of the film, he wrote. Blackfish -- which first aired on CNN in October -- traces a 39-year history of killer whales in captivity leading up to the 2010 killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by the 12,000-pound orca, Tilikum, a whale previously associated with the death of two other people.At least seven entertainers and groups, from the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies to country music singer Martina McBride, have canceled appearances at SeaWorld in the wake of Blackfish. After seeing the film, Kirra Kirby wanted to share it with her friends, her father said. She was determined to get the school to consider other options for the annual trip She's very shy, Kirby said of his daughter. But she finally found her voice. Kirby said Kirra launched a word-of-mouth to campaign for the change, in some cases receiving backlash from fellow students who thought she was trying to cancel their overnight trip entirely instead of just changing the destination.Principal Johnson said she is in the process of verifying details for a new trip.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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    North Korea threatens to 'strike South Korea mercilessly'</h1>From K.J. Kwon, CNN updated 3:00 AM EST, Fri December 20, 2013   Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- North Korea sent a fax to South Korea on Thursday, threatening to strike mercilessly without notice after protests against the secretive regime this week in Seoul.The message warned that North Korea would strike if the provocation against our highest dignity is to be repeated in the downtown of Seoul. Earlier this week, on the second anniversary of the death of former North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, conservative protesters rallied in Seoul, burning effigies of the country's leaders as well as its flag. Such protests are common during North Korean festivals and anniversaries.The South Korea's Ministry of National Defense said it sent a response. The reply was sent through wired message and in the fax message, we warned that if North Korea is to carry out provocation, we will firmly retaliate, said Kim Min-seok, the spokesman for South Korea's Ministry of National Defense.He added that there have been no significant military movements in North Korea.Pyongyang routinely threatens to retaliate after what it considers provocations including protests or balloon launches to the north by South Korean groups.Relations between the Koreas have seesawed this year, verging on hostile earlier this year amid a nuclear test in February.This month, the execution of Jang Song Thaek, an advisor and uncle of North Korea's current leader, Kim Jong Un unsettled its neighbors, prompting speculation about instability in the country's leadership.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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    3 dead as unusual weather mix sweeps nation, threatens holiday travelers</h1>By Jessica Ravitz and Leslie Holland , CNN updated 5:36 AM EST, Sun December 22, 2013   (CNN) -- At least three people are dead after a bizarre mix of weather across the country spawned tornadoes, ice storms and record-setting warmth this weekend.Two deaths occurred in the Mississippi counties of Coahoma and Jasper, where severe weather damaged homes and knocked down trees, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.The third fatality came from a traffic accident near Kansas City, Chris Redline of the Missouri Department of Transportation said. We also had to close a lot of roads in southeast Missouri because of flooding, Redline said.Flooding, extreme cold and unseasonable warmth covered other parts of the country. To make sense of it all, let us take you on a national tour. Southeast: Thunderstorms, tornadoes and torrential downpours Heavy rain, damaging winds and lightning were forecast to continue into Sunday morning. These storms will spread, bringing downpours to Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and up the East Coast on Sunday.On Saturday night, the National Weather Service said a tornado was likely to blame for damage in central Mississippi, including four semi trucks overturned and five houses heavily damaged.Some of the highest rain totals for Saturday occurred in Junction, Illinois, where 6 inches were reported, and Trumann, Arkansas, where residents had 7 inches of rain by late Saturday evening.The main trigger for the severe weather is the above-average temperatures farther north. Midwest: A flood of wet worry On Saturday evening, some low-lying areas of Shelby County, Indiana. were evacuated as the rain continued to fall in central Indiana.Where temperatures are lower, snow will come down across Iowa, Wisconsin and into northwest Michigan. Some areas will see up to 8-10 inches of snow, others around 4-7 inches. And an ice storm is predicted in southeast Michigan. Central Plains: Slammed with ice and snow In Kansas and southeast Nebraska, snowfalls will total 3-6 inches. And those cold temps will keep folks shivering.Whitney Eichinger of Southwest Airlines said the company is trying to offer customers options. We are allowing customers to rebook their trip with no penalty through tomorrow, she said. That has more to do with traveling to the airport, not flight cancellations. The highest snow total of Saturday was in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, where 12.5 inches had fallen by late Saturday evening. Mid-Atlantic/Northeast: Weirdly warm If there is one present being handed out on this first day of winter, it is the well-above-average temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic.By Sunday, that warm weather will grace the Northeast, sending temperatures into the 60s.Farther north, however, the situation has been less cozy. In Maine and across New Hampshire, Vermont and into New York, winter weather -- including ice storm warnings and freezing rain -- were in effect.New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a winter ice emergency and activated the state's emergency operations center. The National Weather Service in Buffalo issued a winter storm watch for five counties in upstate New York and winter storm warnings for two others.The National Weather Service in Buffalo said up to an inch of ice accumulation is expected, and areas near the St. Lawrence and Black rivers could see even more.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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        CNN Poll: Health care law support drops to all-time low </h1>CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser   Washington (CNN) Support for the country's new health care law has dropped to a record low, according to a new national poll.And a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that most Americans predict that the Affordable Care Act will actually result in higher prices for their own medical care. CNN/ORC International survey full results Only 35% of those questioned in the poll say they support the health care law, a 5-point drop in less than a month. Sixty-two percent say they oppose the law, up four points from November.Nearly all of the newfound opposition is coming from women. Opposition to Obamacare rose six points among women, from 54% in November to 60% now, while opinion of the new law remained virtually unchanged among men, CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. That's bad news for an administration that is reaching out to moms across the country in an effort to make Obamacare a success. According to the survey, 43% say they oppose the health care law because it is too liberal, with 15% saying they give the measure a thumbs down because it is not liberal enough. That means half the public either favors Obamacare, or opposes it because it's not liberal enough, down four points from last month.Sixty-three percent say they believe the new law will increase the amount of money they personally pay for medical care, which may not be a good sign for a law known as the Affordable Care Act. The survey also indicates that 42% say they will be personally worse off under Obamacare, with 16% saying the law will help them, and four in 10 saying it will have no effect on them.Just over six in 10 say they believe they will be able to receive care from the same doctors that they now use, with 35% saying they will not be able to see the same doctors.The Affordable Care Act, which is the signature domestic achievement for President Barack Obama, was passed along party lines in 2010, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Since that passage, Republicans have fought to either repeal, defund, or severely restrict the law. A push by congressional conservatives to defund the law was the catalyst for October's 16-day long partial federal government shutdown, the first in nearly two decades.The roll out of the law was extremely flawed, from the rocky startup of HealthCare.gov in October to the controversy over millions of Americans being told they would lose their current insurance plans because they didn't meet standards mandated by the new health care law.Despite all the problems, the President said things are starting to improve, adding that more than 500,000 Americans enrolled in the Affordable Care Act through HealthCare.gov during the first three weeks of December. So all told, millions of Americans, despite problems with the website, are now poised to be covered by quality affordable health care, he said at a news conference.The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International December 16-19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.<a href="http://www.cnn.com" title="CNN">Source</a>
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