Thursday, March 10, 2011

Despite his years in film, Robert De Niro says he still can't do anything he wants in Hollywood.

He notes the troubles and delays he experienced with "The Good Shepherd," the 2006 CIA tale that he directed and starred in. De Niro doubts he could make a similar film now. He says people don't really want to do "those kind of movies" nowadays.

Still, De Niro says he does have a choice of roles that other actors would envy and that he "can't complain."

The actor's latest film, "Limitless," debuts in theaters March 18.

In it, De Niro plays a mega-mogul. Co-star Bradley Cooper plays an unsuccessful writer whose life is transformed after he discovers a secret drug that allows him to use 100 percent of his brain.
Other European countries must step up and help share the burden of illegal immigration by agreeing to take in some of the thousands of migrants who have flooded into debt-ridden Greece, the interior minister said Thursday.

Yannis Ragousis also told The Associated Press that a group of nearly 300 migrants who went on a six-week hunger strike demanding residence permits did not win any concessions from the government. The mostly North Africans ended their hunger strike late Wednesday after meetings with government officials.

Greece, located on the southeastern tip of Europe and with hundreds of islands within easy reach of Turkish shores, is the European Union's busiest transit point for illegal migrants and has seen hundreds of thousands slip in.

But with the country in the grip of a severe financial crisis for more than a year and unemployment approaching 15 percent, many are finding it increasingly hard to find work, adding pressure to a strained welfare system.

"It is not enough for Europe to give money. It has to take illegal immigrants too, to share the burden," Ragousis said in a telephone interview. "Because no matter how much money (Europe) gives, the pressure is so great that Greece practically ... can't cope with this problem."

Late last year, more than 90 percent of all illegal migrants detained in the EU were being caught in Greece, prompting European countries to send a multinational force to beef up border patrols. In 2010 alone, about 128,000 migrants entered the country of 10.7 million people.

And while deportation orders are often served, frequently they cannot be carried out because of the migrants' country of origin, such as war-ridden Somalia, or for humanitarian reasons, Ragousis noted.

"In those cases ... Europe has to take some of the burden by accepting the sojourn of illegal immigrants who are under deportation orders but who can't be deported for objective reasons," he said.

The immigration crisis in Greece came to a head recently with the protracted hunger strike, which developed into a crisis for the government as increasing numbers were hospitalized.

The migrants and their supporters declared victory and ended their strike late Wednesday, saying they had won the right to remain in the country.

Coca-Cola Co.'s Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, received compensation valued at $19.2 million in the 2010 fiscal year, 30 percent more than the year before, as his bonus and stock awards increased, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Kent has been CEO of the world's biggest drink maker since July 2008.

Coca-Cola maintained his base salary at $1.2 million. His performance-based cash bonus increased 18 percent to $6.5 million, according to a regulatory filing submitted Wednesday.

Coca-Cola did not grant any stock awards to its executives in 2009. This year, Kent received stock awards valued at $5.1 million. He also received options awards valued at $5.7 million at the time they were granted, down from $7.4 million worth of options granted in 2009.

Kent also received perks, such as personal drivers, use of the company aircraft and financial planning services, worth $737,848. That's 12 percent higher than the $659,274 in perks a year earlier.

Coca-Cola and its rivals have suffered falling soft drink sales in the U.S. in recent years and it continues to face volatile ingredient costs and an uncertain economy. The company, however, has expanded its product lines increasingly into water, juices and teas, increased its push in international markets and acquired its largest bottlers.

The company's net income surged 73 percent to $11.81 billion in the most recent fiscal year, and revenue rose 13 percent to $35.12.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, is the world's biggest seller of drinks, with brands such as Coke, Sprite and Dasani bottled water.

The Associated Press formula is designed to isolate the value the company's board placed on the executive's total compensation package during the last fiscal year. It includes salary, bonus, performance-related bonus, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.
The unemployment rate fell or held steady in 40 states in January, the latest sign that hiring is strengthening throughout the country.

The Labor Department says the unemployment rate fell in 24 states and remained the same in 16. The unemployment rate rose in only 10 states. In December, the rate fell in 15 states and rose in 20.

Employers added to their payrolls in 35 states in January, up from only 15 in the previous month. That's the most to report higher payrolls since October.

Nationwide, employers added 63,000 net jobs in January, and the unemployment rate fell sharply to 9 percent from 9.4 percent. The rate ticked down last month to 8.9 percent and employers added 192,000 net jobs.
Songwriter Jean Dinning, who wrote the teen tragedy hit "Teen Angel," has died. She was 86.

Daughter Cynthia Wygal tells the Orange County Register that her mother died Feb. 22 in Garden Grove.

Dinning's brother Mark performed "Teen Angel," which is about a girl who dies tragically. A couple's car stalls on railroad tracks and they safely get out, but the girl runs back to get the boy's high school class ring and a train hits the car.

The song was released in October 1959 and it became an instant hit.

Dinning is survived by her sisters Ginger and Dolores; children Shay Edwards, Cynthia Wygal, Howard Mack, Ronald Surrey and David Surrey; eight grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned May 21 in Nashville, Tenn.
Actors playing joint-puffing hippies in a Spanish adaptation of the American musical "Hair" are not violating a new law banning tobacco-smoking in enclosed public places, an official said Thursday.

A spectator had complained it might be tobacco the actors are smoking, and a formal complaint was filed with the play's producers, Barcelona city health department official Manel Pineiro said. But the production company ultimately showed the cigarettes were just herbs like basil.

He said a letter was sent a few days ago to the theater saying it was not violating a new Spanish law that bans smoking in all enclosed public places and that the complaint from the spectator had mushroomed out of all proportion.

The play's artistic director, Joan Lluis Goas, said the warning the theater had originally received was "too much" and that artistic and cultural expression should be protected from "silliness and irrationality."
Speaking as both a parent and the president, Barack Obama told young people that they shouldn't have to accept bullying as an inevitable part of growing up.

The president and first lady Michelle Obama convened a conference on preventing bullying Thursday, seeking to shine a spotlight on an issue that affects millions of young people each year. More than 150 students, parents and educators gathered at the White House to discuss with the Obamas and administration advisers ways they can work together to make schools and communities safer.

"If there's one goal, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage," Obama said.

Obama urged the parents and teachers in the conference to create a support system for their children and students.

"As adults, we can lose sight of how hard it can be sometimes to be a kid," Obama said. "It's easy for us to forget what it's like to be teased or bullied, but it's also easy to forget the natural compassion and the sense of decency that our children display each and every day when they're given a chance."
AOL said Thursday it will slash 900 jobs worldwide, or nearly 20 percent of its work force, partly to eliminate overlap that stems from its recent purchase of The Huffington Post.

About 200 of the cuts are from AOL's content and technology departments in the U.S. The remaining 700 are at AOL's offices in India, which mainly provides back-office support to the U.S. But AOL spokesman Graham James said 300 of those will move to other companies that are taking over support functions.

Thursday's cuts leave AOL with 3,500 employees in the U.S. and about 500 overseas. The total work force is a fifth of what the company had at its peak in 2004, when its staff numbered more than 20,000.

AOL was once the king of dial-up online access known for its ubiquitous CD-ROMs and "You've got mail" greeting in its inboxes. These days, it has been struggling to reinvent itself as a company focused on advertising and content. AOL paid $315 million for The Huffington Post as part of its efforts to become a go-to source for news and other content. That deal closed Monday.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, speaking at a conference in New York, said the company has no immediate plans for further layoffs. But he added, "in our situation we don't have the luxury of long-term planning."
Charlie Sheen still continues to bash his former "Two and a Half Men" boss Chuck Lorre -- but when it comes to costar Jon Cryer, Sheen is rethinking his negative comments.

"I'll apologize to Jon right now," Sheen, 45, said Wednesday morning on K-EARTH 101 radio station. "I was in a mood and I threw that out to somebody. I didn't know they -- well I kinda knew they were gonna print it. Yeah, I knew they were gonna print it. I confuse myself."

But to avoid any confusion, Sheen clarifies, "It's a little bit of a half-apology. An apol."

Explaining the motive behind Tuesday's rant that called out Cryer, 45, for being "a turncoat, a traitor and a troll," Sheen says, "the reason I was upset is because I didn't get a text or a phone call or anything saying, 'Hey, dude, back off, I got your back, or you got my back or there's a back involved.' "

Cryer has yet to publicly comment on Sheen's recent string of events, but sources say he has indeed reached out to his costar.
A senior Israeli military official says the Islamic militant Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip now looks "much like an army," thanks to direct assistance from Iranian and Hezbollah agents stationed there.

He told The Associated Press that Hamas has recovered from its war against Israel two years ago. He said the militant group now has a "vast amount" of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and a "very big arsenal" of rockets that can strike deep inside Israel, as well as a sophisticated communications system.

He says Hamas could not have developed this expertise without foreign help.

The official, a senior officer in the Israeli military's Southern Command, spoke on condition of anonymity under military guidelines barring publication of his name.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - A top Israeli diplomat says smuggling of arms from Egypt into the Gaza Strip has grown following the unrest in the Arab world.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says Israel has observed "increased activity" in Gaza. He accused militants of "trying to take advantage of the uncertainties in the region to booster their capabilities to attack Israeli cities and Israeli citizens."

Ayalon says explosives and terrorists are also being smuggled. Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets at Israel in recent years.

Gaza is bordered by Israel and Egypt. After the militant group Hamas seized control in 2007, both nations imposed a blockade.

Hamas uses a vast network of tunnels under the Egyptian border to smuggle in both civilian and military supplies.
 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Egypt and Tunisia next week to press democratic reforms in the wake of rebellions that ousted the two countries' longtime autocratic rulers. She'll also meet members of Libya's opposition who are fighting to topple Moammar Gadhafi.

Clinton will be the first cabinet-level Obama administration official to visit either Egypt or Tunisia since unrest exploded across the Middle East in January. Her trip to Cairo and Tunis comes as the U.S. tries to maintain its influence in the region as well as reassure its Arab allies of continued support amid rapidly changing developments on the ground.

Clinton said she'll also meet Libyan opposition figures in the U.S. and when she travels to Egypt and Tunisia. The U.S. has confirmed talks with groups organizing in Libya's east, which has been largely wrested from Gadhafi's control, but Clinton's will be the highest-level discussions with figures fighting for an end to Gadhafi's 42-year grip on power.
It began when Shelley Boyle's veterinarian recommended she stop feeding meat and dairy to her beloved mutt, Cleo, to determine whether a food allergy was to blame for the dog's chronic ear infection.

Boyle's interest was immediately piqued. She had been a vegan for nearly two years, after deciding to cut meat, eggs and dairy from her diet for health and ethical reasons. But she never considered the possibility that she could align her dog's diet with hers.

"I've had animals all my life and when I did look into a vegan diet for my cat, I read that cats can't be vegan ... so I went to the conclusion that we can't do this for Cleo," says Boyle, an environmental consultant and part-time vegan baker from Studio City, California.

With her doctor's guidance, she began whipping up batches of pinto beans, brown rice and sweet potatoes each week. She fed them to 4-year-old Cleo, a German shepherd/pit bull mix, twice daily with a dose of probiotics at lunch to help her digest.

Five months later, Cleo's ear infection is gone, Boyle says. Her coat has taken on a healthy shine and she no longer has bad breath, dandruff or excessive shedding, she says. Her vet at the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Pasadena, California, suggested incorporating calcium and iron supplements through a diet of leafy greens or a vegan nutritional capsule.
Acne has three stages of diseases - mild, moderate and severe. If acne can be treated during the first stage itself, you can save tremendous amount of effort and protect yourself from the agony of bad looking scars that forafter third stage of acne. Catch acne in the mild stage itself and do not let it grow to second and third stage.

Mild acne does not need more intensive forms of treatment. Many acne sufferers treat themselves with OTC medicines for acne. Some patients prefer to consult a doctor at this stage itself to protect themselves from any flare up of acne.

Let us discuss the common treatment available for mild acne. Over the counter medications consisting of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can control mild acne that is mainly whiteheads and blackheads. While using these medications, wash your acne prone area with mild sop/cleanser and warm water twice a day to remove excess oil and dead skin.

Some times these products may cause dryness, redness or peeling. Use an oil free moisturizer if the peeling is present. The skin takes some time to adjust to the acne medication. If irritation occurs, you should consult your doctor. Please remember that acne medication takes time to treat acne. Many time up to eight weeks to work. Keep patience and wait for the results to get acne cured. If you do not get results after that, you should consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe other medicines to treat acne.

This article is only for informative purposes. This article is not intended to be a medical advise and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor for your medical concerns. Please follow any tip given in this article only after consulting your doctor. The author is not liable for any outcome or damage resulting from information obtained from this article.
There are roughly 80 million men and women in the world suffering from hair loss. In humans, it is caused by a number of different factors. Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss and is estimated to affect 90 percent of men by age 50. That said, pattern baldness (or natural hair loss) isn't specific to men; women suffer from female pattern baldness as well.

Male pattern baldness (clinically known as androgenetic alopecia) is the most common reason for hair loss. It's related to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a naturally occurring hormone present in all men. DHT has a detrimental affect on the hair follicles. It slows down hair production and causes new hairs to be shorter and weaker than usual. The hormone can even completely stop hair growth, gradually depleting your stock of hair. There are a number of other reasons why people go bald, including other forms of alopecia, the treatment of terminal illnesses and diet, just to name a few. Surgical hair loss treatments like Bosley are most commonly used to regrow hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.

By default, men typically blame mom for hair loss, as it was widely understood that hair loss is simply inherited from their mother's side. This is just one of a number of common hair loss misconceptions:

  • - Hair loss is inherited from your mother's father - Not true. Baldness is inherited, but from both your mother's and father's genes.
  • - Hair loss slows and eventually stops as you age - Not true. Hair loss is a progressive trait that doesn't stop; in fact, it gets worse with age.
  • - Hats or helmets can cause hair loss - Not true. Wearing something on your head has no effect on hair loss. Although hairpieces and weaves that pull and strain your hair may cause traction alopecia.
  • - Brushing or massaging the scalp reduces hair loss - There isn't sufficient evidence to conclude that brushing or massaging the scalp prevents or reduces hair loss.
  • - Too much sun causes hair loss - Not true. Though excessive sun exposure is damaging to your hair, there isn't evidence to conclude that it causes permanent hair loss.

As previously stated, there are various hair loss treatments, which have been proven to stop hair loss, and in some cases even regrow lost hair. Of the non-surgical hair treatments, Propecia and Minoxidil seem to be effective with a significant number of people. New, alternative methods of laser treatments have also been developed. First, there was the LaserComb, which employs low-level laser light technology to coerce hair follicles to regenerate. The handheld device requires people to spend 20 minutes a day running the comb through their hair. Recently, the technology has been further developed, evolving into a more effective, less intensive treatment. In the new laser treatment, a laser light helmet is used to aim high concentrations of laser light at affected areas of the scalp.

If you, however, have already experienced significant male pattern baldness and are looking to naturally and permanently cover your bald spot, then hair restoration surgery might be your best bet.

Over the past century, hair restoration has become one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries among men and women alike. There's a plethora of hair restoration surgeons in the United States, many of which provide their patients with stellar results.

Hair restoration surgery involves transplanting hair follicles from the donor areas of the head-typically the back and sides-to the bald or thinning areas. These are called grafts. Each graft can contain between 1 to 4 hairs. Because the donor hairs are from areas of the head that are not prone to balding, they are considered permanent when transplanted to balding areas, such as the scalp. The result is often a permanent, natural looking head of hair. follows real hair restoration patients as they restore their natural hairlines with Bosley procedures. Torrance and Seth are the Battle Against Bald's Bosley patients and in addition to their weekly entries detailing the updates of their Bosley procedures, the blog provides a wealth of comprehensive information on hair loss, its causes and the methods used to combat it.

It has been nine months since Seth's Bosley hair restoration and it's official, he has more hair. Seth wanted to improve the appearance of his hair and restore a more youthful hairline, which he was able to achieve through just one Bosley procedure. Most hair restoration patients don't start to see results until 3-5 months after the procedure. It has been four months since Torrance's Bosley procedure and he's beginning to see signs of hair after years of male pattern baldness.
Battle Against Bald is a blog that is sponsored by Bosley that speaks to those who are struggling with hair loss and are interested in hair restoration.
A day after the High Court upheld the removal of Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunus from his position as managing director of Grameen Bank, the appellate court in Dhaka on Wednesday set a new date to hear his petitions.

The state attorney general's office said the petitions will be heard March 15.

Yunus has appealed the High Court order to Judge Syed Mahmud Hossain of the appellate division of the Supreme Court.

The internationally acclaimed microcredit pioneer and nine directors of his Grameen Bank filed two petitions seeking a stay of the High Court order, which confirmed that Yunus would not continue as managing director of Grameen Bank. He founded the bank three decades ago in what he said was an effort to alleviate poverty.
Women that are pregnant will find that their current clothes are not fitting them in the same places anymore. When this problem starts to happen, they will have to find the right maternity clothes for their body. There are so many different styles of fashion in maternity clothes these days. You do not have to look frumpy and depressing anymore when you pregnant.

When a woman is pregnant they do not want to look bigger than what they really are. They will want to look as slim and beautiful as they can in all of the clothes that they wear. The nice thing about choosing maternity clothes these days is that they are designed to have the same great style and fashion as all the other women are wearing. There is no need to change the way you dress just because you are having a baby and your body is changing.

There are beautiful and elegant clothes for women that are pregnant. It will be possible for the women to wear fancy clothes out to dinner or a night on the town and be stunning. Women can also look good in many of the fashions for everyday. There are jeans and sweaters that are going to flatter the figure of any women and still allow them to be comfortable. These clothes are not only made for the appearance, they also keep in mind that a women needs to have room to expand and that is another feature these clothing manufactures have kept in mind.
It's no wonder we are pretty confused when shopping for vitamins. We've been told, for example, that a good vitamin supplement would boost our energy level. In fact, we're told this constantly: in magazine arti- cles, television media, the plethora of vitamin- promoting infomercials, web sites, and pop-up ads on the Internet.

So when you arrive at the vitamin shop, you're already at a complete loss (and may have forgotten altogether) why you're even there, and end up like many of us, just not taking any vitamins at all because it's all!

Vitamin World, Vitamin Gallery, The Vitamin Patch, Vitamins for Vegeterians -- the vast array of shops, whether online or in your neighborhood, all beckon, promising renewed everything. If you have any health problem or complaint known to man, you'll find a good vitamin supplement (or 12 to 15 of them) to straight- en out your suffering right away.

The good thing about vitamins (just one of many) is that they're really largely "natural," with very few containing harmful or otherwise irritating, toxic chemicals.

To put it plainly, vitamins are good for us because they are derived largely from natural plants and min- erals. That's the basic fact. And the benfits are many; it's difficult to take the "wrong" vitamin, and it certainly can't hurt you, so why not give it a swing? But remember: Take everything in moderation.

Beta-carotene, for example, is thought to protect against cancer and heart disease. It can dramatically boost the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant, which controls those "free radicals" we've all heard about and prevents them from causing damage to cells that lead to premature disease and aging
As about 2% of babies born in the United States do, Alex Resnick failed the routine newborn hearing screening he received before he left the hospital. At first his parents didn't think much of it, since the nurse told them further testing often shows the baby is fine. But six weeks later when those additional tests showed Alex had moderate to severe hearing loss, his mother's heart sank.

"It was like somebody knocked the wind out of me," Haleh Resnick remembers.

Resnick and her husband, Jeff, immediately had Alex fitted for hearing aids, as recommended by his doctor, and that's when she noticed something strange.

Whenever her baby wore the hearing aids, he flinched at loud noises. Plus, he seemed to hear just fine when he wasn't wearing the aids -- for example, Alex would turn around when his mother shook a rattle several feet behind his back. (Alex isn't his real name; his parents want to protect his privacy)

"He's my fifth child, and I knew he could hear just fine," Resnick says. "When I said this to his doctors and audiologists, they told me I was in denial and I needed to learn to accept his diagnosis."

But it turned out Resnick was right. She drove Alex from their Cherry Hill, New Jersey, home to a specialist at Children's Hospital in Boston, who diagnosed a condition called auditory neuropathy. The doctor said the hearing aids weren't helping him -- in fact, they were hurting him by over-amplifying sounds -- and she told the Resnicks to stop using them immediately.

Pediatric hearing experts say too many doctors and audiologists are missing the diagnosis of auditory neuropathy, which has been recognized only relatively recently, and damaging children's hearing by giving them hearing aids that blast babies' ears with loud noise.

"Four to six times a week I get calls from parents with stories like this," says Charles Berlin, a research professor in the department of communications sciences and disorders at the University of South Florida. "There are cases where hearing aids have actually destroyed the hearing of children with auditory neuropathy."
Cumulus Media is buying Citadel Broadcasting in a $1.7 billion deal that would unite two of the nation's largest radio station owners.

Cumulus Media Inc. said Thursday it is paying $37 per share for Citadel Broadcasting Corp.

Cumulus says the enterprise value of the deal including assumed debt is $2.4 billion.

Atlanta-based Cumulus says it would own 572 radio stations across about 120 U.S. markets once the deal closes. It will remain the No. 2 radio station owner in the U.S. behind Clear Channel, which owns more than 800 stations.

Las Vegas-based Citadel had previously rejected a $31 a share offer from Cumulus.
Doctors treating U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, have scheduled a Friday morning news conference to provide an update on her progress.

Giffords, who was shot in the head in an attack outside a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket on January 8, has been recuperating at TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital in Houston. She was moved there in late January from the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona.

"Two months after her injury, the congresswoman continues to improve," the Houston hospital said in a statement Wednesday night.

Six people were killed in the incident; Giffords was among 13 injured. Authorities have said they believe Giffords was targeted.
Oil prices slipped below $104 a barrel on Thursday but remained elevated and highly volatile in light of the intense battles around Libya's crude and gas facilities.

Investors are keeping a close watch on developments in the country, especially as its crude production has fallen more than previously estimated as the fighting near key oil installations has intensified.

Sentiment in the oil markets over the past few weeks has been driven by developments in North Africa, where Libya produces, in normal times, a little under 2 percent of the world's global oil needs.

Though oil prices have dipped modestly over the past couple of days they remain at historically high levels.
FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against six match officials after claims that two international friendly games fell victim to match-fixing.

The games under suspicion are Bulgaria against Estonia and Latvia against Bolivia, two friendlies which took place last month.

Football's world governing body was alerted after unusual betting patterns on the two games, which were both held at the Turkish resort of Antalya.

A FIFA statement Wednesday read: "FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against six match officials in relation to the international friendly matches Bolivia v Latvia and Estonia v Bulgaria played in Antalya (Turkey) on 9 February 2011."

It continued: "The proceedings were opened following an evaluation of all documentation and information received by FIFA, in relation to a possible match-fixing situation in these matches.
The national student association called for a massive rally Friday after days of unrest across the country in which students torched government buildings and freed prisoners from a police station to protest a young man's death.

The demonstrations began late last month after a jailed student died in custody. The government said he had meningitis, but accusations of mistreatment have fueled deadly protests, killing at least six others.

The government announced Wednesday it was closing schools until further notice, as students in the northern city of Ouahigouya torched police headquarters, the city hall, customs offices and the headquarters of the ruling party there.

Angry students in a half dozen other cities also set fire to various government buildings on Wednesday. And earlier this week, students freed some 20 prisoners when they torched a police station.

Students are demanding that the government fire the ministers of health, security and justice following the Feb. 20 death of Justin Zongo. Already a head of police and a governor have been fired by the government in a move to appease the mounting tensions.

The landlocked country has been ruled by Blaise Compaore, who first came to power through a bloody coup in 1987.

Burkina Faso is near the bottom of the United Nation's Human Development Index, which measures general well-being, ranked 161 out of 169 nations. It has high rates of unemployment and illiteracy, and most people get by on subsistence agriculture.
When Britain's Prince William marries Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey in April this year, they will be the latest royal participants in a blue-blood tradition that goes back a thousand years.

Britain's monarchs have been crowned in Westminster Abbey since 1066 -- and many have exchanged their marriage vows there, too.

As Kate Middleton walks up the aisle underneath the abbey's soaring Gothic arches, to the notes of the impressive organ and choir, she'll pass by priceless sculptures, medieval paintings and the tombs of past kings and queens

She may feel nervous. Even on an average day, the Abbey is an awe-inspiring place. Light filters through enormous stained-glass windows and candles flicker in its cool, echoing corridors. Gilded tombs, gleaming altars and the smell of incense all impress the Abbey's importance as a time-honored place of worship.

This hallowed ground is also the final resting place for the nation's most important thinkers, artists and statesmen, including scientists Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin; writers and poets Charles Dickens and Geoffrey Chaucer; and composer George Frederic Handel.
Iraq's prime minister is defending his performance in the wake of protests across the country demanding more jobs, better government services and less corruption.

In a rare appearance in front of parliament, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday told lawmakers that they were just as much to blame for the government's failures.

Specifically, he says they have failed to pass badly needed laws that would encourage development and economic growth.

Like other countries in the Middle East, Iraq has been buffeted by protests. Demonstrations here have focused on improving government services instead of toppling the government entirely.

Al-Maliki has vowed to give his newly elected government 100 days to improve the situation or risk losing their jobs.
For the first time, the Pakistani military has publicly acknowledged that U.S. drones are targeting militants on Pakistani soil.

In a press briefing for Pakistani reporters Thursday, a military commander said U.S. drone strikes were killing mostly militants and al Qaeda fighters, not civilians.

"Most of the targets are hardcore militants," said Maj. Gen. Ghayur Mehmood. "The number of innocent people being killed is relatively low."

Before Mehmood's statement Pakistani officials had only acknowledged U.S. drone strikes in private while publicly condemning them and calling for them to stop.
Microsoft has sold more than 10 million Kinect systems for the Xbox 360 to retailers, the company announced Wednesday.

Kinect, a controller-free gaming system that competes with the Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 Move, has been selling at an impressive rate since it launched in November.

During the first three months after its launch, this rate was fast enough to earn Kinect the title of "fastest-selling consumer device." According to Guinness World Records, which officially confirmed the record today, Microsoft sold an average of 133,333 units per day between November 4 and January 3.

"The sales figures here speak for themselves," said Gaz Deaves, gaming editor for Guinness World Records in a statement from Microsoft. "According to independent research, no other consumer electronics device sold faster within a 60-day time span, which is an incredible achievement considering the strength of the sector."

Parts of Alabama and much of Mississippi were under flood warnings Wednesday night, as rivers throughout the region rose after a day of storms and torrential rain.

Rivers in western Alabama, including the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers, are either above flood stage or expected to top that level in a matter of hours, according to the National Weather Service. The agency does not expect water levels to begin receding until the weekend.

The situation is similar across Mississippi and almost the entire state is under a flood warning, according to the agency. Multiple rivers and creeks are already past their flood stages, or the agency believes they will be soon based on previous rainfall amounts and the amount expected in the next few hours.

Even the Mississippi River near Natchez is expected to go above flood-stage some time Thursday morning.

A band of intense thunderstorms pushing eastward Wednesday afternoon after leaving a patchwork of destruction in the Deep South from rain, lightning, high wind and tornadoes.

The storm spawned at least two confirmed tornadoes in Mississippi early Wednesday, and lightning from the storm is believed to have caused a house fire in Yazoo County that killed a 69-year-old woman and injured her husband, CNN affiliate WAPT in Jackson reported.

Damage in the towns of Terry and Utica was caused by tornadoes that struck less than 30 minutes apart early Wednesday, a National Weather Service survey crew told WAPT. The tornado in Terry was rated an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds of 115 mph. It uprooted trees and damaged several homes.
An earthquake toppled houses and damaged a hotel and supermarket in China's extreme southwest near the border with Myanmar on Thursday, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 200, officials and state media said.

Photos from the scene showed buildings that buckled, crushing their lower floors. Police, firefighters and soldiers rushed to the area to pull out people trapped in the rubble, including a man and girl stuck in the stairwell of a four-story building, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.

One sidewalk was lined with injured people, lying on blankets and being shielded from the sun by large vendor umbrellas.

The quake hit while many people, including students, were home for a customary midday rest, the broadcaster said. In addition to the 22 killed, 201 people have been injured, it said. The report said at least two students were among those killed but didn't give details.

The website of the Chinese government earthquake monitoring station said the magnitude-5.8 quake was centered on Yunnan province's Yingjiang county and struck just before 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) at a depth of six miles (10 kilometers). The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 5.4 and at a deeper 21 miles (35 kilometers).

Tremors continued to be felt in the area throughout the afternoon and evening, according to CCTV reporter Shu Qian, who was at the disaster scene in Yingjiang County.

The quake's epicenter was in Shiming Village, just over a mile (two kilometers) from the county seat, but triggered a power outage across Yingjiang, which has a population of about 300,000 people, Xinhua said.
Al Qaeda is watching America closely Thursday. Every so often, with the best of intentions, Americans blunder and provide our enemies with great propaganda victories. Thursday is one such day.

Rep. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is holding the first in a possible series of congressional hearings on the "Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response." The title is flawed (Muslims are racially, linguistically and denominationally diverse), and its suggestion of community responsibility for terrorism is also partly wrong.

No community can stop terrorists alone. It is the work of law enforcement agencies to protect the nation.

King has complained that American Muslims do not cooperate with the FBI and others. Where is the evidence? In preparing for Thursday's hearings, King had an excellent opportunity to invite testimonials from officials who share that concern. No such testimony is planned. Granted, there may well be a reluctance in some communities to trust the FBI, but it is the FBI's job to win and maintain trust. King's hearings threaten, regrettably, to further strain whatever trust exists.

More important, three significant hubs of terrorist recruitment are removed from communities: they are in prisons, websites and universities. Al Qaeda today is most active on the internet, with English-speaking recruiters such as Anwar al-Aulaqi inspiring several recent attempted attacks on the United States.

It would have been wiser, and more productive, for King to focus on recruitment, radicalization and the conveyor belt to terrorism through networks that operate in prisons and online. How do we stop that flow?

Al Qaeda will take pleasure from seeing how little we seem to know about its recruitment tactics -- and a leading U.S. lawmaker acting as an inquisitor of those who are most opposed to al Qaeda: American Muslims. It makes a folly of America.

To put it simply, King's committee is asking the wrong questions of the wrong people at the wrong time. His lack of understanding risks not just isolating many American Muslims at home, but damaging America's reputation abroad. Americans often forget that domestic conversations in Washington reverberate internationally.

At a time when America needs more good will in Muslim-majority countries, al Qaeda propagandists have been given a golden opportunity to suggest that even American Muslims -- the most integrated of all Western Muslims -- are susceptible to charges of mass radicalization. It bolsters the al Qaeda narrative of a clash between Islam and America.

Sadly, I have received e-mails from Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt asking why Muslims are being investigated in America.

Fortunately, my response can only be to cite the encouraging sentiments of Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser to President Obama, who spoke at a mosque last weekend:
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention Thursday.

"For a long time bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up but more and more we're seeing how harmful it can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen," the president said in a video promoting the event.

An anti-bullying PSA released online in January declares that more than six-million schoolchildren experienced bullying in the past six months. As parents of two teenage girls, the issue resonates with the president and first lady.

"I spend a lot of time talking to them about putting themselves in other people's shoes and seeing through other people's eyes," Obama said at a town hall, hosted by BET and MTV, in October 2010. "And if somebody is different from you, that's not something you criticize, that's something that you appreciate."

His comments came just weeks after a string of highly publicized suicide cases where boys as young as 13 killed themselves as a result of alleged bullying and harassment at school and over the Internet.
An Indonesian court ruled Thursday that prosecutors can proceed with their case against a radical Indonesian cleric who has been indicted on seven terrorism charges.

The South Jakarta District Court rejected the defense's argument that the court had no authority to try Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.

Ba'asyir could face the death penalty under the charges, which include planning and/or inciting a terrorist act and involvement in a paramilitary training camp discovered last February in Aceh province.

He will be back in court Monday, when prosecutors will begin questioning 138 witnesses.

A large security presence ringed the courthouse ahead of the court's ruling Thursday.

Ba'asyir was first detained in August for suspected links to a militant training camp raided by authorities in Aceh in early 2010.

Police said the suspect and his organization, the Jamaat Tawhid Anshoru or JAT, were involved in setting up the camp.

The militants were preparing to launch attacks similar to the one in Mumbai 2008, and assassination attempts on Indonesian government officials, authorities have said.

But Ba'asyir's lawyers have called the case weak and a fabrication.

This will be his third trial.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention Thursday.

"For a long time bullying was treated as an unavoidable part of growing up but more and more we're seeing how harmful it can be for our kids, especially when it follows them from their school to their phone to their computer screen," the president said in a video promoting the event.

An anti-bullying PSA released online in January declares that more than six-million schoolchildren experienced bullying in the past six months. As parents of two teenage girls, the issue resonates with the president and first lady.

"I spend a lot of time talking to them about putting themselves in other people's shoes and seeing through other people's eyes," Obama said at a town hall, hosted by BET and MTV, in October 2010. "And if somebody is different from you, that's not something you criticize, that's something that you appreciate."
Actress Lindsay Lohan heads back to court Thursday to say if she will accept a plea deal on a felony charge of stealing a $2,500 necklace.

If a plea deal is not reached in Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz's courtroom, the case will go to another judge for a preliminary hearing and a possible trial, he said.

At her last appearance in February, the judge warned Lohan that any plea deal would involve jail time.

"If you plead in front of me, you are going to jail, period!" Schwartz told Lohan during the February 23 hearing.

Lohan's lawyer Shawn Holley previously said her client would welcome a plea deal, but only if it did not involve going to jail.

Thursday's hearing will mark Lohan's ninth court appearance in 10 months.

The actress is accused of walking out with a necklace from Kamofie and Company, a jewelry store in Venice, California, on January 22.
Libya's opposition battled for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi's embattled regime on Thursday, winning official recognition from France and hitting government forces with heavy weapons on the road to the capital.

France became the first country to formally recognize the rebels' newly created Interim Governing Council, saying it planned to exchange ambassadors after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi

The international Red Cross said dozens of civilians have been wounded or killed in recent days in grueling battles between Gadhafi's army and the opposition movement trying to oust him.

The fighting intensified on the main front line between the Mediterranean oil port of Ras Lanouf and the city of Bin Jawwad, where the rebels appeared to be have established better supply lines bringing heavy weapons like multiple-rocket launcher trucks and small tanks to the battle.
The Philippine immigration chief said Thursday he has rescinded an order barring a movie and theater actor who is HIV positive from entering the country, calling it a mistake and violation of the government's international commitments.

Filipino-Australian actor Marcelino Cavestany said he was unaware he had been banned and shocked when immigration officers at the Manila airport stopped him upon arrival from Australia on Sunday because his name appeared on an immigration blacklist.

Cavestany told GMA television that he has been living with HIV for the past 12 years and has been an activist since 2006, using theater to promote AIDS awareness among Filipinos.

The Philippine Commission on Human Rights said Thursday it was "dismayed and deeply alarmed" by the blacklisting. It said it was "unacceptable and illegal," citing a 1998 Philippine law that guarantees HIV positive individuals freedom to travel.

"Ironically, Mr. Cavestany had intended to travel to the Philippines to help educate Filipinos on the effects of AIDS," the commission said.
It could take a week - and the smell could get pretty bad - before crews manage to scoop and vacuum up tons of dead sardines from a Southern California marina.

Net-wielding crews in rowboats and firefighting vessels began work Wednesday, hoping to remove the estimated one million fish before they rot and possibly poison remaining sea life in the harbor.

The cleanup came after the enormous school of sardines apparently suffocated in the confines of King Harbor, possibly while seeking shelter from a predator or simply becoming lost near a breakwater late Monday.

Instead of leaving, the fish crowded toward the back of the Redondo Beach marina and used all the oxygen in the water, marine experts have said.

A fire boat experimented with possible ways of retrieving the silvery corpses carpeting the bottom of the marina, including blasting them with a fire hose so they popped to the surface, police Sgt. Phil Keenan said.

"Some places, we have upward of 2 feet of dead fish on the bottom," he said.

State Department of Fish and Game officials sent samples of the fish to a lab to determine why they died, and strongly suggested the fish just got lost before landing in the marina.

But that didn't stop speculation about what drove the sardines.

An initial theory had them moving away from a toxic algae bloom outside the harbor - a so-called red tide such as one responsible for killing millions of fish in Redondo Beach in 2005.

However, fish and game experts said no red tide was detected.

Others suggested high winds and rough seas drove the sardines to seek shelter, while waves washing over the breakwater flushed seagull excrement into the harbor that further depleted the oxygen.

Larry Derr, 55, owner of In-Seine Bait Co., scoffed at that idea, saying he has fished in rough water and gotten fine catches.

"These fish don't care about weather. They're not walking on the water," he said. "Fish can handle the wind."

The main Christian grouping in Muslim-majority Malaysia said Thursday it was "fed up" with the government's refusal to allow the distribution of tens of thousands of Bibles, saying this was an affront to religious freedoms.

The rare rebuke by the Christian Federation of Malaysia signals growing impatience among the religious minority in a years-old dispute over the government's ban on the use of the word "Allah" as a translation for God in Malay-language Bibles and religious texts.

The federation's chairman, Bishop Ng Moon Hing, said authorities are currently holding 30,000 Malay-language Bibles at a port on Borneo island. This was one of the latest attempts by Christians to import such Bibles, mainly from Indonesia, but none has been successful since March 2009. There are no similar problems with English-language texts.

Christians were "greatly disillusioned, fed up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles," the federation said in a statement. "It would appear as if the authorities are waging a continuous, surreptitious and systematic program against Christians in Malaysia to deny them access to the Bible" in the Malay language.