Thursday, March 24, 2011

OPEN SOURCE browser developer Mozilla has confirmed to The INQUIRER that Firefox 4 has smashed the download 'record' recently set by Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9.

Last week Microsoft proudly proclaimed that its Internet Explorer 9 web browser had been downloaded over 2.3 million times within 24 hours, however by this morning Mozilla's Firefox 4 download counter had passed the 4 million mark and Mozilla has just confirmed to The INQUIRER that over 5 million downloads have been logged within 24 hours.

Mozilla's Firefox 4 is the first major release of the popular open source web browser in two years and it brings significant performance improvements along with user interface tweaks.

Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe told The INQUIRER, "We are thrilled to have surpassed the five million download mark within the first 24 hours of launching. Together with the global community of volunteers, we are proud to be able to provide Web users with the best possible browser experience with a faster, safer and more modern version of Firefox."

At press time Mozilla's representatives came back to tell The INQUIRER that the latest download count was just under 6.5 million within 24 hours, however with so many downloads of Firefox 4 still being requested the final 24 hour figure won't be confirmed for few hours yet.

We can easily imagine that early Firefox 4 downloads might surpass 10 million, over four times those of IE9, possibly within the first 24 hours, or almost certainly, shortly thereafter.

We wonder why Microsoft was so desperate to reveal initial Internet Explorer 9 download figures so quickly. The rollout of Internet Explorer 9 will pick up the pace once it is stuffed into the Vole's Software Update channel, but either Microsoft underestimated the popularity of Firefox or it simply scored an own goal by publicising its initial figures so early.

Mozilla's Firefox 4 is available for all the major operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, whereas Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 only works on Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Call the average woman a "bitch" and she'll be offended. But Tabatha Coffey, star of Bravo's "Tabatha's Salon Takeover," is not your average woman. She wears the word as a badge of honor.


Embracing your inner bitch "just means that you're taking power for yourself," she says. "It's very empowering. It means that you're being strong and honest with yourself and those around you, and I think that's a good thing."

Coffey embraced her power after appearing in 2007 on Bravo's "Shear Genius," a reality show that pitted hair stylists against one another. In the show, her take-no-prisoners approach to hair -- and opponents -- gained her notice as the show's hotshot "villain" -- but also won her $10,000 as "fan favorite."

Her forthright manner gained her a new moniker from show fans: Bitch.

"It was such a weird thing for me that people would refer to me that way," Coffey says. She put her own spin on the word, deciding that it simply means someone who is Brave, Intelligent, Tenacious, Creative and Honest.

"I've really always embraced the fact that I'm strong and I'm honest, and I've never had a problem with standing up for myself," she explains.

Women can have a difficult time standing up for themselves in the workplace -- "Women are such givers," Coffey says -- but she says it is essential to success. Women also fear they will be labeled bitches. But once a woman embraces her inner bitch, Coffey says, it shifts power in her favor. She feels a lot more confident and better about herself.

Strong women can't be put off by people who complain they are intimidating. That's on them, she says. "It's just a sign of their insecurities."

WEB SECURITY OUTFIT Comodo has admitted that an affiliate registration authority (RA) was compromised leading to the issuance of fraudulent secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates.

Although Comodo's RA was compromised, the firm confirmed that its root keys and intermediate certification authorities were unaffected in the attack. Nevertheless, the compromised RA allowed several bogus SSL certificates to be issued, which have now been revoked.

While Comodo has revoked the SSL certificates, Microsoft has taken more direct action on this issue, releasing a patch that is a "mitigation update", as one of the fraudulent certificates could potentially affect Windows Live ID users when they try to login at login.live.com.

Comodo claims the breach at its RA was due to the attacker getting hold of a username and password of one of its Trusted Partners in southern Europe. Perhaps more worrying is that at this point Comodo says it is "not yet clear about the nature or the details of the breach suffered by that partner".

While Comodo doesn't have the details about how the account was compromised, it claims to have recorded the IP address of the computer used to initiate the attack. Comodo said that the IP has been traced back to an Internet service provider in Iran. However the firm took the responsible attitude of saying that while the IP addresses might be from an Iranian ISP it does not necessarily mean that Iranian nationals conducted the attack.

A powerful earthquake hit Myanmar Thursday near its borders with China, Thailand and Laos, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake hit in eastern Myanmar, about 70 miles (110 km) from Chiang Rai, Thailand, the survey reported.

It had a magnitude of 6.8, the survey said, revising the estimate down from an initial reading of 7.0.

It was a relatively shallow quake, which can be very destructive.

The Geological Survey initially said the quake had a depth of 142 miles (230km), but it later revised its estimate to say the quake was 6 miles (10 km) deep, putting it fairly close to the surface.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

A destructive tsunami is not expected, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. In advice to government agencies, the center said the quake "is located too far inland and too deep inside the earth to generate a tsunami in the Indian Ocean."

Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, has been badly hit by natural disasters in the past few years.

A powerful cyclone in 2008 left an estimated 100,000 people dead, and another one two years later left 70,000 people homeless, the United Nations estimates.

These included three elderly women who were raped and 20 more who were sexually assaulted.

A series of mistakes led to Grant being ruled out as a suspect after a burglary in Bromley when the DNA of a second man with the same name was confused with his.

The error meant successive teams of detectives did not reconsider whether Grant could be the vicious sex attacker.

Two years later, in March 2001, a friend of Grant called police after recognising an e-fit on BBC1's Crimewatch.

The informant, who had links with a children's home in Bromley, named Grant and the first name of a second man, and said one of them resembled the e-fit.

But detectives did not make any further inquiries as his name was accompanied by a "code one" DNA elimination notice on the police database.

The long-running police inquiry was plagued by several red-herrings, including suspicions that Grant rode a motorbike and that he was from the Windward Islands.

Commander Simon Foy, head of the Met's homicide and serious crime command, apologised to Grant's victims for failing to stop him in 1999.

Mr Foy said: "In 1999 there was an opportunity to have identified and apprehended Grant but that opportunity was missed.

"When this came to light after his arrest we voluntarily referred this matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

"It is entirely appropriate for the Met to apologise for this missed opportunity that led to his continued offending for so long afterwards.

"We are deeply sorry for the trauma suffered by all those victims and our failure to bring Grant to justice earlier."

The IPCC launched an inquiry after the concerns of senior Scotland Yard officers were passed to them in February last year.

The May 1999 blunder followed a night-time raid on the home of an elderly woman in Bromley, south-east London.

Petrol stations were accused of "ripping off" drivers by putting up the price of petrol hours before the Budget, only to lower the price with a fanfare once George Osborne announced a cut in duty.

Drivers around the country have complained that they have failed to benefit from the 1p cut in duty, with the price failing to drop at their local forecourt. Some have accused their local petrol station of cutting the price – but with a sleight of hand that hid the fact they had raised the price just hours earlier.

Clive Sinclair, a software developer near Glasgow, said that his three local garages – two Tesco forecourts and one Asda – all moved the price 130.9p a litre for unleaded on Monday this week to 131.9p on Tuesday, only to cut it back to 130.9p on Wednesday night. He said the price movements were evidence of "rip off Britain".

Tanya Barrow, a full-time mother in Hampshire, said the Shell in Fleet had diesel on Tuesday priced at 137p. On Wednesday morning, on the school run and four hours before Mr Osborne announced the cut, it was 138p. But by Wednesday night it was back down to 137p.

She said: "Fuel companies seem to have seen it as an opportunity to raise their prices and thereby increase their profits, before appearing to drop them again. It's sharp practice."

Those within the motoring industry said that many petrol stations would have been forced to have put up the price this week – with or without a Budget – because of the rising cost of wholesale petrol.

Unleaded petrol was 133.53p on average yesterday, 4.5p higher than a month ago. Diesel was an average of 140.26p, a rise of nearly 6p.

Luke Bosdet, an AA spokesman, said: “My view is there may be a few mavericks out there. But I don’t think there is evidence that there has been large scale fiddling.”

Nvidia GeForce GTX 590

The months-long jockeying for position between AMD and Nvidia has led to this moment: Who has the faster flagship video card? Nvidia held the crown for a long while thanks to its powerful and polished GTX 580, still the best single-processor card on the market. But when AMD released its dual-GPU Radeon HD 6990 earlier this month, and it delivered blistering benchmark results along with a sky-high $699 list price and an ultra-noisy fan, it looked like AMD might own the top tier this generation. Now that Nvidia has released its own dual-GPU card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 (also $699), we definitively know the answer: AMD just wins the performance crown. Nvidia's card has some solid reasons to recommend it—much better noise characteristics, it will fit in a (slightly) wider variety of cases—but for this much money you probably want the fastest card there is. And the GTX 590, in spite of its virtues, is not quite it.

The GTX 590 is, however, packed with power. You'd expect that from any two-GPU card in general—the last one Nvidia released was the GTX 295, in early 2009—and especially from one that essentially fuses two powerful GF110 GPUs (the kind used in the GTX 580). It sports a total of 1,024 CUDA processing cores, 128 texture units, 96 ROP units, and 32 tessellation engines for making the most of one of the most sought-after DirectX 11 (DX11) features. The card's graphics clock runs at 607 MHz, its processor clock at 1,215 MHz, and its memory clock at 3,414 MHz. It's loaded with 3,072MB of GDDR5 memory for the frame buffer, which operates over a 384-bit memory interface.

Daytime soaps fans still talk about that time when Hollywood royalty came out to play. Like everything she did, Elizabeth Taylor’s multi-episode arc on General Hospital was big: She came at the height of the show’s popularity to play Helena Cassadine, wife of Mikos. (You remember Mikos, that guy who wanted to freeze the earth.) She was even at Luke and Laura’s wedding, though off to the side and putting a curse on them .

With news of her passing, the show’s put out a statement: “We were honored to work with Elizabeth Taylor on General Hospital. Her portrayal of Helena was a defining moment for the show and an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. She was a great talent, a gracious lady, and a rare presence. We are deeply saddened by her passing and send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”
 
Her appearance on the show was vintage grand dame, but the blooper reel below shows the playful, joyous side of Mrs. Taylor. And that laugh! Oh, that laugh…

She even makes fun of herself by saying after one flub, “I’m sorry, folks. I’m not used to acting.” It’s amazing to watch her crack up with the ever-charming Tristan Rogers. But I absolutely love the schoolboy joy on Anthony Geary’s face when he forgets a line while looking at her and exclaims “Ahhhh! It’s Elizabeth Taylor.” He’s recently admitted to having had an affair with her for years after they met.

“Elizabeth was more than a great star, she was an amazing human being. Her world famous physical beauty paled in comparison to the beauty that radiated from her heart and soul. She had great humor, didn’t take herself too seriously, and had the most wonderful bawdy laugh. She was a fierce and loyal friend and tireless advocate. She dedicated herself to education, treatment and the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the dark days of ignorance and prejudice against people stricken with the disease, Elizabeth was at the forefront of the battle,” Geary said in a statement. “I was fortunate enough to call her my friend and every moment I spent in her company was unforgettable. I loved her very much. The world is a little darker, a little colder, a little less beautiful without her.”
 Pakistan and Uzbekistan on Thursday inked an Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding on ease in transport and transit of goods and cooperation in veterinary sciences. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and his Uzbek counterpart Shavkat Mirziyoyev witnessed the signing ceremony as the representatives of Pakistan and Uzbekistan inked the documents.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar signed the Agreement that included its ratification on transport and transit of goods. From Uzbek side, Minister for Economics Ravshan Gulomov inked the agreement.

The Agreement envisages free traffic in transit to the carriers of contracting parties through multi-model transport system in accordance with their existing national laws and regulations.

Minister for Privatization Syed Naveed Qamar and Uzbek Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Zafar Ruziev signed the MoU on cooperation in the fields of animal husbandry and veterinary sciences.

Prime Minister Gilani is in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent to meet its leadership and discuss ways to strengthen bilateral ties. During the two-day visit, he will also visit the historic Samarkand city.

Police say a man swinging a samurai sword is in jail after wounding two relatives while chasing his in-laws through a Southern California neighborhood.

Hemet police say they will ask prosecutors to file attempted murder charges against 20-year-old Zen Timothy Singleton.

Lt. Mark Richards says neighbors called authorities Tuesday afternoon to report a man with a katana samurai sword chasing people through the neighborhood.

Singleton's 50-year-old father-in-law was slashed on his thigh and his 24-year-old brother-in-law was cut on his forehead by glass shattered by the sword.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise says Singleton was found sitting on a curb and was arrested. He has been booked for investigation of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and vandalism. Bail is set at $1 million.

Chris Brown has apologized for his destructive tantrum at "Good Morning America" earlier this week. The 21-year-old singer says he needed to let out his anger after being asked about his attack on Rihanna.

ABC News said Brown smashed a window in his dressing room after his interview with "GMA" co-host Robin Roberts on Tuesday. Roberts had asked Brown about the beating two years ago of his then-girlfriend. He's still on probation for that attack.

During an appearance Wednesday on BET's "106 & Park," Brown said he was under the impression that the interview would only focus on his new album, "F.A.M.E."

Brown apologized, saying he was disappointed by his actions, but said he needed to let off steam. He also noted that he didn't physically harm anyone.


Not feeling the royal wedding spirit yet? It may be time to download a countdown clock to your smartphone.

More than a dozen smartphone apps are offering to bring fans everything royal wedding-related wherever they are - so they can check the days and minutes until Prince William and Kate Middleton's April 29 wedding, hoard news and pictures about them and instantly share their favorite royal wedding tidbits on social media networks.

Most of the apps are tailored for iPhones or iPads. Some are fairly informative: There are apps that feature live coverage of the wedding on the day, a weather forecast for London's Westminster Abbey up to 10 days in advance, and royal protocol in case, for whatever reason, you need to greet the queen.

Hello! Magazine, a popular source of celebrity news, promises exclusive commentary, while an app developed by mobile games company Neon Play has teamed up with Ian Jones, a photographer who has snapped William's portrait in the past, to dish up 100 exclusive images of the royal family.

If that isn't enough, one iPhone app - "Alarm Royale" - even lets people set their phone alarm clock to a wedding march or royal-themed music like "God Save the Queen" and "Rule Britannia."

Zsa Zsa Gabor's publicist says the shock of Elizabeth Taylor's death made Gabor fear she was next and sent her to the hospital with high blood pressure.

John Blanchette says the 94-year-old celebrity was watching the news Wednesday morning at her Los Angeles home when she learned her friend and one-time neighbor had died. Blanchette says Gabor was inconsolable and commented: "Oh, Jane Russell and Liz Taylor - I'm next."

That's a reference to the common myth that celebrity deaths come in threes.

Blanchette says Gabor's blood pressure soared and she was taken to the hospital until Monday evening.

Gabor has been in ill health and her right leg was partially amputated in January.

But Blanchette calls her a fighter and adds: "She's not going to be the third."

Japanese beverage makers are ramping up production of mineral water amid increasing demand from quake-devastated areas and escalating fears about radioactive contamination from the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and have asked foreign mineral-water producers to increase shipments to Japan.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said radioactive iodine levels in Tokyo's tap water fell to within the government's threshold for consumption by infants Thursday after rising above the permissible level earlier in the week, but there are lingering concerns among many Japanese about the safety of the water.

Coca-Cola (Japan) Co. has been operating all of its seven mineral-water plants in Japan at full capacity since the March 11 earthquake, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

There has been some disruption of output at one of its plants north of Tokyo, due to Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s decision to implement power outages in its service regions, in order to prevent more widespread power outages. However, "we are trying to respond to increasing demand as much as possible," she said.

Suntory Holdings Ltd.'s four domestic mineral-water plants are also running at a full capacity. Suntory also bottles and distributes PepsiCo Inc. products in Japan.

Kirin Holdings Co. said its mineral-water business, which imports Volvic-branded water from France's Groupe Danone SA, has already asked Danone to send more shipments to Japan. But a Kirin spokesman said it will take about three months for extra supplies to be shipped via sea freight, underscoring the difficulty of meeting the short-term surge in demand.

Otsuka Holdings Co.'s beverage unit, which sells Crystal Geyser mineral-water product lines from the U.S. in Japan, has asked its U.S. counterpart to increase output to meet increasing orders from retailers and other business clients.

Domestic sales of mineral water, including domestic output and imports, amounted to 2.518 million kiloliters in 2010, up 0.4%, according to the Mineral Water Association of Japan. Imported mineral water accounted for about 17% of the total.

A Tokyo city official said a sample collected earlier Thursday at the Kanamachi purifying plant in north of Tokyo contained an iodine-131 reading of 79 becquerels a kilogram, less than the 100 becquerel-a-kilogram permissible limit for infants.

Thousands called for liberty Thursday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, defying a deadly government crackdown as they took to the streets in funeral marches for protesters killed by police gunfire, an activist said.

Media access to the marches was restricted but an Associated Press reporter heard sporadic bursts of gunfire echoing through the city in the afternoon. Almost all shops were shuttered, the streets were virtually empty and soldiers and anti-terrorism police stopped people at checkpoints and manned many intersections - the heaviest security presence since the unrest began.

The activist in contact with residents of Daraa told The Associated Press that massive crowds shouted "Syria, freedom!" as they marched toward one of the agricultural hub's main cemeteries.

Others in Daraa held a sit-in in the al-Mahata neighborhood to protest the killing of residents in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters, the activist said.

Inspired by the wave of pro-democracy protests around the region, the uprising in Daraa and at least four nearby villages has become the biggest domestic challenge since the 1970s to the Syrian government, one of the most repressive in the Middle East. Security forces have responded with water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.

Syrian police launched a relentless assault Wednesday on a neighborhood sheltering anti-government protesters, fatally shooting many in an operation that lasted nearly 24 hours, witnesses said.

A resident of Daraa who was reached by phone from Damascus said witnesses there reported seeing at least 34 people slain.

He said at least 20 bodies were brought to Daraa National Hospital, and seven others taken to hospitals in neighboring areas. In the early evening, people from the nearby villages of Inkhil, Khirbet Ghazale and al-Harrah tried to march on Daraa but security forces opened fire and hit them with rifle butts as they approached. The resident said seven more were killed in that shooting. Hundreds were wounded, he said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured Egypt's military ruler of sustained American aid Thursday, as Cairo warned that tourism revenue is nosediving in the wake of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Gates, on his first visit to Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, also discussed Libya with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling military council.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Tantawi did not raise concerns about coalition operations in Libya but did voice worries about violence by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

On aid for Egypt, Morrell said: "The secretary noted of course that there are serious economic pressures in our own country. But (he said) the manner in which the Field Marshal and his military have handled this period in Egyptian history has put them in good stead back at home in America, particularly in the United States Congress."

Gates said he "thought there was support for sustaining military support to Egypt as well as other forms of aid -- economic aid," Morrell added, citing figures from Egyptian officials that indicated revenues from tourism, a main earner, were down 75 percent.

Police used water cannons and pepper spray to keep demonstrators angry over plans for tough economic measures away from the site of Thursday's European Union summit. At least three police officers were injured.

Thousands of workers were marching against an economic reform package unions say is far too business-friendly, chanting, blowing whistles and blocking key roads in central Brussels. The protest cause traffic gridlock in the part of the Belgian capital that houses EU institutions.

Eurozone leaders are committing themselves to hit annual benchmarks on economic competitiveness, boosting employment and making their budgets sustainable in the long term. The trade unions call the pact an unprecedented attack on Europe's welfare state, targeting workers with austerity measures while undermining cherished social gains.

Because of a fear of violence, helicopters circled over the summit site, hundreds of police patrolled throughout the capital, and heavy equipment, including water cannons, was stationed close to EU headquarters. Demonstrators armed with sticks and other protesters throwing stones confronted police cordons but could not break through.

On a ring road close to the summit site where several marches converged, police used three water cannons and pepper spray to keep thousands of demonstrators from getting closer to summit site. Three injured policemen were seen carried away by an AP video journalist.

Activists hung big billboards close to the EU headquarters, reading: "Competitiveness Pact: NO. Austerity Pact: NO. Solidarity Pact: YES!"

Addressing the cause of the demonstration, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said only renewed growth would lead to prosperity for all, necessitating painful measures.

"We all had to take tough and unpopular measures, and not for the fun of it. Securing financial stability is important for the people themselves," he said.

Unions argued that they were bearing the brunt of the changes.

"The workers of Europe want to keep their social models, and do not accept that they will have to pay for the crisis," said John Monks, the leader of the ETUC European trade union federation.

The union said Thursday's action in Brussels will coincide with protests in Spain and Germany.

The main hospital in the southern Syrian city of Deraa has received the bodies of at least 25 protesters who were killed in a confrontation with security forces, a hospital official said on Thursday.

Security forces opened fire on hundreds of youths at the northern entrance to Deraa on Wednesday afternoon, according to witnesses, in a dramatic escalation of nearly a week of protests in which at least 32 civilians have been killed since Friday.

"We received them at 5 p.m. yesterday (11 a.m. ET)). They all had bullet wounds," the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

On Thursday Syrian soldiers wielding AK-47s roamed the streets of the southern city. Secret police and special police units wearing all black have been more visible in Deraa since the protests erupted last Friday.

The army has so far taken a secondary role -- mostly manning checkpoints -- in confronting demonstrations that erupted last week in Syria's agricultural heartland, demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption.

Witnesses said hundreds of soldiers patrolled Deraa's main streets as heavy rain fell, with scores manning intersections to prevent public gatherings. Travelers on a main highway near Deraa said they saw convoys of trucks carrying up to 2,000 soldiers heading to Deraa on Wednesday night.

Syria's Baathist rulers have a history of crushing opposition violently in their 48 years in power.

In 1982, President Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, sent troops to the conservative religious city of Hama to crush the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, killing thousands.

Egypt's benchmark stock index fell for the second consecutive day on Thursday, closing almost 4 percent lower but paring steeper losses earlier in the session as investors looked to unload holdings after the market's nearly two month closure.

The Egyptian Exchange's benchmark EGX30 index closed 3.73 percent lower, hitting 4,950 points. It rebounded from earlier losses of over 6.7 percent that led to a 30-minute suspension of trading just minutes after the opening bell. The slide brought the benchmark's year-to-date losses to almost 30.7 percent.

The reversal came as a welcome surprise to many who had feared a repeat of Wednesday's 8.9 percent plunge as the market ended its first day of trade after it shuttered on Jan. 27 amid mounting mass protests that eventually ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.

"Let's see how it performs over the next few days and weeks," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist with the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia-based Banque Saudi Fransi. "The performance today was contrary to the view that the market would continue to decline."

"Is this a signal that we're gong back into positive territory? It's certainly good news, but we don't know yet how the market will react" in the coming period, he said.

The broader EGX100 index, defying expectations of days of losses, moved to the black, gaining almost 0.9 percent, according to the exchange's Web site.

"I think things will stabilize again next week and I wouldn't be surprised if the index was up 2, 3 or 4 percent" then, said Khaled Naga, a floor trade with Mega Investments.

Prior to its January closure, the market lost over 16 percent in two consecutive trading days, reflecting investor fears about the descent into apparent chaos of a country once viewed as the most stable in the Arab world. Those fears were also reflected in the country's currency, with the Egyptian pound again coming under pressure as the market reopened.

Three civilians and a police officer were killed Wednesday after militants fired two rockets at security checkpoints in Pakistan's western city of Quetta.

Police spokesman Abdullah Afridi said militants fired the rockets along Saryab Road, injuring an additional 15 people.

Earlier this month, four civilians were killed and 10 were injured when a bomb exploded near a security patrol in Pakistan's Balochistan province, police told CNN.

Balochistan has long been plagued by sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias, and separatist Baloch militant groups who demand political autonomy.

Quetta, Balochistan's provincial capital, is widely believed to be a safe haven for senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban, but rarely are militant attacks in Balochistan linked to them.

DEMAND FOR BOTTLED WATER SPIKES IN TOKYO. Shops in Tokyo ration water, milk and other goods as a run on products coupled with delivery disruptions leaves shelves bare Thursday. Demand for bottled water spikes a day after officials reported radioactive iodine in the capital's tap water was more than twice the level considered safe for infants. The government urges calm and orders special distribution of bottled water to families with babies under 1. Even as readings show Tokyo tap water is safe again, reports emerge of elevated levels of cancer-linked iodine in three neighboring prefectures.

- WORKERS INJURED AT NUCLEAR PLANT. At the tsunami-struck Fukushima nuclear plant, two workers are hurt when their feet touch radioactive elements. Officials say the pair have been hospitalized but that they were exposed to radiation levels below the maximum allowed for workers trying to prevent the plant's reactors from overheating.

- WORRIES REACH EUROPE'S SHORES. In Iceland, officials say they have measured trace amounts of radioactive iodine in the air but assure residents it is "less than a millionth" of levels found in European countries in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong had earlier said they were either halting or upgrading controls on Japanese food imports from areas near the plant.

- DISASTER DEATH TOLL TOPS 9,800. Japan's National Police Agency says 9,811 people died in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, while another 17,541 are listed as missing.

- RESCUE EFFORTS REACHING MASSIVE DIMENSIONS. The crisis in Japan has prompted outpouring of aid worldwide. More than 19,000 U.S. Marines and sailors, with 20 ships and 140 aircraft, have delivered relief supplies, surveyed ports, conducted aerial searches and surveys and provided support to rescuers. U.S. 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk calls it "the most complex humanitarian mission ever conducted." Even reclusive North Korea says it is helping. State media reports leader Kim Jong Il has sent $500,000 to ethnic Koreans in Japan.

It took us hours of heated debate, weeks of research, and years of experience to whittle down America's monuments to a definitive list of 15 musts for anyone under 15. Not only are these attractions fun and (shhhh) educational, they're especially magical through the eyes of a child.

Two years ago, Budget Travel picked 15 American landmarks every kid should see, from Ellis Island to Redwood National Park. The new and improved 2011 lineup takes that challenge even further, by highlighting how our country's top sights cater to kids' abbreviated attention spans. From roasting marshmallows around a campfire to playing dress-up at Monticello, these cool, interactive activities ensure that the younger set will enjoy these must-see spots as much as their parents do.


Grand Canyon - Arizona

During the day, stroll the 4-year-old Skywalk, a U-shaped, glass-bottom observation deck that juts 70 feet over the canyon's West Rim and sits 4,000 feet above the Colorado River. Come sunset, hit Grand Canyon Apache Stables, where, for $25.50 per person, you can hitch a one-hour ride on a horse-drawn wagon that ends around a campfire. Tip: BYO marshmallows and hot dogs so you can cook up a nighttime snack. Skywalk Package including mandatory Legacy pass. Kids 3--11, $57.49; Adults, $73. 

 grandcanyonskywalk.com Grand Canyon Apache Stables: $25.50, kids 8 and up, apachestables.com/

Redwood National Park - California

Ancient, sky-high sequoias aren't the only attraction in this lush California locale -- there's cool aquatic life, too. Take a guided tide pool tour, where budding biologists can scramble between the coastal forest's rocks while hunting for underwater creatures such as orange and purple ochre sea stars and sprawling, green anemones. Free tide pool tours are offered during the summer through Redwood National Park; check website for exact schedule. nps.gov

Monticello - Virginia

The dreaded "look but don't touch" rule means nothing at the Griffin Discovery Room, which opened on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate in 2009. Nothing is off-limits in the space, which features replicas of the third president's possessions, from his alcove bed to his polygraph machine. Even his closet is fair game: Kids can try on clothes modeled after his 18th-century wardrobe. The Griffin Discovery Room is part of Monticello's House and Grounds tour. Adults, $17 (low season), $22 (high season); Kids 6-11, $8 (year-round). monticello.org


The Freedom Trail - Massachusetts

Who needs a social studies book when you can learn about Colonial history from an 18th-century ship captain while parading around Boston's waterfront? The 90-minute Pirates and Patriots tour, led by an actor in 1770s naval garb, focuses on maritime history and introduces the scrappy, ship-raiding characters that inhabited the city's North End during the Revolutionary era. 

Stops include the aptly named Long Wharf, once the longest in the world and the epicenter of Boston's colonial shipping industry, and Griffin's Wharf, site of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. Bonus: Some tour guides are known to hand out vintage goodies, so you might walk away with a fistful of colonial money or musket balls. The Freedom Trail's Pirates & Patriots Tour runs from June to Nov. Adults, $12; kids 6--12, $7. thefreedomtrail.org

Niagara Falls - New York

Sure, your grandparents honeymooned there, but the majestic waterfalls straddling the U.S.-Canada border are worth a 21st-century trip. Ever wonder what it's like to be a rubber ducky in a massive bathtub? Sign up for the Cave of the Winds tour, which begins after you change into a complimentary yellow poncho and sandals (trust us, you'll need 'em). 

After riding an elevator 175 feet down into the Niagara Gorge, you'll stand on the Hurricane Deck, where you'll be drenched by the tropical-storm-like spray from the 181-foot Bridal Veil Falls, where the water falls at a rate of up to 68 mph. Cave of the Winds operates May 1--Oct. 25. Adults, $11; kids 6--12, $8; 5 and under, free. niagarafallsstatepark.com


The National Mall - Washington, D.C.

Riding the streets of Washington, D.C., in a boat on wheels might sound cheesy, but cruising the Potomac River in one is pretty sweet. Set in a WWII-era amphibious vehicle, the 90-minute D.C. duck tour covers both land and sea. 

The first leg hits the history-packed National Mall -- look for the 19-foot-tall Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol building, and the Smithsonian museums -- and then switches to a scenic river trip. Highlight: The boat pauses at Gravelly Point, a park located just a few hundred feet from the runway at D.C.'s Reagan National Airport, so you can watch roaring planes take off and land. D.C. duck tours cost $31.50 for adults, and $16.20 for kids 11 and under. trustedtours.com
 

Williamsburg - Virginia

Everyone in this living-history site likes to play dress-up, and visitors are no exception. At the Great Hopes Plantation -- a re-creation of the town's original 1700s farm -- a stash of old-timey accessories await, from tricorne (three-pointed) hats for boys and shifts and mop caps (bonnets) for girls. 

The costumes come in handy in the field, where kids can perform 18th-century household chores, such as picking bugs off potato crops, fetching water from the well, or hoeing the soil, that are likely to make clearing the dinner dishes seem like a breeze by comparison. Great Hopes Plantation can be accessed through regular admission tickets. Spring prices: adults, $37.95; kids 6--17, $18.95; 5 and under, free. history.org

Walt Disney World Resort - Florida

Taking a family vacation to the world's largest, most popular theme park is a no-brainer, and just-opened exhibits give even more reasons to visit Mickey & Co. Our pick: the Wild Africa Trek, a private, three-hour safari featuring live Nile crocs, statuesque giraffes, and lazy hippos. 

Strap into a harness and you can even dangle 10 feet above the crocodiles' heads. (The attraction is open to kids 8 and up.) Mid-jungle trek, the safari car (imagine an open-air Jeep that allows for standing) will stop on the trail for a traditional African lunch. Wild Africa Treks begin at $189 per person, including lunch, but not including admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom. disneyworld.disney.go.com

Independence Hall - Pennsylvania

Acquaint yourself with the spirits of America's founding fathers on Philadelphia's Ghost Tour, a 90-minute, candle-lit stroll that winds past landmarks like Independence Hall, where the Constitution was adopted; the Powel House, which hosted George and Martha Washington's 20th wedding anniversary celebration; and the 238-year-old City Tavern, John Adams's former watering hole. 

A cape-wearing, lantern-carrying guide points out "haunted" graveyards (St. Peter's Cemetery) and reports sightings of Benjamin Franklin, who's said to roam the city's streets. The best part: All the ghost stories are based on documented accounts, which makes them all the more spooky. Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, adults, $17; kids 4 and up, $8. ghosttour.com
 

Alcatraz Island - California

Shiv collections and cramped jail cells don't exactly sound kid-friendly, but they offer a glimpse into America's most notorious island prison -- and the National Park Service is all for bringing younger ones for a visit. Hop a ferry from San Francisco's Pier 33 and stroll the damp, gray halls of the maximum-security pen, which housed criminals like Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly from 1934 to 1963. (You can even get behind bars in one of the cells, if you dare.) 

Don't miss the audio tour, which was updated in 2007 when former inmates and guards recorded their memories of doing time at "the Rock." If you're feeling brave, take the night tour, which lets you roam the prison after dark. Alcatraz Cruises is the official carrier for tours to Alcatraz Island. Adults 12--61, $26; kids 5--11, $16, 4 and under, free. alcatrazcruises.com


Ellis Island - New York

Between 1892 and 1924, more than 17 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island; today, their descendants account for 40% of Americans. Go on a hunt for your ancestors at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, where for $5 you can search through millions of records to find the exact date your relatives sailed into the Port of New York, as well as which ship they were on and whether they traveled with other family members. (Bonus: copies of the documents are yours to keep.) 

And don't miss the construction of the Peopling of America Center, which cost $20 million to build and is slated to open in 2012. The new space focuses on U.S. immigration from 1955 (when Ellis Island closed) to the present, and houses interactive multimedia exhibits, like a touch screen that reflects demographic changes in American cities over time. Ellis Island admission prices as of March 18: adults, $37.95; children, $18.95; children under 5, free. ellisisland.org

Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Snag a Young Scientist Toolkit stocked with magnifying glasses, rock samples, and stopwatches to time geyser eruptions at the Old Faithful Visitor Center and hit the great outdoors for some investigating. The coolest toy: an infrared-thermometer gun that takes readings of thermal pools when pointed at the water. And there's lots of H20: The 3,472-square-mile park is home to more geothermal features (geysers, hot springs, mud spots) than any place on earth. The Young Scientist activity booklet and toolkit costs $5 (toolkit must be returned after use). Park entrance fee starts at $12. nps.gov

 
 
Fenway Park - Massachusetts

Even die-hard Yankees fans have to admit that visiting Major League Baseball's oldest stadium is an exercise in Americanism: Babe Ruth pitched there! Ted Williams hit a 502-foot home run! Boston's Fenway turns 100 next year, but its features are still intact. Check them out for yourself on a guided 50-minute tour, where hands-on exploration is encouraged: You can touch the Green Monster (the park's 37-foot-tall left-field wall), peek into the dugout, poke around inside the press box, and even walk across the baseball diamond, depending on how friendly the grounds crew is feeling that day. Fenway Park tours, adults, $12; kids 3--15, $10; seniors, $11. mlb.mlb.com

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve - Idaho

The National Park Service calls this Idaho preserve "the only officially weird park" in the country. And for good reason: The jagged, black landscape -- formed by volcanic eruptions up to 15,000 years ago -- boasts a 618-square-mile lava field, the biggest in the U.S. (The rocky surface is so moonlike that Apollo 14 astronauts trained at the site in 1969.) The park's most awe-inspiring feature is its lava tubes, underground passageways created by hardened molten rock.
Grab a flashlight and head to Indian Tunnel, which, at 30 feet high and 50 feet wide, allows for comfortable exploring. Craving an even more intense experience? Exit the cave at the far end, a feat that requires mounting a big rock pile and squeezing through a small opening. Park entrance fee is $8 per vehicle; bike or foot entrance starts at $4; age 14 below is free. nps.gov


San Diego Zoo - California

With more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing 800-plus species and subspecies, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most diverse in America. But its coolest attraction -- literally -- is the Polar Bear Plunge, which reopened last March after a $1 million makeover. 

Aside from permanent polar residents Kalluk, Chinook, and Tatqiq, new features include a snow den you can burrow into (the snug space mimics where female bears birth their cubs); a helicopter used on actual Arctic explorations that invites climbers into the cockpit; and the Experience Wall, where zookeepers open the glass panels surrounding the bears' habitat, letting them sniff at visitors through wire mesh. Ages 12 and up, $40; 3--11, $30. sandiegozoo.org
When Buena Vista breaks from the starting gate in Saturday's Dubai World Cup, the 5-year-old mare will not only be trying to win the world's richest horse race but aiming to lift the spirits of all of Japan.

She is one of three horses - along with Transcend and Victoire Pisa - in the $10 million race that based in disaster-ravaged Japan.

Buena Vista had already arrived in Dubai when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, but her owners have since been forced to relocate 200 other horses and staff from one of its training centers because it was only 19 miles from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

"Every citizen is downhearted after the recent tragedies, and I am sure a victory would lift spirits of the Japanese people," said Katsumi Yoshida, a trustee of Sunday Racing Co., which owns Buena Vista. "Buena Vista is indeed very popular with the racing fans so a victory can only be a good thing for everyone."

While they are competitive on the track, all three Japanese owners spoke with one voice when it came to the crisis back home. They all said success Saturday could rally the spirits of the country which is struggling to recover from the disaster which so far has killed more than 9,700, left nearly 16,500 missing and could end up costing the country $309 billion.

Most of the Japanese teams are wearing black polo shirts with the word "hope" above a Japanese flag on the right sleeve and the date of the quake and tsunami on the back.



The United States will not target Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, but the pounding from coalition air strikes could create opportunities for rebel forces to fight back against him, the U.S. secretary of defense said Wednesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived next door to Libya Wednesday morning on a one-day visit to Egypt. He told Egyptian and American journalists in Cairo that the U.S. mission in Libya is strictly defined and does not include going afer Gadhafi directly.

There are "a number of possible outcomes" for the Libyan story, he said, and the ending will be up to Libyans themselves, specifically mentioning those closest to the Libyan ruler.

"Whether there are ... further major defections within his own ruling circle, whether there are divisions within his family, there are a variety of possibilities, it seems to me."

Gates suggested the political calculus inside Libya might change thanks to American and coalition airstrikes that have grounded government planes and destroyed some of Gadhafi's tanks and other heavy military equipment.

"A lot of people who were in opposition and who played a role in the early days have hunkered down and it may be the changed circumstances where he (Gadhafi) can't use his aircraft and where he is more challenged using his armor they may return to the fight." Gates said at the question-and-answer session in Cairo. "We just don't know that now."

Gates comments echoed those of President Barack Obama who, in an interview with CNN en Español reporter Juan Carlos Lopez, said the United States is "examining all our options" in answer to a question about giving military support to the rebels.

"Our hope is that the first thing that happens once we've cleared the space is that the rebels are able to start discussing how they organize themselves, how they articulate their aspirations for the Libyan people and create a legitimate government," Obama told CNN.

Gates said the United States is communicating with rebel forces, referring indirectly to how U.S. diplomat Chris Stevens is one link, reaching out by telephone.