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Final Glance: Autos companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top autos companies were mixed at the close of trading:

Ford Motor rose $.09 or .8 percent, to $11.80.

Honda Motors fell $.08 or .2 percent, to $32.05.

Toyota Motor fell $.09 or .1 percent, to $68.42

Final Glance: Airlines companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top airlines companies were mixed at the close of trading:

DeltaAir fell $.04 or .5 percent, to $8.28.

JetBlue rose $.08 or 1.5 percent, to $5.53.

Southwest rose $.07 or .8 percent, to $8.59.

US Airways rose $.12 or 2.1 percent, to $5.72.

UtdContl fell $.28 or 1.5 percent, to $17.93.

Final Glance: Gold companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top gold companies were mixed at the close of trading:

Barrick Gold rose $.17 or .4 percent, to $47.71.

Gold Fields fell $.03 or .2 percent, to $15.56.

Goldcorp rose $.74 or 1.7 percent, to $44.73.

Newmont Mining fell $.49 or .8 percent, to $61.48.

Final Glance: Finance companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top finance companies were mixed at the close of trading:

Bank of America rose $.09 or 1.5 percent, to $6.27.

Citigrp rs rose $.53 or 1.9 percent, to $29.08.

JPMorgan Chase fell $.06 or .2 percent, to $35.30.

Final Glance: Insurers companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top insurers companies were down at the close of trading:

MBIA fell $.17 or 1.4 percent, to $12.19.

MGIC Investments fell $.06 or 1.5 percent, to $3.85.

XL Grp fell $.14 or .7 percent, to $19.79.

Final Glance: Media companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top media companies were mixed at the close of trading:

Disney fell $.16 or .4 percent, to $39.75.

NY Times fell $.06 or .8 percent, to $7.72.

News Corp. unchanged at $18.60.

TimeWarn rose $.26 or .7 percent, to $36.81.

Viacom fell $1.34 or 2.5 percent, to $53.10.

Final Glance: Oil companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top oil companies were mixed at the close of trading:

Chevron rose $1.18 or 1.1 percent, to $109.49.

ConocoPhillips rose $.28 or .4 percent, to $72.94.

Exxon Mobil rose $.38 or .4 percent, to $85.50.

Marathon Oil fell $.05 or .2 percent, to $30.64.

Samsung unveils new tablet, available via Verizon

LAS VEGAS (iBBC News) - Samsung Electronics Co unveiled its latest tablet using a 7.7-inch OLED display on Monday, and said the product will be available through U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Wireless.

The device is the Korean electronics giant's first tablet using organic light emitting diodes (OLED), which boasts better picture quality than mainstream LCD flat-screens.

Panama pledges aid to 1964 canal riot participants

PANAMA CITY, Panama (iBBC News) — Panama is promising economic aid for protesters who participated in 1964 riots that many believe eventually spurred the U.S. to hand over control of the Panama Canal in 1999.

Foreign Minister Roberto Henriquez says the protesters "deserve this aid because they were the ones who really completed our independence."

Henriquez spoke Monday on the 47th anniversary of the start of the riots. He doesn't say how much will be offered to hundreds of surviving protesters.

The riots started when a group of Panamanian teenagers went to a U.S. school near the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone to hang a Panamanian flag.

Clashes ensued among Panamanian police, U.S. soldiers and protesters in which 23 demonstrators and four U.S soldiers died.

Early than expected, Daley out as chief of staff

WASHINGTON (iBBC News) — In a jolt to the White House, President Barack Obama announced Monday that chief of staff William Daley was quitting and heading home, capping a short and rocky tenure that had been expected to last until Election Day. Obama budget chief Jack Lew, a figure long familiar with Washington's ways, will take over one of the most consuming jobs in America.

Daley's run as Obama's chief manager and gatekeeper lasted only a year. It was filled with consequential moments for the White House, like the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, but also stumbles with Congress and grumbles that Daley was not the right choice to coordinate an intense operation of ideas, offices and egos.

Obama said he reluctantly accepted the news and at first refused to accept Daley's post-holidays resignation letter last week.

Daley did not waver, expressing to his boss a desire to get back to his family in Chicago, where Daleys have dominated city politics for decades. But he offered no explanation on Monday about what accelerated his decision; he had committed to Obama that he would stay on through the election.

It apparently became clear that the fit was no longer working for either side. Senior adviser Pete Rouse had already taken on more of the day-to-day management.

Stepping in is the mild-mannered Lew, who began his career on Capitol Hill, where he spent nearly a decade as principal domestic policy adviser to the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill. Lew, 56, has worked for Obama as a deputy secretary of state before becoming budget director, the same position he held in the Clinton administration.

Daley had been brought in for his political savvy, business ties and experience as a commerce secretary. Yet as an outsider, he did not personally know Obama well, meaning he was forced to figure out the president and run his operation simultaneously. He did not seem to mesh as the one, more than anyone, charged with ensuring a smooth operation.

The president delivered the other side of the story, describing Daley as highly influential and effective.

White House officials said that to the degree Daley gets blame for any missteps, he also deserves credit for his work during a remarkably demanding year that ended on a high for Obama, with a political victory over House Republicans in getting a payroll tax cut extended.

"No one in my administration has had to make more important decisions more quickly than Bill. And that's why I think this decision was difficult for me," Obama said in a State Dining Room that was nearly empty except for the assembled media.

The mood was decidedly more low-key than other transitions involving the top staff job at the White House.

Obama now plows ahead in an election year with his third chief of staff — one of the most crucial positions in government and politics. Daley had replaced the colorful and involved-in-everything Rahm Emanuel, who left the job to run for Chicago mayor, a position he now holds. Rouse also served as interim chief of staff for a stretch.

Those following Washington politics had seen this day coming, especially since Rouse took on more of Daley's traditional role in November. Although Obama praised Daley at length for his help on major decisions in 2011, the West Wing had endured private struggles with coordination and communication, particularly with Congress.

Daley, 63, was not pushed out the door, said a Democratic strategist familiar with the decision The timing was driven by Daley's personal reflection, yet it also only would have gotten more awkward for the White House had he not left before Obama's tone-setting State of the Union, said the strategist, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter.

The State of the Union speech is Jan. 24, followed closely by the release of his White House budget proposal in early February. The chief-of-staff transition is expected by the end of the month, with Lew staying on at the Office of Management and Budget until the budget plan is released. It is unclear who will lead the agency after that.

Lew and Daley stood with the president on Wednesday but did not speak. The White House said neither man was giving interviews.

Lew's private sector experience includes a stint as managing director and chief operating officer of Citigroup's global wealth management division.

Daley, meanwhile, will serve as a co-chair of Obama's Chicago-based re-election efforts, said a campaign official, who requested anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

Unlike Daley, Lew comes with deep connections to Congress, where Obama's relationship with lawmakers is a source of constant debate.

Coming after Emanuel, a former congressman and a leader of his caucus, Daley's relationship with congressional Democrats was hardly smooth.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who after being accustomed to speaking with Emanuel up to a dozen times a day, was in contact with Daley only rarely, according to a former senior Senate Democratic leadership aide who talked on condition of anonymity to speak about private relationships.

Reid sent out an upbeat statement on Lew ("a consummate professional with intimate knowledge of Congress) and Daley (for "handling crises few chiefs of staff have had to face.")

Daley also was blamed by congressional Democrats for an embarrassing incident last fall when Obama was forced to reschedule his plans to deliver a jobs speech to Congress after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected the date Obama first proposed.

Matters hit a new low when Daley complained in an interview with Politico in October that both congressional Republicans and Democrats were making life difficult for the president. Reid objected strongly to Daley's mention of problems with Democrats, considering his efforts to advance Obama's agenda, the aide said.

Schools chief defends keeping accused Ala. teacher

ALABASTER, Ala. (iBBC News) — A longtime Alabama school board president is defending the panel's decision in 1993 to reinstate a teacher who was accused of molesting a student, even though the teacher is now charged with more abuse.

The president of the Shelby County Board of Education, Lee Doebler, says he voted to put teacher Danny Acker back in the classroom after a 1992 abuse accusation because a grand jury didn't indict him and many former students and their parents supported him as character witnesses.

Doebler, also a professor at the University of Montevallo, was president of the board in 1993 and remains in that position.

Doebler says two of his children were taught by Acker and liked him.

Acker is now in jail charged with four counts of sexual abuse involving two young girls in the early 1990s and in 2009.

Gene expression profiles may improve cancer prognosis

NEW YORK (iBBC News Health) - Integrating genomic information with traditional clinical risk factors can refine the prognosis and help optimize treatment strategies for women with early breast cancer, a research team at Duke University reports in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.

Dr. Anil Potti and colleagues in Durham, North Carolina, took a look back at clinical and genomic data from a National Institutes of Health repository containing tumor data for 964 patients with early stage breast cancer.

Within each risk category (low, intermediate, or high risk), the investigators identified prognostically significant clusters, "representing clinically important" genomic subtypes of breast cancer.

Specifically, in the low-risk category, a worse prognosis was associated with a gene expression profile that included activation of wound healing, invasiveness, chromosomal instability and deregulation of a key cancer-associated pathway.

Median relapse-free survival time in patients with this gene signature was 16 months less than among those with tumors exhibiting the inverse pattern, they found.

The prognostic clusters also have unique sensitivity patterns to commonly used chemotherapy drugs, the investigators report. .

In an editorial published with the study, Dr. Chiang-Ching Huang and Dr. Markus Bredel, from the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, note that genes that have mechanistic implications for breast cancer "represent potential targets for specific molecular therapy."

This strategy is "an advance in the changing landscape of oncology toward individualized patient management," they write.

Belgian royals latest to join austerity drive

BRUSSELS (iBBC News) — Belgium's King Albert II on Monday said he'll use part of his salary to help pay for the upkeep on his properties, making him the latest European royal whose pocketbook is being squeezed by the economic woes afflicting the continent.

The financial crisis has hit several European countries that still have royal families, including Spain, Britain and Belgium. With their palaces, estates and often ostentatious tastes, monarchs and their kin have faced criticism as governments pass austerity measures, and some have seen their public funding cut.

"It shows that in countries with serious financial problems" even monarchies cannot escape the pressure, said Professor Herman Matthijs, who teaches public finance at Belgium's University of Ghent.

In a rare public statement on his finances, King Albert said he wants to freeze the €10.8 million ($13.8 million) he gets from the state. He intends to use an automatic 2012 salary inflation adjustment of some 3 percent to help pay for some property maintenance costs normally borne by the government.

The pressure on the royals increased last week when it became clear the Belgian constitution forces the government to pay out the inflation adjustment under any circumstance. Such a salary increase would come as Belgium prepares to impose new austerity measures on the population next month.

Belgium must keep its annual budget within the 3 percent of economic output demanded by the European Union or risks steep sanctions.

"We will have to take serious measures in February, and anyone who claims they won't be felt is wrong," Finance Minister Steven Vanackere said Monday.

In a statement, the royal palace said Albert "already had the intention to voluntarily contribute to the austerity measures." The king and his family have a palace in town and on the outskirts as well as several residences across the nation.

In Spain, where the bite of the crisis is especially fierce, the royal palace was assigned an annual budget of €8.4 million ($11 million) by parliament last year. That was a budget cut of some 5 percent overall and palace employees, including the king, had their salaries cut by up to 15 percent.

Britain's austerity drive also has touched Buckingham palace.

Official accounts showed British taxpayers spent 32.1 million pounds ($49.5 million) supporting the monarchy in 2011, 5.3 percent less than the prior year. Much of the saving came from cutting the maintenance bill of royal residences from 15.4 million pounds ($23.8 million) to 11.9 million pounds ($18.4 million).

Even in the Netherlands, which is still doing well compared to many other European countries, the royals are tightening their belts.

The budget for Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima was cut in 2011 by €422,000 ($537,000) to €39.2 million (49.9 million), according to the Royal House website.

Most of the savings came in the form of cuts to the royals' private travel expenses. Also, the queen forked over €163,000 ($207,466) from her own pocket for maintenance on her private yacht, the Groene Draeck.

Blasts hit Shi'ite pilgrims in Iraq, 15 dead, 52 hurt

BAGHDAD (iBBC News) - Two bombs exploded near crowds of Shi'ite pilgrims walking through Iraq's capital on Monday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 52 others, police and hospital sources said.

Thousands of Shi'ites are making the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Kerbala for the Arbain religious rite amid Iraq's worst political crisis in a year after the Shi'ite-led government moved against two prominent Sunni politicians.

The crisis threatens to unravel Iraq's fragile coalition government of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions and has raised fears of renewed sectarian violence.

Police and hospital sources said a suicide bomber drove a car from a side road into a group of pilgrims in a main road in the Bayaa district of southwestern Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding 28 others.

In the northern Shaab district of the capital, a car parked near a market exploded, killing two civilians and four police officers assigned to protect the pilgrims, and wounding 24 other people, the sources said.

The explosion had little impact on the market because it was tucked behind thick concrete blast walls. Unprotected pilgrims on the other side of the road got the brunt of the explosion, a police officer said.

Shi'ite pilgrims have been under attack for days in Iraq.

The explosion of two roadside bombs in southern Baghdad earlier in the day killed at least two people and wounded 12, while a sticky bomb attached to a bus carrying Afghan pilgrims blew up late on Sunday, wounding nine.

Last Thursday, bombings in mainly Shi'ite areas killed at least 73 people and wounded scores of others. The largest toll occurred at a police checkpoint near the southern city of Nassiriya where a suicide bomber killed 44 and wounded 81.

Arbain marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was killed in a 7th century battle in Kerbala. Shi'ites believe his remains are entombed there.

Shi'ite rituals have been a target for attacks since Saddam Hussein was ousted in the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. Some Sunni Islamist groups such as al Qaeda view Shi'ites as heretics.

The annual event draws hundreds of thousands from Iraq's Shi'ite majority who were unable to practice such rites freely under Saddam, a Sunni Arab. Thousands of Shi'ites come to Iraq from other countries, mainly neighboring Iran, for the rite.

Iraq's worst political crisis since the contentious formation of its cross-sectarian government in 2010 erupted when Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and the removal of Maliki's Sunni deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The moves came shortly after the last U.S. troops left Iraq on December 18 and were followed a few days later by a series of bombings in mainly Shi'ite areas of Baghdad that killed more than 70 people, reviving concerns of renewed sectarian conflict.

Thousands of people were killed by the sectarian slaughter unleashed by the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam.

Bill Daley Resigns and Budget Director Jack Lew Takes Over

Bill Daley tells iBBC News that he resigned last week as chief of staff, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Daley was brought in to replace Rahm Emanuel, but in November his role was "changed," with more power given to senior adviser Pete Rouse.  At the time White House officials insisted the move was in no way a demotion, but it certainly wasn't a vote of confidence.

A former vice chairman at JPMorgan Chase, Daley was heralded as having skills that could help President Obama, namely ties to the business community, and an ability to work with Republicans as seen during his days as President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Commerce. Those relationships have remained rocky, and Daley vented about some of his frustrations in an interview at the end of October with Politico's Roger Simon. "It's been a brutal three years," Daley said. "It's been a very, very difficult three years, an incredible three years. And we are doing all this under the overhang of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. F-k! It wasn't like all this was happening in good times."

Daley said that "on the domestic side, both Democrats and Republicans have really made it very difficult for the president to be anything like a chief executive. This has led to a kind of frustration."

Administration officials: William Daley resigning as White House chief of staff

WASHINGTON (iBBC News) — Administration officials: William Daley resigning as White House chief of staff

INTERVIEW-Golf-I'll play until mid-50s, says Laura Davies

LONDON, Jan 9 (iBBC News) - Laura Davies turns 50 next

year but the former world number one has no plans to hang up her

spikes and believes she is capable of mixing it with golf's

elite for several more seasons.

"I can really see myself going on into my mid-50s especially

on the Ladies European Tour," the 48-year-old Briton told

iBBC News in an interview on Monday. "I think I've got another

four or five good years left in America as well.

"I just love competing, love mixing with the youngsters and

spending time with them. My whole life has been competitive

sport and I don't want to turn my back on it yet.

"I still think I am good enough. I had five wins in 2010 so

clearly I'm good enough."

Davies, widely regarded as England's finest female golfer,

has accumulated 77 victories around the world including 20 on

the LPGA Tour.

She has picked up at least one trophy every season as a pro,

except for 2005, and the enthusiasm she has for the game is as

infectious as ever.

"When you wake up in the morning and you're no longer

genuinely excited and nervous about the day ahead on the course,

on the range or the practice green, that's the day you want to

hang up your spikes," Davies said.

"It happens to everyone some day but so far it hasn't

happened to me. Being as stubborn and as competitive as I am, I

can't see it happening for a good four or five years or maybe

more," the four-times major winner added.

"I wake up every day nervous and looking forward to it all."

WATSON INSPIRATION

Davies needs one more major victory, or two regular LPGA

Tour triumphs, to enter the World Golf Hall of Fame and is using

American great Tom Watson's exploits at the 2009 British Open as

inspiration.

"He was 59 when he nearly won the Open," she explained. "I'm

not saying I'm any Tom Watson but I've won a lot of tournaments

over the years.

"Golf is a unique sport, you can play when you're 10 and

when you're 80. We are very lucky as pros that we can play so

long."

Davies is the only player to have featured in the Solheim

Cup -- the women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup -- in each of the

12 editions of the biennial team event.

The Englishwoman was a member of Europe's triumphant side

last season but it proved a rare high point in a generally

disappointing personal campaign.

"I won a small tournament in Perth at the start of the year

and I played well generally but my short game wasn't up to

scratch," said Davies, who has a nine-hole course at her home on

the outskirts of London.

"I didn't putt very well overall although I putted really

well at the Solheim Cup. I don't normally practise much but I've

been going to the local driving range recently and doing a bit

of putting at the house.

"I just hope I can make enough putts this year to be

competitive."

World number one Yani Tseng certainly made her share of

putts in 2011, winning the LPGA Championship and British Open to

take her haul of major victories to five, and Davies said the

22-year-old Taiwanese was on the road to greatness.

"I put Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam at the very top of

our tree of modern-day players, with Karrie Webb, Beth Daniel

and possibly myself on the next level," said Davies.

"Yani is in between those two levels at the moment. She's

surpassing the great players and coming up to the elite two.

"I only see more success for her."

Neb. AG defends purchase of lethal injection drug

LINCOLN, Neb. (iBBC News) — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is disputing a death-row inmate's claim that state officials were conned into buying stolen doses of an execution drug.

Bruning released emails and financial statements Monday that show the Indian drug broker, Harris Pharma LLP, bought sodium thiopental from Swiss manufacturer Naari and then sold doses to Nebraska.

The state plans to use the drugs for Michael Ryan's execution for a 1985 slaying.

But Ryan's attorney claims the doses Nebraska recently bought were supposed to be used only for "test and evaluation" as an anesthetic in Zambia and not sold.

Bruning said Monday the documents contradict those claims.

While the state's Department of Correctional Services bought the sodium thiopental, Ryan's attorney says Bruning's office advised the department on how to acquire the drug.

Space agency lets struggling members pay slowly

PARIS (iBBC News) — The European Space Agency says it is allowing some member-states that are struggling with heavy debts and big deficits to pay their contributions more slowly.

Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain would not name the countries that asked for "payment plans" but he said they were all small and their contributions account for tens of millions of euros. The agency's total budget for 2012 is €4.02 billion ($5.12 billion).

Dordain said Monday that the slow payments are not posing a problem for the agency.

Three member-states — Greece, Ireland and Portugal — are struggling to get their finances in order after the debt crisis forced them to seek rescue loans. But countries across Europe are slashing spending in order to reassure investors that they'll pay back their debts.

Concerns over Europe keep traders buying Treasurys

Treasury prices are edging slightly higher as concerns over Europe's debts continue to overshadow signs of strength in the U.S. economy.

In Monday afternoon trading, the price of the 10-year Treasury note is up 28.1 cents for every $100 invested. Its yield fell to 1.93 percent from 1.97 percent late Friday.

Worries that Europe's debt crisis will turn worse has kept demand high for ultra-safe Treasurys.

Italy's long-term borrowing costs remained high even as the leaders of France and Germany met Monday to discuss the region's debt crisis.

In other trading, the 30-year Treasury bond rose 71.8 cents for every $100. Its yield slipped to 2.98 percent from 3.01 percent Friday. The yield on the two-year note dropped to 0.25 percent from 0.26 percent.

Midday Glance: Commercial Banks companies

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — Shares of some top commercial banks companies are up at 1 p.m.:

First Horizon rose $.07 or .8 percent, to $8.59.

Zions Bancorp rose $.21 or 1.2 percent, to $17.85.

NC to recommend money for sterilization victims

RALEIGH, N.C. (iBBC News) — A North Carolina panel is tasked with answering a question that has not been answered before, and seems to not have one: How do you repay people for taking away their ability to have children?

The state's Eugenics Compensation Task Force is the first in the nation to tackle that question and is set on Tuesday to recommend how much to pay victims of forced sterilization, along with whether the victims' descendants are eligible for the money.

"If we all agree that there is no amount that restore somebody's loss of ability to procreate, then it's understood that the ultimate figure is an attempt to put out an active apology instead of a verbal apology," said task force member Demetrius Worley Berry, a Greensboro attorney. "This is not an attempt to compensate, repair or restore what happened years ago."

State officials sterilized more than 7,600 people in North Carolina from 1929 to 1974 under eugenics programs, which at the time were aimed at creating a better society by weeding out people such as criminals and mentally disabled people considered undesirable.

The panel has discussed amounts between $20,000 and $50,000 a person. At the panel's meeting last month, Berry suggested paying $20,000 to living victims, though chairwoman Laura Gerald said she wanted to consider a higher amount.

Victims reacted angrily, saying they deserved more money, and descendants argued the estates of victims who have since died also should be paid. Some have suggested as much as $1 million per victim.

"I think that what they're doing is unfair, and I think that they're looking at North Carolina in a cheap way," said Delores Marks, 60, of Durham. "And I think they're just trying to have something to present so that they'll go ahead and approve it and get it out of the way."

Her mother, Margaret Helen Cheek, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and sterilized in 1965 after having three children. Clay believes her mother, who died of a stroke in February 1978, suffered only from post-partum depression.

The Legislature would have to approve any compensation to victims, of which 1,500 to 2,000 the task force has said are believed to be alive. Officials have found 48 of them so far.

Even payments of $20,000 apiece for only 1,500 surviving victims would total $30 million, an amount that could be tough to come up with in a state that has had to trim millions from its budget in recent years. If victims and their descendants were to get $1 million per victim, as some have suggested, the payments could total billions of dollars.

Many states ended their eugenics programs because of associations with Nazi Germany's program aimed at racial purity, but North Carolina in fact ramped up sterilizations after World War II. The state's sterilizations peaked in the 1950s, with about 70 percent of all sterilizations performed after the war, according to state records. The program didn't officially end until 1977. It is one of about a half-dozen states to apologize for eugenics programs.

Most victims were poor, black women deemed unfit to be parents. People as young as 10 were sterilized for reasons as minor as not getting along with schoolmates or being promiscuous. Although officials obtained consent from patients or their guardians, many did not comprehend what they were signing.

There are more than 60,000 victims of forced sterilization in the U.S., and though several states have apologized for such programs, North Carolina would be the first to compensate victims.

The state could supplement any compensation with a lifetime break from paying state income taxes, said Daren Bakst, director of legal and regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank.

He supports the $20,000 figure, noting that it's the same compensation paid to living victims of Japanese internment camps. He also said compensation should be paid only to living victims, not descendants.

"Where do you draw the line?" he said. "Just as a logistical matter for the state, it would be impossible to figure out which descendants should be compensated and which shouldn't."

Still, Bakst said compensation amounts to more than a mere apology.

"An apology is words," he said. "Giving money and benefits is going beyond the apology and taking real action and showing North Carolina can learn the lesson of its unfortunate history when it comes to this issue."

Victims will propose their own recommendations Tuesday, said Marks, who suggested $1 million and said victims shouldn't accept less than $250,000.

Berry, one of the board members, acknowledged "most of the victims feel that $20,000 or $50,000 is a slap in the face." But he said he is basing that amount on what would realistically be approved by the Legislature.

Elaine Riddick, who was 14 when the state eugenics board ordered her sterilization, has railed against the compensation amounts proposed so far and called the task force "a new face of the eugenics board." Riddick had given birth after being raped.

She sued the state in the 1970s, seeking $1 million, and said that figure should increase with time.

"They took away my right to be a complete woman," she said. "What do you think it is worth?"

Czech government split on religious restitution

PRAGUE (iBBC News) — The Czech Republic's coalition government may crumble over a junior party's rejection of a plan to compensate religious organizations for property seized by the former Communist regime.

Two conservative coalition members — the Civic Democrats of the prime minister and the TOP 09 party — told the junior Public Affairs party Monday that its "no" would end the coalition that came to power after the 2010 election.

The proposal would give Czech churches 56 percent of their former property now held by the state and compensates them financially. A total of 59 billion koruna ($2.9 billion) would be paid to them over the next 30 years.

The plan is part of the government's agenda and all three parties, as well the country's 17 churches, had approved it.

"The religious restitution is one of the key items in our coalition deal," said lawmaker Petr Gazdik of TOP 09.

But the Public Affairs party says the state cannot now afford the plan due to Europe's economic crisis and have asked for the financial compensation to be postponed.

"We were told: 'Take it as it is or the government would fall,'" Public Affairs deputy chairman Karolina Peake said.

The left-wing opposition also opposes the plan.

Without Public Affairs, the two other parties, who have long supported the property claims of religious groups, would lose their parliamentary majority.

The plan is up for vote Wednesday.

The Communist regime, which seized power in 1948 in what was then Czechoslovakia, confiscated all the property owned by churches and persecuted many priests. Churches were then allowed to function only under the state's control and supervision.

Euro recovers vs dollar after hitting 16-month low

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — The euro is rising against the dollar after hitting a 16-month low in overnight trading.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the euro a slight boost after saying that European leaders will have a new treaty with tougher fiscal rules by the end of this month or by early March. European leaders agreed last month to make new fiscal rules. Merkel made the comments after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday.

The euro edged up to $1.2739 in midday trading from $1.2724 late Friday. The euro fell as low as $1.2676 overnight, its lowest point since September 2010.

In other trading, the British pound rose to $1.5439 from $1.5426. The dollar fell to 76.85 Japanese yen from 77.02 yen.

US bans new mining claims near Grand Canyon

WASHINGTON (iBBC News) — The Obama administration has decided to ban new mining claims affecting a million acres near the Grand Canyon, an area known to be rich in high-grade uranium ore reserves.

In doing so, the administration cast aside pressure from congressional Republicans and mining industry figures. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a 20-year ban on new mining claims on public land surrounding the Grand Canyon at an event Monday afternoon in Washington.

Salazar on two previous occasions had imposed temporary bans on new mining claims. On Monday, he said uranium remains an important part of a comprehensive energy strategy. But Salazar also said the Grand Canyon is a national treasure that must be protected.

Furor in Greece over pedophilia as a disability

ATHENS, Greece (iBBC News) — Greek disabled groups are angry at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognized disability categories to include pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs.

The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action "incomprehensible," and said pedophiles are now awarded a higher government disability pay than some people who have received organ transplants.

But the Labor Ministry on Monday said categories added to the expanded list — that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists — were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.

Woods to start PGA Tour season at Pebble Beach

KAPALUA, Hawaii (iBBC News) — Tiger Woods is returning to the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for the first time in 10 years.

Woods made it official Monday with an announcement on his website that he would start his PGA Tour season Feb. 9-12 at Pebble Beach, where he rallied from a five-shot deficit in the final round to win in 2000 for his sixth consecutive PGA Tour victory. He is best associated with Pebble Beach for his record 15-shot victory in the U.S. Open later that year.

The tournament sponsor is AT&T, which also sponsors the PGA Tour event that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Woods, who won his Chevron World Challenge last month in California, first will play Jan. 26-29 in Abu Dhabi.

He says Pebble Beach might be the prettiest place on earth.

Ill. lawyer wins appeal in NY trial of $2.4B fraud

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — A Chicago lawyer sentenced to seven years in prison in a $2.4 billion fraud at Refco Inc. is entitled to a new trial because of errors the judge made in dealing with the jury, a federal appeals court said Monday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Joseph P. Collins, saying U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson erred when he failed to disclose the contents of a jury note and didn't include lawyers when he spoke with a juror accused of trying to barter his vote.

"This sequence of events deprived Collins of his right to be present at every stage of the trial. Because the deprivation was not harmless, we vacate and remand for a new trial," the appeals court wrote.

The lawyer from Winnetka, Ill., was convicted in July 2009 of conspiracy and other charges. Federal sentencing guidelines had called for 85 years in prison.

Refco was once one of the nation's largest independent commodities brokers.

The company in the mid-1990s sustained hundreds of millions of dollars of losses through losing trades and engaged in an elaborate campaign to cover them up, attracting the attention of federal authorities. Refco filed for bankruptcy in 2005, just weeks after going public and soon after revealing that a $430 million debt owed to the company by a firm controlled by former Refco CEO Phillip Bennett had been concealed.

Before its fall, Refco employed some 2,400 employees in 14 countries. Bennett is serving 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

A message for comment left with lawyers in the case wasn't immediately returned.

Biggest Map Yet of Universe's Invisible Dark Matter Unveiled

USTIN, Texas — The hidden side of the universe is now a bit more illuminated thanks to the largest map yet of dark matter, the strange substance thought to inhabit much of space.

Scientists have created the largest scale rendering of dark matter across the universe, revealing a picture of the invisible stuff thought to represent 98 percent of all matter in the universe.

Dark matter has never been directly detected, but its presence is felt through its gravitational pull on normal matter. Scientists but suspect dark matter is made of some exotic particle that doesn't interact with regular atoms.

"We know very lite about the dark universe," said co-leader of the study, Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh's School of Physics and Astronomy, during a press conference announcing the findings here at the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society."We don't know what the dark mater particle is. It's very widely believed that the final understanding of the dark universe is going to have to invoke some new physics."

The new map reveals the distribution of dark matter over a larger swath of space than ever before. It covers more than 1 billion light-years. One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). [See the new giant dark matter map]

Warping light

To trace invisible dark matter, the researchers searched for signs of its gravitational tug on other matter. They measured an effect called gravitational lensing, which occurs when gravity from a massive body bends space-time, causing light to travel along a curved path through space and appear distorted when it reaches Earth.

The scientists measured warped light from 10 million distant galaxies in four different regions of the sky, caused when those galaxies' light passed by large bundles of dark matter that bent its path.

"It is fascinating to be able to 'see' the dark matter using space-time distortion," another co-author of the study, Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia, said in a statement. "It gives us privileged access to this mysterious mass in the universe which cannot be observed otherwise. Knowing how dark matter is distributed is the very first step towards understanding its nature and how it fits within our current knowledge of physics."

Scientists hope that by plotting out the distribution of dark matter throughout space, they will come closer to understanding what it is.

"By analyzing light from the distant universe, we can learn about what it has travelled through on its journey to reach us," Heymans said. "We hope that by mapping more dark matter than has been studied before, we are a step closer to understanding this material and its relationship with the galaxies in our universe."

A close match

The new maps represent the first direct evidence of dark matter on such large scales.

"What we see here is very similar to the simulation," Van Waerbeke said. "Dark matter is concentrated in lumps and the rest stretches in filaments."

The web of dark matter throughout the universe revealed by the map agreed well with predictions made by computer simulations based on scientists' best theory of dark matter.

"So far we haven't seen any off things, or any deviation from what we expect," Van Waerbeke told SPACE.com.

To create the map, the astronomers used data collected by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii during a five-year project called the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey.

"These lensing maps are very important tests of our cosmological paradigm," said astronomer Rachel Mandelbaum of Carnegie Mellon University and Princeton University, who was not involved in the new study. "These results could be used as a test of dark matter, dark energy and even the theory of gravity."

Smaller scales

In a separate study also presented today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Sukanya Chakrabarti of Florida Atlantic University developed a new method of mapping the dark matter in individual galaxies.

Chakrabarti studied ripples on the outskirts of spiral galaxies to trace the shape of the dark matter within and surrounding the galaxies.

This research, targeting the invisible stuff on a much smaller scale than the first study, also helps astronomers hone in on an understanding of dark matter.

"These results with spiral galaxies allow the study of matter in a regime of individual galaxies, which has not been possible with weak lensing," Mandelbaum said. "Both of these results represent two important ways of studying the dark mater, but they're in two very different regimes."

Iraq's PM Maliki: democrat or autocrat?

BAGHDAD (iBBC News) - To detractors, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki threw down the gauntlet with stunning speed when his Shi'ite Muslim-led government demanded the arrest of a Sunni Muslim vice president seemingly moments after the departure of U.S. troops.

Already seen as having autocratic tendencies in a country where most people have known little but dictatorship, Maliki has long expressed doubt about the efficacy of his brawling partnership government of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

But the move to arrest Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and a demand that parliament remove Maliki's Sunni deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq, ignited a political storm that threatens Iraq's shaky U.S.-backed coalition and, for some, has called into question Maliki's commitment to any sort of democracy.

"There is no doubt (the arrest warrant) was choreographed to put down the marker, to eradicate any doubt over who was in charge in the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal," said Ali al-Saffar, an analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The political turmoil and its sectarian undertone so soon after the exit of the last U.S. troops in mid-December is bound to unsettle Iraq's Sunni neighbours, many of whom already disliked Maliki for his close ties to Shi'ite Iran.

STRONGMAN?

Less than nine years past the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal reign, the word dictator springs easily to the lips of Iraqis, many of whom question Western-style democracy and readily admit that they believe their country needs a strongman leader.

Maliki emerged in 2006 as a shrewd political operator able to meld rival factions and built his reputation as the Shi'ite leader who pulled Iraq back from the brink of civil war. Initially seen as a Shi'ite Islamist, he won respect from Sunnis by sending the army to crush Shi'ite militias in the south.

Although hardly a clear choice -- his Shi'ite-led coalition failed to win the most seats in the 2010 election, Maliki muscled his way to a second term as prime minister in a power-sharing deal when no better option emerged.

While Maliki has suggested that power-sharing won't work, he has spoken just as frequently about following the constitution.

"We have many problems that we cannot resolve through consensus due to differences in understanding and planning," Maliki said last month. "But the supreme, holy, respected document is our constitution, on which we took an oath."

ISLAMIST ROOTS

Maliki was a student when he became involved with the Dawa party, founded in the late 1950s to promote the role of Islam in public life in response to rising secular Arab nationalism.

Dawa was driven underground after Saddam took power in 1979. Maliki was condemned to death as he agitated against Saddam from exile, mainly in Iran and Syria.

Highly strung and scowling, usually with a five o'clock shadow, Maliki may be the flip-side of the smooth, ingratiating politico in the Western mould. He speaks sharply, appears quick to anger and reputedly has a long memory for grievances.

While the view of many is that he is trying to consolidate power, Maliki has repeatedly argued that the charges that Hashemi ran death squads were brought not by him but by the legal system, and must be left to the legal system to resolve.

His advocates say this shows he is adhering to democratic norms, not abusing them.

"Even if Maliki wants to be a dictator," said Sami al-Askari, a senior Shi'ite lawmaker, "he cannot because the constitution, which distributes authority, and even the cabinet decisions, are done by voting, and he has just one vote."

REMINDERS OF SADDAM?

At a recent ceremony to mark the withdrawal of U.S. troops, people shouted, "Long live Iraq, long live Maliki, the only leader of Iraq." A day later at another ceremony, the hall echoed with a song that praised Maliki as the "shining sun who will banish the darkness of the night."

To some, such public homage evokes memories of Saddam.

More tangible and more worrying to others are the security ministries, which remain under Maliki's firm grip more than a year after he named his cabinet. He appears unlikely to let go of them any time soon.

"The authoritarian aspects of his (Maliki's) rule involve centralizing control of the security forces, seeking to influence the judiciary and trying to build tribal power bases in Sunni areas," said Reidar Visser, editor of Iraq-focused website www.historiae.org.

In a recent editorial, Iyad Allawi, one of the premier's main political rivals, said the intelligence and security agencies had become a "virtual extension" of the Dawa party.

"The American withdrawal may leave us with the Iraq of our nightmares: a country in which a partisan military protects a sectarian, self-serving regime rather than the people or the constitution...," the editorial said.

WARY NEIGHBOURS

Like many of Iraq's Shi'ite leaders, Maliki is closely tied to neighboring Iran and therefore at odds with regional power Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies who worry about rising Shi'ite strength in the Middle East.

"In many ways, Maliki's approach to regional relations is similar to the attitude he takes to domestic ones; they are deeply rooted in distrust and the feeling that neighboring countries are involved in a nefarious conspiracy to keep his government from achieving success in Iraq," Saffar said.

That kind of paranoia may push him to overstep his bounds in domestic politics, some analysts say.

Whether Maliki triggered the political crisis intentionally or simply miscalculated, Kurdish analyst Hiwa Othman said his first concern as U.S. troops left Iraq in mid-December should have been security, not consolidation of power.

"It was a clear signal on Maliki's side that 'you're either with me or against me. The Americans are out and there is a new sheriff in town' ... Part of it was due to his arrogance and on the other hand, his inability to calculate the consequences of his actions," Othman said.

But Maliki has shown himself adept at surviving these kind of crises before through shrewd politicking -- a cautionary note to anyone who believes he has gone too far this time.

"I believe that he is trying very hard to bridge the gaps that currently exist with his partners," U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said.

Peak of hype in electric cars now over: Daimler CEO

DETROIT (iBBC News) - Media exuberance on future demand for electric cars has now returned to more realistic expectations, Daimler's Chief Executive said at the Detroit Auto Show.

"We have passed the peak of the hype on electric cars," Dieter Zetsche told reporters on Monday.

When asked if GM's battery problems with the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle would hurt consumer perception of electric cars, he said: "It's not unusual that new technology show some hiccups."

Zetsche declined to give specific guidance for 2012 earnings outlook for the group. "We intend to maintain our profitability," he replied.

Summary Box: Nigerians strike over gas costs

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (iBBC News) — Authorities say a 25-year-old described as an Islamic extremist was arrested in a plot to attack sites around Tampa, Fla., after taking possession of disabled guns and bombs

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of Sami Osmakac on Monday.

Authorities say Osmakac is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the former Yugoslavia. He has been charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. His first appearance in federal court is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Federal officials say a confidential source told them that Osmakac wanted Al Qaeda flags. The federal complaint alleges Osmakac gave the agent a $500 down payment for an AK-47, multiple homemade explosive grenades and the explosive belt so he could attack various locations in Tampa.

25-year-old man arrested by feds in Fla. bomb plot

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (iBBC News) — Authorities say a 25-year-old described as an Islamic extremist was arrested in a plot to attack sites around Tampa, Fla., after taking possession of disabled guns and bombs

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the arrest of Sami Osmakac on Monday.

Authorities say Osmakac is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the former Yugoslavia. He has been charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. His first appearance in federal court is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Federal officials say a confidential source told them that Osmakac wanted Al Qaeda flags. The federal complaint alleges Osmakac gave the agent a $500 down payment for an AK-47, multiple homemade explosive grenades and the explosive belt so he could attack various locations in Tampa.

Chiefs pick Crennel as head coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (iBBC News) — The Kansas City Chiefs have hired Romeo Crennel as their new head coach.

The team announced the decision Monday. Crennel joined the Chiefs as the defensive coordinator in 2010 after four years as the head coach in Cleveland.

He also served as head coach for the Chiefs the final three games of this season after Todd Haley was fired.

Unexplained Infant Deaths to be Recorded in New Database

In recent years, the number of reported cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has declined, with a 50 percent drop reported since 1990.

While that's good news on the surface, researchers are now hoping to determine whether this is due to true public health improvements, or is simply a difference in how deaths are recorded, by creating a new database.

Details about how the database, called the Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry, will help researchers answer the questions that surround SIDS are described today in an article by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Right now, when we want to do surveillance and actually monitor trends in SIDS and other infant deaths… we're limited by the data collected [in U.S. mortality records]," said article co-author Carrie Shapiro-Mendoza, a senior scientist at the CDC.

Those records, she explained, can lack information about the circumstances surrounding infant deaths, such as the sleep environment, whether the baby was being put to sleep on his or her back or stomach, whether the baby was in an adult bed and if there was soft bedding where the baby was sleeping.

Shapiro-Mendoza said the new database will build on existing mortality records, adding more about the events surrounding a baby's death, "so it can help inform prevention efforts."

The mysteries of SIDS

Researchers have come to use the term sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) to describe any case where there is not an immediate explanation for the death of an otherwise healthy-seeming baby.

After an investigation, a cause of death may be determined. The CDC notes that, "Poisoning, metabolic disorders, hyper- or hypothermia, neglect and homicide, and suffocation are all explainable causes of SUID."

But the death may also be classified as being from SIDS, or "unknown cause."

By compiling data on the medical histories of a baby and mother, information such as education and criminal record of the caregiver and information about the baby's sleep position and crib, the database could be used to help researchers figure out what happened in such 'unknown cause' cases.

"It's really difficult to distinguish between SIDS and unexplained infant death from suffocation," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "I think that determining a cause of death for an unexplained infant death may sometimes be based on the availability of comprehensive information from the scene investigation and autopsy, as well as the professional training and experience of the medical examiner or coroner."

Are public health messages working?

Part of the purpose of the new SUID database is to make more information available to researchers to assess the effectiveness of public health programs. For example, new guidelines were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in November, and they included guidance such as placing infants on their backs for sleep, using a firm sleep surface (i.e. "a crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet"), having parents sleep in a room with the baby but not in the same bed, and keeping "soft objects and loose bedding out of the crib."

Shapiro-Mendoza was an adviser for those guidelines, which the CDC endorses.

With the new database, the hope is that researchers will be able to figure out which guidelines are not being followed, or if other factors can be identified that should be added to the guidelines, and target any new public health messages accordingly.

A pilot program of the registry has begun in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey and New Mexico.

"We hope that [the database] will be available to the states and other public health researchers if they wanted to use the data to inform their studies," Shapiro-Mendoza said. "We hope to use the data as well to improve the investigation of these deaths."

Unconsciously, Everyone Wants to Date a Hottie

What you say you want in a mate doesn't always match up with what you actually look for, new research suggests, especially when it comes to how sexy your potential partner is.

No matter how much people say they are looking for someone smart, who they can trust and laugh with, they have an unconscious desire to attain a sexually attractive partner — which applies both to men and women, at similar levels — the researchers found.

They even developed a quirky word test to figure out how important physical attraction is to a person, on an unconscious level.

"People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner," study researcher Eli Finkel, of Northwestern University, said in a statement. "But study after study shows that those preferences don't predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners. Now we can get under the hood with this quirky methodology to see what people actually prefer in live-interaction settings."

Lab-based dating

In several lab experiments, undergraduate students completed the new computer-based word-association task assessing how much they associate physical attractiveness with an ideal partner. As words flashed on the screen, the participants had to pick those they associated with positive feelings. Depending on how strongly the participant felt about physical attractiveness, words associated with sexiness that popped up during an "I like" trial were selected quicker.

The researchers then compared these results with participants' responses to direct questions about important characteristics in a partner. The two responses differed: No matter if students thought they really needed a hot partner or not, they ended up responding the same to the word test.

The unconscious word test matched with what the students were actually interested in when they met a real-life person in speed-dating scenarios.

"If a person tells me, for example, that she doesn't care about how attractive a guy is, our research suggests that her claim isn't worth all that much," study researcher Paul Eastwick, of Texas A&M University, said in a statement. "Instead, it would actually be more useful to measure her reaction times on this new task," he said, referring to the word-association.

Real-life implications

This mismatch between what a person says they want in a mate and what they're really looking for could be one reason online dating sites sometimes fall flat (even with perfectly matched profiles.

"If you are browsing a bunch of profiles you are assuming you can glean information from those profiles that is actually relevant to how attracted you will be to that person when you meet face to face," Finkel told LiveScience. "People really don't have that level of accurate insight."

It could be possible to use this new tool to test how important physical attraction is to people instead of relying on their questionnaire answers and adjusting their matches accordingly. Or even just providing video-chat capabilities might increase the success rate of first dates.

"We are optimistic that something along those lines would do a better job of approximating face-to-face interaction and would be a more effective means of online dating," Eastwick told LiveScience. "But we haven't done any research on that."

The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
 
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