Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A replica of a prized Eric Clapton guitar that duplicates the cigarette burns and belt buckle scratches found on the original could fetch as much as $20,000 at a New York City auction.

Proceeds from the Wednesday sale are to benefit a drug and alcohol treatment center Clapton founded in the West Indies.

The British artist has donated 70 guitars and 70 amps to the Bonhams New York sale.

The replica Fender Stratocaster "Blackie" guitar is inscribed in silver felt pen "Eric Clapton 2010." The original "Blackie" sold at Christie's in 2004 for $959,500. Bonhams says it's the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

The 65-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is a recovered addict who established the nonprofit Crossroads Centre in Antigua in 1998.
Americans, who are suffering from high gasoline prices, believe the United States is on the wrong track by a large margin, presenting a fresh challenge for President Barack Obama, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Wednesday.

The proportion of Americans who believe the country is on the right track dropped 7 points in the past month to 31 percent, and 64 percent think the country is on the wrong track.

It was the highest number of people in an Ipsos poll who believe the country is going in the wrong direction since Obama took office in January 2009.

Ipsos pollster Cliff Young said the rating was a direct result of gasoline prices that have risen sharply in recent weeks as a result of tumult in North Africa and the Middle East.

"We are moving into a scenario in the near-term that is much more uncertain given the issue of gas prices," he said. "Gas prices specifically are things that affect people's pocketbooks and have an immediate impact."

U.S. retail gasoline prices spiked more than 10 percent over the past two weeks to an average of $3.52 a gallon, the second largest two-week rise on record. Crude oil prices have shot up due to the violence in Libya that has cut that country's production by two-thirds while sanctions have all but halted its exports.

February survey had said Americans by 57 percent to 38 percent believed the country was on the right track.
NCAA selection committee chairman Gene Smith is ready to get to work.

After months of traveling, meetings and tracking games, Smith and the other nine committee members will select the first 68-team field in NCAA tournament history this weekend.

Initial votes on the 37 at-large teams are expected Wednesday afternoon. The work now includes picking eight teams to play in opening-round games at Dayton next week.

Smith also finds himself at the center of a scandal at Ohio State where he is the athletic director. He declined to take questions about the controversy Wednesday while acknowledging two other committee members are dealing with "significant" personal issues.
Businesses at the wholesale level added to their stockpiles in January and their sales jumped by the largest amount in 14 months. But the spike in sales was partially influenced by rising oil prices.

Wholesale inventories rose 1.1 percent in January, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. It was the 12th gain in 13 months.

Sales at the wholesale level rose for the seventh straight month. The 3.4 percent increase was the largest gain since November 2009.

Still, a 10.6 percent rise in demand for petroleum helped drive the jump in sales, reflecting higher oil and gas prices.
Marriage and parenthood aren't necessarily a package deal for for Americans under the age of 30, a new survey finds. Instead, young adults say they put a higher value on raising children than getting married.

Fifty-two percent of millennials said that being a good parent is "one of the most important things" in life, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday. 

In contrast, only 30% of adults 18-29 surveyed in January 2010 put having a successful marriage in the same category.

Millennials' opinion on the importance of parenting is different from when young adults of Generation X were asked the same question during a Washington Post/Kaiser/Harvard survey in 1997. 

Forty-two percent of Gen-Xers then said that being a good parent was very important to them, while 35% put a successful marriage at the same level.

FIFA says Isaac David Sasso Sasso, an executive committee member for 17 years, died at his home in Costa Rica on Tuesday. He was 85.

Sasso Sasso also was vice president of the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football from 1990-07 before stepping down because of ill health.

CONCACAF President Jack Warner says in a statement that "we have tremendous respect for Isaac David Sasso Sasso's service."

The cause of death was not announced.

Sasso Sasso was a director of Costa Rican club Herediano. In 1990 he began an eight-year stint as national federation president.

At FIFA, he helped organize Olympics soccer tournaments.
A Swedish bank robber forgot to cover his tracks and left three bottles of urine behind after hiding inside a bank vault in Copenhagen for three days.

The 27-year-old man and his accomplice used the bottles to relieve themselves after sneaking into the vault on a Friday in May and remaining there until the bank opened again the following Monday.

While inside, the robbers emptied 140 safety deposit boxes of at least $500,000 in cash and jewelry. But Prosecutor Frederik Larsen said Wednesday they forgot to take the urine when they left "so we were able to get their DNA samples from the bottles."

The evidence helped prosecutors win a 21-month prison sentence for the Swede on Tuesday. His accomplice is still at large and the loot hasn't been recovered.
India batsman Sachin Tendulkar became the first player in history to score 2,000 runs at the Cricket World Cup, as the hosts eased to a five-wicket win over the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Chasing a target of 189 runs to win, India booked their place in the quarterfinals of the tournament with 13 overs to spare in Delhi.

Tendulkar, 37, was playing in his 40th World Cup match and reached a score of 27 before he was caught by Bradley Kruger off the bowling of Pieter Seelaar.

Nicknamed "the little master", Tendulkar made his World Cup debut in 1992 and has hit five centuries and 13 fifties in cricket's premier 50-over competition.
50 Cent is the latest artist to make a donation to charity after it was revealed he performed at an event linked to the clan of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

A statement released to The Associated Press on Wednesday said the rapper, who has his own G-Unity foundation, will be making a donation to UNICEF to help with that organization's relief efforts during the turmoil in Libya.

"In light of the ongoing events in Libya, 50 Cent will be making a donation to UNICEF, which is providing vital relief supplies to meet the needs of women and children at risk during this crisis," said a representative for 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson.

50 Cent performed at a private event during the 2005 Venice Film Festival that was later linked to the Gadhafi clan. Gadhafi is battling rebels who are revolting against his rule, and faces an investigation for possible war crimes.

Last week, Beyonce, Usher, Mariah Carey and Nelly Furtado announced donations to charity in the wake of their participation in private concerts connected to the Gadhafis.

On Twitter, Furtado acknowledged getting $1 million to perform for guests in Italy in 2007; she said she was donating the money, but did not announce a charity.

Yoga Effects on life

Yoga is a group of ancient practices which were first developed in India. It is still popular in the country today, and is considered to be a spiritual exercise. Many Indians see it as a way of attaining enlightenment. Yoga is broken down into four primary categories, and these are Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga. However, these are only a few of the many variations of this exercise. Yoga has become popular in the West, and is well known because of its many postures.

While yoga is commonly seen as just being an exercise in the West, it is an important part of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. For those who are followers of these religions, yoga is not only seen as being an exercise, but is also a method that can be used to attain enlightenment. This practice has existed for thousands of years, and has been mentioned in a number of important Indian texts such as the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Contemporary yoga is comprised of a number of different principles, and many of these are taken from Indian religions.
Lebanon's Maronite bishops are meeting to elect a new patriarch for the Middle East's largest Catholic church.

The closed-door meeting behind closed doors started Wednesday evening and could last two weeks at Bkirki, northeast of Beirut. About 40 bishops will spend their time holding prayers and consultations.

The head of the Maronite Church, which has up to 5 million followers worldwide, exerts significant influence in Lebanon, where Christians make up about 40 percent of the country's 4 million people.

The outgoing patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, was deeply involved in Lebanon's fractious politics. The 90-year-old Sfeir asked to be relieved of his post because of his age. Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation last month.
It started with a photograph. A little boy stands beaming in his plaid jumpsuit, hands on his hips and knee cocked just so.

"This is a gay kid," thought Los Angeles-based DJ "Paul V.," as he looked at the happy, smiling face.
And with that, Born This Way was, well, born.

"My first thought was, 'Wouldn't it be great if there was photographic evidence of gay kids that would show that being gay is something innate and it's not a choice and that these things come out in us as children?' " he says.

Paul V., as he is known professionally, mulled over the idea of turning the concept into a coffee table book, but wanted to move faster after the rash of teen suicides attributed to anti-gay bullying in fall 2010. He created a blog.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday nominated Commerce Secretary Gary Locke as ambassador to China. If confirmed by the Senate he would be the first Chinese-American to hold the sensitive post.

Locke would succeed Republican Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor who's seen as a potential challenger to Obama in the 2012 presidential race.

"Our relationship with China is one of the most critical of the 21st century," Obama said at the White House with Locke and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at his side.

"As the grandson of a Chinese immigrant who went on to live the American dream, Gary is the right person to continue this cooperation," Obama said.

The ambassadorship to China is one of the most critical jobs in U.S. diplomacy given America's complex and sometimes strained ties with the huge and growing Asian power.

Obama said he'd be counting on Locke to advocate for American businesses and boost exports and American jobs, and draw on management skills he developed as governor of Washington state to develop the complicated relationship with China.

Locke, 61, drew on his family history in accepting the nomination. He talked about how his grandfather first came to America to work as a houseboy in a Washington home in exchange for English lessons. His father, who also was born in China, died in January, and Locke said it would have been "one of his proudest moments to see his son named as the United States ambassador to his ancestral homeland."

"I'm going back to the birthplace of my grandfather, my father, my mom and her side of the family. And I'll be doing so as a devoted and passionate advocate for America, the country where I was born and raised," said Locke, as his wife and young children watched on in the Diplomatic Room.

In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week, Locke touted the economic relationship he has helped build between the U.S. and China and said U.S. exports to China increased 34 percent last year.

Obama has set a goal of doubling within five years the amount of American goods that are sold to other countries - an effort in which Locke has been a key cheerleader.

Despite the administration's increased pressure on Beijing, the U.S. trade imbalance with China reached an all-time high last year - $273.1 billion.

Before taking over at Commerce, Locke worked on China issues for a Seattle-based law firm. He joined the firm after declining, for family reasons, to seek a third term as Washington state's governor; Locke became the nation's first Chinese-American state chief executive when he was elected governor in 1996.

He'll become the first member of Obama's Cabinet to leave the Cabinet.
Chester Bennington is wailing, "The sun goes down, I feel the light betray me" on your radio; the cold beads of sweat that form on your forehead agree with Bennington– for the nth time you have a long exam tomorrow morning and you are nowhere near prepared. You call on every divinity, pray to every God, to be miraculously given effective study skills; however, you will settle for time to stop so you can cram longer.

Hypothetically, if time did stop, how can you make up for lost time and acquire effective study skills? How about through M.U.R.D.E.R.:

Think of studying as a date that you would like to impress and go out of your way. Create the right ambience. Pick a place that can help you concentrate, most people need a place where there is silence but there are a handful of people that need noise to concentrate. Play some music to sustain your mood.
The embattled Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is one of those rare figures in the world who manages to not only seize power, but also hold onto it for decades. Despite the inevitable mythology that grows up around such figures, however, it is worth noting that he has not done it alone. He has had a large, if at times quarrelsome, family to help him hold onto the reins.

Gadhafi has nine grown children. One is the result of a short marriage to his first wife, seven are with his second wife, and one is adopted. They hold many positions of influence in Libya's security forces, military, telecommunications, and other industries, and plenty of Libya watchers believe Gadhafi uses them not only as agents of his will, but also his eyes and ears.

The most noted power player is Saif Al-Islam. He is the one who shows up relatively often in TV interviews. He is the second oldest son, the oldest from the second wife. He was educated at the London School of Economics. He speaks fluent English, is a fastidious dresser, and he paints. An exhibition of his work was displayed in Moscow.

More importantly, he has long been seen as a possible successor to his father. He has denied any such desire, but others were interested in the idea for quite some time because he was considered more modern in his thinking, even reform minded by many Libya watchers. But that was before his recent and very public vows to fight the protestors to the end.

Another possible successor to the family throne is Mutassim, and accordingly his relationship with Saif Al-Islam is believed to be tense. Mutassim once allegedly helped plot a coup against his father and had to flee the country when it failed. He was eventually forgiven and is now his father's national security adviser. Mutassim was involved in official talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009 about improving U.S./Libyan relations.
Q: I have had severe, chronic back and sciatic pain for many years. My particular problems cannot be resolved surgically. Nerve blocks and other minimally invasive procedures have been partially successful in temporarily reducing the pain.

Medications have reduced my back pain, but the sciatic pain continues to be severe. My pain specialist has suggested an implantable nerve stimulator for the sciatic nerve. How successful are these devices? 

Conditions Expert
Dr. Otis Brawley
Chief Medical Officer,
American Cancer Society

Expert answer

Dear Larry,
I consulted several physiatrists (nerve, muscle, and bone experts who treat injuries or illnesses that affect movement) and neurologists with extensive experience in the treatment of chronic low back pain and pain radiating down the sciatic nerve of the leg in order to answer your question.
They stress that almost all adults have low back pain at some time in their lives and the outcomes are good with the pain going away for most within three months.
Acute low back pain is defined as lasting less than four weeks. Sub-acute low back pain is commonly defined as back pain lasting between four and 12 weeks and chronic low back pain persists for 12 or more weeks.
The health care provider will initially evaluate the patient with low back pain by getting a history of the pain and doing a targeted physical examination. The exam focuses on excluding serious neurologic problems such as malignancy or infection.

Barbara A. Mosgrave of Annandale, Virginia, doesn't remember the first time it happened. It's still a blur. But she thinks the episodes began about 50 years ago. At least that's when she remembers someone telling her she was talking gibberish.

"My friends would look at me and say 'What are you talking about?'

At 71, Mosgrave knows to expect the unexpected. Since she was a teen she has suffered from serious migraines. "The kind that cause you to go into a dark room, and shut the door; the pain is that bad," she says. But she knew how to control them, and why they were happening. Yet, when it came to her speech, that was different.

"I had no idea that I was babbling," she admits.

Yet when people began telling her at times she didn't make any sense, she started to wonder; why were her words and phrases coming out all wrong? At first, Mosgrave thought she might be having mini-strokes, but when she went to numerous neurologists they all told her the same thing: She was suffering from a form of headache classified as a complex migraine.
A spokesman for the troubled "Spider-Man" musical on Broadway insisted Wednesday that the show is still scheduled to open next week, as talk swirled that the production will shut down for several weeks and the opening will be put off for months.

Rick Miramontez, spokesman for "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," said, "We are not confirming or commenting on the recent reports" in The New York Times and elsewhere. The $65 million show, he said, is still scheduled to open March 15. re the show.

Published reports, citing anonymous sources in the production, have also said that director Julie Taymor may already be on the way out, after struggling for months to revamp the show amid scathing reviews from some theater critics.

Taymor did not respond to phone calls from The Associated Press.

A new delay would be the sixth for Broadway's most expensive show. The latest postponement would also make it ineligible for theater's biggest prize, a Tony Award. Shows must open by April 28 this year to be considered for a Tony.

"Spider-Man" has already had the longest preview period in Broadway musical history. Many critics got fed up and reviewed it last month, largely panning the musical.
President Barack Obama insisted Tuesday that education spending needs to be spared from the growing drive for fiscal austerity, telling an audience of students and teachers in Massachusetts that cutbacks would ultimately prove self-defeating.

"We need to come up with a budget that forces government to live within its means," Obama said. But we "cannot cut back on job-creating investments like education."

The president stressed the need for blending public education reform -- including greater accountability -- and higher spending.

"We have a moral and economic imperative to give every child a chance to succeed," he declared. "A budget that sacrifices our commitment to education is a budget that sacrifices our country's future."