Sunday, June 30, 2013

Obama: House can pass immigration before recess

U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma, not pictured, address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday June 29, 2013.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

U.S. President Barack Obama and South African President Jacob Zuma, not pictured, address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday June 29, 2013.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

U.S. President Barack Obama, centre, and South African President Jacob Zuma, obscured behind left, walk to address a press conference following their meeting at Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday June 29, 2013.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

(AP) ? President Barack Obama is urging the House to quickly send him an immigration bill, saying there's more than enough time to do so before Congress takes its August recess.

Obama says he has urged both House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to find a way to pass a bill. He says a sweeping immigration measure that cleared the Senate with a large bipartisan majority Thursday is a "sound framework" that has been debated for weeks.

Obama says the House has a "bunch of weeks" to get the bill done and "now's the time."

Boehner has said the House will craft its own bill and not simply take up the Senate version.

Obama spoke Saturday during a news conference in South Africa with President Jacob Zuma.

Associated Press


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Apple's New iOS 7 Feature: Head movements to Control iPhone, iPad

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Source: --- Sunday, June 30, 2013
Apple Inc enters into motion control domain with its new 'Accessibility' feature of switching to head movements in the latest operating system iOS 7. ...

Source: http://www.ibtimes.comhttp:0//

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Canada - Mario and Luigi: Dream Team preorder offer

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Alvarez, Liriano help Pirates to 8th straight win

Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin, right, tags Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez out at home plate as he tried to score from third on a ground ball by Jonathan Lucroy in the fourth inning of the baseball game on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Lucroy was safe at first. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin, right, tags Milwaukee Brewers' Carlos Gomez out at home plate as he tried to score from third on a ground ball by Jonathan Lucroy in the fourth inning of the baseball game on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. Lucroy was safe at first. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Pittsburgh Pirates' Garrett Jones, right, head-butts with teammate Michael McKenry (19) as he celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, top, hops over Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin, watching his throw that completed a double play on Pedro Alvarez in the first inning of the baseball game on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Donovan Hand makes a pick-off throw to first to keep Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin near the bag, in the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(AP) ? The Pittsburgh Pirates have won eight games in a row, and fans are starting to notice.

After all, the Pirates own the best record in all of baseball.

Pittsburgh beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-1 on Saturday night in front of its fifth straight sellout crowd at home. The Pirates have never had that many consecutive capacity crowds since moving into their new ballpark in 2001.

Long the third-most popular team in a three-team town behind the NFL's Steelers and NHL's Penguins, the Pirates are suddenly becoming a hot ticket.

"The energy of the crowds has been unbelievable and we've been soaking it all up," said Pirates closer Jason Grilli, who earned the save. "You absorb it and try to use it to your advantage. We're playing for ourselves but we're also playing for about 40,000 people in the stands and an entire city.

"People are dusting off their Pirates shirts and coming out in droves, and we're trying to give them what they want to see."

Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones homered, and Francisco Liriano pitched six strong innings to lead the surging Pirates.

Alvarez hit his 20th home run with one out in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and help the Pirates to their longest winning streak since 2004. Pittsburgh, which has endured 20 consecutive losing seasons, is a major league-best 50-30.

Jones hit a drive to the shrubbery in straightaway center field, his seventh homer, to lead off the fourth inning and increase the Pirates' lead to 2-0.

That was enough for Liriano (7-3), who improved to 4-1 in five home starts this season.

"We're having fun, we're playing hard and we're giving everything we have," Liriano said.

Liriano gave up one run and seven hits in six innings with one walk and six strikeouts. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Grilli each pitched one scoreless inning of relief. Grilli recorded his 27th save in 28 opportunities.

"Frankie, for as efficient as he was in giving up one run, there were only about six or seven sequences where he threw back-to-back strikes," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "But when he needed to make a pitch, he made a pitch."

Grilli was pitching for the first time in six days after having his worst outing of the season. He gave up three runs against the Los Angeles Angels in a non-save situation last Sunday before the Pirates held on for a 10-9 win.

"He's our guy," Hurdle said. "He was well-rested and I wasn't the least bit nervous about going to him."

Donovan Hand (0-1) allowed both home runs but turned in a solid five-inning performance in his second major league start.

Hand was pleased with his outing, except for the home run to Alvarez that cleared the right-field stands, hit a tree and bounced into the Allegheny River.

"I tried to go up and in and left a fat pitch over the middle in his hot zone, and he crushed it," said Hand, who pitched 4 2-3 scoreless innings in his first start June 28 against Atlanta. "I was aggressive, which is exactly what I wanted to do, just building off of the last start because they swing it a lot."

Hand has made a good impression on Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

"I thought Donny threw the ball really well," Roenicke said. "He understands how to pitch. He understands how to throw strikes."

Carlos Gomez had two hits for the Brewers, who lost their fifth straight game. He singled with one out in the sixth inning and scored Milwaukee's run on Yuniesky Betancourt's single with two outs.

Brewers shortstop Jean Segura extended his hitting streak to 11 games, but second baseman Rickie Weeks' run ended at a career-best 13 games.

Pittsburgh has won four straight games against Milwaukee and eight of 10 after losing nine in a row.

"We're playing good baseball," Hurdle said. "It's nice to get to 50 wins but we're just trying to meet the demands of the game, honestly self-evaluate and get better every day. There is still a long way to go."

NOTES: Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun (bruised left thumb) is scheduled to a swing a bat Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list, retroactive to June 10. ... Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez (strained left forearm) won't make a scheduled rehab start Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis after experiencing discomfort in his forearm Friday during a bullpen session. ... Pirates RHP Sean Burnett (strained right calf) is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Tuesday. That could be the last step before he is activated from the disabled list. ... Brewers RF Norichika Aoki didn't start for the first time since May 30 as Roenicke decided to rest him. Aoki pinch-hit in the ninth inning and flied out. ... The three-game series concludes Sunday with Milwaukee RHP Kyle Lohse (3-6, 3.69) facing Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.81).

Associated Press


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Sony Japan: PlayStation 4 Launch Will Not Lead to PS3 Abandonment

Hiroshi Kawano, the president of Sony Japan, says that, despite the launch of the new PlayStation 4 home console, he does not expect most gamers to abandon using the older PS3, especially as more titles for it are being launched.

He tells Famitsu, as translated by Kotaku, that ?It?s been seven years since the release of the PS3 and the console continues to sell at a constant pace, plus we have many upcoming titles. We have no intention of immediately shifting from the PS3 to the PS4.?

Sony has always maintained that the PlayStation 3 will be viable for at least 10 years.

The company will not put pressure on gamers to make the switch, but it believes that the launch of cloud-based services in early 2014 will be the moment when most PlayStation fans decide to make the switch.


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Verizon starts selling 32GB Samsung Galaxy S 4 online for $299

DNP Verizon Samsung Galaxy S 4 32GB

Verizon customers -- now's your chance to grab Samsung's latest flagship device with more internal storage. The carrier has started selling the 32GB Galaxy S 4 online, giving buyers another choice besides the 16GB version sold on its website for $199. Shipments aren't promised until July 3rd, but you can buy the 32GB Galaxy S 4 right now for $299 -- assuming you're interested in paying $100 more for storage on a phone that already features expandable memory. If you'd rather shell out more money for an unlocked bootloader, though, Verizon also sells the Developer Edition at the lofty price of $650 each.

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Via: Droid Life

Source: Verizon 1, 2


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The glamour of Seattle wedding shows

Planning a wedding may seem like a monumental task, and in reality, it definitely is, but that is if you wing it alone. Today, there are a range of resources available and the bride and groom can take all the help they need to plan that wedding of their dreams. Wedding planners are able to handle all the nitty-gritty?s of a wedding but there are some other methods which you could consider to actually see and judge who will actually best-suited to your needs. Seattle wedding shows are ideal places
to meet numerous wedding professionals under a single roof and they can show you how the wedding can be planned and executed to perfection.

Seattle wedding shows have gained so much in popularity as well as in attendance that there is automatically a lot of competition amongst the professionals who have converged there. They are always in efforts of coming up with fun and creative ways of catching your attention. The flip side is that all this competition benefits you as a customer. You can easily walk away from Portland wedding shows with a lot of perks and freebies. That is the fun part for you. At the larger Portland wedding shows, every participant exhibitor will proffer one or the other freebie and you can have a whale of a time even as you plan your wedding.

You can register and win fantastic prizes like dream honeymoon packages, jewelry, wedding dresses and super discounts on all wedding services. On a serious note, these shows or expo?s can actually end up saving you a lot of time and trouble as wedding dress boutiques, florists, caterers, stationary shops and bakeries are all at one place and you are saved the tedium of hopping from one shop to another for different services and products. You definitely save time and a whole lot of energy but you also end up saving a whole load of money.

Signing up for services at these shows makes you eligible for discounts and offers and you can opt for packages as well. Flowers are an inseparable part of any wedding and you can get to see various floral displays and get to know how they are priced. Table settings and wedding invitations will be available aplenty and you will definitely be in a quandary about what you should actually opt for. You can get price quotes for services and check on samples for printing, paper and colors. The bigger wedding shows generally have a fashion show too.

You can see a stunning variety of wedding dresses on live models and also get an exact idea about how the wedding dresses are styled, fit and flow. You can also pick up some ideas about the kind of accessories that can be worn with your wedding gown. Taste testing is another fun part of a wedding show. Top chefs from restaurants, caterers and pastry chefs will want to outdo themselves and you get to taste the most delectable fare at these expo?s. You can also look for wedding venues as hotel, restaurant and club representatives are there too. In short, a wedding show is your one stop shop for all your wedding needs.

Brides Club organizes some of the best Seattle Wedding Shows . The big Portland Wedding Shows have the very best wedding services under a single roof.


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Which Dividend Stock Has Too Much Debt?

Companies need money to make money, and dividend stocks are no exception. Debt is an important and useful financial tool, but some corporations might be biting off more than they can chew. Let's take a look at where 5 dividend stocks currently stand on debt.

A kick in the assets
As a first measure of debt, we'll examine our dividend stocks' debt-to-total assets ratio. This is a first stab at feeling out a corporation's debt. While assets don't tell the whole story of a corporation's financial situation, they offer investors the rawest, cleanest look into a stock's financial situation.

EXC Debt to Total Assets Chart

EXC Debt to Total Assets data by YCharts?

At first glance, the differences in debt are astonishing. Without even adding in liabilities, Atlantic Power (NYSE: AT??) has taken out debt equivalent to 64% of its total assets. But given Atlantic Power's relatively small size (5% of Exelon's (NYSE: EXC??) assets?), relatively recent creation (2004?), and "growth by acquisition" model, we can expect as much from this stock.

While other dividend stocks' debt-to-asset levels have remained relatively steady, FirstEnergy's? (NYSE: FE??) debt-to-assets mushroomed from 10%, to 40%, in one year. In its last quarterly earnings call, the utility addressed debt specifically, noting that it will be a serious focus for 2013.

Unequal equity
Assets provide a top-line picture, but equity gets to the meat of the matter. Adding in liabilities to our equation, a dividend stock's debt-to-equity ratio shows investors how much wiggle room a corporation really has.

EXC Debt to Equity Ratio Chart

EXC Debt to Equity Ratio data by YCharts?

At the moment, Atlantic still comes out on top, with a 226% ratio. And while its 95% debt growth pales in comparison to FirstEnergy's 646% increase over the past two years, it's something investors should keep an eye on.

PPL's (NYSE: PPL??) and Entergy's (NYSE: ETR??) debt-to-equity ratios have also crept up 13.4% and 2.9%, respectively. Also, the two utilities have more debt (around 50% more) than equity, while Exelon sneaks underneath with a 93% ratio.

PPL's debt shouldn't be a major worry, as the utility has had some of the best success around with regulatory rate increase approvals. These approvals will increase margins in the future, pushing down the difference between debt and equity. The same can't be said for Duke Energy's?recent rate increase rejection, cut nearly in half by North Carolina regulators. With a new CEO at the reins, investors can hope that the Carolinas will give Duke a fresh start from a recent rocky past.

In Entergy's latest quarterly report, "increased interest expenses and other charges" are expected to knock $0.10 off its $4.96 2013 EPS. The report states that it continues to pay out more interest as a result of more debt, and a simulated stress test found that a 1% interest rate rise on $1 billion of debt would knock $0.03 off annual EPS.

At the bottom of the bunch for both assets and equity, Exelon's debt is darling in the eye of the investor. With a 55% reliance on slow and steady nuclear power, this dividend stock can churn out electricity from capital projects it completed decades ago. And, while cheap natural gas has recently caused Exelon's stock to plummet, rising prices could put nuclear back in action.

Dealing with debt
It's no surprise that several dividend stocks have exceedingly high debt. It takes money to make money, and interest rates are at record lows. But overspending today could spell trouble for tomorrow, and investors need to watch their investments' debt levels closely.


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WHITE HOUSE NOTEBOOK: Obama to US media: 'Behave'

U.S. President Barack Obama, centre right, arrives for a news conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, centre left, at the Union Building on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. The visit comes at a poignant time, with former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela ailing in a Johannesburg hospital. The White House issued a statement Saturday that President Barack Obama plans to visit privately with relatives of former South African President Nelson Mandela, but doesn't intend to see the critically ill anti-apartheid activist he has called a "personal hero." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Barack Obama, centre right, arrives for a news conference with South African President Jacob Zuma, centre left, at the Union Building on Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Pretoria, South Africa. The visit comes at a poignant time, with former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela ailing in a Johannesburg hospital. The White House issued a statement Saturday that President Barack Obama plans to visit privately with relatives of former South African President Nelson Mandela, but doesn't intend to see the critically ill anti-apartheid activist he has called a "personal hero." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama reads from a Teleprompter as she speaks at a youth event at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa, organized in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+ to highlight the importance of education. Teenagers from around South Africa as well as students joining virtually in cities around the U.S. participated. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

United States President Barack Obama motorcade arrives at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johanesburg, South Africa,Saturday, June, 29, 2013. Mandela whose condition has improved according to the Presidency,remains in a critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama waves to the audience during a youth event at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa, organized in conjunction with MTV Base, an African youth and music TV channel, and Google+ to highlight the importance of education. Teenagers from around South Africa as well as students joining virtually in cities around the U.S. will participate. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama hugs Tebogo Tenyan, 16, during a youth event to highlight the importance of education at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Saturday, June 29, 2013, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Teenagers from around South Africa as well as students joining virtually in cities around the U.S. will participate. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(AP) ? One element of President Barack Obama's Africa policy is to encourage a free press, although he offered repeated reminders for U.S. reporters traveling with him on the continent to be on their best behavior.

"Americans, behave yourselves," he needled Saturday as a contingent of U.S. and South African media was pulled from a quick photo op with President Jacob Zuma.

Obama spoke just before their joint news conference and may have been trying to suggest his press corps keep its questions tight.

On Saturday, both U.S. and South African reporters asked multi-part questions. Obama didn't try to cut anyone off, but instead said the U.S. press corps must be happy the news conference was taking place in a wood-paneled chamber inside Pretoria's grand Union Buildings.

"This is much more elegant than the White House press room," Obama said, referring to the more cramped media quarters in the West Wing. "It's a big improvement."

He kept up the theme of a long-winded U.S. press at the start of his meeting with African Union Commission Chairwoman Dlamini-Zuma.

"I might take some questions, except earlier in the press conference you guys asked 4-in-1 questions," a grinning Obama teased.

At his earlier stop in Senegal, Obama apologized to host President Macky Sall on behalf the American media.

"Sometimes my press ? I notice yours just ask one question," Obama said. "We try to fit in three or four or five questions in there."

Minutes before that comment, Obama had praised democratic progress in Senegal, specifically mentioning "a strong press" as part of that movement. However, the first Senegalese reporter to be called on lobbed a softball, simply asking Sall to describe the visit and any new prospects it posed for Africa.


Questioned about foreign policy, Obama said more than the security issues that "take up a lot of my time," he gets great satisfaction from listening to regular people talk about building their businesses.

A top priority is the war that's drawing to a close in Afghanistan, with U.S. combat troops scheduled to return home by the end of next year.

Another is keeping the U.S. public safe. "I can't deviate from that too much," Obama said before also mentioning the need to focus on turmoil across the Middle East.

But "as much as the security issues in my foreign policy take up a lot of my time, I get a lot more pleasure from listening to a small farmer say that she went from one hectare to 16 hectares and has doubled her income," Obama said. "That's a lot more satisfying and that's the future."

The president apparently was still feeling good after the stop in Senegal. On Friday, he toured an exhibit showcasing the Senegalese agricultural sector with a focus on nutrition and fortified foods and chatted up several of the farmers who were there. The programs get help from Feed the Future, a public-private partnership begun by Obama that he touted in Senegal, including to reporters aboard Air Force One.


Obama's trip has been quite a family affair.

He's traveling with his wife, Michelle, their daughters Malia and Sasha, his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, and a niece, Leslie Robinson. Other relatives are with him in spirit.

He spoke Saturday about his late mother, anthropologist Stanley Ann Dunham, and what he said she always used to tell him.

"You can measure how well a country does by how well it treats its women," he said, quoting her.

On Thursday in Senegal, he quipped about how he had disappointed his maternal grandmother by becoming a politician, not a judge as she had hoped.


Obama was looking forward to visiting Robben Island for a special reason: the opportunity to take his daughters with him.

The tiny island off the coast of Cape Town is where many opponents of South Africa's former system of white-minority rule were sent to prison.

Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars on the island. He was elected president a few years after his release.

Obama has visited the island previously, but called it a "great privilege and a great honor" to be able to bring Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, to teach them the history of the island and South Africa and how those lessons apply to their own lives growing up in America. The family was scheduled to ride the ferry over on Sunday.

The Obama girls could have visited Robben Island in 2011 when they accompanied their mother on her visit to South Africa, but the trip was scrubbed at the last minute due to rough seas.


Michelle Obama says she definitely would take more risks if she could go back and relive her teenage years.

She avoided getting too specific, though, saying simply that she'd try more things and travel more.

"I wouldn't be as afraid as I was at that age to fail," she said in Johannesburg during a Google+ Hangout chat involving scores of young people in Africa and several cities across the U.S., including New York City, Los Angeles and Houston. Singer-songwriters John Legend and Victoria Justice also participated.

After some of the students seated on stage with the first lady were asked to name their dream jobs, the question was then put to her.

Mrs. Obama didn't identify her dream job, but said that back then she could never have envisioned participating in such a forum. She often has said she never saw herself becoming first lady, either, and used her example to try to inspire the audience. She told them to keep their dreams big and embrace failure.

"Don't take yourself out of the game before you even start, because there's no telling what life has in store for you," Mrs. Obama said.


Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler in Johannesburg and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow Julie Pace on Twitter:

Associated Press


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The 16 Best Movies Disappearing From Amazon Prime Tomorrow

The 16 Best Movies Disappearing From Amazon Prime Tomorrow

Not all of us turn to Netflix for our streaming fix; there are plenty of Amazon Prime members out there who lean on Instant Video instead. And if you're one of them, you might want to fill up your Watchlist with these classics. They'll be gone come Monday. And come to think of it, most of them aren't on Netflix, either.

It's not quite on the same apocalyptic level of the Great Netflix Starz Purge of 2012, but there are plenty of titles here that you'll miss. Hey, at least that free two-day shipping's not going anywhere, right?

There are over 150 titles in all disappearing on June 30th. Here are the ones you'll miss the most, in no particular order:

Of the 16 we've highlighted, it looks like only six (Braveheart, A League of Their Own, Grizzly Man, Hoosiers, and Serpico) are currently available on Netflix. That means once they're gone, you've got nowhere to turn. You can check out the complete list here for any favorites that we left out.


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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Vatican official arrested in corruption plot

VATICAN CITY (AP) ? A Vatican official was arrested Friday by Italian police for allegedly trying to bring 20 million euros ($26 million) in cash into the country from Switzerland aboard an Italian government plane, his lawyer said.

Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, already under investigation in a purported money-laundering plot involving the Vatican bank, is accused of fraud, corruption and slander stemming from the plot, which never got off the ground, attorney Silverio Sica told The Associated Press.

It was the latest financial scandal to hit the Vatican and came just two days after Pope Francis created a commission of inquiry into the Vatican bank to get to the bottom of the problems that have plagued it for decades and contributed to damaging the Vatican's reputation.

Sica said Scarano was a middleman in the Swiss operation. Friends had asked him to intervene with a broker, Giovanni Carenzio, to return 20 million euros they had given him to invest. Sica said Scarano persuaded Carenzio to return the money, and an Italian secret service agent, Giovanni Maria Zito, went to Switzerland to bring the cash back aboard an Italian government aircraft. Such a move would presumably prevent any reporting of the money coming into Italy.

The operation failed because Carenzio reneged on the deal, Sica said.

Zito, nevertheless, demanded his 400,000 euro commission. Scarano paid him an initial 200,000 euros by check, Sica said. But in a bid to not have the second installment of the commission deposited, Scarano filed a report for a missing 200,000 check, even though he knew Zito had it, Sica said.

Carenzio and Zito also were arrested Wednesday along with Scarano, Sica said.

When asked how Scarano responded to the accusations, Sica said "I think that Don Nunzio will respond to the questions."

It's not the only troubles facing Scarano.

Prosecutors in the southern city of Salerno have placed him under investigation for alleged money-laundering stemming from his account at the Vatican's bank, called the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR.

The investigation concerns transactions Scarano, then an official at the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, made in 2009 in which he took 560,000 euros ($729,000) in cash out of his personal IOR bank account and carried it out of the Vatican and into Italy to help pay off a mortgage on his Salerno home.

To deposit the money into an Italian bank account ? and to prevent family members from finding out he had such a large chunk of cash ? he asked 56 close friends to accept 10,000 euros apiece in cash in exchange for a check or money transfer in the same amount, Sica said earlier this week. Scarano was then able to deposit the amounts in his Italian account.

The original money came into Scarano's IOR account from donors who gave it to the prelate thinking they were funding a home for the terminally ill in Salerno, Sica said. He said the donors had "enormous" wealth and could offer such donations for his charitable efforts.

He said Scarano had given the names of the donors to prosecutors and insisted the origin of the money was clean, that the transactions didn't constitute money-laundering, and that he only took the money "temporarily" for his personal use.

The home for terminally ill hasn't been built, though the property has been identified, Sica said.

"He declares himself absolutely innocent," Sica said of the Salerno investigation.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told the AP earlier this week that the Vatican is taking the appropriate measures to deal with Scarano's case. There was no further comment Friday from the Vatican about Scarano's arrest.

Francis has made clear he has no tolerance for corruption or for Vatican officials who use their jobs for personal ambition or gain. He has said he wants a "poor" church and a church that is for the poor, one that goes out to the "peripheries" to minister to those most needy. He has also noted, tongue in cheek, that "St. Peter didn't have a bank account."

On Wednesday, he named five people to head a commission of inquiry into the Vatican bank's activities and legal status "to allow for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See," according to the legal document he signed creating it.

Two of them are Americans: Monsignor Peter Wells, the No. 3 official in the Vatican secretariat of state, and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and current president of a pontifical academy.

American cardinals were among the most vocal in demanding a wholesale reform of the Vatican bureaucracy ? and the Vatican bank ? in the meetings outlining the priorities for the new pope in the run-up to the March conclave that elected Francis. The demands were raised following revelations in leaked documents last year that told of dysfunction, petty turf wars and allegations of corruption in the Holy See's governance.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Francis had intervened to get information out of the IOR, a secretive institution best known for the scandals it has caused the Vatican. On June 15, he filled a key vacancy in the bank's governing structure, tapping a trusted prelate to be his eyes inside the bank.


Follow Nicole Winfield at


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GameStop Expo puts the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in your hands this August

GameStop Expo puts the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in your hands this August

Whether or not you pay for GameStop's annual membership plan, the planet's largest video game retailer is opening the doors of the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center to the public for its annual GameStop Expo come this August, which this year features hands-on with both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For a $35 general admission ticket, you'll get access to both consoles on August 28th -- long before their respective holiday launches -- as well as a chance to play a variety of upcoming games. Should you shell out a stone cold $90, you'll snag a copy of Madden NFL 25 for Xbox 360, gain (one hour) early entry to the show and "access to panel discussions with some of the biggest names in the industry."

Per usual, attendees must be older than 17, and the event's a one day affair. But then you'll be in Vegas, so... maybe stay for a few days.

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Via: Joystiq

Source: GameStop


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Publisher cancels multibook Paula Deen contract

Paula Deen's publisher has canceled a deal with her for multiple books, including an upcoming cookbook that was the No. 1 seller on and Barnes &, following her admission she used a racial slur.

Ballantine Books announced Friday it would not release "Paula Deen's New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up," which was scheduled for October and was the first of a five-book deal announced early last year. Interest in it had surged as Deen, who grew up in Albany, Ga., and specializes in Southern comfort food, came under increasing attack for acknowledging she had used the N-word.

Ballantine, an imprint of Random House Inc., said it had decided to cancel the book's publication after "careful consideration." It had no comment beyond what was in its brief statement, spokesman Stuart Applebaum said.

Later Friday, Deen's literary agent, Janis Donnaud, said that the entire deal had been called off.

"I am confident that these books will be published and that we will have a new publisher," said Donnaud, who declined to comment on whether she had heard from other publishers.

The trouble for Deen started when comments she made in a court deposition became public. During the deposition in a discrimination lawsuit filed by an ex-employee, Deen admitted using the N-word in the past but denied using it to describe waiters.

Deen said she's not a racist during a tearful "Today" show interview but has lost many of her business relationships. Sears Holdings Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. said Friday that they were cutting ties with Deen following similar announcements from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and Home Depot.

Last week, the Food Network said that it would not renew her contract. She also was dropped by Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment stripped her name from restaurants and drug company Novo Nordisk said it was suspending its work with her.

Publishers have pulled a wide range of books over the years, usually because of plagiarism, fabrications or other issues with the books themselves. Ballantine's decision highlights a problem for Deen even when the product itself has not been challenged and is in high demand.

Some outlets that might have sold her books, such as Target and Wal-Mart, have cut ties with her. Other stores likely would have been reluctant to promote her new book or to invite her for personal appearances.

Because "Paula Deen's New Testament" was months away from release, no copies had been printed. All purchases had been pre-orders, so refunds aren't necessary.


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How Crazy Are Democrats? This Crazy (Powerlineblog)

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Medicaid vote complicated by Mich. Capitol work

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gov. Rick Snyder is traveling Michigan to pressure Republican senators to get back to the Capitol ? stat ? and vote to provide health insurance to nearly half the state's uninsured residents.

One hitch: The Senate and House chambers are likely out of commission for at least two months as new carpet is installed and technology is upgraded.

When lawmakers adjourned a week ago, crews immediately removed desks and ripped out Victorian-era replica carpet that was at least 20 years old and held together in places with duct tape. Now, backup plans are in the works in case Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, decides to hold a vote on Medicaid expansion before Aug. 27, the next day that attendance is to be taken and votes recorded.

Options include meeting in the Capitol's Senate Appropriations room ? less ideal because it's small for all 38 senators, their staff, press and the public ? or the historic Boji Tower across the street, which has a large committee hearing room on the first floor.

It's also possible the senators could still gather in the chamber depending on what work is going on at the time, said Senate Secretary Carol Viventi.

"If we need to hold session, we will find a place to do it," said Ari Adler, spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall.

Workers also are updating technology under the House and Senate floors ? cables for the electronic voting systems, computer wiring and electrical adapters. Hearing loops are being installed in the viewing galleries so it's easier for people with hearing aids and cochlear implants to listen.

Without the electronic voting boards, votes could be tallied by voice or hand like in the old days. When the Capitol was renovated from 1989 to 1992, senators met at times in a Capitol committee room while representatives gathered in an office building that has since been turned into a parking garage.

The Capitol upgrades are another twist in Snyder's months-long push for Medicaid expansion, an option for states under the federal health care law. The Republican governor cut short a trade trip in Israel last week ? scheduled months ago for a week when the Legislature was supposed to be gone ? to try to save a House plan approved two weeks ago that he sees as a pragmatic way to make the Affordable Care Act a positive for Michigan and to save money.

But Richardville wants at least half of the Senate's 26 Republicans to back Medicaid expansion or at least support proceeding with a vote. Expansion advocates believe if a vote had been called, eight to 11 Republicans would have joined all 12 Democrats to send a measure to Snyder's desk.

Richardville spokeswoman Amber McCann said the majority leader didn't hold a vote June 20 because the bill would have been defeated.

"He truly believes it would have ended the discussion on Medicaid," she said. "The expansion of an entitlement program is not typically a Republican value."

To pressure reluctant GOP senators in their districts and drum up public support, Snyder has visited four hospitals this week to call for a vote while meeting with sympathetic medical and business officials who support adding 470,000 low-income adults to Medicaid.

Richardville on Wednesday named a group of six Republican senators to meet over the summer to consider the issue. The group has no timeline to make a recommendation, though Snyder says time is running out if Michigan is to get federal approval in time to cover new enrollees starting Jan. 1.

The next technical legislative session day is Wednesday ? when Senate Democrats plan to show up ? though no one expects action. Non-voting session days also have been scheduled for July 18, Aug. 2 and Aug. 16, and Snyder is going to keep demanding a vote on those days.

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said his visits around the state are getting senators' attention.

"If you step back and take the politics away from it, from a policy standpoint it's the right thing to do," she said.


Email David Eggert at and follow him at


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Cancer risks double when two carcinogens present at 'safe' levels, epigenetics study finds

June 28, 2013 ? Science knows that arsenic and estrogen can cause cancer. At certain very low levels, the chemicals offer little to no threats to human health.

However, new research conducted by Texas Tech University scientists has found that low doses of both chemicals together -- even at levels low enough to be considered "safe" for humans if they were on their own -- can cause cancer in prostate cells.

The combination of the two chemicals was almost twice as likely to create cancer in prostate cells, the research found. The study published online in the peer-reviewed journal The Prostate.

Kamaleshwar Singh, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech said the findings could have an impact on health regulations regarding the "safe" doses of these chemicals and others. Most regulations are set by testing one chemical at a time on cells. Very few if any have looked at multiple chemicals at the same time.

"The majority of cancers are caused by environmental influences," Singh said. "Only about 5 to 10 percent of cancers are due to genetic predisposition. Science has looked at these chemicals, such as arsenic, and tested them in a lab to find the amounts that may cause cancer. But that's just a single chemical in a single test. In the real world, we are getting exposed to many chemicals at once."

Singh said he became interested in studying two chemicals at once after looking at arsenic's carcinogenic properties in a previous paper.

Because cigarette smoke and well water in some areas, including India, Mexico and even Lubbock county, can contain arsenic, Singh and his doctoral student, Justin Treas, wondered how the carcinogenic properties might change when paired with the presence of another carcinogenic chemical.

The two focused on estrogen because of the chemical's abundance. Many plastics, such as food can liners and bisphenol A (BPA), release small amounts of chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body.

"Co-exposure was creating a greater impact," Singh said. "That was one of the important findings of our study. The next thing we wanted to know is how these two chemicals are creating a greater effect."

Unlike stronger chemicals that do major damage to the DNA in a cell, such as benzene, arsenic and estrogen aren't major mutagens Singh said. Instead, their presence tends to stop certain genes from expressing. The process is called DNA hypermethylation.

In the experiment, human prostate cells were treated about once a week for six months with arsenic, estrogen and a combination of the two. Many of the tests involved levels of arsenic, estrogen or both at levels considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Treas said the two chemicals stopped the MLH1 gene, which is responsible for sending the signal to start the self-destruct sequence when a cell is damaged. Because the self-destruct couldn't activate, the cells became cancerous after exposure.

"With the lower dose not killing the cell, it's causing damages that go under the cell's radar," Treas said. "We found when you have two compounds together, lower doses could be more serious problem."


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South Africa: Mandela improved overnight

JOHANNESBURG (AP) ? Nelson Mandela's health improved overnight and although his condition remains critical it is now stable, the South African government said Thursday. One of the former president's daughters said he was still opening his eyes and reacting to the touch of his family even though his situation was precarious.

The report that the health of the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader had taken a turn for the better came amid a growing sense in South Africa that Mandela was approaching the end of his life. Well-wishers have delivered flowers and messages of support to the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated, and prayer sessions were held around the country on Thursday.

President Jacob Zuma's office said in a statement that he received the encouraging update from the medical team that is treating Mandela. Zuma had canceled an international trip on Thursday, instead visiting Mandela for the second time in two days.

"I canceled my visit to Mozambique today so that I can see him and confer with the doctors," Zuma said in the statement. "He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night."

In April, Zuma gave an overly upbeat assessment about Mandela's condition. At that time, state television broadcast footage of a visit by Zuma and other political leaders to Mandela's home. Zuma said at the time that Mandela was in good shape, but the footage showed him silent and unresponsive, even when Zuma tried to hold his hand.

Mandela, who was imprisoned for 27 years during white racist rule and became president in all-race elections in 1994, was taken to a hospital on June 8 for what the government said was a recurring lung infection.

Zuma urged people to pray for Mandela, and continue with their work and daily activities even while he is hospitalized.

The president's office said it was disturbed by what it called rumors about Mandela's health and appealed for respect for the privacy and dignity of the former leader. Unconfirmed reports about Mandela have swirled on social media and other forums.

Mandela's condition is acknowledged to be grave. He is on life support systems, according to a few television networks that quote anonymous sources, and presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj has declined to confirm or deny those reports.

Makaziwe Mandela, one of Mandela's daughters, echoed the criticism, saying foreign media coverage of her father's illness had become intrusive, particularly at the Pretoria hospital where many journalists have gathered.

"There's sort of a racist element with many of the foreign media, where they just cross boundaries," she said in the SABC interview. "It's like truly vultures waiting when a lion has devoured a buffalo, waiting there for the last carcasses. That's the image that we have, as a family."

She said: "We don't mind the interest. But I just think it has gone overboard."

In comments posted on the SABC web site, Makaziwe Mandela said "anything is imminent" because her father, referred to affectionately by many South Africans as "Tata," or "Father," is in a very critical state.

"I want to emphasize again that it's only God who knows when the time to go is," she said. "So we will wait with Tata. He's still giving us hope by opening his eyes, he's still reactive to touch, we will live with that hope until the final end comes."

Beginning a trip to Africa, President Barack Obama said in Senegal on Thursday that his thoughts and prayers were with South Africans and in particular the Mandela family. He said he was inspired, as a law school student in the early 1990s, to see Mandela step forward after decades of imprisonment to help deliver democracy in a spirit of reconciliation with his former captors.

"It gave me a sense of what is possible in the world when righteous people, when people of good will, work together on behalf of a larger cause," said Obama, who described Mandela as a personal hero. "And if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we'll all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages."


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'Pac-Man' as a first-person shooter is absolutely terrifying

Video games

June 24, 2013 at 5:19 PM ET

A new first-person version of the classic arcade game "Pac-Man" shows what it's like to step inside the yellow pellet-muncher's shoes, and the results are terrifying.


A new first-person version of the classic arcade game "Pac-Man" shows what it's like to step inside the yellow pellet-muncher's shoes, and the results are terrifying.

Ever wonder what it would feel like to really step into Pac-Man's shoes, or whatever it is that helps the guy move forward and gobble up all those pellets?

Sure, running around with a relentless case of the munchies and occasionally swallowing your worst enemies whole might seem like a lot of fun, but wouldn't wandering around a dark "Tron"-like maze where the only other things to interact with are a bunch of silent ghosts that just stare at you until they somehow kill you with little more than a touch sound absolutely terrifying? As the popular Web comic "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal" put it, if you really think about the story of "Pac-Man," "it's like Kafka wrote a Lovecraft story."

That's certainly what playing "FPS-Man" feels like. Created by the British-based developer Tom Davies while he was learning how to use the Unity game engine, "FPS-Man" is a harrowing take on the classic arcade game.

"FPS-Man" plays less like the cartoonish hunt for cherries and pellets that we all know and love from the arcade cabinets of yore and more like Theseus trying to hunt down the Minotaur and escape the maze. Think those scenes from the first "Alien" movie when they're all trying to survive by tracking a tiny dot across a screen, except suddenly its giant-eyed ghosts that are jumping out at you. Luckily, the game spares you any gore whenever the ghosts catch Pac-Man.

Hopefully given the timing of "FPS-Man's" release, this means that survival horror spin on the arcade classic will soon appear on next-generation consoles ? or better yet, a virtual reality platform like the Oculus Rift or the Omni treadmill. Because what could be more fun (or terrifying) than having to run away from dead-eyed ghosts as your own personal Pac-Man?

In the meantime, you can play "FPS-Man" for free on the website Kongregate.

? via Fast Company

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at:


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Obama recasts chase for Snowden as unexceptional (The Arizona Republic)

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Senate Republicans warn NFL, other leagues about Obamacare

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is urging the National Football League and other professional sports leagues not to support President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, calling Obamacare divisive and unpopular.

In a June 27 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, McConnell and fellow Republican Senator John Cornyn accused the Obama administration of drawing the league into "one of the most divisive and polarizing issues of our day" by trying to enlist its help in promoting subsidized health coverage for millions of uninsured Americans.

"Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the health care law, it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion," McConnell and Cornyn told the NFL.

The two lawmakers also sent similar letters to Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the Professional Golfers' Association and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters on Monday that the administration was in discussions with the NFL and other sports groups.

"The NFL, for instance, in the conversations I've had, has been very actively and enthusiastically engaged because they see health promotion as one of the things that is good for them and good for the country," she said.

But the league's response to McConnell seemed less than enthusiastic.

"We have responded to the letters we received from members of Congress to inform them we currently have no plans to engage in this area and have had no substantive contact with the administration about (the law's) implementation," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment.

The White House and HHS are reaching out to professional sports leagues, teams and players in hopes of encouraging young men and women to sign up for health coverage through new online markets that are slated to begin open enrollment on October 1.

McConnell's letters represent a new line of Republican attack on Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted 37 times to repeal or defund the law, which they see as a costly and unnecessary expansion of government.

The party is now taking aim at administration efforts to rally private sector support, including fundraising by Sebelius on behalf of the non-profit group Enroll America, which is helping to lead a private-sector grassroots campaign aimed at driving enrollment.

Democrats and other reform advocates say Republicans are trying to undermine the law's implementation ahead of the 2014 congressional elections, in which the party hopes to win control of the Senate.

Analysts say the ability of the online marketplaces, or exchanges, to attract younger beneficiaries will help determine whether Obama's signature domestic policy achievement becomes a success or a failure.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Eric Beech)


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How 'parrot dinosaur' switched from four feet to two as it grew

June 28, 2013 ? Tracking the growth of dinosaurs and how they changed as they grew is difficult. Using a combination of biomechanical analysis and bone histology, palaeontologists from Beijing, Bristol, and Bonn have shown how one of the best-known dinosaurs switched from four feet to two as it grew.

Psittacosaurus, the 'parrot dinosaur' is known from more than 1000 specimens from the Cretaceous, 100 million years ago, of China and other parts of east Asia. As part of his PhD thesis at the University of Bristol, Qi Zhao, now on the staff of the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology in Beijing, carried out the intricate study on bones of babies, juveniles and adults.

Dr Zhao said: "Some of the bones from baby Psittacosaurus were only a few millimetres across, so I had to handle them extremely carefully to be able to make useful bone sections. I also had to be sure to cause as little damage to these valuable specimens as possible."

With special permission from the Beijing Institute, Zhao sectioned two arm and two leg bones from 16 individual dinosaurs, ranging in age from less than one year to 10 years old, or fully-grown. He did the intricate sectioning work in a special palaeohistology laboratory in Bonn, Germany,

The one-year-olds had long arms and short legs, and scuttled about on all fours soon after hatching. The bone sections showed that the arm bones were growing fastest when the animals were ages one to three years. Then, from four to six years, arm growth slowed down, and the leg bones showed a massive growth spurt, meaning they ended up twice as long as the arms, necessary for an animal that stood up on its hind legs as an adult.

Professor Xing Xu of the Beijing Institute, one of Dr Zhao's thesis supervisors, said: "This remarkable study, the first of its kind, shows how much information is locked in the bones of dinosaurs. We are delighted the study worked so well, and see many ways to use the new methods to understand even more about the astonishing lives of the dinosaurs."

Professor Mike Benton of the University of Bristol, Dr Zhao's other PhD supervisor, said: "These kinds of studies can also throw light on the evolution of a dinosaur like Psittacosaurus. Having four-legged babies and juveniles suggests that at some time in their ancestry, both juveniles and adults were also four-legged, and Psittacosaurus and dinosaurs in general became secondarily bipedal."

The paper is published in Nature Communications.


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