Monday, February 27, 2012

Charlotte Church 'sickened' by NoW phone hacking

Charlotte Church 'sickened' by NoW phone hacking
Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church says she was "sickened and disgusted" by what she discovered during her legal action against News International over phone hacking.

Ms Church and her parents have agreed damages and costs of £600,000 with News Group Newspapers - publishers of the defunct News of the World.

The High Court heard the singer's phone was hacked when she was 16 years old.

The court agreed that 33 articles in the paper had been due to her family's voicemails being hacked.

The settlement includes £300,000 in legal costs and a public apology.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Ms Church said it was an "important day" for her and her family.

"I brought this legal claim with my parents, as many others have done, because we wanted to find out the truth about what this newspaper group had done in the pursuit of stories about our family.

"What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me.

"Nothing was deemed off limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation."
'Deeply traumatised'

The court heard Ms Church's phone was hacked in 2002 and journalists also placed her under surveillance and gained access to her medical records.

The court heard her mother, Maria, was at "her lowest ebb" and was "coerced" into an interview with the paper's journalists about how she had self-harmed and attempted suicide after reporters gained information from hacked voicemails about her medical history.

The family's solicitor, Mike Brookes, told the court: "She felt she had no choice but to give the interview and was deeply traumatised by the publication of the story in the NoW."

He said: "The NoW targeted Charlotte and her voicemail messages repeatedly, and in doing so unlawfully obtained her private medical information and details of her personal relationships with her family and friends.

"Even her first teenage boyfriend. They then ran stories about Charlotte using this information."

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said the award, the last of the first wave of 60 settlements, was one of the highest. Former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was awarded £200,000, while actor Jude Law received £130,000.

He said it gave an insight into some of the things that had taken place and the deeply personal nature of the intrusion which Ms Church was clearly very, very angry about outside court.

"We got a sense of how important the process of litigation here is, the process of discovery, with Ms Church saying it has only been in the last few days that she really learned the full extent of what had been happening," our correspondent added.
'Not truly sorry'

Ms Church said she had discovered that, despite an apology she believed the paper was "not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught".

She added that "money could never mend the damage that was done," and she would use her portion of the settlement to protect her children from further invasions of privacy.

Michael Silverleaf QC, for NGN, said: "NGN acknowledges that they should never have had to endure what they have suffered and that NGN are liable for the damage that they have caused," he said.

The 26-year-old singer said she was now planning to focus on helping the criminal investigation and Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics.

In November, she told the Leveson Inquiry that her mother had attempted suicide "at least in part" because she had known the newspaper was going to publish details of her father's affair.

She told the hearing paparazzi had taken pictures up her skirt, there were photographers outside her house on most days and her manager had found evidence of a camera hidden in a shrub outside her home.

 News By BBC

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MWC 2012: Nokia reveals 41MP cameraphone

Nokia 808 smartphone
Nokia 808 Pureview
A 41-megapixel Nokia smartphone was among the new technology on show during the opening day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The 808 Pureview offers enhanced low-light performance as well as sophisticated image compression designed to help users share pictures.

Nokia hopes to regain ground lost to Google and Apple in the mobile market.

However, some have criticised Nokia's decision to use its own operating system, Symbian, on the device.

Nokia's other smartphones typically run on Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Symbian, which first appeared on Nokia phones in the 90s, is widely regarded as inferior to the app and social media-driven Windows Phone system.

"The Pureview 808's Symbian Belle operating system might detract from its appeal to a broader market, where it deserves recognition," said Tony Cripps, a principal analyst with Ovum.

"It's a pity that Nokia was unable to combine the photographic prowess of the PureView 808 with the style of the Lumia 900.

"Such a device may well have been the first smartphone to truly deserve the title of 'superphone'."

Nokia claims the 808 sets a "new industry standard" in mobile imaging devices.

"People will inevitably focus on the 41 megapixel sensor," said Jo Harlow, executive vice-president of Nokia smart devices.

"But the real quantum leap is how the pixels are used to deliver breathtaking image quality at any resolution and the freedom it provides to choose the story you want to tell."

The BBC's technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones said he expected some consumers would be surprised over the choice of platform.
Nokia say the 808 will set a "new industry standard"
"Nokia's put this on a Symbian phone, which will seem strange to people," he said.

"It's also pretty chunky, pretty heavy - but it does take amazing pictures."
China push

Also on show were new models in the company's Lumia range - including the 610, a cheaper device aimed at a "younger audience".

The firm also announced it plans to make the Lumia available in China "in the coming months".

Nokia's chief executive Stephen Elop said that introducing the cameraphone and entry-level smartphone were "the actions necessary to improve the fortunes of Nokia".

Once the mobile world's dominant player, Nokia has struggled to compete as sales of Google and Apple devices have soared in recent years.

Last month Nokia announced it was to stop manufacturing mobile phones in Europe, instead relocating to Asia at a cost of 4,000 jobs.

News By BBC

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"The Artist" wins Oscar for best picture

Best actor winner Jean Dujardin of France carries Uggie the dog
(Reuters) - Hollywood showed some love for its history at the Oscars on Sunday, giving its best film award and four others to silent movie "The Artist" in a ceremony that recalled why cinema is special to so many people.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also gave Oscars to Meryl Streep playing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," marking Streep's third Academy Award in 17 nominations, and veteran Christopher Plummer made history by becoming the oldest winner ever at age 82 with his role as an elderly gay man in "Beginners."

But it was the "The Artist," a French movie that has been called a love letter to old Hollywood by its makers, that charmed Oscar voters. Made in the style of old silents, it tells a romantic story of a fading star in the era when silent movies were overtaken by talkies.

"The Artist" collected Oscars for its star Jean Dujardin and director Michel Hazanavicius, as well as for musical score and costume design.

"I am the happiest director in the world right now. Thank you for that," Hazanavicius told the audience of stars including George Clooney, Michelle Williams, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and members of the Academy.

Dujardin was equally excited, exclaiming "I love this country" before thanking the Academy, the film's makers and his wife, and calling silent actor Douglas Fairbanks an inspiration.

Streep's victory surprised Oscar pundits who thought Viola Davis would win the Academy Award with her portrayal of a black maid in a southern white home in civil rights drama "The Help."

But Streep's turn as an elderly Thatcher who is slipping into dementia was too good to be ignored. It was Streep's third Academy Award out of 17 nominations, and even she reckoned that Oscar voters would think she's been there, done that. Backstage she termed it "Streep fatigue" to reporters.

"When they called my name, I could feel America saying, 'Oh why her again?' But whatever," she joked. Yet even the steely veteran could not hold back the emotion of an Oscar victory. When she thanked her husband and talked about her career she came close to breaking into tears, and backstage she said it made her feel like a kid again.


Veteran Plummer, a star of classic film "The Sound of Music," won his first ever Oscar for his portrayal of an elderly gay man who comes out to his family in "Beginners."

"You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all of my life," he said, looking at his golden Oscar, which was celebrating its 84th awards ceremony.

Spencer, a relative newcomer in contrast to Plummer, had to hold back tears as she accepted her trophy for her portrayal of a black, southern maid in civil rights drama "The Help."

"Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said holding her Oscar in her hand. She then went on to talk about her family in Alabama and could not hold back her tears as she joyously accepted her trophy.

Director Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which like "The Artist" pays tribute to early filmmaking, came into the night with a leading 11 nominations - one more than "Artist" - and also picked up five wins. But its Oscars came in technical categories cinematography, art direction, sound editing and mixing and visual effects.

Another highly touted movie, family drama "The Descendants," walked off with only one Oscar, adapted screenplay for its writer and director Alexander Payne and co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Woody Allen won for original screenplay with "Midnight in Paris," but he was not on hand to accept his trophy.

In other major wins, the foreign language film award went to Iranian divorce drama "A Separation." "I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment," said its director, Ashgar Farhadi.

Asked backstage how he thought the Iranian government might respond, he said he really did not know. "I can't predict what's going to happen," he said.

"Rango" claimed best animated film, while "The Iron Lady," won a second award for makeup.


The documentary category saw another major surprise for "Undefeated," a film about football players in a poor struggling community to make their lives better. "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" had been widely picked to win by pundits.

One of the film's makers, T.J. Martin, used an expletive onstage in a sign of his joy, but it was edited out for television audiences. He apologized backstage in the press room.

Comedian Billy Crystal, who returned to emcee the show for the ninth time, had the crowd laughing loudly with an opening video in which he was edited into the year's top movies.

He was kissed by George Clooney on the lips in a scene out of "The Descendants" and even ate a tainted pie from "The Help." He opened with a monologue in which he joked: "there's nothing like watching a bunch of millionaires present each other with golden statues" and sang a comic song about the movies.

Other highlights included stars like Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Adam Sandler and others in brief video vignettes telling audiences why they loved movies. The clips highlighted this year's themes of reminding people what makes movies magical.

Finally, Hollywood's biggest fashion parade on the Oscar red carpet heated up with Michelle Williams in a stunning red dress from Louis Vuitton, "The Help" star Jessica Chastain in a dazzling Alexander McQueen black and gold embroidered gown, while Gwyneth Paltrow chose Tom Ford and white, a popular color.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Syria referendum goes ahead amid military onslaught

Syria referendum goes ahead amid military onslaught
Syrians vote on new constitution
(Reuters) - At least 31 Syrian civilians and soldiers were killed on Sunday in fighting over Syria's future that coincided with a vote on a new constitution that could keep President Bashar al-Assad in power until 2028.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a military bombardment of opposition districts in Homs, now in its fourth week, had killed nine civilians, while rebel fighters had killed four soldiers in clashes in the city.

The British-based Observatory said eight civilians and 10 members of the security forces were killed in violence elsewhere in Syria, scene of what has become an increasingly militarized revolt against four decades of Assad family rule.

Voting was under way in the referendum on a new constitution, which Assad says will lead to a multi-party parliamentary election in three months, but his opponents see as a sick joke given Syria's turmoil.

"What should we be voting for, whether to die by bombardment or by bullets? This is the only choice we have," said Waleed Fares, an activist in the Khalidiyah district of Homs.

"We have been trapped in our houses for 23 days. We cannot go out, except into some alleys. Markets, schools and government buildings are closed, and there is very little movement on the streets because of snipers," he said.

He said another besieged and battered district, Baba Amro, had had no food or water for three days. "Homs in general has no electricity for 18 hours a day." With most foreign reporters barred from Syria or heavily restricted, witness reports are hard to verify.

The Interior Ministry acknowledged obliquely that security conditions had disrupted voting, saying: "The referendum on a new constitution is taking place in a normal way in most provinces so far, with a large turnout, except in some areas."

The Syrian government, backed by Russia, China and Iran, and undeterred by Western and Arab pressure to halt the carnage, says it is fighting foreign-backed "armed terrorist groups."


Prime Minister Adel Safar, asked about opposition calls for a boycott, said this showed a lack of interest in dialogue.

"There are some groups that have a Western and foreign agenda and do not want reforms in Syria and want to divert Syria's steadfastness," he told reporters in Damascus.

"We are not concerned with this. We care about ... spreading democracy and freedom in the country," Safar said.

"If there was a genuine desire for reform, there would have been movement from all groups, especially the opposition, to start dialogue immediately with the government to achieve the reforms and implement them on the ground."

The outside world has been powerless to restrain Assad's drive to crush the 11-month-old revolt, which has the potential to slide into a sectarian conflict between Syria's Sunni Muslim majority and the president's minority Alawite sect.

Unwilling to intervene militarily and unable to get the U.N. Security Council to act in the teeth of Russian and Chinese opposition, Western powers have imposed their own sanctions on Syria and backed an Arab League call for Assad to step down.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned on Sunday of the perils of any foreign intervention.

"I think there is every possibility of a civil war. Outside intervention would not prevent that, it would probably expedite it," she told BBC television in an interview.

"We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region: al Qaeda, Hamas and those who are on our terrorist list claiming to support the opposition. You have many Syrians more worried about what could come next ...

"If you bring in automatic weapons, which you can maybe smuggle across the border, what do they do against tanks and heavy artillery? There is such a much more complex set of factors."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the referendum was "nothing but a farce."

"Sham votes cannot contribute to a solution of the crisis. Assad needs to put an end to the violence and clear the way for a political transition," he said in a statement.


The military onslaught on parts of Homs has created harrowing conditions for civilians, rebels and journalists.

A video posted by activists on YouTube showed Mohammad al-Mohammad, a doctor at a makeshift clinic in Baba Amro, holding a 15-year-old boy hit in the neck by shrapnel and spitting blood.

"It is late at night and Baba Amro is still being bombarded. We can do nothing for this boy," said the doctor, who has also been treating Western journalists wounded in the city.

American correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the bombardment of Homs last week and two other Western journalists were wounded. The group is still trapped there despite Red Cross efforts to extricate them.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday it was still unable to evacuate distressed civilians from Baba Amro. After a day of talks with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters, it said there were "no concrete results."

In Hama, another city with a bloody record of resistance to Baathist rule, one activist said nobody was taking part in the referendum. "We will not vote on a constitution drafted by our killer," he said by satellite telephone, asking not to be named.

If the constitution is approved in the vote, a foregone conclusion, it would drop an article making Assad's Baath party the leader of state and society, allow political pluralism and enact a presidential limit of two seven-year terms.

But the limit will not be enforced retrospectively, meaning that Assad, already in power for 11 years, could serve another two terms after his current one expires in 2014.

Dozens of people lined up to vote in two polling stations visited by a Reuters journalist in Damascus. "I've come to vote for President Bashar, God protect him and give him victory over his enemies," said Samah Turkmani, in his 50s.

Another voter, Majed Elias, said: "This is a national duty, whether I agree or not, I have to come and vote."

This is Syria's third referendum since Assad inherited power from his late father. The first installed him as president in 2000 with an official 97.29 percent 'Yes' vote. The second renewed his term seven years later with 97.62 percent in favor.

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Want an iPad 3? Sell Your iPad 2 Now

Apple iPad 3
A baby with iPad 2
Listen up, Apple fans: save your personal files to your iCloud in the sky, and delete your apps – because the time is nigh to sell your iPad 2.

Re-sale prices for the iPad 2 will fall as the official launch date for the iPad 3 — widely expected to be March 7 — edges closer, experts say. Consumers can expect to see a steep decline in value in the two to three weeks prior to the unveiling of the newer device, says Mark LoCastro, spokesman for sale aggregator site “You’ll receive a higher resale value for your used device if you part with it now, rather than waiting for the newer generation to be announced,” he says.

The re-sale price follows the same trajectory as the iPhone, experts say. As reported, the iPhone 4 declined 20% to 25% in value on re-sale sites during the immediate launch period of the iPhone 4S, but this leveled out as the excitement over the launch subsided. The iPad 2 will likely experience a similar percentage decline after the iPad 3 is announced, says Ashley Halberstadt, a spokeswoman for re-sale site  That said, LoCastro says re-sale sites want to offer aggressive pricing now in order to buy up as many units as possible while people are looking to sell — so he doesn’t rule out an uptick in price on the day the iPad 3 is announced.

However, if Apple decides to continue selling the iPad 2 at a discount alongside the spanking new iPad 3, the re-sale market for old tablets will experience an even bigger hit, LoCastro says. “This is just a rumor and many are skeptical, but if it proves true the trade-in value for your used iPad 2 will immediately plummet,” he says. (Apple did not respond to requests for comment.) That said, the value of Wi-Fi only iPads typically hold up better on the re-sale market because they don’t involve buyers taking out a two-year data plan, Halberstadt says.

Prices vary on re-sale sites, too. will pay $272 for a 16-gigabyte iPad 2 in “good” condition– a 45% depreciation on the price of a new $499 iPad 2., a competing re-sale site, will buy a similar iPad 2 for $260. Both sites offer “lock-in” prices for an agreed period of time before the tablet sells. Nextworth has a lock-in period of 21 days, while Gazelle pledges a slightly more generous 30-day lock-in period.

More adventurous consumers may prefer holding onto their iPad 2 until the last minute and selling it on eBay themselves, says Yung Trang, president of Currently, the iPad 2 is selling on eBay for around $300, a far more attractive price for sellers than both Netxtworth and Gazelle, he says. Plus, Trang says people may be reluctant to part with their iPad 2 now — if only because they will be left empty handed until the spring, when the new iPad is expected to actually go on sale. “That’s my dilemma,” he says. “The question really is this: Is the incremental $50 to 100 you gain now worth not having an iPad for nearly a month?” The alternative, he says, is give the used iPad to your children.

News by Yahoo

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Twelve killed in protests across Afghanistan

Twelve killed in protests over Koran burning
Add caption
(Reuters) - Twelve people were killed on Friday in the bloodiest day yet in protests that have raged across Afghanistan over the desecration of copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO military base with riot police and soldiers on high alert braced for more violence.

The burning of the Korans at the Bagram compound earlier this week has deepened public mistrust of NATO forces struggling to stabilize Afghanistan before foreign combat troops withdraw in 2014.

Hundreds of Afghans marched toward the palace of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, while on the other side of the capital protesters hoisted the white flag of the Taliban.

Chanting "Death to America!" and "Long live Islam!," protesters also threw rocks at police in Kabul, while Afghan army helicopters circled above.

Friday is a holy day and the official weekly holiday in Afghanistan and mosques in the capital drew large crowds, with police in pick-up trucks posted on nearby streets.

Armed protesters took refuge in shops in the eastern part of the city, where they killed one demonstrator, said police at the scene. In another Kabul rally, police said they were unsure who fired the shots that killed a second protester.

Seven more protesters were killed in the western province of Herat, two more in eastern Khost province and one in the relatively peaceful northern Baghlan province, health and local officials said. In Herat, around 500 men charged at the U.S. consulate.

U.S. President Barack Obama had sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for the unintentional burning of the Korans at NATO's main Bagram air base, north of Kabul, after Afghan laborers found charred copies while collecting rubbish.

Muslims consider the Koran to be the literal word of God and treat each copy with deep reverence. Desecration is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy.

Afghanistan wants NATO to put those responsible on public trial.

In neighboring U.S. ally Pakistan, about 400 members of a hardline Islamist group staged protests. "If you burn the Koran, we will burn you," they shouted.

To Afghanistan's west, Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami said the U.S. had purposely burned the Korans. "These apologies are fake. The world should know that America is against Islam," he said in a speech broadcast live on state radio.

"It (the Koran burning) was not a mistake. It was an intentional move, done on purpose."

Most Westerners have been confined to their heavily fortified compounds, including at the sprawling U.S. embassy complex and other diplomatic missions, as protests that have killed a total of 23 people, including two U.S. soldiers, rolled into their fourth day. The embassy, in a message on the microblogging site Twitter, urged U.S. citizens to "please be safe out there" and expanded movement restrictions to relatively peaceful northern provinces, where large demonstrations also occurred Thursday, including the attempted storming of a Norwegian military base.

The Taliban urged Afghan security forces Thursday to "turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders" and repeatedly urged Afghans to kill, beat and capture NATO soldiers.

Germany, which has the third-largest foreign presence in the NATO-led war, pulled out several weeks early of a small base in the northern Takhar province Friday over security concerns, a defense ministry spokesman said.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Iran has expanded sensitive nuclear work: U.N. agency

Iran's Nuclear Plan
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiling a nuclear projects
(Reuters) - Iran has sharply stepped up its controversial uranium enrichment drive, the U.N. nuclear agency said on Friday in a report that will further inflame Israeli fears the Islamic Republic is pushing ahead with atomic bomb plans.

The nuclear watchdog also gave details of its mission to Tehran this week where Iran failed to respond to allegations of research relevant to developing nuclear arms - a blow to the possible resumption of diplomatic talks that could help calm worries about a new war in the Middle East.

"The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a quarterly report about Iran issued to member states.

Iran's increase of work that can have both civilian and military purposes underlines that it has no intention of backing down in a long-running dispute with the West that has sparked fears of war.

U.S. crude futures extended a rally on the IAEA's findings, which added to concerns that Iran's tensions with the West would escalate. It gained more than $2 to hit the highest intraday price in nine months.

The White House said the IAEA report confirmed that Iran was violating U.N. Security Council resolutions with its nuclear enrichment program.

"When combined with its continued stonewalling of international inspectors, Iran's actions demonstrate why Iran has failed to convince the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful," White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

In what would be a big expansion, Iran has increased the number of centrifuge machines enriching uranium - material that can be used to make atomic bombs if refined much further - by roughly a third since late last year, the report indicated.

Preparatory work to install thousands more centrifuges is under way, potentially shortening the time needed to make high-grade uranium for a nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its nuclear program is exclusively for civilian purposes, but its refusal to curb enrichment has drawn increasingly tough sanctions on its oil exports.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA said the report had vindicated its position and insisted Tehran had no intention of giving up its nuclear march.

"The IAEA report indicated that all Iran's nuclear activities are under the supervision of the agency," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh as saying.

"It shows again that Iran's nuclear activity is peaceful."

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Floating house rises to flooding challenge

Floating house rises to flooding challenge
An "amphibious house" design was recently granted planning permission
London (CNN) -- Building a home with a floor beneath ground on a plot next to a flood-prone river might seem like a recipe for disaster. But not when it's designed to float.

The "amphibious house" was recently granted planning permission for construction on a island on the River Thames in Marlow -- a small town 35 miles west of London.

The upper part of the house is constructed from lightweight timber, according to its creators Baca Architects, while a concrete basement level sits inside a "wet dock" consisting of a base slab and four retaining walls.

Should the worst happen the house turns into a "free-floating pontoon" with vertical guideposts running up the building's exterior preventing it from drifting off downstream.

Sea level rise: Impacts and mitigation measures

A terraced garden will also surround the property encouraging incremental flooding while also helping manage run-off when water levels start to subside.

Richard Coutts, director of Baca Architects said in a statement: "From the outset, we sought the expert advice of the (UK) Environment Agency to determine the most appropriate construction model to mitigate flood risk on the site and provide a safe dwelling, sympathetic to its setting and fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

"Amphibious design is one of a host of solutions that can enable residents to live safely and to adapt to the challenges of climate change," he added.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girls basketball: Gordon's career-high leads South Charleston

 Girls basketball
Girl's Basketball

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Never behind and never in doubt, South Charleston rode the shooting stroke of senior Brittany Gordon to the Class AAA Region 4 Section 1 championship game.

Gordon posted a career-high 42 points to lead the Black Eagles in a sectional semifinal game they never trailed for an eventual 89-45 win against St. Albans at South Charleston High School on Wednesday night.

South Charleston Coach Gary Greene said Gordon's offensive success was a result of St. Albans' decision to pack the interior.

"St. Albans decided they weren't going to let us get anything inside, so they were double- and triple-teaming the post in there ball-side and it opened up the top," he said. "Brittany just took what they gave her. They were doubling down so much, even when she was outside the 3. She got some great looks, as well as some of our other guards."

Gordon, a guard, finished the game 15-of-25 from the field, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. Gordon scored 11 points in each of the first two quarters as the Black Eagles built a 50-23 halftime lead.

Gordon said she agreed with her coach's assessment that the Red Dragons' inside-first defense led to her offensive outburst.

"They were doubling down on our post players and it left a lot open for the guards - I was on tonight," she said.

Red Dragons Coach Scott James said his team lacked the fire early in the game as St. Albans (7-17) fell behind and Class AAA No. 3 South Charleston took advantage.

"We've got to come out with a purpose every single game and with that, intensity follows," he said. "At times we showed that, but tonight was a shame that we had to go out the season this way, but my hat's off to South Charleston. They did a great job."
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Helicopter crash kills 7 Marines

Helicopter crash kills 7 Marines
Helicopters at exercise
SAN DIEGO - Two Marine Corps helicopters collided over a remote section of the California desert during a nighttime exercise, killing seven Marines in one of the Corps' deadliest training accidents in years.

There were no survivors in the latest in a series of crashes involving troops from Camp Pendleton, officials said Thursday.

Two Marines were aboard an AH-1W Cobra and the rest were in a UH-1 Huey utility helicopter when the crash occurred Wednesday night near the Chocolate Mountains along the California-Arizona border, said Lt. Maureen Dooley with Miramar Air Base in San Diego.

The weather was mild on Wednesday when the helicopters were flying as part of a two-week standard training called "Scorpion Fire" that involved a squadron of about 450 troops from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The wing has about 17,500 Marines and sailors, including six helicopter squadrons that fly both Cobras and Hueys. It's headquartered at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and also has personnel stationed at Camp Pendleton and Yuma.

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Europe's banks bleed from Greek debt crisis

Europe's banks bleed from Greek debt crisis
(Reuters) - Greece's debt problems drove a slew of heavy losses across the European banking sector on Thursday, and bosses warned the euro zone crisis would continue to threaten earnings.

From France to Germany, Britain to Belgium, some of the region's biggest banks lined up to reveal billions of euros lost through writedowns on Greek loans.

"We are in the worst economic crisis since 1929," Credit Agricole (CAGR.PA) chief executive Jean-Paul Chifflet said.

Credit Agricole reported a record quarterly net loss of 3.07 billion euros ($4.06 billion), performing worse than expected from the cost of shrinking its balance sheet and after a 220 million euro charge on its Greek debt.

"We think 2012 is going to still be a tense period," Chifflet said, adding: "We're hoping that our results will be largely better than in 2011.

Europe's banks have already written down billions of euros from losses on Greek government bonds and loans, and a deal agreed this week with its creditors will inflict losses of 74 percent on bondholders.

"We can't say that the writedowns are over," said Franklin Pichard, director at Barclays France. "Even if some can say that the worst is over, we are only at a new stage in terms of provisioning and not necessarily at the end."

That is because, despite the bond swap deal, bondholders could suffer further hits if Greece's economy fails to recover.

Britain's Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) has marked its Greek bonds at a 79 percent loss -- or 1.1 billion pounds -- for 2011. The state-owned bank posted a fourth quarter loss of nearly 2 billion pounds on Thursday.


Problems in Europe's banking sector are far wider than Greece, however.

"We have reduced the balance sheet of RBS by over 700 billion pounds of assets. That is roughly twice the size of the entire national debt of Greece," said RBS boss Stephen Hester.

The region's banks are still repairing the damage of the financial crisis and shrinking their assets. They must also find 115 billion euros by the middle of this year to shore up their balance sheets against future shocks. But any weakening in the economy will hit earnings and make that harder to achieve.

Germany's Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), whose fourth-quarter earnings were spoiled by a 700 million euro hit on Greek sovereign debt, needs to find 5.3 billion euros to meet the stringent new capital requirements set by Europe's banking regulator. It has now lost more than 2 billion euros on its Greek bonds.

Commerzbank said it could reduce some of its shortfall by shedding risky assets, though the debt crisis still had the potential to disrupt earnings.

"The high degree of uncertainty associated with the European sovereign debt crisis will ... continue to pose challenges for us," Chief Executive Martin Blessing said.


European governments are hoping to avoid more state bailouts to prop up the banking sector, and to limit the fallout should any bank collapse.

Bailed out Franco-Belgian bank Dexia (DEXI.BR) warned on Thursday it risked going out of business. It suffered a 2011 net loss of 11.6 billion euros, hit by its break-up and exposure to Greek debt and other toxic assets such as U.S. mortgage-backed securities.

Dexia, which accepted a state-led break-up and the nationalization of its Belgian banking arm in October and is now little more than a holding of bonds in run off, booked a 3.4 billion euro loss on its holding of Greek sovereign bonds.

French investment bank Natixis (CNAT.PA), rescued from near-collapse during the 2008 financial crisis by a government-backed merger of its retail cooperative parents, reported a milder-than-expected 32 percent decline in quarterly profits.

Despite the weak results, banks still found room for bonuses.

RBS, 82 percent owned by the British government, paid out almost 1 billion pounds in bonuses to staff in 2011. Credit Agricole said it would cut trader bonuses by 20 percent.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To Get Cheap Car Insurance?

how to get cheap car insurance company
Secure A Best Car Insurance To Overcome Any Accident

We originally started out with the 3 best ways to get cheap car insurance however our customers wanted to know even more ways. So we have compiled a list of 25 ways to get cheap car insurance below.

1. Comparison Shop

Finding the most affordable car insurance isn’t as hard as it once was. With so many different car insurance agents located all around the country, and some available exclusively online, your options are now more plentiful than ever before. The hard part is sorting them out in order to make sure you are getting the most affordable rates while still maintaining the exact amount of coverage you need.

The first thing you should do when looking for cheap car insurance is comparison shop. Consult your area’s local phone book, call or visit agencies near you, and remember to take notes regarding prices.

Next you’ll want to do some online research to find out your online car insurance options. Again, take notes and compare these to the notes you have concerning local agents.

Finally, ask your friends and family members what insurer they use, and ask for any recommendations or warnings they may have about other agencies. You’re sure to receive an unbiased opinion every time.

2. Age-Based Discounts

Many younger drivers may not realize this, but your age is an important factor in setting the exact price of your auto insurance premium. You’ll typically see premiums lowered once you hit the age of 25, with discounts that can sometimes be as high as 20%, though other factors such as marital status and driving record are also taken into consideration.

The lowest premiums associated with cheap car insurance rates are typically given to drivers between the ages of 25 and 55. This age group is considered to be amongst the safest drivers on the road; certainly safer than teenagers and elderly drivers.

Depending on your insurance agent you may also see discounts as you age beyond 25. These discounts usually cease once a driver reaches their mid 50’s, though you may be eligible to receive other discounts on your car insurance at that time.

3. Move to a Lower-Crime Area.

The location of your home as well as your daily commute to the workplace is also taken into consideration by insurance agents when determining your car insurance premiums. This is a factor for a number of good reasons.

Individuals who live and park their car in wealthy neighborhoods are statistically less likely to have their car stolen, broken into, or damaged while it is parked overnight. Secondly, those who have shorter commutes to and from work are statistically less likely to be involved in an accident as they spend less time on the road than drivers with longer commutes.

This is why agents always make sure your home address and telephone number is correct. They use this information to determine if you live in a low-risk neighborhood or a high-risk area, and they compare with your employer’s information to determine how long of a commute you have back and forth each day. This will determine the exact rate of your cheap car insurance.

4. Consider Getting a Different Vehicle if Savings Warrant it

Did you know that insurance on a honda can be more expensive than insurance on a Jaguar?

The exact make and specific model of your vehicle is also used to determine how much you pay for cheap car insurance. This information is important to your insurance agent for a number of reasons.

The newer the car, the higher the repair/replacement cost.

On the other hand, First of all, some vehicles are simply more reliable than others. A used vehicle that’s been on the road for 20 years is not nearly as reliable as a brand new car. Though it may be more affordable to buy the older, used car, you may wind up paying higher insurance rates because of it.

Owners of sports cars and luxury vehicles can also expect higher premiums than most other drivers. These automobiles are usually capable of much greater speeds than other vehicles on the road, and some may even have upgrades or aftermarket parts added on. All of this increases the risk of an accident or breakdown, and your agent will charge you extra for the coverage.

5. Increasing Your Deductible Can Save You $100′s a Year

A deductible is the amount of money you are actually required to pay out in the event of an accident before your insurer will pay out on your claim. The amount of your deductible is also one of the biggest factors in determining your auto insurance premiums. In fact, the larger this deductible is, the less you’ll have to pay for coverage on a month-to-month basis.

Most drivers don’t realize this, but most agents will actually allow you to raise the deductible amount in order to lower your monthly rates. If you’re looking for cheap car insurance then this is a good deal for you; especially if you have a clean driving record as you may not ever have to actually pay this deductible. Ask your agent if they offer this service and, if they do, ask them how much you’ll be able to save by going with an increased deductible. The answer may surprise you.

6. Consolidate Your Policies With One Company

If you currently have multiple insurance policies through several different companies then you may be able to consolidate them so you just have to deal with one insurance agent. For example, many individuals have separate policies on their house, their car, and maybe even a boat or recreational vehicle.

Combining all of these separate policies into one, or at least choosing one company to handle all of your policies, can eliminate a number of hassles. It can also lower the amount of money you pay each month for insurance all around.

Other types of insurance include health, dental, life, and travel. Depending on the company you are working with, you may be able to combine these types of insurance to receive cheap car insurance as well. This will save you even more money on a monthly basis.

7. Check For Multiple Vehicle Discounts

Many individuals own multiple cars, and most of these owners keep insurance on all of their vehicles year round. Others may own seasonal cars, show cars, or other vehicles that are only brought out on rare occasions.

If you own multiple vehicles for whatever reason, you can consolidate them all onto one insurance policy when looking for cheap car insurance. The benefits of this include less paper mail being sent to your house as well as a reduction in your insurance premiums each month.

Multiple drivers can also be added to an insurance policy, allowing you to further reduce your auto insurance premiums. This includes spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, and even roommates. Remember to comparison shop and do the math beforehand, however; in some cases it is cheaper to hold policies with separate insurance companies.

In fact, even if you have a vehicle thats not working, adding it to your insurance policy can save you a lot of money in some cases.

8. Stay Loyal

Loyalty means a lot in any business, and the car insurance business is no different. In fact, many auto insurance companies are now offering reduced premiums as a way of rewarding some of their most loyal customers.

When looking for cheap car insurance, agent loyalty can be your best friend. Once you find an insurance company that offers the amount of coverage you need for the right price, develop a relationship with them. Get to know your local insurance agents and most importantly, stick with the same company year in and year out. After all, if you’re already receiving great rates and the coverage you need there’s simply no reason to go elsewhere and look for a new policy with a new company.

Loyalty also relates to making your payments on time. Paying your premiums on or before the due date every single month will help you avoid late fees and additional fines or charges.

9. Get Liability Only if Your Car is Older

Most drivers automatically opt for full coverage on their vehicles when in reality, not every one of us needs full coverage. If you’re looking for cheap car insurance, try to find a policy that covers only the areas you need and nothing more.

If you already have full coverage insurance, it’s never too late to ask your agent for a decrease in coverage. Towing fees and rental car fees that are covered by a policy may sound good, but if you have a second car then you might not ever need to use a rental car. Furthermore, some individuals may hold memberships elsewhere that grant them access to reduced towing or automobile service charges.

If your vehicle is valued at less than $1,000, you may also want to consider dropping your collision and comprehensive coverage. In cases like this it might not be worth it financially to repair your vehicle after a crash or accident.

This can save 50% in some cases.

10. Get Storage Insurance if Your Not Driving a Vehicle Year Round

If your vehicle is used as a seasonal vehicle or a show vehicle you may not require full insurance year round. For vehicles that are put in storage for any amount of time, storage insurance is your best option for cheap car insurance.

Note that this type of insurance is not legal for driving on, though it will pay out in the event your vehicle is damaged during storage. Depending on the exact make and model of the car in question, and depending on the type of damage that has been done, repairing the vehicle without insurance may end up costing you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

As long as you maintain storage insurance on your vehicle while it is being stored away, no matter the location, then you can save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and money if something does happen to your vehicle.

11. Improve and Fix your Credit Score

Your credit score affects many different things in your life, not the least of which is your auto insurance rates. If you’re looking for cheap car insurance, one of the best things you can do is clean up your credit score; it may be costing you thousands of dollars annually on your car insurance payments.

Keep your credit score clean by paying bills on time, paying back loans on time, and avoiding maxing out your credit cards. Bounced checks and bank overdrafts can also hurt your credit score, not to mention your pocketbook as well.

You should also request a copy of your credit report on an annual basis, even if you know your report is clean. Identity theft is on the rise, and many innocent victims could have been spared if they only would have been monitoring their credit report more closely.

12. Clean Your Driving Record

Maintaining a clean driving record is the key to getting dirt cheap car insurance from your agent. Your first accident alone may result in as much as a 40% increase on your monthly premium, so driving carefully while on the roadways really can help keep your auto insurance as affordable as possible.

Most auto insurance companies offer a discount for safe drivers, though the exact definition and criteria of “safe” driving and a “clean” driving record will likely vary from agent to agent and company to company. Remember that agents aren’t likely to bring this discount up on their own, so don’t be afraid to ask them about it as long as you feel you have the clean driving record to back it up.

Also remember that if you do happen to get into an accident while on a program like this it’s going to be extremely difficult to regain your safe driving benefits and you’ll certainly see a rate increase at least for the first couple years.

Remember that if you ever get a ticket, going to the driving school may help as well.

13. Vehicle Safety Issues

The safety of your vehicle will also be taken into consideration by your agent when you are trying to get cheap car insurance. The technology and features seen in newer vehicles make them far safer than older vehicles, so you can get a start on lowering your premiums either by having updated safety features professionally installed into an outdated vehicle, or simply by purchasing a more recent car.

Things to look for when taking vehicle safety into mind include automatic seatbelts, as this feature almost guarantees that both the driver and passenger will be wearing their belts at all time, and both driver-side and passenger-side airbags. Airbags in the rear seats of the vehicle can also help to improve the safety rating of your car, thereby lowering your monthly car insurance rates in the process.

Make sure your windshields and windows are free of cracks and chips, and make sure all of your mirrors are intact. If your vehicle is visually inspected by an agent, faults like this will surely result in higher insurance rates.

14. Get A Security Device

Exactly where you park your car at night is a big factor when calculating your auto insurance premiums, but having advanced vehicle security may also be factored in. If your vehicle is already equipped with a modern, functioning alarm system, mention it to your agent; you may be able to get a reduced premium because of it.

If your vehicle doesn’t already have an alarm and you want cheap car insurance, it may be worthwhile to pick up a brand new system and have it installed. Today’s vehicle alarm systems are not nearly as expensive as they used to be, they are quick and easy to install for anyone with common automotive knowledge, and they can save you a lot of money not only on your car insurance, but in case someone tries to break-in to your vehicle as well. With all of the reasons in front of you, it’s hard to say no to a car alarm.

Since every company has different rules and discounts, check with them to see which security devices will give you the best discounts.

15. Park Off-Street, or Even in a Garage

While vandalism is more obvious in certain parts of the country, there is no doubt that the trend is on the rise throughout the entire country. Unfortunately, one of the top targets for today’s thieves and vandals include cars that are parked out in the open and left unlocked and unattended. They are the easiest targets to hit, and many drivers have trouble finding cheap car insurance because of it.

If your car is parked in a private garage on your property, however, you are likely to see a sharp decrease in your auto insurance coverage. This is not to say that a garage is a foolproof method of protecting your vehicle or your property, but it can help deter thieves. Insurance agents know this, and they’re willing to charge you a little bit less if you are able to park in a garage at night. Even a simple carport may help lower your insurance rates; it never hurts to ask.

16. Verify Accuracy on Your Policy

It never hurts to browse through your insurance policy to make sure everything is correct. Make sure you are being given the right amount of coverage and paying the right price for your premiums. You’ll also want to make sure that your personal information is all accurate, as an error here could end up costing you money every month.

If you want cheap car insurance, it is crucial that you take your time and double-check all of your information. If you find any kind of errors, make sure to report these to your insurance agent as soon as possible, preferably immediately. Some of the most common errors include birth date and marital status errors, but these two mistakes are also amongst the most costly. Be certain that this information is accurate in order to receive the absolute best car insurance rates from your insurer.

17. Retirement Discounts

Depending on the exact area in which you reside, retirement typically comes at 55 or 65 years of age. Certain insurance agents offer discounts to retired drivers, and this is done for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, retired drivers usually spend less time on the road than most other drivers. Without a daily commute to and from work, retirees typically put far less mileage on their vehicles than drivers who have to drive to work and home each day.

If you want cheap car insurance and you are 55 years of age or older, don’t be afraid to tell your insurance agent. A retiree discount can make a huge impact on the amount of money you pay each month, but many don’t even realize this. Again, this is a benefit that isn’t typically offered outright by your agent, so you’ll need to ask about it in order to gain the discount.

18. Affiliate Discounts

Nearly every car insurance company offers different discounts based on your personal group affiliation. Like with most other discounts, this one is not usually advertised by your insurance agent. Never be afraid to mention the groups you are a part of and ask your agent if there any discounts available for you.

The most common group affiliations cited to receive discounts on their auto insurance include your work, college or university, military organizations, and many more. No matter how small or unknown the group or organization may seem to you, don’t hesitate to ask about a discount; it could be your ticket to cheap car insurance through the insurer that you already use.

Depending on your personal situation, it may be cost-effective to join a group solely based on the reduction of your auto insurance policy. Ask your insurer if they can provide a list of groups that provide these types of discounts, and look into joining any that interest you.

19. Take An Advance Driving Course

Driving classes are offered by a variety of organizations, both public and private. If there are any types of driving classes available through your insurance agent, you may want to consider attending and completing them in order to find cheap car insurance through an existing insurer. If you are unaware of any classes being offered in your area ask your agent; they’ll be glad to help. Be aware that if you take a class and fail, however, you may end up with an increased insurance rate instead.

There are many different types of driving classes, but defensive driving classes are usually the most effective at reducing your car insurance premiums. Note that you will probably be required to show your agent proof of completion (usually in the form of a certificate) in order to be eligible for any benefits, so you won’t be able to fake it.

20. Get Good Grades & Ask For Student Discounts

Getting good grades is important in school, but it can also help lower your auto insurance premium as well. In fact, if you are looking for cheap car insurance one of the best things you can do is succeed in school.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a teenage driver still in high school and driving under a parent’s policy or a student in college with your own vehicle and insurance, there are usually many discounts available to you for receiving good grades.

Of course you’re going to need proof of your educational achievements, so get a copy of your most recent report card and bring it in to your local insurance agent. You may be surprised to find an instant reduction in the amount of money you pay each month for car insurance.

21. Drive Less: Walk, Bike, Carpool, Take Public Transportation

The amount of time you spend on the road, as well as the actual mileage you put on your vehicle can also be factored in when determining your cheap car insurance premium as well. If you don’t drive very often and don’t put many miles on your vehicle, then you’re likely to be eligible for a rate reduction. Like with many of the other methods that can be used to decrease your premium, however, you’re going to have to ask for this discount specifically.

Auto insurance discounts for low mileage are more actually more common than you might think. Insurance companies realize that there’s not as much risk involved with drivers who aren’t on the roads very often, and they’re usually willing to adjust your rates accordingly. If your current insurance company doesn’t offer any kind of low mileage discount, you may want to shop around until you find one that does. The amount of money you may be able to save is truly worth the time and effort.

22. Make Larger Payments on Your Premium

You have more control over the specific payment arrangements that are made with your agent than you may think. In fact, you can actually choose to pay off your entire premium, either on a 6 month or yearly basis, and save quite a bit of money in the end.

Of course paying in full isn’t always a viable option in every scenario, and some have no choice but to make monthly payments. Some even struggle to make that.

Many people don’t realize this, but if you are making monthly payments to your insurance company then you’re not getting the cheap car insurance that you should be. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about paying in full. You’re likely to see a smile on their face as well as receive a good discount on your car insurance.

23. Verify VIN Accuracy

Many drivers don’t know this, but if the VIN (vehicle identification number) of your car is off even by one digit, then you’re probably not receiving the correct auto insurance quotes. The VIN is used to identify your vehicle, and is unique to each specific vehicle. It is also used by law enforcement to positively identify your vehicle in a wreck or if it is stolen. If your VIN is entered incorrectly you might be getting overcharged through absolutely no fault of your own and without even knowing it.

Being aware of your vehicle’s exact VIN and double-checking its accuracy on your specific policy is something that few drivers do, yet something simple that nearly everybody can benefit from. VINs vary greatly, though all cars manufactured after 1980 feature VIN consisting of 17 characters.

24. Review your Policy for Unnecessary Add-Ons.

Since automobile insurance companies are far more numerous than they were just 10 years ago, some companies have started offering benefits and plans that are aimed at helping the driver. However, many of these packages are added to your normal insurance policy automatically and with your knowledge, and some of them aren’t even worth the amount of extra money you’ll have to pay on your insurance premiums.

Some plans offer to replace your car with a new one of equal value if your car is wrecked in an accident, but this is actually referring to the value of your car at the time of the wreck and not at the time of the original purchase. Factor in depreciation, and you’re looking at recouping only a fraction of what you paid for your car. These types of “benefits” can be dropped from your auto insurance in order to make sure you are getting cheap car insurance from your insurer.

25. Go Green!

With global warming and other environmental concerns more publicized than ever before, “green” vehicles are now being pushed as replacements for our modern vehicles that are already on the road. In order to add an increased incentive for purchasing one of these environmentally-friendly vehicles, many car insurance companies are offering lower auto insurance premiums to owners of “green” or environmentally-friendly vehicles.

While the cost of a new vehicle might not be worth the lower premium, if you are in the market for a new car then you may as well buy an energy efficient model. Not only will it help save the environment, but it will also help you find cheap car insurance rates that you might not have had access to otherwise.

News by Cheap Car Insurance

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adele and Ed Sheeran win at UK music's Brit Awards

Adele in UK music Awards
LONDON (AP) — Soulful songstress Adele capped a momentous year of Grammy Awards triumph and medical woes with a double win at the U.K.'s Brit music awards Tuesday, taking prizes for album of the year and best British female solo artist before making an obscene gesture after the show's host cut her acceptance speech short.

Teen-friendly English troubadour Ed Sheeran won two trophies, including British male solo artist, at an energetic ceremony in London.

It has been a dramatic year for down-to-earth north London diva Adele, who based her chart-topping songs of heartbreak on a rocky relationship.

Her sophomore album "21" won six Grammys last week and has sold more than 6 million copies in the United States alone. But Adele also had to undergo vocal cord surgery in November to fix a potentially career-threatening throat condition.

She delivered a powerhouse performance of her single "Rolling in the Deep" to thousands of fans and industry insiders at London's O2 arena.

"It's been an amazing year," Adele said as she received the female artist statuette from petite pop star Kylie Minogue.

"I feel like a drag queen next to you," joked the winner, who wore a sleek black Burberry gown but towered over Minogue. She thanked her record company "for letting me be the kind of artist I want to be."

The show's host, actor James Corden, cut off Adele's second acceptance speech, prompting the singer to make a rude middle-finger gesture in frustration.

She stressed afterward that it was aimed at industry leaders, not her fans.

"I'm sorry if I offended anyone but it was the suits that offended me," Adele said. "Thank you all very much and thanks to my fans. I don't want them to think I was swearing at them."

The show's broadcaster, ITV, issued a statement apologizing to Adele for cutting her off.

"We regret this happened and we send deepest apologies to Adele that her big moment was cut short tonight due to the live show over-running," ITV said.

The 23-year-old lost out on the British single prize to boy band One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," but took the coveted album of the year award for "21." The statue was presented by singer George Michael, returning to the stage after suffering life-threatening pneumonia in December.

The ceremony also included tributes to two departed divas, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.

Tousle-haired singer-songwriter Sheeran won prizes for solo artist and British breakthrough act.

The red-headed 21-year-old has been panned as bland by some critics, but has amassed legions of young fans through online releases and a relentless calendar of shows.

Sheeran thanked his manager for transforming a "spotty, chubby ginger teenager" into a Brit-winner.

Long derided as dull, the Brits have become a lively celebration of U.K. music and style — and this year's awards come with British music riding high around the world.

"I'm so, so proud to be British and to be flying our flag," said Adele, who has the century's best-selling album so far.

Tuesday's event — which kicked off with Coldplay performing "Charlie Brown" and included live turns from Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, Noel Gallagher, Bruno Mars and Rihanna — brought out a host of stars who blended rock 'n' roll attitude and fashion finery.

Blur frontman Damon Albarn dressed down for the red carpet in jeans and a flat cap, and former Oasis guitarist Gallagher wore a leather jacket. But others struck a snazzier note. Actor Ray Winstone arrived in a pinstriped three-piece suit, complete with watch chain.

Style standouts included Minogue, in a strapless sky blue dress; plump-lipped Internet sensation Lana Del Rey, wearing a floor-length red gown; and Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch, in a lacy peach dress by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.

Coldplay won their fourth best British group trophy, while Foo Fighters were voted best international group.

Bruno Mars took the prize for international male solo artist, and Rihanna won the international female prize for a second year.

The Barbadian singer, who has often been in the news for non-musical reasons since her then-boyfriend Chris Brown attacked her at a pre-Grammy Awards party in 2009, thanked her fans.

"At times when I feel misunderstood, my fans always remind me that it's OK to be myself," she said.

Lana Del Rey appeared moved to be named international breakthrough act.

"This award means much more to me than you know," said the singer, who has gone from Internet-fueled buzz to backlash in record time after a disastrous performance last month on "Saturday Night Live."

Britpop icons Blur received a special prize for their contribution to music.

The four original members — Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree — performed together for the first time since a series of concerts in 2009, offering versions of 1990s hits including "Girls & Boys" and "Parklife."

Most of the awards are chosen by more than 1,000 musicians, critics and record industry figures, with several decided by public vote.

News by Yahoo

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Six Quick-Start Careers

Thinking for right careers
See how you could get into a hot career with just 1-2 years of education.

By Jennifer Berry

Are you feeling stuck in a job you hate? Floundering in a job search that isn't going anywhere?

Don't despair: a quick education program could provide the jolt you need to find the right career.

There is no time like the present to explore your options for going back to school. With many schools offering rolling admissions and even online instruction, it's never been easier to get started.

Career #1 - Human Resources Assistant

For a stable, rewarding career that you can prepare for quickly, consider a career in human resources. As a human resources assistant, you'll be responsible for maintaining important information about your organization's employees - like their earnings, health and life insurance plans, and tax withholdings.

Quick education: You can earn your associate's degree in human resources in two years. If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you can earn a certificate in human resources in just one year.

Good compensation: The average annual income for human resources assistants is $37,840. The top ten percent average at $53,160 a year.*

Career #2 - Paralegal

Intrigued by the law? Prepare for an in-demand career as a paralegal in less than a year. The U.S. Department of Labor expects paralegal jobs to grow 28 percent from 2008 to 2018. As a paralegal, you may prepare arguments, obtain affidavits, and help lawyers prepare for cases.

Quick education: Do you already have a bachelor's degree? If so, you might be able to earn a certificate in paralegal studies in just a few months. If not, consider earning your associate's degree in two years.

Good compensation: Paralegals have an average annual income of $50,080. The highest ten percent earn more than $75,000.

Career #3 - Medical Assistant

The U.S. Department of Labor lists health care as one of the fastest-growing industries in our country. Take part in this boom by completing a medical assistant program in two years or less. As a medical assistant, you'll handle office tasks, take patient medical might even perform basic laboratory tests.

Quick education: You can earn a certificate or diploma in about one year. Another quick education option is an associate's degree in medical assisting, which you can complete in about two years. Even in quick programs, you'll build a variety of skills to help you in your new career, including transcription and insurance processing.

Good compensation: Medical assistants have an average annual income of $29,450. The top ten percent have an average annual wage of $39,970.

Career #4 - Bookkeeper

Join the 2.1 million bookkeepers who are working today with an accounting education program. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 10 percent jump in opportunities through 2018. As a bookkeeper, you'll handle financial records like taxes, accounts payable and receivable, and payroll.

Quick education: Prepare to step into this field by earning an associate's degree in just two years. You'll study subjects like accounting and familiarize yourself with the latest computer software that the job requires.

Good compensation: Bookkeepers, who work in every industry imaginable, have an average annual income of $34,750. The top ten percent can make more than $50,450 a year.

Career #5 - Dental Assistant

Want to get hired as a dental assistant? Well, what are you waiting for? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, jobs for dental assistants are expected to grow 36 percent through 2018. As a dental assistant, you'll make appointments, sterilize equipment, and help dentists during procedures.

Quick education: You could earn a certificate in dental assisting in just one year, or an associate's degree in two years. Many education programs focus on a dental assistant's daily duties, including how to interact with patients and how to help keep the dental office running smoothly.

Good compensation: Dental assistants have an average annual income of $34,000. The top ten percent can average at more than $47,070 a year.

Career #6 - Registered Nurse

If you feel the calling to pursue a registered nursing career, you can prepare for this rewarding profession in two years or less. It's a smart career move too...the U.S. Department of Labor expects job opportunities to soar 22 percent through 2018. As a nurse, you would work with patients, run diagnostic tests, and administer medications.

Quick education: Earn an associate's degree or certificate in nursing in a few years. If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you could enroll in an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to earn your degree in less time.

Good compensation: Registered nurses have an average annual income of $66,530. The top ten percent average at $93,700 a year.

Article by Yahoo

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Top 10 Life Insurance Companies in USA

Top 10 Life Insurance Companies in USA
Happy and secured family
Ideal insurance policy is known as a great investment and is a significant way to be adopted to save the future of your family. If you get prepared with a superb insurance policy it comes to our save when you find yourself in troubled in any situation, as it also helps in gaining the economical strength relating to your children. To decide the true insurance policy, factors like reliability, price, budgets and flexibility play a significant role, and choosing the right life insurance company also becomes a crucial decision. Organizations that stand the top 10 life insurance companies in USA for 2012 can be justified as per their reputation and according to their sales volumes.

Find a list of top 10 insurance coverage companies in USA which enjoys reputation as well as are insurance coverage businesses that register phenomenal growth in their revenues, season after season, and on top of it are esteemed businesses that provide excellent service.

MetLife is a renowned life insurance company in the USA, and it provides Term Life Insurance which gets provided in three modes. Their commitment to provide service to the underprivileged and the marginalized has catapulted MetLife into one of the top life insurance provider, and their Corporate Social responsibility has helped them stay afloat in the healthy competition that prevails in the life insurance market in the USA. Having an international presence, MetLife is one of the top 10 life insurance companies in the USA which also offers Permanent Life Insurance to the citizens of the USA. MetLife happens to be the top life insurer in the USA, and is a leader in retirement and savings policy among the other areas of significance.

Prudential Insurance Company of America happens to be a part pertaining to Prudential Financial and is one of the top notch insurance players that provide life insurance to many in the USA. As one of the top 10 life insurance companies in the USA, this life insurance company offers life insurance policies under five categories, which are the Term Life Insurance, Universal Life Insurance, Whole Life Insurance, Variable Life Insurance and Survivorship Life insurance. To cater to the varied needs of the individuals who seek to acquire life insurance policy, Prudential Insurance Company of America offers insurance under these categories that carry many benefits.

Being a major player to occupy centre stage in the life insurance market in the USA, New York Life Insurance has changed its offerings as in a way to suit the times, and in effect has trimmed their strategy and operations to meet the varied requirements of individuals as well as to fall in line with the market. This life insurance company provides life insurance policies that get classified into four categories, which embrace the term insurance, permanent life insurance, survivorship insurance as well as life insurance for that of business. New York Life Insurance has been receiving highest rankings in the life insurance industry, and the ratings have been provided by the best of insurance rating agencies, as it is undoubtedly a major player to find a place in the top 10 insurance companies in the USA.

The primary focus pertaining to TIAA-CREF is life insurance, and there are various lines of life insurance at TIAA-CREF, which includes level as well as renewable term, apart from that of the universal as well as survivorship life insurance. This insurance company is one among the top financial services organizations in the USA as it offers term insurance in two types and permanent insurance in two types. Headquartered in New York, it has 60 branches spread across the USA, and with its performance, it enters the list of top 10 life insurance companies in the USA. Earning good rankings from the reputed insurance rating agencies, this insurance company is also one of the insurance companies that stays on top when sales is concerned.

MassMutual Financial Group happens to be the marketing name pertaining to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company which has its headquarters at Springfield. As one of the leading insurance companies in the USA, the term-life insurance related to MassMutual offers coverage for that of set periods pertaining to time. The financial strength of this life insurance company as well as its strong performance has registered tremendous growth, and to satiate the needs of clients, MassMutual Financial Group also offers disability income insurance, retirement plan services, long term care insurance as well as annuities. As one of the best insurance companies in the USA, it strives to help clients in the decision making process with respect to their financial planning.

Lincoln National is one of the reputed insurance companies in the USA, and the types pertaining to life insurance that comes from the stable of Lincoln National include Term Life, Universal Life, Linked Benefit Life and Variable Universal Life. Known for their focus to provide professional financial advice, Lincoln National provides a wide range of insurance products that addresses the long-term needs of the individuals seeking insurance policies, as it also offers annuities. It is one of the successful as well as the largest of life insurance companies found in the USA, and is a strong contender to enter the list of top 10 life insurance companies in the USA.

Consistently rated as the one of best, Genworth Financial life Insurance is headquartered in Richmond as it offers traditional term life insurance, universal life insurance and term life insurance with that of premium options. As one of the prime providers of life insurance in the USA, it also finds a place in the top 10 insurance companies in the USA. The financial strength of this insurance company in meeting the obligations related to policy holders doesn’t come as surprise to many, as this factor has not only earned recognition for Genworth Financial but also has been a major reason for the top insurance rating companies to shower praises on this insurance provider.

American Family Life Assurance Company or the AFLAC happens to be a top rated US insurance companies as it unveils a host of health and accident insurance policies, which comes as perfect solutions to individuals as well as to employers. Based in Columbus, AFLAC is a behemoth, as it possesses massive assets and the clientele encompasses sea of individuals found around the globe, and which is also a top life insurance player in the USA. It strives to offer affordable life insurance products to employers and customers, as innovative strategic marketing that entwines with that of well-researched as well as quality products have paved way for value for money and cost-effective life insurance plans, which ultimately has pushed this life insurance company into the list of top 10 life insurance companies in the USA.

Northwestern Mutual is one of the recognized players in the field of life insurance in the USA, and the life insurance policies that come from Northwestern Mutual proffers many benefits, as they also pave way for many add-ons. The benefits like Guaranteed Death Benefit, Guaranteed Minimum Cash Value and other such benefits have been lapped by many clients, and Northwestern Mutual, which is one of the top 10 life insurance companies in the USA also unveils additional purchase benefits, indexed protection benefits as well as waiver of premium that come as other benefits offered by Northwestern Mutual

Principal Financial is another reputed life insurance company in the USA that provides insurance policies for businesses as well as individuals. Quality service is an inherent feature of this life insurance company, and apart from offering life insurance it also offers dental and vision insurance. The life insurance encompasses varieties like term insurance, survivorship life insurance, group health insurance among the other types, and it also provides aid for individual retirement planning. It is one of the top 10 life insurance companies in the USA that provides excellent services.

If you think that a life insurance company in the USA of repute has been left out in this list, please let us know as well as provide your comments.