BANGKOK ? Asian stock markets fell Monday, with slower-than-expected growth in the U.S. and uncertainty about a tentative deal to resolve Greece’s debt crisis weighing on investor sentiment.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.6 percent to 8,785.22. South Korea’s Kospi was 1.2 percent lower at 1,940.82 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 0.5 percent to 20,401.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4 percent at 4,272.40.

Benchmarks in Singapore and the Philippines also fell. Shares in mainland China were mixed after being closed for a week for Chinese New Year holidays. Taiwan and New Zealand rose.

European leaders were to meet later Monday in Brussels to discuss austerity and belt-tightening measures as well as a tentative deal reached Saturday between Greece and its private investors that could avert a disastrous Greek default on its debt.

If the deal holds and works, it will help prevent a potential shock to the world banking system. But it doesn’t resolve the weakening economic conditions in Greece and other European nations as they rein in spending to get their debts under control.

Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne said that “the Greece debt issues will remain a source of uncertainty and might dampen the risk mood ahead of the EU summit today.”

Under the agreement, investors holding 206 billion euros ($272 billion) in Greek bonds would exchange them for bonds with half the face value. The replacement bonds would have a longer maturity and pay a lower interest rate.

The deal would reduce Greece’s annual interest expense from about 10 billion euros to about 4 billion euros. When the bonds mature, Greece would have to pay its bondholders only 103 billion euro.

It is unclear how investors who buy and sell the bonds of other debt-burdened countries, such as Italy, Spain and Portugal, will react. If they drive up borrowing costs for those countries, the debt crisis could get worse.

Private investors hold two-thirds of Greece’s debt, which is equal to an unsustainable 160 percent of its annual economic output. By restructuring the debt, Greece hopes to make it a more manageable 120 percent by decade’s end.

On Wall Street, stocks mostly fell Friday after the government said the U.S. economy grew more slowly than expected in the last three months of 2011.

Economic growth for October through December came in at an annual rate of 2.8 percent. That was the fastest of 2011 but lower than the 3 percent that economists were looking for.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6 percent to 12,660.46. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.2 percent to 1,316.33. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent to 2,816.55.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 36 cents to $99.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 14 cents to end at $99.56 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3180 from $1.3208 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose slightly to 76.74 yen from 76.72 yen.

(This version CORRECTS Updates paragraph 2, corrects Hang Seng figure.)


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[OOC] Atrelvium

January 31, 2012

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January 31, 2012

I’m new here, but I’m not that new to roleplaying though. I’ve been roleplaying twice before. But nothing fell into my taste, it was either too interactive or boring.

I’m 15, 16 in about a month, from Sweden, girl. I’m currently studying Japanese because I love the language and the country. I’m able to speak Swedish, English, Arabic and some I like to draw, write, make movies and listen to music. Shy around new ppl, but turn into a really weird creature when I know somebody better. That was probably everything that you don’t really need to know. Eh.


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NEVADA, Iowa ? A Huxley woman accused of killing her newborn twin daughters and hiding their bodies in the trunk of her car has pleaded not guilty.

Jackie Burkle is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. She is being held on $1 million bond.

Her attorney entered a written plea of not guilty on her behalf Monday morning in Story County District Court in Nevada (nuh-VAY-duh).

Police found the infants’ bodies in the trunk of Burkle’s car on Jan. 7 after receiving a call to check on her.

Court records show Burkle appeared pregnant at work at a Huxley convenience store Jan. 5. She no longer looked pregnant two days later, prompting a co-worker to call police.

Police have not released a cause of death or why Burkle gave birth at home.


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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia ? Oil fell to nearly $99 a barrel Monday in Asia amid fresh concerns that the eurozone may refuse to grant Greece a fresh bailout.

Benchmark crude for March delivery was down 42 cents at $99.14 a barrel at midday Kuala Lumpur time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 14 cents to finish at $99.56 on Friday.

Victor Shum, an energy analyst with Purvin & Gertz in Singapore, said crude prices were volatile after Germany’s finance minister warned that the eurozone might not give Greece a fresh bailout unless it can overhaul its state and economy. Analysts fear this could reignite the region’s debt crisis.

European leaders were to meet later Monday in Brussels to discuss austerity measures and a tentative deal reached Saturday between Greece and its private investors to avert a disastrous Greek default on its debt.

Shum said supply concerns also weighed on the market although Iran has postponed plans to immediately cut the flow of crude oil to Europe in retaliation for EU sanctions over its nuclear program.

Iran also threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil passage, and the head of its national oil company warned Sunday that EU sanctions could push oil prices up to between $120 and $150 a barrel. The market is also awaiting report from an International Atomic Energy Agency team that is currently touring Tehran, Shum said.

“Trade has been flat. The geopolitical tension in Iran and concerns over Greece’s debt default are driving oil in different directions. This has helped oil to hold steady,” Shum added.

In other energy trading, heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.07 per gallon but gasoline futures were steady at $2.92 per gallon. Natural gas added 7 cents to $2.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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CULIACAN, Mexico ? A Mexican man charged with severely beating a Canadian woman at a resort hotel has told journalists that he tried to hold her in an elevator and punched her several times when she yelled for help.

Jose Ramon Acosta said during a Saturday news conference held by police that he had sneaked into the hotel in Mazatlan early the morning of Jan. 20 and encountered Sheila Nabb of Calgary, Alberta, by chance.

State prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez says Acosta had been drinking and using drugs. Prosecutor have said the suspect was seen on a hotel security camera as he left the elevator.

The victim has been flown to Canada where she remains hospitalized.


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In this Jan. 28, 2012 photo, a pedestrian passes by a manhole cover outside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Indianapolis Power & Light has spent nearly $200,000 to replace 150 manhole covers in the Super Bowl Village and in other areas expected to draw high pre-game traffic after a series of underground explosions last year turned the covers into dangerous projectiles that damaged cars. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

In this Jan. 28, 2012 photo, a pedestrian passes by a manhole cover outside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Indianapolis Power & Light has spent nearly $200,000 to replace 150 manhole covers in the Super Bowl Village and in other areas expected to draw high pre-game traffic after a series of underground explosions last year turned the covers into dangerous projectiles that damaged cars. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Officer David Bryant, right, of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police, watches the crowd at the Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. From pickpockets and prostitutes to dirty bombs and exploding manhole covers, authorities are bracing for whatever threat Super Bowl XLVI might bring. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

In this Jan. 28, 2012 photo, a security guard works at a concert in Super Bowl Village in Indianapolis. From pickpockets and prostitutes to dirty bombs and exploding manhole covers, authorities are bracing for whatever threat Super Bowl XLVI might bring. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(AP) ? From pickpockets and prostitutes to dirty bombs and exploding manhole covers, authorities are bracing for whatever threat the first Super Bowl in downtown Indianapolis might bring.

Some ? nuclear terrorism, for instance ? are likely to remain just hypothetical. But others, like thieves and wayward manhole covers, are all too real.

Though Indianapolis has ample experience hosting large sporting events ? the Indianapolis 500 attracts more than 200,000 fans each year, and the NCAA’s men’s Final Four basketball tournament has been held here six times since 1980? the city’s first Super Bowl poses some unique challenges.

Unlike the Final Four, which is compressed into a weekend, the Super Bowl offers crowd, travel and other logistical challenges over 10 days leading up to the Feb. 5 game. And unlike the 500, where events are largely concentrated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway about seven miles from Lucas Oil Stadium, the NFL’s showcase event will consume 44 blocks ? about a mile square ? in the heart of the city, closing off streets and forcing an anticipated 150,000 or more NFL fans to jockey with downtown workers for space much of the week.

“This is clearly bigger in terms of the amount of people who will be downtown over an extended period of time,” city Public Safety Director Frank Straub said.

Under a security risk rating system used by the federal government, the Super Bowl ranks just below national security events involving the president and the Secret Service, said Indianapolis Chief of Homeland Security Gary Coons. The ratings are based on factors including international attention, media coverage, the number of people the event attracts and visits by celebrities and foreign dignitaries, he said. The Indianapolis 500 ranks two levels below the Super Bowl.

The city has invested millions of dollars and worked with local, state and federal agencies to try to keep all those people safe. Up to 1,000 city police officers will be in the stadium and on the street, carrying smartphones and other electronic hand-held devices that will enable them to feed photos and video to a new state-of-the-art operations center on the city’s east side or to cruisers driven by officers providing backup, Straub said. Hundreds of officers from other agencies, including the state police and the FBI, will be scanning the crowd for signs of pickpocketing, prostitution or other trouble.

One concern has been a series of explosions in Indianapolis Power & Light’s underground network of utility cables. A dozen underground explosions have occurred since 2005, sending manhole covers flying.

Eight explosions have occurred since 2010. The latest, on Nov. 19, turned a manhole cover into a projectile that heavily damaged a parked car and raised concerns about the safety of Super Bowl visitors walking on streets and soaring above the Super Bowl village on four zip lines installed for the festivities.

Since December, IPL has spent about $180,000 to install 150 new locking manhole covers, primarily in the Super Bowl village and other areas expected to see high pre-game traffic.

IPL officials say the new Swiveloc manhole covers can be locked for security reasons during the Super Bowl. In case of an explosion, the covers lift a couple of inches off the ground ? enough to vent gas out without feeding in oxygen to make an explosion bigger ? before falling back into place.

An Atlanta consultant hired by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last summer to audit IPL’s underground network of cables for a cause of the explosions says the new covers are merely a Band-Aid.

“We’ve argued it’s better to prevent,” said Dan O’Neill of O’Neill Management Consulting, which filed its report in December.

O’Neill’s team couldn’t pinpoint an exact cause for the explosions but said a flawed inspection process contributed, noting that IPL workers missed warning signs such as road salt corroding an old cable or leaks in nearby steam pipes. In a report filed Jan. 19 with Indiana utility regulators, the power company said it had overhauled its inspection process.

IPL will dispatch extra crews to the area around the stadium in case of power-related problems, such as a recent breaker fire that left 10,000 customers in homes south of downtown without power. Spokeswoman Crystal Livers-Powers said the company doesn’t anticipate any power issues.

Straub, the public safety director, said he’s confident the city is prepared and notes that Indianapolis hosts major events “pretty regularly.”

Special teams from the Department of Energy will sweep Lucas Oil Stadium and the surrounding area for nuclear terror threats, and a new $18 million high-tech communications center that opened in time for the lead-up to the game will tie it all together.

“We’re using more technology, and state of the art technology, than has been used in any Super Bowl before this one,” Straub said.



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WASHINGTON ? President Barack Obama, fresh from a five-state tour following his State of the Union address, is calling for government reforms to ease gridlock and bar members of Congress from profiting from their position.

In his radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said many people he encountered during his trip were optimistic but remained unsure “that the right thing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or the year after that.”

“And frankly, when you look at some of the things that go on in this town, who could blame them for being a little cynical?” Obama said.

The president reiterated his calls for government reform made in Tuesday’s address, saying he wants the Senate to pass a rule that requires a yes-or-no vote for judicial and public service nominations after 90 days. Many of the nominees, he said, carry bipartisan support but get held up in Congress for political reasons.

Without mentioning him by name, the president noted that Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican, said he would hold up nominations because he opposed the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead a new consumer protection agency, a move that many Republicans have called unconstitutional. Obama said the American people deserve “better than gridlock and games.”

“One senator gumming up the works for the whole country is certainly not what our founding fathers envisioned,” the president said.

Obama said he also wants Congress to pass legislation to ban insider trading by lawmakers and prohibit lawmakers from owning securities in companies that have business before their committees.

In addition, the president is seeking to prohibit people who “bundle” campaign contributions from other donors for members of Congress from lobbying Congress. Obama urged the public to contact their member of Congress and tell them “that it’s time to end the gridlock and start tackling the issues that really matter.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., delivering the GOP address, said Obama’s address to Congress lacked much discussion of the president’s achievements “because there isn’t much.”

“This president didn’t talk about his record for one simple reason,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t want you to know about it. But you do know about it, because your feel the failure of his leadership every single day of the week.”

Rubio accused the president of driving up the national debt, failing to reduce high unemployment across the country and offering divisive economic policies.

The Florida senator said there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor but the best way to solve the problem is by embracing the American free enterprise system. Rubio said he hopes 2012 “will be the beginning of our work towards a new and prosperous American century.”



Obama address:

GOP address:


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TEHRAN, Iran ? The head of Iran’s state oil company said Sunday that the price of crude will reach $120 to $150 per barrel, as officials in Tehran prepare to discuss a ban on crude sales to European Union countries in retaliation for an EU embargo.

Head of the National Iranian Oil Company Ahmad Qalehbani also said that Tehran would expand its capacity to refine crude domestically, instead of selling it on international markets.

The EU announced an embargo on Iranian oil last week to pressure Tehran on its controversial nuclear program.

The embargo is set to go into effect in the summer, but Iran says that it may cut the flow of crude to Europe early.

Iran says the EU accounts for only 18 percent of its output and that it can find new customers. It says the embargo will hurt the West more than Iran, in part by causing a spike in prices.

“It seems we will witness prices from $120 to $150 in the future,” Qalehbani was quoted as saying by IRNA. He did not give a time frame for the prediction, nor any other details.

The price of benchmark U.S. crude on Friday was around $99.56 per barrel.

Qalehbani also said that Iran could find other customers for its crude in the short term, while in the longer term expanding its refining capacity to turn the crude into other petroleum products.

“The sale of some 18 percent of Iranian oil, to a market other than the EU, is quite possible. But our long term idea is to increase refining capacities to produce valuable products,” he said.

Qalehbani’s statement came as Iranian oil officials prepare to debate a ban on crude sales to European Union countries.

Many Iranian lawmakers and officials have called for an immediate ban on oil exports to the European bloc before the EU’s ban fully goes into effect in July. They say this will hurt Europe before it can find alternative suppliers.

It also coincided with a visit by a U.N. nuclear team expected to focus on Iran’s alleged attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

The United States and its allies argue that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons technology, while Tehran says the program is for purely peaceful purposes.

With some 3.5 million barrels of crude production, Iran is the second largest OPEC producer.

Some 80 percent of the country’s foreign revenue comes from exporting around 2.2 million barrels of oil per day.


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Resisting desires makes ensuing ones more tempting

Web edition : Monday, January 30th, 2012

SAN DIEGO ? Willpower comes with a wicked kickback. Exerting self-control saps a person?s mental energy and makes the next desire that inevitably comes along feel more compelling and harder to resist, a study of people?s daily struggles with temptation found.

But people best able to resist eating sweets, going out with friends before finishing work or other temptations find ways to steer clear of such enticements altogether, so that they rarely have to resort to self-control, psychologist Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago reported January 28 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

?Willpower fluctuates throughout the day, rather than being a constant personality trait,? said psychologist and study coauthor Roy Baumeister of Florida State University in Tallahassee, who also summarized at the meeting his recent lab experiments on willpower?s mental effects. ?Prior resistance makes new desires seem stronger than usual.?

Hofmann and his colleagues contacted 205 adults in a German city at various times of day for a week. Using handheld devices provided by the researchers, volunteers furnished 10,558 reports about desires they encountered or thought about.

Most self-reported desires didn?t create problems for participants. When desires conflicted with other goals and called for resistance, volunteers? willpower failed 17 percent of the time, on average.

Desires for food, sleep and sex were rated as most intense. On a daily basis, though, participants most often gave in to urges related to media, such as checking their e-mail, and to working on job-related tasks. Surprisingly, Hofmann said, volunteers usually resisted desires to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol.

Germans? specific desires may not correspond to those of people in other countries. But the finding that acts of self-control make it harder to resist ensuing desires probably applies to people everywhere, Hofmann proposed.

After having resisted one or more urges, volunteers? average rate of succumbing to new temptations rose from 15 percent early in the day to 37 percent late in the day.

Participants routinely reported no awareness of when their resistance to desires had ebbed. ?There appears to be no signature feeling of when willpower is low,? Baumeister said. For instance, his work has found that fatigue alone doesn?t account for the depletion of resistance.

Scientists have yet to explain precisely how self-control breaks down in the face of urges and desires, remarked psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. In an analysis of data on cases of violence committed by one romantic partner against the other, Finkel found that stressful situations triggered physical assaults only among people who were consistently angry to begin with and who lived with irritable, emotionally volatile partners.

Specific mixes of personal vulnerabilities with provoking situations prompt individuals to give in to urges ranging from doughnut binges to spouse abuse, Finkel proposed.

Found in: Humans and Psychology


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