Friday, March 25, 2011

High radiation in water found at Unit 3 of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have originated at the reactor core, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says.

So far, however, there is no evidence the containment vessel has been cracked or damaged, said agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama, who appeared to be backing down slightly from a previous remark that there was a good chance the reactor had been damaged.

The statements came the day after three workers at the unit were hurt when they stepped into water found to be 10,000 times more radioactive than normal. Two suffered radiation burns and were taken to Fukushima Medical University Hospital, while the third didn't require treatment.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan sounded pessimistric in a televised address to the country Friday.

"The situation today at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is still very grave and serious," Kan said. "We must remain vigilant. We are not in a position where we can be optimistic. We must treat every development with the utmost care."

He apologized to farmers and business owners around the plant for any damage He also thanked utility workers, firefighters and military personnel for "risking their lives" to cool the overheated facility.

The prime minister was speaking two weeks to the day after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami set in motion unprecedented damage and explosions at the Daiichi nuclear site.

Uncertainty halted work at the overheated plant, where dozens of people had been trying to stop it from leaking dangerous radiation.

The high level of radiation in water at the site "could be a very dangerous and ominous sign, because if there is a breach, even a small one, radioactive material can begin to leak into the environment, [and] really change some of the parameters," reporter Steve Futterman told CBC News from Tokyo.

"With the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, America has lost one of its greatest talents and fiercest advocates for HIV/AIDS research. Born in England, Elizabeth became thoroughly American royalty. For more than a generation, she brought to life unforgettable characters on film, and her tireless efforts to combat AIDS brought hope to millions of people around the world. We were honored to host her at the White House in 2001 when she received the Presidential Citizens Medal for her relentless crusade for more AIDS research and better care. In founding amfAR, she raised both millions of dollars and our level of awareness about the impact of AIDS in the United States and around the world. Elizabeth's legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired. Our thoughts are with her family, her friends and her many fans. We will miss her talent, her heart and her friendship."

-- Former President Clinton, who presented Taylor with the Presidential Citizens Medal, and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, remembered Elizabeth Taylor.

It should be evident by now that a corporate tragedy is under way at the proud Canadian firm Research In Motion.

The manner in which the firm has now squandered the early technological lead and brand recognition it had in BlackBerry mobile-email devices is astonishing. Take its PlayBook tablet, unveiled six months ago but only going on sale next month, weeks after the second version of Apple's iPad hit store shelves.

The Research In Motion PlayBook tablet is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb.16.

Despite being behind Apple, the first version of the PlayBook won't have cellular capability. Users will be able to use WiFi for Web access. But even then, users will need to connect the Playbook to their BlackBerry to read email delivered from BlackBerry servers. RIM is planning to add cell capability in future versions, which also could cause some potential buyers to wait.

Yet this is the device that RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie says "may well be the most significant development for RIM" since the first BlackBerry was launched in 1999. Tellingly, Mr. Balsillie had started to say it "will be the most significant development" but corrected himself, perhaps realizing the hole he was digging himself into.

RIM doesn't seem to expect a blowout launch. It projects May quarter revenue to grow 24% to 33%, based on expectations of early PlayBook sales and a 21% to 29% increase in BlackBerry shipments. That guidance also reflects a change in the mix of handsets toward lower-priced devices like the Curve 8520. Worryingly, RIM made a similar statement a year ago about the 8520, now a nearly two-year-old pre-3G device.

Perhaps the company should be called Research In Slow Motion.

Most commenters thought the 'Idol' judges made the right decision to keep the quirky, bearded contestant on the show.

Casey Abrams looked like he was going to be sick when the "American Idol" judges announced on Thursday night that they had no doubt that he deserved this season's one-and-only save. The bearded bass plucker tried to look happy, but the shock of the moment nearly dropped him to his knees, even as Randy, Jennifer and Steven explained to him that they were equally surprised he was this week's lowest vote getter and that they couldn't let such a prodigious talent slip away so soon.

Based on the comments you made after Thursday night's suspense-packed elimination show, most of you are on Team Casey, as well.

"The people in America should recognize when they have tremendous artists like Casey and don't vote them out just like that," wrote Sharon. "The judges [were] completely right, CASEY deserves to be there, he is a unique [and] talented artist. CASEY YOU ROCK!!!!!"

Peggy Sue couldn't have agreed more, writing, "I'm glad the judges used their save on Casey. The save is meant to keep a flub-up happening such as someone going home too early, and the only other person I would want to save is James [Durbin] (maybe Jacob [Lusk]).

It's a good reminder for America to vote for their favorites, whether you think they are safe or not. Casey is a little bit unsteady — he is clearly very musical and fun and creative. He needs to use all of that to show us how he could entertain us in the big world, not in his backyard show."

Seeing Casey on the brink of elimination was a total shock for Sweetum29, who said Abrams deserved another chance thanks to his unique voice and winning personality. If anything, Sweetum wondered just what in the heck was wrong with America's voters, opining, "This man always sings great and gives the audience a show instead of just standing in one spot blowing out a tune."

Libya’s uprising and the eastern enclaves that wrenched themselves free of Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in February may have been saved by international action six days ago.

Yet many Libyan cities remain under siege. The western town of Misurata, ringed by Mr. Qaddafi’s tanks and ground forces, has lost more than 100 residents in the past week, according to the hospital there. Other towns in the west where residents rose up against Qaddafi’s 41-year reign remain gripped by fear.

Now, in Ajdabiya, the first real test is unfolding of whether Libya’s rebels can gain ground under a cloak of international air support.

The town 90 miles west of Benghazi, the rebel capital, has been without electricity for almost two weeks, following a fierce battle between lightly armed rebels and Qaddafi’s better-trained and equipped forces. Qaddafi's troops had Ajdabiya surrounded this time a week ago.

Since then, French and British warplanes have repeatedly hit Qaddafi’s tanks, missile launchers, and resupply trucks on the desert roads around the city, allowing the rebel militia and some of the roughly 1,000 trained soldiers, which rebel leaders claim they have under their command, to creep within about five miles of the town.

French and British bombardment

Overnight Thursday, British Tornadoes fired Brimstone missiles at the remaining Qaddafi forces around the city. UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox said the missiles targeted “Libyan armored vehicles, which were threatening the civilian population of Ajdabiya.”

A start up named Color has raised $41 million of capital.

This news has obsessed the tech world and beyond for the past 48 hours, with the majority of the peanut gallery huffing and snorting about how it's obviously ridiculous and a clear sign of a bubble.

Here's what most of these instapundits fail to understand:

* There are two basic strategies in raising capital -- "lean startup" and "fat startup"-- and Color is intelligently pursuing the latter. Most digital startups in recent years have pursued the "lean startup" strategy: They raise a small seed round, then a bigger Series A round, then a bigger Series B round, and so on. With lean startups, investors only put up new money if the business is going well, and entrepreneurs generally give up less equity in each round. With "fat startups," in contrast, companies raise a big first round and really stomp on the gas, without having to worry about raising more money for years (if ever). Importantly, neither of these strategies is "right." They both work (or fail, as the case may be). Which strategy one chooses is usually dependent on the specific opportunity, the entrepreneur, and the investors. For a company with an opportunity as big as Color's in a highly competitive sector with several well-funded companies, with an experienced entrepreneur, and with deep-pocketed investors willing to roll the dice, the "fat startup" strategy makes a lot of sense.

Microsoft is expected to “turn on” its Office 365 cloud platform in June this year. Thousands of customers and partners have been beta testing the Microsoft-hosted Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online suite for the past few months.

Microsoft officials have shared a number of details about the coming successor to its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Live@edu offering and Office Live Small Business products. But so far, the Redmondians haven’t really gone granular with SKU and pricing details for Office 365 (beyond the Office 365 for Education SKU, information about which Microsoft shared in January 2011).

Office 365 isn’t a one-size-fits-all offering. There are a lot of different plans at a variety of prices. There is a P Plan for small/mid-size business (SMB) users. There are two K Plans for “kiosk workers” (formerly known, in Microsoft parlance as “deskless workers”). There are four E Plans for information workers. Additionally, Office 365 users can opt to add the Office 2010 Professional Plus software and pay for it on a per-month, subscription basis.

As is the case each week at this time, the current installment of Debate Friday is running on

This week’s question is simple: Given the ability to sign either, who would you rather have, Moss or Ochocinco?

I made what I thought was a good argument for Randy Moss, while Paul Perillo argued for Chad Ochocinco. (You know, assuming his career in Cincinnati is actually over.)

But little did I know how influential my argument was. When our webmaster sent out a Tweet with the debate topic, @Ochocinco replied with his simple vote: “Moss.”

So there you have it, even Ochocinco thinks the Patriots should choose Moss over him in the offseason wide receiver Diva Debate Friday. I win again!

Want to vote for yourself? Head on over to the Debate Friday page on

What do you think of the idea of bringing in one of the two former All-Pros to help the Patriots fill out the receiver depth chart? Let us know with a comment below!
We have all of the stars –including Rihanna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga — and the tracks they’re contributing to benefit earthqauke and tsunami victims!

More than 30 of the biggest names in music have joined together for the worldwide release of Songs for Japan, an album of 38 chart-topping hits and classic tracks, available worldwide on the iTunes Store for $9.99 starting today ( Proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

Here’s the track listing:

1. John Lennon “Imagine”

2. U2 “Walk On”

3. Bob Dylan “Shelter From The Storm”

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers “Around The World”

5. Lady Gaga “Born This Way”

6. Beyonce “Irreplaceable”

7. Bruno Mars “Talking To The Moon”

8. Katy Perry “Firework”

9. Rihanna “Only Girl (In The World)”

10. Justin Timberlake “Like I Love You”

Button blows away the blues

JENSON BUTTON banished McLaren's winter blues by setting the fastest time in Formula One's first practice session of the 2011 season.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton was second to complete a hugely encouraging day for the British superteam at the Australian Grand Prix meeting.

McLaren's performance was a shock following a pre-season dogged by a lack of pace and reliability issues.
But Button was not getting carried away ahead of qualifying in Melbourne.

He said: "It's great we have reliability — that's something we haven't had in the winter.

"It was a positive day because we've been able to do so much running and get a good feel for the car in many different fuel loads.

"But I still see no use in looking at the times. People are doing different things and there are so many variables now with KERS and rear wings and what have you."

Hamilton admitted his car showed "a bit of an improvement from testing".

But he added: "We were just focusing on our programme and I have no idea what the others are doing.
"We will have to wait and see if we are as competitive as the others tomorrow."

The sentiment was echoed by third fastest man Fernando Alonso.

The Ferrari star said: "The free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams.

"There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win."

The highly-fancied Red Bulls of world champ Sebastian Vettel and home favourite Mark Webber were fourth and fifth, with Michael Schumacher showing his hand in sixth place.

A visit to the dentist’s chair isn’t usually considered a treat.

But our check-ups are becoming less frequent as the recession makes them a luxury we can’t afford.

One in five of us has put off vital dental check-ups and treatment because the cost is too high, a survey has revealed.

Hard to swallow: Many patients would opt to have a tooth removed rather than get it treated

And more than a quarter say that when they do make it to the surgery, the expense affects their choice of treatment – with some opting to have teeth removed rather than paying for costlier preservation methods such as root canals and bridgework.

The results of the Adult Dental Health Survey come as patients prepare for the cost of seeing an NHS dentist to rise again next month.

Patients will pay £204 for the most complex treatments and £17 for a check-up – compared with just £6 in 2005.

In the survey of 11,000 participants, commissioned by the NHS Information Centre and the Office for National Statistics, 26 per cent of adults said the dental treatment they opted for was influenced by cost, and 19 per cent had delayed treatment for the same reason.

More than half had tried to make an NHS dental appointment recently, but almost one in ten said they had not been able to.

Research for the British Dental Association published last month showed the economic climate had led to a surge in canceled or deferred appointments and a rise in emergency treatment.

Dr John Milne, chairman of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, said: ‘While it’s understandable that patients’ financial anxieties are leading them to defer appointments and treatment, achieving short-term money savings at the expense of longer-term health problems really isn’t wise.’

 A Department of Health spokesman said more ‘can and should be done to tackle persistent inequalities’ in dental care.

The eyes of the whole world were on the UK in November when Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement at a St James’s Palace press conference.

The photographers there to record the event went into overdrive the minute Ms Middleton raised her hand to show the engagement ring.

The ring the future king had chosen for his fiancée was instantly recognisable as the one once worn by his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

Prince William explained in a television interview that he chose the ring as a way of including his late mother in the happy occasion.

“I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement,” he said. “This was my way of keeping her close to it all.”

The magnificent, if old-fashioned, 18-carat white gold ring features a large oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds.

The enduring global fascination with Diana, Princess of Wales and the excitement that is building around the wedding of her eldest son means his choice of ring has broad significance for the jewellery industry.

Thousands of people marched through Mali's capital to protest against the Western-led military intervention in Libya and show their support for Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The crowd on Friday marched first to the French Embassy and then to the U.S. Embassy, yelling "Down with Sarkozy! Down with Obama!"

Mali has close relations with Libya. Libya's government has invested heavily in Mali and Gadhafi has financed the construction of mosques across the country.

Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure is on an African Union panel tasked with dealing with the crisis in Libya. Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is also on the panel, has said the AU is opposed to any military intervention in Libya.

At the beginning of March, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spelled out his view of Nato-led intervention in Libya.

It would be absurd, unthinkable, he said. It should not even be discussed. Two weeks later he repeated that view. Nato intervention would be useless, he said, and would have dangerous consequences.

But this week, Turkish policy towards Libya appears to have done a complete U-turn. Criticising the French government for taking the lead role in air attacks on Col Gaddafi's forces, Turkey has insisted that command of the operation be handed over to Nato, and Nato alone. For this to happen, the agreement of Turkey - a Nato member since 1952 - is essential.

Five Turkish navy ships and a submarine have been despatched to help enforce the arms embargo against Libya. The Turkish parliament has approved sending more forces, including troops, if necessary.

So what's going on in Ankara?

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu explained the volte-face as a result of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, passed on 18 March, and the Arab League's support for a no-fly zone. We were against any unilateral Nato action, he said, but once these resolutions were passed, Turkey's stance could not remain the same.

Karachi —Investment in the information technology is a must for making headway as well as for the benefit of our younger generation. This was stressed by Naveed Siraj, Country manager of Intel Pakistan.

He was speaking at the launching ceremony of the second generation Intel Core Family Processors at a local hotel on Thursday.

Naveed maintained that this adds a number of visually stunning features built right into the chips through graphics. He said that the new processor graphics technology will focus on the areas where most people are computing today: High definition (HD) video, photos, mainstream gaming, multi-tasking and online socializing and multimedia.

This, Naveed added, means an improved PC experience with overall power management, greater efficiency and a great battery life.

Lowering wheat prices would create food shortages in Pakistan and encourage smuggling, officials say, responding to criticism from the UN.

On Wednesday the UN's food relief agency said the government set prices too high and malnutrition was rising.

But an official at Pakistan's food ministry told the BBC farmers would simply switch to more lucrative crops if wheat prices went down.

Devastating floods across Pakistan in 2010 damaged acres of arable land.

Although crop yields in 2011 are projected to be healthy, prices are too high for an impoverished population, the director of the UN's World Food Programme told journalists on the sidelines of humanitarian meetings in Geneva on Wednesday.

"The crop outlook is not bad but the food security situation remains difficult because prices remain so high," Wolfgang Herbinger said.

Smuggling risk

Malnutrition levels in the southern province of Sindh had reached 21% to 23%, according to the WFP.
More than a half-million tickets for this summer's Women's World Cup have already been sold, with games featuring host Germany, the United States and Brazil generating the most interest.

A total of 800,000 tickets were available for purchase, and the president of the local organizing committee said Friday she is hoping for sellouts at all 32 games. Steffi Jones plans to tour the nine cities where games will be played, looking to spark further interest.

China holds the attendance record for a Women's World Cup, drawing almost 1.2 million fans to the 2007 tournament that was won by Germany.

Different protest demonstrations were held in the district against the condemnable incident of burning of Holy Quran by a church priest in Florida.

Rallies were taken out in different parts of the district in this connection.

A rally was brought out by Anjuman Tajran-e-Subzi Mandi.

The participants of the rally were carrying banners and play cards, on which, anti-American slogans were inscribed while all the markets remained close on the occasion.

The rally was converted into a big public meeting at Bhoun Chowk which was addressed by Ejaz Shah Gilani, Qari Shaukat Mehmood Tatral, Babu Abdul Rasheed and Qazi Aamir Naveed.

The speakers condemned the act of American church father and termed it unbearable.

Another rally was taken out by different Shia organizations after Friday prayers, which started from Imam Bargah Sarpark.

The rally was later addressed by Abu Muhammad Hashim, Mazhar Kazmi and Ahmad Ali Shah.

A judge ordered a mental health exam Friday for a man charged with leaving an explosive outside a Detroit federal building after the suspect said in court that he was a former president and the governor of California.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Greeley said he was influenced by Gary Mikulich's behavior in federal court in Marquette, Mikulich's first court appearance after being arrested a day earlier.

Mikulich, 42, is charged with leaving a metal box containing electrical components outside the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit on Feb. 26. It was taken inside by a guard but sat for 20 days before a bomb squad destroyed it miles away at a city park last week.

Mikulich lives in the Upper Peninsula, about 400 miles north of Detroit, and appeared at the closest federal courthouse. He said he was a one-term president, a co-governor of California, a Secret Service officer and a U.S. marshal, WXYZ-TV reported.

Greeley ordered Mikulich to remain in custody and be taken to a federal psychiatric center for no more than 45 days.

His family released a statement saying he has suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for years and often fails to take medication. The family "is truly thankful that no one was injured and is hopeful that Gary may now be forced to get the treatment that the family attempted to get him," they said.

A Canadian general will take over command of the NATO mission in Libya.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Friday that Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard has been designated to lead the alliance's military campaign in Libya.

Bouchard, a lieutenant-general whose rank is equivalent to a three-star U.S. general, is stationed in Naples, Italy, at the Allied Joint Force Command.

Bouchard's recent job was deputy commander of NORAD, reporting to an American general.

"He will be a commander of the NATO operations, yet to be fully defined NATO operations," MacKay said.

The international coalition confronting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has agreed to put NATO in charge of enforcing the no-fly zone. It was still trying to hammer out a deal to relieve U.S. forces of command of all military operations in the country.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have both said that American command of the operations would last only a few days.

Stocks headed higher Friday after the government said the economy grew at a faster pace than expected at the end of last year. Technology shares rose after business software giant Oracle Corp. posted higher earnings.

The Commerce Department said that gross domestic product rose at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010. That's slightly better than economists expected and higher than the estimate made last month.

Oracle rose 3.5 percent after reporting a 78 percent jump in income late Thursday. The database software maker credited new software license sales and the benefit of three full months of revenue from Sun Microsystems, a company it acquired last year.

Accenture Plc rose 6 percent. The consulting firm's quarterly earnings jumped 22 percent on stronger revenue. Both its income and revenue beat analysts' expectations.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,252. The Dow is now higher for the month, after falling as low as 11,613 on March 13.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9, or 0.7 percent, to 1,318. The Nasdaq composite rose 25, or 0.9 percent, to 2,761.

Investors were able to set aside a long list of worries including high oil prices, problems with Japan's nuclear reactors and fresh developments in Europe's debt crisis. Portugal looked likely to need bailout funds from the European Union after lawmakers rejected a plan to cut the country's debts and the government fell. Standard & Poor's lowered its credit rating on Portugal late Thursday.

The Girl Scouts were selling their cookies the old-fashioned way, pulling a creaky-wheeled red wagon laden with Thin Mints and Samoas down a suburban street. But the affair took a decidedly 21st-century twist when, with a polite smile, one of the girls pulled out a smartphone and inquired: "Would you like to pay with a credit card?"

The girls are among about 200 troops in northeast Ohio who are changing the way Girl Scouts do business. For the first time, the girls are accepting credit cards using a device called GoPayment, a free credit card reader that clips onto smart phones. Girl Scout leaders hope that allowing customers to pay with plastic will drive up cookie sales in a world where carrying cash is rapidly going the way of dial-up Internet. Keeping pace with changing technology is a priority lately for the historic Girl Scouts, an organization that's preparing to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

"Normally I think a lot of customers would love to buy cookies, but they have to walk by the booth because they're not carrying cash," said Marianne Love, director of business services for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio. "I know I never carry cash when I'm out shopping."

If all goes well, Love plans to roll out the device to all 2,700 troops in northeast Ohio. Ten troops in San Diego, Calif., are also testing out the device this month.

"I know there's a lot of interest across the country with other Girl Scout councils," Love said. "So I wouldn't be surprised if you see it everywhere this time next year."

GoPayment is just one of several popular mobile payment devices that took off in 2010, with hundreds of thousands of people signing up to use them, said Todd Ablowitz, president of Double Diamond Group of Centennial, Colo., a consulting company focused on the mobile payment industry.

Bahrain's security forces fired tear gas at anti-government protesters in the Gulf kingdom on Friday after a prominent Shiite cleric vowed that their demands for the Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip on power will not be silenced by "brutal force."

Bahrain's government, meanwhile, brushed aside suggestions for an international investigation into the deaths of protesters during the month of unrest or allegations that police attacked wounded protesters at a hospital.

Defying a ban on public gatherings, thousands of people poured out of Muslim prayer services Friday at mosques in Shiite towns and demonstrated against the ruling Sunni dynasty, which has declared a three-month period of emergency rule and invited in a Saudi-led military force to help quell the unrest.

Bahrain is the Gulf country worst-hit by the wave of political protest sweeping the Arab world. The stability of the island kingdom is of particular concern to the United States, which bases naval forces in the country as a key counterweight to Iran's growing influence in the region. Washington has been pushing its ally to answer some of the protesters' reform demands.

In Friday's confrontations, riot police, backed by soldiers, released thick clouds of tear gas to disperse protesters in the Shiite villages of Malakiya, Karzakan and several others west of the capital. There were also protests in villages on the island of Sitra, the center of Bahrain's oil industry.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

Researchers at Qatar University's engineering school have come up with a novel way to cool the stadiums ahead of the 2022 World Cup... giant flying saucers!

Actually, they have announced plans to develop giant artificial remotely controlled "clouds" made up of high-tech materials that will be positioned between the blistering sun and the still-to-be-built football stadiums in the Gulf sultanate.

Dr. Saud Ghani, head of a Mechanical and Industrial Engineering group at Qatar University, tells CNN that the artificial robotic cloud could potentially drop the temperatures on the pitch by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's a big deal in a country where temperatures in summer regularly soar into triple-digits Fahrenheit -- the very time the 2022 tournament is expected to take place.

Ghani says that the design has passed the initial engineering phase and his team plan to make a 4-by-3 meter prototype by the end of this year to test the concept.

The finished product would be a rectangle made up of carbon fiber and solar panels the size of a jumbo jet. It would use sophisticated monitoring gear to track the transit of the sun and would use four electric powered engines to maneuver to the precisely the right position to drop a cool shade across the stadiums.

Ghani believes that the technology could also be useful in security and communications. Radio and camera transmitters could help facilitate wireless communication and provide an eye-in-the-sky for broadcasters or security forces.

His team eventually hopes to construct the helium-filled devices in Qatar, and the final price for each unit could be as low as $500,000, Ghani predicted.

Eastman Kodak is awaiting a high-stakes patent dispute decision regarding smartphone technology used by Apple Inc. and Research in Motion Ltd. And company shares are spiking.

The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide Friday whether to review a judge's finding in January that Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry don't violate a Kodak patent obtained in 2001.

A favorable decision could mean royalty deals worth as much as $1 billion or more. The agency's six commissioners would then decide by May 23 whether to alter the initial determination by its chief administrative judge.

Kodak has amassed more than 1,000 digital-imaging patents, and almost all digital cameras rely on that technology.

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. jumped 34 cents, or 10.7 percent, to $3.47 in trading.

"Dancing With the Stars" contestant Kirstie Alley is putting her foot down and blasting comedian George Lopez for comparing her to a pig on his talk show, reports Entertainment Weekly.

On Wednesday, Lopez made rude remarks about Alley's appearance on the ABC dance competition, saying she "did a nice job, her little hooves tapping away." He added that prior to the show, "she went to the market, and then she had roast beef, and this is her going all the way home!” He then ran GEICO ad footage of a squealing piglet.

Lopez has since tweeted, "I misjudged the joke. No malice was intended and I apologize to Kirstie," but it looks like the former "Fat Actress" star isn’t buying it and is taking her own jabs at the late-night host.

"Don’t worry about George’s comments," the former Jenny Craig spokesperson told her Twitter followers. "Just remember what happens to the big bad, drunk woolf …falls in a boiling pot of vodka. Piggy laughs.”

Update, 11:20 a.m.: Alley has since responded to Lopez's apology, tweeting, "@georgelopez I don't need or want ur apology...I want your kidney dude..on behalf of ur X and all the women uv insulted...give it back."
In 2005, Lopez's then-wife donated her kidney when Lopez needed a transplant. He told People at the time, "I can't pay her back, but what I can do is make her as happy as she thought I would when we first got married."

The couple has since separated, announcing in September, 2010 that their 17-year marriage had come to an end.

Swaziland's Cabinet agreed to 10 percent salary cuts, a week after a massive pro-democracy protest in the tiny nation's usually quiet capital.

The cuts, in addition to three-year salary freezes for Cabinet ministers, will save the government 240 million Lilangeni ($34.9 million) over the next three years, Swaziland's prime minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini said Thursday. He said the cuts are part of Swaziland's plan to resolve its budget crisis.

Swaziland's umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations applauded the move and called it historic.

The general secretary of Swaziland's teachers union, Mhlanga Muzi, said he welcomed the salary cuts, but said the government should also withdraw a proposal that increased legislators' wages by 4.5 percent at the end of 2010.

An anti-monarchy movement has gained momentum since the government proposed freezing civil service wages while King Mswati III gave himself a 24 percent increase in his budget allocation.

The proposed wage freezes brought 7,000 demonstrators to Swaziland's capital city of Mbabane, one of the largest protests ever seen in sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy. The crowd marched to the prime minister's office and was largely peaceful.

Talks on the civil service salary freezes are ongoing.

At least 15 people were killed as thousands took to the streets in or made their way to the restive Syrian city of Daraa, where deadly clashes erupted over the last week between protesters and security forces.

Sources told CNN the slain people were trying to march to Daraa, where an eyewitness, Abdullah, also reported many casualties in the city.

"Thousands gathered and moved to the governor's building in Daraa and there, they burned a large picture of Bashar al-Assad, and then they toppled statue of Hafez al-Assad in the center of the square," he said, referring to the current president and his late father, the former president.

"After that, armed men came out from the roof of the officers' club in front of the governor's officer and started firing at the crowd," said Abdullah, who asked that his full name not be reported due to security concerns.

Aman al Aswad, an opposition activist, told CNN about ongoing clashes with security forces in the central square. He said it appears that tens of people have been killed or injured, but it is unclear precisely how many.

CNN was unable to independently confirm the accounts as the Syrian government has yet to grant access to the network.

Earlier, anti-government rhetoric rang out across the town in an outpouring that drew more than 100,000 people, according to Kamal Aswad, a political activist in Daraa.

People decried recent government pronouncements for reforms and an assertion by Bouthina Shabaan that the country's president ordered "no live bullets" would be used against demonstrators.

The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.

Miller is a digital media communications major at Middle Tennessee University and works part-time at a golf course. He was raised Christian in California, surfing and dreaming of being a radio DJ.

“My first interaction with Islam was this movie called ‘Not Without my Daughter’. That was my first glimpse into what Western society believed was really going on in Islam,” he said.

"Not Without My Daughter" is a 1991 film in which Sally Field portrays an America woman who flees from Iran with her daughter. The movie, based on true story detailed in a book by the same title, was faulted by critics for portraying a stereotypical view of Iranians and Islam.

But in questioning his own beliefs, and after a conversation with a Muslim friend, Miller’s interest in Islam was piqued.

“I think for the most part I was afraid, don’t really know of what,” he said.

Later, attending Friday prayers at a small Mosque in Murfreesboro, he began to learn more.

“When I put my head on the ground with them, it felt like I could say anything to God, and what I was asking for at the time was guidance. I wanted to know whether what I was doing was the right thing to do.”

His mother had long expected his change of religious faith. “I told my mother I was Muslim in Disneyland. She said ‘I don’t necessarily know if I feel good about it, but if it makes you happy and it’s what you feel is the right way, then there’s nothing I can do.’”

Now he regularly worships at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro mosque.

Miller, a white convert in a diverse congregation, has heard comments about his faith - and the controversy surrounding his mosque. Once, an Iraqi war veteran told him that the new controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro should not be built because it could potentially harbor terrorists.

“I addressed his questions formally and it was funny because at the end of the conversation, he kind of started admitting, 'Well you know, I don’t know anything about Islam.”
Turkish leaders are walking a tight rope in the Libya standoff.

Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member, is wary of the scope of any Western-led military mission in Libya but also feels bound to international obligations despite longstanding ties with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

When Turkey swiftly evacuated its 25,000 workers from the chaos of Libya, Turkish leaders assured Libya that they would return. It is not clear now how or when that could happen. Turkey is grudgingly seen as being dragged into the military conflict in Libya, abandoning bulldozers, cranes and lucrative construction projects worth billions of dollars that were building hospitals, shopping malls and five-star hotels.

Turkish leaders gently urged Gadhafi to meet demands for change from the rebellious opposition before eventually suggesting that he step down. But they have rebuked some Western allies, particularly France, whose planes staged the first air strikes against Libyan targets.

Turkey objected to France taking the initiative and, without naming Paris directly, accused some Western actors of pursuing oil concerns.

"I wish they would look at Libya with a conscientious eye instead of an eye for oil," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lamented.