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February 28, 2011

Jeff Gordon wins the 2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500

Jeff Gordon wins the 2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500

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Monday, February 28, 2011

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Jeff Gordon in 2007
Image: Karen Phillips.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon, who qualified 20th, won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2011 Subway Fresh Fit 500 held on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, United States. This became his first Sprint Cup win of the season. Throughout the course of the race there were eight cautions and 29 lead changes among twelve different drivers.

Phoenix International Raceway , the race track where the race was held.
Image: Pitlane02.

With ten laps remaining in the 312 lap race, Kyle Busch was first, but Gordon passed him one lap later. Gordon maintained the lead to win the race, while Busch finished in the second position. Jimmie Johnson took third, ahead of Kevin Harvick in fourth. Ryan Newman managed the fifth position, after starting 14th on the grid. Kasey Kahne, from the Red Bull Racing Team, clinched the sixth position, after leading none of the laps during the race. Tony Stewart followed Kahne in seventh, while Kurt Busch could only manage eighth.

A. J. Allmedinger, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top ten finishers in the race. After doing his victory lap, Gordon shouted, “That’s why I love racing. Hell, yeah.” Following the race, Kyle Busch became Drivers’ Championship leader with 80 points. Next, Kurt Busch was second with 77, eight points ahead of Stewart and Allmendinger. Gordon and Mark Martin was placed fifth and sixth with 65 points. Bobby Labonte, Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and David Gilliland rounded out the top-ten point positions.

The 2011 season will continue on March 6, 2011 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 2011 Kobalt Tools 400. The race will be televised in the US on Fox at 3:00 p.m. EST.



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February 26, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery arrives at International Space Station

Space Shuttle Discovery arrives at International Space Station

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

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The Space Shuttle Discovery, flying the STS-133 mission, has successfully rendezvoused and docked with the International Space Station (ISS) today at 18:14 UTC for what is scheduled to be the final time in its career.

The Space Shuttle Discovery (pictured docked to ISS) has docked with the International Space Station for what is scheduled to be the final time on the STS-133 mission today.
Image: NASA.

Official STS-133 crew portrait. From left to right: Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Eric Boe, Steven Lindsey, Michael Barratt and Steve Bowen
Image: NASA.

Discovery is delivering six astronauts to the orbiting outpost, as well as station parts and supplies including the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4 and Robonaut2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space.

The docking, Discovery’s 13th and final scheduled docking, occurred two minutes ahead of schedule, having been originally scheduled for 19:16 GMT today.

The hatch between the space shuttle and the ISS was opened at 20:16 UTC, after which the crew members of Expedition 26 welcomed the crew of STS-133 aboard the station. The crew then participated in a safety briefing with Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly, while Shuttle Flight Director Bryan Lunney took part in a mission status briefing on the ground which began at 20:50 UTC.

Later on today, crew members Nicole Stott and Michael Barratt are scheduled to move the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4 from the payload bay using the shuttle’s robotic arm to the station’s own robot arm for placement on the exterior of the orbital laboratory.

There was a delay in the docking mechanism’s ability to make a seal between the two spacecraft during docking operations, so activities occurring later on in the day, including the transfer of ELC-4, may be delayed. This was primarily because of a mis-alignment between the docking systems of the shuttle and station due to gravitational effects. The entire delay took up approximately 40 minutes.

During Discovery’s approach to the station earlier on today, the crew of Expedition 26 took pictures of the shuttle’s underside from the station’s windows in order to assist in analysis of the heat shield of the spacecraft.

NASA officials are debating whether or not to extend the mission an additional day for a photo shoot of the International Space Station, as it is currently host to six docked spacecraft from the United States, Russia, Europe, and Japan. A decision regarding this possibility is expected on Tuesday.

STS-133 is Space Shuttle Discovery’s 39th and final scheduled mission into space and the program’s 35th mission to the ISS, as well as the 133rd in the entire Shuttle Program. There are two flights remaining before the retirement of the fleet that are still in planning: STS-134 and STS-135.



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Opposition Leader predicts \’people\’s revolt\’ in Australia over carbon tax

Opposition Leader predicts ‘people’s revolt’ in Australia over carbon tax

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Image: MystifyMe Concert Photography .

Leader of the Federal Opposition in Australia Tony Abbott has made claims Thursday during Question Time in parliament that a ‘people’s revolt’ is looming based on the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s proposal for a 2012 carbon tax.

In what Mr. Abbott describes as a “betrayal of the Australian people”, Ms. Gillard announced Thursday that a price for carbon will be put back on the national agenda, for several years, to be followed by the formation of an emissions trading scheme. In the lead up to the 2010 Federal Australian Election, Ms. Gillard claimed that while she might implement a green house gas reduction scheme, “[she would] rule out a carbon tax”.

The price on carbon will be applied to industrial and transport emissions but will not, however, affect Australia’s agriculture.

The Prime Minister’s announcement resulted in a large portion of Question Time being devoted to the issue with a Member of the Opposition being expelled from the House for disorderly conduct. Mr. Abbot then moved to censure the Prime Minister and conclude Question Time claiming “Nothing is more fake than making a promise to the Australian people before the election and breaking it after the election … I don’t believe it’s going to happen because I think there will be a people’s revolt. They will see this as an assault on their standard of living, which is exactly what it is”.

To which the Prime Minister responded “Increasingly Australians understand that the Liberal Party, under the Leader of the Opposition, is a party of the past with no real policies or plans for the nation’s future … You get judged ultimately in this Parliament by what you decide to do and what you deliver, and on this side of the Parliament we are determined that from July 1 (2012) we will price carbon.”

The Opposition claims that the proposed carbon tax will cause petrol prices to rise by A$0.065 per litre while energy bills may increase by $300 per year.



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France calls on Libyan leader to step down

France calls on Libyan leader to step down

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

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French president Nicolas Sarkozy

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has stated during a news conference that Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi “must leave,” calling the leader to step down. His comments were made during a press conference with the Turkish president Abdullah Gül in Ankara. Sarkozy also stated that military action to remove Gaddafi isn’t ruled out.

“Our stance is clear. Mr Gaddafi must go. The systematic violence against the Libyan people is unacceptable and will be the subject of investigations and sanctions. Regarding a military intervention … France would consider any initiative of this type with extreme caution and reserve,” said Sarkozy. The United Kingdom is also calling for an arms embargo along with an investigation into war crimes be conducted against Gaddafi.

Sarkozy’s call on Gaddafi to step down comes after violence on Friday alone has left at least five people dead in Tripoli, the capitol of Libya, when security personnel fired on demonstrators. At least 500 people are suspected to have been killed in Tripoli with over 2,000 injured. Gunshots were heard in several parts of the city on Friday. Navi Pillay, head of the human rights division of the United Nations says thousands in Libya could have been killed since the uprising began. Human Rights Watch puts the death toll at 300.

“We think this needs to be brought to the International Criminal Court. We also think that people who still cooperate with Gadhafi should be punished,” added Sarkozy.

Reports say security forces loyal to Gaddafi have used rocket propelled grenades, snipers, anti aircraft guns and foreign mercenaries to repel protesters. Gaddafi blames Osama bin Laden and people on hallucinogenic drugs for the mass protests in the country. “(The protesters’) ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe,” he said on Thursday.

In a speech that aired on Libyan State TV today, Gaddafi said to supporters in Green Square in Tripoli, “We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm the people. Prepare to defend the nation and defend the oil. [We can] retaliate against them [the opposition]. You, the youth, be comfortable… dance, sing, stay up all night.”



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Candle knocked over during voodoo sex ritual causes apartment fire

Candle knocked over during voodoo sex ritual causes apartment fire

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

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An elderly Brooklyn, New York woman was found dead yesterday after a fire triggered by a voodoo ceremony caused a blaze in an apartment that left dozens homeless. The details of the ceremony were not clear, but sources say it led to sex.

An unidentified woman hired a Voodoo priest for $300, identified as Nelson (Pepe) Pierre, to perform a mystic ceremony meant to bring her good luck. The woman went to Pierre’s apartment, where she ended up in bed surrounded by lit candles which were mistakenly knocked over, setting the bedsheets on fire. In an effort to suppress the flames, Pierre splashed water from the bathroom sink on the sheets while his roommate, who was ironing at the time, opened a window for air. However, according to the New York Fire Department, wind gusting through the open window created a “blowtorch effect” which caused the fire to spread to the 4th floor hallway and into the 5th and 6th floors. The blaze killed one woman, three others were severely injured, and at least 20 firefighters were left with burn wounds.

Cquote1.svg Time and time again we respond to tragedies that could have been so easily prevented … hopefully others will learn from this tragedy Cquote2.svg

—Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano

In an NYFD statement, Fire Commissioner Salvatore J. Cassano said, “Time and time again we respond to tragedies that could have been so easily prevented. This fire had so many of those elements … hopefully others will learn from this tragedy.” It took hours for hundreds of firemen from dozens of companies to bring the raging fire under control.

Pierre, a man in his 60s, did not call 911 right away, but attempted to quell the fire using water from the bathroom sink. A source in law enforcement said, “Nobody sees a crime right now. It was an accident. Maybe they weren’t careful, but they did try to put it out.”

Mary Feagin, a 64-year old retired teacher, died in the blaze.

The New York Police Department is currently investigating the incident.



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February 25, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery launches on final mission

Space Shuttle Discovery launches on final mission

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Friday, February 25, 2011

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The Space Shuttle Discovery launched on its final mission, STS-133 (crew pictured), today.
Image: NASA.

Space Shuttle Discovery launches on the STS-133 mission. (Video: NASA)

At 4:53 p.m. (EDT), Space Shuttle Discovery took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on its final mission, STS-133. Its mission is to deliver and install onto the International Space Station (ISS), the Permanent Multipurpose Module Leonardo, the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4 and provide critical spare components for the station. Six astronauts, Steve Lindsey, Eric Boe, Alvin Drew, Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt, and Steve Bowen, are participating in the mission. The shuttle is also carrying Robonaut2, the first dexterous humanoid robot to be in space. Although its first priority will be to test its operation in microgravity, upgrades could eventually allow it to fulfill its ultimate purpose of becoming an astronaut helper on boring or dangerous tasks.

The launch of Discovery, which was supposed to occur at 4:50 p.m., was delayed for three minutes due to a technical problem in the shuttle’s command system and a chipped heat shield tile near the crew hatch which needed to be patched. The launch was also repeatedly postponed since November 1 due to various technical problems with the shuttle’s systems and a hydrogen leak in the fuel tank along with cracks and bad weather. A small piece of foam broke off during the launch but NASA has reported that it is unlikely to cause problems.

Discovery and the crew of STS-133 are scheduled to spend about two weeks in space and aboard the ISS, logging 4.5 million additional miles of flight.

The launch comes just hours after an unmanned automated European cargo spacecraft, ATV-2, docked with the orbiting outpost to deliver supplies and equipment to the crew.

STS-133 is scheduled to be the final mission of Discovery, with its first being STS-41-D in 1984. Discovery flew 39 flights in its operational history, including the current mission, delivering several payloads to space including the Hubble Space Telescope and visiting two different space stations: Mir and the ISS. STS-133 is the 133rd shuttle mission and the 35th mission to the ISS. Discovery is the oldest surviving shuttle, and has flown more missions than any other shuttle. It was also the first shuttle to fly after the Challenger disaster and was the first shuttle to fly after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Later, Discovery became the first shuttle to fly a Russian cosmonaut.

After the current mission, there will be at most two remaining shuttle flights. Endeavor has one more mission remaining, and if an emergency rescue is needed or more funding is secured, Atlantis will also fly once more before the entire fleet is retired.

“The shuttle has provided an amazing capacity for this country to gather data. I think we’re still sorting through a lot of it, trying to figure out what all we’ve learned from it. This chapter in our space history known as the space shuttle has been incredible,” said Bryan Lunney, lead space shuttle flight director for the mission.



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February 24, 2011

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited to Sweden

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Correction — March 3, 2011
 
This article mentions that Mr Julian Assange was to be extradited on charges of Sexual Assault. This is incorrect. The offences specified in the Arrest Warrant were of “Sexual Molestation”, not Sexual Assault. We apologise for any offence the incorrect information may have caused.
 
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Assange at the SKUP conference for investigative journalism, Norway, March 2010.
Image: Espen Moe.

Today, a British court ordered Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, to be extradited to Sweden. Assange, a 39 year old Australian, has been accused by two Swedish women of sexual assaults against them.

Assange’s lawyers have the option of appealing against this decision, and have decided to do so. Assange has denied the claims of sexual abuse, claiming the allegations to be politically motivated because his website recently published secret US diplomatic cables. Earlier, during the hearing, Assange claimed that rape cases in Sweden were “tried in secret behind closed doors in a flagrant denial of justice”, and termed the country “the Saudi Arabia of feminism.”

Judge Howard Riddle, in his verdict, declared the allegations made by the two Swedish women a valid reason for extradition and also attested the validity of Sweden’s demand to send Assange to the country for further questioning.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, lawyer for Assange, suggested the latter could be extradited to the United States, on charges concerning the release of 250,000 US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks, where he could be sentenced to death penalty. His Swedish counterpart, Clare Montgomery QC, stated that while Assange’s trial would be held in private, the arguments raised in the trial would be released to the public. She also assured that Sweden was going to provide “protection” against the alleged risk of Assange’s extradition to the US, terming it as a “threat and violation.” The European Court of Human Rights has also agreed to intervene if Assange was subjected to an “inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial” in the US, she added.

Assange had been granted bail in December, but has been electronically monitored ever since.

Assange has been accused of raping a sleeping woman, during his visit to Stockholm last year. Another woman has alleged that the Wikileaks founder sexual assaulted her thrice. If the Swedish court declares him guilty, he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison.

Paul Stephens, the Australian ambassador to Sweden, had earlier written to the country’s Justice Minister, appealing that if Assange was extradited, his hearing “would proceed in accordance with due process and the provisions prescribed under Swedish law, as well as applicable European and international laws, including relevant human rights norms.”

Assange is likely to remain in custody, since bail is not granted in Sweden before a trial or the accused being released.



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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange granted bail, set free” — Wikinews, December 17, 2010

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Pirates kill four American hostages

Pirates kill four American hostages – Wikinews, the free news source

Pirates kill four American hostages

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

According to CBS 3, the four Americans taken hostage after their yacht was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Oman in the Indian Ocean have been killed. Pirates hijacked their yacht, named The Quest, on February 18.

The U.S. Naval ship that was following the yacht, which was traveling off the coast of Somalia, heard gunshots and attempted a rescue operation. Naval personnel had been negotiating with pirates when the incident occurred. After boarding the vessel, soldiers killed 2 pirates and detained at least 13 others. During the process they discovered that the pirates had shot and killed all four hostages.

“The forces discovered all four hostages had been shot by their captors. Despite immediate steps to provide life-saving care, all four hostages ultimately died of their wounds,” said a statement issued by the U.S. Central Command.

The hostages were identified as Scott and Jean Adam, husband and wife who owned the yacht, from Marina Del Rey, California. Their two friends were Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle from Seattle, Washington. Two other bodies were found on the yacht, believed to be pirates. The party was taking place in a race with other boats, which started in Thailand, when they decided to leave it after scheduled stop in Mumbai, India. Reports say they spent some of their time distributing bibles around the world. They changed course and were hijacked by the pirates off the coast of Oman.



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Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled amid political turmoil

Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled amid political turmoil

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

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A week after Sunni and Shi’ite youth protesters marched on the capital city of Manama, the Bahrain government informed Formula One Management that it would withdraw from hosting the Bahrain Grand Prix. The decision was made in an effort to focus on the pressing national issues facing the country. Demonstrators, who are still holding Pearl Square, had threatened to target the Media attention if the event went ahead as scheduled. The race is the opening event of the 2011 Formula One racing season.

Bahrain’s Crown Prince, HRH Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, sent a statement to Formula One Management which said, “At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain. After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

The Bahrain Grand Prix was to be held on March 13, with teams coming in within the next few weeks to prepare for the race. Formula One president and CEO Bernie Ecclestone issued a public statement saying, “It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country.” Ecclestone also noted that despite reported rumors, the Bahrain International Circuit would not be charged for their cancellation of the event, citing that he considered the political unrest to be a “force majeure” and that the events that took place could not have been predicted. “What has happened in Bahrain is desperately sad but one month ago everyone was looking forward to the race,” he said. Formula One Management will most likely have to absorb the costs related to the canceled race, estimated at around $40 million, unless it can be re-scheduled later in the season.

With the announcement from the Crown Prince that political issues would be addressed, exiled Shi’ite political leader Hassan Mushaima announced that he would return to the country. Mushaima, leader of the Haq Movement opposition party, was tried in absentia in 2009, accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Other Haq Movement members have also been arrested in recent years, but received royal pardons. While 23 members of the political movement are currently awaiting trial, on Tuesday the Bahrain government released a group of political detainees without comment, meeting one of the demands of the protesters.



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Opposition Leader predicts ‘people’s revolt’ in Australia over carbon tax

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:00 am
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Leader of the Federal Opposition in Australia, Tony Abbott has made claims during Question Time in parliament that a ‘people’s revolt’ is looming based on the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard’s proposal for a 2012 carbon tax.

In what Mr. Abbott describes as a “betrayal of the Australian people”, Ms. Gillard announced today that a price for carbon will be put back on the national agenda several years before the formation of an emissions trading scheme.In the lead up to the 2010 Federal Australian Election, Ms. Gillard claimed that although she plans to implement a green house gas reduction scheme, “[she would] rule out a carbon tax”.

Price on carbon will be applied to the industrial and transport emission but will not however, affect Australia’s agriculture – that accounts for one-third of Australia’s overall emissions.

The Prime Minister’s announcment resulted in a large portion of Question Time being devoted to the issue with a Member of the Opposition being expelled from the House for disorderly conduct. Mr. Abbot then moved to censure the Prime Minister and conclude Question Time claiming “Nothing is more fake than making a promise to the Australian people before the election and breaking it after the election […] I don’t believe it’s going to happen because I think there will be a people’s revolt. They will see this as an assault on their standard of living, which is exactly what it is”.

To which the Prime Minister responded “Increasingly Australians understand that the Liberal Party, under the Leader of the Opposition, is a party of the past with no real policies or plans for the nation’s future […] You get judged ultimately in this Parliament by what you decide to do and what you deliver, and on this side of the Parliament we are determined that from July 1 (2012) we will price carbon.”

The Opposition claims that the proposed carbon tax will cause petrol prices to rise by $0.065 a litre while energy bills may increase by $300 Australian per year.



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