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December 20, 2009

US university Penn State wins 2009 NCAA Division I volleyball championship

US university Penn State wins 2009 NCAA Division I volleyball championship

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Erasing a two-set deficit, the Penn State University Nittany Lions came from behind in dramatic fashion to win the 2009 NCAA Division 1 women’s volleyball championship over the University of Texas Longhorns, held Dec. 19 in Tampa, Florida.

Members of the 2007 Penn State national champion team with U.S. President George W. Bush in 2008.
Image: Eric Draper.

Down 2-0, Penn State won the next three sets to extend their winning streak to 102 matches and in the process earning their third consecutive volleyball title.

Texas’ Destinee Hooker led all players with 34 kills, .316 hitting percentage and collected 17 digs. National volleyball Player of the Year Megan Hodges led the Nittany Lions with 21 kills, 13 digs and 5 blocks.

The set scores were 22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-13.

Penn State, the top-ranked team in the country, had a fairly easy route to the title game, beating all but of their opponents in straight sets. In the first and second rounds, they defeated Binghamton and the University of Pennsylvania in straight sets, before sweeping Florida and California in regional action. In the semi finals, they dropped their only set of the playoffs in a 3-1 victory over Hawaii.

No. 2 Texas’ route to the championship game was as easy, defeating Texas St. (3-0) and Texas Christian (3-0) in the first two rounds. In regional action, the Longhorns defeated Texas A&M (3-0) and Nebraska (3-1) to reach the semi final, where they swept Minnesota (3-0).

The win was also number 1,001 for Penn State coach Russ Rose.



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Rage Against The Machine top UK singles chart

Rage Against The Machine top UK singles chart

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Rage Against The Machine at Big Day Out 2008

Rock band Rage Against The Machine have beaten Joe McElderry to become the UK’s official Christmas number one, following one of the biggest battles in the history of the UK Singles Chart. Their song Killing in the Name pushed the X Factor winner’s new single The Climb into second place.

A Facebook campaign backing the American band aimed to stop an X Factor winner reaching the Christmas number one spot once again. Artists from the TV talent show, owned by music mogul Simon Cowell, have taken the festive top spot for four years in a row. The group attracted over 900,000 members and widespread press attention, after it was started by Jon and Tracy Morter.

“Are you getting fed up about the possibility of ANOTHER X-Factor Christmas No.1? …us too…so we’re going to do something about it!,” they said on the group’s Facebook page. They decided to back “Killing In The Name”, first released in 1992.

Cowell had previously branded the campaign “cynical”, but on Saturday contacted the Morters to congratulate them on making a “very exciting race for the Christmas number one”. The campaign has also raised over £69,000 for homeless charity Shelter.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello had backed the campaign on Twitter. He announced that the band would play a free victory gig in the UK if they reached number one.

The result was announced on BBC Radio 1’s chart show this evening by Scott Mills. McElderry had been due to appear on the show, but did not arrive.



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Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri dies

Filed under: Iran — admin @ 5:00 am

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri dies

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri died yesterday. Montazeri had been a key leader in the 1979 Iranian revolution and at one time was expected to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as the Supreme Leader of Iran, until he fell out with Khomeini. In 1987 Montazeri had advocated for the legalisation of political parties. He had also criticsed the post-revolution regime for its brutality and the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988.

After the disputed 2009 Iranian presidential election, Montazeri supported the opposition and declared the result of the election fraudulent.

Montazeri’s grandson said that he had died peacefully in his sleep. In Najafabad, the cleric’s hometown, shops were closed and the streets full of mourners.

The Times and other news agencies reported that the Iranian authorities were concerned that the burial, due to start at 09.00 local time tomorrow in Qom, would be a focus for more opposition protests against the Iranian government. Supporters of Montazeri were reportedly already arriving in Tehran, and ParlemanNews reports that thousands of people would be attending the funeral.

The Telegraph reported that news of Montazeri’s death had sparked protests by students even before the burial, who filled university campuses chanting pro-reform slogans.



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Eurostar suspended due to cold weather

Eurostar suspended due to cold weather – Wikinews, the free news source

Eurostar suspended due to cold weather

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

File photo of a Eurostar train at St Pancras Station
Image: Oxyman.

Eurostar trains have been suspended today due to cold weather, and further snowfall is predicted in the United Kingdom, while the rail company attempts to work out what caused a series of electrical flaws on Friday.

On Friday night, more than 2,000 people were trapped in the Channel Tunnel for sixteen hours after the cold weather and condensation caused a number of electrical faults.

Calais port, in the French city where the Channel Tunnel terminates, was also closed yesterday, causing traffic problems on the roads around the English cities of Dover and Folkestone, near the tunnel’s British entrance.

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The Conservative Member of the European Parliament for the south-east of England, Nirj Deva, has called for Eurostar chief executive Richard Brown to resign, saying that it would be the “decent thing” to do in the light of “astonishing incompetence”. Brown has apologised for the incident, and said it was “absolutely unprecedented”, and conceded that “it took too long to get the trains out”.

Kent Police say that there is now very little traffic waiting for a place on the Channel Tunnel, with more than 3,500 vehicles having crossed the English Channel on ferries. Supt. Andy Rabey made a statement on the suspension: “Overnight we’ve been working very hard with our partners to clear the queues and help people get away for Christmas. If you have a crossing booked and haven’t set out yet, check with your operator before leaving home.” A Eurostar spokeswoman issued an apology, in which she said that “it’s not possible” to run services.


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Democratic holdout agrees to support health care reform in US

Democratic holdout agrees to support health care reform in US

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Official photo portrait of Ben Nelson, Democratic Senator from Nebraska

A conservative Democratic United States senator has agreed to supply the key 60th vote needed for passage of a sweeping health care reform package. Senate Democrats have reached a breakthrough in their struggle to pass sweeping heath care reform legislation, lining up the 60 votes needed to overcome fierce Republican opposition. Senators met Saturday in Washington, D.C. during a driving snowstorm in a frenzied effort to move forward on President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.

The spotlight was on moderate Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who had been the last holdout as Senate Democrats raced against the clock and against determined Republican opposition to pass their health care bill by their self-imposed deadline of December 25th, Christmas.

Cquote1.svg Change is never easy, but change is what is necessary in America today and and that is why I intend to vote for cloture, I intend to vote for cloture and for health care reform. Cquote2.svg

—Ben Nelson, Democratic Senator for Nebraska

Nelson said he is now ready to vote for cloture, which would advance the bill. “Change is never easy, but change is what is necessary in America today and and that is why I intend to vote for cloture, I intend to vote for cloture and for health care reform,” he said.

Nelson said he decided to support the bill after winning new concessions from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to limit the availability of abortions in insurance sold under the new legislation along with millions of dollars in Medicaid funding for Nebraska.

The legislation would extend health benefits to more than 30 million uninsured Americans and impose new regulations on the health insurance industry.

Senator Reid of Nevada has been working for months to win over one holdout Democratic senator after another, repeatedly altering the bill to satisfy different demands. Reid says reform is essential. “The broken system cannot continue and it will not continue. When President Obama signs this bill into law, we will officially end the era in which insurance companies win only when patients lose,” he said.

Cquote1.svg The broken system cannot continue and it will not continue. When President Obama signs this bill into law, we will officially end the era in which insurance companies win only when patients lose. Cquote2.svg

—Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority Leader

Nelson’s support should pave the way for Senate Democrats to win the first of a series of crucial procedural votes scheduled to begin at one o’clock in the morning on Monday and set to conclude — if everything goes smoothly for them — with final passage on Christmas Eve.

Republicans have been using a number of parliamentary procedures to delay action on the bill, including forcing a reading on the Senate floor Saturday of Reid’s 338-pages of last minute amendments. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky responded to the apparent Democratic breakthrough. “And Democrats are forcing a vote on it, as I indicated, over the weekend, counting on the fact that the American people are preoccupied with Christmas and not paying much attention to what they are doing,” he said.

Cquote1.svg The history that is being made here, make no mistake about it, the history that is being made here, is the ignoring of the will of the American people. Cquote2.svg

—Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Minority Leader

Republicans are unified in their opposition, saying the bill is too expensive and will not solve the problems with the current health care system. Senator McConnell dismissed claims by Democrats that the bill is historic. “The history that is being made here, make no mistake about it, the history that is being made here, is the ignoring of the will of the American people,” he said.

Senator John McCain of Arizona echoed those comments in the weekly Republican radio address saying, “Regrettably, there’s nothing in this legislation that effectively addresses the problem of health care hyperinflation. In fact, experts tell us the Democrat legislation makes matters worse.”

Democrats say they have been trying to reform the nation’s health care system for close to 70 years, ever since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut was emotional as victory seemed within reach. “All we are trying to do is to guarantee that if you are a fellow citizen of ours, and you are struck with illness or a loved one is, that you will never again have that fear, that you will end up losing your home, your job, your retirement and your life savings because you have been afflicted with an illness through no fault of your own.”

If the Senate is able to pass a bill next week, it would be viewed as a major victory for President Obama. But the bill would still need to be reconciled with a health-care reform bill passed last month by the House of Representatives before the president could sign it into law next year.



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American actress Brittany Murphy dies at age 32

American actress Brittany Murphy dies at age 32

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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American actress Brittany Murphy has died at the age of 32 in Los Angeles, California, US, according to reports. She had been married to her husband Simon Monjack since 2007.

Brittany Murphy in 2006

According to entertainment website TMZ.com, the actress had suffered a cardiac arrest in the shower of the house of her husband, Simon Monjack, and could not be revived. The Los Angeles Fire Department received a call from the house at around 0800 local time. The cause of death has not been released from a spokeswoman for Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, the location where she was pronounced dead.

She was famous for appearing in such films as Clueless, 8 Mile and Just Married. The Los Angeles Police Department has now launched an investigation into the death. Nicola Perna, who is Murphy’s publicist, has released a statement saying: “In this time of sadness, the family thanks you for your love and support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy.”

As well as the films that she has already appeared in, Brittany Murphy is expected to appear in Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables upon its release in 2010.



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