Monday, December 31, 2012

Father of Conn. school gunman claims son's body

FILE - This undated file photo circulated by law enforcement and provided by NBC News, shows Adam Lanza. Authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people. Connecticut Medical Examiner Wayne H. Carver II told the Hartford Courant that the remains of Adam Lanza were claimed several days ago by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. (AP Photo/NBC News, File)

FILE - This undated file photo circulated by law enforcement and provided by NBC News, shows Adam Lanza. Authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people. Connecticut Medical Examiner Wayne H. Carver II told the Hartford Courant that the remains of Adam Lanza were claimed several days ago by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. (AP Photo/NBC News, File)

FILE - This undated file photo circulated by law enforcement and provided by NBC News, shows Adam Lanza. Authorities say Lanza killed his mother at their home and then opened fire inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, killing 26 people. Connecticut Medical Examiner Wayne H. Carver II told the Hartford Courant that the remains of Adam Lanza were claimed several days ago by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. (AP Photo/NBC News, File)

(AP) ? The father of the gunman who killed 26 people in a Connecticut elementary school, including 20 first-graders, has claimed his son's body, a spokesman for the family said Monday.

The remains of Adam Lanza were claimed by Peter Lanza, the spokesman said. He said there were private arrangements over the weekend, but would not elaborate on what those arrangements were.

The office of Connecticut's medical examiner released the body on Thursday to a person who asked to be anonymous, according to Linda Sylvia, an office spokeswoman.

Adam Lanza, 20, slaughtered the children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. He also killed his mother in their Newtown home before going on the rampage and then committing suicide.

A private funeral was held earlier this month in New Hampshire for his mother, Nancy Lanza, who was divorced from Peter Lanza.

Peter Lanza lives in Stamford, Conn., and is a tax director at General Electric.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the killings. State police say they have been exploring all aspects of Adam Lanza's life including his education, family history and medical treatment for clues.

Police have said it could take months to produce a final report on their investigation.

Associated Press


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Alfa Romeo Releases First Teaser of 2013 4C Sports Car

Car News, Italy ? By Andrew Elliott on December 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm ? 1 Comment

Alfa Romeo Releases First Teaser of 2013 4C Sports Car

It is no secret that Italian automaker Alfa Romeo is hard at work on its upcoming 4C. Today, the first in a sure to be long line of teasers was released in the form of a festive, holiday themed greeting card. And with that, the endless stream of teasers has begun.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is expected to go on sale in the United States in early 2014, with an official unveiling due at or around the time of next year?s Geneva Motor Show. Expect the 4C to look nearly identical to the concept shown by Alfa at last year?s Geneva Motor Show ? a turbocharged 4cylinder producing a hair shy of 300 hp.

The concept car that was displayed early last year utilized carbon fiber construction in much of the bodywork. The production model, in order to avoid the astronomical production costs associated with carbon fiber, will ship with altered aluminum exterior panels.?

While this has not been officially confirmed, the smart money points to the 4C accomplishing Alfa?s goal of producing a sub-2000 pound car. Current speculation points to a weight of 1980 pounds give or take. We?ll keep you updated with all the news of Alfa?s latest mid-engine sports car as we get closer to its unveiling.


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Chavez suffers new complications in cancer fight

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ? Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is confronting "new complications" due to a respiratory infection nearly three weeks after undergoing cancer surgery, his vice president said in Cuba as he visited the ailing leader for the first time since his operation.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro looked weary and spoke with a solemn expression in a televised address from Havana on Sunday. He described Chavez's condition as delicate.

"Several minutes ago we were with President Chavez. We greeted each other and he himself referred to these complications," Maduro said, reading from a prepared statement.

The vice president's comments suggest an increasingly difficult fight for Chavez. The Venezuelan leader has not been seen or heard from since undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery Dec. 11, and government officials have said he might not return in time for his scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new six-year term.

"The president gave us precise instructions so that, after finishing the visit, we would tell the (Venezuelan) people about his current health condition," Maduro said. "President Chavez's state of health continues to be delicate, with complications that are being attended to, in a process not without risks."

Maduro was seated alongside Chavez's eldest daughter, Rosa, and son-in-law Jorge Arreaza, as well as Attorney General Cilia Flores. He held up a copy of a newspaper confirming that his message was recorded on Sunday.

"Thanks to his physical and spiritual strength, Comandante Chavez is facing this difficult situation," Maduro said.

Maduro said he had met various times with Chavez's medical team and relatives. He said he would remain in Havana "for the coming hours" but didn't specify how long.

Maduro, who arrived in Havana on Saturday for a sudden and unexpected trip, is the highest-ranking Venezuelan official to see Chavez since the surgery in Cuba, where the president's mentor Fidel Castro has reportedly made regular visits to check on him.

Before flying to Cuba, Maduro said that Energy Minister Hector Navarro would be in charge of government affairs in the meantime.

"The situation does not look good. The fact that Maduro himself would go to Cuba, leaving Hector Navarro in charge only seems understandable if Chavez's health is precarious," said David Smilde, a University of Georgia sociologist and analyst for the Washington Office on Latin America think tank.

Smilde said that Maduro probably made the trip "to be able to talk to Chavez himself and perhaps to talk to the Castros and other Cuban advisers about how to navigate the possibility of Chavez not being able to be sworn in on Jan. 10."

"Mentioning twice in his nationally televised speech that Chavez has suffered new complications only reinforces the appearance that the situation is serious," Smilde said.

Before his operation, Chavez acknowledged he faced risks and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election were necessary.

Chavez said at the time that his cancer had come back despite previous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He has been fighting an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer since June 2011.

Medical experts say that it's common for patients who have undergone major surgeries to suffer respiratory infections and that how a patient fares can vary widely from a quick recovery in a couple of days to a fight for life on a respirator.

Maduro's latest update differed markedly from last Monday, when he had said he received a phone call from the president and that Chavez was up and walking.

The vice president spoke on Sunday below a picture of 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar, the inspiration of Chavez's leftist Bolivarian Revolution movement.

Maduro said that Chavez had sent year-end greetings to his homeland and a "warm hug to the boys and girls of Venezuela."

The vice president expressed faith that Chavez's "immense will to live and the care of the best medical specialists will help our president successfully fight this new battle." He concluded his message saying: "Long live Chavez."

Chavez has been in office since 1999 and was re-elected in October, three months after he had announced that his latest tests showed he was cancer-free.

Opposition politicians have criticized a lack of detailed information about Chavez's condition, and last week repeated their demands for a full medical report.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas defended the government's handling of the situation, saying during a televised panel discussion on Sunday night that Chavez "has told the truth in his worst moments" throughout his presidency.

He also referred to a new surge of rumors about Chavez's condition and called for respect for the president and his family.

Villegas said a government-organized New Year's Eve concert in a downtown Caracas plaza had been canceled, and he urged Venezuelans to pray for Chavez.

Chavez's daughter Maria, who has been with the president since his surgery, said in a message on her Twitter account: "Thank you people of Venezuela. Thank you people of the world. You and your love have always been our greatest strength! God is with us! We love you!"

Allies of the president also responded on Twitter, repeating the phrase: "Chavez lives and will triumph."


Ian James on Twitter:


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No Broken Jaw For Junior Dos Santos Following UFC 155 War With Cain Velasquez

No Broken Jaw For Junior Dos Santos Following UFC 155 War With Cain Velasquez Initial reports from UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II had former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos suffering a broken jaw. UFC president Dana White made mention of the possible injury, but it was later denied by Paula Sack.

Sack, a reporter for UFC Brazil, said at the post-fight press conference that dos Santos did not suffer a broken jaw after being taken to the hospital.

Dos Santos was defeated by Velasquez, taking extreme punishment by the new UFC heavyweight champion for the better part of 25 minutes. The loss was the first since entering the UFC for "Cigano."

Follow on Twitter by clicking the "Follow" button below:


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How Neil Armstrong set up 'One Small Step' line


See images from the career of astronaut and American hero Neil Armstrong.

By Alan Boyle

The brother of first moonwalker Neil Armstrong says in a new BBC documentary that the phrase accompanying humanity's first footprint on the moon?? "that's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind"?? was not a spur-of-the-moment improvisation but a speech that was written out and practiced in advance.

In a rare interview, Dean Armstrong recalled that his brother slipped him the words?? including the long-disputed reference to "a man"?? on a piece of paper as they played a game of Risk, months before the Apollo 11 launch in July 1969.

"He says, 'What do you think about that?' I said 'fabulous.' He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it,'"?Dean Armstrong is quoted as saying in a Telegraph report on the documentary, titled "Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon." The show premiered tonight on BBC Two.

The genesis of one of history's most famous phrases has long been shrouded in mystery: In his definitive history of the Apollo moon effort, "A Man on the Moon," Andrew Chaikin noted that as the mission neared, Neil Armstrong was inundated with suggestions for his speech, including passages from the Bible and from Shakespeare.

Chaikin implied that Armstrong was undecided about what he'd say until after Apollo 11's Eagle lunar lander had set down on Tranquility Base: "Now, on the moon, Armstrong knew he could delay no longer. As he thought about the first step he would take from Eagle's footpad he pondered the inherent paradox ? a small step, yet a significant one ? and he knew what he would say."

Dean Armstrong's recollection confirms that his astronaut brother, who died in August at the age of 82, scripted the words early on but held them close to the vest. The BBC documentary's director, Christopher Riley, speculated that Armstrong let people think the words came to him spontaneously to head off any outside tinkering in advance, or any second-guessing in retrospect.

The interview also confirms that Neil Armstrong meant to say "one small step for a man" ? even though the "a" wasn't audible in the transmission from the moon. That's an important stylistic point, because the "a" draws a contrast between the physical length of a human's footstep and Apollo 11's "giant leap" for human exploration.

After the flight, Armstrong insisted that he intended to say "a man." Some experts say that the "a" was dropped because of a glitch in the radio signal, but most assume that Armstrong just left out the word. As the years went on, Armstrong's comments on the mystery took on an air of ambiguity. "We'll never know," Neil Armstrong told an interviewer in 1971.

If he did leave out the word, it's a natural slip to make: Dean Armstrong omitted the "a" himself the first time he quoted the phrase, and had to correct himself a moment later. "It was 'that is one small step for A man,'" he said.

Update for 5:30 p.m. ET: A commenter points out that Dean's recollection runs counter to what his brother Neil told James Hansen about the speech for his authorized biography, "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," published in 2005:

"Once on the surface and realizing that the moment was at hand, fortunately I had some hours to think about it after getting there. My own view was that it was a very simplistic statement: what can you say when you step off of something? Well, something about a step. It just sort of evolved during the period that I was doing the procedures of the practice takeoff and the EVA prep and all the other activities that were on our flight schedule at the time. I didn't think it was particularly important, but other people obviously did. Even so, I have never thought that I picked a particularly enlightening statement. It was a very simple statement."

So maybe the controversy over those first words from the lunar surface will continue after all. ...

More about the first moonwalker:

Alan Boyle is's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's?Facebook page, following?@b0yle on Twitter?and adding the?Cosmic Log page?to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out?"The Case for Pluto,"?my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Washington dodges the 'dairy cliff,' avoids spike in milk prices

The House's Agricultural Committee reached an agreement with the Senate to extend the US farm bill ?that will keep milk prices in check in 2013. Without the compromise the price of a gallon of milk may have reached $7.

By Jim Wolf,?Reuters / December 30, 2012

Jim Mitchell selects a gallon of milk at a Milwaukee grocery store Dec. 4. As the nation teeters on the brink of the economic ?fiscal cliff,? Washington has reached one compromise, extending the US farm bill, which if expired could have doubled the price of milk.

Dinesh Ramde/AP/File


Farm-state lawmakers have agreed to a one-year extension of the expiring US farm bill that, if enacted, would head off a possible doubling of retail milk prices to $7 or more a gallon in 2013.

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The compromise measure resulted from bipartisan discussions in the?House of Representatives' Agriculture Committee?and talks with colleagues in the US?Senate,?Frank Lucas?of?Oklahoma, the?House?panel's chairman, said in a statement Sunday.

"It is not perfect - no compromise ever is - but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the?House?and?Senate?and be signed by the President by January 1," Lucas, a Republican, said.

It was not immediately clear whether?House?and?Senate?leaders would bring the measure to a vote soon enough to avoid putting the so-called "dairy cliff" milk price spike into action.

Separately, lawmakers are working on a last-ditch effort to avert the similarly timed "fiscal cliff," when the biggest tax increases ever to hit Americans are set to start, paired with significant federal spending cuts

US Agriculture?Secretary?Tom Vilsack, in an interview with CNN taped Friday and aired on Sunday, urged?Congress?to come up with such a solution, if only an extension of the old law that expired nearly three months ago, lest milk prices start rising after Jan. 1, 2013.

Absent a new bill or an extension of current law, milk prices would revert to rules set in 1949, the last "permanent" farm legislation in the?United States. Government price supports would kick in, based on production costs 64 years ago, plus inflation. The potential retail milk price has been estimated at $6.00 to $8.00 a gallon versus current levels near $3.50.?

Lucas said in the statement that time had run out in?Congress' current session to enact a new five-year farm bill, as farm-state lawmakers and the dairy lobby had hoped.

Vilsack told CNN that soaring milk prices - if it comes to that - would ripple throughout all commodities "if this thing goes on for an extended period of time."

The price of milk will not double on Jan. 1, if?Congress?fails to act. Instead, prices would rise gradually as supplies are removed from normal markets and land instead in US Department of Agriculture storage facilities.

With supplies more scarce in normal marketing channels, some milk distributors and dairy product manufacturers could have turned to imported supplies.

The Department of Agriculture is reviewing a range of options for administering programs should a permanent law become legally effective on Jan. 1, a spokesman said on Friday.

The?Senate?passed its new five-year farm bill in June, and the?House Agriculture Committee?followed with a version in July.

But the?House?bill, with large cuts in food-stamp funding for lower-income Americans, has never been brought to a vote by the full?House. The?Senate?and?House?have for months remained far apart on the issues of food stamps and crop subsidies.

Lucas said the year-long extension "provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions."

It would also mean another round of the direct subsidies to farmers that cost about $5 billion a year, and that both sides of debate had agreed earlier to eliminate.


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Saturday, December 29, 2012

College basketball Saturday schedule, results

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subclass 461 health insurance question

Hi Elynneg - DIAC generally requires health insurance for 461 visa holders if the country of their citizenship (in your case, USA) does not have reciprocal arrangements with Australia - these are counties like the UK and other who have a nationalised healthcare scheme. I have heard of situations where this is not enforced, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

I don't have specific details of the Medibank or Bupa plans, but as the 461 visa is a temporary visa not unlike the 457, I would be surprised if those plans are not acceptable to DIAC. Migration Regulations only require that if this condition is imposed, "The holder must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while the holder is in Australia." So no minimum level of specific benefits of health insurance are stipulated. I would call Medibank and/or Bupa on Monday and see if you can speak to someone (rather than relying on their websites and preset visa lists) - I have no doubt they will be ready and willing to sell you health insurance for your 461 visa as they are fierce competitors for providing health cover to visa holders.

Finally, an additional note - make sure you've satisfied all the requirements for the 461 visa - you'll need be a "member of the family unit" of your boyfriend - I assume defacto partnership? You may want to be ready with relationship evidence in that case. And your boyfriend needs to be the holder of a 444 visa (or be eligible for one).

Hope this helps, and good luck with your case!

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Mark Northam
Registered Migration Agent
Northam & Associates
Sydney, Australia


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Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie Planning Special Wedding Tattoos?

Truth rating: 1

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According to OK!, ?When Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt finally take the plunge into matrimony this summer they are going to mark the occasion with something even more lasting than jewelry: They plan to get special tattoos.?

?They?re finalizing designs now, but all they?ll say is it will be ?very intimate,?? says a source for the tabloid.

But there?s allegedly a problem.

OK! claims the stars are ?having a hard time agreeing on a design.?

?Angelina loves complicated and deeply thought-out tattoos that only have meaning to her and those closest to her,? explains a mag insider. ?Brad likes something more visual and even suggested they do something a little silly, like a favorite cartoon character.?


Oh, but the supposed issues don?t end there!

?They can?t seem to decide what size and on which body part they should add the new decorations,? reports OK!

In other words, the tabloid can?t tell us anything about the alleged wedding tattoos.

It?s appropriate, since OK! recently pretended to have insight into the nuptials themselves ? and whiffed.

Of course, the same publication falsely insisted the couple had secretly married more than a year ago, and wrongly claimed Jolie was pregnant with twins last February.

OK!?s sources have consistently fed the magazine inaccurate information, and when the tab has nothing to say, it comes up with vague, baseless ?reporting? like this piece about Jolie and Pitt?s wedding tattoos.

An actual source close to the situation tells Gossip Cop the ?special tattoos? story is based on ?pure speculation.?

Follow?@GossipCop on?Twitter!

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Abu Khader Automotive signs a partnership with Jordan Dealer ...

According to the agreement, Abu Khader Automotive will be providing Jordan Dealer rental agency with number of vehicles that will provide their clients with a unique driving experience.

Part of the cars provided was the luxurious Cadillac CTS, in addition to Chevrolet and Opel car models.

Cadillac CTS pushes the boundaries to the limits with its cutting edge exterior design that has been sculptured to satisfy the seer's eye, while its interior is crafted with delicacy and neatness. Its engine was designed to prove its stability and high performance whilst reducing fuel emissions and accordingly maintain average fuel consumption rate.

Mr. Weesam Hamdan - General Manager of Jordan Dealer Rental Agency added "We are pleased to sign this agreement with Abu Khader Automotive and are enthused to have Cadillac as part of our fleet, as it will serve our customers of luxury cars. We would like to thank Abu Khader Automotive and look forward to further cooperation."

Mr. Taher Al-Husseini - General Manager of Abu Khader Automotive (Leading Vehicles Company) "It is our delight to have Jordan Dealer rental agency in our list of partners. We are certain our Cadillac model presented will meet Jordan Dealer rental agency clients and will provide them with the highest standards of quality and safety needed. At Abu Khader Automotive, we always strive to provide our clients with the latest innovations of the automotive world and guarantee an exclusive driving experience. In addition to maintenance services available by trained technicians certified from General Motors Corporation."


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Friday, December 28, 2012

Pacific gets insurance, puts dissolution or annexation on hold ...

The City of Pacific got a last minute reprieve on Wednesday with the City Council voting to accept an offer of insurance coverage for 2013.

The new policy will provide about half the coverage of the new insurance and cost more money, but it will stave off the possibility of the city having to annex into Auburn or cease to exist.

"You need liability insurance to operate the city, the employees need to have some sort of liability coverage, coverage on all the vehicles, coverage for anyone that may get hurt," Council President Leanne Guier told King 5 News.

The city was informed in July that it's previous policy with the Cities Insurance Association of Washington would be cancelled on Dec. 31 if "swift, concrete and verifiable deeds to bring a more stable and professional environment to the City of Pacific" were not made.

At the time of the notice the city was without any major department heads, all of whom had either resigned or been fired by controversial Mayor Cy Sun.

Although the city began to fill vacancies after Sun was ordered by a Pierce County Superior Court judge to hire new personnel, a plea to the CIAW to extend coverage for Pacific was denied.

Facing operating without liability insurance ? which would leave city employees, elected officials and police officers personally liable ? the council drafted resolutions to either annex into Auburn or put a vote to dissolve the city before residents.

Both resolutions were permanently tabled by the council on Wednesday after the vote to accept the new policy.

The city's new policy provides $5 million in coverage, about half the previous policy, and at a higher cost.

Pacific is currently facing nearly $10 million in lawsuits filed by former employees.

After being absent from the previous two meetings regarding annexation and dissolution, Sun was in attendance and defiant at Wednesday's meeting.

"You people want to vote me out, go ahead and do it," he told the audience.

? golly I'm staying in and I'm doing exactly what the people voted me in for,? he added.

Many blame Sun's confrontational leadership style for the 103-year-old city's woes, including the Committee to Recall Cy Sun, who have mounted a campaign to put a recall vote before the people.

Currently the recall effort is raising money to pay their lawyers so the case can be considered by the Washington State Supreme Court. A previous decision by the King County Superior Court ruling there was sufficient cause for recall was appealed by Sun.

A recall vote could come as early as April.

Contact Auburn Reporter Sports Reporter Shawn Skager at or (253) 833-0218, ext. 5054.


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Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Dies at 78

H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the retired general credited with leading U.S.-allied forces to a victory in the first Gulf War, has died at age 78, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

He died today in Tampa, Fla., a U.S. official told the Associated Press.

Schwarzkopf, sometimes called "Stormin' Norman" because of his temper, actually led Republican administrations to two military victories: a small one in Grenada in the 1980s and a big one as de facto commander of allied forces in the Gulf War in 1991.

"'Stormin' Norman' led the coalition forces to victory, ejecting the Iraqi Army from Kuwait and restoring the rightful government," read a statement by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War. "His leadership not only inspired his troops, but also inspired the nation."

Schwarzkopf's success during what was known as Operation Desert Storm came under President George H.W. Bush, who said today through his office that he mourned "the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."

"Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises," Bush said. "More than that, he was a good and decent man -- and a dear friend."

Bush's office released the statement though Bush, himself, was ill, hospitalized in Texas with a stubborn fever and on a liquids-only diet.

Schwarzkopf, the future four-star general, was born Aug. 24, 1934, in Trenton, N.J. He was raised as an army brat in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, following in his father's footsteps to West Point and being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1956.

Schwarzkopf's father, who shared his name, directed the investigation of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping as head of the New Jersey State Police, later becoming a bridgadier general in the U.S. Army.

The younger Schwarzkopf earned three Silver Stars for bravery during two tours in Vietnam, gaining a reputation as an opinionated, plain-spoken commander with a sharp temper who would risk his own life for his soldiers.

"He had volunteered to go to Vietnam early just so he could get there before the war ended," said former Army Col. William McKinney, who knew Schwarzkopf from their days at West Point, according to ABC News Radio.

In 1983, as a newly-minted general, Schwarzkopf once again led troops into battle in President Reagan's invasion of Granada, a tiny Caribbean island where the White House saw American influence threatened by a Cuban-backed coup.

But he gained most of his fame in Iraq, where he used his 6-foot-3, 240-pound frame and fearsome temper to drive his troops to victory. Gruff and direct, his goal was to win the war as quickly as possible and with a focused objective: getting Iraq out of Kuwait.

"If it had been our intention to take Iraq, if it had been our intention to destroy the country, if it had been our intention to overrun the country, we could have done it unopposed," he said at a military briefing in 1991.

He spoke French and German to coalition partners, showed awareness of Arab sensitivities and served as Powell's operative man on the ground.

Powell today recalled Schwarzkopf as "a great patriot and a great soldier," who "served his country with courage and distinction for over 35 years."

"He was a good friend of mine, a close buddy," Powell added. "I will miss him."

Schwarzkopf retired from the Army after Desert Storm in 1991, writing an autobiography, becoming an advocate for prostate cancer awareness, serving on the boards of various charities and lecturing. He and his wife, Brenda, had three children.

Schwarzkopf spent his retirement in Tampa, home base for his last military assignment as commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command.

ABC News' Dana Hughes, Gina Sunseri and Polson Kanneth contributed to this report.

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Lighting Expert to Give Free Talk on Cost-Cutting | Maui Now

Lighting expert and author, Stan Walerczyk, a principal at Lighting Wizards, a Hawaii-based lighting consultancy will speak this month at the Maui County Business Resource Center. Courtesy photo.

By Sonia Isotov

In January, the Maui County Business Resource Center (MCBRC) will host several workshops geared toward helping Maui small and micro businesses succeed.

In particular, lighting expert and author, Stan Walerczyk, a principal at Lighting Wizards, a Hawaii-based lighting consultancy, will give a free presentation on? Monday, Jan. 7, ?explaining a new lighting system called ?human centric lighting,? a cost cutting alternative for energy savings.

Walerczyk?s 24 years of lighting experience includes distribution, maintenance, retrofit contracting, third party review, consulting, design, rebate planning, policy making and research.

The Maui County Business Resource Center also has several other business workshops lined up during January 2013. Every month, local business experts share a wealth of knowledge and experience at the free workshops and topics vary by month but usually focus on starting, financing, and growing a small business.

The center, a division of the County of Maui Office of Economic Development, also offers free business counseling with business executives in the US Small Business Administration?s Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) counselor program. SCORE is a federal program and the Maui Chapter is lead by long-time SCORE counselor and certified public accountant, Richard Kehoe.

January 2013 workshops at the Maui County Business Resource Center include:

?Human Centric Lighting & Technology? by Stan Walerczyk ? Monday, Jan. 7
In this workshop, Walerczyk will discuss what some laud as the next big step in lighting as significant as Edison creating the light bulb. Stan Walerczyk was lead author of ?Human Centric Lighting,? which Architectural SSL Magazine published in June of 2012.

Craig Swift, the executive director for Maui Economic Opportunity?s Business Development Corp. will speak at the Center in January 2013. Courtesy photo.

?The ABCs of a Business Plan? by Craig Swift ? Wednesday, Jan. 9? ? 1 to 2 p.m.
Craig Swift, the director of the Maui Economic Opportunity Business Development Center,? will discuss the reasons for writing a business plan. He has more than 35 years of experience in owning, managing, and lending to small businesses. Participants will receive an outline of the business plan taught by MEO?s Core Four Business Plan Course.

?Understanding Your Credit and Scores? ?by Jason Hall ? Thursday, ?Jan. 10
This is a one-hour crash course on how to improve your credit scores.? Discussed will be: how to deal with collections, tax liens, judgments, late payments, foreclosures and short sales on a credit report. Find out how this information can possibly be removed in less than seven years to improve your scores. This workshop is presented by Jason Hall, a certified credit expert , credit consultant, and former senior loan officer and production manager.

?Learn How to Lead? by Larry Roussel ? Jan. 15 and Jan. 29 ? 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Professional speaker, entrepreneur, and mentor, Larry Roussel, has developed a series of workshops with the ultimate goal of helping people reach their true potential and most desired objectives in life. Through this seminar, attendees will develop a plan of action complete with guided accountability to keep you on track.

Maui Business Brainstormers meet for business networking at the MCBRC. Photo courtesy of MCBRC.

?Discover the Skill to Achieve Success in Your Business ? Part 2? by Mike Kern ? Wednesday, Jan. 16
In this workshop, attendees will learn how to isolate, locate, and eliminate the constraints that are presently holding them back from achieving success in business. Through the years, Kern has owned many businesses in multiple industries. His specialty is business finance, marketing and sales, and operations.? Kerns is also a Junior Achievement advisor at Baldwin HIgh School.

Maui Business Brainstormers Monthly Meeting ? Monday ? Jan. 22 ? 11:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The public is invited to meet other business owners/managers, share and learn with thought-provoking questions, answers and coaching. Bring your business challenges to the meeting. Features: introductions, ?get to know your neighbor,? brainstormers sharing, expert coaching, quickfire. No charge. To attend, the center requests an RSVP at

?Sales Skills 101: Communicating Your Way to a Better Future? by TJ Anderson ? Wednesday, ?Jan. 23
This workshop will focus on the single most important aspect of selling: communication. TJ Anderson will lecture on the art of selling and the importance of proper communication in advancing a position. Anderson is a long-time sales professional, and currently owner and sales manager for No Ka Oi Nut Company, a Maui-based gourmet Bavarian-roasted nut company.

?Should I Buy a Business or Should I Start a New One? by Mike Kern ? Wednesday, Jan. 30
This workshop is for those interested in buying or selling a business. Attendees will learn how to evaluate a business and determine its worth. Mike Kern currently owns eight businesses on the mainland in the areas of manufacturing and distribution. He is familiar with selling businesses to larger corporations or completing an IPO. His specialty is business finance, marketing and sales, and operations.

?Quickbooks for Small Business? by Richard Kehoe, CPA ? Jan. 24 ? 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. $45 per session.
Learn to set up your company?s accounting system in QuickBooks in a small class setting with personalized tutoring. This class is for new users and will teach how to record sales, receive payments, prepare invoices and balance a checkbook. Get customized answers and schedule a follow-up appointment at no cost to discuss a specific solutions. Sponsored by SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and presented by Richard Kehoe, CPA and lead SCORE counselor.

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PFT: Sherman tweets he won his appeal


Former Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown, who boasted last week that he intentionally missed a block so teammate Scott Mitchell would get hurt, now says he regrets it. But Brown, who is now an ESPN commentator, didn?t quite come clean.

?That was 1994, and I was extremely frustrated with the situation that was going on. And, you know, I didn?t try to get the guy hurt, but that?s what ended up happening,? Brown said on ESPN First Take today.

Brown?s claim that ?I didn?t try to get the guy hurt? doesn?t make any sense. He explicitly stated in a radio appearance last week that he purposely missed a block because he wanted Mitchell to suffer an injury, that he told a teammate that?s what he was doing, and that he was glad when Mitchell did, in fact, leave the game with an injury. Brown then boasted about the fact that backup quarterback Dave Krieg came in and played much better than Mitchell had, as if Brown deserved credit for forcing the Lions to make the switch.

Brown?s claim also doesn?t make sense because in the next breath he expressed regret for what he did.

?Do I regret it happened? Yeah, I regret it happened. Did I regret it happened then? No, I didn?t regret it then,? Brown said, later adding that he estimates he played 18,000 plays in his football career and, ?It?s one play out of the 18,000 that I regret.?

So Brown does regret what he did, and is acknowledging that he did it, even after he said he wasn?t trying to get Mitchell hurt.

Mitchell said on Wednesday that he was stunned by Brown?s comments, noting that Brown had been a guest in his home and had always acted to his face like they were friends. Brown acknowledged being friendly with Mitchell.

?Yeah, Scott did have us over to the house and everything, and I felt that I was a good teammate to Scott,? Brown said. ?I expected Scott to react that way. That?s the way he should have reacted. I don?t blame him for reacting that way. But Scott knows a lot of things that went on, too, in Detroit. So I don?t know what I can say now. I?ve already said it, it?s out there. And like I said I expected him to react in that way. I probably, if the shoe had been on the other foot, I probably would have reacted that way too. No, not probably. I would have reacted that way ? probably a little worse than that. So I don?t blame Scott, and hopefully we?ll talk about it.?

Well, it?s good to know that Brown doesn?t blame Mitchell for Brown intentionally letting Mitchell get hurt.

Brown also said that he wishes he had expressed himself differently on his radio appearance last week and not come across like he was bragging about letting Mitchell get hurt.

?I should have been more tactful about how I said that,? Brown said. ?It came off boastful. And I shouldn?t have said it that way. I said it, I can?t take it back, but I shouldn?t have said it the way I said it.?

After those comments, First Take host Cari Champion closed the segment by telling Brown, ?Well done, big fella.? Brown?s ESPN co-workers might be willing to let him off easy, but the rest of us don?t have to. What Brown did to Mitchell was despicable, and Brown has permanently damaged his reputation.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Can you name all the categories on Yahoo! - ...

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Video: Visiting the birthplace of iconic ?Silent Night?

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Iran says it fended off cyber attack on industrial sites

7 hrs.

DUBAI (Reuters) - An Internet virus attacked computers at industrial sites in southern Iran, in an apparent extension of a covert cyber war that initially targeted the country's nuclear facilities, an Iranian official said.?

Iran, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has tightened online security since its uranium enrichment centrifuges were hit in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which Tehran believes was planted by arch-adversaries Israel or the United States.?

The unit tasked with fighting cyber attacks, the Passive Defence Organisation, said a virus had infected several sites in Hormozgan province in recent months but was neutralised.?

"Enemies are constantly attacking Iran's industrial units through Internet networks in order to create disruptions," Ali Akbar Akhavan, head of the Hormozgan branch of the organisation, was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency on Tuesday.?

"This virus has even penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormozgan province, but with timely measures and the cooperation of skilled hackers in the province, the progress of this virus was halted," Akhavan said.?

"As an example, the Bandar Abbas Tavanir Co., a producer of electricity in the province and even adjacent provinces, has been the target of Internet attacks in recent months," he said.?

Bandar Abbas is the capital of Hormozgan province on Iran's southern coast and home to an oil refinery and container port.?

Israeli officials have threatened military action against Iranian nuclear facilities if Western sanctions on Tehran's banking and oil sectors do not persuade the Islamic Republic to shelve its disputed atomic program.?

Western powers suspect Iran is trying to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy.?

Iranian authorities said in April that a computer virus was detected inside the control systems of Kharg Island - which handles the vast majority of Iran's crude oil exports - but the terminal had remained operational.?

Cyber attackers also slowed Iran's Internet and attacked its offshore oil and gas platforms this year, Iranian officials have said.

(c) Copyright ThomsonReuters 2012. Check for restrictions at:?


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Apps to help achieve New Year's resolutions

(Reuters) - Whether it is improving health or managing finances better, about 87 percent of Americans will make resolutions for 2013 and there are plenty of apps to help them achieve their goals.

Nearly half of New Year's resolutions are about setting health-related goals, which is the most popular category, according to a recent survey by online broker TD Ameritrade.

Rather than jumping into a rigorous fitness routine, a new app called 5K Runner suggests it might be better to ease into things slowly and focus on building sustainable habits. The iPhone app helps couch potatoes ramp up their running distance to 5 km over the course of eight weeks.

"You're slowly building this routine into your daily life with a lot of success and after eight weeks you're literally running 5K, which is pretty big if (initially) you're not running at all," said David-Michel Davies, the executive director of The Webby Awards, an annual ceremony honoring Internet companies.

The app guides runners through each run, alternating periods of running and walking for 35 minutes.

Davies also recommends Nike+ Running and RunKeeper, two popular and free fitness apps, which use GPS to track distance traveled, speed and calories burned. Both apps are available for iOS and Android devices.

Diet is another component of good health and a focus of many apps. Fooducate is an iPhone and Android app that helps shoppers make healthier purchases at the supermarket by allowing them to scan the barcodes of products and get insight into how healthy the product is.

Their database, which contains over 200,000 products, displays a grade for the product and information on its contents. It can show whether there are hidden additives or the probability of containing genetically modified ingredients.

"There are a lot of healthy people out there who unknowingly buy products that have an inordinate amount of salt in them," Davies said.

DietBet is an app for people with a competitive streak. Available for iPhone and on the Web, it allows its users to join in a four-week weight loss challenge to lose 4 percent of weight. Everyone bets money, which goes into a fund, and submits proof of weight lost. People who meet the challenge split the money.

"It comes back again to how people get motivated," Davies said. "Gamification is something that technology has really enabled and for some people it really works."

To stay on top of finances, Davies recommends Mint, which provides a visual view of all financial accounts and is available for iOS, Android and on the Web.

(Reporting by Natasha Baker in Toronto; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Eric Beech)


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pope decries slaughter of 'defenseless' Syrians

VATICAN CITY (AP) ? Pope Benedict XVI wished Christmas peace to the world Tuesday, decrying the slaughter of the "defenseless" in Syria, urging Israelis and Palestinians to find the courage to negotiate and encouraging China's new leaders to allow more religious freedom.

Delivering the Vatican's traditional Christmas day message from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict also encouraged Arab spring nations, especially Egypt, to build just and respectful societies.

May China's new leadership "esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each other" to help build a "fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people," the pope prayed.

It was a clear reference to the Chinese government's often harsh treatment of Catholics loyal to the pontiff instead of to the state-sanctioned church. Earlier this month, the Vatican refused to accept the decision by Chinese authorities to revoke the title of a Shanghai bishop, who had been appointed in a rare show of consensus between the Holy See and China.

As the 85-year-old pontiff, bundled up in an ermine-trimmed red cape, gingerly stepped foot on the balcony, the pilgrims, tourists and Romans below backing St. Peter's Square erupted in cheers.

Less than 12 hours earlier, Benedict had led a two-hour long Christmas Eve ceremony in the basilica. He sounded hoarse and looked weary as he read his Christmas message and then holiday greetings in 65 languages.

In his "Urbi et Orbi" speech, which traditionally reviews world events and global challenges, Benedict prayed that "peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict that does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims."

He called for easier access to help refugees and for "dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict."

Benedict prayed that God "grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path to negotiation."

Israel, backed by the United States, opposed the Palestinian statehood bid, saying it was a ploy to bypass negotiations, something the Palestinians deny. Talks stalled four years ago.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said that in a meeting with the pope last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "emphasized our total readiness to resume negotiations." The Palestinians have not dropped their demand that Israel first stop settlement activities before returning to the negotiating table.

Hours earlier, in the ancient Bethlehem church built over the site where tradition holds Jesus was born, candles illuminated the sacred site and the joyous sound of prayer filled its overflowing halls.

Overcast skies and a cold wind in the Holy Land didn't dampen the spirits of worshippers in the biblical West Bank town. Bells pealed and long lines formed inside the fourth-century Church of the Nativity complex as Christian faithful waited to see the grotto that is Jesus' traditional birthplace.

Duncan Hardock, 24, a writer from MacLean, Va., traveled to Bethlehem from the republic of Georgia, where he had been teaching English. After passing through the separation barrier Israel built to ward off West Bank attackers, he walked to Bethlehem's Manger Square where the church stands.

"I feel we got to see both sides of Bethlehem in a really short period of time," Hardock said. "On our walk from the wall, we got to see the lonesome, closed side of Bethlehem ... But the moment we got into town, we're suddenly in the middle of the party."

Bethlehem lies 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Jerusalem. Entry to the city is controlled by Israel, which occupied the West Bank in 1967.

For those who couldn't fit into the cavernous Bethlehem church, a loudspeaker outside broadcast the Christmas day service to hundreds of faithful in the square.

Their Palestinian hosts, who welcome this holiday as the high point of their city's year, were especially joyous this season, proud of the United Nations' recognition of an independent state of Palestine just last month.

"From this holy place, I invite politicians and men of good will to work with determination for peace and reconciliation that encompasses Palestine and Israel in the midst of all the suffering in the Middle East," said the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal in his annual address.

Back at the Vatican, Benedict offered encouragement to countries after the Arab spring of democracy protests. He had a special word for Egypt, "blessed by the childhood of Jesus."

Without citing the tumultuous politics and clashes in the region, he urged the North African region to build societies "founded on justice and respect for the dignity of every person."

Benedict prayed for the return of peace in Mali and harmony in Nigeria, where, he recalled "savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians."

The Vatican for decades has been worried about the well-being of its flock in China, who are loyal to the pope in defiance of the communist's government support of an officially sponsored church, and relations between Beijing and the Holy See are often tense.

Speaking about China's newly installed regime leaders, Benedict expressed hope that "they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each other, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people and of the whole world."

Acknowledging Latin America's predominant Christian population, he urged government leaders to carry out commitments to development and to fighting organized crime.

In Britain, the royal family was attending Christmas Day church services at St. Mary Magdelene Church on Queen Elizabeth II's sprawling Sandringham estate, though there were a few notable absences. Prince William is spending the holiday with his pregnant wife Kate and his in-laws in the southern England village of Bucklebury, while Prince Harry is serving with British troops in Afghanistan.

Later Tuesday, the queen delivered her traditional, prerecorded Christmas message, which for the first time was broadcast in 3D.

At Canterbury cathedral, Anglican leader Rowan Williams delivered his final Christmas day sermon as archbishop of Canterbury. He acknowledged how the church's General Synod's vote against allowing women to become bishops had cost credibility and said the faithful felt a "real sense of loss" over the decision.


Dalia Nammari in Bethlehem and Cassandra Vinograd in London contributed to this report.


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? How to Ride a Motorcycle

The right hand is responsible for two key functions in motorcycling: acceleration and braking. By turning the handle towards you (if your wrist moves down), you apply gas (or ?gas? engine.) A little twist goes a long way, so be gentle with this command from the engine can cause sudden instability, or even accidental wheelies. The right hand also controls the front brakes (as seen in the upper half of the photo.) Pull the lever applies the front brakes, and smoothness is crucial here: pull the lever too hard, and the front brakes can block, causing the bike to skid, which could go ahead and crash. While most bikes are able to stop using a two-finger technique (as seen on the picture above), some require the whole hand wrapped around the lever. Use the technique that works best with your bike.

The right foot operates the rear brake (shown in the bottom half of the photo split-screen), but you should know that when the front brakes are in use, the rear becomes less effective (because the weight transfers to forward during braking.) Rear brake is most useful in situations reduced traction and low speed maneuvers, and if the rear brake is sometimes more effective on cruisers (because they carry a large part of their weight on the rear wheel), front brakes are usually the most effective way to stop a motorcycle. The clutch lever is in front of the left grip. Most sport bikes requires only two fingers functioning (photo above), during a tour, cruise and other types of motorcycles often need the whole hand to grab the lever (photo below).

Consider the clutch as a means to connect and disconnect the motor of the transmission. When you press the clutch, you are actually putting the bike in neutral (even if the shifter is in gear.) When you let go, allowing the engine to turn the transmission and, if the motorcycle is running, the rear wheel. Is to pull the clutch with your left hand and do it slowly and gradually, imagine that it is a dimmer switch, rather than an ?On-Off?, and you will be able to engage gears much more smoothly. Motorcycles go differently than cars. Although they operate on the same principle, the changes of motorcycles are executed by the movement of a lever up or down with the left foot. A vast majority of motorcycles incorporate this model, which is called ?1 down, 5 up.? Find neutral with your left foot will take some time getting used to, and while clicking the shifter back and forth.

You will be looking for the green ?N? light on the gauges. While some bikes can be moved without using the clutch, make it a habit to use the clutch every time you pass. The bike will not start if the circuit breaker is in the ?on? position, flip it before turning the key (the circuit breaker is usually a red rocker switch operated by the right thumb, as seen in half top of the photo.) now, turn the key to position ?ignition? position, which is generally to the right (as seen in the lower half of the picture.) most bikes perform a self-test to ensure that the gauges are operational and each witness might involve going off like a Christmas tree. If you see the speedometer and / or tachometer (which measures the speed of the motor) pin itself and return to zero, do not worry ? this is normal. When the self-test is complete, make sure that you are neutral (double-check that the green ?N? is lit.)


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HostGator Assessment ? Should You Make use of ... - No Comments

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Gift to Stargazers: The Christmas Sky

The Yuletide evening sky is especially rewarding, with much of the eastern swathe filled with brilliant stars ? sort of a celestial Christmas tree.

Distinctive groupings of stars forming part of the recognized constellation outlines, or lying within their boundaries, are known as asterisms. Ranging in size from sprawling naked-eye figures to minute stellar settings, they are found in every quarter of the sky and at all seasons of the year.?

The larger asterisms ? ones like the Big Dipper in Ursa Major and the Great Square of Pegasus ? are often better known than their host constellations. One of the most famous is in the northwest these frosty December evenings.?

The Northern Cross

The brightest six stars of the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) ? which was known simply as the ?Bird? in ancient times ? compose an asterism popularly called the Northern Cross. [Night Sky Observing Guide for December 2012 (Gallery)]

Bright Deneb decorates the top of the Cross. Albereo, at the foot of the Cross, is really a pair of stars of beautifully contrasting colors: a third-magnitude orange star and its fifth-magnitude blue companion are clearly visible in even a low-power telescope. (In astronomy, lower magnitudes signify relatively brighter objects. Venus' magnitude is around -5, for example, while the full moon's is about -13.)

While usually regarded as a summertime pattern, the Northern Cross is best oriented for viewing now. It? appears to stand majestically upright on the northwest horizon at around 8:30 p.m. local time, forming an appropriate Christmas symbol. (And just before dawn on Easter morning, the cross lies on its side in the eastern sky.)

The Christmas package

Look over toward the southeast part of the sky at about the same time, 8:30 p.m. or so. Can you see a large package in the sky, tied with a pretty bow across the middle? Four bright stars outline the package, while three others make up the decorative bow. [Stunning Night Sky Photos of December 2012]

Now you can see how our modern imagination might work, but tradition tells us that those seven stars formed a mighty hunter called Orion, the most brilliant of the constellations and visible from every inhabited part of the Earth. Two stars mark his shoulders, two more his knees and three his belt.

As is also the case with the mighty Hercules, the figure of Orion has been associated in many ancient cultures with great national heroes, warriors or demigods. Yet in contrast to Hercules, who was credited with a detailed series of exploits, Orion seems to us a vague and shadowy figure.?

The ancient mythological stories of Orion are so many and so confused that it is almost impossible to choose among them. Even the origin of the name Orion is obscure, though some scholars have suggested a connection with the Greek "Arion," meaning "warrior."?

The myths all tend to agree that he was the mightiest hunter in the world, and he is always pictured in the stars with his club upraised in his right hand. Hanging from his upraised left hand is the skin of a great lion he has killed. Orion is brandishing this skin in the face of Taurus, the Bull, who is charging him. ?

The heavenly manger

The legendary French astronomer Nicolas Camille Flammarion (1842-1925) referred to the three belt stars of Orion as "The Three Kings." If we consider these three stars to represent the Magi, then it's fitting that the star cluster known as Preasepe,(the Manger) lies not far to the east, within the faint zodiacal constellation of Cancer.

A manger is a trough or open box in which feed for horses or cattle is placed. The Book of St. Luke tells us that the baby Jesus was set down in a manger because there was no room at the local inn. In our current Yuletide evening sky, Preasepe thus can represent the manger where Christ was placed...?

The constellation Cancer is practically an empty space in the sky, positioned between the Twin Stars (Pollux and Castor) of Gemini and the Sickle of Leo. It?s completely devoid of any bright stars and would probably not be considered a constellation at all, if not for the fact that there had to be a sign of the Zodiac between Gemini and Leo.

In the middle of Cancer are two stars called the Aselli ("donkeys") that are feeding from the manger; Asselus Borealis and Asselus Australis bracket Preasepe to the north and south, respectively.

To the unaided eye, the manger appears as a soft, fuzzy patch or dim glow. But in good binoculars and low-power telescopes, it is a beautiful object to behold, appearing to contain a smattering of several dozen stars. Using his crude telescope, Galileo wrote in 1610 of seeing Preasepe not as one fuzzy star, but as? " . . . a mass of more than 40 small stars."?

The shepherd?s star

If you are up about an hour or so before sunrise, look toward the east-southeast to get a glimpse of what Flammarion described as "The Shepherd?s Star," the planet Venus. He wrote:

"She shines in the east in the morning, with a splendid brightness which eclipses that of all the stars. She is, without comparison, the most magnificent star of our sky; the star of sweet confidences."

Indeed, Venus is always bright. This year, it will remind those who rise early on Christmas morning of the Biblical "Star in the East."

Telescope targets

Venus may be rather disappointing to those who receive a telescope as a holiday gift, appearing as nothing more than a dazzling disk of light. But there are two other splendid planetary targets to gaze at.

That very bright 'star" that you notice at day?s end in December, glowing about one-quarter of the way up from the east-northeast horizon right after sundown, is actually Jupiter. The gas giant is a superb telescopic showpiece, with cloud bands crossing its disk and a retinue of four large moons. On Christmas night, Jupiter will be visible just above the waxing gibbous moon, making for an eye-catching sight.

And lastly, in the predawn morning sky is "the lord of the rings," Saturn, which this week rises above the east-southeast horizon around 3 a.m. local time and just before sunrise can be found about 30 degrees above and to the right of Venus.

Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures about 10 degrees, so Saturn will appear about "three fists" up and to Venus?s right. .A telescope magnifying 30-power or more will reveal Saturn?s famous rings, now tilted almost 19 degrees to our line of sight.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, New York.?Follow on Twitter?@Spacedotcom. We're also on?Facebook?&?Google+.?

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