Sunday, January 2, 2011

(Reuters) - A team of up to 20 Bank of America Corp officials, led by the chief risk officer, Bruce Thompson, have been reviewing thousands of documents amid a threat that it may be a target of WikiLeaks, The New York Times reported on Sunday.

The director of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, previously said he had intended to "take down" a major U.S. bank and reveal an "ecosystem of corruption" from data from an executive's computer.

Bank of America has been reviewing cases in which any computers were lost and was looking for signs that its systems might have been compromised, the newspaper reported in its electronic edition.

The bank has hired consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to help manage the review and has sought advice from several top law firms, the report said.

Bank of America's internal review has turned up no evidence to support Assange's claim that he has a hard drive, the newspaper reported.

In December, Bank of America said it would not process payments intended for WikiLeaks, which has angered U.S. authorities with the mass release of U.S. diplomatic cables.

Bank of America joined a growing group of financial services companies, including MasterCard, PayPal and Visa Europe, that are restricting payments to the global organization which has said its next large document release will be bank information.

WikiLeaks has said it will release documents early this year that will point to "unethical practices" at a major U.S. bank, widely thought to be Bank of America.

Bank of America was not immediately available for comment.

NFL Playoff Schedule 2011

The NFL Playoff schedule 2011 times is set, even though we’re still waiting to find out the winner of the NFC West. NBC will handle the Saturday games while Fox will take its customary NFC game on Sunday. CBS will, as usual, handle the other Sunday playoff game between members of the AFC. As we said earlier, the seeding and matchups for the wildcard round are already determined, with the winner of tonight’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams taking the No. 4 seed.

Here are the TV times and information for the NFL Playoff schedule 2011.

Saturday, Jan. 8
Seattle Seahawks/St. Louis Rams vs. New Orleans Saints at 1:30 p.m. on NBC.
Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets at 5:20 p.m. on NBC.

Sunday, Jan. 9
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 10 a.m. on CBS.
Green Bay Packers vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:30 p.m. on Fox.

The Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers all have byes.

Last order of business today is the NFC West, with the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams set to kick off in just under an hour.

President Asif Ali Zardari heads Pakistan's
minority government.
Islamabad (CNN) -- The second-largest party in Pakistan's ruling coalition quit the government Sunday over fuel price increases and other complaints, leaving President Asif Ali Zardari at the head of a minority government.

Sunday's announcement by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement that its 25 members would join the opposition comes after several previous threats to quit the government. But Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the ruling Pakistan People's Party would be able to function without a majority in the National Assembly, which chooses the prime minister.

"Just because one party pulls out does not mean that the government will fall or come apart," Gilani told reporters.

The MQM is one of the largest and most liberal parties in Pakistan, with its stronghold in the southern city of Karachi.

New York (CNN) -- A Broadway actor injured when he fell more than 20 feet while performing a stunt in the "Spider-Man" musical is set to be released from a rehabilitation center this week, his father told CNN Sunday.

Christopher Tierney, 31, was moved into the center after being discharged from New York's Bellevue Hospital on December 28.

His father, Tim Tierney, said he isn't sure when his son will arrive at his Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home, but said he is scheduled to be released from the facility Wednesday.

Christopher Tierney suffered four broken ribs; a hairline skull fracture; a broken scapula, or shoulder blade; a bruised lung; three cracked vertebrae; and broken bones below his elbow in the December 20 fall, the elder Tierney has said.

Tim Tierney said his son is improving. "He is up," he said. "He is walking and just doing very well." He said Christopher Tierney cannot wait to return to the show, "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark."

Several of the shows were canceled following Tierney's fall, and new safety precautions were put in place before they resumed following a meeting between the show's company, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the New York State Department of Labor.

The show, with music and lyrics by U2's Bono and Howell (aka The Edge), is the most expensive in Broadway history, but production has been beset by cast injuries and technical problems.

Once Christopher Tierney is home, his family plans a belated Christmas celebration, Tim Tierney said.

Jonathan Dealwis, a tourist from New Zealand, said he saw Tierney fall.

"Spider-Man was on a bridge, and Mary Jane was dangling from it," he said. "I think he was meant to sort of swoop over there, but he just fell off ... the harness, you could see it just flick off his back and fly backward."

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama plans to sign the 9/11 health bill into law in Hawaii on Sunday, a senior administration official told CNN.

Obama will sign the bill during his Hawaiian vacation, the official said. There will not be a public signing ceremony, but the White House is planning to release an official photo of Obama signing the bill.

The legislation provides health coverage to first responders to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, who have been battling for federal help for years. After a contentious battle in which some Republicans suggested the legislation was creating a new entitlement program, it finally passed during the lame-duck session of Congress in December.

Chris Jessen holds his new "panda cow" named Ben,
hours after the rare miniature cow was born in Campion, Colo.
The miniature panda cow is the result of genetic manipulation.
A white belt encircles the animal's midsection, and the cow has
a white face with black ovals around the eyes, giving it a
panda-like appearance. The mini-cattle are bred solely as pets.
Jessen says panda calves can sell for $30,000.
(Tom Hacker/Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald via AP)
CAMPION, Colo. -- A rare miniature cow with markings similar to a panda bear was born on a farm in northern Colorado.

The so-called "panda cow" born in Larimer County is thought to be one of only about 24 in the world.

The (Loveland) Reporter-Herald reports the male calf named Ben was born Friday morning. His mother is a Lowline Angus cow.

Farmer Chris Jessen raises miniature cattle and also owns a miniature kangaroo on his hobby farm.

The miniature panda cow is the result of genetic manipulation. A white belt encircles the animal's midsection, and the cow has a white face with black ovals around the eyes, giving it a panda-like appearance.

The mini-cattle are bred solely as pets. Jessen says panda calves can sell for $30,000.
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A top officer aboard a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier broadcast to his crew a series of profanity-laced comedy sketches in which he uses gay slurs, mimics masturbation and opens the shower curtain on women pretending to bathe together, a newspaper reported.

The Virginian-Pilot reported in its Sunday editions that Capt. Owen Honors appeared in the videos in 2006 and 2007 while he was the USS Enterprise's second-ranking officer, and showed them across the ship on closed-circuit television. He took over as the ship's commander in May.

The Navy said it plans to investigate the videos, which it called "clearly inappropriate."

"The videos were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew's attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc.," the Navy said in a statement to the newspaper.

Navy Cmdr. Chris Sims said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that the videos "were not acceptable then and are not acceptable in today's Navy."

A phone listing for Honors was not immediately available. He is a 1983 alumnus of the U.S. Naval Academy and was a naval aviator before holding command. He attended the U.S. Naval Fighter Weapons School, also known as Top Gun.

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- A law in Spain that went into effect Sunday has banned smoking in indoor bars and restaurants, giving the nation some of the toughest smoking restrictions in western Europe.

The law puts Spain in line with Britain, France and Italy, which prohibit smoking in all enclosed public places.

Spain's hotel and restaurant federation warns of a 10 percent drop in business and tens of thousands of job losses in the midst of the nation's deep economic crisis.

But the government says similar laws elsewhere in Europe did not hurt business in the long run.

Juan Carlos Sanchez says he goes to a neighborhood bar several times a day to have a cigarette with his coffee or beer. Like many smokers here, he is adamantly opposed to the new law.

Rising petrol prices are among the MQM's concerns
Pakistan's MQM party says it is leaving Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's coalition to join the opposition.

The move will deprive Mr Gilani of his majority in parliament.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the second largest party in the coalition, withdrew two ministers from the federal cabinet last week.

Mr Gilani denied there his government was in danger of collapsing. "I don't see any crisis," he said, speaking on television after the announcement.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says the government is now scrambling to find new partners, but that without them, new elections are likely.

Pakistan's governing coalition held 181 seats - including the MQM's 25 - in the 342-member parliament. The MQM's departure leaves Mr Gilani well below the 172 seats needed to preserve its majority.

Issues such as rising petrol prices have led to what is seen as a surprise move, our correspondent says.

Prime Minister Gilani has now lost his majority
in parliament
The MQM dominates politics in the city of Karachi.

The city, which the capital of Sindh province, has seen ethnic tension, with the MQM's militant wing widely believed to be behind most ethnic and political killings in the city over the last few years.

A smaller coalition partner, the Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam party, withdrew from the government earlier in December after one of its ministers was sacked.

Many in Pakistan believe the two parties are acting at the behest of the security establishment to undermine the country's political system.

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Police say a house fire appears to have killed Swedish actor Per Oscarsson, who starred in movies based on Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and his wife.

Police spokesman Jan Strommegard says the remains of one person were found Sunday in the ashes of the house and are probably those of the 83-year-old actor or his wife, 67-year-old Kia Ostling. Both were reported missing by their relatives who say the couple apparently was home when the fire destroyed the house early Friday.

The cause of the blaze is unknown.

Oscarsson won the best actor award at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival for his role as starving writer Pontus in the movie "Hunger."

During his career he starred in more than 100 Swedish films and TV series.

Some users of Microsoft Hotmail are starting off the new year scrambling to get back emails of old.

A chorus of frantic users has posted complaints on Microsoft's online forum that all of their messages have disappeared.

"Please help me get them back," wrote one user under the moniker Zacgore in a post dated Saturday. "All my kids' info and pictures are in there!"

Others complain that the majority of the email in their inboxes was sent to their deleted mail folders instead. It is unclear from the posts how widespread the problem is.

The free web-based email service is the world's most used with about 360 million users globally, according to comScore Inc.

Windows Live support technicians have said in numerous threads that the Hotmail team is aware of the problem and working on a fix.

"At this point it appears to be a limited issue, and Microsoft is working with individual users who are impacted. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," Microsoft spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said in statement Saturday. She declined to disclose what caused the glitch.

Microsoft's forum contains 476 pages of complaints about lost and deleted emails that date back to early November.
Frédéric Thiébaud and Shania Twain are pictured in
November in Los Angeles. Twain split from music
producer Robert Lang after 14 years of marriage
following allegations he'd had an affair with Thiébaud's
wife, Marie-Anne.
(Gus Ruelas/Associated Press)
Country songbird Shania Twain and TV sweetheart Valerie Bertinelli both kicked off 2011 in style by getting married.

Twain tied the knot with Swiss businessman Frédéric Thiébaud, in a small ceremony in Rincon, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 1. A message on her website says the two exchanged vows at sunset in front of 40 family members and friends.

The couple confirmed their engagement last month.

Thiébaud is the ex-husband of Twain's former friend Marie-Anne Thiébaud — the woman who allegedly came between Twain and her first husband, Robert (Mutt) Lange, who produced Twain's albums. Twain and Lange finalized their divorce last year.

In a posting last month, Twain wrote that she had "a renewed faith in love and commitment" and was feeling "optimistic about the future."
Ex-husband attends nuptials

In California, on the same day, Bertinelli got married in Malibu.

Her publicist, Heidi Schaeffer, told The Associated Press that the 50-year-old Hot in Cleveland star married financial planner Tom Vitale.

The ceremony took place in front of about 100 people at her home, according to People magazine.

Guests included Bertinelli's ex-husband, rocker Eddie Van Halen, and their son Wolfgang. Bertinelli and Van Halen split in 2000 and were officially divorced in 2007.

The actress is also the TV spokeswoman for the Jenny Craig weight loss system. She first found fame in the 1980s sitcom One Day at a Time.

She and the 49-year-old Vitale had been dating for seven years and were engaged during an Italian vacation in March.

(Reuters) - Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the second largest party in the ruling coalition, will leave the governing alliance and sit in opposition at the federal level, the party said on Sunday.

The decision by the MQM means the U.S.-backed government of President Asif Ali Zardari may now collapse because it will lose its majority in the National Assembly.

"It has been decided. We will sit on the opposition benches in the National Assembly and the Senate," MQM spokesman Wasay Jalil said.

The MQM, which is the dominant political force in the country's financial capital Karachi, last week withdrew its two ministers from the federal cabinet because of what it said was the government's failure to improve security.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said his government would not collapse despite the MQM move.

However, analysts said forming a new coalition would likely be a protracted delicate process and it was more likely that early elections would be called.
Congressional leaders return to Washington Wednesday
to open the first session of the 112th Congress.
Washington (CNN) -- The new Republican-majority House will vote on repealing or changing last year's health care overhaul before the State of the Union address, Rep. Fred Upton, incoming chairman of the energy and commerce committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Upton, a Michigan Republican, said that his party had 242 votes in favor of repeal, and that "there will be a significant number of Democrats who will join us."

if the House does manage to repeal the health care bill, such a move would likely meet strong obstacles in the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, after promoting Democratic-led health reform efforts for months after taking office. The law is widely considered to be the signature legislative accomplishment of the president's first two years in office.

ROME (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI says an apparent suicide bombing outside a Mass in Egypt that left 21 worshippers dead "offends God and all of humanity."

The pope offered condolences and expressed his grief for the victims and their families during his traditional Sunday Angelus prayer.

He compared the attack to bombs placed near churches in Iraq, saying both are meant to intimidate Christians and prevent them from attending services. Benedict has repeatedly denounced the violent campaign against Christians in Iraq blamed on al-Qaida militants.

He also remembered the "numerous" pastoral workers killed in 2010.

The pope urged Christians Saturday in his New Year's appeal to remain strong in the face of intolerance and violence.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The GOP's top House investigator in the new Congress is putting the White House on notice that he's going to be aggressive in going after what he considers wasteful spending by the Obama administration.

California Rep. Darrell Issa (EYE'-suh) is set to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform - and gain the chairman's subpoena power.

Issa suggests that the White House should hire more accountants - not lawyers - to deal with requests for information from the Republican-led House. He tells "Fox News Sunday" that it's "more of an accounting function than a legal function."

He also says the White House should look at wasteful spending - not the GOP - as the enemy.

AN Iranian newspaper says an overseas bidder has offered US$1 million for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 33-year-old car, which he is auctioning off for charity.

The report said various overseas bids had been received by the multilingual website set up yesterday for the auction.

The paper said the top bidders will be invited to the auction, which will be held in mid-February.

Online offers can be made until the end of January.

The 1977 white Peugeot sedan has put up for auction to fund a housing projects for disabled and young people.

The move is seen as an attempt to appeal to the young and bring attention to housing projects Mr Ahmadinejad promoted during his election campaigns, promising to put a roof over the head of every poor Iranian.
(CNN) -- Arkansas game officials hope testing scheduled to begin Monday will solve the mystery of why more than 1,000 blackbirds fell from the sky just before midnight New Year's Eve.

The birds -- most of which were dead -- were found within a one-mile area of Beebe, about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said.

Karen Rowe, an ornithologist for the commission, said the incident is not that unusual and is often caused by a lightning strike or high-altitude hail.

A strong storm system moved through the state earlier in the day Friday.

Officials also speculated that fireworks shot by New Year's revelers in the area might have caused severe stress in the birds.

"Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved them falling out of the sky, it is unlikely they were poisoned, but a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin," Rowe said.

The dead birds will be sent for testing to labs at the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and the National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin.
A severe thunderstorm threatening flash floods has been forecast for the already badly inundated Australian state of Queensland.

More than 20 towns have already been cut off or flooded across an area larger than France and Germany, with more than 200,000 people affected.

Meanwhile, a woman swept from the road in her car has become the first victim of the widespread flooding.

At least two other people have been reported missing.

In some areas waters are receding, but in Rockhampton - a city of 77,000 - they have yet to reach their peak.

Floodwaters could reach nine metres (30 feet) on Monday and peak at 9.4 metres on Wednesday, it says.

(Reuters) - Iran has shot down two unmanned western reconnaissance drone aircraft in the Gulf, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander told the semi-official Fars news agency on Sunday.

"Many spy planes and advanced planes of our enemies have been shot down (by our forces) ... We have also shot down two spy planes in the Persian Gulf," said commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh. "But it is the first time we are announcing it."

He did not say when the hostile aircraft had been shot down, but described them as "western drone reconnaissance" aircraft.

Iran is at odds with major powers over its nuclear activities, which the United States and its allies suspect are intended to enable Iran to produce nuclear bombs. Iran denies the allegations and says it wants only to generate electricity.

The United States and Israel, Iran's main foes, do not rule out military action if diplomacy fails to end the nuclear row.
The first of Canada's new Hercules aircraft has arrived in southern Afghanistan.  The new C-130J models will eventually replace the older, smaller and slower Hercules aircraft, which have been flying combat support missions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The current fleet is aging, with some of the aircraft having logged as many as 45,000 hours in the air.

Two more new Hercules aircraft will arrive in Kandahar just as Canadian troops prepare to wind up their combat mission later this year.

The Conservative government ordered 17 new Hercules aircraft from Lockheed Martin three years ago at a cost of $1.4 billion. The order is supposed to be filled by the end of 2012.

Other countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, already fly the new Hercules aircraft.
Jerusalem (CNN) -- Five members of Hamas were charged Sunday with planning to fire a rocket into a Jerusalem stadium during a soccer game, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

The five were arrested in November, Rosenfeld said.

According to a statement from Israel's security service, the Shin Bet, the two main suspects were identified as Mussa Hamada of East Jerusalem, and Bassem Omri, an Israeli citizen living in Beit Tzafafa. Both are members of Hamas and the "Muslim Brothers" movement in Jerusalem, the Shin Bet said.

The pair are suspected of planning terrorist attacks following Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in 2008, the statement said.

One of the possibilities they considered was possibly firing a missile into the soccer stadium in Jerusalem during a game.

Three other Palestinians were charged with selling them pistols, Shin Bet said.

residents suspected of planning attacks in Jerusalem , a statement from the Shin Bet said Sunday. According to the statement the two main suspects Mussa Hamada of Ztur Baher in East Jerusalem and Bassem Omri , an Israeli citizen living in Beit TZafafa are members of the Hamas and the "Muslim Brothers" movement in Jerusalem.The two are suspected that after operation cast lead two years ago they began to plan terrorist attacks to carry out in Jerusalem. They examined the possibility of firing a missile into the football stadium in Jerusalem during a football game. the two were charged Sunday.3 other Palestinians were charged with selling them pistols and were also charged Sunday.
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- It started with a young man who set himself on fire, acting out of desperation after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he sold without a permit.

Mohamed Bouazizi was a 26-year-old university graduate without a steady job, trying to support his family. His self-immolation - which left him in intensive care, wrapped head to toe in white bandages - shocked the North African nation and sparked protests over unemployment that have led to at least three deaths.

For decades, Tunisia has promoted itself as an Arab world success story, a place where the economy is stronger than in neighboring countries, women's rights are respected, unrest is rare and European tourists can take stress-free vacations at beach resorts.

But the recent protests have exposed a side of Tunisia that the country has long tried to hide: the poverty of the countryside, poor job prospects for youths and seething resentment at the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who has ruled Tunisia with an iron fist since 1987.

Groups including the International Monetary Fund have praised Tunisia for holding up relatively well during the global economic crisis, and the country had growth of 3.1 percent in 2010, according to government figures.

Unemployment is the weak spot, at nearly 14 percent last year. The situation is worse outside the capital and tourist zones, in regions like Sidi Bouzid in the center-west, where Bouazizi lived.

It's also worse for educated youths. In a country where schooling has been emphasized for decades, 80,000 educated graduates enter the job market every year, and there isn't enough work for them.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- NATO forces captured two key insurgent leaders in Afghanistan, while a service member was killed in a deadly bombing that raised to three the number of coalition troops killed since the new year began, the multinational alliance said Sunday.

The NATO fatalities - all in Taliban's traditional southern stronghold - kicked off 2011 on a grim note for the international coalition. The British defense ministry identified one of two troops killed Saturday as British.

NATO officials say they are making major progress in the war, but note that the gains are reversible. Insurgents are using Pakistan as a base for some of their operations and the government of President Hamid Karzai is widely seen by many Afghans and international observers as so far unable to offer key services to a population struggling for a sense of normalcy amid years of war.

The coalition, however, has stepped up efforts to quell the insurgency - issuing daily announcements of Taliban leaders or their aides captured or killed in joint operations with their Afghan counterparts. The aim is to both undercut the insurgency and to pressure the Taliban to consider peacemaking.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) -- The United Nations said it will do everything it can to locate areas where human rights abuses have allegedly occurred in Ivory Coast following disputed presidential elections.

Human rights groups have warned that security forces loyal to incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power, have been abducting political opponents in recent weeks. The U.N. also believes up to 80 bodies may have been moved to a building nestled among shacks in a pro-Gbagbo neighborhood.

Investigators have tried to go there several times, and even made it as far as the building's front door before truckloads of men with guns showed up and forced them to leave. A second mass burial site is believed to be located near Gagnoa in the interior of the country, the U.N. said. Gbagbo's government has repeatedly denied the existence of mass graves.

The U.N. has said the volatile West African nation once divided in two faces a real risk of return to civil war, but a top ally of Alassane Ouattara, the man widely recognized as Ivory Coast's president, said this war has already begun.

The air force hit three targets in the Strip including weapons factory; IDF says it holds Hamas responsible for all terrorist activity in Gaza.

Talkbacks (1)

Two people were wounded Saturday night in an IAF strike on Gaza, according to Palestinian rescue services.

The IAF hit three targets in Gaza, including a weapons manufacturing factory in Central Gaza. Direct hits were confirmed.
The attack came in response to the firing of a Kassam rocket from the Gaza Strip that landed in a Sha'ar Hanegev regional council kibbutz overnight Friday leading to one woman suffering shock.

No damage was reported and the woman was treated on scene.

The IDF said in a statement that it "holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorist activity emanating from it."

The IDF said it would also "continue to respond harshly to any attempt to use terror against the State of Israel."

This is the latest in a series of escalations along the Gaza border.

Last Tuesday the IDF in cooperation with the IAF opened fire upon several Palestinians seen approaching the Gaza border fence. One person was killed.

IDF forces in the area suspected the cell of attempting to plant explosive devices along the border. They opened fire and IDF confirmed hitting one of the suspects.
(Reuters) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will use a visit to Israel this week to assess passenger vetting and other counter-terrorism measures at its Ben-Gurion Airport, government officials said on Sunday.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at a White House forum
on intellectual property theft and the risks of counterfeited products for U.S. consumers
at the White House in Washington in this December 14, 2010 file photo.
Napolitano, whose tenure has been dogged by two attempted al Qaeda attacks on U.S.-bound planes as well as traveler protests at intrusive airport pat-downs and screenings, was due to arrive in Israel by Monday for several low-key professional meetings.

"She'll be consulting with the Airport Authority, among other things," said an official briefed on the visit, which will include other countries.

Security at Ben-Gurion, Israel's main international airport, is considered to be among the most effective in world aviation, though civil liberties groups chafe at what they call a policy of singling out Arab passengers for extra scrutiny.

Earlier this year one of my friends was killed in a small plane accident. His family still does not have access to his email and Facebook accounts. To send messages they post to his wall for other of his “Friends” to see.

So much of our lives are now online. In the event something happens, who will know where or how to pay your bills? Where your critical documents are? How about paperless accounts that might have assets to manage? With a new year just hours away I want to mention briefly that we all need to consider just how to pass along our critical information to others in case something happens to us. Consider that one of the most critical last words you could say might just be your password!

There are many ways to pass along password information to others. I use encrypted documents to keep all of my online records safe, so having the key to the encryption method I use is very critical or nothing can be accessed. Easiest of course is to simply share the information with a trusted companion or family member. The issue of account access is additionally complicated when you include Wills and other issues you wish to make known to family members.

To help address these concerns there are many methods available. I’ll include a sample below to show a few companies that have ways you can automate the process. Once notified of your demise via an official death certificate, Legacy Locker will contact people whose names you’ve provided. You can divide up who gets what information and thus send different account information or assets to different beneficiaries. It’s free to have one beneficiary and up to three assets. It’s $29.99 a year for unlimited beneficiaries and assets.

For quicker access to your assets, you can setup an email based system. uses periodic e-mails based on a schedule you set up. If you fail to respond to an e-mail after a certain period of time, Death Switch delivers e-mails you’ve prepared in advance to the person you’ve designated. You control the timing and messaging so consider offline scenarios such as a hospital visit before you send out messaging presuming death. There is no charge for the basic service. To send multiple e-mails, you pay $19.95 a year for up to 30 e-mails with attachments. uses a system where several of your friends need to log in to confirm your passing. Once the critical number has been reached a time delay is triggered after which your information will be released as you scheduled and determined.

As you can see, there are many ways to manage your documents. Some banks also offer critical document storage methods too. The key to all of this is to plan for and determine in advance how you would like your affairs to be managed in the case of some type of critical event or death.

JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Israeli military said Sunday it was investigating the death of a Palestinian woman overcome by tear gas fired by soldiers at a West Bank protest.

In an unrelated incident Sunday, a Palestinian man was killed in the West Bank after trying to attack Israeli troops at a checkpoint, Palestinian and Israeli security officials said.

Contradictory accounts were given of the circumstances surrounding the death Saturday of the 36-year-old protester, Jawaher Abu Rahmeh, a day after she inhaled the gas at the weekly demonstration against Israel's West Bank separation barrier in the village of Bilin.

Tear gas is meant to be a non-lethal crowd control method and is used routinely by Israeli troops at protests. But doctors say the gas can kill on rare occasions if a victim has a pre-existing condition.

Dr. Mohammed Eideh, who treated Abu Rahmeh in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, said she had asthma. Her parents said she did not.

Is Verizon ringing in the New Year with a price drop to its Samsung Galaxy Tab (our review)? According to one of our peeps and that picture above, stores should be changing out displays to reflect a $499 price change, plus an added bonus of $60 worth of free movie rentals through either the Blockbuster app or Media Hub. Wait, weren’t we just talking about a price drop being critical to the Gtab on Thursday? Why yes we were.

Update: We just confirmed through a second store connection. They also pointed out that if any of you purchased a Galaxy Tab within the last 14 days for $599, you should head back into the store and get a refund of $100. Sweet deal.

I should point out that I’m still seeing a $599 price point online in both Samsung’s and Verizon’s stores, so this could be a special in-store promotion or maybe it’s just too damn early on New Year’s Day for anyone to be caring about things like this.

Does $499 have you dying to buy one?

Cheers Daniel!