Saturday, June 30, 2012

Madoff's brother?pleads guilty to fraud charges

By staff, WNBC, and news wires

UPDATED 12:15 p.m. ET: Peter Madoff, the?brother of convicted scammer Bernie Madoff, pleaded guilty Friday to doctoring records to hide?the?Ponzi scheme orchestrated by his older sibling that swindled thousands of people out of billions of dollars and stunned the world?in?the throes of the financial crisis.

"I am deeply ashamed of my actions," he told a hearing in downtown Manhattan federal court on Friday morning, several hours after he was taken into custody by FBI agents at his lawyer's office in midtown Manhattan.

"I want to apologize to anyone who was harmed and my family. I'm here to take responsibility for my actions," Peter Madof

Peter Madoff, 66,?had been?arrested earlier?Friday at his lawyer's office in?midtown Manhattan and had been expected to enter the guilty plea for which he's expected to get 10 years in prison. He?entered the plea?in the same courthouse where his brother, 74, was convicted and sentenced in March 2009 to 150 years in prison for the largest Ponzi scheme ever.

"Peter Madoff enabled the largest fraud in human history. He will now be jailed well into old age, and he will forfeit virtually every penny he has. We are not yet finished calling to account everyone responsible for the epic fraud of Bernard Madoff and the epic pain of his many victims," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday revealed in a letter that Peter Madoff had been criminally charged with participating in his brother's fraud. He and his brother are the only?Madoff family members to have been arrested and charged in the Ponzi scheme.

The letter, filed in federal court in Manhattan, said Peter Madoff would?plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and falsifying records as well as other charges. He agreed not to seek a sentence other than 10 years in prison, the letter said.

Peter Madoff also agreed to forfeit about $143.1 billion, including all real and personal property, the letter said. The amount is symbolic, being more than twice the estimated size of the fraud.

John Wing, a lawyer for Peter Madoff, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peter Madoff was chief compliance officer at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC when his brother was arrested on December 11, 2008.

Prosecutors have not said whether criminal cases are also being prepared against Bernard Madoff's son, Andrew, who was co-director of trading, or his niece, Shana, who was a compliance officer at the firm.

In May, Irving Picard, the trustee seeking money for victims of the Ponzi scheme, named members of Madoff's family in an expanded $255.3 million lawsuit, claiming they should have detected Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme at the firm that operated "as if it were their family piggy bank."

Besides Madoff's brother Peter, Picard sued Andrew Madoff, who was co-director of trading; the estate of son Mark, co-director of trading who committed suicide in December 2010; and Shana Madoff.

In the lawsuit, Picard described Peter Madoff as a savvy investor who once served as vice-chairman of the board of governors of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Picard is seeking $90.4 million from Peter, $81.3 million from Mark Madoff's estate, $73.8 million from Andrew and $15.3 million from Shana.

Lawyers for Andrew and Shana Madoff did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Between 1993 and 2008, Peter Madoff was paid over $36 million in salary and bonuses, Picard said, and the firm funded his lavish lifestyle, including $140,000 for a Ferrari in 1995 and a home on Manhattan's upscale Park Avenue.

Peter Madoff is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and mail fraud as well as making false statements about the firm's compliance program and investment advisory business.

He is also charged with falsifying records.

About a dozen people have now been implicated in criminal wrongdoing related to the Madoff firm.

Five have pleaded not guilty: Annette Bongiorno, Daniel Bonventre, Joann Crupi, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.

Frank DiPascali, the former chief financial officer often called Bernard Madoff's right-hand man, pleaded guilty in August 2009 and has been praised by prosecutors for his cooperation. He has yet to be sentenced.

Picard has estimated customers of the Madoff firm lost about $20 billion. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling on the trustee's methods for calculating losses. That decision could help Picard repay customers faster.?

Reuters contributed to this report.???

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U.S. "Genius" visa attracts entrepreneurs and Playmates

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Shera Bechard, the Canadian-born former girlfriend of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner, would not be an obvious candidate for the special visas that the U.S. government reserves for "individuals with extraordinary ability."

Playboy magazine named Bechard Miss November in 2010, and she also started an online photo-sharing craze called "Frisky Friday." Neither seems quite on the level of an "internationally recognized award, such as a Nobel Prize," which the government cites as a possible qualification.

But Los Angeles immigration lawyer Chris Wright argued that Bechard's accomplishments earned her a slot. The government ultimately agreed.

That kind of success has put Wright on the map as the go-to visa fixer for both Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It also highlights the use of so-called genius visas known as O-1s and EB-1s, which have largely escaped political controversy and are now the immigration solution of choice for many entrepreneurs.

[Related: 102-year-old man becomes U.S. citizen]

As many immigration lawyers see it, the paucity of immigration options for the most entrepreneurial foreigners mean they must use any avenue they can. This approach, along with seeming flexibility in Washington on what constitutes "extraordinary ability," means the O-1 is gaining traction in technology circles. Wider use could ultimately land it in political trouble.

For example, the H-1B visa, which allows employers to hire foreigners temporarily in certain specialized fields like technology, has drawn accusations from union groups and others that companies use it to bring in lower-skilled labor.

The O-1 visa allows individuals of "extraordinary ability" to come to the United States for up to three years, and can be extended. British journalist Piers Morgan used one when he replaced Larry King on his late-night TV show, Wright said.

The EB-1 is similar, but leads to a green card and permanent residency rather than a temporary stay, with "extraordinary ability" being one of the ways to qualify - along with being an outstanding professor or researcher, or a multinational executive.

[Related: Ariz. implements immigration law as feds push back]

Foreign entrepreneurs have another option - the Immigrant Investor Program, or EB-5 visa - but it requires a capital investment of at least $500,000 and the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

By contrast, no proof of personal wealth or investment in the United States is required for the O-1 or the EB-1.

There is also no cap on the number of O-1s that the government can award each year; about 12,280 were approved in 2011, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said, up from 9,478 in 2006. It issued about 25,000 EB-1s last year, below their cap of 40,000.

The H-1B is much more popular. Applications hit their annual cap of 85,000 earlier this month.


While high-profile artists and entertainers have long used the O-1s, they are now becoming a fallback for businessmen and technologists who cannot get H1-Bs.

Josh Buckley, a 20-year-old British-born entrepreneur and a client of Wright's, is among the new crop of Internet entrepreneurs to win an O-1 visa. He applied after starting a few small companies, including one he sold at age 15 for a sum reaching the low six figures, he says.

He got his O-1 last year after lining up letters of recommendation from luminaries including Netscape co-founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Buckley, whose MinoMonsters gaming company is backed by Andreessen, saw little choice other than the O-1. The H-1B was off limits because it usually does not go to people who work for themselves. The O-1, unlike most H-1Bs, also does not require a college education--a key feature for the ever-younger entrepreneurs flocking to Silicon Valley.

[Related: Six things to know about U.S. immigration]

Except when it comes to the O-1, visa officials "just don't understand the concept of someone being skilled without 12 years of experience or a bachelor's degree," says John Collison, a 22-year-old Irishman. He dropped out of Harvard University to work on Stripe, the payments company he co-founded with his brother, Patrick.

Like Buckley, he met Wright through the prestigious Silicon Valley start-up incubator known as Y Combinator. He won his O-1 in December 2010 and now has permanent residency status-- as does Buckley.

Wright, himself a South African immigrant, dismisses the notion that some of his clients might not rise to the level of "extraordinary ability."

"There's nothing in those regulations that requires you to be a genius," he says. "It's quite condescending to say, ?Oh, the idiot Playboy Playmates, they don't qualify.'"

At the end of 2010, Bechard posted the first "Frisky Friday" photo on the Twitter microblogging service. Now young women all over the world tweet scantily-clad pictures of themselves on Fridays, with Playboy selecting a weekly winner.

Immigration officials "want to give (a visa) to someone who shows business skills," Bechard says. She also threw in such qualifications as her role as a mute Russian in a 2009 movie, "Sweet Karma," which won her a best actress award at the cult Fantastic Film Festival in Austin, Texas.


Many of Wright's young technology clients have had limited time to show they have "risen to the very top of the field of endeavor," as O-1 regulations state.

But quality rather than longevity is the key, Wright says. USCIS rules require extraordinary ability -- demonstrated by "sustained national or international acclaim" -- that he says his clients can prove with awards and testaments from leading players in their field.

The visas are "a lot of work," he said. "You can't just crank them out at high volume."

Asked about how it decides to grant O-1s, a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service spokeswoman said: "USCIS decides each benefit request on a case-by-case basis relying on the law and evidence provided for that case. There are a variety of factors that influence the number of visa applications received and approved from year to year."

Wright says he hopes that one day, immigration reform will make it easier for talented immigrants, especially entrepreneurs, to come to this country. That is a widespread goal in Silicon Valley, where immigrant entrepreneurs have helped start many leading companies. Google Inc co-founder Sergey Brin, for example, came to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was a child.

The immigrant entrepreneurs say that far from taking away jobs, they are creating them by founding companies that may go on to employ hundreds or even thousands of people.

They have managed to find allies even among the harshest critics of H-1Bs.

"The O-1 is one of the few visas we support," said Kim Berry, a spokesman for the Programmers Guild, which favors the suspension of the H-1B program. "When they need to bring in the best and the brightest and the entrepreneurs, that's the only visa that helps America."

Indeed, efforts to make it easier for educated and enterprising foreigners to stay in the United States generally enjoy bi-partisan support in Washington. The complicated status of the immigration issue as a whole, though, has blocked any changes.

"The issue is pretty well understood," said Steve Case, the founder of AOL and now head of the venture capital firm Revolution LLC. "But there is this skepticism around the politics of immigration."

Thus the O-1 will probably remain a key channel for many immigrant entrepreneurs - and it does carry some additional side benefits.

British-born Scott Allison, co-founder of a software company called Teamly, was returning to the United States earlier this month and enjoyed a rare welcome from customs officials after they caught a glimpse of his new O-1 visa.

"'Wow, you must be really awesome,'" he recalls one commenting before waving him through. "I'm like, 'Gee, thanks.'"

(Reporting By Sarah McBride; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Lisa Von Ahn)

Playboy Has Some Famous Faces Returning To The Cover:


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TSN?s Friday Night Football begins road to 100th Grey Cup

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"Magic Mike": The Reviews Are In!

Steven Soderbergh's latest, starring Channing Tatum, manages to be both 'compelling' and a 'funny, enjoyable romp,' critics say.
By Kara Warner

Channing Tatum in "Magic Mike"
Photo: Warner Bros


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Friday, June 29, 2012

Report: RIM Might Look to Windows 8 for Salvation [Rim]

Despite RIM CEO Thorsten Heins' bluster yesterday afternoon about how BlackBerry needs to stick with its own—hopelessly delayed—platform, Reuters reports that the company is indeed seeking out other options. Windows 8, specifically. Which, uh, guys? Not sure how much that's gonna help. More »


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Fast-Growing Luxury Vacation Club Inspirato Quietly Brings In $15.5M From DAG and Millenium

Screen Shot 2012-06-28 at 3.25.19 PMCollaborative consumption?-- generally, marketplaces for buying and selling access to products and services -- have been defined recently by startups like?TaskRabbit and Zaarly?for tasks, or short-term rental service Airbnb. But Inspirato is bringing the concept to the luxury vacation market, driving down the cost of renting Tuscan villas, Napa cottages, and even a seaborne yacht coming next July.?And it's doing well enough that it decided to raise another $15.5 million this past month from DAG Ventures?and Millenium Technology Value Partners, we learned from a regulatory filing that hit this week.


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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Native species fight back: First evidence of coevolution between invasive, native species

ScienceDaily (June 28, 2012) ? Invasive species such as kudzu, privet and garlic mustard can devastate ecosystems, and, until now, scientists had little reason to believe that native plants could mount a successful defense.

A new University of Georgia study shows that some native clearweed plants have evolved resistance to invasive garlic mustard plants -- and that the invasive plants appear to be waging a counterattack. The study, published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is thought to provide the first evidence of coevolution between native and invasive plant species.

"The implications of this study are encouraging because they show that the native plants aren't taking this invasion lying down," said study author Richard Lankau, assistant professor of plant biology in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "It suggests that if you were to take a longer view -- a timescale of centuries -- that exotic species could become integrated into their communities in a way that is less problematic for the natives."

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was introduced to the U.S. from Europe roughly 150 years ago first in New York and Virginia and then to the Chicago area. The noxious plant continues to spread rapidly throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast. "It's a pretty well-hated plant," Lankau said, because it can form dense carpets in forest understories and, even after being physically removed from an area, can reestablish itself within a year.

Much of the plant's success is a result of the chemical warfare it wages with a compound known as sinigrin, which kills fungi that help native plants extract nutrients from the soil. The chemical is relatively new to North America, and this novelty gives garlic mustard a huge competitive advantage.

Through a series of greenhouse and field experiments conducted over three years in five states, Lankau has shown that invasive garlic mustard produces more sinigrin in areas where more local plants are present. He found that native clearweed (Pilea pumila) plants, which were chosen for the study because they occupy the same forest understory habitat, show higher levels of resistance to sinigrin in areas where the two species have a longer history of coexistence.

"It looks like the native plants have evolved in response to the traits of the invader," Lankau said.

In addition to transplanting clearweed seeds back to their sites of origin, Lankau also planted them in all of the other study sites and monitored their growth. Each site has its unique soil chemistry and climate, and Lankau said he expected the plants to exhibit a home-field advantage. Instead, he found that native plants resistant to the invader did best in heavily invaded sites, regardless of where they originated. Surprisingly, he found that plants resistant to sinigrin actually did worse than their less-resistant-plant counterparts in areas where there was little or no garlic mustard.

"It's not all good for those populations that are evolving tolerance," Lankau said. "Because they are less successful in the absence of garlic mustard, their resistance to the invasive species comes at a cost."

Taken together, the findings suggest that the native and invasive species could reach equilibrium over a long period of time. Lankau said the study also raises the possibility that humans can help speed the adaptation of ecosystems to invasive species. He explained that removing invasive species and replanting natives often results in failure but replacing invasive species with native plants from an area where the plants have had time to adapt to the invader could be more effective. Rather than replanting clearweed from a recently invaded site in Michigan, for example, land managers could use plants from New York that are more likely to be resistant to garlic mustard.

"When people talk about evolution, it's usually in the past tense," Lankau said. "But one of the important messages from this study is that it's an ongoing process that can happen fast. And this study suggests that we might be able to jumpstart that process through evolutionarily informed management."

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Georgia. The original article was written by Sam Fahmy.

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

Journal Reference:

  1. R. A. Lankau. Coevolution between invasive and native plants driven by chemical competition and soil biota. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1201343109

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

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Pitch Perfect: expert tips to snag an agent ? Midwest Writers Workshop

Pitch Perfect: expert tips to snag an agent

Meet Chuck Sambuchino!

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor for Writer?s Digest Books (an imprint of F+W Media) and is the editor of Guide to Literary Agents as well as Children?s Writer?s & Illustrator?s Market. He also oversaw the third edition of Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript. Chuck has instructed on writing and publishing at more than 50 writing events in the past five years, including presentations in Italy and Canada, and he is sometimes one of the conference?s keynote speakers. His humor book, How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack (2010), was featured by Reader?s Digest, USA Today, The New York Times and AOL News.

Chuck is also a writer and freelance editor. He is a produced playwright, with both original and commissioned works produced. He is a magazine freelancer, with more than 600 of his articles appearing in print. His website?the Guide to Literary Agents blog?is one of the largest blogs on writing & publishing.

Chuck is the the keynote speaker for the opening of MWW Part II on Thursday evening. You will not want to miss his presentation, Mastering the In-person Pitch.? This is a chance for Part II participants to practice their ?agent pitch.?? Chuck will critique the pitch for all to hear. Individuals can pitch or simply attend to listen in on other pitches. It?s an opportunity for writers to rehearse their elevator pitch before sitting face-to-face with agents. This session targets fiction and nonfiction writers, both novice and intermediate; and it breaks down what needs to be in a pitch, and what NOT to include in a pitch. Chuck will listen to sample pitches to help you prepare for your pitch with an agent on Friday or Saturday.

New this year, MWW offers a Query Critique with Chuck Sambuchino (or Jane Friedman). For an additional fee of $35, you can meet for a 10-minute one-on-one consultation with either Chuck or Jane. The deadline is July 1st, so register NOW if you want to take advantage of this great opportunity!

MWW intern Linda Taylor recently interviewed Chuck about his appearance at this summer?s workshop.

Q. First and most important, my husband and I have a few garden gnomes in our yard, several around our house, and one on the flag out front that says ?Welcome Gnome.? I assume?we should be worried?

Very worried. Gnomes cannot be trusted under any circumstances. These gnomes outside are no doubt probing your outer defenses at this very minute, looking for weaknesses.

Q. Second, and more on a serious note, how does such an unusual and interesting?idea like that become a book? What do you tell potential authors about their ideas for books?even the really unusual ideas??(After all, someone thought putting Jane Austen with zombies would be a good idea . . .)

Nonfiction books simply need three elements to come to life: 1) a unique or interesting idea, 2) proof that an audience exists to buy it, and 3) an author with platform who can sell books. Even very unusual ideas, such as GNOME, can come to life, as long as those three elements are in place. From a writing perspective, you would pitch a book on New York architecture the same way you would pitch one on a history of unicorns: by addressing elements 1, 2 and 3.

Q. Briefly describe your journey as a writer?from your bio on your blog, you appear to have done a lot?of types of writing?from newspapers and magazines, to writing scripts, to writing articles and books (the latter ranging from resource manuals to humor). When did you first decide to become a writer and how did your path lead you to where you are today?

In high school, I was always the one in the group who could tell a story the best. I didn?t realize it, but that was the origin of me as a writer. In college, I majored in public relations and then decided I didn?t want a job in PR, so I took an entry-level position with a weekly newspaper when out of school. I got promoted to reporter and also started freelancing for magazines on the side. This gave me some writing cred when I applied to Writer?s Digest Books. Once I joined WD books, I started writing plays and books, and saw success with both. During the day, I am an editor for WD Books, and during the night, I write humor books and screenplays. (That?s the short version, but no one would have the desire, nor patience to read the long version.)

Q. What advice, then, do you have for young writers? for older writers?

I could speak on this question for one week straight and still have advice to give. But I will say this: No matter if you are old or young, some across-the-board pieces of advice for writers include 1) keep moving forward and do not give up, 2) build your writer platform and make connections with other people, and 3) always write the best book possible, because the cream rises to the top.

Q. At the Midwest Writers Workshop, you?re teaching on several topics, including ?Mastering the In-Person Pitch.? That?s probably one of the most frightening parts of being a writer?working on a computer composing pages is one thing, having to then do a ?sales job? in order to get that book published is quite another. What do you say to allay those fears and help even the most introverted writer?

I will cover the nuts & bolts of all this in my speech at the event. But writers should know that agents understand how nervous writers get, so they?re pretty patient with everything. Also, pitching a book means following a step-by-step formula. Once you know what to address, then it?s all a matter of filling in the blanks.

Q. Another session topic is ?Chapter 1 Do?s and Don?ts.? What?s the worst way to start a book? Do you have an example (beyond Snoopy?s ?It was a dark and stormy night . . .?)?

Avoid descriptions of the weather. Don?t start with a dream. Try not to be inside of a character?s head for very long or at all.

Q. Your third topic is ?The Business of Scriptwriting.? Did you find it to be an easy or natural transition to scriptwriting from all of the other types of writing you do? What is most rewarding and/or most challenging about scriptwriting?

?Scriptwriting? means writing plays and/or screenplays. I wrote plays before I did anything else. Now I?m trying screenplays. It?s an unusual transition, but there are upsides. When your work becomes a play, then the written dialogue is king, and it?s very rewarding to hear an audience erupt in laughter or be as quiet as can be when listening to your words. The reward with screenwriting is writing in a visual medium, and that the pay is much better than most writing assignments.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add, which might include hints on your philosophy/approach to writing and/or your teaching style?

Not really. I teach at a lot of writers conferences. I love meeting writers. I am happy to talk with anyone at the event who has a question or five about their journey. I will see you all soon!

Note: Chuck?s Part II Sessions:

  • Chapter 1 Dos and Don?ts ? This workshop examines that all-important Chapter 1.? It spends a lot of time going over what not to do-listing clich?s and overused techniques that repeatedly pop up in chapter 1 manuscripts, with comments from agents and editors alike. Following a discussion of agent pet peeves, the workshop addresses what writers should be doing to draw readers in.
  • Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published Panel [Cathy Day, moderator]; with Jane Friedman, Kathleen Rooney, JL Stermer
  • The Business of Scriptwriting: You?ve Written a Play or Screenplay-Now What? ? This workshop examines what writers need to do if they?ve finished that play or screenplay and don?t know what to do now.? We?ll address targeting markets, getting plays read/workshopped, writing script queries, the difference between agents and managers, and more.? Everything is discussed, from writing and rewriting to contests and dealing with directors. Handouts provided.? It?s not a session about craft; it?s a session about business-for writers who have a script and no idea what to do with it.

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How Not to Speak Finnish by Jim Thompson | International Crime ...

I?ve posted a pronunciation guide of some Finnish names, words and phrases to be found in my Inspector Vaara series, on my website, courtesy of she of the lovely voice, Maritta Hakola. I?m frequently asked how long it took me to learn to speak Finnish. The answer: I?m still learning and always will be.

I have a minor in Finnish from the University of Helsinki, but learned the language in nightclubs, in which I worked, for the first several years I lived here. That learning method caused all sorts of problems. I learned like a child, one word at a time, matriced English grammar on top of Finnish language, often was uncertain whether a word was Finnish or Swedish, the list is long, and it led to all sorts of bad habits, I?ve un-learned most of them, but never managed to get many of them out of my speech. Still, my Finnish is functional and gets me through the day. Additionally, there are so many dialects of Finnish that although many cite ?book? Finnish as correct, I don?t believe there is a right or wrong way to speak the language. Word order isn?t particularly important. It?s even acceptable to create words. To me, if people manage to carry on a conversation, their Finnish is fine, but I?m writing this in the hopes that, if you?re trying to learn the language, I can make it a little easier for you.

It?s often said, although I know of no measure by which such a thing could be quantified, that Finnish is the world?s second most difficult language, behind Mandarin Chinese. In contradiction, it?s also said that the rules of the language are 100% consistent, and is always pronounced exactly as spelled, so that if approached methodically, Finnish is an easy language to learn. I take exception to this. When studying at the university and on occasion asked an instructor why a word didn?t bend according to the rules, her answer was ?just because.? A simple truth. There are some differences in spelling and pronunciation, largely loan words. And even if this claimed consistency were true, learning the rules seems futile when there are about 100,000 of them (an exaggeration, but thousands, far too many for my tiny brain to absorb). In the end, I found that the key was to not worry about the rules or to ask questions, but to approach the language with simple acceptance. With seventeen noun cases and six verb conjugations, which many times render the root word unrecognizable, it works better for me to memorize than theorize.

So-called ?book Finnish??proper written Finnish?is taught at the university, and a great deal more emphasis is placed on writing than speaking (despite two years of study, my written Finnish remains abysmal). This is problematic. Properly written Finnish is nearly a separate dialect from colloquial spoken Finnish in its other many dialectic forms. Foreign students often earn degrees in Finnish language, believing it will make them fluent, and this sometimes leads to disappointment. They graduate, discover that they can write and even translate Finnish, but can?t hold a conversation. I co-authored a textbook, Steps Into English 3 (part a series of I think four books), meant to teach English to Finnish adult learners. It?s earned surprisingly good royalties over the years and so must be popular with teachers in the classroom. So I hope that gives me some credibility with you as proof that I have a clue what I?m talking about. I?m writing this from memory, no resources, so if you find a mistake, feel free to correct me in ?comments?, for the further edification of readers.

As an English speaker?and this essay is largely geared toward English speakers who face the same problems I did and do?there are concepts difficult to grasp. To name some major ones: no articles; no gender marker; no future tense; rather than hyphenating words, they?re simply strung together, sometimes to make a word upwards of twenty letters long; no accenting of syllables, so the language is spoken in a monotone; some sounds don?t exist in English and are similar, e.g., recognizing the difference between Y (a vowel in Finnish) and ? was difficult for me; when letters are doubled in a word, they?re both pronounced. AA?pretend you?re at the doctor, ?let me here you say aaaa;? consonants, like TT and KK can?t be elongated an a vowel can, so the result is a sort of snapping emphasis and full stop (you need a language tape or Finnish friend to grasp it).

The language has many hard sounds, and this, along with the combination of the noted difficulties, may make the beginner feel that they?re only hearing akkkakkakkakkakkaa, and are unable to differentiate where one word ends and the next begins. Most of the above obstacles disappear, with exposure, over time, even the overwhelming length of words. You just get used to it.

When I reached the point that I could get through my day in Finnish, people still often looked at me like I had three heads, as my accent screamed foreigner. I hated drawing that attention to myself. Finnish and English not only don?t translate well, but Finnish spoken with an English accent is grating, truly a butchery and hard to listen to. I learned how to cure this problem in one day, through a lecture at the university on how the sounds produced in Finnish are physically made, as compared to the way sounds are produced in English. Once I practiced and learned these physical skills, although my accent remains soft compared to a natural born Finn, I lost two of my three heads and stopped attracting attention when I spoke. I?ll share some of those tips.

English is a nasal language. When speaking Finnish, don?t let air come up through your nasal passage. It?s that nasal twang that grates. The New England accent?think Robert F. Kennedy as an extreme example, can reach up to 4000 HZ. In Finnish, it hurts. A Finnish male voice can sink to as low 40 HZ, so low that the voice begins breaking up like a radio that needs better tuning to a station. If I speak only Finnish for a few weeks on end, my voice will get lower and lower and eventually will do that. Incidentally, I?ve always been fascinated because Finns, especially women, can continue speaking while inhaling without pause. I haven?t a clue how it?s done.

Finnish is spoken from a different part of the throat than English. Put three fingers on your throat and start talking. Move the top finger to where you feel the main vibration as you produce sound. Continue speaking and force the vibration lower, until sound is generated from where your lowest finger rests. Lower if possible. Voila! You may have reduced your tone by an octave, your grating on the ears of others is over. It sounds difficult, but after you get the hang of it, speaking in this way requires much less effort and is more comfortable than your higher pitched English accent. You?ll draw far less attention and go back to having one head instead of three in public.

Aspiration. I still sometimes have trouble with this. Don?t do it. When you make, for instance, a P sound, don?t let air pass beyond your lips. The combination of all I?ve mentioned will likely, for a time, make you feel as if you?re holding your breath while trying to talk. It will come to feel natural over time.

The: the TH sound. It?s made by touching the front of your tongue to your front teeth and pushing air out. You no longer need this sound, and remember, you shouldn?t aspirate anyway. Make a similar sound required in Finnish by putting your tongue to the back of your front teeth. The result is more DA or TA sound. You may find you feel like you?re faking a Brooklyn accent and it make stick in your English speech as well. That?s just the way it goes.

And lastly, the all-important rolling of Rs. Touch your tongue to the top front of your upper palate. Force air through that point until you?re able to make a low-pitched trill. You may want to do this in privacy to avoid feeling silly. A few Finns have a speech impediment that won?t allow it, so they use the same tactic, but with the back of the tongue against the back of the palate, in effect, rolling Ks. I even met a guy who had, through lifelong practice, managed to eliminate all words with the letter R from his speech. But, it?s really not that hard to roll an R. You?ll find a way.

And here endeth the lesson for the day. Go forth and jabber Finnish!

James Thompson
Helsinki, Finland

James Thompson is an established author in Finland. His novel, Snow Angels, the first in the Inspector Vaara series, was released in the U.S. by Putnam and marked his entrance into the international crime fiction scene. Booklist named it one of the ten best debut crime novels of 2010, and it was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Strand Critics awards. His second Vaara novel, Lucifer?s Tears, released in March, 2011, earned starred reviews from all quarters, and was named one the best novels of the year by Kirkus. The third in the series, Helsinki White, was released on March 15 to critical acclaim.


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14 ex-soldiers jailed in Serbia for war crimes

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Some Thoughts on Overseas Investing in U.S. Real Estate - SGTreport

by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds:

Overseas investor buying of U.S. real estate is a consequence of trade deficits that have built up huge surpluses of U.S. dollars that must be recycled into dollar-denominated assets. Perhaps we should welcome the investment as both necessary and positive.

What few media pundits seem to grasp is that when our trade deficits transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to other nations, those dollars have to end up in dollar-denominated assets like bonds, stocks or real estate. Mish of Mish?s Global Economic Analysis has tirelessly explained this dynamic many times: when U.S. dollars (USD) end up in another country as a result of our gargantuan trade deficits, the dollars don?t just vanish into some other currency. One way or another, they have to flow into one dollar-denominated asset or another.

Many people have missed the difference between dollars used to settle accounts and dollars held as a result of trade deficits. Many of those emotionally wedded to the belief that the U.S. dollar is doomed gleefully grabbed onto the news that China and Japan will swap currencies directly (yen and yuan) rather than intermediate the trade with U.S. dollars. This was mistakenly seen as a nail in the coffin of the USD.

Read More @

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Surgeons Seek Repeal of Transplant Ban Between HIV-Positive People

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hypertension and Heart Failure | Diet-Fitness-Health-Healthy Aging

Hypertension and Heart Failure

We have heard that high blood pressure is bad for you, but how does this affect your heart? A look into how hypertension can change the cardiac cycle and why double bacon cheeseburgers might not be a heart-healthy snack.

??? Watch More Videos at Effects of alcoholic liver disease, liver cirrhosis- causes portal hypertension. The effects are due to increase hydrostatic pressure and back up of blood flow which are unable to flow through the the portal system.


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Here's Proof Your Windows Phone Will Look Great Even if You're "Screwed" Out of the Upgrade [Video]

Following Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 reveal, plenty of owners were salty over what they considered the ultimate betrayal: not a single WP on the market was eligible for the super upgrade. But please, don't fret! The consolation prize is awesome. More »

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First Fukushima seafood sold since nuke crisis

The first seafood caught off Japan's Fukushima coastline since last year's nuclear disaster went on sale Monday, but the offerings were limited to octopus and marine snails because of persisting fears about radiation.

Octopus and whelk, a kind of marine snail, were chosen for the initial shipments because testing for radioactive cesium consistently measured no detectable amounts, according to the Fukushima Prefectural (state) fishing cooperative. They were caught Friday and boiled so they last longer while being tested for radiation before they could be sold Monday.

Flounder, sea bass and other fish from Fukushima can't be sold yet because of contamination. It was unclear when they will be approved for sale as they measure above the limit in radiation set by the government. The government is testing for radioactive iodine as well, but its half-life is shorter than cesium and thus is less worrisome.

"It was crisp when I bit into it, and it tasted so good," said Yasuhiro Yoshida, who oversees the seafood section at York Benimaru supermarket in Soma, which sold out of about 30 kilograms (65 pounds) of the snails and 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of the octopus that had been shipped to the store.

Japan: Fukushima nuclear pool not unstable

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year left the coastlines of northeastern Japan devastated, and displaced tens of thousands of people. Entire towns were contaminated by the radiation leaking from Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, where three reactors went into meltdowns.

"I was filled with both uncertainty and hope today, but I was so happy when I found out the local supermarket had sold out by 3 p.m.," said Hirofumi Konno, an official in charge of sales at the fishing cooperative in Soma city in coastal Fukushima.

PhotoBlog: 36 views of the Fukushima exclusion zone

He said he hoped crabs would be next to go on sale as radiation had not been detected in them, but he acknowledged things will take time, perhaps years, especially for other kinds of fish. Radiation amounts have been decreasing, but cesium lasts years.

The octopus and snail were selling at almost half of what they fetched before the disaster, he said. But he said people were buying Fukushima seafood to show support for local fishermen. The items were available locally but not in the whole prefecture or the Tokyo area.

Interactive quiz: Seafood shuffle

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Nobuyuki Yagi, a University of Tokyo professor studying the fisheries industry after the disaster, said serious concerns remain over whether anyone would buy Fukushima fish, and the key lay in finding the types of fish that don't store radioactive elements.

"Fishing cannot survive unless people buy the fish. That may seem obvious, but Fukushima is facing up to this," he said in a statement earlier this month.

Japan to lift entry ban on nuclear no-go zones

Farmlands have also been contaminated, and every grain of rice will be tested at harvest in some areas before they can be sold. The image of Fukushima produce has been seriously tarnished, and worried consumers, especially those with children, are shunning Fukushima-grown food.

"We are in for the long haul," Konno said in a telephone interview.

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

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More Mental Health Woes in College Kids Who Abuse Prescription Drugs news

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Syria warns NATO against action over Turkish plane

ANKARA/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria described its shooting down of a Turkish warplane as an act of self-defense and warned Turkey and its NATO allies against any retaliatory measures.

In shell-shattered districts of Homs, heart of a 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, rebels battled troops as aide workers tried to evacuate civilians. Turkish television reported the desertion of a Syrian general and other officers across the border.

Syria's account of Friday's shooting down, though tempered with commitment to a "neighborly relationship", seemed likely to further anger Ankara, which has summoned a NATO meeting on Tuesday over what it calls an unprovoked attack in international air space.

"NATO is supposed to be there to strengthen countries," Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told a Damascus news conference. "If their meeting is for hostile reasons (they should know that) Syrian land and waters are sacred."

Turkey say the wreckage of the aircraft, shot down close to the Mediterranean maritime borders of both states, is lying in deep water. Makdissi said some flotsam had been found and turned over to Turkey. There was no word on the two airmen. ID:nL5E8HO0II]

"The plane disappeared and then reappeared in Syrian airspace, flying at 100 meters altitude and about 1-2kms (0.6-1.2 miles) from the Syrian coast," he said. "We had to react immediately, even if the plane was Syrian we would have shot it down."

"The Syrian response was an act of defense of our sovereignty carried out by anti-aircraft machinegun which has a maximum range of 2.5 km."

In Ankara, Turkish air force chiefs briefed both President Abdullah Gul, the commander of the armed forces, and the cabinet on what Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said would be a "decisive" response. Turkey also said it would take the matter to the United Nations Security Council.


Though not known for his emotional restraint, Erdogan has eschewed bellicose rhetoric over the incident, aware perhaps of Western reluctance to commit to any military action and wary himself of anything that could trigger a regional sectarian war.

According to Ankara's account, the aircraft entered Syrian airspace briefly and by mistake while on a mission to test Turkish air defenses.

Some analysts have suggested it might in fact have been testing the responsiveness of Russian-supplied Syrian radar that would be a major obstacle to any foreign intervention, including supply of Syrian rebels or reconnaissance support.

"I'm not of the opinion that Turkey will immediately respond militarily," agreed Beril Dedeoglu of Galatasaray University. "But if there is another action, then there will certainly be a military response, there is no doubt."

Erdogan turned against former ally Assad after he refused his advice to bow to demands for reform. He now allows the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) to use Turkish territory as a safe haven, though Ankara denies supplying arms.

Over 30,000 refugees are also accommodated On Turkish soil.

After Friday's attack, Erdogan invoked an article in NATO's founding treaty providing for urgent consultations if a member considers its security interests threatened.

Had he sought some kind of retaliation from the NATO meeting set for Tuesday, he could have invoked another article on mutual defense. That he did not, suggests the reaction will remain at least for now, on the diplomatic stage.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg called for a calm response from Turkey, saying they would increase pressure on Assad.

"Military intervention in Syria is out of the question," said Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal. "It is not a matter of consideration for the Dutch government. That is also at stake in the ... context of NATO."


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was again trying to arrange a safe evacuation of trapped civilians from Homs. But anti-government activists reported heavy shelling on central districts, including Jouret al-Shiyah and al-Qarabis. Video showed detonations and machinegun bursts from the skeletal shells of abandoned apartment blocks.

The activist Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad's troops carried out raids and arrests in areas still under army control, and heavy fighting between government forces and rebel fighters was reported in the opposition centers of Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Deraa, the birthplace of the uprising.

"In Deraa, regime regular troops are trying to reassert control of some villages with heavy shelling, gunfire and helicopters firing missiles," the Observatory said in an email. "People are fleeing villages because they know the army is trying to push out the rebels," it said.

A Syrian general, two colonels, two majors, a lieutenant and their families - altogether 199 people - crossed the border into Turkey overnight, CNN Turk said. Thirteen Syrian generals are now in Turkey which is giving logistical support to the Free Syrian Army.

The new defections from Assad's armed forces could encourage those awaiting a disintegration of Assad's army. But there has been little indication of a broader trend to desertion in senior ranks, bound often to Assad by their Alawite background.

Alawites make up 90 percent of the officer corps. Such Sunni generals as there are tend to serve in administrative roles rather than field commands, their religious adherence making them in authorities' eyes more likely to sympathize with Sunni rebels.

The United Nations has said more than 10,000 people have been killed by government forces, while Syria has said at least 2,600 members of the military and security forces have been killed by what it calls foreign-backed "Islamist terrorists."

The intensification of the fighting has raised fears in Turkey of a flood of refugees and a slide into ethnic and religious warfare that could envelop the region. Ankara, like the West, is torn between a wish to remove Assad and the fear that any armed intervention could unleash uncontrollable forces.

(Additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Ayla Jean Yackley in Ankara, Oliver Holmes and Mirna Sleiman in Beirut and Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman; Writing by Jon Hemming)

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Fitness fitness conscious people how to do business ? Yoga Netipot ...

Posted by admin on Jun 24, 2012 in Fitness | 0 comments

Fitness fitness conscious folks how to do enterprise ? Yoga Netipot ? gifts& well being care goods

Report by hi joiney

Statistics show that China?s health equipment market is about 40 billion?? five billion yuan. At present, China has practically 500 fitness equipment makers in the globe nearly all the common sorts of fitness equipment, Chinese companies are in production, and processing a large number of foreign manufacturers, Chinese-produced fitness equipment in the international market place accounts for about 60 % share of the export trade amounted to two billion U.S. dollars.

Even so, China?s 1.three billion population, have fitness equipment in the house is much like a treadmill for 1 year about twenty million units sold, home penetration price of only one%. With the ?fitness? movement launched in depth, people?s well being awareness year by year, tv, the network adverts on fitness gear growing, then the fitness equipment industry in the end the present predicament? What type of fitness gear company a lot more rewarding it?

Lack of professional advice gear generally idle
A lot of customers are prepared to invest big bucks on the food table, but do not want to vote thousands of dollars on the buy of fitness gear, it is shoppers do not form a loved ones fitness concept of consumption. Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang Province sports activities stationery market be much more concentrated within the sporting items sales market place, but at times the client market place in the true workers also much less than the marketplace. Market on the very first floor since the sideline stationery, played a lot more than a small active on the second floor, second floor, only a handful of huge fitness equipment for sale, the remaining facade of vacant or partially sublet for the collection.

Organization users, mentioned right after the SARS crisis, a period of time is the most prosperous of fitness equipment sales, when folks abruptly realized the significance of loved ones fitness, acceptable workout can improve cardiovascular function and immunity, but this busy period fairly short. Reflected from a side, men and women weak buyer awareness of fitness gear, fitness gear eventually led to a extremely very low penetration.

, Of course, awareness of the importance of the fitness is equally important. Fitness gear to buy to enter the property only the first step is equal to consumption. Lack of effective specialist advice, with the outcome following the consumer had allow the fresh strength gear lying about, do not persevere.

In addition, the company?s advertising in the fitness gear investment is fairly modest. Fitness equipment goods to broaden the media ?exposure?, in the situation of weak buyer awareness, boost market place share is a huge increase.

A lot of makers, but the lack of neighborhood brand names
Have information on the worldwide market place much more than 60% of fitness gear are affixed with ?Produced in China?, but very couple of Chinese very own brands. The cause is that goods in the worldwide marketplace competitiveness is not higher, only for foreign businesses to do a great deal of processed products. On the one particular hand the domestic production of global common sports activities equipment, on the other hand, domestic buyers have two or three instances as significantly bogus sales of foreign brand names. This kind of embarrassment is a sign that, in the effectively-identified internationally of the nationwide brands missing.

From the manufacturing viewpoint, tiny-scale energy is not strong corporate few, and even many companies have not passed the good quality technique certification, and so on., these all reflect the brand-title sports activities manufacturing in the gaps and deficiencies in the road. Organized by the China Sporting Goods Association to carry out the fitness gear industry in China renowned brand evaluation final results show that O Reiter, a excellent family, Shu Hua, evergreen, English Pais five brand names in the influential shoppers.

Treadmill finest selling inside four,000 yuan
Property fitness gear industry and the commercial industry, the market place is divided into two blocks, domestic industry dimension business market than the massive, quickly growth, as soon as a fitness sector who strive to enlarge the cake. Items sold by home users typically little dimension, light weight, attributes easy mixture of instruments. The commercial market place sales target for the fitness centers, community sports activities centers or schools, commercial buildings and other institutions, buy is entirely functional high-grade merchandise.

Top home fitness equipment from sales of view, electric treadmill is nevertheless the most popular, the marketplace share of the complete sales of fitness gear Practically sixty percent of the market, single-keep retail sales up to 30 units a month or so. Product sales followed by multi-functional fitness equipment and workout bike, weight of close to 15% and 10%. On the contrary, rowing exercising machines, cross-nation ski machine due to use of area constraints, the reasonably large charges, product sales decline sharply.

About the Writer

I am an expert from, normally analyzes all type of industries predicament, whilst supplies the most recent news, sector report and top quality item, this kind of as Yoga Netipot, gif

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whereby the original author?s data and copyright need to be integrated.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

93% Marvel's The Avengers

All Critics (276) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (256) | Rotten (20) | DVD (3)

Never underestimate the entertainment value of the Hulk Smash.

If you are a Marvel fan, then The Avengers will feel like Christmas. Thanks to the merry doings of the director, Joss Whedon, all your favorite characters are here, as shiny and as tempting as presents under the tree.

Ultimately, it all comes back to Whedon: His clear vision for each character and how they might be profitably intermingled; his unexpected knack for action choreography; his funny, tender, immaculately constructed script.

A spectacle in the grandest sense of the word ...

Whedon, a pop-genre magician best known for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a master of viewer manipulation - because he never gives up his own seat in the crowd.

The performances are so well-pitched in The Avengers, meshing with such vividness and ease, that it's tempting to overpraise the good but not great movie that surrounds them.

Yeah, it's all that. A tent-pole cash cow for the studio, a dream come true for fans, and treat for action aficionados, 'The Avengers' comes at you as the first true "summer movie spectacular" of the 2012 season.

Yeah, it's all that. A tent-pole cash cow for the studio, a dream come true for fans, and treat for action aficionados, 'The Avengers' comes at you as the first true "summer movie spectacular" of the 2012 season.

Wonderful blink and you'll miss them comic beats in the middle of the finale's mayhem. And what glorious mayhem!

The overlong, stale experience barely raises a fast pulse, as the movie quickly stumbles into a standard film structure and doesn't even try to break free.

... The movie isn't so much a work of storytelling as it is a marathon of wish-fulfillment moments for comic book enthusiasts -- punches peppered with punchlines.

The culmination of four distinct franchises is an exciting and entertaining product.

It's the humor that's The Avengers' strength.

Whedon's clear fanboy glee is irresistibly contagious to the audience, whether the heroes and villains go at it with fisticuffs or sharp, witty dialogue.

Comic-book movie delivers the goods

By the time the utterly routine (and decidedly endless) finale rolls around, Marvel's The Avengers has unquestionably squandered the potential of its premise and its cast...

Delivers big time with everything longtime fans and newcomers alike could possibly want in a summer blockbuster that definitely surpasses the hype.

This too-long adventure is a sensory overload --- complete with loud, protracted battle scenes and hunky super heroes who provide the necessary eye candy. It's also very funny, and highly entertaining.

There is much humor laced throughout the film, giving it an air of not taking itself too seriously -- which is as it should be in a film of this genre.

The Avengers lives up to every last ounce of hype.

It's a blockbuster that manages to please with intelligence and fun. Whedon makes it look easy.

It's all very smoothly done but comes without a hint of surprise or revelation.

The Main Event is pretty much what you'd expect ? noisy, overlong, wall-to-wall CG effects and arcane superhero lore ... Yes, it's all fairly formulaic, but on a Wow! scale never before experienced.

If you only see one movie this year over and over again, it'll probably be this one.

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