Sunday, July 14, 2013

Scosche Retractable Charge & Sync Adapter Cable for iPhone, iPad & Micro USB: $5 shipped (Reg. $20)

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Naked and Afraid

Friday, June 21, 2013

Senators announce border security compromise

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Republican senators searching for compromise on an immigration bill have announced an amendment to dramatically increase agents, technology and fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The deal was announced on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon by GOP Sens. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Bob Corker of Tennessee. It would double border patrol agents on the border, build 700 new miles of fencing and spend billions to deploy additional high-tech tools including drones, radar and seisimic monitoring.

Corker says it amounts to "investing resources to secure our border that have never been invested before."

Even before being formally introduced the amendment was adding powerful momentum to the White House-backed legislation, which looked likely to pass the Senate with a bipartisan majority in coming days.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

French lessons, and lessons about the French

An impromptu offer from an officer manager to practice French helped reshape the Monitor bureau chief's initial notions about life in France.

By Sara Miller Llana,?Staff writer / June 7, 2013

When I called a consultancy company in France specializing in sustainable business practices for a recent story on the Bangladesh garment factory tragedy, the office manager who picked up the phone said afterwards, ?Are you looking to perfect your French??

Skip to next paragraph Sara Miller Llana

Europe Bureau Chief

Sara Miller Llana?moved to Paris in April 2013 to become the Monitor's Europe Bureau?Chief. Previously she was the?paper's?Latin America Bureau Chief, based in Mexico City, from 2006 to 2013.

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Embarrassing, yes, but she wasn?t being unkind. In fact, she was offering to connect me with a colleague who wanted to practice his English. She added, ?If you need extra help, you can call me for ten minutes per day.?

I didn?t really take the offer seriously, until a few days later ? and after my story was written ? I thought, ?Why not?? I called her, somewhat hesitantly, and asked if it was a good time. It was awkward at first, but it came easily once we realized we both have toddlers the same age. And there it is: my first French friend, a woman I?ve never met, who talks to me on the phone each day, patiently listening to me prattle on and correcting my butchering of French expressions in Email messages. It might be the nicest thing anyone has done for me unsolicited in a long time.

Apart from being where the news is, in contact with the people living through it and shaping it, I believe another crucial thing that foreign correspondents can offer is the tools to dispelling stereotypes. Before I moved here, I wrote a ?farewell? letter to Mexico, about my fears that my French neighbors would be nowhere as warm as my Mexican ones. Those ideas were shaped from media coverage, movies, and even French people I know who warned me about everything from the French hating Americans to hating one another.

I?ve only been here for two months. I have a lot more to learn about the people before anecdotes become opinions. But already I can see how my initial notions can be very wrong.??And it?s not in the major events or episodes, but the daily living over time.

Take yesterday. I was sizing up the people outside of a new gym class I was about to try: "body attack." I made note that all the women around me, without exception (and I did look at them all), were wearing make-up. Not heavy make-up, but they were made up.

Like some people need coffee in the morning (I need that too) or a nap in the afternoon, I need to belong to a gym. I?d been disappointed by several lame classes previously in France. I tried to withhold judgment until I gave it more time, but inside I was thinking, ?Do the French not work out as hard as Americans or the amazing athletes in Mexico with whom I did yoga, cycling, Pilates, and lifting over the past seven years??

I didn?t have high hopes today.

And then we started warming up, and then we started jumping in the air, and doing planks and pushups, and army exercises ? and people were whooping and hollering, and breaking out in dance. There was an obvious camaraderie in the class. And the exuberance was unmatched by any Latino zumba or body combat class I attended (with perhaps the exception of an extraordinarily energetic spin class I once attended in Brazil).

I would have never expected that, judging from the reserve one sees on the streets of Paris. I would have never expected a French mother, working full-time, to talk to a stranger (a journalist, no less, asking invasive questions) every day on the phone. These surprises are sure to stack up over time, until I realize that what I came here thinking is in large part no longer even true.


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Obama: Northern Ireland peace will be tested

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland (AP) ? President Barack Obama declared peace in Northern Ireland a "blueprint" for those living amid conflict around the world, while acknowledging that the calm between Catholics and Protestants will face further tests. Summoning young people to take responsibility for their country's future, Obama warned there is "more to lose now than there's ever been."

"The terms of peace may be negotiated by political leaders, but the fate of peace is up to each of us," Obama said Monday during remarks at Belfast's Waterfront Hall. The glass-fronted building would never have been built during the city's long era of car bombs.

Obama arrived in Northern Ireland Monday morning after an overnight flight from Washington. Following his speech to about 1,800 students and adults, he flew to a lakeside golf resort near Enniskillen, passing over a sweeping patchwork of tree-lined farms as he prepared to meet with other leaders of the Group of 8 industrial nations on Syria, trade and counterterrorism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron greeted the leaders one-by-one in front of the picturesque lake where the summit was being held and posed for media cameras before they headed into their first closed session, on the global economy. Earlier, Obama and European Union leaders emerged from a group roundtable meeting to announce that they were opening negotiations next month in Washington toward a broad trade deal designed to slash tariffs, boost exports and fuel badly needed economic growth.

Obama said there will be sensitivities and politics to overcome by parties on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, but he's hopeful they can "stay focused on the big picture" of the economic and strategic importance of the agreement. "America and Europe have done extraordinary things together before and I believe we can forge an economic alliance as strong as our diplomatic and security alliances, which of course have been the most powerful in history," Obama told reporters.

One-on-one meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta all were on Obama's agenda for Monday. Cameron selected Enniskillen as the site of this year's meeting as a way to highlight Northern Ireland's ability to leave behind a four-decade conflict that claimed 3,700 lives.

Significant progress has been made in the 15 years since the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Accords, including a Catholic-Protestant government and the disarmament of the IRA and outlawed Protestant groups responsible for most of the 3,700 death toll. But tearing down Belfast's nearly 100 "peace lines" ? barricades of brick, steel and barbed wire that divide neighborhoods, roads and even one Belfast playground ? is still seen by many as too dangerous. Obama cited that playground in his speech, lauding an activist whose work led to the opening of a pedestrian gate in the fence.

Acknowledging the reality of a sometimes-fragile peace, Obama recalled the Omagh bombings that killed 29 people and injured hundreds more. It was the deadliest attack of the entire conflict and occurred after the Good Friday deal.

Peace will be tested again, Obama said in Belfast.

"Whenever your peace is attacked, you will have to choose whether to respond with the same bravery that you've summoned so far or whether you succumb to the worst instincts, those impulses that kept this great land divided for too long. You'll have to choose whether to keep going forward, not backward," he said.

Last month, the Catholic and Protestant leaders of Northern Ireland's unity government announced a bold but detail-free plan to dismantle all peace lines by 2023. British Prime Minister David Cameron formally backed the goal Friday, and Obama followed with his own endorsement Monday.

The president specifically endorsed an end to segregated housing and schools, calling it an essential element of lasting peace.

"If towns remain divided ? if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs, if we can't see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden ? that too encourages division. It discourages cooperation," Obama said.

One symbol of that effort to end the segregation was on display as Obama spoke to an audience that brought together students from both faiths, effectively integrating Northern Ireland's schoolchildren if just for a morning. Later, in Enniskillen, Obama and Cameron rolled up their sleeves at one of Northern Ireland's first integrated schools, talking hunger and poverty with children who were studying the G-8.

Drawing on America's own imperfect battle with segregation, Obama recalled how well over a century after the U.S. Civil War, the nation he leads is still not fully united. His own parents ? a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya ? would not have been able to marry in some states, Obama said, and he would have had a hard time casting a ballot, let alone running for office.

"But over time, laws changed, and hearts and minds changed, sometimes driven by courageous lawmakers, but more often driven by committed citizens," he said.

Though Obama did not specifically mention Syria, his remarks on Northern Ireland recalled the fierce conflict there that has so far resulted in 93,000 deaths. For those looking for a way out of conflict, Obama said Northern Ireland is "proof of what is possible."

Obama and other G-8 leaders were expected to discuss Syria Monday night over a working dinner. Obama will be looking to Britain and France to join him in sending weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Casting a shadow over the summit are new revelations by the Guardian newspaper that the British eavesdropping agency GCHQ repeatedly hacked into foreign diplomats' phones and emails when the U.K. hosted international conferences, including a 2009 Group of 20 summit in London. The report follows recent disclosures about the U.S. government's own surveillance programs and could lead to awkward conversation as the leaders open another international gathering that Britain is hosting.

Despite an agenda devoted to trade, economic growth and international tax issues, the G-8 will be eclipsed by discussions over how to address the two-year-old civil war in Syria and the decision by the United States to begin supplying rebels with military aid.

Obama's meeting with Russia's Putin later Monday will highlight the rift between their countries in addressing fierce fighting in Syria. While Putin has called for negotiated peace talks, he has not called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power, and he remains one of Assad's strongest political and military allies.

In a likely preview of his discussions with Obama, Putin defended Russia's continuing supply of weapons to Assad's military Sunday and said Russia was providing arms "to the legitimate government of Syria in full conformity with the norms of international law."

The White House is not expecting any breakthrough with Putin on Syria during Putin's meeting with Obama.

Obama is making his first visit to Northern Ireland, though he visited the neighboring Republic of Ireland in 2011. That trip included a public speech in the center of Dublin, as well as a stop in the village of Moneygall, where Obama's great-great-great grandfather was born. The president called that visit "magical."

First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha, who also made the trip from Washington, were to spend Monday and Tuesday in Dublin while the president attended the G-8 summit. Later Tuesday, the first family departs for Germany, where the president will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and speak at the Brandenburg Gate.


Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Sligo, Ireland, and Shawn Pogatchnik in Enniskillen contributed to this report.


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Monday, June 17, 2013

Chris Brown Uses Aaliyah In 'Don't Think They Know' Vid To Call Out Gang Violence

Brown preaches unity in the clip with the late '90s singer.
By Rob Markman


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Former Elmo puppeteer wins 3 Daytime Emmy awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Kevin Clash, the Elmo puppeteer who resigned amid allegations that he sexually abused underage boys, won three Daytime Emmy Awards for his work on "Sesame Street."

Clash won as outstanding performer in a children's series at the creative arts ceremony held Friday night. He shared trophies for outstanding pre-school children's series and directing in a children's series, giving Clash 26 Daytime Emmys for his work on the venerable PBS show.

He played Elmo for 28 years before quitting last November. Clash's lawyer has said that related lawsuits filed against the entertainer are without merit.

The main Daytime Emmys ceremony is Sunday in Beverly Hills.


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