Thursday, January 13, 2011

Washington (CNN) -- He does not have the megawatt celebrity status of Sarah Palin, but he doesn't have the political baggage, either.

Nor does he have as much money in his political action committee as that of other potential presidential candidates. In fact, if you mention his name in many circles, the response may be, "Who is that?"

Herman Cain is a conservative African-American Republican who's a radio talk show host based in Atlanta. He might be the first to announce that he's running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.

Cain, who's fond of getting laughs by calling himself the "dark horse" in the presidential guessing game, announced Wednesday that he's forming a presidential exploratory committee. In an interview with CNN, Cain explained his intentions.

"We have taken the step of hiring some key staff already such that, when I am in the exploratory phase, I will be able to really make a good assessment of whether I can get the nomination and ultimately go on to win the presidency," he said.

He added, "So in fact, establishing the exploratory committee is one of the main vehicles in which you can go out and start to raise funds."

BRAZIL is grappling with its worst natural disaster in more than four decades, a calamitous collapse of rain-soaked hillsides near Rio that has killed nearly 400 people.

The disaster zone is a mountainous area just north of Rio de Janeiro known as the Serrana.

Freakish storms there on Wednesday dumped the equivalent of a months' rain in just a few hours, sending mudslides and fierce torrents slicing through towns and hamlets, destroying homes, roads and bridges and knocking out telephone and power lines.

At least 378 people died, according to local officials and media in the worst affected towns of Novo Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis.

The death toll was expected to rise further as rescuers arrived on Thursday in remote hamlets, many cut off to all but helicopter access.

"One woman tried to save her children but her two-month-old baby was carried away by a torrent like a doll," sobbed Angela, a 55-year-old resident of Teresopolis who saw the destruction.

Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri is viewed
by some as a hero for killing Salman Taseer
Two Pakistani television channels have been fined for breaching regulations in their coverage of the 4 January killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

The stations, Samaa and Waqt TV, were ordered to pay one million rupees each ($11,670) by media regulator, Pemra.

It said they had encouraged terrorism and shown bloodshed by repeatedly airing an interview with Mumtaz Qadri, who has admitted killing Mr Taseer.

Websites should also stop spreading violence, Pemra's head told the BBC.

Although many in Pakistan condemned the assassination, some religious leaders have praised the governor's killer.

The governor - a senior member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - had recently angered Islamists by appealing for a Christian woman, sentenced to death for blasphemy, to be pardoned.

(CNN) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended Ghana on Wednesday in a move which could prevent the west-African country from competing in the 2012 London Games.

The IOC cited "political interference" from the Ghanaian government as the reason behind the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Ghana's expulsion.

"The IOC has deployed every possible effort in order to help resolve the situation that the NOC of Ghana has been facing for 18 months and find a long-term solution with all parties concerned," read an IOC press release.

The statement went on to claim that an "obvious lack of cooperation of the government authorities in Ghana and a lack of respect of the Ghana public authorities" led to the nation's ban.

Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, claimed Ghana's suspension was as a result of the county's sports laws, which "do not respect the provisions of the Olympic charter."

"There have been many promises that the law would be changed but nothing materialized," Rogge told reporters at the organization's headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As a result of the IOC's decision, Ghana will also lose its Olympic funding.

Ghana have won four medals at previous summer games, with Clement Quartey their most successful medalist after he claimed a silver in the men's light welterweight boxing division at the 1960 Rome Games.

Eddie Blay claimed a bronze medal for the country in the same discipline four years later in Tokyo, while Prince Amartey also achieved a bronze medal in the middleweight division at the 1972 Munich Games.

Ghana's last Olympic medal was in 1992, when their men's football team came third in Barcelona.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- NASA has named a backup commander, if necessary, to take the place of the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot last week.

The space agency emphasized that Capt. Mark Kelly, who is Giffords' husband of more than three years, is still the commander for the final scheduled flight of the space shuttle program. Endeavour is scheduled to launch on April 19 on a trip to the International Space Station.

Kelly said in a written statement released by NASA that he recommended to the space agency that they "take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence if necessary."

Chief astronaut Peggy Whitson said the move allows Kelly to keep his attention on his family.

Pat Loder knows. She's been there.

Loder buried both her children -- 8-year-old Stephanie and 5-year-old Stephen -- in a shared coffin two decades ago this March.

A speeding motorcycle broadsided Loder's car as she attempted to turn left onto her street. Her only children died of injuries in the crash.

"It was very difficult for my daughter's classmates," said Loder, now 55 and executive director of Compassionate Friends, an international support group that helps those who have lost children.

"I am sure these kids will have nightmares," she said. "It was traumatic and violent. Ours was a sudden death, too. One day they are playing with a playmate and the next day there were gone."

"And it makes them feel unsafe," Loder said. "In their mind's eye, it's not safe to go to corner market or to a friend's house without someone else. It's a natural part of the process."

But are these young grievers too young to attend the funeral?

"We can't make a generalization whether they should go or not," said Loder. "It really needs to be up to the parents to decide if they are mature enough."

UK urban artist Tinie Tempah leads the charge at this year's Brit Awards with four nominations.

The 22-year-old is up for best British male, best breakthrough act, best single for Pass Out and and album of the year for Disc-Overy.

Rapper Plan B and folk band Mumford And Sons and The xx all have three nominations and band Take That are up for two prizes.

This year's ceremony will be hosted by comedian James Corden in February.
Stanford has its new football coach. And he's a familiar face.

Cardinal athletic director Bob Bowlsby went in-house, hiring David Shaw to replace Jim Harbaugh, who left the program last Friday to accept the head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers.

Shaw has been on the Stanford staff since Harbaugh arrived in 2007. He served as offensive coordinator and running backs coach.

The search to replace Harbaugh reportedly included an overture to Boise State's Chris Petersen and interviews with in-house candidates Shaw, associate head coach Greg Roman and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, as well as former Stanford player and current Yale coach Tom Williams.

Shaw, 38, was endorsed by several Stanford players, who want to continue the program's momentum after a 12-1 season that culminated with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. The Cardinal finished a best-ever No. 4 in the national rankings.

Just days after that win, star quarterback Andrew Luck, the runner-up in the Heisman vote, announced he would return for another year of school and football.

Shaw's hiring is a nod to continuity in a program that is experiencing some of the best days in its history.

It's also a bit of a risk considering that Shaw has never been a college head coach.

Shaw is a Stanford alum and Bay Area native with plenty of ties to the Bay Area football community. His father, WIllie, was an assistant coach at Stanford during two separate tenures and is a veteran NFL assistant coach. Willie Shaw was a finalist for the Stanford job in 1992 when Bill Walsh ended up returning to coach the program.

David Shaw has eight years experience as an NFL coach, including working as quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2001 and Baltimore Ravens from 2002-2005.

Shaw joined Harbaugh as his lead assistant at the University of San Diego in 2006 and returned to his alma mater with Harbaugh in 2007.

Astronomers have restored the original Babylonian zodiac by recalculating the dates that correspond with each sign to accommodate millennia of subtle shifts in the Earth's axis. Prepare to have your minds blown, all you people with easily blowable minds.

Here is the zodiac as the ancient Babylonians intended it—with the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation's "house"—according to the Minnesota Planetarium Society's Parke Kunkle:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

 Discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.

I was born a Virgo, and because that's the shittiest sign in the zodiac, I have long refused to believe in astrology and forbid my loved ones from believing in it, either. (My anal retentive need to destroy an entire worldview because I do not like my role in it is, I am told, part of my Virgo nature.) If I'm really a Leo, though, who knows. [Star Tribune, Fox News, WTHR via LadyE. Image via]

This joint development of a personality than the face of the tragedy, Australia's deadly floodwaters, and now claimed just such a completely contains everything that is good in human nature.

At least 25 people have died because of relentless rain began to beat East Queensland state in November, but death is 13 years old Jordan Rice has captivated the nation.

Monday, rapidly rising water flooded a car carrying Rice, her mother and brother of the stricken city of Toowoomba. The Pirate mess in the first that attempted to reach the stranded families.

The other man reached the car, but when he attempted to pull Jordan out, the teenager insisted the 10-year-old brother Blake can save the first. Jordan could not swim.

Before the rescue, Warren McErlean go back to the car, clung to a rope snapped. The car flipped over and Jordan, as well as Donna's mother whisked away by the floods. They both died.

"Jordan was swept away," John Tyson, Donna Rice and longtime partner of Jordan's father, told The Telegraph.

"When we went to Donna, just let go, you know, trying to seize Jordan. The poor little boy, only two of the drowned."

"He (rescue) went to grab the first Jordan, who said, 'Save my brother." I can only imagine the fear coursing through his body. "

"Courage is kicked, and his younger brother would prefer to live in," Jordan's brother, Kyle, 16, told the Australian newspaper.

The incident left McErlean confusion. Emotional told Australian television interview that he is deeply sorry that it is unable to rescue the boy.

"I just kept telling the boys (Jordan), it will be okay, but it was not. I feel terrible for you and your family. I just could not get him out."

Twitter tweets of the wave is called Jordan a "real hero" of the Queensland floods.
NEW YORK (AP) - Lady Gaga, Eminem, Katy Perry is set to perform in 53 annual Grammy Awards.

Recording Academy on Thursday as the candidates on stage at the awards show. It is broadcast live on February 13 Arcade Fire, Cee Lo Green and Miranda Lambert will carry out.

Eminem leads this year with 10 nominations. He has won 11 Grammy Awards throughout his career. Lady Gaga for six awards, but green and Perry are four. Arcade Fire and Lambert each have three nominations.

Other top candidates in March and seven Lady Antebellum Bruno and Jay-Z, each six.

awards show will air on CBS from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The strange (now mostly sad) saga of Ted Williams continues. Or concludes, as the case may be.

Yesterday Williams told Dr. Phil (naturally) that he had decided to check into rehab. Yes.

Perhaps not the most shocking announcement considering Williams' past struggles with drug and alcohol, but still sad.

"If Ted is ever going to get better, he's got to be honest with himself and admit he's addicted to drugs and alcohol," said Dr. Phil. "I've told him it's not going to be easy and it's going to take a lot of hard work. It might be a long journey for him, but this is a big step in the right direction."

Indeed. And so concludes the media's exploitation of a momentary feel good story. Way to lean forward everyone!

Baton Rouge - LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton said Thursday he has accepted the same position with the the University of Maryland.

Crowton said he told Coach Les Miles at a staff meeting Thursday morning he was taking the job under newly-hired head coach Randy Edsall, with whom Crowton worked under Tom Coughlin at Boston College for three seasons.

Crowton was LSU's offensive coordinator since 2007, helping the Tigers set school record for yardage, points and plays run in the BCS national championship season.

"It's a new challenge in my coaching career and I'm excited about that, knowing that I left LSU, which is a great place, with great memories of the player, coaches and everything," Crowton said in a telephone interview.

It's just a coincidence, but it's an unfortunate one nonetheless. Reddit user carblos was in Tuscon, near the site of the Arizona shooting, and noticed this billboard for Rush Limbaugh's radio show:

The billboard has apparently been there for quite some time, but Limbaugh's people might want to take it down now.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles police say actor Peter Fonda discovered a dead body in a car and they are investigating the death.

Sgt. Carlton Cook at the West Los Angeles Community Police Station says the "Easy Rider" actor called 911 on Wednesday after he spotted a car parked on the side of Sunset Boulevard. Cook says the 70-year-old Fonda is absolutely not a suspect but did not have any more details.

The call was first reported by TMZ, which says Fonda got out of his car and found the man slumped over in the front seat.

Fonda is best known for his role in the 1969 film "Easy Rider" as sex-and-drugs loving biker Captain America. Other film credits include "Race With the Devil," "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry," and "3:10 to Yuma."
CAIRO (AP) -- The Turkish prime minister has called on Israelis to remove their foreign minister in a interview with the Arabic news channel Jazeera.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan called the outspoken Israeli minister "a problem at the head of Israel" in an interview broadcast Wednesday night.

He said Israelis had the duty to "rid themselves" of Avigdor Lieberman or risk him causing them more problems in the future.

Relations between the two countries hit an all-time low in May, when Israeli naval commandos killed nine activists from Turkey on board a Gaza-bound ship that tried to breach Israel's naval blockade.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv and Turkish leaders denounced Israel repeatedly over the raid.

(Reuters) - Economic growth in the world's wealthier nations is still too slow to create enough jobs for the tens of millions who lost their during the worst global recession since World War Two, the World Bank said on Wednesday.

In a report detailing its outlook for 2011, the multilateral lender forecast the global economy would expand 3.3 percent this year, softer than the 3.9 percent expansion seen during 2010.

Growth in the developing world will sharply outstrip growth in mature economies. The World Bank forecast growth in emerging economies of 6 percent in 2011, weaker than last year's 7 percent rate. Rich countries, in contrast, will grow only 2.4 percent, down from 2.8 percent for 2010.

"The recovery in many high-income countries has not been strong enough to make major inroads into high unemployment in spare capacity," the report said.

The United States, the world's largest economy, is a case in point. The economy exited its worst recession in generations in the summer of 2009. But at 2.6 percent on latest count, growth has been too soft to put a meaningful dent in a stubbornly high jobless rate -- now at 9.4 percent.

The World Bank predicts the U.S. economy will grow 2.8 percent in 2011, largely in line with a median forecast of 2.7 percent in a Reuters poll of private sector economists.

In Europe, recovery has been hampered by persistent worries about highly-indebted countries like Greece and Portugal, which have kept borrowing costs high and led to severe market disruptions.

Euro zone growth is expected to slow to 1.4 percent this year from 1.7 percent in 2010, the World Bank said. Indeed, the report cited the continent's ongoing debt debacle as a key risk to the global recovery.

Given a backdrop of uncertainty, monetary authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have adopted a policy of extremely low interest rates, which the World Bank blamed for rising currency exchange rates in parts of the developing world.

"Capital inflows into some middle-income countries have placed undue and potentially damaging upward pressure on currencies," the World Bank said.

The U.S. Federal Reserve, in particular, has come under intense criticism from officials in emerging economies for its policy of purchasing government bonds to keep long-term rates down.

The U.S. central bank argues it must focus on the domestic economy, saying other countries have their own ways of dealing with rising capital inflows.

A range of countries have adopted measures such as tariffs and capital controls in order to stem the influx, which some fear could reverse quickly if conditions shift.

(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Leslie Adler)